Sunday, December 24, 2006


A frequent discussion thread for runners is the timing of runs: Morning,mid-day, evening. But I reckon the majority of runners are morning runners. Which leads me to my theme - how do you get up.

I have a friend who has never used an alarm clock. He is so confident in his ability to wake when he wants he doesn't ever use one. Makes sense I guess - afterall for thousands of years humans had to get up without artificial aids, although I am guessing that most humans got up with dawn. Perhaps there a book that discusses how non-technological societies handled waking.

I remember reading that clocks or at least devices that accurately tracked time were developed by monks who needed to know when the hours of prayer occurred (Matins, Lauds, Prime, etc.).

Probably, Islam needed the same.

I still remember my first alarm clock, bought in a local five and ten. I was about 11 and my Father decided I was old enough to be responsible to get myself up. It was the kind with two bells, had a satisfying tick tock, and rang like the all the bells that terrified Scrooge just before Marley's appearance. I did love that clock.

For years now I have used a clock radio to get up but my wife still prefers an alarm ring to wake up. I am a solid sleeper and have slept through storms and calamities that have woken or kept my wife up but ironically I wake up easily and instantaneously.

I have some ability to wake up when I want but I am not as confident as my friend to forgo an clock altogether. Normally, I wake up about two minutes before the alarm goes off whether it is for 5:30 AM or my weekend 7 AM. This enables me to turn off the alarm so as not to disturb my wife. I am not sure how this works, but I just think of when I want to get up before going to sleep and I wake up at that time. I am lucky in that I generally fall right off to sleep and have almost never had insomnia.

I know there are some that recommend naps but I don't usually nap during the day although I have been know to fall asleep in front of the TV or while reading at night.

Do you use an alarm clock?
If so what kind?
Do you get right up or linger? Do you use the snooze alarm - I never
do - don't see the point of ten extra minutes?
Are you a light or heavy sleeper?

But best wishes to all for a very joyous holiday.

Chad Brooks

Monday, December 11, 2006


Two great runs this weekend:

On Saturday I did Bryn Mawr Running Club's Winter Prediction Run. Every Wednesday night during the Spring, Summer and Fall BMRC has club runs on a course known as the Tennis Loop. Runners can choose five, seven or ten miles. Several times a year the club makes these runs a prediction run - each runner picks a finish time and the winner is the runner closest to their predicted time. Because of safety concerns when Daylight Savings ends so does the Tennis Loop, but each December the club has the prediction run on Satruday morning. Entrance fee is an unwrapped toy and the club also encourages a shoe turn in. Toys and shoes are given to a local charity.

This was the first Tennis Loop Run since the Morris Avenue bridge linking Lancaster Avenue and Montgomery Avenue was closed for repairs. This means an alteration of course which of course affected everyone's prediction time. (I actually won, quite by fluke, a prediction run this year - but my prediction times have gotten better simply because I know the route well. New routing, new timing.)

So off I went pacing myself with various club members and chatting. About four miles into the course I am running alone but following a woman I have frequently finished with - I catch up with her and we run the last part together - I opinioned that I was going too fast for my prediction and with that she slows down. I am thinking jeez why is she listening to me!!! I keep going and my finish is about thirty seconds too fast - in this race that's a huge gap. But it was a fun run on a beautiful morning.

Sunday was the Reindeer Romp. This race follows a course I laid out nine years ago. This year I was on the race committee. Last year we had a huge crowd and one of the turnarounds was overly congestion. This year we came up with the idea of running part of the course backwards and it worked out great (thanks to some enegetic course marshals).

The course itself uses a busway - this is a former trolley car route that was paved over in the 1970's and is use only for SEPTA buses . Since the buses don't run on Sundays it makes a perfect race route. The start went smoothly even with a record number of runners (about 650 and another 200 walkers). The course is downhill, uphill, downhill, uphill. I went out very fast, probably too fast. I struggled a bit on the uphill and then was overly hesitant on the downhill. The finish is a half mile uphill that gets steeper as you close in on the finish. I had wanted to finish under 24 but just missed it probably because I started a little too far back. Still pleased with the race (I ended up third in my new age group).

After my race I helped with collecting the results - the timer was using barcodes and it was interesting to see how that worked (did you know you can't barcode single digits) and how the timer is married to finishers list. I also got my photo with Santa Claus. This was a very good Claus although he could use a good pair of black boots.

Now it's time for my Christmas rest. I will do some evening runs just to see the Christmas lights but not hard or long runs until the New Year.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


I knew it would be cold and dark this morning when I began my run. The surprise was that even though sunrise was still a half hour away the sky had already brightened considerably. But cold it was - last week I had run in shorts and a t-shirt; this week I needed a jacket, hat and mittens. It wasn't just cold (25F) but windy too. The wind is not too bad once in the woods, but how it roared overhead in the canopy.

The woods are in full winter mode - you can see deep thru the trees and the contours of the surrounding land are much more apparent. I love this change - sometimes in the summer wood I feel almost claustrophobic as the wood pushes in and grabs at you. But now the all the beauty of trunk and branch can be seen and appreciated.

I have decided that once across Painter Road I will run my usual path backwards. I like the newness this simple step creates and how different everything looks and feels.

I often see deer in the winter woods simply because the line of sight is improved, but today I am completely alone except for some small birds that seem to enjoy my company and flit ahead of me every few yards but never fly away.

I cross water very carefully. Last week I slipped and got wet feet - I don't want that today. As usually happens, less that a mile into the run I feel quite comfortable - my thumbs are a little cold but I draw up then into the mittens and feel good.

