Sunday, August 31, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation ...

Runners have a bad reputation ...

Great Moments In Scrabble:
D'Kid: "I have one! A-I-N-E-L
Dad: "Huh?!!!
D'Kid: "What? Mom calls you that all the time.
Dad: "Oh. But that's not how it's spelled. Do you have another 'A'?"

Maybe I'm more surfy than that; more holistic. I get up before the sun, stretch a little, put on my shoes, go outside and just try to make today better than yesterday ... I do my run, post my results to Kick and forget about it.

Until Thursday ...

GatorBob: "the run put me over 100 miles for August. I'm quite happy with that..."

Hmmmm ... I wonder ...

I had to go back and look at my "Run Thread" posts to add mine up [and of course, make up a spreadsheet, calculating miles per week; if I kept time of each run, I'd probably have it calculate avg pace - dork!]. 108 miles for August at that time ... with 3 days left ... how'd I do that? Then I did two 4's and a 6½ ... 122½ miles on 25 days running - 4.9 mi/day average

EEK!!! I liked it better when I had no idea.

Then ... because, now I just HAD to know [and took no records of my own] I prowled through the June and July "Run" threads on KickRunners.

June: 61 miles on 15 days
July: 76½ miles on 16


Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Shore Thing – Part 2

It wasn’t a race day, but it sure felt like one.

I wouldn’t be pinning on a number, or strapping on any timing chip, but I had been anticipating this run all week. I had a course mapped and measured [just not committed to memory, 100%]. We had planned on going to Mass Saturday night, but tossed that idea, since there was no way to split the kids up and off the beach in time to get ours to church. I ate a decent dinner, drank only a couple of beers, then a bottle of water and went to bed early [Bonnie noticed that it was 10:40 when I said good night and remarked almost constantly, “I can’t believe Randy went to bed so early,” for the next two hours]. I laid out my gear for the next morning, including my very special bright orange Team Crash Test Dummy socks.

I woke up about 6:30 [sadly, the sun was already up], brushed, pottied, stretched and hit the road around 7:00.

P1030455 ... Not Pete's house

The first order of business was to double-check the Sunday Mass schedule at St. Thomas. They have a wonderful sign on the steps there:

Okay, 9:30 and 11 … Got it.

On I went, past the firehouse, the bagel shop and lastly, The Pirates Den, before turning left at 13th Street. I passed my friend Duffy’s condo and the most magnificent of bayside dive bars: The Rod & Reel. I checked my watch: 13 minutes or so for about a mile and a half? That’s a good start, I s’pose.

As I cruised along the boat slips, and said good morning to a few dogwalkers, I noticed arrows painted on the street [as affluent a community as Brigantine is, their sidewalks are shitty, so I ran in the street. There was no traffic anyway]. It occurred to me that these arrows were the markers for the bike portion of the Brigantine Triathlon, which I had done a couple of times, long ago. Since my recollection of my planned route was sketchy at best, I decided to just follow them around the top of the island. I had no idea where my mile markers were from here to the lighthouse anyway, and no clue on my pace; I was just out for a Sunday morning jog, as were a couple of other folks.

I wound my way around the north end of the island where there was much new construction and renovation going on. I dipped through plenty of sprinklers; it was a much muggier morning than I was used to. I had gotten used to the coolish, fall-like temps of the past couple of weeks.

Of course, that was 50 miles inland from here.

Not an environment where fiberglass mailboxes look like seahorses, or porpoises or manatees. Not a neighborhood where boats out-number trucks which out-number cars in the driveway. Not a place where “starfish” (oops, “sea star”) is a shape and “sparkly” is a color.

I trotted around and observed.

Note: When running in new places, keep a Sharpie in your pocket otherwise you may forget the name of the antique store whose van you saw parked in the driveway.

Cobweb Corner / Seascape Antiques

It’s also interesting to note that there is a Rowing Club on the island and that the Holy Spirit High School trains there. Sadly it looks a lot more like a warehouse than something on the Schuylkill.

