Monday, May 31, 2010

Uno Semana Mas!

Even though track officially wrapped up in PA on Saturday, we've got one more week. Tuesday is the boys' track banquet, Wednesday is the XC signup day, and Thursday and Friday is the Hershey Youth Track meet. After that, a big deep breath and a return to respectable training and time to see Beth.

Saturday morning brought about the State Meet. I've gone up for Fridays and the prelims the last few years, but it worked out best with our athletes (and the Calculus schedule) to go up on Saturday this year. We had two guys in the 3200 and a male shot putt-er and girl discus-er. I had my fingers crossed a couple of the others could sneak through to the finals so I could see them too, but their hard efforts and PR's fell just short on Friday.

Rad had a strong race and finished 5th with an amazing 9:09.

Sean ran strong and posted a solid time and had an amazing senior year.
Made it home in time Saturday night for us to go down to Cornerstone. Another amazing night of music and a great message on giving what you have in your life.
Then, on Sunday, Beth and I went to the Butler-Freeport trail by our house. It was perfect--shady and cool (at least cool for the first half hour). Beth had an 11 mi. run and I didn't want to do all of that since I was racing on Monday. So, I went out to mile 4 on the out & back and then just turned around to come back. Knowing I was going to have some time to kill, I carried the camera and snapped some shots of our favorite trail (and place of my half-marathon PR).
This first one sums up what most of the trail looks like. Lined with trees and shade, crushed limestone path, and mostly straight with a few bends.
Around 3.5 miles from Freeport, there is this creek that passes under. It just looks like a picture out of a movie or something.
Around 3 miles to Freeport, Route 28 passes over the trail on this HUGE bridge. It is just SOOOO tall.

Monday was the Gatons Memorial Day 5k. Kevin Gatons was one of Beth's high school cross country and track coaches. Four and a half years ago, he passed away at the state XC meet jogging the course with one of the GS athletes. It was just so sad in general, but really sad to see Cheryl and the kids at the funeral and to think the rest of their life would be without Kevin.
This race remembers Kevin and is worthy of his running ability as a lot of the top runners in the Pittsburgh area make their way out to Greensburg to race. Also, a handful of top high schoolers come out too, even on the heels of just competing in the State meet Friday and Saturday. All in all, it's a great celebration of Kevin and his life.

This is cousin K and I during our pre-race warmup. I think I may have developed a bit of a farmer's tan during the track season.

This is a post-race shot of the Lebo clan. They're fast (I definitely weigh down the average 5k time) and not afraid to sport the pink shorts. They broke those out all spring for the big track workout days. They're awesome and I can't say enough how impressive it is for them to wake up early on a non-school day and drive an hour to come do a 5k right after finishing their track season. Kevin would be proud!

Finally, here's a picture of Beth and Cheryl (Kevin's wife). Cheryl is so amazing! She was really close to qualifying for the Olympics back in 1996 and ran two really fast Pittsburgh marathons the last two years.
I remember the first time I met Kevin and Cheryl was when Beth and I were first dating and they took us out for dinner at Sharky's in Latrobe. What a great couple they were! And, in spite of everything going on at the race today and Cheryl I'm sure having so many things on her mind and so many people to talk to, one of the first things she said to Beth and I when she saw us was, "Beth-wasn't your birthday this past week? Happy Birthday!" We see Cheryl once a year and she still is so caring to think of Beth.

So, remember Kevin and the Gatons family and remember all the soldiers who paid the ultimate price for us so we can enjoy weekends like this and our freedom. Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Week in Pictures: Track and Columbia

Another whirlwind week. Tuesday was the girls track recognition night and I had a chance to recognize many great performances by the jumpers. Below is a picture of three irreplaceable seniors, two promising sophomores, a distinguished alumnae, and a happy coach with strawberry pie.
Just in case they didn't show up too well on the last shot--the strawberry pie and clipboard with a bunch of my 'sayings.'
The volunteer high jump coach (former college all-american) and his freshman daughter who qualified for the state meet on Thursday. He's TALL.

Also, it was a great year for the guys with two qualifiers for the district finals.

Much like most of my spring track meets, it was a soggy day for Beth's triathlon down in Maryland. My early entertainment for the day was watching cars attempt to make it up a muddy grass hill. It was just like watching cars try to get up a snowy and icy road.
We got there on Friday and at the expo I got my (almost annual) pair of "once-worn shoes" for $50. What a deal! These Saucony's retail for $130-$160!!
Before the race, Beth, Lindsay, and Kim.

While Beth's out racing, I was doing some goose-hunting.

Beth in T1.
Congrats to Laurel Wassner on the win. What an amazing athlete, cancer survivor, and supporter of cancer programs.
I got a wave from 6-time Kona Champion Natascha Badmann as she was nearing mile 6 of the run.

