Thursday, June 25, 2015

Stroller running

I love the Haddonfield Running Company for many reasons, one of which is that they offer group stroller runs on Thursday mornings for stay-at-home moms and dads.  Now that I'm off for the summer, I had the chance to join them this morning.

It was me and several moms and their toddlers (and one dad) this morning.  We met outside the store and ran 3 miles, roughly the same 3 miles that starts the usual Wednesday night run that I do.  Afterwards we hung out in the store before it opened so the parents could drink water and chat while the kids ran around.  I let Neale crawl around for a bit and just hoped the older kids wouldn't trample him before scooping him up for the group shot.

I often wonder what goes through Neale's little baby brain when we run (or any time he sticks something in his mouth, for that matter).  He seems to enjoy it, I guess, at least the wind and the ever-changing scenery.  I've only actually run with him a handful of times, and I don't know if I should feel guilty about that.  I like getting him into the outdoors and modeling a running lifestyle, even if he won't remember any of this, but I also like going out on my own and negotiating curbs and trails without the heavy bulk of a stroller in front of me.

Neale still naps frequently, and trying to match up his nap schedule with the weather and my eating schedule is like trying to get the planets to align correctly.

At any rate, I can't wait for the day when he first joins me for a run without the stroller.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My first Father's Day

Three generations of Partenheimers

Father's Day was today, and it was a special one for me because it was my first as a father. Stevie made me waffles for breakfast, I took myself to the movies to see Jurassic World, and then we all headed to my dad's place to grill in the backyard.  Grilling, beer, and family - is there any better way to celebrate Father's Day?

It should go without saying that fatherhood is hard.  There have been some incredible highs over the past ten months, but some equally paralyzing lows in which I truly struggled.  But I feel good that I can sit here today and honestly say that I love being a father.  I am addicted to my son's laughter.  I am inspired by his curious explorations.  And I love the tiny nuances of his nascent personality.

While on Christmas break, Stevie and I hung out with friends who had a two-and-a-half year old boy.  The father told me how, as his son grows older, so too does the fun, and that has stuck with me ever since.  It's true; the fun grows exponentially, but so does the happiness. Each day brings some new found skill, obsession or joy that my son discovers, and with each new day, I discover happiness anew.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Here comes summer

It's the day teachers look forward to as much as Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries combined: yes, the last day of school is finally here.  Exams have been graded, loose ends have been tied up, the classroom has been dismantled and packed away, and the final countdown begins.  At noon today, the students were dismissed, the faculty attended a brief meeting, and with its conclusion I officially closed out my fourth year as a high school German teacher.  As with every year, I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted, and I go into the summer a new man.

Stevie and I have made it a tradition to drink champagne on the last day of school to celebrate another successful year, so we sat outside in the backyard this afternoon while I reflected on the past nine months of my professional life.

We popped the cork just like always, poured and drank the champagne like always, but I'd be lying if I said this year felt as successful as years' past.  With the birth of my son, my personal life has grown in directions I never imagined, but professionally, it felt like a step backwards. Neale was born a week before school started, and I never quite felt like I got my footing this year.

Mixing a professional life in public education with a quality personal life has always been a challenge, because so much personal time is required to truly grow professionally.  At the close of my fourth year, I'm left wondering just how much I can grow professionally without sacrificing time with my growing family.

These, alas, are thoughts and concerns I will happily relegate to August, because summer is finally here, and Stevie and Neale are all that matter.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Movie Monday: Deliverance meets running

A group of locals from Leiper's Fork, Tennessee decided to camp out on the side of the Franklin Half Marathon race course and good naturedly heckle the runners.  Taking their cue from Deliverance, they parked themselves by a rusty old pickup, wore overalls and played dueling banjos while calling out to passing runners.

"What are yew runnin' from, boy?"

