Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for November, 2006

Thanksgiving with the Toones

23rd November 2006

The Toone Thanksgiving Table.

Today’s been a nice relaxing day of celebrating this Day of Thanks with the Toone family. Brian got a short bike ride in this morning, while I cooked and Analise watched the Macy’s parade.  I made a tasty cheesy green bean casserole, scalloped corn, and instead of my traditional apple pie, I made a cheesecake from scratch. Homemade apple pie has been my treat to make – and eat – since my first Thanksgiving in Nicaragua 5 years ago, learning from the lovely Lori Thompson. I love making pie crust from scratch and creating a beautiful delicious pie, courtesy of Betty Crocker’s recipe. And I had been looking forward to it this year, but I stumbled across a cheesecake recipe, and just wanted to try something new. I feel like I’m failing my tradition! Maybe I’ll still make a pie later this weekend;)

Anyway, the cheesecake turned out pretty well. The recipe is from Allrecipes – Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. It was pretty easy, actually. I even baked it in a water bath, and it ended up without cracks. I topped it with melted chocolate chips, just because it looked a little boring. It’s a dense cheesecake, and I I think I might have overwhipped the filling. But it still tasted pretty good. I feel good enough about it that I’ll be more than willing to try other cheesecake recipes. And I don’t think anyone missed the apple pie today.

I also had decided that Analise and I were going to make leaf cookies with our fall cookie cutters (from premade dough sheets). Then I got a fun idea to make a family tree with our leaves. It turned out nice – and tasty!

Josiah relaxing in his swing during dinner, before he decided he wanted to be up at the table.

So we had a relaxing meal, and then the guys helped get the Christmas decorations down from the attic. Analise didn’t get an afternoon nap, beccause she was too busy playing while everyone was working (and I was keeping Josiah happy), so she was overtired tonight. I’m getting the house put back together… well, mostly the kitchen. I’m looking forward to getting some Christmas decorations out and setting up our tree this weekend. Last year I was too tired being early pregnant, and so we just put up the mini-tree. This year, though, I’m excited to set up a real sized tree, in our real formal living room.

Josiah’s looking more like Uncle Matthew every day! Josiah’s definitely chubbier, though:)

Enjoy the photos! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We’re thankful for all of you!

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Gatlinburg Recap

23rd November 2006

View from the Space Needle in Gatlinburg looking east at frost-covered Mt. Leconte, Elevation 6593′

We left Birmingham much later than we expected as Brian worked to get his presentation ready.  We picked up dinner at Sonic on our way out of town, and finally got on the road at about 7pm.  It was a longer drive than we expected, and we finally, thankfully, pulled into our hotel at 1:30am Friday morning.  Before we left, Brian had been telling Analise that we might see snow because the night’s forecast was to be cold with a chance of flurries.  She talked about it off and on all the way there.  And after sleeping soundly for several hours, she woke up in the hotel parking lot, asking where the snow was and when could she build a snowman.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t snow outside, so we hoped we’d find some later in the trip. 

Another view from the Space Needle looking below at downtown Gatlinburg

We drove through Pigeon Forge, TN just before arriving in Gatlinburg.  This is home to Dollywood, sort of a theme park with shows.  Pigeon Forge is full of attractions and shopping, a definite tourist trap.  At 1am, the Christmas lights were blazing as bright as day, and it felt like you were driving down the Strip in Las Vegas.  Gatlinburg, though, is much more of a mountain town, set at the base of the Smoky Mountains in the valley.  It’s a beautiful setting.  Our hotel was on a beautiful mountain stream, which caused Analise to declare that we needed a boat. Brian worked all night to finish his presentation and slipped out for a bike ride in the mountains in the early morning.  He’ll tell you about that later in this blog.  Josiah, Analise, and I woke up at 8 as Brian was heading out the door to the conference.  Our hotel room was on the 3rd floor, with an outside entrance.  We had to bundle up to go to the hotel restaurant.  It was worth it, though, for an all-you-can eat buffet for $5, with homemade waffles and omlettes.  After breakfast, I took the kids out for a walk, and we found the bridge over the stream catching a glimpse of the mountains above us.


