Sunday, January 23, 2011


Last Friday, Jan 14-Monday Jan 17th I went to Naples, FL for a long weekend.  I went for many reasons but the big ones were to run the Naples News Half Marathon with Mark, to see Mark, Sue and Mark's dad Jim (which is where we stayed) and to see my Godfather Brent and see his house and hang with him for a day.  So needless to say, lots of really good reasons to go to Florida in January.  Oh yeah, and because Florida is the only state without snow and here in Buffalo it's always snowing, everyday, sometimes multiple times in a day.  I didn't take my shorts off the whole trip!  It was awesome.  

I flew in early Friday morning and Brent picked me up at the airport.  One slight miss-hap getting off the plane.  A person on our plane couldn't wait 3 hours to smoke and was caught smoking in the bathroom on the plane.  So a man in a haz-mat suit had to check out the plane and the police and eventually the FBI had to have a fun visit with this man.  Federal offense.  Dumb idea.  Anyway.  Other than that the flight was great.  I highly recommend Jet Blue to fly with.  Brent and I headed to his house, I met his friend Jim and then we headed to the beach.  And oh was the beach beautiful.  White sand, lots of shells to pick, beautiful (but cold) water. 

Back of Brent's house

Barefoot Beach (Gulf of Mexico)


Barefoot Beach


We did a little more sightseeing and then headed to Jim's house.  Where I met this pretty lady.  Trudy.  Trudy and I became good friends over the few days I was there.  She's a sweetie.


Saturday Mark and I went running, in shorts, and then went and picked up our packets and did a little sightseeing. After lunch we hit the beach.

Beach with Condos in the distance

More condos in a pass



Sunday was the race.  Mark and I ran together, both with colds but we made it.  It was funny to see all the natives there with jackets and long sleeves and even some gloves and hats.  Mark and I had on sleeveless shirts and shorts.  Funny!  The race was very well run, there were about 2,000 runners and the course weaves though the "high rent district" of Naples.  Some major money where we ran.  Beautiful homes.  We even had a priest bless us, twice, on the race course.  A very nice race and one we hope to do again and hopefully feel better.  The rest of the day we just relaxed at the beach. 

Monday, Mark and I went running on the beach.  Past some beautiful beach homes.

And picked some shells.  It rained pretty much the rest of the day so we did a little shopping and hit the Naples Pier.  This pier has been rebuilt year after year when it gets knocked out from a hurricane.  We also saw some people wind surfing since there were actually waves.  Cool stuff!

Wind Surfing

Naples Pier

Naples Pier

And a great way to end the trip.  A rainbow over the lake outside Jim's house.  (On the left is a key lime tree.  Awesome key lime pie was made as well!)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Today is a very special day for Asher and I.  5 years ago today, Asher came to live with me.  I struggle a bit to write this post.  It's not because I don't have anything to say about Asher, I just don't want to come across sounding too sappy, but really when you break it down into simple words, Asher is my best friend and the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Sappy or not, dog or not, he really truly is.  Now for the story for those of you that don't already know: 

Asher came to me out of total happenstance, which is how most things happen in my life.  I was planning to get a standard poodle puppy in the near future so a 2.5 year old dog was not even in my mindset.  Well plans changed a bit with that.  On December 31st, 2005 a group of us went to my friend Shanna's house to do a New Year's Eve Day group indoor ride.  We get there and find out that her standard poodle puppy ran away.  She lives next to some woods and they think he took off after a deer.  And it was snowy.  So they were worried about him getting frost bite.  He was gone for several days but thankfully they found him, a little beat up but okay.  Anyway, so during this time that he was gone my friend was frantic, as most of us would be, her dogs were her kids.  She was calling all over, driving around looking for him and checking the paper (she lives by a bunch of hicks and was afraid someone would catch him and try and sell him which was why she was checking the paper).  One day while checking the paper she saw an ad for a black standard poodle for sale.  The description matched her dog Jack so she called the number.  The dog turned out to not be Jack after talking with the woman but she did find out he was a super loving dog that needed a good home where someone could spend more time with him and take care of him.  So immediately she calls me.  So we talk about it, I do a lot of thinking about it (I really wanted a puppy) and finally called the woman to talk about him and see if I could meet him. 

