Freshhell reminded me about They Might Be Giants’ “813 Mile Car Trip.” Here it is, in all its puppetoliciousness:
We sang that song a lot during our drive.
Our Tae Kwon Do yellow belt test is over. I passed outright — it’s the third time I’ve earned my yellow belt in TKD in the last 15 years, so I would have had no excuse for failing. Our instructor wants Unfocused Girl to redo self defense technique number 3 in the first class of the next session; a lot of the white belt kids have to redo even more of the test, so that isn’t bad. She knows the technique; to the extent she flubbed it during the test, I think it was just a combination of nerves and a partner (a kid from a different class) who didn’t know what he was doing. She’ll nail it at the next class and get her yellow belt, too. I think this is the first time she’s really had to work hard over time to achieve something, and she did a great job.
Back to the stats:
Number of years in a row the Atlantic Ocean has tried to take my son on our last day at the beach: 2. This year, I carried junior out into the water about up to my waist, past what had been, for most of the previous 11 days, past the break point. I misjudged it, and we were right where the waves curl over and start to crash down. I saw a big one coming, started back to the sand, and held Junior up to keep his head above water. Big mistake. When the wave came, I was already off balance, and got knocked over, and I lost my grip on Junior. It only took me a few seconds to find him in floating in the water and grab him, but it really shook me up. He handled it well, though, and wanted to go back in soon after.
And yes, Unfocused Junior was able to play in the sand and go into the water, even with his cast. We used a terrific cast cover, and while it meant he couldn’t use his right hand for much, he still had a lot of beachy fun. It also forced us to try a few things in the area other than the beach, so that he wasn’t wearing the cover every day, which was neat.
And finally, the running.
Miles run during vacation: 38, including five training runs of 6.1, 6.64, 5.23, 7.71, and 6.11 miles, respectively, and two 5K races (3.1 miles each). My goal here was to do well enough in one of the 5Ks to win an age group medal; these are small races, and it isn’t as though any of us are truly elite runners, so I thought I had a shot. In the first race (the first Sunday of our vacation, after we’d been there a week), last summer I was seventh in my age group; this year I came in fourth. There was a rainstorm during the race which slowed everybody down, so while my time was a little slower than last year’s, I don’t think it helped or hurt my relative showing.
In the second race, the morning of the day we left the beach, I used some strategery. It was a combined 5K and 10K; last year, I ran the 10K. These races are part of a series; for the people who are at the beach all summer, there is one race each weekend for eleven weeks, and the people who run them all are ranked for the whole series. If you’re competing in the series, you have to run the 10K, and of the three guys in my age group who finished ahead of me in the first race, two of them were definitely competing in the series.
I, of course, ran the 5K. My plan worked, and even though I came in one second slower than my 5K PR, I won my age group, the first time I’ve ever won any kind of athletic competition. Apparently, the secret is finding a race that the really fast people aren’t running. I didn’t get any better; I just arranged it so my competition was worse. I’m not complaining, and a win is a win and I feel pretty damn good about it, but I can’t pretend it’s because all of the sudden I got so much better.
Yes, I’m bragging. Sorry; I’m still a little giddy. I wore the medal (over the race t-shirt) for the first 200 or so miles on the drive home before I put it away. Next year, Unfocused Girl wants to run one of the 5Ks with me; we’ll have to work on her endurance, but it’ll be a lot of fun. Meantime, the local running store at the beach is sponsoring a marathon on the Saturday before Thanksgiving…
Congrats on the AG award!! And even better job on finding your son after the wave, that would have had me spooked for a few minutes.
Thanks! I was spooked when it happened, but I really got the shakes later that night, especially after we put the kids to bed. I think I checked on him 5 times that night before I went to sleep myself, just to reassure myself he was there. When it happened last year, my wife was standing right next to him, and she says she still thinks about it.
It’s absolutely awful to feel yourself losing hold of your kid in the ocean. When it happened to me last year it was the day after a storm and the wave that caught him came out of nowhere. He was running around with only the tips of his toes in the surf, I was taking pictures, and then all of a sudden we were totally underwater. I reached out and grabbed him, only to be hit by two more waves and lose him. Mr. Unfocused saw what was happening and beat the lifeguard to him by a few seconds, but our son went under three times total. The camera was a total loss, but the SD card was intact and the photos tell the story…lots of frolicking, then slammed with water, then nothing. It was awful, and I will never, ever forget it. I couldn’t even go into the water this year…don’t expect I ever will again. Watching the kids playing there was stressful, and watching Mr. Unfocused lose hold was very difficult.
On the humorous side of the vacation, however, Mr. Unfocused kept me laughing so hard on the first leg of the car trip it’s lucky I didn’t run us off the road. He nonchalantly tried to draw my attention to his medal as many times as possible. “Oh, this? That’s just my medal…you see, I’m very fast,” followed by the false modesty of, “Well, it’s just for the age group…but did you happen to notice I came in first?” If my attention was distracted too much by unimportant things like, you know, oncoming trucks, he would take a deep breath and puff out his chest in order to invite further comment on his triumph. Of course after such exertion he was unable to do the driving that night…I put in 300 miles from 6:30 pm to 1:30 am while he iced his knee and dozed off. I had only been cleaning the house for the previous 36 hours in preparation for our departure.
And way to go, Unfocused Girl. We’re really proud of you!