Sunday, March 25, 2012

Impromptu 20 and "Eddie Vedder"

Picking up where I left off yesterday, the day ended up being just as perfect as it could be. After a morning on the trails (mud, water, the works!), sushi and Starbucks, and installing a new garbage disposal (I can barely swing a hammer and "I" got that done in 20min flat!), we enjoyed a great evening at a winery about 20 minutes south of us. It's become one of our favorite things to do on a Saturday night if our girls are staying at Grandma and Grandpa's. They always have live music, year-round, and great food/wine. Last night was a guy and his guitar playing lots of cover tunes....kinda sounded like Eddie Vedder. I had but one request (Jason Mraz' "I Won't Give Up") but he didn't know it. After toasting our way through Redneck Red, we ended the night with some warm strawberry rhubarb pie. What a night AND day.

Her desire for today was 5 miles but I wanted much more so I set my alarm for 4am and was on the road at 5:12am. The plan was to head out for 5 miles with her at 7:15am so my goal? 15 miles before sunrise. I bee-lined it over probably the hilliest street in my town and into the college town nearby then headed on back when it was time for the turn. I was averaging about 7:44 a mile but the return trip over those monster hills slowed me to 8:08 per mile. I did rack up a 1/2 marathon split of 1:46 which I was very happy with. Back at home at 7:15am, we headed on out on our normal course for an easy 5 while the birds sung LOUD. We even saw another bluebird along the way. The country agricultural landscape is sure getting green with lots of purple shades throughout. We did comment this morning how we run nearly the same route every single time yet we never grow tired of it. It's just so peaceful out there together.

Now for those 20 miles, they beat me up. The 20 a week ago felt really good but today, I was just pooped. I'm still happy with the 30+ since yesterday and will just relax today and keep that water intake going. My minimal Brooks PureConnects were my ride yet again today and they were great as always.  I did schedule a couples massage for a week from now after next Sunday's Fools 50K so that'll be nice.

Have a great Sunday, y'all!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Trails and Sushi

It's just been one of those days where everything has gone just right. We slept in then decided we really did want to be on the trails so after a couple of amazing eggs on toast, we headed to Pine Lane within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for miles on the Buckeye Trail. I love Marjie's attitude: she simply doesn't care where or how far we're going...just as long as we're together and regardless of how muddy it gets or how many hills we crest, she won't complain. Perfect. As we hit the trail late (9:30ish), it was MUDDY. Her IT band has been giving her issues which the mud doesn't help but it was feeling OK today. We had great miles and great conversation with the occasional kiss thrown in. (running with your wife of nearly 20 years has it's benefits, ya know!) She didn't know the plan as we ran but I developed it as we progressed. The rain was holding off, it was a comfy 62F, and the clouds were heavy. Spring sure was springing, though. Daffodils and all kinds of color lined the trail. Here's one shot I grabbed on my phone as we passed by.
As we passed the 4 mile point, we continued on up the Rollercoaster Hill (yes, that means steep) and then down the Piano Keys (88 wooden steps...get it?!). Eventually, we passed Blue Hen Falls and continued to follow the water to the little-known Buttermilk Falls. It's a gorgeous cascading waterfall full of countless layers of slate. We first stood at the top of the waterfall then headed on down to the base. Here are a few photos. The first few are from the top then at the base.
Standing at the top of Buttermilk Falls (click for high res version)

Underwater in our Brooks trail shoes at the top (click for high res version)

Buttermilk Falls from the base (click for high res version)
After Buttermilk, we kept our feet submerged and followed the water behind the Boston Mills Ski Resort and emerged from the rear of their property which put us back at the Boston Store where we headed on back to Pine Lane. Thanks to a stream just before the end, we washed up then wrapped our run with 10.35 miles. It didn't really matter what we ran today...just being out there together was perfect, regardless.

Lunch...oh, yes. I think I said "You cool with me handling lunch today? My choice?" No objection by her so I headed into Hudson and to Heinen's, the local "high end" grocery store. They have a sushi chef making sushi all day. My idea was a few orders of sushi, enjoyed at the Starbucks down the street. I had a free "anything" coupon for Starbucks that I wanted to use. So after selecting our sushi and picking up a few other items, we headed on down for our venti, soy, quad mocha. I always try to ramp up the free drinks to see how close I can get to 7 bucks. Today, it was a $6.50 drink for free. It was the perfect companion to the sushi that we enjoyed on their outdoor patio.
Raw salmon and avocado
After enjoying a light lunch and caffeine, we continued the romance at Lowe's where we picked up a new garbage disposal. Ours bit it this week and since Lowe's gives military discounts at all times, we headed on in, with the intention of purchasing and getting it installed. Thank goodness I passed on the installation, though. It took me a whoppin' 20 minutes to replace it. InSinkerator sure did it right when it comes to "EASY" for the guy who can barely swing a hammer.

