Monday, June 04, 2007


I never did a Broad Street Run report. I haven't reported on that race because it was the beginning of an odyssey I would rather have not taken.

Not long after I ran the Washington Marathon Half I experienced pain in the groin area. At first I presumed I had just over did it with two half marathons two weeks apart. I cut back - way back - on running and even skipped a couple of races that I love. (I did work both races and found being on the other side interesting and fun even if less satisfying than running.)

However, I was determined not to miss Broad Street. So on that first Sunday in May I lined up as I have done for ten years. The first five miles were great and despite my lay off I was able to do consistent 8 minute miles. Then the wheels fell off. I got slower and slower even though aerobically I felt pretty good.

I had already alerted my primary physician that if the pain persisted after Broad Street I would ask for an orthopedic referral. I recently went on cholesterol medication and was not doing well on that and needed to see him anyway.

So two weeks ago I saw an orthopedic surgeon. Even then I really believed I had nothing more that a muscle pull and in the end would just feel silly wasting the Doc's time. I liked Dr. Smith very much (and he saw me on schedule and he took his time). He poked and prodded. And then ordered x-rays. Because my medical plan didn't allow his office to do the x-rays (I know it probably has something to do with preventing fraud or abuse but what waste of my time) I had to go to a second site and then schedule an appointment two weeks out. Meanwhile, he put me on Naproxin and the pain subsided but didn't go away. I biked, swam, walked, kayaked (for the first time) but I didn't run.

On Friday afternoon I had my appointment. I brought x-rays with me but obviously Dr. Smith already had the radiologists report. He slapped the x-rays up and without much fanfare blandly stated you have severe arthritis in your right hip and the beginnings in you left hip.

And that was it. Just like that my world was turned upside down. No treatment, no physical therapy, no hope. Eventually, a hip replacement. Will running make it worse? Yes. Will not running make it better? No. It's progressive and it is going to get worse no matter what I do. So run but don't over do it and don't do marathons.

He did recommend I try a cortisone injection which has to be done by a different Doc in a different office because it must be done by Ultrasound. Since I have an irrational phobia about needles I am not looking forward to the procedure. (Despite every effort on my part I frequently pass out when blood it taken. Very annoying but completely beyond control by the higher functioning part of the brain).

I am currently whipsawing thru all the stages of grief except acceptance. I am very much trying to put it into perspective: it's not like being diagnosis with cancer. It is an inconvenience not a tragedy, etc, etc. And yet I am very angry, and guilty (did I bring it on by doing too much), and most of all very, very sad.

If only...if only I could have had another year. Just this year, my sixtieth, I would have been satisfied. Instead I feel cheated.

My wife says I can buy a kayak after all it's not anymore expensive that ten pair of shoes. And I do love to bike . but still to never run the trails, or up the beach, or go to a new city and run its streets.

I am not and have never been a competitive athlete but I think I know how a professional feels when he has a career ending injury or just gets too old for the game. It is not the fame or fortune but giving up the game itself.

Sigh. (Can you tell I am feeling sorry for myself?)

Chad Brooks

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Since that original email there have been some interesting developments.

A fellow member of the Dead Runners Society also ran the Half Marathon. She had a blog entry relating her experience with the race and here's an excerpt in which she captures her views of the positives and negatives (most of which I agree with) - my commentary is in italics:


Challenging course without being a killer. Huge downhill by the Capitol at mile 2; rolling hills from miles 8 through 12 -- but all runnable, nothing too brutal.

I worried about paying back that downhill but there was no comparable uphill - whew!!

Excellent course layout through interesting neighborhoods and through the Mall

I thought it was a little boring after we left the Mall area

Several occasions to see front-runners on other side of road

I always like the chance to see the front runners but this did come early in the race.

Fantastic road closures, well-monitored
Plenty of room to run after the first mile
Frequent, well-stocked aid stations, including gel at Mile 9 of the half

Lots of parking close to the start

Best parking ever for a larger size race. I was literally steps from the finish.

Ample bathrooms (and shelter from rain!) at start

You can never have too many porta potties - for once there were plenty

Nice medals and finish area

I would add that the baggage check was handled pretty well. Checked in and out without any hassles.

One of few races requiring qualifying times - knowledgeable runners

Good support by DC Mayor Fenty, who ran the marathon
Fun atmosphere
Free beer! (But at 9 AM - not exactly breakfast food.)

Ugly white see-through t-shirt, although technical fabric

Another ugly tshirt - why can't they have better designs!

Few exhibitors at expo (and having to go there on a Friday)

We were really surprised by how small the expo was. With 4000 participants you would think some more vendors would be interested. Maybe the fees were too high. The expo was a big disappointment.

