Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hump Day Inspiration in 2 Minutes 15 Seconds

Wouldn't it be great if they projected this on a big screen at the start of a marathon or ultra-marathon? I just love it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

M-Cubed for 4/26/2010

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

- Yes, a bit of blog-slacking this past week. I normally average 2 posts per week but given the past week, there wasn't time nor heart enough to right one. So where to start?

- Monday: published M-Cubed for 4/19/2010. Gunner had just come home and I missed my morning run...but I did start the day off with my favorite Starbucks Iced Coffee, soy milk, cinnamon dulce syrup

- Monday en route to work: conversation about Gunner and how he fits in our lives and what his needs are...with Marjie...after the kids went to school.

- Monday at lunch: Marjie left work and came home to take Gunner out and realized how tough this routine was going to be. You see, she has some significant responsibilities these days at work and leaving every day just introduced a whole new stress that hadn't existed before. Did I mention I missed my morning run? Instead, I was snuggled up on the living room floor with Gunner while he snored.

- Monday after work: I had a huge weight on my chest. I knew about what responsibilities came with a puppy. I had said "No" many times before but this time, I kept my head high in the clouds and convinced myself I'd make it work out. That was not reality. Reality = 2 full-time jobs, many weekends away, and a bunch of other excuses. I was an irresponsible leader in my family and moved ahead with getting Gunner. I let him down, my wife down, and most painfully, my girls down.

- Monday at dinner: "the discussion"..."the phone call" to Gunner's original parents...and the presentation of the "Worst Parents Award" to Marjie and I for telling our girls that Gunner was going home to his real mom and sister. Sobbing little girls and buckets of tears. As I picked up Gunner and carried him out, I couldn't help but get chills that I last felt 2 years ago when I carried Bailey out to take him to be put down. It felt so sadly familiar. Luckily, Gunner was going back to a place to be happy...quite the opposite.

- Monday evening: Gunner "attacks" his mom and sister when he sees them at the home where he was born. He was so excited to see them...it was like he never left. I'll admit: I sat in the car with Gunner in my lap in their driveway, feeling the tears welling up behind my eyelids. I had already bonded with him. This, however, was necessary, and also something I brought on myself. It was time to "man up" and do what had to be done.

- Monday late: Gunner had only been in our home for about 54 hours. The only thing that remained at home were a few choice teeth marks on one spindle of a dining room chair. Everything else had returned to "normal" as we knew it. It was surreal, too. "what just happened?" we thought. If we didn't think about him, it was like he was never there. We do remember, though. How couldn't we? We had so much anticipation leading up to his arrival. Hours upon hours of shopping for the perfect invisible fence, finding the perfect dog food, ordering his crate, getting his custom blue "Gunner Billock" name tag made. Hmmm. It was quite a Monday.

- So Tuesday morning started out different...with a 7 mile loop run on "AmyI's Loop." It's a perfect 7.00 mile loop from my home. I rocked it out nice and easy then came back on Wednesday and did it again but 4 1/2 minutes faster. Felt good to move the legs fast again like old times.

- Thursday was yet another day chock full of emotion: it started with the annual "Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day" so my oldest daughter accompanied me on my 9hr workday including my traditional stop at Starbucks. She had a blast that day but I didn't get to spend as much time with her as I wished. Sometimes in my job with the government where I work face to face with the public, it's not appropriate for kids to be part of that. This was one of those times where the person was grieving and going through a painful time. It was one of those times in my job where I get to serve two functions...the one I get paid for...and the other is to be compassionate and just be one positive light in a person's dismal day/week/month. It is these intangible things about my job that I most value and hold dear.

- Friday couldn't be better. I was on the trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at 5:30am sharp alone and happy as could be. My goals were to run the Valley Bridle Trail to the Virginia Kendall area and catch sunrise over Kendall Lake. That I did! I was bookin' at a pretty good pace, too, at just a hair over 6mph. I got a good handful of pictures and a few of some Spring foliage. View them here starting at Picture 21. Afterwards, it was time to get home lickety-split. After-all, we had an informal dinner social hour waiting for us north of Chicago.

