Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Smoothie o'clock

Mini heatwave going on here in New Jersey, with temps in the low 90's.  My room at school is like a green house in the afternoon, with the sun shining through the windows to heat the room up and make it feel gross. The first thing I do when I get home on days like today is remove most of my clothing.  Then I make a smoothie.  Then I take a picture of me drinking it.

All in a day's work.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Family Camp 2012

Just had one of the most relaxing weekends in recent memory.  Spent the weekend with Stevie sleeping in a small cabin at Camp Ockanickon, one of my favorite places on earth.

Last year I was still training for an upcoming marathon and had to complete several training runs while there.  This year, having just completed a spring marathon, I was able to keep the running to a minimum and spend more time relaxing.  Among the highlights from the weekend:

We spent time on the archery range...

Went canoeing...

I played with fire:

We conquered the climbing wall...

And did plenty of swimming:

Three more weeks left of school until summer!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Meanwhile, back at school...

No fewer than 7 people at school asked me if I won the marathon.  When told no, most of them asked what place I came in.  People don't realize that unless you're an elite runner, place doesn't matter in marathons like it does in shorter distance races.

Monday, May 21, 2012

This one time, at Bates College...

The unintentional theme of this weekend has been revisiting my past.  I started out by running a marathon put on by the ski resort where I used to work.  Then I ended up, completely by accident, at the lake where I attended a wedding last summer.  Today, I took a look at my alma mater, Bates College.

Roger Williams Hall a.k.a "The Bill"

That was the dorm where I spent my freshman year.  I lived with a zany group of guys down in the basement.  Because the dorm was labeled chem-free (drugs, alcohol, and tobacco were strictly verboten), we came up with other ways to have fun.  We hosted a yoghurt wrestling tournament.  We played pranks on our junior advisor.  We cited maritime law as reason for hanging laundry from the ceiling in the hallway when we deemed it had been left unattended for too long.  Yes, some improbably good times were had in that basement.

Now it's all classrooms.  The exterior remains the same, but the building has been gutted to the core and rendered an academic building for foreign languages (at least somewhat appropriate, given my current profession).  I can't tell you how alarming it was to descend the main steps and find an elevator where my room used to be.

I continued to wander around campus, taking note of the new buildings and renovated old ones.  Much has changed in the eight years since I was last on campus.  I was happy to note, however, that my favorite place had not changed at all:

WRBC 91.5 FM studio

I was a bonafide radio geek of the highest order while in college.  In addition to my own show, called "Mainstream Commercial Nihilism" (bonus points if you catch the reference), I served as programming director my sophomore year, went to all the general meetings, hosted the all-night Trivia Night my senior year, and subbed for other people's shows whenever I could.  I loved that tiny, cramped studio in the basement of the Office of Career Services, and I love that it is still crammed with posters of bands no one has ever heard of and stuffed to the rafters with old CD's and records, just the way I left it when I graduated in 2003.

Following Bates, the last thing on my list was to get lobster, preferably from somewhere on the water.  I ended up in Bath at a restaurant with outdoor seating by the Kennebec River.  I ordered myself a Shipyard Export draught, a giant lobster, cracked open a book, and truly relaxed.

It doesn't get much better than this

Sunday, May 20, 2012

2012 Sugarloaf Marathon: Race Recap

I finished.  So there's that.

Let's just get right into the bullets, shall we?

  • The course has a net loss in elevation.  This makes it one of the fastest courses in America = a lot of people BQ here.  There was a moment on a massive downhill when the view in front of me opened up to show the mountains, and I was practically sprinting, and I thought, "this is why I run."  Unfortunately the marathon is made up of many moments, and this one was fleeting.
  • Decent pre-race pasta dinner, and decent post-race food.
  • Water stations.  I'm pretty sure they were adding extra ones towards the end of the race due to the heat, as they seemed to appear every mile.
  • Efficient shuttle service before and after the race.
  • The woman holding the sign that said: "Worst parade EVER!"
  • Beautiful scenery on the course.  Lakes, mountains, streams, pine trees... Here's a sample:

And the cons:
  • The whole race goes along Rt. 27, which does not get shut down.  The cars are held off for a bit at the start when the runners are still bunched together, but in the latter miles the runners are essentially running down an active rural highway with cars driving on both sides.  That sucks.
  • Speaking of cars, in the final tenth of a mile, which is supposed to be the glory moment in the marathon, I had to squeeze between two cars on one side and the people on the other, just to make it to the finish line.  That's ridiculous.  I understand not being able to close the road for such a small marathon, but get those cars off the final tenth of a mile!
  • Because it's a small marathon in a rural area, there was extremely limited crowd support.  It's amazing the difference having thousands of people cheering for you can make in a marathon.
  • When the DJ at the finish area exclaimed, "what a beautiful day for a marathon!" the woman next to me said, "someone's never run a marathon before."  It was a gorgeous day with no clouds and temps in the upper 70's, but this is not ideal for a marathon.  Running on black asphalt with cars zooming past with the sun beating down overhead and little shade all made for a tough day.
  • No beer stop and no beer at the end!  For shame!  No cold water at the end, either.
  • Despite having chips, the only timing mat was at the finish line.

I ran the first half comfortably in 1:44, but the heat really got to me in the second half.  After mile 20 I had to take a few walking breaks, which I haven't done in a marathon since Twin Cities in 2007.  I finished in 3:43:41 - far from my personal worst, but far from my personal best.

Glad to be finished marathon #9 and to take a break from running for a bit.  It's clear that I've been burning myself out with the running this spring, and I need to find a way to cross train for a few weeks before I come back to it.  

