Friday, December 30, 2011

Who needs a gym?

Sometimes when the gym in your 2nd hotel of the trip has nothing more than a treadmill and a stairmaster, you have to get creative to work out the rest of your body.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Portland, Oregeon

Broadway Bridge in Portland, Oregon

This was part of my running route this morning.

Roughly 4 miles across the Willamette River into downtown Portland and back.  Coffee shops, Powell's City of Books, wet streets, grey riverfront... And brewpubs.  God bless Portland and its brewpubs.

I was last in Portland in the summer of 2007 (read my impressions of the city here), but never went running here.  Despite the weather, it's nice to have finally gotten the chance to run through this awesome city.

Now where's the beer?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On wrestling

Stevie and I have come out to Portland, Oregon for one of her friend's weddings.  The wedding is on New Year's Eve, but we decided to come out a little early to see some of Portland.  Before going out tonight, I visited our hotel's fitness center.

I did an easy 5k on the treadmill in roughly 26 minutes, then spent some time using barbells and doing pushups and situps.

Not long after I finished running, the fitness center was taken over by a wrestling team in town for a tournament.  They all wore sweatsuits with the hoods up as they worked the cardio machines, all in an effort to cut weight, and my first thought was, "God wrestling is stupid."

Given my size and build, I'm frequently mistaken for a wrestler.  When I was in high school, the wrestling coach tried on more than one occasion to recruit me, but I wasn't having it.  First of all, I had no desire to roll around on a mat with sweaty guys.  Second, I'd heard horror stories of the team working out while wearing trashbags with the temperature cranked up to 90 degrees, all while near starving themselves to make their weight class.  I wanted no part in such insanity.

But when I take a look at my own sport, I realize people could say the same exact thing. "Marathoning? I want no part in such insanity!"  It reminds me of a conversation I had with a co-worker a few weeks ago.  I was telling him about the need for a tapering period at the end of a marathon training schedule.

Me: Loss of libido and general fatigue are two symptoms of extreme weekly mileage.  It's almost like the body is slowly breaking down, and the taper allows the mind and body to rebuild.  The body gets a chance to recover from the stress it's been put under.
Co-worker: (long pause for dramatic effect) So... why would you want to do this?

Most things in life worth accomplishing require some degree of sacrifice.  There is an amount of misery associated with sports while in training, but the chance of it paying off is what keeps us going.  While I may not agree with the weight cutting tactics associated with wrestling, I can certainly understand the desire to do anything it takes to become the best version of yourself, no matter how crazy it may seem to outsiders.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Born to Run: Giveaway!

As noted in my last entry, I received a copy of the bestselling book Born to Run for Christmas.

Since I already own the book, my uncle offered me two options: either he could take the book back and try to find something else for me, or I could  keep the book and regift it.  I decided that, because it is the season of giving, I would offer this book as a giveaway on my blog.

The book is brand new and hardcover.  It can be yours in one simple way: leave me a comment on this entry telling me about your 2012 running goals and a way I can contact you.  That's it.  After a week, I'll pick one of the comments and send the lucky winner the book.  I'll even pay the few bucks for shipping.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.  Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


My dad likes to get me a gag gift every year.  Last year, in a nod to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, he printed out a page advertising a jelly-of-the-month club.  This year he took note of this entry and got me a spatula from the dollar store.

My dad is a regular Jerry Lewis.  

Meanwhile, my Uncle Gary, an avid reader, got me a great Christmas present:

And I'm not being sarcastic; the book combines two interests of mine: reading and running.  What could be better?  Unfortunately, astute readers of this blog will note that not only have I read the book, but I also met the author a few months ago and got him to sign a copy for me. 

Me: you don't read my blog?
Uncle Gary: I specialize in the oral tradition.

For better or worse, a large part of my sense of humor comes from these two men.  All complaints at failed attempts to be funny on this blog may be directed at them.

I spent the better part of Christmas tending to the fire, eating, talking with my sister on the phone, eating, exchanging presents, eating, reading this book, and eating.

It was a great and relaxing day.

Dad, Debbie, me, Grandmother Partenheimer, Uncle Gary
Christmas 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011


The scene: my stepmother's daughter's place in West Chester, PA.  Christmas Eve.

The background: I jokingly suggest a pushup contest.  My Uncle Gary takes me up on it.

The outcome: My uncle tops out at around 45 pushups.  I do a few more for good measure.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Soup's on

Stevie with another humdinger of a dinner.

Stevie and I made soup again tonight.  Thank you, Runner's World, for offering such amazing soup recipes in your last issue.  The curried butternut squash soup recipe, pictured above, is out of this world.

There's a reason why I keep mentioning food on this blog, and why a national running magazine would go to the trouble of printing recipes: running and food go hand in hand.  This may seem like common sense to some people, but it's amazing how many people forget it.  If you want your body to perform properly, you need to supply it with adequate fuel.

That means: stop eating chemically processed crap, and, as Michael Pollan puts it, eat food your great grandmother would actually recognize as food.  Given that humans are genetically predisposed to prefer salts and sweets, I'll be the first to admit that I love a bucket of KFC as much as the next guy.  But let's face it, it doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to realize that one shouldn't indulge in such "food" on a regular basis.

I'll also be the first to admit that a bowl of curried butternut squash soup is not as delicious as a bucket of greasy chicken, but I promise you it is delicious in its own unique way, and you'll feel distinctly better once you finish it, too.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Another reason in favor of running in the morning: I didn't leave school today until around 5pm, because on Fridays I normally try to finish my lesson plans and as much grading for the next week as I can.  Whenever I stay late at school, I return home exhausted, and all I want to do is have a drink and fall asleep by 8 o'clock.  By the time I finally guilt trip myself into running, decide how many layers to wear, and get myself out the door, it's after 7.  By the time I'm finished and showered, it's nearly 9pm and I still haven't eaten dinner, causing me to eat anything and everything in a delirious rage.

And so it goes for every runner out there with a time-consuming day job.

Anyway, tonight kind of went like that.  Except tonight, as I left my front door on Collingswood's main street, this greeted me:

Collingswood Holiday Parade
Photo by Matt Skoufalos

Collingswood's annual Holiday Parade, right outside my door.  The sidewalks were packed with spectators, so I started running down the street instead.  I came to a long stretch devoid of fire engines and parade floats, so I started running down the middle of the street.

One person started the cheer.  Another picked it up.  In no time, thousands of my fellow Collingswood residents were cheering me, albeit ironically, as I charged down Haddon Avenue, hands in the air like I was finishing a marathon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday done right

My breakfast was better than your breakfast this morning.

Not pictured: black tea, OJ, Greek yogurt with honey.

Then there was this for dinner:

Salad, bread, and tomato-chick pea-pesto soup (recipe from last month's Runner's World).

A healthy day of eating I then topped off with Ben and Jerry's for dessert.
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