Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 High's

On to my favorite part--the great parts of the year. It's hard to pare it down to just a few items, so I made a couple of the items run-on's:

#3: The internet phenomenons of blogs and facebook. I started my blog back in March and got onto Facebook in November. Both have been so great for reconnecting with old friends from high school and college and for making new friends that I would have never made otherwise.

#2: A pretty good PR year: From doing my first ever triathlon to running some times I would have never imagined possible. Almost getting under 18:00 in a 5k in May, 35:07 10k at the Great Race, and 1:19 at the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. Hopefully I didn’t peak and I push my limits even further in 2009.

#1: All the great experiences of places and people on Beth’s various triathlon trips. I’m a geography and sports nut, so I just enjoyed so many things:

- Chicago for Jen Harrison’s triathlon camp in January. We met Jen, had a chance to see where Willow Creek Community Church is, and was reintroduced to Little Caesar’s.

- St. Petersburg for St. Anthony’s in April. Seeing the Tampa Bay, seeing spring training facilities and Tropicana Field, visiting the University of South Florida campus, …

- Columbia, Maryland in May. I get to see my sister and my mom joins us for the trip. Also, I jumped a fence that day.

- Black Bear Triathlon in Lehighton, PA in June. I now know where Lehighton and Jim Thorpe are. We saw Maija again and had a birthday lunch for Beth at Red Robin.

- Philadelphia Triathlon in June– Hanging out in downtown Philly. Who knew a place as beautiful as Fairmont Park could exist in a place like Philly? It was such a beautiful setting. We hung out with Maija (again!!) and Lindsey Zemba and her boyfriend and Kim and Kyle.

- NYC Triathlon in July– I was overwhelmed going into it, but really loved the city and the layout of the streets. Driving past the Meadowlands, staying in Secaucus, going through the Lincoln Tunnel, Central Park, the great lunch at Teleon CafĂ© (162 W 56th St), seeing Maija (again!!!), and seeing Beth’s really good friend MB who lives outside of Pittsburgh but was on her way home from France visiting some people in NYC. This is also where my mom signed me up for a raffle and I won a free pair of racing flats.

- Back to Steelhead in Michigan in August. Pretty drive, pretty Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, Beth had a bad day and the 10-foot waves really scared me, but we had a good time relaxing on the beach the day after the race. (Do I always squint in pictures like this?!?!?)

-SheRox in Charlotte in September– A quick little weekend excursion down I-77. Beth won the race! We had a chance to drive past Davidson, see downtown Charlotte and the Carolina Panther’s Stadium (whatever it’s called now)

- BOUS in Tempe in October – We had a chance to see my aunt, my parents made the trip out, we made lots of new friends going out to dinner with them at MacAyo’s Mexican Restaurant, I saw a friend (and wife & kid) from high school who lives out in Chandler, and I took this awesome picture that I now have as my background on my laptop.

-Also throw in trips to Altoona for Minor League Baseball, Shippensburg for the State Track Meet, Hershey for the State Cross Country meet, and PNC Park for All you can eat seats!

So this is where 2008 ends and where 2009 picks up. I hope everybody has a great New Year's Celebration and a great start o 2009. Go PSU!

2008 High's and Low's

In a tradition unlike any other, Beth's dad always asks us each year for our high's and low's for the year. It's a great chance to take stock of the year and to look forward to the next year. So, without further ado, here it goes.

The Low’s are always tough for me to think about because I’m a mostly glass-half-full type of guy. It’s MUCH easier to ramble off a bunch of High’s from the year. But, after thinking through them here are the Low’s (saving the best—the High’s—for last)

#3: Sports teams having good years, but coming up short (Steelers' inability to tackle Garrard in the playoff game, Pens' flop in Stanley Cup Finals, Davidson missing a 3-pointer to go to the final four, the Pirates--ugh….)

#2: The four week span right after Thanksgiving where it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
-It started with the speeding ticket in WV on the way back up from Thanksgiving at Becky’s
-Then, hitting a rock on Route 28 and damaging TWO rims on the passenger side on the way to choir practice
-Finishing dealing with a school discipline situation with some students

-My grandma being in and out of the hospital with complications from back surgery
-And, finally, the most persistent congestion I’ve ever had that just wouldn’t go away for this entire time period.

