Let the Games Begin

I grew up in a household where watching TV was the exception rather than the norm. If I remember correctly, each of us kids [myself, Bananafishbonehead and the Kurd] could pick one show a week to watch and then we had a family hour of TV on the weekend. If there were special programs [like the Star Wars Ewok Adventure, V, or The Day After] then those were treated as exceptions. One thing that my sisters and I did to entertain ourselves was play card and board games. Risk, Monopoly, Mille Bornes to name a few. I fondly remember being able to dominate at most games and throwing the biggest hissy fit when, with overwhelming strategy and troops, the dice failed me roll after roll after roll and Bananafishbonehead’s meager forces held off the Huns, resulting in a thrown board and army pieces scattered around the living room. Ah, I love board games.

I had the opportunity to pick up Thunderclap from school on Tuesday and spend the afternoon with he and Tammy. I had been toying with the idea of picking up some board or card games for Thunderclap, and a fond memory I had of playing Dungeon! as a pre-teen had me googling to see if it was still available. Turns out it was re-released last year with a new board, cards and all new graphics. A quick call to a local Barnes & Noble let us know that a short hop, skip, and a jump away awaited incredible adventure, monster slaying, and untold riches. Now, I’m not a big D&D geek, but I played my share of TSR games as a youth and there were many hours on ship while on deployment in the Marines where we would pass the time in one sort of campaign or another. That said, I have often thought about how fun it would be to actually DM a game for Thunderclap and I do look forward to that day. But for now, this was a good gateway experience to test the waters.

Thunderclap was all atwitter as we drove home from the store and kept asking over and over if we could battle a dragon.

“I don’t know, but I hope so, buddy!”

I think I said that same phrase in response to the same question near a half dozen times on the 10 minute ride. Once home, we boned up on the rules, unpacked and set everything up and with both of us deciding to be dwarf clerics [he the male, I the female], we started our adventure. Immediately he was into it. Eager for each turn, each new opportunity to battle some monster, and eager see what treasure they would drop. His excitement and anticipation, not only for his turn, but for mine as well, was great to witness. Each new creature had him running into the other room to show Tammy what we were up against.

“Tammy, I’m fighting an OWL BEAR!”

“Look at this KOBOLD!”

“Isn’t this GREEN SLIME gross?!?”

The game progressed at a fun pace for quite a while, but before long, Thunderclap took the leap and jumped down into level 6. Now, in the context of this game, a cleric should not be hanging out in the hardest levels on the board. The creatures are mostly un-beatable and I can imagine a young player like Thunderclap becoming quite frustrated if each turn required him to run away and resulted in lost turns and lost treasure. But something wonderful happened on his first foray down into the depths of the dungeon that hooked him on the game and adventure gaming in general. He encountered a black dragon.

“Daddy, what does the monster card say?”

“You have to fight a black dragon, buddy.”

“A DRAGON?!? Is it really a DRAGON?!? Tammy! Tammy! I have to fight a BLACK DRAGON!”

“Hey, buddy, what number do you have to roll to beat it?”

“Oh, a twelve. That is going to be hard, won’t it daddy?”

“Yup, buddy. It doesn’t look good. Better blow on the dice for good luck.”

And with that, Thunderclap rolled, yes, you guessed it, a twelve. The joy and excitement at defeating a BLACK DRAGON could be heard throughout the land. And thus, a gamer was born.

Since then, each day has been filled with questions of when we can play the game again and nary a request to watch the tube. In addition, we ended up in a game store that happened to be going out of business and picked up Munchkin Cthulhu at discount and spent most of last weekend playing hand after hand after hand. I might have created a monster, but at least he’s a monster that is learning to read, use strategy, use basic math, stay focused for hours on end, and most importantly spend lots of quality time throwing ichor at daddy.

And that is the biggest win of all.

