Thursday, May 29, 2008

Deer Run!

One thing that I love about running is that I get to see things that I normally don't get to see.  I'm going to start posting pictures of these sightings.

This morning I got out at 6:00am and ran 5.3 miles.  Yes, the .3 miles counts!  Anyway, I got to see some deer that were checking me out while running.  I think they liked my running style or they were scared of it!

IMG00021

Sorry for the grainy picture from my Blackberry Phone.  Yes, I run with my Blackberry.  You never know when you need to take a picture of something, check e-mail or call 911 for a ride home.

By the way, Birmingham, AL is a beautiful place to run!  There are a lot of runners here and a lot of hills.  Ouch!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Getting Lost

As many know, I love my Garmin GPS that I use when traveling.  It helps me get from Point A to Point B without fumbling with a map.  If you do make a wrong turn, the GPS will recalculate your route and get you back on course.  Depending on how badly you didn't listen to your GPS, you probably cost yourself a few miles or minutes. 

Well, this is fine and dandy for when you're driving, but when you're out running and make a wrong turn, miles and minutes are a bit more of a stretch.

When traveling, I use a website called MapMyRun.com to plan where I'll be running.  You can search for publicly shared running routes.  I did this before flying out and printed a route near the hotel.  The problem arises when you make the first wrong turn and all of the street names sound the same.  I also got a late start in the evening and it was getting dark.  Sorry, I cannot think of any other lame excuses.  I did have the printed map with me.

I never thought I'd get lost while running, but it was bound to happen.  I landed up doubling back on my route and ending early.  I know where I went wrong and I'll be back at it on Thursday morning.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

You've Got to Love eBay!

I just love bargains!  I mean real bargains where you're saving a great deal of money on an item and that you've got to brag to everyone.  So... I'm bragging to everyone or at least the couple of people that read this blog.

I've been using eBay for over 8 years.  I've sold and fcdallasjerseypurchased over 300+ items during that time.  I've wanted an FC Dallas jersey for the longest time, but I couldn't get over the sticker shock of $70.  I'm cheap and I like to eat... or more importantly... buy more running shorts.  Sorry, that's another blog post!

Anyway, I've watched the FC Dallas Jerseys on eBay for quite some time and finally found a seller that was selling them at a starting price of $19.99.  They had the shipping listed at $9.10.  I was willing to spend $40 on the jersey, so I set my max bid at $30.  Whenever I bid, I place my max bid on the item and leave it alone.  I do this so that I don't get caught up in the emotion of the auction.  Because next thing you know you're paying more than retail.

I won the auction with only one person bidding on it which pushed the cost up to $20.99 + $9.10 = $30.09.  Pretty great cost savings over the $70 retail price!  Mr. Colucy would be so proud!

Click here for the eBay listing of the FC Dallas jersey.  A picture of my jersey is shown with the $70 retail price tag circled.

Summary of my eBay buying tips:

  • Know the retail price.
  • Know the price of what other sellers are selling the item.
  • Determine a price that you're willing to pay for it.
  • Place your max bid of the item.
  • Make sure that your bid is minus the shipping cost.  As I mentioned I was willing to pay $40, but only bid $30.  This took into consideration the shipping costs.
  • Place the max bid and leave it alone.  This is especially true if you've done your homework and have seen the item being sold at your idea cost and there seems to be a good supply of the item that you want.  Just bid on the next one that's available.

Bonus eBay buying tips:

  • Don't buy something on eBay when it's a time sensitive need.  Shipping can take anywhere from 2-8 days depending on how quickly sellers act.
  • Read all of the terms on the Sellers page.
  • Make all transactions through eBay and PayPal!  I've had one transaction go bad.  eBay and PayPal refunded my money and then THEY pursued the bad seller!

I'll give you some eBay Selling tips in the future.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Flying Pig Pictures & Race Time

I'm still reminiscing over my awesome time in Cincinnati with my first 5K race!  Great times with Briana, Denise, Gary, Debbie, Michael, Kayla, and thousands of runners!

As mentioned before, I wanted to share pictures from the Cincinnati trip and my official 5K race time.  My official 5K race time was 31:56.  You can check out my results page to see how I faired against everyone else and guys in the same age range.  My goal is to get this below 31 minutes so that I'm running less than a 10 minute mile.  I can do this on my own and hope to do it on June 7th at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K race in Plano.  If you're bored on June 7th and don't want to sleep in... come root Briana and I on as we run the 5K.  Yes, she'll be running as well.  I think she might have the running bug!

