Early Morning Workout

Got an early morning workout in! That’s what happens when you can’t sleep apparently. Kept it easy with some lower body work, specifically focused on stretches and reworking some muscles but threw some squats in there too. A little bit of cycling, a little bit of yoga – good way to start the morning! I even started working on my planner for next year and already have the 5th of May marked off. 👍🏻🏃🏻‍♀️🧘‍♀️

Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

I’m a huge book nerd. I guess it makes sense, I don’t know any writers who don’t also love reading. There is a tattoo of books on my arm. I actually credit Pizza Hut with my love of reading. I participated in Book-I when I was a kid and would get a free personal pan pizza depending on how much I read or whatever. I am pretty sure my first grade mind began to associate books with pizza, and pizza was good, so books must be good too. I’m not mad about it. But yeah, I read a lot. A tech nerd as well, I consider the e-reader, specifically the Kindle, the greatest invention and innovation. It allows me to hold a library in my hands. I have wanted to make a book club that meets at a bar. I read multiple books at once. All the books. Give me.

I have a “To be Read” list a mile and more long; and there is never enough time to read. But the one thing I want to start doing more is reading book reviews of new releases. It is a great way to combine the two things I love!

I very rarely read fiction anymore. Of course, I am a Harry Potter and The Hunger Games fan. Of course I read Star Wars books. But with the exception of the occasional thriller…I read nonfiction. There’s variety in that. I think a big part of me always reading nonfiction is the fact that I am a lifelong learner. I am always looking to know more. I really want to take the Jeopardy! test because I know a decent amount of random facts. Depending on the categories; I’ll either drown or I’ll nail the landing. Got nothing to lose, though. My point is, I love learning. All the knowledge. Give me. Notice a pattern?

I’ll read some self-help books; but those probably have the highest percentages of “Did Not Finish.” Usually they hook me in right away, or it is just not going to happen. There are some I’ve read that I was frustrated by their viewpoints concerning mental illness or how their opportunities allowed them to succeed in ways others just don’t have the fortune of being born into. Others, however, have been really helpful. Some helped me really start and commit to meditation. They’ve inspired and help me grow. I’m usually willing to try another.

I like biographies and autobiographies; probably autobiographies a little bit more. Currently, one of the books I’m reading is Michelle Obama’s Becoming (it’s taking longer than I expected, I want to review it. But we’ll see if that happens) and I love how she writes and her storytelling ability. It is very conversational, which can be hit or miss. In this case, it is a hit. Reading George W. Bush’s Decision Points as a young adult helped me understand him more and see what he was facing from the Oval Office. His book was probably the first time that I realized that no one has any clue of what the president goes through on a daily basis with the most mundane things, let alone when you face a terrorist attack like 9/11. In fact, a great book about that understanding (or lack thereof) is explored in The President’s Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. It’s over 700 pages long, but I can’t recommend it enough. It offers a fascinating perspective into the presidency and the relationships between those who hold the office.

Back to George W. Bush, I enjoyed his writing style very much as well, his book on his father, George H.W. Bush, rest his soul, 41: A Portrait of My Father is also on my To be Read list. I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen it climbing back into charts as a result of his death. I don’t think most people would expect George W. Bush to be a storyteller, but he really is. His eulogy for his father was one of the funniest, sincere, and loving I have ever heard.

Some books take longer than others. I’m looking at you, Ron Chenrow novels, specifically Hamilton (the book inspired the musical, and he gave plenty of props to Eliza by the way. I love Lin-Manuel Miranda, but he wasn’t the only one who told Eliza’s story. They just did differently) and Grant. Both are extremely detailed and interesting books. But the writing and depth of all the knowledge make me have to read the book in sections and take breaks. I’ve never had to do that, but it’s worth it. They are fascinating.

Oh – John Meacham and Doris Kearns Goodwin. They are awesome authors of American history.