Bundled up leaving our hotel room

View outside our hotel room of the rushing stream

Brian gave his presentation in the morning, ate lunch with his colleagues and then ducked out early to get caught up on sleep. After napping, we all went for a walk downtown to explore and eat dinner. We found the space needle and paid a small fortune to ride the elevator up 25 stories to see the incredible view. One interesting note on our walk through town is that there apparently was a large Christian youth conference going on as groups of kids stood outside a convention center and shouting "Jesus" cheers — "We love Jesus, yes we do, we love Jesus how ’bout you?" Then another group would respond (louder) and shout the same thing.

[Brian interlude — On the one hand, that’s kinda cool, but on the other hand how many kids are even thinking of Jesus as they scream that at the top of their lungs.]

After dinner, we caught the local trolley and rode it around town for just 50 cents each and saw all the Christmas lights in Gatlinburg. Then it was back to the hotel for a promised swim with Analise in the Smoky Mountain’s largest indoor swimming pool (according to the hotel brochure) complete with two levels connected by a waterfall, built-in hottub, and stepping stones. Even though the water was quite warm, we froze getting to and from our room. Analise and Brian were both shivering.

Two picture sequence of the snowball-in-the-eye incident

The next morning, Brian got up really early and went for another bike ride (see story below) and we slept in. When he got back, we headed down for the all you can eat breakfast. Brian was excited about the snow he saw in the mountains, and so after breakfast we checked out and drove up high into the Smokies where Analise finally got to build her "big snowman" and throw a "big snowball". Brian had been encouraging her to throw the snowball at me all morning, so he helped her make a snowball, but as Analise took aim at me and threw it straight up in the air hitting Brian in the eye. That’s what he gets for trying to turn his daughter against her momma. They then put together a not-so-big snowman. After playing in the snow, we finished our drive to the top of the pass to the NC/TN border at 5048 feet. The view was absolutely amazing!

Can you find Analise’s "big snowman"?

Then it was time to go … we decided to break up the 5 hour drive home into two parts by stopping in Chattanooga to visit the Tennessee Aquarium. Unfortunately they had discontinued the "educators-get-in-free and the rest of the party is half-price" program so we weren’t about to pay $22.95 per person for the remaining hour and a half that the aquarium was going to be open. The other distraction on the drive home was the "See Ruby Falls" and "See Rock City" signs. This is game to try to be the first to try and find the signs for the major tourist attractions, Rock City and Ruby Falls in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.  These signs can be painted on top of a barn or on billboards in a clearing around a bend tucked within trees. Brian and I are quite competitive and the final score was 15 to 14.5 going into Chattanooga.  We declared the game over as we came into the city limits so he could focus on driving and not endanger our lives, with Brian winning.  We sort of continued – non-competitively, of course, as we drove through Chattanooga, and I was definitely the winner by the time we passed the exit for the attractions.  Of course, Brian is really the winner… at least this time.

And now it’s time for Brian to report on his biking adventures.

Hello, and welcome to biking with Brian. I went biking Friday morning after a sleepless night Thursday night driving into Gatlinburg from Alabama and then getting ready for my presentation. This bike ride turned into a ride of four progressions — time, elevation, temperature, and precipitation. I’ll recount the story as a timeline keeping in mind that my conference was set to begin at 8AM with the Welcome followed by the keynote speaker at 8:15AM.

  6:15AM – I finish preparing and practicing for my presentation, so I head back to the room to eat, get warm, and get dressed for the ride.

  6:30AM – I leave for the ride with bike light in hand while it is misting outside with a temperature of 39 degrees.

  6:35AM – By now, I’ve made it outside the city limits and into the Great Smoky Mountains national park. The road starts to climb gently and I see a couple signs that say "Watch for Ice". With a temperature of 39 degrees, I’m not too worried about ice.

  6:40AM – I’ve been "gently climbing" for 5 minutes and I have started to warm up with the exercise.

  6:45AM – Still climbing and I’ve been passed by a few cars. It’s no longer pitch black outside, but the temperature has fallen to 37 degrees.

  6:50AM – As it gets lighter, I can see the river below and to my left that the road has been following. From the rain that morning and night before, there are literally hundreds of waterfalls and small streams going through the forest. The lighting is full of contrasts. The water and the sky are both white, while the broad-leafed forest itself are almost completely brown/grey with all the trees having lost their leaves. The road itself is a different shade of gray, and that is pretty much all the color to be seen. This makes the small streams and waterfalls alongside the road stand out brilliantly compared to the gray around them. I think to myself as I am riding how this is a much different beauty than what I have been expecting to see.

