Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Opening a New Door

Back in January, it was just an idea. Something I wasn't sure of. Something others talked about but wasn't sure if it was for me. But, gradually, I accepted the idea. Started to embrace that, in fact, there was a way for me to do this thing. I knew I was going to have to make some sacrifices along the way (don't we always?).

Yesterday, I committed myself to this idea. I signed up and attended my first triathlon class. And, I can't weasel out of it because my good friend, Chief White...yes, the Chief White that I run against in local 5ks, is one of the MENTORS!!!!!!

Seven years ago or so, I remember thinking about starting to run longer distances and entering races. I remember the first time I ran 20 minutes WITHOUT STOPPING!!!! The sense of joy of accomplishing that feat. With my running now, I have lost that feeling of newness. Signing up for a triathlon class has given me back that feeling of trying (pardon the pun) something different in life. At the beginning of this month, when I swam two laps freestyle WITHOUT STOPPING started to bring back those feelings of small accomplishments.

I was asked last night, why, why did I sign up for this class? My answer...I wanted to celebrate my fifty years of existence on this planet. I want to prove you can teach an old dog, like me, a new trick.

The more and more I thought about the individual pieces of a triathlon, the more I thought it is something I can do. Swim 1/4 mile? Yeah, I grew up learning how to swim. I can do that with some training. Bike 10 miles? How hard can that be? I'm running 10 miles in a few weeks down Broad Street. Could it really be more difficult than that? And then run a 5k? I would do that every weekend if I could. And, on top of that, have people I know teach and support me along the way? As my teacher (Sharon) said last night, 'we thought you would have been out here sooner'.

I don't expect to be good at this. But, the point of the class is not necessarily be good. The motto: Compete to Complete! Just like I tell people when they enter their first marathon. Don't have a goal time. Do it for the experience. See what works and what doesn't work for you. If you enjoyed it, then think back on that experience and how you would change things to be more competitive if you want to. I have to keep that in my mind for myself.

I am excited. This has given me a renewed vigor for training. I can't wait to get out there every day now. And, I have the backing of my friends along the way. There's no turning back now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ready, Set...Spring!!!!!

I think the best way to get my mojo back is to run that first race. And, struggle. And, have Eric and Chief beat me. Soundly. And, despite what I say about enjoying life and not worrying about times that will be my wake up call.

--February 9, 2009 Blue Dawgs Running Losing My Mojo posting


I should have been in the prediction business. (Of course, if I was, my 401(k) wouldn't have turned into a 101 (k) ). Yes, the above situation happened. Just as I thought. Yes, Eric and Chief (and 296 others) beat me. (I said it, Eric, happy now?).

Yesterday was the start of the Panera Bread Bucks 5k spring series with the running of the Central Bucks Family YMCA 5k. Game time temps started in the 30's (F) climbing (barely) in the 40s. But the sun was out and people were anxious to get their spring going. How anxious? They delayed the start of the race by 15 minutes because people kept showing up to register for the race. Time to shake off the winter rust.

Since early March, I have been getting my mojo back. I am starting to focus on competing in a triathlon in the summer. I'm swimming twice a week for about 30 minutes. Nothing hard. Just building up so I can do 16 laps at a competitive pace. (About 1/4 mile). Also did a six mile loop around Lake Galena on Saturday. Throw in a one hour racquetball session and there you have my week!

Besides swimming, I am getting out more and more for runs now that it's warming up. Biggest problem? The better shape you are in, the easier you can bounce back from a cold. At least that's my theory. Because, I can't seem to clear the congestion that I have from this cold I had starting last month. No, no, I'm not using that as an excuse for my performance yesterday (Sure didn't help going up that last hill, though). Back to the race.

