Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Christmas means many things to many people:
 - Presents (finding the perfect one), parties (planning all the details to outdo last year), and of course Santa.   
 - Watered down greetings Merry Christmas -> Holidays -> Winter. Happy Winter??? 

 - Our attention is being taken away from Jesus, the reason we have to celebrate this season

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

The Bible story about the birth of our Savior is one that we know:  
Luke 2:1-20 (KJV) 
2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Let's look closer:

Why did Jesus come?
 - To become the savior to a fallen man, because WE want to be in charge of this life instead of following His plan for us
 - Gen 1:31 tells us that what God created was good, and that Adam and Eve (living in a "good" environment) had but one action to avoid (Gen 2:17).  We know the story: soon after there is the BAD of sin that entered into God's creation, caused by man, that ruined the relationship between God and man. 
- Romans 6:23 -  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Psalms 8:4 - What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Our God is a God of second chances!
Jesus is the Reason for the Season
How did Jesus come?
 - God left Heaven to become a man and take on the sin of each one of us (remember, He did not sin - only man has that capacity)
 - By the miracle of virgin birth (Gen 3:15 forshawdows the coming savior, as did many prophets in the Old Testament).  Note the differences between His virgin birth (Luke 1:31) and our own (Psalms 51:5)
 - He came to save the us that are born in sin 
-Psalms 51:3-4  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
 - In the OT, we read how people constantly fell into sin and away from God, then God judged them and punished their sin, but He always invited them back into a relationship with him.  This cycle continues today.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Who did Jesus come to save?
 - Salvation is offered to all who choose to accept the free gift of grace that only Jesus can offer:
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
****For this purpose, Jesus Christ was born on this earth – to save us from our sin and allow us to restore our relationship with God.  Like Adam and Eve, we do not need much prompting to make bad decisions - they almost seem to come with less of a fight as compared to making the "right" choice.
God: Absolute (love and holiness)         
(Offers the greatest gift - forgiveness of sins and everlasting life)

Man: Changing (sinful, never content)  
(Offers the latest fad - Tickle-Me Elmo, Kindle - will end up in ruin)

Jesus is the Reason for the Season
No gift can ever compare to the gift that we remember this day - God gave His son to me and you to be our Savior.  
- 2 Corinthians 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
But we have to decide if we want to receive this gift (His invitation is to all people, like a present under the tree.  Will you leave it there, unopened?). All other things in this world will fall short, because there is no way that we can come close to the superior gift that God has given to us.
1 Timothy 1:15 (KJV)  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
If Jesus was not born, then He would not have died on the cross for our sins, and He would not have risen again, a Resurrection that provides a victory of death and is the only means to restore our relationship to a loving and Holy God.
Jesus is the Reason for the Season!
Praise the Lord!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New England Masters 10K Championships

I completed my first 10K swim today in Coventry, Rhode Island, at the 5th annual Flat River Reservoir Champion's Challenge. There were just over 40 total participants swimming in either the 5K or 10K events, with a mix of folks donning wetsuits or not. I choose not to, and was happy since the water temp was a warm 68 degrees. Here is what the course looked like - essentially we started on the south end of the lake, swam north for 1 mile, then went east for 1/2 mile, round a buoy and back for 5K, with those doing the 10K make 2 laps.

I swam this loop twice to complete the 10K

The race was started shortly after 9am, with all swimmers entering the water together, but the USMS registered swimmers in the 10K race starting 5 seconds later (so that the results can be certified). I was in the later wave, and found that since the field was not large there was no problem getting out from the start and through the pack.

I found myself near the front after the first mile, and looked back as I did some backstroke to stretch out my shoulders and found that a pack of 4-5 folks were bunched in behind me. No one was really interested to take over the point, so I keep churning. After we made the first right to the short buoy our group broke up a bit and I stopped for some hydration from my kayaker, Bob, who made the trip down from Maine to paddle with me.

There I am, to the right, in front of the pod.

I settled into a grove behind 2-3 folks through the turnaround and for the next mile or so. After another hydration break, I finished the last 1/4 mile of the 5K. All of a sudden a swimmer was headed towards us - I though it was a late starter but Bob confirmed it was the lead guy going for his second lap. I caught up to the group at the starting buoy and was surprised that most of them finished for the 5K, while I turned around for the 10K! haha - I guess it helped to pace with them as my split was 1hr 18min and change.

My right calf cramped up at the turnaround, so I was slowed down a bit to stretch it out. I tried a blackberry goo shot, which was just plain gross. For the rest of the race my right leg was bothering me, but I decided to get in a cycle of 40 hard stokes followed by 100 long/strong. It worked well back to the 1 mile marker, but my goggles kept fogging up so I was hampered there. I increased my hydration to 20 minute intervals, and decided after the far turnaround to try some food. One fruit cup later, and the way to sweet cherries I knew that was a bad idea! I keep moving and was not able to gain much on a gentleman in front of me, or lose ground from the guy behind.

