Thursday, July 31, 2014

Month in Review: July 2014

On one hand, it was a quiet month with no racing, no bib numbers pinned on, and no finish lines...official ones, that is. On another hand, it was an epic month for me. Over the past few months, I have been trying to get my monthly average to equate to 200 miles per month for 2014. To even the log, this month would've required 231.0 miles. With no races on the calendar and a streak started back on June 19th, I was determined to finally do it. If I did, 231 would be a personal monthly record. So here's how the month ended up, as of the conclusion of this morning's run:

That was total chance that weeks 3 and 4 had exactly the same number of miles. Overall, though, it was pretty even. Given 31 days in the month, I averaged 7.774 miles per day. In reality, 6 of those 31 days were days only to keep the streak 3 miler and the others 2 miles or even a mile. Throughout, I continued to integrate Navy-regulation push-ups into the run, pausing only long enough to knock them out, often in the middle of the road. The one day that stands out in this month was last Friday when I ran 22 miles around town. It was a Forrest Gump kind of day where I ran until I simply didn't want to run any longer. Within those 22, I conquered 250 push-ups, easily more than any other day of my life. That 22 was easy, too, as were those push-ups. It simply didn't faze me.

Yesterday, I only needed 3 to hit my goal of 231 miles. However, a friend who grew up in my hometown who now lives in California was in town and we were able to get together for a fast 6 miler out on my daily route. He's the one who inspired me to start my streak and I had never officially met him but his parents live a mile from my doorstep. With that run, I went 3 miles over my goal with still a day to go. Where I got my brain into trouble is when he told me his lifetime record for one month was 240 miles. Well, I was sitting at 234 yesterday and his lifetime goal was a perfect reason to go out today and do 6 myself...or 7. :) On the road before 5am, I did something I never do. I turned on my MapMyRun app along with the voice prompts. At each 1/2 mile, it would tell me my splits. My thinking was that I'd head out on a whole new route and turn around when it told me I was at 3.5 miles. Well, that did not turn out like I had planned. That little female voice talking to me only prompted me to go faster...and faster...and faster. It turned into a challenge against myself. With every passing 1/2 mile, I picked it up a notch because at the next 1/2 mile, it would tell me that split PLUS my overall pace. That overall pace kept going down by chunks because I kept ratcheting up the speed. SO, my planned easy last-day-of-the-month run turned out to be a very successful ladder run! Who says I need another human being to challenge me when I have MYSELF!?!? As you can see here to the right, I ran a classic ladder. Well, 3 and 4 were even but for no plans to run a ladder, I'm pretty darn happy! BOOM!

So 241 miles. Write it in stone. That brings my monthly 2014 average to just over 201 miles per month. Given that I've never run much more than 2100 miles in a year, I am nearly 300 miles (annualized) over my all-time record, should I continue. I do continue to remind myself, though, that every mile, every blog post, every entry on my log is for just one It's not for anyone else (though it may inspire them), I don't do the miles for anyone (though it may help get them out the door), and ultimately, I need to be confident in my decisions to run every mile and look back without regret (because no one owns my miles but me). Wrapping up July and entering into August tomorrow, I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. Looking back at 2009 when I ran three 100-mile races, I was certainly in good condition and looked slimmer. However, I feel stronger I can conquer anything thrown at me. I do believe running everyday is contributing to this. Whether I run 2 or 22 miles, I get up the next day feeling the same and do it again. My body has adapted, I'm feeding it well and recovering properly, and working on my upper body strength to compliment my growing endurance and strength. So what next?

My sights are clearly focused on June 2015. I will forego the 2015 running of the Highland Sky 40 Mile Trail Run so that I can focus on my return to the 100 miler. While some run multiple 100-milers a year and make it look easy, I have not had the bug bite me to train for the distance again nor the craving to go the distance. That has changed over the last few months as the hunger returned and I feel ready to do it again...back at my original 100-mile finish. This time, though, I won't make the trip alone. My wife will join me and crew me for those 100 miles and celebrate my 4th finish of the distance. Here is one photo of a dad crossing the finish line of the Kettle 100 last month with his son.

That banner is one image I am going to blaze into my brain and use as a source of inspiration for the rest of this year, into the winter and next year's Spring. Back in 2009, I finished in 25hrs, 39min., which is actually my fastest of my three 100s. Most 100-milers have a goal to one day finish sub-24 hours. I don't know if I can actually write that down as a hard-n-fast goal but it will certainly be something I'll be striving for as icing on the cake. Ultimately, though, the goal will "simply" be to cover the 100 miles under the 30 hour time limit. I did find this blog entry about the Kettle 100 inspiring tonight. Interesting that it focuses on happiness...while talking about covering 100 miles. Yea, that may sound crazy to the non-100 miler but it sounds totally sane to me. I really enjoyed the article. Here is my favorite quote from the post:

Happiness is a long run.

Ultimately, the “Why” of a 100-mile run, whether one is a race director, volunteer, runner, crew, or pacer is distilled down to one thing: happiness.

I’m not talking about the things we do for short-term, momentary happiness, like indulging in an ice cream cone on a perfect summer afternoon, or purchasing a new outfit when feeling blue.

Rather, I’m talking about the state of happiness which stems from doing the things which contribute to a life of meaning and purpose.  It is a happiness built on Aristotelian ideals of belonging and benefiting others, flourishing, thriving, and exercising excellence.  This state of happiness emerges from being connected to something bigger:

  • A grander vision of one’s self;
  • A wider community of friends and family;
  • A monumental effort which supports a cause.

Excerpt from Happiness is a 100-Mile Run

In other news...