#1: The biggest low is certainly the passing of Beth’s grandmother from cancer. She was such a great person in so many ways and we certainly miss her.

I'll start a new post for the highs. Stay tuned....

Monday, December 29, 2008

That was DON'T get hurt, Steelers. Yoi!

My final line of the blog Sunday morning before church:

Go Steelers (even though today is meaningless)...don't get hurt, Steelers!

Yoi and Double Yoi! The Steelers won a meaningless game 31-0, but Big Ben got concussed--big time. Beth and I actually missed the play as we were both out cold during our nap. When we woke up we saw Big Ben getting taken off the field on a stretcher and were trying to figure out what the heck happened. It sounds like it was a mild(er) concussion (if getting your brain tossed around can be mild) and he could/should be ready for the playoffs.

You know what, it's part of the game, though. It was still the first half and you've got to get them some work and it's not like college where you have almost 100 guys on the roster. SOMEBODY has to play. The only concern I had was that Hines Ward and Willie Parker were still playing in the 4th quarter. Regardless, hopefully everybody's okay by January 11th.

It was a pretty fun day of football. Lots of games with playoff implications. The Jets and Dolphins game was fun to watch--especially the Dolphin's version of the "Wildcat" where the running back takes the direct snap and the quarterback is split out wide. I wonder if Baltimore will be able to shut it down. Sorry to Jen Harrison's Bears. That was a shame that they couldn't pull out the win since the other things they needed to happen to make the playoffs ended up panning out.

Here, there, and everywhere...
Having the week off of school means that I have errands to run. It was a full day today. I swam at the YMCA (500 wu, 400-300-200, 250 cd for 1650 yd total), then went to track practice at 9am and worked on the box routine with the sprinters/jumpers. After this, I stopped by and visited my grandma (hoping she gets out of the hospital soon!!!). I ate a quick lunch with my Pappap and aunt and then came back up home to meet with the insurance agent.

Our insurance agent retired last year, so we were transferred to this new person close to our house. She's nice and was very helpful today as she reviewed our policy (home and car). Two hours later, we came to the conclusion that we'll make one small change and the rest of the stuff isn't really appropriate right now. Oh well. We did look into if we could take out a zero deductible on sports equipment (aka Beth's bikes), but that didn't work out. Turns out in the fine print it's only for things like golf clubs and other things that don't have wheels.

After a short stop at home to feed and let out Roxy the Dog, off to the bank to look at setting up a savings account and look into setting up an account for Beth's business. Pretty successful there. There's this cool thing that our bank offers now called the Virtual Wallet. I've seen commercials for it on TV and it looks interesting.

My final stop was the grocery store--Lots of good deals.

Thus ends my exciting day of errands. Tomorrow, my dad's going to come up after morning track practice and we're going to try to knock out a few items around the house. The best part is I think we're going to get a Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready Pizza for lunch before we start working. Talk about incentive to work!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where Did I Wake Up?

I saw the weather reports, but I was skeptical. But, on Saturday morning I woke up and it was indeed 60 degrees. I walked Roxy in shorts and it was just a marvelous day as the temperature almost hit 70 degrees! This must be what it's like in December to live in Phoenix, Durham, Tampa, Hilton Head, or some of the other places we've visited this year. But, you know what, I like the seasons and I like where we're at (most of the time). I can't really see us moving.

This morning, Beth and I got in a 1:40 (12+ mi) run. We got in the run before the cold front reached us. Now, it's crazy windy out there and the lights keep in flickering. It's 65 degrees now, but is going down into the 40's later today. This was the longest run that I've done since the half marathon in October. I'll probably feel it tomorrow. Yesterday morning, I did 10x100yd all under 2:00 in the pool....VERY slowly making improvements in the pool.

It was a pretty nice Christmas as we did Greensburg with my family on Christmas Day and Friday went down to Uniontown to see Beth's grandfather and family. My grandma's still in the hospital--still having issues from her back surgery. They're hoping to get her back out of the hospital next week. I was able to go in and visit her on Friday.

