Saturday, May 31, 2008

Beth's Black Bear Big Breakthrough

Well, I tried to think about how many "B" words I could put in the title. Beth is competing in the Black Bear triathlon which is in Lehighton, PA which is near Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre, and Allentown if you know the northeaster PA landscape.

We had a good trip out on Friday night and ate at a
Hoss's in DuBois. Before we moved to our house, the apartment we stayed in was walking distance from a Hoss's. We haven't been to one in a while, so I was loving life. I got the sliced steak sandwich, but the real reason we go is the "salad" bar. There's a whole lot more than just salad. Great bread (garlic, while, cinnamon w/ icing), jello, fruit (strawberries, peaches, and melons), nacho chips, and then MANY desserts.

For dessert, I had a mug with a cookie at the bottom, vanilla ice cream, a brownie on top, peanut butter and chocolate toppings, crushed oreo toppings, sprinkles and chocolate chip toppings, and whipped cream. It was amazing!!!

Fortunately today I had a chance to do some exercising. Today we went over and scoped out the course. While Beth was doing a 45 minute ride, I ran the run course. It's 3.5 miles and looks like a fair course. Beth likened it back to her cross country days with the dirt/stone paths, a grass hill, and trip through the woods.

Then, Beth had to do a swim. Since I'm doing my first triathlon on July 12th, I figured it would probably be a good thing to experience open water swimming. My first chance was GOING to be in the Tampa Bay with Beth while we were down at St. Petersburg for her race at St. Anthony's, but SOMEONE forgot both swimsuit AND goggles back at the hotel. This wasn't chicken-ing out or anything--I was kicking myself the rest of the day for being so dumb. I even remembered to take a towel, how do I forget the goggles and swim trunks?!?!?!

Anyway, today was the day. It was a little chilly in the water and I don't own a wetsuit. Beth estimated the water to be in the mid to upper 60's. Once I got in, though, it wasn't too bad. I stayed in the roped in area and swam back and forth in about 4-5 ft water. It was a good experience with sighting and going straight.

Well, Beth's big race is in the morning. She's hoping to be the top PA finisher so she can compete in the Best of the US race in Phoenix in October. My aunt lives in Phoenix, so it would make for a fun trip as my mom & dad may go, too.

Time to get back to the Pens who are tied 1-1 in the 2nd period and the Buccos who (amazingly) lead St. Louis 13-1!!! This (hopefully if they win) will put them back to 3 games under. If they could only get on a hot streak. Unfortunately, their starting pitching isn't consistent enough to do that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mission Accomplished - 18:08

Well, my Kevin Gatons Memorial Day Run was a success. I followed my game plan to a "T" and it paid off. I went out with some people who I knew would be around that 5:30 first mile split and I came through in 5:35. So far, so good, I thought.

Next, came the bigger challenge because there was a big hill around mile 1.5 to get up to mile 2. So, I pushed up that and came through mile 2 at 11:31 (5:56 split for mile 2). From there, I just had to convince myself to continue to push through the last mile. I was able to and ended up crossing the line at 18:08, so I split around a 5:55 for the last mile also. I wanted to finish under 18:30 and I did. I knew that if I didn't fall apart from going out in 5:35 I would be in good shape for faster, but I just didn't know how my body would react. Just for documentation sake, my fastest high school 5K was 18:00 and my fastest road race is 18:07. So, I think I'm in pretty good shape (that and I think I could have pushed myself a little harder in high school).

It was fun having Beth and Roxy the dog and my cousin and uncle and several guys from the high school team there. It was a nice time. Then, we were over at my parent's house for Memorial Day lunch (and afternoon nap). Now we're home and I need to get some grading done and Beth still has a bike ride to do.

In other news, the Pirates have managed to be scrappy again and win two extra inning games thanks to total team efforts. They are now two games under 0.500 and five games out of 1st place. I still think the smart thing to do is to trade Bay and/or Nady and Grabow and/or Marte to get some prospects to stockpile the AAA and AA teams. But, we'll see. It's off to Cincinnati next and they're coming off of an 18 inning game where they had to use a few of their starters in relief. Hopefully they'll be weary against the Buccos. Also, Jack Wilson's going to be back in the lineup. That will help shore up the infield defense and help the offense (other than Luis Rivas' TWO home runs over the weekend).

Now that track's over, I'm not going to know what to do when the final bell rings at 3:03 tomorrow. Actually, I have a lot of planning for the final few weeks of school to finish up and then go from there. Finally, Route 28 has both lanes open, so my commute home will be more like 40-45 minutes instead of 60-75 minutes!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Let's Go Pens!!

