Monday, August 3, 2015

M-Cubed for 8.3.2015

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

- Good morning! For those of you who drift on by on Monday mornings, I posted my 9 month update since I began CrossFit. You can read it here.

- August?! Dang. You definitely know what's up when you visit all the retailers right now...from places like Wal-Mart and Target to the grocery stores: school supplies! That makes sense. What DOESN'T make sense is Halloween costumes. I've seen that more than once! In another few weeks, the snow-blowers will be out!

- I have a pretty decent commute and I'm often on the search for a great podcast. I'm a huge fan of FamilyLife and their daily radio show on families and marriage. I found a new one a week or so ago from Mashable. If you're into tech and the business/marketing surrounding it, you'll love it. They actually covered's Prime Day two weeks ago and it was super interesting. My education and passion is definitely in the business realm so I loved it...but I also love my gadgets. Great find! I also highly recommend their pages on Facebook: Mashable Tech and Mashable.

- You are probably chock full of CrossFit but just one thing on this Monday morning. One of the benchmark WOD's is named "Cindy" and it's also a great workout to prepare for the Hero WOD "Murph." It's a 20min AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 air squats. I've done it 3 times. The first was last November when I was brand new in CrossFit and did 10 complete rounds plus 10 more reps...using a band to assist the pull-ups. On July 8th, I did it and did much better at 13 rounds plus 13 more reps and without any band assistance. A few days ago, I did it again and scored 14 complete rounds plus 20 reps! Boom! My weak point and where I pause most is still the push-ups. The pull-ups went well (although I really want to learn the more efficient butterfly variety) and I did all the squats unbroken. Always room to get better but I'm happy with the progression in the short period of time!

- It was a lonely week at home as my wife and girls headed to the beach. It was just my baby girl, Bristol, and me. It helped that my parents' ice cream shop is only 3 miles away...and Bristol LOVES vanilla ice cream!

- I've wrote about the Chattanooga shootings over the past few weeks so as the investigation continues and the country raised their flags back to full staff and the 4 Marines and one sailor were buried, one news item that came out a few days ago was that the commanding officer of the Navy Reserve center did, in fact, discharge his personal weapon during the attack. I'm going to watch this story closely because while what he did was heroic in trying to defend his center, everyone knows he is strictly forbidden from carrying a firearm in uniform and also bringing one into the center itself.  It's an ugly situation and one I don't envy him for being in. As a father of 4 with a fifth on the way and a wife, I really hope for the best for him and his family. Here's one local story from Chattanooga. The rest of the investigation is ongoing. I was encouraged, though, that for those centers across the country that are unarmed (which are many), armed sentries are now authorized. Amen to that!

- Soda/pop drinker? Read this from Yahoo! News.

- Surely, you've seen the many faint rainbows behind your Facebook friends' profile photos ever since the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage...right? Well, a few Air Force officers thought "Why can't we do that with the American flag? So they did and you can create yours right now. Here's the story and the link is within.

- I had the honor of doing my 3rd Veteran Pinning on Friday. If you recall, I volunteered with a local hospital that has a program called Veteran to Veteran for patients in hospice care (expected to pass within 6 months) who are veterans. It's a way to say "Thank you" from one veteran to another. For this one, he was an 88 year old World War II vet. His memory wasn't so good but he was very kind. He told me of his time when he joined just after the war ended and he was in Europe. Like the previous two, it was an honor to read him the certificate, hear his story, pin him, and shake his hand while thanking him for serving his country and paving the way for folks like me. I won't forget his story about his job: At the age of 16, he went to a factory in Cleveland that made shells for the Army and Navy. They wouldn't hire him unless he proved he dropped out of school. Well, he did and never went back. When he joined the Army, the factory held his job and he went back and worked a total of 30 years for that company. I asked why he went at 16 and his reply was "I just felt like I was supposed to work for the rest of my life." What a concept!!! Can you imagine if our country's youth today had this mindset? Not one of quitting school, mind you, but of a work ethic like this. This man ended up raising 9 children and working at another factory for 15 years after retiring from the first. He repeatedly told me of how blessed he felt in his life and how he regretted nothing. Quite an inspiration!

- Do you know who Jared Fogle is? I didn't, either. But I do know who Subway's Jared is...the spokesman for years who lost all that weight. Ring a bell? Well, it turns out he allegedly paid $100 to have sex with a 16 year old girl. The FBI is all over him and as expected, Subway can't distance themselves fast enough. This is from their Facebook page. Sick. If you want to read any stories, just Google him. I won't be posting any links here. How does that saying go? "You're never too big to fall." Crash.

- Before I leave you today, I read this short article on Mashable over the weekend where a photographer used light to "show" the sound/music coming from a violin. The results are incredible! Below is just one image from the article. I can only imagine what it would be like if he did this with a variety of stringed instruments on stage during something like the 1812 Overture. That would be simply amazing. Here's the article.

- As I let you go this morning to get on with your week, I simply leave you with this today. It applies to us matter what! Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

CrossFit Update: 9 Month Report

Looking back prior to parking myself on my back patio this morning, I was surprised to see it's been a month and a half since I wrote on this topic in detail...June 17th, to be exact. At that point, my wife and I were two weeks into a new CrossFit gym/box and starting over in many ways. This journey, itself, began last November 4th and here in 2 days will be 9 months old. It has been a great experience, overall, and one we have no intention of stopping. We still hear the comments like "You know it's a cult, right?" ... but we continue on knowing such a statement is simply the result of misinformation and while as innocent as it is, can't be taken seriously or any offense taken. As I try to sum it all up in a single, concise blog post, it's going to be hard not to compare/contrast the two gyms we have been a part of while bringing you current on where we stand. It's a huge part of our "story."

