Friday, December 30, 2005

The USA Track and Field Association (USATF) has joined the Goggle Map hacking craze and has what they hope will be the definitive running map database. Looks pretty good.


USATF MAPS

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Here is another map that runners may find of interest:

Triathlon Map

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

(Running in a) Winter Wonderland

by Tracey Grzegorczyk, Dec. 23, 1994, to the tune of the same title

Sleighbells ring, are you listening?
On the lane, ice is glistening
A humbling sight,
'cuz I'm running tonight...
Running in a winter wonderland.

Gone til May are my singlets
packed away are my half-splits
I run through the night
in fleece, gloves and tights...
Running in a winter wonderland

Past the meadow I confront a snowplow.
And it seems that he will run me down.
He'll say, "Are you crazy?"
I'll say, "No, man!"
And then proceed to fall and slide around.

Later on, I'll perspire
while my lungs feel like fire.
I can't feel my nose,
my toes are all froze,
Running in a winter wonderland.

Down the street I see a drifting snowbank.
There's no way that I can get around.
My Nikes can't get traction
and I scramble...
I end up eating snow on my way down.

When it snows, ain't it thrilling?
Though your buns get a chilling.
I'll run every day,
the dead-runner way...
Running in a winter wonderland. ;-)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Reindeer Romp

I have a special place in my heart for this race. You see I designed the course. It is eight years ago now. Wow! I was approached by the American Cancer Society about doing a 5K race. I was skeptical about having an event in December. Competition from other runs, and iffy weather gave me pause. They originally wanted to simply use the same route as Haverford Township Day, but I discouraged that because I thought runners were less likely to come out for a course that many had just done in October. I volunteered to find a course that would work. I knew we had a great resource in the bus way. This is a relic left over from when trolley cars traveled thru the suburban counties of Philadelphia. One of these routes traveled the center of Darby Road to Eagle. When it crossed Eagle the route continued on a private right of way to Ardmore.

In the 1970’s the tracks were removed. Darby was widened to a four lanes with a medial strip, but the right of way was preserved – it was paved and is used exclusively by SEPTA buses. There are no buses scheduled for Sunday afternoons. (Hence the 3PM start which everyone seems to love. Although the first year just a minute before the start the fire alarms sounded and fire engines raced down the bus way on their way to a fire – needless to say it added a little excitement) So I had a good start for my course. Down the bus route to Haverford, turn and go back on the bus way to Merwood where you turn onto residential streets thru a very pretty neighborhood – made even more beautiful this year by the freshly fallen snow. (A long portion is on Golf Road that parallels Merion Golf Course.) You finish by turning back to the bus route. Many runners are surprised by the hilliness of the course. It is down, up, down, up.

A few years ago a local runner, Kevin Nolan, who is also a local businessman took over the leadership of the race and has made it an outstanding event. He has persevered thru some horrendous weather events and has been rewarded the last two years with near perfect weather. The big December event use to be the Jingle Bell Run which this year had 548 runners; Kevin had 407 (and a couple hundred walkers). Enough runners that Kevin came up with the clever idea of using the adjoining street for a spilt start. I joked with Kevin that he will have to start using a chip to time the race.

There were a couple of icy spots but I had seen Kevin on Saturday and he was out with volunteers clearing the icy corners so the spots were few and manageable. It showed great dedication and spirit on the part of Kevin and his crew.

I ran well. Not quite into medal territory but 4th in my age group and those who won are very fast seniors.

The photo below is me (post race and a little sweaty) and Santa.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Santa and Me


Santa and Me
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
What the heck was I looking at? This was just after the race.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

owldragon


owldragon
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
I will have to figure out how to post this permanently.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Essentially simple, Infinitely intricate


I recently read an article with that title in one of those free papers given out at sports store. The article was about biking but I thought the author’s reflections applied equally to running. The author deliberately eschews the term “complex”; he believes that complex implies difficult whereas intricate gets better at the concept he wanted to conveys, namely that as he explored his sport he realized that it consists of never ending refinements and reflections.

I think many of us first started running as simple way to exercise. It is exercise and takes some effort, but it is not technically difficult. As I remember, my first runs entailed nothing more than stepping out the front door, running to the local track, and going four times around and running home. Wow, I thought what a work out. (Please don’t laugh – I hadn’t engaged in any serious exercise in years. I had ballooned up to over 220 pounds and yet didn’t feel particularly overweight.) I don’t even think I had “running” shoes but some kind of cross-trainer. I certainly didn’t purchase them in a specialty store and I certainly had done no research on what type of shoe.

I will skip over a large part of the story (my attendance at the FBI National Academy and working to get my yellow brick) but some time October 1997 I was coaxed into doing a local 5K. Just for fun. And although it was just a local 5K it had all the trappings of the many races I was to do over the next eight years. I really can’t remember what the attraction of racing was. The number, the shirt, the after race goodies all factor in but most importantly I was impressed by the camaraderie of the participants. I just remember I wanted to do another one and already I had formed the idea of doing a marathon to celebrate my 50th birthday. (The marathon turned out to be a few days before my 52nd). Again, looking back, I can’t remember why I wanted to run a marathon. I really wish I could remember what put that thought into my head. I had run three and now I wanted to run 26 – what insanity.

I still didn’t have proper gear. It was actually my wife who went to the Bryn Mawr Company and purchased for me my first “real” running clothes. But by then my essentially simple was turning into the infinitely intricate. For that essentially simple act of running out the door was being defined, crafted and honed. It was being defined by goals: faster times, longer distances. It was being crafted by tools: better shoes, better clothing, and watches. It was being honed by training. In the spring of 98 my wife saw an article about a runners’ seminar being offered by the Rothman Institute (part of Jefferson Hospital, it is a practice devoted to orthopedics and athletic injuries in particular. Philadelphia runners know them as the sponsor of the Rothman 8K, part of the Philly Marathon). This was a real turning point because I met Mike Patterson at that seminar. I would train with Mike until early 2002. I was now really exploring the intricacies of “my” sport. I began to think of speed, intervals, tempos and goals change from maybe to yes I will.

The journey isn’t over – few years ago I tried trail running and last spring I did my first ultramarathon. Now my library overflows with running books and magazines. A number of internet running sites are bookmarked. I participate in an online forum dedicated to running and I write about my writing experiences. The act itself remains essentially simple, but it continues to be infinitely intricate as I explore all the facets of being a runner.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

There they go


theretheygo
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
We just turned off busy Montgomery Avenue. Just now it is a downhill, but soon it will be up, up.

Finish Line


FinishLine
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
The finish line is very simple. They are just running a tape with times and each finisher places a slip with predicted time in the box.

start2


Start
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
At the start. The Bryn Mawr Theater is in the background. The Bryn Mawr Running Company is just to the right of the theater

Shoes


Shoes
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
A photo of some of the shoes collected.

