Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mother Nature Beat Me to the Finish Line

After the relay with a rainbow behind
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger  & @my123cents on Twitter

About two weeks before the annual River to River Relay here in southern Illinois, I was asked to be a substitute on two different teams. I'd never done the race before, but was excited about the opportunity.  The River to River is an 80 mile relay race that extends from the Mississippi River in Wolf Lake, Illinois to the Ohio River in Golconda, Illinois.  There are 24 legs of the relay, so each runner has three legs to complete.  Runners from around the country compete.  

Running with the baton
Yes I took pics and video as I ran
The race starts early, so my team met at 4:30 a.m. to travel about an hour to the start line.  Runner one takes off and the rest of the team gets in a van and drops off runner two at the exchange and picks up runner one.  The process continues throughout the day.  I was an alternate for my team, so I was only running two portions of the relay as runner number eight.


My first run was at about 9:30 a.m.  By then the misting rain and cooler temperatures were leaving and it was starting to warm up.  I huffed and puffed my way up at least two intense hills.  I don't even remember if there were more than that.  I don't do a lot of hill training and since I hadn't planned to run the race this year I wasn't as prepared as I could have been.  My portion on that first leg was right around 3.6 miles.  My time wasn't horrible (for me), with a pace of 8:49 per mile.

Our captain in action

Then it was time to relax for a while, as I wouldn't run again until the very end.  I sat in the van with other teammates as we joked and laughed and shared stories.  With the exception of one of them, I'd never really met my team before Saturday.  I had a good time as we would get out and cheer for our team at each exchange.

My favorite van of the day
The other fun thing about the relay is seeing my other friends who have become runners.  I'd have a chance to chat before climbing back in the van and driving to the next stop.  Because I was drinking so much water too, hitting the port-a-potty each time was almost a necessity.  Some stops even had folks at them with homemade treats and water for the runners.  That was pretty awesome.

What the hail?!?
Taken safely from inside the van
All day the threat of severe weather loomed.  As we arrived at exchange 21, our number five guy got out (without his beloved poncho) and waited for number for to pass the baton.  Moments after he had it in his hand, the skies opened up and a torrential rain followed.  He was soaked as he handed off to runner number six.  Then Mother Nature took it a step further, with two rounds of pounding hail.  Our guy bravely moved on and handed off to runner seven.  That's when things got even worse.  Lightning filled the sky, but our runner carried on.  Our captain joined him too.  The two ran for a while before wisely deciding safety was more important and climbed back into the van.

It was up to me to decide if I wanted to finish the race.  According to the rules, I could continue the rest of 23 and finish up at Golconda.  I'd talked with Ashley Smith, the meteorologist at the TV station where I work.  She'd also just completed the race (her team won first in their division). She said the lightning would pass soon, so I decided I'd wait a few minutes and continue. Little did we know race officials had already called the relay.  I made my way up a small incline with a lit rain hitting me along the way.  For the record, I hate being wet, but my pride took over as I wanted to finish this race.

When I got to the exchange where I was supposed to officially start running, a friend of mine was walking to his van and said they'd closed the course.  I continued up the road where a sheriff's deputy was blocking the rest of the course. Disappointed, I got back into the van with our captain who had joined me to confirm the news.  We drove into Golconda and got out together and ran the short distance to the finish line to claim our tee shirts and get something to eat.  We capped things off with a picture at the Ohio River and a faint rainbow behind us.

After the rain
I am disappointed I didn't get to officially finish the race, but I applaud the tough decision made by race officials.  Not only did they have to think of the safety of the runners (many were still behind us on the course), but also the hundreds of volunteers and the law enforcement along the way.  I was told this is the first time in the event's 28 year history that they've had to cancel.  I'm going to assume I'm not bad luck and hopefully get a crack at it again next year.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Snapchat Challenge: Video Games

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The wackiness of the Snapchat challenge moves forward with video game characters.  All of mine are classic ones.  I don't do the video game thing these days so I'm not sure who some of the characters are that Sean and Chad sent.  Enjoy the show.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Will Extreme Rules Rule?

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Because I'm an idiot, I had forgotten Extreme Rules is this weekend.  I would have included my predictions in this week's podcast (my interview with "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton).  

I'll preface this post with a reminder that I am not a fan of gimmicky pay per views.  TLC immediately comes to mind and Extreme Rules is a close second.  There are a few Wrestlemania rematches (in one form or another) and I get that the WWE wants to spice things up.  But I don't see the need to have silly stipulations added.  I'm looking at the "Kiss My Arse" match as I say this.  

