Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Highs and Lows

In the Buchheit family tradition, below are my 2009 highs and lows. Last year's are listed here.

This was a pretty good year. Beth and I are fortunate in that no immediate people near us were greatly affected by the downturn in the economy and had any job losses. If anything, it's been exciting to see Beth's business grow. So, without further ado....

2009 Lows
It was tough to think back on down stuff, but I guess here's a few disappointments:

3. My nasty ankle sprain costing me a race back at the end of February.

2. Church attendance & involvement - with all of our travels, it limits our Sunday mornings at our home church. We'll listen to podcasts of various services throughout the year, but it's just not the sames as interacting with fellow believers on a Sunday morning.

1. My blowup at the Philly marathon. Just a little too greedy in the first half, but lots of lessons learned for the next one.

2009 Highs

3. Being part of starting a business. It's exciting to see where Beth's business venture, The Athlete's Eutrophia LLC, is a year later and glad that she hasn't fired me from my self proclaimed job titles of CFO, IT Specialist, and Business Manager.

2. The trip down to HHI for Christmas

1. This is kind of cheating, but the 12-week stretch starting the last week of September with a college fair and Beth's BOUS race up through Foot Lockers in San Diego on December 12th where I/we had some great experiences, new experiences, and once-in-a-decade experiences going on just about every weekend:

Sep 23: College Fair for Etown at WCCC
Sep 25-28: BOUS for Beth in California - Beth finished 4th, Beth's mom made the trip, and Mission Viejo was a beautiful area
Oct 4: First ever Steelers game - Great time with T&K and the Steelers beat the Chargers
Oct 10: First PSU game since college - albeit against a Div 1-AA opponent E. Illinois, but a fun time with B
Oct 13: LaRoche College Fair for Etown - got to show a fellow Etown alum (and former runner) the ropes
Oct 17: Buffalo Creek Half Marathon - 3rd place and 1:16:32
Nov 1: Big Tens XC Championship at PSU - PSU women won their first championship and I got a sweet PSU longsleeve at the alumni get together
Nov 7: PIAA XC meet in Hershey - our runner finished 2nd in the state and I swung by Etown to visit J&A and the kids
Nov 12-15: IM 70.3 Championships in Clearwater for Beth - podium finish for Beth and fun time with Beth's parents
Nov 22: Philly Marathon for me - good learning experience...great time through 14 miles!!!
Nov 25: Thanksgiving

Dec 12: Foot Locker National XC Championships in San Diego - Thanks to Marit and Nate for hosting me for the weekend.

Other than some lack of sleep since September (of which I caught up on over Thanksgiving and down in HHI), what a great finish to 2009. Here's looking forward to a super 2010.

Have a great New Year's and talk to you all next year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The HHI Cycle

Things have been great here on the island. Our daily routine has been something like the following:

*Wake Up
*Feed & Walk Dog
*Eat
*Swim
*Run
*Eat
*Shower
*Nap or afternoon activity (movie/dog/scrabble/etc)
*Eat
*Scrabble
*More eating
*Go to bed

I sure like it! Beth's sister and husband were here also, so we had some good times. They brought their Wii, so we were introduced to MarioKart and WiiSports. Very fun. Inspired by this, we also went bowling. Turns out it's harder in real life than on the game. The ball is much heavier than the controller and it just doesn't go in a straight line like on the game. I probably hadn't bowled in 4 or so years and it sure showed.

Finally, by our third and final game, I was starting to hit my stride. I started with a strike and spare and was on a roll hitting my mark and striking the head pin. All about repeatable motion (just like softball pitching). Then, it was 9pm and the place all of the sudden became filled with black lights, videos of 80's big hair bands, and.....did I mention it was dark? GLOW BOWLING!! I couldn't see my marks anymore. That's of course why I didn't get my 200....or perhaps just because I'm not good at making the ball hit the head pin.

Roxy's enjoying herself. Lots of new smells for her. She was hanging out with B&D's dog and they sort of got along, but mostly coexisted. Only a few barking matches and teeth shown. I think she likes the beach, but is a little unsure of the water. When we got here on Thursday, she was beat and slept the rest of the day.

We sure have been eating a lot of great food thanks to Mom B. She sure knows how to roll out a platter. All I know is that it's a good thing I've been doing two workouts a day with Beth or I may have put on 10 pounds this week! One of our meals was calzones from a great italian place called Mangiamo's. It is the island home for the Ohio State Buckeye alumni. As you can see from the picture from their website, it is decked out in red. It wasn't planned, but I ended up wearing a Penn State shirt. I hope they didn't spit in our food.

We saw "Up in the Air" with George Clooney today. Based on the previews, I was surprised it was rated R. After seeing it, I was disappointed that the producers felt they had to make it an R movie because making it a PG-13 would not have changed the story one bit. Take out the one scene of the un-clothed female and the 20 f-bombs and it's a PG-13 movie. Why do directors/producers feel the need to do that? Anyway, that's another discussion for another day. I thought the movie was interesting in that it makes the viewer think about priorities with jobs, family, relationships, and time away from home. Very interesting things to think about and makes me glad I have a job where I don't need to travel much. The lead person's job was that he worked for a firm that was contracted to go to companies to inform people they have been fired and provide consulting. That aspect of the movie reconfirmed my satisfaction of moving away from the industrial engineering corporate world of efficiency and streamlining companies to the "industry" of working with students and athletes every day.


As one of our Christmas gifts, we got a new digital camera that is waterproof. We tried it out at the pool and it worked. Sure seemed weird to take the camera under the water.

One more day here and then on the road on Wednesday morning to make it back home. Hopefully there's not too much snow in West Virginia as we make our trek back northward. Below is a shot of Lake Norman near Davidson, NC on I-77 on our way down.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Countdown to SC; My Christmas Playlist

It is down to mere hours before the end of the school day on Wednesday and we begin our trek southward to Beth's parent's place on HHI. I'm looking forward to getting out of the cold and snow....although I guess I was out of it just a few weekends ago in SD.

We're splitting the trip up in to two parts since we won't be leaving until after school. Part 1 is to get down to Virginia by Wednesday night and then finish the trip on Thursday in plenty of time for dinner and the Christmas Eve service. Looks like it's going to be nice weather for heading down. Roxy's making the trip with us too, so that always adds and interesting dimension. It's fun to be able to take her since usually we're dropping her off at my parent's so we don't have to worry about the dog on a race weekend.

Down in SC we're planning lots of rest, scrabble (anyone up for a game on FB?), and even sneak in some training at a pool and some runs (where I hope to avoid alligators)....and lots of eating. I train (like running workouts) for weeks like this so I can eat up!!

One aspect of the travelling to note is the fact that we'll be putting in 10-12 hours in the car each way (depending on meal stops and pitstops). So, we need to keep ourselves occupied. Having the internet on the Blackberries I think is going to help for sure. We also download some podcasts about triathlons, the Pirates, and church messages (from places like Hillsong in Austrailia, Willow Creek in Chicago, and Saddleback in California).

Also, this time of the year I put my Christmas music collection on my Ipod. I don't have a big collection for two main reasons. Number 1 is because I'm cheap and don't see value in spending money on music that I only listen to for two weeks a year. Number 2 is that I'm not really a big fan of the 'commercial' Christmas music that doesn't really focus on the true meaning of the season----Jesus being born! So that narrows down my selections.