Professionally in the my day job this month, it was the best ever as well. My job is to recruit the Navy's future officers who will lead sailors well into the future. From aviators to intel officers to Navy SEAL candidates, I spoke to them all this month. Enlisting in the Navy can be done within a few weeks. For an officer candidate, though, it can extend to an entire year. It's a long drawn out process and is very, very competitive. Finding the right fit of a person is an "art" and navigating the process to take care of the candidate while also representing the Navy can be tricky but it's something I absolutely love and thrive in. Here in a few days, I'll celebrate 1 year onboard as Navy Officer Recruiter and will soon pass 17 years of service. There is no doubt, I have loved my years in the Navy and I can't imagine doing anything else right now.

So Day 43, it's a wrap. Tomorrow will be August 1st and day 44...just another day in my Brooks looking down the open road. Birds singing, the sun rising over the horizon, my heart beating, sweat pouring... The run doesn't define me nor is it a (g)od in my life. It is, though, something that challenges me, keeps me honest with my mortality and who I am, and gets me away from the confines of my home, the e-mail inbox, and a sedentary life. I feel blessed to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other, without injury, and continuing to find joy with each step.

Monday, July 28, 2014

M-Cubed for 7.28.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for July Twenty-Eighth, Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Good morning to you! It's 5'oclock somewhere, right?! Because I'm the curious type, I started wondering "Where?" Well, I check out this World Clock and it does turn out, our Aussie's down in Australia are enjoying dinner on an early Monday evening as it clicks towards 6pm and in Seoul, South Korea, it's nearly 5pm on Monday. Here? Not even 4am yet. So cheers! :)

- Since I had to bring up Australia, here is your public service announcement: Bloomin' Onions are FREE today at Outback Steakhouse. So, if you're struggling with what to do for dinner tonight, "You're welcome!" Kevin Harvick (NASCAR driver) finished in the Top 10 yesterday at The Brickyard and since he's sponsored by Outback, all you have to do is mention that today and BOOM, it's free. Salivating, yet?!

- This past week, I probably drafted 2-3 long blog posts while I was running yet when I finished, I decided to not take the time to write them. If I only had a scribe to run alongside me and type as I thought out loud, I'd have my first book ready to publish.

- Keeping in the running vein, it was an epic kind of week. Tuesday brought a very hot and humid day. Late afternoon, it was 93F, high humidity, and full sun. If you know me, you know that I'd be a glutton for punishment to head out in that. Well, because I AM a glutton for punishment, I did, armed with only one bottle of Heed. I tackled my favorite 10 mile loop. I suffered, I sweat a ton, I got it done. I needed to feel the desire to quit again and mentally conquer that. It was good for me. I also broke out my brand new pair of Brooks Pure Flow 3's...the re-design. It was my first jaunt in the new 3 and I really enjoyed them! No complaints! (photo right). The rest of the week continued my streak and moved me closer to my monthly goal of 231 miles and the highest mileage month of my life. On Friday, I was on the road at First Light and was in one of those Forrest Gump moods and just needed to run until I no longer wanted to. Plus, it was cool and crisp out...a stark contrast to Tuesday's baking in the sun. I ended up with 22 miles, fueled only by one peanut butter Hammer Gel and one Espresso Hammer Gel, washed down with some Heed. In the end, I ended up on Saturday with a weekly total of 54.4 miles. This morning, I looked at my log and that matches exactly the week chance! The week prior was 52.4 and prior to that...61.4. Why all the point-4's? No clue. Total luck of the draw.

- Registered! The Frozen Sasquatch 50K, held just outside Charleston, WV, is held on the first Saturday in January. Last year, it was a great race for me and a fun family trip. (great pool time for the kids!) I didn't hesitate when registration opened this past week. It WILL sell out so if you're interested, check out my race report (see race report tab at top of blog) and register here. (Great to see your name on the list, Mindy!) :)

- I have 4 running days to go and I stand at 216 miles. My goal was 231. Now, as I stand ready to kill that goal, I wonder about pushing past it or simply sitting right down on top of it. That 231 will average me to 200 miles per month for 2014 for a January thru July total of 1400 miles exactly. I stand undecided but am thrilled and thankful for having such an epic month in my running life and still without an ache or pain or twitch head to toe. Oh yea, TODAY is Day 40 of my streak! WOO HOO! No stopping me now!

- Reflecting back on that 22 miler, I did something a little odd with that run, too. I've been doing push-ups on all of my runs since I began my streak over a month ago and on this run, I decided to do a series of 25 push-ups throughout the run. So, at miles 2/4/6/8/11/13/15/17/19/21, I knocked out 25. I thought I'd get quite weary but I never did! I kept doing them "military regulation"...getting that 90 degree angle to the ground and re-did any that didn't measure up. Usually in the middle of the road but occasionally in someone's front yard, I knocked them out. 250 total for the run! I have definitely made progress in that area in the past 40 days.

- Seen the movie "Rudy"? It's the story of an underdog who once dreamed of being a football player for Notre Dame. The true story dates back to the early 70s and the movie back to 1993. We all watched it as a family last night since my girls had never seen it and it is on Netflix. Love, love, LOVE that movie! A great movie for my kids to see, never give up on their dreams, regardless of others telling you you'll never achieve them. Not seen it? Highly recommend!

- You've met her before but check out her new bed! My wife picked up this dog bed for five bucks at a local garage sale over the weekend. Yea, it's kind of overkill but for five bucks, Bristol loves it. The funny backstory here is that the previous owner didn't even use it and they bought it for their Shih Tzu. Shih Tzu!!! Bristol is twice as big as that kind of dog, easily, and look how much room SHE has! Sheesh! Bristol sends her thanks...