DECEMBER PREDICTION


DECEMBER PREDICTION RUN

Through the year the Bryn Mawr Running Company schedules prediction runs.  In the spring and summer these are evening runs, but in December it is scheduled for Saturday morning.  

There are three possible courses 5 miles, 7.5, and 10.  I have never done the longer courses (since I am so slow I am afraid of 1) getting lost and 2) everyone being gone when I get back).

The entry fee is an unwrapped toy, socks, or used shoes in good shape to be donated to St. Vincent’s Home.

A prediction run is fun because in theory anyone can win.  You write down the time you think you will finish any of the three courses.  You must leave your watch behind.  You carry your time with you and turn it in at the end of the race.   I say in theory because while slower runners can and do win you must have a very good sense of pace.  For most of the run you can run at your own pace but there are a couple of busy streets to cross (which may mean waiting for a traffic light) and it is hilly course.

It was a chilly morning but very clear; perfect for running.

Once I came very close to my predicted time but because of timing mess up I didn’t get an award.  Saturday, I was almost two minutes too fast.  I knew I had taken the course a little too fast and tried to slow down at the end but it was still too much.

A very fun run and a great way to turn a run into a social experience and still maintain a bit of competitiveness.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Horse Racing



Horse Racing


Bob Ford wrote an interesting column in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the current state of horse racing. The article was triggered by the retirement of Afleet Alex.

The article is here: Philadelphia Inquirer Sports- Bob Ford.

That may require registration and I am not sure how long the link stays valid so here is the money quote:

The Triple Crown series is supposed to be hard. It is supposed to be the great test of a racing champion. Back when horses were bred for endurance and raced heavily, it was still hard. Now, however, when breeding is all about speed rather than durability, when trainers are more inclined to dull pain rather than wait it out, when the richest prizes are still clustered within a brutal five-week period, now the series is a crippler that has to be altered. . .
The problem begins with the fact that a 3-year-old is not a mature horse, but the equine equivalent of a teenager. The body is still developing and changing. But to prepare for the Triple Crown series, the colts must be trained hard and raced in their 2-year-old seasons and then given a stiff set of prep races the following spring just to qualify for the Kentucky Derby field.
Not only is the Derby the doorstep for the Triple Crown, it is the most prestigious U.S. race. Every owner and every trainer wants to be there. Getting the horse ready is paramount.
"You race them early and put pressure on them. If something goes wrong, you're doctoring them up just to get them ready for this one race," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "And if this was another race, you'd pass it. But it's the Kentucky Derby and that's why you get 20 horses."
They race the 11/4-mile Derby, then the 13/16-mile Preakness two weeks later and then the 11/2-mile Belmont three weeks after that. Few can hold up to that schedule and remain sound. The litany of those that never race again is lengthy, robbing the sport of its young superstars.
"It's a grind. There's been a lot of real good horses ruined trying to do this, trying to get ready to do this," Hall of Fame trainer Buddy Delp told Louisville magazine. "Some are pushed too much to make it, and some are not trained enough to make it. It's so grueling on the horse."


Ford suggests the series could be improved by having the horses run at 4 years and spreading the Triple Crown from May to September.

What I find interesting (in especially in view of my recent blog on recovery) is the obvious parallels to many of the discussions runners have about children running, pressure on young athletes, the pressure on elite runners, and yes the pressure we put on ourselves to race and perform (even if not on an elite level).

The lessons for human athletes would be to listen to your body and remember that rest is an important component of training (and not an absence of training) and that we should never put so much into one event that we risk destroying our ability to continue running.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Haverford Township Restaurants

A while ago I blogged about mapping and running. The link below has nothing to do with running but shows the location of Haverford Township restaurants. Right now there are only five but I hope to expand the listings.

Tim Denny, the Township's Recreation Director, created a charity - HaverfordCares to assist with hurricane relief.

We hope to have a "Taste of Haverford" where restaurants set up tastings of their best offerings and money is raised thru admission fees and possibly auctions.

This map will assist in indentifying the restaurants.


Haverford Township Restaurants

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Nice shot of the front of the Art Museum.


 
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After the race



 
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Looking down the Parkway from the Art Museum steps.
 
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Almost there!



 
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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Marathon Recovery

I am curious what other runners are doing for recovery. Both on line articles and in the many running books I have, marathon recovery means very little running and certainly no speed work. The recovery period is one day for every mile run but some recommend even longer.

Certainly, I don’t want to risk injury and I am sure these recommendations are based on real runners’ experience.

However, I do wonder – while I am on my feet twice as long as an elite runner I don’t believe my running either before or during the race is as stressful as the for the elite runner.

I went out today for a recovery run – whereas on a “normal” Sunday I would so 10 to 12 miles, today I did about 4.5. I will admit my legs felt somewhat heavy, but that may have been due to yesterday’s 15 trips to the attic for Christmas decorations rather than marathon running. No serious aches. It was rather nice to make that last turn from home and feel full of energy (good thing since I had a couple of hours of leaf raking ahead of me.)

So I will keep the mileage down (and with the Christmas season coming that’s a necessity anyway) but on December 11th, I will run a local 5K and hope to run hard. Then it’s time for Christmas lights running. After that it I will look into some
cross training – I am especially hoping to do some biking if the weather cooperates. But I still wonder how much?

So what is your winter schedule like?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Maps and Running

Maps and Running

I have always loved maps.  Geography was a favorite of mine and I loved making the maps that showed facts about the country.  I loved drawing maps even though my renderings were never very neat.  I am always amazed when I read of the map illiteracy of so many people.

My love of maps may explained my obsession with Google maps and all the mash ups But maps are also integral to runners.  Many if not most runners want to see a map of a race course, all the better if the map also has an elevation chart.  Therefore, it is no surprise that a number of mash ups have been made that explicitly address running.

Some of the ones I have investigated follow:

One of the earliest and easiest to use is Gmap pedometer: This app allows you to map any course you choose and determine mileage.



Map my run has a lot of nice features and allows you to save your run and view other runs.  

Walk, Jog , Run is an interesting site but I found it a little buggy and hard to work with.  Worked to build a run, only to have it disappear on save.   But it is worth a look.

Favorite Run also allows you to plot a run and save it.  It also has a run log feature which I have not used but looks interesting.  

If you run with a GPS device (like Forerunner) that allows downloads this site would be useful:  


Also useful if you have a GPS is Run Outside

A new favorite of mine is Wayfaring.

This site allows you to map a route and add "waypoints", notes, and tags. I did one on the Philadelphia Marathon. Didn't get it exactly right but I explained why in a note.

Finally there is Frappr. This google hack allows group members to plot themselves on a map. Contributors can add their photo and comments. This one is great fun.

I have created two maps: the Dead Runners Society and the Bryn Mawr Runners Club

Let me know if you find any of these useful.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Philadelphia Marathon


 
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I just fired off a letter to the organizers thanking them for a job well done. The event was well organized and from a user point of view went off almost flawlessly. The volunteers were great. The kids who worked the refreshments, baggage, and chip removal were polite, cheerful, and eager to help. Where do they get them? It makes me optimistic about the next generation.

