Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Let It Rain

Ran my old nemesis this morning, a 12-mile loop that goes along the 34th St./Lansdowne Ave. stretch of the Philadelphia Marathon course (where I take 2 miles at marathon pace) a half mile recovery to MLK, and another two mile MP to Falls Bridge. From there its up and over the BN, and then the last 5 miles are recovery.

The MP times this morning were inauspicious - 12:18 and 15:56. The first stretch was tough in the dark and into traffic, which interrupted my rhythm several times. Second stretch went much better. But the most important facet of doing this is that it breaks the ice. I invariably approach the first fast stuff of the season with dread. I think going fast in workouts exercises different mental muscles, muscles that have grown flaccid since last fall, than you use to gear up for lots of mileage.

My other accomplishment for the morning was that I beat the rain. It was one of those mornings where the darkness lifted to more darkness - heavy grey overcast that reminds me of Germany. Forecast calls for rain all day, I say let it rain!

And finally, January is in the books. 357 miles for the month, far and away the most I've ever logged in a month's time. Looking back at my old logs, its only the fourth time I've logged over 300 in a month. Now lets see if I can get two in a row.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The mild weather continues. Fog this morning, not thick but heavy so that you could smell it when inhaling. Like dry ice.

The three of us did the Acme loop, as has been our habit of late, down to 34th St. and then adding a bit by going around the distribution center via Lebanon St. and then south on 57th St. (I think). Little by little this route gets longer and longer. I'm now counting it as 9.5 miles. 81:48.

I'm not mapping out my travelogue today but figure I must have made it through Staunton VA by now. Last time I was in Staunton was in 1995, driving a UHaul, when me, Cindy and Maricela (this was pre-Tony) were moving to Philadelphia from Texas. My Uncle Daniel and Aunt Judy live there, and we dropped by to visit and spend the night. Staunton is the hometown of the Statler Brothers and Mary Baldwin College, which is where my uncle teaches. Aunt Judy always takes an interest in my Boston runs, and her knowledge of the marathon surprised me until I realized that she grew up in Newton. So we have that little bond. Good to see them, even if only virtually.

As often happens in real life, I don't know where I'm headed from here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Weekend Warrior

Here's my recap of the weekend. I plan to make this quick because I got other stuff I gotta do.

Yesterday's run was 11 miles, one of those flex runs when what I ended up doing did not have much semblance with what I actually did. I wanted to get in a long run, 20 miles if possible, ended up doing 11 (actually 11.1, Kevin F., sorry I lost the gmap loop before I could save it to link). Met up at the Art Museum with Kevin F., Erin and KJ, and the four of us went through Fairmount Park, where and me and KF split off after a couple of miles, to go over S. Georges Hill, down the BN, and back around Kelly Drive. Kevin F. is a good friend and frequent racing partner, but we figured that this was the first time we'd ever gone on a training run together.

Hills on the front end and speed on the back end (last 4 in sub-28). Good training run for the upcoming Cesar Rodney half marathon, in which we are both running on the team "Evil Killer Bunnies of Death 2 - Eviller and Killerer" (TEKBOD2-EAK!) If you're interested in more details about the run, you can read them from Kevin's perspective. Judging from what he writes, he was having a harder time holding on at the end than he let on. Didn't mean to make it a pissing contest, really.

Kevin stopped at the Art Museum when we ran into Cindy, and I abandoned the idea of tacking on more miles in favor of coffee with good company. A case of good people being preferable over good miles. 11 in 1:23:35.

So that left the long run for this morning. My lack of motivation led to all sorts of procrastinatory maneuvers, but when I made it out is was up to Manayunk via the Art Museum, across the Green La. bridge and into Montgomery County and back into Fairmount Park via Belmont Ave, west on Parkside then Woodbine, and down 66th/63rd and home again on Cedar Ave. I thought that would be 20 but it only made 19.

This is a good long run. I took the Kelly Dr. miles at 7:40 pace, then got worn down by the hills, including the north Belmont hills - the hardest series of hills in my training territory - on miles 10 to about 14, and then regrouped enough to make the Cedar Ave. piece (the last 1.6 miles) in just under 7 minute pace. Not phenomenal, but it felt good knowing I can ramp things up somewhat after being on my feet for all that time. I'll be doing this loop again. 19 miles in 2:34:26.

This gives me 87 miles for the week. One more mile than last week, which means another PR. I'll put in one more hi mileage week this week, and then cut back next week as I've got some traveling to do, and look to incorporate more speed as I cut back on the mileage a little. I feel that this cuts short the base phase, but that would put me into mid-February, with Cesar Rodney coming up in mid March and then it would be taper time for the Paris Marathon, which is three weeks later.

Oh yeah, I don't remember if I wrote that I'm running Paris this Spring. April 8th. Gives me a little less time to prepare than would be optimal, but kids have Spring Break that week, Cindy wants to go on vacation, and running a marathon would be a good way to see the city. I'll have more to say about all that, of course, but I've blabbed/blogged enough already today.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Focus, People!

a.m. workout - Acme Loop (34th St version) - 9+ miles in 75:45.

noon workout - 4 miles on USP treadmill - 29:08; and 5 miles on stationary bike - 7:20.

This Friday is like most Fridays, when the accumulated stress, exertion and sleep deprivation from the week makes getting out really hard. Ran with the usual suspects, who appeared to be similarly mentally challenged this morning. The result was conversation that meandered from non-sequitur to non-sequitur, prompting Erin, who is perhaps the most ADD-afflicted of the three of us, at one point to demand Kevin and I focus. It didn't work.

Not much more to say today. If you want a more entertaining post, go to my buddy Ian's blog, where he has posted an interesting email he received in response to an inquiry to an anonymous shoe company. I think that, despite the hangups that reporters have about divulging sources, Ian should reveal the name of the shoe company, as inanity like that should be publicized.

Leave him a comment if you agree, and pass the word.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Luray Caverns

One of the good things about working in academia is that one's time is flexible, which lends itself well to working in workouts. Like today, when I teach class in the evenings, I can go in at the normal time in the morning and pencil in a long lunch hour, which lets me avoid running in the dark and breaks up an otherwise long day. So I planned on a 15 miler at lunch but, to make a long story short, I got delayed on the front end and had to meet with my dean on the back end so the time left got whittled to less than 90 minutes. I tossed the idea of a longer run and instead maximized the time I did have. After changing and running a warmup to Franklin Field, I figured I had 35 minutes to run and have time to cool down (1.5 miles) and shower/change/look presentable for my meeting. Those 35 minutes then got translated into 6 marathon pace miles (6 min pace).

To my delight, it was almost effortless. Just kept going round that track, 1:30 at a time. Usually MP runs are a bit intimidating, as I think I will one day try 26 miles at that speed. But today it was more like "26? bring it on!" Time for the MP run was 35:56. Total nine miles in 63:17. And made it to the meeting with my dean at 2:02 (2 minutes late; or early in academic time).

