Monday, June 29, 2009

The heat is on

Finally, Salt Lake City has stopped feeling like Seattle. Yes, the rain has departed and the heat has arrived.

Today started early with us driving Wife to work. We had a minor car accident a couple weeks ago that was major enough to leave us without the use of our Outback, permanently (the car suffered more damage than it was worth). We're on the verge of getting a replacement but had to return the rental the insurance company paid for on Saturday. So, we're down to one car for a few days until we buy another one. After taking Wife to work, I got the boys in the stroller and went out for a walk/run.

This was the first time I had run with both boys in the stroller since I started up again. It was challenging, simply because I'm pushing 80-plus pounds, plus the stroller, in a non-flat neighborhood. I mostly walked the minor uphills and tried to stay hydrated as the heat set in. Littlest enjoyed it, and though Eldest complained of being bored, I don't think he minded it, either.

We ran an errand in the afternoon, and the drive involved the first significant air conditioning in the Corolla this year. It worked well, and on the way back we stopped to gawk at the new waterpark that opened in the suburbs. It looked like fun, but was for another time. We had planned to go swimming at the JCC in the late afternoon, with Wife meeting us after taking the light rail from downtown.

We arrived to swim in the heat but were disappointed to find out the outdoor pool was closed because of a swim meet. All the rain of the past weeks postponed this meet twice to this night, unfortunately. We swam inside and still had fun, but for not as long as we planned (the pool was chilly; Littlest's lips turned blue quickly; and honestly, some of the wind was taken out of our sails). We picked up dinner and came home.

Despite the move inside, this was a good summer day, one I've been waiting for all month. The day was hot, and we stayed cool and had fun. As long as Seattle doesn't return, today was a good blueprint for the rest of the summer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The second day of summer

(Transcribed from written pages, a couple hours later ...)

I'm sitting on a hillside at Donner Park, watching the sunset on the second day of summer. I usually visit this park on the first day of summer to watch the sunset and reflect, but there was no sunset to watch last night because it was cloudy to the west. There have hardly been any watchable sunsets this month leading into the longest day of the year -- I've already lamented about the bad weather, and more complaining will be forthcoming in another post.

I ran the Wasatch Back over the weekend and had a blast. The relay provided a great ending to an otherwise rough week. But, for now, those are topics for other posts.

Today, I did take time to reflect, not here watching the sunset, but at Eldest's soccer camp this morning. He went to this camp last year for two different weeks, at the same park as 2008. He would play soccer, while Littlest would cavort at one of the two playgrounds (one in the park, one in the adjacent school).

So we were back at 11th Avenue Park for the first time in 10 months. After Eldest started camp, Littlest and I went to the first playground, and the flood of memories, starting with the concrete bench/ledge on which I sat watching him last year, rushed back into my brain. Then the swings he couldn't resist (not baby swings, either, he did everything to hold on last year but was fine in 2009). Then the trail we walked along past the tennis courts. Then the school's playground, which partly was being replaced when we were there last year. Everything wasn't deja vu, but more a sense of "We were just here."

But we weren't just here -- we were here 10 months ago. Maybe it seemed so recent because this soccer camp was part of our routine for two weeks last summer. It just seemed so quick. And then it dawned on me -- it's not supposed to be slow. This concept is something I've known all along, but this morning at 11th Avenue Park, it was hammered home. I look back at the last year, all the joys, tears, triumphs, struggles and laughter, and wonder how we crammed it all in. And how it went so fast.

Perhaps there's no way to slow it down, as much as I wish I could. We are blessed with two wonderful boys, but they are going to grow up before we know it. Almost a year has already passed since that last soccer camp. It was almost an instant. But it was still a year. The key -- and I'm sure I've postulated this before on this blog -- is to not wast the year; to look back and say "Wow, a year went by so quickly! Wow, what a year we had."

The sun just dipped behind Antelope Island and out of my view. This is the fourth consecutive year I've come to Donner Park to watch the sunset before it starts heading southward across the sky again. The first time I came was in 2006, and reflecting about the three years since, I think about how much has changed, how much has stayed the same, how more amazing life has become, and how much more amazing I want it to be. And I hope when I come back to this hillside next summer, if I think "Wow, a year went by so quickly!", I follow it up with "Wow, what a year we had!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here and now

After months of training and anticipation, the Wasatch Back, the 188-mile relay that I'm running, is tomorrow. I can't believe it's here already.

