#PresRunsCbus Training Update

Back on 26 May, I had posted that I had committed to running the 2015 Columbus Marathon this coming October. It definitely does NOT feel as if almost 2 months have passed. Today marks the end of training week #5 (of 18) and I thought it’d be a great time for an initial update as to how things are going.

First – a reminder of my goals for this endeavor:

  1. Run the entire Columbus Marathon (26.2 miles)
    • If I can’t run the whole thing, at least run as much as possible.
  2. Beat my previous marathon time (4:49:55)
  3. Raise $1000 for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

As of today, I have run 84.06 miles (50.9 of those in July alone) with an average pace of 9:00 minutes per mile. The average elapsed time of my runs is right around 38 minutes. Longest run so far (without substantial walking) has been 9.11 miles, run in Tacoma, Washington one week ago on 11 July. If my training continues as it has so far, and I am able to keep my pace close to or under 9:00/mile, I should complete the Columbus Marathon in the neighborhood of 4 hours even – almost an hour faster than my time 11 years ago!

So, I would say that at this point – with 13 weeks of training to go – I feel that I am at least on pace to achieve goal #2 and beat my previous marathon time. As for running the entire distance (goal #1), the jury is still out, but I’m feeling very optimistic about the possibility!

As for #3, I have raised $360 of my $1000 goal for Nationwide Children’s Hospital thus far – but there is still much work to be done. Nationwide Children’s Hospital works day in and day out to cure, mend, comfort and save an estimated one million children who will walk through the hospital doors this year. Like so many others, I am seeking to raise money to help support the work of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and simply ask for your support as I work to meet that goal. If you would like to learn more about Nationwide Children’s Hospital and support me as a Children’s Champion, please click here — any amount you can give is helpful and appreciated!

Finally, THANK YOU to all those who have been so supportive – in person or online. It’s always great to get that cheering noise from the Nike+ app! In addition to tracking via Nike+, I also upload my progress to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram after every run- usually with the standard “#dropNgimme20“. This serves two purposes: keeps me publicly accountable and allows me to reflect on what I’ve achieved so far.

Sidenote: If you need/want motivation to start running or to keep running, get on Instagram or Twitter and search for #nikeplus, #running, #training (just for a start). There is an amazing community of runners out there who are super supportive and willing to share their knowledge and experiences. You can follow MY running via Instagram and Twitter.

Going for Two

Click HERE to learn more about Nationwide Children’s Hospital and to support me as 2015 Columbus Marathon Children’s Champion.


Over the last few weeks, I’ve been debating what I want to do next in regard to my running. Should I stick to the 5k circuit? What about a marathon? I can tell you now that I hope to run a few more 5k’s this year and maybe even move up a few more spots in the Wayne Healthcare Challenge. However – and as I’m sure you may have guessed by now – I have also answered the question about taking on a marathon as I have officially registered for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon this upcoming October.

So let’s be honest – the headline for this post should read more like “Going for (26point)Two“.

Anyhow, before I touch on this year’s endeavor, here’s some backstory for you:

***

In the spring of 2004, I lost my father to a very severe form of brain cancer (more on that here) and I was struggling pretty bad. I was struggling with my academics, I was struggling socially, I was struggling emotionally. At any given point in 2004, one could say that I was a first-class passenger on (or potentially the captain of) the Hot Mess Express. The only places or times that I felt I had control and where I wasn’t struggling (as much) was when I was playing music or running.

By the time fall of 2004 came around, I had changed my major to one with a sports focus. This meant I needed physical education credits. Thankfully, BGSU offered both Jogging which was taught by an experienced coach, runner, and all around great person. Running – exactly what I needed. She and I figured out very quickly that “jogging” wasn’t going to cut it for me – I needed more “running” – and we made it work quite well. As a result, my instructor nudged me to take on a greater running challenge. Her intent was not for me to specifically go after the marathon, but hey – go big or go home, right?

So, I that it would be cool to sign up and participate in the 2004 Columbus Marathon – my first marathon ever. What a day that was. My training wasn’t great and my performance wasn’t much better. There was quite a bit of both running and walking throughout the day, but I am proud to say that I did, in fact, run approximately 20 of the 26.2 miles and finished in 4:49:55. It wasn’t pretty and I was pretty well useless for the next 36 hours, but damnit I finished.

***

Running is my sport. It has helped me connect with new people, taught me discipline, and (obviously) has helped me cope with some of the not-so-pleasant parts of life. Running has helped me to remain healthy and able to participate in a wide range of activities, including collegiate marching band. Running is my sport and it is high time for me to get back to it.

