Saturday, August 30, 2008

We Are...Penn State, Part II

I'm a blogging fool now that it's a 3-day weekend. This is 3 posts in the last 24 hours.....

Well, pretty successful afternoon in these parts:


Last thing first, I love the never-ending refills. Today I went four rounds: penne-meat sauce, fettuccine-oregano garlic alfredo, orecelli (sp?--they look like hats)-basil something marinara, whole wheat linguni-five cheese marinara. Yummie!


-Penn State did what they needed to do against Coastal Carolina. They got everybody involved and looked solid. A bigger test will be when Oregon State comes to town next week.

-Darryl Clark looked like a solid leader (11/14 for 146 yds 1TD, 0 INT). He didn't even run at all. Devlin had nice touch, too.

-The three musketeers (or smurfs...all under 6'0") at wide receiver all had great games. Williams carried the ball and returned a KO for a TD. Butler caught 2 balls on the first drive. Norwood was clutch all day (4 for 74 & a TD). Then, the tall backups (6'3" or taller) come in and the passing game didn't miss a beat. I'm excited for Brackett, Zug, and Moye (former PIAA AA 100 & 200 champ at 6'5")

-It looks like we've got FOUR solid running backs - Royster is solid, Green is FAST, Carter is tough, and Beachum is so young but good.

-The defense was good enough, but I hope the losses of Lee and the two DT's don't cost them in tougher games. It seemed like at times they couldn't get off the field. Too many first downs given up (16). Mo Evans and Gaines look list a good pass rushing tandem.

PITT LOSES Bowling Green?

-I just have to say that the Pitt people have been yapping ALL OFFSEASON after that win against WVU last November. The radio ad to sell tickets focuses about how beating WVU shows that the "Panthers are BACK." Ha! I say. They still have had three straight losing seasons and this wasn't a good start to the fourth. Think about it, the seniors may go through their entire career without going to a bowl game. How sad.

-All winter & summer, it was, "Shady's going to win the Heisman.".....he had 23 carries for only 71 yards. "Scott McKillop is one of the top linebackers in the country since he led the nation in tackles.".....that's because Pitt's D was on the field so much and had to make so many tackles. "Pitt turned the corner with the win at WVU.".......No, it's just the Mountaineers played EXTREMELY tight when given the chance to earn a berth in the national championship game.

I know it's just one game, but it sure felt good to quiet that talk about Pitt going 9-3 or 10-2.

-By the way, attendance competition - PSU - 106,577 (sellout), Pitt - 45,063 (about 75% capacity)

We Are......Penn State

I know it's only Coastal Carolina, but I'm pumped up for a new season of PSU football and college football in general.

Here's a YouTube link to the Penn State Zombie Nation Song:

Here's a link to the We Are...Penn State Chant.

PSU has one of the best student sections in the country!

Friday, August 29, 2008

What a Week!

Wait, you mean it's Friday night already? Where did the week go? That's right, it was the first week of school...

Monday - School, XC Practice, dinner, groceries, bed
Tuesday - Run in AM, School, XC meet (we ran well), dinner, grade tests, bed
Wednesday - School, XC Practice, pizza night dinner, more grading, bed
Thursday - School, XC Practice (Mile repeats!) dinner, laundry & travel plans, bed
Friday - Swim in AM, school, XC practice, dinner, watch a movie (Dan in Real Life...pretty good) blogging.

Whew--that sums it up. Next week, Open House is on Thursday night and an invitational Saturday...I know, welcome back to the REAL world that I get a vacation from in the summer.

There were two highlights of the week training-wise:

Thursday's mile repeats went great! It was about 70 degrees and overcast with a little sprinkle. We did 4x1mile on a mostly flat loop consisting of a grassy field and a little bit on lane 6 of the middle school track. The goal was to drop 10 seconds each time--which is tough when you don't have the track to do the exact pacing per 100 meters. Anyway, here were the splits for me:

5:55, 5:48, 5:37, 5:20

(that last one might have been a PR as I was a 400/800 guy and never ran the mile competitively).

