Saturday, July 19, 2014

Running in Ocean City


Stevie and I drove to Ocean City today for a surfing competition at the 7th Street Beach. Neither of us are quite at the point of competition, so we just watched from the beach.  I had brought all of my running stuff with me and before long I headed out on an 8 miler.  Some notes:

  • Weather was near perfect.  Cloudy and temperature around 70 degrees.  Very humid so I still got pretty sweaty.
  • I like to run barefoot on the beach, but not for 8 miles.  So I brought my shoes and ran mostly on the boardwalk and sidewalks.
  • At the start of my run I came upon a man in his sixties.  I tried to pass him, but when I sped up, he did too.  On my third or fourth attempt to pass him, he yelled, "your pace is killing me!"  Apparently he often tries to keep up with faster runners when out running because he's too lazy to keep up the pace on his own.  After about two miles together, we parted ways, and he thanked me for pacing him.
  • After running I went to the boardwalk and got two slices of Manco and Manco pizza, a birch beer, and funnel cake.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday night Who's Up?

Another 7 sweaty miles with Who's Up? over at the Haddonfield Running Company tonight. The guy who normally takes pictures for our Facebook page was not there, so I stepped up as photographer.  It was also my turn to bring the beer.  


Last time I brought two six packs of German beer.  Tonight I brought a whole smorgasbord of random beers taking up space in my fridge.


During the school year I have to get up at 6am for work, so I normally cut out after one beer. But seeing as I'm off in the summer and have nowhere to be in the morning, I stuck around a little longer tonight.

After hanging out at the store for awhile, a few of us who remained went to a local Mexican place for burritos.


Another great night of running and beer.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Running in Minnesota

Just as I sometimes find myself in Florida on account of Stevie's family, so do I sometimes make it out to the Gopher State to see my sister where she lives just outside of the center of St. Paul.  I don't get out here enough to see her or my nephews, so it's nice when I'm able to make the trip and get in some family bonding time.

It's been an action packed weekend filled with a trip to the Summit Brewery, time at a massive playground called Chutes and Ladders, relaxing by a lake, and watching the World Cup final.

Of course there was some running, as well.

Scenes from this morning's run:

Cathedral of St. Paul with the State Capitol in the distance.

19th century brewery recently renovated into artist lofts.

Schmidt's Brewery

At my sister's house.  Summer beard making a comeback.

























8 gorgeous miles in and around St. Paul, retracing some of the steps of the Twin Cities Marathon I ran here in 2007, but mostly just exploring Kirsten's neighborhood.  It was an amazing morning for running: 60 degrees with a light wind and no humidity.  And tonight it's back to the unbearable heat of running in New Jersey.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Runner's World Cover Contest

Runner's World is running a contest to find one male and one female cover model for their December issue.



I've often thought that if teaching didn't work out, I could fall back on a modeling career.  So I decided to take the time to enter.

All entrants are required to answer, in 100 words or fewer, the following questions:

  1. How did you start running?
  2. What is the personal running accomplishment you are most proud of?
  3. Why is running important to you?

I obviously enjoy writing and consequently enjoyed the challenge of trying to summarize my thoughts on these three questions.

I know the whole thing is a longshot, but it can't hurt to try.  The winners will be determined mostly by a panel of Runner's World editors, but the general public can also peruse the candidates and vote for their favorite.  There are some pretty cool stories from inspiring and athletic people.

If you'd like to vote for me, click here.   Voting ends August 15th, and you can vote every day until then.  Unfortunately it seems you need to be hooked into the Matrix have an account on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook in order to vote.

If you're a runner and want to enter yourself, click here.

Happy running, friends, and thanks for reading/voting!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer update

Stevie and I are moving from our apartment above the fire extinguisher shop to a duplex.  It's about a mile away and in the same town.

This has involved lowering our couches out of the living room window, which the patrons of the coffee shop below filmed with their smart phones just in case something went spectacularly wrong.  I'll miss living on the main street of our town.


Meanwhile, we've officially become regulars at the Irish Mile as the waitstaff all know us now.  We've been there for every single USA game as well as several others, including yesterday's Germany-Brazil smackdown.





















