Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This is the Christmas card we sent out to all our friends and family. I thought it was a good idea to share with you as well. Thank you all for reading this blog. It has been an interesting year to write this blog as I have come to know and care about people whom I've never met yet know about their lives through their blogs. I have had a chance to meet new friends along the way and share in special moments with one's whom I've known for years.
There are two other things I would like to share with you. One, is a short video, that I may be doing from time to time, called, 'What are the dogs up to?'. I don't have children but I will say I have some 'parental' feelings for the dogs we have. No, I'm not trying to get them into Harvard but I do know the feeling of coming home from a bad day at the office and them putting a smile on my face from the joy they are having in life. Below is a clip of Ellie Mae having fun. I hope it puts a smile on your face as well.
Finally, I am a kid at heart. I remember all the corny Christmas specials and movies from my youth. But, there was one that wasn't so corny. At least, to me. There is a scene in 'A Charlie Brown's Christmas' where Linus explains the true meaning of the holiday. I wanted to share that with you as well. It doesn't matter your religion to understand the sentiment behind it. We can all pray and hope for peace on earth, goodwill to all.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and I hope you have a joyful and prosperous 2009! 2009 will be a special year for me. I hope to see you then.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Overall: I ran 14 races this year. Sometimes it's hard to look at yourself objectively but I think I had an off year this year. It has been mainly due to being injured more than I have been before. I was off my feet for about a month's time in June/July and am now nursing an unidentified ankle injury which I sustained in late October. I did well in the spring Bucks 5k Series and had a half-marathon PR in the Philadelphia Distance Run in September. My ability to run was too inconsistent to say I had a good year.
Best Race: It was not my fastest time. But, it was my best race all year. The Dead Harriers 5k in August. I didn't expect to run a race that day. But, it was a Wednesday and I had a bad day and I wanted to 'blow off some steam'. What better way than to run all out like a 5k? I started the race with Chief White. And, when it was all said and done, I had a 'one for the ages' race against him throughout the entire event. Back and forth. Strategy in play. In the end, it was as much a mental win as a physical one. We still talk about it when we see each other. By far, it was the best race I ran in for 2008.
Worse Race: Penn Relays Distance Classic 20k. As much as I liked the idea of still being part of the Penn Relays and doing a lap around the track of Franklin Field, I don't think I would do this race again. The field was too small to be enjoyable over a longer distance. Most of the race was on MLK and Kelly Drives, which I have run many times before in the Philadelphia marathon and Distance Run. I finished far back in the pack and yet had a time that would have been close to breaking a 2 hour half-marathon. I remember feeling very sluggish in this race. Not one of my better days.
Biggest surprise: I started doing a cross-training program in the beginning of the year. I was doing it to be a little stronger in case I did get a Boston marathon invite. I was doing some stretching, cardio, etc. exercises. Thirty minutes a day. Two-three times a week. After two weeks, I saw a vast improvement on my hill runs on Wednesday nights. I mean vast improvement. So much so that someone mentioned to me, months later, about how well I was running hills in the beginning of the year. I was surprised, after two weeks, I would see that much improvement. I was going to continue to do the training for Falmouth. But, Steve didn't get in and lost interest in continuing the improvement. I'm hoping next year to do it in 'spots' for upcoming races.
Proudest moment: I was not feeling well during the Philadelphia Distance Run. It was not a day to set any records. I wanted to finish around 2 hours and would have been satisfied in just doing that. I almost dropped out of the race. But, it was a day I convinced myself, that, if I keep moving my legs, good things will come. And, with less than 1/4 mile to go, I picked up the pace enough to set a PR for a half marathon distance. I was proud, in the fact, I have finally learned my lessons from the past. Don't just run a race. Finish a race.
Biggest disappointment: Looking back on my blogs for 2008, I wrote a lot about possibly getting in the Boston marathon this year. Though I was disappointed I didn't get an invite, in reality, I didn't deserve one so it was a short-term disappointment. One of my goals for 2008 was to break my 5k PR. All through the spring, I was knocking on the door. Central Bucks 5k was around 25 minutes. New Hope-Solebury was under 25 minutes. I was ready to breakthrough. Just looking for the race to do it in. I was not expecting to do it (or come close) in the Doylestown 'Red, White & Blue' 5k. I felt good that day. I pushed myself hard but, temporarily let up at the end, when I miscalculated what my potential finishing time could be. I shouldn't have let up at all. And, paid the price of not 'finishing' the race and missed my PR by 1 second. I still remember, crossing the finish line, convinced I had done it and then look down at my watch, only to realize how close I had come. Though it was a good effort, I was disappointed that I convinced myself I couldn't do it in the middle of a race.
Biggest thrill: Hawaii. In every way. Running on Waikiki Beach in the mornings. Running around Diamond Head with Frayed Laces and her boyfriend one afternoon. Taking surf lessons in Honolulu. Visiting the island of Kauai for the first time. Everyday, since I left, I think about some part of that trip. I hope it will not be another 20 years before I can visit again.
Scariest moment: Swimming in Kauai and stepping on an unidentified object. Having the foot doctor, weeks later, say, 'this could be serious'. I was scared. But, not as scared as your own father telling you he has cancer. That happened in August. And, you freeze. Not knowing how different your life might be from that moment on. Thankfully, my father has recovered and he is doing well. Well enough that he and my mother are able to travel and will visit during the Christmas holidays.
What I will remember most from this year: I challenge you to do this exercise. Write down what you think you will remember this year. Then, next year, look at it again and see if that's still the thing you remember most about that year. Last year, I said I will remember the Ocean City Half marathon the most because of the weather. This year, when I think of the half marathons I have run in my lifetime, I have to remember that I did run that race. It's not quite as important in memory as I thought it would be.
This year, I think, I will remember the Harrisburg marathon the most. Not because of my awful performance. But, because of friends who set PRs that day. And, the fun we had that weekend at the 'expo', the pasta dinner, the race itself (and my friends cheering me on at the end) and sitting around having breakfast at Perkins afterwards. There is a lot of joy of sharing moments with friends. It's something I come to appreciate more and more through the years.