Google image...not me!
It's incredibly personal. One thing that will eventually hit is the "why" of why to dive into this "sport" of CrossFit. Seriously...why pay a premium fee to work so hard, give so much, bleed, and do workouts where your insides want to come to the outside? I mean seriously...Planet Fitness is only 10 bucks and they serve pizza. Whatever reason it is when you walk in most likely won't be the reason a month or 9 months later. We all want to lose weight, get fitter, eat better, etc. It was only 10 days ago when I faced the rawest of days in the gym. It was an all-time low and brought out a side of me that may have never seen the light of day. I truly lost my cool. It was a WOD/high intensity workout that included a movement called chest-to-bar. (pictured here is a photo I found online...definitely not me...I don't have any photo proof of me doing this but this helps you picture the movement) It's something I couldn't do prior to joining my current gym. It takes the pull-up to a new level and forces you to make contact with the bar with your chest to be a legitimate rep which requires more pulling and strength. Anyway, there were a LOT of them and I could feel my hands begin to tear...a common by-product of being on the bar. The last time I was in a similar workout, my hands tore in 6 places but I wouldn't quit but my coach did...I mean he literally got in his car and left the gym. He quit on me and that event was one of the many reasons I had to leave that gym. This workout 10 days ago brought that memory full circle as I looked up at the bar and saw my blood and in my hand, blood-colored chalk on one hand and skin hanging off my left. I said some things out of frustration and anger...yet my coach didn't leave. The clock continued to tick and he said "I won't quit on you as long as you don't quit on me." Well, I wasn't pretty, though. I had also said some things I wasn't proud of. Before I left that day, I apologized but little did I know, the worst was yet to come...and it wasn't the raw skin on both hands. As I replayed the event in my head, I grew more and more ashamed of myself and the question presented itself again..."Why?" Why do I do this? It was clear from my coach and others that I gave off the vibe that I didn't want to be there and didn't enjoy it...but I do. Well, it turns out that he was just as upset as I was but in a different way. The anger poured out and negativity had no place in his gym or in CrossFit. I knew it. He knew it. My wife knew it. It was a turning point and a point to re-commit to pack it up and leave. I prayed on it, discussed it at length with my bride and one last time, hashed it out and "buried the hatchet" with my coach. We were good. Renewed. A little bit of grace shown and I felt welcomed back into the fold but with a new recommitment to how I would enter the gym every day and how I would react to opposition...not from others, but from myself when I hit that ugly spot again in the future because I promise you, that day will come. "It never gets easier," I was once told by my original coach. Truth. It doesn't. It's such an incredible parallel to life, too. Work, marriage, running, we deal with problems, pain, suffering, opposition, conflict...our reaction is such a reflection into our inner being, soul, and a glimpse into who we really are when the onion is truly peeled apart. will peel that onion time and time again. Peel away... To my coach: "Thanks, Will, for not quitting on me."

Community. It's something I had read about and watched countless videos about. One of the big allures of CrossFit is not only the ripped abs and bodies often produced but the community that CrossFit gyms have. Due to the extremely loose requirements to open a legit CrossFit box (simply a Level One certification), what every box looks like is one-of-a-kind. From the programming, structure, class-climate, equipment, etc.,  it's all different. The "vibe" and community, too, are one-of-a-kind and may or may not even exist. I had been looking for this community for several months into this journey yet never found it. I found some awesome new friends but the community, no matter how hard I tried to find it or even volunteer to build it, never appeared. My new home couldn't be more different. It's normal for the grill to get fired up and steaks thrown on it after a long day. It's normal for laughter, taking fun jabs at each other, and celebrating new achievements together. It's normal for the gym to post advice on nutrition and science behind it. It is normal to have a clean gym and pride in it. It's also normal to accept that we're all built differently, have different abilities, but to expect us to all give 100% within those abilities. Heck, we're even going to hit up a Cleveland Indians game soon as a "family." It's not just about moving weight around and sweating a ridiculous amount, it's also about living and living abundantly. Doing the workouts becomes empty if not for a growing "community" and for me, I'm incredibly thankful to have found mine.

This past Friday...a little bit of cleanup is needed! CHEST DAY!
Coaching matters. I could give you Webster's definition of it but honestly, it's common sense. A coach is someone who actually cares about his/her athlete, wants to see them succeed, is trained in the fundamentals, can teach and demonstrate those fundamentals, can motivate, will hold accountable, keeps safety in mind, and will stay grounded and true to the mission at hand. Slapping a label on a person because they hold a certificate, degree, etc. doesn't make them a coach. Maybe it puts some letters behind their name but it doesn't matter at all if the above don't jive. I have heard time and time again over the past month from new gym members how in ONE DAY, they have improved drastically in something...and why? They were actually coached one-on-one and not just shouted to from across the room as an afterthought. I saw it again yesterday when we had a free squat clinic. We had a visitor who really struggled in the squat and in only the clinic time itself, totally turned it around. The squat is fundamental to just about everything and if it's not right, pretty much nothing else will be either. So for me approaching 9 months, I've gotten so much better at fundamental things in the past two months due to the coaching, I'm pumped about what is to come. It's slow...but I'll get there. Plus, I've got this little thing called "age" and "in-flexibility" that are working against me. I'm just not as limber as some of these other guys and gals! One fellow gym member was shocked a few days back to find out I was twice his age. Yep...42 years young!

The Icing on the Cake. I am positive that many enter CrossFit the first time because of the pictures of others they see. The 8 packs...the shapely shoulders, toned chests and butts that clearly squat often. That wasn't my driving force...I'm the exception. I will also say that CrossFit's impact on the body is different for every person out there. Not only are we physiologically different but our stress levels, amount of sleep, nutrition, length of time spent in the gym, effort all feeds into the results. Yesterday, our newest coach, Ashley, did body fat measurements prior to the squat clinic using calipers. While it's not the most scientific method, it's better than what the military does to me...jump on a scale, measure my neck and abdomen, and call it a day. For years, they have called me borderline obese. Well, I came in at 10.2% body fat yesterday when I was expecting a number near 20. I haven't even lost 10 pounds since November last year, though. However, I've essentially flipped the "pear" over. Before, I was shaped more "pear" like with zero definition of anything in my upper body with a spare tire that would never go away, even running 200+ miles a month. Today, the tire is almost gone but I have that definition up top. The jeans were a tight 34 or 36 and today are a loose 32. While the scale shows little change, the mirror reflects a total change. I've got photo proof but for today, I'm just not comfortable showing them...not sure if I ever will be! But yea, it's the icing on the cake. It's great to finally "fill out" my military uniform as it should be and have clothes fit tighter in "good" areas and loose in the previous "bad" areas.

It wouldn't be a normal post of mine without some photos so I'm going to stop typing and share some photos. I've given a bit of narration under each one to explain it. If you want to stay more in touch on a daily basis, subscribe to my Instagram feed. (link is at top right of blog if viewing on a computer) I post most often there and try to post less on Facebook.
My little creation one day playing around. Ready to slap one of these on the back of my car!

Oh yes. This would be the bar I wrote about where I bled and spend a lot of time working. Of course, I cleaned the bar that day but I return daily to get stronger. I love working on this bar.

Yea...this is pretty normal lately along with my new addiction of sweet potatoes. Need protein!

Always proud of my bride. She has the attitude I need. She keeps it positive and displays the attitude I need in the gym.

Such a burn. It's not so bad pushing the sled with those tall bars. It's the return trip with the lower bar that light up the quads!

One photo from my first-ever competition during a hand stand hold at CrossFit Steeltown in PA.

