Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why You So Juneathon?

1 Month until the Philly Olympic Triathlon.
Got in a brick workout this morning.

I'm expecting this will be my most confident and enjoyable triathlon yet.
I'm gonna push hard and want to FINALLY break 2:30.
I think my PR is 2:34, something nice like that.

However, my running is SLOW this year!
That's the effect of trying to burn 10min/mi pace into my legs' memory.
Hopefully a few targeted speedwork sessions, about 2 weeks out, will wake them up.
Pretty sure my run needs to be sub-7:30min/mi over the 10K. We'll see.

This afternoon I had to hand out pool tags to the people on my street.
Our neighborhood pool opens this weekend! I hope it's cold!

Problem with pool tag distribution is that it puts you in a position where you may need to TALK to your neighbors.
It's always preferable if you can avoid some of the neighbors:
  • Crazy Cat Lady
  • Lady that likes to date sex offenders
  • Lady that's addicted to pain killers
Luckily, I avoided all of THEM.

I did not avoid my next-door neighbor. He answered the door looking like a cracked-out Charlie Sheen.
Great guy, but.
I just wanted that conversation to end. And next time, maybe I won't knock.
I'll just leave the stuff outside the door.

And then I got stuck talking to one of our newest neighbors.
After she ignored me during initial attempts to say, "Hi," I decided she'd be just fine as a head-nod acknowledged neighbor.
She reinforced that relationship by becoming the 4th consecutive occupant of the house that does not weed their landscaping.

But today, she really wanted to talk. Like walk out and shut the door behind her to talk.
I'm not the best social person and she removed any shred of comfort.

Asked me a dozen questions about the pool.
Her: "....and how many guests can you bring?"
Me: "Here's your pool tags."
Her: "...can my daughter invite 10 friends?"
Me: "Um, here's a pool information packet, you can read it at your leisure."

Her: More questions about guests. Doubting my answers based upon experience.

Me: "Um. I've lived here for about 7 years. And I've been playing in this neighborhood for about 25."
Her: "Playing?"
Me: "I believe that's what kids do."
Her: "But you're not a kid."
Me: "I'm not really interested in calculating the exact range of years that were spent playing. It's easier to just lump it into one statement."

When do kids stop playing anyway?
Like, 12 or 13?
I think it was 18 for me. Probably because of video games.

Hell, and I do still enjoy a solid game of Duck Duck Goose.

The nice thing about our neighborhood pool. Nobody uses it.
But, WE do! It's like a private pool that 150 other families pay to maintain. :-)

But, none of that has anything to do with Juneathon.

Juneathon is the warm weather, older sibling of Janathon.

It is a worldwide competition. The entire month of June.
Exercise every day. Blog about it every day. And record your workouts in an online training system.

The primary competition is won by the people that run everyday, and run the most total miles.
But, you don't want to win THAT competition (the people running 150-mile weeks make it difficult).

The REAL competition is against yourself.
Holding you accountable. Keeping extra eyes on your training.

Janathon was a ton of fun.
January is a tough month to run everyday.
June can't be much easier but for completely different weather reasons.

So go ahead. Check it out.
It's fun. It's hosted in England. You'll get to see weird new words and phrases.
Like "full stop" means "period."

Juneathon begins June 1st, but if you're interested, get setup today.
It takes just a few seconds to register for the competition.
It takes a few minutes, however, to sign up for the online training system: RunningFreeOnline.
So, best to take care of that stuff early.

Less than 1 month until the Liberty Island Swim!

Bummed out by this:

I rarely reward myself after a race.
But, I had planned to buy this very ice cream as a post-race award.
Imagine my dismay when I learned today that we already own, and are eating, some. Oh well.

And then there's also the small matter of.

I have almost zero stress in my life.
Life could always be worse. That's all you need to know.

But, there are a few very specific triggers.
I encountered one tonight. A new addition to the collection of junk in the basement:

I love Christmas.
I do not love junk. But, here we are with more junk in the house.

And while this little guy will serve us very well on Dec. 25th, the remaining 364.25 days of the year, it will elevate my blood pressure.

I'll finish by saying that tomorrow is bittersweet.
I'm gonna be playing grown-up all day, so I won't get to see my family.
I WILL get to sing my heart out at a concert, though, to end the night.

That will be among a big crowd.
And so it won't be a repeat of my American Idols fails!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why I Suck

Started the day off dealing with a drunk driver.
Who DUI's at 6:30AM?