From Maine with love...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sugarloaf Eve

Didn't get to bed last night until 10:30 thanks to the band playing downstairs.  Then I had to get up at 3am to get ready and catch the shuttle for a 6am flight.  Arrived in Portland this morning, rented a car, and immediately took off for the mountains of Western Maine.

8 years ago I was a ski instructor here at Sugarloaf, and it's been fun reliving old memories of the mountain and the nearby town where I used to live.  I had lunch at the tavern where I moonlighted as a dishwasher that winter, saw that the video rental store is still alive and well even in this age of Netflix, and poked around on the trails for a bit.

At the pasta dinner I sat with a few other runners, all older and all veterans of several Boston Marathons.  One of them reckoned it's become a total shitshow over the past decade, but he's still glad he had a chance to participate in the ones he did.  When I told them about my own Boston debacle, they all agreed that I should just keep plugging along, and some day it will happen.

While talking with Stevie tonight, she asked if I was nervous.  I allowed that yes, there is a certain amount of anxiety I'm feeling at the moment, but I believe in the morning I'll be running on adrenaline and instinct, so I'll be okay by then.

All that's left is a good night's sleep.  Catch ya on the other side, internet...

Friday, May 18, 2012


Before I met Stevie's dad for the first time last fall, I joked around about us getting along so well that we'd start calling each other by completely arbitrary nicknames that I made up on the spot.  Little did I know that Stevie would share this tidbit with her dad, and he would officially adopt these nicknames for good.

Seven months later, the nicknames are still alive and well.

Needless to say, I am a big fan of Stevie's dad.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's Thursday.  In just three days, I'll be tackling marathon #9 up in Kingfield, ME and surrounding areas.

Pine Tree State here I come.

A fellow blogger from New England who is also running the Sugarloaf Marathon kindly put together this elevation chart, which I kindly appropriated for my own blog.

As we can see, there is a steady climb during miles 8, 9, and 10, and then it's literally all downhill from there.

Also notable is the Sugarloaf Marathon's standing in the top ten list of finishers that BQ.  As noted already, I am not aiming to BQ in this race.  My training this spring simply isn't sufficient to break 3:05.  As much as I would love a freak performance like last September's half marathon in which I PR'd by over 5 minutes on minimal training, I just don't think it's in the cards.

Until then, the hay is in the barn, as the saying goes.  Just trying to enjoy my taper for now, and get myself up to Maine in one piece this weekend, and come back the same.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sugarloaf Marathon

My 9th marathon is a week from today.  I've been training hard over the spring, but with a full time job, I haven't been training as hard as I'd like.  I don't think Boston will happen in this race.

Sugarloaf, incidentally, is the mountain in Maine where I used to work as a ski instructor.  The race starts near the mountain, and winds its way along Rt. 27, finishing in Kingfield, the very town where I lived that winter.  It'll be nice to revisit old memories.

I'll try to get my hands on some Maine lobstah as well...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Super Saturday

I saved a girl's life today while running.

I was running down Rt. 30 at the tail end of my usual 8 miler, when a ball rolled to my side of the street up ahead.  I saw a little girl running after it... right into the street, without looking, with a car bearing down on her.

I yelled at her to stop, and that I would get the ball for her.  Without breaking my stride, I scooped it up and threw it over the passing cars to her side of the street, and all was once again right with the world.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Don't quit your day job.

Like I've mentioned before, I live above a shop that sells and repairs fire extinguishers here in South Jersey.  On either side of that shop, up and down the main street, are several restaurants: Thai, Mexican, Japanese, South American, Italian, two Pizza places, a seafood place, and a retro fifties diner.  In addition to the restaurants, we have a coffee shop, a cupcake shop, a bakery, a library, a yoga studio, a retro furniture store, one of the best farmers' markets in the country from May to November, and several street festivals per year.

It is, in a nutshell, an exceedingly charming place to live.


Every Friday in warmer months the coffee shop, which is right next to the fire extinguisher shop, hosts live music outside.  Every first Friday and second Saturday artists and musicians line the entire main street for some free entertainment.

This would be great, except that on Fridays, after a full week of spending time in a small room with teenagers and a full week of running misery, all I want to do is go to sleep at 8 o'clock and forget about the world for 14 hours, not listen to crappy bands trying to impress a bunch of 12-year-old girls.

Marathon training has turned me into a crotchety old man.  Pretty soon I'll be yelling out the window for them to "knock off that racket."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Runner's World subscription

Came home today to find the May and June issues of Runner's World in my mailbox.  Here's the thing - I never signed up for a subscription.  I love this magazine but just figured I would save the money by reading it at the library or at Barnes and Noble, but now, apparently, I am subscribed.

Somewhere out there is a mysterious benefactor...

Thank you, kind stranger.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The ball is mightier?


In the German language, syntax differs greatly from that of the English language in that the second verb in a sentence belongs at the end.  For example, in English we would say:

Andrea wants to go to the party.

The verb "to want" is followed directly by the second verb: "to go."  But watch what happens to the second verb when we translate it into German:

Andrea will zur Party gehen.

To demonstrate this linguistic peculiarity to my German 1 students, I've taken to throwing tennis balls around the room, telling them to throw that second verb to the end of the sentence.  I do this to provide a mental image to accompany this grammar rule, but I'll admit I also like throwing tennis balls at kids' heads.

After talking to my dad this afternoon, I learned that his high school German teacher back in the early 60's had a similar method.  Instead of "throwing" the verb to the end of the sentence, however, my dad and his classmates were told to "shoot" the verb to the end of the sentence, at which point his teacher pulled a World War II era German Luger on them.

For some reason my dad never forgot that lesson.
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