My big gift for 2008 was a new video game--Madden 08. I like getting them when they're a year old because then they only cost $10 instead of $40. I haven't had a game system since the Playstation (1) and just buy PC games for my laptop. I was sad to hear that EA sports decided to discontinue the Madden series for PC's (of course it will continue on Wii, PS3,XBox, ...). I'll have to move on to another sport or something.

Back in the day in high school I would play sports video games for an hour or two a day and just play whatever sport it was depending on the season (football, basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer). In college it continued, but I would go in spurts depending how much work I had to do for school. Now I go on infrequent binges. I played some video games in the summer, but once school and XC started up I didn't play any all fall. Then, in November I had some time and played a little. Now, over Christmas I have some time and will probably go on a multiple-hour binge at some point this week (but I do have a list of to-do items I need to get done this week). Once we get rolling in January with indoor track meets and all I probably won't play many games again until Memorial Day.

Well, off to continue the usual Sunday routine--run, church, lunch, nap,...

Go Steelers (even though today is meaningless)...don't get hurt, Steelers!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve!

This is a great time of the year! A little break from school, time to see family, lots of good eats, and of course the celebration of the birth of Jesus! I always reflect back to high school when my pastor had a message where he talked about how an all-powerful God could have brought Jesus into the world as any type of conqueror. But, instead he chose to bring in Jesus as an innocent, defenseless, cute baby, born in the humblest of settings. That just always amazes me. Merry Christmas indeed to all.

We'll be going to Greensburg to spend time with my family on Christmas and then down to Uniontown to see Beth's grandfather & uncle & family on Friday. I hope the weather cooperates to make travel stress-free. My grandma is back in the hospital again and it doesn't look like she'll get out today, so that's a bummer that she'll be in the hospital for Christmas. As last time, she's in the hospital one mile from where I teach (and 40 miles from where my family lives), so it's unfortunate for my family to have to navigate the Squirrel Hill AND Fort Pitt Tunnels each way. But, I'm glad I can just swing by on my way home after practice each day.

I'm getting behind on my sports updates, but here's some quick hitters:
*On Saturday, Davidson got humbled at Purdue. I saw the score was 21-0 on ESPN's website scoreboard and thought it was a malfunction like they sometimes have. Nope. It was 21-0 and 76-58 by the end. Stephen Curry had a bad day. Coach McKillop said he needs to figure out between now and March how to get more balanced and take some of the pressure off of Curry. Good luck.

*Also on Saturday, Beth and I watched the PSU women's volleyball team sweep Stanford 3-0 in the NCAA Championship. It was exciting to hear the announcers say things like "best team ever" and "all six starters All-Americans" about Penn State. I guess you can argue considering they only dropped two SETS the ENTIRE YEAR--and those two were in the semi's on Thursday night in front of 17,000 Nebraska fans. I also noticed that volleyball players can sure jump and repeatedly jump. I'm going to look into some of the volleyball drills and see if I can transfer them to my jumpers.

*On Sunday, the Steelers got humbled in Tennessee. Considering as bad as they played to only be down 10 in the 4th quarter is impressive. The INT return for the TD at the end made it look uglier, but that's okay. The Steelers are still the #2 seed and still get a bye and a home game. And, maybe it's better to be on the road for the AFC championship game. I have many bad memories from 1994 (SD), 1997 (DEN), and 2001 (NE).

*Penn State beat up on big bad Sacred Heart on Sunday. When do they play anybody tough? They're 11-2 and haven't played any big names except Temple (loss) and Georgia Tech (tried to lose at the end). Big Ten play starts after Christmas, so we'll see what they're made of then.

*On Monday, the Pirates signed Ryan Doumit to a 3 year deal with an option for two more years. It shows commitment on both ends. The Pirates are putting in some money on a guy who's a true leader and put up good numbers last year after showing potential (yet injuries too) over the previous few years. The Pirates are gambling that Doumit's going to stay healthy and productive.

