FEBRUARY 8, 2015

I have a senior. Let this one sink in a bit. I have a SENIOR. WOW. It's amazing how time flies. What an incredible ride. I couldn't have been any luckier. I may be biased, but my son is sure amazing! I'm super sad he's growing up, but it does have its benefits (like sleeping in on the weekends and running later in the morning since my mini is busy with the fire department, a job, and a girlfriend). This last year he is finishing off his EMT class at Auburn and with any luck be graduating with his state EMT license. From there he will be attending Firefighter 1 and 2 classes, and then is heading on over to Paramedic class. I am so proud! He has been on quite a few medical related calls with clinicals through Auburn and with the Perry Fire Explorers already, but the other day he went on his first fire call and was pumped. It was a car fire and he helped with the hoses and directing traffic.
Here's my STUD after getting home from his first fire:
He was actually at the Perry Fire Department for clinicals through Auburn when the fire occurred.
So proud of him!
If anyone has a chance for their child to attend Auburn for part of their day I highly recommend it. Hands on training and so different from the regular daily grind of school. It's SO much better than his home school. Also, Auburn has a great drug free program that they are in partnership with. My son is a member of this program. I so wish his home school would pick up on this program, as it has earned the nickname "REEFERSIDE" throughout the years. The DRUG FREE CLUB OF AMERICA was started by some Cincinnati Firefighters who were sick of seeing the outcome of related calls. With this program the kids get tested on a random date (no one is forced to sign up, you get tested if you want to - or your parents want you to). If you pass the test the school has no knowledge, but the program will let you as the parent know. And the child gets discounts at area stores for passing (being a member). Given my son's attitude towards drugs and alcohol no doubt I knew he'd pass. He signed on for testing and passed, and now has his membership card and has been to his first meeting. He's super open with us and due to that fact I know that he's had many opportunities to engage in undesirable behavior. But he hasn't. So glad that he's able to talk to me, and express his anger and hurt at the friends and family he has that do this kind of damaging behavior.
He's also been rock starring it up! He's played at the Agora and Foundry quite a few times with his band(s) now. It's been crazy to see! He's really in love with music, and so glad that he can continue with music in some form since he can no longer be in choir at his home high school due to scheduling conflicts with Auburn, which was a bummer to him.
Party like a rock star mini!


APRIL 7. 2013

Today was the PFD's annual Pancake Breakfast.  My son and his fellow explorers "worked" at the breakfast doing a few tasks, washing dishes, greeting members of the community, talking about the Fire Explorers, and showing kids the fire trucks and "Safety bus".  Given that this is the first one we attended we didn't know what to expect.  My hubby and I dropped the midget off at the fire department at 8:15 and went on our run, then headed to the fire department afterwards.  We got there at noon and the Fire Department was packed! (Apparantely it had slowed down for them, too!)  It was great to see the community out there. We also wound up talking to the chief - who we didn't realize before seeing him today that he was my son's old football coach!  (The name didn't click for some reason when he and I were emailing each other about the fundraiser for the Explorers!)  The breakfast today was free but there was a donation box.  There were also PFD t shirts for sale and hubby and I snagged a couple :-) We were also pleasantly surprised when my son took a break to eat with us.  We even got his teenage butt to smile for a minute!

But then he had to wash dishes.  Hopefully he didn't wash them like he washes them at home, or some poor unsuspecting firefighter will take the pans out in a couple weeks to use them only to find crusties on them lol

All in all this is one great event that we never knew about.  We'll be sure to come back next year!

 APRIL 3, 2013

So my son has this dream now (actually for awhile now) of becoming a firefighter.  Which is awesome.  I'd hate to see him waste his life away behind a desk.  He's been taking steps now to get him there later, which is even more awesome.  As mentioned before he joined the Perry Fire Explorers, an amazing group of youth with great Firefighters as leaders.  Now he's taken the next step and has applied to Auburn for his Junior and Senior High School years.  After much waiting he finally got his acceptance letter!
He'll be going to Auburn for one half of the school day and his regular classes for the other half.  When he graduates he will have his EMT certification and be able to work as a Fire Medic which is the norm for our area (Firefighters who also hold and EMT certification).  We've also gone a bit further and researched a couple degrees at our local college which he's interested in.  By going to Auburn he will be getting credit for some of the college courses.  Lakeland has both a Fire Science and Emergency Management degree available to take.  The good thing about the degree programs is they are basically catering to emergency personnel - so they're the only degree program that you can attend either day or night classes throughout the semester.  You work a paramedic night shift one week? Good you can take the day classes.  Work the day shift the following week? Good you can switch it back to night classes.  Sounds great! He's really excited about all of this and has some great mentors in my brother (firefighter in Myrtle Beach) and the Fire Explorer leaders.  We fully appreciate all the people who are helping him along his way! I'm so glad, with him just turning 16 and knowing already what he wants to do and having a plan already to get there - it's such a relief! Yes anything can happen, but he seems so certain of himself and the road he's headed down.  And I couldn't be more proud.



