Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Judge Me By My Size, Do You?

     We all know who said the quote I used as my title.   That is, most of us know.  Even though said by a fictional character, those words are pretty powerful.  I've thought about them a lot as I get closer to running my fourth marathon.  I think about them as I try and take a second crack at that 50 mile race this summer.  Sure I've got plenty of goals, but even still I look at myself and think, "how can I do this?  How in the world am I able to do this?"  The answer is a simple one: I'm an athlete.

OMG! I'm shirtless!
     When I decided to run my first marathon I wasn't sure what to expect.  I knew it would be a hard thing to do, but I also knew that with the right training I'd be able to cross that finish line.  After one of my longest runs during my first training cycle, I posted something on Facebook about how athletic I had become.  I mentioned that I was never an athlete growing up, but now I really felt like I was.  However in the comments, someone told me I wasn't.  I was taken aback by this.  What?  Are you kidding me?  The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.  What gave this person the right to say that?  I realize that may have been their opinion, but it still fired me up.  I can't quote the post verbatim, but the gist of it was, "I don't really consider you an athlete.  I feel it's more determination than athleticism.  Don't get me wrong, I couldn't run a mile if I tried and I think it's awesome what you are doing."  I was so mad I took to the streets and pounded out 10 miles.  But, to quote Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi,  "everything you just said is wrong."

     How am I not athletic or an athlete?   Is it because I don't get paid to do this?  Is it because I don't have the typical body associated with being an athlete?  Honestly, I'm not sure what the reason is.  When I think about that statement, I think about all the sports I watch and regularly enjoy.  I think about all the athletes I admire.  I see the things that they do that I maybe cannot.  Perhaps they would look at me and think the same thing.  But, would they look at me and try to tell me I'm not an athlete?  Would they take one look at my physique and laugh saying, "dude you're just determined, not athletic."  I don't think so.  I may not look the part, but I be darned if I don't play the part, and play the part well.

  One thing that I was told was correct, however.  Running and finishing a marathon is determination.  Why wouldn't it be?  I set out to start, and I set out to finish.  The minute I cross the starting line I'm determined to finish.  So are other athletes.  A football player is determined to get to the Super Bowl.  A hockey player is determined to get to the Stanley Cup Final.  They are all determined to step onto the field or out on the ice, and they are determined to finish a champion.  (Bob Nutting, however, is determined to tick off Pirate fans on a continued basis.)  Now I realize I may never actually win a marathon, but that doesn't change my determination and it certainly doesn't make me less of an athlete.  I focus on the task at hand, my goals, my race, and my improvement.  It's what you do, too.  It's what any athlete does.

Totally need to eat more spinach

     When I see myself in the mirror, I remember what I used to look like just a few short years ago.  I would look at myself and never once think that I was an athlete.  I was heavier then, but I have lost 65-75 pounds since.  I'm still a little overweight, contrary to the popular belief of my being "skinny."  I'm still working on what I want myself to look like, but I'm no longer ashamed of what I actually look like.   It takes a lot to admit that.  But you know what, I am who I am and I should have never have been ashamed in the first place.  I'm certainly not ashamed now.  I may not appear to be what someone would picture and athlete to look like, but does a 350 pound lineman?  I'm sorry but perceptions can be pretty ridiculous when you stop and think about them.  No matter my size one thing is for certain:  I was and am still running, and running quite well.

     Now, a 350 pound line man does the same thing that we do.  He gives it his all.  He plays the game until the clock hits zero at the end of the fourth quarter.  Would I look at his size and think, "wow, he's pretty big.  He's not really an athlete or a football player."  Good lord, no.  Realistically, he would probably kill me for saying that!  But again, that thought would never once cross my mind anyway.  You know why?  Judge him by his size, I do not.  Just because he's 350 pounds does not make him any less an athlete than my size makes me.  I dare anyone to look that gentleman in the eye and try to tell him he's not an athlete and that he's just determined to finish the game.  I'm not going to do that, and neither are you.

