Sunday, January 31, 2010

Manifestation

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."
~ Marianne Williamson

It's more common than not in the smack dab middle of winter to snuggle in and watch movies. Today was one of those snugglin' up kind of Sunday afternoons and we all settled down and watched Akeelah and the Bee. It came out in 2006 but we never made it out to see it. You may have seen it for sale at Starbucks since Starbucks Entertainment was behind it for promotion and financial backing. It's the story of an 11 year-old girl in a beat down school who has untapped talent. If you haven't seen it, seek it out, grab the family and watch it. No matter the age, everyone should like it and connect with it. The quote above was used as Laurence Fishburne (playing Dr. Larabee) was trying to connect with Akeelah to teach and motivate her...and to provide the "fire" for her to imagine the unimaginable.

I love the quote. I love the truth that it represents. Like it says, we were "born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us." Whatever that is for me or you, it's for each of us to find out and develop it. Then, when we "let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." It's infectious. It's contagious. My blog, for me, is sort of that kind of thing for me. I seek to share, to inspire, to motivate others by being transparent, forthright, and without compromise. It also helps keep me grounded and real with myself. It's not too uncommon for me to refer back to a post I wrote in the past and reflect on it.

As for the manifestation of what's inside me, I find that really difficult to identify personally. Have I? I have no idea. For some, they have clearly found their calling. To be a doctor, nurse, administrator, school teacher, missionary, pastor, or heck, even a running store owner...these people may say that they found it. For me, I'd say that I seek to just do my best at all times and do what creates the passion and "burn" within me. In my running life, it's the ultra-marathon and going beyond what others consider possible or in the 100-mile race, what others even consider "sane." Professionally, I sit in a cubicle, working for Uncle Sam, and often sit face-to-face with people who are homeless or in the middle of a crisis I can't even imagine. My chance to serve them well and serve them to the very best of my ability provides the drive and "fire" to keep going. If it wasn't for the constantly varying workload and different people everyday, I'd despise my job. Quite the opposite, though. While so many complain in my line of work, I start each day with a smile (and sometimes a Starbucks) and CHOOSE to manifest the day in the most positive way I can. As a Navy officer in the Navy Reserve, it's my passion to serve my country and also to be an example of that to my children. Yea, I can do the job and while it's not overly exciting, it's the service to my fellow countryman or woman that provides the "burn." Lastly, as a husband and father, that's where I consistently feel like I'm not quite "cuttin' the mustard." Others say I'm doing good but I don't have the confidence that I am. I couldn't imagine a more beautiful family and I am incredibly thankful for them, but I really don't feel like I measure up. I never feel like I need a pat on my back or even deserve one. Parenting...being a husband...is not easy. I never thought it would be but I'm here to confirm that it isn't.
Before starting this last paragraph, be it known that I read the preceding paragraphs about 3 times and paused to take the girls to church for AWANA. I just let it all soak in about this thing called "manifestation." I do have one observation about what I wrote: I believe that my running and most importantly, my trail running, provides an escape both mentally and physically. No distractions. No cell phones. Nothing. Some who don't run can't wrap there minds around it and how I overcome the boredom of being out there. That way of thinking is so, SO far from the reality of what truly exists out there. In fact, I think...no...I KNOW that trail running and the "escape" it provides sorta numbs the areas of my life where I feel I don't quite measure up. You could say I'm "running away" from it (but since I return home after my run, that sure doesn't make sense!) or you could say it's some kind of drug that dulls the reality of my shortcomings. On the trails, there is nothing to stop me, to derail me. Out there, I am the king of my own destiny and only I determine the outcome.

Coming full circle, I like the quote. However, the beginning sentence that says that deep down, we don't feel inadequate...well, I think I can punch a few holes in that one. For that, I can certainly say that I do. However, the quote as a whole can really serve each of us well...to dig deep and find that which provides the fire, the "burn," the motivation to manifest that which we were designed to do.

To the trails, my friends...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hangin' in There

Shopping for 100s, TrailRunner Magazine showing up, and a deadline looming to publish the Western Reserve TRAIL Running newsletter...reminders everywhere about the trails. Add in Facebook posts about all of those fellow crazy folks who are running the original Buckeye Trail 50K tomorrow...unofficially and just for fun. I should BE there. We're also in the middle of a string of nights with clear skies, downright brittle temperatures in the single digits and a moon so bright that it beckons me to lace up and head out under it's light. Oh yea, my new trail shoes should arrive any day at Vertical Runner...the Vasque Transistor. I've been reading race reports and viewing photos from the Bear 100 which takes place the same weekend as the Akron Marathon. Assuming I get my strength back in my left leg, I am undecided on my fall schedule and I really like what I see at the Bear. I'm also not opposed to returning to Oil Creek again a few weeks later. One or the other, of course. Anyway, I fear I'm becoming a "bear" of sorts to be around. Edgy, grumpy...yea...it's a fact. Not proud of it, though. I know I control my own attitude and it's all on me...I'm just in a funk, I guess. It is what it is.

I do feel stronger but don't feel like it would be wise to run any trails although I want to more than anything right now. I would say it's been awhile since I've felt anything adductor related...even longer from the iliopsoas muscle. I wouldn't say they are fully healed, though...at least the adductor isn't. When I do the exercises to strengthen my core area, I can still tell a distinct difference in strength and stability when comparing left and right adductors. With the exercises shown to me by my physical therapist, it is extremely easy to isolate the different muscles and quickly identify what is still weak and what is not. The goal is to make the left feel like the right. That's my "green light" to head to the trails for a test run. My goal is to be there by the 3rd week in February...an incredibly 3 short weeks from now. Otherwise, bye bye MMT. The other thing I feel quite clearly is weakness in the extreme lower abs. That is a major central area where so many things connect and the overall strengthening I'm working on should help that area. I'd say when I feel discomfort during a run, it is in that area. I really feel nothing at all in the adductor area during runs anymore. A good sign, for sure. (Not sure where the adductor and psoas muscles are? Click here.)