Let me start out by saying I hope everyone had a great holiday season and hope you are all working on those New Year's resolutions whatever they may be! Be it run faster, get a new job, eat better - may all your wishes come true in 2013!

For 2013 I have a slight change of plans. I was originally supposed to run my favorite 100 miler, the Beast of Burden winter 100 - but family plans changed all that. I'm so grateful for all those who wished me well for Beast though! You guys are the best! I'm bummed I'm going to miss some of my favorite people and my favorite hundo, but it's all for the better from a non running point of view. In fact - I couldn't be more ecstatic! My son has chosen his career path and is so certain of it. He's so excited, and this is just something I've never seen before. It's incredible! All the days and all the nights I've thought, hoped, he wouldn't wind up like me. Behind a desk. Crunching numbers. (although if that's what he loved to do, GREAT!) But it is not in his blood to like something like that. I knew it. My husband knew it. And my son knows it. Over the years my son has watched my brother grow, develop, and become a firefighter. He slowly drew inspiration from that - visiting his firehouse(s) and hearing about his job. On a group run last year he mentioned that he *thought* he would be interested in firefighting as a profession. I stuck that statement in the back of my mind and waited to see if he was serious or just being a teen :-) He was serious. He became more so over the summer, so I then decided to call around to various fire departments to see if they let any youth come and volunteer at the fire station. I wasn't sure what he could, but was thinking maybe odds and ends like cleaning the fire trucks or silly stuff like that. Throughout the process I found out that Perry Township Fire Department has a free program for teens interested in fire fighting called the Fire Explorers.
It's really an incredible program - they train just like the real firefighters, doing simulations and studying ems among other things. So great!! The head of the program, Brian, told me my son would have to come on a panel interview if he was interested - the interview would be done by him and all the other fire explorers in the program. After the interview they would meet and discuss, and then my son would get a call either way. Well - he went on his interview and did get on the Explorer team!!
He was thrilled, and started in September! The group meets several times a month. He had one meeting before I went to G2G, his first...and another meeting during my time in Utah - and has been going ever since. The pride he has for this program is incredible, I've never seen him this way before. The group is already like a family to him, and he's excited each time he goes to the program. (The last time I dropped him off he was so pumped he jumped out of my moving car when we got into the parking lot. SERIOUSLY!!)
So, needless to say this has all kept me busy. Add in the normal December volunteering he does as well as trips to visit Auburn our December was action packed but in a very good way. I just can't ask for anything more. If my son is happy with his career, with what he does in life - if he truly enjoys it that's all I want. Nothing more. And it really looks like that's going to happen.

On Auburn:
Auburn is a 2 year vocational program he would go to, if selected. It is an EMS program. He has applied and will find out in March if he gets selected. Not only would Auburn save us money after high school/into college but he'll have hands on experience. (When visiting the instructor said within the first week of the program one year some students saw their first fatality unfortunately. Many people have spoken to him about this so he realizes what it is he's getting into.) With the program he would have a medic license as soon as he graduates from high school, which would allow him to become a Fire-medic right after graduation. (Most firefighters in our area are fire-medics). So right now the visiting is done, the application is in - and he's waiting to get an interview. Then we wait until March! Fingers crossed for my mini! It's not the end of the world for him if he doesn't get in - he would still be able to pursue his path of course but this would make it much quicker. During the visitations to Auburn the students in the program said they STUDY. REALLY study. They all said the program was extremely hard, and a few came up to him and said they usually are studying until 10 at night. The instructor told him it was the hardest program at Auburn. He listened, we discussed what the students and instructor said - and without hesitation he said he still wanted to do it, that he was 100% certain. OK then! Quite a few of the Explorers are in the program, and the ones that weren't applied with my mini. There is a 20 student maximum for the program. The program services several school districts in the area, with applications coming in from all of them. So again fingers crossed and hoping they all get in! The plan for after he graduates high school will be to find a job of course, but also attend college at Lakeland - they have a great Fire Science and Emergency Management program there. I've been in contact with the director of the program and he tells me there will be an open house soon. FUN!!

