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.