Tag Archives: Football

Four Triathlons in 2014

RenManTriAs I sit on my couch watching Rudolph on CBS, I don’t feel like a good triathlete.  However, much of this year has been devoted to training for one specific triathlon.  So how could I continue the theme of Mount Rushmore of things without first hitting a major component.  In the 12 months prior to Ironman Chattanooga, I competed in three sprint triathlons, three Olympic triathlons and three half distance triathlons.  So let examine the “full body of work” to see which are my final four picks.

Quad City Sprint Triathlon in Davenport, Iowa is my yearly pilgrimage to the home of John Deere and to race with my friend Rhonda Cox.  This was such a special race this year because of an hevent that happened later in the summer, which I am sure that will come up at some point later.  This race is run by a few other humans each year.  However, this was the second year that Rhonda, her sister Leigh-Ann and I have run this race on Saturday and then driven to Joliet, Illinois to compete in Warrior Dash, IL. The best part of the triathlon is the turn around point on the out and back run, a John Deere tractor.  The best part of Warrior Dash is Portillo’s Italian Beef sandwich.  Yes, food is that big of a deal that I would endure mud!  The Quad City Triathlon was important this year, and I am sure it will be just as important in 2015!

Renaissance Man Olympic Triathlon was probably my best run event this year. My bike was was consistent, my swim was strong and the run was HOT but I managed to finish without having a redheaded heat stroke.  This is a great event!  Florence, Alabama makes for a wonderful venue for a triathlon as it is tucked along the Tennessee River and home to many historic places.  The start and finish location is a majestic cliff guarded location which will stir the blood of most any veteran triathlete.  The bike is long and flat with some challenges but for the most part fun!  And the run energetic and historic.  I loved running by the Frank Lloyd Wright home just miles from the campus of the University of North Alabama!  If you are ready for an Olympic distance triathlon and in the region, don’t wait, sign up for this race. (Photo Credit to Katie Beth)

Ironman 70.3 Raleigh was great!  I loved the town, loved the food, loved the course and it was a fantastic road trip!  This was thanks to a lot of supporting cast.  This one probably made the top four because of the food, friends and fun I had along the way.  I struggled on the swim, liked the bike and the run seemed longer than 13.1 miles.  You can see why the adventure was better than the race itself.  However, I really like the point to point race!  Raleigh was an awesome venue and you couldn’t ask for better than the Oak City!  I really wanted to try Raleigh in 2015, however, I need to harass children that weekend!  Raleigh 70.3 was great!

Ironman Chattanooga will be a memory I take with me for many, many years.  The volunteers were fantastic and who could ask for a better swim!  This was the race I focused so much of my time on in 2014.  Hearing the words, “Ruth Marie Oliver, you are an Ironman” and having Dana DeBardelaben give me my finisher’s medal was worth all the foot blisters and long hours on the bike.  The coolest thing about Ironman Chattanooga was that people were cheering me on, event though they were not on the course.  Thanks guys! Whether you were in Chattanooga or on some social media portal cheering me on, thanks from the bottom of my heart!

That is my year in triathlon! Sprint, Olympic, half and full, these were the best four and one from each distance… couldn’t plan it any better!  Atomic Man wouldn’t make the list any year!

Home for the Big Games

Rhett's BellLast year I was not in Starkville, Mississippi for the Egg Bowl and wasn’t watching the Iron Bowl on my couch in Huntsville, Alabama.  I was in Baku, Azerbaijan with a nasty sinus infection.  In recent years, I have lived vicariously through the successes of both Alabama and Auburn nationally as I cheered proudly for the Bulldogs to win all they can each year but most importantly to beat “the school up north”.  Today, I will be watching both games in the same time zone as the games are being played.  But first, I wanted to reflect just a bit on where I was last year when Bo Wallace fumbled and the famous Kick Six happened.

First, it was Thanksgiving Day in the United States and Egg Bowl day in Mississippi.  I was ten hours ahead of Mississippi time and watching the game on my iPad with help of an app called Hide My Ass.  I traveled to Baku with my cow bell but mine wasn’t the important bell. My nephew Rhett’s cow bell has never seen Ole Miss beat Mississippi State.  Each and every Egg Bowl where Rhett and his cow bell have attended, the Bulldogs have won!  I have included the photo which was texted to me by Walt after last year’s game.  I was tucked away in my room at the Excelsior Hotel when the game was winding down and headed into overtime.  I felt like State would lose in OT.  I am sure the final play was over minutes before I saw it in Baku, however as soon as I saw Bo Wallace fumble the football, I grabbed my cow bell and ran around my room and down the hall of the 5 Star hotel ringing it loudly.  I could feel the victory on the other side of the planet!  Too bad the bar was closed, I would have bought the house a round!  They wouldn’t have a chance to kick me out of the hotel, because I moved to another hotel the very next morning.