The other highlight was the swim this morning at the Downtown Pittsburgh YMCA. Our pool's still out of commission, so we were able to use this one. It was kind of scary leaving our cars (we had to drive separate since we were both going to work then in opposite directions) on these side alleys. But, everything seemed to be fine and the pool was decent. It had a walkway entrance to the building to the main desk that came in OVER the pool....kind of weird to see the shadow from the walkway above while swimming, but I got used to it. It was a 25m pool, so I wasn't too concerned about times. I did a 1500m and averaged about 2:25-2:30 per 100m.

Finally, good luck to all the HS teams playing their opening game tonight. High School football is a big thing in Western PA. Also, I don't know where the time went, but I'll have to get around to my PSU football preview one of these days. They play 1-AA Coastal Carolina tomorrow, so I hope that they execute and don't make it a close game.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Monday school, XC Meet, Altoona Curve, Olympics...

So much to catch up on....


Monday's the day the kiddies arrive at school. Monday and Tuesday were in-service days where we had meetings to get things ready. Wednesday through Friday were days to prepare the room and get the lesson plans ready for next week. Since the head XC coach is a retired teacher, he still held doubles all this week. I made most of the workouts, but had to miss some with the meetings and stuff.


The toughest workout of the week was 3x1 mile on the 1st mile of the XC course on Thursday. The kids were mentally and physically a little low after two and a half weeks of doubles....and it showed. The goal was to run around 5:40 to 5:50, however all but the first group were over 6:00 and some were almost at 7:00. Let's just say that our head coach, who is pretty old school, was not happy with this. After a little pick-me-up talk (aka chewing out), the next two miles went a little better. Personally, I had a pretty good day, albeit I was a little fresher from missing some of the workouts. I ended up going 5:52, 5:41, and 5:48.

This morning, we had our first dual meet that was actually a four-team scrimmage. Our boys looked pretty strong--perhaps that motivational talk on Thursday paid off. Our top two guys are going to be some of the tougher guys in our district. It's going to be a matter of finding three other good performances out of a group of 6 or 7 guys. The girls had a pretty good day, too. They lost some key seniors last year, so they're still figuring out who's going to be their 3-7 runners.


Beth worked it out to finish her bike ride at the cross country meet and then we went swimming up at the Butler Y. Our pool is supposed to open back up after labor day. It will be nice to go back to the 4 minute commute instead of 30. I haven't done much serious swimming in the past few weeks, but set out to do a more focused workout today since I didn't run this morning with the XC meet.

So, the goal was to do 15x100 yd on 2:30 with the goal of keeping the splits around 2:00. Like Beth was saying in recent blogs, the swimming has been getting quicker for her. At one point today, we openly discussed whether the pool was a little short, but Beth was swimming faster in other pools, too. Anyway, here were my splits:

1:50, 1:52, 1:53, 1:54, 1:52, ... some more around 1:55, ... and I finished with a 1:52. My worst one was a 1:57. Go figure!

My dad and I went up to Altoona to watch the Pirate's AA baseball team last night. The big thing I wanted to get out of it was an impression of Jose Tabata, who the Pirates got from the Yankees in the Nady-Marte can hit. He's a little small, but he sure can hit! I can see why some people have labeled him a mini-Manny Ramirez. I didn't notice any personality issues as he came on an off the field and he hustled on his one hit for a double and on defense on a ball hit in the gap. Plus, he plays center field and he's quick and had a decent arm throwing in from the wall.

That's the good news from Altoona, the bad news is that Tabata was about the only highlight. Not much else to write home about in terms of prospects:

-Pitcher Jared Hughes struggled through the first inning with 30 pitches and ended up only going into the 6th inning because of his high pitch count.
-Pat Bresnehan was a highly touted reliever, but he was only throwing in the high 80's. He did have a filthy curve ball, but major league hitters could sit on that since he's not throwing as fast.
-Two other good relievers--Belasario and Robles were hitting 95, but both gave up runs. Not dominating.
-2B Shelby Ford and 1B Jamie Romak were very feeble in their hitting--a bunch of weak ground outs.