Ah yes...gymnastic rings. The "holy grail" movement in CrossFit is the muscle up. I am slowly moving towards attempting my first one but for now, am working on pull-ups using the rings and getting my hands in the proper positions.

While I have lost some endurance fitness for distance running, I ran this 5K on July 4th and competed against local runners that I could never keep up with before. On a hilly course across Kent State University, I took first place in my age group! The pic, taken by my wife, does show how I have physically changed. There was zero muscle in my upper body before!

Work work work! Climbing this 18 foot rope has become a real test for me. Just a week ago, I finally figured out how to most efficiently wrap my foot to climb efficiently, quickly, and saving energy. I'm now to the point of making it to the ceiling in 3 pulls. I love climbing the rope.

Self-explanatory. One year before and after...same spot...different morning.

We use the GHD's in the background and the kettle bells and boxes quite a bit. It's commonplace now to warm up with back extensions and GHD situps daily on those guys back there.

On this day two weeks ago, I came within 10 pounds of a new back squat personal record but I didn't have it in me. On the flip side, I am squatting so much better and stronger. Today when I lift, I spend maybe an hour or more building strength and focusing on the fundamentals vs. 10min of strength work. Overall, I am much stronger.

Honestly, I wouldn't want to do this "just me." We're approaching 23 years now and doing this together is critical for me. It's safe to say I am not meant to be alone...she can attest to that! While we may not always sweat together at the gym, we share the journey, encourage each other, and celebrate the little victories. 23 years is a long time but I wouldn't want to travel this path with anyone else. CrossFit doesn't define me or us but it does teach us how to live better and enjoy it. That along with our grounded faith and commitment to each other makes a life worth living.

Click here for my entire CrossFit series since 11/2014

Monday, July 27, 2015

M-Cubed for 7.27.2015

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

- Hot and humid and in the upper 80s. That was the forecast over the weekend as the Burning River 100 Mile trail race took place from east of Cleveland to downtown Cuyahoga Falls. That's been the typical offering of weather for that race and the main reason I have said since my 2009 finish of this event that I wouldn't return. Heat and humidity is definitely my kryptonite and I'm just not up for that kind of suffering again. It has grown to massive proportions now with over 800 participants in the 100 miler, 50 miler and relays, too. From all accounts, it was another great event.

- It's now been 11 days since the horrific shootings in Chattanooga, TN where four U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy sailor lost their lives. It's been interesting to see how things have progressed since then and the reaction of many. If you skim social media, you'll see that the fallen are being laid to rest now. For the immediate days that followed July 16th, there was a social media outcry about why the flag wasn't ordered to half staff. 5 days after the shooting, the President finally ordered it to half staff until this past Saturday at sunset. The biggest contrast for this taking so long was the very recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states when the White House was lit up in rainbow colors 2 hours after the ruling. I'm not making a statement about that ruling but just stating the facts. You can decide to think what you may about this. There has also been an out-pouring from the gun-rights community and concerned citizens as many armed citizens from around the country have shown up at recruiting centers to stand watch in an effort to protect military on U.S. soil. On Friday, the Pentagon released a statement, asking those to not show up any longer. "We take the safety of our service members, our DoD civilians, and the families who support them very seriously, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is currently reviewing recommendations from the services for making our installations and facilities safer — including our recruiting stations," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement. "While we greatly appreciate the outpouring of support for our recruiters from the American public, we ask that individuals not stand guard at recruiting offices as it could adversely impact our mission, and potentially create unintended security risks," Cook said. "We continue to partner with and rely on first responders for the safety of the communities where our service members live and work." Lastly, it turns out that those killed "could" get awarded the Purple Heart...but first, the act of "terrorism" must actually be proven to be tied to terrorism. Amazing, isn't it?! The red tape is crazy. Before I sign off this subject, I just want to say this: I hope you're angry if you consider yourself an American. You should be. You should be livid. Servicemembers killed on our soil in our backyard...the outcry should be deafening. But it isn't...and social media is a perfect litmus test for it. There are certain "issues" in our world that light up social media and sadly, garbage stories like Bruce Jenner light it up more than this. That's messed up!

- It was an "interesting" week of CrossFit. I won't bore you with the details but I will say that I let my emotions, past "baggage," and self-hatred get the best of me. In the end, I feel I came out stronger and even my hands are healing. On Wednesday's workout, I tore them in 3 places during one workout. Skin was dangling afterwards and my blood was on the pull-up bar where I was fighting for chest-to-bar pull-ups. I was back on the pull-up bar on Saturday, not shying away from the chalk bucket one bit. Speaking of Saturday, it was a great workout and the gym had nearly the entire membership present. The picture here is all the components of the workout I ended up doing before I left for the day. It was an up-and-down ladder workout of: 30 GHD sit-ups, 40 kettle bell swings at 55 pounds, 50 box jumps, 40 more swings and wrapped up with 30 more sit-ups on the GHD. (that piece of equipment in the background is the GHD) I did it in 12:02. Before I left, the rope was pulled down so I decided to fully zap my arms by getting about 6 climbs in. I've been working on a more efficient hook grip with my feet and I finally nailed it. It's far more efficient, faster, burns less and I can get up the rope 18 feet consistently in 3 pulls. Now, I need to work on doing them in succession with no rest and moving faster. Doing one at rest is easy...but doing a second immediately thereafter is another story entirely. Here's the last climb I did before leaving on Saturday. CLICK HERE. (pardon the vulgar language in the background music. :) ) All in all, the week ended well and I'm pumped to get back at it tonight...8 1/2 months in!

They picked silver and gold.
- If you think about it, you probably haven't heard much talk of the iPod in recent months and years. For many, the smartphone has replaced the music player. In fact, the 5th generation of Apple's iPod Touch came out in 2012 and most thought that Apple was letting it die. In Apple's most recent press conference, no mention of a refresh was made, either. Then, about 12 days ago, Apple released the 6th generation of the iPod Touch at a very competitive price point of $199. It's physical design is almost identical but the insides are brought current, including the same zippy processor that powers the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. This release prompted my wife and I to do what we hadn't done ever before. For years, our girls have been the recipients of hand-me-downs...old iPhones that were deactivated and turned into virtual iPods. Well, I took them on a surprise trip to an Apple Store on Thursday night and it went off without a hitch! Seriously...they had NO idea what was happening until we were standing in front of them at the Apple Store. So much fun and as a dad, a blast to hear their surprise, giggling and joy for getting them.

- I got a few sunrise runs in this past week. This was one of them where I ran my favorite 10K route. It was moist as heck but a great run! I really appreciate every run I do.