Somewhat disorganized corral-free, seeding-free start

I really hated the start. We were crowded in at an angle with no idea what pace those around you intended. The first mile as a result was really slow. The promised pI ace groups were completely disorganized and definitely didn't run at pace. Probably my biggest criticism of the race.

Some aid stations were light on volunteers
Some broken city pavement after the winter
Unpredictable weather (rainy at the start this year, then drizzle for most of the race)

Can't blame to race organizers for the weather but it was a shame to have the start marred by heavy rain. Also due to Daylight Time it was very dark.

Minimal food selection at finish area (bagels and bananas) although ample

I don't really care as long as they have plenty of water and bananas and they did.

Leading marathoners had to run through half-marathoners at finish - could have been prevented with better coning to split road in last mile

Half marathon course probably long

Turns out it was long - the race director sent me a nice apology but admitted it was long (didn't say how much). From Nancy's account and comments on Marathon Guide it looks like at least .4 mile.

Proprietary chips with ankle straps (although I'm used to those)

Few spectators, relatively little support from local residents

Wow was this a spectator free race. Even less then Philadelphia which can be sparse.
It is amazing how empty a big city can be (it's early on a rainy Saturday but still . . .)

Incorrect timing data on website after race, no email contact provided for corrections


So that was how two runners saw the race. Pretty much in agreement. It is a good effort for their second time out. Lots of area for improvement - but not a bad experience. I wonder if it will survive. The Washington Post on Sunday had some blistering comments from locals who were very unhappy with the road closures. When I was running I had a feeling there were some colossal traffic tie ups but I feel there was plenty of advanced warning in the media and we saw electronic signs coming in to Washington that warned of road closures for the marathon. The first time they tried a spring marathon in Washington there was a lot of criticism because it was on a Sunday and on Palm Sunday. The Saturday start at least prevents that and it is early enough that most roads should be open by 11 AM.

I liked the race enough that I hope it survives and prospers. Once was enough for me.

This is a quick email I composed to send to the DRS (Dead Runners Society) list

I was a little disappointed with my time -

3 3213 Charles Brooks 60 Havertown PA 1:54:33

but the 3 means I was third out of twenty in my age group. Thought I had a faster half marathon in me but it wasn't to be today. Very slow start. The field lined up without direction and without pace seeding. The first two miles very very slow, but generally I was a off on almost every mile. Partly this was due to my taking more time at the water stops because of the humidity. Lost my gel at mile two. Don't know if it makes a difference but I wish I had had it.

Very low key affair. Tiny, tiny expo. I never thought there could be less spectators then at Philly but this has to be the least specators I have ever see - especially since there were a few thousands runners.

Once you are out of the museum area there isn't much to see but running in Washington is always kind of cool. There is a short out and back portion so you get to see the leaders.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon

Wednesday we had what will probably be the last snow of the season. It turned out to be not much of anything. It continued cold with Friday threatening record cold but while plenty cold (19F) for my morning run it was nowhere close to the record. I chose to use the multiuse trail at Ridley because its five miles simulates Caesar Rodney. If you go left you climb steadily for two miles similar to middle miles of CR. The return leg is downhill but with short climbs interspersed with a pretty good elevation at mile 4.

Saturday warmed considerably but no running just a long walk with Max.

Spring ahead to Sunday (terrible pun I know) and the morning temps are already quite mild. It rained over night and it will be cooler than Saturday with more wind but it is still very pleasant.

I drive down to Wilmington with a friend and it is obvious that it is going to be a beautiful day.

CR is a largish race (1186 finishers) but with the feel of a smaller race. I saw lots of people I knew. First three miles are fast – I know I shouldn’t be running like that with all the hills ahead. Still it feels good. The real work begins when you enter the park. The next three miles are a steady climb through two city parks tied together by the Delaware Art Museum. When I reach Rockford Tower (the highest point in Wilmington) I know I’m home free. A couple of rolling low hills on the Rt 52 out and back then we get that long downhill back. Neil Weygandt passes me then I pass him. Wow – that’s a surprise I must be going pretty good. Neil will pass me once more and while I stay with him I can never quite catch up with this surge. Mile twelve is suddenly there – still in the park with another half mile downhill. You exit the park and make a loop to Market with a long, steep climb to the finish. Attack the hill pretty well. I am even alert enough to catch the 13 mile split. Then that short sprint to the finish watching the clock and determined to get in under 1:50. I do.

555 96 Charles Brooks M 60 Havertown PA 1:49:32 8:22 1:49:55 8:24
8/34 M60-64 456/822 M

The chip time and watch time are just one second off.