The weather cooperated with almost perfect running weather. Cool not cold, light winds, lots of fall sunshine. It seemed very crowded but the numbers listed as finishers seemed about the same as last year.

I drove down with my friend Mukund and his son who was running the Rothman 8K. We found parking near my usual spot on 33rd Street and walked over to Eakins Oval. What seems so easy in the morning will be a long hike coming back.

Mukund was planning on going out for a 3:45 finish while I was hoping for a solid 4.

The start area was crowded but not excessively. I saw an acquaintance from the Bryn Mawr Running Club. He suggested I run with his son who was running his first marathon and was also aiming at four. I was a little reluctant since I am not a good pacer but figured it wouldn't hurt to start together. It turned out to be a good decision. John ran smart and kept us at a good pace even when I tended to surge forward. I only hope I didn't bug him too much with my constant prattle. I am normally quite taciturn but something about running endorphins (at least for the first 14 miles) makes me quite voluble.

The course is a great tour of Philadelphia, each street with its own character, the majestic Parkway, Arch Street's Chinatown, Race Street's Old City, and then a long stretch on Columbus Blvd - a shame the city hasn't figured how to use this great resource. Under I95 and back up Front to South, back to the oldest part of the City when you turn up Sixth Street and pass Independence Hall. A long run takes you west on Chestnut over the Schuylkill and into West Philly past Drexel and the U of Pennsylvania, turning onto 34th. The first real uphill is here. 34th goes by the Zoo. Always think it would be cool if the Zoo could bring out some animals but I guess it would be too stressful for the animals. We did get a good view of the Zoo Balloon which I got to ride a couple of weeks ago. Here the course dips into Fairmont Park, downhill and then up the steepest hill of the course. It seemed easy this year. You go pass Memorial Hall - one of the last buildings of the 1876 Centennial. Then up Belmont turning into the ground of the Horticultural Center. Nice treat this year - the course went directly by the Japanese House. A gift to Philadelphia from Japan it was renovated in the 90‚'s and looks great. Back out and down to Martin Luther King Drive (West River). You can look over to Kelly Driver and see the leaders going out to Manayunk. I told John: I wish I could be them; I glad I am not them. He understood the sentiment perfectly. Warned John to be careful on the sharp downhill; take it but not too fast or hard. We are quickly to the half. And then we go on up MLK to the Art Museum. Since this is also the finish the crowds are thickest and loudest here. They made the way a little wider and the crunch is not as tight as previous years. Kelly Drive is a beautiful place to run. It is framed by the river on your left and a wooded hillside that hides the railway just above. You pass wonderful public sculpture that I am sure most runners miss but that I treasure and use as landmarks. Now some people love the out and back of Kelly Drive and some hate it. There are few spectators but except for a small section where you transition to Ridge Avenue you get to see the runners ahead of you coming back on their last six miles. For me it is always exciting seeing the lead runners and then later look to cheer friends who are on their way back. There is one last tough climb up an overpass to get back to Kelly Drive and then it is all downhill until you get back to Boathouse Row for the push and the slight uphill to the Art Museum finish. Through the finish and hopefully the finish photos will show me robust and happy.

Tried to get my chip off and began to cramp when a young volunteer came to my aid. I asked her if she could retie my shoe which she cheerfully did using a method I had never seen before. After thanking her profusely I also thank her for showing me a new tie technique and how great it was to learn something new. I think she got a kick out of that.

This year I felt good longer then ever. Didn't drop off pace until mile 19. No anti-water stops (I had four in NY). Lost a full minute when I had a one of those moments that often occur to addled runners late in a race. I fumbled ridiculously trying to get my gel out of my pocket. It should have been a easy motor skill task but somehow I couldn't get my gloved hand to locate and grasp the packet. Thinking clearly I could have stripped the glove off - long past its usefulness or just abandoned the quest altogether. But I doggedly yank and tugged wasting precious time. Yikes. (Worst I was only wearing one glove - got to the start and only had one glove so I did a Michael Jackson and wore the one on my left hand. Actually worked pretty well since the bare hand got wet and sticky. But I should have lost the glove around mile ten.)

There was some cramping - I managed to lose my Succeed somewhere on the course probably when I went for the gel. I had one scare where my right foot really seized up, but mercifully the cramping eased; partly due to a new product I tried- Clif Bar blocks. I know that you are not supposed to try anything new marathon day, but I had tried these at the Expo and they seemed innocuous enough. They are gels that Clif advertises as electrolyte replacements. They were easy to ingest, didn't taste horrible, and did seem to give me some energy late in the race. I was worried they would melt but they held up fine and got me thru the late miles.

I have said in the past that Philly is a great destination marathon. It has some of atmosphere of big races but continues to offer the intimacy of smaller venues. The city looked great; the spectators where present were enthusiastic. It is a very BQ friendly course.

I walked back to my car with a group of women who asked about the marathon. Turns out they had been at the Art Museum not for the race but for a Segway tour of the city. Sounded like great fun (my wife said I guess you are going to have to do that - and yes I will).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Friday, November 11, 2005

New York Marathon

I waited some time to post about this race. I didn’t have a terrible day but there was disappointment.

I had run NY in 2001 and I have run the Marine Corps Marathon and Boston so I thought I knew big races but nothing had prepared me for this NY. I realize now that because of the tragedy of Sept 11 the number of participants was down in 2001. Coming down the long stretches of 4th and 1st it is just impossible to believe the numbers of runners.

However let me begin at the beginning. I drove down to Jersey City Saturday morning. In an earlier incarnation I was a monk, a member of the religious order known as LaSallian Christian Brothers. My old friend Paul who had remained in the order and is also a marathoner invited me to stay in the Brothers' residence at Hudson Catholic in Jersey City.

The school is a few blocks from the PATH station at Journal Square. Saturday I took the train into Manhattan for the Expo. Didn't seem that great for such a big marathon, but I did get to meet Ed Whitlock (a 70+ runner who does 3 hour marathons) and Deanna Drossin.

Sunday morning I again made my way to the Path Station. This time I used the Newark - World Trade Center connection. Despite the early hour there were plenty of people on the train including a few runners. It was striking to get off at WTC and see the gaping hole and realize just how close this station was to the destruction.

I followed a runner who seemed to know where he was going and made my way down to Battery Park to the marathon buses. (If I had it to do over again I would have take the Ferry over to Staten Island.) No problem getting the bus; boarder promptly and left almost immediately. The trip out to Ft. Wadsworth seemed to take no time at all.