While I was running in the cold, blustery sunshine I put myself in a Nike commercial thats been on the airwaves lately. Lots of shots of folks training (many of them runners) in the early morning, in solitary situations, working hard etc. set to the opening strains of AC/DC's "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution." I'm not a big Nike fan but the commercial captures, and glorifies, the least glorious parts of training. So on days like today when getting a workout in is a real pain in the ass, it helps to visualize myself in a scene out of the commercial (you can see it here). Its hokey and corporate, but it helps me get out there. And it will help get me out there in the dark tomorrow morning.

And now I realize that I had commented on one of Zeke's posts yesterday of my resolution to stay off the track as long as possible. And here I am today. Funny. And I just went to his blog to pick up the URL to link to and see that he also comments on the same Nike commercial. Spooky.

Update on my triptych. Over the last few days I blew through Luray VA (see map), known for Luray Caverns (google it yourself if you want info). Luray Caverns is your classic roadside tourist attraction, where you can tour a network of underground caves with impressive stalactite/stalagmite formations. I headed through there this week out of nostalgia, as I went there in real life when I was 14. My dad, my sister and myself (I don't remember where my mom was) went on a road trip to Washington (home of one uncle) and then to Staunton VA (home of another uncle and my next virtual destination) and then back up to New York (where I grew up). I have vague memories of Luray Caverns, including the base of a broken off stalagmite (or is it a stalactite) which, due to years of people rubbing their palms on it, has gotten to look like sunny side up eggs. They also have an organ in the cave that uses stalagmites (?) as pipes. You spend an hour or two walking through the cave, buy a souvenier (I think I got a plastic penny whistle with a trombone-like thing) and then get back on the road.

I also remember it was in April, because I had just turned 14 and we actually took my presents on the trip with me so I could open them exactly on my birthday (I remember getting a Strat-o-matic baseball game among other things). And it was also several days after the first race I had ever run. While in Washington DC my Uncle Stephen asked if I wanted to run the Cherry Blossom Classic. While active in sports, I was not a runner then, but said sure, why not. I think my uncle was a bit surprised at that, and even more surprised when I ran the whole 10 miler, and finished in 83:20. I was really sore the next day, and touring the mall and especially going up the Capitol steps was very painful.

I suppose all junkies remember their first fix fondly.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Black Ice!

Its just like normal ice, only worse. A special kind of ice that lurks in the shadows. . . slipperier, invisibler, waiting to get you. . . its black ice!

Always thought there was something subtly racist about the term "black ice", a term that is among the winter favorites of local newscasts and meant to strike fear in the heart of good citizens. Kind of like Michael Moore's shtick in Bowling for Columbine about the "Africanized" killer bees.

There were four of us this morning, as Deirdre joined us. Pretty soon Club West Philly will be sooo big we won't be able to cancel our runs! We headed west into the 'hood and that's where we came upon the ice. Apparently it rained last night and it wasn't even that cold, but the rain froze on the streets and left frequent slippery patches. It felt like we were doing six minute strides to keep an 8-minute pace. We got to Cobbs Creek and the bike path was no better. So instead of going into the dark butterfly sanctuary portion we decided to be safe and just turned around to go home. Coming home we'd get a block or two of just wet pavement and I'd think we were wimps and then out of nowhere - black ice!

5.8 miles in 48:16. Round it up to 6 in the log and the plan is to run an additional 4.2 over lunch. Tony got a new bike, his first one with gears, over the weekend but it looks like we'll be walking to school this morning.


Took care of unfinished business and ran over lunch. Treadmills were full again, so I came up with the radical idea of running outside. From USP to Franklin Field, 3 laps on the track, and up Locust Walk to 47th and back to USP. 4 2/3 miles in 38:36, we'll call the whole day 10 1/2 miles and consider it "easy".

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Can't Make It Here Anymore

Double session again today. Workout #1 was a Columbia Bridge loop, which I've been running variations of alot lately. Legs didn't have it (8:15 pace on the marked MLK miles) this morning and I just went with it. Cool and crisp, with a hint of fog so that all was blue, visually but not metaphorically, as it got light. I took a page out of Kevin F.'s playbook and "used the lights to my advantage," meaning I timed the traffic lights so I'd be forced to stop for the reds.

Just got back from another 4 at the USP rec center. The treadmills were all taken up by kids paying $40k a year for the privelege, and I would have bumped one off if I could have gotten away with it. But instead I just ran around the indoor one-tenth of a mile track 40 times with James McMurtry on the i-Pod until I turned into angry white guy (in the Michael Moore mode, not the Rush Limbaugh one). Lyrics like:

Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one's paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget's stretched so thin
And there's more comin' home from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore

got me cooking around the little track till I was getting dizzy and almost plowing into little co-eds who don't know how to walk a track. Made it down to about 6:10 pace, which is hard to do with the constant, sharp, unbanked turns. Total time was 28:18, a bit faster than the 29+ minutes I usually wring out of the hamster wheel when I do four miles, and which probably included an extra lap or two as I have trouble counting to forty without losing my place a few times.

Let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore

I was still up after completing the four, so I took it out further on an exercise bike. The ARC triathlon is coming up soon, consisting of pool swimming, exercise bike riding, and either treadmill or track running. I won it last year (see blog entry and epilogue) and expect to defend my title by actually learning a little about riding the exercise bike and swimming. So I cranked up the exercise bike to 15 and went balls-to-the-wall for 8 minutes. That wiped me out in the same way good track reps do. The damn bike wouldn't say how far I went, but I averaged 1.5/1.6 minute miles and between 85-90 rpms, whatever that means. After I got off the bike my gloots were tighter than Bill O'Reilly's.

Back to James McMurtry, I went out to get milk last night at the local convenience store and was panhandled by a guy who looked older than me who said he needed SEPTA fare to go to the Ridge Avenue shelter and that he just got out of the Delaware County jail. As proof of this story, he flashed a jail id card. My mouth dropped as, while I've heard enough variations of the need-busfare-to-get-to-the-shelter stories to be dubious, I fought back the urge to say "I bet you're in the dataset I'm researching." I just gave him a buck instead.

Can't make it here anymore.

Monday, January 23, 2006

You Got to Move

Pouring rain this morning, so I rolled over and kept sleeping. To make up for that, I went out to Strawberry Mansion Bridge over my lunch hour and back around through Fairmount Park and West Philly in a course that looked like this. Course clocks in at 11.75 miles, but I round it down to 11.5, time was 85:44. Averages out to a 7:30 pace.

