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July 10, 2006

Weekend Ramblings

Nothing especially earth-shattering happened around these parts over the weekend, so I thought I’d just jot down some loose odds and ends from the past couple of days:

• It was nice to see Italy win the World Cup yesterday. As I indicated a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been a longtime fan of the Azzurri.

However, I’m also the guy who in 2006 has pulled for the UCLA basketball team, Chris Daughtry on American Idol, Terry the Navy pilot on Survivor, and the American guy going up against Kobayashi at last week’s Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Throw in the fact that I missed my goal time at April’s Big Sur Marathon by one minute (I mean...not that I’m still thinking about that), and it’s felt like a year of consecutive near-misses. So it was nice to see somebody for whom I was rooting finally be able to seal the deal.

Plus, I don't remember the last "Whoa!" moment in a game quite like when Zidane completely lost his mind and leveled the Italian dude. I don't care what the sport is - anything that makes you jump out of your chair and think, "Did that really just happen?" makes for pretty riveting television. Instead of Brent Musberger, we almost needed Jerry Springer to close the broadcast with a final thought. Who says soccer isn't exciting?

• My 7-year-old son had his first-ever swim meet on Saturday. This is his first summer on the swim team, and he just started learning the breaststroke and butterfly about two weeks ago.

At the meet, he was entered in the 25-yard free, the 50 free, the 25 back, and 25 fly. The last event led to the following two separate exchanges...

Conversation 1: Between my son and me, after he finished his warmup and sat next to me wrapped in a towel:

Son: So what events am I racing today?

Me: 50 free, 25 free, 25 back, 25 fly.

Son: Oh...(long pause)...Dad?

Me: What?

Son: What’s the fly again?

Conversation 2: Between our team’s assistant coach and my wife, as our son was lining up on the block for the 25 fly:

Asst Coach: So, um…how did he end up in this event?

My wife: The coach asked if he’d do it, and he said yes.

Asst Coach: Oh...OK then.

Needless to say, our expectations for the butterfly race weren’t exactly soaring. Yet my son dove right in and somehow managed to splash his way through 25 yards. And despite the relative difficulty – or maybe because of it – it turned out to be the most memorable part of his day.

He had a brief near-panic episode about 30 minutes prior to the race, fearful that he wouldn’t be able to do the stroke the right way or wouldn’t be able to finish. But his mother and I (OK...mostly his mother) talked him through it, and he found that he was capable of more than he thought.

It’s one of the reasons that I’m glad he’s doing the swim team thing this summer. I don’t really expect him to be a competitive racer, and I don’t anticipate that he’ll ever master the butterfly. But sports provide so many opportunities for small lessons and have such enormous potential to improve someone’s self-esteem, that I think it would be sad to completely miss out on those experiences.

Plus, I’ve already taught him to bike and run, so...um, on second thought, never mind. Let’s just leave it with me being proud of him.

• Finally, on the running front: remember the 4-mile tempo run workout I wrote about last week, and the way I was anguishing about running my slowest time of the year? Well, I did the same workout this morning, and ran it more than 20 seconds faster than last week.

So I guess it’s possible that I over-exaggerated my plight a bit. It’s a good reminder of how the vast majority of what I write here frequently ends up being meaningless. But you probably knew that already.

I’ll try to keep the whining to a minimum from now on. Because although I’m still slower than I’d like to be, I’m improving. And that should always be a reason for optimism.


backofpack 7/10/06, 10:12 AM  

Hey, we ran into our newly minted Ironman buddy at Starbucks on Saturday. First time we'd seen him since Cd'A. He said he panicked in the water - he was getting pushed down as people swam over him (he had told us previous to the race that the open swim freaked him out). He swam to one of the kayakers and said he wanted out. The kayaker talked him through it - told him to calm down, look behind him at how few swimmers would be coming up, encouraging him to keep going, so he decided to do it. His first swim lap was 1:10, his second 31 minutes! See, even at 49, you get those little lessons. (On another note, this was his very first tri of any type and he finished in 13-something. He's nuts!)

Robb 7/10/06, 11:22 AM  

Hey Donald, it's really great that your son did the swim. It sure builds confidence in the little guys that they carry with them for a long long time. My two oldest did a mini-tri last weekend and it worked wonders. Sports is the sooo good for kids. I've got two off to basketball camp this week.

angie's pink fuzzy 7/10/06, 12:48 PM  

your posts on the soccor cup almost make me wish for cable. sounds exciting!

Quizman 7/10/06, 1:25 PM  

Nice post.

I'm thinking of enrolling my 1 year old into the waterbabies program here in the South Bay for the very same reasons that you've indicated in your post.

Juls 7/10/06, 8:54 PM  

Boy the part about your son brings back memories. I still remember the year when I had to do 50 fly and I wasn't good at all. The other team didn't have anyone else who could do it so they made me do it. I was like a drowned rat. I didn't sign up for swim team the next year. That was too bad for me.

YaYa 7/10/06, 8:55 PM  

I like to swim too. Tell you son "good job"

craig 7/10/06, 11:10 PM  

I missed the whole sports thing growing up and regret that I didn't learn some of the lessons they can teach. I did other things and learned other lessons but appreciate more now what I missed.

Read your Sanctuary post. Must be great to have a place like that for your playground.

jeanne 7/11/06, 7:45 AM  

re: your tempo run: what was that you were just saying about sports providing many opportunities for small lessons?
nice swimming!
(zidane!! omg! what a jackass!! :)

olga 7/11/06, 9:05 AM  

Our older son was in a swim team back in NYC when he was 10. It was so great! Although I don't like water at all, I do think it's the best sport - overall fitness and no injuries:)

Mike 7/11/06, 11:36 PM  

Donald..great you got the lil guy on swim team...I really wish I would've been pushed that way as a kid..not that your pushing of course...

your soccer comments are great..that Jerry springer line had me rolling!

Cliff 7/12/06, 10:29 AM  

Yeah...i am with Mike about jerry springer bit..oh hilarious. Too bad i had a race that day and can't watch a game. Never expect so much drama in soccer. :)

Are u consciously (or unconsciously) grooming your kid into tri??

I do love the way how sport makes u deal with your emotions. What your son gone through is the same emotion we all gone through before a race.

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