The Road Race Directors

Busy Fall days approach and I am deliquent with my blog posts. Oh well. Our lives are full in a good way so I will not utter a single moan of complaint!



We just returned from a fun-filled four day vacation in The White Mountains and I have a few cute video clips which I will share but I first wanted to share the clip below.



Allie's, Anna's and Emily's imaginations and creativity continue to blossom, giving Sarah and I great joy. A great example is from the afternoon when we returned from The Falmouth Road Race and the girls spent a solid two hours playing "road race" with their various toy characters. Most impressive was the fact that they had a wheelchair division in their imaginary races:



Welcome Changes

Today is full of little rain showers cloudy skies and slightly cooler temperatures.  I couldn’t be happier about it.  I love each season for its’ very own reasons and this summer has been absolutely glorious but I’m ready for a change up.
This summer has been filled with blazingly hot and sunny days.  Practically every day has had that perfect summer feel. We haven’t had to cancel or adjust plans thanks to inclement weather and have done so much this year because of it.
I need those not so perfect summer days on occasion however.  The changes remind me to relax, to slow down and to simply be. I’ve come to realize just how much I love the changing season and the constant up and down that is the normal pattern of Manitoba weather.    
The same thing day in and day out this year has worn on me a little as well as my yard and garden.  My lawn only managed a few short weeks of bright green life before surrendering to the heat and falling back to dormancy. So although a great summer It has made me realize just how important those not so perfect days are as well. They make the good ones brighter in more ways than one.
My poor garden has never ever looked as badly or dull as it does this year. Nothing has wanted to grow in this heat and much of what did grow was eaten by deer unable to find enough in the forest.  My vegetables have been practically non-existent or un-harvestable anyways. Flowers and plants which normally thrive through the entire summer barely lasted a few short weeks.
I’ve happily exchanged my normally bright garden for the endless weeks of summer. The only downfall having been not getting that fully blooming garden I love was worth the great summer. Even if I can’t help but be a little disappointed in the tiny amounts of fresh veggies, garden herbs and berries I managed to get knowing what I have gotten so far is all I’ll get.
I don’t know if I’m quite ready for fall to hit full force as I’m still having summer fun but I’m happy to see the little changes begin.  As long as we get through the rest of the outdoor sports season relatively unscathed I’ll certainly remember this summer as having been a good one.   

Writing Challenge

Picture prompt


Night falls with the snow. Lazily drifting through the sky to come and rest upon the earth. A faint impression of what once came wandering across that expanse of white slowly fading.  By days first light gone as if never been. Remembered but no longer seen. A clean canvas on which to begin anew.

Power Mad

I have joined a dragon boat team which will be competing in an annual festival held in support of a well known charity.  My idea was that I would have a bit of fun and raise money for a worthwhile charity at the same time.
While I am enjoying myself for the most part and am glad to have joined I’m becoming extremely disappointed in the boating company hired to organize the event.  Someone needs a paddle up their ass and it isn’t me. This threat was used on our dragon boat team prior to our first practice when going over the rules of participation.
Now at the time I did consider it a little crude in fact I considered his entire speech somewhat crude. Yes fine there are rules and they are expected to be followed certainly but there are ways of communicating those rules to all the participants without being a complete asshole. We are all adults who understand the importance of safety rules and regulations.   
It very much seems the person in charge of the boats has gone a little power mad and is looking for every opportunity to assert his authority.  He has continually spoken to us as if we are recalcitrant children who need a stern talking too. Having followed all rules and regulations put before us I’m at a loss as to why we are being treated with suspicion or indeed with a total lack of respect.

Our captain happens to be friends with a member of the dragon boat company and she informed us that our team was under suspicion and being watched carefully.  The reasoning behind this was not that we had broken any rules but because we are a new team and it is apparently considered standard to treat a new team as if they are untrustworthy amd expected to break the rules. 

Being placed under a microscope faced with unwarranted suspicion is blatantly disrespectful while facing people who abuse a minor position of authority is in no way encouraging. This attitude causes the organization to lose existing teams and discourages new people from joining and adding more support. Sadly what truly suffers from this type of attitude is the charity it is meant to benefit.

My first interview on GirlGamer.com





This is huge for me, I'm really excited about this article\interview on GirlGamer.com. The article is about the ladies that work at 'Katun Game Studios' and I'm one of them =) This is my first interview ever so I'm super happy about it. Special thanks to my co-worker Heidi "HB" Duran.



To read the full interview\article please click here

http://www.girlgamer.com/zine/article/1477/

Finishing Falmouth - 2011.

I pounded downhill with the finish line in sight and with hopes of at least matching my strong finishing time of 2010. I knew I had at least attained one goal: keep my streak of consecutive completions of Falmouth going! With the addition of automated time tracking via a computer "chip" on runners' bibs, the finish line at the Falmouth Road Race does not have any of the finishing chutes common in smaller, local road races.

I had crossed the finish line of Falmouth 2011 and had done so in a very respectable time for my division!

My plan was to get hydrated, maybe grab a snack, and then walk back to meet Sarah and the girls just outside Falmouth Center on Main Street. Finishing Falmouth in under an hour has its benefits in that the field (where runner refreshments are handed out) is not too crowded. I did one loop of the field to see what was being offered and although the hot dogs were tempting, I maintained some control and passed on that item. I grabbed a frozen ice cream treat, a drink, a bag of Cape Cod potato chips and started the walk to meet my family.

