Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10-10-10 well on its way

Thanks for the awesome people who have supported the Running for Laptops so far! I am now past halfway in meeting my overall fundraising goal but I hope to blow past it in the upcoming month.

My short-term goal is to get 10 people to donate $5-$10 by February 10th.

Thus "10-10-10"

If you can help, click here.

Here's a story from one of the amazing students you could possibly be supporting. I've edited it a little to avoid specifics.

I have been in foster care for the past five years.......My favorite activities include going to school for criminal justice which is my major and psychology which is my minor.....My chosen career is to either be a detective or to work in a treatment facility for adolescents. The reason I chose these careers are.... I see the effects have on kids and I want to help. I know how they feel and I want to give them opportunities I never had. The kids in the facilities are just that, kids. They see the drugs/alcohol solve their parent's problems, and so they believe that they will also solve their problems. I want to put them on the right track. When I was placed into foster care it was the best thing that has and could have happened in my circumstances, but not everyone is that lucky. This is my time to pay it forward. I want to show them there is a light at the end of the tunnel of darkness. I want to show them that they can also make a difference if they believe in their dreams. I hope you select me for a laptop, because yes I have access at school to a computer but not when I need to do work at home. I want to make a difference and you can help.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sponsor Update and 10-10-10

Beth and I updated her website to reflect her 2012 sponsors as she begins her professional career as a triathlete. Pretty exciting stuff.

Speaking of sponsors, as I head into February, I'm looking for some awesome people to help
support me through the charity Running for Laptops that I'm working with for the Pittsburgh Marathon. The organization's goal is to raise funds to purchase laptops to give children as they age out of the foster care system in the Pittsburgh area.

Here's my goal: 10-10-10

10 people to give $5 - $10 by February 10th (Notice the "10" theme?). I'm not asking for the moon....but, hey, if you can give more than $10 that's great, too.


If so, click here.

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Weekend

Here's an "exciting" timeline since Friday:

*Leave track practice
*Meet Beth at Qdoba for $5 Friday Burritos
*Go home and clean the upstairs
*Beth goes for her 2nd swim of the day while I catch up on Hawaii 5-0
*Go to bed around 10pm

*Wake up around 5:45
*Walk dog
*4 mile run
*Get ready and leave for track meet in Edinboro a little before 8am
*Make the trek up I-79 to Edinboro...a couple of inches of snow north of I-80

*A quick stop at Tim Horton's for some Timbits to consume later in the day

*Set up camera and computer timing system before 11am
*Start meet and record times with DP from USC until a little after 8pm (thank goodness for the 3000m and the longer relays to give us time to eat a little and quick pitstops)

*Make the trek home with a stop at the Sheetz in Grove City for dinner around 9:30 (turkey sub and smoothie....at least it was kind of healthy)
*Get home before 11pm

*Wake up around 5:45
*Fuel with a bagel & PB for the long run
*Walk dog
*20-mile run
*Go with Beth to the JCC to swim/lift (Our lucky day - free day for "outsiders")
*Lunch at Brueggers
*Drive to REI Robinson for PTC clinic (where Beth and Chad were speaking)
*PTC Clinic

*Dinner and grocery shopping at Market District (Pizza = yum!)
*Drive home
*Talk to parents

Whew! Okay, time to get ready for the next week.

I'm pumped because we're going to be heading to HHI on Friday. I'll be there for the weekend. Beth will be there for a few weeks for a winter training camp.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


This post is 16 words long. 16 equals the hours I spent at today's indoor meet.

Friday, January 27, 2012

55...then 35

This morning's 12-miler was done in 55-degree weather when it started. There was a little rain, but it was GREAT running in shorts and a longsleeve in January. Memo to other people I saw out running - check the temperature before leaving the house. I counted a handful of people with long pants, multiple layers, hats, and gloves.

But, today was one of those days when the high was at midnight and the temperature just dropped throughout the day. Now, it's 35 and continuing to drop.

Tomorrow's the trip up north to Edinboro for our hs track meet. Looking forward to the many athletes in all the different events.