  6:55AM – I am still climbing and begin to think that I can see the top of the pass up ahead. By this point, I have been climbing longer than it takes to climb any of the hills in Birmingham, but the climb is not as steep as those climbs so I’m not sure how high up I’ve come or how much farther there is to go. By now the temperature has dropped to 36 degrees and continues to hold there for the next 10 minutes.

  7:00AM – I make it to what I think is the top of the pass and realize that it’s just a pass between two smaller mountains and that the road continues to climb much higher. It’s much lighter now, too, and I can see that the mountains above me are covered in fog.

  7:10AM – Still climbing and I pass through a tunnel thinking again that I am nearing the top. On the other side of the tunnel I realize that there is still more to go. The temperature has dropped to 34 but I feel quite warm from all the climbing. By this point, I notice a distinct line where the trees that had been behind the fog were covered in frost or snow. This line is still quite a ways above me so I don’t think much of it.

  7:20AM – I make it to the freezing fog line as I notice the trees beside me are covered in frost. I also notice that the road has gotten less wet and that there is hardly any spray coming from my wheels from off the road. The temperature had been at 34 for a little while, but has now dropped to 32. The climb has gotten a little steeper at this point as well. I notice another progression as I continue to climb — from frost on the trees, to dusting of snow on the grass next to the road, to a dusting of snow on the guardrail, to snow on the side of the road and about 1/2 inch of snow on cars parked overnight in some of the pulloff areas.

  7:25AM – The temperature has dropped to 30 and I again think that I must be very close to the top. I realize now that I must turn around soon or I am going to be late for my conference even accounting for the fact that I can descend back down the same route at about 4 times the speed that I was climbing it. Then it happens

  7:30AMThe transition to ice happens very suddenly … For about the 5th time I am convinced that around the next corner is the top of the climb and by this point it is a winter wonderland with trees covered in white, 1/4 – 1/2 inch snow on ground, and a little bit on the road shoulders. I am going around a corner at about 10mph still climbing and the corner is banked slightly towards the river. My rear wheel starts to slide down the road in the direction of the river. I know immediately that it is ice, and for some reason it is extremely frightening to me. Even though I am convinced that I could actually see the top this time, I know that I have to turn around. I know that I have pushed it a little too far. By this point the road is extremely slippery. My brakes are not working well, and I am sliding whichever way the road slopes. Three times I purposely slide off the road into the small snow bank to scrub speed and stop. I can’t believe I don’t fall. I finally figure out that I can ride through the gravel and snow on the side of the road with one foot "hopping" in the snow every 15 feet or so. This lasts close to a mile so I think to myself that the road must be literally freezing underneath me as I am biking. In fact, I am very worried that the temp has been dropping behind me in the valley, too, and that I am going to have to ride like this all the way back into Gatlinburg. After about a mile, however, the temp jumps back up to 32 and I notice that the roads are getting wet again.

  7:45AM – I need to get back to the hotel — fast, but I am still worried about ice in the corners, over bridges, etc.. I am able to get my speed up above 20mph with 15mph in the corners.

  7:50AM – As I descend and the roads become significantly wetter, I am more comfortable and get my speed up to 30 mph. By this time I am starting to get VERY cold. I begin to shake uncontrollably at times. I am afraid of losing control simply from shaking. These are large shakes that wobble my handlebars. I figure out a trick that works very well to help with the shaking. When I notice that I am starting to shake, I hold on tight for a second and then as soon as it passes, I let go of the handlebar with one hand and start to shake that hand and my whole arm as violently as I can while still maintaining control of the bike. This quickly brings blood flow into my upper body. Afterwards, I am convinced that without doing this, I would have had to stop or would have simply lost control and fallen.

  7:55AM – By now I am almost all the way back down and the temp went from 37 to 39 fairly quickly. From the wind chill and spray, I have a small ice mustache. My hands stay surprisingly warm the entire time (maybe from the shaking — both voluntary and involuntary — and from my death grip on the handlebars). My feet on the otherhand are frozen. They feel as bad as some of the winter rides I’ve done up north in subzero temps. Towards the entrance of the park, I come across and startle a large male turkey (tale plume fluttering wildly as it runs off) and then a short distance later I come across 6-7 smaller female turkeys crossing the road heading up into the woods. Quite a Thanksgiving treat!