As much as I enjoy the occasional bad driver, this morning's situation was different.
That's because I felt this kid (between ages of 16 and 30) was gonna cause an accident.
Call 911 right in front of the State Police barracks. Ya think that would've worked.

I should point out however, that you can confidently do it.
Try your best to get make/model and license plate.
Try your best to know where you are, what road, what direction, near what landmark.
Call them up. 911 means business, they get you through quickly. Might save a life.

Back to the situation. Confront the kid at 2 traffic lights.
1. "Hi, and thanks for rolling down your window. I called 911 and reported you for driving while intoxicated. The police will be pulling you over soon." He drives away rather rapidly.
2. "Hi again. You should probably just pull over." Repeat fast getaway.

Then he turns on a sidestreet, I'll hope close to his destination.
Of course he was following a GPS, too. Competition for the text-while-driving teens.

But this isn't about some schmuck that narrowly avoided catastrophe.
This is about a schmuck that is consistently failing to do the right things to reach his athletic goals.
Schmuck = Me.

And that was my thought after I left the gym this morning.
Way before I got this email as I walked out of work in the PM.

From: RunKeeper (GPS running app on my Droid)
Subject: Need a little motivaion?
Relevant Body: "You set a clear goal for yourself to run 120 miles in 24 hours, but you haven't used RunKeeper to log any activities lately. Need a little help staying on track?"

Oh. Did I type that goal?
When was that, like January?

Am I doing what I need to do to hit those numbers?
Am I supposed to be publicly sharing that stretch of a goal?

But, RunKeeper only has it half right (I don't need to report my running to him first of all).
But though he's half right, it's the half I always struggle with.

I know what I need to do.
I know how to stay on track.

It's easier to just sabotage the track.

Exiting the pool this morning.
"Hey Mike, that's more strokes than I've ever seen you try. Ever." - Fellow swimmer
Wow, good feedback.
Except it was only 3 strokes (free, back, breast).
And he was right.

This despite the overwhelming obviousity that you need multiple strokes to properly develop your arms.
And THAT is despite the fact that I'm only gonna freestyle in a race.

Good day for it though.
Now I will commit to mixing up the swim strokes. Become better. Stronger.
So easy, but even easier to this point to ignore it.

So then running.
And training in general.

No training Plan this Year.
No thanks. So very helpful. Til you get derailed.
Then you stare at the numbers on your spreadsheet as they slip by. Not for me this year!

All I have are milestones. Hit these numbers kind of milestones.

But I am not doing the things I need to do if I want to train for 120in24.
Which BTW is not my I-actually-wanna-do-this-goal.
I just want to be in shape for it (c'mon, it's just 5mi/hr, 12min/mi pace) so that the 100 miles in 24 hours that I REALLY want to hit feels that much more approachable.

Things I should be doing but do not:

  • Just eat well. 
    • I can lock down my diet 2 weeks before a race. But 2 months before? "Oh, yeah, I'll start eating better tomorrow." Define tomorrow. Because it's always gonna be the next day.
  • Core. 
    • The core is just straight ignored.
  • Run everyday. 
    • Gonna start that again tomorrow. Just didn't want to lose sleep (like writing this blog...)
  • Prepare and test strategies. 
    • Everything from fuel to gear to crew to race day logistics. I can, without a speck of guilt, just wait until the night before to firm up those plans.
See how easy that stuff is?

Why do I suck?
Because I let that easy stuff pour into a well of excuses.

And actually, ya know even though it's 11:30 on the PM, I'm gonna step out for a bit and squeeze in that daily run. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Social Notworking

Over the past year, I have learned a few important lessons, all of which have stuck with me.
Here they are.

Lesson #1
Do Not Ignore the Symptoms of a Stroke

Exactly one year ago, I had a mini stroke, TIA, call it what you will.
And I nearly ignored it.

That is despite working in a hospital with this magnet on the fridge in our departmental kitchen:

Oh and we have similar signs about every 20 feet as you walk down the hallways.

First my hand went numb.
Then my arm went numb.
Then I passed out.

I even had the wherewithal to send a few cry-for-help instant messages.
And then I passed out. Nice!

I found that instant message log saved on my Desktop recently. I saw the file and said, "What in the hell is "HowToPassOutAtWork.html?" That answers that.

Yet despite these trademark signs of a stroke, I remained hardheaded.

Thankfully, I was influenced enough to consider medical care and then my wife convinced me to go to the ER.
Worked out fine!