These rolls used to be bigger. I cut back on the butter

Eh, what can you do?  Well, maybe some
sit ups.
     Maybe I'm not an athlete because I'm a runner.  Well that's just poppycock and couldn't be further from the truth.  Running was one of the first forms of athletic competition.  It's also a part of darn near every sport out there.  Heck, it's even in the name of a football player's position, the running back.  Without running, sports and athletic competitions would probably be boring.  Could you imagine football if everyone walked instead of ran?  What about soccer?  Not too exciting now, are they?  You see my point don't you?  Most athletes have to have the ability to run.  It's an a equals b kind of thing here, folks.  If running is a sport and sports involve athletes, running is athletic.

     Just about every athlete out there has to run at some point.  It helps to make them stronger and helps with their endurance.  It helps them to maintain focus and helps them to reach their end game.  It helps with their determination.  Running does the same thing for me, and it may do the same thing for you.  Right now I can look at myself and still think I do not look like your typical athlete.  But, I won't let anyone tell me I'm not.  You shouldn't either.  That's because we are runners, and more importantly because we...are athletes. (I just also happen to be a Jedi.)

     The bottom line is I don't let my image deter me from doing what I like to do, from what I love to do.  For far too long I had this image in my head of what I should look like as a runner and as an athlete.  I just happened to forget what I truly look like when I run.

     I look happy.

     Until next time Pittsburgh, keep on running.


Chuck Hull
The Running Jedi

Please do consider donating to the Mario Lemieux foundation.  My goal is to raise $2500, and we are at $375.   I've love to get there as quickly as possible so I can raffle of some mad prizes!  If we raise $1000 by Superbowl Sunday,  I'll root for the Cheatriots and sport a Tom Brady jersey.  (Blah!)

To see what kind of prizes we are raffling off, click this link:

Interested in running the Pittsburgh Marathon, The Half Marathon, Kids Race, Marathon Realy?  Use this code to receive $10.00 of your registration: HULLDSGPM18

Register Here:

This Friday it's 100 days 'til race day! Check for information here:

Join myself and SCRR for the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon kick off run on Saturday, February 3rd!  Register here:

Don't forget to fuel up with Honey Stinger products!  They are not only a great source of fuel on your long runs, but also pretty tasty!  (Gluten free products available, too!)

(Sometimes I like mine chilled and on ice....  aka...dropped in the snow on accident.)

Friday, 19 January 2018

2018 Mario Lemieux Foundation Fund Raising Campaign

Time to do something crazy again?

     As in years past (the last 4) I will again be running for the Mario Lemieux Foundation.  Each year the goal has been to raise $2500.00.   We've been able to achieve that each of the four years so far.  I have been honor to be able to raise money, as well as blessed to know all of you that have donated.  It really is a blessing, and I could not be more proud of everyone I know with every hard earned dollar that they donate.

Team Lemieux, 4 years running
     The first year I ran for charity, we had a little fun with the fundraiser.  We were able able to raffle off some great prizes including signed Mario Lemeiux Memorabilia!  I've was happy to be able to give back.  I'd like to do that again this year and I will, but I would like to be able to give back to all of you and not just a few lucky winners.

Men's Training Gear
     This year, I would like to give everyone an unofficial marathon finisher medal.  It won't be the medal that we get for crossing the finish line, but it will be something that I am able to design and give to you all.   Everyone that donates $10.00 or more will receive a custom made Pittsburgh Marathon Team Lemieux finisher medal.  Again, this is by my design and may not be too fancy (because I'm not really an artist) nor is it in an official medal provided by the foundation or the Pittsburgh marathon.

Some of the other wonderful prizes I'd like to present to some of you are:

Women's Training Gear
     - At $750 raised, we will raffle two $25.00 Amazon Gift Cards

     - At $1250 raised, we would like to raffle off a signed Mario Lemieux oil painting, complete with a certificate of authentication.

     - At $1500 raised, I will raffle off a P3R 10 Year Anniversary training shirt.

Should we try this again?  Oh god no.....
     - If we raise $2000 by February 28th, I will do something that I've done before, but that was four years ago.  The first year that I ran for charity, we raised over $5600.00.  To do this, I wore a dress to a Pens game (as seen above as some of you remember) as well as while DJing.  I've since retired from DJing, but I am in a band.  With that being said, my band will be playing at the Hangar in Moon Township on Saturday March 3rd.  If we raise $2000 by February 28th, I will perform our entire show while wearing a dress.   I get that this was fun and silly the last time I chose this option, but I never wanted to do it again (one and done, right?)  I still don't want to do it again, but what a sight to see, right?  What say you folks?