So, with that, here's my picks to click as far as what I perceive as quality Christmas music:
1. O Come All Ye Faithful by Third Day
2. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by MercyMe
3. O Holy Night by BarlowGirl
4. Silent Night by MercyMe
5. Overture/O Come All Ye Faithful by Michael W. Smith
6. O Holy Night by MercyMe
7. Silent Night by Sixpence None the Richer
8. Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant
9. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by Bebo Norman
10. Gloria by Michael W. Smith
11. Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
12. We Three Kings by Building 429
13. Joy to the World by Third Day

...probably pretty obvious what my favorite Christmas songs are.

Merry Christmas to everybody and safe travels!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Foot Locker Weekend

Many thanks go out for a memorable weekend in San Diego as I spectated the Foot Locker High School Cross Country Championships. What a weekend!
My alarm went off at 4:30am on Friday morning. I walked the dog, finalized my packing and went off to the airport. My flight left at 7am and, after a change in O'Hare, I was in San Diego by lunchtime. It was a little overcast and there were sprinkles, but I'll take 55 and rainy over sub-zero windchills anyday.

"THE HILL"

I went over to Balboa Park to check out the course for myself. After putting in a little 4-mile jog and shooting some pictures, I went over to the Mission Valley YMCA (you could have fit THREE of our YMCA's in this place!!!) for a little swim and to clean up before meeting our runner at the Friday night welcome event. I took in a quick dinner at Rubio's at an outdoor mall and got a lot of looks for wearing shorts and sandals in that weather!!

On to the Friday night event at the Hotel del Coronado. Wow! What a place and what an event they put on. They had a Q&A panel consisting of Foot Locker alumni Jorge Torres, Eduardo Torres, Molly Huddle, Suzy Favor-Hamilton, and Meb Keflezighi.



After the fun evening, off to Marit's house where she, Nathaniel, and the cats were nice enough to let me crash all weekend. After living out of my rental car all day, it felt like it took me half an hour to collect all of my stuff out of the trunk and in to their place. Off to bed around 11pm (2am eastern), or 21.5 hours after I got up....but very worth it.

Saturday morning was race morning. We met down at the race and I was taking photos and video during the warmups. Then, the girls' race took off and it was FAST!!! There was a light sprinkle during the girls' race. And, you HAVE to check out the finish. The winner, Megan Goethals (in red), came from way back to outkick 2nd place with only a step to go!

Between the girls' and boys' race, the heavens decided to open up and it POURED! I said to my runner before the race, "Is this Pittsburgh weather or what!!!" In spite of the sloppy course, their first mile was, oh, around 4:50!! Yikes!!! He ran a great race and ended up 24th in 15:48. The crazy part was how close everybody was. Ten seconds separated 15th and 30th place.




Here's an interview with our runner.Here's an exclusive interview with his rambling assistant coach.

After the race, I met up with a friend from high school (and actually college, too....and her mom's the secretary at the church I grew up in). She's in the Marines and assigned to go to Afghanistan this spring after spending last year in Iraq. It was a nice conversation over lunch and I gained even more appreciation and admiration for what people in the militaries and their families go through outside of just being overseas. There is so much to plan as far as house, car, and pet arrangements while you're away.

Saturday night was the awards dinner and ceremony and the Foot Locker Crew again did a great job with it. They brought up all forty boys and girls to recognize their accomplishments.

After getting back to Marit's and witnessing their garb from the ugly sweater party, I went to bed to wake up for my return early Sunday morning to the airport. Love the matching snowmen and proud to take the credit for being the one responsible for capturing this moment on Marit's camera.
As I'm going to the airport, I called Beth and she told me how it was crazy icy back in Pittsburgh at that time. In fact, our church service was cancelled. I have never been so happy for that to happen and here's why. They were scheduled to perform the Christmas music program and I was originally going to be singing with them before this potentially once in a lifetime opportunity came up to go to San Diego. So, the concert is now this coming Sunday and I now get to sing!

At the airport, there's this guy behind me in the security line that notices my high school team's shirt and asks if I'm from Pittsburgh. Turns out he is too, and he's currently a trainer for the University of Arizona basketball team.....only my favorite college hoops team!

They were flying back after a humbling 63-46 loss to San Diego State (Seriously?!?! San Diego State?!?! Ouch!). Their new coach this year, Blackhawk HS and Pitt grad Sean Miller, was seated at their gate waiting for the flight. So, I went up to him, extended my hand, and said, "Coach Miller. I'm from the Pittburgh area and my aunt lived in Arizona and we're big UofA fans. Good luck this year." He gave me a "thanks" and head nod and I could tell that he was not really in a mood to chat. Perhaps it was A) They lost by 20 pts and only scored in the 40's to the Aztecs (San Diego State?!?!?! Really?!?!?) or B) It was 6am or C) Some combination of those.

Big thanks again go out to Marit & Nathaniel for hosting me this weekend, the very generous alumni who donated airline miles for me to fly out, and Beth for putting up with me being gone for another weekend due to coaching...and this time right before Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On to December

Apologies for the nearly two-week hiatus. Not that anyone would have noticed, but just in case you did it's not because I went into a marathon performance-induced depression or cave or anything. Just some busy time and preparing for an exciting event coming up next weekend....

Looking back, Thanksgiving weekend was great and I can't believe it's now December. You have so much more time when you and your significant other are not in serious training and/or coaching. We had a great weekend with Thursday at my family and then spent the rest of the extended weekend (no school Monday because of the first day of hunting season in PA) getting stuff done around the house that we've put off since last off-season (aka last November) and relaxing.

As far as cleaning, we have several categories of cleaning levels at the Shutt house depending on the weekend--short clean (the bare minimum), long clean (a little more detailed), and crazy clean (aka spring clean that happens when we can fit it in). Well, we were able to fit in the crazy clean for a few rooms of the house and just have a few more rooms to go. We should be able to fit it in by....February.

Last weekend we also saw 'The Blind Side' starring Sandra Bullock as the mom of an at-risk youth who grew up to be a good football player that then played at Ole Miss and is a rookie with the Baltimore Ravens this year. Amazing story and makes me sad to think of all the youth that don't get that type of opportunity and slip through the cracks. You just wonder what can be done to reach out to all of them.

Also last weekend the runner from our high school that was the state runner-up competed in the Foot Locker Regional XC meet up in New York. He ended up finishing 5th and the top 10 all qualify for an all-expenses paid trip to San Diego for the Foot Locker National Meet. There are 4 regions in the US, meaning that only 40 boys and 40 girls in the entire US qualify for this race each year. Pretty exciting and elite company. Beth had a few college teammates who made it to nationals and one teammate who actually won the national race one year. Also, Bri is a former Foot Locker national competitor.

Anyway, after talking to him at school when we got back on Tuesday, it sounded like he was going to be travelling out there solo. So, as my brain tends to do in these situations, I start scheming/investigating the feasibility of making the trip out to be a support/coach/spectathlete to him. I know, big sacrifice to leave western PA where the bank thermometer sign board this morning stated it was minus-2 degrees (Celsius) and spend a weekend in San Diego!!

All the things to quickly investigate and take in to consideration--air fare, rental car, hotel, food, parking.....I researched and came to the conclusion that it may be feasible, but would need a little help (since Foot Locker only sends the runner--no $ for a parent or coach). So, the rest of this past week was spent investigating various avenues for funding and donations. I found out that, since this was technically not a school-affiliated event, no funding was really available from official school resources even though many different school officials were very supportive and excited about him qualifying. Their hands were just tied.

Fortunately, I was able to connect with a superb alumnus of the XC/Track program who does a lot of travelling for her job and she was so nice to donate the miles for my round-trip flight. Then, the wonderful Marit made available their couch to crash on for the weekend. Next thing you know, I'm heading out to support our runner at the race thanks to many generous people and our cross country program. I'm so thankful for all the great help and support I received for this unique and prestigious opportunity. I hope we have more runners qualify in the future, but this surely won't come along every year and I'm glad I'm able to be a part of it.