It was a strong run. The spirit said move and I followed suit. Three marked miles on MLK (a shoutout to whoever refreshed the painted 1/4 mile markers over the weekend) were run in 20.10, and mentally needed very little pushing. It was the first time in awhile that I took on the Ford Road hill, the steepest extended hill around here that I'm aware of, and one that got me good and anaerobic today.

Weather was cool and cloudy, nice to run in until about mile 8 when it started to drizzle and rain again. But by that time I was past the point of no return and just cruised in a little wet.

Now for a bit of vanity: my Philly marathon run made this list of top marathon times in 2005 by US runners, weighing in at #769. Don't know what to make of this number except that it will get lowered on the 2006 list.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Road to Super Bowl 5k

Well, the whole family trucked it down to Wilmington this morning. Beautiful sunny day in the mid 40's, great for racing. This run is staged out of a large sports bar and features an out and back that gives just a little taste of the notorious Rockford Park uphill that makes the Cesar Rodney Half Marathon so much fun.

Actually getting to know enough folks among the Delaware crowd to chat a bit at the start. Also kept my eye on a blond haired surfer looking type I'd not seen before who was doing fast strides to keep warm before the race. The cannon (an actual very miniature cannon) sounds the start and sure enough surfer dude surges out to about a 75-foot lead. Once the dust settles its SD, a guy in black shorts/singlet in second, and me and Kevin Matthews, who runs for the VF Striders, 3-4 and one other guy close behind us. Good vibes from Kevin, as we are working together rather than against each other, despite both of us knowing that it would come down to a contest between us for first old fart (i.e., Masters) finisher.

Mile 1 passes in 5:25, and I am grateful that my legs have their mojos working this morning. The pack is still intact at the turnaround on the uphill Rockford Park stretch, but we are not far into the backstretch (downhill now) when, to my surprise, SD starts to fade. Man in black overtakes him, and at this point my inner shark smells blood. So I surge on the downhill, first leaving Kevin behind and then, a little before the 2-mile mark (5:29), dropping SD to take second. Nobody seems to be giving chase, so I concentrate on MiB, who is about 50 feet ahead of me. Lord knows I tried, as witnessed by a 5:16 split for the third mile, but I could not close any distance on him.

So I'm bridesmaid again with a 16:41 finishing time. Kevin finishes a few seconds behind me and SD is fourth. I run the course again with Kevin and cool down with good conversation. I figure I'll get Tony on the way back, but he greets me at the finish all smiles and is proud finishing before I can lap him, with a 39:05 finishing time. Cindy and Maricela walk it in about ten minutes later and we all have had a fine day.

SD introduces himself after the race as Allen, who actually is a surfer dude from Hawaii who has recently moved to Philadelphia and lives about five blocks away. We talk a bit and he expresses interest in running with me, Kevin and Erin. So Team West Philly may grow to four.

First masters gets me a certificate for lunch for two at Eclipse, which is a pricey, well-reviewed, "proper attire required" restaurant with "seasonal" specialties. This sounds good but they only serve lunch on weekdays, and I make it to Wilmington for lunch on a weekday as often as the Eagles make the Super Bowl. But there's a first time for everything, and I'm grateful for anything I win (including the bobble head schwag) and a fun morning down South.

And I'm pumped at getting a 16:41 at the ass-end of an 85 mile week! That 85, by the way, is a PR for weekly mileage. If I keep going like this the Spring season is going to rock!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wayward Wind

Slogged down to the Art Museum this morning on the off chance that someone would be around to run at 8:15. To my surprise, "Chemistry Steve" (about half of the guys that run w/ Philly Runners seem to be named Steve, so most of us have taken on some sort of nickname) was at the steps waiting. I haven't seen him since his 2:58 effort at the Philly Marathon last November, so it was good to run and catch up and, although he assured me that an 8:10 pace was fine, I felt a bit bad about keeping things slow as we did a loop of the Drives.

We got back to the Art Museum and 20+ people were milling around for the 9:30 run. Due to either the prospect of having good company or out of sluggishness I ran the next two miles with Scott, who in turn felt bad that he was holding me up. For today, however, I followed the teachings of John Bingham and truly didn't have a need for speed. Scott and I had good conversation for the two miles we ran together, whereupon I turned left onto Montgomery Ave. to go home and Scott continued up MLK to do the whole Drives loop. Doing a full 8.5 mile loop is a solid accomplishment for Scott, and I'll check in on his blog later to see how things went.

I then reverted to low 8-minute pace for the last 4 miles through Fairmount Park and West Philly to complete my 18 mile loop. 2:32:39, a long time to be on my feet.

The whole family rented and watched the movie St. Ralph last night, which is about a 14 year-old boy who trains to win the Boston Marathon in the 1940s to save his dying mother. Obviously fictional, but good enough of a movie to where, after my family made me stop guffawing over the unlikeliness of alot of the details, I suspended my disbelief and just enjoyed the movie.

There was one scene towards the end, however, that captured an essential part of marathon running very nicely. In this scene a nurse, who was taking care of Ralph's mother, explains to him how the people around him felt that, through him, they too were participating in training for and running the marathon. I've tapped into this feeling when, in the past, I've said it takes a village to run one of these things, a sentiment I again felt this morning in the good company I had, company that made what could have been a miserable run quite bearable.

"It takes a village" is nearly a cliche by now, and, as in all things associated with with Hilary Clinton, draws ire from the right. So to appease the right I will say it takes a family to run a 5k. This should be illustrated tomorrow, when at Cindy's prompting the whole family will trek down to Wilmington to run the Road to the Super Bowl 5k. I protested that, having logged 78 miles already this week, I am hardly in shape to put on a decent performance and she rightfully snapped back that this wasn't about me. So, humbled, I will try to beat my 16:57 time from last year's running of this race, though I'm from from making this a prediction.

And finally, I'm updating my Chautauqua. [wait a minute as I do this on gmap-pedometer] There, all done and you can link to it here. Since last time, when I was at Harpers Ferry, I went through Charles Town, West Virginia, where John Brown was tried and hanged, and next through Winchester, Virginia, hometown of country music great Patsy Cline, and, according to a Washington Post columnist:

"[I]f you're not really into Civil War history, and you don't golf, and you're not much in for kountry B&Bs or lazy Shenandoah drives, you won't find much reason to kill a weekend in Winchester.

But I run through Winchester anyway, mainly to pay homage to Patsy, who is buried there.

I then headed south to Front Royal and Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah Valley. Front Royal's main claim to fame seems to be as the northern entrance to Skyline Drive, a scenic roadway through the Shenandoah Valley. I've actually been on Skyline Drive several times in my life, most recently in 1982 when, with my high school buddies John & Dennis, I went on an extended road trip after high school graduation. Aside from breath-taking scenery I also remember the Drive being full of curves, which failed to deter Dennis from, a la Dean Moriarity in Kerouac's On the Road, blindly passing RV after RV that kept popping up in from of us as they struggled to make it up the hills in low gear. I also remember camping out at a roadside parking lot (camping as in sleeping bag laid out on the grass by the car) and seeing a beautiful sunrise the next morning.