     - Lastly, once we do hit the $2500 goal, I will run all 26.2 miles in a full flamingo suit.  You've seen the suit many times.  I've given the suit a "test run."   It can be done, and it will be done as long as we hit the goal!  Also, one of YOU will win a signed Mario Lemieux hockey Helmet!!!!

26.2 miles dressed like this????
     I'll also have many other prizes to raffle off throughout the campaign, such as some Honey Stinger prizes, etc.   All we need is your support, as we have had it in the past.  What say you folks?  Let's do this one more time!


Chuck Hull
The Running Jedi

#runpgh #10yearsrunning #runnerofsteel #HSHive #26miles26dedications

Click here to donate!


Friday, 12 January 2018

I'm Freezing My Achilles Off!

     Wow, has it been a chilly few weeks!  Ok, I lied.  It's pretty much been freezing!  But, that doesn't really stop me or many others that I know from running.  Pittsburgh Marathon training season is upon us, and as they like to say: GAME ON PITTSBURGH!

Left to Right: Amy Egan, Stephanie Haas, Sara Majetic
Me, Dana Salada
     It was a pretty busy fall for me.  When I look back, I had competed in a race every week over a 12 week span.   It seemed like all I was doing was running! (I was.)  It all started with the Great Race, and ended with the Trot for Tots where I competed in both the 5k and 10k options.  I mean, I had the time, so why not?  But, what most of you may not have know is that one of those races happened to be the 100th race that I would start since I began on this journey so many years ago.

     Now mind you, of those 100 races I included the Great Race of 1997 as well as the Big Boy Classic of 1999.   One of those was 20 years ago, but I ran them.  I finished them.  I still have my bibs.  Simply put, they count.  But, the journey did not truly begin until 2011 when I ran The Great Race for the first time since '97 and then the following year when I ran my first 5K: The Run Around The Square.  I really has been one heck of a journey.  You already know some of those stories, but what about race number 100?  Which one was it?  How did I do?  How did I celebrate?

     I'll be honest when I say I had no idea that I had run this many races.  All of my race bibs were in a box, and I felt it was time to organize them.  I placed them in a folder and noted times, dates, etc.  I even made sure to mark which bibs counted for two separate races.  It's weird but as I checked each bib, I also remembered each race.   I truly mean that.  I have some very vivid memories of each one.  The best part of those races are the many people I've met and can now call a friend, as well as the friends I've already had that decided to join me.  These are some pretty awesome memories to have, and as we all know memories last a lifetime.  Not every race had gone my way, but every race was still something that I could smile about, regardless of the outcome.

     As most people that know me, I like to be organized in some way shape or form.  All my CDs are alphabetical.   My music files are broken down by eras on my DJ computer.  Organization was no different for my bibs.  I created a spreadsheet and started to input all of the the data that I had written on each one.  I have multiple tabs where I've broken down the different distances, as well as a master tab showing all races on one sheet.  That tab is what tipped me off to my running habit.  It was just after the Chicago Marathon that I realized I was getting really close to running 100 races.  Holy worn out shoes Bat Man!  When I plugged in my upcoming races, it turned out the the Trot For Tot's 5K would be that magical number.  I wanted my dearest friends to be there with me, and I wanted us all to run together.  So, we did.

     OK, I lied again.  We didn't run together.  We started out together but as my legs would have it, I took off like I tend to do.  I thought, "if this is number 100, you better make it a good one."   I always try to remind myself that you can't PR every race, and you won't, but since this was such a milestone, I wanted to see what I had in the tank.  I participated in this particular race two years prior, and had my best 5K finish to date on that day, so I wanted to beat that time this go round.  In 2015, I finished with a time of 24 minutes and 30 seconds.  Guest what!  Yeah, that didn't happen.

Channeling my inner Barry Goldgerg at the finish of
Trot for Tots 5k, race number 100.
     I finished this one in a time of 25 minutes and 45 seconds.  I was so close!  Even thought I didn't topple that time, I still had sense of euphoria wash over me.  I did it.  Race number 100 was in the books.  There was a ticket tape parade going on in my head (no seriously, there was.)  I felt very proud of this, and was glad that my friends were there to help celebrate.  Brian and Sara was at the finish taking pictures, and then I waited and cheered while Amy, Steph, and Dana finished their runs.  what an awesome feeling.  But, I wasn't done just yet.

