Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Matty's Race Report-Knoxville, TN!!

My wife has been asking for several months for me to start writing blog posts for her site.  There are a lot of topics that I’ll hopefully get to write about at some point – what I’ve learned and experienced about faith in God, leadership, and family life to name a few.  For now though, Christy wanted me to write a race report for a recent half ironman I completed in Knoxville, TN (Rev3 Knoxville).  Some free advice for you men out there – do whatever your wife tells you to do and life will be great.  So, here goes my first guest blog post on her site and first race report – hope you enjoy!

Pre Race

 We arrived in TN on Friday night and checked in to our hotel.  On Saturday, covered the expo, light workout bike/run, checked out the transition area, etc…standard pre-race prep work.  It was humid and temps into the 80s – not ideal but good prep for the hotter summer races.  One interesting thing was that the water on the run course was going to be delivered in sealed 8oz bags…possibly a more eco-friendly approach?  All I know is that no one practicing opening these bags on Saturday did it without soaking themselves, and the water tasted pretty bad (like plastic, weird huh).  Didn’t seem like the best decision to me.  We went to drive the bike course after dinner - after leaving town, we must’ve made a wrong turn and ended up in the ALPS!  I am talking climb after climb, it was almost comical.  The course begins near a river so I am not sure how they couldn’t find a flatter bike course; but, it was a good test if nothing else.  Christy was literally laughing at how hilly it was and was almost relieved to not be racing (had to have emergency dental surgery the week before – doing great now thank God!).  I had that hilly ride and a steamy half marathon to look forward to afterwards the next morning.

Race Day

 Awoke early and fueled up, then got rolling to the race.  The transition area was in the bottom floor of a covered parking garage, which was awesome for two reasons.  First, everything was protected from possible rain/etc, and second, we parked like 100 yards from my bike.  Quickly got things set up and started the walk to the swim start.


 First lesson learned (again, unfortunately) – make sure you account for proper time to get in the water and warm up.  By the time I was ready to roll and wetsuit zipped up, I had probably <2 minutes until I had to get in the water.  Not the best swim warmup when you get the 30 second warning as you are jumping off the dock and into the chilly river. 

Swim was a “J” where 1/3 was upstream and 2/3 downstream, with very little current.  Water temp was cold but not uncomfortable, in the high 60s.  I am a middle of pack swimmer in most bigger races; got out at my average pace and swam in a somewhat straight line to the turn, and through to the end.  Not thrilled with my time but that is a function of lack of consistency through the previous few weeks of training and the resulting lack of fitness for the swim, and that I didn’t push particularly hard but focused on trying to be efficient in this leg of the race.  And I am not the fastest swimmer out there.  Oh well, pulled myself out of the water and began the couple hundred meter jog to the transition. 

 SWIM GRADE: (am I supposed to grade myself in these reports?)  B-

Transition and Bike

Rolled through T1 and onto the bike and got my feet into my shoes for a pretty quick transition.  Within a few miles was into climbing mode J.  I made it a point to try and push myself on the bike while trying to moderate HR.  In hindsight I probably overextended myself slightly on the first half of the course.  Wasn’t hammering up the hills, but was holding HR probably about 10bpm over where I should have been.  I have been riding quite a bit more this year though so again, wanted to test myself.  Made it a point to ease off slightly in the back half of the ride, to save some juice for the run.  Speaking of juice, I drank too much on the ride…lesson learned #2 for the race – make sure you do your nutrition homework to a high level of precision.  I drank between 4.5-5 bottles of 285cal Infinit on the ride when 4 would have been about right.  I should have known better based on experience, but now I will remember for next race.  It is important to pay attention to all the details to set yourself up for success.  Finished off the bike with some TIRED legs due to the challenging, hilly course, and a knotted up stomach.  Christy yelled “how was the bike” and I replied “I guess we will see soon”; still had the sense of humor anyway!  Got out of my shoes before dismount and flew through T2.  I think I passed three people in transition that got in just before me, which is always nice…free speed!





