Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Year in Review

It is time to get out of the post race blues. The end of the year is always a time of reflection pat yourself on the back and hopefully get out of the post race blues. For me it was an awesome year unbelievable, monumental and life changing.

Let us start by reviewing the predictions. At the beginning of the year I posted an entry here. At the beginning of the year I knew I would be travelling to Ethiopia to pick up my daughter. At that time I just didn’t know when. But let’s review just to make sure.

January – we officially became parents to Kalkidan. It was . . . different. Being new to the whole adoption process it was a bitter sweet. You become her parents but you can’t have her yet. There is no predetermined time frame just a general rule. So the ultimate high is brought down with a question mark.

February –Travel, travel travel! Out of the first sixty days of the year I was away from home for 18 of them. I told myself that I would have to learn to love to travel. It was around then when I killed my podcast and sheltered myself from the rest of the world.

March – Loving to travel! On Monday March 30th we left Canada for Ethiopia to pick up Kallie. It truly seems like yesterday. Jenny had booked the flight prior to getting official notification from Imagine Adoption. We received official notice (I believe) awaiting our flight in Vancouver Airport. The Starbucks in international departures had no coffee. WTF! It was my very first Americano.

April- Hello Kallie welcome to our world! We met Kallie on April 1st. She cried and we cried, for different reasons. Our time in Ethiopia was amazing. I still tell everyone who asks that everybody should go to Ethiopia. For the record I ran in Ethiopia at Meskal Square. So cool!

May- Imagine Adoption the adoption agency we used, files for bankruptcy just after we get home. Amazing, unbelievable story but yet true. The fallout from the whole ordeal continues. May 31st The whole entire family including my mother in law does the ‘Run for Water’, a fun run to raise money to dig wells for villages in Ethiopia. This month we begin our fourth season of swim club. Mother’s Day takes on an even more special meaning. Mother to 4. Wow!

June – Ethan does his very first triathlon at only 9 years old the kid amazes me at his willingness to try and his whole attitude towards sport.

July – Business as usual. Two swim meets. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was released mid month. It is very big around our house and deserves mention in the archives of our life. We went on the 15th at noon. It was released at midnight.

August –Vegas Baby! We travelled to Las Vegas for a family vacation. Yup it’s true. Although Las Vegas isn’t known as a destination hotspot for families we did have a lot of fun. My mother in law, who was supposed to travel with us, at the very last moment was called away to England and unfortunately could not make the trip. Most memorable moment: Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur. Runner Up: Getting inked in Vegas. August is always a blur even without family vacation mixed in there: 4 birthdays, an anniversary, and usually a swim meet and swim club regionals Did I forget something? Oh yah Kallie’s first steps but I’m not sure it was a blur, remember?

September - New school, new routines. We switched schools this fall going to the one we are actually in the catchment for. It was definitely a learning curve with different school hours and a little girl who needs a nap just when the boys needed to be picked up.

October – Trying times. Over the next two months I have to be out of town 20 days of the next 60. I told myself earlier that I’d have to learn to love to travel. I still haven’t got that one but I’m learning. Kallie’s first Halloween. Good times!

November – On November 7th I completed my second ultramarathon, a 100 km foot race from Haney to Harrison. I’ll say this about running that kind of distance; my beautiful wife was my support crew for the last half. I have never felt closer to her in the time during and after the race. You expose who you really are during extreme endurance events and when the person you love most isn’t scared or turned off it really becomes an incredible shared emotion upon completion. The family Christmas lights went up on the house November 29th. I say this now for the record because I swear I’m putting these things up earlier and earlier.

December – As the end of the year approaches with Christmas around the corner I write this post from the airport in Edmonton. Hopefully these are my last two days of travel for the year. Currently, we have been shifting focus between Christmas and the start of the New Year when Jenny must go back to work. Trying to nail down a posting for her to move into and arranging daycare. It tears me up inside and I feel helpless and anxious. How could such an incredible year end with such angst?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review: Once a Runner

Okay I believe the hype. Long touted as the best running novel ever written (by Runner’s World) it was forever on my hit list of books to read. But reading it proved elusive as the book has been out of print for decades. So the story goes John Parker wrote the book and sold original copies out of the back of his trunk. Read and re-read the book took on a cult status. I wasn’t sure if it was because if it was out of print or because it was that good.

Flash forward to the new millennium, thirty some odd years after its first release and Quenton Cassidy, the hero, is on peoples mind again. I finally picked up a copy and lay into it. The book did not disappoint me at all.

But let’s be real for a moment. There aren’t a lot of running novels. Sure there are a lot of novels whose characters run or their characters are runners. None come to mind right now but I’m sure they are out there. This book running aside is well written and captivating.

It is a fairly elevated read. Parker writes masterfully. Each chapter is short and beautifully written. You immerse yourself in the life of Quenton Cassidy who is on a Holy Grail quest to run the mile in under 4 minutes. Being a runner you empathize with Cassidy in his day to day workouts and how entwined into his life they become. Parker spares little detail and you actually feel Cassidy’s pain.

My favorite chapter has to be the one entitled ‘Intervals’ which Runner’s World published in its entirety as an excerpt to the book. Parker being a former miler himself writes with incredible believable accuracy.

Although I have not read Running with the Buffaloes the story of the college life of the University of Colorado Buffalo cross-country team I imagine it would be of similar stuff. Quenton Cassidy being a fictional character is so real by the end of the book you are forever wondering ‘Where are they know?’ Hence Parker has written a sequel to Once a Runner and followed it up with Again to Carthage.