Tonight? It's looking good so far. :-)

Happy Trails!

Friday, March 23, 2012

BT50K and the Run Between the Suns

Last night at 7pm, registration opened for the 2012 Buckeye Trail 50K. I hadn't decided to do this race  until yesterday afternoon but looking back on history this morning, I'm glad I took the plunge. This year's race is on July 14th. Exactly 5 years prior on July 14, 2007, I ran my first ultra-marathon at that race. I nearly passed out on the trail...I remember the heat well. I shaved a half hour off my time in 2008, two weeks prior to my first DNF (did not finish) at the Burning River 100 where I dropped out at Mile 55. In 2009 as I swore revenge on the Burning River 100 so I did not run the BT50K to try and prevent a lack of recovery between the two events. I ended up getting my buckle at Burning River in 2009. :-) In 2010, I returned and it was a TOUGH race. I really struggled and was heavily under-trained. It was my slowest 50K ever. I did capture one photo that made it into UltraRunning Magazine, though, of local legend, Ron Ross (see below). :-) In 2011, I was a few 7000 miles away but rooted folks on from afar via Facebook. This year, I want to rekindle the memories of where it all began.
I certainly don't want to replay history, though. I want this year to be fulfilling in every other way but the finish line. Of course, I want that great finisher's medal and another 50K finish, but I want to enjoy the friends on the trail and more than anything, the trail itself and the mortal ability to accomplish the distance. It's amazing what the human body can do. I am already on track for being lighter and faster than ever so hopefully as the Spring emerges and Summer arrives, I continue that trend.

I'm also looking at another race that precedes this one two weeks prior, up in the northwest area of Pennsylvania, near the Oil Creek State Park. It's a 12 hour timed event in a park that travels a 5 mile trail over and over again for 12 hours. I've always wanted to do a 12 or 24 hour timed event where. It's a true test of managing your nutrition, pace, etc. to efficiently pass the time and miles. It's dubbed the Run Between the Suns (details here). It's a first-year event and one I'm heavily considering. It circles a lake in Two Mile Run County Park. I haven't signed up yet but leaning towards it. Early registration doesn't end until May 15th so no worries.

Outside of these two events, I don't see much else happening this summer as for race registrations. "That'll do, Pig."

Have a great weekend and Happy Trails!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

20 Weeks and Counting

It's hard to believe that twenty weeks today, I packed my seabag one last time in a hotel room in Gulfport, MS, laced up my Army combat boots one last time, and boarded a plane bound for HOME. I hadn't been on Ohio soil since April 8, 2011 and had only dreamed about the day I'd set foot on it again. I learned a lot that day and the weeks since. On that day, I learned about true support as I walked off the plane. I saw people that totally surprised me with their presence. I saw signs welcoming me home that were carefully crafted and colored by little ones. I also got more hugs than ever welcoming me home. Most wanted to be there and it was a great feeling. I'm guessing around 50 were at the airport that night around 10pm. Then there was my youngest who at first sight of me, sprinted out of my wife's care, past the Department of Homeland Security guard (who jumped from his chair), and into my arms. I will never forget that moment. Her eyes as big and blue as the sky and tears welling up. Moments later, I held her and my wife and oldest daughter while the crowd kept their distance.

20 weeks have now passed. In Afghanistan, 20 weeks took an eternity. 20 weeks home has gone by in a snap. Life is different now like never before. Many things that mattered a lot matter no more. Gone are the days of running in groups on Saturday mornings and here are early mornings with my wife on country roads. Gone are days I head to my Navy weekends on Friday nights and here are super-early Saturday morning drives to that weekend. Gone are nights watching sitcoms and here are nights talking, walking, and sharing quality time with my wife and girls. Gone are hours on the computer while my family does whatever and here are nights playing Bananagrams on the kitchen table. (a terribly addictive game!) Gone are race entries upon race entries, trying to rack up more finishes. Here now is running for the pure satisfaction of running in its purest form. Gone are days worrying about my weight. Here are days where I weigh nearly my lowest ever yet run slower and less. Gone are days of Kashi cereal for breakfast and mornings alone and here are mornings spent with my bride along with 1 slice of toast and 2 eggs. Gone are the days I fall asleep on the couch and perhaps stay out there for the night. Here are days where we head to bed together and kiss each other goodnight. Gone are the days of doing it all on my own and not looking to Him for help and strength. Here are days where I look alone to Him for everything. Gone are the days that I accept that I will never be good enough as I have believed my entire life. Here are the days of acceptance that I am good enough just as I am.

