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 >>>>

Saturday, September 20, 2008

2008 Philadelphia Distance Run – Part One: Fun

It was a pretty simple Pre-Race Day strategy; the usual Saturday morning routine [minus my 6½ mile run at dawn], then sometime around lunch we’d hop across The Bridge to pick up my number and do some minor clearance rack shopping at the Race Expo, then down to ProPedals in Hammonton to pick up a new bicycle helmet for D’Wife.

Um, dude, that’s about 75 miles of driving for a couple pieces of paper and a hunk of plastic?

So what? D’Girls were really excited that Race Day was almost here. This is my first big race as a family [2006, I was kind of on my own, both training and racing]. Plus, they were both excited about seeing some of my/our Kick friends again.

We got over like a dream [except the part where they raised the bridge toll to $4; we had the extra buck handy] I parked in the garage closest to the Convention Center. I can’t go into a parking garage anymore without thinking of LSU_Fan_Tiff

“quick check in to tell y'all I've got a running plan for if I get stuck at the hospital in the next few days. Two words: Parking Garage! I've solved my hills and hurricane non running problem in one thought. So if CNN is taping some crazy chick running up and down the parking garage as helicopters are landing transporting patients that's probably me. All joking aside, that's really my running plan if I'm stuck there.”

To which I responded:

I've done that!!! I've also gone up to the roof of the Trump Taj Mahal lot in AC with my skateboard, bombed it to the bottom and taken the elevator back up [like a ski lift!].

“The looks I got from the whiteheads were precious!!!”

We exited the garage onto 12th Street. To my recollection, this was the first time the three of us walked the sidewalks of Philly together. This was NOT D’Kid’s first time though; she had been on a couple of class trips already.

Of course, I had to remark that, “Daddy used to live on this exact street!”

We entered the Convention Center and followed all the skinny white people upstairs to The Expo. The first order of business was to discover my race number. Since I had registered online, at almost the last minute, I didn’t receive a confirmation card with my number on it, so I had to look it up on The Big Board of Numbers.

My friends had registered far earlier than me and had posted their predicted times much faster than mine and were assigned numbers in the 14000 and 17000 range. I had estimated a 2-hour finish, so I was anticipating a 5-digit number, beginning with a “2”




That put me in corral #9 … I’d be ahead of them?

Actually, this worked out well for me, since I’d be able to say “Hi!” as they went by.

That statement is huge, as it suggests a complete change in my mindset over the past year. Previously, I would have cringed at the thought of being beaten by a friend of mine or worse, family. One reason I regarded my 2:12 in 1999 as such a disappointment was because, not only was it my worst showing since I started racing the Distance Run, but also because I was more than 20 minutes behind my sister-in-law.

Now, I was completely comfortable and self-actualized; accepting myself as the short, fat, slow and old runner that I am. The race would not be about my finishing time, but about the adventure and pride that my girls and I would share when it was all over.

After we got my number and T-shirt and failing to find the table of clearance items from previous years, we wandered out onto the Expo floor. I checked my watch and saw that it was just about 1:30. Jill, Heather and other Kicksters had met for lunch; I wondered if they’d be done and here someplace.

“We’re just leaving now,” Jill said when I called, “We’ll meet you in a few minutes”

We arranged a meeting place and wandered around for a bit, collecting what free goodies we could, which included small cowbells from a Saturn display and bright orange Thundersticks from ING [the only thing we bought was a pair of new lucky sox, courtesy of D’Wife]

Note: Of all the things I've received in my swag bag [posters, refrigerator magnets, samples of pasta and inedible 'energy bars'] and even surpassing the free flip-flops I got post-race in 2006; I've never gotten something as home-friendly and utilitarian as the Glade Plug-ins Scented LightShow PFunkMothership [a $30 value, I'm sure]. Yeah maybe I would have bought one, maybe, if I still lived in the Gayborhood; Now I just have to buy refills. Thanks SC Johnson - A Family Company.

Mariel soon proceeded to put the nasty noisemakers to work, which brought on some cerebral distress to her mom. I grabbed one of them, and a duel commenced.

