Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Raceday DNS

The short story--didn't run the race this morning. But, Beth did awesome finishing as the 3rd female and at 63:50.

The long story--here's what happened:

It all started back on Wednesday. We had Wed-Thu-Fri off from track as indoor is finished and outdoor starts officially on Monday. It was BEAUTIFUL out that afternoon, so I figured I'd do a little mile repeat workout at school to get ready for the big 10-miler on Saturday. Beth was shooting for 65 minutes (6:30 pace), so I figured I better make sure I can hang with her for at least some of it.

So, off to the track workout I go. My goal: 3x1600 in 6:00 with 2:00 rest in between. In short, it went GREAT! My 3 miles were something like 5:48, 5:54, and 5:51. Heck, I even felt so great, I decided to throw in an 800 at the end since it felt so good and it was such as nice afternoon weather-wise. 800 time--2:41. I'm loving life!

The other reason I stayed after at school to do the repeats instead of going home was that I was sticking around to watch the girls hoops game at 6pm at a "neutral site" 8-10 minutes down the road from the high school. This was the first game I've been at this year (although I went to two practices and listened to two on the Internet). The game went as predicted it would for an undefeated team. They jumped out early and cruised to an easy win. It was a fun Wednesday.

Thursday was a recovery day as I like to "taper" for my races since I'm not taking them too seriously. Then, on Friday, I did 35 minutes and 5 striders with Beth before school. After school, I was asked to participate in the faculty vs intramural champion basketball game. I figured just stay out of trouble and it will be fine. DON'T GET HURT!!! Heck, Beth and I even exchanged emails during the day about not twisting an ankle.

But, sure enough, I tried to be a hero and block a shot and came down on my foot awkwardly and twisted my ankle. I walked it off for a few minutes and actually played in the 2nd half of the basketball game.

As I drove home, I could feel it stiffening and swelling up. I iced it as soon as I got home and took some Advil. I was just hoping it was okay since I was able to play more in the game and I would still run on Saturday.

Race morning, I wrapped it up and Beth and I went over to North Park. I wrapped the ankle and tried to give it a go. But, it was not to be. So, I fell in to my familiar equipment manager/photographer role.

Beth did awesome and almost caught 2nd place, but time-wise was pumped finishing at 63:50 (since her goal coming in was 65). For me, I wanted to try to limp around for a least 1 time around the lake (5 miles) but my smarter half (Beth) talked me out of it. Oh well. Live to race another day. My next race probably won't be until May since outdoor track starts on Monday. That's fine. Take a little break and then begin training for the Philly marathon (November).

Bottom line, hard lesson learned today.

In other news, good luck to the boys and girls hoops teams as they both go for WPIAL championships tonight!

College basketball and spring training updates coming soon.

UPDATE: Beth convinced me to ice my ankle in her ice bath while she was icing. This puts to rest who is the tougher of the two of us. Beth: Entire lower half of her body in the ice week after week. Me: Tearing up my just having my ankle in the ice and it's only been 5 minutes!!!

UPDATE #2: Congrats to the Mt. Lebo girls' hoops team on becoming WPIAL champs, 50-24. Now, it's the boy's turn. Good luck against Peters Township.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Athlete's Eutrophia - & other pics

The big news this past week is that Beth unveiled her website for her nutrition consulting business, The Athlete's Eutrophia. You can read about it more on her blog entry from this past week, but it's something she's been thinking about for a while now and it's exciting to see it getting started. It's been some extra hours, but it'll be exciting to see where it goes.

As far as our business "structure" you would consider Beth the President, CEO, Dietitian, Marketing, PR, and Athletic Consultant. My roles are the VP, Financial Secretary, IT, and High School Sports Liaison. :)

As far as what else is going on, I figured I'd document it in pictures so I could write less:
Beth received sponsorship from Saucony this week. That's a big catch and will be a great help with Beth shoes and running/tri apparel.

I did a 40 minute run on Wed, swim on Fri (7x100, 6x25), and two runs this weekend (no pics). Yesterday, I did 7.5 miles in 57 minutes (7:35/mi) and today I did 11.4 miles in 90 minutes (7:54/mi pace). We're doing the Spring Thaw (10 miles) this Saturday. I haven't been training too hard lately, so the expectations are lower, but we'll see what happens.

This morning, Beth participated in the CMU mile swim meet at (obviously) Carnegie Mellon. Fellow teachers Ben & Jon did it also as well as Matt and Sarah from the morning high school swim group. There were also people from Beth's Pitt Masters group and a runner/triathlete Beth and I met at Chad's triathlon party last fall. It was much more fun than last year since I knew more people.

