Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June mileage

January: 197
February: 231
March: 281
April: 121.2
May: 159.1

And June:

112.3 miles this month.  1,101.6 miles for the year.

This means I'm still on track to complete 2,015 miles this year, but just barely.  Keeping up my motivation for this challenge is going to be tough.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Stroller running

I love the Haddonfield Running Company for many reasons, one of which is that they offer group stroller runs on Thursday mornings for stay-at-home moms and dads.  Now that I'm off for the summer, I had the chance to join them this morning.

It was me and several moms and their toddlers (and one dad) this morning.  We met outside the store and ran 3 miles, roughly the same 3 miles that starts the usual Wednesday night run that I do.  Afterwards we hung out in the store before it opened so the parents could drink water and chat while the kids ran around.  I let Neale crawl around for a bit and just hoped the older kids wouldn't trample him before scooping him up for the group shot.

I often wonder what goes through Neale's little baby brain when we run (or any time he sticks something in his mouth, for that matter).  He seems to enjoy it, I guess, at least the wind and the ever-changing scenery.  I've only actually run with him a handful of times, and I don't know if I should feel guilty about that.  I like getting him into the outdoors and modeling a running lifestyle, even if he won't remember any of this, but I also like going out on my own and negotiating curbs and trails without the heavy bulk of a stroller in front of me.

Neale still naps frequently, and trying to match up his nap schedule with the weather and my eating schedule is like trying to get the planets to align correctly.

At any rate, I can't wait for the day when he first joins me for a run without the stroller.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My first Father's Day

Three generations of Partenheimers

Father's Day was today, and it was a special one for me because it was my first as a father. Stevie made me waffles for breakfast, I took myself to the movies to see Jurassic World, and then we all headed to my dad's place to grill in the backyard.  Grilling, beer, and family - is there any better way to celebrate Father's Day?

It should go without saying that fatherhood is hard.  There have been some incredible highs over the past ten months, but some equally paralyzing lows in which I truly struggled.  But I feel good that I can sit here today and honestly say that I love being a father.  I am addicted to my son's laughter.  I am inspired by his curious explorations.  And I love the tiny nuances of his nascent personality.

While on Christmas break, Stevie and I hung out with friends who had a two-and-a-half year old boy.  The father told me how, as his son grows older, so too does the fun, and that has stuck with me ever since.  It's true; the fun grows exponentially, but so does the happiness. Each day brings some new found skill, obsession or joy that my son discovers, and with each new day, I discover happiness anew.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Here comes summer

It's the day teachers look forward to as much as Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries combined: yes, the last day of school is finally here.  Exams have been graded, loose ends have been tied up, the classroom has been dismantled and packed away, and the final countdown begins.  At noon today, the students were dismissed, the faculty attended a brief meeting, and with its conclusion I officially closed out my fourth year as a high school German teacher.  As with every year, I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted, and I go into the summer a new man.

Stevie and I have made it a tradition to drink champagne on the last day of school to celebrate another successful year, so we sat outside in the backyard this afternoon while I reflected on the past nine months of my professional life.

We popped the cork just like always, poured and drank the champagne like always, but I'd be lying if I said this year felt as successful as years' past.  With the birth of my son, my personal life has grown in directions I never imagined, but professionally, it felt like a step backwards. Neale was born a week before school started, and I never quite felt like I got my footing this year.

Mixing a professional life in public education with a quality personal life has always been a challenge, because so much personal time is required to truly grow professionally.  At the close of my fourth year, I'm left wondering just how much I can grow professionally without sacrificing time with my growing family.

These, alas, are thoughts and concerns I will happily relegate to August, because summer is finally here, and Stevie and Neale are all that matter.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Movie Monday: Deliverance meets running

A group of locals from Leiper's Fork, Tennessee decided to camp out on the side of the Franklin Half Marathon race course and good naturedly heckle the runners.  Taking their cue from Deliverance, they parked themselves by a rusty old pickup, wore overalls and played dueling banjos while calling out to passing runners.

"What are yew runnin' from, boy?"

Sunday, June 14, 2015

2015 Odyssey Half Marathon Race Report

I ran the Odyssey Half Marathon this morning for the third year in a row.  Race reports from previous years:


Left the house around 5:30am and made it to the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park by 5:50.  Found parking pretty close to the starting area and headed over.  It was nice arriving with so much time before the start of the race, because I had time to pin on my bib, apply Body Glide, do a warm up jog, stretch, visit the port-a-potties twice, and just sit around people watching.  I also met up with Tom from Who's Up and hung out a bit with him.

I had timed everything for a 7am start - bathroom visit, warmup jog, last bit of water and first Gu - but at 6:55 they announced a 30 minute delay due to runners stuck in traffic.  So it was rather annoying to get myself psyched up to begin and then have to wait more.  It was also supposed to be hot today, and any delay was only going to make for a hotter race.

Months ago I had targeted this race as a PR attempt, but as race day approached, I knew my training wouldn't cut it.  My secondary goal became to beat last year's time (1:33), but when I realized how hot it was going to get, this was scrapped too.

