Thursday, December 25, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

Finally-A Thanksgiving Report!

Wow, it has been a long time since my last post! Over the holidays, we had Mike, Merri Lynn, Kathleen and Paul in town for T-day. We all had a great time! This photo was taken at the Cincinnati Zoo on a beautiful, crisp fall day. Paul slept through the entire event, but the girls had a great time checking out all the cool animals. As usual, we headed over to Wyoming, OH for a Cordes dinner that couldn't be beat. Friday took us to the Boathouse for a great Rib dinner, then on Saturday, we headed over to Grandma's house for even more food. Ack!
Mom and Dad have a new addition to the family! About a month ago, after Foggy's passing, the parents decised to get a DOG!!! Worried at first, I am happy to say that they have really stepped up and have done a great job with their new family member, Real...the Springer Spaniel. He's extremely friendly and very cute! He has been going through rigorous training and is quite the charmer. We are looking forward to taking care of him while Mom and Dad are in Texas over the Christmas holidays.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Halloween Fun - The Joker, Batman, Mario & Luigi

When you mix the weekend, great weather, and terrific costumes together, you can't help but have an awesome Halloween.

Greta(Joker) and neighbor Frankie (Batman) along with Hanley (Luigi) and friend Sophia (Mario) are showing off their costumes. Trick or Treat started at 6:00pm and went till 8. When all was said and done, we ended up with about 30 pounds of candy and two worn out tooth brushes!

Training -wise, I am finally recovering after my 50k held on the 19th of October. I was really tired up until the last week and have been able to get in some good 6 milers this week with just a little IT band pain. I am going to go easy for another week and then start to ramp it up. One thing I would like to do is incorporate more speed-work and hill training to build some much needed strength in these areas...if I can remain injury-free, that is!!

TTFN

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stone Steps...DONE DEAL!!

Everything started out just great this morning. With about 67 runners participating, the race started promptly at 8:00 am, temperature in the mid 40s. Throughout the event, it rose to about 65 and the sun was out the entire time.

The course was beautiful and I felt I had prepared fairly well for the event, though as mentioned in previous posts, I was a bit concerned about IT band and hamstring issues. Everything seemed to be working fine until about mile 23, just as I was beginning the final two loops, a 3.5 miler and the final 5.3 miler. I was very sluggish going into the smaller loop and found myself walking more than running. I was also running alone, which is usually not good for me. Fortunately, someone caught ups to me and gave me some encouraging words. I managed to work my way to the check point and prepped myself to head out one last time for the final 5.3 miles. I downed some PB&J sandwiches and a GU and started out.

About 1 mile later (27), I bonked...everything hurt. My toes, IT and hamstring started to really ache. I fell into a brisk walk to try and recover, but with every descent, my toes screamed, "stop!" I kept catching roots with my shoes, further intensifying the pain. The constant barrage of stones and roots on the trail also caused extreme discomfort as it forced me to shift my footing constantly. Mile 28...3 more to go. I pushed on at a steady gait. My goal was 6:30, and I was 5:50 hours into it.

Still alone, I walked for the next mile or so and reached the fourth and final ascent of the stone steps. This felt pretty good as it helped to stretch everything out a little bit and I was able to run on a smooth part of the trail for about half a mile. I was getting so close, but the pain resurfaced and forced me to walk again for the next 1.5 miles or so. 6:15 and still another 1.75 mils to go with another steep descent and nasty climb before the finish. At 6:35, I reached the 30.5 mile mark and knew it was going to be OK. Thank god for a small group of runners coming up behind me. This boosted my adrenaline just enough to scramble to the finish with the family waiting.

Sophie, thanks for the encouragement. I met a guy there with a VHTRC shirt on! I think his name was Bill Lohse (?).

Ouch, I hurt, but I did it! 6:42 hours later I have completed my first ultra! Unfortunately no photos, but plenty of memories. It's going to be a sore morning!

TTFN

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stone Steps Training Update

I have been icing/stretching/resting a lot (maybe too much - only about 8 miles this week) and taking my ibuprophen regularly, so I'm hoping come Sunday, things will fall into place. I'm just going to go out slow and hang on for 31 miles. But if things start to tighten up too much, I have no problem with calling it quits.
Weather is going to be sunny and cool in the morning (low 40's) with a high of about 65. I'm hoping for some fog...that would be cool to run through! I'll have photos and a race update next week!
TTFN

