Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Much to My Surprise....

Ah, Florida.  The sun, the beach, the palm trees, the COLD?????

Yup.  I was in Florida over the weekend and it was a bit nippy.  Not just Florida nippy.  But, anywhere nippy.  Temps went down into the 40's, which wasn't too bad.  It was the wind that went with it that made it a bit chilly. 

While I was there, I thought it would be a good idea to run one more 5k race for the year.   I've only run two previously this year and found one in Daytona Beach, just a half hour from where I was staying.  Paint the Towne Palmer College 5k starting at the Jackie Robinson Ballpark on City Island at 8a. 

As you'll see from the pictures and video, people were bundled up. 

The course was through the historic district of Daytona Beach and was flat.  Very flat.  The biggest hill was the one you see on the video when we crossed the bridge to the finish line.  I kept on thinking, 'boy, I wished I was in shape.  This would be a perfect course for a PR.' 

I finished in 91st place with a time of 26:47.  Not bad considering.  I always liked to hang around for the awards just in case.  Good thing I did.  Much to my surprise, I finished third in the Male 50-54 age category.  Now, let's put this in perspective.  If I was any other category older than me, the only age group I would have finished in the top three was the Male 70-74 age group.  So, it was one of the those days I was in the right place at the right time. 

Pictures and video from the race below (and my award).  Enjoy!

Entrance to the field

Where you pick up the numbers

Bridge you cross at the finish

Jackie Robinson Ballpark (Home of the Class A Daytona Beach Cubs)

The finish

After the race

Not a great picture but my third place award
The finishing line
Kid's run

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Tribute To My Father

I am trying to adjust.  This new way of thinking, living, doing.  You see, my father passed away earlier this month.  And, even now, almost 4 weeks later, I still can't believe it.  I think it's all a bad dream.  I relive over and over the last conversation we ever had.  Not knowing, it would be our last conversation.  Talking about how great he felt, about my garden, the weather, and not having to cut my lawn for three weeks because of the lack of rain over the summer.  I want to remember every word we said to each other that night but I can't.  Because I thought I was going to talk to him again.

I did talk him.  In the last hours of his life.  I told him that I loved him and he was the best father a son could ever hope for.  He didn't respond.  He couldn't respond.  But, I was assured he could hear me.  And, I thought to myself, 'why didn't I tell him all those things when he could understand?'  Because, in my family, you didn't say it in words.  You said it in actions.  And it was understood because you can see the love in the things we do for each other.

In the first 80 years of his life, my father was never in a hospital.  Not even when he was born.  The family story was my grandmother refused to pay the doctor when he showed up at the house because he wasn't there when my father was born.  ('Why should I pay?  You didn't do anything!')   But the last two years were very difficult for him.  We joked with my father and told him he saved up all his sick time for the those years.

He fought a brave fight.  Never complained.  Okay, only once.  When he couldn't get his driver's license earlier this year.  He didn't want to be reliant on my mother to drive him to get his haircut.  Wanted to do it himself.  Even though he could barely walk. 

The night he was dying, we looked in the Bible for words to comfort us.  We found, what we thought, were the exact words to describe my father in 2 Timothy 4:7:

I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith:

Dad, I will miss your wisdom, your kindness, your advice, and your love.  I will miss talking about the weather, the garden, the Steelers, fixing things around the house and fishing.  I could never have asked for a better father than you.  The pain is over, Dad.  Rest in Peace.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Three Sons

(Ernie, Robbie and little Chip)

On September 6, 2010 between the hours of 8:30-11:30p, my dog, Ellie Mae, gave birth to three boys.  We named them Robbie, Chip and Ernie, in reference to the 'sons' on the 1960's TV show, 'My Three Sons'.  Two of the 'boys' were healthy and strong.  One of them, Chip was a preemie.  We knew it was going to be a struggle to keep him alive and healthy.  But, my wife and I decided it was worth the effort and we had to take the responsibility to do so.

For the first week, it wasn't so bad.  Little Chip would get pushed around when he was nursing so we had to keep an eye on him to make sure he was getting his share.  As added nourishment, we were told tube feeding him as a supplement would be good.  We were nervous about doing this as putting the tube in wrong could go down his lungs instead of his belly.  But, after awhile, we got comfortable with what we were doing.

The second week, something changed.  Chip was no longer nursing and was strictly relying on the tube feeding for his meals.  No matter how hard we tried, he wouldn't take his mother's milk.  We had to tube feed him every 4 hours day and night to keep him alive. 

It was hard.  Boy, was it hard.  My wife would set the alarm in the middle of the night and we would both feed him.  One of us would stay with the puppies to make sure they were ok at night.  Little Chip, whose legs and arms weren't fully developed yet, struggled to keep warm and would cry at night as to find his brothers to lay next to them.  We then had to pick him up and have him snuggle to one of his siblings, which would quiet him down.  Until they moved, and we would have to do it again. 

As time went on and I grew more tired by the day, I realized that my past marathon training really was helping me get through this time.  I knew I couldn't give up.  That, this would end at some point and, if I kept going, the reward would be at the end of the adventure.  So, through the tiredness, we pushed on because we felt little Chip was worth it and would make a good pet someday.  As the days went on, he was gaining weight, grams at a time, but still the weight was going up, not down. 

I wish I could tell you this story had a happy ending.  Little Chip died on Sunday, September 26 in the morning. Nature, indeed,  loves her little surprises.  Even though Chip lived for three weeks, he left a mark in our lives, one that we will not soon forget.  In looking back, I can only say we wouldn't have done it any other way except change the outcome. 

So, those who are thinking about doing a marathon or are training for a marathon, know that what you are doing is not just preparing for a race but preparing for things in life that will test your patience, your endurance, your soul.  And, at the end, no matter what the outcome, you will be a better person for it. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fat Elvis

Still the mucous monster holds me captive as I enter the third week on what seems to be an endless sickness that I can not shake.  I had to go back to the doctor once again to get another round of anti-biotics and to be scolded (in a nice way) that I shouldn't have stopped my inhaler just because I misplaced it.  The good news is I am breathing once again, albeit, with some periods of utter clogginess that has to be cleared.  I am being faithful to the doctor's orders this time and am taking my meds as prescribed.  Again, I say, I am SO glad I am not running Sunday's the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon (nee' Philadelphia Distance Run) as I would be pulling my hair out now worrying about whether or not I should run it afterall.  Luckily, I can sleep in and take care of my health.  (To those who are running, the very best of luck.  It seems they have changed the course this year and the last 4 miles will be on MLK Drive, not Kelly Drive).

But, the lack of races doesn't bother me one bit, though, in truth, I thought they should.  So, why isn't it bothering me?  There is a special edition of Rolling Stone out that names the Top 100 Beatles Song.  I saw Paul McCartney this past summer and he talked about some of the meanings to the songs he wrote as a Beatle.  This peaked my interested as to the origins and inspirations of other songs, so I purchased a copy of the magazine. 

I had the magazine for awhile but, late one night while not being able to sleep, I picked it up and started reading about each song.  There was a picture in it of 'the boys' that John Lennon talked about later in his life as he mentioned he didn't particularly like.  He remembered there was so much going on in his life at the time when the picture was taken, that he wasn't taking care of himself at all and, frankly, didn't care how he looked.  He admits this being the 'fat Elvis' period of his life. 

