Sunday, September 28, 2008

35:07 -- Are you for real?

So much for hoping to sneak under 37:00 down into the 36's I guess....

I'm not sure what happened exactly, but I guess I was having a pretty good day to take TWO MINUTES off of my PR in the 10k from last fall. Here's the splits (with last year's in parentheses):

Mile 1 - 5:33 (5:59) It helped being up in the "seeded" area, so I didn't have to fight through as much traffic as last year.

Mile 2 - 5:22 (5:32) I was not much behind this last year as this is the VERY downhill mile.

Mile 3 - 5:57 (6:05) Again, not too much different.

5K - 17:17 (18:27) I blew past my goal of being around 18:00 through the 5k, so I knew I was in good shape to beat last year's time.

Mile 4 - 5:30 (6:04) I thought I was saving a little bit for the mile 4 to 5 uphill, but apparently I didn't back off as much as I thought. I didn't really look at my watch the entire race, just reached with my left hand to hit the split button on the right wrist at each mile.

Mile 5 - 5:57 (6:30) This is the "uphill" mile up to Duquesne University.

Mile 6 - 5:42 (5:50) My stomach area got tight again just like last year at this point. It made it tougher to get in the oxygen and to relax for the last 1.2.

10k - 35:07 (37:16) Now seeing how close I was to having a 34:xx, I'm kind of bummed in hindsight. Had I not gotten that tight feeling in my stomach...I guess that'll now be my new goal for next year.

41st out of 6241 10k runners and 4th out of 498 in my 30-34 age group.

It was a good day. We had nine people from my school come and run and they had a great time. We're now going to try to get some people lined up to do some Pittsburgh Marathons, Half Marathons, or 4-person marathon relays in May of 2009.

PSU Wins

Last night, Penn State won a 38-24 shootout against Illinois. The offense looks so diverse that it's going to be hard for teams to shut them down. Who do you focus on? One of the three receivers? Quarless the TE had a TD. Evan Royster had 100yds while Stephon Green is his speedy complement. Oh yeah, and it all starts with Darryl Clark passing and running! Like I said before, I hope the D-Line doesn't tire out in the 2nd half of the big games down the road.

And, with all the crazy losses by ranked teams this weekend, PSU is now 6th in the rankings. They just need to take it one week at a time from here on out. A trip to West Lafayette, Indiana and the Boilermakers of Purdue (or Pur-don't??) comes up next weekend. It's going to be a tough October--at Purdue, at Wisconsin, home against Michigan, at Ohio State. Wow!

End of MLB Regular Season

The Pirates last game is today, but that doesn't really matter. How about the last weekend drama in baseball? I had a blast this afternoon flipping back and forth between the Cubs-Brewers and Marlins-Mets games. And, on top of that, Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox isn't decided yet as the Sox need to play a game against Detroit tomorrow. If the Sox win, Tuesday the Twins would make a trip to the White Sox.

I hope the playoffs are this fun. The only trouble with the playoffs is that, after the first round, the games don't end until midnight or later. It's just tough for me to follow that and function the next day. I wish they would start at least a game or two at 6:00 or 7:00pm instead of 8:30. But, I guess that's when the ratings determine that they need to be.

Beth's Getting Ready for Dallas

The other thing we need to do today is get all the maps and preparations for Beth's trip to Dallas next weekend. She's will be meeting her mom there. I'm not going on this trip because I only get three "personal" or vacation days as a teacher. I guess that's what happens when you get two and a half months off in the summer. I have a lot of sick days, but that's kind of shady....

I am going to join Beth in Phoenix for the Best of the US Race at the end of October and take a day to make it a long weekend. That should be fun.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ready or Not...

The Great Race is coming up on Sunday here in the 'burgh and I'm excited. We have about ten people from the school doing it, so that's going to be fun as we meet up before the race and then again after the race for lunch. I'm sure we'll have good stories to share.

