Friday, 21 April 2017

26 Miles, 26 Dedications Version 2.0

     Last year, as most of you know, I was at about mile 20 when I was telling myself how crazy I was for running a marathon.  I hit the wall and I was tired.  I said I would never do something like that ever again.  I'm a big fat liar.

    I wanted to do something special while I ran, so when I set out on my quest, I led with a theme, a mission so to speak: 26 miles, 26 dedications.  So many people can have an affect on our lives.  We look up to some of those people.  We admire them.  We get inspired by them.

     When I was growing up, I always saw myself as this type of person.  I remember my mother had went to see a psychic with some friends for fun, and when asked for a picture of her children, the woman pointed to me all freaked out saying I was going to save the world.  Apparently this women knew somehow that I loved comic books and lived on plant Chuck.   Even at a young age I got a huge laugh when my mom told all of us that little story.  I'm 44 years old and I haven't quite saved the world.   However, it doesn't mean that I never thought I would do something important.  I'm still trying to figure out what that is.

    I always envisioned myself as an actor, or a singer.  I even took a small acting class in high school, but when I had to put my arm around a female class mate I found out that was not going to happen.  I pretty much fell apart blushing.  I was just a bit shy back then (far from it now.)  I never knew I could sing until well into my 20s but again it wasn't anything I would pursue.  I was just Chuck - your average Joe, blue collar guy working like everyone else and just living life.  But the older I got, the more I started to change.  Could I do something important that would mean something to someone, even if we didn't know each other?  Well, sure I could.   That's why I've chosen to run for the Mario Lemieux foundation these last few years, and why I chose the theme that I did for my first marathon.  It's my way of giving back and trying to make what I was doing more meaningful.

     I wanted my biggest achievement to mean something to not only me, but to other people as well.   I wanted to honor those that may have fought the good fight and were no longer with us and those that were still fighting.  I wanted to honor those that had an impact on my life, even if they were a perfect stranger, even a celebrity.  Sure we may have never met, but that doesn't mean they hadn't touched my life in some way.  These people inspired me to do good so I wanted to return the favor.

     When registration for this year's marathon opened up at the end of last year, I signed up ready to fight round two with the pavement all throughout Pittsburgh.  I wanted to dedicate my miles once more so that my run would mean something more to not only me, but to others as well.  Some of this list will consist of those I've dedicated miles to last year, but that's because I want them with me a,second time.  Some of this list will have names of people I do not know and have never met, but some of you might.  These people inspire us all, and this year's race is for them.

This may be a long post, but I hope you'll stick around to the end. (I would have loved to use more pics but did not want to do so without permission.)

Mile 1 - Kathy Jane Westfall.   Kathy Jane worked with us but had been going through cancer treatments for quite some time.  She came back in the middle of last summer but could only work a shortened schedule and around the end of the year she had to leave us again for treatment.  We did find out around mid February that she would not be able to return to work, and two weeks ago, she was taken from us.  One of the nicest and sweetest women you could ever meet, she is missed by all of us at BCD Travel.  RIP Kathy Jane.

Mile 2 - Donna Koffler, "Mrs. K"   I still think of you often and will never not.  You were a big part of my life growing up, and I cherish all the memories I have of you.  You will always have not just this mile, but many miles dedicated to you.

Mrs. K.
Mile 3 - Cy Clark and Lou Majetic.   I dedicated miles to them last year, and still wanted to honor them again this year.   RIP.

Mile 4 - The yet to be born child of Gerard and Kara Schaefer.  You're going to be joining this world soon, so I wanted to warn you ahead of time: your parents are NUTS when it comes to the Pens and hockey.  You will be too. You just don't know it yet (but we do, and trust me, it's gonna be fun!)

Mile 5 - David And Bonnie Hamsteads's unborn child.  You are going to be their third little one.  You are going to have two big sisters.  If you are a boy, they are going to torture you (I know this for a . fact.)  If you are a girl, they still might, but chances are you three will be an unstoppable force of nature.  We can't wait to meet you in October.

Dana Zinsner Miara
Mile 6 - Dana Zinsner Miara.  No matter what you are going through, or what treatments you may need, you still show a smile that stretches across the universe.   Don't ever stop.  #teamdana #moonclassof90

Mile 7 - Traci Foley and Lisa Swanson.  I've never met these two ladies, but they were Dana's "pink sisters" and meant the world to her.  They were taken from us too soon.  RIP Traci and Lisa.
Michelle Beck and her daughter Maddie

Mile 8 - Michelle Beck.   I know the struggles you've been facing for the last few years, but that doesn't stop you from doing anything and enjoying life.  And it shouldn't.  This mile's for you. (There is usually someone here with beer, so...cheers!) #teambeck

Mile 9 - Sari Oister.  Sari, I graduated high school with your mom.  We never hung out or anything like that, but she was always one of the nicest people growing up and always treated me with kindness.  She is one heck or a role model for you, but now you are a role model for us.  The road ahead for you may be long, but at this point in the race, so is the road ahead of me.  I know you'll keep on going, so I will, too.  #teamsari

Marissa and our friend Carie
Mile 10 - Marissa Stout.  Marissa, it's been a long time since I've seen you or Mike.  I know there is no way I'll fully understand what you have to go through right now, but I know you're not giving up, and you never will.  As long as I'm still running, I'm running as part of #teamstout.