- 400+ miles later, Marjie and I found ourselves at Naval Station Great Lakes, the "Quarterdeck of the Navy," as it is called. "Why?" you ask? The quarterdeck of any ship or command is the entry point for all personnel. Since Naval Station Great Lakes also serves at boot-camp for all enlisted sailors...thus serving as the entry point into the Navy...it is the "Quarterdeck of the Navy."

- Our weekend in Chicago was designed for training, mentoring, networking within the Navy Supply Officer community, and to build esprit de corps. After a nice Friday evening, a good night sleep in our suite just feet away from Lake Michigan, Saturday was full of super great information from some of our finest Navy Supply Officers. It was proof positive about how much can change in only 2 years since the last symposium we had in Columbus. As the global climate changes, our emphasis shifts from Iraq to Afghanistan in the Global War on Terrorism, so does our Supply Corps and what is demanded of us. Seeing it in action and what our role is only motives me (us) and keeps us all unified together.
- Saturday evening was humbling, encouraging, and fun. A long-lasting Navy tradition with it's roots in the Army called a "Dining Out" took place on base. The "Dining Out" (versus the Dining-In where spouses are NOT invited) is a fancy affair as we wear our full dress uniforms, bow-ties included and our spouses dress to the hilt. There were some very scripted parts that are almost "pirate" like and some key officers play key roles in the night's proceedings. There are rules (and penalties if broken) to be followed and courtesies to be shown. After a fun night, it ends with a series of toasts to things such as fallen comrades, deployed sailors and Marines, our Allies, the President, to the Supply Corps, and to our Navy. We even had a very special guest who was a retired Captain from World War II and even survived the sinking of one of his ships. We had officers in the room with no experience and then those with 40 years of experience in their 60s, 70s, and 80s but still looking just as sharp in their uniforms and standing just as proud as they did before. What an evening...and what a truly special time to share with my peers and with Marjie who continues to support me as we serve our Country together.

- So as you can see, it was a busy week. It wasn't a week about running (although I had a great Friday trail run) but a week taking care of family, making some tough decisions, and renewing my passion to press on and stand ready to serve my Country...anytime...anywhere.

- On deck!: “Here, Piggy Piggy…it’s time to make you squeal!!!!” I’ll be pacing Marjie to her first “all-running” ½ marathon this Sunday at the Flying Pig Half-Marathon in Cincinnati. As promised, I will squeal and oink all 13.1 miles while wearing my piggy-nose. (I think I’ll take my camera, too.)

Have a great week, everyone, and as always...Happy Trails!

Monday, April 19, 2010

M-Cubed for 4/19/2010

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

- The running of the 114th Boston Marathon kicks off this morning in the rural town of Hopkinton, MA and ends in Boston, 26.2 miles later. Sold out at 25,000 runners, it is the crown jewel of marathons and one race many aspire to qualify for and run someday. Full race day information and tracking available
here. You can also watch it online starting at 9:30am at Universal Sports who has exclusive online rights to the marathon.

- Congrats to those who ran in and finished the 2nd Annual
Forget the PR 50K yesterday down on the trails of Mohican! Unbelievably, I still have never run the trails of Mohican. It's not even that far away but for some reason, it's just never happened. Some day...some day.


- It was a great weekend that started early for me on Thursday as my youngest got strep throat for the 3rd time this year. After getting an appointment at the last minute with a highly regarded ENT doctor in Akron, she is getting treated yet again but will be getting her tonsils out soon. Enough is enough of that crud!

- Friday marked my 37th year on Planet Earth. Like last year, I ran my age in miles starting from my home. 37 miles on trails is one thing and is quite forgiving. Running it all on asphalt and concrete is quite another thing altogether. Still, I had a great time but the high humidity and sun did beat me down a bit in the mid to upper 20s. Once past the 32 mile mark, I felt like I came alive again and finished strong. Around Mile 14, I did stop at the Pita Pit in Kent's Acorn Alley for an early lunch. It was oh so good: whole wheat pita with hummus and grilled falafel and at the Pita Pit, you decide the other ingredients just like Subway. I added fresh mushrooms, olives, romaine lettuce, onions, feta, and that sauce you normally find on gyros. Oh my, it was awesome! However, about 5 miles later, my stomach wasn't as excited...running immediately after such a hearty meal wasn't the smartest thing ever but yea, I'd do it again. It was that good. Here are a handful of pics I took along the way including stops to see my parents, my youngest brother's wife/kids/sis-in-law, and my aunt and grandma...oh yea, the Pita Pit guy is in there, too. What an AWESOME way to celebrate my birthday! (you should try it some time)