So for now, I'm hanging in there. Weekly mileage is in the range of 30-40 miles..all road...and all in paces from 8:30 to 9:20 per mile. No concern is being paid to pace...I just run the pace that allows me run a nice and easy stride with no labored breathing or extended strides. "Steady-state running," as I like to call it. With any pronounced soreness in my lower abs, I take a rest day. I'm not trying to do anything more than keep a good base of fitness and not gain wait while my muscles heal and get stronger. I'll buy those Transistors when they show up...in cash, of course. No more credit! I've been saving my "allowance" to buy those shoes so I hope I like them.

I often think about what got me where I am today. I'm convinced it was my self-inflicted "work-load" last year. It wasn't necessarily the 3 100-milers, though. I believe it was things like racing a 5-miler on Labor Day weekend when I wasn't trained for that kind of running and also, running the Akron Marathon a week after the YUT-C 50K and 2 weeks before my 3rd 100-miler, the Oil Creek 100. Just too much. Would I change any of it? I'd still do all 3 100s but I wouldn't race that 5-miler and I wouldn't have run the Akron Marathon. Oh yea, I forgot about marathon #25, the Bobcat Trail Marathon in November. I wouldn't miss that one, either. :-)

Happy Trails, everyone!

Monday, January 25, 2010

M-Cubed for 1/25/2010

Monday Morning Musings for January Twenty-Fifth, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- I saw Avatar over the weekend. I figured that if it's going to break the all-time grossing record and eclipse Titanic, I'd better see it. At first when it came out, I thought it was just another sci-fi flick. The news is that at first, 80% of viewers were men. Now, it's pretty much split right down the middle between men and women. Marjie and I saw it and really liked it. It was definitely a very "green" movie and took very obvious jabs at those who are mowing down forests and I also think they were referring to those who would drill for oil at the expense of what sits atop the ground above the well. It also had a big "religious" side...or whatever you want to call it. It really wasn't religious, per se, but the reference to a "higher being" and how the energy exists that connects all living beings and things was very pronounced. It reminded me a lot of Star Wars regarding "The Force" that flows through people. Very similar parallel. I certainly don't subscribe to talking to the "universe" or believe that I can talk to nature, but this movie certainly represented a point of view that I would guess that many feel they can relate to. All in all, a spectacular movie that we really enjoyed. James Cameron took 4 years and 10,000 computers to make it! Simply amazing. Gee, he made Titanic, too. Good chance that money isn't an issue right now for that man.

- Physical therapy is now complete and it's on my shoulders to get strong. As I went through the motions last night in my basement, I was amazed at how exhausted I became with extremely little or absolutely no movement whatsoever. At least I KNOW how weak I am in the little-used areas around my mid-section. Obliques, glutes, hip flexors...they all need to get strong and play their part. I honestly didn't miss the trails this weekend. I'm sure they were very muddy. With temps in the 40s and plenty of rain yesterday...added to the snow melt, they had to be a sloppy mess! The warm temps were like a tease, though. We are still deep in the middle of winter up here in Ohio. Instead, I got in a comfy 14 around home on the roads. Comfy today is defined as around a 9min pace. I really couldn't care less about my pace...it is what it is. It was great to hear many birds singing on the run...reminding me that Spring really isn't too far away.

- I really, really hope I have a green light to run the Oil Creek course on February 27th. People have been asking me about the date for the 2010 event (assuming I would know!) which has me thinking about Oil Creek and how much I love it. In case you, too, are wondering, the date hasn't been set. The middle school which serves as headquarters/start/finish hasn't set their football schedule yet for the fall. Hopefully by the end of February/early March, we'll know. The hope is that it is again on Columbus Day weekend in October. I am really leaning heavily towards running it again this year...the 100 mile distance, of course. Seriously people, would I run anything else?!

- I'm so glad that I don't care about football. I got so much done yesterday instead of sitting in front of the TV. Those dang Christmas lights are finally down. I seriously do not want to put them up again next year...I mean later THIS year. I am looking forward to the Super Bowl, though. With a business education, I love to watch how companies market themselves in a short bit of time for such HUGE money. For 2010...an average 30 second commercial will cost 3 MILLION dollars. Think about that as you watch the Clydesdales.

- I've got this nasty cut under my right arm in my armpit. It hurts just thinking about it. Unfortunately, I haven't a clue how I got it. Perhaps while I was in my Avatar body?

- No calls for me to go to Haiti. I really want to go but at my new command, we are in our certification year so other battalions have precedence over us so they'd get the call first. This IS our cup-o-tea, though. Humanitarian aid and support is one of the things we are fully capable of providing. It's good to see the Navy doing more than any other service, though. We've got a huge flotilla of ships surrounding Haiti right now.

- I really enjoyed pretending it wasn't January on this morning's run. 48F, 6 miles, shorts and short sleeve tech tee, no rain, no wind...just right. The number one sound was flowing water into gutter systems as the rain and snow melt flow to the underground. The forecast? 48F and goin' down!

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just Say "NO" to Trails

If you're one of my ultra-trail-running friends reading this, you can relate when at times, we feel like we just need a super-long, multi-hour, maybe even overnight, escape to the trails. We want it...heck, for sanity's sake, we NEED it. Running has become a drug...an addiction...and without it, we start going into withdrawal. We're cranky, moody, and no one really cares to be around us. This remind's me of the show "Intervention" that I watch from time to time. However, this addiction contains no poisons, isn't killing us, and gives us a high completely independent of any foreign substance. Am I addicted? Heck yea! Just try an 'intervention' with me and see how it goes. That's why I'm very careful when I go to a doctor or medical professional about something running-related. You think I'm that stupid to go to someone who would try to commit me and ship me off to some Palm Springs "Runners Rehab" clinic? Come on, now...we are inherently made to survive at all costs. Anyway...

