Sunday, November 30, 2008

Whirlwind tour of PA

Wow, we did a lot! We had a crazy, busy trip to PA for Thanksgiving.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and rented a sweet Chevy HHR for the weekend. Sense sarcasm. Anyway, we did Thanksgiving with my parents that evening. Had a grand time stuffing ourselves with turkey and stuffing and watching football. E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!!

Thanksgiving Dinner. Mmmmmmm.

Friday morning I ran for 40 min in what seemed like 28 degree weather, while Bec walked a while too. The news swore it was 40 degrees, but I question that. Had a great time chasing a few hundred geese off a field, like a 3 year old. Anyway, we went to Wilmington DE to visit with Judy and the Austin's. We had a late lunch-type meal and hung out all afternoon into early evening. We had a wonderful time and it is always a joy to see the DE Austin's.

Mom, dad, and Judy chatting like schoolgirls.

Bec and Tabban.

Bec and Bob (between naps and candies).

Bec and Jane. How cute are these two?

Bec and the grandparents. How adorable.

Saturday morning we slept in and went to see my grandfather at a sort-of nursing home type place. He's in great shape for 92, but called me Billy (his nephew's name). I'm not sure he knew my name. We had a nice visit then we went and had cheesesteaks for lunch. Mmmmmm.

Me, mom, and my grandfather.

That afternoon we did Christmas with my parents. We didn't gorge again, but saved it for that evening. See below.

Pile of presents!!!

That night we celebrated my parents 40th wedding anniversary with Uncle Gene and Lexi, and Aunt Terri and Uncle Monnie. Their anniversary is Dec 7th, but we partied a little early. We ate well, drank a few, looked at pictures of my parents wedding on CD, and ate and drank some more. My folks got some sweet goods for 40 yrs, incl a BlueRay disc player.

Mom and Dad, 40 years together!

The family.

Sunday morning we hurried off through sleet to the airport to fly home. Our plane left an hour late and we arrived in ATL at the time our connection was to leave. Good thing our connection was an hour late too!! We got to Nashville an hour late and our bags arrived! I couldn't believe it. We used frequent flier miles and scored first class on the return flights. Sweet!!!

Upon return we found that the kid watching our zoo doesn't follow instructions (again). Goldie evidently was never in her kennel at night, so there were a few #1 spots and a couple #2 spots that were sort of "cleaned up." Doesn't smell like #2, but it sure doesn't smell like roses. The dogs ate probably 12 lbs of food this weekend since "1 cup of food per dog twice a day," was interpretted as, "keep bowl outside and full." The dog food container, which I just filled up, is 3/4 empty! Plus the litter I'm pretty sure was never scooped. At least Goldie didn't eat anything (we know of), nor did she shred anything. Not cool neighbor kid. You might be out of a job after 2 mess ups. Now we have a carpet that NEEDS to be cleaned.

On a lighter note, a paper I've been revising for publication was accepted!!! So now I have more work to do this week. Uh!!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Race Day 2 (much better result!!)

So only 9 starters today though. We started with 100m straight on pavement then a 180 degree turn. Got a bad start and was 8th through the corner. Lovely. Rode hard around a few people and was riding in 6th place. Top 3 guys were long gone. They are super fast and shouldn't be in our race anymore. Anyway, I was on the wheel of the guy I want to beat (name is Keith) on the first lap. I passed him on a flat since he was lully gagging and he passed me back on a sketchy corner. I knew he felt bad yesterday, so I was not sure how he felt today. I decided to sit on his wheel for a couple laps and see what happened (can I hang on?). There is a long uphill that hurt me everytime and he'd gap me. There were other parts where I caught up to him and could recover in his draft. Those spots I think I could power away from him if I wanted. We caught this guy that was ahead fo us and it was kind of weird. I actually thought we should work together to reel him in and pass him hard, but decided to just sit in as along as possible to save my energy. No one was close behind us and my teammate crashed, so he was just back there watching our race.

Anyway, this YMCA rider we caught would fall back to us and sit on the front, then take off and fade again. Didn't know what to make of it and I also wasn't sure if I passed Keith that he'd work with me to drop him. Keith and I didn't talk at all.

Sadly for me, the tough part of the course for me was the last quarter lap. So I sat on Keith's wheel for 4 laps, wondering if I could attack and keep away without blowing up. So just before the last lap my teammate yelled at me to go go go and not sure if it was the right time, I went all out. I sprinted up a hill and just gunned it with everythig I had. I got a 20m gap immediately and held it for a LONG time. I was calculated in my dismounts, turns, etc. and went more aggressive at the same time. The best part of the course for me was the first 1/2 so if I was going to atack, that was when I HAD to do it. I had to get the gap and hope to hold off his attack in the end where I was struggling. As we approaching the barriers on the last lap (which is near the start of the lap), that YMCA rider that was ahead of me crashed going over the barriers really hard (he didn't get up for about 30 sec and he quit the race, he is ok). I was right behind him and managed to go to the right and pass him.

