Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lightning Race Report

First of all, thanks again for all the thoughts and prayers for my dad and for Bob. Both are home and both are doing well. My dad even took a 1+ mile walk around the neighborhood the other day.

Secondly, congrats to all the people competing down at St. Anthony's (Maija, Bree Wee, Bri & Marty Gaal, ...). Sorry to hear about the no swim, but hope you had a good experience down in St. Pete.

Okay, my race report. Beth and I ran the 9th Annual Burgh's Pizza & Wing Pub 5K & 10K Runs on the Montour trail down in Washington County. It was HOT for April that's for sure. Combine that with a crushed limestone surface (instead of road), my lack of training over the last two months (ankle injury & sickness), and I knew I was going to be in for a long day. It's an out & back that's somewhat uphill out and then downhill back.

Here's the splits:
Mile 1 - 6:13
Mile 2 - 6:36 (12:49)
Mile 3 - 6:31 (19:21...just over 20:00 at the turnaround)
Mile 4 - 6:33 (25:54)
Mile 5 - 6:25 (32:20)
Mile 6 - 6:24 (38:44)
0.2 - 1:15 (40:00 on the nose)

Not pretty, but I'll take it given the circumstances. The funny part of the race is that I was ALL ALONE for the last three miles. At the finish I was 2:11 back from the guy in front of me and 1:44 ahead of the guy behind me. The people at the finish line were probably wondering what was going on during that nearly 4 minute span. Beth rocked it and finished 2nd OA female. There was some $$ for the top 3 females, so that's always a nice perk above and beyond just competing.

Once we got home, I completed the final two legs of my 'triathlon' by mowing the 3-inch tall grass and then Beth and I going out to eat with part of the $$ from the race. We went to Eat'n Park...a Pittsburgh Staple and I can't wait because the Merry Berry Month of May is just around the corner!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Update: Dad's doing well

Everything was routine with the surgery. He's a little sore, sleepy, hoarse (tube down throat during operation), but nothing out of the ordinary. Bob has his kidney and is said to be doing well. Dad's kidney is functioning fine. Great news all around!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Dad Rocks

Just wanted to put in a quick post for everybody to keep my dad in your prayers on Monday. He's going to the Hospital (where Beth works) to donate one of his kidneys to a fellow church member. My dad and Bob have been going through tests since back in the fall to see if it would be a match. Everything has turned out positive and tomorrow's the day.

Beth, me, my dad, and my mom before the 2007 Pittsburgh Tri

What a selfless guy. This is simply reason number 837 out of 5,476,348,192 why my dad rocks and why I know that I am so lucky to have such a great role model. Among the other 5 billion reasons he rocks:

*A man who loves God - he's done just about everything in our church from give messages, sing in the choir, Sunday School Superintendent, compose & lead & play in musical accompaniments (he plays the trumpet), and pretty much everything else (like give people rides, money, and help out on various boards)

*A really smart dude - he just retired as a mechanical/nuclear engineer last May after working his entire career for Westinghouse (and the other companies that bought it thereafter)

*A talented musician - plays the trumpet, composes music, sings in a local music group (the Irwin Male Choir), and sings in the choir

*A talented athlete - played college baseball at Davidson College his first two years until all those crazy physics and engineering classes made him decide to hang up the spikes. He also ran track (sprints) in high school (and can STILL run a sub-70 second 400m while now qualifying for AARP), was a multiple-time league MVP in our softball league back in the 80's (and STILL plays and hits .300)

*The best dad ever - he has always been so selfless and giving of his time for me and my younger sister. He coached my little league team for a few years (although we went something like 3-29 in two years because he made sure everybody got their fair share of playing time), he's always willing to help Beth & I with our multiple home moves, willing to help out financially when I went back to get my teaching certificate (which allows me to hold my current awesome position of teacher and coach), and just SOOOOO many other things.

