Thursday, October 30, 2008

3 hours behind? Zzzzzz! Snow? Brrrr!

Tuesday was a shock to my system. I went from spending a weekend in 90 degree temperatures to running after school Tuesday with the XC boys in 38 degree pouring rain/sleet. Ugh! And, this was after waking up on Tuesday at 5:30am (which felt like 2:30 am Arizona time). Then, we go outside for practice on Wednesday and there's a layer of snow on the football field. What's going on?!?!? At least today was nicer and they're forecasting high 50's and sunny for the state XC meet on Saturday.

This snow yesterday was appropriate, as last night I had my first church choir Christmas music rehearsal. It just doesn't get better than praising God and belting out Christmas tunes. I love it! The music director makes "part" CD's (I'm a bass), where she overlays the music with the specific line (soprano, alto, tenor, or bass). I then transfer it to my Itunes and listen to it on my IPod either to or from work for the next six weeks. It's great!

A couple of last items to wrap up from the trip that I forgot in my hasty blog at the Phoenix airport:

*Thanks so much again to my parents for doing EVERYTHING for us this trip: driving, dinners, pickups, waiting while Beth & I were at the course,...the list goes on and on!

*I was talking to the one other cross country coach and he was asking me how the trip was and I used the word "flawless." He gave me a quizzical look and said that not many people could say that about travel across the US today. But, probably the biggest complaint I had was the big guy sitting beside me on the plane out to Phoenix (stay on YOUR side of the armrest, please!) and that we left Phoenix 10 minutes after our listed departure time. That's it! Everything else went great travel-wise.

*Maybe it's because I wasn't sore or tired from racing, but I had so much fun on Sunday. Beth did great at the race and because of the setup of the loops I was all over the course and able to see her 8 or 9 times. We had a relaxing afternoon watching the Steelers (although they blew it in the 4th quarter), a super time out to eat with other BOUS racers (like Chris, Cindi, Kristel, Lindsay, Eddie, and Sydney) where I just enjoy listening to their conversations and picking their brain about competing at that level since I don't get a chance to experience it first hand....although I'm along for the ride second-hand with Beth!

*The scenery is just so awesome out there. The Tempe Town Lake set against the backdrop of the desert and mountains is so pretty. On the morning we left, I went over to the bridge (site of Beth's little bike fender-bender!) and took a picture of the ASU football stadium that sits between two mountains. The mountains in Arizona just put me in awe. How can it be so flat and these pieces of rock just jut out of nowhere so high? Below is a picture of it. the way, this was the site of the best college football game EVER, as underdog Penn State went out to the desert on January 2, 1987 and conquered the #1 Miami Hurricanes and Heisman winner Vinnie Testaverde 14-10. I was 9 years old when that game happened and my dad made me go to bed at halftime because I had school the next day. The nice part was that he taped it and I watched it EVERY time I stayed home stick until I graduated from high school. I can practically rattle off the whole first quarter right now. A few years back, I got my dad a DVD of the original NBC broadcast of the game. We watched last Christmas break on his projector screen and I was still getting chills as they held off Miami in the last minute.

Sports Briefs

*PSU (#3) is in great shape to have a good finish to the year. I thought the PSU-OSU game was going to be a high-scoring affair. Instead, it was 13-6. What a great game of perseverance. We'll have to see if PSU can heal up this week and keep winning with a tough game at Iowa next weekend. Also, hopefully Alabama or Texas will trip up at some point over the next few weeks.

*Pitt lost to RUTGERS. That's all I really need to say about that.

*The Steelers lost, but that's okay because they're still in good shape in the AFC.

*Congrats to the Phillies and all my college buddies from the Philly area that I play fantasy baseball with. I can only imagine what it's like to have a World Series Champion. Someday, the Pirates will get back to respectability. Also, congrats to the Tampa Bay Rays for a fantastic season. They had plenty of opportunities to crumble back to mediocrity during the season but made it to play in the last game of the year.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leaving the Desert

Beth and I are sitting at the airport, reminiscing about a fabulous extended weekend.

Here's some of the highlights:

*The weather was BEAUTIFUL. The sun was a little hot in the afternoons, but, other than that, it couldn't have been better.

*Beth did great at the BOUS race. I'll let her tell the stories, but the short of it is that she finished 8th overall, which is awesome! The results are here.

*My parents were the best out here, lugging us around everywhere and treating us to meals. My Aunt lives out here and she was able to come out and be a part of the weekend. That was super.

*For dinner after the race, we went out with some of Beth's triathlon friends. That was nice having a more relaxing atmosphere to chat, as opposed to right after the race when they're all tired and stinky.

