Monday, October 17, 2011

Faking It

My day started with a boost of confidence.
No wait.
What's the opposite.

About to jump in the pool.
Two lifeguards chatting and I hear one say:
"See. Now Mike. He goes to bed at 11."

I walk up to her.
"I'm sorry, did I hear that right?"

She says, "Yeah. You go to bed at 11 o'clock. I can tell by your face!"

When I asked for the relevancy of this conversation she reminded me that some of the 5AM swimmers go to bed at 8PM.

I mean.
I can't go to bed before my kids!

In fact, I have the day off work.
So, I gave myself only about 3 minutes to throw on my swim trunks, fill a water bottle, flip my flops and run out the door.

Normally I have at least 20 minutes to prep in the morning.
Which probably makes the difference here.

When I bought my first electric razor a few years ago the instructions said:
"Wait at least 20 minutes after waking before shaving. To relieve the swelling in your face."

That's a fact.
I don't know why but my face is definitely swollen when I wake.

40 minutes of swimming later, I pop out of the pool and ask:
"So! Do I look any better now?!?!"

I should have just kept that thought to myself.

As I remove my goggles revealing deep goggle-marks on my face.
So sad.

I look terrible in the morning.
That's something I can't fake.

But I can ALMOST fake a game of golf.

I learned yesterday at the kids' Parent-Junior golf competition.

I was paired with my son Goodles for 6 holes at the local country club.
My daughter Honeybunny paired up with her grandpa.

Parents and kids alternated shots on each hole.
It was so much fun!

I can't golf.

In fact.
It was only the 3rd time that I have swung a golf club.

And we survived!

The kids both did great.
They've been practicing for nearly 2 months now.
And they've developed some good golfing habits.
The instruction they've received is simple and repeatable.

I applied it to myself.
And it worked pretty well.

Among my difficulties, adults were only permitted to use one club.
And while it is easy enough to identify the "good club" to use, which for me was a 7-iron, it is difficult to play a full hole with that limitation.

For instance.
That's the first hit at each hole.
Off the tee.

"Drive for show. Putt for dough."

Oh, we were allowed to use a putter, too.
That was a last minute announcement. To protect the greens.

OK, so I try to Drive. Hit a golf ball, off of a tee, with a 7-iron.
I guess I teed off 4 times.
Only once did I completely flub it.

My Drives were remarkably decent.
All luck.
I was powerless.
Could not control distance, height, direction or hook.
Don't ask me how it worked out so well.

Things got better on the fairway, or short grass.
Which might be the rough. Or not.
When I hear "the rough" I think of tall, unfriendly grass.

Either way, the 7-iron blessed me with mostly good shots on the approach.
Honestly, poor Goodles had to bail us out whenever I made any bad shots.
He would hit them back onto the fairway :-)
Love that kid.

Putting was best left to Goodles, too.
I guess a real putter, not a "miniature golf or 'putt putt' putter" works alot better.
I kept overputting.

It was more popular to let Goodles sink the putts anyway.

I will tell you.
It was so much fun.

And the other adults had similar experiences, in spite of their experience.
So we were all smiles.

It was such a relief to fake those 6 holes.
Although, I think my Saucony Pro Grid 4's gave me away.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Running Regret

This really isn't a significant landmark to observe.

Today, if I had my act together, I would have completed a 50-mile solo run from my house to Hershey Park.

I'm not in good enough shape.

And while I love putting my body through hell.
My body likes to punish me in return.

I did not do the run.
Or plan the run.

Or figure out the hardest part.
Some logistics.
Like how to get back home from a point-to-point 50 mile run.
Absent, to my knowledge, any public transportation options.

But I should look into it because.
Last night, I was fortunate to sit down and watch some TV with my wife and little brother.

And I don't watch TV.

But it was a show where these people bid on storage units.
It probably has some predictable name like Storage Wars: Clash of the Junk Collectors.

And as the clock had ticked past 10 o'clock, I quipped:
"Still not sure if I should run to Hershey Park tonight or not."

That was not well received.

Possibly due to my previous, related attempt to bike to Hershey Park.
Which ended just short.
Dehydration and time factored against me.

To conclude this landmark observation, I'll put out that.
Had I run.

The weather was PERFECT.
And a nearly FULL MOON.
And the HERSHEY HALF MARATHON was today!
I would have arrived at about 10AM.
And walked up to the Race Finishers tent and enjoyed the post-race spread.

Yeah yeah, in return I would have donated to a Hershey charity.

I would have.

I still might.