Life is different. In fact, it's totally overhauled. Practically nothing is the same as it once was. I am thankful, though, for what is true today. Did my deployment "cause" this overhaul. Perhaps indirectly. Is "reintegration" a real issue for the military family today that nearly all of the non-military public is unaware of? Absolutely. You really have no idea until you walk in our shoes. Bottom Line: I am thankful for where I am today, my marriage that is stronger than ever, and my calling as a
husband/father/protector/leader.

So back to running: you may recall a tradition I started back a few years ago. That tradition took a hiatus last year due to being at combat training in South Carolina. That tradition was running my age on my birthday. This year I will hit 39 years of age and the planning has begun to travel the roads yet again, stopping along the way to see friends, family, and familiar places. Fluids, some food, a camera, and
a body that will withstand the rigors of 39 miles of asphalt is all I ask for. Let the planning begin...

Happy Trails, everyone!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review: Nathan Quickdraw Elite

I've been trail running for about 5 or 6 years now. It began with resistance to leaving the asphalt for a muddy trail but turned into an obsession of immersing myself in nature and what waits out there for all of us. With that came goals to push past the limits of the ever-popular 26.2 mile marathon distance and go 50 kilometers (31.2 miles) on the trails followed by the 100-mile ultra marathon distance...3 times done in 2009. Along the entire way, from the very beginning, I've been carrying a handheld water bottle. What I have found is that Nathan Sports makes the best when it comes to carrying your desired hydration product, whatever that may be. For me, I fill mine up with Hammer Nutrition but that's just my preference. Not only have their products carried me through hundreds of miles, but they've even saved me as I have fallen on the trail. Many, many times as I was on my way down, I reached out my right hand to brace myself and that cushioned BPA-free bottle cushioned my fall. I bet the designers at Nathan Sports weren't thinking of this when they made their bottles. :-)

Anyway, a few days back while I was out on a run, I said to my wife something like this: "Nathan really needs to make a handheld that'll fit my iPhone. With so many iPhones/Droids on the market and the heavy usage of apps like "MapMyRun," it only makes sense to make such a product." Not only have I had a few Nathan handhelds, but I have one waist-mounted one with the bottle carrier in the back along with a zippered pocket and net pocket. During the 2009 Oil Creek 100 Miler, I carried my Heed Perpetuem in that bottle, my BodyGlide in the net pocket, and a few necessities in the zippered pocket. In my right hand, I carried my handheld and Hammer's Heed, always keeping my left hand free for balancing and just plain safety on the trail. So back to what I, the customer, desired: I was at my local specialty running store yesterday, Vertical Runner in Hudson, OH, where I used to work part-time and support unapologetically. There is no better place to support in the area when it comes to running. Not just a business, but one that gives back without end. As I was leaving the store after picking up a pair of Brooks' for my 11 year old, I noticed something hanging on the back wall...as if my vision had become reality before my very eyes: the updated Nathan Quickdraw Elite. While not branded for Apple's iPhone, you cannot deny the absolutely perfect fit it is. No doubt...Nathan is tuned in to what the customer wants. You can see how well it fits below and notice the rubber seal that surrounds the zipper. That's an upgrade over the other version I have. Clearly, they are doing their best to keep the elements out of there.
Zipped up, it's a perfect fit. Also, you'll see the little "ID" tab sticking up. That's a slip that pulls out where you can write in your emergency contact information should something happen out there on the trail or wherever your feet take you. Made to withstand the weather, it slides right down in its compartment, out of sight. In the photo below, my iPhone is in that pocket and it has its protector on, too. Nice!

"Thanks, Nathan, for making excellent products. From my back-mounted hydration pack, to my waist-pack, to multiple handhelds, keep up the great work and thanks for listening to us, your customers, as you constantly re-invent your own products for the better. Thanks, too, for sponsoring the Oil Creek Trail Runs! Happy Trails!"

