52 Cards : Core Workout Card Game

I wanted to do focus on Cross Training this month as one of my resolutions.  Which was very successful.  I rode my bike 3 times a week as opposed to running.  Giving me knees a much-needed break.  Fall is just around the corner and there is nothing better than a jog in the autumn air.

However, I also wanted to refocus on the core.  I will admit that during the summer months, I don’t go to the gym.  Too many outdoor activities to take in before Central New York turns back into a frozen tundra.

Late in July, I stumbled across a TedEX Talk by Ray Lewis..

He spoke passionately about how, when he was growing up, he would have to watch his mother be physically abused by his step father.  “Her face would be so battered at bruised, that she would wear sunglasses in the house for days.”

Ray didn’t have the muscle to defend her so he took a deck of cards.  He flipped the first one and it read “7”.  He went down and did 7 push ups.  Flipped the next card “6” , six push ups.  Then so on and so forth.

When he would reach the end of the deck the would shuffle them up and start again.  But this time he would do sit ups.

Now I don’t have an as compelling  and heartwarming story as he does.  But what I do have is a busy mind and a busier body.

So in August, in between my so to-do list each day,   I played the card game.  I would do them until I couldn’t do them anymore. or I run out of time.  Some days my arms would not have the strength to push my body up one more time.

Day 1 push – ups :  I started with 62 push ups.   By 8/24  I had reached 164 in a day

Day  1 crunches:  Started with 116 crunches.  By 8/25 I had  reached 420 in a day.  (drawing 3 cards at a time)

At the end of the month I can differently feel it in my chest and abdominal muscles.

But the most important thing I am learning from the year all together is…I’m not 18 anymore and I will never look like that again.  The “Dad Bod” is here to stay.  But that doesn’t mean I need to let me conditioning and strength slide.  Just the work that I do won’t have as many noticeable effects and I can live with that

Here’s a link to Ray’s TexEx Talk here.  Truly a motivational story.




Breaking Bad Habits : Eating a proper breakfast

Being a natural morning person, you would think that I would take the time to eat a nutritional breakfast.  

The reality is that the time between rolling out of bed and the time I disarm the codes at work is only about thirty minutes which includes a ten minute commute.  

I only have enough time to get dressed and get out the door.  Then I’m thrown into my morning ritual and it doesn’t hit me until about two hours later that I’m starving.  

By then the grill is going and well as the ovens.  Breakfast usually consists of pizza, pasta, or sandwich…I know, gross.  

So to break this habit that surely keeps me from dropping a couple pant sizes, I stopped by the local store and grabbed a dozen eggs and a bunch of bananas.

As soon as I got to work at 6AM I would crack a few open, grab a saute pan and scramble.  Then throw in whatever left -overs there were at the restaurant.  Maybe some spinach or broccoli.  Or if I was lucky there would be some ham.  

I love scrambled eggs and because they are so cheap, I can cut down my food cost while cutting down my weight at the same time.  I also found that I stay full longer when i’m not eating garbage.  

Web MD had the following to say about eating a healthy breakfast

“Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast (as opposed to the kind containing doughnuts) can help give you:

  • A more nutritionally complete diet, higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
  • Improved concentration and performance in the classroom or the boardroom.
  • More strength and endurance to engage in physical activity.”

Return To Road Work

It’s been two weeks since the Boilermaker road race and I needed to give my legs a long rest. 

Running is arguably the best cardiovascular exercise.  However, it’s so high impact that it tears your body up.  And the bigger you are the higher the impact.  

So in the meantime, I indulged in a modest splurge, and bought a bike.   I haven’t rode a bike in almost 15 years so I was a little rusty but it was a great way to stay active.   Cycling is such a low impact sport that injury rarely occurred.

Today, I took a nice jog and it felt amazing.  I’m looking forward to cross training on the bike while I recover between runs. 

A Race Like No Other : Utica Boilermaker 


“I don’t want your time.  I want your best. ” 2014 Tough Mudder

For the 6th consecutive year I head to Utica for the greatest 15K race in America.

