Sunday, June 28, 2015

Report: 2015 Metcon Games at CrossFit Steeltown

I almost called this a "race report" because as you'll see along the header of my blog, I have a LOT of race reports from lots of marathons and ultra marathons. Well, this is my first "race report" from my first CrossFit competition that my wife and I competed in yesterday, just outside Pittsburgh, PA at CrossFit Steeltown in Moon, PA. A small  *disclaimer before I even start: I know that in comparison to many mainstream CrossFit athletes, I have far to go, am weak, am old(er), and lack the flexibility and proper form if examined under the educated eye of a great coach or judge. I got it. I am, however, an open book and strive daily to learn and be better so my report is just that...MY report of my/our experience at our first competition. I'm sure my coach will point out all kinds of "issues" but that's his job and will give us more to work on and be better at. The learning NEVER stops and form/function/performance is never perfect. An openness to critique, pursuit to be better, and giving nothing less than everything in my opinion, really defines what a CrossFit athlete should be and I'd like to think I am one. So with that said...our first comp!

CrossFit gyms can make a comp whatever they want it to be. It can be a partner comp where you sign up as a 2-person team to compete. That team could be specific to male/female or female only, for example. The comp could specify that the "elite" athletes at gyms aren't welcome to attend. read that correctly! There was a comp recently that wanted all of us "average" athletes only. Other comps have options to scale down the events to make them achievable for all and others won't. So many variables out there and the 2nd Annual Metcon Games were no exception. For the Metcon Games, the format was: 4 events or "WODs" and the results would be tabulated as male and female. No age divisions and no scaled division. Everyone does everything to the best of their ability as an individual and that's it! At the end of 4 workouts, the top 5 moved on to the semi-finals and after that, the top 3 competed in the final to find the ultimate champion of the day for the men and women. Our day began with an 8:30am meeting and WOD #1 began at 9am and continued non-stop in countless heats throughout the day until reaching the semi's and finals. By 4pm, we were done and enjoying sumptuous burgers at a local watering hole called "Burgatory." Oh my my...

WOD #1: Row 2000 meters then do as many over-the-rower burpees as possible within 10 minutes. When this workout got announced early in the week, I practiced it twice. Both times I finished within a few seconds of 7min, 21sec then worked on an immediate transition into burpees while doing a lateral jump over the rower. My plan going in was to insert 5 pull "pick-ups" at every odd numbered interval (e.g. 1700 to go, 1500 to go, etc.) then get my breathing back under control for the final 200m to ensure a smooth transition into burpees. It all went to plan and I did the row in 7min, 24sec and did 27 burpees. While my technique and form have a lot to be desired (my coach will certainly work with me on this), I have no regrets. I really felt I gave it 100% and did it to the best of my ability. The video here actually captures one of those 5-pull bursts. Most of the time, I wasn't moving that fast and hard. My standing amongst all men for this heat: 19th of 36 men for the 2000m row and 27th of 36 men for the burpees.

WOD #2: 4 minutes to achieve 2 rep max shoulder-to-overhead (in any way you wish..strict press, push press, push jerk or split jerk) followed immediately by as many front squats as possible in one minute using the weight you hit 2 lifts with successfully. Well, if you know me, you know this WOD was probably not one I was looking forward to. It was my wife's favorite. (opposites attract!) I worked on this for the 3 days prior to the event and had a game plan. It didn't help that just prior to my heat, there was this one super strong girl who out-lifted my goal! (I got "chicked" before I even started!) Anyway, I got in one good lift at an easy weight to at least get a score but then had to strip the weight off the bar because the hooks were too low that held the bar. I raised them up at least 6" and re-loaded the bar for my 2nd lift at 115lbs. I got in two good lifts then loaded it at 135lbs. My goal was 145lbs that I hit earlier last week. Once I got two at 135lbs, a quick glance at the clock told me I was out of time. Only 30sec of my 4min remained...not enough time to pull off the springs, load two plates and re-lift so I just waited it out until the 1min clock started for front squats. I got in 5 at 135, took about a 10sec break then got 5 more in for a total of 10 in the minute. Lesson learned: make sure the J-hooks are at the right height before I start. That messed everything up! Regardless, it was a solid effort. My stats just in this heat against all men: 35th of 36 men for the weight overhead and 34th of 36 for the squats. The guy who took 1st in this lifted 275lbs and then squatted that 16 times. Dang. He is also 21 and won the whole competition at the end of the day. This definitely knocked me down a bit in the overall standings. (I'm the one in the blue shirt in the video spectators were allowed in the room)

WOD #3
: Sled Push with 90lbs on sled, 15 box jumps at 24", sled push with 135lbs, 25 box jumps, sled push with 180lbs, 35 box jumps, then 225 lbs on sled for as long as you can push it...all within a 7min time cap. Score is how far you could get. For the jumps, stepping on box was authorized and what just about everyone ended up doing because the sled totally gasses your legs and makes jumping on a 24" box downright....bloody! I started out great and jumped those first 15 jumps. After that second push, though, my first jump nearly ended with a cut shin and I resolved to step and but not stop. To my left and right, the other men were doing the same so I felt good. In my small heat of 5 men in a row, I initially trailed them all but by the final 2 minutes, I caught them all and was leading. I simply never stopped and rested and that paid dividends. I have found a lot of my endurance running mindset works in many CrossFit workouts when it comes to how to pace yourself for the long haul. I definitely have an engine! (I just need more strength to compliment it!) LOL! I ended up with 33 box jumps in my 3rd set of jumps and 3 completed sled pushes. My standings amongst all men during this WOD: 18th of 36 men.

WOD #4:'s the setup: 5 different movements and for each, you have 100 seconds (or 1min, 40sec). In between each movement, a 20sec rest not much! For the first 3, the score was the greatest number of unbroken done without stopping. #1 was double-unders (jump-rope), #2 was wall-balls (see video down below), and #3 was kettle-bell thrusters (I had never done them before!). For the 4th, it was a handstand hold. Score was the max time you could hold it. The last movement was the number of calories pedaled on the Air Assault wind-bike. So here we go: I grabbed my jump rope that I brought with me and told my judge that I've never strung two double-unders together. I can do 2 - 1 - 2 - 1, etc. but not two in a row. I still tried and didn't get any. I moved on to wall balls and really didn't know how I'd do. I surprised myself big time and got in 42 wall balls with the 20lb ball unbroken. Moving to the kettle bell thrusters...well, I got a big fat 5. I did 4 then rested and then got 5. Not good at all and something I could use a lot of work on. Next up was the hand stand hold. I faced the wall vs. facing out because I have a hard time getting up into the hold. For my group of 4 men, I held it the longest at 58 seconds. The last movement was the air assault bike (see video below). Again, a first for me but I did great at 33 calories. That was a total burn!  Everything was on fire so I just put my head down and pedaled and pushed with my arms as hard and fast as I could. In my mind, I just told myself it was just a short pain and then the day is over! It went well and that effort ended up being my best of the day. My standings amongst all men for WOD #4: Double-Unders: tied with others for last! :), Wall-Balls: 12th of 36 men :), Kettle bell thrusters: 35th of 36 men, Hand stand hold: 10th of 36 men, Air Assault bike: 6th of 36 men!!!

