Saturday, December 27, 2008


“You are hardcore and do not even realize yet. Running in thunderstorms and icy rain = hardcore. I guess to me it describes when someone pushes themselves or challenges themselves. It is a quality that I admire in people … a lot.”

I'm not hardcore about anything, to my knowledge. I’m not that driven; not that passionate about anything [except my family, of course] ... But that's not really something you see in yourself, is it? I mean, some may see my running routine as "hardcore" but to me, it's just what I do.

Some may see the 7 bikes in my garage or find me out riding the woods at night as "hardcore," but again ...

I don’t look at the bad weather that I train in as a challenge. It’s nature. It’s always going to be there. Sometimes it’s an inconvenience; it happens – this is South Jersey.

I've said it before; I'll say it again. "When acid rain freezes, you get acid snow"

Or, in SJ, you get acid slush with rocks and sand and gravel and shoes and needles and underwear and all sorts of other shit in it. When it dries out, the slush is gone, but all that other crap is still out there, usually migrating onto the part of the road I'm using.

I've surfed in hurricanes, ridden horses in canyons during hailstorms ... precipitation? It's just water.

I don’t see at it as a challenge or something I need to push myself through. If I had cancer or MS or diabetes or addiction … That is a real a challenge! The people I know who work and train through those diseases are truly hardcore; because failure, at that level, can be devastating; physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I think I'm "mildcore" ... I run and ride and skate to maintain balance and a nice even keel.

I come from a surfing background, so I have a little different perspective.

You can't always count on the waves being there when you want them to be. You can't plan to catch 5 good ones and 3 bad ones in any set time. You can't trust the weather at all!!!

But you can plan to be on the beach at 5AM, watch the sunrise over the ocean and make the best of it. Or, you can jog down the street with no one nearby except the contractors going to the work-site; meeting other strangers like you along the way.

When your day begins like that, what can go wrong?

Dishwasher goes out? Car needs brakes? Kid gets lunch detention for throwing a pencil?

Deal with it as you must ... but remember your morning. It can even you out; help maintain your balance.

Maybe "Zen-Core" would be a better word?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lucky Streak

I haven’t posted anything about beer lately; mostly because I haven’t been drinking much, and what I have hasn’t been anything special … Well, there was that one bottle of Oaked Arrogant Bastard … Anyway …

Aside from baseball pitchers and hockey goalies, runners are some of the most superstitious athletes going. Have a good race, or even a good weekday run, and every item worn and every procedure followed becomes ritual – until the time it goes wrong, then, never again!

I’m guilty of this, I know. I have my little seashell that accompanies me every mile. I have my sharky sox for special events. I always go to 4:30 Mass on race night. I have the same pre-race dinner [“Chicken What-the-Hell” a breadless chicken parm] I have my apple, banana and Wawa coffee.

If something works we go with it until it doesn’t work anymore.

Dan the Man was invited to an open house at the new
Philadelphia Brewing Company, in September. Among the swag he brought home was a pint glass with a Kenzinger logo on it. Actually, he got two. I found the extra one on my desk the next day, along with a Philadelphia Brewing Co. sticker [for my skateboard, no doubt] and a matchbook [no idea, on that one … I don’t smoke cigars anymore].

A couple days later, I christened it [with Victory HopDevil] while watching the first game of the World Series. I figured the Philadelphia + Victory tag team would help to break the Philly title jinx, or at least put a hurt on it.

Phillies 4, Rays 3

Game Two. Regular Flying Fish pint glass + Hop Devil

Rays 4, Phillies 2

Games 3, 4 and 5?

Kenzinger pint + Victory.

What did Chase Utley say? “World Fucking Champions!!!”

The Kenzinger pint was undefeated. Four-and-Oh. Would its power continue beyond baseball?

Election night: Kenzinger + DFH = President Elect Barak Obama. [5-0, although that one was a slam dunk, I’m sure]

A key test came up that Sunday night: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Football Giants. This would be tough. The Giants were Super Bowl Champions; the Eagles were awful. They almost won, but even the Kenzinger juju couldn’t save them.


Since then, “The Cup” has pulled Andy Reid’s head out his ass and propelled the Eagles to a Thanksgiving Day victory over the Cardinals, a grudge-match smackdown of the Giants, and a shellacking or the Browns to post and 8-1 record.

How long will the magic last? Well, there are only two more weeks left in football season. If the Eagles and “The Cup” win out, that puts them in the playoffs.

We’ll see. You can go to the well once too often and the cup doesn’t always run over.

Beauty Shot Beauty Shot

From the website:

This is a real drinkin' beer! - a golden session ale that boasts both a European birthright and a thirst-quenching Philadelphia sensibility. Kenzinger is refreshingly crisp and smooth, with a spirited flavor that grabs the attention of taste buds everywhere. Get some!

Available today - bottle and draught ~4.5% abv

It’s light, in color and strength. Almost summery. In fact it would make an excellent Lawnmower beer with its touch of cloudiness and little yeasty bits floating around the bottom. It has a slight sour apple favor to it, with a touch of honey.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Breaking the Holiday Blues

I hadn't planned on running this morning. On my way home from work, after picking Mariel up from school, I noticed that 3 critical intersections on my running route[s] were beyond flooded.

I had only run three days in the past week, and I'm not in a "training cycle" anyway, so taking another day off wouldn't kill me.

As I said a couple of days ago, I am really in the Christmas Spirit early this year. I got the tree up and lit already and the outside decorations are coming together. But, with the gloomy weather lingering around, I could feel Depression start to wrap her cold grey arms around my shoulders. She leaned in and began with her lies, in icy whispers.

"This is so unlike you, Rand. You know it's just a waste of time. In a month all your good deeds will be forgotten. Just give up now. Save yourself the trouble."

I had to shake her off.

So what if the usual roads were wet ... there's nothing in the rules that says I couldn't just find some high ground and run there for a while right?

I ran up the mile long hill to the high school. Mindlessly and playfully, I just ran around the parking area for 20 minutes, wandering and meandering from lot to lot [I even did some sprints, trying to hit the parking stripes on my strides]. I was not quite soaked through when I descended the hill and headed home.

As I heated my soup for breakfast, a Guns n Roses tune came into my head, clearly dedicated to that dark spirit
from whose grasp I had slipped away in the drizzle.

"Back Off Bitch"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vermont Tour - Fall 2008

Highlights were [in no particular and non-chronological order]:

The Moose Chili at the Tinmouth Community Game Supper

Robert Frost's house in Bennington

Getting lost on an unmarked mountain road in a snow squall [13°]

Serious snacking at The Vermont Country Store

Grandma Moses's paintings

Having a whole ice rink to ourselves

Frog City cheese, up the street from Calvin Coolidge's home [closed for the season]

A Grouper Reuben at Carmody's Irish Pub in Bennington [imagine a
seriously kicked up Tuna Melt!!!]

