Sometimes you just need a few days off. Summer hit, and with our schedules being what they were, we just never got around to booking any out-of-town trips for our week off. And then we realized: we live in an awesome city, have an awesome yard, and really just needed some time to relax. This is what we did.
Sunday July 21
I woke to the haunting knowledge that not only was this my last day off work for a while, but that I was facing a big long run in less than an hour. At least it was cool and slightly drizzly –great for running and even better for getting over the end-of-vacation blues.
The marathon training goes on, vacation, staycation or otherwise. Were I off in some exotic location I’m sure I could easily convince myself to put the training on hold, but… well… I’m not. And the crew was relying on me to lead the charge yet again.
We scaled back a bit this week. One week ago I was lamenting the pain and triumph of a thirty-two kilometer long run. This morning, we were pondering the the change in perception we were all experiencing thinking of our impending twenty-three kilometer dash as a “short” Sunday run.
That’s right. Twenty three seemed short this morning. My brain has officially betrayed me.
The day was perfect, though. There was a bit of a drizzle to start, a rain that disappeared before we could get too wet but that kept everything nice and cool for the first hour and some.
We dived into the river valley at about six klicks in and stumbled into an in-progress half-marathon (one I knew was happening but hadn’t bothered to check the route).
We dashed over to Hawrelack Park, climbed some stairs back out of the valley, scooted past the University, and swooped once more along Fort Edmonton park before weaving our way back home.
By the time we’d finished we’d run a little faster than planned, but everyone felt strong and solid, and a little more confident about the marathon in five weeks.
And I –despite not having written a check-in-post in a few months– dragged my virtual race distance past the nine-hundred and twenty-five klick mark on the year.
Lunch Out & About
I got home around noon and the girls were having a much lazier morning than me.
We decided to go out and get some lunch. No one felt like cooking, so… yeah. Boston Pizza it was.
And then we felt a little bit more guilty and a little bit more responsible and so we hit the grocery store on the way home for some healthier options and some BBQ ingredients for supper later.
By the time we got home it was full-on summer. (Guilt-mode: Active)
We decided it might be one last hurrah — huzzah, et ceter-aaahhh — to pull out the bikes and make the most of it.
I had checked and inflated the tires and was prepping my camera for the ride and the neighbours came out on their bikes too. By the time we all set off it was one big rendezvous at the playground and another (more impromptu) block party.
But we set off on our own again, and did a wider tour of the hood, adding to Claire’s collection of summer stay-cation cuts, bruises, memories, and more before going back home and putting our feet up for one last quiet evening.
Uh… well, maybe not: dinner, laundry, bath time, a hoard of wired kids, and a couple blog posts to write. Nine days went by pretty fast: and how cliche is that?
She’d been bugging me for over a week. See, after upgrading her bike and getting her some practice time –and confidence– in actually mounting, riding, turning, stopping, and generally avoiding crashing into things (like people), the girl was apparently ready for a serious ride.
After all, how many times can you go round and round and round and round the same old park without going crazy, huh?
But there had been rain. And someone was always sick or injured (me and my ankle!) or busy at soccer or music or some other social engagement.
On Sunday I was out for a sixteen kilometer run with my group in the morning and despite the forecast of rain and dreary weather, the trails were clear, the sky was blue, and I was feeling full of pep and energy.
So, shortly after getting home and having lunch I told her: we’re going out for a ride.
I strapped on the GoPro, affixing it to the top of my helmet so that I looked even more goofy than I normally do on a bike, and we set off.
Just to the east of us one of the little starter-home communities put a lot of effort into parks and trails. Our neighbourhood by no means sucks, but we just don’t have the sheer area of pretty little connected trails with parks and lakes and trees as does our next door neighbourhood. Nothing that crossing a single road couldn’t fix, though.
We set off. Claire was overly cautious, which as her dad I probably shouldn’t complain about but –well– there is such as thing as TOO careful, y’know, like braking fifty feet away from an intersection and walking her bike. I mean, five feet… even ten, okay.
And we biked. I’d run this route numerous times before, and in fact (as I alluded above) I had run it that very morning. So I know we’d hit the three klick mark, roughly, when the groaning complaints of “dad, I’m kinda tired” started.
We about-faced, and pedalled home under the bright sun. Not one crash. Not one scrape. Six wonderful klicks in total and a little more confidence in a little girl.
