Monday, May 16, 2016

M-Cubed for 5.16.2016

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

- Yesterday, a Sunday in the middle of May, would normally yield a day of sunshine, a walk in the park, maybe a melting S'mores out back as the weekend came to a close. Not in NE Ohio...we had hail, rain, snow, high winds, sunshine, and a frost warning. If ever there was a day to curl up, hibernate, and come back to life when it was all over, this was it! For those who ran in the Cleveland Marathon yesterday, it was miserable! Forecast is looking good, though, moving forward.

- Just a few weeks ago, SO1 Charles Keating was killed in Iraq. He was a Navy SEAL. "SO1" means he was a Special Operator (SEAL), 1st Class Petty Officer. It's interesting to lose a servicemember in combat in a country where we have no one on the ground doing combat, isn't it??? Food for thought. Petty Officer Keating was laid to rest late last week and ceremonies were held both in NYC and at the home of SEAL training in Coronado. He was also post-humously promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Here are a few photos, officially released by the Navy. May his family be protected and his death be avenged. 
Memorial Mass Held at St. Patrick's Cathedral

The Navy Recruiting District New York color guard parades the colors to begin a memorial mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City honoring Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Charles Keating IV, of San Diego, May 12. Keating was killed in action in northern Iraq May 3. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup/released)

SAN DIEGO (May 13, 2016) San Diego residents await the arrival of the funeral procession for Chief Special Warfare Operator Charles Keating IV. The procession made its way from Coronado, Calif. to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Richard A. Miller/Released)
- While Saturday was cold, windy and rainy, I still spent the morning out at Sand Run Metro Park in Akron with the Cleveland Area Rucking Crew. We had a scheduled "Navigation Ruck" planned as well as a picnic. Where most gatherings involve wearing our weighted rucks for miles, carrying logs and a variety of other things and lots of PT, this day was more about education and learning how to read a map and navigate via compass. It was a good time, we still got to play in the woods and get dirty a bit, we rucked a few miles near the end and then enjoyed some grilled goodness and fellowship before heading out with the rest of our weekend. Great time!
We were each given some map coordinates then had to find the spot on the map.

I can't believe I lived for 43 years and never learned how to properly use a compass.

That's us out there, counting paces and doing our best to stay on our heading until the next waypoint. Some water, some prickly bushes, and nothing but a good time.
- It was a pretty great week in the home "box" sweating out some CrossFit. If you didn't read my most recent CrossFit update at the 18 month point, you can read it here. Many thanks to those who stopped by to read it. It ended up gathering the most traffic of any post in the last year! Back mid-week, I woke up and decided it was time for a Hero WOD. There was one I had been looking at and waiting for the right day for it. I woke up Wednesday morning wanting to do (and overdue for them) squats so it was time for "Manion." Manion is in honor of 1Lt Travis Manion who was killed by sniper fire in Iraq. I found the right music, read his story and headed out to do it. Manion is a 7 round couplet of 400m runs and 29 back squats at 135 pounds. While 135lbs is not heavy for a back squat, 203 of them is. My plan was to break them up into 10-10-9 each round with minimal rest which really worked out well. Still, it took me 34:59 to complete it. I loved it, Old Glory stared me down the whole time and anytime I thought "this sucks so bad," I thought of him and his family...and the sacrifice paid. The rest of the week was pretty good with some solid workouts with my wife. As for those squats? I felt them for 3 days! Nothing but good soreness, pain at all. Coming up this week, I'm going to start the week with a beat down called "Filthy Fifty" (check out my Instagram feed for the aftermath later today) and this Saturday is "The Hammy" workout at Dix Stadium in Kent. I'm teaming up with a friend for my first go at this event, an event in honor of Adam Hamilton who died in Afghanistan in May 2011. Below is a photo from Travis Manion's funeral in 2007. He was a Marine officer.

- Did you hear that Prince didn't have a will?!?! Seriously, if you don't have one, get one. We all should have one, especially those with kids! Don't leave it up to your family (or the courts) to figure it all out when you're gone.

- I'm not crafty at all with my hands, I lack the "handyman" skills that many have, but somehow my kids got some of that talent. They're musicians and thanks to my wife's mother, they can make a quilt all by themselves! Just a few days back, my oldest finished one. Now I'm no watcher/fan of "Dr. Who" but if you are, you probably see the influence here. This quilt fits perfectly on her twin bed and she's going to enter it into the competition at the county fair this August. Proud!

- I have a little chuckle for an outgoing quote today for you...but first: It is easy to come up against opposition, get taken advantage of, fall into the trap of being naive once again and just want to call it quits, throw in the towel, and boom...disappear. But what kind of life is that? What kind of legacy will be left? Is that how you/we/I want to live? So instead of sitting on our butts, we need to get moving and whether or not we accept the past (or present), it is what it is. We need to blaze a trail and get moving. Write your own story, know who YOU are, listen to your gut (big weakness of mine!), and GO! Have a great week, everyone!

"You can't make footprints on the sands of time by sitting on your butt...and who wants to make buttprints?"

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

CrossFit Update: 18 Months and Counting

Can you believe it's been since August 2, 2015 since I did an "official" update?! I have written on the topic and in particular, my experience with the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games Open, but not in general about the journey. In case you're just joining for the first time, here's a super fast recap: I'm now a 43 year old guy who ran marathons and ultra marathons for over 17 years, totaling 61 finishes of a marathon or longer. (see them all here) More of those finishes are ultra marathons and include 3 100-mile finishes. (yes, all 100 miles at once!) In November 2014, friends of ours convinced us to give CrossFit a try and we did. "We" being my wife of over 23 years and I. Since then, running tapered WAY off and we've been through 2 CrossFit gyms and now are totally on our own...but that's jumping the gun on the update. As of August 2015, we were still cruising along at our second CrossFit home...

200+ miles per month (left) vs.
Little running + lots of CrossFit (right)
Our first gym wasn't necessarily a bad place, but we were certainly there during a transitional time and never really fit in, no matter how hard we tried. The "community" aspect of CrossFit that we've watched on countless YouTube videos put out by CrossFit HQ told us that the tight community part of CrossFit was out there...we just weren't finding it. For others, though, that place worked great for them and still does today. The #1 downside to leaving in May 2015 was leaving those friends who invited us in the first place. Throwing down with them every morning at 5:30am was awesome and a ton of fun. But, a change had to happen and that change became an easy one when another gym opened up only 2 miles away and actually closer to our home. We started there on June 1, 2015.