Two days after Thanksgiving the Iron Bowl was held on the campus of Auburn University.  Again I was watching the game with help from technology to hide my IP address.  It was more difficult with my step down in hotels and I kept falling asleep. Each time I would wake up to check the game, Auburn was losing.  Finally, I turned off the live streaming feeling as if Auburn’s luck ran out after their Hail Mary pass against Georgia the week before.  I rolled over in my bed knowing that Alabama would win and eventually play for the National Championship.  The football gods had a different plan.  Anything can happen during an Iron Bowl with time still on the clock.  With one second left to play, the improbable happened when a missed field goal was returned by Chris Davis for a touchdown.  While Auburn fans and students flooded the field in Auburn my phone erupted in Baku with text messages and FaceTime calls from the friends.  I heard form people who I didn’t speak to on a regular basis when I was in the states much less while I was in Azerbaijan.  I didn’t even know what had happened except Auburn had won!  I quickly went to YouTube where within minutes Vern & Gary’s call had been uploaded.  I watched in astonishment as Nick Sabam and Alabama didn’t really know what had happened either!  Auburn was headed to the SEC Championship and eventually a face off with Florida State.

WOW! Two great endings to a game within two days of each other and I was around the world to experience it all.  Today, I have heard the ESPN Game Day crew, as well as Tim Tebow & the SEC Nation crew say “where were you when…”, I was in Baku!  I wouldn’t change that at all.  However, being away last year has made me more thankful for being at home today.  This year MSU is in the mix of a playoff berth but we will need a win today in Oxford and some help from Auburn.  Today, I don’t have to live vicariously through an Alabama football team or the internet.  I am home to watch the drama unfold on live HDTV.  I love SEC football and no matter what happens, I am proud of the Bulldogs!  Hail State & War Eagle!

And just for kicks… Go Gators!

Hail State

Hail StateWhile standing in line at Barnes & Noble behind three Mississippi State fans buying Sports Illustrated, I realized this week has been very gratifying for a Mississippi State fan living in the state of Alabama.  I’ve lived in Huntsville, Alabama since 2002.  I quietly come and go each day not knowing how many Mississippi State fans and alumni surround me. However this week, it seems like they came out of the woodwork, but really they have been around me all along.  In a state full of houndstooth and War Damn Eagle, we have lived vicariously through other schools’ success.  No disrespect, we have been the yard dogs for quite sometime.  Mississippi State has never been ranked number one. But this week, we have been invited to eat with the big dogs.

Monday morning, I wore my MSU pull-over to the gas station where I encountered a man who I had never seen before and appeared to be homeless called me a band wagon fan.  Little did the man know, I grew up on a farm 45 minutes from Starkville, Mississippi, a farm with parents who both attended Mississippi State University, a farm where I had yelled and cried at radio and television broadcasts detailing the ups and the downs of the Bulldogs.  No sir, I am not a band wagon fan!

Thursday night, a chaplain going to the Space & Rocket Center’s Biergarten saw my maroon and white colors.  He stopped in his tracks and gave me a hug. “So proud for those dawgs”, he proclaimed and then talked about how much he admired Dan Mullen.  So many people at work have been excited for me and the other fans of Mississippi State.  It really is uncharted water for Mississippi State.  I think Dan Mullen and quarterback Dak Prescott will captain the ship through these waters to a successful season.  I am still just like any true MSU fan, it isn’t successful unless we beat Ole Miss!

In a response to more cowbell, they are selling cowbells in Huntsville, Alabama!  Local book stores have ordered extra issues of Sports Illustrated over the last two weeks. There was a sign last week at the MSU and Auburn game, “Win or lose, at least I don’t live in Alabama”.  I miss my home state tremendously, but this week has been really fun.  The Magnolia State Mayhem has bled over into houndstooth country which makes me happy and proud of my Bulldogs!  I am not about to predict Mississippi State making it past University of Kentucky, but I have enjoyed this week in my second state!

February 4, 2012

8MAR12“As much as I love Peyton Manning… I don’t want him to play next year if he is not a Colt!”  That was my Facebook status during the week leading up to Eli Manning’s second Super Bowl win in Peyton’s House.  Skip forward to today, less than 48 hours away from Super Bowl 48 (I am not Roman).  Peyton is trying to win his second Super Bowl as his Bronco’s get ready to play in Eli’s House!  At the time I couldn’t imagine Peyton being in any other uniform than Colt’s blue & white.  Today, I can’t imagine Peyton in any better position than he is now; leading his offense to the top of the NFL.

