Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Deep Time

Deep time is the concept of geologic time first recognized in the 11th century by the Persian geologist and polymath, Avicenna (Ibn Sina, 973–1037, and the Chinese naturalist and polymath Shen Kuo (1031–1095). In Europe, the modern scientific concept was developed in the 1700s by Scottish geologist James Hutton (1726–1797).

An understanding of
geologic history and the concomitant history of life requires a comprehension of time which initially may be more than disconcerting. As mathematician John Playfair, one of Hutton's friends and colleagues in the Scottish Enlightenment, later remarked upon seeing the strata of the angular unconformity at Siccar Point with Hutton and James Hall in June 1788, "the mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time."

With the addition of a couple new Friends on Facebook, I now have a continuous string of acquaintances that runs from when I was about 5 and had recently moved to Connecticut, to the present. I have “curated” people from elementary school up there, to Middle and High School here in Jersey, my brief stay in College, Art School, bar life in Philly and most of my employment history.

Granted there are still some gaps, mostly in my memory or accounting of my timeline, but it still quite a stretch. Plus, I now finally have people that can corroborate some of my “tall tales”

The furthest down the line, I found after the oddest turn. I friended someone from Art School on Facebook and was looking at her friends list [in search of an ex-girlfriend, of course], when I saw a name I never thought I’d find. His first name is the same as mine and he had a very unusual last name, making for a unique combination. Yet, this person lived in California and my Art School friend was from Jenkintown then and now lived out by Allentown.

Two questions came to mind:
1) Is this the same person I knew from my kidhood?
2) How could they POSSIBLY know each other?

The first answer came pretty easily. I asked this person “Did you used to live in Connecticut? Did your Dad work at such-and-such? Did your parents play Bridge by any chance?”

Sure enough!!! Yes, yes and yes. Not only that but his mom and MY mom have the same first name as we do [a pair of Randy’s + a pair of Nancy’s]

Then we pieced Part Two together.

Apparently, his family moved to West Chester about the same time we moved here. As luck would have it, my friend Terri lived down the street from him. Fate took its course; she and I met in Art School.

Then there was ... well. I would say “Missing Link” as she’s not really a link to anything. Although, I did begin doing triathlons in the off chance I’d run into her some time.

Karen Smyers (born September 1, 1961 in Corry, Pennsylvania) is a triathlete from the United States, who won the inaugural women's triathlon at the 1995 Pan American Games in Mar del Plata (1995). She grew up in
Wethersfield, Connecticut, in an athletic family of seven children and one cousin that lived with them. She joined her older siblings on the town swim team at age eight.

Known for being an Ironman World Champion, Karen is also known for overcoming her setbacks.
- A bike accident leaving her with a broken collarbone.
- A collision with an 18-wheeler truck leaving her with broken ribs and multiple lung contusions.
- An accident with a storm window that severed her hamstring
- She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and survived
- Suffering a miscarriage and still being able to compete in the world championships three weeks later

I sent her a friend request on a whim, thinking that no “Legend” would possibly have the time or the interest in a BOPer like me. I was moderately shocked when she accepted. I was now in the company of
Scott Tinley, Chris McCormack, Greg Welch [another vertically-challenged retired triathlete LOL], Simon Lessing, Carol Montgomery ...

"I asked myself, 'Self? How did I get here?'

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yep ... THAT Danny Bonaduce

Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I am trying as hard as I can to catch up. To be honest with you, this isn't even a personal response. I mean, I am typing it and everything, but then I am going to cut and paste it (a skill I have recently learned) and send it to a couple hundred people. I'm sorry if I've missed any important questions or requests, but I'd rather get back to you this way than have you think I've forgotten about you. After all, I do work for you.

Thanks for listening to my show.

Your friend,

Danny Bonaduce

You see, I was just ON his show. Okay, just for a couple of seconds, anyway.

With the passing of Ken Ober [MTV’s “Remote Control”], Danny was talking about “famous last words. The first one to come to mind [naturally] was “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do” – Oscar Wilde.

Guess which one Danny says? BUT he can’t remember who said it.

I dialed.

The helper monkey [actually, a Gibbon in this case] picked up.

“Danny Bonaduce Show”
“Let Danny know it was Oscar Wilde, who said that”
“Hold on”

Hold on? I heard Danny talking on my phone mid-sentence.

“… Usually when I quote an Oscar, I can’t remember which one said it. Randy, go!”
“It was Oscar Wilde who said the ‘wallpaper’ thing”
“You know Oscar Wilde better than I do? Good man!!! Every read anything but Wilde?”

“’The Importance of Being Earnest’”
“Well done, man"

… and I was out.

Yeah, I was kinda taken by surprise and didn’t have my “A material” ... plus I might have been a little start-struck. Danny’s ALWAYS been a role-model to me:

5’6”? Check
Fake bass player? Check

… and so on.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

'Roid Rage???

There were a couple of domestic management mishaps around the house last week that were met with an unusual reaction, especially coming from me.

Never mind what they were exactly, but each would have normally sent me into a howling rage. You see, I’ve always had massive anger management issues. In fact, it was my temper, adrenalized might and unwillingness to back down from a fight, which prompted my best friend in high school to take up martial arts – his dad was tired of this little skatepunk going ape-shit on his kid and giving him a pretty good beating before he ran out of gas; usually over nothing significant.

Ken learned well, and has done alright for
himself in the years since.

Anyway …

So, instead of blowing my stack, flying off the handle, yelling, screaming, blaming and carrying on; I calmly said, “Well there’s nothing I can do about it right now. I’ll take care of it in the morning.”

What prompted this change in behavior???

I’d like to say that running has brought me a new, passive and reflective attitude, with less worries and strife; but that’s not it … at least I don’t think so.

It’s hormones … specifically, the LACK of hormones.

It occurred to me that we hadn’t had red meat in the house for about a month. I made a roast beef at the beginning of November, but that was the last time I could recall having anything beefy in quite some time.

If someone had told me “No red meat for a month” I would have naturally resisted. “You can’t tell ME what to eat and what NOT to!!!” Since the change was voluntary and apparently subconscious, I have no one to argue with.

I really don’t feel like arguing anyway.

I’m saying that I’m giving up cow for good either … just cutting way, WAY back. Besides, I would REALLY like to make this:

Beef and Barley Stew with Stout – from
Culinary Competitor

There are few things that take the edge off a cold winter training session like returning home to a bowl of hot beef stew with stout. This stew's primary carbohydrate sources are the yams and pearled barley. Yams are particularly high in vitamin C, and have respectable amounts of potassium and vitamin B6.

Stew beef is generally taken from less desirable cuts of meat--which here is a good thing. "Less desirable" cuts are often leaner, which in the case of a slow-cooked meal is a non-issue as the meat will be plenty tender and full of flavor. It is very important for athletes to maintain iron levels, especially during the winter months when training miles can be pretty big, and the occasional serving of red meat is a great way to do so.

I love to cook a double batch of this beef stew on a Friday night (then I can drink a few of the stouts that go into making it in the process....), and round up the boys after a big day on Saturday to eat all the leftovers. My stout of choice for this stew is
North Coast Brewery's Old Rasputin. Only sold in 4-packs (it is questionable as to whether any human being could even consume 6 Rasputins...), this beer redefines stout as most of us know it. If you can get your hands on some Old Rasputins--you will not be disappointed.

1 ¼ lb lean stew beef, trimmed and cut into one inch cubes
1 large yam, cubed
1 medium celery root, peeled and cubed
½ cup pearled barley
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T fresh ginger, minced
8 cups beef broth
12 oz stout beer
2 T flour
2 T olive oil
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t allspice
1/8 t cumin
salt and pepper

Makes 4 servings.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the cubed beef to the olive oil to brown and season with salt and pepper. Cook for eight to ten minutes, until browned on all sides, and remove with a slotted spoon, reserving juices. Set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, celery root, and ginger to the pot over a medium-low flame and cook for eight to ten minutes. Add the flour and stir to form a pasty consistency. Add the stout, bring to a low simmer, and cook for about eight minutes until reduced to about 1/3 the original volume. Add the cinnamon, allspice, and cumin; stirring to combine. Add the beef broth and barley, then return the browned beef to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Simmer covered for about one hour, then add the cubed yams and cook just until soft, about fifteen minutes.


