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Month: September 2014

Does your gym suck?

Does your gym suck?

I’m ten years into this long journey of a new and healthier person that has changed my life and made me firefighter fit.  I feel that through my trials and tribulations along the way I feel that I’ve earned the ability to be able to say what’s on my mind because I’ve got some real life experience to back it up.  I’ve learned a lot and made good and bad choices along the way, it’s been quite the trip to get where I am today.

In this post I want to talk about why where you work out could suck.  Maybe where I work out sucks?  The truth of the matter is that YOU need to find the right “fit” for you and how you operate because what I do might not necessarily work for you and likewise what you do might not work for me.  Every gym and every trainer is going to tell you that they are the best “because ____”.  When people ask me what I do I tell them this, “here is what I do, where I work out, and why it works for me.”

What works for me…

I work out at two locations, because its what I found that works for me.  Now keep in mind to my followers from outside the area that don’t know Knox County is in Central Ohio and a farming community where the gym opportunities are different than an urban area.  I’ve caught some shit and raised some eyebrows when the topic of fitness and my choice of where to work out are discussed.

I work out at the Mount Vernon YMCA and Fitness Dynamics, both in the same town.  Let me tell you a little about both of them.  While the “Y” can be similar to many across the Nation, I won’t bore you with the details.  I am a heavy user on the variety of cardio equipment and weights at the YMCA.  We aren’t blessed with perfect weather in Ohio and it gives me the ability to take care of that portion with not too many limitations.  There is a decent numbers of machines usually with no wait.  The weights and the motions that I do utilize in same cases mimic fire ground related tasks, in other cases I stick to working with more traditional muscle groups and weights.  I’ve been using it for years and its worked well.  I even tried a few classes, but just didn’t fit with that portion.

In comes Fitness Dynamics that I added to my fitness regimen back at the beginning of 2014.  I ran into a classmate April who teaches at the studio that followed what kind of events and what I do.  She suggested that I try it out and explained some of the classes to me and how they might help.  In January I walked into a studio filled with women and tried to put my thoughts of what this could be like in the back of my mind.  I’ve tried high intensity interval training (HIIT), I’ve tried a variety of cardio classes with less or more weights, lots of butts/guts songs, and yes even found a liking for yoga.  Most importantly I feel valued, opinion matters, and over the course of the year I have seen drastic increases in my cardio endurance that I attribute to the new routines I have added several times a week.

How drastic were my results, I can answer that with two letters repeatedly…PR.  Last year my times were maintaining a certain range, but over the course of this year I have watched as not only my mile times, but 5k times, and even stair climb times dropped.  Not seconds, but minutes of difference!  My SCBA bottle times for a working fire or stair climb have allowed me to make that tank last longer under even the most intense workout.

A personal choice…

Whether you realize it or not finding a studio, gym, or a place to work out is a very personal choice and I’ve found that there is no one size fits all.  I attribute it to being similar to finding a dentist or physician.  It is CRUICIAL to find the right place that you can have a personal relationship with.  I can’t count how many times over the last 14 years of doing Fire/EMS that I have heard a patient or victim say that they haven’t been to their doctor in awhile because they don’t like going there.  You know what, if you don’t like going, why aren’t you changing things up and looking for better?  Are you seeing results that work for what you do?  There are a lot of things that go into play beyond the price and a name.  What equipment, where they are located, hours of operation, what they have to offer, and also just as important to me the people.

When I started this new me back in 2004 I walked into the Mount Vernon YMCA not knowing really what I was in store for.  I’ve been to small gyms, community gyms, chain fitness centers, a long variety of classes, and trainers before I really figured it out.  Sure you can just go join a gym, but are you using your time to its fullest?  Are you getting everything that you can out of it?  Do you enjoy being there and feel like you are a part of something?  Does your opinion matter?  If you question any of these, maybe its time to evaluate things and make sure you really fit.  Find what works for you and you will know the difference in the results that you see.

Check back soon for another article more specifically on aerobics and yoga in training for my events. 


Finished on the 50 at Ohio State (33:17)

Finished on the 50 at Ohio State (33:17)

At the finish on the 50 last Sunday in Columbus.

This was my second running of the THE Ohio State University Four-Miler ( and I was definitely getting excited about it.  The event benefits the Urban and Shelley Meyer Cancer Research Fund which is dedicated to advancing cancer research for all forms of cancer.  I couldn’t pass up running this one after being a part of last year’s inaugural event.  It was by far the largest I had been in at that point and I was in complete awe.