Falmouth 2011 was a definite success in many ways - I had my best time finishing since 2003, I raised over $2,600 for the Spina Bifida Association of Greater New England (SPAGNE), AND I proved to myself that if I put the training in, I can run competitive times. Finding the time to train is the hard part with three little munchkins to care for, though. Maybe some day, like my brother Jack, I will run in the same race as one of my daughters. Maybe.

SBA

Lab - Concept Design & 3D Artwork





Detective Jack Swain - Undercover FBI Agent

Meet Detective; Jack Swain. Jack is an FBI Detective undercover. Most of the time Jack dresses up as a hobo in order to fight the crime in the city of Centralia, PA - Population of 7 people; Jack is one of them, he thinks he's an FBI Agent but he's so not, it's all in his head, the zombies in Centralia messed him up a little.



Here's some basic, interesting info about Centralia, PA, just for you guys.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia,_Pennsylvania

Nearly Skunked

As I’ve said before my house is adjacent to Assiniboine forest where I walk every morning.  I take one of the two paths which pass through the center of the forest.  Where they cross I turn back the way I came, about a fifteen minute walk in all. 
This morning however it almost became a much longer walk. A skunk has taken up residence somewhere near the entrance to the path I use. I’ve heard it rustling around a number of times and had caught a glimpse of black and white but nothing sure enough to know it was a skunk.
Thats no kitty

I’m quite sure it’s a skunk now. This morning after I passed its hiding place it decided to saunter out and sit itself down smack dab in the center off the path. No I didn’t get sprayed, trust me this post would contain some very choice words had that happened but it was a near thing.  
I knew something was on the path shortly after having turned around to head back as the dog had suddenly gone all perky and excited.  The underbrush and grass on either side of the path has is about waist high and the path curves just ahead of where the skunk sat so I wasn’t able to see it until I was practically on top of it.
I froze the second I caught sight of it reeling the leash in as fast as possible. The dog despite my sudden fright was still hoping for a new friend to meet and was doing his best to maintain our forward momentum. At times like this I can’t help but think a smaller dog might be a better idea.
If he was so inclined and I didn’t get a chance to plant my feet he could easily pull me over or drag me along but thankfully he has been well trained and as soon as I said “leave it” he came to a halt. So there skunk and I stood staring at each other neither sure exactly what to do now.
The dogs low “I want to go” whine started in the back off his throat a sound I know will often lead to a single high pitched bark of impatience and started walking backwards. The skunk either disliking the whine or the movement growled and turned its tail.  I have no doubt had the dog actually barked I would not be having a good day.
As the skunk stood there tail turned and twitching I decided walking down the path to the far side of the forest and around was probably the best choice.  I’m still limping badly and I didn’t really have the time to do it but given the alternative I was going around.
As soon as I got a few feet further from the skunk it took off through the brush at a speed I didn’t know skunks possessed so I stopped and watched until the moving grass was far off the path and made my way out of the forest and home as quickly as possible. Home has never smelt better.

Visual Development





3D Camera Movement - 3D Lab

Falmouth: the final three miles.

Although the last three miles of the Falmouth Road Race can be difficult for runners, it is also fun.

Knowing I only had one final obstacle to overcome with the hill at about the 6.7 mile mark, I felt fairly strong and was in good spirits as I turned right off Shore Street onto Clinton Ave. As usual, the crowds here energized me with their screams of encouragement – it was time to start looking for my family in that crowd!

In years past, a sister-in-law had watched the race from the right-hand side of Clinton Ave. so I kept my eyes over there and spotted Sue. We exchanged a quick greeting and I continued on, looking now to my left, very much anxious to see my daughters’ reactions when they saw their daddy. The crowd seemed deeper than usual along this part of the race, which makes it a little tougher to maintain pace and look for family without missing them. Fortunately, I caught sight of my mother-in-law Sheila about thirty feet out.

With my first Falmouth being about 15 years ago, my life was obviously different in 1996. In my early thirties and newly divorced, running had become a way to rediscover myself. Pounding the pavement for minutes or hours allowed me time to not only regain some fitness I had lost, but also to gain some much needed spiritual focus. The first few years running Falmouth were years spent building (and re-building) friendships, family, and self. Fifteen plus years later, I was now running Falmouth as a father to four year old identical triplet girls, father to an angel we named Abigail, and a husband to a strong and warm-hearted woman. This would be the third year my daughters would be watching me run, but the first year in which they had some clue as to what running a race was about. So…I had more reason to be anxious about seeing them.

A few minutes earlier I had grabbed a lei from a woman in the crowd who was passing them out to runners. My intention was to surprise Anna with the pink lei when I stopped to give her a kiss. As I approached my family, I saw Sarah holding Anna and they both had huge smiles on their faces – what a feeling! I got either a kiss or high-five from each of my daughters and was on my way to the mile 5 mark before Anna, Allie or Emily could figure out what their daddy was doing! With the adrenaline now on HIGH, I was ready to finish the remaining 2+ miles…



As I jumped back into the pack, I glanced back for another look at my family. With each strike of my Saucony treads hitting the pavement, I felt a sense of gratitude for what we had as a family. I also thought of Anna and how she can brighten a room with her warm heart and sweet voice. Even though working full-time, taking MBA level classes and being a husband and dad, while fundraising and training for this 7.1 mile race was difficult at times, I could not complain. How could I not run this race for Anna and all the other children (and adults) with spina bifida? My eyes began to water as I ran. I still do not know if the tears which wanted to flow were tears of gratitude, sadness or joy. It doesn’t really matter, I guess. Because the tears proved that I was running from my heart (literally and figuratively).

