Monday, April 27, 2015

M-Cubed for 4.27.2015

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

- Not exactly Monday morning any longer but still Monday...and I always have musings floating in my head.

- Perhaps you haven't seen it yet, but the newest teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII movie was released back on April 16th. Only 9.2 million+ have watched it. Only. I've watched it 7 times. Going to be awesome! Here it is if you haven't seen it yet.

- In case you missed my race report from yesterday's 2nd Annual Pro Football Hall of Fame, here it is. By bedtime (and I mean before 9pm) last night, I was a walking zombie. I ran the marathon, got the lawn mowed, had a great dinner with my family and found time to get on the foam roller twice. Quads, hammies, my back, my neck and my calves. I still wanted to go to CrossFit this morning and was trying to put the best effort forward to wake up this morning absent of pain. I woke up still just a tad bit achy but overall, 100% better than I felt when I went to bed. Lots of water yesterday, rolling, and rest all helped. This morning at CrossFit, it was overhead squats and jump ropes. Overhead squats are my most difficult lift due to poor flexibility so I went super light on weight and focused on form while getting down into those squats...not the easiest thing post-marathon. The other part of the workout itself had 450 single jump ropes in it. Now THAT was an interesting treatment on quads! Sheesh! In the end, it was a mild morning compared to most...and perfectly fine by me. It warmed me up, stretched me out and got the blood pumping. Week #25 of CrossFit complete!

- I am thankful to say that I have never touched an illegal drug...in my life. But did you know...in my county last month, we had a person die everyday from heroin? It's an epidemic and doesn't appear to be getting any better. It's on the news all of the time. Just so sad.

- Yesterday while my wife was waiting for me at the finish line (she ran the half marathon), she used the fleece blanket to keep warm on the 30 yard line. Well, a reporter from Stark County's newspaper, the Canton Repository, saw her, snapped this photo, then interviewed her. It's hilarious! That little poof of hair is her pony-tail sticking out. "You're a celebrity, Babe!"

- Am I only one that listens to the police scanner? There is an app called 5-0 Radio that you can pull up your local police scanner and listen in to the radio traffic. Quite interesting, entertaining and eye opening all at once. :)

- Speaking of what I put in my ears, my latest hook has been via iTunes Radio. I prefer this streaming service over others simply because there aren't any commercials. The channel called "Classical Chill" is my new favorite. Now if you don't like classical, don't bother. But if you do, I'd give it a try and see what you think. Early morning with my espresso and while I work in the office...perfect for both.

- Times of transition: Late last year, I wrote out some goal races for 2015 and if you haven't noticed yet, I've been deleting them as I go. Yesterday's race marks only the 2nd race of 2015. I already scrapped the Bull Run Run 50 Miler about 4 weeks ago and I've scrapped my return to the 100-mile race. It has nothing to do with yesterday but more about where my passions lie these days. I was a 100% runner prior to November of last year. It's all I did. Now I run a little (but still run) and CrossFit much more. I've sacrificed endurance but increased my strength and GREATLY increased my time with my wife....by a longshot. Overall, I'm happier and really treasure those miles on the road when I get out there. I love that time. So moving forward, I don't know where I'm headed. I'm kicking around a few 50Ks this year but haven't yet registered. I'd also like to see how fast I could run a 5K right now. (There happens to be one 2 miles from my house this Saturday...hmmm). There won't be any other marathons until next year's Hall of Fame Marathon, though. At the end of May, I'll do the Medina Half Marathon again...such a great race and it just sold out. On the CrossFit side of things, different gyms/boxes have comps...or competitions that they host. I'm doing my first near the end of June in a nearby box in Pennsylvania. There is one other one later this year that I am waiting for, too...and who knows what else might pop up. Besides that, not much else. I plan, simply, to get stronger, fitter, faster and enjoy it. If I lose the joy, you can count me out.

- Hey, back to that swag from the race. This blanket is awesome. On days where it's over 10 degrees below normal, it keeps the feet warm nicely. Last year, we got a blanket as well but it was blue...the same blue you see in this blanket. Now we have 3 in the house!

