Thursday, January 03, 2013

Celebrating the New Year Tillerman Style


I didn't expect to go sailing on Sunday. But I did expect to be on the water.

Encouraged by a friend I had signed up a few weeks ago to be part of the race committee team for the Newport Laser frostbite fleet on Sunday. As I recall it, his logic was that we should do race committee together "before the weather gets really cold." I was all for that. I always find it colder doing RC in the winter than actually sailing. At least when you are sailing a Laser you can usually work up a nice fuggy sweat inside your drysuit.

I kept checking the weather forecast for the weekend all week. It didn't look good. Snow was coming. It was going to be cold. It was going to be windy.

The snowstorm hit on Saturday afternoon dumping several inches of snow. The forecast for Sunday was for 40 mph gusts and mid-teens windchill. Early in the evening an email arrived from the fleet captains...
Weather forecasts are calling for up to 6 inches of snow tonight and then windy and cold tomorrow. If we can safely sail, we will.
Yikes. These guys are serious. Further updates were promised for 9am and 11am on Sunday morning. But they clearly wanted to postpone a decision not to sail to as late as possible, because in the last few weeks the wind forecasts for our sailing areas have not been all that reliable.

I got up on Sunday morning around 7am to make a cup of coffee. I checked the weather forecast. There was a Wind Advisory out for Newport threatening 50 mph gusts. Wind chill was still forecast to be in the mid-teens.

Surely they will cancel sailing, I thought. Certainly if I weren't committed to doing RC I would have decided to skip sailing myself. The wind was already a solid 20 gusting to 30 and forecast to get windier as the day progressed. But I had made a commitment to do RC, so if they sailed I would have to go.

I kept checking my email and Facebook. Nothing by 9am. Nothing by 9:15, 9:30, 9:45... Just before 10 the email arrived...

No sailing today. It might technically be sailable right now, but the breeze is expected to pick up, and the temperature isn't expected to get above freezing. With gusts into the 30s, we're going to err on the side of caution. See you in 2013. Go Pats!

I loved that bit about being "technically" sailable "right now."

With a sense of relief I settled in for a lazy day by the fireside...


I didn't expect to go skiing on New Year's Eve.

I haven't skied since about 2004.

I thought that I was done with skiing.

But my son and his wife had been talking about getting their 7-year-old daughter, Emily, on skis sometime soon. So as I looked out at all the fresh snow on Sunday afternoon and had a glass or two of wine with dinner, or perhaps it was a bottle or two, and perhaps there was something a little stronger too... on an impulse I called my son and asked, "How about we take Emily skiing tomorrow?"

He was way ahead of me.  Not only was he already planning to take Emily skiing, her little brother Aidan (4) also wanted to come. Tillerwoman and I said we would join them.

I then started rummaging around in the back of my closet, looking to see if I had any skiing clothes that still fit me. (I might be a few pounds heavier than I was in 2004.) I found some gear that, while not exactly the height of fashion at St.Moritz for the 2013 season, didn't make me look totally ridiculous.

And on Monday morning we all headed off for Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts.

We checked the children into the "Polar Kids" program which was excellent. The instructors took care of fitting the children out with boots and skis and helmets, looked after them for three hours, gave them skiing lessons in a safe area fenced off from all the other skiers, and gave them a break in the middle of the session with hot chocolate and snacks, all the time making it fun for them.

As for me, I felt totally strange being on skis for the first time in almost nine years. I just walked around on the skis for a while to get the feel for it all again. Then I braved the chair lift and managed to fall off at the end of the ride. I somehow forgot to stand up!

I slid tentatively down the nursery slope doing some ugly turns. But I did get down in one piece.

Then I went over to where my grandkids were and watched them for a while. They seemed to be doing better than me already.


I think she is smiling? 
It's not really a look of terror. 
And no she doesn't actually have three arms.


Actually he wasn't smiling most of the time.
He looked really glum when he was doing the lessons.
But he always looks that way when he is concentrating.

So do I. 
I usually look totally miserable when photographed sailing my Laser.
But I'm not.

Neither was Aidan.

I then went and skied a bit more. Actually started going faster and making not quite so ugly turns. It all started coming back to me. I think I could get back into skiing again. Maybe I should take a refresher lesson?

The kids had a ball. Couldn't stop talking about all the fun they had had and how they definitely wanted to come again. Until they both fell asleep in the car on the way home.

So that was quite an appropriate way to celebrate the last day of 2012 - the year in which we had also taken Emily and Aidan Laser sailing for the first time.


I did expect to go for a run on New Year's Day.

And I did.

Once again I entered for the aptly named Hangover Classic 5 mile road race in Bristol.

I wrote about the 2011 run at The Older I Get The Faster I Was and the 2010 event at Crazy Run Grandad.

As in the previous two times I ran the race, there was snow on the ground making it all the more spectacular.

But it was a lot colder this year. Either that or I am getting older and it felt colder. Whatever the reason I didn't run the race in shorts and T-shirt this year. No sir. Long pants, sweatshirt, hat, gloves, the whole caboodle.

Hurricane Sandy damaged one of the roads on which we normally run, so the course was different this year. The bad news was that this meant that the first and last half mile or so were on a very icy stretch of the East Bay Bike Path. The good news was that the middle three miles or so of the race were on roads in Colt State Park which had been plowed clear of snow this year because they were being used as diversions for the road damaged by the hurricane.

I ran very carefully and slowly on the icy stretches. Didn't want to start the new year by breaking a leg.

But I kept up a pretty good pace (for me) on the middle three miles.

When I checked back in my notes in my running diary (did someone say"anal-retentive"?) I discovered that, in spite of my slow pace on the icy stretches, I actually ran the 5 miles faster than any other 5 miles I ran in 2012, and the middle 3 miles were faster than any other 3 miles I ran in 2012.

So that was quite an appropriate way to start 2013.

Happy New Year!


George A said...

Carefully Tillerman. This sounds like when a certain old diarist decided to get back on figure skates. The first thing is the horror of how badly the once reliable skills have deteriorated, then a busted bone. Next comes the obsessing over clawing one's way back to decent form. Geezer male egos never settle for mere dufferdom...

Tillerman said...

Thanks for the warning George. I am certainly aware that taking up skiing again in my mid-60s carries a certain risk of injury.

But my ambition is only to claw my way back to my previous status of mere dufferdom. I would happily settle for that.

George A said...

There's a particle or two of risk in any endeavor, Tillerman, a particle or two of risk. It's better to go out with a burst of flame than to die in the straw like an old cow.

George A said...

Think of it as yet another way to cheat the nursing home.

Tillerman said...

I have noticed that many adults now ski with helmets, which was very rare when I last skied 9 years ago. For now I am skiing without a helmet (and still sailing without a helmet in spite of my many blog posts on the topic of sailing helmets.) Maybe it is an unconscious desire for that "burst of flame" exit, George?

George A said...

I pick up the Washington Post each morning and turn to the Obituaries first thing. If I don't find my name there I figure it's business as usual.

George A said...

Well I just don't know, Tillerman. Maybe you could keep an eye on the Valley Breeze--they have Obits:

Tillerman said...

I don't think the WP will carry my obituary so how will I even know when I am dead? Maybe I already am?

George A said...

Just ask your wife; she'll tell you your status. That and more.

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