Tuesday, November 27, 2007
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
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
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
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: