Tuesday, May 26, 2009

There is no failure except in no longer trying

I found this quote years ago in a magazine tore it out and have kept it as a reminder to never give up no matter what. Why do I bring this up now??? Well my bloggy friends, once again I have trained my a@#@#s off and fell short of my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

The good news is I have tons of excuses....the course was much tougher than previous years and in fact was quite hilly, it was windy, it was humid, the roads were bad, it rained, I blistered, it got sunny and hot..need anymore? I think not. Anyway here is a brief recap of the day.

We headed down to the course as planned right at 6am, the race was to start at 7am. Running was Jerry, Jaime and my cousin Butch who I had not seen for the better part of 20 years but was super happy he was there. Supporting was Sue, Courtney and Linda. The runners lined up at the starting line and the gun went off right at 7am and off we ran. At that point it was a little windy and somewhat humid. I lost Butch right at the start but could see Jerry and Jaime moving quickly down either side of the road and they both looked to be having a great start. I chose to run down the middle and did not have much of a problem threading through the crowd to some open space where I could settle in. Right from the start you had to pay attention to the roads. They were tore up pretty good from this past winter, with lots of holes and loose gravel to worry about. This was the case pretty much through the entire day. I settled into a nice pace and was running just below an 8 min pace and feeling pretty good. The first few miles had some slight, steady upgrades but were not to bad at all and things were going well. After mile five things started to get a little dicey. The course now included a series of overpasses that were not by themselves anything to bad but string them all together and they start to take a toll. I made it through halfway and was treated to one of the many cheering spots where Sue, my niece Courtney and Butch's wife Linda were set up to encourage us...I was right on pace at that point and very happy to get the encouragement. Right after the halfway point there was another of the long steady uphills, that again shouldn't have been much but really took a lot of energy to get up. After that i started to fade a bit and by mile eighteen I was off pace and in trouble. I saw my cousin Carole and her son at mile 20 and dropped my fuel belt with them and limped the rest of the way to the finish line to a disappointing 3:47:52 finish. I was 23rd out of 65 in my age group.

Several things happened that day that really have me thinking things through. First just before mile 25 two ladies passed me, one obviously pacing the other. They were almost there and whatever her goal was it was going to be close and the pacer was really pushing the pacee. Just before the 26 mile marker I came along the two again. The pacee was crumpled on the ground and they were calling for medical..her day was done and she had only .2 miles to go. Second, when I crossed the line my people both runners and supporters were so happy to see me and seemingly proud that the fact I missed my goal by 17 mins never crossed my mind. Third, when I was running toward the finish line I was pumping my arms, the crowd was cheering and I heard some guy yell out.."be proud, you know what you just did!!". Finally, in recapping the race I voiced my disappointment to my cousin and his response was something along the lines of...are you kidding, you just ran a 3:47, I would kill for that.

In any event here is where I am at and it feels really good to put it out there. Its not that I am not going to try and qualify anymore and be a failure, its just that it can't be my main goal as it is sucking all of the fun out of running marathons. From now on my goal will be to run marathons as fast as I can and if I qualify that's great and if not that's great too...after all isn't this supposed to be fun??

Before closing this out it wouldn't be right if I did not recognize the other runners in my group who all ran the half marathon. Jerry, despite some severe stomach issues, finished 12th out of 80 in his age group. The only one of us to grab any hardware was Jaime who finished 2nd in her age group out of 25 and Butch finished 20th out of 60 in his age group...not bad, eh??

That's all for now

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Long Overdue Update

Like I said when I first started this..it is going to be harder than I thought keeping up on the updates. That remains a true statement although it is actually harder than I thought when I thought it was going to be harder than I thought. Does that make sense???

Anyways since my last post I have had lots of things going on. Here is a list and I will give a brief highlight summary of each after.

1. ran a half marathon in New Philadelphia, Ohio
2. Spent 5 days riding with friends in Hot Springs, NC
3. Won my age group in the Silver Springs Duathlon
4. Graduated a daughter from college
5. Did an adventure Triathlon in Maumee, Ohio

Not to shabby, huh??