Every year, on the second Sunday of July local Uticans and running enthusiasts are joined by the most elite distance runners in the world for the annual Boilermaker

If you have been following my blog you know that I have been working very hard to get in shape for this event.  Not focusing so much on time but completing it without walking.

I may have finished this race 5 times before but I have only ran start to finish one time back in 2012.

I will touch on the pro and cons of straight running and using the run/walk method some other day.

Starting Line and Mile 1:

15,000 runners file into their starting areas  based on their running speed. as the national anthem is played.  8am on the dot, the gun fires while the Rocky Theme plays in an endless loop

As I reach the starting line on Culver Ave, I pass the street corner where I took my driving test to get my license all those years ago.  All East Utica Residents are out to cheer on their local runners.  I see one of my first managers from the grocery store on the side lines.


9,2 mile guy

Mile 2 The International Mile:

As you past the one mile mark to enter what is known as the International Mile.  Here you are met by volunteer organizations singing and dancing in support of the runners.

Irish Dancers, Egyptian Belly Dances, Etc all make appearances and it’s always a great site to see.

Mile 3 The Parkway:

After we pass the local Community College, MVCC we turn unto the historic Utica Parkway.

This is where the über rich of Utica live, but they all come out to show their support by handing out $100s of dollars in popicles  to the runners.

I’m still holding up well.  I’m going slow and steady because I know the worst part is coming

Mile 4 Valley View Hill

Hardest Part right here.  We hang a left and start heading up a steep hill towards the Valley View Golf Course.

Once you make the right onto the course you have to clime the most brutal switch back in the entire course.  I know that if I can make it up this hill without stopping,  I can do the entire race.

This is where I put my head down and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

When you hit the top you are on top of the world as you are met with the picturesque view of the Mohawk Valley, guess that’s where the golf course got its name.

Mile 5 – Return to the park way and South Utica

Down the hill and out the back exit of Valley View.    Make the left back unto the Parkway and don’t forget to pet the snake that’s waiting on the outside of the Utica Zoo entrance.

Now, we head into South Utica where I spent a lot of time growing up.  Just down the street is my grandmas house as well as my old school and church.

Mile 6 -Burrstone Road

Face a little bit of a hill here as we turn on Burrstone Road.  Just down the road is where I had my first job bagging groceries and played all my years of baseball.


Mile 7 Utica college

Make a right and there is St. Luke’s Hospital on the left where my brother Cameron was born and on the right is Utica College when I attended college.  Seems like forever ago.

And there it is “Michael Haddad’s Water Station”.  Dedicated to my cousin who went to Utica College and died of cancer at a very young age.


Mile 8 Yorkville

Here is where the fan support really picks up.

The entire race I make it a point to give “5” to anyone offering it and say hello to everyone I know. (Something I used to avoid)

The firefighters have the sprinkles out for a little cool down

Mile 9 Homestretch 

As we come to West Utica, my abdominal cramps start getting out of hand.  I need to take a 10 second breather to get it to stop.  But then I sprint for a good 15 second to make up the lost time and because I continued to run afterwards without stopping I don’t consider that a failure.

Now, I can see the finish line right outside the Saranac Brewery as I pick up the pace.

The announcer calls out my name as I finish my 6th Boilermaker and 2nd without stopping.

My wife and son are there to meet me as I bask in my own glory.

All my hard work has paid off.   Until next year Utica.


Cazenovia 5K : Return To Road Races

The last time I ran at 5K race was in December of 2012.   I may have done the TM and Boilermaker every year since but my training and performance were mediocre at best.

So on the morning of 4th of July with less than a week before the Boilermaker Race, I headed up to Cazenovia for their 45th Annual 4th of July Foot Races.

I love Caz.  So many cool restaurants and shops.  Not to mention so many interconnected hiking trails.

There was a 10 mile loop around the lake but I opted for the 3.1 Mile race considering I haven’t ran that long in so long and I have to do 9.3 miles this Sunday.