  8AM – I make it back into town and scramble back to the room to change and get ready for the conference. By 8:15 I am down in the largeconference hall listening to the keynote speaker. Mission accomplished!

For my bike ride on Saturday, I head back up the same route in clear, sunny (but very cold) weather. The roads were completely dry and I am able to make it all the way up to the top of the pass, elevation 5048′. Many of the pictures in this blog post are from the ride on Saturday. I didn’t have my camera with me on my Friday morning ride. I am already looking forward to next year!

You can see why these are called the "Blue Ridge" mountains!

Elevation 5048′ at the state line. This was the turnaround point for my ride on Saturday morning.

Click here to open a map (pdf) of this ride in a new window.

Climbing up to the Snow (wmv ~ 4.5MB)   Winter Wonderland (wmv ~ 1.5MB)
Watch a couple movies from my bike ride Saturday morning.

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Is this really supposed to happen in Alabama?

20th November 2006

I had just scooped 2 nice sized scoops of Edy’s Espresso Chip ice cream into my bowl. Of course there was some residual ice cream on the metal scooper. So I went to lick it off… and my lip stuck to the outside of the scoop. Yep, I pulled it off and yep, my lip is raw and missing small patches of skin. It sounds worse than it is, but it’s ANNOYING and sore. Brian laughed and chastised me. He reminded me of the movie A Christmas Story and the little boy getting his tongue stuck on the cold flag pole. And yes, I do remember one of my sisters (won’t mention which one) doing something similar outside our house in Wisconsin. But an ice cream scoop? And in Alabama? Who’d have thought?!?

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Potty Training Boot Camp

20th November 2006

Yes, we are alive here in Toone-land.  Sorry you’ve not heard from us!  We made it to Gatlinburg (a whole post in and of itself, coming soon), and though our hotel had wi-fi, Brian had the laptop with him at the conference for part of the time, and the other part of the time, I found that our room was too far from the main part of the hotel to get the signal.  GRR.  But we had a good trip, and after a LONG car ride, we got back Saturday night. Above is one of the few "people" pictures from the trip – Analise and I at the top of the Space Needle ($6.75/person elevevator ride up a 25 story tower in the center of town) with the mountains in the background.

Then it was a busy day at church on Sunday morning, as I was in charge of the nursery and we were teaching in Analise’s classroom.  After that, we had a busy afternoon getting ready to have 6 friends over for an Ironman wrap-up dinner.  I made mexican shredded chicken for tacos, queso dip, homemade sangria (recipe from (yum!), and a brownie trifle (recipe from Betty Crocker).  Great company, great food, fun stories about the race.  All in all, a great evening!

I’ve forgotten to mention that we’re in Potty Training Boot Camp.  Brian’s mom got Analise started pottying when we were in Florida for the triathlon, and she’s doing really well.  It’s a wonderful relief to be washing less diapers, but it’s still a time committment to get her there and get the job done.  Josiah’s getting the short end of the stick… so we moved his Bumbo seat into the bathroom so he doesn’t get left sitting (or rolling or swinging) in the family room.  Analise is doing pretty well, and hopefully, we’ll be into "big-girl underwear" (with Dora, the Backyardigans and Elmo on them!) later this week.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture from earlier this month, on the day of our family pictures.  I can’t believe how Josiah is so big!  She definitely can’t hold him on her lap anymore!

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Running in circles

15th November 2006

I just got an email from a sweet friend of mine (by the way, I’ve gotten several emails from sweet friends this week – THANK YOU ALL!!).  And she said she likes keeping up with us through this blog.  She said it sounds like I truly enjoy being a mother.  Here’s part of my rambling reply to her, since it sums up my feelings and the day:

Yes – I do love being a mother.  Honestly, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Exhausting.  Overwhelming.  But so sweet and awesome to look at these little ones and know that they are mine to raise, specially when I’m seeing such sweet moments of Analise learning about God and Jesus.  I love to hear her singing "In the secret, in the quiet place… I want to know you, more." 

Other days, though, like today, it sure would be easier to be heading off to work and letting someone else do the hard work of potty training and cleaning up and putting down for naps and cleaning up and potty training and dealing with mini tantrums and cleaning up and more potty training.  Haha… that literally is how my day went, ‘with a few bits of folding laundry and rocking a non-napping baby boy in there (who’s darn cute when he’s tired and wants to sleep but also wants to smile at you and make baby indian noises with his pacifier). 