My attempts at stringing two double-unders together

Locking out after a kettle bell thruster

Hand stand hold for 58 seconds

At the end of the day, that last WOD moved me from 31st overall to 26th overall (I was 31st after WOD #3). Happy? Oh yea. I gave my best effort at the Metcon Games and looking around the room, I felt pretty darn good since my wife and I easily were some of the oldest competitors there. For our first competition, it was a great first impression! Here is immediately after getting off that air assault bike...courtesy of my wife. :)

After I got up from this, we both cracked open the Hammer Nutrition Whey and got that protein in our body where it was needed. We had been sipping on Hammer's Heed electrolyte but were looking forward to getting repair going with strawberry whey. Shortly after that, the top 5 women and men were announced for the semi-final WOD and then the top 3 of each moved on to the final WOD. Here is what they did and it WAS an awesome two events to watch! Brutal! (good thing I didn't make it to either...I would've been in serious trouble!)

Many thanks to Dannielle Ripper who calls CrossFit Steeltown home and invited us out for our first competition. You and Eric were great hosts and your "family" there at Steeltown are great! I know many didn't participate because they were the army of judge volunteers. They were great so thank you to you and them...and a belated Happy Birthday! For my bride and I, we had a great time and really enjoyed spending the time together and being in different heats so we could root each other on and photograph each other, too. (added benefit) We both told each other we wouldn't want to be there without the other...just like our first 7 months in CrossFit so far. We're already looking forward to the 3rd Annual Metcon Games next year!

Monday, June 22, 2015

M-Cubed for 6.22.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for June Twenty-Second, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Good morning, friends, and my apologies for no M-Cubed a week ago. A little thing called family vacation was in full swing at the time. I took my family on a 10 1/2 hour road trip to Cape Cod, MA for the second time in about 8 years, specifically Falmouth, MA. I'll ask them again soon but I do believe they all had a great week. Highlights included a day in Boston, MA where we walked the Freedom Trail, stood atop the Boston Marathon finish line, and pushed our young girls to the limit as they covered many miles on foot. Another day took us to Newport, RI where I gave them a driving tour of the naval base, lunch at the Officers Club, a walk around Fort Adams along with a stop at the Eisenhower House, some mansion viewing and finally dinner with grilled calamari. A rainy day brought us to the only craft brewery on the cape, Cape Cod Beer, where we got the free tour led by none other than a CrossFit Level 1 trainer (sweet!), a tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory, and a viewing of Jurassic World. Loved it! Hmmm...another day took us less than an hour north to Plymouth where we saw where the Pilgrims hit Plymouth Rock, we toured the Mayflower II (the to-scale replica of the original Mayflower) and even found another craft brewer, the Mayflower Brewing Company. Another great day! The rest of the time was spent relaxing, sleeping in and I did squeeze in a few runs along the coast. Below are just a few snapshots of our time away.
The Mayflower II in Plymouth, MA

Dodging traffic to stand atop the Boston Marathon Finish Line...something I've never done!

Fort Adams

Favorite photo whilst running in Cape Cod. This is "Green Pond." Postcard worthy!

Last day of running along the coast. A beautiful morning but never saw the sun!
- So we saw Jurassic World. Loved it. To me, that was the true sequel to the original Jurassic Park some 20 years ago. I really appreciated how Steven Spielberg tied in so many little details from the original...and I'll be honest (spoiler alert!), I forgot about the T-Rex! Great movie. After we got home, we had a date nite at home and watched "Listen to Your Heart" on Netflix. I just can't recommend this one highly enough. I do love music (listening to the Classical channel right now on iTunes Radio as I type) and can appreciate a raw, authentic, "human" love story. This is it. I may watch it again, too. (Cybill Shepherd only has a co-star role...everyone else, you probably have never heard of) Looking forward, I'll admit that I am looking forward to seeing "Inside Out" by Disney/Pixar. I caught a piece of an interview with the writer at Pixar who made the movie while driving to Cape Cod on NPR. The birth of the movie came from his actual 12 year old daughter and wondering about all the things that go on inside her brain. From that came forth the beginning of Inside Out. Looking forward to it!

- I started typing a blog post on Saturday about the shooting massacre at the church in South Carolina and into my second paragraph, I deleted the post and put the computer away. I have lots of thoughts on the tragedy but I'll just say a few things here today and let it go.
  • Politicians: get off your agenda and desire for re-election by using this to re-ignite the gun control debate. NO LAW would've kept this hate crime from happening. If someone wants to get a firearm to kill others like this, they'll get it....with or without the help from Uncle Sam. Period.
  • Confederate Flag: If you dig into the history of the flag, it's beginning was not founded on hate or racist motives. That's an arguing point for those wanting to keep it on license plates and flying over the SC capitol. HOWEVER, I will agree with those who say that TODAY, it does not represent what it once did. Be honest: what do you immediately think when you see a big 'ol truck with that flag plastered across the back window and who do you think will be driving the truck when you look? What do you automatically "assume" when you see someone parading that flag? All food for thought. My opinion: in today's society, it has no place. It has a place in history that is fully justified but it doesn't represent anything good today. That's just a reality.
  • The real issue: The real issue here is a heart-sick country and lack of leadership that begins in the home. Broken homes, lack of parental leadership, lack of dads leading their sons (and daughters), and a lack of principles to guide our youth into becoming loving, giving, sacrificial members of society. It's not gun control. (beating the drum on that one) You want reform in this country? It starts in the your dinner those bed-side prayers with your kids and/or your spouse. Change starts with me...with you...with us.
  • Grace: The grace shown by the family members of the fallen has been hugely inspirational and shouldn't be brushed aside. They are uniformly returning grace after receiving hate. They are living out the principle of "turning the other cheek" and extending grace where none is deserved. It began by welcoming this young man into their Bible study and continues after he murdered the majority of them. How much will we learn from this?
- It was a huge running weekend and I didn't run a step. Nope, not one! I ran the Highlands Sky 40 Mile trail run for the past two years and it took place this weekend in WV. The Mohican 100 Miler also took place and I have to give a huge shout-out to a most inspirational man, Mr. Ron Ross. He became the first person to finish 20 Mohican incredible feat! "Congratulations, Ron!" I have never run Mohican but Ron has pleaded with me to consider it. These were only two of the many trail ultras over the weekend. May you all recover well! Here is Ron's post-finish interview. So awesome!

20 Mohican 100 Trail Run Finishes
"No quit. I raised my kids to be that way." - Ron RossRon Ross finished his 20th Mohican 100 Trail Run today in over 31 hours while being cheered on by his family.Happy Fathers day to Ron and all the other awesome dads out there. #mohican100 #fathersdayOMBC/Mohican 100/100k MTB, Mohican 100/50 Trail and Marathon Trail Races
Posted by on Sunday, June 21, 2015

- I'm not going to say much about CrossFit today and I'm really going to try and stop saying much at all on social media about it as well. It's going very well and my wife and I spent over two hours on Saturday morning working through a long workout that included all kinds of movements. (Check out my Instagram feed for the workout details) I'll just share our one fun photo of the session during our 10 sets on the GHD. You wanna work your abs? This will do it! Holy moly...still feel them this morning! I actually got closer to puking during these 10 sets than in any other workout in the last 7 months. We had a great time together! One thing that keeps getting confirmed to us: we are very happy we joined CrossFit 881. It's awesome to smile and have fun while working out, working hard, and to encourage each other along the way...and to get the same positive feedback, encouragement, and required prodding from our coach when necessary. Thankful!

- I wish you all a fantastic week and if you live in NE Ohio, a hearty "good luck" in getting your lawn mowed. Ours is very high and very wet. We need some heat and dryness...and a swift breeze to help us out!