You may have noticed a pattern here, as well. I like to read a lot of American history. Specifically, American political history. And even then, it gets more specific into a lot of presidential history. I have read a lot on that subject. I’ve learned so much. I actually give credit to a college course I took. I was in the Honors college, and we had to take Honors seminars. My sophomore year there was one on presidential leadership, so I took it. I believe we focused on four different presidencies, I don’t remember all the specifics. But I learned more about the presidents in that class than I had any other history class, and I was hooked. So, thank you Dr. Harold and Dr. McCarthy.

I actually really want to write a nonfiction historical novel one day and have a couple ideas. But while I will never stop reading my American history or political history books of any kind, I am looking to brand out maybe a little bit in 2019. I do read true crime, that has only started to happen more frequently with my listening to the podcast My Favorite Murder. But I am looking to add some more variety. So, I’d like to share some books I am looking forward to in 2019!

  • Queen of the World: Elizabeth II: Sovereign and Stateswoman: Coming out ready to roll on January 1, 2019, this plot is pretty self-explanatory. I have enjoyed many books on the history of the British monarchy, but I really haven’t read past the Queen Victoria era. She has been queen for 66 years. The queen, then a princess and heir to the throne, served during World War II. The then-Princess Elizabeth enrolled in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), similar to the American Women’s Army Corps. Her father wasn’t thrilled about the idea. And she was the heir to the throne, which was kind of a significant concern. Like the others, she served in  highly valuable support roles as a mechanic and driver. The queen is the only woman from the Royal Family to have served in the Armed Forces, and she is the only head of state to have served during World War II. That alone makes her a badass. But the queen has experienced many changes in this world during her life and reign. Prince Harry’s marriage to American actress and once-divorced Meghan Markle is almost ironic; it was her uncle the King’s intention to marry an American socialite who was previously married that led to his abdication which resulted in her father becoming King and Princess Elizabeth suddenly becoming the Princess of Wales and heir to the throne. She’s had an interesting life.

  • The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris:  Okay, yes, the second book on my list is a memoir by an American senator. I know, I know.  But she has been up-and-coming, and I want to learn about her journey. Her mother was a scientist, and her father was an economics professor who taught at Stanford. Her parents both emigrated to the U.S; her mother from Madras and her father from Jamaica. Her maternal grandfather, with whom she was very close, was an Indian diplomat. She had a lot to live up to and has carved out her own name and legacy. Harris was a prosecutor, then district attorney, then Attorney General of California, and now senator.  This comes out on January 8th.
  • An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is out on January 8th too. This is a fictional read! And it is a thriller. This novel is about a young women who signs up for a psychological that ends up having a more sinister purpose and makes her paranoid and scared.

Let me know which books you are looking forward too and what else I should be keeping an eye out for!

Full Throttle for a Half Marathon

Growing up, I hated running. I detested running the mile in gym class. I think a good portion of us did. But, later, when I wasn’t forced to do it for a grade, I learned that I did not mind running as much.

My relationship with running hasn’t been as great as I had envisioned. You know those women they show in commercials, not a hair out of place in a high ponytail, comfortably running in a sports bra looking serene?

Yeah, that is the opposite of me of when I run. I will be grossly covered in sweat, often wearing a hat because my pixie cut gets weird and gross and my face will be a deep red.

That doesn’t mean I hate running though. There are definitely times where I hate running while I am running. But, man, afterwards, I just feel great. I may look exhausted and sweaty and whatever else, but I feel good.

Unfortunately, there have been things that have prevented me from running as often as I’d like. I have plantar fasciitis. While I would like to call it a pain in the ass, it is actually a pain in the foot. The heels, specifically. I have decent control over mine currently, but it was not smooth sailing. Every time I took a step, I felt like a knife was being driven through my foot. Exercises, steroid shots (these suck, they hurt like no other. Blah.), a night splint, a massage ball, and making sure to wear good shoes – all of these have helped me. Generally, I can only buy good shoe brands. Shoes really aren’t my favorite part of fashion, so paying anywhere between $150-200 for a pair of regular black flats is mind-boggling to me…especially when they do help. But for tennis shoes? I have four different pair. Two I alternate for regular activities, one for running, and one just for working out like strength training. It is nuts. But a better alternative to the foot pain.