Beth rocked it, finishing over a minute faster than last year. Check out her name in lights!

This is Beth & her coach Jen (from Pitt masters) who, in my opinion, is a dead ringer for Tea Leoni. Two movies I enjoyed that she was in were The Family Man (w/ Nicholas Cage) and Spanglish (w/ Adam Sandler).
And, finally, my highlight of the morning. The 2nd or 3rd in command at Eat'n Park swam and he brought DOZENS of smiley cookies. At first, I was thinking they were probably just for the swimmers, so I stayed away. But as the morning wore on, I saw kids eating some (and I'm a big kid, right?) so I ate one. There were still a ton of them left so I ate two more as we watched other people swim over the next hour or two. In fact, there were so many left, I even took one for the road and at it as dessert tonight. That's right, FOUR Eat'n Park cookies in one day. YUM!!!

Have a great start to the week!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Farewell to Rossmary

We received a letter in the mail today from Compassion International. They informed us that the 11-year-old child we sponsor, Rossmary, "is no longer enrolled in our sponsorship program. We have learned that her family situation has improved to where outside assistance is no longer needed."

This is great for her that things are going well that she doesn't need the support any longer, but makes us a little sad since it was so sudden. Hopefully she take what she learned in the Compassion program and takes it with her the rest of her life.

We began sponsoring Rossmary four or five years ago through the organization Compassion International. She is from Peru outside of Lima. It's a very well-run organization that has always received high marks regarding financial efficiency. We strongly recommend it as a great opportunity to invest money into a great organization that helps children around the world who need it the most.

In the program, we received four to six letters a year from her and we tried to send her a message once a month or so through the online "email." It's always fun because I always try to go back and look at the original Spanish letter that gets sent to us and try to see how much I can translate before reading the English-translated message.

Farewell Rossmary. God bless and we hope that you make a difference for Jesus in your community and maybe someday around the world. We look forward to finding out who the new child will be that we have a chance to sponsor and make part of our lives.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Don't Forget the Gas

No, this isn't in reference to any Valentine's Day dinner over the weekend....

Instead, it's from part of the message that the pastor had in the message from Saturday. The topic we are currently studying is prayer. The point of the message was to get across that we need to make time for prayer. The story went something like:

If you were running low on gas, you wouldn't want to stop before church because you want to get there on time. But, you ran out of gas right beside the BP (at the bottom of the hill by the church). However, instead of filling up, you decide to push the car up the hill (somehow) because you don't want to take the time to stop for gas.

Sound silly? That was his point. We need to take the time go get our spiritual gas tank filled up every day. If not, we'll not have the strength that's available to help us through the day.

By the way, the past month Beth and I have been going to a Saturday night church service at a church called Cornerstone down on Route 22 in Murrysville on the recommendation of a friend. Our goal is to not have to rush around Sunday morning with workouts before church. We figured Saturday night was a better option because it's not like we would be going out clubbing or anything.

So far, so good. The pastor has great messages, the praise sets at the beginning rock, and we're sneaking in a meal at Hoss's every once in a while now since there's one just down the road. We're thinking this is just a short term thing until the weather gets a little nicer, there's more daylight, and we can start our runs a little earlier on Sundays.


Penn State - Finally won a game against after losing three in a row. They currently stand at 18-8 overall and 7-6 in the Big Ten with 5 conference games left (@ #16 Illinois, @ OSU, Indiana, Illinois, @ Iowa). In my opinion, they need to go 3-2 in these games and make it to the conference tourney semi's to make it to the NCAA tourney

Arizona - Has come from the dead to win 7 in a row (including a sweep of the LA schools over the weekend). They currently stand at 18-8 overall and 8-5 in the Pac-10 with 5 games left (@ ASU, @ the Washingtons, home vs Bay area). I think it's a similar scenario for them. Go 3-2 in the last 5 games and make the conference semi's. We'll see what happens. Maybe the guys are buying into the interim coach's system finally.

Davidson - They're cruising, but the big story is that Stephen Curry sprained his ankle on Saturday. He should be ready to go for the Bracket Buster Saturday match-up against #22 Butler this weekend. Davidson just needs to keep getting better and take care of business in the SoCon tourney for the automatic bid. I'm not convinced they would get an at large bid.