That's plenty for today. I'll say good-bye with Patsy on my mind. I know of her music mainly from covers other artists have done. I put "Wayward Wind", which Neil Young covered, as today's title, as is more appropriate for my purposes than Patsy's better known songs such as "Crazy" or "Sweet Dreams".
Oh, the wayward wind is a restless wind,
A restless wind, that yearns to wander.
And he was born the next of kin,
The next of kin, to the wayward wind.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Double Digits Again

I've said several times before that Fridays are the hardest days. Everything accumulates from the bygone week and all I want to do is stay in bed.

But instead I got up at 5:30 one more time and, this morning, met up with Dierdre and ran an extended version of the loop I ran yesterday. Its about 2 miles to Dierdre's house, which I took ploddingly, and after we met up the pace went down, naturally it seemed, to about 6:45 or 7. Dierdre's one of the more energetic people I know, and I appreciated not having to expend the mental energy I otherwise would have needed, were I to have run alone, to push myself to that pace. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone but me, but that's why it pays to run with fast people. Sunrise was beautiful, with old contrails making brushstrokes of grey across an orange sky that provided the backdrop for General Meade perched on his horse high atop the Civil War Memorial in Fairmount Park. Weather is still warm and I still don't complain.

11.5 in just under 90 (1:29:58), meaning that I've done double digit mileage for 5 days in a row. Tomorrow that will stare me in the face again, but at least I can sleep in a bit.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Streets of Sin

Thats the Joe Ely album I have on my iPod today. Good album title for urban running, conveys images of hammering through squalid scenes of iniquity, maybe with steam rising off of the pavement mixing with the smoke from my shoes. However there is not much iniquity, even on Philly streets, at 6 am (although there is plenty of inequity). Ran up to Columbia Bridge and back through Fairmount Park for 9 this morning (time was 69:37), first 3.5 in 28:43; second 2 in 15:08, and final 3.5 in 25:46. So there may not have been steam coming off of the pavement, but my shoes were smoking down Belmont Ave.

Ran on the treadmill over lunch for an additional 4 miles. That's when I listened to Joe Ely. The one good thing about treadmills is that I can give my undivided attention to the music I'm listening to. I've been meaning to listen to Streets of Sin for awhile now, but I found the same thing I have before, that most Joe Ely songs are not good running music. In fact, he is one of those artists whose live shows are much better than his albums. I've seen Joe various times over the span of two decades, and some of his shows rank among the best I've seen. But the only albums of his I would call great are, well, his live albums. Especially Liberty Lunch.

So there, you came for a running blog and you got a music review. How about tomorrow I'll swap recipes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Just Miles

Strangest weather this morning. Temps must have been in the mid 60s when I left the house at 6am, with really strong gusts of wind and light drizzle. Erin, Kevin J and I went northwest and had alot of fun with the wind at our backs. Erin said we should have brought SEPTA tokens so we could keep running in this direction and just take the bus home.

Instead we headed up 46th St. and then up Merion Ave. The latter is a spooky street that runs parallel to Lancaster on the left, with auto junkyards, warehouses and vacant houses to buffer the two, and a set of railroad tracks and vacant lots on the other side. I think I'll wait until its light again in the mornings before running that street again.

As soon as we got onto 56th and headed back south, the wind not only got into our face but the rain was heavy. This made it a miserable run back home and reminded me why I have this primal aversion to running in the rain. Got home 53:34 later than when I left, distance was 6 miles (actually closer to 10k).

Just got back from running another 4 miles on the USP hamster wheel. Purely junk miles, done to keep my mileage up and to get through West Virginia just a little bit quicker. Judging Amy was on the ubiquitous tv monitors and I set the pace on the tm and just watched the show. Workout went by quickly, total time was 29:18.

Easy set of runs, easy workout on the blog as well today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Harper's Ferry

I left the house at 7 instead of 6 this morning, unencumbered by running partners or kids having to go to school (kids got off under some pretext; coincidentally today also happens to be Ben Franklin's 300th birthday). This gave me an extra hour of sleep and extra daylight, both of which were appreciated.

Temps were maybe a few degrees warmer today, and I made sure to bring a hat and gloves (both of which I took off about midway through the run). The run was a long BN loop, meaning I went down Baltimore, through Penn and up the Schuylkill Bike Path to MLK, and then followed the route I charted last Saturday back home. This was 13.5 miles. I split the run into 3 segments: first 3.5 miles in 29:54; second 4 in 30:52; and last 6 in 44:49. This totals 1:45:37. Run was pleasant enough, but long. I never really got anaerobic (didn't look to), and my calves were really strained the last 2 miles or so of the route. Pretty much the workout I was looking for.

I spent some time yesterday catching up on various blogs I keep tabs on. If they are done well, blogs get to be like soap operas: interesting to follow and easy to stay current on even if you only tune in occasionally. The big (relatively speaking) splash among blogs I lurk on is by a guy Mike in Tucson who has been describing his training for several months as he went book and verse by the coaching instructions of the late Arthur Lydiard. The blog is very readable and he also spends time on the trials of balancing running and family, which I can certainly relate to (although this gets easier as the kids get older). Anyway, to make a long story short, Mike's last six months of training, and his blog, culminated with his running the Phoenix edition of the Rock N Roll marathon last Sunday, which you can check out for yourself at his site if interested.

The second blog of interest in my perusings last night was by a guy Zeke who lives in Minnesota who is in the same position as me in the sense that he is ramping up his mileage currently and pushing his personal limits. Alot of that stuff I can identify with, and I was struck by some commonalities I found (he must be reading my mail!), among which the idea that when you are pushing your mileage it is best to do it in even daily increments instead of the more conventional hard-easy sequence, and more generally the relentless, all-consuming nature of this endeavor. My favorite quote on this blog is him (or some commentator, I forget which) remarking that in this up-shifting, 12 miles (as in workout length) becomes the new 8. That's exactly where I'm at.

Finally, I haven't mapped it yet but can safely say that I have made it to/through Harper's Ferry and into West Virginia (i.e., Chillag country). Harper's Ferry is of course the town where the famed abolitionist John Brown made his stand, capturing a federal arsenal in the late 1850s with the intentions of using the weapons to arm a slave revolt. Carrying out this plot turned out to be a fiasco in which two of Brown's sons, among others, were killed and he was captured and later hanged. Robert E. Lee was the commander who led the federal troops in Brown's capture.

