Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Waiting is the hardest part

I really was hoping I didn't have to write this blog entry. In fact, I am sure I will get little sympathy from my plight. But, I am this close in getting into the Boston marathon this year.

First of all, yes, I didn't qualify for the race. I admire the people who can and do qualify. I think of the runner in the movie 'Spirit of the Marathon' who missed qualifying by a few minutes. He spent a lot of time and energy in training in order to put himself in that position. I wish I had the heart, dedication and talent to be able to do that.

But, the Boston Athletic Assocation reserves the right to invite others to run the race. Mostly this is done through charities but it is also done through sponsors of the event. And, this is how I was hoping to get my invitation.

You see, I am a friend of a friend of a friend who knows someone at the BAA. And, I asked my friend if he could get me an invite. Through e-mails, he has been trying for me. In the meantime, I have been training as if I would be participating.

Last week, I found out that the entries for the Boston marathon were closed. I sent my friend an e-mail saying, 'thanks for trying. I understand its closed. Maybe next year.' He sent an e-mail back, 'wait a minute. They should have your name.' He instructed me to give the BAA a call and ask them if they have my name.

So, last Thursday, I called. I told them I understand they might have a bib number for me. The answer back to me, 'so you want a bib number?' To which I replied, 'yes, I would like to run the race.' The voice on the phone replied, 'but I thought you wanted a bib number?' Puzzled, I replied, 'yes, a bib number so I can enter the race.' The voice said, 'so you want to run the race?' In truth, I still don't know what the difference is, but I said, 'yes, I would like to run the race with an official bib number.'

I mentioned the friend of the friend of the friend who got the e-mail stating my interest in the race. The voice took my phone number down and said, 'Let me get back to you.' Well, that was last Thursday. And, still no call back.

I am not an aggressive person by nature. It took a lot on my part to make the call in the first place. And, part of me is saying, 'just leave it and wait until next year.' But, my fear is there is a number waiting for me but it is lost in the shuffle some place. And, if I don't take it, and I ask next year then what if they went to a lot of trouble to get me the number this year and I didn't pick it up, how willing would they be to get me another number?

There is less than a month to go before the Boston marathon. I have already put in my 18 mile run this past weekend (3:19 with 2 stops at the car for a quick drink). SteveRunner asked me what's my Plan B? I don't have one. I don't know of any local marathons in the area except the New Jersey marathon but that's scheduled the same day as the Broad Street Run. I have toyed with the idea of the Cleveland marathon but I'm not sure if I want to put out the money to get there.

I feel like the geeky kid wanting to be invited to the cool party. I keep waiting by the phone.

(SteveRunner touches on the same subject on his Intervals 135B podcast. http://www.steverunner.com/ He talks about his invitation to the Boston marathon and makes some great points about this process. As stated above, I ran/walk 18 miles this past weekend and, surprisingly, felt great. I'm not sore at all. I forgot my gels so only ran with Gatorade as my fuel. And, had a consistent 11:01/mile pace throughout the run. I think running with new shoes definitely helped (I usually keep the same shoes throughout the summer and use them for the fall marathon), but low temps and humidity were a major 'good-feel' factor. Also, new question on the side that you are free to answer.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spring Training 2008

