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
*Nap or afternoon activity (movie/dog/scrabble/etc)
*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.


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 third weekend there in since March. It's becoming like a second home!!