In keeping with Disney/Pixar and thoughts on beliefs today, I thought this week's quote was fitting:

"When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable."
  ~Walt Disney

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CrossFit Update: 7 1/2 Months

Back on May 30th, I last gave my CrossFit-only update at 31 weeks in and on the cusp of a major change. Here's that post. Today, only 18 days later, lots has changed and everything is looking really good. I'm taking a break, actually, from the box for a week to rest, recharge, see new sights, and spend time with my family so this time is letting a lot soak in and give me time to think.

Rest and Relaxation Week
For 7 months, I tried on a new routine which was a strong departure from days prior. I had been running 200+ miles per month and felt another injury lurking should I continue. I tried a running streak where I took no days off for awhile and I had lofty goals for 2015 that included a return to the 100 mile race, several 50Ks, a 50 miler and even a 24hr race in Cleveland. Well, that 100 mile race took place over a week ago and obviously, I didn't go. In fact, many goal races for 2015 got scrapped and I've only gone the "ultra"distance once, a marathon once and a few half marathons. I suppose I could still do the 24hr race in September...considering it. So during those 7 months, instead of running the country roads early before sunrise, I've thrown around weight, climbed ropes, chewed up my hands like never before, got my heart pumping like never before and changed my physical body drastically. Gone is the typical running body that does nothing but run...strong legs but weak everywhere else. Instead, I can still run but have a strong upper body and have burned the majority of the fat there and replaced it with muscle definition like I've never seen before in my 42+ years. I'm not saying I'm some powerhouse (far from it!) but guess what...there really are muscles in there, contrary to popular belief! I've also made some great friends during these 7 months. At the end of May, though, as the 7 month marker followed a few days later on June 4th, change was imminent as a new CrossFit box opened closer to home and offered a completely different approach to the "sport" of CrossFit. (in quotes as that's a highly debated statement!)

For months, I never tried things like dips or handstand push-ups or even a chest-to-bar pull-up. I showed up, did what the coach told me to, got some instruction, did the workout and went home 60min later. When things like these movements showed up in a workout, it was just assumed I couldn't do them so I scaled it to something lesser that I could do. While I saw rapid gains in the first several months of CrossFit, my gains certainly tapered off over the last 1-2 months. I simply wasn't getting any stronger or adding muscle. If I didn't get stronger, I'd never be able do a hand-stand push-up or dip. I was at a plateau and nothing I was doing nor being told to do would change it. Then there is my crappy form. On Day 1 at CrossFit 881 (my new gym/box), my coach had me squat which was awful. I was curving my back in a nasty way as I neared the bottom of my squat which limits what I can lift and opens me up to injury. That set me up for lots of work on my squat AND a break from Olympic lifting, except for push presses and dead lifts that have continued. In the meantime, a HUGE concentration on strength has commenced.

A typical day: Disclaimer first: I'm not saying what I've been doing the past 7 months has been wrong. This is a fluid and constantly changing activity...that being CrossFit. It is subject to limitless interpretation. I have seen huge gains in the past 7 months and I'm thankful for it! However, the before and after are very different in what a typical day holds. BEFORE: It was a typical class environment with 10-25 athletes, involved lots of warmup, something gymnastic, a strength component, and a WOD. Classes last 1 hour and often follow immediately by another class. At most...two coaches for the class and most often, one coach.  

Today, I rarely spend only one hour in the box and if often 75-90min. A warm-up usually consists of some running, rowing, or maybe even some kettle bell swings. It's also a solo workout and is much more reflective of a personal training session vs. class environment. I'm sure this may change over time as CrossFit 881 grows but for now, it's very one-on-one. After warmed up, instead of 10min or so being spent on strength, it's more like a half hour or so and may follow 2-3 different movements. Higher reps, lower weight and then increased weight and lower reps...then back down again. A huge focus has also been on body weight strength work via pull-ups and dips then more of those with a weighted vest (20lbs) or even a small kettle bell chained around my waist for added resistance. I'll be honest: when I see my coach bring out the weighted "options" (not options at all!), I shake my head and consider it "not possible so why even try?" That's been my real learning curve. I have learned that I AM far more capable. Case in point: A week ago today, my coach wrote the following on the whiteboard: 200m run, 7 burpees, 7 pull-ups for 3 rounds, then rest 3min, then do it for 2 more rounds, rest 2min and finally one last round. Given that all 7 of my tears on my hands healed, I didn't shy away from this. What he DIDN'T write was I was to wear a weighted vest for all of it. Cue the head-shaking left and right and total self-doubt. Enter bad attitude. "I'll be here all day," I believe I said. I sucked it up and did the first round and that vest was way loose so he tightened it up and I charged on and a crazy thing happened...I WAS able. As I went, I actually got a hunger to fight and work harder and ended up getting faster. Crazy, isn't it?!  In the end, I loved it and made a huge mental break-through and thinking back to the "Murph" WOD that calls for a vest, it made me believe that the day is coming when I'll do Murph as prescribed. (video below shows one set of those pull-ups with the vest on) The other crazy mental thing has been the kettle bell. Up until June 1st, I never touched a kettle bell greater than 45 pounds. Most WODs that have a KB in it prescribe 53 or 55lbs for the men. The video below was the first day I swung a KB at 881. The KB on the floor is 55lbs...the one I'm swinging is 70 pounds! I'm pretty sure I muttered "whatever..." when he pulled that out. More self doubt...more being WRONG. Now, swinging this KB is becoming more common which will make future WODs with the 55lb seem...."easier." Go figure!

The first time doing dips - no band!
So while I haven't been doing a bunch of bar work, I am getting stronger and starting to believe in myself more. Dips, pull-ups (vest, too), and I even did my first chest-to-bar last week.  I also would be wrong to not mention the added benefit of having someone believe in me, deal out some "tough love" when necessary and push me out of my comfort zone. What happens in the gym has lots to spill out into daily life and as someone who is stupid hard on myself, I could even chalk up my workouts to a form of mental counseling! I've said it many's not just about moving weight or feeling like death is imminent during a workout! There is much more to apply to life if you're willing to let that happen. :)

Moving forward, both my wife and I couldn't be more confident in our decision to change CrossFit "homes." We both need a lot of work in the fundamentals and need to grow much stronger from head to toe in order to grow in the other areas of CrossFit that we really struggle with. We also really appreciate the climate we find ourselves working in now and the constant push and positive reinforcement received. Icing on the cake is being a part of a brand new community from the beginning. (CrossFit 881 is only a few months old!) In the very short term, we are looking forward to our first competition coming up on June 27th at CrossFit Steeltown outside nearby Pittsburgh, dubbed the "Metcon Games." Down the line...who knows...but I am really looking forward to returning to Olympic lifting soon and what I can accomplish in that area. I need a lot of help there and I know I'll get it. I know I'm far more capable than I've shown so far.

Monday, June 8, 2015

M-Cubed for 6.8.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for June Eighth, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Usually I'm passed out and in bed by 9 or 9:30pm. Last night was a well-decided exception as we watched the Cavs and Warriors head into overtime in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Cavs for the win! Cavs fans are chomping at the bit to root on the wine-n-gold on Tuesday night at home in Cleveland...I just wish every stinkin' game wasn't at 9pm! One little factoid: that was the first-ever Cavs win in any NBA Finals in history. Way to go, Cavs! (and please fire those referees...good grief, they were bad last night)

- I'm a sucker for a good Broadway tune. Last week, a video went viral when the cast of Disney's Lion King and Aladdin got stuck on a 6hr flight delay in the airport. Pretty awesome way to kill time but notice the execs in the their suits in the background...can't say they're loving it as much as the other onlookers there and the millions like me out in cyberspace. Watch it, here.