I passed the rowing club and caught sight of the water tower behind Bonnie & Pete’s house. When I got to S. 16th St. by my reckoning, that would be about 5 miles, then I’d just go past the stubby little lighthouse to 44th St. out towards the beach and back up Ocean Ave … This part I’d run before, and with numbered streets I could keep track of my pace, if I cared to.

I checked my watch as I passed my “Five Mile” mark … 48 minutes. Not too bad. I had figured to do the eight in an hour and fifteen or so; I had about half an hour to run the next three. My hamstrings were starting to tighten up, I started looking for something to stretch them out on … yeah, a bike rack will do fine, thank you very much.

I passed the lighthouse and trotted through the far more cottagey and bungalowish south oceanside portion of the island. I made the turn at the dune on 40th St. and started count the blocks down, by 4s, “24, 20, 16, etc.” At 20th St. I needed to make a decision, end on the beach or at the house? My water bottle and Gatorade were at the house, so that was the choice.

I turned left at 16th [“Block Zero”], crossed the wide boulevard and finished in front of the house.
1:14 – 74 minutes. A bit above 9:00 per mile [9:15, exactly*] but that was okay.

I went over to the outside shower, stripped out of my sweaty running gear and into a sweatshirt and cargo pants. I put on my iPod, grabbed my bottles and camera and walked to the beach.

P1030458 P1030459

Returning to the house, I started the coffee and had an apple. When it was ready, I took my cup in the sunroom, put on the replay of the US Olympic basketball game, and txt’d a friend of mine.

It was a most perfect morning.

* Upon returning to work Monday morning, I remapped the route I actually ran vs. the one I had planned to run … it was ½ a mile longer, meaning my pace was just below 8:45.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Shore Thing – Part 1

I have strongly avoided going down the shore this year. Not that I haven’t wanted to enjoy the beach and the ocean with my girls, nor to spend time my two of my best dude friends, Pirate Pete and John the Parrothead. The overwhelming factoring has been my growing disdain and disaffection with Aunt Bonnie [Mrs. Pete].

You’ve heard the expression “Some people are faucets, some people are drains?” Bonnie is the big rubber stopper at the bottom of the ocean; the ultimate suckfest. Not only is her constant yammering annoying, but her incessant need to go over her vacation day schedule and visitor pre-reservations at Casa de Pedro [interesting the way that works: She calls you and tells you when you’re coming down], and the back-stabbing trash-talk, not only of her friends, but of their kids, their families, people they know that she’s met..

It’s called the Bonnie-verse; and I’m stuck in it!

Bonnie met D’Wife when DW trained her as a social worker at Bancroft.

Little did Donna realize the “gravity” of the situation. More than 20 years later, she can’t escape the Bonnie-verse.

Don’t get me wrong … Of my closest friends, Pete and John are super-tight in the Bonnie-verse [well, Pete, duh!]. The problem is:

1) If you have Bonnie-verse friends, you may not socialize without Bonnie present. That means that D’Kid can’t see Leah, John’s daughter without both families dragging the kids to Brigantine … Guess what Bon? They see each other a LOT more than you think!

2) All your friends belong to us; us = Bonnie. Caveat: As long as they live in New Jersey, will travel to The Shore, and will pay homage to the Bonzerillista. My best friends Lisa, Tommy and Jill? Don’t exist, because Bonnie only met them at our wedding. If we mention them Bonnie gets this glazed “who?” look.

3) Once you’re in … you can’t get out. If you marry in, divorce won’t save you; Bonnie keeps in touch with a couple ex’s – she’s just careful about scheduling. Death won’t save you; Bonnie is a miraculous grudge holder. It’s amazing to me what people choose to remember vs. what they can forget.

All that being said, I was somewhat apprehensive about going down there this weekend. I certainly wanted to share the ocean with M’Girls, plus the opportunity to do a long run on the island was a big plus … oh, some unexplored territory!

