Friday, January 30, 2009

But It Wasn't Marked Fra-gee-lay

There are times that life imitates art. And, last week, was one of those times for me.

Remember the movie A Christmas Story? In the movie, the father unexpectedly receives 'a major award' that was delivered to him. He's not sure why but, nonetheless, he was very excited on its arrival. Well, this past Tuesday, I, too, was delivered a 'major award.'

It was a cold and dreary day (suddenly, I'm writing like Snoopy). The snow and ice were coming down all day as I worked from home. I had snowplowed my driveway and parts of my yard for the dogs to go out. Very depressing type of day.

In the afternoon, as the ice began to turn to rain, I went out to get the mail. In my mailbox was an large, thick envelope from a company called Competitor Group in San Diego, California sent to a Brian Steindl. Brian Steindl? That's strange.

Then I started thinking back to a race I ran last year where my name was mixed up and I was signed up as Brian Steindl. It was explained to me, that the person who was doing the registrations, combined my last name with the person before me's first name. Thus, Brian Steindl was born. But, what race was that? And why is there an envelope addressed to him (me)?

I opened up the package and there it was. A team award for finishing in third place in the Corporate Masters Men division of the Philadelphia Distance Run. I was giddy. I don't win awards for running. Oh, sure. When I was kid, I would win awards for 50 yard dashes. But, not now. Not for distance runs. And, as I pull the award out and revealed more and more of it, the thought flashed through my mind: They don't have the name Brian Steindl on the award, do they?

Thankfully, no.

I remember looking up the team standings when they were first posted but didn't think much of it afterwards. So, I went back and looked it up again.

Yes, indeed. I was part of the third place team. Sort of. There are five people on your team. They count the first three finishers' times for the team. I was fourth. (Hey, I missed it by a minute!!!! What's the big deal?.) And, there were four teams that competed in the division. So, we were third out of four.

Now, corporate teams are interesting. Because, you never meet your teammates. (I still don't know them.) And, for the most part, you don't know who is on your team when you are running. In past years for my company, I felt like the 'chubby kid on the bench' that had to be picked and put somewhere on the field. So, I would wind up on teams that the captains didn't know what to do with. Not elite but 'thanks for coming out and enjoy your run' teams.

But, there it is. A piece of hardware from a race. And, not just a finisher's medal. A plaque. I've never received a plaque before. I won a gift card for winning a Clydesdale master division once. But, I spent that. A plaque. I'm very proud of receiving my major award in the mail even if it was 5 months after the event and my time didn't count in the standings and my name was wrong in the registration. But, for those that come into my office and see my plaque, they will never know any of that. They'll see my major award.

Monday, January 26, 2009


It was so cold . . .UN weapons inspectors suddenly decided that chemical weapons might be hidden in Hawaii! (Rimshot)

It was so cold...roosters were rushing into Kentucky Fried Chicken and begging to use the pressure cooker! (Rimshot)

It was so cold . . .a flasher rushed up to poor Mrs. Flannigan - and described himself! (Rimshot)

It was so cold...we had lunch down at the "Greasy Spoon" - just for the heartburn! (Rimshot)

It was so cold...people were ice fishing ON Lake Galena Sunday morning when I went out for my 8 mile run.

Now, I will tell you the truth, I don't remember Lake Galena being THAT frozen before on my weekend runs. And, I was a little nervous for them as I was running by. I was thinking, 'how would I contact help if they fell through?'. Then, I saw them drill a hole through the ice. And drill. And drill. It took awhile before they hit non-frozen water. Yes, it has been that cold. But, you probably knew that already.

My Sunday morning run, yesterday, was a test for me in different ways. First, a test of my motivation. It was 18 degrees (F) when I started my run. And, in truth, Lake Galena probably wasn't the best place to run that day. The winds were whipping up on various parts of the course so it felt a lot colder. There weren't too many runners (or anyone else) out there. So, I had to convince myself not to pack it in and go back to my nice warm car.

Secondly, a test of my endurance. I have done more cross-training lately to try to perserve some endurance. But, as you know, cross-training helps but does not take the place of running. So, as I was running, it was hard to figure out whether I was getting fatigued from my lack of endurance or just breathing in iced air. Probably a little bit of both. Not sure what others think but...can you feel just as tired from the extreme cold as you do from the extreme heat? Not sure.

