under pressure.


I need to take some lessons from my cat.

Things have been … stressful … recently. Getting by as a single-income household, even temporarily, is difficult. I face new challenges at work; I welcome those, because many involve changes that are overdue, but they are difficult nonetheless.

It’s a lot of pressure.

I don’t like this. I spent much of Tuesday at my desk with my teeth clenched, trying not to flip out on my colleagues. I had to run errands in Cranberry after work, something that won’t exactly help anyone lower stress levels. And when I got home, I plopped down on the couch with a bowl of mac and cheese and three hours of The West Wing queued up on Netflix.

Sure, there are worse ways to spend an evening. And yes, I’m not ever going to argue that an evening of escape isn’t helpful once in a while.

This month two years ago, I started running. It worked. I did it consistently. I felt good, about a number of things. I was at the age where I had to start thinking about things like my health, my weight, the fact that I work a very stressful job and that my family’s history with heart problems wasn’t exactly encouraging.

Hey, look — all those things still exist, except that I’m two years older. Hm.

I’ve run sporadically this fall, but I’ve managed to turn that into a chore as well. My bed is warm and hitting the snooze button is really easy — and then I beat myself up over the fact that I’m supposed to run 10 miles with Fred on Nov. 3. Boom. More pressure.

Take a look at Miles up there. He’s 13 years old. The internet tells me that’s the human equivalent of 75. Yes, he sleeps a lot. Yes, he doesn’t need to worry about websites or mortgages. But you know what else he does? Even at his age, he plays. He runs. He kills the catnip-filled bananas and furry mice he has stashed all over the house. And then he’s got a really good reason to take a nap.

I wish I had same kind of time for napping that my cat does. It looks like it does him good, because he’s in pretty good shape for an old guy.

But the other old guy in the house does have time to do something for himself. He knows from experience that taking that time makes him feel a lot better. He knows he’ll be better off, at home and at work.’

And, judging from the weather forecast, he’s going to be running in a cold rain tomorrow morning. And he’ll feel pretty good about it too.

i’m back.


I saw the guy not too long after Mrs. Crappy dropped me off on the North Shore.

He had the same build as me, and although he has much more gray hair than I do, I guessed we were about the same age. But there were plenty of old fat guys getting ready to run this morning’s Pittsburgh Marathon 5K, and the similarities I shared with this guy weren’t what caught my eye.

It was his Michigan shirt.

I am capable of being pretty competitive in general, but that’s typically the furthest thing from my mind if we’re talking about running. And as I thought about the race last night and this morning, the notion of beating anyone wasn’t even a consideration — I was concerned only about finishing.

Until I saw the Michigan shirt.

I started running again about a month ago, sporadically at first and, for the last two weeks, steadily following the old Couch to 5K program. I knew I wouldn’t be close to being able to run a full 5K by the time today came around, but I didn’t hesitate to enter the marathon’s 5K race. I thought — correctly, it turns out — that the race would provide a nice boost at a point in the C25K program where I have struggled in previous attempts.

But even before today’s race, I felt something different, closer to what this all felt like in the fall of 2011, when I completed C25K for the first time and ran my very first 5K. I found that I enjoyed running back then; that feeling carried over into the following winter, at least until I got hurt and had to stop. That was discouraging, enough so that I just stopped. I made a couple comeback attempts, but my heart wasn’t in it.

This time has felt different. There are things I needed to change, not the least of which was my fitness and my weight. The issues that existed in 2011 — high-stress job, family history of heart problems, love of beer and cheeseburgers — all still exist, almost two years later — which means I’ll be 47 on my next birthday, and I can’t simply can’t behave that way any longer.


I have a good start. And today’s race was a huge part of that. I love the energy you pick up before the start of a race; I also love the boost you get from seeing friendly faces — Kelly, Chelsea and, of course, Mrs. Crappy — and cheering strangers on the course. And the shot of adrenaline you get when the finish line comes into view is one of the best things ever.

I’ll do another 5K soon. When Mrs. Crappy — who has started running again as well — is ready, I want to do one with her. I’d love to do one a month for a while, with an eye on getting to a 10K or a half marathon sometime in the fall.

And, mostly, I want this to continue. Because this time, I’ve having fun again.

As I shuffled down Wood Street, I finally caught sight of the gray t-shirt again, the one worn by Michigan dude. The nice English lady just told me to walk, but I kept him in view as we rounded the corner to the Boulevard of the Allies and the home stretch to the finish line.

I didn’t wait for the nice English lady to tell me to run again. I knew I was going to be slow — my official finish time was 42:57 — but I was going to beat Michigan Guy to the finish line.


There’s a little uphill on the boulevard, but the last few hundred yards to the finish are slightly downhill — and that’s when I kicked. Perhaps I benefited from the fact that Michigan Guy wasn’t aware he was racing anyone, but I blew by him just after we crested the little hill and cruised to the finish.

