Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Running For Glory (Or Something)

What if I told you that someone completed a 5K without preparing (again) and got the motivation to finish by crushing a first grader. This is my 30 for 30 story.

It was a cold spring Sunday morning in Northern Virginia. The threat of rain had passed, but the ground was wet from an overnight storm. All of a sudden, I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder has taken over Sean's Ramblings. Anyway, remember last week when I asked if it was possible to prepare for a 5K in five days? Well, I did absolutely zero training in those five days unless you want to count eating pretzels as training. (Most "experts" probably don't, though I think more scientific study of this is warranted.)

Let's go to race day. Many runners have a pre-race routine. Maybe they eat certain foods or do elaborate stretches. For me, I started Sunday morning with a quick waffle and then took the family to the 5K and 1 mile fun run/walk. Once at the race site, I ended up holding and carrying around about 35 pounds worth of a shy 4 year-old. For a break, I swapped holding the 4 year-old with a 20-something pound 1 year-old. Then, the entire family participated in one mile fun walk. Pushing a stroller partially uphill is not exactly fun, but I had good company. When we returned to the starting line, I retied my shoes, stretched for about 30 seconds, kissed my family like I would be going on an epic quest that could last for months, and got set to run. And now I'm going into notes form.

- I have no idea how major races like the Boston Marathon start. While there are thousands of runners in major marathons and only about 300 at this 5K, I almost knocked over about 5 people and managed to dodge about a dozen others during the first block of the race while jockeying for position.

- I borrowed my wife's IPod for the race so I could listen to music to motivate me. These are some of the songs that played:

Say What You Need to Say - John Mayer
Bubbly - Colbie Caillat
Catch My Breath - Kelly Clarkson
Just Give Me a Reason - Pink featuring Nate Ruess

The perfect mix for any adult contemporary fan. Not the perfect running mix. Fortunately, about 23 minutes into the run this song appeared:

I played this a second time as I crossed the finish line.

- They had water at the mid-point for the runners. I have no idea of the proper way to drink water from a cup while trying to run and ended up getting more on me than in me.

- I also felt bad for dropping the cup on the ground. That seemed like the only option though.

- Throughout the race, I passed or got passed by the same kid numerous times. When he was near me, he seemed to run at a bit of an angle as if to cut me off. Several times, I let him pass me and then cut behind and around him. About 1/3 of a mile from the finish line, he was slightly ahead of me. My competitive nature kicked in, and like Drago, I decided that I must break him. I flew by him and never looked back. Later, I found out that he is a first grader. I don't feel bad for DESTROYING him.

- This is the picture of me crossing the finish line. I was so fast that I didn't even need to have feet on the ground.

- Time for the statistics:

• I completed the race in 29 minutes and 57 seconds. While this is much better than my 31:34 time from three years ago on the same course, I feel like 17 year-old me would laugh at this time. Of course, 17 year-old me might also laugh at my hairline.
• I finished 95th out of 279 racers. As a comparison, I finished #215 out of 351 three years.
• I finished 66th out of 138 males.
• I finished 13th in the male 30-39 division (though there were five other men that finished ahead of me that did not have their age listed on the website).
• I turn 40 next month, so if I went to the next division, I would have finished 13th in the 40-49 division (again, not counting those five guys). I thought you were supposed to be slower as you aged.

- Either I need new shoes or I don't know how to run properly. Partially through the race, my ankles started bothering me, and I still had discomfort with my left ankle on Monday. If you click on that link above, you can see that I also had ankle issues three years ago.

- Finally, if run again next year, I'm wearing this shirt made by my friend Doug.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Can You Train For A 5K In 5 Days?

This time of year, my Facebook timeline is filled with people running or preparing to run marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks and even a few Ironman races (and one combination yoga/beer event). While I'm not necessarily trying to keep up with these folks, I am signed up for a 5K this weekend. I ran this same 5K three years ago, so my goal is simply to beat my time from that race. Of course, now that we're 5 days away from the event, I should probably start preparing. This is where you come in.

So is it truly possible to train for a race in 5 days? I know I'm not running the Boston Marathon, and I'm not concerned about not finishing, but I would prefer to not feel nauseous or exhausted during or after the race. I should also mention that I'm not completely out of shape. I've worked some games as a soccer referee this spring, though that involves sprinting, walking, jogging, stopping and sometimes doing some of these backwards. That's definitely not the same as running for three continuous miles.