In other news, the Pirates had
4 players ranked in MLB.com's top 100 prospect rankings. It included RHP Jameson Taillon (#8), RHP Gerrit Cole (#11), OF Starling Marte (#40), and OF Josh Bell (#69). It's exciting to see 4 in the top 70. If you figure there are 30 teams, you would expect only 2 or 3 from a team in the top 70. Also, the pitching is coming. I've said it before, but I can't wait to see Cole and Taillon in Altoona this summer. Marte's knocking on the door in AAA. I can't wait to follow Bell in his debut summer.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Groundbreaking and Unveiling

At school, we had our groundbreaking ceremony for the upcoming renovations. These have been a few years in the making, so it is exciting to see the project starting.

I saw on the web that the Pittsburgh Marathon has unveiled its revised course:

The reason for needing a revised course is that the Pirates are playing home games that weekend. The Pirates organization petitioned MLB to have away games that weekend, but they denied their request. Funny, Boston seems to get their request of a home game every Patriots' Day. Anyway, due to that, the race can't have it's highly efficient and logistical dream of finishing on the North Shore between PNC Park and Heinz Field. So, it's going to finish downtown near the point like the Great Race. I'll be excited to see the mile markers go up and to start getting out on the course.

As far as the training. Week 1 was 53 miles, week 2 was 56 miles. Week 3 was 58 miles. And I'm on pace, assuming the long run goes well, for breaking the 60 mile barrier this week. I had my first "speed" workout since before the Harrisburg Marathon, so that was exciting. I did 7x1000 with a minute rest (was supposed to do 8, but was running out of time to be able to get into the school and shower before homeroom). They were supposed to be in 3:45 (6:00 pace). The first one was ugly and was right around 4:00. Ugh! But, the rest went well: 3:46, 3:44, 3:44, 3:41, 3:42, and 3:37 on the last one.

We have our first high school indoor track meet. Looking like the snow's going to cooperate. Excited to see all the athlete's hard work pay off.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Back-to-Back "Late" Shifts

...well, at least late for me. And this is the reason the blog to continue my streak is the equivalent to Cal Ripken pinch-hitting in the 8th inning of a game during his streak (which he he probably did less times in his 2,632 consecutive games than I have had "cheap" blogs during this 27-day blog streak).

Tuesday night...up at 4:30 for a morning run, school, and practice, I had a planning meeting with the Etown alumni group. Not home until 10pm (usually in bed by then)

Wednesday night...up at 4:30 to drop off the car for service, then run to the school as part of my warmup for 1000's on the track, school, practice, jog back to pick up the car, dinner at Subway, and then back to high school for our district's annual curriculum night from 6-9pm (where parents come in and ask about what classes their students should select for the next school year).

So, I'm home. I've written a weak blog. Now I'm going to bed. Off day for workouts tomorrow so a 'relative' sleep in. Yippee!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Career Post 300

Not an impressive post, but one to keep the streak going. According to the Blogger "Dashboard" this is Post #300. Here was Post #1.

Didn't get a chance to catch the President's State of the Union Address, but I hope it involved ideas for the government spending less than it takes in. I'll have to catch up on it later this week.

Monday, January 23, 2012

We Are...

Penn State is more than Joe Paterno, but Joe Paterno is so much Penn State.

Where to start? I suppose going chronologically is the easiest way.

My dad was a Penn State fan. He never went to college there (he went to Davidson College), but followed the team and I remember getting glasses at Hoss's that had the Penn State schedule on them in the mid-80's. The 1986 season was special. My dad and I would listen on the radio around the house or driving around. The had a close game against Maryland (17-15), but went undefeated through the regular season.

They were ranked #2 in the country. Miami was ranked #1 in the country. (I can hear Bob Costas in the game's introduction...) Since no major bowl could match up two independent teams due to their conference ties, the Fiesta Bowl (a "lesser" bowl) ended up swooping in. Instead of New Year's, they moved the game to the next day, January 2nd in primetime with a true #1 vs #2. The game drew the largest television audience in the history of college football.

