Thursday, January 22, 2009

Inaugurated and DQ'd

The Capitol on Inauguration morning from our vantage point across the reflectiong pond.

In my family “DQ” means one of two things: the tasty Dairy Queen or the dreaded DisQualification. I have the distinct pleasure of having experienced both in the past week. The better was experienced on Friday night after my daughter’s basketball game when my nephew shared some of his DQ blizzard with me. It was a tasty Cookie Dough. The dreaded DQ came in the form of my biggest event at the Annapolis Swim meet.

Our TCY Masters team had a great showing at the Arundel Olympic Aquatic Center in Annapolis last Saturday. I swam in a record 5 events including 2 relays. Our team was a clear winner enabling us to reclaim first place in the state of Maryland for the 2009 series. We have 2 meets left.
Relay-mates Bill, Frank, Mark, and I after swimming our 400 yrd freestyle relay.

The event I felt I could do best in was the 200 yard breaststroke. Our entire team was swimming this event and I was doing very well. However, I lost count of my lengths. At the end of 6 lengths I stopped, thinking I had done 8. The silly mistake of losing count and “breaking form” earned me a disqualification. I was disappointed, of course, considering mine was the only DQ for the team in that meet. I know I’ll have another chance to swim that event at another meet, so the sting was not that bad. But, I really didn’t want to be the cause of our team not winning. My worries were for nothing as everyone swam very well and earned us a place on the top podium.

My running schedule has been a bit light over these winter months. I get out for a run about once a week, if that. However, Monday provided a fabulous opportunity to run in Washington, DC. My daughter, a friend, and I went to DC for two days to partake in the Inauguration of the new president. After our arrival Monday afternoon, the girls took off shopping and I took off on a reconnaissance run. With over a million people predicted for the inauguration, I wanted to see where we were supposed to be. We had tickets for a standing-room-only area in front of the Capitol building next to the reflection pond. It was an 4 mile run from my niece’s house (where we stayed) to our “spot” in front of the Capitol. My route took me through some sleepy streets in Georgetown, across the Canal, and to the trail lining the river. This trail took me to the back side of the Lincoln Memorial where I crossed the road, rounded the front, and paused to awe at the statue of a man we owe a great deal.

From the Lincoln Memorial I ran straight to the Capitol passing the Washington Monument. I ran on paths, open lawn, and streets. There are 4 main streets that paralleled my course: Constitution, Madison, Jefferson, and Independence Avenues. They all were lined with buses and media trailers. There was much excitement in the air. Many people were out and about; some protesting, some gathering, some sightseeing. It was exciting for me to weave in and out of the throngs of people. Running was by far the best way to get around that late afternoon.

Once I reached my destination at the edge of the reflecting pond I gazed at the setting sun’s warm light illuminating the Capitol dressed in patriotic colors. The light was incredible. I wished I had a camera then. The crowds were no less on my return to Georgetown; it seemed more people were turning out as evening worn on. It became a great game to dodge people; good fun. After a shower, dinner, and a movie, we hit the hay.
The National Mall from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the wee hours of Inauguration morning.

Morning came with a vengeance. At 6:45 the girls and I left Georgetown on bikes following the same paths I ran the day before. We had to leave our bikes with Honest Abe and walk the remaining 2 miles to the Capitol. At 8:30 we were on our spot for the inauguration which wouldn’t start for another 3 hours. The crowds were un-be-leive-able! Had we waited any longer we never would have gotten to our ticketed area, never!
The throngs of well-wishers to our back for as far back as the Potomac River.

The Inauguration was worth waiting for. We stood among 1.4 million people in the cold to listen to the first black man to take a simple oath to the highest office in our land. We stood directly behind a farmer from the Midwest and an Arabian man. There were people of every walk of life and color. It was a great testament to the principles in which our country was founded. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend in person.

