Seebo's Run

A running commentary on my training and whatever else emerges from that.

My Photo
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, April 29, 2005

"Tough" Track Workout

Tough track workout yesterday. About 5 or 6 reps of 5,000 meters, anywhere from 13:30 to oh about 16 minutes. All that running, watching it that is, really tired me out.

In that somewhat awkward attempt at humor I'm trying to say at the same time that I took yesterday off and that Penn Relays is here.

I took my mom and JD along and met KF, SD, TK and JM there, as well as seeing LG on the way out. I have also since found out that JMac and EM were there as well, and MM was supposed to be there but I never saw him. So much for initial dropping. Every year I go I get new insights into racing by watching these folks. The best races were the Olympic Development 5ks. In the womens race Amy Mortimer ran a 15:48, and I just gawked at her gorgeous stride and seemingly effortless leg turnover as she ran what amounted to a time trial. In the mens 5k, Alan Webb shared the lead with Joseph Koskei until about 200m to go when he flashed his mile speed and blew away Koskei to win in 13:30. Last 400m was in 58 seconds.

Penn Relays is always a good cure for when I think my running is hot shit - to see guys who run faster than I could ever aspire to finish dead last after being lapped by the leaders.

So back to my comparably mundane running, E and I ran another Merion loop - the same loop we ran Wednesday only out to 56th (instead of 55th) street, and put in about the same effort as we finished the six miles in 50:25. Weather was nice to run, otherwise uneventful.

E is running the Broad Street Run on Sunday, as is virtually everyone else I know in the local running community. I can't make it due to T's First Communion, but I might run a local 5k tomorrow morning provided logistics and my legs are willing.

To all reading this who are running BSR, good luck to you and I'll be checking your names out in the race results when they are posted online.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


So today was perhaps the last sign that running is back to its normal routine after Boston, I returned to the my usual 6am run w/ E.

We ran up 46th St. through the new public housing subdivision and out to Merion Ave, took it to 55th St. and then back home through West Philly neighborhoods that don't see runners very often. Its amazing how big West Philly is, with blocks and blocks of blocks that are around but which I've been oblivious to all these years I've been here. This has made running over the last few months akin to exploring.

Speaking of exploring, a story in the paper says that a team broke Robert Peary's record for fastest trip to the North Pole. The amazing thing about this is that Peary's record had stood since 1909. I know that because Peary used to be one of my heroes in elementary school.

Idea of the morning: integrate the Wing-a-thon with the Broad Street Run and make it a duathlon event.

6 miles in 49:06. Hopefully the hardest thing I will have to do all day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Mean Streets?

I took yesterday off as my legs really felt shot after the 9 miler on Sunday. Recovery is nice as each run becomes a game day decision.

Today is just too nice a day not to run. I took off from USP at lunchtime and instead of turning right on Woodland I turned left, into the heart of SW Philly. Running through here I thought of how this is a place that runners warn other runners not to run in. I think this says more about the runners than the area, as I found the traffic to be much more threatening than the people. Which brought me to my next thought, that why do we as runners tend to emphasize the threat of injury from violence over the threat of injury from automobiles. I think the latter is really much more likely to happen, and is why I'd much rather ran in SW Philly than on the Main Line.

This is the first time I've run up Woodland at any time other than the early morning. The street really has a much different character at noon than at 6am. Lots more people about, and although the business area around 54th is as dead at noon as it is at 6am, the business area on 60th is surprisingly alive and seems to blend the old-style mainstreet business with a newer shopping center. One Jamaican restaurant had reggae music blaring and lunch smells filling the air.

From Woodland I went up Cobbs Creek Parkway and then back on Chester, somehow ending up on Kingsessing and taking that back to USP. I don't think I've ever been on that part of Kingsessing, even in a car.

Call it 6 miles, which was about 1-2 miles longer than I wanted to go, but I underestimated the distance of this loop. Total time was 47:26 and I now have one minute to get to a meeting.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Recovery Run

I ran home from St. V's this morning. I went over the Falls Dr.-Conshohocken Ave. hill instead of down Kelly Dr. to cut off about a mile from the course. Call it 9 miles in 74:57.