But, in the most recent "Bracketology" update, Davidson is seeded as a #9, so who knows. Arizona is now in as a #12 seed (listed as one of the "last four in" and Penn State is listed as one of the "last four out." So much can happen in the next month. I love the excitement of it! Oh yeah, in a REAL match-up of basketball powers #4 Pitt is at #1 UConn. I bet you can guess who I'm rooting for....

Okay, off to the grocery store. My dad's coming over for dinner tomorrow night (mom's out of town on a business trip) and we're going to treat him to some chili, salad, and cornbread.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Pitchers and Catchers Day!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Other than perhaps the opening day of March Madness or the opening day of baseball, this one takes the cake. The day that pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton, Florida (just south of the bay from Tampa & St. Pete) for spring training for the Pirates. It means that warm weather and spring are just around the corner for Western PA. I can't wait.

By the way, we got a lot of wind from the storm last night, but not much else. We were fortunate because other parts of the Pittsburgh area had some pretty bad wind that knocked down trees and power.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Here comes the rain...

...and out goes the warm temps for another month or so. Bummer! It was a nice little run of weather for mid-February, so I guess I can't complain too much. We had such a lovely afternoon of practice. Shorts and t-shirts in February is a rare occurrence in western PA.

The big question is whether this system that's about to come through will give us violent wind and storms like it did in Oklahoma and up the Ohio river valley. Stay tuned.
Not much else going on here. My workouts are still sporadic as I'm still in an off-season mode and I'm also more involved in the coaching end of things in track as compared to cross country when I ran with the guys every day.

The district playoff basketball seedings came out last night. The school where I teach has the girls as the #1 seed and the boys as the #3 seed (and predicted favorite). So, we'll see how it goes. After the district playoffs is the state playoffs where 4 or 5 teams from the district move on. It should be fun and I'll hopefully have another opportunity to be the basketball equivalent to the tackling dummy for the girls team in the next few weeks.

Two more days until Pirates pitchers and catchers report to spring training. I CAN'T WAIT!!! I don't know why I follow the Pirates with so much passion, but I do. One thing that I don't believe I've mentioned about over the past few weeks was the pickup of free agent Eric Hinske.

This is an interesting acquisition. I have to admit though that I'm a little biased in the Pirates signing him. The reason why is two summers ago before a trading deadline, I had the baseball equivalent of a man-crush on him. At the time, he was young (28 at the time), locked up for the next three years at a reasonable price, left-handed power bat (to mash balls into the Allegheny before they traded for Adam LaRoche), and expendable in Toronto (after they acquired Lyle Overbay & Troy Glaus and Alex Rios was beginning to take off).

Beth can vouch for this, but for about two weeks, I was pleading with the computer to hope that the Pirates would pick up Eric Hinske for their bench during the peak of the trading season in baseball. I even submitted questions to the Post-Gazette's Pirates Q&A outlining the merits of acquiring him to help lobby for him.

Alas, it didn't come to be. That year (August '06) The Boston Red Sox ended up acquiring him for practically nothing (the infamous minor league player to be named later). I was upset that the Pirates didn't at least look into it (nothing in the rumor mill about it even) since their bench consisted of guys like Rajai Davis, Yurendell DeCaster, Mike Edwards, Joe Randa, Jeromy Burnitz, and Jose Hernandez (all now out of baseball 2 years later).

And, do you know what happened to the Red Sox in 2007 when Hinske was a bench player for them? They won the World Series. In 2008, he was a free agent and signed a minor league contract with Tampa Bay (again, come on Pirates--low risk minor league free agent). He ended up being a key member of the Rays' bench and contributed as a starter for a stretch due to injuries. Guess what Tampa Bay did in 2008.....made the World Series.

This brings us to 2009. Eric Hinske is now a Pirate, so based on the past few years you can now expect the Pirates to.........yeah right. I can't even bring myself to write it the thought is so far-fetched.

I read this one article about him from his hometown paper from tiny Menasha, Wisconsin (Note: I looked it up on a map, it's this small town in the middle of Wisconsin near a Lake Winnebago). It really spoke to how strong of a character guy he is and how he helped some of the younger Tampa Bay guys get into some strong professional routines on gameday. So, while his signing meant that last year's clubhouse heart & soul (Doug Mientkiewicz) won't be re-signed, it sounds like Hinske's a pretty good guy, too.
Much more to come in the upcoming weeks on the Pirates and their (not so great) outlook for the 2009 season....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday Speed Blog

* Awesome weather--great to have it be 50 degrees. I ran with Beth for 30 minutes today in shorts and a long sleeve! Tomorrow morning 2 hour run. I hope it's still kind of nice.

