Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Emotional Cocktail

Since you been gone, I realize
That you were wrong, I'm a pretty good guy
- Chris Knight

Met KJ & Silas to run to the Art Museum, where we met up with John Dubs and English Mike for a jaunt through Fairmount Park. Up and over Lemon Hill, past the reservoir to Strawberry Mansion Bridge (where KJ left us), back over Belmont Plateau and past the Botanical Gardens, Memorial Hall, and the zoo (where English Mike left us) through Powelton Village and Drexel/Penn campuses, over the South Street bridge and up the Schuylkill bike path back to the Art Museum. Here John continued his quest for his last 20 miler before Chicago and I headed back to my West Philly home.

I don't know how well that reads, but it sure writes nicely. Philadelphia is such a rich city in terms of stuff tucked away in its nooks and crannies, like exploring your grandparents attic. We've been running in and around Fairmount Park for so long that we tend to take alot of this for granted, and writing it up, just stringing together one thing to another (with a ton of stuff I never even mentioned), brings up again how fortunate we are to have this area to run. One of the many conversation topics covered during this morning's run was how spoiled we are when we complain of how tired we are of running the Drives. I'd take just the Drives over Central Park or any other running turf (except maybe Cobbs Creek) any day.

And I'll save how fortunate I am to have such a good posse of running peeps for another day.

The endorphins must have mixed with the serotonins this morning to make this emotional cocktail. Either that or writing here gets me to think about what I've got.

One of those leisurely, meandering, won't ever be repeated in exactly the same way again loops. Call it 16.5 miles in 2:14:17. This closes out September with 210 miles. Not bad given all the racing, moving and traveling I've had this month.

Friday, September 29, 2006

One Day Forward. . .

two days back. Took a DNR yesterday to catch up on sleep, and overslept this morning as well, so I only managed a 36th St. loop (2.5+ miles in 24:33) . I'll get a few more miles in this afternoon.

In hindsight, living out of boxes, still moving stuff in, dealing with getting kids off to school from another house, not to mention work and trying to maintain a life all create obstacles for maintaining a regular training regimen. So I have to draw upon two unheralded strengths that develop through my running while I busily focus on other things - 1) patience & 2) the security of knowing that, somewhere, there is a finish line.

Was running up Locust Walk when I saw the front end of a running stroller overtake me. I took this as an affront until I saw KJ at the other end of it. He just got back from Vegas, where he seemed not to have had any Elvis sightings but did wonder if he was the first tourist to visit the Clark County Library.


Did make it out this afternoon. Did a mile with Tony on what I now call Tony's loop (46th to Larchwood to 43rd and back up Pine to 46th to the start). Time was 9:37, new loop record. Also ran an Art Museum loop afterwards. I wanted to go easy but my legs wanted to go fast. Sped it up going down 31st St. and just kept going faster. Joy. Got that same urge going up Locust Walk and sped it up, running through the college crowd, to where I got to pursesnatching pace. I love running! Loop was 6.5 in 44:55. Total 7.5 in 54:32, giving me 10 for the day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ode to Exuberance

Today I feel like I'm back in training. After the last five weeks of racing, its back to basics and regrouping - setting my eyes on California International Marathon on December 3.

67 days . . . 9.5 weeks.

This was my first hard training day in weeks and to kick things off I took on an old nemesis - the BN loop. I wanted to take the hard parts at increased but not tempo effort. This led to four river miles in 25:50 (sub-6:30 pace) and for the BN hill/Belmont Plateau leg all I wanted to do was maintain effort. I got too overeager, however, and got anaerobic going up BN, and kept up that effort the rest of the way so that the summit checkpoint (in 9:23) and the plateau checkpoint (in 17:37) were faster than I should have gone. Of course this thrilled me. The last 3.5 or so miles, cooldown, felt like the ass end of a marathon. Just really sore legs.

These times will come down. One of the most rewarding parts of my summer training was running this course each week and knocking seconds off of these splits each time I went out. This workout sets the table for that process again. This loop on Thursdays, track workouts on Tuesdays, long runs with the PTC boys on Sundays, and lots of mileage in between. There you got my training plan.

The best word to describe this feeling I have towards bearing down again is infatuation. In the last few days that I've hit the streets, the first few miles are run on sheer exuberence at being out there, and by the time I've burnt this off the pace has been set. I feel like anythings possible, that there are no speed limits. I know this feeling won't last, but I sure love it while its around.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In short. . .

A little farther today, going out to the river again this morning but taking MLK to Montgomery and looping back. Had Dylan's Modern Times on the iPod and, whatever the merits of this cd may be, most of it is not ideal for running to. Nonetheless, I did maintain a 7/7:30 pace through the run without really trying.

In short another glorious morning to be out there. 9 miles in 67:49.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Learn to Fly

First cut off of Carbon Leaf's just-released cd. Catchy, good to run to, and sets the tone for an excellent album. And it doesn't hurt that the title works for my life right now on several different levels.

And fly I did this morning. I left from my new place and tore it up such that it felt more like an afternoon run than a sleepy early morning jaunt. Ran a Sweetbriar loop and got to the Art Museum in under 25 minutes, went sub 7 on the MLK part, and just felt fast without really trying. If days like this keep creeping into my training, then CIM is going to be big.

Its a long road to CIM, but this morning was a promising first step. 8 miles in 54:27.

A dirty bird like me will learn to fly ~ Carbon Leaf


Got in a short afternoon workout. Tony was supposed to run the Parkway Run with me but couldn't drag his butt out of bed on Sunday. That's okay, no pressure. But perhaps to assuage his guilt he asked if he could go running with me today. So we did a mile down to 43rd St. and looping back around via Pine. 10:04. I told him that tomorrow we'd try to break the ten minute mark on this loop and he is gung ho to try. I added on 2.5 with a 36th St. loop through Penn. On the Locust St. hill between 43rd and 45th I ran into Tony's best friend Julian and his dad, Jeff, riding home on their bikes. I raced them up that hill and beat Julian handily. Still had all the exhileration I felt this morning. See how things go tomorrow. 3.5 (for me, total) in 28:36.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Parkway Run 5k

I realize this is the fifth weekend in a row that I've been racing. There's a term for that in the runner's lingo, especially when it involves running for prizes, but since my mother checks into this blog I'll leave it at that.

