Friday, December 31, 2004

Upper Main Line YMCA New Year 5K

Well it's not actually run on New Year's Day but on the morning of the 31st. I would like to do a New Year run but there are none that are convenient. There is a 4 mile run in Central Park that sounds like fun but it is hardly practical for me.

So I wrapped up my year with this mornings 5K through the neighborhood near the Y. It is a very hilly course. One of those when you are only briefly on level ground.

I haven't run this course for a couple of years. In past years it has been very cold but today very mild.

Didn't set any PRs but ran well considering how full of Christmas coookies and chocolate I am.

Tomorrow brings a new year and a new training regime. I have three months to prepare for my Ultra-Marathon. Here we go.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Posted by Hello

Christmas Running

I almost always run in the morning. Only Tuesdays, when I have faithfully run speed work first on Kelly Drive and then, when that commute became too daunting,
Haverford College with the Bryn Mawr Running Club, has broken this pattern. But this time of year for a couple of weeks I make time to run in the evening to enjoy the
Christmas lights. I try over the space of several evenings to run as many of the streets within two miles as I can.

I am nearing the end of my marathon recovery still limiting both the days and miles I am running, but these are relaxing runs and fit into the recovery

Some random thoughts and reactions to what I see: too many white lights; lots of people seem to have white lights only on their interion trees; (I am somewhat of a Christmas nut and put up two large trees as well as two small trees - my Santa tree (on which all the ornaments are Santas) does have white lights but my downstairs tree has multicolor lights - my other two trees (small ones) have no lights); what's
with cartoon characters - spongebob squarepants makes me laugh but what does he have to do with Christmas; ran past a house with all blue lights didn't seem very
Christmassy (pretty sure they weren't celebrating Hanukkah); a little further all green as I got closer the lights spelled go eagles, cut but... Some people
have gone back to the old C5 lights, nice but wow they must burn electric.

The big canvas snowman, santas, trees (and yes spongbobs) are interesting but the are noisy since a fan runs to keep them infalted. In the day most people let them deflate leaving a pile of canvas on the lawn and that seems a little sad.

I like lights that twinkle but never had much luck keeping twinkling lights lit. My wife bought me a novelty item a flasher bulb in a small box with the
legend "break in case of emergency".

So I run past the tasteful, the garish, the simple,the overtop and all of it great fun. A great custom,Christmas lights, tying us both to our pagan and Christian roots,helping us celebrate light come into the world.

There are more streets to explore and probably more surprises.

Merry Christmas

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure: for the first time I have put lights outside my own house - I lighted two artificial trees with non-twinkle white lights to light a Santa I purchased this year.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Prediction Run and Reindeer Romp

Bryn Mawr Running Club sponsors through the year a series of predictionruns. This is a run where speed doesn't necessarily win but pacing does. Runners get to pick from three courses 5, 7, 10. (Although these
are approximations - the five mile course is actually 5.4). These courses are the ones used by the Club for their Wednesday night runs during the summer. Each participant picks their expected finished time. No watches are allowed. For the Christmas prediction run the entry fee is an unwrapped toy that is giving to a local charity. They also collect running shoes and accept donations for socks for the homeless. Very sociable event since most everyone is running at a relaxed pace. I have never even been close to my predicted time although this year doing the five mile course I was within a minute. I wasn't able to hang around after the race so I don't know who won but in the past the winner is usually within 10 seconds or less. I saw a friend later in the day who told me he was within 30 seconds and knew he hadn't won. The course after you get off Montgomery Avenue is pleasant but I was disappointed by the paucity of Christmas decorations. I guess it is déclassé among the rich to have too much Christmas.

Sunday was the Reindeer Romp to benefit the American Cancer Society.
CBS's Sunday Morning had done a segment on cancer survival that morning.
I love this race since it's a four minute run from my house to the start. This race runs a course I had laid out several years ago. The first couple of years it was very informal - it was "almost a 5K". But a couple of years ago a local runner and entrepreneur Kevin Nolan took it under his wing. He worked on sponsorship and got the course professionally measured. The first year he did it, despite his best effort, a course marshal sent everyone down the wrong street. But this year the markings were excellent and unlike last year when the weather was terrible, the weather was decent (mostly cloudy, low 40's). It has a wonderfully civilized starting time - 3PM. I've been running the course a couple of times of week with very slow times, so I only went out expecting to break 24 minutes. The course utilizes a roadway owned by the regional transportation provider (SEPTA). This "busway" is closed to all traffic except buses and since there is no service Sunday afternoons it makes a great runway. The first ¾ mile is downhill. You run to Haverford Road and loop back up the busway and after a ¼ mile you go out onto a parallel roadway and through residential streets until you loop back to the busway. Mile two is mostly uphill and then you come down a long slope, a short quarter mile flat then the hill back to the start. A challenging course. This year one of the police officers I had worked with and whom I had encouraged to run for fitness ran his first 5K. I warned him about going out too fast on the initial downhill, but it is just too irresistible. I passed him about the first mile mark - he had burned out on the first mile (and I must confess it felt good to show that the old man still had it.)

I felt I ran well and finished 23:15 - not bad since I've been running lightly since the marathon and really only expected 8 minute miles. I was getting ready to leave when Dick Fitch who times a lot of local races told me that I had placed first in my age group (bless five year age groups - the 50 year old had run 20:xx something). There were 350 runners and another 150 walkers so a nice turnout for a nice cause. My only regret is that I didn't bring a camera so I could have had a photo of Santa giving me my medal.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Posted by Hello

Winter officially begins on or about 21 December. But for me the official first day of winter was Friday, 3 December. I ran the trails that day in what for me was the first winter run. Two weeks ago there was still color in the woods as the trees held some foliage. But heavy rain and winds stripped all the color away. As I step out of the jeep the temp was 29 Farenheit. Frost covered the ground. My tracks stood out as dark spots in the white. The winds had brought down trees. One large tree completely blocked by path. This tree had taken several smaller trees down and looked like a giant's game of pick up sticks.

The woods look very different with the foliage gone. You get a greater sense of the topography. (And you also realize just how high you must climb.) Whereas the other three seasons are about color, winter is about shapes. You see how the skeleton trees and how they stand individually. And not only the trees; the shape of the creek is much more apparent.

This will be a short run since I am still in marathon recovery. It was good to see the wood in winter mode. I plan on many long runs here especially if I do decide to try a 50K trail run.