Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 in Review

So I keep seeing these 2015 in Review links in my Facebook feed and honestly, they don't say much. A few photos and that's it. So I started to scroll...and scroll...and scroll. If you want to get an idea of how much you post in a year, get your thumb ready and start flipping. I was shocked. So I did, I grabbed a napkin, took some notes as a good outliner would and here's a truncated review as I remember...and how my FB feed reminded me. Not all-inclusive...and that's ok. :)

As a goal setter for years, I had 2015 goals and instead of digging them up in a prior blog, let's just agree that I didn't hit them. I know I didn't because they included multiple races, a return to the 100 miler, multiple CrossFit competitions. None of that happened. I have experienced significant physical change in the last 6 months, though. (no photo proof coming!) Regarding goals, though, what DID happen is on January 3rd, I ran my 60th race of a marathon or longer, the Frozen Sasquatch 50K down outside Charleston, WV. I did it on very little training but somehow squeezed out a 10th overall finish. It was my 32nd ultra-marathon. It was my 2nd trip down there and this time, a good friend from North Carolina joined me. Her husband came along (photo cred here) and so did my wife and girls. It was a great race and trip! The rest of January was frigid as was the whole winter. We got a killer winter with cold and snow. Ironically, we have the opposite this winter (knock on wood, someone!) and yet to have any measurable white stuff. On January 12th, I took one of my CrossFit goals (and handstand pushup) and incorporated it into some snowman making with my girls. Not too bad, eh?!

CrossFit began back on November 4, 2014 and sheesh, it was in my feed a crazy amount all winter long. I won't even begin to touch on everything in there. Bottom Line: We were very dedicated and rarely missed a class. We tried hard, gave it our all, but eventually, our time would end at that first gym. The coaching just wasn't there. In late January, I got a taste of what another gym was like and traveled over near the Pittsburgh airport to CrossFit Steeltown and did a partner workout with a friend of mine. It was a BLAST! Great time. That was my first exposure to another CrossFit gym outside of my own. One other little note I noticed in my timeline from then...Parenthood. My wife and I become truly addicted to the NBC series and after getting back from Pittsburgh, we wrapped it up. So sad to see it go!

The SuperBowl was around the corner on February 1st and on Super Saturday, the day prior, I hosted a men's all-day event at my house dubbed "Stepping Up." It was centered around manhood and what that looks like. I had a good group of men there that day, great conversation, and hopefully some men left empowered and challenged to step up as men in a world where that has become mucked up, at best.

What's awesome right in the middle of a bitter NE Ohio winter?! A cruise! For Valentine's week, we flew to Miami for the "Love Like You Mean It" marriage cruise with FamilyLife out of Little Rock, AR.  They chartered out an entire Carnival ship for the cruise and honestly, it was one of the best (if not the best) cruise we've ever been good that we booked the 2016 sailing before we even got back. It was a great time, we met some new friends, and sailed with well-known artists, authors, and speakers. We even got to preview the hit movie, "War Room" that came out in August months before the release then sit in on a Q&A after the movie with the stars, writers, and director. Such a great time!

Enter March 2015 and the CrossFit Open! This is the beginning of process that eventually leads to the CrossFit Games in Carson, CA, where the elite of the elite battle it out on a worldwide stage. For the Open, though, athletes (loose term, there) from affiliates across the globe participate in 5 workouts over 5 weeks. It was a humbling 5 weeks for sure, but I'm glad I did it. Will I do it in 2016? Not so sure. My CrossFit goals, etc. are in the midst of change right now so we'll see.

Also in March, though, my wife and I led another marriage retreat down in Amish Country in north central Ohio. It was another GREAT turnout and honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better result. While we were part of a church, we invited people from all walks of our life so it was a true melting pot that showed up. All in all, we loved it, we really enjoyed leading it, and hope to do it again someday. Unfortunately, little did we know that God would say "It's time to go" a few months later and we left that church where we were so deeply involved. Fortunately, though, He had a plan and a home to go to and we quickly found ourselves integrated again. Will we ever lead in this way again? Only time will tell! We'll be ready, though, if the call ever comes again.

Spring finally sprang in northeast Ohio and Easter rolled on by. With this came the end of April and time to run my 29th marathon, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon. Well, since my running took a huge dive in mileage since the fall of 2014 and I didn't make any distinct efforts to raise it, this 26.2 miles got done but it wasn't pretty! My fitness, while very good, doesn't automatically include sustained endurance over the long haul. will lose it...and I did. Still, I finished with a respectable time and glad I did. I plan to return for it again in 2016 but I'd better prepare...or else!

June arrived, the kids got out of school, and off to Cape Cod we went for a family vacation. Cape Cod potato chips, a visit to the craft brewery Cape Cod Beer, Plymouth Rock, a tour aboard the Mayflower II, and heck, the Mayflower Brewing Company, too! And that was only the day we went north. We also took a day trip to Newport, RI, to show everyone the mansions, walk around Fort Adams, peer in the windows of the Eisenhower House and walk around the Navy base. It was a super vacation and the girls loved it, too. With June, we also left our original CrossFit gym and joined another, in only it's 2nd month of being open. It was a huge course correction, change in schedule, and actual one-on-one coaching. Later that month, my wife and I did our first CrossFit competition at the gym near Pittsburgh that I mentioned earlier. We had a GREAT time and gave it our all. CrossFit Steeltown put on a great event and really made everyone feel welcome, no matter what the ability. Will we return for 2016? Unlikely but we have nothing but great memories from 2015. The photo on the top of my blog where I'm in a handstand is from that event.

July brought the July 4th holiday and I made a last minute decision to race a 5K in my favorite town, Kent, Ohio. It's directed by a friend of mine that I ran my one and only 100 kilometer race with several years ago. It starts just off campus at Kent State University and runs through the very hilly campus. In the end, I somehow won my age group in 21:17!!! I couldn't believe it. (still can't!) There was some stiff competition that day and I had a blast. This photo is just steps before the finish. (photo cred to my wife)

In July, I also started a new volunteer program called "Veteran to Veteran." I am now a volunteer with Summa Health System in Akron, OH and within their hospice program. Someone who is put on hospice has been given a prognosis that they will pass away within 6 months and they are no longer being treated to get better, rather treated for comfort and quality of life. When a veteran is put on hospice, they are asked if they'd like to be honored via a pinning ceremony. If so, a volunteer like myself visits them, speaks to them about their service then presents a certificate and "pins" a lapel pin on them. I have had the honor of doing many now and they have spanned from World War II veterans who served at Pearl Harbor to a Navy veteran who was at Normandy on D-Day...and to other veterans from Vietnam and Korea. It has been such an honor to thank these veterans for their service, shake their hand, and glean just a little bit of their life from them so I can pass on their story.

Oh yes....running. Somehow, I still thought I could run an ultra-marathon in late August without ANY real distance running all year long. Such a mistake! On August 29th, I returned to an "easy" 50K in Aurora, OH and ended up dropping out around mile 20. Oh yea, please pass the humble pie! No regrets, though. It was a great measuring stick of where I was. Fit? Yes. Ultra-running fit? Not even close...but that's ok! Just a few days later on September 2nd, it was all made better because I found out I was going to be promoted to the next rank later in 2016. The last time I was promoted was in Afghanistan in September 2011 so this was great news! With September, the fall began, our girls headed back to school and back to the grind we went.

In October, I did somewhat of a CrossFit competition. It was more of a single, long workout to raise money for a local cause in Independence, OH, just south of downtown Cleveland at CrossFit Independence. It was called the Run Amuck 5K and I did it with a few friends from my last CrossFit gym. It was soooo much fun! Unfortunately, this gym is closing its doors permanently on 12/31 so we can't return as planned in 2016. Still, it was a great experience and exposure again to a great, caring community in the CrossFit world. This is the photo we took at the event.

