Sunday, June 29, 2008

All You Can Eat Seats Aftermath

Well, I made it back from the game. The highlights are the Pirates lost 4-3. X-Nady threw a ball from right field way past third when he didn't have a shot of getting the guy. This allowed two runs to score in the 8th and put the Rays up 4-2. The Buccos got one back in the bottom of the 8th with a clutch pinch hit by Ryan Doumit, but that's how it ended.

Also, the game ended just in time because about an hour later, there was a tornado warning around the Pittsburgh area. The final stage of the Tour of Pennsylvania U-25 cycling race (similar style to the Tour de France) was going on downtown and they had to pause the race right in the middle because of the warning. There was a little damage just south/southeast of downtown, but nothing major was reported and no tornado.

Okay, now to the main story. I went to the game today with my dad as a birthday present from Beth in the "All You Can Eat Seats." I have to say, it is a pretty good deal, but I don't recommend going for a night game when you've already had breakfast and lunch.

Going to an afternoon game allowed me to spread out the food over the lunch/dinner time period. You get in there and get your AYCE bracelet from a specific booth and go to the AYCE designated concession stand right by our seats (section 147 by the right field foul pole--above the scoreboard). You're allowed 4 items per trip and, of course, UNLIMITED trips. The food's just pretty much sitting out, so you show them your wrist band and grab four things. So, with all the swim/bike/run workouts yesterday at Moraine and a 15 mile run this morning under my belt, I went to get my money's worth ($35 for the seat and food).

Here's the damage:

Trip 1 (before we even sat in our seats)
1 Hamburger with ketchup
1 Hot Dog with ketchup
1 Tray of Nachos & Cheese
1 Iced Tea (I thought it was really flat pop, but glad to realize it was iced tea)

Trip 2 (After the 3rd inning)
1 Hamburger (used the leftover Nacho cheese to make it a cheeseburger)
1 Hot Dog with Ketchup
1 Pepsi

Trip 3 (Around the 5th inning? Things started to get fuzzy from this point on--food coma)
1 Hamburger with Ketchup
1 Ice Cream sandwich that was very soft so I had to eat it right away before returning to my seat

Trip 4 (6th inning-ish)
1 salad with Italian dressing (I can't believe they had something healthy!)
1 very soft ice cream sandwich that again had to be eaten immediately
1 Diet Pepsi

Trip 5 (8th inning)
1 more ice cream, but this time a little vanilla ice cream cup because they ran out of soggy sandwiches
1 Diet Pepsi

Total Carnage and estimated cost:
3 Hamburgers x $4 = $12
2 Hot Dogs x $3 = $6
1 Nacho x $4 = $4
1 Salad x $4 = $4
3 Ice Creams x $3 = $9
4 Pops (Soda for the non-Western PA folk) x $3 = $12
Total $47....remember that the seat cost $35

....and I didn't pay for parking because I parked about a mile away on the Riverfront Trail near the Heinz Plant (I sure needed that walk after the game). The Pirates definitely lost money on me today.

Also, perhaps I can ask my lovely dietitian wife about how many Calories I went through at the ball yard today! This is definitely a maximum once a year thing, but pretty neat.

Wow. As I've hinted at above, this is definitely something I DO NOT RECOMMEND doing weekly. Although, there were certainly a few people in the section who looked like they did do it weekly....including the older dude beside me who didn't really fit in his seat and we were touching legs since he was in "my space." His comment was "These seats are for Japs." To which I responded in my head, "Dude, first of all that was racist. Secondly, I sure fit fine in this seat. My dad sure fits fine in his seat. Finally, lose a few pounds and you'll fit in that seat better." But, I just kept it all in my head because my mouth was too busy eating.....I'm glad he left after the 6th inning.

So, that's my story and now we're going to try to get Beth all packed up tonight. It's her LEAST favorite thing. I like packing and it's a fun and non-stressful event for me, so I try to lend a hand to her.

Have a good night and good luck to Jen Harrison's Chicago Cubbies to avoid the sweep at the hands of the South Siders. (They were unlucky yesterday with Quentin's homerun. Marmol's usually automatic)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Deep Water

This blog may come off more as a psychiatrist session, but here it goes.

It all started back in first or second grade when, after only two sessions, I didn't want to continue with a swimming camp the high school pool. My parents, nice folk that they are, didn't make me go back. So, I had never been in water deeper than a backyard swimming pool (4 ft or so) nor had waded deeper in a lake or an ocean deeper than my head.

Fast forward to 9th grade gym class. I was having a great year with volleyball and basketball and the sorts when we got the 9 weeks for swimming. Uh oh, what about the deep end of the pool? I was pretty nervous, but do I ask to get out of swimming because I was scared of the deep end? Do I risk the embarrassment at the high school for the next few years that I'm the sissy who wouldn't go in the deep end? No, so I treaded the water and swam in the deep end for the first time. It wasn't pretty and my heart was beating a million times a minute, but I did it.

Fast forward to being around Beth. In college, when she was injured, she would to the pool and aqua jog--in the deep water. Oh no! Do I admit to her that I'm not comfortable in the deep water? No, I go in and aqua jog with her, but hang really close to the edge of the pool so that I can grab on if I get in to any trouble.

I started swimming with Beth this past fall in the mornings at the YMCA and had overcome most of my pool issues. I'm now swimming laps comfortably (yet slow) for the past few months. So, now that I may begin to try some triathlons, I need to get comfortable in open water. Uh oh--swimming for 10-30 minutes in water where I can't touch the ground? Sounds scary.

I began the new "therapy" program back in May when Beth was competing at the Black Bear Triathlon. The day before the race, I got in the lake with her and swam some "laps" in the roped off area in about 5-6ft of water. Not a big accomplishment, but a start to getting the feel for swimming in a lake.

Today, I took my big step forward. Beth had a 1 mile swimming race at Moraine State Park today and I used the opportunity during warm-up time to get in a little swimming since this is the same lake I'll be competing in for my first triathlon in two weeks. So, out I go into the water, my heart is beating and I'm breathing fast as I get into deeper water, sighting the first buoy 400 yd from the shore. I get out a little further and then start to get nervous, so I turn back and swim to the shore. Total elapsed time--2 or 3 minutes. Not too impressive if I'm going to do triathlons.

Okay, I got the feel for it, time to do it again and try to get out a little further. I do it and am out there for 4 or 5 minutes returning to the shore. I then am feeling a little better and go out for a third time, get beyond the lillipads (about 20 yds out) and tell myself to get into a rhythm and counted off 40 strokes with my left arm. There we go--I did it!! Total time on the third foray about 5 or 6 minutes. So, I feel a little better about heading into the "uncharted waters" for my first triathlon in two weeks.

After the swim, Beth had a 3.5 hour bike ride, so I needed to kill time. Again since it was at the site of my upcoming race, I decided to do some "advanced scouting" as they say in the baseball business. I started out riding out towards the exit of the park with Beth and then turned around and focused my efforts on the layout of the course. I rode hard and tried to think how I wanted to attack the rolling hills with my gears. I came back to meet Beth and Kim (who had done the 2 mile swim in the morning race) and they were going to head out on a 2.5 hour ride (Beth had done an hour while Kim was finishing the race).

They leave and I get back to my scouting. I rode the course a second time, but much easier since I had already put an hour in on the bike. Then, I got off the bike and did a quick transition and went busting out to run the run course. I went 10 minutes hard, 10 minutes jogging and finished with 10 minutes hard. I have a good feel now of what parts to attack as I'm finishing the race.

So, in summary, here's the workouts for the day:
Approx. 15 minutes of open water swimming
1.5 hr of biking
30 minute run
15 minutes of swimming at the north shore beach inside the ropes (had more time to kill for Beth to get back)
20 minute nap in the car (still waiting for Beth to get back)
30 minute run with Beth
3pm lunch at Panera Bread.