Feels good to write that, like things are getting back to normal. The run felt long and there still is alot of crud in my legs from last Monday. It felt like the last 9 miles of a 20 miler, so I paced it accordingly.

In the week or two that my running routine has lapsed the leaves have sprouted and everything is much greener. Also cloudy and cooler today - could have used these conditions a week ago. Made some turns off of my regular way home to run down 45th and 46th St. north of Haverford and through the suburban-style developments that have replaced the public housing hi-rises. Its spooky as no one has moved in yet and everything looks so shiny and new. While anything is better than those old projects, I don't know how excited I am to have the neighborhood transformed into a subdivision.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Marathons & the Meaning of Life

I'm back from Houston. Did some consulting for a conference called the Homeless Policy Academy. One of those trips where you go from airport to hotel and then back to the airport, and get no sense of what city you are really in. The hotel had a fitness center and I got in 3-mile workouts on the hamster wheel (25:10 and 23:40) both days I was there. I feel more or less recovered. I'll take it easy for the next few days, including today because I want to and tomorrow because I'll be in NYC all day as M is playing a gig there.

Doing all this traveling since Monday has given me a chance to do a lot of thinking on Mondays race. Thinking while staring out into space and trying to make some sense out of training all winter for a race that takes place on a hot, windy day which practically guarantees a subpar performance. I wish I could share some wisdom that I've brought down from the mountain but there isn't any. Its just taken me to a very existential place, where fairness is irrelevant and any meaning lies in the training and not in the race. So why am I racing at all?

And why am I already thinking about a fall marathon? On a course thats flat and in a place and date that almost guarantees cool weather. Ideal conditions (like I haven't had in my last six marathons) that will give me a good shot at one more big pr before I get too old to be going for the bloody things. So I'm thinking either Europe or Canada: Berlin, Amsterdam, Toronto or some place like that. I'm moonlighting in July teaching a class at Penn and I'm thinking that would get me the trip money. But right now its still in the dreaming stages.

Its time to move forward, and to put closure on last weekend I'll post some pictures and add some narrative. Even if I hadn't raced, it was a great weekend. The family and KF, who became an honorary family member (somewhere in between kid and adult), left on Saturday morning early enough for us to stop over at my Mom's in upstate NY for lunch (awesome lentil soup and a platter of cold cuts) and a birthday present of a pair of binoculars. Pic 1 is a family shot:

As soon as we got to Boston KF and I got down to business, as we dropped the kids off at the hotel and headed back up I-90 to Newton, where we drove the course from mile 15 to mile 21 several times to get a good mental picture of the hills. In my prior two races I had never figured out where exactly Heartbreak Hill was until I was done with it, and so we scoped each of the four hills in turn, as well as "Hell's Alley," the uphill part that takes you from Lower Newton Falls to the firehouse. The hardest part of doing this was looking for the John Kelley statue, which we finally found, thanks to C's excellent spotting, behind some shrubs across Comm Ave from City Hall. John Kelley's presence still looms large over Boston in spite (or because) of his recent passing, and here KF and I pay our respects:

The next day started with the 2.6 mile "Freedom Run" which we decided would be our family run for April. This is a fun run through the Commons/Downtown area put on by the BAA I think in most part to keep the runners from clogging the streets over the course of the day. M got a pass because she had been sick and still wasn't feeling too good, but here are the rest of us:

From there it was off to the expo and then back to the hotel to get the kids and go to Fenway. We had seats in the right field bleachers for the game against the Devil Rays (the Sawks won 3-0). My new binoculars came in very handy. Lunch was hotdogs, soda and peanuts (none of which was on Greg's day-before-the-marathon list of lunch foods) and we baked lazily under a strong hot sun like a bunch of raisins. Its funny how I never even thought of this as an ominous sign for race day.

