I drove up to Solvang a few weekends ago, and waddled up to Sanger Wines for a tasting. The standout vino was this one: the 2015 Sanger Consilience Cabernet Sauvignon. You won’t find the Wine Gods rating this one – but who cares? You pour this vino into a glass and it has an aroma that just screams “drink me immediately!”
This one hits your tongue like a bomb. An awesome, delicious bomb.
If you’re in CA, and find yourself taking a page out of the movie Sideways, swing by Solvang and hit the Sanger Family of Wines tasting room. Ask for this one – it will NOT disappoint. Pair it with a burger from the place across the street, called Succulent.
From all accounts – he was one that tried to make those around him smile, even though the darkness followed him internally.
In 1990, Robin starred in a film called Awakenings alongside Robert DeNiro. The movie was based on the book (and life experiences of) Dr. Oliver Sacks – a resident of my small home town of City Island, New York. My grandparents lived on Horton Street on the island, in a little one bedroom apartment that was across the street from the Doc. I remember Dr. Sacks as being a quiet, reserved man with a bushy dark beard, who preferred the pleasant sound of silence over the droning of detailed conversation. His house had a front porch that was in need of some TLC…and a coat or two of paint. As a Clamdigger (that’s a person that was born on the island), I didn’t know the Doc was one of our resident celebrities (the other one being my primary care physician at the time – and the man that told me “marathon running can be fun – as long as you enjoy being sore for about a week” – Dr. Norbert Sander…..to this day the only native New Yorker to ever win the New York City Marathon). I had the pleasure of “chatting” with Dr. Sacks on a number of occasions when I was young and visiting my grandparents, and a typical back & forth would mostly sound like:
“How’s it goin’?”
“Quite well, all things considered. And your schooling?”
“I’m not failing anything.”
“Be not a champion of mediocrity, good sir.”
I thought of the Doc as just another dude with an out-of-control beard and an affinity for ties that didn’t quite make it to his beltline. But then 1989-1990 came around, and his book was being turned into a movie with Robert DeNiro….and my idol, Robin Williams.
As part of the deal to film the movie, the movie company agreed to shoot some of the scenes at the end of City Island, only 2-3 blocks away from Dr. Sacks’ house…and my grandparents’ apartment. Each night, during filming, a bunch of Clamdiggers and Musselsuckers (those are people that live on the island…but suffered from the grand misfortune of not being born there) would watch them film scenes from behind the wooden police barricades…and every single night, without fail, Robin would walk up to those barricades and say hello to each and every resident, focusing primarily on the little kids. God he would make those kids laugh. He’d make the adults crack up so hard they’d return home with tears in their eyes. The following night, they’d all return once more to watch…and Robin would once again put on a show. He was warm, absolutely hysterical, and when he spoke to the kids…you could tell that it brought him joy to spread happiness among them.
Instead of staying in some fancy hotel in Manhattan, Robin elected to stay at the only real B&B we had on the island, and would swing by the City Island Diner for a meal or two. He never came across as spoiled or elitist. He seemed to carry his fame lightly. He was my favorite comedian before they filmed that movie – but by the time they finished it, he was my idol.
This is one of the most uplifting 4 minutes I’ve ever seen in a movie. It’s the climax of the movie Saint Ralph. As a runner, it’s pretty incredible…
The words are what gets me:
I did my best – It wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, as I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth – I didn’t come to fool ya;
And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song,
With nothing on my tongue but….Hallelujah.
Sure, Ralph loses the race. But the fight is what matters. He fought. He didn’t quit. If there’s still time on the clock – if there’s still a distance of road between you and and the finish line – then there’s still a chance you can win the day.
50 years…don’t they go by in a blink.
As I sit here and write this, it’s approximately 9 PM Pacific time. As I am a native New Yorker, this means it is just a minute or two after midnight on November 24th. Therefore I am officially 50 years old…and one thing is for sure: I need to get my ass in gear.
I mentioned in a blog post last week that I would summarize my goals for the upcoming year in the coming days. Well, today’s the day. I’ve used the same quote over and over again “if your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough”. I’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about the road ahead, and after 3 1/2 hours of contemplating this (accompanied with at least three glasses of red wine), the end result scares the living shit out of me.
Perfect. So let’s talk about the particulars.
I’m breaking my goals down by “type” – for lack of a better way of describing them. While I was told by a few people that I should start with the physical goals, as everything else really bases itself off of my overall health…I believe that one personal goal is more important to me than my own health: my kiddo. I need to be a better dad, plain and simple. Over the years I have not been the greatest positive influence on my daughter’s life; however, that changes starting today. Like I said a paragraphs ago: as long as there’s time left on the clock, you can still win the game. I need to be a better father to my daughter – and going forward I will be. This needs to be my primary priority.