The Vermont Marble Museum [closed for the season] in the town of Proctor; where even the
firehouse is marble

However, I'm afraid I let you all down. Not only did I not participate in the Kickrunners' Philly hijnx [much congratulations and great pride to all my friends], I did not run in VT at ALL!!!

1) The woods near my aunt's house were crawling with hunters, and I had no orange gear to keep from getting shot at

2) Saturday, Sunday and Monday started early and ended late.

3) Tuesday, the ONE day I could have gotten a run in by driving to town and running along the river, before we packed up to come home, was 36° and raining compared to the 20° and sunny it had been the other days.

We are definitely planning to return next summer; there will be running, horseback riding and skateboarding, I promise.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vicki = Low Flying Vehicle

"Google says 309 miles = 5 hrs 45 minutes. I think I can do better."

It's amazing that I pay more attention to mileage and "pace" when I drive than when I run.

We left around 9:30AM and, with a 45-minute stop for lunch and gasoline [$20 @ $2.37/gal], we arrived about 3:30PM. Just slightly below a 60 mph average. And yes, while on The Turnpike and The Parkway, bike messenger driving skills were employed; so much so, that while in a jam-up near The Oranges, I actually told D'Wife "Don't look out the window; don't watch me drive right now. Read a magazine or something."

I repeated that when we got close to the farm, off the numbered roads and everything was "twisty-turny, uppy-downy, seriously rollercoastery. Scary swerves and blind curves."

Um, running here, as I mapped it, even on the shoulder, I could be roadkill real easily. The hills would be fun, certainly, but maybe the woods would be better.

The road not taken?

The Long Trail North

NJ 73 > NJ Turnpike > Garden State Parkway > NY Thruway > I-787 > NY 7 > US 7 > VT 11

Google says 309 miles = 5 hrs 45 minutes. I think I can do better. This should cover it:

Saturday, August 15, 1998
The Lemonwheel, Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME

Set I: Mike's Song -> Simple, Beauty of My Dreams, Roggae, Split Open and Melt, Poor Heart, The Moma Dance, Divided Sky, Water in the Sky, Funky Bitch > Cities -> Weekapaug Groove
Set II: The Wedge, Reba, Gumbo -> Sanity > Tweezer > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Chalk Dust Torture, Slave to the Traffic Light
Set III: NICU > David Bowie, Strange Design, Limb by Limb > Brian and Robert, Loving Cup
Encore: Halley's Comet > Cavern, Tweezer Reprise
Set IV: Ambient Jam

Show Notes: SOAM was played by request for an eight year old boy named Sam. Cities included Sneakin' Sally teases and, along with Halley's Comet, included alternate lyrics relating to the concert grounds. Bowie included a lengthy intro and Mission: Impossible teases. This jammed-out Gumbo is a fan favorite. After Tweezer Reprise, Trey made a long announcement thanking people for coming and remarked on the fun and joy of the summer concert festivals. He said that there would be some more music, played by the light of candles made that day by fans. The ensuing "ambient jam" was in the style of Brian Eno and was nearly an hour long. Sanity was played for the first time since Halloween 1996 (140 shows).

Sunday, August 16, 1998
The Lemonwheel, Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME

Set I: Ginseng Sullivan, Bathtub Gin -> Rift, Punch You in the Eye, Lawn Boy, Ya Mar > AC/DC Bag > Frankie Says, Birds of a Feather, Guyute, Possum
Set II: Down with Disease > Piper, Ghost > Fluffhead, When the Circus Comes, Wading in the Velvet Sea, HYHU > Sexual Healing > HYHU, Run Like an Antelope
Set III: Sabotage -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Wilson, The Mango Song > Character Zero, Bittersweet Motel, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Encore: Harry Hood -> Fireworks Jam -> Baby Elephant Walk

Show Notes: Fishman alluded to Terrapin ("a love song about a turtle") after a long HYHU intro but instead led the band into Sexual Healing. Antelope included Sexual Healing teases in the intro and a reference to Bob Weaver instead of Marco Esquandolas in the lyrics. WMGGW returned for its first appearance since February 26, 1997 (103 shows) and Baby Elephant Walk was played for the first time since December 1, 1992 (512 shows).

* Thanks to The Mockingbird Foundation for the

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bike Fashion Tip ...

If you're going to get wrapped around the axle about something ... try to do it as stylishly as these:

is that "knitting?" or "weaving?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Devil's Fabric

Okay, The Monster has been rebuilt and has run with great results … time to dress him up.

What do you wear running? Favorite outfit?

Usual: Old Navy, Target; nothing techy or trendy – it took my 12 years to buy a new watch; Favorite: board shorts and my “Cerveza” tank top

Um, yeah …

Cotton: Yes it’s soft, comfy and certainly easy to find pretty much anything to run in, from old concert shirts to something from a thrift store but cotton is pretty much despised in the “real runner” community. It tends to absorb and hold moisture creating an uncomfortable, chaffing layer next to the skin.

Board shorts? Durable, but … seriously.

I had to face facts … I would have to buy new gear; gear that fit properly and was made from the right materials for the job. No more multi-tasking, all-purpose yard-care to 10K wear. I needed a dedicated running wardrobe.

It took a few tries to find the right shorts. Putting my bikey quads into running shorts always, left me wishing my thighs were just a bit more compact. Fortunately, running shorts these days are not all of the short short variety and I found some with a deep enough inseam to assure some modesty.

I also had to ditch my over-sized shirts … I like a longish, hockey-jersey fit, but after dropping the weight over the summer, Large is just too blousy for me. Medium it is [I’ll still take a large for casual- and skate-wear though].

I had my sizes, I had my style … I had to make the hardest commitment of the makeover.

Technical fabric.


Yes, I know what it is. Breathable, drier, more comfortable, easy to care for … DriFit, UnderArmour, etc.

But it’s still …


Yes. That word.

I know many, many years have passed, but I still have those memories. The 70s were not kind.

[yes, there are photos of me in the sea-foam poly leisure suit ... I will find them, scan them, post them, and shred them]

Also, cotton is greener, so to speak; it is a renewable resource [some very stylish shirts are even being made of bamboo, now]. Not that I'm the most environmentally conscious person in the world - I'm all for climate change, if I can drink summer beer in November. I just don't want good pteroleum spent used for sportswear, when it could go into my car at less than $2 a gallon.

I put my ghosts, nightmares, flashbacks and prejudices aside and poly’d up. I justified my increased carbon footprint by lying to myself and saying, "They're recycled shopping bags, dude."

It was good. I ran in the cold, I ran in the rain, I ran in the warm and in between. It performed as advertised.

I have embraced The Devil’s Fabric as my own [although, it’s always been there in my clothes, usually the second ingredient behind “cotton” (I kind of denied it)]. In fact, I just received this gem.

