Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tired Old Man

"Do you know who I am?" said Bill Haley,
In a pancake house near the Rio Grande.
The waitress said, "I don't know you from Diddley,
To me you're just another tired old man..."

Still not getting much traction with my training. Eeked out four easy miles around Franklin Field on Monday, and I blame my non-running over the last two days on a combination of the psychic gunk from Sunday's run and end of semester stuff that's keeping me busy. After tomorrow, however, I won't be able to use that as an excuse anymore.

The immediate problem that's been keeping me from running regularly has been my inability to get up early. I need to be out of the house by 6:30 at the latest on weekday mornings if I'm to have time for any kind of a hard workout, and lately I've had a hard time getting myself out of bed by that time. Today was a case in point, and a planned 11 miler got shaved to an Art Museum loop.

Once I got out there, the running went well. Mornings have returned to being nice and cool, and a wobbly first mile turned into a strong, albeit untimed, pace for the remainder of the run. The Dave Alvin song quoted above popped on my iPod as I was finishing, and I knew I had a good blog opener.

6 miles, untimed.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stupid Running

Got up this morning and felt the pressure to finish and send off a paper I've been working on. Perhaps it was the urgency of the matter, perhaps it was just that I didn't want to do my long run. Whatever it was, the procrastination was productive as I got done what I had to do. But then it was midday when I left the house.

I got about a mile or two in before I realized I'd underestimated the heat. Wunderground says it was in the low 90s today, but I shrugged it off as I'm not too sensitive to hydration issues. When I got to Lloyd Hall I filled up at the fountain and kept going up past Edgely Field and up to Huntingdon St. I wanted to do some North Philly running today and sofar so good. Huntingdon is a low traffic one-way (oncoming) street, with a sight-line that stretches a good half-mile in front. Best of all, I'd never run here before. Huntingdon t's into 22nd St. and by then my throat was starting to get dry. At 15th St., I went south to Ridge, and I realized I was feeling worse than I should with the miles I have left to do. I started becoming aware of how little I had hydrated, and the availability of drinks all around were it not for my omitting to bring any money along.

I mentioned how I had dinner with a homeless guy in Vegas. During the course of our conversation he challenged me to live on the streets in Philly for a week without bringing any money. He asked me if I would promise to do that. I said that if I promised this I'd be bullshitting him and he lowered the bar to a day. I said I'd consider it but wouldn't promise something I might or might not keep. We left it at that.

I'm not saying my little run here fulfilled that promise. But it was instructive in how apart I felt from the city, me with a burning thirst I was unable to quench. Two little kids dressed out all Nation of Islam were selling water at an intersection, asked me if I wanted any. I considered bumming a bottle off of them saying I'd pay later. Considered going into a store, going up to people to do the same but interestingly something held me back. At 13th and Ridge, just by the big shelter, I cut the run short and headed back home. Figured I'd get me some water at a fountain in Rittenhouse Square. I got there only to find that there is nary a drinking fountain in Philadelphia's toniest park. The absence of this basic corporeal act of mercy surprised me. Does it keep the bums out of the park?

West another mile I was back on Penn campus, where I had no problem finding some water and drank my fill. The run was pretty much shot by then, and I trudged the rest of the way home. Still, I got two hours running time and 14 miles out of it.

I was really surprised at how the dehydration hammered me. Might also have to do with this being the first hot weekend of the year, and the body is still adapting. I can remember in years past when I'd deliberately run with a thirst to see how long I could handle it. Not today. I think I've become more humble and also more able to read my body's signs and give in when I sense distress. Today was one of those days. Hopefully I'll be smarter on my next long run.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

First Day of Summer

Back from Vegas. Went out on Thursday evening and did a whole lot of walking around the Strip and the downtown, so I called that a "workout" and slept in yesterday morning. I didn't do much to ease the financial woes that are hitting this boomtown hard, as I didn't gamble, drink much, or otherwise engage in the vices that fuel the city's economy. But I did take a homeless guy to McDonald's, he ate and I picked his brain a bit on what its like to live on the streets in Vegas. Not a good situation, unsurprisingly.

Went out to the Drives this morning with Reba to run. Did the eight and a half mile loop and then some, calling it 11. Ran it old school: no watch, no iPod. Alot of people were out today. Broke a good sweat. Figure to go even longer tomorrow, and will definitely bring the iPod.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sin City

This ol town filled with sin
It'll swallow you in
If you've got some money to burn...

A postcard from Vegas, where I'm spending today and tomorrow for a conference sponsored by the National Human Services Data Consortium. Just the type of folks to do Vegas with.

I've never been to Vegas before. I hate to admit that my images of Vegas are heavily influenced by the Godfather and Hunter S. Thompson, and on the way out here I read the classic architectural tract Learning from Las Vegas, which was from about that era. The latter book, a quick read with alot of pictures, makes a case for the architecture of the Strip as being one expressing the American vernacular of sprawl and how it was a welcome counterpoint to the often vapid modernist highbrow architecture of the time.

