Monday, November 07, 2005

Two runs this weekend

We had a pretty good weekend. My sister ran the NYC marathon. (She said it was fabulous and that everybody should run this race at least once.) I went for a run myself on Saturday for about 4 miles, then gave blood and did my good deed for the weekend.

On Sunday, Brian and I went to Valley Forge to cover the extended 7-mile loop. We ran the beginning and end and walked on the river trail portion. That was pretty good for me considering the Saturday run and the blood donation. I felt good and was a little worried that my legs would hurt today but they didn't. Yay!

I posted most of the Utah pictures up on Winkflash. There are a lot of them and the best ones are not even there because they're panoramic and don't show to best advantage at this website. However, these guys did really nice prints from Hawaii and they are cheap so that's where the photos live for now. Click here to check out the long slide show. Click here to see me & Brian posing like dorks on a rock in the middle of the Virgin River trying to take our self portait with the camera on a tripod.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hills Hills Hills

I just checked the Car-A-Mile page, as I do 400 times a day, to see if there were any updates. Today there was! They've posted a course map and an altitude profile. As you can see, it's hilly. UGH!

The good news is that one of the best places to run around here is Valley Forge which is also full of hills. I guess I'll have to force myself to run on the hilly loop instead of on flat trails so I'll be ready.

All my other races have been like pancakes. This should be interesting indeed!


I set my Tivo to tape anything related to Ironman Triathlons. It's awesome! The people who do these events are just amazing. I have no interest in ever doing such an event but I do love to watch them on TV.

What I find most amazing is that the race is so hard that even the pros walk and DNF and just struggle with it like the regular people do. You don't often get to see that.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

I'm totally out of shape.

Sure, I managed to run 3 miles on Saturday without feeling bad but on Sunday.....OUCH! I didn't go to the 5K because I know my quads would not have cooperated. I'm embarassed at how sore they are after such a short run.

I need to run some more before the 8K and the Turkey Trot.

In more exciting news (kind of) I did register for Car-A-Mile. I hope it was a good decision.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

October 29, 2005 - Trying to run again....

Can you believe it's been more than a month since my last running outing? I've been so busy I couldn't believe the truth when I finally figured it out.

This morning I was planning on going to a local 5K that was raising money for Hurricane Katrina but last night when I realized how bad I've been with keeping up with a running plan I kind of chickened out and decided to sleep a little later and go out for a run myself just to see how it felt.
I'm thinking of doing a different local 5K tomorrow and I still might -- we'll see how the weather looks.

Anyway -- the run went well! It was good weather, chilly but not once you got moving. I only went 3 miles including the first bit I walked while I warmed up and got my iPod situated and it took just over a half hour. So I feel quite sure I can handle the 5K tomorrow without making too much of a fool of myself!

In other news, I think it's going to cost me about $300 to get my treadmill repaired. The closest place that will do it is in Harrisburg and that's FAR from where I live. That's nearly half of what I paid for the stupid thing which makes me mad that we didn't just splurge on a better one to begin with. What worries me the most is that I'm going to hire the guy, he'll come and then he'll have misdiagnosed the problem and it'll cost even more. Blah! I wish it wasn't so dark in the winter so I could run outside all the time.

My sister and I have decided to sign up for the Car-A-Mile Marathon in May 2006. It's a new marathon in NJ that's associated with a long running 15K so I'm not worried about a first time race director making a lot of mistakes. The premise is that this is a race for the average runner with prizes for the average guy not the elites. They're going to give away a car (a lease, actually, but still fun) at every mile of the race. You need to line up in the corrals to be in the pool of winners. They're going to post the name of the winner at every mile. It sounds totally fun, I think. Plus, it's only about an hour from my house. I'm thinking that if this becomes and annual race it's my big chance to be one of those people who runs a race every single year it exists.

We're also going to do the MORE marathon together in March. That's the one in NYC for women over 40. I'm not 40 yet but you can register as the side-kick of a 40 year old woman and then both run a half-marathon. That's what we did last year and we had a great time.

My long range goal is to run Philadelphia in November 2006. What other races I'll insert along the course of the year I don't know. I still haven't figured out what to do about the San Jose, Disneyland, Distance Run dilemma.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Brian & Helen at Kolob Canyon Overlook

This is a (bad) photo of me & Brian from the first day of our trip to Utah. We were freezing up there at the Kolob Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park.

We're most of the way through our photos and are trying to get the best ones into a slide show and we're trying to see if flickr is the way to do it. I'm testing the flickr blog posting feature with this picture.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Totally bummed out!

They cancelled the Urban Challenge! It's (was) my favorite race in the world and now it's gone.

I'm mad too because it's only about 2.5 weeks from now and it's all the way in Phoenix so I have a bunch of travel plans I need to cancel too.

This stinks. And it's raining outside. What a rotten day.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A really fun poll from HER SPORTS magazine

Click on this link to add your two cents to the Her Sports Opinion Poll.

I'm still working on my entry and some I don't think I'll vote on.

BEST NAME: Half Wit Half Marathon, Reading PA
BEST T-SHIRTS: Baltimore Marathon
BEST EXPO: Rock'N'Roll San Diego
BEST FOR FAMILIES: Walt Disney World Marathon
BEST FINISHER'S MEDAL: Philadelphia Distance Run

UTAH was awesome!

I'm finally back from my vaction and all I can say is that if you have never been to Bryce Canyon NP or Zion NP you must book your trip immediately and get there as soon as you can.

The scenery was just spectacular and since we stayed at the NP lodges for most of the trip we were kind of "unplugged" from the world because there was no TV or internet or anything else. Early to bed and early to rise made for a superbly relaxing week away.

We did great hikes in both parks and spent lots of time just hanging out looking for animals and drinking assorted coffee drinks (they had a really good coffee bar at Zion). We (well Brian) took an enormous number of photos and as soon as we have some time to plow through all the digital images I'll link to a slideshow for you to view.

I have learned since my return home that they have a half marathon at Bryce Canyon. Very Interesting....

Monday, October 03, 2005

Dilemma: California Half Marathon 2006

I have a dilemma - I have to choose between two new interesting races.

I think I posted before about the new Disneyland Half Marathon in September. They're going to have a castle medal. How cool is that? Anyway, I just found out that there is going to be a new Rock'N'Roll Half marathon in San Jose in October.

I want to do both. Both have potential for good pre or post race vacations. Both offer new medals. Both are races I'm sure I'll like. I think I'll probably get a better shirt at Disneyland if the Disney World marathons are any indication. Plus it gives me a reason to go to those parks that I'd most likely never visit without the half-marathon incentive.

However, I love all of the Rock'N'Roll races. And I wonder if I'd get a special prize if I did VA Beach, PDR and San Jose? I'd be earning a new medal: the special 26.2 for doing two rock'n'roll half marathons plus the VA Beach/PDR combo and maybe an extra special one for doing all three? I don't know. It's going to be hard to choose.

Walk for the Wissahickon - 11 mile hike

Brian & I spent a good part of Sunday on a hiking adventure to "preserve open space". The Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association sponsored a hike along the Green Ribbon trail which runs along the Wissahickon Creek. You could take a 21, 7, 11 or 4 mile hike along the trail. The hikes were stuck together and were led by a guide who worked for WVWA and they provided water and snacks. All in all it was a pleasant way to spend a gorgeous fall day, although neither of us is dying to do it again.

We opted for the 11 mile hike. The guide was a guy who kept a nice pace -- we never felt trapped or like snails and since they made clear in the registration packet that kids under a certain age, dogs and strollers were not welcome at this event things went great. They had weeded out the snails ahead of time so we were left with a good crowd of speedy hikers.

The trail was mostly flat with the typical eastern PA rocks. You had to keep your eyes on the trail to keep from tripping. There were seven creek crossings but they were simple since they had laid planks and ladders across the creek so you didn't need to get wet. We're at the end of a particularly dry summer though so this could be more interesting/challenging if the water level was higher.

We only stopped a couple of times for street crossings and bathroom breaks and the WVWA folks provided a steady stream of water, granny smith apples (my fave!), bananas and an excellent assortment of candy. At the 7 mile mark we stopped for about a half hour for lunch and most of the group hopped on a bus back to the start of the hike. About a dozen of us pressed on to the 11 mile bus back point.

I think the only problem with this hike was that it was all business. Because we were all herded together there really wasn't any chance to just meander along and take in the pretty creek views or look for wildlife. It was a nice day, and being with the other folks wasn't bad, but I think we would have had more fun alone and maybe more fun later in the season when the leaves had turned color.

We spent the afternoon watching the Eagles awesome comeback on Tivo [We were clued in by the happy shouts pouring out of our neighbors house that the 2nd half was worth watching] and playing with our new espresso machine. We got the machine on Saturday with some gift certificates we've had since the wedding but haven't managed to spend yet. So far the machine is fabulous and we're both sad we waited this long to buy the gadget!