- We wrapped up Season 5 of Parenthood a few days back...finally. We've been watching via stream on Season 6, their final season, begins next month. We have loved watching that show and are bummed it will end next year.

- Sunrise from two days ago. The sun was to my right and it wasn't immediately at the horizon but after it had gotten into the sky a good bit. I couldn't pass up all the blue I was seeing here. This is a pond I run by in my local park about 3-4 times a week. Gorgeous, isn't it?

- I had one of those brain-dumping moments on Saturday. It's a bit personal but in the effort of "keeping it real," I posted it on my Instagram account and linked it over to Facebook. It certainly hit a chord with many so I thought I'd share it today, word for word as I posted it then. And just to doesn't matter how many miles I run...these dang love handles will never leave! :)

Before the narcissistic bandwagon slaughters me, I posted this because I have a hard time with self-image. Up until recently, I only ran in the dark sans shirt. If you are like me and have tried and done so much but never see what you want in the mirror, you will understand. I am convinced that no matter how far and fast I run, my "love handles" will remain. No matter what, I will hover around that 200lb mark, barely getting under what the Navy deems "within standards." I told my bride this morning that "God just didn't give me a 'runner's body.'" What a lie! Perhaps He didn't give me what Runner's World says a runner's body should be or society in general but He did give me a body that can run with endurance and not give up. As I close in on a lifetime record breaking month in mileage and reaching my goal for July, I cannot lose sight of the truth. I AM. I am made exactly as I am supposed to be. I am thankful for that. It matters not what ANYONE thinks or says and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Stay true to myself, don't get injured, run because I love to run, and give God the glory and praise He is due for giving me what He has. So if you pass me on the road and think "Dude, you need to put a shirt on," know that I hear you and I am ignoring you. You are, of course, welcome to join me. :) #fromtherun #deepthoughts #selfimage#shirtless #runhappy #runningselfie

- So here we are, friends...tip-toeing or perhaps sprinting towards August. August...the month of marching bands cranking up their sound at band camps, the sound of crunching helmets as football teams begin their practice, county fair continuing (ours is BIG and happens in late August), and Back-to-School ads...oh yes, the weekly Target ad hit my e-mail inbox yesterday and it was front-to-back full of school clothes and supplies. 'Tis the season... Make the best of today, the last 4 days this month, and August! Before I leave you on this last Monday of August, enjoy and be inspired by this week's quote:

"It's been almost a decade since I last wiped Budweiser foam from my lips. I don't wake up hung‑over anymore, but I do sometimes wake up haunted — by who I used to be, by the people I've done wrong. On the days I don't run, it's worse. I'm filled with a different kind of thirst, a need to move between places — across bridges, over water, over city lines. The nastier the conditions, the better: lightning storms, ice‑covered sidewalks, predawn country roads during hunting season. The hard work of the run fortifies my will. I move through this so I can move through that. One foot in front of the other. One run at a time."

-Caleb Daniloff, Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time

Monday, July 21, 2014

M-Cubed for 7.21.2014

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for July Twenty-First, Two Thousand Fourteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- If you missed my "Day 30" post of my running streak, here is the link. Today is Day 33...let's roll!

- Ever heard of the show "American Ninja Warrior?" It's not a gimmick or some silly reality show, it's a physical competition where athletes in a few cities attempt an obstacle course, then there are semi-finals, then finals, then all of the finalists from the cities head to one big final. It's ridiculously difficult and no American has ever finished at the final. Tonight is another final in one of the cities but last Monday night, the first woman finished the course in a final...never been done before and you've GOT to watch! By the end, my hands were sweating! By the way, each city's course is different. They change it up each time. Without further delay, here is Kacy Catanzaro's destruction of the course...simply incredible.

- Can you believe that band camps, football practices, etc. are about to fire up already? Yea...this summer is cruising right along.

- I had a pretty cool opportunity this past Friday. From 1991-2001, I was a Navy Nuclear Mechanic. I got out for 6 years then came back and now am a commissioned Navy Supply Corps Officer. Well, a current nuclear-trained sailor who has been serving on instructor duty who is from my area tracked me down and asked me if I'd re-enlist him while he was on leave in the area. He is at his 10-year point and re-enlisting for 5 more years. In the Navy, all enlisted personnel who re-enlist must do so by raising their hand and taking the oath of enlistment again from a Naval Officer. On Friday, we met at the local Camp Manatoc where he once was an Eagle Scout and with family looking on and recording the occasion, I gave him the oath at the giant flagpole in our white uniforms. Afterwards, we all walked a short distance to the outdoor chapel where he read his father's only poem, who passed a few years back. It was really moving and I was honored to be present for not just that but this sailor's recommitment to serving his country. Awesome all the way around!

- Ever heard of Casting Crowns? The Grammy and Dove Award winning band was in town at the historic Akron Civic Theater on Thursday night. I took my daughter and we enjoyed a fantastic evening with the rest of the sold out crowd in downtown Akron. Simply awesome. So glad I have the opportunity to share evenings like that with her. Plus, the "Crowns" have been a major part of my life through their music so they hold a spot in my story like none other. Thankful for the chance to hear and see them LIVE. (this is our view from our seats at the Akron Civic Theater)

- I continue to rack my brain on racing this fall. While it's only been a month since the Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run, it feels like an eternity ago and without much on the schedule at all, I'm floundering a bit. I still have a race on the schedule in late August (see schedule at top of blog) but I haven't registered yet. It's an "easy" 50K within 30min of my home. Not much else after that except for YUT-C in September. I scrubbed the 50 miler previously planned for November and booked a hotel for June 2015 in southern Wisconsin (wink wink!)...besides that, not much else activity. I can't exactly tell you why, but racing just isn't appealing to me at the moment...or even pinning on a bib and joining the masses on the trail. Just the pure run of each day seems to be calling me out.

