Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ICC and Things...

So what's been going on since the Graduation post; let's see...

Our 'visitor' has come and went as planned since it was only a two week placement. Until we find a youngster available for adoption who is a fit for us (and visa versa) we are helping foster kids with 'emergency placement' which in a nutshell has us as a 'holding area' until a long-term foster placement is made. Both Deb and I went into this knowing we are not a good fit for a long-term/revolving foster home and our main focus is to adopt. Folks ask are asking 'how is it?' and pretty much Deb and I's replies reflect an odd feeling in that it's a stranger living with you and you protect yourself from bonding too much because you know he'll be gone soon, but on the same hand it's so important to support and provide structure so they don't feel too isolated and alone; odd deal, but one we'll keep doing. The boy with us was a good kid in need of some structure and attention and we (the whole family) gave a good dose of that while in our home and luckily he was placed in a good long-term home. Now we wait for the next call and look through kid profiles.

So Ian had a gap of a couple weeks between baseball sessions, but has filled his time playing up with a 5th/6th grade basketball team; almost funny how small he is compared to the others. This past Monday (their last games) he scored 9 in the first game and then went off for 23 points in the second! He was on fire and probably had nearly 10 assists. He also attended the Bolivar High School camp for 3rd/4th graders and had a great time with his friends. The HS coach has asked him to attend the 6/7th grade camp next week to which he is looking forward.

Baseball kicked back up and last night they split their two games. He had a walk and a strike out in both games.

Jake took off last Tuesday with a buddy and cruised 1,432 miles being kids with no particular place to go. They started off a couple days in STL, jumped down to Memphis for ribs one afternoon, spent some time in Hot Springs, AR, hiked to Hemmed in Hollow near Ponca, made a quick trip to Eureka Springs before returning home 5 days later. He and Cody had a great trip and his prize possession was a samurai sword (full metal) found in HS, AR (hilarious, but fitting for him).

He is now activity waiting for someone to hire him as he put out tons of applications a couple weeks ago (please someone put this kid to work!).

So for the past several years Deb has wanted a storm shelter and a month or so ago she ordered one and it was installed in our garage last week (good timing, eh). I didn't think it was that big of a deal and was primarily looking for keep the ol 'if mom's happy then everyone's happy' thing going, but I have to say there is sense of peace knowing that thing is in the garage and super accessible if needed.

This past weekend Ira and I teamed up for the Indian Camp Creek (ICC) 6hr team race and earlier in the week I was really looking forward to it as I had a solid week of riding leading up and I was curious how it was to race alternating laps with a little 'breather' between. Thursday I woke up with an uneasy feeling in my belly and to keep it simple let's say things were moving thru me pretty quick; I felt horrible. Friday was the same and by Saturday I was feeling somewhat better, but just drained. After talking with Ira I figured what the heck and would give it a go, but if I would have registered as a solo I wouldn't have even thought twice and would have stayed at home in bed. Frustrating, but what can you do...

Loaded up bright and early Sunday and drove to northwest STL; easy 3:45hr drive. I still had some of the bug and wasn't feeling too good on the way up and we decided Ira would start us off and hopefully get in any extra laps if needed (race rules dictated alternating every lap). Ira and I primarily ride our mtb's in SS mode and even though the course was described with little climbing and flowy we opted to keep it SS and do what we could knowing there would be some 'hoss' teams lining up. Ran into Mark G and Jeff Y and ended up sharing a canopy with these two beasts (Mark - 6hr solo and Jeff - 3hr solo; both finished 2nd in their class). We pre-rode the lower portion of the course and it was all pretty much straight forward flow in tacky dirt (hard to ask for better conditions).

Loaded field in the 6hr Team and not a good feeling of energy level had me hoping for the best. Ira knocked out his loop while I waited and then took my turn. The lower section was fun and flowy and the 2nd half was more the same with light elevation changes thrown in. I was going ok, but had absolutely no 'zip' or 'punch' in the legs and knew I had to regulate my efforts to make it thru the 6 hrs (even only riding every other lap). Ira and I had decent first laps, but while Ira was on his 2nd run out of nowhere my stomach started hurting (that flu type nauseous type) and I started hurling! Todd Holtman, race promoter, made sure I was doing alright, while I was trying to get some fluids and substance back in me. I shouldn't have raced as I was not over the bug, but too late then. Ira hands off and I am energetically flat the whole loop and can't get things going even though my stomach is feeling much better. Ira has a tough lap 3 (while I am eating and drinking trying to still refuel) and asks if I feel like going again; why not we are here... I take off still flat, but actually feel a little better (not saying much) on the 2nd half of the loop. As I come in to exchange with Ira I tell him I am done and he says this is his last lap also and as it played out a storm moved in during his 7th loop and they called the event due to lightening at around 5:30hrs in. We sucked and got 6th out of 7 teams; nothing I could have done different, just one of those days.