Starting with the half marathon, Sue and I traveled down to New Philly the morning of the race. It did not start until noon or maybe one) so we were able to hang out together in the Am and then leave around 10:30 or so to get down there. We both had never been to New Philly and were very surprised at what a cool town this was. It was a small race and the route was designed so spectators were able to see the runners often. It was nice having Sue there cheering me on although sometimes it doesn't appear that way because I either get fussy or focused depending how the race is going. I did this race as a tune up for Buffalo, although this course was really hilly and Buffalo is dead flat, and it was a great confidence builder. I ran a 7:54 pace and felt good the whole time.

Hot Springs is an annual trip although we had a couple of newbies this year. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm all four days of riding. We rode just over 200 miles in four days with around 20,000 ft of climbing the North Carolina hills. Of note is the climb up Doggitt Gap, which is a seven mile climb and is the hardest climb I have ever done. We also enjoyed the trail fest which is a gathering of Appalachian trail hikers, the hot tubs, some margaritas, a cavs win, a big steak dinner and some really nice camp fires

The silver springs du is a small race in Stow, Ohio that includes a 5k run a 17 mile bike and then another 5k run. The day was perfect, clear and cool. Sue and I headed over early so we could set up a tent for Team ER, the team I race for, and Sue was acting as official team photographer for the race. Overall things went really well for me. My first run was at a 7:00 min pace and I averaged just over 20MPH for the bike and than 7:25's for the second run. I had a great day, Sue took lots of cool pictures and oh yeah did I mention I won my age group!!

Kate's graduation was awesome. Sue, Jerry, Grandpa and I went over to BG the day of the graduation, had a quick lunch at Kate's place and headed over to the ceremony. The ceremony was really nice and I could not have been prouder of Kate then I was. College was not easy for her and she stuck with it against all odds. She defined what it means to be tough and persevere. I can't wait to see where she takes it from here. Awesome dinner at a restaurant named Biaggis following the ceremony. The butternut squash ravioli was to die for!!

Finally the Maumee adventure tri. This is the third year in a row that John and I were partners for this race. Last year we got lost on the bike and put ourselves out of the race and we were out for revenge this year. Although we fell short of our goal of winning it, we did win the bike overall (averaged 22.7MPH for 36 miles. We were then passed on the canoe by a team that was only 30 secs behind us on the bike. One more team passed us on the run, which was done on a trail with 20% of your body weight in a pack on your back which for me was 36lbs!!!, so we came in third but had a really solid race.

Other than that, Sue and I have been working the yard hard to try and overcome the effects of the winter. This has been no easy chore. Work has been challenging as ever, Sue is training hard for the three day walk (and working hard to raise funds) and we continue to enjoy the freedom of being empty nesters!!

Next up Buffalo Marathon, Clays Park Triathlon, family vacation in the keys and a sincere effort to keep things up to date on my blog!!!

That's all for now

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Once upon a time there was a black kitty named Shiloh. Shiloh was a Manx so among other things she was born with no tail (so she was never, ever afraid in the hypothetical room full of rocking chairs). Manx cats were originally bread as hunters and Shiloh was certainly no slouch in this department. She prided herself in leaving treats on the door step for her Mommy and Daddy to find. She also had the stereotypical Manx trait of liking to be higher in the room then everyone else. Her favorite spot in the world was an old duffel bag that sat way on top of a cabinet in her garage. It was no easy task for her to get to this spot as she would have to jump from the top of her little bed/house to a ladder then to another ladder and finally on top of the cabinet and safely inside her duffel bag. It was always easy to tell that Shiloh was there because her two little ears stuck up out into the air. Shiloh would stay up there for hours making sure that the activity below her did not involve anything that should be hunted down.

Shiloh had a friend named Gloria. They weren't always best friend but when they were they would chase each other all over and pretend like they were fighting. Shiloh loved to crouch down in the grass and wait for Gloria to come along and then jump out as if on attack. She also liked to do this same thing to people walking back from the mailbox which sat out at the side of the street.