Yeah, I could pass on the abstinence for a day [plus however long the leftovers (leftovers???) would last]

Monday, November 30, 2009

Alice's Restaurant Massacree Virtual 25K - Results

"I’m looking at 48 hours and change, if I go out first thing Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.

“I have a couple of five-mile routes I can use, plus a six-miler/10K and a pair of fours as well, just to keep it fun and not too repetitive. [All distances are appropriately approximate <wink>]”

That was The Plan, anyway.

D’Wife got her schedule changed so she would start early on Thanksgiving [7:30AM] to get out at 3:00, so getting out and back on Thursday morning was off, right from the get-go.

I took D’Kid out for a 45-minute bike ride around 2PM instead then finished making “a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat.”

Friday, D’Wife had her regular shift, so getting some miles in before she and D’Kid got up wasn’t going to be a problem. The sun was on its way up when I left the house at 6:45; it was odd not needing to wear a reflecto-vest or blinkie light on a morning run. I figured I had just enough time to do 5 miles before D'Girls started stirring. As usual, I didn’t decide which route I’d take when I left the house; I’d make that call further down the road – literally. After taking the climb past the cemetery, I trotted out to the end of the road. I was on the right-hand side already, so I turned right [yeah, that’s the kind of decision making I’m known for; I’ve also flipped a coin or done “evens-odds: even we go right / odd we go left.”

I’ve been running this particular route on Saturday afternoons lately, so I was kinda surprised by how many people had chickens in their yards, judging by the morning crowing of the roosters in that section of town.

I made an adjustment to my route on the section between the 3½- and 4-mile mark; there is a rise here as the road climbs past a swamp. There are guardrails on either side, but the left-hand is oddly cambered and has been giving me trouble, so I ran on the right. Unfortunately, this is the side with more road-kill [2 possums, a raccoon and a deer, to be exact]

I reached the top in time to see my friend pull into his driveway. I stopped for a minute or two to chat with Bingo Bob, who had just returned from WalMart. He didn’t say what deals he got, if any. I suspected he went just to point and laugh, that’s the kind of guy he is.

I finished my first five miles and got back in the house just before D’Wife came down for breakfast.

D’Wife went out with her friends Friday night, so in order to let her sleep in, I planned to do my next run in the afternoon, while she and D’Kid went shoe-shopping. I guessed they’d be out for about an hour and a half, giving me time to do 7 or 8 miles and still be have time to get us all ready for 4:30 Mass; leaving only 3½ or so to do Sunday, before she had to leave for work.

Very doable.

However …

When D’Kid’s friend from across the street invited her over for the afternoon, that left D’Wife without a shopping-buddy. Women can NOT shop alone, especially for shoes, for some reason.

I was conscripted to assist.

Actually, I didn’t mind all that much; it’s been a while since I’d been invited along, and it was kinda fun. The girl has Mad Coupon Skillz, too!!! It was amazing!!! They had to make up NEW codes just to accommodate her!!! Two pairs of Clarks for $127.

Unfortunately, that trip put me in a serious time pinch to get the 25K finished.My options were:

1] Get up super-early on Sunday – like 4:30AM – and do 10½ miles before D’Wife had to get up for work = not freaking likely

2a] Get up at reasonable hour – 5:30 – do 5 miles or so and hope to find / make time in the afternoon to do the other five

2b] Get up at reasonable hour, do 5 miles, ignore the deadline and do the other 5 before work on Monday. I’d be dead last and probably DQ’d but I wouldn’t DNF.

"How do you DNF a Virtual Comp?"
"You DON'T Finish it!!! DUH!!!"
"It's Virtual, Dumbass!!! Make something up!!! You're a pretty good writer; I'm sure you could make it sound convincing."
"YOU ... have NO sense of Honor. PLUS ... I've got this friend - Voo - checking my moves from The Other Side. I can't let him down in such a way."

Like Bruce Lee said: "To experience oneself honestly, not lying to oneself, and to express myself honestly, now that is very hard to do."

Either of the “5:30” options would be fine, and neither would put undue stress on either of D’Girls. Just me.

I woke up in normal fashion [without an alarm, even], long before dawn. The stars were bright and clear in the 31° air. Frost was all around, and my breath left a trail of tiny clouds behind me as I ran out to the lakes and farm country. In the interest of time, I did only 5½, turning around at the 2¾ mark, with the blessing of an owl “Whooo Who-Who-ing” somewhere in the woods. As cold as it was, there wasn’t any ice on the lakes yet, perhaps because the water was still pretty warm. The beauty of running in the pre-dawn cold, is that feeling of accomplishment you get when you’re finished and you notice that there’s steam coming off of you, as you cool down beneath the streetlights.

I now had only 5 more miles to do sometime after D’Kid’s Choir performance at 11:30 Mass, lunch, grocery shopping and starting dinner around 5:00 [yes, we went as a family at 5:30 Saturday, but Mariel still had Choir at 11:30; one can never spend too much time in church].

The afternoon had warmed up nicely by the time we were finished at ShopRite. Mariel was fully on board with the plan for the rest of the afternoon, as I had outlined on the ride home. If any of her neighborhood friends were around to play with, she’d hang out with them for about an hour while I went out on my own; if not, she would ride her bike beside me as I ran either pretty much the same out and back I had done in the morning, or – if she was too fussy about riding 5 miles – to her school track a mile from home, where I would do laps for 3 miles then jog back.

At about 3:15, she rolled out, and I followed. I didn’t have to prompt her to slow down or to speed up, even though this was truly only the second time she’d bike-paced me. I neglected to start my watch, as this was for fun and not time, but I suspect we got to my first checkpoint, in about my usual time.

I directed her to turn left when we got to the street her school was on, as I wanted to show her part of my morning routine.

“Dad, this feels like I’m riding to school” she said, which led us to chat about why I had joined PTA [to get some bike racks at Assumption] and what a shame it was that I wasn’t able to pull it off.

When we got to the Church I told her to follow me to the statue of the Blessed Mother that stands in front of the entrance.

“Every morning that I run this route,” I explained, “I stop and say at least one Hail Mary; more if needed.”

I stopped, crossed myself and before I could begin …

“I’m done, let’s go” my partner said.
“You pray fast!!!”
“Well, I started early” she admitted.

I gave her the choice of which path to take [down the street past her school, or the bike path which also functions as her school track, which was her choice] and we made our way past the public school, the township ball field and across the railroad tracks. It’s a gentle slope for the next ¾ mile down to the lakes, rising back up to the farms around the bend. Mariel stopped to look at the sheep and cows as I continued on for another 200 yards or so.

I had just reached my turnaround spot when a little voice called from behind …

“Dad!!! Stop!!! I have a flat tire!!!”

She had gotten a flat just two weeks ago, and was sensitive about getting another. She showed me were she thought the hole was, but I assured her that was exactly where I’d pulled the sliver of glass out.

“It’s time for us to head back anyway. I’ll keep an eye on it”

It wasn’t long before I noticed that her rear tire was, in fact, going soft. I had the foresight to replace her inner-tube with a self-sealing one, so it wouldn’t go completely flat; still, it was a little sketchy, and difficult to pedal up a steepish rise.

She had just managed to get to the stoplight when it changed to red.

Really???!!! Now you change???!!!” she admonished the signal. “I hate you, stoplight.”

We laughed and teased the signal for it's rudeness, selfishness and general bad behavior.