I have no idea when the next PERFECT time for this run will be.
Hopefully, it is after I do logistically address my return trip home.
And train sufficiently.

Which brings me back to reality.

I did knock out about 10 miles this morning.
Beautiful fall weather.
Leaves on the ground.
Leaves changing color.
The smell of leaves enveloping my route.

I ran fast, too.
Faster than my last few 12+ min/mile race paces for certain.
And I felt great.
A fair amount of leg pain.
Like, "Mike you're pushing us a little too hard, Love, Your legs."
That type of great, well-deserved pain.

And wouldn't you know.

Nearly 2 years after the original incident.
Not 24 hours after my confrontation with public displays of yelling and anger yesterday.

With less than a quarter mile before I reached my house.
I started to walk. My cool down.

And a truck came down the road in the opposite direction.
And the gentlemen looked at me.
The weary runner.

And he waved.
A friendly wave.

Which in terms of significance.

2 Years ago I thought this same man was going to kill me.
Or make me injured.

As he had yelled at me on a nearby road.
He in his truck.
Me nearing the end of an 18 mile run.

But the following day.
And I've told this story before.

It turned out he lived in my neighborhood.
Saw me at a neighbor's house.

Pulled up, and stopped along the street.
In the same truck he drives when he yells at runners.

And he approached.
As I saw my life flash before my eyes.

He held out a hand. Apologized for yelling.
And we hugged.

So to have this man wave to me this morning.
I can say.
My run, not the epic run I had dreamed of.
My run was still sweet.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Do you have any words that immediately bring a song to mind?
I have dozens, if not hundreds.

For example: Predominantly (which I prefer to spell Predominately)

Nice word.
Immediately drops me into an Eminem lyric.

That's not exactly what happens with Confrontation.
Not the word.
The suffix.


This is a recent phenomena.

B.o.B. linked to a YouTube video for his song: Dr. Aden

Almost every line ends with an ATION suffixed word.
Justification, nation, vacation, civilization, situation, obligation...

In fact. I think he uses every word except confrontation.
Dr. Aden by the way is from a very cool B.o.B. mixtape: No Genre

So tonight I'm writing about a confrontation.
I think that's the right word for it.

In our 6 year old soccer game today, we had a confrontation situation.

I am so LUCKY to have my Dad helping me coach both kids' soccer teams this fall.
With our 6 year old team, he guides the Defense and I take care of the Offense.

Because the kids are young, in fact most of our team is 5-year-olds, we stand on the field with the players.
It helps.
Correct direction.
Help the kids find the ball.
Stop spinning in circles. Literally, I mean like they're doing a dizzy bat race.
Stop playing in mud.

The kids really need the extra assistance out there on the field.
If we want the game to resemble soccer.

Today, near our team's goal, the opponent kicked a ball that was headed out of bounds.
On its way, the ball hit my Dad's leg and continued out of play.

It was actually kinda funny.








So here we have a parent on the opposing team.
Screaming at my Dad from the sideline.

Um. Maybe it's a joke?

Guy is standing with a confrontational posture.


My Dad and I don't deal well with bad parents.
We don't deal well with criticism of volunteers.
We, selfishly I suppose, definitely don't deal well with criticism of US!


So, I respond.

"Um. Stop yelling dude"


I would have expected a different reaction.

Now, my Dad goes immediately from happy defensive coordinator to steam-coming-out-of-ears.

That's why I woke up this morning.
So I could physically restrain my Dad because some jerk is screaming at him during a youth soccer game.


I woke up this morning to take a leisurely bike ride.
Acclimate to the cooler temperature. Experience the strong winds (40+MPH) as predicted.

So, I have my Dad yelling at this guy now.

Our family has been involved with this youth athletic league for 24 years.
Since I was 7.
We take some pride in that.
And we KNOW how the games are supposed to WORK.

The kids have fun.
They learn a little bit about the sport.
Hopefully, the experience was good. And they come back next year.

This is not serious.
This is not competitive.
And if we're gonna have a parent violate those ideas.
He's gonna get corrected early.

Let me lighten the mood.

"OK sir. I'll review the Instant Replay"

He keeps yelling.
He's quite serious.

I can barely keep my Dad restrained.
I mean restrained with what he's gonna say to this guy.

I want to lead the conversation.
We've already got ONE problem.
We don't need more.

"Sir. Try to keep in mind.
These are 6 year olds.
5 year olds.

Mind you, we had switched sides of the field at half time.
So I'm doing all of this right in the middle of ALL of the other team's parents.

