Monday, December 29, 2014

M-Cubed for 12.29.2014

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

- 2083.70 miles. That's my total miles for 2014 as of this morning with 3 days left in 2014 to log miles. On September 1st, I was on track 2400 but a course correction was made and I'm all the better because of it. Now? Well, I'm a bit OCD when it comes to my running log so I'd sure like to see 2100.00 on my 2014 log so I'm thinking a few miles on each of these last 3 days is in order. 16.3 is all I need!

- If you've been around here awhile, you will remember a group run dubbed the Annual Waterfalls Group Run. This past Saturday was the 8th running of it. Back in 2007, I came up with the idea of gathering a few friends together (about 10 of us back then) on the last Saturday of the year and visiting each of the 3 main waterfalls in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and take photos at each...simply to celebrate the outgoing year and welcome in the new year. The "fun factor" of the run caught on and for the past several years, somewhere between 200-400 runners show up. Every year, people rave about the fun and now groups have formed that carpool from 1-2 hours away. Many head to a local restaurant afterwards for an early lunch and beverages as well. 3 years ago, I decided to harness the power of the local running community and give back. Locally, I chose Freedom House Kent to support which is a transitional home for male veterans who are recently homeless and often struggling with some kind of addiction. The house counsels them, provides a roof and food, and helps get them up on their own two feet again...eventually in an apartment of their own and hopefully with a job, too. They have a big donation list of non-perishables so I collected those items and some petty cash. This year (the 3rd), I did it again and wow...just humbled! I stuffed our SUV more than ever and collected a whopping $1115 in cash, gift cards, and checks! With all of that, I didn't run the group run and instead, my wife and I left the park and drove straight to the Freedom House where the vets helped us offload the goods. Just a priceless experience and one that tugs at my heartstrings every time. The Freedom House Kent has been at-capacity for months and no matter what their past, these men are my brothers and I consider it an honor to come alongside them. If you are reading this and are one who has supported this, thank you so much! Below are the two starts of the run (8am and 9am from Lock 29 and Boston Store, respectively) and the 3rd photo is our packed SUV. If you want to learn more about Freedom House Kent, you can check out their website here. You can also "like" the group run's Facebook page here. The 9th annual group run will take place on Saturday, December 26, 2015.

8am, Lock 29, 17 mile start
9am, Boston Store, 7 mile start (8am starters are running through here at this time, too)
The front seat and floor was full, too!
- How was your Christmas? Ours was low-key and perfect as such. My most-received gift was a variation of Reese's Peanut Butter and Chocolate eggs or hearts. I even got one large one made in the shape of a snowboarder. All are currently frozen in the freezer to maximize the length of time I can enjoy them and avoid over-consumption! We enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve family photo and a traditional ham-and-eggs breakfast on Christmas morning made by my wife along with egg nog. Oh so good! The Christmas spirit wrapped up last night as the tree came down and only the snowmen remain on bookshelves and around the house. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

- Lots of movies out there right now and some good and many just "eh." For us, we saw "Unbroken" a few days ago and loved it. There is a reason it's received multiple Golden Globe nominations. I highly recommend it! The only reason it has a PG-13 rating is the violence. For language, it was clean which is amazing considering it is a military-centric movie. I'm still most looking forward to seeing American Sniper...opening wide on January 16th.

- Are you a Michael W. Smith fan? For those unfamiliar with the Christian music scene, he is hugely successful there. Well, I heard his story for the first time two days ago that I had never heard before. At the age of 17 and continuing for the next 3 years, lots of drugs and a spiral fall ensued bringing him near death. Hear his story from him directly in this short video here. Amazing and inspiring!

- CrossFit continues to rage on! Today, I'll wrap up my 8th consecutive week. It continues to be as challenging as heck but I love it. Running is still remaining strong with over a 50% reduction in monthly mileage and physically I'm different. In this short time, the few changes are more definition in my upper body and a slimming waist as indicated by every pair of jeans or pants I wear. (I've already bought two new pairs of jeans of smaller sizes.) My running shorts are also starting to fit a bit "sloppy" so no doubt, I'm changing. One thing I've read many times in articles has addressed long-time runners who don't lose weight anymore. They all say that the key is to add strength training. Well, I can attest to that! It works. On Christmas Eve, I not only got in a Christmas CrossFit workout in fine "tabata" fashion but ran 1/2 marathon home! I just love doing that...especially from a gym where most hate on running. :) My guilty pleasure. The image here was that day's workout and proof of the half marathon that followed...fueled by Hammer Nutrition, of course.

- Did you see "Restrepo"? It is the documentary was shot in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. It is a raw, in-your-face story of war and was released to wide acclaim a few years back. Well, additional footage gathered during that same period of time was put into a sequel of sorts and called "Korengal." Where the first movie took us on missions with the soldiers, this is more of an interview-style of movie and takes us deep into the personal side of our soldiers. I highly recommend it if you saw Restrepo. It is on Netflix now.

- About this time next week, I will owe you another race report. The Frozen Sasquatch 50K is this Saturday just outside Charleston, WV...another fine event put on by the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners. Last year, the start was in the teens and rose to near 40. I remember ice and lots of it. This year with the much warmer temps and rain, it will be quite a different course and this Friday/Saturday forecast guarantees it along with a week with no snow in the forecast. I'm really looking forward to it! It will be my 60th race of a marathon or longer. Specifically, this will be the 32nd ultra marathon (I have 28 marathon finishes). Sheesh! It will also be my first ultra since starting CrossFit. I am eager to see my new routine's effect on my ultra running performance. Big plans for 2015 if all goes well!

- I normally end M-Cubed with some kind of inspirational quote. Today, I'll leave you with one of my own from yesterday. I enjoyed a quiet, peaceful 10 miles in the country yesterday afternoon after church...nice and hilly. Below is a pic I captured at mile 8 and the thoughts I had as I went through this hilly section. (The pic doesn't do the hills justice...there are two successive "cereal bowls" in this stretch as I like to call them.) Have a GREAT week, everyone, and Happy New Year!

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