The rest of the run home was uneventful. The leak stabilized with the tire about half-inflated. She reiterated how she’d like to be able to ride her bike to school someday, and speculated where they might put bike racks if they are ever allowed to. With a quarter mile or so to go, Mariel informed me that she wouldn’t be racing me home, but I was free to sprint if I felt like it, once we were back in our development.

We got back to our house just as the sun dropped behind the treetops of the woods behind our house.

We stopped to talk with a neighbor then went in.

“You go get yourself a shower, right now, Mister!!!”
“Yes, ma’am. ... And thank you.”
“That was fun, Daddy. We should do that again next Sunday.”
“We’ll see, Punkin. We’ll see."

Total elapsed time: 57 hours or so
Total running time: 2 hours, maybe?

Monday, November 23, 2009

2nd Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Holiday Fat Ass

Posted in Kick:

Thanksgiving Virtual, Anyone?

OK who's up for the 2nd Annual KICKrunners Thanksgiving Weekend Holiday Virtual?

Last year's event featured the option of running a 25 (Holiday Half Ass) or 50K (The Full Fattie) event of your own design or choosing. Your run can be done any time over the long (Thurs - Sun) holiday weekend. Timing instructions to be posted at a later date.

Any & Everyone is welcome to participate ... it need not be a trail run or an extreme event and it doesn’t even have to be Thanksgiving in your country!!! Also note, you can take all weekend to complete your distance if you like - your run does not have to be done all at once.

Results will be posted by finish time. Last year we had interesting and fun competitions for Best Race Report and Best Photos. Winners were determined by forum voting. We can do that again if y'all want to!!!

More details if there is enough interest. Reply here if you would like to play or have any questions!


Have I mentioned how much I love Virtual Comps?
Once or twice? Well, let me reiterate and pardon the plagiarism [sponsored by Sleepy’s, by the way ;-)]

I like virtual comps for a bunch of reasons:

You can engage with people across the country, without travelling.
You don’t have to deal with pre- or post-race logistics.
You can run, ride or whatever, when it suits YOU.
They’re free!!!

I think I can find a way to get 15 miles done in 4 days. Knowing me, I’ll plan to run 10K-10K-5K but I’ll do something like 7 on the first day, then 4 the next, then 6 and fuck it all up!!! LOL

The rules are a little whacky, though; much different from the TurkeyMan Duathlon I did in ’06, in that transition times in this one ARE included <WAH!!!>


Run or walk 25 or 50k any time during the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend - Thursday through Sunday. That means you have 96 Hours to complete your race!!!

However ...

For result reporting, your start time is the time you 1st start running and your finish time is when you have run the full 25 or 50k. You can have breaks if you want but your Official Time will be the time between Start and Finish and includes the breaks if you have taken any. See examples below -

Example 1 - You start at 5.00 AM and you run till 9.00 AM and complete 35k. You are cold and hungry so you go home, take a shower, eat and watch the parade for couple hours. At 1.00 PM you continue your run. You run the remaining 15k and finish at 3.00 PM. Start Time = 5am / Finish Time = 3 PM. You have taken a total of 10 hours to run 50k, that is your result.

Example 2 - Your mother-in-law is coming to visit. You decide you want to spend as much time as possible with her so You start running immediately after breakfast (4:00 am) and run as fast as you can for 50K. You finish running at 8:00 AM. Your total time is 4 hours, that is your result. MIL is just getting up. It will be a loooong time ‘til the pies are served so you get some pancakes, bacon ‘n’ eggs and homefries fired up. Yum.

Example 3 - Gun went off at 9:00 AM Thursday for the Turkey Trot in yer hometown. It was a 5 miler and you aced it in 31:15 for a First in yer AG award ! You were so happy that, after a few beers and a 6 pack of tofu pups to celebrate, you ran all the way home which was 3 miles from the Finish Line! You spent the rest of the day waiting on your In-laws and their whiny kids and were exhausted so you took Friday off from running (wimp). Saturday you hit the trails at the crack of dawn. 12.5 miles of torturous single track in the snow took you 3.5 hours ! On Sunday you realize you signed up for the 50K not the 25 so now you've got to get your Fat Ass back out there for 10.5 more miles before midnight ! You go to your favorite park at noon and run around the golf course 6 times doing 7 minit miles and finish in 1:13:30 (man, you faaaast for a fat asss today). At 1:13:30 PM on Sunday you have finally completed all 50K. Your time issssssssssss .... 76:13:30 (3days, 4hrs and 13.5 minits), that is your result. Yer not the last ass in the barn but pretty darn close. Have another drumstick to celebrate then get busy writing up your RR for us.

Report the following details about your event:

1. The name of your event (if its not an official event then make one up) and the distance (50K or 25K)
2. Your time in [HH:MM] format..... DONT MAKE ME HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT!!!
3. A "Race Report" including a description of the course, weather conditions, company, outfit, playlist or anything else you want to share about your run.
4. Include pictures for the photo contes!!!


That all being said … I’m looking at 48 hours and change, if I go out first thing Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.

I have a couple of five-mile routes I can use, plus a six-miler/10K and a pair of fours as well, just to keep it fun and not too repetitive. [All distances are appropriately approximate <wink>]

Friday, November 20, 2009

License to Ride

Nurse Kelly asked me: “What do you think about having to register your bike in Philly? I can't imagine having to have a license to ride.”

When I was a kid, both in Connecticut and in Haddonfield, it was always “suggested” during Safety Week that we register our bicycles with our local PD. It was free, and the idea was that with our bikes registered, if one was stolen and recovered [somehow] we could prove that it was ours and it would be returned. It was actually kinda cute; we received little metal license plate that we hung from our banana seats, give use an ever more biker-gangish appearance … put some baseball cards in the spokes and vroom-vroom!!! Hide your daughters!!!

Naturally, the first reaction is “Oh, The City wants to make money from the cyclists” Since cyclists don’t use parking facilities or pay gasoline tax, there isn’t much of a revenue stream directly from the riders [paying outrageous taxes on a 6-pack of take-out PBR to the LCB, notwithstanding]

Philly is trying SO HARD to become a major
bike-friendly city. They just opened East-West bike lanes in Center City. This could be ½ a step backwards as [quoted from here]

1) [Licensing] creates yet another barrier to cycling in a system which has been historically built to exclude cyclists, and
2) It is completely unnecessary, due to the fact that cyclists can (and are) routinely pulled over and cited by the police for vehicle code violations already. You don’t need a license to get a ticket for running a stoplight. And you still have to pay the fine regardless of whether you’re on four wheels or two.

Thirdly … do they really expect messengers and messenger poseurs [who are part-time anarchists, anyway] to get in line for their little metal plates?

As for the rules and regulations/fines proposed?

Kenney, meantime, will propose increasing the fines for riding bicycles on the sidewalks. The current fine is $10. Kenney wants it to be $300. He also wants the current $3 fine for wearing headphones while on a bicycle to also increase to $300.

I’m fine with that [pun not intended]. Bikes DON’T belong on sidewalks, unless you’re a 6 year-old and you have training wheels, or you are walking it [into a building or to lock-it up someplace.] Wearing headphones while riding ANYWHERE is stupid, unless you’re out in the Pines all alone on a Saturday morning and you don’t have traffic to be concerned with. When I lived in Philly and rode everywhere I couldn’t walk to, I was always in the street and 100% aware. Much like in my blog post “
Riding with Sharks” cabs, delivery trucks, SEPTA buses, tourists, all pose different threats out there and you have to have your head on a swivel at all times; eyes and ears open. That’s not to say I didn’t grab the back of a SEPTA bus on occasion, to get up Market Street quickly, but … I kinda knew what I was doing. Even at MM, I rode my bike in the street to meet up with The Glo-Pokes, then hopped on the bike path to ride along to the finish line. AND I had my helmet and proper lighting [next year, I’ll have my Team Tania blinkies, too!!!]