And, so it is with me.  Not that I've gotten fat.  Maybe a little.  But, since the beginning of the year, I couldn't drive my life with an exercise regime or race schedule.  There were too many other things pulling at me that I didn't want to be responsible for yet something else.  I wanted to let go and have a 'fat Elvis' running period of my life.  If I ran, I ran.  If I raced, I'd race.  But, I didn't want to look at calendars or charts or calories.  

I will one day.  I promise.  I see my friends improving their running while I muddle about.  I'm envious.  That's good.  I think about what location I can go to in order to run a fall half marathon, or, dare I say, a marathon?  So, there is hope.  I just need to be 'fat Elvis' a little longer.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Yearly Tradition Continues

Though I love this time of year when the weather gets cooler, there is one downside.  Every year, I seem to get sick just before August ends.  This year was no exception.  I'm not sure if it's the change in temperature (though, in truth, was very little change in temperature over the past week as it's been freakin' hot all summer long) or what happens to be flowering this time of year (ragweed, maybe?).

It irrititates me to no end when I'm training for something like the Philadelphia Distance Run (now known as the Rock n Roll Half) and get sick.  Panic mode sets in as when to go out again without coughing up a lung.  Luckily, I have nothing like that on the horizon so I'm just sitting on the sidelines until breathing becomes more of a normal activity rather something optional.  By the way, the diagnosis was bronchitis and very strange how it all happened.

Wednesday of last week, I woke up with a minor sore throat.  'Uh-oh', I thought, 'here it comes.'  It starts out as a cold or persistent allergy symptons.  But, I'm a mere speed bump for colds as it quickly develops into a sinus infection before long.  And, so, it was no surprise when I started coughing on Thursday but well enough to carry out the day at work.  By Friday, well, you have to make a choice here.  Do you tough out over the weekend or go to the doctor and nip in the bud right away?  I'm not one of those people that hem and haw about visiting doctors.  Nope.  Fix me up and get me back out there again as fast as you can.  So, off to the doctor I went.

He listened to my chest, looked at my ears, nose, throat and said, 'well, it's not pneumonia.'  I started at him blankly as I didn't even know that was an option we were discussing.  "OK,' I said, what is?' expecting to hear sinus infection.  'You are borderline bronchitis,' he stated.  What?  How does one become borderline bronchitis having feeling sick for just over a day?  But, there it was and here I am now.

I feel better now.  Sort of.  I can function on most things.  Though eating ice cream is a bit of trick.  (Let's just say it was a kin to having diarehha of the nostrils.)  A couple of more days and I'll be out again soon enough.   

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 Spring Mill Athletic Ivyland 5k (The Pancake Race)

I just looked at my running history and I had a 'I had no idea' moment.  You see, this past Saturday, on August 21, 2010, I ran the Spring Mill Athletic Ivyland 5k.  Every year, I try to run this race as it was the first one I ever did on my long list of races through the years (ok, I DID run in 3.5 mile Corporate Challenges in New York City in the late '80s/early '90s but my 'training' would be running for about a month before the event).  What I was looking up was, what was the year of that first race I did?  Guessing 2005?  No, that doesn't seem right.  I was close.  It was 2001.  Wow.  Almost 10 years of entering races.   That was two age groups ago.

Ivyland, Pennsylvania is the smallest borough in Bucks County with a land area of .3 square miles and a population of less than 500 (according to the 2000 census).  Even though it's tiny, it is steeped in history from signers of the Declaration of Independence from the area to NASA lunar astronauts training at the Johnsville Naval Station only a few miles from the course. 

Of course, the other reason to run this race are the pancakes after the race.  The race is associated with the local peach festival and it's origin was to promote that event.  But, the race has taken on a life of it's own as, locally, it's known as the pancake race.  The local firefighters will serve you a helping of pancakes along with coffee, orange juice and peaches.  (Winners of the age groups got spatulas for their own pancake races.)  When I ran the first time, some 9 years ago, I thought ALL races would be serving up pancakes.  I was disappointed in my next race when I got a few brouchures but nothing to eat!  With the T-shirt, you get all of this for a very reasonably priced entry fee of $15.  Seriously, I love this race.

My race report will be short.  I ran slow.  Slowest I've ever run this race.  But, in truth, I didn't want to push myself.  Officially, I ran the race in 27:59 (I question that official time as I know I was past the finish line and clock at 27:56.  Won't squabble over three seconds) .  First mile, is through the town of Ivyland and a small housing development which I ran in about 8:45.  The second mile, geez, that's the killer.  Seriously, it is all uphill except maybe 100 yards at the top. It's not a steep hill but it just doesn't quit.  Looking at my Garmin, I did that second mile around 9:15.  The third mile?  Well, you know the hill I was just talking about?  You go down it, through the housing development and a few blocks into 'downtown' Ivyland.  For some reason, I almost think that downhill is tougher than the uphill.  You want to shift into high gear there but, every year, I still thinking I'm recovering from that uphill and get stuck in neutral.  

My time was almost 2 minutes faster than my previous 5k I ran in early July.  Of course, that race was run on Wednesday night with temperatures reaching 97 degrees (F).  I felt good about this race.  I don't have my game face on this year.  Slowly but surely, I'm getting there.  It will all click together I'm sure.  And, when it does, watch out Eric and Chief.  I'll be gunnin' for ya!

Side note to this event---The race was on Saturday but you can go and register in person on Friday night, which I did.  As I handed in my registration, the event director looked at my name and said, 'You're Steve Runner's friend, aren't you?'  There is no use denying it so I said yes, I am.  Her son was with her and she said, 'we both listen to his show.  We enjoy it so much.  Especially, when he beat you in that race!!!!  That was so funny.'  That race, to this day, haunts me personally and will forever haunt me while the internet is still alive!  But, her son turned to me and said, 'his show has changed a lot recently.  He's more mellow now.  I liked it better when he was more self-absorbed.'  I had to laugh.  What a smart kid he is!!!!  :-)  Steve was invited to do a podcast report in a future race.  Luckily, Steve likes pancakes so it shouldn't be too hard to get him here.   

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts from a Grumpy Old Man

This posting has nothing to do with running but, I have a place to rant, so why not? 

I have found a problem with social media.  It doesn't lend itself to debate.  The art of conversation and true discussion is lost.  And, the world and it's people can only tolerate 10 seconds sound bites or short quips to make their point.  For example, I have a friend who showed a clip of a movie whose subject is about the United States increasing national deficit on his Facebook page.  If you have ever seen a Michael Moore movie, well, let's just say it is an anti-Michael Moore film. 

I commented basically saying that, 'I understand people's concern over the deficit and how this will affect people's grandchildren but didn't Ronald Reagan increase our national deficit at an alarming rate as well and people thought the world was coming to an end then?   Politicians always seem to use the national debt as part of scare tactics.'  Strip all the politics aside, I was really interested in finding out if the two eras were similar or different.  But the answers to my comment was basically, 'well, Obama is a poopy-head'.  Sigh.  This is helpful?

The world of media, my first love growing up, has changed so drastically since I was young.  There is more concern about Lindsay Lohan's prison time than flooding in Pakistan.  News commentators are considered 'real' when they are nothing more than entertainers.  All of them.  And, to paraphrase Allen Iverson, 'Mosques?  We're talking about mosques?'  Really?  Does it truly show how patriotic you are if you take one side or another?   Where are we getting our information from and should we really trust it anymore?

