Racing on St. Paddy’s Day

A couple of John Jay alumni ran some long standing St. Patrick’s Day events. Mike Lish, Class of ’94, ran Chicago’s  Shamrock Shuffle – the worlds largest 8K. Mike says he’s in average shape, which isn’t bad for a guy with a full time job and three kids. It was his first race in “Vibram Five Fingers” so he ran a little cautiously, finishing in 34:39. His goal for the Chicago summer 5K circuit is to break 20-minutes. Mike and his wife are going to alternate racing and kid duty so that they will both be able to race.

The interesting news from Mike is not about his racing. It’s about his poker prowess. Mike recently qualified for the World Series of Poker (main event), which will be held this summer. Maybe we will catch him on ESPN.

Dan Jordy, who is running for the very competitive Willow Street team in Albany, ran the “Running of the Green” 4-mile. Dan finished in 6th place with a sterling time of 20:56. Dan is going to be running in the upcoming Penn Relays. He didn’t say in what event. One of Dan’s best high school races was the 4 x 800 meter relay at Penn. His 800-meter split of 1:57 helped the team to a 2nd place finish in the Large School Race and a spot in the “Championship of America” race the next day.

A John Jay Update

With the Wappingers Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner getting close, I'm starting to hear a little news about some alumni. I got a great email from Bob McCloskey, dad of the running McCloskey Clan. Four McCloskey kids ran for John Jay back in days Mary Sclafani and I were coaching and all of them are still active runners. The oldest, Chris has become an accomplished triathlete, having done two half Ironmans and is currently training for the Lake Placid Ironman. Kelly, to quote her dad, "is the queen of half marathons" having done eight in the last couple of years with a PR of 1:28. Laura, who doesn't seem to stay in one place too long, has still managed to run Boston and will be returning to the granddaddy of all marathons again this year. Julie, who used to think anything over 200-meters was a long distance run, has run a couple of half marathons and the Nashville Marathon. Amazingly, she keeps a 20-mile run as part of her running program. The final member of the McCloskey clan, Kyle, is in his freshman year at John Jay. He ran on the varsity cross country team and earned his varsity letter.

Liam Harrison is living in Brooklyn and is an active member of a very competitive local running club. He placed 2nd last year in the Dutchess Classic Half-Marathon and regularly places well in races in NYC.

I got a message from Tim Lo the other day. He has also gotten back to running and is training for a half marathon.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I would really like to start posting racing information about  runners from my coaching era at John Jay. Any information anyone wants to send me would be welcome.

Team Loyalty and a Broken Heart

While cruising around the internet this morning I checked in on Pete Colaizzo's Marist Running blog. Pete is a die hard Yankee fan, with enough NY loyalty that when the Yankees aren't playing he roots for the Mets. He had a link to a NY TImes Op Ed column written by David Brooks, who I guess is a conservative writer and long time Mets fan. Here's a link.

The article brought back memories of the first time I had my heart broken. No, not by a cute little girl. It was 1957, I was 11-years old and my first love was the NY Giants and my hero, Willie Mays. That was the last year they played in NY before moving to San Fransisco, changing my baseball world forever. The first baseball game I ever went to, my dad took me to the Polo Grounds. I don't remember much about the game except when Willie walked out of the dugout for the first time. I can still hear my dad saying, "There's the 'Say Hey Kid'." 

With the Giants no longer playing in NY there was very little chance to see them play on TV. My only way of keeping up with the team and Willie was by checking the newspaper. Back in those days the paper of choice in our household was the now defunct New York Herald Tribune. I only looked at one page, the one with the scores from the games the day before and the Stats section. The stats had a little box that listed batting average, home runs and RBIs for the top five players. My hero was always there.

When the Mets starting playing in 1962 my dad and younger brother gradually became Met fans. Through the years I went to a few games, even took my own kids to some Met games when they were younger. As much as I tried, I could never develop a passion for the team. They weren't the Giants. It was great when they brought Willie back to NY for the end of his career, just having him in NY felt right. He was past his prime and probably should have been retired. Still, for those of us who had rooted for him in a NY Giants uniform in our formative years, it was a fitting ending for him to come home to end his career.

Back in the 1990s a strange phenomenon took place. My wife started watching some baseball games with me. She knew almost nothing about the game. Every game we watched  became a teaching session, with me explaining rules, strategy and some of the nuances of the game. (The one thing I still can't help her with is the balk rules. They remain a mystery.) Her timing in taking an interest in baseball was perfect. It coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Mo Rivera, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte era with the Yankees. She became a "fanatic". Before I knew it we had a packet of tickets for ten games a year, plus options to get cheap tickets for some other games. When the new stadium opened it was Season Tickets. Our last year living in NY was 2009. We were at the game the night they won the World Series.

So what do you do when your wife is a Yankees "fanatic" and you live in NC? You sign up to get the Major League Baseball Package. We get to watch all the games except when they play Baltimore. Through some bizarre reasoning, the southeast corner of NC is considered to be in the Baltimore market so the games are blacked out. It's a minor annoyance that we can live with. I'm sure that on one of our trips to NY we will go on Stub Hub and get tickets to a game. It's getting close, opening day is less than a month away.

Go Yankees.

Taciturn Fishermen

 Back in the day I used to fish a lot. Since moving to NC I have only fished with the grand kids in the local ponds where we caught some sunfish and small bass. Here it's mostly salt water fishing, either in the bays and backwaters or out in the ocean. I've never been salt water fishing. The first year we were here I went to a couple of meetings of the Fishing Club. Went in to the meetings not knowing anyone and left still not knowing anyone. Nobody talks and even more than not talking, nobody shares. They had to be the least inclusive group of people I have ever met. Not sure why. Maybe fishermen are quiet by nature. I'm thinking, though, that if they have a boat, they don't want some newcomer trying to make friends with the goal of getting on their boat. They probably don't want the new guy next to them asking the awkward question,"So where is your favorite spot to catch drum?" I guess it's understandable, just not very friendly.

