Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Morning Trumpet Performance

I'm 37. At age 17 and several years leading up to that, I played the trumpet. Leaving high school in 1991 and joining the Navy, I packed it up. Several years later in the late 1990s, I joined an orchestra through my home church in Virginia Beach, VA. That was an amazing experience filled with lots of brass and woodwinds and the opportunity to play with Christian music artists who visited our church, put on grand Christmas programs, and grow as a trumpeter. That's also when Marjie found a beautiful, now 25-year old, silver, Bach Stradivarius trumpet. A masterpiece. A man had passed away who had been in a local orchestra in Norfolk, VA and his family was selling off his assets. Today, it is in the same beautiful condition. In 2001, I left the Navy and packed up my horn. Many years passed and recently, we joined a new church in small, rural Randolph, Ohio...less than 10 minutes from our house. The church building itself is over 150 years old and still has many of the original items from the beginning. It is exactly what you imagine when you think "old school." This church also is welcoming on those few occasions each year to welcome in a sense of patriotism into the service. We were, after all, founded on Christian principles and our own Constitution was written with the written Word as a guide. With that being said, I wiped the dust from my Bach, found some music, teamed up with Amy (who plays the euphonium) and Jeff (our pianist), and put together some patriotic music to start off Sunday morning service on this Memorial Day 2010 weekend. I was also encouraged to wear my uniform so I took that opportunity to wear my seldom-worn Dress Whites...or as some folks refer to them, my "choker" whites. In my opinion, the sharpest Navy uniform there is! Thanks to Marjie, I have some video to share with you. It's a little tough to hear Amy at times since her bell faces up and her sound is much lower. As you can tell, there's no doubt when the toots are coming from my horn. :-) Enjoy and Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I am Blessed to be a Runner

I am blessed to be a runner...

4:30am and I'm out the door
Stars fill the sky...millions of them
The fragrance of Spring still lingers...
The trees are silent...the birds have not yet awoke
The only sound is my breathing and each foot-strike
My headlamp is off, my pupils are dilated
I stare at the freshly painted white stripes
I cross a creek and hear the water trickling over the rocks
I see the morning fog laying in the rolling valleys
I begin to hear the chirping of birds
Dawn, a light blue color in the eastern sky begins
Only a runner gets to see all of this
As dawn is witnessed second by second,
The sky changes in the east as a light orange blends with blue
The birds' song continues and grows
I pass through the valleys' fog and feel the coolness on my skin
I see the silhouette of the trees against
the backdrop of the morning dawn
I continue heading east towards home
The anthem of my feathered friends grows
The sky brightens as the stars fade
I am home

I am blessed...

...to be a runner.

Harvest Hills Marathon Report

It sorta went like this...no, it went exactly like this:

I arrived at work on Monday morning with not only the typical Monday morning blues but a Monday following a weekend with the Navy. These days are some of the most difficult as I go from being in uniform, in leadership, and serving in a capacity that I truly believe in to my civilian job where I am in no leadership and am more of a number on a roster and not much more. The de-programming is tough.

I decided that Tuesday was to be a "mental health day" and took vacation.

I awoke on Tuesday and the first thought was "I want to run a marathon today." Why? Partly, I just wanted to see if I still had a 4hr marathon in me, with no notice, on a whim.

The craziness continued by my instantly-created route. 10.91 laps of my 2.4 mile neighborhood. My mailbox would be my aid station. Hammer's Heed and Clif Shot Bloks filled the newspaper slots.

3hrs, 56min, 8sec later, I finished the first...and last Harvest Hills Marathon. It was a great day off! The irony is that I called it a mental health day and I'd bet that 99% of the population would say that I need another mental health day for doing it. Bring it!

It's good to know that I still have what it takes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Takin' a Break


It's clear (to me) that I need to step away from RTRSBM for awhile and hang the "Be Right Back" sign. This will be the last post for awhile. I will still sporadically post tidbits at my RTRSBM Facebook Fan Page, though.

Since there will be no M-Cubed tomorrow, I have to say Congratulations to the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Miler finishers. Bob "Gombu" Combs, Jim "Slim" Harris, Brian "Pebble" Musick, Roy Heger, Dave "Have You Got Anything Left" Peterman, and Kevin Martin. You all serve as an inspiration to me and I never stopped thinking about you guys from when you started your travels to Virginia a few days ago through this evening. My hat is off to you all. Terri, even though you didn't get that buckle, you're a rock star!! You inspire me daily!