I've described Parkway Run last year, as this is my fourth time running it. I just read over last years entry and was entertained by my writeup, and realized how many of the details I had forgotten. That is one reason I keep this blog.

Its also interesting to see how this years race is essentially the same as last years. Temps were a little warmer, but alot of people on Logan Square. As I predicted yesterday, I was not in top racing form. Yesterdays workout, plus I spent all day moving (I'm now about 2/3's out of the house and into the apartment), and I was out late going to see a Charlotte Martin concert. I've been listening to "CharMar" recently, although her techno-y singer-songwriter obsessing-over-relationships type music is not exactly my style, in the right moments its fit my mood. But I found the concert very so-so. Anyway, it was hard getting up at 6:30 and running the three miles over to Logan Circle for the 8:30 start.

As was the case last year, the start was delayed and I used the time to yap with my occasional long-run buddy and local running meister Ross Martinson and line up near him so as not to get stuck in the crush around the circle that I experienced last year. This worked well and after the starting horn sounded I had little trouble with folks jamming up the course ahead of me. After things shook out it was Ross in front, my Phila PAC teammate Matt Vavala (whom I met for the first time today, really funny guy) in second, and I then tuck in behind Villanova running legend and 2004 Olympian Carmen Douma Hussar. Mile 1 in 5:19 and Carmen and I are working together. Mile 2 in 5:24 and I look to surge past Carmen and catch up with Matt. Matt is fading and it is no problem to overtake him, Carmen sticks behind me. I know she is primarily a miler and should have a stronger kick than I at the finish, so I try and put as much distance as I can between us. But it doesn't work, as she flies past me in the homestretch and nips me by two seconds. My last 1.1 mile goes by in 5:55 (5:23 pace) for a total time of 16:38. Third place overall, second male finisher (Ross finished first by about 45 seconds).

Steve Gelman's step-daughter, who is maybe 6 or 7, comes up to me and says, "You got beaten by a girl." I said, that ain't no girl, that's a legend. I wondered whether I could have found a few seconds more if I had been better rested but it doesn't really matter. Fourth fastest 5k I ever ran and alot better than I had a right to expect.

I ran about 20 seconds faster than I had in each of my last three Parkway Runs, and there was considerably less competition this year. My third place time this year would have gotten me 10th place last year. But once again I won an overnight stay in a Philly hotel, this time the Westin. And more importantly, the third incarnation of team EZ on the Eyz, this time with Kevin F. replacing Ian and John Dubs replacing Jmac, handily won the team competition and the accompanying spoils - dinner for 10 at the Fountain Restaurant, which, according to their website is rated by Zagat as the top restaurant in Philadelphia. And probably the most expensive. This is the third straight year EZotE has won this honor, and I'm always amazed that there never is more competition for it.

So, I remarked, alls I have to do now is get a date for the dinner. To which Kevin shot back that I should require that whoever I took to the Fountain would also have to come to the Westin.

Here's a good hill workout, courtesy of the FreshGrocer. Their elevator from the store to the parking garage broke down, leaving me stranded in the store with a cartload of groceries. So I took the cart around and up the ramps to the third floor of the garage. Pushing that cart on the fairly steep incline was not what my legs needed after racing 5k, but I'm sure they are stronger for it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Went down to the Art Museum this morning to check in with my Philly Runner peeps. elizabeth had drawn out this 16-mile course, and English Mike and John Dubs showed up as well. We set out to go at 8 minute mile pace, and started even slower to accommodate two other runners who showed up thinking the regular PR run was still at 8 am (its now at 9:30). But elizabeth and I kept getting ahead of the rest, even though the pace seemed really slow. Finally after winding our way through Fairmount Park and ending up on Ridge Ave on the way to Manayunk, without saying anything to each other we just picked up the pace to where it didn't feel so agonizingly slow. I don't know what was up with John and Mike, they usually run these at a much faster clip. Maybe John's blog will have an answer.

After Manayunk e & I crossed into Montgomery County and ran Belmont back to City Line. These are some of the best hills in the area, and we took them strong without charging them. elizabeth is a good runner when she stays healthy. I ran with her some last fall before a couple of freak injuries took her out of marathon training, and I think she only fully recovered over the summer. Should she stay healthy, she should do very well in her fall marathon. From there we ran back through Fairmount, along the reservoir, over Lemon Hill and back to the Art Museum. She offered thanks for my pushing her to a faster pace; I said thanks for keeping me honest on some very dead legs. Never realized that women engage in pissing contests too.

Parkway Run 5k is tomorrow, see if team "EZ on the Eyz" can defend our title. Last year that team title got us dinner for 10 at the Four Seasons. It would be awesome, but unlikely that we repeat that. A peak performance is likewise unlikely tomorrow, as I probably did a longer workout than I should have today and looking forward to what may be a late night tonight as well.

And lastly, I finally got to see the Rocky Statue in its new resting place. It is just off on the lawn by the fountain where PR usually meets. Already tourists are posing in front of it raising their arms in the air. That is truly art.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ian in Berlin

I realized on the run this morning that the Berlin Marathon is this weekend. Ian is running it, and probably over there already. Ian, I've been too preoccupied to have wished you Godspeed before you left, so I'll have to send it telepathically. And if you do get to read this, a little tip: when you overtake someone and you want to politely ask him/her to step aside, the proper and polite German phrase is Aus dem Weg, Aschloch.

Shake and bake, bro!