I was hoping to get pictures from Debbie & Denise's cameras, but was just too crazy busy having fun to get them.  Maybe I'll get them when I see them again in a few weeks.  Yes, I'm coming back to Cleveland.  Contact me for exact dates.  Below are the pictures that I took during our trip.  Click on the pictures to go to the Photo Album.

You can check out the pictures taken at the Finish Line by the official race Photographer.

Below is a picture of me running with Denise during her marathon run.  She taught me to look out for the cameramen and to pop out a good smile!  Great advice!

MarathonRun-DeniseMark

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Inspiration

I've heard it said several times before from Pastor Gerald Brooks, our Senior Pastor at Grace Outreach Center... When you walk into a room, do people think "YEAH, there's _______" or "Oh NO, there's _______"?

This all comes from our attitude!  We have a choice everyday how we're going to behave and act toward others.  It all starts with a simple smile and a positive attitude. 

Some are going to get tired of hearing this, but... I'm not tired of sharing the positive attitude of my sister, Denise.  She always seems to have a smile on her face.  This is especially true when it comes to the subjects of her family and running.  A huge reason that I took up running was because of that smile and positive attitude.  An awesome by-product was the great weight loss and healthier lifestyle that I've experienced.

I'm honored that I've been able to touch others lives by sharing what I've been doing through changing my lifestyle to a healthier one.  My daily prayer is to be used by God to touch others positively.  This at times is a hard thing to live up to, but ultimately that's why I'm here... to glorify God through my actions.

I'm proud of Carl, and Ray & Nellie from my Sunday morning Life Group and Jeannine - one of my church customers in Scottsdale, AZ.  They've all started the Couch to 5K program and are doing very well!  If there's anyone else out there, please comment and let us know how you're doing.

I love what Carl said to me on Sunday... "I can just feel the pounds coming off" as he held his mid-section.  Running will become easier as the weight comes off.  Since I've lost 30+ pounds, I like to say that it's easier to run without having to carry 2 bowling balls with me.

Keep running!  You can do this program!  It was designed for me, you and others in mind!

Lastly, make sure to share your new healthy lifestyle with others. Be an inspiration!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cairo's a Champion!

Cairo-BJ Cairo's soccer team had another awesome soccer tournament this weekend! They were runner ups in the Shawnee Trail Shoot Out Soccer Tournament in Frisco. They won 4 out of 5 of their games in making it to the finals. I've never seen the boys/men play harder than in this tournament! The final game was the toughest as we were a pretty big underdog. Our biggest rival lost to them with a score of 8-1. They were the only of 4 teams to score against them. In the final game against what could have definitely been a select team, we scored first within the first couple of minutes. They dominated a majority of the possession and scored 7 points. We scored twice more at the end of the game to finish with a score of 7-3.

Seems pretty lopsided, but we gave them the biggest fight that they had all tournament long. They even started to resort to unsportsman like activity such as a higher level of physical play which resulted in 2 yellow cards. They also had their share of dives which were really not needed from a team of this caliber.

Check out the tournament results to see how Cairo's team, Stampede, did during the entire tournament.

Stampede-051808

I'm proud of how hard Cairo plays on the field. He really puts everything into the game. I'm so glad that he enjoys the sport.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Briana's a Champion!

Briana-WesterTrophyBriana's 8th Grade Soccer Team did it again!  For the second year in a row they won the end of season soccer tourney for the Frisco Middle Schools.  The girls played real hard and the last game was crazy competitive with a score of 2-1.

I got to see her third game, but missed out on the first two games because of work.  I missed out on her second game where she scored a goal!  I'm so proud of her hard work and tenacity on the soccer field.  She plays to win, but is not dominated by only winning, but doing her absolute best.  She also expects the same out of her teammates and is frustrated when they don't give a 100% on the field.WesterSoccerTeam

Friday, May 16, 2008

DC08 Happenings

Wow!  What a fun filled day!  It's been so great to catch up with so many of my previous and current churches at the Dynamic Church Conference.  It's also great to put names to faces for the churches that I work with exclusively over the phone and Internet.  Y'all look good in person!  :)

It's been said in our company that I have a twin... his name is Patrick.  It became quite evident when I had someone come up to me in the afternoon and say that they liked part of my presentation.  After they explained it... I said I didn't say that.  At that point, they figured out that I wasn't Patrick.  Too funny!  Well, below is a picture of my twin and myself.  I'm the one on the left!  :)

I presented 1 Hands-On Training Lab and 2 Presentations.  All in all, I think they went pretty well.  They seemed like they were well attended and quite interactive.  I love seeing the "head nods" going on when people get it!

