Friday, 11 May 2018

The 4th is Strong In This One

     Wow.  What a weekend this past weekend had been.  Words cannot even begin to describe the things I was thinking and feeling over Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend, 2018.  However, I'm going to do my best to put all of that right here on paper (figuratively.)  This may be long, so I hope you all ready to the end.  There may be a slight intermission halfway through the post.

Your 2018 Pittsburgh Marathon Bloggers
     The weekend for me started off with an invitation to the VIP event held at the Westin Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.  All of the official bloggers had received an invite and I was looking forward to seeing a few of them again, as well as getting to meet some that I had not gotten a chance to meet just yet.  I also wanted to get a chance to see and possibly meet some of the elite runners because quite frankly I was not really sure who they were.   I knew most of them were Olympic athletes, and who wouldn't want to meet an Olympian?  Lo and behold, when the time came for speeches, we were collectively introduced to all of the elite runners competing for the USATF Half Marathon Championships.  By the end of my evening, I did approach the table where they were seated as I truly wanted to meet them, as well as have some of them sign my Pittsburgh Marathon Edition Brooks shoes.  So cool!  Not only did I have the elite runners sign them, my fellow bloggers signed as well.  I knew I was never going to wear these shoes, so I wanted to add something special to them.  Thank you to all who did so.

Gotta have one fun pose!
     When Saturday morning arrived, I was helping to pace the 5k race.  I stuck to my training plan and went with the 10:00/per mile pace along with fellow blogger Sara Angelilli and her husband Aaron both of whom I met this year on the group runs with the Steel City Road Runners.  We had a lot of fun during this short race.   I think we were about half way done where we had met a little boy of 8 years old named Jax.  We found out that Jax had surgery earlier in the year to remove his left calf muscle and through all his physical therapy, he had trained to run his first 5k.  His mother told him to stay ahead of us as he was doing great.  We did the same.  We were coming through the final stretches and on the the Roberto Clemente bridge I saw that Jax had fallen back a little bit.  As we got closer to the finish, we slowed just a step or two and started to cheer runners on past us.  Who wants to let a 45 year old man with pink hair cross the finish line before they do?  I'm pretty sure no one does!

     As my fellow pacers crossed the finish line I hesitated because I saw Jax.   I understood how hard he worked to finish this race so as they got close to me I yelled to him "I'm not crossing this finish line until you do!"  And with that Jax finished his race.  I stopped to watch the joy on his face as well as his parents and siblings.   Jax's mom embraced him as he couldn't fight back tears of joy.   What an incredible story and an incredible finish.   It's moments like this that make me happy I decided to approach this year as not only a runner, but a pacer.

Jax is the second boy on the left.
     After the race, I volunteered at the expo for a few hours, then met up with my girlfriend Edyta to rest and have dinner with friends of ours.   As we all carb and protein loaded in preparation for our races, it was soon time to go to sleep and rest as much as we could.  It would be a long morning in just a few short hours.  In true big race fashion, I woke up about every hour and managed maybe 5 hours of sleep.  That's really par for the course.  Edyta and I made our way to the downtown Westin Hotel where the Steel City Road Runners always have a bag drop for it's members, as well as a banquet room for breakfast and resting.  It was the calm before the storm.  I was approached to see if I would like to do a live interview with Channel 4 as they were looking for someone fun.  I'm not sure where they got that idea.

   Being interviewed live was one of the coolest things I had ever done.  I mean, I've done some cool things before but having an ear piece and hearing one of our local news anchors ask me questions was just so neat!  (That's right, neat!)  I was able to talk a little about my blog and why I was running in the suit, as well as the vibe of the marathon in general.  I'm not sure what happened in my brain, but I think because I was on live TV that it automatically knew to turn off the "sailor mouth" switch in my head.  Whew! #didnotneedasensor

    The interview was done, the groups pictures were taken care of, I kissed Edyta for luck and wished her a good run, and off I went to my coral.  As the anticipation in the air grew, so did my nervousness.  It's not like I haven't done this before, but when it comes to running I do my best to always be better than the last time.  Although I finished Chicago, it was not a good race for me.  You may have read about that back in October of 2017.  Sure I was happy with it, but here I getting ready to start marathon number four and I just wanted it to go better.  Even though I was running in a wacky suit, I still just wanted to be better.  No matter how much I told myself in my head to not worry about a PR and simply have fun, I still simply had to be better.
Myself and the winner of the USATF Half
Marathon Championships for the Women
Aliphine Tuliamk