- Yesterday, we had the opportunity as a family to head down to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (sans trail running shoes) along with my niece and nephew from Colorado. I took my Nikon 5100 with me with the hope of capturing some great photos of the few waterfalls we'd visit. Here are my favorites of the day below. If you want any, just click on them to view the high resolution version then save it. I'm guessing a few might be great screen-savers or lock screens/backgrounds for your smart phone. After our hike, we enjoyed roasted corn on the cob and fresh-squeezed lemonade at Szalay's farm market.
Brandywine Falls

Top of Brandywine Falls

Blue Hen Falls (my favorite of the day)

My girl :)

- Back in February 2013 soon after picking up the iPhone 5, I ordered this Tune Belt armband for carrying my iPhone on the run. I have worn it on every single run since then except for during pouring rain. From hot and humid to 5 degree runs, it has traveled with me. It has also taken the beating of constantly getting tugged on and pulled at during the run as I take more and more photos. I ordered myself a new one a few days ago from Amazon and wanted to share it with you because for what you get, I haven't been able to find another one that competes. After visiting the local running store last week and seeing them for $30-$40 (Amphipod brand), bulky and with a zipper, I had to stick with what I know. These Tune Belt bands are $19.95 retail (and $15 on Amazon), fit very close to the body so they don't bounce one bit, and they don't snag technical clothing. Many of the elastic bands out there snag the shirt fabric but this super soft band for the past year and a half has held up and never been a problem.  I did share this whole report with the local store and hopefully they'll consider selling them. From a quality and price point perspective, you just can't beat it. FYI: They even have options depending on what case you keep on your phone...e.g. no case, thin case, Otter Box, etc. I chose the thin case was so it'll be a perfect/precise fit. Here's the main Tune Belt site. I recommend you purchase from Amazon, though, since Tune Belt is the actual seller there, too, and you'll save 25%.

- To close today, a quote from last weekend's winner of the famed Hardrock 100...a "graduate level" 100-miler out west. Have a great week, everyone!

"The real victory isn't the act of smashing through the tape and crossing the finish line; it's not seeing your name first on the list or standing on the highest step on the podium. None of that can make your legs shake with fear and excitement.

Victory, the real victory, is what is deep down inside each one of us. It's what we can’t believe will ever happen despite all the training and will on our part, and yet it is what finally happens. Despite all the thinking and brandishing of calculators, after so many hours of preparation, after so many days of training, of telling ourselves that we can win, or simply finish the race, it is as if something in our unconscious is constantly telling us that it is impossible, that it would be too wonderful, too brilliant, too incredible for it to become reality. That what we want to achieve is only a dream. And when you cross the line, when you look behind and see that it is for real, that you are flesh and blood, and that what seemed possible only in dreams has become real, you realize that that is the real victory.

Winning isn't about finishing in first place. It isn't about beating the others. It is about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations, and your fears. Winning means surpassing yourself and turning your dreams into reality."

-Kilian Jornet, Run or Die

Friday, July 18, 2014

Streak Update: Celebrating 30!

On June 19th, I kicked off a goal to streak indefinitely (see sidebar for definition of this). Today, July 18th, I crossed the 30 day line. Only one little mark on hopefully a goal that lasts a very long time. I thought I'd write up some thoughts today as this marker passes on by.

- 239.3 miles!! All time one month record! Even cooler is that it was a total surprise. I had no intention of doing that. Ironically, my July goal is 231 miles that will even up my monthly mileage for 2014 to 200/month. Yea, I've got a serious case of Runner's OCD. :) If I stay on track, 2014 will be a banner year and will break my personal annual record by 200-300 miles.

- I really like the nudge to lace up every day. There were a few days where I only ran 1 or 2 miles. Mostly, that was because my day was starting extremely early or I slept in. (Here's my tracker.)

- I need to mix it up. I retired a pair of Brooks Pure Flows this month as they hit 400 miles. Along with my knees telling me that it was time to hang up and donate the used shoes, I felt the everyday running on asphalt roads was taking a toll on my knees. Luckily, my schedule allowed me to escape to the trails a few days ago for a few hours of ups/downs/sideways on the single track trails of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Here is just one photo I shot while heading up one of hills under a canopy of green.

- I find it easy to keep it interesting. I have many directions to choose from when I wake up every day and run the route that feels the best and most interesting to me that day and at a mileage that I have time for and want. If I feel kind of achy, then I'll keep it easy and light. If I'm feeling like a million bucks, I head out on my 10 mile or half marathon route. Need to run further? Get up earlier! No excuses! :)

- I acknowledge that no one really cares about a streak but me and I don't talk about it except for here on my blog or a post to the streaking group on Facebook. Outside of that, it's my own little mission and motivator to get out there. What I'm thankful for is that it doesn't feel like a chore or a I'm slave to the streak. I "want" to get out there and whether one or 22...I'm thankful for every step.

Yesterday's "first light" at my local park
- I sure do love sunrises and I've seen more than ever in the past 30! Winning!!! :))

- Chafing. Yea...running everyday does require more BodyGlide and running shirtless more often. Just a little tidbit I just knew you wanted to know.

- I continue to be thankful for Hammer Nutrition. Their Recoverite product continues to be gold in my nutrition and post-run regimen. Absolutely swear by it and the company. (Nudge: you can save 15% off your first order by clicking on the banner at right and order via that page.)