Ohio State beats Michigan once again.

cups of water. and high fives.


It feels a little different this year.

I’m not worried in any fashion about volunteering to sling water during Sunday’s Pittsburgh Marathon, but it feels like it’s more important than usual for me to be there this year.

This will be the third time in four years we’ve volunteered to work the race. It’s one of the most fun days of the year for me; I get to support friends and strangers, all of whom are, without fail, appreciative of the volunteers, and I, without fail, yell myself hoarse cheering for people I don’t even know.

Regardless of the circumstances, I would be out there Sunday morning.


But it feels a little different this year.

I am part of this community. I don’t know what it’s like to cross the finish line after 26.2 or 13.1 — yet — but I know what it’s like to put in many slow miles to reach a goal. I’m running — sort of — in the marathon’s 5K on Saturday morning, as part of a new — and so far, successful — push to get back into the sport.

It’s been a while since I’ve done this regularly, but on April 15, I felt for the people who had to suddenly deal with death. With injuries. And — in a way, the most personal aspect of the bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line — those who had their moment, the one they had worked towards for weeks or months, taken away by those explosions.

I took it personally for them. I took it personally for the friends who have run Boston. I took it personally for friends who could run there someday.

And I took it personally for me.

I don’t feel like working on Sunday morning is making any kind of grand statement on my part. But maybe what we all do on Sunday — whether we’re running, as many of you guys are, or if we’re slinging water — we can all speak pretty loudly, in support of each other and in support of those whose lives and goals were interrupted in Boston two weeks ago.

If you’re running, look for me at the Mile 6 water station, on Western Avenue near the humane society; I’ll be wearing a bright red bucket hat, so I’ll be easy to find for a hug, a high five and a cup of the best water on the course.

And if you want to join Mrs. Crappy and me, there’s still time. Go to the volunteers section of the marathon’s website, click the General Volunteers button and scroll down the list to the jobs that start at 5:30 a.m. (yeah, there’s some personal sacrifice involved here); sign yourself up for the Mile Mark 6 fluid station — they still need about 25 people just for that station — and come on out on Sunday morning. You’ll work hard, you’ll have a good time, and you’ll be saying something louder than the report of a couple bombs.

I hope I see you there.

on your mark.

Not yet.

I know a ton of people who ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon last weekend — full, half, veterans and first-timers. And I’m proud of each and every single one of you. No matter what the time, you all killed it last week.

And let’s be honest: I’m also jealous as hell.

I was supposed to be among you last week, and it’s still irritating that I wasn’t. I think I made the right decision, vis-a-vis my ailing groin; but feeling smart didn’t help me much as I watched all of you running by my spot on the Seventh Street Bridge Sunday morning.

No worries, though. I’m coming back.

I’m approaching a week without pain in my pesky groin; I promised myself that as soon as I got through two weeks without so much as a twinge, I’d start running again. I’m not quite there yet, but I may bow to impatience and take a brisk walk in the next day or two, just to see how things are feeling. And if that goes well, I’ll start a walking/running mix.

And if we’re good with that, I have something else in mind.

As we’ve discussed before, I need a goal in order for the running thing to work. I had good schedule — with decent results, at least until I hurt myself — as I worked toward the Pittsburgh half; before I decided to run that one, I was kind of drifting — my runs were sporadic, and it was way too easy to talk myself out of getting out of bed in the morning and putting on my running shoes.

So how do I keep my motivation going? Easy — I run once race every month for the rest of the year.

I’ll take it easy to start, and give myself some time to get back into shape; I’m thinking a July start will be perfect. I even have a schedule in mind, although just a couple months are carved in stone at this point:

  • July: TBD, yes. But having a t-shirt from the Whiskey Rebellion 5K in Canonsburg on the Fourth of July would be really cool. I think that would be a fun run, too. The July Fourth parade in Canonsburg is a big freaking deal, and as this race is a precursor to the parade, I think there would be a built-in audience.
  • August: Again, to be determined. But I’m intrigued by the Brookline Breeze 5K on Aug. 11. This race is part of an annual community party, and I would hope to get some support — and perhaps some post-race beverages — from the Burghseyeview crew.
  • September: This one is carved in stone, as in I’m already registered: The Great Race in Pittsburgh (Sept. 30). Watching all of yinz guys have fun in this one last year was the reason I started running last fall, and this race was my original goal. With that in mind, when Mrs. Crappy and I saw that discount registrations were available at the marathon expo, we signed up immediately. A nice bonus: the race takes place on a road-game weekend, so we don’t have to miss any football in Columbus.
  • October: Next payday, I’ll register for the Columbus half marathon on Oct. 21. I’d still love to have Pittsburgh as my first half, but I’m not going to wait until next year to run one. Columbus in October is a perfect second choice. All I have to do it is pray that the Purdue game is a noon start. This will also be nice because I’ll have a built-in support team at the ready.
  • November: I love the idea of running to make room for Thanksgiving dinner, and the proximity of the YMCA’s Turkey Trot 5K downtown makes this race a natural.
  • December: As I found last year, there is a surprisingly large pool of December races to choose from; in the interest of symmetry, though, I’ll probably run the Jingle Bell 5K, just like I did for my first race ever in 2011.

