Forty Six Years
<<<forty-five years  <<<back to beginnings  <<<forty-seven years
So where's the dog?
Lost in Florida

click on purple-border photos (and above) for full-size versions

Meet Above Average Man, the every-man's answer to Superman! Faster than a speeding bee bee, able to leap tall rose bushes in a single bound! Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, no! It's Above Average Man, being thrown from an airplane and using a pigeon to break his fall! While living his daily unaverage life as a mild-mannered ultra dork, Above Average Man does a pretty good job fighting crime and his arch-enemy, Lesser Luthor, using his above average powers and x-ray glasses. His only weakness--well, it would be pretty stupid to tell you that too, wouldn't it? (It's peach schnapps)
Above Average Man's faithful sidekick, Givesmore, the mysterious Canine of Can, smells danger and Above-Average Man prepares to do a little better than the police to fight crime, mostly misdemeanors. When good enough is not good enough, call on Above Average Man! He still doesn't have his phone hooked up.

Gizmo and I were married on March 28, 2011.

I kept up with outdoor cycling through the Midwest winter using a mountain bike. Even on the most horrific snow storm and sub-zero weather, I was out there, and my racing bike even got in on some action when I went for a long ride on Christmas Eve 2010 in a snow storm. I made it back with thick layers of ice over all the moving parts, including gears, derailleurs and brakes. It caught up with me on January 18, when I crashed on a patch of ice, striking my head, and enjoying every second of it. It was my first bicycle crash in almost 21 years! I picked up the pieces, put them in my pocket, and proceded on to school. Then I saw Amy getting out of her car, and the shock of the impact along with that, had me sitting in class trying not to cry. Guess I was pretty rattled from the double whammy. The next day, my entire body was sore--pretty normal when you hit the road with your head. I was so glad to get my head broken in.

I ran a 5K and a 10 mile race in February, in preparation for the 2nd Annual Southern Indiana Marathon, but the marathon was relegated to a half marathon due to the heat on the day of race, so I stayed in bed.

On June 23, my friend invited me to the International Blue Grass Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky where Steve Martin played his banjo with the Steep Canyon Rangers. I got so close to Steve, I could've lost an eye if the arrow had slipped off his head. He's a wild and crazy guy. Banjo is such a happy instrument. I played banjo while I watched "Platoon" and I laughed and laughed and laughed. Pizza--also good for depression. You can't be sad when you say pizza. Or pee pee. Or wee wee.

I made another trip to Colorado in July. I arrived at the Winter Park Mountain Lodge after driving all day in a heavy, 500-mile rainstorm, and they immediately gave me a free upgrade, a refrigerator, and red carpet service for the price of a dirt floor. The staff remembered Gizmo and I (in that order) from 2010, and remembered more about me than I remembered about them. Like that patch of ice on my block, we must've made quite an impact. They must spin yarns and sing folksy songs about Gizmo and me around those parts, and I often went down to the lobby, greased up, wearing very little clothing, doing various poses and feats of strength just in case they ever considered erecting a statue in my honor at some conspicuous location on the hotel grounds. All I knew is they were my servants, I was their master, and that elevator was slippery after I used it! I saw a family of ten Norwegians fall out of that thing like the Keystone Cops. Gracie and Cash (doggies I met in 2010) weren't allowed behind the front desk anymore, but one Sunday morning on the way back from church, I passed a window and there was Gracie! Gizmo and I dropped in on her and made her so scared, she drew her weapon. I forced her master to let me walk Gizmo with her. I'm so kind.

Above Average Man

 <<<back to beginnings
Jun 26--
Carjacking Yorkie

Jul 10--
Winter Park overlook
Ju1 11--Morning
fog in Winter Park


Tucking in a Yorkie
Jul 9--Morning walk
in Winter Park

Jul 10--Visiting
Gracie at Winter Park
Ju1 16--Preparing
for battle on bicycle

Gizmo fights glove

Jun 23--Steve Martin

Jul 10
Adjusting to altitude

Jul 10--Over
Winter Park
Ju1 17--Gizmo's
birthday trip

And on July 17, Gizmo and I ran around Winter Park, celebrating his ninth birthday! I'm the one in red.