Tomorrow I'm headed to Minnesota to visit my sister and her family.  Hopefully it will be a little cooler there and I can get some more running in.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th, y'all

Rooftop cookout at sunset to celebrate the 4th.  Dill pickle soup, burgers, beer, and fruit with cool whip for dessert.  Perfect view of our town's fireworks at the end.







Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wednesday night

Another group run with the local chapter of Who's Up?  One of the guys likes to document the weekly run to post to our Facebook page, so we get a picture of the beer and a group picture each week.

Tonight Bane decided to join us for the run:


Actually that's a guy who is training for the World's Toughest Mudder in November.  The mask simulates the difficulty of breathing at altitude, and for tonight's run he had it set to 15,000 feet. I think this was also his third run of the day.  And people say marathoners are crazy.

He finished 74th last year out of several hundred competitors, and is aiming to finish in the top 20 this year.

There was a time when I was thinking of trying to qualify for the World's Toughest Mudder.  But now they've done away with qualifying so that anyone can sign up, which strangely eliminates the appeal for me.  They've also moved it from NJ to Las Vegas which would make it much more expensive for me.  The third nail in the coffin is that it is now the same weekend as the Philly Marathon.

Guess I'll stick to marathoning.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 running goals update

We're now halfway through the year, so let's check in on the resolutions I made for 2014 and see how I'm doing.


1. Run 2,014 miles.  In progress.  I'm a little under 1,000 right now, so technically I'm behind, but I think a few more 200 mile months should do the trick.

2. Make more running friends.  In progress.  I've joined both the South Jersey Athletic Club as well as a Wednesday night running and beer group and am slowly getting to know everyone involved.

3. Run a Tough Mudder with friends.  Uncompleted.  I'm kind of over mudruns for the moment, so this one is looking unlikely.

4. Run a spring marathon.  Uncompleted.  Had my eye on the Providence Marathon but in the end I just wasn't able to make it happen.

5. Run my first ultra.  Completed.  Ran the Dirty German Endurance Fest 50k right here in Philadelphia on May 18, 2014.

6. Run across the state of NJ.  Uncompleted.  I probably should have done this last spring when I was at my highest mileage, but I didn't get it done.  Hopefully this fall.

7. Run a sub 3:00 marathon.  Uncompleted.  If I am to do this, it would be this fall at the Philly Marathon.

8.  Run a beer mile.  Completed.  Good time and relatively easy as it took less than an hour out of my day.

9. Complete my first triathlon.  Uncompleted.  Dropped the ball on this as I missed all of the spring triathlons.  Hopefully I can find one later this summer.

10.  PR my half marathon time.  Uncompleted.  If I am to do this, my best shot would be at the Rock n' Roll Half in Philly in September, but I am going to a wedding that weekend.  I'll have to find another one this fall.

11. Streak 2014.  In progress.  Haven't missed a day yet.


And how are your running goals going?

Monday, June 30, 2014

June mileage

January: 65
February: 131
March: 174
April: 201
May: 237



146 miles for June.  I had planned to scale back a bit to accommodate the end of the school year, the onslaught of summer heat, and to rest after an intense spring.

Here's hoping I can adjust to the heat enough to pick up the mileage again in July.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

At the drive-in

The drive-in was first invented in Camden, NJ in 1933, just down the road from where I live now.  Though the drive-in flourished in the 1950's with America's new addiction to the car and its first taste of disposable income, it has been in decline ever since the 1970's.  There remains but one drive-in in the entire state of New Jersey, The Delsea Drive-In down in Vineland, about a 45 minute drive away.

I try to make it there at least once every summer.  As I've mentioned before, I love movies, and love the drive-in even more.  When I drove across America in 2007, I went to as many as I could, and wrote about my experience at the Getty Drive-In in Michigan.

I love the atmosphere of kids playing in the waning light, the smell of the snackbar wafting over everything, watching a movie from the comfort of my own car, and just getting to experience a slice of Americana... I generally don't care what the drive-in is playing.  I'm in no matter what.

But last night was a special night:


The chance to see such a classic of American cinema, the original summer blockbuster, at a drive-in?!  It doesn't get better than that.

Oh wait, you mean the Delsea Drive-In does a double feature every night, and the second movie was Transformers: Age of Extinction?!



I was in heaven last night.