5 days until Utah!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Random Stuff

I have been brainwashed by the breast cancer people. I almost bought these pants last night but didn't want to wait in a long line at the store so I didn't. But I can't stop thinking about them and I think I need to go buy them at lunch time. [They are breast cancer awareness jeans -- mostly they are just regular jeans with a pink design on the pockets and a cute belt and they give money to Susan G. Komen if you buy them.]

I need to get my treadmill fixed. I haven't run since the PDR and I actually kind of miss it. I don't think I'll be running until after Utah though just because I won't have time to do it.

I can't wait until Utah! We leave next Saturday!

This weekend I'm doing a trail walk or hike or something. It's a guided hike on a mostly flat trail so it might be really annoying but Brian & I figure it will be a good way to spend time outside on a different trail than we usually use and if we hate it we can just ditch the gang and take off on our own. They offer 21, 11, 7 and 4 mile options and I think we're doing the 7/11 hike. I don't think I have 21 in me this weekend!

The 3-Day: the last day

The final walk of the 3-day was short in comparison to the other two. About 14 miles. Unfortunately for the people with sore feet, knees, etc. there were lots of hills.

The last day is really different because they have a special closing ceremony and they hold all the walkers in a special holding area about a quarter mile from the real finish area until the ceremony is supposed to begin. This is good because it forces the faster people to slow down and take in the atmosphere. I tried to stay in the middle of the pack on the final day and I saw a completely different scene than at the front. It was still great, but lots more crowded and that meant a less pleasnt time at the pit-stops and more crowding on the route. But it also meant more people to talk to and more rowdy crowds. All in all though, I prefer the front.

The whole ending of the weekend was pretty cool. Approaching the final section of the walk the streets are lined with walkers who have finished, friends & family, and crew people who are screaming and clapping and cheering while music blares. You can hear them well before you see them and it's more dramatic than any race finish line I've experienced. I think this must be what it's like to be on the red-carpet. Once you finish you get your cool "victory" shirt. These are blue for walkers, pink for Survivors and white for crew people. They're very nice.

After all the walkers have come in for the day. They send the spectators up to the stage and separate the particpants into three groups: walkers, crew, and Survivors. Then we proceed into the closing area (through more throngs of cheering fans) where they put us all into concentric circles -- walkers on outside and then when we're all in there the crew comes in to be applauded by us. And boy, was the cheering for the crew amazing. I actually felt the ground shake. And they deserved every second of it. They really are amazing and they spend four days doing it and get less rest than us. They were great. Lastly, the survivors make it into the innermost ring and raise up the 3-Day flag. [Actually, they raise a blank flag symbolizing a world where there is no cancer and thus no need for the 3-Day. Nice sentiment, but I think they should use the regular flag.]

Anyway, during this final section a whisper went through the crowd telling us that the 3-Day tradition is to remove one shoe and hold it above your head in tribute to the Survivors. Let me tell you, it's pretty hilarious to see thousands of stiff, sore people trying to bend over in a tightly packed corral to remove a sneaker from a blistered foot. However, the sneaker salute was very neat. At least to the walkers, I'm not sure what anybody else thought of it. Later I noticed that the picture on our victory t-shirt is of three walkers holding up their shoes.

You might also notice in the photo that the person in the center is a man. I was surprised to see so many men walking. They were treated like extra-special heros but there were plenty of them there. I think they should market more to men because all the guys I talked to expressed a reluctance to particpate but were all glad that they had decided to do it. So tell all the guys out there -- come and walk!

My last words on this [finally!] are that it was an excellent experience, very well run, and something that I think you should do if you're even slightly interested.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The 3-Day: Camp Two + THE ESCAPE

So things at camp on Day Two were good! My friend Lisa, who was working on crew, met me at the finish for the day and took pictures and it was really fun. Plus, I still felt great after 40+ miles. Life was good, and hanging at the camp with Brian and my sister who visited was really fun too. I was glad they got to see what it was like and take it all in.

As the day wore on and the last walker made it back to camp and raised the 3-Day flag [see photo -- they make a big fuss over the last person to make it back] my exhaustion started to kick in. I was beat -- so you can imagine just how thrilled I was when they announced that in the morning of Day Three they'd be taking us by bus to Chestnut Hill College. Awesome! My sister, who was still at camp, lives across the street from the college! And that meant that I didn't have to sleep in the tent!!! I'd get a real bed and a real bathroom and that I could sleep late on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the 3-Day folks make a big deal of scanning the walkers in and out of camp each day so they know everybody is safe and sound. When I asked about how to make that happen even though I was leaving the camp they told me it couldn't be done.

So I escaped. I packed up my tent and my duffel bag and snuck out of camp. We did recon at the college to make sure we could find the pit stop and route markers for the next day and then I hit the sack.

Check out my fugitive picture -- that's me leaving my hide out and making my way back to the route on Sunday morning.

The 3-Day: Overnight + Day Two

I enjoyed "camping" quite a lot. [Did you check out my huge puffy air mattress? I was completely not roughing it!] It's fun to be surrounded by people who are totally immersed in the same thing as you are, all obsessed with the walk, the aches and pains, etc. I was also amazed at seeing the people hobbling around camp, bandaged and hurting and how they were all still planning on heading out on Day 2. I still felt great at this point -- a little stiff maybe but good. Some of these folks were wiped out.

Anyway, I was in bed by 9, asleep by 9:05. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of tarps flapping wildly in the breeze. I found my trusty headlamp and wandered to the porta-potty (although there was so much moonlight I hardly needed the light) and made it back to bed in one piece. I was up at 5 to start the day with a totally huge and awesome breakfast [eggs, hash browns, biscuts, bacon, oatmeal!]. Seriously, they feed you like you would not believe at this thing.

I packed up the tent and was out on the road by about 7:20. We had 19.5 miles on tap this morning so I was glad to see that the weather had changed and it was a lot cooler on day 2.

Day 2 was cool because I was passing through a lot of familiar territory. My huband's hometown, my sister-in-laws neighborhood, my old office park to name a few. I called the family and tried to help them figure out how to meet me for lunch. The 3-Day folks never really give up too much info on the route but I knew which mile would be our lunch stop (13.1) and where the nearest "cheering station was" (13.1) so I told them to get a map and find a park in the vicinity and come find me for lunch.

I got to lunch, and was right at home -- the theme was NERDapolooza! Brian and my sister were at lunch and my Mom was up at the cheering station a few miles later. Amazingly, after 33 miles and change I still felt great. Thanks to a couple Spenco second skin squares on my heel hot spot my feet felt great, and so did my legs. Right about now was when I started to regret not signing up for Disney's Goofy Challenge.

Brian walked with me for about 3 or 4 miles and I got back to camp in the front of the pack again. He met me back at camp, helped set up my tent and then took off while I got in line for the shower. This time things weren't going as smoothly because they had trouble finding a level spot for the shower trucks and they opened late. How dare they?!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The 3-Day: Camp One

I hobbled into camp the first night and made my way to the gear truck to pick up my stuff and my tent. I have no idea at all what to do with a tent or how to put one up but luckily the nice crew guys were there to help all of us do the tents.

After setting up the tent and my air mattress I collected my clean towels and went to the shower truck. The hot showers are an awesome feature -- I really can't imagine this without the showers. Since I was in the front of the pack I didn't even have to wait in a line, I just walked right in. Fabulous!

So, now I'm clean and my bed is all set up. It was time to explore the camp. It's really pretty impressive. They have the whole tent city, a giant dining hall with tables and a stage for entertainment, plus a medical tent, a 3-day merchandise tent, and a place to hang out and relax and read and just chill out. It's pretty cool.

The 3-Day, Day One - I don't think I'm going to like this

I left for the 3-Day on Thursday night. Walkers were supposed to report to Sesame Place no later than 6am on Friday morning and since I am not a morning person AT ALL I thought it would be best to stay at a nearby hotel. In the morning I waited in the hotel lobby by myself surrounded by packs of women decked out in pink gear who were all eager to get started. This made me kind of sad that I was alone and I was worried that this was going to be a long, miserable weekend.

Getting to Sesame Place, still in the dark, I dropped off my gear and was handed a pack of Mike & Ikes by the cheery crew guy who collected my bag. This was indicative of things to come: really nice crew people and free food! I made my way to the stage and waited, nervously for the next hour or so until the sun came up and the ceremony to start the walk began. In the meantime more and more packs of women crowded the area. Some of them were actually wearing fake styrofoam boobs on their heads. Many of them were chanting annoying boob-themed cadence chants and singing boob-themed songs. I thought to myself that if this kept up I wouldn't make it through even one day.

The ceremony was nice, a series of people talking about why they walked and coming to the conclusion that we all walk because we believe in a future without breast cancer. [For the record, over 400,000 people die each year from breast cancer. Every 3 minutes a new person is diagnosed. Every 13 minutes somebody dies. That's a lot of people.] I have to say, it was a total tear jerker of a presentation especially when lots of people around me started bawling I guess because they were remembering the people they knew who had died. I felt kind of like an interloper because I have no connection to the disease. (Thank goodness!) They also told us that Philadelphia had about 2000 walkers who raised 6 million dollars. Nice work!