It's probably a good thing that I only "race" four our five times a year. The biggest reason why is that I become a big hypochondriac for the week leading up to the race. Okay, most people (including Beth probably) would characterize it more as being wimpy or soft...Every little ailment I'm worried is going to derail me from my goals:

- Is my left knee a little creaky from doing those mile repeats on the track on Saturday? I better ice it.
- Is my hammy feeling a little tight today? I should actually stretch today.
- Did I do too many miles this week? Am I going to feel too tired to run well?
- I think my back and neck are feeling a little stiff--did I sleep on it funny?
- Was my shin feeling sore--is it the beginning of a stress fracture? More ice!!!
- I'm feeling a little heavy today, maybe I shouldn't have that 2nd package or poptarts or cookies? (Notice that the nutrition isn't as serious as the physical ailments)

...and on it goes...

Like I said, it's good that Beth only has to put up with me like this only a few times a year. So far this year, my races have been the 10-miler in February, a 5k in May, the sprint triathlon in July, and the high school alumni 5k in August. That's it. The rest of the time, I'm coaching track & xc or playing softball or just running with the XC guys or being an equipment manager for Beth.

Okay, so on to the goals for Sunday's race. You can read about my race last year in my guest entry on Beth's blog, and be sure to note the downhill nature of the course. That certainly helps! Last year, I came through the 5k in 18:27 and finished in 37:16 for 78th overall out of many (1000 or 2000??) and 10th of 410 in my age group.

This year, I have the experience of doing the race before, a stronger base of running underneath me (including some swimming--but not much in the last month), my ruby-red slippers (aka racing flats), having a "seeded" number (and access to the shorter lines of the "seeded area" port-a-potties....very key), and a more refined goal now that I have a perspective of the 10k distance level of competition from last year.

So, I'd like to come through the 5k around 18:00 and come back with an 18:40 or 50 to end up breaking into the 36's. That'll involve pushing through the tiredness when I'm around mile 5, but we'll see what we can do. Who knows with place. I'll let that take care of itself and just try to run my time.

So there it is and we'll see how it goes. I'll just go out and do like my Dad always told me before anything sports or academic or life-related, "Do your best." That's all that you can ever expect.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Speed Week, PSU, & Lynyrd Skynyrd

I capped off my tough week of training with the XC crew with a wonderful Saturday morning speed workout on the track. No invite this weekend, so extra speed work.

Essentially, what we did was 4 x 1600m where we were breaking it down by 200's. The first 200 was a constant pace for all four 1600's at a little quicker than road pace (6:00 miles - 45 sec/200). The 2nd 200 to complete each lap was to be a quicker pickup to simulate surging in the race. On the first mile, we were shooting for 38-39 sec and worked our way down to 33-35 sec on the last one. We got a good 4 or so minutes of rest in between. This all together came out to 5:20-5:35 miles. Whew!

Now, it's taper "week" for me as I get ready for the Great Race. When I only race three or four times a year, I make sure I'm well tapered for each one to make the most of race day.

PSU over the OWLS
It wasn't pretty in the first quarter, but the Lions got rolling with 31 points in the 2nd quarter to take care of business (again) against ANOTHER inferior opponent in Temple. It ended up 45-3. Next week, a well-rested Illinois team comes to Happy Valley in PSU's first true test. I'll say it again, I hope the D-Line doesn't get worn down in the second half. But, then again, with the way the offense is rolling Illinois may need 50 points to win.

Pitt actually had a character win against Iowa. They came from behind in the 4th quarter. The Big East looks so weak, Pitt may still win the whole thing if they beat South Florida in a few weeks. But, we'll see how they look against meager Syracuse next weekend.

I was down at PNC Park for the Pirate game Saturday night with a couple of the track coaches. They mainly wanted to go because of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert after the came. The game itself was one of the better-played games the Pirates have had all year as they won 6-4. The concert was decent, too. I'm not a big fan of 70's & 80's rock, but those guys (as over the hill as they looked), could sure jam. There's nothing like the spontaneity of live rock music and jamming.

