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.