10/29/09

Phone is Fixed and Football is Finito!!!

After dealing with Mediacom for nearly a week, they fixed our phones today so we have telephone service once again. Talk about a headache...

Speaking of headaches, on the opening offensive play of the playoff game last night against Marshalltown, Zack suffered a concussion on a completed pass after the defender tackled him immediately after he had already thrown the ball. Down he went backwards and slammed his head on the ground. He was slow to get up and appeared a bit dizzy. As the game went on, his headache increased and he was confused at the coaches play calls and not running the correct plays due to his confusion.

Finally, the offensive coach asked him if was okay and recognized something wasn't right. They pulled him at the start of the 4th quarter after Zack was totally confused. He spent the rest of the game on the sideline holding his head and plugging his ears because the noise was too loud for him (and his headache). That's when we finally realized something was wrong with him. Although I saw him get yelled at a couple of times in the first half and he seemed a bit out of it on the sidelines. Now we know why...

We took him to the E.R. for safety's sake today where the doctor confirmed the mild concussion. No need to mention reading up on concussions in football and the dangers involved. Wow - it is scary!!!! I'm glad his head didn't hit again before he came out of the game. It was a very one sided game as we lost 49-14 and Marshalltown is now 10-0 as they advance to the second round of the playoffs. They were impressive from top to bottom with a very exciting offense.

Zack will heal, but he is not to do any athletics for at least a week. He seems better this evening compared to last night and this morning. It was our conversation at breakfast that had me recommend the E.R. visit. He was not very coherent and with all the concussions I have had from cycling, I recognized his symptoms. Luckily, he is doing better this evening. So it appears we have survived those crucial first 24 hours. Thank goodness...

10/26/09

H1N1, Football, Fall...

Well, that was an interesting week.

Alexa came home Tuesday night not feeling well at all. She ended up with a high fever Wednesday/Thursday/Friday which we tried to keep down with outside forces (ice, cold cloths, Ibuprofen, etc...). It finally broke late Friday afternoon and dropped to her normal temperature by Saturday morning. I played Mr. Nurse most of that time since I was on fall break from Simpson. That was phase 1, now she is in phase 2 which is a nasty sounding cough. She went back to school today and spent Sunday and today getting caught up on everything she missed. Was it H1N1? Who knows, but in discussions with the Doctor over the phone, they didn't want her coming into the clinic for fear of spreading it and the symptoms were close enough to possibly have been it. I'm glad she is feeling better and getting back to school.

She found out today that she made the Opus Honor Choir. 2 girls from IHS made it this year - Alexa in the alto section and another girl made it in the soprano section.

Zack had his best outing as QB on Friday night against Urbandale. He was 11 for 16 with 2 TD's, no interceptions and I think 147 or so passing yards. We lost the game, but Zack improved. Congrats to Urbandale on the win and their season as they have not made the playoffs since 1999 and one of their running backs set a new school record for career yards during the game on Friday night. Indianola enters week one of the playoffs with a game Wednesday night at Marshalltown (9-0). We are missing some key players due to H1N1, a one game suspension for poor sportsmanship and some injuries. Zack is keyed up for it, but we shall see what happens. Regardless what happens in the playoffs, he got some great experience the past 3 games at QB against tough teams like Dowling, Ankeny and Urbandale. That will prepare him better for next season.

Fall is here. In fact, the first frost this weekend along with some high winds and heavy rain yanked most of the leaves off of the trees in the last few days. There are not many leaves left to fall, but it is the season for chili, pumpkins, squash, hot cider, etc... . Yummmmmm!

Congratulations to one of my students (Joe Doering) who won the MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) voice competition on Saturday at Grinnell College. He bested all the other college student entries (age limit was 19 - 26) and advances to Columbia, MO for the regional competition in January. If he wins that, he moves on to Nationals. He had to sing 30 minutes of music for a panel of judges who chose Joe as winner over all of the entrants. One of my former students named Sarah Larsen won the MTNA in Iowa a few years ago, so it feels good to have another student claim that prize. Simpson had another student win the 18 and under voice division and will advance to Missouri as well for the regionals in her age division.

I am spending the next 2 weeks getting some of my students prepared for the regional NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) auditions in Rock Island, Illinois. We leave on November 6th for that 2 day event.

10/16/09

Le Nozze di Figaro...

All the hard work of the past 6 weeks comes to fruition this weekend as the opera I am directing opens tonight at Simpson. The good news is that we are sold out for all three performances of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Because of the sellout, the past 2 night's dress rehearsals had an invited audience since there were no tickets left for the weekend. We wanted to open it up to students, faculty and patrons who were too late in line to obtain tickets for a performance.