Mark asked me afterwards what I thought about 'team' racing and my take (and it has no bearing on how bad I raced Sunday or having Ira as a teammate) is I don't think I really care for it. I didn't really like the time waiting and found it a bit hard to find a rhythm when I was pedaling after being off. **The below was a new thing having the ol' feet up in the middle of a race***

The drive back was pretty uneventful except for the news coming from Joplin about the tornado (tragic). Deb checked with our church and community and hopefully we can get a day over the long weekend to go down as part of a team and assist with cleanup/recovery in the Joplin area.

Up next for me is the Down and Dirty mtb race on May 5th in Warsaw then the MO State MTB Champs the following weekend in KC. I am opting for State race over Tulsa Tough as I am kind of in a mtb groove right now and liking it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Graduation: Came and Gone In a Flash

Several things to get to, but in the past couple weeks (still lazy on my posts) the biggest was Jake's high school graduation. You always hear parents say time flies and I am one to agree as it's hard to believe Jake is already done with HS and heading off to college in the fall; wow, that went fast.

I didn't realize there were so many different 'activities' taking someone thru graduation, but there are bunches:

1) Baccalaureate - kind of like pre-game; gets you in the mood for 'tassel day'
2) Making sure everyone* gets a mailed invitation. * means those who have impacted Jake's life and not just sending out to any/everyone (not a fan of that) just because
3) Awards/Scholarship Program - during the day and it goes kid by kid and details academic achievements from HS and what/to where scholarships they get. Jake was recognized on the Preparatory College Achievement, the A+ Program, National Honor Society, Magna Cum-Laude GPA (3.85-3.99), and received two scholarships (1 academic and 1 I'm not sure about) from SBU worth around $9,500 a year (nice for my wallet).
4) Senior Church Recognition Night (Saturday) where in 18 different kids had displays and tons of church folks came out
5) Senior Recognition in Sunday morning church where in he also provided a very inspirational testimony to the congregation (so proud).
and finally
6) Graduation (with after-party for family and friends)!

Jake's a level headed kid so he never got real 'amped' up for any of these, but took in all in while wearing a solid smile. It was great seeing my Grandma Smith along with my Uncle Ed and Aunt Linda at the graduation (along with the regular crew - Gma and Gpa Jones, Gma and Gpa Appleby, Mandee, Jim and Cheri and girls, and Ira - who might as well be family). After the ceremony we all headed to our office (more on that later) for some chow and cake. Speaking of the cake, Mandee works in a cake boutique in STL and they made a custom graduation cap cake for Jake which not only looked incredible, but tasted even better. She had ruined us for all other cake...

So HS is a thing of the past for Jake and while he never really got any kind of 'senior-itus' this year he is more than ready to move on to the next phase of school and life. As I type he and a buddy are out on a 'road trip' for the next 4 to 6 days with no real destination planned. I do know they were heading toward STL when they left, would like to make a pass thru Memphis for some ribs, and possibly do some hiking and goofing around in the Ponca, Arkansas area, but how long they are gone and where they go is unknown - how freaking fun is that.

On a side note: Jake got a new (to him) car for graduation and didn't even shed a tear parting with the Rodeo (imagine that).

So, on to other topics...

It took all of three days after receiving our foster license for us to get THE CALL. Turns out a young man (9yrs old) needed a temporary place to hang out until a long-term placement could be made so we are helping out for a bit with this. So far so good as he is a good kid and we are having a good time together. He loves to ride bikes so we make it a priority most days after school (lucky me). The night before graduation the little guy and I got to spend a quality night as he got a stomach bug and it was non-stop hurling 'til early morning. A super friend of Deb's was kind enough to keep an eye on him during graduation; he turned out being fine by mid-day (rough night). Although not shocked, it is interesting how so many things covered in our training are true to real life fostering. God has blessed us and we're just trying to pass that along.

Ian is got picked up on a 5th/6th grade basketball team and so far he is fitting in really well with them; even if he is only up to their armpits. Last weekend his team got 2nd in a tourney losing the championship game by 1 point with 2 seconds left - arg!!! Last night he went for 14 points and 9 points in a double-header (hitting a couple 3 pointers). He is having a blast!

Training/Racing: No racing since Waffle #1 as I skipped Waffle #2 since I wanted to spend some time riding with our new visitor. Training/riding has been super good lately with a nice mix of road and mtb'ing and the increase of intensity in prep for a solid month of June racing. Saturday during a ride with Dale and Nate Dale took the below photo of us closing in and eventually drafting off a horse and buggy (common sight northwest of Bolivar).

Weather, like in all of Missouri, has been nutty as of late and Saturday's ride I was layered up and still chilly. Glad I skipped on Tour De Grove as I heard it was miserable.

