Category Archives: 1/2 marathon

Race Report

13:22. That’s how many minutes FASTER I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run on Sunday over my previous ½ marathon, which was back in the Spring.  And just between you and me, the 13:22 shaved off my time means I set a personal record for speed on Sunday.  So congratulations to me!

They call Philadelphia The City of Brotherly Love.  I don’t know about the brotherly part except to say my brother is here visiting on his vacation from where he lives kind of far away and he ran the Philadelphia Distance Run yesterday too.  So I was in Philadelphia with my brother if that counts.  And I think it counts because he volunteered to drive us there in the first place.

Now the love part, I get that.  Because having set my personal best ½ marathon time ever in that city, I love Philadelphia now too!!!
 
But let’s back up a bit, shall we?

It took us a little longer to get to Philly than we had anticipated because somewhere along the way we hit some serious traffic that appeared, like traffic often does, out of nowhere and for no good reason.  The closest hint we got for the traffic being so heavy was when we finally, after about an hour, inched our way 15 miles up the road and saw one lone police car at the side of the highway and everyone slowing down to look at it.  I guess maybe it was a novelty, like some strange and beautiful bird you might want to watch, or like some sort of dangerous animal you’d creep slowly and silently by, hoping not to attract it’s attention so that it won’t jump out and attack you write you a ticket.

After we arrived in Philly we debated which to undertake first: should we check into our hotel or go to the race expo to pick up our race packets?  We attempted the first and got a little lost, so we settled on the second.  The lost part wasn’t our fault though.  I attribute it to the map that came in the mail as part of our final set of race instructions.  The map showed our hotel on 8th street, only it wasn’t on 8th, it was on 4th street.  I suspect that in the interest of space and saving paper, the map maker simply ended the map at 8th street and stuck little hotel dots along the edges to indicate that they were “near” the borders of the page and if only you drove around and around in ever increasing circles you’d eventually find your way and be so relived to have finally done so that you wouldn’t dare complain or blog about it to the world. 

And yet, I also suspect the map maker didn’t attend all of his  requisite cartography courses during college because a little thing called scale would have helped immensely and also, the map maker didn’t count on a geographer (ahem, that’s me) trying to follow the map worthless piece of paper.

Now, in case you aren’t a runner or a person who likes to hang out at race expos, I’ll tell you that the expos are place where you go the day or two before the actual race to pick up your race packet which includes your race bib (no it’s not a bib for eating, it’s simply a sheet with a number on it that you pin to your shirt so they can identify you as runner number some-thetty-something), your timing chip, your free race t-shirt, and other goodies.  Then there are vendors who set up booths to try and sell you stuff: running shoes and shorts, socks, energy bars, hats, sunglasses, key chains, spinal adjustments, muscle creams, etc…  You get lots of free handouts from the vendors too, like band aids and safety pins, notepads and tote bags, packs of oatmeal, and energy drinks.

I enjoy wandering around the expos and collecting all the free goodies and then parting with some of my money when I see something I really need.  Like the pink running shirt I bought that says, on the front: This seemed like a good idea 3 months ago, and on the back: Race Official, Do Not Pass.  It’s a lovely shirt but none of the other racers seemed to heed the warning on the back because plenty of them were passing me right on by during the actual event on Sunday.  Personally, I think they just didn’t know how to read.

After we collected our race packets and parted with some hard earned cash at the expo, my brother and I waited in line to check into our hotel.  While there we witnessed a hotel employee standing guard over an adolescent boy in a wet t-shirt and wet shorts and the hotel employee was saying something to the boy’s mother about two chairs and a life preserver.  I was enthralled by the scene but before I could learn any more I was called to the front desk to get my room key.

My hotel room had 3 pillows on the bed and a small card with “pillow menu” printed on it, describing the varieties of pillow firmness that were available depending on how you liked to sleep: on your side, on your back, or even both ways, like a flopping fish.  I played Goldilocks and tried all three pillows before picking my favorite and falling into a deep slumber.

And then it happened.  I had a nightmare!  I woke with a start at 4:00 a.m., having dreamt that we had already run the ½ marathon but that I hadn’t gotten my finisher’s medal because they weren’t giving them to you for crossing the finish line.  Rather, I dreamt they were passing them out down a dark alley near the entrance to a different hotel.  Only I hadn’t known that and so I didn’t venture down that alley and didn’t get my hard earned medal.  I tried to go back to sleep because technically, I had one hour until my alarm was set to go off, but I was rattled, my heart was pounding, and sleep didn’t come easy.