Then back to the hotel where T thought he could vedge and watch Cartoon Network, but we promptly turned around and went to dinner at Strega's, a little Italian place in the North End. M and C were into the pictures of various celebrities who have eaten there (Soprano's cast members, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, etc), T's eyes kept drifting to the banks of TVs they had showing scenes from various mafia movies, and I really got into the Casarecci di Marina, with some kind of spiral homemade pasta and eggplant in it. Excellent food and just the right size portions to get me and KF feeling appropriately carbed up.

The next morning we were off on the bus that Bryn Mawr Running Club chartered to go up to Hopkinton, a little perq that alone is well worth the club membership. When we got to Hopkinton around 9am it was already sunny and breezy. KF and I hung out in the bus for awhile, walked around the athlete's village a bit, and then went to the home of some folks who have a prerace party for the Shawmont Running Club to which I got invited through SD, who I know from USP. The hospitality was excellent as was hanging out in their kitchen, chatting with SRC folks, watching prerace TV coverage and having the luxury of indoor plumbing close at hand. This is a group photo of all of us:

Then it was off to the corrals. I met IC in the first corral, where in the midst of a tribute to John Kelley, the national anthem, and the fighter jet flyby the reality set in that it will be hot and windy on the course. I went into the details of my race in my last blog entry so I won't repeat myself. The one consolation was that bad conditions for running made ideal spectating conditions and the fan support, always legendary, was the best that I'd seen in my three Boston runs.

I got the next two photos off of a website where some guy took literally hundreds of race shots and posted them as a public service (with all the karma that should rightfully go his way). The first shot is at mile 1 and the second shot is at 30k:

I amused myself earlier by finding out the finishing times for the race numbers of the guys around me in the first shot. I got to the one mile mark in about 6:10 and most of the folks would get faster 5k times than I did (mine was about 19:20) although many of them then ended up with slower finishing times. IC showed me how the elites all ran several minutes slower than their running times, and Kevin Beck estimated that the conditions added about 5 minutes to the times of the people he was following who finished. That would be about right for my eventual finishing time.

The 30k mark (second picture) was at about mile 18.5, or right before the third Newton hill as best as I could figure. Although I felt stronger than I thought I would feel (in Wellesley I was sure I'd be deathmarching it by this point) the picture testifies to how beat up I was by this point and my form (note the arms flailing, fingers spread out, flat footstrike and the "help me Jesus" look) is a mess.

I don't want to flash back on that too long. I did make it through, not as fast as I wanted but in better shape than most. There were folks however, who had a good enough days to lead me to second guess my performance and I saw I was the second Pennsylvanian to finish, and the first (a Phila Track Club guy whom I don't know) only finished 45 seconds or so ahead of me. Again leading me to thoughts of whether I could have trimmed a bit more off of my 2:47. But there will always be people ahead of you, and had I finished a minute or two faster I would still be second-guessing myself. Its the nature of this beast to do so.

The final picture is one I'm putting up largely because IC begged me not to. Its of me and him and KF after we reunited at the finish. My memories of the crowd after the finish was that they moved me almost to tears in how people continued to be lined up and cheering loudly well past the finish line on the way to picking up our gear. Here the applause wasn't for encouragement, but for what was achieved and it amazes me that people would enthusiastically do this at a point where all the action was out of us. We come out looking pretty ugly in this picture (uglier than usual) and in that, at that moment, lies beauty.

I'll wrap up as it is getting late. The hot tub at the hotel was, as always, a godsend, and T was happy that I was too exhausted to do anything but join him in watching Cartoon Network.

Writing this took longer than I thought but there still seems much I haven't written about. But that gives some idea, with illustrations, on how the weekend went. I also hope that doing this will help me move on from the race and settle down once again into normal life. As I move ahead I'll continue to blog on my running, even though through next week the entries may be spotty as I will continue to take it easy (meaning I'll run when and how far I want to).

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Back from Boston

I'm back. Got into town just in time to teach my Sociology of Medicine class.

I hope to write (and post) more on the past weekend, especially because the weekend was so much more than just the race. In fact, the marathon itself was so much more than just the running. But in the meantime I'll reaffirm my position in the center of my universe with this abbreviated account of only the run (that I also posted on the Philly Runners message board).