     Prior to the leaving for the race, I noticed that Edyta changed her Facebook profile picture to what looked like a cartoon caricature of me and my pink hair.  She was a little elusive about it, and I soon found out why.  Within the first mile I see on a t-shirt, that same face.   I slowed just a hair and all I could think was, "what in the?"  It took me a few seconds to realize that was my friend Bryan standing there pretending to look like he didn't know what was going on.  I was right on top of him (figuratively folks, keep it clean) and just looked at him and yelled, "what the heck is that?  You're nuts! Seriously?"  He just laughed at me and cheered me on.  I couldn't help but laugh as well.   Goofball. 

     As we hit the turn and came down Penn Avenue in the Strip Distict, there was Bryan again, shirt open in a Superman stance and laughing some more.   He turned around and on the back of the shirt there was more: Beer Man, Athletic Supporter, etc.   I shook my head and laughed some more and kept on trucking.  I knew my legs felt good so I stopped to use a port-o-potty real quick.  I waited about a minute and decided forget it.  The adrenaline was kicking and I couldn't just stop and stand there.  I wanted to get back to my race.  While stopped I noticed how warm I was getting in the suit.  Even though the blazer had short sleeves, it was still pretty heavy and warm.  The temps were in the lower 50's but a jacket is a jacket.  That would soon change.   There was a breeze kicking in and the air was just a touch cooler.  I was really liking this!

     One of the things I began to notice in those first 5 to 6 miles was that I kept hearing my name.  When you think about it, with over 27 thousand runners, there will more than likely be more than one guy named Chuck running.   However, this was different.  I heard, "It's Chuck!"  "There's the flamingo guy!"  "I saw you on the news!  You're awesome Chuck!"   This was so freaking cool!  A quick four minute interview on the news and I suddenly not only had my friends and family cheering me one, but also the entire city of Pittsburgh (well it looked that way anyway!)  I know people come out in droves to cheer all runners on, but this still felt pretty awesome.  These people didn't know me and only caught a glimpse of me, but they still kept yelling my name.  It was like my Honey Stinger gels:  fuel for my run!

Hey look everyone, it's Ian!
     As I approached the mile 7 marker in the West End, something caught my eye, or more like someone.  I saw a runner that looked like Ian from the Pirates 10k.  It was Ian!  The odds of bumping into him again are astronomical, but I was super jazzed to see him not only running, but running the half marathon!  I yelled his name and he turned to me and yelled, "Chuck!  I knew I would see you today!  I'm so glad to see you!"  I told him he was doing great and wished him a great run as he did the same.   How cool was that?  It's another example of why choosing to pace this year was the right call for me.

     It was almost time for the Birmingham Bridge and the dreaded Forbes Ave. hill.  My strategy was to walk a good portion of the hill to save energy.  Even with the suit on I was feeling really good.  My body temps were cool, and I was taking in plenty of fluids and ingesting my Honey Stinger gels.  I was feeling pretty great overall.  I did as I set out to do, and started to walk up the hill, but not before I stopped to take a selfie with a Storm Trooper on the bridge.  I mean come on folks, it was the right thing to do!  While I was began to walk, for some odd reason or another I decided to pull out my phone and go live on Facebook (which I did a few more times as well.)   I saw a comment from my a few saying they couldn't hear anything.  I found out later in the day that it was because my music was still playing and Facebook muted it due to copyright permissions.  I thought my phone would automatically stop the music when I went to video, but it didn't.  No one got to hear me say how much I loved them and thanked them for donating this year!  So there.  Now you know.  (Insert GI Joe quote here kids.)

      Halfway up Forbes I decided it was time to start running, and of course I would pick the steeper part of the hill.  While doing so, I had noticed my neck was starting to feel a little rough from the collar of the dress shirt rubbing against it.  As soon as I got to the aid station at the top of the hill, I took care of business and solved that problem.  The next would be getting through Oakland and further into the race.  This part of the course is where my mind usually starts to get the best of me.  This go round was no different.

