Monday, June 30, 2008
Saturday morning was my club practice. We took out two 8+s - the old line up and the young line up. We rowed up about a mile past Ryan's Dam (4 1/4 miles) and did several race pieces on the way back. I was in the old line up boat and we got out hats handed to us time and time again. We were missing three of our strongest rowers so it really came as no real surprise. More of a surprise was how fast they could walk right through us. Saturday evening we were invited to witness some old friends renewing their wedding vows on their 40th wedding anniversary. It was a bittersweet ceremony. On one hand it was a moving ceremony for a couple that has been together so long, obviously care for each other very much and have raised three fine children. On the other hand he is very ill fighting lung cancer and recovering from a heart attack as well. He didn't look well at all, which could be expected. We wished them well and socialized with neighbors, something we do too little of and generally had a good time.
Sunday I went for a bike ride minus Ann. She decided to skip out again and stay home claiming it was "too hot". Please the temperature at Dulles airport, which is right next to where we ride was only 72. Of course the humidity was a stifling 94%. Since Ann wasn't with me, I headed east from Rt 28 toward Vienna rather than west toward Leesburg just as a change of scenery. Vienna is 12.5 miles from Rt 28 so it turned into a 25 mile ride. I managed to knock 3 minutes off that ride from last time doing it in 57 minutes each way. Last time was 1 hour exactly. Bike speedometers are fun to have. Despite the humidity, it was really quite nice out. The trail wasn't crowded but enough people were out riding, rollerblading, jogging or walking to make for some interesting people watching. After my ride, I came home and got up on the roof again to clean out the gutters. A job I hate but it needed to be done. It was amazing how much I sweated doing that job. My shirt was dry after my bike ride, but was soaked after cleaning the gutters, Yuck. Hopefully they are now good until late October when the leaves start falling. After the gutter cleaning, Ann and I settled into to watch the finals of Euro 2008. It was a good game and I was surprised to see Spain come out on top. Germany has a knack of pulling games out in the end and I kept waiting for their tying goal to come and it never did. I'm pumped now for the next World Cup. We also watched the Nationals pull out their rubber match game with the Orioles in 12 innings. It was nice to see them smack the Birds around.
Hope you all had a great weekend.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
For practice on Tuesday we didn't have enough guys for two 8+s so we went out in an 8+ and a 4+. I was two seat in the 8+. We did four 6 minute race pieces with the 4+ acting as the rabbit for the 8+ to chase down. Each piece had a different stroke rate. The first piece we were capped at a 28 SPM (the 4+ had no cap and could row at whatever stroke rate they chose). We were closing before our 4 seat caught a crab. So much for race piece one. The second race was at a 24 and again we caught up to the 4+ in about the last 150 meters, but we lost set, which slowed us down and we didn't catch them. The third piece was a 20 SPM. We got close but no cigar. Same for the last piece. On the way back to the Boathouse, our coach set his launch at max speed and told us to see how long we could hold him off before he waked us. We did this twice and once it was for 1:45 and the second time it was for just over 2 minutes. It was good workout, but a stark reminder how much work we still have to do. A 4+ should never be able to stay ahead of a 8+. Sort of embarrassing.
Yesterday was a work at home day, but I literally spent all day on the phone. I'm handling a good sized competition at work and myself and the rest of the work team spent hours talking to various competitors regarding their proposals. Thank god for speaker phones. My arm would have fallen off if I had to hold my phone to my ear the whole time. Needless to say, that left little time to do anything else other than scarf down a few Coronas afterward while making dinner to unwind from that marathon. Ugh.
I have a three day weekend coming up, which I hope to do a lot of nothing. Isn't that why God invented weekends? Even He/She rested on the 7th day.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
After practice we did some on line shopping for Daughter#1 whose birthday is this week. Then Ann and I settled down to watch some Euro 2008 with the Netherlands playing Russia. It was a really exciting game, especially the final few moments of regular time and the overtime. I was routing for The Orange, but the Russians had too much speed up front in the end and won 3-1 in overtime. I have to say judging by the crowd shots that the Dutch women are really cute.
After the game, it was time to think about dinner. There is nothing I love to do more during the spring, summer and fall (and sometimes winter), then grilling out on the bbq. Saturday we decided to have some ribs. These were country ribs and boneless.
I had a helper to make sure things were cooked correctly and was more than happy to sample the wares.
The finished product and Mmmmmmm they were tasty.