Thanks to everyone who followed me online. I've heard from some of you and I felt everyones presence each time I crossed one of those mats that were laid out on the course at 5 kilometer intervals.

I leave for business to Houston tomorrow, and won't be running for a few days, so I won't post again until the end of the week.


Temp was 70 degrees at high noon in Hopkinton, with a blazing sun and a headwind. Newscasts would later say that the humidity was under 10%. Combined with that wind, you would not know you were dehydrated until your skin started turning to powder.

In other words, not a day to pr.

IC and I started in the corrals together but after the gun sounded he left me in the dust to head down the Hopkinton hills. Painful past lessons with heat and headwind taught me to hold back.

First 5 miles went at about a 6:10 clip, on the slow side of my target pace. Then the splits drifted into the 6:20s and I didn't fight it. My throat was starting to dry up so I broke with tradition and drank at almost every water stop. I took additional cups of water from kids and poured them over my head.

I promised God I would not lust after the Wellesley girls if I were spared a death march today.

On the other side of Wellesley my splits dipped into the 6:30s. My slowest point in the race (6:45 split at mile 17) was about where I caught up with IC - a stretch called "Hell's Alley," an understated uphill stretch just before the Newton firehouse that softens you up for the upcoming hills. We commiserated and then I turned right to face the hills.

This was more than a literal turning point. I was able to maintain pace through the first two Newton hills and suddenly dropped the loose group I was running with. This energized me enough to pass more people, and suddenly I had momentum where I least expected to find it. Seeing Cindy and the Bryn Mawr folks at Mile 19 kept me pumped, and I took Heartbreak Hill in a 6:28.

After Heartbreak comes the Haunted Mile, which featured a steady stream of walking or barely jogging runners as the course passed by an actual graveyard. All the adrenaline from Newton was gone, but I realized I'd be okay. I wouldn't PR but I'd beat my two previous Boston times, so I settled down and focused on reeling people in.

I passed three people in a final sprint down Boyleston Street. With the finish line in sight I suddenly wanted the race to go on forever. And as soon as it was over I almost collapsed.

2:47:05. Not my fastest race but definitely my smartest. Age has its advantages.

Friday, April 15, 2005

How to Watch Me in Boston

This should be the last entry I write before Boston. We leave early tomorrow morning.

Just got back from a mellow 4.5 miler w/ E going west on Pine out to Cobbs Creek and back home on Cedar. 39:33. Weather promises to be beautiful today although it was cold enough out there that my hands are chilled enough to slow down my typing.

If you're interested in following me on Monday, you can do so online. and go to the Boston Marathon part of the website and fish around for where ever it is they have the link for tracking runners in real time. For those of you unfamiliar with running technology, there is a chip that each runner puts on their shoe that registers when you cross an series of electronic mats that are placed every 5 kilometers on the course. So whenever a runner crosses one the signal from the chip is picked up and the online site is updated. So you need to refresh the site periodically.

The race starts at noon. The way to root for me is to hope I hit every 5km mark at right around 19 minutes for the first 25 km (15.5 miles). A little slower is okay, a little faster and then start shaking your head and clucking. There is, if I remember, a time recorded at the halfway point, which you can then double to get a rough idea of how I'm doing.

My reach goal is 2:40, my fallback goal is 2:45, anything slower and I'll be complaining next week.

After 25km the race gets interesting. At this point the course enters Newton and the uphills start. If I hold steady (around 19 min.) for the next 2 5km segments I'm doing well, if I slow down a little thats understandable, if I actually run in the 18 minute range then I'm an animal. If I slow down say into the 20 minute range, then that bodes poorly. From 35 km is the real race, and the faster I go the better.

Hope that makes sense: slow and steady up to 25, as strong as I can up to 35, and then hammer it (to the extent that I can) back to Boyleston St.

I repeat this not because of any underestimation of you readers' intelligence, but because I need to keep repeating it to myself. And then I actually have to follow my strategy.