Finally, about 7:15 we got started. We left the staging area and headed out onto the course -- and the whole first section was lined on both sides by cheering, clapping crew members who were handing out high fives and 3-day bandannas. (more free stuff!) It was very uplifting and fun.

The first day of walking covered 23 miles between Langhorne and Warminster. We walked through a couple of beautiful parks, and some cute towns. Spectators were few and far between except for the designated cheering stations but there were some notable exceptions like the lady in the Yellow car who kept popping up and telling us we should feel "damn good" about what we were doing and the nice lady in Newtown who set out snacks and opened up her house to the walkers so they could use her bathroom. This is a huge deal -- all we do the whole time is go to the bathroom. Porta-potties on the horizon cause the crowd of walkers to cheer with excitement. It's crazy -- but they push water and gatorade on you constantly so pretty much all the time you are scrambling for a bathoom.

I felt great all day, even towards the end when the sun beat down on us and things got a little more difficult. But over all the day went smoothly. It was so different from marathons where it's all about pushing hard and going as fast as you can. Here it was about making friends, and talking, and stopping to stretch and eat and relax every 3 miles or so.

At every pit stop along the way, the crew would wear costumes and play themed music as they provided food (string cheese, peanut butter and bagels, raisins, bananas, crackers, chips, pretzels, Pria bars) and bathrooms, and medical attention and of course STICKERS! How nerdy am I that I liked getting stickers more than just about anything?

I was back at camp around 4:00 and was one of the first hundred people to make it back. More on camping later.....

Monday, September 26, 2005

It was great!

The 3-Day is over and it was awesome. I highly recommend this event -- if you're considering it even a little bit I think you should do it. It's fun, and well run, and for a good cause.

I was going to post some pictures but blogger seems to be going a little crazy today so that will have to wait. Booooo.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Oh my god! The packing was TERRIBLE!

There is a 35 pound limit on the stuff you can lug to the 3-Day. That does not scare me after the 30 pound seaplane limit from our trip to St. Croix.

What I hadn't counted on was how difficult it would be to wedge everything I needed plus an air matress (yeah, I'm bringing a matress, I'm a big wimp) and a sleeping bag into one duffel bag. I had to move from the one I was planning to bring to a different larger one. Thank goodness I had that option. Right now it's about to pop open and explode everywhere. Tonight, after I get to the hotel, I'm going to unpack and try to put everything in there in a more coherent way. Right now it's just all wedged in however I could make it fit.

It's so funny -- after I get to the hotel I need to take off all my work clothes and get into my pjs so I can send all the dirty clothes/shoes home with Brian. I also need to send home my handbag and everyother extra thing I have on me today so that it won't clutter my 3-day bag. This is so crazy.

The weather seems like it will be OK. Cool on Saturday -- a high of 73? -- but mostly dry. At least I hope so.

I'm trying to hook up with my team but so far not much luck. Keep your fingers crossed there will be no rain and some cool people.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

These 3-Day people really know what they're doing...

So, my last post was all about feeling panic over the weekend. Then I open my e-mail and find a link to a short movie from the 3-Day people. It's just scrolling text with dramatic movie soundtrack music playing. Here's what it said:


You’re about to join in a bold experiment.

An experiment with a goal no less than to rid the world of breast cancer.

It’s hard to imagine a challenge so great could begin with something as
simple as tying your shoes.

Something you do every day.

Soon, you’ll tie your shoes with a courageous purpose in mind:
to change the world.

We’ll have a big advantage. Because there will be an awful lot of tied shoes out there.

And they’ll all be headed in the same direction.

Toward the same goal.

Some will walk fast. Others slow.

Groups will fall in step, while others will keep their own rhythm.

You will find that some shoes are old. Some brand-new.
And that they come in different sizes. And shapes. And colors.

None, we hope, will have high heels.

As you were tying your shoes this morning, maybe you were thinking about all the things you need to pack. You know, an extra pair of socks, sun block, maybe a picture of the kids.

Now that you’re reading this, you probably just thought of something else.

There will always be something else.

Don’t worry.

You’ll be okay.

The most important thing to bring to the 3-Day is something you can’t forget.

You always have it. You just have to remember to share it.


Kindness is like water. Everyone needs it.

Some more than others. Some times more than others.

For at least three days, let’s try to give out more kindness than we ever have before.

Don’t be afraid to tell someone if their shoes need tying.

Reach out to your fellow walkers, in hand and in heart.

Give a crew person the hug they so richly deserve.

If you find yourself in camp early try setting up a tent…for someone you don’t even know.

You’ll find, kindness is contagious.

Kindness makes everything better.

Even sore feet. Even using porta-potties.

Which is good. Because the 3-Day isn’t easy.

It’s a long road.
Soon, it will begin to move beneath your feet.

It will be the start of something big.

Something bold and challenging.

Walking 60 miles in three days. That definitely falls into the “big” category.

That’s what sets you – and the 3-Day – apart.

The little voice inside your head that said, “What is the most I can do?”

That’s the stuff this world could use more of.

This adventure will begin with a single step for each of us.

It will reach out for generations to come.
Galvanized by purpose and guided by the irrepressible light of hope, we are taking a stand against breast cancer. Working together,we have the power to do the most extraordinary things.
Know that our boldness will bring about change.

Lives will be saved.

Hope for humanity will take a giant step forward.

And just think, it all starts with the simple act of tying your shoes.

See you on Friday with your walking shoes on!
Now I wish it was starting tommorow.

Total Panic is Setting In...

I went to Target the other night to pick up a cheapie air-matress with a battery pump so I won't have to sleep on the ground at the 3-Day and I had to buy one that came in a completely mutilated box because it was the only one left and there was a woman there about to pounce on it. I had to beat her to it. I'm sure she was looking for a 3-Day bed too because this chick looked even less like a camper than me!

Anyway, I got that, some rain gear, a travel alarm clock, some tarp type things and as I'm lugging it all home I am realizing what a crazy adventure this is going to be. My friend who came up with this whole 3-Day scheme has dropped off the face of the earth (she's totally hiding from me because I guess she decided not to do the event and can't bring herself to admit it) so I am heading into this on my own.

I've never camped before and I've never done an event bigger than a 5K on my own before. I don't think I've ever spent 3 full days alone before. Ok, so I won't really be alone since there are about 3000 people doing this event, but I don't actually KNOW any of them. I've never slept outside or in a tent. I'm kind of grateful that my friend is bailing because I think that might mean I get my own tent. That will be good because I don't think I'd like a total stranger snoring and whining about her blisters in my tent with me.

Tonight I have to go home and figure out exactly what I'm bringing and how to pack it correctly. I guess if I forget something it won't matter since I can just buy it or call Brian to come and deliver it to me but even that is tricky since they aren't even telling us where we're going to be on any given day. It's a total mystery adventure!

I've been checking the weather constantly. Right now the Weather Channel is giving all three days a fitness index of 8 which is quite nice. Unfortunately, there is a 30% chance of rain every day. It better not rain. I just hate rain -- luckily I bought my 89 cent emergency ponchos from Target. They wont' keep my feet dry but there is no way I'm dorky enough to wear those totally nerdy "sloggers" [think totes galoshes for sneakers]. I'd rather have blisters.

I picked up another possibly interesting thing at Target -- a one time use digital camera. If that works out maybe I'll actually post some pictures of this event!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Philadelphia Distance Run 1/2 marathon

Sunday morning was the Philadelphia Distance Run - a half marathon race around Philadelphia. There were about 10,000 runners signed up to run on Sunday and it was a great day for a race.

I wasn't sure how to approach this because I had run a new PR two weeks ago at Virginia Beach and I'm doing the Breast Cancer 3-day this weekend so I wasn't sure what my legs were ready for on Sunday. I decided to just let my body do the talking and kind of wing it and not care about my performance. If I wound up walking the whole time, so be it. Just make sure to have no injury or sore spots for the 3-day.

I got into my corral (one ahead of Brian) before the start and spotted my most hated race nemesis who I always see at the big local events. So much for walking at the start -- I need to get in front of the nemesis and stay there! Before the gun went off I decided to try something new and I ate a gel before we started. I thought this might help to counter the mile 11 bonk effect I felt at Virginia Beach.

The first two miles feel good, if a little warm. They made me worry that the day would heat up and be tough but luckily that never happened! Between miles 2 and 3 things were pretty lively as a guy was leading the E-A-G-L-E-S cheer over and over again as he ran. With the echo coming off the buildings that was pretty fun. I think that kind of wiped him out though because he faded as we made the turn onto the parkway and I never saw him again.

I made it to the 5 mile mark near the Art Museum before the winners finished the race so that was a minor accomplishment for me! Yay! At this stage, I'd been running the whole time except at the water stops. I felt really good and I was a couple minutes ahead of my Virginia Beach pace. Yay again! I ate my second gel at this point.

The stretch along West River Drive (now Martin Luther King Drive) was pretty good, I started more of a run walk along here but it was still mostly running. Brian caught me close to the 7 mile marker and while he acknowledged that he was probably going too fast, he felt good and wanted to maintain his pace. I let him go, knowing that it really wasn't worth it to me to push things any harder than I was.