Brian, Alicia, Stevie and I arrived around 7:30, over an hour before sunset, and had dinner at the snackbar which has a surprisingly good selection.  We then played cards in the back of our car while waiting for the sun to set.



I had never actually seen Jaws in its entirety, and seeing it at a drive-in lived up to all my expectations.  One of the highlights of my summer so far.

Transformers... not so much.  I love big dumb explosion movies, but this one was pushing it even for me.  Save yourself the time and money and see something else.

Want to experience the drive-in yourself?  Check out the website www.driveintheater.com for a list of active drive-ins in your state.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pineland Striders Independence 10k Race Recap

10k out at my old stomping grounds in Medford, NJ this morning.

I had debated signing up for a long time because I'm trying to take it easy this summer and not burn myself out from running.  But the desire to compete pulled me out of bed and out to the Pine Barrens for one last hurrah.  The race consisted of a 5k and a 10k and a few hundred runners showed up.

Less than a half mile into the race, a giant moving truck started to back into the lead pack of runners.  It was pandemonium as they pounded on the back of the truck and yelled at the driver while the driver just laughed his head off at all of us.

The race ran by the camp where I used to work, into the neighborhoods of million dollar homes owned by Philadelphia professional athletes, and back into the Pine covered yards of more average-sized homes.

At the halfway point, one of the volunteers yelled at me that I was one place away from the top ten.  It awakened in me a sense of competition that, despite the sunburn from the previous day's surfing and the near burnout from running too much in the heat and humidity of the past few weeks, convinced me to pick up the pace.  I started to catch up with a few of the runners ahead of me.

The final half mile crossed open fields on the campus of Shawnee High School and finished on the track.  On the track I found one more runner and gave everything I had left to pass him in the homestretch.

Running fast hurts.  This is nothing new to most people.  Taking it slow today and telling myself that it's just a small local race would have been easy, but it's the feeling at the end of the race that I am addicted to.  Getting up super early for races is not fun.  Paying for races is not fun.  The pain of trying to keep up an uncomfortable pace is not fun.  But when I've just crossed the finish line, and I'm keeled over sucking in air like I just might die, knowing I raced as best I could, well, that is why I do these races.

I must have passed 5 guys in the second half of the race, and finished in 9th place overall. Either that volunteer couldn't count, or he was simply trying to motivate me by flat out lying to me.  My cross country coach in high school used to do the same thing.

Stats:

43:12
9th overall (out of 99)
1st in age group

Met up with Elizabeth at the race, a woman I'd met a few years ago when we both won the Collingswood Book Festival 5k and received absurdly large trophies for such a small race:

2011 Collingswood Book Festival 5k winners

Elizabeth won the 5k, and though I won my age group today, we joked that I was slacking this year by only winning my age group and not the whole race.  Came so close to replicating the photo from 3 years ago!


I got a medal and a $35 gift certificate to the Haddonfield Running Company (redeemable with $70 purchase).

Overall a great race today, and one I can recommend!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Surfin' bird

Stevie and I went down the shore for the first time of the season today, and I finally managed to try surfing for the first time in my life.  Ocean City, NJ is not known for monster waves, so it's a nice place for beginners.


Took a lesson with 7th Street Surf Shop for an hour, then had the board for another half hour to myself.

When I was a ski instructor years ago, during my downtime I taught myself how to snowboard. I only ever got good enough to slowly make my way down blue trails.  Well... surfing was just as difficult.  Standing up and balancing were easy enough, but knowing how to read the waves and when to paddle and stand up were what made it so challenging.


There were brief moments when I could really see the appeal of surfing, when I felt so in tune with the water and my board, but it would probably take me an entire summer of practicing before I would start to enjoy it on a regular basis.

I'll probably try it again this summer, but for now, I'll just stick to running.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer 2014 No Frills Just Thrills Race #2

Second race in the South Jersey Athletic Club's "No Frills Just Thrills" Series tonight.  Last time was one lap around the Cooper at 3.65 miles.  Tonight was just under 2 laps for an even 10k.


Over one hundred runners started the race, but it ended up feeling a bit lonely on the course.  I only passed one or two runners throughout the race, and only one or two passed me.  I held my position almost the full race.

It was a tough race given the heat and humidity.  I don't normally race a lot in the summer, so being truly competitive at these races is proving challenging.

