Archive for the ‘ Fun in Cleveland! ’ 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

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

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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.

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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

Adopt A Forever Friend Today!

Every week, my mom sends us a letter containing newspaper comics that she has found interesting over the past few days and updates about what’s going on with her life.

Many times, these comics are humorous and often involve lawyers behaving badly or dogs doing endearing things.

Last week, though, was a different story. As we were processing the mail that had accumulated while we were visiting Sheila’s family in DC, Sheila came across the following comic and had to put it down because she was about to start crying:

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Shortly thereafter, I read the same comic and I actually did tear up a bit.

Most of you who have read this blog already know that the real star of the blog is our pup Butters. Read the rest of this entry

I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

Cliché, I know.

Trying to adequately sum up the culmination of some of the most transformative and amazing 12 weeks of your life in a few paragraphs is nearly impossible, but I’ll give it a shot. This is a long post, but c’mon…it’s my first half marathon! Read the rest of this entry

My last training run—a nice 2 miler—is in the books!

I ran in the same area in Tremont in which I struggled to run 2 or 3 blocks back when I started running in June 2012. During those days, running 1 mile seemed like an enormous accomplishment that I might never be able to do, and the fact that I’ve been able to go from 0 to 13.1 (Lord willing) in less than a year’s time still blows my mind sometimes.

More than anything else, this entire experience has been a great reminder that I can accomplish great things in my life with hard work, dedication, tenacity, prayer, and perseverance. It has been a great reminder that the truly greatest accomplishments in life are not easy and that nothing worthwhile comes without sacrifice and investment. Running has been a great reminder of how I can achieve my goals if I refuse to give up and refuse to allow temporary frustrations and obstacles to deter or distract me.

Greater Cleveland has a great community of runners, and I don’t think that’s an accident.

Why? Read the rest of this entry

Have you entered my giveaway for 2 tickets to the VIP Brunch at the Cleveland Marathon? Click here for the post and be sure to enter by Tuesday, May 14th at 11:59PM!

After two great training runs during the week, I was stoked for my weekend long run! I was prepared to go 9.5 miles, which would be a 1 mile increase from the distance of the long runs that I had conquered over the past two weeks.

While I enjoy the tranquility and peacefulness of the Towpath, I figured that having at least one run on the final part of the Cleveland Marathon course would be helpful. Additionally, familiarity can often breed contempt, and I’ll need to get in multiple runs on the Towpath throughout the summer as I prepare for the Towpath 10-10 in June and the Towpath Marathon in October. In order to guard against getting bored with the Towpath, I decided to head downtown for my long run. Read the rest of this entry

I just got back home from one of the coolest events that I’ve attended in quite some time and I wanted to tell all of you about it!

I am blessed to have an extremely diverse circle of friends. One of these friends is a very talented person named of Julia Kuo. (Clevelanders may remember Julia from the well-known 100 Days in Cleveland project, as well as New To Cleveland, a book which she co-authored.) I met her approximately five years ago through some mutual friends and she has been a great friend to Sheila, me, and Butters over the years.

Julia giving Butters his birthday gift at his first birthday party!

Julia giving Butters his birthday gift at his first birthday party!

Julia is currently helping to create a program called Literary Lots. As anyone who has lived in Cleveland can attest, we have far too many underutilized green spaces and vacant lots within our great city. We also have a large population of young people whose literacy rates and vocabulary skills are far lower than their grade level and who unfortunately do not view reading as a fun, engaging hobby. Literary Lots is an organization that seeks to help encourage reading amongst Cleveland’s youth by transforming green spaces and vacant lots into spaces in which books are brought to life by local artists through programs that engage urban youth in summer activities.

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Today, we had the privilege to attend the Literary Lots Kickstarter Launch Party!

Read the rest of this entry

Hey Northeast Ohioans!

Are you looking for something to do on Saturday morning?

Have you ever wanted to try out a 5K or a 1 mile run but didn’t know where to begin?

Would you like to get some exercise?

If you answered “YES!” to any of the above, I invite you to come and join me tomorrow morning at the Bay Village Snoball Run! You can’t register online anymore, but you can register at the race itself. There’s both a 5K run and a mile run. I’ll be doing the 5K.