- I don't talk much about what I do for a living here simply due to security, blah blah blah...but in the course of my job, I get to help people move towards achieving their of which happens to be piloting a fighter jet one day. A few days back, this photo was sent to me via text of one such dream realized as this unnamed pilot flew the Super Hornet for the first time. In a world of selfies, this one takes the cake. See the reflection? This photo totally made my day...and I'm super proud of him for achieving his childhood goal!

- Well on June 4th, only 4 days ago, my wife and I celebrated our 7 month point doing CrossFit. Seven months! So much has happened and changed in those 7 months in our lives...not only the introduction of CrossFit. I bet if you dug back into history around January 1st in my blog you'd find some goals for 2015, one of which was to return to the 100-mile trail race this year. Well, my running goals have really taken a hit this year. Some I did and some I simply erased. The Kettle Moraine 100 Miler was one of them. Had I stuck to the original plan, I would've run 100 miles over the past weekend in southern Wisconsin. Instead, I did an under 15min workout Saturday morning. That was the extent of my physical exercise all weekend. While my thoughts escaped to the kettles on Saturday morning, I feel good about where I am right now and have no regrets. Things change, ya know!? Here were some thoughts I typed Friday night as I thought about the 100-milers going to sleep before their journey Saturday morning.

- Speaking of CrossFit (you know I had to go there), we've now completed our first week at our new home, CrossFit 881. Why 881? One thing that many CrossFit boxes do is name their boxes using zip codes, area codes or addresses. I know...not terribly creative but it kinda works! Others get really creative. For this one, it happens to be the street address and after watching the CrossFit Games Regionals, I now know that it's more common than I thought. Lots of lots of boxes out there with random numbers as part of their name. Anyway, the week went awesome. Our prior routine had us attending a class daily with other members and that class was pretty typical: warmup, a gymnastic type of movement, some kind of strength element and the WOD/workout. Done in an hour. In our new box, it's custom one-on-one training and particular to the member, their goals, their current status (physically), how much time they have, etc. We have both found we are weaker than we should be after doing this for 7 months so we're spending more time on building that strength...a stronger foundation. So each day, we're moving through different muscle groups much like a weightlifter might do. We'll usually wrap up the session with a high intensity workout, too. I'm definitely more of a sucker the "suck factor" of a WOD vs. my wife. She'd be happy just lifting all the time. All in all, it's been great so far and we're charging forward into a new week. I'm really curious to see where this all goes and how I can do things better once my strength is greater and some of my foundational movements (like the squat) are better. Bottom line: it was a great change for us to make and we love our new home.

- Did you see the headline a few days ago about us destroying an ISIS heaquarters building, thanks to social media? Many know that ISIS uses social media to tweet out instructions and push their beliefs to the world. Well, our folks in the Air Force were paying close attention to some bragging by them that divulged a location in Syria. 22 hours later, 3 of our JDAMs took it out. The article is a quick read and worth the few minutes to see how a 21st century war is being fought without putting thousands and thousands of U.S. boots on the ground. Read it here.

- Back to CrossFit for just a moment to mention a few victories. One thing I never really even tried before was the dip. Well, I did them this past week for the first time...several sets of them without any assistance. It was an awesome feeling! Then on Friday, I stopped in late that day (I had already worked out in the morning) just to hang out but got put to work swinging a kettlebell. Prior to that day, I had never swung heavier than a 45lb kettlebell. For most workouts, the weight prescribed for men is 55lbs but I've stayed clear of that and never been nudged to even try it. That changed on Friday as I did and then swung the 70lb kettlebell soon thereafter. Ha! (Check out my Instagram feed for that video) That short stop got my wheels turning about a WOD called "Helen." It's one of the "girls" and a benchmark WOD in the world of CrossFit. It's 3 rounds as fast as possible of: 400m run, 21 KB swings at 55lbs, and 12 pullups. I decided to show up Saturday morning and do it just as prescribed. All 7 of my tears on my hands had healed and I decided that I could probably get through these 36 pullups without tearing them again if I gripped correctly and used a nice bit of chalk. Come Saturday morning, I did it and while not super fast by CrossFit standards, it was great for me and 100% legit! I finished it in 11min, 50sec. Now I have a baseline to compare to later as I get stronger and more efficient, especially, on those pullups. (image is of the 55lb KB I used for "Helen.")

- Ever feel like folks are talking about you? I will definitely have that feeling this week but for good reason. At my current rank and for how long I've been it, I'm up for promotion to the next one and starting today, a selection board will meet privately, taking a oath of secrecy, and select those officers who will promote to the next rank. My record is in tip-top shape and I'm confident good news will follow! The bummer is that word won't follow until late August or even early September. Fingers crossed!

- For all you Apple junkies: This afternoon is another big Apple press event at the WWDC '15 kicks off (Worldwide Developers Conference) in California. I'm always curious to see what news Apple will release. Nothing huge this time around but software and hardware news/updates are expected. Yea..I'll probably skim through the whole presentation later tonight as it gets published to their channel on the Apple TV. I'm just a sucker at their marketing, products and how they do business.

- This week's quote is a bit long-winded but it's worth it. Regardless of your chosen workout regimen, I hope it strikes a chord with you. We can all stand to learn something from a champion! Have a great week, everyone!

"In an endurance athlete's life, discomfort is never far away. Discomfort is little more than a conversation between your body and your brain – another reason why a strong mind is so important.

The brain is the master computer of the body. Even when we are working on the efficiency of the peripheral components – the legs, the arms, the butt cheeks – we can recruit the seat of all power to enhance the effectiveness of our work. It's a question of testing limits.

You are not just working your muscles and lungs, you are working your brain to learn to accept each new level of exertion as something that can be endured safely. The brain – at least, the safety-first part of the brain – will try to dig its heels in.

Eventually it will prevail, because, of course, there are limits. I can't launch into an Ironman as if it were a sprint, so a sense of what really is too much is always crucial.

The key is to push that point back as far as possible.

The interface between the conservative and ambitious impulses in our brain should be a frontier of continual struggle. Remembering the pain of previous sessions or races we have successfully endured gives us the confidence to go through it again and the evidence to present to the brain that we are capable of handling it."

– Chrissie Wellington, four-time World Ironman champion

Monday, June 1, 2015

M-Cubed for 6.1.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for June First, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Oh, I do love the 1st of the that proper grammar?! Another chapter closed and another one opened. Then, of course, we have bills to pay and the big ones always appear at the start like the mortgage or rent, monthly dues to things like Netflix, insurance, the gym, etc. etc. etc. It's also the chance to get a re-do...every month. Didn't like how many miles you ran last month? Run more this month. Didn't eat well? Eat better now. Didn't get enough sleep? Resolve to find time for more this month. Don't recall last month because it's all a blur???? Time to simplify...draw some boundaries...get your priorities in check. Start by writing down everything that you're doing on a weekly basis by the day then prioritize them....can you shed anything? I bet you can...and guess what: it's ok to say "no"! Make June great!

- I'd like to give a huge shout-out to Lisa Shiu, the co-owner and CrossFit Level 2 trainer from All Heart CrossFit in Brimfield, CrossFit home since last November thru last month. During this Spring's CrossFit Open, she qualified for the Central Regional by finishing 9th in the entire region and during the past 3 days, she competed for a spot at the CrossFit Games that brings the world's fittest together in one spot. While she didn't obtain one of the Top 5 spots, she gave a valiant effort and should be proud to have "simply" made it to Regionals. Thanks to CrossFit HQ's use of YouTube's LIVE streaming, I was able to watch all 7 of her heats. This photo was published last night by CrossFit. It is Lisa during Event 7 after finishing muscle-ups and working through the ascending squat clean ladder. She began at 135lbs and worked to 175lbs. This is her at 155lbs. She finished second in this particular heat. "Way to go, Lisa, and I wish you an awesome recovery and safe trip home!"

