Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Christmas Card to You


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.


video


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

2008--A Year in Review

At the end of each year, it is a time of reflection of what we have done. Below are some of the highlights of my 2008. I'm not quite done for the year as I will post once more before Christmas.

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

A Letter to Santa

Dear Santa:

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,

Joe

Monday, December 1, 2008

Going over to the 'Dark Side'

It started out resting my ankle, my body, my spirit. I have run only once since the Harrisburg marathon. And, even then, my ankle was bothering me. So, I decided to rest some more. But, it has become more than that. You see, I have seen the 'dark side' (and, shhh, I liked it!!!)



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?