And, thirdly, it was a test of my left Achilles. It has been feeling good. And, I have a tendency to baby injuries as not to re-injure myself. I wasn't feeling too bad except the last mile. And, then my ankle was feeling sore. After my run, I knew why. My legs were very tight. The wind took its toll as I hardly was able to bend. I went home to massage and coddle my ankle. Took anti-inflammatories. And, it's fine today. So, that's a good sign.

So, the next few months should be interesting as I try to regain my endurance. Here in Bucks County, PA we've been lucky as we have avoided most of the snow this season. But, they are calling for 4-7 inches Tuesday night into Wednesday. (There goes my Wednesday running group for this week.) Back to the treadmill. And, I am going to rely more and more on cross training until spring to continue to heal. In the meantime, does anyone know what kind of fish you can get from Lake Galena that you would want to spend your day out there?

(Notes: If you were in stitches over my 'How cold was it? jokes (And, who doesn't love a 'how cold was it? joke?) here is the link from the material I borrowed.

One of my 'random thoughts' I had last week, was a question I have that has been bugging me for years. I grew up Roman Catholic and attended Catholic schools for 12 years. I am intrigued by other religions. IMy belief in religion is that no one religion is right but none of them are wrong. The basic principle is the same: love one another as you love yourself. But, I digress from my question. My question is: How do Protestant faiths choose their saints? For instance, in Catholicism, there are procedures before someone is declared a saint. I know there are saints in Protestant faiths as I drive past the St. James Lutheran church In Chalfont on my way to Lake Galena. So, are Protestant saints just the apostles? Do they have new saints? If so, how? I have asked and try to google looking for this answer but can never find information on this. If you know, please post a comment. I'm very curious.
Also, for those who believe in prayer, if I can ask you to please pray for my father's recovery. Thanks.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Random Thoughts for a Winter's Day

Most bloggers have this post around this time of year because, frankly, there isn't a lot to talk about running-wise. So, it's a good time to talk about other things that are happening in our lives and what races around our minds as we wait for the spring to arrive. So, here are some random thoughts for this cold winter day.

  • First, an update. I ran 4 miles on Wednesday and 6 miles yesterday outside on the road and am happy to say that my left Achillies is feeling pretty good the day after. I am still trying to be careful not to push myself too hard. For instance, I did feel a twinge when starting to run up hills so, decided yesterday to walk hills instead. That, and the fact that I did lose some stamina in my layoff. But, I have to say, I didn't lose as much as I thought I would as I ran fine and didn't feel winded on flat or downhill ground.

  • I believe Bucks County, Pennsylvania is the best place in the United States for running weather-wise. Don't believe me? Ah, I offer you evidence. When I ran yesterday, it was in the upper 20's (F) and the high temp was in the lower 30's. Which is cold. But, I've been reading on various blogs from Massachusetts, Indiana, Missouri, etc. where they are on their treadmills or not running at all because of all the snow and the below zero temperatures they are facing. So, sounds like BC, PA is a pretty good place to run, eh? And, then summer comes and I complain about how hot it is to run outside. Then you read the blogs from the South about not being able to train because of the heat and humidity. So, sounds like I'm in a spot that is not too hot, not too cold, but just right. The defense rests.

  • I've contacted my friend about a possible Boston marathon invite this year. I won't say anything more about it until I hear, one way or the other, if I got it.

  • I don't pay too much attention to the inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because, frankly, I don't know what the criteria is in getting in, but, I was glad to see Jeff Beck is being inducted this year. A great guitarist, who was part of the Yardbirds in the 1960's. I remember him best for his 1975 jazz-fusion album, Blow by Blow. Freeway Jam is one of my favorite songs from the album but, the definition of a haunting melody is the song 'Cause We've Ended as Lovers.' Brings back memories of driving around listening to FM when it was considered 'underground' radio.

  • Speaking of music, I saw this in the paper the other day. Bryan Ferry, lead singer of the group Roxy Music, is dating his son's ex-girlfriend. There are times I think I live in a different universe.

