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.


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


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

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

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.


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


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



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