The second place was totally different. No classes, an oddity for a CrossFit affiliate, a small membership, top-end equipment and direct coaching, much similar to what you'd expect if you had a personal trainer. With such a small membership, this was possible but the small membership also forced a higher membership fee. We considered it worth it, though, and as the months progressed, we both sky-rocketed in strength and confidence. It was awesome to watch my wife totally come out of her shell. She gained a whole new confidence and muscles she had never seen before were emerging, her jeans were literally falling off and her "ability to generate intensity" (inside joke!) kept increasing. Her infectious smile really made working out even more fun and it rubbed off on fellow gym members. We had a great coach who knew what he was doing and he focused on the foundation first before building from there. Heck, I could hardly squat properly at all when I walked in there due to horrible flexibility so of course, that was the first issue to get addressed. I also lacked a lot of upper body strength. (just look at those photos above) So, I started doing a LOT of pullups, dips, hand stand push ups, push ups, and bench pressing for the first time in my life. Basically, I began building an upper body I never had before and the 1hr class at the first gym really didn't build that much, nor did I get coached like I did here. The improved flexibility and form over time along with greatly increased strength really started to yield results, not just in the mirror and how my clothes fit but how I could perform in workouts. The same was happening to my wife.

One dark cloud, though, continued to hang over my head through both gym experiences. I am super hard on myself and super critical of everything. I am my own worst judge ever. I also wear my emotions on my sleeve. This is often perceived from others to be a sour attitude and a dislike for even being in the gym. That couldn't be further from the truth but that's how I was perceived and there were many days I didn't know if I'd ever walk back in those doors. Sometimes, I took a few days off to cool down and get my head screwed on straight. Unfortunately, my dismay and personal struggle just hurt my wife and her almost-always-happy demeanor. I couldn't fathom leaving the gym and leaving her behind. We've always done this together and no person or place was going to rip us apart. I resolved many times to just suck it up and keep showing up. I loved working out hard, often for 2 hours plus, and the friendships I had made with others at the gym. In March 2016, the CrossFit Games Open arrived and my coach encouraged me to register, a suggestion that still baffles me today. (read my whole 5 week recap here) It was a fun 5 weeks and unlike 2015, my wife did the workouts, too, and surprised the heck out of herself week after week! It was awesome to watch. After the last workout on the last Saturday in March, we had a cookout to celebrate the Open and that's when we found the gym was a week. Jaws hit the floor along with a few tears and after enjoying some awesome food from the grill, we headed on home, not sure what the future would hold.

March 31, 2016
Our heads spun with the "what to do?" question and where to go. The first gym really wasn't an option as it just didn't work out the first time and we had no reason to believe things would be different the second time around. Other than that, no other gym was close enough to home. Unlike cities and towns where there are multiple options within a few miles of each other, we live in the country and simply don't have that convenience. Within a few days, we resolved to bring it all home. We would make a trip to Columbus, OH and the home of Rogue Fitness and drop a "few" bucks and build our own garage gym. Because of the excellent coaching we received over the previous 10 months, we could do it safely. We also had the knowledge of knowing what we needed. As for the daily workouts and "programming," I had all of the workouts for the previous year plus there are many resources and other gyms online that post their daily workouts. IT COULD BE DONE. So, we began researching every last component we needed and planned that trip for the next weekend. In the interim, though, we wanted to finish and finish strong at the gym. We kept on going that whole next week and on March 31st, we said goodbye. On April 1st, we began for the 3rd time at home.

Over that weekend, almost everything needed was acquired except for the bumper plates and the rower. The majority of our garage is filled from gear from Rogue but I did find those horse stall mats off of Craigslist so that saved some money. About a week later, the bumper plates showed up and we could finally get to work like we were used to.

So far, it's going really good but there have been bumps in the road. There is a major convenience to having it all right outside your door but the big word ACCOUNTABILITY is gone. Before, perhaps it was our coach or fellow gym members who were expecting us at the gym that ensured we showed up. There was also the routine of it. Each day of the week is different but we had a rhythm to it all and we did it...and it worked. Now, it's all on us to program the workouts and do them...alone. There's good and bad in everything! Now as we're about 7 weeks into this new routine of ours, we're getting traction under us. Morning vs. evening, together vs. alone, length of time to workout, what to do...all of those questions have been getting answered. We have found we certainly enjoy the time together. It doesn't work 100% of the time but we try. We have found that mornings are certainly better, even if that means sacrificing some sleep. I have also found a few really good sources of programming that I call upon every morning to keep us rolling along and keep it all "constantly varied" and still quite intense. We also focus on many of the foundational strength components that got us where we are today and continue to work on them. Heck, my ring dips are better than EVER right now!

One thing I really appreciate and value these days is the choice over what I do. I am a military man and I take seriously the sacrifices of others to keep us free. There are many Hero WODs within the CrossFit universe and most are attached to a fallen servicemember. They are typically not easy at all and require going to that "dark place" to get through them...vs. quitting. I like to read their short story of their family and when/where/how they died and think about them as I do the workout. I found a channel on iHeart Radio, too, that is heavily patriotic so I turn that on as well. Just this morning, for example, I was due for a heavy squatting day and give my upper body a rest so I did "Manion," named for 1st Lt Travis Manion who was killed by sniper fire on April 29, 2007. Check out my Instagram account for his photo, the details, and the workout. (IG account: RTRSBM)

We also had the privilege of inviting over those friends that invited us all the way back in November 2014 to throw down a few Saturdays ago. I came up with a team workout (Beauty vs. Brawn) since we have limited equipment and it was awesome. GREAT time, lots of work done, and great conversation and fellowship after. We definitely plan on future workouts with them and others, too. We continue, too, to exchange banter and encouragement daily via texts to help motivate each other and celebrate those victories as they come and new personal records. Great friends ARE hard to find but I think we found a few. ;)

A few days ago on "Flex Friday" and
Military Spouse Appreciation Day
Moving forward, we hope to add on a 3rd car garage and move the gym into that. If things go right, I'll hang a climbing rope in there and gymnastic rings to hopefully one day allow that first muscle-up to happen. Everything happens for a reason and I'm for sure thankful that I have the ability to not only build out a home gym but that I get to workout and do it with my bride. I told her yesterday that we need to keep in focus the "why" of why we do this. Are we trying to be compete in the future? Do we have something to prove to someone? The truth is that we'll never "compete" and no one really cares what we do in the gym...or what the scale says...or how our clothes get the idea. We simply want to live life to it's fullest, enjoy each other, be healthy, and work hard in every facet of our life. God made the human body to work. He gave it muscles, a brain, a strong heart and it can do more than we can even imagine. Why waste such a gift? We should strive to be the very best version of us and if that means we can do it with the very person we love more than life itself, it makes it all the sweeter.

(Follow me on Instagram for almost-daily posts of our workouts and more. @RTRSBM)

Monday, May 9, 2016


Happy Monday, all! One thing has been weighing heavy lately, and such is the subject of today. One small warning as there is quite a diverse group that stops by here. This post is certainly going down the path of personal faith and if you find yourself quickly offended if someone doesn't drink from the same fountain of beliefs as you do, maybe come back another day?! Or, just stick around and maybe just consider my thoughts with an open mind.

Eggs. They can be awesome, rotten, delish, a perfect post-workout food, be a component to a festive beverage whilst decorating the Christmas tree and colored for fun around Easter each year. Untouched from their origin, though, they are fragile as heck. If you don't handle with care, they are ruined with no amount of super glue on the planet that will repair them. It's a one-way path to the end.