  • Speaking of Hall of Fames, congratulations to Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice on being recently voted into baseball's Hall of Fame. For the life of me, I don't know why they have a rule that you can be on a ballot for 15 years before being kicked off. I mean, if you are truly a Hall of Famer, shouldn't it just take one ballot? And, yet, I like the Veteran's Committee selecting past players that were overlooked. Yeah, I know, kind of hypocritical from my previous statement. Also, I don't think Mark McGwire should ever be considered for the Hall of Fame. And, it's not about the steroids issue. True, he did hit 583 home runs in a sixteen year career. But, he ONLY got 1626 hits. That includes the home runs!!!! That, in and of itself, is not a Hall of Fame number.

  • Why do we believe more our negative thoughts than the positive ones? It's easy to say, 'well, that's human nature'. But, why is it human nature? Do people who have confidence just fake it better than the rest of us? Is it just easier to believe it? Really don't know the answer but would love to hear other's views on this.

  • Last week, the painter Andrew Wyeth passed away. When reading about his life, I never realized how many prints of his work I have in my own house! If you are ever in the Philadelphia area and are looking for a great little museum, drive out to Chadd's Ford, PA and go to the Brandywine River Museum to see paintings from three generations of the Wyeth family.

  • Melissa, from the Blue Dawgs group, sent an e-mail to Kelly and myself asking us to look at page 65 of the February 2009 edition of Runner's World. We had dinner with the guy at the bottom right hand corner at the Harrisburg marathon pasta dinner. He did mention that he was running the Philadelphia marathon a few weeks later. I should go visit the Runner's World offices some day.

  • Speaking of the Philadelphia marathon, I met and got an autograph copy of Bart Yasso's book, My Life on the Run. I will fess up here. I didn't know who he was. Now, that I read the book, I'm sorry I didn't talk to him more. It's a good book for a quick read. I did get the book I asked for Christmas and am reading it now. I also received American Lion--Andrew Jackson in the White House which is next on the list. I'm very interested in reading books about historical figures.

Stay warm, everyone. Soon it will be spring!!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Talk of the Town

I grew up loving broadcasting. I remember, as a kid, slowly turning the dial of the radio in my room and trying to find and listen to stations all over the US and Canada. I would keep track of the stations that I could find and what frequency they were on for future reference.

Years later, I went to get a Broadcasting & Film degree up in Boston. I worked as a disc jockey at my college radio station. I was a half-time guest once during a college basketball game. I worked for major market radio stations as an engineer and producer. And, I still work in broadcasting, albeit for a corporation and it is web-based. I still find myself in front of camera, from time to time, when they are in need of 'talent' to stand in when testing is being done. So, with all that experience, why was I still nervous going on The Runner's Roundtable last Wednesday as a guest?

I'm not an expert at anything especially when it comes to running. I usually seek advise, not give it. Luckily, the topic was around New Year's Resolutions so I did mention a few that I wrote about last year and on my last blog entry. If you get the opportunity to listen, click on the above link to the website. I can be heard in the discussion group on Episode 12.

With that being said, I am truly amazed by how fast things come out where you don't need a degree in Broadcasting & Film to be a broadcaster and the proliferation of additional media outlets. I'm sooooo yesterday with my blog. Not only is there podcasts available but talk show podcasts, runcast videos and on and on and on. And, they all seem to start up in a matter of months after the latest 'gadget' has been introduced. Below are links to some of the shows, podcasts, videos that I listen to and watch. Believe me, this is a small sampling of what's out there. If you are like me and get bored quickly with listening to the same songs on your iPod, check these out on your next run.

Runner's Lounge
Running from the Reaper
Confessions of a Runner

and, of course, the granddaddy of them all (or at least the podcaster looks like a granddaddy),


I think you can subscribe to all of these through iTunes, though don't quote me on that.

If you know of others that you would like to recommend, please let me know. I'm always looking for something else to listen to.

(Notes: My three week doctor-ordered running sabbatical is up. I've been pretty good going to the gym so far but have not run outside as of yet this year. I was going to this past weekend but ice/snow storm hit the Bucks County area on Saturday morning and it was a bit slippery for the entire weekend. I'm going to do a short run today and see how my ankle feels. Maybe I can start joining the Blue Dawgs on Wednesdays again. Good timing on my part as they are calling for highs in the 20's (F) this Wednesday. That's short-run weather if you ask me.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Goals for the Year 2009!