- More push-ups. During this streak, I started a new routine and that is to stop once or twice (or more during longer runs) to pump out 25, 30, or 35 push-ups. Doing it for a month now has definitely trimmed some fat in the chest and shoulder area and helped "tank top wearing" in these summer months a little more acceptable. :) Being nothing but a runner, my upper body needs help and this new routine has fit in well to the streaking.

- 30 is over but I have no intent of stopping. I really do find a lot of joy out of greeting each day inside a pair of Brooks. I've run in the outer bands of Hurricane Arthur in a torrential downpour, run the past several days in 90%+ humidity and got soaked every time, and during a vacation, got to explore the area which led into what we did as a family for dinner and recreation. Give me a path ahead, a pair of Brooks, and let me go...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Belated: M-Cubed for 7.14.2014

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

- Surely you can relate. Life. Busyness. Some things have to take the back seat. So here ya first ever Hump Day M-Cubed 48 hours late. Plenty to say, little time to type it.

- Over the weekend, I got the bug in my brain to build a homemade lightbox. What's a lightbox? Technically, it's "a flat box with a side of translucent glass or plastic and containing an electric light, so as to provide an evenly lighted flat surface or even illumination, such as in an art or photography studio." You can spend all kinds of money on them but I Googled how to make a homemade one. I adapted it to use only what I could find laying around the house and in the basement. So with an old Hammer Nutrition box, a few sheets of copier paper and a glue stick, I made one.

My first round of photos were in my laundry room with that fluorescent light. Even with the white sides, I had no idea about setting manual exposure so my photos all had this creaminess to them. See below for just a few. Luckily, a few friends who know about photography chimed in and gave me feedback after seeing these.

So today after breakfast, I grabbed the leftover avocado and took several photos but this time with the natural light from outside coming in from the side and moved the manual exposure around to achieve the true background as it exists. Here is the result...a complete up-tick in quality in what I'm going for. I now feel very limited by my ultra-tiny free box. I need a bigger cardboard box and some large sheets of white poster board and I'll be in business. Won't be free but won't even cost me the price of a Starbucks Frappuccino. (click on photo for high resolution version)

- Huge congrats to Bob "Gombu" Combs who finished yet another Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run over the weekend. It's a monster race without the normal 30hr limit but instead a 48hr limit...even starts on Friday morning to give enough time through the weekend. An incredible accomplishment!! (photo credit to Kimba who was there to assist Gombu...Bob's son paced him through the final miles)

- My running streak is still alive and kicking. Day 28 is today and has yet to happen...but it will. Also ahead of schedule for my monthly mileage goal. I'm also a month in to my "push up" initiative. I've been pausing a few times during each run and cranking out 25-30 military regulation push-ups. On Monday morning's 10, for example, I did 25 at all of the even miles so I got in 125 push-ups. I have definitely seen a change in the mirror thanks to these and feel stronger. Since I do nothing but run, I wanted to not only look better in a tank top ;), but increase my upper body strength. Working so far!

- Like my Facebook page yet for RTRSBM? No? Click here and "like" away! I typically post daily with all kinds of things. "Like" if you'd like to!

- I retired yet another pair of Pure Flow 2's a few days ago. Amazing to me the mileage I continue to get. Most specialty running stores will tell you that you'll get 250-300 miles out of a pair. At 6'3" and weighing in 200-205 pounds, I keep getting 400 miles out of every pair. The photo below shows the retired pair (right) and the new pair (left). Talk about even/perfect wear and honestly, not a whole lot of wear at all. The insides, though, are done. My knees told me so! So now, I'm wearing these obnoxious bright orange/directing traffic kind of Pure Flow 2's. It's the last in my inventory so I'll be on to the Pure Flow 3's next. "Rest in Peace, blue!!! You did well!"

- I am amazed at how one man/athlete/guy can have such an impact on a city. Things are rolling for Cleveland recently. First, they got picked to host the 2016 Republican National Convention which is HUGE for the city and now LeBron James is returning to the Cavs. Seriously...the ripple effect from his return boggles my mind. Just his announcement has caused a spike in season ticket sales and will benefit every restaurant around the "Q" in downtown Cleveland and pour revenue into the city. Then you have the retail element where his jersey and "LBJ" gear will once again be everywhere and sold on street corners...even counties away like it was 4 years ago. He's just a guy...but wow. I really couldn't care less as I don't have any interest in basketball but I am happy for the fans and the city of Cleveland. It would be awesome to see Cleveland get a championship. We really do have the best fans around, regardless of sport. They/we deserve one! So you go, LBJ...but I'm not going to call you the (K)ing. That's just a bit much for me.

- In closing today, here's a quote to digest for a moment...

"Every run is a work of art, a drawing on each day's canvas. Some runs are shouts and some runs are whispers. Some runs are eulogies and others celebrations. When you're angry, a run can be a sharp slap in the face. When happy, a run is your song. And when your running progresses enough to become the chrysalis through which your life is viewed, motivation is almost beside the point. Rather, it's running that motivates you for everything else the day holds."

-Dagny Scott Barrios, Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running

Have a great rest of your week and Happy Hump Day!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What's Your Kryptonite?