And while my mini stroke was caused by a blood clot in the brain which is pretty rare, it may be helpful to also recognize the common symptoms of blood clots in general.
Athletes can be prone, particularly the anecdote that post-marathon flights can lead to DVT's in your legs.

Lesson #2
Never Suggest You Need Swim Advice in the Shower. At the Gym.

All I said was, "Yeah, really want to work on my speed. I seem to be stuck."
That was more than enough to invite the invasion of my personal space and modesty!

Funny thing is.
I applied the techniques that the naked man showed me. And I'm swimming faster than ever!

And last but not least.

Lesson #3
Do Not Talk to Strangers

Warnings about strangers should take root when you are a child.
Indeed, the Berenstain Bears taught me well.

But, as you grow, strangers become less scary.

Until you are FaceSpooked!

Another situation that started off innocent enough.
Disney World.
Magic Kingdom.

Waiting for the end-of-the-night parade to start.

Getting kinda crowded.

We find a nice parade watching spot.
The kids can sit on the curb.
My wife and I can stand next to/behind a trash/recycling can.

Fine, til a stranger walks up and stands behind the trashcan next to me.
At first I'm annoyed because I was raised to respect the 1 person per trashcan rule.

But I decided to make the most of it and joked with the guy.
"Hey, we may be standing behind a trashcan...but at least we can criticize people if they don't recycle!"
Oh, funny funny.

A little small talk like, "What a beautiful night. Gotta beat the weather back home!"
Stranger: "Oh, what's the weather back home?"
"Aw. Cold and snow!"
Stranger: "Me, too! Where ya from??"
"Near Philly"
Stranger: "Me, too!!!"

Stranger is from Reading. Relatively close to my home town.
Everyone is happy.

The kids demand $15/each light-up-in-the-dark balloons.
Sure! Anything for our beautiful kids!
Now, don't pop them!

The kids demand another hot pre-parade toy: Light-up bubble guns.
Sorry kids! Enjoy your balloons!
And for $30, they better last for the next 6 months.

Parade ends, we retire for the night.
Enjoy the rest of our great trip.

Back home a week later, and an email pops up on my phone.
It's a Facebook message.

I'm definitely confused when I read it. Where did this come from?

Hop on the computer and see the message is from some random guy named Sean.
Hmmmm. Weird.
Nearly brush it off.

Look closer at profile picture.
Hmmm, guy standing with Mickey Mouse. Yep. It's the guy from the parade trashcan.


Yeah and at no point did we exchange names. Not even first names.

That's some impressive stalking!
A 1,000 mile FaceSpook!

As a sign of stalker respect, I shoot him a message back. "Yes the balloons survived the trip, thanks."

He shoots back a quick reply.
What an excellent memory!

And then he follows it up with the Oh-I'm-Not-Too-Stalkerly "Friend Request."
I've left it pending to this day.

Should I further reward him for his effort? And let him spy on my predictable, quiet life?

I've taken what I could out of this final lesson.
All he must have done is overheard my first name. Then searched for everyone in my home town named Mike.
Saw my profile pic (Disney-themed at the time of course) and knew he had his victim.

Did we really need to continue our strangerly conversation 1,000 miles and 1 week later?
Probably not.

So what I've learned is that we need to protect our identities while out in public, too.
And I've applied that to the kids, for example.
If possible, if I'm thinking, in public I'll use their nicknames.
Just a little barrier between the kids and a stranger if I'm calling them, "Scooby and Chickadee."

Probably sounds a little weird.
But, once you've been FaceSpooked, weird is the least of your worries.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


The last two years, the month of May has not treated my training well.

May 2009, I was dealing with pneumonia.
Lack of intelligence had me racing while pneumonicized.
Then I continued training while recovering.
All of which knocked me on my butt.

Bad idea.

Certainly stressed the value of healthy lungs when I couldn't take full breaths in the pool.
Completed a half ironman at the end of that month (dared the Bear), but it was tough.

Last year, I was in the hospital for a blood clot in my brain.
Once again I was reset to ZERO. Like the worst time of year for that.
I recovered but barely skated by the summer's races.

This year is different!
I'm gonna make it through May in pretty good shape.
That is uncharted territory!

I failed to accomplish any of my offseason goals but still find myself getting in the workouts and most importantly, my fitness is heavily favoring Running.

There's less than 2 months until the 20in24.
That means I'll be maxing out my running mileage over the next 6 weeks.

Next up is a 40-mile training run during Memorial Day weekend.
Not point-to-point this time.