Because of my route I am in shadow most of the way. I know the sun is up because I can see the gold tones on the higher ridges and tree tops but along the creek I am still in shadow.

Last Sunday I went to the Darwin exhibit at the Franklin Institute. Tree height is an example of natural selection wherein some plants get advantage by getting more light. I realize looking up, this just isn't in relation to competition with other plants, but also because by stretching up, the tree will get more morning light. Even though no photosynthesis is happening now the effect is quite striking as light floods the heights.

At last my circuit is completed I as I climb higher, I too see the morning sun, brilliant but giving no heat.

I enter the field where my Oak lies. When I saw it fallen two weeks ago it was still in leaf but now it lies bare - its striking lattice structure revealed. I get my camera out to take a photo hoping to capture the moon still visible above. My camera, however, won't work - too cold. The lens extends but nothing fires up. Should have carried the camera under my jacket - oh well lesson learned. Even the short time without mittens has frozen my fingers and I can feel the chill seeping in. So one last look and then off. A hot shower and coffee will feel very good.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Philadelphia Marathon - The Half

I have run the Philadelphia Marathon every year but one since 1998 but
this year decided to take advantage of the new Half Marathon. I am
glad I did.

The marathon is newly sponsored by American Express. It was
interesting to note the changes; most of them not for the better but
more on that later.

If you are running a marathon for location Philly is one of the great
courses (with the proviso that not everyone enjoys doing the out and
back on Kelly Drive).

When I heard that the field was 12,000 I had assumed that there were a
majority of half marathoners, but I later learned that they had capped
the field to 2,000 since it was new and they wanted to see how it

Got to Mantua where I usually park about 6:45. In past years it was
easy to park there but a combination of marathoners knowing to go
there and neighborhood redevelopment make parking tough. I did manage
to squeeze into a spot about where I wanted to be.

At Eakins Oval I found some friends, talked race strategy, did my
pre-race rituals, and then went to drop off my baggage. This has
always been easy and well managed but this year it was a mess. Huge
long line with two kids trying to take bags. Later I learned that we
were suppose to drop out bags at designated points along the curb but
no one told us and there were no signs. Since I was a half runner and
finished with a decent time I had no trouble picking up my bag but it
must have been a mess when the crowds got there. Interesting thing –
when I was walking around after the race with my bag at least a half
dozen people came up to me looking for the baggage tent. Strange, but
maybe they had someone drop their stuff and didn't know where to go.
For some reason they had moved the tent from where it had been the
last three years.

But on to the race. Got into the crowd at the just below the eight
minute pace sign. And stood near the 3:50 pace group. I was planning
on running 1:50 and figure I could pace on that group for awhile. Met
an old running friend who was planning on a 3:50 finish (and he ran
3:48) and we chatted as the clock ticked pass 8AM and no start. No
sound system so we had no idea what was going on. But suddenly
without fanfare we were moving forward and to my surprise, considering
how packed in we were, we were running fairly well. I say fairly
because the first mile was a little slow – about nine minutes.

But from then on the pace was good. I kept the 3:50 pacer in sight
but ran as I wanted. As usually happens in big races without corrals
a lot of people ahead had not seeded themselves correctly and I had to
waste some energy in passing – I tried to minimize it but sometimes I
was boxed in and was so off pace I had to try to move to an open spot.
(It was kind of like being on the expressway. I would draft off the
3:50 pacer and someone would move in front of me and then inexplicably
slow down.)

The course starts on the Parkway, moves onto Arch and then Race. Both
of those streets are relatively narrow but finally you move onto
Delaware Avenue and you get some running room. However, we get to
mile 3 and whoa – my split shows 9:15. Something is clearly wrong.
It was interesting how a ripple of murmuring spread across the field
as those keeping track of splits realized something is off. Meanwhile
the 3:50 pace takes off and a couple of people say what the heck is
going on. I counsel a couple of people I've been running with to hold
steady. I am not a great pacer but I knew I didn't fall off 45
seconds. I hold steady with maybe a little pickup. Get to mile four
and my watch reads 6:40 – this would be a near pr for a mile let alone
four miles. The markers were obviously off.

We're down South Street then up Sixth to Chestnut – there seems to be
more spectators than in past years and they are pretty vocal.

When we get to 34th and move toward the Zoo and Fairmount Park there
is a pretty good hill. The hype for the race is how flat the course
is – I guess the race director forgot about 34th. Flat and furious
and other lies Race Directors tell.

We are into Fairmont Park and then climbing the hill to Memorial Hall.
There is always a sign posted Last Hill. I hope the first timers
don't really believe it. I am feeling excited. I know mile ten is
just ahead and I feel great. The course has been adjusted and mile
ten has moved from in front of Memorial Hall to Belmont Ave. I
realize that I have caught up with the 3:50 group.

This is where they split the Marathoners from the Halves. We take a
short cut right to the Japanese Tea House cutting a mile off the
course. When we merge back with the marathoners I figure we are now
with marathoners who want to run about 3:45 or better. I figure they
will be going faster than me but surprisingly I am passing large
numbers of runners. There is a steep drop to Martin Luther King
Drive. In the past I have tried to be cautious here so as not to over
run my pace but I have less then three miles so I push hard down the

BTW at the split is where I have another problem with the race
organization. The race you were running was indicated by you bib
color. Marathoners were blue; halves were pink. So you would think
the mile markers would use the same nomenclature. They didn't – it
was backward the half marathon marks were blue; the marathon mile
marks pink. It caused no end of confusion among the runners. Some
hit the splits and then realize it was wrong. Definitely should have
been made clearer.