Sunday was bike ride day. Ann wasn't feeling up for it so I went by myself. It was really muggy as I left home, but by the time I got to the Trail, it was a really nice day. Moderate temperature and humidity. Since I had gotten a later start than ideal, I decided to stick to the basic ride out to Leesburg and back. 41:00 minutes out and 40:35 minutes on the way back. It was fun to just be able to go at my own speed and not have to wait or slow down for Ann. On the other hand I did miss her company. Hopefully she'll be along next weekend.
After Saturady's great soccer game, Ann and I were were really looking forward to Sunday's game that pitted Spain against Italy. Two of the tournament favorites. What a disappointment. As exciting as Saturday's game was, this was pretty boring. Games like this give soccer a bad name. Italy seemed content most of the game to let Spain bring the game to them and play defense. I guess they wanted to force overtime and take their chances in a shoot out. They got their wish, but came out short in the end. Next game is Weds with Germany playing a depleted Turkish squad in the semi-finals.
The Son dropped by for Sunday dinner. We grilled some steaks. In return he fixed one of our computers that was having problems connecting to the Internet via our wireless network. A fair trade. Then we got hit by severe thunderstorms. Again. That routine is getting old.
All said a comfortable weekend and a pleasant one.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Today was very similar to yesterday so I didn't want to miss today too, so I went and rowed over my lunch hour. So to speak anyway. Since I work from home on Wednesday, I can take my lunch whenever. When I arrived at the boathouse, there was a sculling class underway. Underway but taking a break and having lunch. It looked to be high school age rowers almost all girls. The George Mason Men's Crew Coach runs the sculling camps on that side of the reservoir. I grabbed one of the boats they were not using and headed up river. I was undecided how far to row. On one hand I wanted a decent workout, but on the other I had a limited time and had to return to my home to work. I settled on a 6 mile row. The water was way choppier than I like due to the wind and I was rowing right into it. Finally after rowing about a mile and a half, I turned a corner and the trees blocked the wind and the water was much better. It took me just over an hour to row the six miles so I was happy with that. Although now work seems so much more boring.
Its Brats on the grill tonight with a cold Corona. Till next time.
Monday, June 16, 2008
On the way back we stopped at a Luck Stone Quarry overlook that is not quite halfway between Leesburg and Rt 28. I thought it would be a good place for Ann to take a break and to fiddle with her helmet.
I liked the inscription on the plaque, so I took a picture of it. Below Ann takes a break at the overlook.
After we finished our ride we returned home. After cleaning up we took a ride down to The Son's condo. His garbage disposal wasn't working. Luckily all the needed to be done was hitting the reset button and it worked again. Good thing since that's the extent of my garbage disposal knowledge. We watched some Euro 2008 soccer at The Son's place before returning home. He came by later for dinner consisting of steaks and corn on the cob. After dinner, Ann and The Son gave me cards and presents. Daughter#1 also had sent along a card. Daughter#2 didn't send a card, but did call and wish me a happy Father's Day. The Son gave me a very generous gift card from Amazon and Ann gave me a book that I have wanted since seeing it reviewed in Newsweek.
You really can't tell from the picture, but The book is entitled 1948 - The First Arab-Israeli War by Benny Morris. I've always been a big reader of 20th century war book be it WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc. The Arab-Israeli wars have always interested me although I'm not exactly sure why. It could be my love of the Leon Uris book "Exodus", which I've read about 10 times over the years. Maybe it's to get a real perspective to go along with Uris's fiction, which is based on true events, but fiction none the less. The other story that holds a particular fascination for me is the WWII battle called Operation Market Garden. It was the largest airborne assault in history as allied forces tried to seize a series of bridges across Holland from Eindhoven to the real prize, the bridge at Arnhem. The bridge would take allied forces across the Rhine and into the German heartland and end the war. Cornelius Ryan wrote a book about it and they made a movie about it with the same name: A Bridge Too Far. It was an allied disaster in the end, but a bold plan none the less. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Patton's 3rd Army been the Garden part (land forces) rather than Montgomery's XXX Corps. Of course history is riddled with "what ifs". Anyway I look forward to reading my new book and thank my family for making my day special.
Since I'll get to my own Father's Day later, I'll share some memories of my own dad.
- He's 79 this year.
- He was too young to fight in WWII and was out of the Navy by the time Korea rolled around. For that I'm grateful.
- He was a Seabee.
- He married his high school sweetheart. We lost her 23 years ago and it still hurts.
- He was married and had three kids by the time he was 23. I can't even conceive of having 3 kids (all one year apart) at that age.
- He worked days at a gas station and went to college at night.