Another problem that I’m still working on is I keep getting cramp-like feelings in my legs when I get about 30 seconds into a run, maybe a little less. I do intervals with run-walk usually, and it gets worse the more I run. I stretch, I warm up, I do some basic exercises or yoga poses to get my calves going. But they still want to cramp. Even with wearing a compression sleeve. Right now, this is my greatest hurdle towards running a half. I’m going to talk to my doctor in a couple weeks, but I’ll take any suggestions!

So, yeah, I don’t think that this is going to be the easiest accomplishment but there is a part of me that thinks I have a shot at this. So I signed up for the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon on May 5th, 2019. Signed up. Committed. Here we go.

You might be think what the hell? You might say, Tori, you haven’t even been running, what are you doing?

Well, I found a training plan that basically takes you from zero to hero (I hope that Hercules reference is appreciated). So that helps. It’s really just a couch to 5k, just add about ten miles to the 5k. I have until May, this is December, no biggie.

I had to drop out the first time I wanted to do the Pittsburgh Half a couple years ago because of the plantar fasciitis. But we’ve moved on from that. I also found a way to tape my heel to provide support when I run. It worked great when I did it! In high school, I considered becoming an athletic trainer and was a student athletic trainer; working primarily with football. I’m ten years removed from that which is weird to say, but those taping skills I learned still come in handy! I feel more confident about overcoming that particular hurdle this time.

The cramp thing – there’s got to be something out there. Not counting myself out yet.

I’m thinking about changing my gym membership and buying a basic treadmill. I prefer running outside, but it is Pittsburgh and Snow Miser likes to spend his winters here. It is going to get freaking cold.

That’s not to say that I haven’t thought about these same things and wondered what the hell do I think I’m doing? I’ll be honest, I am freaking terrified. I don’t know what I’m doing. It seemed like a good idea. I can also say I’ve said that about a few things before that ended up not being a good idea at all, but we’re going to be optimistic here.

Originally, when I was considering signing up for the half and trying again, I was thinking I wasn’t really going to tell anyone. I decided against this (obviously), and I’m already really glad I did. I already have a variety of people who said they’d go on runs with me, and I have gotten plenty of suggestions and tips. By having people who say they’ll run with me, this will make it harder to not train. I won’t want to let people down, so I’ll be there. I can’t say how well I’ll do at all, but I’ll be there.

I am also looking into joining a running group – I can use all the support and help I can get! It is also never bad to meet new people too, so that social aspect will be fun. Pittsburgh, it seems, has a good running scene. Kind of ironic when you consider the amount of hills.

You still might be wondering why I feel that I need to run this half. And yes, I will use need here. This is something I need to do. To me, it is more than a bucket list item. There are many benefits to running that I’m going to get into later, but it is more than that.

Running is great for your physical health. Duh. It is also great for your mental health. I will take a two-for-one any day.

I have various physical goals to meet with working out, but my cardiovascular endurance sucks. It really sucks. When I was younger (Like 18), I found out I had sports-induced asthma but I’ve gone at least five years without an asthma attack, likely longer. But sometimes I do wonder if it makes it more difficult for me to build up my endurance. I know intervals and HIIT help with this, but I’m also getting a good vibe about throwing some old-fashioned running in there. I’m thinking my run-walk gradual training plan could be really good for me in that aspect. The better my cardiovascular endurance becomes, the more it’ll help me with HIIT, boxing, and weight lifting – all things I love that can kick my ass right now. Especially these boxing classes that throw core and cardio into the mix. Great workout, really killer though.

I know I can get better when it comes to this.

The better I run, the more my potential will grow.

I don’t want to limit myself.

It will also make me a better firefighter. I have no plans to ever run a half in my turnout gear. But the better I get physically, the more effective I can be. I don’t think I need to emphasize how important this is to me.

Running is also good for mental health. I can believe that just based on how I feel after a run. Or even after a good workout. By committing to the half, I committed myself to working out regularly again. By working out on a regular basis, I get those good feelings that can help against the bad guys. That’s definitely a win. I know working out is good for treating my mental illness. But now, I really don’t have an excuse to not work out. I have a race I need to run. I really do like the idea of being able to run on the treadmill first thing in the morning at home. That would be really beneficial to me, I think.