- Well...Gunner, our 10-week old Black Labrador Retriever, is home. We brought him home on Saturday around lunchtime. Plans were originally on Friday after my 37 miler but things just didn't work out. To be totally honest, it worked out well because I was beat from that run and a good night sleep where I could sleep in was certainly in order. I got my sleep...8 hours of it which is rare for me. Good thing, too...because since he came home, I've had much interrupted sleep and nothing too consistent. He's been good, though. The crate training is going well and he's been in there for up to 5 1/2 hours...just last night, actually. He made it without an accident and made it out the front door without letting his bladder loose. Yea, we've had a few accidents inside but only 2. We have learned very quickly that leaving him alone to just a few minutes is a mistake. I was shaving before church yesterday and I thought nothing of him zonked out under the kitchen table. When I checked on him mid-shave, his mouth was wrapped around a spindle of a chair. Hmmmmm.....sharp puppy teeth on relatively soft wood....I don't think so! So much can happen in such a short period of time with him, we are POSITIVE! The girls are getting along with him well, though, and really enjoy running him ragged outside followed by him crashing once he gets back inside. Only teamwork will get us through these puppy days!

- Looking forward, the Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon is coming up in under 2 weeks down in Cincinnati.  Marjie and Amy will be running their first one and I'm going along to provide as much oink-motivation as I can to make sure their curly tails cross that finish line running.  They'd better if they expect me to wear that piggy nose the whole way.  It'll be fun to be down in Cincy for the marathon weekend.  The Pig is one of the best organized marathons I've ever done and it really is a great time.

- Prior plans had me running the MMT 100 two weeks later.  As you know, I withdrew my registration from that event over a month ago.  Today, I have zero regrets and am very glad I bowed out.  Certainly not a popular decision for some folks with an opinion but in the end, it's my 2 legs and my head who has to drive those 2 legs over 100 miles of rocks and it was the right decision for ME.  That's all that matters.  I am rooting for others who will be going and also for some on the waiting list who are nearly in the event, assuming more folks drop out in the last few days while the great refund policy is still in place.


- More exciting for me is the prospect of running my next 100-miler at
Oil Creek this October.  As long as the Navy and my body will allow, I'd love to run Oil Creek each year.  I doubt life will align just right year after year but for now, I'll give it a shot.  The 50K and 100K events are already sold out at Oil Creek and the 100-miler will sell out as well in the not-too-distant future.  61 of 125 available spots have been claimed.  Unlike last year where I stacked event after event and 3 100-milers, 2010 is becoming a year to lay low, run a few key events, help others, and just have fun running when and where I want to with no specific agenda.  That is REALLY nice.  It's nice, too, to watch others setting and achieving their goals. It's my year of decompression and I like it.  It's really provided a nice balance with family, too, and I'm home more which can never hurt.

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Running 101

I seem to be consistently asked more often these days about how to start from ground zero and start to run and lead a healthy lifestyle.  Usually, the end goal is to lose weight, participate in some future race, or just to be healthy.  I recently received another request from a friend I went to high school with and thought that after writing my response to her, it would be good to post it here since it fits within my mission to help and inspire others.  An excerpt of her question is below followed by my response to her.  As always on RTRSBM, these are only my opinions and ones that I have tested for the past 13 years and have worked for me.  From 250 pounds to 190 pounds and 3 100-mile finishes, it has worked for me.  Like all things, it may not work for you!  The key is to research, learn, and find what DOES work for you and DO IT!