Shiloh's daddy loved everything about her. He especially liked that she would walk him out to the mailbox, or greet him in the driveway when he came home from work, or jump on his back when he bent down to tie his shoes and then scramble up onto his shoulders when he would stand up straight and he really loved that whenever he whistled Shiloh would come running to find out what he wanted. Shiloh loved to hang around with Dad. She would accompany him on whatever task he was doing. One of Dad's favorite memories was when Shiloh sat with him in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the night when he was trying to catch her brother Levi the dog who had once again got through the electric fence.

Shiloh loved attention. She could sit and be petted for hours, purring the entire time and look at you with that "is that all you got" look when you stopped petting her. She some times turned to the dogs if she wasn't getting enough pets and rub up against them until they showed her some love. Sometimes you would find all of them curled up together enjoying a little nap.

Sadly this story does not have a happy ending with Shiloh taking long naps in the hammock this summer with Dad. Shiloh is not with us anymore. She died mysteriously last week but at least it did not look like she suffered at all. The Doc thinks it may have been a heart attack.

Shiloh was the best kitty ever, she will be missed and never forgotten.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Snow, Snow go away.....

Yesterday morning was a cruel reminder that I live in Northeast Ohio. They had been telling us for days that it was going to snow, and I had even been predicting one more storm before spring really started but there is no harsher reality then waking up and seeing a few inches of snow on the grass. I don't deny that i really do enjoy the different seasons but really...enough is enough! Did you ever notice that late season snow and cold changes everything...moods become irritable, training slides, energy levels drop and the overall desire to participate in life just about disappears. Just kidding...its not that bad but it sure will be nice when the weather breaks and we string a couple of warm, sunny days together.

Saturday was my Moms 83rd Bday so our whole family loaded up into the car and made the trip to Buffalo for the day to celebrate. i was thrilled that not only did we go to honor her day but the rest of my bros and sisters were there as well. Since there is seven us we are rarely all together at the same time (possibly a blessing) but it is nice when we do get together. A special treat for the day was the surprise visit from Dan who traveled up from Fla...always have a great time when we are together. When in Buffalo we also took the time to treat Jaime to one of the great culinary treats on the planet...a Teds footlong hotdog. If you do not know what this is...to bad I am not going to explain it but I will close out this topic with this advice...do not die until you have eaten one or your life will not be complete....they are that good. Almost as important as the Ted's hotdog was a special Starbucks Espresso that I received from D...man that was tasty..Bonsai Danielson...Bonsai!!!

Training has been going very well lots of good miles on the bike and on foot. No swimming to speak of. I did have a brief slip off of the Buffalo Marathon training plan that started with scrapping a run Friday evening and replacing it with a few rounds of Euchre with Jerry and Jaime...hey never say my priorities are not straight..and continued on all the way through Monday with a variety of other very creative excuses on my part. I am not overly concerned as if I continue on my current plan, even with the slip, I will have over 200 miles on foot and 400 miles on the bike more than I had last year when training for Buffalo.

That's all for now

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm gonna do this till the day I die

On Friday S, LJ and I went to see the great BB King. I think I have seen him seven or eight times now and I never get tired of it. He is now 83 yrs old and does all of his show sitting in a chair which is fine because he still plays and sings like he always has. It is nothing short of incredible.

Two interesting things about the show. First, he had a bit of a heckler. I mean who the F heckles BB King. He would yell something out pretty much between every song and BB took it pretty good naturedly (is this a word??) until the ahole yells out play The Thrill is Gone and BB yells back I'll play it if you want but remember when The Thrill is Gone I'm gone too (he pretty much always closes with that) so that kinda shut him up for a little while. The second is during one of his songs (I forget which one) he changed up one of the lines, I think it was supposed to be I'm gonna love you till the day I die, to I'm gonna do this till the day I die. I know it doesn't sound like much but if you heard him say it you would know...he said it like her really meant it. That got me to thinking...I love everything I am doing right now and although I am not adverse to change I hope most of the things I am doing now I can do until the day I die...cause I love em (for all you Ricky Bobby fans).

