Sunday, August 24, 2014

Taking a Break

Hey friends. I'm going to take a writing break for awhile publicly. However, I'll still be posting to my Instagram, Twitter feed, and public Facebook page if you want to stay in touch. Of course, my running log and streak are alive and well and will continue driving forward. All the best and have a great Fall! Below...a photo from the 22nd mile of the Akron Marathon from yesterday's training run on the "Blue Line"...we knocked out a 22 miler. :) Get out there and Run Happy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

M-Cubed for 8.18.2014

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

- Fair Week! In my neck of the woods, it's all about 4-H clubs, demolition derbies, truck pulls, livestock sales, "carnies," sausage sandwiches, and for me, my annual Amish-style funnel cake. One year several years ago, they tried to start the school year prior to the fair. That didn't go over too well! Two days after the fair ends, school starts. The fair, for us, is one of those timeless things. You can basically time warp back to high school, sans the 80s big hair, acid washed jeans, and pegged up pants. Always a great time!

- Here in just under 4 weeks is the 10th annual YUT-C 50K and 25K. (read: Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic) It's held in Youngstown, OH on the trails of Mill Creek Park that is sandwiched between Youngstown and Boardman. I was actually born in Youngstown and went to school in Boardman through the 5th grade. This past Saturday was the annual familiarization run. We had a handful of runners (pictured here at the Old Log Cabin) show up for the late 9am start and all enjoyed a dry, fun, sunny 11.5 miles on the course. For a few, it was their first time at Mill Creek. If you're looking for a 50K, I encourage you to come on out! The 25K is already sold out.

- Before YUT-C, though, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels are coming to town! In only two weeks, they will be thundering across the Cleveland sky and if someone is dozing off at their downtown desk, they'll be woke up quite often. One cool part of my current gig is being involved with the big weekend over Labor Day. A week from today, in fact, one of the Blue Angels will be flying into town for one more big meeting with the powers-that-be and I'll be there. I drive my white 4-door sedan to work, he flies his Blue Angel. Tough gig!

- In downtown Akron is the Child Guidance and Family Solutions building at the corner of Forge St. and Market. They provide behavioral health treatment to over 4000 adults and 1000 children every year. As a part of their fundraising efforts, they began a "Food Truck Friday" in their parking lot this year that begins at 11am and ends at 1:30pm. This year's "season" ends on September 12th so you still have a few weeks to make it out. Here was the scene on Friday during my first visit. There is a very wide selection so anyone will find something they like. Head on out and enjoy!

- It is the halfway point of August (or just over, actually) so it's good to check in on the running log. As of last night's humid, thick 80F just-prior-to-sunset-hilly-country-8.2-miler, I stand at just under 123 miles for August. While it "feels" like I haven't been running much, I'm right on track for another 200 or more mile month. Bazinga! Along with last night's run, I got home and while logging my run, I had the pleasant surprise of realizing I racked up running streak day #60! Little landmarks certainly put a grin on my face. Here was a little collage I whipped together post-run. I really like the corn photo at the bottom. That was from the run, too...not a stock photo or a photo from another day. The corn is so prevalent right now that it's aroma fills the air. I love it, actually.
- Happiness. Or Happyness, if you've seen the Will Smith movie. Ever think "If I only lived in "xyz," then I'd be happier or happy, period? I know I have and we have. Heck, it's been a conversation that repeats itself annually in the middle of the harsh winter we seem to always get here in NE Ohio. Lately, though, I have come to accept and believe that while living in other parts of the country sounds very appealing (and may very well be), that in itself will not make me happy or assure me of such joy that I should pack it all up, including my family, and head on down, over, or up there. Strip everything away and what truly matters is __________. (fill in the blank) What is it for you? Empty your house, lose your job, send the majority of your friends away...and what matters? For me, it's my bride and the fun, joyful times we spend together. It may be laughing, snuggling, going on a walk, or just watching a movie together on the couch. I say all of this because it's important to ground ourselves often when we get so wrapped up in the day to day grind of life. As our schedules fill or remain full, how are we/you allocating time to what matters most? That answer should reset your life and schedule if you're truly honest with yourself. Anyway, those are some deep thoughts for you as you begin this week.

