Monday, December 31, 2007

What a year, what a year!

Way back in 1994 right about this time of December, I was reflecting back on the year. The year was decent, yet seemed status quo with the previous 4 years. I made a decision then that I was going to make each new year stand apart. That at this time every December, I’d be able to look back and feel solid about the uniqueness of my experiences from that year. I’ve lived up to this thus far. This past year was certainly one that I won’t forget, and not just because I keep a journal of special events and also this blog.

2007 began as my last in my 30’s. I made a quick trip out to Cleveland for a few days in January to spend some time with Scott and Ange – this was Ange’s Christmas gift to Scott. Yes, I also can’t figure out why someone would actually want to spend time with me as a gift?!

Lisa and I took the kids to Disney in February where we had a blast, and I certainly am not a big fan of crowded amusement parks, especially when you can find more exhilarating adventures in nature. My kids were at the perfect age though and my daughter was in her prime princess stage, so it was priceless. I highly recommend the ride “Soarin’” in Epcot.

I held my first Tucson training camp in March and as I stated in my blog reports, I had found my winter training place. The riding there was incredible, and the Mexican food was better than actually being in Mexico. I’m stoked thinking that in two and a half months, I’ll be climbing Mt. Lemmon once again.

In April, Baker and I headed up to Northwest CT for a bit of reconnaissance training and course scouting. This is always a good time, even if Baker tells you different.

May hosted my seventh CT camp which is always just an incredible experience. The camps are a lot of work, yet I probably enjoy them as much as the campers. There is always something memorable from each one of the CT camps. One thing I certainly remember was the view from the Appalachian Trail on that soggy Friday morning, 45 minutes up and into a great run. Another is the dejected group early on during the Saturday long ride, and me lecturing them to shut off their emotions and just ride, and all of them following suit to not only ride well, but laugh about it at dinner.

June was my daughters 4th birthday and later in the month my first Lake Placid Camp. Some specific memories were taking everyone attending off the LP course for some great trail runs, the climb up Whiteface on a cold and rainy day, the crazy amount of athletes riding the course on that Saturday, and a couple of the campers riding 30 miles further in one session then they both ever had before. I also remember a solo Sean heading out in the afternoon to ride Whiteface because he missed it that morning due to technical issues with his bike, and returning back into LP at sundown with a huge grin on his face. I remember thinking “that is what these camps are all about!”

July – wow! It started with the eve of my birthday actually, June 30th, where Lisa through me a great surprise party up at The Bar in New Haven. The next morning, I awoke early and ran 40 miles commemorating my 40th birthday, having my family, my father, Baker, Gus and Brennan all join me for portions of it, followed by leftover pizza and beer at my house. It was an amazing day – sunny and in the 70’s. Later that month, Lisa took me to France for the Tour finale and to ride the most incredible rides I have ever experienced. I can still picture clear as day the climbs up the Port D’Bales, the Col De Peyressourde, the Col D’Aspin and the Tourmalet. I remember vividly leaving the town of Luchon by myself after almost oversleeping one morning to tackle three of the mentioned climbs. I remember sipping champagne on the final day from the balcony overlooking the Champs. I can still see Lisa’s hair whipping around atop the Eiffel Tower, or cool little lunch place where the two of us ate in St. Emillion, or the way my shoes squeaked loudly while walking through the Louvre.

August was a couple of fun trips with the kids – up to RI to play in the surf, then later to an indoor water park for a few days where no matter which way I got in the family raft ride, I always ended up going down backwards and getting the most wet. Then we went to New York City where they screwed up our room at our hotel and to make up for it gave us the nicest suite I’ll ever stay in. My kids had a blast and will hopefully forget soon how nice that suite was. I managed to sneak in a solid performance at the Timberman ½ IM and qualify for the 70.3 worlds in November.

September was my sons 7th birthday which again was a cool bike ride where he attacked my tired legs and sprinted for the park benches and signs on the trail to the park. The previous weekend, Baker, Kenny and I did a great Vermont ride, tagged with prototype My Athlete units. I remember the woman in Northampton talking to herself and Kenny thinking that she was on a Bluetooth headset. I also remember doing shots of patron later that night and laughing a lot.