- I mentioned Donald Trump last week and simply asked him to zip it after his slams on John McCain's service history as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. I won't dive into politics this week except to say this. "Republican candidates: I recommend you stop slamming him and spewing tons of negative rhetoric. Look at the polls...people are jumping on his bandwagon. I wouldn't suggest jumping on, too, but instead sticking to your own campaign and creating distance from his...but leave him alone." That's my 2 cents! Ya know Hillary is just licking her chops to take him on!

- A huge congratulations to my parents...44 years of wedded "bliss"!!! Well, I don't know if it has all been "bliss" but they've made it 44 flippin' years and that's awesome. "Happy 44th, Mom and Dad!"

- To wrap up this week, this is a fitting quote. Have a GREAT week, everyone!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

Monday, July 20, 2015

M-Cubed for 7.20.2015

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

- Did you get your ice cream yesterday? It was National Ice Cream Day! We sure did.

- There is more than enough to write about if I released the shackles off my fingers this morning but I won't. The biggest story out there right now is, and rightfully so, is the killing of 4 U.S. Marines and one U.S Navy sailor last week by a lone gunman in Chattanooga, TN. There are all kinds of opinions swirling around like arming military members while stateside, arming recruiters, armed guards at every military facility, Muslims, safety at home vs. at war, etc. Push those all aside and what do we have? We have 5 people who lost their lives and for most of them, left a wife and children behind. We had a Purple Heart recipient. We had multiple tours to war represented. There is a major ripple effect by this one man's actions. My heart aches for the families today. Please lift them up in your prayers. In my opinion from what I know, not much could've been done to prevent what happened. You can bet, though, that there will be a different ripple effect that'll move quickly amongst all the services and how they operate and secure themselves on a daily basis. In fact, it's already happening...I promise. All I ask from you is to keep your head on a swivel and always be watching and questioning things around you. We don't live in the world where you can leave the back porch unlocked while you sleep at night. We need to be vigilant. We need to be aware. We need to stand as one. That gunman didn't weaken a nation last week...he strengthened it.

Gone Never Forgotten...

United States Marine Corps

Lance Corporal Skip "Squire" Wells
Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan
Sergeant Carson Holmquist
Staff Sergeant David Wyatt

United States Navy

Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith

- CrossFit is going AWESOME. Simple as that! I took some more photos yesterday and compared them to several months ago and just two months ago and I'm still showing progress. In the gym itself, a huge concentration continues to focus on the squat. Through that, my back is getting much stronger as are my glutes. I record myself often so I can critique my form and discuss with my coach...that really helps be real with where I am. From a pure upper body strength standpoint, that's also getting better. I'm now clipping multiple sets of chest-to-bars in succession, doing sets of dips, lots of strict pull-ups, and for July...all gym members start the day with an 800m run and 50 push-ups. Wanna warm up? That'll do it! There was this one workout I did this past week that nearly broke me...wanted to puke and wanted to quit. Emotionally, it tapped into that area that usually gets left alone! I have been practicing climbing the rope to the ceiling and a workout appeared that at first glance, wasn't too bad. Well, it was. It was this: 3 rounds of > 3 rope climbs, 15 burpees, and 15 GHD situps. I cruised through that first set in 4min, 3sec but then that second set of climbs destroyed me. It took me over 27min to do it all! That was a huge mind over body workout. One big takeaway from that particular workout was the way I climb and cinch my feet to the rope. There is a faster, more efficient way of doing it and I'm working on that now. In the future, I plan to use it but I have to master the method first in order to climb with it. Below is a snapshot from Saturday when I worked on heavy back squats. I was aiming to set a new personal record but it didn't happen. Still, it was a good lifting day followed by a fire-breathing chipper WOD. I hesitate saying it was a blast but I am glad I did it!

- My daughter and I watched a movie a few days ago on NetFlix called "Ragamuffin" that is the true story of Rich Mullins, a "rough around the edges" Christian singer/songwriter that tragically died early in his life in a Jeep accident. It was a raw account of his life that included his struggle with alcohol, love, multiple failures/tragedies and his relationship with his dad. It was so good and really hit home for me personally. During his life, a man and priest by the name of Brennan Manning made a huge impact on his life and later wrote a book called "The Ragamuffin Gospel." I found it for $4 on Amazon and it's already on the way. :) Rich never really fit the mold of what anyone thought he should be. I know what that feels like...and respect how he stayed true to himself...but I wish he didn't have to suffer like he did. Here's the trailer if you want to check it out. Here are some Brennan Manning quotes I found as well...many of which are found in his Ragamuffin Gospel book. Here are one of my favorites...not favorite in that I love it but it so accurately portrays Christianity in America today:

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” ~ Brennan Manning

- I'm not sure what side of the fence you're on when it comes to Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner but in my opinion, it was pure absurdity that he/she got the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY Awards by ESPN. Really? How about this: I met a Vietnam war veteran who is missing half his face last week from a battle in Vietnam yet returned home to a country that didn't welcome him. I had the honor of meeting him and thanking him for his service. This, amongst countless others who serve our country in the military and as police/firemen demonstrate courage day in and day out. Jenner switched his gender then did a photo shoot to tell the world. That's courage? Even if you think it is, is the world stage appropriate for such level of "courage?"

- "Dear Mr. Trump: SHUT UP!!!!" That is all.

- Anyone else a big fan of "So You Think You Can Dance" on Fox? This family can't dance but we all love it! It's really shaping up to be an awesome season. Monday nights!

- Lastly today, a short blog post to read on "Blank Spaces." I can't even give you a worthy excerpt to sum it up...just read it here. Really good. We're living it, too...but can always do better! Think: less stuff, more in emptiness...more time for what matters...FREEDOM.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, July 13, 2015

M-Cubed for 7.13.2015

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

- I don't mean to be a downer, but summer is essentially 1/2 over...especially if you're one with kids. July 15th just feels like the middle...with schools letting out around June 1st and most back to the grind by the end of August. Can't believe we'll have a high schooler!

- It was a great running weekend where I didn't run much except for yesterday's sunrise 10K. The most popular 50K trail race was a mud-fest on Saturday in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park...the Buckeye Trail 50K. I've done the BT50K more than any other 50K but highly doubt I'll return anytime soon. Still, it's a classic and extremely well done. Another cool running story was by famous ultra-runner, Scott Jurek, who broke the Appalachian Trail thru-hike record by 3 hours. He started at Springer Mountain in Georgia and 46 days, 8 hours (and change) later, he finished in Maine, breaking the 4-year old record held by a woman. The AT is almost 2200 miles long! I actually met Scott 3 years ago when we were on vacation in Washington, D.C. His new book was out (Eat and Run) and he was doing a group run at a nearby running store. I showed up for the run, got my photo taken with him and he signed my copy of his book. Check out my Instagram feed (link on sidebar) for that photo that I posted last night.