If they DO put these fines in place, I’d suggest one for “salmoning” too … that is, riding AGAINST traffic. You asked me about this once or twice [why we run facing traffic, but ride with traffic]; and the bottom line is that bicycles are “vehicles” and are subject to the same rules of the road as cars. The physics involved, though, from the difference between getting rear-ended by a car vs. a head-on collision, don’t really matter. It’s STILL gonna hurt like a b!tch.

Especially, if you've taken you front brake off, just to be all cool and hipster-ish.

These things are cyclical [again, pun not intended]. Every now and then the same thing percolates in NYC, Chicago, DC and so on. It usually goes away on its own. In the meantime, follow the Philly story as it unfolds, here:

Philadelphia Bicycle Insurrection

Thursday, November 19, 2009

That Hat!!!

In February, 1999, D'Wife and I travelled to St. Thomas, USVI, with singularity of purpose: to have a great Caribbean vacation and - God willing - to come back with an extra special souvenir.

Aside from packing the charts, vitamins, herbals and thermometers, I packed something very special.

'If this expedition works,' I said to myself, 'Whatever I bring will be my talisman in the Delivery Room.'

You know how superstitious I am; it had to be just right. It had to be something I could keep by me or on me at almost all times ["one never knows the hour" so to speak]

I was in the habit of wearing a baseball cap in my off hours; that would work - being a fair-skinned individual as it is, I'd need one anyway.

Many options were weighted , but I/we settled on this one:


Well designed, Buffett-ish in the seaplane look, plus local to Jersey.

So ... Who wears it better?

st thomas 1999

Happy 10th Birthday, our little souvenir.

- yeah, same shirt, too!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Disclosure Statements

A friend of mine and I were discussing our plans for a Half Marathon in April, and some other racing shenanigans when she asked me:

“I'm confused....I thought one of the beefs you had with all the obsessive ones was about training vs. just running for the sake of running? Why the sudden interest in racing? I thought you just liked to run for running's sake and didn't worry about times and such? It seems sort of contradictory that as soon as you cut yourself loose from hanging with them, all your talk has been of races and stuff like that, yet while you were there, your big point was ‘I just go out and run 5 miles cuz I wanna.’ ???”

I hadn’t realized that … I guess I’m more goal-focused than I admit, even to myself? I’ll need to examine that.

I think the thing I had with them was that, even though I would pick a race and set up a schedule and all; I often deviated from it, because I was having a good day and couldn’t just stop at 5 or 6 or whatever it said; I was really bad at taking days off too. It wasn’t RACING I had a beef with … Remember, in January I had a schedule of 7 races I planned to do this year, PLUS the MS150; I did two – Broad Street and Midnight Madness [and I didn’t even count MM as a race, just something Beaker and I did last year, and will do again and again, as long as they have it, I’m sure]. It was the people who said “I had a horrible day, and want to forget it ever happened,” because they missed their goal time by 5 or 10 minutes” People who let a clock determine whether they had a good day or not.

As far as LVHM, we’re talking long, long ahead; just to give me a star to sail by, as it were. When it’s all said and done, I probably won’t do any of them anyway; but I see your point. Instead of being content to try to get a Speed Limit sign to say “Your Speed is: 10 MPH” and silly little things like that …

ARGH!!! Introspection gives me a headache!!!

“So maybe you really don't WANT to race and you really DO just want to run however many miles you want to that day, and not take off or take off at will? To me, that sounds like someone who just loves to run. Nothing wrong with that at all. Did you do races before you found a running site to hang on?

“You don't seem to need a race to motivate you to run like some of them do. Again, proof positive is your poor track record adhering to training programs. Even the posts I've read speak more to your joy of running and the things you see, smell, experience than the whole ‘I did this in this amount of time today, boo-yah me’ crap.”

Oh good … I thought I’d uncovered myself as a fraud LOL

I ran for nearly four years [I started June 1, 1982], before I entered my first race. When I lived in Haddonfield I would do 5- and 10Ks at Cooper River Park and couldn’t understand how I was racing at 6-6:30 minute pace, when I was training at only 8 or so … Turned out that my 6-mile loop I was running in about 48 minutes was actually 8 miles LOL

See! I was screwed from the get-go!!!

D’Wife claims I raced every weekend when we met in 1988 … My scrapbook proves otherwise [yeah, I have a scrapbook; two in fact – 4” binders filled with bibs and programs and results booklets (With my name highlighted <wink>)]. Even then though, my training was formless. I never read a book, bought “Runner’s World” and “Triathlete” JUST for the pictures. I had friends at work at Campbell’s that ran, and some people in Philly/The Gayborhood, but I never trained with anyone.

I joined CR back in 2002, when I started working at Lockheed and had reliable Internet access. By that time though, I had quit running [not completely but, jogging 3 miles once or twice a month shouldn’t count as “maintaining a running career”] for about 2 years after one of those “I had a horrible day, and want to forget it ever happened” events at PDR in 2000. Slowly I started to ramp back up; the “Beer” threads on CR are an important archive I think, you can see me coming back to it. I started this blog in 2005, with the intent to burn off the “400 Beers” I had put on. My first coach, Annabelle, got me out on the road, to run with her at Broad Street in 2006. Being slow, [her CR/KR name is LaTortuga] she INSISTED that I train NO FASTER than 9:00/mile.

We finished in 1:38 – 8 10-minute miles and 2 9’s. That was my v2.0 reboot. 2007 PDR was 2:33.

I didn’t race in 2007, but pledged my full support to help D’Wife do City to Shore that year [she did the 50-mile tour, from Hammonton to Ocean City]

Last year, Doe announced he was going to do the 2009 Disney Marathon; I suggested we do the Distance Run [I couldn’t do Broad Street last year, because that was Mariel’s First Communion weekend]. Somehow I found myself on Kick, then 30s, then meeting Beaker& Co at Midnight Madness. I finished the year with a 2:08 PDR [1:36 at 10-miles]

That’s my story … Now go have a beer. You earned it.

“Ahhh....I see. Hmm. An anomaly you are, young Jedi.”

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Shut Up and Train!!!

I had a dream last night I was running a 5K with Lance. I stayed with him for the first mile, in 6:59.52

Those were the days.

Of course, like every other race dream, I got lost and … well, thing kinda went downhill from there. At least in THIS one, I actually started on time!!!

It got me thinking …

Which would be a bigger challenge? Which has a greater chance of success?

a] Getting my average training pace below 8:00 per mile [currently ~8:30]
2] Getting my "Posts per Day" on Kickrunners below 18.00 [currently 18.12]

Getting my training pace down, would involve hills and speed work. Getting my PpD down, would involve staying off Kick [or at least being quieter] for a while.

My friend QuixoticNotions [don’t ask – I don’t know what that means, either] or QN, wondered if there even was a correlation? She’s a speedy little chatterbox, with a 1:40:50 Half marathon PR [and dropping] and a 3:28 BQ in her sights [Boston Marathon Qualifying Time]. Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom, she’s on Kick quite often, except for feeding breaks and training runs; currently maintaining at a rate of 2-dozen posts per day.

The key to success will be for me to “Shut Up and Train!” [as Disco Bob says, so eloquently]

Don’t chat about what you’re going to do, but to “Just …” well … everyone knows the rest. If I have a particularly notable workout, I’ll ping whoever would be most interested via email or FB. I’ll stay out of those non-Karmically-positive places full of mean spirited gossip and idle chit-chat; the ones that are Cesspools of Flame Warfare. Nope, I’ll visit just happy places on Kick, and sparingly at that.

That covers “Shut Up”

The “Train” part should come pretty easily.

“Hills are speedwork in disguise.” Frank Shorter (American Olympic champion)

I’ve got plenty of THOSE handy; there’s
a nice one right behind my house.

I’ll take it easy on myself, and not give myself a deadline … consider it an open-ended commitment.

Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted, so to speak.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Dia de Los Muertos

October 31, 2009
Festival 8
Indio, California

Set 1: Sample In A Jar, The Divided Sky, Lawn Boy, Kill Devil Falls, Bathtub Gin, The Squirming Coil, Runaway Jim, Possum, Run Like An Antelope

Set 2: Rocks Off, Rip This Joint, Shake Your Hips, Casino Boogie, Tumbling Dice, Sweet Virginia, Torn & Frayed, Sweet Black Angel, Loving Cup, Happy, Turd On The Run, Ventilator Blues, I Just Want To See His Face, Let It Loose, All Down The Line, Stop Breaking Down, Shine A Light, Soul Survivor

Set 3: Backwards Down The Number Line, Fluffhead, Story of the Ghost, When The Circus Comes, You Enjoy Myself

Encore: Suzie Greenberg

Notes: Phish played "Exile On Main Street" in its entirety for the second set featuring Sharon Jones, David Guy, Tony Jarvis, David Smith & Saundra Williams. Those musicians also joined the band for the encore


I’ve always wanted to celebrate my birthday in Mexico. They know how to do it right, with just the right mix of Catholic reverence and outrageous spookiness. Where else are kids treated to Sugar Skulls and papier-mâché skeleton dolls?

I’ve actually been to Indio. My brother-in-law, Max, used to live in Bermuda Dunes, near Palm Springs. He took us to the most authentico taqueria I’d ever been to; north of the border, that is.

El Mexicali Café, is literally across the tracks from Max’s condo, maybe four miles away. It was here that I my first REAL Mexican beer – Corona doesn’t count. Max was a Bohemia fan, especially with any kind of Mexican food. We sat at a linoleum table, with a handful of locals. It was hard to tell who were family, who were friends, and who were staff; as someone who was sitting at a table digging into a plate of chile rellenos just a moment ago, could just as easily be in the kitchen the next.

As one testimonial says on guestbook: “If you are looking for authentic Mexican food here in the desert, whether you’re a local or in from out of town this is the place.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


How to Deal With Localism at Surf Spots [or on ... well, you know]

Unfortunately, localism plagues many of the world's best surf spots. Understanding what it is and why it exists can help you avoid any unnecessary trouble.

Avoid surfing new breaks alone, especially if it is a popular break.

I wandered in, following someone with a dubious reputation. I was in an unfamiliar place, with in familiar characters. Fortunately, I was “sponsored” by someone with more concrete connections. When the former was ostracized, the latter took me under her wing. That bought me some air-cover, as she was “untouchable”

Realize that localism is a result of overcrowding. Therefore, the more crowded a break is, the more tension there is likely to be in the water. Because locals feel at home at the break and feel invaded by unfamiliar faces, they sometimes react in a negative manner to newcomers.

Especially if they have a couple years of history together; you are the FNG until the next FNG comes by

Realize also that surfing is a traveling sport, and nobody is meant to surf only those waves closest to home. You have just as much right to surf a wave at someone else's local break as that person has to surf the waves near your house.

Eventually, you’re going to get invited to a “meet-up” which is cool, because you get to actually see and touch and interact people who were previously 1s and 0s; heaven forbid you can’t make it though; or you miss a connection. Midnight Madness was my “debut” and worked out very well. Thankfully, I made some strong friendships that will carry on past this crisis

Watch the other surfers. If only a few people seem to be taking most of the waves, those people are most likely locals, familiar with the wave.

Simply: Beware Chatterboxes; they will steer the conversation as they see fit

Mark the surfers who seem like troublemakers and egomaniacs. These surfers usually make a lot of noise, bitching about the crowd or pouting about their wave. They usually talk loud to other locals to let non-locals know how "in" they are.

Give these arrogant surfers a little extra space. Don't drop in on their wave or paddle around them for the peak. Wait for them to take a wave, and then move to the peak position.

Plus above, needs no further comment

Be respectful, and concentrate on your surfing.

Remain calm if someone tries to come at you with irrational anger. Apologize if you did something wrong, but don't be a coward. Explain that you are only interested in surfing.

As I said, I gave total respect for those who trained with their calendars, schedules, gadgets and coaches, and so on. I even mocked myself as being a goofball, Zen-Core dork and NEVER tried to change anyone’s mind about how to train, what to strive for, how to challenge oneself … I do what works for me, and would never say to someone “I’m a purist! I run for fun! You’re missing the point!” If you know me, you know that I will duck, dodge, dive and bend, to avoid conflict. I am bamboo.

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” - Bruce Lee

Take your next wave in, and call it a day if the vibe in the water begins to feel overly hostile.

“I’m outta here” Their loss. I will still keep in touch with those closest to me, but not there. That beach is spoiled.

No problem for me. I think I found someplace more deserving my attention

misfits flag r3a copy

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Namaste and Aloha

(CNN) -- Legendary wrestling figure Captain Lou Albano, perhaps best known for his association with pop singer Cyndi Lauper, died Wednesday, according to World Wrestling Entertainment.

Albano, 76, was "one of the company's most popular and charismatic legends," the company said in a statement.

I posted on Facebook “Regardless of the weather tomorrow morning, I am gonna wear a Hawaiian shirt in honor of Capt. Lou Albano”

Yeah, so I ran 4 miles this morning in a Hawaiian shirt. Cold and windy, but no rain; the extra layer was welcome, believe me.

D: "What time did you get up?"

R: "Early"
D: "Did you run?"
R: "Yep"
D: "In that stupid Hawaiian shirt? For your Facebook friends?"
R: "Yep, but I wore my long sleeve skull shirt underneath"
D: "Why?"
R: "Because it was cold and windy"
D: "I mean why did you do the Captain Lou thing?"
R: "Because I said I would"
D: "You're an idiot"

That goes without saying. I’m also someone who gives himself little challenges like that, to keep the fun in running. Plus, if I promise my friends I'm gonna do something silly like that? I damn well go through with it.

I don’t do marathons; I’m long past chasing PRs [well, v1.0 ones, anyway … I have v2.0 ones I could take down a little bit, given the opportunity]. I get up and do my run. No schedule, no plan, no goal race … essentially, for no reason at all, other than “What else am I gonna do at 5:15AM?”

This tags me as somewhat of a freak on the boards. “If you’re not gonna push yourself to do your best - to put on a bib and compete - why even bother to run at all?”

Some things are more subjective than that, I guess. My morning run sets me up for the rest of the day; and if I do my three or four five miles a little quicker than the day before, that’s great. If not? I’m cool with that, too.

Just getting out there and having fun, is what it is for me.

Of late, eople have taken my laid-back training philosophy to mean that I mock them for their schedules and plans and calendars and gadgets and what not.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have a great deal of respect for those who use those in their training; I’m just self-actualized enough to know that I lack the discipline to make them function for me. As for the gadgets [Garmins, HRMs, and so on]? The simple truth is that I can’t afford them and really have no use. Of course, I kinda wish I had a treadmill, so I could prove to D’Wife that I DO have some common sense, and I'm not just a silly little surfer, running around outside in the wind, the cold, and the rain.

Perhaps they felt that my lack of “documentation” and “running just for fun” implied that I considered MYSELF elite; that I imagined myself as some sort of running purist? Not at all, really. I’m just a dry-docked surfer who found a sustainable metaphor to going out at dawn for a few waves to clear my head at the start of the day; no judges, no scores, no awards. Just me, the road [such as it is], the dawn and the woodland creatures; together and alone at the same time.

Sure, I have the itch to race, to compete, to prove myself in a way the others can identify with; but I’ll do it why and where the time is right for me. No pressure. Again, if I should do better than last time, that’s great. If not? I’m cool with that, too.

I’m not gonna let my Zen get rattled over it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Fun with Electronics

Chilly, chilly, chilly yesterday morning, but so beautiful, with a crystal clear sky and a lopsided smirky moon looking down on me as I trotted past the cemetery for an easy 4 mile loop, my Team Tania blinky flashing away [my newest lucky charm/talisman]

I noticed on my way to work that sometime between my run and my drive in, the local law enforcement had put one of those "Your Speed Is ..." signs on the street I use ...

