Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2007--A Year in Review



At right: Our 2007 family Christmas tree which was cut down by me and brought down from upstate Pennsylvania.
I love the Christmas season. Not just for the presents but the opportunity to get together with friends and family that seems to only happen this time of year. It is also a time of reflection--of the things I've done this year, of the things I've done thus far in my life, and for things I still want to do before I leave this earth. I celebrate the life that was given to me and hope I have taken advantage of any opportunities I've had. I prepare for the future and hope I'm strong enough to handle anything thrown my way. And be aware of the present because that is truly the moment I live in.
It is cliche to say this but I truly hope there is some way to take the feeling of the season and spread it out the rest of the year. I hope mostly that we can find a way to understand our differences so we may have peace on earth.
Below are some of my highlights for 2007. I will be taking next week off and will begin blogging again the week of January 7. It gives me a few weeks to think about my goals for 2008. I wish everyone Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a joyous and prosperous 2008!
Overall: A very good year for me. Of the six PRs I measure, three of them came this year! And those three came at the longer distances. I didn't achieve my stated goal of lowering my 5k PR but missed a lot of races this year due to personal committments or being sick through the start of the summer.
Best race: It had to be the Broad Street Run on my birthday. Since I started running this race, I have lowered by PR by almost 20 minutes. I could have set a PR in a 5k with my time at the beginning of the race. I didn't start out too fast and then struggle at the end. I ran a complete race, probably the race of my life.
Worse race: It has to be a toss up between the Chalfont Challenge 5k or the Ocean City, MD Half-marathon. Both of them were due to the weather but for different reasons. The Chalfont race was too hot and the Ocean City race was too cold. I felt I could have done better in the Chalfont 5k. Ocean City, with its three inches of snow falling during the race and wind gusts up to 30-40 mph, was the worse conditions.
Biggest surprise: Besides keeping up with this blog for the year, I would say winning my division in the ALS Out and Back 4-miler in April. Granted my division was the Clydesdale, over 40 (commonly referred to as the fat, old men division) but I still beat out 8 other runners. I was so surprised that I didn't even stick around for the award ceremony and was given it the day after.
Proudest moment: Watching my wife in the last .1 mile of the Chalfont Challenge 5k. She trained hard for this race. It was a tough day on a tough course and she did well. She never gave up. She injured her ankle over the summer and is only coming back now. But, she is getting herself ready to come back in 2008.
Biggest disappointment: Not having a chance to lower my 5k PR that I set out to do this year. I was on course to do so but got sick over the summer. It knocked out my whole summer series. On top of that, I didn't have a chance to participate in any 5ks in the fall. I've had this PR for the past 4 years. I want to see if it's possible to get under 24 minutes.
Biggest thrill: Seeing the actual Olympic medals of Frank Shorter, Joan Samuelson and others at the Falmouth Road Race. Not just seeing them but picking them up and hold them as well. I couldn't believe I had the opportunity to do that.
Scariest moment: The day before the Philadelphia marathon, Steve and I started to drive the course. Knowing the area so well, I actually was intimidated thinking about the points on the course. Twenty-six miles is twenty-six miles but not if you know where you are going! I hardly slept the night before the race.
What I will remember most from this year: I will never forget this year's Ocean City Half-marathon. It's one of those 'you think the weather in your race was bad, wait until I tell...' kind of stories. The other thing was my Philadelphia Distance Run. I felt different after finishing a half-marathon under 2 hours. It gave me a little boost of confidence of 'hey, I really can do this.'
To all of you who read this blog, I thank you. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it for these past 9 months. I look forward discussing my adventures with you in the new year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Short History of the Blue Dawgs

A busy week this week as I have to go down to North Carolina twice for work. The flight down there from Philadelphia is not that long (about 1 hour, 15 minutes) but getting to and from the airport is time-consuming. I am starting to get the itch again to run and did 6 miles around Lake Galena on Sunday (thanks Melisssa!) I got the treadmill delivered yesterday and did a whole mile on it! (Just to try it out). The Blue Dawg running group is meeting tonight, and, if the weather cooperates, I'll be able to do another 5-6 miles.

Throughout this blog, I have referenced various people who I run with and referenced this Blue Dawg running group. I've never stopped and explained the history of this group and how it came to be. It's not a long history. In fact, we just celebrated our 2nd year anniversary! But, here's the story:

TZ Sports (http://www.tzsports.com/) in New Britain, PA, would host a running get-together on Wednesday nights in the spring/summer (basically Eastern Daylight Time period). They did this for years in their old location in Doylestown and their new location. But, after we set our clocks back, the people who would show up would scatter for the winter doing their own thing. I certainly was one of them and took a break from running until the spring. I thought playing racquetball over this time would be enough to keep me in condition but I was proved wrong every year.

Two years ago, as the days of the Wednesday runs for the summer were winding down, there were discussions of keeping this group together for the winter. I was somewhat hesitant as, afterall, it does get cold outside in the winter. Who the heck wants to run in the cold? But, I agreed to stay around for the fall and see where it goes as it gets colder. We all agreed to meet in the Genuardi's parking lot in New Britain and continue the Wednesday night run through the neighborhoods.

The reason we agreed to meet in the Genuardi's parking lot and run around that particular neighborhood are twofold (a) there was enough lighting in the streets that we should be seen by passing cars and (b) our 'scout' team to look at potential courses thought this would be flat enough that everyone would enjoy. We noticed a little problem after that first run. There were hills. As a matter of fact, the only flat piece of ground is the area we start in. We've since come to realize that if you send out a scout team they really shouldn't be riding bikes to evaluate a course to run on. (won't mention your name here, Kel) (Note: we have since moved our starting spot to Philadelphia Sports Club, once known as Highpoint. And, yes, there is a reason it was called Highpoint as we now go down the hills and climb back up to get back to our cars!)

As time went by, we thought it would be nice to hang around after the run for an adult beverage or two. Luckily for us, there happened to be a watering station in the same parking lot as Genuardi's called 'The Blue Dog Tavern'. As the night went on, it was established that this little Wednesday night running group do hereby proclaim to be 'the Blue Dawgs runners' (had to change the spelling of dog to make sure we don't infringe on any trademarks).

After awhile, we established a Blue Dawg government with Blue Dawg rules. I was elected Vice President, not because of any platform I stood for but because I didn't go out with them the night of elections! It's all a bit silly. But, it's all about laughing and having a good time.

I look forward to the first e-mail of the week announcing plans for the upcoming Wednesday run. Where are we going to meet? Who can make it? Who can't make it? Who's doing the lake instead? Everyone has their individual training needs for upcoming races but that doesn't mean we aren't there cheering each other on virtually. And, it is nice to see each other at the local races as well.

The past two years have meant a lot to me to bond with this group. We all have had our share of high times but we have been there for each other when we've had low moments as well. We've gotten to know each other for who we are. We felt each other's pain and pulled for each other along the way. And most of this wasn't about the highs and lows of running. It was about our lives. Running just brought us together.

I want to thank Eric, Kel, Diski, Joeski, Mitch, Mark, Melissa, Mike, Boyd, and sometimes Chief, :-) for running with me on Wednesdays, Sundays and local races. And thank you for making, not just running, but life in general, more enjoyable.

I encourage everyone to try to join a running group. The miles will go by that much faster.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Random Thoughts in December

I started this blog back in April. At the time, it was easy to think about the upcoming topics I would be writing back in the coming weeks. But, I knew, one day, and one day soon, when the marathons are over and the winter chill rolls in, I would rack my brain to continue to come up with something that is unique from other blogs, funny, interesting, and in general, a mind-blowing experience that you would be talking around the water cooler for days to come. Well, today is the day. I couldn't come up with a specific topic to write about today.

So, I'm going to write of random thoughts on various topics and hope that something sticks with you.

  • I know I'm getting old because I'm starting to not understand technology anymore. I understand the basics but new technology makes my head spin. I'm afraid to buy anything new because I don't know how to set it up. I know what BlueTooth is, I know what DVRs do, but, I don't know enough about iPods and what they are compatible to make me go out and purchase one (I mean they're an Apple, right?) By the time I am confident to go out and buy something, what I was looking at has changed and now I'm back to square one. Seriously, doesn't this sound like your parents? Maybe its not fear. I'm just getting too impatient to figure things out anymore.

  • I hate the fact they keep on changing styles of running shoes. After many years, I bought a pair of Brooks that I really liked. Once I wore them out, I went to the neighborhood running store to order another pair. Nah! They didn't have that style anymore and now they have the new and improved! Well, the new and improved didn't fit me properly! (WHY????!!!!!) So, I had to go out on the internet and find my old style. I had three years worth of shoes but now I'm running out and can't find them anymore. There may be some hope as the new and improved of the original new and improved did fit me when I quickly tried them on at an expo. I'm sure version 83 (you know, the one that is made of material that will run for you) will be out by then and I'll have to start the process over again.

  • I am very excited because we have purchased a new treadmill. For some reason, the cold this year has affected me to the point I haven't run for awhile. I have been playing racquetball but I've learned that's not enough to sustain me in training for the winter. I'm so hoping that having a treadmill in the house will help me be fitter for the spring.

  • I saw this in USA today about a month ago and found it intriguing. There is a website called Location Nation that lets 'runners upload and display on Google maps data captured with GPS gadgets' (USA Today, October 22, 2007). 'The data, such as distance traveled, are stored on the company's site, where users can then meet others with similar interests--as on social-networking sites Facebook and MySpace.' 'The second service, let's subscribers track, for example, a runner's marathon progress in real time on Location Nation's site.' Kind of interesting if you ask me.

