Mar 1, 2012

My Grandpa

My grandpa passed away one month ago today. I wasn't as close with him as I would have liked, but he was always a giant figure in my life. In the days that followed his death, I was able to learn so much more about him and some of his heroics as a police officer, including the following article, written by the chief of police in Willowick, OH.

Heroes are not born but are ordinary men who are placed into situations that require extraordinary actions. A Willowick hero died last month. He was Sgt. George Duncan who retired from the Willowick Police Department in 1981 after a 27 year career. Although I never had the opportunity to work with George, we got... to know each other when he would come by to visit his police comrades, particularly his son Duane, who retired in 1999. George’s easygoing manner and smile were a trademark but as the years went by and other officers he worked with retired, his visits were less frequent.

At his wake, his accomplishments were on display, in particular a “Blue Coat” award given to him in 1976 by the Knights of Columbus. Although he was deserving of this award for many reasons, the one that he is most remembered for is an incident that occurred in the winter on Lake Erie near the old E 330 St beach area that is virtually gone now. A report came in of 3 male juveniles who had fallen into the water when ice broke up. Along with Ptl. John Germ (former Police Chief) and the other hero of this story, they walked through ankle deep slush, and were able to rescue 2 of the 3 boys. The 3rd boy was too far out and hit by ice and they lost sight of him. At one point, the 2 officers literally made a human chain out onto the fragile ice to effect the rescue. Yet George’s wife, Myra, said that as he came home soaked to the skin, he was bothered by one he couldn’t save.

As George Duncan was laid to rest last week, I know one fallen hero was welcomed home and told that his life was a job well done.

Jan 5, 2012

#18 - Bring it On!

CLE2012 will be my 18th attempt at 26.2... and hopefully my 18th successful 26.2 as well. I set a new PR at CLE2011 and I'm well ahead of where I was last year at this time from a fitness standpoint. Assuming I can continue to train with relative consistency, I can't think of a good reason why I wouldn't aim to improve my PR by a minute or two. I've got plenty of benchmark type workouts to gauge my progress and should have a real good idea of what to shoot for on May 20.

Jan 4, 2012

Extreme Makeover - Boys Bedroom Edition

In the spring of 2011, I redid the boys room extreme makeover style. It was a lot of work (roughly 3 weeks) but I learned a lot and now with the benefit of hindsight, feel as though this project was my foray into the world of DIY and becoming a little more handy.

The first stage (or demo stage) included; ripping out the carpet and padding, prying off some chair rail, painting/priming over the old paint scheme, scraping off the pointy plaster stuff on the ceiling (there's a good reason for this), and installing a new receptacle for an overhead light. Fun, right? Lot's of destruction!

Stage two involved making the vision in my head a reality. This involved; laminate installation, crown molding, wiring overhead light to a new switch, wallpapering, and last but not least, skim coating the ceiling. Count your blessings if you don't know what it means to skim coat a ceiling. That's all I've got to say about that!

A couple before pics...

Nursery was Baby Pooh themed... great for a newborn.. lame for 3-1/2 year olds

It was definitely time for a change!

I really has no idea how long this project was going to take but I envisioned letting everyone get one last look at the old room, closing the door and opening it a few days later to everyone's utter amazement. Well, unlike the real Extreme Makeover, I didn't have a team of re-modelers ready to pounce.... so, it took a little longer. But I was able to enlist the "help" of a couple eager little boys...

Once the room was gutted and the ceiling was skim-coated to my satisfaction, things started to move pretty quickly... First the wiring, then the new paint and wallpaper (brick), then the molding, and finally the laminate floor.

Almost done...

I dropped the crown molding about a foot down from the ceiling to function as a tray for rope lights that I snaked around the room's perimeter. The ropes and outlet are completely hidden from floor level. It's only when you turn off the lights and flip the new wall switch that you see this...

It's much cooler in person...

Overall, we wanted the room to grow with them and I think we accomplished this in that different "themes" can be realized simply by accessorizing with the boys favorite thing(s). In June, when I wrapped things up, they were into Cars 2. Perfect, since we already had a bunch of stuff from the first Cars movie!

