Sunday, August 24, 2014

Taking a Break

Hey friends. I'm going to take a writing break for awhile publicly. However, I'll still be posting to my Instagram, Twitter feed, and public Facebook page if you want to stay in touch. Of course, my running log and streak are alive and well and will continue driving forward. All the best and have a great Fall! Below...a photo from the 22nd mile of the Akron Marathon from yesterday's training run on the "Blue Line"...we knocked out a 22 miler. :) Get out there and Run Happy!




Monday, August 18, 2014

M-Cubed for 8.18.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for August Eighteenth Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Fair Week! In my neck of the woods, it's all about 4-H clubs, demolition derbies, truck pulls, livestock sales, "carnies," sausage sandwiches, and for me, my annual Amish-style funnel cake. One year several years ago, they tried to start the school year prior to the fair. That didn't go over too well! Two days after the fair ends, school starts. The fair, for us, is one of those timeless things. You can basically time warp back to high school, sans the 80s big hair, acid washed jeans, and pegged up pants. Always a great time!

- Here in just under 4 weeks is the 10th annual YUT-C 50K and 25K. (read: Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic) It's held in Youngstown, OH on the trails of Mill Creek Park that is sandwiched between Youngstown and Boardman. I was actually born in Youngstown and went to school in Boardman through the 5th grade. This past Saturday was the annual familiarization run. We had a handful of runners (pictured here at the Old Log Cabin) show up for the late 9am start and all enjoyed a dry, fun, sunny 11.5 miles on the course. For a few, it was their first time at Mill Creek. If you're looking for a 50K, I encourage you to come on out! The 25K is already sold out.

- Before YUT-C, though, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are coming to town! In only two weeks, they will be thundering across the Cleveland sky and if someone is dozing off at their downtown desk, they'll be woke up quite often. One cool part of my current gig is being involved with the big weekend over Labor Day. A week from today, in fact, one of the Blue Angels will be flying into town for one more big meeting with the powers-that-be and I'll be there. I drive my white 4-door sedan to work, he flies his Blue Angel. Tough gig!

- In downtown Akron is the Child Guidance and Family Solutions building at the corner of Forge St. and Market. They provide behavioral health treatment to over 4000 adults and 1000 children every year. As a part of their fundraising efforts, they began a "Food Truck Friday" in their parking lot this year that begins at 11am and ends at 1:30pm. This year's "season" ends on September 12th so you still have a few weeks to make it out. Here was the scene on Friday during my first visit. There is a very wide selection so anyone will find something they like. Head on out and enjoy!


- It is the halfway point of August (or just over, actually) so it's good to check in on the running log. As of last night's humid, thick 80F just-prior-to-sunset-hilly-country-8.2-miler, I stand at just under 123 miles for August. While it "feels" like I haven't been running much, I'm right on track for another 200 or more mile month. Bazinga! Along with last night's run, I got home and while logging my run, I had the pleasant surprise of realizing I racked up running streak day #60! Little landmarks certainly put a grin on my face. Here was a little collage I whipped together post-run. I really like the corn photo at the bottom. That was from the run, too...not a stock photo or a photo from another day. The corn is so prevalent right now that it's aroma fills the air. I love it, actually.
- Happiness. Or Happyness, if you've seen the Will Smith movie. Ever think "If I only lived in "xyz," then I'd be happier or happy, period? I know I have and we have. Heck, it's been a conversation that repeats itself annually in the middle of the harsh winter we seem to always get here in NE Ohio. Lately, though, I have come to accept and believe that while living in other parts of the country sounds very appealing (and may very well be), that in itself will not make me happy or assure me of such joy that I should pack it all up, including my family, and head on down, over, or up there. Strip everything away and what truly matters is __________. (fill in the blank) What is it for you? Empty your house, lose your job, send the majority of your friends away...and what matters? For me, it's my bride and the fun, joyful times we spend together. It may be laughing, snuggling, going on a walk, or just watching a movie together on the couch. I say all of this because it's important to ground ourselves often when we get so wrapped up in the day to day grind of life. As our schedules fill or remain full, how are we/you allocating time to what matters most? That answer should reset your life and schedule if you're truly honest with yourself. Anyway, those are some deep thoughts for you as you begin this week.

- Speaking of quality time, this past Saturday was an event dubbed "Rootsfest" at the local winery in my hometown. If you would've told me there would be a winery in my little country hometown even 10 years ago, I would've never believed it. Turns out, it's one of our favorites and a few times a year, I'll run by their vineyard and run through the rows of vines. At the event, it was filled with local craft artisans, live music, and vino! After a morning for me on the trails, we sectioned off some early evening time alone and headed on over to Barrel Run Crossing Winery and Vineyard. It was so perfect. After checking out the vendors, we ordered up a great meat, cheese and cracker plate and enjoyed our favorite bottle of Mahoning River Red. We are fans of sweet to semi-sweet reds so this hit the spot. The music was great, too, as was my "company." We have a tradition, you see. Instead of just "drinking," we savor each sip via toast. No toast, no sip. Some days, we'll have a theme like "something we're thankful for." If you want to really encourage quality communication and hear each other's heart on a variety of things, get away with him or her and do this. Take your time. It simply ranks so high up there for "quality time" with my bride, I can't quite give it the praise it's due. Below are two photos...one of our spread and the other, of vines right next to our car where we parked (in the vineyard.) I had never actually seen bunches of grapes ON the vine IN a vineyard before! So awesome!



- As I wrap up this week's M-Cubed, I'd like to share this quote. While it does appear "running centric" at first, it applies to so many things we all do in life, regardless of the subject matter. A life of comparison can be a wrecking ball to your motivation and purpose for anything. Be YOU. Don't compare. Set goals. Achieve. For you...not them.

"Don't compare yourself with anyone else. The world is full of runners, so you'll probably see one every time you circle the block or your favorite park. Some will be thinner than you, some smoother-striding, some faster. But don't let this get you down. There's only one runner who really counts: you. Running is your activity. Make it work for you, and don't worry about anyone else."