From today's run
Today is the Buckeye Trail 50K. It has been a hallmark 50K in the area and existed long before the trail running boom here in NE Ohio. It was also my first ultra marathon and 50K seven years ago on July 14, 2007. It is a race that has humbled me time and time and time again. I remember sitting in Afghanistan in 2011 totally bummed out that I couldn't be there. I have run it every year since 2007 unless my military duties interfered which has happened a few times. Last year, though, I made a mental note and blogged heavily about the struggle of the BT50K. (last year's report) While I finished and at that time, got my 23rd ultra finish, I swore not to return and suffer like that again. Why? Kryptonite. For me, it's the heat and humidity. Nearly every year, we get baked on those trails, the woods hold in the humidity, and it's a slug fest. Heat and humidity is not everyone's kryptonite, either. I've been told by many that they thrive in it and often, those same people run on a treadmill all winter long. For me, I thrive in the winter. "The colder the better" is what I often say. Some of my fastest 50Ks are in the middle of the winter like this past January's Sasquatch 50K outside Charleston, WV in the mountains. I crushed it. Here's the thing, though: I believe we are all made uniquely and within us we have certain strengths and weaknesses. We're just made differently. I honestly don't know what I could do to become stronger in the heat. This year, actually, I've run more in the sun and heat so I'm probably acclimated more than ever at this point in the year.  Still, though...I suffer. Enter today's run...

I hit the road shortly after 6am and the sun was very much high in the sky, pushing through some really beautiful clouds. I felt pretty good and had lots of intention of going long. I decided to do a half marathon route and measure it's distance again. I was questioning 0.3 mile of it and since I don't wear a Garmin when I run it, I wanted to measure it today since I was wearing my Garmin. Turns out, I was was long at 13.4 miles. Good info to know for the future for my log. Near the point I stretch out my 10 mile course to make it 13.4, I grabbed this great shot over a passing field.

Arriving back home, the sun and clear sky was definitely bearing down and mercury quickly rising along with the humidity. Forecast was headed for mid-80s and sunny. I refilled my Heed bottle and took an Espresso Hammer Gel then headed back out. My aspirations about knocking out a 50K+ today were killed. No way...I actually felt like stopping right there but since only 6.6 more would give me 20 for the day, I headed back out and got it. I suffered for it, though. That was a TOUGH 20 and I was soaked. I actually left my shirt behind at the house when I stopped because it was causing chafing even though I had lubed up. The humidity and sun were certainly taking their toll. Most days in my own "preferred" conditions, 20 isn't anything. Today, it humbled me but you know what it also did? It confirmed a good decision on my sit out the BT50K. Suffering through a race doesn't make me any more a runner or accomplished than sitting it out when I know the "end of the story." I could prepare, eat perfectly, hydrate big time and it wouldn't matter. So while I was kinda regretting not registering when I woke up this morning, I don't any longer. I'd be out there right now suffering yet again for another ultra finish. I'm ok with giving that finish up.

Near the end of today's run, this view below stopped me in my tracks. I haven't enhanced it or anything. It really is that gold and beautiful. I love the contrast between the gold, green and blue sky. Click on it for larger/high resolution version.

So there you go...that's my kryptonite. It is what it is. It's also the reason I don't mess with the idea of a July/August 100 miler in our area. It's just a level of suffering I don't wish to take on again. Been there, done that, got the belt buckle! :) Some might speak down on this position and that's ok. I gotta love it...or I don't wanna do it! "Run Happy!" right? Right.

Streaking day 24 a wrap and 102.2 miles for the month of July after today's run. The streak is certainly assisting me in getting the monthly mileage I want this doubt! Have a great rest of your weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Only" a mile

Day 22.

You see, I have a routine. It typically starts at 3:15am (and yes, I go to bed early), I brew my espresso, I balance out the checking account, answer work and personal e-mails that came in overnight, read a bit, peruse my few social media accounts, and eventually head out the door on a run. Rarely, I hit snooze...and sometimes I am so talented that I not only snooze the alarm on my iPhone but I turn it off in my sleep meaning that it never alarms again. Today at 4:45am, I realize this. Crud. (that's my "Rated G" response)

"But I need a mile. But I don't have the time. Yes I do."

In streaking, I've laid out the rules on the right sidebar of my blog here. You'll see the requirement...1 mile. "But I don't run "just" a mile. I never run less than 5 or 6...otherwise, it's a waste." I have spoken those words in the past and today I ate those words and take them back. I hopped out of bed, threw on yesterday's running clothes, a pair of socks and my Brooks, and even the leash. I haven't run with my dog in quite awhile. Her tail kicked into high gear when he realized what was up.

The air was cool this morning. The sky was clear and first light was cracking the horizon. I know all of my distances from my driveway in 1/2 mile increments in multiple directions so I selected one and head out. Bristol, that's my dog, her tail erected in its typical shepherd's hook style, her ears perched high, and we were off. At 1/2 mile, I was bummed. It was gorgeous out. I wanted to keep going...for miles. The day beckoned, though, and I said "Time to turn around, Bristol. Just a short one today." We got back to my driveway and instead of the soaking, high humidity runs of late where I arrive home soaked, I had barely broke a sweat. In my mind, I was asking myself "Is the streak requirement really only a mile? Perhaps I should run another 1/4 mile to make sure." Yes, it is. Day 22 is complete and my streak is alive.

I'm guessing there are some reading today from the Facebook streaking group. To you all, I've never posted in the group before. I was inspired to start a streak by Michael Friedl who is from my hometown here in NE Ohio but lives in California now. He recently hit 365 days and after running the Comrades Marathon in Africa, got in a mile while waiting in an airport during his trip home to ensure his streak was kept alive. In all honesty, I didn't quite grasp the point of that. Now I do. While "only" a mile, it's a streak that serves as the elephant in the room...the elephant accountability partner. No one else really cares about your streak like you do. Like I do. That elephant, though, won't let you forget and that elephant usually doesn't have to step in and ensure you succeed but it's in times like these where perseverance, dedication, commitment, and downright stubbornness kick in. I have to believe that as a streak grows over time, it's not just the running that benefits. That commitment just has to trickle into the other parts of your a parent, spouse, partner, friend, employee, etc.