*On Tuesday, Arizona beat up on Kansas in the 2nd half and ended up winning 84-67. I was fighting to stay up until halftime last night (around 11pm) and it was 38-35 Kansas. But, the Wildcats outscored the Jayhawks by 20 in the 2nd half. I have to tell you, with the interim coach, I see a little more emphasis on pressure defense. They could possibly stay in my favorite teams category, but they're still on probation. Jordan Hill is turning into a beast and Budinger is solid. I have to find out more about Horne, Johnson, and Fogg once football season is over.


Friday, December 19, 2008

That Liar the Weatherman...

The head track/XC coach where I am an assistant always uses the phrase, "That liar the weatherman says it's going to be (hot/cold/rainy/snow/...fill in the blank), but make sure you pack appropriately so you're prepared for anything."

Well, that liar the weatherman (aka the National Weather Service branch based in Pittsburgh, PA) hasn't had too good of a track record so far this winter season. Up to this point, there have been FOUR Winter Weather Advisories issues. Total amount of snow: maybe 1 or 2 inches.....TOTAL from all the storms. In other words, 0 for 4 on predicting major winter weather for the Pittsburgh area.

Now I know that it's better to be safe than sorry, but come on! 0 for 4? Take this morning, for instance. Yesterday I get on the weather channel's website to see what the temperature was for track practice and I see this WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY predicting sleet, freezing rain, and a few inches of snow between the hours of 1AM and 11AM Friday morning.

I'm excited thinking that this is the perfect time for a delay to be called. So, I get up at 4:45am (skeptical that there will be bad weather) to walk Roxy before swimming and THE GROUND IS NOT EVEN WET YET! By the time I left for swimming/school at 5:15am, it had started raining, but was 35 or so degrees and getting warmer, so no chance of snow. Now, granted, it did rain cats and dogs here today until after lunch and I know places where it was colder like north of I-80 (among other parts of the country like Jen H in Chicago and Maija in NJ/NY) got hit pretty good with this storm. But, come on! This Pittsburgh National Weather Service needs to work on fine-tuning their weather models.

I think part of the frustration comes from the fact that I consider myself an amateur weatherman. Back in high school, I could watch the weather channel for 30-60 minutes at a time. I loved geography and also was interested in the weather. Now, I serve as Beth's weatherman, letting her know when is the best time to run or ride a bike when rain storms come our way.

I even had a chance to live out my dream of being a weatherman when I was at Elizabethtown College (I did a 3-2 dual undergraduate engineering program between Etown and PSU--long story). At Etown, they had a student-run television station ECTV40 and produced a daily 5pm newscast. This newscast was mostly national news stories with footage in from CNN, but there was also a sports segment and a weather segment.

My freshman year I lived on a floor with mostly older communications majors who were involved in the ECTV news production one way or another (producer, director, camera-person, anchor, teleprompter operator) and they had a Monday weatherman opening. I told them about my high school "weather background" and got the gig.

It was pretty fun, I got to even stand with my sportscoat and tie in front of the green wall and look off at a monitor and point to places on the national weather map. I have a VCR tape of it still--I'll have to look into if I can somehow transfer it digitally and then post it on youtube or something like that. (As a side note, I also had the opportunity to be a football, basketball, and baseball TV and radio broadcaster on ECTV and WWEC 88.3 FM....not bad for an engineering major....advantage of going to a small school first before Penn State).

Other than that, not much going on here.....especially weather-wise!!!!!. Here's the quick training summary:

Wed - Boxes workout with the sprinters
Thu - 6 mi distance
Fri - AM swim (2 sets of 200-100-100-50-50) and PM 7+ mi run in BEAUTIFUL 50 degree weather--I wore shorts!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Attacked by Flipper

You've heard of people being attacked by a shark? How about Flipper? No, not flipper the dolphin, but rather flipper the fin that I used when I do the morning swim at school.

The big boys were doing this crazy 4x200-100-100 workout and Ben and I decided to try to hang with them...of course with fins. Because of the intervals, my sets were more like 400's, but that's okay--it'll make me better. At some point during the second or third set, I felt some serious rub on a couple of my toes on my right foot.