Just past mile 8 there was a Power Gel station and here is where I nearly met my doom. I stopped streatch a little while I ate the gel and made sure that I had enough water to wash it down and that stop could have been bad. My IT band, which had been silent to that point, suddenly freaked out and hurt like hell. It even hurt as I walked, and that NEVER happens to me. I kind of freaked. I got off the road and started to walk on the grass which was a little softer and stopped a couple times to stretch it out. Back on the road, I decided to try running again and since it hurt equally to run and walk I decided to keep on running. We crossed the bridge onto Kelly Drive and by the next mile marker I had forgotten the pain. (For now anyway)

The rest of the race was total run walk and I was still pretty far ahead of pace from VA Beach. At Boathouse Row, which was past the 12 mile marker, I saw that if I really pushed it I could probably break 2:30 but my knee was hurting and I was a little scared of hurting myself for the 3-Day so I just maintained the status quo and finished in 2:31 and change.

I was really happy! That's about a 3 and a half minute improvement over Virginia Beach. I also managed to beat the race nemesis by quite a lot -- like 40 minutes.

The medal they gave out at the PDR was excellent! A very cool replica of the LIberty Bell. It may be my coolest medal ever. Anyway, I was pleased to see that Brian had finished ahead of me and was waiting at the line for me. He managed a totally awesome 2:25 finish! Amazing! now I have a goal for 2006 -- to beat his 2:25 time!

The race was really good and fun and when it was over I got to meet Deena Kastor, the Olympic Medalist and winner of the race. She set the American Record on the road on Saturday and she hung out and was signing race bibs and medals. It was very cool.

So here we are on Tuesday and my legs are in good shape and I'm trying to get in the right frame of mind for the weekend. I'm a nervous wreck, that's for sure.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Urban Challenge - Lexington

Wow! What fun!

My sister and I, UC team Walk Don't Run, helped out Team Ski Bums from Cincinatti at the UC in Lexington, KY today. This was an adventure since we don't actually know the Ski Bums except from an online message group of Urban Challenge people.

They were getting clue support from thier normal clue solver & a member of another team that they are friendly with but asked us if we'd be willing to help a little and since we were really sad that we weren't going to Lexington ourselves we were glad to help. We were nervous wrecks but everything turned out great!

The whole point of UC is to solve clues that lead you to 12 checkpoints around a city where you need to get your picture taken. You don't know if you're right until you've handed in your camera at the end of the day. You also have to get to the checkpoints on foot or using public transportation only. So, it's a foot race for thinkers.

Anyway, it appears that we didn't not hinder the Ski Bums as they managed to come in a solid 4th in the race. We were thrilled! It was so fun and now I really, really can't wait for the National Championship in Phoenix.

Urban Challenge is so awesome. I hope this isn't the last year for it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Awesome races!

I haven't been thinking about the PDR so much because I am completely obsessed with two alternative races.

The first one is the Urban Challenge in Lexington, KY. I'm not actually running this race but I am going to help another team who will be on the ground running. This is rather nerve wracking because I don't know the team I'm helping except from talking to them online. They asked if my team would be willing to help them & their other online brains at the race. Since I'm dying to take part in the UC in any capacity this year, I said of course. But now I feel like I have to really be good at helping or they'll hate us for ruining their event.

I'm also completely distracted by thinking about a half-marathon that isn't even going to happen until this time next year. I got a secret e-mail from WDW Endurance detailing the new Disneyland Half Marathon that they'll be holding next September. Registration opens October 15 but the secret e-mail said previous WDW runners (I've done the Disney marathon twice) will get first crack at registration before it opens to the general public. The race is going to go through both California parks and other parts of Anaheim. I've never been out there and I don't anticipate ever scheduling a trip to Disneyland just on it's own merits, so this seems like the perfect reason to get out there. Plus, they say that the medal is going to be shaped like the castle. How awesome is that?

The Disney marketers have me hook, line and sinker. Special new medal, secret way to register, and all that jazz. I can't wait to hand over my money.

In the meantime I have a little thing like this weekend's half to think about not to mention next weekend's 60 miles.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yay! A new PR

I really stink at this blog thing.

My training has been lousy and my posting even worse.

The good news is that we went to Virginia Beach, despite our concern over the Hurricane disaster/gasoline shortages, and we had a gorgeous weekend at the beach and a great race.

Brian & I both set PRs on the course and my sister had a pretty good time too even though she swore she was going to take four hours to complete the course (more like 2:50).

My main goal for the race was to do it at a 12 minute per mile pace or faster which would have me finishing at 2:36 or better. My stretch goal was to finish in 2:30 (11:30 pace or so). I think that I could do that if I had a perfect day.

Sunday morning was perfect for racing -- slightly cool, low humidity. Just a gorgeous day. The wave start SUCKED. I hated it completely. We were trapped for 25 minutes before they let us cross the starting line. Usually it takes me less than 10. I understand how they didn't want to crowd the faster runners I guess but this seemed really horrible. I think I wouldn't have minded the delay so much if they didn't force us to stand smooshed together in the corral for all that time -- let us get in there later. I could certainly have used another porta-potty stop if I'd know I'd be trapped for all that time. Anyway, I hated the delayed start and I found the entire race to be far more crowded than ever before. I don't know if that's because I was faster doing the race or what but overall I really, really disliked the wave start.

The 2:30 pace group was in my corral with me so I decided to see if I could hang with them and hit my stretch goal. I was OK and right with them, or even slightly faster than them until the 5K mark when for some reason the road was smoky and smelled like BBQ. I slowed down in the smoky section and never quite got back on pace with the group.

I walked through water stops and found myself mostly running but taking the occasional walk break for the next several miles. I was planning on walking in Camp Pendleton because it's normally really hot in that section of the course and I thought it would be easier to walk there but it turned out to be nice and cool so I kept running. I did walk up the bridge around mile 8.

At the loop onto Atlantic Avenue I realized that I had passed my sister somewhere along the course and that made me happy because I knew she started ahead of me. Still, I was starting to lose some steam.

Brian caught up to me at about mile 10, right before the turn onto the Boardwalk. I was really glad to see him because I was tired and I thought he'd give me a boost and also because I was excited that he was having a really good race! His plan was to take it easy for the first 5 miles and then if he was feeling good he'd turn it up for the rest of the race. He didn't think he had a great time in him this year since he really hadn't done any fast walking leading up to the race. Anyway, he obviously was doing great and he easily turned on his turbo boost on the boardwalk and left me behind.

It was amazing that I had no juice at all to propel me to follow him. He went and I just couldn't make myself go after him. Very frustrating! I felt good in my brain and I was in no pain or anything but I just had no energy. I did the gels in the normal way but I think I must not have had enough breakfast or something because I just had nothing left. I walked almost the whole mile between 11 and 12 I bet. At the last water stop I doused myself with cold water and ran the rest of the way to the finish line. The cold wet shirt really helped me hang in there for that last stretch.

Anyway, my final time was 2:34:50 which I am just thrilled with. Maybe I can hit the 2:30 at the PDR in another week.

Brian finished in 2:34:15 so he's still the family champ.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tuesday Run - 4 miles (3 run, 1 walk)

We've been having amazing weather this week. Nice and cool, low humidity, just about perfect.

I went to the park after work to run and I had a really good outing. I ran 3 miles along the river at an 11:00 pace and then walked the last mile back to the car drinking my water. It was a good run, not too hard, not too easy.

I'm getting really excited for Virginia Beach - it's only 11 days away!

This weekend I have to walk 18 miles to get ready for the 3-Day. I'm actually looking forward to it. How crazy is that?

As you can tell, I've pretty much given up on PhillyFit. I shouldn't have because it's a good program and I think it would be great for me if my only goal was the marathon but this summer it's just not quite the right thing for me because my focus is different from the groups.

On top of that, I've about had it with getting up early to workout. I need my sleep and I just don't get it with that organized running group.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Weekend at the Shore

Brian & I headed down the shore this past weekend. It was great -- fabulous weather and very relaxing but it didn't do much for my training schedule, that's for sure.

Saturday we walked a little on the beach and then later to pick up dinner. Strolled is more like it for both outings but the total miles was probably around 4.

Sunday we went for a real "fitness" walk and it was good. The weather was hot, and pretty humid, but nothing a little Gatorade and a cold bottle of water couldn't cure. I think the walk only covered 5 miles or so but it felt good. I met a couple other 3-Day walkers who were finishing up 18 miles when I saw them and another woman stopped me to say she was a Stage III survivor and that she appreciated the efforts of the walkers. That was nice.

I wore my Supernovas because I didn't want to risk getting sand in my Asics. I can't believe I've worn them for so long because they totally suck compared to the Asics. I even got a blister! On a 5 mile walk!! What's up with that? I actually am very puzzled by the blister -- it's between my 3rd & 4th toes, a place I've never had a problem before. I think there must have been an odd string in my sock or something.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Inside and Outside

Last night was just beautiful! Not too hot, not too humid and with a nice breeze. I went to the park after work and ran about 3 miles and then headed home to tinker with the treadmill.