[size: M, color: Blue]

1) Good for either running or riding
2) Skull
3) On sale

Next up: New Shoes???

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Called It

... Back in January


What I didn't realize/know at the time was that Shepard Fairey [the man behind "OBEY"] was actually a pretty big deal in the Obama camp and Rock the Vote.

Is Barack Obama the first President elected by low-brow artists, taggers, bike messengers and skateboarders*? That's a pretty cool thought.

"OK, Barry, the people of this country put you there; now do good things for us, m'kay?"

* Clinton doesn't count. They didn't vote for him ... they just didn't vote at all.

Democratic Process

Got home, got changed, rode my bike up [no guess who I voted for, eh?]

It was about 55°, cloudy, light rain ... I did what Supertramp recommended; I took the long way home, through the woods.

"You were gone an hour. Long line?" D'Wife asked.
"Bike," I replied, pointing to my mud splattered pants and shoes.
"Dork!!!" she huffed and motioned towards the kitchen as my cue to start dinner.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cooper-Norcross Ben Franklin Bridge Challenge 10K

“Aaron. Aaron, c’mere. I have a man on the phone; a REAL man. A man, who sets a goal, formulates a plan, performs to that plan and achieves his goal. Then this MAN, after his success … does it AGAIN. That’s a man, Aaron!”

Doe threw the smack down at The Soup when I called him on Friday to make our final arrangements for Sunday. He might have been trying to psych his co-worker out, but overhearing certainly psyched me up. This was going to be my first race in more than 20 years where the 6.1 mile mark was the finish line and not merely a split.

Surfers, even retired ones like Doe and I, are notorious weather geeks. We were both watching the skies and on Saturday afternoon for the next morning’s forecast. We knew it would be cold, but how cold? Forecasts bounced throughout the day between 40° and 45°, with varying winds. Clouds rolled in just before dinner on Saturday. Normally, I would have thought they’d keep it from getting too cold overnight, but the increased winds offset that.

Sunday was clear, cold and windy. I double double-checked that I had changed my clock properly and it was the time I thought it was.

I showered up and dressed. I threw my sweatshirt and camo shorts over the long-sleeved tech T and “real” running shorts I would be racing in. [Yes, I have been given a makeover … I’m looking more like a real runner every day]. I put on my sharky sox and had a breakfast of coffee and an apple. I put a banana in my backpack for the ride up to Camden and moved my lucky seashell from her special pocket in the pack.

My race bib rustled under my shirt, waking D’Girls as I kissed them goodbye for the morning. D’Kid had a Church Choir performance at the 11:30 Mass, otherwise they’d be coming with me to do the Kids’ Run across Campbell’s Field. We decided against it, since it took them so long to get ready for her Choir performance last month. To take her to the race, get her back and start getting her ready for 11:30 Mass so late [home around 10, crew call at 11:15], would just be a disaster.

I started the car and jacked up the heater. I plugged my Shuffle into the AUX jack and listened to my morning warm-up playlist:

Jump – Mary Lou Lord
Overkill [acoustic] – Colin Hay [Men at work] from “Scrubs”
Are You Experienced? – Los Lobos
Thunderstruck – AC/DC
Strangers Like Me – Everlife
Sk8r Boi – Avril Lavigne
Back to Me – Kathleen Edwards
Southern Girls – Cheap Trick
Boys of Summer – The Ataris
Medicine Show – Big Audio Dynamite
Banditos – The Refreshments [
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers]
One Week – BNL
Sweet Emotion – Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon
Sympathy for the Devil – David Byrne
Stranglehold – Ted Nugent

The ride up to Camden was with out incident. I wondered however, why they put the sign that said, “BF Bridge Closed 7:30 to 10AM” AFTER the exit to the bridge?

I got through most of Camden okay, but at 3rd & Market, the slow crawl to the parking began. I called Doe. He was 2 blocks behind me. Fifteen minute, or maybe twenty, later we were parked, side by side and made our way to the field, to drop our gear and get ready. The Bag Check wasn’t easily found, but it WAS found. Shivering along, we made our way to the Start at the tollbooths.

Our mantra was “These things never start on time; These things never start on time.”

Guess what? Sometimes they do.

Just as we got to the railing we heard a cheer. They were off!!! Thank goodness for whoever invented timing chips. We had to trudge down to passageway and under the bridge to start on the other side. Some old dude who had stumbled beside us on the walk from the ball field, stepped in a pothole and nearly took himself out before the race even started.

“Let’s get away from this dude, Dude!” we both said.

We made our way through the crowds of walkers, strollers and dogs and over the starting mat. Neither of us started his watch to figure out the difference between gun and chip-time.

Oh, well. We’d just guess; no big deal. It’s the surfy way.

Doe took an early lead, dodging traffic up the bridge. I was worried. He’d been running pretty quickly on the treadmill in training and I felt sure I’d get dropped. We passed a phalanx of Police Academy trainees, shouting their cadence rhymes. If I got in trouble, I could run with them.

We made the one mile mark at about 12:30 on the clock. Assuming a 9:00 mile, that put us 3½ minutes behind the gun time. Oddly, the one mile mark wasn’t at the apex of the bridge but closer to Philly. So it felt like the downhill to the turnaround was shorter than the uphill. It also made the return to Jersey seem a lot longer.

I directed the course photographer’s attention to
us, just before the 3 mile marker. I'm the one that said "Dude! Over here!" and nothing for me?!!!


High above Campbell’s Field we passed the clock for our 3-mile split, at almost exactly 30 minutes. Subtracting the 3:00 delay, I calculated our pace.

“Dude, we’re like right at nine!” This was slower than my training and far slower than his, but dealing with the elevation gains over the bridge we felt comfortable.

Someone, however, had another opinion.

“The mile marker is wrong!”
“The mile marker is in the wrong place,” some douchebag to our right countered, “I’m keeping a blah, blah, pace, blah, blah.”
“Oh, that’s just great, that you can do math in your head,” I dismissed him, then turned to Doe, “Of course, we are moving forward through the pack and he is definitely slipping backwards, that asshole. Just shut the fuck up, jackass.”

This brief rant sparked Doe as we left the bridge and headed to the Rutgers Campus.

“This way?” I asked to flag girl, to her surprise, since a thousand or so had already gone past her.

“Rand, you are totally, ‘That Guy!’” Doe cheered.

I didn’t mention that the morning, although a bit chilly and breezy, brought most of the runners out in shorts, which made leg tattoo viewing a nice distraction. I found myself behind an ankle with an anklet of what looked like Aerosmith wings … upon closer investigation [in other words, when I could focus on the swiftly moving art], the “A” was, in fact, the zodiac symbol for Leo.

I also saw a gecko, some snakes, a Japanese fish, Italian and Irish flags [and shamrocks], hearts, and a couple suns on the legs.