Its interesting to juxtapose Brown's escapades onto contemporary contexts. Brown nowadays would undoubtedly be considered a terrorist, and it seems like he did the dirty work for alot of well off northern abolitionists who gave their money to him but little else. Several modern day movements claim to carry the latter-day abolition mantle, but I think the movement that best can take claim to that, in terms of their fanaticism to a cause, is the anti-abortion movement. This then leads to older questions of relationships between ends and means which I will leave y'all with and further mull over on my own, probably on an upcoming run.

And now this Chautauqua enters its third state, and I need to look on the map for places to check out. I also imagine that the going will have alot of ups and downs, which makes me glad I'm running these Mountain State miles in Philadelphia.

Monday, January 16, 2006


12 miles this morning, actually 12.3 on this course which is the now habitual Acme Loop with the 34th St. add on and a couple of miles tacked on at the end after Erin and Kevin J. bowed out. Today is MLK Day (and also Tony's 9th birthday - halfway to adulthood) and the kids have off from school, so there was not that urgency to be home to get Tony to school. Thus I took a longer route this morning and now don't have any question of whether to do another workout later today. Time, by the way, was 1:41:01, translating roughly into an 8:10 pace. That's misleading though, as pace was quicker at the beginning than at the end.

It was colder out than I realized, and I underdressed just enough to make things uncomfortable. Mostly this was due to my lack of wearing a hat, and that resulted in my face and ears chilling up. Other noteworthy events on this morning's run was news that Kevin ran sub 70 and pr'd in yesterday's 10-mile Icicle Run, impressive given the course and conditions. We caught a beautiful postindustrial sunrise, and further explored the notion of foxes and coyotes in Philadelphia, a topic which fascinates me enough to have found some followup on this topic here.

In my virtual travels (see map in yesterday's entry) I am now in Antietam. I now see this little exercise as a virtual Chautauqua - modeled after the traveling educational shows that were popular in the rural US about 100 years ago (and I'll credit the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for introducing me to this phenomenon). Only instead of educating the locals I let the locales educate me, and pass on some of this newfound knowledge here (but not to much to bore).

Antietam took place in 1862 when Lee, after venturing up to Maryland for awhile, dug in there and waited for McClellan to root him out. What resulted is a battle where each side basically decimated themselves by throwing troops at their opponents lines. The tactics are hard to follow, but then there may not be any, as European military historians reportedly don't study the US Civil War, which they characterize as "mob warfare". Nonetheless, there are three outcomes that I find noteworthy:

First, it was the bloodiest day ever in US military history with over 23,000 casualties on both sides. Damn.

Second, after all that bloodshed the battle is considered a draw - noone won. Historians generally say that had McClellan been more aggressive after this battle he could have delivered the coup de grace to Lee's army and precluded the need for three more years of fighting.

Third, despite the draw the battle ended Lee's foray into the north and gave Lincoln the pretext to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This means that after Antietam the Civil War was officially about freeing slaves.

Which makes a good segue for the next stop, Harper's Ferry WV, where John Brown made his stand. Its just down the road, 13 miles or so, and so the Chautauqua continues.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Slow & Steady. . .

gets the run over with.

Weather took a turn for the nasty. Temps in the 20s and who knows what windchill as the winds howled out of the northwest. Actually it was only a half-miserable run, as the wind was on my back for the other half. It was, however, strictly a run to fulfill the obligation. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that at least I wasn't racing today. Several folks I know headed down to Wilmington this morning to run in the Icicle Run. I wracked my brain but could not think of a reason for running this race unless one had foolishly preregistered.

So instead of doing a 10-mile race I did what I thought was a ten-mile loop. Turns out I ran the same loop I ran last Sunday, and forgot (perhaps I didn't forget subconsciously) that it was about a mile short. I did add a half mile onto the loop, part of which came after I inadvertantly almost stumbled across three medium sized brown dogs laying down on a secluded stretch of the Cobbs Creek bike path just past the butterfly sanctuary. I froze and did an immediate about face. In my decision to let sleeping dogs lie, I had to climb up a steep wooded bank and meander through some neighborhood blocks before getting back on the bike path as it rejoined Cobbs Creek Parkway. Folks are right, it is a dangerous neighborhood out there.

I was going to give Kevin J. shit about those dogs looking an awful lot like the foxes he says he's been seeing around Mt. Moriah. But there was an article in today's Inquirer about the mid-Winter bird count, where they mentioned that there were several fox and coyote sightings in unspecified parts of Philadelphia. Fox maybe, but coyote? I'd like to find out more about that.

Anyway, that doggie detour and a small add on at the end made for nine miles in a leisurely 79:43. Kept it easy and beat the wind by retreating into my inner space. I read up a bit on Antietam last night, and let those thoughts settle this morning.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Maryland Campaign

I spent a bit of time yesterday writing about Taneytown and how it was a staging area for Meade in the days prior to Gettysburg. This fascinated me and prompted me to read a little bit more about where I was running to as I plot my daily mileage out on gmap-pedometer and virtually travel somewhere with all of these miles I run in circles day after day.

So on my way to Antietam I went back about a year in time to 1862 when Lee took the Eastern theater of the Civil War up north into Maryland to both put a little pressure on Washington DC and to take the war out of Virginia and give the Southerners a respite. This cat-and-mouse running around Maryland became known as the Maryland Campaign, and culminated at the Battle of Antietam, where I should arrive in a couple of days. The tactics of this battle, and the overall campaign, are a bit hard to understand, and hopefully I'll get a better grip on them as I get closer to the battlefield. I linked on part of a website yesterday that I am continuing to use for my information on all this,, which is an excellent resource both in that it provides volumes of source material as well as briefer pieces where the webmaster, "Shotgun," digests it all for newbies like me.

Unfortunately I can't continue on the map where I trace my route through Maryland (scroll back a few days and you can see the latest version) as my internet connection is slow today, as it often is when we get alot of rain.

Which brings me to today's run. It was one of those come up with a course at the last minute deals. I originally wanted to go at 8:15 and do a "Doppel Looper" - twice around the Drives - but at 7 am there was the sound of rain pounding against the windows and I rolled over and slept to about 8:30. Cindy and I went out for the Philly Runners' 9:30 run, and I told her not to wait for me, I'll find my own way home.

In front of the Art Museum I teamed up with Craig and he paced me at a 7:25 clip around the drives for one loop (8.5 miles). This was fortunate, not only for the pacing but for the company that Craig provided. When we got back to the Art Museum he called it a day and I headed back up to MLK. The four miles up to the Falls River Bridge (for the second time) were a miserable affair, as the rain picked up and my legs wore down. Also slowed to a 7:50 pace. Then it was up the "BN" and back home through Fairmount, which I now know is exactly six miles, which means about an 8 minute pace. Total then is 18.5 and a long, slow run, which I really didn't have planned but worked out well. The latter part of the course picked up, as I got a second wind that was perhaps due to the GU I took at mile 10. I'm beginning to get sold on the usefulness of these things. The rain also stopped, leaving a comfortable mildness in its wake.