- My thoughts and prayers go out to the families impacted over the last day or so of two fallen Navy SEALs in Virginia. They were found at the bottom of a training pool on base in Virginia Beach. No official word, yet, but early reports point to a training accident. Multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and they die at home, training to be better at what they do for us. Very sad. Here is one of the many stories covering the tragedy.

- I have a few video suggestions for you. Whether you CrossFit, are a CrossFit hater, or are just curious, these few batches of videos are really, really good. The first is called "Road to Conviction." It is currently 4 episodes in (usually under 10min each) and is following the story of Fletcher who just got out of prison and found CrossFit. Go here for the series. The other batch is a culmination of video contest entries...the best of the best. Our personal favorite so far is the one of CrossFit SUBU in Orlando. They literally started on the grass in a backyard of someone's house...then another backyard. Totally grassroots and precisely the kind of community I'd love to be a part of someday. Here is the playlist I created for the contest videos. Enjoy! (seriously...give these a shot if you have a few...they'll suck you right in..both will!)

- Before I leave you today, just one dose of motivation. Earlier today, I got some undesired news. (not to worry...nothing tragic or anything I need prayers for...just another door closed...for the fourth time) Anyway, these words speak the truth and they reflect a decision each one of us must make no matter what it is we believe we have failed at. Have a GREAT week, everyone...and get back up!

"You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down." ~ Mary Pickford

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Race Report: Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon

Spoiler Alert! I got my 29th marathon finish and my 61st finish at a race of a marathon or longer. (32 ultra marathon finishes) I'm pooped but super happy. I left everything I had out on that course today and loved it. So the report...

I ran the inaugural running of this event last year and that was my last marathon, actually. I've been sticking to only one official marathon per year, although sometimes I'll be known to just run one on the weekend "just because." Last year was awesome and the race management of this race took the results of it and learned from it, made some tweaks, and brought us a fantastic race this year. The course, from what I could tell, had only one super minor tweak in it around Mile 21 where the last relay hand-off takes place. Outside of that, it appeared to be the same course.

Logistics: At the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there isn't enough parking to host all the runners (marathon, half marathon, and relay runners) without disrupting regular attenders of the Hall itself. Last year, they had everyone park at the Stark County Fairgrounds and shuttle them over. I didn't use that but this year, they moved the parking spot to the huge open parking lot of Belden Village Mall...one short exit down I-77 from the Hall. We arrived at 6:15am (7am race start) and didn't wait a moment for a bus. The Stark County transit was lined up to take us to the Fawcett Stadium and the start. Easy parking and super quick ride to the start...perfect and it couldn't be better. After the race, it was just as flawless. There were a plethora of buses lined up again so no wait at all. The drivers even had a great attitude, too. :) Upon arrival at the stadium, we walked on in to this view of the finish line and field...and a brilliant sunrise. The curve around the end zone at the bottom left is the sprint to the finish at the 50 yard line.

The Start: Both the half marathon and marathon races begin together just outside Fawcett Stadium and the Hall on the road in between them and I-77. A huge flag was hung over the start (which I especially loved) and easy to find pacers were scattered along the road so runners could seed themselves right where they need to be around others who plan to run around the same pace...very handy for preventing a stampede at the start. Prior to the start, the sun was rising fast, temps were in the 30s (but headed to the 50s) and my wife and I met up with longtime friend, Mindy, at the Hall's sign. This is definitely the most common meet-up spot for runners and for pre-race photos. The start is adjacent to this spot so it's perfect. The race was supposed to start at 7am but it sounds like some of those buses were still transporting runners so the race director decided to hold off on the start for about 10min or so. Once the time came, we were treated to a chorus singing the National Anthem...beautiful. To prove how the race management learned from last year, we couldn't hear a single word last year of the Anthem. This year, speakers were well-positioned and drowned out the chit-chat of the runners when it was time...perfect. THANK YOU! Moments after they finished, we were off...right under Old Glory!