The sixth mile at Falmouth, which runs adjacent to Falmouth Inner Harbor, went by fairly quickly for me. And, given the fact that I always find mile 6 to be difficult, I was fine with that! The one thing I will say is that the whistle-blowing lifeguard runner who I had run alongside earlier in the race was back alongside me. Let’s just say that the whistle-blowing did not have the same positive effect it had on me during mile four…we turned right onto Falmouth Heights Road and I got ready for the last mile and a half. My pace had slowed slightly, but I knew I still had an opportunity to reach at least one of the goals I had set for myself. My wind was fine, but my legs began to feel a bit sluggish. The final hill was going to be tough.

The base of the hill is beyond the 6.5 mark – just as Grand Ave. turns left. Earlier the same day I had told a Falmouth first-timer “just remember - if you feel like you are going to vomit going up the final hill, you are not alone!” Similar to the Boston Marathon’s Heartbreak Hill, the final hill at Falmouth is placed such that it can really zap a runner if the runner is not ready for it. I was ready mentally, but I wasn’t feeling very confident in my body at this point in the race. Time to focus. I started the inner chatter: “take it little by slow…just get to the top…the finish is near…suck it up…”. I hit flat pavement. And then downhill. The enormous American flag came into view and the cheering of the crowds continued as I picked up the pace in hopes of reaching my goal…

Next post: final thoughts on Falmouth 2011.

KICKS COUNT

Picture Day 20



          Some of my favorite flowers from this years garden.


3D Lab - Final Version + Lighting







A Little Funk


So I’m in a bit of a funk today thanks to my cold and a hornet sting with some nasty results and I hate being in a funk. I was stung by a hornet twice on my foot Monday (I stepped on it) and after running errands all evening my knee went out and my heel cracked badly from walking funny so now I’m unable to bear any weight on that leg at all today. The place where I was stung thankfully has stopped hurting.
I feel like I should be in a good mood though as I had a wonderful date night last night with my husband.  We went to dinner and a movie and what made it even better is that it was a free date night. Thanks to gift certificates all we paid for was the tip at the restaurant. Also for the first time we didn’t even have to arrange for a babysitter as E is now old enough to babysit. 
After dinner we went to see Rise of Planet of The Apes and I think it was done fairly well and went with the original story nicely. Or so I thought, it’s been years since I saw the original so I could be way off base.  We admittedly got terrible seats at the theatre, 2nd row from the front, resulting in some rather cricked necks but we both just made the best of the seating and tried to enjoy it anyways.
The only thing that actually bothered me about the lack of seating other than the 90 degree angle of the screen was the large number of groups which had left a single empty seat between themselves and the next group or couple. This left a number of good seats but none together, when a theatre is that busy the idea of a courtesy seat is not so much a courtesy and much more of a hindrance.
It was still fun though and it was novel to watch a whole movie without having to take A to the washroom mid-way through or say shush every few minutes.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to follow a movie when you can actually pay attention to what is on screen.

Falmouth: Second 3rd of the Race

When I run Falmouth or any other race, I usually break the run into thirds. Having completed the first 1/3 of the race, it was now important for me to find a comfortable rhythm and go with it through at least mile 5. I was in that spot and felt good. The humidity seemed to have increased, but there was still decent cloud cover and the temperature seemed to be holding in the mid to upper 70’s.

Shortly after passing the mile 3 mark, the Falmouth Road Race comes out of the shade and out to the open air with the surf of the Atlantic ocean to the right of the runners. The majority of miles 4 and 5 are run on a flat stretch of Surf Drive – unfortunately in fifteen years running Falmouth I have never felt any beneficial breeze during this part of the race. What runners do benefit from is the energized crowd, however. Whether it is year-round residents or renters viewing the race for the first time, the crowd along Surf Drive is electric! And, sure enough, about ½ to ¾ along Surf Drive was a gentlemen with his amplified guitar belting out some tunes for us – thank you!

Knowing I would see my wife Sarah, my daughter Anna and the rest of my family shortly definitely was a huge help mentally at this point in the race. Long gone was the adrenaline of the start. Falmouth does not get easier with each mile – it gets tougher.

As we ran along the beach, I heard a loud whistle from behind me. And then another. A male runner (probably in his twenties) wearing a Falmouth Lifeguard t-shirt, had a whistle around his neck! He started blowing his whistle at the crowd and waving his hands to get the viewers to cheer. And cheered, they did! I generally do not feed off this type of stuff during a race, but I thought this guy was an original. His whistling and the crowd reaction helped push me along for the next mile or so. Thanks lifeguard “Joe”.

I continued along Surf Drive and just as Surf turns to the left and becomes Shore Street I heard a woman scream out “way to go Kathy from Accounting” “Kathy from Accounting – whoa!” Okay maybe her name was not Kathy, but given I have been a boring accountant for my entire career, I got a real kick (and boost) from this crowd-to-runner exchange. We now would approach the extremely loud DJ screaming names on the left hand side of the road. Another guy who has been there pretty much every year I have run Falmouth.

I was now at about the 4.5 mile mark and approaching the spot where I should start looking for my family and the reason why I was running Falmouth.