The last 1/4 mile was tough; my arms were shot, right leg bothering me, and I was starting to feel nauseous from my failed fielding attempts. Bob was a great encouragement as always, cheering my on to finish as strong as possible. I came in at an official time of 2 hours, 46 minutes, 12 seconds. Not to shabby for my first marathon distance swim. I was spent after the race, and even got sick, but we were treated to a great post-race lunch and a chocolate bar shaped like a swimmer as an award.

Bob wondered what I thought about during the swim. I employed some counting (forward and backward), but I used much of the time praying for family and friends and also reciting the books of the New Testament in order by book (my son had a test at school this week on these). The end of the swim was tough, but I found that by focusing on these, I was able to block out the pain and exhaustion that I was feeling. It took me about 15 minutes to start thinking clearly again and try something to eat (Bob was kind enough to give me a shoulder rub).

I will post the final results once they are available, but I was able to average 2.25 mph for the race. Ray Gandy and the folks in RI put on a great swim, where safety was the number one concern. There were four buoys dividing the lake, two jet skiers patrolling as well as some other boats, and every swimmer had a kayaker to keep an extra set of eyes on the water. In addition, we had a great feast set up after the swim and a really energized feeling from all of the racers, family/friends, and volunteers that came together to make this event happen.

I never swam more than a 500yd as an age-grouper, and after just 2 years back in the water I am trying these longer distances with the hopes of tackling the English Channel in the next 6 years or so. Time will tell on that, but I am very thankful that the Lord has blessed me with the ability to swim, and has surrounded me with a loving family and friends to encourage me, even though sometimes I think I might be crazier than they think I am!

A special thanks to my family for being so supportive, my buddy Bob who (and his family that let him) came to kayak for me, and for the Bible, because if it was not for reciting the order of the New Testament books I am not sure if I could have finished!  

Thoughts for next year ...

  • No fruit cups or Goo shots (must find a better eating strategy) 
  • Put in more pacing work, and longer swims leading up to the event
  • Get a new pair of goggles leading up to the event, to prevent the fogging issue
  • Try some Dramamine to see if the nausea stays away

Sunday, September 18, 2011

5k Down, and a Great Weekend

I had a great weekend with the family in the Catskills of New York. This was a great time to spend together as we celebrated Lena's birthday on Friday.

We were invited to join my good friend from college, Chris (who is also Preston's godfather), get married to his sweetheart Rachel.  The ceremony took place in a cozy Russian church, with a reception at a romantic, refurbished barn, where we danced the night away until the cows came home!  (their British friends last longer than yours truly)

We stayed both Friday and Saturday night at the Inn at Stone Ridge, a wonderful getaway that was convenient to the weekend's festivities. We enjoyed comfortable lodging and fantastic breakfasts to fuel our day.

Before leaving on Friday, I was able to hop in the pool for a workout. I focused on alternating distance sets (500 to 1000 yards each) with minimal rest, and was able to complete 5k in just over 1 hour and 24 minutes. This is half the distance I will be swimming next weekend, and given that I had some kicking sets the time was right where I hoped it would be. I will have another long swim tomorrow, then a lake swim on Wednesday, a regular swim Thursday, then off to the race this weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New England 10k swim in just two weeks!

After a successful 2.4 mileswim at the Peaks to Portland (Maine) in July, in which I swam without a wetsuit in 62-64 degree Atlantic Ocean water in a time of 49:54, I am now looking towards my first 6.2 mile swim on Sunday, 9/25, in Rhode Island.

Ray, the race coordinator, gave me a call last night and mentioned that 40+ folks are registered for either the 5K or 10K swims. I am going to be able to have my buddy Bob join me as my kayaker for the event, which I am really happy about.

I have been reading the Open Water forums at for helpful hints for this distance. I have had limited training this month due to Hurricane Irene pummeling Vermont. Our town had no main water supply for 7 days, and the Rec center where I train was closed for 2 weeks (one for yearly maintenance, the other since we had no water). Finally the major road traversing the southern border of Vermont, from Bennington to Brattelboro, was reopened this past weekend.

Today Lena and I traveled it on my motorcycle - totally different landscape with roads washed out and buildings gone. We were blessed to only have rain and wind at my home, so I thank God for his protection.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hit 100 miles today

My goal for this year is to swim 200 miles.  In 2010, I was able to accumulate just over 137 miles, based on the tool that US Master Swimming has on their website that lets you enter swim yardages and time in the water.  It also allows you to enter your workouts, so it is a really helpful record.

This year I set a goal a bit higher than my totals from last year in order to motivate myself to be more consistent about going to the pool.  I use swimming not only to help keep the pounds off, but it is a real stress reliever and I start to get a bit agitated when I am not able to get into the water for an extended period of time.