Today I've got 3 Hands-On Training Labs and 1 Presentation to look forward to.  It's going to be another fun filled day!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dynamic Church Conference

Dynamic Church ConferenceIt's time for my company's annual conference - Dynamic Church Conference Thursday - Saturday, May 15th - 17th.  I'm going to be quite busy.  If you're going to be there - Awesome!  If not, I'll miss you!  Below is where I'll be at just in case you want to put a name with a face.

Thursday

  • 10:00am - 12:00pm -- POWER START TRAINING LAB - Activity Configuration - Student Ministries - Sea Biscuit
  • 1:00pm - 2:00pm -- Attending Jeff Hook's Keynote
  • 2:15pm - 3:15pm -- PRESENTATION - Activity Configuration - Mission Trips - Erudia Room
  • 4:45pm - 5:45pm -- PRESENTATION - Contributions Processing - Best Practices - Lebanon Room
  • 6:30pm - 8:00pm -- Group Dinner

Friday

  • 8:30am - 9:15am -- Attending Curtis Simmons' Keynote
  • 9:30am - 10:30am -- TRAINING LAB - F1 Champion - Comanche Room
  • 10:45am - 11:45am -- PRESENTATION - Activity Configuration - Student Ministries - Lebanon Room
  • 11:45am - 1:00pm -- Birds of a Feather Lunch
  • 1:15pm - 2:45pm -- TRAINING LAB - Worship Services - Gallant Fox Room
  • 3:00pm - 4:30pm -- TRAINING LAB -  Activity Configuration - Mission Trips - Ranger Room
  • 7:30pm - 10:00pm -- Live Worship Concert with Lincoln Brewster

Saturday

  • 9:00am - 9:45am -- Attending Randy Draper's Keynote
  • 10:00am - 12:00pm -- Ask The Experts - Delivery Team - Bass/Bush Room

I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone that I've worked with in the past and am currently working with now. 

Monday, May 12, 2008

Michael's First Communion

Saturday was a fun filled day with the highlight being the celebration of Michael's First Communion.  It's so great seeing this young man grow up loving the Lord.  To the right is a picture of Michael and his God Parents - Denise and myself.  It's funny how Kayla still got in the picture.  She's in the background.

I thank God for the gift of his Son.

Luke 22:17-20

17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

 19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

 20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Other happenings on Saturday... As mentioned before I ran 6 miles in the early morning.  Then we saw a show called Phonk compliments of Debbie.  She couldn't go to the show since the First Communion was scheduled at the same time.  Thanks Debbie!  Later in the day, I had dinner with one of my high school friends that I lost touch with.  It was great to catch up with him and reminisce about our young mischievous days.

28 Miles Running in Ohio

Last week I ran the most miles ever in a week. Here's a recap of what I ran:

  • Saturday - 3.1 miles in the first 5K race in Cincinnati.
  • Sunday - 8 miles with Denise during her marathon run. Mile 15-16 and then mile 19-26. Cincinnati
  • Tuesday - 4.5 miles on my own on the ever exciting treadmill at a hotel in Columbus.
  • Thursday - 7 miles with Denise in the Cleveland Metro Parks. What a beautiful place to run! I will be seeking these type of places out when running.
  • Saturday morning - 6 miles with Denise and friends again in the Cleveland Metro Parks, but a different starting location. It was neat to run with others for the first time. A lot of great conversation! We got to talk bad about our husbands... just kidding. It's incredible how fast the time goes when you're running with others. I cannot wait to hook up with some runners locally.

Here's a picture of myself and Denise before our run on Thursday night. All smiles before the run! OK - we were all smiles during and after the run as well!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

My good old... I mean young dad just had a birthday yesterday.  Happy Birthday Dad!  It was great being able to celebrate it with him.  I met him for a workout in the morning at his gym in Avon Lake.  He had fun wearing me out!  I'm used to using those fancy shmancy nautilus machines at the fitness center.  He re-introduced me to the iron - weights.  How fun!  When on the bench with the dumb bells, he told that it wasn't a good idea to lift them over my face.