The OSU themed even started in the shadows of Ohio Stadium and finished on the 50 with participants decked out in Buckeye gear.  This year, knowing what we were in for and being familiar with what to expect it was a lot easer.  The pre-race warmup/pump up groups with special guests, several Buckeyes, cheerleaders, Brutus, and musical groups was awesome!  The time leading up to the race went fast and there were plenty of events for attendees and children to participate in.

The weather was perfect, but a little breezy, the course was great and offered some challenges, but the finish was where it was.  Runners entered the final stretch down the Buckeyes team tunnel where they take the field.  Newly renovated you could see the mural and other decorations done to the area before running the visitor sidelines, turning and heading down the field to cross the 50!  The post race area was great; plenty of food, drinks, vendors, but the music wasn’t quite going when the faster runners were getting done.  This will be a yearly event for me and I was pretty happy with the 33:17 time that i posted from this one.  I was hoping for a 32 and solid eight minute miles, but a busy week of limited training due to a schedule I pushed with all I had.

Last year I ran the course in full firefighting gear including my themed Ohio State Fire helmet that tells my story and why I PAY FORWARD.  This year I raced in my orange to show support for Leukemia and Lymphoma.  If you look back you can find my article from last year where our family did the event WITH my mom Peggy who is a Leukemia survivor thanks to the University.  In March of 2000 she received the first unmatched unrelated bone marrow transplant at OSU, which ultimately was her cure.  After battling the disease for four years it was almost too late.  I owe a lot to what Ohio State and the L&LS have done for my family that I can NEVER pay back enough, but I can PAY FORWARD and make a difference for others.


Still time left to hit a 9/11 Climb

Still time left to hit a 9/11 Climb

Yes, 9/11 has came and went with another year honoring our fallen 343 brothers, while many of the climbs and events are completed, there are still several left.  If you’re in Ohio, or within a few hours of Yellow Springs there is another 9/11 Memorial Climb on September 27.  Click here to visit their website for more information.

I can’t say enough about these events.  They are a great way to get out and support a cause that supports us, or in the unfortunate times they support our families as well.  The National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, NFFF, have many of these events across the United States and this is the second one in the State of Ohio.  The event is a few hours of your time, some energy, some sweat, some tears, and hard work.  If you’re off duty and available, sign up, bunker up, and climb.

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All out at the Torres Trail 5k – PR!!!

All out at the Torres Trail 5k – PR!!!

IMG_5767Its taken me a few days to get this one written as I’ve been quite swamped the last week traveling for the fire department with our truck committee to pickup our new Engine Rescue for the Fredericktown Community Fire District. Almost as exhausting as a race, the emotional reveal of seeing, touching, and driving that truck is like spotting the finish line, crossing, then collapsing.

Initially this past weekend I had planned for months to be at the Lancaster County PA 9/11 Memorial Climb for the 110 floor climb up and down their stadium, that was until I read of another event. A local event, the Torres Trail 5k in Gahanna that was started for a firefighter and again benefitting a firefighter this year struck a chord with me. While I will have climbed 4 of the national 9/11 events this year to help firefighters everywhere, equally as important was running for a local Brother, Captain Rusty Thompson of Granville Fire Department. I couldn’t pass it up, he lives a county away and is battling Glioblastoma Multiforme, which is an aggressive brain tumor.

A mid-day race was a little change of events for me, because primarily I’m a morning runner. I love the coolness, and the predictability of a few things and know my plan well for nutrition and hydration leading up to it. I was well rested and well stretched before the event. I got to the event an for a brief while doubted my choice of running in a singlet versus one of my UA tees…when the sun came out in full force it changed my mind.

After all the selfies, the big group, and hearing the families, including Torres speak it was time for business. As I took off, I kept a very steady and solid pace. Some downhills on the way out and flats were awesome. Titled a “Trail” run there was nothing trail to it, however when I heard bike trail I was thinking flat…ERRRRR WRONG!