It was then just Keith and I fighting for 4th and 5th. I had the gap and just took every corner, flat, hill as hard as I could. I had no choice. On the long climb near the finish he didn't gain on me so I was figuring he didn't have my left to catch me. I had a 20m gap before a TIGHT left turn on a hill descent and I locked the rear wheel, skidded a bit, but stayed up. I had a 20m gap going around the last corner and sprinted a bit to the line. He came back, but I beat him by a second or so. He came back hard! I finally won a big battle.

Not sure my tactic was right to sit on his wheel so long. We chatted about it afterwards. He said he felt bad and almost told me to just pass him mid-race since he couldn't hang on. I think he really didn't feel good, but not sure I could have dropped him earlier in the race. Maybe I should have attacked early, but I could have cracked and gotten worn out and he'd caught me back. I took 4th of 8. My best % placing yet and obviously 4th is nice. Just missed a prize. Who cares. I beat my target, even if he didn't feel good. I didn't know that and my tactic worked out. I rode strong and evidently smart enough to go full gas for the last 8 minutes. Felt awesome!!! I felt like I won the race! I did even pump my arm like I won something big.

My teammates said it was awesome watching us battle the entire race. I think I surprised a few people in my power today, including myself. I'm proud I didn't crash and that I took corners and everything much more aggressively and was ok. Practice is good, but racing is the best. Helps when you're chasing someone and if you don't get out fo your comfort zone and take risks, you get dropped and lose. I know we only had 8 finishers, but it was a good race for me.

I ended up 9 of 13 yesterday despite my acrobatics.

I did ride my busted saddle since it didn't bother me and wasn't unsafe. I am looking to buy a new one though.

Will post picts eventually.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My cyclocross crash and burn

So today was race 1 this weekend. It hit about 45 at race time and felt pretty good for racing (we generate a LOT of heat, so cool is good).

Unfortunately I had a horrible race. I did a good workout Friday to loosen up real good, and had a good warm up before the race and was ready to rock when we started. The start is always a sprint and riding really hard for a lap or so to sort out order of people, groups of fast and slower riders, and then grind to the finish. I had a killer start, first time ever, and was 4th going onto the grass out of 13. I hit a little gully at full speed (that I didn't see before) and my bike went, "BANG." I slowed up and 3 people said, "that sounded really bad." No kidding. Thanks for the newsflash. I eased up thinking I broke my fork or a wheel.

I found nothing broken so I kept going and waited for my handlebars to break off. I lost probably 7 places. Thant stunk. So I cranked up the pace and was pulling myself back into the second group of riders (the one I could hang with) going around a corn field to a set of logs we had to jump over. I was way overzealous in getting back to the group and took WAY too much speed going into them. I have no clue what happened, but I think I couldnt' run as fast as I had been riding and I crashed fabulously. I wish it was on tape. I have no clue what happened really. I found myself on the dirt, bike on top of me (possibly explaining the bruised and sore right knee). I got up, shook off some mud, banged my left shifter to a manageable position (not 45 degrees off), found my chain off the cranks, put it back onm made sure I was ok and got back on the bike. My competition was done. AHHHHH!!

I had been feeling good, had what was my best start, regardless of the bang. I was now 30-45 sec back from the group I wanted to be in after getting back on the bike. I was very shook up mentally. I eventually clawed myself past 2 guys, both of whom had asked how I was while laying in the dirt between logs. I think I got 10th of 13 (I lapped someone too). In the end I cramped on the last lap, making catching that one last guy within reach impossible. I also bent the rail of my saddle (not sure in which incident) and my saddle is shot. It sits like a ship taking on water. Lovely. I didn't even notice it during the race, but found it when a guy I beat told me my saddle was bad. 3 people are hopefully bringing a saddle tomorrow so I can swap and ride something. The nasty crash certainly made me slow down a little going into barriers.

The crash also totally messed up my head. In 5 years fo racing in some capacity, I've never crashed. For 1.5 laps (~12min) I was looking only immediately ahead, overshooting turns with too much speed, going through mud at the wrong angle, and about crashed myself on a dismount on gravel just before a run up stairs (landing on railroad ties would hurt WAY more than mud). I got it together, but it was brutal! The worst thing is there is a guy I sort of work with (in my building) and he always beats me. Half way through the race he wasn't far ahead of me and later he said he felt awful. If I hadn't wrecked, I've likely have beaten his you know what. Office pride! AHHHHHH. My one chance to toast him. Maybe tomorrow he'll feel bad too and I won't be stupid!