The finished product...

Oh yeah... the reason I "had" to scrape off the pointy plaster stuff from the ceiling was so I could stick glow-in-the-dark stars up there! Definitely worth it in the end!

Daze Gone By!

I'm surprised I remembered my password to get into Blogger. Damn I'm a slacker! Crazy thing is that I had a million things I intended to blog last year but kept putting it off.... I don't know if this service will be around forever (probably not) but I like to think I will at least be able to capture it in a format that will allow me to look back on it many years from now. In that sense, I think of my blog as somewhat of a journal (the manly word for diary ; ) At this point in my life, I really appreciate the value of capturing the little things in life as they tend to be whizzing by at a feverish pace.

May 25, 2011

2011 Cleveland Marathon - 2:54:42

I arrived at the start line with about 5 minutes to spare and had a chance to mingle with a few other runners. The court announcer from the Cavaliers was there to pump up the crowd and give the official start. It was a smooth start… no jockeying for position, etc. I kept my eye on a group I knew would be running 6:15-6:18 for the first mile and distanced myself far enough back hoping to lock into my target pace. Mile 1 was up W. 3rd and onto the shoreway (heading towards Edgewater / Lakewood). I felt a little winded early and wondered if I had gone out too fast, but in hindsight I think it was a combination of the early climb and my body adjusting to the brisk pace after standing around all morning. I also started to feel a little warm in the early miles and considered shedding my arm warmers, but decided against it because I knew the temp was going to drop slightly and the rain would continue. My mile splits stayed pretty consistent through the first half with the slowest mile being a 6:46 mile 11 (over the bridge against a headwind). Figured I was around 2:51 pace at the half, which is pretty much right where I wanted to be. I knew I was not likely to run the second half as strong as the first but I set myself up for a very realistic chance at running 2:55, and was almost certain to break 3:00.

The second half of the course brought with it two new challenges… isolation and unfamiliarity. Isolation is by far the greatest challenge but knowing my family was waiting for me at mile 17 made the first four miles bearable. At that point, the course became a little more familiar (very familiar actually) as we descended north on MLK towards the lake, but this is the most isolated part of the course by far. A couple strong runners passed as if I was standing still and I watched them slowly but steadily increase their lead, leaving me to wonder whether I was slowing or they were surging. My splits for mile 18 and 19 were 6:42 and 6:38, respectively (dead on pace), which made me feel better. By the time I hit the lake, I was starting to feel it in my legs… nothing was cramping but that all too familiar feeling of pain and discomfort was present and it’s at this point when my natural response is to do whatever is necessary to ease the pain, which in most cases means slowing down. This is also the point I train months for (both mentally and physically) so I tapped into my favorite mantra “You earned this pain” and my thoughts and inner dialogue were with a dear friend who passed earlier this year. Mile 22 was slow (7:32) but I knew it was due in large part to the hairpin turn coming off of marginal and the climb up E.55th towards St. Clair. Also because I walked through a water stop for water and a gel. Fortunately, I was encouraged by a runner just as I was starting back up after water, which really helped get me back on track. Unfortunately, he was moving too fast for me to go with him, but it was just the right amount of motivation to keep me from fading. At this point in the race, motivation in any form is welcome and I received it once again somewhere between 22 and 23 when another runner was on my heels and passing. This time, I urged myself to go with him. Looking back, this was the most critical moment of my race. Had I let him go, I would have watched another dozen or so other runners go by, having no energy or confidence to go with them. We silently urged each other on until just before mile 24, when he suddenly stopped to stretch. I had no idea he was hurting because he just looked so damn strong to me. I was running alone once again but was less than 15 minutes from being done and starting to surge knowing sub-3 was a lock and 2:55 was still on the table. Miles 25 and 26 were 6:59 and 6:56, respectively.