I'll have plenty more to say on all this on Tuesday. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sun & Strides

Did my last workout before Boston that can in any way be considered a workout. From here on in its gonna be nothing over 30 minutes.

Nicest weather of the year today. I have a birds-eye view from my office of the quad, where the fraternities and sororities seem to be having some kind of a field day. Right now they are engaged in a keg toss.

Just got back from running w/ JH, whom I haven't seen in a few weeks. We did the usual Sweetbriar loop and I put in 10 1-minute sub 5k pace strides in the middle of it. Playing around. Keeping all of them on MLK added about 2 miles to the loop, so it was 10 in 77:12.

JH made the mistake of asking me questions about Boston, so I prattled on for much of the run about things Boston that he hadn't heard before.

Spent some time yesterday cruising the discussion lists for things to pick up about Boston. I learned that the conventional wisdom on how to run the course is consistent with my strategy. In other words starting out slow and banking energy for the Newton hills is preferable to banking time on the early downhills and hanging on in the latter part of the course.

So if everyone agrees why do so few follow this?

The other buzz is that people are already starting to freak out about the predicted temperature, which has climbed about 20 degrees in the last few days and is now projected to be in the 60's. Maybe its post-traumatic stress from last year.

Serenity prayer, folks.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Easy Runner

My favorite thing about running sofar this week is that the burden of training has been lifted. The hay is in the barn, so to speak, and this adds a more playful mood to my running. I felt it yesterday on the track, and this morning as well. I left the house wanting to run about 30 minutes, with no other goal in mind.

My other favorite thing about running this week has been the Springtime. The light now at 6:00, with the sun starting to come up, is just about perfect, the temperature is cool, and everyday brings more blooming and color. Another beautiful sunrise was visible down the east-west streets, but today we resisted the temptation to again chase it eastwards.

Instead E and I pursued our windmills down 42nd St., up Westminster and back home on 54th St. and Larchwood. E set a brisk pace, and keeping up was fun. Total time was 39:03 and, as I'm too busy/lazy to Keyhole it, I'm guessing 5 miles.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

5k on the Installment Plan

"Cruise intervals" were the workout for the day. These are apparently intervals with some of the edge taken off. Running hard but not pushing the envelope.

For me that translated into 5 x 1000 meters in 3:27 down to 3:23 (with 200m recovery). So it was off to the track. Same sharp sun out as yesterday, but even running an hour later it was a good 10-15 degrees cooler out. Perfect temperature, only a little wind.

This cruising speed is great. I had to work but I felt like I could do a million of them. Split times were 3:24; 3:25; 3:22; 3:18; & 3:19. 5k on the installment plan in 16:48. Total of 7.5 miles and 54:29 total running time.

"I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racing in the wind
And the feeling that I'm under"

(pat yourself on the back if you can identify those lyrics)

Monday, April 11, 2005

Chasing the Sunrise

Its a good thing that Boston is next Monday and not today. The legs were not into running.

E & I went north and west, intending to mosey up to 59th St. A beautiful sunrise kept taunting us between the buildings, however, so we called an audible and turned south down Westminster to 40th St and then across Girard and down to MLK. Unfortunately the sunrise was more or less over by the time we got a clear view of it, but I'd never seen the light and shadowplay on the Center City skyscrapers in quite the way it was on display this morning.

The flowering trees, including the cherry blossoms, are now officially gorgeous.

The distractions saved me, as the run itself was of the "are we there yet?" variety. Probably a long 7 in 61:37.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Dress Rehearsal

Revved up the engine one more time. 12 miles from St. Vincent's to T's baseball game at Taney Park. Point to point is a bit shorter than that, so I had to add some mileage through Fairmount Park that included the Falls Ave/Conshohocken St. hill and plopped me onto MLK by Strawberry Mansion Bridge, whereupon I ran 6 marathon pace miles to finish up the course.

