Monday, May 27, 2013

Davy Crockett

Investigating local history here in Eastern Tennessee.  Stumbled upon Davy Crockett's birthplace yesterday.

Davy Crockett: famous 19th century American frontiersman and politician, noted for his curious backwoods rhetoric, his heroic defense of the Alamo in the Texas Revolution, and for his sub-elite 2:32 marathon PR.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Why I will almost always opt against the treadmill

We're still in Tennessee.  We drove down here and decided to stay an extra day to make the trip worth it. So before heading out to check out some of Tennessee and North Carolina today, I went for a run around the hotel.  I could have used the hotel's "fitness center," (one treadmill, one stair machine, and a few medicine balls).  It's a pain mapping out routes in new areas, afterall, especially when surrounded by highways and ugly chain hotels and restaurants.

View from our room

But our hotel is in a valley, and I was hoping to find some trails in the hills where I could escape all of the ugliness below.  Instead I found a few dirt roads that petered out into high grass and then nothing.  It was annoying having to constantly retrace my steps while communing with broken glass and tires instead of nature.  I did, however, start to notice the hundreds of daisies blooming in open fields and along the aforementioned dirt roads.  

I decided to stop and pick some for Stevie.  I never do this, mind you.  That is, stopping in the middle of a run.  It just ruins the groove.  But I knew that daisies are Stevie's favorite flower, and I couldn't pass this one up.

If I had run on the treadmill I would never have had the chance to surprise my new wife with her favorite flower.

You just never know what you'll find out there unless you go.

I may never run on a treadmill again.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Our first wedding... a married couple.

On the roof between ceremony and reception.

Down in Kingsport, Tennessee for Stevie's friend's wedding.

Like us, they decided to skip the DJ and just hook up an iTunes playlist to the venue's speakers. Unfortunately the music during the reception seemed to have been an afterthought, and was not terribly conducive to dancing.  Too many slow songs mixed with songs like "Under Pressure," which, while great, are not really dance songs.  Finally Stevie saved the day by giving her iPod to one of the venue employees. Every girl there had a blast dancing to Stevie's playlist, while I sat and enjoyed the best moonshine I've ever had.

God bless the south.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Movie Monday: Spirit of the Marathon II

One of my favorite documentaries is "Spirit of the Marathon."

It follows the lives of 6 athletes, from the back of the pack all the way up to the elites up front, as they prepare for and race the 2005 Chicago Marathon.

I've seen it countless times, usually right before an upcoming marathon.

Now the same team brings you the sequel, Spirit of the Marathon II.

It follows the same format as the original, but this time focuses on the Rome Marathon.  It opens in select theaters next month.

Can't wait to see it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 Elizabeth Haddon 5k

Ran the Elizabeth Haddon 5k this morning.  First race in a long time.

I won this race two years ago in a personal record of 18:01.  It was a combination of having a good day and the fact that there weren't any sub 18:00 runners in the crowd.  Race report here and a subsequent entry here on what it meant to finally break my old high school record at 29.  I didn't get to defend my title last year because I flew up to Maine to run the Sugarloaf Marathon instead.

I knew going into today that I was not going to win the race.  Now in my thirties, I knew it would also be a struggle just to place in my age group.  Because it's a suburban neighborhood 5k, it's made up mostly of kids and their parents.  Few people in their twenties run the race, which made it easy to win prizes in the last several years.  Today my competition was all the young dads in the crowd.

They let all of the elementary kids start at the very front in this race, which must be fun and exciting for them, but it certainly makes it chaotic when all of the faster runners try to get ahead without trampling them.

The race wound through suburban streets with people sitting on their front lawns spectating.  Like most 5k's, I was pushing myself and thinking it would never end, but when I look back on it it feels like it was over in a flash.  Makes it hard to write race reports about 5k's.

At any rate, I can't find the race results anywhere online, but I glanced at them briefly when they posted them after the race.  The winner finished in roughly 15:30, and I finished in 20:02, good for 9th overall and 3rd in my age group, though they only gave prizes to 1st and 2nd in each age group.

Maybe I should stage a 2014 comeback and reclaim my title!?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sunset track session

My high school's prom is tonight, and I headed over to my school for the promenade in the gym, then did a brief workout on the track afterwards.

I did one mile with stadium steps each lap, then a second mile with sprints down the back stretch.

Then the father of one of my students, who was watching a baseball game next to the track, came over for a little impromptu parent-teacher conference.  He legit ran around the track with me while talking to me about his son.  I was a little annoyed at my workout being interrupted like that, though apparently he had written me an e-mail awhile ago, but I never got it.