I feel great. No nausea (does that mean I didn’t push hard enough?). A young girl offers to get my chip. I get some water and a finishers medal (teeny tiny but hey I’ll take it) and wait for Mukund (who ran a crazy race slow, fast, slow). Halfs are really great – you ran hard and long but aren't so beat up that you won’t be able to run right away.

We socialize a bit and then head back for a great feature of this race – a nice hot shower at the Wilmington YMCA. I love going home all cleaned up and fresh.

I never expected to run this race with all its hills this fast. I am looking forward to the Washington National Marathon (where I will do the half) which should be a much flatter course. Can I push it to 1:48? I hope the weather and weekend is just as beautiful as today.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What I saw on my run

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cold Weather Running

The talking heads like to call this area the I95 Corridor. In fact that highway does mirror a real topographical and hence weather pattern. We are often on the in between and it is notoriously difficult to get the weather forecast since a small fluctuation is the difference between rain and snow; a storm and a near miss.

The Valentine’s Day storm that trapped so many on I78 was one of those. Here in Delaware County we saw rain, snow, sleet. Mostly we escaped the worst but it left an icy remnant I was still getting rid today.

Since my oak has fallen I have often chosen to begin my trail run in the Park instead of the Arboretum. This means I can avoid crossing Rt 352 and a long swampy area before the woods…I start on the multiuse trail and have several choices of where to enter the woods. Friday I chose to enter almost immediately on the yellow trail. It is a slight uphill. The snow cover in crusted over but each step I break thru. There is a single set of human tracks where someone walked yesterday and of course lots of animal prints. Later I would see the bloody remaina of a hunter – hunted encounter.

The going is difficult but doable. At the top of the hill I enter the arboretum property. Here I am breaking trail for a while and then a stream crossing. It looks tricky but I see one safe stepping and make it across dry shod. On the other side I join up with one of the main trails and this has more human traffic and surprisingly snowmobile tracks but the advantage is that by following the tracks I have better purchase. When the tracks lead off in another direction I am breaking trail again but after a few hundreds another set of tracks. Skis – tough trail for and later I can see the marks are the skier made their way uphill. Then more fresh trail but mostly downhill so the going is easier. I need to make my way across the stream – this time I am not so luck or skillful and my left foot goes in. I am about a mile from my car and figure I will be fine if I keep moving. A short climb and I know at the top of the next hill I take a short cut to the multi use trail and figure I better use it and get to asphalt. A short run downhill and I’m done – man that foot is cold. Now I know why in the wilderness it is so dangerous to get wet.

Saturday I got my long run early and found the going pretty easy. Saturday afternoon I volunteered to help out with the Fila The Love 5K . It was held in the Coopertown section of Haverford Township. This is a brand new run invented by Bob Schwelm owner of the Bryn Mawr Running Company. This has to be one of the most challenging ideas for a brand new run I ever heard of. The idea was to run teams in five categories (blood related, lovers, mixed couple, same sex couple, and individual). Each team would start together but after 100 yards separate each running the course in a separate direction. Seeing each other in passing on the course.

I worked registration which was complicated because you had to capture all the usual information plus the team info. Some the of couples were comical – they hadn’t chosen whether they were lovers or just mixed couple. One couple went back and forth before finally settling on lover. I felt like a match maker.

Despite the complications of running two courses and the icy streets the race went very well. The timers did a great jump of getting the results quickly. I think a great tradition was started.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cold Weather Running

I wimped out on my Friday trail run. The weather forecast was for a cold rain. I just didn’t fancy a seven or eight mile slug in the wet. So I slept in and of course no rain = the storm had move far enough off coast we weren’t affected. Grrrrrrr.

So Saturday I was determined to get a good run in Saturday. It was cold but not Frank’s cold (although Monday and Tuesday are forecast to be the coldest days in 11 years which means it will be the coldest weather I have run in). I layered up and felt quite comfortable. I modified my course and it worked well – my finish was just short of 10 according to my garmin. The day was quite beautiful with bright blue skies and that crystal winter clarity. We have not had a real snowfall yet but we have had a series of snow showers that leave a coating that disappears during the day. It makes for pretty morning runs.

On my Ipod I had loaded Vince Gill’s new four album set These Days (What a great set as Gill ranges over a variety of styles – he really is a perfect choice of president of the Board of Trustees of the Country Music Hall of Fame as he obviously loves both the old and new) On a whim I had also placed the last moment of Beethoven's Ninth. I had already used the shuffle a couple of times without hearing the Ninth but as I began my last mile there was Beethoven. What a great way to finish.