This weekend Ira and I are teaming up at the ICC 3/6hr mtb race in STL and we're doing the 6hr duo. We have no idea as to the course, but we're sticking with SS's and it should be fun.
Many more pictures and clips to come, but for now

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Waffles, Its What's for Training

Last night was the Toasty Waffle training race put on by the St. John's team (and probably A&B since they were there with support) on the Fellow's Lake loop (11miles with lumps). I did both of these last year and it's a great time to get in some fast group training with a hint of racing going on, but mostly just a getting in a good solid effort with a good group of guys.

I didn't decide to go until the last minute as I was torn between the Waffle and catching one of Ian's baseball games; he was fine with me racing so off to Fellow's Lake it was. Hooked up with David Evans (local mtb'er) and we went down together. This was his first road race (EVER) so we chatted about some basic issues on the drive down; he was way more calm than I would have been at my first one. I was trying to remember back to my first race and I think it was a mtb race in Germany, but I am not sure (many moons ago); I do know I sucked and made a vow to figure out how to get faster quickly.

Pulled up and the usual suspects were in attendance. Don't know for sure how many in the 'A' race, but guessing 20-25 (not to shabby for a Tuesday night). Ride started casual and maybe 1/3 way in the first lap (3 laps = 33 miles) it got some flow to it and it remained that way for the rest of the evening. Got in a couple breaks (going nowhere fast), made my share of pulls, and generally enjoyed the fast pedaling and how smooth the group worked together. I guess about half way thru several folks dropped and I am guessing but going into the final lap there might have been 10 or so us left. Everyone seemed to share the work in between Huff's 150 rpm sessions. Group reached the final climb up the dam hill (writing on the wall for me of course) and the 'fast kids' took off and the rest of us scrapped for what was left; I finished 6th and felt really good all night without ever being under much pressure (minus the last climb). Only one mishap as a couple guys went down after a wheel rub; both were fine, but the bikes didn't look so good...

Quick drive back with David, who enjoyed his first go of it with the 'B' group and he is looking forward to doing it again.

Waffle #2 is next Tuesday and I'll have to see if I make it as I don't want to miss too many of Ian's games.

So let's back up a couple days... Monday night Ian was back on the hardwood (basketball) as he is now 'playing up' in a local league with a combined 5th/6th grade team. It funny to watch as he is sooo much shorter than the rest, but it bothers him none and he is the primary ball handler when he's in. Ended up playing way more than sitting during the double header games without a bit of intimidation; love watching him play (and not have to coach).

Also on Monday Deb and I received our Foster Parent licensing (1 more week until we finish our Adoptive certification) so now it's sitting back and waiting for THE phone call. It's really odd in that it's like telling us Deb is pregnant without a due date (and not knowing the size of the child). We don't worry or stress over it as God has his hand over this and is in control.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tour De Tick

Yesterday (Sunday) was the Midwest Fat Tire series Tour De Tick race in Neosho, MO. I raced this as a sport rider two years ago in a downpour of rain with made the course a bit of a swamp and with the forecast all week calling for rain on Sunday I figured it would be the same for '11.

Ira and I loaded up the SS's and drove the 1:45hr (close for us) to the event and sure enough it was raining on the way and the temps never got out of the lower 50's (chilly dampness). The turnout was a bit low which is interesting as why do mtb'ers skip on nasty weather, it's a mountain bike after all and isn't it supposed to get nasty and dirty!?!?!? Must be the 'cross part of me speaking out here. Anyways, the course was a 6.8 mile loop with a mix of rocky, rooty, flowy, climbing, fire roads, and slippery corners (about everything you expect). SS class did three laps and on this wet and chilly day that was just about enough.

Race got going and Ira and I set off on a solid pace (thanks for letting me slot into the single track first) and gaped everyone else. Somewhere early on he decided to endo his bike without letting me know first so when I turned around 1/2 way through the opener lap he was gone. I set out then to see how many experts (Cat 1's) I could pull in over the next couple laps. That didn't end up being too long as I caught and passed the Cat 1 leaders 1/2 thru the second lap (please note the fast kids were either doing the marathon event or didn't show up so so this wasn't a monumental task). The rain kept coming down making the course a mudfest so I shut down the last lap a bit and made sure to keep upright with no mistakes. Mission accomplished and ended up snagging my third SS win of the year with Ira taking a solid 2nd.

Another great venue for the 29'er SS as mud and bad conditions are not an issue when you aren't shifting. Talked with teammate GLove's wife after the race and we both decided it was a great 'cross muddy course training.

Legs and fitness are solid right now even though I haven't started a serious regime of intensity; that is starting this month as June and July has a nice set of crits for which I want to prime (Tusla Tough, Tour of KC, and Tour of Lawrence).

Not sure how much racing I'll do this month as the gas prices and lack of driving partners is making me a bit more selective (notice a race 1:45 hrs is considered a 'local' close one).