My Teacher


Are you a role model for your kid? Absolutely. They mimic your expressions, tone, & communication styles constantly. If you smile while eating breakfast, it’s likely they will too. If you talk to them, and play on the beach, they will talk back, and maybe love the ocean like you do.

They are absolutely their own person/personality, but they are figuring it all out, based on what surrounds them.

This I expected.

But what I have been most surprised by, is how much my daughter is teaching me. RZ is teaching me about a whole range of emotions, levels of effort, “true strength” & selflessness that I did not know I had within myself. I am a better man because of her, and I think I grasp some things about this world better, because of her.

It’s a wild ride.

She wants to grab my keyboard right now, she is talking that baby talk string of vowels at me.. BaBaBaDoDeeDaDaDa. I can’t write. Jess is sleeping and the baby is wriggling.

Oh, I am in Puerto Rico right now, my brother is getting married this sunday to an amazing lady who has a lot of family on the island. Like Puerto Rico itself, Esther is American, but then with some other amazing identity entirely her own blended in, it’s a fascinating place.

Ocean, family, good times. RZ, lets keep teaching each other through all the swells & waves, Ok?

I thought I would do some dryland this week, just easy stuff… the Utah oval opens in two weeks, but it’s just not happening.

Oh well, hand me another cerveza to wash down my mofongo..

RZ, can you teach me to be ok with that too?

Great Grandfather’s Day

My first father’s day was not about me at all. I am visiting my grandfather, Colonel Edson Snow.

He is 94, and was very happy to meet his Great-Granddaughter, Arzelia Jane Love.

To understand my grandfather, I show you a few things I noticed this afternoon, on a shelf in his room.

gpa1.jpg

What you have here is a can of WD-40, next to a morse code sender. Right behind his morse code sender, is a spool of DVD-RW for his laptop.

I find this collections of stuff amazing, and very telling about my Grandfather, as he has always been an early adapter of technology.

Grandpa was certified for Morse code when he graduated high school in 1932, and passed the exam proving he could send at 20 wpm. He is a lifelong ham radio operator, and has spoken to people in 150 different countries (he keeps track), he now loves email and video Skypes with his family.

Jess and I have spent much of the past two days with him. We have heard so many stories of his life & family, of my mom & uncle, and people I never met, but who look like me & RZ.

This is a blog about skating, so one story he likes to tell about his childhood is that there used to be a company that owned numerous vacant lots in NYC. In the winters they would flood them, and turn them into ice skating rinks.

To show the ice was ready, they would fly a white flag with a red dot on it (looked just like Japan’s flag actually). If you saw that flag, it meant “ice skating open today.” And all the boys wanted “long blade skates” in those days too!

Grandpa owned his own plane, and his stories of service in Italy during WWII would fill journals. Today I found myself reading V-mail he sent to my grandmother in 1944. That was HARD to read, and so tiny.

Here he is with Arzelia. They are already best friends.

gpa2.jpg

Morse code to ham radio, V-mail to eMail, and now technology like Skype makes distance seem like nothing. Happy great-Grandfather’s day, Colonel Ed!!

What will RZ see in her life? Will the changes be that great?

There is always a sadness leaving close family who are very old. He is so clear, and so strong for 94. But as he shuffled away, I felt my heart tear a bit, and hoped I would see him again.

gpa3.jpg

(that is too sad a note to end a usually optimistic blog on… so I will toss in a gratuitous baby image, RZ is really starting to have some serious brainpower starting up. It’s thrilling to watch)

gpa4.jpg

Back in the saddle

The revolving planets of life, work & childcare finally aligned and I am finally back on the ice & skating short track on my battered pair of SS Boots I call the “disco snails”.

They are the boots in my header image above. Short or long track, they just put my foot into the right spot..

When you are away from speedskating, you wonder, exactly what is it that you miss? The brutal training? the people you bond with going though it?

These national team folks are working insanely hard doing explosive lateral hops, the black vests you see them wearing are full of lead weights. Ouch.

Or do we like speedskating because it’s an escape from “normal” life into something so wonderfully abnormal?

Or is it the simple feeling that skating is. That feeling of flight. That sensation that is just so different than a bicycle, or skiing, or running.

It’s so much harder to attain, so fleeting and so incredibly right when you just nail it. Caleb Eaton is the skater here.