Planning to run an out-and-back from my house for the first 15 miles.
Then run down to our local trail (5 miles) with the remaining 20 miles found during 4 out-and-backs on the trail. Budgeting 7 or 8 hours for that.

Only problem is I wanna do that run in the early morning, but it's following a late night...
I've justified it with the whole "well you're gonna be tired during the 20in24 anyway!"

Besides, I gotta fit it in.

The 100mi in 24hr goal has been staring at me for a few years now.
This year, I'm hoping to make it blink.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Death Day

Your mother gave you a birthday.
Fine organizations like Rita's Water Ice gave you a half birthday.

But you've probably been wandering around without a Death Day.
Well, wander no more.

What is a Death Day?
It's just a fun day each year where you figure you're most likely to die.
Mind you, it is just a Day. It is NOT a fixed Date.

Keeps things interesting.
Survive it? That's just another reason to celebrate life!

My Death Day is May 11th.
In fact, I was supposed to write about it on the Day, but Blogger gave us the smack down.
Which is worth noting, too. If Blogger appears exploded, despite their guarantees of ridiculous uptime, it's best just to walk away for a day.
They provide 2 good resources for status updates if you think it's broken and you are scared:

But back to the topic.

How to choose your Death Day?
Find a significant date. Maybe a day you almost died. 
Maybe a day that seems dangerous like June 6th or for you tetraphobes, April 4th.

So far, this sounds a bit more morbid than intended.

Here's how mine came to be.

Innocent young kid. Maybe 9 years old.
Riding the bus home every day.

One bus stop was near a Historical Marker sign.

One day I realize that this Historically relevant guy has the same birthday as me (well, 150 odd years prior).
Wow! That's great!

And that little factoid was all I gained from the sign.

Until one day..."Hmmm, I see that Dude died on May 11th."

"Um" (actually we didn't say Um in 4th grade. We said "Ert")
"Ert, that's probably the day I'll die, too."

And that's how Death Day came to be.

Throw in a few bad days on May 11th over the past 20 years.
Works for me.

So that's the one day a year that I should probably just stay inside.

In fact, it's such a powerful premise, the bad luck can extend up to 7 calendar days in either direction.
I've had some rough May's. But, more on that tomorrow.

Today though is May 18th.
7 days post-Death Day.

I think it's safe.
At least. It feels safe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Next Up - New York

Because I like to endure poor conditions.

This morning, I successfully completed the indoor pool qualifier for the Liberty Island Swim.
That's the 1.2km NYC Swim race around the Statue of Liberty (her island, specifically) on June 24th at 5:15PM.

It's the next race on my Calendar.
No races in April/May due to Tee Ball conflicts and 20in24 training.

As I recall, I registered for the swim on Christmas Day.
It's one of my dream races just begging to be crossed off my list.

The qualifying swim requirement: Complete a 1-mile pool swim in under 35 minutes.
I was supposed to do this by the end of January.
Self-imposed deadline.
Easy to ignore self.

Instead, over the weekend I decided I would swim it this morning.
The situation was perfect.
My daughter, HoneyBunny, had a field trip at 9AM or so. I took a vacation day to hang out on the trip.
I could wake up, roll up to the gym early, get in a nice warmup, wait for the lifeguard-that-voluntarily-talks-to-me to start her shift, beg her to sign the Swim Certification document, and then enjoy a nice day.


Instead, I lumped on a few diminishing factors just because:

  • Field trip canceled due to rain
    • Normal work schedule, giving me about 40 minutes tops in the pool
  • Let the kids do a puppet show until about 11PM the night prior
    • Included waiting for all 15 Barbies in the audience to have their hair brushed
    • Resulted in less than 4 hours of sleep
  • Swung a heavy axe many times over the course of an hour on Sunday
    • Chopped up our old neighborhood playground for disposal
    • My skinny arms do not normally see that type of action, they are still hurting
  • Had not swam in over a week
    • I sneaked in an easy swim yesterday to wake my arms up
  • Had to approach the lifeguard that never talks to me, because he's on the first shift
    • "Hi, I know I'm basically a stranger, but can you put your cell phone number, email address, and signature on this form?"
  • Left my water bottle in the car and did not eat anything before the gym
  • Didn't pay much attention to the NYC Swim definition of a "pool mile"
But it wasn't all bad.
In my favor, I did get a haircut last night for streamlinedness, shaved for the same reason, and wore my compression running shorts versus a traditional bathing suit as I normally do.

Why running shorts? Why not the tri shorts?
Oh, they don't like, um, fit too good at the moment. Damnit.

