The Last Piece of the Puzzle

On Sunday I ran the Rock n’ Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon.  This race was sponsored by P.F. Chang’s for many years but this year sponsorship changed to Synchrony Financial.  I only mention this because it seems that nobody around here calls the race “Rock n’ Roll Arizona” – it is called “P. F. Chang’s” … except, now it isn’t.

I have registered for this race for the past 4 years largely because they started a medal series where each year is 1 piece of a “puzzle” that forms the shape of the state of Arizona.  For years 1 and 2, every runner got these medals.  However, last year they decided to abandon this idea for everyone else and just have regular (non puzzle piece) medals.  Those that had run years #1 and #2, however, could go to a tent at the finish line and pick up their 3rd medal puzzle piece (thereby leaving with the new race medal and the puzzle piece medal).  This year was the same deal – and so those that finished all 4 years got their 4th medal after the race at a special tent.  So, here it is – all together!


The race itself was pretty brutal.  I have pretty much lost the drive to train for these long img_4756races – or any race for that matter.  I’m glad that I’m still able to finish them but my lack of training on this one really hurt, and disappointed, me.  I had a much easier time at the Vegas 1/2 because I had completed the mileage leading up to it – even though most of that was walking.  Then I took 2 months off from any serious distances.  Several weeks of that was intentional, but then the holiday busy-ness and my annual cold / sinus infection shut down any serious training attempts.  That is another reason why I’m not too interested inimg_4608 running this race again in the coming years – I always seem to get sick over the holidays and this race comes right at the tail end of that.  I’m burned out from this race course, the expo, etc. etc.  I committed to it for this medal series – which I didn’t care about the bling exactly.  I did care about the principle of sticking with my dedication to the 1/2 marathon running for my long-term weight maintenance over a long period of time (4 years!).  There are times when I feel guilty for periods of wavering commitment but I can say that I stuck with this!

I had a friend from St. Louis that had been training and wanted to run this as her first half marathon.  She was only in for the weekend but that made it fun.  I picked her up img_4614from the airport Saturday morning and we went to the expo (which was super small this year!) and then for some lunch.  We watched the NFL football games and relaxed for the race.  Sunday morning we headed down towards Tempe, parked near the airport at a park and ride lot, and took the light rail to the starting line at Arizona State University.  She had insisted we were going to run together but I convinced her to go on ahead since she was well trained and should run her best race.  Fortunately she did decide to do that.  We ran the first mile together though – which, at 11:35, was a decent mile for me after not running for so long.  She finished just over 2:30 which was awesome – especially since she stopped at the restrooms a few times along the way.  My finish time, not so great – it was a disappointing 3:15 – a whopping 45 minutes slower than my first 1/2 marathon 5 years ago.

We didn’t get to stick around the finish line festivities at Tempe Beach Park too longimg_4619 because she had to catch her flight home and I … for the 5th year in a row … had to get to a gymnastics meet!  So we walked slowly to catch the light rail, which took forever, and made it to the car.  We drove all the way back home (about 20 minutes), showered and then headed back out – dropping her at the airport and me heading to the gymnastics meet on the opposite end of town.  I will add that we went to the drive-in at In and Out for some well deserved burgers along the way!

Erin was already at the gymnastics meet and it was about 1/3 over by the time I got there.  Most of the parents were watching from the bleachers set up in the gymnastics gym area but I did not want to sit on a hard, backless bleacher so I planted myself upstairs in the viewing section up there (which are comfy theater style seats).  Gymnastics has been a big source of stress in our house lately.  Erin has struggled tremendously starting for a long time and she is not ready to compete this season.  She has spent so much time being worried about doing her tricks that she has not progressed.  Car drives home have been full of tears and I’ve tried ever angle of parenting – listening, motivating, giving advice, getting angry, bribery – you name it.  I have discussed the possibility of her ending her gymnastics career but she does not want to.  It has been hard.  But, as history has proved, it usually takes this first meet of the year – on the same day of the 1/2 marathon – for her to realize that it is now show-time and she needs to get to work and overcome her mental blocks.  She went from being scared to do her passes to working through several skills during warm-ups – probably more progress in 30 minutes than in the past weeks.  She did not place well but she completed all of her routines – which was a huge win.  We all left happy.  Practices this week have been good so far – so maybe the worst is over.  I sure hope so.  We go to Dallas in less than 2 weeks for competition.  She won’t be ready and I considered canceling the trip, but I’m looking forward to seeing Sarah at college as part of the trip so I think we’ll still go, regardless.

Oh, and – like the past 4 years, I saw Aaron at the meet.  We have a shared past on this day in history – here is that incredible story



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What’s Next…?

Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone.

The whole family was at our house for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was very relaxed with just the 5 of us.  A few days later Paul and I flew to Nashville to see Jimmy img_4458Buffett (and Huey Lewis) on New Year’s Eve with my cousins.  It was a fun weekend and I loved spending time with my cousins.  It was, however, really cold in Nashville (like 10 degrees) so it was great to be back in the Valley img_4445of the Sun!  We had a nice time with the kids all home on break.  My son is now working at a movie theater so we saw lots of movies – Star Wars, I, Tonya, The Greatest Showman.  Over the weekend the older 2 img_4547spent the entire day in the movie theater watching movies together (my son turned 17 so they were taking advantage of him being able to see Rated R movies now).  We went to an escape room one night, and made it out in record time.  We ate out … a lot.  Too much.  Today was MLK Jr. Day, and so there was no school.  We had one last trip out together for lunch and then went to an area near downtown Phoenix called Roosevelt Row and took pictures.  This was on my “list” of things I wanted to do with the kids over the break so I’m glad we got it in.  My son was not excited about it at all, but he cooperated…mostly.  There are a lot of walls with graffiti art that are really popular photo spots, so here are a few from that:

But Sarah heads back to Texas tomorrow, the other 2 went back to school last week.  It is now time to get moving on new adventures in 2018 – not just for them, but for me too.

Even though I’m not teaching this year, I still want to continue to learn img_4594-1and use my brain.  I have decided to enroll in a computer programming class at the community college nearby.  The course material is somewhat related to what I taught last year but is also new – it has a game development slant to it and should include educational and training software too.  I sure spent a lot of time last week trying to get myself enrolled – I felt like I had more than enough experience to get the pre-requisite waived (and my professor agreed) but it took a lot of visits to the campus to get all of that signed off.   I am looking forward to seeing if I enjoy it or not.  I could take classes on-line but I think I will enjoy going to class and expanding my contacts – both with classmates and with the instructor.  I have no thoughts on where this will lead me, but I’m open to starting the process.  I posted the photo of my ID on Facebook and a friend that I had been doing some running with last year posted that she had just registered for a tennis class at the same community college.  I considered getting back into tennis – even had a brief re-entry last June but messed up my knee in the first lesson.  Taking it at this college is a great solution because it is much closer than the park I was going to – and it is nearby the gymnastics gym when I need to do a pick-up after practice.  So, in addition to exercising my brain, I just might get that chance to get back into tennis as well.  I’ve also thought about looking into their fitness center on campus.  They offer weight training classes and, who knows, maybe I’ll find it to be an alternative to my current gym.

I’m looking forward to all the opportunities this new year presents.  I’m fortunate that I have some time to explore my next steps.  I’d like some new goals both physically and academically – but also emotionally and spiritually as well.

I have a few other updates but I’ll end this here tonight.  I’m also trying to get back on a regular sleep schedule and it is getting very late!


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