Mondays Meanders 1-23

It has had been a while since I have last posted but I do want to get this blog back up and running.  I am in the process of putting my Spring race schedule together and feel that this is a good time to start this again.

I have signed up for my first full marathon.  I am running the Pittsburgh Marathon and am raiding money for the 2017 Alzheimers Association.  So hopefully I will start publishing training recaps soon, only 104 days until race day.  Check out my fundraising page:Pgh Marathon fundraising.

I have decided that I would also like to complete the 50 state challenge (a half in all 50 states, and I am adding DC as well).  I still have a long way to go on this front, but I have signed up to cross off my 4th state, Ohio in May as well.  I currently have Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Alaska crossed off.  Would like to try and get up to 6 states by the end of the year.  But first I need to find some fun races, preferably within easy driving distance from Pittsburgh.  If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

Tuesday’s Thought

I turned my knee slightly over the weekend, and was struggling on my run this morning.  It probably would have been the smarter thing to take a rest day today, but it was just too nice this morning.  I decided to take the shorter loop as my knee was a little tight when I left the house, and it was just about the halfway point (where I start back uphill) in my run that I seemed to struggle the most.  I have said before that i do not run with headphones, running in the early morning I tend to find it easier to hear what is going on around me, so the only music I hear is what is going on in my head.

One thing that I have noticed recently is that when I am struggling on runs, the same lyrics seem to pop in my head.  I seem to always hear part of the chorus of “one foot” by Fun.  It’s not even the entire chorus, just the same line of it repeated over and over…”I put one foot in front of the other one”.  I find this a little odd for 2 reasons.

The first reason is that I don’t know the lyrics to this song, and I have never really looked at/thought about the lyrics.  I probably could not give you more than that line from the song.  It is not the most motivating of songs in my opinion, It would not be on an iPod if I used one for a run.  I could easily name at least 10 songs off the top of my head that I would use to pump me up, or motivate me.  But for some reason these are they lyrics that seem to come into my head when I have been struggling.

While there are plenty of songs that would be much better motivation, these lyrics have been helping me to focus through those areas where I am struggling.  Essentially on a run that is what you are doing, putting one foot in front of the other.  However, the tempo of the song does not really match the pace of my normal run.

Whatever it is, it has been helping me push through the points in my runs where I have been struggling.  It is interesting to think about what goes through my head when I am out on a run.  So the question of the day is, what goes through your head on a run?

Five Things Friday (5/8/15)

It has been a rather hectic week since the Pittsburgh Marathon, and I will get that Recap up sometime today.   But in the meantime, Happy Friday.  But here is a quick Five Things Friday:

1) Back yard projects, I finally have finalized a plan for my back yard, so expect to see a few blog posts about it over the next few weeks.  My goal it to get at least half of it done prior to my Alaska vacation next month.

2) Speaking of backyards, there was one thing that i did not do last year that I need to do this year.  My garden.  I really missed all the fresh tomatoes and other fresh veggies.  It’s one thing I will be doing this year.  Just not for another week or two.

3) Miami Half Marathon.  I am seriously debating running thin in January.  I will be in Maimi a few days later for The Rock Boat, so what is getting out of the cold a few days early.  I just don’t know if I want to spend 4-5 days in Miami.  I may have to go Key West for a night or two.

4)  After running the Pittsburgh Marathon (Half), I decided that I will run the Full Marathon in 2 years for my 35th birthday.  I hope my friends actually hold me to this.

5) The look of the Blog.  Over the next week or two I am going to be updating the look of this blog.  Even I have to admit that it needs a little updating.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Why I run (Part two, the journey)

At the time a broke my leg I was weighing around 275-280, and the one thing I was thinking was that if I was in better shape, I might not be sitting in this hospital bed.  I knew I had a long recovery in front of me, and I decided to make the best of it.

