Pretty stoked about my new running shoes. Happy Birthday to me.

UPDATE: I put 8 miles on them today. I’m a Brooks man now. Their shoes just fit my feet. High-res

Pretty stoked about my new running shoes. Happy Birthday to me.

UPDATE: I put 8 miles on them today. I’m a Brooks man now. Their shoes just fit my feet.

20 Mile Drop

Sunday, April13, 2014.

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This past winter was a blast to the past for Cleveland winters because the past four or five years we’ve experienced relatively mild winters. Atypical snow fall and warmer, milder temperatures seemed like the new normal, but 2013-2014 winter said “not so fast my friend.” For running that has been great since I didn’t have to wear spikes on my shoes as much which makes for easier running. This winter was tough for training and I love winter. It snowed a lot and got super cold a lot! I spent many days on the dreaded treadmill (dreadmill) since the wind chill would be pushed to dangerous levels. Snow never bothered me anyway…uh, yeah – while the wind-chill would leave me feeling frozen. Ok, I’m done referencing that movie. Seriously though, this winter made for difficult training. The most since I took up running again.

Last year I was contemplating running the Flying Pig again, but my intuition must of told me to consider it. Luckily it was right. I wanted a challenge close to home and preferred a spring run which only provided options of a half marathon realistically. Not long into winter is when I discovered the 20 Mile Drop race organized by Lake Health Running. Not a half marathon, but close to a full distance and taking place in early spring. That nailed it for me. Also the course was set to run “downhill” over the 20 miles from Chardon to Lake Erie. I registered and mapped out my training for the next few months. Since I live on the eastern side of Cleveland it provides lots of great rolling hill opportunities for training. I mapped out lots of my long runs to run uphill typically. The longest distance I ran was 19 miles mostly uphill and thought nothing of it. Piece of cake right? I felt I was set after the 19 mile run three weeks before the race, but throw in a spring break trip to South Carolina two weeks before the race, a nasty lung congested cough and a surprise visit of a summer like day on race day and you got a mixture of a super tough running challenge.

As a runner I’ve learned that some days I am on it and I am far from on. I didn’t sleep well the night before the race and woke up earlier than I should. Lungs felt okay, but not great and the temperature was already close to 70 degrees at 5:00 o’clock in the morning. Yep, I knew I was in for trouble. Don’t get me wrong I was excited for the race and felt prepared, but the lingering cough and the heat made me a little worried about the race ahead. The temps reminded me of the Rock n Roll half marathon back in October where I ran my worst ever race due to a number of factors besides the heat that day.

I really liked the course from Chardon to Lake Erie. Very scenic and enjoyable, but it got hot! I’m not a fan of warm weather to begin with. I stopped at every water station after mile 3 to stay hydrated and even consumed a GU pack (berry) provided on the course, but that sun was just tough the closer and closer I got to the end. There wasn’t much shade once you got past highway 2 by Painesville. One, or rather two, amusing things occurred during the race and that was two delays by trains. While at those points I was already moving slow it didn’t factor into my time as much, but I know there were a few ticked off people over it. I’m not one to get worked up over things like that since I’m not a competitive person. I can understand why people would be mad if you got stuck waiting during a timed race. Also this race was touted as a downhill race. Over 730 foot drop from the start in Chardon to the beach of Lake Erie. Not that it was all downhill, there were a few steep surprise hills, but that kind of a drop over 20 miles is really not that noticeable. Not that I’m complaining. It was nice to let gravity pull you gradually over that distance than exerting energy to get up a long hill.

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While not my best run it still wasn’t all that bad for me. I told Kate that expected to finish in 3 to 3:15 hours. I met the latter almost perfectly. Since it was a simple start without a timing mat the race began really close to 7:26 AM.

Here’s the stats.

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My typical range of middle of the pack. If it wasn’t for the heat I probably would have been in the upper pack, but it is what it is. No complaints. Due to the heat I was a little nauseas post run. I did have to sit down for a bit, but at least I was able to catch my bearings after a bit. Nice head wind on the beach to help me cool down at least.