Sunday, June 14, 2015

2015 Odyssey Half Marathon Race Report

I ran the Odyssey Half Marathon this morning for the third year in a row.  Race reports from previous years:


Left the house around 5:30am and made it to the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park by 5:50.  Found parking pretty close to the starting area and headed over.  It was nice arriving with so much time before the start of the race, because I had time to pin on my bib, apply Body Glide, do a warm up jog, stretch, visit the port-a-potties twice, and just sit around people watching.  I also met up with Tom from Who's Up and hung out a bit with him.

I had timed everything for a 7am start - bathroom visit, warmup jog, last bit of water and first Gu - but at 6:55 they announced a 30 minute delay due to runners stuck in traffic.  So it was rather annoying to get myself psyched up to begin and then have to wait more.  It was also supposed to be hot today, and any delay was only going to make for a hotter race.

Months ago I had targeted this race as a PR attempt, but as race day approached, I knew my training wouldn't cut it.  My secondary goal became to beat last year's time (1:33), but when I realized how hot it was going to get, this was scrapped too.

While waiting in my corral for the race to start, a man came up to me and asked if I was the guy who had BQ'd at Philly a few years ago and made a YouTube video about it.  He was ecstatic when I told him it was indeed me, and shook my hand and wished me luck.  It's always flattering to be recognized from the internet, so thank you sir.

At 7:25 we finally set off.  The first two miles absolutely flew by.  I had settled in with the 7:00 min/mile pacer and stuck with him until around mile 9 when he pulled away.  Is there anything more depressing than watching a pace group pull away and not be able to do anything about it?  I ran without a watch during this race, and as the only clocks were at the start, finish and midpoint, I wasn't sure how fast I was going other than following the pacer.

I was drenched in sweat by mile two, and my shoes started squelching around mile 9.  It was just a gross morning.  At mile 10 I saw a woman on the side of the road throwing up.  There was already a man kneeling beside her and a police motorcycle on its way, so I kept moving.

The course meanders around Fairmount for a few miles before veering down to the Schuykill River.  There are some nasty hills in the course, but the nastiest comes at mile 12 with a half mile slog up a cliff face.  Or at least that's what it feels like by then.

I remembered how great it was to finish early last year and have the beer garden almost to myself, and that was the only thing that kept me going this year.  The latter miles felt less like running and more like trudging, much like Boston last April.

When I reached the homestretch, I sprinted like a maniac past two more runners, and could have sworn I saw the clock at 1:33.  I was shocked to have run the same time as last year. But when I checked my official race results later, I saw that my time was actually 1:34:48.  I had finished in 47th place, but was later demoted to 53rd place.  Looks like some faster people started after me.

But no matter.  It was finally time for my favorite part of racing: the post race beer.

Nothing better than beer at 9:30am after racing 13.1.

Sly Fox.  Amazing stuff.
Like last year, I was one of only a handful of runners in the beer garden set up near the finish.  We sat at a table in the shade and talked about the race while drinking Sly Fox beer in our new pint glasses.

The beer garden filled up quickly, but I'm happy to report that Sly Fox finally came up with a system to keep up with demand.  No ridiculous lines like years' past.  They were even giving out free refills.

Sly Fox is delicious, by the way.  It took every ounce of will power I had to resist a third beer.  I figured three beers before 9:30 would be pushing it, especially since I had to drive home.

Soon Tom finished, and we sat around talking for awhile.

Despite the snafu at the beginning of the race, the ODDyssey Half Marathon is a seriously great event.  It's well-run, organized, and fun.  And if you like beer after running (and what kind of person are you if you don't), you'll love the beer garden.  Put this on your race calendar, and I'll see you next June.

Friday, June 12, 2015


When I'm not out pounding the pavement chasing the runner's high, I'm on the baseball field working on my batting stance and smacking line drives like it's my job.

