Monday, June 15, 2009

Home At Last

Well the danger on the rocks is surely past. Still I remain tied to the mast. Could it be that I have found my home at last. Home At Last - Steely Dan

Crazy busy weekend this past three days. I feel like Ulysses on a long voyage with strange happenings and hardships before finally getting home.

It all started off Friday night with a stop at the Seventh Street Wine Company. Wife Salome & I were simply stopping by for one glass before we were to go see our son John MC an American Cancer Society concert at Huizenga Park. Buddy Tony had asked a bunch of us to stop by since it was bar tender Sydney's last night before going away for the summer to Seattle. While I had never met Sydney, I figured I could get some tips on things to do in Seattle after the marathon. Sydney was the equivalent of the witch-goddess Circe, the enchantress who turned half of Ulysses' men into swine after feeding them cheese and wine. While a lovely woman, she didn't seem too keen on offering any insight into the Seattle scene. Instead, she kept pouring all of us the various wines we bought, distracting us from our voyage for the evening. We never did make it out of that wine bar until late that evening. Luckily our son texted Salome to let us know that his MC gig wasn't much of an event due to low turn out. He had fun with his friends that he invited, but it wasn't the big gig we all had hoped it would be. Good thing, as I was feeling like a swine for not showing up.

The next morning was a fishing trip with buddy John on his boat. He had invited three of us dads with our young sons to go fishing for the morning. Thus, Saturday morning was an actual sea voyage. Captain John is a great host for young fisherman. He took us out to the first reef and trailed a chum block to attract reef fish. Now, the fish on the first reef are generally too small to keep. No matter. The kids had a blast casting and catching whatever would bite the squid on the hooks. We dads kept busy cutting bait, setting the hooks and helping the kids get their catch in the boat. Older son John came along as Co-Captain and photographer. Young son Alex was thrilled to catch a yellow tail snapper. I would have been more thrilled if it was big enough to keep and grill. Afterward, we had some of the gang over to our house for burgers, hot dogs and a swim.

After a mid afternoon nap, I get a call from a friend offering two tickets to see Steely Dan that night at the Meizner Park Amphitheater. Coming out of my nap, it felt like a dream. Previously, I was told there was one ticket available. Steely Dan is one of my favorite bands, but I was hesitant to go without Salome who is also a big fan. Luckily, my friend's college age son, Josh, decided to give up his ticket. Problem solved.

If you like jazz and get a chance to see Steely Dan, go. Don't think twice; buy tickets and go see these guys. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were backed by a very tight jazz band. The horn section included a trumpet, sax, tenner sax and trombone. Becker looked like an old man in shorts, Bermuda shirt, ankle high socks and sneakers, but he rocked that guitar and swayed as he played. Donald Fagen not only sang most of the songs, but he also played a Harmonia, a clarinet like instrument with a keyboard along the side. They played a lot off of Aja, Goucho and Katy Lied. The three backup singers shared some of the lyrical work. All in all, the concert was better than I had any right to expect. It had me itching to go to a jazz festival.

Sunday morning we all went to our church for son John to receive a scholarship from the Greek educational group called AHEPHA. Several high school graduates get scholarship money and the mood was very festive. My wife had mistakenly thought that Sunday was father's day (it next Sunday). She had the kids wish me happy father's day. That afternoon, I called my father to wish him a happy father's day. He thought I was nuts. When he corrected my misconception, I told him that I just wanted to be the first to wish him a happy father's day. We both agreed that its a holiday created to not have fathers feel left out after Mother's Day in May. My feeling was the fishing trip the day before was the best Father's Day gift I could receive. No need for a gift next weekend.

Training buddy John & I had agreed to put off our last 20 miler before the Seattle Marathon until Monday morning. John hates to get up too early for a run; I hate running in the heat. We tossed the starting time around and settled on a 5:30 AM run. The first two hours were lovely. The sun wasn't up at the start and by the time it got too high up in the sky, we were running along a condo shaded area of A1a. I was good until we got to about mile 17. Suddenly, we were out in direct sun at about 8:30 AM. In South Florida, that equates to 90 + degrees of heat. With humidity, it feels like 98 degrees. Suddenly, I'm wilting in the sun and bordering on heat exhaustion. We duck under the beach showers to try to cool off. I have to finish the run as a run/walk death march. I start singing the lyrics to Steely Dan tunes in my head to try to get thought the ordeal. "I see the ditch out in the back they're digging just for my." "Still I remained tied to the mast. Could it be that I have found my home at last?"

I offer for John to go ahead to finish his run. He declines all offers saying, "No one gets left behind." He has that dive buddy/Marine Corps ethic. I think he may also have felt a little guilty knowing I would have chosen to start earlier to avoid the extreme heat. In any event, we finished our 20 miles and cooled off at my house. I was home at last.

Now, its taper time. We cut back on our run distance to be well rested for Seattle on June 27th. The lesson I keep relearning is that even though we pick northern climates to run our summer marathons, we still have to train in the heat of South Florida to get ready. June 15th is a little late in the year to be doing 20 mile runs outside. Hopefully, we are now weather tested and will survive our voyage in Seattle.

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