Earlier in the morning as I headed down E. 9th towards Brown’s Stadium, I saw mile marker 26 and it was practically falling over backwards given its position on the steep descent towards the lake. Pretty much right at mile marker 26, I spotted Teresa and the boys off to the left. I remember yelling, “I’m doing good!” and “I think I’ll be around 2:55!” The homestretch was incredible as always and I crossed the finish line in 2:54:42! I really wish I could be a spectator at my own race because it would be interesting to see how I look on the outside knowing how amazing I feel on the inside. My guess is that I probably look like a pile of garbage! My finish time is a new personal best and was accomplished on about 8 weeks of training with next-to-no running in the second half of 2010. During my training, I think the following things worked in my favor:

  1. Perfect mix of training runs (i.e. tempo, speed, LSD, etc)
  2. Quality over quantity... 35-40 miles/week except for the last week before taper (70 miles)
  3. Did not over-train (i.e. peaked at just the right time)
  4. Lots of core work (P90X - Ab Ripper X)
  5. In bed by 10PM most nights
  6. Took a full year off between marathons (plenty of time to put running/marathoning into perspective)
  7. Support of my family! This is a constant, but I'm eternally grateful for their love.

Dec 1, 2010

Together Forever?

Our boys have/are growing up so quickly. It makes me sad to think that one day they may go to separate colleges, live/work in different cities, etc. I wish they could stay together forever! These pictures are priceless and mean so much to Teresa and I. Hopefully as time goes on, the idea of them separating (both from us and each other) becomes a little easier to accept.

Nov 30, 2010

Do I Have To Say The Words?

Tree and I had a surprise date night last night.... well, it was a surprise for her anyway. About 2 months ago I caught wind that Bryan Adams would be playing an acoustic (Bare Bones) show at the State Theater in Sandusky. After some thought, I decided not to tell her until the day of the show (I'm good at keeping secrets). She's got a photographic memory when it comes to music - this dates back to the countless hours she spent singing in dancing in her room as a child - so I didn't feel as though she needed advance notice to "prep" for the show. I was right. As he stood up there singing and playing his acoustic guitar (accompanied on some songs by a piano) I could hear her singing along with every word and knew she was enjoying herself.

For some reason, I'm still amazed to this day how much of a Bryan Adams fan she is (and always has been). We first met at a time when "grunge" rock and "gangster" rap were mainstrseam and my impression of her was that she was like me and every other kid in their late teens at the time. Not so much! I guess she's an 'old soul' in that sense!

Nov 2, 2010

Goal Setting

It's never too early to set goals for the new year. In fact, some of the goals I have floating around in my head can be accomplished before the new year and some are more long term and will not come to fruition until 2012 and beyond. However, as is the point of any goal setting session, the important thing is getting them out there so I can formulate a plan of attack. Here goes:
  • Ironman #2 - probably a 2012 and beyond goal, but I have to keep sight of this and continue working in the pool and on my biking.
  • Build a playroom and indoor workout area - Our recently flooded basement has inspired me to make the most of the space we have (there's tons of it). Certainly more to come on this.
  • Run another sub-3 marathon - Spring 2011, Cleveland.
  • Organize garage, including priming and painting drywall, building shelves, etc.
  • NYC Marathon - This one is definitely 2012 and beyond as I want to wait until the munchkins are old enough to take on the big apple.
  • Office/Study Build - Our home came equipped with an office/study... well, everything except the desk, chairs, computer, etc. So much of our house is filled with old furniture left over from our college days and this room is in sore need of a more grown up look (and feel). I'm thinking laminate floor, suede-textured walls, a two-person desk, wall space for our diplomas, etc.
  • Outdoor Patio - The plan is to do all the legwork (i.e. line up contractor) by spring of 2011 so it's complete in time for the warm weather.
  • Finish Books - I have trouble reading a book to completion. Mostly because my interest level has dimished by the halfway point and it's a real bore going from page-to-page. I guess my goal should instead be to find more compelling books ; )
  • Start collecting a Gregory Peck movie library - and to go along with it, a collection of all the novels his movies were adapted from.