Monday, February 28, 2011

Movie Monday IV

This is a video featuring robotic British voices, a pop culture addicted prat, and a slightly smug marathoner (sound familiar?).  There are hundreds of these types of videos on YouTube on a plethora of subjects, and they're so popular right now because they're easy to make and very subject specific.  Anyone who has run a marathon should nod knowingly at this conversation:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lazy Sunday

Attempted 16 miles today, but wasn't able to finish.  The weather was perfect - 55 degrees and sunny - but my body just wasn't up for it.

So I went on the roof to drink Gatorade and feel sorry for myself.

Can't wait for February to end.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Run angry

For many, running is about control.  Because let's face it, there is little I can control in my life.  I can't control gas prices, I can't control whether or not people like me, I can't control the traffic jams I get stuck in, and I certainly can't control Governor Christie and his anti-teacher shenanigans up in Trenton.

But I can control running.  I can control where I run, when I run, how long I run, how hard I run, and with whom I run.

So what to do when the world presses in and the conditions of my life make me so angry I want to lock myself in my room and punch holes in the wall?  Lace up the sneakers and start exerting control in the best way possible: by pounding out a few sweaty miles.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Back in the UAE

I want to meet the lonely guy sitting at his computer in the United Arab Emirates who stumbled across my blog and ask him why he never visited again.

"It is clear you lack passion, my American friend," he might say.

"Touché," I would reply.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Passion

In the novel Brave New World, Bernard, a stunted, recalcitrant member of the alpha class, laments his decision to bed his luscious co-worker Lenina.  This is a predicament, mind you, that not many men would mind having, but Bernard inhabits a world in which people are conditioned from childhood to conform.  Everyone belongs to everyone in Bernard's world.  Independence and ambition are scorned, whereas immediate gratification is encouraged and any unpleasant emotions suppressed by drug use.  All in the name of maintaining a base of happy workers.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Bernard confesses his thoughts to Lenina the following afternoon in a tirade against the conditioning, the programming, they've experienced all their lives.  "'I want to know what passion is,' she heard him saying.  'I want to feel something strongly.'"

Let me ask you this, in light of this literary reference: have you felt like you've programmed yourself to run?  Like the passion is gone, leaving nothing to do but stumble about South Jersey like a drugged up automaton in a brave new world?  I find myself going into this marathon next month with a distinct lack of passion, and it's killing me.  I'm not even signed up yet, because after so many lackluster runs this winter, I don't even know if I can complete a marathon at this point without hurting myself.  I couldn't even get myself out the door tonight.  I ate Chinese food instead.

My favorite marathon quote: "If people were possessed by reason, running marathons would not work.  But we are not creatures of reason.  We are creatures of passion." - Noel Carroll

I have felt passion countless times in my life, most notably last fall when I concentrated every fiber of my being into qualifying for Boston and watched it pay off.  Is it wrong to expect passion with each footfall, each fleeting strike of the pavement?  Is it wrong to assume the passion is gone in the middle of a dull stretch of winter?  Should I stop reading Aldous Huxley?


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Either I have too much time on my hands, or I really am the most awesome person alive.  You decide.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Adidas running ads

I believe it was in the late 90's when Adidas unleashed this ad campaign, which apparently was super successful and won all kinds of industry awards.  There were a slew of pictures that spoke to the running experience, pictures that were unlikely to recruit new runners, but caused those of us with experience to nod our heads and chuckle vigorously.

These are the best kinds of ads, because even if I never buy a pair of Adidas running shoes (haven't yet), I still associate these pictures with good memories, and Adidas slips right into the subconscious with those memories.  If I don't buy the shoes, at least I have positive associations with the brand.

Below are my three favorite pics from the bunch.

I love her expression: wtf?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Movie Monday III

One of the shortest videos in the Movie Monday series, in this clip Doogie Howser explains how to run a marathon with genius simplicity.  God knows we've all felt that way at some point in a marathon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Strength training

I usually back up pretty close to the wall outside of my apartment when I park. Sometimes, though, I forget I have something in the back, and I can't open the hatch when it's too close.  When that happens, I throw Black Betty in neutral and get in a little impromptu strength training by pushing it forward.

