Saturday, May 30, 2015

CrossFit at 31 Weeks and a Half Marathon

It's been since April 19th since my last update on my journey into quite awhile and a lot can happen in that time span. Today, I'd like to simply gloss over a few things and give you an update after this morning's Medina Half Marathon. I'm not in much of a race report writing mood but I would like to report on it.

I looked back on my 5 1/2 month report on April 19th and my attitude was pretty good back then. No injury, more forward progress, and praise for those who helped get me to that point. In more recent days and weeks, I've stalled out a bit. While I haven't decreased the volume, I also haven't gotten any better. There are some things I know I'm awful at and when those things aren't getting any's discouraging. One of my biggest issues is my squat. The squat is so fundamental to so many things. For me, my back curves badly. My rear end should be sticking out then a nice curve upward. My curve is going the other way. It's a recipe for disaster and injury. This poor form is the anchor in so many things, especially in Olympic lifting. Add lots of lifting into high intensity workouts with garbage form and what result can realistically be expected? This constant struggle along with not knowing how to correct it and continue my upward trajectory has caused a lot of discouragement. I simply can't coach myself or teach myself. Then there is another issue that arose over the past 3 weeks. I'll just let the photo speak for itself:
Those 6 tears happened on ONE workout. It was a Hero WOD that included in it 120 pull-ups. Well not too long ago I shed the band and started doing pull-ups via kipping and nothing else. One thing I learned after this multiple tear is that I should be shaving down my callouses. I guess I should've just known that because no one ever told me. So when I did those pull-ups, the callouses got caught up on the bar and ripped the heck out of my hands. The shower that immediately followed this tear was NOT nice! Oh my my. Even worse, this happened about 10 days before Memorial Day, the day I was targeting the Murph Hero WOD that included 100 pull-ups...a long-standing goal of mine. So over the next week, I did everything I could to let my hands heal until a high-volume workout of pull-ups was introduced only a few days before Memorial Day. Foolish me again...I should've walked away but I didn't. I did it with my healing hands and a ton of athletic tape but it didn't matter. My right hand tore again in a 7th location just inside my right thumb. That workout was my first DNF..."did not finish." I couldn't even grab the bar it hurt so bad. I was fighting to finish it but was moving so slow that the whole gym had cleared out except for two other members. With 10 reps left, I quit. It simply wasn't worth the pain. Who'd notice anyhow? Everyone was gone...and Murph was 4 days away. I went home and Googled the heck out of this injury and how to fix my hands. I decided to not do head was in a bad place.

In comes a great friend of mine about 90min to my east. Memorial Day weekend was knocking and another nationwide workout was sweeping boxes from coast to coast called 21 Guns. It was being driven by Team Red, White, Blue (Team RWB) and included running, box jumping, burpees, push-ups and pull-ups. I couldn't get it programmed or offered at my gym so I just figured I wouldn't be doing it...until that Saturday morning. My good CrossFit friend convinced me to figure out how to do it at home. I have no pull-up bar and my hands were trash so I replaced them with 20 second hand-stand holds...against my garage door! For the 24" box jumps, I used an 18" boulder at the end of my driveway. Everything else I could do. 21 Guns was a 21min AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of: 400m run, 21 box jumps, 21 push-ups, 15 burpees, 9 pull-ups. I got in 3 full rounds plus another run, a set of push-ups, and 20 "boulder" jumps. Done! That Sunday, my friend had about FORTY people show up for 21 Guns...FORTY! Ironically, she got the exact same number of reps as me...but she was actually doing pull-ups. Very thankful for the nudge and push from her when I needed it. She's a no-bull kinda girl...tough love...but a great friend that I can always count on, even when I never see her.

But what about Murph? The Murph Hero WOD is a 1mi run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and finally another 1mi run. I originally decided to can it...but in came the self-talk: "Am I too good or proud to scale it down and find a different way? Am I better to sit on the couch?" I decided to re-introduce the band and do strict pull-ups. No swinging around (kipping) at all. It may not be what I originally intended, but it would still honor LT Michael Murphy. I showed up on Monday morning, Memorial Day, and did it...all of it. I did the run then did 20 sets of 5 pull-ups, 5 push-ups, 15 squats 5 push-ups...then ran another mile. I finished in 48min, first Murph. I will most certainly go back and do Murph legit...unassisted pull-ups and with a 20lb vest. Today, my hands are healing up nicely and I have avoided anything that would tear them. I have, however, done a lot of bar work but have chalked them heavily to minimize the friction. I've also been using healing ointment to get them better faster and keep them moist to prevent cracking as they heal.