On the Explorers:
Since my son has been doing the program since September, and he's going to be 16 in March he'll be going to the Fire Department a little more than usual, aside from the normal Fire Explorer class - to study up. Once an Explorer gets to be a Level 2 explorer (you have to test for that) they are allowed to ride along on firefighting calls. He can take his Level 2 test when he turns 16 so he is gearing up for it now. Aside from that - he's also going to be taking a Lifeguard Certification training class in April! (oh and his driving test lol)

So as you can see, ultras have taken a bit of a back burner for now. As always - FAMILY over running. Nothing new as far as that's gone for me. It's why I usually trained waking up at 2 a.m, 3 a.m. on a regular basis when nothing out of the usual was going on - to not interrupt family time in regards to my training. Family will ALWAYS take precedence over running. I won't run if it means I have to miss one of my son's events - things like that are far too important. We only have a couple more years before my mini won't be my mini anymore, and I don't want to miss a minute. There will always be runs, there's plenty of time for that. I don't NEED to run every race I hear of, I don't NEED to run xxx amount of races to get my fix. My family is my fix and my running will always be there. Whether it be a 5k or 100 miles, it will always be there. So the focus now for me, while my mileage is reduced by hovering in parking lots waiting for my guy to come out will be the marathon. I have a lofty goal to improve on my Boston Marathon time by a little over 28 minutes. I really REALLY don't know if I have it in me to do this. But - I'm definitely going to give it my all. The timing is right to do this, so I will work my hardest! I had to have a "crazy out there" goal if I wasn't going to run any ultras for awhile. You see, the thing with me is....I get excited, very VERY excited about a goal that I'm not sure I can accomplish. It's why I originally ran BoB winter 100 - because I was unsure if I could finish a nasty winter race with my asthma. First place was just the icing on the cake!

In between the marathon and now there will be quite a few smaller prep races. After the marathon, which will be in October, I will be looking into ultras again. By then my mini will be driving (and he's hoping he'll have a job) and I should have a lot more time on my hands. Potential ultra right now is Hellgate (100k), if I can figure out when/how to apply :-) Sounds like a good one, and would be enough time after the marathon for some good training.


FRIDAY JUNE 29, 2012
YOUNG EAGLES Last Weekend was the traditional Young Eagles free airplane rides operating out of the Geauga County Airport in Middlefield, Ohio. I've taken my son nearly every year since he was old enough, and he always has a blast!

This year we took my son's friend Christine along for some airplane action - it was her first time on a plane and when she landed she was all smiles. These pilots are quite extraordinary as they use their own money for fuel for these flights, with most of them flying kids around for 4 hours - each group of kids getting 15-20 minute flights. The lucky kid who gets to sit in the front of the plane gets to fly for a bit as well! Kudos to EAA Chapter 5 -thanks guys for another great flight!


With no volunteering duties we were lucky enough to have LOTS of free time last weekend! On top of the Young Eagles flight we were able to see my friend, Dan Holt, perform at the Beck Cafe in Lakewood. It was SO unbeilevably nice just sitting outside, relaxing and listening to great music. Thanks for the invite Dan! Hopefully we can come out to more of these!

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. He awoke to a car decorated to the fullest extent!

Party pooper that he is he drove his motorcycle to work. Booooooo.

Father's Day was spent with my hubby. No car decorating involved. We went out to eat, played some mini golf, and went to the movies. My husband's movie of choice: Men in Black III. I groaned a little bit on the inside when he told me that's what he wanted to see, but it actually wasn't half bad. (Not really worth a trip to the movies for though!)

The day before Father's Day we went to Cedar Point, but not before going on a 3 a.m. "Goodbye Run" for Scott McGrew! Scott and his wife Bri moved to Washington (state). I wish we would have had more time to hang out with them, as they are really great people who we're going to miss. Scott had paced me at Beast of Burden 100, summer - and I paced him at Oil Creek 100. My family and I met Bri and Scott at the Cleveland Marathon last year, right before my son was heading out to run his first marathon.

McGrew family we will miss you! But remember......


NOVEMBER 02, 2011
THE END OF A SEASONCross country is over for my mini, and he had a blast running with the team this year. The coaches were great, and the kids were amazing.

