Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, November 30, 2008

End of the Month

As I write this I'm eating an amazingly good pastrami and provolone sandwich. What makes it delicious is not so much the ingredients as it is the act of satisfying a craving that arose during this morning's run. Also adding to the delicious taste is the view from the kitchen window, which shows a nasty miserable cold rainy day out.

I paid my dues to obtain this feeling. Deirdre and I made arrangements for a long run this morning, rain be damned. And that's exactly how it went down, rain be damned. When I left the house it was a drizzle that teased with the prospect of letting up totally. It was still that way when I got to Deirdre's and still that way as we trekked up 22nd Street and made a loop around Eastern State Penitentiary. From there we took the backroads to Lemon Hill and by the time we got there the rain started coming down. Coming down so that I was wet before I could snap to putting on the windbreaker I had tied around my waist.

There is no one I'd rather run in cold rainy weather with than Deirdre, in that the conditions didn't seem to faze her and the attitude she kept remained incredibly positive. At one point we started talking about how, when we finished the run, we'd have license to do anything we wanted to do (or do nothing at all) for the rest of the day. Not in the sense of "oh I'm so miserable I wish I was ..." but more in the sense that running this long run was the best thing that we could do this morning. And this was running down Haverford Ave. into a headwind that was pasting my waterlogged shirt tight against my chest. I think I would have run even if Deirdre didn't join me, but I can't see that I would have run 2 hours. It takes a village.

15.5 miles in 2:07:51.

Yesterday Reba and I went to run on the Drives. The conditions were as ideal yesterday as they were awful today, with a weak, late autumn sun barely warming the mid afternoon. Reba did her run and I did mine. Left to my own devices, to stave off boredom I did a progression run with the object of getting a faster split for each of the 8 marked miles of this loop. The only rule was that I could only look at my splits on the half mile and on the mile.

I did pretty good at this, with times:

Mile 1: 8:26
Mile 2: 7:42
Mile 3: 7:35
Mile 4: 7:29
Mile 5: 6:54
Mile 6: 6:44
Mile 7: 6:29
Mile 8: 6:23

Ultimately taking the pace down to mid 6 range felt fine, so it was less challenging to do this little exercise than I thought. But I was most proud of having 4 of my 7 miles come within ten seconds of the previous mile split. That is how you want to play this game, keep the time improvement slight so as to minimize the added effort. My big mistake was mile 5. Still not sure how I sped up so much there.

Did a few cooldown miles to get in 10 miles in 74:48.

These two runs put me over 71 miles for the week and 277 miles for the month. That means November has been the most productive month for me since March, when I was at the tail end of my 1000 miles in 100 days stretch. As you can probably tell, I feel good about my running currently. And braving today's elements to ice those weekly and monthly numbers makes the accomplishment all the sweeter.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dressing Myself

It was one of those days off that didn't feel like one. A series of obligations for most of the day. First one this morning, a trip out to the track. Got ready for it while talking myself into it. Still was talking myself into it while driving out to St. Joe's track. And the attempt at self persuasion continued through the warm ups and it wasn't until I got to my strides that I could actually see myself visualizing the bloody repeats.

Four times 1600 meters with 400 meter recovery. 5:54; 5:51; 5:50; 5:48. They went fine. They were faster than when I last did this workout two weeks ago. And I left the track happy.

All this reminded me of the opening scene from an early 80's movie called the Dresser. In the scene, Tom Courtenay plays the manservant for an aging Shakespearean actor (Albert Finney) and in the scene, just before a performance, Courtenay takes Finney, who is a drunken mess and refuses to do the show, and methodically works him and preps him for playing King Lear to where, by the end of the scene, Finney steps on stage on his way to a masterful performance.

Put the film on my Netflix queue. Put 10 miles, at 79:13, in my running log.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Will Trot for Turkey

Its a nice Thanksgiving tradition to run in the morning and then engage in gluttony in the afternoon. It spotlights the work ethic that I am not fond of but which I do admit permeates this sport.

I didn't engage in any Turkey Trot but did run out to the Lansdowne Sycamore to pay it Thanksgiving respects. Pushed things a little and took it a little further than the usual LS loop this morning. As a quid pro quo I had some extra dessert this afternoon.