Not too much to write home about, but figured I'd sneak one in here.

I was at the state track meet on Friday and saw some pretty impressive performances. Our school didn't have anybody qualify for the finals on Saturday other than a 2-miler (but no trials for that). I'll have to check with the coaches who have been there for 25-30 years, but I bet this hasn't happened too often. I guess that's a testament to the program.

Highlights from the meet include Chanelle Price running a 2:02 today (faster than my PR), the North Penn boys 4x800 relay going 7:38, and a little school near where we live (Springdale) having a 4x400 girls team run 3:58 and finish 3rd in the small school classification.

The Penguins start their Stanley Cup final tonight in Detroit. That should be exciting. I remember how great it was when I was in high school and the Pens won back to back cups in 91 & 92 and the Pirates went to the playoffs 1990-1992. Ah, those were the days. I thought sports teams were always that good. But, alas, the Pirates haven't had a meaningful game after July since 1997.

Beth's parents are coming up for the weekend and we're meeting in Uniontown (where her grandparents live). Beth's birthday is Tuesday (don't worry, I already took care of it), so we'll be celebrating that. Monday's the big Memorial Day 5K. I did some swimming Friday and this morning and I'll do a light 30 minute run & striders tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. 18:30's the goal.

Well, off to do some cleaning and watching the Pirates and Pens.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pizza Pizza

Good News!!!

Upon returning from my track workout, I discovered that there is now a Little Caesar's Pizza located in our plaza. Now, Beth and I are big pizza fans. One of my proud moments (other than my fence hurdling on Sunday) was finishing a whole pizza in the hotel room while Beth was at a triathlon clinic in Chicago. I'm sure we'll have some good stories about pizza from Little Caesar's.

As far as the workouts, I'm gearing up for Monday's 5k. I'm looking forward to a good race and hoping to crack 18:30. Last week, I did five 800's at 2:45 pace. On Monday, I did four 400's at 70 seconds with the 2 mile kid from my school going to states. He's ranked pretty high and hope he finishes his senior season strong.

So, today I wanted to do some actual miles at 5:30 pace. I did two of them with a 3:00 rest in between. I was a little worried since it was a little cool (50 degrees) and windy, but I figured I'd try. Mile 1 was 5:26. I went out a little too hot on the first 200 and then after that I was right on pace the rest of the way. After the break, I did a 5:39. I could feel that I was starting to tire a little but wanted to finish strong. Good enough....especially after a swim workout this morning and the wind and cool temps.

As far as the swim workout, I did a 1200 today and ended up doing 2:03/100 yd pace. Good for me. Yesterday I swam 6x200 Relative to Beth (who regards herself as a mediocre triathlon swimmer) what does that make me?!?!?!? I know I'll be sticking to softball and running and not looking to get my triathlon pro card.

Well, off to watch the Pirates and see if they can come back from a 3-1 deficit.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Great Weekend in Columbia

Well, we just got back from Beth's Olympic Distance Race at the Columbia Triathlon. She did great!!! She took almost 4 minutes off of her time from last year when she was the top amateur. Unfortunately, she ended up 2nd this year by 19 seconds. But, all in all, a good day. You can read more about Beth's results as she posts her own race report on her blog.

My personal highlight of the day was the result of my usual running around cheering Beth on and letting her know where she stood relative to the others in the race. To be up front, I love running around because I think I would get really bored if I just sat in one place for the entire 2-plus hours. Anway, Beth got out of the water and I let her know her place and time behind the leader. Then, I had the idea to run up to the top of the transition to see her leaving on the bike. No problem so far.

But, then I got the crazy idea to then run up through the parking lot (grass field) of cars to catch her as she was leaving to go out on the main road. However, as I'm sprinting through the field, I notice that there is a fence in my way. (See photo of the fence taken after the race).

As you can see, it was pretty high as it came up to almost my hip (about 3 feet). I had a full head of steam coming flying through the field and had to make a decision.

What to do?

1) Do I stop and just cheer from there? It's only about 10 yards from the road (see picture)
2) Do I slow down and crawl over it since it's kind of high?
3) Do I make like a gymnast on the pommel horse and vault over it?
4) Or, do I go full speed ahead and **hope** to make it over so I can cheer on Beth from right beside the road.

Well, in the heat of the moment, people don't tend to make the most rational decisions. So, of course, what do I do? I hurdle it! (see reenactment of event below) And, I made it! I cheered on Beth and then, slowly crawled back over the fence in a more sane manner to catch up with my mom and sister.