Miami came in with all the bravado, wearing camouflage. Penn State was the boring team with the black shoes. We taped the game, so I almost tell you play-by-play of the first half (every time I stayed home sick from school for the next however many years, I put in the tape). Penn State uncharacteristically tried to drop back and pass and got sacked. On 4th and really long, they punted. Penn State played a 3-deep zone and came up and hit the receivers and Miami couldn't sustain drives. This continued for most of the first half.

Since I was only in 4th grade, my dad made me go to bed at halftime. But, I woke up the next day and found out Penn State won, 14-10! When I went back and watched the game, it was amazing how Penn State held on for the win against Heisman trophy winner Vinnie Testaverde. 7 turnovers by the Hurricanes, including one on the goalline in the final minute, will do it. It was Paterno's 2nd national championship in five years. I was hooked!

I remember my 5th grade teacher's name was Mrs. Henderson and she had a button on her coat that said something like "Penn State mom." There was a player on the football team named Marques Henderson. I was certain that this was her son (regardless of me knowing the fairly obvious fact about his skin color and hometown). Also, the starting quarterback at Penn State that year, Matt Knizner, was from MY high school. He now sells insurance for State Farm in our hometown of Greensburg.

Blair Thomas was stellar, but the rest of Penn State was so-so into the end of the 80's, including their first sub-.500 record in 1988. Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993 and then had a season for the ages in 1994 (my senior year of high school) with a high-flying offense and suffocating defense. They ran the table, including beating up Oregon in the Rose Bowl, but ended up the year ranked 2nd since voters though Nebraska was better. It all came down to a couple of garbage touchdowns Indiana scored in the 4th quarter to make a 35-29 finish seem like a close game with Penn State in early November.

I went off to college, but not to Penn State. I didn't want to start at such a big school. But, my path took me through Elizabethtown College and then Penn State through a cooperative engineering program. Reunited with my buddies from high school in Happy Valley, things were great. Also, I happened to meet Beth there, too.

Joe Paterno passed me once driving in his Volvo station wagon over to the football offices when I was by the tennis courts. I never had a chance to meet him in person. Beth had a chance to pass by him when she and her teammates would go on their morning runs. I joined her a few times in hopes of an JoePa encounter, but it never happened....I mean I joined her for some runs to get to know her better.

I got my degree from Penn State and it's such an amazing place. It won't be the same without JoePa. But, it's a better place because of him. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Paterno family. I hope that time helps heal the wounds of how things ended with the University and fences can be mended.

I attempted to honor the legacy of Coach Paterno and all the virtuous qualities he stood for today by dressing like him. A few kids got it. Others probably just looked at my rolled up pants and white socks and it further cemented in their minds how un-hip and not cool I am. Oh well.

Someone suggested of making it an annual thing to honor Coach Paterno. I think I like that idea.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Sad Day in Happy Valley

JoePa will be missed.

Here's some of his famous quotes:

“Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.”

“Believe deep down in your heart that you're destined to do great things.”

“Its the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back.”

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.”

"You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That's the mark of a true professional."

“Act like you expect to get into the end zone.”

Many thoughts to share this week about how Penn State became a part of my life.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Prayers for the Paternos

Reports out of State College about Coach Joe Paterno's health do not sound good. There had been reports about his death, but two sons both posted tweets to the contrary (back to the idea of media getting things RIGHT instead of getting things FIRST).

Coach Paterno is a legend for so many things beyond his wins on the football field. How many Division 1 coaches have a library named after them? That says so much right there to me. More feelings to share in the days to come I'm sure.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pulling for the Birds?

New England or Baltimore? Which one is a fan from Pittsburgh to root for in the AFC Championship game? Both are bitter rivals of the Steelers.

My choice is very clear cut. Without a doubt I want Baltimore to win. Not necessarily to see the Ravens move on to the Super Bowl, but to end the Patriots' season. Not because I don't like Tom Brady or Woodland Hills grad Rob Goronkowski, but because it will allow offensive coordinator (and more importantly new Penn State head coach) to devote his full time to his new job. Hopefully, he'll be able to secure the commitments of current verbal recruits and maybe sneak in a few last-minute additions.