Soundtrack for This Post

high five!

it seems like just yesterday that we were sitting in the receiving room of the corona hospital, waiting for our little thunderclap newman to make his way to the stage. yet, it seems like ages since i sat there next to him on the warming table, singing “hey jude” and “everything comes down to poop” while he wrapped his newborn hand around my pinky. time seems to fly, yet at the same time if you think back on all of the memories, it seems like a lifetime. linear time is funny like that.

i’m a big fan of celebrating birthdays over a period of several days and tc’s fifth birthday has been no exception. we had a big bounce-gym party on wednesday, an airshow at march afb on sunday, a celebrity meet-up [more about that later] on saturday and a family get-together tonight. tc got the share can and a birthday crown at pre-school on thursday as well. it’s been a big deal all week and i think i’m having as much fun celebrating it as he is [as you'll see later].

my mind has a hard time wrapping itself around tc’s age, though. he seems so much older than he really is. i’m constantly having to remind myself that he’s actually only turning five today. i’m sure most parents have experienced this phenomenon. there’s so much that kids understand and we can let our guard down on how emotionally developed they are based on the intelligence that they display. but he’s growing up. and up. and up. my little man isn’t so little anymore. he almost fits into my smaller cycling jerseys.

and that was why i gave him my cannondale robot cycling jersey. it was a little on the smaller side, so i thought it might be something fun for him to grow into. he’ll put it on every once in a while and ask if it was a real jersey that i used to train in. i’m thinking that he thinks it’s a pro jersey, but even so, sure, i’ve trained in it. we’ve watched cycling over the years in our house and i think it is the only sport that we’ve consistently watched. he can name more pro cyclists than any other sports figures. there’s an off chance that he might know tim tebow’s name, but a much greater chance that if you mention thor hushovd you’d get a “GOD OF THUNDER” response or breathe contador and he’ll start booing you. so, when the tour of california came to town this past week, i thought it was high time that we get out there and see what it’s like to rub elbows with the greats. now, i’ve been going to the toc for years, but never to a start. i’m always one of the dingbats that rides up a climb, waits, waits, waits and then runs along side the struggling riders cheering like a madman.

we loaded up with our friends a10 and shelbasaurus and headed out to ontario for stage 7, the ride from ontario to mt. baldy. we arrived plenty early and by the time we walked through the team staging area, the buses were just beginning to show up. we caught a quick glimpse of big george talking with a friend at the bmc bus, and a bunch of the domestic pro guys, like the spidertech team, team bissel, united healthcare, etc. we had really wanted to see jens voigt, though, so we were on the lookout for the radioshack bus. we’ve cheered for jens for years in our house. he has a superhero name, too. we call him “hardman”. and when jens crashes, he hurts the ground. jens, as most cycling enthusiasts know, is the good-guy of the peloton. always excited to see the fans, always willing to give his opinion on things, always positive and has the hardest work ethic in cycling. he’s a good role model, to say the least.

so when he tweeted his “bee” story on thursday, i had to read it to tc. that got tc excited about the possibility of meeting jens.

“daddy, did he REALLY eat a bee?”

“daddy, did his lip get better?”

waiting for jensafter a break from the pre-race action, we walked back into the staging area and happened to be standing on an open space of curb when the radioshack bus pulled up and parked right in front of us. kismet. we parked ourselves on the curb and waited. each soigneur, photog, mechanic or manager that came out of the bus would elicit the question, “daddy, is THAT jens voigt?” until, much to our surprise, someone came out of the bus that WAS jens voigt. i was sort of shell-shocked. there he was. in the flesh. and SMILING!

“there he is, buddy! hey, jens, would you sign my son’s jersey?”

now, we had brought the cannondale jersey with us, but in the course of wandering through the festival, i had spotted a kom jersey and ended up getting that for tc instead. funny thing, too, the small mens just looked like an over-baggy t-shirt on him. dang he’s getting big. anyway, tc was sporting the kom polka-dot jersey. i handed the sharpie to jens who knelt down and got to eye level with tc and they started talking.

jens "the bee eater" voigtjens: “i like your jersey!”

tc: “jens, do you like honey?”

jens: “oh, yes. i love honey. i try to eat honey for breakfast every morning. my kids love honey, too!”

