Archive for August, 2009

Can Kids Getting Along Without It?
August 26, 2009

This is going to make me very unpopular with the youth of western Pennsylvania and particularly the students the Ambrigde School District.

Right now, the district is CONSIDERING a ban on students having cell phones on campus. Administrators say the students use these phones to text and send pictures, some obscene in nature, as well as cheating on tests by having the answers “texted” to them.

Students, as you might imagine, are taking the other view on this. They find the policy restrictive and some believe it puts them in danger. Their contention? What do we do in case there is an emergency at home or involving our parents? They need to be able to get a hold of us. One student Channel 4 Action News reporter Sheldon Ingram spoke with says she is a diabetic and its just easier to contact her mom directly than going to the nurse and making a call.

OK, I am over 40 but I am not so old that I can’t remember what school was like before cell phones. If my parents needed to get a hold of me, they would call the school office and the office would call down to my room and I would go from there. No cell phone involved. No cell phone needed. Why can’t we use that system today? Last I checked, cell phones and texting were no faster than making a call to the school.

kidstext

I’m going to say this: THERE IS NO REASON A STUDENT IN SCHOOL NEEDS A CELL PHONE. If there is an emergecny, there’s only place the police, the fire department or your parents are going to find you … and that is at school. If you’re not at school, then there is a problem because you are someplace you shouldn’t be.

Look, I know cell phones and blackberrys have become our third appendage and goodness knows I take it everywhere – even to the set. Still, you don’t need to text your friend between classes or during class. You don’t need to hop on-line every five seconds for the latest news. You don’t need it guys. Leave it at home. Leave it in your locker. Just leave it out of class.

Want to contact a friend during class? Pass a note. Better yet, don’t talk to the other students in class. Focus on class for 50 minutes. There will be plenty of time to talk and text with your friends.

Also, don’t worry about being able to be reached for that possible emergency. If you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing, mom and dad will know where to find you.

Advertisements

Playing Fair?
August 24, 2009

In the “War On Terror” , what are the rules on engagement?

When your country’s security is on the line – and the last time we were caught flatfooted, it wound up in the death of hundreds of Americans in a single day. That say was September 11, 2001.

The reason I ask this question is because of the release of new documents detailing CIA tactics against terrorism suspects in custody. Those revelations include threatening to kill one suspect’s children and another suspect forced to watch his mother be sexually assaulted. These incidents all took place prior to 2006.  The Obama administration has now launched a criminal investigation into activities they describe as “unauthorized … ( and ) inhumane”.

These are clearly extreme examples of prison abuse, but this whole issue begs the question about how much is too much in the effort to prevent this country from terrorist activity. Is there a line we should not cross because “we are Americans”? If that’s the case, then we find ourselves in a fistfight with one hand tied behind our back because we have found terrorists have no problem using bombs and doing things that would not be considered exactly “fair”.

Then again, should this nation play by our enemy’s rules and engage in the sort of activity that allegedly the CIA did in getting information from terror suspects. Yes, torture and abuses like “waterboarding” I would assume would be effective, but its clearly not humane. Is beating the bad guy at their own game the way to win the “war on terror” which we are clearly still fighting as a nation.

It’s an interesting dilemma … and there are no easy answers. Sure, we as a people like to think ourselves beyond such abuse and savagery, believing we are a compassionate people. However, this is the same nation that once practice  slavery for African-Americans and prison camps for those of Japanese descent during World War II. The latter was used in the name of national security.

I admit I do not know the answer to how this country should pursue interrogation in the name of national security. I’m no expert in this field. What I do know is that its difficult to wage any kind of war when your opponent doesn’t fight fair. I also know that if another 9-11, heaven forbid, happens again we will collectively ask why our intelligence community didn’t do more to warn us.

Just something to keep in mind as this CIA case unfolds.

The Face Behind the Blog
August 24, 2009

We have all learned the pros and cons of blogging anonymously this week.

Perhaps Pittsburgh’s best-known blogger, “PittGirl” outed herself  this week. The move made headlines in a way few in local cyberspace have done. However, the unveiling of  Virginia Martanez all cost her a paycheck. She was fired by her employer, the Negro Education Emergency Drive. I sense because the people she often criticized in her blog were likely some of  the same people donating to the non-profit.

It was her life as “PittGirl” that turned her writings and opinions from just another blogger who writes well into the city’s first cyber-celebrity. A recent article on CNN.com illustrated the perils and powers of life as an anonymous blogger.