But it ended with reading Analise books, finishing up with Sandra Boynton’s Snuggle Puppy.  It ends with "Snuggle puppy, I LOVE YOU! *kiss*".  And I kissed her. 
And she said, "You love me." 
"I love you," I said. 
"And I love you," she said. 
Sweet words – and quite excellent use of pronouns:)

I’m rambling.  We’re leaving for Gatlinburg, TN tomorrow afternoon as Brian has a conference to present at.  I haven’t even started packing yet, but the laundry is clean and put away, so i do have a good starting point… when the kids wake up and I can get to the dressers!  I’ve got 3 days of Beth Moore’s Daniel to do before my Bible Study tomorrow.  Hopefully, between Bible study and picking Analise up from school – which leads straight to nap time – I’ll get an hour to run to the mall to exchange a pair of jeans, and pick up bagels to munch on during our road trip.  If we’re on the road by 3:30 (for the 4-hour not-counting-kid-stops), it’ll be amazing.  We’ve never been to Gatlinburg before though.  There’s a chance of snow in the evenings!  It’s up in the Smokey Mountains, so it should be fun.  As fun as traveling with 2 small kids can be!  I’ll tell y’all all about it…

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My mom moment of the day

14th November 2006

We just moved Josiah into his new big-boy car seat, the Britax Decathlon.  (Expensive, but our one *must-have* item for the safety of our kids… oh, and I got a little bit more of a "deal" on it.)  Anyway, the transition has been a story of it’s own.  But because he can’t sit up by himself just yet, we’re keeping the infant carrier carseat in the trunk.  So today at the grocery store, he rode in it.  When we got to the car, I set it down beside the car, loaded Josiah into the big carseat.  The grocery store guy was still finishing up loading my groceries into the trunk.  I thanked him and got into the car and drove away.  Got home and realized I’d left the carrier seat in the parking lot!  I called Brian laughing at myself, and of course, his first question was, "Josiah made it into the car, didn’t he?".  So I had to drive all the way back to Publix to get it.  So much for my morning of free time! 

Here are a couple Analise moments I jotted down in the past week or so.

Overheard in the baby monitor
Josiah was sleeping in my room while I was making a cake in the kitchen.  When I heard him waking up in the baby monitor, I sent Analise in to talk to him until I could finish.  This is what I heard:

Analise: He’s awake!
[crying ceases, as I’m sure Josiah was pleased to see her face]
Analise: He had a good nap.  He’s so cute!  It’s my baby brother!
Don’t cry, ‘Siah.  Mommy’s making dinner.  Mommy’s making cake.  It’s ok.  Mommy’s coming. 
[yelling] Mommy!  Mommy!
Mommy’s coming, ‘Siah. 
[yelling] Mommy!

Already looking out for her baby brother
During our weekend in Florida, the friends staying with us had a 10 month old.  He was crawling around, exploring, playing with Analise and Josiah’s toys.  Josiah spent most of his time rolling back and forth on a sheet watching the two bigger ones play.  At one point, though, Bryant crawled over to "play" with Josiah, and reached out and poked him in the face.  Josiah was startled and started crying loudly.  Analise starting crying, too, saying, "My baby brother!"  She’s already looking out for him. 

Singing in circles
Analise has created her own versions of the infamous "Song That Never Ends". 

The itsy-bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout…Down came the rain…

(The same can be done with "Twinkle, twinkle".)

On becoming beautiful

I got my hair cut last 2 weeks ago (see the family pictures here).  My usual hair is curly, and easy to wear as it air dries nicely.  It takes about 5 minutes to towel dry and look fine.  This new cut, though, takes a bit of time.  All my permed curls are grown out, and it’s short, above my shoulders.  My stick straight hair doesn’t have much volume, so it really needs to be blow-dried, and because I’m not so good at blow-drying, it kind of needs to be smoothed under or out with a curling iron.  At least 20 minutes of work. 
Yesterday as I was blow-drying, Analise was playing in her room.  I turned off the drier to find her standing outside the bathroom watching me.  When I turned around with my slightly frizzy hair to talk to her, she said in her sweet voice, "You’re so beautiful."  I almost cried.  Nothing like knowing your daughter thinks you’re beautiful. 

