Thanks for the good words on my previous post. If you were local, I'd buy you a pint.
In advance of Thanksgiving, here is a list of the things that I am thankful for today:
My wife, three kids and I are healthy and happy.
The kids are doing well at school.
In our community theatre company's upcoming performance of Aladdin, my youngest son will be the Sultan and my older son will be Genie (the role he was born to play).
My daughter is planning her school's winter formal dance and is a member of National Honor Society.
We are very happy at our new church. This is more meaningful than I can really explain here.
My mom is healthier now than she has been in 20 years.
My dad just came out of back surgery (which went well). He also dropped 98 pounds over the past 2 years and now weighs less than he did in high school. All due to nutrition choices. Amazing! (Got to get me some of that!)
At work, we are starting to settle in to the new "normal", where only a few of us are still working here in Arizona. But the transition has kept me very busy lately. It's good to be busy in this economy.
I have an excessive amount of vacation time saved up, which I hope to utilize this holiday season.
We are heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is my favorite time of year.
And now, I present you with a video from last week's SNL. It kinda features Andre the Giant (my alter ego).
Still here. Nothing to report in terms of The Clydesdale Project. No recent miles, no calorie-counting.
There is a difference between giving up and not moving forward. I anticipate moving forward again with training for another 5k, then 10k in January. But I have not been exercising for awhile.
I started this blog in2009. I wrote a lot of posts and read/commented on many posts. I trained and raced in El Tour de Tucson (34-mile route). But my wife was working about 60 hours per week, my kids were in different schools that weren't challenging or fulfilling and I had A LOT of free time. In hindsight, we were all doing our own thing and not too happy.
In 2010, I raced more, lost a lot of weight and learned that I can develop new healthy habits. The kids got into a new smarty-pants school, which was very challenging for all of us. In a few other areas, we worked very hard and ended the year with a major transition in our lives. We ended the year feeling worn out, unhappy and facing a lot of question marks ahead.
In 2011, my motivation was elusive. I remember starting to write several posts about my goals for 2011, but never finishing them because I just didn't have much motivation. Things were too challenging in other areas of our lives. So, I stayed at home much more, ate whatever and gained back a lot of weight.
Though I had some successful events this year (running a 10k, 30 Days of Biking), I am coming to think of 2011 as my "redshirt season".
The term "redshirt" is used to describe a student-athlete who does not participate in competition in a sport for an entire academic year.
At age 45, I am clearly not a college athlete. But it is fair to say that I spent much of this year on the bench (and even healing up a bit).
I read posts that call for "no excuses" and that "time in training is really better for your family in the long term". I get it.
I've also seen training become obsessive, which can be challenging for families and marriages. We all have different priorities, different motivating forces and different lifestyles.
My priorities? Being a good husband, a good father, helping with homework and chores, paying the bills, doing my job well and being present. I can do that and be overweight. It's just nothing to blog about.
Can I carve out 30 minutes a day, 5-6 days/week for exercise? Sure. I have to. I've got to get back in that routine. And I will. I am finding my motivation again and have been looking at training schedules and races for 2012.
Thanks for staying with me and encouraging me along the way.
(As I wrote in my previous post, imagine that you are a top executive at a movie studio. This is my pitch for a new movie...would you give it a "green light"?)
London, 1896. It is pre-World War 1, but tensions are running high between Germany and England. Within the British government, there is a covert committee that is focused on gathering intelligence. They are concerned about rumors of "sleeper cells" of German spies, living in London. It is believed that Germans have placed spies (even as families!) throughout London neighborhoods and that they are plotting to destroy England from within it's own country.
Their biggest problem area is within the densely populated rowhouses of London, where houses are 3 stories tall and connected to each other using adjoining walls, forming a row of houses. If they suspected a German spy living in one of the center houses, how could they ever listen in on conversations and strategies?
Clive Bertram was a gifted British gymnast. At 21 years old, he was on a great adventure...the Greek Olympics had been revived and he was representing his country at the Summer Olympics of 1896...the first international sporting event of the Modern Era. But he did not win. The Germans were bigger, stronger and more experienced. The swept the gymnastics event and even mocked the other athletes, including Clive.
As he was boarding the ship to return to England, Clive was approached by two men, who represented the intelligence committee of the British government. They asked Clive if he would like to use his gymnastic talents to protect his country. "Protect them from who?" Clive asked. The men pointed to the Germans who were nearby, celebrating their Olympic victories.
Clive agreed. His task was simple, yet dangerous. He was to spy on the suspected spies that might be living within the rowhouses. How? He would be working undercover as a chimney sweep. These rowhouses all had chimneys, given that fireplaces and coal furnaces were their only heat source. The coal fumes would clog up the chimneys and therefore, a "chimney sweep" would need to be hired to clean out the chimney.