That is why I run. Happy Thanksgiving.

10.6 miles in 87:45.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Ran Acme loop this morning. The call felt right, but it also filled me with reluctance as on the wrong days the course can seem to go on forever.

As an antidote I took some podcasts with me. I've tried this on the treadmill a few years back and it didn't work well. But time to try it again, I figured, with visions of losing myself in the world streaming into my ears and and having the run be over before I knew it.

Instead I came to the conclusion, again, that podcasts don't work for me while running. The first, This American Life, just had an off episode when they explored music lessons. I gave up on that somewhere in Mantua and I switched to Radio Lab, which I heard for the first time and couldn't get into its jump-here-and-there approach to the topic of the day. Where I had hoped I could engage with this like I could with a good conversation on the run, it just put me out of sorts. At 52nd and Parkside I switched back to music. Blue Giant, a sort of alt-country band of the type I download occasionally hoping to find another Ryan Adams (this one wasn't) and then Calexico, more tried and true.

One thing mentioned in Radio Lab, which talked about making choices, was how different parts of the brain - rational, appetitive, emotional, etc. - competed with each other with different results in different situations. This might explain why spoken word stuff, which I can totally lose myself to in the car, does not do it when I'm on a run. Here I think the reason music works is because I tune into on a more primal level, sync my pace with the rhythm, channel my energy with that of the guitar or the voice or whatever. Stuff like that that is better felt than explained.

So it'll probably take a few more years before trying a podcast again, but as a consolation I do get some clearer insight as to why music works for me. And it all got me through the run. 10 miles, couldn't find my watch this morning.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Running in the Early Morning Rain

Before the Philly marathon, I saw a good poster that Ben had up in his apartment of an Adidas ad that said, paraphrased, that I used to think anyone running was nuts, then when I started running I thought anyone running at 6 a.m. was nuts, then when I was running at 6 a.m. I thought anyone running in the rain was nuts, then when I ran in the rain I thought running a marathon was nuts. The punch line, somewhat predictable but still cool, read something to the effect that now I'm out in the early morning training for a marathon and its snowing. I know I butchered the copy, but you get the gist.

I was out this morning at 6 in the rain. Marathon training hasn't quite started yet, but I'm signed up for one in the spring. As per that poster, I've drank the Kool Aid.

Once again, an SMB tempo loop. Warm up was sloooow, but the 3.5 miles that mattered went down in 22:51, over a minute faster than last week. And last Fridays track run tells me I should still be taking it down faster. I like this part of the training, when there is no floor yet in sight.

I got interrupted after turning right off of Lex St. by a woman in a track suit wanting to ask me a question. She described how she just finished walking/jogging for a half hour for the first time (apparently in her life) and wondered if she was doing enough. I went over with her how to set up a running schedule from scratch. She seemed reassured, which was about the best I could do. I told her to let me know how things were going if she saw me again and wished her luck.

She was running early on a rainy morning. There might be a marathon in her future.

As for me, 11.5 miles in 96:53.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Changing Passwords

The short of it - Deirdre got me out of the house with plans to run that she then canceled at the last minute, but I proceeded anyway. Tony then got me back into the house as I had to be back to get him off to school. In the middle, I ran an easy four miles in the dark cold which wasn't as cold as I had steeled myself for.

Also changed passwords today. My password for my work stuff was a variation of "gonnarun70" which, since the summer, was a goal. Took me awhile to reach that goal, too long perhaps, but lately the daily reminders were getting less nagging and more affirming. I am now back up there, although there is no guarantee that I'll stay up there. But its time to set a new goal, and put it into my password.

4 miles on Franklin Field up to 49th, no time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Phila Marathon

Got a comment from Quinto Sol the other day. I lost touch with his blog (and his real name, sorry) and I see he is still blogging, albeit occasionally. In reconnecting I got to see his most excellent writeup on running the NYC Marathon. Apart from a good performance, the part I enjoyed about his writeup was that it created suspense in reading mile after mile go well and not knowing whether this would last to the finish line. This is much like real life, where most of us have had the experience of a marathon going swimmingly, with mile splits getting nailed according to plan, until things fall apart at the end. Or not.