My first mile was ok. I felt better than I thought I would. Didn't push myself. Just relaxed. I did it in an 8:15 or so pace. Next mile I eased up because I felt I was laboring try to breathe. Still, the mile was around an 8:45 pace. What I'm finding is, running up any hills at the moment really, really sucks. (Kelly, you are much more, shall we say, expressive, than I am when it comes to describing hills but this will do for now.) Yes, I know, for the most part, any hill is not a barrel of laughs but I can really feel a difference between running on flat surface and hills. And, that last mile has a 1/2 mile gradual hill to it. And, it knocked me for a loop yesterday.

My final time was 26:56. My worse 5k in nearly three years. It was almost 2 minutes slower than last year's race. (Sigh).

It's just the start of the season. Still plenty of time to have a good year. Though, I have to keep reminding myself, I declared this a non-competitive year. Yeah, right. Good luck with that one. All I have to do is to remind Chief and Eric and SteveR this is my non-competitive year. I'm sure they'll go along with that. Everytime I see them. After a race. I'm sure they will be telling me, 'I see you decided not to compete in this race afterall?' (Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle). Word of advice. Be careful when you stop and smell the roses. You might get run over doing so.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Discovery Shuttle Launch

Something for the weekend. When I was in Florida last week, I had the opportunity to experience something unique and, that was, to view the launching of the Space Shuttle Discovery. New Smyrna Beach, where my parents live, is about an hour's north of Cape Canaveral. My father and I went down to the beach to get a better view of the launch. Below is video I had taken. In the middle, someone asks me if I was taking pictures with my phone. My reply was that I was my using taking video. (Just to explain what that conversation was about.)

The video is about 3 minutes in length. If you stay with it, at the end you will see the booster rockets separate from the shuttle. (You will see separate objects in the sky. Those are the booster rockets). When my father and I were walking away from the beach, you could still see the shuttle as a bright object in the sky. It was about 5 minutes after the actual launch. We were told later that the shuttle was actually over the New York/New Jersey area at that point. If only traveling was that easy! :-)

Hope you enjoy the video.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Where I Run (Florida edition)

I'm back from my Florida long weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect with highs in the 80's (F) with low humidity all five days I was there. I went to a couple of spring training games over the weekend, which was a lot of fun and, for the most part just relaxed and took it easy.

I did have a chance to get out and get some runs in as well. I was staying in a town called New Smyrna Beach, which is about 10 miles south of Daytona Beach. North of town, where the Indian River meets the Atlantic Ocean, (called Ponce Inlet) there is a park called Smyrna Dunes Park. This park has a 1.4 mile circular boardwalk where people go to get there walks and runs in. (The park also is a nesting ground for sea turtles which were out and about as I ran.)

I was able to get two runs in over the weekend. A 3 miler and a 4.2 miler. Running this just emphasized how out of shape I got over the winter and the work I need to put in to get back in 'racing form'.

One of the things I might try to do this year is post videos of places of where I run. This is my first attempt on this. Understand I am no Spielberg. (Especially when my thumb gets in the way of the camera. Unfortunately, there is no second takes to my videos.) Also, I'm using my video camera from my phone, so the quality might not be there. It was easy enough to use for a run.

In the coming months, I'm hoping to capture some footage of other areas where I run and also some races I'm doing. Races may be tough but I've deemed it a non-competitive year for me so there's more of a chance I'll allow myself the extra time to pull out the camera and get some footage. (Of course, I say that now in March. Just wait until I see Chief, Eric or another Blue Dawg in front of me. That camera ain't coming out then!)

So, to set the stage, below are four video clips (about 3 mins each, except clip 3 which is about a minute) of what it's like to run at Smyrna Dunes Park. Again, apologies as I know I had my thumb in the way in clips 3 and 4. (FYI. Be careful of watching this video if you get motion-sickness.)

While I was in Florida, I also had the opportunity to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery. I have video of that launch where I saw it from my vantage point in New Smyrna Beach. I hope to have that posted later this week.

Any comments to the video would be much appreciated.