The students have worked diligently the past 6 weeks and have learned from the experience of taking on the experience of singing a four act grand opera. As stage director, there is a lot of problem solving that goes along with a production. The dramatic interpretation, choreography, helping the singers with their acting, sets, costumes, lighting, props, fixing things that get broken, delegating jobs to assistants, working around schedules, etc... . In short, it's exhausting - but well worth the exhaustion. I have been going on 4 - 6 hours of sleep every night for the past 3 weeks and am amazed my body has adjusted to that. The lack of sleep all ends this evening as I will be able to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I actually got 7 hours last night as I have fewer things to worry about now that all the rehearsals are finished.

I will miss Zack's football game tonight, but Mozart calls....

10/12/09

Fall Football....

Zack was the QB Friday night against Ankeny and for his first full game outing, had a decent game for his first start. He was 6 - 13 passing for 80 yards including 1 TD pass. Two of the passes not caught were right in the hands of the receivers, but c'est la vie. He asked one of the receivers why he didn't catch the ball that was thrown right to his chest and the receiver replied "I wasn't sure if you were passing it to me or somebody else." What?!!! Oh well.

This game was a real defensive battle and the final score doesn't really show how tight the game was until the very end. The score at half time was Ankeny 10, Indianola 3. Zack's touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter was followed by a high snap from the center for the extra point kick causing Zack to have to roll out and go for 2 extra points since there was no time to get the snap back down on the ground for the kicker. Unfortunately, the attempt was not a successful conversion as the receiver was covered by 3 or 4 defenders and the ball was batted away.

We entered the 4th quarter with the score Ankeny 10, Indianola 9. Ankeny failed to convert a first down and was forced to punt. Our punt returner misjudged the high, angled punt and fumbled it off of his chest in the red zone which Ankeny recovered and soon after drove in for a touchdown. That fumble was a huge game changer. Rats!!! We had good momentum on both sides of the ball right then and there and the fumble just seemed to zap all the momentum out of everyone. The remainder of the 6 minutes was a back and forth attempt to move the ball down the field and Ankeny's defense was just too tough as they contained the run. Ankeny drove down the field one last time and ran a nice sweep in the red zone for the running back to get in the end zone untouched. Final score 24-9.

Zack was pleased with his performance and was more than happy he got to get in there and play. He got sacked a few times, so had the usual Saturday morning aches and pains from a night on the football field. He just wished they had run more passing plays - especially some of the shorter routes to mix up the offense and keep the defense guessing. Ankeny had the run contained, but the coach kept calling for the run. The other QB played special teams and wide receiver as it seemed he was not injured. It sounds like they may be sticking with Zack at QB, but we will see. Zack certainly is ready for it. The upcoming games are not easy games as we face Dowling Catholic this week and Urbandale next week. Urbandale has the same record in our conference as we do, so perhaps that game will be a nice close game where things come together to round out the season. Dowling is tough. Final scores from the Dowling games seems like they are toying with each and every one of their opponents this season.

10/9/09

QB is Zack!!!

It's official, Zack starts at QB tonight!!!!

It has been a long wait for Zack with minimal playing time this season, but he gets to show his stuff tonight. It will be in the 40's or cooler at game time as the cold front rolls in from the northwest. Brrrr!!!!

10/6/09

Lost in Opera...

Here is my daily routine for the past 2 weeks and the next two weeks.

Get up at 5:30 a.m., feed the dogs, check e-mail, map out the evening's rehearsal for Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Teach all day. Come home for something to eat between 5 and 6. Rush back to the the theater and rehearse from 6:30 to midnight M-F. Weekends are 9 am to midnight.

I'll sleep starting October 19th...

Zack may be the starting QB this week as the other QB has some sort of a swollen artery in his head and is sidelined for most of the week until Thursday. The game is against the powerhouse team from Ankeny which has a dream defense and is one of the state's top ranked high school teams. Nothing like baptism by fire!! We shall see if he gets to get in there and play or not...

10/2/09

Lake Manawa Mountain Bike Mayhem report...

The final Psycowpath/IBMCS joint race this past weekend at Lake Manawa was the final race of the Nebraska Psycowpath season. It seems the fall weather had everyone on edge as to whether or not it would actually take place. Luckily, the rain that hit the day before the race was easily absorbed by the dirt and the race was on with excellent conditions. Cool temperatures and over 100 racers lined up for the action.