Naturally, Jill arrived just as I was between a parry and a feint, distracting me enough that I was mortally struck.

A reminder came to me at that moment; something one of my friends told me, “When you see the girls again, just relax and be yourself.” Certainly, I am most myself when playing make-believe with my daughter.

Heather arrived shortly thereafter, hugs were given and introductions of the running partners for the next day. D’Wife re-joined us after a less that fruitful trip to the Magik Stik massage table.

Soon my analytical mind did some math: 2 runners, 2 running partners, my girls and me.

6 chix to one dude. I was far outnumbered. I needed to get myself out of there before the conversations turned to shoe-shopping, man-bashing and fruity drinks.

“We should get going soon if we want to get your helmet and still make it to church,” I offered.

“Where do you have to go for the helmet?” Jill asked.

“Our shop is in Hammonton,” I answered, “Down near us.”

“How far is that?”

I paused and tried to guess. I believe Jill gave me a look that said, “You really don’t measure anything, do you?” My poor record keeping is becoming both notorious and hilarious.

Goodbyes and Good Lucks were said and we moved on for the afternoon. The trip to the bike shop was postponed due to a sudden urge to nap from the passenger side.

We went to 4:30 Mass as planned [Father Tom’s sermon included references to both “Rudy” and “Saint Ralph”]. A fine dinner pasta’d me up. I loaded my bag for race day, drank plenty of water and went to bed early, all of us.

Tomorrow would be epic.

Part 2 >>>

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Watch The Canopy, Goose!"

Hey Bud,

Sorry for not getting back to you. I've been so busy it is crazy. I'm going to be out of town all week (at the National Sales Meeting in Florida)*. I have to leave tomorrow morning (Sunday) to help set up. I'm still planning on running next week ... but we'll see. I have NO training under my belt. I have a weird feeling that I may hurt myself doing it, but I think I can do it. I'll contact you late in the week when I return.

Call my cell if you need me. I'll have it with me all week.



Yeah, I can already tell; he’s not running. That’s cool. I’ll be flying solo – well as “solo” as a person can be with 16,000 other runners. Plus I’ll more than likely have D’Girls on the sideline; I’ll have some Kick friends on the course and some angels on my shoulders

Looking back at when Doe called me in February and we came up with the plan to run the Half in September as a training run for him, I had no idea what would unfold from there.

I’ve met a dozen or so really great people online [those names to your left]

We ran a wonderfully unique race at Midnight on a Summer evening.

I actually put my mind to a training schedule – well, as much of a schedule as a Zen Catholic surfer can devise [“Hmmm, what distance do I feel like running today, and where should I go?”]

I rediscovered my love for running and built Mileage Monster v2.0 … In a few days we’ll see how he works.

Thanks Doe and friends.

* As it turned out, after convincing himself the he WASN'T running, Doe drank his face off and was all bumped & bruised from jet- & water-skiing by the time he got back to the office Friday

That's my man!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Get in the Van

Yet another assault by my Kick friends; this time on the Granite State. An event called "Reach the Beach" - a 200 mile relay from White Mountains [Cannon Mountain] to whitecaps [Hampton Beach State Park (Hey! I have a Phish show from there! "Hampton Comes Alive!")]

Ooops!!! That was Hampton Roads, VA

Anyway ...

It seems like years ago when they all met up in Madison, WI near Memorial Day. I had only just begun to meet them and still hadn't figured out my own identity or place in the tribe.

Since then I've discovered that one aspect of my place is "T-Shirt Guy" after I created the Glo-Pokes shirts. I don't mind. I love to show off, and as much as they insisted on paying me, I really HATE billing my friends.

There are two teams of 10 running this event:

RTB Team Uno r3 y RTB Team Dos r3

[a special prize is available to the person who reveals where I fucked up the artwork]
"Contest is now closed, we have a winner; Thank You - Mgmt"

I was reasonably disconnected to the earlier meet-up [which was much grander and more highly promoted on the forums] but there was an odd feeling I had with this one. I wasn't going, no, yet due to it's proximity [and similiar mileage] to the Distance Run, some of us had trained together viturally for a while.