It was funny later because a few people said that they head someone crashed really hard on the logs. That was me. Good story and I'm ok, so all is good.

Cross isn't often this horrible, really. It was fun though and a teammate got 5th. That was good.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Racing, Cape May, Racing, and Coffee

So I (Scott) haven't posted in a while since I've been a little busy. I have played with making the blog prettier, and am still going to work on this more. You'll see changes, eventually.

So the weekend of Bec's birthday, my cycling team put on bike races. Really fun courses, yet the one day it was brutal. Lots of roots, rocks, trees, drainages, steep hills, mud pits, etc to race through. I managed decent races for my abilities and finished 10 of 16 and 11 of 18. Not nearly last, so that is good. I have been working hard doing a lot of near max efforts to get stronger. We have some video we will post to give an idea of what cyclocross is all about.

The night before I left, we celebrated Bec's birthday with dinner and presents. It was a lame attempt on my part since I had so much to get done and couldn't do everything (like pack needed stuff for the week), but that's the way it goes.
The week in Cape May was great other than the rain and fog most days. I saw ~20 hawks in hand and learned how to sucker in hawks to bait birds. Bait birds were not injured in the trapping of these hawks. It's a two edged sword though: sun and wind is good for hawk migration and catching hawks, but I'm not out birding and taking pictures. Clouds, rain, and fog is bad for hawk flights, so we don't catch much or anything, nor can we go birding and see much. Oh well. Had a great time.

See picts from NJ here:

Aunt Judy, Bob and Jane were incredibly generous and lent me a vehicle for the week so I didn't have to rent a car! Thanks guys!! They all met me at the airport and I went on my way to NJ, stopping to get exact change and $ for the stupid tolls everywhere. Cost me $10 or something to get to Cape May and back. Anyway, I got to visit my folks for a night and eat like a king, then I ate like a king the next day with Judy, Bob, and Jane before I went back to the airport. Something happened on a runway in PHL, so I sat in the airport for 5 hrs. We were supposed to leave at 4pm. Well the plane we were to get on left Detroit for PHL at 4:08. Lovely. It was a long wait. When I finally got to Nashville our bags were coming out, people claimed pretty much all bags, and they turned off the lights and the belt stopped. I was like, "I didn't even have a connection!!!" I wasn't the only one who's bags didn't come out. We were about to walk away and complain when the belt started again and our bags came out. I'd have been really mad if I didn't get my bag after all that.

This weekend I'm racing again in Fayetteville, TN (not far from Huntsville AL). Should be pretty cold on Saturday and probably a boring course. It'll be good to race though as racing makes you stronger. My goal is at least a respectable finish at races in January. Bec has a 15 page paper to write and a nasty virus to get over, so I'll race and she'll write and blow her nose a lot.

I just like coffee.
Stay tuned for blog modifications.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some videos

Apparently the problem with the videos yesterday was that they were too large.  Here are a few to enjoy even though they're grainy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Walking in Memphis...well, Germantown

Scott's in Jersey this week, so I went to Memphis to meet H and go to a shower for Kelly.  I had a lovely, though flying, visit.  I don't have much time to post since I supposed to be studying, but here are some pictures I took of the kids.  I tried to upload video, but blogger doesn't seem to want to do that this morning.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fall Weekend

Saturday was a beautiful fall we went to the zoo.  I so love the zoo.  It was the perfect time to walk around and see all the animals out and playing.  Scott took some pictures since he still is working on learning all the camera settings. The pictures aren't downloaded, though, so you'll just have to imagine the meerkats sunning themselves and the zebras walking around.  Got that?  Nice, huh?

In the evening, we headed over to our closest state park (about 15 minutes away) and watched the sun set over the lake.  Very pretty.  We left when the sun went down because it gets so chilly.  And then we watched TV and ate pizza.  Sidenote- We passed a house that I have decided is Charlie Daniels's since it had a tour bus parked outside.  I'll give tours of the rich and famous in town when you people come visit.  For Smyrna, that's just Charlie and the singer from 3 Doors Down.  It's a short tour.  

I'll also eventually post our pumpkin carving pictures.  We made two this year because we're so awesome.  Scott's had ghosts on it and mine was a regular old face.  The kids liked them though.  A few of the trick-or-treaters told me they were cool.  Yay!  We bought lots of candy since we had so many kids come by last year.  And now we have lots left over since we had about a third the number of kids that we had last year.  

And the most exciting news of the weekend....Hannah is now home!  Welcome to the family, sweet girl!  We're looking forward to meeting you.