October saw another opportunity for me to get to Kona, only this time not as a participant. I represented My Athlete and helped John out at the expo, rode the course tagged with a unit, swam again at Hapuna beach, ran down the mountain from the condo daily to swim at the pier and then back up it, and ate some great food.

November, Big Rock’s and I traveled down to Florida for the disappointing 70.3 World Championship race. Enough has been said about this race in my recent blogging.

Here we are in December! I'm really fortunate to have the opportunities to train in some amazing places. Reflecting back now, I did a massive amount of climbing on my road bike this year, starting with Kitts Peak and Mt lemon, then up and down the best climbs in the Berkshires including a few 18 to 20% grades, then to Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain, before heading on to The Pyrenees!

But the things I remember best from this past year are the cool experiences I got to share with others. Here are some of the more vivid memories: Seeing my daughters face light up when we first entered the Magic Kingdom and she saw the princesses performing. My son and I spewing with laughter after getting drenched on the river ride at the Animal Kingdom. Running with Scooter in the Cleveland winter and resolving all of life’s problems in that one hour. Driving around Tucson in Brian’s truck with Molson, Gus, and Bruce in the back seat, the five of us laughing non-stop. The exhilarating descent from Mt. Lemmon with Jim Spinner. When Gus, at the top of Kitts peak where it was about 40 degrees and I’m wearing shorts and short sleeves, removes two winter skull caps in a dumb and dumber moment. Baker and I, frozen to the bone on a cold and wet 5 hour ride, shivering in some small shack/convenient store in upstate NY, joking how we were stuck in some scene from Hostel, or sitting at dinner that night sucking down a few Guinness and retelling the days stories. Brennan, Molson, Kenny, Baker and I heading out to the Irish pub after all the tired campers headed in for the evening. Hanging out on top of Whiteface Mountain on that foggy, cold Friday morning, thinking that everyone else turned early and left me for dead up there. Running with Steve out to Alpine Lake on the last day of LP camp even though I told everyone to turn at the 1 hr mark so that we’d all be back in 2 hrs (it took us 1 hr 15 minutes to reach the lake and was so worth it!). Being surprised by Lisa and a bunch of great friends at the birthday party she threw for me. Running the 40 miler the next day and having a bunch of friends show up for the hell of it and sharing in my experience. Eating cheese, a baguette, and wine for dinner one evening in Mercues with Lisa, or seeing her face when we walked up the subway steps after taking the bullet train to Paris and seeing right in front of us The Arch D’Triumph, or later that evening, walking through the Paris streets with her at midnight to the Eiffel Tower because we could see it lit up from our restaurant we were at so it had to be close, right? Playing “what would you rather do?” with Lisa on the drive with the family from Lake George to NYC (the kids had their headphones on in the car). Spending the day in NYC and then getting back to our lucky upgraded suite to have Kate announce “Ahh, back home at the Tipton!” (parents that have kids in the Disney channel years will understand this). Crashing hard in Westfield, MA on the ride to Vermont and Baker getting me ice packs while Kenny fixed my bike. Having one to many beers and then some chilled Patron that night in VT with Baker and Kenny, laughing at some really funny stuff and thinking that we had to get up the next day early and ride back to CT. Eating at Huggo’s in Kailua with Brennan. Riding with Brennan up to Hapuna and then floating in the waves there. Hanging out with Big Rocks for the weekend in Florida and watching a lot of Seinfeld and drinking a lot of Jamba Juice (any adult that's given the opportunity to spend time with their father should jump at it.) … Lot’s of fun here. I can only hope that 2008 is near as fun. I’ll certainly be trying to one up this year!

Thanks a bunch everyone for participating in an amazing year. Baker, you poor bastard, we aren't done yet! Prepare for some more torturous adventures this year. I know you wouldn't have it any other way.



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