- Speaking of quality time, this past Saturday was an event dubbed "Rootsfest" at the local winery in my hometown. If you would've told me there would be a winery in my little country hometown even 10 years ago, I would've never believed it. Turns out, it's one of our favorites and a few times a year, I'll run by their vineyard and run through the rows of vines. At the event, it was filled with local craft artisans, live music, and vino! After a morning for me on the trails, we sectioned off some early evening time alone and headed on over to Barrel Run Crossing Winery and Vineyard. It was so perfect. After checking out the vendors, we ordered up a great meat, cheese and cracker plate and enjoyed our favorite bottle of Mahoning River Red. We are fans of sweet to semi-sweet reds so this hit the spot. The music was great, too, as was my "company." We have a tradition, you see. Instead of just "drinking," we savor each sip via toast. No toast, no sip. Some days, we'll have a theme like "something we're thankful for." If you want to really encourage quality communication and hear each other's heart on a variety of things, get away with him or her and do this. Take your time. It simply ranks so high up there for "quality time" with my bride, I can't quite give it the praise it's due. Below are two of our spread and the other, of vines right next to our car where we parked (in the vineyard.) I had never actually seen bunches of grapes ON the vine IN a vineyard before! So awesome!

- As I wrap up this week's M-Cubed, I'd like to share this quote. While it does appear "running centric" at first, it applies to so many things we all do in life, regardless of the subject matter. A life of comparison can be a wrecking ball to your motivation and purpose for anything. Be YOU. Don't compare. Set goals. Achieve. For you...not them.

"Don't compare yourself with anyone else. The world is full of runners, so you'll probably see one every time you circle the block or your favorite park. Some will be thinner than you, some smoother-striding, some faster. But don't let this get you down. There's only one runner who really counts: you. Running is your activity. Make it work for you, and don't worry about anyone else."

-Amby Burfoot, Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running

Have a great week, everyone! Time to run! :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

M-Cubed for 8.11.2014

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

- Summer's over!!! Ok, ok...not so fast, but 'tis the time for Back-to-School shopping, late county fairs, welcome back events at local colleges, and school sport and band practices each morning. For us, we still have a few more weeks but it's been a great summer. Our girls just finished their annual overnight camp at Camp Carl in southern Portage County and loved it again. Make the best of it!

- While our girls were at the aforementioned camp, we decided to capitalize on the opportunity for a getaway...just us. At nearly 22 years in of marriage, we still love to get away with each other. The stress and anxiety slips away, we laugh, we sleep in, we walk a lot and talk...and enjoy the silence, and simply love loving each other alone. For the past week, we took about a 7 1/2 hour jaunt east to the beach but for many people, not a beach known by the masses. We went to Rehoboth Beach in southern Delaware. Essentially, if you draw a diagonal line pointing southeast between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, that's the way...on I-70. "How did you come up with that idea?" you might ask. Well, as many know, I'm a bit of a craft beer snob and we were watching TLC's "Brewmasters" on Netflix many months ago where they followed the owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery around. Well, their original brewpub is in Rehoboth Beach and their full production brewery is a short 25min drive into the country in Milton, DE. Bingo! Beach, craft beer, a new state, exploration...perfect for us. I could write a book on the week but let me just give you some bullet points and share a few photos. Otherwise, I'll type all day and not get anything done! Photos at the end but be sure to scroll on past those for more M-Cubed!