You see? It's not "just a mile." Well sure, it is. But it's BIGGER than represents more. For me, it's only Day 22 and most days, you won't see less than 6 miles on my log. But today, it's about something I committed to. To NOT do it says a lot about my character, my level of seeing something through...and on the flip side, to DO it says a lot, too. As a man of integrity (which is my #1 pet peeve), it me...I promised myself. I!!! I think of Jon Sutherland of West Hills, CA. He is a writer and is 63 years old. As of today, his streak is over 45 years long and 16,482 days long, per the registry located here. Yes, you read that correctly. Crazy, eh?! Well, that's a matter of perception, now isn't it?!

So let me encourage you today. Do whatever it takes to achieve what you want to. Commit. Put some kind of accountability in place. Do it. (oh geez, I just went all "Nike" on you! I'm a Brooks Running guy!) ...

It's not "just a mile."

I posted this on Instagram back in May but thought it quite fitting today. Public Instagram feed here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

M-Cubed for 7.7.2014

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

- And BAM! July is here. Just think,'ll be August before we know it, school camps will kick in, county fairs will arrive and school busses/buses will be rolling. Yikes! For now, though, let's enjoy the summer. (Yea..I looked up the plural form for "bus." Turns out, "busses" and "buses" are both correct. There ya go...not even 5am and I already learned something today.)

- Got less than 2 min to watch a fantastic video by Guinness? I'm not a fan of the beverage but I have watched this video about four times and shared it with many. It was released over the July 4th holiday. Based out of Dublin, Ireland, I love how they made the subject of the video (no spoiler!) "international" and not U.S. This short story really applies to any country where a man or woman goes off to serve. "Well done, Guinness! Well done!" Watch below:

"The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character."

- The Minimalists 100-city International Tour is TONIGHT in Cleveland! Ok...I've been sharing thoughts, links, etc. about living with less and more intentionally. A good friend pointed out to me this past week that I've been crossing two people/groups over each accident. I've been referring to this tour but referring to Joshua Becker of becoming minimalist. Yes...very similar but very different! LOL! (Thanks, Tammy!) Anyway, tonight is the talk by The Minimalists, Joshua Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus at the Barking Spider Tavern in Cleveland. The event begins at 7pm and is totally free. You can register here and get all the details if you'd like to come on out. At least read their story and see what they're about. If you're not local, here is their entire tour schedule.

- I shared the following snippet yesterday from a daily reading I wake up to every day. It struck a chord with many so I wanted to re-share it today. Great reminder but perhaps a tough pill to swallow for some, eh? "Your children should know that if they ever fail morally, you will not intervene to spare them from the consequences. But they should also know that no matter how hard they fall, there is always grace in your household. They are always safe in your embrace. They can never slip so far away that your love won't still be there to reach out to them and welcome them home." (Excerpt from Moments With You - July 6)

- I shared some thoughts in yesterday's post about future races that included not running some this year as previously scheduled and considering a return to the 100 mile race in 2015. I took a few steps in that direction within the past 24 hours and scrubbed my hotel reservation for November's Stone Mill 50 Miler in Maryland and in the same breath, booked the Friday night leading into the 20th running of the 2015 Kettle Moraine 100. In my mind, that's like a placeholder and one baby step towards commitment. In my very Type A mind, I need that. I need a plan and a target...something to  ponder and look towards. I did exchange a few e-mails with the co-race directors of the Kettle (Jason and Timo) and unbelievably, they remembered me...5 years later! Why? This blog! I wrote a two part race first 100 mile report and Timo still remembers it and refers runners to it. Pretty cool.

- On Saturday, I wasn't bound by time and ventured off for what became a 22 mile unplanned run. I left my country home and headed to Kent where the annual Heritage Festival was setting up. From country roads to a weaving bike path, through the Kent State University campus and ending up in downtown before running home. I especially enjoyed the bike path first where I saw more adult and baby rabbits than ever before. They were everywhere! I also saw three "Bambi" sized deer cross the path in front of me and mom not far off. Amazing run through there. Here is one photo I snapped as I ran through the empty/sleeping KSU campus, too. Overall, super run and it felt really glad I did what I just felt like doing without being bound by a "plan" or mileage goal to meet.

- Mostly, I don't listen to anything while running. Occasionally, I need some music and fire some up. On that 22 on Saturday, I did something different. I have an app on my iPhone that has every version of the Bible that you can imagine. The book of Romans came to mind first so I opened it up to Romans 1, verse 1 and started the audio feature that began reading it to me. From the first word to the last word of the entire book. That took me about 6 or 7 miles to get through and I loved it! I have never "heard" Romans like that before and it soaked in. For all you theologians out there, forgive me for being over-simplistic here, but my big takeaway from that book is this: Throughout that entire book, it's about cause and effect. Do this...and this happens. Do THIS and THIS happens. Live like crap and guess what...crap will result. Put your trust and faith in Him and an entirely different course will be traveled. Live by works...doesn't work. It seemed to me like Romans gave that message 10 different ways as if to drill it in...relentlessly...until they got it...until WE get it. It was also like looking at so many in our society live and how our government is run. I SAYS it right there! Do this and this will happen! Kinda like saying "You were warned!!!" I may not be making any sense to you or perhaps I am. Either way, it's worth a read or listen (if you're like me and reading never soaks in) if I've peaked your curiosity. Here is one quote that really stuck in my head...from chapter 5, verses 3 and 4. I should make it my life verse!

"...but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope..."