Below are links to three articles I recently read voicing my frustration over the world we live in.  It is sad we cannot compromise and find solutions without looking like we are 'caving in' to the other side.  I hope people realize the way media (social, mainstream, seems to be all.) is set up now, we are all lemurs jumping off cliffs when they tell us so.  My suggestion is to find alternatives to Fox, msnbc, CNN because they will just scare you to death.  But only if it increases their ratings.

Who decides the News?  by Kara Miller

August:  The Media's Silly Season by Mark Leccese

Consideration seems a relic of the past by Joanna Malloy

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Another Day on the Lake

It's been awhile since I ran around Lake Galena.  Not run AT Lake Galena, which I do most every week with my wife.  But, run AROUND Lake Galena, which is an approximately 6 mile run.  However, hints of autumn are in the air, which means it soon will be winter, which means getting out for a 6pm run on a weeknight in an area that doesn't have street lights will soon be a thing of the 2010 past.  It was time.  The Blue Dawgs needed to meet at the lake for a weeknight run even though the furthest I've been going is about 4 miles and the temps were in the 90's (F).  No matter.  I'll go as far as I can then walk/run the rest.  It will be a fun evening.

Of course, lots of the Blue Dawgs are vacationing now so Eric, Mark, and myself met up in the usual parking lot by the boat house where you can rent a boat and enjoy a relaxing time drifting, paddling, kayaking, fishing on the lake. 

We started off talking amongst ourselves for the first mile.  After the first mile, Eric (whom, we believe, discovered the Fountain of Youth as he is kicking Chief's and my butt all over the place this year) picked up the pace and started to pull ahead.  Mark and I ran together for the next mile until we got to the Nature Center and I had to run in and get a drink of water.  At the Nature Center is the beginning of the only real hill around the lake.  But, the real hill is over a half mile in length at a 8 percent grade.  On a hot, muggy night, I needed to take a short break before tackling it.  So, Mark continued on while I ducked in the Nature Center to the water fountain.

I knew I was not going to run the entire four miles left out there.  I knew that going into the run that night.  So, I ran when I felt like, walked when I felt like but only to take a break from the humidity. 

Along the way, I saw four teenage boys goofing around on a rowboat.  Three were sitting down, one was standing up rocking the boat.  The three sitting were calling the guy standing 'George Washington' in reference to the Emanuel Leutze's famous painting of 'Washington Crossing the Delaware'.  And, of course, none of them had lifejackets on.  This, I thought, was a recipe for disaster.

As I was finishing up the run, legs now heavy, probably more from my insistence of not bringing along water on a 6 mile run rather than being THAT out of shape, I looked to the lake and saw people swimming in the lake.  'That's strange', I thought.  'I don't remember ever seeing anyone swimming in the lake before.  Must be for an open swim class.  But, at 7 o'clock at night?'  That's when I heard the first cries of help.

Now, I'm a male and, at one time, was a teenage boy (long, long time ago) so I am guilty as of anyone horsing around.  So, when the first cries of help went out, I was a bit skeptical.  But, the cries of help following sounded more sincere.  And, more panicky.  And, there was a flipped over boat in the middle of them.  Oh, boy.

A group of girls, whom we first saw running ahead of us when we started out and I assumed were from a local high school cross country team, went towards the boys in the lake.  Their coach, ran up towards me saying, 'I'm calling 911.'  I thought about jumping in the lake but was afraid my legs would cramp up before I could get out to them.  They didn't seem to be in immediate danger as they were treading water and no one seemed to be struggling only scared.  So, I jumped in my car and headed for the park ranger station.  Along the way, Mark and Eric, who were sitting at a bench unaware of the situation before I told them ,went down to the lake to see if they could help.  The ranger station is about a mile away, and, unfortunately, no one was there.  So, back to the spot to see if there was anything I could do. 

By the time I got back, there was a motorboat out on the water with the boys in the boat.  Then the police arrived.  Then, the EMT.  Then, the fire truck.  All because they were goofing around.

Now, I am glad no one got hurt.  Really, I am.  And, there were some scary moments.  But....

How stupid of them to do it in the first place?  Maybe it's because it's been so many years since I was a teenage boy but I don't ever remember goofing around so much and taking that type of risk.  I'm not saying I never went out on a boat without a life jacket but I knew I was capable of swimming to shore in an emergency.   To bring out the police, emergency squads and fire trucks.  Never, ever did I do something THAT stupid.  I don't know if they broke any laws but stupidity should be against the law and they should have had the book thrown at them.   Not only did they put themselves at risk, but those trying to help alogn with the emergency teams to help save them.  UGH!!!!!  I didn't stick around to find out what happened to them but the police were still there and they hadn't left yet so I'm guessing they were none to happy about it either.

I'm hoping my next run around the lake won't be so eventful.

Notes:  Good luck to the Falmouth Road Race runners on Sunday.  I was lucky to have run this race so many times in the past and it was always a great time hanging out with SteveRunner for the weekend.  It was part of the summer I looked forward to.  The day will come when we can renew our rivalry once again.  In the meantime, I've been wanting to see Paul McCartney in concert forever.  This weekend, I will get my chance. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Cost of Running

For the past few years, I have run around 14 races a year.  And, like most years, I didn't realize I raced that many times until after the year was up and I entered them in my Excel spreadsheet.  And, I wondered, how much did that cost me to run those races?

In truth, I budgeted for those races so it didn't hurt me economically.  And, for some of the local big races (Broad Street Run, Philadelphia Distance Run, for example), I was part of a corporate team so my company paid my entry fee.  But, in these times, the corporation has decided to not to field a team for those events.  And, my situation has changed a bit, so that most races are becoming a luxury item for me. 

But, even if it hadn't, is a 5k really worth $25-35 entry fee?  Is a half marathon or marathon worth over a hundred dollars?   I guess, it depends.

I would say I would be in the distinct majority saying that races have become too expensive.  But, most people will complain, hold their nose and pay the entry fee anyway.  I have yet come across a race that participation is lower than the year before.  And, like any good business, the race charges as much as the people are willing to pay.  And, still they come.  To paraphrase my favorite Yogi Berra quote, people stopped going because it gets too crowded. 

What would be worth giving up?  A tech shirt?  A medal?  Less water stops?  A free meal after the race?  Those things, as you might guess, cost money.  And, people want that cool tech shirt and that cool medal and that meal after the race.  Don't they?

Races aren't just run on their own, so to speak.  They have to compete with other races for your attention.  In some instances, they have become a tourist destination.  In more local terms (much more local), they are a social gathering. 

But, this year, I had to step back and ask myself is what I'm getting out of the race really worth the entry fee?  Afterall, you can run a 5k, 10k, half marathon, heck, even a marathon for free.  And, in truth, there was one particular race last year that was a light bulb moment for me.

I happened to be in San Francisco in December on business last year.  And, the local running club held a 4 mile race in the shadows of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Near Fisherman's Wharf.  With no official numbers.  Just tags identifying the runners.  And no T-shirts.  Unless you wanted to purchase them separately.  And we ran on the sidewalk. No local cops blocking the streets.   Early enough that it wasn't too crowded.  And, you ran two miles until you saw the chalk mark on the sidewalk telling you to turn around.  And, I got a ribbon for finishing the race.  I was timed by an official looking clock.  And, it cost me $5 for the whole experience. 