As a "sweep", Clive could slip down into whichever houses he needed to in order to listen in on conversations, enter into vacant rooms and gather intelligence. A perfect plan for a gifted gymnast.
(obligatory montage training scene)
One day, on his way to a nearby building, he saw a girl who was crying in the park. He had a younger sister himself and wanted to console her. She was 14 years old and had been adopted when she was little. She said that her parents were cruel, often neglecting her and leaving her shut into her room for days and days, with little food or attention. Her name was Marta.
In time, we learn that Marta's parents are among the list of suspected spies that Clive has been investigating. He took particular interest in her parents because he wanted to make sure that Marta was going to be okay. As the intelligence committee learned more about this family, they suspected that Marta's parents were indeed German spies who had adopted the little girl simply to appear as a family to avoid suspicion.
The German spies were getting busier with meetings in their home and more activity that concerned the Brits. Their increased activity needed more intelligence gathering than a "chimney sweep" could provide on a daily basis. He needed to get more info. He decided to trust Marta and enlist her help against her adoptive parents.
Wanting to escape the cruelty of her German spy-parents, she agreed to help Clive and the Brits. Together they gathered intelligence and would regularly "sweep" the home for details.
Their intelligence pays off and the British soldiers invade the home. In a dramatic standoff, Marta's "father" holds a gun to her head and takes her as a hostage. She begs them for mercy, but they admit that she means nothing to them and she was merely a part of the ruse. Clive saves her and her cruel parents are killed. The spy network is fully revealed and many German spies are arrested.
The British government is so pleased with Clive that he becomes an officer of the British Crown in a quiet ceremony at Scotland Yard. He agrees to remain in his undercover role, given that more spies will likely invade (as we lead up to World War 1).
But he now needs to really blend in with the local people. He comes out of the shadows and becomes known as a humble and friendly chimney sweep. A regular fixture among the rowhouses of London. And to avoid any questions as to why a talented Olympic gymnast would become a chimney sweep, he chooses a new name. Clive Bertram simply becomes known as "Bert the Chimney Sweep" to the local neighborhood people.
And the young girl, Marta? Now once again orphaned, she becomes a ward of the state. Within days, she is adopted by one of Bert's bosses (Mr. Walter Poppins) and taken into his family. Wanting to leave her early life behind, she reinvents herself as well and becomes "Mary". As she grows up, she devotes her life to caring for the neglected children of London...as a nanny.
Bert and Mary still see each other from time to time, though no one knew their history, until now.
(Notes: by now, you've likely realized that this is my idea of a backstory for the two main characters of Mary Poppins. Even as a kid, I always wondered how they met. You can tell that they have an interesting history and seem to drop in on each other's lives. This backstory seems a fun and plausible beginning.)
I am combining my two blogs into this one, The Clydesdale Project.
From the beginning, my focus here was to see if a big guy could lose weight via cycling. I then learned a bit about nutrition and started to lose weight. Then, I started running. I have really treated all of these things more like hobbies than permanent lifestyle changes. That doesn't work for me. My old habits continue to creep in unless I am very focused. So, the Clydesdale Project and my effort must continue on.
But I also enjoyed the writing element of blogging. Aside from cycling, food and mileage, it has been fun for me to share some stories and thoughts with you, some family and friends. So, I started a second blog: Clyde Explains. There are some funny stories there, all true. But a while back some of you suggested that it just might be easier to throw it all into one blog. I'm finally getting around to doing that.
I certainly intend to keep the focus here on exercise, health, races, etc. That is what most of you are focused on as well. But I will also add in a few random stories and ideas that interest me and maybe some of you.
Below is a post that I originally had on the other site. I need to re-post it here because the follow-up post is coming in a day or so and I figured that it might need some explanation.
I play a game with my kids that we call "Made-Up Movie". Actually, I stole it from Adam Carolla's radio show that he used to do.
The idea is that you basically create an idea for a movie that could potentially be pitched to Hollywood. I am not in the business and not interested in being a writer for a living, so the ideas go nowhere outside of our family...until now. From time to time, I will blog about one of our many made-up movie ideas.
Some of these ideas will include casting suggestions. Some will be prequels or sequels. They all are formulaic, meaning that I am not reinventing story structure here. They may seem to be cliche or similar to typical movie genres. That's the point.
But I bet you would want to see these movies, if they were at your local theater!
We see so many tired movie plots getting greenlit in Hollywood that we started thinking that we could come up with equal or better plotlines. It's just an updated version of the cavemen sitting around the fire.
Next movie: The Sweep
(P.S. Does anyone know how I can transport the old blog posts into this blog without dumping them all into our current date? I'd rather just somehow insert them into the historic dates as they were written. ???)