Pigs CAN fly

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May 3rd: Today was a big day in Cincinnati–the annual running of the Flying Pig Marathon!

Jason is the world’s greatest running race enthusiast, either if he is “running” in his stroller in a race, or if he is cheering on others along the sidelines. In the past, he was a regular both at the Philadelphia Marathon and the Broad Street Run, the two biggest races in Philly. He’s been asking “when is the race?” every day for the last 2 months.

Today, we had an extra special treat. The Flying Pig raises money for charities who provide volunteers for the race. Jason’s hockey sled team mobilized a big group, and both Jason and Pete eagerly joined the group. We had to get there by 6:30!!!

IMG_1649 (1)Once we arrived, we hung out with some newly made friends and fellow volunteers on a most beautiful morning. We were in charge of keeping traffic away from the main route on a particular side street, which wasn’t too difficult. Before long, the leaders came by, followed soon by a huge number of runners.

Jason started going crazy and yelled and shouted to everyone going by, “Good Job!” “You can do it” “Almost have it!” This was usually followed by his hysterical belly laugh and a huge smile. Be sure to watch this great video of him here.

Once the “serious” runners went by, most of the runners and walkers started noticing Jason and calling out to him. Then Jason started putting his hand out, and chaos soon ensued. Runners would start to high five him, and once they did, everyone wanted some of his energy. This started causing some major traffic jams as runners would see a line forming and come across the street just to get some encouragement. Some even inadvertently cut off others just for a little love. It was great (and not the first time Jason has had this effect)! Here is a great, great video of some of Jason’s finest work.

Lots of folks were decked out in costumes, including a lot of pink (still not completely getting the Pig/Cincinnati thing). A few had full pig costume, even one with a cute curly pink tail in the back. Pete’s running pal Jill and her husband stopped for a picture on their way for a sub-4 hour time, way to go!

It’s always very inspiring to see so many people of all walks, backgrounds, and body types coming together to persevere over a very challenging goal. The collective time and effort in training and during the race is mind-bogglng, and to see so many looking good and smiling above their effort is quite uplifting. You can feel the positive energy flowing down the street.

Congratulations to everyone who ran the Pig, you are all rock stars!

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Jason’s 6/20 Car Rally for CP!

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Jason LOVES to sit at busy streets and say hello to cars. Wherever we’ve lived, Jason’s had a special place to sit, and he is quickly known as the “mayor” of his spot. People wave, honk, stop and chat, and even have been know to bring him presents!

A few weeks ago while sitting out, a special man named Jack stopped by. Jack rides with a local car club, and he offered to organize a special drive by of the club’s special cars, just for Jason. What an awesomely kind idea!

This is rapidly turning into a serious event. The club is looking for a charity, so they will be raising money just for Celebrating Perseverance. We expect a large number of special hot rods and old-time cars to participate. We have friends, neighbors, and family also involved to help turn this into a local event, and our town’s police department will be on hand. We also expect that Cincinnati Children’s Hospital will be on hand to help out.

Here are details of the car rally:

Date: Saturday, June 20th

Time: 2:00 PM

Place: Cornell Rd and Woodlands Way, Blue Ash OH

Information or to help out: celebratingperseverance@gmail.com

Please come by and check it out!

Building confidence

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Pete’s been busy building up his fitness for Superior 100. Here are a few recent workout highlights.

April 25th: This weekend was a big training milestone at East Fork State Park.

This was the first weekend where lots of different flowers, ground cover, andIMG_1623 leaves on trees really started to show, and it was gorgeous! There were flowers everywhere. It’s amazing how different the same landscape can look in the course of a few weeks–still lifeless and open in early April, and rich and enclosing to the point of solitude in late April.My schedule called for 5 1/2 hours on Saturday, and another 2:50 on Sunday.

The days are starting to get warmer, which also means dreaded higher humidity on days like today. Runners can compensate for heat, but not really for humidity, as IMG_1622they can’t cool down easily in humid weather. That means that core temperature rises, and eventually that means slowing down. It wasn’t too bad today, but I definitely struggled some towards the end. My legs are feeling good and strong, but it will take time to get my “heat and humidity” training up to speed.

Luckily, my recovery was great overnight, and my long run on Sunday with the neighborhood gang was a breeze. I even had enough energy to take Ryan and a friend hiking that afternoon at the Cincinnati Nature Center. This was a great mental boost, with only one more big training weekend before the big warmup challenge, the 70 miles of Laurel Highlands!