* Survived HS Girls' basketball Saturday practice #2 this morning. The first hour we teachers/coaches weren't too involved other than playing the role of a body between the "bigs" and the basket. The second hour we had a chance to play some defense and a little transition offense. I didn't trip and fall to the ground this week, but my side-to-side muscles are yet again reminding me that I'm a distance runner now...

* Penn State hoops came back to reality on Thursday night getting crushed by 20 at Michigan. We'll see if they can bounce back against Wisconsin in the BJC.

* Davidson lost their first conference game in a couple of years on their home court against Bobby Cremmins and the College of Charleston. I guess that's okay since they just have to worry about winning their conference tournament. Maybe losing a game will help them refocus over the next month.

* Pitchers and catchers report next weekend. I can't wait!!! Emails are starting to circulate about the potential date of our fantasy baseball draft. This is a great group that started my sophomore year on Founders Hall A-2 at Elizabethtown College. I can't believe we've been doing this since 1997.

* Fun track meet at Pitt on Thursday. Our 400 guy ran a sub 52 and finished 2nd. I was up at the Cost Center serving as the fill-in pole vault coach (our coach was sick and couldn't make it). I learned some things, but am still baffled by the pole vault.

* The music group Third Day is coming to Pittsburgh in March. Beth and I were thinking of going, but then we saw that the tickets were $48 each. That's a little on the steep side. We're not big fans of crowds anyway, so we'll probably pass on this one.

Good night all!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Now What?

The Steelers are Super Bowl Champs. 2nd time in four years. that's impressive. When they won back in '05, I was 'satisfied' from the championship with Steeler football for the entire 2006 season. Didn't care one way or another how the season turned out. I wonder how long it will last this time?

There was a big parade on Tuesday with an estimated 350,000 people attending, including many students from my school. In one class, I only had five kids!!! I was in a predicament because of a snow day last week, I needed to push back a test from last Friday. I wasn't about to give it Monday because it would be fair to expect them to study with the Steelers in the Super Bowl. So, I gave it Tuesday, but there was a rash of 'absences' due to the parade. So, there's just going to be a lot of make ups this week.

With the football season now being over, this got me to thinking how I transition through my year in sports. Now that the Steelers are done, I move on to college basketball through the beginning of April which transitions into the Pirates & MLB through the summer which transitions back to Penn State & the Steelers in the fall. And, of course, being the Microsoft Excel nerd that I am, I charted out my sports following priority throughout the year:

With college basketball, I follow the University of Arizona (aunt lives out there), Penn State (I went there), and Davidson College (my dad went there). It should be an interesting February to see what type of seed Davidson will end up with, whether Penn State can do enough to earn a berth, and see if Arizona can go on an amazing run to keep their consecutive tourney streak going. I follow the Penguins, too, but more from a distance.

I'm ALWAYS following the Pirates. Dejan Kovacevic, bless his heart, is the Pirates beat writer for the Post-Gazette. He does such an AMAZING job of giving great stories on the Pirates not only during the season, but also throughout just about the entire off-season via his Post-Gazette Pirates Blog. I check it out daily to see if there's any updated news.

Throughout the summer, I follow the Pirates and all the minor league affiliates. Last summer, I made a trip up to Altoona the one night when Beth was in Chicago, which was a blast. This summer, my dad, sister, and I are going to do a three-day trip around the Frederick area to various games. It should be fun.

So, there you have it. It's topics like this that are blog-worthy when it's single-digits outside and you can't go out. Brrrr!

In other news, there's an indoor track meet tomorrow night. We're nearing the end of indoor season and will be transitioning to prepare for outdoor track in March.

Not much on the training news this week. I'm going swimming Thursday morning, then running with Beth Friday morning, and then being the basketball equivalent to a football tackling dummy for the high school girls basketball team on the way, today (four days later) is the first day I didn't have any stiffness when I woke up. I'm glad to get some back-up from former Florida all-state hoopster Bri Gaal on the different types of fitness between distance running and basketball. I can't believe how sore I was/am.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Welcome to SIX-burgh!!!!

What a great game. Six-time Super Bowl champs!!! More analysis to come down the road.

Almost time...

We've got everything taken care of. The only thing left to do today is to watch the big game!!! The DiGiorno Pizza is getting ready to be placed in the oven. What more could you ask for.