So, I’m going to run the Columbus Marathon for the second time. The difference is that this time around I want to do MUCH better. I have my 18-week training schedule (Thanks, Hal Higdon) plotted out along with some supplemental workouts. My wife, Tammi, and I do what we can to cook at home and eat healthy, but let’s face it – cheat days happen. Ultimately, I would love to run a sub 4-hour marathon. Hell, I’d love to run well enough to qualify for Boston. Honestly though, I just want to do three things: run all 26.2 miles and beat my previous time.

The third thing I want to accomplish is meeting my fundraising goal as a Children’s Champion. Nationwide Children’s Hospital works day in and day out to cure, mend, comfort and save an estimated one million children who will walk through the hospital doors this year. I am seeking to raise $1000 to help support Nationwide Children’s Hospital and simply ask for your support in working to meet that goal. Your contribution will help children everywhere through the life-saving research and care done right here in Columbus.

Click HERE to learn more about Nationwide Children’s Hospital and to support me as 2015 Columbus Marathon Children’s Champion.

UPDATE: #AIP2WGI

FULLY FUNDED – two words that bring me so much joy right now. 

One week ago on March 19, the news came down that the final performance(s) for the Aurora Indoor Percussion – a trip to WGI World Championships – might be in jeopardy. Long story short, all because of potential transportation issues. After a number of setbacks, emails, phone calls, and even more setbacks, a mutually beneficial solution was identified. Part of this solution resulted in the creation of a GoFundMe campaign, which set out to raise the funds needed ($800) in order to transport our equipment to and from WGI World Championships.

The campaign was made public on Tuesday, March 24 around 8pm. Why is that relevant? Because as of TODAY (March 26), at 12:30pm – just slightly more than 40 hours later – our campaign to send #AIP2WGI is FULLY FUNDED.

Thanks to the support of so many amazing people, these talented high school musicians will be able to finish their season as planned – performing at WGI World Championships for the first time. THANK YOU to those who gave, those who shared our cause with others, those who love music, and to those who just want the to see these students succeed.

Help Aurora Indoor Percussion Get To WGI World Championships

CLICK HERE TO HELP AIP GET TO WGI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

For the last two winters, I have served as an instructor with the Aurora Indoor Percussion ensemble from Aurora High School in Aurora, OH. These students put in, on average, 9 hours of rehearsal time a week, not to mention the amount of time they practice on their own. In 2014, the work paid off as the ensemble earned 3rd place at the state championships.

This year, the ensemble is made up of 24 talented students whose shared mission is 1) to create and perform music 2) while enjoying a positive social experience and 3) striving to perform at the highest level.

Our season is set to end in just a few weeks at the WGI World Championships in Dayton, OH on April 9 & 10. However, we have recently been made aware that our trip may be in jeopardy as the primary means of transporting our equipment to and from the event is no longer guaranteed. As a result, we have kicked off a GoFundMe campaign to raise $800 in order to rent a vehicle large enough to haul our equipment.

I take great pride in giving back to music programs and educating young musicians and it bothers me greatly to think that a transportation issue – be it for people or equipment – could dictate when a season ends. These students have worked too hard to be cut short this close to the opportunity of performing at WGI World Championships for the first time in the ensemble’s history. The students will remember this experience forever, but not without your help. 

Send #AIP2WGI!

CLICK HERE TO HELP AIP GET TO WGI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Ice Bucket Challenge

Update: To keep myself accountable, donations to both ALS Association (for the Ice Bucket Challenge) AND to the American Cancer Society (in memory of my father, Philip Ramsey) have been submitted. 


Yesterday (August 23), I was challenged by my mother-in-law to take the ALS #icebucketchallenge. Today, I accepted the challenge and, of course, recorded the video to document the event. However, you’ll have to wait for that.

What is ALS?

ALS, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that impacts nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body – the drivers of the body if you will. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost, often leading to victims becoming partially or completely paralyzed. ALS is not a contagious disease and knows no racial or socioeconomic boundaries – affecting approximately 5,500 Americans annually. (Source: ALS Association)

This is where I get frustrated.

The piece that is missing from most ice bucket challenge videos and/or posts is the paragraph above. I hate to say it, but there is a lack of education throughout the Ice Bucket Challenge on what ALS actually is and how it affects its victims. This is what people NEED to know. Now, sure – there have been some great response videos out there – Patrick Stewart, Benedict Cumberbatch, and so on. However, just as much fun as it is to watch others, it is important to know what it is you’re fighting against.