(Notes: The Bucks County 5k Spring series starts this weekend on Sunday, March 22. As most of the races in the spring are ones I have done before, I would like to bring back the race T-shirt exchange. The idea behind the race T-shirt exchange is to exchange shirts with me for upcoming races that you have done year after year and you don't necessarily 'need' that shirt anymore. So, send me an e-mail and let me know you are interested in exchange race shirts. Let me know the size of shirt you want and the address where I can send it. I will let you know my shirt size and my address of where you can send the shirt you got from your local race. As always, only non-worn shirts will be accepted. :-) )

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Interview

Thanks to Jennifer :-) at the Life is a gift. RUN. blog for these interview questions. Since you posed these questions to me over a week ago it gave me a good think. It was an interesting excerise to do.

1. When not running and blogging, what else do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time? :-) I do like to travel. I like to experience new things so there have been very few places that I have gone back to for vacation. But, having said that, I like to travel to familar spots for long weekends like Boston or Florida. The one thing I like doing on vacation more than anything else is waking up and reading a newspaper and having a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. That, to me, is relaxing.
I used to be a more avid watcher of sports but not so much anymore. I'll follow sports but mostly can only keep up a conversation about baseball.
Still, after 20+ years of marriage, I like to hang out with my wife and play with our dogs. My dogs will absolutely crack me up sometimes.
I'm boring, aren't I?

2. What is your favorite race and favorite distance to race?
Do I have to pay attention to the verb here? What 'is' my favorite race? Or what 'was' my favorite race? What the heck. I'll answer both. What 'was' my favorite race was the 2006 Disney marathon for a variety of reasons. Leading up to that race, I was sent over to England (twice) for business. I had to do a 12 mile long run through central London and, a few weeks later, had to do a 16 mile long in the English countryside. But, the race itself was none other than I ever experienced. The course was set up well. The volunteers were wonderful. And, even though it was my second marathon, it was the first that I didn't finish limping in. If you ever did this marathon, you will wind up comparing this marathon to all others that you will ever do.

What 'is' my favorite race, year after year, is the Falmouth Road Race in August. I love the beach and the course is right along the water. It is a beautiful course to run. There are a lot of name runners that participate such as Frank Shorter, Joan Benoit, Bill Rogers and Catherine Ndereba and Deena Kastor from time to time that you get to meet and talk to. Interestingly, it is not a very good course for me. Though beautiful, there isn't a lot of shade and I have had some interesting times out there. Still, a great weekend when I can get up there.

Favorite distance? I've come to like the half marathon but I think, deep down, I'm still a sprinter so probably the 5k.

3. What is your greatest athletic moment? (Doesn't have to be running)
I thought and thought and thought about this. Not because there were so many, but because there were so few. :-) Let's just say that the one sport I lettered in high school was bowling (Which is true). The one I kept on thinking back on was the one I have few details on and have nothing to prove it ever happened. In grade school, I was the anchor of a sprint team (not sure of the distance) at an indoor meet at the Philadelphia Convention Center. I remember taking the baton and flying past someone who was in front of me and breaking the tape to win. We only won the heat, not the race, but it was the only time I remember breaking the tape. I've won championships with teams in volleyball, softball, basketball, etc. but I don't recall being 'the guy' that won the event for the team.

4. Have you learned anything about yourself since starting your blog?
I realized how much of my life is about riding on the coattails of Steve Runner. :-) I started writing this blog about 2 years ago. I promised myself, if I was going to do it, I would commit myself to it and post at least once a week. Barring vacations, I've been pretty good at doing it. I've also sort of fulfilled one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up and that was a columnist for a newspaper. I never pursued it because I didn't think I had the talent to maintain a living out of it. The other thing I find myself doing is looking at a situation and saying to myself, 'this would be a great post!' Or, looking at other blogs for ways to be more creative with my blog. I thought I would get tired of posting after a year but, surprised myself how much I continue to enjoy writing.