Excerpt of Question:


"When the weather gets nicer would you have time/interest in helping me build my endurance to help me run further? I've tried everything & don't know what to do. I feel like I don't accomplish much when I don't have someone "hounding" me & looking over my shoulder so to speak. It really inspires me that Marjie is doing so well with her training for the Pig. She wasn't in any athletics really in school except for Middle school VB I think & I was in every sport known to man but I can't run long distances to save my life. Either I'm just not meant to do it or I'm doing something wrong. I'm no where near the double digits you do, but I'd give anything to work my way there though. I got out of practice. Since then I can't lose weight to save my own life or anyone else's for that matter. Let me know if you're able to help in any way."


My Response:


"
I would say the key ingredients are consistency and accountability. If you're not running/training with anyone to keep you accountable, a written schedule is key. You write, you see it every day, you feel accountable to it. I found a basic half marathon (13.1 miles) training plan. Whether or not you want to run 13.1 miles doesn't matter. The point is that it provides a foundation to grow from and it gives you a road map. It is not set in stone...it is flexible. My recommendation is to look at the schedule, then grab your daily calendar and fit the schedule, per week, onto your calendar. When you see "cross"...that's cross-training. Biking, lifting, or something other than running. The days can all be mixed up to accommodate your life but stick to the key parts of rest days and the mileage. You will notice that it very gradually increases the distance...very gradually. Trust me on this: your body will learn how to go further when increased distance is introduced slowly...it will. Marjie, Bekah, Jim, Bill and countless others are proof. Also, you will notice the plan starts out at 3 miles of running. If you can NOT do this, start by running this way: Run 1 min, walk a minute, repeat. Then run 2min, walk a minute, repeat. Continue this as you increase your running time. By the time you get to 7 or 8 min of running, you will be at a mile. You can also use landmarks like homes, buildings, intersections, or street signs to accomplish the same thing. Do NOT start out with a distance you know you can't cover. That's an express trip to failure and frustration. A little at a time and before you know it, you'll be running 10 miles. You will...trust me.

One principal I teach people which I didn't read anywhere but I believe is critical and one I've been using for years and use it today from any distance of 6 miles to 100 miles is letting your breathing dictate your pace. As you are running, close your mouth completely. If you are instantly unable to do so, you are running too fast. From time to time, I do this while running to get a check at my effort level. It's great for increasing endurance over the long haul. If you can't close your mouth and breathe through your nose, you are working too hard. If you can, you are at a "steady state" of running and will have increased endurance. Over time, your pace will increase as your body "learns" as well as the distance. Your body is an incredibly smart machine. It is very teachable but as with many things, must be done slowly or injury/frustration will result.

I'm not going to preach diet but I will tell you that your diet will directly impact the quality of your runs...usually the next day's run. Eat like crap and don't expect the "fuel" needed to propel you to be quality, either. It's like putting contaminated fuel in your car and expecting it to run like a top. Not gonna happen! Also, increase your water consumption greatly. Most people shy away from water thinking "If I drink more, I'll retain more and will be bloated." In reality, the opposite is true. Once you start consistently start drinking more water, your body will realize this and release water thereby creating a sort of flushing effect. You will feel better, run better, have a better complexion, etc. Your body's #1 ingredient is water so replenishing your stores of water constantly is a key cornerstone to it all. If you saw me on a daily basis, you'd know that as common as having my cell phone with me to keep me connected to the world is having my 1 gallon jug of water. It goes everywhere with me.

I hope this helps! Read, write it down, commit! No excuses!"

Monday, April 12, 2010

M-Cubed for 4/12/2010

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

- BIRTHDAY WEEK!!!  WOO HOO!!!  The best part?  Friday.  That's my birthday and the day I
get to run my age in miles.  If you didn't catch the post I put up over the weekend, look after this post for the route I planned.  Just like last year, I'll get my girls on the bus with the goal of being back to my house before they get home at the end of the day.  I shouldn't have a problem as long as I keep my tail movin'!  I'm as excited or more for this run than a lot of races I pin a number on for.  Strange, don't ya think?!  Here's hoping for sunny skies!

- I know many of my friends wear the
Brooks Cascadia trail shoes.  As part of my Brooks ID sponsorship, I got a pair.  I LOVE these shoes!  They are so comfortable and full of cushion.  I wish I hadn't waited so long to get a pair.  I don't think I'd wear them on a very rocky course due to minimal toe protection but for everything else (the majority of my trail runs),  they are perfect.  Awesome mesh upper which allows for maximum water flow when I have to go through water and some really aggressive tread below.  No complaints!

