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A Perfect Season

6 Nov
Dad & Champ

Dad & Champ

He’s only 7 years old. His teammates match him in age, plus or minus a year. They love their bubble gum and eye black and to proudly (and loudly) cheer for their next batter from the dugout. They range in size from tiny to tall but equal each other with their love of the game.

It was their heart, teamwork and desire to make the “awesome out or hit” that set the stage for these young baseball players to do something extraordinary.

A perfect season — 11-0. That’s not all though. They carried that through to the post season tournament where they earned their champion title, going 4-0.

I tried not to think too much of it. It’s coach pitch and fall ball, I told myself. They are playing against other small ones still learning the game, like them. But then I realized, this may never happen again. What’s to come when Nate is in kid pitch? Will he still love it like he does now? Will he meet the others in skill and be able to hold a spot on the field with them? This is something to treasure and it’s not just about all the W’s. It’s about how the boys got along and worked together. The families who united to support the coaches and the team. It was a positive, pleasant season — truly perfect.

Watching Nate and those boys out there is something I’ll never forget. Some of the plays I saw Nate pull off on that dirt made me shake my head in disbelief. There was one game this season where he dove for a grounder then quickly spun around and popped up like an older player to make a fast throw from near Second to First for an out. How did he do that?! Will he be able to do it again? And again?

I can only hope because I’m quite addicted to seeing him in his element with his teammates. Sure, all the practices and games can be a big time commitment and challenge for us, but as long as he wants to keep playing, I’ll keep following his lead. He’s led himself (and his family) this far with it and we’ve made such good friends and have had a blast.

Until next season, thanks for these memories, #26 and those wonderful Red Buccaneers.

8U Red Buccaneers | Fall 2013

8U Red Buccaneers | Fall 2013

Funny Thing Happened on the Way to 13.1

2 Nov

Running one half marathon was surprising enough to me. First of all, I can’t believe I’d set out to do it in the first place. The fact that I actually liked it and wanted to do it again is the kicker.

I did need plenty of time to make sure I was mentally and physically ready though. You know, like a year to know I was going to do that thing that requires dedication and time to training and the test to my willpower. My first half — the Savannah Rock-n-Roll — happened because Ginger made it look so fun. (That’s right. I’m totally blaming you.) I ran it and felt incredible at the end, like I had more to give. I felt like I held back on my pace because of the fear of the unknown since I hadn’t yet run a full 13.1. Training never got me to that distance. I knew that I wanted to try again as soon as I crossed that first finish line.

During the months in between those two distances, Ginger (yep, her fault again) asked if I’d be interested in a half marathon mountain trail race. We discussed how it would be different from our street miles and we should plan on taking it as easy as we could. (There was a 4-hour time limit to finish so we knew we needed to beat that at least.) It was very different so it’s tough for me to put it in my 13.1 group. I did earn those miles though — at times, painfully — so I will claim it. After that run, it was supposed to be smooth training until my second Rock-n-Roll. But then, I started seeing tempting Facebook posts for the AthHalf. Andrew was going to run in it for the third time because he loves it and Uncle Anthony said he could watch the kids so I thought, why not?

I’m so glad I did. Not only was the route and sight-seeing in Athens great, I felt strong and at 2:18 I finished 13 minutes faster than my first half. I also marked my 1,000th mile in that race. In fact, when I looked at Runkeeper after the race, my overall total said I finished on mile 1,000.

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AthHalf 2013

I’ve since added to that with my runs leading up to the Rock-n-Roll this weekend. I thought about running to beat my AthHalf time but I just want to take this one in without any pressure on myself. Maybe next year …

(Not Nearly) Afternoon Delight

2 Oct

I paid to suffer and that’s not the worst of it. I would do it again.

Let me explain.

When I first told Ginger I would enjoy a family camping weekend at FD Roosevelt State Park that ended with a 13.1 mile trail run called The North Face Endurance Challenge, I don’t think I really processed the words “endurance challenge” and the race’s location of Pine MOUNTAIN. Sure, I said. Sounds fun, I said. Because it did. I love hanging out on a run with my bud. We explore, we have great talks and we feel awesome after conquering a distance and crushing some calories.

It sounded like carefree fun all the way up until she emailed that her Achilles was hurting and a specialist told her no way to running – especially no MOUNTAIN trails. First and always, I was worried about her. I know how much she enjoys her runs. They are a part of her. How will she feel not running? I just wanted her to heal so she could run again soon. In the midst of my worry though, I began to realize – I’m not going to have my buddy with me on this frolic through the woods. She suggested maybe Andrew could come with me and run my pace. He’s also a wonderful running pal and a great motivator. Of course, he agreed so it was all set – and then it all hit my ignorance.