-Amby Burfoot, Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running

Have a great week, everyone! Time to run! :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

M-Cubed for 8.11.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for August Eleventh, Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Summer's over!!! Ok, ok...not so fast, but 'tis the time for Back-to-School shopping, late county fairs, welcome back events at local colleges, and school sport and band practices each morning. For us, we still have a few more weeks but it's been a great summer. Our girls just finished their annual overnight camp at Camp Carl in southern Portage County and loved it again. Make the best of it!

- While our girls were at the aforementioned camp, we decided to capitalize on the opportunity for a getaway...just us. At nearly 22 years in of marriage, we still love to get away with each other. The stress and anxiety slips away, we laugh, we sleep in, we walk a lot and talk...and enjoy the silence, and simply love loving each other alone. For the past week, we took about a 7 1/2 hour jaunt east to the beach but for many people, not a beach known by the masses. We went to Rehoboth Beach in southern Delaware. Essentially, if you draw a diagonal line pointing southeast between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, that's the way...on I-70. "How did you come up with that idea?" you might ask. Well, as many know, I'm a bit of a craft beer snob and we were watching TLC's "Brewmasters" on Netflix many months ago where they followed the owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery around. Well, their original brewpub is in Rehoboth Beach and their full production brewery is a short 25min drive into the country in Milton, DE. Bingo! Beach, craft beer, a new state, exploration...perfect for us. I could write a book on the week but let me just give you some bullet points and share a few photos. Otherwise, I'll type all day and not get anything done! Photos at the end but be sure to scroll on past those for more M-Cubed!

  • We stayed at the Royal Rose Inn...one stinkin' block from the boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean. We found it highly rated on TripAdvisor and would absolutely go back. We especially enjoyed the homemade breakfast each morning by Andy and sitting on the front porch at night, enjoying the evening breeze and meeting/talking with other guests at the Inn.
  • Rehoboth Beach is definitely tourist heavy but it doesn't spread for blocks and blocks in every direction like Virginia Beach, for example. Essentially, tourists and their families (insert CRAZY here) stick heavily to Rehoboth Avenue where the bulk of shops are and the super wide boardwalk that is exactly 1 mile long. The beach was packed in that area but if you went left or right of it, it was uncrowded and awesome. (photo under bullets of a typical evening on the boardwalk)
  • We stayed a 10min walk from the Dogfish Head Brewpub. In a word...pure awesomeness. OK, that's two words...but seriously, we went twice.
  • Thrasher's homemade fries...oh.my.word. They are a staple in the area...since 1929. Again, I ate twice from there...a medium $7 bucket of french fries. Crispy, full of Idaho potato flavor...just amazing. Cooked in peanut oil, too. I rationalized that I was eating a healthy snack...peanut oil is good + vegetables...right!? (I would eat another bucket this moment if you placed them in front of me.) Find them a few places along the boardwalk.
  • Brewery Tour...go. They all fill up on every day and are offered several times a day. Free, too. Get there early and sign up and enjoy four free tastings in their tasting room. Hungry? They have "Paul Bunyan's Lunchbox" that is essentially a miniature food truck set up adjacent to the tasting room. Think brats meet Dogfish Head beer...with lots of creativity thrown in. All the details at www.dogfishbeer.com
  • The surrounding areas of the tourist trap area are beautiful. Just start walking and enjoy. Established, beautiful neighborhoods from small, seaside cottages to sprawling mansions. Well kept, safe, tons of color and foliage, and the ocean breeze blowing through the town. If you go to Rehoboth and only stay in the tourist trap, you're robbing yourself.
  • If you're afraid of heights, hold your breath crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on your way into Delaware or out. Wowsers....two hands on the wheel and look straight ahead!
  • Plenty of running options...AND they have a marathon and half marathon in early December...about 2400 people run it according to the local running store we visited. I especially enjoyed running in Henlopen State Park along the water at sunrise....yes...photos below.

The ridiculously hopped and rare 120min IPA. Wow. First time ever!

Me in front of the metal treehouse at Dogfish Head. If you've watched Brewmasters, you've seen the episode when this was assembled. Pretty cool!

The BEST tap line on the planet! Love the tap handles, the brews...all of it. They were offering one through their Randall this day, too...that's the Randall at the bottom left. My favorites on the board? The ancient ale "Kvasir," Burton Baton (Imperial IPA), 90min IPA, Saison Du Buff (brought some home! 3-way collaboration brew), Chicory Stout (like chocolate and coffee? LOVED it) and last but not least, the 120min IPA. See that ABV? Yea...off the chart crazy and good.

Sunrise Run on Day #1...my exploration day

Looks silky and creamy, right? It is...this is their rare 75min IPA but from the cask. No carbonation or nitrogen. Simply gravity poured (or pumped) from the cask. Enjoyed at the original brewpub in Rehoboth.


Visit #2 for the tour. The "lunchbox" is at the far right.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that continues to inspire everything they do.  In summary, they came up with the quote "Off Centered Ales for Off Centered People". And they are...totally thinking outside the box in all they do.

As part of the tour, we visited their brand new "warehouse" where the new bottling line is and saw this. Thousands of bottles of "Punkin" waiting for the Fall season to arrive. Wow! September 2014 release!

This was our sunrise run. My wife ran her 13th consecutive month of a half marathon per month. This was around mile 5 or 6 of it within Henlopen State Park. The photo doesn't do it justice.

A typical evening in the tourist-trap section of the boardwalk.


- OK, so this is more of a beach vacation post, rather than a M-Cubed post...but in keeping with history, just a few more smatterings, ok? OK.

- A friend of mine who has been running for a few years now and has shed a whopping 80 pounds in the process joined me for 19.1 miles on Saturday. He had no familiarization with Kent at all and since he's in the peak of training for his 2nd marathon, I offered to run with him and lead the way. Totally unplanned route but awesome all the same. We ran along the Cuyahoga River for miles, hit up Towner's Woods park for some trails, just barely touched the Kent State campus, and wrapped up with some downtown Kent and a stroll through the Haymaker Farmer's Market as they were setting up. Great, cool morning sunny run! We cooled down with a walk up to Tree City Coffee before getting on with our day. "Great job, Jarod!!" (He also became a believer in Hammer's Recoverite...cool beans!)

