Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fatherhood: An Endurance Sport

So, I have been planning this post for some time now. I want to write about what I've learned in my first couple of months as a father -- my daughter is just over three months old now so it seems like as good a time as any to talk about what I've learned.

1) Other parents lie to you about things.

All babies are different. Your situation isn't exactly the same as anyone else's, and while I think there may be similarities in situations or personalities no one has any idea what you are going through, except for you. So when people say things like:

"My kid slept seven hours a night right from the second week home."

"Oh we had absolutely no problem feeding. S/he loves food!"

"Kids are great. We started sleep training in-utero."

"My kid solved for X at fourteen minutes old."

They're full of shit. Some people brag because they think (maybe even subconsciously) that it makes them sound like better parents. The truth is that you don't have the same support system as anyone else -- you may have similarities but it isn't the same. As new parents everyone is trying to get through and survive. You do the best you can -- and none of us are perfect. Be forgiving and understanding to everyone -- including yourself. It doesn't matter when that kid solved for X, the point is that your kid will develop at their own pace, and things will be fine.

2) Babies are really frustrating that first month.

One of the things that does seem to be pretty common (at least people have said to me) that the first few weeks are really frustrating because developmentally a baby can only interact with you so much. They don't see much except what is immediately in front of them, and their senses are starting to come together so they experience the world as a sort of "soup" where things blend together. This is one of the things that makes the lack of sleep so much more punishing -- you feel like you're putting in tons of work and getting very little pay-off. Incidentally, this is how I felt about my fast food job, back in the day.

The screaming is also a thing that wears on you. It can be absolutely grating and seems to never let up. You need to recognize that loud noises and sleep deprivation are all recognized forms of torture. Make sure the child is safe, but do your best to put them down when you need to and take a couple of minutes to catch your breath.

3)  Once the baby starts giving you "happy baby time" things are way better.

For us this happened at about the month-and-a-half mark. Our daughter started to smile. Now she's evolving a giggle. She reacts when we make faces or silly sounds. She'll react to what we tend to think of as play. That's so rewarding. We spend time together every morning during the weekends playing with her and singing to her. These minutes are some of the happiest of my week.

These little developmental milestones -- picking up a toy for the first time, or starting to track you as you walk in or out of the room -- these are really big deals. Enjoy them. Take them as proof that you are all doing OK.

4) Have a tribe.

You need a support system. Evolutionarily you are designed to have a family built in a tribal structure -- with people who have done this before, and people who are physically able to help you with a variety of tasks. You may be able to forgo sleep and do the dishes, laundry, clean the house, and cook. Without support, you will only be able to keep up that pattern for so long -- and it will be at the expense of time with your partner and newborn. That is a sacrifice that isn't worth making. Cultivate strong friendships. Practice random acts of kindness for people. Ask for help from the people who are willing to reciprocate. Make sure you take care of them going forward, as well.

People who help you aren't always family. Sometimes they are friends who become as close as family. Don't waste energy on family members who promise to be a part of your support system and are conspicuously absent after your baby's arrival. Re-enforce the relationships that work, and go forward for the sake of your nuclear family.

5) Make time for yourself.

You need an outlet. Find something you like to do and do it. For me, it is training for marathons, and playing music. You aren't being selfish. You are doing it for your sanity, and to help develop the concept of a "new normal." It also provides time for you to process things, and decide on which action to pursue next.

Don't undervalue yourself.

6) Ask for help.

Monitor your partner, yourself, and your child and ask for help if it seems like you need help. Our understanding of postpartum mood disorders is expanding (as they manifest in both sexes, and both partners.) Some problems can't be fixed with duct tape. Sometimes you have to ask for help. Don't let other people's stigma against these things belittle your efforts to reach an even keel. I have had people tell me that they think the reporting on PPD is "over-exaggerated" so that people can get more time off of work. My feeling on this attitude is:

"'You-know-what 'em."

Only you and your partner get to validate your feelings. You're the only people who know what is up and what is normal for you. No judgmental ass with god-knows-what baggage gets to put labels on you. Be kind to yourself, and actually, be kind to that person, too. They clearly have issues of their own.

Take care of yourself first, then bring them a coffee.

7) Find a "new normal."

Your life doesn't stop after a baby is in it. It keeps going. Your role in your life maybe changes, I don't know. I'm still in flux myself. I expect to be in flux for the next ten years. Or maybe twenty.