Throughout all of this, I decided to look outside the gym at a brand new location only 2 miles away. I took one day 8 days ago to stop in for a workout for free just to see how I liked it and how the coaching/programming worked. Being a totally new startup CrossFit affiliate, there are very few members and no classes are being held. Instead, the coach there is big on individual training and making it whatever it needs to be. He had me squat within a few minutes of walking in the door and immediately pointed out my curved back...a fundamental flaw of mine that has got to be corrected. Fundamentals first! We worked on that, bench pressed, did some arm curls and then he pulled out the sled...a device I had never used before. Basically, it's a metal sled with weights on top of it and it gets pushed over the asphalt. On one side, two high bars get pushed against and on the return trip, you have to get low to push on the lower bar....much MUCH harder! That workout included 6 sled pushes and lots of box jumps and burpees. My wife joined me for the fun as well. (she didn't "appreciate" the sweat-fest as much as I did!) I visited alone a few days ago for a second visit to help me decide if I wanted to make the switch to this new gym and after about 90min there, my rear-end got handed to me again! The sled came out and it was that along with knees-to-elbows and push-presses...4 rounds. Before we even got there, though, I found myself on the rower, doing lunges and a 10min EMOM of deadlifting off the boxes...another first. That curved back was a problem in dead lifts and the rower. I negatively impacts everything! The push-presses went well, though...just not very heavy but that's ok!
Once the day was a wrap, I had made up my mind. I was making the switch. The quality of one-on-one coaching is something I really appreciate and I know I need the help and he is unwilling to propel me forward until I'm ready. I'm excited about what the future holds when I get some things is my new coach. I hope to shed off some of the stagnancy, frustration and poor form and have a blast at doing this along with seeing gains along the way...properly. So far, everyone I have met there has been super nice and with a hand outstretched to welcome me to the family. I'm sure I'll have bumps in the road but I'm encouraged by everything I've seen so far. The one downside in the switch is not seeing many of the new friends I've made over the last 6 months any longer. Thanks to social media, though, I'll stay in touch and hopefully meet up here and there. I've been blessed to meet some really awesome people!

So how about that half marathon?! Well, I ran the Medina Half Marathon this morning. It is an extremely well-executed race that supports some awesome non-profits. Last year, I killed it with a 1:38 finish and 7:33 pace. This morning, however, brought with it 80% humidity....yikes. It wasn't hot but wow, was it moist!!! I decided to run sans shirt (for the first race ever!) and see what happened. The first few miles were fast and on target from last year but within the first 5 miles, I realized that the humidity was going to trump any intentions I had of setting a course personal record. By mile 6, it turned into a slug-fest and I fought for a backup goal of getting in under 1hr, 50min. In the end, my shorts were completely soaked top to bottom but I finished in 1:49:19. That was good for 115 of 874 finishers, 83 of 346 men, 12th of 61 in my age group, and 40th of 176 men in the masters division. (good grief...I can't believe I'm in the masters division!!) Great race and I'm already signed up for 2016!

All-in-all...things are good. I'm excited for what lays ahead and I'm ready to work hard. No huge goals on the horizon...just to be the best I can be and stay injury-free. (oh I'm rhyming!) Well...there is one small goal. Our first CrossFit competition is the last Saturday of this month out at my friend's gym in PA. My wife and I are both really looking forward to it!

Monday, May 18, 2015

M-Cubed for 5.18.2015

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

- There was a moment about a week ago where I was going to draft and post a commencement address if I were to give one today. Well, as many things in my head are in "draft mode" to write here, time never did avail itself to write such a post but then I stumbled upon this gem of a speech by none other than famed actor, Denzel Washington. He gave the address to the graduates of Dillard University a week ago and I was really blown away by the humility, selflessness, and non-materialistic nature of his speech. Really, REALLY good and worth the watch/listen. Here is one quote I grabbed that I had to pause the video for: "Dreams without goals are just dreams and they ultimately fuel have dreams, but have goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, daily goals..." You can watch it here.