     "OK, just get to mile 14 and you can take a break just like last year."  Mile 14 comes, and I keep going.  "OK, just get to Mile 15 and you can take a break, just like last year."  Mile 15 comes, and again I keep on going.   "OK, you walked a bit after the relay station and walked to mile marker 16.  If you run there, you can take a break, just like year one and two."  Mile 16 came, and guess what?  I still just kept on going.  More smiles and cheers for the suit had something to do with it.  I'm almost positive.  This was nothing short of amazing!  Even after mile 17 which is where I normally hit may wall,  I was still running.  I didn't take a legitimate break until I got to about mile 18.5.  When I did, my music stopped and I thought maybe my phone died.  I took it out and it stopped because my dad was calling me.  My parents have the best timing when it comes to my running a race.  But you know what? It's my parents.  They are allowed a pass.  I answered anyway!

    "What are you up to," my dad asked.   "Uh, I'm in the middle of running the marathon.  I have about seven and a half miles to go.  But I needed a break."  "Oh, you're still racing, well call me back later."  Sure thing dad, as long as I don't fall over first.  Know this dad:  talking to you at that point in my race was pretty awesome.  It helped distract me and get me out of my own head.  Needless to say, I picked it right back up and started to run again.

     I truly was enjoying myself.  I kept getting alerts from the Race Joy App about my pace and suit or not, I was doing better than last year.  I was not sure I'd be able to keep it up, but knowing I had a shot at a PR was a pretty good feeling.  But, did I want a PR?  I kept telling myself all weekend that I didn't set our for a PR.  My only goal was to start and finish in this suit as part of my fundraising efforts for the Mario Lemieux foundation.

     Around this time in the race, a gentleman had run past me and said, "I told you that you helped me get through that 17 mile training run."  I apologize for not remembering your name sir, but when you passed me and said that, I loved it.  I hoped you kicked major butt after that.  Just a mile earlier, another runner said to me, "you got this for Richard.  Mile 17, keep going for Richard."  I was puzzled at first because I was so out of it and focused and running that I remembered I had my dedications on my back as always.  She was right though, keep going for Rich.  Keep going for Stush.  Keep going for Phillip.  Just..keep...going.

     When I run, I lose myself in my mind a lot.  I start picturing things that probably won't happen, but that's just what someone with a wild imagination.  When I do that, I start getting choked up and can't breathe.  This happened a lot in those last 6 to 8 miles.  I can't help it!  I'm a sentimental and emotional kind of guy!  It's what I do!  Anyhow, I was feeling tired and fatigued so I took another sip of this water I had on my person.  That's when things started getting a little shakey.

     I felt something that I hadn't felt at all during my training.  I felt sick to my stomach.   Our coaches are very clear when they tell us "do not do anything different on race day that you didn't do during training."  I should know better.  But, I brought along this brand of hydration water with me that I got at the expo.  It was supposed to be "instant" hydration, and I thought it would help me more than Gatorade or water would.  Unfortunately, it was also very, very sweet.  It was not sitting right in my stomach and my thoughts immediately turned to stopping and puking.  But I was too close to finishing and only had 6 miles left.  I wasn't going to stop now, even if I had to hurl.  I powered through as just up ahead I could see my friend Shelby cheering me on with a donut!

     Sadly, I had to break Shelby's heart and not eat the donut.  I was till queezy from the water and it was fighting with the goo I just ate.  But, I made sure to stop for a moment and chat.  I knew she was tracking Edyta so I asked her how she was doing and where she was at in the race.  She was doing great and was somewhere around mile 14 or 15.  My Polich Princess was more than halfway there!  That was enough to get me going again!

     Between mile marker 22 and 23 my calves felt like they were on fire.  My hamstrings were starting to bother me as well.  It felt like I was going to cramp.  That feeling is just plain awful.  Oh look, the band in Bloomfield is getting read to play Johnny B. Goode!  That sounds like the perfect time to take a break!  Heck, I almost forgot that I was running.  It was time to get back at it, because I just wanted to be done.
Edyta ate her donut.

