Sunday, July 25, 2010

An end to this year's Tour de France

Just had a sweet little moment between Brady and I, and it prompted me to jot it down in blog form so that I can remember it vividly at a later date. You see, Brady has become addicted to this year's Tour de France. He's watched nearly every stage, and I shouldn't admit this, but I've even let him stay up until 11 pm to watch some of the longer mountain stages! He asks a ton of questions every stage, but he probably knows more about the TdF than most Americans and maybe even more than the casual cyclist. He gets it.

He understands the yellow, green, polka dot, and white jerseys. He understands the rainbow jersey of the world champion, the difference between a sprint road stage, a mountain stage, and a time trial. He understands the country jerseys of the national champions. He knows all the teams, all the major riders, who the best climbers are, who the best sprinters are, who the best time trialists are, and what it means to be a "GC contender." He understands strategies for sprinters on the lead out, how to reel in the breakaway, why the riders in the breakaway work together and draft to stay away from the peloton, why they attack on mountain stages, and also about sportsmanship and when not to attack (I'll not touch that debate here!). He even refers to the yellow jersey in it's proper French name, the "maillot jaune." (Pronounced ‘MY-OH jzone’ for you non-francophiles.) He's even asked me, "Which team is Jerome Pineau on?" I said "Quickstep." And he replied, "Oh, so he's teammates with Sylvain Chavenal then." The point is that it's really impressive to know all this for a 5-year-old, and it should emphasize just how immersed he's become in this year's Tour.

What has made this Tour so special is that we've watched all the stages together, often at night, and often with him resting his head on my arm on the couch. It's not just an interest in cycling, but a time for us to be together and share in something. That's why today, the last stage in the 2010 Tour de France, was a little emotional. At the end of the broadcast, they did a 5-10 min. or so highlight montage set to music (Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars if you are curious). He was silent the entire time and I even thought he may have dozed off. When it was over and we turned it off, I asked him if he was still awake. He said yes. I asked what was wrong. He said, "I just feel like I'm going to cry." I said, "I know, it's sad when it comes to an end, but there will be another Tour next year and we'll watch it again." I said come on, let's go get lunch. As I walked out of the room, Alex (who isn't that interested in the Tour but watches from time to time) was following me, but Brady wasn't there. I walked back into the room to get him and there he was in a silent cry--the type of cry where he doesn't make noise but is the beginning to a total breakdown. He was bawling and I was having a hard time not getting choked up while I was trying to comfort him. I didn't want it to end, either.

But there is a happy ending. He started to feel better and we all ate some lunch together, and he went on and on about how someday he wants to be the national champion so that he can wear the USA jersey in the Tour de France when he gets older. And that he and Alex can be on the same team together just like the Schleck brothers (although Alex's favorite riders are Sammy Sanchez and Alessandro Petacchi). It was cute. But in reality, the odds of him being a professional athlete of that caliber are infinitesimal, but boy what a cool story this would make if he ever did. Of course he's also 5, and next year he may have no interest in cycling. Who knows? But for now, we're looking forward to our yearly Tour watch together in 2011.


When I woke Brady up from nap yesterday, I asked if he had a good nap. Thinking that maybe his feelings had calmed a bit after not thinking about it for a while, his reply: "Yeah. [Long pause] But I wish the Tour wasn't over." I feel bad for the little guy.

Oh, and one other thing I forgot to share when I first wrote yesterday...when I was making lunch for Brady and Alex after the Tour finished, they were sitting at the table waiting for me to finish. Some movement caught my eye and I looked over there and saw Brady mimicking Andy Schleck's celebratory fist pump after he won Stage 8 (see video below). I watched him for a few seconds and then he noticed me and sheepishly stopped as if embarrassed. I asked what he was doing and he said nothing. I asked if he was pretending to be Andy Schleck winning a stage and he smiled and shyly said "Yeah" with a great big grin. He's just too funny.