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Watch me finish!

8th November 2006

The video of me crossing the finish line holding Analise is available online now. The announcer ends up saying my name twice — once when a whole bunch of people are crossing the line, and then a minute or so later when I came across the line carrying Analise. You have to look quick though, because I’m really flying ;-). (just kidding).

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From the mouth of the Ironman

6th November 2006

During our date night tonight, I interviewed Brian about his Ironman experience.  Here’s the transcript!

Why did you decide to do an Ironman triathlon?
I met this guy (you know who you are…), and he said it was such an awesome experience.  As he described it, I got really excited about it and wanted to do it myself.  For the record, this guy has done 3 Ironmans. 

What were you thinking on the start line?
I didn’t know what to expect.  I was very cold standing on the beach.  But I was thinking more about all those people (2200) in front of me blocking my view of the ocean.  I couldn’t even see the pros start.  But I did see them having to jump over the waves after they got out into the water a ways.  The water had been much calmer when we swam on Friday.  And I said to Ben, "This is not going to be like yesterday."

What was the swim like?
The cannon went off, the mass of people moved towards the water like cattle.  The water was much warmer than the air and I made it over the first waves without problem.  You could just jump over them or stand on the sand bar and they’d crash below you.  The sandbar (making it about 3 feet deep) went out a ways so everyone was just running through the water for that distance.  When we finally started to swim, there were so many people right in front of you you couldn’t really swim, so I just doggy-paddled. 

Tell me more about the swim.  What were the waves like when you were farther out?

The waves were coming from the side, which made for very interesting swimming once we could actually swim.  Sometimes you would lift your head up just a fraction and your head would already be out of the water because the wave had gone out from underneath you.  Other times you would lift your head up expecting to breath and instead you’d still be under the water and you’d take a big mouthful of salt water.  Even on the way out during the first lap, i was feeling somewhat nauseated and feeling like I could easily get disoriented.  You could feel yourself ride up and over the waves.  When we made it out to the turn around buoy, there was a huge backlog of people trying to make the turn because the turn was directly into the sun and directly into the waves, and it was hard to get started again. 

What was it like swmiming with that many people? 
Very frustrating.  Even when things started to spread out a little bit, you would catch a group or someone and I wasn’t sure even how to go around people.  Other times, you’d be swimming and someone would grab your foot and the next thing you know, they’d be swimming over your back or your leg.  You feel bad about kicking, so you have to stop and let them go.  Then you’re frustrated when they slow you down.  It’s also frustrating to be concentrating yourself on not running into people but to continually have people swimming into you. 

How did it feel to come out of the water finishing the first lap and have to go back in? 

I was relieved to have made it through one lap.  And I had to stop for water to try to get the salt taste out of my mouth.  I had to wait in line for water.  But I was ready to get back in, expecting it to go a lot better the second lap.  It wasn’t much better though.  Still having to wait on people, and getting swam into by people.  I got stung by a jellyfish on the top of my foot shortly after starting the second lap.  I saw 2 others (very pretty!) swimming a few feet below the surface. 
The hardest part about the 2nd lap was that we were a little more spread out so you couldn’t just rely on the mass of people to know which direction to go.  This meant you had to look up and see the buoys regularly.  I would look up and each buoy seemed so far away.  But then you’d swim just a little bit, and it would seem a lot closer.  After passing one buoy, though, you’d look up and see the next one and it seemed so far away again.  With 10 buoys to pass, it was disheartening.  I did wonder if I could actually make it. 

What did it feel like to get stung by a jellyfish? 
Like a little bee sting on the top of my foot. 

Did you see any sharks?
No, but I did see a school of fish at the end of the 2nd lap. 

How did you feel after the swim? 
Extremely glad it was over.  But I didn’t have much time to be relieved because within 100 feet of getting out of the water, there were hundreds of volunteers lined up to strip off your wetsuit.  I had to lay flat on my back for two of the volunteers to pull it off of me.   I started to cramp up and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get up. 

Was it cold out of the water? 
No, not yet.  Right after they took the wetsuit off, I had nothing on but my swim shorts and I was holding a cold wetsuit as I started to run up the beach.  Then I ran through a shower area to rinse the sand off.  This was immediately followed by a breezeway in the shade between 2 buildings with a tremendous wind blowing.  That’s where I got really cold. 

