Saturday, July 5, 2008

Is this what John and Thomas envisioned?

Normally I am not an obsessively patriotic person. By total coincidence, I recently watched the HBO miniseries on John Adams. It was well done, and gave me a very particular insight into our "founding fathers," especially who they were as human beings. Let's cut out the romantic crap that Trumball's paintings depict. So this time around I have given much more thought than usual regarding this holiday and what it means.

For me the festivities began on Thursday. Julie and I went back to Symphony Park at Southpark for the Fourth of July celebration concert. Her twin sister Emily and her fiance Will joined us. Unlike the other times we went this year, there were about 2-3 times more people than usual! Since we arrived so late, we found a grassy knoll on the corner of Barclay Downs and Morrison. We couldn't see the performers, but the sound was not lost on us. Of course there were more memories of the high school band experience, this time with Shostakovich's "Festive Overture." Our spot did not end up being all that bad for the fireworks though. The show was much larger than I expected, so I did the honorable thing and enjoyed what had been presented to me. Often though I wonder about what a waste of money they are - these big public showings cost ten of thousands, and often hundreds, of dollars. You could certain feed a lot of homeless people or save a lot of land. Just don't give it to Gloria Pace King.

On the actual day, I rose early and prepared for a bike ride. On Tuesday I dropped Holman off for his yearly tuneup. I was really surprised that I would have to wait over the weekend and lose my companion, but given my cirumstances I had to chose Bicycle Sport and this needed to be done before my Half Ironman, the many centuries to follow, and then of course the big event. I left the house around 6:45AM on my green steel beast, a 1987 LeMans Centurion. This is the bike my dad bought me in high school. Recently I use it weekly for my rides to work. My destination was the city of Matthews, which is south and east of my humble dwelling. My route took me down (and then up - whew! - what a stink!) Tyvola, which then has a schizophrenic moment and changes to Fairview. I furiously peddled up to where Sardis heads south. I remember driving down this road with my old housemate Cesare to pick up the TV hutch I have now. Otherwise I've never spent any time down there. And really, I've never been to downtown Matthews either!

I arrived somewhere around 7:40, just in time to change into my spectator gear and find my friends. I was there for the 4th of July Matthews 5K race, there was a nice community crowd gathering. I knew Jocelyn would be here to race, along local legend Stan, and last year's winner Paul (2007 results). The ultimate irony is that Paul is British! I also spotted fellow Madison Park resident and fellow Scott with his speedy girlfriend May (or Marguerite, depending on who you talk to), who have must have been in town from Louisiana.

The course allowed for me to get some good starting shots and then walk down to Sadie Drive and prepare for runners looping back in. Sure enough Paul was in the lead group with Woodbury right behind the four leaders. With regard to the friendly ongoing duel between Stan "The Man" and Jocelyn "I eat large lunches!" Stan was the next to pick out, with Jocelyn not far behind. After shooting a photo of May that unfortunately did not turn out, I rounded out and took some general shots. Being a spectator now and then definitely gives me a new perspective on the races as a whole, and not just my ultimate 5K suffer-fest experience.

Following that it was a few minutes before the first runner shot back out on to Trade Street, and I could tell right away it was not Paul. This was not a surprise if you had read his blog, as he predicted being at least 40 seconds of his 2007 time. I didn't recognize the dude - apparently he came from Illinois. The Rotarians must have shipped him in to avoid further embarrassment of some British guy winning their American race! Paul was next, needing another 46 seconds to cross the line. Woodbury had held to fifth place spot, then Stan took the lucrative Matthews local award. He bested his mortal enemy (really though, good friend) Jocelyn, although her time was easily enough to win overall female. May was the final person I knew to cross the line, going under twenty minutes and taking third overall. All of them finished faster than I could ever hope to accomplish. At one point I had some strong runs with May, so that leads me to believe if someone like that took me out on a 5K I could very well realize my goal of finishing under twenty minutes.

As everyone else came in I wandered around snapping various pictures of humanity at its best, such as Paul bringing around drinks and Stan doing such a gentlemanly job of introducing me to his friend Jinnie. I watched the begin of the fun run as I waited for the awards ceremony, which took HOURS. Okay, maybe a little less than that. The Rotarian who started the part-tay had to give a diatribe on the signers of the Declaration, but I thought it was a nice touch and gave the event its meaning. He didn't exactly brag about how the good old corn-feed midwest talent beat the crap out of a fish and chips eatin' Brit, but I would hope all of us are beyond that point!