Me before I broke my Leg
Me before I broke my Leg, Sometime late 2010

The recovery process was a long one.  It started with 5 days in the hospital, and I started PT at home the Friday after the injury.  I actually only took a week off of work.  Though this was mainly because I had just started my job in December and had not accumulated that many sick days at that point.  I was cleared by my Dr. but was also told that I could not leave my desk.  This made things a little interesting when I needed a glass of water, I had to find a coworker to go get it for me.  The first few months of PT was not much more than mobility exercises with the ankle.  I was not able to actually put any weight on the leg until June, and by the end of just I was able to move around without crutches.  Though it was exhausting to walk around for any length of time.  (On another note I was out in Lake Tahoe and San Francisco area in June for my cousins wedding, neither of those places is any fun on crutches).

Once I got back from California I ditched the Crutches for good.  Progress was slow, but I was able to get out and walk after work.  Much better than previously where all I did was go to work eat and read (but it did allow me to read the first 5 books of A Song of Ice and Fire in 6 weeks).  It took a few weeks to be able to walk more than a mile before coming home and having to ice my leg, but eventually I was able to get a 5 mile walk without having to stop.  About this time I was starting to do some running at PT as well and was cleared to start running on my own.  That was a challenge, I was able to run for a little over 1.5 miles without stopping, and I was not even keeping record of my pace.  But then again that was not the point, I had a lot of strength and endurance to get back to where I was before i broke my leg.  It took a few weeks, but it was gradually coming back.

My last PT session was in late August, which was a big milestone as I had been there 2-3 times a feel for the better part of 5 months.  That was also the time practices were starting up, and while I was not able to play that Fall, at the time I was debating if I would ever step on the field again, I knew this would be a good time to get out of the house and do some running.  I would run to the field twice a week and do as much conditioning work as my leg would let me.  For the drills I would not do I would do sprint work on the side of the field if I could.  This continued all fall, and because I could not play that season I got back in to refereeing youth soccer on saturdays to get in more running.  Come that winter I made sure that I went out a few times a week for a run.  By Spring I was easily getting through 5 mile runs and starting to work on speed on those runs.  I also decided that I would give Rugby another shot that spring (The incident did not happen in a set play, but a bad play in open field, so I wanted to give it a try and not regret in years down the line).  A big part of me was very hesitant, but I knew that I would know very quickly If I would be able to play again.  I stayed out of contact for the first few practices, but realized if i kept doing that I would never get back in.  The first tackling drill I jumped in I had no hesitation in hitting or taking a hit, I knew I could play again.  The spring season was rather uneventful, but I was running more and getting faster and stronger.  I had lost a few pounds after the injury as I was being more active, but I decided i wanted to lose a lot more and get in better shape.

That spring I had a few friends run the Pittsburgh Marathon and seeing that I did not have anything to do that sunday I went down to cheer people on.  Seeing as I needed a workout I decided to take the bike down and try and see friends at a few places along the course.  I enjoyed it enough that I decided I would give it a try in 2012.

Looking back on my training for the 2013 Half marathon I had even less of a clue about what I was doing than I do now.  I figured my normal 4-5 mile runs, 4-5 times a week, would be good enough training.  I did a few slightly longer runs as well, but those were few and far between.  I was lucky enough that my friend Chelsea over at convinced me that I probably should do a few longer runs in preparation.   It was nice pushing myself, it also helped me eat better and overall become a healthier person.  During this training process I lost a bit of weight.

Taken about a month after my first half marathon.
Taken about a month after my first half marathon.

My First Half Marathon was the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013, tomorrow will be my third.  I was very happy with my first, still a PR to this day 1:52.03.  I should have beat that last year, but I pulled a hamstring about the half way point.  I finished but was rather disappointed with my 1:57 finish.  When i signed up for this year my goal was a sub 1:40, and if this race was two months ago I think I would have hit it.  I am still hoping that tomorrow will be a new PR, but if not I know I have 2 more races coming up and I will break the 1:50 mark this summer.   As for the weight loss, I have put some back on in the last year or so, but with the warmer weather and being outside I know that I will take most of that off again soon.