Works like a charm.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Batten down the hatches

Running along the Cooper River today:

Hard to tell, but those white spots on the river are legit whitecaps.  Wind gusts clocked in at 48mph, ranking a 9 on the Beaufort Scale and earning the classification: "strong gale."

At least the snow is gone, right?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Runner's High article

Things I learned from this article in the New York Times:
  1. Endorphins can be described in layman's terms as "the body's home-brewed opiates."
  2. Endorphins increase after prolonged exercise, but the molecules are too big to pass the "brain-blood barrier," and may not be the cause of the Runner's High after all.
  3. Scientists believe endocannabinoids are responsible, which were first studied in an attempt to understand marijuana's effect on the body.
  4. It is possible to breed mice without endocannabinoid receptors, which make them not want to run as much.
Things that make you go hmm...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Boston changes the rules

We all knew this was coming, and here it is:

Rumors that the Boston Athletic Association would amend its qualifying times for the legendary Boston Marathon came true today, according to an article in the Boston Globe.  Following last October's record breaking sell-out in eight hours, the BAA has introduced what it calls "rolling admission" for 2012, and stricter qualifying times for 2013 and beyond.

Registration for the 2012 marathon will open on September 12, 2011, but only to those who cleared their age and gender group's qualifying time by 20 minutes or more.  On September 14th, registration will open to those who qualified with ten minutes or more to spare, on September 16th 5 minutes, and finally on September 19th runners with any qualifying time will be allowed to register.  In 2013, in addition to this new system of "rolling admission," qualifying times in all genders and age groups will be shortened by 5 minutes.  For example, a 45-year-old woman who previously had to run a marathon in 4 hours to qualify must now run in 3:55.

One of the biggest criticisms of the old system lay in the gender inequality. While a male in my age group had to finish in 3:10, the time for women in my age group was 3:40.  Female elites typically post times between 15 - 20 minutes behind the male elites, so it is generally agreed that a thirty minute gap in qualifying times is unnecessary.  Boston officials had the opportunity to address this issue with the new changes, but apparently did not see the need to do so.

As for the new system, the biggest complaint seems to be that registration opens in September, long before any of the major fall marathons which thousands of people have traditionally used to qualify.  The bandits and the charity runners have also provoked the ire of Boston hopefuls, and I hate to say that I agree.  If you complain that you could never qualify for Boston but never bother to try, then RUN SOMEWHERE ELSE.  If you're a charity runner, good on ya for raising so much money.  But still, run somewhere else too.  Run illegally somewhere else, raise money somewhere else, and leave Boston for those who actually worked to get there.

What does this mean for me?  In all likelihood, it could mean I won't be running Boston in 2012 afterall.  Under this new system, I may never get to run it.  Even if I run a 2:59 someday, which is probably at the outer limits of my abilities, it still only buys me two extra days ahead of all general registrants.  With demand steadily increasing each year, that may not be enough time.

Today, I may have watched my dreams of running Boston go down the drain. Quite disheartening, really.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Interview: Wayne Partenheimer

Meet my dad:

My dad displays some of his old marathon medals
64-year-old father, grandfather, husband, brother, son, lawyer, blogger, avid traveler, avid soccer fan, and, most relevant to this blog, former marathoner.

He's run New York four times, Philadelphia twice, and Marine Corps once, with a PR of 3:51.  He is the main reason I am now addicted to marathons, and there is no doubt it is a large bond we share. Even though I've heard them countless times, I still enjoy talking shop with him and hearing his old running stories.  He's come out to support me in nearly every large race I've ever done, even running portions of some with me.

I e-mailed him some questions about his life in running, and here are the answers:

How did you get into running?

Obviously I ran a lot as a soccer player through high school and college.  I also played soccer in the Army and when I was stationed in Korea I ran a bit to stay in shape.  I continued running a mile or so at a time a few days a week in graduate school and then in law school.  It gradually increased when I graduated from law school.

How did you get into running marathons?

It was just a natural progression from running two miles to three, to doing a four-mile race to longer races.

What was your favorite marathon moment?

Crossing the finish line in Central Park at my first marathon - 1980 New York Marathon in 3:58:56.

What was your least favorite marathon moment?

Throwing up after finishing one New York Marathon over four hours, then passing out in the hotel elevator.

What do you like about running?

When my doctor looks at my test results at my annual physical, smiles, and says, "I love runners."

What do you dislike about it?

