Monday, September 9, 2013

M-Cubed for 9.9.2013

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

- First off, a very good morning to you on this September 9, 2013. Hard to believe that in two days, we check off 12 years since we were attacked on 9/11/2001. As you, I’m sure, I remember where I was back then. I was fresh out of the Navy (the first time!) and living in Colorado Springs. I had a great job with a view of Pikes Peak and had just arrived at work when a colleague asked if I heard what had happened. Of course, the rest of the day was barely productive as we huddled around a tiny TV in the break room. Much has happened in this country since and in my life since that day. I hope Americans never forget that day and teach the next generation about it, why it happened, and how this country responded.

- Lately, I’ve been taking a new way to work a few days during the week which takes me by a local coffee roaster in Kent, Ohio, called Bent Tree Coffee Roasters. It’s your classic startup: college grads love coffee. College grads have a dream and rent a retail location and put it all on the line. College grads get a huge grassroots following and never say quit and never give up. That’s Bent Tree. Being in Kent State University’s backyard, they actually got on campus and are served as part of the university’s food program and are appearing in some higher end local grocery stores, on the menu at some local eateries, and in the recipes of other locally-owned startups like the hugely successful “Popped!” popcorn shop down the street. They roast their own beans, too, which you know as soon as you open your car door in the morning as that aroma fills the air. Inside, they have no “drip machines” or “coffee makers.” Every cup of joe in the morning is made via French Press. Highly labor intensive but as one of the owners told me a week ago, that’s the only way you truly taste every part of the coffee and can experience it.  Bring your own cup and chop 25 cents off making a tall cup of joe only a buck fifty. Seriously…can it get any better than this?! Supporting a local company, enjoying the BEST cup of coffee in Kent, and heck, just breathing in the aroma of roasting coffee beans in the morning is awesome. Here’s the roaster just inside their front door and a few 1lb bags of their beans. I highly recommend you check them out.

- Playing on the whole clean coffee concept, a friend forwarded this article to me from the Minimalist. I follow his page on Facebook and highly recommend the quick read. In a nutshell, the author is writing from a little coffee shop in Cincinnati where the shop owners have stripped away all of the clutter and “stuff” and focused simply on great coffee. The author once littered his joe with lots of cream and sweetener until the shop owner convinced him to forego the foreign additives so he could truly taste the coffee like the owner intended and so meticulously chose. Like wine, coffee takes on the characteristics of where it was grown, the climate, the soil it was nourished by, and other surroundings. What the author found was, after getting over the initial bitter taste, was a truly astounding cup of yumminess. He really could taste all of the characteristics as intended. Such is life, isn’t it? If we’d just strip away the junk…the stuff…the drama of the world and focus on what truly matters, we’d be so much happier. To truly live is to give, in my opinion. Giving…it’s that thing that while uncomfortable at first, returns its fruits in many ways and often intangible, priceless ones. So the next time you spend extra on your cup of joe or visit that special coffee shop, consider tasting it as it was intended and perhaps do the same in your life…free of all the junk additives the world throws at you.

- I had the pleasure of being at the promotion and reading of the Oath of a fellow Naval Officer this past Friday aboard the World War II submarine, USS Cod, which is berthed between the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and Burke Lakefront Airport. It was a simple ceremony with only a few of his close friends in attendance, his wife and two kids, and a few of his fellow shipmates (e.g.: me). He was a Lieutenant like me but on this day put on Lieutenant Commander, or for those of you who know Army, Air Force, and Marine ranks, it’s the same as a Major. It was a beautiful day and here, his little 6 year old girl took off his Lieutenant shoulder boards and replaced them with his Lieutenant Commander shoulder boards. (see below) Pretty awesome way to celebrate the day, wouldn’t you agree?! I look forward to doing something similar in a few years.

- I have never played 18 holes of golf. Heck, I’ve never played 9 but this past Saturday, the mens’ group at church had a golf outing and 8 men signed up. I teamed up with a now good friend and golfer for the past 10 years who shared his clubs with me, ironically made for someone 6’2”. I had a great time! The consensus was that I had a really natural swing but I still sank about 3 balls in the pond over those 18 holes. My favorite club, no doubt, was the 9 iron. I kept cranking line drives further than should’ve been possible with that selection. Great day, great fellowship and great sausage sandwiches at lunch! I even shot par on one hole. Mostly double-bogies, though. Here’s my favorite photo of the day and one that the guys got a great kick out of watching me take it…nearly on my stomach on the putting green being the picture-taking-geek I am.

- Just before the aforementioned golf outing, I went out for a run. 20 miles later, I still felt that all-out 5K race effort from Labor Day. Weary but strong, I maintained a smooth, steady pace sans walking and finished faster than when I began at a 9:03 pace. I was wearing my Garmin which I don’t normally wear because I was going every which way during the run with no plan. Seriously…I didn’t decide on the 20 miles until mile 17.5!  Each turn was decided on while I was out there and I just ran in silence. No podcasts or music. No plan. No interruptions. No running partner. The most shocking highlight of the run? Not one single picture snapped. True. :) With Sunday off, only 3.1 miles on Monday, and low miles the rest of the week, I still accumulated a decent 48.1 miles for the week. Quite happy with that.

- Speaking of running, it's less than 5 weeks until the Trilogy. Our 2nd sleeping bag arrived and a few other accessories are en route. We just need to set up camp in the backyard to make sure we have everything we need and we're good to go. I got the big, descriptive e-mail from the race director this week with all of the nitty-gritty details. They all seem extremely organized and excited all the same. They decided to go cup-less at this race and are instead giving folks a collapsable cup. Honestly, I have zero issues with that. I'll be carrying two 20oz bottles on my back and only ever need a cup if I'm going to down some Pepsi or Coke for a jolt. I may or may not take that cup along just for that. I'll decide when I see it. So, I'm pumped. Absolutely ready to tackle an event like none other I have done before. My biggest concern is not my ability to cover the distance. It's how I'll feel on Day #2 after running a mountain 50K the day prior...and staring down a 50 miler on those tired legs. Absolutely no doubt: the key to this is to BE SMART and TAKE IT EASY on Day #1. The goal is not to crush that 50K. The goal is to finish steady, strong, injury-free, and not physically destroyed. Gotta be smart. (I didn't mention one truly sane would do this...right?!)

- To close out today, I'd like to share the sunset outside my front door a few nights ago. Every time I see one of these, I think of 2011 when I was in Afghanistan. Why? Because we never had ANY color at all in the sky and most certainly not during sunrises or sunsets. Nothing glorious and beautiful like this. Just that makes me stare at our beautiful skies much longer than before. I like to say these kind of sunsets are God's "exclamation point" on the day. He is quite the artist, ya know. Enjoy!!!

Have a great week, everyone, and Run Happy!

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