Top is immediately after the workout.
- Last week was a really challenge at the CrossFit box. Two days of the five that I went to class, I was dead last...but finished. One day was pure endurance with no weights at all and was four 500m rows plus an all-out 800m run. That day, I took the lowest combined time in my class and the fastest 800m run at 2:49. Then, we had 2 Hero WODs as well. On Monday, we did "Klepto" that was in honor of an Air Force pilot who was killed in Afghanistan when I was over there, actually. Klepto was his call-sign. It was 4 rounds of 27 box jumps, 20 burpees, and 11 squat cleans. He was killed on  4-27-2011...thus the reason for those numbers. It was a long haul of a workout! On Friday, we did another one called Bradshaw. 1LT Bradshaw, U.S. Army was killed by an IED in 2009 in Afghanistan. "Bradshaw" tore me up. I've been working on pull-ups and this one had 120 of them! It was 10 rounds of 4 hand stand push ups (I did pike push ups instead), 6 dead lifts at 225lbs, 12 pull ups, and 24 DUBs (I did 48 single jump ropes). Well, since no one has ever told me to shave down my callouses on my hands, my hands 6 places. Since then, I've been trimming skin, using lots of neosporin, and NOT shaking hands. Bradshaw was one of the WODs where I was dead last, entirely because my hands hurt so dang bad and I could only do 2 or 3 pull ups at a time. I actually did all 60 dead lifts at the prescribed weight...very happy about that! The WOD ended up taking me 34min, 31sec..but I finished. (That's a LONG workout, by the way) I know some have their opinion about being so slow, but I tried my hardest and didn't quit from the pain. Luckily, I Googled Bradshaw prior to the workout to know who I was working in honor of...that definitely helped. A little bit of pain was worth it. Leaning forward, I'm really looking forward to the Hero WOD "Murph"...coming up one week from today on Memorial Day along with working hard every day no matter what the challenge.

- My wife and I had the pleasure and honor of attending a friend's wedding over the weekend. It was a rainy evening so the lakeside vows were moved inside. It was a perfect wedding. Instead of two massive bridal parties, there was his brother and her sister by their sides and two young nieces bringing the "cute factor" down the aisle. Purple and peacocks were clearly a theme and it was more of a fun atmosphere and interactive. Congratulations, Shawn and Abby!!! And were beautiful!!!

- Proud dad right here! I have a few very talented daughters. One loves to sing and rightfully so...such a beautiful voice. She also plays the guitar. The other plays piano and the flute. Yesterday, the annual music awards ceremony was held in our local high school and as my oldest gets ready to enter the high school, she received a few really awesome awards. First, she was voted on by her peers for the Leadership Award for the year. I told her how awesome that is because it's her fellow classmates who picked her as a leader...that says a lot! The second award and one she was really hoping for: "The Fred Waring Director's Award for Chorus® recognizes the talent and enthusiasm of outstanding choral members." It's "the" award to get as one leaves middle school. Well, she got it as well! Super proud to be her dad!

- It's time to start mixing things up a bit and getting myself back on the roads I love to run and hills I love to conquer. Usually after I pen this post, I head to CrossFit where in years past I was on the roads to run. Today and for many scattered days coming up, I'm back on the roads and will be going to some afternoon CrossFit classes. While the workouts are the same, different box members and a different coach leads those classes. I'm looking forward to the change! I'm very much a morning person so those afternoon/early evening classes should be interesting...but a refreshing change. I'm definitely looking forward to watching some sunrises from the run again. Yesterday, in fact, I got in a very sweaty/balmy/moist 7 miler on my favorite country route. Color, birds singing, and even some cows having breakfast. Of course, I grabbed a running selfie. I'd hate to disappoint the haters! :)

- Surely, you've heard of beer, brew, tap handles and kegs. Whether you enjoy some bland Bud Light or quality craft brew or don't drink at all, these terms are familiar. What probably ISN'T familiar is using terms like brew, keg and tap when referring to coffee. Well, my favorite coffee shop in Kent, OH (Bent Tree Coffee Roasters) where I stop en route to work every day for my daily French Press recently debuted their nitro cold brew. It's brewed and kept fresh in an ice cold keg with a blanket of nitrogen. On Saturday, I took a solo stroll through Kent along the Cuyahoga River and walked in the shop to finally try it. What I expected was a bland iced coffee taste. What I got was a very rich and creamy, full of complex flavor cup of ice cold coffee brew. INCREDIBLE is the only word I could use. It was so good! Like I told the owners, Mike and Ryan, that's what you get when you take craft beer lovers and they open a coffee shop! Well done, gentlemen...WELL DONE!

- Before I leave you today, I just want to say a hearty thanks to those of you who have served our country and to those of you who might be serving today. Saturday was Armed Forces Day and while most didn't know that, I did and just wanted to say thanks...just in case no one did!!! THANK YOU!!!