Zeke's blog is one of the few non-local blogs I still check in with, and I've been feeling bad lately as he writes often about his beloved Twins, who now should get the AL wildcard, and I have been feeling neglectful this year about the Phillies, who are in the thick of the NL wildcard race. My problem is that I basically gave up on them when they swooned in June, writing them off as a .500 team that lack the spark they needed to be a playoff contender. They have been like that for at least the last four or five years, and I was sick of it. So I resolved then to have one less heartache in my life, and now they are back in the thick of things. And I feel guilty, feel like one of those things I despise - a fair weather fan. What's to do?

Well they haven't won the wildcard yet. Whenever I see Kathy, the secretary at the center at Penn where I have an adjunct appointment, we always banter a bit about them Fightin' Phils. So I asked her yesterday if she thinks the Phils will do it this year and she flatly said no. She gave essentially the same answer that I had in June, that they lacked the oompf to bring it home. The difference is that this doesn't keep Kathy from being immersed in the thick of the playoff race, while I'm watching this one from the sidelines. I guess I will not attain the status of true Philadelphian until I learn to unconditionally and repeatedly offer the local sports teams my total vulnerability despite knowing what will happen to it.

Where did all that come from? I think I need to get my focus back. This morning's run was with KJ and Silas. KJ has been on the mend from foot problems, and the 5.5 mile Cobbs Creek loop, going home on Thomas St., was the longest he's gone in three weeks. He said it felt good this morning, and that is encouraging. Did that part in 46 flat and then went on solo and did a Franklin Field loop in another 26:44. Went the extra miles mainly to run past Penn's Fine Arts Library in the morning sun. When the conditions and the timing are right, there are few sights more beautiful.

Total 9 miles in 72:44.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

New Life

Since coming to Philly back in 1995 and taking up this accursed hobby, my addiction has been enabled by a regular progression of excellent running partners. This started all the way back in 1996 with Jeff L. and Jenny, who first showed me routes like the Drives and Forbidden Drive that are now so familiar that they seem etched into my genetic code. I trained for my first marathon, Philly 1997, and beyond with Jeff G, who subsequently moved to Ohio, is back in the area, and who I now do some work with professionally. Then it was Tony L. and Marc for awhile, until Marc moved to DC and Tony's work got more intense at about the same time my running got more intense. Not long after that I hooked up with Erin and together we have accumulated the present group of overeducated misfits that constitute what I call Club West Philly.

The reason I bring this up today is because there was a message in my inbox from a Magdalena S. My spam radar immediately went up but the title "Introducing Rosario by m&m" was intriguing enough to click. I was rewarded by a slew of baby pictures and I wondered who is sending me these until, scrolling farther down, I saw Marc's pic with the newborn baby. The reason Marc had went to DC was to live with Magdalena (I had long forgotten her name) back in say around 01 or 02, and the relationship has now borne fruit. This is great news from out of the blue.

Marc was/is a good runner, but Ultimate Frisbee was/is always his first love. He is one of the most enthusiastic people I now and was tireless with his organizing activities. I remember numerous runs playing devil's advocate with various issues, like predatory lending, that he was organizing around, and his responses were invariably not only well informed but passionate. Doing this stuff left Marc chronically poor, and when we went out I always made it a point to pay, as a payback for the days when I was poor like that and lots of folks treated me better than they should have. All this and more comes back now with these photos and I wish you well and offer my congratulations, Marc. And Rosario is beautiful!

Speaking of new life, I heard that Tony and his wife Annalisa, the former of whom was a running partner of mine about the same time I ran with Marc, are also expecting. This again is excellent news and reminds me that I need to look him up, as he still lives in the 'hood.

New life is the manifestation of God's opinion that the world should keep going. And far be it from me to argue with that. But I do need to be reminded of that from time to time, and timing is good here. And there is no better way to do it than like this.

And all this comes on a day where the running was rather nondescript. Deirdre came by and Allan blew us off. Which was just as well, because we both had dead legs and cut our planned eight mile route - Cobb's Creek to Woodland and back - short by returning down Springfield instead. I think I've got Deirdre's arm twisted enough to where she'll run the Parkway Run 5k with PAC TC and we will finally have a fast female on our Grand Prix team. As always, stay tuned.

6 miles in 47:01.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

11 or 6 to 4

Alarm was set for 5:30, when I got up it was 6:15, by the time I finally got out it was 6:45. Thus a planned SMB loop was reduced to an Art Museum loop was reduced to a Franklin Field loop. I'm really tired.

And even those plans changed when I was running down Baltimore Ave and saw Deirdre, Jody and Erin running around Clark Park. The fecund one wanted to stay close to a restroom, Jody was recovering from his half marathon debut, and Deirdre, well she was being a good sport and probably hoping to find another $10 bill on the sidewalk.

So I joined them for three more laps around the park (@ .7 miles a pop) whereupon Erin and Jody stopped and me and Deirdre ran to 36th St. I turned left and headed up Locust Walk back home and Deirdre went straight. From there I just hammered it home for the joy of being able to do so.

Conservatively (always), 4.5 miles in 37:29.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Own Private Marathon

I dig my heels into the dirt; this one's gonna hurt. (Charlotte Martin)

I thought that as I woke up this morning, bleary eyed at 5:30 and, after those few seconds of orienting myself to where I was, realizing that I had agreed to run with Allen this morning.

Allen's timing for popping back to West Philly couldn't have been better. Pregnancy and injury and the like is wreaking havoc with the Club West Philly regulars, so its good to have new blood. And, like running with Deirdre, there's no tail dragging with him. We ran down Cobbs Creek to Woodland and down to 43rd, about 7/7:30 pace but conversational. And a good conversation it was - guy conversation: spurts of talk punctuated by periods of silence. It's good to have him back. And contrary to expectations, pain did not set in until we were well down Woodland; I feel recovered already. 8.5 miles in 61:21.