- Everything happens for a reason and often, we don't know the "why" of many things but when looking back, much makes sense. I met a former Army nurse a few months ago at my CrossFit gym who told me about this program called "Veteran to Veteran" at her job at a local hospital system. She is a hospice nurse. When someone is placed in hospice, they aren't expected to live for more than 6 more months. For veterans who enter hospice, they are given the chance to accept the gift of the veteran to veteran program where a veteran will conduct a "pinning ceremony" where they will be honored and given a plaque and pin. It's simply a way to say "thank you." Well, I loved what I heard about it, I interviewed for it, was accepted then attended 2 of the 3 orientation sessions last week. Friday was an all-day session and tonight is a quick wrap-up. I'm really looking forward to it and thanking those who have come before me.  When I give medals and awards to my sailors, it's a ceremonial time. I hope to bring that same level of honor and respect to these veterans whose lives are coming to a close...and just sit down and talk to them/listen to them about their life and service.

- Did you know that touch and hearing stay with us until we die? On Friday during orientation...a day heavy with talking about death, we talked about those final days and hours of life. Often, people seem unresponsive but in fact, they can still hear and feel. This really gave me some peace when I think about my two grandmas who passed...that they heard me talking to them and felt me holding their hand.

- Ready for some Monday Morning Laughter??? This will fit the bill perfectly...especially if you love cats. This video is of a cat who obviously doesn't want to go for a walk. Totally playing dead and Oscar worthy!!! Enjoy it! Click here to watch it.

- This is becoming all too common. Our oldest non-human in the house, a Seal-Point Siamese cat named Berkeley likes to be in the spotlight but this is taking it a bit far!

- In case you missed my last post yesterday morning (a CrossFit update and report from Saturday's half marathon), that humidity really did kick my butt. I woke up yesterday still totally gassed from that short 13.1 miles. I stuck to a strict rest day yesterday and feel a lot better this morning...and good thing I do. Today, we begin at our new CrossFit box. New location, new trainer, new friends and a different approach at training. Gone are the days of classes and here are the days of more one-on-one training/ least for now. It's a brand new gym in only month two of operation and we're excited to be a part of it's beginning. The one huge downside to the move is not training with many of our friends any longer. However, after a lot of discussion, weighing the pros and cons, and plenty of discussion about our long-term goals and the "why" of what we're doing, we decided it was the best thing for us...right this moment.

- I chose today's quote below for a reason. While it may appear running-centric, it really applies to anything that requires training and preparation and with our new chapter beginning today, I found it especially applicable. Have a fantastic week, everyone!

"Juma Ikangaa (noted Tanzanian runner, who won the 1989 New York City Marathon in 2:08:01) is quoted as saying: 'The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.' His message, I believe, is that no matter how hard you will yourself to win in a race, it will not happen unless you put the supreme effort into your training and race preparation.

As a coach, I have frequently told my athletes that if you pay attention to your training, train hard when it is required, and prepare for a competition, the race can be much more enjoyable than if you are ill-prepared on race day and attempt to win by absolutely thrashing yourself. Sooner rather than later, such methods will catch up with you. It will only take one or two races of trying to 'will' yourself to win without sufficient training and race preparation for you to realize the benefit of proper training and the wisdom of Ikangaa's words."

– Jack Miller, from Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes by Steve King & Dan Cumming

Saturday, May 30, 2015

CrossFit at 31 Weeks and a Half Marathon

It's been since April 19th since my last update on my journey into quite awhile and a lot can happen in that time span. Today, I'd like to simply gloss over a few things and give you an update after this morning's Medina Half Marathon. I'm not in much of a race report writing mood but I would like to report on it.

I looked back on my 5 1/2 month report on April 19th and my attitude was pretty good back then. No injury, more forward progress, and praise for those who helped get me to that point. In more recent days and weeks, I've stalled out a bit. While I haven't decreased the volume, I also haven't gotten any better. There are some things I know I'm awful at and when those things aren't getting any's discouraging. One of my biggest issues is my squat. The squat is so fundamental to so many things. For me, my back curves badly. My rear end should be sticking out then a nice curve upward. My curve is going the other way. It's a recipe for disaster and injury. This poor form is the anchor in so many things, especially in Olympic lifting. Add lots of lifting into high intensity workouts with garbage form and what result can realistically be expected? This constant struggle along with not knowing how to correct it and continue my upward trajectory has caused a lot of discouragement. I simply can't coach myself or teach myself. Then there is another issue that arose over the past 3 weeks. I'll just let the photo speak for itself:
Those 6 tears happened on ONE workout. It was a Hero WOD that included in it 120 pull-ups. Well not too long ago I shed the band and started doing pull-ups via kipping and nothing else. One thing I learned after this multiple tear is that I should be shaving down my callouses. I guess I should've just known that because no one ever told me. So when I did those pull-ups, the callouses got caught up on the bar and ripped the heck out of my hands. The shower that immediately followed this tear was NOT nice! Oh my my. Even worse, this happened about 10 days before Memorial Day, the day I was targeting the Murph Hero WOD that included 100 pull-ups...a long-standing goal of mine. So over the next week, I did everything I could to let my hands heal until a high-volume workout of pull-ups was introduced only a few days before Memorial Day. Foolish me again...I should've walked away but I didn't. I did it with my healing hands and a ton of athletic tape but it didn't matter. My right hand tore again in a 7th location just inside my right thumb. That workout was my first DNF..."did not finish." I couldn't even grab the bar it hurt so bad. I was fighting to finish it but was moving so slow that the whole gym had cleared out except for two other members. With 10 reps left, I quit. It simply wasn't worth the pain. Who'd notice anyhow? Everyone was gone...and Murph was 4 days away. I went home and Googled the heck out of this injury and how to fix my hands. I decided to not do head was in a bad place.

In comes a great friend of mine about 90min to my east. Memorial Day weekend was knocking and another nationwide workout was sweeping boxes from coast to coast called 21 Guns. It was being driven by Team Red, White, Blue (Team RWB) and included running, box jumping, burpees, push-ups and pull-ups. I couldn't get it programmed or offered at my gym so I just figured I wouldn't be doing it...until that Saturday morning. My good CrossFit friend convinced me to figure out how to do it at home. I have no pull-up bar and my hands were trash so I replaced them with 20 second hand-stand holds...against my garage door! For the 24" box jumps, I used an 18" boulder at the end of my driveway. Everything else I could do. 21 Guns was a 21min AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of: 400m run, 21 box jumps, 21 push-ups, 15 burpees, 9 pull-ups. I got in 3 full rounds plus another run, a set of push-ups, and 20 "boulder" jumps. Done! That Sunday, my friend had about FORTY people show up for 21 Guns...FORTY! Ironically, she got the exact same number of reps as me...but she was actually doing pull-ups. Very thankful for the nudge and push from her when I needed it. She's a no-bull kinda girl...tough love...but a great friend that I can always count on, even when I never see her.