We've all heard the saying "Don't put all your eggs in the same basket." As I travel into my 43rd year on the planet and my 24th year of marriage, I continue to learn from this in so many facets of life. I totally agree with this with the exception of one thing...but I'll address that later.

Finances: I used to work for Snoopy...(read: MetLife) and gave advice about investing, insurance, etc. and moved money around for clients quite a bit. I spoke about "diversity" and "spreading the wealth" often because if you put it all in one basket and that basket hits the will you. The stock market crash along with the housing market is proof of that. If you have $100,000 of retirement money, putting it all in one growth fund is probably not the best idea....but that's not official financial advice! Just a thought. Spread it around.

Kids: We love 'em! Yesterday, we became a 100% teenager home. My youngest turned 13 and she joined her sister in the teenager ranks. I will never forget sitting in a home Bible study many years ago in Colorado Springs and a couple said this: "We are focusing 100% on our kids now. We'll focus on each other once they're gone."  That has got to be the worst game plan ever. Guess probably won't even know each other once they're gone. Don't put your all into your kids. They deserve a good portion but they aren't the all in all. Even if you're a single mom or dad, 100% to them and 0% for you or anything else will crush you. Save a few eggs...

Friends: If social media has proven anything, it's proven that friends can become UNfriends quicker than ever. The REAL awesome friends...the friends who will never leave your side no matter what are diamonds in the rough...and sadly, aren't known until the real poo hits the fan. Some "friends" are a matter of convenience and not authentic and others really are just acquaintances...not friends. If you are one of those awesome, rare friends and/or have one...hold on tight! But, remember the a few.

Fitness: Whether it's running, being a gym rat, yoga, DVDs, CrossFit, adventure races, swimming, biking, hiking, etc. etc. etc., .... diversify! For example, things may grow stale, you might get injured, the seasons change, your family grows, your time allowances fluctuate in such ways that crush your current schedule and the possibilities never end. Personally, I have not lived this rule very well. I HAVE put all my eggs in the same basket more than once. For some 17 years, I did NOTHING but run and when injury presented itself, it shut me down with nowhere to turn. I had nothing else. More recently when my recent CrossFit gym closed its doors, I learned the lesson yet again. I put so much time and weight in that ONE place that when it got ripped away, I was faced with a decision and I had to move fast. I could either quit (because there was no Plan B) or build a place at my home to continue. I chose the latter and continue to try and find the balance there. My eggs were stacked disproportionately and luckily, some got injured but not broken altogether. The scars will remain and serve as a reminder but now...I'm back on track. So as I step towards each day, it's not just CrossFit in my garage, but it's dabbling in other things like rucking and the new friends I have there. The one chief difference is that all the weight is now on me. No accountability, no coach waiting, and no one who really cares what I do or don't do. It's me vs. me. Every egg...under my care and fully my responsibility. Having a few baskets to share and disperse the weight helps.

Career: Here today, gone tomorrow. You've heard the stories of companies selling out to an offer they couldn't refuse or taking their business overseas. To never be looking down the road in case "what if" happens is foolish. We always have to have a "Plan B" in the back of our thoughts because if "it" happens, it's up to us to make it. It's not other's responsibility to bail us out or the government to step in to bail us out. It's us vs. us. It's hard not to stack the eggs in your career but always be looking to see where else you can hatch a few.

Marriage/Relationships: Are you thinking this is the one that I think should take all the eggs? Put all your eggs into one marriage basket? All or nothing, right?! Maybe you don't believe in marriage at all and you choose to simply cohabitate forever. Same concept. Do you think it wise to still put every last egg into that basket? We are human creatures, born into the world with many failures. We make mistakes. We fail others. We disappoint. We make bad decisions. Heck, this world has cancer, tragic accidents, etc. that we can't control and the life we know today can be wrecked in a minute. Still, if we think about our vows we take at the altar to each other and before God, shouldn't we put ALL eggs in this basket? Shouldn't it be #1? many eggs for one basket to hold. I submit that even marriage is an imperfect union made up of imperfect people that MUST give their entire being to the other to truly achieve oneness and live, as they say, in holy matrimony till death to they part. But, what if the basket breaks? Can we not have absolutes in life?! We cannot.

Faith: Some 5 years ago, I deployed to a war zone and through it all, hit some pretty rough patches. If there was ever a bottom in my life, I found it. Would I re-live it by choice? Heck no. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. However, I wouldn't be the man I am today without it. There was a day in November 2011 that is painted in my head. There I was free-falling down and ready to call it quits. But, the One who I called Savior...Father...Christ...caught me. It's one of those times where those who don't believe as I do roll their eyes and move on by it and don't buy it. However, it's the truth. My faith goes all the way back to when I was 5 years old and I made that profession of faith...I invited Him in. I was a good kid and a good husband up to that point in 2011. I spent a life going to church, was a man of my word, integrity was gigantic to me but God...well, He was always there and we spoke often but I never really truly put ALL my eggs in His basket. I always kept a few out...ya know, because I could handle it myself. I can be an 80-85% Christian, right? How about 99%? Hmmm. It doesn't work that way.

What I have found is that my faith in Christ simply never fails. He may not always give me the answer I want but He never leaves, He always answers, and no matter how many baskets fail and eggs break, He never does. He is the only fool-proof solution to life, the only answer to all the questions, the only shelter from life's storms, and the only One that is 100%. I am sure not all who have gotten to this point in my post agree or "buy in" to this and to those I ask you this: Who or what is your 100% solution if every basket gives out today and every egg goes crashing to the floor? Every mortal walking this planet is a failed creature and every person/being/idol worshipped is dead, save One.

So diversify, friends! Diversify, hatch a few new eggs, plan for the unexpected, and live fully today for today (or tomorrow) is not guaranteed.

Monday, April 11, 2016

M-Cubed for 4.11.2016

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

- Double digits in April and halfway to May! Here in Ohio, we have had a cold winter blast over the past week but the extended forecast is looking pretty good. Still, that 3-4" of snow on my car over the weekend was downright offensive! Our community is lined with gorgeous pear trees that bloom white in the Spring. I'm fearful that the cold snap and 21 degrees yesterday morning may have ruined a lot of beauty for this season.

- If you didn't read my CrossFit Games Open recap and you'd like to dig through my musings that cover 5 weeks in March, click here. It was a great time and was a great indicator of progress over the past year.

- Along the same subject of CrossFit, April 1st brought some many changes for my wife and I. Since November 4, 2014, we have been members at two CrossFit gyms but on the 1st of this month, we took it all home and now have a garage gym. It all came together, starting on April 2nd as we took a road trip 2 1/2 hours south to the headquarters of Rogue Fitness that is known worldwide as the manufacturer and supplier of everything necessary to take on such a project. One full SUV later and lunch at the Columbus Brewing Company, we headed back home and began the work. Today, the last component arrives. The bumper plates finally arrive from Texas and we can finally do all that we want. From plyo boxes to a rower to a full rig that lets us do everything from pull-ups to dips to back squats, front squats, and bench pressing...we're done. While I'm no coach, I feel I have enough knowledge now to do it safely and still move forward. Plus, there is a plethora of online resources to continually glean from. Still, we will miss our friends that we've gained and will certainly be inviting them over to throw down. For now, it's going to be us motivating each other through each day and workout. If you want to follow the progress and occasional posts about the workout, follow me on Instagram...handle is "RTRSBM".