Anyway, just an OK week of training. Good run miles including a solid 10 mile run at 8:05 pace where I just felt friggin fantastic...I could have gone alot longer. Bike not so great, Weds called due to rain, life got in the way and knocked out Sat ride, took a ride ending spill on Sunday morning after only 15 miles. I need to recover from that quick or Hot Springs will be painful.

That's all for now

Friday, March 27, 2009

End of March Update

Well here I am, once again, disappointed with my lack of posting. Rats...I hate when life gets in the way of things I like to do.

Any way before I recap the last half of the month I have to tell you that today is my brothers (plural) birthday. That's right mom and dad drew the luck card and had two babies on the same day. You are probably thinking how nice Jerry has twin brothers. Wrong!!! they were born seven years apart so unless one had to cook seriously longer than the other they are in no way twins. However if they were twins they could have been stunt doubles for Danny and Arnold in the movie twins because one is similar in height to Arnold (not stature though but the cameras can do magic with that kind of thing) and one is similar in height to Danny (used to be stature until he turned himself into a stud with a major lifestyle change) so Happy Birthday Bros.

The second great thing about today is that S, LJ and me are going to the House of Blues to see the king of the blues, Mr. B.B. King. I love BB and I have seen him multiple times and every time I see him I am certain it will be my last but he just keeps on playing. He is 83 yrs old and he can still rip that guitar better than most...for me "The Thrill is Never Gone" when it comes to BB.

The rest of the month has been pretty good. S and I spent a long weekend in Ft Myers with D (the bday boy), L and family. Got lots of great road miles in the warm sun and ran a Susan G. Komen 5k in 22'09". S, L and Simon also participated and all did very well. I also played golf when I was down there and although I have not played in about 5 years did pretty well (remember pretty well is relative as I lost in the neighborhood of 16-20 balls...yup you read that right).

As for training, I have had a good month of outside miles including back to back 3.5 hour days on the bike with Doc and J. The first of the two days was a brutal day of climbing that left me thoroughly spent....I actually thought I was going to tip over on my climb up the hill home...but I made it. It feels really good to be putting in some monster days again. I really need to be doing that to get ready for the season.

I did have a couple of half's on the calendar that I blew off in March the first because it was pouring and cold (but don't tell anyone) and the second because I decided the drive was to far for a half. It would take about 2.5 hrs each direction and I think that time can be better spent.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Catching up and Ragnar Relays race report

Life has a funny way of interrupting the fun things that we do. Since my last post I have spent a great deal of time preparing for a board meeting for the company I work for. It is difficult to prepare for these types of things when the economy is the way it is. Saturday was the big day for the meeting and I am pleased to say that it went pretty well and although things could be better everyone was generally happy with where we are at...see all that worrying for nothing.

The Ragnar relays, a 201.5 mile 12 person relay race in AZ, was my first big event of the year. It took place on the 27th and 28th and I was on a team organized by some old friends from my Dirt Devil days. I had not seen these people for the better part of ten years so I was thrilled at the opportunity to spend some time with them and catch up on things. I worked at Dirt Devil in the mid nineties through 2000 and the people I was doing this race with were in the select few that made this job bearable. I also had not done a running relay before and the thought of the new experience was really intriguing/exciting.

I flew out to AZ on Weds night before the race and my friend, John M., was nice enough to pick me up from the airport and allow me to stay at his and Kathy's place. Their house is incredible, it is like it is right out of a magazine with the backyard being unbelievable with beautiful landscaping, a pool and fruit trees loaded with grapefruit, oranges and lemons. They also had recently adopted two dogs and one of them, named Lucy, was psycho...it made me feel right at home as I have a couple of those types of dogs myself.

On Thursday, John showed me a great little route by a canal and I did a quick thirty minute shake out run to test the legs out...everything was feeling A OK so I showered up, helped John pick up the vans that we would be using for the race and then generally relaxed until everyone started to show up to start our journey up to Prescott where the race would start. The team, for the most part, met at John and Kathy's house where I was staying. We had a good mix of volleyball players, neighbors and friends and in meeting everyone I was sure we were going to have a great time....I was not wrong.