    Coming down Liberty Avenue I saw Theresa Vescovi and her husband cheering people on.  Loudly.  So very loudly.  And, it was awesome!  I laughed after she told me I kicked arse and all I could muster up to say to her was "I can't wait to get this thing off!"  That was completely true. I couldn't wait to get that suit off and put on some normal clothes.  However, I still had about 2 miles to go and the Steel City Road Runners cheering section was within my sight!

  Man are these people great!  I've gotten to know quite a few member of the group in the past few years and their little cheer station just goes to show how much the running community means in Pittsburgh.  They were screaming so enthusiastically when I was running near.   Everyone was lined up for high fives and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get choked up a little bit.  I felt bad if I missed anyone's hand, but knowing how close the finish line was and feeding off of their energy helped get me the rest of the way down liberty.  I also got a little bit of an assist from Coach Suzanne, Mike Canonaco, and another guy whose name I should remember but I don't.  I'm sorry!!!

     I reached the turning point on Liberty and Smithfield and as I trotted down the street,  I saw Bryan ready with my traditional beer.  He was kind of hard to miss wearing a t-shirt with my face on it.  Then I saw the rest of the gang: Amy, Sara, and Steph.  They were ALL wearing shirts with my face on it.  I stopped and just started laughing.   How could I not?  I found out that not only did they have shirts too, but they all ran the half marathon wearing those shirts.  Edyta was running the marathon in one as well.  You've got to be kidding me!  That right there folks is pretty funny.  Heck in this case it's also pretty runny. (crickets)  As I turned the corner to come down the chute, it was time to crack that beer and have a drink.  When I did so, I heard some chants of "Chug! Chug! Chug!"  Yeah, I don't think so.  I opted for a beer bath instead.  Instead of drinking it I used it to cool off.  I smiled as I crossed the finish line, but I wasn't done yet.

Less than a mile to go!

     I had to to get back to where there gang was waiting because I still had to cheer on my little Polish Princess.  Edyta was at mile 21 when I finished so I knew she was getting close.   I was sore, could hardly move, and sitting on the side walk when I saw her coming down Smithfield.   As soon as I saw her, none of that mattered as I popped up off the sidewalk and ran out into the street stoked for her.  She had less than a mile to go!   I gave her a power up kiss and although I really wanted to run to the finish with her, I wanted her to enjoy her moment.  She did it, and I was going to cry (good thing it was raining to mask the tears!)  She is now a marathoner.

     This may have been the longest blog post I have ever written.  I wanted to keep it short, but there was just something special about marathon number 4.  From sharing all of this with my friends and family, my girlfriend running her first, to my list of dedications this year, something just seemed special.  I didn't care about pace.  I didn't care about time.  I only cared about starting and finishing.  That's just what I did.  That's what Edyta did.  That's what so many other people had done.  We finished.  We smiled.  We had a good time.  And then, we ate all the foods.

     The 4th was strong in this one this year.  But next year, look out.  It will be Revenge of the Fifth.  We'll see you May 5th, 2019 Pittsburgh.  Until then, keep on running.

Sinceriously yours,

Chuck Hull
The Running Jedi.

PS - Just a few notes:

- The volunteers on this course were amazing, as always, but more so the kids.   It didn't matter their age, but when all these kids saw me in that suit everyone of them flipped out so happily and emphatically.   They were more excited to see it than I was running in it.   The smiles they had on their faces and the high fives I got were again awesome, and fuel for running.

- The people of Homestead were awesome as always.   The same cheers and same smiles from the suit.  Lots of "I saw you on the news" there, too.

- I enjoyed high fiving one of the grey hounds.  Next year I'm running with one.

PPS -  Thank you again to everyone that donated.  Thank you to everyone that had read my blog posts.  Thank you to everyone that cheered, and sent good vibes.  Thank you, Pittsburgh!

PPPS - (Is that even a thing)  Congratulations to everyone that finished.  I doesn't matter if this was your first, or your 10th.  You finished.  Cheers to that!

Sorry Aaron.....
SCRR Pace Team for the 5K

Looks like Adrienne made me laugh.....

SCRR Prior to the race!

Coming down Smithfield....

Ok, there's Aaron...