We followed the light rail tracks of the River Line down Cooper Street, past the Rutgers Station [which has stainless steel herons decorating the roof, for some reason] and the Walt Whitman Arts Center before taking the corner around the RCA Building [now known as
The Victor Lofts, but will always be RCA to long time Jersey residents] and the Adventure Aquarium parking lot.

Four miles done, only two to go. We were chugging along nicely. Finishing under an hour would be a snap; 54 minutes was looking like a real possibility.

As we ran through the parking garage [Hi, Tiffanie!!!] I turned back to see how my pal was doing. Doe had worn his tech T from Midnight Madness under a long sleeved cotton shirt. Running into the sun as we passed the Tweeter Center, I thought he may be warming up.

“You okay, back there?” I asked as I was now holding a 4-5 yard gap between us.
“I’m a little toasty,” he answered, but without concern, “You can go ahead if you want.”
‘Nope, I’m not leaving my wingman’ I thought, as I waved him off.

The street narrowed and became trickier as we came around behind the hill of the Susquehanna Bank Center [formerly known as Blockbuster-Sony Music Entertainment Centre (or E-Centre) then the Tweeter Center]. Wear and tear from tour busses and delivery trucks, I would assume. I slowed to watch my step as there have been way too many twisted ankles on Kick lately, and I didn’t want to add my name to the list of the wounded. Doe picked his way back through the little crowd to me as we approached the battleship USS New Jersey.

Damn! That thing is huge!!! A Boy Scout trip was already lining up at the ticket office, ready for a morning tour, breakfast, and possibly a ride in the flight simulator; not necessarily in that order.

We hit the brick pavers and ran right along the “seawall” [or “river wall” as the case me be] I knew there was no danger in going over the railing, just as there had been no danger going off the side of the bridge, but I stayed far to the inside, just the same.

We made a sharp right at the end of the cobbles and cruised around the Marina. Yes, there is a Marina and it was pretty full, but I can’t imagine keeping a boat there and NOT having it tagged by the next morning.

They didn’t advertise or mention music on the course, like the PDR did, but a Dixieland band had set up a portable stage behind the water stop on the gravel path near the five-mile mark. Had I paid better attention to Kick, I would have known that our friend Lora [Miss Olympia] was working the station there, and I could have stopped by for a hug, a chat and a chance for Doe to catch up before the last mile; not that we was slowing down any, mind you. We were both still moving forward in the pack, I was just going through them a bit quicker. We passed by just as the girl went into a clarinet solo. The water team shirts were great [black shirts with a stop sign in the center that said "H2O"]. I wondered if that a Rutgers alumni deal? [red & black = Scarlet Knights?]

Five miles in 47:47 by the clock – subtracting the 3:00 and we were under 9 minutes/mile. I felt a charge come on as we left the gravel path and returned to the cobbles, making a little detour in front the Wiggins Park stage

Passing the aquarium I remarked that a few years ago, we’d been here and they had powerboat races on the river. I also mentioned that it seems that every time I bring D’Fam there, it rains. I turned to see his reaction to this [Doe being retired motocross racer, and a gear-head] when I noticed he was further behind than he’d been before. Looking up at the massive banner for the new shark exhibit, a hammerhead shark, I heard him [or someone] call out, “Rip it, bruddah” and the surge I felt when going off-road took full control.

“Where’s your partner going?” Doe was asked by a gentleman in a bright yellow vest who was using us to pace him.

“Douchebag had another gear he didn’t tell me about,” he replied, but impressed and proud that the old man still had it, “But he’s younger than me, so …” he lied.

I felt bad that I’d left him, but made the best of it, cutting through the crowd. Zigging and zagging along the edge of the parking lots, we could now hear the cheers for the finishers coming form the ballpark.

“Almost done. Just a couple more minutes,” a woman said as I passed.
“That’s what SHE said,” some smartass replied.

Oh, that was me, channeling Kick, again. I don’t know if I’m allowed to use such “catchphrases” yet, since I’m still in my first year, but it worked; she gasped and giggled as I passed her by. I knew that sometime today, she would say, “So this guy comes past us just as I said …”

“Oh, yeah … That Guy!”

We followed a series of rights and lefts around the lots [why isn’t it straight? Those lots had been used many years ago as Campbell’s tomato depot, between two docks] Cones and rope lines had been set up across the parking lots to guide us in a path stretch the route to exactly 6.2 miles. Who ever it was that had the idea to lead us over a slight but definitely noticeable rise before turning toward the field was … well … didn’t take the best interests of the runners to heart.

The field doubled back on it self a moment before the sprint into the ballpark itself. I wanted to see how far ahead of Doe I’d gotten and looked over my shoulder for my grey shirted pal.

“Dave!!!” I shouted as he came into the clear, maybe 400 yards back. I think that may be only the third or fourth time in the 5 years I’ve known him that I’ve used his first name.

I turned into the stadium and looked for the clock. It was in the 56’s. I hit the jets one last time, and crossed the line in 57:41 [chip time of 53-something, I guessed]. I tugged my chip off, and turned to see Doe come in just 90 seconds later. Apparently, he was a really good directions reader and had laced his chip into his shoe. We wandered around a bit, congratulating ourselves and anyone we’d come across, “talking story” already. We got our medals and then, passing another medal girl, took another for our kids, at her suggestion.

“We have ours” I showed her mine, pec-ing out and standing a bit taller, perhaps.
“Want another?” she asked, extending an arm draped in nylon and aluminum, “please, they’re getting heavy.”
“For the kids, right? Look, they have plenty to give away, right?”
“That guy, dude. You’re that guy.”

She winked and nodded as I pulled on off for me and one for the other Dad, I’d run with.

We got waters and snacks, but far too soon, I had to get rolling. It was getting close to 10:00 and I promised I wouldn’t be late for Mass. We grabbed our gear and headed out to our cars, but not before, again, raiding some leftover swag boxes [extra shirts, L; 2 for me, 3 for him]. Arrgh!!!

Fist bumps were exchanged as we got in our cars and drove out of the lot.

Of course, we “raced” each other through Camden, and to I-676 before splitting up at the I-295 junction [South for him, North for me]

“It was a blast,” he emailed me later, “So, when's our next run?”

Your choice, dude.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Surprise Birthday Gift

I ran past the cemetery today for the first time since, ... well, since the beginning of the month. I figure run past on Halloween morning wouldn't be so bad; it's after the spirits rise at sunset, and settle back in before dawn tomorrow that gets sketchy.

The house with the goofy seashell mailbox was done up well, with just the right amount of orange candles in the windows and pumpkins on the porch. The mist floating across the street to cemetery freaked me out a bit, until I caught the distinct aroma of dryer sheets [although, kind spirits leave the scent of roses as they pass]

It had been awhile since I ran this route, as I said, and certainly not in the deep deep dark, so I couldn't quite tell how far I had to go between landmarks, or even what they were.