In the NFC Championship, both are good stories. Alex Smith and the 49ers with their thrilling win over New Orleans. Eli Manning doing for Super Bowl ring #2 (twice as many as his brother and father combined).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Made It!

...to a new PR of number of blogs to start the year (19)

...but, perhaps more newsworthy, made it home with the snow. Now, this wasn't as bad as
the President's Day disaster last winter. However, the roads were not cooperative.

To back up, at track practice, we were able to get the majority of the workout for both the sprinters and distance guys done on the track as the snow began to fall. The final few laps of the distance group's workout were on a snow-covered track, but it wasn't too bad. I look to the roads by the track and the high school and they were just wet. No snow.

Tonight, we had a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting scheduled, so I was sticking around until the 7pm meeting. As we were leaving practice, I told the student leader that if the roads get bad, let's cancel and be safe. Snow brings out a more cautious, conservative, and worrisome me than usual.

So, I'm up in my room doing some odds and ends with appointments and grading and peak out the window and see that the road between the high school and the tennis court was still just wet. I go out to leave, brush off my car, and turn onto the main road in front of the high school and I was shocked. The roads were slushy and slick. Our HS Maintenance Facility tricked me by doing such an awesome job of clearing the snow from the roads on campus. I should've known because I can always count on them on snowy mornings to have the road loop around the school clear for a run.

So, I make it to Chick-Fil-A (albeit slowly) and find that no one is there. I was relieved because I didn't want the kids to risk driving out in the snow. I checked in with the leader and he confirmed that he contacted the other students and cancelled the meeting. I figured since I was there and hadn't eaten yet I might as well get my dinner and stick around in case anybody missed the message and showed up. Fortunately none of the kids did, so I finished my meal and made my way towards home.

If anything, the wait allowed some of the traffic to thin out and let the road crews do their thing. I popped in my
Cornerstone Worship CD (our church's own CD they released a few months back) to accompany me on the way home. I like having some praise music while I'm driving in adverse weather. Not that it will guarantee I won't slide around or that I won't get in an accident (just like Tim Tebow's faith didn't guaranteed any wins), but it helps keep me relaxed and at peace knowing that God will work it out.

Things went pretty smooth to downtown and up Route 28 until about Blawnox. From there, I had to slow down a little. Once up past Harmarville, the roads were white, but not too slick. So, after going about 20mph the rest of the way home, I made it in one piece.

In the meantime, Beth was trudging around in the snow doing a running workout and made it back to the house in one piece, too.

I hope everybody else stayed safe in this weather and also for the alleged weather we're supposed to get Friday night-Saturday morning.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wish List for the Pirates

Last year around this time, I dreamt of a trade between the Pirates and the Texas Rangers involving a what seemed to be over-the-hill Michael Young. Obviously the trade didn't happen and, good for the Rangers, Young has a .854 OPS and a 2.4 WAR in 2011.

New year, new trade proposal surely not to happen.

I'm nervous about the Pirates' pitching. They pitched over their heads for most of the year. Charlie Morton had off-season hip surgery. Jeff Karstens is very hittable. Kevin Correia is a year older. None of the AAA guys (Lincoln, Locke, Owens, etc.) distinguished themselves.

So, since the Yankees over the weekend acquired Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, they now have 7 or 8 starting pitchers. Most rotations only use 5. So, someone may be expendable. Perhaps a young talent like Phil Hughes, but that is unlikely. How about the underachieving AJ Burnett who is scheduled to make $16.5 million each of the next two years? From what I have heard on various sports shows, it may take very little to acquire Burnett. Why not? The Yankees would probably even throw in some of the cash to get a medium-level prospect. The Pirates are very deep in the outfield in the minor leagues, so that is where I would start.

One other option they could go for is the Free Agent route. Roy Oswalt is still out there. He has been hurt some over the past few years. Why not sign him to an $8-10 million one-year contract and, if the Pirates are out of it by the trade deadline, flip him for prospects.