Next post: seeing my daughter Anna…


Writing Challenge 14

Flash Fiction prompt, taken from - doingthewritething.wordpress.com:

Imagine Opening a door in your home, or any door you've opened hundreds or thousands of times, and behind that door is not what has always been there. Instead, it opens into somewhere else.  Some other part of this world or another world entirely. 

After a long day I stepped into my bathroom a few moments ago to start the water closing the door on my way out so steam could build up.  In the few moments it took me to get undressed and gather my towels something changed. 

Opening the door again there is steam aplenty the air hot and humid.  I see a vast expanse of spongy moss and leafy plants that disappear into the mist.  Either I’m losing my mind or something extraordinary has happened here. I step backwards and close the door.

5 minutes spent staring at the door I’m still not sure if I should open it again. Looking back over my shoulder I can’t help but think how I would explain standing, staring at the closed bathroom door stark naked to my husband or one of the kids.

I slowly push the door open again to find everything completely normal. It must have been a trick of the imagination nothing was changed just my overtired brain producing some weird optical illusion.

 Stepping over the edge of the tub into the warm soothing water the aromatic bubbles popping around me I realize how silly I’m being. I just need to relax; I lean my head back take a deep breath and close my eyes trying to forget what I know I first saw opening the bathroom door.

I slip down under the bubbles further and further and still further.  What the hell? I push back up breaking the surface of what is most definitely not my bathtub but a huge watery expanse. Ok I’m not imagining this but if I’m not imagining it how exactly did this happen and where in the world am I.

I swim toward the edge of the water trying not to jump as I feel something swim past my bare legs.  At the edge I look around at the amazingly tall trees and lush forest floor surrounding me. I’m naked as a jay bird and not sure if I should get out.

Something big knocks into my legs again convincing me to get out. Crouched on the side of the water I peer into the dark misty air around me not sure what I’m looking for, a door maybe I think to myself with a nervous giggle. 

It’s quiet, quieter than I have ever heard a forest or jungle or whatever this is, a rainforest maybe?  It’s certainly hot enough. I reach over to a plant with giant leaves pulling one off and wrapping myself in it.  What kind of tree makes leaves big enough to cover a whole person in?

I hear a loud rustle right behind me as a gush of super hot air and an unbelievable putrid smell rushes over me.  I slowly turn around and scream face to face with what appears to be a giant reptile.  I close my eyes praying that next time I open them I’m safe at home in my bath or anywhere other than here.

Stuffed and Aching

If someone could just show up and do my work today that would be great, and my blog post while they’re at it.  I’m not sure if the weekend has caught up to me or if this stiffness and achiness which has developed the past few days has turned into a full blown cold. I’m going to guess a little bit of both.
It was a rather busy weekend including a pretty fair sized party my husband and I had on Saturday. Doing it as often as we have it’s actually become much easier, certainly more so than the first time I tried to host 20+ people in our home. I now seem to have it down to an art even if it is still rather tiring.
I was exhausted long before the party even began as my morning had kicked off with over an hour paddling in the Red River practicing for the up-coming dragon boat festival. I tried my best to ignore the pounding headache and half seized muscles that developed shortly after practice ended with the aid of several advil but by the time the last of our guests had left at 1:30 in the morning I was quite ready to see them off.
Both Friday evening and Sunday were nice full days as well and it has somewhat left me feeling like I’ve had my ass kicked today. Refusing to slow down when I get sick does tend to leave me in a state of utter exhaustion and completely wiped out when it hits full force but I enjoyed every last minute of fun along the way.
Well at least the insomnia that’s been plaguing my sleep the past week was absent when I finally collapsed into bed Saturday night, or should I say Sunday morning. See I knew there was a silver lining to getting so tired.    

My first screen credits

This is pretty huge for me; my first screen credits for an animated short. The short was produced for the Drawing With Fred cable access series aired in Massachusetts.

Summer Storm

I forgot how much I love a good storm.  It’s been an unusually dry summer so far and besides a few sprinkles there hasn’t been one all summer.  I’m certainly not complaining as it’s been fabulous, and the mosquitoes haven’t been around much.  They started coming out for a short while but quickly disappeared again in the endless heat. 
It was not that big of a storm compared to the window shaking wind whipping all night kind of storm seen in past years but it was enjoyed all the same.  In the late evening the sky suddenly went dark and big black clouds started rolling in. 
My husband and I went outside as the darkness moved in from the west and the wind started to pick up. We both started going around the yard lowering hanging plants, picking up the cushions from the patio furniture and throwing light weight things into the garage.
Then we stood arm in arm and just watched. The fresh somewhat sweet smell of damp air carried on the wind.  We listened to the great and constant roll of thunder echoing around us.  Watching as the lightning lit up the layers of clouds making intricate patterns in the evening sky as the clouds moved and ebbed along.  
There is a spell-binding quality to a stormy evening sky that pulls me in, makes me want to be quiet and watchful.  There is something to be said for standing in nature’s path knowing safety and warmth is a step behind you should it get to be too much.  

Falmouth Road Race: The First Three Miles.

The starting line of the Falmouth Road Race is at the heart of Woods Hole, the home of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution or WHOI. As described on their website, it is “the world's largest private, nonprofit ocean research, engineering and education organization”. Added to the history of the race, the caliber of runners, and the pure beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and Martha’s Vineyard on the horizon, you almost have to be a zombie if you are not pumped as a runner.