I am very loyal to Peyton Manning, my boyfriend.  I couldn’t imagine him outside of Indianapolis, Indiana.  There is a children’s hospital named for number eighteen in Indy.  But in all of my loyalty, how could the Colt’s think of saying goodbye to Archie’s second son.  Peyton won my heart when he chose the University of Tennessee over Ole Miss.  Many Ole Miss fan’s hated Peyton for his lack of loyalty.  I loved Peyton for his A-plus decision making ability. I spent weeks trying to wrap my mind around the fact that some pimpled faced kid called Andrew Luck could be more important to the Colt’s faithful than Peyton.  I guess the marketing campaign “Suck for Luck” didn’t win me over.

I was in a very difficult place in my life.  I had just started to swim. Swimming lead to running and running lead to cycling and eventually I became a triathlete.  I remember thinking up and down the pool the multiple options of Peyton in the rainbow of colors that possible would be his future NFL uniform.  I had convinced myself he would be an offensive coordinator or my pool boy.  I would even build a pool in my back yard to make the later a reality.  But I really didn’t care.  I was hoping to see the Indianapolis Colts do something completely unselfish and renegotiate Peyton’s contract to keep him a Colt for life.  Andrew Luck would be drafted as his heir apparent which would make the world a perfect place.

We know that didn’t happen.  Peyton had to recover from four neck surgeries.  Bill Polian described Peyton’s come back as possibly the greatest of all time.  Both Archie and Eli knew how far Peyton had to overcome as they played catch with Peyton at the beginning of his comeback.  I am a Duke football fan because David Cutcliffe, Peyton’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee helped in the comeback process. And during this whole process, he had to find a new home, a new team in a new city.  Peyton never saw himself as anything other than a Colt.  I didn’t see him as anything other than a Colt.  However the reality, was he would be a Bronco. He wouldn’t be just any Bronco, he would rival the great Bronco QB’s of old.

I could tell more stories, but the fact is he did come back! Peyton is in New York prepping for his third Super Bowl with his second team!  Peyton had the very best season any quarterback has had to this point in the NFL! And finally, Peyton Manning is one of the best people you will ever meet, not that I have. On Sunday, win or lose, I will cry at the national anthem and cheer the Bronco’s to victory.  The simple fact is I was wrong on February 4, 2012.  I did want him to play.  I wanted him to continue to be my hero.  Thank you Peyton for fighting back from your injury.  You have given this 37 year old athlete something to strive for and I will never be a pro athlete!  Thanks for making me cry at each step of your record breaking season.  Good Luck and God speed Peyton Manning!

Slacker in 2013…

So I am a lazy blogger.  I make many excuses, but the simple fact is I am lazy!  And now I missed my “year end blog” deadline.  Each year I write a top ten list of my favorite or most memorable events of 2013.  It is currently 2014 and I am just now sitting down to write.  Let’s see, where do I start.  It has been a tough year with many ups and downs.  There has been twists and turns as well as lots of change in my life.  But I have kept chugging through the days, weeks and months.  So lets look at some of my highlights!

Goals:  Early in 2013 my goal was to become a better runner!  I set the goal to run 500 miles during the 2013 calendar year.  I didn’t make that goal.  I hit 446 miles on November 9th.  Seems like I should have been able to run 54 miles in 8 weeks.  The running goal didn’t happen, but I had another goal for 2013 that did.  I wanted to get a stamp in my unused passport.  The week before my buddy left Space Camp in April I told her how envious I was of her adventurous spirit.  On November 16, I entered Baku, Azerbaijan and got my passport stamped.  I didn’t run while I was overseas and then I contracted the Baku Flu upon returning to the US.  I have 2014 to run 500 miles.  Plus, I did run a half Ironman triathlon, which was a goal.  It wasn’t terrible missing the mark!

Baku:  I spent a month in a crazy country with a made-up sounding name, Baku, Azerbaijan.  How could I turn down a chance to work with power tools in an all white building in a country whose language I had no clue how to speak. Seems like a win-win situation only if you throw in a bartender named Elvin! I loved working with the people of Azerbaijan and I miss them tremendously.  Forget the cow heads or bucket of hooves on the street curb or the fact that a restaurant told me my credit card was not accepted because it was black.  People should not judge someone’s credit based on color.  It was amazing, even if I missed a lot of great SEC football!