My last physical therapy appointment was today. Call it a premonition or whatever, but I knew exactly how it would go and sure enough, it did...exactly to script. I'd go in, tell her how my short 13.5 went at the Run for Regis, speak honestly about how the adductor and iliopsoas felt, I'd do some exercises to identify current problem areas, then she'd whip out those Graston tools again so she could dig for some scar tissue that might be lingering from the first two treatments. I also knew this would be the last treatment. There really isn't anything left for her to do. I've got the exercises, the rubbery bands she gave me, and the problems areas have been "Grastonized" three times. (my new word...like it?!) Now the ball is in my court...completely. It is up to me to get stronger on my own, run only on predictable surfaces that I have control over, and to be smart and listen to my body. Only after I have strengthened everything and the adductor (the REAL problem child) has completely healed, can I return to the trails. So for now, I'm banishing myself from trails for the next month. My plan is to run a consistent base of 25-40 miles per week, road or groomed/flat trail only...I think they call that a "Towpath" in these here parts! The adductor MUST heal and any side-to-side left-leg motion just sets me back. If I can run in mid-late February on trails without any discomfort, I'm clear to run the Oil Creek course for 50K on February 27th. I planned this run months ago and good size group is now planning on it. That's my short-term goal...to be "back" by then. No screwing around with a "trail run here...a trail run there" anymore. I'm just saying "NO" to trails...for a short, itty-bitty time. (for any of you medical types out there, the real pain exists at the insertion point of the adductor, deep groin. Regular running on roads (ie: not on the camber and not running hard/fast) feels perfectly fine and I feel no discomfort whatsoever. As soon as I introduce any side-to-side motion which is all the time on the trails, it aggravates that insertion point.)

I also had a superb 8 mile run yesterday. I set the alarm a bit earlier for 3am and just after 4, I was on the roads. I wanted more than a 5 or 6 mile run which is normally all I have time for on normal working weekdays. Well, I picked a good day to get up at 3am. It was 22F, no breeze, and sky was filled with millions of stars. It was surreal. During that run, I came to reconcile with myself about 2010. Reality: I'm in no shape to even run a 50K right now. Could I run it? Yes. Should I if I ever want to feel 100% again? Heck, no. Reality: if I don't fix myself, MMT is out. I will not show up to a 100-mile race ill-prepared. I want to run it but I will not "do it just to do it." That's just not me. For now, I'm just going to stick to my script and get strong again. There is still time. If March appears and I'm still having issues, I'm out. I'm a deadline-kind-of-person and that's mine.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Monday, January 18, 2010

M-Cubed for 1/18/2010

Monday Morning Musings for January Eighteenth, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- It's the time again to roll on in to the BMV here in Ohio for my 3-year renewal of my license. I've been looking forward to this as the old picture has 50 extra pounds on that body. Time for a refresh! I also am going to abandon my vanity plates that I adore..."RUNTRLZ". I simply am not going to participate in the fleecing of Ohioans by the current administration running this state. They have doubled the fee just to have those plates. FIFTY bucks as an additional fee on top of the already-high fees (that were also raised for 2010) just to retain the plate. I love the plate but not that much. Not called a tax, but at its core, it truly is. Instead, I will take the FREE route and get U.S. Navy Reserve plates. Yea....that'll do just fine!

- Yesterday was my 4th time at the annual Run for Regis. The Run for Regis was held on trails around the Virginia Kendall area of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, one of my favorite areas. Being only a fun run, runners can run 8, 13, 18, 26.2, or the whole 31.2mi/50K distances. Sticking to my physical therapist's directive of no more than 13.5 miles, that's what I did. But in true "me" fashion, I took pictures...lots of them...148 published to be exact. There were probably about 30 or 40 others that didn't make the cut and were either blurry or foggy that I deleted. The fog was really heavy and there was a ton of moisture in the air. However, my new Canon D10 did great. I'm including a few of my favorites throughout M-Cubed today but the whole collection can be viewed here.

- So what about my "injury"? I hate that word...I really do.
Anyway, it's a good thing I had screws in my shoes...20 of them. Those trails got really sloppy due to the mid-30s temperatures and a lot of snow still on the ground. Without the screws, I would have made a marginal situation very bad. So in the end, I stopped at 13.5 miles and it's good that I did. The problem area on my upper left leg was apparent and was "speaking" to me to stop and call it a day. I still wore my smile and pretended I felt nothing but truth be told, I felt it...every part of it. I'm trying to stay positive...and will rest a lot this week and continue my strengthening exercises. My physical therapist ran the Houston Marathon yesterday in 4:30:01. She's taking a few days off to recover then I'll be back to see her this Friday. I have a feeling that I will be seeing her a few more times than originally planned. Although, I do feel she is nearly at the limit of what she can do. The ball is in my court. She can only shred my muscles so many times. I need to get strong.

- It is really awful what is going on down there in Haiti. So much humanitarian aid and money is flowing down there right now. The real challenge now is the logistics of getting it to where it needs to go. The U.S. military has taken over their airport and is now starting convoys to move the aid. The convoys, though, are being done as they would be in a war zone like Iraq or Afghanistan, fully armed and protected. There is a lot of violence breaking out as the desperation grows so convoys must be protected to get the aid where it needs to go. We have no idea how bad it is down there. On another note, Royal Caribbean, the cruise line I am a big fan of and the only one we vacation on, has made a not-so-popular move. They have a private section of Haiti called Labadee. I've been there several times. It's essentially a section of beach-front with all the luxuries that cruisers want. It was unaffected by the earthquake and is heavily guarded at it's perimeter. Well, the cruise line is going to continue to stop there and conduct business-as-usual. I don't know who is making the "business" decisions at RCCL, but I gotta say, that's just bad business and will only produce bad PR. I have do imagine many of those who are booked on one of those itineraries are throwing a fit. It just doesn't seem right for half-naked bodies to be sunning themselves and drinking margaritas on one side of an island while on the other, people are still buried alive, others are starving for food and water, and people are being piled in mass graves. Bad Royal Caribbean. Bad.

