August 31, 2008

The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done

Last weekend, I did one of the hardest things I've had to do in my 46 years on this earth. Harder than finishing an Ironman, harder than finishing a 100 mile training ride, and harder than completing the last leg of a 13 hour adventure race. It was mentally tougher than getting out of bed on a rain soaked Thursday morning in order to get to the pool for a 3000 yard swim. It was more heart wrenching than anything I've witnessed or experienced in life. And with the all the highs of my life, there also have been many lows. So, what did I do? What did I experience?

I dropped my oldest daughter off at college.

My wife and I drove 700 miles on Thursday morning to South Bend, Indiana to deliver our oldest to the University of Notre Dame. It was with mixed feelings that our first child was moving into the next stage of her life. The "growth stage" when she will transition from a young, 18 year old high school graduate to a mature, when she's done, 21 year old, mature young woman. It's the first step towards leaving the nest forever and starting a life that will be called her own. As a parent, it was hard to let her go and do this necessary step in her life. But deep down we knew we had to. There is no choice but to let her go and blossom.

We moved her in on Friday, putting together furniture from Ikea, setting the room up and negotiating with her roommate on where the refridgerator should go. On Saturday we were back and forth to Target so many times, we would have won their frequent visitor award, if there was such a thing. Then on Sunday, my wife and I awoke and were noticeably quieter than in the past few days. We dressed, packed, checked out of the hotel and met our daughter at her dorm. We strolled around campus for awhile and then headed over to the Joyce Center for a Mass for all incoming freshmen and their families. When the Mass was over, it was time. We went back to her dorm and prepared ourselves for our ride back to New Jersey. And our final fairwell.

All I can say it was the hardest thing I've done so far as a parent. I won't say who cried (for fear of embarrassing myself). But I will say it was a very tough and long ride home. I felt like I had left part of my heart back in Indiana. And in many ways I did but it was a part that was ready to move forward, grow, mature and be the person she was meant to be.

All in the caring, loving family that is Notre Dame and for which we are very comfortble with in watching over our daughter.

August 16, 2008

Ranting About IM Sign Up

Ironman is getting too expensive and too hard for the average athlete to get into. As I explained earlier, we went to Lake Placid with the idea of doing a little training, watching the race and then signing up on Monday. We did all that. But to assure that we would get in, it was suggested that we volunteer at the race. The rumor was that the volunteers would be given first shot at getting in for 2009. And fueled by the fact that 2008 racers would be given the chance to sign up for 2009 on Saturday, we eagerly signed up to volunteer. Now, I enjoyed volunteering and would do it again even if I wasn't signing up for next year's race but it just seems that this race is getting to hard to experience. I don't like the idea of this year's racers getting the opportunity to sign up 2 days ealier. I also feel sorry for those who didn't volunteer and didn't get in. There had to be hundreds. And let's not even mention the poor suckers who were going on-line to try and sign up (which I did successfully for the 2006 race) and were shut out. Throw in jacked up hotel prices, 5 night minimums, $500+ entry fee's, training costs and.....whew! Somebody stop me. This sport is getting out of hand. But I love it and as long as my family and my knees support me, I'll keep doing it. It doesn't take away from all the obstacles that keep the common man either on the sideline or penniless after signing up but it is a great race and a fantastic experience.

Let's add more races, stop the Saturday sign up, cut the entry fee, get rid of, make it 3 or 4 night minimums at the hotels and make everyone witness the stinky, smelly and wet Men's transition tent at IM LP. Kidding on that last one!