I'm just a lucky guy and hope I can accomplish half the life he has. Like I said, keep him and Bob in your prayers. My dad's got the 'easier' part and just needs to recover for a few weeks. Pray that Bob's body accepts the kidney and improves his health.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Logging the Miles

It sure has been a great break, but where did it go? It went something like this:

*Get on the plane for my PIT-CHI-SD flight, but plane stops after getting to full speed on the runway because the pilot thinks we hit a bird. An hour and a half later, we're off to Chicago and I make my connection by about 15 minutes. Good thing I only had carry-on's!

*Beth had an awesome race out at California 70.3. Other than the race, we went to a restaurant called Noodles three times, got to know some more triathletes (and get to know previous acquaintances better), enjoyed the San Diego Zoo, and went to La Jolla (expensive houses!) where we saw seals beached on the shore from about 10 feet away.

*Monday night/Tuesday morning (2am) we returned to Pittsburgh to SNOW!!! Our track meet Tuesday was cancelled and we had a pretty crappy week of practice with the poor weather. I was hoping this would be a solid week to get some good work in, but I guess you have to adjust. Big stretch coming up.

*Wednesday I went to the doctor to see what he thought about all of my congestion this winter. He thought it may be due to the chlorine from the pool. He gave me some nose spray and said to try it out for two weeks. If it doesn't improve, we're going to try a sinus MRI and blood work to test for allergies. I also had a big day of cleaning out the garage and cleaning the cars.

*Thursday was grass cutting day and several other odds and ends and the sad memorial of the three police officers who were killed in the line of duty. We were able to become a part of the unplanned Route 28 procession for the officer who was going home to Indiana, PA. It was breath-taking and tear-jerking to see the line of police cars escorting the casket and family. My heart goes out to the families and my appreciated was renewed in our police, fire, military, and all who serve our country.

*Friday we picked up our new phones from the Verizon store (remember the Beth and the Port-a-jon story from Oceanside?) and we've been slowly getting used to them this weekend. We then picked up Beth's grandfather in Uniontown and met up with Beth's mom, dad, sister, and brother-in-law in Charleston, WV to celebrate Easter and to see Beth's dad's bridge. We ended up not going to a baseball game there because there were some pretty nasty storms Friday night. Oh well, this is just an excuse to go back down there later this summer.

*Saturday we came back to Greensburg to spend the night and celebrate Easter with my family. We went to church where I grew up and it's always good to see the people, but kind of sad since the Pastor and his family (including a great friend) left a few years ago. Of course, Easter's big because it's the whole point of our faith. Jesus sacrificed his life for us. What makes Him different from all the other religions is that we believe He came back to life, walked among the people, and ascended to Heaven. No other religion claims a leader that lives eternally.

*We got home around 5pm and didn't feel like making a messing with a meal, so we opted for the Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready deal. Yes!

*All told, according to a crude calculation on a map-my-course application, about 5,000 miles this week. Whew!!

*The rest of the night was spent playing around with the cell phone some more and getting ready for the week ahead. We've got a developmental (9th & 10th grade) meet on Tuesday, Butler (Varsity boys) and Seneca Valley (JV) Invites on Friday night, and Hempfield (girls) Invite on Saturday. Next Tuesday (4/21) is the section championship and I can't believe how fast things are flying by!

*Oh, by the way, the Pirates are a week in. They're 3-3 heading into the home opener Monday (I'll be wearing the Baseball tie to school Beth's sister got me). They haven't looked too bad so far. The pitching has been better than expected and the offense has been so-so. We'll see what happens. I'll be following the minor leagues this year pretty closely to see if the management's plan of building from within works. I guess I still need to do my Pirates season preview. Good luck with that with my schedule this week. Maybe I can do it on my cell phone at some point.

Have a great week!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Random Topics

Lots of things in my head, so I'll just throw them out there:

* Thoughts and prayers with the three police officers who were killed over the weekend. Beth and I were coming home from eating out and were able to be a part of the Route 28 procession. It was pretty moving to see all the police cars

* Speaking of the biggest sacrifice, remember Jesus and the sacrifice that he made that we are remembering this weekend

* I don't think I mentioned this before, but I gave up pop for Lent. I had one weak moment in San Diego. Other than that I've kept to it. The whole topic of lent is an interesting discussion for another day....