And I'm back in Philly, no more trips for awhile. These last two weeks have been brutal, and my last day of this is today, where I have yet one more conference to present at, but fortunately its here in Philly. It feels like a marathon, and like a marathon the finish can't come soon enough. But its just about here now.

And finally, I appreciate all the support that continues to come my way. I'm still riding a high from it. But I'm also feeling the pressure: Duncan says now I need to train for a 2:30 marathon, Allen says 2:25. Hell, I'm still trying to break 2:40.

Monday, September 18, 2006


As promised, a race report from 40,000 feet [although I'm not getting to post it until now]. Its somehow unfair that there is this great race in my backyard in the morning and I have to fly out to Denver in the afternoon like some fitness tourist.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Philadelphia Distance Run, it is one of the premier US half marathons, drawing 12,000 people this year to a fast course. Eight of the 13.1 miles are run on MLK and Kelly Drives – run on my home turf where I know every rise, dip and pothole.

Got a call from Allen yesterday, who blew back into town after spending the summer off in various points west. Me, him, his girlfriend and another friend who’s running headed down to the race together. I get there and hook up with Bill, the fearless leader of the team I’m running for, and we warm up a bit, running into folks we know along the way. The day is sunny and warm, a bit too warm but nothing to complain about after Virginia Beach.

A strange calm comes over me as I’m in the corral waiting for the start. I just keep repeating “patience” to myself in a mantra-like fashion as the National Anthem gets sung and the wheelchair athletes start. The gun sounds and there is more congestion around me than I’d like, but my chants pay off and I wait. We are going down the Ben Franklin Parkway from the Art Museum past Love Park to City Hall, and the city looks gorgeous to the point where I’m proud to be a local. About this time mile 1 ticks off in 5:38 and it feels easy. Mile 2 continues to wind its way through Center City and clocks in at 5:28. This is fast, ordinarily too fast, but I’m calm. I feel great and my gut is unequivocal – go with it.

The race now becomes a familiar scene, I’m steadily overtaking clusters of runners and somehow miss the 3-mile mark (5k in ). Mile 3 & 4 pass in 11:21, a bit slower and still comfortable. Going up 15th Street and the stench of garbage greets us; the dark side of this (yes) beautiful city. Around this point I pick up another guy and we’re working together like an amoeba, continually gobbling up folks – he overtaking on one side and me on the other.

Mile 5 (5:33) and now we’re on the Drives. We pass Emily around this point. We run halves at about the same time and this is a good benchmark that I’m running strong. I can now anticipate all of the mile markers, and know that I need to hold steady here and prep for the only real hill on this course located just before Falls River Bridge at Mile 9. Mile 6 in 5:28 and the 10km chip checkpoint passes in 34:40. This is only seconds off of my personal best for this distance and I get the feeling a pitcher must get when he realizes he’s got a no-hitter going. And I’m hardly breaking a sweat.

My plan now becomes to hold it steady until the crossover to Kelly Drive. This means I lose my buddy #1, who picks up his pace and is gone. But a second guy steps up and we start working together. Miles 7 & 8 in 5:31 and 5:38 respectively, and I hold my own on the hill and across the bridge to hit mile 9 in another 5:38. Just another tempo run up MLK, I tell myself. I get a boost when I turn right on Falls River bridge, a welcome break from having to make the left turn that I usually do when I work out on this stretch and take on the painful ascent affectionately known as Bloody Nipple hill.

By now all I have to do is hang on, and a personal best is assured. I am, however, starting to tire. Buddy #2 pulls ahead, and I can’t hang. Mile 10 in 5:41, with the mile 10 checkpoint showing 55:58. Still in the no-hit zone. But I’m alone now and starting to slow. Footsteps start coming up behind me. Mile 11 in 5:45 and that will be my slowest mile of the day. A guy is coming up on me hard and I find I can still dig deep to respond as he overtakes me. For the rest of the race we swap surges and pass a few folks. This I later find out is Greg Watson, a local masters triathlete and better known as husband of local celebrity/weather person Cecily Tynan. Mile 12 drops back down to 5:33 and I know this will be big. Mile 13 passes in 5:43, due in part to the insidious uphill Kelly Drive takes on after Lloyd Hall. And then it’s a sprint to the finish. Watson outkicks me but we overtake two additional guys in the process.

I glance up at the finish clock and its ticking off in the 1:13’s. This is rarefied air for a guy with a previous best of 1:15. The official (chip) finishing time is 1:13:35 (1:13:43 gun).

1:13! I am stunned. In my best case scenarios I had hoped to dip into the 1:14s. I finish with Duncan, who usually finishes well ahead of me, and he immediately recognizes the hugeness of this for me. He gives me a sweaty hug and warm congratulations and I babble something incomprehensible back. Duncan, if you’re reading this, thanks for your presence there, it was just what I needed. I find Allen, who ran what for him was a pedestrian 1:12 something, and deadpans that had I overtook him, he really would have known he was in trouble. Others cross, Kevin F. and Bill, the next finishers on our team, both go sub 1:30, and Mike, our fourth guy, has a tough day (for him) and finishes somewhere in the 1:30s. Various Philly Runners come in and Stan makes this PDR number 29, having run every single PDR since its inception and also goes under 1:30. On the other side of this continuum, Jody runs his first half ever.

Then life becomes a cocktail party on the street. I run into various folks I know and chat, give and receive congratulations, and go home to shower and pack.

Now you’ll have to indulge me while I end by reflecting upon how huge this is for me. At this point in my running “career” to PR by over a minute and a half is unimaginable. It changes my perception of myself and what I can do. It also has a vague air of redemption to it. Look at what I’ve written on these pages over the summer and you’ll see that I poured myself into my training. I had no choice. Psychic pain and emotional turmoil provided fuel for my training as much as anything I ate, and the drive to finish strong took on new proportions. My training responded by burning up the baggage I brought with me in a way that alcohol never could have. More mornings than I can count I told myself “this will be hard” before going out and, upon finishing the workout, I was able to acknowledge that I was now stronger. In writing that I just made myself cry. With outcomes like these I gotta hope that things have turned a corner. We’ll see.