By the time I got my transition bag with my bike clothes and made it into the tent, I was shaking uncontrollably.  I couldn’t open my bag.  One of the other racers took pity on my and said, "Let me do it for you."  Even once it was open, there were so many people and it was so wet.  You’re trying desperately to keep your dry clothes dry.  I got my shorts and jersy on and ran out of the tent barefoot because i didn’t want to get my socks wet.  I ran all the way to my bike barefoot, still with a lot of sand on my feet.  Volunteers were ready to hand me my bike, while I tried to get the sand off my feet and get my socks and shoes on. 

Did you ever get all the sand off your feet?

Not until halfway through the run,at which point I changed into a dry pair of socks from my special needs bag that was waiting just after the halfway point. 

How was the bike? 

Was it the highlight of your Ironman experience?

Anything else you’d care to share?
I passed a lot of people, that was very motivating.  I tried to spin pretty fast, especially into the headwind, which was about a 40 mile stretch of the course.  I knew if I could just make it to the point where the course turns back toward the start/finish, there would be a good tailwind.  I believe I averaged between 25 and 28mph for a stretch of about 20 miles. 

How did it feel to get off the bike and know you had a marathon ahead of you?
I wanted to get back on the bike and ride those measly 26.2 miles in about an hour.  I knew that it was going to be painful

What were some of your thoughts during the marathon?
I wasn’t sure where exactly the mile markers were.  We were told that the aid stations were at the mile markers.  So when I reached the first aid station, I thought I had done the first mile pretty quickly and easily.  When I reached the 2nd aid station, still without having seen any mile markers, I thought maybe this was mile 2 and this marathon was passing really quickly.  After running for what seemed like a few more minutes, I could see what looked like a mile marker, and I thought perhaps that was mile 3.  But as I got closer, I realized it was mile number 1, and I think I started to cry.  I was fighting back tears at different points throughout the whole day. 

Did the marathon get any better?

Nope, not really.  I could not believe how long each mile seemed. 

What did you eat all day?  That’s a lot of physical activity without stopping for lunch. 

I ate maybe 3 Powerbars, 2 Powergels, at least 10 Gu gels (though 1 or 2 leaked onto me and the bike and my jersey pocket), bananas, pretzels, chicken broth (during the run).  I drank a lot of Gatorade, coke and water throughout the day.

What did you think about all day?
All different things.  I was just trying to survive the swim.  I thought about my family and everyone cheering me on.  I thought alot about the other racers and their families cheering them on.  There were people all over the course with signs for their racer.  I ran behind a guy for probably 5 miles, and during that time, I was so focused on trying to keep up with him.  I also lost my sunglasses during a transition, so I had my eyes almost closed during the run, just looking at this guys jersey, which had the Ironman Florida logo on it. 

On the first lap of the run, I was still thinking I could maybe break 11 hours.  But by the start of the 2nd lap (just over 13 miles), I knew that I couldn’t keep that pace up so there was no hope of making my original time goal.  But I was ok with that.  I quickly realized even finishing was going to be a huge effort.  I knew I was going to be able to finish, and I was very happy with the thought of just making it to the finish line. I was able to keep running all the way until just past where Kristine and my parents were cheering in between mile 13 and 14. After that, I started to shuffle pretty slowly. Then by the aid station at mile 15, I knew that I was going to have to walk for a long time. I walked for the next 10 miles. It wasn’t until someone ran up behind me just before mile 25 and decided to walk with me that I found out that it was possible I could still break 12 hours. I didn’t have a watch on and there were no clocks on the course except for the start/finish area. It was dark by this point, and it seemed like the sun had set hours ago.  This guy who came up behind me told me that it was only 6:39PM, so I had 21 minutes to make it to the finish line to break 12 hours.  This motivated me enough to break into a slow trot, which I was able to maintain all the way to the finish. 

What was it like to finish?

It was incredible to run through all the crowds of cheering people.  When I made it to Kristine, I could see my dad was boosting Analise over the fence so I could carry her with me to the finish line.  She seemed light as a feather as we flew up the finish ramp and across the line. 

Will you ever do another Ironman?

Yes, but I’d like to focus on cycling for the next few years.  

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Ironman Photos!

6th November 2006

It’s hard to take photos and cheer… oh, and handle 2 children! We don’t have great pictures of Brian’s finish, but we’re counting on the professional one to show us his exciting finish line moment with Analise. But here are some fun glimpses of the weekend.