But what about Murph? The Murph Hero WOD is a 1mi run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and finally another 1mi run. I originally decided to can it...but in came the self-talk: "Am I too good or proud to scale it down and find a different way? Am I better to sit on the couch?" I decided to re-introduce the band and do strict pull-ups. No swinging around (kipping) at all. It may not be what I originally intended, but it would still honor LT Michael Murphy. I showed up on Monday morning, Memorial Day, and did it...all of it. I did the run then did 20 sets of 5 pull-ups, 5 push-ups, 15 squats 5 push-ups...then ran another mile. I finished in 48min, first Murph. I will most certainly go back and do Murph legit...unassisted pull-ups and with a 20lb vest. Today, my hands are healing up nicely and I have avoided anything that would tear them. I have, however, done a lot of bar work but have chalked them heavily to minimize the friction. I've also been using healing ointment to get them better faster and keep them moist to prevent cracking as they heal.

Throughout all of this, I decided to look outside the gym at a brand new location only 2 miles away. I took one day 8 days ago to stop in for a workout for free just to see how I liked it and how the coaching/programming worked. Being a totally new startup CrossFit affiliate, there are very few members and no classes are being held. Instead, the coach there is big on individual training and making it whatever it needs to be. He had me squat within a few minutes of walking in the door and immediately pointed out my curved back...a fundamental flaw of mine that has got to be corrected. Fundamentals first! We worked on that, bench pressed, did some arm curls and then he pulled out the sled...a device I had never used before. Basically, it's a metal sled with weights on top of it and it gets pushed over the asphalt. On one side, two high bars get pushed against and on the return trip, you have to get low to push on the lower bar....much MUCH harder! That workout included 6 sled pushes and lots of box jumps and burpees. My wife joined me for the fun as well. (she didn't "appreciate" the sweat-fest as much as I did!) I visited alone a few days ago for a second visit to help me decide if I wanted to make the switch to this new gym and after about 90min there, my rear-end got handed to me again! The sled came out and it was that along with knees-to-elbows and push-presses...4 rounds. Before we even got there, though, I found myself on the rower, doing lunges and a 10min EMOM of deadlifting off the boxes...another first. That curved back was a problem in dead lifts and the rower. I negatively impacts everything! The push-presses went well, though...just not very heavy but that's ok!
Once the day was a wrap, I had made up my mind. I was making the switch. The quality of one-on-one coaching is something I really appreciate and I know I need the help and he is unwilling to propel me forward until I'm ready. I'm excited about what the future holds when I get some things is my new coach. I hope to shed off some of the stagnancy, frustration and poor form and have a blast at doing this along with seeing gains along the way...properly. So far, everyone I have met there has been super nice and with a hand outstretched to welcome me to the family. I'm sure I'll have bumps in the road but I'm encouraged by everything I've seen so far. The one downside in the switch is not seeing many of the new friends I've made over the last 6 months any longer. Thanks to social media, though, I'll stay in touch and hopefully meet up here and there. I've been blessed to meet some really awesome people!

So how about that half marathon?! Well, I ran the Medina Half Marathon this morning. It is an extremely well-executed race that supports some awesome non-profits. Last year, I killed it with a 1:38 finish and 7:33 pace. This morning, however, brought with it 80% humidity....yikes. It wasn't hot but wow, was it moist!!! I decided to run sans shirt (for the first race ever!) and see what happened. The first few miles were fast and on target from last year but within the first 5 miles, I realized that the humidity was going to trump any intentions I had of setting a course personal record. By mile 6, it turned into a slug-fest and I fought for a backup goal of getting in under 1hr, 50min. In the end, my shorts were completely soaked top to bottom but I finished in 1:49:19. That was good for 115 of 874 finishers, 83 of 346 men, 12th of 61 in my age group, and 40th of 176 men in the masters division. (good grief...I can't believe I'm in the masters division!!) Great race and I'm already signed up for 2016!

All-in-all...things are good. I'm excited for what lays ahead and I'm ready to work hard. No huge goals on the horizon...just to be the best I can be and stay injury-free. (oh I'm rhyming!) Well...there is one small goal. Our first CrossFit competition is the last Saturday of this month out at my friend's gym in PA. My wife and I are both really looking forward to it!

Monday, May 18, 2015

M-Cubed for 5.18.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for May Eighteenth, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- There was a moment about a week ago where I was going to draft and post a commencement address if I were to give one today. Well, as many things in my head are in "draft mode" to write here, time never did avail itself to write such a post but then I stumbled upon this gem of a speech by none other than famed actor, Denzel Washington. He gave the address to the graduates of Dillard University a week ago and I was really blown away by the humility, selflessness, and non-materialistic nature of his speech. Really, REALLY good and worth the watch/listen. Here is one quote I grabbed that I had to pause the video for: "Dreams without goals are just dreams and they ultimately fuel have dreams, but have goals, yearly goals, monthly goals, daily goals..." You can watch it here.

Top is immediately after the workout.
- Last week was a really challenge at the CrossFit box. Two days of the five that I went to class, I was dead last...but finished. One day was pure endurance with no weights at all and was four 500m rows plus an all-out 800m run. That day, I took the lowest combined time in my class and the fastest 800m run at 2:49. Then, we had 2 Hero WODs as well. On Monday, we did "Klepto" that was in honor of an Air Force pilot who was killed in Afghanistan when I was over there, actually. Klepto was his call-sign. It was 4 rounds of 27 box jumps, 20 burpees, and 11 squat cleans. He was killed on  4-27-2011...thus the reason for those numbers. It was a long haul of a workout! On Friday, we did another one called Bradshaw. 1LT Bradshaw, U.S. Army was killed by an IED in 2009 in Afghanistan. "Bradshaw" tore me up. I've been working on pull-ups and this one had 120 of them! It was 10 rounds of 4 hand stand push ups (I did pike push ups instead), 6 dead lifts at 225lbs, 12 pull ups, and 24 DUBs (I did 48 single jump ropes). Well, since no one has ever told me to shave down my callouses on my hands, my hands 6 places. Since then, I've been trimming skin, using lots of neosporin, and NOT shaking hands. Bradshaw was one of the WODs where I was dead last, entirely because my hands hurt so dang bad and I could only do 2 or 3 pull ups at a time. I actually did all 60 dead lifts at the prescribed weight...very happy about that! The WOD ended up taking me 34min, 31sec..but I finished. (That's a LONG workout, by the way) I know some have their opinion about being so slow, but I tried my hardest and didn't quit from the pain. Luckily, I Googled Bradshaw prior to the workout to know who I was working in honor of...that definitely helped. A little bit of pain was worth it. Leaning forward, I'm really looking forward to the Hero WOD "Murph"...coming up one week from today on Memorial Day along with working hard every day no matter what the challenge.

- My wife and I had the pleasure and honor of attending a friend's wedding over the weekend. It was a rainy evening so the lakeside vows were moved inside. It was a perfect wedding. Instead of two massive bridal parties, there was his brother and her sister by their sides and two young nieces bringing the "cute factor" down the aisle. Purple and peacocks were clearly a theme and it was more of a fun atmosphere and interactive. Congratulations, Shawn and Abby!!! And were beautiful!!!

- Proud dad right here! I have a few very talented daughters. One loves to sing and rightfully so...such a beautiful voice. She also plays the guitar. The other plays piano and the flute. Yesterday, the annual music awards ceremony was held in our local high school and as my oldest gets ready to enter the high school, she received a few really awesome awards. First, she was voted on by her peers for the Leadership Award for the year. I told her how awesome that is because it's her fellow classmates who picked her as a leader...that says a lot! The second award and one she was really hoping for: "The Fred Waring Director's Award for Chorus® recognizes the talent and enthusiasm of outstanding choral members." It's "the" award to get as one leaves middle school. Well, she got it as well! Super proud to be her dad!