At this point, I didn't think too much of it--you know, you just do stuff with a little bit of adrenaline during the heat of the battle. But, afterwards, one of the people that finished near Beth named Maija (we loved your cute dogs Frito and Cooper!!) was talking to Beth and I after the race. She suddenly realizes why she recognizes me and says something to the effect of, "Hey I saw you jump that fence. That was crazy!!"

Then, Beth chimes in with a similar comment and we all got a good laugh out of my questionable reasoning of jumping a fence. If I had to do it 10 times, I bet I only would have cleared it six or seven. But, you know what? I cleared it the time it counted!!! Who says I'm not a solid jumping coach during the track season? Heck with the distance running, maybe I should go out and work on my slam dunks! (Don't forget I'm only 5'10")

Other highlights include our friend Eric Limkemann finishing as the 5th pro, Beth having a chance to meet and get a photo with her favorite pro triathlete Desiree Ficker, and also getting a chance to hang out with my mom, sis, and brother in law.

In other news, the Penguins are going to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1992 and the Pirates have made it to one game under 0.500 four times since Monday. Of course they then promptly go out and lose the next game each time, including today. At least today, they only lost 4-3. Every other time this week, they got blown out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back on Track

Well, with track season winding down, my training has certainly taken an upswing. Here's a summary:


Beth had a morning ride and Roxy the dog is still on the DL (we're going to try to walk her for the first time in a week tomorrow). So, I decided to head over to the track and do some 800 repeats. As I'm running over, I was debating what pace to go at (I don't really have a true training "plan" most of the time). So, here goes my reasoning for my pace--I'm getting ready for the Gatons 5K on Memorial Day. Last year I ran 18:56 on some very mediocre training (as outlined by Beth). I figure that I've been better about running in the mornings and I've been swimming twice a week for most weeks, so I *should* be in better shape.

I think it would be neat to get down below 18:30 and I envision this coming in the form of miles like the following:

Mile 1 - 5:30 (flat & fast went out in 5:47 last year)
Mile 2 - 6:00
Mile 3 - hold on and do a 6:20-ish
Mile 3.1 - another 30 or so seconds.

We'll see how it works.....anyway, back to my pacing I figured I'd go at 5:30/mile pace (2:45 800's). And, it turned out pretty well - 2:40, 2:43, 2:45, 2:45, 2:44 with 2:00 slow jog rest in between each one.

Then, after church and lunch, Beth had a pool workout and I joined her and focused on 100's and 50's because I've felt sluggish in the pool lately doing longer stuff--trying to stimulate the arms to go faster. And faster they went. I PR'ed in the 50 with a (don't laugh) 45 second finish and PR'ed in the 100 with a 1:38. So, not too bad.


30 minute run with Beth before school with afternoon track practice (now as the assistant distance coach instead of the jumping coach). The 800 guys were doing four 400's at race pace (aka around 60-64). I just laughed and told them that I'd join them for their road loop after the quarters. I don't know the last time I ran a 64 and I don't think a day when the weather was in the 50's was a good time to try.


4 miles on the road with the guys. They're tapering for Thursday's big district final. We'll see if they can qualify for the state meet.

So, I'm on the path towards hopefully reaching my goal of 18:30 or less at the 5k. We'll see. Also, less than two months until my triathlon debut (July 12).


In the midst of this crazy end to the track season, the Pirates snuck a 6 game winning streak on me. The pitchers finally pitched half-decent. They were one game under 0.500 going into game 2 of the double header Monday night, but it wasn't to be. They lost and are 2 games under and heading to St. Louis and Chicago. So, this will set the tone for the rest of the summer. Let's just say I'm not holding my breath.


Finally, last night was the girls track banquet. The boys and girls programs are separate programs where I teach/coach. But, being the jumping coach I interact with both. This can be good in some cases (double banquets & food & getting out of afternoon classes for meets) and bad in others (extra nights when I don't get home until 9 or 10pm, always waiting for one or the other to come over & practice from sprints, reporting to two bosses, ...). It was a great time. There was a great video compiled and edited by one of the seniors. It was an amazing piece of work with audio, fading in & out, and graphics. I'll have to see if they put it on Youtube. And, it was sad/happy seeing some of the seniors. One of the senior jumpers was a true leader and helped me out a lot of the last two years since I didn't always know what to do (again, I'm coming from a distance running background, not jumping!!!).

So, off to watch and see if the Pens can go up 3-0 and if the Pirates can start a new streak.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Roxy on the Mend

Now that Roxy the dog has some pain meds in her system, she's flying high! But, seriously, Roxy is doing a lot better. She gets up the steps and on to the bed fine. I try to corral her to carry her up steps or on the bed, but a lot of times she thinks I want to play games and starts running around like a mad dog (kind of counter-productive).