- I don't mean to keep tooting my own horn, but ICYMI (in case you missed it), I penned another entry dubbed "Faith, Fitness and Family" back on March 23rd. It might strike a chord with you.

- Hard to believe it's been 5 years. 5 years yesterday, I boarded a plane and hugged my family goodbye, en route to Afghanistan. Most of you know that I blogged every day of that deployment in a raw online "journal." I later published that into a book (only a few of them). In memory of yesterday, Day 1, I wanted to have a throwback of sorts and re-publish those musings here. (tissue warning!)

Day 1

Leaving Kansas was knowingly going to be the toughest day in a long time. My family had surprised me at Outback Steakhouse the night before so I was well fed, well loved, and ready to go this morning. Sitting bedside with Tin Man and Scarecrow last night was tough. We had been counting down the days as we prayed together each evening and as we sat bedside, hand in hand with the both of them, I paused...for probably an eternal minute or so, trying not to cry. "This is it. After this, we'll talk and Skype/FaceTime." We did shed some tears and Tin Man squeezed my arm so tight. We prayed probably the longest prayer ever together. We prayed for Dorothy, them, me, and all the other servicemen and women away from their families. A kiss, a hug...goodnight. 

This morning came quickly and I brewed my last pot of Italian espresso until my return. That, a bowl of Kashi cereal, and I even unloaded the dishwasher, took the trash out, and washed a small batch of dirty dishes. The clock ticked by quickly and before I knew it, I released the house felines and they woke up the kids. Mental re-check of the packed bag and we headed to the airport, set to leave Kansas for Oz. 

Arriving at the airport, my whole family was there again, just like at Outback along with Dorothy's parents and a few close friends. Even a few "monkeys" (think "Oz") made a few colored signs for my travel to Oz. As time drew close, we all gathered in a circle and my brother prayed for me and my family and I made my way around, hugging everyone. I must say, I was doing pretty good but that was strategic. I knew when my manly armor would be broken. Tin Man and Scarecrow possessed that ability so I saved them for last. As I knelt down in front of Scarecrow, her eyes were welling with tears and they streamed down her face. "Daddy..." I grabbed her and that was it, we were sharing tears. "I need you to do two things for me. Can you do that?" I asked her. "One: can you pray for me? Second, can you be a big helper to your mom?" A confirmed "yes" to both requests and some reassuring words that we'll talk often and even see each other over the internet. I don't know how long I knelt there but after one last hug, I let her go....and turned around and grabbed the Tin Man and picked her up. She had talked about how tough she was going to be on the way to the airport. Her leather-bound toughness that her dad "had" had crumbled, too, and she cried on my shoulder. We had the same conversation as I had with Scarecrow but with a third request: "Be a leader for Scarecrow. You're the older one, you're the leader and she looks up to you. Can you do that?" "Yes, Dad." "And remember...we're a team. We'll all be OK." More hugs, more tears, and I let her go... Dorothy, she was next and last. I have to say, she was staying strong. I saw her eyes getting red but she was fighting the good fight. A few goodbye kisses, some hugs, and we said goodbye. "We'll be fine," she said. Through security and to the gate with one last wave across the security access point's head and that was it. It would take another 15 minutes or so for those tears to dry up. 

I won't bore you with flight info for this day on the Yellow Brick Road, except to say that I sat next to very nice lady on the first flight. Her name was Jennifer and she works at a church near my home. She asked where I was going and after telling her "Oz," we talked about that and a whole bunch of things for the rest of the flight. Oz culture, customs and our mission over there and a lot of really good talk about prejudices that exist in this world, our country, and how it all compares to Oz culture and the radical side of it. (yes, that was a bit of a run-on sentence but I couldn't figure out how to make it right! I wasn't an English major, ya know!) After a 5 hour layover at my first stop, I ended up at the first stop on journey to Oz where I'll remain for about a week. 

Here at this stop on the Yellow Brick Road, I will be checked to make sure my medical record is squared away and get the beloved small pox vaccine. They will basically prick me 15 times with a prong-like needle. From what I hear, it's the most non-enjoyable shot of them all and hurts bad. I will also sit through a bunch of briefs that cover pay/entitlements, family matters, and other misc. items. I will also be fit for and issued the uniform that I'll wear in Oz. Since there are no Navy bases in Oz, this sailor nor any sailor wears a sailor's uniform over there. We wear the uniform of the service who operates the base. So that's what I'll be issued. After all the boxes are checked and my uniforms are issued, I'll continue along the Road. 

So as this day winds down and alone time sets in, I can verify with you that Day 1 is one of, if not the very hardest days of the deployment. I can easily crawl inside my head and get very upset or distract myself by finding something to watch on TV. The base where I'm at even offers a theater with current movies...for free. Perhaps later this week I will do that...Black Swan, Kings Speech...we'll see. I did get to FaceTime with my family tonight and I saw smiles in place of tears which was nice. I ran across this quote today: "Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfect; it means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections and enjoy every day." What a great quote for a day where we could all hang our head in doom-n-gloom. Instead, we can decide to be happy.

- Want to read more? Here is Day 2. Be warned, though. There are 208 of them! 

- We had a family movie afternoon yesterday as it remained cold and blustery outside. Have you seen "In the Heart of the Sea?" It's the story of Moby Dick. If you're a fan of Thor and the Marvel movie series, you'll be pleased to know the same actor who plays Thor is the lead actor here. It was a great movie and one we all enjoyed. So do you think the great white whale was real?!

- Ever heard of General Mattis? He is a former commander of Central Command, the military arm that leads our fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, there is a real movement to propel him into the debauchery known as our presidential election this year. Here is a quick read to bring you up to speed on who he is and the movement afoot to make this a reality. No've got my vote, General.

- There was a time not too long ago where I ran my age on my birthday. I turn 43 inside of a week and only a few short years ago, I was still running my age that day. It was a tour, of sorts, around my county where I smelled blooming trees, ran along the Cuyahoga River, and stopped to see a few friends along the way. Oh, how times have changed! To think of running 43 miles right now is downright painful. I could do it...I could. But, the desire has left me. Instead, my bride and I plan to escape away and just enjoy each other's company for 24+ hours uninterrupted. Walking, laughing, sleeping in, and just "being." Here's to year 44 about to kick off!

- A short while ago, my "little" rescue dog decided to snuggle in for a nap. Mind you, she is about 45 pounds, extremely athletic and strong, and some are afraid of her (for no reason!). Still, she has a soft heart and loves to curl up for a nap like the rest of her family. This is me laying on the couch and the photo is taken directly above us looking down. She just kept digging and digging into my chest! LOL!