- "You know, he runs 40 miles at a time."  That's what Cheryl was told by someone at church when she was telling them who was adopting Gunner, the black lab who we'll add to our family at the end of this week...maybe after my run on Friday.  Cheryl was saying how I want to run with Gunner and the "concerned" party was letting Cheryl know just how far I run sometimes.  No worries!!!  Gunner and I will only take hikes for awhile with some running thrown in here and there...on the trails, of course.


- Speaking of Gunner, he's awesome!  We visited him for the 2nd time last night to drop off a chew toy and old towel from home.  The idea is that his sister (Chloe) and his mom's (Chelsea) scent will get on it so when we bring him home, he'll have some familiarity to cling on to to make the transition easier.  We also dropped off a bag of food we'll be using so Cheryl can start transitioning him to it through the week.  Dog food research was exhausting!  So many options and even more opinions on what to and what
not to feed him.  Just like I watch what I eat and don't eat trash, I want the same for him.  I quickly learned that corn as the #1 ingredient along with wheat products and animal "by-products" (ground up pieces of animals--yuck!) were things common in the cheap brands and were things to stay away from.  The search then went to what's affordable...yet quality.  You know, like buying a Honda!!!  (my Honda friends understand that joke)  We found ourselves choosing Diamond dog food, in particular this large breed puppy Lamb & Rice Formula.

- Haven't seen Gunner yet?  
Here are some pics from our first two visits.  He's awesome!


- My Navy weekend this past weekend was cut short for a few reasons...unnecessary to go over here on my blog, but it gave me all day yesterday to be HOME.  So thankful for that.  Before so, I got to meet Mike K. down north of Columbus for a brand new trail run in Alum Creek State Park.  We met at the base of a dam that holds back a reservoir which is surrounded by the park.  We ran (except for the beginning mile and last mile) on gorgeous mountain bike trails for 11 miles.  I think I took my best picture ever during this run of a flower.  This time of year has plenty of opportunities to capture Spring springing and I'm constantly on a search for this God-ordained beauty on the trails.  The picture is below and here are a few other really good pics from our run and the trails we ran on.  One of my favorite things about these trails were the multitude of little wooden bridge crossings and the quick dips and rises on the trail...like a fast roller-coaster.  We hope to re-visit the trails in May and cover the north section of the park where the bridal trails are.  


- Remember the telescoping 20' flagpole I put up to fly Old Glory a few weeks back?  Well, we've had some really windy days to test it out and I have to say, I am 110% satisfied with my purchase.  It has done extremely well and that flag NEVER gets tangled or wrapped up.  Plus, I get a smile on my face every time I look up at it waving in the wind or hear it waving through our bedroom walls.


- To all of you heading to Bean Town and to the Forget the PR 50K this weekend down at Mohican State Park, HAVE A BLAST!!!  I've never been to either but I know both are great experiences.  I'll be watching as many of you and your results as I can keep track of.  Get 'er done!!!!

- For my trail running peeps...what are your plans for the first weekend in December this year?  Open calendar as of now?  Let me fill that for you.  Write down the Bigfoot 50K.  It's a new 50K in Salt Fork State Park which is an extremely easy drive down I-77, northeast of Columbus.  Even better and more of a draw is the 3-Person Relay option.  You don't need to be able to run 31.2 miles to participate.  Get 2 of your trail running friends and each run 10+ miles for the relay!  Trails are typically in very good shape in early December since the snow has yet to come much at all...if any.  
Here's the website and the Facebook Fan Page if you want to learn more.  I'll be there!

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

37 Mile 37th Birthday Run Route

Only 6 days to go!  Some go to Boston to run the Boston Marathon, others will be running next Friday, but I am really looking forward to my own "official" event.  So far, registration is full!  ONE!  I had a feeling that I was creating a potential ritual last year as I ran 36 miles on my 36th birthday (last year's report).  Well, let's give it one more go for 37 miles this year.