Ambitious? Maybe. Stupid? Definitely. But once I get started again — and keep in mind this schedule is subject to change; I’m now very aware that injuries can make a mockery of plans like this in an instant — I know I’ll need goals and dates to keep going through the summer heat. And a schedule like this would be the perfect way to do that.

C’mon, groin. Get better quick.


What I want to do next Sunday: Run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

What I will do instead: Not run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

What I’m doing is otherwise known as the Smart Option, but it’s definitely not the one I wanted to choose. After I completed my first 5K in December — and screwed around for about a month instead of running regularly — I knew I needed a reason to train. And by January, I knew that reason would be the half.

I was making great progress, and having a blast on a months’ worth of Saturday long runs with friends in North Park. But somewhere along the way, I pulled a muscle in my groin — and I didn’t really do anything about it. I went ahead and ran 8.5 miles a few Saturdays ago, and even though I complained about my nipples more, the groin hurt like a bitch afterwards; I also went ahead with a 10K in Florida, and my groin was not pleased with that either.

I’ve tried a few times since, hoping that some rest as I ticked off the days until the half would help.

It didn’t. The pain flared a few steps in each time, enough that it was a struggle to finish a mile. I even stopped recording the attempts on Daily Mile, because I didn’t want to turn my timeline into an endless stream of grumping, especially when most of my friends there will be running on Sunday.

I’ve thought about trying anyway, walking and jogging and somehow struggling through 13.1 miles. I could probably make it, but I’m not sure where that would leave me for the rest of the summer. There are other races, and other half marathons out there, and I don’t want to chance missing out on those because I’m nursing a six-month-old groin pull.

So I’m going with the Smart Option, a name I chose in hopes of making myself feel better about not running on Sunday. I’m going to sit out for a while, maybe with an eye on walking with the March of Dimes thing in late May before I start jogging again. If that goes well, I will ease back in. I think using a Couch to 10K app would be a good way to make sure I’m ready for the Great Race in September and whatever else comes along.

I am not happy about this. I’ve come to really enjoy running, and for me, its benefits are too numerous to list. I’m not going to stop, and I will run a half before 2012 is over. But this is discouraging. Depressing. Frustrating. I so wanted to do this, and do it now, this May, and here, in my the city that is solidly my home.

But I will do it, maybe on the Montour Trail, maybe in Columbus. That’s still the goal, and I will reach it this year.

If you’re running on Sunday, I hope you have a great morning on the streets of our city. I might wander over to the start, to get a feel for everything and to see as many of you as I can before you begin.

I’ll see you other places in a few weeks too. North Park. North Shore Trail. In Brighton Heights or Bellevue. I promise.

catching up, grumpy edition.

And doing it as best I know how:

* Florida was fabulous. The kids are amazing little people — getting more grown up by the minute — and my sister and BIL are doing a great job with them. Mrs. Crappy and I got to the beach four of the six days we were there. I ran a 10K and didn’t die. And we properly celebrated Crappydad’s upcoming 75th birthday.

* And then we had to come home to snow flurries. Really?

* While we were in Florida, I neglected to wrap up the Seventh Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown). Because of unusual circumstances that require consultation with our sponsor, I will do so on Monday.

* The 10K was difficult, but fun. I was too slow — finished at 1:20 — but I completed the race knowing what I needed to focus on as I get ready for the Pittsburgh Half. And then my groin decided that there would be no running of any consequence this week, and I’m left with three weeks to prepare to run 13 miles. I am not happy about this. I’ve joked a bunch about not letting my various attempts at running kill me — see above, for example — but the half — especially if it’s a warm morning — actually could be a dangerous thing, given my lack of training in the last couple weeks.

* If I’m able to run it at all.

* For as excited as I was about the start of the hockey playoffs, the actual games have been nothing short of a horror. I’m less concerned with the fights and cheap shots on both sides — they happen, although usually not this much in the playoffs — than I am with Penguins’ horrible defensive effort. Or lack thereof. The team is staying positive — Bylsma said after Sunday’s game that Fleury would start the remaining four games of the series — and I will as well.

* I’ll do that for a couple of reasons. First: Mrs. Crappy and I want to watch Friday’s game at the big screen outside CEC. Can’t do that if the series ends Wednesday night.

* Second: I need to give my playoff beard a little more time.