I was asked to join the faculty team in the Colette R. Earney annual charity softball tournament in the town where I teach.  Stevie and Neale sat in the shade on a 90 degree day to watch me tear it up with the other teachers.  We made it to the championship game but were foiled by one of the student/alumni teams when the tying run was thrown out at home plate in the last inning.

I played Little League when I was a kid but have barely touched a glove since then.  My instincts took over and I managed a few decent hits, a few runs scored, and played second base in the field where I tried not to overthrow first base all the time.  Old habits die hard, though.

It was a great afternoon full of friendly smack talk and faculty bonding, and I can't wait for next year.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 SJAC No Frills Just Thrills Race #1

Every summer for the last two decades, the South Jersey Athletic Club has been hosting a "No Frills Just Thrills" race series down at the Cooper River.  Registration is $5 for non-members, $3 for members, and free for students.  The money goes to pint glasses for awards and not much else, leaving more room for the simple thrill of racing.

There are six races over the course of the summer, each one a little different than the last. Tonight was a one lap race (3.65 miles), starting and finishing at the Cooper River track.  

Last year's stats:

6th overall (75 runners)
2nd in my age group

This year's stats:

6th overall (113 runners)
3rd in my age group

It's difficult racing in the evening after a full day of work, and it's difficult racing in the summer when heat and humidity are high, so I'm happy I managed a 6:08 pace over 3.65 miles.  In a regular 5k, I would have finished in 19:01 with that pace, so not too shabby.

I ran like I normally do in smaller races.  I ran by feel rather than wearing a Garmin, started at my own pace and tried to pick off runners once I reached the halfway point.  This worked pretty well as no one passed me, and I managed to outkick a few in the final half mile.  Even though no one was near me - behind or in front - I still tried to sprint the homestretch, then stumbled through the finishers' chute while clumsily grabbing at my bib to hand into the race director.

Moments after finishing

I did a cool down loop around the track and then sat by the finish line clapping as people came in.  I once again won a pint glass "trophy," bringing my total to 4.

It was a great night for racing, and a perfect way to kick off the summer.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

2015 Wissahickon Trail Classic Race Report

Ran one of my favorite races of the year yesterday, the Wissahickon Trail Classic over in Philadelphia.

Race reports from years' past:

Held at Wissahickon Valley Park every year, it's a fundraiser for the Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers, a group tasked with maintaining the park's 2,000 acres and network of trails.  It's a 10k race through challenging terrain, including steep switchbacks, gravel roads, single track, and even a red covered bridge.  Every year the race boasts about 500 runners.

I love this race because I love trail running, and this is a superb trail race an easy 40 minute drive from me.  It's always a nice change of pace from running road races, and the course is challenging, but at 10 kilometers, I don't have to kill myself in training.

The good news is this year, two friends from Who's Up decided to do the race as well, so we carpooled over and arrived at 8am.  We got there early because parking can be a bit chaotic for this race, especially as nearby Chestnut Hill College's parking lot was closed due to an alumni event.  So we had plenty of time to get our bibs, visit the port a potties, and do a warm up run.

I had mailed in my registration last month before the price increase, and also hoping to save the online processing fee, but it apparently never arrived and I had to register all over again and pay the full $35 price.  Still a bargain, though, considering the race experience delivered, not to mention the post race amenities.

The race starts on a wide gravel towpath.  Veteran racers know this will lead quickly to an uphill trail, so the start of the race is a madcap dash and struggle for positioning before the course narrows considerably.  That first trail is a serious reality check as it shoots straight up before leveling out into a sunny meadow.

Because I don't do trail races enough, I always forget how frustrating it can be to have your pace dictated by the terrain and those in front of you.  The pace constantly fluctuates as the trail changes and as you approach runners ahead and determine how best to pass them.

I tried very hard to hold myself back in the early stages of the race, because I knew the last mile was a slow and steady climb before abruptly devolving into insane hairpin turns while dropping severely in elevation.  I wanted to be ready for it and be able to go all out towards the end.