(Spring training pictures. First row: Brighthouse Field in Clearwater, FL, spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies. The second picture is Chase Utley taking a pitch inside. Second row: Pictures of Progressive Energy Park at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, FL, spring training home of the Tampa Rays. First picture is Dontrelle Willis of the Tigers on the mound. Second picture is of the park. And, third picture is the Detroit Tigers taking batting practice)
This entry to my blog is little about running. It is fufilling a boyhood dream. I've always wanted to go to at least one Phillies' spring training game. And, on Saturday, March 15 I did. Against the Twins. They lost 11-2 but it didn't matter. But, you have to know the whole story of what happened last year that makes this game so special.
You see, I was scheduled to see the Phillies-Yankees game last year. Had the hotel, the tickets to the game, the rental car and the flight down. We were scheduled to fly out of Newark, NJ on Friday at 11a. I woke up early that day, checked the flight on line and it was cancelled. A major ice/snow storm was predicted for the day. But, it wasn't snowing yet? How could they cancel?
I drove up to Newark (about 1 1/2 hour drive) to change my flight. When I got there, there was at least a 2 hour wait to get the ticket changed. As I was waiting at the back of the line, someone told us to go with him to a different counter. In truth, we had no idea who this guy was but he was speaking my language (and lots of other people's) and we had blind faith in him and followed.
He took us to another Continental Airline counter where we waited in a shorter line. The woman behind the counter changed my ticket and told me I had an 8 o'clock the next day. When I got out of the airport, it did begin to ice/snow and driving was an adventure on the way home.
As this ice/snow storm hit, we had scheduled family to take care of our pets. But, as the day wore on, the storm was getting worse. Yes, we had tickets to go out the next day, but, how is my family going to get to us? We didn't want to leave the pets without knowing that someone was going to be in the house.
Most airlines will let you check in on-line 24 hours in advance. So, when I got home, I decided to check in. But, it wouldn't let me. So, I waited assuming they just changed my ticket and it may not have gone through the system. An hour later, it still wouldn't let me. Then I read my new ticket. It was for 8 o'clock PM! We were suppose to come back on Monday. We were going to be there for less than 48 hours.
As Friday turned into Saturday and the storm was heading out, it was apparent there was too much ice/snow to get to Newark safely that day. So, I called Continental and they gave me a credit for my tickets. I followed the status of that 8pm flight. Before I went to bed, it was scheduled to take off on Sunday at 12:15am, arriving in Tampa at 3:00am. When I woke up to check it again, the flight was ultimately cancelled. So, I would have been sitting on the tarmac for 3 hours, have the flight cancelled, and drove home past midnight on icy roads. Sometimes the things that don't happen are the best things.
As for this past weekend, we had a good time. Friday was raining but the rest of the weekend was beautiful. Temps in the 80s. It beats the 40 degrees in Philadelphia at the time. A tip though. Make sure you have an idea of restaurants in the area before you go. We thought about it when we were hungry and wasted hours trying to figure it all out. Actually, Friday night we wound up at Disney World for dinner (about 2 hour drive) just because I was more familar with that area than Tampa/Clearwater.
And, yes, there was a little running involved as my wife and I went out Monday morning in the Harbor Oaks section of Clearwater next to the water. We didn't know where we were going when we started but ended up in a beautiful section of town. All in all, a great weekend. I couldn't have dreamed it better.
(Note: Still no word on Boston and my hopes are beginning to dim for this year. I'll give it one more shot and if not, then, try again next year. Might be better anyway as I will turn 50 (I still can't fathom that) and what a great way to celebrate. )

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March comes in like a worm-eating fernbird

Short blog this week as work has cut into my free time (again) and I have a short week anyway as I am going down to Phillies spring training for a long weekend.
With the heavy rains we had on Saturday and the heavy winds on Sunday, it reminded me of the old John Belushi bit on 'Saturday Night Live' when he talked about 'how in the United States, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. But, in other countries, like Norway, March comes in like a polar bear and goes out like a walrus.' Click on the link below for the whole bit. In my generation, this was funny stuff. Those younger than me, I'm sure will question what was so funny about it.
Anyway, the pictures from my house will show that, this year, March definitely came in like a lion.
I was suppose to run 18 miles this weekend but, because of the weather, it was reduced to 10 miles on the Delaware River on Monday. It was not an especially good run for me as it felt like I was running in sand because the ground was so soft from all the rain. I still haven't heard about getting into Boston this year. I'm afraid I'm running out of time on this one but I will continue training as if I was entered. Next week, I should have pictures of me at Phillies spring training.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do!

Meet the new boss,
same as the old boss
--The Who
(my old running shoes on the left, new ones on the right)
I genuinely feel bad when I have to throw food away. Not because of the money that I spent on it (ok, that's one reason). But, because this food item grew up, got old, and never properly served its purpose in its life! Think about it. The slightly black bananas that you have on your kitchen counter that no one wants to eat anymore. So, you toss it. In reality, there was no reason for that banana to exist in the first place. How sad is that!
You read that and you say to yourself: 'Wow! That guy is weird!' So, imagine what I must be like with a pair of shoes that have been around my house for the past year.
Look, I admit, I have attachments for inanimate objects. And, I have an attachment for my running shoes. I have seen good times with these shoes. I don't want to think of the bad times I've had with them. These shoes set a PR with me at Broad Street, Philadelphia Distance Run (half-marathon) and the Philadelphia marathon. These shoes did not have the chance to experience as many 5ks as I want it to.
These shoes have gone out with me in the blazing hot sun of last summer. They've been my training partner, going out with me on these chilly morning winters. They've been through the mud and the blood and the beer.
But, they are starting to feel their age. I'm starting to feel some discomfort in my knees and feet on some of my distance runs. Oh sure, I said it must be me, it can't be the shoes. But, I was in denial. Deep down, I knew this relationship was falling apart and it was only a matter of time.
It is also an end of an era and the replacements are the last of its kind. It is the last Brooks Adrenaline GTS5s available. Brooks is up to GTS8. Two years ago, I bought a few pairs of GTS5s because they were the most comfortable pair of running shoes I've ever found. But, now, I'm on my last pair.
I won't be going cold turkey with my shoes. That would be too cruel. It will be a gradual breakup (or really a gradual break-in). And, it might see an occasional 5k in its life. But, its glory days are done. It won't see Broad Street anymore. At least, not in race conditions. It has run its last long competitive race in its life.
So, good-bye old friend, you have served me well. You are off to the retirement part of your life where you will be helping me in the garden, cutting the lawn, slipping you on when I have to take the dogs out before bed, etc. You've had a good run!