23 June 2010


It's been a while. I'd love to say my silence has been because I'm off traversing the world or something, but that is simply not the case. I've been in a bad spot in life for a little while. One of those ruts that are seemingly impossible to get out of. I wasn't happy with where I was in life. I let some of the most minute things keep me down. I had breakdowns about my dad I've been suppressing for well over a year. I lost my appetite. I had no drive to train. I was frustrated with my ankle not being 100% after so long. I work all the time, and hardly ever see my friends I used to train with daily. I felt alone and like I had no one to talk to. It was depression in one of it's darkest forms.

I realized what was going on about two weeks ago. I was swimming at Jason's.... I'm usually in the lead pack that swims from beach to beach to get about two miles in. I felt like I was fumbling in the water as they swam swiftly away. It didn't make sense. I got out of the water feeling defeated, just like I had at a few prior swim practices at Providence.

Swimming to me is what Yoga or meditation is to others. It's a time where I clear my head. My breathing is focused. I'm concentrating on pulling myself through the water. Staring at the line below reviewing what's good in my life.

I got off work early last night, and, still in the glow of feeling good about my life for the week or so, I decided to go swim with the team. Hopping in the water, a little bit of anxiety washed over me. As I started into sets of 50, I realized how incredibly tight I was holding my shoulders. With one big exhale, I loosened my shoulders. I slipped through the water. I watched the lane lines zoom by as I grabbed the water... something I hadn't felt in well over a month. I got out of the water feeling elated. I stopped to watch the storm roll in from a DC rooftop before heading home for the night. I love storms, and this was no exception. The last glimmer of the sunset illuminated the storm shelf as it rolled in. Golden lightening rumbled in the seemingly harmless, fluffy clouds. A mix of heat lightening and a storm off in the distance. I went to bed with a smile on my face.

I woke up early this morning.. and wanted to see if I could replicate. I drove down to GMU's pool for some 50 meter love. I wish Hains Point outdoor 50m pool was open, and contemplated jumping the fence... but figured that wouldn't pan out so well - breaking and entering in DC? "But officer... I just needed to swim in a 50 meter pool...." The swim felt amazing. The sound of air pockets dancing around my cap as I pulled myself through the water was deafening, like it once was. It was a moment of clarity. My times were back on par, instead of the 1:40's I found myself swimming (or modified splashing) the last few weeks. I climbed out of the water with an intense burning in my lats that I haven't felt since I swam across Lake Anna (though, thats probably attributed to the fact I was hungover...). I came home and made a simple breakfast, but it tasted amazing. It's the first time something has tasted good for a while.

I'm back.... and I don't intend to let anything drag me to where I was. Bring on Florida... even if it is covered in tar. :)

15 February 2010

The Roughest Road Wins?

Who knew smashing my face into the pavement could land me in the lead on a contest?

I read Steve's post about the gnarliest crash... laughed to myself and wondered how my accident would rate. Well, first I had to decide which one sucked more... the jaw incident or the broken ankle.

While snowed in during Snowmeggedon at a friend's house.. She asked me which was the worst surgery I had. Since she knew me during the broken jaw crash, she instantly assumed that's the one I'd pick. If we're going for the longest lasting with the most inconveniences, having your jaw wired shut and going to the dentist 2-3 times a week for a few months clearly takes the cake. In terms of pain, the ankle was the worst surgery I've faced. The day following surgery I was in the worst pain I had ever experienced. No amount of Percocet even made a dent in the pain I had shooting through my legs. I suppose that will happen when you have plates and screws put in. (interesting side note: There are relatively few nerves in bone. However, the thin, film-like covering of the bone surface, the periosteum, is very rich in nerve endings. Drill through that.... yowza).
D sent me a message and told me I had to enter, as did a few other bloggers who have read my stuff. So, without further adieu:

Vote for me - Recovery Ride Face Plant

You vote for 3 female and 3 male injuries. Warning - some of them are very graphic. Bruising, no biggie... no toenail.. barf.

01 February 2010

Dropping the Ball after the Ball Dropped

Clearly, we're into February already and I've been quiet as a mouse. I promised an update in my last post, but then never followed up. Plenty of drafts were worked on, but none to completion.

For the few out there that actually care what I'm up to, here's the rundown:

December was a month full of fun. Lost my job. Went home to Ohio to chill/help mom out with some things. Missed the epic DC snow storm. Celebrated Christmas with the family.
Bought a car. Well, technically it's a crossover SUV. Nissan Rogue. I'm in love with it. The ZX2 (don't get excited, thats a Ford Escort for those not keeping up on their cars) was having some hurt. The transmission was about to go... with just shy of 100K miles, the transmission and timing belt replacement would have cost far more than the car was worth. So, without a job, I bought a new car. I have better pictures of my love but I can't seem to hunt down the camera cable right now. So, you must settle for a picture from my blackberry. This was taken on it's maiden voyage from Classic Nissan to this really good Mexican restaurant mom and I frequent when I'm home. mmmm margaritas.