November...December...nothing too significant to report except for our celebration of 23 years together. I like to say we got married right out the womb (I was 19)! Bumps and bruises thoughout our 23 but we're all the stronger because of them. We're really looking forward to the next 23! For December, our schedules have been pretty packed with recitals, choir and band concerts, lots of working out, etc.

Before I wrap up my summary, I thought I'd share a few things. If you're connected with us on social media, you know that my wife and I have "30 Minute Date Nites" on Tuesdays when our girls take music lessons. I gathered just a few selfies from our date nites over 2015 below. While it's only 30min, it's guarded time for us! We have really come to look forward to the time alone just to talk, catch up, and walk the downtown streets hand in hand.

They did re-open a few days later...thankfully!
Now for 2016: Well, I highly doubt I'll be laying out any specific goals as I have in years past. I know the saying "Fail to plan...plan to fail." Well, I won't say that no plans are in place but not too many distinct, hard-set goals. Well heck...let me just share a few thoughts. I can't help myself but jot them down:

  • Be Consistent with CrossFit yet pull back the time dedicated on a weekly basis.
  • Participate in my first Go Ruck event in July and meet the local CARC (Cleveland Area Rucking Crew) in January.
  • Run more. Period. Integrate bodyweight training into runs and post-runs. 100 burpees after each run isn't too much to ask for, is it?!
  • Represent Hammer Nutrition well. I was picked up for a 3rd year sponsorship!
  • Continue to volunteer.
  • Pray more, forgive more, love more.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Do my daily job with excellence. I am wearing more leadership hats then ever before in my life. I need to keep them in balance.
  • Smile more. (at least try!)

So's about time to say goodbye. Not a bad year at all.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Taking a break

For any readers out there looking for M-Cubed over the last few weeks, I'm taking a break right now from sharing here. Writing is definitely my "outlet" but I'm not sure where I want to share these until I figure that out, I'm on a hiatus from here. One thing is for sure...writing helps the writer not feel alone...whether an audience of none, one or 10,000. That was my mini-revelation this morning when I was pondering a post. So have a great week, everyone...hope to chat again sometime.

Monday, October 12, 2015

M-Cubed for 10.12.2015

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

- Fall colors are here and magnificent. Don't you wish they could just last forever? The aroma of Fall leaves, the cool nights to sleep through and the smorgasbord of color. I hope you can find some time to enjoy it more than once or twice. Bare bone trees are coming. My backyard yesterday...

- I'm a big fan of Robert DeNiro and we had an afternoon sans kids yesterday so we went to see The Intern. Excellent date flick, humorous and well-acted. I'd give my only critique but it would also be a spoiler so in case you haven't seen it and will, I'll save it. Overall, I'd give it a solid 3 to 3.25 fist bumps out of 4. "Bobby" DeNiro can seriously play any role he sets his mind to. See the trailer here.

- I did my 11th veteran pinning this past week and it was unique as the previous 10. This time, the call came to go see an Army veteran born in 1930 so as I'm learning, that would put him post-WWII and maybe in the Korean War. This gentleman served a unique role in the Pacific. He was part of the United States testing future nuclear bombs on deserted islands in the Pacific. This was post-Hiroshima so I'm guessing we were developing the bomb after seeing what we did to Japan. He wasn't exposed to anything and served more of an administrative role. It was a very good visit with this vet whose voice was barely audible and I had to keep close to hear him. His room was sad as nothing of personal value was there except for one framed family photo. It was really nothing more than a hospital room. I ended our visit with the normal reading of the certificate and I pinned his lapel pin on his drab, white t-shirt and thanked him again for serving his country.

- ...and in case you haven't been mooned...or "pumpkin'd" lately...

- Homecoming. Ugh! The day finally arrived when I sent my first daughter to a high school formal dance. Luckily, she has a mom who she could rely upon to shop for the dress, the jewelry, and the shoes then spend the "day of" doing her hair for literally hours, then nails then makeup. Had it been up to me, I'm not sure any of it would've happened and I would've most likely had to hire it all out! Still, it was a great experience for her and luckily for every boy on the planet, she went with a girlfriend of hers. FINE BY ME! "Just sittin' here cleanin' my gun..."

- CrossFit...oh what a week last week was. Nothing much to speak of as I stopped after Wednesday. Nothing was going right last week, I seemed to fail at just about everything I tried, and I felt weaker than ever. I honestly felt like I was backsliding in many of the things I've been doing better on and getting stronger at. Mentally, I was shot and there was no benefit to continuing...either to me or those who have to be around me in the gym. As a form of justification to taking a break, I did have an event I was participating in on Saturday...the Run Amuck 5K at CrossFit Independence. I really wanted to be well rested for that event and do well. It wasn't a traditional CrossFit competition but instead a 5K run broken up into many pieces.

The Run Amuck was this: Every 30min, one of 5 heats began and I was in heat #2 with my two friends pictured above...Teri and Dave. The event structure was this: 200m run, 10 pullups, 400m run, 20 burpees, 600m run, 30 hand-release pushups, 800m run, 40 abmat situps, 1000m run, 50 air squats, 800m run, 40 abmat situps, 600m run, 30 hand-release pushups, 400m run, 20 burpees, 200m run, 10 pullups...then ring the bell on the wall. I LOVED it! For a runner and someone who has an engine to keep going, this is perfect. I finished in 37min, 41sec which was good enough for 4th in my heat. Overall, I have no idea because results haven't been published yet. I knew going in that my weakness was hand-release pushups. That's when you do a pushup to the floor and then pick your hands up off the you essentially turn yourself into a huge paper weight on the floor...much more difficult than a standard pushup. At home in the days prior to the event, I could do all 30 unbroken but during the event, I found that those burpees just prior to the pushups really zapped my arms in being able to do all 30 unbroken so I did 15-20, shook out my arms for a max of 5 seconds then kept moving. I did all other movements unbroken. Heck, I would've swapped the burpees and pullups if I had MY way! My pullups felt crazy strong and my hands weren't hurting like they were earlier in the week. No doubt...taking a few days off was the right thing to do. Absolutely no regret there. Many thanks to CrossFit Independence and 76 Athletics for an awesome event. 100% of the proceeds are going to a local outreach which makes it even better and worth doing...and you gave us all a sweet, super soft t-shirt. Thanks!!!

- This photo is a riot, in my opinion. Let me explain: 6 years ago yesterday, I ran my 3rd 100-miler in 18 weeks time...the Oil Creek 100 Mile Trail Run in Titusville, PA. That year,  between June and October, I did three 100-milers and haven't returned to the distance since. This particular race was grueling and painful...and really emotional.  It took me almost 31 hours straight to finish it and countless ibuprofen to kill the pain in my left upper leg. (found out almost a year later it was a stress fracture) Well, after the race, my wife (who surprised me by showing up at the finish) and I crawled into the back of her SUV and fell asleep. This was Sunday around lunch. I had been up and running since Saturday morning around 4am. When we got up, we went to lunch across the street at the Blue Canoe...a local watering hole and brewery. This is me holding my finishing buckle at lunch while truly half asleep. I was dozing off at the table and couldn't get myself together. How I got home is still a mystery, too. I kept my eyes locked on my wife's car and blared the Black Eyed Peas all the way home. Wowsers. And where are all my gray hairs? They seem to be missing in this photo.

- I continue to love my new Subaru that I told you about previously. Having driven the Honda brand since the 90s, I jumped ship to Subaru. Just on Saturday, I got my "Badge of Ownership" that I created on their website for free. You pick all of your lifestyle icons that fit you and they ship it to you. I cleaned off my trunk and got mine on right away. I'd say it fits me just right. If you have a Subaru, you can customize and order yours here.