Sorry girls, this is a good finish face!
     I signed up for the 10K race, too.  (I was pretty consistent time wise for that particular race.  I ran time of 56:01 in 2015, and finished in 56:04 for race number 101.)  As my friends and I were walking to the starting line, they all told me to hurry up because it was really cold (it was.)  No pressure there, right?

     My girlfriend Edyta had texted me good luck earlier in the morning and that she wished she could be there.  I told her not to worry.  It was her day off and she needed to sleep in.  Soon after, I was off an running for the second time that morning.  I saw quite a few people I recognized on that second run and as we do, we cheered each other on as we ran.  I wanted to take it easy, but I also wanted to get back as soon as possible because I had beer in my car so my friends and I could finally toast to race number 100.  As Christmas music played on my phone, I just kept thinking about how I got to this point even more than I already had in the week leading up to that race.  I was also "Whamboozled" and out of the Wham "Last Christmas" Whamageddon battle royal.   I completely forgot I added that to my play list (don't judge me!)  Oops.  Anyhow, I was still running well, feeling well, and I was almost done.  I could almost taste that ice cold beer!

Joe. what did you do to the bottle?
     As the finish line came within site, I saw a group of people standing there and they started to cheer.  Of course a few again yelled, "hurry up, we're freezing!"  I just smiled.  I thought, "they must have told everyone there that I just finished my 100th race or something because we did not have that big of a group over an hour ago"  As I got closer, I heard some voices and noticed some faces.  What the.....????

     Unbeknownst to me, Edyta had reached out to a bunch of my friends to organize a little cheering party.  I could tell the look on my face was one of confusion, and I thought to myself, "What the heck are they doing here?  She's supposed to sleep in!"  Edyta even had t-shirts made and party favors for everyone.   I was humbled and a little over come with emotion (I'm a sentimental guy.)  Actually, let me correct that.  I did get choked up.

Edyta and I after race 100.  Her daughter
Zosia made me this crown.
     As I realized what was going on, I picked up the pace to cross the finish line but that left me a little short of breath.  I had to stop for a few minutes after finishing just so that I could breathe.  It was when I finally looked up and saw everyone that I had had to fight back the happy tears and that stupid lump in my throat.  How dare they do that to me!  My buddy Joe made an attempt to pop open a bottle of champagne, but it was so cold the bottle broke.   It was a good thing I had beer in my car!  With a celebratory toast and an Eat and Park breakfast, the morning was done.  I really did it.  But, more importantly, we did it.

Cheers everyone!
     One thing I always like to emphasize is that this crazy journey of mine truly is not just mine.  It's ours.  I wouldn't be doing the things I'm doing now if it wasn't for everyone I have in my life.  I want to always honor them and make them proud.  I want to make myself proud and my family proud.  But more importantly, I want every step I take to have meaning behind it.  100 races and counting, they do, and they always will.

Back: Sara Majetic, Joe Glozzer, Trever Booher, Kat Vancko, Bryan Diana
Middle: Chrissie Boden, Ana Booher
Row behind me: Zosia and her friend, Edyta, Bryan Benson
Amy Egan, Dana Salada, Stephanie Haas
     With that being said, keep on running Pittsburgh.  Let's run the next 100 together, but more importantly, let's never stop.


Chuck Hull, The Running Jedi (more pics below!)

Please donate to the MARIO LEMIEUX FOUNDATION!   Goal is $2500 raised.  We're $2250 way.

If we raise $750 by Feb 1st: 2 $25 Amazon Gift Cards will be raffled off
If we raise $1250 by Valentines day:  A signed Mario Lemieux oil painting will be raffled off!

I'll have some other prizes throughout the campaign, as well!

$2500 raised, I'll run the marathon in the Flamingo Suit!  Who doesn't want to see that!

Click here to donate:

Also, $10 if you sign up for the Pittsburgh Marathon, Half Marathon, or 5K!
Use this code: HULLDSGPM18

5k Start. I still have hair in the back!


Sorry girls, more good faces!
10k Start
Front shot of the pic above.
Gotta make the usual faces
So do they!  Last one, I swear.
Uh...what's going on?
Still puzzled
Can't breathe.....
Can't breathe and confused....
A crowning achievement
Everyone waiting for me to finish