American Past Time - $15.00

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American Past Time
A novel by Len Joy

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Evanston Flying Turkey 5K - November 27, 2014

Yesterday they held the third annual Evanston Flying Turkey 5K.  It was a great day for a race, sunnyish and the temperature, according to my Garmin was 25 degrees. 

It was a fun race because most of the folks I run with all year round were there:  Lois Moeller (who finished 2nd in her age group), Clarissa Lau, Noah Jaffe, Lisa and Matt  Bowker, Mary Dolan and even our coach Heather Collins (who finished 1st in the 40 to 44 age group, but unfortunately is in the 45-49 age group and there she finished 4th.) 

Two years ago I finished in 23:45 and was 3rd in my age group.  Last year I improved to 2nd place with a time of 23:15 and this year I took first in my age group with a time of 22:30 - a 7:15 pace. Maybe I should retire.

The whole family is home for Thanksgiving. We don't have what could ever be described as an early-rising family (except for me.)  So generally I don't expect to see a gaggle of family members cheering for me at the finish line.  But yesterday Christie (home from London and working on her jewelry creations from our home - see earlier posts) got up and rode her bike over to the race and made in time to see me finish. That was a nice surprise.  And it was easy for me to spot her because she has pink hair.  (she's an artist). 

Christie, Nicole, Elaine Wong, Joanne Tanaka, Art & Stephanie

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cemetery Memories

My family does not have a well-established tradition when it comes to cemeteries. This differs from my wife’s side of the family – Japanese are really into the honoring of ancestors – they have traditions squared when it comes to the departed. 

I have two family-related cemetery memories. Years ago my sister Carol shared with me a shocking photograph of our Grandmother Burr (my mom’s mother).  My memory of my grandmother was of a very proper ancient woman whose hair was permanently configured into a grey bun.  She was grandmother-friendly, but she had been a schoolteacher for about seventy years and even as a little boy I knew she was a serious person.

The photograph my sister showed me was of a teenage girl, with flowing dark hair smiling provocatively as she leaned against the Burr family gravestone. Carol claimed that was our grandmother at sixteen.  I had my doubts, but it was a really cool photo.

My other memory is from when I attended the funeral of my Aunt Beulah a few years ago.  When they had buried her husband Walter in 1956 in the family plot, they must have decided they could save some money by adding Beulah’s name to the gravestone, giving her birth date and then her death as 19_ _.   But Beulah lived well into the 21st century and we all had a good laugh at that cost saving measure.

I am in Skaneateles for the week – we flew out here to attend my 45th high school reunion and to visit my mom. The bed and breakfast where we are staying on this trip is just a couple blocks from the cemetery where my dad is buried.  I had not been to the gravesite since the funeral, but with typical male confidence I was certain  I could find his grave. 

The cemetery was larger than I remembered and it turns out that a lot of gravestones look alike. I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t even sure what year my dad died. Some days it feels like he has been gone just a year or two and other times it seems much longer. My guess was five years and I started walking through a section where most of the deaths were in the 2006 to 2008 range.

I finally decided this was one of those situations where it was okay to ask for directions so I called my sister Kendra who lives in town. She didn’t answer. I hung up the phone and started to walk down the hill and out of the cemetery when I spotted Dad’s monument.

My dad had a good life – grew up on a farm, serve his country as a pilot in World War II, had a good marriage, raised four remarkable children. He always told me he wanted to live his three score and ten so he exceeded his own goal by twenty one years.

According to his gravestone Dad died on October 5, 2008 – six years and one day ago. If I had visited yesterday it would have made for a better story. But I’m glad I visited today.  This was a perfect fall day:  bright blue sky, the air cool, but the sun warm, the leaves still on the trees, and just starting to turn orange and red and yellow. 
It was the kind of day that makes you glad to be alive.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

North Shore Triathlon - September 14, 2014

When I had my surgery on August 13, my secret goal was to recover in time to participate in the North Shore Triathlon.  This triathlon, which began last year, was brought to life by Craig Strong and his team at Precision Multisport, where I train.

Last year my daughters joined me for the race. It was their first tri experience so of course it rained the entire time.  They said that didn’t discourage them, but this year Christie was safely back in London and when I asked Nicole if she would like to do it again, she gave me a funny look. 

When I went to see my surgeon for my first post op checkup he was not enthusiastic about my triathlon plan. Actually he said “No biking!”  I wasn’t really going to argue with him as I had already tried biking (just a few miles) and it wasn’t super comfortable.  I came up with a backup plan. My friend Zeev Saffir volunteered to do the bike segment for me.  Zeev is 30 and I have to confess he might be slightly faster than me on my best days on the bike so he was an excellent choice.

The air temp was only about 45 degrees as we prepared to enter the water. But that was actually a good thing as it made the 54 degree water feel warm. Well at least not unbearably cold. I had predicted to my coach (Heather Collins) that I would do the swim in 8:30 and I finished in 8:28 which is probably the first time I actually did better than I predicted.  Heather has worked on my swimming form a lot this year.  Last year in this same tri I took 10 minutes to complete the course. 

Another great thing about having Zeev waiting to do the bike segment was I could hand off the racing chip to him before I took off my wetsuit.  That definitely helped our transition time as I was shaking so much it took me about five minutes to get the wetsuit off. 

I finally warmed up and was ready when Zeev finished the bike segment. He zipped around the course in 36 minutes, averaging just over 20 mph.   

I had predicted for my run a 5K time of 24 minutes but it took me 25:23 to finish.  I blame the cold.

Zeev and I  finished with a time of 1:13:49. I had predicted a time of 1:14.  We would have finished second in the relay competition but we weren’t consider a true relay so we finished first in our own special two man division. 

It’s a great race. Beautiful location and Craig Strong and J.P. Bordeleau and a ton of volunteers really made it a rewarding experience. Lots of first time triathletes had a chance to compete.

Zeev Saffir and Nikki Kopelson