One of the other coaches was joking that there were about 7,000 people there for the Pirates and 30,000 for the concert....he's probably not far off as not many people left after Nyjer Morgan's great racing catch on the left field line ended the game.

Rough Day for the Stillers
The Steelers came back down to earth today in Philly as the O-line lived up to the preseason expectations placed on them and they lost 15-6. They were very mediocre all day as Big Ben was running for his life and had no time to pass.

Baseball's Playoffs Around the Corner
Congrats to Jen Harrison's Chicago Cubs as they clinched the NL Central. Good luck to them in the playoffs. Also, congrats to the Tampa Bay Rays in their first playoff berth clinching.

I feel like I've somewhat followed Tampa Bay's run. Last November, when we were in Clearwater for Beth's 70.3 World Championship race, the front page story in the St. Petersburg Times was that the organization announced the change from the "Devil Rays" to the "Rays" (like sunshine).

In April, when were were back down there for Beth's St. Anthony's race, the Rays were just wrapping up a statement sweep of the Boston Red Sox. Then, my "All You Can Eat Seats" Day at PNC Park at the end of June, I saw (you guessed it) the first place Tampa Bay Rays. Coincidence? Maybe I should put some money on them for the playoffs (if I actually gambled).

Time to hit the hay and get ready for another big week of school and resting up for the big race next weekend.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quarters Mania

Not much new since yesterday. We had a pretty crazy XC workout on the track today and I was pumped to be able to hang with the top people.

Here was the workout:

10 x 400m with descending times and then hold the last three:
85, 83, 81, 79, 77....water break....75, 73, 71, 68, 69

There was about 1:15 rest on the first five and then more like 2:00 for the last five.

Then, three miles on the road. It was a good confidence boost heading into the Great Race 10k next weekend. I even broke out my racing shoes I got a few months ago. I don't know if I've ever shared the story of how I got those shoes.

When we were up at the NYC Tri for Beth this summer, my mom was roaming around the finish line expo, filling out various cards at the tables. One of them was for SBR Triathlon store in New York City. My mom figured there wasn't anything for her at the store, so she put my name on it. A few weeks later, I get an email from someone at SBR saying that I had won some free shoes--and on top of that, I could select racing flats. How cool!

I haven't had any racing flats since my waffle racers in high school. So, I used them for the High School Alumni race back in August and now I'll be using them for the second time next weekend. They sure are lighter than training shoes. Who knew?!?!?

Good luck to all the triathletes competing at Nationals this weekend out in Portland. It sure was pretty out there, I guess that's why the tree huggers all like it out there!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Boy, that weekend in Charlotte sure threw me off the once-a-week blogging schedule. Anyway, I'm back. I figure I'll do some quick hitters somewhat chronologically to get up to date and hopefully get back to the blog this weekend.

- Lots of good workouts last week with the XC team, including a 6x800m workout where I went from 2:50 down to 2:35 before a frustrating bonk (2:50) on the 6th. The Great Race is coming up in a week and a half (Sep 28). Goals to be announced in the upcoming week....

- XC's going well. We had an individual champ at the invite last weekend in the soggy mess. The boys cruised yesterday, while the girls had an awesome comeback in the last half mile. Down 28-27 by my count, a pack of three of our girls surged to the finish and all passed a girl from the other team. Both are undefeated halfway through the dual meet season and well on their way to section titles.

- Beth had an awesome race down in Charlotte where she won the race. We were also very impressed with the Charlotte area--it's growing and seems like a lot of new housing and buildings downtown. The houses are cheap and there's good triathlon training area. I don't know if we'll ever move from Western PA, but it sure is appealing. Plus, we'd be right by my dad's alma mater Davidson College, and you may remember the awesome run they had in the NCAA men's basketball last March. The other thing was how the gas prices went up to almost $5 a gallon in that area over the weekend--it's like what came first, the concerned people filling up on gas before the hurricane hit Texas or the gas stations hiking up the prices?