I think you need to establish 'tent poles' of your routine that you can count on no matter how unpredictable stuff gets. I count on my morning family time, my pancake Saturdays, my workouts, and my Tuesday night playing cards with friends. My once-a-month beer tasting social club. Whatever else happens, I've got those things. They keep me feeling like I have enough variety in life, with a decent outlet to go with it.

Accept an active role, and talk to your partner about dividing the roles that you can. As a father, I couldn't carry the baby, and I can't nurse her. But now that she is born, and my wife handles the nursing, I can do anything else. And I do. I baby wear, change diapers, dress her, comb her hair, play, read, sing. Be involved. It helps take the burden off your partner, and really, this is something that should be a team effort. I reject the idea that there are "mother" and "father" roles in parenting (outside of carrying and nursing) because I want my child to grow up thinking she can be anything she wants, she can determine her own role in her life and make it happen. I would like her to look for a partner completely willing to help carry the heavy burden of life. We start setting those examples now.

So these are just some of my thoughts a few months into this parenting thing. I imagine that a lot of this stuff will be elaborated on, and that I'll learn even more as we continue this journey. It has been exhausting -- but thoroughly satisfying.

Monday, March 28, 2016

the Eastern States 20 Miler (Race Review)

This year I ran the Eastern States 20 Mile Run for the third time. It has become one of my favorite events of the year, and this year didn't disappoint.

I first ran the ES20 back in 2014 because I was looking to do more running away from home, in places that I could day trip to. I wanted to run places that would be neat to see, or seemed to offer a neat experience. The Eastern States fit that perfectly -- starts in Maine, goes along the entire New Hampshire Seacoast before ending in Massachusetts.

The first year I ran it we had overcast skies, some nice wind, and a seriously changed course because of bridge construction. I still had a lot of fun, and decided to go back in 2015. I was really glad I went back in 2015 because the original course was back. The field was also larger because it was the 20th running of the event, and the weather was gorgeous.

This year was similar to last year in many respects -- the weather was really, really nice. The volunteers on the course are excellent. I once again forgot sunblock, so I got a nice burn on my face.

I also took advantage of the race shuttle buses. The event is nice enough to offer buses to drive runners from (near) the end point into Maine at the start. While I appreciate the service, and it has a more than reasonable $5 fee, the timing is always tough for me. I usually get there early enough to be on the first bus. By that point, the coffee I've consumed means a bathroom break is immediate. I get on the bus hoping it will leave at the listed 7:30 time. Then we don't leave until 8:10. That is a long time to not have access to a bathroom.

Once at the start point the race doesn't begin until 11 am. I assume that is to take care of all the registration pickups, which are done day of. There are trade offs, as an early start time would mean having less of the runner's weekend consumed by the race, but the benefit of running the seacoast at the warmest part of the day is really nice, too. I don't really mind sacrificing the day to the event, overall. The couple of hours hanging out at the start line are a good chance to people watch or catch up with friends running the event.

Hopefully next year I'll be able to talk someone into dropping me off at the start, picking me up at the finish. Seems like a better way to do it. Could even lead to a tailgate breakfast at the start.

There's also something to the cameraderie at an event like the ES20. Many of the runners are using it as a last long run before Boston or a Spring marathon. Many of them know each other, and an acquaintance I saw before the race started remarked that watching the crowd mull around the starting line is more like a family reunion than a race. That is a big part of the culture to the event. On the shuttle bus back I always manage to strike up a conversation with someone. No matter how many races they have run, how many Bostons, whatever, people are always very nice and encouraging at the event.

I wanted to come in around 3 hours for this race, being that it is my last 20 miler for my marathon training plan. In 2014 I ran the event in 2:56:40, and in 2015 I ran in 2:49:15. This year I managed maintain pretty well at 2:49:59. I feel stronger than last year, even if that time is some seconds slower. I'm optimistic about Big Sur -- but certainly don't want to set any crazy goals for time. It is a challenging course, and more of the reason I'm running it is just to experience it. I'll be happy to finish strong and see the west coast I've long wanted to see.

I do think, however, that it is time that I migrate away from the Strava app and towards a watch. I'm going to still use Strava to keep track of runs, challenges, etc. But I had a big problem with the GPS on my Phone/App not picking up my location at all during the ES20. I don't want the same thing to happen in Big Sur -- a race I'll likely only get to run once. Phone apps always have seemed insecure when it comes to documenting longer distances anyway, so this move was likely inevitable as I am running more marathons.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Swamp Yankee Spring

The term "Yankee" connotes urbane industriousness, while the term "Swamp Yankee" signifies a more countrified, stubborn, independent, and less refined subtype.
--Wikipedia Article on "Swamp Yankee"


Here in southern New England, we live by an adage -- "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." This time of year, that adage proves especially true -- and it goes both ways. If you do like the weather, in five minutes you probably won't.

