Is summer really over?

It’s hard to believe that the kids are officially back in school this week.   Summer seems to get shorter and shorter every year.   The last post to this blog (which I am still not, obviously, in the habit of contributing to) was basically the beginning of summer so it seemed fitting to pick up at the end.   However short, it was, all in all, a pretty good summer.  Summer really started recovering from eye surgery.   I can no longer use the phrase “like sticking needles in my eye” as an analogy for anything painfully dreadful because it really wasn’t all that bad.   Out of commission for a little over a week seemed pretty darn reasonable to me.   Thanks Dr. Ho!   Once recovered, I did a lot of running, biking and swimming which is always a good thing – and that much of it was with my son, daughter and wife made it even better.

In late June, I manned another booth for Computrainer at the Philadelphia Triathlon Expo and managed to get in another long ride under my belt by cycling down to spectate the race.  The entire race weekend was an unfortunate one, however, with the confirmed death of a participant, Derek Valentino, in the sprint race.  A real tragedy.  As a coach, I am well aware that one of the most common fears for first-time and even relatively experienced triathletes is the swim.  I have certainly had to deal with my own “swim anxiety” issues over the years.   How often have I heard, “I’m only worried about the swim, I’ll be fine once I am on land….”?   How many times have I said to an athlete, “you’ll do fine in the swim, just stay relaxed and don’t start off too hard or fast”?  I am still confident in those words of comfort and encouragement but at the same time this tragedy is a reminder that there are always risks and that a little fear, or call it healthy respect, of inherent dangers is not unfounded.    For information about how to help the Valentino Family see and

June ended celebrating my dad’s 80th birthday.   July began with my turning 46.   I can’t say I feel even remotely close to what I thought 46 might feel like when I was 26.  I know “me at 26 or 30” would kick my butt today but I think I’d give “me at 36” a good race.  Some routine 4th of July activities included a couple 5k’s and fireworks.   The Iron Soldier’s Biathlon was next on our agenda.   This consists of an ocean swim – usually somewhere between .5 and 1 mile followed by a run  – usually between 3 and 4 miles.    Although I felt really good and tried my best, I still got whooped by my 16 yr old son and he’d only been swimming consistently for a couple of weeks!   This is a great event, for a great cause, that our good friend, Freddie Klevan, puts on every summer in Ocean City, NJ.  See for more information.

A few weeks later I got make a quick trip out to Colorado to check out the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike course.  Technically speaking, it didn’t seem that tough, even for a triathlete/road guy who dabbles in off-road occasionally.   However, from a sheer amount of climbing and altitude standpoint and realizing just how long 100+ miles on a mountain bike can be,  it is a beast of an event not to be taken lightly.   I was not surprised to see the number of athletes on the DNF list.  It did rekindle my love for off-road and got me riding my mountain bike again.   Stops in Vail, Leadville and Aspen, great company and mostly great weather made for very nice “business” trip.     Ok – I’ll say it – Colorado is awesome.   Not that I am knocking home in Pennsylvania but….  why we never moved to Colorado still escapes me.

Next stop was a trip to another one of those “most beautiful places in the US”, Lake Placid, for the Ironman where I had a few athletes competing.   My son joined me for this weekend and got to witness an Ironman for the first time since he was about 2 and 1/2 years old.   He’s a “runner” who happens to swim a little and bike a little but wouldn’t call himself a “triathlete”.   However, we did ride a loop of the bike course and swim a loop of the swim course.    His first responses were – “I thought this was supposed to be a hard and hilly bike course?” and “that was a lot more fun than swimming in the pool?” – followed by – “even though I am a runner, I think the run would be the hardest part of an Ironman” and then after the race, “I’m not going to do an Ironman unless I can do it in way less than 9 hours, more than that is much too long….”   For now, it’s back to training for Fall Cross Country…

Other summer fun included getting to several of the Philadelphia Independence women’s pro soccer games and a couple of Phillies games.    We didn’t do a “week at the beach” this summer but we did manage a few days in August and had some great weather.    We thought we would get in one more family mini vacation to visit friends in Boston but no such luck.   The  windows of opportunity began to close too quickly with soccer and cross country rolling into full steam in preparation for fall and school.

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