Mile 11 - Janice Fife.  Janice was the mother of my friend Karyn.  I've known Karyn for many years now thanks to the power of the cheese (Velveeta - The State College band and not the actual cheese.)   I saw of her passing back in January right before Karyn's birthday.  It was unexpected, as sometimes with Cancer if not most times it usually is.  I had never met her mom, but I'd still like to honor her memory.

Mile 12 - Tiffany Boehme.  Hi Tiffany.  I don't know you, but I do know you are a friend of Kim Jurica's.   One day she simply said to me "cancer sucks."  She had told me of you, and spoke fondly of you.  I can't even begin to imagine what is going through your mind, or what you may be thinking, but I do know of one thought: keep going.  This is the toughest part of the course, an uphill battle with Forbes Avenue.  I know you have a tough hill to climb as well and way tougher than mine.  I know you'll keep on climbing.  So will I, and it's because of you.  #teamboehme

Mile 13 - Kelly Frey.   Of course I don't know her, but we all know who she is.  We've all watched her for years, and she chose to share her battle with the entire city of Pittsburgh.  That is no small feat and I'm sure it took a long time for her to share her story with us.  She's not done sharing stories either, whether they are hers or someone else.  I'm not done either.  I'm halfway there, and this mile is for Kelly.  #teamFrey #wtae

Mile 14 - Darran Dunlap.  Most of us sports fans know who Colin Dunlap is.  A well respected sports radio host and sports journalist in Pittsburgh, Colin shared with the people of Pittsburgh his young daughter's battle with cancer.  No adult should ever have to go through this, let alone a young child.  This is another reason why I run for the Lemieux Foundation.  Some of the money raised helps support Austin's Playroom at Children's Hospital, which benefits children like Darran.  Colin keeps us updated on Darran's status when he can, and shows us how strong she is each and every day. He tweeted a picture of her just yesterday showing her resolve.  She is the toughest kid I don't know.  You are amazing Darran, and I can't help but look up tp you.  #teamdunlap

Mile 15 - Eric Myers.  Eric was the husband of a women I graduated high school with, author Colleen Myers (back then it was Laughlin.)  He was taken too soon, like so many others.  He had passed a few weeks before last year's marathon, and I had my dedication list written up by then.  I haven't seen Colleen since high school, and I think it's so cool that she is an author.  I hadn't forgotten about her husband's passing, and wanted to honor his memory as well.  Mile 15 is in your memory Ssgt. Myers.

Mile 16 - Lisa Richetti.   Lisa posted online just the other day that she was 7 years cancer free.  What an awesome and incredible thing to read.  It's also something we all want to read and see.

Mile 17 - B.E. Taylor.   Most of us Yinzers know who this is.   For a few years, I lived next door to his brother but did not see him very often.   When I heard of his passing a friend of mine from high school, Pete Cardimen, reached out to me and sent me a message about B.E.  "Chuck - Saw your comments earlier.  Spoke to my mom today who is a neighbor of BEs brother.  They have been the best of neighbors to our family.  Going back years to when my dad was suffering with the complications of COPD and were there for my mom and us at one of the darkest times, always with love.  Thought you might want to see (and share) this video from his son."  I didn't get back to you on this one just yet Pete, but that's because I was saving what you sent for this blog posting.  And, yes, I do want to share that video.   It can be viewed below.  I encourage everyone to click the link and watch.

Mile 18 - Dr. Joseph Udvari.  Dr. Udvari passed away a few weeks ago due to complications with his Cancer.   He had been my eye doctor since I was 10 years old.  He knew my family mostly from our visits.  I was Djing the wedding of a co-workers son and was surprised when he came up to say hi.  He had no idea I was a DJ and a few years later hired me for his 40th class reunion.  He was so fascinated by this and  talked to me all night and made sure I was OK and had everything I needed.  I didn't realize last year when I had my eye exam that he was sick.  You were a good man Doc, and I'll miss our yearly chats.  RIP.

Mile 19 - Franklin Foley.   It's been close to 9 years since you have passed Mr. Foley.  I know Doug, Erin, Kelly, Liz, and Mrs. Foley miss you dearly, and I'm glad to have met you when I did.  I know you're looking down upon them all the time, and so do they.

Mile 20 -   Dorothy Martoia.  She was he grandmother of one of my close friendd, Shelby.  We had never met, and she would have been 91 the other day.  She had a great and happy life, and mile 20 will be in the books with her spirit leading the way.
Shelby, her mom Diane, and her Gram Dorothy

Mile 21 - Charles O'Malley.   Charles was the father of my friend Cathy, and father in law to my buddy Joe.  He passed away on Sept 4th, 2015.  I wanted to honor him this year, as well.

Mr. Ervin
Mile 22 - Lawrence J Ervin Sr.  Father of my friends Larry and Chris, Mr. E has passed last August.  Always one that when he saw you he would always take time out of his day to say hello and chat, no matter what he had to do.   RIP Mr. E.

