Monday, November 30, 2009

That's Mobile

When Dee Dee and I opened the restaurant(s), we fully realized that our time would be in demand. The sacrifices we made were not the only sacrifices made. Our children sacrificed, and our extended family sacrificed as well. It was just hard to away from holidays and vacations. With that in mind, we packed up the car and drove down to Mobile for Thanksgiving.

The trip down is broken into two perfect parts. Travelling down I-85, one must pass through Montgomery and on to I-65 south to the Gulf Coast. Montgomery is a little more than half way. Once we pass through Montgomery, the next thing we start looking for is the twin bridges over the delta at the top of Mobile Bay. It lies about forty miles north of Mobile and indicates our trip is almost over.

On the outskirts of town, you begin to notice the billboards.

Jesus is Lord!!

I don't think the advertisers along the interstate ever have to worry about having an empty sign. Religion is THE cottage industry in Mobile. Pretty much every street corner has The Church Of Something or Another. This, of course, doesn't bother me a bit. I have yet to meet a (truly) religious person whose heart was not in the right place. It just kind of sets the mood.

We arrived kind of late at Nana's and didn't spend too much time talking before bedding down for the night. Big day ahead. I woke up kind of early, and once my stomach started rumbling, it didn't take long to realize that there wasn't any breakfast food in the house. After showering and getting dressed, I took off up the road to Walmart. Praise and thanks for the heathens at Walmart. If it weren't for them, thousands of absent minded people would be in trouble on Thanksgiving.

Upon setting foot inside the store, the first thing I noticed was that I was not suitably dressed. I left all my camouflage at home. Even the babies were dressed in camo. I ducked in and out of the aisles, quickly gathering what I needed, avoiding the looks of Walmart patrons in brightly colored Alabama and Auburn sweatshirts. Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes with camo pants like college sweatshirts and a backwards cap.

Back to the house to cook breakfast for the family. After putting the turkey in the oven and cleaning up, I barely had enough time to shoot over to my father's place to spend an hour with them. Then it was back to Nana's for the Thanksgiving feast. If my mother had been in town, I would have really been in trouble!

Dee Dee can cook a turkey. It was 20 lbs. of golden goodness, and I did a fairly good job of dicing it up. By the end of the day, my tryptophan level was through the roof. That and a few beers had me passed out by 9 PM. That's a good day in anybody's book. Besides, I needed to rest up for the Ironbowl.

What? You don't know what the Ironbowl is? It's the biggest rivalry in (southern) college football. Every year, tens of thousands of rabid Alabama and Auburn football fans gather in Tuscaloosa or Auburn for the big game. They are joined by millions on national TV. The game rarely disappoints. The last ten games or so have been decided by 10 points or less. Rankings and record do not matter for this game. It is truly a season all unto itself.

We headed back over to Paw Paw's to watch the game. He's an Alabama alum, ya know. We were not disappointed in the game. Auburn set Alabama back on their heels in the first quarter, only to have Alabama bring the game back to even Steven by the end of the first half. Auburn took the lead again in the third quarter and fought valiantly to hold off the Tide, but alas, they succumbed in the end.

Watching football is hard work. More beer. More turkey. More early to bed. I was determined to get a long run in for the weekend, to see where I was "at" for the marathon in January. Saturday morning, I climbed out of bed by 8:30 AM. I had some toast and a few cups of coffee while I watched the Foodnetwork and QVC with Nana. By 9:30 AM, I was out the door. I wasn't sure how far I was running, or at what pace. I just wanted to... run.

I set my Forerunner 50 to a run 2 walk 1 cycle. This wasn't about pace. The first ten to fifteen minutes were hard. The beer and turkey had taken a heavy toll on my body. I ran out of Nana's subdivision and made a right on Hwy 90, sticking to the service road. I ran down to the bank and made a left into the neighborhood towards my elementary school, dodging broken bottles of Bud Light along the way. I had an idea. I wanted to relive some old memories.