What is the Ice Bucket Challenge?

That’s a really good question. The simple answer, as best I can tell, is:

  • Someone nominates you for the challenge
  • You accept the challenge
  • You nominate others for the challenge
  • Douse yourself with a bucket of ice water
  • Remind your nominees that they have 24-hours to complete the challenge and/or donate. 

At first, I thought it was a novel way to simply engage and challenge one another. As the movement grew, it became slightly annoying, but then it also became somewhat entertaining. I’ve seen videos posted by celebrities, athletes, and even a good number of my dear friends. Of course, at a certain point, it became clear that eventually the nomination would be knocking on my door as well.

Some of my friends and I have had a number of discussions on this concept. Would we accept the challenge if nominated? Why or why not? Why has this taken off and become such a massive movement? Is it legit or just a fad? These are just a few of the questions we’ve pondered. To be honest, I had absolutely no intention of ever accepting the ice bucket part of the challenge. But, then again, I’m occasionally a proud and challenge-accepting person. Additionally, and probably more important, I see myself as something of a philanthropist. Maybe not the T.Boone Pickens (Oklahoma State) or Bob Sebo (BGSU) kind of philanthropist, but a philanthropist all the same.

Philanthropy 2.0

The idea of giving back isn’t about who gives the most or how often they give. It’s about giving back – period. You don’t have to be the person who donates a million dollars to an institution in order to have an impact. An individual should give when they are able to so and to those organizations or causes to which they have a connection. Even the smallest gift can make a difference.

My Response & Challenge

I’m well aware that to someone out there, my actions of accepting the challenge doesn’t necessarily line up with the words here. I’m okay with that because I know what I’m supporting and honestly, it was a bit of fun in the process.

SO, with all of that out of the way and in the spirit of giving, I have accepted the #icebucketchallenge from my mother-in-law and will be donating to the ALS Association as well as to the American Cancer Society. I have nominated my wife’s aunt, uncle, and younger cousin to take on the challenge as well.

To everyone else: I challenge you to go out and find a cause that interests you and support it in whatever way you are able – financially or otherwise. 

Until next time…keep striving.

Honeymoon Chronicles: Traveling by Train

Just a few days ago – 1 August to be exact – our time in Germany had come to an end, which meant another travel day and two more train rides. I should note all of our travel since arriving in Europe has been made possible thanks to a variety of European trains. In this post, I’ll do what I can to highlight the experience.

First off, know that this is the first time that either one of us has utilized traveling by train as a primary transportation method, as we usually fly or drive. I’ll be honest – I had my apprehensions about traveling by train across Europe. What if we miss a train? What if we can’t figure out the time tables? What if we get separated? More “what if’s” than I care to list. To my pleasant surprise though, the whole process has been incredibly easy and SIGNIFICANTLY less stressful than air travel.

There isn’t really any secret to train travel. You show up, get on your train, and go. For the most part, and assuming you have your ticket/reservation in advance (which I’ll talk about in a moment), you can show up at the platform for your outgoing train pretty much as it’s rolling into the station. I would not recommend doing so, but you don’t have to show up 2 hours early like you would for a flight. On average, we’ve been 30-45 minutes early for each train. And security? With the exception of the high-speed train between London and Paris, there aren’t really any security checkpoints.

Earlier, I mentioned having a ticket AND a reservation. Think of it this way – for a flight, you have to buy a ticket which will also include your seat assignment. For European rail travel, a ticket gets you on the train – and that’s all. Having a reservation in addition to that ticket will get you your seat. Without a reservation, you can sit down, but you are not guaranteed that seat for the whole trip. With that said, if you’re sitting in a seat without a reservation and along I come with the reservation for that seat – I get the seat and you get to move.

The biggest part of traveling by train…or by any method really…is knowing your travel information. This is nothing new but I cannot stress this enough though. You need to know your train number, what coach you’re sitting in, what seat your reservation is for, and where your train is going and where you get off. Not knowing your train info could quickly become a costly error. For example, there was a couple a few rows up from us on our train from Paris to Amsterdam. The train manager had come around to check tickets to find that this couple did not have the correct tickets. The gentleman in the couple was quite sure (see: arrogant) that he was on the correct train, in the correct seats, and was sure the train manager was incorrect. The train manager then pointed out, quite plainly, that the passenger and his companion were to have boarded a different regional train, not the high-speed service between Paris and Amsterdam. The couple had two options: 1) get off the train at the next stop with no penalty OR 2) get charged the full fare for the trip, as if they had joined us in Paris. They got off the train. What can be learned here? Know your travel information and NEVER argue with the man who could boot you off the train.