Found a comfortable spot in blue area (I had brought two plastic bags to place on the ground) and settled in for the long wait. It was a little chilly but had some coffee and yogurt. Did a little exploring but mostly tried to relax. Porta potties were initially pretty good but as it got closer to 10 O'clock the lines were pretty long and people had gone over the snow fence and into woods. It is amazing to see how quickly people are to ignore ordinary limits. Explains a lot about the disorders that follow a natural disaster.
I spoke to the 4 hours pace runner and decided I would line up slightly further forward (about 50 yards). Just about where my number said I should be. We began moving forward about 9:55. We were still moving toward the bridge when I heard the cannon go off. I thought I might be a long time getting to the start but it was only about four minutes. I was able to run immediately but very slowly. In 2001 I had been on the left side which definitely had the better view (not that it matter fog pretty much obscured every thing). If you run NY try for the orange start. There was a strange sensation that the bridge was moving - is this possible could the runners actually make it move?



The incline didn't seem all that difficult but when we got to mile one I was very disappointed to see it had taken me 11 minutes. I still had hope to make it up in the next mile which would be downhill but no one seemed to be speeding up and it was impossible to move forward without a lot of dodging and weaving that didn't seem wise. I looked at the orange side which seemed to be moving faster and was tempted to climb over the medial strip.

Coming down you can clearly see the two streams. The orange takes a sharp left while the blue and green continue on a couple of blocks before turning.

For most of Brooklyn the two streams flow down on separate sides. The orange mile markers are slightly after the blue/green markers. This initially confused me until I realized how they were color coded. The second mile was also slow - again much slower then I expected. I kept thinking at least I didn't go out too fast (little did I know). I tried to take in as much of the crowd (runners and spectators) as I could. The water stations were difficult. I wasn't prepared for the pushing and shoving. (This continued for most of the first 15 miles and twice I almost had words with runners I thought were unnecessarily aggressive.) Because of the congestion I missed the first couple of Gatorade stations. That I think came back to haunt me. I was once again tempted to switch to the orange side since it seemed slightly less crowded but I thought what if everyone decided they could simply ignore the routes so I stuck with the course. Mostly I tried to stay on the blue line. When we got to 8 miles and all three courses merge it was even tighter. During this time I was gradually increasing speed and at 13.1 was 2:07. Not on target but not badly off.

One of the last neighborhoods in Brooklyn is Williamsburg where there is a large Hasidic community (an ultra conservative Jewish sect). The crowds were sparse but those watching seem interested yet there wass no cheering or clapping. Does anyone know why? Is there a Talmudic proscription against it? (I hadn't noticed last time but someone pointed out that almost all the young children are girls. Perhaps all the young boys are engaged in religious studies.)

The Pulaski Bridge is not much of an incline but already many people were walking. I still felt pretty good but was concerned because I was soaking wet, yet despite that I had the urge to dehydrate. Didn't seem a good sign if I was properly taking up water. I was using my Succeed tablets and had taken two gels. Yet I wasn’t confident that I was hydrating properly.

When we got to the Queensboro Bridge at mile 15 it seemed more people were walking than running. This is a very long uphill (the uphill on this bridge seems longer than the downhill - is that possible?). I was still reluctant to walk since I suspected I might have some problems later so I ran but that did mean some dodging.



Those who have run NY will tell you that coming off the Queensboro is one of the highlights of the race. It has been a tough climb and very quiet. After miles of spectators there are none for more than a mile, then you hear the dull roar and that gets louder and louder and suddenly you see that huge crowd at the base of bridge and hear the loudest cheering of the race. It was thrilling in 2001 and was just a thrilling in 2005.

First Avenue is great. The number of spectators between 16 and 18 is incredible. I however have slowed down. Still not bad but I am no longer making up time and I am drifting toward a 4:20 finish. Somewhere on First Avenue I past a runner with the legend on her back - Six month cancer survivor and I'm ahead of you.

In Harlem the crowds peter out. To enter the Bronx you cross the Willis Ave Bridge. This is the bridge that they cover with "rugs" to cover the metal grating of the bridge.

On the bridge, there is some kind of construction and concrete barriers force a narrowing of the course. Now almost everyone is walking and in the press of people I finally give up and walk. Even after it opens a little I continue to walk until the downhill and into the Bronx. I never remember a race where so late the crowds were so dense as to interfere with running.

When we turn onto Alexander Ave there is an empty porta pottie and I take advantage of it. It bothers me that this late in the race I should need it. At the bridge that crosses back into Manhattan I am hit with the first bad cramping. Eventually I will cramp almost everywhere but these first ones are in my right forearm and right foot. So begins the last six miles of more and more walking and less running. Nor am I alone. Hundreds are walking and trying to stretch out cramps. For the most part and I walk and for the most part I can walk quickly so I stick with that. Once or twice I think I will have to stop altogether but mostly the cramps respond to a change of pace. The only muscle that really gives me trouble is my right quad.

While on First Avenue I had felt really hot, it doesn't seem so bad now. The park is beautiful and I can pick out the areas where I saw the Gates last February. Great crowds and I am embarrassed to be walking so much. But at this point there is little to be done. I am just trying to avoid seizing up all together and find myself unable to go forward at all. Ironically it all seems to going so fast - my time is slow but the experience seems to be flowing always all too quickly. I will actually be disappointed to be finished. Does that sound strange? I am having a hard time expressing it but the sensory load is so great - there is so much to take in. I am enjoying it all despite my appalling time.

There are lots of nice downhills in Central Park and couple of times I got up a pretty good head of steam before the next spasm came along. I am determined I will run the last half mile. The signs show 2000 K, then 400 Meters, then 400 yards, then 200 yards. I am running not very fast but I am running.

The rest is anticlimax. There is an incredibly long walk out of the park, but lots of camaraderie. You receive your medal. Very nice. Your Mylar blanket and a small piece of tape to close it. I did get a small bag of food but never opened it. The baggage car was another hike but at least my truck wasn't crowded. The truck beside me had one of the free for all scenes with people holding up their numbers and bags being tossed out.

Something I had never seen before. Two different guys in two different areas stripped down naked on Fifth Avenue to change. The one actually took time to pour water out and sponge off. I am just not that uninhibited. Must have been Europeans.

I asked a police office about getting downtown. He said don't use the Fifth Ave subway (too crowded) walk down a couple of blocks and take the 1. Even that train is packed and I hear a New Yorker grumble that they should have been on a weekday schedule. I have no idea where to get off but several passengers were helpful with directions. (Ironically when I got out of the subway and was walking to the Path train a young lady asked me for directions. Not quite sure I would have accosted a stranger that looked like me. Had to explain I too was a stranger. She realized that I had run the marathon and was suitably impressed.)

While waiting for the subway had a nice conversation with an older gentleman who had run the race in the eighties. He remembered a race when it was in the nineties and remembered there were a couple of fatalities. At that time the race was in October and he said that led to it being moved to November. He looked in pretty good shape and I told him he should give it another go.

On the way back to NJ had another good talk with a family from Connecticut staying in NJ. Mom was the marathon runner. The kids and Dad seemed very proud of her. It was nice to see.