- He worked for Ma Bell as did his daughter (my sister) and our grandfather (Mom's Dad).
- He was very tolerant for letting me tag along when he went out to play his games be it semi-pro baseball, bowling or golf.
- He was a natural athlete, a trait that unfortunately did not flow down to his sons.
- He could have signed a minor league baseball contract coming out of high school.
- He was a volunteer fireman.
- No matter what job he was doing around the house or on one of our cars, he always seemed to scrape his hand and/or finger.
- He was mine and my brother's baseball coach for years. Until I almost 15 anyway.
- While coaching our Little league team, he recommended switching this big, slightly overweight kid from first base to pitcher. The kid went on to pitch in the Mets farm system.
- He always took my sister, brother and I into NY city on Christmas eve to the office building on Broadway where he worked. We would eat cookies and cake and play with the adding machines. The train ride into the city was the highlight.
- My Dad loves model trains. Until he retired he never had the time (see three kids) to set them up properly. Now he has trains in the bedrooms of his house and in the dining room. He' also a member of a railroad club in the Orlando area.
- My dad has never remarried, but he's had the same gf for probably 18 years now. We all like her. She's been good for him and vica versa.
- He still drives minivan even though he hasn't had kids at home for 30 years. He says it so he can haul big items - like plywood for setting up train layouts. To my knowledge he has never hauled plywood.
- He is the first generation of the family that went to college.
- His father immigrated from Glasgow and his Mom from Aberdeen, Scotland.
- He grew up in the same house in NJ all his life (I think).
- He loved the NY Giants (baseball and football).
- He was really proud when my brother went into the Navy.
- He used to own a really nice boat when we lived in Maryland and lived a short ride from the Chesapeake Bay. It was a treat to eat crabs out on the boat as the sun set in the west.
- I hate that he lives 800 miles away and I only get to see him a few days every year.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Practice on Tuesday ended about twenty minutes early as thunder and lightening started lighting up the sky west of us. Luckily we weren't far from the cove where the boathouse is located and we were able to make it there and get the boats put away before the rain started. In the mid-atlantic late afternoon thunderstorms are a fact of life during the summer. Hopefully, we won't lose too many practices to them. The practice itself was easy as practices go. Two 8+s were put together and we rowed up to Fountainhead at a low stroke rate (18) while also doing leg only drills by 4s. It's early in our season, unlike most clubs that have been rowing since March, so we're still getting use to each other and getting rid of the cobwebs that we all accumulated over the winter. I'm sure the intensity of the practices will increase as we head into sprint racing season in July.
My Friday off is tomorrow so let the weekend begin!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
In order to get in a bike ride and to beat the heat, on Sunday I got up at 6:00AM, got the laundry started and loaded up my bike in the minivan. Our powerpack/air compressor has given up the ghost, apparently and I haven't been able to put any air into my tires for the past few rides. They still feel good and firm, but I know they could use some air. I ordered a new compressor that hopefully will be here by this coming weekend. Anyway, I drove out to the W&OD Trail for my ride minus Ann again. She claimed it was going to be too hot, but at 7:00 in the morning it wasn't really - at least not yet. Since Ann wasn't with me I decided to head east toward Vienna rather than west toward Leesburg. It's a bit more challenging and a little more crowded. I also decided since I started so early, that i would shoot for 30 miles rather than our usual 20 mile ride. As I headed off, the weather was really quite comfortable and not bad at all. After riding about 4 miles, I saw all these riders headed west. There were a lot more than the usual weekend riding crowd. I also noted that they were wearing numbers on their backs. I also started seeing direction signs for the Tour de Cure. It was a ride/fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association. It was nice that they were headed in the direction opposite than me although there were several riders who decided that it was a lot less crowded if they rode on my side of the trail. No collisions occurred, but I did have to slow down several times to give them time to pull back over to their side of the trail. It took me an hour to ride the 12.5 miles into Vienna. It took me the same time for the ride back, which indicates that the ups and downs of the trail even out over that stretch. Once back at Rt 28, I rode past the parking lot up to Ashburn Road and back making a total of 32 miles for the day. On the way back, I stopped at Smith Switch Station to refill my water bottle. There were a number of riders resting and chatting. One of the riders was discussing a collision between riders. I didn't catch exactly where it happened, but apparently a rider coming off a side trail didn't look for traffic and collided (t-boned) with a female rider causing her to take a nasty fall. She must have been pretty shaken up as it sounded like she went into shock (was feeling cold) and an ambulance had to be called to taker to the hospital. She was wearing a helmet, which apparently saved her from a much more serious injury.