the exchange was quick, but he was awesome with tc. i loved that he knelt down to get to eye-level with him. he was happy to sign, upbeat and obviously enjoying his day. but what i love even more is that now tc has a face and an experience to place with the name. when we cheer for him, he KNOWS jens. jens was COOL to him and signed his jersey. now there’s even more incentive to watch the races and go wild for our “hardman”.

as a proud dad, i’m hoping that for this birthday i’ve given him a memory that will stick with him. and i can wish that maybe, just maybe, that memory will be something that will influence his activity levels and choice of sport as an adult. maybe, just maybe he’ll grow to fill that kom jersey more than just physically. and maybe, just maybe i can be there to give him a high five and say, “remember when you were five?”

happy birthday, meine kleine affe.

planting seeds

this past weekend i had the distinct pleasure of adding to my “top 10 experiences of my life”. funny how up there with my wedding and birth of thunderclap are days spent in wild places or running. whitney, boston, pct50, leaning tower, etc and now, death valley.

i have a wonderful love affair with death valley. it was one of the first places that my parents took us a kids to go camping. i remember distinctly setting up camp in furnace creek, looking out over the world from zabriske point and hiking through golden canyon. years later, as an adult, i would venture back into the park to re-explore some of those places and try my hand at creating new memories. through several successful visits, i developed a pretty solid experience base in the wild deserts of california. this past weekend, then, would be my opportunity to plant the same seed my parents had planted so many years ago and share my experiences with a new generation.

tuesday night before the weekend, thunderclap and i sat down to the task of figuring out what gear we would need for the weekend, which clothes to pack and what the menu would be. i sat there, leading him with questions, but letting him come up with the names of all the gear we would need. he was so excited to be part of the process and kept throwing out items before i’d get to their functional requirement.

“SLEEPING BAGS!”

“HEADLAMPS!”

“MARSHMALLOWS!”

“hey, thunderclap, how are we going to cook our food?”

“WITH FIRE! we’ll need FIREWOOD!”

“how will we start the fire?”

“WITH FIRE!”

“where will we get the fire?”

“FROM FIRE!”

we walked through the menu, too, and came up with a pretty decent plan of fun camping food and nutritious options. hotdogs, mac ‘n cheese, pancakes, oatmeal, sandwiches, s’mores, veggies and fruit. with our list complete, we headed out thursday night to pick up all the missing items on the list. thunderclap’s enthusiasm for getting gear was a bit hard to contain as he picked up everything that looked interesting and added it to the basket. if i hadn’t been watching, we might have walked out of big 5 with four or five knives, a bag of rubber worm lures and a pickaxe.

friday morning was the big day, though, and after getting the car packed, we were off on our way to the wide open desert. i gave thunderclap the lowdown on our route so he’d have some idea of what was to come.

“first we have to make a long drive through the cities, then up the cahon pass to the high desert. we’ll drive for two hours through the high desert until we come to the desert mountains and immigrant pass. once we’re over immigrant pass, we will descend into death valley.” i made sure to keep him posted on our progress, but he would still ask on occasion, “daddy? are we at the desert mountains yet?” followed by “daddy, we are a long way from home”. yes, buddy, we sure are.

the grand adventure was just beginning and i had the opportunity to expose him to the first “joy” of driving the 395. the “rollercoaster” just before and following kramer junction. these are a series of, well, dips, that are frequent and steep enough to make your belly drop and make the car fell like it is getting air. i told thunderclap to hold on because we were going for a rollercoaster ride. he looked excited, but confused as we neared the dips. we hit the first one and the ferocity of the rise and drop caught me by surprise and i laughed out-loud. i looked back at thunderclap and he was cracking up. and then he hit me with the best line of the weekend, “daddy! that made my pee-pee giggle!”

before long we had passed through the high desert and were entering the wild rose entrance of death valley. thunderclap marveled at the high canyon walls, the high plains vistas, the snow on telescope peak. reconnecting with the 190 and dropping down the massive grade into stovepipe wells, i finally told him, “this is death valley”, as the main valley opened out below us. i pointed way off into the distance where you could see some buildings, “hey buddy, that’s where we’re going to camp!”

we cruised into stovepipe wells picked up a death valley jr ranger handbook and quickly grabbed a campsite on the perimeter of the campground. as i set up the tent, thunderclap began wandering around through the creosote bushes and sand hills, marveling at every rock he found. “daddy! look at this rock! look at This rock! look at THIS rock!” tent pitched and staked down, we then hopped into the car and headed over to furnace creek to have a quick visit with the in-laws who were trailer camping for the week. at the trailer/rv parking lot thunderclap was again smitten with the volume of rocks he was free to pick up, examine and toss. what more could a boy ask for?

that evening back at the campsite, thunderclap proceeded to set the tone for the weekend. while getting the fire going he asked, “daddy, do you know what to do if you catch on fire?”

“sure, stop, drop and roll”

“yes, i learned that in school”

at which point he promptly stopped what he was doing, dropped to the ground and proceeded to roll around in the dirt. a perfect example and fire should be deathly afraid of his ferocious thrashing. completed, he jumped to his feet with a little hop, hit the ground and a poof of pigpen-esque dust exploded around him.

“buddy” i said, “you’re filthy. but that’s the point of going camping.”

“yeah, daddy, i’m the dirtiest boy!”, he exclaimed, while flexing mightily.

first night and things were coming together perfectly. i wanted to get him as involved in the whole camping process as possible so he’d be enthusiastic for it and know what to expect. but, at the same time, i wanted to be sensitive to whether he was enjoying it or not. i ached for him to love it as much as i do, but didn’t want to smother him or push him into something that just wasn’t part of his make-up. watching the dust settle around my dirt encrusted son, my mug of awesome overflowed. from there, things just continued on that amazing arc of awesome.

hot dogs over an open fire. legit, messy s’mores. midnight barefoot dashes into the bushes to pee. camp flapjacks with cold butter. if you’ve done any camping, you know the sensations, flavours and smells of these things. each of which was exactly as it should be.

after a pretty sound, if not chilly, night sleep, we woke early. now, thunderclap is a 7am riser, but this day, nothing was going to keep him down. as i walked back to the tent at 5:30 after a visit to the dune, thunderclap’s voice rang out loud and clear across the campground.

“dun dun dun dun dah dah dun dah dah dun!”

he was singing the darth vader theme. at 5:30 in the morning. trying to keep from laughing loud enough to wake other campers [as if they weren't already awake now], i hurried to the tent to let my little star wars fan know that camping is communal and there are no walls to block sound. so, rather than sing, he threw on his fireman boots over his “planet awesome” fleece pajamas and headed back into the sand lumps and creosote bushes to play spiderman while i cooked breakfast.

breakfast done, we headed back to furnace creek to find out if the grandparents wanted to join us on some adventure for the day. we ended up tagging along on a hike from zabriske point down through golden canyon, the same places i fell in love with as a kid. thunderclap, though, was not content to “tag along”. no. he stepped right up to the group of 12 adults, of which i was probably the youngest, and said, “okay! let’s go! the trail is this way!” and off he went down the trail. he was a master guide, reading all of the trail signs and instructing everyone which way to go, ordering breaks when necessary and reminding people to drink their water. when we finally dropped down into golden canyon, thunderclap was beside himself with excitement. the rocks. oh, the rocks. “daddy? can we stay here?” you bet, buddy. you bet.

after a lunch of sammiches, we headed up to scotty’s castle. now, scotty has some awesome history and i recommend reading up on it because it just sorta rocks as an old west story. we took a tour of the castle and our fantastic tour guide, ranger scott combs, focused on the people and relationships of the castle rather than the furnishings, technology or construction. this was perfect for thunderclap as he got to hear a real life con-man/cowboy story and walk through a real life castle. he was transfixed by the tour and participated like a champ by answering questions and really taking everything in. following the tour, we visited the visitor center in which they had a cool kids fishing vest, mesh, with lots of pockets, and embroidered on the breast, “junior ranger”. i was so pleased with how well he’d done on the tour and generally just excited about how well the trip was going that i ended up getting him the vest.

on the ride back to our campsite, we got into a discussion and i can’t remember what prompted it, but i think it had something to do with him doubting whether he could be a junior ranger or not. i told him, “hey, you’ve learned a lot on this trip so far! i bet that if someone asked you questions that they’d normally ask a ranger, you’d be able to answer them.”