The Course: This course is most easily described in two parts...the first half and the second half. All runners are together for the full and half marathon all the way until right before the half marathoners head back into Fawcett Stadium for their finish. This is pretty great, especially for those who are running with another runner of the opposing distance as I was. It's an easy break-off and easily understood. As for elevation, below is the elevation profile for the entire 26.2. "Rolling gently" is how I'd sum up this course. No big hills as I define them but certainly some rises and falls here and there.
First Half - click on it to enlarge
The first half takes you almost immediately under Interstate 77 and towards downtown Canton. Awesome architecture, tons of runners everywhere, not too much crowd support (or ever, for that matter) and an interesting route. The latter half of the first half takes you into a park setting and then the McKinley Monument and those famous steps...imagine Rocky Balboa in Philly...but many more of them. Tempting to run up...but I thought better of it. :) My plan today was to hang out around the 9min/mile area and the 4hr pace group leader and then if I had more to give later, I would. We moved past that pace group leader early on and maintained around a 8:45-ish pace. I haven't been training at all for this race and haven't done any serious distance since my last race, a 50K in early January. Since then, I think I've run at most 15 or 16 miles at once and only ran 2-3 days a week at the very most. Instead, I've been doing CrossFit five days a week. Today was to be a true litmus test of endurance. I believe I am more fit than ever in my life but when it comes to long distance running, endurance is bound to decrease if the miles aren't put in. Since I have a life outside of my 1hr of CrossFit a day, the running has taken a backseat. Still, though, I love to run and I'd like to run this marathon for as many years as I can without missing one. Usually, I know or have a good gut feeling for what waits for me, based on my prep but I had no idea today. As I approached the halfway point, I felt great...very comfy at my pace. I hung a left as the half marathoners cruised ahead towards their finish and the silence immediately took a hold. Quiet. Total.

The second half is almost entirely residential and takes place west of the southwest of the Hall. If you like turns and having the road all to yourself, this is your cup-o-tea. Now before you think I'm hating on the second half, please understand that I knew this before running it this year...not last year, though. I don't typically like to complain without offering a suggestion for improvement. In this case, I have no idea what I'd suggest. #1: the bulk of runners are finishing the half marathon...way more registrants. You can't do much about that and that's the trend nationwide. #2: Residential is...boring. Unless the residents come out to cheer us on, it's going to be painfully quiet except for the regular water stop and running families waiting for their runner to pass...and cheering others on while they wait. So while the second half is what it is, you just need to be prepared for it. For some, it may be music and if that's you, bring it! Here's the zig-zag second half:
2nd Half - click on it to enlarge
It was probably around the 17 mile point that I knew my time had come and the suffering was coming. By the time Mile 19 rolled around, "suck-it-up-buttercup" mode was fully engaged. From lifts I did in CrossFit last week (felt those in my upper and lower back) to my quads, hammies, and calves yelling (and cussing) at me. This was absolutely no surprise so now it was just a matter of keeping forward movement...and delaying the arrival of the 4hr pace group leader that would catch me...eventually.

One of my favorite (if not my favorite) parts of the course happens in the 20th mile just like last year. The Flags of Freedom put an incredible 1,000 3x5 flags on poles in the ground, one at a time along the course. With the clear blue skies and breeze, every Old Glory waved in a majestic way. This was a great distraction from the sucktastic Mile 20.

As the miles progressed, the discomfort grew and I slowed. It was in the 24th mile that the 4hr pace group leader went on by with only two runners at his side...pretty typical of what happens in a marathon. I told them "great job" and watched them go. There was no keeping up with them. Within about 1/2 mile of the finish, the series of downhills begin as the surrounding neighborhood roads took me back to Fawcett Stadium. If you reference the top photo in this report, all runners enter the stadium at the top left. We all pass over an electronic sensor that lets the finish line announcer know who's coming and as I turned the corner to the finish, I had the finish line all to myself. I heard my name announced and raised my hands as I crossed the finish. DONE. I didn't wear a watch so I had no idea what my time was until a little bit later. The volunteers draped the awesome medal over my neck and I loaded up with some Subway, a banana, some chocolate milk and water. All very appreciated! As promised, my wife was waiting for me in the sun on the 30 yard line and I hit the turf...hard. :) Mission accomplished! A short while later, I logged in the event's website and checked my finish time: 4hrs, ONE minute, 47 seconds. I guess I wasn't as far behind that pace group leader as I thought! :) But seriously...that's awfully close to being UNDER 4 hours. What's cool about running without a watch is the mental decision to leave it all out there on the course and hold nothing back. That's precisely what I did. I don't regret anything because I know I gave it all. Marathon #29 finish!