Happy 2009 to everyone!!!! I hope you had a good holiday season and you are ready for the new year!!!!

I decided, this year, not to have any new year's resolutions. Oh sure, I still plan on continuing what I resolved to do last year such as eat healthy, smarter exercise, beating Steve at Falmouth, etc. But, this year, is a little different. For this year, I enter a new age group. I enter a new decade in life. I turn 50. And, by the end of the year, you will be sick of me saying, I turn 50. But, because I turn 50 (sick of it yet?), I don't want to resolve myself from doing anything. I want to celebrate life. So, my resolutions this year are goals of things I want to do as I wait for my AARP card to arrive in the mail.

Stay Healthy--The one good thing about an injury is that it makes you pause and think about how you are approaching how to run. Things I could get away with even five years ago aren't the same thing I can get away with now. I NEED to make sure I cross train. I NEED to make sure I stretch. I NEED to make sure I am counting the miles on my shoes. I NEED to make sure I am training properly. If I do this, and there are no oceans out there with jagged coral to step on, I can stay healthy. I still have a week before I can start running again (doctor's orders), so I only hope that 'staying healthy' doesn't turn into 'getting healthy.'

Two marathons--For someone who was ready to swear off marathons last fall, suddenly I'm ready to do a two in a year. I swear marathons are like child-birth for women. You say never again just after you are done and then suddenly you are planning the next one. I would like to do a spring marathon if able. But, I am not going to push to hard with this as I am more interested in doing an 'unusual' fall marathon with SteveRunner. Unusual? Steve and I agreed to look for a marathon in a part of the world that we wouldn't ordinarily visit. The latest edition of Runner's World had the marathons scheduled for 2009. So far, there is one in Newfoundland (or was it Nova Scotia?), Portland, and California that looked interesting. I need to settle on a few and then look at the price of travel. Stay tuned.

Take me out to the ballgame--This is not an original idea. In fact, I stole it from Tom Hanks when he turned 50. You see, Tom Hanks hired a bus and went from city to city, with his friends, to see different baseball parks throughout the country. I'm not rich enough to hire a bus. Nor, do I have that many friends that would be willing to travel with me for a day let alone a week. But, I found a week in June that would allow me to travel to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City to see a baseball game every night. And, possibly, running a race in Kansas City before returning home. I think its doable.
SteveRunner and I were going to do this but, Steve had to bow out. I was bummed thinking that I wasn't going to be able to do this. But, another friend of mine, who is also turning 50, said he was interested in making the trip. So, it might be back on afterall.

A triathlon?--Chief White put this thought in my head last year. There is a class that starts in April on training for a sprint triathlon in July. I grew up swimming so I don't have a fear of water. I do have a mountain bike. Yes, it's not a triathlon bike but, before I commit to a new bike, I want to see if I like doing, training, discussing about triathlons. I want to talk more with some of my Blue Dawg friends about what to expect from this.

Going to a bowl game--Every year I look forward to watching the bowl games for college football. I have no idea why other than I'm big on almost anything that is traditional. I think there are too many bowl games. And, then I watch most of them. With no rooting interest. I don't like the bowls or any other commercial named bowl games. I think it's short-sighted and stupid to name a bowl game after a corporation. However, I don't mind a commercial name in front of a traditional bowl game name. So, I will watch the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Having said all that, I've always wanted to go to a bowl game. Doesn't really matter which one, really. As long as it's warm. But, it's hard to pick up and leave during the holidays. I guess I just want to say, 'I've been there.'

Falmouth--I hope Steve and I get a chance to run the Falmouth Road Race together this year. I want to show that a 50 year old can still beat some smart aleck 'kid' like him. :-)

I expect this to be a different year for me than normal years. I might not get chances to do some of the Bucks County 5k Spring series, Broad Street, or Philadelphia Distance Run. But, I don't want this to be an ordinary year for me. As you can tell by the list, I will be poorer in the pocket but richer in spirit. My resolution for this year? Enjoy life as much as I can and be grateful for the things I have. It's as simple as that.

(Notes: I will be a guest on the Runner's Roundtable , a podcast show that is live on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 4 pm EST. If you miss it, you will be able to download it later. I haven't done this before but, I believe, you will be able to text in questions during the show. )