*I also met up with a friend from high school who went to Arizona State University and then just stayed out here. He and his wife just had their first child, Issac, a few months ago. His dad was the cross country and track coach at our high school, so that's how I was able to catch up with him.

Well, we're going to grab a bite to eat here at the airport before our plane takes of a little before 11am. We figure we might as well eat now since it's like it's 1pm in Pittsburgh. Plus, our flight is a direct one, so we won't be back on the ground for another four hours.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spectathlete Finale

So, here we sit at 3:30 AM in Tempe getting ready for Beth's final race. First of all, it's not REALLY 3:30, it still feels more like 6:30 (especially since I was in bed by 10:00 pm local time), so that's helpful.

Beth just put on her seven temporary tattoos--the numbers and "Best of the US" tattoos added to today's number. Current temperature 64 degrees. It's going up to 94 today, but Beth should be done by 9 or so, and the weather channel says it's only going to be 71 then.

We found out yesterday with this "dry" heat, that you just need to be in the shade when the sun's out. If you're in the sun, it just drains you! I ran the run course yesterday, like any good spectathlete/equipment manager would do, right Liz (by the way, great spectathlete performance out in Kona)? It seems pretty nice. I usually don't do that long of a run on Beth's pre-race day, but I needed it since I haven't run more than 2 miles since last Saturday's race. I've now got my race cheering strategy laid out and I'm looking forward to a great day for Beth.

Time to put down some breakfast and off to the race course!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fun Day at WPIAL's...on to PHX

So many neat things to update:

-Boys made it to State's; Girls missed, but one individual made it. Both are a little disappointing relative to past success, but it's been a solid overall year for the boys and they'll have a chance to get some revenge at Hershey. For the girls, it was a rebuilding year plus some injuries, but they fought hard all year and didn't give in today.

-I saw so many neat people today, including:
Beth's college coach from PSU (Coach Sullivan) and assistant, who were there to recruit Natalie Bower (4-time WPIAL champ), I assume. I was able to chat it up with her and she passed along a hello and good luck to "Bethie." Also, the one girl from our school is interested in running at PSU and I introduced her to coach. Hopefully that's a good match from both ends.

Beth's High School Coach who retired from teaching and coaching high school two years ago, but he's now teaching at a small Christian school east of Pittsburgh and coaching at St. Vincent's College in Latrobe

GS Coaches Nate & Jeremy, both of whom are running the marine corps marathon this weekend. Good luck!

Of course, my high school coach--it's always nice to talk with him. His son (and my former teammate) lives out in Phoenix, so I might try to get in touch with him this weekend.

Wendy, Beth's blogging friend was there. I hear a "Hey Oscar" out of the blue and then I recognized her with the red, curly hair. Her high school girls qualified for state's for the first time in their high school history. GREAT JOB!! Also, sorry about the teacher's strike. Nobody wins with those. I hope it's resolved quickly.

Beth touches down in PHX
I just got a call from Beth and she has landed and found my parents already. She's going to call again once she gets settled in. Tomorrow's a day for her to get organized and relax some before training & meetings Saturday and the big BOUS race on Sunday. Results may be here.

I fly out tomorrow after school
In an attempt to not have to pay for TWO cars at the airport this weekend, I worked out this crazy scheme where I'm going to park at a teacher's house, walk to school (0.8 mi) and then get a ride out to the airport from someone who goes home that way. It seems like it's going to work, we'll see. Then, on Monday, we'll be picking up my car. I hope we don't forget it. Or else, Beth's getting up Tuesday morning to drive me to school!!

Our furnace is A-OK
We kicked on our furnace last Saturday during the PSU game, but it didn't come on. This wasn't good. I tried again Sunday morning and it worked for a little bit, but wouldn't come back on after the initial fire. So, Monday & Tuesday we would turn it on and crank it up to 75 or so and then live off of that heat for about 8-10 hours and then repeat.

So the service man comes on Wednesday and figured out that it was a motor that does something with the heat exchanger or gas pump. He replaced it and we're back up and running, all for under $200. Thank goodness!

Sports Update
So, time to go finish packing and watch the Rays vs Phils and the 'Eers vs Auburn Tigers. Good thing the PSU-OSU game is the 8:00 ET Prime time game Saturday. It will be starting at 5:00 Arizona time, just after we get back from dinner and Beth will be making her final preparations for Sunday's race. Also, the Steelers are 4:15ET start, so I may get to catch that after the race.

Pics from Buffalo Creek 1/2 Marathon

I found some pics online from the half marathon:
The race started with a siren from a fire truck, but it was a really whimpy siren. We were all laughing about it as we left the line saying, "that's all the better they could do for a siren?"