So, this week will be time to finalize the plans and then on a plane Friday morning for the big race on Saturday. If you're into following high school running, this will be webcast live here starting at 8am Pacific (11am for the easterners). Cheer on the three PA qualifiers and I'll be sure to try to take photos (and I even signed out a video camera from the school). However, we all know how distracted I get from being a photographer when I get to cheering/coaching.

The message at church this morning was to make sure you remember 'Christ' during the Christmas season. Not to be a scrooge or discourager of any fun, but just remember Jesus and think about people and where they're at in their lives as you see people out and about at the mall and various places.

How about the college football games on Saturday? I guess it's going to be Alabama vs. Texas (or TCU,BSU, or Cincy). What exciting games! It started with the Pitt-Cincinnati game where both teams kept shooting themselves in the foot but it ended up an edge-of-your-seat 45-44 game. Florida-Bama was pretty good also, but the Tide was just the better team that day. Also, it has been so neat to see Tim Tebow and his public acknowledgement of his faith over the past four years. His eye black stickers currently have the verse John 16:33-

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Great words to help keep perspective of the big picture during the intense competitions.

And the Texas-Nebraska game was a nail-biter. The Huskers' defense sure made things hard, but couldn't quite hold off Texas at the end. I was a little disappointed with Colt McCoy's clock management in the final minute, but I guess all you need is that one second to get the snap off for the field goal. A win is a win. I'll be publishing my 2009 BCS Playoff bracket proposal in the upcoming weeks. I worked it up last weekend based off my 2008 proposal and need to tweak a couple of things based on the results of this past weekend.

Have a good week and next post may be sunny pictures from San Diego.....my third weekend there in since March. It's becoming like a second home!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Part 2: Back to the Drawing Board

It’s amazing what a day or two of perspective and reflection can do for your analysis of a race. I knew I wanted to write up the race details ASAP so I could remember it for the future and do better next time. However, I’m glad I held off another day for the analysis. I had all these theories and deep analyses of what happened and was ready to write another novel.

If you really boil it down, I just went out too hard and bit off more than I could chew. No way I should have been running sub-6:20 miles (let alone 6:00 and 6:06)for any reason. Part of my demise I think was also contributed to my 2.5 minute PR in my half marathon back in October. After running that sub-1:17, I was on cloud-nine and probably thought I was a little better than I actually was. Those early miles took their toll. I didn’t respect the distance of the marathon, the quality of the Philly marathon field (after finishing 3rd at my half), or my own limits. It’s a hard lesson learned, but one I will just have to apply next time.

Just to share a few excerpts from two blogs of spectacular endurance athletes that I follow that I’ve really identified since the race.

The first is Jen Harrison’s blog, which helped me put things in perspective:

“I always say that if you have a bad race you get 24 hours to sulk and then you move ON. It is only a race. … I was sad because of all the work and the result was NOT what I wanted – in my worst case scenario, this was NOT even a thought… it is so frustrating when the work is in the body but you cannot do it. I hate not being in control of my body!”

It’s just a race. I’m not defined by a number or a time. My family, friends, or students don’t think less of me. God still loves me. I’ve had my 24 hours of sulking and I’m ready to tackle my next goals…..once my quads, hammies, and calves decide it’s time.

The second is from an athlete by the name of Beth Shutt from her pre-triathlon days. Here’s some eerily similar quotes after her Columbus Marathon DNF from 2004.

The next split was not the 13 mile marker but rather the half marathon mark which we reached in 1:32:26. Okay, a little ahead of pace, but I swear, we felt good and were running smoothly (I know...famous last words). … then we went: 6:51, 7:28, 7:31. Trouble is brewing. We started climbing a relatively benign hill, but nonetheless, we were falling off pace fast. I can honestly say I've never starting feeling so badly so quickly. Within 2-3 miles I went from feeling great and running 7 minute pace effortlessly, to really struggling to maintain 8 minute pace

At first I refused to believe that we went out too fast, but I'm starting to come around to the idea. Of course we felt comfortable for the first half, but that's the whole point, the marathon is 26.2 miles! I think our fatal flaw was setting too fast a goal time to begin with.


Some other thoughts from the weekend:
*The marathon was a good experience. More miles and more race experience are invaluable. Philly’s a nice city (even if Eagles fans did boo Santa Claus).

*If you’re ever in the Conshohocken area, you have to stop at Tony and Joe’s Pizza and Restaurant. It was right by our hotel and we walked there for the pre-race pasta meal and the “drown the disappointment in pop and pizza” post-race meal. Awesome food!

*You always learn from races and just have to apply it to the next one even though it’s not next week. At my high school the girls’ basketball team went to the state title game two years ago and lost. They had to have that in the back of their head every day for the entire next year to get the chance to redeem themselves. They had to put the time in the gym every day, execute each game, focus on each step along the way to get back to the state title game and have the chance for redemption. One game at a time they conquered their “unfinished business” and ended up as undefeated state champs in the highest classification and are now ranked #9 in the COUNTRY preseason in the USA Today this year. My next marathon isn’t next weekend, but my training for it starts then. I need to execute my game plan one day at a time and follow it through the whole was to my plan on race day.

Rule #2 I took away from Jen Harrison is NO major decisions for 2 weeks. I will follow that, but I think if I do a marathon next fall, it will be in October (maybe Columbus?). This way I can catch the flow of the XC season a little better and not feel flat the last two weeks.

So, with that, I close the door on the Philly marathon and have this RR saved in a Word Document for me to pull out before my next marathon to FORCE ME TO NOT GO OUT TOO HARD!!!

Many thanks of course to pass out:
*Thanks for the people out there on the course cheering for me: Rad and Mr. G, Heather, and Lindsay
*Thanks for all the encouraging messages on FB and the blog. Much appreciated
*Thanks to my parents for watching the dog for practically every weekend this fall with the race and event schedule Beth and I had since September
*Thanks to the HS XC team for kicking my butt every day in practice and allowing me to go faster than I ever was in high school
*And, of course, thanks to Beth for being the best support through this whole training cycle. Even with her crazy training and work schedule, she was always there to bounce ideas off and, most importantly, had a shoulder for me to lean on after the race.

Good luck to everybody with their future racing and have a super Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Philly Marathon Race Report Part 1 - The Race Itself

….and other lessons learned from the weekend in Philly

Much like the Pittsburgh Pirates must first become a .500 team before becoming a playoff contender, I learned that I should probably shoot for a sub-3:00 marathon before aiming for a sub-2:50 race….the hard way.

FYI—this is going to be a long one since I don’t run big races too often. Lots of thoughts going through the head. I’m going to break it into two parts: the race and the reflection. Let me first start off my saying that, while I was pretty bummed out about the end result, there were many positives to pull out of this experience and I hope to convey those along the way as well.

Okay- the facts first:
*Finishing time: 3:15:21 – 639th out of 7464 finishers (including me…barely)
*Big time hamstring cramp right before mile 24 preceded by increasing levels of tightness in both hammies AND calves from about mile 19 until the end.

Part 1 – Race Report (Part 2 Reflections to come either later tonight or Tuesday)

Here were my goals going into the race (sorted by increasing difficulty):
1. Finish the race
2. Not walk during the race - walked for parts in previous two
3. Set a PR (previous best 3:22)
4. Better my AG's Boston Marathon Qualifying Time (3:10) even though I have no thought of doing that race since it’s in the spring—meaning training through the winter (yuck!) and in the middle of track season
5. Crack 3:00
6. Crack 2:50 (6:29 pace) and finish in the top 100

My last marathon was in 2006, just when I started at my new school and hadn’t done any of my training with the XC and track teams like I’ve done the last three years. I trained on my own and ended up running a 3:22 out in Ohio. I had a couple of rough miles near the end and had to walk a little, but beat the previous PR of 3:37 at my first marathon.