Another nice thing in this race are the Achilles runners. They are all the runners with some handicap. When I encounter them on the course it is humbling that they and their guides will be fighting the good fight long after I have finished even my slow race.

So NY. My slowest ever (4:40) yet strangely satisfying. Somehow it was less disappointing to fail spectacularly then it would have to just missed my goal.

The big marathons never disappoint even when you have a rough day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Falls Bridge


Falls Bridge
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
This is a shot of Falls Bridge. In the PDR you cross the bridge just about the nine mile mark. On the bridge is a bagpiper to pick your spirits up. Runners have just labored up a small hill but now will be rewarded with a downhill. Just four miles to go.

Art Museum


Art Museum
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
This is the new start area for the PDR. You can't see as much as the detail on Google Earth but still gives a feel for the area. The Art Museum was built where a large resevoir was existed. It is a beautiful sight as you run up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Philadelphia Distance Run


The Philadelphia Distance Run has a long tradition in Philadelphia (this is year 28). I have run every year but one since I began racing. (Last year I did the Bar Harbor Half Marathon.) The course has been tweaked over the years. When I first ran it, it started at City Hall. Later as the race grew they moved the start to 8th and Market - the finish was on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway just past Logan Circle. This year Elite Racing took over the management. They moved the start and finish to the Art Museum area. I think that the plan was to have a fast course and set up an American record run. (The start was early - 7:45 - the early start and the course change may also have been to get Center City and the traffic congestion cleared before the Eagles game at 1PM). The old course required a run up over a pedestrian overpass to get to Chestnut. The bottleneck there probably wasn't a problem for the elite runners but then there were a couple of stretches of cobblestone. Back of the pack runners would jump on the sidewalk but I imagine the elite runners are confined to the course and would be affected by the road surface. On the other hand the new course required a lot of turns in the first couple of miles.



The race began on the Parkway using the corral system (which I liked - I got started without having to dodge lots of runners who had not seeded themselves properly). I had put down a 1:50 finish. When I got in the corral I was a little nervous since I recognized a lot of runners and knew them all to be a lot faster than me. (The day before someone asked me what corral I was in and when I said 4 they said wow you're really up there. Well four out of twelve didn't seem too elite but I began to think maybe I should have been more conservative in my time estimate.)



At the end of the Parkway you turn onto 15th to Chestnut to Broad to Penn to Juniper to Market that's six turns in less than half a mile. Again I don't know how that affects the elite runners but back in the pack it creates a little congestion as people jockey the corners. After that the course is on Market, 4th, Walnut, 16th , Parkway, the newly named Martin Luther King Drive, Falls Bridge, and Kelly Drive.

When we came by the Art Museum the announcer [in a British accent that to American ears always sounds so sophisticated] was announcing Kastor's position and by then (she was at about the ten mile mark) it was clear she was in a excellent position to win. A large cheer went up.

With the good start I fell almost immediately into a good rhythm - except the first mile felt slow. Unfortunately I missed the first mile marker so I couldn't readily adjust my pace. But from mile three on I had my mile laps and they were mostly in the 8:35 range. I had thought 8:35 would get me in at 1:50 - turns out I need 8:25. Was that mental - if I had known I needed 8:25 would I have pushed those early miles a bit? Slow mile just before Falls Bridge (mile 8): this is the only significant uphill on the course and also was the water stop where they gave out powerbar gel. I did get a gel and did walk thru the water stop and take both Endurothon and water. I was able to make some of that time on the other side of the bridge where the course is downhill. This is both the hardest part of the race (hot, tired - the point in the race when you say this is really a stupid sport, what the heck am I doing, I will never do this again, cancel New York, those people on the bike path look like they are having so much fun - you get the idea) and the easiest since I know this section so well and know I will comfortably finish. I am waiting to catch all those runners who went out too fast but apparently that too fast out runner is me since I am being passed far more than I am passing. I wish I had the energy, speed and chutzpah to ask some questions. Why are you wearing a fuel belt with so much liquid left? Why carry a water bottle with a twist top all this way? Why are you in a hat, long sleeve shirt, and tights? How can you still be chatting so merrily this late in the race? If you can pass me like I standing still did you go out too slow? But I content myself yelling encouragement to the passers - great job, finish strong and to the walkers - you're almost there walk it out, you are going to finish.


The weather was warmer and more humid than I like (but better than Saturday's weather). Afterwards, I heard runners complaining of cramping and was glad I had used my Succeed. It was definitely cramp type weather, especially since the early start meant the heat crept up on you. The volunteer at mile 5 wouldn't let go of her cup so I got a mostly empty cup when I finally wrenched it from her hand. Mile 5 thru 6 is my least favorite part of the course - no shade, and you run parallel to the Schuylkill Expressway. Compensation is a great view of Boathouse Row. Thought I might get a glimpse of elites on the other side of the river but couldn't pick them out. Saw Mayor Street on his bike and yelled out Yo! Mr. Mayor, but I didn't see if he acknowledged.

The water stations offered Endurathon. I can understand a new product wanting to get out there but it is tough in a race to be offered something new. Also personally I would have preferred water first then replacement drinks. I guess I have bought into the fluid replacement controversy because in hindsight I think I may have taken too much water. I skipped the last water station (at 12) but I think I could have skipped 11 also. I felt a little nausea at mile 12 and it didn't help that I saw a runner down. Since I felt that overall I had run well I slowed a bit because I didn't want to be sick in the finish corral. I wonder now if my nausea was the heat or the Endurathon. Don't want to be a victim of suggestibility but they say you shouldn't try new things in race and there it was a product I had never used. Probably should have skipped the E,,n since I had my Succeed.

Of course as soon as I finished I felt I should have pushed the last mile harder. I thought the goodie tent was poorly set up - they should talk to the Broad Street people. I only got a bottle of water in the finish corral and then there was no water available with the other refreshments. Always afraid I'll miss something I stood in line - it wasn't worth it, though I was glad to get a banana. Set up in previous years was better with more variety including ice cream.

As you know, if they changed the course for speed, Deena Kastor took advantage of it and turned in a fantastic performance. A short rant: I know this is my sport and an event I participated in but Kastor broke a record that stood for 21 years and was held by another great champion (Joan Benoit). She beat her closest competitor but more than two minutes. Yet the local TV news did not mention it at all. Now I know the Eagles were playing their home opener but for crying out loud didn't this deserve at least 30 seconds of air time.

Question for those who know how elite runners work: about mile 8 there were two elite runners sitting on the side of the road. I know elites sometimes drop out when they figure they are out of the running but it seemed strange. From where they were back to Art Museum was an easy four mile jog. Were they waiting for a ride? Just curious. It did buoyed me up to think that at least on this particular Sunday I was faster than the skinny fast guy.

From the Daily News account of the race: Deena Kastor said. "It was a little warm and [more] humid than I would have liked. I didn't think I was going to run that fast because of the conditions, but I'm happy I pulled it off."