While waiting in my corral for the race to start, a man came up to me and asked if I was the guy who had BQ'd at Philly a few years ago and made a YouTube video about it.  He was ecstatic when I told him it was indeed me, and shook my hand and wished me luck.  It's always flattering to be recognized from the internet, so thank you sir.

At 7:25 we finally set off.  The first two miles absolutely flew by.  I had settled in with the 7:00 min/mile pacer and stuck with him until around mile 9 when he pulled away.  Is there anything more depressing than watching a pace group pull away and not be able to do anything about it?  I ran without a watch during this race, and as the only clocks were at the start, finish and midpoint, I wasn't sure how fast I was going other than following the pacer.

I was drenched in sweat by mile two, and my shoes started squelching around mile 9.  It was just a gross morning.  At mile 10 I saw a woman on the side of the road throwing up.  There was already a man kneeling beside her and a police motorcycle on its way, so I kept moving.

The course meanders around Fairmount for a few miles before veering down to the Schuykill River.  There are some nasty hills in the course, but the nastiest comes at mile 12 with a half mile slog up a cliff face.  Or at least that's what it feels like by then.

I remembered how great it was to finish early last year and have the beer garden almost to myself, and that was the only thing that kept me going this year.  The latter miles felt less like running and more like trudging, much like Boston last April.

When I reached the homestretch, I sprinted like a maniac past two more runners, and could have sworn I saw the clock at 1:33.  I was shocked to have run the same time as last year. But when I checked my official race results later, I saw that my time was actually 1:34:48.  I had finished in 47th place, but was later demoted to 53rd place.  Looks like some faster people started after me.

But no matter.  It was finally time for my favorite part of racing: the post race beer.

Nothing better than beer at 9:30am after racing 13.1.

Sly Fox.  Amazing stuff.
Like last year, I was one of only a handful of runners in the beer garden set up near the finish. We sat at a table in the shade and talked about the race while drinking Sly Fox beer in our new pint glasses.

The beer garden filled up quickly, but I'm happy to report that Sly Fox finally came up with a system to keep up with demand.  No ridiculous lines like years' past.  They were even giving out free refills.

Sly Fox is delicious, by the way.  It took every ounce of will power I had to resist a third beer.  I figured three beers before 9:30 would be pushing it, especially since I had to drive home.

Soon Tom finished, and we sat around talking for awhile.

Despite the snafu at the beginning of the race, the ODDyssey Half Marathon is a seriously great event.  It's well-run, organized, and fun.  And if you like beer after running (and what kind of person are you if you don't), you'll love the beer garden.  Put this on your race calendar, and I'll see you next June.

Friday, June 12, 2015


When I'm not out pounding the pavement chasing the runner's high, I'm on the baseball field working on my batting stance and smacking line drives like it's my job.

I was asked to join the faculty team in the Colette R. Earney annual charity softball tournament in the town where I teach.  Stevie and Neale sat in the shade on a 90 degree day to watch me tear it up with the other teachers.  We made it to the championship game but were foiled by one of the student/alumni teams when the tying run was thrown out at home plate in the last inning.

I played Little League when I was a kid but have barely touched a glove since then.  My instincts took over and I managed a few decent hits, a few runs scored, and played second base in the field where I tried not to overthrow first base all the time.  Old habits die hard, though.

It was a great afternoon full of friendly smack talk and faculty bonding, and I can't wait for next year.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 SJAC No Frills Just Thrills Race #1

Every summer for the last two decades, the South Jersey Athletic Club has been hosting a "No Frills Just Thrills" race series down at the Cooper River.  Registration is $5 for non-members, $3 for members, and free for students.  The money goes to pint glasses for awards and not much else, leaving more room for the simple thrill of racing.

There are six races over the course of the summer, each one a little different than the last. Tonight was a one lap race (3.65 miles), starting and finishing at the Cooper River track.  

Last year's stats:

6th overall (75 runners)
2nd in my age group

This year's stats:

6th overall (113 runners)
3rd in my age group

It's difficult racing in the evening after a full day of work, and it's difficult racing in the summer when heat and humidity are high, so I'm happy I managed a 6:08 pace over 3.65 miles.  In a regular 5k, I would have finished in 19:01 with that pace, so not too shabby.

I ran like I normally do in smaller races.  I ran by feel rather than wearing a Garmin, started at my own pace and tried to pick off runners once I reached the halfway point.  This worked pretty well as no one passed me, and I managed to outkick a few in the final half mile.  Even though no one was near me - behind or in front - I still tried to sprint the homestretch, then stumbled through the finishers' chute while clumsily grabbing at my bib to hand in to the race director.

Moments after finishing

I did a cool down loop around the track and then sat by the finish line clapping as people came in.  I once again won a pint glass "trophy," bringing my total to 4.

It was a great night for racing, and a perfect way to kick off the summer.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

2015 Wissahickon Trail Classic Race Report

Ran one of my favorite races of the year yesterday, the Wissahickon Trail Classic over in Philadelphia.