I definitely can be my worst enemy. I need to prove to myself that I can do this.

And, yes, my mental illness is already starting to whisper to me that I can’t do this and that it is not going to work. I guess we’re going to see which part is stronger. This part isn’t fun.

I have gotten some great suggestions and tips so far on creating a running plan:

  • One of the most important ones I have heard would be to buy properly fitted shoes. I know there are places that also analyze your running stride, so I’m definitely going to check that out. It can be an investment, but I’m used to
  • Logging miles on an app – There are so many for this. Right now, I’m actually playing with three: RunKeeper, Strava, and Nike+. The one running club I’m looking into uses Strava. I’m also hoping to get an Apple Watch for the various Apple health benefits, but all three apps can integrate with the Apple Watch. So I’m going to see which one works best. I’m also not opposed to paying for premium on running apps.

 

  • Running Socks – My goal is to keep myself as warm as possible when I’m outside. I hate cold feet. But good running socks will also help with blisters which suck.
  • Good Playlist – I am ALL about this. I have followed a ton of workout-related playlists on Spotify, and I made two of my own workout playlists. One is specifically called “I am Training for a Half-Marathon.” Half of the Rocky soundtracks are on my playlists. I have no shame. Gonna Fly Now and Eye of the Tiger always help me during a workout. I have a variety of rap, rock, pop, country, and soundtrack – even a couple from Hamilton. I have told some people that I want to hear the music that plays when Rocky wins the match in Rocky II as I finish. Finishing my first half marathon will definitely be an “Yo, Adrian!” moment (As I write this, I just had a “Holy shit I’m trying to run a half marathon moment.” Craaaaap. Or another, more colorful word).
  • Run what you feel comfortable in – I keep seeing this one come up too. As in, do NOT try run in any new gear on race day. Personally, I’m going to keep it simple. Oddly enough, I already have my shirt picked. So I will run with that one underneath my hoodies and jackets at times throughout winter. Not sure what the best kind of yoga pants or running leggings would be. I also am looking into getting running specific gear, like a jacket or gloves especially to protect from the wind.
  • Hydrate and take nutrition into account before you think you need to – As I mentioned before, literally the last thing I want are cramps.  I’m pretty good at drinking water; I drink it the majority of the time now anyways. I am going to put together some type of diet to follow. I don’t want to call it diet, but plan to eat in the way I can get the most benefits. I am looking forward to carb loading the night before the race!
  • Experiment with what works and what doesn’t – I have a training plan. But it is more than just how long or how far I run. I think terrain and environment are both important to consider, as are social runs for solo. I’ve heard of running meditation, and I definitely think I’m going to look into that. I also plan on doing a variety of cross-trainings and yoga. I think that this is a big thing to experiment with and how it makes me feel. Feeling versus thinking is something I need to get better at when it comes to myself. Training for this half has a lot of potential for self-discovery, which wouldn’t be a bad thing for me after the last few months. Maybe it is something I need. This also goes to when you workout and why. For a long time, I was working in the mornings before work because I thought it would suck working out after work. I found out that both actually work for me, but the ideal would be in the morning before work at home which is why I’m considering a treadmill. Also, what is your motivation for this run and workout? Motivation is a huge component in training.
  • Make the mind run the body. When you’ve gotten to the point you feel you’ve hit the wall and out of gas, in reality you have about 60% left – Self-explanatory. This is great though. I wish I would have heard this a long time ago, actually. It goes back to the overthinking, I need to stop doing that. Make the mind run the body. That could help me with a lot of different aspects of my life. It is also where meditation and mindfulness come in, so that’s cool how that’s all lining up.
  • The runner’s high comes after you run not during – I hate running while I run, I love it when I’m done. Boom. Even when my runs suck. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who experiences this.
  • Help other runners, be supportive and thank volunteers on race day – Also self-explanatory. For an activity where technically all is you need is yourself and a pair of shoes, running can be really social which is good because it provides support. And, yes! The volunteers! So much would never get done in many areas if there weren’t volunteers. These people get up really early to watch you run and help you run and make everything run as smoothly as possible. Major props to that. Also, don’t forget about your first responders! I am really, really hoping not to have to utilize emergency medical services during the race but I appreciate them big time. I also have friends who work this event, and they’re awesome.
  • Resources – For Pittsburgh, there are training runs and running groups. Take advantage of it. When people say they’ll run with you, ask. I know I will have to because it will keep me on track. You also can get different perspectives. With the running group, I think the one I’m thinking about joining is too good to pass up. Like I said, I need all the help I can get.
  • It is literally a marathon and not a sprint – Pace yourself. As in, small steps and goals. This will be something I struggle with and I need to remember that all progress is good progress. And not to be too hard on myself. These are all important. (Thanks to everyone for the tips!)