20 Miles, a 5-min Sellout, and Daffodils

Not too shabby of a St Patrick's Day yesterday. I doubt it related closely to the many people I saw screaming and making fools of themselves in downtown Kent mid-day, but it was great. At 6:15am, I was on the road for 20 miles from my home. First up, I crushed 10 miles in 1hr, 18min at 7:47 per mile under super heavy fog. As the run progressed, the sun was beginning to rise in the east with a very small Mr. Moon remaining. My Pure Connect's were treating me well so far. Back home at the agreed-upon time of 7:30am, I met up with Marjie for our couples' run of "Karen's Loop" of 8.2 miles. It's a hilly, quiet loop through the country that we love to share, especially under lifting fog, rising sun, and Spring springing all around. Back at home at 18.2 miles, I dropped her off and crushed the final 1.8 miles in under 7:30 per mile. I have to say, I'm impressed. For a shoe only weighing 7.2oz and with only 4mm between my body and the asphalt (a 200lb body), it is flat-out awesome. (here are the specs, if interested) Advisable to take out a minimal shoe on a 20 miler? Not at first, but I've been working towards this for awhile and with stronger feet now because of it, I'm reaping the benefits. This morning? I feel like another 20-miler is in me...but alas, a day of rest. :-)

Back at home, I had a few eggs and toast and readied for the High Noon Scramble...or better known as registration for the 2012 Oil Creek Trail Runs. Oil Creek was home to my 3rd 100-miler and most memorable event of my life and also responsible for many friendships I would not have otherwise had. This year, I signed up for the Oil Creek 50K as did Marjie. This will be her first shot at the distance and I'll be with her for every step. At 12:05pm, it was SOLD OUT. In 2009, it sold out in 5 months. This year? 5 minutes.

My youngest is 11 years old today, too. Yesterday after the registration took place, I took her for her first pair of running shoes at Vertical Runner in Hudson. Of course, she got a pair of Brooks. :-) Brooks Adrenaline GTS, of course. Watching her walk barefoot, she's in great need for stability and that's the perfect shoe for her. I hope to start running a bit with her with an eventual 5K together. That was pretty cool to pick up some shoes with her. Of course, I shopped a bit, myself. :-)
After some shoes, we wandered through downtown Kent, strategically avoiding the college crowd which was very much intoxicated mid-day, already. No need for her to see/hear stuff like I was hearing in the distance. We parked near the Cuyahoga River and made our way up to the new Tree City Coffee and shared a Mint Frappe then went on down along the river for a walk in the sunshine. It really was nice down there and a chance to just hang out. Along the trail, I noticed a daffodil that was just beginning to peek out at the world. How often do we get to witness this? We see the finished product but rarely do we see it first enter the world like this. Pretty awesome. (see below) Afterwards, we headed on home. Great times and a brilliant, warm day in mid-March in northeast Ohio!
Click to view an amazing, high resolution version of this. LOVE IT!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Past Week

This past week had its share of ups and downs but all-in-all, a pretty good week. Work is work and it went fine. I continue to submit applications for promotions and hopefully, one will happen someday. In the meantime, I'm doing my very best to serve the public and help out my fellow employees. I have a government job with Social Security and with the economy, we've lost lots of staff with little or no authority to hire replacements so we're very understaffed. Compared to before my deployment to Afghanistan and now, the office works much better as a team and achieves more...with less. It is cool to be a part of that and I feel like I'm really bringing something to the table.

This past Tuesday, our youngest began piano lessons. Amazingly, we aligned it at the precise same time as when our oldest takes guitar lessons in the same location in Kent. We have found this a PERFECT time for a weekly 30 minute date. To that end, the brand new development dubbed "Acorn Alley 2" recently opened up behind the music store and a new coffee shop along with it. Truth be told, I'm a big Starbucks nut since working for them back in 2002. Well, a local coffee shop called Tree City Coffee opened up a few months ago and we LOVE it. Well-crafted drinks, pastries/treats that change every week, modern decor, and a comfy environment to just decompress, get some work done or for us, a 30 minute shared beverage and shared pastry while our little ones dive into music a few feet away. This week with St Patrick's Day on tap, we had a mint mocha and chocolate/chocolate muffin. See the chocolate shavings? Mmmmmmm......GOOD!!! 2 forks + 30 minutes + my bride = perfect.

Levi's = have never fit me. Until now, that is. Since I returned home from Afghanistan, I've shed around 20+ pounds. Not on purpose, really, though. I simply ate way less and eat better...and oh yea, I run more and slower. The more and slower together is actually a great fat burner. Lower heart rate burns fat more efficiently vs. running fast with a higher heart rate. Plus, the smorgasbord of Army food while deployed 3 times a day and a dangerous/filthy place to run (aka: very little running) made it really difficult/impossible to shave the fat. Anyway, I picked up 2 pairs of Levi's last weekend and they actually fit. Even better, they are size 34 waist. I remember when I wore a tight 38. At 198-200 pounds at 6'2", I'm happy. I still think I can stand to lose some more, but adding muscle mass via running doesn't really support that. I don't think there is much fat left to rid myself of. We'll see.