Tuesday Track Group Celebration at Max Mex

Don't tell Edyta I wore her medal....

Friday, 20 April 2018

26 Miles, 26 Dedications - Chapter 4

     Well here we are.   Most of us training for both the Pittsburgh Marathon and Half Marathon are in taper mode as race day is just a few weeks away.  We're counting down the days, and we're anticipating the excitement of that glorious Sunday morning.  I know I've said it before, but I still find it funny that as a kid my buddy Arron would also say, "come on a run with me," but I would just look at him like he's crazy.  Over 20 years later, I'm about to run marathon number 4.

     Although it baffles me, it also still makes me smile a lot.  I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish since I began running, and I'm also proud of all the good we've been able to do for the Mario Lemieux Foundation with each fundraising campaign.  I always set the main goal to raise $2500, in hopes that we can exceed that goal.  We've done so every year, and this year is no different.  We've been able to raise $3615 to date, and I'm still hopeful that we can hit $4000 raised come race day.  I'm honored and humbled by everyone's generosity each and every year.  I can mainly only say thank you, so....THANK YOU!  Over the course of five years, you all have helped raise a total of $17,349!  HOLY MOLY!  I mean really, HOLY MOLY!  (Did I mention HOLY MOLY?)  Again, this is outstanding and I could never have done this without any of your help.  That is why I say that WE have done this, as a team, because WE DID!

     Anyhow, as I've done every year, and will continue to do so as long as I can, I'd like to dedicate my miles on race day.  I've seen a lot of sadness posted on Facebook the last few months, as well as years.  This one is a rough one but still one that I wish to type.  With that being said, here are my 26 miles, with 26 dedications.

Mile 1 - Mrs. Donna Koffler.  Normally, I dedicate mile 1 to three people who I will always continue to honor.  But this time, I wanted Mrs. K to have mile 1 all to herself.  I've been thinking about Mrs. K a lot lately.  It's mainly because I wanted to tell her that I met this really awesome chica name Edyta.   My family loves her, and of course I do too.  I'm 100 percent positive you would as well.  She'll also be running her first marathon on the 6th.  I know you've watched over me a few times, but don't worry about me this go round.  Do me a favor and watch over her.  Keep whispering in her ear to keep going, no matter how hard it may get.  I know she'll be able to finish, but just in case she needs that extra push, give her a nudge for me, OK?  Thank you.

Mile 2 - Lou Majetic and Cy Clark.   You guys didn't think I forgot about you, did you?  Nope.  Always going to dedicate a mile to you.  God bless you both.

Mile 3 - Phillip Droulia.   Philip, you were just recently called upon and no longer with us.  I've only met you once, but I've hung out with your sister many times as I'm very close with her best friend Bonnie.  You sister and mom have always spoken very highly of you and are super proud of you.  Rest in peace young man, and always be the angel they need to watch over their shoulders.

Mile 4 - Marie "Sue" Bivona.   Sue, we all miss you here at BCD Travel, and the news of your passing was something none of us wanted to hear.  Thank you for always being you, and thank you for always keeping in touch with everyone after your retirement.  We miss you, and we'll always remember you.

Mile 5 - Ken and Joyce Freeman.   Mr. Freeman was one of my Scout Masters growing up, and I was friends with his daughter Kim as well.   The Freeman's just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary recently, and I still owe them a card.   So for now, happy 50th!  Mile 5 is for the both of you.

Mile 6 - The Humboldt Broncos.  #sticksoutforhumbolt    Most of you have already heard of the tragedy that befell the team.  There really is not much more I can say except that I hope the young men that were lost in the accident are resting in peace, as well.

Mile 7 - Alex Homerosky.   Alex's brother Matt was a bartender I had met while DJing so many years ago in down town Pittsburgh.  I've not seen you in many years Matt,  and I'm sorry for the loss of your brother.

Mile 8 - Melissa Jo Rose.  I've not met Melissa and just know that she was a friend of my friend Danielle Fitzpatrick.  I'm glad that you are in a better place now, and I know my friend misses you.  RIP.

Mile 9 - Terry Whitworth.   I've not seen you in quite some time either Noelle, and I'm truly sorry for your mom's passing.  My condolences to you and your family.  RIP.