- I have got to, eventually, figure out how to genuinely be happy with giving my best. I really do give my best in the gym, in my marriage, and hopefully as a dad. However, my measure of what "the best" is never quite measures up. It's a flip-flop double-edged sword that dices me up mentally in little pieces and unfortunately, I'm read like a big fat picture book you hand a 1-year old. I can't hide jack. I wear it all on the outside and am a horrible faker. Poor self-esteem? You betcha. Know how to "fix" me? No clue. But, I'll keep trying and keep trying to push out the smile inside and accept my best effort TRULY as good enough. But dangit, it's so hard to do.

- Oh yea, it's Columbus Day! Hats off to federal holidays! WOO HOO! A few hours at the box and who knows what else awaits for me today. If you're a benefactor of such a day off as well, enjoy it!

- This weekend is not only notorious for my 3rd 100 miler six years ago, but two years ago is when I attempted the West Virginia Trilogy, if you recall. It's a 50K on Friday, a 50 miler on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. I did the 50K then timed out at mile 33.6 on the 50 miler...after falling and passing out on the trail, that is. I was a total trainwreck! Then, in 1997...a whopping 18 years ago, I ran my first marathon this weekend at the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA. Lots of memories.

Today's little motivational quote isn't really a quote at all. Actually, it's what I took a photo of on the wall on Saturday at CrossFit Independence, right above the clock that ended up timing us during Run Amuck. It's chock full of little snippets we can all use today and everyday. Maybe you'll find something to make your own. Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, October 5, 2015

M-Cubed for 10.5.2015

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

- Not gonna lie, heart is sick with the death through our country's mass shootings. While there is much to write about, I feel strongly to take a moment first to share my thoughts on the Oregon shooting from last Thursday morning at a community college. First, though...let's remember the victims, aged 18 to 67. The killer will not be pictured or named anywhere in my thoughts today. The victims...

Last night during the CBS show, 60 Minutes, they were doing a story related to the Holocaust where the Nazis went house to house, looking for Jews, and taking them to mass graves, freshly dug. My youngest daughter was busy crocheting some flowers but looked up to ask when that was, thinking it was much further in the past than World War II. I told her when it was and simply because of their faith, they were killed...massacred. So enter the most recent massacre of these 9. Accounts from survivors already quote the killer as saying:
"What religion are you? Are you a Christian?"
With a "yes" answer, he shot them in the head. While the press, politicians, gun lobbyists, etc. rage about gun control, the one thing that rings in my head is this: What would I say? That first person didn't know the penalty for his or her answer. However, for every person after, they knew they were signing their death sentence with a "yes" answer. What would YOU say? There are also accounts that no matter what "religion" was answered, the victims were shot. Either way, the question beckons and looms for each of us.

I would say "yes" and there is no gray area for me. Honestly, I don't say much about my beliefs here or on social media as I'm a firm believer that a Facebook post, a tweet, an Instagram post, etc. won't change anyone's mind about much, especially about "religion." I prefer, instead, to live my life and hopefully, others will see and will be able to tell who and what I am by my actions more so than my words or posts. If asked, I'm not ashamed and know what I believe and will gladly share it. The hashtag you see here is all over social media now as profile photos, etc. Like I said, I won't partake in this movement and instead wish those who proclaim to be a Christian would be more like one in public, in the workplace, in their families, etc. Save the rants and keyboard bravery posts and be more like the hands and feet of Christ whom you say you follow...and know what you believe. Be ready to take a stance because like these 9 victims, the day may come where you have to answer.

- So after such a somber beginning to today's post, can I give an "amen!" to some of the Fall foliage beginning to emerge out the window? While I don't look forward to what's coming in a few months, I do love the cool, crisp bedtime and the gorgeous collage of color out the window. As if in a chorus, nature puts on this show together year after year.

- It was just my girls and me this weekend and with nothing but rain on Saturday so we voted on a movie to go see. "The Martian," starring Matt Damon, won out and we grabbed our Cinemark popcorn bucket and went to see the 2hr, 22min flick set on Mars. Except for the couple f-bombs and the rear-nudity of a body double of Matt Damon (trying to show how much weight he lost being stranded on Mars), it was a great flick for us to see together. While long, it went quick and was really well done. I also wanted to see "Everest" but the true story/tragedy nature of the film knocked down its votes and I was out-voted. :) Still, a great way to spend part of the day on Saturday. I'd give it 3.5 out of a possible 4 stars.

Setting new front squat PR
- I continue to "almost" write a CrossFit post but never do. It is fitting to do one about now, too, since yesterday marked our 11 month "anniversary" since starting on November 4, 2014. Woohoo! But alas, I chose to spend the time doing other things yesterday like mowing the lawn, cleaning out the garage, washing both cars, and just tidying up the house prior to my bride coming home from a quick trip to the Big Apple. CrossFit is going great and I continue to be super proud of my partner in crime who inspires all around her. I do love it but it's not "everything" to me...meaning I don't "worship" it. I love the humility it teaches me, my increased strength, and I'd be lying if I didn't like how my clothes fit...and those non-forgiving uniforms. I enjoy sharing it together most with my bride, the daily "debrief" of the beatdown by Coach Will, and celebrating little victories together. A few years ago, we found that running together was "our thing." Well, this is it for now and for as long as it continues, I'll be thankful for it and make the best of it. There are so many facets to what we do at our new gym and no day is the same as the previous which really keeps it interesting and challenging all the same. I did learn a new stretch last week that I like to do in the morning at home as well. It is "magic" for opening up my shoulders. You lay on a foam roller, parallel with your spine and lower a PVC pipe slowly to the floor. My shoulder mobility stinks bad but within a few minutes, my hands will sink to the floor and doing things with the bar in the gym get so much easier with increased also feels AWESOME! (see photo at right before I set a new front squat personal record last week...getting those shoulders/elbows UP is a huge challenge and this stretch has really helped!) Last week, Bristol decided to get in on the action, totally unprompted, and my daughter quickly grabbed this photo. Priceless, eh?! "Strettttttttttch, Bristol!!!"

- While the Oregon shooting has dominated the news along with who is running the president in 2016, we lost 6 more service members in Afghanistan last week, just east of Bagram Air Field and near the Pakistan border. The C-130 aircraft is the workhorse over there, moving people and freight all over the country. I rode in it several times during my deployment in 2011. Well, one of them crashed on October 1st, killing all onboard. "May God comfort and protect the families of the fallen and may the rest of our service members be brought home soon."

- As I close today, I want to share the work of a friend who is a professional photographer in New Jersey. Just last year, he retired from the U.S. Coast Guard where he served as a photographer and attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer over 20 great years. I met Tom via ultra running and actually paced him to the end of one of his 100-mile races here in NE Ohio a few years back. He is now living out his passion full time taking on photo assignments and just posted this photo last week on his Facebook feed. Full credit goes to Tom for the photo and the words below. His website can be found by clicking here, as well. Amazing work over many years! Check it out!

Albert and Rose Kleuser, from Galloway, NJ, have been married for 60 years. Albert served in Korea with the U.S. Army and Rose worked as a nurse aid in a nursing home. Both have taught Sunday school and Albert drove the Sunday school bus. They started attending church in 1962. They hug each other and forgive each other for any wrong doings every night before going to bed. They have made an agreement that when one passes on the other will cry tears of joy and not tears of sorrow. “Because we know we've been called home,” said Rose. “We're just passing through right now. We don't fear death at all. Actually we don't fear anything. Fear is a terrible thing.” 

And with that, friends, I wish you a "Happy Monday!" and an awesome week. Regret nothing, love those near you, and hug the ones you love.