Last last year, the routine is this: get my girls on the school bus and be on the road running around 8am and be back in time for them to get off the bus.  As before, I will leave from Rootstown and spend the first 7 miles with Marjie and Amy as they will be running their last long run of 12 miles before the Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon next month.  After I say my goodbyes, I'll head into Brimfield following a rural, rolling, scenic route that will actually include parts of the Buckeye Trail that are on Lynn Road.  Leaving Brimfield, I'll enter Kent, following Franklin Street past my favorite Kent restaurant, The Pufferbelly.  This will be around Mile 14 and I'm going to stop in the new Acorn Alley just up Route 59 to catch an early lunch at the Pita Pit.  They have some wonderful wheat, vegetarian pitas that I love.  After a brief stop/lunch, I'll head back down towards the Pufferbelly and down to the viewing area besides the Cuyahoga River.  Coming up from being riverside, I'll run by the Kent Library then head east on Route 59 again and turning left on Water St towards Brady Lake Road.  I'll take Brady Lake Rd. leaving the downtown Kent area, all the way to Ravenna.  Once I get to the Balloon-a-Fair grounds, I'll re-join Route 59 and head to the Portage County courthouse and the Veterans Memorial.  Just across the street is my barber shop so I'll be sure to stop in a see Heather and DJ at DJ's Barber Shop.  That should be around Mile 22+.  After sneaking a pic of Heather, I'll return to Route 59 via the neighborhoods until I get to New Milford Road and then head south towards Rootstown.  Entering Rootstown, I'll stay on New Milford until reaching Sandy Lake Road where I'll turn right and head to Billocks' Ice Cream.  Doubtful I'll have any ice cream at this time, but I'll certainly stop by later in the day!  (are you a Fan, yet???  Become one here!)  Crossing Prospect St., I'll continue on through the "S" curves on Sandy Lake Rd until I reach the 5-corner stop then turn left on Rootstown Road.  About a mile later will include a few quick stops as I stop to see my parents, my brother's (Jim) house, and my Grandma Mary's house. All very extremely brief stops but it's part of the journey!  Once I've said my "Hello" and "Goodbye's", I'll rejoin the Buckeye Trail on Lynn Rd and head east back to New Milford Rd where I'll turn right and head south to Cook Road.  Turning right, I'll return to my subdivision where I live and BAM!  37 MILES!!!  
Yes, I'll take lots of pictures.  Yes, I'm a bit crazy.  Yes, I refuse to be normal.  What better way to spend my birthday?!  That pecan ball later that day is going to taste soooooo good!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Burning River 100 Race Morning, 3am

I couldn't help but be reminded of this as I headed out this morning for a run. Temps in the upper 60s to low 70s, mild humidity, a light breeze blowing, and stars filling the sky.

This has been the setup for the past 2 years at Falls River Square in Cuyahoga Falls, OH where runners meet at the Finish Line of the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run, to board school buses for the hour long drive to the starting line at Squire's Castle. There is something very powerful about standing on the Finish Line and knowing you have until 11am the NEXT day to get back here, covering 100 miles, by foot. The journey, not only physical, but mental stares you straight in the face. Emotions flare, scenarios are played out, and you continue to figure out how on earth you're going to do it. Make whatever plans you wish because in the end, a story will be written like none you had previously imagined. The 100 mile endurance run is like none other and the Finish Line is only one part of it. It starts at 3am race morning and includes every moment thereafter until you cross that Finish Line.

It's days like this that remind me of that morning, that journey, that I hold true and special. No one can take that from me and I will never forget it. I hope you find something like this to grab onto and drive you to goals previously thought impossible and achieve them...then reflect back on them forevermore.