And finally, I didn't get a warmup.
Quick chat with lifeguard, jump in pool and go.

Wearing the running shorts immediately shaved 5 seconds per lap off my time.
Regular swim trunks are way resistant.

I did cramp up and super crave food during the swim. I also had to drink a fair amount of pool water to combat dehydration. Ew.

But, needing to clock under 35 minutes, I finished the last lap at 29 minutes even. Perfect!
32 laps, 1600m in 29 minutes. Very satisfied with that considering the lack of swim lately.

Then I go to upload my results and realize I only had to swim 1500m.
I hope they don't hold that against me!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Run2Philly and Run with Dean 5K Recap

Was I allowed to have doubts about this run?
Because ultimately I did.

It would have been relatively easy to bag it.
But when to pull the plug?

The night before? When I woke up and wondered how the hell I would do it?
As I opened the front door and looked out at 7 hours of running?

Nope. Had to do it.

See. I've been listening to this B.o.B. song every day, and the point is: Take the risk.
Seriously, listen to it until the end.

Like I told my wife, for it to happen, I just needed to get out the door.
Turns out it wasn't quite that easy.

I didn't get enough sleep. While I was in bed early, the kids were sitting on my legs playing Skunk in the Barnyard.
Try to sleep through that.

It became easier after waking around 1:15AM and lathering up with sunblock.
Out the door at about 1:38AM, then half a mile into the run, I realized I forgot my reflective vest.
That's like Superman forgetting his cape.

Quickly ran back home. I did turn into the wrong entrance to our neighborhood. Not a good sign.

Need to find your reflective vest in a pinch? Easy!
Walk in the door wearing your headlamp and it will light up like a firefly. It was on our drying rack.
Back to the run!

I was outfitted to resemble a UFO. Speaking of fireflies, I wore a red RoadID firefly flashing LED light on both the front and back of the CamelBak.
Headlamp on head. Flashing headlamp in hand.

Reflective slap bracelet on my right wrist, a reflective pouch on my left wrist.
Finally, my old reflective RoadID ankle strap on my right leg.
Add all that to the bright green reflective vest. I was visible.

Note, I did forget the Pepper Spray, I later realized about 2 miles in. It was not a priority.

Mile 3 as I headed towards the Downingtown Borough, my brain decided it wanted to dream up every scary movie monster or bad guy I'd ever seen and assume it was hiding in the forest to my left.
It took me a few minutes to recover from that.

Into Downingtown about 15 minutes behind schedule, I texted Bob and he confirmed that he was sitting at the Wawa down Rt. 30 about 1.5 miles away.
It was so nice running through Downingtown, with sidewalk lamps and lit storefronts. We also have a gigantic American flag. It looks pretty flying at night.
The weather was STELLAR, mid-40's with a fair breeze, but with No Moon, artificial lighting was huge.

Met Bob and we began our eventual routine of Gatorade refill in my handheld bottle.
I'll say right away that the 32oz CamelBak water lasted the entire run and return trip home.
I rationed it and it worked out great!

Bob made this run possible.
WITHOUT him, I would have spent way too much time as a Wawa convenience store patron.
I would have needed to scout out the bathrooms, too.
AND carry extra fuel.

WITH Bob, I was able to just focus on the run.
He would drive up a mile or 2 and park, waiting for me.

As I approached, he'd take a break from the podcast blasting in his car and jump out, clapping and cheering for me as I ran by.
Or if I had to stop for a drink or some sugar, he'd have the door open so I could refill quickly.

This routine continued for seriously, 20 miles.
And THEN. Then Bob went to work.
I apologize to his employer for a presumably lackluster work effort that morning.

OK, back to Rt. 30 through Exton.
That was the most harrowing intersection in the nighttime. Rt. 30 and Rt. 100. Big intersection. Busy.
I walked across so that I could pay close attention to traffic.

Through and exiting Exton, the roads have about zero shoulder.
Exton was also the only time, mid-run, I had doubts about the run, thinking I might have better spent the day sleeping in and eating breakfast with the kids. I thought that as I ran past BounceU.
Oh well. Keep running.

Into Frasier.
Frasier was welcome, except for the initial hill, because it contained the next Wawa.
Stopped there for a potty break and to refill. Confirmed I was dehydrated. Honestly that was intentional.
Not recommended, but I couldn't stop for potty breaks too often.
All in all, I stopped at 4 Wawas for potty breaks, and I probably could have reduced that to 1 or 2.

Frasier was great.
On to Malvern.

