Thursday, December 25, 2014


It has been a long time again since I wrote anything.  With the new year coming I have decided to get back at it.  There are many exciting things in the works and in the coming days and months I am looking forward to sharing them.  Check back soon.

Friday, June 8, 2012

looking up

a little over three years ago i almost ran in front of a very large moving object…on purpose.  had my wife not been with me at the time there is a very good chance that it would have happened.  not a day has gone past that i haven't been thankful that she was there.  so many great events have happened and amazing people have crossed my path that the adversities and grief that led to that one moment have been put in a new perspective.  that is not to say that the events that had transpired mattered any less, just that i have found ways to cope and thrive within my times of difficulty.  rediscovering running has been an immense help.  it has given me destinations to keep moving toward and a sense of accomplishment.  focusing on the next workout or race keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by the long term goals and moves me in the right direction.  when i feel like i am stuck in a rut dragging the mail around day after day it is good to have something to snap me out of it.  most of the time going for a run does just that.  sometimes all i need to do is to look up when walking past a tree that i have gone by a thousand times before to get a different view.
occasionally i am reminded that not everyone has been as fortunate as i, to have the wife, daughter, family, and friends that i do, or have found ways to live with the intensity that life will throw at you.  about a month ago i ran in and won a half marathon.  you would assume that when i think of that day i would be happy.  instead i find myself thinking about how i later learned that while i was running my warm-up i passed within three homes of a young man who was taking his own life.  i did not know him.  i do not know anything about what his situation was like.  what i do know is that it is a terrible thing to feel like you can't live in this moment and the next one is unthinkable.  a life is made up of so many moments.  each one a little step to a bigger goal.  having been so close by, i wish that there was something that i could have done to change the outcome that day.  i know there wasn't anything i could have done but that doesn't stop me from feeling the way i do.  if you are reading this and you ever feel like life is too much to take, try to find solace in the fact that you are not alone.  this moment will pass and there will be another right behind it and then another and another.  get moving.  get out of the house.  call anyone.  don't let that one tiny moment be the one that defines you.  eventually something will happen that will make you glad you did.

Thank you Shannon for saving my life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wheels of Change

Roller Derby Is The Greatest Sport Ever. There, I said it. I am a runner and always will be. Even if I never take another stride for the rest of my life, that fact will never change. It isn't running that I regularly wake up having dreamt about. Well maybe I do, but I don't sit around on freezing cold floors just to watch other people get in their training miles. Unlike many runners I don't really care who ran what time. Don't get me wrong. I am pretty impressed with what people have been able to do and I intend to continue to push my running as far as I can take it. I love to run. Derby though…is a drug to which I find myself addicted and I don't even play. Maybe it is the team aspect that I find so appealing. Running, (specifically marathon training) no matter what way you slice it, will always be a solitary sport. My job usually leaves me with little to no interaction with other humans. When I am training I rarely run with anyone else. Most of the time the extent of my contact with other people is when I return home at the end of the workday and get to see my wife and daughter. What this equals is a lot of solo time. Solo time is good for thinking as I may have mentioned in an earlier post. Recently I was doing just that and thought that maybe the appeal of roller derby isn't actually the team aspect. Maybe it is because it is a sport (or at least it's current incarnation is) founded on passion and survives/thrives on the hard work of the people who participate. There are no big paychecks as of yet and only minor celebrities. It is not riddled with the drug scandals found in running or cycling. The cynic in me believes that there must be doping and there will always be some form of cheating but where's the motivation? It is an amateur sport fueled by camaraderie, the love of competition, and the sport itself, not a big payday. As a fan I can relate to these women and men. I see the sacrifices that need to be made to play as they juggle personal, professional, and home lives. The payoff is not a wad of cash but actually participation in the event itself. ROLLER DERBY IS PASSION AND PURE. That is why I think I can't get this sport out of my head. Professional establishments and athletes could learn a lot from roller derby. Until they do and change their ways you'll find me in the crash zone watching the only sport that really matters.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Most Valuable Slayer