After last year's first half, I am encouraged that the Pirates are heading in the right direction. I would hate to see the pitching hold them back this year. Speaking of Pirates' pitching, I'm excited to make a trip (or two) to Altoona to see
two of the top 10 right-handed pitchers (in all the minor leagues) - Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole.

This ties 2011's
year-opening streak of blogs. Stay tuned tomorrow to see if the streak is broken.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Friday, January 13th - Beth releases her race schedule for her debut pro triathlon season.

Monday, January 16th - 13-time undefeated Ironman champion and 4-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington announces she is taking a year off from competing in Ironman.

Coincidence? You be the judge.

Beth's next target:

(For the non-triathlon people, this is Mirinda Carfrae--probably the 2nd best triathlete in the world)

As a side note, my college roommate one year was from
Norwich in England. It turns out Chrissie Wellington is from Norfolk, which is the county that Norwich resides in. Small world, eh?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Streak

The blog streak is alive and well. 16-for-16 and 17 in a row. Unfortunately for Pitt basketball, they are streaking in the wrong direction. The Panthers are 0-5 in the Big East and have lost 6 in a row overall. Not very Pitt-like in the basketball world, especially since they were preseason #10 in the AP Poll. Tonight, they have a tough test at #1 Syracuse.

But, we're not here to pile on to Pitt. Here's an update on my three basketball teams as I move past the football season:

Arizona (12-6, 3-2 in Pac-12). The Wildcats haven't lived up to their preseason AP #16 billing. They lost one of the best players, Derrick Williams, in all of college basketball last year to the NBA, so Sean Miller's young team is still finding its way. They've got some work to do, but with a strong finish should make it to the NCAA Tournament.

Davidson (12-4, 6-0 in Southern Conference). These Wildcats look like they may have the giant-killer ability back this year. In addition to leading #6 Duke at halftime at Cameron Indoor Stadium (lost 82-69) in November, they took out #11 Kansas 80-74 in St. Louis in December. It will be a matter of taking care of business in the Southern Conference over the next two months in preparation for the NCAA Tournament. Also a western PA guy, Tom Droney from Sewickley Academy, is in the rotation.

Penn State (9-10, 1-5 in Big Ten). When you lose three of your top four players from an NCAA bubble team, usually things don't go well. And, that's what's happening in Happy Valley. While they did score a nice 65-45 win against Purdue, they have lost to the likes of #2 Kentucky (down 47-15 at halftime), smaller in-state foes (St. Joe's, Lafayette and Duquesne) and all but one Big Ten game. This will be a rough winter for first-year coach Patrick Chambers. On a bright note, Tim Frazier is having an "all-conference" type year, but he's not getting much help.

So, that's where things stand. Time to shift into college hoops mode.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where a kid can be a kid

After a chilly run this morning, we took a trip over the mountain to Altoona to meet up with Beth's friend K, husband T, and three kids. Our meeting location was Chuck E. Cheese's. Good pizza and good times. It turns out that I have a skill at lining up the scalpel with the joystick in the 'Operation' game and, once I get in a groove, I don't miss in the basketball. Mucho ticket-os for the kids. (Of course it was all about the kids, that's why I spent $10 on game-playing tokens).

On our way back, we stopped at the Indiana YMCA to get our lift in because it was going to cut it too close to make it the whole way home. The lifting has been fairly consistent for me two times per week since December. Hopefully this will make those leg muscles stronger and cramp-resistant come marathon day. For training, I did 17 this morning for a total of 56 for the week. Last week I did 52.5, so things are off to a good start with 16 weeks to go. Three hours or bust!

We've got a teacher in-service day tomorrow and we're giving midterms Tuesday and Wednesday. Then it's a normal day Thursday and a teacher grading day on Friday. This week is always nice for a change of pace. I'm looking forward to see how things go for the students from the first semester. Also this means we're already HALF WAY through the school year. Where did that go?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Home Day

With the track meet being cancelled, you would think there would be time today to write a longer blog. But after sleeping in, running, eating lunch, taking a nap, cleaning the house, going to church, and watching the US Olympic Marathon Trials it's after 10pm already.

So, here's another quick entry.