I took the uphills slowly without walking, and absolutely charged the downhills, picking off runners where I could.  I find myself particularly adept at the quick thinking and fancy footwork required to take the downhills at such breakneck speed.  After crossing the covered bridge, the course teases you with a half mile back on the gravel towpath.  Here you can kick it up a notch and zone out for a bit at a consistent pace.  But then comes the final mile...

I picked off one last runner as I entered the final uphill and was working on another, but I was running out of steam and just couldn't reel him in.  I was shocked to come shooting out of the woods into the homestretch to see the clock still under 50 minutes, and charged at the finish line with all I had.

Last year I came in 66th place with a time of 53:57, while this year I improved to 39th place with a time of 49:45.  I was ecstatic that I'd run so well this year.  My goal this year had been to improve on my time and place, but my secret goal was to place in my age group for the first time.  Sadly,  this race is so insane that I didn't even crack the top 10.  Oh well, there's always next year.

After exiting the finishing chute I high fived the guy who had come in before me.  The race director then came up and addressed me by name and told me he'd keep an eye out for the check I'd mailed, and would contact me if it came in.  After the rudeness I experienced at the last race I attended, I appreciated his kindness and attention to detail.

Kim and Erik finished shortly after I did, and we sat round rehashing the race, mostly talking about how tough the course is.  There was a fantastic post race spread, including bottled water, bananas, bagels, oranges and Clif Bars from Whole Foods, and about a hundred different pizzas from a local pizzeria.

After eating and drinking our fill, we took a picture for good measure, then headed back to Jersey.

If you're in the Philadelphia area and are looking for a good trail race, or even just an alternative to the normal road races, I highly recommend this race.  It's a challenging course through a beautiful urban park, it's incredibly well organized, and the post race amenities are incredible.  There aren't any gimmicks to this race, it's just a serious race for serious runners, for the love of racing.

Thanks for a great race, guys.  I'm already looking forward to next year.

Friday, June 5, 2015

1,000 miles down

I hit 1,000 miles for the year during my 6 mile run last night.  Less than halfway through the year and I'm just about halfway to my goal of 2,015 miles.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Runner's World debut

I love to write.  Four and a half years of writing a blog that only a handful of people read can attest to that.  But it has long been a goal of mine to break out of blogging and into something more substantial.  Why not dream big, then, and go for the goal of publishing a piece in Runner's World, right?

Imagine my surprise when this month's edition of Runner's World arrived in the mail and I sat down to read it tonight.  In a section about chafing, they had included readers' own tips about preventing it.  I saw the words "duct tape" and thought, hey this guy uses it too.  Hey, this guy's name is Scott too.

Wait a minute...

Runner's World must have asked a question on Facebook ages ago and I added my two cents, never thinking it would end up in the magazine.

Leave it to me to have the first time my name appears in Runner's World be about my nipples.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

National Running Day

When you run marathons and especially when you're maintaining a run streak, every day feels like National Running Day.  But it's officially today (always the first Wednesday in June), meaning my Twitter and Facebook blew up all day with posts about how great running is.

Mad Max is pretty great too, by the way.

I celebrated the best way possible - by going to the Haddonfield Running Company for our regular Wednesday night run, followed by beers in the store afterwards.

Our group keeps expanding.  We've joked that we don't even know who is in the club anymore.  Did you run with us tonight?  Do you want a beer?  Good, you're in.

Happy National Running Day to you.  Only two days until National Donut Day.  Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May mileage

I ran 13 miles today because I missed that feeling of being drenched in my own sweat and suffering through the heat.  I also love a good excuse to sit under a garden hose for a bit.

I have a half marathon coming up in two weeks, and I'm glad to know my legs will still carry me that distance.

May is over, and it looks like I closed out the month at 159.1 miles, which puts me at 989.3 miles for the year.  My quest to run 2,015 miles this year is still on track.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

While I miss our old apartment, one of the biggest advantages of our new place is the fact that we have a backyard now.  I grill every chance I get during warmer weather, including today when Stevie and I hosted our first Memorial Day BBQ.