HTC:  In 2012, twelve of my favorite people, against our better judgement, decided to run Ragnar Relay from Chattanooga to Nashville, Tennessee.  Well by the grace of God and the sharp eyes of Sandy Henson, twelve more of my favorite people traveled to Oregon for the grandfather of all 200 mile relays, Hood to Coast.  We ran from Mount Hood to the Pacific coast near Seaside, Oregon in 29 hours.  It was an amazing with a wonderful storyline.   Shaggy had to go to the hospital. Jennifer Bell traded her shirt for a beer.  We had zero cellular coverage.  We slept in a van.   And I made some amazing memories.  It was an amazing adventure, one I would have never thought I would have been a part of just a year earlier.  My team mates were terrific and the scenery breath taking.

Grandpa:  This year we said good bye to a great man.  Most of the time you don’t recognize a death in a year in review, but I was lucky to know Grandpa!  I am lucky to know his family.  The DiCarlo and Hailey families are my Huntsville family.  They take care of me and make me feel at home.  Jerry Groff was their cornerstone for years.  Grandpa never met a stranger.  He was always concerned about other people, even if he had known you for 20 minutes he counted you as his friend.  I have a family here in Huntsville, because of Grandpa’s example to his daughters.  One of my favorite nights this fall was outside the Hailey house with Grandpa watching the Mississippi State and Auburn game. He was so concerned about each of his guests.  He told stories of life in Buffalo and Mel Tormé.  I hope when I am in the twilight of my life, I can be as gracious as Grandpa!

Homecoming:  I know a lot of my favorite things this year have been tied to my trip to Baku, but I can’t leave off the homecoming.  I missed so much while I was gone, Thanksgiving, birthday’s, football, Peyton Manning, and my mom even had surgery.  They didn’t have chicken biscuits or Diet Mountain Dews in Azerbaijan.  It seemed like being on the other side of the world makes you miss everything just a little bit more.  When I returned home, I had my best friend to pick me up.  However, little did I know a few more friends where their to greet me.  It was amazing.  To see friendly faces was so precious.  The hugs were priceless… but the puppy dog Santa graphic and alliteration of the welcome home signs was, I am sure, the work of a million dollar artist and wordsmith.  Thanks, little Snap, Hoot, Marcia and you too Kim & Tank!

HOF:  True, the Space Camp ditched their Hall of Fame event this year in a mysterious on again off again fashion.  Instead, I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame with my nephews in March and attended the National Aviation Hall of Fame Enshrinement in October.  Both adventures should have made my list separately but remember, I am a lazy blogger.  The adventure with my nephews was too cool.  They shared many toots and farts in the car ride with me.  We had fun in Louisville on the ride home.  I made them a promise to visit again when Peyton Manning is inducted.  The other trip was one I will remember for a life time because my high heel shoes killed my feet.  No really, I was truly honored to be in attendance when my astronaut hero Hoot Gibson was enshrined as a legend in aviation history!

70.3: I have always loved sports, but I haven’t participated at the level I should have.  I have always been a failure when it comes to sports.  I played basketball for a few years, quit.  I played golf and softball pretty consistently, but never as committed as I should be.  I even played college soccer for a year or so but sucked at it.  In 2012, I started running triathlons and in 2013 I completed a half Ironman.  I drove to Augusta, Georgia for the Ironman 70.3.  It was a great weekend.  I struggled on the run but smoked the bike.  It was a great accomplishment, but I do look forward to Raleigh 70.3 in June and Ironman Chattanooga in September.  I feel like I have given my all to the sport of triathlon.  We will see, I got a lot of shit to do to prepare.

Football:  Everyone knows that Peyton Manning is my boyfriend.  Well, Peyton may not know!  This has been a terrific year for MVP Peyton Manning and his Broncos.  More than just Peyton, this football season has been amazing and outstanding.  Much of the college and NFL season I spent overseas.  I spent many early mornings glued to my iPad or listening to ESPN Radio just to connect with SEC football and dear ole Peyton.  The nights I will remember for the rest of my life.  Bo Wallace coughing up the football in overtime during the Egg Bowl and my phone having an aneurism when Chris Davis ran a missed field goal back for a touchdown in the Iron Bowl.  I am lucky to have a boy friend like Peyton, to grow up a Bulldog, and to be adopted by my fellow War Eagle fans!  I love football!

Historically I have picked 10 things to write about.  However, I opted not to because I would dilute my memories.  I had a great year, but it has been a hard year.  I look to 2014 to be bigger and better.  I thought I would put my goals for the year as a conclusion.

Duh… Ironman Chattanooga:  I will have to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles.  I want to just finish, but I want to finish with a pace of no more than 14 minutes on the run.

Happy, Happy, Happy:  I want to find more happiness in my life.  I am sometimes described as grumpy or intimidating.  I want to be considered as friendly and giving.

Adventure:  I want to see more, do more and live more.  I want to travel and be adventurous.  Baku gave me a great start.  I just need to continue.  Let’s light this candle in 2014.