Watching the Glory Days and your PR's fade into the past.

How has running changed in the several decades you've been doing it?

The commercialism of the big races, such as the Distance Run becoming the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.  The technology.  I never had a chip in any marathon I ran.  The number of "slower" marathoners.

What keeps you getting out the door for a run?

Knowing that at my age, if I stop for a week it will take 3 weeks to get back into it.  And when your father had four heart attacks and your mother one, you feel like you're running for your life.

What advice would you give to current marathoners?

Start slow, then ease off.  Run like an antelope out of control.  Seriously: stick with your plan, run with a group if you can, and listen to your body.

You wake up early every Saturday to run with a group.  How long have you been with them?

About 25 years, maybe more.

How did you start running with them?

I can't even remember.  I think Harry Turse told me about the group when we lived in Medford and I went out one Saturday.

Anything else to add in regards to running?

The health benefits are obvious, but the social benefits are there as well.  I've made a lot of good friends over the years and had a lot of good times.  And when I can't run anymore, I'll walk.

My dad's first marathon - the 1980 NYC Marathon

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie Monday II

This next video has some of the best filming/editing of any running video I've ever seen.  It focuses mostly on the 2010 New York City Marathon, with a few training shots as well.  It's all set to the Killers'  "All These Things That I've Done," and is inspiring in that it keeps my mind occupied on long runs, wondering what epic footage a professional videographer could come up with were he to follow me around.

I can't believe this video has only been viewed some 500 times!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Let me know if this is weird

Ran my favorite running route tonight, one that I've been doing for years now. It's my favorite route because it incorporates hills, wooded trails, residential streets, the business district of the town where I used to live, and it left from my front door when I lived there.  It's 8 miles, which I usually cover in just over an hour, so it's challenging and rewarding without feeling like a death march.

Early in my running days I found myself running the same streets over and over in what was becoming an established route.  I realized this route inadvertently passed the houses of three former girlfriends/crushes from high school.  I decided to tweak the route a little and add two more to the route, and dubbed the result "The Broken Hearts Loop."  This is now my favorite route, the very one I ran tonight.

So... is this weird?  Creepy?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Princeton Cupid's Chase 5k

Kathleen ran the first race of her life today here in Princeton, NJ, the Cupid's Chase 5k.  Her goal was to break 40 minutes, and she finished in 39:56. Because it was her first 5k, she automatically ran a PR!  Kudos to Kathleen for setting a goal and meeting it, and for giving it her all these past few weeks.

As Kathleen's friend Lauren pointed out, "one race down, and a lifetime to go."

About to finish

The gimmick of this race series, held in 10 states around the U.S. today, is that runners wear red shirts if they are single and looking, and white shirts if they are unavailable.  Despite being given a free pass to do so, I still couldn't be that guy wearing the shirt of the actual race.

The race began with about 300 people lined up on the partially blocked street outside of a strip mall.  A NJ State Senator began the race with a countdown and a starting gun, but not before someone in the crowd yelled out, "take your shirt off and put it on Facebook!" an uncouth reference to Chris Lee.

"How disrespectful," commented Kathleen.  "Disrespectfully awesome."

I finished the race in a respectful(ly awesome) 20:45.  Pretty far off the 19:26 I ran last May, but considering this is the first race of the season and we're still in frigid February, I'll take it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

At the gym

Here's a fact about me: I don't belong to a gym.  If I had the extra cash and lived close enough to a good one, I might be inclined to join, but neither is the case right now.

I refuse to let this deter me, however.  Too many people these days are convinced the only way to get in shape is to join a gym, go to classes, and maybe hire a personal trainer.  What a waste of money!  In my opinion, with a little creativity and will power, I can get just as good a workout outside the gym. I call this the Rocky IV influence.  It's why I go running in snowstorms and am the only adult that frequents playgrounds without a child in tow (monkey bars are good for pullups). Pretty soon I'll be lifting oxcarts in Siberia.

But when it's free, it's another story.  That's how I ended up at a gym in Center City Philadelphia last night.  My good friend Amy's roommate just got a job teaching a fitness class there, and we were told we could attend free of charge.

We started out on a 45 minute TRX routine, which involves ropes attached to the wall, from which the participant contorts him or herself into all manner of positions.  The person's body position relative to the wall dictates the difficulty level of the particular exercise.  In short, it's full body strength training using nothing more than ropes and a wall.