There is no doubt you have a sense of bravado that would not exist if your name was printed. Let’s face it, as much as I would like to, there are certain subjects on which I cannot take sides. Heck, there are certain things I cannot mention because of who I am and what I do. However, being anonymous as a blogger would allow me to talk about such things.

At the same time, I personally find it cowardly when anyone hops on one of those message boards, adopts a on-line tag name and then rips you to shreds. It would seem to be no different here, except these bloggers are writing full commentaries instead of one line saying “you stink”.

At the same time, anonymity can be a necessary shield. Imagine ( if you can ) the world without “Deep Throat”: the insider who outed President Nixon. He wasn’t a blogger but at the time he fulfilled that role … telling reporters about the “high crimes and misdemeanors” which took place in the Nixon White House. Today, some bloggers provide insight that cast  a spotlight on improprieties in government as well as wrong-doing or just bad decision-making by our elected leaders.

I think in the final analysis, many bloggers are just people who have something to say. They maybe writers who want to share their works with the world. They maybe people looking to make serious change. For all we know, they maybe 13-year-old kids testing the power of the internet.

The one thing to remember is that blogging is more often that not opinion – and that includes my blog. It’s written from the point of view of the author, anonymous or not, and that everything that is written needs to be seen through that lens.

As for Montanez, she has proven to be a savvy writer and it’s not only her message, but her style that got people’s attention. It certainly got mine as a occasional reader of her blog.

What’s next for her?: She says in her comments following her firing: “I just want to write and get paid for it”.

I’m sure she will.

“Shaq vs” Ben …. Two Thumbs Up!
August 19, 2009

I’m no TV critic but I know what I like and what I don’t … and I’m not a big fan of reality TV. Now that might sound strange from a guy who works for a TV station affiliated with a network which has built its audience recently on “The Bachelor”, “Dancing with the Stars” and “Dating in the Dark”. However, I am also a TV viewer and long for the days of a good drama or a well-written comedy.

That’s why I didn’t have high hopes for “Shaq Vs”. The premise is NBA star Shaquille O’Neal taking on some of the greatest athletes in the world in their chosen sport. Sounds like a six-week TV experiment and I didn’t think it would last past the first episode, but they threw a wrench in my prediction: Ben Roethlisberger.

Now I will admit I do see the world through black and gold colored glasses, but I live in Pittsburgh and will always look at shows on the city with a more critical eye. Still, I didn’t know if the “Pittsburgh Connection” would keep me glued.

Then came the surprise. Incredible visuals of our city from new and different angles. I have seen shots from Mount Washington, but not like these. They were quick, but they were well done and breath-taking. Then, Shaq went to Ben’s house. As far as I know, there has been no video inside Ben’s pad. It was truly interesting to look inside Ben’s place. He’s a multi-millionaire who lives like most bachelors: the trophies on the mantle; six different kids of furniture in one room; the black leather recliner.

The show took Shaq, and we as viewers, never get to see. Even the media is not allowed in the Steelers training room but the show took us there. We often don’t get a chance to see Ben so relaxed and at ease but we did in this show.

Then, there was the competition between Ben & Shaq. What should have been a rout turned out a close contest which Ben won with a game-winning drive in the closing seconds … just like Super Bowl XLIII.

Will it be a ratings hit nationally? Probably not, but it was certainly a night for Pittsburgh to be proud … and a rare night for me when I found reality TV to be fun.

p.s. A little insight:If you did watch tonight’s show, you may have seen the pre-game press conference and meeting with the media about 17 minutes in. If you remember, Ben was wearing a brown pinstripe suit. It was the same suit he wore when he made his brief statement about the civil suit filed against him in Lake Tahoe. Amazing. The same day he was under the microscope, he shot a more playful segment with Shaq. Just a little insight for you.

Swimming Into Social Media
August 18, 2009

By now, those of you who read my blog know that I like to Facebook … a lot.

I find Facebook an easy way to communicate with large numbers of people, some viewers and others friends. It’s fun, its easy and its often a chance to share a little more of myself than I can during 90 minutes of news. Also, its a way for viewers to connect to us and perhaps form a bond that will lead to them forming a connection with our newscast.

However, Facebook isn’t the only way to reach the world via “social media”. There’s MySpace which I don’t do, probably because MySpace just isn’t as hip as it used to be … and also its much easier to use Facebook on my Blackberry.