I thought of that today. Last night I got a call from Ben, who's a friend of Deirdre's, on behalf of Ben's friend Chris, who was in town from Toronto to run todays Philly Marathon. I had spread the word that I'd be jumping in the marathon for my long run, and would be happy to provide pacing services. Chris was looking for, and had the chops to break 3:15 and qualify for Boston, and the question was whether I'd be willing to pace him. So after a little back and forth I agreed to meet Chris at the mile 8 marker, just before the Fairmount Park hills began, and run the last 18.2 with him.

So I pulled myself out of bed and out into the cold morning. Things warmed up a bit as the sun came out and it was near perfect marathon conditions. The meetup went fine and there I was, fresh at 8 miles and into the thick of a marathon. 3:15 is about a 7:30 pace, and we were nailing these right through Fairmount Park, back onto MLK, around the Art Museum and up Kelly Drive to Manayunk. By mile 19 Chris had a few seconds in the bank towards his goal time. I felt great - my legs feeling strong and my head over the initial nervousness of whether I'd be able to keep pace on what would be my longest run since the summer. I was chatting with folks I knew who either we passed or passed us, I was stopping at the Hash House Harriers beer stop, and totally getting energized from what proved to be the best local crowd support I've ever seen along Main Street. And here was Chris knocking off his miles like clockwork. Would it last?

20 miles is, of course, where the marathon starts. All the previous miles were but a warm up. Mile 20, at the end of a long gradual uphill, clocked in around 7:40 and we were still okay. Here the course turns back on itself and the uphill goes down, and mile 21 was back to 7:33. Mile 22 slowed a bit to 7:37. Chris, used to running kilometers in Canada, had various pacing bands on his wrist, to which he now referred and noted, with some alarm, that he no longer ahead had any time in the bank. I told him forget about the time and run on effort.

Mile 23 was in 7:43. With the 59 seconds wiggle room that Boston gives, a qualifying time was still in the cards. "I know you feel like shit," I asked, "but does anything hurt that shouldn't?" He responded with a grunt in the negative. Then now was the time to dig deep.

In response his head started cocking upwards and I'd yell at him to stay focused. I ran at pace and got ahead of him, sometimes he responded and sometimes not. Mile 24 was in 7:58 and I knew I was losing him. I figured if I was nice to him he'd know I'd given up, so I kept prodding him to pick it up again. But mile 25 was in 8:12 and mile 26 was in 8:45. Poor guy had a look of total glycogen depletion on his face. I veered off to avoid the finish line and Chris said his finishing time was 3:19 something.

When I met up with Chris again post-race, he saw things the same way I did. He got to mile 20 more or less on target and didn't have it today to close it. This means that there is nothing he could have done - he set himself a goal, gave himself the opportunity to reach it, and for whatever reason could not get there. There is much that is noble about that but also much that is frustrating. It takes months to train for a marathon and you only get one shot.

As for me, I had a great time. I already mentioned how great I felt. Running 18 miles with 10,000 or so running partners beats the hell out of running my long run solo. I got a new friend and got to see a good number of old friends along the way. Total was 18 marathon miles in 2:17:28 for a 7:38 pace. I felt like I could have run the whole thing. With a mile plus warmup to get to mile 8, total was 19 miles for the day. This puts me over 70 miles for the week for the first time since July. Thats a big milestone (sic) for me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Had me some breakfast this morning before setting out. Black coffee, a bowl of Cream of Wheat, and the NY Times. Then if brunch was a run, it would have been one like today's.

Weather is again blustery cold. I feel for the folks running Phila Marathon tomorrow at 7 a.m., esp as I may line up with them and do my long run. This morning I played on my antihero sentiments from yesterday and dressed a little more warmly than usual - two long sleeve t-shirts, gloves, my stretchy "Reba-repellant" shorts under my regular ones, and a knit hat in place of my usual ball cap. I have this phobia of overheating when I put on extra clothes, today it was about right, so that the wind felt good when it blew against me and evaporated sweat.