Mom got a shot of my spectathleting-in-action. I was on the return from cheering Beth in at the end. After the heavy rain at the beginning of the day, I shed the jacket for the standard obnoxious yellow for Beth to pick me out.

State meet next weekend. Congrats to all the Lebo qualifiers. I can't wait to go down to Shippensburg to see them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What KNOT To Do At Track Practice

...more on that in a minute. But first a recap of the last week or so.

Okay. Let's see. Team track playoff last Wednesday went decent. There's four sites with four teams each. You need to win your 'pod' to move on to the final four. Each meet is scored as a dual meet. The girls finished 2nd and the boys had a three way tie as the three of us went 2-1 (and the other 0-3). So, the tiebreaker is total points scored. We ended up 4 points short, so the team part of the track season is over and now the focus is individuals going to the district meet and (hopefully) the state meet.

Our meet Friday night was nice. We split our team and I went with the group to Pine Richland (where they have a GREAT coach's spread up in the press box - yum!). The weather was decent unlike the deluge we had last year. Saturday morning back at West Mifflin (again) was a whole different story. I've never been at such a windy meet. The weather channel had steady winds in the upper-teens/lower 20's with gusts into the 30's and 40's!!! I was knocked off balance a couple of times when I wasn't paying attention. In spite of this, a decent day for the jumpers.

Tuesday back to West Mifflin (again) for the district qualifier. The top 8 join 16 others from the two qualifiers next Thursday for district (WPIAL) bragging rights and a chance to go to the state meet. It was a nasty day. 50's and rain. I devised a multi-layered system of long-sleeve shirts, jackets, hoodies, and more jackets....and it worked pretty well. Things went well for the jumpers. On the boys's side, one guy qualified in the LJ and another in the TJ. On the girls' side, one girl qualified for the LJ and TJ, another snuck in as #8 TJ by 1/4", and a HJ made it.

Okay, so back to the "knot." In our preparations for the qualifier, a couple of the senior girls were harassing me about how I needed to do a long and triple jump at practice before they graduate (the same requests that I managed to avoid last year). Knowing that my quick-fire muscles have long left me, I still gave them an incentive of "if you make it to WPIAL's, I'll do a long jump and/or triple jump." I was pretty sure at least one of the girls would make it, but figured this would put a little carrot out there to provide entertainment.

Today was the day. I warmed up (a little), did a few run-throughs and pop-ups, and then it was time. First jump was okay, but I needed to get in a second one for the multiple qualifiers. On number two, my approach down the runway was feeling great, I hit the board right on, lifted into the air and WHAMO! Yes, the same feeling as back on Philly Marathon day back in November came back again. I think I caught it before it was too bad, but it's still a little sore tonight. Lesson taken away. No more athletic endeavors that involve fast-twitch muscles!!

Before today's debacle at the sand pit, the training's been going well. Between Sat-Sun-Mon, I racked up 33 miles and felt good. Next race is a 5k on Memorial Day, so hopefully all is well with Mr. Hammy between now and then.

In the sports world, Pirates are floundering (after a nice sweep of the Cubs) and it doesn't look good for the Pens in game 7.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Track Meets at My Second Home

West Mifflin has been/will be my second home for the next week. We were there on Saturday for an all-day track invitational that was led off by a motivational talk from Meb Keflezighi.
That makes the second time I've been around him after he spoke at the Foot Locker Nationals get-together that Rad did back in December.
We'll be back there on Wednesday for the team playoff. Big thanks to Wendy for helping me do some research on some of our opponents for the meet. We're definitely better prepared because of it.
Then, after a Friday evening of the Baldwin and Pine Richland Invitationals, back to (you guessed it!) West Mifflin for a 9th and 10th grade meet Saturday morning. And, if that's not enough, we're back there next Tuesday for the district individual qualifier. 4 times in 10 days. Nothing against West Mifflin, but I'll be glad to be done with it for the season after Tuesday.

In other news, it's the MERRY BERRY MONTH OF MAY at Eat'n Park. That means Strawberry Pie!! Yummie!!

Also, I haven't written much about it, but the Pirates are struggling. Not pitching well. 6 starters are hitting below .240. Poor defense. Iffy base-running. All that together makes for not a good team. Somehow, they're ONLY 10-15. There was a seven game losing streak where they lost 20-0 and 17-3 (and, no, those AREN'T football scores). Needless to say, I've already put my focus on the minor leagues. They are coming around--especially at AA Altoona (can't wait to get up there once school's over) and high A Bradenton (formerly Lynchburg).

So, with that. Off to get some things done that I won't get around to the next few days. Congrats to everybody who did the Pittsburgh marathon (including cousin K who PR'ed a 3:23) and IM 70.3's over the weekend.