Getting things started

We spent hours outside listening to music, drinking beer, and eating grilled hamburgers and hotdogs.

Grill master

Happiness is the smell of charcoal and an ice cold beer, all amidst good company.

The most important part of the party

Happy Memorial Day to you, and here's to the start of an excellent summer.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday 10 miler

I ran ten miles this morning, and it felt great.  It was my longest run since the marathon last month.  Because I have a half marathon next month, and because the gross summer humidity is still holding off, I figured I should get in some miles this morning.  It was a perfect spring morning for a run.

I ran my usual 10 mile route, the one I ran repeatedly in snowfall while training for Boston, the one that incorporates hills and trails in addition to the usual sidewalks and pavement, the one that goes through the town where I teach and I consequently hear shouts of "Hey Mr. Partenheimer!" all day.

Everyone: I think I saw you running the other day.
Me: It's a distinct possibility.

I was hoping to continue my training from Boston into June and run really well at my two June races (Wissahickon 10k and Odyssey Half Marathon), but it looks like summer habits are already taking hold.  Drinking too much beer and eating too much food at parties and barbecues and not doing enough speedwork are not going to get me any PR's next month.

But I still have a few weeks left to prepare, so you never know, right?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Coffee date

How about a Saturday morning coffee date with Stevie and me?

Stevie: You should tell your readers you're drinking chai and not coffee.
Me: Stevie, my readers remember every detail of my life and know I prefer chai.

Let's get into it, shall we?

  • As a runner, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, "what race are you doing next?"  I have two that I'm officially signed up for, plus a few more in the pipeline.  Next month I'll run the Wissahickon Trail Classic 10k and the ODDyssey Half Marathon, both of which I've done before.  I love those two races and can't recommend them enough.
  • The next question I get is "are you still streaking?" Yes, I am still streaking.  I started on November 26, 2013 and it's looking very much like this is going to be a lifelong thing.  I joke with my dad that I will probably put out a press release if I ever decide to stop the streak.
  • My runs lately have all been in the 5 - 8 range (1 mile on Monday for my rest day).
  • I'm at about 930 miles for the year so far, so I'm still on track to hit 2,015 miles this year.
  • Stevie has gotten really into fitness lately.  After eating whatever she wanted for over a year and using pregnancy/breastfeeding as an excuse, she has really buckled down and overhauled her nutrition and fitness.  In her words, she's "blown away" by the pounds and inches she has lost over the last two months.
  • Neale is finally sleeping better throughout the night, but he still likes to wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 every morning.  Never getting to sleep late is kind of rough, but I do like these quiet, early mornings on the back porch.
  • School is winding down, and the reminder I give my students is meant for me as well: finish the year strong.  Don't check out early.
  • Stevie and I are hosting a Memorial Day BBQ this Monday.  I am super excited to get back into grilling.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The best male running bloggers

I never understood why the world of fitness and running blogging is so heavily dominated by women.  There's nothing wrong with this, of course, but as a man, it sometimes makes it hard to relate to the content.

So when I look for running blogs to read, I like to find people I can relate to.  If it's someone with a full-time job, maybe a dad, and who is just sharing his running journey with the rest of us, then I want to read his blog.  I love being inspired by others' journeys, especially if they face similar struggles to mine.

That said, I thought I would share my favorite running blogs from the male end of the spectrum.  Each of these bloggers is inspiring in his own way, so read on and get inspired!

Name: Bryon Pumphrey
From: Indiana

First there's my bro out in Indiana, Bryon Pumphrey.  I've written about him before and met him for a hot second in the middle of the Boston Marathon, of all places.

