Monday, October 31, 2011

40 Years of Marriage

Forty Years ago yesterday my Mum and Dad got married. Congratulations to you both, may you have many many more happy years together. They went out to celebrate for dinner last night with Eilish and Eddie.

Forty years together is a wonderful achievement. Keeping a marriage together requires a lot of work, it doesn’t simply magically happen. Everybody constantly needs to work on their relationship, particularly in times when there is more to focus on than simply the two of you. Raising a family, busy work schedules, health or money concerns can all lead to additional strain. Forty years together certainly doesn’t happen by accident.

We all love you both so much, thank you for being our parents.

Trick or Treating

Halloween and Trick or Treating on our street went well this evening. Anja was a Supergirl, Isabel a Cat Princess and Connor a Fireman. We headed out to see everybody around 6pm and saw most of the neighbors. There was lots of candy along the way and Connor figured out very quickly what that was all about.

Shown below are a few pictures, including a few of the neighbors in addition to Cy and Scotlynn who were over last night (sorry Logan I didn't get a photo of you).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Time

We had an autumn and Halloween theme today. We cleaned the garage and got a little ready for winter, we went on a great walk through our local Happy Hollow Park to rustle in the leaves but more importantly we carved the pumpkins in preparation for Halloween on Monday night.

We all pitched in with the “goop cleaning”, design choosing, cutting, scraping and shaving. We have a "Wicked Witch" and a "Bat Cat", whatever that is. Shown below are a couple of pictures from the carving plus a few from earlier in the month of the kids painting on the pumpkins (under Brooke’s watchful eye and supervision).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Illness and Chaos

It has been pretty hectic here since my return home from Europe. Let me clarify, it was extremely hectic here whilst I was away and it still is.

Whilst I was away, Anja was ill and had to go on antibiotics, which is pretty rare for Anja so when she is ill, she’s pretty ill. Connor fell and tore his fingernails to the point that he has totally lost a nail on his big finger. Finally, now that the weather is turning poor Isabel has fluid build up in her eardrums again (recall she had adenoids removed and ear tubes put in last November). Her hearing has deteriorated again so she has more tubes in her future.  It was a tough 10 days for Lynne, I’m only glad that Pat was here to help out.

Things have settled down a little now, as always time is a great healer, although Connor now has a cold also. I too did not escape some illness, I’ve had a bad cold since my return, I took a trip to the doctor this week and found out that I had a double ear and throat infection.  Life is tough. 

These pictures below are random pictures from these last few weeks. i thought Anja's fancy dress plus wellies was cute and it's obvious that Connor loves his little train set.

Last Post on Ireland Trip

I have one final post regarding my trip to Europe but specifically to Ireland.  Thank you all for your hospitality, I had a great weekend, thoroughly enjoyable.

The last picture in the series is shown below from the Sunday afternoon we spent with Tracey and Clive in Portarlington. Tracey, with some help from Sam and Clive, cooked a fabulous Sunday roast dinner with all the trimmings and dessert on top. Thank you again, it was delicious.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Night Out

My little mini tour of Ireland continues. I just arrived in Portarlington to stay with Clive and Tracey for the night. It’s actually turned out to be a small family gathering since Dad and Eilish traveled with me from Roscommon and Sam and Davey just arrived from Dublin. We are going to be treated to Tracey’s Sunday dinner.

We had another late night last night. We were out in Dads local pub with him and Eilish and Eddie. I was also treated to Eilish’s full Irish Breakfast this morning. This little tour of Ireland is starting to be bad for my health.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Malahide and Night Out

After two days of catching up with Davey and Sam in Dublin, I've arrived in Roscommon to see Dad, Eilish and Eddie.  I had a nice day yesterday, Sam and Davey took me on a coastal tour of north Dublin through Malahide and Portmarnock. We stopped in to see the beautiful Malahide Castle followed by coffee and scones at a small cafe in the village.
Of course last night we hit the local pub and Clive and Tracey even come to meet us. A long, late and enjoyable night was had by all. It was a little to good for our own good health but Sam made us the perfect breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches. Poor Sam was not feeling that well, she has a double ear infection that is extremely painful.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trip Through Europe

I’ve been wandering my way through Europe this week for work. I spent two days in Hannover, Germany at a conference in which I gave a presentation. I then flew to Belgium and visited Brussels and Liege before flying to Ireland. I’m now in Dublin staying with Davey and Sam. I arrived late last night to a great welcome; Sam had made this wonderful Beef and Guinness pie in my honor. We had a few drinks last night, had some great Guinness at Davey’s local pub. Davey and myself even managed to get out for a 10km run this morning in Dublin’s famous Phoenix Park.