Running Through 2012

This has been a great year! I spent more time with my wonderful family. I have expanded my circle of friends, strengthened bonds with old friends. This was year I proclaimed, I am never too busy for my family and friends. I look forward to 2013 with fond memories of 2012 in my heart! Here are my top ten adventures of 2012… in no particular order.

Trip to Big D – A two days before Christmas my brother took his sons to a Dallas Cowboys game and I got to tag along. We drove from Mississippi to Tyler, Texas, birthplace of Johnny Football. Ate at the coolest and best Tex-Mex restaurant I have had the pleasure of eating at. Sunday morning we drove to the stadium for the game. The game unfortunately was a loss, but the adventure is the most important thing. The highlight of the trip was arguing with Rhett and Reece about having their photo made with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. The argument turned out positive, you can see by their smiles!

Camping at DeSoto State Park – In January, Amazon, Snapper, Speedo and I went camping near Mentone, Alabama in DeSoto State Park. It was the coldest weekend of the year. The low temperature was 18 Fahrenheit. We survived the cold temperatures, but we should have brought along a bag chair or two. During this camping trip the four of us made a pact to run the Warrior Dash in Georgia in May. It was apparent after that camping trip, 2012 would be a very different year and it has been.

Animals – Having the greatest dog in the world has definitely been a highlight of the past eight years. He is my most faithful companion. He is never more than a few steps away from me at home. He would follow me to work if I let him. His kind and gentle eyes make all things bad ok. This year we lost George, our giant white rabbit. Also during 2012, we added two rabbits to our petting zoo. These two rabbits gave us a litter of 7 kits. Have the worlds greatest dog and bunny rabbits only make me want a few goats, maybe some chickens and hopefully a pig or two someday.

Pirate Night with Hoot – It is always fun when the story includes Hoot Gibson. However, when you cap the night off with eye-patches and mustaches you know you have made an epic memory. Hoot was the rogue Naval Captain who stood toe to toe with the notorious pirate, the Dreaded Pirate Squirrel, who was stealing food from his bird feeder. Captain Gibson fired at the enemy Squirrel with his tactical pellet gun. The squirrel fired back as the pellet ricocheted of the bird feeder. Captain Gibson was doomed to wear an eye-patch. If it is good enough for Hoot… it is good enough for his Space Camp fan club! While at Otter’s, Hoot left the room and Marcia, Snapper and myself donned mustaches and eye-patches to support Hoot in his relentless battle with the Dread Pirate Squirrel.

The Dirt Bike – One day in late August, I visited Mississippi and hung out with my brother and his sons. During a trip to Leland, Mississippi, we purchased a Honda dirt bike. Some people say they want to grow up to be an Astronaut. Some people say they want to win a Super Bowl. I can honestly say, one of my first memories, was to own a motorcycle or dirt bike. I was a stupid, novice, dork the first time I rode the little Honda. However, I loved every moment of the stupidity. I road the little bike at Christmas. I was somewhat  scared of the little bike after hurting my knee, but I learned that the little dirt bike could still be fun and safe.

Running – This was the year that Red Bull got in shape. I ran relays, 5Ks, mud races, duathlons and triathlons. It all started when Camp of the Rising Son held at 5K in April of this year. I ran the CRS run in 32:59. I finished 2012 with the Rudolph Run in Huntsville by running a 5K in 28:48. Between the two, I hurt my knee and ran a 200 mile relay with 11 other crazy people called Ragnar. I don’t know how many miles I ran, but I am sure it is the most I have ever run in one year. The goal for 2013 is an Ironman 70.3 or half distance triathlon.

Swimming – I am not Missy Franklin or Michael Phelps, but I love to swim. On January 10th, 2012, I started a masters swim class which changed my world. This would be the spark that would lead me to run triathlons. I ran my first triathlon since college in Decatur, AL in July. It was so much fun. At the end of the summer I swam an olympic distance relay with Amazon and Snapper as my teammates, and oh by the way, we took second as a relay team. Not because of me, but because of my teammates!

Florida – I visited Florida a record four times in 2012. The first time was for a Youth Preparedness Conference in Orlando. I was there to talk about Be Ready Camp; however, the highlight of this trip was Mouse and Marguerite Long at Friday’s near my hotel. Trip two was Tampa for a Yankees Spring Training game where I saw Mariano Rivera pitch two outs in the fifth inning. His season was cut short in Kansas City shagging fly balls. This was my Tampa highlight. In August, I spent a few days with my brother in Destin. Just a few days with my family on the beach was magical! Finally, the Magic Kingdom. After recruiting at ERAU at Daytona Beach, I finished my year with my buddy Mouse near Cinderella’s castle. Enough said… my time in Florida was special!