Race reports from years' past:

Held at Wissahickon Valley Park every year, it's a fundraiser for the Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers, a group tasked with maintaining the park's 2,000 acres and network of trails.  It's a 10k race through challenging terrain, including steep switchbacks, gravel roads, single track, and even a red covered bridge.  Every year the race boasts about 500 runners.

I love this race because I love trail running, and this is a superb trail race an easy 40 minute drive from me.  It's always a nice change of pace from running road races, and the course is challenging, but at 10 kilometers, I don't have to kill myself in training.

The good news is this year, two friends from Who's Up decided to do the race as well, so we carpooled over and arrived at 8am.  We got there early because parking can be a bit chaotic for this race, especially as nearby Chestnut Hill College's parking lot was closed due to an alumni event.  So we had plenty of time to get our bibs, visit the port a potties, and do a warm up run.

I had mailed in my registration last month before the price increase, and also hoping to save the online processing fee, but it apparently never arrived and I had to register all over again and pay the full $35 price.  Still a bargain, though, considering the race experience delivered, not to mention the post race amenities.

The race starts on a wide gravel towpath.  Veteran racers know this will lead quickly to an uphill trail, so the start of the race is a madcap dash and struggle for positioning before the course narrows considerably.  That first trail is a serious reality check as it shoots straight up before leveling out into a sunny meadow.

Because I don't do trail races enough, I always forget how frustrating it can be to have your pace dictated by the terrain and those in front of you.  The pace constantly fluctuates as the trail changes and as you approach runners ahead and determine how best to pass them.

I tried very hard to hold myself back in the early stages of the race, because I knew the last mile was a slow and steady climb before abruptly devolving into insane hairpin turns while dropping severely in elevation.  I wanted to be ready for it and be able to go all out towards the end.

I took the uphills slowly without walking, and absolutely charged the downhills, picking off runners where I could.  I find myself particularly adept at the quick thinking and fancy footwork required to take the downhills at such breakneck speed.  After crossing the covered bridge, the course teases you with a half mile back on the gravel towpath.  Here you can kick it up a notch and zone out for a bit at a consistent pace.  But then comes the final mile...

I picked off one last runner as I entered the final uphill and was working on another, but I was running out of steam and just couldn't reel him in.  I was shocked to come shooting out of the woods into the homestretch to see the clock still under 50 minutes, and charged at the finish line with all I had.

Last year I came in 66th place with a time of 53:57, while this year I improved to 39th place with a time of 49:45.  I was ecstatic that I'd run so well this year.  My goal this year had been to improve on my time and place, but my secret goal was to place in my age group for the first time.  Sadly,  this race is so insane that I didn't even crack the top 10.  Oh well, there's always next year.

After exiting the finishing chute I high fived the guy who had come in before me.  The race director then came up and addressed me by name and told me he'd keep an eye out for the check I'd mailed, and would contact me if it came in.  After the rudeness I experienced at the last race I attended, I appreciated his kindness and attention to detail.

Kim and Erik finished shortly after I did, and we sat round rehashing the race, mostly talking about how tough the course is.  There was a fantastic post race spread, including bottled water, bananas, bagels, oranges and Clif Bars from Whole Foods, and about a hundred different pizzas from a local pizzeria.

After eating and drinking our fill, we took a picture for good measure, then headed back to Jersey.

If you're in the Philadelphia area and are looking for a good trail race, or even just an alternative to the normal road races, I highly recommend this race.  It's a challenging course through a beautiful urban park, it's incredibly well organized, and the post race amenities are incredible.  There aren't any gimmicks to this race, it's just a serious race for serious runners, for the love of racing.

Thanks for a great race, guys.  I'm already looking forward to next year.

Friday, June 5, 2015

1,000 miles down

I hit 1,000 miles for the year during my 6 mile run last night.  Less than halfway through the year and I'm just about halfway to my goal of 2,015 miles.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Runner's World debut

I love to write.  Four and a half years of writing a blog that only a handful of people read can attest to that.  But it has long been a goal of mine to break out of blogging and into something more substantial.  Why not dream big, then, and go for the goal of publishing a piece in Runner's World, right?

Imagine my surprise when this month's edition of Runner's World arrived in the mail and I sat down to read it tonight.  In a section about chafing, they had included readers' own tips about preventing it.  I saw the words "duct tape" and thought, hey this guy uses it too.  Hey, this guy's name is Scott too.

Wait a minute...

Runner's World must have asked a question on Facebook ages ago and I added my two cents, never thinking it would end up in the magazine.

Leave it to me to have the first time my name appears in Runner's World be about my nipples.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

National Running Day

When you run marathons and especially when you're maintaining a run streak, every day feels like National Running Day.  But it's officially today (always the first Wednesday in June), meaning my Twitter and Facebook blew up all day with posts about how great running is.

Mad Max is pretty great too, by the way.

I celebrated the best way possible - by going to the Haddonfield Running Company for our regular Wednesday night run, followed by beers in the store afterwards.

Our group keeps expanding.  We've joked that we don't even know who is in the club anymore.  Did you run with us tonight?  Do you want a beer?  Good, you're in.

Happy National Running Day to you.  Only two days until National Donut Day.  Coincidence? I think not.
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