Mile 10 - Janet Polen.   Janet was the mom of another friend from high school.  Jim, may your mom rest in peace, also.

Mile 11 - Dolores Yanosick.   Dolores' granddaughter Kelly graduated from RMU many "Moons" (see what I did there) ago.  I met Kelly and her sorority sisters while DJing at McCoy's place, and still see Kelly often, but usually at a race.  Just this past weekend I saw her at the Pirates 5k/10k and she told her dad, "don't let that pink hair pass you up!"  She also told me to make sure he wasn't behind me.  Kelly is one fast little bugger, though!  I'm super proud of her and all her racing accomplishments, and I'd like to dedicate this mile to her late grandmother.

Mile 12 - Robert J. Morrow.   Hi Mr. Morrow.  I work with your daughter here at BCD Travel.  I know you know this, but she's pretty awesome.  She's been with BCD way longer than I have, and she's taught me and others a lot.   I also know that she misses you very much since your passing.  We'll take care of her here for you.  RIP, sir.

Mile 13 - Dorothy Egan.    Dorthy was my friend Amy's grandma.   I don't have to tell anyone who Amy is as everyone has seen plenty pictures of our running group.  Never met Amy's grandma but may she RIP.

Mile 14 - Stanley "Butch" Sieracki.  My friend Jill and old roommate Adam lost their father recently.  I've never met Mr. Sieracki, but this is the best way I can think of to honor him.   Watch over us all Butch.

Mile 15 - Justin Tyburski.   Justin was the cousin to my roommate's brother in law Chris Zona and and his sister Dr. Elizabeth Zona.  RIP Justin.

Mile 16 - Debbie Carasone.   Debbie was a friend of my sister Jodi, and the God Mother of my niece Marissa.  I did not know her personally, but I know she was near and dear to their hearts.  I'm glad you are no longer in paid Debbie.   RIP.

My sister Jodi and Debbie
Mile 17 - Richard E. Lieberum.   Richard was the uncle of one of our Jeckyl And Hyde regulars, Jessica Shoop.  Jessica has been a fan of "DJ Qwik" for many years as well as a friend.  I hope your uncle is doing well in the heavens above Jess.  My condolences to you and your family.

Mile 18 - Stanley Frank Konarski "Stush."  Stanley was the father of another one of my co-workers, Susan Sullivan.   I've know Susan for as long as I've been in travel.  I'm truly sorry for the loss of her father.  RIP Stush.

Mile 19 - Margaret Oberleitner.   Ms. Oberleitner was the grandmother of another friend from high school, Jamie Stiffler Richardson.   RIP.

Mile 20 - Marlene Bell.   Marlene is the sister to Beverly Goldberg and aunt of Adam F. Goldberg.  I LOVE The Goldbergs show on ABC.  I love my child hood in the 80s.  When I watch the show, I can relate to Adam's character a lot.  I'm 3 years older, but it seems like if we grew up in the same area, we'd for sure have hung out.  What he did with a video camera growing up, I used to do with my boom box and a tape cassette.  Of course he was smart enough to keep everything and come up with a great idea in Hollywood, and I'm just a singer in a cover band (with a full time job so no worries!)   Adam's mom reminds me a lot of my mom, just with more swearing (according to TV anyway.  I'm the one with the mouth in the family.  Just don't tell my mom.)  Anyhow I've interacted with both on Twitter, and it's nice to be able to treat them both as they treat their fans:  we're all just normal people doing different things in life.  Two of the nicest people I have not met, and I know that the loss of Marlene was hard for them based on what I had seen when they talked about her.  Marlene gets mile 20.  RIP Ms. Bell.  (PS - Adam, your mom still needs her blue check mark on Twitter.)

Mile 21 - The RMU Men's Basketball Team and The RMU Cheerleading Team.   Thank all of you young folks for doing so much for Jimmy Spagnolo, his sister Lily, and their family.   They appreciate all that you have done, and I know those of us that have met Jimmy and his family do as well.  You are our future, and you are all doing some great things, with so many more great things in your futures.  Thank you. (Photo credits: Lacie Spagnolo)

Mile 22 - Robert Lee Lancaster.  Robert was the brother of one of my running coaches, Suzanne Lancaster-Natter.  Robert passed away a few years ago as well.  Robert, coach has taught me and so many other "newbies" on some of the best ways to not only run, but enjoy ourselves while doing so.  She's an endless ball of energy, and always keeps us smiling and going.  I wanted to find a way to repay her, so this mile is for you.  RIP.