Monday, April 5, 2010

M-Cubed for 4/5/2010

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

- I hope you all had a wonderful Easter holiday. I was amazed to see how many were out doing things other than celebrating Easter yesterday morning. For my family, we regularly attend church and Easter Sunday is no different. For others, it's the one day they attend out of the year and most churches set up extra chairs on this day or add a service to accommodate the increased attendance. Our small church in Randolph, OH started out with the men serving a SONrise breakfast to the church at 9am followed by a wonderful service. The sanctuary was filled with the aroma of fresh flowers as it was decorated with flowers purchased from members in honor of passed loved ones. The color, the aroma...it was beautiful. Pastor Bill delivered a wonderful sermon, too. Easter: it is the cornerstone of my faith. Without the factual resurrection of Christ on the 3rd day following his brutal crucifixion, the Christian faith falls flat. We read the story again as a family after lunch, working our way through "Resurrection Eggs" that are geared towards children and explain the path to the Cross and how the tomb was empty on the 3rd day. Although made for kids, those eggs have an impact as we passed around the linen, the nails, and crown of thorns...feeling the sharpness of them. It was also great to see that final egg....empty...representing the tomb that was found empty because He had risen. He had risen, indeed!

- April showers bring May flowers. No kidding! The grass needs cut already. Oh well, I much rather get out the John Deere instead of the Toro snow-blower...any day!

- 74.5 miles last week. Wow. For some, that's not a lot. For me, that's really high. My running week runs from Sunday - Saturday so that includes the Fools 50K. Definitely taking a relaxing down week this week.

- About a week ago, I thought it would be fun to run an easy 20 miles on the Buckeye Trail this past Saturday. The forecast showed for lots of sun and warm temperatures so I figured the trails would be in great condition. I got the word out for the "Easter Egg 20" and had about 25 RSVPs. I showed up and somewhere around 40 runners showed up! WOW! That was awesome to see so many out just before sunrise to jump aboard the Buckeye Trail. I had a great run and did my best to make it around to as many folks as possible. As usual, I took lots of pictures. Check them out here.

- Driving down to the Valley on Saturday, I thought about how that trail (or any trail, actually) just sits there 24 x 7 x 365, changes through the seasons, looks different, feels different, but it's always there waiting. Faithful, it is. I thought about how much it gives back to us and changes us. I heard again from so many runners who had a spectacular time out there and how much they loved the trails. It just gives back so much more than your typical road run. Nothing against road running, of course, but the trails really do dig much deeper and have a very deep impact on people. I just think that's great and I suppose that's the main reason I was so excited to see so many folks show up for a last-minute group run. I can't help but think about a friend of mine, Mark Z. and his dog, Benny. Mark hosts the Morning Show on WCRF, 103.3 FM everyday and while Mark does not run, he and Benny get out nearly every day on the trails up north hiking and spending time together. He definitely "gets it" as well.

- Speaking of dogs, there's a chance we may be adopting a black lab. We hope to see him this week. His name is "Gunner." His mom surprised her parents who didn't know she was pregnant and through a tough birth for most of the litter, only 2 out of the 7 puppies lived. One will stay at home with the mom, a English Chocolate Lab, and the other, Gunner, is the one who may become the newest member of our family. Stay tuned...

- I ran my first marathon in 1997. To date, I've got 25 under my belt. It wasn't until 2007 that I ran my first ultra-marathon and got into trail-running. I don't know how it escaped me for 10 years. I then progressed slowly in the length of the races and hit my threshold of 100 miles last year. Trail ultra-marathons are certainly my favorite events to participate in and train for. Anyway, I was just thinking about how some people these days are running a marathon or two, then dive head first into the ultra events. So fast, not spread out or anything. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it at all, but I think there are so many great experiences I had running all those marathons over 10 years, traveling around, collecting the medals...I remember them ALL. Someday, I want to start my collection up again. For this season, though, I'm doing what my passion is driving me to do. I'll never forget the allure and draw of the road marathon, though. Nothing like it out there and hometown events like the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA and modest-sized marathons like the Richmond Marathon are ones I have to return to. Of course, good 'ol Akron will always be one to return to.

- I finally finished my house...6 years later. Nothing construction related, but I finally got my long-wanting flag pole up. I found this telescoping pole through an exhibitor at the Ohio State Fair last year. It has no ropes or pulleys to tangle, is made of high-strength aluminum, has no maintenance on it---ever, it's made here in the USA, and has these D-ring-shaped rotational swivels that the flag attaches to so the flag can go in any direction and never wrap around the pole. I'm very happy with it and got it illuminated with a solar-powered spotlight last night. Not very bright but enough to give Old Glory some light overnight. Here's a video I put together of the installation start to finish.

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!