Mile 23 - Dan Rooney.   Do I really need to say anything here?  Thank you Mr. Rooney, for all you meant to the city of Pittsburgh.

Mile 24 - Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker.  Yes they are celebrities and very well known, and part of the biggest movie franchise that ever existed.  But they were so much more than that.  Kenny never let his size stop him from doing great things in Hollywood and being R2D2 is how most will remember him.  Carrie was so much more than Princess Leia.  She had her stuggles in life, but she taught us so much because of them.  She was blunt.  She was honest.  She was freaking hilarious.  May the Force be with your both, always.

Coach Betsy (Photo Credit - SCRR)
Mile 25 - Coach Betsy Magovern and Coach Kim Lambert.  Coach Betsy suffered and injury and was not able to join us on the pavement this year for our training, but she has still been with us every weekend guiding us in other ways.   She's on the road to recovery and will be back soon, but I wanted to let her know we still listen to her, and come race day, what's she's taught us this year will come in handy.  Coach Lambert suffered a stroke after a race approx 6/7 months ago.  She then ran and finished the Boston Marathon after recovery and a doctor's OK.   That is nothing short of amazing.  Congrats Coach.  Keep on running!

Coach Kim at Boston 2017 (Photo Stolen From a SCRR post. Sorry!)

Mile 26 - Kim, Kayla, and Chloe.   We all have one goal, to do our best and finish what we set out to do.  I know how tough it's been training and being a mom and I know things don't always work out the way we planned, but you still found time to run and prepare for your race.  You're gonna do great.  I saw you all at the finish line last year, and I'm sure I'll see you again this year.  I'll need the cheers at this point in the day!

     Wait a minute!  There are still .2 miles to go!  And with that, Kirsten, Marty, Chad, the 10:00m training pace group from SCRR, my run buddies (Sara, Amy, Stephanie, and Dana) my family and my friends (Bryan beer me again this year, maybe twice.)  We made it this far, and the finish line is within sight.  Let's hoist another beer like we did last year, and lets cross that finish line together!  (Also, thank you Coach Suzanne for helping us all get there.)

Until next time Pittsburgh....keep on running.


Chuck Hull     The Running Jedi

#pghmarathon #runpgh #lovetherun #teamlemieux

PS - There is still time to donate to the Mario Lemieux Foundation.  Only $1225 to goal.

Paws Over Pittsburgh:

Team RWB

Monday, 17 April 2017

Easter weekend....the heat has risen.

Photo credit: Adrienne Tolentino Essey
Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne
     This past Saturday's run was a tough one.  Not just for me, but for everyone.  You can prepare for a lot of things when it comes to running, but one factor that is always unpredictable is the weather.   Sure, we look at the forecast a week in advance and even every day leading up to a race or a big training run, but the weather can change at any moment.  When I looked at the weather first thing Saturday morning, the high temperature was supposed to be somewhere in the mid 60s.  By the time we were done running, it was almost in the mid 70s.  The sun was our greatest threat.

     The course preview run had started from Market Square and was hosted by Steel City Road Runners group.   Pro Bike And Run as well as Fleet Feet Sports were also assisting in the days festivities.  A few of us arrived early as we had 22 miles on our training schedules, and the course preview had us running 20.  We knocked those two miles out quickly, and anxiously awaited the big run to begin.  When we took off for those two miles, some of the registered runners were beginning to arrive, but by the time we got back, Market Square was flooded with over 700 excited runners ready to go.  There was a buzz in the air, too.  Everyone was brimming with excitement, and with the blue sky above, we couldn't have asked for a better day.

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne
     Then, we were all off and running (literally.)

     By the time we got to the West End Bridge, everything was going great.  All the runners in our pace group (over 80 strong) were chatty, smiling, and having a fun time.   We could feel the sun beaming down on us, but the clouds had started to roll in and the temperatures remained cool.  By our 7th mile, a few of us decided we were treating ourselves to the Milkshake Factory when we were done.   I mean, why wouldn't we?  I couldn't think of a better way to start the tapering.  By mile 11, the clouds had moved on, and the sun was shining bright.  The temperatures were also climbing.

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne
     You could tell that the heat was starting to take it's toll on a lot of us.   We went from talking about milk shakes, to trying to figure out how far we had until the next water station.  I know for me, at about mile 12, I needed to cool off in a bad way.  I desperately wanted to dump water over my head, but since I was wearing my camel back I had to wait until we reached the water stop.  I knew it was close, but it seemed like it more than miles ahead.  When we arrived, I couldn't help but dump enough water on my head as well as on my wrists at it's pressure points.   Man did that feel good.  It as just what I needed as I was able to power through the next few miles with the group.  The sun was relentless however, and there was no shade to be had anywhere.  The heat was heavily affecting me.