  • Runner's World came to my home last week and I'm looking at the upcoming marathon schedule for next year. In reality, I'm more interested in looking at marathons in 2009 as that will be the year of my 50th anniversary of my life on this planet. So, there are two things I'm planning that year. First, is a marathon at a location that I would probably never visit in my life unless I ran a marathon (Fargo? Chickamauga? Newfoundland?) I'm scouting. The other thing I plan on doing is taking a trip for a week with Steve where we attend a baseball game every night at a different stadium. Not necessarily major league games. In fact, it might be more fun to do the minor league games. My first thought is California as we could start in San Diego, probably catch either the Dodgers or Angels in town, work our way up and find some minor league teams on the way and finish at either the Giants or A's game in the Bay Area.

That's all the random thoughts I have for today. Keep warm out there! Hope to be back on the road soon

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Winter Plans

The soreness is gone and now the Philadelphia marathon is nothing but a pleasant memory for me (though, looking at the proofs doesn't evoke a pleasant memory). Having a week to think about it, I am happy with what I did and the time I did it in. I had a great time training with friends during the summer and fall and having Steve come down here for the race. Those good times are the things I'll remember most.

So what are my winter plans? I am starting to think of bringing my gym membership home with me. I currently belong to a gym but mainly use it for racquetball and swimming. Occasionally, I will use the treadmill, especially in February when I have set a goal for a half-marathon and the snow is just too deep to get a good, long run in. I hardly use the weights though I know I need to do some weight training.

Why don't I go to the gym more often? My commute is my biggest time-eater and, in truth, it's hard to go out again when you get home (and, no, I can't stop on the way home, either). So, I have a plan to try to get more toned (stop laughing, no, stop laughing, now!). Of course, every year I have the same type of plan but I think it will be different this time around. My wife and I are seriously thinking of investing in a treadmill. And, that's the way we think about it. It is an investment in ourselves. Granted, that may be a way to justify it but our biggest fear is that we buy something that becomes an expensive clothes hanger. But, we both like to run so it's a small leap of faith that we will use it in the coming years.

I'm also looking into barbells. Not full bench press kind of stuff. Just enough to build my arms a bit. I've read on many occasions the need to build your arms and mid-section in order to sustain form on long runs. I'm not going after the Governor Arnold look and, really, I'm not going for any kind of look. I just think it's going to be more important to maintain my strength through the upcoming years.

Now comes the part I'm kind of embarrassed to talk about it. I am seriously looking at the (and, I think it's called this) the Ab-Lounge. I have lower back problems and this device looks like it could help in stretching me out. It also looks it would help me do crunches more comfortably. I'm not big on things advertised on TV or on the shopping channels. But, I have seen and tried it out in sporting good stores. If anyone has ever tried it before and has stories, good or bad, let me know.

There is an underlying reason to all of this. Steve and I have mutual friends that possibly can get me into the Boston marathon. How? Sponsors have a certain amount of exemptions handed to them to get people they know in the marathon without having to qualify (that's how Michelle Wie gets into men's golf tournaments). I have enough confidence now in my marathon training that I feel I run Boston without embarassing myself too much. There is no guarantee that it will happen. And, I would only ask this favor once. I know there will be some people who will say I don't deserve to get in. That's true. But, if you were in the same position as me, wouldn't you?

If anything, it will keep me motivated for the winter. I probably won't know until early next year. But, I find having a carrot dangling in front of me is the best way to keep my competitive juices flowing.

Note: To listen to Steve's take on the Philadelphia marathon, go to his website http://www.steverunner.com/.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Focusing on the Balloon (Phila Marathon report)


No, it's not a German soldier surrendering at the Battle of the Bulge it's me between mile 25-26. (thanks Kevin Madden)
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
--Nine Inch Nails
Since I was a kid, I would always be nervous about the anticipation of an event. Not just nervous. I mean, pain in the stomach, puking my guts out type of nervous. After Steve and I got our race pack on Saturday at Temple University, we decided to drive around the marathon course. It was pretty easy to follow as it looked like someone drove their car in wet blue paint and followed the course leaving blue tire marks along the way.
As we made our way around the course, it occured to me that we are going to be running from the Delaware River over to the Manayunk section of the city. I mean, that's far. That's really far. The last half of the race was down Kelly Drive to Manayunk and then back again. Many times I've run this section as part of the Philadelphia Distance Run. And, now, Saturday night, I that's all I was thinking as I tried to sleep that night.
I've run marathons before but this time I knew the course well. I got up at 3:45a after just cat napping all night. I had my blueberry pancakes. Steve had his fajita chicken. We left the house around 4:45a and got down to Center City about an hour later.
The forecast was for snow showers and rain for most of the morning. I went back and forth trying to figure out what would be most comfortable to wear. Steve suggested wearing long pants as it was a bit windy and definitely cold. I went with a short sleeve shirt and my Tyvek jacket. No, I changed my mind. I'll go with the long sleeve shirt. And, my hat. Can't forget my hat as I don't want to be too miserable if it rains.
In previous marathons, one of my biggest problems, at the start of the race, is the number of visits to the port-a-john at the start of the race. I stopped drinking fluids on the way down. When we got to the Art Museum area, Steve and I got in line for the bathroom, went, and got back in line again. I felt like I wouldn't have this problem again for the race.
We said our good-byes and good lucks as we went our separate ways looking for our pace groups. I ran with Mike, who was the leader of the 5:00 pace group. Nice guy. Very vocal. Great cheerleader. Mike would run with a stick in his hand with balloons tied to them, with the words '5:00 pace group' written on them. My strategy was to just follow the balloons. I was not going to try to outrun the balloons. I was just going to focus on the balloons.
In line, Kelly, from my Wednesday night running group, found me and started the race with me. I was grateful to talk with someone at the beginning and thought, this is just another Sunday long run. The gun went off. We were heading out.
Kelly and I talked for the first 5 minutes of the race. But, I was doing Galloway, so after the 5 minutes, it was time for me to walk. So, I wished Kelly good luck and started to walk. And, the balloons kept on getting further away. I was getting nervous. But, I had to stick with my strategy. I was just going to have to catch up with the balloons after my walk break.
On a steady pace, I did catch up. And, everytime I stopped and walked, I would see the balloons again go off into the distance. After awhile, I finally got the confidence that I could run the race this way and stuck with my strategy.
I drank from the first water stop. And, yes, I had to stop afterwards to get 'rid' of it. So, I hurried and did what I had to do and caught up with the balloons again. The second water stop, the same thing. But, this was going up South Street. And, there was no place to go. I started to cramp up really bad to the point where I almost stopped running. This was only three miles into the race but I had to go. I dashed into a local restaurant where the patrons were having their breakfast watching the race. I asked where the bathrooms were. I was told upstairs. So, I headed up and felt relief right away.
Back on the course, I knew I was far behind the balloons but I couldn't sprint to find them. I had 23 miles to go. I would catch up. (I also told myself not to drink at the next water stops until I got thirsty.)
Finally, I did catch up with my pace group and I was starting to get into a rhythm. At this point, it was about 7 miles into the race as the course lead through Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, past Philadelphia Zoo, Memorial Hall and through the Belmont Plateau of the Fairmont Park. At about mile 10, I started getting a massive headache. Now what? Was I dehydrating now? I took off my hat for awhile and notice it went away. It was cold so put my hat back on. And, started getting the headache again. So, for the rest of the race, I literally held my hat in my hand.
The first part of the race had half-marathoners and marathoners running together. We headed to the Art Museum for the half-marathoners to finish. As we enter Eakins Oval, there were signs leading to the halfers finish and for the marathoners to continue. It was a bit cruel to watch people to finish when I knew I was only halfway done. I was still with Mike and the 5 hour crowd. I crossed the halfway point at 2:25. I was going to break 5:00 hours.
For the next 7 miles down Kelly Drive, I kept up the pace. Since this part was an out and back, I had a chance to cheer Steve on as we was shooting for a sub-4:00 marathon. I went into Manayunk and declined the offer of a beer from the crowd (though tempted). I got to mile 20, ran the turnaround and that's when it started to fall apart.
First, it was mental. I knew what was ahead. And, I DIDN'T want to run back. I hit mile 21 at almost exactly 4 hours. Five miles in an hour. I can still do it! But, my walkbreaks were getting longer. And, the pace group was getting further in the distance. This time, I wasn't catching up to them.
The physical breakdown started at mile 23. My hips were hurting through most of the second half of the race. My groin area started to cramp up along with the side of my knees. At this point, walking was more painful than running. So, I shuffled along. I saw Kevin and Ed on their bikes and they started cheering me on. My legs, back, hips were in so much pain. But, I was so close.
There is something about crowds at the end of a race that is inspirational. You don't know them, they don't know you but they cheer you on anyway. And, something inside of you, doesn't want to disappoint them. I ran, shuffled, drug myself the last mile. Going into Eakins Oval, once again, I saw the finish line. When I cross it, I can stop. I crossed it with a time of 5:04:28. Yes, disappointed that I didn't break 5 hours but on a cold, windy day, I managed to set a PR.
In writing this, I have no regrets on how I trained. I do question sometimes whether it makes sense for me to enter marathons. Steve and I agreed, with many other races, you can get a way with doing some things wrong, and still have a good race. The marathon will not allow that. But, I know my limitations with this race. I don't shoot for 4:30 and be bitterly disappointed that I'm not even close. Five hours is reasonable for me. I'm almost there. I need to find what minor adjustments I need to make in order to shave off that 4:29 from my PR. And, that's the beauty of it right there. It gives me yet another goal in life that I want to achieve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On your marks, get set........