Then, there is Twitter. It has become the break hit in the social media world because of its easy and constant ability to update your thoughts, situation and feelings. It even has its own language. When you use twitter you are sending “tweets”. These tweets have become popular not just with kids, teens and those living outside the mainstream media but now those inside the mainstream.

twitterBroadcasters, marketers and corporate America has hopped on the Twitter bandwagon, yet somehow the technology has not jumped the shark. It’s only become more popular … and I’m afraid I’m still trying to catch up. Tonight, I gained a greater appreciation of the Twitter world.

I attended #journchatpgh. It was a gathering of bloggers, students and media members here in Pittsburgh and we held  an internet conversation with #journchat groups in Chicago, Minneapolis and other cities. One group would start the discussion and others would pick up on it. We discussed everything from the impact of Twitter on protest groups at the G20 to whether Twitter should be banned from college sporting events because it would serve as de-facto broadcasting outlet.

The bottom line is that I learned Twitter is the up-and-coming social medium and while I will continue to use Facebook extensively, I will be doing more and more Twittering ( with any luck ) and hopefully doing both try and reach even more people. It’s an exciting new world. Just wish I could put my Blackberry down for a few minutes.

Cleaning Out the Thought Closet … Again
August 15, 2009

Every now and then, I like to take a few moments before leaving for the weekend to clean out the thought closet. Just dispense with some random observations from the week that was. This week, there are really only two things have me thinking.

Health Care Turns Hostile

 Three things are now guaranteed in life: death, taxes and people screaming at one of  these healthcare “town hall” meetings. If you turn on any news program, you see videos of people screaming at these democratic legislators hosting these forums to discuss the Obama health care reform plan. This week, the circus came to Kittaning, Armstrong county and yes, it has become a circus.

 There are pundits who claim this vocal discussion harkens back to the roots of our country in which people exercised the rights to discourse they were denied in England that’s why they came to this country. People, if our founding fathers argued like this we wouldn’t have been able to figure out what colors would go on the flag much less how we should form a “more perfect union”.

APTOPIX Health Care Specter

The heat is on at a local health care town hall hosted by Sen. Arlen Spector

Whether its orchestrated or a real outburst of individual anger, it makes those engaged in it on both sides look silly. I mean nothing is being decided in these meetings and people act as if the fate of the free world is being decided in this question-and-answer session.

Now I have not read the Obama plan nor do I have a feeling about it. Then again, I wonder if the people involved in these protests have read it either. I did talk to one legislator, Republican Tim Murphy, who made a great point. Whatever reform is selected, its going to affect this country for the next half century. So why rush through it? Let’s take our time and discuss it, learn about it and then have an intelligent discussion about it.

What this has become is a devise and destructive exercise that guarantees we will likely get some kind of reform that won’t please anyone.

The Return of Michael Vick

If you ever wondered about our passion for a nation as pets, look no further than the case of Michael Vick. The quarterback who had it all, lost it when he was indicted and sent to prison on dogfighting charges. The case struck a chord not only with animal activists, but everyday people who have pets … like myself.

Now, Vick is out of prison and getting a “second chance” in the form of a $1.6M contract from the Philadelphia Eagles. The news had my Facebook mail hit with several people letters from people asking why. Why should he get a second chance?

Heres’ why: our society is built on second chances and forgiveness. The basic tenant that guides our legal system in fair punishment for crimes, but an opportunity for some sort of chance to make amends except in death penalty cases. Vick DID his time according to a court and his free to earn a living in his chosen vocation. Want to get mad at someone? Get mad at a legal system which treats the taking of  animal life less serious than the taking of human life.

vick

A second chance for Michael Vick:  Does he deserve it?

Here’s the other truth: you can do anything short of murder and still play pro sports as long as you can produce. That’s not cynical, that’s reality. I guarantee you Vick is the only guy in the system of dogfighting charges who just got out of prison and got $1.6M. It’s because he’s a 29-year-old football player. If he’s a 29-year-old doing anything else, he’s an ex-felon struggling to be hired.

OK, the thought drawer is cleaned out. Have a great weekend all.

Going “Sideways” at Seven Springs
August 14, 2009

It’s one of my favorite films of all-time … and I’m not sure why.

The 2004 film is called “Sideways”, starring Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen. It’s a comedy, a drama and a character study all rolled into one. The story appears to be about two college buddies who go a way for a weekend in California’s wine country before one gets married. In truth, its the tale of  a man reaching midlife and not being able to deal with the reality of a life unfulfilled.