He's a die-hard Pacers fan who lost 40 lbs. through running and hopefully doesn't mind me always stealing pictures from his blog.  He's a down-to-earth guy who doesn't blog for the fame or the glory but to keep himself accountable and to share his journey.  He's planning to run a sub 3:00 marathon this fall, so I'm definitely looking forward to following his progress, especially as I may attempt the same exact goal in Philly.

Name: Ty Godwin
From: Colorado

Then there's Ty Godwin.  He is an average guy with two kids who writes passionately about - you guessed it - the Boston Marathon.  He completed it this year for the 5th time in a row, which was no small feat since he sustained some pretty serious injuries in a bike crash at a triathlon last summer.  His grit and determination are amazing.

I also love his style of writing - there's the feelgoodery you would expect from someone chasing such lofty goals but with enough acerbic wit to keep it interesting.  He doesn't shy away from risqué material - he covered the Michael Rossi story well before I did, and much more brilliantly.  His next project is as a presenter at the Fitbloggin15 Conference in Denver.

Name: Cory Reese
From: Utah

I'm sure nearly everyone who comments on Cory's blog mentions the photos.  Come for the photos, stay for the content.  While Cory takes his share of selfies (really, what blogger doesn't), and some beautiful shots of the Utah landscape, his specialty seems to be his epic jumping shots.  Not the goofy white girls on the beach jumping shots, but ones out in the desert where he seems to be soaring through the shot.  The energy and exuberance in these photos reaches out and shakes you and yells at you to go running yourself.

Cory is a social worker and father of three who still finds time to run ultras - lots of ultras.  A 50 miler here, a 72 hour race there, and enough 100 milers - as noted in his "About Me" page - to listen to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" up to 623 times on repeat.  If you ever have any questions about ultras, this is your man.  In the meantime, the goofy positivity oozing from each post will keep you coming back.

Name: Brad Mason
From: Florida

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Brad who had found my blog through YouTube.  He'd been blogging for awhile, though anonymously, and wanted to lift the veil of anonymity to increase his accountability.  Looking at the above photo, I can't believe he drew inspiration from me.  He was kind enough to highlight my blog on his, and I wanted to do the same.

Brad is a father of three and has an insane work schedule that sometimes requires 60-90 hour weeks throughout the year.  His athletic journey has been long and varied and not without its struggles, and through it all he has set the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  His plan is to run it in 2017, so stop by his blog and follow along!

Name: Jake Krong
From: Utah

Wait, you mean you wanted more pictures from Utah?  Well then read Jake Krong's blog.  His blog highlights both his and his girlfriend Andrea's outdoor adventures living near the Wasatch Range.  They are both passionate skiers and fill the blog with beautiful shots of the pristine snow-capped mountains in the winter.

But wait, that's not all! Jake is also a sub-elite runner with the goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.  With a marathon PR of 2:20, he has a lot of excellent running advice and general observations from the front of the pack.  He is also sponsored by Saucony and shares a lot of great information about them.  I love his excellent race analyses from someone with a lot of talent and experience.

Eric Rayvid
From: New York City

In his thirties, Eric was overweight, smoked, had high cholesterol; basically all the hallmarks of an unhealthy lifestyle.  Now in his forties, he is an accomplished endurance athlete and hangs out with people like Kara Goucher and Mary Wittenberg.    Most recently, he became a father last fall with the birth of his first son.

Through his blog, he is essentially an ambassador of the NYC racing scene.  He constantly brings his GoPro to the races and posts videos and great action shots afterwards.  The blog also provides great reviews on a lot of different shoes and other endurance products.

Name: Henrik Wist
From: Munich, Germany

Fellow father and runner Henrik has been a longtime reader of the blog, and we came awfully close to actually meeting when I showed up in his hometown last month with ten of my students in tow.  Sadly, it didn't work out, but we'll always have the internet, Henrik.

As the name of his blog suggests, Henrik is into biking and coding as well as running, and his blog is a sprinkling of his different interests.  He most recently ran a brilliant debut marathon in Hamburg in a blistering time of 3:17:38... now if we could get him to write a race report!