Great finish to the SF-NO game. Both offenses didn't back down in the 4th quarter. Not sure if Tim Tebow can bring back the Broncos down this much. It was a good run and he is still an amazing person.

Joe Paterno was interviewed by Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post. I am so impressed with him. He's still the same person - honest, genuine, and quick-witted. I hope that when all the dust settles and all of the facts are out, people realize what a great man he has always been.

Amazing races at the Marathon Olympic trials. Congrats to all who made it. They all looked so strong. Also, too bad for Dathan Ritzenhein and Amy Hastings for just missing out in 4th. That is really rough. It was neat seeing Beth's former teammate Donna (Fidler) Palisca as the men passed her with a few miles to go. Her 15 seconds of fame! Finally, to Tom Hammonds - use less makeup next time and do a little more studying up on announcing marathons before the Olympics.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Home on Saturday

The snow missed most of the Pittsburgh area. We only got 1-2 inches. It did not miss Erie. Up there they have 1-2 inches as in TWELVE (12). So, they decided to cancel our indoor track meet. That means I have a few more hours on my hands on Saturday.

This is a weak entry, but I promise better over the weekend. I've got several topics stored up and need to start rolling them out.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's a-coming....


Our first major "winter storm advisory/warning" of the school year. Will we be delayed? Will we be cancelled? Will we get less than an inch of snow? Usually it ends up being the last option.

I just hope this doesn't throw too much of a wrench into our plans for the first indoor track meet of the year up at Edinboro (near Lake Erie). I just checked the forecast up there and they're supposed to get anywhere from 5" to 11" of snow through Saturday. That's why they put chains on buses I suppose!

Stay tuned...

PS - 12 for 12 this year and one more week to beat last year's streak

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

L-O-S-T in Lebo

As a map guru this is painful and humbling to admit, but for about 20 minutes on my run this morning I had NO CLUE where I was and whether I was going North/South/East/West. Fortunately, when you're doing a 90-minute run, you have plenty of time to finally recognize where you are and head back in the right direction. Charlie (and other Lebo people) will understand where I was....and be so disappointed in me.

I wanted to merge together a few shorter loops into a long one since I was going longer. So, my plan was to take Cope's Cabana (as in Myron) and then slide over into a McGowan and perhaps a Beverly to make a loop around the district. Knowing that Cope's involved cutting through some woods and it was still dark out I knew I would have to modify it. So, the thought was to just go along Connor Road but I saw that it had no sidewalk, no light, and no shoulder. So, back over another way and I *thought* it would take me essentially parallel to Connor.

However, no road in our district is straight (and flat for that matter), so I rolled up and down and around on a road I usually don't run on. I come to an intersection at Vermont Ave and decide to turn right. When I did this, I plunged into my black hole. For the first few minutes, I thought it was amusing and wasn't concerned since I still had about an hour left. But, after about 15 minutes and still not recognizing of the townhouses lining the street and it being dark out, I was starting to think about retracing my steps.

Finally, I pop out by the t-rail tracks and an intersection with Route 88 (it was so dark and I was so turned around that I didn't even realize this was where Connor Road met 88). So, North or South on 88? The sign said going south would take me to South Park in 2 miles. If I go north I would be in Pittsburgh's city limits in 6 miles. I chose north. I saw a sign that said welcome to Castle Shannon. Not bad, that's the next district over.

Then, I decided to get off 88 back over the t-tracks and saw St. Anne's Church. I don't believe I was ever past it before but I've heard some of the kids mention they went there. So, I go up this way and finally see a sign that says "Welcome to Mt. Lebanon." This is good since all places in the district are about 2 miles or less from the high school (we're a "walking" district--no buses). But, the funny part is that I still had NO CLUE where I was.

Finally, from Rockwood I run into the intersection of Hoodridge and, not until this point, did I know exactly where I was on the McGowan loop. I look at my watch and I am now 45 or so minutes into my run. So, if you do the math, I was "lost" for about 15 or 20 minutes. Pretty entertaining considering I was less than three miles from the high school the entire time.

Maybe this means I need to get more sleep, eat more before I run in the morning, or just map out my runs better.