- Do you follow Humans of New York on Facebook? If not, it's basically a photographer on the streets of NYC who photographs just about anyone and asks them or two questions that he posts with the photo. Candid and unfiltered, his page has garnered over 8.9 million followers. Well, he is currently on a 50 day trip around the world and is currently posting photos and brief conversations with the people of Iraq. As you know, Iraq is back in the news and we just began air strikes once again. I highly, highly recommend you "like" their page and read/view some. It will change your perspective on the people of Iraq and give yourself some perspective...unlike what you'll get in the mainstream news. Check it out here!

- That's more than enough to get you through your Monday morning java. Before I leave you, though, I'd like to share a "poem" that just kinda fell out of my skull Friday morning. The back-story is this, though: I wanted to run in the ocean before we left the beach but we had to be on the road quite early. To keep my running streak alive, I planned to get just a mile or two before dawn. I was out the door before 5am, running in nothing but a pair of shorts down the asphalt Baltimore Avenue...barefoot, heading to the crashing waves on the oceanfront. I "penned" the following immediately following my short 2.4 mile barefoot run. Have a great week!

The last day awoke me
Dark sky, faint stars
The sleeping seaside resort town
Slept, streets quiet and dimly lit

Before I leave, though
I had but one wish
To run in the ocean
To smell the ocean mist

A pair of shorts, a key to the room
Barefoot on asphalt, eyes ahead to the water
Toes dug deep into the sand
The boardwalk behind me

The tide is high
Waves are crashing strong
Difficult to see, just an outline of wet sand
Splashing began

Eyes open, eyes shut
Run towards the water, escape a crashing wave
Shorts getting wet, legs covered in sand
THIS is peace, this is shelter from the storm

I find my mind wandering
In thankfulness, humility, and quiet
A special run, the ability to run
Each step sinking into the wet sand

The stars are dim above
Barely visible with the tourist lights of the boardwalk
This is soon going to end, to the ocean I will say Goodbye
Thankful to run, thankful for the ocean breeze, no chains holding me down

Eyes open, eyes shut
Ahh, the aroma and sound of the ocean
Beneath my feet, the crashing waves and suds of the surf
I'll miss you, mighty Atlantic, don't let me forget this

Return to ashalt, sand falling off my toes
A sleeping town, reality sleeps
Thankful, I am...full I have become
Good morning. No...perfect morning. Rise and Shine.

Monday, August 4, 2014

M-Cubed for 8.4.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for August Fourth, Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Yesterday was the conclusion of the this year's installment of the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. Thanks to the new Timehop app on my iPhone, I've been reminded about it consistently for the past 4 or 5 days. While I may not be a part of the event anymore, it is still a fantastic race that represents our entire area well. The logistics and level of volunteers it takes to put on a 100-mile event that begins east of Cleveland and ends far south in Cuyahoga Falls is mind-boggling. From everything I've seen online, it went off very well and while I know few of the participants anymore, many got their 100 mile buckle or killed the course as part of a relay team. Well done to you if you were one of them!

- If you missed it, I wrapped up July back on Thursday here. Hit the goal, passed the goal, and set a new lifetime one month mileage record. Kept the streak alive, too. Also mentioned my new plans for 2015 and my return to the 100 mile race distance. It's finally time to "buckle" up again...or in this case, "kettle." Here my month-in-review.

- Sunday night (last night)...8-10pm...NPR classical...it was exactly what I needed. The strings, the ivory...magical.

- Been pretty quiet so far for August in the mileage category. I'm still logging daily miles and haven't gone over 10 miles in over a week. Just running what I feel like running and cruising along. On Saturday, I took my nearly 3 year old dog to Kent, OH for a run along the Cuyahoga River, through the Farmer's Market, and enjoyed an awesome pork burrito from my favorite burrito shop...Taco Tonto's. Bristol did really well over our 6 miles but wow, she was pooped at the end. I treated her to a bowl of water and some of her homemade peanut butter and oatmeal dog treats. Here is our own personal selfie with our paws in the Cuyahoga River.

- I'm a poor poor reader. My oldest daughter can read a 2" thick novel in a few days. I can't get through a chapter of hardly any book and tell you what I read. (there are a few exceptions, of course..just a few) One thing I know I need to be reading more of is my Bible. I know it. Otherwise, I'm just like every other person out there who calls them self a Christian yet doesn't get in the Word. Luckily, in the world of smart phones, we have apps and I have the YouBible app that'll read it to you, with character and not boring. Any version, too. So about a week ago, I just felt like the book of Acts was a book I should read (oops, I mean listen to). I must say...I "hear" much more of it and retain it much better when I listen to it as I run. I do know that many who read here don't believe as I do but I ask even you to give me some latitude here just to share a passage that stuck with me. First, let me just say that I pray...a LOT. I pray for direction, I pray that MY will be HIS will and that my decisions are not my own. I pray for protection over myself, my family, my home...and protection from the unseen and evil that lurks....and is so very real. Those are (without details) things I pray for daily...often multiple times and often while I run...and then I listen. With that being said, I was listening in Acts 5 near the end. The Apostles are preaching and teaching and have come before the leaders who want them killed because of it. A man, a teacher, well respected and liked came before them and told the story of those who have opposed the Apostles prior and their fate.

Acts 5:38-39 (NIV) reads: "Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." 

I find reassurance from these two verses. If I make them my own, they would read: "...for if MY purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, I will be not be able to be stopped and those who try to stop me (human or the spiritual realm) will only find themselves fighting against God." Bottom Line: If I keep my eyes focused on Him, follow Him, then I will not fail in His eyes. He will be glorified. It may be a rocky, painful road...but ultimately in the end, I will not fail to the One who matters most.