So, on to marathon #3. Beth and I left on Friday night after meeting up with my dad for dinner and went half of way. Then, on Saturday morning, we went the rest of the way, picked up the packet and settled back in to our hotel to watch the PSU football game in the afternoon. After a pasta dinner at Tony and Joe’s, it was off to bed and ready for race day.

It was such a beautiful weekend in Philly. On race morning, the temperature was in the low 40’s with a forecast of it going up in to the 50’s. No rain, no wind, no clouds….just about perfect. Beth performed excellently as the spectathlete, holding my gear and waiting around as I did my pre-race stretching, striders, and preparations (aka visits to the…nevermind). My ‘preparations’ were complete with about 10 minutes until the race start, we said our goodbyes and I worked my way up to my color-designated bin. Planning on running a fast time, I was in the bin right after the ‘elite’ wave. Not realizing where we were since it was dark out, I had to work up through about 8,000 people (no joke) to get up to my wave. Fortunately, I made it up there with about 2 minutes to spare. I did a couple of final stretches and it was time to go.

I had made up my mind to get out a little fast just to get away from the crowds. I also didn’t want to get stuck back at a pace I didn’t want to go and have to waste a lot of time weaving through slower traffic. So, I’m off in the race and split 6:17 and 6:00 downhill to the Delaware River. After a 6:12 third mile, I finally threw on the brakes and tried to settle in to my race pace rhythm.

Miles 4-8 were 6:29, 6:22, 6:22, 6:20, and 6:26 and we worked through Center City, over the Schuylkill River and past Penn, Drexel, and the zoo. A downhill mile towards Franklin Park yielded an OOPS mile 9 at 6:06, but then settled back in to a 6:27 mile 10 as I was on the bike course loop of the Philly Tri up to the Triathlon ‘Expo Area’ and back down the hill to the river. So, 1:03:00, or 6:18 pace, through 10 miles….a little fast, but I felt VERY comfortable and wasn’t breathing hard or feeling any fatigue.

Miles 11 and 12 were 6:22 and 6:19. I was a little mad at the 6:19 because I had a feeling some of the people around me were picking it up as they were finishing the half marathon (same course). I should have let them go a little more and backed off.

Mile 13, I came back by the Art Museum and Rocky and spotted Beth. I gave her the thumbs up as I split a comfortable 6:31 and then split a 13.1 time of 1:23:11 (6:21 pace). I went in assuming I wasn’t going to run even splits and was shooting for a 1:24, so my split caused me no concern and gave me some wiggle room to run a 1:26+ (6:35 pace) on the way back.

Mile 14 sent you up a hill on the eastern side of Fairmont Park and I split a 6:42. It was during this uphill that the #2 and #3 females passed me. I didn’t for a second think of going with them because I wasn’t going for 2nd place in the women’s race!!!! I was just backing off a little and settling in to a rhythm for the second half of the race.

Mile 15 was back down the hill and on to Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill and I split a 6:30 and was right where I wanted to be. Mile 16 was a head scratcher. I saw the women gaining ground on me and going back and forth and perhaps backed off of their duel a little too much. I split a 6:51 and wrote it off to losing a little focus and getting caught up in watching a good battle for 2nd place instead of focusing on my race. However, Mile 17 was also 6:54 and things didn’t quite feel right. I could definitely feel some tightness….not necessarily fatigue….cropping up in BOTH hammies and calves.

Trying to fight that off and not complicate things, I backed off for the next mile and split 18 at 7:10, hoping the tightness would work itself out. Unfortunately, it still just lingered. Again, not necessarily fatigue, but more of just like when go do a hard track workout on a cold day and your legs feel a little tight. I had this same feeling a few Februarys ago when I did a 10-mile race with Beth and it was 10 degrees out.

Mile 19 was slightly uphill into Manayunk and I split a 7:45 and could feel that I was losing ground both on the competition, my goals, and my muscles located on the back side of my body. There was a water station a little before Mile 20 and I got some water and gave in to the tightness signals and stopped to stretch both calves on the street curb and bend over to stretch the hammies. With the water stop and stretching, I split an 8:38.

I pass the turnaround and know that I’ve got a 10k to go and it’s mostly downhill and flat. I begged the legs, which were now starting to fight the fatigue on top of the tightness, to hold on a little more. A stop back past the same water stop (now at 20.5) and another stretch of the calves and hammies.

I split 21 at 8:20 and 2:21:02 overall and started to do a little bit of recalculating of my goals knowing that 2:50 was out the window. If I could just get the tightness to cooperate and hold off for only 5 more miles and split 8:00 pace, I could still be around 3:00. Heck, maybe the tightness would work itself out and I could even still crack 3 hours.

But, it was not to be. The tightness only increased as did the number of runners blowing by me as I slowed down to an ugly 8:36 (Mile 22) and 9:16 (Mile 23) pace with some more curb stretching along the way. Somewhere around here the 3:00 pace group roared past me and that was a depressing blow.

However, I still had my goals 1(finish), 3 (PR), and 4 (Boston Time), so onward I went. My overall time at 23 was under 2:39. I figured I had a 5k left and if I could even shuffle 9:00 miles (keeping the math easy - 9 x 3 = 27 + 2:40 = 3:07), I’m still under 3:10.

Then, as I’m getting within 50 meters of Mile 24 and the clock turning to 2:48, I’m doing some more calculating. I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, keep this 9:00 pace and you’ll….” WHAMO!!!! All of the sudden, my right hamstring became a pretzel, knot, or whatever analogy you want to describe the fact that it totally contracted on me and I was in severe pain. As it hit, I screamed and immediately started hopping on my left leg, did a 180-degree turn, and actually was hopping backwards over to the barriers by the sidewalk.

Fortunately, some (including me) may even say that it was God’s perfect timing, a pair of medics were driving up the road in their medical golf cart. As I’m still screaming, the medic asks me what I want him to do. I said to just get my leg up in the air and to stretch it on the cart to get the knot out. After stretching it for about 30 seconds, the knot went away, I said thank you and lowered it back down to the ground, when…..

WHAMO! The moment I set it back down, it seized back up again. The pain! We stretched it some more and set it down and nothing cramped. They asked me if I wanted a ride back, but I figured I was only two miles out and I wanted to finish even if it meant I had to walk. They documented my number for their paperwork and went on their way. I shuffled/walked the next 50 meters and angrily slapped at my watch to split a blazing 12:28 for mile 24. No timeouts in running! I was so frustrated at that point knowing that my race was over and I was just in survival mode to get to the line.

Each stride forward was carefully placed with nearly-straight legs in hopes of preventing another tangled mess of muscles from occurring in either of my hamstrings (or calves for that matter). As long as the knee didn’t bend, the hamstring couldn’t contract and possibly cramp. I would shuffle for a couple of lamp posts and walk a couple when I could feel the tightness increasing. The crowd was great, but I sure didn’t want to hear any “Let’s Go Oscar” or “Pick it up” chants at that point. I just wanted to finish and was very angry at my legs.

Mile 25 was a mercurial 12:21 and then my last 1.2 was 11:37, so I must have picked up the pace to a speedy 9:40 pace cheered on by the crowd. I saw Beth as I rounded the final bend and know that I gave her this huge look of disappointment and frustration.