Yesterday, we hit the trails of the Fools 50K course and it was MUDDY! March 16th and we had temps in the 60s. It was great. Plans called for the 15.4 miles around but we ended up with 11.4 for the day. I think the hunger for lunch took over. No big deal, though. We're going to knock out more this morning on the roads. I hope to kill 20 on the roads and 8.2 of those with her. I haven't taken my Brooks Pure Project shoes on a 20 miler yet so today is another test of how my body holds up along with the shoes. Speaking of Brooks, a nice, big box arrived yesterday via FedEx. Two more pairs of Pure Project shoes and a bunch of apparel. I'll be giving away/garage-saling a lot of my old running gear this Spring and am replacing it with this stuff. By the way, Spring is awesome and if you find yourself on the trails, be sure to stop along the way and enjoy what's around you. Life is emerging from under the dead leaves all over. This was a quick snapshot of beautiful life emerging from the rubble. So perfect, so beautiful, and right there if we'll just notice.
Time to hit the road for 20 then at high noon today, registration for the Oil Creek 50K this October! I will be crewing, "sherpa-ing", supporting, and running her first 50K with her. No better place than Oil Creek State Park to do it! Happy St Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Going Minimalist

I'm no small person. I'm a solid 200 pound, 6'2" guy. Longer legs than I should have, given my height, make buying jeans and running pants a challenge. I run very, very upright and am sport-less for nearly my entire life. I can run, though, and I can run for hours and I love it. Since my first marathon in 1997, I've always been a neutral runner which basically means I don't lean much to the left or right and the soles of my running shoes through 500 miles on a pair will be worn fairly evenly. Most folks lean or out (pronate) but not me. Back 5 or 6 years ago, I ran the Akron Marathon and up until then, I was a diehard Asics running shoe wearer. But, Brooks was giving free shoes to all finishers. Simply take your bib to a sponsor-store and leave with a brand new pair of shoes. As they say, the rest is history as I switched to Brooks for all off of my road running needs. For the trail, I was still shopping for the best shoe for me.

Today, I'm in my 3rd year of sponsorship with Brooks Running. Before I say anymore, let me preface this with a statement: I'm a big believer in supporting companies and products I truly believe in. If I love the product but hate the company, forget it...and vice versa. Everything about Brooks is amazing as far as I'm concerned and I have a newfound love for their entry into the minimalist running shoe segment, spearheaded by the Vibram FiveFingers shoes a few years back. Read "Born to Run"? That book got it all moving. Today, every specialty running shoe company has a plethora of lightweight to minimalist shoes to choose from. Back to my big, 200lb frame: in the past, this frame of mine has caused me to get less life out of my shoes. In races, I often signed up for the Clydesdale division, or the big boy division. Well, Brooks new Pure Project line of minimalist shoes has literally changed my running in the very positive direction. For the trail, their shoe is the Pure Grit (pictured at right sidebar). It is, BY FAR, my most favorite trail shoe ever.  I can't wait to take them on my first 50K in less than a month. You'll notice the split toe on the shoe which gives freedom of movement and more connection with the road or trail beneath. Brooks has also introduced a fair deal of cushion in the shoe but you wouldn't know it if you picked it up...it is SUPER light. So much so that you'd swear my 200lbs would tear it up. Nope! Anyway, the Pure Grit has been great so I thought it was time to give the Pure Connect a try, the neutral runner's road shoe in the Pure Project line. THIS was the test of all tests because unlike the trail which is super soft, the asphalt stood a good chance at shredding these shoes given all of the pounds force coming down on them. Right? Let's take a look at them at 100 miles on them to date:







So as you can see at the very last one, they are holding up quite well given how little is between me and the road.  One thing that running barefoot or in a minimalist shoe is that your body naturally changes its gait and the way you strike the ground/land. We as human beings were designed to run (whether you like that or not!) and the arch of our foot is a natural spring. So, as soon as you remove the regular running shoe and all the cushion underneath which PROMOTES heel strike, you begin to land mid-foot almost immediately. Why? You were made to...it's as simple as that. So if you ask my wife, she can tell a distinct difference in my posture when I run in my Pure Connects vs. my normal Brooks Glycerins. I lean back more in my regular road shoe and strike towards the back. If I landed on the heel in this shoe, you'd see it above. I'd SHRED this shoe to pieces. Instead, you actually see the most wear mid-foot (as it should be) and at the front-center toe where I toe off (as it should be). Everywhere else is even wear. So will I get 400+ miles out of these like my Glycerins? Unlikely. But, I bet I'll see 200-300 on them...more on the Pure Grits. I'll be sure to report back.