- Lastly, I found this video published on Friday by the Washington Post of a demonstration that was held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. We've all heard Martin Luther King's speech, but probably not this way. Pretty cool to watch, especially as a parent of kids the same age. Happy Martin Luther King Day!


Happy Trails, everyone!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Focusing on the Prize

Oh my, how I hate being home on a Saturday morning. Nothing against my family, of course, but I belong on the trails. It's my one day a week...heck, my one morning a week that is mine to go run and mentally/physically escape to the trails. Instead, I'm limited to a 13 mile trail tomorrow at the Run for Regis 50K. But....I'm staying positive and focusing on the prize...returning to "full time service" on the trails. So today as Marjie is cooking meals for a month with my sister-in-law and a friend, Amy, and my girls are scattered in a few different directions, I hit the living room floor for more work. As my physical therapist threw down the law a few days ago, no more than 2.5 hours of running tomorrow. In addition, she threw out another directive...no long (by definition, that would be 3+ hours on the trails...or my definition of 30+ miles) until I can roll from the "banana" position to the "Superman" position withOUT touching my hands or feet to the floor. It sounds so easy but it is so hard...for me, at least. Here's the Superman pose. Belly flat. Feet together off the floor. Hands out like Superman.

Next, the idea is to roll from this position into the "banana" position. Talk about a wobbling mess. Once I get there, this is it. The problem with this photo? Look at the loose shirt under the small of my back. That's bad. The lower back needs to be flat. Otherwise, I'm using my central abs. I need to be using my obliques (the sides). When you've been using your central abs for push-ups and everything else for a lifetime, just try switching. Not easy! I am trying to imagine driving my lower back into the floor and shifting my hips forward and I'm starting to get it...but not yet.


She also has me doing several plank stances which nearly everyone has seen or done. I do the center, left, and right...for about 10 seconds...about 10 times each. Focusing on using the obliques and not the center abs to stabilize.

There is also one moving exercise I do where I start laying flat, arms outstretched above my head on the ground, and slowly rise while imagining my spine leaving the ground one piece at a time. Throughout, my lower back MUST be flat to the ground a cavity should form in my lower guts. This indicated the obliques are working. Otherwise, I'm just using my central abs which is counter-productive. If I do it right, my feet should push across the floor as I rise and drag back as I slowly lower down. While down there, I also do leg lifts, one leg at a time. One left resting in the bent position and the working leg outstretched and slowly raising and lowering....again, with the small of my back flat. Lastly, she cut me a piece of elastic band which I use as you see here. The idea is to have a straight posture, use no assistance, and starting from feet together, move one leg backwards at the 45 degree angle 10 times. This directly works the opposite side's upper glute muscle (you know...your BUTT!). Turns out, I'm weak there, as well, and that area also helps strengthen/stabilize the entire area.

So as you can see, I'm a weakling in the central area of my body but I'm working on getting stronger. By strengthening the area, my iliopsoas muscles and adductors don't need to do all the work and I can be a more efficient and strong runner. I can also avoid a hernia which is what will happen next if I don't strengthen up and get myself together!

Head up, being positive, focusing on the prize!!!

Happy Trails, everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

By Direction

Letters are often signed "By Direction" in the Navy when the Commanding Officer needs to give authority to someone in the chain of command to carry out duties of his position. As I was finishing up my 3rd meeting and 2nd round of the Graston Technique at my physical therapy appointment yesterday, I passed on that authority to my physical therapist. I know myself...and 'myself' will sometimes not use his head when he should and a strict order is sometimes needed. I recognized the need for an 'order' from her before I walked out of her office.

This past Monday, I walked into physical therapy angry, frustrated, and just plain ticked off at the lack of progress with my iliopsoas and adductor muscle strains. I ran less than TWELVE miles last week. You'd think with that kind of pitiful mileage, I'd feel like a million bucks. Nope. Rest was doing absolutely nothing in the healing process. So, I wore that disgust on my face and in my own way, begged and pleaded to her to do whatever it would take to get better. After a few minute run on the (d)readmill...er, treadmill, she made a few observations: with the injury on my upper left leg, my entire body had sorta shaped itself around the damaged area to compensate for it and strengthen the area. Since I injured this, I ran my 3rd 100-miler, my 25th marathon, and a few 20+ mile trail runs. My posture was literally curved to compensate. In addition, all of my leg muscles, top to bottom, were smaller on the left leg because the right leg has been doing all of the work. I also had changed my stride to essentially run inside of a "box" to limit pain/discomfort while running. I knew that full strides irritated the area so I tried to contain the stride. All of this is pretty amazing, isn't it? That body is an incredible machine and really adapted to take care of itself and press on. In the meantime, my hard-headed stubborn self pressed on and refused to back off. This lead to increased scar tissue and soreness and with LESS mileage, I had MORE pain. Hmmm.... Oh yea, that treadmill sucked. I don't know how some of you do it. I hated every second on that contraption. Confirmation yet again that outdoors is where I belong no matter the weather.

After her observation of me and warming up the muscles on the (d)readmill, out came the tools...the curvy, stainless steel, patented tools. The best way I can describe what these tools is this: you know when you put a sticker on your car window and you get those stupid little air bubbles in there and want to get them out? Imagine taking a smooth-edged steel ruler and running it across the sticker to work out the bubbles without tearing the paper. That's basically what Graston does to muscle fiber. It is an aggressive way to break up muscle fiber that is sticking together due to the damage done. This frees the fibers up to promote blood flow and healing. It is totally normal and expected that bruising will occur post-treatment visually in the form of black-n-blue marks. True dat!!!! I had lots and lots of bruising on my inner and front upper left leg where she worked. I just kept talking while she did the treatment to distract myself from the discomfort of it all and before I knew it, she was done...and worn out! It's exhausting for the therapist as well. Before I left, she showed me core exercises to work on as well as giving me a band to help strengthen the upper glutes. Those are weak, too.