To all you Cleveland Marathoners and 1/2 Marathoners, it was a rare, beautiful day for this race today and so many of you conquered the race and ROCKED CLEVELAND! Way to go!

To you all, take care of yourselves, enjoy the summer, and as always, Happy Trails!

Monday, May 10, 2010

M-Cubed for 5/10/2010

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

- 50mph+ wind gusts all weekend along and my Titan flagpole is still standing straight up. Lots of bending and scary moments but I suppose the brochure was right! It can withstand it all! Long fly Old Glory!

- My youngest turned 7 and my only surviving grandparent turned 85 this weekend. We had a lot of Billock's Homemade Ice Cream. :-)

- Lots of good luck to a bunch of my friends headed to the George Washington National Forest of northwest Virginia for this Saturday/Sunday's MMT 100. Again, I made the right call to withdraw from this event. I'm barely in a condition to cover 50K right now, let alone the hardest 100 miler east of the Mississippi. Run strong, my friends!

- One of the things I asked Marjie yesterday on Mother's Day was "If you could select the time I run today, when would it be?" Being Mother's Day, I thought it best to clear a running time through her first. :-) She said that after lunch was best. So after washing her very filthy Honda, I took off to nearby West Branch State Park. Again, I am amazed at how local runners never take me up on running out there. There are some great, technical, muddy, beautiful trails out there and a lot of the famed Buckeye Trail. Not too far at 11 miles, but lots of fun. I came home with a bit of blood drawn, abrasions on my arm and leg, and some really great photos. Here is the Spring Trail Album. The newest photos are #50 through #80. Number 50 is my personal favorite. The color and detail of this photo is amazing.

- Marjie, the girls, and I all joined our new church yesterday. I really love our new church and the people who make it up. It is quite the opposite of years gone by. Since 1991 when we left our hometown here for the Navy, our "typical" church was on the large side with a slant to contemporary music and multiple Sunday morning services. Our new church is in a turn-of-the-century building and is quite small with the original (I think) pews and traditional feel. The community, though, is alive and vibrant and our girls absolutely love it...as we do. It even got me to pull out my trumpet from years ago and I'm getting my chops back in shape for a Memorial Day Weekend patriotic duet. One little side benefit: the monthly mens' breakfast. A few of the ladies make us homemade sausage and biscuits, scrambled eggs, and bacon. It is W O N D E R F U L !!!! Plus, it's a great time to get together with the other men of the church for some fellowship and study.

- This Friday evening, I get to run at Salt Fork State Park with Brandon Huff, co-race director of the Bobcat Trail Marathon and the Bigfoot 50K and 3-Person Relay. The Bigfoot 50K is 3 10+ mile loops in Salt Fork and we'll be running one loop to have a meet-n-greet with the course. Of course, I plan to take lots of photos to share this course with the world in an effort to best promote our newest 50K on the scene. The Bigfoot 50K (and relay) will be on Sunday, December 5th and registration is open!

- Are you taking advantage of Starbucks' Frappuccino Happy Hour that is going on right now? From May 7-16, from 3pm-5pm every day, their Frappuccinos are half off. It's a marketing campaign aimed at their new make-your-own drinks. I had my first last Friday and made it a soy, white mocha Frappuccino with chocolate syrup lining the inside of the cup. It was dreamy. Oh so good! Plus, I love things that are 1/2 off.

- Since last Monday's M-Cubed, I published the May edition of the Western Reserve Trail Running newsletter. If you missed it, you can view the online version here. Believe it or not, 920 unique subscribers now get it! Even more amazing, only 9 of the 920 bounced when I sent it. That's an incredible success rate and testament to how much trail running has boomed here in Northeast Ohio! Get dirty!!!

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Love...

birds singing when I wake up

a full, bright moon on a morning run

when my Siamese cat crawls up on my chest wantin' some love...his name is Berkeley, by the way

old, worn-out clothes that have a softness that money can't buy

friends that feel like family

listening to talent on a piano

the peacefulness and power of classical music

my 25-year old Bach Stradivarius silver trumpet

a new pair of running shoes that have the pillow-top mattress feel

the pudding dessert that Marjie makes for me on special occasions in an 9x13 pan

watching the sunrise over my left shoulder as I drive to work each day

driving through the country and seeing old and new barns and American flags waving in the breeze

spending hours upon hours alone with Marjie...doing something, everything...or nothing at all

putting on my uniform and serving and wish I could do it 100 times more often

Marjie's giggle/laugh

the genuine nature and simplicity of my children and how brutally honest they are

blonde hair and blue eyes

a super-tight haircut and wishes it wouldn't grow

a soft, non-muddy, rooty, rocky, stream-crossing trail run at sunrise

toenails that fall off...or in necessary times, that need ripped off with care

to be told I'm doing a good job when I am and told I'm not doing a good job when I'm not

white corn chips, salsa, and lite ranch swirled in...all while I watch 24, House, The Office, or Heroes

my little Eee NetBook

being out to see on a Navy warship...the smell of jetfuel as a fighter jet takes off of the flight deck...watching the sun rise or set over the ocean...