I am running very well – no cramps, no fatigue. I am at the Art
Museum in what seems no time. The finish is slightly up hill but I
know I am done. The finish is a little surprise (but on reflection
how else could they have done it). You must make a tight corkscrew to
get into the finish chute. So much for a dramatic racing finish.

Writing this now I wonder what happened as the race progressed and
slow half marathoners mingled fast marathoners. How did they manage
the finish especially for the top male and female? Hmm?

After the race I quickly picked up my bag and went to get some
goodies. The food area was completely without volunteers. It wasn't
clear where you should enter. And they had bananas, apples, pretzels.
Now maybe it was because I was early. Maybe they got organized by
the time marathoners got there but still… when I pay such high entry
fees is it unreasonable to expect a little variety – and what happen
to the chicken soup. Every Philly marathon I have done had chicken
soup at the end.

Anyway . . . I walked down about a quarter mile, saw some Bryn Mawr
people and watched the elites come in. Michael McKeeman who trains
with Deena Kastor and who gave a talk at the Bryn Running Club annual
meeting came in second with a personal pr. The night he spoke someone
asked about his goals and he said to win the Philadelphia Marathon.
He ran a very smart race moving up in the last miles from seventh to
second. Another goal was to qualify for the Olympic trials and that
he has done. Bob Schwelm owner of the Bryn Mawr Running Company and
life force of the Bryn Mawr Running Club came in at 47 yrs, 21st
overall and 1st in his age group in a very respectable 2:33. Mike
Patterson that I trained with for so many years and Diane still trains
with came in third in his age group (53) at 2:55.

I had only planned on staying for awhile but actually ending up
cheering until the four hour runners came by. Fascinating watching
the runners come by in every shape, size and running style imaginable.
Some smiling, some in real distress. A runner went down directly in
front of us and had to be ambulanced out. A woman went down and
looked finished then got up and began walking to the finish – she got
quite of road of approval.

I now appreciate more than ever the effort and stamina my wife and
daughter have shown when they have waited for me at marathons' end.
And I also realize how very difficult it is to pick out runners as
they go by. I missed several runners I was looking for especially as
the four hour runners went by.

Lots of cramped runners even on this cool day showing hydration and
electrolyte replacement is key to success.

As for me I missed my goal 1:50 and finished 1:51:09. 16th in my age
group (but I would have been second if I was 60). I will have to go
back and look at my splits to see what happened but I think the slow
start and hitting each split a few seconds slower then optimal was
enough. Overall though a very good race for me. Oh and I noted that
the two runners in my age group ahead of me actually ran slower chip
times but were ranked based on gun time. I may have started too far
back (on the other hand a slower start may have been why I felt so
good at the end.)

Last race in this age group - next race I will 60. Yeah.
The Old Oak


and Fallen





Friday, November 17, 2006


"Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind...."
"Our chestnut tree is in full blossom. It is covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year...."

Anne Frank

As you may have read, Anne Frank’s chestnut tree will be cut down because of disease. It was about a hundred and fifty years old.

Last year a dead runner shared with a time lapse movie he had complied from a series of photos taken over a years time.

Inspired by that, for the last year, every week I have taken a photograph of a tree on the grounds of Tyler Arboretum. I carried my camera on every Friday trail run and no matter what path I took I made sure I passed the tree. When I knew I was going to be away or for some other reason couldn’t run on Friday I would hike in as close to the day as I could. I even walked thru a couple of feet of snow to get to the tree.
Two weeks ago I had a very nice run in near peak fall foliage. My tree, an oak, never displayed much color my I was anxious to see how it looked. My normal approach is down a wooded path then out onto a field (the same field where I saw the fox kits last spring). The path runs between the woods and the field gradually climbing and curving.

As soon as I came out into the open I sensed something was awry. Normally, I could momentarily see the top of my tree before it was hidden by turn of the trail. But not that day. A little further on I could see the tree still in full leaf but it was obvious that something was very wrong. It was lying low to the ground – Iwas seeing the top of the tree. I hurried forward and my worst fears were confirmed. The tree was down – cracked and splintered at the base. I couldn’t believeit; it had never looked unhealthy. But I could see the rot deep inside. I walked all around it wanting not to be so.
Later in the week I spoke to a volunteer at the Arboretum. She said a neighbor had been working in her yard and heard the tree groaning and creaking. There was not a great wind but suddenly the tree toppled. They believe the tree was more than a hundred years old. They have posted a sign asking that no one cut anything from the tree – they hope to save the wood for a project in Arboretum.
The lost of the great trees always saddens me even though I know it is part a nature’s course. Anne’s tree has been saved in a small way. Cuttings were made and a stripling will be planted, but, of course, many years will past before it is a great tree.

That is the way with trees: they are likely to long outlive us seemingly unchanging, but when gone they leave a gap not easily filled.
My tree is gone and there is probably no cutting to replace it, but the Arboretum mindful of its legacy has been planting trees this year. Encased in plastic to protect them from deer they aren’t much to look at now but hopefully in a hundred years they will awe some hiker even as I was awed by my oak.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Into The Woods

 Posted by Picasa
Fall Woods

 Posted by Picasa
Fall Colors

This morning as I started running it was still quite dark – the first mile or so I ran into branches and tripped over stones and branches hidden by leaf litter. But I have the trail etched in memory and so navigated the twists and turns pretty easily. Then the dawn light began – at first it was a steel gray light but briefly the clouds parted and as I ran on the edge of the woods, a treeless marsh to my right, the sky became this wonderful red purple. All around me there is the yellow and orange of fall. It is far too beautiful for a short run so I stretch out the route to take me on a wider arc.

