Monday, February 27, 2012

Road Trippin' 3,000 miles one week, 10 miles the next

I've been having a really hard time justifying a new post after the one about my cousin Kevin. It's been hard to think of writing about running or racing after something so sad and meaningful in my family's life. It has occurred to me though that Kevin wouldn't want us to mourn him but rather celebrate his life. So while this probably isn't all that exciting of a post to follow him up, it does encompass many aspects of life that he loved so much. So here goes...

After  a really trying week for the Castelot-Ferreira family with the passing of Kevin, it was time to get my brother Andrew out of the house. Andrew was moving to Atlanta and my sister Marilyn, cousin Joey, and I drove with him down to Georgia. If the devil went down to Georgia like Charlie Daniels says, I am sure he wasn't coming from New Hampshire or he would have flown.

Andrew, co-founder of the Gold Jacket Tournament, devised hourly games for us to play to keep us entertained and awake. Amazingly, these games actually worked and the first nine hours flew by. However, the drive wasn't nine hours but nearly nineteen and we all wanted to actually have some time in Atlanta so we decided to go through the night. I am a better driver than passenger so after relinquishing the steering wheel for a three hour stint of my sister driving through a good portion of Virginia, I took back control of the wheel. Joey and I stayed up for the whole night getting into Atlanta around 6am on Saturday after leaving at noon on Friday.
  A summary of what I ate during the drive:
         3- foot long subs,
         2- 32oz gatorade, 
         2- 16 oz red bulls,
         2- 24 oz coffees,
         1- 16 oz water,
         2- 8 oz juice boxes,
         1- bag of salt and vinegar chips,
         1- 20 oz iced tea

When we got to Atlanta we immediately proceeded to IHOP where I ordered the 2-2-2 which includes two eggs, two pancakes and two sausages washed down with three refills of coffee. Suffice it to say, this was not going to be a training weekend.

Kevin and Joey

Marilyn and Danny downing oysters on the half shell

The moving boy: Andrew
We had time to kill before we could pick up Andrew's apartment keys so we explored the area. No offense to Andrew or Atlanta, but I was expecting his place to be either trashy or dangerous. However, instead his apartment was located across the street from a high-end shopping plaza and abutting an art museum and symphony hall.

Later I actually found out that his apartment is less than a quarter of a mile away from both the start and finish of the Atlanta marathon in October. Depending on how my summer goes, I may decide to forgo the Cape Cod Marathon and head down there.

After an incident with his futon breaking(possibly due to the weight of Danny's sprawling body), replacing it with a twin mini-futon, and having to have his apartment re-dry walled and painted while we were there, we were ready to head out and explore. We ended up finding this amazing seafood place less than a mile away from his place, drinking more than we should have, and sprinting all the way home in the pouring rain. A great way to start Andrew's time in Atlanta.

After breakfast the next morning and a brief drive to Stone Mountain, the largest exposed granite in the world, Joey, Marilyn and I started our drive home. After spotting Georgia's largest peach and flea market which as surprising as it may seem were not located at the same place.

Georgia's Largest Flea Market

The World's Largest Peach!
Our original intent was to make good time until Virginia then take a detour to either a vineyard or a short hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Unfortunately, all the vineyards were closed on Sundays and by the time we got to the Blue Ridge Parkway we were engulfed in a blizzard. Not of epic proportions but rather Virginia proportions. Which means a lot of inappropriate braking and driving 25mph where 55 would have been sufficient and the most cars off the road that I have ever seen. Suffice it to say our ride was somewhat delayed by this state although it was pretty amazing to be a part of a 3 inch blizzard.

After reaching West Virginia, the snow subsided as did our motivation to continue to drive. We evenly split the driving from that point forward and made it back to NH around six in the morning. A few hours of sleep before Amber came home from her swim to wake me up for a run. Which was needed after several days of no exercise beside the 3/4 mile run home from the seafood place.

A fun weekend all in all, spending it with loved ones and helping Drew start a new chapter of his life.

