Saturday, December 29, 2007

Awesome multimedia installation at the Detroit Airport

All airports should be like this one. I was stunned by this display.

I walked very slowly through this tunnel 3 times, no moving sidewalks for me here, I wanted to drink it all in. What a trip!!

I recorded this video with my pocket digital cam. Watch the whole 2 minute movie, it's pretty cool.

The walls were lined with translucent glass by Fox Fire Glass. The lights and sound were designed by Mills/James Productions. Bravo!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Family of All-Stars

I am truly lucky to be a part of a family of all-star athletes and performing artist/ teachers. It was good to visit home for the holiday and see my family, despite the depressing upstate NY weather. Allow me to brag a bit ...

I got a chance to see my brother's son Kris practice polevaulting at SUNY Binghamton. Here he is going over 16 feet.

This is a family tradition. Kris's dad, my brother Tom was a 2 time NY State Highschool Polevault Champion and record holder. He was the first highschool vaulter in NY to clear 16'. He was recruited to MTSU in 1980 by Coach Dean Hayes. Tom's MTSU polevault record still stands today at 16'1" - a record that has lasted 27 years. The longevity of this record speaks to the fact that those successful in the complex sport of polevaulting are quite rare. It takes speed, strength, gymnastic ability, technique, and courage.

Here is a photo of brother Tom flying high, wearing the MTSU Blue Raider uniform with the ceiling of MTSU's Murphy Center in the background.

I was never as successful as Tom in track as shoulder injuries cut my polevaulting career short, but I did manage to win a few sectional Gold medals in sprinting and sprint relays (indoor 60, 4x200), and a Silver in the long jump. I had a pretty good start in the sprints. Here's a photo of one of my high school 100 races a few steps after the starting gun.

My new goals for running are overall health and I continue to run today, not sprints but 5k races.

I credit these abilities to good genes. My dad was a stand out athlete, polevault record holder and all-conference semi-pro football player in the EFL.

My mom is a renown dance teacher and choreographer. Her students have performed prominent roles on Broadway, appeared in major Hollywood movies, Vegas shows, ballet companies, etc... Tom's daughter Kari is a very talented singer and dancer. Tom plays guitar and both he and his wife Debbie are good singers.

Me, I play a little guitar too. But... you oughta hear my students play - Matt, Silviu, and Salome.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Capt'n Bill Cruises the TN River Gorge

Capt'n Bill cruises the TN River Gorge on a record-breaking warm day, 77 degrees in mid-December.

The December 11, 2007 high temperature of 77 in Chattanooga broke the 90 yr old record high temperature of 73 for the date.

I had my friends John and Nancy join me for a cruise up the TN River Gorge from Haletown to Chattanooga.

This is the most scenic part of the Tennessee River.

What a day!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I'm a runnin' fool - Three 5k races in one week

Bill's New Hobby - 5k races

As I wrote in my previous post, distance racing is totally new to me. I've been doing it a week.

I've won two awards in three races and my time has improved with each race.

My personal best 5k is now 22:35. Not too bad for a beginning runner who has never trained for such an event.

My latest stunt was to run two 5k races just 13 hours apart. The 27th Annual Rudolph Run on Friday night, 12/7/07, and the Frostbite 5k in Hendersonville at 8 am Sat. morning 12/08.

Here's a brief recap of the races:

12/1 - Jingle Bell 5K - Shelby Park, Nashville, about 400 total runners. I won Second Prize in my age group out of 12, time: 22:56. The course was the best of the three I ran. Fairly flat, very cool weather. I barely even sweat.

12/7 - Rudolph Rednose 5k Run - Nashville, about 900 total runners. I finished 6th in my age group out of 45, time of 22:40. This run was hard. Starting from near Titan's Stadium, we ran up the hill and across the bridge down the Christmas parade route - 2nd Ave up Broadway to 5th and back the same way with hundreds of people lining the streets. It was very competitive and the winner finished in a time of 15:29!