Names: Tom and Joe
Blogs: Unknown
From: Florida

Lastly, a shout out to Tom and Joe down in Florida.  They don't have blogs to my knowledge, but they frequently leave me comments and I appreciate it like crazy.

I think the theme here, besides being all dudes, is that everyone mentioned here is just an average guy doing extraordinary things with his one chance at life.  You don't need to be blessed with money or looks or anything else to accomplish great things.  You just have to be willing to put in the hard work.

Is there an amazing male running blogger that I missed?  Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Race to Neverland 5k Race Report

First off, happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there.  Today is a special one for us because it's Stevie's first Mother's Day as a mom.

Stevie decided a few months ago that she wanted to celebrate the occasion at a local 5k she'd found online.  Looks like I picked the right one, folks.  She's been doing the 21 Day Fix Program through Beach Body and loving it, so she wanted to get back into running, which she hasn't really done since before getting pregnant.  So we brought Neale and the jogging stroller over to Cherry Hill this morning for the First Annual Race to Neverland 5k.

Unfortunately it was the most poorly organized race I've ever done.

Look, I hate to bash a local 5k, given that they are usually charity events (this one benefitted two young girls who had lost their mother a few years ago), so let's just call this constructive criticism and hope next year's event goes a little better.

There were only about 50 people in the race, mostly moms and their kids of varying ages, along with a few ringers from local running clubs (some of whom I recognized from the South Jersey running circuit).

Stevie had already registered in advance, but I registered when we got there.  I was surprised that race-day registration was $35.  There was no music or fanfare of any kind, there were no aid stations on the course, and the only post race refreshments were bottles of water.  I don't mind a no frills race, but not when the price is that high.

9am came and we were told the police had not arrived and they needed 10 more minutes to finish getting ready.  The only bathroom available was a single portapotty a quarter mile away next to a baseball field, so 5 of us walked out there.  On our way back across the field, we heard a siren go off and saw they had started the race without us.  We swore it hadn't yet been 10 minutes, but even if it had, it hadn't occured to them to look across the field to see if anyone was using the bathroom and to wait for us.

So we trotted over to the starting mat so we could register our chips, but they were already dismantling it.  We tried to cross over it but were told rather brusquely, "you need to start now."  There was no explanation as to whether or not we would be timed.  So we just started running.

I pushed Neale in the stroller, Stevie ran beside me, and Stevie's friend Heather pushed her daughter in a stroller.  The police officer had showed up and was stopping traffic for us to cross the street.  The majority of the course was in a beautiful residential neighborhood, and I had fun with the novelty of running with a stroller and taking selfies, neither of which I ever do while racing.

We eventually came back to the same intersection with the police officer and a course marshall and were waved across the street back to the high school where we started.  As we approached the finish line, Heather's iPhone only read 2 miles.  At the finish line we explained that the course wasn't marked and the course marshall had sent us this way, but the same man from the starting line told us in the same tone as before, "no one else had a problem."  Ok, so we're either lying or you're calling us stupid.  Great.

We headed back onto the course so we could run the proper length and finished around 34 minutes, a PR for Stevie.

The disorganization and the rude tone of the man in charge left me with a bad taste in my mouth, but when all was said and done we still did a proper 5k distance, which was Neale's first race in the stroller and Stevie's and my first race running together the whole way.

I'd brought along a cooler with champagne, orange juice and glasses, and after running we all relaxed on the grass drinking mimosas.

Once again, happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2015

The strange case of Mr. Michael Rossi

Meet Mike Rossi:

Radio DJ, Philly-area runner, and recent viral sensation.