- Did you know the Tour de France is well underway...9 stages in? neither. If not for that trending feed on Facebook...

- Yesterday, I headed out on my favorite 10K loop and made the mistake of running through a patch of woods...holy horseflies!!!! I got attacked like never before. On the way back, I recalled a photo I took last year sans shirt. I have always been uncomfortable shedding my shirt in public but after distance running for 17 years and last year averaging over 200 miles a month yet never changing physically "up top," I posted the unimpressive "runner fat" photo. It was a photo that garnered lots of comments of support and "likes" in social media. Ultra marathon after ultra marathon, a good diet, and tons of miles...yet I never changed from the waist up. That photo is on the left below. Yesterday, I took the photo on the right at the exact same year later. The irony here is that I don't even run 50 miles a month now yet that "runner fat" upper body is gone. So is about 3 inches around my waist and only about 5 pounds on the scale. I've also lost a lot of that long endurance running conditioning because I haven't been doing it. I knew that would happen. BUT, a lot of that endurance conditioning has spilled into the CrossFit gym and helped me do really well in some shorter races like that July 4th 5K race where I took 1st place in my age group. Regardless, I'm happy where I am now and posted this along with this photo yesterday: "Overall, happy not primarily of the physical change but because I'm happy doing what brings joy today and that I share the journey with my wife. Running was a solo journey whereas we travel this path together. 42 years old may qualify me as a masters athlete and the young guns may crush me in the gym but as long as I give my all, keep my attitude good and I see small baby steps of progress, it just makes the rest of life and the things that really matter (family life/marriage) all the more enjoyable."

- Oh, baby girl...we do love you! I took this photo a few days back but will spare you the "ugly" photos from yesterday. I was sitting at my computer, trying to track Scott Jurek finishing the AT and all of a sudden, all I heard was a "splat!" I looked to my right and Bristol lost her stomach across the corner of the couch and all over the carpet...and it smelled BAD! I didn't scold her but moved her outside quickly and she lost it 3 more times. The cleanup began and wow, it was awful. I eventually let her back in and she cowered behind the furniture thinking I was mad at her...I wasn't! While below a chair in the living room, she left me puddle #5. Good grief! A little bit later, everyone got home, Bristol chugged some water, and lost it again in a massive way...behind more furniture. The smell was even worse. So for the rest of the night, water/food was limited and she crashed hard. She made it through the night and is currently snoring right here next to me...curled up tight. Food and water are out but she's chosen not to touch anything. We're not sure what she ate that upset her but whatever it was...was violent! Ugh....poor baby girl.

- We had a really good message delivered by our pastor yesterday at church. He's been working through a series on the book of Acts. Yesterday, he found himself in Acts 19 and was telling the story of the Jewish exorcists, commonly known as the Sons of Sceva. I had never heard this story before. Basically, they traveled around doing exorcisms of evil spirits but did them in the name of Jesus who Paul believed in...not the Jesus THEY believed in. It was a story of authenticity and being REAL. What happened was that the evil spirits said (in my own words): "I know who Paul is...I know who Jesus is...but who are you? You're nothing." The sons were taken over, wounded and fled naked. The moral of the story is being real with who you are. These sons were faking it and when true evil faced them, they had no prayer...they had no advocate. They were a fraud. As someone who has faced evil directly, I can't tell you how thankful I am to have the One advocate on my side that matters...and that no matter what happens and how alone I ended up when the crap hits the fan...I'm not alone. These days, especially in America, "Christians'" true colors are showing as so many give in to popular culture to avoid persecution vs. standing strong in what they believe and stand for. They are standing on their own strength and when the evil arrives (and it will), who is going to intercede for them/you? We certainly can't do it alone. (If you want to read this section, look up Acts 19, starting in verse 11.)

- I mentioned several weeks ago that I was volunteering for a program with the local Summa Hospital System in their "Veteran to Veteran" program within hospice. For someone in hospice, they are typically terminal. For this program, a veteran will visit the patient, in uniform, and present them with a certificate, thanking them for their service and "pin" them with a flag pin. Many of these patients are the ones who came before me from the Vietnam era, Korean War, World War II, etc. Well, I finally got to go on my first pinning on Friday where I met a Vietnam era Marine. He even had the regulation and most-recognizable Marine haircut. His apartment was easy to find, too, as Old Glory was waving outside along with a Marine Corps flag. I got to hear his stories, shake his hand along with his wife, and thank him for serving his country. I'm looking forward to this...especially for these Vietnam era veterans. It was a very different country back then when it came to the military and for many, very very bitter. I consider it an honor to thank them for their service and hear their may be the first time for them!

- I shared my thoughts back on June 22nd about taking down the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina capitol. I fully supported that action. Well, that became reality last week as a bill was passed and it came down at 10am on Friday. It represents nothing good today and it's place is best in the museum of history.

- Can you believe it? I'm going to spare you CrossFit talk this week. No workouts, no anything. Things are going well, though. Small baby steps at a great gym with great people. More to follow later.

- To close out today, it's fitting to quote Scott Jurek from his book, "Eat and Run." Have a great week, everyone!

“We all lose sometimes. We fail to get what we want. Friends and loved ones leave. We make a decision we regret. We try our hardest and come up short. It's not the losing that defines us. It's how we lose. It's what we do afterward.”

Monday, July 6, 2015

M-Cubed for 7.6.2015

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

- How was your July 4th holiday? I definitely appreciated the "observed" holiday on Friday followed by the real deal on Saturday. My wife and I took full advantage of the day off Friday by spending 3 hours at our CrossFit home in the morning. By the time we left, nearly the entire gym membership had arrived and lots of weight was being moved! We had to leave, but a cookout followed and continued into the late afternoon. For July 4th itself, we stuck to tradition and headed to Stow (a few towns northwest of us) for the July 4th parade...the best one around, in our opinion. It lasted about an hour and 15min and began with lots of Old Glory as you can see below. The best is at the lower left...a LIVE re-creation of the Iwo Jima Memorial. They do this every year and it never gets old. It was great, too, to see the crowd stand for Old Glory as she passed on by.