(Notes: If you want to hear 'bad acting' (and who wouldn't!), take a listen to SteveRunner's Fdip episode 165. I have a small part in a skit that Steve performs. I have all the range of acting skills as a B-movie extra. Steve and the rest are great.
I go to the doctor today for my ankle. It has been bothering me since before the Harrisburg marathon so I guess it's time to find out what is really wrong with it. I'm anxious to get back running. I think it's when you can't is when you most want to.
Update on December 16, 2008--I had X-rays yesterday and it doesn't show a stress fracture (which was my biggest fear). I need to consult with my doctor on next steps. )
Update on December 19, 2008--I have Achillies and Peroneal tendonitis. So, no running for the next three weeks. I will need to go to physical therapy. I can cross train and play racquetball so will start doing that. If I'm not cured by the end of January, then it's the boot for me! (I will need to shut down everything and stabilize my foot/ankle. Also, found out that my right leg is a half inch shorter than my left. So, am I 6'3" or 6' 2 1/2"? I guess it depends on which way the winds blowing that day.)
Monday, December 8, 2008
I know you are busy this time of year but I wanted to give you my list of what I want for Christmas. I've been an awfully good boy this year. For instance, I had to listen all year to Kelly whining about hills. As you can imagine, Santa, that's not easy. Come to think of it, all of the Blue Dawg group had to listen to her whining. Maybe you should give them something special this year as well!
And, I was very patient with little StevieRunner as he complained about not getting his sub-4 hour marathon again. I know, Santa, this happens all the time. And, I'm sure I'm not the only one that has to go through this. But, please, Santa, could you find a way to make little StevieRunner run a marathon under 4 hours next year? Not as a present to him but as a present to the rest of us? I know there isn't a lot of talent to work with there but we can all hope for a Christmas miracle, can't we?
So, here are some of the things I want when you come to my house for Christmas:
DryMax socks--Santa, these are hard to find. They are my favorite running socks and the ones I have now are starting to fall apart. If you could give me a half dozen, that would be swell!
Garmin 405--I know my Garmin 201 works just fine but, I'm a boy and boys like new toys. I was good and didn't ask for a 205, 301, or 305. And, I don't necessarily need the heart-rate monitor. It just looks so much easier to run with! I have heard you need nimble hands to work the 405, but, honest, Santa, I'll be patient in playing with it.
A comfortable pair of running shoes--My Adrenaline GTS 5's are on their last legs. I have a pair of Adrenaline GTS 7's to replace them but I don't think they will be as comfortable as my 5's. Why, Santa, do shoe companies 'upgrade' running shoes every year? And, they never fit the same so I have to find another shoe to replace them? It would be great if you can get me a pair of running shoes that I know I can run a marathon in with no problems.
Triathalon gear--I know, Santa, this is a big surprise to you to see this on my list. And, I was going to wait until my New Year's resolution to announce this but, I think I want to do a triathalon in 2009. Not a great big one but a sprint. Chief convinced me I could do one and I heard there is a class forming in April so I won't be working out alone. And, he didn't even convince me after a few 'adult beverages'!!!! No, I'm hoping that 2009 is a special year for me, and I think I want to compete in a triathalon to see if I like it.
A new left Achillies tendon--I know this one isn't going to be easy for you to deliver. And, realistically, I should be asking the 'birthday boy' for this. But, if there is a way to get me a new one, that would be swell. I think the other one is getting kind of old and worn out. For the past few months, it's been nothing but trouble when I run on it. I thought I would rest it a bit after my last marathon. But, I went out last Saturday, and it was still hurting me. Make it stop hurting, Santa!!! It's ok to walk around with it. Maybe if I get those new comfortable running shoes, I won't need a new Achillies tendon afterall!!!!
The book Hello, Everybody! The Dawn of American Radio by Anthony Rudel--I've always been interested in radio, Santa, and this sounds like a fun book to read. I saw a review in Spirit magazine on a Southwest airline flight I took and they said it was really keen. Could you put this under the tree too?
Peace and happiness to all--This is a tough one, Santa, and one that you have been working on a lot. But, I have friends that didn't have a particularly good year in 2008. Could you make 2009 a better year for them?
Thank you, Santa, for all you do. I promise not to make a fire in the fireplace Christmas Eve so you'll be able to come down the chimney this year. And, I will leave out some cookies for you and some carrots for the reindeer. I can't leave them by the Christmas tree or else the dogs will eat them. So, they will be on the counter in the kitchen. I hope you have good weather the night before Christmas. I'll see you in the mall!!!
Your best buddy,
Monday, December 1, 2008
I woke up last Sunday morning. Not bright and early. I slept in. And, then, I had a cup of coffee. I not only had a cup of coffee, I enjoyed it. I sipped it. I relished the aroma and the flavor. So much did I enjoy the experience, I had a second cup of coffee. I didn't guzzle it to get out the door to go run.
With my cup of coffee, I read the paper. The ENTIRE Sunday newspaper. From beginning to end. I didn't just skim headlines. I read articles. I read the questions posed to Walter Scott in Parade magazine and read the answers. I leafed through the inserts to see what was on sale. I read the comics. And, sipped my coffee.
For the holidays, I ate. Boy, did I eat. And not a Powerbar in sight. Turkey. Potatoes. Stuffing. Pies. Cookies. And the leftovers for turkey, potatoes, stuffing, pies and cookies. And, I went back for more. Mmmmmmm!!!!!!
Some people say they get antsy if they don't run. I didn't. I'm beginning to feel the 'dark side' is taking over my soul. I know I didn't make a pact with the devil to say I would live this life if I ran a marathon under 5 hours. Because, if I did, he didn't deliver. So, it must be something else. Something I'm not seeing.
I believe this is only a temporary condition. I believe, as my pants get tighter, I will have a 'spiritual awakening' and see my 'evil ways' of the two of the seven deadly sins I am committing of gluttony and sloth. In the meantime, could you pass another slice of pie, please?