Why I Run (part one, the incident)

Everyone seems to have their own story or reason they run.  A few people I know got into it as a result, or because of weightless, some people because they thought it would be a less expensive sport to get into (the joke is on them).  But everyone seems to have their own reason as to why they started, and enjoy running.

I have always been an athlete, in middle school I even ran cross country, I was not the best but I did enjoy it.  High school I played soccer and swam.  With soccer i did a lot of running and sprint work as part of training.  When I hit college, that kind of stopped, I was not playing any organized sport the first semester I was on campus and started to put on a few pounds.  I tried out for the soccer team, and if I would have done any running over the summer I would have made it.  One of the last things we did for the open tryout, I think there were 3 of us left at this point, was a 2 mile run.  I saw i ran it in about 18 minutes and knew I had no chance.  By spring semester I missed the aspect of being on a team, so I joined the rowing team.  This did keep me in shape for the rest of college, even though I was not eating the healthiest, the amount I worked out kept me from adding on the pounds.

However after graduation I did not really do anything for about 8 months, the most I could say I ran was many a 2-3 mile jog in a week.  I knew I wanted to give Rugby a try, but I also knew I would not step on that field without health insurance, so that had to wait until I found a job with benefits.  Once I found a job with benefits, I joined the Pittsburgh Rugby Club.  This got me back into somewhat of a workout schedule, 2 practices and at least one match each week during the season.  But I still was not really working out all that much on my own.  That all changed with an incident 4 years ago today.

The Pittsburgh Rugby Club was playing the Detroit Rugby Club.  If you remember spring 4 years ago you will remember that it was a really rainy spring.  It was in the second half of the B side game.  Detroit had the ball, My teammate was going to make a tackle and I was running in support.  Instead of making a tackle, The Detroit player was hit then swung around…his hip into my shin.   This occurred in a very muddy area of the field so at this point my foot was basically buried in the mud.  When I was hit, my leg had no where to go so the Detroit player basically went through my shin.  I knew my leg was broken before I hit the ground, the sidelines said it sounded like a shotgun blast.  Both bones, well 4 because they were broken in half, were sticking through the side of my leg.  We are lucky enough to have an orthopedic surgeon, or one of his fellows, at all of our home matches.  He was able to somewhat clean off the area and splint it up the best he could under the situation.  While we waited for the ambulance, and we did wait for about 45 minutes, Dr. Sam was on the phone with the surgeon on call at Mercy letting him know what was heading on.  It took about 45 minutes for the ambulance to get to the field, and I’m not exaggerating much on that, Dr. Sam later told me that he was about the call in a life flight as he thought if I waited much longer I may bleed out of the field.  One thing that I am happy about with this is that I never saw the actual injury, other than x-rays, and I do not believe any pictures exist of it.

When I saw the surgeon in the ER, the first thing he told me was a worst case, as he had not yet seen the x-rays, and this was the possibility of an external splint and a few weeks in the hospital.  Lucky for me he cam back a short time late and said that I was lucky and it was a clean break, I should be out of the hospital in a few days.  The Surgery went fine, and I now have a to this day I still have a rod through my Tibia and a few interesting scars on my leg.  I spent the better part of a week in the hospital because they were worried about infection due to the muddy conditions which I broke my leg in.  But those 5 days in the hospital gave me some serious time to think, even if it was because of the drug induced state.  I was laying in a hospital bed with a broken leg, at the time I weighed 275-280lbs., and looking back I can honestly say I was not exactly happy with the shape I was in.  Something had to change, I was thinking to myself that if I were in better shape, I probably would not be sitting in the hospital bed.