Stats:

42:24
13th overall.
2nd in my age group.

I once again won a pint glass.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Movie Monday: Beer Mile

In honor of my first beer mile the other day, here is a video of another beer mile.

Spoiler alert: he did considerably better than I did.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

USA vs. Portugal

Stevie and I have been living at the Irish Mile lately, a bar down the road from us that we have deemed our home for the World Cup.  We don't have cable at home, you see, and need some place to watch the games.

We've been going to as many games as we can, and once again met Brian and Alicia there for the USA game tonight.  It was once again a high energy crowd, especially once we tied the game, and even more so once we scored again to make it 2-1.

Genuine reaction over the second goal:


We got so into it that Brian knocked my beer over.  One of these games we'll learn to not waste our drinks.

But in the last thirty seconds of the game Portugal tied it with a brilliant header, taking away our automatic entry into the round of 16.  The entire bar deflated at once.  I may have seen some people crying.

This is why I'm not a regular sports fan.  Sure, I'll go to the occasional Phillies game, but I generally don't follow any professional teams.  Tonight was stressful/heartbreaking enough; I seriously couldn't take this crap every single year.

Here's hoping we fare better on Thursday...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My first beer mile

One of my 2014 running goals was to complete a beer mile.  I decided to do one today in order to celebrate the end of the school year.  You know, because nothing says celebration like running and beer and the possibility of hurling.

I tried to rope some people in to join me, but either I don't have cool enough friends, or the friends that I do have just don't share my idea of a good celebration.  I was by myself, then.

Stevie came along with me to document the absurdity that is a beer mile.

Before

After

The stats:

Location: Cooper River track, 4:30pm
Beer of choice: Budweiser
Time: 10:45

Some notes:

I had eaten a big breakfast to minimize the slosh effect that one encounters when imbibing 48oz of liquid, but may have overdone it.  I was still relatively full by this afternoon, and the carbonation just about killed me.  Thankfully I never puked, otherwise I would have incurred a penalty lap.

There were a lot of other people out on the track, including kids, and I felt a little weird blatantly chugging beer in front of them.  I guess the Cooper has seen worse.

10:45 is a horrible time in the world of the beer mile, but I was never very good at chugging beer.  I went to a college without a Greek system and hung out with radio and theater nerds the whole time.  Let's just say the need to learn how never arose.

And here's a video I made in order to give my readers the full experience:



Would I recommend a beer mile?  Hell yes.  Any readers out there want to race me?  Let me know!

Friday, June 20, 2014

School's out for summer

Last day of school today.  The last two weeks have been extremely painful.  The last two weeks always are.  4th marking period projects and tests need grading, grades need to be finalized, final exams need preparing and then grading, end-of-year paperwork needs filling out, and a lot of loose ends need tying up.  Throw in a few issues with parents, and suddenly committing myself to a nuthouse seems like a good idea.  There wouldn't be any beer there, so I soldier on instead.

But the other teachers and I prevailed and made it to the final day.  Exams are over, classes are over, and all that separates both the teachers and students from freedom is one half day in which students roam the building at will, clutching their yearbooks, spastically doling out hugs while the teachers make small talk of summer plans.

I had a small crew of regulars who hung out with me all day.  I have a white board with a rainbow of dry erase markers in my classroom, and any teacher knows that shit is like catnip to students with free time, especially excitable 15-year-old girls.  Among the things drawn/written on my board today:


Stevie was mad she didn't make the list.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Welcome to the Jungle

Miller Lite, Modelo, and Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy down at the Haddonfield Running Company tonight.  


Usually I have one beer after the run and then head out because I have to get up so early the next day.  But it was damn near a two beer kind of night tonight.  Easily the hottest day of the year so far, reaching the mid 90's.  I wouldn't have survived the run were it not for the cooler of water set up at the 5 mile mark and the thought of beer awaiting me at the finish.  When it gets this hot, I can't imagine wearing a shirt while running.



Apparently only one other guy shares that feeling.

A lot of talk tonight revolved around my upcoming beer mile.  It's one of my 2014 running goals, and I decided to run it this Saturday to celebrate the end of the school year.  I had posted on our Facebook group seeing if anyone wanted to join me, but while many seemed intrigued, no one committed.  Ah well, should still be fun.