SIDEWAYS

Scene from the film “Sideways”: Oferring lessons about wine & life

What makes this mid-life crisis tale so different than others is the use of wine as a metaphor for life. Wine is more than a prop in the film, its a living symbol of the highs and lows of life. I remember the one line from Virginia Madsen in the film that spoke to me. She said of wine, “it breathes and lives because when you open it, it tastes unique on that day”. In essence, a bottle of wine will never taste the same every day … because it constantly evolves.

Before you think I’ve become a wine snob, let me explain.

There was something about the film that spoke to me … about life and wine. Shortly after, I started to try different wines as well as sample some in my house. I started sniffing and smelling it before I drank it. I paid attention to color and hue. Most importantly, I realized White Zinfandel in a box IS NOT wine. White Zinfandel, for that matter, is not wine. It wasn’t because I thought win would hold the answer to all of life’s questions, rather because maybe by understanding this unusual beverage I would be better able to understand life itself.

I also got into wine festivals and this weekend, I’m headed up to 7 Springs for one of the area’s best wine festivals. Their 17th annual Wine & Food Festival is both a chance to experience more than a dozen wine from Pennsylvania and learn about the world of wine. Plus, you will be able to see how wine adds to the food and flavor of wine. I’ll be there and hope to see you there as well.

WINEFEST

Wine lovers sampling selections at last year’s 7 Springs Wine & Food Fest

It’s been some time since I went to a wine festival and I’m looking forward to rekindling my love of wine. I was infatuated with it shortly after the film, but then the next Bond movie came out and I lost my “jones” for wine. Maybe this weekend will get wine back on my menu.

I know its got me watching the movie “Sideways” once again. I’m still searching for life’s answers.

17 Years of Losing. Enough Already!
August 13, 2009

I know health care reform has gotten Americans fired up … and I don’t see an end in sight to the debate so I thought I would weigh in something we can all agree on. Tomorrow night marks the annual – and official – end to the baseball season. Pre-season football begins when the Steelers host the Cardinals.

This is nothing new for we who call western Pennsylvania home. The Pirates have been only too kind to end the competitive half of their schedule in time for the Steelers to take the field. Only once since 1992 has this team even played a meaningful game in September.

But this year’s version of the Pirates deserves special mention … and special scorn. The Pirates have all but clinched their 17th consecutive losing season and that sets the all-time pro sports record for consecutive losing season. Think about it. Even the worse of franchises has stumbled upon a winning season.

The reason it has not happened in Pittsburgh is no accident. Poor decisions, poor players and poor play has relegated the Pirates to the butt of jokes locally. They would become a national punchline, but not enough people outside of the region realize we even have a baseball team.

pirates

Unlike the “Jolly Roger” logo, I can’t turn a blind eye to this anymore.

The Wall Street Journal does. The newspaper has an incredible interactive that shows the deals, the fire sales and sell-offs over the past 17 years that have taken this one-time pennant contender and turned it into the model of mediocrity. Even this might be giving the Pirates the benefit of the doubt because being mediocre – by definition – is being average. An average of .500 season here would be a cause for celebration.

I am not writing this to berate the year’s version of the team. Current management has not choice but to tear down what was here in order to build a winning team. But this is just the latest front office group with a five-year plan for success. This would be the fourth five-year plan I have seen since arriving here and frankly, I have no reason to feel any more optimistic than I did for the first three.

My biggest fear is not the Pirates continued losing ways. Rather, its what it means for the future of baseball in this town. Yes, the ballpark is great but baseball is a sport which captures its audience as young people. Last year’s high school seniors graduated not knowing a winning season during their lifetime and knowing nothing of post-season baseball.

My fear is not that fans revolt or start wearing bags over their heads. My fear is indifference from the baseball fans in this city and this region. Baseball depends on repeat business and season ticket holders. Ballpark or not, the Pirates are qucikly becoming like the theatre, the movies or the zoo. Someplace you visit once or twice a year. That may work for other entertainment options, but not for baseball.

The Burgh: A Weekend Battleground for Politics
August 12, 2009

Seems Pittsburgh is the place to be. Whether its watching championship caliber sports or hosting international meetings, Pittsburgh is on everybody’s hot list. There’s another event coming to town this weekend. Perhaps not as well known in general circles, but certainly another feather in the city’s cap.

Netroots Nation is coming to Pittsburgh this weekend. Once known as the Yearly Kos Convention ( after the influential “Daily Kos” blog written by Markos Moulitsas ), this fourth gathering of progressive/liberal bloggeers will take place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. This gathering has power. Consider last year in Chicago, the convention managed to get then-Democratic candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards to sit down in one place and talk about the issues.