So the whole course, 18.5 miles, was run in 2:24:46. I measured the last 10 miles of the course here (might as well link to it as I plotted it out) and I already know the loop (with a little extra) is 8.5 miles.

Tonight is Philly Runners annual dinner, which I'm going to for the first time, and if I get in 10ish tomorrow I can finish the week in the mid 70's, not bad given I took Thursday off.

And finally, I saw Cindy as we were almost back to the Art Museum and to my amazement she was running. Only to get back to the car more quickly, she assured me later, but it turns out she ran more than 2 miles of her walking course today. Gotta encourage that, but not in a too open way (gotta know Cindy to understand that).

Friday, January 13, 2006


Netscape crashed and now I need to rewrite this entry. I guess that happens to everyone but it still sucks when it does happen. I tell other people that the consolation is that the piece you are rewriting usually comes out better than it was the first time around.

Anyway, Kevin J, Erin and I ran the 34th St. version of the Acme Loop this morning, 9.2 miles in 81:28. There was a dense fog this morning, leading to the odd situation where darkness faded to light but the visibility didn't get any better. Kevin was nearly blind as his glasses were all fogged up, and I offered my expert guiding services but he politely declined. Conversation ranged from Britney Spears to the Journal of the American Chemical Society. We also saw a pile of four car doors and a battery, which looked like someone had stripped a car of everything except those items.

I packed my stuff today to do a second workout on the treadmill, but have now changed my mind. My legs were feeling very beat up this morning, which was unusual because I took yesterday off. I was too damn tired yesterday to get up at 5:30 am and put in a workout in afterI arrived in Orlando late Wednesday night and weaseled in a 3-mile treadmill workout (21:21) before bed. I ordinarily would have got up and slogged through the workout (and the rest of the day), but I had to spend 5-hours in front of a roomful of people facilitating a workshop on cost studies. I'm always comforted on those occasions when I put my work ahead of my running.

So anyway, the day off did not seem to help my legs much. I now feel I'm on the edge of the maximum mileage that my body is able to physically sustain. I will either push back that threshold or break down and get injured (Achilles tendon would be the leading candidate if this happens). Oddly, that is where I want to be right now, pushing limits.

So on to more fun stuff. While I haven't mapped it out yet, I suspect that my mileage has now led me to blow through Taneytown MD.

I made this little detour south to "see" the town Steve Earle sings about in his hard rocking account of a lynching deriving from a case of mistaken identity. Taneytown is also the title of a short story in his book, Doghouse Roses. Earle says that the account is fictional, and that he chose Taneytown as the setting for the account to underscore that the conditions which spawned lynchings did not occur only in the deep South.

Plumbing the internet for information, the town has a population of about 5,100 and is about 98% white. There is no account of lynchings occuring in Taneytown (although as I mentioned last weekend there were race riots in the 70s in nearby York), but the blog "Unremitting Failure" reports that such an event could readily happen in Taneytown. Instead, UF reports in a subsequent post that Taneytown's main claim to fame seems to be as the place where Fred Gwynne, of The Munsters fame died (UF links to this site, where you can see a copy of FG's death certificate). Unremitting Failure cracked me up numerous times, and that only from scrolling down the site and looking at the pictures.

The other interesting, more significant piece I found about Taneytown is that it is the site where Meade bivouacked when he received command of the Army of the Potomac from Hooker just before the battle at Gettysburg. Meade constructed a line of defense along a ridge here that was known as the Pipe Creek Line, and but for a few turns of events the Battle of Gettysburg could have been the Battle of Taneytown. Civil War history is something I wished I spent more time on, and I admire the work of the guy I linked to in his detailed description (complete with a tour of the actual line) that brings to life this arcane piece of the Civil War. You don't do something like that unless you are passionate about it.

I'll keep going with the Civil War theme and head west, 50 miles or so, to Antietam.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Whistling Through the Graveyard

I'm getting into the habit of saying that I wont blog the next day and then I do.

Me and Erin went out at the usual time this morning, less than 12 hours and in the same darkness as our last run last night through Fairmount. My legs feel pretty shot, so while I wanted to cover some distance I was in no mood to take it fast. In the words of John Bingham, "No need for speed." So we crossed West Philadelphia under the cover of darkness and made it to Cobbs Creek down to Mt. Moriah cemetery, which we cut through, whistling, over to Kingsessing. It got light just as we got to Mt. Moriah, which was about the same point it got light at last Wednesday. When our legs are beat our mouths seem to pick up the slack, as the conversation flowed and made the time go much faster than the it would have otherwise. The warm weather continues!

Conservatively (I don't have time to measure) its 7.5 miles in 67:05.

I mentioned last night that I ran (virtually) through Gettysburg last night. A little skirmish was fought there during the Civil War. Me and Cindy went camping down there a few years back and were pretty typical of the couples there, where I was dragging Cindy around all over the battlefield and explaining the progression and tactics of the battle and she pretended to sound interested. Its worth going there just to see how many times that scenario is repeated during the day. But its a great place to visit if you are at all into military history (and most likely a guy) as the battle unfolds visually very clearly there: the opening skirmishes of the first day; the second day when the South almost pulls off victory; and then as the tide turns on the third day and Lee has Pickett charge his men into the Union lines with disastrous results. And that is just scraping the surface. I need to go back there IRL.

Now I turn south and head into Maryland. I have two immediate destinations in mind, which I'll reveal when I get there. I already peeked at one town that piqued my interest, and that is the main point of this exercise, to see how much I can learn about little nooks and crannies of the US. I don't have an overall destination or even a general direction in mind yet, but am just making it up as I go along.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I pulled into Gettysburg, was bout feeling half past dead. . .

Made it through Gettysburg today by going 6.5 miles this morning (55:31) on a solo Art Museum loop and 8.0 this evening (60:24) on a merry chase through Fairmount Park with Ian, Erin and John W.

Lots of stuff going through my head but no time to write these thoughts down. And tomorrow I leave for Florida, so this blog will likely be down for a day or two.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday Twoaday

Got two workouts in today. The first one was with Kevin and Erin on a slightly truncated 34th St. extension of the Acme Loop. I believe it was the first time Kevin has done one of these things.

Nothing too tough, 9 miles in 75.54. The weather was perfect for running, 40s and overcast. Its been like this for about a week now, I'll take it for as long as it lasts. The compelling question of the morning was, in states with deposits for bottles and cans, who pockets the nickel when the consumer doesn't return the container?