In other news, Beth's birthday gift to me was tickets to tomorrow's Pirates game against the Tampa Bay Rays. The seats are in the "All You Can Eat" Section, and I'm looking forward to getting back some of those Calories lost today with all the training. I'm just hoping for good weather. I think it's rained here every day this week and they're calling for more rain tomorrow. But, you can still eat even if it's wet out, right? Maybe the game will get started, but get rained out in the 3rd or 4th inning, so I'll get to turn in my tickets for a future game of all you can eat seats as well. That's almost like double dipping! Oh boy, I can taste the hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, peanuts, ice cream sandwiches, and coke already. I can't wait!!!!

I'll give some details about the seats and the state of the Pirates over the next week.

Finally, it's going to be an interesting week for me as I'll be flying solo. On Monday, Beth's heading to Chicago to train with a few other of her triathlon blogging friends Elizabeth, Ness, and Jen Harrison. It should be a good experience for her. Roxy the dog and I will have to hold down the fort in the mean time. I may go with my dad up to DuBois, PA to Treasure Lake where my grandparents built a true log cabin. It's a pretty neat site. The grandparents lived in it for about 10-15 years, but moved back home about two years ago since they were getting older and it was so far away from everyone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Week 1 of Math in Sports Camp Done

Week 1 of "Math in Sports" camp was a success. It was my first foray into a summer elementary enrichment program in my school district. I had fun with it and I get to do it for two more weeks with new sets of kids. It's a decent gig since its Mon-Thu 9-noon. The "camp" involves two of my favorite subjects--Math and Sports. We looked at various topics in many sports including:

Football - Formations, How to add up positive and negative yards, angles formed when running routes, and of course playing football

Baseball - The kids drafted fantasy teams of two hitters and one pitcher that they could change each day. We added up the points to start out each day. We calculated batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, ERA and WHIP. We played some whiffle ball and we talked about the best angle to throw a softball to get maximum distance.

Basketball - We talked about formations on defense (zone vs man) and offense (2 guards/3 forwards or the other). We calculated free throw percentage and compared the kids' shooting against Shaquille O'Neal's.

Track - Running in lane 1 vs the outer lanes. 40 yd dash times. Converting the 40 yd dash time to miles per hour.

I've also been picking up the training this week:

Tuesday -Easy 30 min run with Roxy the dog and softball at night. We won 6-4. I pitched three innings and gave up two runs I went 1 for 3 with a walk and two RBI's and a run scored.

Wednesday - 8x400m @80 seconds w/ half rest with Beth (that was rough!!!). In the afternoon we went to the pool and I did 8 x 200yd on 5:00. I then ran home from the YMCA (just under two miles) and calculated it to be 6:32 mile pace.

Today - Pool in the morning. I did 10X100yd on 2:30. This afternoon 13 mile bike ride. I averaged over 15 mi/hr.

The one bad news from the week is that we thought Roxy was healthy after resting up and only doing short walks. Like I said, we went really easy. But, yesterday she was limping a little and today she's limping even more. We're going to give it a coupe of days to see if the limp goes away. But, if not, it's back to the vet. And, looks like no more running for a LONG time. We can't keep hurting her like this. It's such a shame because we don't know what's exactly causing it. It just randomly started after a run earlier this year. She used to do 15 miles with Beth and I and Roxy was the only one not tired. I just hope that she can get back to not limping. We'll keep you posted....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Next time, bring a bike

Beth had yet another successful triathlon yesterday as she finished as the second amateur. She really rocked it and it was fun to watch. You can read about it more in her blog.