Deena is coached by Terrence Mahon. Until this year I saw Terrance every Tuesday night since he set up the interval training Bryn Mawr Running Club does every week at Haverford College. Unfortunately I haven't seen the improvement Deena has.

Brooks Charles M 58 - Bib 4368

Overall 2889 · Total Finishers: 8,600

Males 2127 · Male Finishers: 4,655

M_55-59 82 (of about 300)

Half Marathon 8:36 mile pace gun 1:54:38 chip1:52:40

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday Run

Another gorgeous September day. It’s warming up but still very nice. It hasn’t rain yet in September so it is very dry out there. I have been getting up early on Sundays to be the heat but today I slept in and went out after Sunday Morning finished.

I went out on my favorite route up to Merion Golf Course and circuit to the nature trail at Haverford College.

If there are any golfers out there you may have seen this year's U.S. Amateur Championship which was held Aug. 22-28 at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

The club house is about a mile and half from my front door. The shots on TV made it look like the club was in the country but in fact it is nestled in a suburban area of middle and working class homes. The course is beautiful and a joy to run by and thru. Today as I run up Golfview Road from Ardmore Avenue toward College I past an area where the homeowner had prepared an area along the road edge with fresh grass seed. Deep in the fresh turned earth were fresh deer tracks. Strange to think that just a couple of weeks ago hundreds of people stood there watching the golf tournament.

I ran with next week’s PDR in mind. My plan for the PDR is to run consistent. I would like to see a race where I maintain a good pace thru the whole race. I would love it if I can run a strong last mile instead of struggling. The new course with the start at the Art Museum should be very fast.

The start time is 7:45 AM. I know the city probably wants the roads clear and open as soon as possible but doesn’t this seem awfully early. It doesn’t bother me to much since I am only about 20 minutes from the start but it seems tough for anyone coming a distance. Are these early start times becoming more common?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Main Line Chamber of Commerce 5K

I decided to run this 5K because a friend is the race director. He did a very nice job with the set up and organization. My only gripe is the race shirt. Is it just me or have race shirts gotten kind of blah?

It was a nice morning – in the 60s with low humidity. My kind of running weather. This was a much bigger race than my last one but it still had very much a community affair feeling. Lots of kids in the race and a few did quite well.

The race starts at Wayne Middle School and consists of two loops along Lancaster Avenue. I liked the double loop because I got to see the all the other runners both faster and slower. I only wanted to run hard and consistently and not risk injury before next week’s distance run. Ran just below 8 minutes per mile. The last mile was probably a little slower than I wanted but there was no one passing me. As I ran down the last hill I saw the clock just tick over 24. Should have pushed that last mile a little harder.

Felt good to be racing even if not very fast. I am looking forward to next week’s half.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Summer's End


We all know that summer is officially over with the fall equinox (this year 22 Sep, 6:23 PM) but we alsoknow the summer is really over with Labor Day. A week
ago I was in Maine. One of my runs took me across anold iron bridge, down an asphalt road, that becamegravel, then dirt, and finally entered a pine wood
with a primeval feel. There seemed to be no reason for this path. I expected it to loop or join up with another trail but eventually it just ended at the
water's edge. As I looked out I could have been in a wilderness; there was no sign of humanity just woods. The trail itself seemed to have no use or purpose. It
was just a mystery.

My Labor Day run could not have been more different. I ran on the boardwalk from Ventnor to its end on the bay in Atlantic City. In Ventnor you have a clear view of
the ocean but once in Atlantic City the ocean disappears behind beach bars, construction, and amusement piers. You have the casinos and the
souvenir shops. Lots of bikers and runners. Once you past Showboat the last casino, there is an open area where buildings were demolished but nothing
replaced them. You can once again see the ocean. This is a popular spot for fishermen. (and men are not a misnomer there are almost no women fishing.) I
ran a little further past the end of the boardwalk and discover a small marina that also contains the Ocean Life Center that contains a small aquarium. I ran out
New Hampshire Avenue past some very nice homes. I understand these are part of the redevelopment the casinos are obligated to. They are designed to provide affordable housing for workers. I hope they can do more of this in AC.

The return journey seemed easy - going out I ran into a strong headwind now I had it at my back. More shops had open. The strange mix of boardwalk habitu├ęs
(casino workers, casino users, and homeless) had gotten just that much stranger. Then I am back in Ventnor where it is more walkers, runners, bikers. A
final treat - I get to go into the ocean. It is still early and the beach is mostly empty. In fact I can see no one in the water in either direction. There is
a strong undertow but I only intend to go waist deep. Great way to end the run and the summer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Cadillac Mountain


Cadillac Mountain
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
Cadillac Mountain is in Acadia National Park. It is the highest point on the Atlantic Seaboard. We spent a couple of hours driving the loop road in the park. The summit can be reached by automobile. Beautiful day and great views from every direction.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Finish Strong


Finish Strong
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
I just ran down the hill and I am trying to get in under 44 minutes. Finished exactly at 44.
Stockton Springs Harbor Festival 5.5 Miler

I have been on vacation in Maine. Two years ago I ran the Mt. Desert Island Marathon, last year I ran the Bar Harbor Half Marathon, this year I ran a five mile
race in Stockton Springs. If Zeno is right my races will get shorter and shorter but never disappear.

This was one of the smallest races I have run. 30 runners did a 5 mile plus loop of Cape Jellison. Wonderful course - hilly, with great views of the harbor.

I remarked to one of the organizers that I hope they can get the race to grow. (This was the second year).She said they had some competition this year because
of the folk festival in Bangor and a five mile race in Northeast Harbor. Both of those locations are by mystandards far away but I guess it is different in
rural locations.

Two years ago in the marathon I was surprised that even while we ran toward Southwest Harbor there was an elevation rise; this yearI was surprised by how hilly
this loop around Cape Jellison was. I suppose it is because the rocky terrain of Maine was only recently (by geologic standards) under glaciers, everywhere in
coastal Maine is hilly. But what beautiful vistas.

Mile three was a very long downhill that I knew we would payback in the end and mile four did not disappoint.

The race was advertized as 5.25 but the race director announced at the beginning they had determined the true distance to be 5.5. The good news was that the
last quarter was sharply downhill.

I placed 12th and ran 8 minute miles. Great fun to run in such a low key local community event in such a beautiful spot. Hope it does grow and prosper.