It's still not perfect but I did get it to a point where I could run a whole mile on it without fearing for my life. That's good because the thought of not having access to the treadmill spelled doom for my training plans and my waistline.

I ran outside without music or anything and it was good. I think my pace was as crazy as always but I never felt too bad. I started off walking, ran once I felt warmed up. I ran the second mile in 10:15, which is really fast for me, so at the 2 mile marker I started to walk and took a quick drink. I finished up running and overall I was pleased with it. I haven't run since last Thursday so I really needed this. If the weather holds up I might try to do the same thing tonight.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's fixed! (I hope)

My treadmill was all messed up this weekend. SOmehow the belt went crazy and was scary to walk on at even the slowest speed. Running was out of the question.

yesterday I read online that you should turn it on and let it run by itself for as long as your normal workout or even longer. I did that and while it's not 100% it's a heck of a lot closer than it was and it's probably usable. At least I'm considering using it for a 30-minute run tonight when yesterday I wouldn't have dreamed of such a thing.

I walked somewhere between 9-10 miles on Sunday morning but that was my only workout of the week and it wasn't a high intensity thing at all. I need to get some miles in today even if I have to do it outside and since it's raining right now that's not looking promising.

I've realized that the 3-Day is looming and that I need to do a 15-20 mile walk either this weekend or next. I'm not sure how that's going to work with the weather and going to the shore (hopefully) but it really needs to happen or I'm going to be one of the 3-Day wimps I've been mocking.

Virginia Beach is only 19 days away. My current plan is to wear a 12:00 pace band and maybe one a little faster. I'll be OK with the 12:00 pace finish but I'd love to do better. I'm not sure that my training will allow much better than that though, especially if it's hot.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday Run/Walk - 5 miles

We were shooting for 8 miles today but only did 5. Same concept as Saturday but our hearts weren't in it, it was more humid and there was a park ranger in a souped up golf cart-ish thing on the trail spewing smelly exhaust that just made the whole ordeal very unpleasant. We turned around to get rid of the ranger and then I wimped out at the car instead of pushing for the extra 3 miles.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Saturday Run/Walk - 9 miles

Well the alarming trend continues. I blew off my early morning group run to sleep in. I haven't been feeling well and the sleep seems to be somewhat beneficial to me.

After spending the morning catching up on chores Brian & I hit the trail in the late afternoon. We were on the Perkiomen on a part of the trail that's beyond where we usually walk. It was gravel and shaded so it was good. The heat and humidity weren't too bad so this ended up being a decent day out.

We started out slowly just getting into things but a little less than halfway into things we stepped up the pace and Brian started his fast walking and I started my running. It wasn't fast, somewhere between 11:44 and 12:00 per mile but it was plenty for my LSD and I'll be content if I can maintain this speed at either/both of the half marathons. All told, we did about 9 miles and I'd guess 6 of them were running miles.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Awesome Run

I only ran for 30 minutes tonight but it was a great run!

I pushed myself harder than usual by upping the MPH with every song that came on the iPod. I finished 2.75 miles in the 30 minutes which isn't spectacular or anything but that comes to just under 11 minutes per mile and that's faster than I normally run. Best of all I never felt like quitting, which is a refreshing change of pace.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Long walk: 8+ miles

We drove up to Green Lane for an afternoon walk today. It was more for fresh air than for fitness. We didn't walk fast at all we just walked and talked and planned future vacations. It was good. We need to do this more often.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Saturday's Lousy Run

After a totally hectic and stressful week at the office I couldn't face the 6AM wakeup call for Saturday's run so I decided to sleep in. The Philly Fit schedule called for 8 miles for the half-marathon and 12 for the full-marathon. I wasn't feeling up to 12 miles so I figured I could do 8 to 10 by myself after a good night's rest.

I was up at about 8:30 had a good breakfast and was on the trail before 10. I was planning a re-run of last weeks run and I hoped to get in about 10 miles running on the shady, gravel trail. Since I was going out for a long time on my own I decided to bring my iPod along for the run. This proved to be a huge mistake. First of all, my armband still hasn't come from Amazon even though I ordered it weeks ago, and that meant that I had to carry it in my hand. Very pesky. But the larger problem is that I just can't run outside with music and maintain the correct pace. I'm all over the place -- fast, slow, dead. Awful.

I wound up doing 6 miles instead of my intended 8-10 and it was a rough 6. I need a running partner, that's clear. The music had me all messed up and I stopped listening after the first 3 miles but I still had to carry the thing and deal with the headphones. Never again!

I got home and did one more mile on the treadmill but by this point I was really frustrated and kind of hungry so I gave up for the day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tuesday Run - 4 miles

I took off Sunday and Monday. I'd planned to walk on Sunday but I wound up building bookshelves instead and decided it would be smarter for me to finish some chores than leave for a 10 mile walk. I need to start doing back to back high miles but I guess it will have to wait one more week.

Monday, I have no real excuse for skipping -- just lazy.

Tuesday I was actually looking forward to the run. I was hoping to do it outside but the heat index (according to the radio) was 110 degrees so back to the treadmill for me.

I was hoping to stay on for 40-45 minutes but was uncomfortable and bored pretty quickly (what a surprise!) The first 20 minutes were fine -- nothing special. I decided just to hang on until 3 miles and then call it a day. That was the plan but when I hit three miles and was walking to cool down I had a surge of energy and remembered a conversation I had with Brian about running a 10 minute mile. He thinks it would be easy for him to do it and I scoffed and said no way. I was curious if I could run a 10 minute mile so I walked until I hit the 3.25 mark and then put the Foo Fighters on the iPod and started running at 6.0

It was pretty fun! It's amazing how much faster that feels than the speeds I normally run! Anyway, I didn't stick it out for a whole mile -- just a half -- but it was a nice end to the workout and I think I might incorporate this kind of thing into training. Maybe next time I will try to run a full mile -- I think I could if I wasn't already tired/burned out from the first 3 miles of the workout.

Anyway, with the extra fast half, my warm up walk and the cooldown periods I covered just over 4 miles.

10 miles on Saturday

Wow. I'm really being a lazy slacker with this blog.

Saturday morning I met the Philly Fit crew for a 10 mile run. I was a little worried since I haven't done a long run in several weeks. Luckily, the weather was pretty nice, much less humid than usual, so things were looking good. There was a fairly small crowd today and I found that there were even fewer people than usual who ran at my pace. I did manage to hook up with a buddy just before mile 2 and we ran together for most of the day.

The first two miles [out and back on the Perkiomen towards VF] were good -- nice and easy. Things started getting a little tougher at mile 3 where we hit the gravel and the slighly rolling hills. They don't last long though and the next few miles weren't bad either. The rocky path and the shade make for a nice run, I think. Less pounding than the paved trail and a lot less hot. The last mile before the turnaround was a little hard but I think that was mostly because we saw the people heading back. Somewhere between mile 5 and 6 I had my first Accel Gel. YUM! It was chocolate flavor, which I normally don't like, but this was surprisingly tasty. It was thin with an oddly gritty consistency but I kind of liked that.... it was a little less slimy than Gu because of the grit. Anyway, it was a new thing because it has protein and carbs in it. I'd give it thumbs up.

The return trip didn't go as well as the first half of the run. My partner was having trouble both aerobicly and with her knee and we took a lot more walk breaks than earlier in the day. Eventually it got to a point where I think we walked at least a half mile and maybe more. That's when she just let me go ahead of her and told me not to feel guilty. I did this, just over a mile from the finish, and I it was really difficult to run at that point. All the walking had my brain checked out of running mode so I really struggled that last mile and I'm sure it was more mental than physical.

All in all a pretty good day. My legs felt fine -- I was slightly worried about my IT band at about mile 6 but nothing came of it. I didn't even need ice or Advil.

Time: 2:04. I would have liked to have been faster but ten miles is ten miles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Surprise 5K aka Phil's Tavern 5K

I decided to skip my treadmill run to go a small 5K near my office.

It was a good decision I think. The humidity had finally broken and it was a pretty nice night.

The 5K course was mostly shaded and mostly flat. It went through a neighborhood where there were a suprising number of spectators and a couple of kids manning homemade water stops. There was one main waterstop which was at an ideal spot since we passed it three times during the race. They even had a kid with a sprinkler hose wetting folks who needed to cool down. That was probably not necessary last night but any other day this week it would have been crucial.

I finished OK -- 33:05 by my watch -- and I didn't walk at all except for when I was drinking water. I thought about walking a lot but the way the course was designed I kept finding a new landmark to run towards so I never totally threw in the towel. I started at the back of the pack and steadily passed people through the whole race. I'm sure I still came in in bottom 20 people but I did about as well as I could.

Tonight I should be back on the treadmill.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

40 minute run

I did a 40 minute run after work yesterday and it went well.

I tried out my new Gel-Nimbus shoes (the bargain pair I got that are one generation older than my new shoes) and they felt pretty good.