May 2nd: Back at Mt Airy Forest for an “easy” Saturday, which was about 12 hilly miles. Today, I finally ran all the way up the Stone Steps without stopping! I also ran the creek again, my new favorite route. A great outing with perfect weather.

May 9th: Once again, blessed with super weather, cool and low humidity. I started out early as part of a 3 hour outing, and encountered a beautiful painted turtle in the middle of the trail. Then, to my great surprise, I ran into a ginormous wild turkey. He was seriously big enough to feed a small village for Thanksgiving. What a delightful sight to see!

For the 2nd hour, I managed to finally meet up with new friends Pat, Dave, and organizer Steve of the Greater Cincinnati Trail Runners, who are a loose-knit bunch of ultra and trail enthusiasts in the area. They all turned out to be great company and ran about km100-kettlethe same pace as I did–except for youngster Dave, who I couldn’t keep up with but was nice enough to stop and wait for us old-timers at key junctions. I learned that Pat and Steve are taking on ultras in June as well as me, the challenging Kettle Moraine race in Wisconsin. Pat is attempting the 50K, while Steve is going for 100K (62 miles). I again managed Stone Steps, and also Gummy Bear x2, all without stopping or walking.

These were 3 great weekends, and I am feeling stronger and more confident about all of this!

 

Walking with Knox

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April 19th: Today, we had a chance to make some new friends who newly experienced the great Cincinnati Children’s Cerebral Palsy Program. Today, Jason and his brother Ryan headed to Winton Woods with Pete to join the Walk With Knox. Knox is a very cute, energetic, and wonderfully enthusiastic young boy who was very recently diagnosed with CP. His parents and family were very appreciative of the attentive doctors and staff they met, so they quickly organized a fundraiser to help support this program that has also been so helpful to our family.

Parents Kelly and Brett, along with their large and extended families, put on the IMG_1610Walk With Knox fundraiser for the CP Program at a local park, which was a 5K walk for everyone who wanted to participate. We got a chance to witness firsthand some of Knox’s great energy at the playground, where he showed everyone how to maneuver all the equipment–even showing Pete how to climb IMG_1613up the slide! His attitude was cheerfully infectious, even though the walk itself was pretty rainy.

The walk started off with a release of many green and white balloons into the sky. Kelly and Brett spent lots of time talking with Jason and sharing their experiences with us. Their whole family was very welcoming, and we enjoyed lots of food before and after the event. IMG_1615

Even though this was set up without a lot of organization, it raised more than $5,000 for the Program! It was really heartwarming to see such an outpouring of gratitude for a great cause. Thanks for including us, Knox!

Many more pictures can be found here.

Ohireland’s New Sport

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Pete’s been busy building up his fitness for Superior 100. In the next few days, we will post a few recent workout highlights.

April 11th: Today’s workout was again at Mt Airy Forest, for about 14 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes. This was really fun today, for a couple of reasons:

First, it was the first run where springtime was really evident, as it started breaking through the gray and brown grip of late winter. The skies were intensely blue, the temperatures were still cool and with low humidity, and I felt great coming off of a low mileage week. It was still awfully muddy in places, but the promise of warmth made it easy to splash through the puddles. Mt Airy is always tough, but its steep and IMG_1601sometimes rocky challenges always keep my mind sharp and refreshed. My battle with the massive hill that is the Stone Steps continued, and I made it closer to the top before having to stop momentarily for a breather–maybe next time I will conquer!

Second, while running towards the end IMG_1602in the Arboretum side of the park, I came across a truly inspiring sight–an entire valley of buttercups just emerging from their winter hibernation. It went on as far as the eye could see, tiny and fragile yellow flowers wrapped in a verdant, undulating green carpet. For some reason, it reminded me of the lush green plains of Ireland. So I doth name thee Ohireland.

And best of all, I got to invent a new sport! I’m worried about the rocky and technical terrain for both Laurel Highlands and especially the Superior 100. There are rocks and roots in place on the Ohio trails, especially at Mt. Airy, but it’s not the same as I expect to encounter in my target races. Nor is it similar to my old training grounds in Pennsylvania, a state that is basically a big rock pile covered by a thin veneer of soil.