Pre-race Pose

Endurance

This event is called an endurance challenge for a reason. It is nothing like the trail I run at Fort Yargo. There parts of it that feel like only goats should be on it – cliff side, rock covered inches of footing. Muddy rocks that serve as bridges to get you across stream after stream. Fallen trees that block narrow paths. The roots of those trees, or possibly rocks, stole my feet from me and sent me down – hard – twice.

Rocks-n-Stuff

That rock slate IS the trail.

The first collision with the ground happened within mile one and I landed like a tree. The crash knocked the wind out of me and I had to jump off to the course for a minute to decide if I remembered what my name was. Luckily, I did and kept moving forward, only to fall again around mile five. Big props to my right shoulder for taking the brunt of that body toss. Ow. I was so proud when the first aid person at the water station asked me, “Ma’am, do you need your shoulder treated?” To me, it really showed what we were enduring. The whole-body soreness days after the event helped remind us of that too though …

Shoulder Boo-Boo

Challenge

I must have said “you’ve got to be kidding” or “this is ridiculous” or “choice cuss word” at least 10 times each mile. Once we started, the challenge was to finish. The challenge was to not lose my mind. The challenge was to not damage my skull that protects that mind. The challenge was to not stop climbing the hills and to stand tall to conquer them like Andrew kept reminding me to do. At one point toward the end, I began telling myself to keep my knees and feet up, pay attention and don’t get lazy. A lot of it was out loud. So was my rendition of “Funky Town” and Andrew’s duet of “Afternoon Delight” with me. (It was prompted by Anchorman quotes after I started saying things like “I love tree. I love plant. This trail was a bad idea.”)

The fun singing didn’t last long though because sure enough, we soon had to scale a hill.

Straight up.

Mountain

Being that this was a mountain trail, it was rare to have a nice stretch for a steady running pace. I don’t know how people finished this and more (some traveled 50 miles!) with such a fast time. They are incredible. It seemed to me that just when I would start to feel like a kid running through the forest (and I actually did at one point and shouted it out through breaths to the trees and Andrew), we would encounter an obstacle from nature. You know, like a mountain. Climbing a mountain wasn’t on my bucket list but I can go ahead and pencil it in just to draw the line through it. Dang.

See all the people at the top of the hill?

Gorgeous Mountain View from a Ledge

Elevation says wha?

Finished

13.1 miles equated to 3 hours and 33 minutes of adventure for Andrew and me. I know he could’ve finished at about 2 and a half had he ventured it at his pace. He didn’t once complain or make me feel bad. He carried my sunglasses and helped me up when I fell. He kept encouraging me with pep talks and coaching me with guidance to make it through.

“You’re doing great, lady.”
“Stand up tall to get deep breaths.”
“Slow it down some, your adrenaline is tricking you right now.”
“We’re married.” (That one came after I made a goofy pose when I saw a photographer on the course. He actually claimed me!)

I’m so grateful to him for his friendship and selflessness. He even stopped to give directions to hikers along our course. He laughed at my jokes along the way and when I asked him if I earned major cool points for my falls he replied, “Not for the falls but because you got back up and kept going.”

So, would I endure it again?

No. I would enjoy it again.

Ginger's Finish Line Photo

Ginger’s Finish Line Photo

I wasn’t sore yet.

Her Latest Happy Thing

30 Sep

It all started this summer when Nate and Nia began playing wiffle ball in our driveway. Nia became interested in the sport that she’s watched her brother play season after season.

Driveway Ball

Driveway Ball

“Can I have a softball glove?” she soon asked us. Yearnings for a bat, helmet and bat bag followed next. Before we made the purchases though – we needed to know – was she going to use all this gear to play on a softball team? Or just when we go to the field as a family to play? Without hesitation, she said yes, she wanted to be on a team.

Since we were purchasing all that gear, we told her she needed to give it at least a season. Now that the season has started, it seems the gear will be used for a few more. Softball is the new “happy thing” she tells me before falling asleep most nights. She loves it. Even after a loss or a strikeout, she happily chants the dugout cheers (even hours/days after the game) and has even started teaching them to Nate.

I’m so proud of her for trying something new that’s challenging for her. She’s doing great but this isn’t coming as easily for her like many other things have. Doing well in school hasn’t been a worry at all yet. Getting along with others is going swimmingly. She feels confident during dancing and I think she really rocks at clogging. Softball is something that’s requiring her to practice hard, overcome disappointments, and understand what it’s like to be a part of a team.

I love this for her and can’t wait to watch her growing moments on the field.

Our Ball Players

Our Ball Players

Hot Pink on the Field

Ready for a Play

What are you passionate about?

23 Aug

I was asked that question recently and I couldn’t answer it. Besides the obvious (and natural) answer of family and friends – I couldn’t think of anything else. I mean, I like a whole bunch of things but I’m not sure I really have a passion for any of them.

