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.