Monday, September 28, 2015

M-Cubed for 9.28.2015

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

- Forgive me for the week off. "Prioritizing" is the excuse I'm using for no M-Cubed last Monday and no CrossFit update in a long time. Trust me, it's all written in my head and a new chapter daily but finding the quiet time to "pen" my thoughts just hasn't availed itself. For now, though...just some random thoughts on this last Monday of September...

- Hats off to the many out there who ran the all-new Akron Marathon and Half Marathon course on Saturday. Here were my thoughts on Facebook after the gun sounded on Saturday: "Love what you do and do what you love. I've been at the starting line of the Akron Marathon every year since 2007, except for my little 14,000mi round trip vacation in 2011 that kept me away. This year, I was barely out of bed when the bell rung in downtown Akron, sending the runners on their way. Still a runner, just a different daily grind but like being on the blue line, still "running my race" with my bride and loving it. So go do something, do it great, and love doing it." Here's a little throwback photo to 2008...back when Brooks Running and the race were partnered up. Back then, finishers got a FREE pair of Brooks shoes. On the left, I wore Asics. The truth is this: this race flipped me from wearing Asics to Brooks and I've never looked back. The pair on the right were my first pair of many, many Brooks in the coming years. Brilliant marketing, I'd say! Today, Brooks and the race have parted ways.

- So Friday was the release of the all-new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Get yourself one? My wife was sporting the old 5C so she was well overdue for an upgrade and is now sporting the new 6S in rose gold or commonly referred to "pink." Initial impressions are a definite increase in speed. Technically, it's 70% faster with an all-new A9 chip. There are camera upgrades, too, an all-new Series 7000 aluminum body (to prevent bending) and the new 3D Touch technology, or better known as "force touch." In my opinion, if you have anything less than a 6, it's worth the upgrade. If you have the 6, wait until next September when the next generation of iPhone is released.

- Saturday night took us to Cleveland's "Little Italy" with friends. It's one area I had never been to yet had been all around it while going to other places. I had a fantastic dish of gnocchi smothered in tomato basil cream sauce with shrimp but first enjoyed some awesome calamari. It was really good and everyone else enjoyed their selections, too. Afterwards, we sat outside and enjoyed dessert at standing-room only pastry shop. From rich chocolate to cannolis to several variants of cheesecake, I don't think any of us were hungry but we still indulged just a bit. We'll be back!

- CrossFit continues to be awesome. I do have a lot of thoughts to share and will eventually do that via a different post. There have been multiple highlights since I last wrote like a new deadlift personal record early last week and then a surprise "edition" of "Murph" mid-week. If you recall, I did "Murph" back on Memorial Day with destroyed hands and a rubber band for the pull-ups at my former gym. Since late May, my pull-ups are a million times better and I've been itching to do it again but haven't mentioned it. As a surprise, it was thrown into the programming so no anxiety about it prior to showing up. It went awesome and I did it...almost the prescribed legit way which is with a 20lb weighted vest. No vest but I did do the 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats and one more mile run. 49min 6sec was my final time. Next time...I'll wear the vest (which I ordered last week). Everything else is going well as is for my wife who is just killing it.

- Drink soda/pop? Drink on this: One can of soda contains 41g of sugar (approx. 10 packets of sugar). If you drink one can a day for an entire year, you are consuming 35-lb. of sugar in a year.

- Got a few minutes to watch an awesome video? Check out this couple who are in their 90s and have been married for 73 years...73 years!!! Wow. So awesome. Watch it here.

- 80. 80 days until December 18, 2015! What's the significance of that, you ask? Well of course, that's opening day for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens! A big, hearty Happy 64th Birthday to Luke Skywalker...or Mark Hamill, as he's more commonly known these days. Did you know he's deeply involved in the new production? It's his voice, as well, that you hear in the movie trailer. If you're a fan, be sure to go Star Wars' Facebook page. They posted a video last week that is interactive. You are speeding across the desert in a speeder and can look left and right. It's pretty sweet.
"Happy Birthday, Luke!" From, "your father" :)
- I shared these thoughts a little over a week ago online and yes, they are a bit vague, but still ring true, depending on your situation. "We all have to make decisions that are the best for us, our families, etc. It's different for everyone. Some of us make those decisions blindly, some discuss with people important in their life and others of faith may pray about them to get guidance as to what to do. Our past experiences have a pretty influence on what path we follow, too. These decisions are often not "popular" but when done and vetted through prayer (in our case), looking back makes it easy to see the puzzle pieces all fitting together and God's hand on it all. Still, though, the human side of it still sucks when it comes to realizations of what I thought "was"...."wasn't" at all. Moving forward, I'm thankful for authentic friends and will continue to seek out those I can trust someday more fully.'s all temporal. I want lasting relationships and want to leave a lasting, positive impact in those I come in contact with, love, and do life with and even more so to those God entrusted me to care for and protect."

- Instead of leaving you with a quote this week or some inspirational wisdom, I'm going to leave you with a recipe. We saw this online a few weeks back and then my wife made it. Oh my!!! It was soooo good and by her account, very easy. So feast your eyes on this gluten-filled goodness and go attack your week! Have a great one, everyone!!!


12 oz spaghetti cooked following pkg directions and drained
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp minced garlic
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (or use your own 3-4 cups)
3 cups mozzarella

Directions (preheat oven to 375 degrees):
1. In a large bowl whisk eggs, milk, parmesean, oregano and garlic.
2. Add cooked spaghetti noodles and toss to coat well.
3. Dump in a greased 9*13 inch casserole dish....and press down to create crust.
4. Top with sauce...spreading as close to edge as you can.
5. Sprinkle cheese over sauce evenly and top with pepperoni.
6. Bake for 30 min until lightly browned. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting and ENJOY!!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

M-Cubed for 9.14.2015

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

- 14 years ago last Friday was 9/11/2001. George W was president (just barely), I was 3 months done with my first stint with the Navy and working in the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs and we had barely a 5 month old. Then the twin towers fell, the Pentagon was attacked and heroism reigned aboard Flight 93 over Pennsylvania. As the years tick by, the memories don't seem to fade but the patriotism sure has. Remember how all of a sudden, our country felt united? I wish that stuck every day of the year and not just on days like 9/11 or July 4th or Memorial Day. I wish we were a "team" against radical "anything" and just loved each other like folks sharing a planet and the same air. That'll never be but it's a nice thought. For now, how about we each do our part one-on-one and strive to get along, shed the hate and love on folks? And no matter who sits in the Oval Office, it's still the U.S. of A. and a country to be mighty proud of. Pass that down, too, to tomorrow's generation.

- After morning services yesterday, we found ourselves enjoying the sunshine in Kent, OH, for the annual "Art in the Park" where artisans fill the hills of a local park along the Cuyahoga River and steel drums were playing. Saturday was constant rain so the reprieve was nice for the event and to spend some time as a family walking around. I'm a sucker for coffee mugs to hold my morning espresso and I feel like I scored big time yesterday. Here's my cup from this morning, a hand-made mug from Cathy Tietz Boring. I love it! It was fired twice in her kiln and the color dipping was done in between the two. Every mug she had was one of a kind and unique. So with a new addition, I must give up one (or two) from the cabinet. That shouldn't be too difficult.