Training-wise, I'm "treadding water" in a sense until track's over. Since I didn't have any jumpers qualify for the district finals I now shift to an assistant distance coach meaning I get to run with the guys. This would be good except for two facts:

1) The only running I've done since March is hour-plus long runs and an occasional track workout with Beth. Not very consisten.

2) And MOST importantly, the only guys left are the ones who have qualified for the district finals.....this means they're FAST. I ran today with a guy who runs a 2:04 800 for a 40 minute easy run....stress the EASY.

My next race is the Gatons Memorial Day 5K, a race in honor of one of Beth's former High School coaches who tragically passed away at the state XC meet in '06. Check out the link to find out more. S0, I've still got a few weeks to get ready. Last year, I was in a similar situation and ran 18:59. This year, I've definitely done a little more in the mornings before school in swimming with Beth and the occassional run. So, maybe I can get down to 18:30 or so. We'll see....

We went out with my parents tonight to celebrate Mother's Day. It was nice to just have the four of us with a chance to talk. Usually, at bigger family parties you don't get the chance to just sit down and talk. My mom's going to join Beth and I for Beth's Columbia Triathlon (she's the defending elite amateur champ!!!). Mom's coming partly to see Beth race and partly to see my sister who lives in nearby Frederick.

Well, time for us to get some cleaning done and get ready for Sunday church.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dog on the DL

Well, Roxy the dog has gone and injured herself. We're not exactly sure how, but she did. She was fine on our 8 mile run Sunday (no biggie because she's been up to 15 miles). She was fine when I walked her Monday before school and after dinner. But, we go to lay down with the pup to watch our favorite TV show (The Big Bang Theory Mondays at 8pm on CBS) and she's whimpering and limping around.

We decide to give it a day, but then on Wednesday Beth took her to the vet (read more on that on her blog here and here). Since Roxy has been on the pain meds, she's been flying high. It doesn't seem to be hurting her as much. We're still carrying her up the steps and not taking her on walks for the rest of the week.

Track's winding down. We had tons of people qualify for the district finals. Unfortunately, no jumpers. On the guys' side, the long jumpers focused on the 4x100 and 4x400. Two could have qualified with room to spare with their PR's. On the girls' side, had our LJ PR'ed, she would have made it, but she didn't. But, the senior came up big and PR'ed in the TJ. She fell short of qualifying, but it was so sweet for her to finish her high school career with a PR and ending up on our school's "Top 25." We'll see how many people can qualify from our district to the state track meet.

The Pirates just finished sweeping the SF Giants today. Boy, the Giants are BAD. The Pirates offense has looked great, but is it the Giants or are they coming around? We'll see what happens over the weekend with the Braves coming to town.

Beth's next big race is next weekend in Columbia. I'll see if I can get around to writing my spectator race report from St. Anthony's some time this week before that.

So, that's about it. Time for bed since I'm heading to the pool for a workout tomorrow morning early!!!

Monday, May 5, 2008

What day is it?

Wow, what a whirlwind since my last post in the Pittsburgh airport!

Beth did AWESOME down at St. Anthony's which you can read about here and here. She was the 7th elite amateur to cross the line. It was a super trip. I had a great time seeing some of Beth's triathlon blogger friends like Jen Harrison and Bree Wee. I had this great blog entry written in my head about my perspective as a fan along the course, but I'll spare you of it. I'll just say that I ended up running 6 or 7 miles that day. Also, just beautiful weather in the St. Pete area--we didn't want to go home.

Track has been crazy, but fun. I had meets Wed 4/30, Fri 5/2, Sat 5/3 and another tomorrow!!! But, it's been a fun stretch. We're winding down, but it's been a great run. We'll see if any of the jumpers can squeak through and qualify for the district finals.

The Pirates are the Pirates. They've made some bold moves recently, though. They've cut Matt Morris and ate his $10 million guaranteed money and brought up former #1 pick John Van Benschoten. They've given up on their Rule 5 draft pick Evan Meet and called up the phenomenal Sean Burnett. So, I think they've got the month of May to prove to management that these best 25 players are good enough to contend. If they don't (which I don't think will happen), it will then be time to start looking towards the future. Trade Nady & Bay and bring up Pearce & McCutcheon. Trade Marte and bring up Salas. Bring in PROSPECTS!!!! We'll see what happens.

So, hopefully, I'll finally get back on track with blogging now that track is winding down as I'm a little over 2 months away from my first career triathlon.