12/8 - Frostbite 5k, Hendersonville, TN, total of about 400 runners. I won Third Prize in my age group out of 16 with a personal best time of 22:35, (7:17 per mile pace). This was also a hard course and anything but frostbite weather. It was nearly 60 degrees and raining lightly. There were a lot of up and down hills on this course. I went out probably too fast again, my mile split was 6:24, two mile split was 14:07.

It has become apparent that this type of racing is all about lungs, aerobic conditioning and efficiency of stride. I never had the lungs to run such distances, even in my youth as a top sprinter. But I have found that those that stand out in these races in the older age groups have been doing it a long time. I was beaten in my first race by a 67 yr old man, a man my father's age. Well, he showed up to all three race, but he didn't beat me again. Jimmy, my age group rival that beat me every time also showed up for these 3 races. In my last race, a 62 yr old man beat me by a little. I find these older athletes totally inspiring. The kind of runners I hope to be when I reach that age. I would love to get faster as I get older.

Who knows, I may never run another race, or I may actually train and see what I can do.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cool weather cruising - a nice day for a walk on a Tennessee beach

What to do on a freezing day in Tennessee? Go to the beach, of course! Here at Bill's TN Paradise, we tend to live a life less ordinary. This is what I did on my first day of winter break... I have the next 5 weeks off. SWEET !

Centerhill Lake was low, and pretty much deserted today. It was sunny and in the 30's. It really didn't feel cold. The water looked clear and matched the blue sky.

The beaches were broad and clean, covered with shells, stones, and even a few tiny flowers. (click on pics to enlarge)

I really like coldweather cruising because the lake is always empty and so quiet. I keep the canvas up and the interior heated, cozy enough for shorts and socks. Making hot chocolate and playing guitar while slowly moving down the lake is really relaxing. Hiking along the shoreline is really nice.

I put in at Sligo, took the boat all the way to Centerhill Dam, about 20 miles up the lake. This is a part of the lake I've avoided in recent years due to over use. I noticed Hurricane Marina got a face lift. Looks like a new store and restaurant, well... new to me.

In Cove Hollow, there are some newer godaweful ugly looking apartment buildings on the top of the hill, a few new houses as well.

On my way back, who do I see? Alan Jackson in his behemoth of a silly looking houseboat turning down Holmes Creek. I'm not sure it was him driving, but his boat is unmistakable. Looks like a floating mansion. Maybe it was one of his guys taking the boat to get winterized at Hidden Harbor Marina? I guess he likes to live a life less ordinary as well. The only time I've seen Jackson on the lake is during the week. Any experienced boater will tell you, avoid area lakes on the weekends, especially Percy Priest.

This was a perfect day for a cruise. Saw almost no one. Had a nice walk, almost felt like being in the wilderness. I was tempted to build a fire on the shore and stay the night in the boat, but ... I've got a 5k race to run Friday.

My boat is a classic 24' Sea Ray, in great shape. The cabin is trimed in teak and it has heat, hot water, shower, 2 burner stove, sink, fridge, head, TV/DVD, comfy bed ... everything I need. This is where I'd be if I were homeless.

Thanks to Carlos Moore at Sligo Canvas Shop for such a great canvas enclosure at a great price. Carlos is a great guy!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My first 5k race

Running for me has been a lifestyle. I do it a lot, I've never blogged about it and I've never entered a 5k race, until yesterday. In the Nashville Jingle Bell 5K I finished second in the 45-49 age group with a time of 22:56. OK for a first try. I'll do better next time, I guarantee it.

The race had a turnout of about 400 total runners. I showed up with my nylon hiking shorts, cheap Walmart sneakers, and 2 pairs of hiking socks. Not knowing the course, I found it difficult to pace myself and started way too fast, staying with the leaders way too long.

From a family of track athletes, my expertise was sprinting. I was a NYS sectional indoor 60 champion in HS. (My brother a 2-time NY State Champion polevaulter and record holder!) I never liked distance running as it always felt like 'slow pain.' My short and powerful legs are built for fast starts, not 3 mile runs. But now I'm running for a different purpose: not to win, but to stay healthy and fit for life. I might try this 5k race thing again in a few weeks.

What do you think, not to bad for an old guy, aye?

Thanks to Shirley for the excellent photos.