By the end of the third set, I had to take the fins off because my foot was nearly burning. After finishing out the workout, I noticed that I was missing some skin on the top of the two toes. Ouch. So, I get up to my room and put some band-aids on and go about my day at school.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I run with the distance guys (M-W-F conditioning inside with the sprinters). The coach asked if I wanted to go with the "big dogs" today and I figured why not since I'm getting the chance to recover from road runs for a day. Also, I know that I can hang with the top guys in the middle of December....not so much in October or April & May. We had a nice crisp 6+ mile run...well, a run for them more like a tempo workout for me. There was a little of snow on the sidewalks, but not too bad.

Nice win for the Steelers Sunday--another of the come from behind variety. I'm not convinced that Holmes got the ball in the endzone, but I'll take it. Up this week is a game at Tennessee. If the Steelers win and then finish off the season with a win against the Brownies, they'll be the #1 seed in the AFC East. We'll see what happens. One game at a time.

One final note, I'm excited about Beth's venture into the small business world. She's starting a nutrition counseling business. She's got lots of great experience in nutrition and athletic competition, so it's a perfect fit. It was fun seeing her back in August speaking to the XC teams--she's going to do great. So, if you or anyone you know is interested in Nutrition Counseling, get in touch with Beth.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Watch Retirement, Workouts, Heisman, PSU & Pirates Updates

After nearly 2.5 years, my watch is on its last legs. Since the end of the summer it has been sometimes been acting up a little bit in terms of a fading display. So, back in August, I bought the replacement (exact same watch--I'm a creature of habit) and was just waiting for the old one to kick the bucket.

But, on Friday morning after swimming, I noticed that the outer cover on the face had popped off. This was the final straw, so I decided to retire it in the drawer as an emergeny backup and break out the new one.

This watch has been a good one for me over the last few years. It joined me about the same time I was hired at my current school and is the one that accompanied me on my 2nd marathon & training in the fall of 2006. It's also been around to capture some 5k, 10k, and half marathon PR's in the past two years. And, it's been on my new swimming, biking, and triathlon ventures over the past year.

It's been a good watch, but I've got a replacement so...not really a big deal. The new watch will now be along for the ride. Moving on....

Beth's riding her bike (inside) this morning and then we're heading over to the Y for swimming.

This week marked an upward turn in my training as I'm getting back into the swing of things (and I'm healthy again):
Sun- 1:20 on the roads with Beth (it got a little snowy at the end)
Mon- Box workout with the sprinters/jumpers
Tue- 5 miles on the road with the distance guys
Wed- AM swim (50yd repeats)
Thu- 6 miles on the road in the distance guys in a NASTY 35 degree raining downpour
Fri- AM swim (800yd wu, 2 x 400 yd, then 100yd in 1:26......with flippers...); Box workout with the sprinters/jumpers PM

The Heisman Trophy award is tonight. I'm not a big follower of individual awards, but there's a couple of interesting story lines tonight.
First, of the three Big12 QB's with big stats who led their teams to one-loss seasons, only two were invited to the presentation along with Florida's Tim Tebow. The Heisman committee cited that they always invite 3 to 6 players, based on the final votes and just look for a natural break in the voting (as suggested statistically by an accounting firm). I'll be interested to see how far back Harrell (from Texas Tech) was in 4th and how close 5th place was to him (and who 5th place was).

The other story is that Tebow (only a junior) has a chance to be a repeat winner for only the second time in the history of the award. That in itself isn't all that interesting to me. But, his story and how he wears on his eye black the phrase "PHIL" "4:13" which is Philippians 4:13 from the Bible stating, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." That's a neat testimony and witness to give credit to God in a sports culture that really emphasizes ME (see the TO-Romo continuing saga in Dallas).
Since PSU isn't in the national championship, I'll be rooting for Tebow.....by the way, can we somehow work out a playoff for the Division IA Championship? That will have to be a blog post for a slow day. I've got a few good ideas in my head.