Just the other night I had an odd dream:
I was in a van [actually, it was an old station wagon] full of people I kinda knew; there was a boardwalk, getting lost and making up rhymes with the Seussifier.

It kinda looked like this ...

Then, I received two emails ...

One, from one friend who is up there as we speak, addressing my notorious lack of bookkeeping as far as mileage, pacing and even what days I take off. My holistic surfy-ness:

"this is the kinda race you should do ... you'd just run whatever they gave you, no questions, so wouldn't even notice ... 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?

I hate you. :P"

And another, from a friend of mine down I-95:
"You're thinking, 'Damn, I should be in that van.'"

Maybe next year a MD/DE/PA/NJ contingent will take on RTB ...

Get in the Van - TRAILER

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This Day

Seven years ago, I thought that I lost another cousin when I saw the South Tower fall. James worked at Bear Stearns. I didn't know he had transferred to the Los Angeles office when I saw it go down.

I still feel that drop in my tummy when I see the replays ...

Obi-Wan: I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Non-Montana Hanna

D'Wife had this weekend off for a change. We had originally planned to go to Cape May [our beach] for the day, but with bad weather approaching, shelved that idea in favor of a trip to the AC Outlets and lunch at Rainforest Cafe instead.

We weren't planning on leaving until just before noon, so I had time to do my Saturday 6½ as usual. I had fully anticipated waking up to either a driving rain, stiff wind, or some combination of the two. What did I get? No rain, no breeze, and air so thick you couldn't cut it with a chainsaw. I was fairly disappointed, but I did it, hoping with each step I'd feel that first drop. It didn't come ... The Applebee's Quesadilla Burger sitting in my tummy didn't help.

I need to remember:
"Rule #17: 'Watch out for jalapeƱos;' right between 'Go to bed early' and 'No beer until 9:00' It's the oldest rule in the book."

"That's 'AFTER 9:00', dork! And, if it's the oldest rule in the book; shouldn't it be Rule #1?"

Apparently it DID rain overnight as there were some puddles. Rain filled pine trees make excellent outdoor showers, when you can't find a sprinkler.

After cooling down, getting some Gatorade and changing out of my soggy running gear, I found out that the "warm Nor'easter" I expected, was 500 miles away up I-95.

D'Girls were clearly in no hurry, so we took our time leaving. I had the opportunity to set a benchmark of the precip we'd get; after a couple weeks of drought, the pond behind our house was dried out.

Pond - Noon

What we got over the next 24 hours would show up here.

We finally left around 12; the first sprinkles showed up on my windshield around 12:02. Stopping at Wawa, I txt'd a friend of mine updating the weather situation. In a "What Not to Wear" moment, I was promptly reminded what sizes I should shop for, and to keep my hands on the wheel.

We parked at Caesar's and decided to have lunch first, then shop ... a wise choice, since I was STARVING!!!

Inside the restaurant was pretty dark, like a rainforest should be, and above us, on the ceiling, they had a moonlit sky painted, complete with little lights for stars … every now and then a stream of them would flicker very quickly … Does wishing on LEDs count as much as a real shooting star?

Anyway ...

D'Wife got:
Blue Mountain Chicken Sandwich
A tender grilled chicken breast Cajun seasoned, topped with bacon, Swiss cheese, roasted red peppers and leaf lettuce. Served on a toasted bun with zesty Safari sauce and cole slaw [In true "When Harry Met Sally" fashion, she got the peppers on the side]

I ordered:
Rumble in the Jungle Turkey Wrap
Shaved turkey breast, Roma tomatoes, crisp bacon and Romaine lettuce tossed with Caesar dressing, wrapped in a tasty flour tortilla and served with cole slaw.

and, because it was rainy ...

Jungle Safari Soup
A journey for your tastebuds! Zucchini, tomatoes, sausage, garbanzo beans, kidney beans and spinach lightly stewed in a zesty broth with pasta and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.