As of today, I am just over the half-way mark with my 1.5 mile swim before lunch.  101 miles is not too shabby!  I have been more diligent recently at working more intervals into my training as the Peaks to Portland event will take place in 3 weeks.  I am still not feeling as comfortable during the 30 minute swims I have been doing once weekly since the beginning of June, and the higher-intensity repetitions with a target time and short rest is really getting my lungs into shape.  At least I hope.

I am very thankful that I have a great pool to swim in just up the street from my home, and blessed with my wife and kids whom have been a great encouragement to my dive back into the swimming pool.  

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Virtual High School Welcomes You! Academics-Spotlights

Here is a wonderful presentation that my daughter worked on as part of a virtual high school class that she took. She has the same desire and drive to preserve the environment as her mom, and I am so proud of both of them!

Check it out under the technology heading, maybe on the second page of the project overviews:
     Virtual High School Welcomes You! Academics-Spotlights

Friday, May 13, 2011

GHO May 2011 Trip Prep #5

Hello, GHO Team –

The time has arrived!  In a few days we will be seeing each other in Managua.  Just a few last minute reminders before we go.  But first, here are the weekly prayer reminders….

Prayer items for the week of May 10th-May 14th:

·         Please keep praying for Rolando and our National team in Nicaragua.  They are a vital link in our ministry there, and it is most important that we pray for strength and encouragement for them right now.
·         Pray that all the traveling will go smoothly (for some the trip starts in about 48 hours, on Friday afternoon).
·         Pray for Mark Davis and Ron Brown, who will be preaching in our two church services on Sunday and Wednesday nights.

·        Thanks for sending in your blurb – I think we have heard from just about everyone, and it’s been great to get to know you better before the trip.

·       For our trip this year, please forward the following link to all of your friends and prayer team members:
(I am still setting some of the parameters up, but I think you can get a sense of how it will look – please be sure not to forward the “april2010” link)

·        Again, we are still short children’s and adults vitamins; if you can bring any of either in your suitcases I am sure we can use them.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

GHO May 2011 Trip Prep #4

Hello, GHO Team –

Just 11 more days!  I hope you are as excited as I am about what lies ahead.  This week’s note is directed toward practical matters and getting to know each other a little better.  But first, here are the….

Prayer items for the week of May 3rd-May 9th:

·         Continue to pray for Rolando and the final detailed planning he is doing for our trip.  I know he would really appreciate your prayers right now.
·         Pray that the Lord will make His way straight before us (Psalm 5:8).
·         Pray that each team member will know exactly what to say to each person they interact with on the trip (Col 4:4-6).
·         Pray for those on the team still collecting the remaining funding needed for the trip.

·        Now is a good time to locate your passport, have your travel itinerary with it ( review it) , and make sure your loved ones have the phone numbers of how you can be reached.  These phone #'s are on the back of your name tag (in your soon to come care package).

·        Here are a few optional things to consider bringing along, they may not have been included in the packing checklist previously sent (thought be sure to review that list when you pack):
o   Single serving drink mix packets, that you can add to drinking water bottles that you will be given each day.
o   A small gift or two for someone special you get to know during the trip (a translator, local pastor, local church worker, etc.)  Do know that the Kingsport and Raleigh groups and Kitty Davis will be bringing small gifts for the pastors, translators, and Nicaraguan staff, to be able to efficiently (and equally) recognize them.
o   Single dollar bills - a little bulky but much easier to use at the market, souvenir shops.
o   Some fun things for the kids you will encounter - ""blow" bubbles and wands, Nerf balls or Frisbees, balloons (especially those you can form into shapes), coloring books/crayons (small packages), sugar free gum, (to be discretely handed out one stick at a time) or individually wrapped hard candy (again to be managed discretely to avoid creating chaos) - our dentist would prefer sugar free!
o   Photos of your family to show and give away.
o   If you have access to small Spanish testaments and can bring them, these are nice to give those you have opportunity to minister to in Nicaragua.
o   Several small bottles of antibacterial gel (be sure and pack in your suitcases).
o   A small "comfort food from home" item to save as a treat for during the trip (a favorite candy, snack, etc.).
o   A few empty plastic grocery bags (these often come in handy for all sorts of situations).

Monday, April 25, 2011

GHO May 2011 Trip Prep #3

Hello, GHO Team –

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend.  We now turn our attention to what lies just 19 days ahead!:

·         Pray for Rolando and the final detailed planning he is doing for our trip.  Satan is quite opposed to the work we are doing in Nicaragua, and Rolando needs prayers for wisdom, protection and victory.
·         Pray for the Local pastors and their spouses that Mark Davis and his mother Kitty Davis will be ministering to at pastor’s conference - that they will be encouraged, refreshed, and renewed both in their marriages and in their ministry as pastors.
·         Pray for the national doctors we will be working with - that we can bond with them quickly and minister to them and through them effectively.