I was sad to see backup redshirt sophomore QB Pat Devlin is going to transfer. He had a great 2nd half in the OSU game to lead them to victory when Clark got his bell rung. Clark is back for another year, so Devlin would only have one year as the starter after that. I understand his reasoning, but think that it's not the best decision to go to Division I-AA for two years versus starting at PSU for only one year. Plus, who's to say that Clark wouldn't get hurt at some point next year.

I think that he chose the worse path as far as marketing himself for the NFL. He's probably thinking he could be like Joe Flacco (from Univ of Delaware after transferring from Pitt) and his success this year with the Ravens, but I think that was a unique situation. Either way, good luck.

Here's a quick summary from the last week:

-The Pirates tried to trade Jack Wilson (only because he has one of the higher salaries on the team), but were unsuccessful. I'm kind of glad. As we saw last April, there is no good replacement at SS currently in the system. Wilson's offense leaves something to be desired for his price tag, but his defensive excellence and leadership should count for something. I'm glad that they didn't settle for some poor return in a trade just to move Wilson.

-The Pirates picked up a guy by the name of Donald Veal from the Chicago Cubs roster in the Rule 5 draft. The Pirates have to keep him in the major leagues all year or else they have to give him back to the Cubs. He's a big lefty who has some velocity (low 90's). I guess he was highly regarded in the Cubs system in 2007, but then had a bad 2008. We'll see how it turns out--it was a pretty low risk roster move that could have upside.

-No big free agent signings. Just the signing of 32 year old Ramon Vazquez. I have to admit I've never heard of him, which is saying a lot for a big baseball fan like me. I guess he's supposed to be a utility player backing up the infield spots. We'll see how it goes.

-This has the potential to be a LOOOOOOOONG baseball season....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You have got to be kidding me.....

....I muttered as I collected myself from just hitting a rock on the highway at 65-70 mph and hear the flat on the front right tire. Now, 24 hours later, it at least makes a semi-entertaining blog post.

I was on my way to choir practice (our last tuneup before the big day on Sunday). To get to the church, I jump on the highway, go up one exit, and go over to the church. All of 7-8 minutes and 4.64 miles according to yahoo maps. I just got on the highway, passed one car and was making my way back over to the right lane.

Just at that exact location on the highway as I'm changing lanes the right side of my car hit what appeared to me to be a big rock--I'm guessing a little smaller than a bowling ball? That I bump over. I first think uh oh hope I didn't hurt anything, but then felt the car pulling and could feel it bumping up and down like a flat. So, I pull off to the side of the highway.

It's dark, it's a light drizzle, and....I don't have my cellphone. As I was leaving, I figured I didn't need it since I was just going 5 miles up the road and I was annoyed that everybody at our practice on Sunday was getting text updates of the Steelers game (Can't they wait until they get home or on the radio on the drive home??!?!).

So, I thought for a few seconds to just run home (less than 2 miles if I cut over the hill and back through some neighborhoods and I had my track stuff on from practice still). But then, I realized that the car would still be there.

Next, I begin to change the tire. I pull out the trunk items and take out the spare, jack, and wrench. I had the car jacked up just high enough to begin work on taking off the tire when a car pulls up behind me and stops. It turned out to be a state trooper--how lucky was I. I don't know if somebody called seeing my car on the side of the road or if the trooper was just patrolling the area, but I sure was thankful to only be out there without communication for only 10-15 minutes!

He comes over with his flashlight and observed that my rear right tire was ALSO flat. I said, "Are you serious?" because I was so focused on the front that I didn't even look back at the rear. He phoned a towing service and the car was taken on a flat bed up to a tire place up in town. The guy from the towing place was really helpful and even dropped me off at home after we dropped off the car (about a mile away). My great co-worker B was nice enough to come up and pick me up this morning (25 minutes total backtracking) and take me home. Thanks a bunch! He mentioned to me last night that I was fortunate to not lose control of the car and crash. When he puts it that way, I guess I should feel more blessed than angered at the damage & cost (...keep reading...) for the wheels.

So, I spoke to the VERY friendly and helpful people at Highland Tire (voted 1993 -2007 Valley News Dispatch Readers Poll: "BEST PLACE TO BUY TIRES" and now I know why) and he helped me figure out the damage and cost. It turned out that BOTH the front AND rear wheel rims were dented due to the rock....bummer. But at least he had the parts in stock, so it could be repaired within a few hours.

