Friday, October 30, 2009

And the results are in.....

Last Wednesday, the Blue Dawgs got together from the summer recess. I saw people off and on over the summer but it was good to get everyone back together again and do some hills in Chalfont.

Joe and Diski were there. Diski is training to walk the Philadelphia half marathon in November. She has had injuries off and on for the past few years that have prevented her from running. So, she has turn to walking instead and Joe is joining her in her training. They are nice people so I'm glad Di has found a way to join us on Wednesday nights. Wouldn't be the same without them.

Eric was there. He is also training for the Philadelphia half marathon but will be running it. We look forward to seeing Eric on the front page of the newspaper the next day as he has a habit of showing up in newspapers, magazines, you name it. Must be his dashing good looks. :-)

Mark was there as well. He walked with Joe and Diski. I think I heard he ran that morning so didn't want to run again that day. I didn't see Mark over the summer as I did last year. Last year, we run with the TZ Sports group on Thursday nights and would run past his house along the course. We would always yell out for Mark to come out and play with us. Most times he did. Mark's wife would come out as we were heading for home and offer us a drink of water from their driveway. A welcome reprieve indeed.

Mike was there. Mike was telling us his theory on training. He was wondering how much training was really needed? He was giving us examples of how he would just show up at races with little training and do really well. Oh, sure. If I was skinny with talent, I could probably do the same thing. Mike is a good guy. He doesn't always have the chance to come out on Wednesdays with us so it's always great to see him when he can.

Kelly 'I hate !@#$%$ hills' was there as well. Kelly just recently did the Wineglass marathon. She almost, almost qualified for Boston. Only if she was a year older. And, to think that last year I thought I could run with her in the Harrisburg marathon. She swore this was her last marathon. But, I don't think so. If you are THAT close to qualifying for Boston, you have to go for it. She will. She just needs to forget about the pain of the marathon.

Among the missing that night was Boyd, Joan, Mitch, Chief and Melissa. Melissa had a good excuse. Just a few weeks ago, her and her husband welcomed their new son into this world. (Congratulations!). I expect to see little Perry training for the 2032 Olympics in a few years time.

After the run, we headed down to our namesake, the Blue Dog Tavern. Watched the Philies, quaffed a few adult beverages, ate like we were carbo-loading, talked about our summers, had a few laughs. Really enjoyed myself.

As we were leaving, we forgot to do one thing. Elect our new president. To qualify for the election, it is best NOT to show up for the first meeting. At least, that is the tradition we follow. My unanimous consent, Chief White was elected the Blue Dawg president for the year. Heavy is the burden of this elected office. The president is responsible for collecting all the dues for the group. Since there are no dues for the group, we felt Chief could handle collecting them. The president is responsible for ordering the first round. OK, I made this up but he should be.

Last year, I spoke about losing my mojo. Not wanting to run. This year should be different. I'm looking forward to hangin' with the Dawgs again this winter.

(Notes: Most of you, after looking at Steve Runner's time at the Valley Harvest Half marathon, thought that he ran like a grandpa. (I did too). Well, you were close. Congratulations goes out to my friend Steve as he recently found out that his stepson will be having a child so Steve will indeed be a grandpa. Soon, he will yelling at kids to stay off his lawn to complete the picture.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Images of Nova Scotia

I wanted to take one last opportunity to talk about my trip to Nova Scotia. I have spoken ad naseum about the reasons for such a trip. In the beginning of the year, Steve(Runner) and I were looking to do a marathon. By July, we both agreed it made more sense to do a half. I wanted it to be someplace that I had never been before and, chances are, may never have the chance to return. We floated out ideas of Fargo, North Dakota or Eugene, Oregon but decide to visit one of the Canadian Maritime provinces instead. We were originally intending to go to Prince Edward Island but the cost and the timing to get there for a long weekend was a bit too much. So, we decided to go to Nova Scotia. And, I'm glad we did.