In the darkness that is 5:00 a.m. in mid-September, my brother and I debated driving to the race start or taking a cab.  Driving would mean getting the car out of the hotel’s parking garage and finding a garage closer to the race start where we would probably have to fork over an additional $20 in parking fees, so we decided on a cab.

When we stepped outside the hotel door we were accosted by a woman demanding to know how we were getting to the race.  And in case you are wondering how she knew that’s where we were headed, well, it’s a pretty easy guess when you have a large race number pinned to your shirt.  We told her we were going to take a cab and she asked if we’d like to share a cab with her.  Of course we said yes because the more people in a cab, the less any one person’s fare will be if you split the cost, right?  That’s what sharing a cab means, right?  Share a cab = split the cost.  Well, that’s what I thought it meant, but apparently I was wrong.

The cab fare came to $9.60.  I had two five dollar bills at the ready.  The man in the front seat who at the last minute decided to share the cab along with us, actually turned to us in the back and said, after the cab driver announced his dues, “Can you guys spot me a couple of dollars?” as if we would ever find him again in the crowd of 12,000 runners.  As if he ever really inteded to pay us back.  The woman who had the bright idea to share the cab in the first place had a whopping $2 at the ready.  Sensing this wasn’t going to be an even split, I handed the cab drive all of  my $10 and the woman handed me her $2 and said, “No that’s for YOU, not the cab driver!” and she stepped out of the cab.  I thought about this for a split second.  My $10 left the cab driver with a tip of $0.40.  I felt that was inadequate even for the short ride.  So when big spender lady wasn’t looking I handed her $2 over to the cab driver and told him “Here, here’s $2 more for your tip.  Thanks for the ride!”  And he said thank you and  waited for me to exit the cab before driving off.

As we got in line for the race, I spotted two of the women I’d spent much of my summer training with.  I inched my way over to them and asked if they were running together for part of the race.  Usually people train together and then on race day it’s “everyone runs their own race” meaning if, during the race, you have to stop and tie your shoe, your friends run on.  They don’t stop with you. Likewise, if your running mate falls and breaks an ankle during the race, you wish them well and continue on.  It sounds harsh, but honestly, an ambulance will come along and pick your friend up so they’ll be okay. You know, eventually.  Like once the cast comes off and they’re finished with physical therapy and all that.

My training partners, however, said they were running together the whole way and I was free to join them.  Since my brother had predicted a faster finishing time than I had, he was positioned closer to the starting line of the race and I was alone back in the crowd.  I thought it would be nice to have some company along the way so I eagerly agreed to run with my old training pals.  We ran together until mile 8 or so where my friends pulled over to grab some Gu (an energy gel that many runners like but which I can’t stomach) and I kept going.  I figured they’d meet up with me again so I kept trucking trudging along.  With only 1/10th of a mile to go, my friends caught up with me and we ran it in. 

I collected my race medal, dug out my cell phone, called my brother to find out where he was in the sea of race finishers, and then called my husband to tell him I’d finished the race with a pretty good time.  Then my brother and I, not ones to be lazy after all that running, walked the 2 miles back to our hotel so we could shower and change before heading home.

And there you have it, my race report. 

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Filed under 1/2 marathon, freeloaders, life, Philadelphia, running, taxicab, traffic

The Bionic Woman

I’m off to the races this weekend. A foot race, that is.  A ½ marathon.  I’ve been training for it all summer long and it’s finally here.   This isn’t my first ½ marathon, and it’s not even my second.  I’ve done a few of them by now.  My race this Sunday will be my second one this year and the one I’m running in October will be my third, again, for this year.  But I’m not bragging, I swear.  Bragging would be if I wore my finisher’s medal around my neck when I go to work on Monday.  I won’t do that.  Although… I might pass it around for people to look at.