Davey and Sam are doing great, obviously with the expected arrival of their twins, they think sometime over the next four weeks, they are very excited for their future. Sam is looking extremely well and in great spirits.

Wishing everybody a great weekend, I’ll be travelling to Roscommon tomorrow to see Dad, Eilish and Eddie (Mum is on holiday) and then off to see Clive and Tracey on Sunday.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Chicago Marathon Update

Today I had a great running day, I completed my first ever marathon in Chicago in a time of 3hrs 38mins. My official results here. It was a little longer than my stated goal of 3:30 but I'm incredibly happy with my time and achievement. I'm a marathoner !!

I was quite nervous at the start since I knew it was going to hurt and boy was I right. The weather at the start line was perfect (for sitting around waiting for the race), but it was obvious however from the first mile that it was going to be a hot day. It was 61F at the start and by the time I hit the midpoint it was in the 70s. I tried to be wise and kept well hydrated.

Now yes it was hot and I may have run a little quicker and hit my target if it was cooler but the reason the time I attained was off from my target was simple; I committed the classic new marathoner mistake. I knew I had to start slow but I got sucked along. At the start there is simply so much energy and you feel just great and so excited to be finally off and running. Between miles 5-13 I ran about 15 sec a mile faster than plan and ultimately paid the price. By the time I hit 19 miles, whist I was still on target, my hamstrings were screeching and I was now going a little slower. By the time I was at 23 miles, I was going a little slower even still  and really wanted it all to end. I was so glad to see the 26 mile marker indicating 0.2 miles to go!!

It has been a great weekend here in Chicago. Had a huge pasta dinner last night with Brad (finished in 4:29) and Kay has been such a wonderful host. See the picture below, she is celebrating our marathon finishes harder than we are :))

And so it ends, this has been a great marathon journey, nine months in the making. Finally and most importantly, big thank you again to all of you who helped and supported along the way, this was not possible without you, you know who you are.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Happy Birthday Randy

Happy Birthday Randy, I hope you have a great day. It’s always nice to be able to wish somebody the very best on their birthday, it’s even more special when it’s a close and dear friend. Randy is such a friend and to us all in so many different ways.

The kids adore him; he is their trusted helper, especially when it comes to sewing up a torn teddy bear arm or a dolls dress. He has done so many of these. He is also their fountain of knowledge, if we stumble upon a topic of special interest where there is some uncertainty, they simply declare it uncertain only until they next meet Randy and “he’ll know the answer”.

Randy is a great debating partner, sounding board, chess partner, chef, and biking buddy and is constantly thinking of Lynne and myself when it comes to helping out with a variety of things. This is often help with doing something at the house or running an errand whilst we are at work. He is of course also a great husband and a truly willing partner with Lorraine when it comes to watching the kids for a night to allow Mum and Dad a night off.

Thanks for being who you are Randy, Happy Birthday.

Marathon Prologue

I’ve just completed my final training run for the Chicago Marathon, my first ever marathon, which will take place this coming Sunday morning. It starts at 7:30am. I cannot believe it has been 9 months since I first announced that I would try training for this event.

For the most part training has gone according to plan; I managed a personal best in the Indy half marathon (1:39:15) in order to secure a seeded starting position in Chicago (Corral C, Bib #7958). A seeded start will allow me to line up in the first 5000 runners, (closer to the Kenyans in case I’m feeling good on the day) and have most of the remaining 40,000 participants behind me.

Generally speaking I followed my training plan; I’ve run over 1000 miles so far this year and on my third set of running shoes. Check out the picture below, it’s a snapshot from my training log showing weekly miles since January. I’ve dropped a well-needed 25 lbs and feel great. I’m really in the best condition I’ve ever been in and that includes when I was training 3-4 times a week when playing rugby (somehow I’m not partaking in the very festive “off-field activities” that I was back then.

I have many people to thank, John who helped with the training and offered advice along the way. Steve, Neil, David and Brad who have ran on a few training runs with me. Of course I’m extremely thankful to Lynne and the kids who have suffered my absence on many occasions. Long runs require early starts (6am and earlier) and time on the road. I must also prospectively thank Kay who is graciously hosting us (Brad and I) on Saturday night. I think we have the best seat in town. Her apartment is literally 0.2 miles from the start…how about that!!!

So, as you read your paper over breakfast this coming Sunday, wish me luck as I slog my way through 26.2 miles of Chicago’s downtown. I’m hoping to finish at a time close to 3 hrs 30min (8 min/mile pace) but since it’s my first marathon, a finish is the ultimate goal. I’ll post a race update on Monday, wish me luck!