These are the four other guys I ran with most of the time. The young guy (297) broke away with about 5 miles to go. I started dropping back with about 3-4 miles to go and finished behind all of these guys. But, only the top female passed me between here and the end.

The anguished face of a guy who's been training with 5k guys all fall during the last 1/2 mile of a 13.1 mile race. Ugh!

Next blog either from the airport or in warm, sunny Phoenix (High of 90 Saturday!!!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Most places across the country, the race leading up to the state cross country meet is some sort of district or regional qualifier. In Pennsylvania, we're broken up into 12 districts across the state. Some of the better ones are out east like District 1 (Philly suburbs) and District 3 (Harrisburg/Lancaster/York). Out here in Pittsburgh, we're District 7.

While their meets are called the District ___ meet, we go a different direction. I bet you would find very few people in Southwestern Pennsylvania call the district meet the "District 7 Finals" or in football, it isn't called the "District 7 Football Championship."

Nope, out here we're known as the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, or WPIAL for short. This is pronounced, "whip-EEE-olls." Heck, I bet a handful of people aren't even aware that we're district 7. The guys were telling me that, the other week on a run, some random old guy (50's) said to them, "Are you gonna win WHIP's? Go get 'em at WHIP's!"

Anyway, our boys and girls have been training very well and I'm looking for some good results tomorrow. The top four teams and top 20 individuals not on those teams move on to "State's" (also known as the PIAA). No predictions here other than I know that both teams are going to have a strong showing. We'll let the results speak for themselves.

When I was in high school, we never made it to the state meet. My senior year we were fifth, but not good enough. It was fun last year as both the boys and girls teams made it out to Hershey. I'm hoping to go out again this year.

We'll have to see if I can update how they do because I'll be on a plane on Friday right after school to join Beth out in Phoenix for her big "Best of the US" race. I keep calling Beth "Miss Pennsylvania" since she's representing PA, but she thinks it weird. I think she's going to finish the year with a great performance! I can't wait.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Day along Buffalo Creek

This will be a little quick since the PSU game's halfway through the first quarter. Michigan's up wait, Royster big run up the middle it's now 10-7.
Things went well today at the half marathon. It was a little chilly (low 40's), but I ended up feeling pretty comfortable with shorts, an "underarmor" long sleeve, and gloves. My cousin Karen joined me for the race and Beth met us at the finish line.
Like the Great Race, this was a net downhill course. I like those! The first 1.7 miles was on the roads, the next 7 miles were on a crushed limestone "rails to trails" and the final mile is on the roads into Freeport.
I was shooting for 6:10 pace and ended up at 6:02 pace, running a 1:19:07, finishing 11th overall out of 300, 10th male (1 woman that ended up in the 1:18's that passed me with about 1.5 miles to go), and first in my 30-34 age group. I'll have to post a link to the official results when the come up.
Here's the splits:
1 - 5:36 (road + downhill = oops, but I felt under control)
2 - 6:06; 11:42 (part road/part trail, but flat)
3 - 5:52; 17:34
4 - 5:55; 23:29
5 - 5:58; 29:27
6 - 5:50; 35:17 (started the downhill)
7 - 5:47; 41:04
8 - 6:05; 47:09
9 - 6:00; 53:09
10 - 6:10; 59:19
11 - 6:09; 1:05:28
12 - 6:26; 1:11:54 (kind of hit the wall)
13 - 6:36; 1:18:30 (a little uphill part into "town"...really hit the wall...nobody behind me...1st female long gone chance to catch her)
13.1 - 0:37; 1:19:07

So, that's about it. I'll leave you with a couple of photos and I'm going back to the PSU game. 2nd quarter and they're now down 17-7 and just had to punt. Ugh! In some ways, PSU is beating themselves, but Michigan is just controlling the line of scrimmage. Maybe the D-Line concerns I had are catching up to them today. PSU may just have to outscore them today.

Beth shot this one of the Allegheny River near the finish line in Freeport, PA. She realized that she could maybe swim in the open water next summer. It seemed pretty controlled.

Me eating a bagel after the race (I know it looks like I'm picking my nose, but I'm not). Notice that I brought my "game face" with the beard. It was essentially from last week when we had last Thursday off (Yom Kippur - there's a larger Jewish population in the community) and Friday was an in-service day (no kids). So, with the weekend, I decided to let the facial hair grow, calling it a "playoff beard" for cross country season.

My cousin, Karen and I. We were both 1st in our age group. Karen was 7th female overall (1:31:xx).