Ran out to the Lansdowne Sycamore. In the winter this is a weekend route. The tree is bare now. Had Rev. Gary Davis on the iPod, his ragtime beat provided a good rhythm for the long straightaways in this loop. Todays lesson relearned - coffee before a run on a cold day leads to a few unscheduled stops. My right big toe, with the nail about halfway grown back, is painful when it hits against the toebox, an ingrown nail kind of pain. It got banged up particularly bad on one downhill, and afterwards it acted as a governor on my pace. Just as well today, I'll have to do something about it if it doesn't go away.

That gives me an excuse for doing this 10 or so mile loop in 86:32.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snowy Existentialism

Strange times lately. I'm lacing up my shoes this morning and happen to look out the window and see the snow coming down. Any desire to run vanished with that. As soon as I set foot outside I wanted this run to end.

I figured my best bet was to go to the track, as the black surface should be warm enough to keep the snow from sticking. I was wrong. There was maybe a half inch of snow on the track, enough so I'd slip a little with each footfall and I could see my footsteps multiply with each lap I took. I decided against the original plan to do 800s and just went 5000 meters at a brisk pace. Not an ideal workout but one I could live with.

The 5000 went alright - 19:23. I took splits every fourth time around and the 1600s got progressively faster - from 6:37 to about 6:25 to about 6:10. All of which is faster than Tuesdays MLK run. So I can see progress. That's about all I can ask on a day like today.

Now that I'm done with the workout I'm tempted to look back on it much more heroically - to be pleased with myself that I could push myself out there into lousy conditions. Like I'm somehow a better man, have built character, for it. I try but this doesn't ring true. It was just a run under crappy conditions, a run where it matters little ultimately if I did it or not and having finished it only means that there will soon come another run where I feel the same way and I'm back to square 1 - again feeling the need to prove something, although I'm not sure what or to whom.

9 miles total, total time of 74:06.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Wisdom of Whores

When I teach a course I'll usually assign a book or two that is recent and that I have yet to read. It gets me reading stuff I otherwise wouldn't get around to reading and it keeps things fresh. The problem is that I actually have to read the book.

So I was up at 5 this morning with 300 pages of a book called The Wisdom of Whores needing to be read for today's class. I gave myself three hours to read it, and started at it. The book is written by an epidemiologist, but for a lay audience, and looks at the response to HIV/AIDS and the many reasons why its just so damn hard to get it right. Its hard to quickly get through an engaging book about sex and drugs while lying in a nice warm bed, but setting a deadline for getting my sneakers on helped with that.

So the run became a palette cleanser. I did make it through the book but my head was overloaded from reading. Getting out into the cloudy chill for a quick loop out to Cobbs Creek and back on Warrington worked wonderfully to counteract that.

I wish I could have run more but am glad to have gotten out at all. 5.5 miles, untimed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chilly in West Philly

There was ice on the ground this morning. Enough ice so that when I was crossing 38th St. at the pedestrian light by the Vet School I heard a smack and turned to see that one car had slid into another while trying to stop. Ouch.

Set out to go up to Sweetbriar but I had the same beat up feeling in my legs that I had on Monday, only this time I got it around mile 1. So I cut things short and looped around the Spring Garden bridge instead. The run had a strange vibe to it, with the crash, a brilliant defacing of my favorite billboard over 76 just by the SG Bridge, a person on 31st St. who looks both ways before taking one step and planting him/herself right in my way. And various comments by cold people on my winter running attire (which is not very different from my summer attire).

But the run was not as strange as this one. Just goes to show how unsafe it is to run out in the suburbs.

6.7 miles in 55:47.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saving Water

Woke up this morning with a load on my mind and little desire to go out into the cold. The depressing thing is that this will be what I'll be running into all the way until March. It will only get colder. And the training demands will only seem more relentless.

As usual, the first steps are the hardest. Once outside the cold quickly lost its edge although the wind kept up its bluster. I noted sadly how the leaves are just about fallen from now barren trees. Headed slow down to MLK, picked it up for the 3 1/2 miles to the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, and took it easy the rest of the way home. The MLK miles came in with a sub 7 pace (24:08), which shows some progress from when I last did the course two weeks ago.