So lately I started eying some of the creek beds close to our house. I noticed that many of these are broad and flat with not much water in them. They also often have big and flat stones. I tried walking a few of them nearby our house to see if they were stable and easy to maneuver in, and they seemed to be so perfect that they were almost like walking paths.

Today, I tried out my idea. Where one of the trails dipped into a ravine with an inviting creek, I turned into the creek and tried to run down the creek bed. To my joy, it was pretty easy to do so! There was almost always an obvious place to step, either on a flat rock in the creek bed or a flat spot alongside the creek. The rocks were stable and not slippery at all. Only occasionally was there a spot where I had to stop or slow down to find my way, usually either a pile of debris or a log to go over or under. With a bit of practice, I could start to look ahead and figure out a path to take without stopping. This was also great lower leg proprioception (balance) training and kept my mental focus sharpened. After a bit of learning, it became a real joy, both for the challenge and for bringing me even closer to nature’s wonders.

Here is a video of my first attempt. This is in a place where it wasn’t so easy to run, so it’s not so representative of the whole outing. I did this for about half a mile and can’t wait to try again! Not sure what to call this new sport, “Creek Running” seems a bit lame. Any ideas?

 

Jason Climbs into the Sky

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March 31st: On our way back from Georgia, we decided to stop in Kentucky and check out Red River Gorge, a rugged park and natural area east of Lexington we had heard much about since our move to Cincinnati. This turned out to be an awesome side trip and a special adventure for Jason and the whole family.

The gorge is indeed very rugged, with steep mountains everywhere that have been slowly eroded into imposing cliff faces. Many of these have further eroded into “arches”, where the sandstone below a hard granite capstone rock is worn away to cause underlying indentations. There are many wicked hiking trails, and this is awesome trail running country, as the Rugged Red Half Marathon held here in mid-September attests to (4000 feet of climb in only 13 miles!).

However, hiking up to the signature Natural Bridge, the highlight of the park and a true natural arch that has eroded all the way through, was not in the cards for us. While there were several trails to view the arch, none of these were wheelchair accessible for Jason. We contemplated our strategy during lunch at Miguel’s Pizza and climbing shop, which is a can’t-be-missed restaurant with super awesome pizza and rice bowls. Finally, we decided to see if we could take the “tram” to the top. This turned out to be nothing more than a short and scarily IMG_1597steep chairlift straight up the side of the cliff and onto the top of the arch. However, the lift operators were incredibly friendly and helpful, and they offered to load Jason’s stroller onto a chair and take it off for us at the top. Jason got to sit with Mom and loved the ride, while the boys rode on ahead to set everything up at the top.

At the top, it was a real struggle getting Jason wheeled across a short but VERY bumpy trail to the top of the arch. But it was totally worth it, as you can see from the scenery in one of brother Ryan’s famous “trip clip” video travelogues at the summit. The bridge is 78 feet across and 65 feet high, but it seems much higher from the top. A very happy day!

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5 hour energy

Your contribution helps us celebrate!

Pete’s been busy building up his fitness for Superior 100. In the next few days, we will post a few recent workout highlights. 5he

April 4th: This weekend, I again faced a peak running weekend. I was hoping to ramp up to a 5 hour run on trails on Saturday and another 2 1/2 again on Sunday. Back I trudged early in the morning to my emerging nemesis, East Fork State Park, which is the only place relatively close that has enough trails to keep things from not being overly repetitive. The weather was excellent, the trails were still swampy in only a few locations, and I felt great this Saturday. I came out early to run the first few miles in the dark, so I could get a bit of nighttime practice in for the Laurel Highlands warmup race that is coming up all to fast (June 13th, and a scary 70 miles!). I felt strong throughout, and before I knew it, I’d knocked off an estimated 25 miles or so–woohoo! Even better, the run Sunday also went great, mainly due to the nice support I routinely get from my local running buddies.

Just two more really tough weekends before Laurel Highlands, and I am very glad. It’s really amazing to me that I’ve gotten this far in my training, just by adding 20 or 30 minutes to each long run. The last few miles are typically a real struggle, but then my body is ready to go that much farther the next time. Hopefully, this keeps working, because I’m going to need it to!

April 9th: On the road again to Bethesda, Maryland. I’m here frequently and always run on the local bike path. This morning, I again felt great and found myself getting a pretty speedy 4 miles in. Glad to know I still have a bit of quickness in me.