I am far, far, from nailing it. Summer training makes you tough as nails, and patiently working on technique and psychological preparation is the carefully crafted hammer.

Race day is when you swing and drive that sucker through the board with one fantastic WHACK.

After a summer of just lifting and bike racing, my body is pleasantly shocked by the stress of short track. Although I need to become a “skater” athletically again, I felt at home from the moment I stepped onto the ice. National team member Pat Meek was coaching the evening session, and I asked him “how do I look”.

He smiled and said, “Well Andrew, I can tell you have been lifting, because I can see the power in the stroke, you just need to figure out exactly what to do with it”.

Sigh, the story of my life.

Pat is looking crazy fit, and under the stress of summer trainng, his legs have become ridiculously huge even by my warped standards. He has quite the tan line going too.

Here is my first fun poll of the year, pick as many answers as you want.

Pick the best words that describe Pat’s Legs

View Results

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Have suggestions for more terms? leave them in a comment, and I will add them.

Ferris & flowers

Walking in the park, pushing RZ in the stroller, with my “brother-by-another-mother” Evan, his 7 year old Ben & 6 year old Ellie in tow, and I see Josh Wood & 2 other inliners zip by at warp speed, double-push firing on all cylinders. Their wheels a hiss of speed.

They were upright at this split second of photography, trying not to run over a walker, but trust me, these guys were hauling.

I am at a distance from skating. As out of focus as this photograph. I remember how it feels & miss it. Am racing my bike a lot from sheer convenience. Still lifting big in the gym, but have yet to touch ice this year.

Why? I’m doing serious training in the lifelong sport of being a “Daddy” . It’s an endurance event in it’s own right, requiring fortitude, strength, a good heart, the capacity to suffer, and no real finish line.

Jess was at work, Evan’s wife Susan at a coffee shop with her Laptop. So Evan and I had a morning in the park. 2 dads & 3 kids. A swinging good time.

There are these moments when you feel the “wheel of life” turning. A grandparent recently told me “you think you feel that now? Just wait till your kids have kids!” I love Ferris wheels. The explicit rotation of perspective. Ben & Ellie are at the very top here.

I wondered out loud how long these little cars had been in service, the woman standing next to me said “well, I rode on them when I was a kid in the 60’s” wow… .

Compared to killing myself with training every day, is hanging out with kids as rewarding? absolutely, here is Ben feeding Ducks.

Susan remarked later, that this photo should have been titled “Daddy dressed me this morning”. I am guilty as charged

I’ve known Evan forever. We have tens of thousands of cycling training miles together. Endless races we can tell stories about for hours. It’s wild to see each other in this new phase, this new mode. We were comparing what we had to pack for our kids, the difference of his “Kid day bag” vs mine.

Ellie & Evan, at a moment of maximum cuteness. What a journey children lead you on. It’s not you leading them at all.

Ellie was picking flowers in the above photo, and stuck one of them in RZ’s foot. My daughter absolutely has my feet. Not Jessica’s E.T. toes.

RZ wanted to eat the flower. Not good, so she ended up grabbing & gnawing on my old Dimon Sports hat instead. John Dimon, where are you?

See, this IS about speedskating! No better way to improve the immune system eh? Or maybe just ensuring RZ has salt in her diet.

Ben moves so fast, I kept missing photos of him doing things like standing on top of the adult drinking fountains! Boy energy must be the raw fissionable material that powers the sun. Son=Sun. I don’t think that linguistic coincidence is happenstance.

Boys do eventually grow to be men, & there always is some of that crazy energy left in them. Jess came home from work, Susan from the coffee shop, and Evan and I headed up into the mountains on bikes.

Maybe not as fast as we once were, but still hollerin boys in our hearts, especially when Wasatch singletrack swoops & dives like a rollercoaster.

And perspective-laden Dads in others; the wildflowers are in bloom across the Wasatch. Massive fields of them lining the trails, & I kept thinking of Ellie, RZ, Ben. These little beings that mean so much to us. Our own individual flowers in a sea of kids.

A sea that can be wonderful, but also sometimes capricious & brutal.

Before RZ was born, I asked Marty Haire what being a Dad feels like, he said “Well, you suddenly understand, when you hear about something horrible happening to someone else’s kids, you understand why that matters. And it gets to you, even if you have never met the people involved”.

True. So very true.