For the geek stuff, I scored 88th place and third masters finisher. Watson, the second finisher, was two seconds ahead (damn!) and Darren DeReuck (Olympian Colleen's husband) was top master about 45 seconds ahead. This means I should now be getting two age group trinkets from Elite Racing. But I will hang on to this one. We also finished first in the Masters team competition and sixth team overall.

I get back from Denver and it’ll be marathon training. Cal International Marathon, in Sacramento in early December, is now the favorite for my target race. But in the meantime, for the first time in I don’t know how long I have not packed my running shoes on this trip.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Running without my Feet

As my runs have been getting shorter lately so have my posts. Today this trend continues.

I made today's run functional, as I ran down to the Convention Center to go the Expo and pick up my shit for the Phila Distance Run tomorrow. Charlotte Martin pacing me on the iPod as I negotiated the Center City streets. I met Kevin F. down there and we picked up what we had to get and then got away from the moneychangers in the temple as fast as we could. We then sat down for a spot of coffee and I ran home. Didn't bother timing it, I'll call it six miles total.

This gives me 63 miles total in the scant two weeks since Virginia Beach. Most of the time I get more than that in for a week. But the difference here is that I knew in advance that the miles would come tough here. And so I'm now curious as to how well I will subsist on borrowed training - whether the training I have amassed over the summer will still be with me in sufficient force to have a good day tomorrow.

I want to do the same strategy as I did in Virginia Beach, take it easy for the first two miles and race the remaining 11. Bonus points if there is somebody or some pack that I can glom onto for the first miles. I just want to move my whole pacing regimen down, across the race, by about 5-10 seconds a mile. That'll get me in the 1:15s or, if the day is right, the 1:14's.

And then I will be in the promised land. Or washed on your shore and barely alive. Something about half-marathons. . . short enough to be fast; long enough to be punishing. Something foreboding on a Saturday afternoon.

Here I am in my insecurity
Here I am with my damaged dignity
Here I am you’re pulling me in too deep
Here I am
Here I am, I’m in the mercy seat
Here I am, running without my feet
Here I am, oh what’s come over me
Here I am
(Charlotte Martin)

And here I am, and tomorrow I'll see. And so will you, as I'll have a full race report in my next post, by which time I'll be heading out to Denver.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Short & Sweet

Abbreviated run this morning due to early business in Washington DC. As usual when I'm in DC, I stayed with my sister and ran the track at the high school that's near her house. When I got there the darkness was just beginning to lift and I felt like I was in that Nike commercial they showed last Spring with the ACDC in the background. But then as I got on the track I started to see shadows come out of the darkness and there must have been about 15-20 people on the track already. DC is an intense place.

I couldn't keep count of the laps to save my life this morning, so I just said to myself run for 30 minutes and call it 3.5. And, in the bigger picture (didn't run yesterday) I'm calling it a taper for PDR. At this rate I'll be well rested for Sunday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Aimlessly Happy

What US Air taketh away, US Air giveth back - sometimes.

US Air screwed up my flight arrangements going to Columbus yesterday, canceling my flight and forcing me to go to Columbus via Charlotte and resulting in a 3 hour delay. However, my business in Columbus was done early today and they bumped me up to a 3:00 flight instead of my scheduled 5:50 flight.

That meant that I had time to run when I got home. It was getting dark by the time I got my shoes on and took off. My pace is always faster on afternoon runs, and today was no exception. I left my iPod home and instead lost myself in my thoughts. Happy thoughts, aimlessly happy thoughts.

"Aimlessly happy" is the best compliment I remember ever receiving. It came from my friend De, back when I first moved to San Antonio in the late 80s. She said that it was from a poem by Pablo Neruda, and she applied it to me despite life circumstances that were anything but joyous at the time. I've tried to track down that line, but even google fails me here. That just reminds me I should contact De directly and ask. And if she can't remember I'll just attribute the phrase to her.

Aimlessly happy described my mood this evening. I ended up down along the river, where I love to run under the bridges in the tender evening darkness, the shadows and big stone hulks obliterating just enough of the city to let me pretend its Paris. And for a mile or two, up to the lights of Boathouse Row, my world is transfixed as I fly along infatuated.

The back four miles of this course then takes me through Mantua, where the shadows appear more malicious and the streets more haunting than in the early mornings when I usually run them. But even there, on 44th and Haverford I come up to a line of rowhouses that looked like they were coming down until I got closer and saw that they were actually going up. . . new construction in a place that just three years ago looked hopelessly forlorn.

8 aimlessly happy miles in 56:54.

Shameless vanity

It was pointed out to me that I am on the Parkway Run's promotional webcast located at There are actually several glimpses of me but the only real good shot is at a few seconds after 2 minutes into the clip, right after a shot of the finish line clock reading off 9:42, when you can see me, in blue, blowing away Stuart Calderwood down the homestretch.

I'm posting some race photos from Virginia Beach emailed to me as well. The shots are good enough to where I almost feel bad ripping them from the website. The shots come just before, and then just after the finish. The first I am flying (literally), the second shows some of the agony I was feeling, and the third is just pure relief.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Snack to Feed the Monkey

Ran 3.5 miles this morning mainly just to get out and get some miles for the log book. The monkey’s stomach was growling, and this’ll be enough to keep him off my back for a little while. There wasn’t much time this morning, as I had an early flight to Columbus, which is where I am currently writing from. Its pouring rain, which means Philly can probably look forward to some of that tomorrow.