- So Apple's main event was last Wednesday and it was, as Donald Trump says, "HUUUUGE!" It lasted 2hrs and 15min and they spent the bulk of their time talking about the new iPad Pro, the upgrades to Apple Watch, the new Apple Pencil (that works with the new iPad Pro), the totally overhauled AppleTV and of course, the upgrades iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. I was driving for a lot of it and streamed it over the speakers as I drove. But if you're like me, you don't have 2hrs, 15min to watch it all so you can find all of the info you need here at or if you're more visual, go to Apple's YouTube channel and watch the video announcements they showed at the event. That's your best bet, honestly. A few observations: Apple is clearly going after the medical field even more. There are so many features built into AppleWatch and the new iPad Pro that favor the medical community and their presentations highlighted that. For the fourth-generation AppleTV, I see them cueing themselves up to sneak into the gaming community with how the new remote works. Pretty amazing, actually. All around, the new AppleTV is leaps and bounds over what I have in my living room. As for the new iPhones? Well, they did more than just slap an "S" on them. New faster processor and some sweet camera upgrades...but still an entry-level 16GB iPhone which makes no sense. That low-capacity entry level model needs to become yesterday...especially with the new "Live Photo" that will gobble up even more space. All in all, Apple appears to continue to fire on all cylinders and even created another new segment via the ApplePencil.

- Have a Subaru? Me neither. Check with me tomorrow and that'll change! Yep...I'm finally diving into All Wheel Drive and that ever-popular boxer engine. I already created my "badge"! :) Family, military, running, and pets. Unfortunately, no CrossFit badge exists. Hehe.

- If you read last week's M-Cubed, you may recall the veteran pinning I did of the World War 2 Navy veteran who was at D-Day off Omaha Beach. Well, this hero who survived the sinking of his ship and rescued a shipmate passed away a few days ago on 9/11. I still feel so honored to have had the opportunity to meet him, shake his hand and thank him for serving our country. Here's his obituary if you'd like to read it. He will be buried with military honors this Wednesday in Akron. (his obituary is a great read and tells the story from D-Day)

- If you're a fan of chocolate...of peanut butter...of pecans...well, you would LOVE this. The fact that my parents own a local ice cream shop doesn't help my waist line but sure does give me plenty of reasons to keep working out hard. The flavor is double chocolate peanut butter and it's all I ever order there. Sooooo good! Here is my favorite creation...don't eat the screen!

- Looking for another great movie to watch? Write down "McFarland USA" and be sure to watch. What a great film and a true story. Also in movie news, "War Room" continues to crush it! Top 3 over the weekend in their 3rd week of release. In case you forgot, it cost $3 million to make and early numbers from this past weekend put it at $39.1+ million so far. WOW. Go see it!

- A few weeks ago, everyone starting writing down goals at our CrossFit gym that were short-term and to be hit by October 1st, or else...burpees...lots of them. For me, I could only do one ring dip so I suggested 3 ring dips as a short-term goal as they have been so hard for me but I need to do them if I ever want to do a muscle-up. That immediately meant that no matter what I did on any given day, I was going to be up on those rings working. Well, I walked in really sore on Saturday morning from a tough week in the gym so what does my coach do? After I did the required warm up, he had me do a LOT of dips. I'll be honest...I wanted to lift and work the legs and give my upper body a freakin' rest! I didn't complain, though, and did as he prescribed, starting with a 15min workout with 2 dips at the top of every minute on the dip bar..not the rings. For the last 6 minutes, he raised it to 3 dips each minute because they "appeared" to be getting easier. (what?!?) Figuring I was done and walking to a bar to load it up, he said "25 more...on the rings." Pffft! "Ok." Well, I figured I'd be there forever, knocking out one at a time with the rare 2 thrown in from time to time. I remember being at 21 done and 4 to go and was going for 2 sets of 2 to round out my 25 and my day in the gym because I had to leave soon. I got up on the rings and no one was watching but after 2, I felt like I had another so I went for it...and got it! No one was watching but I told him, regardless, and of course, he wanted more so I did...again I got 3. It wasn't pretty and I'm pretty sure my head was tomato-red and ready to explode but I did it. I still feel it this morning! Once again...Coach Will knew what to have me do to reach my goal...over 2 weeks early. Would I have chosen to do 60-ish dips while still sore? Heck no! In other news, my wife also hit her goal of deadlifting 200lbs that same morning. We both killed it! "Way to go, Babe!" (the image here has nothing to do with dips...but strict chest-to-bars...something I have been working on every day this month. Getting closer and closer every day to getting these things done.)

- That's all I got, friends. Time to get the week moving and enjoy the beautiful, sunny week on tap. Have a GREAT week and remember this: when life hits you upside the head and you feel like you've hit bottom, you sit at a fork in the road. You can choose to soak in the misery of your circumstances and let IT kill you or you can choose to find the good in it, look up, persevere and find strength in those around you, your faith, and choose to overcome. Choose the latter!

Have a GREAT week!

Monday, September 7, 2015

M-Cubed for 9.7.2015

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

- Labor Day. Unofficial last day of summer. With the heat index, dew point, etc., it'll be 93-95F this afternoon. Day off...CrossFit workout first then a pool cookout with friends. Enjoy your day!

- I've mentioned the Mashable podcast recently and this last Thursday they were pouring over the new logos by Google and Verizon and how much goes into it...and why. I'm not a Verizon customer and honestly, don't really get the point of dumbing it down this much. For Google...well, more of the same, there. They got rid of their iconic lower case "g" and went to this extreme basic in-house made font, too. Anyway...interesting to marketing minds like mine!

- Last Monday, I eluded to a possible announcement coming regarding my promotion to the next rank. Well, it came out mid-week! Super happy to be on the "select" list but will still have to wait until next summer to "pin" it on. That's ok, though. Just being a "select" and knowing the next rank is coming is plenty for me. It really sets my mind on a more stable course for the future and where I see my career going.

- Ready for the big Apple event on Wednesday??? We all know the updated iPhone will be released but many believe there is much more BIGGER news like possibly an AppleTV and perhaps even a large iPad Pro. All rumors, of course, but like others, I'm looking forward to the announcements on Wednesday. I'm not in the market for anything, either...just love the way they bring things to market and often, create a whole new segment of product that never existed before.

- I'm no fan of shopping for appliances but the day came to shop for both a fridge and electric range. In my mental strategy planning mind, we headed south to Canton where we could hit up Home Depot, Best Buy, Lowe's and HH Gregg in succession so we could see prices, models, etc. back-to-back within a few hours and make a decision...and maybe even hit up the grand opening of a craft brewery in the process. So Saturday afternoon, we did just that and ended up finding what we wanted at Best Buy. They were our 2nd visit but hands down, they had the best prices and selection, best service and without a doubt, were the most educated on the products. Afterwards, we headed west a bit into Jackson where the Royal Docks Brewing Company tapped their first keg at 5pm. It was crazy there as Rusted Root was about to have a concert in the parking lot so we didn't stay long but we'll definitely return when it calms down a bit there. Great first impression!

- It's Labor Day weekend so it's Cleveland Air Show weekend! The Navy's Blue Angels aren't in town this year as it's an Air Force Thunderbirds year but a TAC DEMO squadron is in town from VFA-106 in Virginia Beach. I had the opportunity to take many of my future aviation candidates up there for a Q&A with a pilot and walk-around a Super Hornet F/A-18F strike fighter. Awesome experience for my candidates! Also for you Blue Angel fans, they are confirmed for 2016!

- Star Wars fan? Have an Instagram account? Follow "StarWars" on there??? If not, DO IT! That is all. (December is coming...)

- After church yesterday, I was talking with a friend about Reese's Eggs and how the combination of peanut butter and Reese's chocolate is all so perfect and how the large eggs just aren't the same. Soon after that conversation, we stopped by the grocery store for a few items and lo and behold, 'tis the season! Pumpkins, Christmas trees, then the eggs...the BEST treat on Planet Earth!