Peyton Manning Returning to the NFL – Honestly, I had so many emotions last January when it was apparent that my long time boy friend Peyton Manning would not be the starting quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts any longer. He didn’t play in the 2011 season due to a neck injury. There was a part of me that wanted Peyton to retire from the game all together. I didn’t want to see him less than great! I tried thinking of every option for Manning. I imaged Peyton in a Cardinals, Miami, Texans, and Titians jersey and helmet. I was resigned to watching Peyton wherever he ended up and turn my back on Mr. Luck and the Colts. Fortunately, Peyton landed on his feet with his “laser rocket arm” in Denver. He has had an MVP caliber season in his orange and blue. Lets hope that in 2013 we can celebrate something more for number 18!

Ragnar – This was most definitely a highlight of 2012. I ran with my team, I slept with my team, and I even cried with my team. Nothing can really top spending 30 hours in a van with some of your closest friends and heroes. I am sure if we didn’t have Amazon it would have taken our team 48 hours to get from Chattanooga to Nashville. In the process of this whole thing, I learned I was approaching the old lady stage of my life. Check out our video from the adventure. VIDEO LINK

To everyone who has played a part in my life past and present, THANK YOU! I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store!

Holiday Traditions

The year 2011 is an odd year, which means it is one of the most glorious years! Every-other year the Egg Bowl is played in Starkville, Mississippi. This year I found myself in the stands of Davis Wade Stadium ringing my cowbell on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with my family.  The Saturday, I renewed a four year tradition of visiting Jack Daniels with Divot and friends for the December bottle signing with JD’s Master Distiller and Master Taster.  I also added a new tradition to my beloved list this week, watching Rudolph with my Madison, Alabama family as we enjoyed hot chocolate.

Traditions are important to me.  I have documented my tradition of wrapping Christmas presents in brown paper and displaying a feed troff (manger) in my home rather than an evergreen tree. I have always loved Thanksgiving and recently I have loved the years that Mississippi State played Ole Miss in Starkville even more. The past few Egg Bowls played at Mississippi State I have joined my nephews to enjoy the game from the stands. This year was no different. But I just have to mention how much I truly enjoy having my family together to watch a game and ring a cow bell.  Ringing a cow bell is absolutely addictive.  I suggest everyone try ringing a cow bell at a cow college before you die… but please ring responsibly.

This weekend, I visited Lynchburg, Tennessee for a bottle signing with Snapper, Kitten, Divot, and Christopher.  Divot and I first ventured up to Lynchburg for a signing four years ago and it was just as cold today as it was that first time.  Since the first visit, Divot and I have become Squires, convinced Snapper to enjoy bottle signings and I even spent time as a tour guide at JD. The point of me mentioning the tradition is a new tradition started at Jack, the Holiday Select bottle.  Jack Daniels released a line of 100 proof whiskey from 140 barrels.  The used barrels from the special Holiday whiskey were then fashioned into a Christmas tree.  How cool of an idea? Yes, I know that it is all marketing.  However what a clever idea to provide your customer with a product and a symbol of Christmas.

Rudolph, I am sure everyone has watched the 1964 TV movie.  But have you watched it with your family and friends gathered around you as if it was as important as The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the SEC Championship game.  This past Tuesday night I visited the DiCarlo family home for dinner and a movie.  We watched Rudolph.  I had not watched the movie since I was a young child.  I honestly didn’t remember the story line.  This fact only made it more memorable for me.  It is so special to enjoy peoples company at Christmas time and share family traditions.  Recently, I have missed my family a lot.  I can’t even describe how important family is to me.  This Rudolph tradition maybe simple, however, it is a wonderful time spent with the people you love.

Finally, this year is most defiantly an odd year.  In my house for the first time is a Christmas tree.  I know you are thinking what is wrong with Ruth Marie.  I finally caved to the power of the tree.  However, the feed troff is still being displayed right next to the tree.  I have realized that life is so much better if you have lots holiday traditions.  Life is so much greater when you have things to look forward to.  Life is so much sweeter when you have your favorite people around to enjoy the ups and downs, the good and the bad, and most importantly the traditions of life.

Attention Future Sorority Girl

Yesterday I was at the Auburn homecoming game. It was an amazing day with the honoring of Pat Sullivan’s Heismen season in 1971. The day ended with an Auburn victory and a safe trip back to Huntsville. The great thing about Auburn, just like most college campuses in America, is their tradition around football. My favorite Auburn tradition is the flight of the eagle around the stadium just before kick off. And it was just before the eagle’s flight that I spotted the subject of this blog.