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stone Steps...this Sunday


Aaaaagh...I have just sent in my registration. I am hoping that I have trained enough, despite the sore left leg issues. The course shown at left (click to enlarge), is a series of loops: 4 large loops (5.3 miles) and three small loops (about 3.5 miles). The weather is supposed to be great...cool in the AM and warming up to the 70s by noon.
I have been trying to follow Sophie's fueling, stretching and icing advice for the past week, but I'm still sore. I am hoping the adrenaline and other runners will smooth things out and make for a great adventure in downtown Cincinnati!
TTFN

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

StoneSteps 50K Training Update


Given that Mt. Airy Forest in right next door to downtown Cincinnati, it is a beautiful park and a surprisingly great place for an ultra-marathon...the Stone Steps 50K. I went for a long training run on Saturday, about 16 miles, and the trails are totally clear of debris from Hurricane Ike. Unfortunately, my hamstring and IT issues have resurfaced. I am stretching like crazy and hoping that plenty of rest and rehab will make the Stone Steps a reality. With just under 2 weeks to go, I am going to wait until race day to register. So for now, I'm going one day at a time. This afternoon, I struggled through about 1.5 miles with discomfort.
Frustrating indeed.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Speidel Reunion

It's a rare opportunity when the Speidel brothers get together. This weekend, we had that opportunity, though bitter sweet. It was my Uncle Dick's memorial service. Yet, despite the sad circumstances, it was great to get everyone together to share stories, photos and laughter.

We had a great collection of Speidel family including Scott, Kathy, Conner and Nancy, RaeAnn and Reeve, Liz, Erin and Kate, Champe and Lisa, Russ and Walter, Whitney, Uncle Jack and Nancy, and Rusty and Sophie.

Anyway, the plan is to get together again under more positive circumstances...
Let's do it!

TTFN

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How's My Training Going?

Well, I'll tell you...
I have had a few good weekends, putting in a 14 and 12 miler in over the previous two weeks. But I have a nagging pain that just doesn't seem to get better. It's right at the top of my femur...a sharp pain that kind of wraps around my butt! After about 10 miles, my legs start to go almost numb and I just shut down and start walking. Sciatic nerve, perhaps? This has put a major cramp in my training for the Stone Steps 50K. My hope was to do a 17-20 miler today, but soreness and heat pretty much screwed that up; I managed 7 miles; and with the race in mid October, I may have missed my window for getting in a quality long run before the taper.
Speaking of Stone Steps, turns out Hurricane Ike, which paid us a visit last Sunday, really tore up the course. According to one runner who checked it out, the trail is littered with fallen trees and limbs. I guess it is up to the Cincinnati Park Board to take care of this.
Anyway, I will push on and probably still give it a go. I always seem to find added stamina when I'm running with others.

See you next time!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lost Yet Another Friend...and Uncle

These "Lost Another Friend" posts are getting old and I don't like them. But, unfortunately I regret to say that my Uncle Dick passed away this morning around 7:00am from complications from cancer. He had been fighting this awful disease for quite a while and it finally got the best of him while vacationing in Cedarville, MI.

Surrounded by son, daughter and friends, he passed peacefully in his beloved vacation home on LaSalle in the Les Cheneaux islands. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.

Ironically, this photo was taken at the memorial gathering for his wife Liz, who also passed away from cancer. But finally, they are together once again, enjoying peace and love in heaven.

It's not fair, and while I dread these posts, but I don't want to forget the people that have touched my life.

TTFN

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Group Training Run-SS50K

Hi all,
Went on a nice training run at Mt. Airy forest this morning with a great group of Ultra-Runners. The pace was slow and steady and I heard some great stories from some ultra veterans. Everything went well until my shoe "broke" as I pulled the laces tight. The piece of plastic that tightened the shoe around my ankles snapped off, so I felt a little wobbly during the run. I got in about 3 hours(12 miles) of running before things started to get painful. The shoe in question: Montrail Hurricane Ridge. I had read some reviews about this shoe and found that this flaw has happened to others. To be honest, this broken piece rendered the shoe useless! Ouch!
Anyway, things are on track for the SS50K in mid October.
More to come...
A

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Foggy Update

Well, thing are not looking as good as we had hoped for Foggy...she is again missing as of Wednesday night. Last time we saw her she was laying in the flower bed, but looking very skinny, weak and dehydrated. I brought her inside, put her on her bed and assumed that I would be back in the morning to bury her. Next morning (Wednesday) she was gone, and I mean not in her bed!

Visions of "Pet Cemetery" entered my brain as I searched the house, expecting Foggy to creep up from the basement with sunken eyes and a low, eerie meow. I looked all over the house...nothing. I noticed that I had forgotten to close the back screen door. My hope is that she found a safe place to lie down and pass on, again.

Eeek.


TTFN

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Found a Friend!!!