My most memorable running experience of the day was lunch. I grabbed a quick soup and salad at a cafeteria that is on the top (16th) floor of the building where I do my work out of at Penn. I don't go there much, but when I do I always make sure to sit by the windows that wrap around three sides of the joint. You get a birds eye view of West Philadelphia and Center City and I spent lunch just studying the neighborhood from on high.

I could see 34th St. from where we picked it up this morning at Penn all the way out to the big white hot air balloon that marks the zoo. From there, the houses give way to rolling hills and brown trees, signaling Fairmount Park. Memorial Hall is another landmark I saw that we ran by this morning and then I could just make out the direction, but not the precise coordinates, of the rest of our loop. It struck me how compact everything looked, much different than when you're at woodchuck's eye level slogging out every mile step by step. Neighborhoods also looked undifferentiated, without specifically picking out Spring Garden St., you couldn't tell where Powelton Village becomes Mantua, although that border is very distinct, in a socioeconomic sense, when you're on the ground.

Transformed perspectives lead to transformed paradigms. Just ask Picasso.

That made the second workout anticlimactic, as I did 3 miles (20:33) on the hamster wheel when I got back to USP. Ramped it up to 6 minute pace and a level 4 grade for the middle mile or so. This got me puffing but not gulping; about where I wanted it as today is an easy day. I had to complain about the condition of the treadmills, as one was out of order, the second one's tread stuttered and skipped, the third was loud and rattly and felt slow for the 1/4 mile that I was on it, and the fourth (out of 4) was okay. Terry, the ARC czar, pleaded a meager repair budget and I told her to just tell me who to yell to then. Stay tuned, as I'll vent here if this becomes a bigger problem.

Lastly, I'm very tired. I spent too much time playing with some new data matching software that I got my grubby hands on and which had me compulsively learning it over the weekend (Scott will know what that is like), which competed with prepping for a workshop I'm leading down in Orlando on Thursday. As a result I went to bed way too late last night/this morning and was up again at 5:30 to run. Thus I have been dragging all day (my mom will shake her head disapprovingly about now). So I vowed to go to bed by 10 tonight and am already running late.

So good night.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Short Course

This was a run I made up on the fly. I thought we'd be going to church this morning but Cindy had to do some work and so I thought if I did a loop from Locust out to Cobbs Creek down to Woodland and back on 46th, it would get me 10 or so miles. Turns out it was only 8.5 miles, which I ran in 67:12. Overcast and in 40s, great running conditions. Being a Sunday morning, all was quiet. I started off slow and creaky and got a head of steam as I headed back down Woodland on the long straightaway through the series of urban villages that for which this street is the main drag. For some reason running on this street energizes me, perhaps to get home quicker. Even though this course was short, I just squeaked in 80 miles this week, which was my goal.

My oddysey across the US continues here, as I blew through York PA this morning. I don't recall ever being in York IRL (in real life), and I can think of three things I know about the town. First, I had a colleague in Texas who I got an email from a few years back as having moved to York. We talked about getting our families together but never did. Second is that York is a center for the manufacture of hard pretzels, although I can't find too much info on this connection online. And third is that York was a scene of some major race riots some 35 or so years ago, news of which resurfaced a few years ago with some court trials. I started researching some of this stuff online but don't want to get sucked into it, so I only got up to the official York PA website, which claims that York was the first capital of the US. As a Philadelphia resident, I am very skeptical here and will shake the dust off of my boots as I leave this town. Next stop is Gettysburg, which should be a couple of days away.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Run With the Punches

Cindy and I planned to make it down to the PR's Saturday morning run. I'll usually find some company on these runs and Cindy wants to get more involved with the group, and it gets her walking as well.

Those plans were quickly dashed as we got a flat tire on the way to the Art Museum. Fortunately, we noticed it half a block from the Getty station on 40th & Powelton and pulled in there to get it fixed. I was in shorts and was cold in the 30 degree temps, Cindy insisted that I just go run and after sticking around to see what the damage would be (the tire was shot) I took off, with a guilty conscience.

I said I'd meet Cindy at the Starbucks off Callowhill at 11:30 or so, so my mind was preoccupied about the route I should take. I missed the group by about 5 or 10 minutes and decided to go up Kelly Drive to see who I could reel in. A little before Lloyd Hall I saw Dierdre, a sometime running companion and 2:41 marathoner, going the other way and I turned around to join her for the last part of her run, which ended up going back past the Art Museum, down the Schuylkill Bike Path, into Center City and back up the Franklin Parkway to Race St, where she went home and I went back to the bike path. This was a fortunate encounter, as for these roughly four miles we caught up on things running and also on our academic pursuits, and resolved to hook up for some long runs.

I don't like divulging too much of conversations I have with folks while running, as I feel that there should be an expectation of a reasonable degree of privacy, but I'm jealous enough of Deirdre to say that she scored a trip to Jamaica at the end of this month to appear in a 10k race down there. I'm glad she's able to leverage her considerable talent to get those kind of opportunities.

I also realize why I need to make more of an effort to run with fast people. Running with Deirdre brought my sluggish 8 minute pace down into the low 7's, and got me on track to run the 4-mile MLK stretch in 28:40 and the 4-mile Kelly Drive return in 27:04, which means I took the combined Drives at sub 7. It feels really good to just cruise (best word I can think of to describe the feeling) like that. Met up with Cindy and returned home.

14 total in 98:56. Was planning on doing more, but had to adapt my run to various logistics and the result was a very satisfying run. This gives me about 71 sofar for the week and means with tomorrow's run I should top 80. This is about as high as I've gotten in my training, although I hope to first run consistent 80 mile weeks and then push that up a bit as the year progresses. After today, though, I gotta like where I'm at. But the year has just begun.

This entry is a bit more relaxed than the entries I've made over the last week. I also want to add that I didn't get to write at all yesterday, and I won't go into detail except to write that I had a double workout day: 9 (actually 9.2) miles in the morning with Erin in an expanded Acme Loop in 79:04 and 3 miles on the hamster wheel at lunch in 22:22. This morning's run was also powered by the excellent migas we ate last night at Amada in Old City.

I guess the more time I spend running the less spare minutes I have left for blogging. That's the same reason why I don't stretch after I run. But I do have a few minutes to do one thing now that I'd like to add as a regular feature to the blog this year, and that is chart a course through the US from the miles I've logged. So go have a Gatorade or pop a GU while I put 71 miles on a course.

There I'm done and you can check out how far I've got here. I haven't planned out any route or destination, all I know is that I want to avoid interstates and stick to state roads as I head westward. So I decided to take a direct way out of town and headed 71 miles up route 30, which starts here in Philly as Lancaster Ave and is the main artery of the upscale suburbs known as the Main Line and then past there goes through farm country that leads to and through Lancaster and beyond. My 71 miles sofar this year has me just shy of the Susquehannah River. Next time I'll look around and set some sort of an intermediate destination, right now I'm just glad to be out of the metro area. And I just remembered, I also have an extra 10 miles from New Years Day, but I'll tack that on the next time I post.