The proceeds from this race go to support Bay High School’s athletic teams. My brother has run track and cross country for Bay High School for four years and I’m glad to have the opportunity to support his school. He’ll be the guy at the front of the pack who will have knocked out the entire race by the time I’ve finished a mile or so! (I’ll never forget seeing him running back to the finish line in first place at the Lakewood Summer Meltdown after I had just reached the one mile mark!) I’m looking forward to racing with him as he prepares for his last season of track before he takes his talents to college.

This was taken right after my brother won the West Shore Conference Championship for the 1 Mile Run in May 2012!

Hopefully all of this freezing rain crap will be gone tomorrow and we’ll have a nice, safe, fun, and fast race. I’m personally excited to kick off my 2013 racing season and to see if I can pull off a PR. If you’re there, say hi!

Listen To Your Stronger Self!

Some of my fondest memories from high school involve my experiences as a statistician for the St. Ignatius football and basketball teams. Three friends and I kept statistics for the football and basketball teams during our last three years of high school. In addition to having the privilege to see many current NFL and NBA players in action during their high school years, I had the opportunity to travel throughout Ohio when the team played away games in Cincinnati, Columbus, Akron, Toledo, and elsewhere. We played at Fawcett Stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame during my junior year, and I always recall sitting in the press box watching Ignatius and Canton McKinley play one of the most memorable high school football games in Ohio high school sports history every August while I’m watching the Hall of Fame Game.

Another fond memory from my junior year occurred when our basketball team shocked everyone and made a run to the state championship game. We rode on the team bus for basketball and since we provided stats to the coaches at halftime we would sit in the locker room and observe as the coaches broke down the game plan. I’ll never forget our coach’s speech before the regional championship game. One of the lines that has stuck with me for years is, “You’ve worked much harder all season long than them and you want it more than they do. They didn’t get up at 6:00 A.M. to lift weights like you guys did.”

I drew upon the inspiration from that memory during my training over the past two weeks. During the last week of January, I was grateful to have been able to get in three solid runs (2 inside and 1 outside) as they provided much-needed relief during a very stressful and busy week. Last week, the near-constant bad weather almost forced me into a zero week. Fortunately, I had a one-hour window on Saturday during which I squeezed in a great run.

However, I have had a LOT of trouble staying motivated at various times during my runs. My “weaker self”—the voice of doubt in my head that kept me on the couch for so many years—repeatedly tells me, “Your training schedule doesn’t even formally begin until later in February. You don’t even need to be doing this right now. Why don’t you just take it easy?”

I’ll admit that I often consider stopping and rationalizing my choice as protecting my health for the future. Every time I entertain this idea, my coach’s words from 15 years ago ring out in my head and my “stronger self” takes over, and I keep doggedly pushing onward towards the finish line.

As a statistician, I wasn’t required to attend practice, but I was still well aware of the hard work that the players and coaches invested each and every day all year long. During the offseason, I’m willing to bet that many of the players didn’t realize that each and every practice and workout was bringing them one step closer to a state championship while they were in the midst of the activity. However, each and every practice and workout was a small stepping stone towards an end goal.

Running alone at night during a frigid Cleveland winter can be a somewhat isolating exercise. Seeing other runners helps me know that I’m not the only crazy one out there, but I oftentimes feel like Frodo in Lord of the Rings as I journey through the Cleveland landscape. As I run through Tremont, I often see happy couples and other assorted people heading out for dinner and drinks on weekend evenings, and I wonder if they think I’m crazy as I run past them covered in sweat and gasping for air. (Heck, sometimes I wonder if I’m crazy!)

This is the view from the end of West 10th Street. I’ve seen this view on almost every run that I’ve done since June 2012, but it never gets old. Cleveland’s skyline looks even more beautiful at night when I’m running!

Far too easily I forget that each and every run is a building block for my future. I wouldn’t be able to have ever crossed the finish line in any race in which I have run if I hadn’t put in the hours of training, eating healthily, stretching, sleeping, and doing everything else that is needed to be a successful runner. Training for a race of any distance isn’t like cramming for a test—one can’t train intensely for a short period of time and expect that to compensate for a lack of a sustained, long-term training schedule.