Monday, November 24, 2008
One early Sunday morning, this past summer, I decided to drive up to the Delaware River for a run. I began driving up the road and noticed there was some traffic congestion up ahead. An accident maybe? As I approached, it became clear what the problem was. There was a flock of wild turkeys crossing the road. Except they weren't crossing the road. They were hanging out in the middle of the street. Not moving. Just milling about. Blocking the road.
As I got closer, I saw a man from a pickup truck, that was coming towards me on the opposite side of the road, get out and start to 'convince' the turkeys to go back to whence they came. The turkeys were gobbling away but eventually got off the road. As the man turned away to get back into the pickup truck, it was as if the turkeys decided they weren't going to be pushed around by some guy in a pickup truck. So, they followed the man back into his pickup truck and proceeded to block the road again.
The man got out, once more, convinced the turkeys didn't 'fully' understand the situation they were causing and 'convinced' them to go further away from the road. But, this only made the turkeys more mad.
As the man headed back to his truck, not only had the turkeys stepped back into the road, but they began to surround the man's pickup. There were turkeys to the left of the pickup, to the right, and blocking the vehicle in front. The man rolled down in his window and began to yell at the turkeys. And, the ' head' turkey began to gobble back. So, there it was, a man in a pickup yelling out the window to a turkey and the turkey talking smack back at him.
By this time, I was catty-corner to the pickup and saw the whole scene unfold. I was laughing so hard and began to go past the truck. Until two turkeys stepped in front of my car, as if to say, 'Where do you think you're going, buster? We're not through with you yet'. I tried to turn my wheel right to pass them but, everytime I moved more right, they ran in front of my car.
About a minute later, they must have been tired of playing games with me and they let me through. Not so with the pickup. By this time, the traffic on the other side was about 10 cars deep with no one able to move because of the turkeys on the road. As I pulled away, thankful that the turkey gang allowed me to pass, I looked in the rearview mirror thinking, 'I hope this resolves quickly.' I was imagining, on my return trip, what could happen. The man in the pickup was tired of talking to these turkeys and just plow through. The turkeys, not happy about the death of some of their comrades. tip the pickup over and fighting ensues. Blood everywhere, bodies on the side, a crashed pickup, all due to some stupid machoism displayed by man and turkey. It didn't have to come to that.
I'm glad to report that the scenario didn't play out. There were no turkey roadkill where the incident happen. There wasn't a crashed pickup. Oh sure, maybe, they settled their differences elsewhere and by some other means. Or maybe cooler heads prevailed. Or maybe the turkeys just had enough of dissin' the driver and crossed the road. It could have been ugly.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!
(Note: Congratulations to all the runners of the Philadelphia marathon yesterday. I am SO glad I didn't run it this year as the temperature at the start of the race was in the mid-20's F and I don't think it got much higher).
Update on this story: There was an article on boston.com on March 3, 2009 of turkeys harrassing commuters. Seems that the turkeys are muscling in the Northeast of the US. http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/03/testy_turkeys_o.html
Friday, November 14, 2008
Last February, as I was waiting for the Frostbite 5 miler in Ambler, PA to start, a van pulled up in front of me that unloaded a bunch of runners. I noticed that these runners were a bit 'different' from your typical suburban runners. I don't mean different in a bad way and I don't mean different in skin color. But, I could tell these runners 'weren't from around here' either. And, during a race, it doesn't matter who is different from whom but, ultimately, who is faster. This was my first encounter of the 'Back on My Feet' program.
'Back on My Feet' is a local running program, started by Anne Mahlum, which helps the homeless. But, it's not a program that hands out money, food, or shelter. Instead, it gives the homeless something which is not so tangible yet almost equally important--pride and dignity.
In my opinion, everyone of us could possibly find ourselves in a similar position. The difference may not be just the fortitude of overcoming obstacles that have been thrown our way but also the strong support systems we have such as family, friends, faith, etc. Think about how lucky each one of us are to have that. Then, think about the people who aren't so lucky and, in some ways, have given up hope.
Each of us have our own reasons for running. The one thing I'm sure we agree on is the sense of pride we feel after we've done our first 5k, 10k, half, etc. Do you remember what that felt like? And, from that pride, did it carry over into your life? Did it give you confidence to try other distances in racing or other things in your life that you didn't think you could do before? Well, that is what the 'Back on My Feet' program is all about. It's giving a chance to take pride in something so they can carry it over into their everyday lives.
I would like a favor of you who are reading this. Anne Mahlum has been nominated as a 2008 CNN Person of the Year. Please vote for her if you think she is a worthy candidate. There is a link below that tells Anne's whole story and the opportunity to vote for her (there is also a link to a video). All those who have been nominated are worthy, but, Anne's story touches all of us who are fellow runners. And, how many of us, after reading her story didn't say, 'Wow, why didn't I think of that?"
Here's the favor. I have a small number of regular readers to this blog. (Which, I thank you for being there). So, I was wondering if you could pass the word in your blogs or forward the information to others? In that way, other people will read it and post on their blogs and so forth and on and on and on. Ultimately, it would be nice to let the world know what we already know--the importance of the physical and spiritual nature of what running can be in our lives. Anne has found a key to unlock the human potential where others have failed. I applauded her for her efforts and I hope she gets the recognition she deserves.
(For full disclosure, I do not personally know Anne but, as stated, have seen her with the 'Back on My Feet' runners at the Frostbite 5 miler. Her work has been featured throughout the summer on local stations. Here is link to the website. http://backonmyfeet.org/main/index.html )
Link to the Video:
Monday, November 10, 2008
(Kelly and Melissa holding me up after the Harrisburg marathon)
First of all, I want to thank all that wished me luck before the race. I am always grateful of people, who only know me through this blog, who still take the time to think about me and wish me good fortune.
Highlights of the race:
- The Radisson Penn Harris Hotel, which was the host hotel for the event. The expo was right across the driveway. The pasta dinner was about 10 yards from my room. Good food as well. (The people we met at our table were very friendly.) The shuttle was right outside the lobby which took us to the start and back from the finish. And, we had a late checkout so we could shower after the race. They did an excellent job overall.
- The event was very well coordinated, and on a brisk, windy day, the volunteers out on the course, were cheerful and supportive even for us back of the packers.