Why I wonder does fall foliage so resonate with us? After all it is the harbinger of winter. And fall is a melancholic time compared with spring. Yet the most recent Runners World has a poll indicating that for a majority of runners (52%) fall is their favorite running season. I was a city kid so it’s not like I have childhood associations with fall and I doubt if my Irish ancestors in the west of Ireland had this kind of fall so it is not a genetic memory.

I just know that I found this morning achingly beautiful. Even though it is hunting season, twice I got quite close to small groups of deer. I stopped more than once to take in the views. Tomorrow they are predicting heavy rain and wind so it is quite possibly that next week trees will be quite bare.

For the Japanese the cherry blossom symbolizes the brevity of life but for me it is this profusion of autumnal color that says cherish the moment.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jordan Pond Acadia National Park

Carriage Road Bridge - Acadia National Park

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


It has been a busy month – this has to be one of my favorite running seasons. Cool temps and beautiful foliage make every run a joy.

I ran a local 5K on September 29th. The Eagle Bank 5K is actually a race for Delaware County Community Hospital Cancer Center and besides the good cause I feel compelled to race because the Hospital is a major sponsor for Haverford Township Day.

Nice course that begins at the Hospital but is mainly run thru a pleasant but very hilly neighborhood. I was talking to an acquaintance whom I hadn’t seen for many years and actually missed the start. Fortunately, I was able to thread my way thru the crowd without much effort. Ran well and finished just under 24 minutes (23:59)

Then the 7th was Haverford Township Day. Weather is always a big concern since we have no rain day. The 5K itself went well – despite wet windy weather 185 runners showed up. Well under our peak numbers from last year’s perfect weather but not bad. Our breakdown between pre-registered and same day is that almost 2/3’s are same day. Another race director told me that is not unusual but I wonder why – especially for something like a small hometown race or is that why. I guess people wait to see if anything else it happening or if the weather is to their liking since they can get to the race without much hassle or worry. Still it is nerve racking and makes it difficult to start on time. Is this common?

I was pleased with the race timer, police, public works people and volunteers who did an outstanding job and thought we gave a good experience to the runners who did come.

The rest of the day went well. I had some trepidations that this being an election year the politicians would be obnoxious but actually everyone was well behaved and courteous and the parade and subsequent events went great.

The very next day I drove to Maine – no races this year but a very enjoyable week. I spent one day biking in Acadia National Park on the carriage trails. What a beautiful place. One day I spent a couple of hours running in the Bangor City Forest. Very interesting because it is a working forest with different sections cut in different ways (despite its name it is a private enterprise and not owned by the city).

On the 14th (Saturday) we went to the opening of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge (I think there is still some controversy about the name but I believe this is correct.) It replaces the Waldo Hancock Bridge. The bridge isn't quite finished but they allowed the public to walk over the bridge. Great weather and more fantastic views. Although not yet open a 420 foot Observation Tower in one of the bridge piers should become quite a tourist attraction.

This Saturday I ran another small 5K. This one was for First Responders and took place in Nether Providence. Because I had been in Maine I missed the Hero Scholarship Run so I thought I would do this run to honor the County’s first responders.

Another neighborhood/family oriented event with a nice course through a pleasant suburban neighborhood. Ran a little faster that two weeks ago but this was a mostly flat course. I was running alone with the nearest runners being a couple of hundreds yards in front of me. At mile 2 I heard someone say first women. It turned out that the lead woman was just behind me with a half mile to go she passed me and I couldn’t muster enough kick to stay with her. After the race she thank me for pacing her but I wish I could have pushed a little more at the end. Still it was kind of neat to be with a leader – don’t think that has ever happen before. By the way I was surprised when I looked at the results to see what an old crowd this was. There were a lot of 40 and 50 runners and not many 20s but lots of kids. Maybe because it was family oriented. A quick glance at the results showed (I think) that I was the oldest one running. Too bad there was no award for that (I’m stuck in the 50-59 group for another couple of weeks).

So that’s it for October – next weekend I have family obligations but come November I will be doing the Ben Franklin Bridge Run. I do love bridges.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More Views From The Roof

What a perch!

At The Tailgate Party - What a view

At The Finish

At The Expo

First Day of Fall

Actually on the east coast fall is tomorrow (23rd) at 12:55 AM but I celebrated it this morning with a wonderful run on the trails.

About 50F when I started out the dew heavy on the grasses. The light is wonderful; the kind of light that transfixes artists and fills you with delight in the morning. After a couple of miles in woodland it is startling to come out onto a field of goldenrod* and realize how much brighter it has become. I love looking out on all that goldenrod but soon plunge back into the woods.

I flush a small herd of deer who will shortcut through the woods and greet me one more time further down the trail. It seems very quiet this morning. I have tried to mix up my route by taking a path I haven't used before. Just as I begin to worry it is taking me to far afield it intersects with a trail I know and I turn onto familiar territory but from a new direction which makes it feel new. I have come in a great loop around and come out on another meadow filled with goldenrod and other late blooming plants.