·        ·        During the week we will be staying in Matagalpa, with plans to be in the Praderas hotel.  I was not able to find a whole lot about the Praderas hotel on the internet, but if you have time please do a little on-line research on Matagalpa, as it is a very interesting place.

·        Reminder – please be enlisting a prayer team of 10-15 faithful intercessors to begin praying specifically for you and our team.   Themes for intercessors prayer include:   Team unity, favor with the local officials, responsive hearts from the patients, a strong national team of pastors to complement our efforts, as they lead in the evangelism and discipleship follow up, national doctors who will partner with us, team health & protection,  a servant heart, teachable spirit, and flexible attitude.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

GHO May 2011 Trip Prep #3

From Jeff Presley (Our group leader) Hello, GHO Team –

Sorry for not getting this note off to you sooner – it’s been a little chaotic around here lately. I hope that this week is one of renewed hope and wonder for all of you as we approach Good Friday and Easter morning. I pray that God will fill you with His joy as you celebrate Christ’s resurrection, and that we will in turn share that same joy with the folks we are about to meet in Nicaragua.

This will be an abbreviated update, though we are just 24 days away from heading out….. 

· Pray for Matt Overley (trip Medical Director), for wisdom as he oversees the medical component of our trip and as he prepares Continuing Medical Education (CME) for the team.

· Pray that trip expenses for all team members will come in on time, and that we will all clearly see God’s hand in His provision for us in this way.

· Pray for the translators we will be working with - that we can bond with them quickly and minister to them and through them effectively.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

GHO May 2011 Trip Prep #2

Here is some information from an email from Jeff Presley, our group leader, regarding the upcoming medical missions trip that I will be going on with my son, Preston, in May.  I will be posting the prayer points for the trip here - please let me know if you would like more information about this trip or how you can become involved with this ministry.

Hello, GHO Team –

Hope you had a good week! We will be leaving 4 weeks from Saturday, and things continue to fall into place. I have heard some neat stories on fundraising; keep praying for each other in this area. On a sadder note, one of our dental team members, Grace Chung (from the UK) has had to back out of the trip; she was trying to do back to back trips and she was not able to do both. She will get to head to Honduras with a GHO team - do pray for her and her team on their trip in May.

Prayer items for the week of April 11-17:

· Pray for Mark Davis (trip pastor) and the planning/preparation work he is doing for the trip.
· Pray for the health and strength of the team members leading up to, during, and after the trip.
· Pray for the people of Matasanos, Nicaragua - that the medical mission in May will minister to them physically and spiritually.

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Ride of the Season

I was able to take advantage of the beautiful day today and get the bike out of the garage.  I took a 50 mile ride through Shaftsbury, over to White Creek, through Hoosick and down to Pownal on 346 before heading home.  The roads were in good shape, and I was pretty cautious with some of the gravel and frost heaves out there.

I made an unfortunate discovery - a mouse that was hanging out in the garage decided to make it's way into the saddlebag and eat a few holes into my rain pants!  I am on the lookout for some black duct tape to seal them up for now; Lena might be able to sew them back together...  Lesson learned - move my motorcycle items to storage over the winter next year!

Looking forward to more rides as the weather improves and more of my buddies get out on the road.  Yet again I want to get the guys and gals out for lunch - maybe that will happen this year ...

Be safe, and remember to LOOK TWICE FOR MOTORCYCLES !

"Luckenbach" - 1997 Yamaha Royal Star

Monday, April 04, 2011

GHO May 2011 Trip Prep #1

Here is some information from an email from Jeff Presley, our group leader, regarding the upcoming medical missions trip that I will be going on with my son, Preston, in May.  I will be posting the prayer points for the trip here - please let me know if you would like more information about this trip or how you can become involved with this ministry.

Hello, GHO Team –

As of April 4th, we will be forty days away from flying to Managua to serve in whatever ways God has prepared for us (Eph. 2:10). Forty days was a significant time period in the Bible, and I would like to think these next forty days for us will be most significant for us as we prepare our hearts and minds for His service. Let’s be very purposeful to pray these next forty days for God’s blessing on the trip, for each other, and for the people we will be ministering to and those ministering with us (Nicaragua GOH staff, translators, and the local church pastors and church members). I will be asking you to pray for different things each week between now and May 14th; for the week of April 4-10 please pray:

· For Rolando Castillo and the planning/preparation work he is doing for the trip
· For the trip funding for all of the team members
· For the team members to prepare spiritually for this trip, “setting aside every encumbrance” and to begin the “race set before us” (Heb. 12:1)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Final Results: 2011NEM SCY Championships

So I was able to get these results and splits from the website after the race.  I am really happy that folks were praying for our travels and safety during the trip, and quite a few have commented that they were able to watch some of the events online.