- The day was beautiful. Could not ask for a better temperature to run a race.
- Parts of the course ran along the Susquehanna River, which overlooked fall foliage in the distance, and we ran past the Governor's Mansion and other historic sites.
- It was the best I've felt after a marathon. My cardio was fine. I usually feel sick but felt fine afterwards. Probably due to the temperature.
- The price. $45 entry fee. And the pullover jacket that was given to all participants.
- The start/finish line. It was right next to where the Harrisburg Senators (minor affliate of the Washington Nationals) play.
- Nobody was wrong and everyone was right on what to wear. I opted for short-sleeved shirt and shorts but started with a long-sleeved shirt on top. I carried that and wore it off and on for 15 miles before ditching it. I was a bit chilled at the end.
Lowlights of the race:
- It was VERY windy after mile six. The Susquehanna River was beautiful but ran into a headwind for about 4 miles.
- We ran through an industrial park which was kind of bland. On a hot day, that area would have been a killer.
- Miles 17 through 19 which was through a wooded area and loaded with hills.
- My left ankle. It felt better than previous weeks but still was sore to run on.
- Cramps in my calfs and thighs. It hit me at mile 21 and I could only run as far as the cramping would take me.
This was the perfect race for me this year. It was a low-key event that felt like a 5k. And it felt there was a 2:1 ratio of volunteers to runners. The people there were tremendous and I can't thank the Harrisburg people enough for their goodwill.
I thought about running with Kelly until she told me her plans to run a 4:10 marathon. Yikes!!! And, after the first 5 minutes, I knew my ankle was going to remain sore for the race. So, I ran/walk the course. I ran the first half in about 2:27. I was on pace until I hit the hills. Trying to run up hills was an impossibility as my ankle was screaming at that point. And, then at mile 21, my legs were cramping up, probably due to the wind off the river.
At the end there were about 6 of us pushing each other along. At mile 25, Melissa, Kelly and Garth, started to cheer me up on the bridge I had to get up to and cross. What a lift that was!!!
This was the 36th running of this event. We were surprised because of the small number of participants in comparison to Marine Corps, Philadelphia and others. But, in speaking with people there, that was precisely the reason they entered. The 10,000+ participant-marthons can be overwhelming. This was not. I would recommend it to anyone.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
And, if you think of it, everything you do is a project. Don't think so? Going to the grocery store is a project, you just don't give it much thought that it is. There are a set of tasks that you must do in order to meet your objective. The tasks could be as simple as get the keys, bring the wallet, drive the car, park the car, get a shopping cart, etc. Again, you probably don't think of it as a project but, at the end, success is probably defined as having enough food and things in the house that will get you through the week.
So, this weekend, for me, is project Harrisburg marathon. And, how am I defining success? Easy, right? Break my PR. Except I can tell you I didn't follow a training schedule close enough that I would feel comfortable to say I have a shot at breaking a PR. Would it be nice? Absolutely. But, I can tell you that I currently am dealing with an inflamed Achilles tendon and some other nagging pains going into this race.
Well, that's the wrong attitude to take into this race, mister. Ahh! But there are some positives I am taking into Harrisburg. I can tell you, in each of the four past marathons I have done, I was intimidated, not only doing the 26.2 miles, but the long runs leading up to it. But, for this race, I didn't feel that type of pressure. You would think I would considering there are only 620+ people in the race. Yikes!!! (If you look for me in the results, start from the bottom up. It will be easier.)
This feels like such a laid-back event that I am looking at it as just another long run and not a race. The fact that friends are doing the race with me helps in that mindset.
Plus, and this is where success is starting to get defined by me, I am changing some of the things I do leading up to the race. I've hit the wall, big time, in each of the marathons I have done. I don't think it's all conditioning. I think it's part nutrition and part hydration. So, this week, I am carbo-loading more than usual and I'm drinking two bottles of water everyday leading up to the weekend. And, I'm also planning on bringing a Powerbar with me in the race. I haven't done this previously. I drank a lot of water a day or two before and used gels during the race. I will tell you honestly that I have been plagued by constant bathroom breaks at first few miles of each marathon I have done.
The one thing I am unsure of is whether I am doing Galloway run/walk or try to run the whole thing. I have trained for Galloway but, I've had some good runs in the past few weeks that I am thinking about ditching that. Scary? You betcha!!! As part of my mental approach of a dealing with the enormity of a project marathon is to break it down into smaller increments and don't look at it as a whole. For instance, when I run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute, I look at as only running 5 minutes at a time. Not running 5 hours!!!! It helps me not get overwhelmed.
So, what will I consider a successful project Harrisburg marathon? First, have fun with my friends. If nothing else, enjoy the time and stories that we will have for this race. Second, to finish the race. I didn't train for nothing, you know!!!! If I break 5 hours, all the better. Third, see if, or when, I bonk. One marathon, it was as early as 17 miles. Last year, it was at 20 miles. Can I get past that point? If I do, then I am heading in the right direction. And, lastly, see if I can reduce the number of bathroom breaks (hey, I aim low when it comes to expectations. Some people what to BQ. I want to reduce bathroom breaks. Everyone has goals.)
I truly am looking forward to this marathon. It will be such a departure from Philadelphia, Marine Corps and Disney. Just me and 600 of my friends going out for a little run on a beautiful Sunday fall morning in central Pennsylvania. Indeed.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
- Jimmy Carter was President of the United States
- Walter Mondale was Vice President of the United States
- Median Household Income was $17,710.00
- The cost of a first class stamp was $0.15
- Cost for a gallon of regular gas was $1.25
- Ted Turner had just started a television network called CNN
- The Dow Jones had a high of 1000 and a low of 759 that year
- John Lennon was coming out with his 'Double Fantasy' album
- Genuine Risk wins the Kentucky Derby that year
- The Empire Strikes Back is the top grossing film
- U.S. viewers get caught up in the "Who Shot J.R.?" cliff hanger on the soap opera series, Dallas
- Christina Ricci, Chelsea Clinton, Venus Williams, Jessica Simpson, Macaulay Culkin, and Jake Gyllenhaal are born
- And, I was a senior at Boston University sitting in the living room of a house that I shared with five guys in Brighton, MA.