There was a young girl about four rows in front of where I was sitting in the stands.  I am hoping she was a high school student and there is still hope for this poor unfortunate child.  This girl, lets call her Fantasia, looked like she could have been twenty.  She made a ruckus from the moment she entered the stands.  She was taking photos and moving around from seat to seat. She looked disappointed at her friends that there was something taking the attention away from all eyes being on her. When the eagle flew, she proclaimed in a high pitched voice, “Will it get me?”

Fantasia spent more time facing her friends in the stands than watching the game.  She stood up for minutes on end turned away from the football field talking loudly about beauty products and Justin Bieber. Right before half time she stood up and brushed her hair. “This is Jordan-Hare Stadium not Paul Mitchell beauty salon!”  The couple that was sitting next too me noticed her too.  They joined me in mocking her just before the band took the field for the half time show. Then it happened. When the Auburn band and the entire stadium joined in preforming the school’s alma mater, Fantasia turned to multiple people franticly asking, “what is going on?”

Therefore, I proclaim to all young girls who hope to one day be a legitimate fan, do some research before you go to a football game.  Please don’t be a dumbass!  So many of my friends have been in sororities and still know more about college football than Kirk Herbstreit.  Then there are the girls that only want to go to school to socialize and party with their greek letter friends. Fantasia, don’t diminish your reputation and the reputation of your sisters by being an idiot.

Fantasia, if you are planning to be a sorority girl in the S.E.C. you may need to learn a little bit about football.  Yes, go get your Nike running shorts and rain boots, but also pick up a copy of Dixieland Delight.  That book will teach you about SEC traditions and might give you helpful tips on how to get a boob job payed for in Georgia. Please, live up to your potential Fantasia, don’t pester the people you are sitting around by being an air head! Education is the key to enjoying life!

Sinner vs. Center

Tonight when I heard of the passing of former Mississippi State great and Buffalo Bills, Kent Hull, I was transported back to French Camp, Mississippi. Kent was a member of the Buffalo Bills teams that went to four Super Bowls. He was selected to 4 Pro Bowl teams. But most impressive, Jim Kelly touched his butt on a regular basis.

Kent Hull also sent his son to camp each summer at Camp of the Rising Son. I remember one afternoon Chief Brad Herod retelling a story from Bible Study. Chief Brad is one of my absolute favorite people in the whole world. He had been teaching his little Choctaw boys what being a SINNER meant. Kent’s son looked up at Chief Brad and proudly proclaim, “My father is the best CENTER in the world, he plays for the Buffalo Bills.” Little Mr. Hull was confused by Chief Brad’s thick Mississippi accent. When Chief Brad was teaching that “all have sinned and fallen short of the kingdom of God!” Chief Brad was not talking about wide right in the 1991 Super Bowl.

The pride of a young son looking up to his dad is so precious. This is one of my favorite camp stories. I felt like tonight would be a great night to share it! Thank you Chief Brad and thank you Kent Hull for being a Bulldog!

My Hat

Cold weather has struck North Alabama this week. This comes during a week of me hating Christmas and grumpy about travel. I started to take the philosophy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day! Unfortunately for the Grinch living inside of me I got a new hat.  The introduction of my new hat was a pivotal moment in my life. This new hat has the power of the elves! Santa has blessed this hat. And with this hat, I will fight off the evil demons that try to kill the Christmas spirit inside of me.

It is not all in the stitching of this North Face hat. It is with a strong and valiant commitment from Santa’s friend that I renew my Christmas cheer. See Santa’s elves crafted my hat and the community organizer for Santa helped me select my hat. Now with renewed heart and spirit, I look forward to Christmas Eve and even a trip to Rushing Parc (I am sure Camper Jack will join me there still), and zig zagging across the Southeast will be joyful!

Why? Because Christmas is not about receiving stuff or spending time in an over commercialized, germ infested, zombie walking mall!  Christmas is about giving! Just like Christ gave up his cozy home with his Dad to hang with earthly dorks like me. I am going to celebrate and enjoy Christmas with family and friends!

What am I thankful for this season? I am thankful for a hubby who lives most of the year closer to the north pole than I would like, but he does it so that one day we can do whatever we want! I am also thankful for people who would help me pick out a brown hat and create the Christmas Calendar of Awesomeness. And if this was like a genie with three wishes, my third would be Dan Mullens be thankful for his home and job in Starkville. Please stay, Coach Mullens. What does Florida have that MSU doesn’t?

Christmas is a magical time of year. But the magic comes from the people around us. Someone famous once said, “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.” That person should start a greeting card company! My hat is filled with Christmas and my heart is looking forward to December 25th!