Doing six miles at 6:00 pace was not a problem, even with all the people on the path whom I had to weave around (good practice for the opening mile). I was working too hard today, however, to see realistically doing 26 of those. Boston presents a conundrum, as for once I want to start conservative but Boston is not a course that lends itself to doing that. The first miles are steady downhill and the main hills only come after about 16 miles. Run too fast at the outset (as many people do) and you're toast by the time you hit Newton, but if I run too conservative in the outset I'm afraid of squandering these faster miles.

So I'm thinking I'll start out at 6:10 or so and assess how I'm feeling. If I feel like I'm working then I'll even drop it down a bit to 6:15 range until I get to mile 16. This is where the work starts, the infamous hills of Newton. If I can do them strong then its a gradual downhill to the finish and I'll do fine. If the hills waste me then I'll be moaning and complaining here next week.

As I write this it sounds like a smart strategy. I also want to drive the Newton part again when we get to Boston. I want to know that piece of the course. But I feel ready. Of course anything can happen on marathon day, but as of right now I'm ready for sub 2:40 on a good day (6:07 pace) or sub 2:45 (still a pr) no matter what, provided I run smart.

Today reaffirmed that. 12 miles in 85:38.

And for something completely different and for Boston geeks only. I was looking at Hal Higdon's coffeetable book on Boston, which has some good advice by Bill Squires (see here for an online version) as well as an elevation map. This elevation map is much more jagged and steep than the one on the official marathon website, and this instantly intrigued me.

For the "official" elevation map go here (scroll to the bottom of the pdf) and compare it to the course map I'm pasting on the bottom of this post. I really had to dig to find this map on the web, and unfortunately I didn't remember the site I got it from but it is consistent, and more detailed, than the one in the Higdon book. I find it much more credible than the official map. The official map seems to smooth out the ups and downs to create a much kinder, gentler set of hills which seems misleading, especially as being prepared for the downhills is as important as being set for the uphills.

Why do the race organizers do this? It seems pointless to soft-pedal hills that are so fabled.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

No Time

Woke up brain dead this morning. Unfortunately not from partying but from staying up too late writing - wonky writing on prisoners reentering the community and homelessness. But that's my other life.

Did not feel like thinking so I put it into autopilot and ran an Art Museum loop. Started out slow and made it to half-fast (get it?) by the time I got to the Schuylkill bike path. I caught up with RD and we talked a bit, and then I turned to go home. Couple of urban fartleks to make some lights gave me a glimpse of what I might have done with more motivation, but I'm saving that for Boston. 9 more days.

RD asked me if I was checking the long range weather forecasts. Yet a little early for that but I'll be doing that soon.

Beautiful weather this morning. C is taking me out to a birthday breakfast right after I shower. T's first little league game is today. Things are looking good.

6.5 miles and I never got my watch started. Probably better that way.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Cross Training

DNR'd today.

It was raining heavily this morning and I'd been out last night for my birthday. So I slept in.

I was gonna get a mellow 5 in after work today, although I hate running on Friday afternoons. PK called and talked me into going out for happy hour. Said he'd buy me birthday drinks. So I blew the running off.

I did have to cycle into Center City. I love CC cycling during rush hour. Cars ain't going nowhere and I'm cruising past them, in between lanes of stymied folks trying to get home. Only way to go faster is by helicopter.

Got home and I was out of breath, so I'll call it a workout.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


It's my birthday today. Thanks to my mom (I know she reads this) for the trouble she went through 41 years ago and for all she's put up with since.

C gave me a gift of a bunch of clothes from a trendy brand clothing store, some of which I will wear today. I'll call it my birthday suit.

Otherwise the day should progress as normal. I was supposed to just run today, putting 8 25-second, sub 5k-pace sprints into the middle of the run spaced by 1 minute recovery periods. In other words good old fashioned fartlek. I ran the Sweetbriar loop and did the fartlek on the Schuylkill path and along MLK. Instead of using my watch I picked out a point and just ran to it as fast as I could. Doing this probably made the sprints a bit longer and the recoveries a bit shorter, but overall made the feel of this workout more informal and relaxed, and more in the newfound spirit of "peaking".

The bridge on 42nd St. just south of Girard Ave was closed, necessitating a detour further up Girard to Belmont. Looks like it will be closed for awhile. Oh well.