“hey ranger thunderclap? i want to go on a hike. what should i take with me?”

he responded in a deep and authoritative voice, “you should take water with you.”

“hey ranger thunderclap? are there lots of animals in death valley?”

“oh yes!”

“why don’t i see many?”

“oh, the animals you are looking for are nocturnal.”

and so on and so on until he realized, that yes indeed, he was ready to be a junior ranger and worthy of the vest he now wore.

saturday night saw him completely exhausted and crashing into his sleeping bag around 8pm. the wind had started to pick up a bit and i was a little concerned that the amplified sound in the tent would keep him awake. i was mistaken. he slept hard and missed out on most of the fun. i woke around 3am and looked outside the tent. the car was parked about 50′ away and i could no longer see it through the sandstorm. the wind was howling and buffeting the tent like mad. he did wake at one point, though, and i asked him if he heard that sound.

“yes, daddy”

“what do you think that is?”

“the WIND!”

“cool, isn’t it?”

“yeah!”

and then back to sleep. by morning the wind was mostly gone but everything was now coated with fine sand. thunderclap stayed in his bag a while after i got up and i could hear him talking to himself and singing again. i pulled out everything for breakfast and started boiling water for oatmeal and peeling oranges. thunderclap kept singing.

“yes jesus loves me. THE. BIBLE. TELLS. ME. SO!” perfect for sunday morning. if church should be held anywhere, this was the place.

after breakfast i set to cleaning up and packing up all of our things. thunderclap returned to the bushes and sand to continue his superhero adventures. once packed, i let thunderclap know it was about time to head out, but before we left i wanted to show him the sand dunes. but he didn’t want to leave.

“daddy, i want to play here! i’m not ready to leave!”

“did i tell you you’d like scotty’s castle?”

“yes”

“did i tell you you’d like hiking in golden canyon?”

“yes”

“well, trust me, not only will you like the sand dunes, but you’ll like them better than both of those.”

“okay, daddy”

so off we went to the sand dunes. his first step into the powdery sand was magical.

“DADDY! it’s so SOFT!”

and from there we were off to the races. trudge up a dune, roll down it’s face. scramble up another dune, roll down it’s face. up another and jump off it’s lip. over and over and over. at one point, we ended up in a wadi surrounded by dunes. the flaky clay bottom was fascinating to thunderclap. he sat and began peeling flakes away, marveling at their “dust explosions” when tossed. for the next hour the clay and sand was his movie set. while i walked the rims of the dunes, he crawled, rolled and threw his way through a fantastical story full of explosions, superheroes and the undead. finally, he finished his “movie” and we continued our exploration of the dunes.

that’s when we met ranger snow.

ranger jay snow is what i picture when i think of a park ranger. older; leathery, tanned skin; professional and personable. we started chatting with ranger snow and despite thunderclap’s early shyness with him, asked him all manner of questions with fantastic responses. part of the jr ranger program gives the kids the option to either participate in a ranger led program [which we had done at scotty's castle] or to interview a ranger. two questions are provided: “why did you become a ranger” and “what do you like best about death valley”; the jr ranger is required to provide his own, third, question. which is what thunderclap did.

“why do you wear a uniform?”