Granted, the race was in San Francisco and if it was any place else, I'm not too sure I wouldn't be complaining rather than praising.  But, I started to wonder, did I have any less fun in this race than one with all the bling?

So, this year, intentionally or unintentionally, I began to look for inexpensive races or no races at all.  I will tell you that I do miss running races every few weeks.  It helps in motivating me getting out the door to train.  And, in the future, I do intend to make a fall or spring race a tourist destination either for myself or with friends.  But, for now, my wardrobe will suffer as I won't be able to update to too many of this year's fashions. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm not in Kansas anymore

But, it sure felt like it!!!!

Last year, on my baseball halfway-across-the-country trip, I ran a 5k in Kansas.  I was just getting over swine flu but I ran the race nevertheless.  In what I considered, to be the hottest conditions I've ever run a race before.  It wasn't hot but humid as well as I limped in around a time of 32 minutes.

Yesterday, I ran the Moyer & Sons 5k in Souderton, PA in was similar conditions to what my 5k in Kansas was.  Except, the temps at the start of yesterday's race hovered around 99 (F).

My strategy---don't push myself.  Just take it easy.  Afterall, it was my first race of the year.

My goal--run the whole race even the hills at around 30 minutes.  If I ran the whole race, I would be happy.  If I ran it under 30 minutes, even happier. 

I'm pleased to say that I, in fact, did manage to run the whole race even though there were bodies strewn about dealing with the heat.  You could just tell that they had gone out too fast.  Did they struggle.  Boy, did they struggle.

I was the turtle yesterday.  Slow and steady. 

With around 200 yards to the finish, I saw the clock and realized I could beat 30 minutes.  So, I picked it up and started passing people left and right.  And, got in under the wire.  Without blowing a gasket.  I clocked myself at 29:45.  And, I was very happy without result as I still had enough energy to meet up with the Blue Dawgs for Trivia Night at the Blue Dog. 

It's good to be back. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Moyer & Son 5k in Souderton, PA is tonight.  I've been planning on running this race since June.  It would be my first 5k of the year and I've been looking forward to getting out and doing a race this year. 

So, what's the problem.  Well, the high temperature for the day is suppose to be 101 (F).  Granted, it's cooler than yesterday's 102 (F) but not that much.  Do I still run it?

I wasn't going to try for a PR whether it was 101 or 51 (F).  It was just to get out a get a race under my belt.  Didn't care too much about the time (too much, anyway).

So, deciding now on whether or not if it's worth it or just wait until next week's Phil's Tavern 5k. 

I promise I'll be careful. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Where I run (Florida)

I did this one other time but used by cell phone and RAN when I took the video.  The feedback was, THIS SUCKS, or words similar to that.  So, when I was down in Florida running through Smyrna Dunes Park, I took another shot at this to capture where I run when I am down there.

I didn't want to speak over the audio and video to try to capture what it's like to run through this park with the waves crashing in the background.  I start the video on Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, across the Indian River, pan right to see Daytona Beach 10 miles north and then dolly back (sort of) to see the whole park.  I do a 360 of my surroundings and you can see the boardwalk that goes through the park that you run on.  The boardwalk is approximately 1 1/2 miles. 

At the end, you will see a white round dome, which is a NASA tracking station.  Seriously, pretty cool stuff.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Good Sweat

I'm sitting here at the Daytona Beach (Florida) International Airport, in the shadows of the Daytona Speedway, waiting for my plane to take me back to Pennsylvania, so I thought I would share some thoughts.

I had a chance to run about three times down here on the boardwalk that runs through the Smyrna Dunes Park.  The boardwalk goes through a turtle nesting ground area and is about a mile and half long hugging along the ocean.  It's one of the my favorite places to run here or anywhere.  But, it does take some getting used to.

My first run was 3 miles and I was dying.  It is soooo hot when there is no breeze off the ocean and the sun is beating down on you.  The second time I went out, I did 3.7.  Juuuuuust a little bit longer.  And, finally, on the third run, I figured out there is a right way to run the boardwalk.  If you go counter-clockwise you get to see more of the ocean, Daytona Beach in the distance and the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.  But, more important, you get a real nice breeze and the sun is behind you when you are finishing up when the breeze is still. 

So the third time out, I did 4 miles.  And, each time, I was drenched in sweat.  You know the kind.  The kind when, even when you take a shower afterwards, you are still sweating.  At the end of the run, my legs were wobbling, my clothes were drenched, I was hotter than hotter could be but, after I got some water, I felt like I accomplished something.  And, I couldn't wait to run it again the next day. 

For some reason, a run is different, in me, in Florida than it is in Pennsylvania.  If I ran in the same conditions at home, I would be complaining.  But, here, I was loving it.

I would much rather run in Florida in the hot and humid than Pennsylvania in the cold.  It just feels better. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Slowly but Surely

I ran 6 miles yesterday. I ran 4 miles Tuesday. This is a big fat deal for me.

All this year, I have said, 'I'm coming back. Yup. Any day now. I'll be right on the road.' Only not to do so. I have been fine. But there has been some family health issues that I have been dealing with that have zapped my time and energy in dealing with. It has taken an emotional toll on me and running (or exercising) were not tops of my priority list. But, I've said this before and I apologize for doing so again.


Like others I have used food as a substitute for exercise. I looked at life and said, it's too short to not enjoy and I enjoy all kinds of fattening food so why not? Why the f*** not? '

I am now 10 pounds over my normal running weight. I always prided myself for being roughly the same weight as I was when I got married 21 1/2 years ago. Not right now. And, in truth, in some odd way, I had to gain that weight to snap me out of my exercise funk.

What I found, when I have been getting back into running, was the difficulty getting over the mental aspect of it. I would only go a few miles, look ahead over the next 500 yards or so and decide that it's just too hard and start walking. I could not bear down and plow through. Until last Tuesday...

Last Tuesday, I went out on a run on Kelly Drive in Philadelphia. I ran two miles out, turned around, and headed back to my car. For the past few weeks, I would look down Kelly Drive towards Center City and it looked like a looooooooooong way to go, convincing myself I didn't have the stamina. Tuesday, when I did the turnaround, I looked right instead of left and focused on the Philadelphia skyline. Joe, I said, you are going to do this. There is no reason you need to stop. I didn't think of the pain. I started to think of anything and everything else and wanted to enjoy the day.

After the run was over, I felt good. Real good. I felt I had broken a barrier that was keeping me back. And, it was my own doing.

So, slowly but surely, I am coming back to myself I have come to know over the past few years. My biking (did I tell you I got a new bike? White Lightning I call it) has picked up and am challenging myself more. Swimming has been spotty but still getting out when I can. And, I am eyeing either the Moyer & Sons 5k in Souderton, PA on July 5 or Phil's Tavern 5k in Blue Bell, PA on July 14 as my first race of the year.