For me, the concerns I had about getting to the swim start and back came to fruition. I was able to take the bus over, so that was half the battle. But, I ended up carring a pretty heavy transition bag/backpack the 2.5 miles back to the transition area. Now I know how military soldiers feel marching with those heavy bags. But, it was worth it because I helped ease the stress on not only Beth, but also fellow friends Kim and Maija. But, I noticed that several "cherpas" had ridden over on bikes and I think I'll definitely do that next year. It will give me the chance to be much more mobile and see more of the course. On my run back, I timed it so that I was on this bridge overlooking the start of the swim, so I had a really neat perspective of seeing the wave take off (and had my watch started at the right time).

The trip back was pretty uneventful and went by pretty quick. Big thanks again to my parents for having Roxy the Dog over for the weekend yet again!

The other big thing from Sunday the 22nd of June was that it was our 6th wedding anniversary. I'm so lucky to be with such an awesome gal that puts up with all of my silliness and shortcomings. We always say to each other that we make such a good team and we compliment each other in so many ways. Here's hoping to many, many more anniversaries.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Well, Beth's got her triathlon in Philly in the morning. She's turned in already and I'm getting ready to soon. It's just tough to go to bed at 9pm. The wake up call is set for 4am. That's about the only bad thing about these triathlons--the early race day wake up.

Today, we had a pretty typical day: Eat breakfast, Beth do her bike/run pre-day routine while I scout things out and then run with her, we eat lunch, drive the course, eat dinner, and prepare things for the next morning. The one snafu was driving around Philly was TOUGH. There are a lot of one way roads, some roads were closed due to the sprint tri going on today and I don't even want to get started about that figure 8 loop by the art museum (the place Rocky ran to the top of). I think I was in the wrong lane every time there (not that some cars kept to one lane--they just weaved back and forth). Anyway, this is probably a good step up to prepare us for New York next month. I'm fearing the logistics of that one.

My preparation for race day entails figuring out where I will be on the different parts of the race. This one is posing a little bit of trouble in that the swim is down the Schuylkill River one way. There are buses shuttling up to this start (obviously 1500 m away). The problem is the transition area is on the OPPOSITE side of the river from where they are entering the water. This means that if the buses are athletes only I will have to jog over. The trouble is that there's not too many bridges to choose from. It looks like with all the winding I'll have to go about 2 or so miles to get there. That's not too bad because there's plenty of time beforehand and I don't mind getting in a little run. The trouble's going to be getting back to let her know where Beth stands coming out of the water. I'm going to have to book it back to transition to be there in time.

So, we'll see how it goes. I think Beth's going to rock the course tomorrow because the bike is rolling hills and the run is flat, so she should go pretty fast.

In other news, the Pirates won tonight....not that it matters after losing 5 of 6 on the road before coming home.

Stay tuned for Beth's blog tomorrow evening for results when we get back to the western side of the state!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Busy Bee

Well, I'm supposed to be less busy in the summer, but it's been a full week or so since I last blogged. Oops!

Beth had a great time at her camp last weekend, and I had a great time hanging out at my parent's house Friday through Sunday. It was a nice father's day gift because my sister came up from Maryland on Saturday. The four of us (dad, mom, sis, & me) went out to dinner on Saturday night and church Sunday morning. It was just like the good old days!

I got some solid 45-50 minute runs on Saturday and Sunday and reminded me of how hilly, yet nice it was to run around my house. I wish I would have been more dedicated to running in the summers and off seasons around my house. But, it's always easy to look back and wish you did more.

On Monday, I plopped down on the couch and watched the U.S. Open 18 (actually 19) hole playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate. I'm not a big golf person, I maybe go once per year, but I love watching majors on Sunday (and Monday!!) when there's a close match among the leaders, especially when it's someone like Tiger Woods. The mental challenge it poses is awesome and I love to see how the people react under the pressure. I really admire Tiger Woods and what he has accomplished just like I admired Michael Jordan and others. What made it even better was that Tiger was going up against my other favorite golfer other than Woods--Rocco!!

Why would I root for him? Well, because we're both products of Hempfield Area High School in western PA!!! So, I always check the leaderboards in tournaments over the years for Rocco. He's had a few top 10 major finishes and has won a few tournaments over the years, but it seems like his back issues always held him back. It was neat seeing all the interviews and how he was just loving the opportunity and making the most of it!

I did my second bike ride on Tuesday and went for 65 minutes and averaged 15 mi/h. That was solid. Tuesday night, I had a fastpitch softball game somehow with all the rain during the day. I was pitching and had a MISERABLE first inning. I walked a guy and hit two guys. Somehow, I ended up only giving up two runs. But, the awesome part was, that was all I gave up for the game and we won 3-2. That was satisfying to come back from that rough first inning. It also was nice to go 2 for 3 against one of the tougher pitchers.

Then, yesterday was my birthday. The big 3-1. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with where I'm at. I'm around my high school weight and cross country times. Also, I'm getting into swimming and have a WONDERFUL wife who is the best in the world. Not much to complain about.

My big present for my birthday was a new laptop. I got some Best Buy gift cards for Christmas, but really didn't find anything I wanted then. So, I asked for all Best Buy gift cards for my birthday and put them together with the old ones and got a laptop. The young Best Buy worker who waited on me was shocked that I could hold on to gift cards from Christmas. He said he would have spent them the next day!! It worked out pretty well. It's a 17" monitor and has 3GB of RAM. My big goal is to use it to watch some sports online. My current laptop doesn't meet the specs on, so this should be better. Also, it has a numberpad on the laptop. That's awesome with all the number crunching I do. Here's the picture from the best buy website of it:

This morning, I set a PR in the pool. Actually, many PR's since I split each 100. I hadn't gone long (for me, at least) in a while, so I did a mile (1650 yds) with the goal of trying to hold on to 2:00/100yd pace as long as possible. I almost did it, surpisingly. I was 28:01 through 1400 yd and ended up at 33:15 for 1650yd. I'll take it. Just over three weeks until triathlon #1. We'll see how it goes.
Hopefully I'll be writing again soon!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On the bike

Since my first ever triathlon is now only a month away, it makes sense that I should probably get on a bike for the first time in 2008. I think Beth and I did a spinning class once back in the winter, but I forget if that was December or January or February. Regardless, since a triathlon consists of swim/bike/run, I shouldn't ignore the middle third.

So, out I went this afternoon once Beth got all packed up and left for a triathlon camp in New Jersey that is hosted by her online coaching group Mark Allen Online. The course I chose is one that Beth and I did a few years back when she was first getting into triathlons and wanted to ride a bike. The loop is a HILLY 8.7 miles (I just checked it out on a mapping program) and I sure need to pick up the pace if I want to do well at my first tri. I took a little under 35:00 give or take if you factor in stopping for one red light. So, for you math majors that's just under 15 miles an hour. Then, I took this time and calculated what it would be for 7 miles (the distance of the bike in my sprint tri) and it came out to just over 28 minutes. So, feeling good that I had a good ride, I looked up the results from when Beth did it a few years ago and saw that the top people were 20-23 minute range. Hmmm.

So, what kind of people were around 28 minutes? People like a 16 year old girl who swam under 9 minutes for the 400 meter swim. People like 45-50 year old females and 60+ males. But, it was my first time out on a bike and a hilly course and a training run, so hopefully I'll be faster come race day.

Then, comes the run. I figured I'd try a brick to see what that feels like. My goal was to just go out around the neighborhood for 10-15 minutes and try to run "hard"--not race pace, but try to go pretty hard. So, I ended up doing 1.8 miles in 11:24 which comes out to about 6:25 pace. Not bad--that'll put me in a good position to run my 5k on race day.

Today was the first official day of summer vacation. Graduation was last night and now it's done. It was neat seeing some of the students last night now that I've been at the school for two years now and have been involved with xc/track. It's sad to see some of the kids go, but it's neat to look forward to next fall with xc.