- This past week, I had the true honor of pinning my 7th veteran as part of the volunteer veteran-to-veteran program I am a part of that serves those veterans on hospice care (terminal within 6 months). This last one was finally with a sailor. He served in World War II. Here is my post that I wrote just after I left his home: "I did my 7th veteran pinning today as part of Summa at Home's hospice volunteer program and I finally had the honor of pinning a sailor. I promised him I would tell others of his heroism so here it is...minus personal details for privacy: He was there off Omaha Beach in Normandy on D-Day on a Navy minesweeper in the engine room when it was hit by a German magnetic mine. As it sunk and his leg and chest bled, he escaped and rescued a fellow sailor while climbing aboard a nearby PT boat. His ship sunk and 29 sailors died...nearly 1/3 of the small ship's crew. He then served briefly in Japan before living a very full life outside of the military. I shook his hand more than the others...didn't want to leave, really. I just didn't have the adequate words to express "thank you" enough. Such an honor...such an honor." Above is a photo of his ship.

- Month #4 at CrossFit 881! Things are going really well there and it's amazing what actual coaching can do. While I burnt all kinds of fat and got fitter from November 2014 thru May 2015 at the old location, getting actual one-on-one coaching has been so much better. It's also been a blast to be a part of a brand new community and met new friends. This past week was definitely tough and I really enjoyed the past two days of rest but will be back at it this morning to kick off Labor Day with some work! If I had any "victories" this week it would've had to be a few different things. First off, I did my first ring dip. Just one...but I did it! One of these days, I'll do several...more baby steps towards the holy grail of CrossFit...the muscle up. Also, I got sucked into the longest workout I've ever done at CrossFit that took me 1hr, 6min, 15sec. On Thursday, I did this: 20 rounds of: 3 dead lifts, 3 push presses, 6 burpees, 9 wall balls. It was a sweat bath and not only physical, but mental as well. I was still getting chills a few hours later as my body continued to try and figure out what the heck happened! Crazy. Yea, I pay for this stuff and keep going back for more!

- I'm going to skip the inspirational quote this week and just share this Star Wars-themed meme. Yea, it pretty much sums up how I feel every morning after I brew my stovetop espresso. Mmmmmm..... Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, August 31, 2015

M-Cubed for 8.31.2015

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

- Goodbye August, hello September...and a long Labor Day weekend and the Cleveland Air Show next weekend! 2015 is 2/3 complete! Before we know it, those leaves will be changin'...

- If you're a Monday-only RTRSBM reader, I posted my race report yesterday from Saturday's "attempted" 50K. Big 'ol case of humble pie but it's all good. Still glad I impulse-registered for the race and no regrets for how it ended. Read it here.

- Last February, my wife and I went on our first "Love Like You Mean It" marriage cruise where on Day 2, we got to see a preview of "War Room" that was released this past Friday. It's written by, directed, and produced by the Kendrick brothers who also made movies like Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Courageous...all very successful. Back on the cruise ship, it got a standing ovation and afterwards, the filmmakers and a few stars sat on stage for an extensive interview. Yesterday, we had the pleasure of supporting the movie's opening weekend and taking our girls to see it. Early box office numbers have it coming in at #2 for the weekend but just barely. Hopefully, that'll push it into more screens across the country. It was sooooo good and our girls both loved it as well. Unfamiliar? Here's the movie's YouTube channel where you can watch the trailer and clips.

- Oh, Apple. Sneaky you are! This past week, they officially announced their "big" event for September 9th...precisely when we all thought it would happen. As usual, their press release got people talking. Below is what you'll find on the Apple website today. Know this...there are no accidents. The wavy colors, the choice of venue, the "Siri" reference. It's all part of their tease. Now do this: tell Siri on your iPhone "Hey Siri, give us a hint"...and do it several times. Apple has programmed Siri to tease the event when you ask the question. Hehe....I love it. :) Their choice of venue is really getting the Kool-Aid drinkers talking, too. Normally for these, under 1000 people are invited. The location for this event holds a whopping 7000 people, further fueling suspicions that there is something bigger than just the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus release. Something to do with Siri? Apple TV? Watch 2.0? Something new we've never seen before? We shall see on September 9th.

- I'd like to give a big 'ol shout out to my bride. She really does set the bar high when it comes to attitude in the CrossFit gym. She has fought for years to change herself physically with everything you can imagine. She has run countless miles, ate extremely well, done the macro thing, you name it. Most recently, though, and finally with good coaching and hard work, she is seeing results. She is getting stronger and finally was able to do push-ups TO THE FLOOR last week and is closer than ever to her first strict pull-up. We both entered the gym last November with zero upper body strength but her journey towards building that has been slower and more difficult...but she has persevered! Even more important, she keeps the right attitude even when things don't go so well. I struggle with keeping a good attitude on bad days in the gym and unfortunately, that often lingers with me for awhile afterwards. "Keep up the great work, Babe! You DO inspire others!" Age is nothing but a number, friends...go get it!

- Did you miss National Dog Day last Wednesday? It was all over social media as everyone shared their pooches. For us? 12 year old's glasses. "Love ya, Bristol!"

- So what website do I refresh more often than any other these days? This one. It's where promotion board results will be posted, hopefully within the next week or so. I'm hoping to see my name. :)

- Familiar with "Nightmare on Elm Street" and the "Scream" movies? Wes Craven directed those. He died yesterday at the age of 76 in his L.A. home from brain cancer. Love the Scream series! (and the spoofs that followed)

- So I signed up for that 50K on Saturday morning, did 20 miles of it and dropped. By that evening, I signed up for my next CrossFit event but unlike the traditional competition in May that I did, this one is more of a long, endurance workout with a good dose of running. It's called the "Run Amuck 5K" at CrossFit Independence, just south of Cleveland. Here's what it is:

- 200 meter run, 10 Pullups
- 400 meter run, 20 Burpees
- 600 meter run, 30 Hand Release Pushups
- 800 meter run, 40 Abmat Situps
- 1,000 meter run, 50 Air Squats
- 800 meter run, 40 Abmat Situps
- 600 meter run, 30 Hand Release Pushups
- 400 meter run, 20 Burpees
- 200 meter run, 10 Pullups (then yell...TIME!)

Fun, right?! There will be 5 heats, starting every 30min at 8:30am. I'm in the 9am heat. I'm looking forward to it! Running is definitely a strength of mine, even when my heart is pounding hard from those movements in between. The whole event exists to support the Cornerstone of Hope that exists to provide education, support and hope for the grieving. If you'd like to donate to them in my name, I have a fundraising page set up here. If you want to participate in the event, sign up here and join me! 

- In other CrossFit news, I did my first ring dip this past week! BOOM! One step closer to attempting my first muscle up. :)

- To seal up today's post, a running quote and fitting after my run on Saturday. One thing is for sure: I love to just isn't center stage anymore for me. I will run when I want to run. I will run where and as far as I please. I will enter races or not. No matter how it goes, it's my decision. My shoes. My path. My run. Have a GREAT week, everyone!

"If running is a means of escaping the trials of everyday life, then it meant taking my life into my own hands. It meant running for myself. And, in part, that meant getting away from the jostling of others. Even when I had only just started running it was plain to see that its appeal lay in the simplicity of the action, taken one step at a time, as well as in the possibility of nonconformity that it offered. We can run anywhere, anyhow, and at any time. Running should not be hemmed in by schedules and routines. Its beauty derives from the fact that it cannot be governed by the magnetic fields of others. We run for ourselves."

– Robin Harvie, The Lure of Long Distances: Why We Run

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Race Report: Moebius-Green Monster Trail 50K

I had to let this race soak in for much of yesterday before writing this morning. For 99% of my race reports, they have a "happy ending" and a finishing time to report. Spoiler Alert! Not this time. Call it quitting or whatever, I pulled the plug early and headed home without the awesome, handmade finishers "medal" made from a tree limb. But since I did enter the race and paid the entry fee, I thought it was the only right thing to do and write a race report.