Foggy has been found! I still can't believe it, but we got word this morning that a dark brown calico cat had been found in the neighborhood. Just two doors down from my parents place, Foggy wandered into their back yard. Assuming she was lost and in poor health, they took her in, went to the vet and got her checked out. Turns out, she is in good health, but has a hyper-active thyroid. So...with proper medication and plenty of food, she should be fine. Who knew?
Welcome back, Foggy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lost Another Friend - Foggy the Cat

For 2 months I have been taking care of my parent's cat, Foggy, a very frail (20+ years old) calico. Well, for the past few days I have not seen her anywhere - not in the house - not outside. Last time I saw her she looked really tired and very "old." My fear is she has wandered off to put herself to rest. I have searched the entire house in hope of finding her sleeping in some remote corner, but no luck. I talked to a few cat people and both have assured me that cats do have a sense when their time is near and tend to find a safe, quiet spot to go...though I am still keeping an eye out just in case. Anyway, we miss her and glad she had a great life.
TTFN

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Newtown 5K

Finally...after all my years living in Anderson Township, I ran the Newtown 5K. What the hell took so long? I have no idea. But this morning was a beautiful day and I woke up inspired. And with little time to spare, I threw on my running gear, grabbed a $20 from the petty cash jar and high-tailed it down the street to register, and I am so glad I did.

My race report: Fast course. After registering, I had about 30 minutes to warm up among the 600+ other participants. Walking around the starting area, I started to feel really old, as I realized most of the participants were middle and high-school cross-country runners putting in some needed speed work for the up-coming season. I was fine with that..
.
I felt pretty good gearing up for the start. After the gun, we made our way. Less than 7 minutes later, I heard the 1 mile volunteer blurt out, "6:50."
Now, I usually don't take off this fast, but this was great. "Was that the FIRST mile?" I asked the old man running next to me.

OK, so the first mile is basically down hill, but it was great inspiration to keep it going strong. I finished just a tad over 22 minutes and was very pleased with the results...8min/mile is my usual standard!

Ok then...TTFN

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Ultra Wannabes-Visit Mt. Airy Forest

I admire ultrarunners. The stories I read always involve high levels of comraderie, cool equipment, intense situations, and an awesome post-race social atmosphere. In my running career, I have run 5 marathons, 3 halfs and numerous 5 and 10 k's, yet I have never taken on the challenge of an ultra.

Reason? I believe it's partly due to geography. Trail running in my part of the world did not blossom until recently, and those who had an interest had to travel to another zip code to experience a great trail. Eventually, Cincinnati runners discovered local parks that could provide a decent trail running experience, Mt Airy Forest and East Fork Lake are two good examples.

Over the last few weekends, I have made the 30 minute commute to Mt. Airy for some nice 10 mile trail runs and have really enjoyed the adventure of cruising along the single-track route, dodging root and rock, trying not to sheer an ankle or take a tumble. The experience is serene, quiet and tough! The goal: The Stone Steps 50K in October.

The race is several loops through the rolling park trails, with one major climb per loop up a huge and steep hill of stone steps. It is not pretty! But...it is a nice view once you reach the top.
Anyway, if all goes well over the next few months, I will take the plunge and give the Stone Steps a try. Wish me luck, because I know if I complete one of these things, I'll be itching for another.
TTFN

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Michigan is Dog Country!


Summer vacation was a little touch and go for me this year as I spent the first few days horizontal with a sinus infection; but it eventually passed. Courage was finally able to make his first trip to the UP. He had a great time playing in the water and just hanging out. He's getting on in years, so he moved kind of slow, but none-the-less, we were glad he joined us. This photo shows Maura and Courage at a beach east of Cedarville towards DeTour. The water was a balmy 60+ degrees. OUCH! 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ouch! My IT Band hurts!


I'm stretching and taking Ibuprofin...but I know it's going to take some time to get this back to normal. Rats!
I've been doing some easy runs, but after about three miles, it tends to flare back up. It's a frustrating process but it will get better.
That's where I am now...
TTFN
A

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lost Another Friend

I got to know Matt Schaefer when I started dating Maura. He was her next-door neighbor. When I was browsing through the photos posted on his Caring Bridge site, I came across this one and immediately recognized the hair as the classic Matt look. That is how I remember him best, and will continue to remember him. Wonderful guy...

Matt passed away, peacefully with family at his side, on Tuesday evening (yesterday) from cancer.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fun Memorial Day!

It's a rare treat when the VA Speidels visit us in Cincinnati. We took total advantage of their presence this Memorial Day weekend when we headed down to Coney Island t take in a few rides. Here are the three cousins ready to roll! We spent a few hours takin in the rides and eating some fine food...the Montgomery Inn Combo meal was a big hit...NOT! Poor Rusty had some issues with one of the rides, but we all survived, puke-free!
Looking forward to another get-together soon!
TTFN,
Andy

Monday, May 19, 2008

My First Official Trail Race!

