Sunday, October 31, 2010

Brown Invitational and Soccer

On October 16th, tobin raced in the Brown Invitationals.  It was a cold, windy, fall day.  Abram went to his game while I took Carmen and Rachel to their soccer games.

This is a picture from after the race, but these are some of the varsity runners for Shrewsbury.  From left to right: CJ Williams, John Murray, Dan Mortimer, Tobin and Curtis Beals.

Here John is looking towards the camera so you can see his face.

The night before this race I hosted a pasta party for the team.  We seated 24 people in the house at once.  I made 5lbs of meatballs, 5lbs of breaded chicken and 5lbs of pasta.  We had left over meatballs and pasta, but all the chicken went.  It is impressive how much teenage boys can eat!  After eating some of the guys gathered to create a flag.  Below you can see a portion of this flag.  While the each group was running the flag was paraded around.  At Brown there were races for Freshmen, JV and Varisty.

Varsity runners received new uniforms this season.  Tobin is wearing it for this race.  The guys did comment that the shorts were short. Tobin is fine with that, but some of the other guys find short running shorts risque.

Tobin went on the bus at 7am for this race.  His race was not until 3:30!  He had a bit of waiting.  By the time Abram arrived Tobin was finally warming up.

The number of runners in the varsity race was close to 170.  Tobin said that 27 schools were running in the varsity race.  Each team is allowed to enter up to 7 runners in the varsity race.  All the runners line up in a huge open field, race to bottleneck together as the path narrows.
I love my 80mm lense.  Abram took a picture of the line of runners and I was able to crop it and get this great picture of Tobin at the start of the race!  Tobin's shoes are great for spotting him in the crowd.  I have photos of him from this race where we are unable to see his face, but can find his shoes!

Chris Favulli found this photo of Tobin on the web and sent it to Coach Smith. Chris is in college now, but ran with Tobin last year.  He keeps good contact with Tobin about running.

Tobin ran this race in 16:13!  He was 23rd over all.  Very impressive.  He was a bit disappointed that he didn't get top 20 since they receive a medal at this race.  Tobin made it in the Worcester Telegram with his place and time.  His team mate, John finished 2nd in the race.

It is always impressive how Tobin looks for runners after the race that he was closely competing against and congratulates them and discusses the race too. 

I am glad Abram went to this race.  He met his former Merrimack High School cross country coach there, Mr. Snell.  The Brown Invitational draws from all schools in the NE area.  Mr. Snell has been coaching for over 30 years.  Had I gone to the race I would not have know who he was since I didn't run in high school.

While Abram was in RI, I was in Douglas, MA watching Carmen's game.  Here is a beautiful view at the end of the soccer field.  Unfortunately, the 20 mile an hour winds off the river were freezing for the players.  It also drove the ball in one direction in the entire game. 

Carmen played forward this game.  Notice the girls hair blowing in the wind. 

The score was 0-0.  Carmen is driving the ball into the head wind.  She did a good job as forward.  The players were shivering at the end of the game because the wind was amazing.

I don't have any pictures from Rachel's game because I am the assistant coach.  Abram was not at the field to take pictures too.  Rachel did have a game that day and played well.  I can put her in any position and she will be strong there.  Isaac believes she has great game sense because she has seen both soccer and basketball since she was a baby.  Maybe he's right.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Learning to Fly

Abram here.  A couple siblings asked about my progress on flying lessons, so I thought I'd post to explain the process and where I am in it.

I am training with a single flight instructor in a one-on-one basis.  I try to fly twice a week, although that is going to be a challenge with the fall weather and shorter days. 

The first phase of my lessons were about learning the basic flight maneuvers: climbing, level flight, descending, turns, steep turns, emergency procedures, and stall recovery.  We would take off from the airport, fly to the 'practice area', work on the various skills, and return to the airport.  The practice area is an area of north-central Massachusetts and south-western New Hampshire about 15 miles from the airport that is clear of  established airways for most air traffic.  Even from the first lesson, most of the time I was in control of the aircraft, except when the instructor demonstrated something, or assisted (or just took over) for landing.  In addition to learning the maneuvers, a challenge at the beginning was learning how to communicate with air traffic control on the radios.  We spent about 6 or 7 lessons with 9 hours of flying on this part of the training.