- It's time to start mixing things up a bit and getting myself back on the roads I love to run and hills I love to conquer. Usually after I pen this post, I head to CrossFit where in years past I was on the roads to run. Today and for many scattered days coming up, I'm back on the roads and will be going to some afternoon CrossFit classes. While the workouts are the same, different box members and a different coach leads those classes. I'm looking forward to the change! I'm very much a morning person so those afternoon/early evening classes should be interesting...but a refreshing change. I'm definitely looking forward to watching some sunrises from the run again. Yesterday, in fact, I got in a very sweaty/balmy/moist 7 miler on my favorite country route. Color, birds singing, and even some cows having breakfast. Of course, I grabbed a running selfie. I'd hate to disappoint the haters! :)

- Surely, you've heard of beer, brew, tap handles and kegs. Whether you enjoy some bland Bud Light or quality craft brew or don't drink at all, these terms are familiar. What probably ISN'T familiar is using terms like brew, keg and tap when referring to coffee. Well, my favorite coffee shop in Kent, OH (Bent Tree Coffee Roasters) where I stop en route to work every day for my daily French Press recently debuted their nitro cold brew. It's brewed and kept fresh in an ice cold keg with a blanket of nitrogen. On Saturday, I took a solo stroll through Kent along the Cuyahoga River and walked in the shop to finally try it. What I expected was a bland iced coffee taste. What I got was a very rich and creamy, full of complex flavor cup of ice cold coffee brew. INCREDIBLE is the only word I could use. It was so good! Like I told the owners, Mike and Ryan, that's what you get when you take craft beer lovers and they open a coffee shop! Well done, gentlemen...WELL DONE!

- Before I leave you today, I just want to say a hearty thanks to those of you who have served our country and to those of you who might be serving today. Saturday was Armed Forces Day and while most didn't know that, I did and just wanted to say thanks...just in case no one did!!! THANK YOU!!!

- This week's quote speaks straight to my inner being because lately, I have felt beat down and one person stands out in particular...maybe even two! I just have to remember to shrug those things off and get my head screwed back on straight and keep charging forward. I definitely take on challenges and dig deep...I just need help believing in myself more and stopping others from bringing me down. That just doesn't come easy to me! Have a GREAT week, everyone!

"Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got to keep going." ~ Chantal Sutherland

Monday, May 11, 2015

M-Cubed for 5.11.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for May Eleventh, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Did you make your mom/wife of your children or furry friends breakfast yesterday for Mother's Day? Well, in our house, I was specifically asked NOT to make anything! Instead, I just tried to make it the best day I could for my bride and even did my best to keep the kids at bay for an afternoon nap for her. Overall, it ended up being a lazy, great day and I think she ended it with a smile.

- On Saturday, we shed our children and sorta had a pre-Mother's Day walk through beautiful gardens in Youngstown, OH at Fellows Riverside Gardens. It would certainly be over-run with people yesterday so we walked the grounds early. The tulips were still in bloom, the grass was cool under our bare feet and we spotted two brides who were getting married. In fact, the grounds had four weddings lined up on Saturday. These gardens are notorious for weddings all summer long with their beautiful landscapes, gazebos and soon-to-bloom rose garden. Here's one tulip I digitally grabbed on our walk.

- Are you a fan of 60 Minutes? It's one of the last true news shows, in my opinion, that provides top notch reporting, is unbiased, and unique stories not heard anywhere else. I also recently heard it's one of the only news shows without an anchor. Instead, there are reporters but no one is at the helm. With the fall of Brian Williams of NBC, many believe the anchor is an unnecessary position meant for nothing more than ratings. Anyway, last night featured CrossFit, of all subjects. It was a story that 60 Minutes has been pursuing for over 2 years but finally convinced the founder of CrossFit to let them in. It was a raw and candid interview with Greg Glassman and in my opinion, gave a good look into this world that I've been a part of for 6 months now. It's intriguing and interesting to anyone in or out of the community. You'll definitely be caught off guard by Glassman if you've never heard him speak before. Here is the story and here is the extra not aired during the program.

Olentangy River
- I'm not a fan of being away from home but Thursday into Friday took me about 2 1/2 hours south in Columbus on a work trip. I really do love the city and it wouldn't be hard to convince me to sell up north and move down there. There's just an endless number of things to do and see and so much culture. Plus, it doesn't get blasted in the winter like we do in the snow belt. While there, I got to enjoy a nice 6 miler on Friday morning on the Olentangy Trail that included a run adjacent to The Ohio State University campus and the famed "Horseshoe" football stadium. Gorgeous morning for a run! Before the business of the trip began on Thursday, though, I showed up early to Columbus for a visit to Rogue Fitness Headquarters. In the CrossFit world, it portrays itself as king when it comes to equipment. Well, all of their equipment is American-made and they are based right here in Ohio...actually only a few miles from the hotel I strategically chose. They now have a retail store so I made a quick stop due to being squeezed on time, grabbed a shirt, and oodled at the most fantastic "display gym"...only for use by Rogue employees. It whispered "Come WOD with me..." as I walked through it. Beautiful facility! If ever a blank check with no limit would appear in my hand, this would be a most fantastic place to visit.

- I had the privilege of attending a Navy retirement on Friday afternoon on my way home from Columbus out in the country north of Columbus in Mount Vernon, OH. It was a standing-room only retirement in the Elks Lodge to celebrate 27 years of service by one of our Master Chiefs. While long at 2 hours, it was so good and worth every moment spent there to honor his service. The speeches, the focus of thanks given to his father and his wife, and to hear how his fellow shipmates and former commanding officers looked to him and held him in high regard was awesome to watch and hear. It was one of those experiences I won't soon forget and one that I'll file away as my day to retire is much closer than not. "Fair winds and following seas, Master Chief. We've got the watch."

- I'm not a fan of basketball...most definitely not. BUT, I will make an exception and jump on the Cleveland bandwagon for now. Last night, we all watched LeBron James make the winning basket at the buzzer to top the Chicago Bulls, silence the Chicago crowd and tie up the playoff series at 2 games a piece. They come home to Cleveland for game 5 tomorrow night. It was great to see a game since nearly all of the games so far have been on ESPN and we don't have cable. It was also so weird to cheer for a Cleveland team and not be let down with a loss...SO weird..and awesome! :)

- Last Monday was the completion of 6 months of CrossFit...SIX months! Hard to believe, especially from this "CrossFit Hater" I once was. I've been brewing some thoughts for a new post on where I'm at with it and just haven't jotted down those thoughts, yet. I did take some new photos for comparison purposes, too...those are on my Instagram account. Look for the recent black-n-white photo. (Instagram account link at top right of this blog in sidebar) Leaning forward, I'm more than ready to attack this week and close out week 26 after 3 days of much-needed rest, ready to attack the "Murph" WOD on Memorial Day and looking forward to my first competition at the end of June at CrossFit Steeltown in nearby Moon, PA. The photo below was posted last week by professional photographer, Brian Alls, who captured it on the last Saturday in March during the final workout of the CrossFit Games Open that I did. Much thanks, Brian!

- I read an article this morning in the current issue of Runner's World in their segment for Mind+Body. I always love to read an article that confirms something I'm already doing. Here are some bullet points I gleaned from the article:
  • Start Early: A run or workout before breakfast appears to encourage our bodies to burn more fat according to a recent research article due to having been in a fasting state all night...and encourages us to eat better throughout the day.
  • Drink Water: Chug some water as soon as you wake up. We've been DEhydrating all night because with every exhalation, we get rid of water, it helps fill our stomach when we might wanna feast PRIOR to our run or workout.
  • Roll: I'm a big fan of my foam roller so I was happy to read this. Rolling 10min each morning helps to release tight muscles and activate weaker ones that will help us move more efficiently during the day and will set us up for a stronger run and/or workout.
There are many more tips that are covered for the entire day like rest, nutrition and even caffeine...but you'll have to find your own edition to scan over...go to the June 2015 issue and flip to page 56. Great read!