Throughout the weekend I was thinking of my coworkers husband, Al, who passed away earlier in the week. I told Pat that I was "Swimming 4 Al" at Harvard, and was thankful to be able to put together some fast times and bring home some awards at my first championship meet in over 15 years.  I am really blessed that my wife and kids got me motivated to swim again with the gift of the music player just two years ago.  I've been able to lose some weight, trim up (a little - Emma still thinks I do not look that great in the Speedo - haha), and feel more energetic.  I also have had a great time meeting people from the Bennington area during practices and beyond at the meets - I would not have guessed as a teenager that I would have the opportunity to swim competitively as an adult.

I am planning to take a week or two easy, then gear up for the open water season this summer.  Peaks to Portland is definitely on the radar, along with a longer lake swim or two.  All depends on work and what the family has going on.  Who knows, I have never swum long course meters, and the championships for that are at the end of June in Middlebury.  Will this be the year I take a swim at LCM?

Final Results:

Men 30-34 year age group:

     Friday (3/18/11)
3rd place - 100yd Freestyle:      52.60 - splits: 25.29, 52.60(27.31)

3rd place - 100yd Backstroke:    59.62 - splits: 29.58, 59.62(30.04)

     Saturday (3/19/11)
3rd place - 50yd Backstroke:        27.76

13th place - 100yd IM:           1:03.18 - splits: 27.84, 1:03.18(35.34) 

     Sunday  (3/20/11)
6th place - 200yd Freestyle:     1:57.19 - splits: 
26.45, 56.04(29.59), 1:26.53(30.49), 1:57.19(30.66)

1st place - 200yd Backstroke:  2:11.88 - splits:
31.71, 1:05.75(34.04), 1:39.25(33.50), 2:11.88(32.63)

The Benninginton Area Masters (BAM) team (of one) finished:
     4th out of 14 in the Squad Division (Men's results)
     7th out of 17 in the Squad Division (Combined results)

Let me paraphrase Eric Liddell from Chariots of Fire: 
"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I swim I feel His pleasure."

I am certainly not the fastest, but I do feel that when I swim I am using a gift that He gave to me.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Recap: NEM Championships

As you can probably guess, Sunday started off with some waffles and other treats at the hotel.  We got packed up and checked out, then headed over to the pool for the final day of competition.  It was funny seeing Lena's reaction to the chlorine - thinking back to seeing her with Emma so many years ago was a real trip.  She still is not a fan of the humid (and stinky) environment at the pool.

I got in a good warm up and then prepared for the 200yard Freestyle.  I was hoping to get under 1:59.00 for the race, and was fortunate to get seeded into lane one (12th overall in my age group) .  I like being there - it is on the far end of the pool, so there are fewer distractions from the people lined up on the deck.  Also, there is a good sight at the rest of the swimmers, if you are able to get ahead.   Knowing that the 200yard Backstroke was to come, but in a while, I decided to go hard for this swim.

I had a good start and felt in control during the first 50, and was able to get out ahead of the pack.  I usually try to build the second 50, but just keep a strong tempo going as I hit the wall at the halfway point.  I then went all out for the third 50, remembering to lengthen my stoke and also settle into a 3-2-3-2 breathing pattern.  I had a slow turn as I started the final 50, but kept swimming hard.  I finished first in the heat with a time of 1:57.19, and took 3rd in the age group!  My splits confirm how I swam - the second 100 was even split, but I could have picked up the pace a tad more on the second fifty.

After a warm down and having Lena and Preston join me on deck to collect the medal and sticker for my paper, we considered what to do next.  I walked with them to the other side of the Anderson Bridge, but decided against walking into Harvard with them as it was a bit windy (again) and my legs were feeling tired from the first swim and the last two days worth of competition.  I wondered back to the pool and vegged out, watching for the best way to incorporate a dolphin kick into the breaststroke pullout, and then warmed up when the 200 Back approached.

I had fun cheering for the Cape Codders that swam before me, and even met up with Dan from the Pittsfield meet (he ended up getting the individual high point award for the men.  My goal for the back was to even split, and I was hoping to go under 2:10.  I had not swum the event in a meet this year, and still was not really feeling like my stroke was where it needs to be, so I figured an even split for the race and strong swim for the final event of the meet was the best way to go.

I started in lane 7, and was a bit worried about being so close to the edge of the pool.  I had a good start (for me) and felt good on the first 50.  I remember working the dolphin kicks off the walls and trying to stay in control  of the race.  I was swimming with the guys in lane 6, and as we came into the halfway point of the race, I was praying that they all went out a lot quicker than me and would soon die off.  That did not happen! haha  I got some encouragement from the Codders on both ends of the pool, and went as fast as possible on the third 50.  I kept chugging, with my arms and legs aching as I started the last 50.  The last turn was horrible, as I came to close into the wall and my legs did not want to push off!  The pain!!!  I was able to get away and finish the race just behind the guy in lane 6, with a time of 2:11.88.