To infinity and beyond!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Into the Dark Foggy Morning

Another 6am run, this time by myself. I ran the hilly 12 mile loop that was a staple of my marathon training last fall. While I didn't want to hammer it, I tried to keep a brisk pace for as long as I could. This translated to about 7:30 mile pace in those areas that were marked, and a 95:25 for the whole course. The workout wasn't so much anaerobic as it was pushing my wornout legs to keep up over the last few miles.

It was dark and foggy when I started, and the run was into the mist. The humidity and the cool (but not cold) temperature were pleasant, and it got light out just about at the farthest point in the run - the Falls River Bridge.

Again, pressed for time this morning so I'll leave a bookmark there. I feel like I'm still adjusting, still getting a feel for how the New Year's routine, both running and writing, will turn out. All I know is sofar (5 days in) I'm logging beaucoup miles, and if that continues everything else will fall into place.

PS - Bruce, in a comment yesterday, asked if that was me on Spruce yesterday morning at about 7:15. By that time and place, it must have been some other good looking runner, although I was going down Pine/up Locust a half-hour later and up Spruce (for about a block) about an hour earlier.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Early Morning Grind

The last part of my regular training regimen came back into place - the 6am MWF run. I didn't know how much I enjoyed the respite from these runs until the alarm went off at 5:25 this morning.

It's mainly that 5:25 to 6:05 time period that makes these runs tough. Once I get on the road, warm up, and meet up with Erin and, today, Kevin J (second time in 12 hours), things pick up. Today was tough as well as I had run last night, and was now running a second time in the same darkness.

It was good to catch up with Erin and Kevin, and among other things get some belated and fragmented accounts of how they did in the Philly marathon back in November (the last time I had seen them). Erin is one of three people I can think of who ran a BQ on her first marathon, and she has now taken her customary position, on the fence, about actually running Boston.

We ran out to Cobbs Creek and the darkness lifted just about as we were running through Mt. Moriah cemetery as we cut over to Kingsessing Ave. After we looped back near home I ran down to 39th St. and back up Locust to stretch the run out to 9.5 miles. Total time was 82:10; good recovery pace.

I had all these ideas of areas I want to explore in this blog this year and sofar have not had time to do anything beyond just reporting on the day's run. This morning's run was the start of what promises to be another long day as I will not see home again until about 10 after coming back from Graterford. Just gotta hang in there today; and things will slow down again.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back in Philly

From 83 degrees on New Years Day in Texas to rainy all day and in the 40s in Philly.

First, for the record, I ran 11.5 miles in about 94 minutes yesterday, doing a shorter version of the loop I did last Friday. Last run in Arlington, and again a strong headwind. Then off in a plane and back to Philly at around midnight.

Today I did a two-fer. On my lunch hour I did 4 on the hamster wheel. I took it up to 6 minute pace for two of those miles and finished in about 26:15. I felt like I was just getting warmed up when the run was over.

This evening I went out with the Tuesday night Philly Runner folks. Cindy actually wanted to go so she could walk and we could hang out a bit with the club at Bishops Collar afterwards. I rarely go to the Tuesday run and didn't realize that nobody wanted to go over 5 miles, when I was looking to do a full 8.5 mile loop. So I ran the first 2.5 miles with Kevin J. and English Mike, whereupon they turned around and I kept on running into the night. A dark, lonely, and drizzly run. I timed an early 4 miles at 29:29, and then without trying sped up a bit to run the next three in 19:52 before cooling down and finishing the 8.5 mile loop in 60:20.

I dislike running in the evenings, especially in the dark, for a variety of reasons. Among them is the idea that it is not getting any lighter, which is at least a consolation in the mornings. I was also a bit miffed that no one seemed to be in training mode. I'm always of the mindset that the miles you log in Jan and Feb lays the groundwork for the rest of the year. This left me feeling farther apart from the crowd. A feeling that became visual on the last few miles of the run when I could look over what seemed a vast expanse of water to see the far off headlights going down Kelly Drive. You get the picture.

I did get to see Scott this evening, which is a rare treat as our paths don't cross too often. He may have a different take on tonight's run.

And the post run get together was cancelled, as people supposedly felt too wet and cold to do any socializing. Dunno what to make of that other than I didn't mind spending a bit more time with the kids. And now its off to do grocery shopping.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year’s Day 5-Mile Run

I fell asleep last night around 11:30, and instead of appearing like a deadbeat I could just say that I was prepping for this morning’s race. Cindy, Tony and myself get to the race, in a Dallas park called Flagpole Hill, in plenty of time. It’s a run about the size of your average weekend 5k on the Drives in Philly, and it’s a similar atmosphere, with lots of camaraderie among apparent regulars in the Dallas running scene.

I see that the race logo is an almost abstract depiction of a younger looking guy with a “2006” bib number crossing the finish just before an older looking guy with a “2005” bib number. When I register I’m prepared to request number 2005 until I see that their bibs don’t go into four digits.

At the starting line I look around for likely competitors. I talk to one of them, a college cross-country looking type, he warns me that an early morning drizzle has left the course slippery. I thank him and we wish each other luck. The horn blows and I have little trouble getting out front until a short, Latino looking guy bolts past me. I hang onto him for about a half mile until he fades and suddenly I’m alone. First mile goes by in 5:29, right at goal pace, and I settle in with that haunted feeling of having the lead with a long way to go. The course is now on a bike path and is indeed slick, and mile 2 passes in 5:47. I sneak a peek behind me and can barely see the #2 guy. The race gets lonely now. At the turnaround I see that I have at least a 400 meter lead and ease up a little. Mile 3 is in 5:58, Mile 4 in 6:08; and Mile 5 in 6:05. However, the slower I go, the longer my lead gets. I finish in 29:27, the second place guy (also a master) finishes in 32 something.

A day where I feel better about my finishing place than about my time. Plenty of excuses to explain the latter, including the slick course, humid and warm (about 70 degrees) conditions, and a steady headwind waiting for me at the turnaround. But the bottome line is that I just couldn’t keep it in 5:30 gear with a lead like that. So I put on my B game and cruised in at marathon pace. As per the Southern stereotype, people were friendly and congratulatory toward me, an outsider, and expressed admiration at a finishing time that I wasn’t particularly proud about. But that is my problem, and in a time of year that is the running equivalent to exhibition season, its not a particularly big problem.

Warmed up for a mile and cooled down for another 4, giving me 10 miles total for the day. Also got in a good spell of Hacky-Sack with Tony, which is a good way both to warm up and to wait for the awards ceremony. Cindy, as always, was the #1 fan. And now I can kick back for the rest of the day.

We return to Philly tomorrow.