Monday, November 30, 2009

Whitin (MA) 5 mile Race Report

Not really a race report but just some pictures of the Whitin 5 miler that I ran on Thanksgiving Day with Steve (Runner). Steve and I ran most of the race together but he took off the last quarter mile and beat me by 20 seconds or so. Steve's wife asked me to let him beat me so he doesn't pout over the winter. I felt bad so I obliged. :-) To be fair, Steve and I thought we were about the same fitness level--he has started to ramp up his miles since the Valley Harvest Half and I have started to ramp down for the winter. It was a good race but, at the end, I couldn't sprint with him at the finish.

As it turns out, I will be in California next weekend and have my eye on a 4 mile race in San Francisco on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll post pictures from that race next week,

(Steve and I in front of the Whitinsville Community Center at the start of the race)

(Walking up to the starting line in Whitinsville, MA)

(Shouldn't this turkey be in the oven and not on her head?)

(People lining up at the start)

(A Pilgrim turkey?)

(Our Pilgrim forefathers were a lot faster than me this day)

(The chute at the finish)

(The finish line of the Whitin 5 mile Race)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sights and Sounds of the 2009 Philadelphia Marathon

Here are some of the sights and sounds of the 2009 Philadelphia Marathon/Half-marathon/8k race. To everyone in the United States, enjoy your Thanksgiving this week and travel safely wherever you go.

(The start line of this year's race)

(Men's Marathon winner, John Crews (2:17:15) getting his medal)

(Women's Marathon winner, Jutta Merilainen (2:46:44) crossing the finish line)

(Lesley Van Arsdale of CBS3 covering the race)

(Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter (in Phillies hat) )

(Looking at the finish line with the Art Museum in the background)

(Sign for the marathon)

Videos of the race:

(Some marathon finishers)

(More marathon finishers)

(What the runners see as they head to the finish line)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good luck Philadelphia Runners!!!!

This Sunday is the Philadelphia marathon. I was hoping to post some pictures of the banners in the city and the mile markers that are on the road as I drive into work on parts of the course. Never had the chance to stop and take the pictures. However, I am planning on heading down to the race as a spectator. I know a few people running the marathon and half-marathon so hoping to catch a glimpse of them and cheer them on. Good luck to Eric, Diane, Mark, and Rich on Sunday.

The race starts at 7a. Which, in the back of my mind, is why I was dragging my feet in signing up. I was thinking of doing the half marathon as it's a bit different than the course they use for the Philadelphia Distance Run in September. Still, it will be nice to watch a race instead and be a part of the buzz of the crowd. I am planning on going to the Expo tomorrow to check out the sites and sounds.

Well, Steve(Runner) and I are having a rematch. This time it's a five mile race in Whitinsville, MA on Thanksgiving Day. I think Steve has a good chance of beating me. I have been running since Valley Harvest and actually have been feeling pretty good in my runs. But, they tend to be shorter runs so haven't kept up the mileage that I think he's doing. Still, if I beat him two in a row? Well, there will be no living with me as I will have to give him 'subtle' reminders during the winter of this fact. :-) (Do you think 'Dear Slowpoke:' is a little too subtle?) I'm looking forward to the race and catching up with Steve for a few hours on Thanksgiving.

Swimming has gone by the wayside a bit (ok, fully). Realistically, I hope to pick that up in January again. But, I learned a lot this year in swimming so maybe I can get up to speed a little bit quicker this time. I have made it my goal to play racquetball once a week since the half marathon ended and I have stuck to that. Might be a little tough to do that over the holidays but still plan on trying at least. It's a great way to keep me motivated in the winter.

Lastly, thank you to the reader from Redlands, CA who was the 10,000th visitor to my blog since I began keeping track. (The site counter below will tell you different but that keeps track of unique visitors) Now, some blogs will reach that milestone in a few days/weeks/months. It took me awhile and, in truth, I was probably responsible for being 5000 of those visitors by correcting mistakes. Still, I want to thank you all for taking the time reading this blog and posting any comments good or bad. It's not always interesting but then again, neither am I so it's a good reflection of me. :-)

Again, good luck to my friends and all the runners in the Philadelphia marathon/half marathon/8k. Hopefully, I'll have some pictures to post next week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For the 10.2%

I read in the paper, the other day, that unemployment in the United States has reached double digits. That's the highest it's been since 1982. And, they are projecting the numbers not getting any lower anytime soon.

