Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I've never been into taking vitamins or dietary supplements of any kind, but my roommate left this behind when he moved out last summer, and I hate to let things go to waste.  I've been working my way through it and am thankfully almost finished.  I haven't noticed any difference, though, in appearance or overall feeling.

My roommate, incidentally, weighed 90 pounds soaking wet.  If he was trying to build muscle, or body mass of any kind, it didn't work on him either.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meanwhile, on the other side of town...

While I was racing out in Medford, my dad ran the Haddon Twp. Turkey Trot yesterday.  He ran in 33:54, good for 3rd place in his age group.

Dad and Debbie

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gobbler Run 5k

Ran the 5th annual Gobbler Run 5k this morning at Camp Ockanickon, the place where I worked for several years before becoming a teacher.  Camp is one of my favorite places in the world, so I try to get back a few times a year.

The course had to be changed at the last minute this year, and there were no course maps available, which may be why I ended up cutting the race short towards the end.  I was able to double back and find the correct path, and my error didn't affect my place in the standings.  I ended up finishing in 22:20, which is pretty slow for me, but camp is not a place to set a PR.  With its many hills and sharp turns and narrow trails, it is far from a fast course.

2nd place in my age group

After the race, a man approached me and asked, "is your name Scott?"  Turns out he's been following this blog since last March when we both raced in the Oddman, and he recognized me from the various pictures I've posted.

Thanks for reading, James, and congrats on winning our age group.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day, I have a lot to be thankful for.
  • I live in a nice apartment in a nice town.
  • I have a wonderful, supportive, gorgeous girlfriend.
  • I have money in the bank.
  • I have a challenging and rewarding job.
  • I am very healthy.
  • I can eat half my body weight in turkey and not gain weight.
  • I can spend Thanksgiving with family.

Meanwhile, at the dinner table:

Grandmother: I don't really care for pumpkin pie.
Dad: What are you, a communist?

My grandmother and McCar- I mean my dad.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2 dead at Philadelphia Marathon

I've started this entry more times than I can count, but nothing seems to properly convey how I feel about the deaths of two runners this past Sunday at the Philadelphia Marathon.

The facts: G. Chris Gleason, a 40-year-old experienced triathlete, and Jeffrey Lee, a 21-year-old Penn senior, died at the finish line.  Gleason died just short of the finish line of the full marathon in the midst of an attempt to break three hours, while Lee died after finishing the half marathon in 1:58.  Both were in good shape and had no known medical conditions that could have precipitated their deaths.

One theory for these and other deaths at marathons around the country is many runners' penchant for speeding up once the finish line is in sight, overexerting the body when it can least handle it. Another is ingesting too much caffeine in the form of energy gels during the race.  A third theory poses the idea that most, if not all of these runners, actually did have heart conditions that went unnoticed over the years, and the physical stress of race day exacerbated the conditions to the point of death.

I can't stop thinking of my own mortality, thinking of how horrible it must be to die within sight of the finish line, to come up short on a goal in the worst way possible.  I can't imagine how unfair it must seem when running is supposed to extend your life, not take it, and I can't stop pondering the confusion and resentment of the families involved.

Imagine the horror, then, should any of them come across this disgusting excuse for writing in today's Philadelphia Inquirer: 

Frank Fitzpatrick's article starts off with a fair question: "Two competitors died in the Philadelphia long distance races Sunday, and perhaps it's time to raise this serious question about marathons: why?"  The problem is, Fitzpatrick never bothers to offer a possible answer, most likely because he's just another out-of-shape schlub who can't begin to fathom what goes into training for and completing a marathon, and his journalistic curiosity does not extend to finding out.

The article then makes the ridiculous assertion that "after all, human beings were not built to go 26.2 miles at a clip," and only goes downhill from there.  In essence, Fitzpatrick uses the death of these two men as a launching point for lame jokes at the marathon's expense, including what Pheidippides would have tweeted had the technology existed in ancient Greece.  Seriously.  I'm all for a fair and balanced look at the marathon and possible reforms with the idea of making it safer, Mr Fitzpatrick, but let's save the comedy for your local Chuckle Hut, shall we?  In the end, the only thing your article proves is how much non-runners love to hate on the sport.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Barbara Laker's excellent and touching tribute to Lee and Gleason and the sport of running itself:

A runner herself, Laker discusses her own relationship to the sport while mourning the loss of two men taken before their time.  The closing paragraph captures everything I'm feeling in this moment:

"Every marathon has moments you never forget.  And last night, I couldn't stop thinking of the two men who died running down a dream.  I imagined the deep pain that their relatives and friends must feel.  Last night was supposed to be a time to celebrate, not mourn.  I don't know exactly why or how they died.  But I understood why they were out there."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Monday XXVII

A year ago today I attempted a BQ at the 2010 Philadelphia Marathon.  What happened that day remains one of the proudest moments of my life.  Despite all that happened afterwards with the changing of the Boston registration process, I can still look back on that day and recall the elation I felt when I crossed the finish line.

The video explains it all:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011 Philly Marathon

At 17th and Chestnut, around mile 6.