Okay, let's get it going Lions!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Midweek entry

Tomorrow the XC team's have a final tune-up before next Thursday's District Championship. I think they're in good shape to perform well. We'll just have to see how they perform on race day.

Speaking of race day, the big half marathon's coming up in just a few days. Part of me is thinking that I've done two marathons, so technically I've already done four half-marathons. But, I've never actually raced a true half marathon. So, the other part of me says, "A 13.1 miles race is a long way!" And, I'll be running a crisper pace than I did back in the day on the marathons. Back then, I've run 8:16/mile and 7:43/mile. This Saturday, based on my effort in the 10k a few weeks ago along with "Coach Beth" and I consulting some pace calculators, we decided on an estimated pace of 6:10-6:15/mile. So, we'll see what happens.

Penn State's got a big game this weekend against Michigan. Now that they're #3, everybody's talking about them. I hope that it doesn't go to their head and think they just need to show up and they'll beat Michigan. I read in a couple of places that in the locker room after the game up at Wisconsin, JoePa was already reminding the team that they haven't beat the Wolverines in 9 games. STAY FOCUED!!!!

The baseball's been exciting, even though I'm only up until the 6th inning or so! I can't believe Tampa Bay is up 3-1 on Boston AND I can't believe that Tampa's hitting Boston's pitching so well. Philly's looking great and may wrap things up tonight against the Dodgers. You can't ever count out Manny or Joe Torre, but LA was a 0.500 team for most of the year and Philly won in the tough NL East. I'm still pulling for Tampa Bay to show that the Pirates can do it. The problem is that the Pirates don't have the impact players and good defense and pitching that the Rays have. We'll see....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Successful Weekend

The weekend starts off with some good football Friday night. The local team where we live moved to 7-0 and #3 in the district and #5 in Pennsylvania at the AAA level (2nd biggest). Where I teach, they won their first game last weekend (think I forgot to mention that previously). But, despite nearly doubling their season point output as they scored 28 pts, came up short and lost 35-28. However, Saturday football was the highlight!

Before I get to Penn State and company, Saturday morning brought about a crazy 12-16 (depending on group) by 400m workout in the morning. They were broken up into sets of four. In the first set, the goal was to drop 2 seconds each time (87-85-83-81) with 65 seconds rest and about 3 min rest in between sets. The next three sets was a second faster (79-78-77-76, 75-74-73-72) with 5 seconds more rest in between quarters and the same rest between sets. All but the varsity 7 or 8 remained after set 3.

I tried one in set 4 (quarter #13), but my quads became jelly as I was going down the home stretch and greatly struggled but still finished my 70-second quarter. Fortunately, a few of the guys finished a bit behind me (75-ish), so coach told them to hit the road for 3 miles. I "sacrificed" my finaly 3 quarters to join them on the road (yeah right, I couldn't have run faster than an 80 on that next one, and that's being generous!!!). The big boys ended up with a 65 on quarter #16. Yikes! I think they're ready for districts NEXT Thursday (Oct 23). There's a tune-up this Thursday.

It's days like this that I'm glad I follow a sport that the multimedia empires chooses to broadcast on six different stations and also via internet streaming video. I felt bad for Beth trying to follow on the internet the live Ironman coverage that kept getting bogged down (since everybody in the WORLD--except most of the US--was trying to find out results).

Where to start? There were so many great games. Michigan lost to TOLEDO (but I'm still worried for next week), UNC over ND on a late game touchdown, the BIG GAME with Texas winning a shootout over Oklahoma, Vandy losing to Mississippi State, OSU looking ugly against Pur-don't (although PSU looked ugly last week, too), Kansas beating Colorado, Arkansas upsetting Auburn, Michigan State out-physical-ing undefeated Northwestern (Ringer looks tough), and Minnesota upsetting Illinois.

Then, we cleaned and ate dinner and got ready for the prime time events:
PSU vs Wisconsin
Tampa Bay vs Boston
Florida vs LSU
Missouri vs Oklahoma State
Penguins home opener
Following the KONA Ironman results
#1 PSU women's volleyball at #12 Minnesota on the Big Ten Network (PSU swept!!)

...I'm glad I've got a remote control and a computer with ESPN360 to be able to follow all of these games.

The end result:
PSU is now #3 in the national polls. They played a solid game and won 48-7. They look tough, but they've got their evil nemesis Meeee-chigan coming to Happy Valley in next week. Hopefully they can beat them for the first time in like 9 or 10 years and not be caught looking ahead. I will, though--after that it's at Ohio State. We'll find out what they're made of with these two games.