 

But that doesn’t mean my spirit and drive won’t be at full throttle.

As per my usual, I’m going in a different direction with the post as I had originally planned. I blame Sylvester Stallone. I love the Rocky movies, and today I saw Creed II and loved it. There were some tidbits that hit a little close to home. I was actually surprised that I got emotional at some parts. The movie is about more than just boxing; it looks at identity, expectations, and legacy.

This is where it hit me kind of strong and made me do some self-reflection. At one point, Rocky tells Adonis Creed he needs to ask himself what he’s fighting for. That is a loaded question, and it takes Adonis some self-discovery and literal hits to figure it out. Adonis also talks about fighting for himself versus his father’s legacy, the expectations of being a Creed, and his father’s legacy. Through this, Adonis finds who he is. It might sound corny, but I get it. There is actually a quote by Adonis that perfectly sums up living to legacy and finding yourself in a few sentences, but I can’t find it and it is driving me insane.

I have struggled a lot over these last few years, including considering who I am as an individual. I am a self-imposed perfectionist and overachiever. I’m trying to get better at it, but it is still my nature. I also have felt distorted the last couple years because of dealing with depression and anxiety because I know that makes me view myself in ways that simply are not accurate.

Who am I?

What am I fighting for?

Some of these long runs might be a good time to work that shit out.

It isn’t like I have Olympians in my family, so yea, it’s not the same as Adonis versus Apollo. But I am definitely trying to prove something to myself in all of this. Deciding to do this is terrifying to me.

Can I do it?

People will tell me that I can, but can I, really? I don’t know what is holding me back, but I know there is a chance of failure. And I can’t “just not” think about that.

If I fail, who will I disappoint? How will I handle it? I know I’ll disappoint myself.

I have to look at the why. Why am I doing this?

Who am I fighting for?

There are a lot of things I want to gain from this. I know, I know how great of an antidepressant running is supposed to be. While I’m hoping for that, I can’t put all my hope in that. My treatment is more like a puzzle, and I’d be okay with running as a piece. But I can’t expect it to complete it.

I do turn to the wisdom of Rocky and Yoda during these times.

Judge me by my size do you?

It doesn’t matter how it looks to other people. If this is something you gotta do, then you do it. Fighters fight.

There are going to be a lot of Rocky and Star Wars quotes running through my head as motivators the next few months.

I don’t believe it. That is why you fail.

That is why you fail! We’ve talked about this before. Luke failed because he didn’t believe in himself. It took me 26 years of watching The Empire Strikes Back to realize this.

I am, hands down, my worst critic. The amount of times I don’t believe in myself probably is not good.

Why am I doing this? Who am I fighting for?

Right now, in this moment, I really don’t know if I can do this. I’m probably leaning more towards no right now. That doesn’t mean at all that I’m not going to try. It’s only December, the race is in May. I have time.

I don’t have concrete answers to those questions right now. But they are definitely ones I am going to work through. I think the more I work this stuff out, the better off I will be and it will probably help me prepare. I have gotten a lot better over the last few months with stuff, but it has also opened my eyes to how bad it was – worse than I thought. Maybe it is time to face all my demons.

I do have one motivator right now. I’m running to raise money. I’m running to raise money for my fire department, something very, very near and dear to my heart. I love being a firefighter and being part of that community. That brotherhood. I’m still working on getting the site up to donate. It is a cause that means a helluva lot to me.