- Before I leave you today, I just want to mention a workout I did yesterday, totally unexpected and unplanned which requires no gym equipment of any kind. Just you and a determination to hang in there and stick it out. It's a Hero WOD (workout of the day) named "Maupin." It is named for SSG Matt Maupin who was captured on Good Friday, April 9th, in 2004 and later executed. His friends and fellow soldier came up with this workout and submitted it to CrossFit HQ who picked it up and officially pushed out this workout yesterday. As soon as I watched his story as told by his fellow soldier, I had to do it. Whether you do it or not, I highly recommend taking a few moments to watch the video. If you feel inspired to honor Matt afterwards, here is the workout:

  • 4 Rounds for Time
  • 800m run
  • 49 pushups
  • 49 situps
  • 49 air squats

I finished in 42min, 10sec. Rest in peace, brother.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Recap: 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games Open

In March 2015, I registered for my first "Open" only 4 months after starting CrossFit. I was super weak, lacked flexibility in just about every direction, but loved the worldwide nature of the event and since one of the main purposes of the Open is to see where you've progressed year to year, I considered it a good baseline to launch from. The "Open" is the beginning of the CrossFit Games that ends in Carson, CA where the "Fittest on Earth" will be crowned for men and women. It all begins, though, in gyms and garages across the globe where anyone can compete and see where they rank in their state, region, country and worldwide. For the 99%+ of us, we do the Open for 5 weeks and then sit back and watch Regionals and the Games in CA.

Last year, I joined friends at All Heart CrossFit in Kent, OH and gave it my all. I looked back on my blog and didn't do a recap but honestly, there wasn't much to tell. I'll give you the highlights: I couldn't do a pull-up without a band, I couldn't do toes-to-bar, I couldn't do chest-to-bar, the most I could get over my head was 135 pounds, and my overall strength and flexibility was just awful. Things like overhead squats and squat cleans were just horrendous. I was a newbie in the finest sense of the word but giving it my all and having fun with it. This past February, my coach at my new CrossFit gym at CrossFit 881 encouraged participation. I wasn't going to, actually. I was only going to do the workouts and not pay the $20 to actually record scores and see how'd I'd fare the globe over. But he was right...I liked the spirit of competition and that simple logging of a score would be a motivator. It was going to be me vs. me and that was perfect. I gave up my 20 bucks and looked forward to week #1.

Each Thursday night at 8pm, CrossFit HQ streams the workout LIVE on YouTube. To the one not familiar with CrossFit or the Open, this may not seem like a big deal but I assure you...there is all kinds of hoopla and anticipation that surround it. Admittedly in our family, we gathered around either the TV or our iPhones each Thursday night to listen to Dave Castro, director of the CrossFit Games give the announcement and watch two elite athletes do it. The Open has a repuation for pushing people outside of their comfort zones and often, it introduces something not so common for many athletes. This year was no different and on Thursday night, Feb. 25th, Dave Castro announced "16.1." 16.1 was a 20min AMRAP (as many rounds and reps as possible) of:

  • 25ft overhead walking lunge with 95lb barbell
  • 8 bar-facing burpees
  • 25ft overhead walking lunge with 95lb barbell
  • 8 chest-to-bar pull-ups

95lb Overhead Walking Lunges
Overhead walking lunges aren't too uncommon but doing them with a barbell plus two 25lb plates on them is. For the athlete who lacks flexibility, it's even worse. BUT, unlike a year ago, I can do chest-to-bar pull-ups so I was totally down with doing this. Saturday came and our gym did it together. It went pretty well and I ended up with 109 reps. Unfortunately, I had to drop the barbell twice during those 25ft stretches which definitely cost me reps. Over the next day or so, I considered doing it again, knowing that if I could do the walking lunges unbroken, I'd be able to improve. On Monday, I did exactly that and with 3 minutes to go, I hit 109 reps! I didn't break any of the lunges up and I took less rest breaks between chest-to-bar pull-ups. I ended up with 125 reps and couldn't be happier!

Rx vs. Scaled: In CrossFit programming/workouts, "Rx" means doing a workout "as prescribed" with the exact movement and weight. Very often, I can't do that. One goal of doing the Open in 2016 was to log a Rx score all 5 weeks. A few things could de-rail me. For one, if muscle-ups showed up, I would be done...can't do them. Also, if hand-stand push-ups made an appearance as they always do, I'd be done. So for 16.1, so far so good! I did the prescribed weight and unlike in 2015, I could do chest-to-bar pull-ups. Boom!

Getting some singles in during the Scaled 16.2
As I mentioned previously, each Thursday night at 8pm was an "event" in our house. We gathered around our smartphones and TV and typically within seconds of the Open announcement, texts would begin flying amongst fellow CrossFitters about the workout, how dreadful it was, our predictions, etc. For 16.2, I am quite sure my face sunk into a frown as former Navy SEAL, Dave Castro gave the annoucement. 16.2 is a bit confusing to explain. Let me try: The 3 movements were: 25 toes-to-bar, 50 double-unders, and 15 squat cleans at 135lbs., but within 4 minutes. If an athlete could finish that in under 4min, they got another 4min block to do the same but increase the weight of the clean and do 2 less reps (e.g. 13 reps). The faster you move, the more time got banked, if that makes sense. It had a 20min total time limit. So for me, it just hit me with two of my major weaknesses, those being toes-to-bar and double-unders. I can do toes-to-bar and honestly, they were the best ever during this workout. I just can't string a bunch of them together. I can also do double-unders but only a few at a time. I can't do 50 unbroken like some folks...or even 5. So one thing I knew here: I wouldn't even get to the bar and my workout would be done in 4min. Just as expected, it was and I logged a score of 46: 25 toes-to-bar and 21 double-unders. One thing I like to do is work, a few minutes after finishing, I got right into the scaled version of this workout "just because." Instead of T2B, it was knee raises and instead of DUBs, it was singles, and the weight for the first round of power cleans was 95lbs. I did it and crushed it. Still, I got myself a Rx score for the week, albeit tiny, but I did. Hopefully in 2017, I will have those T2B on point and can somehow break through on double-unders. It's all about working on the weaknesses and getting stronger every day!

Trying for my first BMU!
16.3 was...well, a week to work on something totally brand new. Typically, the workout is a burner with very high intensity or it goes heavy. 16.2 went heavy with those squat cleans but 16.3 was lightweight with a movement I cannot do. It was a short 7min AMRAP of:

  • 10 Power Snatches at 75lbs
  • 3 Bar Muscle-Ups

The power snatches were no challenge at all. I've been working on this movement a lot lately and this was the easiest variant of it. Luckily, it was the first of two movements for this workout which allowed me to log a Rx score, keeping my Rx streak alive. So within about 35 seconds, I finished the snatches and then I spent the remaining 6 1/2 minutes trying so hard to get ONE bar muscle-up. The finish of this movement are arms extended and locked out with you above the bar. I got close...many times! However, it wasn't meant to be. I tried all throughout the next week to get one. Another thing to work on? You bet. I intend to keep focusing on weighted pull-ups and dips to get me stronger that "should" help getting my first BMU.