“well, i’m glad you asked. i wear this uniform to set myself apart. by wearing a uniform, people know that they can come to me with questions or if they need help. i also wear a tie as part of my uniform [yes, his uniform was complete with the dressy, green ranger tie] to set myself apart from other rangers, too. see, my daddy told me that gentlemen wear ties and every man should know how to tie a tie. and now, i never leave the house without a tie.”

heck yeah. what a great role model and fantastic representative of the national park system. the guy is either that good of a ranger, or he was firing on all cylinders that morning. every answer he gave provided instruction or fun and enthusiastic insight into nature. not only had the weekend been a success from a camping perspective and an adventure perspective, but now the trip was complete with a great example of leadership and authority in one of the national parks’ finest rangers.

by this point, we’d been in the dunes for over three hours and it was time for us to head on home. but we had one last stop before hitting the road. on our way out of the park, we stopped at the stovepipe wells ranger station one last time. thunderclap had his jr ranger vest on and jr ranger handbook in hand. we walked in and he promptly handed the book to the ranger on duty. the ranger thumbed through the book, made a comment about our interview with ranger snow with a knowing smile, and signed off on the handbook.

“are you ready to take your oath? raise your right hand and repeat after me.”

and with every ounce of sincerity and officiality in his body, thunderclap repeated the oath.

“i will help protect all national parks. i will leave rocks, plants and historic objects for others to enjoy. i will share what i learn with others.”

“congratulations, you are now a junior ranger for death valley national park.”

thunderclap received his badge, shook the ranger’s hand and beamed with pride. i pinned the badge on his vest and another park-goer in the station asked if she could take our picture. thunderclap was stoic and serious. this was official business. he walked outside for the photo with a new swagger in his walk. sure, ma’am, you can take a photo, but don’t keep me from my duties for too long.

success. it really has never tasted as sweet as this weekend. from his enthusiasm for everything we did, to his perfect behavior for the entirety of the weekend, to the perfection with the logistics of camping, to the volume of information and stories he learned during the trip. just success. and pride. i was proud of my little guy and just how receptive he was to everything, how adaptive he was and how enthusiastic he was. a dad couldn’t be any more proud. watching that same seed take root and knowing it’s potential surrounded me with a warm bubble of rad.

so, there’s a new ranger in town. got questions? thunderclap is your man.

that girl needs a shave

when gumbyhead announced that her next race was going to be the santa barbara marathon, i immediately offered to head up for the weekend and join her for the race.  i started working some longer road runs into my training and planned a weekend with our good friends, kevin & lesley.  since i ran my first race in support of someone [warren], i have found that i REALLY enjoy running the marathon distance as a pacer or as company for someone who could use the support.  so, the plans were set and i’d be at gh’s side trying to pace her for the sub four hour bq that she sought.  nothing special, nothing crazy, just encouraging words and a consistent pace.

and then we got to santa barbara.

kevin & lesley [and their kids, loganzilla and madisonasaurus] are THE. BEST. CREW. FAMILY. EVER.  they’ve supported me at several half marathons, triathlons and other distance races.  they never fail to be all over the course in expected and unexpected places with the support and encouragement that makes for highly memorable races.  in addition, the second kevin and i reconnect, we begin a downward spiral of humor. 

the climax for this weekend was on saturday night.  

kevin had pulled out the christmas boxes from the attic and we had uncovered a tub full of santa hats.  somehow, they had ended up with almost a dozen of santa hats with white braids.  odd, yes, but functional.  my head was cold, so i jokingly donned one to keep my noggin warm.  through dinner, we started joking about running the race with it on.  i lamented only having a day glow green running shirt and tights to accompany the hat and that’s when lesley disappeared from the dining table.

only to return with a red skirt from her high school days in drill team.

kevin then disappeared and returned with a plain white technical shirt for me to use.  and, before i knew it, i had signed up to run as ms. claus the following morning.  i debated stuffing a sports bra, but thought better of it, seeing as how it might cause significant chaffing.  i called gumbyhead after dinner and let her know i had something up my sleeve for the following day.  she seemed apprehensive, but willing.

at the race the next morning, i carried the skirt with me until just before the start [i had fleece pants on to keep warm].  as i put the skirt on, the looks began.  the double takes.  the triple takes.  the laughs.  the eye-rolls.  both mark and gumbyhead were laughing at the reactions they were seeing.

we toed the line shortly thereafter and headed on our way.