Flexi Wheeler. What can you say about Flexi that hasn't already been said by Popular Mechanics (page 101) in September of 1984? …1984? That's right. In an article entitled "Flexi-wheeler to anywhere" it was written, "This eight wheeled monster does tricks that would turn lesser vehicles into wrecks." They weren't really talking about the woman that embodies the name "Flexi Wheeler" on the flat track roller derby circuit 26 years later, but definitely could have been. The one thing that doesn't really parallel in that statement is "monster." Sometimes larger than life, always outspoken, and a force to be reckoned with on the track, you either love Flexi or you don't, but monster?
Everyone has their moments and Flexi is no exception, but over the course of the last few years I have gotten to know Ms. Wheeler as a member of the Hellions of Troy Roller Derby League and found her to have quite the heart. She was the first Hellion I met when Shannon, aka Sonic Euthanizer, joined the team. I didn't know what to make of this woman skating around in next to nothing. I felt pretty intimidated. Look at the size of her muscles and then take a look at me. She could tear a scrawny runner like me in half. That intimidation disappeared as soon as she came over half way through the practice and introduced herself. "Hey your girl's gonna be pretty good," she said to me as she grabbed some water and took off another layer of clothing. We made our introductions and chatted a bit about the Hellions before she went back out on the floor. What struck me was, when she spoke of the team and the women of which it was comprised, was the passion that could be read in her voice. Over two years later I still hear that passion. She has big aspirations for the team that she helped to start. She has faith in her teammates, talks highly of them, and is eager to share her love of derby. I have seen her wear many hats, or should I say helmets (she has quite a few,) as a team member. Sponsorship, public relations, recruitment, coaching, fierce competitor; she has done it all at one point or another. Flexi Wheeler bleeds pink and green.
Last weekend (10/16) saw the Hellions hold their first ever intraleague bout that saw half the team as vampires and the other as zombies in the spirit of Halloween. Sonic was a vampire and Flexi a zombie. Both sides played pretty aggressive with neither side going easy on the other because they are teammates. They played as hard as they would if they were up against any other leagues team. In the second half of the bout the zombies got a break in what was an otherwise even match-up when Flexi had an impressive 20 point power jam. Those 20 points were the exact margin of victory for the zombies. It was great bout to watch and to see how much the team has grown in both size and ability and think back to that frosty winter day that I attended that first practice.
Later that evening, when making our rounds at the after party and saying our goodbyes, Shannon and I were speaking with Sinful Pleasures, who bench coached for the vampires, and Flexi about the bout and Shannon's new league (we recently moved too far away for her to continue to commute to Hellions practices.) As always Flexi showed nothing but support and excitement for Shannon. She congratulated her on being selected as MVP for the vampire team and wished her luck. Over the course of that conversation I learned that Flexi has never been selected as a bout MVP. It was a fact that had me a bit surprised. I realized that night on the drive home, after reflecting on the number of girls she has coached, played with, and inspired both on and off the rink, that she is an MVP. She is an MVP of the Hellions of Troy and for the sport of roller derby.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Can you dig it? (James Brown from Plattsburgh, NY, YOU are a Tinman!)

The human spirit is an amazing thing. I have, in my life, been witness to a few examples of just how strong someone's can be. Recently I was fortunate enough to make my way to Lake Placid to be a spectator/cheerleader for this year's installment of the Ironman. For those of you uninitiated in Ironman competition, it is a "race" of 140.6 miles broken down into a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle, and a 26.2 mile run. The word race is one I use lightly because for many of those who enter it is not so much a race as a matter of survival. I imagine that for the average person entering and preparing for this event can be quite daunting. For my friend James, who's deployment to Afghanistan left him little time to prepare, I can only think that this is a giant understatement. To make up for lost time and lack of experience (he had never swam as far in open water or run a marathon prior to the Ironman) he entered numerous events through out the spring and early summer to race himself into shape. After crashing or flatting on the bike portion of every race, his publicly stated goal was just to make it through the Ironman without any of the same problems. Add the lack of training/experience with the technical difficulties and I am sure, even if he never said it out loud, that he was more than a little apprehensive as the big day rapidly approached. When July 25th arrived, friends and family dispersed to different parts of the race course to cheer James along. Without giving a play by play I will just say that he made it through the swim comfortably and avoided any issues while on the bike leg. It seemed as if luck was on James' side that day. He was on pace for a good time and all of us who went to support his effort were pretty excited for him. In the excitement an unnamed person let it slip that his secret goal was to finish in under twelve hours. It seemed very doable as he transitioned into the run. He looked strong and comfortable. That illusion was soon shattered by a phone call from my dad who volunteers out on the run course with a groups of guys from the local ATV club. James was cramping in his legs pretty bad and his pace had dropped dramatically. We waited in town for him to reappear as the minutes ticked by. The coveted twelve hour mark was rapidly approaching. When I finally caught sight of him rounding onto the last hill that led onto Lake Placid's main drag he was sporting a grimace and his run was more of a hopping limp than a stride. I let loose with the supportive yelling from the sidelines. He could still make it but he would have to push past the pain and do so for the remaining few miles. My brother, his wife Rebecca, Seth, Shea, and Simon, his sons, and his parents all joined in. I don't think that there wasn't a person around who didn't hear us. When he passed we all made our way into the finishing area and waited again as time continued to slip away. My palms filled with sweat and my childhood wish for Jedi mind powers kicked into overdrive as I tried to mentally will his legs to keep moving. Just as I was beginning to fear that he wouldn't make it he came around the corner with a painful hitch and entered the finishing arena with less than two minutes to go. My brother and I screamed to the point of losing our voices and scared a few people in the process. He was going to do it. In the face of adversity he pushed on and dug deep inside himself to find the strength to continue. 11:59:03. Several weeks later when I think back I still get cold chills. James has, at several points, said that he could never have done it without all the support and that my brother, Matthew, and I were a big part of him reaching his goal. I don't agree though. Like the band America said, "Oz never gave nothin' to the Tinman that he didn't already have." I do agree with that. He always had it in him, he just needed to dig deep to find it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rise and Shine.