Nova Scotia turned out to be everything I expected it to be. And, more. Beautiful coast. Wonderful foliage. Quaint little towns. And, unexpected? The amount of good wineries in the area.

Below are some of the pictures (and videos) I took of the trip. I hope you enjoy.

(We had the chance to visit 5 wineries while there. I picked up a Maple Wine from here, surprisingly good as a dessert wine.)

(The Cornwallis River at lowtide in the morning. Look at the difference from the picture below when it was at high tide in the afternoon.)

(Around Scots Bay area)

(Around Scots Bay area)

(At The Lookoff. If anyone goes there in the future, could you look for Steve's glasses? It's where he lost them.)

(Bay of Fundy)

(The further side of the river is where most of the race took place)

(Along the Bay of Fundy)

(The German restaurant along the coast where we had lunch)

(Along the coast of Bay of Fundy)


(The block dot is one of the seals we saw along the way)

Finally, here are some short videos that I had taken.

(In the town of Scots Bay, looking out at the Bay of Fundy)

(Near Margaretville, Annapolis County)

(Hours later after I've finished, washed, had lunch, still waiting, Steve does his last lap towards the finish line.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 Valley Harvest Half Marathon Report

I sit here trying to figure out, trying to summarize the race that I ran in Nova Scotia. I was thinking of taking the angle of how I beat Steve(Runner). Which, would be a great angle since, in fact, it's true. :-) But, I will also tell you this. Steve is a good friend of mine. We've known each other for half of lives. We do a have friendly rivalry going and some trash talkin'. But, it's all in good fun. The weekend was my continuing celebration of my 50th year on this planet. And, I wanted to do something different. So, I went to the edge of the earth. Or so it seemed. Steve was kind enough to go with me to help in my celebration. Thanks, Steve.

So, do I write about the course? Funny thing I think about this course are people's point of view. I read this on several blogs and websites this was described as a flat course with a few rolling hills. Personally, I would describe it as a hilly course with a few flat spots. This was the hilliest half marathon course I've run. But, saying that, the hills were not monstorous. They just felt like they would go on forever. And, unfortunately for me, I was feeling nauceous going up them. To the point, at mile 10, I was ready to give my breakfast up. But, thankfully, didn't. I kept thinking, I had a 5k more to go and, whatever hills there were upcoming, I was just going to have to walk up those. But, I kept thinking Steve was going to be right behind me and catch up. Funny, when you are in the middle of a a situation like that, how much you don't care. You care afterwards. But, not when you are going through it.

Besides the hills, and, probably because of them, the course was scenic. The race started in downtown Wolfville, NS and headed west out of town. About 2 miles out of town, you turned right and headed to Port William. Before going into Port William, you crossed the Cornwallis River. Now, the area was noted for their tidal changes. It is no more evident than it was crossing that bridge over the Cornwallis River. In the morning, you literally could walk across the water as it was that shallow. By the afternoon, the river had risen about 50 feet. Watching the tide come in was like watching floodwaters. On a daily basis.

Most of the race was in Port William and the surrounding farmland. It was 3 miles into the race that I realized that I had overdressed for the occasion. I was dressed as Nanook of the North. And, for good reason as the race started in the 30s (F). But, the sun was out. And, in reality, I could have been comfortable with a long-sleeve shirt and shorts. Instead, I was bundled up for an impending snowstorm. Except, never happened.

My first 4 miles were at a nice even pace. I took a few walk breaks afterwards only to settle my stomach. I learned my lesson in Philadelphia and was determined to keep things at as much of an even pace as possible.

The turnaround on the course actually happened about 7.5 miles into the race. And, then more hills followed. I thought of Kelly and her 'love' of hills. I imagined her cursing these hills. I didn't have to imagine me cursing these hills. Because, I was doing just that.

Finally, around mile 9, there was one long downhill back into Port William. It was there you could really get a view of the river and the tidal basin and the hills surrounding the area. Just beautiful.