Examples of kid greatness:
Early on I was faced with a hard decision to make (a nightmare!) My son called me at work to ask me if a senior, Nick, could drive him to the weekly pasta dinner. My heart fell into my stomach. "Let it begin" I thought. The first time a KID would be driving MY kid. Point blank I was scared as hell. But, this is how it is - he's growing up, so I let him go. Everything worked out fine of course, and the senior that drove him is a pretty amazing person. All the seniors were great role models to the younger kids in fact, and it was so great to see. At one time I wasn't sure if he had a ride to the pasta dinner or not, and I hung out at XC practice to see if my services were needed. He wound up not needing a ride, because once again Nick was taking him-and I watched this amazing kid fill up his vehicle with freshman. So amazing! I never saw that in my school growing up. Seniors wanted nothing to do with lowly freshman. Maybe because I never played sports - so maybe I was lacking in experiencing that kind of camaraderie, but this all was really fascinating and new to me.

The strong character of the kids came through more than once this season. As it so happened I run with the Riverside teacher's running group when I can, and there were a few times we ended up in the same park as the XC runners. One instance when I was running I came up behind some kids who were running and having a discussion on the rights/wrongs of swearing. I slowed down to listen to the conversation again just completely fascinated at their discussion and their feelings on the topic. I ran smiling, hearing how "There was no place for it, etc" Again...AMAZING! These are teenagers???

Excellent work on a great season runners! We're proud of you!


Another Halloween season at the Lake Metroparks has come and gone, and my son has once again volunteered at the Haunted Hayrides. This is by far his favorite volunteer job with the parks. Other volunteering he does with the system: Day camp counselor aide, Wildlife Center Assistant, and he has volunteered at Christmas Lights. He loves all that he's done but definitely has a blast with the Hayrides. When else can you be an astronaut? I mean come on!


MAY 22, 2011

Ok wanted to get this one done earlier, but it's been a busy week of choir concerts and doctor's visits. That will be saved for another time.

It's been a week now since my son's first marathon and I'm glad to say, yes he's survived it unscathed :) No physical damage, no mental damage - just one proud kid. We didn't discuss time goals for his marathon, as everyone's first marathon should really just be about finishing. He did finish in almost the exact time I figured he would though. I had him pegged to finish in 5 hours, he crossed the line in 4 hours, 59 minutes and 29 seconds - chip time. Congrats to my son and all the others who ran last weekend! There were many events going on - so many that it was hard to keep track of who was doing what! Congrats to all on your hard work.

The Monday before race weekend Jodi Valade, reporter for the Plain Dealer newspaper came over to interview my son. She did a great article on him that can be found here:

Wednesday a photographer came over to get "action" shots of us running down the street. That was definitely an experience. We felt kind of goofy running down the street for pics, but the photographer was a fun chick to be around and really put us at ease.

With the media business over, it was time to prepare.

(I think he was thinking pizza all week. But no!)

Saturday my husband, son, and I headed to the marathon expo to get our shirts, bibs, etc. and check out the vendors. The expo was in a different location this year, and while it was a good spot for us (free parking - woo hoo!) it seemed like it may be a bit of a pain in the butt to get to for out of towners. The marathon is in Cleveland, the expo was in Euclid. We got our shirts and goodie bags, and got a laugh when we saw one of the goodies in our bag:

We then walked around and saw Jean Toth. Jean was about to run what has got to be her gazillionth marathon. She was at the expo shakin it to Zumba, and at 75 years old she was looking like the best Zumba (dancer?) out there. Smiling the whole time and just workin' it. AMAZING! Big congrats to Jean on her marathon performance as well. She finished the marathon in 6 hours and 7 minutes. After watching Jean for a bit we walked around, checked out the Northeast Running Club booth and talked with our awesome Prez Mark Anson for a bit, also checked out the Fleet Feet booth and of COURSE we hit all the freebie stations! We sat and listened to Bill Rodgers speak and then left. We did let my son choose his pre race dinner location - he chose Zappitelli's in Painesville Township, which worked for us because it was 5 minutes from our house. At this point the nerves hadn't kicked in yet. He was being his typical self:

We came home and relaxed, and went to bed early (the one thing about running the marathon that he could NOT stand!)


Early a.m. I woke the kiddo up and I think it hit him.

He was nervous and questioned me: "What if when I start running my legs just don't work? What if they hurt right away?" I was surprised it took him this long to start to worry. I tried to tell him he'll be alright if he eats his oatmeal, but he hates oatmeal so I'm not sure I was all the reassuring. (He probably thought it was my way of being sneaky just so he'd eat something that's acutally good for him, vs. lets say....RAMEN NOODLES for breakfast). We got ready and hit the road.