Chad Brooks
Currently in Winterport, Maine

Friday, August 19, 2005

Half Wit Message

I received an email from Ron Horn announcing the race results were on line. In his crude, blunt way he confirmed that this was an terrible race weather wise:

1) Imagine if it was 98 degrees and you were abducted, rolled up in a carpet, locked in a van that was abandoned in a parking lot next to the oil refineries in Elizabeth, NJ and left there for 3 days before being discovered. Now add 30 degree to the temperature; THAT"S what it felt like running the Half Wit Half Marathon trail run this past weekend. You couldn't cut the air with a band saw; heck, I tried to pass gas and the air was so think that it wouldn't come out because it had no place to go! Some 55 people had the sense to abandon the race during it, either due to good sense or bad footing, with a few of the more asthmatic ones even pulling up at the 1.3 mile water stop. I recognize these people as the "deep thinkers" of the Half-Wit entries. Why the other 356 morons continued on is anybody's guess! Some did it, no doubt, for the special drink available at the 9.6 and 12.5-mile aide stations. The race started with us having to use a bolt cutter to break into the park and the bathrooms. That should have been an omen to all!! The results are at the bottom of the home page for www.pretzelcitysports.com . My DEEP respect for all that finished; you obviously have incredibly high testosterone levels and do not require anesthesia during surgery.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Words of Wisdom


Words of Wisdom
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
Fellow half wits. This is a hard core crowd. Some are veterans but some are newbies and may be in for a few surprises.

To The Start


To The Start
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
The race starts at the top of this road.

Ron Checks Line


Ron Checks Line
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
Ron Horn, the race director, explains the delays. He said he had to use bolt cutters to get into the park and open the rest rooms. Thought it was one of his stories but after the race when I went up to rest rooms there was one of locks laying on the ground.

Lining Up


Lining Up
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
The park opened late. The early arrivals lined up to get their numbers. The pavillion acts as the finish line. You run thru it at mile one.
Half Wit Half Marathon

Heat Index - 110
Distance - 13.1
IQ necessary to think this a good idea - 62

Satisfaction on completion - Unmeasurable


What could possibly possess anyone to run in this weather? Every year the weather for this race is hot and sticky but this has to be one of the hottest ever. It is not called the Half-Wit for nothing.

One advantage I had this year was experience. I knew just how to pace myself and what was ahead. As I result I ran with some confidence. I loaded up with Succeed and Gatorade's new Endurance. I decided carrying a bottle outweighed the inconvenience and except for a few times when I could have used both hands it worked at well. I think by continuingly hydrating and being able to take the Succeed on my schedule instead of when I got to a water stop I fended off the cramping that bedeviled me the last two runs on this course. Although I was very slow at times, I never needed to stop and all my walking was on my terms.

Even in better weather this would be a tough course. The climbs are steep and some of the down hills are worst. The course is kind of a figure 8. The first mile is a simple loop - there are several bottle necks that mean for the back of pack runners a very slow start. The first year I was impatient with this but now recognize it is wise to accept the pace. After that first mile you begin the first part of the loop on mostly single track through the woods. Just after mile three you hit a paved road for about a half mile that takes you to the first water stop. You then hit the first steep drop then there is a long run three miles thru the woods some on established trail but some on it on a trail that must only exist in the imagination of the race director. (In fact at one point he has a sign posted - Trail? And a few yards later - What Trail? )

This section includes a couple of steep climbs but lots of running time. It ends with another very steep drop. The trees sweat stained by previous runners who grabbed them on the way down. You come out onto a baseball field and a water stop. A quick loop around the field and you must climb the infamous 128 steps from hell. Still no idea, why they are there. Sometime long ago someone placed what looks like granite curbing in a facsimile of steps, although some have become dislodged and stand at strange angles and halfway up there is a large tree blocking the way - you either crawl under, over or around.

Most runners on finishing the climb feel relieved - the course slopes gently down and you think that wasn't too bad. Unfortunately, just a few hundreds yards down the path you are faced with another steep climb. There will be two more of those interspaced with some good running on wider track. Good chance to set your own pace. The last climb out of this part of the park is short but very steep and rocky. You emerge back on the roadway to the three mile water stop. You are now about 8.3 into the run. You return along the roadway and reenter the wood. Not far until you cross another road. This is 9.1 and the recommended drop out point. The first time I ran this race I wanted to drop out but didn't realize this was the drop point and continued on. You now enter the last four mile loop. For a couple of miles until the path loops you see the returning runners. Very little level running here and where it is level it is very, very rocky or incredibly muddy. This is the only flat I chose to walk. I am so tired at this point I worry about tripping and don't fancy going down in the muck that has a foul order.

Eventually you come to a steep but runable incline. I take this with some abandoned. I know ahead I have the last steep climb and then too quickly we there (the downhill felt good) - it starts out somewhat deceiving but quickly becomes a rock climb. I see a couple of runners sitting and others stopped bracing on trees and at least one runner trying to work out cramps. I can sympathize. This is where I almost gave up the first year I ran. I sat down and really figured I was done but a runner came along encouraged me to get up and promised the climbing is almost over. I do the same now telling each runner we are only minutes from the top and hang in there. Unfortunately, I don't have any water to share. It is always a bit longer then I expect but finally I see the exit point. There is one last water stop where they also dispense beer. I feel good enough to indulge in one cup, walking slowly until done. Then it is off at a good pace because I know the finish is quite near. There will be one more surprise - another steep drop about 400 yards from the finish. Then I am done.

Very slow. But I feel good. Never stopped, avoided cramps and felt pretty good the whole time. I had heard a young lady before the race say this was her first trail run. Not a good choice for your first. But during the run I assured her that not all trails run are this difficult and I tried to give her some pointers. She finished quite nicely and strong. After the race she thanked me for the advice and said I had been a big help. Nice to hear.

One more side note: after the race I talked to a runner wearing a shirt with a skull and the label Death Race. This is a 125 KM race in the Canadian Rockies. Naturally, I said then this race must seem like a piece of cake. Well he said it is tough but the weather is a lot better - I actually enjoyed the Death Race compared to today. He was only half joking.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Mid Summer Weekend

Runners often talk about going thru down times in their running. I am experiencing a little of that now. I think in part it is the heat. I don’t remember being so bothered by the heat in past summers. I have never liked it but now it takes every bit of will power to get out the door. I did a race Saturday (Run For The Hill Of It). Now the weather for this race always seems to be hot and humid and Saturday was no exception. The air temperature wasn’t particularly hot at 8AM but the humidity was already somewhere near 100%. The race is along Forbidden Drive in the northern reach of the Wissahickon Valley branch of Fairmount Park. The first 2.5 miles drop down to Valley Green and then turn and run uphill for 2.5. I was very disappointed with my time. Just didn’t have the turn over I expected. Nothing hurt. I just couldn’t go faster. I don’t think I have ever been lower in a five year age group (18 out of 30). Finished in the middle of the pack (333 out 663) but should have finished higher.

Since my desire to run long wasn’t there on Sunday I decided to bike. I recently bought a bike thinking it would be good to cross train occasionally. It’s a hybrid not built for speed. I decided to use the Schuylkill River Trail. I had no specific goal – just get use to the bike and spend two hours peddling. I enjoyed it a great deal. First impression is that biking is much easier than running. Now I saw bikers who were working very hard – but I just peddled steadily with only occasional bursts of “speed”. I think I was covering miles in about 4 or 5 minutes. Sobering when I realized that I would just barely be staying ahead of the best marathoners. I think this experiment in cross training worked. I should have been on a long run but the ride was fun and used other muscles and skills and today I feel good and ready for a speed workout in spite of the heat.