So any advice? Should I try to run this week to prepare for Sunday? Should I not run on Saturday so that I'm somewhat fresh (meaning not sore) on Sunday? Is there anything special I should eat or not eat on Saturday night and Sunday morning? I generally have a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios to start the day, but I can switch to Lucky Charms if that will help improve my time.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up

Through the first two games of the Penguins-Rangers playoff series, I have yet to stay awake through the first period. I recorded both games and started watching them after the kids fell asleep. However, in both cases, watching the game was the first time I was able to sit down for an extended period of time, and I crashed shortly after sitting comfortably on the couch. I guess I'll need to stand during the entire game on Monday.

I worked as a soccer referee for two high level (at least for me) games over the weekend. I must have been a little nervous as my stomach/digestive system was not happy with me even more so than for a typical game. Overall, the game where I worked as the center ref went well.

There is someone I know who recently retired from working at the Pentagon and has two grown kids in their 20s. I also discovered via his Facebook page that he attended the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim. I never knew this side of him. Anyway, here are a few of his pictures from what looks like a fun event.

Where exactly is Obi-Wan Kenobi looking?

The NHL conducted its draft lottery on Saturday night with the Edmonton Oilers emerging as the big winner. Instead of Buffalo or Phoenix earning the #1 pick and probably drafting Connor McDavid, who is supposed to be the best prospect since Sidney Crosby, McDavid is now likely going to Edmonton. This is terrible news for the NHL. The Oilers have had the top pick several times over the past few years and are still a terrible franchise. Meanwhile, McDavid could have been a hero in Buffalo, a city that hasn't had a successful sports franchise in years and hasn't won a championship since 1965 or revitalized a struggling Phoenix franchise that may relocate in the next few years. Boo to the NHL for not "fixing" the lottery.

In the second soccer game I worked this weekend, the center ref ended up giving 12 minutes of stoppage time in the second half. There were no injuries and no reason to have more than maybe 3 or 4 minutes of extra time. I was getting increasingly upset as the time passed especially since a tieing goal (the score was 1-0) would have meant 2 10-minute overtime sessions and the possibility of penalty kicks. I definitely would have rather gone home than stay at the field an extra half hour.

On a recent morning, I asked my 4 year-old how he slept. His reply: on a pillow. Good answer.

Finally, Johnny Kemp of "Just Got Paid" passed away over the weekend. While I always liked this song, I definitely do not remember this video.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Penguins-Rangers Predictions

Many websites and blogs have thorough breakdowns and analysis of the first round NHL playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. This isn't one of them. Instead, I posed five hard-hitting questions to hockey fans about the series. Here are your contestants:

Alex of Everybody Loves You and the guy who created the annual Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event.

James Santelli who penned Everyone Expects the Penguins To Lose. Perfect. for Pittsburgh Magazine.

Phil, one of the few people with a blog older than mine (though Phil's Occasional Musings is defunct at the moment).

Josh of Josh's World. I'm going to win his fantasy baseball league this season.

Brian of Blitzburgh Blog. Sure, he writes about the Steelers, but he is very well-rounded.

Mike Darnay of PensBurgh. He organized a real Pens roundtable like I mentioned in the first sentence.

Nicholas of PSAMP adjlkadf! (There's no need to write more.)

Adam of The Pensblog, my favorite Pittsburgh Penguins blog.

Sean of Sean's Ramblings. You're already here, so like my Facebook page!

1. Who will be the leading scorer in the series?

Alex: Does Gretzky still play for the Rangers? If so, him. If not, I'll go with Sidney Crosby.

James: I'll go the easy route and take Rick Nash, who scored a career-high 42 goals in the regular season. Also, how is Rick Nash only 30 years old? The dude has been around forever and he's still 30? I demand to know his secret.

Phil: Rick Nash

Josh: Already starting off with a tough question. By scorer do you mean goals or points? Do they say scoring points though? I am not sure. Rick Nash will score the most goals. I think Crosby has the most points. (Sean's note: I meant points.)

Brian: Mats Zuccarello so we have to learn how to spell his name.

Mike: Hopefully I'm wrong, but I'm gonna go with Derick Brassard. High chances to put up points in bunches while centering Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello

Nicholas: Sid. He has to be a massive difference maker if the Pens are to have any chance. Or Geno. Basically any Penguin.