The next phase was about learning and perfecting landings.  During these lessons, we never left the vicinity of the airport.  We would simply fly the traffic pattern around the airport, taking off and landing 8-12 times over the course of 1-1.5 hours.  Operating around the airport requires precisely executing the maneuvers we learned earlier -- every time around the airport you need to climb to a specific altitude and hold it, make at least three turns to a precise heading, adjust for cross winds, change the airplane configuration (engaging flaps), communicate with ATC, and locate other planes operating in the area -- in addition to the new challenges of following the glideslope to the runway and making a proper touchdown.  We spent about ten lessons focusing on landings, with about 18 hours of flying.

Once my instructor was satisfied that I could be safe on my own, he endorsed me for solo flight.  This means that I can come to the airport and rent an airplane on my own to practice.  No passengers are allowed, and I am restricted to flying from our airport (BED, in Bedford MA), and no further than 25 miles away.  After I fly with the instructor to other places, he can endorse me to other airports.  It's nice to fly solo because I don't need to work around the instructor's schedule, and it is cheaper to pay for the plane and not the instructor as well.

The next focus will be on "cross-country" flights.  A cross-country flight is simply a flight from one airport to another more than 50 nautical miles away.  This phase of training builds on the challenge of controlling the airplane, adding the tasks of preflight planning and in-flight navigation.  Before the flight you must do a detailed review of the weather conditions, identify landmarks to navigate by, and create a plan including gas usage and expected arrival times based on the wind conditions and aircraft performance.  During the flight, you need to follow the plan and make adjustments to changes in the conditions.  The first trip I am to plan is from Bedford MA to Sanford ME (65 nm away, just west of Kennebunkport).  Due to the weather last week and my instructor's schedule, that trip will not happen until almost two weeks from now.  So in the meantime, I'll just be practicing the basic maneuvers.  Much of the trip planning cannot be done until just before the trip, since it entails using weather reports and forecasts.

The remaining FAA requirements I have to fulfill before taking the practical test are:
  • 3 hours cross-country flights with instructor

  • 5 hours solo cross-country flights (including one long flight with a leg of >100 miles)
  • 3 hours flight at night with instructor (including 10 takeoff & landings, 1 cross-country)
  • 3 hours instrument flight with instructor (student wears a hood to restrict vision to just the instruments)
  • 3 hours preparation for the exam
The minimum number of hours of total flight before taking the test is 40, but I will be well above that.  I will likely be over 40 hours by the time I get to do the first flight to Sanford.  Ultimately what is important is learning how to be safe, and the more practice the better.  Also the learning process doesn't end with getting a license, so the number of hours before you are official is somewhat irrelevant.  I think we all can agree that we are better drivers now than when we got our driver's license!

Then what?  With a license, I could take a couple passengers for short jaunts in the area; think picnic lunch on Nantucket, dinner and an overnight stay in Bar Harbor or Niagra... But no family vacations yet because that would really require a bigger aircraft than I would be certified for.  I would like to continue training for other ratings:
  • Complex Endorsement - allows you to fly planes with retractable landing gear and a constant speed propeller.  A constant speed prop is like a transmission on a car, as opposed to a fixed pitch prop that I fly with now, which is like a car with only one gear.  The constant speed prop adjusts the pitch of the propeller blades so the engine can run at one speed while the airplane flies faster or slower.
  • High Performance Endorsement - allows you to fly planes with >200 horsepower.
  • Instrument Rating - training for flying by reference to instruments; critical for safe (and legal) flight in clouds or limited visibility
Eventually it would be nice to have our own plane, or a share in one, but that is well ahead of what I'm ready for at this point.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hiking and Cake for Aidan's 2nd Birthday

Aidan's birthday, October 12th, always lands around Columbus Day Weekend.  Jenna decided that we would keep the tradition started last year of hiking up Mt. Wachusett.  We took the most direct route you could this year. We just climbed up stone stairs. 