Cold enough today so I could (hopefully) get away with not taking a shower before going out to work.

SMB loop - 11.5 miles in 93:42.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tell Me Why...

Bleary eyed on a Monday morning. Ran home from Prospect Park down Chester Pike, taking a bit of a detour at the end to my mechanic to check on my car which I had towed there over the weekend following an unfortunate breakdown.

I saw as many birds along the way down Chester Pike as I might at Tinicum. This included a low-flying bald eagle, complete with white head. The bird, plus the unlikely surroundings it was in, really amazed me.

Otherwise I nearly got run over by a short-bus making a left in the McDade Blvd. - Church Rd. intersection while I was crossing (with the right of way). Couldn't see if the bus driver had eye contact with me as I reflexively and angrily flipped her the bird, but I could see a bunch of children staring at me. Sometimes one can be in the right and still be in the wrong.

Yeah, I know, Reba, I'm depersonalizing.

Anyway, a very easy 9.4 in 85:22.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Schuylkill Loop Race

According to my records, this is the fifth time I have run this venerable race. This year, I ran this mainly to get a recent race under my belt and get some idea of my fitness.

Conditions were classic for this race, chilly and blustery. The course is once around the the Drives - 8.4 miles. The horn went off and I fell in with Jeff Hayes, also of Greater Phila Track Club and a few years older than me. We chatted a bit and I reassured him that I didn't mind his drafting off me, as I don't benefit much from drafting off others. With that we set off into the legendary MLK headwind and picked off a few runners ahead of us. Some of them stayed with us and somewhere after the first mile (6:00) there was a tight pack of five of us. I continued pacing duties for maybe another mile and realized that I wouldn't be able to hang 8 miles with this group. I fell to the back of the group for another mile or so and focused on hanging on to the group for a quarter mile at a time. After about another mile and a half my middle class upbringing demanded that I take up pacing duties again, but Jeff said he was feeling fine and I should continue hanging in the back. I took him up on it, and told him that I wasn't long for the group anyway. I've never laid out my cards like that, but the race wasn't even halfway over yet.

Crossing Falls River Bridge, the group surged and I didn't. I clocked the four MLK miles in 23:49; I passed the five mile mark in 29:51. This was ideally the pace I'd like to have kept, but after I lost the group the miles slowed first to 6:15, then 6:25, before picking up a little at the end. I was passed twice, once by the first female finisher, an Olympian at 1500m whose name escapes me, and late in the race by the eventual second masters finisher. Finishing time was 51:14, at a 6:06 pace and 9th overall - the second slowest loop race I've run.

Don't much know what to make of it, and probably shouldn't make too much of it. I wouldn't have raced any differently, as I got what I set out for - a good idea of my fitness level. The lingering melancholy is from the uncertainty about how much faster I'll get from this. That remains to be seen. And there is always running in costume.

9.5 miles total.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Back in the Game

Set out in the pouring rain to meet John and whoever else would be at the Art Museum. The rain let up about the time I got there, which was a few minutes after Philly Runners had left. No sign of John either.

So I set out to reel in whoever I could. I was also glad I brought my iPod, all wrapped in plastic. I know I bellyached in a previous post about losing it, but don't think I mentioned that what was lost now has been found. I celebrated the prodigality of it all by loading up a bunch of fresh music, and spent most of the way listening to Albert Collins and JB Hutto. Good morning for blues.

I overtook the main PR group at about mile 2 on MLK and then a few stragglers and then Kevin G. Once I caught up with Kevin I excused myself to hit the bushes and while I was there the PR folks all went roaring by again. So I continued on and passed them again. I don't know what they must have thought, maybe that I had lapped them going around the Drives.

Run was strong. I did the 4 MLK miles in 29:42 and the Kelly Drive 4 in 28:58. Didn't push things, just took them a little faster. The final mapping put the course at 15.4 miles, which I finished in 2:01:01. Felt good and strong.