Overall a great race. My daughter ran at the end and crossed the finish line with me. Choked me up a bit, but I loved every moment of that. She says she wants to run a 5k with me. I’ll train with her for sure. Should be fun. Stay tuned for that.

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Thank you Lake Health for a great race event and mega super duper thanks to my wife for letting me have so much time to do this. Without her support I can’t do this.

My Apple EarPods have a new friend, Earhoox

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A year ago I wrote about a little product called Earhoox that wrapped around earbuds then “hook” into your ear to keep them from falling out. While that set worked amazingly well with the original earbuds from Apple they no longer fit Apple’s EarPods until now. I was a huge fan of the originals and went without anything on my EarPods. While Apple’s EarPods do stay in the ear better than the originals, but when you add running and some sweat they soon come loose during said activity. It’s annoying to be constantly reaching to your ears to keep your earbuds firmly seated in your ears and distracting nonetheless. I received the new EarPod version recently and used them in my latest race (20 Mile Drop—story comings soon) and let me just say they passed with flying colors. The race was windy and, surprisingly, really warm and let me just say that the Earhoox kept my EarPods in place without any discomfort for all 20 miles of the warm long race. I highly recommend getting these amazing add-ons instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars on earbuds that may not work. Small investment for incredible results.

Go get yours at www.earhoox.com.

2013

As the year 2013 comes to a close and we enter 2014 I’d like to reflect on moments from throughout the year.

Last year I entered my forties ceremoniously, but this year turning forty-one was very low key which is just fine by me.

I continued running all through the year including seven races. Kicked it off with Cleveland Running Company's New Years Day Prediction Run, 4 miles in distance (their 1st annual). I plan on running it again this year. A snowstorm is expected to hit tomorrow which will make for an interesting run time prediction, but I digress. February I took part in the Chili Bowl 5k which I recored my best 5k time since I was a teenager! I typically don't run 5k races, but it was for fire fighters so it was worth it. In March I took part in the St. Malachi 5 miler. I ran it colorfully, so to speak, by running in a kilt! Yes it was a cold, slushy and wet day, but it was extremely fun. I plan on repeating these two races in 2014. I then took some time off to work on running a 25k (15.56 miles) in May in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Great challenging distance and hope to run that one again. After a few months off to heal from some odd calf strain in August it was the Perfect 10 Miler though South Euclid. This was my second time running this pretty decent event and again the weather was perfect. I was only off just over a minute from my prior year’s effort, but still managed to finish in the some place as 2012’s race. October brought Cleveland the first Rock n Roll Series to the home of Rock and Roll. While I loved the course and how well organized the event was, just days before the race we said goodbye to our beloved Mac. I was emotionally drained and really was not in any position to race, but I did anyway. The temperatures and humidity were insane for the day which made matters worse. It was the worst run I have ever experienced, but I continue on. I plan running this again in 2014. Finally, in December I took part in the awesome A Christmas Story House 10k which I will be participating yearly for now on. As long as I can run I will. Even in the snow. I’m a cold weather runner and this is my favorite time of the year to run.

February saw my 1st anniversary at Medical Mutual as a designer. I continue to grow there professionally and enjoy opportunities it brings. Great things on the horizon in 2014 for my career. Stay tuned.

In July, Kate and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. My oh my how time flies by. Still seems like yesterday. I miss Salt Spring Island more and more as the years go by since we last visited in 2005. Hoping we can return back to the wonderful island soon.

Back to Mac. I’m still adjusting and still thinking about him. I’m tearing up at this moment. It’s going to take time. I miss him.

So good-bye 2013. While you had many great times and experiences I look forward to 2014. I’m an even number year kind of guy anyway.

Cheers.

You’ll shoot your eye out!

As many of you may know Cleveland is home to the house used in A Christmas Story movie. This year is the 30th anniversary of the release of the movie and as part of a celebration for the anniversary a race was setup. The race will become an annual tradition from now on. The funds will go towards keeping the house maintained and for the museum by the house. A worthy race for a movie that everyone knows by heart and celebrates yearly.