As I ran past St. Dominic's, I was struck by a few things. The distances I experienced as a child really aren't all that far now that I am grown up. What seemed like a long way and a "big" hill are very minor now. The school itself was locked up tighter than a tick. A sign of the times for sure, compared to the openness when I attended. I was delighted to see soccer goals sticking up over the fence in the back. Soccer is becoming more and more popular.

The rectory used by the priest when I went to school there had long been replaced, and the driveway was closed off. I passed the school and made a right on the road and began to follow the path I used to ride my bike to and from school. Again, what once seemed like such a long way as a child was really on a few short miles. I ran by the Presbyterian school by my old house and was again, disappointed, to see broken beer bottles thrown onto the school grounds.

I wound my way into my old neighborhood, and the names of people long gone came floating back into my memories. The Sheltons lived at the house on the corner. The Wiedemiers lived at the bend, and they owned ice cream shops in Mobile. This is where the Petros lived, and they had two beautiful daughters (hubba hubba :-) I ran past the house that I used to live in, made the turn around and started back out the neighborhood. So much had happened here. Some good memories. Some bad memories. All cherished.

Not really knowing the existence or lack there of the sidewalk situation, I headed down Cottage Hill Road towards the mall. The first house I ever lived in was down that way. Approaching I-65, the aches and soreness in my legs indicated that I had just about reached the halfway point of my run. A marathon was not in my future. I felt strong enough to make it the last half mile or so to the house, and then, I would turn around and head for home.

The houses in the old neighborhood were small, 800-1000 square feet max. Many of the homes, by now, have had their garages closed in to provide more living space. I ran past my first home and marveled at how tiny it was. The old telephone pole at the end of the street was gone now. I think it had lasted for thirty some odd years. The woods and fields behind the street had long been converted to mall and office property.

The legs and hips were definitely complaining as I made my way back. I had been sticking to the R2/W1 cycle, bringing in about 11:45-ish miles. All in all, I did 10.3 miles in 1:58:00 and some change I am sure, but it doesn't really matter.

The marathon is definitely off the plan, and that's fine. I read somewhere that sometimes, it's no longer about the finish line. It's about lifestyle. I like that. This is my lifestyle, and I know that there will be plenty of finish lines in my future.

Sunday, we got up early and left for the house. On the way out, I got to thinking. For what ever reasons, Woodstock is the place where I live, but that little going no where fast port city on the Gulf Coast will always be my home away from home. I guess that's just where my heart is. Along with the beer bottles, the churches, the camo, the football, the towering oaks, and of course, the azalea bushes, that too is part of what makes Mobile so special.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Plan is This

With a Nod Down Under

Having taken the plunge, I find myself with a large amount of enthusiasm. I have been thinking, and plotting, and planning, not only for myself, but the new half Iron trainee.

I'm thinking that four races next year will be just about right. I want to do a half Ironman in May, help me build my base. The Rev3 triathlon in Knoxville is very enticing on two accounts. It meets MY need to do a half-iron, AND it meets Dee Dee's need to do an international distance tune up race for Eagleman. I'm going to use the Beast of the East half Iron distance race in Hiawassee as my back up, just in case I don't get registered in time. Rev3 is on par with WTC as far as cost goes, and Hiawassee is much much cheaper.

In June, I'll be back out at Callaway Gardens doing my favorite sprint. This one always sells out. I need to get registered for it by the end of the year, if that's the plan.

Come September, I'm thinking I'll go back to the South Carolina half. Augusta is very tempting, but again, cost is a factor, and I'm saving all my nickels and dimes for Arizona. The Ironman, after all, is the most important race of the season.

I'm sure I'll toss in a few road races (Hotlips Hustle), and that should pretty much do me for the year. I've already started jotting down my ideas for mine and Dee Dee's annual training plan. She mentioned wanting to do Iron Girl two weeks after Eagleman. I'm all for it, but I'm a little concerned that she will not be properly recovered.

The way I see it, I need to get started training on Monday. I want to build a nice base through the winter, and I just might still do that marathon in January. Haven't really decided yes or no. If I am to do it, then I need to do a long run of 16-18 miles this weekend.