D'Kid got Mac & Cheese ... oh, well.

We finshed our lunch and stepped out to the muggy and sprinkly [not downpourish] weather outside. The wind was pretty furious and was whipping the surf up ... naturally, the hardcore showed up ...

Hardcore Surfers
[there was a time, I'd had have been one of them]

We got downpoured on almost immediately after leaving the casino - who thought to bring an umbrella? Besides and umbrella is pretty useless with 25 knot winds; it would just get blown out anyway.

Okay, now we're wet ... we don't have to worry about getting wet anymore; kind of like that first scratch on the new car.

We went to Clarks, PacSun, Disney, Nike and Converse. D'Wife got a pair of shoes; D'Kid did some excellent shopping and got two shirts from the clearance rack at Disney [one $20 "Camp Rock" LS Tee marked down to $7.99 and a $15 "High School Musical" Tee marked down to $4.99]

I got to drive home in rain so hard it looked like snow - the last 10 miles from Hammonton were near "white-out" conditions.

Someone said, "Seems like it wasn't really worth the trip."

I disagree; I was all about the adventure of going down the shore, in a hurricane, just to shop. And in the end, not to get that much!

The ridiculousness of it, makes it so worthwhile.

When all was said and done, Sunday morning I woke to this:

Pond - After

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Temporarily - Anyway

Well, just while I finish my training for the Distance Run. After that, I'll be drinking some Pumpkin Ales and Oktoberfests.

Until then, and with my pint of DFH :60 done; the bar is closed*.

* Well, maybe just during the week ;)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Today's Special Guest

I usually take Monday's off from running ... originally [and again, now] it was to rest and recover from a long run on Sunday. Then it was just because I had no energy, a foul tummy and was too dehydrated from the neighborhood football gatherings to gather the strength to put in even a couple of miles on a Monday morning.

I woke up on Labor Day morning, after finishing a huge mileage-pounding August, with full intent of taking the day off. But as I posted in reply to one of my friends taking a rest day:

"Me too ... That being said, I'll probably do 3 or 4 later today."

Sure enough, sometime around 3PM, I couldn't keep myself still.

I put my running gear on, threw some cargo shorts over the bottoms, and told D'Kid, "This is what we're gonna do ... we still have to get you some school stuff. We're going to go up to the high school; if the track is open, we'll stop there on the way home after we get your stuff ... Otherwise we'll go to your school track for me to train. You can sit in the shade on the bleachers, and count my laps for me - if you want to. Either way, you'll need your mp3 player, a book to read and we'll bring Gatorade for me."

The track was, in fact, closed [unusual, but not surprising as there was construction being done]; so after our stop at WalMart, I parked Vicki VUE at the newly refinished school parking lot, and we proceeded to the shady haven of the bleachers.

I had no idea how long the track was and didn't really mind ... I did some stretching, set my timer for 45 minutes and began.

I did the first lap in 2:30 - a 1/4 mile at 9:00 pace would be 2:15, but it was hot and only one side of the track was shaded, so I was not going for any speed workout.

I stayed at that pace, whatever it was, and finished Lap #6 in 15:00, exactly.

D'Kid begged me to stop for a drink, so I did. There were a couple other families on the track now; kids practicing on their bikes, Moms and Dads just walking. Mariel greeted the ones she knew from school by name, she justs said "Hi" to the others with a great big smile and "... My Dad's training"

The next 30 minutes passed by easily and quickly as I kept an eye on my soon-to-be 3rd Grader.

It didn't occur to me until returned to the car, shed my soaked Dr-Fit muscle shirt, guzzled the end of the Gatorade and started back home, that she had NEVER seen me run.

Usually, I am just walking into the house afterwards, while she's having breakfast, if she's even awake.

As I shifted to leave the parking lot her little hand rested on mine, then another on my forearm.

"I'm really proud of you Dad. That couldn't have been easy; but you did it ..."

No, that's just the salt dripping in my eye; I'm not crying.