At last night's meeting one of the local guide/tackle shop owners gave a talk on fishing the bays and backwaters for drum, speckled trout and flounder. It was exactly the information I had been looking for. I figure those kinds of spots will be perfect for putting in my canoe and attempting to catch some fish. He came with a number of poles rigged with the tackle he likes to use. He explained how to use a number of different lures and live bait. Turns out live shrimp is the best way to catch fish. If you can find where the fish are and throw a live shrimp in the water, you'll catch them.

Once this hernia thing is healed and I can lift my canoe onto the roof of the car I'm planning on giving this salt water fishing thing a try. The worst that can happen, aside from capsizing, is I spend some quiet time in the canoe enjoying the scenery.

Time Flies

I got a comment from Kara Tucker-Forest on my "Recovering" post below. She and Jennifer Lawrence are running a 5K this weekend. Who are these two ladies? They are former John Jay High School athletes who ran for me over twenty years ago. Back then both of them were 400/800 meter runners. Jen was also a high jumper, the only girl I ever coached who could clear a height that was taller than she was. They were near the beginning of a procession of female track athletes at John Jay who would re-write the school record books. Here is a link to Kara's blog: http://oneredheadandlighthouses.blogspot.com/

A few days ago I got an email from an even earlier graduate of John Jay, Tim Peters, who has recently gotten back to running. Tim had just completed his first half-marathon. As a father of three kids and a full time job, that's quite a feat.

One of my new goals on here is to highlight current running accomplishments of former John Jay athletes who were on the teams that I coached. Pass the word. It would be great to hear from former athletes who are still out there competing.

Walk on the Beach

What do you do when you can't cycle, run, swim, play golf, etc? Take a walk on the beach. Beautiful Carolina Blue skies, temps around 50-degrees and a little breeze. I took along the camera and took a few pictures. The walk was at the west end of Oak Island where the Lockwood Folly River meets the sea.

It was amazing how empty the beach was. I guess a combination of "off season" and a chilly, breezy day.

This is a great beach for finding shells. Sometimes you can even find a conch shell.

With low tide there is miles of flat, hard sand to walk on.

The houses are on Holden Beach, another island across the Lockwood Folly River.

Flocks of terns passing through on their migration.

Every once in a while there are yucky, dead jellyfish on the beach. Today was one of those days.

Rental anyone?

Shells every where.

I really need to learn to identify the shore birds. There are so many and so many look fairly similar, it has kept me from taking on the challenge.

Low tide with the beach stretching to the horizon.

Plovers?

It's tough to get a picture of terns diving for food, but I tried.

There are always people fishing. I've yet to see anyone catch anything. One guy's response to what he was catching was, "Nothing, but it's better than the "honey do" list.

Heading back toward the car.

Recovering

So far, so good. I actually may have overdone it a little yesterday with too much walking. Taking it easier today. Just a short walk  this morning. If the rain holds off, I’ll be back out this afternoon. So far I haven’t taken any Tylenol today, a step in the right direction. They gave me a prescription for pain meds – something that started with Oxycodone. Marlene filled it just in case, but the pain would have to be awfully bad before I take any.

So what does an old retired coach do when he can’t be too active? I’ve been checking track results on the computer. The New York State Indoor Championships are today at Cornell. Every little while I go on to see how the kids are doing. The girls’ meet is this morning and they are putting up some impressive times. Do I miss the days of anticipation and adrenaline. You bet.

I’ve also been following Pete Colaizzo’s Marist team. They are in Boston for the IC4A meet and the ECAC meet. Pete posts results on his blog.

Last but not least, a former John Jay athlete (Ryan Joyce) is running a 5-mile race in Buffalo today with a goal of setting a PR. Going to be a tough task in the super high  winds they are having. Ryan’s story is an interesting one. Originally a soccer player/sprinter/long jump/triple jumper he has turned himself into a very good endurance athlete. He covers the whole range of road races, duathlons and triathlons. His strongest event is probably the duathlon. You can check him out here.

Update

Quick update: surgery went very well. We left home at 11:45 for the hour drive to the surgery center, got home at 5:15. Pretty amazing. They used very light sedation so I woke right up and was on my way home less than an hour after they were done. Friends of ours brought over lasagna and salad and we had a great dinner. I'm a little sore, but if this is the worst it gets, I'm really pleased.

The Flip Side

OK, the previous post was about the joys of retired life. As with most things, there is also a flip side. During the last year I was teaching, so many people told me how lucky I was to be retiring, that they were so jealous. My standard reply got to be, "So you want to trade ages?" You can guess how many "yes" answers I got to that. The one sure thing about being retired is, you're not young any more. You might not be old, but you're sure not young.

With getting older come health issues. For me it was prostate cancer the year after I retired, gall bladder surgery the following year. An incisional hernia from the gall bladder surgery the year after that. Then a series of running related injuries. I'm not complaining. Life in retirement has been totally wonderful. The amazing thing is, it's already been ten years. 

So we come to the latest little setback. This Thursday I'm having surgery for an inguinal hernia. This is probably the most common surgery for men. If all goes well I'll be back running, cycling and golfing in no time. The golf pro at the club asked me if I was going to take up pottery while I was recovering.I told him I've got a better plan. Putting isn't too strenuous, so my plan is to carry my putter on my daily walks and stop at the practice green and finally learn how to putt. Maybe it will improve my golf game.

Life always goes back to one of my favorite mantras: It's not what happens to you that matters, it's what you do with it when it does.