It's funny how the first 20 minutes or so go by without much difficulty but then it becomes so hard for me to think about anything except staring at the clock and waiting to get off the treadmill. Sure, my body is complaining a little bit -- I get hotter, slightly more uncomfortable, but really it's not that much of a problem. It's my brain that just can't hack it. Those last 20 minutes were like torture.

Music helps, for sure. I wouldn't have made it through the last 5 minutes if "Lose Yourself" had not come on the iPod. The song is 5:18 (I think) and I just just over 4 minutes left to go. I wanted to wimp out but that song helped me power through the last few minutes. I don't even love that song but somehow it puts me into a zone that I can just disappear into and then all the sudden we were at 40 minutes and I was allowed to stop.

Tonight the schedule calls for "speed work". I'm not sure if I'm going to do that or just run normally. Probably normally.

Total miles: 3.55 in 40 minutes
Best song: Everlasting Love (Gloria Estefan) mostly because it was driving Brian crazy which made me laugh.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Rough Weekend

Wow. What a weekend.

Good news: I finally picked up my wedding pictures, I finished the new Harry Potter book, and the new season of Battlestar Galactica started.

Bad news: it was hot and humid and my running efforts were feeble to non-existent.

I decided to sleep in on Saturday morning and skip the Philly Fit group run on Saturday morning. It was at a new location, slightly farther away, and I was too much of a bum to set the alarm for 5:45. I got up around 8:30 and hit the trail for my solo run about 10am. By this time it was about 80 and some crazy percent humidity. Over 75%. It was brutal. I ran the first mile and a half and though I might die from it. Once I walked it was nearly impossible to make myself run again. I forced myself to complete 4 miles but it may have been the hardest 4 miles I have ever done. It took forever and completely wiped me out. I had great intentions of coming home and doing some miles on the treadmill but housework and Harry Potter got in the way and I didn't do anything.

Sunday morning I met my friend Lisa for a walk at 8 am. It was raining and hot and humid but luckily the rain stopped within the first 10 minutes of the walk. We did a pretty good pace and it was fun to walk. I haven't walked in ages and it felt god. Hot, and sticky and gross but nothing like Saturday. I don't know if there was a difference in the weather or if it was just the running/walking difference but I felt a lot better on Sunday. Amazingly, the walk gave me some sore muscles! Sore in a good way though. I think it's funny that I never have sore muscles from running and I got them from my normal sport, walking.

Tonight my schedule say 40 to 45 minutes at an easy pace. There are heat warnings in effect and it's high humidity again so I think this will be on the treadmill. I hope I can make myself stick it out!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Project Implicit

I was watching an episode of Alan Alda's Scientific American Frontiers the other day and it was all about hidden motives. [If you've never watched it, this is a great little PBS show where they study all kinds of cool things like "cool vs uncool" and "what faces are attractive" and stuff like that. Alan Alda is usually the guniea pig who gets into an MRI machine and looks at stuff and then gets his brain waves interpreted. It's cool if you are a science geek.]

Anyway, this episode was about hidden motives and he was at Harvard with experts who are studying implicit bias in people. They take a series of tests using a computer test where you sort keywords and your reaction time to the sorting indicates your hidden bias. The examples on the show were serious topics like gender and race. It was fascinating. Anyway, they mentioned that you can go to the Project Implicit website and participate in the research project yourself. Of course, I went right away to be a research subject.

Guess what they evaluated me on?

Kobe vs. Shaq

How hilarious! It says they have about 100 pairs of things that they test and you get a pair randomly assigned for your test. (You can take many tests but I've only done one so far.)

As it turns out, I have a strong implicit preference for Shaq over Kobe.

It was fun -- you should go check it out.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Treadmill 5K - 35:00

Nothing particularly eventful today. The run went OK. I spent half the time dying to get off the treadmill but that was mostly because it was hot and not because my legs/lungs were hurting.

I probably should have stuck it out for 40 or 45 minutes but I am a wimp so I gave up and made dinner instead. I'm really looking forward to Saturday morning's run so I can do some long miles and see how that feels.

I think I'm going to have two pretty solid days: 9 miles on Saturday and then between 8 and 10 on Sunday with Lisa and Char. I'm going to really hate the Sunday miles because I'd much rather be home reading the new Harry Potter book. I can't believe how excited I am to get the book!

The Philly Fit coach said that they are going to start doing Tuesday evening "speed work" as a group. I guess that's good but I am sort of dreading it. Hopefully the meeting spot will be easy for me to get to so that I can at least try it out before returning to my dull treadmill workouts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I'm back from St. Croix!

I got back from my awesome trip to St. Croix on Sunday. I didn't do one bit of real exercise while I was there. Mostly I just sat on a beach chair, under a palm tree and watched the waves roll in. Every so often I'd snorkel a little bit or walk up the hill to my room but for the most part I just laid around. It was great.

Monday it didn't even occur to me that I should be running after work. Today I realized that I hadn't run in over a week and knew that if I didn't work out today I was in real danger of never working out again during the week. I had to get back on track. I was pretty worried that I'd have lost a lot of ground with the week off but I actually think it did me good!

I only ran for a half hour but it went fine -- I actually enjoyed it! Who would have thought? I managed to cover 2.75 in the half hour, which is a little faster than my usual pace so I was quite pleased. I'm sure the schedule called for more time and distance or hills or something like that but I was just glad to get some miles on my feet.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Saturday Run - 7-8 miles?

The run today went great! The humidity broke and it wasn't too hot. We ran out the Betzwood Trail then on the road and then back to the parking lot via the river trail we took last week. It was nice because the 2nd half of the run was in shade.

I didn't follow the walk/run intervals but tried to just keep slugging along without stopping except to take drinks. This worked out well and while I stopped a little more towards the end of things I ran a whole lot more than I did last weekend.

I timed myself from the start of Betzwood to the end of the river trail. My estimate is that equals about 6.5 miles. Time: 1:13:44

I also ran both ways up the hill and over the bridge so I think I did close to but not quite 8 miles.

Tomorrow I leave for St. Croix. I still don't know if I'm bringing my running shoes with me!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

35 minutes running - 3.1 miles

This turned out to be a pretty good run!

I didn't try to go too fast. (Do I ever?) I just kept steady and every so often I'd bump the pace if the music dictated it. My goal for this session was to run a 5K without taking any walk breaks. I've done this in the past but not recently and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and that I didn't have to depend on the intervals.

I am very slightly concerned about some discomfort I have in my left calf. It's just a little bit sore and I notice it mostly at work when I'm crouched down digging into file cabinets. I think it's probably related to the shoes I've been wearing (not running shoes, regular people shoes). It doesn't hurt at all when I run and I'm hoping that doesn't change.

Final time: 35:13 5K
Best song: Bright Side of the Road - Van Morrison

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I'm putting this here just so I don't forget when it happened.

I think I had an ocular migraine today. Or perhaps a migraine with aura.

I was trying to read a magazine while I was eating breakfast after my run and I noticed that some of the words were a little blurry. I thought at first that my glasses were cruddy (they were, but cleaning them didn't solve the problem). Then I thought maybe something was in my eye. Nope. Looking around the room I didn't seem to have a big vision problem. Maybe some slight fuzzy spots but when I tried to read there was no question that something was wrong.

I closed my eyes and I could see in my right eye a bright zig-zaggy design like a backwards C. It was almost like the bright flash you get after somebody takes your picture only this wasn't a round spot and it was more yellow and white and shaped like a vibratey zig-zag.

I felt perfectly fine, although now I was worried that I was starting to go blind, and I finished my breakfast and drove to work. By the time I got to the office, it was gone.

I felt fine at first but after I was here for a bit I developed a headache that was cured by a single Motrin. I don't know if the headache was from the weirdo eye thing or from the fact that I didn't have my normal cup of coffee on the drive in. (I was too hot to want to drink a hot drink.) I did have a diet Coke on the way to work so there was some caffeine in my system.

When I got to work I started to comb the internet and looked up stuff about eyes and exercise and ultimately found pages like this one with a picture that was surprisingly similar to what was going on in my right eye today. My zig zag faced the other direction and wasn't quite that colorful but the zig zag semi-circle was right on.

I read more here and learned that that crazy vision thing can be caused by the eyes or by the brain and that usually if it's the retina the zig zag goes away when you cover your eye. Not so with me, so I think my brain was responsible.

The stuff I found online said this could happen once in a lifetime or frequently so for now I guess I'm just going to wait and see.

Memory Problem

I know I got up and ran today but I think I must have been 90% asleep while I was doing it because the whole morning is pretty much a blur.

I know I walked for the first 4 minutes because I felt really stiff when I got out of bed -- after that it was completely uneventful. I was holding the iPod and using headphones because Brian was still trying to sleep and that meant that I had to stop after 20 minutes so I could take a drink. (My iPod stops working if I clip it to my waistband so I had to slow down and rest it on the console to take a drink.) I couldn't tell you what any of the music was though -- it was completely uninspiring.

I did 30 minutes of running after the 4 minute walk and that was that. I was slow -- 3 miles total.