(to be continued tomorrow)

Finding my stride

My first half of the year is quickly approaching.  Pittsburgh is in less than 2 weeks, and as I have said before I am nowhere near where I would like to be.  I really wanted to break the 1:40 mark for this race.  I know that is not going to happen in Pittsburgh, though at this point I still hope I can pull it off for deckers creek or Anchorage,  there is still enough time to train for those races.  

The frustrating part of the for me was the fact that I did not seem to be able to find my stride.  A month ago my runs felt better and more natural.  I would say to the point that I was more prepared a month ago to run this half than I am today.  Lately all of my runs have felt slow, and almost like I have been running through mud.  My legs also seem to want to quit after about 5 miles.  I will say that for last Monday’s long run, 12 miles, part of the issue was the temp.  I was not prepared for the 80 degree temp that I ran in.  I was out of water by mile 6.  I really wanted to finish so I pushed through and did get the entire thing in, though I did have to walk a little…especially in then last mile.  Overall my training in the last month has been poor to say the least.  

Last night I had planed to run 6 miles this morning.  However I was slow moving so by the time I hit the road at 5:30, I knew that I would only be able to get in 4-5.  I’m not sure where it happened but so ewhere around mile 2 I realized that I was actually feeling good on this run.  Not sure what helped, the stretching,  resting a little more than I would have liked, or something else, but something seemed to pull me out of the slump that I have been in.  While I’m still slower than I would like, I at least have my stride back…and wig that I know the speed will come back, even if it’s not for Pittsburgh.  What do you do to bring you out of a training slump?

Five Things Friday (4/17/15)

Happy Friday everyone.  I hope everyone is as ready for the weekend as I am.  Anyway here are to weeks 5 things.

1) This weekend my rugby team plays Cleveland.  This is basically a playoff game for us, so we need to come away with a win.  We would still make playoffs if we lose, but it would most likely mean a long road trip next week against as higher seeded team.  Hoping to have a longer recap on this game.

2) The Pittsburgh marathon is quickly approaching, and I feel that my trainning lately is really off.  I’m not worried at all about finishing, and I should still break 2 hours, but I really wanted to break 1:40, and I don’t think that is going to happen.  My legs just seem too tight this week to keep a decent pace for any amount of time.  Hopefully I can figure out what is going on and fix it ASAP.  If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them.

3) Two months from tomorrow I will be starting my alaska adventure 2015.  I can’t wait to get up there and see more of the state than I have had the chance to in the past.  

4) I have decided this summer I will be finishing my back yard, hopefully by the time that I get back from Alaska to have a cookout wi all the fish I plan on bringing back.  This is going to be a bit of a project, and one that I will not really be able to do on my own.  So don’t be suprised if you hear a little more about this project in the near future.  I need to get on it if I’m going to get things done in the next few months.

5) It’s finally starting to feel like spring.  Which makes it that much easier to get up and go for a run in the AM.  While it is still dark on those runs, it is star tending to brighten up before I get home.  I’m really hoping that this helps break the funk I have beeni in lately.  I am sill waiting to see the sun rise while I am out on my morning run, but I know that will be here before I know it.

Weekend Recap (4/13)

This past weekend my rugby club traveled to Detroit to play the Detroit RFC for our first league match of the season.  The weather was perfect and and withe a later start we did not have to leave Pittsburgh before the sun came up.  Our women’s team kicked off before we arrived and beat both Detroit and cinicnati’s women’s teams.  Our team also beat the Detroit RFC’s men’s team 45-26.  Unfortunately our D3 team lost to Erie, or we would have had a nice little sweep. While we won by a decent margined still have a little to work on if we are going to do well in playoffs this year.  We also need a win this weekend against Cleveland.  2 more practices to work out some minor issues before then.