All in all, this is a GREAT race. Jim Chaney (race director) and his team have done a fantastic job. The ONLY downside is the second half and how lonely and quiet it is but like I said, I don't have a suggestion to fix that. The finish line at the 50 yard line, an uncrammed finish line area to get the medal and food, and wide open field to just crash in the sun is awesome. Then there is that medal. The marathon finishers got a medal that, I kid you not, has battery-powered stadium lights on them that flash. Talk about thinking outside the box!!! The half marathoners got a super-cool medal, too. Both are totally different but equally creative and awesome. I'll certainly be back next year but I think I'll turn on some tunes in the second half. I had them today...I just didn't turn them on. Great race, great organizers, super-awesome volunteers...and I do love Old Glory and it was everywhere today. Do it in 2016! Marathon, half marathon, marathon relay and Gold Jacket 5K on Saturday. www.hofmarathon.com

Sunday, April 19, 2015

CrossFit: 5 1/2 Months Complete

Where do I start...it's been 4 weeks since I last wrote about CrossFit and haven't written a word here in two weeks so as you know, I could write, write, write for awhile. Let's stick to the subject at hand, shall we?

My last update was at Week 20 and you can read that here. You can read them all since Day 1 here. Tomorrow wraps up Week 24. I'm still going strong and loving it. If you're waiting for the injury to happen or for me to quit, I have to spoil this post right now...neither has happened. If you're waiting for me to say "I hate running and I've quit" then you'll be disappointed there as well. But, let's get that running "thing" out of the way first. I am still running, but it's only 2-3 days per week. I had been registered for the Bull Run Run 50 Miler in Virginia last weekend and I withdrew from that. Why? For no other reason than losing the desire/passion to do it. Given my background in ultra-running, I absolutely know that my head must be in it and especially at distances past 50K (31.2 miles). Instead of running that race last Saturday, I headed to my CrossFit box and did my 6th workout of the week...in my head, it was sort of a way to salvage the withdrawal from the race. Quid pro quo...sorta. :) This time next Saturday, I will have run my 29th marathon at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in Canton, OH. Since running the Frozen Sasquatch 50K a few days after New Year's Day this year, I haven't even come close to running 26.2 miles. A few days ago on my 42nd birthday, I ran 14 miles home after my morning CrossFit workout and while only 14 miles, I "felt it" more than I really should. The truth is, I am fitter than ever but my long distance running endurance is fading. Can I go the distance? Sure I can. Can I do as "well?"... most likely not. Next Sunday will be interesting and I'm sure I'll write up a post-race report about the experience. I'm really looking forward to the race. It'll also be my 61st race of a marathon or longer. Bottom Line: I'm ok with where I'm at and letting running take a back seat. I am happy and I spend more time with my family than ever. It's all good. :)

