Sunday, July 1, 2018

Family Update - more transitions

The first transition is actually something I simply forgot to mention last post. I traded in my sporty Audi convertible for another Volvo. Something feels wrong about that, but the Volvo is really nice.

Goodbye convertible, hello Volvo
The TT was really nice while I had it. The scary part about the Volvo is that it's the same model as Kelley's car, but one year newer and has 96k fewer miles on it. So when Ella starts driving in a couple of years, likely she will get Kelley's car and Kelley will take this one, then I can go back to another convertible. And I'm trying not to freak out about Ella driving in only a couple of years.

The kids both had their birthdays this year! I am so proud of the young women they are quickly growing into. These early teenage and preteen years are shaping their adult personalities and habits. It's fascinating for me to watch them develop like this.

Me with my youngest Evil Genius

Happy with her puppet

Ella the Eldest
This means they are both about ready to get back to middle school. ugh! Crazy times!

One funny thing - Kelley never transitions. She rolls with the seasons and never changes a bit. it's wild and I love it (and her)

Monday, June 11, 2018


Recently I was telling a friend that I was going through a pretty extreme transition right now, and it may not be obvious to some people. For the last decade I've built this identity as an athlete. Triathlons, Ironman, Trail Ultras, always training and looking forward to the next race. Marathons are still my favorite, in fact I've got another one coming up next weekend in Colorado.

But it's a transition. I've barely been training and I'm going in about 45 lbs overweight. There are no races on the calendar after this. I'm having a small surgery (umbilical hernia repair) on June 28 that will take 4-6 weeks to recover. No training or heavy lifting until August. And I am starting grad school in August. All I've been motivated to do lately is work on a sailboat I'm building and other home projects, like landscaping.

I'm not the only one going through a transition! My Evil Genius has now graduated 5th grade and is a full blown middle schooler. First time in 8 years we haven't had a student in the local Elementary School.

With the teacher and principal

EG with a painting she did in the library at school
The garden is in a transition too. I shortened the beds this year and added a 3rd taller bed with the difference. Still end up with a smaller garden space overall, but it's really full this year and thriving with the extra topsoil/compost we added!

buying plants at the farmers market

Those beds used to be as wide as the muscadines behind them

Today's garden - huge growing plants!

The new bed is only squash & zuch this year
I had to shorten up the garden beds because of my next huge project. I'm going to rip out this existing front porch and rebuild it the way I want! That also means relandscaping the entire front yard in front of the house.

stairs at the wrong angle have got to go

The front porch is tiny and crumbling and it has got to go

The before picture. Crap landscaping, that stone L path has got to go
I want stairs that go straight into the front door. This existing porch has a hard L 90* turn to get into the front door. It's barely big enough for the door to open before hitting the handrail. I hate the handrail. Moving a couch in that front door is impossible. I'm going to rip it all out and put in a 10' x 16' long front porch with a block/brick foundation and extend the roof out to cover it, tying into the existing roofline. That means the stone pathway that leads to the existing stairs have to go away, and I can finally turn that weird azalea hedge (that's not how you're supposed to use azaleas or structure a hedge!) into some actual landscaping. With trees and hardscape and a path and everything. Enjoy the before pictures.

The boat is looking really good right now too. I got the keel attached to the stem and all of the frames, so the base structure is totally in place. I have 4 more boards to connect (chines and clamps on each side) before I can put the plywood on the hull, so I'm trying to find the cash for the plywood now. That might be an August thing as well.

But the biggest transition that I'm struggling with is still going from athlete to student/woodworker. As of June 1, I stopped the monthly billing for the swim team that I've been on since 2011. No open water races for me this year still feels dirty and strange. But the arthritis hurts so much I can't finish the workouts anymore. So no more swimming, at least for now. No more biking for the last few years, eh, that's not new. Running? in this heat? there's just no motivation. At this weight and with arthritis it just hurts so much more. at this weight...

I ran across this picture when the tattoo sleeve was new back in 2015 and tried to recreate it with today's belly. The tattoo is still awesome. But the difference in my belly between 2015 (when I ran a bunch of marathons and went to Minnesota) and this summer is obvious. The people I see every day don't think I've gained much weight. With a shirt on it's easy to hide. Even in the pool people don't think there's much of a difference. but yeah. this is painful to look at. On the left I'm about 170 lbs, on the right is about 210. Today I weighed in at 216 so it's gotten a bit worse.

trail running fixes everything, right?

So here's the plan for the transition. I'm going to do this marathon in Colorado next weekend no matter what. By the time I'm recovered from that it will be time for the surgery - 11 days apart. By the time I'm recovered from that (4-6 weeks) I will treat it like I'm starting a base/weight loss phase. No runs longer than 5 miles, go vegetarian again, 1800 calories a day. It worked in the past, it should work again. It will be easiest with the heat to run in the morning before work, and I can do grad school classes/work in the evenings and squeeze in the woodworking stuff when I can. Now I typically get about 45 minutes a day to work outside before dinner then hit the gym after, so now I'll get the same 45 minutes (maybe) outside before dinner and do the online school after that. It will be the right time and structure to get my health back in line. Just losing weight won't help the arthritis, but it will help me feel better about myself. No marathons for at least the rest of the year, maybe no marathons until the end of grad school. Then I can take a closer look at how my body feels and where my motivation lies.