- This past week, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels announced their 2015 team. From demonstration pilots to the crew to the doc to the supply officer, it's quite a career milestone to be selected to be on the Team. The highlight of the announcement was the first-ever woman to serve as a Blue Angel pilot. Marine Capt. Katie Higgins, a 2008 U.S. Naval Academy graduate was picked for the 2015 Team. Other women have served with the Angels but none as one of the aviators. Here is the story if you'd like to learn a little more about Capt. Higgins and her background. For those of you local to NE Ohio, the Angels are coming to Cleveland over Labor Day weekend! I'm actually meeting one at the last organizational planning meeting the Monday prior when he flies into town.

- I take photos on almost every run I do. While running along the Cuyahoga River on Saturday, these little nickel-sized "weeds" along the trail stopped me in my tracks. I really love how it came out, especially since I took it with nothing but my iPhone...quickly as the sweat was dripping. I just love the color, angles, and perfection of this "weed" and "flower."


- Thanks to NPR, I ran across this video from 2013 a few days ago. It was filmed at a TED event in Canada last year and in a short 6 minutes, Drew Dudley brings it home. It's titled "Everyday Leadership" and the article by NPR posted has the headline "Have You Changed Someone's Life Without Realizing It?" It is really good and I highly recommend the watch/listen. If you don't have time now, come on back later and give it a listen. (We never know the kind of impact we might/can have!)



- Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages. "Uh oh...here's comes the marriage/relationship advice!" Actually, that is the title of this article I read this past week. If you are the kind that never clicks on my links, let me just include the bullet points...the top 5 secrets for him and her.

Guys first. When it comes to your wife, here are the five things that make her happy.
  1. Take her by the hand.
  2. Leave her a voice mail message, text message, or email to tell her you love her and are thinking about her.
  3. Put your arm around her, or your hand on her knee when you're sitting next to her (especially when you're in public).
  4. Sincerely tell her she's beautiful.
  5. Pull yourself out of a funk.
That’s it. Believe it or not, when Shaunti asked wives, between 72-82 percent said these five actions deeply pleased them. That's not just the happy wives, but all wives. Even two-thirds of the wives in struggling marriages strongly agreed these are the things that make her happy.

And now, here are the five things Shaunti found that please husbands the most:
  1. Notice his effort and sincerely thanks him for it.
  2. Say, "You did a great job at __________."
  3. Mention in front of others something he did well.
  4. Show him that you desire him sexually, and he pleases you sexually.
  5. Make it clear to him that he makes you happy.
As you know, wives, men are often pretty simple and aren’t too hard to please. Just do a couple of things. Oh, if you’re thinking that #4 is the most important thing on a guy’s list, think again. It’s #5. Almost 90 percent of men said knowing that they make their wife highly happy is what makes them highly happy.

So go ahead...try a few...or heck, try just ONE for starters! :)

- As I close out today's M-Cubed and get this week moving, I ran across this great Top 10 List: "10 Great Pinterest Quotes for Ultra Runners." Among them, the one below is one of my favorites but honestly, they are all really good (and true).


Have a great week, everyone, and keep "Running Happy" and "Hammer On!"

August 1st Sunrise over the cornfield #fromtherun

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Month in Review: July 2014

On one hand, it was a quiet month with no racing, no bib numbers pinned on, and no finish lines...official ones, that is. On another hand, it was an epic month for me. Over the past few months, I have been trying to get my monthly average to equate to 200 miles per month for 2014. To even the log, this month would've required 231.0 miles. With no races on the calendar and a streak started back on June 19th, I was determined to finally do it. If I did, 231 would be a personal monthly record. So here's how the month ended up, as of the conclusion of this morning's run:


That was total chance that weeks 3 and 4 had exactly the same number of miles. Overall, though, it was pretty even. Given 31 days in the month, I averaged 7.774 miles per day. In reality, 6 of those 31 days were days only to keep the streak alive...one 3 miler and the others 2 miles or even a mile. Throughout, I continued to integrate Navy-regulation push-ups into the run, pausing only long enough to knock them out, often in the middle of the road. The one day that stands out in this month was last Friday when I ran 22 miles around town. It was a Forrest Gump kind of day where I ran until I simply didn't want to run any longer. Within those 22, I conquered 250 push-ups, easily more than any other day of my life. That 22 was easy, too, as were those push-ups. It simply didn't faze me.

Yesterday, I only needed 3 to hit my goal of 231 miles. However, a friend who grew up in my hometown who now lives in California was in town and we were able to get together for a fast 6 miler out on my daily route. He's the one who inspired me to start my streak and I had never officially met him but his parents live a mile from my doorstep. With that run, I went 3 miles over my goal with still a day to go. Where I got my brain into trouble is when he told me his lifetime record for one month was 240 miles. Well, I was sitting at 234 yesterday and his lifetime goal was a perfect reason to go out today and do 6 myself...or 7. :) On the road before 5am, I did something I never do. I turned on my MapMyRun app along with the voice prompts. At each 1/2 mile, it would tell me my splits. My thinking was that I'd head out on a whole new route and turn around when it told me I was at 3.5 miles. Well, that did not turn out like I had planned. That little female voice talking to me only prompted me to go faster...and faster...and faster. It turned into a challenge against myself. With every passing 1/2 mile, I picked it up a notch because at the next 1/2 mile, it would tell me that split PLUS my overall pace. That overall pace kept going down by chunks because I kept ratcheting up the speed. SO, my planned easy last-day-of-the-month run turned out to be a very successful ladder run! Who says I need another human being to challenge me when I have MYSELF!?!? As you can see here to the right, I ran a classic ladder. Well, 3 and 4 were even but for no plans to run a ladder, I'm pretty darn happy! BOOM!

So 241 miles. Write it in stone. That brings my monthly 2014 average to just over 201 miles per month. Given that I've never run much more than 2100 miles in a year, I am nearly 300 miles (annualized) over my all-time record, should I continue. I do continue to remind myself, though, that every mile, every blog post, every entry on my log is for just one person...me. It's not for anyone else (though it may inspire them), I don't do the miles for anyone (though it may help get them out the door), and ultimately, I need to be confident in my decisions to run every mile and look back without regret (because no one owns my miles but me). Wrapping up July and entering into August tomorrow, I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. Looking back at 2009 when I ran three 100-mile races, I was certainly in good condition and looked slimmer. However, I feel stronger now...like I can conquer anything thrown at me. I do believe running everyday is contributing to this. Whether I run 2 or 22 miles, I get up the next day feeling the same and do it again. My body has adapted, I'm feeding it well and recovering properly, and working on my upper body strength to compliment my growing endurance and strength. So what next?