So as for CrossFit, I continue to make gains, get stronger, do the movements better, and reach new plateaus. I also recover faster now and have less soreness that bothers me. I think the reason is twofold: 1) I am well aware of bad form and what can hurt me. I have a great coach and I watch a fair amount of instructional videos. Getting hurt is NOT an option and I will shy away from more weight before I hurt myself. 2) My schedule. I never miss a weekday workout unless I'm on vacation and that's only been for one week in the past 5 1/2 months. I've even added a Saturday the past two weeks. Because my coaches program the workouts to vary so greatly, different muscle groups are still getting rest even though I'm not missing workouts. They are very cognizant of that and don't "punish" the same body part two days in a row. I could add a third, too: Nutrition. I recover/refuel strictly with Hammer Nutrition's Whey Protein and I eat pretty darn well. I still love my craft brew and the occasional basket of fresh cut fries and a burger but overall, I eat very well. I don't follow any specific plan, I just follow common sense. Sure, I may not be the chiseled person some seek to be but I'm happy with my progress. Speaking of which, I did a collage side-by-side photo last week after a run. If you follow me on Instagram (@RTRSBM), you may remember that photo from last summer sans shirt while out on a run. I thought it was a good comparison as it clearly shows the absence of any muscle tone whatsoever. Basically, it's just skin and flesh.
Back on April 3rd, a week after the CrossFit Open ended, we got a surprise workout on that Friday dubbed CrossFit Total. Basically, it's an hour to work towards a One Rep Max of three lifts: the Strict Press, the Back Squat and the Dead Lift. My first response was: "That's it? No workout?" Well, I ended up loving it. It was a chance to take our time, warm up to our previous best weight and see how heavy we could get up to. This is a very important number because so many of our strength workouts are based on "percentages of max effort" lifts. For example, we might be doing 5 rounds of 5 reps of push jerks at 80%. Well, if we don't know what our true push jerk max is, then it's hard to know I'm doing the 80% that I'm truly capable of. (Ironically, I really need a 1 rep max of the push jerk. We do them so often so that 1 rep max would be a huge help!) Anyway, the CrossFit Total was a blast and I hit new personal records for all three lifts with the biggest one being a 60lb PR for the dead lift. I hit 325 pounds but stopped there because my wife said my back was beginning to curve...a big no-no and early warning of pending injury if continued.

So what's going really well? Well, we don't climb rope much but on March 31st, we had a WOD with 3 rope climbs in it and I did it. Very happy about that. I'm also very close to getting T2B (Toes to Bar) done during a WOD. I can do it on the side but not fast during a WOD...so I'm still doing "knees to elbow" instead. My other strengths are definitely rowing, box jumps, and anytime they send us outside to run...no doubt. My biggest GRIN, though, came on Friday when after doing pull-ups in a WOD, I decided to practice them without the band. Up until now, I've been doing all pull-ups during workouts strict and with a band. Outside of workouts, I've been practicing plain 'ol strict pull-ups unassisted. Friday, I finally was able to connect kipping pull-ups that are commonplace in CrossFit. Outside of CrossFit, many people sneer at them and say they aren't pull-ups at all. True..they are kipping pull-ups! Anyway, they are a mainstay in so many WODs and a necessary skill. On Saturday, I went in for a workout and afterwards shot some video. I do this so I can critique myself, share with others from afar who will offer help/critique, and slow it down in slow motion to show my coaches who can offer help. Below is that video. I know I need to keep my legs straighter (not that 90 degree angle at the back) and keep my legs/feet more together.


There is another reason I am beyond thrilled to shed the band. Way before I began CrossFit back on November 4th, I knew about "Murph." Murph is a Hero WOD named after Lt. Michael P. Murphy, SEAL, who died in Afghanistan. In fact, when I was stationed there in 2011, I looked out over the Hindu Kush Mountains where he was killed. I take very seriously service to my country and love the part of CrossFit that has workouts named in honor of fallen heroes. Well, Murph is one of the grand-daddy Hero WODs and is done on Memorial Day. It is this: 1 mile run, then 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats, and another 1 mile run. All along, I've had the goal of doing Murph without a band for the pullups and now I know I can. Granted, I won't do all 100 at a time, I'm most likely going to do 20 sets of: 5 pullups, 5 pushups, 15 squats, 5 pushups. In total, that'll hit the numbers...then go run a mile. I plan on carrying a full size American flag for that first and last mile, too. I promise...I will give every shred of effort I have to that WOD and nothing less than 100% will be acceptable. It's going to be very tough and grueling...but I can't wait! Just a few days before Murph on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, my wife and I are heading to our first CrossFit competition just outside of Pittsburgh called the MetCon Games. We are really looking forward to it!

As for what's still really a struggle for me: Well, anytime that barbell is going overhead, it's tough and my weight on that barbell is far from impressive...but that's OK! I'm still getting stronger and inching up the weight. My flexibility is also less than stellar. This makes things like front squats, overhead squats, and thrusters more of a balancing act rather than doing what's truly intended. I continue to stretch a lot and try new methods of stretching. I'm also still struggling at getting up in the handstand consistently. I need to eventually evolve into a handstand pushup from the handstand. Lastly...dips. If I'm ever to get on those rings and go for a muscle up, I have to be able to do dips on stationary bars. Plenty of things to work on! In CrossFit, it's never the intention to specialize in any one thing....just to be good in everything. That's why my trainer said on Week One: "It never gets easier." :)

Before I close out tonight's post, I have to say some thanks. In the photo below are some great people. My wife and I are on the left, Charlie is in the middle and he is one of the two coaches/owners of the gym and leads our class every morning, and Dave and Heidi are on the right. They are the ones responsible for inviting us back in November! We greatly value their friendships and the friendly competition they bring every day. We sweat together, laugh together, and push each other. It's one of the best parts of doing CrossFit...the friendships and community that surround the efforts everyday. Thank you to all 3 of you! (and to my wife...I'm so very proud of you! We continue to go together, cheer each other on, debrief each other on the way home, and celebrate every day's accomplishments. I couldn't ask for a better workout partner! I love you!)

I get some grief for watching a lot of videos...yea, yea, yea...I know. Well, I watched a documentary earlier today about the life back in Finland of the 2009 CrossFit Games champion, Mikko Salo. A very common term in Finnish culture is Sisu. I love it and it's a perfect mantra for how to approach every workout and every obstacle in life no matter what it is.


Till next time!

Monday, April 6, 2015

M-Cubed for 4.6.2015

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

- How was your Easter? We kicked the Easter bunny and his/her baskets to the curb this year and instead relied only on beautiful Easter dresses for our girls. We enjoyed a fantastic Easter breakfast (thanks to my wife) of ham (from her cousin's farm), her sinful cheesy potatoes and scrambled eggs. It's safe to say I didn't eat again until late afternoon! We took our traditional photo before church and headed off to the Easter service. I always love seeing the really little kids (under 5 years old) dressed up with their gorgeous dresses and suit/tie. Easter is certainly a huge "holiday" for me and how I believe. Without it, my faith is negated (in my opinion) and hollow/empty. Christmas is just the beginning...Easter provides the hope for me and everyone else.

- I had mentioned a book previously that I was reading called "A Case for Grace." After getting a whopping 10 hours of sleep on Saturday (compared to my daily 6), I laid around like a bum and was able to finish that book. Lee Strobel did a fantastic job with this book. He is a former agnostic who started out in journalism in Chicago years ago and is best known for his hugely popular investigative book "Case for Christ" where he uses science, personal accounts, history and facts to validate Christ. This book is a series of interviews he does with people who were either strung out on drugs (of the worst kind), given up to the streets as a kid in a foreign country, or an executioner in Cambodia...but all experienced true grace. One story actually flips the pattern on its head by beginning really good but plummets due to really bad choices...but then rebounds. It's a short 174 pages so if this guy can finish it, you can as well. I highly recommend it! After finishing it, I headed out for a sunny 6 miles in the country that gave me a few minutes to think about those stories and how I've experienced grace and/or how I can or should extend it to others. After my 6, I cooled down with this kettle bell. Often after a run, I can barely bend over...my flexibility goes away the longer I run. I did a quick kettle bell and squat cool-down workout that restored that flexibility. We were shown this 4 minute workout in our Friday CrossFit class for warm-up so I thought I would try it. Worked perfectly! (Aren't the blue Brooks Pure Flows sweet? I just put my initial miles on them after racking up 410 miles on the last pair...love them!)