Otherwise a warm and pleasant run, didn't much push it on the warmup or cool down. 8 miles in 62:51.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Finding Thomas

E & I went out west this morning to Mt. Moriah cemetary. On our last run she talked about Thomas St., this great street on which to run that she could not subsequently relocate. This morning we went up Larchwood to where it t's into Mercy Hospital, went left and across Baltimore Ave, and low and behold there was Thomas St.

Reminds me of Winnie the Pooh's getting lost in the Hundred Acre Woods and after trying hard to find his way and just getting more lost, he tries to get lost and thereby finds his way home.

I can see why Thomas St. tries to remain discreet. There are some quiet blocks out towards Cobbs Creek with beautiful three story twins on them that are just begging not to be gentrified. So mum's the word to any yuppie types you come across.

Today was supposed to be an easy day and in the spirit of that we took some time to muck through the back paths of Mt. Moriah. We found the military burial sections, with headstones once lined up in precise rows and columns like at Arlington but now out of sync as the ground has shifted over the decades. One soldier's headstone did double duty: his name was in the front and a female name (same surname) was on the flip side with the simple inscription under it - "his wife". Not my idea of how to be remembered for eternity.

If I coached a cross country team around here I'd have workouts at Mt. Moriah. There are lots of paths and some good hills on the site. The original Mount Moriah was where Abraham took Isaac with the intent to sacrifice him, and upon which Jerusalem was later built.

Today's loop was so twisted that even keyhole couldn't measure it. 60:20. Taking our gawking into account I'll guess its 6.5 miles.

Need a quick fix for your Boston obsession? Check out this site brimming with poignancy (scroll down past the banquet stuff). A larger version of this art below is currently my computer wallpaper; unfortunately I misplaced the web address where I got it from.

I'm shipping up to Boston
I'm shipping up to Boston
I'm shipping find my wooden leg
- Dropkick Murphys

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Airing It Out

I emailed Greg, my coach, asking him where is the taper. He explained how he prefers to call this the time just before the marathon the "peaking phase" and that he feels the traditional 3-week taper leaves one going into the goal marathon feeling stale. Instead he recommends reducing mileage but still putting in a few hard workouts a week to "rev the engine up."

I had always suspected that tapers were overrated, but was a bit hesitant to go to the track so close to the Boston (<2 weeks away). Todays workout, 4x 2000 meters w/ 400 m recovery in 7:17 down to 7:03. This was a bit slower than I would have done earlier in my training cycle and I felt really strong - running them in 7:05; 7:01; 7:02; 6:57. What amazes me most at this stage is how good my legs feel. I feel more and more ready.

10 miles total with warm up and cool down, running time was 76:34.

Saw an empty box of Boston Baked Beans on the sidewalk on the way down to Franklin Field. Omen? If so, of what? I've got an email in to the guys at Delphi.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Back into Darkness

Left the house this morning with the false dawn just peeking over the horizon and a crescent moon still hovering above the rowhouses. Reminded me how much I hate this time change. I feel like I've worked for the morning light we had gained and now it all gets taken back. At least for a few weeks.

I liked running 59th Street so much yesterday that I put a route together to do it again this morning. E & I went north on 42nd/44th and then up Merion St, a backstreet that runs parallel to Lancaster and defines urban grittiness. The Newton style hills start up around Overbrook HS and really let me visualize the conditions on the Boston course. We ran into some interesting stuff along the way, including a former synagogue building with beautiful intricate blue mosaic tilework laid over the doors, and a house with a green street sign out front that said "Hells Angels St." and a custom ironwork gate out front with an "HA" monogram. We tiptoed past that one.

I'm calling it a long 7 in 57:53.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

20 Miler #5

Long strange trip today. Got the feeling at times that I was in one of those racing dreams that some of us occasionally get.