- This week's quote speaks straight to my inner being because lately, I have felt beat down and one person stands out in particular...maybe even two! I just have to remember to shrug those things off and get my head screwed back on straight and keep charging forward. I definitely take on challenges and dig deep...I just need help believing in myself more and stopping others from bringing me down. That just doesn't come easy to me! Have a GREAT week, everyone!

"Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going." ~ Chantal Sutherland

Monday, May 11, 2015

M-Cubed for 5.11.2015

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

- Did you make your mom/wife of your children or furry friends breakfast yesterday for Mother's Day? Well, in our house, I was specifically asked NOT to make anything! Instead, I just tried to make it the best day I could for my bride and even did my best to keep the kids at bay for an afternoon nap for her. Overall, it ended up being a lazy, great day and I think she ended it with a smile.

- On Saturday, we shed our children and sorta had a pre-Mother's Day walk through beautiful gardens in Youngstown, OH at Fellows Riverside Gardens. It would certainly be over-run with people yesterday so we walked the grounds early. The tulips were still in bloom, the grass was cool under our bare feet and we spotted two brides who were getting married. In fact, the grounds had four weddings lined up on Saturday. These gardens are notorious for weddings all summer long with their beautiful landscapes, gazebos and soon-to-bloom rose garden. Here's one tulip I digitally grabbed on our walk.

- Are you a fan of 60 Minutes? It's one of the last true news shows, in my opinion, that provides top notch reporting, is unbiased, and unique stories not heard anywhere else. I also recently heard it's one of the only news shows without an anchor. Instead, there are reporters but no one is at the helm. With the fall of Brian Williams of NBC, many believe the anchor is an unnecessary position meant for nothing more than ratings. Anyway, last night featured CrossFit, of all subjects. It was a story that 60 Minutes has been pursuing for over 2 years but finally convinced the founder of CrossFit to let them in. It was a raw and candid interview with Greg Glassman and in my opinion, gave a good look into this world that I've been a part of for 6 months now. It's intriguing and interesting to anyone in or out of the community. You'll definitely be caught off guard by Glassman if you've never heard him speak before. Here is the story and here is the extra not aired during the program.

Olentangy River
- I'm not a fan of being away from home but Thursday into Friday took me about 2 1/2 hours south in Columbus on a work trip. I really do love the city and it wouldn't be hard to convince me to sell up north and move down there. There's just an endless number of things to do and see and so much culture. Plus, it doesn't get blasted in the winter like we do in the snow belt. While there, I got to enjoy a nice 6 miler on Friday morning on the Olentangy Trail that included a run adjacent to The Ohio State University campus and the famed "Horseshoe" football stadium. Gorgeous morning for a run! Before the business of the trip began on Thursday, though, I showed up early to Columbus for a visit to Rogue Fitness Headquarters. In the CrossFit world, it portrays itself as king when it comes to equipment. Well, all of their equipment is American-made and they are based right here in Ohio...actually only a few miles from the hotel I strategically chose. They now have a retail store so I made a quick stop due to being squeezed on time, grabbed a shirt, and oodled at the most fantastic "display gym"...only for use by Rogue employees. It whispered "Come WOD with me..." as I walked through it. Beautiful facility! If ever a blank check with no limit would appear in my hand, this would be a most fantastic place to visit.

- I had the privilege of attending a Navy retirement on Friday afternoon on my way home from Columbus out in the country north of Columbus in Mount Vernon, OH. It was a standing-room only retirement in the Elks Lodge to celebrate 27 years of service by one of our Master Chiefs. While long at 2 hours, it was so good and worth every moment spent there to honor his service. The speeches, the focus of thanks given to his father and his wife, and to hear how his fellow shipmates and former commanding officers looked to him and held him in high regard was awesome to watch and hear. It was one of those experiences I won't soon forget and one that I'll file away as my day to retire is much closer than not. "Fair winds and following seas, Master Chief. We've got the watch."

