Friday, May 26, 2006


Tuesday night I ran from my house to Haverford College for the Tuesday night track work with Bryn Mawr. On my way, the kids from the neighborhood were walking to the local school (St. Dennis) for the eighth grade graduation. The graduates were all wearing their robes. One young fellow must a been a little late because he was running along robe flowing around him. I couldn't help thinking it looked like a scene out of Harry Potter.

Beautiful evening, fairly strong NW winds as a high pressure system moved in. But the wind settled just as we began. Nice, hard workout. 4x400, 300, 200 with 100 yard jog between intervals and 400 jog between sets. Goal was to go a little faster then 5K pace, picking up the pace each interval. Pace leader was like a metrodome and made sure we kept hard to the intervals, so we got a great aerobic workout.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday Morning Run

My little postage stamp of a woods is nothing like a real wilderness, but for me it is a refuge that I look forward to for ninety minutes each Friday. This morning it was there were lowering clouds and rumbles of thunder and I expected to get drenched any minute but the rain held off to just after I finished.

The light from the constantly changing sky animated the woods and brought it to life in way that a clear blue sky wouldn’t have. The woods are that bright, alive green of late spring and the large, older trees really do seem like pillars in a temple.

Along the trail I stop to tie my shoe and as I look up there is a deer just in front of me. She was coming down the trail in the opposite direction – as soon as she saw me she turned and disappeared noiselessly in that magically way of deer.

This is a comforting wood; it is cool and damp and very quiet – there is bird chatter but not the cacophony of early spring.

The only new disturbance is a man made clearing near the arboretum deer fence. There are new plantings encased in plastic tubes – protection I suppose from the deer. They will be quite beautiful someday, but now it is a little jarring, a strange alien intrusion in “my” wood.

I round the field where I saw the fox kits two weeks ago, but they are gone and the den appears, at least for now, abandoned.

One last stretch of wood and then the field that leads back to the highway.

As always I am reluctant to leave this sanctuary but it has given a very lovely morning.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tyler Arboretum Rhodedendron Garden

  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Broad Street

Well defying conventional wisdom and, yes, common sense I ran the Broad Street Ten Mile Run last Sunday. I just couldn’t resist continuing the streak since this is the one race I have run every year since I began running.

The expo this year was at the Eagles football stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, and I thought it was a pretty successful venue, easy to get to and easy to park.

This was another record setting crowd but the organization seems to be able to handle it and there were no significant delays in getting my number or goodie bag.

Early Sunday I drove to Roosevelt Park and parked under I95 not far from the finish but a good hike to Broad and Pattison for the subway ride to Broad and Olney. When I got into the station I decided I would improve my chances for a seat by moving up a few cars, I walked into the door and there was Diane and Neil. Turned out we were on an express so the trip uptown was quick and easy.

Then the usual pre-run Broad Street routine – circle the Central High Track and few times, sit in the bleachers, catch up with as many friends as possible (but in the crush missed many more). The entry in and out of the field is a choke point and may be past the point of being able to handle the crunch of runners. Race down to the baggage bus, then back to the 8 minute start area (actually stood between the 7 and 8 points because I knew people overseed themselves).

It was a perfect weather day: cool temps, low humidity, bright sunshine. Race began on schedule and the crush at the mats was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. The first mile was a little slow because of the overseeding and the large number of runners but it was a good pace for me. Also the water stops seemed to be working fairly well. I skipped the first one having taken Endurance just before the start. I would take water three times and then nothing after mile seven. It seemed about right given the weather.

I was continually passing people (and would continue to do so until the end) so I was somewhat surprised that my time was only 82 minutes (almost exactly the same as last year). I had thought my average mile was under 8:30 but I think I must have slowed down somewhat in the middle miles when I missed a couple of mile markers and didn’t have my splits. I was quite pleased with my last mile which was one of my fastest and where I past a couple of my Bryn Mawr running mates. Laura said she heard someone call hear name but knew it was me when she heard “Just one more repeat” as we entered the Navy Yard. She was one of a few who asked somewhat puzzled “didn’t you just run a Marathon?”

Again the finish area was handled well given the number of runners crunching in. The kid on the baggage bus had my bag ready even before I asked for it.

I walked over to the park savoring the crowd and the runners still streaming into the Navy Yard. Bryn Mawr and Northeast tailgates were set up next to each other so I got to see everyone and then I spied a runner wearing a Dead Runners Shirt. I knew right away it had to be Ron Steve. I was able to introduce him to Diane and eventually give him a ride back to his hotel.

There doesn’t seem to be any ill effects. I took off Monday and Tuesday but had no DOMS and ran an easy five this morning. Looking back I’m glad I decided to go for it.

Here’s an interesting article about Broad Street that appeared in today’s Inquirer:

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Almost Finished

  Posted by Picasa
Run Past The Ships

  Posted by Picasa
Entrance To The Navy Yard

  Posted by Picasa
Finish Line

  Posted by Picasa
Broad Street Start looking north toward Olney

  Posted by Picasa
Broad Street Starting Line

  Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006

Depart, oh night!
Set, you stars!
Set, you stars!
At dawn I shall win!
I shall win! I shall win!

Country Music Marathon - Nashville Tennessee

Let me get this out right away as a kind of catharsis - I am kind of sad because on Sunday I lost my digital camera. Worst part is that I think I lost it right in the hotel lobby - it saddens me to think someone in the hotel would walk away with the camera and not turn it in to the desk. I don't mind the lost of the camera so much as the photos it contained. Fortunately it was only the last day since I have been downloading them each day.