Start out with the city being waterlogged. The Schuylkill overflowed its banks and was a lovely roiling brown. The Schuylkill bike path was underwater, forcing DB and I to detour up the Ben Franklin Parkway and then, after going up MLK, to double back down instead of crossing over to Kelly Drive (which was under water at Falls Bridge) to complete the usual loop. On the way back down we came head on into the Run for Independence, a small 10k race that was heading up MLK. Things always go wrong in racing dreams, and running south when the rest of the race was going north felt just like that. I did get to cheer on KF, SC, and SW, who were among those racing (also shouts out to AH and LG who were on the drive running this morning).

Back at the Art Museum DB and I parted ways and I headed up Lemon Hill, where I got another surreal birds eye perspective of the race when I looked down and across the river to see KF and some other guy duel it out for the lead as the race wound back to the Art Museum. KF would get second.

Hills were now added to the water, ad hoc course changes, and out of sync races as I hit the Lansdowne Dr. and S. Georges hills in Fairmount Park. To make this more fun, behind the Mann Center the road was tore up and I had to navigate chunks of asphalt and mud. This was the first time I'd run up here and I was careful to keep a mental image of the turns I had to take to get out of the park and back over to W. Philly, but this got screwed up and somehow I made it back onto Belmont Dr. (north of Chamounix) and then onto N. Parkside. At this point a group of about 8 guys appear running about 100 yards behind me. I couldnt recognize any of them, but they looked to be past college age and going at a good clip, so they might have been PTC folks although it was a strange place for them to be. Anyway, they turned left and I turned right and now, dreamlike, I was suddenly on 53rd Street and back on course.

From there I went around the Acme Distribution Center, onto 59th past Overbrook High (Wilt Chamberlain's alma mater), and all the way down to Christian St., and two turns later I was home. The last West Philly miles were perfect terrain, with long uphills and downhills that let me air out my tired, groaning legs and pretend I had just gotten over Heartbreak Hill and was heading full steam into Boston.

I'll still call it 20, although the detours probably stretched this a bit. 2:45:27. With any luck, this run will have taken longer to complete than any other run this month!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

April Showers

Just finished this blog entry and it didn't post due to a software error. I try to fight the letdown feeling with the stoic acknowledgment that this inevitably happens once in awhile, but it still sucks. The only consolation to losing writing into the ether is that usually upon rewriting it it turns out better than the first time. Well, on to reconstructing.

I woke up this morning to the sound of buckets of rain. I was supposed to run 20 w/ DB, but we decided this was not a good idea and rescheduled it for tomorrow. I then paid bills and was reading the NY Times over breakfast when the rain let up in time to make it down to the Art Museum and hook up with whoever shows up for the 9:30 run. Down there I hooked up with IC and S#37, my first time running with him, and, against my better judgment, let IC set a twisted course through the bowels of Fairmount Park which included every acclivity higher than 10 meters. S#37 hung with us, which is impressive as he said he only runs 2x a week. I wanted to do 10, but the course ended up being 11 in 77:17.

There was only intermittent rain while we ran, and, to my satisfaction, it is now raining buckets again. Today was also the first weekend of the year where MLK is closed to traffic and we could literally take it to the street.

Finally, I forgot till now to recap my March, which went very well by all accounts. Logged 319 miles, the most I've ever logged in a month and only the second time (301 in May '04) I ran over 300 in a month. More importantly, I feel healthier coming out of March than I did entering the month. Looking ahead to this month, my only goal is to run a solid Boston. If I run a good Boston, none of my shortcomings will matter; if I don't run a good Boston, none of my achievements will matter.

This post has been powered by the sounds of Carbon Leaf, a new band (or at least new cd) that M3 left on the PC. And I will back up this post now before sending it into the ether.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Deja Run

Art Museum loop to 54th St.; 8 miles in 68:49. Same loop as Wednesday's run and, interestingly enough, only a 16 second time differential between the two runs. Not that either of them were speed records, but this one felt much slower, esp. at the beginning.

This time around I ran w/ E, first time doing so in over a week. We talked up our usual entertaining blather about stuff like exercise physiology and dinosaur DNA, and I realized when I got back to the porch and picked up the paper that we failed to mention Terri Shiavo, who died yesterday.