My problems have not gone away. I'm still dealing with them. But, I'm starting to run again because of the reasons I started in the first place. To help deal with the stress and to make myself feel good again.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

St. John of the Cross School (Roslyn, PA) 1953-2010

I have been going there on weekends and reminiscing. Sitting on the steps and looking out over the playground. Looking at the walls on the outside of the building where I used to flip baseball cards in a child's version of gambling of our life savings away. Looking at the spot where, I swear to this day, I got in trouble for vandalizing the building, though thinking I was being efficient and smart, for banging the cloths used to erase the chalkboards against the wall. The smudge is still there. I guess Mrs. Paris was right.

I could go on and on about the lifetime memories I carry from belonging to this parish and this community. And, part of that is what makes me sad--it truly was the last time I felt a sense of community in my life.

So, these are the last days of my grade school before it closes down for good. So, thank you, St. John's.

Thank you, Sister Joan Bernard
Thank you, Miss Elgin
Thank you, Mrs. Dressler
Thank you, Miss Malloy
Thank you, Sister Amadeus (and Mrs. Adamo, and other substitutes that year)
Thank you, Mrs. Paris
Thank you, my seventh grade nuns whose names I have forgotten
Thank you, Sister St. Michael....

....for helping to make me the person I am today. You have been a great influence in my life and my classmates lives, and, let's face it, for good and/or bad. But, a major part of it, you were.

Looking at the school, it is showing it's age. What once was home for 8 hours a day to thousand of children at a time is now done to a few hundred. The last time alumni can walk the hallways is tomorrow night on June 4.

Good-bye, old school. You will be missed.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Starting Over

It's been too long since we took the time
No-one's to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It's like we both are falling in love again
It'll be just like starting over, starting over --John Lennon

I can see why people might get discouraged when they first start training for a race or just run for exercise. Back when I first started running and racing, my last race of the year would be a November 7.1 mile race at the Mount Hope Estates in Lancaster County, PA. The start/finish of the race was a small winery. They didn't give out T-shirts but wine glasses to all participants. It was a beautiful run through the Amish countryside which, I felt, was a great way to end the season. And, then, for the winter I would play racquetball once or twice a week to keep 'in shape' until middish-late February when I would start running again. (Unfortunately, that race doesn't exist anymore. I think it was folded into another race run in that area around the same time.) But I wasn't running marathons, half-marathons, and, for the most part, hardly anything more than a 10k.

Since then, the Blue Dawgs were formed with the idea of keeping us motivated knowing there will be other people showing up on a cold winter's Wednesday night willing to run the hills of New Britain, PA throughout the season. And, for the most part in the past few years, I was there on those Wednesday nights to be fit enough to participate in the Bucks County 5k spring series races.

But, this year, I went back to my old ways. Partially due to the 80+ inches of snow we had this winter (have I mentioned that once or twice or maybe more?) and other reasons, I took some time off from my running lifestyle. And, since the beginning of March, I started to run again. A few miles a week. Slowly getting back into it. And I mean slowly in so many different ways.

When I started again, I wanted to make sure I didn't overextended myself. And, I also always think I can do the same things I did 30 years ago. So, I set out to run about 3-4 miles with the Blue Dawgs on a chilly Wednesday night. I was TIGHT!!!!!! (and not in a good way). You could've used my hamstrings to play banjo at the Grand Ol' Opry. The next day, I was sore. Everything, including my feet, hurt. I mean I only took off a month and a half!!!!! But, I was discouraged that I felt this way having taken so little time off. I could only imagine those that are just starting out to run and train.

I knew the tightness would eventually go away once I got out there a little more. But, it wasn't the next time out. Nor the time after that. I was showing signs of Plantar fasciitis up until last week so I was concerned that I wasn't even going to be able to run at all this spring. But, again, like everything else, even my feet muscles needed to be stretched a bit. So, having known all this ahead of time and still feeling discouraged, imagine if you didn't know this beforehand? You can almost see why people would give up. I mean, I'm not sore when I don't run and then I'm sore when I run. So, why would I run? (If you are running for the first time, don't give up. There is a lifelong payoff that is hard to measure)

In my mind, at least, as the late, great John Lennon once said, it has been long since I took the time. Time does fly so quickly. This year, for me, it'll be just like starting over.

Monday, March 29, 2010

While I was away.....

To say it's been a long winter in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States is an understatement. It's been a very looooooooonnnngggg winter this year. Over 80 inches of snow in a region where we usually get 20 inches. Plus, I've been dealing with some other issues in life that made it seem that much longer. But, since springs arrival, it's been getting a little better everyday.

So, people have been asking me, what was up with my cryptic blog entry in February? Well, here's the story. Having to deal with the facts from above was bad enough. I hadn't been running, my mind was going blank for a weekly entry on the blog and, afterall, this is suppose to be a running blog, right? I couldn't really write about running if I wasn't running. But I felt obligated to write SOMETHING once a week.

The kicker was when someone hacked into my e-mail account and started to send spam to everyone in my address book. I had to apologize over and over again as I was really embarrassed by what was being sent. I finally got to the point and said, 'Stupid Internet' and decided to walk away for awhile.

Since then, the snow has melted, no more unauthorized e-mails being sent out, still dealing with things in personal life (they just keep coming) but handling it better, and doing some running. A little.

I had time to think about what I wanted to do with this blog going forward. I had time to think about what I want to do about running. My conclusion was I want to keep running (and triathlon training) but not as intense as I have done in the past few years. I want to spend time with my wife on a Sunday morning and just talk. I want time to rest up when I need to. Which is why I haven't committed to any race as of yet. Because if I do, then I will focus on that and do what I need to prepare. I will keep running (and swimming and biking). But, in the meantime, I want to take the time to smell the flowers along the way.

As for my blog, I will continue with it but probably not necessarily on a weekly basis. Best way to describe is from time-to-time. I used to be able to do it more during lunchtime but can't do that as much anymore. For those that have read it in the past, I hope you have enjoyed it and continue to enjoy it.

So, there is one bit of news and that is I am looking for my first bike for triathlon. I borrowed Mitch's from the Blue Dawgs last year but wanted to get my own this year. I am looking for a road (is that the right term?) bike as opposed to a strictly tri bike due to a few factors but mainly cost. So I'm looking at aluminum vs. carbon. Again, mainly cost will be a factor but want to make sure I'm not being short sighted on this. I'm looking for advise to find out if I would be sorry if I went aluminum if my intention is to ride one or two tris a year. (Sprint/Olympic at best).

So, there you have it. I wish you all the luck in the coming spring season.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 CB Family YMCA 5k Video (Bootleg Edition)

First of all, I want everyone to know that this is not the official video of the CB Family YMCA 5k held last Sunday, March 21, 2010. You can find it on the official Bucks 5k Spring Series website. TZ Sports does a great job putting the video together with the music.

This version is me playing with my newer toy (my laptop) with my video editing software. I needed an excuse to use it so here is my take (that's film lingo for those not in the know :-) ) of the race. It's a small start and it doesn't have any music with it. It's in the raw!!!!!!!

You will notice at the beginning that the National Anthem is played before the race. I absolutely love this tradition and it's something Skip S. does when he is running in the race. From all of us competitors, thanks for doing this.

As you may have guessed, I didn't run this race. But, I am coming back. Slowly. More on that later. Hope you enjoy the video.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Shifting of Priorities

Some things have come into my life that have me shifting my priorities on what I can accomplish on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, this blog has moved down, hopefully temporarily, on the priority list of what I can do. Running has been another casualty on that list as well but, with spring and daylight savings time right around the corner, that may change as well.