Afterwards, we headed into Kent for the farmers market and the beginning of the Heritage Festival happening on the streets of Kent. While there, I made the last minute decision to sign up for a 5K to take place on the Kent State University campus at 7pm. I was already warned of the heat and the hilly course but thought it would be a good opportunity to test myself in not-so-ideal conditions. Before 7pm arrived, we spent some more time in Kent then headed home to relax a bit and perhaps even a mid-day nap. As evening approached, we headed on back to Kent. It was upper 70s and a bit sticky. I noticed a few friends were running the race, too. I warmed up, stretched and told my wife I was about to get my tail handed to me. The time arrived and the race started directly up hill for about 1/2 mile onto a course shaped like a lollipop. I found myself immediately within a group of friends whom I had never been able to run with before and stick with. I passed mile 1 in 7min flat and kept the pace up and opened it up on 2 short down-hills...knowing I'd have to crest them both on the return trip. The 2nd mile was under 7...more around 6:50...and I was still hanging with them. As the last crest happened, it was a 1/2 mile downhill to the finish. Every thing I had...I gave. Nearing the finish, I was right behind a friend of mine (you can see his foot in the photo below) and did everything I could to catch him. I did and finished 2 seconds in front of him, good enough for a 1st place finish in my 40-44 age group and 17th overall!!! For those of you who know me, you know how rare this is! I was super happy and in fact, I didn't get my tail handed to me! I kicked IT in the tail! Final time was 21min, 17sec for a 6:53 average pace. Photo credit below goes to my wife who was along the route near the finish and caught the sprint. "Thanks, Babe!"

- Given all the debate lately on the Confederate flag, same-sex marriage legalization in all 50 states, etc., I have just one question....

Did you know that OFFENSE is a CHOICE? Think about have to CHOOSE to take on an offense. What's worse is that when we own that offense, it becomes front-and-center in our minds. It consumes us and wrecks everything. It's all we can think about! Instead, let me challenge you to reverse this for yourself and don't let offense ruin today for you. Focus on something good. Focus on things you are thankful for. Bless someone! Don't give in to the norm and gain "keyboard bravery" and lash out on social media about how offended you are. Oh yea...on January 26, 1979, the Dukes of Hazzard premiered and has been in syndication for years, most recently on TV Land. I grew up watching that show. Now, it's been pulled. Why? The Confederate flag on the Dodge Charger...or better known as the "General Lee." So because of the social outcry of a Confederate flag flying over a state capitol, it's now appropriate to yank the Dukes? A month problem. Now...  Good grief. It's just all so ridiculous and reactive to...wait for it...OFFENSE. What a waste of time and completely absurd.

- Big time life lesson learned the hard way: don't celebrate the win until you actually WIN. On left below is Ben Payne, an Air Force pilot who began celebrating his assumed win of the 60,000 runner strong AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, GA on Saturday and every July 4th since 1970. On right is British Olympian marathon runner, Scott Overall who was sprinting to the finish, trying to beat Payne. While Payne's arm was in the air celebrating, Overall passed him and beat him by 9/100ths of a second...the first photo finish in the race's 45 year history. Truly..."it's not over till it's over." The irony? A Brit beat an American on Independence Day on American soil.

- This past week has been...a struggle in my CrossFit box. There are some things that I'm better at but overall, I'm playing catch up big time as compared to so many others. I don't know if it's because of how God made me, my age, etc. But things like poor flexibility continue to plague me. I refuse to quit and give up, though. I have had some great gains in my first month at CrossFit 881 and on Saturday, I hit 8 months doing CrossFit. Overall, I love it but often, my attitude turns sharply sour. Let me explain one major hurdle that remains today. Below, you'll see a photo of me that was posted a week ago from my first CrossFit competition on June 27th. I am doing a front squat. If you know anything about position when the bar is on the shoulders, you know what's terribly bad elbows/arms. My upper arms should be parallel to the floor...not pointed down at a 45 degree angle. If they were up, the bar would rest across my shoulders and not cause me to lean forward...back should be straight. This horrible flexibility spills into a plethora of Olympic lifting movements and really frustrates the heck out of me. I do all kinds of stretches and lift them "elbows up!!!!" the best I can....I just can't. Still, I'm going to keep on trying but this is such an issue right's tough for me to stay positive because of the lack of progress. For some, this comes easy...really easy! They just do it without even trying because the flexibility is there. To end this on a positive note, I will say that I made progress in my most difficult lift this past week...the overhead squat and hit a new personal record by 30lbs! On the same day, I hit a new front squat record by 5 pounds. I also began progressions towards doing the butterfly pullup. :))))

- Last Monday, I partially drafted an M-Cubed but just didn't like where it was going so I spared you the pain. Also on Monday, I had a short trip to Columbus, OH where I visited the Rogue Fitness headquarters. While there, I picked up a t-shirt and on that shirt is part of the this week's quote you see below. I posted it on Facebook and was amazed at how many people had personal stories regarding this quote so I definitely wanted to close out today with it. It's powerful and I challenge you to make it your own and decide what it means to you. Have a great week, everyone!

The Man in the Arena

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

President Theodore Roosevelt, from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic".

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Report: 2015 Metcon Games at CrossFit Steeltown

I almost called this a "race report" because as you'll see along the header of my blog, I have a LOT of race reports from lots of marathons and ultra marathons. Well, this is my first "race report" from my first CrossFit competition that my wife and I competed in yesterday, just outside Pittsburgh, PA at CrossFit Steeltown in Moon, PA. A small  *disclaimer before I even start: I know that in comparison to many mainstream CrossFit athletes, I have far to go, am weak, am old(er), and lack the flexibility and proper form if examined under the educated eye of a great coach or judge. I got it. I am, however, an open book and strive daily to learn and be better so my report is just that...MY report of my/our experience at our first competition. I'm sure my coach will point out all kinds of "issues" but that's his job and will give us more to work on and be better at. The learning NEVER stops and form/function/performance is never perfect. An openness to critique, pursuit to be better, and giving nothing less than everything in my opinion, really defines what a CrossFit athlete should be and I'd like to think I am one. So with that said...our first comp!

CrossFit gyms can make a comp whatever they want it to be. It can be a partner comp where you sign up as a 2-person team to compete. That team could be specific to male/female or female only, for example. The comp could specify that the "elite" athletes at gyms aren't welcome to attend. read that correctly! There was a comp recently that wanted all of us "average" athletes only. Other comps have options to scale down the events to make them achievable for all and others won't. So many variables out there and the 2nd Annual Metcon Games were no exception. For the Metcon Games, the format was: 4 events or "WODs" and the results would be tabulated as male and female. No age divisions and no scaled division. Everyone does everything to the best of their ability as an individual and that's it! At the end of 4 workouts, the top 5 moved on to the semi-finals and after that, the top 3 competed in the final to find the ultimate champion of the day for the men and women. Our day began with an 8:30am meeting and WOD #1 began at 9am and continued non-stop in countless heats throughout the day until reaching the semi's and finals. By 4pm, we were done and enjoying sumptuous burgers at a local watering hole called "Burgatory." Oh my my...