  • We stayed at the Royal Rose stinkin' block from the boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean. We found it highly rated on TripAdvisor and would absolutely go back. We especially enjoyed the homemade breakfast each morning by Andy and sitting on the front porch at night, enjoying the evening breeze and meeting/talking with other guests at the Inn.
  • Rehoboth Beach is definitely tourist heavy but it doesn't spread for blocks and blocks in every direction like Virginia Beach, for example. Essentially, tourists and their families (insert CRAZY here) stick heavily to Rehoboth Avenue where the bulk of shops are and the super wide boardwalk that is exactly 1 mile long. The beach was packed in that area but if you went left or right of it, it was uncrowded and awesome. (photo under bullets of a typical evening on the boardwalk)
  • We stayed a 10min walk from the Dogfish Head Brewpub. In a word...pure awesomeness. OK, that's two words...but seriously, we went twice.
  • Thrasher's homemade They are a staple in the area...since 1929. Again, I ate twice from there...a medium $7 bucket of french fries. Crispy, full of Idaho potato flavor...just amazing. Cooked in peanut oil, too. I rationalized that I was eating a healthy snack...peanut oil is good + vegetables...right!? (I would eat another bucket this moment if you placed them in front of me.) Find them a few places along the boardwalk.
  • Brewery Tour...go. They all fill up on every day and are offered several times a day. Free, too. Get there early and sign up and enjoy four free tastings in their tasting room. Hungry? They have "Paul Bunyan's Lunchbox" that is essentially a miniature food truck set up adjacent to the tasting room. Think brats meet Dogfish Head beer...with lots of creativity thrown in. All the details at
  • The surrounding areas of the tourist trap area are beautiful. Just start walking and enjoy. Established, beautiful neighborhoods from small, seaside cottages to sprawling mansions. Well kept, safe, tons of color and foliage, and the ocean breeze blowing through the town. If you go to Rehoboth and only stay in the tourist trap, you're robbing yourself.
  • If you're afraid of heights, hold your breath crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on your way into Delaware or out. Wowsers....two hands on the wheel and look straight ahead!
  • Plenty of running options...AND they have a marathon and half marathon in early December...about 2400 people run it according to the local running store we visited. I especially enjoyed running in Henlopen State Park along the water at below.

The ridiculously hopped and rare 120min IPA. Wow. First time ever!

Me in front of the metal treehouse at Dogfish Head. If you've watched Brewmasters, you've seen the episode when this was assembled. Pretty cool!

The BEST tap line on the planet! Love the tap handles, the brews...all of it. They were offering one through their Randall this day, too...that's the Randall at the bottom left. My favorites on the board? The ancient ale "Kvasir," Burton Baton (Imperial IPA), 90min IPA, Saison Du Buff (brought some home! 3-way collaboration brew), Chicory Stout (like chocolate and coffee? LOVED it) and last but not least, the 120min IPA. See that ABV? the chart crazy and good.

Sunrise Run on Day exploration day

Looks silky and creamy, right? It is...this is their rare 75min IPA but from the cask. No carbonation or nitrogen. Simply gravity poured (or pumped) from the cask. Enjoyed at the original brewpub in Rehoboth.

Visit #2 for the tour. The "lunchbox" is at the far right.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that continues to inspire everything they do.  In summary, they came up with the quote "Off Centered Ales for Off Centered People". And they are...totally thinking outside the box in all they do.

As part of the tour, we visited their brand new "warehouse" where the new bottling line is and saw this. Thousands of bottles of "Punkin" waiting for the Fall season to arrive. Wow! September 2014 release!

This was our sunrise run. My wife ran her 13th consecutive month of a half marathon per month. This was around mile 5 or 6 of it within Henlopen State Park. The photo doesn't do it justice.

A typical evening in the tourist-trap section of the boardwalk.

- OK, so this is more of a beach vacation post, rather than a M-Cubed post...but in keeping with history, just a few more smatterings, ok? OK.

- A friend of mine who has been running for a few years now and has shed a whopping 80 pounds in the process joined me for 19.1 miles on Saturday. He had no familiarization with Kent at all and since he's in the peak of training for his 2nd marathon, I offered to run with him and lead the way. Totally unplanned route but awesome all the same. We ran along the Cuyahoga River for miles, hit up Towner's Woods park for some trails, just barely touched the Kent State campus, and wrapped up with some downtown Kent and a stroll through the Haymaker Farmer's Market as they were setting up. Great, cool morning sunny run! We cooled down with a walk up to Tree City Coffee before getting on with our day. "Great job, Jarod!!" (He also became a believer in Hammer's beans!)

- Do you follow Humans of New York on Facebook? If not, it's basically a photographer on the streets of NYC who photographs just about anyone and asks them or two questions that he posts with the photo. Candid and unfiltered, his page has garnered over 8.9 million followers. Well, he is currently on a 50 day trip around the world and is currently posting photos and brief conversations with the people of Iraq. As you know, Iraq is back in the news and we just began air strikes once again. I highly, highly recommend you "like" their page and read/view some. It will change your perspective on the people of Iraq and give yourself some perspective...unlike what you'll get in the mainstream news. Check it out here!