DSC_0052 this wasn’t really my race, so i had the simple task of running a consistent pace, playing sherpa for gumbyhead by grabbing stuff from the aid stations and giving words of encouragement.  that gave me much freedom and energy to ham it up for the crowds.  as i ran along in my cute red skirt and white braids, the reaction from the crowd was one of two things;  either they would notice the skirt from a ways off an shout something comical or they would see the hat, yell for ‘santa’ and then amend their statement as they noticed the skirt once i passed.  the reactions were a constant source of humor for me and i made a point of waving to everyone that interacted with me.  this gave me an endless fount of energy and kept a smile on my face for the entire run.

gumbyhead and i were fortunate to have drew show up around mile 3 or 4 and hang out with us for a bit.  he took a pit stop at one point, but we again bumped into him for several miles around his house and then again at the finish.  it was a real pleasure to meet up with him and to have him participate in our goofiness.

DSC_0033the race went really well for the most part, with us nailing a pace right around 9min/mile.  i was confident that gumbyhead would have her sub 4 bq.  but i failed her in one respect.  i didn’t bring a watch.  i REALLY should have had one and not relied on her garmin.  i would have known better when we started dropping time and how much we needed to pick back up.  as we approached the later miles of the race, gumbyhead had to make a pit-stop and waiting at the honey buckets for one to free up ate into our already tenuous time.  once we got going again we were playing catch up, but i was still confident that we’d be able to make up the time.  what i didn’t know, though, was just how bad the two final hills would take their toll on gh.  don’t get me wrong, she pushed hard and dug deeper than i’ve seen many people attempt in the marathon.  she gutted it out even when she doubted she was going to get her bq.

in the end, though, the bq slipped out of our reach, but gh STILL turned in a blistering fast last two miles to cross the line in 4:06.  the great thing about this race, aside from the camaraderie, scenery and weather [duh] was that gh had the opportunity to really dig and see what she’s capable of when things get really hard and bleak.  i’m confident that with a good training cycle where all the long runs are completed and a decent amount of speedwork is accomplished, she’ll see her goal.  i’m crossing my fingers that with the new job under her belt, that training cycle will finally materialize.

oh, and one last groovy thing was smsmh and tc were at the finish cheering for us as we came down the finishing chute.  it is always great to see them come out and support my craziness.  this time, though, smsmh had plopped one of those silly white-braid santa hats on tc’s head so we matched.  as i spotted them in the crowd, i circled back around, picked up tc and trotted across the finish line with him in my arms.  i got a great reaction out of the crowd and from the announcer who said something along the lines of “oh!  what’s this!  it’s two santas!  or, wait!  it’s ms claus and her helper!”  i was laughing, tc was laughing and the crowd was having a blast with it.

i can’t think of anything that would have made this race more enjoyable.  well, maybe a shave and wax.

soundtrack for this post
Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus? lick:
hipsters:
wax:
Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus? (Non-Album Track)
Guster
Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?

happy when it rains

i met with the president of the company i work for yesterday and got the final word on whether or not i’d be able to work remotely on a permanent basis.  the answer was no.  after asking around a bit, i figured out what the real reason behind the decision was and knowing that it wasn’t just an arbitrary decision, but one that i had been a little concerned about as well, made the disappointment a little less pronounced.  so, no move up to the sierras is currently planned.  as can be guessed, i’m significantly disappointed in the outcome, but trying to focus on the positive things that come out of remaining in southern california. 

foremost, i get to maintain the great working relationship that i currently have with my programmer.  the support system we have established in the way of friends and family will remain intact.  the awesome and ever motivating group of runners that i get to partner with will still be within reach.  so, good stuff, all that.

and, really, if you have a nightly routine like this, does it really matter WHERE you are:

soundtrack for this post
Darklands lick:
hipsters:
wax:
Happy When It Rains
The Jesus & Mary Chain
Darklands