I can say that Tammi and I have really enjoyed traveling via train during our honeymoon. Most of our trains have been of the high-speed variety or darn close, making our travel days go by much quicker. As a result, I’m actually looking forward to possibly utilizing Amtrak in the future for travel back at home.

Until next time…

Honeymoon Chronicles: AirBnB

For our trip to Europe, we had a lot of decisions to make – such as where to visit, how to get there, and so on. One of the bigger decisions was deciding where to stay. Rather than go with hotels, hostels, or camping, we decided to try something completely new to us – AirBnB.

AirBnB Explained

AirBnB is quite simple – you’re traveling and need a place to stay, but you don’t want to stay in a hotel. Individuals list their apartments, private rooms, or couches on the site and you can browse the listings to find what suits your needs.

Another way I’d explain the concept of AirBnB is to utilize the idea of home-swapping – where you and someone at your destination swap living spaces for a set period of time. The difference, however, is that a full home swap isn’t necessary. The video clip below from the movie “The Holiday” gives a fun (yet not entirely realistic) example of the home-swap concept. Obviously, for more specific information about how AirBnB works, check out the AirBnb website.

Our Criteria

There are a lot of really fantastic places listed on AirBnB by some rather fantastic people. On the flip side, there are also a lot of…well…not so great listings as well. As mentioned prior, listings on the site are for 1) entire apartments, 2) a private room, or 3) a couch to crash on. When it came time for Tammi and I to decide on where to stay – seeking out apartments, mind you – we looked primarily at the following as our deciding criteria:

Pictures / Description – “You only get one chance to make a first impression” and the first thing one sees when searching through the listings are photos. What does the place look like? Is this a place in which we would feel comfortable actually living for an extended period of time? Is it welcoming or does it make us cringe? Are there multiple photos or is it a one photo and floor plan? Additionally, there should be a decent description of the property. Does the description match the photos? What is the neighborhood like?

Amenities – We really weren’t super picky here, but we did have three non-negotiables that needed to be met in order for a listing to move forward.

  • Washer – Backpacking our way through this trip means packing as minimalists. No dryer is fine – clothes can air dry after a wash. No washer, though, could smell…er, spell, disaster.
  • WiFi – Tammi was just offered a new position prior to our departure from the states, so she needs to be able to keep in touch – especially with her school year starting quickly upon our return. Additionally, I’m still searching for a new position myself (higher ed, non-profits, etc). So yes, we should be disconnected for this trip, but it just wasn’t feasible. However, we’ve managed to keep our online time to late evenings and travel days, allowing us to really enjoy our trip to the fullest. Another plus of having access to wifi in the apartments? It has made uploading photos to our Dropbox backup much easier!
  • Bed Size – Honeymoon jokes aside, we wanted beds that we could both easily sleep in without a fear of 1) smothering the other or 2) falling out on to the floor because of a tiny little bed.

Distance from Public Transport – Our travel through Europe is via train, so we needed to find listings that are close enough to public transport to make our trip a little easier. We’ve defined public transport, in most cases, as a metro line (subway). In other cases – such as our stops in Amsterdam & Munich – it was more a question of how far the apartment is from the central train station.

Overall Cost – We could have easily stayed in nice hotels the entire trip. However, by using AirBnB, we actually ended up SAVING money. I’m not going to go into great detail on the particulars, but know that on average, we saved probably close to $50-100/location by avoiding hotels. Plus, this gave us the added bonus of actually living like locals for a few days.

…and finally, Reviews – It should come as no surprise that we looked for places with positive reviews. We wanted to stay in places where people had positive experiences and had great things to say. No reviews at all? Thanks, but no thanks.

Our Experience (so far)

We’re still on our trip – currently on the train from Berlin to Munich – and thus far our experience has been great. Our hosts have been fantastic about responding quickly to our messages and, in some cases, have been good about checking in with us in advance of our arrival. A few of our hosts have even surprised us with a bottle of bubbly in the fridge – their way of congratulating us on our marriage!

Your AirBnB experience might differ from ours, and that’s okay. We’ve enjoyed it and would recommend giving it a shot – even if you just use it for a weekend getaway in the states.

Until next time…