The national anthem begins and 10,900+ runners go silent out of respect.
The US Coast Guard does a flyover.

"Two minutes to the start of the 39th running of the Falmouth Road Race" The runners cheer.

BANG! They are off.

Off we go, a sea of runners – first over a narrow metal draw bridge, then up a small hill past store fronts on the right and a few residences and commercial properties on the left. And throngs of cheering, enthusiastic runners on both sides. Although I would not have family at the start this year, I am reminded of years past when both my mother and dad (God rest his soul) stood among the crowd near the start to cheer me and other family members on. After we passed by, my parents would get in their car and drive up further (close to mile 5) to cheer us on again. Memories like that make Falmouth special.

As I ran that first ¼ to ½ mile I looked to the left, as I always do, at the Atlantic Ocean with Martha’s Vineyard in the distance. I thought of my dad and I also thought of my niece Julie who had cystic fibrosis and for whom I ran in memory of in 2002. And I thought of our daughter Abigail for whom every run of mine is dedicated. And, I of course, I thought of our daughter Anna; I would run my hardest because Anna and many others with spina bifida are not able to run.

At about the ½ mile mark, the race turns right and down a hill into a shaded rolling terrain before opening to what I consider the most scenic part of the course – the approach to Nobska Lighthouse! The one mile mark is at the base of the hill to Nobska Lighthouse - I usually have a good feel at this point in the race of how the race will play out for me. And, given my age and experience with Falmouth, I know to run the course with humility, not cockiness. That is how I approached the hill at Nobska – with humility.

My time at mile 1 was under 8:30. I was happy.

As runners approach Nobska, it is almost a guarantee that the theme song from the movie Rocky will be blaring. And no, that song has not gotten old for this runner!

As I took in the scenery and the cheering crowd, I remembered John H. (a former work colleague) had told me that he would be rooting me along at Nobska. And, even though I was skeptical of spotting him, I made sure to look. Sure enough, I spotted John standing on the lawn in front of Nobska Lighthouse! This is a guy who I had not seen in about 8-9 years and I pick him out of the crowd. The best part is that he spotted me! We exchanged acknowledgements and down the hill I went with the last view of ocean for about another two miles.


I rode the emotional charge of seeing John for about the next ½ to ¾ of a mile before settling into a nice rhythm as I scampered through the wooded and rolling pavement of the next couple of miles. This part of the race can be difficult mentally due to the fact that there are not as many cheering people and runners have come down from the “high” runners often experience the first mile.



Both my second and third miles were @8:20 pace. This was good.




To be continued…

Picture Day 20

This is the riverwalk which follows the Assiniboine river inWinnipeg and is an old picture.  I haven't walked along this path in years as high river levels keep it open less and less. 
This year like so many recent ones it is only being used by these guys.
This is The Forks harbour the walkways starting point. The triangle rock you see marks the inside edge of the 6ft wide path, the river still covers about 15-20ft of what should be dry land.
For the first time since it was built in the mid eighties it appears water levels won't drop for the entire season and there will be no riverwalk at all this year. 

Short And Not So Sweet

I’ve dealt with short periods of insomnia since I was a teen and I’ve never really figured out how to prevent it.  It often follows periods of stress but not always and each time I figure out a trigger or a way to ease it a new dynamic crops up and I’m back to square one.
The past few times I’ve had issues with insomnia have been different. My problem has always been in falling asleep not staying asleep. In fact I’m such a sound sleeper that when my oldest was born I worried her cries wouldn’t wake me.
The past few times I’ve had sleep issues it has included waking up in the middle of the night which has never happened before.  It doesn’t seem to have an impact on how long a bout lasts, which is about a week, but I get hit by it much harder and much faster.   
Last night under my normal pattern of insomnia I still would have gotten an OK sleep, well comparatively.  Instead I woke up after only 2 hours and never managed to really sleep again, drifted once in awhile but never found that deep restful state again.
People who have never had problems with sleep don’t understand how a lack of sleep affects you.  I’m normally an optimistic things will work out kind of person. After a few nights with little or no sleep it seems nothing will work out, the world is coming to an end and it all just sucks. I’m in a constant state of agitation and generally anxious.
Usually it takes a few days of slowly worsening sleep to get that bad, this time after only one night I’m already there.  So I shall say adieu as my current state of mind would just lead to some unreasonable blog about how I hate some innocuous stupid little thing, like insomnia.  

Falmouth Road Race: The Starting Line

The start:
Sometime after arriving at Woods Hole, I heard that the start of the race would be delayed 10 minutes - another first for this road race. Given the shuttle bus fiasco, it made sense to delay the start, but it was still unacceptable to me.

Given the number of runners at the start, it is normally somewhat challenging to find a comfortable spot for runners to rest their legs before finding a place in their designated starting corral. This year, however, I was able to plop down on a wall overlooking some of the docks. I sat and watched the runners pass while a photographer from MarathonFoto snapped pictures.

Falmouth is great in that there is a great variety of runners - from the world class elite professional runners to the weekend warriors. And, although many years removed from the party scene, I could relate to one conversation I overheard at the start: "Ya, my uncle is running the race drunk...he worked last night, starting drinking beers at @2:00 am this morning and switched to the hard stuff around 7:00." They were from Dorchester, Mass - think his uncle is Irish?