I broke with my tradition of doing nothing but bike and drink for the entire visit and rode the alpine slide in the Winter Park Village, the largest in the state at 3030 feet in length with a 610 foot drop. After staring at it, just across the highway in 2010, I figured I should give it a try. My time down was 2:06, much faster than I expected. There were parallel concrete lanes, one for fast people and one for slow pokes who reach for the passenger assist handle in fear when my car starts the descent of a speed bump. I took the slow lane and passed a few people on the fast lane. If I return next year, I'm taking the fast lane.

I trained for just over two weeks, and arrived at the start of the Mt. Evans hillclimb feeling weak, and uninterested. I have the time and ability still, just no joy. I've been mildly depressed for almost three years and it's taken the life out of my training. But I'd invested a lot of time and money in this thing, so about a mile into the race, the field bunched up on one side of the road, and I attacked. It was stupid, but I


came to the conclusion that under my current predicament, the most logical approach was an emotional response. I attacked on a 5% uphill and held off the field for about three minutes as I knew the whole time, this was a mistake and I'd just shot my entire race, but I was leading the Mt. Evans Hillclimb! Some dude came up and said,"I'll pull to the next road sign and you can take over." I said,”No—this is only for show—I'm done”. I dropped back, way back, as riders said,"Impressive!" or "Nice attack!" I suppose they say the same to the guy who jumps on a grenade, as he lies there with his colon wrapped around his neck. It took so much out of me to stay away, I went off back. One competitor later told me,”You don't burn your candle all at one time!" I told him,”I have a short candle”. I finished second from last (20 riders didn't finish), and my staggering at the summit made the 'establishment' eager to drive me down rather than force me to bicycle down from 14,130 when I couldn't stand. On the way down, one of the guys in the van had a severe reaction to the altitude and we pulled over to let him vomit and pass out. Me and ten other cyclists stood on the side of the road for over an hour as I hobbled around, alerting park rangers, making as many jokes as I could, and trying to get an ambulance up there. It was pretty scary for a while but we finally cooled him down, he turned pink again, and they shoved him into the ambulance like a Pappa John's Pizza. What frightened me more than anything was, as paramedics read his alarming vital signs, they matched mine exactly. I just wasn't vomiting and passing out. His wife was there, and after he stabilized, I told her,”That's a relief. For a while, I thought we were going to have to name the race after him."

I ran the Evansville Half Marathon in October for the third time. It was painful, not as bad as 2007, but worse than 2009. I didn't have the punch I needed. I finished 135th of 1941 runners with in 1:38:21, almost eight minutes slower than 2009, but 2 1/2 minutes faster than 2007 when I had a horrible day. Then I began training for the Norwegian Road March put on by the ROTC at the University of Southern Indiana (USI). I know, I know—I hate that place—but I couldn't resist showing up in my uniform and marching on the campus--they even fired a Howitzer to start the march—I could just see my draft-dodging professors wetting themselves when they heard that. "Those war mongers! How dare they fire guns! America has no enemies!" The march was founded by a retired Norwegian military officer at USI. I came across it in 2008 when they marched on the road I cycle on, and I started a dialogue with them to see if I could play. The rules are—you carry 25 pounds on your back, your own supply of water, march 30 kilometers in under 4:30, and you get a Norwegian Road March Badge. I took it a step further and broke out my old Air Force uniform, combat boots (add another three pounds from those), and cut my hair to regulations (not required). I couldn't resist the thought that almost seven years after my retirement from the Air Force, I could earn an Army badge. How cool! Since I was almost 46 years old, the rules stated I had to do the march in 4:40. I guess the extra ten minutes was for defibrillation.

My training marches did not go well. I trained on two consecutive Saturdays. The march was only 20 days after the half marathon. I couldn't risk hurting myself by doing a loaded march before the half marathon. I marched 11 1/2 miles on October 14 in two separate workouts, a total combined time of just over three hours, and then 13 1/2 miles on the 22nd in two workouts, total time of just over four hours. I needed to do 18.6 miles in under 4:40 and I was getting slower instead of faster. At this rate, a five and a half hour time was optimistic, but I needed to break 4:40 to earn that badge. With that much weight on my back, I couldn't run, but I couldn't walk fast enough to make my time. My boots were standard steel toed boots, designed for pushing pallets around a warehouse, not fast-marching for almost 19 miles with a load, and they weighed three times what my running shoes weighed, and about twice as much as the ROTC issue. I needed a week between training marches to recover--this workout was different from what I was used to. I was resigned to giving it my best shot but probably coming nowhere near 4:40. I also viewed previous year's results and saw I'd probably be the only Air Force guy. Stress? I had an entire service's reputation riding on my slim shoulders.