I eventually ventured back out to DC on January 6th. Spent the next two weeks weighing various job options and working out like a fiend. If I was independently wealthy... I could totally go pro (minus that needing to be fast thing. Minor details). I swam, I was on the trainer every day, Hot Yoga, BOSU pilates, strength workouts, boot camp, time on the elliptical, and PT. If I could have run, I would have. I stumbled across an opening at Bonzai Sports for retail management... and decided what the hell. In a last minute change of plans, I now work at a bike shop. I've been doing the desk job thing for 2.5 years... and I feel like it is sucking the life out of me. I didn't really realize this until I went home and was away from it. I mean, legitimately away from it... sure I had vacation time, but I was constantly logging in on my work laptop, responding via blackberry, etc. I didn't want to go back into that atmosphere just yet... or potentially ever again. I need to be up and moving. I can't sit behind a computer or in a cube farm right now. Ultimately, I'd like to be a brand rep for someone... going around promoting a product, interacting with people, etc. I just don't feel satisfied sitting behind a computer. So, for now, I'm working at a bike shop (stop by and visit!) and going to work/coming home with a smile on my face. More important to me than a huge paycheck.

I'm still plotting out my season. I've signed up for the Double Mussel (sprint on Saturday, half iron on Sunday) in July. I have a few goals up my sleeve, but I want to see where I am on the running front before I make any firm decisions. One goal would force me to drop the sprint and focus solely on the half.... the other goal will be to enjoy both races. Strictly depends on where my run stands by April. Of course I have Ironman Florida in November. Looking to do Chesapeakeman Aquavelo as part of the prep for that... assuming I'm back in town from Interbike. Most likely doing Rumpass in Bumpass sprint, maybe Kinetic Sprint. Lots of officiating to make some extra $$$. Clearly no set schedule like last year.

I have some other posts on the horizon. I promise I'll actually *ahem* POST them.

03 January 2010

Wreaths Across America

I took a bit of a self-imposed hiatus of contact from most everyone I know during the month of December for reasons I'll get into in the next post. One thing I meant to get up before the disconnect was an entry about Wreaths Across America.

December 11th was the one year anniversary of my dad's death. The 11th proved to be far less difficult than the 9th; the day that he actually fell, but it was still hard. Lucky for me (though most others would think it was an unlucky coincidence) I was laid off on the 11th. No panicking necessary - I knew my last day with SAIC was December 11th since about June of this year. I ended up taking the afternoon of the 10th and the entire day of the 11th off, and convinced my mom to book a one way ticket to DC on the 10th. She needed a distraction from the clock, or she'd have sat around watching the moments tick by, knowing exactly what happened. Besides, Akron is gloomy, and at least DC had an abundant amount of sunshine those few days. We drove back on the morning of the 11th, and my sister met us at the house as well. Spirits were high, and we knew we were about to do a good thing in the morning.

Around October, I heard a radio spot for Wreaths Across America. The ad called for volunteers and online wreath donations to help the annual decoration of Arlington National Cemetery. A bit of history about the program from the website:

The Arlington Wreath program was started by Morrill Worcester (Worcester Wreath) in 1992 with the donation and laying of 5000 Christmas wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery. This became an annual journey for Mr. Worcester. Read more about this in the History of Arlington.

It was relatively obscure until 2005 when a photo of the stones adorned with wreaths and covered in snow circulated around the internet. The project received National attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries spurred the creation of “Wreaths Across America”. Unable to donate thousands of wreaths to each state, Mr. Worcester conceived the idea of sending 7 wreaths (one for each branch of the military as well as POW/MIA). In 2006 with the help of the CAP and other civic organizations, over 150 locations held wreath laying ceremonies simultaneously.
Since then, it has grown to include shipments and donations to many National Cemeteries. I saw the date was December 12th, and was a bit bummed that I wouldn't be able to help, as I knew I'd be home in Ohio at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery where Dad is buried. I continued reading through the webpage and saw that wreaths could be donated directly to the participating cemetery of choice, so I bought a few for OWRNC, and forwarded the link to my mom. My sister also wanted to help, so I contacted the coordinator to set us up as volunteers for wreath laying.

We woke up the morning of and began to pile layers on. Western Reserve sits at the top of a good-sized hill, and is often quite windy. Despite the sunlight pouring through the windows, we knew we were in for a cold morning. Sometimes pictures are better than words, so I'll let them do the story telling:

Folks from the local Rolling Thunder Chapter. Those in DC - this is the
group that comes in force on Memorial Day on thousands of motorcycles.
Good group of people - they were the main volunteers at the wreath laying, and do so every year.

My sister laying a wreath

Bundled up and laying a wreath on a strangers grave.

Mom (the blue Eskimo) and Doug, Board Member of the local
Rolling Thunder, Marine, and worked with Dad for years.
Talking about how much Dad is missed around the CCX Terminal.

The off-center stick in the previous picture is
actually this little verse called "The Title". Doug came out
on the Marine Corps Anniversary and put these on the graves of those
who were Marines. Somehow it got pushed off-kilter a bit,
and then froze that way. Click to zoom.

Miss you, Dad.

After the wreaths were laid, at 12pm across the country all participating groups have a service honoring those who served and who gave their lives for our country. At Western Reserve, there's a flagpole in the center of the cemetery with large circular logos around the base for each branch of the armed forces. A member of each branch laid a wreath on their logo as the honors were read for the particular branch.

I can't say that it eased the pain of remembering what we went through last year, but I can say that it warmed the heart a bit to know that maybe someone will come out and see a wreath was laid on their loved one's headstone.

Gone, but never forgotten.