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know that no race has been spoken about or forecast on my calendar. This race, however, has been on my radar and penciled in only in my mind. I did back in 2013 and dubbed it as a great first-timers 50K. (here's that race report) The Moebius-Green Monster Trail 50K is held within Sunny Lake Park in northern Portage County in Aurora, OH. It really is a perfect "easy" 50K. It's five 10K loops on a trail that has rooty trail, some pavement, grassy meadow and hardly a "hill" to speak of. When there is a hill, most 50Ks would chuckle at them and say "that's not a hill!" and I would agree. It's scenic and highly predictable given the 5 loop design. For aid, it's perfect as well. An aid station is at the start/finish as well as exactly halfway so if you're analytical like me, every aid station is 10% of the race so that's how I carved it up in my head. In a marathon or more, it's always wise to break the event into small pieces to make them more manageable targets.

It was a gorgeous, perfect morning. Upper 50s and partly cloudy with zero rain in the forecast. In fact, we've had pretty much no rain for weeks in Ohio so the trail couldn't have been more bone dry. Here is sunrise over Sunny Lake and the ONLY (I know...shocking!) photo I took of the day.

I felt good waking up yesterday. I took Friday off from CrossFit simply so I would feel no soreness on Saturday morning and would feel refreshed and ready. I did. Taking Friday off was smart. Thursday was a heavy squat day at CrossFit and 2 hours in the gym. Eventually, I would come to feel Thursday on the trail. As 7am approached, I made my way to the start in just my trail shoes and shorts. I wanted the minimum on for clothing because the forecast called for rising humidity and the low 80s for a high.

Everything went very well in that first loop. I ran as smart as I could with a goal of just maintaining it throughout the day. As expected, the course was bone dry and beautiful. At the end of the first loop as I came across the start/finish, I was smack dab on 1hr which is a fast pace for a 50K. I ran this in 2013 in 5:37 so I knew I was ahead of that but like I said, the pace felt right so I continued on. I felt great, too. In that 2nd loop, I started to feel my hamstrings and more towards my butt where they connect. I have been doing a LOT of squat work in the gym and this has been normal, especially this past week. Well, they were letting me know they were there! Yowsers! Still, though, I kept the pace and clearly, the temperature was rising as my shorts went from a light Navy blue to a "completely soaked through blue" by the time I finished lap 2...again, right at the 1hr point or 2 hours into the race. the 40% complete point, I felt good!

Oh, Loop 3. Well, this is where the wheels fell off and walking was introduced sporadically. All the runners I had passed previously got me and the infamous Ron Ross caught me and passed me up, running strong and kicking butt as usual. I think I need to mention something at this point. I have not been at all when it comes to distance running. My prescription for running for several months now has only included the short 200m/400m runs at CrossFit or the occasional 5 or 6 miler on a Sunday morning from home. Other than that...nada. I bet I haven't even averaged 20-25 miles a month. That's a stark contrast to 2014 when I was averaging over 200 miles a month through September. The question as I approached this race was "Can I do it? No training but a long resume of races and wisdom in distance running and ultra running...would that be enough?" I posted on Facebook with that photo above "Time for #33." This would've been my 33rd ultra-marathon finish. Well, I got another full dose of wisdom on that third loop and really faced my mortality. I suppose I could blame it on the rising humidity (my arch rival) but it's simply this: I wasn't prepared or trained. While I have become the fittest in my life from head to toe, my endurance to go long has been vanquished. Back in January of this year, I did run a frozen 50K in West Virginia but I had only been out of distance running a few months. Come November 4th this year, my CrossFit "lifestyle" will be one year old so a lot of time has passed now...and I have not given running it's due time.

I finished Loop 3 much slower and honestly, I don't know the time but would assume I came in around 1:15. As I approached it, I debated whether to continue or not. "I paid the entry fee...of course I should continue." "I'm not a quitter." "Oh man, my hammies are screaming!" "This isn't fun anymore." "Why am I doing this again?" "I do love to was my "first love" so go for it!" Well, I kept going. Loop 3 complete. The sun was beating down hard now as I walked onto Loop 4. The mental battle continued as I eventually broke into a run and left the asphalt for the trail. I looked forward to the short climbs as I could stretch my hamstrings. They were so sore at this point and made even a jog very uncomfortable. Besides them, this was the first time running distance in a LONG time...actually, since the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in late April..on no training as well. I finished respectably back then but still suffered. So as I continued, I came upon a crossing over the asphalt path that circled Sunny Lake. I thought "Decide now. Either cross it and continue or hang a left, take your number off, and walk back and drop." I decided to drop. I was totally tanked...nothing left...and I had become miserable. I paused on the asphalt for just a second to be sure I wanted to do this and wouldn't regret it then I began the walk back...probably 3/4 of a mile to a mile. I took my bib off and enjoyed the walk while processing what I was doing. Along the way, I caught a glimpse of these 3 turtles sunning themselves on a log in the lake. They were lined up perfectly end to end and were small, medium and large...and all their heads stretched out as far as they could be. "Soak it in, turtles!!!" I thought the same about me and made the decision to not live in gloom after I spoke the words "I dropped" to the race director minutes later and think fondly of the day. Those turtles set me on the right course...simply by being who they are...out on the lake enjoying the sun.

Back at the start/finish, I walked up to Steve Godale, the race director, and spoke the words "I dropped at mile 20." He said ok, jotted down my bib number, and that was that. I grabbed my towel out of my trunk and crashed onto the ground for about 10min before going anywhere. I needed that. Honestly, that felt so good that I could've fallen asleep for hours. I texted my wife who was at CrossFit and told her not to bother coming out for the finish and I'd meet her at home.

Part of my CrossFit 881 Family
The next 4 or so hours told the tale of my physical condition and confirmed my decision to call it a day. I was a complete mess. I could hardly eat, I couldn't stay awake, and I was a comedy of positions had you had the "pleasure" of witnessing it all. After a salt-washing-down shower, I first curled up in bed, then fell asleep face down on the carpet in the living room, then face up, then curled up in a fetal position on the floor...then on the couch burying myself in the cushions. Hot one minute, freezing the next. I drank water every time I got up but not much else. Everything hurt and I couldn't keep my eyes open. "Wow...and that was only 20 miles," I thought. "I used to eat that for breakfast!" Eventually, the time came for a planned outing for last night...a planned CrossFit outing to the Cleveland Indians game. 10 of us met in Ohio City for dinner then took our right field perch for the Indians game. It was a great night but sitting in that cramped seat nearly killed me. The 7th Inning Stretch couldn't come soon enough. While I sat in right field, though, I did sign up for a CrossFit event in October, dubbed the Run Amuck 5K. Cumulatively, it's a 5K but it weaves in burpees, situps, pullups and squats into it...lots of them. While I may have lost my "long haul endurance," the running history and endurance certainly has benefits in the CrossFit world. This will be a FUN event!

Moving forward, I'm good. I'm good with where I am, where I've been and where I'm going. 61 races of a marathon or longer and 32 ultra marathon finishes is something to be proud of with humility. Yesterday was a dose of reality and I needed that. I have no regrets for backing way off running, dropping from the race or taking on CrossFit like I have. I will continue to sprinkle in running to my routine and continue to give CrossFit my 100% max effort. I'm happy for where I am "RIGHT NOW" and in my opinion, that's what is important. It's not for anyone else but me and if I'm not happy doing it, I should stop. For right now...August 2015, it's all good, but I DO love to run and I sure did love being back on the trails. The air, the birds singing, and all of God's nature surrounding me. It was worth the time spent out there. (I'm just thankful that I feel back to normal this morning!)

Do what you love, friends...and never give less than your everything.