So I headed out on a run on Tuesday morning and for the first time in a L O N G time, I had no pain whatsoever!!! Nothing! The morning after and it was gone. I kept holding back the tendency to speed up, too. You see, my optimism can ruin it all. She specifically told me to NOT run hard or fast. It felt so good, though! I wasn't controlling my stride in a box or anything. It felt so natural and I wanted many more than 7 miles. Good thing I had to go to work or I would've kept on going. Afterwards, I was thrilled and couldn't wait for yesterday's 2nd treatment. I was sold. "Hurt me, again!" I was thinking. "This stuff works!" I did her exercises on Tuesday night as instructed and when I visited yesterday, she once again pulled out the tools and much of the bumpy, "rumble strips" of scar tissue she felt before were gone. She felt some and worked on them but the session didn't last long. Afterwards, I iced the area until it got numb then was done. She had me do some more exercises to test my core strength which we found is coming along but not where she wants it yet. She wants me to be able to do a few where I lay down with my head up, legs up, and then roll to my belly without hands/head/legs ever touching the ground. She said that until I can do that, I can't ramp up my mileage. Ahhhh....a goal. I'm game.

So just before I left, I asked about the Run for Regis 50K this Saturday. She wants me to run it conservatively and report back with how it feels. She's been talking about doing the 1/2 marathon only but never really "ordered" me. This is where I had to issue a "By Direction" order. "I will do whatever you tell me to do. If I feel the pain return, I'll stop. But, if I run 13 and it feels great, can I continue?" I asked. I was essentially asking for an order because without it, I just know I'd run the whole 31.2 mile 50K if I feel good. "Stop. Do NOT run more than 13.1," she replied back. "Just do the 1/2 and then we'll talk about it next week." I needed her to be strict with me, especially since this event is no more than a fun run for me and doing less is perfectly acceptable. The ultimate goal is in May and in order to prepare for that, I need to be 100% by late February so I can kick off training. WHATEVER that takes...I'll do it. This 'Type A' stubborn personality needs bossed around from time to time and I recognized the need for it yesterday. I just know that if I feel good, I'll just 'go for it' which would not keep the big picture in mind but instead would be living in the moment only. Not good.

So I'm out the door for a light run this morning which serves as good therapy the day after a treatment since it'll warm up the muscles and promote more blood flow. This Sunday, I'm just going to run the 1/2 marathon as ordered and take along my new Canon D10 and try to capture a lot of the race in pictures. HAVE FUN is the order of the day! Of course, a cool new Brooks Run for Regis 1/4 zip tech shirt and homemade chili afterwards. Looking forward to it!

Happy Trails, everyone!

Monday, January 11, 2010

M-Cubed for 1/11/2010

Monday Morning Musings for January Eleventh, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- It really trips my trigger when there are no 'perceived' seats available at my departure gate at the airport, people are sitting on the grubby floor with backs up against the wall, and lazy people can't pick up their freakin' bags off the seat next to them to free up a seat. Oh, that fires me up!

- Something warm and fuzzy overcomes me when I enter the Commonwealth of Virginia. After spending several years there in the mid to late 1990s, returning there certainly makes me miss it. Maybe retiring there with my bride could actually happen some day. She'll be happy. I'll be happy. Into the sunset we'll go...

- I had a great trip to the Williamsburg area of Virginia this past weekend. Just across I-64 is the Naval Weapons Station along with the headquarters of the Expeditionary Logistics Force which is over the command I currently serve at. It was a great training weekend for my unit and a chance to put to practice all the stuff we exist to do. This trip I had a comfy bed. Next time, I'll be set up in a tent camp for 2 weeks. FUN!

- Today is session #2 for physical therapy. My confidence factor is lowering, my outlook is turning more pessimistic, and I hurt after every stinkin' run...and I'm hardly doing anything. Keep this up and I'll be re-buying all those larger sized jeans I gave to Goodwill 2 years ago. Dangit.

- Do some people seriously have the inability to feel the cool air blowing by their rear end as they bare their plumber's butt? Seriously, people! I walked into a restaurant at the Philadelphia Airport last night and a guy at the bar, watching the 4th quarter of the Cardinals/Packers game, was letting his hairy arse hang out for the world to see. I JUST DON'T GET IT! (and I don't think I want to)

- I finished reaching "The Total Money Makeover" on my flight down to Virginia. (thanks to the winter storm last week, I had plenty of dead airport time) Marjie has finished it as well and we are well on our way into Baby Step #2. Honestly, it is so relaxing to have a budget, cash in my wallet, on a name on every dollar before payday even gets here. It's a completely different way to live. I consider it a huge victory to be on 3-days of travel and not charge one stinkin' thing. Well, except for my lodging on my government credit card. Word is, our government has no problem with debt and racking it up. Sorry, I don't subscribe to that mentality, Mr. President. Debt owns our nation...it will not own me!

- I miss my friends dearly in southeast Virginia. Being back on the traffic-infested I-64, seeing signs for the 2 tunnels, and running besides the Atlantic ocean on my morning run yesterday really poured salt on that open wound. Honestly, if we wanted to to uproot right now, we could. I have a job that I could easily transfer and Marjie's a nurse...in high demand no matter where she goes. The 2 x-factors for us in Ohio are family for one, and if I'm being totally honest, the local running community. I feel just a bit interwoven into that world and it would stink to leave it. For now, we believe we are where we are supposed to be but options are always on the table. (word is, there are some great ultra-running races in Virginia....hmmmm....MMT!!!!)

- I keep hearing about people tapering for this Sunday's Run for Regis 50K and other various comments. My decision on if to run it and how much to run it won't be decided until the day arrives. I think a heart-to-heart discussion will be needed with my physical therapist this morning and a reality check. I'm fed up with my lack of progress in healing right now. I remember the days of running 30mile back-to-backs without a problem and dying for more. Now, 6 miles on the road is uncomfortable.