Sometimes in summer I don't feel the woods very welcoming. The paths close in and stickers tear at me impeding my passage; the heat closes in and you feel drained, but today I feel completely one with the landscape. I am running with woods on my left and the fields on my right. A cliché I am sure but idyllic is the only word that describes it.

*Goldenrod and ragweed are often confused. Goldenrod does not cause allergies. I did see ragweed too but Arboretum has encouraged the goldenrod hence the large expanses of it just outside their deer fence.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Philadelphia Distance Run

It is always easier to write about a tremendous success or an unmitigated disaster then a simple disappointment so I have delayed an account of Sunday’s Philadelphia Distance Run.

When I signed up for the run a couple of months ago I put down 2 hours as my predicted race finish. That seemed reasonable and doable at the time. Then I ran the CHaD Outrun The Sun in 1:50 and thought maybe I could replicate that time in Philly. True the CHaD was 8 miles of downhill but it also had some climbs but Philly was mostly flat which I presumed would even out.

Saturday was rainy but Sunday morning was quite beautiful. However, it was still humid and warmish.

Easy ride down to the race and into the parking garage about a mile from the start.

A nice, early start at 7:45 meant there wouldn’t be much of a wait which I liked. Curiously, I didn’t run into anybody I knew before the race. I had brought some Endurance to the start and drank it run up to the start. I was in the eighth corral. I had expected a wave start but they started everyone together, however the start was smooth although very crowded. I felt the pace too slow but tried not to weave and dodge.

The race heads east down the Parkway to City Hall where you make a couple of sharp turns ending on Market. I am steadily pacing runners pushing my second mile pace to 8:40. It seems about right although I worry that I am not as relax as I should be but then it often takes me three or four miles before I felt I have hit my natural pace.

I can see that already runners are drenched in sweat and I know this will be a tough race for me. As it turns out even knowing this I do a poor job at the water stops – missed one altogether and at another got only a half cup of water.

The replacement drink is Amino Vital which I am reluctant to take since I never had it before (I do take a bottle at the end of the race and found I disliked the taste). At a couple of the water stops they are calling Gatorade – thinking it is the Amino Vital I avoid it but later learned it was in fact Gatorade. You know by now I should really be better at fluid management and sometimes I am but not today.

The miles roll by, the dullness of Center City, the beautiful Parkway as the Art Museum looms closer and closer and then onto Martin Luther King Drive (West River Drive). Still passing but feeling the effort. My miles splits are edging up toward 9 minutes but I am reluctant to push harder thinking I will wait until I cross Falls Bridge to push.

When you cross Falls Bridge you have about 4 miles left and I am still in good shape and there is a quarter mile drop just after the bridge which I try to push.

Not good – despite greater effort the next mile is my slowest yet. Nothing specific just not moving. Consolation – lots of walkers including some fit looking runners and more than a few on the side with obvious cramps. The heat is a friend to some but to me and others an enemy. When I hit the 10 mile mark it doesn’t seem right. How can I still have three to go – is it really that far to the Art Museum.

But I am running not walking so I sail on. Past my landmarks: Grant, the Stone Tunnel, the Cowboy, the Viking, Boathouse row. I am concentrating on pushing for a sub 2hr finish now (and I will make it – just barely –

8239 Charles Brooks Havertown PA 59 M 1:59:24 2:04:01 4629 3140 121 )

Strange how the 2 hour finish now seems hollow and my self pity will only increase when I learn my Tuesday night running mates all finished five or six minutes faster.

In the finish area I feel sick – probably the Cliff Shots I took too late in the race. But I quickly recover. Out into the finishers’ turmoil of walking thru the goody line and exiting seeing a friendly face, Mukund, who has been waiting for me. Then I make a mistake – I haven’t had enough to drink and I missed water coming out (Wish races would have water available after you live the finish area) I sat down. The cramps come quickly and agonizingly. These may be the worse I ever had I need to get up and walk but can’t – my calves are visible writhing as if filled with tiny worms. I kick over a bottle of Gatorade Mukund was kind enough to give me. I’m thinking I need to get to a medical tent and Mukund sprints off to get me help. But then as suddenly as they began – they stop. Just like that. And I feel find – very strange.

Anyway I collect Mukund, assure the medicos I am fine and as we walk away I spy a runner on a stretcher with oxygen and an IV and start to feel very lucky it was only cramps. Both Mukund and I are amazed by all the runners still streaming into the finish area and I realize a two hour finish still put me in front of 7000 other runners.

Back a mile to the parking garage for the Bryn Mawr Runners tailgate. Spectacular views from the roof, lots of good food and talk. I have some jobs waiting at home so I take off only to later realize I left my running shoes of the roof. Yikes. A fast, furious return to downtown, snagged by some miracle a parking spot on 15th street and raced up to the roof. Whew. Still there where I left them.

Later that day the Eagles would lose a heartbreaker to the Giants unable to hold on to a big lead in the fourth quarter. Damn if I didn’t know exactly how they felt.

Last night was the final prediction run. I couldn't replicate my winning prediction from the summer even though I wore my blue Pumas (that I had won for best prediction and had thought might bring luck), but I was within thirty seconds (if you aren't within 20 seconds you aren't in the money) and was pleased with that.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wasnt It Just The Fourth Of July

Wasn’t It Just The Fourth of July

That’s what I thought as I ran trails on a cool, misty September morning.  A couple of weeks ago I felt I could sense fall coming but now it is unmistakable.  The trees are still green of course but the path is covered with leaf litter and the grasses have gone to seed.