Now I'm at home ready to have margaritas on the roof with Stevie.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why I think Crossfit is stupid

I admit, I'm intrigued by Crossfit.  I like the idea of a high intensity workout that targets all areas of the body (which is why I try to finish all of my runs with various exercises like pushups, situps, pullups, etc).

But the more I read about it on different blogs, the more I get the impression that it is stupid.  I hate that they discourage distance running and encourage everyone to do the Paleo diet.  I also think the Paleo diet is pretty stupid, but that deserves its own post.

My biggest issue is the price.  These people outfit a gym with stuff I could find at a yardsale, then refuse to call it a gym but instead call it a box, and then come up with workouts that I could easily do on my own.

I saw this on some guy's blog recently:

It actually looks like a cool workout, and I like the challenge of having to complete it in a certain time, plus the strategy involved in how to split up the middle parts.

But the fact remains that I could easily do this workout just about anywhere.  The nearest Crossfit Box where I live charges $150 a month, or $100 a month for a 12 month contract.  So I'm going to pay that much money and then do the above workout that requires no equipment other than a pullup bar?!

Frankly, I'd rather skip the cult, save the dough, and just do the pullups at the nearest playground.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New shoes

Went to the Haddonfield Running Company for some new shoes yesterday.  The woman asked me what my last shoe was, and when I told her Nike, she asked me which ones.  I had no idea, so she started rattling off specific names of Nikes, and I had to stop her because I wouldn't recognize the name even if I heard it.

I am not one of those runners who obsesses over new gear, if you haven't noticed.

Then she tried to sell me on size 8.5 shoes, which made no sense to me when I wear a size 8.  I had never heard of this concept of wearing a half size up - presumably to allow for swelling, but wouldn't your toe just slide into the front of the shoe on downhills?  She had me try on 8.5's, but I had to tell her that I've always worn 8's, so why mess with what works for me?

Finally ditched the clown shoes I was trying on and got the above pair in a size 8.  They feel great.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The marathon's expense

Article from last month's Esquire regarding the rising costs of big races in the U.S.

Think about how much you paid for your last race.  Did the race, its amenities and the experiences you received justify the cost?

If you're a first timer, the answer is probably yes.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  While I didn't pay nearly as much for my first marathon in 2005, I did pay a ridiculous amount to have the memory preserved forever in a fancy frame.  I paid an equally ludicrous amount to go skydiving a year later and capture everything on video.  I hope to someday climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, and... you know where this is going.  The fee is justifiable because you're proud and want to commemorate an event.

But what happens when you're a running veteran with limited pockets?  Is paying $255 to run the NYC Marathon justifiable?  While I would still like to run a big city event like New York or Chicago just to experience it once, I can't see myself making a habit of it.  And as long as the demand is there from people like me, that price isn't going to go down.

With the second running boom comes a considerable amount of greed.  Cities want their cut for street closures and police officers, and businesses and entrepeneurs alike see a way to make a buck.

I love the few runners profiled in the article that have taken it upon themselves to create underground races.  They're bringing the spirit and honor of competition back to running, away from the glitz and the money machine of the big races.  It's why I'm going to stage my own race this August across the state of New Jersey.  More information on that to come.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The wedding

April 27, 2013: one of the greatest days of my life, from start to end, with this somewhere in the middle:

Moments after the ceremony

Mere moments after being pronounced husband and wife, we left friends and family on Chapel Island and recessed in a canoe.  There was much speculation about the wiseness of putting my new wife in a shaky canoe, but we managed just fine and I can't wait for the official pictures.

We got married at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, the summer camp where I spent 5 summers as a child, and another six years, off and on, as a staff member.  Stevie and I also spent last year's Memorial Day there at their annual family camp.

The ceremony took place on the area of camp known as Chapel Island, literally an island on the lake, reachable by bridge and a brief walk on a trail that leads to an open air chapel, complete with wooden pews, cross, and stone altar.

My Uncle Gary performed the ceremony, and Stevie and I selected several readings for our friends to read, and we wrote our own vows.  Between the intimate, rustic setting, the personalized ceremony, and recessing in a canoe, we're really proud of the ceremony and feel it is what people will remember most of the weekend.

Other highlights include campfires on both evenings, the 5k on Saturday morning, an epic game of capture the flag in the woods, and dancing to the YMCA with all the camp staff.  All told, one of the highlights of my life so far.  Can't wait to start this next chapter of life with Stevie in tow.

Me, Uncle Gary, Sister Kirsten at the rehearsal dinner

Stevie and me at the campfire on Friday night

The ceremony at Chapel Island

Sharing a dance with my grandmother, Evelyn Partenheimer

Dancing to "She Said Yes."

With my dad at the reception

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