For those that know the area, below is the mapmyrun.com route I took (I did a mile around the school at the end). Try not to laugh too much at my misfortune.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Trip to the Beach

Not literally, but figuratively.

That's what I tell the jumpers on the track team when we have an opportunity to do some jumping into the sand outside at the long jump pit during months when there can be several feet of snow on the ground. So, we took advantage of the weather of the past few days and made a trip to the beach today. I'm encouraged that the athletes had a chance to execute a few practice jumps prior to Saturday's first indoor meet. It's always tough to do something technical when you haven't truly practiced it since last May.

'Bama won last night so I'm the picking champ of the Shutt household.

O - 21-14
B - 19-16
Over/Under - 21-13-1

Blog post #10 in a row for the year (11 in a row overall). I'm past halfway to beating last year's streak.

That is all. Time to get to bed before tomorrow morning's 4:15am wakeup call to sneak in a 12-miler.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Roll Tide or Geaux Tigers?

Live from the Superdome...

(Photo courtesy of our trip for IM70.3 New Orleans)

Since it's only been two months since the last meaningful college football game, we now finally have the national championship. It pits two SEC west opponents who have already met once this year.

To update our bowl picks, I'm 20-14 and Beth's 19-15. She has LSU and I have Alabama. We agreed that if LSU wins and we have idententical records, she wins the tie-breaker since she correctly picked the most important game.

(Pictures from our time in Tuscaloosa for the 2009 USAT National Championships)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Not This Year

Beth's mom is here and we're playing Scrabble now that the big playoff game is over. I'm blogging on the phone while playing (and not doing well with either).

The Steelers' playoff run came to an abrupt end in Denver. There is going to be a lot of sad people tomorrow in the 'burgh. The Tim Tebow legend lives on.

In other news we celebrated Christmas with Beth's mom's side of the family yesterday afternoon. Good food and a new Serbian tradition that was reintroduced. It involved a coin that was baked into a cake. A male representative from each family spun it around and then we each broke off a piece and the one with the coin would have good luck for the year.

Merry Christmas to all of those celebrating the Serbian day!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Life vs Choice

Every January our church has a weekend where they talk about Pro-life and abortion. This was our weekend in preparation for the March for Life in Washington DC later in the month. Here's a post I did from 2 years ago that included information about Michael Clancy-the USA Today photographer who took the photo of the baby's hand reaching out of the womb.

This year's guest speaker did not disappoint. Her name was Lila Rose and she is a 23-year-old who founded what has now grown into a nationwide Pro-Life group called
Live Action.

An interesting statistic I heard tonight was from a
Gallup Poll conducted in 2010. It stated that more Americans surveyed identified themselves as "Pro-life" instead of "Pro-Choice."

One of the reasons I believe that the shift is occurring to more of Pro-life views is technology and information. The specific details can be seen so much more readily today via the internet. Lila Rose and her group did some undercover investigations into Planned Parenthood and posted videos onto Youtube. Information I believe helps people see that this is killing a life. I heard on the radio this week that many Democratic politicians are trying to tiptoe the issue saying that they personally don't believe in abortion, but don't want to limit individual's choices. In most cases I would agree that the government shouldn't step in to prevent individual choice. However, when it comes to life, people should not have that option to end it.

So, that's my feelings on a heavy topic. I'll leave you with a neat story about someone who was almost aborted that has already done amazing things in spite of only being in his early 20's. A guy that the Steelers are going to face tomorrow by the name of
Tim Tebow.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Prayers and Praying

My cousin's little two-month-old has been in and out of the hospital over the last month due to a hole in her heart. Earlier today, she had surgery to help fix the problem. I was amazed at the outpouring of encouragement and prayers of people to my post on Facebook and how neat it is to spread out the prayer chain this way. I know that my cousin (and Aunt and Uncle) appreciate all the prayers out there. The last update I heard is that the surgery went well and she came out of it healthy. Thank you for all of the prayers.