Whether it was my new unfamiliarity with my tried-and-true course, or excitement of the day, or because my spex had fogged up; I ran right past the left turn at 2-miles. You see, there was no traffic, so even though Atco Avenue is twice as wide as the other cross streets, unless you're running on the sidewalk [which there is none] or people's lawn, you don't notice the crossing.

"Hey, where'd this field come from? I never notice Atco Ave was ... Oh, well. Looks like I went a bit long."

How much extra? I dunno. I'll call it .4, although running 4.7 today, would have been cool irony.

I backtracked to the wide street and headed up the hill, down the hill, to the middle of town. In the dark, you can't really see inclines and declines; you just feel yourself going faster or slower.

I made my way through some more scary non-lit places [they only put streetlights at intersections down here, and you have to have two streets of certain "popularity" to qualify.

I checked my watch as I passed under a lucky streetlight.

"Really?!!! And how far to go?!!! Quarter mile maybe?"

I set the gearshift for the higher gear of my soul, as they say. Or I found a kick. Either way, my hamstring or sciatica or whatever's been going on back there was screeeeaming!!! If you ever seen "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," it felt like the shrieks of the mandrakes, as they were pulled from their pots.

I stopped my watch in front of the house.


Granted, I'm not sure what my detour added, but 4 miles + 0.4, would bring me home at 8:36 ... Smack in the middle of 8:30-Ville.

"Welcome, Rand. We've been expecting you."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hardcore or Knucklehead?

5:30 AM - 38° [W/C 33°], wind: NW 10, light > medium rain

I really didn't need to run this morning.

Yes, I have a 10K on Sunday, but I've put all my miles in and I have some leftover from the Distance Run. I should be in "maintenance mode" but I like doing my 4 miles on weekdays, 6 on Saturday and 8 on Sunday [or vice versa, as the case may be.]

So, why was I going out to run, basically in a Nor-easter, when I could just as easily rolled over and gotten another hour of toasty warm sleep? An hour I really could have used, since I stayed up until nearly midnight waiting for Game 5 of the World Series to have the plug pulled?

Firstly, if all those people could sit in the same wind and rain for hours on end at Citizens Bank Park, I could go out and run around in it for 30-40 minutes.

Also, there's a certain joy I get when people at work ask, "Did you run today?" knowing full well, I pretty much run every day.

Finally, running is my medicine; sometimes it has to be taken with a little bit of water.

The rain wasn't as hard when I opened the door as when I woke up, I must have caught a break between soakings. I had made sure to put Ziplock bags on my feet to keep them a little bit dry; the dark, early morning Fall rain is cold and miserable, not like the warm, playful thunderstorms of Summer afternoons. Dry feet are warm feet and warm feet are happy feet.

I popped my iPod out of my ears and set it on the porch [no pockets in my sweatpants]. I checked the finger of my glove for my good luck seashell [check!] and tugged down the hat that Annabelle had knit for me 4 years ago. I zipped D'Wife's cycling jacket [I was sure she wouldn't mind] up to my chin and then back down a bit.

I trotted out to the street and started my watch.

Elwood: It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.

4 miles, just under 36 minutes. Pretty much soaked through.

I had vegetable soup for breakfast.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Minor Modification

I was never comfortable with this set-up, the way Merle was when I bought it at the flea market + the brakes & clip-on aero bars from my old tri-bike.



So ... with some creative eBaying and about an hour of time.



Much better. Stylish, functional and most importantly, CHEAP!!!

Now this doesn't necessarily mean that I'm returning to triathlon anytime soon; no, no, no!

It just means that I have another, non-emabrassing ride option to take around D'Neighborhood with D'Girls. If, somehow, I decide to take a longer cruise by myself, and my elbows happen to find their way into a slightly more "aerodynamic" position, then that's just a coincidence, then, innit?

Yes, those ARE Victory Golden Monkey bottle caps/cages on the bar ends

Riding with the Monkey

They are very likely to be illegal.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't Quote Me On This

I realized this morning what I've set myself up for next Fall:

Philadelphia Distance Run [Half Marathon - 13.1 miles] – September 20
MS150 City to Shore [75 miles bike] – October 3
Hartford Half Marathon – October 10

It would be gutsy to try it, wouldn’t it?!!! What an adventure!!! If I could find/do a long swim [1¼ mile or so?], the last weekend of September, I’d be doing a Half-Ironman over the course of two weeks!!!

Fun, fun, fun!!!

Sadly, Reach the Beach Relay 2009 is set for the same weekend as The Distance Run, so many of my friends will have to choose, between the two [I promise that my feelings won't be hurt (much) by those who'd rather be in New Hampshire than Philly]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Never Say “Never Again”

“Next time you visit your father, be sure to let me know you’re in town. It would be great to have a beer with my new cousin!”

My first thought was ‘Yeah, don’t hold your breath!’

More conversation followed, and I got to know more about a whole side of the family that I barely knew existed!

“I’m the baby of seven; I have nine nieces, one nephew and eleven great nieces and nephews.”

Adding D’Kid and her 15 cousins, that’s a pretty big clan*.

After reading over the results and reports from many Kicksters who were running the Hartford Marathon and Half-Marathon, my initial reaction mellowed. I had thought, many years ago, that would be a nice place to run my first marathon, for my Grandpop and D’Girls to see me finish.

The finisher’s medal is pretty sweet:

Plus, as I said, I have online friends up there; and now, more family than ever.

I think I will be going back to Connecticut after all.

* She's my second cousin, actually, since her dad was Grandpop's brother. And there's more! A lot more!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Saying Goodbye

Walter R. Marthins
Walter R. Marthins, 97, of Wethersfield, husband of the late Mary V. (Quebec) Marthins, died Sunday, (September 28, 2008) at Hartford Hospital. He was born in Middletown, the son of Olaf and Jenny (Bloomberg) Marthins. Before his retirement he was an underwriter for the Traveler's Insurance Co. and served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. He enjoyed golf and painting. He leaves a son, Richard Marthins of Connecticut; a sister, Betty Rowe of Middletown; four grandchildren, Randolph, Christopher, Jeffrey and Todd Marthins, all of New Jersey; 11 great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Funeral will be Thursday, October 2, 9 a.m. from the Rose Hill Funeral Home, 580 Elm St., Rocky Hill, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial, 10 a.m. at Corpus Christi Church, Wethersfield. Burial will be in Cromwell Cemetery, Cromwell. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to American Cancer Society Research.

“Try not to be too long, you know how your brothers get,” D’Wife reminded me before I left New Jersey.

The funeral home was only a few minutes away from the Hampton Inn we were staying in Connecticut. If I left at 5:30, like I would on any other morning, I could complete my route in about an hour and be back in plenty of time to shower, dress and a have a little breakfast.

By chance, I had packed the exact same outfit I had run the Distance Run in, including my lucky shell and sharky sox.