The shoes say it all! Well, it wasn't an ultra, but I went on my first trail race on Sunday, and I have to admit, that was the most invigorating run I have been on in quite some time. T-Shirt courtesy of my bro and sis-in-law.
The race was a short 5.5 miler through the beautiful and rugged trails of Mt. Airy forest on the west side of Cincinnati. What I really enjoyed was the focus I had to maintain throughout the run. It kept my mind off the distance and time, and more on the technical aspects, such as the roots and rocks. And that was good, since I spent the previous night at a graduation pary for my friends daughter. Too much "carbo loading," if you know what I mean.
I felt totally in the element, and that was a great feeling. This race was part of a trail run series put on by our local running store, Ronckers Running Spot.
The trail was mostly single-track, which made it difficult to pass others, so time-wise, I had to maintain an 8:50 pace or so. The winner completed in just over 6:00/mile! Egad!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another Successful Semester!

YES! Another great semester at NKU. I was hoping for at least a B, but LOOK at this!! WOO HOO! It's party-time!

Ok, I'm done.
Bye

Friday, May 09, 2008

We have a house-guest!


Penny (left), our very friendly neighborhood lab is staying with us for a few weeks while her parents are in Spain. Not only is she as sweet as she looks, but Courage has taken a liking to her! After an initial scuffle, Courage established his role as the dominant alpha, and the rest just fell into place. During the day while we are at work and school, the two remain in the house, and so far, no major accidents.
We'll miss her when she has to leave!
Until next time....

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Flying Pig - DONE DEAL!!



Well, 4 hours and 20minutes later, with several blisters in "toe", I have ended the day with another Flying Pig under my belt. It's been 9 years since I last ran a marathon, and I totally forgot how painful they can be, but all-in-all, it was a great experience.
Last night, I was dreadfully nervous. After an anxious night at my brother-in-laws for dinner, I had an equally nervous night's sleep, if that's what one would call it. Maura and I woke at 4:30 this morning to begin our adventure. She was walking the half and I had opted into the full marathon. The crowd was huge...11,000+ runners and walkers graced the starting line. At 6:45, the race was on.
The course winds through northern Kentucky and re-enters Cincinnati to begin a long, steep climb, reaching the top at around mile 9. The half marathoners take a left and head home, while the full marathoners begin their journey by heading right and through Hyde Park, Mariemont, and back downtown. I was feeling good and running comfortably, but in the back of my mind, I kept remembering that my training leading up to this point had not been optimal. With 17 miles to go, there were doubts that I would finish this thing.
Thank god for the crowds! They managed to pull me through some tough areas. Miles 23-26 are on a relatively flat, unpopulated area, and with full sun and rising temperatures, my feet were blistered and very sore. I had to walk several times during this leg, but once we reached the downtown area, I was able to "sprint" to the finish.
Photos to come, but overall, it was a great marathon!

Photo is courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Some Wacky Runner Observations

As I prep for the pig, there have been some funny things that I have noticed about my habits that I am sure many others have experienced:
1. Tops of Gel packets are littered about my house and car
2. The smell of sweaty running clothes doesn't bother me as much.
3. If my water bottle doesn't have a colored fluid in it, something isn't right.
4. Socks have taken on a new importance in my daily routine.
5. If I forget to wear my running watch, it's a bad day.
6. Polyester has become a favorite fabric...ouch!
7. I know what NUUN is!
8. I find myself stretching all the time.
9. Searching for running videos on YouTube has become a habit.

There are more, I'm sure! Add yours!
Andy

Thursday, May 01, 2008

THREE DAYS TILL PIGGY

Egad...am I ready? I don't believe I put in enough miles on the road to kick butt, but hopefully enough to squeeze through with a respectable time. I went for a short run yesterday, and was all achy, so I hope that is not a predictor of things to come.Weather is looking great, however!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring is in the Air!

Alas, after many years of no blooms, the pink dogwood has managed to produce. This tree is 1 of 3 that managed to survive. The white one just to the left of this is just about ready to explode with blossoms. Photo to follow!
And speaking of pink, I think I am ready for the Flying Pig Marathon next weekend. I failed my sister-in-law, Sophie's advice to get in another 20 miler, but I did manage 13 last week. With the crowds and other runners as motivation, I am hoping for a decent race. The 13 miler was not without pain, however. My feet were pretty sore following that run. I picked up some new Asics road shoes yesterday, and that is going to help!
If all goes well on May 4, then perhaps the Highlands Sky ultra in early June will be my first! Later!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The GA 5K

Hanley, Abby( Hanley's buddy) and I had a thrilling time at the Guardian Angels School first 5k race. The weather was cool and windy, but despite that, the girls came in under 29 minutes and I rallied at the end for a 22:05. The girls were clearly tired afterwards...may have been due to the previous night's sleepover, but it was great to introduce the girls to an organized running event. Schweet!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Flying Pig is near...