The Cleveland Marathon is over 90 days away. That’s a long time!

My weaker self—the self that formerly laughed at the running accomplishments of others as I sat on the couch in poor health—tells me, “You can already run over half of the 13.1 miles and you’re far ahead of where Hal Higdon wants you to be at the start of his half marathon training schedule. Chill out and take it easy. And by the way, live a little. Take advantage of all of those fast food restaurants out there by Tri-C. A few stops at Arby’s won’t kill you. Sheila won’t ever find out.”

My stronger self—the self who reminds me that anything is possible with faith and trust in God, hard work, and discipline—tells me, “This time is a gift. Use it to build up a strong base and to continue to work towards a healthy weight. Great things lie ahead for you in 2013 and beyond. You’re not just preparing for the half marathon. You’re getting ready for a great lifetime of running. Running those 13.1 miles in May is going to be a great accomplishment, but you’re going to do much more than that before the year is over.”

Although doing so can be hard, I’m going to listen to my stronger self. Ever since I started listening to my stronger self on New Year’s Day in 2012 when I made the decision to start losing weight, my life has been filled with victory and triumph. Doing so hasn’t always been easy, but I know it’s worth it. On the days when you’re tempted to run to the couch, television, and refrigerator instead of the gym and the sidewalks, I urge you listen to your stronger self too! When we stride proudly across the finish line on May 19, we will be glad that we did.

Last year, we made a last-minute decision not to go on our church’s young adult group’s weekend ski retreat because Sheila was feeling ill.

Because most of our friends were on the retreat, we decided to rent a movie, and I headed out to Redbox to get The Hangover 2.

As I headed out, I realized that we had absolutely no plans all weekend and that we wouldn’t be going anywhere (except for my stepmom’s birthday party) because Sheila was sick. I also remembered that Sheila had always wanted to watch all three Lord of the Rings movies in three days.

I had seen all three of the movies in the theater, but I didn’t understand them at all and I thought they were far too long. However, I figured that this weekend presented a great opportunity to watch them all in a row, so I bit the bullet and asked Sheila if she wanted to do so.

She agreed, and we spent a great weekend enjoying all three movies. Although I didn’t understand some of the plotlines, I understood more than I did in the past, and I began to see what people appreciated about the films and stories.

We watched them all again over the summer. This time, I understood them all, and I fell in love with them!

Since then, these movies have impacted our lives in profound ways. The themes of perseverance and hope throughout the movies played a large role in helping Sheila through the tough process of establishing Scranton Road Legal Clinic. Sheila had a Hobbit-themed birthday party too, which was a lot of fun!

Aragorn and Arwen at Sheila’s Hobbit-Themed Birthday Party!

We also had a big party before we went to see The Hobbit on opening night in December. Of course, we went in costume, and someone at the theater even asked to take our picture!

The Frolicking Fells and our dear friend Stephanie before we watched the best movie of 2012!

As previously mentioned, she started a blog called Middle Earth Meals that combines her love of cooking with her love of Middle-Earth.

For me, the themes of fighting tough battles against all odds have affected me deeply as I’ve progressed through my running endeavors. I identify closely with Frodo from Lord of the Rings and Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit–two men from whom little was expected but who turned out to accomplish tasks that they have never thought possible. Additionally, I end races with Minas Tirith (from Return of the King), and I can’t wait to blast that as I’m running proudly through the streets of my own beautiful “White City” this May as I complete the half marathon.

Although we deeply love our church family, we decided to sit out this year’s ski retreat because we both need a break and because I personally don’t want to risk a skiing-related injury that could jeopardize my ability to run. We also decided that our relative lack of plans for the weekend (except for my brother’s 18th birthday party!) also meant that we had a weekend tailor-made for another viewing of three of the best movies ever made. My mom blessed us with a Blu-Ray player and the Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring for Christmas, and we found the other two movies deeply discounted at Target last weekend.

One of Sheila’s Middle-Earth recipes is bubbling in the oven and it’s time to start The Fellowship of the Ring. I can’t wait to see how these movies inspire me as I ramp up training for the half marathon!