1K – “No Hurry” by Zac Brown Band

I start out at a moderate pace.  Biggest mistake by a runner is to “come out to early” I.e.  Starting too fast and wasting all your energy.

Turn the corner on Emory Drive and there it is…huge hill.  I flip on my music and on comes Zac Brown Band.

I won’t be in any hurry getting up this hill
2K – “Devil went down to Georgia” Charlie Daniels Band

At the top of the hill we hit the 1K mark.  Time to pick up the pace and the tempo.  Charlie Daniel’s awesome fiddle work will do the trick.


3K  “Lose Yourself” Eminem

Like so many races before,  I depend on my mind and music to get me through these runs.  It’s more of a mental sport than anything.   The minutes and miles can go so much faster if you let your mind wonder and let the music take you somewhere else.

I’m a big country music fan but I find it hard to run to.  So I keep some high tracks with a higher tempo handy for when I run.

 This song makes me think about my days in the boarding house.  When I had to worry about what time I came home in fear of being assualted.  And what it would take to dig myself out.  

The run is easier now.  Steady down hill. 


4K “Invincible” Machine Gun Kelley

Waking up sweatin from the stress of being caged down

Everything I write is played out like what is this?
Tear the whole page out
Man I come from holes in the wall but they don’t know the path
Even if I told them it all, they wouldn’t know the half”

I only snap back to reality when the volunteers shout out the times at each kilometer marker.  

I’m going up a hill again and now for the first time.  I’m winded.  

5K ” Not Afraid”  Eminem

The thought of walking crosses my mind…but only for an instant.  

I remember how much work I had to do just to get back to running 3 miles.  How just last year I had the beginnings of a bad little drinking habit  that left me very out of shape and irritable.  

“It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me
Admittedly, I probably did it subliminally
For you, so I could come back a brand new me you helped see me through”

Soon I could see the finish line and I turned up the heat. 

“If you can fill the unforgiving Minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything that’s in it”

It was a great run.  No personal records were broken but it feels great to be back at it.  


A good day to tackle nagging tasks.  

With a day off, but frequent rain showers in the forecast I decided it was a good day to knock out some things I’ve been procrastinating on.  

I did however start the day with a relaxing walk in Fayetteville. 

I went to the doctor to get checked out.  Don’t worry, I’m fine and I’m sorry to be ambiguous, but I will talk about it when the time is right.  

Look at those calf muscles though.

Got my car to get inspected and had a few repairs made.  Love those Nissans.  4 years and it’s barely given me a problem dispite  being close to 150,000 miles on it.  

Park break. 

Spent the afternoon, between thunderstorms, playing with my new power washer.  Giving my gutters, siding, and deck relief from the green grime that forms on houses.    My gutters literally had plants growing in them.  

Came to a sad realization today….

Lucas is too tall to play in the kids area at at mall.  😅

I’m hoping the weather with cooperate tomorrow so we can go somewhere in the afternoon.  

One final note.  Please pray for my grandma Barb.  She is in the hospital.

Find an area of refuge

I feel that’s important for everyone to have their own place.  

A place to be alone.  A place to reflect and clear the mind.  

For me.  I actually have a few places I go to write, to think, to be happy

The home office : George Carlin once said “I just need a little place for my stuff.” And that’s what my former pantry, hide away is.  The family can have the rest of the house.  It can’t be more that 6ft by 6 ft.   But it contains 30 years of memories.

The back deck: Not many things more relaxing than sitting out on the back deck while the sun sets after a long day.  

Empty Road or Trail at 5AM: inner peace and an endorphin rush.   Jogging as the sun comes up before the rest of the world rushes around you and sweeps you away.

The Restaurant Roof: when things get stressful in work or life there is one place I can go where no one will find me.  Up the utility ladder of my restaurant.   Whether is early in the morning or after a punishing rush.  15 ft in the air feels like miles away from all troubles.