WOD #1: Row 2000 meters then do as many over-the-rower burpees as possible within 10 minutes. When this workout got announced early in the week, I practiced it twice. Both times I finished within a few seconds of 7min, 21sec then worked on an immediate transition into burpees while doing a lateral jump over the rower. My plan going in was to insert 5 pull "pick-ups" at every odd numbered interval (e.g. 1700 to go, 1500 to go, etc.) then get my breathing back under control for the final 200m to ensure a smooth transition into burpees. It all went to plan and I did the row in 7min, 24sec and did 27 burpees. While my technique and form have a lot to be desired (my coach will certainly work with me on this), I have no regrets. I really felt I gave it 100% and did it to the best of my ability. The video here actually captures one of those 5-pull bursts. Most of the time, I wasn't moving that fast and hard. My standing amongst all men for this heat: 19th of 36 men for the 2000m row and 27th of 36 men for the burpees.

WOD #2: 4 minutes to achieve 2 rep max shoulder-to-overhead (in any way you wish..strict press, push press, push jerk or split jerk) followed immediately by as many front squats as possible in one minute using the weight you hit 2 lifts with successfully. Well, if you know me, you know this WOD was probably not one I was looking forward to. It was my wife's favorite. (opposites attract!) I worked on this for the 3 days prior to the event and had a game plan. It didn't help that just prior to my heat, there was this one super strong girl who out-lifted my goal! (I got "chicked" before I even started!) Anyway, I got in one good lift at an easy weight to at least get a score but then had to strip the weight off the bar because the hooks were too low that held the bar. I raised them up at least 6" and re-loaded the bar for my 2nd lift at 115lbs. I got in two good lifts then loaded it at 135lbs. My goal was 145lbs that I hit earlier last week. Once I got two at 135lbs, a quick glance at the clock told me I was out of time. Only 30sec of my 4min remained...not enough time to pull off the springs, load two plates and re-lift so I just waited it out until the 1min clock started for front squats. I got in 5 at 135, took about a 10sec break then got 5 more in for a total of 10 in the minute. Lesson learned: make sure the J-hooks are at the right height before I start. That messed everything up! Regardless, it was a solid effort. My stats just in this heat against all men: 35th of 36 men for the weight overhead and 34th of 36 for the squats. The guy who took 1st in this lifted 275lbs and then squatted that 16 times. Dang. He is also 21 and won the whole competition at the end of the day. This definitely knocked me down a bit in the overall standings. (I'm the one in the blue shirt in the video spectators were allowed in the room)

WOD #3
: Sled Push with 90lbs on sled, 15 box jumps at 24", sled push with 135lbs, 25 box jumps, sled push with 180lbs, 35 box jumps, then 225 lbs on sled for as long as you can push it...all within a 7min time cap. Score is how far you could get. For the jumps, stepping on box was authorized and what just about everyone ended up doing because the sled totally gasses your legs and makes jumping on a 24" box downright....bloody! I started out great and jumped those first 15 jumps. After that second push, though, my first jump nearly ended with a cut shin and I resolved to step and but not stop. To my left and right, the other men were doing the same so I felt good. In my small heat of 5 men in a row, I initially trailed them all but by the final 2 minutes, I caught them all and was leading. I simply never stopped and rested and that paid dividends. I have found a lot of my endurance running mindset works in many CrossFit workouts when it comes to how to pace yourself for the long haul. I definitely have an engine! (I just need more strength to compliment it!) LOL! I ended up with 33 box jumps in my 3rd set of jumps and 3 completed sled pushes. My standings amongst all men during this WOD: 18th of 36 men.

WOD #4:'s the setup: 5 different movements and for each, you have 100 seconds (or 1min, 40sec). In between each movement, a 20sec rest not much! For the first 3, the score was the greatest number of unbroken done without stopping. #1 was double-unders (jump-rope), #2 was wall-balls (see video down below), and #3 was kettle-bell thrusters (I had never done them before!). For the 4th, it was a handstand hold. Score was the max time you could hold it. The last movement was the number of calories pedaled on the Air Assault wind-bike. So here we go: I grabbed my jump rope that I brought with me and told my judge that I've never strung two double-unders together. I can do 2 - 1 - 2 - 1, etc. but not two in a row. I still tried and didn't get any. I moved on to wall balls and really didn't know how I'd do. I surprised myself big time and got in 42 wall balls with the 20lb ball unbroken. Moving to the kettle bell thrusters...well, I got a big fat 5. I did 4 then rested and then got 5. Not good at all and something I could use a lot of work on. Next up was the hand stand hold. I faced the wall vs. facing out because I have a hard time getting up into the hold. For my group of 4 men, I held it the longest at 58 seconds. The last movement was the air assault bike (see video below). Again, a first for me but I did great at 33 calories. That was a total burn!  Everything was on fire so I just put my head down and pedaled and pushed with my arms as hard and fast as I could. In my mind, I just told myself it was just a short pain and then the day is over! It went well and that effort ended up being my best of the day. My standings amongst all men for WOD #4: Double-Unders: tied with others for last! :), Wall-Balls: 12th of 36 men :), Kettle bell thrusters: 35th of 36 men, Hand stand hold: 10th of 36 men, Air Assault bike: 6th of 36 men!!!

My attempts at stringing two double-unders together

Locking out after a kettle bell thruster

Hand stand hold for 58 seconds

At the end of the day, that last WOD moved me from 31st overall to 26th overall (I was 31st after WOD #3). Happy? Oh yea. I gave my best effort at the Metcon Games and looking around the room, I felt pretty darn good since my wife and I easily were some of the oldest competitors there. For our first competition, it was a great first impression! Here is immediately after getting off that air assault bike...courtesy of my wife. :)

After I got up from this, we both cracked open the Hammer Nutrition Whey and got that protein in our body where it was needed. We had been sipping on Hammer's Heed electrolyte but were looking forward to getting repair going with strawberry whey. Shortly after that, the top 5 women and men were announced for the semi-final WOD and then the top 3 of each moved on to the final WOD. Here is what they did and it WAS an awesome two events to watch! Brutal! (good thing I didn't make it to either...I would've been in serious trouble!)

Many thanks to Dannielle Ripper who calls CrossFit Steeltown home and invited us out for our first competition. You and Eric were great hosts and your "family" there at Steeltown are great! I know many didn't participate because they were the army of judge volunteers. They were great so thank you to you and them...and a belated Happy Birthday! For my bride and I, we had a great time and really enjoyed spending the time together and being in different heats so we could root each other on and photograph each other, too. (added benefit) We both told each other we wouldn't want to be there without the other...just like our first 7 months in CrossFit so far. We're already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Metcon Games next year!