While I’ve put in a lot a lot of time running this past year, I haven’t lost a single pound.  In fact, somehow I’ve piled on all the pounds the rest of the world has lost.  I’m some kind of pound magnet.  Or maybe it’s all the chocolate I’ve been eating.  Yeah, I suppose that could be it…

Or maybe it’s the chocolate combined with the fact that I’ve somehow managed to excuse myself from other forms of exercise on my days off from running.  Yes, I am one those people who take days off from running.  And not just when I’m sick.  Some runners, I know, would say that I’m not a real runner if I take days off.  I could argue the point but I won’t.  I want to save my energy for this weekend. 

I used to run an average of about 6 miles a day.  Then I started getting some aches and pains and tired and bored, so I backed off a bit.  Okay… a lot.  Now I run 3 days a week.  Two short runs of oh, three to five miles say, and one long run on the weekends.  On the intervening days I should be doing some other form of exercise, cross training by walking or cycling, or even lifting weights, but I’ve gotten LAZY.  That probably explains some of these extra pounds, too. 

Despite my slothfulness, I want you all to know that I am still strong.  Oh yes, I am.  These arms may have flab hanging from them but they are powerful.  Bionic powerful, I tell you. In fact, I may be the reason they have a remake of The Bionic Woman coming out on TV this fall.  I know that when you think about The Bionic Woman you are most likely remembering the days of Lindsay Wagner and her portrayal of Jaime Sommers, but I’m pretty sure it’s because of me and the feat of strength I pulled off the several days ago that they are bringing the series back.

Last week there was a fire right outside of the parking garage that charges me $150.00 dollars too much per month to park my car there while I work.  I didn’t actually witness the fire when it was in full blaze, but I came upon the aftermath, the burnt remains, when I made my way to the garage to retrieve my car and go home.
 
To enter the garage and get to your car you have to wave your parking ticket or monthly pass card in front of a magnetic card reader machine affixed to the brick façade of the parking garage.  The machine then sends a signal to a lock on the door.  You listen for a click and then pull the handle, open the door, and walk inside to the elevator.

On the day of the fire I walked up to find the card reader machine, which is made of metal and plastic, all sagging like the clocks in an M.C. Escher drawing.  It looked, well, melted.  I looked up and noticed that the awning above the door was half missing and the other half was hanging in tattered melted strips of nylon, like a shredded shower curtain.  The glass around the door was cracked, the street was covered in ash 2 inches deep, and black streaks ran along the sidewalk.

I thought it was odd, that it looked as if a fire had blown by, but that seemed impossible.  My office is right across the street.  If there had been a fire surely I would have heard the fire trucks, seen the flames. 

Since there was a man at the door with his hand already on the door handle, I passed the card reader machine without waving my parking pass at it.  Another woman walked up, and the man gave one good strong yank, and the door, despite its magnetic lock, popped open.  I remarked that it looked like there had been a fire and the man said there had been one.  A generator mounted on a truck that was parked right alongside the garage entry had caught fire around noon he said.  The flames, he told us, could be seen for several blocks.  Somehow I had missed all of this. 

But I learned my lesson.  The card reader machine, all melted as it was, wasn’t working properly so it wasn’t going to open the door for me anymore.  The following day, as I approached the door, the cracked glass had been repaired but the card reader was still sagging, the awning still missing.  I had two choices.  I could turn around walk down the street and around the corner then up the ramp that the cars use to enter and exit the garage, or I could yank on that door handle with all my might and pop the lock.  I chose the latter.

As I grabbed the handle, a woman standing nearby said to me, “You can’t get in that way, it’s locked.  You’ll have to go…” and I looked her in the eye, put my hand on the door handle, and yanked.  With an audible snap, the door popped open.  The woman’s eyes grew large, she took a few steps back, staring at me in shock and surprise, and I think, a little bit of fear. 

I hope my legs are bionic at the race this weekend!

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Filed under 1/2 marathon, bionic woman, exercise, fire, humor, life, running

This is Me

This is me, before the start of marathon training season back about 3 months ago, talking to Kathy, the training coordinator for my running “club”:

“Kathy, I think I’m going to sign up to run with the group again this year.  But I am not going to show up for the speed test because I’m busy that day so just put me with one of the 9 to 10 minute per mile ½ marathon groups.  I don’t think I want to bother with the marathon this year since I’m still recovering from the injury I suffered last year on that 19 mile training run…”

This is me, again talking to the training coordinator, on the day I finally showed up and ran with the group for the first time this season, about 2 ½ months ago…

“Kathy, that group you put me with was too slow! I want to run with a faster group.  I know you said that “you can never run too slow on a long run” but that was painfully slow.  I could walk faster than that and,  In fact! I want to run the marathon now after all, so put me in a faster group and make sure it’s one that’s training for a marathon.”