 Running off the bike is a strange sensation if you have never done it before.  You need to manage your pace and turnover on your “tired” legs or you will go way too fast out of the gate.  Well, within the first 10 steps of the run I knew it was gonna be rough run…I wasn’t running on “tired” legs, I was running on TIRED legs...not a whole lot extra to give.  And, I was running on a full/upset stomach, which is about as fun as it sounds.  Clipped off the first 3 miles at ~7:00/mi pace, close to where I wanted to be, and from that point had to take what my legs/body would give me.  Pace slowed ~45sec/mi depending on the terrain (some long rollers during the middle 6mi of the run) and focused on staying relaxed and regulating body temperature.  The one good thing about those plastic water bags is that I grabbed 2-3 at every aid station and doused my head, top, and arms.  The arm coolers I was wearing stayed wet and helped to keep me cool – whether placebo or not, I was getting a benefit.  Finally was able to take in some fluid ~11mi into the run, though at that point I probably didn’t even need it.  I started to run out of steam at mile 12 and was unfortunately passed by a couple people over the last 2 miles as I slowed a little, but really I was pretty happy that I kept a fairly steady pace for the last 10mi given the heat, my unhappy legs, and the stomach situation.  Coming up to the finishing chute is always exhilarating and finished off the run in 1:41ish for an overall time of 5:02+, good for 27th place. 



I came out of the race pretty happy with my fitness for early May.  I had a few clear areas to work on and since then, training has gone really well.  Both Christy and I are pumped for our races this summer so look to hear more about them in the coming weeks! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Matt's big day!

Happy 31st Birthday Matty!!

Matt’s turning 31 on Saturday May 19th! I always tell him that I like to celebrate him every day, not just the day of his birth, he just laughs. Sooo in lieu of his big day I wanted to share a few things about why I love this man!

                      31 things you should know about my AWESOME hubby:

1.      AMAZING heart for God and unconditional love for me!!!

2.      Left handed

3.      Comes across quiet and laid back, until you get to know himJ

4.      Brainiac, nerd…enough said there!

5.      Attended Carnegie Mellon University for undergrad and grad school, was named among the top 20 soccer players in CMU’s history, and was the assistant men’s soccer coach!

6.      Can whip up a mean spicy chili (layers of goodness), chocolate chip waffles, breakfast sandwich and yummy chicken tetrazzini!

7.      Tells it like it is; only black and white here folks.

8.      Is both a night and morning person.

9.      Extremely dislikes making the bed, but willing does so on many occasionsJ

10.  Two favorite beverages: 2% milk and Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, aaaaand maybe some Mt. Dew Supernova!

11.  Favorite food is PIZZA and peanut butter English muffins!

12.  Hates surprises.

13.   Thinks watching movies in theater’s is a waste of time.

14.   Played ice hockey, soccer, and hurdled (track) in high school at Pine Richland and has won every award known.

15.   Biggest pet-peeves: any loud chewing/eating sounds, lazy/unmotivated people.

16.   The last person to leave work every day, overachiever!

17.   Knows the exact miles on each pair of shoes he owns, which is A LOT.

18.   Biggest chip monster EVER-it’s got to be Tostitos’ with cheese dip! He will even eat chips in soups, as a side dish, mashed up with meat, you name it!

19.   Carnegie Mellon runs in the family: Matt’s only brother, both my brother and sister AND dad are alumni!

20.   Allergic to cats

21.   Not a fan of coffee at all, even hates the smell….CRAZZY!

22.   Director of Marketing Analytics at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

23.   Likes to use his white t-shirts as napkins and to blow his nose, gross!

24.   Built his own bike (Quintana Roo) and taught himself to swim!

25.   Writes the best notes, words of encouragement, and cards, EVER.

26.   Prays God’s word over me and encourages me to seek God daily.

27.   Some favorite movies/shows: Shawshank Redemption, Batman series, The Office, The Godfather, Indiana Jones, 24, Braveheart, Gladiator, Tour de France, Modern Family.

28.   LOVES kids!!!! Sooo excited, he’s going to make the BEST dad!

29.   Extremely detail-oriented and driven in every area.

30.   Sept. 2008-Pgh Great Race: the day Matt found me and the rest is history.

31.   The most selfless, humble, giving, hardworking, encouraging, supportive, honest, loveable, genuine, Godly (and the list goes on) man I know.

There is no truer and greater gift than God’s gift of salvation and HIS gift of bringing Matt into my life. I shine because of him. I absolutely love my life and going this journey together. Matt brings out the best in me and every day I fall more and more in love with him. Here’s to another year full of memories and growing closer together!

I love my better half!