In my little corner of the world, we aren't just Yankees. We're called "Swamp Yankees" because our ancestors moved down from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and into the "swampy" parts of Rhode Island. We put up with not only the cold winters, but some especially rapid changes in the weather because of our close proximity to the ocean and the climate that goes along with the tidal estuary that is Narragansett Bay.

I like living here. I grew up here. I've moved around a bit, but this is a corner of the world in which I feel most at home. There are some very unique challenges to training here, but I think they give me a bit of added toughness when it comes to races in a variety of conditions. I've run in -25 degree weather, I've run in 98 degree summers. All spans of humidity. All types of wind, rain, hail, snow. You name it, I've run through it. In some cases all in one run.

I have to admit, though, that when we hit the vernal equinox and start bouncing from 60 degree days down to 30 degrees with several inches of snow, that's when I start to get frustrated. It is nice to have the added time with my daughter, nice to have another day with my family where we can spend time together, it frustrates the hell out of me as an athlete. I have all the issues of having to drag myself out on a cold run, while at the same time fighting with the strong urge to over train that comes with the nice Spring weather. It is the best and worst of both worlds.

I was concerned for my training plan Monday night that I would need to run in my spikes. Sure enough, true to New England form, the weather was mid-40s and sunny. So I went out in my Vibram KMDs, shorts, and a long sleeved shirt. This was an OK choice, I was definitely moving at a good clip, but by the time I hit the turn around four miles in, the sun was going down and I was getting chilly. I decided to head back a bit earlier. By the time I had gotten home, my ears were feeling pangs of chill from the drop in temperature. Had I worn a real hat that wouldn't have been a problem, but I took for granted the late sunset and how rapidly the temperature can drop that late in the day.

My GPS also cut out a mile for some reason, which really irks me, but whatever. It was a good run otherwise.

My legs have been feeling beat lately. I've thrown in some quadrupedal movement drills (a la Parkour) to build some more core strength and balance -- as cross training. I'm not sure, but I am feeling it a bit in my quads so I think I need to really check my form, make sure I'm evenly distributed on my arms and legs. I'm having fun with it, though, and using my basement as a training space. This week is more or less a mini-taper for Eastern States, so I'm sure I'll be OK for that race. Not planning to PR, but planning it as a training run for Big Sur. So, around three hours for that race will be fine with me. Weather (hopefully) will be a nice, sunny 45 degrees on race day without too much wind. Given how little I trust myself, and how much I dread being caught on the New Hampshire seacoast without a jacket should the need for one arise, I am thinking of bringing a bag with me. It will give me the added benefit of allowing me to carry some food and the race shirt, which I always end up carrying on my person after being bused to the start.

After Eastern States, I'll start one more build week of about 51 miles, and then the actual taper for Big Sur. My plan has me doing a two week taper rather than what I usually do (about three or four weeks.) We'll see how it goes, but given the reputation Big Sur has I'm not really setting any time goal. I just want to go and enjoy running on the other coast, seeing the sights and then hopefully jumping in the pacific at the end.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pancake / Long Run Saturday!

Excellent pancake breakfast this morning. Rose at about 7:30, did all the dishes, cleaned the kitchen and made batter, made up some banana pancakes. Will share the recipe below. About 8:30, woke up my wife to come eat, changed the baby and put her in her new high chair at the table. The new high chair is really neat and adjustable so we should get lots of use out of it. I have made it a ritual to take at least one picture of the child at the table a day, usually when we sit down to dinner in the evening. It is incredible how much she has grown in three months.

The recipe I use comes from All Recipes, but I tweak it a bit and add chocolate chunks, too.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten (I use duck eggs, strongly recommend them.)
 1 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup Chocolate Chunks or Chips

Mash bananas in electric mixer, then add in egg. Beat until blended, and then add other liquid ingredients. Combine dry ingredients separately and then combine while mixing. I usually beat them at a moderate speed for several minutes to whip more air in, too. Then cook on a medium-hot non-stick skillet and flip when bubbles show through the pancakes.

They come out awesome, and wow even my friends who hate pancakes. The bananas make them extra fluffy. I usually serve with bacon or corned beef hash (and veggie sausage for myself.)