The route I
planned to run would take me past my old school, the street bike tag was invented, my old house, to my grandpop’s house, past our old church and back to the hotel, and clocked about 6½ miles; my usual Saturday length.

However, after missing the first turn in the dark fog and mist, I decided it would be best karmically to run it the
other way – to go to the church first, get that over with, and finish with school.

Running up the “business district” was a lot like the scene in The Blues Brothers when they were driving around in the shopping mall with 2 police cars on their tail

Elwood: Baby clothes...
Jake: This place has got everything.

Sadly, I also saw a lot of “Retail Space For Rent” signs. In fact, most of the stoplights were just flashing yellow, even at quarter of six in the morning, not even anticipating any traffic.

I tried to remember some of the names of kids I had know on each street as I went by, but could only remember two or three on that part of town. As quickly as I remembered, I forgot them again.

Once I got to the church, I took a moment to say a prayer. My spex were fogged and it was still dark, so I gingerly made my way up the parking lot, noticing the reflection of the fence, looking for the gap and the lighter grey of the concrete sidewalk that led me up the slight incline to the Corpus Christi school parking lot. Finding my way around the corner and onto the driveway, I moved along to the street to Grandpop’s house. The new owners hadn’t made any drastic changes yet, so that was an easy goodbye.

I set a course for my old house.

It’s a deceptively subtle climb from over that mile due to all the turns it was more of a bunch of little climbs. And, I was pretty fresh still.

The route I ran
LAST time I was here was even more aggressive! I wouldn’t be doing that again. That day was an investigatory stroll; this morning I was closing a door.

The sky was beginning to blue and I could see the clouds drifting away as I crossed Wells Road, a main “don’t go past that” street of my childhood. I had trouble remembering which of two houses was my first elementary school “girlfriend’s” since both candidates had extensive additions and remodeling done. I kept my eyes open for the funny little bend in the sidewalk across the street from our corner market. The drug store where I bought my first Mad Magazine and Hot Rod Magazine was now a liquor store [thank God they waited for us to move before making that switch].

I sped down the hill to 64 Clearfield Road - of all the places on the street to put a bike alert sign?

I guess the old garage is some sort of bikey shrine now.

I passed a neighbor walking his dog and found the bike path, crunched across the gravel and off to school. It’s hard to believe that “The Mitchell Apartments” used to be an elementary school. I wonder if they still have the same cafeteria food?

I passed the entrance to Mill Woods Park, where I learned to ice skate and swim [in that order I think?], then up the hill on Prospect Street. This was NO gradual climb like the other earlier on; this was a quad buster, an arm-swinger that seems to rise 500 feet at a 45° angle. I still have nightmares about it – you know the kind where your feet won’t move, no matter how you tried.

I groaned up to the summit and called upon my seashell friend to get me over the top. We did and triumphantly bombed down the descent, smiling and almost giggling, being careful not to skid out on the wet leaves and steep curbs.

Heading back to the hotel, the highway traffic had increased now, and the stoplights were fully functional again. The coffee shops and diners had breakfast cooking, they filled the air with the aroma of bacon and sausage. The pale blue sky showed streaks of salmon and coral, as the streetlights clicked off one by one.

I trotted past the door of the Hampton, out of breath – yeah, I kicked it up a little to finish, although I’d never started my watch so I wasn’t running for a certain time. I just wanted to look good, in case a brother or two was in the lobby.

Which there was.

“How’d it go?” he asked.


We exchanged some chit-chat, a handshake and a hug and I stepped into the elevator.

I wasn’t dreading the rest of the day anymore.

NOTE: We didn't find out until the actual Mass [you know you're dealing with a special person when the priest (70 years old, and a veteran of many, many funerals) gets choked up] that Grandpop Walt didn't become Catholic until 1984 ... at the age of 74, just before my Grandparent's 50th Anniversary. My brothers and I never noticed that although the whole MartFamily went up, Grandpop didn't take Communion ... I guess we were to busy goofing around to notice.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2008 Philadelphia Distance Run – Part Three: Done

“So … What went wrong?” I started hearing those words at Mile 12 when I knew that a 2-hour finish was out of reach. Not by much, but enough.

The fact was nothing went wrong … it all went incredibly right! Sure, I was slower than I expected, but I didn’t break down, I didn’t over heat, and I was still moving past people at the end - of course they may have been drifting backwards … I didn’t get any blisters [brand new sox, nonetheless] and I won’t be losing any toenails.

After passing under the finish banner, the first order of business was to reconnect with my girls, my backpack, and most importantly, my toothpaste. The Jefferson Hospital Family Reunion Area was not a tent as we had suspected, but a number of areas staked out on the Eakins Oval Lawn with letters on them. I just hoped D’Girls were bright enough to go to “M”.

They were …

Now, the next order of business was to find the others.

“Daddy!” D’Kid shouted as we wandered about looking for a familiar face, “I met Alexis!”

“You did?”

‘Damn,’ I thought, ‘That was someone I really wanted to meet.’

“Yeah,” she said her eyes beaming, “She came up to me and asked ‘Are you Mariel?’ and I said ‘Yes’ and she said ‘I’m Alexis. I’ve seen your picture. I’m one of your Dad’s online fiends’ then she said to Mom, ‘You must be Donna’ She’s really tall … and really tan.”

“She’s niiiiiice,” D’Wife agreed. Niiiiiiiice, is a great compliment, “I’m really liking these friends you’ve made.”

I think that of the six of us, I was fifth.

Eventually, Jill circled back around to see us, but we couldn’t stay … I needed to get back to Jersey for Post-Race Diner Food, before my legs started seizing up. The heaters in the car’s seats were fully employed and much welcome.

Lunch at Country Club Diner found me tucking into a well made Reuben, with more than enough coleslaw; spinach and feta omelet for D’Wife and cheese ravioli for D’Kid.

Upon returning home, all my race gear was shed, and I got a good scrubbing off.

Mariel’s friend across the street was home, so she asked if she could go play over there.

“Not a problem,” I answered, as I popped the cork on a bottle of Chimay Blue. “Stay over there as long as you want. The Eagles game isn’t until 4”

I took my pint outside and set it on the steps, as I set a glide-path and slowly nosedived into the blanket D’Wife had spread out for us in the warm sunshine of the backyard.

After a brief catnap, I came back in to check up on my friends who were checking up on me. It was pretty cool to see that they were following me better and closer than I was following myself.

I’d never had a bunch of friends that would do that.

“I’m really liking these friends you’ve made.”

2008 Philadelphia Distance Run – Part Two: Run

I get up every morning at 5AM anyway, so planning a 6:15 departure was no problem for me. D’Wife can get up and moving pretty well, when need be [to catch a flight to California, for instance] The real test would be The Possum. She is slow as can be on even the most important days [her First Holy Communion day, for example], how would she respond on Race Morning?

The answer ... Wonderfully!!