Dee Dee and I and the kids are headed to Mobile this evening, for the first time in years! Everybody have a great Thanksgiving!!


Monday, November 23, 2009


Sometimes, I don't know if I'm up, down, left, right, right side up, or wrong side in between. I'm OK with that. What I do know is that I have an unrelenting drive and focus on providing for my family, helping them achieve their goals, and realizing their potential.

Oh, and I'm going to Ironman :-)

I was a little nervous about signing up, not sure if it was the right thing to do or not. Now, it just feels right...

Monday, November 16, 2009

I don't ask questions

I said to Sam when he called to check on my availability for Sunday games. I had volunteered to referee the Cherokee Impact Academy Cup. For those of you who aren't familiar with soccer in the State of Georgia, the Academy is made up of children younger than 13 who want to play traveling soccer. The focus is more on skills and touches on the ball, then who wins or loses.

Sam thought it rather funny that I was reffing U-9 on Saturday and U-10 on Sunday. I explained to Sam that I was volunteering at one of the clubs in my county. I was supporting my community, and it didn't really matter what I was asked to do. I would do it. I would even help him out at the end of the day and do a couple of adult games.

Saturday, the games went fine. They were about the quality I expected. Nine year old kids are very enthusiastic, but not very skillful, and most of the Academy teams at this tournament were C or D level at best. Again, none of this mattered. My sole and entire purpose for being there was to make sure these kids had fun, and that was what I did.

Sunday rolls around, and I'm moving up to U-10 girls. I actually had the pleasure of reffing one really good Academy game. Let's call it a gem. The pint sized female soccer players were fast, they were furious. They had skillz. Those are the kinds of games that are just so much fun. Towards the end of my shift, the assignor came over and wanted offer me a deal. I could trade the two lines I had for one center. Uh oh.... I didn't realize I had lines to do. I failed to read the entire schedule that I had confirmed.

I felt so bad. I had to get back to my game, leaving the assignor under the impression that I had to leave at 1 PM. During the half time of my game, I went back to the referee tent and told her that I could do one of three things. I could leave at 1 PM and leave her short handed. I could totally write off the adult games and do the games she had scheduled me for, or I could do the 3:30 PM center (final!) that she wanted me to do. The assignor was adamantly opposed to my missing the adult games. I explained to her that I had committed to her first. It was my job to make her life easier, NOT HARDER!

In the end, we compromised. I took the 3:30 PM center and prayed that the game didn't go into overtime, allowing me to make it to my 5:00 PM adult game on time. I tried every thing I could to make sure the game didn't end in a tie. I didn't cheat or anything. Nor did I favor one team over the other.

In the middle of the second half, the goalie for the Cherokee Impact saved the ball, and a little guy on the opposing team ran up and kicked him in the side. This was clearly an infringement on the Laws of the Game. I chose not to blow the foul. The keeper had the ball, and having them do a goal kick from the six yard block would have penalized his team, I felt. Punting the ball from the top of the box was an advantage.

Evidently, the boy's father did not understand this. The pot bellied bearded good ole boy was hollering at me from the side lines and pointing his finger at me. I yelled at him to go back to his seat, and to tell the truth, that's the last I heard from him. I have very selective hearing. In the mean time, the keeper was standing there with crocodile tears in his eyes. I took the ball from him and asked him if he was OK. His coach came on the field to comfort him, and I explained that I was not going to take the ball out of his hands. The boy's mother showed up behind the goal and explained to me that the boy had a "history", and had been scared on his face by cleats in a prior game.

Oh Dear GAWD... I thought. Everything I do is for the players, but I have to put everything in the context of this game at this time. I can't help it that the child is mentally (and physically) scarred, and there is no way I could possibly know this. Eventually, the goalie recovered, and we got the game restarted. I called a penalty for the Cherokee team less than a minute later. It was well deserved. Unfortunately, they missed the kick, and the game ended in a tie. The over time also ended in a tie, neither team was able to score. I was resigned to the fact that I would be late for my adult game. After kicks from the mark, the visiting team was declared the winner, and I hauled booty from the field. On the way out, I got my yearly hug from the Cherokee assignor, and all was well in the land of Football.