Mile 23 - Tony Bowen Sr. and Garnet Weaverling  Tony was the brother of one of my team members, Phyllis Troy.  He passed away unexpectedly just recently.  My condolences to Phyllis and her family.  RIP Tony.  Ms. Weaverling was the Aunt of another of my team members, Stephanie Yuhas.  I know Stephanie was very close to her aunt.  May she too, rest in peace.

Mile 24 - Mildred Weber.  Mildred is the grandmother of an SCRR member that I've gotten to chat with a few times, Jessica Curcy.  Sbe had recently passed.  RIP.  While I'm at it, I'd like to add your dad to this mile Jess.  I don't know his name but I saw that you posted he had been recently diagnosed with cancer.  He gets to share this mile with your grandma.

Mile 25 - My brother Jason.  You've had a rough go for a lot of the past 5 -10 years.  I know it hasn't been easy.  I know we also didn't hang out a lot when you were little.  Once I moved on from high school to college, and then to the Navy, I wasn't around as much as I could have, and should have been.  But, I've always said you are one of the smartest people I know.  You're one of the most artistic.  You're also one of the most passionate.  You have grown so much in the last two or three years, and more so in the last year.  You're headed in the right direction, and no matter how hard it may get, or even how much you may be tempted to swerve from your current course, stay on the path you're on right now.  You're doing big things.  You're doing great things.  I'm proud of you each and every day, and I love ya kid.  (Even tough you're gonna be 39, you're still a kid to me.)

We need to recreate this one!
Mile 26 - Edyta and her daughter Zosia.  Edyta, although we knew each other for years, you came into my life at the right time.  You compliment me to no end, and you encourage (others will say enable) my quirky behavior.  You make me laugh and you make me smile.  You are my Polish Princess Leia.  You get mile 26 because when you get to this point in the race, I'll be there to cheer you across the finish.  Once I'm done, I'm coming back for you to see you to the end.  I love you.

There are .2 miles left!  We'll leave the last .2 for all my friends and family who will be cheering us all on to the end.

     For those of you I may have forgotten, I'm sorry.   There will be other races, and I hope to remember you all when the time comes.

With that, let's keep on running Pittsburgh.


Chuck Hull
The Running Jedi

#26miles26dedications #teamlemieux #runpgh #10yearsrunning

PS - I wanted to do a special dedication to Jimmy and our friend Deanna.  If you missed the video, please watch below (and 'til the end.)

PPS - You can still donate to the Mario Lemieux foundation below by clicking the link!  Everyone that donates is entered into a drawing for a signed Mario Lemieux Hockey Helmet!

Also be sure to check out the following pages:

I'm Praying For Jimmy Spagnolo:

Wheels, Wings, and Wishes:


Tune Up:

Friday, 23 March 2018

Don't Ever Forget To Have Fun!

     Last year it seemed like all I was doing was training for something.  Come to think of it, I really was.  I went from a marathon, to a half marathon, to an attempt at a 50 mile trail run, to yet another marathon and more.  I remember from The Great Race on to the end of October I was register to run any random type of race.   It seemed as if I was not giving myself a break.  I really wasn't.  But, was I having fun?  Oh yeah.  I was having a lot of fun!

     I'll admit, there were days where I just didn't want to run anymore, however those days were very few.  I really have gotten to love running and just about everything that comes with it.  I enjoy being outside no matter the weather.  I enjoy listening to all the sounds around me (and not particularly the ones coming from me.)  I just like  I was free from work.  I was free from technology and social media.  I was free from everyday life.  I was free to just run, look around, and smile.  There was no better feeling than lacing up my shoes, stepping out the door, and simply taking off down the road.  It was intoxicating and invigorating.  And again, it was fun!