Amy and I doing TRX

We followed this with 20 minutes of spinning to the likes of Rihanna and Maroon 5, during which I sweated buckets all over the floor and bike.

The class was a different world for me.  Working out with others?  Indoors? With music?  When asked what I thought of the class, I responded that I enjoyed the change in routine and the chance to crosstrain, but for now I still prefer my long, outdoor runs and playground workouts.  This is probably because it's simply what I'm used to, and with time, I'm sure I could adapt to a gym routine.

But only if it's free, of course.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Like father, like son

From last Sunday's dinner at Spring House Tavern with my grandmother:

My dad and I did not plan to dress alike.  We didn't plan to pose exactly alike, either.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as the saying goes...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I'm after the runner's high tonight, charging through the cold and dark of February.  Down crowded Haddon Avenue.  Along familiar Cuthbert Boulevard.  A sharp left past the Shell gas station onto MacArthur Boulevard.  Suddenly the chase takes an abrupt turn into Saddler’s Woods, little more than a modest stand of oak trees amidst a sea of South Jersey suburban sprawl.
I almost didn't make it out tonight.  The temperature plummeted by twenty-five degrees this afternoon, and the windchill has further tugged at the mercury, mercilessly dragging it into what feels like polar conditions.

It was the usual litany of runners’ excuses: I'm too tired; I'm too hungry; I don't feel like it; but above all, it's too cold.  The wind buffeted my windows for hours before my good sense finally triumphed; I have a marathon to prepare for, after all.  At six o’clock I bashed headlong into the gale outside my apartment, wondering how long I would make it tonight.
The woods, however modest in scale, still beckon mysteriously like only a body of trees can.  With little idea of where I’m headed, and nothing more than a crescent moon to light the way, I turn off the sidewalk and ease myself onto the snow-packed trail.
My face instantly meets the fingers of an errant branch, leaving scratches on my nose.  Moments later my feet are soaked in a large puddle whose darkness I mistook for solid ground.  I lose the trail entirely at points as I dodge, duck, weave and jump through the terrain.  In patches where the snow has turned to ice, my legs swing to and fro like those of an Irish stepdancer.  
I compose the first few lines of this post in my head: I'm after the runner's high tonight... I finally fall hard and add a scrape to my knee, and the words scramble.  Wait, what am I after?

Yet I realize it’s been months since I’ve been on a run this good.  The Christmas season, followed by a nasty cold, a trip to Peru and a lackadaisical winter training regimen have all curtailed the edge I cultivated for Philly.  It’s been something I’ve missed on my well-worn, boring running routes, and have longed to regain.  
Now my breathing and pace are steady, the challenge of this “forest” exhilarating.  The snow crunches beneath my pounding feet, and the moon shines weakly through the branches, blending everything in an eery mix of shadows.  The air feels colder still.  I stiffly open my hands and squeeze them shut to make sure I can still feel them.
I almost didn’t make it out tonight... I continue composing in my head.  The trail continues to its vanishing point where I can just make out a group of houses.  It dumps me in someone’s backyard where I fling myself over a fence, and another, until I careen out the driveway onto a residential road I’ve never seen before.  I have no idea where I am.
Twenty minutes later I compose the final lines of this post.  I’m at the intersection of Cuthbert Boulevard and Hopkins Avenue, where the quiet residential street meets the one laden with strip malls, hairdressers and pizza parlors.  This is where I finally catch up with the runner’s high.
Left will deliver me back to my doorstep in a matter of minutes.  Right will send me back for another lap through the icy, uncompromising woods.  

I turn right.
I want to keep going.

Inspecting the damage post run - not as bad as I thought.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Saw this gem on a kid at school yesterday:

While I can certainly appreciate a kid wearing a cross country sweatshirt, in addition to its endorsement of speed, as a teacher I take umbrage at the egregious spelling involved. Not to mention the rather haphazard choices in capitalization.

File this under: Are you goddamn kidding me?


No wonder kids these days can't spell.


If you don't see the spelling mistake you are one of them.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Movie Monday

Last fall, in addition to becoming obsessed with running blogs, I became obsessed with running videos.  I found a few good ones and would like to share one every Monday.