I showed up for my adult game 15 minutes late, but the game had only been in progress five minutes. I got the muddy side of the field. For the second game, I ran the center, and I was so tired. It really was a disservice to the players for me to be there. I vowed to never do this again. I came home Sunday night tired, wasted, worthless. Waking up Monday morning was not much better. It took everything I had to be productive at work. I managed.

This year, I came to soccer with a new attitude. It paid off, for a while. Up until this week, my adult and youth games have gone very well, and I have received tons of compliments. This past week, everything has turned sour, and this has me thinking. I know its not entirely my fault. There's a certain prejudice against soccer officials that we all have to deal with.

However, I have come to the realization that my game is stagnant. It has reached a certain level, and hung there, much like triathlon. It also made me realize that if I want to get better at officiating on the pitch and triathlon that good enough is no longer an option. I need to pay more attention to detail and do the little things that make me a better person, a better triathlete, and a better official. The path isn't cloudy at all. No. Not at all. It's crystal clear. I just have to decide to walk the walk.

After work on Monday, I came home and helped Dee Dee finish dinner. I was so exhausted. Dee Dee wanted me to go to soccer practice with her. I offered to take Matthew myself. I would nap in the car while Matthew practiced. It wouldn't be the first time. Being the uber loving and supportive spouse that Dee Dee is, she declined. She took Matthew to practice. I, on the other hand, crashed on the couch at 8 PM, woke up long enough to climb in the bed, and slept for 10.5 hours.

I just don't understand why Dee Dee loves me. The ways of women are a mystery.

I don't ask questions...


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ebbing and Flowing

Marathon training just hasn't been happening. One of the things that always suffers during tri season is my time on the pitch.

I love to referee games, until the adults REALLY piss me off, and then I only half love it. Until a couple of days. Then I love it. Again.

Every Sunday has been pretty filled with games. Getting in a long run has been almost impossible. Well, throw in lack of motivation, and it IS impossible. But I'm OK with that. I estimate I run 12-16 miles on a given Sunday. My last tournament is before Thanksgiving. After that, I may just try a slow 16 to 18 miler and see how I feel. If it ain't happenin, it ain't happenin, and I'm OK with that.

If I'm to do a May half Ironman, then tri training is going to kick back off again all too soon, and I'll be back out there, swimming, biking, and running, cause that's what I do.

P.S. I ripped my toe nail off. I lost my first toenail from reffing. I find that amusing ;-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Hard Ones are Ultimately the Easiest

First off, happy Veteran's Day! I would like to personally thank all of the men and women, past and present, that have served in the armed forces and protect the freedom I enjoy every day. I {heart} you! and I never forget!!

My blogging and Facebooking is taking a hit on this new contract. I'm scared to death to log onto Facebook from the office network. I've got a feeling that they have internet software that watches my every move, and I'm sure social networking sites are a no-no hear. Mustn't get fired all ready! LOL... I'm so far behind on my blog reading and posting.

Despite being extremely busy, things are moving along at Chez Chaotic. Dee Dee's prospects for permanent employment are moving along nicely, and I am on a short term contract. Darling Dee Dee managed to convince the extremely nice people at Eagleman that she needed a charity slot for the race. It would be her first half ironman and all. Being the generous folks that they are, they coughed up two slots. One for her, and one for me. How cool is that?

After discussing it with Dee Dee, I've decided not to accept my slot to Eagleman. This was a very tough thing for me to do. Eagleman is a great course, and I really have a hard time justifying going all that way and not racing. The other side of the coin... I know that I will enjoy the trip, watching the race, and sherpa-ing Dee Dee through her first half Ironman. Ultimately, Dee Dee came first, as is appropriate.

The fallout from all of this is that Ironman Arizona is back on. I'm going to try and register, and if its a go, I'm going for it next year. I want to do an Ironman every two years right now, until my kids graduate from high school. I'm excited! We'll see how it turns out!!

Thanks for tuning into this episode of "How Wes' World Turns" :-)