I began the march thinking I'd have to do the performance of my life to make the cut-off. But something happened, and I can only guess that it was God answering my prayer that morning. There were 179 starters, most of whom were half my age (average age 23.4 years and only 25 were past the age of 30), and the mob inspired me so much, I was able to run the first four miles. In fact, I ended up running about half the 18.6 miles even though training showed me I could only run a minute before pain forced me to stop. I was passed a lot at the start—my back pack was ill-fitting, and a barbell I'd packed to keep the weight over 25 pounds kept hitting me in the back of the head. But after being passed so much at the beginning, I came on strong at the end and did the course in 3:42:21! I was the 19th finisher of 143 who were able to complete the course. I checked in at the finish, and asked,”Do you have me down as a civilian?” They said yes—so I said, proudly,”Change that to US Air Force, Retired." I wanted them to know where I come from. Then I put on a sad movie and cried while holding my panty hose in my teeth. It was so emotional.

After my blizzard bicycle ride on my 45th birthday, I wanted to go someplace warm for my 46th. So I dragged Mom along to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, warmer than Henderson, Kentucky, but a lot farther away. Mom has never seen the Gulf of Mexico and hasn't been to Florida since the mid-1980's, so convinced her that she'd have fun seeing the ocean. I was wrong, but I think she liked the togetherness, if you want to call it that. We stayed one day which Mom thought was stupid, but it was meant to be quick and cheap. I decided I'd ride my bicycle from Navarre Beach to Ft. Pickens on the bay, then back, a total of about 53 1/2 miles. With Mom in the motel room talking non-stop, then getting stuck in the bath tub and needing assistance (she told me to tell everyone about that incident), then not being able to operate the electronic key, I wasn't able to do much planning on my map. Mom was driving me absolutely nuts! I jumped up and said,"I'm going--see you in a few hours". The ride was nearly a disaster after I missed a turn that I wasn't aware of, rode across two large, high, and scary bay bridges and found myself in heavy four-lane traffic with no bicycle lane. My friend Robert said this ride would be nice--bicycle lanes all the way along the ocean. I saw no bicycle lanes and no ocean--I was lost in Florida!

I stopped to ask for directions. A little park had a map and a lobby, so I asked a gentleman how to reach Ft. Pickens. He he pointed to where we were and then to Ft. Pickens--I'd crossed two bodies of water in error and was clear on the other side of the bay. So I had to go back across those two bridges again, which terrified me. I'm afraid of heights and I was also lost. Lots of things scare me. Women scare me--relationships, serious relationships scare me. After bicycling two hours, 34 minutes, and over 41 miles, I got to the edge of Ft. Pickens. It wasn't much to look at, so I turned around and rode back. The best part was the last 20 miles when I was heading into a headwind—the sun blazed, so I threw off my jacket and hammered the whole way back. In the last six miles, after already doing 60 miles in a strong wind, I blew past a cyclist so fast, I could swear I saw him burst into flames. Good times! And so now I'm 46, the same age as JFK when he was assassinated I need to plan my little birthday vacation for next year, but one thing's for sure, I'm not going to Dallas.

Jul 17--Winter
Park Mountain Lodge
Ju1 19--Gizmo
sleeps on my mouse hand

Ju1 23--Mt. Evans
Dizzy at the summit

Jul 23--8 wheels,tires,tools,2 bikes,13.6 cubic ft

Oct 9--Evansville
Half Marathon

Oct 26--Gizmo slays
a lion

Nov 10--Gizmo
gets a bath
Dec 12--Opal Beach, Florida
Ju1 17--Gizmo attacks
on his birthday
Ju1 19--riding Colorado's
largest alpine slide

Jul 24--video
of Alpine Slide

Ju1 25--Dawn over Kansas
Windmill Farm

Oct 19--Tickling
a silent Yorkie

Oct 29--30K ROTC
Norwegian Road March

Dec 12--Gizmo poses
in Florida

Dec 12--Gizmo,Me, and Mom on Opal Beach
Ju1 17--Gizmo wears
monogrammed T-shirt

Jul 23--Mt. Evans Hillclimb
final kilometer

Jul 24--
Happy Gizmo

Sep 10--Setting
my captive
rodents free

Oct 19--various
levels of cuteness

Oct 29--Road
March finish

Dec 12--Ft. Pickens, Florida

Dec 12--Testing Gizmo's loyalty