What happened to Maddies? Guess it closed.
Malvern was a weird one. Lonely and quiet.
I think I ran 3 miles without seeing a car.
Except Bob!

Next up, Paoli!
And another Wawa.
I discarded my Ink N Burn arm sleeves because it was getting to be a toasty 50 degrees.
Proactively put a blister pad on a hot spot under my right big toe.
Bob and I also tried to calculate mileage here. About 19 total miles.

Paoli was the only time I tripped during the run.
Approaching the Wawa, I crossed the street where the sidewalk disappeared in favor of a car lot.
Thanks to Matthews Ford for painting their curb black.

No big deal, filled up on gummy Valentine's hearts and more Gatorade.

On to forgettable Berwyn.
I don't even remember seeing a sign that said Berwyn.

At this point, my pace was good.
Though I was shooting for 10min/mile, I was feeling closer to 9:30min/mile.

I do need to find out how far ahead Bob was driving. I hope it was about 2 miles.
It was a happy moment catching up to him each time just to have him jump back into the car and speed by to the next stop.
And he only scared me once, when the parking lot was rather dark and I thought I had a complete stranger shouting at me.

Next up was Devon. Famous for horse shows!
I did not see a single horse.

Oh, but the sun was rising.
I left my headlamp on during twilight.

Sunrise also meant the beginnings of traffic.
Suddenly, the occasional lack of a sidewalk starting becoming an issue.
Cars during the morning rush are not very forgiving.

Mixed emotions as I entered Wayne (originally named Louella).
The sun was up. Good.
But that meant Bob was departing. Bad.
I bid him farewell and stuffed my face with more gummy hearts and Gatorade.

This was at exactly 6:15AM. Very good, just short of my expectation that I would have been just ahead in Radnor. Total distance was at about 24 miles.
I glanced at my pedometer. 39,000 steps. That was the last time I saw it!

Bob left me with one final note. He had driven ahead to Radnor and stashed a Gatorade bottle behind a tree, beyond the Radnor Hotel.
I looked forward to finding it.

There would be no more stops.
My CamelBak was still nearly full.
I had plenty of candy with me, though I wouldn't stop to eat anything else the rest of the trip.
The handheld bottle was filled with about 24 oz of Lemon/Lime Gatorade after consuming all of the purple Riptide Rush. It was so smooth.

After that stop, running became HARD.
I fired up my RunKeeper GPS app on the Droid.
It was killing me.
Pace had dropped to 12min/mile. Thanks!

Other runners started appearing on the sidewalk.

Radnor is big, by the way.
And dangerous.

As you near the big intersection with the Blue Route (Rt. 476) there are no more shoulders or sidewalks for a spell.
There is just a muddy path down a bank. Trotted along there and found the Gatorade!

Carried that baby all the way to Villanova.
Villanova had the only trashcan for miles.
Downed my handheld.  Filled it, then drank as much of the remaining Gatorade as I could stomach.

Still slow going, the clock was working against me.
The race time had been bumped up to 9AM and with miles chipping away every 12 minutes, I was justifiably worried about making it there on time.

Grabbed a few photos of Villanova as my brother will be matriculating there in the Fall.

Friendly cemetary. I bet that's fun at Halloween.

This whole time, I'm just trying to get to Ardmore, a landmark for me.
But first, Bryn Mawr.
Cool murals.

Then Haverford.
Haverford has this big, beautiful high school.

Past the marathon mark, I still had plenty of steam left. And my body felt OK.
Except my poor legs.
And back.
My legs were slightly cramped, mostly due to the extended rest back in Wayne to prepare for the solo portion of the trip.
My back was feeling the weight of the CamelBak. It was packed pretty full.

Mentally, I was waning.
Until this!

Ah, Brownies 23 East in Ardmore. Finally. Ardmore!
Note: I've never actually been to Brownies. And I never will.

Ardmore was big and kinda ugly.
But they had friendly statues.
Up next, Wynnewood, home of the most neglected sidewalks on Rt. 30!
Very pretty area. Mansions everywhere.

A few decades ago, they forgot they had sidewalks. 50% of the sidewalk surface was overgrown.
I made due.

Wynnewood also has Lankenau Medical Center.
And labor disputes!

At least one of those striking carpenters did not appreciate being photographed.
I picked up the pace a bit.

Then. Heaven!
Route 1!

Better known locally as City Ave!