- That's more than enough to get you through your Monday morning java. Before I leave you, though, I'd like to share a "poem" that just kinda fell out of my skull Friday morning. The back-story is this, though: I wanted to run in the ocean before we left the beach but we had to be on the road quite early. To keep my running streak alive, I planned to get just a mile or two before dawn. I was out the door before 5am, running in nothing but a pair of shorts down the asphalt Baltimore, heading to the crashing waves on the oceanfront. I "penned" the following immediately following my short 2.4 mile barefoot run. Have a great week!

The last day awoke me
Dark sky, faint stars
The sleeping seaside resort town
Slept, streets quiet and dimly lit

Before I leave, though
I had but one wish
To run in the ocean
To smell the ocean mist

A pair of shorts, a key to the room
Barefoot on asphalt, eyes ahead to the water
Toes dug deep into the sand
The boardwalk behind me

The tide is high
Waves are crashing strong
Difficult to see, just an outline of wet sand
Splashing began

Eyes open, eyes shut
Run towards the water, escape a crashing wave
Shorts getting wet, legs covered in sand
THIS is peace, this is shelter from the storm

I find my mind wandering
In thankfulness, humility, and quiet
A special run, the ability to run
Each step sinking into the wet sand

The stars are dim above
Barely visible with the tourist lights of the boardwalk
This is soon going to end, to the ocean I will say Goodbye
Thankful to run, thankful for the ocean breeze, no chains holding me down

Eyes open, eyes shut
Ahh, the aroma and sound of the ocean
Beneath my feet, the crashing waves and suds of the surf
I'll miss you, mighty Atlantic, don't let me forget this

Return to ashalt, sand falling off my toes
A sleeping town, reality sleeps
Thankful, I am...full I have become
Good morning. No...perfect morning. Rise and Shine.

Monday, August 4, 2014

M-Cubed for 8.4.2014

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

- Yesterday was the conclusion of the this year's installment of the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. Thanks to the new Timehop app on my iPhone, I've been reminded about it consistently for the past 4 or 5 days. While I may not be a part of the event anymore, it is still a fantastic race that represents our entire area well. The logistics and level of volunteers it takes to put on a 100-mile event that begins east of Cleveland and ends far south in Cuyahoga Falls is mind-boggling. From everything I've seen online, it went off very well and while I know few of the participants anymore, many got their 100 mile buckle or killed the course as part of a relay team. Well done to you if you were one of them!

- If you missed it, I wrapped up July back on Thursday here. Hit the goal, passed the goal, and set a new lifetime one month mileage record. Kept the streak alive, too. Also mentioned my new plans for 2015 and my return to the 100 mile race distance. It's finally time to "buckle" up again...or in this case, "kettle." Here my month-in-review.

- Sunday night (last night)...8-10pm...NPR was exactly what I needed. The strings, the ivory...magical.

- Been pretty quiet so far for August in the mileage category. I'm still logging daily miles and haven't gone over 10 miles in over a week. Just running what I feel like running and cruising along. On Saturday, I took my nearly 3 year old dog to Kent, OH for a run along the Cuyahoga River, through the Farmer's Market, and enjoyed an awesome pork burrito from my favorite burrito shop...Taco Tonto's. Bristol did really well over our 6 miles but wow, she was pooped at the end. I treated her to a bowl of water and some of her homemade peanut butter and oatmeal dog treats. Here is our own personal selfie with our paws in the Cuyahoga River.

- I'm a poor poor reader. My oldest daughter can read a 2" thick novel in a few days. I can't get through a chapter of hardly any book and tell you what I read. (there are a few exceptions, of course..just a few) One thing I know I need to be reading more of is my Bible. I know it. Otherwise, I'm just like every other person out there who calls them self a Christian yet doesn't get in the Word. Luckily, in the world of smart phones, we have apps and I have the YouBible app that'll read it to you, with character and not boring. Any version, too. So about a week ago, I just felt like the book of Acts was a book I should read (oops, I mean listen to). I must say...I "hear" much more of it and retain it much better when I listen to it as I run. I do know that many who read here don't believe as I do but I ask even you to give me some latitude here just to share a passage that stuck with me. First, let me just say that I pray...a LOT. I pray for direction, I pray that MY will be HIS will and that my decisions are not my own. I pray for protection over myself, my family, my home...and protection from the unseen and evil that lurks....and is so very real. Those are (without details) things I pray for daily...often multiple times and often while I run...and then I listen. With that being said, I was listening in Acts 5 near the end. The Apostles are preaching and teaching and have come before the leaders who want them killed because of it. A man, a teacher, well respected and liked came before them and told the story of those who have opposed the Apostles prior and their fate.