Gentling rolling areas and a nice wooded park challenged all that came out. Where I felt a burn before on some of the inclines, this time I trotted but kept going up strong. I was watching my times, but there were no milemarkers to see my splits. When we circled back I passed back and forth with some much younger runners before outlasting them. Having seen the route on the way out, on the way back I knew areas where I could turn it up and be careful where I wouldn’t push too hard. Again, checking my watch I knew it could be close to a PR if I didn’t do anything too crazy or if nothing happened.

The final eighth or quarter mile was on me and I turned up the gas, my time was running out and I reached deep down inside. The final turn came and I broke into a dead sprint and punched the accelerator because it was going to take everything. I heard every sound in my body, my pulse, my feet on the pavement, a solid song came on the headphones, and I could see Rusty at the finish line. Its moving, to me at least because its what drives me. The sounds, the sights, the meanings move me as an individual. Seeing him, knowing why I was running, and fighting the battle for others, pushed me. The tears were flowing behind those sunglasses as I high fived him and blew through the finish line.

I won’t say I collapsed about 30 yards from the finish line along the road, but I made it to ground fast before finding the yoga childs pose. I try to run all out every time, but this truly was all out nothing left in my tank. I saw no clock, I had no idea until my wife came over and told me it was 23 something as I got a partial bottle of water. It was the longest time waiting for official times ever. We were sitting at the pub waiting for food when the website updated showing a 23:45. It wasn’t a small difference to make a PR, but a HUGE difference of 1:02 and the fastest miles I know I ever have ran. Now that I know I can do that, how much better can I get, how fast, what ARE my limits, and what can I tell my body and mind that they can do?!

It was GREAT event, PR aside, it was awesome! Surrounded by firefighters and their families along with those in the community it was a very family friendly event. Great looking shirts and swag, pre/post race massage, great raffle items, excellent sponsors, and an excellent post race party place. Best of all is seeing over $10,000 raised for a Brother in need.

This is what we are called to do. Get out, make a difference and PAY FORWARD!

A cooler day in Cincinnati

A cooler day in Cincinnati

IMG_5315I’m just getting back to catching up on the blog and couldn’t miss mentioning the T2T run recently in Southwest Ohio. What a weekend it was. A busy week of work, a busy start to the weekend and then a trip south to Cincinnati to compete in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5k run. This was my second time at this run which is held at the Spring Grove Cemetery and thankfully this year it wasn’t a scorching 90 some degrees heat index. When you’re running in full fire gear you’d be amazed how only a few degrees or a change in humidity, or change in wind can make so much of a difference.

This year there were no surprises when it came to the course, it was the same as last year, and the hill was just as daunting as I remembered. The venue is quiet, set off the beaten path where you aren’t hearing the sounds of the city, and for a cemetery, fairly stunning and elaborate as you go through certain areas. If there was one thing that surprised me its that for as nice of a day as it was that the participation was down from last year. I remember last year parking further out, there being droves more of people, several more fire trucks, more firefighters in gear, and even more media that were covering it. It’s slightly disappointing to see that, given the cause and where the money goes now to making a difference in the lives of wounded Veterans that are coming home multiple amputees.

The opening ceremonies to any event like this were touching, the pipes and drums, the speakers, our National Anthem sung by a group of people, and our colors being presenting. You just can’t help but feel that pride boost in the crowd. Taking off you’re being greeted by a fellow brother from the FDNY and running surrounded by people genuinely interested in helping others and DTRT. A booster shot of brotherhood I’m sure for some, including this guy. Its not just a job or a check that we’re going after or doing our jobs for something like that, but something bigger than we are. Its about helping people. As we traversed the course its amazing the brothers and sisters that you meet, people you’ve competed against, and those new that you can pace and keep going.

Nearing the finish, one of the most remarkable sights that you can see in this event is the section surrounded on both sides by the 343 Brothers that were taken from us on 9/11/. Their faces, their names, and American Flags greeted us. If you were struggling in the race or trying to finish strong, there was nothing better than being reminded just why we are doing this. Many of us kneeling by names, some touching posters, some saluting, others removing their headphones and changing pace just to take the area was amazing to see the different reactions. Clearing the area I turned up the pace and cleared the finish with a time of 35:41 and far better than the almost 45 minutes it took last year.

What do I owe to my improvement in times? What is the difference? Check that out in an upcoming blog post.