After my ride, I just hung out the rest of the day. Given that I was tired from the ride and the temperature was headed up to 96, it was the sensible thing to do. To amuse myself, I've been watching the Euro 2008 soccer tournament. Think World Cup, but with European teams only. I love watching the World Cup so this is a treat. The level of competition is pretty amazing. My only complaint is none of the Great Britain teams made the tournament. England finished in third in their qualifying group by one point. Scotland also finished third in their group, 2 points behind the second place finisher. Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland also failed to qualify. So I think I'm routing for the Netherlands. They're off to a great start thumping Italy 3-0. Think orange. Spain plays Russia and Greece plays Sweden today. ESPN2 replays the best match of the day at 8:00. That's right about the time I'm getting home from soccer practice. It's a nice break from watching the Nationals who are just going down the tubes this season.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
After the first line of storms roared through the area around 2:30, an e-mail went out cancelling the rowing camp practice for that evening. When I saw the e-mail I thought to myself, Noooooo, it will clear up and we can row. Indeed it did clear up and the sun came out - for a short while. By the time we would have been meeting at the boathouse, the second line came through that produced a few tornadoes. It's a good thing clearer heads then mind run this thing. The previous evening (Tuesday), for our regular club practice, we managed to load up the boats and row just out of the cove before we heard the first rumbles of thunder and had to return to the docks. So we've lost two straight days of rowing due to the weather. Hopefully the third time will be the charm and we'll get out on the water. So far so good It's sunny and warm, in the low 80s. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
This weekend was a Friday off weekend, which I love. Friday a got in an early row. The water was finally free of debris and I didn't have to spend half my time looking behind me for logs in the water. The water was flat and the temperature warm but not hot and muggy. I rowed up well past Ryan's Dam and got in a total of 11 miles. When I got back to the dock, my hip flexors were so sore and tight, I could barely walk. That has never happened to me before so I'm not sure what was going on. For the next few hours I walked around like an 90 year old man just shuffling along.
Saturday was the official start of my rowing club's season. The kids are finally done rowing for the spring so we have access to their equipment. We had 13 guys show for the first practice so we took out an 8+ plus a Quad. I was the bow seat in the Quad. Our set was back and forth, but despite that we managed decent boat speed for a first practice and managed to stay in front of the 8+ for most of the practice. After our practice, most of us hung around to help with the adult rowing camp we sponsor. It's a two week, six times out on the water camp for beginners. We send out 4 novices in an 8+ with 4 experienced rowers. Having experienced rowers along to help with setting the boat (keeping the boat level), allows them to learn much more quickly. I got to be the stroke one of the 8+s and off we went for our 2 hour lesson. That 2 hours plus the 2 hour regular practice right before the camp session plus the 11 mile row the day before left me one tired puppy. I would have loved to come home showered and taken a long nap, but nay. Thunder storms were coming and my gutters were so clogged I had seeds starting to sprout in them. It took me over and hour and a half to clean them out. It's a pain in the ass job, but I didn't mind it in the past, but this whole getting up on the roof is getting to me these days. I'm really getting worried about losing my footing and going over the edge. I need to find someone else to come do them. I'm too old for this crap any more. Saturday night we had a club party. A way for everyone to get reacquainted. It was also a chance for the Board to go over things for the coming season with the members. As the Treasurer, I had to go over how we did for last year (we finished in the black) and what went into developing the budget for 2008 and from that how we calculated membership fees. It went pretty well I thought. The party was a lot of fun and we had some good food (pot luck) and drink. The party was held at one of the rowers houses. It's fairly new, really gorgeous and on the water. Everyone was suitable impressed.
Sunday I went for a bike ride by myself. Ann was in a bit of a funky mood and decided she didn't want to go. I thought the trail was a lot less crowded than usual given how nice a day it was. I made it out to Leesburg in 47 minutes and back in 40 minutes. I probably can do better but my legs just felt tired after all the rowing the previous two days. I'm sure the partying didn't help matters either. As I was resting in Leesburg before heading back to the van, Ann called to tell me that the battery in our other car was dead. I hadn't been having any problems with it or any indication that the battery was about to go. I hope maybe I didn't shut the door all the way and the battery had just run down. I put it on our battery charger for about 6 hours and it started right up. I'm hoping that problem doesn't reoccur. I was also looking forward to watching the Nationals play this afternoon, but they fell behind 5-0 in the first few innings so I turned it off. Maybe they'll do better when they return home. Another weekend in the books. I'm so not looking forward to returning to work.