     I took about a 2 or 3 block break and walked just a bit, but kept telling myself I only had a few miles to go.  If I could, I should power through to the next aid station.   I was a little bit behind the pace group at this point, but I started to gain a little ground running down Liberty Avenue.  By the time I got to the final water stop, I was back with the group and ready to cool off some more.   It was getting hotter and I could tell I was pretty exhausted.   I told myself the end was near and pretty soon 20 miles would be in the books.  (I kept forgetting that I had already run 2 miles before we began.)  I poured more water on my head, down my back, on my wrists, pretty much anywhere that would cool me off.   What I really wanted to do was make a break for it and jump in the river.  I'm pretty sure I was not alone in that thinking.

Photo Credit: Diana Cannon
     At this point in the day and only three more miles to go, our pace group was being led by a woman named Alyssa Cammarata Chance.   I don't know her personally but what I do know is that this woman is an absolute beast and nothing short of a machine.  She helped a lot of runners get through the final stretches of the morning.  Full of energy, she looked at the group and asked everyone if they were ready to go.  OK, she didn't really ask; she more or less cheered it out.  With everyone answering the same way, she belted out a "let's go" followed by about 40/50 cheers of excitement.  Me?  I just half smiled trying to figure out of I could keep up.  I couldn't, but, I thought as long as everyone was within eye sight, I would just keep on going.

     I got about a half mile from the water stop and I felt a little light headed and a little queesy.  So, I did what I hate to do.  I stopped and I walked.  I wasn't ashamed of doing so, because I knew that I had no choice.  My mind knew I needed a break, and so did my body.   I had already run just over 19 miles that day and the sun was not going away any time soon.  Plus, I walk fast so there's that.  I did catch up to another runner from our group who also needed to stop so we kept each other company for about a mile.  I'm glad I chose to stop and walk because after that 15 minute walk I was feeling better and figured I could tough it out to the end.  So with the energy I had left, I picked up my pace knowing that the end was near (and so was the shade.)  And, just like that, I was done.


Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne
     It was over.  I was beat, but I was happy.  So was everyone else.  There were plenty of high fives to go around after that run.  There were also plenty of mimosas courtesy of our run coach Suzanne, and Coach Betsy brought us Easter Candy.  (They do say you should be sure to get enough protein back in your body within 45 minutes after you work out.  Peanut butter has protein.  Reece's Easter Eggs have peanut butter.  'Nuff said.)  We earned every bit of every treat that day, including those milkshakes.  Come May 7th, we'll earn those finisher medals.

     Let the tapering begin.

     Until next time, keep on running Pittsburgh.


     Chuck Hull,      The Running Jedi

PS - There is still time to donate to the Mario Lemieux foundation.  Only $45 away from the half way mark, and only $1295 from the over all goal for our fourth and final charity run.  Once $2500 is raised, I'll be able to raffle off a signed Mario Lemieux Jersey.

Friday, 14 April 2017

I'm pretty tired, yet getting excited

Coach Suzanne's group from last year's preview run.  All of our
goals have been met in 2016, and we are all still working
on 2017.
     Last year at this time, we had tackled the Marathon Course preview run.   It just so happened that is was also at this time last year where I had broken out into a really bad case of hives all over my legs.  I had to take two weeks off from running after that incident, but I still somehow managed to push through 22 miles that day.  Tomorrow, we are gearing up for the same run.   I do not have hives this go round (thankfully) but I am a little tired.   And yet, even so, I can't wait for tomorrow.

     The last few weeks, I've felt really good.  Heck, I've actually felt really great.   There were a few weeks where things just didn't seem to be going well.   My legs have felt really heavy, and it took everything in me to just keep running.   I never gave up, though.  I powered through everything and I just kept running.  I only stop when the job is done.  But, the last few weeks, something had changed.  I wasn't quite sure what, but after some thinking I may have finally figured out what works for me.

Liberty Avenue, brutal but it can be done.
Photo Credit Coach Suzanne
     One thing I've learned the last few years is that you always carb up before a long run.   I'll admit that I didn't always follow that as closely as I should have, and it probably showed.  This year I made sure to follow that regimen as much as possible and being Catholic no meat on Friday's during lent makes it a little easier.  I've made sure to have some nice spaghetti dinners at home, and even a late night bowl of cereal.  As full as I made myself (not overly stuffed, however) I still managed to not be able to sleep all that well.  I've gotten an average of 6 hours of sleep, but I usually wake up once or twice and still manage to wake up way too early before the start of a training run.   Since I couldn't sleep, I figured I might as well eat some breakfast.

     I'm really bad at breakfast before a training run.   I'll usually eat a banana and granola bar, or just a banana before a run, figuring I'd be fine.  I can tell now that I wasn't.  I needed that extra boost in the morning.  What I was doing wasn't really cutting it, nor was it helping me at all.  Now eating an egg sandwich and some potatoes, or something similar was what I've been missing.  I've felt energized.  I've actually felt awake.  It's definitely showed.

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne

     This past weekend was no different.  Up earlier that I wanted to be, I made myself a nice breakfast and headed down to the Waterfront ready to tackle 19 miles throughout the city.  The run started along the trail, into the South Side, then Oakland, etc.   We tackled a a  ton of hills (despite all of our moans and groans) and even spotted a Bald Eagle up in the trees along the trail.  The sun was shining; the temperatures were perfect.  Everyone was smiling.  You just can't beat that for a training run.