Considering running the 8.4 mile Schuylkill River loop race tomorrow. This race is the oldest continuous race in Phila and goes once around the Drives. A friend of mine, Dave Thomas, puts it on and it seems like a good race to get me back into the game, mentally speaking. But its also supposed to get colder and windier. Which would make racing the loop that much more fun. We'll see.

I also just officially registered for the National Marathon in Washington DC on March 21. Another step towards getting back in the game.

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Rewards of Running

Made it down to the Wurst House 15 minutes late but Erin, Deirdre and Jody were still waiting. We went out to Parkside Ave and back on 52nd St, an original variation in our northwest loop repertoire. Deirdre regaled us with stories of her running the marathon leg of a team ironman tri in Nevada over the weekend, and the conversation meandered from there.

When we got back to West Philly, I wanted a few more miles, so I headed west to Cobbs Creek. The highlight of this part of the run was two fivers lying on the road out in front of Mercy Hospital. In one swoop I forsook my amateur status and grabbed them. I was immediately tempted to use one of them for carfare home, as with about a mile left my legs were shot from yesterday's run. I just pushed it a little too far this morning. But I kept running and now can get my morning coffee and something paid for by the running gods.

9+ miles in 77:30, keeping my morning's pay a little above the minimum wage.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Boy Named Track

When I was getting back on the road after spraining my ankle, probably about a year ago now, I was extremely skittish about retwisting it and at first could only really run on the treadmill with my hands hovering over the guardrails to grab onto the second anything went awry. What was scary was that it was hard to imagine getting past that, although some readers assured me that I would. And I did.

I felt a little of that as I went out to Interboro HS track this morning. Revving it up felt alien to me, I didn't know if I could or wanted to do it anymore. So the deal I made with my self was to just go out to the track and run. No pressure to do anything but run around in ovals and go a little faster than I usually do. Just see what I got.

On the two mile warmup running down there I refined that a little bit, deciding that 1600s would be a good distance to try. Again, go faster but don't set any firm goals. And it would be nice if I could go sub 6 minutes even once, but its no big deal if I don't.

If you're starting to see a slippery slide here, that is pretty much how it went. The first rep I just went fast, with no idea what my pace was. First time around (400) I clocked in at exactly 1:30, on time for a 6 minute pace. And I kept up that pace, finishing the first 1600 at 5:56.

And the laps kept coming in at 1:30. And the miles kept coming in at a little below 6 - another 5:56 and a 5:58.

And I kept getting more tired. Not tired in the legs, but tired anaerobically and tired mentally. The last rep was tough, but I won't make it too dramatic, as I found a gear fairly easily at the end to bring it home in 5:59.

Coincidentally (or not), 6 minute 1600s (w/ 400m recovery) is pretty much where my fitness is at right now. I'd ultimately like to get that down 20 or 30 seconds, but its better than I thought I was at. I'm happy with it.

Which meant I ended up doing exactly what I set out to avoid, a serious set of intervals that challenged me. But I did them fine and am ready to let go of the guardrails.

I am no Sarah Palin fan, but a woman who names her son Track can't be all bad.

10 miles or so total in 81:27.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Didn't blog the last two days because I didn't run. Both nights a combination of things kept me up late to where I decided getting up early to run in the morning would not work. I didn't feel real guilty about it and I didn't feel real good about it; hopefully doing more of this will get me going to bed earlier more often.

Got to bed early last night so I had no excuse to sleep this morning. Its always hard to get back on the horse after a string of DNRs, and the morning chill didn't help things. I got out a little late, about 6:10, late enough so that it was light enough to extract one more Tenicum from the jaws of an oncoming winter.

It was another beautiful fall run. The highlight of the run was a buck who I met up with at the lookout-makeout tower and who ran ahead of me on the trail for a good five minutes to the crossover to the boring part. The buck, with at least five points (I don't know how exactly to count them), didn't run as much as he pranced ahead, and would then wait for me to catch up. I got close enough so I could smell his stink. Then he'd be off again, a true prince of prance who, with a particular flourish, finally hurdled a bush and was gone.