BIG congrats to Kim (9th place in 25-29F) and the many other triathletes connected to Beth who were out at Kona. What a crazy day to do a race for anywhere from 9 to 12 (or more) hours. That's bordering on insane. Beth told me how 42 year old former Florida Marlins baseball player Jeff Conine was there and competed.

We followed our normal Sunday routine: Trail run (60 min. today), church, lunch, nap, now. I'll leave you with a picture of our dog, Roxy the Ham, as I finally caught her with my laptop webcam sleeping on her back. She usually rolls over by the time I open up the webcam and position the laptop to get the best picture.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

On this day back in the late 1940's my dad was born into this world and he's been making a great impact on the world ever since! He retired back in May and has been busier than ever with softball, composing hymns & classical music, and leading church-related groups.

I've been really lucky to have such a great role model in my life. I ended up doing many similar things as my dad, but it's because I enjoy them, not because he did them.

Here's some of my dad's highlights:

- Graduated from Davidson College in 1970 (around the LAST time Davidson made it really far in the NCAA hoops tourney). He was a physics major and played on the baseball team there his freshman and sophomore years.
- Went on to Kent State for his Masters degree (the fall after the infamous protests and shootings on that campus)
- Got a job back here in western PA with Westinghouse (now Bechtel) in West Mifflin and was there (other than some assignments in Alabama, Seattle, and Virginia) until this past May. Working at the same place doesn't happen too much anymore.
- Plays (as in STILL plays) in our church fastpitch softball league and was the league MVP a few times back in the 1980's. He also still plays in a slowpitch league from where he works.
- Enjoys going to the Senior Games and running the 200m and 400m. He still can almost get down to 30 seconds in the 200 and 75 seconds in the 400m. I didn't get my distance genes from him, but he's sure got some quicks for a 60 year old!!!
- Member of every board imaginable at our church in Greensburg and was the Sunday School Superintendent for about as long as I can remember. He sings in the choir, leads the instrumental groups, and has now taken on some more regoinal church leadership roles.

For his birthday, my sister and I (along with Beth and D's husband) wanted to do something different. So, what we're going to do is, now that he's retired, take him on a multiple day tour of minor league baseball games. One of them will be in Frederick, MD since that's where my sister's living. From there, we'll have to check out the schedules, but it'll be from the following: Hagerstown, Bowie, Altoona, State College, Reading, Harrisburg, West Virginia (Charleston), Akron, Cleveland, Lake County (Cleveland), Erie. He doesn't know about it, but he's not really a blog reader. But, just in case you read it dad, surprise and happy birthday (the party's not until next weekend).

I was down at my dad's house last weekend with Beth being down at Dallas (awesome job down there!!!!--8th elite amateur), so I didn't get my usual weekend blogging in. We'll be off to Phoenix for Beth's Best of the US race at the end of the month.

The XC season's winding down. We have one last tune up this thursday and then districts next thursday. The top 4 teams go to states and I think the guys have a good shot and the girls have a realistic shot assuming nobody has a bad day (the girls are only 6 deep in quality).

I was at a College Fair on Wednesday night representing Elizabethtown College as an alumni rep.

I had some good workouts this week. We had a 6x800 workout where I went 2:25, 2:27, 2:35, 2:37, 2:35, 2:35 (by design -- shorter rest for the last four). We did some 200's on Thursday to start sharpening up the kids for the home stretch.

I signed up for a half marathon on the heels of my successful 10k a few weeks back. This is a race on our rails to trails up in Freeport that Beth and I usually run on Sundays. It's point to point, so another downhill race. I like that idea of going downhill, I guess! I've never run a half marathon (a couple of 10 milers and 2 marathons, so I guess this will be a PR assuming I beat my half marathon splits).

In the Baseball Playoffs, sorry to Jen Harrison's Cubs. I thought they were in good shape to go far in the playoffs, but what's another year when you've already waited 100 for a world series championship? Not that the Pirates are in much better shape as they WILL (not might) set the record for most consecutive losing seasons by a US professional franchise next summer. Since the Cubs are out, we're pulling for the Rays after our trips down there November 07 and April 08. Boston's a good choice, too, since Jason Bay's there. But, there's always the Phillies--they're a gritty, hard-nosed team and we enjoyed our stay there this summer when Beth did the Philly tri.

Penn State has a tough game tomorrow up at Wisconsin. This is their tough stretch to see if they're for real or not. The badgers are a good running team, so we'll see if the D-line holds up. And, I have to give it to Pitt for upsetting USF, but I'll be surprised if Pitt doesn't trip over themselves at some point over the next month. We'll see.

Okay, time to get to bed, but hopefully more blogging in the near future.