Anyway...I'm sitting there people watching and I see this younger guy (college age, maybe) all excited saying "Tedy Bruschi....Tedy Bruschi...I cannot believe it". So, sure enough, I see a group of about 6-7 runners appear, all wearing the same blue-colored singlets. And, sure enough, one of the runners was Tedy Brushi wearing an elite colored bib - #54! I did not approach him, but instead was entertained watching other runners react to seeing him, especially the female runners! Two "girls" were in line for the port-a-potty and they produced beaming smiles at the sight of him. Tedy gave a charming smile back while he got his iPod ready and he and the other Tedy's Team members moved on to their starting corrals. I have a feeling those girls still have those ear-to-ear smiles today!

Before I got on my feet, I was approached by a fellow runner who was also running for the spina bifida association. It was a nice light conversation, but also a good reminder of why I was really running Falmouth this year.

Off to my starting corral I went...

Since I have run Falmouth, the organizers have used a wave start, which is definitely necessary. A wave start in a road race is when start times are in “waves”. Rather than having almost 11,000 runners stampeding each other with the start of the race, runners are grouped according to their expected finishing times. As a major road race, Falmouth has a field of elite (really fast) runners who are placed at the front and begin their run about 10-15 minutes after the wheelchairs. Although this system works well, I have been told the course can still be quite congested for runners in the rear groups. I have been fortunate to be placed in one of the front groups each year so I can usually do my desired pace after getting through the first 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile.

Before getting to my corral, however, I had to get through an extremely congested area where runners were very close to pushing each other. It was ridiculous the way they had the entrances to the front corrals this year. Again, thank you for the change, New Balance.

Despite the frustration, standing elbow to elbow with the 10,000 other runners while our national anthem played and The US Coast Guard did a flyover, is a feeling which is almost indescribable. I was ready to run.

To be continued...the first few miles next post.

Writing Challenge 13

Diamante Poem
A diamante is a poem constructed of 7 lines forming a diamond pattern. 

Line 1: one word, subject (noun)
Line 2: two adjectives
Line 3: three verbs
Line 4 four nouns (two each relating to line 1&7)
Line 5: three verbs
Line 6: two adjectives
Line 7: noun opposite of line 1


sunrise
bright, begin
rising, warming, renewing
expansion, light, night, compress
fading, spreading, settled
cool, complete
sunset

Falmouth Road Race 2011

This past Sunday, I completed the 39th running of The Falmouth Road. And I am also proud to report that my time was a very respectable time for my age group - I finished ahead of almost 9,000 runners (there was almost 11,000 total) and ahead of about 1,000 in my division. Not bad for a middle-aged dad to triplets!

I have run the scenic, yet challenging 7.1 mile race every year since 1996 and as such I know the course and race logistics very well.

Saturday (the day before the race):

I didn’t run, but spent the mid-summer day with Sarah and the girls. We did some errands in the morning and then took Allie, Anna and Emily swimming in my brother’s above-ground pool in the afternoon. After putting the girls to bed, I was exhausted as I had not yet recovered from the effects of our drive to Michigan two weeks earlier. After phoning in our order for dinner from a local pub-restaurant, I plopped myself down on the back deck for a 5-10minute cat nap. I was zonked! I think I was in bed @10:15 Saturday night.

Sunday morning (race day):

Before I left the house, I had my regular bowl of cereal and then I gave Anna a kiss, said goodbye to Sarah and Grammy, and then I was out the door.

Experience has taught me that arriving for the buses which take the runners from Falmouth to Woods Hole at 8:45 works best for me. So I knew I had time to stop and get a small coffee for the drive to Falmouth. That is what I did. Unfortunately I only took three sips of the coffee because they decided to make a milk with coffee instead of a coffee with milk. This was not a good start to my day, but I decided I could survive without the java.

The drive to Falmouth was uneventful. The traffic I hit where Route 28 turns into one lane was a little more than I would have expected, but I was still on schedule. I parked the car at the designated spot where I was to meet Sarah, Sheila, and the girls after the race. I had put my bib on my singlet the night before and had my shorts and singlet on so I just changed from my flip-flops to my Saucony treads, locked the car, and slipped the car key into the tiny pocket in my shorts. I was ready for the 5-7 minute walk to the buses, fully expecting to get on a bus shortly after arriving at the school where the runners board.

Surprise! The line for the buses was ¼ mile long – no lie!

I got in line, watched it move (albeit very slowly) and then watched the line continue to grow. It was not moving fast. It started to become apparent something was wrong. In the fifteen years having run this extremely well organized race, there had never been a problem with the buses. The organizers have historically stressed to runners the importance of arriving before the LAST bus leaves at 8:45. It was obvious they would be lucky to get all the runners boarded on buses by 9:15.

Knowing the port-a-potty situation, I ducked out of line at the school where the buses were being loaded. It was then that I heard one of the volunteers announce that the runners could thank the new sponsor New Balance for the delay. New Balance had cut the number of buses shuttling runners from Falmouth to Woods hole from 70 to 40! What!?

At least the time waiting in line and the ride to Woods Hole passed somewhat quickly with a nice conversation with a mother from Florida with three young children. She was running Falmouth for the first time. We talked of race logistics, running, and what sports is like for kids today….

I think it was close to 9:40 by the time I stepped off the bus in Woods Hole. I would not have been surprised if there were 1,000+ runners yet to arrive to the start.

To be continued....Next post: more logistical nightmares, pre-race anticipation and a Tedy Bruschi sighting!