I told my friend to start with small goals, and when you achieve them see what kind of bigger goals those lead to. My small goals are to get my health problems under control and keep these house projects going. No timetable on those, just be sure I can pay for it as I go. This summer I don't want to let the Seasonal Affective Disorder ruin my mood. I mean, there are a lot of reasons to be down on myself here (they all start with "shit I'm old" and "that hurts"). But I'm not going to let the heat get to me this year. Acclimate and accept. All I can really do in this transition is keep a short focus and see where it takes me. I could end up someplace that I love as much as Ironman.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Catching Up

There has been a lot going on around the Flynn household since we were in Delaware. I've been totally unmotivated to write about it, but big things are happening!

Yesterday I got accepted into grad school! In August, I'll be starting the MBA program at UNC-Wilmington. It's been 20 years (May 1998) since I was in a college classroom, so this should be interesting. I'm excited about the new challenge. Work is paying for it, in-state tuition is only about $15k, and it should take about 2 years to complete. It's 11 classes taught in 7 week blocks, one class at a time. At my company, now I am part software architect and part manager. I did recently get a promotion, but the title is still short of being either an architect or a manager. There are no architects or managers in the building (700 employees here, 10,000 worldwide) that do not have a masters degree or PhD. Not having a masters degree is not holding me back right now, but I fear it will limit my options going forward if I don't go ahead and take care of it.

Another huge change is that I have dropped the monthly fees for the RAM swim team as of June. I've been on this team since 2011 and absolutely love swimming. But since I got this promotion, I can barely make one swim practice a week. And with the arthritis, that one practice is very painful. Availability, pain, and lack of conditioning. It's a bad combination. I'm really enjoying running right now, so I'm just going to stick with that. But I will really miss my teammates, the workouts, and being competitive in open water races.

Some other cool stuff happened too. I got to work for a day on a Habitat for Humanity construction site with my teams!

Sheeting the exterior walls

Someone gave Tejal a sawsall, terror ensued

Adding a sill cap

I love construction!
Also I've gotten in some good family time lately. Loving on the wife and taking the whole family out for a Durham Bulls game

Love at the front door

At the Bulls game

Full crowd!

The kids loved playing the video games in my office

It's getting warm and things are blooming!

Got a new medal holder. 59 and counting, if you didn't know

Evil Genius got some artwork on display at the mall

Enjoying the fire pit on a cool spring night
We also got to enjoy a day at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. EG is obsessed with the Titanic movie, and they had some costumes on display. With her birthday coming up, we had to get out there and see those or she would never let us hear the end of it.

it big

I love that chandelier

holding hands with Jack

Panorama from the wisteria patio

Wow, that took a few cups of coffee. Welcome to summer! We're in full swing already.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Delaware is Done!

The Trap Pond marathon in Delaware is in the books! Delaware is my 12th state in the quest to run a full marathon in all 50 states, and my 25th marathon overall. It's also my first marathon since October 2016, when I tore up my right foot. I really wasn't sure that I would be able to marathon again, or would have the motivation to marathon again.

Saturday we drove up to Southern Delaware. If I didn't know I was in lower Delaware I would swear it was Eastern NC. We had to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge both ways, and it cost $13 in tolls each time. The bridge is about 8 miles long, but only about 6 miles of that is above the water. The two times that we had to tunnel under the water was really cool - the whole thing is an expensive feat of engineering. Kelley was not a fan. After that we got into Maryland for a bit and then crossed the border to DE.

Packet pickup was at the hotel we were staying at so that was easy. When I travel I like to eat at smaller local restaurants and find local breweries. Funny thing about (what they called) the slower lower - they didn't know they were in Delaware! We ate dinner at a Texas Roadhouse, but I did get a bottle of Dogfishhead 120 minute IPA. A BOTTLE! There are no local restaurants and no local breweries. I'm reserving the right to go back for the Rehoboth Beach marathon just so I can hit the DFH brewerpub for some decent eats and draft local beer.

heading into wal-mart looking for local sweatshirts
Kelley wants me to bring her back a sweatshirt from a college from every state. The University of Delaware Blue Hens should have some pretty cool gear! Nothing. We couldn't find a single thing. There wasn't even a Target unless we went back to Maryland. But it did snow when it was 45* outside, so that's something we'd never seen before!

Marathon morning was uneventful. Got dressed and ate breakfast at the hotel, made it back to the starting line at the Trap Pond State Park on time. Then when we were all at the starting line I noticed the legend himself - Chuck Engle the marathon junkie was running! Which means he's going to win. Sure enough, he only lapped me once and won with a 3:05

Kelley and I before the start
The race was all on the Bob trail around a lake. It started with a 1.75 mile out and back spur, then kept on for 5 loops of the 4.5 mile trail. I carried the phone with me for loop 2

struggling already

Kelley was cold

Got him! There's Chuck passing me

Beautiful day, beautiful lake

This was the trail most of the course. Gravel, wide, flat. Perfect.

There were a couple of cool bridges

and a swamp

This was the only stretch of pavement

Coming in to finish the lap
Each lap took about 50 minutes to complete. After the spur and the first lap, Kelley thought I was almost done - I got a kick out of that. She was really just tired of sitting in the cold waiting on me to finish. 1:23 into a marathon and I'm almost there, yeah.

Everything felt ok until the last lap. That one was mostly walking. And it hurt pretty good. But at the end, I was done.  I had finished my first marathon in a year and a half. Only took 5:01, good enough for 15th place of 25 finishers (small race!) and 5 of 6 men 40-49 and 9 of 15 men overall. It's not the 4 hour marathons I was churning out when I was 40 lbs lighter, but I finished. And that felt great.

Arthritis sucks, my hand swelled up so I had no knuckles left

Got my medal!

Kelley is happy I'm done!
After I finished, I changed clothes in the parking lot and we drove directly the 6 hours back to Raleigh. I still wore the medal the whole time. I am so glad to have Delaware complete, and got to have a fun road trip with my sweetheart.