Route 1/City Ave was initially not in the plan.
Bob recommended it during our final Wawa stop as a good way to avoid some shady neighborhoods.
At the expense of untold additional mileage...per the GPS, it added about 2 miles to the route.

Know what City Ave has?
St. Joseph's University.

Oh, and a punishing constant incline, damnit!

This point of the run was brutal.
Around 33 or 34 miles in. My legs did not need any hills.

I was in search of Belmont Ave which would lead me to the Please Touch Museum destination.
And I could not find it.

My GPS begged me to turn right at every major intersection.
But I could not. I was guaranteeing the safe route.

This was at about 8:15AM.
Traffic was dense. It was taking extra time to use crosswalks and wait for traffic lights in my favor.

Trudging along, afraid that maybe I had passed Belmont Ave, I started asking "locals' for directions.
But none of them were from the city! They were just as disoriented as I was!

Finally, one saint of a woman told me I had to run up 2 more blocks and there would be Belmont Ave.
And there it was!

So I began descending Belmont right at 8:30AM, officially the end of race registration.
But hope was in sight!

I've never been so happy to see a sign.
Except maybe a few minutes prior when I saw that Route 1 sign.

Anyway, I was in the home stretch. And arrived exactly 7 hours after officially starting.

Total mileage of that point-to-point trip was about 37 miles, but I have rounded it down to 36.2 miles for posterity.

Hit the 5K registration table, got my bib.
Walked to the steps of the Please Touch Museum and discarded all of my reflective gear, stuffing it into the CamelBakPack.

Then, Lone Ranger Nicole of the 20in24 found me so we headed up to the Starting Line.

Then Dean Karnazes made his first appearance!

Dean spoke to the crowd, telling us why he was running across America. And how tough but inspiring it has been.
Then, he had one key piece of advice for the kids in the crowd as the race was about to start: Do not pass him!

And we were off in the 5K!
Nicole was nice enough to run with me, in what was probably our slowest 5K ever.
But, it was just at Dean's pace so we got to hang outside of his circle of groupies/paparazzi.

It would have been cool to run and chat with Dean, but the crowd was shameless. It was kind of embarrassing.
The guy is superhuman. No doubt. But he's also a normal guy and, ugh, the crowd was just too clingy.

So yes, we forged ahead. Dean actually looped back a little bit early.
Shot approaching the Finish

The pink CamelBak and I had survived the trip and the 5K, putting us at 39.3 miles on the day.

Nicole and I purchased a few books after the race, but were disappointed to find ourselves without a signature as Dean took off quickly after the big group photos.
As we returning the books (sorry), I got to harrass Brittany, the author of the official Run Across America blog.

Though she didn't believe how far I had run to the race, she did give us a nice shout out and photo in her write-up.

That was Day 70 of Dean's trip. 70 days of running 40 to 50 miles per day.
Think about that. How the hell does his body handle that abuse? Amazing guy.

Then it was time to go. Said bye to Nicole. We'll be running in Philly again in 2 short months.

As a member, I took the opportunity to head inside the Please Touch Museum to get changed and fed.
Except. Ya know, they don't like you much when you roll up without any kids.
They especially don't like you if you're one of the runners that was just making noise outside the building for the past few hours.
Which meant I had to keep explaining to people that I was a paying customer. Chill out.

And then I chilled out.
Bought 2 soft pretzels and 2 milk shakes!

Walked back outside to the ghost town that remained post race. Including the cool bus.

They traveled the country with 2 of those buses.

Then, the final leg of the trip.
Walk into the city and catch the train.

While I thought the run through the dark was the most dangerous part of my day, Philly sometimes is not much better.
Like this biking lunatic as I was walking down Black Road.
He was screaming profanities at a tree.
Despite that, we did exchange pleasantries as he biked past. That is one tough uphill!

Then I went all tourist on the way to Suburban Station.

Caught the train at just about 12:15PM, back in Downingtown an hour later. Ticket cost $7.
My mother-in-law picked me up and drove me home.

My legs were pretty much trashed.
Cleaned up and picked up HoneyBunny from school, then went to my little brother's baseball game.

A very long day, running a marathon and a half.
As I said at the beginning of this post, there was plenty of good reason to not follow through with the idea.

But with this run under my belt, 100 miles in 24 hours this summer seems just a little bit more realistic.

Thanks to my wife and kids for letting me try it, to Bob for being my lifeline, to Nicole for making me feel welcome at the race, and to my mother-in-law for the very helpful ride back from the train station.

There's still 2 or 3 more big training runs on the schedule.
And then of course, find something bigger to tackle.