This year, they are bringing in more heavyweights from the Democratic side of the ledger. Former President Bill Clinton will do the keynote address on Thursday and Valerie Jarrett, perhaps the most trusted advisor in the Obama cabinet speaks Saturday.

So why is this important … aside from getting some A-List speakers? More and more, our country is becoming a nation of  left and right with very little middle ground. This conference gives us a peak into how  one side of the conversation, using grassroots tactics and the power of the web, is crafted.

As with all political battles, the other side will be represented: Right Online  represents the conservative blogging sphere and will hold their national conference at Station Square. They are a smaller group of than the larger Netroots nation but they are here specifically to offer an alternative to the more liberal Netroots Nation. Among their high-profile speakers is conservative columnist Michelle Malkin and “Joe the Plumber” of campaign fame.

Its just interesting to see Pittsburgh becoming not only the model for the city of new millennium, but also one of the sites for the new course of political discussion. Given what is going on in the health care debate ( and that’s a kind way of describing the kind of shout-fest we are witnessing in these town hall meetings ), this conference comes at an appropriate time in American political discussion.

Plus, anything that gives Pittsburgh a higher profile – in a public light – I am all behind. I’m sure no matter what side of the aisle you are on, if you live in this city you would agree. So get ready for a weekend where the wars of political will be waged not only on-line, but on the street corners of our city.

Busted On The Air!
August 7, 2009

Just when you think you know somebody. I have known Wendy Bell for ten years and Demetrius Ivory for at least a goof three. Yet, my co-workers on Channel 4 Action News at 5 busted me. You can see the link to the video right here.

Essentially, I did a story before weather about how the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook were hacked. Coming out of the story, and into weather, Demetrius proceds to tell everyone about my penchant for being on Facebook … even during his weather segments. He made me produce the Blackberry I keep on the desk. Wendy went one step further, feigning like she was typing onto her Facebeook page and saying “This is Andrew and I’m taking out the laundry now” and “Andrew, I need to get a life”.

Suffice to say the whoel thing was quite amusing … and yes, occassionally during commercial breaks or weather, I will check out Facebook. Sometimes just to say “hi” and see what people are saying.

However, there are times when Facebook comes in handy as a resource. Tuesday night was just such a night. Amid the shootings in Collier Township, I could see the conversation on Twitter and Facebook among friends and people that live in that area. Viewers were able to share information with me on the set or clues as to what might be happening. In many ways, social networking sites can give us clues that we as journalists can follow and conform. It also allowed me to know how friends of mine, who belong to the gym, were doing.

Still, Wendy and Demetrius caught me. However, the brief bit of embarrassment has turned into a Facebook bonanza. I got not only many messages from friends who had seen the moment, but also many new friend requests. I’m sure there are hundreds of  Facebook users who watch the 5pm news and had no idea that I was a Facebook person, too.

At this rate, I may have my 1,000th friend by week’s end.

The Day After
August 6, 2009

Usually, things become much clearer in the light of day. That is not the case in the community that calls the L.A. Fitness center in Collier township their meeting place. A full day after the shootings that took the lives of three women, we are still asking what would possess a man to walk into an aerobics class and open fire.

In this case, we do have more than just guesses to go with. We have the shooter’s blog which detailed his motive, his plan of attack and the times he hedged. It’s a extraordinary look into the mind of a killer but it still does not answer the question why. Why would someone go from words and comments to deeds and actions that proved fatal?

collier

The scene at L.A. Fitness in Collier township Tuesday.

It’s an answer that even the best of psychologists cannot answer. If they could, we could prevent such unnecessary tragedies from happening. However the truth, short of clamping down on free speech, is that there is little we can do. We live in an open society which lends itself to freedom. Freedom has two sides: the ability for its individuals to enjoy every benefit of society … and the ability for those who live in that society to abuse that privilege.

I have already heard from many about why “we” didn’t see this coming. Didn’t anybody read the suspect’s blog? Folks, this man clearly had an issue getting woman to pay attention to him. Why would anyone read his blog? Even worse, he is probably not alone in his feelings of hatred towards women. I’m sure there are many blog postings out there that denigrate women. Legally, we can’t arrest their authors and throw them in jail based on their writings.

This was the worse kind of violence: It was senseless, it was random and it was impossible to see coming. Now, we are left with three fewer lives on this planet ( I’m speaking of the women here ) and many questions. Questions that likely will not be answered anytime soon.