Some people are passionate about a cause. I don’t really have one. I’ve always been pretty wishy-washy. My heart strings are pulled over and over again but they are not tied to on any one cause.

I’m certainly not passionate about politics. Don’t get me started.

Some people are passionate about sports. I don’t play any. I run but I would not say I’m passionate about running. Most days, I whine and drag my feet before forcing myself out the door.

Books? I don’t have the awake-time for them.

I’d like to say I’m passionate about writing but I don’t do much with it. I write here and there with the hope of writing more. I just don’t have the initiative or the courage to push it too far. Passion fizzled.

I guess I just felt lacking after the question forced me to review myself because I wasn’t able to answer right away. Am I lazy? Does it mean I don’t care enough? Am I putting too much meaning on the word “passionate”?

Can you answer the question? What are you passionate about?

Diamond Dreams

5 Jul

There you sleep, barely a wrinkle in the blankets of the hotel queen bed next to ours. You are so sweet and peaceful. Hours before you had batting practice at the cages, ate four pieces of pizza and pounded that kid-sized root beer while sharing a table with your team. After dinner, you played a “who could pick up who” game and begged to hit the pool “just for a little bit” before bed. We traveled two hours for this adventure. A chance to play in the Dizzy Dean State Tournament. You are an All-Star. You are seven.

What will you remember of this trip? Could this be the one time you experience something as neat as this? You were supposed to play your first game tonight. Instead, rain delayed your fun on the field and opened up another kind of bliss. Goofing off with the guys. Cannonball contests in the pool until the sky turned dark from night instead of storm clouds. Curiosity about what the other boys are doing as we headed back to the room for bed. “Where’s Bryte staying? Are they all still awake? When will we play tomorrow?”

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I’m sure they were all like you … eyes more than ready for sleep with baseball diamond dreams in their heads. Sleep well, Barrow County 7U All-Stars. I hope this is a weekend full of special memories for you.

Sleepy baseball boy

Sleepy Baseball Boy

That Happened

7 Feb

There’s a weekend in February I cherish. It’s filled with family, friends and frolic in a city that has my heart. It all started last year when we traveled to Savannah to participate in the Tybee Run Fest.

The complete fest is five races. A 5K on Friday and then a 10K, Half Marathon, 2.8 Beach Run and Mile Run on Saturday. If you run all five events, you run a marathon. Andrew did that last year – and although he declared he would not do that again – he did. He was really ready for it this year though. He’s been on his run streak for almost a year and trained for two marathons during that time. Last year, he finished the Tybee Run Fest races and crashed. This year, he finished the races and danced.

Ready for More Running

Ready for More Running

This 5K was special to me. When I ran it in 2012, it was the first 5K I ever trained for and I wanted my past year of running to show improvement. I’m happy to share that it not only meant a better time for me (from 34:45 to 28:36) and the first time I ever ran 3 miles in under 30 minutes, but it also meant personal records for Ginger, Lee and Andrew. Team Brew/Drink/Run doesn’t mess. (And of course we enjoyed some beer after the race.) It was awesome.

Tybee Run Fest 5K

Tybee Run 5K, Part II

I still can’t believe my average was a 9:14 per mile. That’s crazy right there. I even felt so strong when I finished. My finish line photo shows me smiling and pumped. It cracks me up. I’m such a poser.

Tybee Run Fest

Finish Line Smile

The kids also enjoyed some racing fun during the Fest. Team BDR Jr. (Camille, Ellanor, Nia and Nate) took on the mile run independently. They each earned a medal and were so proud of how they ran. Andrew and Nate got to finish together in that one because they were on pace with each other. I love that.

Team BDR, Jr.

Team BDR, Jr. Ready to Start

Tybee Run Fest 5K

Andrew & Nate Finish Fast Together

Daddy & Daughter Runners

Daddy & Daughter Runners

This visit also meant another unbelievable first for me as Andrew, Ginger and I ran high above the Savannah River and across one of the most intimidating bridges I’ve ever experienced. The Talmadge Bridge is a sight to behold. Andrew and I used to sit on River Street and marvel at it as giant barges stacked with 18-wheeler trailers passed underneath it. The bridge has been the backdrop of many of our family photos. One photo of it even hangs in a matte showcase in our house from a July 4th night of fireworks on the river. I never would’ve thought that I would RUN across the thing. It was incredible and I’m so glad Ginger suggested we use it for our Sunday run route.

I still can’t believe that all happened.

Talmadge Bridge

My View from the Top

Talmadge Bridge, Savannah

On Top of the Talmadge Bridge

Running Bridge Luvahs

Running Bridge Luvahs

Bridge Running Buddies

Bridge Running Buddies

 

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