Ian, John and I have decided to run the DC National Marathon on March 21. So it looks like I have a target race again. I haven't signed up yet, I'll do that in a day or two but first have to get used to the idea of this. Even in the best of times I am reluctant to pre-register as I'm afraid that invites injuries. My running has been strong again for awhile now, but I still feel that putting my miles in this basket would be somehow tempting a fate that has not been real good to me recently. I'll get over it, just like I got over other points of hesitation in the past year, and will probably register in a day or two.

10 miles in 88:15 - 49:54 and 38:21.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where's My Shades?

This entry is going down as Monday, although its still Sunday night. Albeit late.

Thus I'll keep it short. Weekend runs basically went as planned. Art Museum loop on Saturday and a long run through Fairmount Park today. The first amounts to 6.5 miles in 54:22; the latter is 15 miles in 2:05:02. Combined the two put me over 60 miles for the week.

Today's long run was with John and Ian. We made a pact to run a marathon in the early Spring and at the end of the run each made a cut in our wrists and solemnified this commitment with our blood. Now its just a question of which marathon we'll do.

The future is looking bright.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Catching up here before the weekend comes and I fall behind again.

Today was an easy 4 out to Franklin Field and up to 49th Street. I had to take Tony to an orthodontist appt. at 8:00 and didn't get out the door before 6:30 so my time was limited, which was fine cause my legs felt dead. Figured a middlin run on Saturday and a long run on Sunday will give me my 60 miles for the week, so an easy day was in order. Weather continues very mild, but the rain has brought alot of the leaves down. One of my favorite fall scenes, Irvine Auditorium on Penn campus as it sits behind a palette of foliage, is not to be this year as the trees are already denuded. 4 miles untimed.

I've never used "denuded" before in anything I've wrote.

Yesterday was 12 miles along a drizzly 11.5 mile Strawberry Mansion Bridge route. It was forever since I've last gone that route, and it started me back on getting the feel for a mid-week tempo workout. Yesterday I went through the motions, timing the splits on the 3.5 marked MLK miles but not running too hard. This amounted to 22:49 for that stretch; nothing to blog home about but cool nonetheless as it brought back that tempo feeling (this last clause to be read with the Righteous Brothers singing in your head). The tempo feeling again came back along Belmont Ave when local running stud Tom Haxton overtook me on his morning commute. I cranked up to his pace and we ran together for a mile or so and chatted. I had no problem maintaining conversation, but maybe that accounted for today's dead legs? Or maybe it was the extra half-mile I added on at the end to make it an even 12. Time was 95:53.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Morning After

Deirdre, Erin, Jody, Iris and I all met up this morning. Iris reportedly has a little Obama dance, but was playing shy and didn't do it. Otherwise, other than talking a bit about Jody's successful run of Marine Corps Marathon a few weeks ago, we spent most of the run Wednesday morning quarterbacking about the election. I have rarely seen us all in such a good mood.

Philadelphia came alive last night around 11 when the election got called. I was already in bed at the time, and fell asleep amidst car honking and people cheering in the streets. Part of me wishes I had stayed up. But instead I outran everyone this morning as Deirdre was the first to peel off at 33rd and Walnut (she is tapering for a marathon this weekend) and the others stopped at 48th and Locust.

I continued alone out to Cobbs Creek and back on Cedar. Time crawled and I didn't want to run, but when that happens I chalk it up as mental conditioning. Stretched that muscle and enjoyed the continued mild temps. Total time was 74:57; I'll call it 9 miles, easy.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Feeling Blue

Felt the weight of the world this morning, and decided to pay a visit to the Lansdowne Sycamore.

This felt like a pilgrimage on borrowed time. The former because I felt I was looking for something, peace maybe or a bit of stability from something that has been living for over 300 years. Borrowed time because it was light again when I left at 6, something of a reprieve as it will not last long. To get out to the tree requires running about a half mile on a trail through the woods by Cobbs Creek, something that can't be negotiated when the mornings are dark again.

Two huge dogs came bounding and barking up to me just before crossing Cobbs Creek, oblivious to the shouts of their pinheaded master.