For now, it was great to meet the challenge and be part of something bigger.
Dean's Run Across America, completed just this morning!, to benefit Action for Healthy Kids.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Run2Philly - Preview

"What are you? Dumb?" - My loving sister

That's about as accurate an interpretation as any.

I'm leaving at 1:30AM tonight for a quiet 34 mile quest from my doorstop to Philly.
Arrival at the Please Touch Museum.
Trying to get there in time for the 9AM "Run with Dean 5K," one of the final stops in Dean Karnazes' Run Across America.

He has been running across the country to raise money and awareness for Action for Healthy Kids.
Get our kids up and moving. Eating healthy.
Basically rejecting the USA culture that wants us to gather the family in front of the TV and pass around a bag of potato chips.

We do our best at home. And the Action for Healthy Kids organization puts programs in place to help kids across the country.

I've read Dean's blog and followed him on Facebook. He has many accomplishments under his belt and he is always finding some cool new challenge.

I thought it was great when he accounced the Run Across America.
When they offered a 5K in Philadelphia, 1 of only a dozen across the country, I signed up right away.

A few days later on Facebook, Dean offered the following message:
“I hope you’ll meet me at one of the 5K’s when I Run Across America. For permitting reasons, runners can only join me at one of the sanctioned 5K’s. For those of you who want to go farther, I suggest running some great distance to the start of the 5K. I can’t wait to hear the stories!”

A few clicks later on Google Maps, I had a route and a vague belief I could run to Philly.

Some fun tidbits about the run's logistics:
  • Run 5+ miles to Business Rt. 30
  • Run a marathon along route Rt. 30
  • Then depart Rt. 30 for a few miles into Fairmount Park
  • Route 30 is a "mother road" that itself goes across the country. Fun Wikipedia reading
  • Towards the end of the run, there are a few not-so-nice neighborhoods
    • Hence I bought some pepper spray today
    • And will probably spray myself by accident
  • My fuel will be gatorade and gummy worms
    • The kids saw all of the candy and now associate "Running = Candy" Great!
  • I've only worn the CamelBak hydration pack once. And now I'm gonna wear it for 7 hours or so. Should provide some terrible chafing
  • I should have been asleep 30 minutes ago
The trip would not be nearly as approachable were it not for my friend Bob who will drive along the route with me for 3+ hours. There are some stretches of Rt. 30 that are just not pedestrian friendly.

The best part about running Rt. 30 is that it takes you down the Main Line. Nice areas, should produce some good pictures. If the sun is out.

Sunrise is just before 6AM by the way.
At that time, Bob can go get some shut eye and I will have about 10 miles left to go.

34 miles is rather intimidating but I have looked at it in 2 ways:
1. I ran 31 miles on my birthday 2 months ago (though it feels like a lifetime ago). A few more miles can't be THAT bad.
2. 34 miles is 4 loops in the 20in24. Good practice!

I am not sure why some runners have a desire to run far.
I am not sure what holds the average runner back.

At this point in my simple running career it's pretty clear that cardiovascularly, you know like heart and lungs, you should be able to run forever.
But, here are the things that can go wrong:
  • Dehydration. Temperatures will be cool and I'll have plenty of Gatorade, which Bob will carry in his car! And the CamelBak loaded with 32oz of water
  • Pain. Oh the legs, or feet, or joints. They can all start to hurt pretty bad
  • Bullshit injuries. Spraining an ankle in a hole or something weak like that
  • Blisters. You'd be surprised how crippling they can be
  • Cramps. Not stomach cramps, really. Those are cute. Leg cramps can shut you down. Usually related to dehydration or a fueling insufficiency
I'll have blister pads to address any hotspots. A sprain will end my run.
I'll try to walk through any cramps.

Worst case, I have a train schedule with me. Septa runs along Rt. 30 and I can confidently catch a train any time between 6:30AM and 7:30AM and still make the race. Though I might not have enough money to get back home.

As for running with Dean. That will just be, um, spectacular.
He's a running rockstar, and he's sacrificed nearly 3 months of his life for this Run Across America.
It will be great to show support beyond clicking "Like" on a FB post.

And when it's all done.
I want to chill in the Please Touch Museum and exhaust their supply of chocolate milk.
Walk through the city, catch a train home.
And then run a few miles home.

I'll be a real pleasure around the house tomorrow afternoon!

Thanks to everyone for your support. You're welcome to join me next time!
And if you're slacking tomorrow, watch Regis and Kelly, maybe you'll see us Live!