These are the matches and My 1-2-3 Cents on them as of Thursday, April 23.

Tag team title match:
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (c) vs. The New Day.  Once again the tag team titles are being defended on the "pre-show", but I've said it before.  I don't think the "pre-show" or kick-off matter as much now that the WWE Network is in place.  I like Kidd and  Cesaro.  I WANT to like The New Day.  Kofi to me is one of the most under utilized guys on the roster.  The same could be said for Kidd and Cesaro too. This should be a good match, but I think the champs will (and should) retain.

Chicago Street Fight:
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper.  I don't mind the gimmick being involved in this match.  The build up to it has been good.  These two have beaten the hell out of each other in the weeks leading up to Extreme Rules.  While I'm more for guys being kept apart physically prior to a pay per view, I think it's becoming more rare.  This match will be like watching a car wreck.  I'm picking Ambose to win.  I like both competitors, but I think Harper and Erick Rowan should still be a tag team to help boost that division.

Diva's title match:
Nikki Bella (c) vs. Naomi.  I'm going to put this out there, I am not a fan of the Bella Twins.  Yes, they're beautiful women.  Yes, they've improved greatly in the ring.  But their characters annoy me.  I know that's probably the point, but it's to the point that I'd rather see any other diva on the roster with the gold than Nikki.  Naomi is very athletic and has come a long way in a short time too.  I don't know though that's she's going to be the one to unseat Nikki.  I like Paige and I love Charlotte on NXT.  Would love to see her in the mix on the main roster soon.  That being said, I guess I'll go with Nikki to retain.

Last Man Standing:
Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show.  I think the crowd will be on both men during this match.  I'm going to just restate for the record, I like Roman Reigns.  I think he's still rough around the edges, but he will eventually get to the top of the mountain.  The producers or agents for this match will need to come up with something creative and cool to give Reigns a big win in this match and a better ranking with fans.

Kiss My Arse match: 
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus.  I like the heel Sheamus much more than his persona as a face.  He's embraced the bully gimmick with his look and his actions in the ring.  This match has the potential to steal the show in my opinion, but I hate the stipulation that's been added.  I would be more willing to get behind it (no pun intended) if this was to wrap up their feud. I think this rivalry could carry on for a couple of months.  If things are going to continue, I'd pick Ziggler to win to shut up the overbearing bully.  But because Sheamus just returned, I think having him lose a high profile match this soon would hurt his mojo, so for that reason, I pick Sheamus and his lily white arse to win.

Intercontinental title match:
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Bad News Barrett.  As I write this, the match is still scheduled to happen.  I know Bryan got hurt on the recent European tour and there has been a lot of online speculation as to whether he's going to be able to wrestle Sunday.  Even more are questioning if the man behind the Yes Movement will be able to continue his career.  I certainly hope he's healing and not putting his health or life in jeopardy by continuing in the business.  Because of all that uncertainty I think the WWE will take the belt of Bryan to avoid having to hold a tournament or battle royal to determine a new champ.  But if Bryan really is okay, he needs to win this and continue to build some stability and prestige for the IC title.

Russian Chain match for the U.S. title:
John Cena (c) vs. Rusev.  WWE claims this is the first ever televised Russian chain match.  I don't have the time or the energy to find footage to dispute that claim, but if you know different, please tell me.  Even though I think Rusev beating Cena at Wrestlemania would have helped his career and add value to the U.S. championship, it's hard to claim that putting it on someone with Cena's star power was a bad decision.  There are plenty of pros and cons as to whether Cena should retain, but with it being a gimmicked match somehow losses seem to matter less.  I think Cena will keep the gold, the story will focus to the impending split between Lana and Rusev and Cena will continue his open challenge.

Steel Cage match for the WWE World title:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Randy Orton.  Orton got an impressive win over Rollins at Wrestlmania.  But he used the RKO to do it.  That move has now been banned.  Kane, who is an alleged ally of Rollins, will be keeper of the gate.  Seeds of doubt are planted as to whether Kane will turn on Rollins.  Can the cage keep out J&J Security?  I think Rollins needs a win over a top guy like Orton in his first pay per view title defense.  But as I write this I wouldn't be surprised if Orton walks out champ.  I won't boycott WWE if that happens, but I will be extremely (this time the pun is intended) disappointed.