Speaking of new chapters, the first chapter of this year's New England Grand Prix, DH Jones 10 Miler, was the following week. Amber and I spent the night before the race at her parents and we headed out for the race early enough so we could get a nice warm-up in. The weather was being persnickety so I was struggling on my decision what to wear. I had gotten from Amber an awesome pair of Zoot shorts that I really wanted to wear but the wind gusts and temperature hovering around freezing finally won me over and I opted for tights, or rather capris, or rather Amber's tights that she cut into capris, or rather Amber's tights she cut into capris and then discarded and I stealthily picked up and decided would be a good idea to wear in public. In public with photographers no less. Oh well the decisions we make equal the cameras we break.

I had planned on going out at my New Bedford Half Marathon pace thinking that this was three miles less so I should be able to maintain the same pace. At about three miles as I reached the halfway mark of the first real climb of the day, I realized that was not going to happen. Not sure if it was a reflection of my last few weeks of poor mileage(17 and 21) or just the hills but I really struggled throughout the majority of the race. Not the best race that I've run but I was pleased that I placed first for the Gate City Striders, unfortunately that was 86th place overall. Amber had a better day running a very solid race in her new Zoot racers after a hard training day on the bike-finishing an amazing 8th place overall at a New England Grand Prix race.

Up Next: Winter Wild at Sunapee then the Belmont Casino on Saturday then the World Snowshoe Championships in Quebec on March 11th.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Kevin Castelot- A Tribute

 My cousin, Kevin, passed away on Tuesday at the age of twenty-two. 22!

In his short life he touched so many  lives and was a joy to be around. He could make a curmudgeon laugh. And I did many times. I will miss his bright smile, infectious laughter, warm heart and kind soul.  He could turn the most mundane situation into a fun one. A chore into an adventure.
My brothers, Andrew and Matt, Uncle Rick, cousins Bobby, Jimmy and KEVIN(far right)
 Kevin did not have a mean bone in his body and acted like you were the most important thing in his world. He brought nothing but love and joy to this world and he died too soon.
The Cousins: Danny, Mar, Ben, Will, Kevin, Bobby, Andrew, Jimmy, Joey and Matt

 But he doesn’t have to be gone. As each of us say goodbye to him in our own special way, let’s make a promise to him. Promise him that you will laugh a little louder, love with a little more of your heart, give your heart unconditionally to those around you, and live every moment as it may be your last. That’s Kevin’s greatest gift that he could have given us: to allow us to see how short life can be and how important it is to live it fully and joyfully.  If we can live our days a little more like Kevin lived his, we can keep his memory and his soul alive in each of us. So while I will miss him greatly, I know that he will be smiling down on us from up above. We love you Kevin.

Danny and Kevin playing baggo.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A month without snow...

A month without snow makes Danny something, something... Go Crazy?
Don't mind if I do!

This winter has been crazy. After getting excited about snowshoeing again after Whitaker Woods, and preparing for the fun Sidehiller Snowshoe race, we lost that loving feeling. Or at least the snow. Sidehiller, Beaver Brook and now Exeter have all be canceled. So not only have I not been getting the strength benefits of snowshoe racing, I'm also not getting the speed work of the racing in.
It will be interesting how this affects my spring races. I've decided to tailor back on all the early marathons this year, replacing them with more reasonable 10 mile races(DH Jones instead of Hyannis and Merrimack River instead of Gansett) and will focus on the Cleveland Marathon in May. Hopefully shorter but faster will carry over to long and fast by then. Once Cleveland is in the books, my sights will be on increasing the mileage for the Vermont 100 and Ironman Mont Tremblant so hopefully I will have increased my mileage while maintaining my speed.

Regardless of what my season turns out, it starting out as somewhat of a bummer due to the lack of snow and racing but it's been fun to stay local and have some free weekends. Amber and I will be going to San Diego in late March for California 70.3 so I am excited to see how all this trainer workout(as opposed to spin bike) improves her ride. I am expecting quite an improvement. So until then triathlon fans, you will have to either wait or join Am on the trainer. Unless this freakish weather continues then you may be able to see her outside.

May do the Fourth Down and Four(miler) tomorrow at NHTI since it's for a good cause and within 2 miles from home. Check it out so you can indulge during the SuperBowl.

And pray for snow on the trails(but off the roads).