My sights are clearly focused on June 2015. I will forego the 2015 running of the Highland Sky 40 Mile Trail Run so that I can focus on my return to the 100 miler. While some run multiple 100-milers a year and make it look easy, I have not had the bug bite me to train for the distance again nor the craving to go the distance. That has changed over the last few months as the hunger returned and I feel ready to do it again...back at my original 100-mile finish. This time, though, I won't make the trip alone. My wife will join me and crew me for those 100 miles and celebrate my 4th finish of the distance. Here is one photo of a dad crossing the finish line of the Kettle 100 last month with his son.


That banner is one image I am going to blaze into my brain and use as a source of inspiration for the rest of this year, into the winter and next year's Spring. Back in 2009, I finished in 25hrs, 39min., which is actually my fastest of my three 100s. Most 100-milers have a goal to one day finish sub-24 hours. I don't know if I can actually write that down as a hard-n-fast goal but it will certainly be something I'll be striving for as icing on the cake. Ultimately, though, the goal will "simply" be to cover the 100 miles under the 30 hour time limit. I did find this blog entry about the Kettle 100 inspiring tonight. Interesting that it focuses on happiness...while talking about covering 100 miles. Yea, that may sound crazy to the non-100 miler but it sounds totally sane to me. I really enjoyed the article. Here is my favorite quote from the post:

Happiness is a long run.

Ultimately, the “Why” of a 100-mile run, whether one is a race director, volunteer, runner, crew, or pacer is distilled down to one thing: happiness.

I’m not talking about the things we do for short-term, momentary happiness, like indulging in an ice cream cone on a perfect summer afternoon, or purchasing a new outfit when feeling blue.

Rather, I’m talking about the state of happiness which stems from doing the things which contribute to a life of meaning and purpose.  It is a happiness built on Aristotelian ideals of belonging and benefiting others, flourishing, thriving, and exercising excellence.  This state of happiness emerges from being connected to something bigger:

  • A grander vision of one’s self;
  • A wider community of friends and family;
  • A monumental effort which supports a cause.

Excerpt from Happiness is a 100-Mile Run

In other news...

Professionally in the my day job this month, it was the best ever as well. My job is to recruit the Navy's future officers who will lead sailors well into the future. From aviators to intel officers to Navy SEAL candidates, I spoke to them all this month. Enlisting in the Navy can be done within a few weeks. For an officer candidate, though, it can extend to an entire year. It's a long drawn out process and is very, very competitive. Finding the right fit of a person is an "art" and navigating the process to take care of the candidate while also representing the Navy can be tricky but it's something I absolutely love and thrive in. Here in a few days, I'll celebrate 1 year onboard as Navy Officer Recruiter and will soon pass 17 years of service. There is no doubt, I have loved my years in the Navy and I can't imagine doing anything else right now.

So Day 43, it's a wrap. Tomorrow will be August 1st and day 44...just another day in my Brooks looking down the open road. Birds singing, the sun rising over the horizon, my heart beating, sweat pouring... The run doesn't define me nor is it a (g)od in my life. It is, though, something that challenges me, keeps me honest with my mortality and who I am, and gets me away from the confines of my home, the e-mail inbox, and a sedentary life. I feel blessed to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other, without injury, and continuing to find joy with each step.

Monday, July 28, 2014

M-Cubed for 7.28.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for July Twenty-Eighth, Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Good morning to you! It's 5'oclock somewhere, right?! Because I'm the curious type, I started wondering "Where?" Well, I check out this World Clock and it does turn out, our Aussie's down in Australia are enjoying dinner on an early Monday evening as it clicks towards 6pm and in Seoul, South Korea, it's nearly 5pm on Monday. Here? Not even 4am yet. So cheers! :)

- Since I had to bring up Australia, here is your public service announcement: Bloomin' Onions are FREE today at Outback Steakhouse. So, if you're struggling with what to do for dinner tonight, "You're welcome!" Kevin Harvick (NASCAR driver) finished in the Top 10 yesterday at The Brickyard and since he's sponsored by Outback, all you have to do is mention that today and BOOM, it's free. Salivating, yet?!

- This past week, I probably drafted 2-3 long blog posts while I was running yet when I finished, I decided to not take the time to write them. If I only had a scribe to run alongside me and type as I thought out loud, I'd have my first book ready to publish.

- Keeping in the running vein, it was an epic kind of week. Tuesday brought a very hot and humid day. Late afternoon, it was 93F, high humidity, and full sun. If you know me, you know that I'd be a glutton for punishment to head out in that. Well, because I AM a glutton for punishment, I did, armed with only one bottle of Heed. I tackled my favorite 10 mile loop. I suffered, I sweat a ton, I got it done. I needed to feel the desire to quit again and mentally conquer that. It was good for me. I also broke out my brand new pair of Brooks Pure Flow 3's...the re-design. It was my first jaunt in the new 3 and I really enjoyed them! No complaints! (photo right). The rest of the week continued my streak and moved me closer to my monthly goal of 231 miles and the highest mileage month of my life. On Friday, I was on the road at First Light and was in one of those Forrest Gump moods and just needed to run until I no longer wanted to. Plus, it was cool and crisp out...a stark contrast to Tuesday's baking in the sun. I ended up with 22 miles, fueled only by one peanut butter Hammer Gel and one Espresso Hammer Gel, washed down with some Heed. In the end, I ended up on Saturday with a weekly total of 54.4 miles. This morning, I looked at my log and that matches exactly the week prior...total chance! The week prior was 52.4 and prior to that...61.4. Why all the point-4's? No clue. Total luck of the draw.