The panic is setting in. That person next to me is coughing. I'm sure they have the flu. I know I will be sick by the end of the week. Do I run? For how long? What if I step in a pothole and twist my ankle? What if I don't run? I know all that training will go down the drain! Can I eat that? Can I eat anything? I know if I eat that it will make me sick. What if I can't sleep? What if my alarm doesn't go off? What if I don't set the alarm? What if there is a massive power failure the night before and my alarm doesn't go off? Just like in Seinfield. It can happen. AAAGGGGHHHHH!

Yes, folks, it's the week before the marathon!

My tapering has been spotty at best but that's ok. I ran a little bit last week and will run a little bit this week. The forecast is looking pretty good so far with highs in the upper 40s/lower 50s (F). One of the things I'm doing different is hydrating more this week. In past races, I have done most of my hydrating the morning of the race. For various reasons, that wasn't the smartest approach (ok, one of the various reasons is I kept stopping at the nearest tree/port-a-john/concealed area to 'discharge' at the beginning of each race.) Now, I'm drinking more fluids during this week and, by race time, will be properly hydrated. (Though my one hour commute home is killing me!)

The plan for the weekend, for all who care, is for Steve (aka Steve Runner) to come down to my house Saturday around noonish (he has to do some miles before heading down). Once he has arrived, we will be heading down to the expo, which is at Temple University this year. I need to pick up some gels, look for RaceReady shorts, and see if they are selling any Tyvex jackets. (I saw on Steve's bulletin board thingy they might sell them at Home Depot for a lot less money. Hmmmm.)

We will probably have an early dinner and then maybe have a blueberry (or pumpkin) ale for a nightcap. Bed early as wake up call will be 4:00a.

Sunday, MARATHON DAY! Breakfast will be blueberry pancakes for me (no, I'm not dumping in the blueberry ale into the mix). Steve has told me he will be eating a chicken breast (interesting choice for a 4a meal). I hope to leave the house before 5a and be down at the Art Museum area around 6:15a-6:30a.

Both Steve and I are signing up for the pace teams--Steve for the 4 hour team and I'm running with the 5 hour team. I think I mentioned before that I did this at Disney marathon and they were spot on with their time. If Steve can hang with them, I think he will do his sub-4:00. Me? I'll do my best.

I'm hoping to meet up with people from my running group down there. We will be hanging by the fountains across from the Art Museum at the beginning of the race. It would be nice to start out with someone. Also, I found out that a friend of mine from grammar school is going to be on the look out for us as well.

At the end of the race, Steve and I are planning to meet either at the Rocky statue by the Art Museum or under the letter P at the family meeting section. We will have to see what will have easier access after the race. So, if you see a goofy looking guy with a Boston Red Sox hat hanging out at either of these two spots about 4 hours after the race, that's Steve. I'm the incoherent, falling over, gasping for air guy that shows up about an hour later.

In all seriousness, I'm feeling good about this race. Nervous? Yeah, just a bit. For all the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this blog. But, I know I can do it. I've done it before. There is a buzz at work about this race. It's my hometown race after all. And, I'm really looking forward it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Practice? We're talking about Practice!

There is one day, on a marathon schedule that I hate. It's the two weeks before the race. It's the end of the training/beginning of the taper. It's the twenty miler. I hate the twenty miler. And, the twenty miler was yesterday.

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day in Bucks County. A little nip in the air but perfect to go for a run. But I was out there reluctant as a kid going out with mom to get new clothes for the school year.

The first 16-miler in the training schedule doesn't bother me. I get kind of excited thinking about my upcoming marathon. The 18-miler starts to play with my mind a bit, but, hey, it's only two more miles than the 16-miler. But, the twenty? Oh, the twenty! I'm out there for twenty miles (~ 4 hours) and nobody cares! (Except Kelly and Eric, my running partners yesterday). No medals, no glory, just pain! Yes, I know it's what I need to do for the marathon. I need to run this distance. I know I need to train for this distance (and, some will argue, that I didn't go far enough). But, I will admit, I don't like to train for an event, I like the event itself.

About 5 years ago, Allen Iverson, the star point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, held a press conference after the season concluded and the Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs. The coach, Larry Brown, questioned Iverson's commitment to practice all year long. There was no denying his commitment to the game. He put his heart and soul out on the floor everytime. Iverson was asked about the coach's statements. Iverson went on a rant about not understanding (and I'm paraphrasing here) how the MVP of the league (himself) could make the team better during practice. It was only the game that matters. Not practice. 'Practice. We're talking about practice!'

As a fan, I cringed watching that news conference, as I couldn't understand how a multi-million dollar star player didn't 'get it' why he might be even better if he showed up to practice once in awhile. But, deep down, I knew what he meant. I never did like practice either.

As a kid growing up, I was a pretty good athlete. I was tall, fast, with good reflexes. I was not the star on the teams I played for but, most times, was in the starting lineup. I had some natural ability that, truthfully, I didn't have to work hard to maintain. (A collective 'Oh, brother!' is heard from my former classmates at St. John's) But, that's my point. I had the talent to be in the game but not the drive and desire to excel in the game. I still believe that, if I worked harder and put my heart and soul in practice (training), I could have been good enough to play a sport in college. Not be on scholarship. But, play college sports (even if it was riding the bench for Whatsamatta U.).

Now, running the dreaded twenty miler doesn't exactly put me up there on the list of favorites to win the Philadelphia marathon. But, it does help my confidence to reach the elusive sub-5 hour barrier (btw, long distance running would NOT have been something I would have pursued nor would have been good at in college or any other time in my life). I know I had to be out there yesterday. I know. Don't remind me. I'll be grateful in the event that I did it. I'm sure it will help me achieve my goal. Doesn't mean I have to like it. Let the tapering begin!

Notes: Absolutely heartbreaking news about the death of Ryan Shay during the U.S. Olympic men's marathon trials in NYC over this past weekend. Condolences go out to his family and friends. The long range forecast for Philadelphia marathon is rainy, cold and windy. It is two weeks away and there is a very good chance this forecast will change but.... And, surprisingly, the marathon is sold out! I say surprisingly as I remember people telling me in the past they would wait a few days before the race to sign up to check on the weather forecast.

And, please, is there a limit to how many times we have to read an article about how back-of-the-packers have ruined the marathon? http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2007/11/03/marathon/

ARRRGGGGHHH! Can these guys just go away? Please? Not name-dropping here but I have spoken to Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, and Deena Kastor and, you know what? They encouraged me. They didn't knock me down. They weren't elitist of the sport and they know what running is all about. And, frankly, I would rather listen to the Olympians than this idiot.

In closing, the Penguin's wife response to the article:

http://community.active.com/blogs/CoachJenny/2007/11/05/oprah-and-the-penguin-ruin-marathoning

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Animals started to gather, lining up two-by-two...

If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads.
They might as well be dead.
If the rain comes. if the rain comes
---The Beatles

Last week was one heck of a week and just reminds me of why I don't beat myself up on training for a marathon and do it for the fun and adventure. I put in exactly 10 miles (well, not exactly as the path around Lake Galena was flooded and couldn't do a full lap. More later.)

The week started with a 2AM start time for work on Monday morning. I'm not a morning person. I'm grumpy when I'm tired. And, boy, was I tired. I got home around 3:30p that afternoon just flat out exhausted.

Tuesday night I flew down to North Carolina for business. I had a chance to try to get a run in on Wednesday night, despite the rain they had and so desparately needed. I had about two hours to kill after work and before meeting up with some people for dinner. The hotel I stayed at was in a crowded area so I wasn't comfortable running in the streets (or, more realistic, highways). I was only about 4 miles from North Carolina State University so I took the chance and ventured that way to see if I could find a track. I was hoping to do a few laps around the track to, at least, just loosen up a bit. I did find their football stadium and, was hoping, there was a track there. But... The traffic around the stadium suggested there was going to be some kind of event there that night. (Found out later the NHL Hurricanes have their stadium around that area and they were playing a home game). So, no run that night as well. And, I came back Thursday night not arriving home until 11p (due to flight delay).

I had every intention running in the Skeleton Scurry 5k in Hatboro, PA on Saturday but it rained and rained and rained... My mother did teach me to come out from the rain!

By Sunday, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I intended (notice the theme here. Intended IS a key word) to meet up with people at 8a but I felt I needed to sleep in at least one day. I did get out (ta-da!) to Lake Galena at 9:15a.

Part of the path around the lake was flooded out so I (and almost everyone else) ran to the flooded area and ran back and around and back. We looked like a swarm of bees around the lake. Usually, there is a certain rhythm you have running the loop, saying hello to people, knowing where you need to press and where to take it easy. All thrown out the window that day. I ran across the dam for three miles and then back for another 3 miles. Then I ran towards the flooded area (which is only about 1/8 mile from the 2 mile mark) and then back again. And, I had so much energy from NOT running the whole week that I nearly burned myself out in the first 3 miles. I was trying to reign it in but I kept on picking up the pace unintentionally. I used to run with a Garmin GPS for training and, when needed, still do. But, I find that I wind up being a slave to the time rather than running what I feel like. I know I am running a faster pace than normal but is it critical to know how fast all the time? Not sure.