Arriving in Cleveland we were pleansantly surprised to see the Cleveland Brown's stadium open to the runners. I hope that the marathon people continue to do this - as the lines for the toilets were much shorter and it offered a teeny bit of shelter from the great outdoors. Those concrete jungles can be quite nasty. I did have one thing to say about being in the Brown's house however. GO STEELERS.
Nuff said. But thank you for your toilets, they were the best. While I was in the grand toilet facilities my son and husband were approached by Scott McGrew and his wife Brianne. They read my son's article and came to give him well wishes. Scott was running his first marathon as well, and Brianne was running her first 1/2 marathon. Congrats to both of them on their run! (Scott will be joining the ranks of us crazies in June when he runs the Mohican 50 miler. One might say he has already joined us crazies as he joined us yesterday for a trail run, a marathon training distance run a week after his marathon!) Anyway their well wishes gave my son a bit of an ego boost and he walked around with his chest stuck out looking all manly for a bit. We met gal pals Jeannette and Kathleen, as well as man-pal Mark Anson (monsieur President) right before the start. We walked out with Jeannette and it was time to start!

The gun sounds, and so it begins. After 9 minutes. That's how long it took us to get to the start, but no worries - we have a chip time here in Cleveland. I think the sun gods hate Cleveland. However in my son's case it was probably a good thing, since all his longest runs have been run in the rain. It was actually not so bad at first - temps were comfortable and there was just a light mist. The end of his run, well that's another story.

Mile 1 - bathroom break. For everyone. We let my son go first and told him when he gets done just start running, keep to the right and we'll catch up when we have finished. This was how the whole race was spent in terms of bathroom breaks. It worked out pretty good. I did feel a little silly when I would leave the port o johns though - people I think thought I was getting some kind of an energy surge and would cheer me on.

Miles 2-13 my son spent deep in thought. I could see the wheels turning in his nugget....he was worried. I kept watching his expressions knowing what he was thinking. I was worried for him - it was so early and it seemed he was already doubting himself. At the half way point, he started to express his concerns vocally. Wondering why he signed up to do this. I myself was wondering if I made a mistake in allowing him to do it. I then just tried to convince him to keep his thoughts positive (however that's pretty tricky - easier said than done).

Mile 17 - 24
Eventually at around mile 17 he asked for his mp3 player. MP3 player = mental magic. It was nearly an instant transformation. He started smiling, laughing, and running stronger. We could even tell when a favorite song of his came on, because he would get a BIG boost of speed. At some points I told him to slow down and be careful, I didn't want him to burn out. Music magic :) He started to pass TONS of people. It seemed he was pulling it all together at the same exact time that most people were falling apart. We started laughing at all the funky statues we saw, wondering what exactly the story was behind them.

Mile 24
My son was still passing people - including one guy who seemed to take it kind of personal. My son ran by and this poor guy and he raised up his hands, pumped his fists and let out the biggest growl I've heard to date.

Mile 25-finish

The headphones came off so he could soak it all in. We were all thrilled that the end was so close! Turning the corner in front of the Brown's stadium we saw my dad and sis. AND the finish line. My watch showed less than 5 hours. We let him know how proud of him we were.

We continued on and saw most awesome gal ever, Roisin, and her mum - they had come down to cheer him on as well. (They bounced back and forth from location to location throughout the race in the nasty weather. SO COOL!) We chatted for a bit, then found my Dad. At that point we were COLD COLD COLD. It was not so bad when we were running - but stopping was killer. It seemed like our car was incredibly far away. The wind seemed nastier. It took forever to get there. Thankfully we had extra clothes to change into. We changed and took our nasty smelly selves to lunch with my dad, my mum, and my sis. I couldn't drink enough hot chocolate to keep warm. I'm sure our waitress was questioning our sanity as I walked in with skin tight compression shorts on, my son walking in with his medal, and all of us in flip flops. Not to mention smelling like complete butt. No matter anyway. We stayed and enjoyed ourselves for a bit then headed home. Good times :)


Does he want to do it again? Not sure. Did he have a good time? Eventually. Do I think I made a mistake in letting him run the marathon? Absolutely not. He's incredibly proud of himself as he should be. Everyone who ran should be. It's not an easy thing. I had the opportunity to look around when we were running. Had the chance to really check people out, look at their form - watch their faces, wonder what they were thinking. EVERY single person out their was workin' it. No matter if they finished in 3 hours or 6. You could tell people were pushing it to the very best of their ability no matter what their time. Everyone was giving it their all, and should be equally proud. Congrats all to an amazing job - give yourself a pat on the back for toughing it out and giving it your best out there.

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