The day brightens and I can spy blue sky but the sun is low and still hidden.  A light mist drifts through, the grass is very wet underfoot, and on the deer fence the spider webs glisten.  Some are small and occupy perfectly just the one square of wire.  But others are enormous and stretch out, their mistresses still in the center.

Last week the woods were filled with deer but today I only encounter one large doe.  She was using the same path as I.   She turns and watches me for several seconds before bounding off into the underbrush.

There are many trees down but no path is completely blocked and a large tree that had blocked by path last week has already been removed by the Arboretum staff.  (The Arboretum keeps it paths clear – the state park is less diligent and new paths are created as hikers seek ways around.)

The past several runs I have tried new pathways.  I am familiar enough now with these trails now I have little fear of getting “lost”.  Even when markings disappear I know if I hold direction I will encounter something familiar and get back on track.

Nearing the end of my run I am running with the wood to my left and a meadow to my right.  In the summer I am usually quite exhausted by now, but today I am bounding easily along. Last spring this is where I saw the fox kits but now tall grasses dominant.  I come up a small hill and stop for a moment to take in the scene as the field stretches out framed by trees and sky, the lingering mist now quickly burning off.  Not sure how to put this into words but it all seemed so right.   It was simply a beautiful morning.

This should be a great weekend:  tomorrow a 5K, then right off to the shore where I plan on running, swimming and biking the whole weekend.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

This volunteer grew up in Coopertown, a section of Haverford Township, small world isn't it.

Waiting For The Bus

CHaD Poster At Finish Line

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

CHAD Outrun The Sun Half Marathon

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Hanover, NH

I did travel to Maine to run a half marathon but that was part of a longer stay to visit family. This was unusual - to travel almost 400 miles for a race less than a marathon. But how could I resist - especially with your encouragement.

The trip to Vermont was uneventful – we left at 4AM and were on the Garden State Parkway early enough that traffic was still light. Once thru Hartford and on to I91 the traffic became lighter and lighter until finally in Vermont I just set the cruise control to 70 with barely another vehicle in sight.

We were staying in Norwich, Vermont which is about a mile from Hanover, NH where Dartmouth College is located. The Norwich Inn was a little more rustic than I expected and I think in the future I will stick with chain hotels. Still it had a brew pub attached which softened me if not my wife.

On arrival we drove over to New Hampshire and after some wandering determined where the race buses would leave on Saturday. (I suppose it is the stereotype of New Englanders and Vermont in particular but generally speaking I did not find people very friendly or helpful.)

Saturday we investigated the local farmers’ market and some of the local shops and then (much too early) we drove over to Hanover. I parked in the local parking garage and jogged over to the Medical School parking lot where the busses were scheduled to depart.

At first I thought I had gone to the wrong lot since there seemed to be so little activity but then in the distance I spotted a table with water bottles. Turns out I was one of the first runners to show up. I chatted with the volunteer at the table and discovered that he had grown up in the Coopertown Section of Haverford Township. Small world. Then I spoke to a couple of runners, doctors it turned out who had driven up from Massachusetts. Turns out one of them took his some of his medical training at Pennsylvania Hospital and knew Philly well.

Bussed out to start on the first bus and so got to see the crowd gradually swell – the weather which had been cloudy all day broke and we got some sunshine. There was one of those small country cemeteries next to start area and it was interesting to walk thru and reflect on those lives recorded on the eroding stones.

Start was pretty much on schedule. I wanted to be mid pack since I figure that was where I would finish. I knew that most of the course was downhill and one of the docs from Mass had warned me that the finish (last couple miles) was uphill so I thought I would try for 8:30 miles. This first mile was right on the money more thru happenstance then by designed. For once I was patient and did not try to muscle my way through or zig zag to openings but just stayed with the flow. I course was lovely, mostly shaded country road. I found after a few miles that I was passing runners even though my pace felt quite easy. The terrain was rolling with some uphills but then long downs. Some of the roads weren’t completely closed to traffic but traffic was very light and not a problem.

The water stops were well placed and I had no problem getting water – and though not announced some did have Gatorade which seemed well mixed. (On the other hand the water which was bottled had a strange taste – maybe I missed the chlorine.)

At one point I spotted a huge hawk which had settled on the ground and seemed unfazed by the line of runners just a dozen feet away.

Spectators were sparse but those who watched were friendly and enthusiastic.

I missed a mile marker at eight and later at 11 so I am not as certain about my splits. I know I slowed but mostly I was still passing people especially on the uphills. There was a long uphill when the course turned onto highway 120. I did have a little lapse in mile 11 and I think I slowed considerably but when I saw mile 12 I was determined to run the last mile strong. If you are familiar with Dartmouth 11 and 12 are around Occum Pond. There was one last uphill and then a few hundred meters into Dartmouth Green.

My wife was calling out sprint, sprint and (she later told me) a spectator said I think he is (God bless him).

The announcer called out my name, age and hometown. Unfortunately I had signed up using my driver’s license name. It would have been cool if I had signed up as Chad.

Results: 247 (out of 539) 25/42 (50 to 59 age group) 1:50:48 (chip time) 8:28 1:51:03 (gun time)

There was plenty of water at the end but instead of food offerings each runner was given a voucher for food at the block party set up on Main Street. And here is my only criticism of an event that was very well organized, with great volunteers. The list of food vendors was impressive with delicious sounding choices but when I finally got over to the food area many of the vendors had already run out of food. I stood in line for a long time only to realize the vendor was never going to be able to accommodate everyone in line and there was no provision for my wife to get anything. (I had gotten the idea the vendors would be selling for to the non-runners.) But one of the vendors not on the street was Quizzo’s. It was a short walk and while crowded they handled the crush very well. I had never been to a Quizzo but thought it was very good especially for fast food.