After an exciting Friday night on the 25th watching Indianola football team beat Southeast Polk in the 2nd overtime, I got up and visited with my son about the game on Saturday morning before he headed off to the Saturday morning shake down practice they do every Saturday. I hopped in the Element and headed off to Lake Manawa taking the scenic route of Highway 92 all the way. I arrived and had about 45 minutes to warm up and get ready. Due to the JET 9 recall, again I was riding the Sugar 293 with full 4" squish mode and I set the rear shock for cushion as there was no climbing on this flat course. I went with the Maxxis Aspen tires as their volume and tread seemed to be the ticket for the course.

There were only 11 racers who toed the line in the CAT 2 Open class at this race. And 5 of us were from Iowa racing in the IMBCS series. So this meant there were only 6 Nebraska CAT 2 Opens that showed up for the final race. The two other Psycowpath races I attended this season had 20 or so CAT 2 Open racers. Regardless, there were a total of 38 CAT 2 male racers on the line and 3 CAT 2 women. That's a healthy CAT 2 turnout when you combine all the age categories. I think the same thing happened last season where the turnout dwindled by the end of the season.

After the experts took off, my wave floored it to the singletrack and the deck was stacked with some fast guys via Rick Blackford, Chris Peterson, Brandon Harpster, Tyler Rushing, and Ryan VanHouweling. My little chicken legs settled behind these guys going into the singletrack and were immediately in an 11 man pace line. Ryan misjudged a corner in one of the first few turns and it wasn't long after I went around him that he powered his Niner right back around me. This course rides like a really long time trial with all the wide open flat sections scattered between the tight and twisty sections. I was keeping the gas turned on full on the flat connector sections and passed a couple of guys during lap one.

I found that the Sugar's bottom bracket is a bit low with my 180mm cranks to be able to carve and lean the Manawa turns and still pedal through the turns. I kept getting pedal strikes on the ground while leaned over and carving turns. I don't have that problem on the JET or the Dos, but it wasn't enough to really bother me too much. The course was just as I had remembered it and I found no surprises which is good, because I did not pre-ride it. I only washed my front tire out one time which was during the second lap on a sharp left turn on some gravel. I didn't go down because I planted my left foot on the ground to stay upright and didn't even lose my momentum as I clipped in again.

In spite of the rain, there was not much mud at all. I think I only ended up with a few drops of mud on one leg which you can see here as I come out of one of the flat connector sections.

Manawa Mayhem

I got passed at the end of lap 2 by a couple of guys from the 35+ wave that started behind us. I tagged on to hang with them for most of lap 3 and I passed one of them back right before crossing the finish line. I ended up in 7th place out of my wave of 11 CAT 2 Open racers (about the same as last year where I was 6th). My time of 1:19:16 was nearly a full 5 minutes off the winner's pace (Chris Peterson) and 6th place was 1:41 ahead of me. I gave it all I had, so I don't feel like I could have made up much - if any - of that 1:41 at my age. Looking at the ages of the results, I'm 11 years older than the next oldest guy in our group. Dang!!! Yup, it's probably time to rotate into the 45+ group now that I've hit 48. ;-]

Post race, I enjoyed catching up with Matt Gersib on all matters 29"er. He was racing the 3 hour marathon race and snagged a 3rd Place podium spot.

Chatting with Matt

Hats off to the cast and crew for running a smooth event. I didn't make too many of the Psycowpath events this year due to my decision to hit up some of the Minnesota and Wisconsin series events.

I jumped back in the Element, stopped at Subway on the way out of the area, and took 92 back home on cruise control to get ready for the evening's opera rehearsal.

The Manawa race may have been the final race of the season for me depending on whether or not Sugarbottom takes place this Sunday with all of the rain across Iowa at the moment. I'm hoping it does take place because I love riding at Sugarbottom and haven't been over there this year to ride. I fear if they postpone it, I am too busy on the coming weekends with the opera to be able to make the trip over to ride.

Update: Sugarbottom is postponed to October 11th.

Double Update: Sugarbottom was canceled on the 11th due to wet conditions. So Lake Manawa was once again the end of the season for me - just as it was last year.

I'll be sitting out in the cold and the rain tonight to watch Indianola up at Johnston in another high school gridiron contest. Both teams are 4-1 at this point in the season and of course - somebody gets to win and the other team has to lose. It should be another close game to add to the last 3 weeks of very close games. 2 of those 3 were won in OT and it doesn't get any closer than that. However, this game will be the first where the temps will be in the 40's at game time. Brrrr.....

Update: It was cold, but I had the right gear to stay comfy in the stands. Indianola lost (big time) 45 - 21. Zack played QB in the 4th quarter and looked good.