So, across the line at 3:15:21, grabbed the finisher medal out of the hand of the volunteer, snatched my food goodie bag and water off the table, walked hastily away and did everything I could to not be a bad sport and conceal my near anger at how things finished. With it being such a big race, it took about another 10 minutes or so for Beth and I to catch up. She knew things obviously didn’t go as planned and offered a lot of support.

So ended my day. A PR, a finish, but not much else in my mind at that point. Part 2 to come is the analysis of what to do differently next time and to put a positive lining on the weekend and moving forward.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Hay's in the Barn

We're heading off towards Philly Friday evening. The big day is Sunday. I'm excited and am looking forward to seeing what all this training since July will produce.

That's about it from here. Time for bed to rest up.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Home from FL; Philly in a week!

Great weekend down in Florida for Beth's participation of the Foster Grant Ironman 70.3 World Championships. She finished 4th in her age group and all that hard work this year sure paid off with the look on her face after the race. We got home this afternoon and I can't believe Philly's a week away. I guess it's my turn to PR and turn in a good performance (I hope!).

As far as achieving my goals....this past week I had a 3x1600 workout at 5k pace with 2 min rest. It was a good confidence boost heading into the marathon. I was worried because I felt like I hadn't really done anything hard since the half marathon and, with the HS XC season ending, whether or not I was still on top of my crispness of training. Well, after 5:33, 5:27, and 5:28 1600's in the workout, I was feeling confident again about hitting 6:30's for the marathon. We shall see what happens. Long range forecast is calling for low in the 40's and high in the 50's with a chance of rain. We'll see how that develops throughout the week.

Where to start with the weekend? It was just such a nice atmosphere and I got to see some of Beth's triathlon friends (and I guess my friends, too!) like Jen H, Chad & Jen, Kim, Cathy & Kerry, Eric, Elizabeth, and I'm sure a few others I'm forgetting off the top of my head.

Here's a few photos from the weekend.

First, the view of the sunrise on race morning in the harbor. They changed the race start from the gulf to this harbor because of big waves and strong current. I guess they didn't want a repeat of the crazy swim routes people were taking back in Alabama (see picture about halfway down the blog entry).



I put pictures on FB also, so skipping ahead to the Awards Ceremony, it was like they were setting up for a concert.
When Beth's AG went up, she got her name in lights!

But, perhaps the most exciting part of the trip for me (OTHER than the fact that Beth got 4th PLACE in her AG in the WORLD!!) was the flight home. I've been reading this book called 'A Short History of World War II' by James Stokesbury. I've had it for my past four or five flights and I'm still only halfway done. I'd hate to see how much the LONG history book would weigh. I enjoy it because it gets into a lot of the strategy of the different sides during the war (like Hitler's choice to try to invade Russia, France's feeble attempts to hold off Germany, the dialogue between the US & Britian on strategy, ...) and has lots of maps to go along with the flow of the war.

If it hasn't been stated before in this blog, I LOVE maps. I'm not really sure when it started. Perhaps just as a result of my enjoyment of following sports growing up and trying to figure out where the different teams were located? I'm definitely the map person when we're planning our trips. In fact, Beth's mom commented to me on this past trip that I would make a good taxi driver because I'm so good with directions (I think it was a compliment and not a suggestion to change careers?).

Anyway, I digress....So, on the way home today, I'm reading the book and I pause for a second to look out the window and see some major highways below (it was a perfectly clear day for most of the flight). Since I had printed out a flight path projection from past flights from flightaware.com (I know, BIG TIME map nerd), I consulted the map and was pretty sure we were at the split of I-77 and I-74 in North Carolina. I know this route well because of our many trips down to HHI and Durham for holidays. So, this catches my attention and I begin following the road. Looks like it goes up a mountain just like I know from the drive as I-77 heads towards Fancy Gap.

Next thing you know, we're at where I'm pretty sure is the I-77 and I-81 connection in Southeastern Virginia, close to Virginia Tech (where Beth and I spent some graduate school time). Next thing you know, I see Lane Stadium out the window. I yell, "Beth! Beth! Check it out--it's Virginia Tech!" Since I think she was sleeping on my shoulder at the time, I don't know how impressed she was, but I had to take a photo with my camera.

The first picture below is a rotated shot from google maps with our old apartment, Lane Stadium, and the Drillfield highlighted that I made when I got home (I know, map nerd).

The second photo is the one from the plane with those three locales circled again.


The view was even better just looking out the window. The picture from the cameraphone doesn't do it justice. Pretty cool and exciting for a person who loves maps.....not so much for everybody else, I suppose. Thanks for humoring me and my fascination with maps.

Finally, Beth and I had an extra piece of luggage on the trip home.....a second bike case.

Why did we have a second bike case you ask? It sure isn't because I competed this weekend (unless you qualify for a World Championship for having the SLOWEST swim and bike time). This is actually Kim's bike that we brought home. Did Kim forget it? Of course not. Unfortunately, what happened was she had a duel with a cone on the bike course during the race. The cone won and Kim ended up with a broken collarbone. Bummer!

So, we brought it home so a gal with an arm in a sling had one less thing to try to haul around the airports. As I know Beth can attest to, it's tough enough to lug around a suitcase, bike case, and computer bag through the airport with TWO good arms. Plus, this was a good experiment for Beth and I to see if our car could handle two bike cases if the day ever came where I would be flying (thus bringing a bike) to compete in a triathlon. Mission accomplished on that end and maybe slowing down our urge to look further into the Saturn Outlook--the rental we were loved driving all around Clearwater.

Heal up quick, Kim!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hillsong, Hershey, Hooks, Happy Valley, and Hot Stove

Wednesday night, Beth and I went outside our normal routine and actually went to the movie theater. It was a special event as Hillsong United (a musical group that started as a youth praise band at a church in Sydney Australia) had a live feed and video that they produced. We didn't know exactly what to expect. We were thinking it was a concert much like we've seen on some of their concert DVD's. However, it wasn't exactly that.

The first half hour was actually LIVE--7:30pm our time and 11:30 am the next day in Sydney. I'm not sure how they did a live thing like that in the theater, but I guess if you have a projector, computer, and internet connection you could do it. Anyway, they did a couple of live acoustic songs and played two of their newer video songs. Then, they introduced the movie about their tours over the last four years. Again, I'm expecting a documentary of their concerts and more great music. What it ended up being was a two hour presentation of all the injustice and hurt that they observed on every continent. They people living in shacks in Brazil, refugee camps in Africa, and many other sad situations. It was a call to action. We sponsor a child in Peru, but it makes you think what more can you do? It wasn't exactly what we went for, but it was pretty moving. They did sneak in some concert footage, so we got some of that also.

Saturday, I'm off to Hershey for the State track meet. We've only got one guy competing, but he's got a shot of finishing pretty high, so that should be exciting to see where he stacks up with the rest of the state.

From there, I'm swinging by Elizabethtown--about 10 miles down route 743 from Hershey. That's where I started my 8+ year college journey (don't worry--that's not just for undergraduate). I haven't been back there in four or five years and I figure I should stop by so I actually know what I'm talking about when I'm at College Fairs telling kids about the campus. Also, my best man from my wedding (J) and family live in Etown, so we're going to hang out for the afternoon. It should be a great day!

Also, PSU's got a BIG game against THE Ohio State University. Terrelle Prior's first trip to Penn State since his recruiting visit. He hasn't been having that great of a season....and I hope PSU's defense keeps it that way. I've got my list of Penn State Radio Network stations ready for the drive home from Etown. It'll be something like Carlisle, Bedford, Somerset, and Pittsburgh.....I hope. I didn't have as much success for the Northwestern game on our drive up to PSU last weekend. But, as long as they score 3 TD's in a 4-minute span, I don't have to listen ever!!!!