- PSU won big again--I can't wait to see how they do against the Big Ten. It's going to be tough with their thin depth on the D-Line, but boy is their offense explosive. Also, I'll be curious to see how Pitt does against Iowa--it could get ugly. Ohio State sure laid an egg out at USC. And, the Steelers are looking a lot better than most thought (ESPN has them ranked as the #2 NFL team). No comment on the Pirates and their miserable finish to the year. These young guys need to grow up and start playing better ball.

- Finally, a "Get Well Soon" shout-out to Beth's triathlete friend from Chicago Jen Harrison with her really scary vehicle accident. It gave me chills reading about how the car hit her SUV on her side.

- No invitational or travelling this weekend, so hopefully more time for blogging. I am going to the Pirate game Saturday night with some of the other track coaches, so that should be neat. There's a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert after the game--I'm not a fan of them, but I appreciate good rock and musicians who can jam.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Spectathlete, PSU, Steelers, & Stuff

First of all, thanks to Maija for reminding me about my "spectathlete" accomplishment of jogging with a 30 or so pound bag of triathlon equipment before the Philly Tri for over a mile as I crossed over a bridge and down the river from the swim start to the transition area.

At the same time, I need to point out my weakness when it comes to the spectathlete-a-thon. We had our first HS XC Invite on Saturday at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh. There were four races: Boys Varsity, Girls Varisity, Boys JV, Girls JV. While I'm in good running condition from the summer, I didn't get my voice into shape in the off season. By the SECOND race, I was going horse. My voice was cracking and everything. It was a bummer and I'm currently an octave lower in my made for fun singing of the bass line at church, though. I'll have to work on this part of my spectathlete game to get myself on par with Elizabeth.

PSU Wins

With the previously mentioned suspensions, I was worried about how they were going to come out on Saturday. But, they played a nearly perfect first half against Oregon State. Before you knew it, it was 28-0.

I can imagine that, based on how they came out, they must have had a good bonding week. Something like the coaches saying, "Okay, they screwed up. Anyone else NOT on board with us and wants to go out and throw away this season, GET OUT NOW! Everybody else, let's circle the wagons and do all the little things we need to do to be successful on Saturday."

They play at hapless Syracuse Saturday, hopefully they don't have a let down.


Pittsburgh is a Steelers town. While I know all the players and enjoy following them, I'm not an all out black and gold die hard. The Steelers fall behind the Pirates, PSU Football, and Arizona Basketball for me. Also, by the time Sunday rolls around, I'm pretty worn out from all the high school and college football already on the weekend.

With all that said, they sure took it to the Houston Texans today. Willie Parker is back from the broken leg, Big Ben was as efficient as ever. Great defensive effort.

Other Stuff...

One neat thing that I took away from the message from the "Sermon on the Mount" series this morning was on judgement. You know the phrase, "Before you point out the speck the other person's eye, take the plank out of yours." That was the main message today. One key catch phrase about judging others was our pastor said, "Don't jugde by a label before looking at the contents inside." We're all guilty of making preconceptions of people. It's not about judging people, it's about loving people.

We're getting ready for the trip to Charlotte next weekend for Beth's race down there. It should be a fun weekend.

Maybe now that we're into the third week of school, I'll be settled in to have time to sit down and blog this week......but don't count on it!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crazy Police Chase Video

I know, another weekend blog binge. But, I had to put this video up. So, Beth's asleep and I wanted to check on the internet two things:

1) How much of Hurrican Hannah hit Hilton Head (where Beth's parents live)
- Looks like they just got some storms and wind...nothing major.

2) A couple of the high school sports scores.
My high school where I teach lost bad.
The high school where we live won a big game against a tough team
My alma mater got rocked (nothing new in football)

But, as I'm searching for high school football scores on the local news website, I come across a video about a chase on Route 28. This is the road Beth & I take in to work every day. Let's just say that I'd love to be able to get into work as quick as this guy did.

Also, there's a police car that gets flipped over and a very aggressive apprehension on the 31st street bridge.