The run itself was enjoyable to the point where I wish I could have gotten a few more miles in. Weather is starting to tilt to fall, with sunnier crisper cooler days. Franklin Field loop. This means I got to run by Penn's Fine Arts Library, a red sandstone Furness-designed building, dappled by morning sun. When the time and conditions are right, this is a beautiful sight.

Legs felt strong and the pace reflected this, as if the legs were saying “we can do ten this morning” knowing full well that this was an empty boast and they would go no further than 3.5. Had the Heartless Bastards on the iPod, first time listening to their new cd, which came out a few months ago and is already being highly touted. And indeed it is a good album, reminding me of PJ Harvey. Their first track, “Into the Open” is an instant pacing anthem that belongs next to the New Pornographers “Bleeding Heart Show” in a running mix.

I’ll probably put in a few additional miles on the hamster wheel at the hotel after dinner to help get the monkey through the night.

My sister just called, all excited cause she went running today, and chugged up a hill! Shades of Birch Drive (in case there are any North Rockland natives out there). Go Annette.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Humble Pie

To make sure that my head didn't get too swelled after yesterday's race, I went up to Roxborough this morning to run with PTC. I was without a doubt the slowest among Emily and the 12 guys that took off down Ridge Ave.

But I'm making progress in that it's no longer a point of anxiety for me about whether I can keep up with them when they run long and slow. From Ridge Ave we got on Forbidden Drive and took it all the way to Northwest Ave, and from there it was Hart's Lane back down to the Schuylkill, which we followed through Manayunk. At the bus depot, I took advantage of today being the cusp of the end of my recovery from last weeks half marathon and the start of my taper for next weeks half marathon, and cut away from the rest of the guys to finish a shorter version of the loop up the Ridge Ave hill. Beautiful morning to run, and I enjoyed the company, though I stay mostly silent on these runs.

I have no idea as to the length of todays loop, so conservatively I'll call it 14.5 in 1:40:55. It was just the right distance to where a deep down soreness oozed out of my calves on the last mile, but I wasn't obligated to run with it as usually is the case on real long runs.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Two Street

As I mentioned yesterday, I ran the Two Street 5k this morning. The start of this race is at 2nd St. (pronounced “Two Street”) and Reed, in the heart of South Philly. Like many things in S. Philly, it is a very low key (I had never heard of it before), neighborhood-oriented event. 2nd Street is best known as the street where many of the string bands who play in the Mummers Parade on New Years Day have their headquarters, and indeed the Mummers Museum is located nearby on Washington Street. If you don’t know what Mummers are, where else to go but They are as much a Philadelphia institution as cheesesteak, the Liberty Bell, and Rocky, and are synonymous with drunken revelry, pageantry, and sometimes even good musicianship.

I had been asked to run as part of a team led by Bobby, who lives a few blocks from the start and was determined to field a winning team. Bobby has an alter-ego who posts as u2runner on the Philly Runners message board, whose identity had been the matter of some speculation. When he posted looking for “fast” runners to stock his team, the prospect of running the race and of meeting him, along with his offer to pay my entry fee, led me to bite and to assume, at least for a morning, the role of road whore.

Tony and I parked under I-95 and walked over to where Bobby lives. Along with me and him, the rest of the team consisted of Andy, a very good runner and regular on the local circuit who was a friend of Bobby’s family, and two of Bobby’s friends. The idea was that me and Andy would run well, and one of the others would run respectably and fill out the third scoring slot. We were “Team Shattered,” named, as I said yesterday, after the lyric “life’s just a cocktail party on the street.” And we all had matching blue t-shirts with the Stones’ lips logo on the front. Bobby asked me if I wanted the shirt with number 1 or number 2 on it. Of course I opted for number 1.

I’d guess about four or five hundred persons showed up for the race, most of them however were walking it and most of them lived within a mile radius of the race, and streamed from all directions to the start. At the start I saw Steve G., from Philly Runners and who lives close to the start, and Mickey R., from the evil empire of South Jersey AC but who grew up in South Philly, and we chatted as the 9:00, the scheduled start time, came and went. Then a little boy sang God Bless America, the local parish priest led a prayer, and the starting horn went off less than ten seconds after the amen sounded.

The course was a fast (there are no variations in altitude in S. Philly), long rectangle down 2nd St and back up 3rd Street, which merges into 2nd Street (you gotta know it to understand that) about a mile from the finish. Not much to say about the race. After the usual boys who sprint out at the start cleared away, I was never challenged. My splits were 5:13; 5:22; and 6:06 (1.1 miles) for a finishing time of 16:41. The most interesting part of the race itself was watching the logistics of clearing a course through the tight grid of S. Philly streets upon which the course was laid. Cops were still towing parked cars off of the course when the race started, and, being in the lead, I had the dubious privilege of having a police escort who was diverted from his lead car duties several times to chase off cars that strayed on the course. A fair number of people were standing along the sidewalks in front of their houses and graciously cheered me on.

After finishing the race I ran back down the course to hook up with Tony and run him to the finish. This seemed to blow a lot of the spectators minds, who had just seen me race the other way. I didn’t even make it to the mile 2 marker when Tony came heading the other way, looking a lot more exhausted than I usually see him. From this point I just pushed him to keep running, even if it were a slow jog. We run by a cop who says he’s getting tired of seeing me. Despite his fatigue Tony still has enough for his trademark kick to the finish and gets a time of 32:10 – a full 4 minutes off of the PR he set at Stone Harbor two weeks ago!

Andy easily coasted into second about 30 seconds behind me, and Bobby and Mike both finished in around 20 minutes. We hung out a bit until the awards ceremony, where I got the largest trophy that I ever won for anything in my life. Bobby took home the equally big first place team trophy that Team Shattered won. He did a fine job of organizing the team and in a few years I could see him organizing this whole race. At 22, he’s also plugging away at his running and I’ll see him again at his inaugural PDR next week.