I think of where I was running just in February, when getting to 20 minutes was a struggle, and how far I've come since. Even though the relay hasn't started, I feel like I've accomplished something; that I made a long-term commitment, worked toward it and achieved my goal. Now, can I apply that to my other long-term goals: writing, freelancing, the house, and numerous smaller goals. Sometimes the long view can seem so daunting. Training for this day seemed that way, too, at times, but I took it one run at a time. Maybe all those other goals just need some daily miles, too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The imperfect storms

Late May and early June in Utah goes something like this: We get a few cold/rainy days between Memorial Day and the first few days of June as spring makes its final stand; the temperature shoots up toward 90 once or twice; the rain never comes back; and summer is in full swing (eventually with highs staying above 90 until late August).

This time period has been different this year: about three straight weeks of rain. Temperatures haven't been too cold, but not too warm either. We've had a couple sunny hours sneak in here and there, but for the most part, it's felt like Seattle rather than a high desert in the summer.

And, it's starting to piss me off. I know I have complained about bad weather before in my posts, and I know much of the country is getting this suck-tacular weather as well. But I'm going to vent anyway.

I love the first few weeks of June heading into the solstice. I love those first trips to the pool, those warm mornings, those sunset viewings as the setting sun crawls northward day by day until the solstice, when it will start creeping back. This year: No pool trips (other than one visit to an indoor pool). Mornings have been chilly, as have been evenings. I haven't even seen the sun set in a month -- it's a week until the solstice and I'm missing out on the buildup. I won't even get into my inability to find sunny time to mow the lawn.

Yes, after years of drought, Utah needs the rain, but we're starting to see flooding. The thunderstorms aren't even worth it, because they aren't as impressive as Midwestern boomers. The forecast for the next few days: More chances of thunderstorms, with maybe a break next weekend.

Dammit, summer, we're waiting ...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The relay

Last June, Wife ran the Wasatch Back as part of a relay team. The Wasatch Back is a 36-leg, 180-mile or so race, and after it was over, her friend who organized the team asked if I wanted to do it in 2009. As a way to get back into running, knowing that commitment was out there, I said yes.

Well, almost a year later, the Wasatch Back is coming up fast -- 10 days away. And I'm happy to report, I'm mostly ready for it. And I'm really happy to report, I feel like a runner again.

I'm not a good runner by any means, and nowhere near my prime when I was a below-average high school cross country runner. Plus, I've been doing a run-walk method in which I run 4 minutes, then walk a minute -- a program that's kept me from getting too discouraged (I was always a better interval runner than endurance). But, I'm happy I'm back in some modicum of running shape, that I can go for 6-7 miles for the first time in a couple decades, and that I'm looking forward to getting out for that run as much as I can.

It hasn't been easy -- for the first 10-15 minutes of every run, it seems my body starts asking what the hell am I putting it through (but I get past that point and hit a welcomed zone). Furthermore, my knees aren't that of a 15-year-old anymore; I've been sorer than I thought I'd be. Nevertheless, I'm happy I committed to doing the relay. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The age of aquarium

With the threat of rain forecast today, I took the boys to the aquarium. Yes, Utah has a small, interesting aquarium that its organizers hope will someday become a world-class aquarium. For now, it's small and housed in an old grocery store (heavily remodeled, of course). We hadn't been to the aquarium in a couple years, and Littlest is at the age where stuff like this is fascinating too him. Maybe too fascinating -- he wouldn't stay looking at one fish for more than a few seconds and insisted on splashing to try to get the stingrays' attention (he did get to pet one). Eldest was a little mellower but had fun, and for maybe the first time, took the time to look at a lot of the fish, almost to the point that it canceled out his brother's frenetic pace.

Alas, our day at the aquarium was coming to a close when Littlest got a little crabby. The aquarium had some featured non-aquatic animals presented for an hour in a separate room, and though Eldest was interested, Littlest was a little too interested, wanting to get close to the big parrot and trying to grab the container with the giant South American scorpion. The day will come when he will get older and not be so impulsive when presented with so many fun options.

But that day doesn't have to come too soon.