That was the last time the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. The time before that? Well, there was no time before that. That was the first time they had won the World Series. And, last night, they won it again.
Back in 1980, I was very excited but I was out of town when it happened. It was like someone describing a great party they attended with all your friends but you couldn't make it because you had to work. Not this year. Even my wife, who doesn't know a curveball from a changeup, was getting into it and high-fiving me when Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske at the end. Fireworks going off in the neighborhood. Cars honking their horns. Everyone at work happy this morning.
I hope to go to part of the parade tomorrow. I plan on taking some pictures and I will post afterwards. Why? Because the Philadelphia Phillies are the champions of baseball today!!!!!
Monday, October 27, 2008
In June, when I ran with Frayed Laces in Hawaii, I mentioned my idea to see if she what she thought. She loved the idea and wrote about it in her September 24th blog entry. I also mention it in the Phedippidations Discussion Board Forum Thing over the summer. Everyone who wrote in seemed to think it was a great idea. But, how to manage it?
I immediately went into project management mode think. We set up a separate area in the forum and people can post there if they want to exchange a shirt. If you have a taker, find out what shirt size the person wants, exchange e-mail (and mail addresses). The person who sends out is responsible for postage. On and on and on.
But, from the September 24th blog entry of Frayed Laces, someone stepped forward and said, 'I'll exchange a race shirt with you'. I want to report that the idea I had back in the spring has come to fruition. Big from, Big's Running Blog, sent me a great technical T from the Capital City River Run Half marathon and 5k. And, just this past week, I sent Big my shirt I received in the 'Run for Your Neighbor' 5k I recently did in Harleysville, PA. I want to thank Big for this great shirt.
Of course, as usually happens in my life, my timing isn't the greatest. Because here I would say, 'and if anyone else wants to exchange shirts, please let me know.' Which I would like to do. Except I only have one more race this year. The Harrisburg marathon. And, no one is touching that one. (If you really want a shirt from there, I will purchase one on your behalf and can send to you. Send me the money after you've received the shirt.) So, when the spring comes, I will re-visit this idea and see if there are any takers then. In the meantime, don't let me stop you from finding others to swap with you. Use SteveRunner's forum if you would like to find someone to swap a shirt with you.
My 20 miler. In my line of work, we have things called 'pilots' before we send things into production. Pilots are tests meant to see what could go wrong with an idea before you start producing it for real. Well, my 20 miler that I run before a marathon is my pilot. To me, it simulates my marathon and I use it to test things out first. I have to say, it is a good thing I do this. Because my 20 miler yesterday didn't go exactly as planned.
First, in looking at my marathon schedule, I should have done my 20 miler LAST week. (I was wondering why Kelly and Melissa weren't running theirs this week). Normally, I dread the 20 miler. But, this year, I had the mindset of just going out there and doing it. I had packed the Friday before. Charge the garmin. Gels. Powerbars. Drinks. Change of shirts. Race wear. Everything set.
I get to the lake around 9a. (The Phillies game was rain delayed and I stayed up until midnight though the game ended around 2a). I see Melissa, and we exchange hellos, as she is finishing up her 12 miler.
So, I start. And, my left ankle hurts. With every step. OK. I just need to warm up. And, now my Achilles is hurting. It feels like it needs to be stretched a bit. So, I stretch. Nothing. I run a half mile and the pain is not going away. At this point, I'm at one of those crossroads moments in life, 'do I stop and rest it or do the 20 miler and risk injury?' I HAVE to do this 20 miles. So, I press on.
The 'run a mile, walk a bit' thing isn't working out right. I have to stop more often because of my ankle. And, I forgot to put on body glide. And, I'm feeling the affects of that decision. I wished there was someone to take a video. I want to show the world how NOT to train for a marathon. I can only imagine what I looked like adjusting my shorts and favoring my right leg as I run.
I made it a point to wear my race-ready shorts. With the pockets. For my gels. You know, the gels I left in my car.
I do manage to finish the 20 miler. Chafing. Ankle swollen. Hungry. Thirsty. Yep, I'm ready for that ol' marathon in two weeks. There is going to be approximately 800 runners in this marathon. Usually, I like to be in the top 50% of the finishers in any race. I'll take top 90% for this race.
A little late with this joke--Back in August, I posted a blog entry talking about a race I ran against Police chief White. As I was running this weekend, I realized the Clash did a song in which the lyrics would have been perfect for that entry. As mentioned previously, my timing could use a little work. Anyway, here are the lyrics:
Monday, October 20, 2008
On October 13, 2008, I was tagged. Tagged by Karen, of the fantastic blog, Mom on the Run (http://momrun.blogspot.com/. Hey, how come I was only number 3? :-) By the way, Karen, congratulations on finishing the Grand Rapids marathon this past weekend. Can't wait to read the full report.)
So, I'm suppose to write six facts about myself. I was tagged previously and thought I had to answer specific questions. (Are there 'tag' rules out there in cyberspace?) I can't say I'm the most interesting person out there (ok, that doesn't count as a fact. Merely an opinion of myself.) Here goes:
1. I have a slight allergy to dogs and cats. I have four dogs and 1 cat. As far as I know, I don't have any allergies to kids. I don't have any of those. My four dogs' names are Einstein, Dillon, Emmett, and Ellie Mae. My cat's name is Fiona. Einstein is a bichon frise whom we got from the local SPCA. Dillon is our Hurricane Katrina rescue. There were groups that went down to the animal shelters in Louisiana after the hurricane to take as many dogs as possible off their hands. We picked Dillon up in West Virginia from one of these groups. When we took him home, he didn't wimper. Didn't make a noise. We thought there was something wrong with him. Turns out, that's his personality. The most laid-back dog you will ever see. Emmett and Ellie Mae are Havanese and are our show dogs. Emmett is a retired champion (even has the little potbelly going to 'prove' he's retired.) Ellie Mae is our up-and-comer. Fiona is a Snowshoe whom we had since 1993. Since we are not parents, we try to focus our attention to animal rescue groups and donate our hearts and time to those causes.