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne

     I feel like I keep repeating myself when I've said that the last few weeks just seemed to go really well.  But, it's so much more than that.  I didn't want to stop after I finished what I set out to do.  I've felt that I had it in me to keep on going, and if the marathon were on any one of those given days, I could have crossed the finish line.

     The Marathon is only a few weeks away.  Tomorrow is the course preview run.  I've logged in 468 miles of training so far, with 22 to be added tomorrow.  I'm starting to get really pumped about this race.  Sure I'm pretty tired, but it's totally worth it.

Until next time, keep on running Pittsburgh.


Chuck Hull,   The Running Jedi

Worst attempt at Jazz Hands ever.....

PS:  There is still time to donate to a good cause!

The Mario Lemieux Foundation for Chuck Hull:

Paws Over Pittsburgh for Kim Jurica:

Team Red White And Blue for Stephanie Haas:

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Like James Brown, I Feel Good

The Brave American Classic in Sewickley

     The last few weeks have been a little rough.  My long runs have not gone as well as I planned.  A few weeks ago, I ran the "Brave American Classic" in Sewickley (10k option.)  It's a nice, smaller race, and some use it to kick off their race season.   I had 15 miles scheduled for training that day, and decided to try something different.  I figured I could run from my house to the starting line, run the race, and then run home.   It worked out mileage wise, but was it a good idea?  Seemed like it at the time.  It wasn't.

     Running to the starting line was great.  The sun was shining bright and reflected beautifully off the river, and the cold didn't seem to bother me at all.  Once I got to St. Stephens Church, I met up with my friends and listened to the guest speakers prior to race start.  I was able to rest for about 20 minutes before everyone headed to the starting line.  When it was time to run, I tried to remind myself that I was in training mode.  However, once they said "go" my brain said, "nope, time to race!"  I ran way harder than I should have.  I wasn't sprinting by any means, but I was still running harder than I should, and I was trying to convince myself to slow it down a bit.  56 minutes later, I crossed the finish line and had another 20 minute rest before I headed home.   That's when things started getting a little more difficult.  Around mile 12 all I could think about was being done.  I could feel a blister on my foot and my legs felt heavier than they normally do.  Everything at that point hurt and I was feeling it.  I'm not sure if the two long breaks or running the race itself was what affected me the most.  I've never broken up a run like that before, and I probably shouldn't have.  Even though I did what I was supposed to do that day, I was not happy with how things worked out.   I was exhausted.  Looking back, the way I tackled these 15 miles was one of my worst ideas.

Add caption
     The following weekend, was the weekend of Pittsburgh's Annual St. Patrick's Day parade, and I had 17 miles on my schedule.  I ran with the Steel City Road Runners for the first time since since the kick off run.  Coach Suzanne was leading us off in the 10 minute pace group and was her her normal energetic self.   It's always a bright spot to any run.  I don't know where she gets her energy that early.   If I'm scheduled to run at 8:30, I'm only getting out of bed at 7:30.  I'm still half asleep when I check in!

Amy Egan ready to finish as well
     It was a very cold morning at roughly 19 degrees, and the wind was another story.  It was brutal!   The force of the the wind gusts were enough to slow us down a little and boy could we feel it!  (In this case, we couldn't feel anything, mostly our faces.)  I swear there were times that when some of the group were talking (myself included) everyone sounded like Clark Griswold while out looking for the Griswold family Christmas tree.  "All part of the experience Russ!"

     Our run did take us down along the parade route and we got to see some of the participants lined up along Liberty Avenue.   Everyone in the parade waiting for it to start saw us running and cheered us along and there were plenty of green high fives to go around (but not one Guiness.)  It was my favorite part of the run.  But, again, my legs felt really heavy and over all I felt awful.  It just didn't feel like my best effort.  My face was numb; I was freezing; I had another blister on my foot.  For the second weekend in a row, I was not happy with how everything went.

Stephanie Haas creeping up on another runner
     This past weekend was a different story.   I had 19 miles on the training schedule, and signed up for the Montour Trail group run with the Steel City Road Runners.  I did this run last year and really enjoyed it, so taking on the trail again seemed like a good idea.  But of course, as luck would have it, mother nature decided to treat us to a quick snow storm on Friday evening.  The snow fell pretty quickly, and it covered everything.  I immediately thought the run may be cancelled as can happen due to weather events, but this is Pittsburgh and an inch of snow is practically nothing.  It's really just enough to make everything look pretty.  (Yes, I said pretty.)  I really hoped that the run would not be cancelled.  I wanted to run in the snow and the beauty that it can bring.  I know, I'm a freak and most people hate the winter and the snow, but I'm not one of those people.
Jeanann Haas crossing the finish line.
     We had a decent sized 10:00 minute pace group, led by Coach Suzanne once more.  Our path on the trail first led us towards Oakdale/Imperial approx. 4.5 miles up and then back to the start.  The snow wasn't even a factor as it had been beaten down pretty well by the group.  The rising temperatures were helping as well.  By the time we hit the turn around there was a noticeable difference on the trail.  Most of the snow was gone or it had turned to slush.  Things were looking pretty good.