My feeling is I will be back to writing. It has helped me along the way. If you read me on a regular basis, thank you. I didn't think anyone would and it was nice that people did and left me comments. I still regard you as friends even though I may never have met you. I also have to take my e-mail address off the blog as a precautionary step. Those in my address book may know why and I apologize if I caused you any inconvenience.

Thank you all for your support in the past. I hope to be talking to you soon again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Greetings from Siberia

Being from the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, I always thought we had the best weather overall. In the summer, it gets hot but not as hot as some places in the country. And, in the winter, it gets cold and snowy but certainly not as cold and snowy in places like New England, that's for sure. Well, this winter has been just a little bit different than most.
As it has been explained to us by numerous weather people, massive amounts of cold air from Canada has made it's way South and the same time that massive amount of precipitation coming from the Gulf of Mexico is making it's way North. And, funny enough, it is meeting in the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC area. Not once. Not twice. But three-four times. So, as the Winter Olympics in Vancouver have been crying they don't have enough snow, well, come and take it fellas because there is plenty more where that came from.
Philadelphia, on average, gets about 20 inches of snow per season. This year, Philadelphia, so far, got 70 inches of snow. So, if you live in the Sierra Nevadas you are probably asking what's the big deal? But, around here, well, we just aren't made for these conditions. Two Saturdays ago, we got hit hard with a storm. Which would have been ok if we weren't hit hard last Wednesday with another storm. Which would have been ok if it just melted!!!!! But, the temperatures haven't gone above freezing that much and it just lingers. (The picture above is my sideyard with a path. I had to create that path to get to my backyard. Else, I would have waded in snow knee-deep. For a 6'3" guy.)
Because of all the snow removal operations I have incurred and the craziness of my recent work schedule, running has almost been non-existent for me in the past few weeks, almost for most of the new year. I had great intentions coming in to 2010 but it faded away a bit. I have done some cross-training with racquetball and swimming but I know my cardio won't be there for the start of the Bucks 5k Spring Series, therefore, I will most likely delay the start of my season until April sometime.
And, on top of that, I may need to be a little choosier in the races I run this year. As most people, money is becoming a bit tight. For the past two years, I have averaged about 14 events per year. But, this year, I may have to re-think doing that many. It will be a hard pill to swallow but the money for the entry fees will be needed elsewhere this year. But, on the other hand, each event will have more meaning.
Around here, there are glimmers of spring coming. Reports that Phillies pitchers and catchers are reporting to Florida. Baseball = warm weather. Temps are starting to climb into the 40's (F) for day time highs. Nights, though still chilly, are not being measured by the wind chill factor. And, March is just around the corner.
In the meantime, just in case, I am teaching my dogs how to pull a sled. What does 'mush' mean anyway?
(Notes: If you have been following the winter Olympics on television or are a big fan of the Olympics in general, check out the blog Nicole's 2010 Games. Nicole is a blogger I regularly read and she happens to live in Vancouver. The blog is her take of the Olympics from a native's point of view. I've really enjoyed reading it over the past few weeks. )

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Hall of Famer

I often kid with people that I peaked, in my professional life, at 21. Since, then it's been downhill. Don't believe me? How many people do you know worked for a coach who would eventually win a NCAA Division 1 basketball title (Rick Pitino) and work with someone who was a few electoral votes shy of being President of the United States (John Kerry)? Well, you can add worked with someone who has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame to that list.

Earlier this month, Jon Miller was selected the recipient of the 2010 Ford C. Frick Award and will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. (click here for the story). And, I worked with Jon when I was first out of college at a radio station called WITS.

At the time, Jon was the Boston Red Sox radio play-by-play announcer along with Ken Coleman. WITS was the flagship station for the Red Sox and even had their studios in the Fenway Park complex. I was the producer/board operator for the Boston Red Sox at the time. What was my job? I was the guy who played the commercials, jingles, top of the hour IDs, and sitting in the studio during the ballgame. It was a fun job, especially for a kid straight out of college.

In 1981, the unthinkable happened. Baseball went on strike. No one could believe baseball would ruin the summer for millions of people. There would be no sitting outside on a summer's night listening to a baseball game on the radio. The people in the Boston area were depressed. So, WITS came up with an idea to give the audience their baseball 'fix'.

While the strike went on, Jon Miller 'broadcasted' Red Sox Strat-o-Matic baseball games. So, Jon would play the simulated game first, write down the results inning-by-inning, and then go into the studio to record the 'game'. My job, in working with Jon, was to set up the studio for him to use and help where I could (like play the commericals). It was a wild and crazy idea but amusing to be part of it. Some people loved it, some hated it but Red Sox nation got it's 'fix' of baseball until the strike was over. Click here to hear Jon Miller describe those times in an NPR interview.

Of course, Jon has gone on to bigger and better things as he did play-by-play for the Baltimore Orioles, now with the San Francisco Giants, and ESPN's Sunday Night baseball game. I know Jon will never read this but congratulations, Jon. It is well deserved.

(Notes: This past weekend, the Philadelphia area got socked by a major snowstorm. Philadelphia got 28.5 inches. Bucks County (north of Philadelphia where I live) received about 18 inches or so. Well, tomorrow we are expecting another round of snow with the same amount predicted. If it happens, it will be the snowiest winter in the area's history. I guess the little groundhog was right when he saw his shadow. )

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Turn It Off

Winter, for me, is usually the time for maintaining (somewhat) my endurance. I don't have any particular races in mind but will try things as they come up. Long story short, I'm very boring in the winter as far as running stories or insights or whatever you want to call these blog entries. So, I turn to subjects that are not necessarily related to running but still on my mind nonetheless. Here goes...

I have my political views like everyone else. Don't necessarily like to talk about them mainly because I don't like political arguments. They get too heated for me, sometimes, and I doubt you will change anyone's mind in dealing in political debate. And, as a card-carrying member of AARP, the slogan we follow is, 'well, it was never like that before in my day...'.

Well, it probably was. I like reading about history, especially about early American history. If you think politicians are nasty today, read up on what Andrew Jackson had to endure in the presidential elections he was involved in. But, I digress.

But, it is hard not to notice the mood of the country and how politics is about making the other party look bad and not about finding ways to help the country. Sticking to your principles is the 'right' thing to do, compromising is a sign of weakness. Or, so it seems.

And, why has it come about like this? I could easily say it's the media. But, I don't believe that to be true, not for a minute. Those shows, strictly delivering news, are not the problem. Those channels that have to deliver 'stuff' 24 hours a day, 7 days a week are to blame. They need to have content. They need to have provacitive hosts/hostesses/topics/opinions to draw people in so their audience numbers can go up and they can charge more to advertisers. Nothing wrong with that. But, I think people can get lull into watching these shows, get mad about the topic, and wind up not thinking it through for themselves.

And, it doesn't matter if it's Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Keith Obermann or Rachel Maddow. They all do it. To get your attention. Not to make you think. But, for you to watch more. And, get angry about how 'stupid' the other side is. Well, no more for me.

The DNA of every American male is wired to flip channels in the course of a night. Jerry Seinfeld had a great line that males don't care what's on, they care what ELSE is on. So, I am guilty as anyone in flipping through the channels. And, stop and watch Glenn, Bill, Keith, Rachel, etc. to see what they have to say. And, get angry. Because I can't believe people don't see the wisdom of 'our' side.