Norristown Station


Norristown Station
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
On Sunday I took my first long bike ride. I used the Schuylkill River Trail. I started in Conshohocken. This view is what you see as you head north toward Valley Forge. This is SEPTA's Norristown hub. The structure is the terminus for the High Speed Line that runs between Upper Darby and Norristown.

Forbidden Drive Covered Bridge


Forbidden Drive Covered Bridge
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
The Run For The Hill Of It begins at the top of Forbidden Drive (the section of Philadelphia called Andorra). You run south to Valley Green and turn north. This is the view you would have while running north just after mile three.

Forbidden Drive


Forbidden Drive
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
This is the location for the Run For The Hill Of It that I raced on Saturday, 30 July.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Today's trail run was very hot and very wet. Besides sweating like crazy, my shoes were soaking from the dew. It wasn't a very pleasant run. And I thought of this missive I had sent to the Dead Runners. There had been a discussion of the best type of rain gear and someone else mentioned that at the end of summer runs you are usually soaked anyway:

The rain gear thread caught my attention because Friday I decided not to run due to the heavy rain that was falling. Yet in a sense it was a silly excuse
since these days I am soaking wet after any run. In fact running in the rain may have been pleasantcompared to the hot runs I have done Saturday and Sunday.

Despite the heat I did enjoy my weekend runs. I reflected on the reports of injuries and their relation to effort. On these runs I was just glad to chug along on courses I laid out long ago and have done hundreds of times. My easy pace was unlikely to induce injury.

Saturday morning was beautiful and I should have run early but instead I grabbed another hour's sleep and then a leisurely read of the paper. By the time I did
a few errands my run was starting at noon. The nice thing was I got to listen to From The Top. It was a reprise show that concentrated on the interaction of the kids with master players lkke Issac Stern.

My consolation on running in the heat was a recent pieceI read online (Runnersworld) that said running early morning doesn't conditioned you to run in the heat.
Since I will be doing the Half Wit next month and since it is always very hot it's good I'm getting heat conditioned.

On Sunday there was increased heat and another late start. Still I enjoyed the run and I am grateful that I can do six miles in the heat and feel so good. On Saturday's From The Top a young violinist was coached by Issac Stern. When Mr. Stern died she wrote FTT a letter praising Stern. In it she said:

I read Mr. Stern's obituary today in the New York Times. While his list of accomplishments, both musical and non-musical, was truly astonishing, it was the
last line that touched me personally. It was a quote from him that said, "and you should get up every morning and say thank God, thank the Lord, thank
whomever you want, thank you, thank you for making me a musician."

In recent weeks I have reflected on my running and with every run I say thank you for the gift of running; thank you for making me a runner.

Friday, July 01, 2005

FRIDAY TRAILS


If you run the the northeast you know this kind of day: dew point 70 humidity 83% temps already in the high 70's. Those are the stats and the reality is a misty fog and an air that is palpable. The woods are very green. Where just a few weeks ago you could see deep into the woods, now a green wall surrounds you – the growth so thick in places that it is like being in a green tunnel. The less used trails are hard to find, even the path greening over. Creepers and vines stretch out into the path scratching arms and legs. Despite this weeks thunder storms Dismal Stream is running low making for an easy crossing. The whole feel now is different – the wood can seem almost oppressive compared to the easy spring running. I am of course soaking wet. But many nice surprises: wild flowers that have escaped the deer, silvery spider webs and rabbits that run a distance with you. As the miles progress I realize that there is not just green but countless shades of green from dark almost black to pale silver and that this wood is pulsing with life; a hint and an echo of a once wilder world. I am gland to be there a while.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Double Trouble Trail Run

This is a trail run in French Creek State Park. Runners have the option of running a 15K or doing a second loop for 30K. The trail is of moderate difficulty, mostly single track, with lots of rock. Some of the trail seems to be a stream bed and I remember doing this run after a heavy rain when those beds were running water. Sunday everything was dry but the heat index was 100. I was concerned but I must have managed my fluids well because I ran without cramping and any real discomfort. (Although I got so wet that some of my succeed tablets actually dissolved!)

This is a Ron Horn race, so beginning with the application through pre-race instructions and jokes posted along the trail you have plenty of politically incorrect humor. But Ron does put on a well organized race with plenty of dedicated volunteers. Sample: traditionally Ron starts the race by leading a chorus of insults 15K runners and 30K runners. Among the 15K insults: hope your parents had at some intelligent children.

The race has a difficult start because the trail narrows almost immediately. About a third of a mile into the race you must cross a narrow bridge and then climb a steep incline. This causes a choke point and a very slow first mile. After that it becomes easier to find your pace but passing can still be a problem.


Wooden Bridge
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.




As with many trail runs, we walked the steeper uphills. I was annoyed that I seemed to do these so slowly. It was especially embarrassing to be passed by some tiny woman. I mean shouldn’t my stride length alone keep me going.

Usually I was able to run hard on the downhills. Footing was tricky but you could run. I stumbled but never fell although I did observe a couple of tumbles. Once my foot slammed hard into a hole – I have a bruise on my foot but no serious damage.

Something I had never encountered on a trail run was mountain bikers. I was a bit annoyed that we had to squeeze over to make room on the already narrow path.

I wish I had a map of the course so I had a better idea of how it is laid out. There is at least one great loop because you pass a water stop at 4.5 and then again at 7.5. You circle a lake coming full around. The last mile is downhill or flat. Ironically, I almost made a wrong turn in that last mile. You briefly come out into a parking area and there was no one in front of me. I wasn’t sure where the course went. Fortunately a runner behind me spied the red tape that marked where we reentered the woods. From there it was an easy run on cinder until you come out on a path that has the lake on one side and a pool on the other. Several bathers had walked over to the pool fence and were cheering the runners.


Hopewell Lake
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
Hopewell Lake as seen from the pool area. The runners finish on the path by the boats.





Results Board
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.



Not sure the park approves but several runners cooled down by entering the lake. Felt great and was a quick way to lower the core body temperature. Tickets were provided that permitted the runners to use the pool showers – water was freezing but it was nice to get all the grime off before the ride home.

When I walked from the Lake back to the finish area I checked the results board and realized the first 30K runner would be coming in a few minutes. I waited around and he came sailing up the last incline looking great. I clapped for him and a few others nearby did too but mostly it went unnoticed. Good thing achievement is its own reward.

There were many impressive runners competing in that heat and humidity but I was especially impressed with Heide Moebius. She was one of those woman who sprang up the hills ahead of me. Although I could pass her on the downhills she would pass me on the next uphill. Great race Heide.


Age Group Winner
Originally uploaded by ctbrunner.
Heide Moebius

Friday, June 24, 2005

This is a very cool FLICKR hack




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Hneon r (wbrc)D