I was hurting after that race, and had a tough time getting out of the water.  I have not been in that much pain in a while, and even cried a bit in the warm down pool.  Who says I am not sensitive?  haha  I took a shower and checked the scores table before heading up to the bleachers.  I was supper surprised with the final placing - I took first for my age group!  I could hardly believe it!  The family and everyone in the stands were excited too!

After a stop in the bathroom and then a drink from the concession stand, we made our way over to the Business School and loaded into the car for the ride home.  The long weekend was over, and it felt good to swim at Harvard again.  The pool is so fast, and I love spending time in Boston.  I think that the everyone had a good time - I know that Emma and Madison took in almost all of the sights, and Lena and Preston had some exciting adventures in the city.  It was great to see Pat, too!

Next year I will be at the top of the age group, and I am thinking of swimming more events during the weekend.  I know that God has helped me to swim as fast as I have been with limited training (in comparison with my high school days), but I was sure beat after such a long meet!  I plan to learn more about tapering and also making sure to be more consistent with training this year, and might even attempt to travel to Nationals depending on how busy our lives are next year.  For now, I'll just keep having fun with swimming ...

Saturday Recap: NEM Championships

Saturday morning started off much like Friday - headed to the breakfast with the family and enjoyed another Belgian waffle.  Mmmm. With the plans to meet up with Aunt Pat, I decided to drive to the pool today and pay the $5 charge to park across the street at the Harvard Business School lot, instead of the $10 it costs at the stadium, which is only a two minute shorter walk.  I am pleasantly surprised how well I can still navigate the streets of Cambridge after all these years - Lena still does not think I "navigate" all that well but I can get to the final desitination in one piece.

I was able to meet Pat almost as soon as I sat down in the bleachers - she took the T into the Square and walked over to the pool.  It was great to see her, like the good old days many moons ago when she would join my mom and dad and they would be cheering on my siblings and me.  I introduced Pat to Jim and then slipped away to warm up in the big pool.  After returning, Pat shared with me the recent news that caffeine has been 'proven' to boost performance, not just the anecdotal accounts that many people have after having a cup of joe.  She treated me to a cup of Dunkin (yep, even swimmers run on in) and we talked about life in general and the fun of pharmacy.

I was a bit disappointed that my events for the day were the 50yd Backstroke and the 100yd I.M.  I have never been the best sprinter due to a lackluster start and feeling like I need more than two lengths to get up to full speed, and the I entered the I.M. so that I had a second event to swim (and I didn't feel like waiting until the last event of the day, the 50yd Freestyle).  Pat gave me some good encouragement as checked out the heat sheets for the backstroke, which was nice.

I again cheered on the Codders in the backstroke events from the deck.  Patty swam really well, despite hitting the lane line three times - it has happened to me before as well: you hit the blasted thing once, and then it keeps calling you back for more punishment like there is a magnet attached to you.  She was happy with her time despite this, so that was good.  I hopped into heat 17, lane 3 when my time was up; the start was ok and I again focused on the dolphin kick at the start.  I felt like I had good shoulder rotation and a strong turn the first length, but was very surprised how easy the second lap felt.  I was riding much higher in the water for the first time in a long time, and had a good lunge to the wall to finish second in my heat.  I was seeded 5th going into the event and did not expect to place much higher, but my time was one second faster than my seed and I  finished the race with yet another bronze medal!

Pat was really pumped about the placing, and then the folks from the Cape started asking if I was going to get any medal other than bronze!  I said that I like that color better, and laughed as Pat and I grabbed a slice of pizza and sat outside, near the basketball court, to take in the cool, windy day.  It was really sunny yesterday, but just overcast today.  

After vegging for a bit back in the stands, I went down to the pool deck to get ready for the Individual Medley.  I swam this at the Frammingham meet a few weeks ago, so my seed time was accurate and I figured I would just sprint the first to legs of the event (Butterfly and Backstroke), then try to survive the Breaststroke before laying it all out in the Freestyle on the last length.  I was seeded in 15 place so I figured my bronze streak would end here.  And it did! haha   After mortifying Emma (due to my very skimpy Speedo - haha), I had a good start and swam a fast 50yds to start.  I was so worried about the 'legal' way to incorporate a single dolphin kick during the pullout of the breaststroke that I forgot to do it, then just powered home to finish a very surprising 13th overall in my age group!

We all loaded into the van and headed back to the hotel.  It was neat driving by the different buildings and art installations on the M.I.T. campus - wild stuff.  Lena was thinking of making dinner in, but Pat was looking forward to a celebratory dinner out on the town.  A short detour for Preston to check out a store, and we wound our way through the construction and traffic to the Government Center area for a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Expecting a long wait, we actually got to a table in less than two minutes, and then had a great meal and conversation.  Pat was nice enough to cover the supper (and the parking - thanks, Pat!), and headed off to the T on her way home as we wondered around Quincey Market. Emma and Madison made plans to watch a laser show at the science museum - I was feeling really tired and did not have the gumption to take it in.  Lena, Preston and I headed back to the hotel and relaxed before the final day of events.