Well, with Beth not around I'm going to be a little crazy and have pancakes for dinner. I'm looking forward to it and I think they're just about ready!!! Bon appetit!!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

School's out! (sort of)

Hi. My name is Oscar and I write this blog. Sorry I've been gone for the last week & a half. Now that the kiddie's last day is Tuesday, the schedule SHOULD free up for more things like blogging.

Anyway, too much time has gone past to do a day-by-day recap, but here's some of the things going on lately:

Black Bear Tri
Well, Beth ended up winning the Black Bear Triathlon and earned her spot in the Best of the US Race in Phoenix in October. That's pretty cool since my aunt lives out there. My parents may come out also. Just to throw it out there to brag a little about her, Beth won by 4 minutes and beat all but 7 guys. It was a smaller race, but that's still pretty darn impressive.

Start of Softball Season
For me, the fastpitch softball season finally got rolling. I play in a slowly dying league in Greensburg, but I still love it because it's fastpitch and I'm a small guy that likes to take advantage of the bunting and stealing. We played last Tuesday and Friday (another reason for no blogging in the evenings). Over the last four years I've started to dabble with pitching. If you're picturing those amazing gals at the Women's College World Series on ESPN, take about 20 miles/hr off the speed and a lot less movement. But, I enjoy it.

The best part about my pitching so far this year is I'm not as wild as usual. The last few years, I would average over a walk per inning. This isn't a good thing. But, so far this year, I've only walked three guys (and two were intentional) over 9 innings. I don't know if it's a matter of maturing in my mechanics or all the swimming I did this offseason (thanks Beth!), but things are clicking so far. We've got a double header tomorrow (pending the predicted thunderstorms), so we'll see what happens. I'll pitch at least one game.

My hitting is my usual punching-Judy style. I'm a skinny little distance runner, so I don't have much pop. I always tell Beth that I relate my batting game to Jason Kendall for those people who know baseball/former Pirates.

Oh yeah, speaking of the Pirates, they are only 2 games under 0.500 after beating Randy Johnson and the D-backs this afternoon. AND, the terrible Washington Nationals are coming to town before interleague play starts. I still think they need to think big picture and build for 2009-10 (aka trade Bay, Nady, Grabow, and Marte), but we'll see what happens. They're still 8 or 9 games out of 1st place.

Also, the draft took place this past week and they got their coveted left-handed power hitter in Pedro Alvarez from Vanderbilt. Hopefully they can sign him. The Pirates were also aggressive in picking some guys who wanted bigger bonuses in rounds 2, 6, and some later rounds. If the Pirates can come to an agreement with these guys, it'll be a pretty good draft.

One complaint I have is it seems that, after Alvarez, the Pirates forgot about the short right field porch they have at PNC Park. They should be drafting left-handed hitting power bats (aka lefties greater than 200 lbs) out the wazzu and hoping a couple pan out. The next lefty power bat they took wasn't until pick 864: Komstadius, Kevin. You may be able to count 6th round pick Robert Grossman but he's going to cost a lot or else he'll go to the University of Texas. Last year, they didn't take ANY left-handed power bats until the 19th round!!! Oh well.

School's Out
Oh yeah, the kid's last day of school is tomorrow. We have a clerical day Wednesday and Thursday's a day for preparing for summer school. I'm involved with a program that's not exactly summer school called the summer elementary enrichment program where it's more like a summer camp. The topic of my class is called, of course, "Math in Sports." I'm going to integrate doing calculations involved in sports with actually playing sports it should be fun. It runs for four weeks which will pretty much take me into the start of XC summer practice....which leads to the start of the next school year....but I'm not complaining because I love my schedule and feel fortunate for my flexibility in the summer. I'll also do some work this summer with Carnegie Learning, the best math software and curriculum around.

Well, I've written plenty. I'm sure more will come as the week goes on and I have a little more free time.