I crossed the Cornwallis River again at mile 10 and continued on following my steps of the first three miles. I turned right onto Route 1 and headed back into Wolfville. Suck it up and make it happen.

The finish line was in the Acadia University football stadium. Almost a full lap around to the end. I was running with someone along side of me, who, thanked me at the end as he was pacing off me. I've done that before and it's funny how you really feel the need to thank someone for doing that when, in fact, they have no idea that they were. About 50 yards from the finish, the name is called over the PA system. And, they even pronounced the last name right!!!! I saw the clock closing in on 2:04. It was then I was determined to beat that time so I made a mad dash. Gun time: 2:03:45. Chip time: 2:03:01. I beat my Philadelphia time. On a tougher course. And, no Steve around. I was feeling happy.

As I waited for Steve to finish, one of the runners who I was running with along the course, was about 50 yards from the finish and decided to make a dash as well. Except, she collapsed in a heap, grabbing her thigh. I suspect she cramped up. She was lying there, crying, wanting so much to cross that line. The paramedics rushed and helped her. She did get up and was limping. I felt so bad as she never crossed the line. All that work and only 50 yards from your goal. Ouch.

After Steve crossed the line, it was time to spend the afternoon riding around, tasting the wines of the region. It was a nice way to finish up the weekend.

I want to thank the people of Wolfville, of Nova Scotia, the race directors and the people who participated in this race. You are some of the friendliest people I ever met. There was a little issue with my registration. They couldn't find me. And, yet, they took me at my word that I did register and was going to give me a number anyway. Turns out, I registered my last name first. I was never one to follow directions anyway.

For a more complete race report, I encourage you to download and listen to Steve's podcast episode 209. (Also, listen to episode 208B for my interview of Steve).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Images of the 2009 Valley Harvest Half-Marathon

Hopefully, by the end of the week I will have a full race report. In the meantime, here are some pictures I took of the 2009 Tm Horton's Valley Harvest Half-Marathon.

(Registration at the Acadia University Gym)

(Steve (Runner) and I before the race)

(At the start)

(About two miles into the race heading towards Port William)

(Someone offered to take my picture so he went ahead of me and did so. If I can only get my camera back....(I'm in the middle) )

(About 5 miles into the race)

(The hills weren't steep but the hilliest half I've ever run)

(Heading towards the turnaround)

(Finally, downhill. About 9 miles into the race)

(Steve (Runner) crosses the finish sans shoes. He ran the last 200 yards barefoot)

(Steve and myself after the race. Somehow Steve musters a smile after losing the race to me.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

iFitness MiniSportsBelt

There is a story I tell of a race I did in Souderton, Pennsylvania one hot July night. That night I was in the midst of setting a new 5k PR when it happened. You see, I used to carry my car key in a shoe pouch. But, as I in the last mile of the race, my shoe pouch started to flap with potentially my car key falling in the middle of the street. I had to take the time to fix it except I didn't fix it right and it started to flap again in the next 100 yards. I was so peeved (not the word I really want to use here), I bent down and tore the pouch off my shoe and stuck my key in my pocket. By then I lost all my momentum and finished seconds off my PR. I never ran with a shoe pouch again.

So, I started to use a wrist pouch. And, they are good. Does the job. But, a little uncomfortable sometimes. Plus, on a good hard day, you can wring out the wristband. And, if you don't be careful, it can get a little funky sitting in the gym bag in a hot car.

A few months ago, Kelly, from the Blue Dawgs showed me her mini Sports Belt. Yeah, yeah, I said. That's great. But, I don't do sports belts. Oh, I've tried. Get yelled out by runner friends for not having one on when doing longer runs. They bounce. They push against the nerves on my back. They are just soooooo uncomfortable. But, let me tell you, and, I don't say this often, Kelly was right.