Sunday I had scheduled a long run 11 miles, but after getting home at 2 am,  I could not drag myself out of bed for a run.  I had hoped to put this off to the afternoon but yardwork and spring cleaning got in the way.  Before I knew it 5pm was here and I did not get my run in.  Looks like that means a nice 11 miles after work today.  Now I just need to figure out where to run, I don’t feel like 11 hilly miles by my house.  I did manage to get a decent amount of yardwork done, so I don’t exactly look like that house on the block any more…though there is still a lot more work to do. 

I finished off the weekend by firing up the grill for some burgers, followed up by the season premier of Game of Thrones.  Leaving it at that because I know I have a few friends that did not get the chance to watch last night.


I have always been someone who has had very tight hamstrings; however, it has never been too much of an issue…until recently that is.  The last few weeks the have been both tight and sore.  It is starting to get to the point where I think it is starting to affect my runs and other activities.  I know my gate has changes slightly (at least based on blisters in places I normally don’t get them), this has had an effect on my speed and stride, and overall tightness in my back.

While I said that my tight hamstrings generally do not cause issues, it would not be the first time.  Back in college when I was on the Rowing team, there was a period where I as having knee issues.  By the time i went to the trainer to see if there was anything that he could do, i was told two things. First was that the knee issues were probably being caused by my hamstrings, and the second thing was that I probably had the tightest hamstrings that the individual had ever worked on.  I was given some stretches that helped and was told to come back if the issue persisted.  After a few days of doing these stretches the issues with my knee seemed to go away.

Fast forward to today.  I still do most of those stretches, and I have added in a few others over the years…and recently I have found the foam roller.  The only real difference recently is that i have not been getting in my normal morning run, or gym workout.  While I do stretch out a little before a run or workout, I have never been a person to stretch out before a workout or stretch cold for that matter.  I just do not feel like I get a good stretch unless my muscles are warmed up first.  that being said i do get in a light stretch when I wake up and before I go to bed along with after any workout.  Now that my schedule has gotten back to being a little more normal, I am starting to get back into the morning runs/workouts.  I’m hoping this helps as I get a really good stretch in after these runs.  If not I could be in a little trouble as the weather is becoming nice again and I am looking forward to building up the miles to catch up for a rather disappointing January and February.

Does anyone else deal with Extremely tight hamstrings?  Other than stretch more, what do you do to help keep the hamstrings loose?

The Joys of Remodeling an Older Home

I have an older house, built somewhere before 1922.  My tax assessment say 1922, however I have seen a plat map from 1902 that looks like it has this house on it.  That’s not the point of this post however, anyone who has an older house can probably attest to the fact that even small projects can turn into much bigger projects than you may have hoped…and whit that can take a bit longer than intended.  One of the many projects that I am currently working on is a bathroom.  I hoped to have this done by now, but 100 year old plumbing can take a little longer to figure out.  Especially when it is threaded and soldered together.  An older picture is below.  (Note: that is a cast iron bath tub that previous owners for some reason saw a need to enclose.) 


I hoped to have this done by now, but 100 year old plumbing can take a little longer to figure out; especially when it is threaded and soldered together.   I started out by gutting the floors and ripping out some of the plaster walls that were not in the best of shape.  This was the easy part of the job.  Once this was done i realized it was going to be a bit more work that I had hoped to remove the bath tub so I could work on the walls behind the tub.  I should have just figured out a way to work around the tub, but I decided that it would be much easer.  Lucky I have a friend that is a little better than I am with plumbing work, though I should have put more into the fact that the first time he looked at this project he said none of this looks to be standard sized.  Fast forward to today when my friend it actually disconnecting the plumbing, it took a few hours and some interesting connections, but the tub is finally disconnected and I can get to work on the rest of the bathroom.



I am planning on keeping the old claw foot tub, I just want to clean it up before I put it back.  It also looks like I may end up redoing a lot of the blurbing in the bathroom, including what is under the floor.  Of course that means that I will be ripping up most of the subfloor.  Looks like it is going to be a bit more work than I had hoped…and most likely a bit over the budget I had hoped for.  But at least I can get moving on this project again.