Happy Happy Birthday Matty!

Saturday, May 12, 2012



8 years. Can’t believe that it’s been this long since my Mom has passed away. Her time on earth was all too short but her impact on my life remains unmatched. I often wonder to myself if she could look at my life, what would she tell me? Would she be proud of the woman I’ve become?  Would she recognize the path I’ve traveled and the vision I have to be the same path and vision I had when she was here with me? Would she see the fruit of the investment she willingly and lovingly made in my life?  Would she see the result of the teaching, training, love, and prayer she made on my behalf?  What would she notice about the woman I’ve become?  
My mother was an extremely passionate person. She taught me to be passionate about God, family, and passionate about using what God gave us in the form of talent and ability to make a difference in the lives of others for the sake of the kingdom. I learned so much from her about passion! Passion is what fueled her vision. She was passionate about things that fit her vision and what she was called to do with her life. My Mom was passionate about things that would make a difference in the lives of others and not just things that produced pleasure with no eternal significance.  She taught me that I must have Godly passion in my life and find a way to continue to ignite that passion to fuel my vision!  I still think about this all the time.
My mother was a selfless leader. My Mom gave up a career to be a stay at home Mom and wife. My Mom could be found cheering on the sidelines at many soccer games, cross country and track meets; she taught vacation Bible school at church; volunteered as PTA Mom and served on many different committees; volunteered as a youth leader for junior and senior high students, hosted high school Bible studies, women’s small groups and home groups at our house; she volunteered at our youth swim team as a timer; she taught MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), spoke in dozens of high schools on abstinence, sex and dating; she volunteered at the Wexford Crisis Pregnancy Center; she worked two part time jobs! My Mom was ALWAYS present, in my life, and working in the lives of and for so many others. She truly made impacting the lives of others a full time job.  My Mom didn’t have any extraordinary talents; she was a woman of great passion, vision and a willingness to let God use her in everyday life!
My Mom taught me so much about sacrifice as well. She was by no means flashy or showy. My Mom was a jeans, sweatshirt and t-shirt kind of Mom! I love this story that my dad always shares with me, my brother and sister: “Her first job after college was at the Rankin Christian Center in Rankin/Braddock where she drove a huge bomber of a car - a tan 1968 Chevy Impala that was stolen twice!  Her office was a closet with no windows in a rundown building that had been a church at one time.  Her job was to create after school tutoring and child care programs for street gang kids where the word ‘home’ didn’t mean much.  I remember the first time I went with her to deliver turkeys and canned goods to the families who were in desperate need in Rankin at Thanksgiving.  While I was pretty nervous to be in such gang infested neighborhoods, Mom cheerfully and fearlessly walked right into some of the most run down houses I’ve ever been in and with that huge smile, delivered turkeys and canned goods and hugs.  Oh, how the families cried when they saw us coming into their houses with the food.  The kids loved her as they grabbed her and squeezed her so hard out of sheer gut wrenching gratitude and embarrassment for the desperate conditions they were living in. She gave them hope and helped them believe that with God’s help, better times were just around the bend.” Sacrificing herself and serving others was Mom at her best.
My Mom led a life of unwavering faith and courage.  I watched first hand at what it was to walk thru the most difficult situation: cancer. She NEVER worried, fell apart, nor was she ever angry at God. In fact, she journaled everyday about the healing power of God at work in her body. She sang praises in the midst of the most life threatening disease, never once wavering, standing on God’s promises.  She kept her faith in God and stood her ground unafraid. That takes HUGE courage! That is real faith.
Now my Mom is rejoicing with the Lord in Heaven, that is a huge reward! I cannot wait to see her again. I miss her more than words than describe. There are days when all I want to do is hug her, talk to her, spend wee hours of the night hanging out watching movies and eating junk food! I miss our runs together and shopping trips and doing the fun mother-daughter things. OH I know it will be so hard not to have her around when the kids start to come. BUT you know what, God has used this loss to call me to a higher level, a deeper walk with HIM. I want to live my life in a way that honors Mom and glorifies God.  So I honor my Mom today by continuing to passionately pursue God with my whole heart. I can still hear her say to me today, “Christy, you’re a world changer! It’s in you!”
Love and miss you Mom more than you know!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom's out there! 

Here is a short video on the legacy of my mom that our church put together. Check it out!