     Through all my training last year, I learned that most of the gels and goos that runners ingest don't work for me.  They kill my stomach.  I pretty much stopped using them, however I didn't bring much of anything with me on this run.   My camelback had a leak and I was losing water at a steady rate.  All the groups runs will have water stops, and at times, gels and goos.  On Saturday, it was no different.  There were boxes of Honey Stinger goos at the water stop, and I decided I should take one around mile six.  I was worried about what it would do to my stomach but this box were packets of actual honey, which I love.  This may not have been a bad idea at all.

     At this point, we were 9 miles in and I had 10 to go.  I was feeling really good.  Since we were back at the starting point of the run, the group decided to go in the opposite direction on the trail for a change of scenery (towards the Robinson Mall and YMCA.)  The number of runners in our group had also changed as there were not as many as there were in the beginning.  The longer the miles, the less people you have to run with.  That's not really a bad thing as not everyone is on the same training schedule.  But, it does start to get a little less chatty and a bit increasingly quiet and lonely.  The next water stop was at our 11.5 mile mark so I grabbed another Honey Stinger, but held of on eating it.  I still felt really good and not tired at all, so I figured I would wait.  At mile 13.5 I lost the last two people running with me so I was on my own the rest of the way.  That's when It got really lonely.

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne
     The trail wasn't as clean as the first direction we ran, so the work was a littler harder on the way back.  I could feel the difference in my stride, my steps, and overall movement of my body.  I could tell I was working harder.  Not only that, but the quiet was getting to me.  There was an active gun range nearby around mile 14 and at that particular point in time it sounded pretty deafening.  Part of me started thinking, "what if I get hit with a stray bullet?"  My mind was starting to get to me.  Here I was alone on the trail and even with my music playing all I could think about was what could go wrong.  Would I slip and pull a muscle?  Would I roll my ankle?  Would I just flop over?  At that point, it was time to stop with the negative and focus on the positive.

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne
     I started to think of pretty much anything that would make me laugh or smile.   I thought about some of stupid things I've done or said in the past that I could look at now with a face palm and chuckle. I laughed at really bad wardrobe choices, and I laughed at really bad hair styles.  I smiled at the thought of finishing my second marathon, and even my third later in the year in Chicago.  I thought about all the fun I have with my girlfriend and her girls as well as their support.  I thought about my friends and family who've been with me since day once of these misadventures, and the continuance of them.  I thought about my fundraisers and the real reason for all of this training and for whom I run.  I can't let any of them down, now can I?  I though about my last blog post.  All of this seemed to help because before I knew it, mile 19 beeped on my Garmin, and I was done.  Not only that, but I felt really great!  Sure my legs were sore and tired, but not like they were the past two weekends.  If I had to go another 7 that day, I would have.  For the first time this training season, I felt that confident in myself and round two with the Pittsburgh Marathon.

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne

     It really is like everyone has always told me.  Not every mile can be a good mile, and that's nothing to be ashamed of or disappointed by.  But, when you feel good, great even, you'll know it, and you'll feel like you can tackle anything that is thrown at you.   I know Saturday I felt that way, and come May 7th, I'll be damn sure I feel that way again.

Until next time, keep on running Pittsburgh.


Chuck Hull....The Running Jedi.

#runpgh #teamlemieux #pawasoverpittsburgh #lovetherun

Please remember you can donate to a great cause, and you have options to do so!

The Mario Lemieux Foundation (if we raise $2500, I'll raffle off another Signed Lemieux Jersey!  Only $1500 away!)

Paws Over Pittsburgh for Kimberly Jurica as well!

Photo Credit: Coach Suzanne, St. Patrick's Day Green Run

Thursday, 2 March 2017

I'm Not The Same Man I Once Was

My license photos from 2009 (top left), 2013 (bottom left)
and 2017 (right)  The newest one looks like a very different person.
     It's been about a month since I last wrote anything.  March is upon us and we're roughly in the middle of our training.  It's been a busy month between work and training and every day life, but I wanted to put something together while it's fresh on my mind.

     I ran 18 miles as part of my training this past weekend.  The weather wasn't the best at the start of my run, but it did start to clear up, and the rest of the run went very well.  My girlfriend and I were able to run some of those miles together and it capped off a great workout for both of us.  We met in the middle of my schedule, and when she was done, I finished off what I needed to do.   I felt good.  She felt good.  Not a bad day at all.

     A few weeks back, I had 14 miles on my schedule, and I didn't feel quite that same way.  Things did not go as well as I had hoped or planned.  I ran in town along some of the marathon course and other sections of the city.   It was just me, my music, and the cold temps.  About 10 miles in I felt like I was out of gas and couldn't go on.  But, I knew I had to do so.  I'm too stubborn to just quit, no matter how bad I'm feeling.  I did get a text from Kim shortly there after and I replied to let her know what I was up to and how I felt.  I was just about exhausted.  Kim said not to worry because I "got this."  That little push from her always seems to flip a switch in my head and always seems to give me that extra boost I need to finish.  Even this past weekend her encouraging words kept me going.  I only had about a mile or two left and I heard the text notification on my phone.  I had it feeling it was Kim to give me that nudge, and finished strong. (It was, by the way.)

My 20 year high school reunion back in 2011.
Not setting fashion statements in this one.
     When I run, I do a lot of thinking, a lot of inner reflection (especially on the longer runs.)  Last year when I was at this point, I wasn't sure I could do it.  Before every long run, I was terrified of what I was setting out to do.   That is where a support system comes into play.  I was able to complete every mile and reach every goal.  However, even this year, I still struggle because for me, it doesn't seem to get easier.  Should it?  You'd think so, but should it get easier?  I ask myself that question a lot.  In my head I'm also asking "why are you doing this?  What makes you think you can do this?  Who are you?  You can't handle this." And, that's just it.  I can. I have.  That's because I'm not the man I once was.

     About a month ago, I pulled out an old hard drive that I used to use for DJing.   There are pictures stored on there from as far back as 2007 and older.  I've saved almost every pictures from over 10 years ago.   I started looking through some of them and I kept thinking to myself, "who is this guy?  This isn't me."  I'll be honest; I looked at every single one.  It sort of bummed me out.  Each one I clicked through I started to feel a little ashamed of my self.   I can't explain why.  I'm not really sure if there is an explanation.  It made me wonder what I've been doing for the past 10 years, the past 20.

Cleveland about 3 or so years ago,
still heavier than I wanted to be.
     I've always been the type of person that just wanted to entertain.  I wanted to be able to make everyone laugh and smile.  I never really took the time to do those things for myself, though.  I had so much running through my mind as I continued clicking.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I was finding it difficult to even come up with 10.  Sure there were a lot of great memories from family functions, concerts, and weddings, but there were also a lot of memories that I no longer wanted.  I may had been smiling, my smile didn't seem genuine, as least not now.  Was I truly happy back then?  Deep down I realize now that I wasn't, and I can admit that.  So with one last look I did something I didn't think I would ever do: I started to delete these pictures, these memories.  This was not how I wanted to remember myself.  I did the same on Facebook, even removing tags in a lot of shared photos.

     Flash forward again to 2013, when I ran my first half marathon.  I felt pretty good about it, and felt proud.  I smiled in way I never had before.  I never thought I would do something like that again (let alone run a full marathon) but as most runners can tell you once you cross the finish line you get an itch.  You get this little twinge on the back of your neck that screams for more.   But, I still didn't seem too focused, a least not just yet.

Stella's Christening in 2013, around 210
     As started out  and began running, not much had really changed.  I never adjusted some of my habits so I wasn't really making any progress.  In my mind I knew what I wanted, but I still sort of blew things off.  It took almost another full year to realize this when I was back up in weight.  I still wasn't the me I knew I could be.

    Now, they say that girls mature faster than boys, and that could very much well be the truth.  Why did it take so long for me to finally have things click?   I'll may never be able to answer that, but what I can tell you is that running helped save me from a lot of things,  Most of all it saved me from me.  I stopped doubting myself.  I stopped saying I can't and began saying I can.  I started to believe in me.  With that simple though everything began falling into place.  My priorities changed and so did my habits.  I dropped a lot of weight.  I became more focused.  I became more driven.

     Running has helped me gain a sort of clarity, a clarity that's eluded me for a long time.  It's helped me to see what's truly important and what really matters most.  I've been able to take a few steps forward in my career after always taking a few steps back (when I was always afraid to even move at all!)  It's helped me be a better boyfriend, a better friend, a better brother, and a better son.

2011 vs. 2016
     It may have taken a very long time to realize a lot of things but again I say I'm not the same man I once was, but I do like what I am now.  And,  what I happy.

Until next time....keep on running Pittsburgh.

Sinceriously yours,

Chuck Hull......the Running Jedi.

#runpgh #lovetherun #teamlemieux #teampaws #pghmarathon

PS: Don't forget to donate to a worthy cause!!!!

The Mario Lemieux Foundation:

Paws Over Pittsburgh for Kimberly Jurica:

Let's help do some good in the world...and let's help happy.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

50 Miles for 50 Years

     Just when I think I couldn't be any crazier, I get crazier.   I've not even run the marathon yet this year and I'm already looking ahead to the next challenge.  I did the unthinkable.  I've just made this year's Pittsburgh Marathon a training run.

      Wait a minute.  Let's think about that.  26.2 miles is training?  Are you kidding me?  Nope.  I'm not.   I signed up for the Hell Hath No Hurry trail run again this year, but instead of the 50k option like I ran last year, I signed up for the 50 mile option.  This is not a type, nor did I do that by accident by confusing "k" with "m."  I did this on purpose.  Heck, I did this for a purpose: this one is for my parents.

     Come August 8th, this year will mark my parents 50th wedding anniversary.   It's hard to believe that they have been together that long, but they have.  It's not always been smooth sailing, but what relationship doesn't have it's speed bumps here or there?  Not matter what they may have struggled with, they are still together, every day, by each other's sides.   They are my heroes.