As seen in the picture above, Mr. Rossi recently ran the Boston Marathon.  He and his wife had taken his two elementary-aged children out of school to attend the weekend festivities, and when he returned home, he received the following letter from his children's principal:

This letter did not sit well with Mr. Rossi, who then published the following open-letter response on Facebook:

His letter definitely struck a nerve with the American populace, because it quickly made the rounds of social media and was picked up by the mainstream media.  Mr. Rossi was subsequently interviewed by national newspapers and tv programs alike.

People praised him for standing up to the school, which in turn sparked a conversation on parenting and the state of public schools in America.  Mr. Rossi became an instant folk hero with many dubbing him "Dad of the Year."

Only problem is, while Mr. Rossi was basking in the media attention, the principal who had sent the original letter started to receive attention of a different kind.  She received hundreds of threatening e-mails and middle-of-the-night prank calls from people who chose to focus on a simple form letter rather than her lifelong dedication to children and education.

Her son eventually came to her defense, writing an impassioned letter to stop the madness. To his credit, Mr. Rossi also called for a cease fire regarding the principal.

This all would have died down shortly thereafter were it not for the passionate crew of running nerds over at  Someone looked into the race he ran to qualify for Boston - a 3:11 performance at the Via Marathon in Lehigh, PA - and raised the suspicion that he had likely cheated.

The accusation stems from two main pieces of evidence:
  1. Professional photographers were stationed at several points along the course, yet Rossi appears in only the finish line photos.
  2. None of his other race results of varying distance support his ability to hold a 7:17 pace over 26.2 miles.
In addition, the Via Marathon only employs timing mats at the start and finish, meaning he could have exited the course and reentered down the line without anyone knowing.  Mr. Rossi's reaction upon running such an outlier race and qualifying for Boston for the first time also seems curious.  Normally one to splash his accomplishments everywhere online, he was almost silent after his big accomplishment.

Mr. Rossi has since shut down or made private all of his social media accounts, and refuses to provide any evidence that he ran an honest race that day in Lehigh.  The race director has called on the USATF to assist in a full investigation in the matter, which could result in his disqualification from both the Via Marathon and the Boston Marathon, and a lifetime ban from both.

The turns this story has taken have been fascinating, and it raises numerous questions about our sport: Why do some people cheat?  How do they cheat, and how can this be prevented in the future?  If the person cheating is some Joe Schmo who isn't winning awards, does it really matter?  Is such a thorough investigation and punishment necessary?

While I don't think the evidence is outright conclusive, I do think there is a strong probability that he cheated, and that makes me sad.  It is simply beyond me how anyone could cheat, especially when there is no money involved.  When I didn't get into Boston the first time, there is no way I would have cheated to get in.  Instead, it only made me want to train harder and officially make it in.  I never could have lived with myself if I ran the Boston Marathon without having earned it.

It seems ironic that Mr. Rossi purposefully sought out the spotlight in dealing with his children's principal, and that same spotlight brought him into this current mess.  It is my sincere hope that Mr. Rossi gets what he deserves, be that redemption and an apology from his accusers, or the aforementioned disqualification and lifetime ban.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A walk in the park

The family and I drove out to Wissahickon Valley Park today, an amazing park about 45 minutes away and within the Philadelphia city limits.

It was the same park where Stevie and I went on a date back in 2011, before we were even technically dating.

We spent about two hours walking the trails and taking in the scenery while Neale observed the world from his perch on Stevie's back.

We hope to lead by example and model a healthy and active lifestyle for Neale, so it's great to get out and explore the world with him from an early age.  As much as I love the age he's at right now, I can't help but look forward to all of the adventures that await us.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April mileage

January: 197
February: 231
March: 281

April: 121.2

April saw a significant decrease in mileage due to tapering for and recovering from the Boston Marathon towards the middle of the month.

I'm still streaking and I'm still pushing along in my quest to hit 2,015 miles this year.  I'm very optimistic that it will happen.

I'd like to up the mileage again in May in preparation for aa few races I'm signed up for in June.  Nothing major on the horizon; just a half and a few shorter distances.
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