- Registered! The Frozen Sasquatch 50K, held just outside Charleston, WV, is held on the first Saturday in January. Last year, it was a great race for me and a fun family trip. (great pool time for the kids!) I didn't hesitate when registration opened this past week. It WILL sell out so if you're interested, check out my race report (see race report tab at top of blog) and register here. (Great to see your name on the list, Mindy!) :)

- I have 4 running days to go and I stand at 216 miles. My goal was 231. Now, as I stand ready to kill that goal, I wonder about pushing past it or simply sitting right down on top of it. That 231 will average me to 200 miles per month for 2014 for a January thru July total of 1400 miles exactly. I stand undecided but am thrilled and thankful for having such an epic month in my running life and still without an ache or pain or twitch head to toe. Oh yea, TODAY is Day 40 of my streak! WOO HOO! No stopping me now!

- Reflecting back on that 22 miler, I did something a little odd with that run, too. I've been doing push-ups on all of my runs since I began my streak over a month ago and on this run, I decided to do a series of 25 push-ups throughout the run. So, at miles 2/4/6/8/11/13/15/17/19/21, I knocked out 25. I thought I'd get quite weary but I never did! I kept doing them "military regulation"...getting that 90 degree angle to the ground and re-did any that didn't measure up. Usually in the middle of the road but occasionally in someone's front yard, I knocked them out. 250 total for the run! I have definitely made progress in that area in the past 40 days.

- Seen the movie "Rudy"? It's the story of an underdog who once dreamed of being a football player for Notre Dame. The true story dates back to the early 70s and the movie back to 1993. We all watched it as a family last night since my girls had never seen it and it is on Netflix. Love, love, LOVE that movie! A great movie for my kids to see, too...to never give up on their dreams, regardless of others telling you you'll never achieve them. Not seen it? Highly recommend!

- You've met her before but check out her new bed! My wife picked up this dog bed for five bucks at a local garage sale over the weekend. Yea, it's kind of overkill but for five bucks, Bristol loves it. The funny backstory here is that the previous owner didn't even use it and they bought it for their Shih Tzu. Shih Tzu!!! Bristol is twice as big as that kind of dog, easily, and look how much room SHE has! Sheesh! Bristol sends her thanks...

- We wrapped up Season 5 of Parenthood a few days back...finally. We've been watching via stream on NBC.com. Season 6, their final season, begins next month. We have loved watching that show and are bummed it will end next year.

- Sunrise from two days ago. The sun was to my right and it wasn't immediately at the horizon but after it had gotten into the sky a good bit. I couldn't pass up all the blue I was seeing here. This is a pond I run by in my local park about 3-4 times a week. Gorgeous, isn't it?


- I had one of those brain-dumping moments on Saturday. It's a bit personal but in the effort of "keeping it real," I posted it on my Instagram account and linked it over to Facebook. It certainly hit a chord with many so I thought I'd share it today, word for word as I posted it then. And just to confirm...it doesn't matter how many miles I run...these dang love handles will never leave! :)

Before the narcissistic bandwagon slaughters me, I posted this because I have a hard time with self-image. Up until recently, I only ran in the dark sans shirt. If you are like me and have tried and done so much but never see what you want in the mirror, you will understand. I am convinced that no matter how far and fast I run, my "love handles" will remain. No matter what, I will hover around that 200lb mark, barely getting under what the Navy deems "within standards." I told my bride this morning that "God just didn't give me a 'runner's body.'" What a lie! Perhaps He didn't give me what Runner's World says a runner's body should be or society in general but He did give me a body that can run with endurance and not give up. As I close in on a lifetime record breaking month in mileage and reaching my goal for July, I cannot lose sight of the truth. I AM. I am made exactly as I am supposed to be. I am thankful for that. It matters not what ANYONE thinks or says and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Stay true to myself, don't get injured, run because I love to run, and give God the glory and praise He is due for giving me what He has. So if you pass me on the road and think "Dude, you need to put a shirt on," know that I hear you and I am ignoring you. You are, of course, welcome to join me. :) #fromtherun #deepthoughts #selfimage#shirtless #runhappy #runningselfie

- So here we are, friends...tip-toeing or perhaps sprinting towards August. August...the month of marching bands cranking up their sound at band camps, the sound of crunching helmets as football teams begin their practice, county fair continuing (ours is BIG and happens in late August), and Back-to-School ads...oh yes, the weekly Target ad hit my e-mail inbox yesterday and it was front-to-back full of school clothes and supplies. 'Tis the season... Make the best of today, the last 4 days this month, and August! Before I leave you on this last Monday of August, enjoy and be inspired by this week's quote:


"It's been almost a decade since I last wiped Budweiser foam from my lips. I don't wake up hung‑over anymore, but I do sometimes wake up haunted — by who I used to be, by the people I've done wrong. On the days I don't run, it's worse. I'm filled with a different kind of thirst, a need to move between places — across bridges, over water, over city lines. The nastier the conditions, the better: lightning storms, ice‑covered sidewalks, predawn country roads during hunting season. The hard work of the run fortifies my will. I move through this so I can move through that. One foot in front of the other. One run at a time."

-Caleb Daniloff, Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time

Monday, July 21, 2014

M-Cubed for 7.21.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for July Twenty-First, Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- If you missed my "Day 30" post of my running streak, here is the link. Today is Day 33...let's roll!

- Ever heard of the show "American Ninja Warrior?" It's not a gimmick or some silly reality show, it's a physical competition where athletes in a few cities attempt an obstacle course, then there are semi-finals, then finals, then all of the finalists from the cities head to one big final. It's ridiculously difficult and no American has ever finished at the final. Tonight is another final in one of the cities but last Monday night, the first woman finished the course in a final...never been done before and you've GOT to watch! By the end, my hands were sweating! By the way, each city's course is different. They change it up each time. Without further delay, here is Kacy Catanzaro's destruction of the course...simply incredible.


- Can you believe that band camps, football practices, etc. are about to fire up already? Yea...this summer is cruising right along.

