Monday, October 19, 2009

Going Back to Gainesville

Yes, I'm Goin' Down to Florida, Where The Sun Shines Damn Near Every Day. Well I'm Goin' Down In Florida, Where The Sun Shines Damn Near Every Day. Yeah, I'll Take My Woman Out On The Beach, And Sit Down On The Sand And Play.

Yeah, I Think I'll Go Down Gainesville, Just To See An Old Friend Of Mine.
Well, I Believe I'll Cut Down to Gainesville, Just To See An' Old Buddy Of Mine. Well, You Know If We're Not Too Busy, I Believe We'll Drop Over to Newberry Sometime. Deep Down In Florida - Muddy Waters

Well, for me it was more "Going Up to Gainesville," but I have to quot Muddy Waters accurately. In any event, this past weekend was Homecoming at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. With my son John a Freshman at UF and a trombone player in the "Pride of the Sunshine State" (the Florida Gator Marching Band), Salome & I decided to take young son Alex and go visit some an old buddy of mine. My buddy Jeff Dollinger, who I attended both undergraduate and law school with, had returned to Gainesville after a couple of years in Fort Lauderdale and had lived deep down in Florida ever since. If its at all possible to imagine, Gainesville is philosophically "Deep Down in Florida," while South Florida is more northern, at least in feel. Gainesville has more in common with Southern Georgia than South Florida. Spanish moss, smaller town feel; yes, Gainesville is the South. Its also a great college town.

Prior to leaving for the five hour drive north from Ft. Lauderdale, I was able to get in a 1.5 mile swim on Thursday morning. I had my doubts as to whether I'd get that swim in last week. The open water had been rough all week. I had contingency plans to do a 25 mile ride, but when I woke up Thursday morning and looked out my window at the inter-coastal waterway, I knew the water was calling. It was finally calm enough to swim with the fishes. While I did get a pool swim in earlier in the week, there is nothing like a long open water swim. I love getting into a rhythm undisturbed by turns required in a pool. Thus, I headed north feeling like my workouts were once again in balance.

We got into Gainesville pretty late, so it was off to my Aunt's house and off to bed. Friday morning, I had breakfast with Salome & Alex, before running 3 miles through downtown, past the University and out the law school to meet Jeff and his son Brian. Brian is a senior in high school and was going to race the Gator Gallop, a 2 mile run that starts off the homecoming parade. I ran it easy with Jeff who hadn't run regularly in a couple of years. He had switched over to swimming as his main exercise, but agreed to run with the Gallop. It's primarily a true "fun run." We treated it as such. All in all, I got in 5 easy miles between the 2 runs. After the run, I worked my way back to the parade route to meet up with Salome & Alex in front of John's fraternity house, Delta Upsilon. Another good buddy of ours, John Neukamm, a former DU President, was also in front of the house watching the parade.

That night, it was off to Gator Growl, billed as the largest pep rally in the country. Growl is largely student skits, introduction of the senior class of the football team, followed by a comedian and some music. The comedian this year was Dana Carvey, who was pretty good. The music was by O.A.R., also pretty good. However, young Alex got tired and we left before O.A.R. finished playing. We picked up older son John and went out to eat at "The Original Pizza Place."

Saturday was all about the football game between the Gators and the Arkansas Razorbacks. We met up with son John and the band and marched with them to the stadium. Jeff had set us up with great seats 16 rows up in the northwestern corner of the end-zone. We could watch Tim Tebow warm up with his receivers, and were surrounded by a charged up crowd. You could probably say that about the whole stadium. "The Swamp" gets loud and is a twelfth man on defense. If you saw the game, you know it was a nail biter. The Gators keep losing the ball in the first half and went into half-time trailing for the first time this year. It was a back and forth second half, with the Gators breaking a tie by a field goal with seconds left on the clock. We all went nuts cheering and singing the Alma Mater at game's end. Afterward, we marched back out of the stadium with the band back to their start area, where they played some more. We again met up with John for anther dinner together as a family.

A cold front had moved in the area during the day Saturday, but it wasn't too cold; however, overnight the temperatures dropped into the low 50s. Ah, yes, the cold front I'd been dreaming of had finally arrived in full. The record breaking heat wave of the last couple of weeks was finally broken. Buddy Jeff had given me directions to a "Rails to Trails" course about a mile west of where we were staying. I found the trail, but went in the opposite direction from what Jeff had intended I take. No matter. The temperatures we ideal for a long run and I had a 20 miler on the schedule. It was sweet. However, I was in unfamiliar territory, so that the end of the run that I planned to run through the UF campus ended up extending my run to a 22 and 1/4 mile run. It was OK by me. I figured I was running in temperatures about 35 degrees cooler than my previous runs and I was going to take advantage of the conditions. The conditions were so runner friendly, I probably could have run a complete marathon. Meanwhile, up in NYC, training buddy John ran his 20 miler in Central Park with temperature in the 30s. Perhaps a little too cold, but he got it done.

So, we are down to a century ride this weekend and our "13.1 + 7 = 20" race in South Beach on Halloween morning. After that, it's time to start the taper down to 11/22/09 go time. Plenty left to do, particularly in the swim department. At least for me. I'd like to get some long swims in with the full wet suit on. It's been too warm in the water to do that prior to now. Hopefully, the cool weather will continue for a while.

Finally, I attach a picture of the new ride. This is for Jen, who has repeatedly requested that I do my civic duty and post a picture. Perhaps she will want a closer look and join in for the northern portion of our century ride this Saturday.

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