Forgetful Fairy

Whoops tooth fairy forgot to visit.  Or as I told my little one “she must take Sundays off”.  There was only some minor disappointment as she has heard of other incidences of the tooth fairy being rather forgetful when her sister has lost a tooth.  
With E it had become easy to forget tooth fairy duties as it felt like she had been losing teeth forever and it was quite clear she knew exactly who the tooth fairy was. She knew just who to blame if the tooth remained under her pillow in the am. After hearing “someone forgot about my tooth last night” with eyebrows raised and that sarcastic lilt to “someone” it kind of tipped me off. She lost the last one a few months ago and I actually contemplated just handing her a toonie in exchange for the tooth.
It seemed the safer option as I always seem to find a toy or object by smashing my foot directly into it when attempting to be stealthy. The result of which is to end up doubled over trying desperately not to start yelling obscenities into the darkness.  It seems the quieter I try to be the louder I actually am.
I don’t really see the need to make a big production out of it.  I know of a few parents who give what I consider obscene amounts and go as far as to create elaborate setups to prove the tooth fairy has come but I’ve never made a huge deal of losing teeth after all it’s a part of life and growing up.
I’ve cheered for them when they lose a tooth, they have a special tooth pillow but I’ve never given more than a toonie and have always felt that was doing enough.  And to be quite honest the special tooth pillow has a hidden agenda. It keeps me from having to try and get a teeny tiny tooth from under their sleeping heads.  For some reason I would always find it under the very last bit of pillow I'd reach. It should come in quite valuable for A as she is a very light sleeper.   
I’ve already dug through the change jar in search of a toonie to replace her tooth with tonight. I managed to come up with a loonie and 4 quarters so she’ll be even more excited by that.  I still haven’t quite got it through to her that 5 pieces of change don’t always equal 5 dollars.  

School stuff

I was planning on getting a start on school supplies this weekend so I hope I can get most of it done this weekend.
I always forget how much actually needs to get done before the new school year never mind how much it all costs. Even though it is still a little over 3 weeks before the start of school I should really get started on everything.  I always like to make sure we are ready ahead of time.
I also need to get them slowly working towards normal bedtime and wake up times again, summer holidays result in bedtime becoming rather obsolete.  Routines get broken and it really can be a struggle to get back into those routines too quickly.
I also have the mile long lists of school supplies to get. This year it is getting pretty lengthy for E.  I’m not looking forward to buying her a $50 dollar scientific calculator when she has yet to hang onto even a basic calculator for a full year.
Usually pretty much everything with the exception of dictionaries and verb books aren’t in good enough condition to make it through another school year.  Being in French-Immersion they tend to need a few more books than their English only counterparts so being able to keep them in good condition for multiple years is important.   Still trying to decide whether purchasing her band instrument or renting would be a better option
I also have to figure out transportation for E as junior high students no longer qualify for busing from the school division.  It really isn’t too long a walk in good weather but during the winter months it may be. 
Oh well lots to think about and a busy weekend ahead.  Should be beautiful weather so here is hoping it won’t all be spent on school shopping.

Picture Day 19

Downtown Winnipeg from atop Fort Garry Place



Suppoprt Verizon Workers.

After speaking to my brother, I was compelled to do a post about the Verizon worker strike which started this past weekend. I spoke to my frustrated and upset youngest brother yesterday after he had spent a couple of days on the picket lines. C is a member of the local IBEW and his frustration, combined with the information (or lack there of) in the media, made me decide to do my (small) part in getting the public to understand what is really at stake with the strike.



It happens that a story written by Tayrn Luna on boston.com better tells the story:



Claudia Slaney did something that many people would consider unthinkable in this economy: give up her paycheck.



She did just that on Sunday when she walked off the job, joining about 6,000 Verizon Communications Inc. employees in Massachusetts after the unions and the company failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. The strike is unusual in its size - 45,000 people nationwide and one of the largest in a decade - and for its timing, during a period of historically high unemployment and concerns about another recession.



“It is a tough situation, but it would have been a lot harder if we didn’t do it,’’ said Slaney, a 41-year-old mother of four who made $1,200 a week as an administrative assistant. “If we gave in to their demands, we’d be without a job the next day.’’



The unions - the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communications Workers of America - are fighting to keep employee pensions, affordable health care benefits, and a clause that makes it more difficult for Verizon to lay off union workers. If that job security is wiped away, union members fear they will lose their jobs and the work will be outsourced overseas or shifted to company facilities in other parts of the country. A Verizon spokesman contends that would not happen.

Since Sunday, hundreds of striking workers have been picketing the downtown Boston building where they worked. They hold signs that read “IBEW Local 2222 on Strike Against Verizon’’ and chant slogans like “What do we want? Contracts!’’



Passing drivers have been honking in support, and the strikers respond with cheers. Other workers have picketed Verizon offices and stores throughout the region - even on Monday when the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 634.76 points.

If the strike lasts more than two weeks, CWA members will be able to tap a half-billion-dollar strike fund and receive $200, and then $300 each week after. The IBEW doesn’t have a strike fund.



That didn’t matter to IBEW members Kenneth and Lynn Caruso. They have been preparing for this day since the ink dried on the last contract in 2008. The couple, who met at Verizon, started tucking away $100 from each paycheck into an account they dubbed a “strike fund.’’