2. I had dinner with Larry Bird. I can't remember what year it was (1986?), I was the backup radio engineer for Boston Celtics broadcasts when Steve (Runner) and I worked in radio. I did this in case anything happened to the regular engineer and he couldn't make it. So, I was sent on the road to Washington, DC. (There is a separate story, that I will tell someday, about what happened during the game and the 'life lesson' I learned). After the game and back at the hotel, I was invited by Coach K.C. Jones to have dinner with the entire Celtics team. I couldn't believe it! The team was already there as I walked into the room. They sat me down right across from Larry Bird! Larry was there with a friend of his who was a WWF wrestler (whose name I can't recall). Larry did talk to me occassionally but I was speechless. I didn't know what to say to him. Unfortunately, my backup engineer gig didn't last long and I never had that opportunity again. (There is also a Danny Ainge story here as well that I will have to tell later.)
3. I can't point my toes. Doctors are always surprised when I point (pardon the pun) this out. As near as anyone can tell, I am missing something in my ankles that allows people to point their toes. The best way to describe how I run is, imagine someone running with flippers on. That's the extent of my flexibility. Considering I have size 12 shoes, it is not a far off comparison.
4. I am a shy person. Some may dispute this, but, I consider myself a shy person. I like to fade in the background in gatherings. I don't like to speak in front of groups even though my job requires it. When I go on business trips, I have no problems eating alone. I don't take compliments well and am very embarrassed when someone does compliment me. I grew up where 'good-natured ribbing' was how we communicated.
5. I LOVE to laugh. I sometimes come across as not a serious-minded person. That's because I try to find laughter in most situations. I have been described as having a 'dry' sense of humor. I had a boss from the UK who once told me he was impressed that I was able to make British people laugh. He said it wasn't always easy for Americans to do that. I am the wise-guy in the room with the quip. It's how I try to break up the tension in the room sometimes. But, I have to be REALLY comfortable in order for people to see that side of me.
6. I went through 'Checkpoint Charlie.' After I graduated college, I saved up enough money to take a bus tour through Europe. I went to many of the capitals in Western Europe including Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Berlin. Back then, it was West Berlin and East Berlin. Part of the tour was going into East Berlin. We stopped at a park to see a Russian monument dedicated to those who lost their lives in World War II. When we got back to the bus, our bus driver was screaming and yelling as someone had just pointed a rifle at the bus drivers lined up in the park while we were gone. From everywhere, the Eastern German secret police (Stasi) showed up. They detained us for about an hour. We had no idea what was going on at the time and were thankful that we got back through 'Checkpoint Charlie' without any further incidents.
OK, except for the 'pointing of toes' one, that had little to do with running. Oh, well.
(Notes: THE PHILLIES ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!! YAHOO!!!!!! I am scheduled to do a 20 miler this weekend in preparation for the Harrisburg marathon. I ran a 10 miler this past weekend and felt great. It was suppose to be a long slow run but wound up doing a 9:30/mile pace, which is flying for me. Must have been the weather. Congratulations to Steve (Runner) for his efforts in the Bay State marathon this weekend. I know he was hurting a bit. (from the marathon and I guess from the Sox loss). Rest up a bit, Steve.
I'm adding this article I read that was posted on sfgate.com. This past weekend, San Francisco hosted the Nike Women's marathon. The 'elite' runners had a 20 minute headstart. But, a woman from the 'non-elite' pack had the fastest time for the race. And, didn't win. Because she didn't think she was an 'elite' runner. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/21/BAUC13L3GQ.DTL
I always wondered what would happen if someone had a faster chip time than the first person who crossed the finish line. Answer: Tough luck.
October 22, 2008 Update from story mentioned above: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/22/BACI13MAIT.DTL&tsp=1
It's an interesting debate on whether we need to start recognizing chip time as the official time or at least have separate awards for gun and chip times )
Monday, October 13, 2008
I want to thank those that have sent me suggestions on what to do about woodpeckers. As you can see by the picture on the right, I am under attack. I have lived in this house for over two years and this is the second year in a row that I have problems with woodpeckers. I have since found out that woodpeckers are migratory birds and, apparently, my house is nice and tasty. Sort of like a Shoney's Big Boy. For woodpeckers.
Monday, October 6, 2008
I don't travel for business that often. When I do, it usually comes in clusters like it did last week. I also had two personal functions (one in Long Island, NY and the other in Boston, MA) bookending my business travel to North Carolina.
Actually, I don't mind travelling for business once in awhile. It gives me a chance to get 'out of the office' for a time. See new things. See different people. And, in a lot of cases, face-to-face meetings are more effective than teleconference calls. Believe me, there have been times that we were able to accomplish in two days something we couldn't in two months because we were all in the same room.
The other nice thing is getting out and running some place different. Doesn't always happen like the beginning of last week when I had my first trip to North Carolina. But, my schedule was a little more flexible the second trip down, so had a chance to get some miles in. I have given up the thought of doing a scheduled training run for marathon prep. I get in what I can and just have fun(?) running the race.
Below is a breakdown of my week on the road:
Sunday--Scheduled to fly down to Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina at 5:30p. Because of stormy weather, actually didn't take off until 8p. Landed around 9:15p and got to the hotel around 9:45p. I was suppose meet up with my boss to get something to eat when I got there. But, instead, ate at Philadelphia airport before getting on the plane. I paid for the dinner with my business credit card. Waitress gave me the card back with the top corner (where the metal strip is) torn. Great. All transactions, for the trip, will need to be entered manually.
Monday--Early morning rise with meeting after meeting. Went out, that night, with people from work. Probably the most normal day of the week.