And, it was windy that day. This year's Marine Corps marathon was held on Sunday and the day reminded me so much of when I ran it last year. It was also windy that day and it just killed my legs. The same happened this past Sunday around the lake but to a lesser degree. With a year removed, I blamed my conditioning for the time I had in that race. But, in the back of my mind, I always felt the conditions of the day played a part in it. So, in truth, it was a bit of both--I was not in good enough condition to run on windy days.

Only three more weeks to go for Philadelphia. We are starting to organize on going down there and how we are meeting up. Steve has called me to let me know when he was coming down. The excitement is starting to build. I'm looking forward in completing my fourth marathon.

Note: Congratulations to Harvey, one of my colleagues in North Carolina, who finished the Marine Corps marathon on Sunday. Harvey sustained a foot injury leading up to the race and gutted it out finishing only a 1/2 hour behind his goal time (the way he described it, finishing became the goal after 18 miles). I plan on doing 20 miles on Sunday doing a 5:1 run/walk ratio. I've changed my mind about the marathon and plan on using this ratio for the race instead. Having done it for my 18 mile long run last week, I felt great afterwards and think this might work better than 9:1. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quick Update

As sometimes happens, work is getting away of my fun. So, this is only a quick update on marathon progress.

Last week, I decided to add racquetball into the mix of training. (I normally play racquetball in the winter months and, yes, this isn't the smartest idea) The first few times out are very hard as I'm using my sprinting muscles and not the long-distance muscles in my legs.

I was very sore on Wednesday when I did 10 miles and began to have leg cramps halfway through the run. I continued to be sore for the rest of the week but went out Saturday for a 3+ mile run to stretch it out a bit. That and Tiger Balm helped out as I was ready for my Sunday long run.

Eric and Kelly joined me on Sunday for an 18 mile run (Kel for the first 8 miles). Eric is thinking about doing Philadelphia marathon but will decide after our training runs. We decided to do a 5:1 ratio (run/walk) and, considering we were out there for 3 hours and 48 minutes and the temps climbed to the 70's (F), I felt good afterwards. Even on Monday, I felt good.

This certainly helps my confidence going into Philadelphia. And, this is why I like the Galloway method as training can be more enjoyable as you don't have the soreness that you would have if running the whole way.

This week is going to be tough getting in any runs (yikes!) as I am going to North Carolina for the next few days for a business trip. I'm hoping to get in at least a 3 miler. Right now, the Hatboro 5k on Saturday may be in my plans and then a 10 miler on Sunday.

That's it! Nothing earth-shattering. See you next week!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Galloway training my way to Philadelphia!

I wanted to finish my thoughts on how I'm preparing for the Philadelphia marathon this year and how my methods can relate to anyone. To reinterate what I previously said, my belief is, participating in a marathon is more a mental challenge than a physical one. Once you convince yourself you can do it, you need to make sure you are properly prepared for the challenge.

I will admit that I am not prepared to do a 4 hour marathon, nor a 4:30 marathon. In truth, it would take a lot of time in training to be able to reach those goals. Don't get me wrong, I would like to set that as my goals. But, my one hour commutes and personal committments limit the time I can train for a marathon. So, my goal this year is to shoot for a 5 hour marathon. That is roughly a 11:00/mile pace.

I will be using the Jeff Galloway run/walk method. Jeff Galloway is a former Olympian and advocate of what I'm preaching of 'where there's a will, there's a way'. There are different variations of run/walk depending on your goal level. If you are interested in finding out more, check out his website: http://www.jeffgalloway.com/

I have participated in three marathons in my life and I have used run/walk in two. The idea behind run/walk is, by taking walk breaks, it will save your energy at the end of the race when you need it most. It is also important to note that you should use run/walk in your training as well and not just on the day of the race. Again, the details are on the website, but you should start using it when you start to do your 16 mile or longer long runs.

I tested this theory out before my first marathon in an 18 mile race on Long Beach Island, NJ. I was running 6 minutes and taking 1 minute walk breaks. It definitely felt funny stopping to walk after the first 6 minutes and watching people pass me. But, when I hit mile 16, I was passing the same people who were passing me at mile 1. So, it does require patience, for, afterall, this is a marathon you are doing.

For, Philadelphia, I plan on doing 9 minute run, 1 minute walk for no other reason than it will be simpler to calculate on my Garmin watch. Doing the 6/1 is fine in the beginning, but, try doing that calculation after 20 miles (heck, try to remember your name after 20!). Will I reach my 5 hour goal if I do it that way? I dunno. It's my strategy going in and, if it doesn't work, I'll try something else next time.

So, you see, you don't have to RUN a marathon in order to participate. In fact, Jeff Galloway preaches that you can actually lower your time substantially with run/walk. So, think about it. Give it some thought of checking this off of your lifelist right after 'Visiting the Grand Canyon' but before 'running with the bulls in Pamplona'. I'm guessing you will finish and say 'never again'. And then two months later, when the aches go away, you will be looking on websites on where you want to do your next marathon and will forget about running with those bulls.

Note: Congratulations to my friend Kelly on an excellent performance at the Baltimore marathon. She was only 1 minute off her goal time and I bet she could have reached that time if she saved her strength and didn't yell at the hills throughout the race. Congrats to my friend Steve (SteveRunner) on setting a PR at the Bay State marathon over the weekend. He came oh-so-close to his 4 hour goal but I know he can reach that time in Philadelphia! And, finally, congrats to the worldwide half community of runners on an excellent effort over the weekend!
Finally, some words for Mr. Bill McGurk of Folsom, PA. But first, dear readers, please read the bottom letter in this link entitled Limit marathoners to follow along: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/sports/20071014_Letters____Phils_show_true_leadership.html

Mr. McGurk sent a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer which was printed in the Sunday edition of the paper (The 700 Level). This letter was in reference to the issues in this year's Chicago marathon and marathons in general. Mr. McGurk stated that 'greed is the main culprit' for the troubles at Chicago and questions how many people were actually in shape to run 26.2 miles. He also states that 'in Philly, people were still running-if you can call it that (his words)--six hours after the marathon began. You aren't a runner. You are a wannabe.'

I suggest, Mr. McGurk, you read the following article from the Baltimore Sun of why people would spend 6 hours out there on a marathon course.
http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/outdoors/bal-md.marathon14oct14,0,3187438.story
Everyone has their own personal reason for doing this. It doesn't always have to be about winning. And, who are you to determine what a certain time a marathon should be? Most marathons DO have certain time limits for runner's to finish the event. In fact, when I ran the Cape Cod marathon, I knew I had to finish under six hours. I trained properly for the race but sustained an injury and limped home. But, I did it! And, I'm damn proud of that accomplishment!

So, following your logic, Mr. McGurk, I am calling on a ban of all softball/basketball/bowling/whatever amateur leagues you play for because you guys aren't real. You are wannabes. You might get hurt. You are causing our insurance rates to go up. How dare you guys have a goal in life!

So, Mr. McGurk of Folsom, PA, why don't you do some research on websites and blogs and find out the REAL reason why people would subject themselves to participating in a 26.2 mile or any running event. It's not always about kicks and giggles. It might just open your eyes!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My thoughts on the Chicago marathon

I want to address what happened at last Sunday's Chicago marathon of the things I have heard from various people. If you haven't heard, one person died and as many as 200+ people were taken to the hospital during the marathon. The temperatures that day were 88 degrees (F) with high humidity. My understanding is that water was an issue for back of the pack runners from the beginning of the race. The faster runners did get fluids but, as the race wore on, the people in the back weren't getting water or Gatorade. Eventually, the race was cancelled after about 3 1/2 hours.

It's important to note that the police officer who died had a pre-existing heart condition. It may have been triggered by the weather but it is not considered a heat-related death. When I did the Marine Corps marathon, I saw a man lying on the ground, around mile 17 with people around calling for an ambulance. I later found out that he also died but, again, had a pre-existing heart condition as well. I guess what I want to make sure is you don't get scared off by these reports and think marathons or running in general is bad for you. There were over 25,000 people at these events. I'm sure people have heart attacks at baseball games, with similar crowd size, but it would never get reported. But...

I can't stress enough that, though I say that you can do a marathon, please, please check with your doctor first. My point is that my belief, participating in a marathon is more of a mental exercise than a physical one, doesn't mean you ignore the physical element. I also want to emphasize that you can't just show up for a marathon. You do need to train for it. Steve and I ran with a guy who did just that at the 2004 Cape Cod marathon. His buddy talked him into it the week before. He did finish but he said he was sorry he tried doing it that way.

To finish my Chicago marathon thoughts, it sounded like a brutal day out there. I read other blogs stating if people were in better shape, the heat shouldn't have been a factor. That is utter nonsense! Some people tolerate heat better than others. There is a huge difference in how I race between a hot day to a cool one. Steve and I talked about entering the race this year but I would have been one of the ones affected by this.

The Chicago marathon race organizers have stated they felt there was enough water on the course. People who ran the race in the back of the pack felt otherwise. I know this was not a typical fall day in the Chicago area. More like a summer day. And, I know that because it was such a big race, it will get more press exposure. I have been in races where they have run out of fluids. I only hope this is a lessons-learned experience and they will take better precautions for this in the future.

Notes: I actually wanted to continue my thoughts from last week on marathon training but will talk about it again next week. As mentioned, I will be using the run/walk method for the Philadelphia marathon. For more information on this, click on this link: http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/marathon.html
Jeff Galloway is a great resource for this.

Congratulations to my friends Melissa and Eric on their marathon performances last weekend on a hot fall day. Melissa participated in the Steamtown marathon (Scranton, PA) and did a sub-4:00! Eric participated in the Hudson Mohawk marathon in Albany, NY and had a bit of a rough day but did finish the race. Races like that will test what you are made of and hats off to you, Eric, for having the guts to leg it out. Also, congrats to the other runners in the Doylestown area who participated in the Hudson Mohawk half and full marathons. I was suppose to go on that trip but had to change plans when I was sick in July and couldn't train properly.

Because of personal committments, I had to do most of my training during the week last week. Same thing this week, as I plan to do my long run tomorrow instead of over the weekend. One thing I learn is that you have to be flexible with your schedule.

So much for October baseball for the Phillies! Geez, you couldn't have won one game, guys! Give us a little hope???!!!

Go get 'em, Kel!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The First Steps to a Marathon!

It's official. I have signed up for the Philadelphia marathon which is on November 18, 2007. (Bib # 6430) And, Steve from Massachusetts (aka SteveRunner) has also signed up. (Bib # 6433) And, for any of you who follow Steve's podcast, I have found Blueberry Ale in the Doylestown area and am happy to buy the one I owe him from the Falmouth race when he comes down.

First, let me say, if you are a reader of this blog and you can do a marathon in less than 4:30, this week's episode is not about you. I thank you for checking in. See you next week!

OK, now that we got rid of those 'fast' people, here's a little secret for the rest of you. If you have never done a marathon and kind of wanted to, let me put your mind at ease---You CAN do a marathon. You probably thought I meant CAN'T. Oh no! You CAN do a marathon. You may not scare the Kenyans with your speed and you may not be able to run the whole thing, but there are ways of training so you can participate and finish a marathon.

But (isn't there always a 'but' to these things?) you need three things--reasonable health (as they say, check with your doctor before you start any exercise program), patience and a spirit not to give up.

What do I mean by reasonable health? You don't need to be a super athlete. You just need to have been exercising for a period of time. Or, at least, willing to start exercising on a regular basis. And I don't mean you have to exercise everyday. And, you don't need to eat Tofu and raw oats for the rest of your life. But, if you are huffing and puffing to get the mail at the front door, you might want to get in enough shape to, at least, get the paper at the end of the driveway. Hey, it's a start!

And, what do I mean by patience? If you are a runner and only have done 5ks, I wouldn't sign up for a marathon this year. Or next year. And, that's when the patience kicks in. Because it will take awhile for you to get used to the idea of running for that length of time.

In the beginning of 2004, I decided I wanted to do my first marathon by the end of the year. So, I trained for the Cape Cod marathon, which is run at the end of October. The month before the race, I wound up with Iliotibial Band Syndrome, which is pain and inflammation on the outside of my left knee. I rested as much as I could leading up to the race and ran the first half of the marathon in a reasonable time. But, the second half of the race, the pain kicked in and I wound up walking most of the last half of the race. Yes, I finished, but I didn't feel I did anything special (especially since they ran out of medals at the finish. They did mail me one later.)

If I had to do it over again, I would have waited the following year. Because, my pain was caused by socks that were comfortable for a 5k but uncomfortable for a longer distance run. And, I never bothered to change running shoes that year from last because they were still good, right? In that first year, I learned so much about what worked and, especially, what didn't work in my training leading up to the race.

So, if you can do a 5k, then make it a goal to do a 10k and a half marathon next year and wait for the marathon the following year. You just need to know what it's going to feel like to be out there for that long. Believe it or not, it does get easier as you do more and more longer events.

Now let's talk about spirit. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, running is 50% physical and 90% mental. You need to convince yourself you CAN do this! And, you need to keep convincing yourself, that you CAN do this! Because, physically, you WILL be able to do that. But, your mind will try to convince you otherwise. You need to have the will and determination to realize that pain is temporary but accomplishment is forever!

You will be out there for 5 hours. Or maybe more. And your friends and families will think you are crazy and try to talk you out of doing it. But, don't listen to them. Because something inside of you tells you that its important to do this. And, keep listening to that voice (but ignore the one that repeats RED RUM! that voice is creepy) while you are training and participating in the marathon. It is that spirit that will get you through and help you along the way.

I plan on training and participating in the Philadelphia marathon using the Galloway run/walk method. If you don't know what that is, I will talk more about it later.

Out of the three, spirit will become the most important. You can get yourself in physical shape, be patient along the way in getting there, but, when the gun goes off at your first marathon, think to yourself--I CAN DO THIS! And, you will!

Note: I ran 5 miles on Wednesday and started my long run training on Sunday with 16.5 miles. Good luck to my friends Eric, Kelly and Melissa in their upcoming marathons in the next couple of weeks. Make the Blue Dawgs proud! And, finally, I thought it would be a long time before I ever uttered these words again--THE PHILLIES ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS! OCTOBER BASEBALL IN PHILADELPHIA!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Giving Something Back

I started doing races on a regular basis back in 2001. And, for the following 5 years or so, everytime I signed up for a race, there was always a group of people helping me to register, give me a bib number, a T-Shirt, a goody bag, handing me water on the course, and keeping the clock to let me know how I did. And, as I think most people do, I took these volunteers for granted. Not that I don't appreciate them. But people are just always THERE at the race helping us runners. Aren't they?

Last year, I was asked to help out at the 'Friends of the Dove 10k' race held at Lake Galena each September. By nature, I'm on the shy side and couldn't imagine how I could be helpful. But, it was such an experience to be on the 'other side' that I have committed to making sure I volunteer for a race at least once a year. So, this past Sunday, I honored my committment to myself and volunteered again for the 'Dove' race.

I don't write this to tell you what a great person I am for volunteering. On the contrary, I write this to tell you of the truly 'great' people the race organizers are (for any race) and what a humbling experience it is to be a volunteer. I had two jobs--give out Bib numbers for those not pre-registered and to make sure people, as they cross the finish line, stay organized and in the chutes so the correct results could be tabulated.

And, why was volunteering humbling? If you are a runner in a race, you think about yourself and how you are doing. After the race, you look for water and try to get yourself back together. You probably aren't thinking about other runners and the stories they could tell of themselves and how they got there that day. I know when I run a race it really is all about me.

But, just once, be on the end where you watch runners finish. Not just the ones you know, but all the runners. Study their faces. Especially the ones you know have never run this kind of race before. (And you do KNOW!) Look at the faces that show you both agony and sheer joy at the same time while crossing that finish line. The pained expression of running as hard as they could with the hint of a smile knowing of what they just did! And tell them 'Great job' and see the smiles on their face again!

I didn't know the majority of the people running on Sunday but I was so proud of everyone's efforts and was so happy for their accomplishments. I really was humbled that day of what they did and I remember the feelings of my first races.

So, I encourage people that, if you enjoy running as a sport, take the time to be a volunteer at one of your local races. If you can't volunteer, make sure you thank the people who are there at the race giving up their time (and getting there before you!).

It took me longer to be a volunteer than it did to run my first marathon. Take my advise. Being a volunteer is easier. And it will give you the same sense of accomplishment!

Note: I took it easy this past week coming off the PDR race. I ran 5 miles on Wednesday with heavy legs and then it was a bit easier on Saturday doing 6 miles around Lake Galena.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Philadelphia Distance Run Report (Sept 16, 2007)

I was nervous on Saturday. I don't know why but I was. It can't be the distance because I've done half-marathons before. It can't be the weather because it was suppose to be beautiful conditions. Wait. Could it be the weather? Maybe the conditions were too perfect? Maybe I didn't want to blow this opportunity?

All day Saturday I was thinking, 'am I drinking enough water? does juice count as water? maybe I shouldn't drink the juice? what should I eat for dinner? Should I stay off my feet all day? I know, I know, if I walk down those steps I'll misstep and twist an ankle. '

After dinner (oven-roasted chicken from Texas Roadhouse), I packed my running bag and laid out what I was wearing the next day. I sat down for five minutes and thought about what possible things am I missing. I threw extra gels in, sports beans, an extra shirt in case the one I intended on wearing suddenly went up in flames and I need something else to pin my number on. Having satisfied my thought process that there wasn't anything else possible to pack in my running bag, I went to bed at 9:30p checking and re-checking and re-checking my re-checking to make sure the alarm was set to a 24 hour station for 4:50a Sunday.

The alarm went off and I jumped in the shower. My wife woke up and asked me, 'why are taking a shower before a 13 mile run?' I don't know but I felt like I should. I guess I just wanted to keep awake and this was a good way of doing it. After the shower, I fed the cat and went down stairs for coffee and breakfast. Usually, I eat (2) Clif bars before a race but discovered (by accident, I think) that I've run well eating pancakes instead. So, blueberry pancakes and coffee it was.

I've learned through early morning races that the digestive system has a mind of its own. It doesn't always kick in when you want it to. My intention was to leave the house by 6:45a but was sidetracked by my digestive systems own wake up call. Still, I was only 10 minutes late and realized that was one less trip to the ever-lovely port-a-potty line. Driving down, in 46 degree weather, all I kept asking myself was, 'why am I giving up a perfectly good day off from work to do this?'

The race starts and finishes in Eakins Oval around the Art Museum. I got there around 7:15a with the race starting in a half hour. I noticed the corrals were lined up on a different side than last year. Hmmm. Wonder why? I was in Corral 7 but was able to move up to Corral 4 because I was on a corporate team. It was a perfect day. The weather was gorgeous. I stood in the corral thinking about how I should run this race.