Adam: Leading scorer will be Rick Nash. No questions asked. It’s painful to not give Crosby or Malkin this title, but the Rangers might have the Pens on lockdown all series long.

Sean: Malkin

2. Game two of the Pens-Rangers series airs Saturday night on NBC. This means that Mike "Doc" Emrick will likely call the game. How many Pittsburgh Pirates references will Doc make?

Alex: Um...66!!!

James: Just the requisite one reference, perhaps to Andrew McCutchen. Though Lord knows he will be asking crew members to give him a score update on the Buccos during every commercial break.

Phil: Three, one in each period

Josh: 4

Brian: Just one. If the game were in Pittsburgh, two if you count a mention of PNC Park.

Mike: I hate the Pirates....so hopefully zero. but I'll go with two. (Sean's note: Hate the Pirates? What the what?)

Nicholas: Seriously, he'll have two at the very minimum. This is the playoffs, Sean.

Adam: Doc will make two Pirates references. It would’ve been driven up to 3 if the game was in Pittsburgh.

Sean: Once in regulation and once during each overtime if that happens.

3. Who will have a better series: Craig Adams or Tanner Glass?

Alex: Tanner Glass, because his first name reminds me of Full House.

James: Craig Adams. The dude's 38th birthday is April 26, which is when the teams will play Game 6. I know it's cliché, but the age-38 breakout season is real and it is spectacular.

Phil: Adams

Josh: Craig Adams...only because his kid spilled a drink on Lindsey at a game one time.

Brian: Glass for sure. He makes like three times what Craig Adams does, and I'm not sure if that says more about Craig Adams or Glen Sather.

Mike: Tanner Glass. simply on the grounds that Craig Adams had a total of 35 seconds of ice time in the final two games of the season.

Nicholas: I cannot recognize any player on any non-Pens team, even if they formerly donned the Black and Gold, so Craig Adams, of course. Adams catches his heat, most of the time rightly, but his work on the penalty kill and his willingness to block the heaviest of shots translates so well to the playoffs. Tanner Glass...who cares what that guy does?

Adam: Neither will have a better series than the other. It is impossible. Both are the worst things to happen. Gotta ride with Craig Adams now, though, so I’ll say Tanner Glass is gonna be awful.

Sean: None of the above.

4. When the Penguins last won the Stanley Cup, the team won nearly every time coach Dan Bylsma got a Qdoba burrito. What will be Coach Mike Johnston's lucky food?

Alex: Isaly's Chipped Chopped Ham.

James: I would pay money to see Johnston go to town on a bucket of hot wings from Quaker Steak & Lube, so let's go with that.

Phil: Smiley cookie from Eat 'n Park. (I haven't been to Pittsburgh proper in about 5 years, and I have no idea where anyone eats. I always go to Eat 'n Park if I find one.)

Josh: I am thinking double cheeseburgers from Steak 'n Shake.

Brian: Mike Johnston doesn't eat. He's a weird puppet-mannequin possessed by the soul of a bored librarian.

Mike: Well, we know HCMJ and his wife love tapas restaurants. so...one of the local ones in town. take your pick.

Nicholas: Mmmmm anything peanut butter. Or hummus. I'm just going to list every food that I love. Ice cream.

Adam: Hopefully Mike Johnston’s lucky food will be wings from Big Shot Bob’s House of Wings. Pens need wingers.

Sean: Smiley cookie. Even if this doesn't work, you can't be upset while eating a Smiley cookie.

5. Final prediction: Who will win the series and in how many games?

Alex: #pensin7

James: Rangers in 7

Phil: Rangers in 6, and I feel like that's optimistic. I'm rooting for the Pens but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Josh: I hate to be negative, but the Rangers in 6.

Brian: Rangers in 3, have you seen the Penguins lately? Jeez.

Mike: Rangers....in 6.

Nicholas: Pens in 7. I refuse to pick against them despite how gigantic the Rangers look right now.

Adam: The Rangers will win this series in 6 games. Here’s my bailout clause: If this somehow gets to 7 games, the Pens win it.

Sean: Pens in 7. Why not? (And then the Islanders will win the next series.)

Let's Go Pens!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Something For Everyone

Most of you probably know that I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and now live in Northern Virginia. Therefore, I tend to write about subjects related to both Western Pennsylvania and the Washington DC area. Today, I'm writing about both.