- No inspirational quote to wrap up this week. I just want to encourage you to slow down, put down your device and live fully. Living a rat race? Slow down and trim the fat...cut some things out, put up some boundaries in your life...say "no" to things. As Mother's Day wrapped up yesterday, I told my wife that gone are days of Hallmark cards (my daughter recently got a $7 birthday card...SEVEN dollars!!!) and flowers that die in a day. Memories, handwritten notes, and walks in the petals. Yea... On Saturday at the Gardens, there was one surreal moment that could've been in the next love story. White petals were slowly floating to the ground from a nearby flowering tree and resting in the tall green grass. It was beautiful as we walked by, hand in hand, and just breathed in the aroma of what surrounded us. If we don't make time, we'll never have's a true fact! So make time, friends...tomorrow has no guarantee!

Walking in Petals

Monday, May 4, 2015

M-Cubed for 5.4.2015

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for May Fourth, Two-Thousand Fifteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Let me be the first to tell you: "May the 4th be with you!" Oh's Star Wars Day! (insert eye roll from some of you.) Go celebrate by watching a trailer for the upcoming Episode 7 this Christmas or even better, watch one of the first 6 episodes. :)

- Ahhh, the sweet aroma of pear trees. They are in full bloom in our neighborhood and we have two in our front yard. With the breezes this weekend, they smelled so good...especially in the morning as the sun was rising. Soon, those white blooms will be gone and the green will prevail.

- I saw three movies over the past week. The first was on Thursday when I took some time off with my bride and enjoyed lunch at Aladdin's Eatery and saw the new "The Age of Adaline." Really, really good date movie, no doubt. It's rated PG-13 but I have no idea why. In my opinion, it was barely PG. It's best you check out the trailer to get an idea about it but if you're looking for a date movie, this is a great choice. 3 1/2 stars. The second movie was a matinee showing of Avengers: Age of Ultron on Saturday. Critics are on both ends of the spectrum on this one. For me, I liked it as did my family who went with me. It's got a LOT of stuff going on in that movie and the business student in me chuckled at all the product placements like Under Armour, Pepsi, Beats headphones, Samsung and Audi...lots of Audi. The one objection I have (without ruining it for you) is a line that a new character says near the end..."I am...I am." Basically, this is right out of the Bible and something Jesus said. Flat out sacrilegious and unnecessary given the story line. No need to imply that character is God incarnate. It felt more like a jab from the writer/producer rather than fit in the movie. Other than that, we loved it. Bonus: if you're a fan of The Blacklist and James Spader, you'll really enjoy the voice of Ultron and his mannerisms...almost like Raymond Reddington! 3 stars. The last movie was a date nite at home Saturday night and we watched the Golden Globe Picture of the Year..."Boyhood." This is the movie that was literally filmed over 10 years as the actors, most namely the boy and his sister, aged. It's a great story to show life of a kid over 10 years in a volatile environment but overall, I'd give it a "meh." Not Oscar or Golden Globes worthy, in my opinion. There were a lot of great movies in the running this year for the prize that beat this out. Dang long at 2hrs, 41min as well. 2 stars.

- This past week has been a great recovery week after last Sunday's Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon. I didn't miss any CrossFit all week and don't regret that at all. It was a GREAT week at CrossFit that ended perfect with a WOD made for me...or at least it seemed. I've been working hard on pull-ups and this one had 40 of them on Friday. It also had more running than any other WOD I've seen in my 6 months there. The burner was the 40 overhead walking lunges with a 45lb bumper plate locked out over my head...holy quads! (The WOD is at right) Before that, we went heavy on back squats, of my favorite lifts. I took it up to 210lbs for that. GREAT workout. All week was great with some tough days in there but this workout was my favorite. Today marks the last day of Week 26, too. 6 months! We began on November 4, 2014. WOO HOO! "Pass the Kool-Aid..." Oh yea, 3 weeks until Murph...

- I have owned a foam roller for years...and rarely used it. Now I use it multiple times a day. If you're unfamiliar with what one is, it's pretty basic. It's a cylinder of foam...hard to the touch but when rolled across your body parts, has some give to it as it rolls out your muscles and the kinks inside them. There is one common roll I do the majority of the time and more than any other and when I read this article, I had to share it. The first role is precisely what I do. I never did the 2nd roll before but am now. The very simple foam roller is an incredible tool to own and use. Highly recommend! Amazon is a great place to pick one up or at Vertical Runner in Hudson, Brecksville, or Wooster.

- On Saturday, there was a 5K race happening two miles from my house and since I've been wanting to test myself and see what I could do in a very short distance, I signed up. It was dubbed the Future Military Physicians 5K and held at NEOMED (Northeast Ohio Medical University), completely within the confines of campus. My only concern was the hill out back that I've run down many times. Well, they chose to go up that hill...twice. I entered the race with my primary goal to shoot for the 20min barrier...a healthy 6:24 pace. I had no idea if I could even get close. My "B" goal was 21min that equates to a 6:45 pace. I knew the field would be small and would be comprised of mostly young mid-20s, medical students. I was correct. It had 71 runners registered and I was easily one of the oldest runners there. At the 1 mile point, I crossed it in 6:23. "Oh boy," I thought. "I'm dead on a 20min finish pace and I don't know if I can hold this." As I passed by the start and waved to my wife who caught this photo, the front pack of 6 runners thinned to a few of us. I wasn't leading but I was in the top 3. As I passed mile 2 just as I started the hill for the 2nd time, I passed it at a flat 13min...meaning I lost 4 seconds in the 2nd mile. The 20min finish is in my reach but can I hold? Up the hill I went and the runner leading cramped up in front of me which put me in a solid 2nd place. I gave it all I had and tried to keep up with the leader but he just kept putting seconds on me. As I neared the finish and my wife cheered me on, the finishing clock came into was ticking slowly towards 20:00....19:50, 19:51, 19:52....I was running with all I had!!! The 20:00 clicked over as I lunged for the finish. Final Time: 20:01! Good grief! Well, while that's just plain comical, I was thrilled with that finish. That's a 6:26 average pace and the fastest I've run since 2007...and with no speed work for this kind of race. Plus, I'm 42 and racing against 20-somethings! Dang, this CrossFit is really hurting me, isn't it?! hehe....thrilled to finish 2nd overall! Hardware for me! Cherry on top = the race was raising money for the Wounded Warrior organization and it met it's goal! Way to go!

- It was a glorious day yesterday...upper 70s and sun. Perfect day to mow the yard sans shirt and take my time. Afterwards, the inevitable me laying on my back in the driveway cleaning the bottom of my John Deere while it's up on ramps. While down there, I heard the thumping of a chinook helicopter from the nearby arsenal where Army soldiers drill over the weekend...a very recognizable sound. I looked up to find the helicopter in the sky and saw this...Old Glory gently blowing in the breeze under beautiful, sunny skies. As I like to say, those chinooks are the "sound of freedom" flying overhead. Well, it was just one of those moments as I thought that and saw this over me. I am always flooded with emotion when I gaze upon Old means so much to me. That's a great coffee shop conversation for another day. This photo is totally untouched and unfiltered, by the way...just beautiful.

Have a great week, everyone...and be nice to people! Seriously...all this rage in Baltimore is sick...just be...HUMAN! :)