When the gun went off and I began walking to the start line, I convinced myself if ever I was going to do a sub 2-hour half, it would have to be on a day like today. I couldn't waste the weather by going out too slow. I was going to roll the dice and see how I felt along the way.

The race goes down the Franklin Parkway, around City Hall and east on Market Street. It use to go past Independence Hall but instead, this year, we went to the right of the building. They've changed the course! Nobody was quite sure where we were going but hoped the thousands of people in front of you knew where they were going. We zig-zagged through Society Hill finally turning west on Walnut Street.

I had to do a 9:10 pace to reach my 2 hour goal. I hit the 5k mat at 26:46, less than a 9 minute pace. By this point in the race, you can tell whether you are having an off day or whether you are on target. I felt fine. I felt strong. I just have to maintain this pace.

After you going up Walnut Street, you head north on 16th Street for a bit before going up the Franklin Parkway towards the Art Museum again. Once you hit the Art Museum, you go around the left side of Eakins Oval and head towards Martin Luther King Drive and along the Schuylkill River.

This is about 5 miles into the race and though I was feeling good from a running perspective, I began to develop a sharp pain in my right shoulder. My shoulder? Geez, am I having a heart attack? Don't you get pains in your left shoulder if you are having a heart attack? Should I slow down? If I slow down, can I get my pace back up again? Even if it was a heart attack, would it matter if I slowed down or not? Within 5 minutes, the pain went away. At least in the shoulder.

I hit the 10k mat at 53:50 and the 7 mile marker at 1:00:46. All I had to do was a little bit better than 10:00/mile pace and I was in free. I was still feeling good. I wasn't going to ease up. I was going to do it today.

The course continues up MLK Drive to the Falls Bridge. You go up a slight hill and across the bridge, bearing right after the bridge onto Kelly Drive and back to the Art Museum. This point is mile 9. This point is where my leg cramps began.

This year, the water stations had Accelerade on the course as the sports drink. I can't drink water in a race as my stomach gets upset so rely on the sport drinks. But, I read the sport drinks stop after the mile 7 water station. I knew I would have to go the last half of the race without hydrating. And, I'm starting to cramp up with 4 more miles to go.

I hit the mile 10 mark in 1:28:09. I had a 5k race to go and I had to be smart about this. So, I backed off. There was no reason to push. All I wanted to avoid was having to stop and get the cramping out of my legs. They weren't bad. I had to be careful. So, I backed off 30 seconds from my pace and relunctantly drank some water to hydrate.

The last mile of the race is around Boathouse Row. There is a slight uphill for the last half mile of the race. It's also directly in the sun. I put my head down and just followed the back of the feet in front of me. By this time, my hips were hurting, my legs were hurting, my feet were hurting. I made it to the top and started sprinting to the finish. But, the finish line wasn't there! What the...? Where's the finish line? They moved it from where it was last year! I had to go down the end of Eakins Oval (again!) and make a sharp right turn towards the famous Rocky steps at the Art Museum. After making the sharp right, I finally saw the finish line! I sprinted with arms thrust in the air with a time of 1:56:50, almost 8 minutes off my PR!

So, despite my down summer, I begin the fall season with an accomplishment that I've been aiming to do since I started this long distance stuff. I know I measure myself on how well I can do a half-marathon not a full one. And it answered my questions of why I take a perfectly good day off from work and do this. This feels great!

Pictures of the race can be viewed on http://www.runphilly.com/home.html

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Philadelphia Distance Run Update

I got my confirmation card and my race number is 8683. I will be wearing an orange and white singlet. If anyone wants to look for me and say hello, I will be hanging out by the fountain on the right hand side across the street from the Art Museum but facing the steps. (Fountain closest to the Rocky statute). High temperatures for the day are predicted to be in the low 70s, so temps at race time (7:45a) should be quite comfortable. I will be in Corral number 8. I predicted my time to be 2:00:00. Good luck to anyone running the race and hope to see you there.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not quite a Summer of Love

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. That was the year when the world embraced and cherished a life where peace, love and harmony would prevail. Scott MacKenzie sang about the center of this movement, San Francisco, where 'if you go, make sure you wear some flowers in your hair'. People under 30 converged to the Haight-Asbury part of the city where life was a huge lovefest, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) was free and the world was a groovy place to live.

And, I bet, when most people think back or hear about those times, that's what they think. But, I recently saw a documentary which suggested, that simply wasn't true. It started that way. Young people had high (pardon the pun) ideals in which they could create a separate society where money didn't rule their lives. They listened and followed Timothy Leary when he told them to 'Turn on, tune in, drop out.' But, by the time The Beatles first sang, 'All You Need is Love' in June of that year, too many people ventured to and lived in Haight-Asbury thinking the world would give them this utopian society without giving anything of themselves. San Francisco had turned into an area with a major problem of homeless, drug addicts, and runaways. A summer, which started out with such hope turned into something quite different. This may be quite a stretch but this summer turned out the same for me.

Coming off of the Broad Street Run, I had great hope for this summer. And, it started great too, with me winning my division (Master Clydesdale, 190-210 lb) in the 4 mile ALS Out and Back on Kelly Drive in Philadelphia. My stated goal was to run my normal 5k summer schedule so I would be in a position to try to break my PR this fall. But, being sick for a month killed any hope of that. I didn't do the Tex-Mex in North Wales, Revolutionary Run in Washington's Crossing, Moyer & Sons in Souderton, and, because of a wedding, couldn't even compete in the Ivyland 5k (which was my first 5k I ever did years ago). I have gotten so use to running these races over the years, that it literally did not feel like I lived through this particular summer!

So, now, the fall season begins. It starts with the Philadelphia Distance Run (half-marathon) next week. I am aiming for the Philadelphia marathon the Sunday before Thanksgiving. And, in between, I hope to do a number of 5ks where I can fit into my training schedule. But, I don't think I will be in a position to PR.

I haven't been thrilled with my training runs. I can tell I was more fit in the spring than I am now. Now, I need to show some patience and build up my confidence again. Patience I'm good at, confidence I'm not. Throughout my life, I've fought having confidence. With school, with girls, with work, with almost everything. But, I've been able to muster enough of it when I need it the most. This time, with the help of having enough patience, I will get it back again.

So, as the summer of 2007 comes to a close, I harken back to 1967, once again, for my fall theme song. Let's see: 'Something Stupid'?, 'Kind of a Drag'?, 'Snoopy vs. The Red Baron'? No, 'I'm a Believer!'

Note: Three runs last week-a 4 mile tempo, my normal 6 miler on Wednesday and 13.5 on the Delaware River yesterday. The temps have been in the 80s (F). Can't wait for a little cooler weather.
Also. congratulations to Kevin Madden, a former classmate of mine (see the St. John's Class of 1973 website). Kevin participated in the Wisconsin Ironman Triathlon this past weekend and finished in a time of 12:36:37, finishing 906 out ot 2209. To put it in perspective, Kevin ran a 4:51:04 marathon which is 16 minutes faster than my PR. His marathon was after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles. He puts me to shame. :-)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Catherine the Great!

This will be a short entry into the blog as lots of things to catch up on with work this week.

First, I hope everyone in the States had a pleasant Labor Day yesterday. The weather in the Philadelphia area over the weekend was incredible. High temperatures in the low 80's (F) and in the 60's (F) overnight. They are calling for nice weather all this week as well. I hate to see summer go but temps like this make it feel so comfortable.

I've come to the conclusion that I won't have enough miles in this summer to do the Mohawk marathon in October. I ran 12 miles Sunday and, though I felt pretty good, I didn't feel comfortable enough that I felt I could 'wing' in Albany, NY. So, my focus is back to Philadelphia Distance Run in two weeks and the Philadelphia marathon in November. I also ran 6 miles on Wednesday and 6 on Friday so I am starting to pick up the mileage in my schedule.

I also want to congratulate Catherine Ndereba (pictured with Meb Keflezghi) on winning the 2007 women's marathon at the IAAF Track & Field World Championships in Osaka, Japan this past week. The reason I mention this is I have had the pleasure of meeting Catherine on a number of occasions at the Falmouth Road Race in the past few years. She is the nicest, sweetest, most gracious person you would ever want to meet. She always has a big smile on her face. Last year, she gave a speech during the award presentation that everyone stood up and applauded. In the track world, she is a huge star but you would never know it by her demeanor. So, Catherine, you truly earn your nickname of 'The Great'. Congratulations on your victory at Osaka and Falmouth and thank you for being the nice person that you are.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beach, baby!




I am happy to say that my recent string of bad luck travelling about has come to an end. I went down to Florida last Thursday and came back yesterday and my flights were without incident (except for the screaming kid who 'had to go' when we were taxiing to the gate on our arrival in Philadelphia. I really felt bad for him and his parents. But, he made it!)

I had a two-part trip in Florida--first few days in New Smyrna Beach (see picture on right), where my parents live and the second part was three days at Disney World with my sisters and their families. Since this is a running blog, I won't go into any details about my stay at Disney other than it was fun to drive around to the different theme parks and re-visit the Disney marathon course I ran in January 2006 (Epcot Center, pictured to the right is the start and finish of the race).

I brought my running stuff down with me but didn't really know how much I would be running while I was down there. In Pennsylvania, if you get up early enough, for the most part you can beat the heat of the day and get a good run in. My experiences in Florida, it's a little different. Even though I started relatively early, it was still pretty hot and humid.