Life. A lot of ups and downs. Hopefully more ups. Lately, I just can't seem to shake the feeling that I am the fat kid on the see-saw. When someone comes along to finally buoy my weight, they jump off as I reach the top only to send me plummeting down to bruise my rear. I get just enough of the fresh air up above so that I get a sense of what I am missing as I choke down the dirt littered air kicked up by my fall. Yeah, yeah, I know, the grass is always greener on the other side. A good portion of the time I would agree. It is getting hard, though, not to notice the scorched yard at my feet. Heck, I don't even want to be on the other side. What I would like is a little organic compost and some water to liven up the sod or at the very least something to prop my end of the teeter-totter.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This Award Goes Out To…

It has been a long time again. I know. There has been a lot to write about but when it comes time to put pen to the pad there just isn’t the motivation. Don’t get me wrong. It is not everyday that the cutest, most perfect child in the history of the universe is born, but I would rather spend the time with her and Shannon than write what is most likely to be read by only a handful of people. So what is different about today? Well for starters they are both sleeping and I just got home from a run and don’t want to wake them. Shannon doesn’t get much sleep since Olivia was born (at home, drug free in case you were wondering.) The biggest reason is that I am 27 short hours from the start of what I feel is the most important race that I have ever run in my life. I’ve put in a lot of miles getting ready. I don’t remember being this on edge about competing since the day of the cross-country national qualifier race my senior year of college. That day I broke down in tears as I was doing my final strides before the start. The pressure I put on my self to do well, the work that it took to get to that moment, and the possibility that it could have been my last cross-country race finally became too much. I did okay that day. I probably would have not advanced on my own if the team hadn’t won and qualified as a group for nationals. The marathon, though a very individual event from an outsider’s viewpoint, is very much a team sport. That is why I am taking some time out of what little I have left to prepare to write this. I would like to thank the team of people that make what I am about to do possible. If I do not mention you please do not take offense. I value your encouragement and support more than you could know. I only have a little time and there are a number of individuals that I just could not have done this with out. So in no order of importance and with out further ado…

Mark Elmore. Your guidance, insight, patience, weekly workouts, and most importantly your friendship have been the foundation for this journey I find myself on after meeting you almost 25 years ago. I wish more people could feel your influence and your passion for our sport.

Shannon Drowne. You are my wife, best friend, and the best thing to ever happen to me. Your undying belief in me, and your support keep me going. I, more than anyone, know the sacrifices you make. I hope that I can do the same for you soon and make all your derby dreams come true.

Kashmire. My feline daughter (RIP,) I find strength in your memory. Whatever the outcome tomorrow, I feel it will still be a victory and I dedicate it in your honor. I miss you everyday.

Matthew Drowne. My little brother with a heart bigger than anyone I know. If Boston were at the South Pole you would be there. You are a better runner than me and I hope that some day soon we can show everyone what you can really do.

James Brown. I don’t know what I did to deserve a friend like you. You see something in me that I am not even sure I do. Thank you so very much for that. Now if only you believed me when I told you what I see in you. I wish you the best of luck in Lake Placid.

Daniel and Brenda Drowne. My parents. I can’t say enough. You make ridiculously long trips to catch a glimpse of me for 15-20 seconds. I can hear dad a half mile away. Everyone needs support like that. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Like an Academy Award winner giving an acceptance speech, I could go on until the guy behind the curtain cues the music and gets a well-dressed individual to escort my butt off the stage. Unfortunately I only have a little time left to get ready for the storm that is The Boston Marathon. I know that probably everyone reading this has already done so, but wish me luck. Boston here I come.