Acts 5:38-39 (NIV) reads: "Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." 

I find reassurance from these two verses. If I make them my own, they would read: "...for if MY purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, I will be not be able to be stopped and those who try to stop me (human or the spiritual realm) will only find themselves fighting against God." Bottom Line: If I keep my eyes focused on Him, follow Him, then I will not fail in His eyes. He will be glorified. It may be a rocky, painful road...but ultimately in the end, I will not fail to the One who matters most.

- This past week, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels announced their 2015 team. From demonstration pilots to the crew to the doc to the supply officer, it's quite a career milestone to be selected to be on the Team. The highlight of the announcement was the first-ever woman to serve as a Blue Angel pilot. Marine Capt. Katie Higgins, a 2008 U.S. Naval Academy graduate was picked for the 2015 Team. Other women have served with the Angels but none as one of the aviators. Here is the story if you'd like to learn a little more about Capt. Higgins and her background. For those of you local to NE Ohio, the Angels are coming to Cleveland over Labor Day weekend! I'm actually meeting one at the last organizational planning meeting the Monday prior when he flies into town.

- I take photos on almost every run I do. While running along the Cuyahoga River on Saturday, these little nickel-sized "weeds" along the trail stopped me in my tracks. I really love how it came out, especially since I took it with nothing but my iPhone...quickly as the sweat was dripping. I just love the color, angles, and perfection of this "weed" and "flower."

- Thanks to NPR, I ran across this video from 2013 a few days ago. It was filmed at a TED event in Canada last year and in a short 6 minutes, Drew Dudley brings it home. It's titled "Everyday Leadership" and the article by NPR posted has the headline "Have You Changed Someone's Life Without Realizing It?" It is really good and I highly recommend the watch/listen. If you don't have time now, come on back later and give it a listen. (We never know the kind of impact we might/can have!)

- Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages. "Uh's comes the marriage/relationship advice!" Actually, that is the title of this article I read this past week. If you are the kind that never clicks on my links, let me just include the bullet points...the top 5 secrets for him and her.

Guys first. When it comes to your wife, here are the five things that make her happy.
  1. Take her by the hand.
  2. Leave her a voice mail message, text message, or email to tell her you love her and are thinking about her.
  3. Put your arm around her, or your hand on her knee when you're sitting next to her (especially when you're in public).
  4. Sincerely tell her she's beautiful.
  5. Pull yourself out of a funk.
That’s it. Believe it or not, when Shaunti asked wives, between 72-82 percent said these five actions deeply pleased them. That's not just the happy wives, but all wives. Even two-thirds of the wives in struggling marriages strongly agreed these are the things that make her happy.

And now, here are the five things Shaunti found that please husbands the most:
  1. Notice his effort and sincerely thanks him for it.
  2. Say, "You did a great job at __________."
  3. Mention in front of others something he did well.
  4. Show him that you desire him sexually, and he pleases you sexually.
  5. Make it clear to him that he makes you happy.
As you know, wives, men are often pretty simple and aren’t too hard to please. Just do a couple of things. Oh, if you’re thinking that #4 is the most important thing on a guy’s list, think again. It’s #5. Almost 90 percent of men said knowing that they make their wife highly happy is what makes them highly happy.

So go ahead...try a few...or heck, try just ONE for starters! :)

- As I close out today's M-Cubed and get this week moving, I ran across this great Top 10 List: "10 Great Pinterest Quotes for Ultra Runners." Among them, the one below is one of my favorites but honestly, they are all really good (and true).

Have a great week, everyone, and keep "Running Happy" and "Hammer On!"

August 1st Sunrise over the cornfield #fromtherun