With light weight in 16.3, my prediction was something heavy for 16.4. My guess was a max effort on something like the clean and jerk or heavy deadlifts. I leaned towards deadlifts because we had a max clean and jerk in 2015. I was right...and this was my favorite workout of the 5 weeks. 16.4 was a 13min AMRAP of:

  • 55 deadlifts at 225lbs
  • 55 wall balls (20lbs)
  • 55 calories on the rower
  • 55 hand stand push-ups

Once again, Mr. Castro's choice of order benefited me. I can do HSPUs but not to the floor. Had they been the first movement, I would've been done before I started. As for those other movements, my deadlifts have been stronger than ever lately when I hit a new PR recently at 380lbs, I'm good at wall balls, and I'm one of the strongest rowers at my gym. My plan of attack for the deadlifts (which at 225 are decently heavy, especially given the high rep count) were a rep scheme of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 with a 5 second rest between. That went well until the rep of 6 and I went 3-3. After that, I just got them done as efficiently as possible. The first few wall balls were...well, you would've thought I was drunk! My legs were jacked up but I quickly got a hold of them and did well. As for the rower, while I am a strong rower, those wall balls left me gassed. I finished the row in 10:48, leaving 2:12 to do "something." That 10:48 was a recorded time to help with the rankings so it definitely mattered. Castro knew a lot of people would hit a brick wall after the row. So instead of staring at my fellow athletes for 2:12, I repped out a bunch of hand-release push-ups, the scaled movement for part 4 of 16.4. They didn't count for anything as the Rx portion of the workout ended with my row. I logged a score of 165 reps! It was an awesome workout and I felt those deadlifts for about 3 days!

So for the prior 4 weeks, I couldn't shake the hunch that Castro would bring back an old workout from 2014. We weren't yet doing CrossFit in March 2014 but it ended with a killer workout of thrusters and bar facing burpees. To date, no CrossFit Open has been void of thrusters so 16.5 would surely have them, or so we thought. BUT, 16.1 had bar facing burpees already so would he repeat? The big Thursday announcement was broadcast LIVE from The Ranch in California where the original Games took place. As he stood there staring into the camera with his trademark smirk on his face, he said: "16.5 is....14.5." And there we had it. No time cap, just plenty of suck. 16.5 was the only thing between me and doing the entire Open Rx. 16.5...or 14.5 is:
21 thrusters at 95lbs, 21 bar-facing burpees, then 18 and 18, and so on all the way down to 3. 21-18-15-12-9-6-3. In all, 84 crushing thrusters and 84 bar facing burpees. Those require you to do a burpee facing the bar then jump over the bar (both feet leaving the ground at the same time) and do the next burpee and so on. Thrusters are yet another weakness for me. Upper body strength is far better these days but flexibility is still a struggle. That many thrusters at 95lbs would certainly be very rough...but I did it. I'll never forget my wife's comment after the workout...and keep in mind she is a nurse:

"I thought you were having a cardiac event during the round of 6...but I knew you'd say something if you were in trouble." 

It did suck...for 23min, 41sec. But proud of myself for doing it and even more so? I was proud of my wife because she did it Rx as well. She almost didn't even walk into the gym that morning!

Overall, I'm thrilled with my performance in the 2016 Open. I am far stronger than a year ago and I'm already looking forward to what 2017 will hold. Here is where I ended up both in the Central East division and worldwide amongst Men, ages 40-44. Am I happy? Big time. I'm especially thrilled because heading into week 5, I was over 9,000 worldwide and in the 600s in the region. I essentially jumped 1500 athletes worldwide with my effort in 16.5! Plus, being in the top half is really enough for me. I'm very happy with it.

The icing on the cake for the 2016 Open is that my wife did it all, and half of it Rx. She wanted nothing to do with it in 2015 but her confidence and strength has sky-rocketed over the past 10 months. She has a passion and drive like never before and she crushed it. I couldn't be happier and more proud of her!

After 16.5, our small community at CrossFit 881 spent a few hours together, grilling some chicken and steak, enjoying some comfort food and even a few beverages. Great friends, quality coaching, and "embracing the suck" together. The 2016 Open is a wrap and now us 99%+ of CrossFit athletes will glue ourselves to LIVE YouTube streams as the Regionals kick off on May 13th all over the world and then the Games form July 19-24 in Carson, CA where the fittest man and woman will be crowned. Now get on your #beastmode and get to work!

CrossFit 881 Family post-16.5

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Faith, Fitness and Family

I'm inking this post from a comfy chair at my daughters' orthodontist. Child #2 gets her braces on today. Child #1 gets them off in a few months. So with the ending of one payment plan begins another but I'm thankful for that. Thankful for non-overlapping bills and a little bit of insurance to ease the burden of a costly service. So, while she gets the metal in her mouth, a few minutes here to catch up.

Only a few more weeks and another birthday rolls in. It'll be my 43rd year of completion on this earth and to me, it's just another day. Seriously, I'm good with a birthday kiss from my bride and perhaps one of my favorite craft brews at dinner and I'll be good. Many say that "age is just a number" but in my opinion,  it means a lot more to folks. It's used as an excuse, a point of complaint, often hidden and considered "private" but really, it just is. We all grow older by the moment and really, it's just a number. To let it define you, your limits, your "whatever" is to hold yourself back!

March 23rd...2016. It's amazing to me to think that 5 years ago, I was about to head on over to Afghanistan. Thanks to Facebook's "On This Day" feature, I get reminded of that daily, how I felt moving towards the day and forced to reflect on the "me" of 2011 vs. the me of now. Like I tell many, perhaps I'll write a book on that journey but suffice to say for now, it has been filled with the lowest of lows along with some incredible highs. Today, though, it has taught me to live in the NOW, capitalize on TODAY, love those around me NOW and never let a kiss go un-given, a hug not shared or the sun to go down on emblazoned debate. It has taught me to not count on tomorrow and to be the best version of all the knowledge and resources I have before me.

Faith: If you asked me when I became a Christian, I'd tell you something like: "Well, I was 5 years old, WKRP in Cincinnati was on the TV, and I was eating a bowl of buttered rice at the table in our modest home in Canfield, OH." That's really my recollection! I was raised in a Christian home, attended church my entire upbringing, was active in the youth groups of many churches, attended summer camps, and in all, I was a pretty good kid. To this day, I have never touched, let alone smoked (or whatever) an illegal drug. I kept clean, got good grades, and had parents that provided a safe and stable home to grow up in. Faith, though, or my religion never really matured. I definitely had the mouth of a sailor in the 90s and I led my home/marriage the best I could. We were active in using our talents for music and we were always engaged in groups within the church. It wasn't until late in 2011 (just after my return from the desert 10,000 miles away) where my faith was put to the test. It was a fork in the road of sorts and I could either say "I'm done with you, God." or fully devote myself to Him, let Him take the lead, and in turn, lead my wife and family. I chose the latter and I'm living testament to an awesome God who just never fails me. I really despise the term "religion" and the societal rules it has forced into our country and world. Instead, I am a Christian with a heavenly Father who is my all in interceder, my leader, the one I talk to first when I wake up, and my protector. When the crap hits the fan, I know "He's got me" and won't let me go. There is great peace to quite literally KNOW Him and cast all the worries of this life on Him and let Him lead instead of me. There really isn't anything comparable in this world.