So the next Friday night she brought him over after he got his haircut.  He immediately came up to me and let me pet him and talk with him.  She said he normally doesn't take well to people that he didn't know so we viewed that as a good sign.  We talked it over and I agreed to have him come and stay the following Friday for the weekend and see how things went. 

So Friday the 13th of Jan 2006 came and up walks Dark Vader (the kids he first lived with named him that because he was black).  He gets all moved in and starts playing.  He came with a few toys, most of which he ripped up in a matter of a day or so and some food which he refused to eat.  I had gotten him some different food because I didn't like the food she was feeding him and he ate all of his new food and refused to touch his old food the first day I gave it to him.  After he got moved in I walked him over to my friend Brad's house and then to my friends Stacy and John's house.  Little did I know that Asher had no idea how to walk on a lease.  He was 2.5 years old and had never really been on a walk.  The lady said he was too wild on walks so she never took him.  So he was all over but super fun to watch.  At Stacy and John's he almost chewed through his leash before we left so it was a bit dicey to walk him home.  That night was rough.  He sat in his super little kennel that he used to spend 23 hours a day in crying.  I even brought him right next to me and he still just cried.  He was not house broken, yes at 2.5 years old which shows you how much he was out of his kennel, so I was afraid to let him out.  I think by the second or third night he was sleeping on my bed.  I couldn't take the crying. 

The next day some friends and I were going to a speaker with the tri club so he had to stay home.  When my friends came over we found out he didn't like men and was scared of them as he started going after one of my friends and we couldn't figure out why.  Another black mark from his past (I think he was abused by his old owners random boyfriends that would come in and out).  After the meeting I wanted to try taking him running.  And this is where our real journey began.  He was an amazing runner.  He had all this energy and just needed an avenue to release it.  He about drug me down the sidewalk.  He was so fast and could run so easily.  We ran 4 miles that day and never looked back.  Only bad part was his paws weren't tough enough to handle all the new exercise he was getting, walking or running, so we had to get those toughened up a bit.  Several sores but after those were gone he was good to go.  Now he is my very best running partner.  He still jumps 6 feet in the air when I ask if he wants to go running and will go in any weather, rain, sleet, snow, anything.  He wears a backpack and carries his own water and wears shoes all winter to protect his feet.  Since I got him he has run 5788.5 miles and still loves every step.  He loves water and swimming and hunting for bunnies, squirrels and his newest animal deer.  He is always upbeat and willing to do anything.  And for that I am so thankful.

Asher came from a very bad situation where he was neglected and abused and came to live with me and has really found his true home.  He gave me a person that was there for me, all the time, something I really needed at the time.  He has saved me as much as I saved him and for that I am ever grateful to him. We both have dark pasts but together all we can see is a bright future.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chestnut Ridge Park

The week before Christmas I had a day off so Asher and I were thinking up things to do.  Simple, let's go play in the snow.  One of Asher's favorite things to do (he has lots of favorite things).  We headed to a great county park here called Chestnut Ridge.  They don't plow most of the roads in the park in the winter so you can snowshoe, cross country ski or snowmobile through the woods all over the place.  So I just let Asher run.  He loved it.  I got a few pictures of a couple pretty streams and Asher in the snow.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Year End Review

The end of the year always means lot of cool, new things.  Making new resolutions (if you believe in that stuff), looking forward to hopefully warmer temperatures in the near months, and sbr (Swim, Bike, Run) totals for the year....of course.  This year my focus was not to do more quantity but instead focus on quality and let the quantity fall where it does. 

So my totals for the year looked like this:

Swim: 184 miles
Bike: 7514 miles
Run: 1848 miles
Total: 9,546 miles

Swim: 97:25:08
Bike: 385:36:18
Run: 274:51:33
Total: 757:52:59

I also had 34 hours of weights. 

Asher had 1,303.6 miles for the year.  He had a great year of running and we look forward to logging lots more miles together in 2011.

2009 numbers:

Swim: 179 miles
Bike: 8066 miles
Run: 2300 miles
Total: 10545 miles

Swim: 95:07:24
Bike: 419:50:19
Run: 325:43:13
Total: 840:40:56

I'm looking forward to a fun and exciting 2011.