The weather was perfect for hiking.  The kids were good sports to get up early and hike.  We had to borrow sneakers for Marita because she didn't know we were hiking and my shoes are too small for her.  Sarai's feet are bigger than hers.  Luckily, Jenna wears the same size.

We took a small break on the way up. 

A hiker past us and offered to get a group shot.  Tobin was a great sport to hike this day.  His left eye was swollen shut.  I didn't know what was causing the eye pain and swelling.  He could look down, but sunlight hurt his eyes.  We were able to get an antibiotic drops for his eye.  It took several days to improve, but all is well now. 

Isaac had both kids at one point during the rest stop.  I thought it was good picture.  The green carrier was a gift given to Abram and I when we had Tobin by Jason Strayer.  It has served us well with all of our children and now Isaac is using it. 

Isaac and Sierra at the top of Mt. Wachusett.

Aidan enjoyed his banana snack while the group hung out at the top.
Here's one for the happy couple book.  A nice picture of us at the bottom.

Happy Birthday Aidan!  Jenna made three cakes.  Elmo was a GF cake.  I am amazed that even though it is chocolate and tastes great, no one dares to try it. 

As I tried to get this picture, Aidan was stealing a lick or two of frosting. 

The boy is Jenna's.  He loves chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

Rachel is sitting on her Great Grandpa's lap. 

Present time was great.  Isaac had sent out an email invite stating that Aidan's birthday was sponsored by Pixar, Disney and Lego.  I do believe that we all sponsored them!  He received many gifts within the Cars theme (his favorite movie now).  One gift he received that was not within this theme.  Marie found a great costume.  It was a horse.  The back legs are the kid's legs and the front ones plus body are attached with suspenders.  Aidan loved it! He ran around the house several times as the horse. 

Rachel looks very cool in the cowboy hat too!

It is wonderful that we get to see Aidan often and celebrate his birthday with him.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Soccer Tournament and Abram's First Solo

Sunday October 10th was a great day.  Rachel's U10 soccer team entered into a MAYS tournament.  Eight girls from the team were able to play in the tournament.  Chris Szal, the man I coach with, also entered his U14 girls into this tournament.  Carmen's team did not have enough players willing to come to this tournament.  She came to hang out with her friends that day though.  She know most of the U14 players here and many of them were teammates of hers in the past. 

Here is a picture of both the U10 and U14 girls.  Rachel is on the left, diagonally from the man in a red shirt.  Carmen is standing on the right, wearing black sweatshirt.

Our first game was against a division 1 team who was ranked 2nd in our league.  Rachels' team is a D3 team.  Despite the difference the girls played strong.  The turf was also different for them, it was astro turf.  I forewarned the girls that the ball rolls faster, therefore the game will be faster.

Rachel doesn't usually play goalie, but I felt she had the skills needed to keep to score down. She played well.  She comes out of goal to clear balls.  She is fearless enabling her to dive for balls when players are near her.  She also plays strong defense so she watches the ball and is accustomed to charging players.

I was very impressed with the girls who played at this tournament. With 8 players there were two subs.  Each girl played hard and asked to go back in as soon as I could sub them in.  It is always good to have players who want to play.  Their record was 1-1 for  the tournament.  Playing on the astro-turf gave them a taste of indoor soccer.  I will be coaching two indoor teams this winter.

Carmen joined in the fun with Rachel (#17) and Kate.  Kate's sister plays on Carmen's U14 team.

More chill time.  The first game was at 11:30 and the second at 2:30.  It gave us time to wait in the huge lines for lunch and hang out together.

I mentioned in the beginning of the blog that Chris Szal had two teams in this tournament.  The organization scheduled games at the same time.  He coached the U10s for their first game and then switched to the U14 team for the second game.  I was offered assistance from a parent that had been a JV coach before.  It was good to coach with someone my height!

I've been told that Carmen ran onto the field during half time and was rolling around.  I have several pictures of her doing this, but I like this picture of her.

There was a very tall player on the second team wee played.   She did use her elbows too much though.  The ref didn't say anything to her.