I wondered:

a) If I'm a large enough target for it to see me? [5'6" and 140lbs? Not a whole lot to work with]

2) If it will accurately record my speed? [Is there a minimum?]

iii) Could I get it to say "10 MPH?" [I could hit a 6:00 pace for a hundred yards or so, if needed]


The sign is about 8/10s of a mile out. My plan was to run past, just see if it worked, then continue on my 4-mile loop, before making my "speed run" then finishing up.

I was a little concerned that it only said "Buckle Up" as I approached. About 30 yards away however, it woke up ... "7 MPH" just as my friend Gator Bob had experienced, running past one of those himself.

Yeah, I wasn't gonna wait. I hit the throttle and pushed it up to "8 MPH" then "9 MPH" ... ... "10 MPH" ... As I speeded past I think I saw it "go to 11" for just a brief second.

"Well, that wasn't so tough" I sighed. Back in my mind, I guess, I had imagined I'd come up on the radar sooner [literally!] and would have required a longer sustained sprint.

Oh well.

I continued onward to finish my 4-miles in a gentle sprinkle of warmish rain.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

2009 MS150 - City to Shore

Yeah, sorry about that, but when I got it all written up - with the usual attention to detail that ya'll expect - it came out to be 24 freaking MS Word pages.

If you REALLY wanna read it ... You know where to find me. I'll get it to you.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Forget Everything You Think You Know

While we were getting ready to meet Beaker and Nurse Kelly for lunch after grabbing our Official Team Tania jerseys from Captain Stacey, D’Kid asked, “Dad, can we skateboard today?”

She is a bike rider primarily, as we all know and doesn’t usually skateboard. Even when I’m goofing around in front of the house, she never asks, “Can I try?” I don’t think she’s 100% comfortable on it. For some reason, though, she thought today would be a good day to change that.

After we got home from meeting the crew, she got changed and clicked on the Disney Channel, as is her habit. “No, no, no!” I argued and proceeded to find some college football [Y’know, to see when Michigan would be playing and if they’d be televised]

As luck would have it, the
Dew Tour was on NBC. They were playing the Skate Vert portion. We watched for a few rounds. Mariel decided that Pierre-Luc Gagnon [or “PLG”] is way better than Tony Hawk.

At the break, she moved to action. “Okay dad, lets go.”

We got her safety’d up [helmet, knee and elbow pads] scooped up my board, and headed out to the sidewalk.

“Before we do anything,” I told her “Forget everything you think you know about skateboarding. Forget that you’ve ever tried to ride before, okay?” In a moment of enlightenment, I suspected what the cause of her discomfort may have been.

I had her stand with her feet together; then [from behind] I gave her a little shove. She instinctively stepped with her left foot to maintain her balance

“A-HA!!!” I proclaimed “We’ve been teaching you backwards. You’re not Goofy like me, after all!”

Once we got that straightened out, once and for all, it was only a matter of time [and baby-steps] to have her glide with me towing her, then just holding her hand, then unassisted. Once she was comfortable with “steering” we proceeded to teaching her how to kick/push.

Within two hours, we progressed from fear and frustration to “Let’s show Mom!!!” and “You’re an awesome teacher, Dad”

Just like teaching someone to ride a bike, it’s really hard to explain something that is second-nature to you.

But we succeeded.

“A teacher must never impose this student to fit his favourite pattern; a good teacher functions as a pointer, exposing his student's vulnerability (and) causing him to explore both internally and finally integrating himself with his being.” – Bruce Lee


In much the same way, I had to “forget everything you think you know about fruit beer” when D’Wife brought home a bottle of Melbourn Brothers Cherry. My experience to date with fruit beer has been mostly light and fizzy [Raspberry Wheats from all over, Harpoon’s Raspberry Hefeweizen, Long Trail BlackBeary Wheat, Magic Hat #9 (apricot)] with the exception of Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic and Coney Island Freaktoberfest – which may or may not have had fruit in it, but is certainly was pink!!! In a word … Girly.

However, when I opened this bottle a rich cherry aroma came up to me. Not fake cherry either, like in Life Savers or Tootsie Pops, but the real deal. Sweet, but mostly sour, this fruit beer isn’t for cheerleaders, it’s not even for quarterbacks; it’s for hockey or rugby players. It’s for someone who doesn’t mind getting a little rough from time to time. I wouldn’t drink it all day, by any means, but it’s a nice treat.

Well worth forgetting what you think you know.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Extended vacation, perhaps, but NOT permanent

“I tried to register for the Philly Half in Nov. It's sold out. So is the full. Got to reg for the 8K NOW before that sells out.”

Semi-facetiously I replied:

“Really? Cool!!! I get the weekend off and save a few bucks. Plus, I can quit training completely, at least for the Fall; maybe by Spring I might even give up running altogether, like I did before!!!”

“That is the bestest news!!! Thanks, Lori

I say “semi-“ facetiously, because, as much as I talk a good game about just getting up in the morning and doing my miles, mindlessly and with a plan or goal; without have something to look forward to, I can get pretty complacent. By the same token, I thoroughly enjoy those morning runs, out in the dark, quiet solitude; the moments of Zen I find along the way, like glittering beads among the gravel at the side of the road. After rediscovering the joy [and therapy] that running brings me, the sense of accomplishment to get up before the dawn and “Just …” well, you know how that goes [and I can’t afford to pay NIKE, so I’ll just let you fill in the blank there]

Anyway, I’m not going to let this running thing slip away. Yeah, I’ll probably take the rest of the month off to focus on training for the MS150 City to Shore that I’m doing with D’Wife; but, when I turn the calendar over to October, I’ll have the Ben Franklin Bridge Challenge in my sights.

A rematch with Doe and The King? Perhaps a new rivalry from Disco Bob? [a long-lost friend from college, I recently reconnected with through Facebook] A chance to drop my time from last year? [note, I'm not saying "PR" ... that's runner-speak]

Bring on The Autumn

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tornado Warning

I'll run in the rain. I'll run in the wind. I'll even run in a thunderstorm [if it starts after I've left the house].

But when I wake up, put on The Weather Channel to check the temperature and decide what length of sleeve I'm going to get soaked in, and see "Tornado Warning?"

That, my friends, is a just little bit outside of my comfort zone.

I apologize if I let anyone down.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

In These Tough Economic Times ...

The Pressure's OFF!!! … Not that I was feeling any, by any means. Training has been pretty good, although the long runs could have been a bit longer. Speed is picking up a little bit, too [ran 25:12 for my middle 3 miles of this past Sunday’s 8]

That being said; ITTET, throwing down the $$$ for the registration, when D’Wife’s just starting to get us caught up on the bills after being out of work all summer, is kinda selfish. Especially this month, with D’Kid’s tuition being added to the mix.

I’m taking PDR off my race calendar, backing down my running to maintenance mode [5 on weekdays and 8 or so on Sundays] and concentrating on bike training for the MS150 City to Shore on October 3. If our schedule works out, we’ll come over to cheerlead on Sept 20, but I won’t be putting on a number. WAH!!!

PS: The Ben Franklin Bridge 10K on Nov 1 and Philly Half on Nov 22 are still a go [“are still go’s???”] just gotta find a place for D'Kid, as D'Wife will be working Sundays at that point.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Words of Wisdom


8 miles this morning in a continuous and torrential downpour. Alone.

D'Wife was talking to one of our church friends just now, who told her, "I saw Rudy running in the rain this morning ... The street was pretty flooded, but he didn't seem to mind. I think he was actually smiling ... He's nuts, you know?"