Monday, June 22, 2015

M-Cubed for 6.22.2015

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

- Good morning, friends, and my apologies for no M-Cubed a week ago. A little thing called family vacation was in full swing at the time. I took my family on a 10 1/2 hour road trip to Cape Cod, MA for the second time in about 8 years, specifically Falmouth, MA. I'll ask them again soon but I do believe they all had a great week. Highlights included a day in Boston, MA where we walked the Freedom Trail, stood atop the Boston Marathon finish line, and pushed our young girls to the limit as they covered many miles on foot. Another day took us to Newport, RI where I gave them a driving tour of the naval base, lunch at the Officers Club, a walk around Fort Adams along with a stop at the Eisenhower House, some mansion viewing and finally dinner with grilled calamari. A rainy day brought us to the only craft brewery on the cape, Cape Cod Beer, where we got the free tour led by none other than a CrossFit Level 1 trainer (sweet!), a tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory, and a viewing of Jurassic World. Loved it! Hmmm...another day took us less than an hour north to Plymouth where we saw where the Pilgrims hit Plymouth Rock, we toured the Mayflower II (the to-scale replica of the original Mayflower) and even found another craft brewer, the Mayflower Brewing Company. Another great day! The rest of the time was spent relaxing, sleeping in and I did squeeze in a few runs along the coast. Below are just a few snapshots of our time away.
The Mayflower II in Plymouth, MA

Dodging traffic to stand atop the Boston Marathon Finish Line...something I've never done!

Fort Adams

Favorite photo whilst running in Cape Cod. This is "Green Pond." Postcard worthy!

Last day of running along the coast. A beautiful morning but never saw the sun!
- So we saw Jurassic World. Loved it. To me, that was the true sequel to the original Jurassic Park some 20 years ago. I really appreciated how Steven Spielberg tied in so many little details from the original...and I'll be honest (spoiler alert!), I forgot about the T-Rex! Great movie. After we got home, we had a date nite at home and watched "Listen to Your Heart" on Netflix. I just can't recommend this one highly enough. I do love music (listening to the Classical channel right now on iTunes Radio as I type) and can appreciate a raw, authentic, "human" love story. This is it. I may watch it again, too. (Cybill Shepherd only has a co-star role...everyone else, you probably have never heard of) Looking forward, I'll admit that I am looking forward to seeing "Inside Out" by Disney/Pixar. I caught a piece of an interview with the writer at Pixar who made the movie while driving to Cape Cod on NPR. The birth of the movie came from his actual 12 year old daughter and wondering about all the things that go on inside her brain. From that came forth the beginning of Inside Out. Looking forward to it!

- I started typing a blog post on Saturday about the shooting massacre at the church in South Carolina and into my second paragraph, I deleted the post and put the computer away. I have lots of thoughts on the tragedy but I'll just say a few things here today and let it go.
  • Politicians: get off your agenda and desire for re-election by using this to re-ignite the gun control debate. NO LAW would've kept this hate crime from happening. If someone wants to get a firearm to kill others like this, they'll get it....with or without the help from Uncle Sam. Period.
  • Confederate Flag: If you dig into the history of the flag, it's beginning was not founded on hate or racist motives. That's an arguing point for those wanting to keep it on license plates and flying over the SC capitol. HOWEVER, I will agree with those who say that TODAY, it does not represent what it once did. Be honest: what do you immediately think when you see a big 'ol truck with that flag plastered across the back window and who do you think will be driving the truck when you look? What do you automatically "assume" when you see someone parading that flag? All food for thought. My opinion: in today's society, it has no place. It has a place in history that is fully justified but it doesn't represent anything good today. That's just a reality.
  • The real issue: The real issue here is a heart-sick country and lack of leadership that begins in the home. Broken homes, lack of parental leadership, lack of dads leading their sons (and daughters), and a lack of principles to guide our youth into becoming loving, giving, sacrificial members of society. It's not gun control. (beating the drum on that one) You want reform in this country? It starts in the your dinner those bed-side prayers with your kids and/or your spouse. Change starts with me...with you...with us.
  • Grace: The grace shown by the family members of the fallen has been hugely inspirational and shouldn't be brushed aside. They are uniformly returning grace after receiving hate. They are living out the principle of "turning the other cheek" and extending grace where none is deserved. It began by welcoming this young man into their Bible study and continues after he murdered the majority of them. How much will we learn from this?
- It was a huge running weekend and I didn't run a step. Nope, not one! I ran the Highlands Sky 40 Mile trail run for the past two years and it took place this weekend in WV. The Mohican 100 Miler also took place and I have to give a huge shout-out to a most inspirational man, Mr. Ron Ross. He became the first person to finish 20 Mohican incredible feat! "Congratulations, Ron!" I have never run Mohican but Ron has pleaded with me to consider it. These were only two of the many trail ultras over the weekend. May you all recover well! Here is Ron's post-finish interview. So awesome!

20 Mohican 100 Trail Run Finishes
"No quit. I raised my kids to be that way." - Ron RossRon Ross finished his 20th Mohican 100 Trail Run today in over 31 hours while being cheered on by his family.Happy Fathers day to Ron and all the other awesome dads out there. #mohican100 #fathersdayOMBC/Mohican 100/100k MTB, Mohican 100/50 Trail and Marathon Trail Races
Posted by on Sunday, June 21, 2015

- I'm not going to say much about CrossFit today and I'm really going to try and stop saying much at all on social media about it as well. It's going very well and my wife and I spent over two hours on Saturday morning working through a long workout that included all kinds of movements. (Check out my Instagram feed for the workout details) I'll just share our one fun photo of the session during our 10 sets on the GHD. You wanna work your abs? This will do it! Holy moly...still feel them this morning! I actually got closer to puking during these 10 sets than in any other workout in the last 7 months. We had a great time together! One thing that keeps getting confirmed to us: we are very happy we joined CrossFit 881. It's awesome to smile and have fun while working out, working hard, and to encourage each other along the way...and to get the same positive feedback, encouragement, and required prodding from our coach when necessary. Thankful!

- I wish you all a fantastic week and if you live in NE Ohio, a hearty "good luck" in getting your lawn mowed. Ours is very high and very wet. We need some heat and dryness...and a swift breeze to help us out!

In keeping with Disney/Pixar and thoughts on beliefs today, I thought this week's quote was fitting:

"When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable."
  ~Walt Disney