I'll start out with my all-time favorite: a compilation of deeply personal reasons to run, each reason with an accompanying clip of a great moment in running, all set to a slow, haunting track by Moby.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

5 miles

Knocked out an easy 5 miler today.  The sun was out, the temps were up, slush puddles had receded (slightly)... all in all a nice day for a winter run here in South Jersey.

Only one problem: I'm planning on running the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, which takes place on March 20th.  While I'm not in terrible shape right now, I'm not exactly in the same shape I was last fall.

Long story short: if I'm going to stand a chance at this marathon, I need to ratchet up the mileage.

PS - Read my dad's take on this blog here.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I finally updated my resume to reflect my recent spate of fall marathons, in addition to my upgrade to Boston Qualifier.

An ex-girlfriend of mine would have preferred the phrase "completed seven marathons" as opposed to "seven-time marathon finisher," but I think the point gets across either way.  Marathoners are goal-oriented, extremely dedicated, and demonstrate perseverance and long term planning abilities. Marathoners are models of physical fitness and strength of character.  I believe these are all characteristics that would impress a would-be employer, hence the mention on my resume.

If anything, as my dad points out, if the interviewer is a runner or knows someone who is, it's a good icebreaker.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thug life

Recently my girlfriend, Kathleen, has decided to take up running, and I couldn't be more proud. She aims to complete her first 5k on February 12th, and her first half marathon in November.

Unfortunately, recurring hip problems have left members of her family skeptical, and they tend to discourage her efforts, if only because they're afraid she'll get hurt.  I have told her that she knows her body better than anyone else, and as long as she listens to it and uses common sense when running and addressing injuries, she should be fine.  And shoot, I might be biased, but I think any injuries will long be eclipsed by the overall benefits of running.

In the meantime, at least her older brother seems to be coming around, even if he's going all thug on me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Running in February

This time of year I'll take running in 20 degree weather as opposed to 40.  Why? Because when the temperature rises like it did today, the snow starts melting and I have to leap over giant slush puddles for five miles.

I think I'll still take it over running on a treadmill, though.

The hard work...

Some have asked what my training looked like last fall.  In case you're wondering, it went down like this:

The Week in Running (October)

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday: 11 miles
Thursday: Speed work and stadium stairs
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 22 - 26 miles

In August and September I very gradually built myself up to this level.  The three weeks in November were a gradual taper.

Runs were usually followed with some variation of the following: pushups, situps, lifting bricks, pullups, tricep dips, planks, and jumping rope.

One of my Sunday runs in October was the Atlantic City Marathon.  I took it easy and just treated it like a training run, but the race atmosphere was great mental preparation for Philly.

Food and Drink

I ate A LOT last fall.  There were times when I would down a 12" Subway Sub and two glasses of milk and 15 minutes later wouldn't feel anything in my stomach.  Strangers would come up to me at my local sandwich shop and comment on the size of the salad I'd made myself from the salad bar.

I tried to get in as much variety as I could: fish, poultry, eggs, yogurt, salad, fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, etc.  My go-to dinner was usually some kind of chicken and vegetable dish, or pasta with vegetables.  I ate a lot of fruit too, and drank inhuman quantities of skim milk (nothing new there, actually).

I completely cut out alcohol from September 28th - November 21st, and soda from October 1st - November 21st.  I almost completely cut out junk food and fast food.  I did not cut out desserts like cookies, cake or ice cream.  I didn't want to drive myself completely crazy.


I was incredibly lucky in that I never injured myself.  The worst was a slight strain in the calf, which felt fine after two days of ice/rest.

In the end, I can't stress enough that it's all about the hard work.  I didn't follow an online training plan.  I never ran with a training partner or group.  I never went to a store to get my pronation checked.  I can tell you my shoes are Nike and that's it.  I never spent $200 on a Garmin; didn't even use a watch for the majority of my training as my old one broke during a run.  I never kept a training log. When the weather got bad I didn't head to the gym because I don't belong to one.  I never relied on music to get me through runs because I don't own an iPod.  Nothing against any of these things, but my point is they aren't as essential as you think.

In short, I kept it old school by focusing on the running and not much else. That's the best advice I can give: focus on the running, and tune everything else out. Only the hard work will make you a better runner.

And possibly give you six-pack abs for the first time in your life.  Just sayin'.
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