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 on...so 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. Yes...you 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 2015...it's about time to say goodbye. Not a bad year at all.