I can't get enough of the Olympics. The men's marathon is on now and it's amazing watching them click off the 5+ minute miles. It looks like Ryan Hall is fading, but he's a pretty neat story and pretty vocal and up front with his faith. That's pretty cool.

The US Men's hoops team is in the gold medal game. They've looked like they've been on a mission since they got there.

Congrats to the US Women's soccer team on the OT gold medal win. I was able to watch it live Wednesday morning as I was setting up my room.

What happened to the 4x100 relays? They've got to get the stick around--especially in the prelims. Make sure the pass happens! Too bad for Pittsburgher Lauren Williams being involved in two Olympic baton dropping incidents.

I'm looking forward to seeing the footage of the 4x400m later tonight. That's definitely my favorite track race. Four laps, each lap just you and the other guy sprinting all out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our Dog is a Ham

Well, I think the picture says it all for Roxy the Dog. She likes to go belly-up and get the tummy rub. The funny thing is she'll turn over like this and wait for Beth or I to rub her belly but if Beth and I aren't paying attention....Roxy falls asleep like that!!! I'm still trying to get a picture of that. Beth is administering the belly rub in this picture!

We're back at school this week for in-service and clerical days. The kiddies start Monday. I mentioned to Beth how it's funny how even adults still fit into the "clicks." I've notice during the group gathering times that there's the football coaches, the young female elementary teachers (kind of like the popular cheerleaders), the lazy group, the science department, and the (REALLY COOL) math department (...okay not really). I'm sure if a workplace is big enough, most places fall into groups like this.

We've got two new math teachers this year and they seem neat. One was a runner at Duquesne, so she'll positively contribute to my attempt to organize Math department athletic endeavors. Our tentative plan for the year is as follows:

Sep 28, 2008 - The Great Race (10k or 5k)
May 3, 2009 - Pittsburgh Marathon or 1/2 Marathon
July 2009 - Butler YMCA Triathlon

We'll see how it goes. We had a good start with the 4 people in the triathlon this past summer.

First XC meet of the year this Saturday. It will be good to get the team out racing against someone wearing another team's color. Times aren't too important this time of the year, it's more about the mental exercise of racing.

Time to watch some Olympics.....I mean go to bed since it's 11:30 pm already. I need to get back into school mode!!!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Alumni 5K-ish, Sleep, & Olympics

This morning, I went back to the old high school for the 28th annual alumni cross country meet. It's kind of fun to go back and see the school and see the coaches and the kids. Now that I'm coaching in the same district, I see the coaches a few times each season. But, it's always nice to go back.

My goal for the race is pretty much the same each year (I've made it back for the last four years).....MAKE VARSITY--or finish with six or less high schoolers ahead of me. Overall place is always dependent on how many of the former Division 1 runners show up. I always know going in that I could finish anywhere from the 2nd or 3rd alumni to the 10th or 20th if everyone would REALLY show up for this. There's been construction and renovations at the high school over the last five years, so the course (not to mention location for a few years) has changed and always make the finishing time uncertain.

Last year, we were back at the high school after a two-year trip to a park in another part of the district. There is a new head coach and, with all of the renovations, he decided to change the course to make it more of a "trail run." I was all pumped last year since I had been running with the lebo guys and was figuring I'd be in the high 18's or 19's. I came across at 20:33--it was a BRUTAL course in the woods.

This year, I was at least prepared for the course and willing to accept the slow time just to find out that, due to a re-sodding of some practice fields, the course was changed again. This time, there was about 3/4 of a mile on the track between the beginning and the end and another 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile on a parking lot & sidewalk surface. So, things should be a little quicker, right? Also, the coaches were saying that they just put this course together over the last week, so it may be a little short (2.9 or 3.0 miles).