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Remembering the Sea

A common question from friends and some family is what it is I do once a month and a couple of weeks a year and at some point...for many weeks on end. I don't talk about it too much on here, especially the when/where/how long/why, mostly just to protect my family. My blog, as you know, can be read by anyone in any corner of the planet. Many times, I start to type about it, then backtrack and delete it all after thinking about what I just typed. I really do like to talk about it as I'm very passionate about it, just like running...it's just a different "kind" of passion. In running, I seek to run and push myself beyond previously unbroken or unknown limits and reach a sort of never-thought-possible state of being. I guess that sorta explains my drive for running 100-milers. 26.2 just doesn't do it for me anymore! While in uniform, however, my passion lies within serving my country before myself and that means a different kind of sacrifice. Hopefully not the ultimate sacrifice, but sacrifice in time, missed family events, and maybe even some RUNNING events. I truly love my country, not any party or political ideology, but the good 'ol red, white, and blue. I hold those who have come before me in very high regard and don't ever take for granted the freedom I have to do as I please, thanks to them.

I love quotes that capture the essence of different things in my life. The "I Love to Run" group on Facebook is a great example. They post little snippets every day that capture the magic of running and going the distance. Military service and service in the Navy are stumbled upon every once in awhile as well. World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Vice-Admiral John Bulkeley is quoted as saying: "The Naval Officer is truly unique for he must have the capacity to simultaneously love his country... his service... his family... his shipmates... and the sea. He needs each of them unquestionably as each of them needs him... and the demands which are placed on him never diminish, they only grow." (There is no higher medal than the Medal of Honor...he also had a ship named after him and served honorably for a whoppin' 55 years! He passed away in 1996 at 84 years of age. Here's his bio.) The admiral got his quote dead on. I may be a land-based reservist these days, but I served on active duty for 10 years and have been on several ships and have sailed the oceans blue quite a bit. I miss those sunsets over the horizon, the burning jet fuel while F-18s are catapulted off of the flight deck, and firing up the nuclear reactor as we prepare to go to sea. So yea, I miss it. I love my family more, but I miss the sea.Speaking of the sea, I remember the USS Virginia (above) well. Decommissioned and chopped to pieces by now, it was my first ship, hull number CGN-38 (nuclear guided missile cruiser). I finished Naval Nuclear Power School in 1992 then reported aboard the 500 person crewed ship in 1993. I remember well my first time at sea. A hurricane (I believe it was Emily) was heading inland at a high category towards the Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach area and the ships in port were ordered to sea. Our ship had been slated to be decommissioned and it's final voyage was scheduled for the fall but Emily forced us out to sea to outrun the hurricane. Well, we went to sea but went straight through the outer rim of the storm. As a fairly small ship, it was a rocky ride, to say the least. As a newbie sailor, I puked my guts out and ate more than my fair share of crackers. I hadn't yet earned my "sea legs" as we like to say but after that, I never got sick again. Looking at the picture of the Virginia above, it reminds me of evenings that I stood besides the rail and watched the sun set and wishing my new bride was with me to witness it. I remember standing in the superstructure as they fired test-missiles and sometimes, the 5 inch gun. I also remember test-shoots of the tomahawk cruise missiles out on the fantail (the rear of the ship). Port calls in Cartagena, Columbia (Marjie got emeralds from that visit), Curazao Venezuela, and San Juan were the highlights of the Virginia's final cruise. When I left the Virginia for a brand new aircraft carrier, the John C. Stennis (CVN-74), not much was left of her. Her superstructure had been removed and all the spent nuclear fuel shipped to some secret hideout somewhere. I prefer to remember her out to sea as you see up above. It just makes the Admiral's quote even more resonating to me.

So today, far separated from my days as a nuclear mechanic and now a commissioned Navy Supply Officer, I am looking forward to the leadership growth...and challenges that lie ahead.
It is truly an exciting time in my Navy career and one I wouldn't change it a bit. Luckily, it's my wife and family that I have to thank. Marjie has stood by my side and is 50% of the equation and has been so since 1991. She continues to support me and my girls are learning what it's all about. The world climate today in the 21st century has done nothing to deter us from service to our country and from the recruiting numbers among the services, other fellow sailors, Marines, Airmen, and soldiers agree. There is never NOT a time to serve. (yes, that was a double-negative for you teacher-types out there!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"It's a Small World After All..."

I always love Fridays when they happen on Thursdays. I always get comments at work when I work on an actual Friday because I'm off so often on those days due to my compressed work schedule and my military duties. But I DO carry my workload, dangit! Anyway, today is one of my Thursdays that's a Friday to me. Fun times this weekend...but that'll have to be another post...and no, it involves no running whatsoever.

I went to my first physical therapy appointment this past Tuesday. How ironic that I walk into the Summa clinic in Green, OH and I think: "Gee, she looks familiar." A few minutes past and "she" calls me back. "She" is Ellen and is the physical therapist I was referred to by Dr. Shah. Dr. Shah sure is a smart man and one who is inside the mind of us runners...very slick to keep me with medical professionals along my journey who are all runners and "get it." Otherwise, I'd have to give a whole dissertation to each one after their jaw hit the floor about my "100 mile thing." "You did what?! Well of course, you're hurt! Stop doing it!" Wrong answer! But thanks to Dr. Shah, minimal explanation is needed. You see...Ellen was at Falls River Square (the Burning River 100 finish line but also the bus pickup at 3am on race morning). Many of us filled 2 Cuyahoga Falls school buses for the ride to the start at Squire's Castle. She was a volunteer to check people in and get us going. I was also doing that for Joe (race director) on race morning before running it. She saw me a few weeks later at Vertical Runner, too, and she's also a marathoner. Soooooo.....she gets it...sort of. Small world, eh?! She actually ran part of the Run for Regis Winter 50K back in 2007 when I was 4th overall and Mr. Dave Peterman whispered his famous words in my ear "So, you got anything left?", a 1/2 mile from the finish. She's not running it this year, though, but when I told her I was signed up, she actually told me she wants to get me to run it and be OK! Wow! "This is not what I expected coming in here today," I thought. But in reality, we both know what irritates my iliopsoas and adductor muscles and slippery trails right now are the #1 culprit. So it'll come down to trail conditions, I believe. (I do have my trusty screwed shoes, though.) I expect I'll start the event, regardless, and just go with it and see how I feel. The Run for Regis isn't the goal...simply a fun event to participate in and support. The overreaching goal is recovery so the BIG goal can be achieved.