5. Since you gave up potato chips for Lent (brave soul) what is your replacement for their crispy, salty goodness? :-)
I would have a small bag of potato chips for lunch almost everyday at our cafeteria. And, I went cold turkey. I'll have the small bag of apple slices instead of the chips that went with the sandwich. And, it was tough for a few days. But, now it's not so bad. But, I also gave up snacking between meals. The snacks I eat are generally healthy. In the right amounts. I may have gone over the 'right amounts' from time to time. And, that has been more difficult. I haven't been great with this. But, it does make me think more seriously of what I eat.

To play along:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

(Notes: I'm off to Florida for a long weekend with my parents and catching some spring training games. I thought about doing a 10k when I was down there but, having gone out last Saturday on a 3 mile tempo run, I realized that I'm not in race shape yet. I got a LOT of work to do to get back into shape. I started playing with my new Garmin 405. It certainly not as noticeable to wear as the Garmin 101 is when you are running, which is a good thing. Also, picked up a pair of the Brooks Adrenline 9's today. So, if anything, my running might stink but I'll be stylish this year.
Last Friday, I was asked to give a speech to honor our fourth grade teacher who is retiring this year. Ours was the first class she ever taught. )

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mother Nature's Sense of Humor

Whew! Thank goodness February is over. The first two months of 2009 has been a bit tough. Cold. snowy. Actually had to use my snowblower three times so far. Haven't done that in quite a few years. But, all that's over now. Because it's March! And the warm weather is coming. I just know it. As a matter of fact, I'm so confident that it's warm outside that I'm going to wear shorts and a short-sleeve shirt today for my run. I'll just tie my shoes up and I'm ready to head out the door. In. The. Snow.

Well, winter isn't quite over yet. I'm sitting here at my desk looking outside as the snow comes down. And down. And down. Predictions are for this area to get 6-12 inches of snow today. You can cross the 6 inches off your list, as we already hit that, and hope that it doesn't hit the 12 inch mark. I had to go out early this morning and shovel my yard. Yep. I have to shovel an area in the yard for the dogs. If we get 12 inches, well, I'm going to have to build a little tunneling system for them to get around.

Nonetheless, it was a productive week for me. I actually went out for a run on Wednesday! On Tuesday, I wasn't so sure I was going to be able to as I went to the doctor's to be told I had a sinus infection. So, I wind up living on anti-biotics and Mucinex-D for period of time. But, I felt good enough Wednesday afternoon and meet up with the Blue Dawgs and did a little over 4 miles.

Saturday, I went to the gym to cross train for about an hour and it felt great to get lost in a workout. And, Sunday, March the first, I decided this was the day to start training for my tri. So, I went for a swim. Or at least tried. Or, should I say, I swam but, boy, is that tiring! I was in the pool for twenty minutes. Freestyle. Breaststroke. And I ache. I purposely didn't try to push myself. All I wanted to do was to get some laps in. Oh, yeah. I got some laps in. But, geez, do I ache today.

I guess what I probably should do is to read up on how to get started. (Yes, typical guy's response to life. Start something and THEN read the instructions afterwards.) It was a bit discouraging to see someone next to me swim lap after lap after lap without stopping. As for me? About 4 laps straight and then catch my breath for a minute, breaststroke a lap, catch my breath, etc. After I got out of the pool, I was flat out tired. I got a long ways to go before July and the tri.

Still sore today but I got a new toy yesterday as well. So, it will be something to take my mind off my stiff muscles. I got a new Garmin 405. I haven't had a chance to take it out of the box yet. I have seen others wear one and it will be nice not to have a clock face halfway up your arm anymore. And, I'll be able to save my workouts on my computer which will nice to have around. Geez, maybe, I'll even start wearing it on my Wednesday runs and won't have to keep asking Eric or Melissa how many miles we've done? They'll appreciate that.

There goes a snowmobile up the road. Just 11 days away and I'll be in sunny Florida for a long weekend. Watching baseball. Eating a hot dog. Drinking a beer. Basking in the warm sunshine. In the meantime, excuse me as I tie up the laces of my snow boots and clear out the driveway.