- April 4th on Saturday marked our 5 month point doing CrossFit. It went FAST. It was another good week at the gym and Friday was a great "cherry on top" of the week and the 5 months. Instead of the typical "WOD," we spent the hour on something called "CrossFit Total." This was our chance to hit our "1 rep max" on three different lifts then total the number. Many of our lifts on any given day are prescribed as percentages. In other words, we may be told to do 5 rounds of 3 reps of back squats at 85%. That 85% is 85% of our maximum weight...something different for everyone. To get the opportunity for "1 rep max" on lifts along the way is a great benchmark and serves as a way to show progress and keep you moving forward daily. CrossFit Total is comprised of the back squat (one of my favorites), the strict overhead press (harder than it looks!) and the dead lift. I had a great morning and set personal records in all 3 with the biggest jump being in the dead lift. My previous record was 265 pounds but I beat that by 60 pounds and hit 325 pounds. Overall, my total was 680 pounds. To put that in comparison, the beast of a lifter in my class hit 1115 pounds! His dead lift was a crazy 565 pounds and he is currently the top dead lifter in our gym. We also have a bunch of strong ladies in our gym that did what I did or even more. For me, though, I have shown tons of progress and couldn't be happier with the progress. Even better, my back wasn't sore in the slightest bit come Saturday morning...evidence I was actually doing those dead lifts CORRECTLY...something that wasn't necessarily true previously. Here is the less than 10 second video of me lifting the 325 pounds. Here is my friend, Dave, lifting his 565 pounds. Incredible!

- Signed up! My wife and I signed up for our first local CrossFit competition over Memorial Day weekend just outside nearby Pittburgh. Dubbed the "MetCon Games," we'll do 3 different workouts that day and they even feed us....a bonus! Looking forward to it! (info here about CrossFit SteelTown's MetCon Games)

- I'm sure (or maybe not) you heard about the Indiana debate going on this past week. It all centered around a law that supposedly gave business owners the right to turn away customers based on their belief structure, namely things like sexual orientation. That created a firestorm in social media, much like recent times that involved Chick-Fil-A and their public opinion/stance/belief on marriage. I'm not here to judge or offer my opinion on all of that. However, I did have to share some thoughts last Thursday as a response to a slew of hate online that while not directly at me, was using far too broad a brush to paint hate across the Christian landscape. It was the epitome of intolerance being shown by people who preach tolerance. Instead of engaging in debate and true "keyboard warrior" antics, I decided to write down some thoughts as objectively and factually as possible. Of course, those thoughts ruffled some feathers and as expected, a few folks showed themselves the door. Below is my post (sans comments and likes)...unsanitized and as originally posted.

- Friday night, I had the real privilege of attending a free screening of a new documentary called "Collecting Sgt. Dan." Dan Patron was killed on August 6, 2011 in southern Afghanistan (when I was there, actually) by a roadside bomb he was attempting to defuse. He was an EOD tech (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) in the Marine Corps. From Canton, OH, his brother decided to create this documentary to honor his brother. It's called "Collecting Sgt. Dan" because to tell the story, his brother headed to the east coast to find his brother's fellow Marines and "collect" the stories in order that he may tell his story. It was very well done and I recommend finding it on Amazon or iTunes where you can currently stream it via rental. Here is the website and trailer.

- About 6 days ago, I jotted down some random questions and among them, was asking them of myself. As we all begin another week, they are a good way to ground myself/yourself and if a change needs to happen, perhaps choose today to do it.

What will you choose today?
  • Lift up or beat down and discourage?
  • Smile or frown?
  • Meet people where they are or see only your standard?
  • Let them merge or cut them off?
  • Laugh at people or laugh with them?
  • Celebrate a new accomplishment of someone or remain ignorant?
  • Grow up or remain a child in words and actions?
  • Open the door for someone or walk in front of them, letting the door close in their face?
  • Tell your significant other/kids you love them or leave home in silence?
  • Betray the one you swore allegiance to or maintain your covenant?
  • Forgive or live behind the veil of bitterness?
  • Smoke/drink another or end your addiction today?
  • Text and drive...or drive?
  • Live in yesterday or live in today and never look back?
  • Be authentically you or hide behind makeup, clothing, image and stuff?
- As I say goodbye today, I'd like to share a quote from John "The Penguin" Bingham. You can replace the "running/walking" with anything here and make it your own. Have a great week, everyone!

"There's no reason to do any of it – to run, walk, or race – unless it brings joy into your life. You can find satisfaction in the act of moving your body from the first tentative steps. There's no need to postpone the joy until you've reached a dreamt up point of experience or skill. As a beginner, the time to find and embrace the joy is now."
– John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running