“Every time our contract comes up, there’s always that possibility of a strike,’’ said Lynn Caruso, 38, who is a service representative, while her husband is a central office technician. “We just want to have something to fall back on.’’

The Quincy couple said they started adding $150 to their strike fund a year ago after they bought a house; the Carusos, who have a 2-year-old daughter, pull in $1,600 a week. Their fund will cover two months of living expenses, including their mortgage, but after that they will have to tap into their 401(k) retirement accounts.



Other striking employees like Dennize Denton of Boston wish they had done more to prepare.



“The economy has been so bad you can’t save,’’ said Denton, as she picketed the downtown Boston Verizon building on Monday.



The 43-year-old single mother of three said she started applying for other jobs a few weeks ago and tried to pay off bills early. But with her son’s college tuition payment coming up, she realized even a day without pay is too long.

“If we get to two weeks, this line is not going to be as peaceful as it is now,’’ she said.



Tensions are already rising, with Verizon saying that service lines have been sabotaged in more than a dozen instances and that some nonunion employees have been assaulted by union members. Meanwhile, the unions reported that members in Amherst, N.Y., were hit by a car as a replacement worker attempted to drive through the picket line.



Verizon and the unions have been negotiating since late June. The big sticking points in the contract have been health care benefits, and preserving employee pensions and a layoff protection clause.



Gene Carroll, the director of the Union Leadership Institute at Cornell University, said Verizon’s contract proposals follow a 25-year labor relations trend of diminishing job security for the average worker. Some of the things the Verizon unions are asking for are no longer standard benefits in America, he said.

“Striking is not a common practice at all now,’’ he said. “It’s a risky strategy on the part of the union, and it’s also very courageous.’’



Don Trementozzi, president of CWA Local 1400 in New England, said the unions went on strike to force the company to negotiate on their demands.

“I don’t think this contract was going to be won by the bargaining team,’’ he said. “I think it was going to be won by the strength of our members, and I think Verizon underestimated that and the unity of the unions.’’



Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro said the company is looking for concessions because the recently expired contract was negotiated at a time when the landline division was faring better. The striking employees work for the landline division, which oversees the company’s telephone, Internet, and television service.

The number of landline customers has dropped nearly 60 percent over the past decade, to 26 million last year. At the same time, the number of cellphone customers grew to 94 million, according to Verizon figures.



Santoro said Verizon seeks to remove the layoff clause because it limits the company’s ability to reassign union employees to other cities when work shifts. Because of the contract clause, there have been “no layoffs of union employees in many, many years.’’ He added that fears that jobs would be outsourced are “baseless.’’



Passersby who watched the parade of workers surrounding the Verizon building in the Financial District shared mixed emotions about the work stoppage.

But Stefanie Archer, a 34-year-old Brandeis University MBA student, was impressed.

“It’s important that these [strikes] are organized well to show a threat, because big companies don’t get easily threatened,’’ she said.



Chuck Miller, a 32-year Verizon veteran who provisions circuits, was part of the 1989strike that lasted 17 weeks over similar issues.

The Charlestown man said his wife left the landline division after that strike and now works for Verizon Wireless. He fears the current strike could go on for months - even though both sides continued negotiations for the second day in a row yesterday.

“It’s tough,’’ said Miller. “I didn’t think we’d be here again, but we can’t go back.’’



© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

Racoons

Raccoons are back. Woke up this morning stepped out the back door to walk the dog and found the garbage cans tipped, bags dragged out, garbage everywhere and paw prints on everything. Joy.
Morning is not the best time to face a mess like that what with my sleep addled brain.  I tend to have a rather sensitive stomach in the early morning so cleaning up old garbage and the leftover little bits of food is rather nauseating and gag inducing. 
I don’t blame the raccoons for trying after all they are just animals doing what animals do.  That doesn’t mean I’ll just let them do it however. It makes a rather large mess and I’ve also had the unpleasant experience of being hissed at by one last year having startled it leaving the house.
Just because they look cute doesn’t mean they wouldn’t injure one of the kids or the dog. Never mind the thought of rabies.  It also seems to attract other animals once the raccoons start the skunks and deer tend to decide our yard is open for picking.  
So I guess it is back to adding bungee cords to the lids. It has worked every time in the past and I only need to do it for a week or so.  Just long enough for them to give up. The first few nights I’ll always find the cans tipped in the mornings but unopened and no mess, they give up after a couple of days and move on problem solved.
Compared to what else has been in our garbage in the past raccoons aren’t so bad. Last year we had an issue with a bobcat. I was rather surprised when I realized it. I couldn’t figure out how the raccoons were still getting into the garbage as the lids were bungee corded on and I had even tied them down to the cement pads they sit on.   
Then one evening walking the dog before bed I saw what looked like a funny shaped and rather large cat.  After doing a double take I realized it was a bobcat and went back inside very quickly. In the morning I looked closer at the garbage cans and found paw prints which were obviously not raccoon prints, they measured 2.5 inches width wise. I called Manitoba Conservation and they confirmed it was certainly a bobcat and even had pictures of it sitting on our street.
Thanks for the warning.  A bobcat may not be likely to attack a person but can the same be said for a dog who thinks every living creature should be just as excited to see him as he is to see them? Also the pad for our garbage cans is literally 2 feet from our back door; something tells me that accidentally surprising a bobcat by walking out a door 2 feet away from it may not turn out well.
The raccoons actually don’t sound so bad all of a sudden.