Click there for:   Meet Results 

I have to praise to Jesus for the ability to swim this well again after such a 15 year break from competitive swimming.

Friday Recap: NEM SCY Championship Meet

I worked long days (12 hours) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday leading up to the meet.  After getting out of work I helped the kids load up our van and we waited for Lena to get home from school.  We left our home around 9:30pm for our hotel in Boston.  A quick stop in Greenfield, Mass, helped us to complete the three hour drive to the Residence Inn in Cambridge, adjcent to the MIT campus and Kendall Square.  After getting checked into the room and then parking the car, it was close to 1:30am before I was able to get to sleep.

Going into the meet, I decided to swim two event each day, as I was not sure about the rest I would be getting between swims.  Although everyone told me that it would take all day, I was a bit wary due to the fact that in the two mini-meets I swam this winter I had swam four events in the course of 1-2 hours, and was really tired!  I picked my strong events (all the backstrokes), plus added the 100 and 200 freestyle races with a 100 IM kicker - boy, do I loathe breaststroke!

I woke up around 8am Friday morning and went to breakfast that the hotel with the family.  Residence Inn has a lot of choices (hot and cold buffet, with Belgian waffle maker) and I was able to get a good variety of fruits as well, even taking some to snack on at the pool.  I returned to the room and finished packing, then headed to the T stop down the block to ride to the Harvard Square stop and walk the five minutes or so to the Blodgett Pool across the Charles River.  I was able to help an elderly guy buy a ticket for the train (apparently he had a birthday a week before so his Charlie Card was not working properly), and talked with him on the ride to the Square.  Upon entering the pool building, not much had changed since my last meet there in 1996.  I just so happened to run into my buddy from the Cape Cod team, Jim, as I headed up the stairs past the concession stand to round the corner into the spectator area -- remember that I met Jim at my first meet at Simon's Rock and he said all along I could hang out with the Codders at Harvard if no one else from Bennington came. 

After getting changed we headed down for a warm up swim at the far end of the pool while the 500 freestyle event was still going on.  I checked in on deck for my two events of the day before getting into the water.  I swam my usual 1200 yard warmup, then walked to the competition pool for sprints from the blocks during the 15-minute period that it opened up after the 500's completed.  I then went back to sit and watch the swimming before my first event of the day, the 100 Free, and was joined by my lovely daughter Emma and her boyfriend Maddison.

(Let me note here that I swam the same 1200 warm up every day, which comprised of 200 yards each free, back, then fly/breast drills, 4 x 50 yard kicking, 4 x 50 yard drills, and then 200 easy.  I also hopped into the water before each event, swimming 100 yards easy, focusing on the stroke for the upcoming event, and then I  stretched out with 200 yards of relaxed swimming after each event.  Pretty standard (and boring) for me, even from when I was in high school.)

The 100 Free went quick, as I was swimming out in lane one in heat 15.  I had a good start and went into my usual 100yd swim strategy of long and strong the first length, build the second length to be sprinting into the wall, all out on the third length, and keeping the reach long and rotation fast on the final lap.  My turns were ok, but a little too close each time.  Overall, I swam well, winning my heat with a time of 52.60 and placing a surprising 3rd overall in my age group (I was seeded 12th).

The 100 Back was the second and my final event for the day.  I enjoyed watching the Codders swim before me, then got to business for my swim.  I started in lane three of heat 13.  My starts lack much, and I tried to compensate with a longer than normal dolphin kick.  I followed my regular strategy, but I have not felt efficient in the back at all this season.  I am sitting lower in the water than I used to, due to 15 years and 25 pounds no doubt!  I have been working on adjusting my head position in the water as well as getting a better shoulder rotation, but still just not feeling like everything is clicking just yet.  Finished under a minute again, 59.62, earning my second 3rd medal.

A quick warmdown and I walked back to the T in Harvard Square and caught a ride to our hotel.  It was a warm and sunny afternoon, so I took a walk with Lena and Preston down to the Charles River, and we walked along the path on the north side of the river as folks jogged and biked by us.  It is so neat to see the city from foot, away from the hustle of driving around the city, and walking under the Longfellow Bridge and back to the hotel though Kendall Square.  As we got back, Emma and Madison met up with us, and Lena made a wonderful pasta supper in the room, and then the kids headed down the road to get some ice cream.  I was really tired, and got to bed early to rest up for Saturday's event's to come (including a visit from Aunt Pat!).

I have to praise to Jesus for the ability to swim this well again after such a 15 year break from competitive swimming.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hit 50 Miles Today

I swam with the local Masters group this morning. Lots more swimmers in the pool as the triathletes are starting to get back into the water. Nice to see more than the usual handful of faithful hitting the water.

