Matthew is a fairly in-shape kinda guy. Swimming 6-10 miles a day doesn't throw him much. He isn't even out of breath when he finishes. He runs dryland at swim practice, and since the pools in Italy didn't look at all inviting, he decided he would have a go at running with the runners in the mornings to try and keep in shape while he was not swimming every day. The hills of Montecatini looked pretty, and inviting, and the runners decided that they would tackle those first. The first morning: they were off running with lots of enthusiasm...a chaperone and several singers. Matt soon realized he was way out of his league and that these guys were all marathon runners...yikes. Twenty minutes of that had Matt pleading his excuses to return to the hotel. His roommates said he came in, dove spread eagle fashion onto his bed and said, "I am a swimmer. I am not a runner." After a few minutes to catch his breath, "I felt like I was going to die, Mom," he jumped in the shower with all his clothes on and told his roomies that he was going to sleep all day: this after only 20 minutes of running with the marathon runners. The next morning he got another group together with a "recreational jogger" chaperone and a bunch of them headed out with a more relaxed pace. And so it continued through Italy. You never understand another's sport until you try do it!
"Who is Ali" everyone is asking..."is Ali Matt's girlfriend?" Well, Ali, is Matt's friend. (This is a photo of Matt and Ali in Italy.) He has known her for a long time and they are great friends. She is the sister he doesn't have; he is the brother she doesn't have. They are both swimmers at CSC and both singers in the ICC, so they have a lot in common and hang out at swimming and choir things and do social things as well. She is the same age and her parents are older parents as we are, so there is a nice bond there. Last night at the CSC parent meeting Ali's dad, Buddy, told us that he said to Ali, "Now, is there anything about this trip that I am going to hear from other parents or kids or whatever that I would appreciate knowing about now ahead of time? Anything you need to come clean on in any way whatsoever, Ali?" She answered, "Well, there was one thing. I told Matt that I would run with him every day so we could keep in shape and not have such a hard time getting back in shape for swimming when we returned, but instead when the alarm went off every morning, I just shut it off and rolled over and went back to sleep. I feel a little bad about that." This is the kind of girl Ali is...she is just a delight. Ali is Jewish and we keep telling Buddy that we are secretly converting her to Catholicism with all these Masses she sang in Italy and that when she goes to Brebeuf Catholic High School next year (her entrance exam score: 99.9% on the toughest high school entrance exam in the state) that will finish it off. Ali is very cute and fun and funny and never stops talking...her trademark blonde ponytail and sunglasses easily identifiable in all the photos as she has a knack of being everywhere the action is at the moment. We like Ali a lot. They are just great friends.
More little bits from the trip. Apparently there is not much to do in Pisa, Italy after you see the Leaning Tower. Matt said they were all there for about 20 minutes and then back on the bus and on to Lucca.