I hope you all won’t mind more posts about my running journey. I think that it will be something. At least, I hope.

I’ll work on those motivators. I’ll work on learning more about myself. And I am going to just hope that on May 5th, I make those 13.1 miles my bitch (sorry, figure of speech).

Adrian Balboa actually said it best in Rocky II. It was pretty simple, too:

“Win.”
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Remembering Officer Michael Crawshaw

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. Proverb 28:1

Most likely, Officer Michael Crawshaw had no reason to believe that his shift as a Penn Hills (Pennsylvania) police officer would be any different on December 6th, 2009. Officer Michael Crawshaw was killed in an ambush during his shift on December 6th, 2009.

He was the first to respond to a call and parked a couple houses away while waiting for backup in his squad car. While waiting, the perpetrator exited the home where he had just murdered an individual over a drug debt and ambushed Officer Crawshaw in his vehicle. Officer Crawshaw died from his injuries at age 32. The perpetrator was later apprehended and ultimately found guilty of his crimes and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

I never met Officer Michael Crawshaw. I never heard his name until his death when it was all over the news. Soon, I learned that he had graduated from my high school. I was in my senior year at the time. I remember seeing one of the teachers at my school be interviewed by the news as she had also graduated from the school and knew Officer Crawshaw. In the last couple of years, it had seemed like the number of officers killed in the line of duty continued to climb and in its frequency. The city mourned. I was an EMT and junior firefighter at the time. I knew many police officers and considered some friends. This was the closest one to hit to home, and really it was only because he graduated from Shaler too.

Soon, life went back to how it was for most of us. This excludes, of course, the family and friends of Officer Crawshaw. In the weeks, months, and even years after they faced the task not only of learning to live without him, but also of coming to terms with his death and how he died; why they lost him so soon as he just tried to do his job to serve and protect others. They also wondered how they could honor his memory and make sure he was remembered.

The Penn Hills Police Department sold shirts and those rubber band bracelet things marking his loss and cementing his memory. This, unfortunately, was not uncommon. We were seeing too frequently line of duty deaths for police officers in the area and these were means to remember the fallen and at times, raise money for the family; for things such as funeral costs or the future of any children.

As I said, at the time, the Pittsburgh/Western Pennsylvania area was seeing far too many of these deaths in an alarmingly short amount of time. And at the time, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. At the time, I was considering a career as a lawyer.  Lord knows enough people told me I was good at arguing. But I didn’t want to just be a lawyer. I wanted to help first responders. I wanted to stop the senseless murders of police officers. I wanted to help protect first responders. I had no idea how I was going to accomplish any of this, least of all as a lawyer, but it seemed like a good idea to me.

We know that obviously I did not become a lawyer. Things change. Just stay with me though, 18-year-old Tori counting down to going to Robert Morris thinking she’s going to change the world. Got it?

I was also applying for scholarships left and right at that time. I had received a scholarship from the school, but I needed all the help I could get. Anything I thought I had a chance at, I applied.

Meanwhile, Michael Crawshaw’s friends and family decided to implement a scholarship to help a Shaler graduate planning to pursue a program related to law enforcement. I took a chance. I wrote my essay about how I wanted to help first responders. I didn’t really think I had a chance because I figured they were more focused on kids who wanted to become police officers. But a few months later, I went to an award ceremony recognizing graduating seniors on scholarships and awarding a few more. I had one a couple from the area, and so I went with my parents. It’s been eight years, I don’t remember it all perfectly. I know I had been award one additional scholarship by the time they got to the last few. I was already elated by that.

There was one guy who was announcing the awardees of of the first Michael Crawshaw Memorial scholarship. Four individuals were named. I did not expect Victoria Mikulan to be one, but I was. I was shocked.

Of the four of us, one other girl wanted to be a lawyer too. She graduated from Stanford Law. The two other guys who won wanted to be police officers. I know one didn’t become one, I have no idea about the other.

