Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy New Year! 2011 Year in Review

2011 is long gone and 2012 is now here.  In a way, it is time to peel off this old layer and start anew; start fresh.

2011 was a year that was full of ups and downs.  As I take a moment to reflect, allow me to cover some of the highlights.

As the year started, I was in the 'dating' mode.  Dating at 40 is rather interesting to say the least.  Most women my age are done playing games and if they like something they'll tell you straight up, if they don't like something they'll still tell you straight up.  But it was pretty obvious that I had been blessed with meeting someone very special.  Wendy is truly a gift and I am a very lucky man.

In January, Erik and I had a great opportunity to visit Granny in Texas.  We had a great time with her and some of my cousins.  I even got the chance to go for a long run in downtown Austin at Lady Bird Park.  Very pretty.  We all love Granny very much and Erik and I were very thankful for this trip. 

In February, Erik turned 15 and had a killer birthday bash with a bunch of his buddies at Great Wolf Lodge.  It was crazy and the extra money I spent for the separate bedroom suite was well worth it!  They all had a blast but I think this may be the last year since it seemed the boys might be getting too old for the indoor waterpark.

For March, the kids got to come for spring break.  We had so much fun playing and camping and going to a play called "Go, Dog, Go!"  The kids are getting so big and my time with them is so precious.  Although I should include a picture of the Clark County Courthouse as it seemed we were in court every other week for various issues.  Grrrr. But I will not dwell on the negativity, but be thankful for the time I have with the kids and be the best Dad I can possibly be.

 I was training pretty hot and heavy for the Vancouver USA Marathon coming up June 19 and the first big test came at the Eugene Half Marathon May 1st.  Wendy and I travelled to Eugene for the event.  Great venue and very inspirational given that Hayward Field is where the US does its Olympic Trials and NCAA National Championships.  Pretty cool.  I rocked the half marathon and shattered my goal of finishing in less than 2 hours.

We also went to the Portland Rose Fest where Brandon and Erik proceeded to have a contest to see who would hurl first.  I think Brandon edged Erik by just mere seconds!  We also went on a hike in the Columbia River Gorge.

June was a very busy and sad month.  My dear Grandma Rudy passed away after having a stroke.  It was rather sudden and I was glad the kids and I got to visit her just days before the episode.  She was 84 and lived life to the fullest.  Her memorial service saw the Spokane Valley Church packed to the rafters and a full orchestra played some of her favorite songs.  It was incredible to reflect on the many lives that my Grandma had touched.  She was very active in the Washington/Idaho Symphony in Pullman, the Gonzaga Symphony, Spokane Valley Food Bank.  Years ago, she was a volunteer for Save the Children.  But more than the things she was involved in, my Grandma had a way with people.  She was terrible at getting the punchline right in a joke, but she seemed to always make people laugh and a pleasure to be around.  I always cherished my visits with her and her probing questions about my lovelife she has asked me since I was 10.

I also had a great visit with the little ones they got to be around when I ran the Vancouver USA Marathon on Father's Day.  I ran the race in memory of Grandma Rudy and also Naomie.  I wore their pictures on a lanyard during the race.  I did not make my 4 hour time goal, but it was still a Personal Best finishing in 4:23.

Then came time to volunteer for Ironman Coeur d'Alene.  Last year I finished this event and I was so appreciative of the many volunteers.  So, to give back to the sport, I volunteered for this year's event.  What a great experience.  I highly recommend people volunteer.  For starters, you get to be part of something really cool and really big.  Second, you get a cool shirt.  This cool shirt gets you access to places that no one else can go!  Watching the pro's and other people at the event really inspired me and I made sure to sign up for IMCDA 2011!!!

In July, Wendy and I decided to Volunteer for the big 4th of July celebration at Ft. Vancouver.  This is a huge event every year.  So we worked one of the access points/gates to the fort for a few hours, got to meet some interesting people, including the Mayor and our Congressional Rep.  Then we enjoyed a great fireworks show.

For the rest of the month, I had an ambitious plan to do 4 athletic events in 4 weekends.  Starting with the Rev3 half-ironman distance triathlon.  This was a national-level 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.  I had hardly trained for this event and just wanted to go out and have fun.  But my childhood friend, Scott Boyer, was there too and I wasn't about to go down gently.  It was a difficult day, but I beat my time for this distance by 20 minutes. 

I also did the Lacamas Lake Half Marathon.  I showed up 2 minutes before the gun went off.  I had literally no warm up.  But I was able to really dig hard and finish in less than 2 hours.  I was proud of my performance because it took lots of guts and mental toughness to make that time.

Then I did two more triathlons.  One was a sprint distance at Frenchman's Bar on the Columbia River.  Having a down-current swim was great, but due to the recent rains, that water was sooooo c-c-cold!  Then I did an Olympic distance at Blue Lake Park.  Fun times, but I was really knackered after all of that.

August came around and it was time for another visit with the kids.  We went camping at Battle Ground Lake.  What a great campground and so close.  The kids had a blast staying in the tent and going fishing at the lake.  We had campfire, told stories, read Smokey Bear comic book and just acted silly.

Erik also passed his written driver's test an earned his Learner's Permit.  It was a happy day!  First thing he did was visit the McDonald's drive-thru.  Are ya kidding? 

Then we all took a trip to Leavenworth, WA where my mom had reserved her timeshare.  It was so relaxing and so much fun.  I hadn't been to Leavenworth in decades.  Beautiful little town and I even got to go for a relaxing run.  I took the kids swimming in the pool, they were like little fish.  Then I took them fishing and they each caught a steelhead.  Lauren was so funny!  She had no reservations about handling the slimy and squirming fish.  She even sang songs to the little guy and things like, "Oh, what a sweet little fish!" 

I also participated in the Hood to Coast running relay from Mt. Hood to Seaside.  It was a lot of fun, as always.  My sister is a great leader and organizer and I was thankful she had me on her team.

Labor Day weekend was a super blast going camping to Mt. Rainier with Wendy's family.  The weather was breathtakingly perfect and we camped at Longmire CG.  Great setting. We had so much fun, even when I locked my keys in the truck. 

In October I got to head to Montana for Lauren's 4th birthday.  She is so funny.  It was an over-the-top birthday party, but I think she really enjoyed it.  Especially the jumpy-bouncy house Christi had rented.

The latter part of October saw me head out on the road for 5 weeks for work. Doing safety training up and down the coast for fishermen and then a week in Seattle for meetings and Pacific Marine Expo.  I don't like being on the road so much and it is hard on everyone, but I got it done and I truly appreciated help from my mom and support from Erik and Wendy.

Before we knew it, the holidays were here, Thanksgiving and Christmas and then 2011 was done.  Where'd it go?  We all had a great holiday with the kids and Wendy's family.  Seemed like the last couple of months really went fast.

So what is in store for 2012?  Read the next blog and you'll find out..... Thanks for reading.

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