- I had a pretty cool opportunity this past Friday. From 1991-2001, I was a Navy Nuclear Mechanic. I got out for 6 years then came back and now am a commissioned Navy Supply Corps Officer. Well, a current nuclear-trained sailor who has been serving on instructor duty who is from my area tracked me down and asked me if I'd re-enlist him while he was on leave in the area. He is at his 10-year point and re-enlisting for 5 more years. In the Navy, all enlisted personnel who re-enlist must do so by raising their hand and taking the oath of enlistment again from a Naval Officer. On Friday, we met at the local Camp Manatoc where he once was an Eagle Scout and with family looking on and recording the occasion, I gave him the oath at the giant flagpole in our white uniforms. Afterwards, we all walked a short distance to the outdoor chapel where he read his father's only poem, who passed a few years back. It was really moving and I was honored to be present for not just that but this sailor's recommitment to serving his country. Awesome all the way around!

- Ever heard of Casting Crowns? The Grammy and Dove Award winning band was in town at the historic Akron Civic Theater on Thursday night. I took my daughter and we enjoyed a fantastic evening with the rest of the sold out crowd in downtown Akron. Simply awesome. So glad I have the opportunity to share evenings like that with her. Plus, the "Crowns" have been a major part of my life through their music so they hold a spot in my story like none other. Thankful for the chance to hear and see them LIVE. (this is our view from our seats at the Akron Civic Theater)

- I continue to rack my brain on racing this fall. While it's only been a month since the Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run, it feels like an eternity ago and without much on the schedule at all, I'm floundering a bit. I still have a race on the schedule in late August (see schedule at top of blog) but I haven't registered yet. It's an "easy" 50K within 30min of my home. Not much else after that except for YUT-C in September. I scrubbed the 50 miler previously planned for November and booked a hotel for June 2015 in southern Wisconsin (wink wink!)...besides that, not much else activity. I can't exactly tell you why, but racing just isn't appealing to me at the moment...or even pinning on a bib and joining the masses on the trail. Just the pure run of each day seems to be calling me out.

- Yesterday, we had the opportunity as a family to head down to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (sans trail running shoes) along with my niece and nephew from Colorado. I took my Nikon 5100 with me with the hope of capturing some great photos of the few waterfalls we'd visit. Here are my favorites of the day below. If you want any, just click on them to view the high resolution version then save it. I'm guessing a few might be great screen-savers or lock screens/backgrounds for your smart phone. After our hike, we enjoyed roasted corn on the cob and fresh-squeezed lemonade at Szalay's farm market.
Brandywine Falls


Top of Brandywine Falls

Blue Hen Falls (my favorite of the day)

My girl :)



- Back in February 2013 soon after picking up the iPhone 5, I ordered this Tune Belt armband for carrying my iPhone on the run. I have worn it on every single run since then except for during pouring rain. From hot and humid to 5 degree runs, it has traveled with me. It has also taken the beating of constantly getting tugged on and pulled at during the run as I take more and more photos. I ordered myself a new one a few days ago from Amazon and wanted to share it with you because for what you get, I haven't been able to find another one that competes. After visiting the local running store last week and seeing them for $30-$40 (Amphipod brand), bulky and with a zipper, I had to stick with what I know. These Tune Belt bands are $19.95 retail (and $15 on Amazon), fit very close to the body so they don't bounce one bit, and they don't snag technical clothing. Many of the elastic bands out there snag the shirt fabric but this super soft band for the past year and a half has held up and never been a problem.  I did share this whole report with the local store and hopefully they'll consider selling them. From a quality and price point perspective, you just can't beat it. FYI: They even have options depending on what case you keep on your phone...e.g. no case, thin case, Otter Box, etc. I chose the thin case was so it'll be a perfect/precise fit. Here's the main Tune Belt site. I recommend you purchase from Amazon, though, since Tune Belt is the actual seller there, too, and you'll save 25%.

- To close today, a quote from last weekend's winner of the famed Hardrock 100...a "graduate level" 100-miler out west. Have a great week, everyone!

"The real victory isn't the act of smashing through the tape and crossing the finish line; it's not seeing your name first on the list or standing on the highest step on the podium. None of that can make your legs shake with fear and excitement.

Victory, the real victory, is what is deep down inside each one of us. It's what we can’t believe will ever happen despite all the training and will on our part, and yet it is what finally happens. Despite all the thinking and brandishing of calculators, after so many hours of preparation, after so many days of training, of telling ourselves that we can win, or simply finish the race, it is as if something in our unconscious is constantly telling us that it is impossible, that it would be too wonderful, too brilliant, too incredible for it to become reality. That what we want to achieve is only a dream. And when you cross the line, when you look behind and see that it is for real, that you are flesh and blood, and that what seemed possible only in dreams has become real, you realize that that is the real victory.

Winning isn't about finishing in first place. It isn't about beating the others. It is about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations, and your fears. Winning means surpassing yourself and turning your dreams into reality."

-Kilian Jornet, Run or Die

Friday, July 18, 2014

Streak Update: Celebrating 30!

On June 19th, I kicked off a goal to streak indefinitely (see sidebar for definition of this). Today, July 18th, I crossed the 30 day line. Only one little mark on hopefully a goal that lasts a very long time. I thought I'd write up some thoughts today as this marker passes on by.

- 239.3 miles!! All time one month record! Even cooler is that it was a total surprise. I had no intention of doing that. Ironically, my July goal is 231 miles that will even up my monthly mileage for 2014 to 200/month. Yea, I've got a serious case of Runner's OCD. :) If I stay on track, 2014 will be a banner year and will break my personal annual record by 200-300 miles.

- I really like the nudge to lace up every day. There were a few days where I only ran 1 or 2 miles. Mostly, that was because my day was starting extremely early or I slept in. (Here's my tracker.)

- I need to mix it up. I retired a pair of Brooks Pure Flows this month as they hit 400 miles. Along with my knees telling me that it was time to hang up and donate the used shoes, I felt the everyday running on asphalt roads was taking a toll on my knees. Luckily, my schedule allowed me to escape to the trails a few days ago for a few hours of ups/downs/sideways on the single track trails of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Here is just one photo I shot while heading up one of hills under a canopy of green.