She was up and out of bed five minutes before her alarm went off at six o’clock. A quick breakfast for her and her mom and we were out the door. It was a cool morning; not quite 50° in the not quite dawn of the Pines. I threw my hopefully lucky Michigan sweatshirt over my running gear. I started Vicki up and immediately put the heater on. We were over the bridge and parked at the first lot we found [15th and Vine, the same place that Todd, Pam and I parked in 1999] by 7:15.

D’Girls and I followed the parade of skinny white people to the Parkway and toward the start line at Eakins Oval. We were getting close to the 7:45 start however, so my girls found a nice spot on the south side of the Parkway to wait for me and cheer as I came down and back in the first 5 mile loop. Hugs, kisses and Good Lucks were exchanged and I was on my own.

Oh, and a brief photo op

Dad & Coach

I was primarily trying to find my friends as I wandered through the crowd near the start, but a vacant place to stretch would have been nice, too. I had been nursing an aggravating ache in my left hamstring and desperately wanted to get that loose before we started.

I also noticed, as I made my way past the potties and the starting corals, that I had to pee.

Oh well. This has happened before. In years past I’d get the nervous reaction, and planned to stop once we got to the trees in Fairmount Park. I either got over it or sweated the fluid out, because I didn’t ever have to stop for a bio break, in all the years I’ve run this.

Corral #9 was jammed; there was no way I was getting that up close and personal and it didn’t really seem to matter to the officials where you started, so I moved back. #10 was almost as bad, #11 less so, and so on. I eventually settled in #16. If my friends were to start in #17 as their numbers indicated, they’d come past me, but I’d probably not see them. Those that started ahead of me would be in the part of the runnerverse that would be moving away at a speed quicker than mine.

Somewhere up ahead, a horn sounded and the runners, the real pro elite runners, started.

We waited. We stood.

As we waited, I remarked that - thanks to the Distance Run's new sponsor, ING - I hadn't seen this mich orange in one place in Philly since the Flyers' Stanley Cup Parade [yes, Alexis, they DID win it once (twice actually) and there was a parade, and I was there!]

A few minutes later we shuffled. Then we walked. Only once we got to the start line, did we start our watches and begin to run.

And slowly at that.

To add insult to … not injury, but … It’s kind of disheartening to see the leaders flying towards you on their way to mile 4, when you haven’t even gotten to the first marker yet.

I got to the first mile clock [stationed in Love Park, how fitting for me] as it read 20-something minutes; my watch said ten something minutes – a variance of 10 minutes. That was nice. I had mentioned to one of my Kick peeps that if she got to the finish before me, I’d put up how many fingers to subtract form the finish clock to measure my “chip time."

4 minutes behind would be \m/ \m/, a symbol D'Kid certainly recognizes and a shout-out the FBI Metal twins - Doe and Pasquale.

We had no plan if it was more than 10.

I also pushed the “start/split” button on my watch. I was going to try to measure my mile splits. Reading the manual on how to actually do this, and what I would be looking at, might have been a good idea.

Proceeding around City Hall and into the sun of Market Street [which didn’t smell that bad this morning] I came upon two young women with singlets that said:

“Trying to finish before Megan turns 21”

“So when does Megan turn 21?” I asked, “11:00 or so?”

“Well, Tuesday,” I was told by a delightfully twangy voice, “I think we have it made.”

The first water stop appeared unexpectedly. I wasn’t hot, I certainly was not thirsty, and really moving nicely, barely working hard. I felt comfortable passing through it without taking a drink.

I got to the 2nd mile mark a little more than 9 minutes after the first. I had been training at about 8:45 pace, so I was slower than that.

It didn’t matter. I was having a great day so far.

We turned into the Gayborhood at 6th and Spruce.

“Hey that’s my old church!” as we passed Holy Trinity. Soon we were around Washington Square and onto Walnut Street.

I saw a near-familiar sight: “Trying to finish before I turn 21”

“You must be Megan?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” she answered with a voice as sweet and Southern as peach-blossom honey, “How’d you know?”
“I passed your mom and aunt back there”
“How far back?”
“I don’t know,”
‘oh, crap, measuring again’
“Half a mile now?”
“Well, wish me luck, y’all”
“You got it … And happy birthday”

Cheap Trick started playing in my head.

The 3 mile and 5K markers came by in quick succession. As we approached the turn onto 16th street, I found myself drafting behind two red Segways.

I was tempted to ask if they ever did tours near the Art Museum, but they were actually slower than me and in the way right at that moment, so I zipped around them.

Down 16th Street [which did smell as foul as I always remember] I grabbed a sip form water stop #2. My throat was getting dry from the pleasantly low humidity on the day.

I kept my eyes open as we traveled back up the Parkway, looking for my fans [if I’d been smart I would have made a note as to which flag they were sitting near]. When I didn’t see them, I figured they moved closer to the finish line and I’d find them there. In about an hour and a half.

I passed though the fourth water stop, without spilling too much and onto the downhill under the Spring garden Street bridge. It was cool down there as the morning sun hadn’t warmed the shady embankments yet. Men [and women] emerged from the shrubs and bushes at the side of the road, speeding back into the crowd along MLK Drive, after heeding Nature’s call.

Myself, I was good.

My rhythm was good, I wasn’t hot or thirsty; I was just happily cruising along at, I don’t know, 9-something pace, I figured.

Much better than the last time. Meaning, 2006.

Then it occurred to me … The REAL last time I was here, it was dark, it was hot, and I was going the other direction. I also had Doe, Maureen, The Lors, Jen, Kelly and Yi Juin with me. That was a good time!

Another disheartening sight at the 5 mile mark: The leaders at about 20K on the other side of the river.

I got to 10K at about an hour.

“Okay, so to break 2 we need to …” one part of my brain, the math side, started to calculate.

“We need to shut the fuck up and enjoy ourselves,” the other side countered, “This is a great run and we feel fucking awesome. We fucked up the two hour goal, so let’s start training for next year, right fucking now.”

The other side of my brain is a potty mouth. He pretty much shut up Mr. Pacekeeper the Math Wiz at this point and allowed me to simply chase ponytails. I still had a fleeting dream that the speedettes [Jill and Alexis] might be nearby, but that would mean they were in a dayful of teh suck and would be in no mood for company.

The 10K mark was also the first appearance of Mr. Fixie.

Mr. Fixie was a cyclist. He had curly dark brown hair, geeky Keith Olbermann spex [the dude equiv of Tina Fey] and a very nice fixed gear bike … British racing green with track bars and toe clips. He cheered us on with a complimentary Saturn mini-cowbell from The Expo [my girls had walked off with one each and I sure they were tormenting the finishers with them already]. Somehow, I could swear I’d ridden with him all those years ago, when I lived in The Gayborhood.