- I'm not a fan of basketball...most definitely not. BUT, I will make an exception and jump on the Cleveland bandwagon for now. Last night, we all watched LeBron James make the winning basket at the buzzer to top the Chicago Bulls, silence the Chicago crowd and tie up the playoff series at 2 games a piece. They come home to Cleveland for game 5 tomorrow night. It was great to see a game since nearly all of the games so far have been on ESPN and we don't have cable. It was also so weird to cheer for a Cleveland team and not be let down with a loss...SO weird..and awesome! :)

- Last Monday was the completion of 6 months of CrossFit...SIX months! Hard to believe, especially from this "CrossFit Hater" I once was. I've been brewing some thoughts for a new post on where I'm at with it and just haven't jotted down those thoughts, yet. I did take some new photos for comparison purposes, too...those are on my Instagram account. Look for the recent black-n-white photo. (Instagram account link at top right of this blog in sidebar) Leaning forward, I'm more than ready to attack this week and close out week 26 after 3 days of much-needed rest, ready to attack the "Murph" WOD on Memorial Day and looking forward to my first competition at the end of June at CrossFit Steeltown in nearby Moon, PA. The photo below was posted last week by professional photographer, Brian Alls, who captured it on the last Saturday in March during the final workout of the CrossFit Games Open that I did. Much thanks, Brian!

- I read an article this morning in the current issue of Runner's World in their segment for Mind+Body. I always love to read an article that confirms something I'm already doing. Here are some bullet points I gleaned from the article:
  • Start Early: A run or workout before breakfast appears to encourage our bodies to burn more fat according to a recent research article due to having been in a fasting state all night...and encourages us to eat better throughout the day.
  • Drink Water: Chug some water as soon as you wake up. We've been DEhydrating all night because with every exhalation, we get rid of water, it helps fill our stomach when we might wanna feast PRIOR to our run or workout.
  • Roll: I'm a big fan of my foam roller so I was happy to read this. Rolling 10min each morning helps to release tight muscles and activate weaker ones that will help us move more efficiently during the day and will set us up for a stronger run and/or workout.
There are many more tips that are covered for the entire day like rest, nutrition and even caffeine...but you'll have to find your own edition to scan over...go to the June 2015 issue and flip to page 56. Great read!

- No inspirational quote to wrap up this week. I just want to encourage you to slow down, put down your device and live fully. Living a rat race? Slow down and trim the fat...cut some things out, put up some boundaries in your life...say "no" to things. As Mother's Day wrapped up yesterday, I told my wife that gone are days of Hallmark cards (my daughter recently got a $7 birthday card...SEVEN dollars!!!) and flowers that die in a day. Memories, handwritten notes, and walks in the petals. Yea... On Saturday at the Gardens, there was one surreal moment that could've been in the next love story. White petals were slowly floating to the ground from a nearby flowering tree and resting in the tall green grass. It was beautiful as we walked by, hand in hand, and just breathed in the aroma of what surrounded us. If we don't make time, we'll never have's a true fact! So make time, friends...tomorrow has no guarantee!

Walking in Petals

Monday, May 4, 2015

M-Cubed for 5.4.2015

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

- Let me be the first to tell you: "May the 4th be with you!" Oh's Star Wars Day! (insert eye roll from some of you.) Go celebrate by watching a trailer for the upcoming Episode 7 this Christmas or even better, watch one of the first 6 episodes. :)

- Ahhh, the sweet aroma of pear trees. They are in full bloom in our neighborhood and we have two in our front yard. With the breezes this weekend, they smelled so good...especially in the morning as the sun was rising. Soon, those white blooms will be gone and the green will prevail.

- I saw three movies over the past week. The first was on Thursday when I took some time off with my bride and enjoyed lunch at Aladdin's Eatery and saw the new "The Age of Adaline." Really, really good date movie, no doubt. It's rated PG-13 but I have no idea why. In my opinion, it was barely PG. It's best you check out the trailer to get an idea about it but if you're looking for a date movie, this is a great choice. 3 1/2 stars. The second movie was a matinee showing of Avengers: Age of Ultron on Saturday. Critics are on both ends of the spectrum on this one. For me, I liked it as did my family who went with me. It's got a LOT of stuff going on in that movie and the business student in me chuckled at all the product placements like Under Armour, Pepsi, Beats headphones, Samsung and Audi...lots of Audi. The one objection I have (without ruining it for you) is a line that a new character says near the end..."I am...I am." Basically, this is right out of the Bible and something Jesus said. Flat out sacrilegious and unnecessary given the story line. No need to imply that character is God incarnate. It felt more like a jab from the writer/producer rather than fit in the movie. Other than that, we loved it. Bonus: if you're a fan of The Blacklist and James Spader, you'll really enjoy the voice of Ultron and his mannerisms...almost like Raymond Reddington! 3 stars. The last movie was a date nite at home Saturday night and we watched the Golden Globe Picture of the Year..."Boyhood." This is the movie that was literally filmed over 10 years as the actors, most namely the boy and his sister, aged. It's a great story to show life of a kid over 10 years in a volatile environment but overall, I'd give it a "meh." Not Oscar or Golden Globes worthy, in my opinion. There were a lot of great movies in the running this year for the prize that beat this out. Dang long at 2hrs, 41min as well. 2 stars.