Monday, June 16, 2014

USA vs. Ghana

Monday night beer with Brian and Alicia and the Mrs. down at the Irish Mile tonight.  Ghana vs. USA in our national team's first game of the tournament.

Reenactment of joy over USA's second goal

We barely had time to react to USA's first goal, seeing as it was 35 seconds into the match. Ghana tied it up in the second half, and when USA scored the game winning goal late in the game, the entire bar erupted into chants of "USA!  USA!"  I was pounding the table so hard I knocked half of our drinks over.

When the game ended, the bar then began singing "God Bless America" before someone put Springsteen's "Born in the USA" on the jukebox.  USA may not fair so well against Portugal or Germany, so I may not get another experience like this for the rest of the World Cup.  Glad I got a chance to tonight.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Do PR's expire?

One of my favorite running writers is Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and frequent contributor to Runner's World.  One of my favorite pieces of his is an article that appeared two years ago detailing his attempt, at the age of 46, to run a marathon PR.



He achieved that PR with a 3:09, and the resulting piece is a wonderful meditation on the inevitability of aging and the hard work required to reach one's goals.  
"The stars continue to wheel overhead, not caring much whether or not a 46-year-old man managed to run a marathon faster than he ever had before. But the only story we get to tell is our own, and my narrative will say: He was a runner, and as he got older, he got faster. He learned something about running, and about himself, and what was within his capabilities, and what wasn't; and about what was inevitable, and about what was not. In the end, I set my PR not because I trained this way or that, or drank soy milk rather than sports drink, but because I chose to do it.

You can, too."
It also helps that his goal race was the Philadelphia Marathon, a race that has grown near and dear to my heart since the first time I ran it in 2005.  I can see the curves in the roads he describes, those spectators, that art museum, and even my own future.  14 years from now I will also be a 46-year-old, short, stocky runner, probably running the Philly Marathon, probably chasing increasingly elusive PR's.

In subsequent bylines, Sagal was described as a 3:09 marathoner.  Until recently.  If you check his byline in more recent issues of Runner's World, it seems he has been downgraded to a 3:20 marathoner.  Did he downgrade himself, or was that Runner's World's doing?


Meanwhile, try to find any piece of writing that doesn't mention Amby Burfoot and his 1968 win at the Boston Marathon in the same breath.  It won't happen.  It could be an article on foot fungus or an obscure marathon in the Gobi Desert or a new type of sports drink, and if a soundbite from Burfoot appears, "winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon," or some variation thereof, is automatically appended to his name.

For the record, I have nothing against this.  Winning a major marathon, even before East African dominance, is something to be proud of.  Burfoot has definitely won bragging rights for life in my opinion, and certainly seems to exercise those rights.

But what about Sagal?  What about me?  What about every Joe Schmo who will never win a marathon but who busts his ass to achieve his own equivalent of Burfoot's Boston win?  Have we not also won bragging rights for life?

Mark Remy, author of the Runner's Rulebook, would have us believe that PR's do indeed expire, or at the very least require an asterisk.
"A PR has a shelf life of two years.  After that, it's still a PR - just with an asterisk.  That asterisk means adding a disclaimer, such as 'My PR is 3:05, but that was at Yonkers in 1980' or '... I ran that at Big Sur in 2003.'  Two years is an arbitrary cutoff, obviously, but the larger point remains: It's disingenuous to imply that you're still capable of running that PR, or something close to it, if you are clearly not."
I disagree.  My PR is a 3:03:05 from 7 months ago in Philly, but if I ran a marathon tomorrow, I wouldn't come close to that time.  Perhaps with 6 months of hard training I could surpass that mark, or I might never come close to it again.  Does that matter?  Is it really such a running faux pas if I fall into conversation with someone at a race or at my local running store and mention my PR, and he is the one to assume I could do so again?  Why should it matter whether my PR was 20 days ago or 20 years?  Who cares if I can never run a 3:03 again?  The point remains that I once ran a 3:03, and can therefore speak knowledgeably on the subject.

Like Burfoot, I worked hard for my marathon PR and should be able to mention it at will without regard for some ninny who may get confused as to my true current abilities.  Like Burfoot, Sagal should be able to slap that 3:09 on just about everything he owns, including his own articles.