It was hot and even after taking a shower I couldn't seem to dry off. I was standing in front of the fan trying to get dry so I could put on some clothes. Gross. I just checked the weather channel and the humidity is 84%.

I can't wait until vacation.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bad decisions!

I decided not to run on Monday while I was still working at the triathlon on Sunday. My legs were so stiff from standing all that time I decided that they deserved a nice day off on Monday, especially since I wanted to sleep as late as I could. I was planning on meeting my sister from Virginia for dinner after work so any running would have to be in the morning and I thought that rest for the legs and the brain would be a good thing.

Today, I should have hopped out of bed and run for at least a half hour and maybe 45 minutes. Instead I got up kind of early and then ate a slow breakfast and watched the episode of Hell's Kitchen that I taped last night. Watching that stupid show got me to work later than usual and I can't run tonight because we're going to the book club meeting to meet the Freakonomics guy.

I'm not skipping the meeting and I'm not about to get on the treadmill at 9:00 at night, so that means I MUST run tomorrow and Thursday. No excuses. I can make the Saturday run with the group but then I leave on vacation and while I do plan on bring my running shoes and trying to fit in some running I can't really expect to do much other than loaf around and swim.

Today was just a bad decision made out of sheer laziness. I really can't afford to do that if I want to get better at running. I'm not sorry that I skipped Monday but today was just lame.

Wow! What an amazing day!

Sunday was the first ever City of Philadelphia Triathlon. It was an Olympic length event with about 1400 athletes participating and it was my first time as a volunteer and to see a triathlon in person.

It was awesome! It was an incredibly long day but I can't wait to volunteer again. We got down to the race at 4:30 in the morning, about a half hour before the transition area opened. It was still dark as they led those of us who came early to our posts for the day. I hated getting out of bed at that crazy hour but it was totally worth it because we got really cool jobs! We were working on the course at the end of the bike leg where the athletes had to dismount their bikes to get back into the transition area. At first there were three of us at this spot. Me, my sister and this other guy who had also never worked at a triathlon.

Our job was to do a few things:
  • Keep the crosswalks & streets clear so spectators didn't get in the way of the athletes running their bikes into transition
  • Warn them to slow down and dismount their bikes by a certain line marked on the course. If they weren't off the bike by that point they could face a 4:00 penalty!

We really had no idea how to effectively perform these duties but by the end of the day, and with a little help from a USA Triathlon marshall, we got the hang of it. Mostly it meant we had to wave orange flags around while screaming variations of "OFF THE BIKE" and "DISMOUNT LINE! DISMOUNT LINE" over and over again for about 3 hours. Luckily as the day progressed we got more and more helpers so the job got less overwhelming.

The bottom line was that we were in a pretty chaotic spot, filled with action. I mean, they were hopping off their bikes mere inches from me. One poor guy crashed and got buried under his bike right there at my feet. It was nuts. Plus, watching what they do -- yanking their feet out of their clips and slowing the bike down with bare feet or running in their bare feet. It's painful just watching it! They're a little bit crazy, no question about it.

This was probably where the most spectators were besides the finish area, and it was noisy and busy and just completely awesome! We got to see every person go by and when the last guy came through on his bike we took off and watched them on the run course. The day was hot -- especially on the run where the last few miles were in full sun -- so these folks were beat and it was fun trying to give them even a tiny boost to help them get to the finish line. I can't even imagine how they must have felt. We were tired and sore and stiff from standing and yelling for eight hours so I can't imagine how drained they must have been at this point in the day.

I've been combing the internet to see reactions to the race and I haven't seen anything negative yet! Everybody seemed to love the course and they found it to be well run. I suppose all the other volunteers figured out how to do their jobs by the end of the day just like we did.

One other exciting thing was spotting (and briefly talking to) Clinton from TLC's "What Not to Wear"! I have to say, he was not impeccably dressed like he is on TV. I don't think that he would have survived a session in the 3-way mirror in the getup he had on.

Other fun notes:

I spotted an old co-worker who was watching his friends in the race. I haven't seen him in 10 years so it was fun to catch up with him.

I recognized one of the athletes as a kid I went to high school with and haven't seen in nearly 20 years. I had a clue about him because his last name was printed on his T-shirt but I still didn't make the connection until he smiled at us clapping on the sideline and his face transformed right back to the 13 year old I used to know.

We also spotted the woman we met at the MORE marathon and cheered her into the finish area. She's pretty amazing and we remembered that she was worried about making the cutoff but she did it. She couldn't believe that we remembered her and kept an eye out for her in the race.

The whole day was just really fun. Almost as much fun as being in a race myself!

I also observed that to a person, the triathletes were very nice. The ones we talked to were all pleasant, had great things to say about the race, and were very grateful to us for being volunteers. Plus there were a few folks who hung around to watch & cheer along the final finishers and I thought that was great too.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Long Run - 7 miles?

Philly Fit met today for a trail run. It was neat to run along the river on the gravel trail but at times it was a little tricky because the terrain was pretty uneven. I didn't have any trouble though other than getting filthy dirty and getting some tiny pebbles in my shoe that made the last mile or so pesky.

I only timed the portion of the run on the gravel river trail -- nobody seems to know for sure what the distance of the trail is (I have to go to VF website and do some research) but consensus was 6 miles round trip. My time: 1:08:56. That's an 11:29 pace. I can't seem to get away from that. I did the 4/1 interval. I am still really conflicted about that. It really seems like cheating to me but I can see that it works. I feel great post run, pretty good during the run, and I passed a bunch of people who had started before me. It seems to be working. Maybe I just need to try a different (longer?) interval.

We also ran from the visitor center parking lot, across the river bridge and to the trail. My guess is that this is a mile or maybe even a little more than that. On the way back, I walked the first half and ran middle and walked the end. I guess my total for the day was somewhere between 7 and 8 miles.

I went shoe shopping after the run. I need to get another pair of shoes and maybe two because I'll be putting in so many miles for the runs and for the 3-Day. I was feeling a little thrifty so I didn't want to buy a new pair just yet but when I discovered a pair of Gel-Nimbus VI (the previous model of my current shoe) I snapped it up for the bargain price (ha ha ha) of $99. I read online that the only real difference between them is a narrower toe box on the VI than in the VII so I went for it. The best part is that they are pink. Love 'em!

I think that between these two and the supernovas I'll be good for the halfs and the 3-Day and then I can get a new pair for Philadelphia Marathon if I need them. I'm not 100% I'll be wearing the Supernovas at all for the 3-day though, so I may need another pair yet.

Tomorrow is the Philadelphia Triathlon and I'm volunteering to help. I have to be there at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am but it should be a fun day. I'm a little worried about the athletes though -- it's going to be a really hot, humid day. Not ideal for racing.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Running Alone is hard

I decided to go to the park tonight to run because it was such a nice night. Overall, I think this was a good idea but the run was kind of difficult. I am not good at running alone. I have no ability to judge my pace and I tend to run too fast and then suffer for it. Last night was really no different than my other experiences.

I stared out with a plan to run 5/1 intervals. That was OK and I did fine with this for the first mile. I was running a little fast though and had some stiffness in my shins that threw me off a little even though it was gone by the time I hit the 1.5 mark. At 1.5 I walked 2 minutes instead of 1 because I was wrestling with my water bottle that I kind of hate.

I decided that to switch to 4/1 intervals for the second half of the run because it's easier to do the math that way. I know that sounds stupid but for me it's much simpler to do. I felt OK though all of this but I knew that I was going faster than I should during the run portion and then walking too slowly during the walk breaks. It was kind of a disaster although I think I managed to keep the same pace I normally run on the treadmill so I guess it was OK. I covered 3.5 miles in the official 40 minute required session. (Pace: 11:26)

I still had to get back to the car so I kept up the running intervals although I didn't really time them from this point I just winged it and pushed to get in an even 4 miles before heading home. I got to mile 4 in 45:44. (Pace: 11:26 -- how's that for consistent!)

Overall I guess I did OK but I'm not really loving the intervals. I mean, it's easier than running the whole time, and less intimidating, but I'm not sure that it's really what I want to do. I think I'm this method as a way to make it easier when I should be pushing myself to learn how to do this running thing the right way. Still, I think it's my only option at this point. I think I need to accept that I'll be doing this or something like it in my races this year and hope that maybe my next efforts can be with sustained running. I have to remember that this is all new to me still and I have to adjust to it.

The good news is that what I'm doing is clearly the right thing as far as my body is concerned. I've had virtually no pain from anything and usually by now I'd be having some kind of IT band issue and that's been held off so far. Even earlier this spring when I ran the same route I tried last night I had to cut it short after about a mile because my knee was killing me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Hills

I've been to Valley Forge Park more times than I can count. I've walked the loop more times than I can count. I've even run part of the loop a handful of times. I know there are hills but they never killed me in quite the way they did last night.

I met Brian at the park and we hit the trail. I had forgotten my watch so I was depending on him to keep track of the 45 minutes of running I need to do. We warmed up by walk the first half mile or so and then we took off on the real workout part. He was doing his super fast walk and I was running with him. The first mile, maybe even mile and a half went fine but after that it was rough! I'm not sure if it was the hills themselves or if I was running too fast or if it was just a mental thing but I had a hard time keeping up any sustained running.