Running-wise this week was a bust. Things were rough at work and with the plethora of other commitments I didn't get out at all. I'm planning a long run today, but I'll still only end up with 30 or so miles for the week, so I'm not fond of that. But I have learned that it is better to take some down time when you feel beat up, rather than push on and get injured. That was how I ended up with extensor tendonitis last spring and had to back out of my spring marathon.

I don't mind taking the time off in the sense that I know I won't be pushing harder than I should, and I remain confidence in the base I've built up this cycle. I am somewhat upset about the weather, though. It was really nice this week (60 degrees, even if it was raining.) We're in for more snow tomorrow and Monday, and today the temp is going to top out at 47. So we're having one last blast of Winter before "real" Spring (I call this "Swamp Yankee Spring".)

Next week is Eastern States on Saturday. With Good Friday falling the day before we may end up doing our breakfast then, or possibly Sunday. I'll be making my way up to Eastern States quite early on the 26th to get to the parking lot near the Ashworth (to catch the shuttle to the start.) Hoping for a nice sunny day. Nothing beats the New Hampshire sea coast on a day like that. I'll be writing a race report after I come back, so look for that in the next couple of weeks.

My wife has also expressed an interest in writing a guest post about her experience with PPD/PPA. I've blogged about it a bit before (although mostly mentioned in passing and not in-depth) here, here, and here. You may see that in the coming weeks. My post for this coming week was intended to be about the return of Spring, but because of the impending Snowpocalypse I may, in fact, post pone it.

Hope your weekend is well, and that you run strong and have some quality time with your loved ones.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Foothills and Mini-Taper

"...But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."

--Nelson Mandela


This next couple of weeks my plan has me working in a sort of mini-taper for the Eastern States. I'll still be running 18 or 19 miles in my long runs, but my weekly easy runs are cutting down to about 6 miles at a go.

I'm feeling OK about the work I did this winter. Hoping my legs wake up on race day, and I surprise myself but I'll still plan to have fun at the Eastern States and not go totally nuts about my pace.

As training plans go this one has what I think of as "training foothills" because I will build up to another 50 or so mile week before Big Sur at the end of April. I'm hoping this second taper period will also leave me in good shape for the marathon. At this point I am confident I can handle the 26.2 mile distance, but unsure of exactly what the pace will look like, not having run the course before.

Ended up not spending much time at home because of the work schedule and the training this last week and come Thursday night I was the only person who could soothe my daughter. Strapped her to my chest after hours of her fussing and she went to sleep after a half hour or so of my soothing her. My wife suspects that she missed me. I feel bad about that, but I'm not really sure what I could do. I have made a choice to be ready for this marathon. I am thinking that I will plan to take the full week off after Big Sur and spend it at home with my wife and daughter. I want to keep racing, so I'll pick another plan but I need some downtime after what has been a really busy winter.

Want to start getting the dog out for at least a mile a day, too. We'll see how the weather keeps up in March (because she hates snow, cold, and frost) but it would be good for her to lose some pounds after a really stressful and sedentary winter. She isn't the best running partner, but we had fun on our runs together (I stopped taking her out when I started running longer distances, but I'm hoping if I can get her pace together, maybe my wife can run with her when she resumes training.)

Got around to some errands that I'd been putting off for too long. Registry stuff, some bill stuff. With all the new responsibility parenting brings it has been hard to find space for everything else. Still need to get the inspection done on one of the cars, and get the dog into the Vet's office for her vaccinations. Fortunately my wife and I have a plan worked out for that.

My long run this last week ended up being abbreviated due to some stomach issues. Not sure what that was about, but I knew I wasn't going to stick out three hours on my feet by about mile 5. Managed to carry myself back on my own feet, covering about 11 miles total. Not what I had planned (19) but have to know your limits when your stomach gets mad.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Days that pass too quickly


My wife and I have been in awe of how quickly our child has been growing, and it is something we are both a bit sad about. I know that my daughter will only be this young once. There are a lot of fun things about a baby, aside from the late nights that come along with the age, there is also a very neat interaction that comes from being so close to a person so early in their development. We have gotten to feel tremendous gratitude as she starts focusing on things, reveling in her smiles, her early giggles and coos. We both felt a real relief that she smiles whenever she goes into the nursery to be changed -- she is in love with all the elephants in there.

I can't help but feel like maybe the depression we went through after coming home, and the rush to get back to work, and the sleeplessness cost me some bit of enjoyment in the experience. I can say I did the absolute best I could through this phase. I worked to support my partner and child whether I was home or not. I asked for help when I had to (and I wish I had asked sooner.)