When Beth talked to the service rep later in the day, he said that he has observed a handful of similar incidents and said that it could be due to something about a seam in the highway expanding and loosening parts of the highway (thus the rock). He suggested we contact PennDOT to see if there's anything that they can do to help (because total bill = almost $400...ugh!!!).

So, that was my exciting evening yesterday. I'm hoping for an uneventful weekend coming up. It's been a crazy couple of weeks--grandma in the hospital for back surgery a month ago (and back in now for a follow-up surgery due to "leakage"), a couple of incidents of behavior of students at school, getting a speeding ticket in WV on the way back up from NC at Thanksgiving, being really stuffy/sick for over a week, and now this. I'm ready for an uneventful week...other than celebrating the great events of Christmas and having a chance to sing and celebrate Jesus' birth!

By the way, little news on the Pirates this offseason, but the Owners' meetings were in Las Vegas this week and they made a couple of moves. I'll get around to mentioning that this weekend.

Have a great weekend, all!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend Wrapup

I'll try to get this in here before The Big Bang Theory starts. It's the only non-sports-event show of the entire week I'll actually try to set aside time to watch. I don't know what it is about those crazy physicists, but they just crack me up (sometimes leaving me gasping for air I'm laughing so hard!)

Here's some quick hits:

-Big win for the Steelers yesterday. Not a must-win, but it's nice to stay ahead of Baltimore because they somehow keep winning with a rookie quarterback and no big names on offense. This weekend, the Steelers are in Baltimore. If the Steelers win, they win the AFC North Division and are looking good for a 1st round bye.

-I actually missed the 4th quarter since I was at choir practice (big Christmas music extravaganza this Sunday), but everybody was getting text updates and passing info along between every song. I wonder if that ever happens in actual church out on the west coast when their team is on the east coast and playing an early game. That would be like 9am for people in California....

-PSU is off to the Rose Bowl as expected against USC. I'm glad that PSU didn't have to face Oregon State again--been there, done that (and crushed them). USC is playing as well as anybody in the country and it'll be a fun traditional Rose Bowl matchup. It really doesn't mean anything other than bragging rights (playoff, anybody??), but it'll be a fun game to watch. Also, I heard JoePa say that he's doing well and hopes to be back on the sideline for that game.

-Speaking of college football playoffs, it's going to be Oklahoma vs Florida. I fell asleep for most of the 2nd half of the OU game, but I guess they took care of business. Now the Alabama-Florida game, I was able to catch most of that. Let me tell you, THAT was a true college football matchup of two GREAT teams. That was such a well-played game (unlike many of the games we're forced to watch from the Big East here in Pittsburgh). If I recall, I believe I labelled the Pitt-WVU game a comedy of errors...

-I've mentioned this once before, but ESPN.com did a neat job with a concept and allowing it to develop with the Kathryn Bertine experiment of becoming an Olympian. It appears that she wrote her final installment for espn.com, and it was a neat story about how she competed in the 2008 World Championships for cycling. She also mentioned that she was at another world championship in Vancouver (her father competed as a 70+ year old at the triathlon world championships). I think what I really liked about the series was how she was a pretty talented athlete, but just pushed herself to such high limits and reached so many goals (....kind of like Beth!). I hope that she can continue to train and maybe have a shot at qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London.

-#22 Davidson had a nice win against NC State over the weekend. Stephen Curry was himself and they got the job done against the bigger Wolfpack squad. Davidson is still going to play WVU, Purdue, and Duke before getting to their SoCon schedule. They play sound defense and I hope they have another great year. They must have a lot of confidence after being a missed 3-pointer away from making the final 4. Penn State, they're just hoping to be respectable. But, I guess you have to start somewhere. Arizona? They lost against Texas A&M. I'll be honest (and Beth can attest to it), I've grown tired of Arizona's style of play over the last couple of years. It's painful to watch how they just chuck it up and play half-hearted defense. I'll reserve any rash decisions until I'll see who the next coach will be to replace Lute Olson, but I just might jump off that Arizona Wildcat bandwagon. We shall see..