We said our good bye’s and I lugged my trophy to the car. It attracted a lot of attention as we headed down Dickinson St., and at one point literally stopped traffic as someone rolled down the window to ask what I won. An earlier episode, however, put that all in perspective. Just before we were about to take our leave from Bobby, a small trophy on the living room shelf instantly caught Tony’s eye. It was an Emmy award that Bobby’s brother had won for his role in putting on a local morning news show. It’s a moment when you realize that size truly doesn’t matter.


OMG, it's enormous!

Best performance of the day goes to Tony.

Team Shattered (minus Andy, guys in the light blue shirt and the tan shirt are race officials). And (for what you all came to see), Bobby is the guy holding the trophy

Friday, September 08, 2006

Laughter, joy, and loneliness and . . .

The funnest run I've had in a long time this morning. Erin decided she wasn't pregnant enough to stop running yet, and Deirdre and Jody showed up to boot. KJ is out for a bit with what was diagnosed as a possible stress fracture in his foot, but me and Deirdre are dubious of that diagnosis (although I'm getting my info third hand).

Anyway, after taking longer than usual to get started, we take off at what Zeke would describe as "ass draggin easy" pace up Larchwood and Thomas Sts. and back down Warrington. I have never seen so many people stare at us as ostensibly stared at the preggo who was running. Deirdre found $10 on the sidewalk by Clark Park and a split second later a dishevelled man came up to her with big doe eyes. After spending a minute pondering who could use the 10-spot more (she is after all a grad student), she forked the money over to him and he made straight for the Wurst House. We didn't stick around to see whether he took advantage of the 2 PBR forties that WH had on special for $5. It's all good in the hood. And now we are hatching up a race, at Deirdre's behest, where we are looking to put the guerilla back into the G5k, complete with focal theory and all. Viva Che and commodified outrage.

Oh yeah, 5 miles in 43:27.

Speaking of focal theory, Dylan was a fortunate focus for yesterdays blog entry, as it flushed Scott out of his summer of slacking and also preceded my scoring Dylan tix for his concert here in Philly come November. I'm very psyched on both accounts.

And finally, tomorrow I'll run the Two Street 5K. I am lured to run this by the prospect of meeting, in person, the enigmatic U2runner. I have also been promised that I'll run on a team, complete with shirts featuring the Rolling Stones' lips logo, inspired by the lyric, "Lifes just a cocktail party on the street" (name the song). And that is probably what will happen tomorrow, as that is what you get when you mix Mummers with running.

Bet you can't get that combination anywhere else in the world. Did I ever say I love this town?!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tangled Up in Blue

One of the prettiest mornings of the year. Cool with plenty of strong sun and a hint of a breeze. Makes the colors vivid all around and happy to be alive as I finished my run. The kind of morning that begs to have Dylan's Blood on the Tracks going in the background.

But I get ahead of myself. In contrast to the beautiful morning, the run isn't much to write about. Same loop as yesterday, same music, and got so lost in my thoughts that I blacked out at times (like, did I just run up that hill?! . . . I have no recollection of doing so). Lots of stuff on my mind, but I'm doing okay.

Calves continue to feel sore, to the point now where there's been marathons where I've recovered faster. But I'll cut them as much slack as they need this time around.

6 miles (Cobbs Creek via Warrington & 43rd Sts) in 53:12.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Running is My Prozac

As read on a bumper sticker on sale at the expo last weekend.

My legs still feel like they do after a hard workout the day before. So I ran 6 miles easy - out to Cobbs Creek and back on Warrington - 50:12.

It wasn't my legs that needed the workout today. I went out with my iPod and Hayes Carll's second album playing. I'd worn a groove into my iPod listening to the first album that I treated myself to his second, Little Rock, yesterday. On first listen today, its one of those albums that I'm surprised it took me this long to get. Songs about coming and going. Good stuff while running. Or waiting to move.

I realized yesterday at work that it was my grandmother's birthday. She would have been 98 this year. My mom says that she used to be quite an athlete back in her day, despite the limited opportunities that women had in that area in early 20th century Germany. I like to think that when we think of the deceased that have been close in our lives it is actually them making their presence known to us. So happy birthday, Puppe.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Under other definitions: Any breach of continuity in an order; a lapse or interval in a continuity.

I've learned alot of things from Cindy over the years, one of the basics has been to get my money's worth. Here I'll translate this to getting my trainings worth. So I'm going to stretch my training out a bit and apply it on Saturday to this little run and then a week from Sunday to this little run. Between recovering from Sunday and a full travel schedule next week, I'll just coast and maintain my fitness. Interregnate, so to speak. Then its time to gear up for the as yet unnamed fall marathon.

No tempo run today, not the slightest temptation to do so. Easy 4 (37:49) on the Franklin Field loop just before the rain started. For once this won't come close to being the hardest thing I'll have to do today.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Rock & Roll Half Marathon - Redux

Greetings from Virginia Beach. This is the second straight Labor Day weekend I’ve spent down here and run the Rock n Roll Marathon. I went back to last years blog writeup and was glad to see that it stood up well over time. My closing thoughts from last year provide a good kickoff for this year’s report:

Bottom line was we all agreed to do it the right way next year, with a 2 night reservation for hotel on the beach within walking distance of the concerts and within warmup distance of the starting line where [the kids] can watch cable tv while we race and we don't have to worry about hotel security as we try to cop a few z's on their well manicured shady lawns. We'll bring the rest of the family and hopefully some other folks as well, and keep talking about how it was more fun the first time around.