Tuesday--Busy all day with meetings once again. Scheduled to fly home on the 6p flight to Philadelphia. My boss is to fly back to Philadelphia on a different airline but we meet up in the same terminal. I get there around 4p and check my flight. There is a 4:30p flight to Philadelphia boarding. Wow!! I ask the person behind the ticket counter if there are any more seats available for the flight. She said, 'yes, would I like to change my flight?.' I promptly do so and run back to my boss to say good-bye. After telling him the news about my luck, he asks, 'what about your luggage?' Oh. I didn't think of that. I go back to the ticket counter and ask will my luggage follow? No. Damn. Ok, can you change me back to the 6p? Which she does. I have dinner with my boss and we part ways. I get off my flight and wait for my bags at the luggage carousel. And wait. And wait. No bags. Frustrated and tired, I go to the luggage counter and am ready to lay into them when, I see my bag. Just sitting there. Off to the side. Seems my luggage made the 4:30p afterall.
Wednesday--First time I had a chance to run since PDR. I have to go to pick up some meds for one of my dogs so decided, instead of Lake Galena, I would do the 7 mile loop up on the Delaware River. When I get there, it starts to rain. Usually, I don't like running in the rain but I didn't care. I HAD to get out there because I don't think my legs know how to run anymore. I had a lot of energy so probably pushed harder than I should have. No matter. It felt great and the rain held off through most of the run.
Thursday--Back to Raleigh/Durham, NC again. Got a 3:50p flight and everything was on time. I got to the hotel around 6p and ran in Research Triangle Park. I've been told that RTP is a town in North Carolina. Many businesses have campuses there. And, they have a nice jogging trail throughout the area. It's close to the hotel so I venture out there. I park off Cornwallis Road and do most of the run on Alexander Parkway. Running this path was like running on solid waves. There were no hills just constantly 'bumps' on the path that you can feel in the legs after awhile. I was planning on doing 5 miles but, got back to where I parked my car and decided to do one more. So, totaled six for the run.
Friday--Rather than going back to Philadelphia, I decided to stay an extra day in North Carolina and fly up to New England for a reunion with people from a radio station I worked at (about 20 years ago) that was being held on Saturday. Work was done so went out to find another place to run. I went back to the hotel and they suggested 'Al Buehler Cross Country Trail' on the Duke University campus in Duke Forest. (see plaque below)
After the run, I had a chance to walk around the campus of Duke University. I went to the athletic fields and found one of the meccas of college basketball, Cameron Indoor Stadium. (pictured below is an outside shot of the arena and an indoor shot). I snuck in and found that the stadium was set up for a women's volleyball game between North Carolina and Duke. I stuck around for awhile to watch them practice and to just drink in the setting of where I was. This is one of the places you want to visit if you are fan of college basketball.
I went outside of the arena and walked around the Duke University stadium where they hold their football games and track meets. (see below)
I am glad I went to school in Boston but, if I ever had a second life, Duke would be a place to consider. Just a beautiful campus.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Since PDR, I have not run one day. Nothing. Maybe a brisk walk to the car in the driveway. But, that's about it. You see, my boss at work doesn't work in the same location as me. As a matter of fact, isn't even in the same country as me. Last week, he was in town. And, we had to catch up on projects that I am doing. When that happens, my schedule gets thrown out the window.
So, you are saying, that was last week. Your excuse this week?
Here is my schedule since last Saturday:
Saturday--started in PA, went to Long Island, NY all day, back to PA by 12:30a
Sunday--started in PA, flew (with 2 hour delay) to NC
Monday--all day in North Carolina
Tuesday--started in NC, flew back to PA
Wednesday (today)--all day in PA
Thursday--starting in PA, flying to NC
Friday--all day in NC
Saturday--starting in NC, flying to Massachusetts (Providence, RI to be exact)
Sunday--starting in MA, flying to PA
(And, I'm not even in sales!)
Somewhere, somewhere, I need to get some running in. Afterall, I have a marathon in, oh, 1 MONTH!!!!!!
Here is my plan this week (I'm not saying it's a good one, it's just a plan). I'll be running today and then the next two days in North Carolina. That's it. The whole plan. If we invaded Iraq with that plan, we might be stuck there for a few years (Wait a minute? Aren't we stuck...?).
I'm hoping to get back to a better work/life balance by next week. I have as much chance of doing that as the Dow falling 700 points in a single day. (Wait a minute? Didn't the Dow fall...?)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The forecast for the day was warm temps. But, that was more in the afternoon. During the race, it was predicted to be in the 60s. When I was driving down, the thermometer in my car was reading in the upper 40s (F) for an outside temperature. I knew I would regret it but I abandoned my singlet for a short-sleeve shirt. I also abandoned wearing a baseball cap I got from the Falmouth Road Race. It's a great cap with a sweatband built inside but, when I went to put it on, it was giving me a headache.
When I got to the Art Museum, I had planned to meet up with people who I knew. But, with 35 minutes to race time, I decided I really needed to get in the potty line as they were starting to get longer. As it turned out, good decision on my part as I had 5 minutes to spare before the start of the race. As I stood in my corral, waiting for the start, I felt as comfortable as I ever have been at a start of a race like this.
The first mile of the race takes you down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the Art Museum into Center City Philadelphia (the picture directly below is a shot of BFP but looking at the Art Museum. The one below that is from Corral 7 at the start of the race).
(Picture directly below is the crowd of runners after the finish of the race)
Friday, September 12, 2008
There is an interesting article in the October 2008 edition of Runner's World. (see link below)
The article talks about the 'science of pacing'. and the fact that, you can train your legs and respitory system, but, with apologies to Bruce Springsteen, 'it's not your lungs this time, it's your heart that holds your fate'.
As I say in the 'About Me' section of this blog, I was a sprinter growing up. 100 and 220 yards. Everything beyond that, was long distance. You gave everything you got in those races. You don't have time to internally check 'how you feel'. You did that after it was over and you were gasping for breath. You didn't have time to think, just do.
Then, in high school, they threw me in a 440. I didn't know how to run it so went out as fast as I could. And died at the end. That was it. I didn't want to do it anymore. So, I walked away from it. It was because, suddenly, I was put in a position that I had to 'think' out there on the track, something I wasn't accustomed to doing.
Fast-forward some 25+ years later, and my first 5k. Now, remember, I have a sprinter's mentality. And, off I went going as fast as I could. I still maintain that most people's best times are one of their FIRST 5ks. Because, most people probably do what I did and go all out. And, experience the pain in doing so. But, your mind remembers all those horrible details and what it feels like. So, you wind up racing and training in 'comfort zones'.