I've paid my money...now I have to perform. Ack! I went for a 17 miler today, with the intention of doing a 20 miler. My mind said 20 but there were two appendages that said, "no way!" at 17. In spite of the missing three miles, I feel confident that I'll be able to work through the 26.2 without too much discomfort. I am now beginning the tapering process and am looking forward to a good race; I would love to come in under 4 hours.
Maura is also participating in this year's event. She will be walking the half-marathon, with her friend Mei Mei, for the first time.
Pigs fly!!
Ta ta!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Training Blahs–yuch!


Ever have one of those training runs where nothing is in synch? Well, today was one of those days. We had beautiful weather today, high of about 60, full of sunshine. So why not go for a nice trail run? So I did. I made my way to Withrow Nature Preserve, a nice 1.8 mile loop through field and forest, but unfortunately, the cards were not in my favor. I started out OK, but less than a mile into a planned 8 miler, my lunch decided to pay me another visit. 8 miles turned into a mere 3. OUCH! Anyway, with tired legs and a bloated belly, I chalked it up as one of those days where nothing was working for me. Diet? Not enough rest? I don't know for sure, but I am hoping for better training tomorrow.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Running with ECHO

The ECHO Running Club is a nice group of folks who really show a passion for the sport, and today I was glad to be part of this morning's Catch Me run at Lunken Playfield. The concept was simple: Have a staggered start based on one's anticipated finish time. Slower runner start first, fast follow, so at the end, we all finish at the same time. The photos show the group at the finish and as they wander back to their cars amid the eerie fog. Thanks to Doug Maxwell for organizing this event!


Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring is (NOT) Here!

Update from the Speidels...this last weekend, we experienced the largest storm in 10 years, and it came in the form of many inches of snow. Just when we thought the winter was behind us, 10+ inches of white stuff came hammering down on us. It started on Friday night and kept on coming through Saturday. And while it stalled the roads for a bit, the dogs, including our house guest, Auggie, had a great time. Warm weather is predicted for next week and I will finally be able to get in a long training run (15 miles) in preparation for the Flying Pig the first week of May.



Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Training for the Pig

Training for the Flying Pig Marathon always gets difficult this time of year due to the cold, snowy weather; motivation is hard to come by these days. But, I have started to work more long runs into my training schedule and am feeling strong and relatively pain-free. With just over 2-months to go, I am on track for a good race, and while I would love to incorporate more trail runs into the routine, it's been so muddy around here, the running is hazardous...don't want to risk some freak accident if I can help it.
Maura and her buddy, Mei Mei are planning to walk the half.
Anyway, we are looking forward to a great day!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Chess Legend Dies

Chess legend, Bobby Fischer, died at his home in Iceland today. He was 64. He turned out to be quite an ass later in life...giving up his US citizenship, moving to Iceland, becoming a recluse. I hope he passed surrounded with some friends or family.
Ok...so that's two icons from my past in just over a week. Oh, and Dan Fogelberg died a few weeks ago as well! Wassup!
But there's still Stephen King, Steve Jobs, CSN&Y, Sir David Attenborough, Garrison Keillor, and many other. I'm good...
Bye

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mt. Everest Legend

What can I say...he was "The Man" in mountain climbing circles. Sir Edmund Hillary passed away the other day from a heart attack, of all things. Click here for his video-obituary.
I'll always remember a book I read as a boy of about 12 years old called "On Top of the World," the story of his ascent with Tenzing Norgay. I must have read it 100 times. Anyway, it's a great loss to the adventurers of the world.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Dog of a Day

There are not many dogs on the planet that really tolerate this kind of stuff...but Courage is one of them. Snuggled in his bed, Courage welcomed Greeta to hang out and relax. I'm not sure if Greeta was really asleep, but it would have been easy to do so!
Courage...a great family dog indeed!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!


Well, it's a new year and all is well. I finally got my first pair of real trail-runing shoes and look forward to putting them to the test this year. If I can remain injury-free, my first big race will be the Flying Pig marathon in May. I am also looking at my first ultra (50K) in October. We will see how it goes.
The family is good, but it's back to school and work tomorrow...yuck!
Ciao!