Finally, the Hot Stove League (baseball's off-season). The Pirates made a trade that actually is geared to help the team for 2010....rather than 2015! They gave up Jesse Chavez--a decent reliever this past year, but one of three or four that fit that same mold. They picked up a starting second baseman that's going to probably hit #2. He's a lefty hitter, patient at the plate, can steal bases, and a good defender. I think it's at least comparable, if not better than having Freddy Sanchez hitting 2nd behind Andrew McCutchen. I don't expect many more off-season acquisitions of starting pieces, but we'll see. I'm excited to see what people like Millege, Jones, Clement, and others do before Alvarez and Tabata come up in June or July. We shall see........at least give me something close to .500 this year!!!!

....and, keeping with the 'H' theme, Halloween. Poor Roxy! This may border on animal cruelty, but it's so funny and cute at the same time for us. Plus it distracts Roxy from barking at all of the kids coming to the door for candy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Since last week...

Since the half marathon, there's been a lot of cross country goings-on.
For the high school team, we had Tri-States (a tune-up meet) and WPIAL's (Districts). The results were a little below where we usually are as a team, but you have days like that. At WPIAL's, the guys finished 5th as a team (only four go to states). Our top runner finished 2nd and our #2 runner was the first individual not to qualify for states. But you learn from it and move on. The state meet is this upcoming weekend in Hershey. I'm excited because I think I'm going to swing by Elizabethtown after the races to check out the campus and catch up with my best bud (and best man) J and family who I haven't seen in forever.

This weekend, we were up at PSU for the Big Ten Cross Country Championships. Beth and I hadn't been up there in a few years (except for me going up a few weeks ago for the football game). It was great, Beth had a chance to catch up with the coaches the night before at the alumni gathering and I ended up having my name drawn during a raffle for a sweet PSU Track & Field Long Sleeve Half-Zip something or other.....see the picture.
As far as the actual race day, it was a beautiful day. Sunny with just a few small clouds, high 40's, and no wind. It was so nice I decided to wear shorts to watch the races. Before the races, Beth and I got our long runs in on the golf course. We ran the courses....sort of. We had trouble following the lines. Fortunately the racers didn't have the same issue. The end result of the meet was that the PSU men had a tough day, but the PSU women were Big Ten Champs and PSU's #1 runner won the individual championship.
After the races, we walked around on College Avenue to get lunch and then, of course, had to make our first stop to the NEW Creamery. My Apple Cobbler ice cream did not disappoint!

Three more weeks until the marathon. It's getting close! If I could request weather, today at PSU would work nicely. Of course, as we're loading up the car to leave for Penn State yesterday, I get too close to the edge of our front sidewalk, slip off, and tweak my ankle. Fortunately, I caught it before it bent too far, so I was fine to run today. But, of course, I'll start entering my hypochondria state in the upcoming weeks as the marathon draws near....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Pose

Remember when Desmond Howard emulated the pose of the Heisman Trophy statue after a big play against Ohio State?

Well, apparently the Shutts strike the same pose when crossing the finish line. Check out my finish photo from the race last weekend compared to Beth's from the Best of the US last October.

We're always going for the watch to get that accurate time and have a painful look on the face at the finish!

Here's a few more photos that can be found from the race set at http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/7842443_37m3w#691618777_bEQhv

Pre-race warm-up for Beth, Karen, and I (JT's saving his bullets for the race)

Starting out the race near the front

Kicking it in to the finish. I always seem to put my head down for a stride or two when I'm trying to dig a little deeper. Not too great of form from a physical standpoint, but mentally it helps me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Buffalo Creek 1/2 Marathon RR

Another fine day along Buffalo Creek in Freeport.

The weather could have been a tad bit warmer, but it didn't rain and ended up in the high 30's. And, just in case Jen Harrison checks this out--no the snow was more in the center of the state by State College. This year Beth was running also as a tuneup for Clearwater and my cousin K and her dad came along and ran also.

We had this elaborate logistical plan of positioning of cars since this is a point-to-point race. It involved three cars--we leave two (one for Beth & I; one for K & UJ) at the finish line so we didn't have to ride the shuttle back. Then we all head up in one car up to the packet pickup and start. We had to figure out what bags to put in what car and what keys needed to be carried during the race and what bags to drop off, but it all worked out smoothly.

To the race, I've been happy with my training all fall balancing with the XC guys, Beth, and my own long runs. Last weekend, I averaged under 6:30 pace for a 14-mile segment of a 17-mile run and felt like I had some left. So, I figured I'd try to better my 6:00 pace from last year's half and see what happened. We all warmed up together and had some nice conversation catching up on K and her life. A couple pit stops and a couple striders later and it was time for the race.

Having done it last year, I knew the course layout and the level of the field. I was 11th last year and figured I could sneak in to the top 10 this year having the marathon training base underneath me. Off we go and I was 9th or so a mile in to the race. Last year, our places from the first mile were just about the same as we finished so I figured I just needed to settle in and hit my splits.

This is a downhill point-to-point course, so that definitely skews the splits some. At the same time, the majority is on a crushed limestone rails-to-trails course, so that neutralizes some of it (but it's still pretty fast!!). Mile 1 I'm out in 5:28 and rolling. Here's the rest of the splits and some commentary:

Mile 2 - 6:04 (the only real uphill in the race)
Mile 3 - 5:44
Mile 4 - 5:41
Mile 5 - 5:44
Mile 6 - 5:46
Mile 7 - 5:51
Mile 8 - 5:50
Mile 9 - 5:54
Mile 10 - 5:58
Mile 11 - 5:54
Mile 12 - 6:02
Mile 13 - 6:00
13.1 - 0:35
Total 1:16:32 - 5:50 pace - (1:19:06 last year)

From about 1.5 miles in until 10 miles in, I was running side-by-side with another guy (last year I was in a pack of 5) and we just steadily worked our way up, picking off one person around mile 6 and one around 8. I was feeling good, but didn't know what I had left hitting these 5:50's, but I just tried to hang with the guy beside me.

We closed in on the 3rd place guy around mile 10 and I could tell my running partner was breathing pretty hard. We had just caught said 3rd place, so that guy probably was losing some. All of the sudden, I shifted my entire mindset to just clicking off miles to actually RACING. This hasn't happened for years if you don't count trying to outkick people on the homestretch of races. I thought, "Okay. 2.5 miles to go. I feel good, let's surge and see if they go with me." Surge happens and they didn't respond. Hmmm....

I hit the 11 mile marker and just hit my watch to get the split but don't even look at the time since I'm now racing vs just hitting times. There are some curves in the trail since it goes along a creek, so I even tried to put in a few surges around turns. All those HS XC strategies were coming back to me! Since Beth and I train on the trail almost every weekend, I knew the remainder of the course pretty well and I started mapping out the strategic places to sneak in some surges.....actually I'd like to think that but I was time-wise probably just running as hard as I could and running scared so they wouldn't catch up to me.......

What the heck--I was in 3rd place with just a little more to go! I get to about a 1/2 mile left on the trail (1.5 miles left in the race) and I knew the trail changed from the crushed limestone to blacktop, so I put on another surge (at least in my head). I pass the 12 mile mark and just hit the watch and get ready to leave the trail for the final 0.8-ish on roads to the finish. There was an uphill switchback to a bridge and then into town.

I was mapping out my final surge strategy up this hill when I see this guy jogging back towards me with his hands up in the air. It was the 2nd place guy and he missed the switchback off of the trail and had to come back. He yelled out, "Where to we go?" I said back (out of breath), "Up the hill and over the bridge in to town." Now, he's 50 yards behind me. So, I'm in 2nd place (in sort of a cheap way). I felt bad that he didn't make the turn (last year they had a person at the turn) and had my mind made up that I'd slow up at the finish since he earned 2nd but just got off course (after the race, he said he lost more than 30 seconds there).