The Steelers are favored by a touchdown in the game, but you never know what's going to happen. The Steelers defense SHOULD be able to control the Arizona running game and hopefully put pressure on Kurt Warner. The Arizona defense hasn't been statistically good all year (except in the first two rounds of the playoffs). The Steelers should be able to move the ball. Here's some issues that I think could affect the game:

1. Can the Steelers get enough pressure on Kurt Warner? If not, Warner has Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Breaston to throw to.
2. Is Larry Fitzgerald defensible? Kurt Warner can just throw the ball up and know that Larry's going to go get it. They just need a couple of big plays to change the game.
3. If the Steelers get pressure on Warner, he's been know to fumble the ball. Can they win the turnover battle? There's some crazy high percentage of teams who win the turnover battle win the Super Bowl.
4. Is Woodland Hill's Steve Breaston going to be a presence of special teams? I remember a certain game with certain clock issues back when he was at Michigan (I'm not bitter) where he changed the momentum of the game with a return. He also returned one against the Steelers last year when they played in the regular season.
5. Will the Steelers' O-line play well? If not, then the running game won't work and then Roethlisberger will have to pass more and may try to do too much and throw interceptions (see #3).
6. Will Hines Ward be healthy? If not, we all know how (not) well Limas Sweed played last game (BIG DROP). This will again cause the Arizona D to focus more on the run, making it tough to run, causing Ben to pass more (see #5 and #3)
7. Will the crowd be an issue? Can it be so pro-Steeler and so loud that it will cause Arizona issues on offense (false starts and bad timing)?
8. Will my father-in-law's favorite player, Leonard Pope (TE from Georgia), be a factor? Probably not, but I just had to give a Leonard Pope plug.

It wasn't pretty down the stretch with the AWFUL free throw shooting (missed 4 or 5 in a row at one point), but their 12 point lead was just enough as they ended up winning by 4 at #9 Michigan State. That's the first time EVER they've won in East Lansing, following up the first time they ever won in Bloomington earlier in January (but that almost doesn't count since Indiana hasn't won in the Big Ten yet this year). PSU was throwing up crazy long 3 pointers that were poor decisions, but they kept going in (including even one that banked in). It was bringing back memories of Jon Crispin chucking up 3 pointers from so deep that they were nearly from the Lion logo on the court. With this win, the Nittany Lions are getting closer to a tournament berth. They've still got work to do as 5 of the last 9 are on the road.

Also, Davidson won by 3 at Samford. It was ugly shooting, but a win is a win on the road. Arizona swept the "Washingtons" this weekend to keep their faint NCAA tourney hopes alive. They're still on the outside looking in, but we'll see.

High School Hoops
Speaking of basketball, I had a chance with a couple of other coaches/teachers at school to help at our high school's girls basketball practice Saturday morning. They're #1 in the district and #3 in the state and lost in the state final last year. The coach was feeling like they needed more of a challenge in practice to get them ready for the playoffs, so she asked us to come in a give the girls a little more incentive to work hard in practice. What more to get you motivated than sticking it to your algebra/calculus teacher and making him look silly on the court?

I have to admit that all I know about basketball is just from watching it on TV and playing in pickup and intramural games. So, my overall basketball IQ is pretty low. But, the main goal for our "scout team" was to apply a full court press and just play tough defense on the girls, so they would have to work a little harder. Not much thinking involved, just run around like a mad man.

My main goals were to 1) Run hard and make the girls work harder and 2) Not get hurt. Both were accomplished (#2 had a couple of close calls, though), but I know my calling is not in basketball. I got "crossed over" by the point guard a couple of times, causing me to trip over my own feet and spill to the ground. Oh well, hopefully they got a lot out of the practice.

Let me tell you, though, when I woke up today I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. Playing basketball and distance running are two completely different muscle sets. I was (and still am) stiff and sore--quads (all the backpedaling), lower back, hips, knees, ankles...... I remarked to the coach after the 2-hour practice that running a half marathon would be so much easier than all that running I just did in practice.

I went out with Beth this morning for an 80 minute run. I after working out the kinks it wasn't too bad of a run (how can it NOT be when it's nearly 40 degrees and sunny?!?!?!?). But, the legs sure felt heavy after about an hour. I now know what Beth's legs feel like for EVERY Sunday run after the long hard bike workouts on Saturday. She's a machine!!!!!

Okay, it's Pittsburgh Steeler Time. GO STEELERS!!!!!