a freshly cut and manicured lawn with perfectly edged sides and smooth top

living on a budget...which I would have never said before 4 months ago

my old Keen sandals and old Ecco dress shoes

the feel of Smartwool socks in the winter after a long day at work

when a military aircraft flies over my home...ahhh, the sweet sound of FREEDOM

keeping in touch with friends from Virginia and hope I can see them more often some day

living in a world of transparency where I can be who I am without fear of retribution and people can either choose to look...or look away...real, raw, and honest

Marjie

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Certain Inalienable...Entitlements?

The Declaration of Independence says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Notice that Creator is capitalized thus implying the reference to God. Therefore, we can derive from this that inalienable means God-given...or God-ordained. Not by man or government, but by God. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. They are rights, too...to everyone. God knows no color, boundary, societal rules/restrictions. All men and women have the Right to pursue these inalienable rights.

What about entitlements? I have come to despise this word. It refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit. Thus, we can say that to feel "entitled" is to feel "deserving" of something...right? But is it a Right?

There are many good versions of entitlements. For example: you spend your entire life working hard and paying taxes and paying into Social Security. You have essentially paid into a form of insurance and should you become disabled or reach retirement age, you are "entitled" to an income stream. You did, after all, purchase that "insurance policy." You can even take entitlement to eating at a restaurant. Most would agree that the higher the cost, the more and better service we are "entitled" to. We did pay for it, right? Right? So yes...there are many very good, wholesome ways to spin entitlement and make it good. I have nothing wrong with that at all. I, too, feel entitled to the same things.

A few days ago, my town failed miserably to pass a school levy. I don't know how many registered voters we have in our town of nearly 8000, but a pathetic showing of only 1800+ showed up to vote for our emergency levy for our school system. Of those who came out, the levy was defeated 2 to 1. Just over 600 residents voted FOR their local school system...their own kids...their future. I know for a fact that many of those who voted 'no' feel that our towns' kids are "entitled" to a quality education free of political propaganda, a dangerous environment, and a departure from the ideals that our country was founded on. Those same people speak from one side of their mouth that we are "entitled" while the other side stays silent but has hands that vote against a levy to keep teachers from losing their jobs and programs being cut. This hypocritical showing sickened me and angered me through my morning run yesterday morning. I can't remember the last time I was so angry. It infuriates me how so many people expect something....heck, EVERYTHING...for nothing. That, my friends, is the nasty and disgusting side of entitlement. It, in my opinion, is running wild in our country on many, many fronts. We have a truly blessed nation with far more than the overwhelming majority of the world. However, so many people are unwilling to work hard for what they want or feel entitled to. So many just hold out their hand and expect something...something free and of no cost to them to magically fall into their hand. Once received, it has little value. What once was something felt entitled to now has little worth. The "buzz" has lifted and more is wanted....and more....and more. Work hard for something, though...and suddenly value fills the prize and it is cherished more than ever.

Honestly, I could rant for a very long time and go into an endless sermon on the heavily abused sense of entitlement in our country and all the areas it exists. If you don't see it, choose to. It's all around. You'll see it the next time you are waiting in line at the checkout at the grocery store in one form or another...or at a restaurant...or in the workplace (my personal 'favorite'). It's everywhere. All I ask of you is to not get sucked into the gross, nasty side of misplaced entitlement. Work hard. Earn your way. Give back to others in need.

Oh yea...the next time you feel the ugly side of entitlement creep in on you, think about that soldier thousands of miles away who is laying down his/her life to give you the freedom to think and/or act that way. We have Rights...certain inalienable ones...Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. They are not entitlements...they are yours...paid for by the blood of those who have worn and continue to wear the cloth of this country. Don't ever take them for granted and don't trample their service by abusing them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

M-Cubed for 5/3/2010

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

- Decompression. Needed. Now. Overload. Imminent. Another weekend away from home and another Monday slapping me square in the face. So not ready to kick off this week. So not ready!

