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.