I, of course, did not become a lawyer for a variety of reasons. Eventually, I would learn that my written word could be just as powerful. But I would always feel some guilt for not becoming a lawyer and trying to change the world for police.

However, I gained something more than that scholarship. I don’t really remember how, but I ended up connecting with Joe, who had presented the scholarship and was one of Mike’s best friends. It turned out that he had graduated from RMU. Eventually, we both worked at the same company. But by connecting with Joe, I ended up being able to do more for the Crawshaw scholarship fund. When they had Cash Bash’s to try and raise money for the scholarship, I worked them. My mom did as well. At these events, I had the opportunity to meet more of Mike’s family including his mother. I met a local newscaster who was dating a Penn Hills police officer who had worked with Mike, and she told me what she learned about Mike from him. It turned out that a firefighter I knew whose son played baseball with my youngest brother was also one of Mike’s best friends.

I never knew him. But I began to get an idea of him. After the funeral when the media and cameras leave, it is just the family and friends and peers (who in public safety often consider each other family. It is a unique, strong bond) to pick up the pieces. Memorial scholarships are all over the place. How often do we consider the person behind the memorial? I began to consider Michael Crawshaw. Through his scholarship, I did feel connected to him. I don’t know how many people feel that way when they win a memorial scholarship. Getting to know his family and friends and helping work events to continue raising money for the scholarship – I really started to feel a connection to him and a duty to keep his memory alive.

I can’t tell you all the officers in the Pittsburgh area who have died in the line of duty since then. Far too many, I know that much. But it is important to me that Officer Michael Crawshaw and his sacrifice are remembered. I can at least make sure one officer continues to be remembered for his bravery and his sense of duty and to make it so his sacrifice is not in vain. Whenever I hear of another officer down, of a loss as they perform their duty of protecting the community, I think of Michael Crawshaw.

At a local baseball field and park nearby, there is a monument with his image etched in stone. They renamed the baseball field after him. I’ve gone there countless times throughout my life, growing up we would go there for Fourth of July fireworks. We still do on some years. I always make sure to go by.

Remember the rubber bracelet things? At some point, I got one and put it on the shield of my fire helmet. It is another way to remember him. I took it off once for a training because I didn’t want it to get ruined – and managed to burn a finger in a freak moment. After that, I decided I was never going to take it off again. It is almost like a guardian angel at my back now.

I know I’ve given you very little of Michael Crawshaw; how do you sum up a life in words? How do you paint the picture of someone you know through the conversation of others? I just hope that on today, the ninth anniversary of Officer Michael Crawshaw’s death, you will remember him. Remember Officer Michael Crawshaw. He was killed doing his job. As he was ambushed, he never had a chance. He knew the risk of his job. But he was willing to risk his life for people he would never meet. Keeping the memory of him alive helped me pay for my future. His future was stolen from him. The very minimum that I can do is keep his memory alive.

It is kind of hard to do so. I don’t know the best way to do so. If I had the opportunity to help out at fundraising events, I’d do anything in my power to do so. If I couldn’t be there, I’d still try to support it and definitely advertise.

People should know. Of course we all know this happens. But this is different. It is different when you put a face to a name, when you meet the family and friends. The officer is no longer faceless. The image is no longer blurred, they begin to come into focus. He’s just like your brother. Your friend. Your softball buddy. The guy who sits across from you at the bar. Anyone. He can be anyone just like you.

I am thankful for the police who protect us. I am thankful for my friends who serve as police and pray for their protection.

Take a moment today and remember Officer Michael Crawshaw. I keep his name on my helmet; I know it is there every time I grab it to put it on. You can’t miss it on there. I keep it and hope his memory continues to live on.

I wish that my thoughts would be a little bit more eloquent. But, I do have a speech from Harry Potter and the Goblet of FIre by JK Rowling I would like to share.

“Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”

I think that it applies pretty well. He might have not met an evil wizard, but he was just trying to do his job. And we’re most likely not to meet evil wizards (I guess it’s a possibility?) or anyone truly evil, but by doing the right thing we can honor the memory of Officer Crawshaw and the other fallen officers alongside him.

Remember him. And may Officer Crawshaw continue to rest in peace.