We will do this again in our lives, I'm sure. We will have the experience of seeing another small person through this period of early development, and once again we'll be faced with the exhaustion and stress and the challenges of savoring the experience in spite of all those things.

I am excited to continue to be a part of this little person's life -- I am excited for the richer interactions that will come with more developed cognitive function. I can't wait to see who she becomes.

We've moved on from playing on the ground and tummy time to the addition of a bouncy chair. It has a bunch of flashing lights and gizmos designed for gross motor development, and so far it has been a lot of fun for the little one. My goal has become to get some video of her laughing -- but that has been tough because she is so fixated on that little blue snail that is stationary.

Running-wise things are going well. I am about 23 miles into this week and starting to really feel ready for my upcoming races. It helps that it has been in the high 60s here in New England, so I'm able to start shaking the winter cobwebs out and getting some speed added back to my running. It is starting to hit me that I'll actually be travelling out to California in another month -- I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little conflicted. I'm not wild about the idea of leaving my wife and four month old for three days. But I won't necessarily get the chance to run Big Sur again, so you have to go when the lottery calls.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Long Run/Pancake Saturday

One of the traditions that has become a part of my "New Normal" as a parent is that I get a large chunk of sleep on Friday night, and I'm able to get up Saturday and make breakfast while my wife dozes in bed.

Part of this is because on Friday when I come home, I'm able to relieve my wife and I'm often more useful because I have the energy heading into the weekend. If my wife wants to nap or shower, I can buy her some time but often we just spend time together as a family, have dinner, and head to bed. I get a large chunk of sleep, which leaves me feeling awesome for Saturday morning and my long run.

I get up in the morning, take the baby and wear her in the Boba wrap, and head to work in the kitchen cleaning, running the dishwasher and cooking. We usually listen to some old school music by the Ink Spots. Makes me feel like I'm in my grandfather's kitchen when I was a little boy, while he made pancake breakfasts. Usually he liked to listen to Benny Goodman (live at Carnegie Hall) but I like to mix it up from month to month.

I've tried a couple of pancake recipes (you can find them at all recipes or by googling) but the most frequent ones I make are banana chocolate chip, or pumpkin chocolate chip. I usually make some corned beef hash, or bacon for my wife. I make veggie sausage for myself. Once food is made I'll go wake my wife up (or let her sleep a bit more, if she wants) and then we all sit at the table for anywhere from a half hour to an hour and eat and have a great amount of family time. It is really awesome. On the plus side I usually have a few pancakes left over for breakfast on Sunday.

Planning on fourteen or fifteen miles today. I started to feel a cold coming on this week, so I cut my Wednesday and Thursday runs out. Should still end up with about 27-30 miles for this week, so I don't think it will hurt my training too much. I feel much better after all my rest and family time, and I'm looking forward to the long run today. This week was meant to be a slightly lower mileage week, so I don't feel as bad as if I had missed workouts during a quality/build week. Next week I'm back to build weeks though, so I'm going to do my best to stay healthy and take it run by run.

I've started some seedlings for my vegetable garden. I was surprised at how fast the cucumber seedlings really shot up. I'm going to need to put the plugs into some bigger pots with soil soon. Hopefully I can keep them healthy until they go into the ground (which is really supposed to be in May, but I may do that earlier if it looks like we'll be done having frosts in late April.) I'm also planning to grow Pepperoncinis, bell peppers, basil, lavender, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes. I'm going to need to open up some new beds for all of these plants, but I'm hoping to cut back on what we spend at the farmer's market this summer.

Travel plans are getting more solid for the trip out to California in April, and now this is starting to seem real. I'm really looking forward to this marathon. I can't even express my excitement. I'll be doing some writing about my training coming up in my Tuesday posts.


I run with Orion
and Orion runs with me
I dream of Big Sur
and Orion dreams with me

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Going Home

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill, I could see the city light.
Wind was blowing, time stood still. 
Eagle flew out of the night. 
He was something to observe. 
Came in close, I heard a voice. 
Standing stretching every nerve, 
Had to listen had no choice. 
I did not believe the information. 
I just had to trust imagination. 
My heart going boom boom boom. 
"Son," he said, "Grab your things, I've come to take you home."
--Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill 


The idea of home is a funny one to me. Throughout my life I've battled with it as a concept, and as a child who moved seven times before the age of eight, I was never very good at thinking of myself as coming from a specific place. Being a runner now, and running through areas that I've lived and grown up I know that I lean more towards sentimentality than those previous statements imply.