This is me after running with the faster marathon group:

Pant, pant, pant… “Don’t you guys want to slow down some?  We still have a long way to go…”

This is me, talking to the coordinator AGAIN, about 1 month ago after one of the runs with the faster group in which I spent the entire run mentally cursing everyone for running too fast:

“Kathy, next week I think I want to try running with a slightly slower group.  My calves have been  cramping and my knee is hurting again so I’ve decided to give a slower a group a try, like you’ve been suggesting.  I know it won’t make any difference in how my legs are feeling but just to humor you, I’ll try it.”

This is me, reporting back to Kathy after running with the slower group:

“Kathy, guess what?!  My calves didn’t cramp and my knee didn’t hurt after that run.  I don’t really think it had anything to do with the slower pace.  It could be the fried chicken I had for dinner last night or possibly these new shorts, but just in case, I’ll stick with this group for the next couple of weeks, anyway…”

Note that I had to balance my plate of crow carefully so I wouldn’t drop it and be left with nothing to eat (because in case you didn’t know, you have to eat something to refuel immediately after a long run).

This is me after last Saturday’s run:

Ouch!  What is wrong with my calf?  It’s never hurt in THAT spot before.  This is somewhat troubling…  Ouch!  There goes my knee again.  What is up with me?!  Ouch!  My foot hurts too…

This is me last Monday, less than a week ago, after looking at the schedule for the run we were supposed to do today:

FIFTEEN MILES?!  I don’t feel like running 15 miles.  It’s too hot out!  My calf’s been hurting!  My knee is hurting again.  And my foot is hurting!  What’s up with my stupid body anyway?  Why am I doing this to myself? I am totally stressing out over this marathon. Maybe I won’t even bother to go running on Saturday. I have no motivation left for this anymore.  Aha!  And look at that, I won’t even be in town when the group runs 17 miles.  Well, I am NOT making up a 17 mile run by myself.  No way, no how!  I know…. I’ll drop back to the ½ marathon training group!  I only signed up for the marathon because I got all cocky last year and then I got hurt. I don’t even want to do it this year…

This is me at 4:07 a.m. this morning, a mere 8 minutes before my alarm was set to go off:

Wha?  Why am I awake?  I mean, I am AWAKE!  I was thinking of skipping today’s run if I was tired when the alarm went off, but I’m awake.  No way will I be able to fall back to sleep now.  I guess I’ll get dressed and at least show up.  Maybe I’ll turn around and go home after saying good morning to everyone and telling them I’m quitting.

This is Kathy, the training coordinator at 6:00 a.m. this morning as she panics because the ½ marathon group leaders aren’t there to lead their group.

“Okay, you, you, and you will start with Belle’s marathon group but TURN AROUND at mile marker 6 and come back here.  This parking lot is a ½ mile from the start, so if you run to 6 and turn around that will give you 11 miles today.  Don’t keep running with the marathon group or you’ll do 15 miles and you could injure yourselves!  Oh…”.  Sigh…Sigh… Wring hands together….  “Make sure you turn around.  At the 6 mile mark, okay?  Does anyone have a watch?  Do you know where you need to go?  Make sure you turn around…”

Me again, because Kathy is panicking and because I don’t want to run 15 miles anyway but I don’t really want to come out and admit that I’m stepping back down again because crow tastes pretty terrible:

“Kathy, I’ll turn around with the ½ marathoners and bring them back here!  You know, out of the goodness of my heart and all…”

This is Kathy:

“Oh, great!  That would be great!  You’ve done this before.  You’re familiar with the route.  That would be wonderful!  Thank you!  Okay, Belle will turn around with you guys so make sure you turn around at mile marker 6 and follow Belle.”

Important note:  The trail is flat and straight with woods on one side and a stream on the other side.  There are NO turns offs, no way to get confused and head off onto some errant path.  The ½ marathoners have run this trail many times, only not as far as mile 6.  Maybe, however, as far as mile 5 ½.  But apparently Kathy thinks they can’t find their way out of a paper bag back to the parking lot.