- This past week has been a great recovery week after last Sunday's Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon. I didn't miss any CrossFit all week and don't regret that at all. It was a GREAT week at CrossFit that ended perfect with a WOD made for me...or at least it seemed. I've been working hard on pull-ups and this one had 40 of them on Friday. It also had more running than any other WOD I've seen in my 6 months there. The burner was the 40 overhead walking lunges with a 45lb bumper plate locked out over my head...holy quads! (The WOD is at right) Before that, we went heavy on back squats, of my favorite lifts. I took it up to 210lbs for that. GREAT workout. All week was great with some tough days in there but this workout was my favorite. Today marks the last day of Week 26, too. 6 months! We began on November 4, 2014. WOO HOO! "Pass the Kool-Aid..." Oh yea, 3 weeks until Murph...

- I have owned a foam roller for years...and rarely used it. Now I use it multiple times a day. If you're unfamiliar with what one is, it's pretty basic. It's a cylinder of foam...hard to the touch but when rolled across your body parts, has some give to it as it rolls out your muscles and the kinks inside them. There is one common roll I do the majority of the time and more than any other and when I read this article, I had to share it. The first role is precisely what I do. I never did the 2nd roll before but am now. The very simple foam roller is an incredible tool to own and use. Highly recommend! Amazon is a great place to pick one up or at Vertical Runner in Hudson, Brecksville, or Wooster.

- On Saturday, there was a 5K race happening two miles from my house and since I've been wanting to test myself and see what I could do in a very short distance, I signed up. It was dubbed the Future Military Physicians 5K and held at NEOMED (Northeast Ohio Medical University), completely within the confines of campus. My only concern was the hill out back that I've run down many times. Well, they chose to go up that hill...twice. I entered the race with my primary goal to shoot for the 20min barrier...a healthy 6:24 pace. I had no idea if I could even get close. My "B" goal was 21min that equates to a 6:45 pace. I knew the field would be small and would be comprised of mostly young mid-20s, medical students. I was correct. It had 71 runners registered and I was easily one of the oldest runners there. At the 1 mile point, I crossed it in 6:23. "Oh boy," I thought. "I'm dead on a 20min finish pace and I don't know if I can hold this." As I passed by the start and waved to my wife who caught this photo, the front pack of 6 runners thinned to a few of us. I wasn't leading but I was in the top 3. As I passed mile 2 just as I started the hill for the 2nd time, I passed it at a flat 13min...meaning I lost 4 seconds in the 2nd mile. The 20min finish is in my reach but can I hold? Up the hill I went and the runner leading cramped up in front of me which put me in a solid 2nd place. I gave it all I had and tried to keep up with the leader but he just kept putting seconds on me. As I neared the finish and my wife cheered me on, the finishing clock came into was ticking slowly towards 20:00....19:50, 19:51, 19:52....I was running with all I had!!! The 20:00 clicked over as I lunged for the finish. Final Time: 20:01! Good grief! Well, while that's just plain comical, I was thrilled with that finish. That's a 6:26 average pace and the fastest I've run since 2007...and with no speed work for this kind of race. Plus, I'm 42 and racing against 20-somethings! Dang, this CrossFit is really hurting me, isn't it?! hehe....thrilled to finish 2nd overall! Hardware for me! Cherry on top = the race was raising money for the Wounded Warrior organization and it met it's goal! Way to go!

- It was a glorious day yesterday...upper 70s and sun. Perfect day to mow the yard sans shirt and take my time. Afterwards, the inevitable me laying on my back in the driveway cleaning the bottom of my John Deere while it's up on ramps. While down there, I heard the thumping of a chinook helicopter from the nearby arsenal where Army soldiers drill over the weekend...a very recognizable sound. I looked up to find the helicopter in the sky and saw this...Old Glory gently blowing in the breeze under beautiful, sunny skies. As I like to say, those chinooks are the "sound of freedom" flying overhead. Well, it was just one of those moments as I thought that and saw this over me. I am always flooded with emotion when I gaze upon Old means so much to me. That's a great coffee shop conversation for another day. This photo is totally untouched and unfiltered, by the way...just beautiful.

Have a great week, everyone...and be nice to people! Seriously...all this rage in Baltimore is sick...just be...HUMAN! :)