A given long run might go something like this: I leave the house I live in now (and love) and head south. Across the bay I see the place that I work, which I often think of as another home, due to how much time I spend there. I turn towards the west and run past the street we lived on when I was five years old. If I ran down the hill, as I sometimes do, I would see the old victorian where we rented the second floor. I remember having night terrors and hallucinations of bees in the bay window. The old creaky radiators, and my mothers old dual tape dubbing deck playing the sounds of the Allman Brothers Band in 1989.

Heading further west I could head down the old turkey trot loop, and pass the antique carousel, still in operation due to volunteerism and the generous support of the community. I can remember going there with my parents, my grandparents. If I'm running in the early afternoon of spring, I'll hear the old band organ cranking out one of it's familiar marches. The animated drum major jerks her arms, as if conducting the music. I loop back towards the main road.

Heading into the town where I spent my life from eight years old until age eighteen, I might run past the streets of many friends, teachers. I head back east, running along a main highway, and along the river. I grew up on that river.

I remember falling in, off our dock, at about age six. My dad had jumped in after me and pulled me out, one of the things I look back on now and realize the value he really did place on our relationship. We've had a really strange and rough journey that now exists in a state of estrangement. It is hard to forget the times he walked me to the bus stop, took me fishing and cheered me on when I tried all sorts of things.

I think of the numerous boating and fishing trips, muscling out distance in hand powered crafts, and not ever letting up, just keeping a consistent, steady effort. Maybe I was meant to be an endurance athlete and I never noticed it then.

I pass the apartment we lived in when we moved back. When I came home. There was such comfort in waking up and seeing the river I grew up with, as if it was an old friend just across the street, beckoning me to come out and spend some time. I started running along this same road, all of my loops happened around there. I can remember running my first eight miles and thinking I was going to make it home, not at the point of the loop where I was furthest from home, but at the point where I was two miles away, and feeling too fatigued to continue.

I've run through all kinds of conditions here, and at all times of day. I've seen the lights of two prolific suspension bridges from across the bay at four in the morning. I've looked out from one point and seen the next point, about seven miles away, only to run there in fairly short form. This place has grown more a part of me. I feel that it is, in many ways, an expression of who I am. Or maybe who I want to be. Or who I see myself as.

These experiences occupy a spot in my memory that I will always hold dear. There are a whole variety of places that make up this dense little part of the earth, but they represent years of antics, shenanigans. Joys and sorrows. Friendships, relationships, good and bad. These temporal moments coupled with the geographic location -- is that what makes this home? Is it the feeling in my bones when I step out into the crisp Spring air for my first barefoot run? Or that time I was overwhelmed with joy when my daughter's favorite song came on shuffle right as I rounded the nineteenth mile of my long run.

As a musician, I've always been really fascinated with this concept of home as well. Peter Gabriel's famous song, Solsbury Hill, is about striking out on his own from Genesis, starting a new, and finding his own path. That's all well and good, it is an excellent song, and anyone who knows me knows of my deep love for Mr. Gabriel's music ("He taught me to sing," --I'll tell you that story another time) But one of my favorite things about that song is the orchestral version. When he reimagined his own catalog with orchestral accompaniment I was very excited. Having grown up loving his music and also being an orchestral player I felt like this was the two parts of my soul forming and giving me an incredible gift.

For the live version of Solsbury Hill, the orchestral version, the orchestra quotes at length from Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". I know that might seem cheesy to some, and I know that what I'm going to propose next might be ridiculous, but for many of us in the music world "Ode to Joy" is a lot like coming home. It is something kids learn to play on recorders. It is a piece that beginning instrumentalists have studied for years. As a music student and orchestral brass player, I know it well. It has the same feeling of home that my river does, that my carousel does. Hearing Gabriel's orchestra break into the Ode theme in the middle of it -- it has the feeling of stepping out into that crisp spring air, for me at least.

I find myself thinking a lot about what my daughter will think of as home in her own construction. I'd like her to not have as limited a view as I did growing up -- I very specifically think of one geographic location as home. Can you imagine having multiple places that felt of home to you? There would be an ease in travel, I would think. That could be a big strength for a person.

Or maybe it doesn't matter where you are so much as who you are with -- maybe that is an ideal version of home? Part of my concern comes from the tendency to become too materialistic. If you only ever think home can be in a house, then you have to be able to buy a house. That is great, if you want it, but it is harder and harder in my country to be a home owner.

Anyway, those are some ramblings and musings on home and my roots, early experiences.