I had various options on where to run but the easiest was running on the boards at Smyrna Dunes Park http://volusia.org/parks/smyrnadunes.htm. This park is where the Indian River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. They have a 1.5 mile circular boardwalk overlooking the river and ocean. The park has various vegetation but is also home to large turtles. The turtles and the area are federally protected but it is fun running around the boards looking for them. (see image to the right)

I started in the parking lot and headed east running parallel to the river. In truth, because of the dunes (hence the name Smyrna Dunes park), you don't get great views of the river but catch glimpses of it. There are other boards going down to the river and ocean if you want to explore. You run the boards for about 1/2 mile when it begins to circle and you head south parallel to the ocean. I sometimes find it hard to run here as you try to drink in the scenery at the same time focusing on trying not bumping into anyone. After the first mile, you begin to go west, back towards the parking lot. But, here you have a small hill to climb. It's not much of a hill (yes, I'm still running the boards at this point) and, in truth, you go down the hill after the climb. But, I find that last half-mile a bit rough. It's not pancake flat. The boards go a bit down and a bit up, just enough to throw off the rhythm of your running and your breathing.

I ran Friday and did 3 laps around the park for 4.5 miles. No matter what I try, I can't seem to run when the sun beats down on me. That day it did. I was following the shadows of the rails that fell on the boardwalk itself and realized that wasn't necessarily a good thing since the sun wasn't being blocked from creating those shadows. Breezes, on the course, are different from day-to-day. On Friday, there was no breeze that last half-mile and it hurt. I had some pented up energy to start and was gassed by 4.5.

I went back out on Saturday and thought, since my energy was zapped from the previous day, I would do an easy 3. But, it was a bit cloudy that day. I started with the intention of 3 until I passed someone walking their dog and she shouted, 'How many are you doing today?'. 'Four laps', I replied. Four laps? OK, now I've committed myself.

As I got more of a rhythm going, I knew I could do it without a problem. I started off slow enough and saved my energy 'in case' I wanted to do more than 2 laps. The sun was being hidden by the clouds and, though it was hot, it was a comfortable hot that didn't drain you. Plus, the winds had shifted from the previous day and that last half-mile that I feared, now had a gentle breeze I was running into. So, I did end up doing the 4 laps for a total of 6 miles. Plus, the 5 miles I did on my normal Wednesday run put my total at 15.5 miles for the week.

Granted, it's not a lot of miles for any type of marathon training. And, it would be a bit of stretch to say it was any type of training for a half-marathon. But, it was something and I felt great doing it.

Last year when I went to Florida, it was around this time of year as well. I happened upon a Cross-country 5k in Titusville which was different than anything I've run previously. But, I didn't see it this year and was a little disappointment they didn't have their second annual verison of the race. They offered cash prizes for their 5k series and that race was their kick-off of the series. The first 15 people in each age group were to get a cash prize. I thought it hilarious that I was actually in the top 15 for my age group after the first race. I think I calculated that I would have won $20 if I competed in the whole series and kept my standings.

So to recap my August: I have run in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Huron, Ohio and New Smyrna Beach, Florida in the past three weekends. That's a lot of travelling. And, as much fun as it was to visit and have the chance to run in these areas, I'm looking forward to just being at home next weekend. So, back to my routine. Back to Lake Galena.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles


This past weekend, my wife and I went to a wedding in Sandusky, Ohio. Sandusky is about an hour west of Cleveland. Now, I know, you are jealous of me for taking this trip. But, before you snicker, it was actually quite nice.

But, getting there and back was anything but nice. We left from Newark Liberty airport on a 4pm flight Friday evening. Or was suppose to. Thunderstorms came in and delayed our flight. As usual, we had left the gate and sat on the tarmac. And sat. And sat. And sat. Through this we were told we were going to leave soon, no, we aren't, yes, we are. Three hours later, we took off. Three hours on a plane. Waiting. And waiting. People were not happy. People expressed themselves as not being happy. I do not envy the cabin crew dealing with people in these type of situations.

We did finally arrive in Cleveland around 8p. Ok, not so bad. We'll pick up the car and get going. But, the car rentals are not at the airport. You have to take a bus to get your rental car. Now, I'm sure I was tired but it felt like I had to go to Michigan to get my car. After about 10 minutes, we did get to the car rental and headed out.

After stopping for dinner at some buffalo joint (not Buffalo, NY but they served buffalo), we headed to Huron, Ohio. Got there around 11p and turned in.

Here is where the surprising part (for me) was. Huron is a nice little town. It is situated on Lake Erie. Our hotel overlooked the Huron River which flows into Lake Erie. Now, the view of the river was nice but there was agri-businesses on the other side didn't look so nice. Still, there were parks around and looking out onto the lake was similar to looking out on to an ocean. (picture above).

If you are familar with the eastern part of the United States, the area reminded me of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. You drove around and there were farms. Lots of things are geared to enjoyment of the water. It felt like a shore community.
We were also surprised that (a) Ohio has wineries and (b) the wine is pretty good. We only had a chance to visit one but we did wind up buying a bottle and taking it home with us. We do have wineries in the Bucks County area where I live, but they tend to be hit or miss for me. I think Bucks County wineries tend to gear themselves to the sweet wines (Concord, Niagara grapes) and, personally, I like a drier wine and Ohio did have some good ones.

As mentioned the wedding was in Sandusky. We didn't get a chance to go into downtown Sandusky much but it had one of the things that I think is destroying the uniqueness of towns in America. Every town (and, I mean every town) has the same restaurants, Targets, Lowes, Home Depots, blah, blah, blah and on and on. Towns all look the same. And, I think that's a shame. Our towns (and not just Sandusky) are becoming bland with no identity of their own (ok, I'm off my soapbox now).

Sunday was raining but I was determined to run anyway. From the hotel, there is a 1/2 mile walkway jutting out onto Lake Erie. It is right next to where the Huron River flows into the lake. With the storm surging, the wind was pretty fierce out there so, with hat in hand (no, literally, it would blow off otherwise), I went out and back for my first mile. I only did three, so tried to follow the lake as much as I could. I would love to run a 5k here for a PR as the roads were flat and fast. I felt great after the run but a little wet.

After checking out, we went to Cleveland to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I didn't see much of Cleveland to have an impression other than it was pretty empty (at least by Philadelphia standards). But, having said that, it was raining hard the entire day. We enjoyed the RRHoF spending the afternoon there. You can easily spend an entire day. (Highlight for me was to see the costume John Lennon wore on the Sgt. Pepper's cover).

After our RRHoF visit, it was back to the airport. Thank goodness for GPS devices as we rented one with our car and would have gotten hopelessly lost if we didn't have it. Because the car rental place is tucked in where no visitor would venture to go. After we dropped off, found out the flight was delayed for an hour. Sigh. I guess it's better than sitting on a plane. No wait. We did that too as we got on the plane and waited for another hour. And, the captain, told us that we were going to wait another hour! The weird part that about 5 minutes later, the captain got on the PA system and announced we are ready for takeoff. We wound up not getting home until 12:30a. (By the way, in case you were wondering, surgham doesn't travel well on an airplane. Don't ask questions. Take my word.)

The adventures continue with me as I head down to Florida this weekend. For those taking a Southwest flight on either Thursday this week or Tuesday next to and from Orlando, beware. If I'm sitting next to you, chances are your flight will be delayed.

Note: I did six miles on Wednesday and three on Sunday. This week the mileage will be about the same as long runs are just not possible at the moment. Chances are slim I'll be doing a marathon in October but will gear up for the Philadelphia marathon in November.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Falmouth Road Race Weekend Report




My weekend started with a late arrival into Providence airport from 90 degrees (F) Philadelphia on Friday. Steve and I were intending to go to the Worcester Tornadoes (a independent minor league baseball team) that night but, when I landed it was raining. But, afterall, this was New England so, as Mark Twain once stated, if you didn't like the weather there, just wait, it will change in a minute. Sure enough, the rain stopped but now it was 50 degrees (F)! (Bit of drastic change for my body). We did wind up at the game, a little late but, unfortunately for Steve, his Worcester Tornadoes lost to the Traveling Grays (they literally are a traveling road team with no home stadium).


Saturday, Steve, his wife and I did the DAY KIMBALL HOSPITAL DEARY MEMORIAL 5 Mile Race in Putnam, CT. I wasn't sure if this was a good idea--a race before the day of a race but, decided, since I hadn't raced in awhile, it would be good to at least use this as a training run to get the rust off. It was a beautiful day with temps in the 60's (F) and lower humidity. I finished the race in 43:52 and was satisfied that I didn't push myself too hard. It took me awhile to find my stride in the beginning but by the end I felt fine, not winded at all.


After the race and a shower, we headed down to Falmouth to pick up our numbers and walk around the expo. Some years it can be an interesting expo but I mostly like to go as a number of the running greats, past and present, show up for an autograph session. So, each year, I get the poster, the race gives out, signed. Since this was the 35th Falmouth Road Race, the autograph session featured 'The Olympians'. So, I had a chance to talk to Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Catherine Ndereba, and "Meb" Keflezghi. Not only did I get to talk with them but they each brought their Olympic medals. When I was 13, I remember Frank Shorter winning the 1972 marathon in Munich and now I had a chance to see and hold the medal he won!
(Picture at top is myself with Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Picture to the right below are Frank Shorter's gold medal from the 1972 Munich games and the silver medal from the 1976 Montreal games) Also there was Astronaut Sunni Williams who is local to the area and ran the Boston marathon in space!