I went out to the Philly Marathon this morning to spectate.  Thousands upon thousands of strangers have been there for me in the past, so I thought I'd try to pay back the favor today.  I stood atop a newsstand for an hour yelling my head off, watching the progression from skinny, tank top-clad elites, to Boston hopefuls, to average Joes.  Everyone with something to prove.

I then headed over to the finish line near the art museum where I climbed a tree and watched the finish line for another hour.

My vantage point from the tree

Philly really needs to get its act together regarding the finish line.  On one side sits a barricade where people can stand and watch, but unless you're six feet tall or right at the front by the barricade, it's all but impossible to actually see the finish line.  On the other side of the street is a VIP tent which obviously blocks off any spectating possibilities.

The finish line was changed a few years ago presumably to incorporate the iconic art museum into finishers' photos, but I'd take bleachers full of screaming fans on either side of the street to finish a marathon over a pretty picture any day.

After sitting in the tree for awhile, I met Amy who had been planning on running the half marathon until she incurred an injury a mere week ago.  She was bummed, like I was, to not be running today, but we both agree that there is always next year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Philly Marathon Expo

It's Marathon Weekend here in Philly, and that means a trip to the expo with Suze.

On the count of three, say "we're not running it!"

The expo has come a long way since the first time I ran this marathon in 2005.  Back then it was a small tent set up at Eakins Oval just outside the art museum.  It was so small that people had to wait in a line outside to get in.  Nowadays the expo takes up an entire hall of the Philadelphia Convention Center, and seems to get bigger every year.

Suze signed up awhile ago but since had to drop out due to injuries.  She still wanted to pick up her race packet though, figuring that she had paid for it and might as well.

Sad to not be using the bib tomorrow.

At least she had something to pick up.  Which prompted this picture:

After packet pick up, we walked around and checked out the many vendors; everyone from shoe companies to headphones that don't come out when running, to ING Financial Services, to Volkswagen,  to other races all over the country promoting their events, to a kitchen renovation company - everyone wants in on the running boom.

On the one hand, I'm tempted to turn my nose up at the commercialism heaped on such a simple sport, but on the other hand, I have to admit that it gets me excited again and has made me want to sign up for another major race as soon as possible.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Born to run (with shoes)

I finally read this book recently:

I understand why it's been such a big hit in the running community.  It's equal parts travel narrative, sports commentary, history lesson and memoir all rolled into a well written book, and it took me all of two days to read it.  Good thing I don't have anything better to do.  

Hello, Sarcasm.

McDougall's book has helped drive the barefoot running movement, so much that the makers of Vibram Fivefingers should throw him an annual party to thank him.  As it turns out, the sections detailing the advantages of barefoot running were nearly taken out, but McDougall's editor convinced him to keep them in.  McDougall should throw his editor an annual party to thank him.

Several years after the publication of his book, author McDougall is still at it.  In the following video, he gives a brief tutorial on a long lost method of running that should help eliminate injuries that often plague distance runners.  He instructs them to remove their shoes, then runs them through some basic movements to improve their strides and footfalls.

Having read the book, as well as numerous articles and blog entries on barefoot running, I'm more conscious of the way I run, and I'm convinced McDougall would have a field day analyzing my gait. I propel myself with a long stride while landing on my heel and rolling through on the outside of my foot.  It may not be proper, but as I've said before, if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.  With no major injuries in my time running, no point on changing things now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Do Life

None other than Ben Davis himself has made it onto the cover of this month's Runner's World. You'll recall Mr. Davis as the founder of the Do Life Movement whom I've written about a few times before.

While at school today, I noticed a pair of students in my study hall reading Runner's World.  I approached them and told them all about Ben and Do Life and that they should check out his video when they get a chance.  Then came the kicker:

I remembered I was wearing my Do Life shirt at the time, so I went all Superman on them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Movie Monday XXVI

I'm finally finished the run of Jesus Christ Superstar.  The show ran for a total of twelve performances over four weekends, culminating in a standing room only show this past Saturday night.  It was stressful having to dedicate so much time to a show, but as always, the people made up for it.  More than the show, I will miss the people involved.

During most shows, someone films one night from the back row, and then that footage is never seen again.  Occasionally still photos will make their way onto Facebook, but that's about it in terms of recording the show.  I wanted to change that during this run, and decided I would film as much as I could and then turn that footage into a highlights reel.  On closing night this past weekend, I gave everyone in the show a copy of the highlights reel so they can remember all of the hard work that was put in, in addition to the numerous shenanigans that went on backstage.

And for you, dear reader, I present to you that same highlights reel of Jesus Christ Superstar:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sunset Blvd.

This week was characterized by a series of gorgeous sunset runs through the streets of Haddon Twp. and Collingswood.

The truth is, because I'm not training for something, there is little motivation to get out the door, especially when I come home from a long day at work.  But the weather we've had this past week has made it worth it.  Nothing beats running on a sidewalk filled with crisp leaves and colored trees and sunsets overhead.

5am morning runs, I hardly knew ye.
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