Nah, I'm hardcore.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Midnight Madness 2009

This year’s edition of Midnight Madness would not be the “World’s Colliding” affair of 2008. The worlds collided, bonded and stayed bonded. D’Wife and Beaker maintain a wonderfully sisterly friendship, that brings plenty of fun and laughs to both households.

After canning a vote on whether to do front a relay team, the Glo-Pokes reassembled – without Doe, though. The King registered as my wingman in his stead, to make sure I wasn’t the only XY on the team, just barely beating the deadline … yeah, due to the popularity of last year’s event, they capped the field for MM at 500; still 100 more than ran last year.

There would be no T-shirts this year, although we kept the Glo-Pokes moniker in correspondence; read: Trash-Talk. The King fell right in the groove, alternating between promising to run my ass off and vowing to escort the girls’ asses to the finish, following at a discrete and visually advantageous distance.

Training across the Late-Spring / Early-Summer gap following Broad Street and beginning my 9-week PDR schedule brought a full year of running to a close. May 31, 2008 to June 1, 2009 saw me with 1,018 miles in my log book. The first time I legitimately ran 1,000 miles in a year.

Coming into the last few weeks before The Madness however, trouble loomed. Nurse Kelly was having knee problems; Beaker, her hip. I was fine, except for trying to find time for both long training rides for MS150 and long runs to get ready for the 8.4 miles loop around Fairmount Park … in the dark, on possibly very hot and muggy night.

And then The King went silent.

Emails that should have prompted slanderous replies went unanswered. Opportunities to flirt online with Beaker, Nurse Kelly, Jen O or the Mighty Daisy were passed up.

“As I suspected, The King is out ... Looks like I'll be using my back-up strategy ... ‘Hang with my girls'"

Beaker had a more brilliant solution, to the wingless problem.

“You need to find some fast ponytail to chase then hop on your bike and come out and find us. Honestly, we will be too slow for your liking I am sure but you can ride along side us and keep us entertained for the last few miles.”

Hmmmm … I could put a light on Pinky.

“Randy DO IT! How stinking funny would that be? And you know it would make the 20in24 people out on the course smile! Who are you asking? Last year there were a bunch of bikes out on the road. Also I think the Mighty Daisy needs to not run it (foot injury) and is planning to bike along instead!!!”

Well maybe not Pinky [she's tough on the quads, as one can imagine] but I could bring one ... I got on the email and asked someone at BOMF if it would be cool.

It was.

“Hi Randy,

“Good luck in your race this weekend! Please check in at the volunteer tent in front of Lloyd Hall before you take your bike out on the course. How long do you think you will be riding around for?”

“I’ll run the race in about 1:20 or so and then I’ll find the rest of my group and bring them in. They finished pretty much last, last year, at about 2-2:15AM.”

“Ok great!

“If you could just keep an eye out for runners in help while you are out there that would be great!

“Good Luck tomorrow!”

On the way home from work Friday afternoon, I stopped at the Dollar Store and picked up a supply of glowy things; bracelets and necklaces. I figured that I could weave them among Merle’s spokes, or loop them around the axles. That would make for a nice light show.

‘I dunno dude. Do you really want to attract that much attention to yourself? You might be the only bike rider taking it to that extreme’

Um, when you’re riding your bike around Fairmount Park at 2AM, you ABSOLUTELY want to attract as MUCH attention as you can!!!


I tried to keep myself as calm and hydrated as possible Saturday afternoon. Much like my Midnight Bingo Days, I would take a nap after dinner, get up around 10:15 and leave around 10:30. I’d get to Philly in plenty of time to glow-up my bike and meet Beaker and the Glo-Pokes

That was the plan, anyway.

I couldn’t get to sleep; I pretty much just laid there in the dark for 2½ hours. At least my body was rested; my mind kinda shut off. too. I just never fell 100% asleep.

I had packed my gear up [helmet, lock, post-run sweatshirt (in case it got chilly)] into the well-travelled backpack and put Merle in the car earlier, so all I had to do was get out of bed, brush my teeth, put my racing clothes on and go. I did so pretty quickly and left at “my birthday o’clock” … 10:31.

I txt’d Beaker, who said she was still waiting for Nurse Kelly.

Windows down, warm summer air blowing around the cabin, Vicki VUE and I flew up to 295 and The Ben. However, as I approached Cooper Hospital, the traffic came to a standstill. I called Beaker immediately and left a voicemail telling her to take The Walt, if she hadn’t gotten here yet. It turned out, she was ahead of me.

Five minutes passed, then ten. Beaker got through the tolls about 11:20. I was still waiting. Twenty minutes. 11:40. I’m panicked. I called Beaker again to see if traffic ON the bridge was just as bad.

“Nope, once you’re through the tolls you’re fine”
“Maybe you should check me in just in case”
“Will do, buddy!”

I cruised over the bridge but my heart was still racing. Then, another bottleneck, this time exiting the Vine St. Expressway onto 22nd Street. I asked Beaker where she parked, but decided “Fuck it. I don’t have time to shop around.”

I used my best bike-messenger driving skills to put Vicki in the lot at Eakins Oval. There would be no time to “glow-up” Merle, however. Such is life.

I zipped around The Art Museum and to Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row as fast as I could. Fortunately, no ultrmarathoners were injured in my haste. I found the first sturdy tree [which happened to be half-encircled by trashbags I could and locked up, just as the runners were starting into “The Start Spangled Banner”

Beaker, anticipating the appearance of a short, frazzled cyclist, quickly spotted me and came to my aid. We shared a very brief welcoming hug and, as the starting gun went off, she sent me on my way to find The Mighty Daisy, who had my swag bag with my number and stuff.

Well, sort of.

Swag bag she had, with my t-shirt, coupons, race entries and a new water bottle, but no number.

I tried to be as cool as I could and weighed my options:

1) I could bandit the race and run without a number, but without a number I couldn’t check my gear bag. Daisy offered to carry my backpack with her, but that would have been too much of a burden. I am, above all, a gentleman.
2) Bag the race altogether, and just ride with Beaker and Nurse Kelly. No way would Beaker let me do that, nor could I let myself do that.
3) Let’s find the check-in table and get a replacement number. I’m already starting late, what’s a few more minutes? It’s just math!!!

At the Check-In Table we discovered the cause of the error … I hadn’t actually been checked in. Lori told me later that she gave “The Dude Behind the Table” my name and he handed her a bag; that was it. The situation was rectified, as I legitimately checked-in, received my number, and another swag bag [and t-shirt]. We went inside and upstairs where my bag was tagged and checked. For whatever reason, I thought it was more important to carry my bike keys with me in the race than my car keys? We exited Lloyd Hall and I started on my way.

About ten minutes after everyone else.

I hadn’t gone very far down the bike path before a cute volunteer on a MTB came up beside me.

“You need to find some fast ponytail to chase …” came back to me.

“Could you do me a huge favor?” I asked her, “I started about ten minutes late. Could you pace me up to my friends?”
“Sure, no problem. How fast do you want to go?”

Without any idea how far ahead Beaker and Nurse Kelly were, nor what pace my adrenalized legs were moving, I simply said, “This is good” and held my position next to her.

‘What do you know?’ I said to myself, ‘Yet another race we arrived too late to stretch for’

The cyclist and I chitted & chatted for a few moments. We passed a pair of women moving in our direction; the very back of the pack.

I had successfully avoided two of a runner’s three Worst Case Scenarios.

DNS – Did Not Start
DFL – Dead Fucking Last

The third [DNF – Did Not Finish] had no chance of happening.

It wasn’t long before I saw Beaker’s goofy glasses blinking ahead of me at about a mile and a quarter. I had caught two of the three Glo-Pokes running the course ahead of me. I said “Aloha and Mahalo” to my Pace Mistress. I put on the brakes to walk a bit with my friends, walking themselves due to Kelly’s wonky knee.