Sunday it rained but we had a good time exploring the local countryside (with some shopping for my wife) so much so that we never got to the Hood Museum which looked interesting. Sunday night we went to a concert at a local school. I had seen a small advertisement in the local paper. A young woman had organized the yearly event to remember her sister who had died of leukemia seven years ago. It was quite touching to be there.

Monday morning I ran from Norwich to Hanover and looped the campus. I was tempted to stop someone and see if I could find the server that houses the dead runners and pay homage but I knew it was futile and probably would lead someone to report a crazy person.

Nice ride home with some exploration of the Brattleboro area – went out to Hogshead Mountain for the Hundred Mile View and then “downtown” Brattleboro where I photographed the Hotel Brooks. Lots of Northern Exposure/sixties types, art and craft stores, and three bookstores within a block.

Then on home with only the usual crunch in Hartford (it seems on every return journey from New England I run into some kind of traffic incident there).

So I am back home – when I left it had been the driest August ever – now it has been raining for three days with more on the way. Glad I will be home this weekend and grateful for the weather I had last weekend.

Monday, August 21, 2006

This is the time of year when it is still summer but you can feel it rapidly coming to an end. The mornings are already dark and along the trails many plants have gone to seed and have withered away.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Half Wit Half Marathon

309 2:44:11 BROOKS CHARLES HAVERTOWN PA M 59 (About 490 runners)

So I am on my way to Reading for my fourth Half-Wit. Off the Schuylkill Expressway and on to 422, Ron Cade is celebrating the life of Elvis who died 29 years ago the 16th of August. Beautiful morning, light traffic, I am pushing hard forward. Out of the corner of my eye I see a trooper on the median. But no movement – whew must not have been set up. A minute later flashing lights. I’m still hoping he’s after the guy in front of me but no luck – I’m the target. Well, as my wife later said, all that pedal pushing finally caught up with me. I just hoped all my adrenaline wasn’t drained away.

I have done 4 Half Wits now. Two of them were real disasters. But last year I conquered the course and this year I did even better. Of course, the weather helped. Dry, cooler temps came in this week and for mid August the weather couldn’t have been better.

I saw Jim Adams just before the race.

The race takes place in a hardscrabble park (Eglemans Park) next to hardscrabble Reading. It is not exactly pristine wilderness but parts are quite nice.

The race began about 9:30 after the usual Ron Horn delay. The first mile is a curious loop with a number of chokepoints that make if very slow especially for the mid pack runners. Just past the first mile you run through the pavilion that is used for registration and the finish activities. I had left a water bottle filled with Gatorade’s endurance. I also planned on taking Succeed and decided to use the first one at the water stop just outside the pavilion. A lot of runners skip this water having just started but it is a mistake since the water stops fairly far apart. Lot of the trail is one runner narrow so you may find yourself going slower than you want but eventful you get to a pass point. I felt the first few miles were a little two slow but mostly I was running a good pace. When we got to the mid point and the infamous 128 steps from hell (this is that strange arrangement of granite curbing going from a ball field to the trail) I knew I was in very good shape. When it has been hot I have found getting up those steps very difficult, every step an effort. But Sunday I almost bounded up and was impatience with the runners ahead of me carefully picking their way up.

Once on the flat I raced ahead - almost no one passed me in the next six miles and I passed runner after runner. Although my time was slow if felt great to be so strong in the later stages of the race. Also in my favor was my familiarity with the course – a few runners asked me how much further and I knew they were probably hurting. I encouraged and moved on.

Around mile 9/10 you begin a loop where the faster runners are finishing their last mile while you are just beginning your final loop. It can be discouraging but Sunday I felt so good I just teased them that they must have taken a short cut and warned them the fast runners would be blood tested for banned substances.

Ron had posted his usual corny jokes at various points in the race but one of his jokes this year was to post Worst Hill at the base of every hill. Well for me that last hill in mile 11/12 has always been the Worst. It is a rocky, winding climb that never seems to end. But Sunday I wondered why I had every let it bother me. It seemed that easy. I was running so well I almost stopped for two beers at the last water stop but I settled for one – toasted the runners still coming and ran hard to the finish.

I haven’t seen the official results but I think I was about 2:44. I know that sounds slow for a half marathon but for this course and for me that was a great time and the best part was how good I felt and how much energy I still had at the finish.

I was able to clean off, change, enjoy a couple of hot dogs before heading home and explaining a hundred dollar traffic fine. Oh Well – no day is perfect.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

There were lots of logs down across the paths; this one was easy to run under others were more difficult.

If you look close you can see two runners going down the last incline. Some chose to just slide down, but I did managed to stay on my feet.

Ron Horn - Founder of the Feast Checking The Score Board

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The Finish Line

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The Pavilion - The staging and finish area

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Jim Adams - Dead Runner

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Half Wit Half Marathon August 13, 2006

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

So are you running?

This is a question I have heard often during the current heat wave. Neighbors, friends even fellow runners ask. Sometimes I will hear that question in the winter cold but never with quite the same frequency as this week. On my early morning runs there are a regular cast of characters I will meet, mostly other runners and walkers but there is one fellow who walks to the P&W (a light rail connecting Norristown and Upper Darby). Normally we only exchange good mornings but the other day he asked, “Isn’t it hot for running?” Well yes it is, but wow you are walking almost a mile and will have to repeat this evening – a much tougher task it seems to me, (That’s what I thought but what I said was, “It sure is!”