But, no worries as he flew past me with about 800m left. He happens to be one of the better runners in the Pittsburgh area after all. I follow him down the hill, we make a left turn at the 13.0 mark, I look over my shoulder and see that the other two guys (the former 3rd place and the guy I ran most of the race with) were too far back to get me. I split my watch at 13 and then just focused on kicking it in as best as I could and cross at 1:16:32--a 2.5 minute improvement over last year!!! And, as Beth's triathlon posse would say, a 'podium' finish--third place. Wooo hooo!

And, it was a good day all around. Beth beat her PR in the 1/2 marathon by 3:15 and was the 2nd female. My cousin ran well and won her age group and finished 5th or 6th female OA. My uncle, coming off of sickness and injury issues, almost equalled his 1/2 marathon time from Pittsburgh.

After the race, some bagels, Eat'n Park Smiley Cookies, Pizza, bananas, and other stuff to refuel as Beth and I then go over to the YMCA to swim since Beth had a workout to get in (those crazy triathletes!!!). She did a real workout. I just meandered back and forth doing slow laps except for being a rabbit for the 2nd 25 on a couple of Beth's 50yd repeats.

A stop by GetGo for a footlong for lunch, pick up the car, a PSU shoutout win (great job, defense!!), house clean, and now it's time for bed. Good day, indeed!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

PSU, Cold Weather, and Half Marathon

That's what's going on right now....

Last weekend, I went up with my college buddy (and fellow IE graduate) B as he had tickets to the BIG Penn State-Eastern Illinois matchup........okay, not too big. Eastern Illinois is a 1-AA team and people outside were trying to give away tickets. And, as evidenced by the picture below when JoePa led the team onto the field, the student section wasn't all that enthused about arriving punctually to a noon start against an inferior opponent. PSU won 52-3 and it was about that close. PSU did pretty much whatever they wanted. Right before halftime, EIU was actually driving down to about the 10, but Navarro Bowman picked up a fumble and ran it back in a James Harrison-like play for 90 yards an a touchdown. Game over even though it wasn't even halftime.

Nevertheless, it was a great experience being back up in Happy Valley. I sent a message to Beth at one point after I did a short run on the PSU golf course (site of the XC Big Ten Championships in a few weeks) and past my old apartment that I was just going to stay up there and that I'd see her at the end of October when she came up for the XC meet.

One of the neat things about my friend B is he's involved in different things. First of all, he's one smart dude as he got his PhD in IE from PSU. Secondly, he tries new things. He told me a few years back that he signed up for a standup comedy class. I thought he was kidding, but he actually did a few local shows.

He also told me he was experimenting with growing square watermelons. SQUARE watermelons? That's what he said. He told me over the weekend that this past summer he experimented with seedless, HUGE barrel, and other types of watermelons. He brought a few with him that Beth and I had (they were great!) and of course Roxy was very intrigued by the whole watermelon thing.

On Tuesday, I helped out with my second college fair of the fall. This was up in the North Hills at LaRoche College. There was some registration snafu's so we weren't in the E's by Edinboro, but rather way in the back. We're in the back row kind of in the middle of the picture with the blue tablecloth. Still a good time, but people are much more in a hurry to get out of there by the time they get to the last few tables.

I say 'we' because I found a fellow Etown-er in the Pittsburgh area willing to give up a night and share about Etown. Beth and I met TF back in March at the Spring Thaw. That was my DNS race due to the ankle injury playing basketball. Since I wasn't racing, I was hanging around the finish line while Beth was out there and these two parent-age people came up to me and commented about the Etown Hoodie I was wearing. They said that their daughter went to Etown and ran there. Small world! So, long story short, I recruited a new alumni to come to the college fair and hopefully this will DOUBLE the coverage of the Pittsburgh area for college fairs by Etown alumni (since 2 is twice as big as 1) in the future.

This weekend is the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. I'm going to have to get my game face on as I haven't raced since Memorial Day. Last year's race went really well for me (at least for the first 9 or 10 miles) and I somehow maintained 6:00 pace. I'm shooting to go slightly below that considering I actually have a distance base underneath me with the marathon training. The hindering factor may be the weather--mid 30's with a chance of snow or rain. Ugh! But, that may be what it's like next month in Philly so I better get ready for it.

Beth's running this year as a tuneup for the Half IM World Championships in Clearwater and my cousin K's coming back again this year (won her age group) and her dad (who I ran the Pittsburgh half with last spring) are coming to run, too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fun week....fun fall!

Last Sunday, Beth and I were invited to go to our first ever Steeler game. I'm a big fan and watch just about every game on TV or listen on the radio, but I've never had a connection to get a ticket (and assumed I never would). However, Beth's good friend was able to get four tickets to the game and it was great! It was great weather and the Steelers took it to the Chargers to go up 28-0 early in the third quarter. This was our previously agreed upon time to leave since we all had to get up for work the next morning (AND K & T are from the other side of Altoona). It was a little nerve-racking to hear how close it got in the end, but a fun game nonetheless.

Our seats were in the next to last row, right on the goal line where the Steelers scored three of their touchdowns. In the row behind us were about 10 or so San Diego Chargers fans (of course the only tickets they could score were in the last row!). I actually didn't mind being up that high--you were able to see so much more than you do on TV. You were able to see players get wide open on passing plays and I kept screaming and pointing, "throw it to him--he's WIDE open!!!"

One place where Beth and I fall short of being true members of Steelers Nation is that we don't have Steelers jerseys. I think about 95-98% of the crowd did have jerseys. At least I had a Steelers hoodie.....albeit a 2005 AFC Champions hoody--even though they went on to win the Super Bowl. Hey, it was cheap at Dick's Sporting Goods a month after they won back then since they had all the Super Bowl merchandise.

Poor Beth had a black Powerbar coat with a PURPLE hoodie underneath. It sure got a few facebook comments during the game!!! She did get a Terrible Towel from a vendor before we crossed over the Clemente Bridge.

Now if this wasn't great enough, I also have lined up for tomorrow a trip up to Happy Valley! My one good friend from my IE days at PSU, B, asked me a month or two ago if I wanted to go to this game because he had two tickets. Granted, it's against 1-AA Eastern Illinois, but it's still the experience of being up there. So, after my first EVER Steeler game, I'm going to my first PSU game since college six days later. Awesome!

The one down side to all of this is that it's making for a very full fall. As Beth and I were debating of whether or not to go to the Steelers game, we were seeing the weekends fill up and realized that Thanksgiving is going to be here before we knew it. I know we've all got busy lives, but I figured I'd throw this out there, so just humor me:

  • Sep 23: College Fair for Etown at WCCC and drop off the dog at parent's house
  • Sep 25-28: BOUS for Beth in California
  • Oct 4: Steelers game
  • Oct 10: PSU game
  • Oct 13: LaRoche College Fair for Etown
  • Oct 17: Buffalo Creek Half Marathon (both of us) just up the road in Freeport
  • Nothing the weekend of the 24th.....yet
  • Nov 1: Big Tens XC Championship at PSU (going up Saturday and watching Sunday)
  • Nov 7: PIAA XC meet in Hershey (maybe we'll have boys & girls both there)
  • Nov 12-15: IM 70.3 Championships in Clearwater for Beth
  • Nov 22: Philly Marathon for me
  • Nov 25: Thanksgiving and eating a lot and taking a deep breath!!!!