All we can do as citizens is watch our backs and our neighbors backs. Also, we must live our lives and not hide in fear. That maybe the greatest tribute to the victims and the best way to express our disgust for the gunman. Live life and not let fear dictate our actions.

Tragedy in Collier Township
August 5, 2009

I am writing this as I have just gotten off the air after being on four almost three hours with non-stop live coverage of the tragedy in Collier Township.

This is the second time this year I have witnessed senseless killing and violence in quiet communities in our region. What it says to me is that what many of us assume happens in the dangerous portions of urban areas can happen anywhere.

Even more disturbing for me is knowing that area. I have friends who not only belong to the fitness facility, they actually were there during the evening …. and one even left moments before the shooting started.

It’s an unsettling and terrifying feeling when someplace so common is the site of something so violent. A gym is where many go to relax, to relieve the stress of the day and to work off the tension. I commend those people who were there and helped those who had been shot and came to their aid. Their heroism comes in a situation that is completely foreign to them.

Health Club Shooting

Photo Courtesy: Joe Appel/Pittsburgh Tribune Review

I’m not going to spend much time speculating since as I write this the situation continues to unfold. All I can say is that after seeing Stanton Heights up close, I hoped I would not have to cover this kind of story again. Well, once again, the region is in the spotlight and not for a very pleasant reason.

In the days to come, we will learn the stories of the victims, hear the tale of what drove this man to kill innocent people and hear tales of heroism. We will also go through the second guessing of what could have prevented this tragedy and what can be done to make gyms more secure. The truth is there is little we can do. We value our freedoms and we cannot live our lives on lockdown. There are no easy answers to what transpired in Collier township … but there will be plenty of difficult questions.

Please forgive my ramblings. I think what happened tonight is starting to sink in.

Runners High!
August 4, 2009

Hey, I’m back from the Windy City and if you happen to be my Facebook friend or read my Twitter page, you know I spent the weekend in the Windy City taking part in the inaugural Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon. It’s a series of marathon in large cities across the country which combine a half-marathon with rock bands playing at each mile marker.

My running partner, Lisa, and myself head to Chicago for the weekend event. As you might know, I got the bug running in the Pittsburgh half-marathon but this was a different event. There weer about 10,000 more people running than in Pittsburgh and the venue was the towering city of Chicago, my hometown.

I made a weekend of it by visiting my brother and his friends and doing some shopping and eating along the famed “Miracle Mile” known as Michigan Avenue. However, everything was targeted towards Sunday’s run which began at 6:30am. Let’s just say we had so much fun with my brother Saturday that we didn’t get quite the sleep we needed for Sunday’s race. 

An exhausted yours truly was even more behind the eight ball when I realized I had packed no athletic socks. With no place to buy socks at 5am in the morning, I went sockless for the race. Then, there were the ten blocks we had to walk from the hotel to the starting line in the center of town at Grant Park.

rocknroll

We finally were ready to begin the race. The plan was for Lisa and I to run together and, just like the Pittsburgh half marathon, to finish the race together. However, moments before hand she told me I needed to run on my own. She said she would feel guilty if I did not run my best … and try to do better than the 2:05:00 time I did in Pittsburgh. I hesitated but agreed that’s why I was there – to do the best I could – so shortly after crossing the start line I took off.

It was flatter than Pittsburgh … and the views in Chicago were more spectacular. Couple that with the thousands of runners and the rock bands at each mile marker, it energized me. While I had moments of fatigue, I knew they were because I was pushing myself further than I ever had before. By the time I was heading back up Lake Shore Drive towards the finish line, I knew I was going to have a personal best time. 

Still I kept pushing,even sprinting the final 100 yards to the finish.

My final time: 1:46:35.

I was very proud of myself … and was thrilled when Lisa crossed the finish line. I wanted to let her know that her prediction of a 1:50:00 time had come true. Without her motivation and help, I never would have tried running in the first place. Just imagine how I would have done with some socks on!

I have become a fan of running, not a fanatic. I love the sport and the challenge. While it’s great running with a group, it has become an individual sport for me. I’m not one of those people who buy all the running gear, carry water with me when I run and do all these other things to “increase” my time. I simply run …. and think along the way. It has become the great escape for me … and the great relaxer.

I plan to do more races in the future, including the Great Race here in Pittsburgh and the Spirit of Pittsburgh half marathon in November. I also hope to travel to a couple more of these rock n’ roll half marathons in cities like Seattle and San Antonio.

Hopefully, this will build towards the ultimate goal: the full marathon right here in Pittsburgh.

The only thing I need to remember? Next time, bring my camera. I forgot it again.