Workouts this weekend:
Sat - Pool workout (400,300,200,100)
Sun - 1:20 run with Beth (Brrr!)
Mon - Box (stepper) workout with the jumpers/sprinters

I'm scheduled to go swimming before school tomorrow with the teachers and then run with the distance guys at practice tomorrow. I hear it may be close to 50 degrees! I'll take rain if that's what it takes to be 50!!!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back from the Dead....I Mean the Cold

One may think that I haven't blogged this week out of protest for having to come back to the cold western PA weather after a great weekend in NC. Or, one may have just written off my lack of blogging as the usual non-weekday pattern I sometimes get into.

However, it was something else--a rare cold that had me beat down all week. I don't get sick often--sometimes I'll go a whole year without anything more than the sniffles. I felt great down in NC, but by Sunday night I could tell something was brewing. Fortunately, it just stayed in my nose-sinus-throat area. Unfortunately, it hung around until pretty much today. I was faced with some tough (not really) decisions on whether or not to take sick days. It went something like this:

Tuesday--Can't take that off, it's the first day back from break. I have nothing prepared for the kids. Also, it's the FIRST day of winter/indoor track practice. I can't miss that! So, I toughed it out even though I really couldn't talk too well with the clog in my throat. By the end of the day, I started to feel a little better, so I even participated in some agility drills with the jumpers & sprinters. BAD IDEA! I got home, ate dinner, cleaned up after dinner, and went right to bed shivering and unable to breathe for the next three or four hours. I thought, "If I feel anything like this in the morning, no way I'm going to school." However....

Wednesday--Can't take that off, we have a math dept meeting after school. I actually missed one last year due to sickness. I didn't want to give off an appearance of conveniently being sick on days when we have (sometimes boring) department meetings. Fortunately, I felt a little better and toughed out another day. I went to choir practice Wednesday night, but was sucking down water and blowing my nose in between every song. I was having no problem getting the low notes, but those high ones were a little tricky and screechy. So, ...

Thursday--Maybe stay home to regroup? But I was starting to feel better and able to breathe at around 60% nasal capacity. I participated in most of track practice and felt like I was turning the corner. I was still stuffy, though, and it completely took all taste and flavor out of the best night of the week--DiGiorno Pizza Night.

Friday--This would have been a good way to start the weekend.....but I was feeling better. In fact, so good that I went to the school's adult/masters/teachers/whatever-you-want-to-call-it swim workout (more on that later). Track practice went well (5 miles on the roads) and now I'm still blowing my nose every once in a while, but my head feels a lot better.

I swam twice this week--Monday and Friday. The first once was at the precipice of the cold and I swam a very lackluster 1650 yd time. But, I at least put the time in and it'll pay off down the road. Today, Ben and I did 2 x (5 x 100) on 2:00 with 1:00 rest in between sets. That's the fastest I've ever done that many hundreds (ranging from 1:50-1:59+), but I need to credit Ben with most of the effort because I knew I still wasn't quite 100%. So, I just hung on his feet as best as I could each time.

At the end of our last hundred, Jon (assistant swim coach/science teacher/fellow triathlete) said, "Why don't you guys now try an all out 100 now?" I kind of laughed, but then realized that he was serious. I'm still trying to figure out this whole swim workout thing. It's different than running training--especially that whole idea of holding or minimizing your breaths while swimming really hard!!! Anyway, most of the other people had left, so I moved over a lane (so as not to leech off of Ben anymore).

We took off and I was with Ben through the 50, but I ran out of gas. He ended up at an AWESOME 1:31. I ended up at a near-PR 1:44. I'll take that at the end of 10 hard 100's, being sick, and remembering that I hadn't cracked 2:00 yet at this point last year.

Okay, that's long enough for one blog. Lots of sports-related items to write about this weekend: PSU & the Rose Bowl, Steelers-Cowboys, all the college BCS-implicating games, Plax, PSU hoops big (sort of) win, ..... the list goes on and on!