My photo album of the 4th of July Matthews 5K Race

Complete 2008 Results

For the ride home I took a different route, following a not-too-busy Highway 51 east. I had hoped to come up on Rea Road, but neglected to confirm (although I should know this!) that Alexander would have been the correct road to turn on. No big deal - I cruised all the way to the Rea Road I am familiar with. It was certainly starting to get hot! While I was waiting for the light at Runnyemede and Colony another biker stopped and started talking to me because he also had a Centurion! Imagine that.

I did not have too much time to rest. Shortly after my return Julie picked me up and we headed to Ballantyne for Emily and Will's house. From there all four of took the backroads west through Fort Mill and up to Shopton Road. Naturally I had to gab about all the roads I bike so much on! Thankfully we did stop at Sonic for some lunch. We all had a philosophical discussion on how much we would have to get paid to pick up a piece of used chewing gum near the window. I suppose everyone has their price... We then headed down to Terry's Landing via Pine Harbor Road. This road evokes two memories - first our beloved Stewardship czar Jean Woods used to live down this way, but alas, she has moved up to Brevard. And back on April 11, 2004 Winston and I started near here and ran our first 13.1 miles! It wasn't a race or anything special. Why I came out here I can't remember, but we did cover the distance in 2 hours and 3 minutes. Not bad for a first!

This was a fun afternoon! Here is my rough guess where the boat traveled. We first went north to find a quiet spot to eat our lunches. Now my Bacon Toaster Whatever sure didn't look like the one advertised, but if I was paid minimum wage to throw it out the gum-encased window as fast as possible for the benefit of the rich owners, that's probably quite close to what I would prepare... Thankfully it was tasty to eat, and I was starving. My tots were nice, and much better than the fries I got to sample. We then headed south crossing under the Highway 49 bridge. Given the number of times I've biked one way or the other, this was about the newest perspective out there! After getting chided for driving too fast in the "no wake" zone we sped off again and turned into the North Carolina side of Lake Wylie to this "party."

"Low Key" was the key phrase here. It was about 6-7 other folks, no one I had ever met before. They were out on the simple dock drinking and talking. Will no doubt was excited to get the Miller Lite festivities underway! After an hour or so I decided to put on a lifejacket "diaper" like Will and just hang out in the water. Arm with my shades and Grand Columbian hat, I went with the flow. We naturally had to push Emily around on the "Warp Speed" tube. Very different world. It was interesting talking to the three brothers that lived there. It was not one of the many "I have way more money than you" mansions on the lake either - it reminded me a lot of Lake Shoecraft and the times we would go there with the Kents. Except the beer drinking part. I think we were there 4-5 hours. And I drank way more beer than I usually do. Obviously this is what John Adams intended for American citizens to be doing 232 years later!

As nice as that was, I was very excited to get the tubing underway. I volunteered first. I'm quite certain the last time I went tubing was at Camp Parsons at least 20 years ago. I definitely had not drunk heavily beforehand, but thankfully I did have enough arm strength (and sobriety?) to hang out for the duration. Julie's run was almost cut short when the line got tangled in the motor, but I hopped in to unwork that. She also had an excellent run. By then there were some dark clouds gathering so we made our way to back to ugly white and red pinstripe building. By then it was somewhere close to 7PM.

Upon our return I was saddened to learn their home air conditioning had broken! It may be my curse - not too sure on that. I did get the impression their tolerance was much lower than mine in terms of getting it fixed. So we grilled out - had a very taste cheeseburger and a braut. During the course I started to ask if anyone remembered their Fourth of July last year. At the start I couldn't recall for the life of me what I was doing.

It took some time before the whole fireworks close to home mentality reminded me that 2007 had even more action! I left the house at 6:40AM to attempt my third 100+ mile bike ride. I rode with a group of six others in Union County (route) and ended up averaging 17.1 miles per hour, which was not bad! Upon my return, I hopped off the bike and ran 3.1 miles. I have two 5K loops from my house identified. This one was the II version counterclockwise. This meant the finish was up the White Oak Steps. I believe I have mentioned these before. It's a series of hills that for most of my routes, whether biking or running, I have to deal with most every time.

Behold- A sight I get to dread several times a week

Anyway, I ran relatively strong after 100 miles on the bike, finishing in 26:22, which is not far from the average of this iteration (which is mostly done on its own): 25:42. Not too long after I went a few doors down to a very memorable Fourth of July party at Brooke's house. It was out back, and I was amazed I was able to hold on for about four hours and enjoy all the company, food, bocce, and drink. I do vividly recall going home to crash in a big way. They were shooting off fireworks for the event.

Back to 2008, we did catch a few moments of the show from Ballantyne. But not before I entertained stunned audiences on my bottle blowing music! Apart from that we watched some of the US Olympic Swimming Trials on their big fancy TV. Good times. On our way out I thanked them for the hospitality and wished them the best on getting their air conditioner situation rectified sooner rather than later.

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