      I've love to introduce them a little bit to you.   First, let's go with my dad.

      My dad is Charles Andrew Hull.  He was a Navy man so you can see why I joined.  He also worked for P & LE Rail Road for a time.  He was attending the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics when he suffered a stroke at the age of 44, the same age I turned today.  It was a struggle and a big life changing event, but it's been something that he was able to overcome.  It's been 26 years since that has happened, and I've seen him grow stronger each and every day since then.  At the time it happened, I was only 18, and getting ready to graduate high school.   I'll be honest that I didn't know how to handle it.  My dad had almost died, and I really didn't know or understand the severity of his situation.  I kind of just shrugged it off, figuring he was fine, and only visited him in the hospital once.  He was there for about 2 or 3 weeks.   I was his oldest son, and kind of a jerk.  But, I was scared.   My dad wasn't supposed to be there.  He was Batman to me.  He was a Jedi.  He could do anything and I just couldn't handle seeing him so vulnerable.  I don't know what I would have done without him if he hadn't survived that stroke.  But, what I do know is what I've done with him because that stroke didn't take him away from me, or my family.  I continued to learn from him (and still do.)  I am able to still talk to him every day.  I was able to help him celebrate his 70th birthday just a few weeks ago.  My dad once said to me that it seemed everytime he was at the top of the ladder ready to climb out of that hole, something seemed to kick him back down into it.  That's never stopped him though.  He just gets right back up, dusts himself off, and climbs right back up that ladder.   After all he's been through, he's still a Jedi Batman, and he's still my dad, and the best man I know.

Father's Day Dinner.
An oldie: My sister Jodi, me, my sister Jamie, and my dad.
Like father like son.

    My mom is Ruth Ann Hull.  She was attending college at the same time my dad was at P.I.A.  She started school attending CCAC and continued her education and graduated from Kent State University.  Right before graduation, she had a minor accident in the kitchen where she had broken her leg.  That didn't matter, because a simple broken leg was not going to keep her from getting her diploma.   My mom now has a career as a Physical Therapy Assistant.  You'd think as a runner having a mom who is a P.T.A. would benefit me a lot but she one time said to me "my boss says stretching doesn't really do much but if you do stretch, do it after you run and not before it."  I'm pretty bad at both.  My mom has a great sense of humor, but don't let her fool you.  She gets a good zinger in here or there and her mind can be as twisted as mine.  Sure, she's my mom and I really shouldn't crack the jokes that I do when I'm hanging out with her, but every now and again she comes out at you like a ninja with a "that's what she said."  It can be disturbing, but it's absolutely great!  She loves to collect things such as salt and pepper shakers, and other little trinkets and nick-knacks (and then see how much she can sell them for on E-bay, even though she doesn't.)  She absolutely loves being a grandma, but she'll still tell you she's 39 when her birthday draws near in July.  My mom isn't Batman, but she sure as hell is Wonder Woman.

My mom looking stunning on 7th Ave. in Coraopolis in the 70s.
My mom and Santa

     My parents have raised 5 children, and each of us have grown up and moved out.  Because of that, they get to do the sort of things you would hope any parent will do when they finally get their freedom.  They get to travel and do the sorts of things together that they deserve.  Every year, my parents are able to attend a Naval Reunion for the Aircraft Carrier that my dad served on.  (He was a DJ on board that ship.  My dad and I have so many similarities as you can see.)  They've gone to St. Louis, San Francisco, Denver, parts of Alabama and Florida, pretty much everywhere.  They recently went to Atlantic City where they gave para sailing a shot.  When I looked at the pictures of them doing that, the pictures speak volumes of the love that they have shared for 50 years, as well as how strong they are together no matter what obstacle had come their way.

    If my parents can survive every challenge that 50 years of marriage can throw their way, I can survive every challenge that 50 miles of trail running can throw my way.   They've made it this far, and I'll make it that far.  It seems like this race is a a ways off, but January flew by and it's already February 1st.  Before you know it, June 24th, 2017 will be here, and I'll be there bright and early for a 6:00 A.M. start.  This one is for you mom and dad.  I love you both.  (Well, duh!)


Chuck Hull.....the Running Jedi

#50milesfor50years, #HHNH #runpgh #lovetorun

PS - I've added some random pictures below of my folks.  Some they probably don't even know I took, scanned, and put back before they knew I had them.

PPS - In lieu of Happy Birthday wishes: DONATE to some GREAT CAUSES!

#teamlemieux for #therunningjedi

$2501 is the goal to raffle off a signed Mario Lemieux jersey, $701 raised to date.  Almost there!

#PawsOverPittsburgh #furbabbies

Goal of $350, $210 raised to day.  Almost There!  Signed Pens memorabilia raffled to one lucky person that donates!

My dad ad my baby sister Julie.
Boot Camp Graduation
Awkward teen age pose with his parents
as graduation.
Me, my mom, my sister Julie, and a small goat...
That big wheel is bigger than me!

My mom and her parents.