The classic Dan Potash photo bomb....
     Most days were simple.  I felt like I got a lot done, and I felt great.  I felt happy.  But, there were those days when I felt like what I was doing was too much and it did feel like work.  It wasn't supposed to, but sometimes that just comes with the territory.  Running long distance races is one heck of a commitment.  It takes up a lot of your time if you even have that to spare.  It takes a lot of dedication, and it takes pure drive to stay on the right path.  You will always try not step off of said path and head into a different direction, but you may slip up and find yourself headed that way.  Although I never really strayed from my path, (and again I admit that there were days I just wanted to stop) I asked myself if I was over doing things?  Was I giving myself enough rest, and was I eating right?  I'm pretty sure I answered yes to all of those questions, and when I look back at it all, I was still having fun.

     One thing about me that most people know is that I always want people to have a good time and enjoy themselves.  I'm an entertainer.  I need to make people laugh and smile.  I need them to feel good about themselves, and if I can help I will.  It's one of the reasons why I DJed for over 15 years, and one of the main reasons why I sing for a band.  If everyone is having a good time, I know I did my job.   And if you are, then I certainly am.  But, if neither of us are then we're all in a little bit of trouble.

     By the time I was done DJing, I was getting really tired and bored of it.  Music had changed way too much from when I started.  Half of the time I was not sure what anyone listened to anymore.   Between Spotify, Pandora, and iHeart radio, people had access to countless amounts of music.  A lot of that music you don't hear on the radio, but that style of music music was what I was always playing.  It was hard to take a request from someone when I had never even heard of the band or artist.  I always made it a point to try to keep current with the tunes by listening to the local top 40 stations, or even by checking the billboard charts.  I would even make a note or two of the songs I didn't have so that I could check them out later and maybe add them to my catalog.  But, it was still a new game and I just didn't want to keep up with it anymore.  I was no longer having fun as a DJ.  My band came along at just the right time though.  (Rock on brothers and sisters!)

     I look at running as no different for me.  Again, it's something I really grew to love and enjoy.  It never really feels like work at all.  I began to meet a lot of great people and connect with so many in a number of different ways.  I've been able to both learn from and even encourage other runners to just keep going and give it their all.  I do all of this while smiling, and I'm smiling because I'm having fun.

     I even wondered if I was going to be able to still have fun when I decided to give pacing a shot this year.  I knew there was a a greater responsibility that came along with pacing, but I couldn't let that change who I was or what I could do.  It hasn't.  In fact, I think it's made me even more aware of not only how much fun I'm having but how much fun everyone else is having, too.  Do we have an end goal in mind?  Sure we do, and we're all talking, joking, and laughing for miles at a time.  Running may be healthy, but we all know that laughter is truly the best medicine.

     It's also no different for me when it comes to having my picture taken while I'm out on the run.  If I see you, I'm going to make a face.  To quote Bill Murray in Stripes, "that's the fact, Jack!"  It's as simple as that.  I might be the self proclaimed Running Jedi, but I'm also a certified goofball.  Sure, there are some pictures out there with my wonderful smile, but if I see you with a camera, you know what's coming next.  You know it. I know it.  We all know it!

    So, whatever you do and where ever you are going, I beg of you: do not ever stop having fun!  I turned 45 years old in February and even moved up an age group, but those were the only things that had changed.  I'm still running.  I'm still smiling.  I'm still having a good time.  I don't care how many muscles it takes a person to frown.  The biggest muscle we have is our hearts, and it's our hearts that keep us going.

    With that, keep on running Pittsburgh.  If you happen to be with me, let's make sure we have some fun.


Chuck Hull
The Running Jedi

There is still time to sign up for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Use this code to get $10 off as long as you register by March 31st: HULLDSGPM18

There is also time to donate to the Mario Lemieux Foundation as well!  $3010 raised to date. Can we hit $3500?  Click to donate!

My girlfriend Edyta and I, Pens 6.6k

My friend Amy avoiding my
picture shennanigans

Amy, me, and Stephanie, Harvest Moon Run

Amy, me, and Sara, Hell on Hills

Pittsburgh Steeler Alejandro Villanueva
thinks he can take me....

Great sequence of pictures right here....

St. Patrick's Day Run

What to think about during a run.....