A reloaded post is a short-and-sweet collection of the (sometimes-interlinked) randomness from my recent life, universe and everything else in between. They would be more detailed but they tend to be events lacking in either (a) details or (b) depth; Or lacking in the time to more fully record them. Enjoy.
Summer arrived in a flash. Remember how I was complaining that winter was hanging on just a wee-tiny-little-bit too long? Yeah. Well, it disappeared overnight one day about a week and a half ago and summer arrived in a burst of oh-my-gosh I-need-to-change-my-snow-tires-before-they-melt-in-this-heat kind-of panic.
The New Purple Bike
Luckily Claire was prepared. A couple weeks ago we found our way over to United Cycle and she became the proud owner of a brand new bike.
We’ve never been particularly cheap about bikes, but the last bike we bought her was a Sears special and it was never really intended to last her more than a couple seasons. She learned to ride on that little princess-adorned hunk-o-junk though, and we put it through the ringer in terms of modifications, crashes, and generally poor maintenance. And it became very apparent that, well, the cool winter weather must have shrunk it or something because Claire just didn’t fit on it anymore.
The new bike is something more of an investment. She’s just-barely-big-enough to fit it with lots of room to grow. And it’s something of a punch-in-the-dad-face of growing-kid-ness to see such a big-kid bike sitting in our house and knowing that it belongs to my — *sniff* — little baby girl.
Fences, Gates, and Green Paint
The kids have been bugging me for over a year now. And when I write kids — plural — I mean my single child plus her co-conspirators next door. We lucked out on our street in the last couple years. The two families who moved in (a) right next door and (b) two doors down are all lovely people with kids just right around Claire’s own age. They play together, hang out together, and…
Well, the problem with how we built the fence a couple years ago was two-fold: (1) our gate was designed to keep everything out and has not aged well, becoming almost impossible for me to open unless the stars are aligned and the humidity is just right, and (2) the original neighbors did not build a gate, so to get to their backyard one needs to walk all the way around the front of the house.
None of them let me forget that I offered.
The kids hatched a plan: build a set of stairs and a slide over the fence so they could go visit. I hatched a slightly more modest and realistic plan: cut a hold in the fence so they could climb through… and of course, none of them let me forget that I offered.
So, one Saturday morning about a week ago I got out the tools, got out the paint, and (first) disassembled and then rebuilt the gate so that it works properly and (second) used the extra lumber from the gate to cut, trim, and build a kind of portal in the fence between the two yards. And since the two houses next door never actually built a fence between them, voila! Three yards — and three sets of kids — are suddenly interconnected for the summer.
Of course as soon as spring-slash-summer hit soccer started. So I’ve been playing the dutiful soccer dad, attending every practice and capturing priceless moments of my not-exactly-competitive daughter — um — participating in a team sport. I think she got her athletic ability and interest from her dad, if you know what I’m saying.
Double Running Man
Well, at least her dad-as-a-kid. My athletic interest has me running epic runs these days. I’ve run a couple of races, one for each of the last weekends:
First… a pretty little bedroom community just a gnat’s breath to the North of Edmonton, the City of St. Albert played host to the RunWild race series on May 5. I had found myself registered in the half-marathon, and had been actively maintaining my training for that race over the last few months.
Then summer happened. No, really. All in one day. It’s as if on Friday morning we were thinking about how great is was going to be when the snow finally disappeared and spring arrived. On Saturday we were in shorts, doing yard work. And on Sunday — race day — we were full-on in Summer, having skipped Spring altogether.
The consequence was multi-fold. The race course, which was meant to be a relatively flat run through the river-creek trail system that bisects the City, was flooded. Really flooded. So much flooded in fact that I was surprised to have seen a map of a creek on Google Maps when I loaded it up to find out the name of the lake we had run beside that morning. It was not a lake, obviously. And because of the flooding they had diverted the route up and into the neighbourhoods adding a multitude of more hills than I was expecting.
It was also hot… the hottest weather we’d run in for six months, in fact. It was even warmer than my December run through the streets of Las Vegas.
I ended up with a modest time of 2:08, a very nice finisher medal, and a goodly case of heat-stroke to boot.
Less than a week later I found myself at the start line of yet another race. After running a half marathon the weekend before, it might seem like a step down to have been prepping to run an 8 km run. But if you are thinking that then it may be because you’ve never tried trail running.