I tried, but it killed me, and Brian quickly pulled ahead of me and stayed there for the middle mile or so before I managed to catch up with him again. At the end of the second mile, which contained quite a few big hills, I swore I was going to stop at the top of the next hill and walk back to the car. Luckily, Brian was there to keep me from giving up and he told me I only had about 11 more minutes to go to hit 45. So I pressed on, running and walking kind of randomly until I hit the 4.0 marker on the trail. At that point, he told me that I could stop and I calculated that I'd covered about 3.5 miles in the 45 minutes. That's not great, but it makes sense considering that I had done 3.75 at home last week on the treadmill with way easier hills.

We walked together back to the car so the total miles for the day was the full loop: 5.5 miles.

I still can't believe how much harder it was than going on flat ground. I felt far worse than I did after six miles on Saturday. I'm really curious to see how the next run goes. I also think that I want to keep coming back to VF on Tuesdays to see how I progress on this trail. I know I can't get any worse (I walked a lot and not fast!).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Walk - 4 miles

This was totally uneventful. We just went for a stroll in the park. I only had 4 miles on the 3-Day schedule and that's all I did. My legs were surprisingly tired so I wasn't in the mood to push myself and Brian wasn't either, which is strange for him.

Monday has 35 minutes easy running. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Philly Fit - 6 miles 1:09:10

I got up early and arrived at the PhillyFit meeting place a half hour before the scheduled meeting. There were a handful of red team members there because last week our Coach told us to meet him early and he'd head out with us. Unfortunately, this didn't actually happen this week so I got up early for nothing. Very pesky.

When we headed out on the run I got elected to be in charge of timing our run/walk intervals. I think this was because I'd been out early with the Coach last week and because I might have been the only person with a watch. Anyway, we started out with a plan of doing 4/1 run to walk intervals and planned to make the intervals longer as we warmed up.

This soon proved to be a poorly executed plan. The small group I was timing was quickly revealed as having different levels of comfort with running at the pace I set. (I have no idea what that pace actually was.) Soon, there were three of us running together and 2 others far behind. I was having a really hard time communicating the plan to everybody and while I like helping people who are struggling I was pretty annoyed that I had to be dealing with this dilemma. I am not a coach right now and I wanted to concentrate on doing my own thing and not cow-towing to the stragglers. (I have no beef with the slower runners, by the way. My beef is with the coach and his assistants. One of them should have been with us in the back of the pack.) Anyway, at some point maybe about a mile into the run, the coach gathered us up together and made the three of us who were faster wait for the slower runners. I'm not quite sure why. We also picked up my sister at this point.

We continued running at the 4/1 interval until the turn around spot. By this time, one of us had broken out and was a little faster. One of us had developed a painful IT band and decided to walk and one of us had decided to slow the pace during the run segments. The other two slower folks were nowhere to be found. The result of this was that I ran the whole 2nd half of the long run by myself. I'm not sure if this is good or bad.

I kept up the 4/1 ratio because my brain was working pretty well with that and I didn't want to monkey with the plan. Over the 2nd half I caught the IT band walker, and the girl who had pulled ahead. I actually passed her and the people she'd been running with who had started out ahead of us at the beginning of the run. By the time I hit the six mile mark I was just seconds behind one of the coaches and another runner who I hadn't seen since we'd started the run.

My final time was 1:09:10 and I thought that was pretty good considering that I stopped all together for a minute or two to wait for people and didn't run as fast as I could for parts of this. That's an 11:31 pace and that's just about what I run all the time on the treadmill. I didn't struggle at all on the run except for a few minutes about a mile from the finish when I got a hint of a side stitch. I walked about a minute earlier than the watch suggested, breathed and took a drink and I then started up again without trouble.

My legs felt great the whole time and the next day too, so I'm happy. I don't want this timing job next week. I want to do my own thing and improve. I don't want to be responsible for the other runners. Maybe that makes me a jerk but I'm not in this to worry about them. I mean, I want to be nice, and encouraging and everything, and I'll still try to do that, I just don't want it to have a negative effect on my own progress.

We got snazzy PhillyFit t-shirts and Lance Armstrong type wrist bands that say "change your life". They're ugly grey but a cool idea.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Official Race Times

I'm having a slow day so I thought I'd post my official race times here for posterity. I only listed my chip times.


  • Bermuda Walking Marathon 2002 6:51:10
  • Rock'N'Roll Marathon San Diego 2003 5:58:00
  • Disney Marathon 2004 6:01:01
  • Disney Marathon 2005 6:06:03


  • Philadelphia Distance Run 2002 2:58:02
  • Rock'N'Roll 1/2 Marathon VA Beach 2003 3:05:15
  • Rock'N'Roll 1/2 Marathon VA Beach 2004 2:53:52
  • MORE 1/2 Marathon 2:49:11


  • Jingle Bell Run 2002 39:33
  • Run with Aimee 2003 32:32
  • Jingle Bell Run 2003 38:44
  • Collegeville 5K 2005 35:51
  • Teal Ribbon 5K 33:17

It's interesting to note that my half-marathons have gotten better every time (with the exception of Rock'N'Roll 2003 when I literally only walked over 5 miles once between the marathon on Memorial Day Weekend and the half marathon on Labor Day Weekend) but my full marathons have gotten worse every time after the huge leap from Bermuda to San Diego. I wonder why that is?

The 5Ks are kind of a mish-mash of walking and running so there's not a whole lot to compare there but the last two I did were running and I improved there, so that's good.

Treadmill 5K

Last night after work I hit the treadmill for the "tempo" run. I really have no idea what that even means. The coach told us to run out 10K pace or comfortably hard. I run every workout comfortably hard so this wasn't such a big help to me.

I wound up running a little faster than usual and then stopped and walked for a minute or so when Brian came home and then finished out the time at about my normal pace with a few minutes of faster thrown in for good measure.

When it was time to stop I saw that I was very close to the 3 mile mark so I decided to keep going until I hit the 5K point and then cool down. I think I made this decision mostly because the Foo Fighters came up on the iPod and it was my favorite running song so I wanted to keep going.

I was giving myself some brownie points for going a couple extra minutes but today when I look at the master schedule I see I was supposed to be running for 35 minutes not just 30 so the Foo Fighters kept me honest!

Anyway, the 3.1 was done in about 35:40 and while that's not fast, it does include 2 minutes of warmup and a couple minutes walking while I talked to Brian so I don't think it's so bad. I'd be happier without the break in the middle but I know I'll be walking here and there during my actual race so what's the big deal about doing it during training?

The run was good except for slightly tired legs. I think that's because I didn't eat anything in the car on my way home from the office like I usually do when I'm planning on running. My only ache is in my right big toe. How odd is that? I've had this toe bug me in the past where it just feels like it needs a good crack or something. Yesterday it was totally bugging me even before I ran. Didn't bug me during the run but after the run I would say that while it didn't actually HURT, I was more aware of my big toe and it's joint than I normally am. Talk about a lame "injury".

Today is a day off and Philly Fit tomorrow morning. We're doing 6 miles again and this time I'm going to make sure I actually time the run.

Best Song of the Day is a tie!

Original Winner: Looking Good and Feeling Gorgeous - RuPaul (I got this from somebody else's running iMix on iTunes.)
Second Winner: All my Life - Foo Fighters

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What exactly is a hill?

Shockingly, I did manage a workout last night!

I got home from work, set up the fan to blow right on the treadmill, and hopped on for my hill workout. The schedule called for 45 minutes but I didn't have quite that much time between when I got started and when I had to run out to pick up Brian (his car is still dead).

I was planning on using a pre-programmed hill workout on my treadmill or the Pete the Trainer hill workout but ran into trouble when the treadmill program was too slow and Pete's was too long and fast. I decided to set off on my own and just kind of wing it.

I ran the first five minutes then kept the same pace but started upping the incline every minute for the next 5 minutes. Then I put it back to it's normal setting of 1.5 for another five minutes. I think that got me up to an incline of 4 before I went back down. I found when I got back to the flat setting I wanted to go a little faster so I upped the speed every now and then. I did this little routine twice and that took me to the 20 minute mark when I decided to walk for a couple minutes to dry off and drink some water. I started running again and did another 20 minute set although the second set was probably flatter and faster than the first set but I did throw in some hills but never up to 4.0 again. By the time I hit the 40 minutes I realized I had to slow down and cool off before jumping in the car to get Brian so I walked the last 2 or 3 minutes until I got to 3.75 miles and then I quit. I think the time was 43:36 or something when I stopped.

I'm satisfied with the whole thing. It felt good and I know I could have done the whole 45 if I didn't have a time constraint and I didn't over do it. I'm happy with it since that makes four days in a row of decent exercise and that's pretty remarkable for me.

I am very curious about what a good incline setting is for simulated hill work and if I really was wimpy with my chosen settings.

Best Song of the Run: I've Done Everything For You - Rick Springfield