I have been doing my best to taper for the big New England championship meet at Harvard this coming weekend, so I swam the posted workout instead of my own (main set courtesy of Meg and Jill with the BAM), adding a longer warm up and some extra pulling at the end. Here is what it looked like ...

800 w/u (200 Free, Back, Fly/Breast drill)

Main set:
4 x 75 on 1:30 (sprint middle lap, target time for me was :45 seconds)
1 x 300 on 4:30 (work long and strong strokes and bilateral breathing)

2 x 150 pull (free then back)

100 w/d
(total: 3000 yards in just over an hour)

This workout got me to the 50 mile mark through the USMS fitness log. I do not count any dry-land/running time with this log, just straight swimming. Trying to get into the water 2-3 days a week, usually for an hour at a time.

Keep swimming long and strong, and looking forward to SCY championships in just one week!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcome to the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation Web Site

Welcome to the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation Web Site

It is with great relief and humble excitemtent that I received today in the mail a letter from VSAC, the main college lender in Vermont. I started my college loan repayments in December of 2001, and thanks to focused repayment and a new plan that my beloved, Lena, came up with a few years ago, I am now student loan dept free!

We were able to pay off the loan well before we were scheduled to (in under ten years, I might add), and I praise God for his providing for my education and also the repayment thereof.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Final Results: 2011 Metrowest YMCA Valentine's Love To Swim Master' Classic

This was a great meet in Framingham, MA. I swam with the the Bennington Masters in the morning, an 1800 yard workout, then drove the 2 hours to Framingham with my son Preston for the afternoon meet. I ran into Jim from Cape Cod, and while in the stands a guy asked me which Marauders I was from. After a short talk, we realized that I used to coach Matt when he was 10 years old and living the Bennington area! How cool is

The meet went quickly, and Matt swam the push-pull race with me, in which he grabbed my ankles and kicked as I pulled the first length, then we traded spots on the way back.  We had the winning time and got ribbons and some treats.

My results are below - it felt good to get below one minute in the 100yard Backstroke, which was my goal for the day.  The two freestyle events felt really quick, too - overall a great time, and it was nice to be able to drive home that evening and avoid paying any hotel charges.  I plan to head back again next year to this competitive but fun meet..

MetroWest YMCA Masters Meet (2/19/11)

Men's Results:          Seed       Finals
Men 30-34 50 Yard Freestyle
  1  Leake, Michael      26.30       24.37
Men 30-34 100 Yard Freestyle
  1  Leake, Michael      58.95       53.45
Men 30-34 100 Yard Backstroke
  1  Leake, Michael    1:02.90       59.45
Men 30-34 100 Yard Individual Medley
  1  Leake, Michael    1:07.10     1:04.06   

Friday, February 04, 2011

I can finally see again in the water!

After two years of actively getting back into the pool, I have decided to buy some more equipment to help with my training.  I picked up a pair of pull buoys since the pair I use at the Rec Center are often taken, and I also bought some more tubing to replace my worn out ones for my hand paddles.

I also made some apparel purchases as well.  I had finally given up on the old Speedo Bikini trunks when I started back and moved to the square-leg style suits.  My trusty green mesh have seen me through many laps and still has held on to its color, but I made the splash to a pair of jammers (think bicycle shorts for swimmers).  Actually two pairs.  The main one that I will be using is made by Dolphin and has a special chlorine blocking material to help it hold up to the chemicals I jump into three to four times weekly.  I also picked up a suit by Speedo that will be used for competitions - not a tech suit but also not made from polyester like the Dolphin.

The coolest thing that I got was the pair of goggles below.  I have two pairs that work fine, but since I do not have my glasses on in the water I am practically blind!  I am always asking for the workout details or what time on the clock we need to leave for the next set.  I have tossed the idea around of getting a pair from the local glasses shop, but the cost is over $100 for individualized glasses.  It just so happened that I came across these need specs from Kiefer that allow me to see again!  They cost under $20, and you have to get the same strength on both sides - although me left eye is a bit worse than my right, the -4.5 diopter pair allows me to see again in the water!  I can now look at the workout board for the next set without disturbing my lane mates, and stun them by leaving on the correct intervals!

The one downside that I am getting used to is the fact that I see a little too well when I approach the wall for flip turns.  The last 2-3 yards get blurry so I have been working to time my turns better.  I am still deciding if I will use the optical goggles in meets or just for practices.  I used the "mint madness" goggles my twiny Jillsey gifted to me a few years ago - I will try out the possibilities when I swim again in the middle of February.  Other than that, I can now mean it when I say I will see you at the pool soon!

Don't Be Like Mike

My photo
Thankful that God has granted me a second chance (quite a few, actually) through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love the Lord, my family, and enjoy endless laps of swimming and circles on a motorcycle. Follow Jesus.