Indeed we did it the right way this year. On Friday the family plus Kevin (aka the original British gecko and practically family by now) drove south through the lashing winds and driving rain of Tropical Storm Ernesto, and pulled into Virginia Beach on the other side of the storm. We checked into a beachside hotel overlooking the concrete boardwalk that will constitute the final miles of the race course. The room and the hotel were a bit damp from the storm, but the weather was fine and looking good for the weekend. Saturday morning was overcast and cool, and Kevin and I took advantage of this with a morning run on part of the course (4.5 in 42:37). I’m geeky enough to have hoped that the weekend would remain cloudy and cool, but the sun came through about mid afternoon, which we spent bodysurfing, playing Frisbee and reading. Then it was a mighty tasty dinner at a seafood restaurant on the bay and a concert by Carbon Leaf, one of Maricela’s faves and the only band that was interesting among a whole bunch of bands that were playing along the boardwalk and on the beach (headlining that night was Kool and the Gang). Finally it was back to the hotel to get to bed early.

Kevin and I got up at the crack of 5am. Stepping out onto the balcony, the weather was cool but the stars were shining bright. Not promising weather conditions. A group of cheerleaders, noisy and giggling in the false dawn, got to the boardwalk as we left for the start. We wondered if they realized that the first runners would not get to that point for another two and a half hours. The walk to the start was about a mile and a half. Last year, when we stayed in Norfolk, we had to park off-site and due to logistical screwups did not get to the corral until mid- National Anthem, about 4 minutes before start. In contrast, pre-race logistics this year were relaxed and, other than running into a quartet of Wissahickon Wanderers, including Chris and Polly (only know them by first name), was uneventful.

The gun went off and I followed my plan and started relaxed. No maneuvering around runners who had no business being that far up front, or trying to keep up with folks I knew would pull ahead of me anyway. Mile one went by in 6 flat and instead of fretting I smiled. Mile 2 took us up the bridge over the Rudee Inlet (one of two “uphills”) and passed in 5:52. I still felt fresh and picked up the pace a bit. The nice thing about this tactic is that it let me steadily reel in people ahead of me. Mile 3 passed in 5:45; already 23 seconds ahead of last year’s split at this point. I kept overtaking runners ahead of me, hoping to find folks I could work with but ultimately continuing the move ahead. The miles stretched along shady roads south of VB and through a military camp. Miles 4 and 5 were a bit uneven but more or less on what I wanted – 5:50 & 5:42 – and after the latter split I thought this is the pace to hold. Having said that, mile 6 slowed to 5:54. The highlight of mile 7 was that I came within range of a grey haired guy ahead of me and locked in on the target. I blew by him and the mile passed in 5:43. Mile 8 took us back to the top of the Rudee Inlet bridge (5:49) and back down into VB. The remaining miles would go up Atlantic Avenue (the shoreline drag) and back down the boardwalk to the finish. The race was now on.

Down Atlantic Avenue (mile 9 in 5:44 and mile 10 in 5:42) I used two pairs of club types to pace off of and ultimately pass. I was ahead of them and in no-man’s land in mile 11 and lost time, slowing to 5:53 and falling in again with these four guys, who had bunched into one pack. Now it was onto the boardwalk and into a hot, intense sun. One guy dropped out holding a hamstring and we were a group of four. I finally got people to work with (or work against now), and I am desperate to hang onto them. I call upon my pre-race visualizations, the karma from the good wishes I received, and music to keep me going. Mile 12 was a disappointing 5:51 and in response I picked up the pace. The other guys hung on and this mile was agony, more so as the finish was now visible in the distance. Mile 13 was a 5:42 and I was coming home. I had nothing left for the last tenth of a mile and the other guys all dutifully kicked, leaving me behind to watch as the clock turned over to 1:16 and up to 1:16:07 when I crossed the line.

Its usually disappointing to cross the finish a few seconds after a new minute turns, but I could not have kicked any harder even had I known how close I was. After the finish I stopped my watch, grabbed onto my knees and sucked air, grabbed water, and congratulated the guys I ran with. I took a gulp of water and got sick to my stomach, a feeling that lingers even as I write this. And then I realized how drenched in sweat I was. Drenched like I came out of the ocean. It felt as hot as I remembered it last year. I lurked around the finish waiting for Kevin, who had a bad day and finished in about 1:30. Chris finished just ahead of him, and I also chatted briefly with Lee Cox, a VF Striders guy against whom I have dueled a few times in local races and who wisely ran (i.e., not raced) today. After Kevin came by we got food (mistake), gear bag, and Spenco sandals (nice), and unceremoniously walked the half-mile back to the hotel along Atlantic Ave, where hordes of runners were still making their way towards mile 9. Always great to get back to the hotel, to the shower and fresh clothes. From the balcony Kevin and I watched a seemingly endless stream of runners run the last half mile or so to the finish, by now a procession of mostly determined but miserable looking people. The cheerleaders continued on in full cheer mode and I drifted off into sleep with their chants still in my ears.


Ricky Bobby: “You’re either first, or you’re last. You taught me that [Dad]. I lived my whole life by that.”

Ricky's Dad: “Why that don’t even make no sense boy. I was high when I said that. You can be second, third, fourth. . .hell you can even come in fifth.”

Its now Sunday evening. Back from dinner at an Irish pub (my stomach has finally settled) and seeing Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (better than I expected) and the tail end of WAR (wish I had seen more).

The results are now up and my 1:16:07 is official. This time is good enough for 56th place overall (out of 16,000 finishers) and 3rd masters place. Unfortunately only the top masters finisher, with a 1:14 time, got cash so I will settle for some age group trinket that will get sent to me someday. Still, the race is big enough where this is a good accomplishment. I’m also satisfied in that, both time and placewise, I did everything I set out to do and for once I stuck to a pre-race strategy (see previous blog entry) that was something other than start out fast and hang on to the finish. My final 5 km time, at 18:06, was a little faster than my initial 5k, at 18:12. No one ahead of me had a slower 5k time, and I counted 14 runners who finished behind me with faster 5k splits (meaning I passed them at some point after 5k).

Today also marks a big improvement over last year’s finish, which was 1:19:41.

Checking Weather Underground the temps at 8:15 were in mid 70s and only 2 degrees “cooler” than last year’s race.

Enough geeking; time for bed.