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