I plotted my course for Sunday, got everything ready ahead of time [including checking the Mass schedules for St. Thomas (Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning)]

We got there about 1:00, blew off Church for Saturday and came off the beach around 5PM.
As the girls were changing and showering, I attended to the most pressing need … beer for Dad!
I had checking the fridge upon arrival – NASCAR Beer. Plus, D’Wife needed wine.

While in Island Liquors I was able to offer my expertise …

Dude1: We should get some beer for the girls
Dude2: They don’t drink beer
Dude1: If they don’t like it, we’ll drink it [he pulls a 6 of Harpoon Raspberry Hefeweizen]
Me [Mr. Nosy-Body, only because this jerk is in my way]: Oh, she’ll like that!
D1: She will? Is it beer?
RM: Well, it was; until they put all the raspberry shit in it. Girls love this crap! It’s sweet and fruity, and fizzy; it’s just so gay!!! I wouldn't even touch it.

D1 then noticed my Brigantine Triathlon T-shirt [complete luck of 'what was next in the drawer'] and figured me for some hardcore athlete.

D1: Have you tried the Michelob Ultra?
RM: I don't drink NASCAR beer, sorry.

He looked at the little old sun-burnt surfer beer-geek before him and chuckled to himself, “Thanks, boss.”

Philadelphia Brewing Company – Walt Wit; Newbold IPA
Martin’s Liquors, Mt. Laurel, NJ: $10.99 / 6-pack
Canal’s Berlin : $9.99
Island Beverage, Brigantine : $9.35

This may be the first time that I've ever seen beer cheaper Down the Shore than at home.

Part 2 >>>

Thursday, August 21, 2008

30 Days

One month until the Philadelphia Distance Run, my second "A" race of the year [Midnight Madness being the first, although far from a race, more of an event].

I'm training better this year than any year I can remember, and enjoying it a lot more than I can recall. Sure, there were times when I left work in the red sky blast furnace of Summer, thinking back to the days when I would alternately dread and relish the prospect of doing 7, 8, or 9 miles. I won't lie ... some evenings I considered doing another 3 or 4 on top of the 3 or 4 I'd already done that morning. Conversely, there were plenty of sprinkler soaked mornings when September 21 seemed so far away, that I thought, "Dude, you should have stayed in bed."

The miles don't run themselves.

So, we're good ... I have one point of anxiety ... we're going down to Brigantine this weekend. I am looking forward to a long run around the island. I have a route laid out and everything. I'm looking forward to a repeat of my session two years ago. However, I can NOT and WILL not deal with another disappointment, like the one that followed.

I'm going down there, eager and excited but cautious ...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Programming Change

The regular background music [Bustle in Your Hedgerow - Live at Beachland Ballroom on 2007-06-21] has been temporarily suspended, so that I might bring you David Byrne and Brian Eno's latest collaboration, "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today" in streaming audio.

David [or his robot] emailed me this morning and said, "It's cool to share"

Good Morning

Today (Monday here in NYC) the rest of the album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is available in three different formats. Small, Large and Extra Large. There is no medium. Just kidding about the sizes - but the three versions part is true, plus there is artwork etc.You can stream the rest of the songs or just go for what's behind the curtain at: I hope you like the songs....

David B

Following the link ...

Brian Eno and I recently finished our first collaboration in about 30 years. The name of the new record is "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today." For the most part, Brian did the music and I wrote some tunes, words and sang. It's familiar but completely new as well. We're pretty excited.

The album is available exclusively from this Web site. You can stream all of the songs for free and purchase it in a variety of digital and physical formats, including a limited edition Deluxe Package designed by Sagmeister Inc. All formats can be downloaded immediately and physical CDs will be shipped in the Fall.

David Byrne

PS: If you like what you hear, please share the streaming player on the left of the page with your friends, or embed it on your Web site, blog or profile. Just click Embed/Share and you're good to go.

So here you go, with David's blessings:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An Ending, A Beginning, or a Turnaround?