I passed at least twelve different polling stations. On the ones that were on my side of the road I borrowed a page from big-city marathon running, when there is always some runner waving his arms and trying to get a cheer out of the crowd. I did that in East Lansdowne, where the line was snaking around the corner of the town hall on Long Lane. Along with waving my hands I shouted out my choice of president and got back cheers. When I tried this again at a few places in Lansdowne and Yeadon, all I got was laughter. Maybe it was the lime green shorts.

My little unscientific canvassing determined that voter turnout appeared heavy this morning, and the mild weather certainly abetted standing outside waiting to vote. In my jaunt through Philadelphia and eastern Delaware County, the only scrap of McCain/Palin support I saw were a couple of signs in front of polling places. All other yard signs, bumperstickers, etc. all were Obama/Biden. We'll see what happens tonight.

I see that Philadelphia Runner lurks on my blog, I'm glad they responded to yesterday's post. I also want to add that they have always treated me well. I am probably one of the reasons that there is not much guy gear in the running store, as my running stuff is mostly from the bargain bins at running expos and old fleece and race tshirts.

All the action going on made the run seem to go fast. In actuality, it was 10 miles in 83:05.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Checking Out the Racks

My run this morning was non-descript. I had to be back by 6:45 and didn't want to go out any earlier than 6. Erin said she'd be down by the Wurst House/Best House but wasn't, I waited around a bit and headed out, only to be overtaken by Deirdre and we ran out to Cobbs Creek and back down Cedar together. Topics of conversation were the Phillies parade, tomorrow's election, and yesterdays marathon. Except for the last one, that pretty much summarizes what's on everybody's mind in Philly right now. And speaking of marathons, congrats to Ian and Mike on fine NYC performances. Especially since I've never figured out how to run that course well, their times impress me even more. I'm happy for both of them. Thinking of fast times on a beautiful day in a great city gives me the bug to run a marathon again like nothing else.

I had a meeting on Penn campus this morning and took a few minutes to sneak into Philadelphia Runner's store on Walnut to look at windbreakers. I got a Boston Marathon jacket from 2002 that I always feel self-conscious wearing, since I feel like a big billboard saying "I'm a running geek" when I wear it, but that doesn't prevent me from wearing it anyway because it is really well made and has all the features that I want in a windbreaker. But alas, its getting on in years so that I'm looking to replace it with something that is just like it except for it doesn't have "Boston Marathon" all over it. Didn't find that this morning. I was wandering around the store and couldn't seem to get out of the women's clothing section until I realized that there wasn't really a men's clothing section. Just shoes against the wall, racks of running bras, pink clothing and other girlish looking stuff, and 50% off racks. Is this a trend?

And that is what's in a drifting, procrastinating mind on a slow Monday morning. 4 miles, untimed and uncharted.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

60 on the Horizon

This is one of my favorite weekends of the year, with the extra hour that just stretches out Sunday morning. This year it let me sleep relatively late and still get in a long run before noon.

Another gorgeous colorful fall day. I made the most of it with a route that combined parts of the Acme and Cobbs Creek loops that ended up going through Fairmount Park and then along the entire stretch of the Cobbs Creek bikeway. Colors were bright, and still have a little ways to go yet. By about mile 9 or so I had had it, with dead legs and chafing around the shorts. But that's what long runs are about, going farther than is comfortable and continuing to push. That's also why its advantageous to run with others, but in absence of that I was able to give myself all the push I needed. Wasn't looking for speed, just to keep going.

I lost my iPod this week, I fear for good as the last place I remember it was on the train to NYC on Thursday. I usually like a choice on whether or not to be with my thoughts, today I didn't get that. Just brought everything that was on my mind with me on the run. Didn't do much with this stuff but let it sit. My mind wandered off too much into other things for my liking, I've been picturing these long zen runs and things were too chattery in my brain for that. But I did have some memorable moments where I just lost myself in the colors. And that, pretty much, is running - many miles for a few memorable moments.

I don't know if anyone is interested in the route, but it is here. 15.5 miles in 2:05:14. First time running more than 2 hours since July. Also broke 50 miles for the week. Going for 60 next week.

PS - For the record, 10k extended Warrington loop yesterday, the most I could squeeze into a busy day.

PPS - NYC marathon today - good luck to all.