With all that said, I went out and, within the first three minutes was about where I thought I would be--behind two GREAT alumni runners and six varsity guys. After about a mile and a half, I passed one kid and settled in about 30 seconds behind two other kids. As we popped out of the woods and fields back to the parking lot with about a half mile to go, I tried to make my move to get closer to the two kids in front of me. We came back on the track for the final 300m and I tried my best to use the 400m/800m kick I had back in the day (not anymore, though!) and close in. But, I finished about 5 seconds behind the 5th varsity kid and 8th overall. Didn't quite get him...

My time was 17:39.....17:39!!!!!! This was certainly NOT 5k, probably not 3.0 miles, and the other alumni and I decided on 2.9 miles. Sound good enough, right? There weren't any mile markers, so it's not like you can gauge from that. The winner was in the 15's and he usually runs road races in the low 16's, so we like our estimate. So, if you project it over a 5k, I maybe ran a little under 19 minutes?

After the race, I stopped at my parents house and ate part of one of our high school bands' legendary fundraiser subs. They weren't there, but I called and they said to make sure I helped myself. I can't turn down free food!

Next, back to home to pick up Beth and we went up to the YMCA to swim. Beth had a 2500 or so yard workout. I was kind of pooped after the race, so I just goofed around and swam some easy laps, made terrible attempts at the fly/breast/back stroke and flip turns, and then tried to race Beth on the last 50 yds on her 100 yd repeats. Surprisingly, I was able to keep up with her for the first 20-25 yds, but then would fall apart on the way back. I tied my 50 yd PR with two 45-second 50's.

We then came home, showered, watched the Olympics and then I took a 3 or so hour nap. Next thing I knew it was 7:30pm and the Olympic marathon was on. Too bad that Deena Kastor had to drop out and Paula Radcliffe didn't have enough training (with all the injuries) to hold on for the end. It's fun watching the marathon and watching them clip off the 5-something miles for the entire 26.2 mile course!

We've been bums today (other than all the training), so we'll have to get working on some chores around the house tomorrow. But, the olympics only come around every four years, so you might as well enjoy it, right! Okay, Michael Phelps's relay and Dara Torres's race is right around the corner...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Softball's Done & More Two-a-Days

Well, the season's over for softball. We lost 11-4. We gave up two in the first and three in the second with some more unearned runs. It just wasn't our night. To only score four runs wasn't good either. I was 0-for-2 with two walks, so I didn't help too much.

This may be it for me for good. I don't want to pull a Brett Favre (in retirement only....certainly not talent) and then come back, but I think I'm not going to play next year. There's a lot of factors that come in to play:

-The league is down to four teams
-Our "church" team only has two people from the church (this doesn't include me since Beth & I go to a church much closer)
-It's a 45 minute drive each way.
-The beginning of the season conflicts with track
-The rest of the season conflicts with some of the triathlon travels

It's tough because I LOVE playing fastpitch softball (versus slowpitch) from a hitting standpoint....bunting, stealing, slapping....and the fact that I've now been pitching a lot the last few years. But, I think it's about time.

On the running front, we're still putting in doubles. This morning, we had a 1 mile warm up, 3 miles on the road and then 3x1600m. It was a tough workout--we were supposed to drop 10 seconds off each time starting with 5:50.

I was with a pretty good freshman and our splits were- 5:52, 5:35, and 5:38. So, we didn't accomplish our objective, but I was pretty pleased that I was able to put together two miles under 5:40.

So, now we're watching the Olympics. I can't say enough how amazed I am at Michael Phelps. How about that 4x100m relay and the comeback by the USA? How about Phelps' 200 freestyle? He crushed everybody! It seems like on his flip turns he's under the water while everybody else has already done 2-4 strokes. Amazing.

US Basketball is on a roll now. I hope they keep hungry and play defense. China and Angola aren't among the best teams. The Olympics are off to a great start and there's so many great events left to watch.