And Alex wanted to wear an orange tee shirt this morning to school to be like Sammy Sanchez (he wears an orange jersey)...these kids are crazier than I am. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Brady track update

I last reported that Brady was excited to run his practice mile last weekend and that I would post an update. Oh, how things change. He thought we were going to run the mile at a race with his teammates and friends and when I explained to him that he couldn't do it in a race until he does it in a practice, he was disappointed. He didn't want to run by himself and decided he didn't want to try to run the mile. I explained to him that you can't do the fun stuff (race) without first putting in the work (practicing it). He still kind of wants to run it, and says he'll try it in practice on his own first, but the ball is in his court. It's up to him now.

On a non-track-related note, Brady wanted to go for a bike ride on Monday (Melanie and I had the day off), so we took him out. He rode 7 miles and up some pretty big hills. I think he did pretty good but it did take an excruciatingly long time: 1 hour and 45 minutes. But he had fun so Melanie and I stuck it out. I was pulling Alex in the trailer and although he was getting a bit bored going so slow, he was a good trooper as well. The main thing is that Alex said he had fun and Brady loved it, too. So mom and dad just grinned and bear it.

On a related note, last night's track practice was something else. I should preface this by explaining how the track team practices and is divided. The team has kids ranging from 4 to about 14. They are divided into the 'little ones' (8 and under) and the 'big kids' (8+ and a few of the really fast 7 year olds). They warm up together as one group, but then run their practice within their age division. The coaches usually do not challenge the little ones much like they do the big kids so that there is no pressure and it's kept fun. I do like this because it keeps it fun, but there are a few of the little ones that actually want to be challenged. Brady is one of them. If he isn't pushed, he just sort of jogs. If you challenge him, he really goes all out and he actually has more fun.

So last night, none of the coaches were able to make it so one of the other dad's who has some coaching background coached the practice. Normally in practice, Brady runs his 200m repeats around 51 to 55 seconds each, and his fastest 200m time so far is in a race at 49 seconds. For the first couple of repeats, Brady didn't try real hard so the coach called him out and said he had to start hitting 45 seconds for his repeats. I wasn't there (had to work late but was on my way) but I got a call from Melanie.

Melanie: "What times does Brady usually run his 200s in?"
Me: "If he tries hard, about 51-53 seconds but if he's slacking he'll run around 55 seconds. Why, what's he running them in now?"
Melanie: "Uh, he's running them in 45 seconds."
Me: "What? No he isn't. Are you sure you're timing him right?"
Melanie: "Yes, and the coach is timing him too. He started giving Brady a target time to hit and he's actually running faster than some of the bigger kids who normally beat him."
Me: "I'm hurrying, I'll be right there. I have to see this."

So I finally get there and I get my stopwatch ready to time him. The little ones come up to do their run and the coach calls out, "Brady, you've got a time of 45 seconds to hit. On your marks, get set, go." I have my watch going and I have never seen him try with this kind of effort before! Sure enough, 45 seconds. My jaw nearly hit the grass. By this time a 2nd coach had showed up and when they saw my reaction, they looked over at me smiling and pointed to the watch shaking their head yes. I couldn't believe it. He was out-running kids he's never come close to beating before in practice. Wow. Needless to say, I was on cloud 9. Brady was pretty excited and after practice, I don't think he breathed for about 2 minutes while he talked and talked about it replaying it all for me. He was so proud of himself for running so hard and so was I.

We took him to Taco Bell for dinner as a treat, which is he and Alex's favorite place to eat. After dinner I watched the day's stage in the Tour de France and Brady wanted to join me. I was explaining to him the good riders, what strategies they were using, the rivalries, etc. He really got into it and said, "This is the greatest show ever! It's even better than cartoons." I know he didn't truly mean it, but that combined with his awesome performance at track practice, and he played me like a fiddle last night. I would have let him eat candy in bed if he would have asked. We let him stay up 2 hours past his bedtime to watch the Tour. :)

I'm one proud papa.