Carmen took this neat portrait of Marita.  Abram picked her up at our Dunkin' Donuts drop off spot.  This is approximately half way between Merrimack, NH and Shrewsbury.

Abram soloed on October 10th!!!!

I was at the tournament and received a text that he soloed.  This picture taken by the flight school:  East Coast Aero Club.  They have a facebook page and he's on it.

Since then he has done 2 more supervised solo flights and one today all solo for 2 hours!  Nice job hunny.  My turn is next.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seals, Sailing and Soccer

On the weekend of October 2nd and 3rd, Rachel had an opportunity to travel to the Cape and stay with a friend and her family.  They own a boat which they took from Dennis Port up the coast.  Rachel was excited about this since she had so much fun boating with the Stewichs' in August.  Here are Rachel her friend Kirsten, plus Jackie and her friend.

They saw seals several feet from the boat in the evening.  Here are two pictures that Rachel captured. 

Two more seals.

Carmen had a soccer game that Saturday and scored her first goal of the season! 

Once she made the goal I noticed that she made almost 5 more attempts on goal.  No more went in, but this boosted her confidence at playing forward.  In previous years she has primarily played defense, so trying to score on the opponent's goal is a different experience for her.

I believe that Abram and I went hiking in Northboro on Sunday.  (I don't have a picture of us.) Years ago we bought a book on hiking with children in Massachusetts.  We learned then that there are at least 20 miles of trails in Northboro.  The trails are less than 10 minutes from out house.  The trails are peaceful, meandering and relatively level, allowing for fast paces.  As much as I like hiking up Mt. Wachusetts, it is over a 30 minute drive from our house.  When we have only a couple of hours of free time Wachusett Mountain is not a good choice.  While Abram's elbow heals we cannot ride our bikes together.  Hiking has replaced biking. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cross Country Races for Carmen and Tobin

Carmen is running cross country for Oak Middle School.  Oak is our town's 7th and 8th grade middle school.  Both Tobin and Sarai ran cross country. 

The first home meet was on September 27th, a cool, dizzily day.  The team shirts are usually cotton with blue letters that say Oak Middle Cross Country on the front and "Pain is Temporary Pride is Forever" on the back. Shirts had not come in for the new runners by the time this race was running.  Carmen and any new runner for Oak used old Shrewsbury track shirts as their uniform shirt.

When Tobin runs, the parents stay clear of the runners.  Oak has a tighter course and the parents all line the course.  During this race several umbrellas were in the way of runners.  As a veteran runner mom, I can tell who has older children and who doesn't.  Those who have never been to a meet at Oak are in the path of the races. 

You can see in this picture how close the parents are to the runners. 

Despite these obstacles, the runners did well. Carmen finished 13th overall for girls and 12th for Shrewsbury.  Her time was 10:49 for a 1 1/2 mile race.  She had fun in the race and is motivated to beat certain runners ahead of her. 
Her next race is Wed October 6th.

On wed, Sept 29th, Tobin had a race against Wachusett.  Wachusett has been a main competitor for years with Shrewsbury. Wachusett's top runners are brothers, we call the Bennie brothers.  Bennie is their last name.  Last year Tobin was 50 seconds behind the slowest Bennie.  This year he finished 2 seconds behind the slowest and 7 seconds behind the fastest.  Tobin has significantly closed the gap!

This view is around mile 2. It's a steep down hill.  Which means they have to run back up that distance at the end to finish!

Rachel and Sarai joined me to see Tobin's race.

Here's Tobin and CJ moving at the end of the race.  Tobin finished with a time of 17:02.  Each race he beats his previous week's time.  Nice job. 

As I write this blog Tobin has run another race.  His time at today's race was 16:20!  As I said he keeps taking time off. Each course that they run is different.  It is hard to compare times between courses.  Today's race conditions were 20 degrees cooler than last weeks.  This helps decrease time as well. 

I enjoy going to as many of my children's athletic events as possible.  I don't make them all though.  I did not get to Tobin's away meet today.  Our children are involved in at least one sport plus musically inclined and add my own interests creates a busy household!  I wouldn't trade it for anything though!