What was sprawl in the 70's has now become urban, with towering hotel/casino buildings fronted by spectacles and a vibrant streetscape that is surprisingly walkable. I spent yesterday evening walking through simulacra of Paris, ancient Rome, Venice and the like. But Venturi et al.'s point does remain, that these behemoth structures are "decorated sheds" and beneath the veneer lie the acres of gaming tables that are ultimate the same in a depressing kind of way.

If you don't think that a casino is depressing then walk through one at 6:30 in the morning and look at the people who are still at the tables or, worse yet, playing the slots. You have to walk through what seems like a half mile of these to get from the hotel elevator at the Mirage, where I'm staying, to the front entrance. I was heading out for a tour - I had me a ten-mile course all gmapped out and my running shoes on. There is no better way to see a city.

My tour went north up the Strip for the first four miles. The over-the-top grandiosity of Treasure Island and Wynn's soon gave way to a zone of transition where they look to still be building these edifices, and I don't envy the developers holding the bag here. The Sahara, with its gaudy Arabian theme marked the official end of the Strip. Going farther up Las Vegas Avenue was like peeling away time, as the architecture reverted to the car-centric and somewhat dated themes that was more consistent with the Vegas in my head. Wedding chapels, pawn shops, strip clubs and rent by the week motels that looked like they could fit in at Wildwood brought out an underside of Vegas that holds much more interest for me. A right on Fremont Ave and it seemed to be a parallel Vegas here, a B-version perhaps, one that the hordes of people crowding the Strip further south never get close to. Unless they have to get some quick cash for their Rolex or need to get married.

When I hit Maryland Avenue I headed back south and improvised, zig-zagging through the residential streets and seeing if there was really as much foreclosed property as one reads about. The cab driver who drove me from the airport described this as a boom town going bust, but the modest, Hispanic blocks I ran down looked okay. From there I hit Joe W. Brown Blvd. and it was backstage of the Strip, seeing from the back how the large hotels lined up along LV Blvd. like a movie set. Here the run started getting long, the traffic was bad, and the view was boring. I was ready to pack it in.

The run made for good sightseeing but not very good running, as I kept it slow and never got much of a rhythm. The official loop length was 10.1 miles, but was a bit longer with the turns I made. Still, 91:49 was a slow pace. But speed wasn't what today's run was about.


To catch up, I have been running, modestly, over the past week, just not blogging it. Yesterday I ran the same route through the Horticultural Center that I did two Thursdays ago, and ran the MLK two miles in 12:21. Getting faster but still a long way to go. Tuesday it was an Art Museum loop, Monday and Sunday were off, and Saturday was a rushed 7.5 around Cobbs Creek and Kingsessing. And that brings me up to date. The semester is over next week, and then I'll have no excuses left for not running hard again.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Good Feeling to Know

Have you heard... Poco is getting back together. Yes, I rolled my eyes too, does this world really need one more group of old farts dusting off their instruments and taking to the road to dredge up music from days gone by?

I heard the news on XPN as I was getting ready for my day after this morning's run. Then dj Michaela Majoun followed up this bit of breaking news with the comment that, in case we had forgotten what Poco sounded like, or never knew in the first place, she'd cue some up. "Good Feeling to Know" came on. And I smiled.

I was never much into Poco, but was into the Rock/Country/California sound that they were a part of. And a beautiful spring morning like this was what a song like that was all about. Remembering spring days in college, when much of life was hanging out on campus on a blanket my friends and I referred to as "the center of the universe." It was movable, we said, and thus the center followed us around. Thought it was cute at the time, now I see it as very age-appropriate. But what that song brought back was the feeling of how, on spring days like that, life and the world seemed limitless.

I also remember mornings like this when my running seemed limitless. Didn't feel that way this morning, though I don't yet think those days are necessarily gone. It's been another difficult week running-wise, hampered again by bad weather and the demands of work which currently has me under a heavy teaching load rounding into the home stretch of the semester; and a couple of research projects I had to deliver on.

I did make it out yesterday for a 10 mile Acme loop, and met up with Erin and Jody today for a jaunt around the 19143. My bones creaked, and I came to the reality that I won't be in shape to run Broad Street this year. But the sun was out, I was with good friends, and the scent of Spring flowers was heavy in the air. A good feeling to know.

5 miles, untimed.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Erin's back around and running, and we met up for an easy 3.5 to Cobb's Creek and back on Cedar Ave. We caught up some, she talking about the misadventures of Iris and me talking about misadventures of M's college selection process. And then the run was over.

Run was slow; Erin was coming off of an extended layoff and I was sore after yesterday. I felt old this morning, as it took a long time for my creaky legs to get warmed up. This after my realization, upon finishing blogging yesterday, that while the 12.5 Easter miles I ran was a good effort, it falls somewhat short of what I consider a "long" run.

I guess that's why they call it an easy run, although on days like today its questioning like this that makes them all but easy.

No watch, no map today.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Not much going on here this year, kids are out of town and no family get togethers. Instead of church I engaged in my usual Sunday morning ritual and went out for a long run.