As for me physically, this shoe is all that I've changed in my running except for running less miles. However, I have less aches and pains, my previous stress fracture in my hip no longer presents itself...ever, and my feet have really grown stronger as I've run more in these, both on the trail and on the road. Today, my Running Times came in the mail and they did a story on 4 tests to determine if you're ready to transition to a minimalist shoe. In all 4 tests, I passed with flying colors, even though the end of the article mentioned that most runners can't pass more than one or two. (4 tests: dorsiflexion of the ankle, dorsiflexion of the big toe, isolating the big toe, and single-leg balance...pages 40-46 of the April 2012 edition) Lastly, I won't say these shoes make me fast, but I'm running faster than ever...like I used to over 10 years ago and I'm not even doing speed work. It makes me want to find a local 5K and see what I've got in me! I think I can break 20 minutes again. I just ran a hilly 8.2 miler and averaged 7:30 per mile in these so I'm confident I can do it. These shoes just feel so dang good on me.  I love to feel the road like I do, I love to feel the muscles surrounding my feet working, and I like feeling practically nothing between me and the earth.

So Brooks...get those red ones to me quick, OK?! I just ordered a new pair of Pure Connects and Pure Grits...different colors, of course. :-)

Run Happy and Run Strong! Enjoy every step!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'm Back

Hey y'all...I'm back. As you might notice if you scroll down a bit, 2011 is basically history. All posts have been un-published with the exception of my Call to Patriotism series and post about the 7 Baby Steps to Get Out of Debt..the RTRSBM version. By the way, we did make our "Debt Free Call" LIVE on the Dave Ramsey radio show back in October 2011. We did a three-way call between Afghanistan, Ohio, and Texas where Dave was touring to promote his new book. Anyway, I'm going to give this blog a shot again and see where it leads.
Running, running, running...doing lots of it but my wife is normally with me for every last step. Today is time change Sunday and while most slept in and brewed second pots of coffee, we were on the road at 5:30am for 10 miles along with a friend and my sister-in-law. Clear skies, stars above, Mr. Moon (about 85% of him) high above but beginning to set to the west, and first light in the eastern sky as we finished up. It was a GREAT run.

Before we hit the road, though, I did some more shopping on Brooks Running. Being sponsored for my 3rd year by Brooks, I've been replenishing some of running gear and retiring some very old stuff. Goodwill, garage sale, donations...all of that is in the near future for a lot of stuff. I've become a huge fan of Brooks' Pure Project shoe line...a minimalist endeavor by Brooks which I really love. I ordered another pair of the road version I wear (the Pure Connect) and the trail shoe (Pure Grit), just different colors. The Pure Grit is my new favorite trail shoe, by a landslide. I've also been really impressed by their Rogue III shorts. They are longer than most shorts but I'm 6'2" with longer legs than others my height. They have a silky feel to them, have a pocket on each side, and have a hidden, zipper pocket inside the right pocket. I picked up 3 pairs of them previously. I've also become a big fan of the Rev3 tech tees. They have a slight contour to them through the midsection and use a different kind of material in there. They also hide a side/back zipper that I bet most miss.

For the rest of this year, I'll be running the Fools 50K here in a few weeks and signing up for the Oil Creek 50K this upcoming Saturday. The Oil Creek 100 in 2009 was my 3rd 100-miler but I'll be returning this year with my wife to accompany her on her first journey across 31.2 miles within Oil Creek State Park. I'm also considering a few other races but nothing definite right now. My craving to participate in races has really gone away, for the most part. I love to run...I love to run with her...I love to give back and be a part of the community, but I don't crave the race itself any longer. I see them being few and far between, indefinitely. The passion just isn't there right now. When or if it returns, I'll jump back in. For now, I just want to run. Giving back also means I'm back writing for the Western Reserve Trail Running Newsletter as a co-editor and will most likely be taking over a popular trail race in 2014 as race director. More news on that at a much later date. Till then, though, I think I'll just run and be the best husband, father, and Navy Reserve officer I can be.

Till next time, friends. It's good to write again.