Speaking of prayers, the Tim Tebow phenomenon has been in full focus here in the 'burgh due to the Steelers travelling to Denver to play the Broncos in the first round of the playoffs. I don't get why there's so much hate for the guy and his kneeling to pray. Even if you're not a Christian or practice your faith, why does he get so much criticism for living his faith out? What if a Muslim was doing what Tebow was doing and people where ridiculing it? I can only imagine the media outrage for being intolerant and racist there could be.

I got to hear Tebow's interview with the Pittsburgh media via conference call the other day. He is just a solid character. He's got his goals and priorities in the right place. He's willing to answer any question about his faith to the fullest extent. When the questions were actually about football, he answered those very knowledgeably and humbly too.

Let's go Steelers!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How about them 'eers?

49 points by halftime and an Orange Bowl 70 points in the game. Wow. Impressive performance by West Virgina.

The last time we were in Morgantown was for a half Ironman in August of 2010. It was my first (and maybe last) half. Here was the end result:


In other news, I was the recipient of a large amount of grace earlier this week. I don't want to get into the details, but it was an amazing feeling to have such a big weight lifted off of me. I surely didn't deserve it, but got it anyway.

PS - If you notice the five consecutive days of blogs, it's because I'm trying to break last year's streak of
18 straight days of blogs to start the year. This isn't a New Year's resolution to blog every day or anything, just a little thing to amuse myself through the doldrums of winter.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Next Coach...

After falling flat at the TicketCity.com Bowl, Penn State continues its search for Joe Paterno's successor. It seems like there's been a new name each day this week. Green Bay's assistant coach Clements, New England's OC O'Brien, San Francisco's OC Roman, and Rutger's HC Schiano. I would still be happy with Tom Bradley as a transitional coach for the next 4-5 years.

Congrats to Rick Santorum for a solid performance in Iowa. It will be interesting to see how the New Hampshire Primary shapes up for the republicans.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Snow, Snow, Go Away

75 minute commute home. Ugh! At least the snow seems to be done through the weekend.

Update on
our picks through the Jan 2 games:

O: 18-11
B: 16-13
O - Over/Under: 17-11-1

Let's go, Hokies!

On the political front, the Iowa Caucus is today and it'll be interesting to see how it all sorts out. Rick Santorum is a local guy and my one friend interned for him back when he was a Senator. I'm pulling for him as I agree with a lot of his views on morality (faith, abortion, etc.) and dealing with the size of government and our debt. However, I don't know how his platform would stand up in a national election. But, maybe I'm misjudging the American people.

We shall see.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daph!

My little sis turned the big 3-0 today. If she's into the old category, what does that make me? O-L-D! (This picture is from like 10 years ago--I realized I don't have any recent pics of her)

In other news, Penn State finished off their season with a whimper. I didn't get to follow much of the game since we are back at school today, but it was probably for the best. Actually, the way the schedule played out, I don't know that I sat down to take in an entire game all season. Oh well, there's always next year. Now the focus is for the Nittany Lions to get the best coach in place to help them move forward from this cloud that Jerry Sandusky has left on the program.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Highs and Lows

In yet another annual tradition, here's the highlights and lowlights of 2011

(for previous years click here)

3. A handful of teeth issues (root canal, crowns, etc.) that were somewhat annoying to deal with. But, all seems to be going much smoother now.

2. Getting in a car accident and totalling the car.

1. Coming up short of my goals in my two marathons in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.


4. The Pirates' and their memorable relevance for more than half a season.

3. The many fun trips: HHI, NOLA, NoCal, Kona.

2. Career victory #2 on the 4th of July and doing a fun summer of four new 5k's (Homeless 5k, Hampton 4th of July, Junkyard Jaunt, and St. Barnabas).

1. The positives out of the marathons. In spite of not hitting my time goals, so many great things like helping others do their first full marathon, half marathon, and in some cases first road race (as part of a relay). Also, through so many generous people, we raised nearly $2,000 for two different charities I was involved in. Thank you so much!

So, again, a very blessed year. It seems like the "lows" (which are very relative to many people's situations) all had silver linings. The culmination of the dental work was when I won a 5k. As I outlined, all of the awesome things around the marathon.

So, time to move on to 2012 and more adventures!