But, I made a New Year's Resolution this year to myself. As I flip through the channels (see above, I'm not STOPPING that. That would be impossible. It's part of my genetic makeup) I will not watch News Opinion shows. Why? Because it's not news. Never was. Never will be. It's noise. Plain and simple. And, listening to noise can scare people. But, if you don't listen to the noise anymore, it won't scare you half as much. You can read the facts and form opinions for yourself. You don't need people yelling at you saying, 'I'm right and they are plain wrong.'

And, something else happens. Your blood pressure goes down. And, you feel better about yourself. And, you are not as stressed as before. And, you begin to see both sides of the argument. And, you can see a way forward for this country, this world if only people would be willing to compromise.

So, I'm turning them off. No more. I will not listen to their opinions because it is purely entertainment. They are there to provoke. They are there to fill dead air. They are there to make money. Pure and simple. Nothing wrong with that. But, they do not have a vested interest in making this country, this world a better place to live. And, they will not tell me how I should think. It's only been a month since I've made this committment to myself. And, already I feel much better for doing so.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wish It Could Be Different

Short blog this week. Family and work demands are taking priority at the moment.

I've been blogging now for almost three years. (Yikes!) And, it is a way to keep the creative juices flowing and have a bit of fun with it. I don't go into too controversial topics and keep it as light as possible. I don't have a lot of visitors but, hey, the ones I do have I consider friends even if we never met.


Recently, I was getting some anonymous postings in my comments section that had nothing to do with the topic of the day. I didn't think anything of it at the time and thought it was random. However, it was happening more frequently. Nothing offensive, mind you, but just annoying.

Well, it wasn't going away. And, the anonymous postings (bordering on advertising) were continuing to be posted. But, I was resistent in putting up security.

Well, the time has come that, my bit of fun has got to be more secured. And, I hate the fact that I have to do it. And, the fact there are people out there that will do stuff like this. But, that is the reality in this digital world.

The change is not earth shattering. I am reviewing comments before they are posted. Not that big of a deal. But, again, the fact that I feel I have to do this to protect the integrity of the blog bugs me to no end.

I am hoping this doesn't dissuade you from posting comments. I love comments. Wish I can get more. Just another day in cyberspace.

(Notes: Sunday a week ago, I was going to participate in the 8 mile BCRR Winter Series. Except, when I got out of bed, I couldn't walk 8 feet. My back tightened up and I could barely walk. Took me awhile but it's starting to come around again. I went for a four mile walk/run over the weekend and that seemed to have stretched it out a bit. Congrats go out to my dog, Ellie Mae, as she has recently won her championship. It was a big deal in my family.
RIP--Adam Cartwright a/k/a Pernell Roberts. Bonanza was one of mine (and my Dad's) favorite shows.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

The End of an Era

If you look at the pictures below, it's pretty non-descript. In a town that is pretty non-descript. It was built in the 1950's to withstand nuclear attack from the Russians. And, I remember signs posted outside the building saying it was a Fallout Shelter. It will not be missed by the world in general. But the 50 some-odd classes that have graduated from there, it was the center of their world. Yesterday, I found out that, St. John of the Cross in Roslyn, PA, where I went to school from grade 1-8 will be closing its doors this June. And, I will be very sad to see it go.

But, not surprisingly, the world has changed since I was in grade school. Back when I started first grade, we had 40 kids per class and three classes in our grade. And, that was the same for all 8 grades. There were, about 1000 kids in the school, in any particular year. Now? There are about 100+ kids in the entire school.

Back in the 1950/60s, families were moving out of Philadelphia and moving to towns such as Roslyn and the surrounding area. I didn't live in Roslyn and was considered to be 'living in the sticks' because we had a dirt road and the mailbox was up the street from us. I only lived maybe a 1/2 mile away from the school. But, today, the area has changed. Families are moving further away from Philadelphia (and Roslyn) and new schools are being built there. Schools, such as St. John's, have to try to compete with new public schools being built in the area. We are starting to see consolidation of venerable parochial high schools in Philadelphia that were some of the largest in the country. So, closing St. John's comes as no surprise to any of us.

As I grow older, more and more I try to cling to what was familar to me. Though, there is less and less to cling to. The house I grew up in is still there but you would never recognize it anymore. I once showed a picture of how it looks today to my parents and said I was interested in buying it and what did they think? It took them awhile to notice it was the house they raised their kids in. My grandparents' house in western Pennsylvania was torn down and a new house was built. And, now, my old school is being shut down.

Going to school at St. John's, being part of that parish, being from that area, was the last time I ever felt a sense of community in my life. I have tried, and in reality, do have some sense of community with runners in the Doylestown area. But, back then, what parish you belong to was part of your identity. Our school was revered (feared?) in our athletic programs. Even through high school, you were partially identified by what parish you came from. I'm not sure if it's the same today.

I am sad this day has come though not surprised. The pictures below were only from a few years ago. To me, it looks like the same desks, the same clothes closet, the same blackboards, etc. that I used when I went there (and probably were). I'm hoping over the next few months, there will be some reunions and open houses of the old school. I'm hoping that, somehow, it can remain open as part of the community in the future. I keep thinking how many families sent all of their kids to get an education here. But, no longer. Not after this year. The times they are a-changin'.

(When I was a kid, these hallways looked huge. Back then, it was where I went to first, second and third grade.)

(I'm pretty sure this was my fourth grade class. Except for the positioning of the desks (which would have been facing me), it looks much the same as it did then.)
(Notes: I want to wish a Happy Birthday to my buddy, SteveRunner, who is celebrating, probably something like his 85th birthday or thereabouts this Tuesday. I can' t say for certain he is celebrating his 85th birthday but I'm only guessing by his appearance. Geez, life has been tough on this poor guy. Happy Birthday, Steve. See you in Falmouth!!!!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My introduction to the BCRR Winter Series

It will fun. Seriously, we all have a good time. And what better way to stay in shape over the winter?

For years, this is what I've heard from my fellow Blue Dawgs about the Bucks County Roadrunners Winter Series. And, for years, I've been meaning to go over to Tyler Park and run in a few of their events. But, as the series progressed and the weekends went by and my Sundays were taken up by other things that came up, I never had a chance to do it. Until this past Sunday.

When I woke up on Sunday, I began to read an article in the newspaper about how this is the coldest winter in the US in over 25 years. I turned on the TV to watch the morning news and they talked about how this day was the coldest so far this winter. And, now I know why the Dawgs are Blue. Because it was freakin' cold out!!!! My wife asked me, 'is it safe to run in this cold?' I dunno. I assume people from other parts of the world that were colder ran outside as well. I didn't think I was going to be the only one there. Plus, this was a test of whether it was better to run in the extreme cold or extreme heat.

I left my house around 8:00a for a 9:30a race. My car therometer said it was 16 degrees (F) outside. Damn, that's cold. Now, I have to tell you upfront. This race is equivalent to baseball's spring training for me. I was running to keep in shape for the spring. So, anyone (Chief) who happened to have beaten me (Chief) in this 'race' (Chief), doesn't really count. It would be like Detroit Tigers beating the Phillies in March in Florida. Yes, it happened but who remembers those games (Chief)?