“Hey there,” Beaker greeted me, “How far back did you start?”
“I dunno … eight, nine, ten minutes?”
“Um, dude, it’s only 12:19. You ran a mile and a quarter in 9:00? You need to get going. You need a PR on this course!!!”
“Babe,” I huffed, suddenly even more winded than before I knew my approximate pace, “I don’t need anything here. [laugh] Just let me rest a bit with y’all. I’ll be on my way soon.”

After Beaker told me how to recognize Jen O [“She’s taller than me” doesn’t sound like much to go on, but when that puts her in the 6-foot range … Well, you’re not gonna see many like her in a running race], I gave her a hug and moved on.

There wasn’t much of a gap between the girls I just left and the next pack of “ponytails” … or between those and the next. It seemed to me, for a moment, that this might have been a women’s only event. Nope, eventually I did pass a dude; a big hulking one at that, then a few more interspersed among larger groups of women.

I caught Jen O at about the 2-mile marker. She had been running a steady 12-minute mile. Doing the math hurt my head. Again, I slowed my pace to keep near my Glo-Poke teammate, for a few minutes anyway. We didn’t even talk about running, but about our bike ride in October for MS.

Again, I said farewell to my teammate and trotted away … The next I’d see them would be as I brought them into the finish. I was leading the Glo-Pokes, and I intended to make them proud of me and themselves.

Between the frustration of the traffic jam, the anxiety of being late, and the rush of racing, I was in total cotton-mouth mode when I pulled up to the first water stop. I downed one cup, then half of another. My lips were so dry, that I believe I may have split one a little bit, as I tasted the tell-tale copper flavor as I swallowed.

Racing in the darkness, I had no idea of how far I had gone. Even with the mile-marker signs [facing the wrong way, half a mile off and counting backwards], it seemed no time at all before I came upon the lights of Falls River and the Bridge thereof. Last year we got to this point in about an hour; this year, I made it there a little before 12:40. Far different strategy from ’08; the goal then was to finish as a team. This year, I was told to race it.

I crossed the bridge easily and bombed down the slope on the other side … The slope which, going the opposite direction when running the Distance Run, is a critical gut-check … If you can run up this rise and over the bridge, you’re doing great.

The BOMF people advertised that there would be more and better light on the course this year versus last year. That may have been true. Coming off the bridge the path looked a bit brighter than last year. There were a lot more volunteers on very well lit bikes around. All in all, though, miles 4, 5 and 6 were just as dark as last year, with part of the route near Strawberry Mansion as black as any ocean under a moonless sky.

I did my best back here to keep near larger, well-self-lit groups. That I had to slow my pace up a little, didn’t bother me at all; I’d rather be safe than speedy. It’s amazing how much people gossip when they’re on a run, too. I got some great over-listening done: tales of grown-up birthday parties gone awry; mismanaged investments; office romances and intrigue. It was a shame I couldn’t hang out with them and learn all the juicy bits.

I was on a mission though and the sooner I finished, the sooner I could be back out on the course with Merle and my teammates.

Passing under the Girard Avenue Bridge, the course brightened up again, considerably. The Schuylkill Expressway runs a lot closer to the river from that point on, and provides a lot more ambient light. More light, meant I could run faster again, and not worry about falling on uneven pavement [I saw a couple glowing figures hit the deck back there in the blackness]

I passed the dam and waterfall that cross the river from the WaterWorks, and caught up to a very chic bike volunteer, wearing black and tan houndstooth capris, a pale yellow short sleeved blouse, and an olive cycling cap [the actual colors may have been altered due to the yellow-orange cast of the mercury-vapor streetlights, but everything tied together quite well] I noticed that she had a computer on her handlebars, and I inquired about the pace of the group she was escorting.

“About a 10-minute mile” she informed me.
“That’s nice” I replied, “Well … good luck” I offered and continued on, at right about the spot where Doe and I inadvertently dropped Moe and Solar last year.

I picked up the pace, but had to back down suddenly, as I was roadblocked by a heavy-set dude huffing down the sidewalk across the Spring Garden Bridge back to the Art Museum. I could have gotten around him easily enough, but to do so, I would have had to run in the street facing traffic at nearly 1:30 in the morning.

No, I could go slow for a few hundred yards, no problem.

As the sidewalk widened at the bottom of the rise approaching Eakins Oval, I dropped the hammer and my obstacle. I chugged up the only real tough uphill on the course, past the Rocky Steps [no, I didn’t even consider running up; that’s for tourists] and around the bend heading back down behind the Museum and back to Boathouse Row.

I caught the last two “ponytails” of the night with somewhere between a half and a quarter mile to go. I didn’t know how many people I’d passed [I figured maybe eighty to hundred] but I didn’t have the heart to pick these two girls off with just a little bit to go. They were moving at a pretty good clip, so I tucked in behind them and followed their lead to the finish.

The race clock said 1:29; my watch said 1:27AM. Discounting my handicap, I had come in pretty close to the 1:20 I had predicted. Not bad.

I took the medal I was offered [yeah, only ONE this time], a bottle of water and hurried up to the baggage check. I just happened to see that The Mighty Daisy was walking her bike around the area in front of the hall. I said hello, gave a very brief report [“One thirty or so, but I started about ten minutes late”] and hurried up the steps to Baggage Claim. I easily spotted my blue backpack and directed the volunteer to it.

I rushed back to the trashbag guarded tree. I pulled my cargo shorts out of the bag and threw them on. I slapped my helmet on my head and buckled up. I unlocked Merle, tossed the lock in the bag and hopped on. I nearly splattered another rider as I turned my headlight on and moved onto the course to find my friends.

Almost as soon I accelerated to “Search” mode, I spied Jen O making the turn just past the Rocky Steps. I said hello and curled around behind her.

“Jen, this is Merle” I introduced her as I took position to her right.
“Hi Merle,” she giggled, “Merle’s old school. Very nice.”
“Merle’s ‘$20 at the Berlin Mart’ school” I informed her, kinda proud of my partner’s lack of pedigree.

We chatted for a few minutes as she approached the bright lights of the finish. Once Jen crossed the line, I redirected her to Daisy and handed her off to her care. I said “Aloha” and pedaled back out to bring the two remaining Glo-Pokes home.

I zipped past the police cruiser monitoring the road to the Museum Parking lot and rode out MLK Drive. I will, admit it brought back fond memories.

Beaker and Nurse Kelly were walking at about the 6½ mile mark when I found them. They also remarked how the 2nd half of the course seemed darker than last year, but that we were so fortunate that the weather was 100% better than ’08.

We chatted about nothing and everything that came to mind for the next half hour or so, with me riding the brakes or circling back if we got too far apart. Beaker feared that the two women behind them had gotten a ride to the finish and that they, would in fact, be DFL. I told them not to worry, as I hadn’t seen anyone brought past me to the finish, in neither a van nor an ambulance.

Even with her wonky knee bothering her, Nurse Kelly stepped up the pace to a quick jog for the final few hundred yards to the finish.

“Sell it girl” I told her, “Make it look good”

2009 Midnight Madness Results

247 1:29:38 Rudy Martinez
350 1:47:14 Jen O
384 2:20:13 Beaker
385 2:20:34 Nurse Kelly

And NO … you WEREN’T DFL girls!!! There were 388 runners!!! That meant I passed 141 of them. If I’d started on time, and run that same pace, I might have finished 140 from the top, instead of 140 from the bottom.

Oh well … better luck next year … If I’m not in China.

We hung out together for pictures and story-telling until about 3AM.

Midnight Madness 01

Midnight Madness 02

Hugs were passed around and we all departed. I packed Merle back into Vicki, changed into a long-sleeve T-shirt and headed back to Jersey. I did NOT stop for spring rolls like I did last year.

Crossing the Ben, I noticed a pale orange slice of the rising moon. I txt’d Beaker to bring it to her attention.

I was so jazzed that I didn’t get to bed until 4:30AM. I still managed to wake up at 9:30 for church

Good night and good day.