Since we got late to the expo, we never had a chance to walk around and the booths were breaking down for the day. Our intention for the evening was to attend a Cape Cod League baseball game in Falmouth that night. The Cape Cod League is where college players get a chance to play in the summer. Many of today's minor and major leaguers once started out playing in the Cape Cod League. We found out, since it rained the night before, the game was postponed until Sunday. We found out there was a game in Bourne, about 15 miles north of Falmouth. We wound up getting there around the 6th inning, but, that was ok, it was baseball and it was fun to just to watch that amount.

After the game, we went over to Falmouth High School to watch the Falmouth Mile. This is an invitational event for men and women. Incredible performances for both the women and the men with the standout performance from John Riley, a local from Brookline, MA doing a sub-4:00 mile in 3:57. (First time I had a chance to ever witness that!)

Whew! All that and I didn't even run the Falmouth race yet! Steve and I went to the Captain Kidd restaurant on Saturday night for dinner. The Captain Kidd is the starting point for the Falmouth race. After a beer or two, some onion rings, fries and a hamburger, (yes, I'm sure that isn't on any Olympic pre-race meal plan for distance runners), it was time to go back and rest up for tomorrow.

I woke up Sunday, feeling pretty good, but, I must admit, my legs and back were stiffer than I had hoped. Plus, I was dealing with some digestive 'issues' (don't you dare blame it on the onion rings). We left the hotel and, in our traditional way, parked by the finish line. Even though we were literally a quarter mile from the start, it's best to park at the finish as Falmouth is a point to point race. It would be more of a pain to get back to the hotel after the race then it was to drive to the finish at the start of the race. From where we parked, it's about a mile and a half walk to a school (I don't remember the name but just sort of followed everyone) where the bus picks everyone up to bring you to the start line.

We got to the start about an hour before the race. As I had feared, it was getting hot that day. The temperatures were predicted in the lower 80's with humidity. Even though Steve and I were each predicting victory, I knew I would melt in this sun.

I think the Falmouth course is one of the hardest courses I have run. The first 2 miles are shady but hilly. (Actually, at about 1/2 mile into the race, the most picturesque scene I ever witness is when the runners go up the hill towards Nobska Point Lighthouse where the 1 mile mark is. It is truly breathtaking!) Miles 3-4 are in the sun with no relief. Spectators lined the course blocking any breeze from the ocean but, with their cheering, they will get you through. Miles 5-6 have parts of shade winding your way around Falmouth harbor. Mile 7 is in the sun and the last slap in the face is a hill about a 1/2 mile from the finish. It can a lovely course and yet a brutal one the next year.

We started in the second wave, around 5 minutes after the elite runners. When the gun went off, my strategy was to go out fast and lose Steve and make him wonder where I was the entire race. I thought maybe he felt he had to play catch up and, since he ran the race on Saturday as if it was a race, I thought maybe he might be too tired. I ran the first mile in 8:30 pace, which is what I wanted. But, things fell apart soon after. I struggled through miles 3 and 4. I felt my only hope was not to stop and just keep going. Maybe Steve was feeling the heat too. I slowed down to a 9:15 pace. I wanted to stop but knew the race was lost if I did. Every chance I got, I was taking sips of water at the water stop or running around the garden hoses the residents on the course would be spraying for the runners. By the sixth mile, I saw people falling by the wayside needing medical attention. I had to keep going but what were they feeling when they passed out? Was it the same as I was feeling? No, I had to just keep going.

It is deceptive after climbing the last hill because you know you are near the end but still can't see the finish. People are cheering and the energy of the crowd is what's keeping you going. Finally, I see the huge American flag, signally the finish is only down the hill. I cross the line with a time of 1:07:44.

I didn't see Steve at the place where we agreed to meet. For a moment, I thought, could it be? Did I really beat him? But, further ahead, there was Steve with a big smile on his face. Both of us thought, at some point, we could do this race in under an hour. And, he did, with a time of 58:20. I give him all the credit in the world because he must have run the race of his life for a great time like that.

It is our custom that the loser buys a round at the British Beer Company, a local bar at the finish line (afterall, the race is a pub-to-pub run). With a run that Steve had, I was only to glad to buy him a beer for his efforts.

We went to Monument Beach afterwards and talked about the day's events and realized we did about a week's worth of activity in one weekend. I asked Steve what he thought the key to his victory was and he said it must be all the miles he was putting in. Steve is trying to do a sub-4 hour marathon and is currently doing 55 miles a week. Compare that to my 20+ miles a week, I think he might have something there. But, it is taking a toll on him and if he achieves his goal, he will back down his miles and, hopefully (for me, anyway) Falmouth will be a more competitive race next year. It gives me another year to think about it!

(Pictured below are Athens marathon silver medalist Meb Kflegzghi, 2007 Falmouth winner Catherine Ndereba with Meb, and the whole table)












(Note: If you want to see me finish the race, click on the following link: http://wbz.com/pages/790716.php





Under Categories, click on 'Second Wave' and enter 1:07:44 as the running time. I must warn you that, despite knowing what I look like, I haven't found me yet crossing the finish. I even tried 1:12:44 as we were 5 minutes after the elite runners. If you find me, let me know. I am wearing a blue hat, orange and white sleeveless shirt and black running shorts. I'm 6ft, 3 in so I would think it would be easy to spot me. I think I crossed the line in the middle of the course.

Next week, you can also listen to Steve's podcast about the race at http://www.steverunner.com/. As he is in Maine this week, he plans to post his show early part of the week of August 20.

I'm off to Cleveland next weekend for a wedding and then to Florida the following weekend to see my parents. At this writing, my next event will be the Philadelphia Distance Run in September (I have signed up) which is a half-marathon course. Still haven't signed up for any of the marathons but have given myself until mid-September to decide on one or two marathons. )

Monday, August 6, 2007

Falmouth Road Race (Pre-Race report)

When I lived in the Boston area from 1977-1988, there were two road races that the casual running fan in New England followed--the Boston Marathon, held each year on Patriot's Day in April and the Falmouth Road race, held on Cape Cod in August. Back then, I was more into softball and basketball and occasionally would run and train for a sporting event sponsored by the university. But still, Falmouth intrigued me as it had some of the greatest names of track and field participating. The Bill Rogers, Frank Shorters, Marty Liquoris, etc. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would ever participate in this race. And, yet, next Sunday, this will be my 5th time I had a chance to run the Falmouth Road Race.

I will post a link of the Falmouth Road Race in 'My favorites' section on the side. Please read about the history of the event. But, in short, in 1973, a bunch of guys were sitting around in a bar in Woods Hole, MA and wanted to celebrate Tommy Leonard's birthday (a bartender and running advocate) . So they decided to run to a bar called the British Beer Company that was located 7.1 miles away in Falmouth Heights, MA. And, thus the Falmouth Road Race began. What was once just a handful of people participating in that first race has now grown into a 10,000+ participant event with some of the most renowned world class runners. In fact, you can't just sign up for the race but need to enter a lottery to get in.

The Falmouth Race weekend has become somewhat of a guys weekend. My friend Steve was the first to talk me into going. I had just started running and to participate in this race was like entering a World Series game as a rookie. I had no idea of what the course was about and the thing I remember was that it was hot. Up to that point, 7 miles was the longest I ever ran so I was just glad I finished.

The following year, something changed in the guys weekend thing. You see, that year, I beat Steve in the race. I remember crossing the finish line and was surprised Steve wasn't there. About a half-hour later, I finally found him and he asked me what was my time. I will never forget the look on his face when he discovered that I beat him. That was a kin to the United States beating England in a World Cup match in the 1950's. It wasn't suppose to happen. But, it did.

Since then, the Falmouth Road Race has been hotly contested between the two of us. The third year, Steve did win by about 4 minutes. Last year was a doozy. Steve and I went back and forth for the first 3 miles. Then I went out in front and stayed there until the last hill (about 1/2 mile from the finish). I didn't know that Steve was on my shoulder. I thought I won the race going away. I made a bad tactical decision as I assumed I won the race and glided to the finish, happy in the knowledge that I was also going to set a PR! Imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish and there was Steve.

As I grow older, I realize these type of get togethers are things that get me through my life. It gives me an opportunity to look forward to something. And not just running the race, but getting together with a friend over a weekend. It adds memories to our lives. We talk about past races and 'trash' talk about who is going to win. All in good clean fun. Let the better man win this year!

(Update: Last week, I didn't have a chance to run as work got in the way. I did manage to run 10 miles around Lake Galena on Sunday, and did it fairly comfortably considering how warm it was. I seem to have gotten over my sinusitis episode and feel pretty good. I don't feel real confident going into the Falmouth Race as I haven't run any race since mid-June so I have nothing to gauge myself. If Sunday is hot, I have no shot. None. If it is overcast and mild, I might be able to pull an upset. It is a bit of a stretch but Steve has been concentrating on mileage and not speed, so I might be able to do what he did last year and tail him and pass him at the end. )

This will be a fun weekend. By the way, you can view the Falmouth Road Race on line. Read the following I received in an e-mail from the race directors.

Live Webcast: This year for the first time the CIGNA Falmouth Road Race will be webcast live in its entirety. This remote live stream will follow the lead runners and give you a bird's eye view of the race from start to finish. The webcast will be seen on www.wbz1030.com and is provided to you by WBZ Radio in Boston, the CIGNA Falmouth Road Race and Cape Cod E-Com of Yarmouth Port.