First, Brian, Josiah and I enjoying a chilly sunset on the beach on Friday night.

During the day on Friday, We visited the Ironman Village and picked up registration info (below). Then Brian, Ben and Arthur went out for a ride. They also got into their wetsuits to test out swimming in the ocean.

Finally, it was race day. Brian left at about 5:30 to walk down to the start area. He had to get "body-marked" where they write your race numbers on your arms and legs, check on his bike, put a few last minute things in his transition bags (like his shoes! which he couldn’t put into the bag the day before because he was wearing them and had forgotten other shoes!). I walked down the beach from our condo and saw the start from the distance. It was pretty crowded, and I was on the wrong side of the swim area, but here are the pictures of the start and racers coming into the beach finishing their first lap before heading out for their second lap.

Though I missed Brian coming through the beach between his swim laps, the rest of our group saw him. Then we moved over to where they come out of the swim-bike transition area to head out on their ride. Here’s a picture of a tiny part of the bike area – 2500 bikes! This was taken by Brian after he dropped his bike off on Friday afternoon.

After we cheered Brian on his way out onto the bike course (again, we couldn’t get a picture of him – maybe because he was moving too fast through all this?!?), I went back to the condo while everyone else headed out onto the bike course. They got this great picture of Brian flying by. Lauren said she’d never seen him so intensely focused.   I suppose so!  He passed more than 1300 people, averaging 22mph!

Beverly and the kids and I walked down to the bike-to-run transition area and caught Brian dropping off his bike, changing his shoes and heading out for his his long run.

We saw him twice on the run, right outside our condo, as he finished his first 13 miles, turned around about a half mile down the road and headed out again.  No photos of that.   I’m a SERIOUS cheer-er… Brian knows not to expect pictures from me because I am too busy cheering. After we saw him head out onto his second half of the marathon, we headed to the finish line around 5:30, expecting him before 6pm. It was dark and cold and my little ones were tired. It took him a bit longer to come through than we expected, and I started to get worried. He told me that he ran most of the first half of the marathon, but had to walk about 10 miles of the 2nd half. He was walking at mile 25 and another guy who was just finishing his first lap started walking with him. Brian had lost track of time, and because it was dark, he thought it was pretty late, like 8:30, or getting close to 14 hours. But when this guy found out Brian was almost finished, he told him he was pretty close to breaking 12 hours. Brian ran the last mile, and finished just before 7pm. Yeah! So here are our only finish pictures – Brian and Ben after Ben’s finish at 10:52pm.

After Brian had showered and gotten some food, we headed back to the finish line to cheer on Ben. We ended up staying until midnight, the 17 hour cut-off time. That’s a fun place to be – the music’s blaring, the announcer is keeping everyone riled up, they’re giving away hats and t-shirts, and the "everyday" ironmen are coming through. It was fun to see them achieving such a monumentous task. The last picture is of Brian and I cheering on the last finishers.

Here are his finish stats:

2.4 mile Swim: 1:28:10 (1647th place of 2109 finishers)
Swim-to-Bike transition: 14:39
112 mile Bike: 5:05:08 (346th place in the race overall after this segment, 81st place in bike times!)
Bike-to-Run transition: 4:32
26.2 mile run: 5:02:11 (1291st in run times)
Total: 11:54:40 (762 overall, 114th of 261 in men’s 30-34 age category)

That’s my wrap-up of the Ironman Adventure. If you have questions for Brian, post them here, and he’ll answer them in a first-hand from-the-mouth-of-the-Ironman blog sometime this week.

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The Ironman… the day after

5th November 2006

Waking up as an Ironman is painful. Brian’s doing pretty well today, considering he traveled 140.6 miles yesterday by the power of his own body(2.4mi swim, 112mi bike, 26.2mile run)! He even got on his bike for a short ride. He’s still pretty stiff and sore, but he’s definitely doing well. The 2nd day after an event like this is usually the worst. He’s got a normal day planned – riding to work and back for a total of 25 hilly miles.  We’ll see… I hope to have some time to blog about his adventure for him tomorrow, and I’ll get some pictures posted. Thanks for checking in on him!

PS… if you’re wondering when he’s planning the next one, it will be a long while.  He’s convinced he’ll enjoy being just a great cyclist for a while. 

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