We all loaded into the vans for the trip up and after a quick stop for a bite to eat, a couple of beers and to pick up our last teammate we set off for the 2 hour drive up to the start. Kathy, who was the main organizer, had reserved two rooms close to the start so we had a comfy place to rest up for the start which for us was 8am on Friday. For the race we were split into two vans of six runners each and we knew prior to the event which van we would be in and which legs of the race we would be running. For sleeping arrangements van 1 which I was in and which would be starting out the race stayed together so that if van 2 didn't want to get up and go to the 8am start they didn't have to. Van 2 technically didn't have to be ready to go until around 1pm which was around our target time to finish the first six legs of the race. I think we were all happy that van 2 was at the start cheering us on even though they didn't have to.

The start of the race was cold and sunny. Our first runner even wore gloves...that seemed funny to someone who was coming from minus three temps the day before but I guess when the blood thins there is nothing you can do.

Jon, who was our first runner, set the tone early for us. He started out in the middle of the pack and when we passed him in the van on the route he had moved up a little but when he came flying into the transition for the first to second leg he was third overall. Way to go!! Bobbie was our second runner and her leg included a monster climb which she knocked out of the park. She established herself right away as one tough cookie which was good because she had more climbing to do as the race went on. Bobbie handed off to Greg who had by a long shot the toughest leg of the race. The climb that he did went on and on and on. Someone in the van commented that you know its a tough climb when the van has to downshift to make it up...I am sure Greg would agree. Greg was the model of consistency on not only this leg but throughout the entire race. He always ran strong, smiled when you cheered him on and responded with either a thumbs up or hang loose sign to let you know things were OK. Kathy was next and entertained us as she chased down a woman in full out fireman garb through her leg. She eventually got her but not before she set the tone for the rest of the race by asking for chap stick during the run. For the rest of the race some of her teammates took to asking for various items during their legs...like toasters or remote controls etc...The end of Kathy's leg had a screaming downhill finish that Kathy ran so hard she literally ran right past Rose as she waited for the hand off. Rose, our fifth runner who had been worried about her training set off on her first run, new water bottle in hand, and continued our morning of solid performances with an outstanding run. I think she may have been sand bagging on the "I haven't been training front". I took over from Rose to run our final leg of our first of three sets. I had a six miler that started out with 2.3 miles on a dirt road. Prior to the race starting I had said I wouldn't mind running some of this on the dirt...what an idiotic thing to say. When those vans pass you and kick up the dust..not fun. Anyway, I finished the dirt section turned onto the road and basically ran 4.5 miles downhill into the wind. The two basically balanced each other out, but it would have been nice to enjoy a little faster pace on the downhill. I handed off to Nate the first runner from Van 2 and we now get a break for a little while.

Kathy had also reserved a hotel room out on the course which was absolutely genius. After we turned things over to van 2 we headed to the hotel room to shower and change, we then grabbed a bite to eat, at Denny's of all places, and went back the the room to try and catch some sleep. Probably a good time to mention that pretty much everyone snores and snores loud. There is only a few exceptions to this and I believe those people will be armed with squirt guns and ear plugs next year. Anywho, we try and get some sleep and then we get the call from van 2. First, they are ahead of schedule and 2nd we have lost one of our fastest runners. Jan, who drove in from San Diego with his wife Marianne, also on the team, was five minutes into his first leg when he heard something snap in his calf. He was unable to put any weight onto his foot and was out for the rest of the race. I wasn't there when it happened but my understanding is that when it happened Chris, who had just finished his first leg, jumped out of the van and picked right up where Jan left off. Efforts like that always impress me. So any way rest time over, time to load up and get to transition twelve where we take over the baton (or wristband in this case) again.

We actually ended up being at the hand off about an hour early and passed the time seeing some of the local sights and even took our picture with a giant rooster and saw some really cool old farm equipment.