Game Day Anniversary

As a kid I remember watching football on rivalry weekend. Mississippi’s big rivalry is the Egg Bowl where Mississippi State faces Ole Miss for the battle of the golden egg trophy. My father went to State and I have cheered for them as a little pup. My memories as a kid in Mississippi recall there being only one rivalry bigger than the Egg Bowl. That being the neighboring state’s rivalry, the Iron Bowl. I didn’t know how big the Iron Bowl truly was until I lived in Alabama.

I didn’t really ever have a favorite team in the Iron Bowl as a kid. I remember hating Alabama because they always beat up on the Bulldogs. Auburn was another cow college like Mississippi State and they had Bo Jackson. When I was a young teen the only Mississippi school that could beat Alabama or Auburn was Southern Miss led by Brett Farve. So I was neutral in the Iron Bowl growing up. Some years I would pull for Auburn and some years for Bama. I never knew that I would end up living in Alabama nor could I imagine marrying an Alabama alum.

It wasn’t by chance that is was my first Iron Bowl. Chris and I have made a tradition of giving traditional gifts as anniversary presents. This year the suitable gift for an Alabama alum was tickets to the Iron Bowl. All Iron Bowls are important in the state of Alabama, but this year, the 75th Anniversary Iron Bowl, was a mega showdown between reigning BCS National Title champ Alabama and undefeated BCS hopeful Auburn, a probable Heisman for Auburn in Cam Newton and a Heisman winner for Alabama with Mark Ingram, and the simple fact that Alabama and Auburn hates one another. I guess I was lucky that my first Iron Bowl was such a big game.

Simply the spectacle of it all was amazing to watch. There is no other colors that clash more than crimson with white and orange with blue. Alabama and Auburn fans hate one another. There were 200 extra security guards hired just for this event. Lebron James returning to Cleveland doesn’t even compare. The pregame experience is epic where some 100,000 fans cry at the crackly audio of Bear Bryant. It is a little tacky, however, when Bama fans cheer “Roll Tide” after the team’s first down like a tent revival congregation shouting “Amen.” I haven’t even been to another Iron Bowl or even a SEC game at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare to compare the Bryant-Denny experience. But from the eagle flying and hospitality at Auburn I suggest a visit to Auburn’s version of the Iron Bowl. But my husband won’t take me to “that (damn) cow college at the other side of the state.” Yet another example of how all Bama fans refers back to “the Bear.”

I think of all the great football, baseball, and other sporting events I have been to in my life. This Iron Bowl will have to rank up there with the top events. Some people have a bucket list with various things they want to do before they die. I have a sports bucket list and going to an Iron Bowl is on it. I was able to see a game at Yankee Stadium before they closed it. Last year, I visited the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. I have been to NFL and NBA playoff games and several motor sports events, including the Indy 500. Some of my favorite sporting events have been in Starkville, Mississippi or in a baseball park. And I am here to say, if you love college football you should try to see an Iron Bowl in your lifetime.

September

September is an amazing month! On Saturday morning when I opened the door to let Boo out, I discovered fall was here. It was 54 degrees and I was headed to Lynchburg for a tour and barbecue. This makes for an amazing day! Later in the day there would be lots of college football!

The only downside to the whole plan was the in-laws were tagging along on this Jack Daniels trip. Not to worry, just because they were bored and not much fun, I still had a blast. The best story from the day was when Mrs. Key went 10-12 steps out of her way to use the crosswalk on the square in Lynchburg. Lynchburg is a town with one traffic light and lots of pedestrians. Mrs. Key is a very cautious individual who doesn’t even like to use the word “risk.” Don’t get me wrong, it was nice visiting with the Keys, especially since they don’t come around much. It has been three years since they visited us in Huntsville.

Football, it was an amazing day for college football! Ole Miss or University of Mississippi, whatever they want to be called lost to Jacksonville State in overtime. Houston Nutt proclaimed it the toughest loss of his coaching career. Colonel Reb was not in attendance for the game. Why does political correctness even have a place in college football? I would like to think Ole Miss has cursed themselves; which I am fine with. They are killing off an iconic figure in Oxford, Colonel Reb, for Rebel the cutesy Black Bear. I don’t follow Ole Miss, but why would they give up a piece of the history? What are they thinking? It is silly, but I am enjoying ringing my cowbell this morning!

September is filled with wonderful reasons to love this month! Be Ready Camp starts next week and almost 90 kids will be at Aviation Challenge to learn about preparedness. It is a little about learning real life skills. College football is all around and there is lots of excitement. My favorite TV show, Glee, will return to FOX during the week between college football games. After BRC we will have SCI-VIS and more college football. And I am sure; I will go to visit Lynchburg a time or two since it is Jack’s birthday. Lets all be sure to enjoy September, the best month of the calendar year!