I have been running my usual schedule and distance including Tuesday night speed work. Last week I had the good fortune to in Bethany Beach (DE) and got to run on the beach.

I have been getting up fifteen minutes early so that I am out the door by 5:30. The tough runs have been my trail runs. The woods are in full summer green and some of less used paths are closed in with vegetation that seems determine to keep you out and prevent any breeze from softening the humid heat.

I can’t say that these are enjoyable runs – more get it done and over with runs.

But up until today I haven’t had any heat related problems. Today was cooler and lest humid and I thought my run would be easy. I even slept in a little but perhaps I was still dehydrated from yesterday’s run or maybe it was the strong sun or maybe I started out too fast but for the first time I really bonked. The familiar feeling of cramping began about mile seven and I felt leg heavy and little disoriented. In the last half mile I walked several times something I never do in training runs.

I have increased my fluids significantly and I’ll be interested in seeing how tomorrow morning goes. I will be going out early so I can run with Elvis and Ron Cade.

I have an ambitious schedule ahead of me with three half marathon in the next six weeks. I will taper a bit toward the end of this week in preparation for the most difficult of these runs – the Half Wit Half Marathon.

So are you running? I will be but hopefully more carefully and thoughtfully.

Friday, July 21, 2006


After five years of running the trails in Tyler and Ridley Creek Park I finally got a shot of a deer!!!

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop."

Attributed to Confucius

Everyday I get a quote delivered in my email from

I am always suspicious of Confucius quotes - I have a feeling that many are made up and couldn't be traced back to a documented source, but I thought this quote, whoever penned it, was interesting grist for runner debate.

Runners generally fall somewhere along the divide of those who run hard for specific goals and those who run for running. At anytime during our running we may drift in or out of one camp or more rarely straddle nicely the middle line.

I think we all are aware of the debates concerning the increasingly longer average time for marathons and whether this is good or bad for the sport.

In my marathon runs I have followed the dictum of the quote. I would go slower but I would never stop, but I know professional runners and many amateurs feel that if it's not happening that day then there is no purpose in continuing the run. (This is absent an injury wherein you must stop but rather the strategy of conserving effort for another day.)

As I get older I feel I will need to embrace this quote even if I will always have at least a foot in the run hard camp.

So are you a stopper or a go slowly - or is this another artificial divide without application in the real world?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ventnor City Fourth Of July Mile Run

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Double Trouble Trail Run - The Results

Now I find this interesting:

2005 Results

2006 Results

Despite the adverse conditions yesterday and despite falling I was almost seven minutes faster and 38 positions higher. Checking last year's web posting I see the heat index was 100 degrees. I have a feeling that I like running more in the rain then in the heat.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Double Trouble Trail Run (15K)

This is one of the runs managed by the infamous Ron Horn of Pretzel City Sports known for his unique run applications. It is held in French Creek State Park. I didn’t remember it as so hilly but it is mostly going up or down. You can choose to run a 15K or continue on for a second loop. I have only ever done the 15.

The weather forecasters predicted heavy rain this weekend. At home it has been mostly intermittent, but as I headed west on the Turnpike it began to rain pretty steadily. It was mostly light for the next couple of hours.

Ron’s races rarely start on time and today was no exception. His pre-race instructions are part of the entertainment, including having the 15K runners taunt the 30K and vice-versa. Ron gives a head start to runners who come a distance – after lining up runners from Florida, South Dakota, and LaPaz, Bolivia he asked if anyone else came from a distance. Someone called out my buddy who is two days back from 18 months in Iraq. It was nice to see him given a warm welcome.

The first mile is always a little slow since it takes time for the pack to string out and there are a few choke points including a narrow bridge. But soon I was running at a good pace. There are two climbs in the race. For a long time I was able to run up the hills, but as the race went on it began to rain harder and more steadily and the trail conditions got muddy going uphill was more difficult. On a downhill I past a runner, but on the next flat he called out on your left as I moved to my right my feet came out from under me and I went down hard on my left side. A lot of the trail is very rocky but luckily this stretch was more so while dirty I had a cushy landing. The passing runner ran back and helped me up but I was fine and quickly back on pace. The runner behind asked if I was ok – you went down pretty hard. Hey falling is part of trail running, I’m great. (But my shoulder did ache a bit – probably regret all this wear and tear when I’m sixty.) So on we went – being passed and passing others. The runner who asked how I was, was just in front of me when we made a 90 degree turn and down he went. The trail turned sharply up and was a channel of deep, red clay. There was no solid footing at all if you tried to go to the sides you slipped down. Better just to slog thru the mud but what an uphill.

But after that the footing while churned mud was a little easier if you edged it out. Also the last couple of miles are mostly downhill. I was surprised that some people were walking but then I have been there in some races.

The last couple of hundred yards are on a macadam type surface with a tiny uphill and I ran in hard as I could.

Well it’s been said before on this list – in running we get to play, rain and mud only make it more fun.

And the promised hot water was actually warm this year so we got to shower before heading home.

On my way home just before I got to the Turnpike I got a flat tire, not good luck but as I was trying to get the lug nuts off a tow truck driver stopped (I had AAA available thanks to my wife's quick work but thought it would take them forever to get to me) and he quickly got me back on the road. Thanks to Crawford Auto and Dan Brookes.
View of the pavilion - Hopewell Lake - the run will circle the lake.

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