As the article states: 'Perfecting your pacing--trying to run a certain distance in the shortest amount of time possible without falling apart--is a tricky art. That's because even when we watch the clock, we run largely by feel: We decide whether to speed up, slow down, or hold steady based on how much discomfort we think we can handle.' (Fellow Lake Galena runners: how many times have you eased up to save your energy going up the hill past the Nature Center? C'mon. Admit it. We anticipate we need to save that energy.)
I have yet to master this tricky art. There have been many races that I have run based on the splits on my watch and not on how I feel. I should be running this first mile at this time. And, I panic when I'm out too fast and slow down. Because, I'm afraid, I will have my own personal 'energy crisis' at the end of the race. So, I find a comfort zone that I stay in because I'm safe in this place. I will be the first to admit that I am not a confident runner.
But, it has gotten better over the years. I have learn from my mistakes. I have gotten more confident in the longer distances. I have learned that, if I'm ever going to set a new PR in the 5k, I will have to take a leap of faith and step out from that comfort zone and push myself just a little bit harder. I know physically I could do it, but convincing my mind that is a whole different challenge.
The best example, for me, is the Doylestown 5k I did over Memorial Day weekend. I remember, running the last mile in a comfort zone and telling myself that there was no reason not to push harder. So, I did. Only to convince myself that I was foolish in doing so. So, I let up a bit. Only to convince myself again that a PR was in grasp if I finished strong. And, missed it by 1 second. (Note: Yes, arguing with myself during a race may seem peculiar but, safe to say, it was only with myself. Better to do that then with, say, a dog standing on the sideline!)
So, I encourage you to read this article. And, join me coming out of the comfort zone closet. Mind over matter. Stay focus. It's a matter of trust. We can do it!!!! Can't we?
(Notes: This Sunday, September 21, 2008, I will be running the Philadelphia Distance Run (half-marathon). Forecast is for the day to be in the 70s (F) with partly cloudy skies. I intend to make PDR as part of my scheduled 16 miler for that day. Problem is I have committments for the two weekends after that so I would be behind training if I don't do it this way. Maybe not the smartest idea but why waste 13 miles if I don't have to?
I did 8 miles yesterday around Lake Galena as part of my tapering efforts and felt good despite the hot and humid weather around here. It was 1 degree shy of beating the record for high temps for that day.
Congratulations to my Hawaiian running buddy and fellow blogger, Frayed Laces, http://frayedlaces.blogspot.com/, as she finished third in her division at the Maui marathon.
RIP--Jerry Reed, who, along with the Flip Wilson, made the phrase, 'When you're hot, you're hot!' so popular in the early 1970's.
Monday, September 8, 2008
When you are sitting there waiting to start a teleconference, you start to engage in small talk. The woman waiting on the call with me said, 'Did you hear a plane crashed into the World Trade Center?' Thinking that it was a just a small plane, I said, 'No, that's too bad' and continued to wait for the other to join the call. Neither one of us, at the moment, understood how the world's day was unfolding.
The third person got on the call. 'Did you hear about the World Trade Center?' 'Yes,' I replied, 'a plane hit it.' 'No', he said, 'two planes hit them!' What? We immediately ended the call to try to find out more.
Someone came in my office afterwards. 'Did you hear a plane hit the Pentagon?' 'No', I said, 'it was the World Trade Center'. 'A plane hit the World Trade Center, too?!!' None of it made sense. What was going on? We turned on the television and saw visions of the World Trade Center going up in smoke. The person next to me said, 'My God, my parents were going to go up to the skydeck there this afternoon.'
I called my wife. She worked near Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Speculation was that would be one of the targets. I told her to get out but she said she couldn't as they were closing public transportation down. Someone came into my office. 'A plane just crashed near Pittsburgh!' Pittsburgh? Why Pittsburgh? Rumors were swirling that they were going to hit major cities in the US in different time zones when people were starting their day. We were all stunned. We couldn't stop watching the coverage on television. We thought we were watching a movie as we saw the World Trade Center crumble. It can't be? How was this possible?
It wasn't until days later did we find out what happened near Pittsburgh. I worried as I have family out there. You began to hear the stories about United Flight 93. The cell phone calls made during the flight. The people in the plane finding out what happened in Manhattan. The calls to say good-bye to loved ones as they became aware of their fate. And, how the passengers took on the terrorists themselves with the words, 'Let's Roll!'. How many lives did they save that day with their brave act? How many of us could have done that without freezing in our tracks?
When I went out to my uncle's funeral, about a month ago, I stopped by the Flight 93 memorial to pay my respects. Below are some pictures I took while I was there. It is already a national park site. There is a temporary memorial until the permanent one can be built. (Here is a link to find out more about the park and how to donate to build a more permanent memorial. http://www.nps.gov/flni.) When I spoke with the park ranger there, he said the memorial will be similar to the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC. There will be a path, to the memorial, which was the original flight path leading up to the crash. (Please don't listen to the people that talk about how the crescent shape is a symbol of Islam. If you ever visited the area, it would never occur to you. It is only certain people stirring up something that's not there.) They hope to have the first phase completed in time to dedicate it in September, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the event.
The best way to describe the area around the park is, if you ever visited a Civil War battlefield, it has the same feel. There are only a few houses surrounding the area. The crash site is in the middle of a field surrounded by rolling hills. You can't believe it crashed at the spot that it did. How was it possible that it crashed at such a remote site? And the countless lives that were saved because of it?
Running in Bucks County, you will see park benches and small memorials dedicated to people who lost their lives that day. You see, Bucks County, PA is close enough to New York City to commute. When I run past a memorial that I hadn't seen before, I stop and think about the events that day. And, yet, I find it hard to watch movies about September 11th. My wife has seen the movie Flight 93 but I can't. I don't want to relive that day. And, yet, I want to honor the people that lost their lives. I will never forget.
(The pictures below are of the temporary memorial and the field of the crash. The dot in the middle of the field is an American flag where the crash occurred.)