Beth is coming to my school tomorrow to give a Nutrition Talk to the cross country teams (girls after the am practice; boys before the pm). I'm excited to see how the kids react to Beth, she's kind of like a role model to them! We'll give details later this week....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Corrigan Drive Time Trial

Well, I survived the time trial today with the high schoolers. I was told today by the head coach (and just confirmed myself) that the course is 4.1 miles, not 4.0 for what that's worth. I ended up taking it out kind of hard because I hadn't really raced since May.....unless you count that 1+ miles at my first triathlon experience. So, I didn't want to be bummed when I hit the turnaround at 7:00 pace.

It's an out & back course with perhaps a slight more up on the way out than the way back. It's pretty flat with very gradual ups & downs.

With that said, here's the splits (I know the locations of the splits from doing a 5K there in the past):
Mile 1 - 6:13
Mile 2.05 turnaround - 6:24
Mile 3 - 6:05
Mile 4.1 - 6:18 - Total time 25:00 flat.

As can be seen, miles 1 & 3 are more down and 2 & 4 are more up. Overall, I'm very pleased with being able to hold just under 6:15 pace. Look out Beth for the Great Race....I'm going to try to hold on to the Shutt family 10k record!

That's about it for today. After the AM time trial, I worked on some "curriculum" stuff at school with another teacher, ate lunch, and did the afternoon 5 miles. Now Beth is here sharing with me the in's and out's of Facebook.

Tomorrow night is the next playoff softball game. It's probably going to be a shootout as the other team has a mediocre pitcher and a lot of big boppers. I just need to throw strikes, minimize the damage, and hope we outscore them. This isn't going to be a 4-2 game for sure. Stay tuned for the results.

Also, I'm pumped for the Olympics to start tomorrow. Technically, they already have as some soccer (aka football outside of the US) pool play has already started. But, the Opening Ceremony is Friday. I'll be excited to follow the triathlons and swimming now that I have a better perspective on those two since the 2004 Athens games. Also, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, and volleyball are fun.

Finally, happy 21st birthday to Sid the Kid (Sidney Crosby for those non-Pittsburgh hockey followers). It's amazing that he's already won a scoring title, MVP, and taken his team to the Stanley Cup finals before being able to step into a Pittsburgh restaurant and order alcohol.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My First Double of the Season

So, for those astutely keen observers to this blog (out of the maybe five people who have read this blog at some point), one may take the title to mean:

"That blogger who is a punching-judy (a.k.a. weak-hitting) softball player got his first extra base hit of the season."

You would be WRONG as I had a whopping two doubles and two triples over the 11 games I played in for the regular season. I'm a power machine!! (Not really)

The "Double" I'm referring to is the first XC Double practice of the season. It's that time of year for cross country to start ramping up the miles before school starts. I put in 7 miles this morning and another 5 in the afternoon. Tomorrow morning's practice involves a 4 mile "time trial" over on Corrigan Drive in South Park. I'll have to see how I stack up against these young whipper-snappers half my age.....okay, so that's just the freshmen & some sophomores who are half my age, but that sure does make me feel old!

Speaking of softball, facing an elimination game, we stepped up last night and won 8-2. Somehow, with some good defense behind me, I only gave up two runs and both were unearned. There were a couple of guys on base with two outs and a ground ball was hit to the second baseman. But he was (legally) screened by the runner and it got past him and the two runs scored. Other than that, no runs. I sure didn't feel like I pitched that good, but as long as we scored more than we gave up, it works for me! Now we play Friday. If we win that game, we're into the finals.

Also, a big congrats to Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens who had a perfect game (nobody reaching base) going with two outs in the 8th inning! He ended up with a 2-hit shutout, so pretty impressive for a guy who was regarded as the fourth best (out of FOUR) of the pitchers the Pirates got from the Yankees in the Nady & Marte deal. We'll see if he can keep it up. And, on top of everything else, he had TWO HITS off of RANDY JOHNSON!