You may have heard this story before (and I apologize upfront if you have) but one of the reasons why I started running because I was unemployed at the time. I realized then that a job is not just a paycheck but it gives you a sense of accomplishment for the day. Even if you hate your job (and, believe me, there were times that I did), I still felt I did my best that day and I could sleep at night knowing that. When you are unemployed, you still want to have that feeling but you don't know where to turn to get it. Sometimes it leads into a downward spiral that is hard to bring yourself back. And, whatever your views are on healthcare reform, I can tell you I'm for it in some way shape or form because when I didn't have it, I was scared to walk outside of my house in fear that I would break something and would bankrupt our future because of my clumsiness. (But, I digress)

I would drop my wife off at the train station in the morning and then go for a run afterwards. At first, it was just a few miles. But, boy, did that feel good. It was breaking new ground for me. And, after the run, I couldn't wait until the next day to run some more. This loss sense of accomplishment of being out of work was now being filled by ability to run further than I ever ran before. This feeling carried me through the day knowing, if I pushed myself in the morning and I didn't die, then there is no reason to believe I couldn't push myself for the rest of the day in finding a job. It was a struggle and, as weeks went by, my enthusiasm waffled. But, looking back I realized it helped me so much get through that difficult time in my life. So much so that my first year of running in races, I would take a moment to pause and think about those families affected by unemployment and say a silent prayer hoping they find the strength to pull themselves through.

I have an idea but not sure how I would go about setting it up (if anyone wants to steal my idea and 'run with it', feel free). I thought about establishing a small charity to cover entry race fees for those unemployed. I know, personally, I would cut way back on races whenever I was out of a job. It was a luxury not a necessity. Yet, I know most people are more motivated to train if there is a future race they have signed up for. My charity would cover that race fee provided the person would be willing to train for the event. Now, the person can't ask for a race fee the day of the race. But, it would be a long term goal so that person can find the motivation to get up every morning, and, in the end, have that sense of accomplishment they might be missing in their lives. The name I thought of, for the charity, was the Run Fund. Like I said, it's an idea and, if you know of someone who knows how to establish charities, please, go for it.

So, if you are one of the 10.2% Americans who are unemployed or someone in another country in the same situation, don't give up hope. Your dreams may be derailed for a bit but, with effort and the right attitude, you can get them back on track. I know it's easier said than done. But, in the meantime, find something else that will help you get back the right attitude. For me, it was running. For you, it might be something else. Take it one step at a time. You will never look back once you have done it.

(Notes: Click here to read an article in the November 11, 2009 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer about a different approach to running. Steve(Runner) has mentioned this in the past in his podcast and thought about attempting it in the Valley Harvest Half marathon. I can understand the thinking behind it, and I agree that shoe companies probably overengineer some of their products but I don't think I could run without shoes.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Can't Believe a Mario Bros Beat Me

It was a dark and stormy night......

Ok, it really wasn't but it was warmer than normal with intermittent showers on Halloween morning. Below are some pictures before the race of the Skeleton Skurry 5k in Hatboro, PA. The Mario Brother that beat me was a friend of mine from kindergarten/grade/high school that ran the race that day with his family. The funny thing was he is the same guy that tapped me on the shoulder at Philadelphia Distance Run to say hi. I didn't know he was going to run this race either. Just turned out that way.

Race was a lot of fun especially with all the people dressed up. Some people were very clever with their costumes. I have no idea how they ran in them. Please enjoy the pictures below.

(The start of the race at Pennypack Elementary School)

Sunday morning after the race, my cat Fiona died. She had cancer for the past few months. I am grateful the doctors at Buckingham Animal Hospital were able to extend her life for a time for us to say good-bye. I was never a cat person growing up but her and our other cat, Hannibal, were a joy to have. (Hannibal died a few years back.) We had Fiona for seventeen years. This morning, when I woke up, it was the first time in quite awhile that I didn't have to feed her when I was home. I will miss the routine of saying good morning to her and giving her treats before I said good-night to her. I will miss having her around as most times when I would post this blog she would be at my legs wanting her ears scratched. She will be missed and not to be forgotten.