I didn't know the layout of the land so wanted to make sure I had plenty of time in case I got lost. I arrived much earlier than expected and was one of the first to sign in. I have to admit, it was the first time I saw an open fire for warmth in a race. And, in truth, it felt good.

Now, on our Wednesday night Blue Dawgs run, we run a fairly hilly course. All through the years, I heard from the Winter Series runners that, these hills on Wednesday night are nothing compared to the Tyler Park. So, I was expecting the worse.

The race on Sunday was a 5.3 miler. And, apparently, needed to be altered a bit to avoid some snow still on the original course. But, not knowing the course at all, I wasn't aware of these changes and how or if it was going to affect me.

The race starts uphill. My old rival, Chief White, (Chief, I wanted to emphasize OLD here but I won't . This is my birthday present to you) and I were running side by side. Chief was saying how out of shape he was. Really? I kept this little nugget of information in the back of my mind. I got to the top of the hill first and didn't think it was that bad. And, in truth, for the first 4 miles or so of the race, didn't find the hills to be too bad at all. And, all this time, Chief and I were running, if not next to each other, certainly within striking distance of each other. Until....

I should have been tipped off when Chief said, 'We're not running Dairy Hill, are we?' But, it hadn't been that bad up to this point? I was in front of Chief going down the hill. Can't say the same going up. I was having problems WALKING up this freakin' hill (tip of my hat to Kelly for the adjective describing hills in general) let alone running up it. Chief just plowed through and got up the hill a lot sooner than I could. He's out of shape?

From that point in the race, it was literally all downhill. Chief was probably 15 seconds in front of me at the top of Dairy Hill. Oh, I could have probably caught up with him and made it into a REAL race. (Cough, cough). But, why humble the guy? I mean his birthday was coming up and it wasn't a REAL race in my eyes anyway. Why spoil his fun?

I did the 5.3 miles in about 49:10. I was pleased with that considering the freakin' cold and the freakin' hills and I hadn't really run a whole lot since my San Francisco race. And, in the end, having a chocolate covered donut (or two) with some hot apple cider did seem to ease the pain in my legs and my shivering body. Some people at work asked me how did I stand the cold? The answer: I didn't think about it and what I was doing. I just did it. Because, if I took the time to think about it, I would have realized that people don't generally do this type of activity in 16 degrees (F) weather.

This Sunday's race is an 8 miler. I am repenting for my sins of over indulgence over the holidays and the fact I gained a little weight. If it's not raining (much rather run in the cold than the rain), I should be out there. Fun? You betcha!!! And, by the way, it is easier to run in the extreme cold than the extreme heat. Harder to start. But, easier to run.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Goals for the Year 2010!

Let's see. First, my home computer blue screened and is knocking on virtual heaven's door. Soon after, joined by the dishwasher. Then car goes in for state inspection and, viola, $800 later passes inspection. Finally, the final day of the year, my father goes into the hospital with pneumonia. Whew!!! As much as I have enjoyed 2009, I was glad to see 2010 arrive as it can only get better from here. Right?

So, this is the time and place that I announce to the world my plans for 2010. Well, here's the problem (and why it has taken me so long to post this, besides the lack of computer. Yes, this is borrowed for the moment.) I don't have goals this year of a fanfare. Not after last year. Looking back on my post for goals in 2009, I was pretty focused on what I was going to do. This year, well, not so much. But, here goes (in no particular order).

I will tri, tri again. I plan on making triathlons part of my schedule for the year going forward. In truth, I enjoyed doing that (and training for that) more than I do marathon training. I'm back in the pool on Friday. And, what I want to achieve is to learn how to breathe from both sides. I want to tackle this lightheadedness I get when getting out of a pool (or lake). I think I was so overwhelmed by information and instruction given to me last year that I didn't have time to think about it. I just did it and hoped for the best. I needed to get in shape for the swim and didn't matter how I did it. Well, I have some time now to try different things. I'm not in a rush at the moment and don't have to do 50 laps on Friday. I want to get more comfortable and breathe better.

I also am planning on getting my own bike in March. I want to thank Mitch from the Blue Dawgs for lending me a bike last year. And, in truth, I have been bitten by the tri bug and am willing to make the (financial) committment to getting something for myself. I also want to thank my wife who, about 10 years ago, bought me a mountain bike that I used for a year before I started running. I tried riding it to use for the tri but, there is a big difference. It was a Christmas present and I hate to not use it but.....

As it stands now, I want to do Lake Lenape again and stretch myself a bit and, maybe, do an Olympic tri. Beyond that, it will be based on how my vacation and everything else falls into place. But, I don't want the tri of last year to be just a one night fling.

Winter running--Last year, at this time, I was coming off an Achillies problem. And, because of that, I was an admitted slug coming back from the injury. This year, I want to run throughout the winter. I am looking forward to the Wednesday runs with the Blue Dawgs. I want to run some of the races in Tyler Park in Bucks County, PA on Sunday mornings and tackle those hills I keep hearing about. I want to run in Ambler, PA at the Frostbite 5 miler in February. And, I am willing to take all the lumps that come with it as I just started running again, as of yesterday, having taken a month off. I am hoping when the Bucks County 5k Spring Series starts up at the end of March, it will not be a warmup but something I can beat Eric and Chief in. :-)

Falmouth?--For the past two years, one of the goals was to beat Steve at Falmouth and to make sure I was prepared to do so. This year? I'm not sure if I will be doing Falmouth. It's not that I don't want to but I might not take two running trips this year and save my running weekend with Steve for the fall. If you are a sports fan, you know how difficult it is for teams to repeat their accomplishments from the previous year if they have won. Well, last year in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, I proved to myself that my previous one victory over Steve wasn't a fluke and I can do it occasionally. So, to be honest, I'm not as 'hungry' this year to beat him. Not that I won't try but the best way to describe it is that it won't be my focus this year.

Same old, same old--Bucks County 5k Spring Series, Broad Street, PDR (Rock n Roll Half is what they are calling it now), etc., etc., etc. Don't plan on doing anything 'wild' this year. No planned races in faraway distance lands. Except in fall. And, even then, I have a feeling it's going to be fairly local. (I have my eye on Freedom's Run in October but that's only a three hour drive from my house). But, I do want to be more competitive this first half of the year than I was last year.

The blog--I almost quit a few times last year. Changes in my life were making things more difficult to post on a weekly basis. And, in truth, life, in general, had me a comin' and a goin'. And, I saw some of my blog comrades fall by the wayside for various reasons. I was sad to see this as did follow the ups and downs of their lives and felt I was losing friends along the way. But, in most cases, they came back in a different form one way or the other and lived to see another day.

Those changes in my life haven't changed. And, I will be a comin' and a goin' more and more this year. But, as the saying goes, 'when a door closes, another opens'. So, yes, my lack of a home computer at the moment is annoying. But, luckily, I was able to save documents and pictures from it. And, I have a new one on the way. With a webcam. And, picture and video editing software. Hmmm? I don't like giving pearls of wisdom on camera so don't expect to see that. But, I can edit 'Places I Run' into one video so I'm not just showing you a 30 second clip of a start/finish of a run, race, walk, whatever. So, my postings maybe more visual than in the past.

That's it. 2010 is starting to look up for me already. We are all in this together. Support and encourage the people that mean the most to you. Hope everyone meets their goals for the new year.