Monday, August 24, 2015

M-Cubed for 8.24.2015

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

- We had a June that seemed like April with all the rain. Now, we've gone over a month with not even a thunderstorm and hardly any rain. The neighborhood is quiet with no lawnmowers, all the lawns are brown and honestly, I'm ok with that! I've loved all the sun, especially since two back-to-back brutal winters in NE Ohio.

- It's fair week! Almost time for my one Amish-style funnel cake of the year. Tons of fat, calories and powdered sugar. Bring it!

Kendrick Brothers
- If you're a fan of the Kendrick brothers who brought us the movies Fireproof and Courageous, definitely go see "War Room" that opens this Friday. On our Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in February, they were on the cruise and premiered the movie to us then. It was super good and earned that standing ovation at the end. We'll definitely be going to see it again. Watch the trailer here.

- On Sundays, we definitely take a break from CrossFit and for the past few weeks have run together before heading off to Sunday morning church. Yesterday, we enjoyed an upper 50s, clear, gorgeous morning run along the Cuyahoga River in Kent, OH. Fantastic run and awesome to hear nothing but birds and the water moving in the river. Given the lack of rain, the water level is pretty low but still refreshing to see and hear.

- After our run yesterday and a visit to a new church in a nearby town, we did head back to our CrossFit gym but not to work out. Once a month, they clear it out and do a deep clean. With all the heavy weights and equipment, they opened it up to members this month with an added bonus of burgers and steaks on the grill afterwards. It was a great time to help out! Many hands make quick work! On Saturday, though, I had the choice of running roads down south, some trails out east, or head into the box for a surprise workout. I opted for the 3rd choice, mostly because it didn't gobble up the day in time and I'm definitely a glutton for "punishment." What waited for me was Ashley's "Sassy Saturday." Appropriately, I did with two female members at the gym and got my tail handed to me when it was all done. Still, a great workout and I bested my "Helen" time by 8 seconds. Not a huge PR but a PR nonetheless. That 3rd WOD within the WOD was a lion in sheep's clothing. We all thought that was going to be the easier one but it ended up being the hardest because you never get a chance to let your heart slow down. I was pretty happy with my deadlifts, too. I've been working a lot on them and this was a good test for me. Last week as a whole was a great week cumulatively as well. Our coach began a whole new method of programming that really helps us make the best of the limited time in the gym and helps him coach more efficiently as the membership grows. Still loving it! (Oh yea...I almost forgot. On Thursday, I tackled an "issue" of mine...the 30" box. I have zero issue with jumping all day on a 24" box but I have stood there and stared at the 30" box, unable to will myself to jump on it...nothing but fear! Well, I finally conquered that fear in a WOD that when all was done, I had jumped on it 50 times! BOOM!) ... and no bloody shins. :)

- I had the honor of doing my 4th veteran pinning last week via my volunteer effort I've talked about previously. This man was being ravaged by cancer but I had the chance at sitting down with him for a few minutes. Here was my summation of our few minutes together that I posted online: "Did my 4th Veteran to Veteran pinning today. Army yet again but sandwiched in between WW2 and Vietnam. Super kind man, sharp mind, but physically attacked by cancer and a weak heart. While waiting to talk to him, I sat with a lady who had a companion dog with her named "Sugar" who took a real liking to me. My visit was brief with the Army Vet and alumni of the 1st Calvary. I asked if he had seen We Were Soldiers and sure enough, he had. I said my goodbyes but before I left the facility, an Army Ranger vet stopped me and rendered me a quick salute and handshake from his wheelchair. I don't think I can volunteer with this program and not be changed. Up until today, I only went to a veteran's home. Today, it was a facility and while I tried to sneak by, every head turned and set of eyes scanned me on the way in and out...but they were awesome and cheerful. In fact, a guest musician was playing his accordion in a mini concert in the common area when I arrived. It put a smile on my stepping out of 2015 and into an era better represented by the population living there."

- Surely, many of you have an iPhone and perhaps even reading this on one. I drank that Kool Aid awhile back with the iPhone 4 that spawned multiple purchases from more iPhones to the iPad to an iMac and Macbook Pro. I'm a marketing junkie, too, and love watching how they market their stuff and like to predict what's coming before it does. Well, we're nearing the next big event that happens twice a year when they schedule a big press conference and make surprise announcements, some bigger than others. It hasn't been announced yet but most agree it will be on September 9th. Since we got the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last Fall, a mid-cycle update is expected, most likely as a 6S and 6S Plus. Visually, probably the same but inside some upgrades and tweaks. One interesting tidbit was the metal being used. Thanks to some production leaks, the man who tested the bendability of the current 6 and 6 Plus got a hold of a new, supposed case and the rumor mill says there is now zinc in it making it FAR more stronger than the current version. If you recall, some people have had their phones bend, especially the huge 6 Plus version. The new operating system is coming, too, called iOS 9. I've actually been running the beta version of it for the past month and like it. My #1 new feature is a battery saving mode you can turn on that absolutely works. There is also rumor that a 3rd iPhone model could be released...nicknamed the 6C..a lower cost version like the 5C was. That is more rumor than anything at this point. What's true is this...Apple has garnered a lot of Samsung's business via the 6 Plus. Samsung was leading the way for the larger phone market but with the release of the large 6 Plus, many waiting for such an Apple product gave up their Android operating systems and came to Apple...many for the first time. If you're an Apple junkie, too, I highly recommend and their Twitter feed.

- If you've been away from the news, you may not have heard of Ashley Madison yet. It's not a's the online website/service that has been facilitating those who want to have an extramarital affair...priding itself on protecting the identity of members and secrecy. Well, it turns out that a former disgruntled employee has led to the leaking and publishing of millions of users online. The Associated Press said “The list includes at least two assistant U.S. attorneys, an information technology administrator in the White House’s support staff, a Justice Department investigator, a division chief, and a government hacker and counterterrorism employee at the Homeland Security Department. Others visited from networks operated by the Pentagon.” Quite honestly, it's sickening. When you think about the last wedding you attended or photos you just looked at on Facebook from a friend's wedding, to think there is a service out there to totally dismantle those vows made is wrong on so many levels. It's surely a sad testament to the state of humanity...and not just here in America, but around the globe as this bar graph shows the number of users per country...and this is only the Top 25.

- Before I close up shop this Monday morning and "almost" the last Monday of August, let me give you a dose of I attempt to drink this same encouragement for myself. I encourage you to keep your priorities, faith, family and self in check and always strive to do the right thing, even in the face of fear and possible persecution and attacks from the outside. Often when we're faced with a fork in the road, either choice is going to offend, anger some and satisfy others. For me, I choose to go to prayer and seek what truly is right for me to do, how to lead my family, and let Him whom I elevate above all else lead the way. For me, the peace that follows whatever decision being made is priceless, even in the face of opposition like I mentioned. If we constantly seek to "people please" and seek the approval of others, we're destined for stress, disappointment and probably yet another course correction. In the end, it's about having courage which is defined as "Doing your duty in the face of fear." What is the most courageous thing you have ever done? I posed this question online earlier last week and am thankful for those who shared their stories. What is yours? Whatever it is, you most likely had to go to the core of who you are and your raw humanity came forth...regardless of the cost. That is the epitome of who we are and what we must own up to. If we don't like it, we need to start making changes in the right direction.

- If you're a friend of ours, you may have picked up on our pursuit of less...owning less, filling our schedules with less and focusing more on quality time instead of stuff. We're actually to the point now where we don't have our annual garage sale because there isn't enough to justify it. When there IS something for the garage sale pile, it gets donated or sold pronto! So instead of leaving you with an inspirational quote this week, I'm just going to leave the image below. It's true, you know! Have a fantastic week, everyone!