“It’s a blue ball.”

The race was Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM. I registered for the 10k, which they had a 5k race as well, because I prefer the 10k distance. The race started at Higbee’s, where Ralphie spies the Red Ryder BB Gun in a display window, then weaves its way to the house in Tremont (5k ended at the house) then loops back to finish at Higbee’s. Honestly I had no idea how well I would do at this race since I hadn’t really trained much over the past couple of months, but at that distance (6.2 miles) it really isn’t too taxing for me. I was running around 11-13 miles a week which was fine. Everyone complains about Cleveland weather, but I absolutely love this kind of weather. Temperatures were on the cold side, but still manageable for this guy. Since I didn’t have a costume to dress up in, which I hope to next year, I did a little flair running with a scarf much like what the boys wear in the movie. This race was so well received that it sold out quickly. There were so many people in Public Square and Tower City before the race. I loved seeing people dressed up in Aunt Clara’s bunny pajamas, to bandits, to Flick with his tongue stuck to the flag pole and on and on. Awesome spirit pre-race.

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The race started right on time. I was concerned about the roads being slippery since there was a little snowfall the night before, but roads actually were in great shape with the exception of a couple of side roads had not been salted, but it wasn’t too bad. I placed myself by the 8:00/mile pace runner, but realized they were moving way faster than the pace they were supposed to be setting. This race was impressively well organized so far. I was feeling great and kept pushing my pace further. We got to the house and the crowd there was awesome! Lots of people. Then it was time to loop back through the course which then became a cluster. Since only part of the road was blocked off for the race the 10k runners had to weave their way back through those still running/walking and since there was limited space with lots of people (I believe it was 5,000 people total?) this made for difficult running. It was like running against 4,000 Mike Tomlin’s in your path. This is one of the gripes I have with this race which was they needed clearly defined separators for the course. I ran into one person! It hurt. I was moving along at a 7:30ish/mile pace and bam. Luckily, I did not fall or get hurt. There were several other times I had to divert my path. Once we got the Carnegie bridge happens to be my only other gripe. On the way to the house we ran on the road over the bridge, but on the way back they made us run on a dedicated bike path on the bridge which sounds fine, but it was completely ice covered! This made for dangerous running. I understand that the path is there for this purpose of not needing to close traffic down, but they should have at least salted the dang path! It certainly slowed my pace a little. Oh well. This was their first organized race. I ran better than I thought I would and I had fun. I finished 93rd overall out of 1,581 in the 10k and 13th out of 94 in my age group. Race results here.

I also earned my major award. Nice touch by the organizers to have Ralphie’s favorite beverage of Ovaltine post race too.

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All in all. A great start to a new tradition in Cleveland and I look forward to it next year. Hopefully I get my butt in gear to dress up better and recruit more friends.

Ho ho hooooo….

Saying goodbye

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Twelve years ago this October 2013 Kate and I brought home from the Toledo Humane Society a big furball mutt named Flick or Slick, they were unsure of his name. They didn’t know his exact age, but assumed he was 2-3 years old at that time based on his mild demeanor and calmness. They had had him for some time at the center, but not sure why. He did have ear infections and other allergy issues which may have attributed for the lack of interest in adoption. When we visited with him at the center we immediately knew he was the one. We both wanted a dog (we had just moved into our first house and only married just over a year) and he met the criteria we wanted; big, not a puppy and a rescue. In the room with him he could care less we were even there, but he was calm and happy to be out of the cage clearly. We were sold.

We sign all of the adoption papers and soon he was ours or rather he would own us. Packed him up in the car and drove home. The most memorable moment, humorous in ways, was he walks right into his new home and poops right on the dining room rug. We immediately wondered what the heck did we just get ourselves into. After that moment nothing like that occurred again.

About the name, I was set on calling him Mac (yes it is after my favorite computer). He never responded to the other names the humane society thought it was. They didn’t really know much about him. He supposedly grew up in a house with cats and he loved hot dogs. That was really it. Early on he was very particular with his food. Didn’t like lamb and rice foods. Really didn’t like dried foods we bought. We tried lots of diets, but none clicked. Also we would soon discover he had food allergies of corn and wheat which makes up most pet foods. He was our high maintenance boy. He was eating better than us with special salmon based food. It was worth it though. He was also still getting over ear infections when we brought him home as well. We got to know the vet’s office really well the first few months after adoption.