It was now dusk when Marianne, van 2's last runner, came in so lights and vests were required until 6:30am the next morning. Jon took the hand off and headed out to what will be referred to as the obstacle course. Again, i wasn't there but Jon's leg was run in the soft desert sand and had things in the way like ditches, logs, barbwire and oh yeah you couldn't really tell where you were going. The result of this leg is Jon runs and extra .6 miles trying to find his way through the desert and he pulls a calf muscle when he mis-steps on a ditch....2nd runner down. The rest of the night was mostly uneventful with John M. pacing the runners, except for Kathy who I paced, on a bike to make sure they were safe. The only things of significance were during Kathys leg when she crushed some of our competition with an impressive pass early into the leg, during Rose's leg we had to pick her up and drive her .75 miles through some construction and during my leg when I ran into transition and Nate wasn't there for the hand off. Minor issue as he heard me calling his name and showed up within seconds to take the baton and go.

We are now done for the night and have split up somewhat because we know some of our runners would need to run for Jan, as well as themselves, and we shuttled them back to the hotel for some rest. Everyone who was still with the van now headed back for a shower and some snore filled sleep while van 2 slugged it out through the night. Our third John, John S. who was in van 2, had agreed to take Jan's second leg and knocked out I think around twelve straight miles in the middle of the night and once again we get the call that its time to get up, they are ahead of schedule and only have one more runner until they hand back off to us. We get up, grab some coffee and head to transition 24.

I volunteered to take our Jon, van 1's injured runner, next leg so I was first up when van 2 handed back off to us. I had 8.7 to go and with the exception of some nasty wind and hills it was uneventful and I finished it up pretty strong and not worried at all that I had one more 6.4 mile leg to go after a relatively short rest period. This would prove to be a false high later. I handed off to Bobbie who once again drew the short straw and won herself a monster climb. The highlight of her run was when she passed a guy, she had been chasing for awhile, about 200yds before transition...like I said one tough cookie!!!

Since this was our final set to run sometime during Greg's leg Jon and John decided to crack open the cooler for some refreshments. When Greg finished his final leg he also decided it would be a great idea to start the re hydration process and that's when we noticed something horrifying...we were low on beer. Not to worry as we quickly came up with a plan that had John drop us at the next transition and run to the store for more. Luckily when he took off I grabbed my water bottles because this is where we had our only logistical problem. While John was gone Kathy finished her leg and handed off to Rose and she left for her last leg which was around 3.5 miles. So she is out on the course. I am next and I need to get to the next transition before she does. She had been out there for around 12 minutes when I started to get nervous that John wasn't going to make it back ontime. I had my bottles so I wasn't worried about that but I did have a cotton shirt on and it was getting hot and I needed a ride. We solved both of these issues by hooking up with friends of Kathy and John's that were also doing the race. They loaned me a shirt and gave me a lift up to the next transition...problem solved. A very dehydrated looking Rose , again ripping off a really solid run, finished up her run and handed off the wrist band and off I go for my final 6.4 miles. Things started out really well. Within a mile John was there and had my hat for me and took the sunglasses that I started in (I cannot run in glasses) and offered me a cold wet cloth which I declined. I already knew I was in trouble at that point. This was a hilly leg and it was now 83 degrees hotter than the temps I was in two days ago and I was paying the price. I made it through 4.5 miles without walking and finally hit a big enough climb where I stopped running and walked to the top. I was able to run the downhills but pretty much any incline in the last 2 miles slowed me to a walk...that was a bummer. I finally chugged my way into transition 30 handed off to Nate and Van 2 assumed responsibility for bringing us home the final six legs (with some help from Bobbie and Kathy on Jan's final leg).

The final six legs for me were great. I rode in the van, drank beer, ate cheeseburgers, took pictures, drank more beer and enjoyed watching all the teams finish out there race. The highlight of this portion was a visit from Nacho Libre played by our own John S. This was hilarious as he ran his entire last leg, much to the delight of the spectators, in costume....what a great guy.

The finish was awesome with Marianne coming in strong and ending our race. We came in just under 32 hours and finished 143rd out of 240 teams.

After the finish we gathered for free beer and the swapping of war stories from the last 32 hours.

I have been on teams before but I must say that my 11 teammates made up the best team I have ever been on. For not really knowing each other we came together very quickly and established ourselves as a force out on the road.

I can't wait until next year.

That's all for now.