Northern Virginia

I wrote about the 2015 Celebrate Fairfax headliners a few weeks ago. Since that time, Bush had to cancel meaning that I need to update that post. While I'd really like to blame Gwen Stefani, I can't. I mean, Gwen Stefani is just so cool. I'll blame Gavin Rossdale instead.

Instead of Bush, Kongos will perform on the Friday night of the festival. While you may not be familiar with the band, you probably know this song.

Kongos is a bit of a departure for Celebrate Fairfax. The festival's headliners are generally more established, so it's nice to see an up-and-coming act. I hope that translates to a nice audience as it seems like Kongos put on a good show.

The other Celebrate Fairfax news is that you can buy Super Early Bird tickets through TODAY for only $8. Starting tomorrow, tickets will go up to $10 which is still an extremely great deal for a concert/festival. I've definitely paid more than $10 for a "service charge" before.


This is from the Post-Gazette's Tuned In. Here's your chance to be an extra in the Cinemax show Banshee.

Nancy Mosser Casting is looking for Extras, Stand-ins and Photodoubles ages 18 and older for Season 4 of the hit Cinemax show, “BANSHEE”. Filming will predominantly take place in the Vandergrift area.


WHEN: MONDAY, APRIL 13TH from 4:00pm-8:00pm. Talent may come anytime during this period.

WHERE: Casino Theatre – 145 Lincoln Avenue Vandergrift, PA 15690 - Free parking is available in the lot out front.

WHAT TO EXPECT: You will be signing up to be on file with our company and having your photo taken. Registration is free and will take less than 15 minutes of your time. Must be U.S. Citizens.

In addition to needing regular townspeople, press types and police department background, we are looking for a lot of character types including Bearded men, People with visible piercings who are heavily tattooed, Goth/Punk types and Men with shaved heads.


If you are unable to attend, you may create a Free profile on our website at www.mossercasting.com under Talent Registration to be considered for the show!

So does this mean that townspeople, press types and police department staff aren't heavily tattooed, Goth/Punk types and Men with shaved heads?

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Joining the 21st Century

Last week, I bought my first smartphone becoming the one of the last people between 21 and 40 to get one and probably THE LAST person with both a blog and active Twitter account that didn't have one. I'm still trying to figure out how to use this thing though. For example, I tried turning off the phone by pressing the round button at the bottom but instead activated Siri. My first questions to Siri were how do I turn off the phone and do you cost extra to use but neither question was answered to my satisfaction. Of course Siri has been helpful since then. Last night while making a trip to Wegmans for I believe the 4th time in 5 days, I asked her the score of the Penguins game. At first she replied 3-0 Pens but later answered 3-1 and 3-2. The Pens ended up losing in overtime to Ottawa, so I'm going to blame Siri for this. Meanwhile the phone also has an app (or preprogrammed thing) where I can track my steps. This seems to make much more sense then buying a Fitbit, but I need to carry the phone at all times to track this information. It looks like the smartphone already won a this battle

While getting a smartphone may or may not be one giant leap for mankind, I think I am still behind the times in a lot of ways. Here are some examples:

- I don't have an Instagram account.

- I have never been on Reddit.

- I have never used Uber.

- I don't have Netflix and if I did I would watch movies and shows by getting the DVDs in the mail.

- I have no idea how to watch new episodes of Community on Yahoo. Granted I haven't looked yet.

- I don't get the obsession with Mad Men. I watched the first 9 or 10 episodes, and while I thought the acting was great and the setting/period was really well done, I was bored.

- I have never seen a movie with Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans or Chris Pine. Actually, I think Chris Pratt was in Moneyball, so just the other three.

Overall, at least I'm doing better than five years ago!

Your turn to share/confess.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Ideas To Conserve Water

We recently received our quarterly water/sewer bill, and while it was not any higher than usual, it still seemed to be a little pricey. I called the water authority and learned that we used about 16,000 gallons of water over the past quarter and that this is within the average for a family of four. Despite being within the average, 16,000 gallons of water over 3 months seems absurd and excessive. With the recent news of California ordering mandatory water cutbacks, I need to find a way to cut back on water usage. Here are some ideas:

- Ziggy grooms himself by licking his fur and his front paws. Why can't the kids do this?

- I'm sure that I use a lot of water shaving nearly every day, so my solution is not to shave anymore. I could have the Brett Keisel or Kurt Russell look in no time.

- Drink less water but more alcohol. (Of course, that would lead to my next post: how can I spend less money on alcohol.)