I’ve tried to explain this to many runners at some point, the differences between running mostly on level asphalt versus bushwacking through a trail run. So, this time I took a video, strapping a sports cam to my head and filming my race. It follows:
You may notice that while some of the race is in the open and clear, much of it is through winding, hilly scambles, along dirt paths that occasionally leave you shakey and uncertain, wondering if you are more than a few seconds away from a tumble over a cliff into the river or a mis-step away from some kind of doom.
Which apparently I was… at about 3 and a half kilometers in — you can hear me wince in the video — I caught my foot on some uneven ground, or a root, or something, and rolled my ankle. Adrenaline and lack of proximity to a course marshall meant by the time I hobbled myself to a point where I could throw in the towel, I was feeling well enough to finish. So I ran the last four and a half clicks on a sprained ankle… and of course, regretted it the next day.
Fifty-two minutes was my final time, but I might be out of training for a week or two. *sigh*
An extra challenge this year.
Let the Yard Work Begin
Of course, with a hobbled ankle, yard work and getting the garden planted is going to be an extra challenge this year. It will get done. It’s already started, but turning all that soil is looking a little (ok… a LOT) more daunting than normal.
And the Winner is…
And on one final note… drum roll! Karin won an award at work: a Presidents League prize for general dedication and hard work. A gift basket, some general honours and a bit of a bonus. Pretty cool. She works hard and deserves it… but then I’m probably biased.
A Ã‚“reloadedÃ‚” post is a quick-clipped summary of a bunch of small things from the past few days. I want to write them down, but I am either lacking in (a) details or (b) time. ThatÃ‚’s just how it goes sometimes. Enjoy.
Catching Up With Super Heroes
I haven’t been to a lot of movies lately, and those I have attended have been largely G-rated kid-friendly shows — it goes along with the whole fatherhood gig. But Derek was in town last week and — to boot — stuck on a business trip on his birthday… so we went to a show. We went to Marvels: The Avengers, which turned out to be the epic culmination of a whole series of previous superhero movies, the plots co-joined into one big superhero extravaganza. The only problem was that I hadn’t seen any of the previous superhero movies — Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, etc — that the Avengers storyline was building off of. I enjoyed it. It was an action-packed, turn-your-brain-off kind of movie, perfect for a guys night out — so how could I not? But, it left me a little lost, and so I ended up watching Thor on Netflix later on through the weekend — then catching up on some more of the delicate plot points via the six-year-old who lives next door when he dopped by to play with my daughter.
On Learning to Ride a Bike
Last summer we bought Claire a two-wheel bike, but we left the training wheels on and let her pedal gleefully around the local park path without learning much more in the way of cycling skills than any three-year-old might be expected to know about such matters. This summer we not only pulled the training wheels off, but took the advice of friends who’d had success with pedal-less bikes… and removed her pedals. For the past couple weeks we’ve gone through a progression starting from a point of absolute and tear-filled defeatism wherein she would stradle her bike and (had she known any real curse words I’m sure they would have been profusely explicative in our direction) screaming, through to the most recent outing where she would push-and-glide, coast down hills, and otherwise balance nearly perfectly around the park with her two parents and our dog running behind. I’m thinking that a re-attachement of the pedals is pending imminently.
Update: I wrote this post a few minutes before we went out for our evening bike ride. Long story short… pedals back on and I now have a kid who can ride a bicycle. (I uploaded some video to Google+ so circle me if you want to see it!)
Couching the Excessive Expectations of Kids
I get into the bad habit of thinking aloud sometimes. Around adults this is normally okay. But around kids, this can be dangerous. The thing is than idle speculation about say — “wouldn’t it be neat to build the dog a dog house” — or — “wouldn’t it be great to put a hole in our fence so all you kids could just climb back and forth between each other’s yards” — occasionally random, not-well-considered musings, then kids, at least the kids I know, tend to get hung up on the what-ifs and not at all worry about the impracticalities or costs. So, alas, it shouldn’t surprise me that Claire had an entire day planned out in her head this past weekend that revolved around designing, painting, and building a doghouse for Sparkle (which is not going to happen) or that the aforementioned neighbor kid now asks, shouting from atop his play-set, every time I come out into my backyard when I’m cutting a hole in his dad’s fence so he can come through and play. Expectations: apparently I need to manage those a bit better with so many impressionable minds around.
Relaxing with a Beer in Hand
And — on a modest note — one of the best(albeit too short) spans of the past weekend’s backyard time was just this… and hopefully requiring no more in way of explanation.