This is me this evening, after a couple of cans of Diet Coke, two Advils, and a long afternoon nap:

Whew!  That was great!  I ran 11 miles, and I feel fine!  I don’t have to suffer through excruciating long runs in this heat for the rest of the summer.  I can still walk without limping!  My foot doesn’t hurt.  My calves didn’t cramp.  My knee doesn’t hurt…  I wonder if I could have made it through 15 miles… 

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Filed under 1/2 marathon, humor, marathon, marathon training, meme, running

Banana Phone

Dear Brother,

Happy Birthday!  I sent you a birthday card in the mail.  When it arrives, you might have to pay the post office 2 cents because all I had on hand were the old 39 cent stamps.  I promise you though, if you can dig 2 cents out of your sofa cushions, and fork it over to the post maser, it will totally be worth it because the card is HILARIOUS!  Hallmark’s got some funny people working for them.

I was going to call you and wish you a Happy Birthday in person, until I remembered your phone isn’t working.  When are you going to get that fixed, anyway?  The ½ marathon we ran together was back in April, for goodness sake.  That race was a lot of fun wasn’t it?

It was really unfortunate though, what happened to your cell phone during the race.  I mean, who would have thought that when you put your cell phone in your jacket pocket, and you put that banana in the same pocket with the phone, that so much trouble would come of it all?

Looking back, I guess you realize now that it wasn’t wise to tie your jacket around your waist when the temperatures started to rise.  Doing so meant that the jacket pockets, instead of being in a normal pocket position, were left hanging down near your calves.  I guess on a normal afternoon it might have been fine, but with all that running, it caused the jacket to swing and the pocket with the phone and the banana in it to bang against your calf reapeatedly.  REPEATEDLY!  Which caused the banana to smack into your cell phone over and over and over again.  AND OVER AGAIN.  For 13.1 miles!

Did you know that elite runners take on average 180 steps per minute when they are running?  It was rather obvious after seeing your finishing time that you aren’t an elite runner.  So maybe you took an average of 160 steps per minute during the race.  Divided by 2, (because we’re only going to count one leg in this) that means the pocket was hitting your calf, and the banana inside the pocket, was smashing into your cell phone roughly 80 or so times a minute.  Multiply that by the 171 minutes it took you to complete the race, and you have a recipe for cell phone disaster!  I mean, that was bound to tear open the banana peel, smash the banana to a pulp, and grind it into all the cracks and crevices on your phone.  Well, of course you know that now, don’t you?

Are you still picking out bits of banana from around the buttons on your phone?  And how about the USB port?  I know you said for a while there that the port was so full of banana that it actually thought the phone was connected to the computer.   I actually thought that was kind of funny.  In fact, I think the only way you could have ended up with MORE banana smashed into your phone would have been if we had baked it into a banana cream pie. 

The bobby pin I gave you was too fat to fit into the teeny crevices on your phone.  Did you try a sewing needle like mom suggested?  You might be able to pick out more of the banana with one of those.  Just be careful not to prick your finger with it.  I’m sure you don’t want drops of blood mixed in with all that banana mess. Do you?

I tried, just on the off chance that it might work, actually calling you from a real banana, but Chiquita doesn’t have enough cell phone towers in my area.  They may have more down your way.

Well, if you haven’t fixed your phone yet, you might consider getting a landline for your house.  Or, if you continue to insist on ONLY having a cell phone, you might buy one of those new iPhones.  I haven’t seen one up close and personal yet, but I did read a story about a test somebody did.  They put a set of keys and an iPhone in the same pocket and walked around all day.  The glass on the iPhone didn’t even get scratched.  And from what I can tell from the photos I’ve seen, the iPhone doesn’t appear to have any buttons, so that would be far less crevices to pick banana out of should you ever make such a dumb mistake again.  In fact, you might be able to just WIPE the banana off the phone, in one swipe.  Failing that, the key test I mentioned at least suggests you could scrape the banana off with a knife or something, and the glass would probably still be okay.

The only downfall I see, should you get an iPhone, is that you’d have to change over to AT&T.  Chiquita’s calling network, as far as I know, doesn’t support iPhones.

Happy Birthday from Your loving sister,
Belle

P.S.  It’s my friend Russ’s birthday today too! 

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Filed under 1/2 marathon, bananas, birthday, brother, cell phone, Chiquita, friends, humor, iPhone, phone, running