I stepped on the scale this morning, after shortening my usual 4 mile weekday run to 3 due to timing issues, and was, frankly stunned. The red line indicating my weight was on the left side of the black line marking 140 pounds.

This was the lightest I’ve been since … well, since I started calling myself “fat” and I started doing that in the 150s.

The point of this blog was to document my return to the weight and shape I was back when I was racing “really, really well” and counting on some math and dedication to bring me there. However the math failed me completely [there is NO WAY that I ran 400 more miles than the beer I drank; if anything I owe more to the run column than I did at the beginning].

So, the weight is gone … Am I faster? Faster than I was when I started 400 Beers? Certainly, and improving every day … well, not every day but on the whole, week-by-week. I’ve slipped the 9:00 miles and am now flirting with 8:30s. I’ve come real close to 8:00 on a couple 5K training runs [mostly because I knew that if I got home after D’Kid was up, I’d get my ass kicked. Being tired, sweaty, thirsty, and getting yelled at before my first cup of coffee is not my idea of a good morning]

I know that I’ll never get back to my glory days. I have accepted that. There are Before-Dadhood PRs, and After-Dadhood PRs. Why not? I’m not the same person, after all. 3 miles in 24:24 the other week may not be my PR, but it was my fastest in quite a while, so that’s the mark to beat!

Which brings the question? Have we, in fact, Rebuilt the Monster?

That’s the trouble with self-improvement … knowing when to stop.

Let’s look at the specs:

Size, shape and weight are about the same. Speed is off, but improving. The measurables [heart rate, BP, Advil consumption, Tums-ishness] are about where I expect, since I never paid attention to them anyway, back then. On another plane: I’ve got my mojo, I found my Zen, anger and depression have been replaced by clarity and joy. My often broken heart has been spot-welded and reinforced with concrete and rebar. I’m not training alone anymore, with no goals in sight, but with a bunch of 1s and 0s that I call my friends [those names to the left, there], whom I can’t wait to meet up with on the line.

So, I would say yes. The Monster has been rebuilt, has completed some road trails, and is ready to go.

To go for what?

I have some ideas. After all, this is My Running Career v2.0, nothing is set in stone. In fact it’s less set in stone then when I was younger, and felt compelled to establish PRs at every distance and at every race.

Let me think about it …

Over a beer.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Fine Breakfast

Grilled Breakfast Pizza:

Pre-made personal-sized pizza crust

Tomato sauce, diced tomatoes or salsa/pico

Cheese [at least 2 kinds]

Toppings [bacon, sausage, ham, onions, peppers, mushrooms, the sky's the limit]

Egg [or two depending on crust size]

Start the grill, oil the grate and place crust right on alone for a couple minutes to warm up and crisp the bottom.

Tomato up the pizza crust

Add cheese and toppings

When cheese is melted and toppings look almost done, crack the egg right on top*. Close lid and cook till opaque. Finish with oregano, rosemary, stuff like that.

*If you prefer scrambled - whip them up on the side burner until just about done, then spoon on top and finish in the grill

This is especially good after a long, early-morning, late-summer run [or ride]. Standing barefoot beside the grill at 8AM on a Sunday with a cool bottle of water and a spatula, is remarkably ... well, it's just weird, let's be honest.

If you can't possibly eat pizza without a beer [even at 8AM!], I suggest something light ... A non-NASCAR pilsener or a hefeweizen - this IS summer after all. If you require something stronger to start the day, might I recommend ...

Founders Breakfast Stout
You?ve got to love coffee to truly appreciate this phenomenal brew. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and sweetened imported chocolates, Sumatra and Kona coffee. Breakfast Stout has an intense fresh roasted coffee nose toped with a cinnamon colored frothy head that seems to never fade and makes you wish breakfast could last forever.


8.3% ABV

25 IBU?s

Color: Black


Cellar: 1 year

Availability: Quarterly (limited production, pre-order only)

Serving temperature: 42° F

Glassware: Bubble glass