To say Mac and I clicked would be an understatement. I would walk him daily in our historic Old West End neighborhood. His mutt pedigree is part shepherd and part labrador which he lived up to the fullest with traits of each. He could use his paws really well with holding bones (which labs are known for) or his favorite rope toy and his ability of guarding the perimeter (shepherd) of his property was uncanny. A squirrel, mailman or just someone stepping foot within an inch of the yard he would know immediately by perking up and investigating which often times if he saw the very perpetrator would lead to a very deep intimidating bark. I’m still amazed how he could detect someone coming within his perimeter. He was really great at telling squirrels who was boss of his land. He was swift and good at hunting down squirrels while also being patient too. He would lay down next to a tree and wait till hopefully the squirrel would come back down. On one of the daily walks a squirrel dared test his skills. He caught it, but then realized he had no idea what to do with it. He let it go. The squirrel raced up the tree squawking not knowing what to make of this. I think this highlights so much about Mac. While looking intimidating with long black hair, 70-80 pounds of stocky girth, dark staring eyes and a deep bellowing growl and bark he was still the sweetest dog. In playing with him he was so gentle in his bite. Never biting or clamping down. He was a gentle giant. We had a visit from our 6 month old niece where it showed us how much of a caring guardian he was. The niece was laid down on a blanket and immediately he came over and laid right down next to her. It was touching.

He was self obedient in that he never bolted or went further than 2 houses away from his home. He only barked when necessary, again the mailman was priority one, never chewed on anything he wasn’t allowed to and just all around the perfect dog. He would get up on a couch to sleep, but we let it slide mostly. He would also tend to believe he was a lap dog with me which I was fine with for the most part. It was our bond.

He loved the snow so much. Being in Toledo where the snow wasn’t as prevalent as it is here in Cleveland he would certainly take advantage of the snow. First thing he would do is bury his head in the snow. He’d bite at snowflakes coming down. He’d do his own version of a snow angel rolling in the snow. He also had a happy “insane-o” run where he would run laps around with his butt close to the ground. Almost like watching a border collie rounding up the sheep. So amusing to watch. So full of happiness. He certainly enjoyed the move to Cleveland and the wonderful snowbelt back in 2007. The first winter produced back to back days of 17 inches of snowfall which was funny to watch the black furball trudge through, but he was happy. Like I said he loved snow, but he hated water including rain! Even though he was part lab he avoided water like Superman to kryptonite. Forget about baths because I ended up more wet than him. When it rained he always would make it the quickest and most direct pitstop. I never forced the issue nor minded.

2006 with the birth of our daughter he seemed to take it all in stride. Again he was guardian to her even though he was garnering less attention. I still would take him on walks around the block to keep him happy and exercise, but clearly he was becoming second fiddle to the child. I always strived to make time for him. Luckily he had an independent streak about him that helped with the new person in the house. He wouldn’t get jealous or act up over it. The only time we saw a “slight” was when we would go out of town on vacation where we couldn’t take him like to Hilton Head. We’d drop him off with dear friends of ours for these trips. Whenever we’d return he’d give me the “stink eye” or display some dissatisfaction over the temporary abandonment. I say abandonment because that’s what I picture he thought it was. We could never take him to a boarding kennel because I think the long period of time at the humane society really messed him up with cages. He hated going to places with cages. We never put him in a cage because of that. He never showed any reason to do that. It’s not like he never got to take trips because we certainly did take him places. He even made a long 8 hour journey up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan once. He loved that trip a lot. Very memorable to me since on a hike there he came out of the woods covered in burs and briars. He was always a fixture at family events. He was family.

Mac was also a creature of habit. You would know when it was 10 o’clock. He was a walking breathing clock. Never failed even up to the last day that at 10 o’clock he was ready to go outside for his end of day potty. Amazing to me.