Big picture, my big weakness right now is overall core strength. I have very strong abdominal muscles. It's the obliques that are wimpy and weak...those muscles on the sides of the center abs. Due to years and years of doing sit-ups and other exercises using those center abs, it's very difficult to specifically target the obliques to strengthen them but that's what the majority of my 'homework' is each night...doing static exercises to strength those and the surrounding core muscles. The exercises I'm going now are the normal plank, side plank, and a few other slow moving ones that force me to focus on driving the small of my back (lower spine) into the ground to shift the focus to the obliques and away from the center abs. That is VERY difficult to do and keep it there. It's like learning to walk all over again...well sorta. The fun part is doing these exercises while my 2 young girls try to mirror me doing them on the living room floor. Giggling girls wrecks my concentration! It's all fun, though, and cool they want to chill and hang out with dad while I am doing these "weird" things on the living room floor.

Running, in the meantime, is permitted, but on predictable surfaces and minimizing the slipping/sliding. No biggee...I'm actually enjoying this "vacation" from high mileage. :-) I'll see her again each week for this month then determine if more visits are needed. Oh yea, she did spend about 10min driving her thumb into my left psoas muscle. DANGIT, that hurt! But I gotta say, it felt so good the rest of the night. Whatever she did, it really felt good later on.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Monday, January 4, 2010

M-Cubed for 1/4/10

Monday Morning Musings for January Fourth, Twenty Ten. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- Back to the grind, time to lace up, time to grab the bull by the horns...whatever your saying is, many head back to work or school this morning and give an obligatory wave goodbye officially to the holidays and 2009. Same here. I bet we'll have a line a mile long and standing room only in our waiting room this morning. Oh, joy!

- Referring back to heading back to work, it's 21F out. If it were 5F, it would still be better to head out and run before heading to work. The alternative simply isn't an alternative. "MUST RUN. MUST MAINTAIN SANITY."

- I never thought doing a budget could be "fun." In fact, I'd call you crazy if you told me so. Well, our journey to financial freedom to being debt free, still in its infancy stage, got a nice adrenaline shot yesterday. You'd be amazed the money you find when you write it all down. I created a Google spreadsheet outlining the debts along with their paydown order so we visually could see it then made a week-by-week budget through July. For the first time, we'll really benefit from those 5-pay months that happen a few times a year. Seeing it all laid out, I can't wait! Being cash-only for the past 2 weeks has been different, for sure, but we're motivated...we're a team...and we're fired up to crush our goals. All the pieces are now in place!

- Check this out: by taking our mortgage payment and dividing it over 4 weeks in a month, we effectively make one extra payment per year and over time, pay early. Just this simple tweak will result in a payoff 5 years early and a savings of over $50,000 in interest. It actually makes it easier to budget when dealing with a weekly payment instead of the monster once a month. The extra payment comes because: normally, you have 12 payments in one year (12 months). When you pay weekly (or bi-weekly...whichever is easier), it comes out to 13 payments in a year because of 52 weeks in the year, not 48. Sweet!

- 12 miles on Saturday. Yep, that's it. I was out on a single digit windchill Saturday morning around the roads of Hudson, trying to have a kickoff run for VR Training. We only had a total of 12 folks and many weren't new. A better weather day and I'm sure more would have shown up. Still, considering the weather, it was a good showing. My mileage was WAY down last week.

- Physical therapy starts tomorrow in N. Canton. I'll be seeing a physical therapist who is also a marathoner so hopefully, she'll have some mercy on my schedule. I'm OK with decreased mileage...it's like a forced vacation from running but I'm sure I'll have some core work and cardio work ordered up by her to help some calories still get burned. I also plan to beat the crap out of my heavy bag that hangs in my basement. If I just maintain a base level of fitness, I'll be happy. As for the Run for Regis on the 17th of this month, let's just see what she says tomorrow. I highly doubt I'll be getting a green light. Regis isn't the goal...MMT is. May 15th. There is time...

- If you are among the 645 WRTR newsletter subscribers, don't worry! Yes, I'm aware that the 1st has passed and no newsletter has come out. Statistics prove that sending a newsletter between Friday and Monday and over holidays greatly reduce the chance of actually reading it so as a matter of practice, it will always be delayed when this happens. With that said, it's done and ready and will 'mail' tomorrow morning, January 5th (a Tuesday). Read it with your cup-o-joe!

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Friday, January 1, 2010

"These are a few of my favorite things..."

In true "Sound of Music" fashion, I just wanted to share some of my favorite "Best of" things from Two-Thousand and Nine. First off, my favorite pictures that I claim full copyright over!