Well anyway - the flight to Nashville thru Raleigh was uneventful. Lots of clouds so there wasn't a lot to see but both legs of the flight were short.

Downtown Nashville turned out to be somewhat of a surprise. There isn't much there, there. Along Broadway there are the tourist honky tonks, but the area doesn't have much life. To my surprise there are no stores of any kind. No food stores, no small corner stores, no boutique stores. These may be coming. On Sunday there was a program where people got to pay a small fee and then tour a large number of current and projected condominiums. I think once these are occupied there will be more human activity, but for now it is extremely bereft of residential life.

We did the touristy things of visiting the Ryman, the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. My favorite visit was to the Parthenon - an exact replica of the Greek Parthenon, complete with a glided statue of Athena. A staff member who told us about the Parthenon was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and understood when I compared the Parthenon to the Philadelphia Art Museum. One of those small ironies of this small world.

My first view of the Parthenon was about 6 AM on Saturday (29 April). It had threatened rain, and there were showers not far to the west, but after a brief sprinkle the day was dry and remained so. In fact mid race the sun briefly shown and it got quite warm. The Parthenon is in Centennial Park the site of world fair type event in 1897 Nashville. Like Memorial Hall in Philadelphia it is the sole survivor of that event. I stopped by the information booth to say hello to Karen Bingham, then enjoyed the grounds.

The Country Music Marathon combines with a Half Marathon and the vast majority of runners are halfties. The course begins just outside the park and you first head back downtown. I loosely hooked up with the four hour pace group - that is I identified the leader and resolved to keep them in sight. Rather then the crush and shuffle you usually experience in a large race we were easily running at pace immediately.

A few miles into the race you turn onto music row - an area of Nashville I believe called Belmont, a pleasant neighborhood. The race is a small collection of out and backs. This first is probably the nicest with lots of spectators and things to see. We saw the leaders coming back on their loop. One runner way out in front and I wondered at this until I realized he was a half marathoner and hence pushing the pace harder than the marathoners. I was rather amazed, when we ran back toward town at the large number of runners still coming. I have a picture in my mind of a huge wave of runners in front of me and an equally huge wave coming at me. I don't remember ever seeing this before.

(22,000 started - about 5000 marathoners - my time was a relatively slow 4:08 but I was 1006 runner finishing.)

I had run most of this leg with the four hour group, although I briefly lost contact at a water stop. At one point the leader needed a potty break and handed the four hour flag to a woman. This must have energerized her because the next mile was about 25 seconds faster then we had been running. Actually, I felt comfortable with the pace and continued on, just a little slower. It is somewhere in this area that I saw the blue man - I said out loud that can't be healthy and a woman running near said I was thinking the same thing - but it was startling (saw him later at the finish line).

Next loop out is down a large divided highway (8th ave). We leave the halfs about mile eleven separated by Elvis. Then proceed on 8th to the Metrocenter business park that loops along the Cumberland River where you can see the layers of sandstone laid down when this area was under a shallow sea. My favorite band was just after we left this portion of the loop. The bands were great even though you only get to hear for a few moments. The early part of the race when you are running with the halfs have the most then they thin out. -

At mile 9 they gave out jelly bellies. Don't think these will make it as a race food. For the next block there were jelly bellies everywhere - I assume they were just too hard to handle.

I am still comfortably with the four hour group - there are now just four of us. The run back toward downtown is a long uphill and here I lose contact with the leader. I catch up on the downhill and almost catch up when we run thru a park just before coming into downtown. However, with about 6 miles left I am slowing down. Don't feel bad - just no turnover. Because of the heat I have been carefully monitoring for cramps but they seem clear.

I am somewhat surprised by how many people are already walking. It seems somewhat unusual, although warm it is not excessively so.

I prefer to slog on slowly. The final loop is out to Shelby Park - it appears to be a somewhat down on it heels park but you do loop a small lake and when you come out you know you have mostly downhill for the final three miles. Again I marvel at the thousands still coming many of them walking and as slow as I am going I am passing many other runners.

The final mile is past a really ugly junkyard before turning into Stadium area. The final short leg is on Victory Avenue quite fitting given my mantra - Vincero!

Final chip time is 4:08:28. Off goal but acceptable. Finish area is well arranged especially considering that the marathoners and halfs merge here (and there were still many halfs coming in.) I lingered only briefly, stopping to chat with Karen Bingham of the Penguin list before making the trek back to the hotel of the pedestrian bridge that links downtown with the stadium. (This seemed a unique feature for Nashville-the idea I believe to allow and encourage people to use the downtown restaurants and bars before and after stadium events.)

Saturday night there was the post race concert that featured Phil Vasser. Didn't know what to expect but it turned out he gave a great show then came back for an encore and played for another hour.

We originally planned on staying thru Tuesday but we pretty much expended the things to do downtown and didn't really want to do any bus tours and shuttles. So we changed our flight and I finished this account sitting on the tarmac in Nashville delayed by thunderstorms in Chicago.

(Post script - we are sitting delayed in Chicago!!!!)

Well this has not been a terrible vacation but it has not been one of my favorites.

Whether I will travel to another marathon remains to be seen. I rather doubt if my wife will be eager to go again.