- Marjie ran her first 1/2 marathon yesterday at the Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon in Cincinnati. Never before in about 13 years of road racing have a I seen such conditions at the start of a race. Lightning filling the sky, buckets of rain pouring from the sky, and everyone soaked to the bone without running a step yet. However, the organizers of the Pig were well prepared as the pre-race music continued to play and updates from the National Weather Service were passed to the record crowd. 26,000 runners participated as the combined total from the Saturday/Sunday events.
- I am a bit bummed to know that so many of my friends were at the Pig and I didn't see them but still had great times down there. With so many runners sardined into the starting area and the hotels scattered between Ohio and Kentucky, it's impossible to see everyone. Congrats to you if you went and survived the soaking!

- Friday was a day off and was spent in the upper 70s in the Valley on the Brandywine, Valley Bridle, and Buckeye Trails with the Laurie and Kim. Welcome back heat and humidity! I was cooked at 14 miles. Not a good sign of endurance for sure but you have to have these kind of runs to get used to the head/humidity again. At least I do. Thanks for the company, ladies!

- I'm very proud of Marjie. She had some leg issues creep up after she did her 9 mile run about a month ago and wasn't able to complete her last few long runs. Still, she showed up at the starting line, soaked to the core, and with a smile on her face. One thing she hadn't done before is run in a constant downpour so the COTTON capri running pants she had on became lead weights. She first made them into make-shift shorts but they wouldn't stay up. I then got the idea of using our 2 lower pins from our bibs to hold them up in the front and back. That worked great and they stopped being such a problem. Nothing like soaked cotton flaps slapping against your calves when you're trying to run. Cotton? I had no idea what she packed for the race. Lesson learned but still, it didn't derail her from her goal of that finish line. Way to go, Babe! I'm glad I could be there with you!

- Could Mother's Day really be here already?! Oh geez. Just as we are coming up back-to-back weekends on the road (Chicago then Cincinnati), next weekend includes my daughter's 7th birthday, my only grandma's 85th birthday, and Mother's Day! I am hoping for a beautiful sunny, dry weekend...and some great sunsets with the smell of the grill out back.

- It seems like nearly every day I am thankful I withdrew from the MMT100 which takes place in under 2 weeks. I am so under-trained, it is pathetic. I am equally thankful that someone who IS ready gets the opportunity to tackle those rocks and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. All the very best to any of you heading to northern Virginia for the Rock Dance.

- Looking for the May edition of the Western Reserve Trail Running newsletter? Patience, my friends. Patience. Let's just say I have it all...but it resembles many of the partially built puzzles that my girls work on at home. You can see the picture on the box and all the pieces are laying there, but it's not quite one complete unit, yet. Can I please have one more day of weekend, please. No? Alrighty, then.


- For Hope: Bam, Bam, Boogety!!!! YOU DID IT!!! Hard training certainly does pay off. In her cheetah print (or was it leopard?) and looking as graceful as ever, Hope qualified for the Boston Marathon in that deluge yesterday. Hope, a fine planner, had the word "Boston" attached to the underside of her running skirt so she could celebrate in a one-of-a-kind way at the finish "swine." After finishing the 1/2 marathon with Marjie and escorting her close to the Kentucky state line where our hotel was, I literally sprinted back to the marathon course (which was not easy due to the road system and all the barricades) to try and catch her at the finish...assuming she ran her plan and was going to qualify. Just as I passed the 26 mile marker, there she was! I leaped out onto the course (probably scaring her to death!) and ran with her about a quarter mile while trying to clean the moisture off the lens of my waterproof Canon. I HAD to get the "Boston Flash!" As she came within a tenth of a mile of the finish, up came the skirt and a gold BOSTON was revealed. I raised my hands up to get the crowd going (while also pointing to her booty) and nearly missed the picture. But I got it!!!! Great job, Hope! Nearly 3 minutes to spare, too!!!! AWESOME!!!

- And just for the record, I wore my piggy nose from the moment I left the hotel room around 5:45am until I stepped back in the room 11am. I had people pointing to me all day long and saying things like "Aren't you being a little bit nosey?" Dad! Look at his nose!" "Can I take your picture?" All I ever did was snort back at them all unless they were a kid along the course. With that, I gave them a high five with my hoof...and a snort. I'm so glad I wore that piggy nose. Snort. (Hope, you own me a dolla!!!)

- My waterproof Canon sure did come in handy, too. Here are 42 pics that made the cut during the race. Enjoy!

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!