I accidentally found the Appalachian Trail in northern Georgia. This was taken at the trail head at Unicoi Gap before I headed out for a few hours. Taken in January 2009.
There's this vegan restaurant in Athens, GA that I absolutely love. As a meat-eater, many were surprised that I sought out this place but I quickly fell in love with it. This was my meal on my first visit in January 2009. I went back for dinner again the next day. I can't wait to return this March!
Cooling off at Falls River Square in Cuyahoga Falls, OH after running the final 30 miles of the Burning River 100 course in July 2009. It was a hot one!
At the top of Rocky Mountain on the Appalachian Trail on January 31, 2009 in northern Georgia. 4032 feet elevation, and due east of Unicoi Gap.
Could I be any happier? My lady of nearly 17 years on one side, and my Oil Creek buckle on the other. As Master Yoda would say: "Stir up emotions, this picture will."
I was promoted in September 2009 to the next rank as a Supply Officer in the U.S. Navy. My favorite uniform, the dress whites, or "chokers" are rarely worn so I dressed up in them on a warm day in September and had Marjie take some shots. This one is my favorite, by far. Dangit, I love serving in the Navy.
We stopped by the little-known Western Reserve National Cemetary this year on the way home from the apple orchard. I loved walking around, reading the headstones, and just "feeling" the incredible feel of patriotism and dedication to country.
On our 17th wedding anniversary and on Marjie's first trail run at West Branch State Park. Just prior to this pic, Marjie said "I do!" once again! Love ya, Babe!
During our Florida trip in May 2009, we had front-row seats for Shamu's "Believe" show. I was very foolish to have such a new camera in the splash zone. It still acts up from time to time from some of the water that got on it. Stupid, Nick. Stupid. But some great pics, nonetheless!
"Bring them up in the way they should go." -- Labor Day 2009
Ignore the time stamp...this was just about Mile 100 of the Burning River 100 in August 2009. Steps later, I crossed the finish line of my 2nd 100-miler with both of my girls in hand. Hallelujah!
Perhaps, in my humble opinion, one of my best photos ever. I just love it. Taken during my 25th marathon, the Bobcat Trail Marathon.
One of my most favorite self-portraits that I've ever taken...and it's not even a whole-body shot. Taken during the Bobcat Trail Marathon in November 2009.
I don't know his name, but while snapping 171 pics during the Bobcat Trail Marathon, I caught this guy doing this during the marathon behind me. I asked him to do it again and he did. This pic should be in a magazine or something!
Beth (in blue) hugging Emily after finishing the inaugural Bobcat Trail Marathon in November at Burr Oak State Park in southeast Ohio. I love this picture.
My prize from my first 100-mile finish on June 7, 2009
In my car after running...and completing my first 100-mile trail run in southern Wisconsin at the Kettle Moraine 100. I had first taken an ice cold shower with a garden hose at the finish line with nothing more than a bar of soap then curled up in my car surrounded by my feather pillow and wearing lots of SmartWool. My legs turned to cement as I rested. The drive through Chicago a few hours later was interesting, to say the least.
Taken along the boardwalk above the Cuyahoga River in Kent, OH during my 36 mile, 36th birthday run in April. Spring was blooming on this day!
On April 16th, I celebrated my 36th birthday by running 36 miles. After about 12 miles or so, I passed through Kent and took a break besides the Cuyahoga River. That's the Pufferbelly Restaurant up and to the left, too. This is a really cool place to visit and relax during the spring and summer months.
Early in December, I took Marjie to Mill Creek Park for her 2nd trail run. We had a blast and Marjie went further than ever before. Unfortunately, she fell later in this run and broke her left arm. She still finished that run strong and can't wait to go again!
Taken on December 26, 2009 at Buttermilk Falls during my 3rd installment of the Waterfalls Run, visiting Brandywine, Blue Hen, and lastly...Buttermilk Falls. A fantastic way to end the year!
Just after Thanksgiving 2009, I organized a reverse running of my December Waterfalls Run. It was a lot of fun! I snapped this picture afterwards before saying my goodbyes. A fun picture capturing the overall fun we all had that day.

Father's Day fun in June 2009 with my girls
Oh yes, a wonderful set of ultra-runners feet after 31+ miles of muddy trails (taken in 3/2009 in Mill Creek Park after the Covered Bridge FA 50K)
The "Love Log" at the top of the Monkey Hills on the YUT-C course in Mill Creek Park
(taken in 3/2009 at the Covered Bridge FA 50K)
So those are the pictures. I have a favorite video post, too. It would have to be David Goggins inspirational video. Runner or not, you can't help be inspired by this. Enjoy!


Also, I love "stuff" as Dave Ramsey likes to say. (singin') "Here are a few of my favorite things...":

- I love Smartwool. I love Smartwool. I LOVE SMARTWOOL!!! Whether it's running, laying around the house, or plunging through the mud, I've got it on and swear by it. Love it!

- I love to take pictures when I'm on the trails and in my opinion, no camera brands beats Canon when it comes to biggest bang for the buck. Marjie got me a waterproof Fuji for Christmas and after taking it on the Waterfalls Run, I realized how superior Canon is and that camera got an express trip back to Best Buy. In it's place? My newest member of my trail running picture taking arsenal, the waterproof Canon D10. In my hands by January 5th. Yea, baby!

- Rest in Peace, my dear Keen trail shoes. Keen has discontinued production of my most-favorite trail shoes on the planet. I've got 3 pairs but I'm in a huge need of something new. Considerations are Montrail's Mt. Masochist, Brooks' Cascadia, or Vasque's new Transistor FS. Soon baby, soon.

- Crazy Monkey Baking Granola. Oh my...beware of opening a bag of this organic granola on the way home because you may not be able to stop. Introduced at the Bobcat Trail Marathon, it is now stocked (and often sells out) at Vertical Runner in Hudson.

- Vertical Runner: heck, I can't talk about my favorite things without a shout-out to a store that does so much for the local running community. Continued growth, no advertising, and a continued up-tick in giving back. Like I tell many first-time runners, step one is to be wearing the proper type of shoe for you...you can't get that off the shelf at Kohl's. You need "fit" for them and only at a specialty running store will you get that. Plus, all the gear and nutrition plus advice to go along with it is available as well. I will continue to be a part of VR Training as well into 2010. Kickoff run tomorrow at 8am at the store in Hudson! Support your local running shop! (wherever you may live)

- Princeton Tec: hands down, in my opinion, no headlamp manufacturer comes close to the quality, reliability and warranty that comes with these. FIVE YEAR warranty and MADE IN THE USA, too. I use the Fuel (a minimalist option with 4 LEDs) and the Apex Pro for my long, long trail runs in the dark. You simply can't find better than Princeton Tec.

Have a Happy TwentyTen and Happy Trails, everyone!