Today was a couple of degrees colder and a little cloudier but still quite beautiful. I usually go uptown one day and downtown the next but today I thought the prettier run would to be go north again. The course included the nature trail at Haverford College. Parts of the trail were a snow cover that had melted and refroze making for some tricky footing. In fact throughout the course I had to be careful of black ice since the bright afternoon sun would thaw the ground despite the cold and later in the shade and night the wet refroze.

For me these cold runs are much more fun than slogging out those 80F / 80% humidity days in August. Let’s see if that feeling survives Tuesday night.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This posting reminded me of my own thoughts about the old oak

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cold Weather Running

Last Friday there was a light coating of snow when I ran the trails. You have probably seen the snowfall that covers lawns but not the streets. Here it was the opposite – there trails were covered but the wooded areas less so. The trails wound like white ribbons thru the woods. It had a fairy tale quality.

Today, there was much more snow (but still just a coating). It was very cold (7F) when I started (but no wind). I was concerned – this was the coldest weather in two years – that I might be uncomfortable but I must have dressed well for I felt great almost immediately.

The roads going to the park were crowded – maybe people getting an early start anticipating icy conditions, but the park itself was empty. Not a single car was in the small parking area I use. There was one set of footprints on the multiuse path and as soon as I entered the woods I was breaking trail (well except for the various animals who obviously view the trails as a very convenient way to travel). Last week I saw no animals but this morning I did encounter deer, but I know from the tracks that many others are active despite the cold.

It was an especially beautiful morning – one of those mornings where the rising sun constantly changes the colors and patterns of the woods. At one point high on a ridge I stopped to look across the valley to the opposite ridge where the sun was just peeking thru the tree line. The whiteness of the snow, the blue sky, the dark trees, the red light of the dawn sun all seemed so primary and clear. On the one hand it was cool to know I was here first, alone in this quiet spot (if someone plunked you down you would hardly guess busy roads were less than a mile away); on the other hand I was sad that there was no one else experiencing this great beauty.

Tears that a gust of wind had squeezed out of my eyes had frozen on my eyelashes, but I still felt comfortable. I was very tempted to try another loop but knew it was getting late (a wrong turn had already prolonged the run), and I reluctantly headed back to the paved road. A couple more sets of human prints on the road, but when I got back to the parking area my car still stood alone.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Eight Seconds

I am a mid pack runner, competing in the 60 over group for third, so why should it matter. But it did.

Before running the Icicle Ten Miler I had checked my time from last year and what it took to place in my new age group. It looked like my time from last year was close to being in the money so I was optimistic.

The Icicle is held in Wilmington, Delaware and is a very nice but hilly course

The Caesar Rodney Half Marathon follows a very similar route.

Being mid January I have run this race in adverse conditions – last year’s race was very cold and windy, and it has been run in snow, ice, and one year a cold, cold sleety rain. But Sunday was mild – very humid and in the 50’s. These are not conditions I prefer, especially the humidity.

It was different to be lining up at the start in shorts and short sleeves.

I knew the start would be fast – the first two miles are more down than up. I expected to average about 8:30 miles but planned on the first mile at 8:00 and was actually a little faster.

The real climb begins just after mile two and continues thru five. I was pretty pleased with my progress thru the hills and felt on schedule. I struggled a bit more than I expected on five and six, most of which is a rolling out and back on Route 52. But once back in the park I ran the downhills well. There is a steep climb to finish the race and knowing it was there helped and I ran up as hard as I could. The final stretch is flat and I picked up as much speed as I could.

This was one of those races where despite a lot of runners I was running alone most of the time, i.e. the knot of runners directly in front of me were about 30 yards away. I don’t think anyone passed me in the last two miles and finally I did pass a couple of runners but mostly there was a big gap between me and the runner in front of me. It would have been nice to have someone to pace off of.

As I closed in on the finish I saw that I was going to be under 1:24 if I pushed and I did. I was almost a minute faster than last year.

I was pretty confident that would put me in the money but alas this was a race with some very fast runners. When they called out the age group winners I wasn’t in it but I knew from the time I had been close. I don’t remember third place passing me so I am presuming that he was in that knot of runners just ahead of me and that my push up the hill and the last quarter had closed the gap between us.

I was left wondering that if I knew there was a competitor that close if I could have squeeze out those eight seconds somewhere along the course. Of course if challenged my competition may have amp’d up his game so who knows.

BTW this guy was a very young looking 61 and I wonder if he had passed me if I would have recognized him as a competitor.

A good race, no real regrets I ran hard, stayed on schedule….. but still some disappointment. It seems once again I matched the Eagles with an almost. (See my post on the PDR.) Still I am optimistic – my time was better than last year. Improvement is still possible. Now to find the next race.