Not to mention.
Inevitably in front of my neighbors.
Past, current and future classmates of my kids.
Past, current and future players on teams I have coached. Am coaching. Will coach.

Completely irks me.

Guy yells one final time.
I reiterate that we'll consult the Instant Replay.


That's right. Now where were we?
They kicked it over the End Line behind our goal.
Let's set up the goal kick.

Times like this I wish I wore a heart rate monitor.
Because it is NOT easy to flip a switch back to happy little coach.
For me or my Dad.


And that's how my morning went.

And it can't end there.
That wouldn't be fun.

I read the news. Alot.
I like to know the world around me.
I know that people are popping off every day.
I do not want confrontation.
I like peace.

The game ends.
Our kids are happy.  They had a fun game.
And I hope they didn't absorb too much of the drama.

I WANT to explain.
Talk to the kids and parents.
Give THEM the perspective.

But no.
First, lets have the teams shake hands after the game.

Line up at mid-field.
Right hand out.
"Good game. Good game."

Well this is a nice development.
Not only is JERK an overly vocal PARENT.
He's also the assistant COACH.

Walking out to the field to shake hands.

"Uh. Dad.
I think it's best if you just leave now.

Grudgingly, he does.

So we high-five the other team.
I shake the head coach's hand.
She was so nice.

The assistant COACH.
The yelling PARENT.
And. Ha. The head coach's HUSBAND.

We have an extended handshake.
We talk midfield for 5 minutes.

It takes 4 minutes for him to apologize.

I'm not really interested in replaying what he had to say.
Because he had a very narrow view.
"Your team had 2 coaches on the field and your Dad was in the way."

I'm sorry.
I made a little list above.
It involved 5-year-old kids spinning in circles playing in mud.
We're gonna try to avoid that.

So among my recommendations for this COACH/PARENT/HUSBAND.
If he wants to yell at VOLUNTEER COACHES in a FIVE and SIX year old soccer league.
He needs to find a different league.

If he doesn't correct his behavior NOW.
It will get worse.

It is not fair to his child.

I ended the conversation.
A conversation that could have continued aimlessly for another 5 minutes.
I ended with this.

"And by the way. My name is Mike. And I'll probably see you out here for the next 13 years."

I hope he gets it.
Got it.

YOU know how it works.
Our kids, next season, could just as easily be teammates. Or classmates.
We could be co-coaches.

THINK about your impact.

And try to do BETTER.
It will make you a better COACH.

After the game, my kids and I walked across the parking lot to the playground.
They played with a girl on our team.
I talked with her mom.

We talked about the confrontation.
And why some parents push too far.

The best part of that conversation.
Was her recommendation.

Bill Cosby - Himself

It gives you a chance to laugh at yourself as a parent.
To laugh at your kids.

To not take all of this so seriously.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Invented Swag

No I didn't.
Jay-Z claims he did.

I love that song.
Otis from Watch the Throne.

I love it. But it is eating me alive.
I NEED to listen to it once per day.
Eventually that urge will wane.


I didn't invent swag.

But I did invent this version of Soccer Freeze Tag.

Our 6 year old team had so much fun with that game yesterday.
We may have even learned a little bit of soccer while playing it.

I had to introduce tag (there was another tag game to start practice) because kids were playing tag when we were supposed to be doing the KICKOFF in last weekend's game.

And right now, tag is my kids' favorite outdoor game.
We play it all the time.
Almost every day.

I sustained my first tag related injury on Monday.

Had the day off work.
Took the kids to the park.

Among other activities: Bikes, Golf, Soccer, Scooter.
We played tag at the playground for about 20 minutes.

I was overdoing it for entertainment value.
Swinging over their heads.
Climbing on top of the monkey bars.
Going a little too fast.

It was very fun.

Until the gym 2 days later.

My arms hurt.
My abs hurt.
I couldn't even do my crunches (3 sets of 40 on a decline bench).

I love how we can be in good shape but still have so many neglected muscle groups.
Working on my Tag Fitness.

I'm glad we all enjoy a simple game like tag right now.

As the kids get older, I am less of a pillar of entertainment.
There are many other diversions.

Friends. (See Play Date)
Video Games.

The kids no longer need Mom and Dad to fill in the blanks.
They need us to help keep the filling balanced.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Play Date

From yesterday's post about home phone telemarketers.

My wife and I did enjoy a few magical years without a landline home phone.
We took pride in our cellular independence.

Home phone number?

Oh but then I got worried.
It happens. From time to time.

Had a couple little kids bouncing around the house.
And a few influential experiences.