A word or two about the musical support …

I could have done without the Eagles Pep Band [even if they were playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” as we passed]

I didn’t recall anyone playing on the Parkway on the way back from Center City, other than the canned playlist on the speakers – most likely an endless loop of “Start Me Up” “Where the Streets Have No Name” “Born to Run” and something of a “Rocky Medley”

The first notable live band was on the MLK Drive [apparently repositioned from their assigned place at mile 4]

Frank Jackson Big Band
Back by popular demand! The Frank Jackson Big Band is a 15-piece ensemble of accomplished musicians who are sure to have you movin’ and groovin’ as the infectious melodies seize your attention and surge through your body.

Brasch & Bold is an acoustic power trio capable of rocking the house while still allowing the audience to talk to each other. The acoustic music of Brasch & Bold stays with the listener. It’s all about the song.

… except, they were on a break as we passed. Oh well. The also may have switched stages with …

The Randy Lippincott Band is a fine tuned four piece unit with many years of experience, performing Blues, Boogie, Soul and New Orleans party tunes. Utilizing tasteful guitar and vocals, with an exciting overlay of harmonica and powered by a mighty rhythm section, they deliver sets that range from favorite classics to the occasional obscure selection.

… because I remember passing them first, right after the big band. These guys reminded me a lot of one of the greatest roadhouse blues bands of all time [2nd only to AC/DC], The Nighthawks from DC.

The water stop at Mile 8 brought water, Cytomax, Powergel and a distinctly Phishy outfit

The Art of Self Defense
We like a lot of different stuff and bet you do too, so let's just say that we're into all kinds of music. The Art of Defense is a new band that is still evolving within the confines of their songs, instruments and players.

… with all the “snack” wrappers around all I could think was …

Mr. Hand: Am I hallucinating here? Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?
Jeff Spicoli: Learning about Cuba, and having some food.

But the musical highlight and the spiritual ½-way point was approaching ... The Falls Bridge Piper.

Even though it’s far more than 6½ miles from the start and less than that from the finish, the Falls River Bridge remains to many the midpoint of the race. Firstly, you are returning to the start/finish area for good. Secondly, these next 5 miles will be pretty much straight into the sun. Third, this is where the pain starts, on the uphill approach to the bridge.

For the first time in years [failing to do so in ’99 and ‘06] I ran it!!!

… The last time I was here, it was dark, it was hot, and I was going the other direction.

At the turn at the bottom of the Bridge I saw dozens and dozens of cyclists wearing Team Tania jerseys – D’Wife’s colors. We’d be in Ocean City next week supporting her team in their fight against MS. Scheduling during the summer inhibited her training for the 75-mile ride [I overheard a conversation a week ago: “Holly, I’ve only been riding 30-40 miles a week,” she said, “That’s nothing!”]

At the first flat spot beyond the bridge, I heard the clangclangclang of a cowbell. Mr. Fixie was welcoming us to Mile 9. How did he get past us? No matter. Every step from this point was my longest run of the year. No, in TWO years! I felt great: Nothing crampy, nothing chafey, nothing blistery from my new sharky sox.

There is another element about that turn.

On the way out, on West River Drive [sorry, I lived there too long], for some reason, everything still feels green, lush, open and summery. There are pine trees and cedars; shady spots and wide family picnic areas. Will Smith’s “Summertime” video.

Crossing the river, the landscape changes.

It becomes more claustrophobic as the bike path feels jammed between the unregulated freeway of Kelly Drive and the Schuylkill River. Even though we had reign of the street for the day, we felt like interlopers; that at any moment the Philadelphia Police and Fairmount Park Authority would say, “Okay, jokes over! You’re on your own! HA!!!”

Meteorlogical, environmental and horticultural elements gang up on you on this side as well. Deciduous trees [gum, maple and poplar, in particular] lose their leaves earlier on this sunny, warm, dry side of the Park, especially when it hasn’t rained but once in a month or so.

As I still said [even when I wasn’t running] “Fall begins between Mile 8 and Mile 9 of the Philadelphia Distance Run.”

In my mind, and coaching Doe I had said this race would be “5 miles, 5 miles and 5K”

Passing the 15K mark, I thought, “One more K to the last 5K”

Shortly thereafter I hit the 10 mile mark. Doing the 10 minutes clock time deficit math, I figured that I beat my 10 mile with Annabelle by 2 minutes. What I didn’t know [“being tracked by spotters on the ground” i.e. my Kick friends] was that my pace through 10 miles was exactly the same as my pace through 10K.


And every step from here was my longest run in 2 years. That thought overwhelmed me for a moment. I looked to my left and saw the wall and tall grey markers of Laurel Hill Cemetery, warming in the Sunday morning sun. I reached into my pocket and touched my talisman; a small shell I brought with me from I don’t know where but it was perfect for her.

“Okay, baby, pull me along … we don’t need to go fast, we just need to go. That’s what you do, that’s what we do.”

There were only two landmarks left … The Rock Tunnel under the Amtrak tracks [where everyone screams (if they still have breath) and which were sadly off-limits to us at Midnight Madness] and the Lighthouse on Boathouse Row.

At the water stop #7 I took my only taste of CytoMax, which I couldn’t find ahead of time to acclimate myself to, just in case. It may have been a Pink Lemonade flavor, I couldn’t tell … an hour and a half of water and my own spit had rendered my taste receptors out of commission.

And there was Mr. Fixie.

I thought for a moment that maybe we couldn’t see him pass because he was going the other way; for every 2 miles forward we went, he was going 6½ miles around the other way … hmmm 2 miles for us = 20 minutes … 20 miles an hour on a flat … Mr. Math-Head woken up!!!

I touched the shell again, silenced the Mathlete within and screamed all those names important to me in the few seconds in the Rock Tunnel – starting with “God Bless ..” and ending with “… Amen.”

I was still hitting the “Start/Split” button, although I had no idea why, as we entered Boathouse Row

The last time I was here, it was dark, it was hot, and I was just getting started.

I wanted to drop the seashell off at The Lighthouse for Midnight Madness 2009 but being so small I figured she’d get lost. She may end up as a necklace or bracelet, instead.

As I chugged through the water-stop drenched glare that is Mile 12 and saw that I was at the 2-hour mark, my though wasn’t of not making the deadline but, “Wow! How long can you run?” echoing the sentiment of my friend’s comment a couple weeks before:

you'd just run then get in the van, then run again ... and in the end you'd say, wait, how many miles did I run?”

Yeah, she hates me.

I put my head down and ground up the hill where Doe’s knee caved 2 months before walking back to our cars.

As we came down the final ½ mile I did what I could to separate myself from the crowd … so that the photogs would capture my number better.

I turned and checked the clock … 2:18

Minusing the 10, I had my 2:12 of ’06 beat with 50 yards to go.

I drifted far left in case I heard …


I turned to the voices, startled. With 25 yards left I was sorely tempted to stop go to the fence and give hugs, but the clock had final say.

There would be next year.

Part 3 >>>>