Along those lines, I really like Andy LaRoche and Moss from the Bay trade. I haven't seen Hansen yet, but I've heard and read that he's got a live arm. And, on top of that, most people say that Bryan Morris (down in A-ball) may have the biggest upside of them all. Maybe reloading the system with the Bay trade wasn't a bad idea.

Time for me to go check out Facebook, as Beth as an account on it now.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Here we are in the one state where every person carries a map of the state with them....It's their right hand, assuming you're not counting the UP (Upper Peninsula). I love that joke!!! I'm not a big University of Michigan fan since I'm a PSU guy. Also those Detroit Red Wings just beat the Pens in the Stanley Cup finals.

Anyway, the trip up went well and actually pretty fast for a 6+ hour trip. I think the hour I spent listening to the Pittsburgh Pirates Extra Innings Podcast of the potential Jason Bay trade to Tampa Bay or the three-way with Boston and Florida (Oops, neither of those happened). Bay actually ended up in Boston and the Pirates got four players including Adam LaRoche's younger brother. I need to sit down and look at these guys a little more before I give a final opinion on the trade.

Thursday night we grabbed dinner at Bob Evans (evidence of my French Toast for dinner on Beth's blog) and then drove the 56 mile bike course. Friday consisted of a short ride & run for Beth (while I held down the fort) and then a swim in the lake. I'm getting more and more comfortable in open water and am looking forward to trying an Olympic tri next summer. Dinner at Pizza Hut and off to bed.

So, we get to today and the race. We're walking the mile up the beach to the race start and I see the waves and the chop and I am on the verge of pooping my pants. I was scared to think people were going to swim in that and was going back on my thought about doing open water tri's. Sure enough, the waves were fierce enough that they ended up cancelling the swim and doing a 2.1 mile run to start instead.

The race goes off and Beth's first out of the run for her age group with Kim right behind her. I caught Beth & Kim once on the bike with about 3 miles to go and then was up at the Whirlpool campus to catch them a bunch of times on the run. Kim came through first and Beth was a little over a minute behind her. I was surprised at that, but figured that there was still 9 miles left and a lot could happen. And happen it did, as Beth wrapped around the campus I saw her again around mile 5. She was now over 2 minutes behind Kim.

When I saw Beth this time, she looked slow and went down to a knee. I was right there, but didn't want to run up to her and force her to drop out. I stayed back, across the street for about 30 seconds. Then, I went across to where she was and asked her how she was feeling and if anything hurt. She looked done and I wanted her to be done, but didn't want to make that decision for her by helping her up or giving her water or any other outside assistance.

I looked her in the eyes and said, "Do you want me to help you?" She said yes and I immediately gave her water and got the attention of a volunteer who was great and gave her this huge (32 oz or bigger) Gatorade and ice. We walked back to the start and she was bummed. I'll let her give the rest of the story, but I told her that you can't be awesome at EVERY race. People have off days. When we reflected on the great races at St. Anthony's, Columbia, Black Bear, Philly, and NYC, I think she felt a little better. But, you're obviously bummed. I'm sure she'll share her feelings (she's blogging across the table from me at the Panera Bread....not Internet access at our hotel...bad move on my part!).

So, we'll be heading back to PA in the morning with lessons learned and a chance for Beth to recover for her two October races in Dallas and Tempe. I tried to share one of my lessons from my softball game last week......

Softball didn't go well last Tuesday. I/we gave up 21 runs and lost 21-9. It was a team effort on the defensive end of things. I hit 4 batters and got hit hard and the defense wasn't at it's best. One inning, there were three errors committed on ground balls with TWO OUTS--that was a frustrating inning. On the bright side, I went 4 for 5 with a double. Fortunately the playoffs are double elimination so there's still hope. My aunt's in from AZ, so I'm hoping we don't get rained out on Tuesday so she can see the game. She's big into softball and travels to over 50 softball tourneys all over the country.

Next blog from back in PA!