- I find it easy to keep it interesting. I have many directions to choose from when I wake up every day and run the route that feels the best and most interesting to me that day and at a mileage that I have time for and want. If I feel kind of achy, then I'll keep it easy and light. If I'm feeling like a million bucks, I head out on my 10 mile or half marathon route. Need to run further? Get up earlier! No excuses! :)

- I acknowledge that no one really cares about a streak but me and I don't talk about it except for here on my blog or a post to the streaking group on Facebook. Outside of that, it's my own little mission and motivator to get out there. What I'm thankful for is that it doesn't feel like a chore or a burden...like I'm slave to the streak. I "want" to get out there and whether one or 22...I'm thankful for every step.

Yesterday's "first light" at my local park
- I sure do love sunrises and I've seen more than ever in the past 30! Winning!!! :))

- Chafing. Yea...running everyday does require more BodyGlide and running shirtless more often. Just a little tidbit I just knew you wanted to know.

- I continue to be thankful for Hammer Nutrition. Their Recoverite product continues to be gold in my nutrition and post-run regimen. Absolutely swear by it and the company. (Nudge: you can save 15% off your first order by clicking on the banner at right and order via that page.)

- More push-ups. During this streak, I started a new routine and that is to stop once or twice (or more during longer runs) to pump out 25, 30, or 35 push-ups. Doing it for a month now has definitely trimmed some fat in the chest and shoulder area and helped "tank top wearing" in these summer months a little more acceptable. :) Being nothing but a runner, my upper body needs help and this new routine has fit in well to the streaking.

- 30 is over but I have no intent of stopping. I really do find a lot of joy out of greeting each day inside a pair of Brooks. I've run in the outer bands of Hurricane Arthur in a torrential downpour, run the past several days in 90%+ humidity and got soaked every time, and during a vacation, got to explore the area which led into what we did as a family for dinner and recreation. Give me a path ahead, a pair of Brooks, and let me go...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Belated: M-Cubed for 7.14.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for July Fourteenth, Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Surely you can relate. Life. Busyness. Some things have to take the back seat. So here ya go...my first ever Hump Day M-Cubed 48 hours late. Plenty to say, little time to type it.

- Over the weekend, I got the bug in my brain to build a homemade lightbox. What's a lightbox? Technically, it's "a flat box with a side of translucent glass or plastic and containing an electric light, so as to provide an evenly lighted flat surface or even illumination, such as in an art or photography studio." You can spend all kinds of money on them but I Googled how to make a homemade one. I adapted it to use only what I could find laying around the house and in the basement. So with an old Hammer Nutrition box, a few sheets of copier paper and a glue stick, I made one.


My first round of photos were in my laundry room with that fluorescent light. Even with the white sides, I had no idea about setting manual exposure so my photos all had this creaminess to them. See below for just a few. Luckily, a few friends who know about photography chimed in and gave me feedback after seeing these.





So today after breakfast, I grabbed the leftover avocado and took several photos but this time with the natural light from outside coming in from the side and moved the manual exposure around to achieve the true background as it exists. Here is the result...a complete up-tick in quality in what I'm going for. I now feel very limited by my ultra-tiny free box. I need a bigger cardboard box and some large sheets of white poster board and I'll be in business. Won't be free but won't even cost me the price of a Starbucks Frappuccino. (click on photo for high resolution version)


- Huge congrats to Bob "Gombu" Combs who finished yet another Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run over the weekend. It's a monster race without the normal 30hr limit but instead a 48hr limit...even starts on Friday morning to give enough time through the weekend. An incredible accomplishment!! (photo credit to Kimba who was there to assist Gombu...Bob's son paced him through the final miles)

- My running streak is still alive and kicking. Day 28 is today and has yet to happen...but it will. Also ahead of schedule for my monthly mileage goal. I'm also a month in to my "push up" initiative. I've been pausing a few times during each run and cranking out 25-30 military regulation push-ups. On Monday morning's 10, for example, I did 25 at all of the even miles so I got in 125 push-ups. I have definitely seen a change in the mirror thanks to these and feel stronger. Since I do nothing but run, I wanted to not only look better in a tank top ;), but increase my upper body strength. Working so far!

- Like my Facebook page yet for RTRSBM? No? Click here and "like" away! I typically post daily with all kinds of things. "Like" if you'd like to!

- I retired yet another pair of Pure Flow 2's a few days ago. Amazing to me the mileage I continue to get. Most specialty running stores will tell you that you'll get 250-300 miles out of a pair. At 6'3" and weighing in 200-205 pounds, I keep getting 400 miles out of every pair. The photo below shows the retired pair (right) and the new pair (left). Talk about even/perfect wear and honestly, not a whole lot of wear at all. The insides, though, are done. My knees told me so! So now, I'm wearing these obnoxious bright orange/directing traffic kind of Pure Flow 2's. It's the last in my inventory so I'll be on to the Pure Flow 3's next. "Rest in Peace, blue!!! You did well!"


- I am amazed at how one man/athlete/guy can have such an impact on a city. Things are rolling for Cleveland recently. First, they got picked to host the 2016 Republican National Convention which is HUGE for the city and now LeBron James is returning to the Cavs. Seriously...the ripple effect from his return boggles my mind. Just his announcement has caused a spike in season ticket sales and will benefit every restaurant around the "Q" in downtown Cleveland and pour revenue into the city. Then you have the retail element where his jersey and "LBJ" gear will once again be everywhere and sold on street corners...even counties away like it was 4 years ago. He's just a guy...but wow. I really couldn't care less as I don't have any interest in basketball but I am happy for the fans and the city of Cleveland. It would be awesome to see Cleveland get a championship. We really do have the best fans around, regardless of sport. They/we deserve one! So you go, LBJ...but I'm not going to call you the (K)ing. That's just a bit much for me.

- In closing today, here's a quote to digest for a moment...

"Every run is a work of art, a drawing on each day's canvas. Some runs are shouts and some runs are whispers. Some runs are eulogies and others celebrations. When you're angry, a run can be a sharp slap in the face. When happy, a run is your song. And when your running progresses enough to become the chrysalis through which your life is viewed, motivation is almost beside the point. Rather, it's running that motivates you for everything else the day holds."

-Dagny Scott Barrios, Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running

Have a great rest of your week and Happy Hump Day!