Ya know...I could totally relate that to endurance running...but I won't...but I could! :)

- I've got a running streak to maintain so that'll do for today, friends. Sunrise beckons. Have a super week and go live like there is no tomorrow, love and hug those entrusted to you and live intentionally. Live for others and the joy will come to you. Believe it!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Self-Analysis and Staying On Course

Much has happened throughout the past week including a family vacation to Virginia and I have a lot of time to process so much in my life and today, I just want to flesh it out a bit. I'm definitely a photo hog and I'm not going to flood this post with countless vacation photos. I post more than anywhere on Instagram so if you want to follow there, I'd search for "rtrsbm" and follow. It's a public feed so anyone can search/find/follow. Overall, it was a perfect vacation where we used Williamsburg, VA as a home base and spent a day at Busch Gardens, a few days in historic Yorktown at their public beach, I sought out a few local craft brewers, another day at the Virginia Beach oceanfront and visits to many places we frequented during our many years living there in the 90s, and a day with longtime friends enjoying some BBQ and even Transformers in a BIG way in IMAX and 3D. Great trip...great recalling of memories..great new memories.
Feel free to click on for high resolution photo and save/share/make your desktop! (Va Beach Oceanfront)
I have considered many different things over the past week. One is my Navy career. As I approach the 17 year point in a career that began in 1991 (plus a 6yr gap), the decision on whether or not to retire or not will be here before I know it. I absolutely love being in uniform but roadblocks erected in my path as of late to return to a full-time in-the-fleet status has me considering all options. I have prayed heavily on this issue and like I told my wife yesterday, I don't want to get to Heaven one day and hear: "You prayed, I answered...why didn't you listen?!" (H)e has made it abundantly clear within the past month that I'm not to return to the fleet and that has been a tough pill to swallow. So, I will continue on my current short term (~4 more years) active duty stint and pray for future direction. Retire or continue within a reserve capacity...those are the questions that I'll continue to toss around. I am confident that my pursuit of the fleet has ended.

I've also considered a lot with regards to my running. I've been wearing the eagle of Team RWB (Red, White and Blue) but will be keeping that on the shelf for the time being. You'll notice the logo is no longer on my blog sidebar. While I have met new friends due to wearing the eagle at races, I'm at a loss as to what exactly Team RWB exists for. What are they "actually" doing? What good comes from me wearing it? Take the Patriot Runners, for example, out of Medina, OH. I've been wearing their jersey as of late. (here's a photo from yesterday's 22 miler where I stopped at the Veterans Memorial in Kent, OH) They are a non-profit that raises money for local wounded warriors. They literally take their funds and DO things locally for local warriors to help improve their lives and reintegration into life. THAT'S the kind of thing I want to run for, support and raise awareness for.  This is a constant and evolving conversation in my head and I'm sure won't end anytime soon. For now...that's where I am. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't want the benefit, I don't want the focus...I want to be a cog in the wheel of something greater...make sense? I'm also still sponsored by Hammer Nutrition and Brooks Running so you'll always see them in one way or another.

Along the running vein, the year is half over now. I've run 6 races from the marathon to the 100K distance and set a few personal records in my 17th year of distance running. I honestly feel in possibly the best shape of my life. For the second six months, I am registered for the Akron half and the YUT-C 50K, both in September. On my racing calendar (see top of this page), you'll also see a 50K next month, a 50 miler in November, and a half marathon, too. I can't put a finger on it, but my desire to register for ANYTHING right now is zero. It's not a loss of passion to run...most definitely not. I am currently on Day 18 of my running streak and just wrapped up a 61+ mile week where 6 of those 7 days were on vacation. I can't wait to run in the morning and for no other reason than the pure joy of it. I bound myself only by time. If I have the time, I'm just going to keep on running and if I only have 45min, then that's what it'll have to be. Different routes, photos, sunrises, pouring/torrential rains, the birds singing...I just soak it all in and find real, authentic joy from it. For now, that's all I crave. My mind does drift now and then about returning to the 100 mile race monster. It's now been almost five years since my last finish. I haven't attempted another one since. I have kicked around the idea of returning to the Kettle Moraine 100 in southern Wisconsin next year for their 20th anniversary. It's a race where I can be totally anonymous and just run my race. The KM100 was my first 100-mile finish in June 2009 and I loved it all. No other 100 even has my interest right now. But I'm just kicking it decisions...just mental wanderings...

Every day, I make a choice to be who I want to be, serve whom I want to serve and love whom I wish to love. The only rules that I have to remember are that 1) It's not about me, 2) Make it about others and the joy will come, 3) Do what I love, love what I do, and have no regrets and 4) Forgive often, hold no grudges, and move on. From the Navy to who I represent when I run to the reasons I lace up everyday and what races I show up at...these rules are great to live by. Even this blog continues to exist (after almost shutting down countless times) because I impacted someone's life through something I did or wrote and they let me know...reminding me that even this is not about me. I mean, it IS about me but it's not. That's been my driving force for years now and still remains impact just one person and make a difference in their life for the better. Confirmations of this mission keep me going.

Before I say goodbye today, I have to share these two photos. When we went to Virginia Beach, we parked along the street far north of the tourist area. There is free parking and the beach is essentially empty. Perfect if you just want to smell the ocean air, listen to the waves crashing, and relax privately as a family. As soon as we put down our chairs, the girls were yelling about us coming to see something. They spotted a crab in the surf and it would move away with every movement towards it. I grabbed my Nikon and snapped several photos. These two are the best. The second one is right before it was pulled out in the surf and it's covered in bubbles. Cool, eh?! That little bugger moved fast!

Thanks for listening, friends. Have a fantabulous week!