Overall, my training's going pretty well. I was pumped with last Thursday doing a 15x400 workout with the XC boys (88 sec down to 73) and then coming home and doing a 9 or 10 mile tempo workout with Beth. I felt pretty good during it, but it sure beat me up for the next few days.

I got home from the Saturday invite at Central Catholic and it was so beautiful out and Beth left me a message that she wasn't going to be home from her bike ride for another two hours. So, I got my bike ready and headed out for an hour ride because I figured it may be the last time I ride outside this year. It was so nice out and I felt great. So, I got home with about another 30-45 minutes until Beth got home and then was going to do her 30 minute brick run. I figured I'd do that with her, so I just caught the end of the exciting Michigan-MSU overtime game while waiting for her to get home.

We go out for our run and I'm chatting up a storm about our guy winning the CCI by outkicking a guy from the big rival and telling her about the Michigan-MSU, VT-Duke, and a couple other games. Then, we turn around and come back and we're about 20 minutes into the run and.......BONK! I had to slow down to a walk. I took in food after the invite and with my bike ride, but apparently not enough. It was a brutal shuffle that last mile-plus home for me and a good lesson in training nutrition.

But, I bounced back and had a good long run on Sunday and today PR-ed in the 2 mile during a track workout with the XC boys. They are so fast! I was killing myself to run 80's each lap to pace my group while the top group was just cruising and clicking them off. THEY then did a sub-5:00 mile and sub-2:25 800, but I opted out of those and did some distance since my marathon prescription for Sunday is 17 miles with 14 at race pace. I needed to save something.

So, off to Happy Valley tomorrow and then another fun week ahead. Next thing you know, we'll be off to Florida and then I'll be running my marathon and then eating a whole bunch of turkey and fixin's four days later!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back home...

The trip to California was a success as Beth did great at the BOUS competition. She finished 4th and you can read all about it in her race report on her blog.

To pick up where I left off on the last blog entry, my flight was delayed in Pittsburgh. It turns out that there was a mechanical problem and they had to change planes. So, the time got pushed back from 5:00 to 5:30 to 5:50 (flight crew also got caught up in the rolling closures on the parkway west) and then we finally were all loaded on the plane around 6:10. We're all seated and ready to back out when I see out the window the little guy with the earmuffs and flashlights put up a big 'x' with his flashlights. Bummer--that can't be good. The pilot comes on and says that President Obama is taking off and all planes are grounded for the next 5 minutes......which turned in to 20 minutes.
So, I get some grading and reading done on the plane and I land in Dallas with about 25 minutes to spare. Unfortunately it was about 9:05 pm local time and all the eateries were closed! Bummer. No hot food. I had to settle for some of the granola bars and power bars I packed. At least the Auntie Anne's pretzel stand still had a few pretzels!

Back in the air a half hour later an the plane had the movie 'The Proposal' with Sandra Bullock. It was pretty funny and made the time go by pretty quick. Next thing you know, Beth and her mom picked me up at the airport and we got back to the hotel and in bed by about midnight (3:00 am eastern) making for a 23-hour day.

We slept in until 7am, had an AWESOME breakfast at the hotel and did the pre-race routine of Beth bike/run/swim. My job during that was to jog the run course and report back since it was mostly on trails and we couldn't drive it. So, I jog up the 2-ish miles from T1 to T2 and start running the course and I'm loving it--a gradual downhill for the first two miles (split sub-7:00's without pushing it). Around 2.5 miles in, the directions (which I had on a map in my pocket and written the highlights of on my hand) said to cut through this park and go up a hill. So, I cut through the park and then find a gate that locked with a padlock and chains. I didn't really know what was on the other side of it, so I didn't want to hop the fence. I figured I'd go around it, but pretty much backtracked 2 of the 2.5 miles and decided at that point to just head straight to the finish so Beth and her mom didn't think I got lost or eaten by a coyote. (We ended up being able to drive a lot of it before dinner anyway, so no big deal).

After the BOUS meeting and dinner at Olive Garden (3 rounds of the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl which I paid for Sunday morning before the race). We went back, watched the PSU-Iowa game (ugh!!) and retired before the 4am wakeup call Sunday morning. I've commented a few times how wakeup calls in time zones west of PA seem to be so much easier, but they really are. And, from what I hear, the converse is equally difficult. I haven't seen data this year, but last year in the NFL teams from the west had some terrible record when they had to play a 1pm game in the Eastern Time Zone. Speaking of terrible records, I read a stat that before today the number of Pirates road wins since the All-Star break: three. Ugh! Thank goodness Jen Harrison's Cubbies were nice enough to let them win this afternoon.

Beth swam (really fast) and left on her bike 8th. I knew I had an hour to kill until she got to T2, so I jogged up there and then continued just past T2 to the Saddleback Church campus. And it truly is a CAMPUS--it took me a good 8 or so minutes to jog the perimeter.
It was a little before 8am and none of the THREE services (traditional, praise, and 'overdrive') started until 9:00am. However, in two of the 'tents' I could hear them warming up and just listened from the outside and even poked my head in for about 5 minutes. It was great music with electric guitars, drums, and a great message. I could have stayed there all morning. However, all the time they were probably thinking, "Who's this weirdo in bright yellow and headphones hanging out in the back of the room while we're warming up?" Oh well.
Said weirdo with bright yellow shirt (a must for a true spectathlete so the triathlete can pick you out)

Senior Pastor Rick Warren's Parking Spot at Saddle Back. If the name sounds familiar, he's the author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and several follow-up books. I heard somewhere that it's been so successful that he and his wife now do 'reverse tithing' which means that they give to the church or ministries 90% of their money and keep the 10%. That's cool! One other thing was that they had a road leading into the church called 'Purpose Drive.' I find humor in wording like that!

So (back to the race) I leave the campus and head back over to T2 and see PA's male representative, Brian Duffy, come out first. I figured this was some good motivation to pass along to Beth since there was a state team title. For the women, out comes the first female who I didn't know (turned out to be a neat person who's a Christian named Bethany from Oklahoma), then Cindi B, Alice H, and Beth (All of which I then posted to Facebook before heading to my next cheering point to keep Marit and others updated)

This is Beth climbing a hill around 4.5 miles in to the run. Kimberly from Washington (a crazy-fast runner) had passed Cindi and Beth, but Beth had passed Alice so she was still 4th. Beth and Brian ended up losing the State title to Cindi and the Wisconsin Cheeseheads by 23 seconds. We were joking afterwards that I should have told Cindi (who had a 2-3 minute lead on Beth), "You've got 3rd wrapped up. Go ahead an slow down and save it for Kona in a few weeks." But, no, my coaching instincts wouldn't allow me to do that as I'm telling her good job and to drive her arms and keep the eyes up and to finish strong. Oh well.

This is Beth under the PA flag after the race. The wind wouldn't cooperate, so you can't see the flag too well.

Finally, big thanks to Jerry MacNeil (and wife Trudy) for putting on such a neat event. I know Beth loves it, I really enjoy the concept and going to it and I hope it continues to grow. I know Beth has made some good friends (and being the groupie that I am, I pick up friends, too!)

On the flight home, we had some crazy people in the row behind us with two cats. They were just weird! Our layover in Chicago was short and we were back in (now chilly!!!) Pittsburgh around 6pm. We picked up the dog, unpacked and went to bed and started the school week.

Training-wise, I snuck in 8 miles on Saturday morning (checking out the course) and estimated 5+ on Sunday during the race, so I'll take it. Back to serious running this week and gearing up for the big marathon in November.

The time from now until Thanksgiving has something going on just about every weekend (including two football games, three competing races, 4 big coaching/spectating races, and a college fair) but that's a whole other post in itself.