I’ve developed a new daily workout plan, which requires some effort in the morning as well is in the evening. While this is not new, the dedication required to get this done daily and form a solid habit is different. I spent some time today looking at the medals I earned over the years in running and triathlon, and I realized that I need to get back to this level of focus. I realize now that I’ve lost that focus over the past several years. There’s no excuse for this… I just simply let myself down. This cannot continue.
Starting today my training will be an ongoing daily positive habit that will hopefully fill me with endorphins that will drive me through the rest of the day with a very positive frame of mind. I’ll balance this workout regimen with a corresponding change in my diet. I’m lessening my carbohydrate consumption and greatly increasing my protein intake. The result will be a heavier dependence on fish, and a much lesser focus on French fries. The goal will be some significant weight loss over the next 12 months.
Athletic and Charitable Goals
So this daily training should be put to some further positive use. So I’ve begun to develop my race schedule for 2021, and I’m going to be pushing myself harder than ever. Things begin in January, as I’ll virtually run the Dopey Challenge from December 31st through January 3rd. This means that I am going to run a 5K on Thursday, a 10k on a Friday, I have marathon on a Saturday, and a full marathon on a Sunday. Now the reason why this run is so important is because I am running to raise money to help in the fight against autism for a charity known as the Flutie Foundation. Here’s the information, just in case you’re thinking about making a donation:
My training will continue during the first quarter, leading up to the 2021 LA Marathon on March 21st, followed by my first IRONMAN event of the year – IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside on March 27th. These races will not require me to travel much, so I can easily get to the starting lines from my place; however, this distance will be difficult as you are required to swim in the Pacific Ocean before hopping on your bike for 56 miles and then running a half marathon. This is a very popular race, its well-run, and I am greatly looking forward to it. I am running this race to raise money and awareness for charity as well: The IRONMAN Foundation. Here’s some information on that charity just in case you’re interested in donating. Donations are tax-deductible.
So the first quarter will draw to an end with a flourish. During the second quarter, the athletic highlight will be the 2021 IRONMAN Couer d’Alene in later June. Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles, and then score a small tattoo on my right calf.
The third quarter will be filled with a rather interesting endeavor, keeping me dialed in enough for the 4th quarter’s festivities. In October, I’ll compete in the 2021 IRONMAN California, and then in late November I’ll give IRONMAN Arizona a shot, again with a goal of raising awareness and donations for the IRONMAN Foundation.
Let’s be honest: I’ve also not been a great friend to some people that mean awful lot to me. My ignorance has no excuse, and it ends today. Going forward, I will let the important people in my life know just how important they really are. I won’t just talk the talk – I will walk the walk. This is long overdue. Why some of my friends even put up with me for so long I do not know.
The other main goal I have for my 50th year on this earth is finally completing my book. It’s been a long time coming, and I stopped and started writing this novel several times over the last 6 to 7 years. The time is come for me to finish it up and publish it this will be the year that I get that done.
Another important goal for me in the upcoming year will be to have more of a positive impact on my neighborhood. I’m going to look to get more involved in the community, hopefully helping with the homeless problem and offering to mentor. Donating money is one thing, and that’s nice is couple points: opportunity or time is much more valuable. I need to do more of this. I’ve been lazy. This ends now.
I’m going to also expand my knowledge base this year. I’m going to learn a certification as a sommelier, I’m going to learn how to play the ukulele, I’m going to practice my Italian, learn some French and get back into the practice of speaking some Japanese. I’m also going to learn how to cook a little bit.
Another way that I’m going to try to provide a more positive message is by reestablishing my podcast and just trying to focus on positive things going on, whether they be marathons, triathlons, other athletic events, or just human interest stuff. Over the last few years we’ve all been inundated with negativity on a daily basis. Social media and the news – let’s be honest here – have been a constant source of negativity 24/7. With my podcast, I’ll try to accentuate the positive. I’m going focus on sports, obviously, as it pertains to marathons triathlons and endurance events. The bottom line here is that I need to send a more positive message anyone who would be willing to listen to me. Lord knows I’m not a genius, but I just feel like something positive needs to be done, and if not me then who.
And last – but not least: Starting August 1st, I’m considering a long distance endurance run from the Presidio of San Francisco to San Diego in order to raise money and awareness to fight spinal muscular atrophy. SMA is the number one genetic killer of kids under the age of two globally. As some of you may know, this disease killed both of my brothers. While other diseases have millions of dollars thrown at it, this one does not. If my efforts can help raise a little bit of money to fight this disease then all the better. It’s going to take approximately 18 to 19 days and I will need to average somewhere around 32 to 34 miles a day. So IRONMAN training will be a daily requirement for me over the next nine months in order to prepare for this. This one is not going to be easy… But the juice is definitely worth the squeeze.
I know that’s a laundry list of things to read. I’ve drawn up a lot of goals – I’ve thrown a lot of stuff out there and quite frankly I do not know if I’m going to be able to accomplish it all. The cool thing is though this list scares the living shit out of me. If I can get some of this done, then I think I will move the dial in a positive direction just slightly. If I can get it all done, then I will feel like this was a year of solid effort that paid off.