First Ohio 9/11 Climb in the books…

First Ohio 9/11 Climb in the books…

A view from the corner of Crew Stadium in Columbus during the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
A view from the corner of Crew Stadium in Columbus during the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

Its really hard not to be moved by an event such as a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and what a blessing it was to participate with 100 of my other brothers on this past Thursday, September 11 in Columbus.  The first of the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation Memorial Stair Climbs to hit the State of Ohio it was one that I could not miss.  The event was put together in a relatively short period of time, but you couldn’t tell from the great response from the Central Ohio area.

The event took us to the Columbus Crew Stadium with plenty of parking and a great venue to climb.  Great shirts, swag, sponsors, and while it wasn’t a sunny day the breeze through the stadium made the climb easier to endure.  We paused at several benchmarks throughout the morning to mark with silence and remember the tragedy from 13 years ago.  As we progressed through the stadium the patriotic themed soundtrack played over the loudspeakers while we marched up and down nearly touching every section.

While at every one of these events there is always something that sticks with me and leaves an impact.  Sometimes that is bagpipes, sometimes the honor guard, the bells echoing, music, American flags flying, and Columbus was no different.  It was something that caught me entirely off guard, but something I have experienced before in the city.  The stadium sits very close to the pattern for air traffic to the Port Columbus International Airport and it never dawned on me that morning we would be hearing aircraft, much as our Brothers did that fateful day.  As we are assembling for the National Anthem the sound of large aircraft engines could be heard flying over.  It stuck with me as the morning went on as we got close to the time when the 180th ANG out of Toledo screamed over my head 13 years before.

What a great time it was to meet several new people and to be a part of this first climb to our State and I can’t say enough for how well it was operated.  If you get the opportunity, definitely check one of these out and get involved.  Never Forget…

Never Forget…

Never Forget…

Never Forget…

Its hard to believe that its been 13 years since that gorgeous September day, it just seems like yesterday sometimes, but then the reality hits when people seem so disconnected with 9-11-01. What’s Thursday, wow I guess that was awhile ago.  Why are we lowering the flag? Why are peoples profiles changing? What do you mean you have a ceremony to attend? Why are people quiet today? What do you mean what day is it?

As I heard Rick Lasky make reference to time and time again at his Pride and Ownership seminars, “Never forgetting means never forgetting.” This isn’t just something that a couple years after that any person in Fire, Police, EMS, or the Military would just turn off. It is our duty to remember, for those of us in this line of work, this can be compared to the Pearl Harbor of our time and one of the worst things that the United States has seen. Many things that we do have completely changed because of that single day and those events that transpired, so really you see it is hard for us to turn it off.

Its hard to turn off where you were. Those that were already in some form of service, and those that went into it afterwards know. For some it changed us, for some it made us, some it broke, and some that day it took.

I was living in Bowling Green, a firefighter at the time with a rural but active department and working for St. Vincents Lifeflight as well. That morning I was attending a college class just on the edge of Toledo, Ohio. I first found out when our dispatch center began sending messages out to our alpha pagers to all crews. At first the reports coming in were slow, this was way before social media. Then more pages, then more news, then the announcements over the PA. We didn’t learn much in class that day, but the education received on 9-11 was far more engrained into our persona.

In class with several other fire/police officers the thoughts were running rampant. Campus being closed in an emergency and everyone trying to get out it was quite the scene. We heard the jets from the 180th ANG, but little did we know what they were doing, but to hear them scream overhead we knew it wasn’t good. All circuits busy you couldn’t even call family if you tried. It was some time before I managed to get through. I remember meeting with other first responders that day, people at my own house and talking about what happened. There was an instant bond that day, and even more when we got to the firehouse, the training that night. I couldn’t tell you what we trained on, because really besides reflection, a regular meeting, and watching the television I don’t know that much else mattered. I knew I was with people that forever would be family and a part of something that was so much bigger. I don’t know many people that didn’t watch things unfold on television that day, over and over and over. Then the false alarms, the media blitz of what could be coming, the unknowns the, and what’s next, the white powder envelopes, suspicious packages, etc.

September 11, 2001 was a training night for the Central Joint Fire District whom I served with, much like tomorrow, September 11 is a training night for the Fredericktown Community Fire District where I am now. Wherever you are, whomever you’re with, take a moment, more than a moment to remember our fallen brothers. Like a family we might not always all get along, but we are family and I don’t know of too many “jobs” out there that can say they are as much a family as firefighting. Blessed with all the people I have worked with, met,

Never forget.