Why did I write a eulogy for a dog, my dog? It felt like something I had to do. For Mac was more than a dog to me. He’d been my companion and shadow for 12 years. I never had a dog growing up, but always wanted one. The first moment and opportunity to have a dog panned out to be more than I could have ever imagined. Our pets have personalities and feelings just as much as we humans do. They’re there in good times and bad times. They comfort us. They entertain us. They care for us just as much as we care for them. He provided safety in our house for 12 years. I never doubted that the sight of him prevented our homes from being burglarized. In the past 2 years we’ve seen the decline in him. Last March 2012 was the first true warning sign. He had a seizure while I was away on a business trip. That was the first moment of realization that he’s not going to be around with us much longer. He would go on to have occasional seizures after that, but nothing the vets were to overly concerned about. When he started not being able to get up or would fall down while standing was the next signs that the end was arriving. This past Thursday, September 26 upon me arriving home from son’s swim practice we happen to walk in when he was having a seizure. That was when I knew it was time. Typically he’d want to walk around to get his bearings back, but this time he just wanted to lay there. I talked to the vet the next day and then took a visit Saturday. We decided his quality of life is not there anymore. It hurts to think you’re taking your companion in to be killed, but realistically he’s suffering. In respect to him and all that he has given us it’s time to end his suffering. He’s not the same anymore. He barely moves and in his final week I’ve got canned food and hotdogs to feed him. His last supper so to speak. Today, October 4th is his goodbye.

I’m going to miss him so much. I’m going to miss my shadow. It’s going to take time for my healing, but I have a great family that will make it easier. Here’s to the best damn mutt I’ve ever known.

May you find your best buddy Kilmer somewhere out there.

Goodbye old pal.

View some photos of Mac over the years.

157

Last year after my miserable foot/ankle injury that prevented me from running a marathon for my 40th I would look for a race that would get me back on track soon after recovery. I found that race in the Perfect 10 Miler which is a great residential neighborhood winding race through South Euclid and Lyndhurst starting and ending at Brush High School. A beautiful shaded course with some minor hills and one long gradual incline along a boulevard. For an August race you would think typically that the weather would be on the warm side, but since it is a well shaded residential course with lots of older trees the sun would be a non-factor anyway. Besides that a 7:30 start time is a pretty decent time to complete 10 miles before the baking sun becomes a factor regardless of the shade. It must be fate because the same as last year this year’s weather was perfect. Starting out in the 60s with partial clouds and cool summer breeze. I will say last year was a little bit more muggier, but it was manageable. Since I enjoyed this race last year I decided to run it again this year. My running partner also decided to join in as well and for once we were both injury free to run together. He is just way faster than me, but that’s okay with me. I just love running and as long as I finish I am happy. With training this year I would say I’ve been way more casual and less dedicated so coming into this race I thought for sure I would be way slower. Also, considering I had experienced a minor calf strain at some point after my 25k race in Grand Rapids, MI I had no idea what to expect when pushing it a little during a race. I also decided to not wear earbuds or listens to music either which is only my second time doing that for a race. I did better than expected. The first 3 miles I ran about a 7:45 pace then settled in about an 8:10 pace afterwards. On the long stretch through Belvoir Boulevard I ran with a group of 40 somethings and just started chatting it up. I love talking during runs just so you know, but often times other don’t seem inclined to do that. Finished the race just 2 minutes slower than last year (2013 - 1:21:09 — 2012 - 1:19:11)! I was stoked about that considering the lack of hard training leading up to the race. I did have great long distance runs the prior 2 weekends before the race, but didn’t think that was enough. Obviously my body was more prepared than I thought. I felt great after this race. Later on the race results were posted and I was stunned to realize that last year my overall place was 157 and my overall this year the same at 157! What are the odds of that occurring considering I was 2 minutes slower than last year? Last year for my age group I was 21st and this year I moved up a spot to 20th! Unbelievable. I guess, if anything, I am a consistent runner. Have a look for yourself on the results:

2012 Results

2013 Results (in the 40-45 group)