We had dinner with my fave sisters - Deanna, Denise, & Debbie.  Here's a picture of Dad and myself enjoying a fun night out.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Happy Mothers Day, Mom!

I got the great pleasure of visiting with my mom a few days before Mother's Day.  I met her at the Seniors Citizen where she was playing cards.  I surprised her with some flowers which made her day as she showed them off to everyone.

Here's a picture of myself and my Mom!Mark-Mom

It was great being able to watch her in action with the other ladies!  They're pretty cut throat... they wouldn't let me play.  :(

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Biggest Loser

As I mentioned before, my company that I work at, Fellowship Technologies, had a Biggest Loser contest that ran from February 1st - May 1st.  As a team doing this we saw a lot of great changes for the better.  Lo and behold... I won!  From February 1st - May 1st, I lost 25 pounds.  I also had a goal of running a 5K... we know about that story already.  :)

Thanks to Tammy, our HR Guru for putting this program in place.  Also, big thanks to Nick and the other team members for encouraging me even though I only made one of the training sessions.

The ironic thing is that on my way to Ohio to work with a church there, I was sitting one row away from Jillian from the Biggest Loser.  How crazy is that?  I didn't go up to her, but I was definitely tempted to do so.  I didn't actually know it was her until I heard her talking on the home.  No mistaking that voice!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What a weekend!

I'm posting this from the Cincinnati Airport. What an incredible weekend! First, I had a great time running my first FK and then today was Denise's turn to rock out there with her Marathon run!

Denise did a great job running today. She had a couple of blisters that she had to bottle through. Also, she was getting through some stomach problems. Despite these challenges, she wasn't too far off from her PR (Personal Record). I couldn't help myself and had to run with her. I ran with her for a mile and a half at about mile 15. Then I ran with her from mile 19 to 26. I didn't intend to run with her for 7 miles, but felt good at mile 23 and there was ONLY 4 miles left! I'm paying for it now... my legs are very sore!

Did I mention that it rained yesterday? :) Here are a couple of pictures of Briana and I after the race soaked. I'll be posting more pictures later.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My First 5K

First of all, I need to give God all the glory!  He's so awesome with giving me the confidence and capability to use the body that he gave me!

I did it!  I ran my first 5K!  I love saying my "first 5K" because I'm sure that there'll be plenty more.

Denise-Briana-MarkIt was great to run with my sister, Denise and my daughter, Briana.  Here's a picture of us after we ran.  Briana decided that, yes, should we would run the race with us after all.  I'm so happy that she did!  She was quite the natural!

There are so many thoughts running through my head after running the race.

Before the start of the race was a challenge as we tried to find the port-a-potties for one last pit stop.  They were a bit out of the way.  We got back to the start line with a few minutes to go.  We lined up at about 3/4 of the way in the back of the pack.  The START was announced and it was pretty exciting as we waited for our turn to start.  It was weird running with a whole bunch of other runners as I've been at this running thing on my own.  At first I wasn't sure about my pace, but my plan was just to keep comfortable and not push myself.  The start of the race is a bit crazy because we're all bunched up together.  It takes a bit more to get around people and to make sure that I'm not in the way of others.  Also, I just had these crazy butterflies flying around.  I haven't had those since seeing Ursula for the first time!  :)

The three of us stayed together until about .8 mile.  Denise and Briana trailed back a bit at their pace.  I was on my own until about 2.2 miles and then Briana caught up with me.  She stayed long enough to say "HEY!" and then ran off at her pace.

I had fun feeding off the supporters and slapping everyone FIVE as I ran by.  It was such a great celebration!

I'm not sure of my exact finishing time.  I think it was at about 31:50.  I can live with that!  It was fun getting my medal, water, gatorade, snacks, and my own mylar blanket after the race.  You know you're a runner when you get a mylar blanket!

The 5K was fast and a bit short lived... I cannot wait to do a 10K and am ultimately looking forward to the Half Marathon in November!  After the run, I just wanted to stay and hang out with my new found friends.

The only negative thing is that it was raining at about mile 2.  However, the temperature was in the 60's and it wasn't too bad.

One tip for ya'll... if you're going to run your first 5K, try to run it in conjunction with a large event such as a marathon.  The atmosphere is so much more exciting.  It's also cool to go to the Runner's Expo to get a whole bunch of free goodies.

I'll post pictures, additional thoughts, and my true time later.

Thanks to Denise, Briana, Gary, Debbie, Michael, and Kayla for being there for my first race.  You guys rock!