* The Pirates split their first four games in St. Louis. They looked better than I thought they would, but that's not saying much. More importantly, Pedro Alvarez went 3-for-4 with a HR in his debut in Lynchburg

* Arizona found their new basketball coach in former Pitt player and Xavier coach Sean Miller. It's an interesting pick and I hope he stays there a long time. Also, former U of A player/coach Josh Patsner has his first shot as head coach with Memphis. He's only 31--that's awesome.

* We're heading to Charleston, WV to meet up with Beth's family. Beth's dad is working on a bridge there and we're going to see it. We may also sneak in a WV Power (Pirates minor league affiliate) game if the weather cooperates

* I have now realized how much your knuckles are used and my dumb cuts hurt each time: getting keys out of pocket, collecting grass, is endless.

* Track has been somewhat disjoint for me with being away and this week being spring break. I'm looking forward to a good week of practice before the Butler/Hempfield Invites next weekend.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

All in the Line of Duty

As Beth kicked off her 2009 triathlon campaign, I had a parallel kickoff of my 'spectathlete' campaign. My pre-race assist in mapping out the course (among other trip directions in the 'packet'), helping organize the equipment (aka equipment manager) and raceday cheering. As I've stated in the past, triathlons are good events for me to cheer at. I'm not good at sitting around with nothing to do for five hours. So, I like to run around.

(By the way, Beth ended up 6th in her new 30-34 age group and 9th overall amateur among a pretty tough field)

My day went something like this:

* Get up at 3:45 am (not too bad since it was like 6:45 in PA)
* Eat bagel, muffin & apple
* Drive over to the course and help Beth get set up (BOY was it cold--in the 40's)
* Before you know it, the race kicks off and Beth is on her way.

Earlier waves swimming in the harbor with the 'Oceanside' on the side of the hill (kind of like 'Hollywood' up the I-5)

Beth's waving getting started

* After this, I saw Beth get out of the water and then take off on her bike. She was in around 12th place coming out of the water.
* Now, I've got some time to kill since most of the bike was on Camp Pendleton (restricted access to us non-military and non-competing triathlete types). So, I figured I'd scout out the run course. So I get in about a 6 mile run to eat up some time.
* I position myself then back near the finish by the run turnaround (also where the bikes come in) to scout things out and see if I could snap some pictures (I'm not so good at remembering to take pictures when I get into the cheering). I got some decent ones of some of the pro's like Andy Potts and Mirinda Carfae. Also, our friend we met at Marit's, Courtenay, making her pro triathlon debut.

Then, after moving over the bridge, I mapped out the plan to catch Beth a couple of times on the run even though it was roughly an out & back. It made a one street jog over and they had to run about 1/4 of a mile on sand (boy did THAT stink for the runners). I figured if I made a straight shot and booked it, I could catch her 8 times on the run (true spectathlete caliber cheering). See map below:

The problem was, I needed to BOOK IT to get to the far point for cheering (on the right on the map). I was busting in and running parallel with Beth. All of the streets between Pacific and The Strand were closed and had police barriers (those 'horses') and a sign saying 'Street Closed.' Well, at about the second or third intersection, I decided to split between the horse and the sign since it was a straight shot off the sidewalk. What I failed to do is recognize that the temporary signs had 'legs' that came out just about to the horse. My toe caught this metal leg and WHAM-O down I went in a heap! I was carrying my water bottle in one hand and my camera in the other, so my knuckles got scraped up pretty good.

But, I got up quickly, dusted myself off and made it out to the far point to cheer. With my knuckles bleeding pretty good, I needed to wash the gravel out of the hand and get the bleeding to stop. Well, I had my water bottle, so that flushed it out and I used some kleenex to clot the bleeding. No worse for the wear, so back to cheering. All in the line of duty of a spectathlete/equipment manager.

Beth came back past again, so then I booked it back to catch her again. She did the turnaround and came back through. I cheered her on and then back out to the far cheering location. She comes back past (running out of gas a little) and I ran back to the near point one last time. To be completely frank, I'm glad she slowed down a little because I was starting to get a little tired myself.