Started thinking about situations where we'd need to call 911.
And though the technology has improved, I still believe that a landline is THE guaranteed way for emergency services to know a call is coming from my HOME.
My landline = My location

Read about the Wireless and VoIP 911 stuff on Wikipedia to see what I mean.

Landline didn't ring once today BTW.

Play Date
I had a conversation after getting out of the pool this morning.
I did various strokes and kickboard.
But I don't think I actually talked about swimming.

It is the Year 2011.
Parenting has changed since I was a kid back in the 80's and to an extent the 90's.

We are a little cutesy.
A little over the top.
A little helicopterish.

One thing we've done is taken the following conversation from my childhood:
"Hi, this is Mike's mom.  Would your son Bobby like to come over and play?"

And we've changed it into this:
"Hi, would Bobby like to have a playdate?"

Now, this may imply some formality.
Stricter scheduling.

But that's not how I use the word.

I just use it as a 21st century substitute like so:
"Would your son Bobby like to come over for a playdate?"

There is no implied advanced scheduling. The schedule is immediate.
Other kids can be involved in the playdate.
And there's no structured activities or anything.

That's how I use the word.

But other parents and other kids THINK that playdate requires formality.
I use that assumption as a form of defense.

Call me crazy.
Call me mean.

But even though my kids are young, I've already picked a few children that they are not allowed to play with.

Various reasons:
  • The kids are mean
  • The parents are freaking nuts/alcoholic
  • The kids have no respect for the property of others
  • The kids have "seen too much"
Let me expand on that last one quickly.

I had a sheltered childhood.
I don't think intentionally.

My kids are relatively sheltered, also.
Although at times (and I'll explain this another day), I probably reveal too much about how the world really works.

"Seen too much" can mean things like a rough upbringing.
Seeing things like domestic abuse.
Like older siblings or friends that can corrupt.

Which means that I can't have them influencing my innocent little kids.
Not this early anyway.
Not if I have any control of it.
Which I at least think I do.


"Play Date" is used as a deterrent when approached by children that my kids can't play with.
If I say they have a Play Date, there's no further conversation needed.

First of all, the Play Date is probably exclusive. Can't add another kid.
Secondly, it suggests that bad-kid's parents would need to coordinate a Play Date. And since that won't happen, that's the end of the idea.


It's not very nice. But I've dealt with too many mean kids in my 31 years to NOT intervene.
And all it takes is a cutesy little "Play Date" to accomplish my goal.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Use it or lose it

The last race I wrote about was a satisfactory yet ultimately disappointing experience.
I had done as much as I could to prepare for a 100 mile run in 24 hours.
My 4th attempt.
And I failed.

That was mid-July.

I usually reduce my training in August to recover.
Until we took an Irene-shortened trip to the beach at the end of August, I ran only twice.

I ran 5 times at the beach.
We came back home. I stopped running again.

Labor Day weekend I participated in a race that I was completely unprepared for.
Not just undertrained.
I paid almost zero attention to mentally preparing.
I typed the race address into my Droid's GPS and let it guide me to the starting line on race morning.

That was the Labor Pain 12-hour Trail Race. or something like that.
I figured, despite the lack of training, that I still had endurance left over from Jan-July ultra training.

Use it or lose it.

I ran 45 miles on a 5-mile trail loop.
It was...
Words can't do it justice.

It was just what I needed.

Then I stopped running again.

Maybe a run here or there.

Annual local sprint triathlon, Marshman Triathlon, 2 weeks later on Sep 13th.
I had been swimming regularly at the gym, so I knew the Swim would be OK.
Severely neglected my bike. It just hasn't been convenient to get out.
And for a 2-mile run. I should have worked on speed. At least a little.

But the race went well.
Despite a link in my bike chain beginning to break 4 miles into the 12 mile course.

Then my chain broke on my way home. 4 miles from home.
My wife picked me up. Her truck broke down 2 miles from home.
$310 later the truck was repaired. $2 later my bike was ready to go.

Not sure how much biking I'll be doing this fall and winter.
Would love to get out on Saturday mornings.

Which brings me to now.
On Monday, I started running immediately after the kids' earlier-because-of-school bedtime.
The fall night-time weather is so inviting.

Ran 4 days this week and tomorrow I have a 50K trail race.
Blues Cruise 50K.

Like the 12-hour Labor Pain race, I go into it with minimal prep.
No goals.
No expectations.
No pressure.
No stress.

I'm once again counting on residual endurance.

Use it or lose it.