When walking around the Philadelphia Distance Run expo, there were a few booths selling these. I've been wanting to take my Canon camera along for races/runs and wanted a reason to retire the mini-cam. I thought, for $20, I'll try. So, I bought an iFitness minisportbelt.

Last week, I did two laps around Lake Galena for my final long run before the Valley Harvest half marathon this coming weekend. I ran the first lap (six miles) with the belt on and nothing in it. It was pretty comfortable. Really, didn't even notice I had it on. I stopped at my car and took my wristband off, placed the key in the sportsbelt and took my camera along as well.

I ran about 100 yards. Yep, here it goes. Bounce like crazy. Feel it everytime I take a step. But, in reality, it was what I was expecting. With some adjustments, (keeping the pouch on my front right hip) I never felt it again for the second lap. Even to the point, where after my run, I forgot I didn't take it off, did some errands before I got home and was surprised I had it on still.

I don't think iFitness has the exclusive market on these. I could be wrong. I seem to recall there were other companies selling something similar. But, I can tell you that this is a product I would recommend. Once again, goodbye to the mini-cam. And, dare I say, goodbye to the wristband pouch. I have a new friend with the iFitness minisportsbelt.

(Notes: I think only I would have a chance to go anyplace (within reason) in the world to run a race in the fall and decide to go north instead of south. As of today, the weather forecast in Wolfville, Nova Scotia on Sunday, October 11 is windy with winds out of the west at 24mph. High of 52 degrees (F) which will feel like 40 degrees (F). That's high for the day. Not the race. Need to make sure I bring the long pants and not rely on running in shorts for the race. Still, I have never been to the Maritime Islands of Canada and am looking forward to my trip with Steve (Runner). It will be an adventure.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pictures telling a thousand words (roughly)

Look at that guy on the right of this blog. No. The far right. The guy in the blue shirt with the bicycle behind him. What do you see? (There are a number of my friends biting their tongues at this very moment looking for an appropriate answer to that question). Does that guy look relaxed to you? Or even worse (because, in truth, I actually look like I'm running in that picture). Look at these pictures. The guy in the yellow shirt this time. Yep, same guy as last time but, if there was a penny in those clenched fists of his, he would be making Lincoln cry those fists are so tight.

I did learn a lot of things out there when I was running PDR. Okay, don't wear the Brooks Adreneline 9s just yet for a lengthy run. Not quite broken in. Don't wear the new DryMax socks in Nova Scotia. Wear the older ones. Will do just as good if not better. When there is a gap in your socks by your toes, don't say, it will be allright and then complain about blisters afterwards when it's not allright. Fix it before the race starts. And, make sure you do a few miles the week before even if you don't have the time. Find the time. To do a few at least. Those little tidbits were easy to think about and fix. What I didn't really think about was how did I look? Or specifically, how did I feel?

I wrote a blog entry before about bad running habits. Even made it a New Year's resolution to try to correct them last year. One of the worse habits I have is not running relaxed. But, what does that mean?

First time I took notice of it was in a race that Steve (Runner) and I did one time in Connecticut, the day before the Falmouth Road Race. As I was finishing the last mile of a 5 mile race, a perfect stranger, who was cheering us on, looked at me and yelled, 'Hey you. Relax out there. You are running tense. ' Who me? I'm digging in. I want to have a strong finish. Who in the world isn't tense out here?' But, I knew what she was saying.

Flash forward two years from then to this year's PDR. And, I look at the pictures of myself. When you are out there, doing the best you can to finish in the fastest time possible, all you are thinking is finding something inside of you to finish this thing off. So, you dig deep. And, when I do that, automatically my arms go up and fists clench.

I will tell you now that I am not sure if I will ever know how to truly relax in a race. And, yet, if you ever watch an Olympic event, the announcers will always mention how relax the winners look as they cross the finish line. But, because of the pictures from PDR, it will remind me to chill when I run. Keep those arms down. Relax that kung-fu grip of mine. Don't be so stiff when I run. Just relax.