I didn't go to church but the streets were full of people who did, decked out in their Sunday finest. The trees were decked out in their Sunday finest as well, including the cherry trees, which are peaking about now. My boss suggested I run by the long row of cherry trees that runs from the Horticultural Center, where the attached picture was taken, to the Catholic Total Abstinence Fountain, where I saw them. Two parallel rows of spectacular blossoms and one of Philly's many little known gems.

It was a rare long run where I didn't want to stop. Went through Fairmount Park up to Overbrook Farms down Cobbs Creek, and instead of going back down Christian St. I went the extra mile or so down to Warrington before heading home. I felt strong and the morning was beautiful. I had Tom Russell on the iPod, and then Dave Alvin; the latter had turned me on to the former. Life was good.

In that spirit Reba and I spent a good part of the afternoon planting the little patch in front of our house. It has been neglected over the last few years and this was a perfect day to literally plant life back into it. Celebrating rebirth, is, afterall, what this holiday was all about before the Christians appropriated it.

12.5 miles in 1:44:12.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easy 4

"And I'm fine ‘cause I know, any plane I ride can fly me home."

Untimed, out to Cobbs Creek and back on Christian St.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


I'm on a roll lately. Today was one of those runs where I was just glad to be out there.

Headed down to MLK Drive to rev it up a bit. I hesitate to be more specific than that; all I wanted to do was run fast a little. "Fast" and "little" were the key words, with the latter - at 2 miles - easier to operationalize than the former. I started out at a 7 minute pace and figured it a reach to break 13 minutes for two miles. I had more speed than I thought, however, and nailed them in 12:52.

Nothing to write on a blog about, but I was happy with it. It represents my umpteenth start towards something, but I will go back to the well one more time. This gives me something to build on. A little faster and/or a little longer each week. And I'll be writing about it here.

On my way home, going up Montgomery just before Belmont I decided to take a little shortcut to bypass that intersection. On my way I noticed that the gate to the Horticultural Gardens was open, and suddenly it was a long-cut. I haven't been in the Gardens, except for when the Philadelphia Marathon course ran through it, since Tony was in a running stroller. The perfect time of year to improvise (for the second straight day) and I found a little route through the gardens that let me out in the back of the Please Touch Museum. There was flora, and there also was sculpture, like the one pictured, which exploded with metaphor.

Running by art and spring colors, and the world transforms. Headed back through West Philly and saw boundless possibilities in everything. Life is good. 9 miles here, 72:32.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

45 Now

Thanks for the birthday wishes. It's good to see some of the folks that lurk come out occasionally. I can identify with that, as my tendency is to remain in the shadows while keeping up on what folks have to write of their various exploits. I also admire folks, Mike Salkowski and Joseph Wood come to mind, who have at times really worked on keeping in contact with a network of bloggers. I'd like to be like that, but, like a diet or a new year's resolution, the effort generally backslides. Facebook is the same way, I tried to keep up with it for a little while, but now I check in mainly to read what other folks are up to. And before that, it was the same with letter writing. Oh well.

On to running. Club West Philly is disbanded for a bit, I expect we will reconstitute soon but in the meantime its harder to get out of the house without a set time to meet and people waiting. But once I got out it was another up, springy run, this time out west. Took some paths along Cobbs Creek as an alternative to a part of the bike trail with mixed results. But mainly it satisfied a craving for exploration and something different. And now I'm familiar with another wrinkle of running in that area.

I also dug up Springsteen's Magic cd and put it on my iPod again. I heard Radio Nowhere yesterday and wanted that energy. It did deliver, with the odd feelings that come with a song that I associate with running over a particular, past period of time - in this case with training for Boston in '08.

Call it 10k, untimed, along this route.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Wish me happy birthday; I turn 45 today.

From an aging runner's perspective, each birthday means you get a little more time taken off of the age-graded charts for your race times, and this time around I also move up into another age bracket. That means I have a few more minutes cushion for a Boston qualifying time, and I'll have a bit of an easier time getting age-group shwag at local races.

All this is done so that us older folks can remain competitive, it let's us say this is what we could have done were we still 33... or 27... or whatever. That is a particular thing about this society, cultures traditionally venerate age and younger persons can't wait to become older, and to share in the wisdom and respect that that affords. Then again, I doubt that Black Elk or Confucious ever were seen in running shorts.

I did get the gift of a beautiful, brisk Spring morning, and made the best of it by heading out for what used to be 8 miles before they closed the South Street Bridge, but now has been shortened to 7 3/4 miles on this route. The sun was bright and the flowers in bloom, including the yellow wall of forsythias I made a point to run by outside of Penn's ice rink. I felt fast, and I felt alive, and the world was good. Looking forward to 45 more years of this.

Haven't blogged in over a week as I haven't run much. One of those spells where I was really crunched with work deadlines and classes and staying up late and sleeping instead of running. For the record, I ran 5 1/2 around Warrington Ave a week before Sunday, 8 1/2 with PR on Saturday, and 7 1/2 in Tinicum on Sunday. Each of these runs is a story in itself that will, unfortunately, be mostly lost in the quicksand of my memory.

That is why I blog.