Pre-November 2014
Fitness: Back in 1997, I ran my first marathon and for the next 17 years, that's all I did. It began with marathons but then upon our move to Ohio in 2002, the taste for trail-running was sparked and ultra running followed soon thereafter...and eventually a few 100-mile races in 2009. It wasn't that I grew tired of running or hated it, but I was tired of hurting...and aching. I was also tired of never looking different in the mirror. I thought "How could I run 200+ miles per month yet never lose a pound, an ounce of fat, or even look anything but sedentary?" I wanted a change so I accepted the invitation from friends of ours to try CrossFit. That was November 4, 2014. In the beginning, I still ran but cut the mileage way back because too much mileage made me too sore to really give it all in the gym. Fast forward to today and I might run 10-20 miles a month now...max. I find it hard to still call myself a runner but my body still remembers it and when I do head out, it's all groovy! I love it. But, the fire that burned bright before that pushed me out into the dark at 4:30am most days is all but snuffed out.

Today, I truly feel like I am in the best shape of my life. I could never do a dip, a pull-up, climb a rope or lift much of anything heavy. I can do that and a lot more AND I can often hold my own with those half my age. The long-distance running part of me (aka: endurance) helps me often for those long, grueling workouts where others just want to die and give up. The "engine" is my ace in the overall strength is ironically my weakness and kryptonite. But since 2014? It is far better and greater as indicated in the current CrossFit Games Open competition that I am a part of. The photo here is from last Saturday and was captured part of the way through 55 dead lifts at 225 pounds. I could lift that a year ago but there is no way I could've done it 55 times. My daily grind is overall positive but I still fight myself and my shortcomings. I have always been and always will be very, very hard on myself and unfortunately, those around me just don't get it. They perceive a bad attitude, a desire to not be there, a "whatever." The truth is, I love pushing myself hard and seeing/feeling change. It's not one of vanity to show off, but feeling good in my own skin and accomplished. I still look like a goof in so much I do but my heart is fully in it. I'm not sure where the future is headed here. I know I love it and I won't stop doing it. The rest is a blank slate.

Before I close the book on fitness, I would be remiss if I didn't share a little something with you. You probably know I recently got into rucking and GORUCK via the local Cleveland Area Rucking Crew and had signed up for my inaugural event over July 4th weekend on July 1st in Cleveland. Well, I dove a little more head first into that world by signing up for a triplet of sorts dubbed the HTL. In June, I will head to Detroit, MI for a 3-event series that begins with the GORUCK Heavy, followed by the GORUCK Tough and then finally the GORUCK Light. If you really want to know the "suck" factor here, just click on the hyperlinks you just read over in the preceding sentence. In a nutshell, the Heavy will be 24+ hours and cover 40+ miles. A special forces guy will lead it (aka: cadre) along with Old Glory and it'll be all about team and not quitting. Of course, I will always be carrying my 30 pound ruck on my back. A few hours after finishing, I'll do the Tough event  which will be 10-12 hours and cover 15-20 miles. After that, it's onto the Light that will be 4-5 hours and cover 7-10 miles. No sleep. No quitting. 3 patches.

Family: While faith has to come first, family is as tight a second place as it can be. My focus to keep my marriage alive, fresh, fun, selfless and loving is laser-focused. Who says 23+ years has to be boring, dull and meh?! I think my bride would agree that through our journey, we are closer than ever and stronger than ever. While we have had our bumps, bruises and near total collapses, we have made it to this point. I read something this morning about the enemy (aka: devil, Satan, evil)...if you hear him talking, he's lying! It's so true! He is a king, for sure...the king of lies and deception. The sooner you realize that and who is talking, the sooner you can be set free from it and call it for what it is every time he comes around.

Being a father also is a challenge to say the least! I swear they are a sponge for everything! Our youngest said something last night and while it wasn't a cuss word and I have certainly said it, it should not come out of her mouth! LOL! I kindly told her "You really can't say that." (insert chuckle) But, I will continue to do my best by them and hopefully, we'll stay close for a lifetime and they'll always know that I love them no matter what and through anything life deals them.

In closing, I'll just say that things are good. Change is constant. There are many knowns and unknowns in the near and distant future but as long as I keep priorities in check, be passionate about all that I do, and never compromise who I am, it'll all work out as it should. I just gotta remember to smile thing that doesn't come natural for me! "I promise...I'm not angry!!"

Go be epic, friends!

Monday, March 14, 2016

M-Cubed for 3.14.2016

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

- Week #3 of the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games Open is here. On Thursday night, Games director Dave Castro dropped another bomb on me. Last week, it was toes-to-bar and double-unders...two distinct weaknesses of mine and this week? The bar muscle-up. It's coupled with lightweight power-snatches which are easy. The bar muscle-up, though, is something that I can't do. This past Friday and Saturday, I did work on them quite a bit but so far...a no-go. I'll give it another try tomorrow but don't expect for it to click. Luckily, the snatches come first so I can still log a score but it'll be dismal. That's ok, though...the Open is known for pointing out the weaknesses of everyone and/or highlighting the strengths. It's just another thing to work on!

- Any wooden spoon survivors out there? Hehehehe... I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw this yesterday. Yes...I am one! :) (get the t-shirt here)

- I was browsing through Netflix yesterday on a constant-rain Sunday and stumbled upon "Before We Go" independent film made in 2014 by Chris Evans...the actor and now director who plays Captain America in the Marvel films. Pretty great flick that we all watched. It's actually rated "NR" and I only counted one f-bomb in the whole movie...that's it. I'd call it a romantic film and great to watch with your significant other. Check out the trailer here.

- In my office, we have had a small dog as our office dog for about 6 years. Her name was Abby and she was a tiny little thing. She came to work everyday with my co-worker who has been working there for 34 years. Abby was 14 which was 4 years longer than her anticipated lifespan. On Thursday, Abby took a turn for the worse and passed away. She'll be sorely missed! Here are a few photos of us over the past few years.

- Here in Ohio, we have election day and the primary for the upcoming presidential election. Ugh! Like I posted last night on Facebook, it's sad that our country can't produce a single respectable candidate for the Oval Office...of any party! While I will vote as I always do, there really isn't a person on any ticket I really want in the Office. It's frustrating as heck when imagining any candidate with a real chance actually being sworn in as the POTUS. America...we have to do better!!!