- I need to be a little less anal about how well I clean dishes, cups and silverware before they go into the dishwasher. One of the worst things in the world is running the dishwasher and seeing food still stuck on a knife when putting everything away. I have to find some type of middle ground here.

- Two words: Toilet pool

- Since I don't own a pool, I guess I'll settle with just going to the bathroom outside behind trees and bushes. Hopefully the neighbors won't mind.

- Stop using the washing machine and start washing my clothes in the river. The Potomac River isn't that far from me.

- Start taking baths instead of showers. What a nice way to end the day with a bubble bath, a glass of wine, candles a book and maybe some Kenny G music (preferably his sax solo in Katy Perry's Last Friday Night). I guess the kids can fend for themselves during my relaxing time.

While this is a good start, do you have any other suggestions?

Friday, April 03, 2015

Uptown Passover Vs. Passover Funk

Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, what have you done? I mean sure you created an incredibly catchy and successful song Uptown Funk, but now you've inspired dueling Passover songs.

In this corner, we have Six13 with Uptown Passover featuring the line, "Don't be slavin', just nosh."

And in this corner, there's Aish with Passover Funk and the line, "Fill it up, the Four cups."

Meanwhile, The Maccabeats went old school with Dayenu.

So who is going to settle the Uptown Passover-Passover Funk debate? Let's ask The Kosher Coupon Lady.

I'm so confused. How can you use a store coupon to get free matzo if you spend $75 at an entirely different grocery store? You lost me here, Miriam.

If you celebrate, have a very Happy Passover! It hasn't even started yet, but I'm already sick of matzo.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event 2015

Today’s post comes from Stephen of the Crank Crank Revolution, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Jelly Jars where I share a never-written about story about trying to impress my wife by biking on our honeymoon.

I don't need to tell many people this, but Pittsburgh is a very interesting city. Its economy is unique, its rich history is amazingly singular, and--most importantly--its people are extraordinarily distinctive.

Pittsburghers pride themselves in being different, in whatever way that manifests itself.

I'm actually quite surprised, however, that there hasn't been a movement to create a sort of Pittsburgh currency. Sure, it's illegal, what with the Constitution stating that only the federal government gets to coin money, but the Constitution also tells you not to make a left turn first at the intersection, so whatever. Still, an unofficial currency that is indicative of the city itself would certainly be interesting.

Let's take a look at how we could pay various costs with some iconic Pittsburgh items. I'm assuming that all items are worth their full retail value, here, because double-entry bookkeeping is for charlatans and suckers.

If you sold 3,296 Smiley Cookies from Eat N' Park, you could have bought the August Wilson Center at a sheriff's sale.

In order to match the profits that UPMC totally didn't make in 2014 because they are a non-profit, you would have to win and then sell 7,600 Lombardi Trophies. There are people in Pittsburgh who think this is entirely possible, and I'm not gonna tell them no.

You would have to sling 1770 baskets of Potato Patch Fries to be able to pay the median property taxes in Fox Chapel. That's a whole lot of trips of sending your servants to an amusement park!

Franco Harris would have to sell 397,674,419 Super Donuts to pay off Penn State's legal bills. He's trying his hardest.

You would have to let 105,541 people into the Carnegie Science Center to match the amount that Henry Clay Frick left to the park to totally square things with all those people he shot in Homestead.

You would have to sell 4,065,470 CDs of Donnie Iris's 1980 debut album Back To The Streets to be able to pay the Pittsburgh Pirates payroll this year. If you are unfortunate enough to live in Lawrenceville, it's going to take 7,738,693 vinyl albums. If you drive a 1995 Ford F150 in Butler County, you would need to sell 62,096,774 cassette tapes to cover the cost.

You would have to sell 154 Wholey Fish Sandwiches to be able to pay for One Trash Can With Luke Ravenstahl's Name On It.

You would have to save 42,799,678 Parking Spaces With A Plastic Lawn Chair in order to pay for the entire North Shore Connector.

It would have taken 440,252 Terrible Towels to match the payout from the lottery that Nick Perry rigged in 1980.

Heinz would have had to shoot 6,533,200,000 pounds of Mount Lebanon venison in order to merge with Kraft.

I don't know about you, but I think Fuelperks just got a lot more interesting.

Please check out all of these amazing Pittsburgh bloggers participating in this now annual event:

Sean’s Ramblings (hey, that's me!)

You can also like Sean's Ramblings on Facebook.