If you're keeping score at home, my 'workout' today was:
6 miles at a moderate pace to scout out the run course
4 x 1.2 miles at probably a little under 7 minute pace (plus the spill)
Other various walking around which probably totaled another 2 or so miles.

All in all, it was a pretty fun day. Beth and I got our photo on the beach, she found out she got a Clearwater slot, and we went out in a party of 10 (Me & Beth, Marit & husband & mom, Chad & Jen, Jen & Jerome, and Courtenay) to a restaurant with GREAT BURGERS!!!
We've got a fun & relaxing day planned for Sunday including visiting the zoo and getting ready for our return home on Monday. I hear there may be snow on Tuesday for our track meet. Uh oh!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ah, Track Season...and an interesting plane ride

School, track practice, dinner, odds & ends, bed. Sprinkle in an occasional meet and Saturday invitational and that equals not getting around to blogging in a while.
Since I've got a few minutes before dinner, I figured I'd sit down and write one. I'm out in San Diego (technically Oceanside--40 min north of SD airport) and we're getting ready for Beth's triathlon debut of the season--Ironman 70.3 California. My role is the equipment manager. I play a role on the day before the race helping Beth prepare for the race. Beth flew out Thursday morning and I flew out Thursday after school.

How did I get here? Well that's kind of an interesting story.

I swung by track practice after school and set up a few things and made some final arrangements for Saturday's race and then off to the airport. We were on the plane and ready to take off for Chicago. We get to the runway, it's our turn, and we start speeding up. We're at that point right when we're about to take off when, all of the sudden, we slow down a little at first and then the flaps on the wing pop up and we slow down A LOT. We come to just about a complete stop and then the plane drives off to a side runway and the trucks with the flashy lights drive up....


Beth is already out in Oceanside, flying out with Chad & Jen Thursday morning. They get their luggage, eat lunch/dinner at Noodles, and go over to packet pick-up by the pier. After going through the expo, Beth needed to make a quick pit stop. There were a row of port-a-jons, her cell phone is in her back pocket, and...........there was a ker-plunk!..........Uh-oh!

Back to me....

The pilot gets on the PA and tells us that he thinks that they may have hit something while speeding up on the runway. Perhaps a bird or something. So, they needed to check out pretty much all of the bottom of the plane--specifically the wheels and the bottom side of the wings. After an hour and a half, we were finally cleared to take off. However, now my connection in Chicago was going to be very tight.

Will I make it?.......

While waiting for our plane to finish inspection and wait for clearance, I check my voicemail and there's a message from Beth from Chad's phone saying about how she no longer has a cell phone. In the end, it was kind of funny but now we have to get a new phone. I didn't want to call her back and add to her stress of whether or not I make it to my connection yet, so I figured I'd just call her when I got to Chicago. No problem because I had plenty of time.

Plenty of time...until it took FOREVER for us to be 'cleared' by the airline's mechanic office in San Fransicso. The pilot said that this was the longest he's had to wait for a clearance from the main office (or so they say...)

So, the plane is scheduled to land in Chicago at 7:40 central time. My plane leaves at 8:00. How far do I have to go between gates? So as soon as we get on the ground, I turn on my phone and try to call to find out what gate I need to go to. Who do I call who is probably on the internet? My dad, probably not--I'll save him for last. I tried my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, mom....none of them picked up. Okay, try my dad and he doesn't have the computer on, but he turns it on and logs on. He tells me that the gate is only 10 down.

So, I get off the plane, power walk down through the hallway, call Chad's phone (since Beth's is in the pooper), and buy a personal pan pizza (8:00 eastern time and no dinner yet). I'm talking to her and she gets on the phone and wants to tell me the story about the cell phone. I tell her that I've got three minutes to get on the plane and can't talk long. I told her that "there were better ways to get a Blackberry or an IPhone."

Anyway, we're here. Beth, Chad, & Jen did some pre-race workouts and I did some running, too. We did lunch at Subway and we're going to have dinner tonight and then the big race tonight.

Here's some pictures from today:

A picture of the Oceanside Pier

A picture of an establishment I first learned about in Phoenix when I was just learning Spanish--El Pollo Loco. Translated: The Crazy Chicken. I love the name!!!