The commentary by the anchors is terrible. The chase video footage starts on Route 28 SOUTHBOUND just before Route 8 and goes the whole way down past Millvale, the 40th street bridge and onto the 31st street bridge. Allegedly, this chase was a result of a robbery on Banksville Road in the south hills much closer to where I teach. I want to know how this guy was down there, perhaps passing me going up Route 28 and made it back down on 28 when the video coverage starts.

So, without further ado, here is the 7+ minute video. Enjoy.

If the video isn't working go to

Update: Here's a youtube version that's about 3 minutes long

Weekend Blogger

It's beginning to look like a trend since school started, but I've been busy. I know, others are busy, too....

Labor Day was fun at Beth's grandfather's house and then my family's house. I ate a lot, but what's new? I took Monday off of training after 11.5 miles with Beth on Sunday

Tuesday - School, Mile Repeats at XC, pick up deck stain, dinner, stain rails of deck until dark

Wednesday - School, "coached" at XC - my legs were dead from the mile repeats, dinner, stain rest of deck and finish around dark, listen to part of Sarah Palin's speech at the RNC.

Thursday - School, XC Practice (7 mi), stay at school eat dinner & grade, Open House, home by 10pm.

Friday - Swam with Beth at pool, School, XC Pre-meet (3 mi), home for the weekend!!!


So, seriously, the Penn State program is a good and mostly clean program. But, what's going on lately is frustrating. Guys in the Nittany Apartments having a loud party on a TUESDAY night??? Don't you have any homework? So loud, that the police had to come and ask them to turn it down. And, upon that, finding marijuana in the apartment?

I just can't believe some of the decisions these athletes make. What a waste of an opportunity. What a waste of talent and a letdown to the teammates. They're suspended for the time being and they can stay suspended for all I care if they're not going to follow the rules. Very will sure send a message if PSU struggles against Oregon State this weekend.

I really like Joe Paterno's quote about the situation:

“We preach, preach, preach and they step out of line,” Paterno said on the show. “They deserve whatever they’re gonna get. Now whatever that’s gonna be, I don’t know. My feeling on all of this is that they had a responsibility to the program, they had a responsibility to themselves, their families, their teammates, and if they did something as dumb as it appears they did, and I’m not sure that they did, but even being close to that kind of thing, I’m not gonna play any one of those three kids this weekend.”

I can't agree enough. He's not out of touch, these kids are just making terrible decisions and letting down their teammates. Can a head coach really sit on these kids 24 hours a day? Maybe the rest of the team will get a wake up call with these suspensions. At least Pitt lost last week...

Now that that's off my chest, on to a much lighter note.


Beth's triathlon friend Elizabeth from the Chicago area has been documenting what she's the World's Best Spectathlete. While she may be doing a good job of cheering and is an amazing professional triathlete, I feel that she may be a little premature in her proclamation of the best in the world. I, for one, would like to throw my hat in the ring with my 8 or 9 years of experience. Here's my qualifications:

- Taking all of my personal days from school for triathlon race-related reasons
- Attending 5-8 races per year as a spectator and getting up early on race day (including a pre-3am wakeup in NYC).
- My ability that I have honed (since the turn of the century when Beth was a PSU XC runner) of maximizing the number of times I catch people on the course....and not only quanity of locations, but QUALITY of locations, like 2/3 of the way up a tough hill on the bike in Philly or at the "GO" point at the end of the run.
- Accumulating comparable running mileage as the competitor like I did down at St. Anthony's this past April.
- The ability to scout out not only good restaurants in the area for triathlon weekend, but a key grocery store to stop in and grab a snack like I did at 70.3 Championships in Clearwater last have to stay fueled to be a top performer.
- And, of course, my ace in the hole--my hurdling of a fence to get to the optimal position to cheer on Beth like I did at Columbia back in May.

So, alleged World's greatest Spectathlete, I say, "IT'S ON!" and may the best spectathlete win.... :)