Archive for the ‘ Fitness ’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a difference a year makes…

At this time last year, I was basking in the glow of my first-ever 5 miler at the 2012 Cleveland Turkey Trot. In addition to completing the race itself, I also smashed my time goal. Heading into the race, my goal was to run at a 10:00 min\mile average pace. When I crossed the finish line and saw that I had run it in 47:06 (9:25 min\mi average pace), I was overjoyed.

Striding proudly towards the finish line during the 2012 Cleveland Turkey Trot (thanks to my brother-in-law Cyrus for this great pic!)

This achievement was even more notable in light of the fact that I ran a race while sick for the first time. I felt awful in the days leading up to the Turkey Trot. I had a bad sore throat, cough, and lots of congestion. Because I wanted to end my race season on a high note, I hid how bad I felt from just about everyone since I knew that people would have strongly encouraged me to sit it out if I was sick. Once the race started, though, my adrenaline kicked in and I felt fine. Considering that 5 miles was the longest distance that I had ever run in my life up to that time, I was pretty daunted and nervous heading into the race, but I was thrilled that it went so well and very glad that I could conclude my first-ever race season on a high note.

Celebrating a race well run!

Celebrating a race well run!

Fast forward to one year later. Read the rest of this entry

We saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Friday night down at the Cinemark in Valley View. The movie was excellent, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend that you do so (just read the books first!)


Katniss and I remembering who the real enemy is

As we drove home along Canal Road, I looked out at the section of the Towpath running adjacent to the road and began to think about all of the various runs that I had done in that specific area over the past year. Read the rest of this entry

Life was pretty busy in the week before the Towpath Half Marathon.

I woke up on Friday to find that one of my tires had finally given up the ghost and died. All four tires on my car were very old and I knew that they would need to be replaced before snow started flying. Longtime readers may remember that I had a flat tire on the way to the Cleveland Marathon Expo. As I made arrangements to deal with my tire, I figured that perhaps the flat tire might be a good omen that signified that I would be having as much success at the Towpath Half as I did at the Cleveland Half Marathon.

Packet pickup was much closer to my house this year, which was nice. Whenever I go to an expo or packet pickup for a race with a distance that I have never previously run, I always feel a bit lost and uncertain…almost like I don’t belong there. I wind up wandering around in a daze and I’m sure that more than a few race volunteers have wondered how I managed to wind up at the starting line! Because I had already run a half marathon, I didn’t feel this way at packet pickup, and I had a good time stopping by the various booths and talking with the various exhibitors who were there. I picked up some Gu packets because I thought the aid stations only had Powerbar gels, which I have never used before.

After taking Sheila to the airport, I spent the evening relaxing at home with some video games and carboloading with a delicious Mexican pasta bake that Sheila made so that I wouldn’t starve while she was gone!


I could seriously eat Mexican food for every meal. I took some students on a trip on Tuesday and I pointed out multiple Mexican restaurants that I love as we drove and by the end of the trip they were all making fun of my zeal for Mexican food. LOL!

As anyone who has read this blog for awhile now can attest, I have a bad habit of getting to races without much time to spare. Read the rest of this entry

If you follow me on Twitter (@ClevelandJoe), you may have seen that I tweeted, “I am going to have to keep training for marathons in order to force myself to keep space in my schedule for free time” at least two or three times over the past three weeks.

I took about two weeks off to rest after the Northern Ohio Marathon. Hindsight is always 20\20, of course, but I’m pretty sure that I came back too hard and too quickly after the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon and the Towpath 10-10 and that’s why I had some nagging injuries during late July and early August. With a few good months of running and racing ahead before the snow starts flying here in Ohio, I didn’t want to rush back after the longest run of my life and wind up sitting on the sidelines during November. Of course, the seven hours or so that I spent training each week promptly became consumed by work. I really love what I do, and I am blessed to work with students from a variety of ages. Nevertheless, going through a week without a few good runs during which I can clear my head is pretty rough.

When I wasn’t working, I spent a lot of time deciding whether I would run the Towpath Half Marathon or the 10K. Read the rest of this entry

Where did August go?

I honestly feel like I just got out of the awesome Dodge Avenger that we rented (thanks Priceline!) for our road trip from Cleveland to Rhode Island for the wedding of Sheila’s cousin Kate and her beau Justin. Although I have only met most of them one or two times, I really enjoy spending time with Sheila’s mom’s extended family. They welcomed me with open arms into the family right after we got married and we do a pretty good job of keeping in contact via Facebook. Despite never actually having the opportunity to meet him in person until the wedding, I have actually talked about sports and fantasy football with Justin for several years. I can’t believe we didn’t get a picture with the bride and groom, but here’s a picture of Sheila and I before the ceremony:


Needless to say, I was stoked for the trip! Although Dodge Avenger has horrible blind spots, I was pleased by the fact that it did have SIRIUS Satellite Radio! When I saw that there was an entire channel devoted to fantasy sports, I was pumped.

My fantasy draft “war room” after my long run on Saturday. Two computers (and a smartphone) for research, a protein recovery shake, ice packs, Gatorade, and hopefully a bit of football acumen that will help me reach the top of the heap in December!

Anyhow, the trip was great, but in the back of my mind I was worried about my hamstring for much of the trip. I had a hamstring injury that just would not go away, and it really put a damper on my running for much of July and early August. Read the rest of this entry

Whew! We’re finally back from vacation and finally on summer break. This summer has been much busier than I had expected that it would be.

I was pretty excited for the 2013 Lakewood Summer Meltdown.

This is the race that led me onto my running journey, and I’ll never forget my final ascent up Belle Avenue as I realized that I was actually going to complete my first 5K!

As discussed in my last post, my main focus this time around was to help Sheila prepare well for this race and to help her achieve her goal of running the entire 3.1 miles without stopping to walk. Read the rest of this entry

It’s been a fun summer, but it’s been a crazy one too. We’ve been to three weddings, three graduations, countless social gatherings, and much more.


Our friends Joyce and James got married just a few miles from the Towpath in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park! (The officiant is Pastor Che, who was the man who helped me get into My Fitness Pal and who played a major role in helping me start my weight loss journey.)

The past few months have flown by and I can’t believe that July is almost half over!


Butters enjoying our balcony and his bone during the July 4th weekend!

Fortunately, running hasn’t fallen by the wayside. Even though the weather in Cleveland has gone from being extremely hot and humid to cold and rainy in the span of a few hours, we’ve managed to keep up the miles.

You’ll note that I said “we” and not “I”. Why’s that?

Sheila has recently started to pick up the sport of running again! Read the rest of this entry

After two great “long” training runs, I was pretty pumped for the Towpath Ten-Ten.


I’m not sure why I enjoy everything Towpath-related so much, but I do. Perhaps it is because the entire area is so calm and serene and very close to my house, which means I can shoot over there and sneak a daytime run in during the week. Maybe it’s because the area seems like Narnia in many respects. Once I park my car and step through the “wardrobe” of the trailhead, I instantly find myself in a quiet area in which wildlife are constantly speaking, cars are happily absent, and green lushness is everywhere. Perhaps it’s because I feel very safe there; even when I was running there at night last weekend, I felt completely at ease.

Anyhow, I got a great night of sleep on Friday night because I don’t ever sleep well on the night before a race, and I headed down to packet packup early on Saturday before the wedding that we were scheduled to attend.

The wedding was fun and I enjoyed chatting with several folks who I don’t get to see very often.


My friend Steph took this picture – I had one plate this size with Indian food and one plate this size with Chinese food. Throw two egg custards and other sweets into the mix and you’ll see why I was afraid I’d need to be wheeled across the finish line!

Unfortunately, I ate way too much Chinese and Indian food at the wedding and I was afraid that I was going to pay for it on race day! Read the rest of this entry

Following a great first week of training for the Towpath Ten-Ten, I launched right into another busy week. Fortunately, this week was a bit more enjoyable than last week!

Some of the highlights of the past week were my brother’s graduation festivities. On Monday, he graduated from Bay High School. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the evening for me was thinking about how the common thread of running winds through our family and helps us understand each other.

When I walked in, I saw the following arrangement of cups on the counter:


Some people may look at that and wonder what’s going on, but I looked at that and thought, “That’s so smart of him to set out his pop days in advance so that all of the carbonation is out of it by the time he needs to drink it for energy on race day.”

Read the rest of this entry

I thought that the past few months leading up to the Cleveland half were as crazy as life could get.

Boy, was I wrong.

Life since the half marathon has been absolutely insane!

I’ve had major freakouts over the past two weeks because we have events almost every night through the end of June.

I’m not big into defining myself by personality tests or labels—to quote R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe response when he was asked about his sexuality, “Labels are for food”—but I have spent a decent amount of time in recent years figuring out whether I’m an introvert or an extrovert.


Thank God for Michael Stipe or else I would have felt completely not OK about marching to the beat of my own drummer during high school. (Image obtained from

Read the rest of this entry