Leaving was fantastic, as well. Though we arrived with a crowd (1000’s) to get to our area early it took the Mall 4 hours to fill up after we were settled. When the main event was finished everyone (100,000's) started to move at once. Three times we came to a complete standstill where my body was touching 5 others at the same time. the girls and I had our arms hooked together so we wouldn’t lose each other. Someone would climb a traffic pole to give those of us near a report. At 12th Street the report was that Independence Avenue was jammed for 3 blocks in all directions with sardined people. We were again lucky to be able to break free of the crowds. Our destination required only us to move our legs, not wait for a bus or metro rail. Even with our advantage it took us 2 hours to get back to Georgetown. Incredible.

The monuments at Washington still give me chills when I see them. The greatness of our predecessors’ actions is often too much for me to comprehend. I would love to have our running group (RUR’s) make a road trip one day to DC for a run around all the monuments (and their stairs). Let’s pick a day. Love, swim, bike, and run…..

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The New Year is Happening

The Ladies on Pee Wee's Trail in the Tuckahoe forest during our Christmas Eve/Eve trail run.

This is the first New Year of my life that I start as a triathlete. It does not seem any different than in other years except for one major aspect: the desire to do a full Ironman…someday. What the heck is that? Did I really just type that? I must be oxygen deprived!!! I guess it must start with a desire, and things “happen” from there. We’ll see. It’s on the table.

What’s been the coolest part of training for and doing races (swimming, running, and triathlons) is meeting people. I start this New Year with a swim team full of new friends and a running group full of new friends. That is what I would call a successful year, and in that regard 2008 was a STELLAR year!

It’s the dead of winter, the wind is blowing, its been 3 weeks since my bike has seen action, weekly running miles are down to about 10, and I’m feeling sluggish. This has got to be a resting period for my body; a nice slow inhale before spring training takes a hold. Etched into my core is the weakness I’ve acquired for nice days. And, particular I am…nice windless, warm days. The danger I see in myself is that if a perfect riding day comes along, I’ll drop “my mother” to go for a spin. That’s both good and bad. I’m hoping the year 2009 becomes a year of “balance”.

There’s been some good things since I wrote last, too many to elaborate upon, so I’ll try to summarize:
· December 20th – I swam my second swim meet at the Catonsville YMCA. Our team took 3rd overall and we now stand in 2nd place for the state of Maryland. I personally took two seconds and a third in my individual events. My 100 yard breaststroke time was 1:19.66 seconds and I finally got under 30 seconds in my 50 yrd freestyle.

· I started leading workouts in the pool on Tuesday morning for the Rise Up Runners, yes, “runners” in the pool. It’s been fun to share what I’ve learned over the past 8 months in Masters. We’ve had as many as 7 in the pool swimming intervals. These guys are great!

· On Tuesday, December 23rd, I received one of my best Christmas presents: my two daughters, two nieces, and Lori allowed me to take them to the Tuckahoe trails for a 5 mile run. They humored me as the 6 of us tromped in the 22 degree, still air through the forest. We enjoyed Clif shot gels at the fishing bridge, and Olivia climbed in “Mother Hollow” for a photo op. We did the 5ish mile loop in just over an hour. The ladies were hardly winded. We celebrated our run by drinking milkshakes and eating grilled cheeses at Hill's Drugstore.
The smallest of the Ladies trying out Mother Hollow's hiding place.

· Swim workouts with the Stingrays is one of my most sought after times. The workouts have been challenging and I’m seeing improvements in my strokes.

· I swam twice while in Maine at the Boothbay Region YMCA. I’m thankful for that Y and their warm hospitality despite the sub freezing temperatures of the outdoors.

· My first run of the New Year was to Dodge Point in Maine in 5 degrees with wind-chill hovering around minus 12 degrees. The footing was on trail covered with frozen post-holed snow. Interesting. Other than when I was buried under the bedclothes, that cold run was actually one of the warmest moments I spent in Maine. Brrrrrr!

My next competitive event a large swim meet in Annapolis. I may swim in a 500 yard freestyle event, but we’ll see. Love, swim, ride, and run ~