- This past Saturday was planned to be a rest day but the invisible pull of the CrossFit gym won me over. After spending about an hour doing all kinds of pull-ups, even to include doing singles with a 45lb kettlebell strapped around my waist, I moved on to back squats. It's something I use to warm up with a lot but haven't gone heavy in them for awhile. My personal record for the back squat went all the way back to April 2015 at my previous gym at 240lbs. I really wanted it gone as my last lingering PR from that gym. As I moved up in weight, it felt pretty good so I went for it and got two sets in at 255 pounds! While that's not HEAVY by many people's standards, it's heavy for me. I haven't even challenged 240 again since July last year and all I could get then was 220. Pretty happy! I'm also happy with my form, back position, chest up, below parallel, etc. It all went awesome! I also love it when I feel 100% the day after with no soreness of any kind...especially when I just lifted the most ever. It's easy to hurt yourself if you don't know what you're doing so the day-after feeling is great confirmation of a successful lift..and safely at that!

- There is a pretty cool company/husband and wife team down in Texas that opened up a company called Peacemaker Trading Company. He's ex-Special Forces and she works IT. Their names are Bert and Candace. They formed the company because as he says "we firmly believe that there isn't much better in this world than a favorite t-shirt." When they release a shirt, it sells out in hours, then he produces it, and finally ships it, each with a note. So to get one, I've learned to be subscribed to their email list and when I see an announcement, get on it immediately if I want it. I finally got my first shirt dubbed "The Paw" on Friday. This is the back of it and I tried to show the sleeves, too. There is also a front that you can see on their website at The one I REALLY want is their deadlift shirt. I literally bugged the heck out of Bert to get one but no dice. Hopefully, he'll make it again. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy wearing my super-soft "Paw" shirt. Check them out, read their story, and look at some of the past shirts they made. Pretty sweet!

- I like to end these posts with something positive to launch into the week. Below is a post by the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games Champion and current "Fittest on Earth". I'm a big fan of Ben Smith who always exhibits humility, doesn't hide his faith, and is crazy talented and strong. To win it all last year yet still come across as "normal" is admirable. Great words by the champ! Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, March 7, 2016

M-Cubed for 3.7.2016

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

- First M-Cubed since January 18th. I took a nap, ok?! Ok. On with the day...and SPRING!!! This forecast is nothing short of spectacular this week...

- "Rest in Peace" to our former First Lady, Mrs. Nancy Reagan. I have always been a fan of her and President Reagan...always a class act. She passed away yesterday at the age of 94 and was married to "Ronnie" for 52 years.

"You learn something out of everything, and you come to realize more than ever that we're all here for a certain space of time, and, and then it's going to be over, and you better make this count." ~ Nancy Reagan 

- CrossFit is going, well, fantastic these days. My wife and I are now a year and four months into this journey and now have been with our current gym longer than the original, a switch that is confirmed daily as the right move. If you recall, I participated in the CrossFit Games Open last year...a 5-week event that kicks off the big CrossFit Games season that ends this summer in Carson, CA where the "Fittest on Earth" will be crowned. For us mere mortals, though, it's a chance to see where we've come over the last year, face our weaknesses, and be one of over 323,000 athletes "competing" worldwide. Yes, that many registered this year from 177 countries and all 7 continents for the first time. Yes, Antarctica has Deep Freeze CrossFit! :) Below are screenshots from my Instagram posts quickly summing up Weeks 1 and 2 or workouts 16.1 and 16.2. 16.3 will be announced live on YouTube this Thursday night. Bottom Line: I have definitely gotten stronger and can do far more than I could a year ago! ... a little backstory on the first photo: I did it and got 109 reps as shown on Saturday, the 27th. I analyzed (shocker, eh?!) how I did it over the weekend then came back on Monday and re-did it and got myself 16 more reps for a score of 125. I switched up my grip on the bar and broke none of the 25ft stretches up (I had broke two up before) and rested less on the burpees and chest-to-bars. With 3 min to go, I reached the was awesome!

- Who to vote for, who to vote for.... Well, if the election were today, I'd be writing in a candidate. Who? I don't know...maybe myself?! Seriously, there isn't anyone with a chance at getting on the ballot that is going to get my vote. I've never actually written in my name on a ballot so this may be a first. Trump? Come on. Morals? Ability to lead our country's military? Bully. Yes, he definitely is that. On the other side, I think Hillary has the best bet at getting on the ticket...but wait, the FBI investigation of her continues to escalate by the day. Then there is Benghazi. ARGH! Is this the best our country has to offer? Trump or Hillary? Yep...writing in my name.  Enter name here: ____________________

- So yesterday, we stumbled upon this new little donut shop in Hartville, OH called Peace, Love and Little Donuts. Think small, warm, fresh donuts with toppings applied to order before your eyes. All kinds of things to satisfy the sweet tooth and if you were buying a lot, it would be expensive. However, I felt like my $1.35 was well spent for this circle of joy...this one called the Triple Chocolate Meltdown. I know, I know...awesome, isn't it?

- A little over a week ago, I had the pleasure of heading down to Columbus for yet another Change of Command and Retirement Ceremony for my commanding officer who now is enjoying retired life in North Carolina after 21 years of service as a Naval Aviator. I really enjoyed serving with him and being there for his retirement. Each one brings me a little closer to my own ceremony. I go back and forth about whether to have an actual ceremony and I always come back to doing it for my family, for closure of a major chapter, and to just seal it all up. But mostly, I'd want to do it to honor my family and thank them for supporting me.

- Can we just talk running for a minute? Unless this is visit #1 to my blog, you know that for years and years (17+, actually), I was a long distance runner and every year had a long list of races to complete from the short 5K to in 2009, three 100-milers. It's all I did outside of a job and family. That all changed in late 2014 and I've pinned on just a few bibs for races since then. For 2016, the only ones planned for are May's Medina Half Marathon and late April's Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon. For the marathon, it's been held two years now and I've run both with a goal of running it every year. Up until now, the military have been entered for free. That is ending this year as no sponsor could be found so now I'm faced with the decision of paying to enter (untrained, mind you) or abandoning the goal of doing every one for as long as possible. I'm leaning towards not running it. Why? No one cares about a streak but me...and if my passion and time isn't spent training for it...then why pay for it? I try to be as logical and sensical as possible and it just doesn't feel right to do it "just to do it." So I'm erasing it from my calendar. I hope I don't regret it as once I miss it, I can't get it back and be a legacy runner of the event. I'm still a runner...I really am. I just don't run...a lot. :)

- Before I leave you today, just a skip back to CrossFit for a moment. I was on a deadlifting PR (personal record) streak over the last month. The photo below is when I pulled 380 pounds back on February 24th. My coach has been programming in this deadlift workout that goes like this: 6-5-4-3-2-1. Those are the number of reps and you work up to a starting weight for 6 pulls then keep adding weight. It was a little tricky to get the math right but it's been a blast week after week doing it again and slightly besting myself over and over. 380lbs is where I'll sit for a bit as I need to strengthen my back more before I go heavier. Still, this photo blows me away because I had zero muscle tone when this journey began. While it's the not the reason to show up each day, it's a nice side-benefit to working hard.

So have a great week, everyone and as I posted a few days, ago, let this one soak in no matter what you find yourself doing this week...within your home, workplace, "gym," the open road...

The best you can do is enough. Just be sure it's the best.