one small regret

It was a great weekend. Unfortunately NOW I have my appetite back and I think of the tragedy of the missed meals with my fellow runners Frank, Steve, Bryan, Dan and Lisa. Also Frank’s wife Kathleen and Steve’s wife Caren who were so kind to a very beaten up runner (me). Ah Saturday night in downtown Clark’s Summit at the Italian restaurant and all I could eat was a side of ziti and lots of bread…are you kidding? And Sunday lunch at a great looking Mexican joint and I just stared at my Taco soup. The horror. Give me another chance and boy would I do my restaurant mates proud. But alas. The run was probably the best run I ever did (btw trust the taper). I wanted to do even splits the whole way. I didn’t but I wanted to. Target time was 3:40 and not a second over that to qualify for Boston. At 13.1 miles I was at 1:45 which is…hmmm…oh yea 3:30 for a full. I felt good but knew I would give some of that time back on the back half with the hills. Sure enough I started fading a bit by mile 16. That’s where the mental games kick in. “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and ” pain is temporary” and “just do it” and thinking about all the training that I’ve done with Frank, Steve, and Bryan. Head games man. Started fading but fighting it. Finally made the right hand turn onto the home stretch about a mile to go most up hill. My watch said 3:30 something… a runner next to me kicked it in and started sprinting up the hill. I thought “Goddamnit I can’t let this go” and started sprinting also. I was pissed. I needed that emotion. Kept at it and the clock said like 3:39:30. Talk about no margin of error. Of course I paid for it the rest of the day. I didn’t mind the sore muscles so  much as the upset stomach which prevented me from enjoying the meals with my friends but what can you do? Thanks guys for everything and Frank too as sort of the Godfather of the whole event.

Bucket List

As Frank did not run on Sunday, I’ll act as the “fake” Frank (“why yes that chianti was lovely with the lobster bisque!!”). In case anyone has forgotten, the marathon is this weekend. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. Some include being nervous mixed with not quite dread. I mean it’s a hard run, man. But I know how good I’ll feel having completed the damn thing- yadda yadda yadda. Someone mentioned bucket list which I really don’t have this penciled in anywhere but certainly a great idea. I do have a bucket list for my old dog though. That list includes a drive through at McDonalds, a visit to the beach, an afternoon with the Kelly’s dog Daisy with the loose morals, and a night sleeping in the kids bed. Anyway I’ll be eating some pasta this week and trying to stay positive (and this is not a plea for a lot of phony “ah, you’ll do great!!” comments thanks anyway). I did do the El Torro roller coaster at 6 Flags over the weekend so if there was a bucket list that would be on it.

Happiness is…



…..running my first 20 mile practice run of 2012 successfully and after being passed by some dude at mile 6 passing him at mile 16 and logging over 3 hours of (almost) non-stop running and  burning 2862 calories (equal to 4 Big Macs) and thanks to Steve for showing the terrific Lloyds Hall route and letting my little salt loving dog lick my ankle as much as he wants.

A Message from Steamtown Asst. Race Director to SJAC

Greetings South Jersey Athletic Club members!

Alert SJAC club member Tony Walter sent us an e-mail letting us know that a big part of your crew is doing Steamtown this year.  That’s excellent news.  We love New Jersey runners!

I hope your training is going well.  I know that you have begun your long runs and are probably in the 12 to 14 mile range by now (at least I hope you are).  Make sure you mix in some downhills.  When I ran Steamtown, my quads were so sore afterwords that I couldn’t walk downstairs forwards for three days.  But believe me, when you cross the finish line and get that medal hung around your neck, it’s all worth it.

I think you’ll like our medal this year – 3″, antique nickel, with a cool ribbon.  And make sure you stick around for the post race party!

Tony said about 10 of you are doing Steamtown.  Hopefully the 10 of you will be able to inspire even more runners to give Steamtown a try next year.  Training for a marathon together is a great experience, provided you don’t kill each other in the process.

Anyway, I’m confident you’ll have a great experience here  – and you’ll even like Scranton.  We’re just like Haddonfield but without the glitter!

Keep up the good work.  See you in October!

Yours in running,

Jim Cummings, Asst. Race Director, Steamtown Marathon

Road Trip

taking a page from Frank’s book of travels, I too decided to do a road trip. I drove 5 or so hours north to block island for the weekend. What to pack…sunscreen, bathing suit, good book, t-shirts, and of course my garmin and running sneakers. Something about an island that seems to encourage running. Located about 13 miles straight shot from the tip of Long Island off the coast of Rhode Island, block island is only about 9 miles long by 3 miles wide so hard to get lost out there. But the running is fantastic. Lots of hills, great views, and some shade. My favorite run (which I did twice over the weekend) was the 10+ mile out and back on Corn Neck Road. Just to get out was hard enough and my target was Settlers Rock as the turnaround point which is a good thing as that’s the end of the road. Settlers Rock has a plaque proclaiming the location of the initial settlement back in the 1600’s.  Anyway I was glad to lay a very sweaty hand on this lonely rock and then head back.

Heading back while I didnt see a groundhog or poor turtle, I did see plenty of these fellows ready to steal my pwer bar. Going out I would see runners heading back on the other side of the road and I was jealous that they were almost done. Now it was my turn to laugh at the runners as they headed out and the day was only getting hotter.

One more pic. of a street scene along the route. Nothing special but has nice flowers, and the sea beyond. My pace was low 9’s which I guess is ok. I mean it was hot and hilly and the course was tough. Like Steamtown, the end of the run had an uphill which is torture at that point but good practice. While many miles from Steamtown the marathon was never far from my mind. One of the things I like best about getting that hard run done though was the guilt-free eating and drinking which I could really take advantage of. “Yes my good man, one more budweiser and a clam chowdah will do fine, thank you!”

Like money in the bank

I ran the Haddon Heights Firecracker 5K today. While hot I have no complaints I did my best. My splits were 6:42; 7:02; and 7:08 for an overall time of 21:39 and an average pace of 6:57. I think I’m good with a 7 minute pace. I went to Runner’s World and looked up a marathon predictor calculator entering my 5k result. It says I am able to run a marathon in 3:27:16 (I love they have this down to the seconds). Now that’s a great time way better than my target. So I’m done. LIke money in the bank I can now kick back and sleep late and just count down the days till Steamtown knowing I have this. Pretty cool. Maybe when Frank’s out there sweating away some Sunday morning I’ll drive by on my way to the mall give a little beep-beep and waive with the AC blowing at full blast.

Talk to me not of time and place; I owe I’m happy in the chase.

It’s often hard to believe, but training for a specific event be it a 5k or a marathon, is fun, even happy. I know the many hours spent on training runs isn’t always easy, like getting up early when the rest of the town is sleeping. However,  I do enjoy the human-quiet, cool summer mornings including of course all those noisy birds (wouldn’t it be great to catalog them someday) and the good smells of plants and trees as I plod along. Not many people around but watch out for the bunnies and ducks!! It would be easy to just jog along at a casual pace but the Steamtown express pulls out of the station on October 7th and that is the reason for this particular chase. I get to listen to the other guys talk about their training and feel increasingly insecure about my own training. A little trash talking is always fun of course.

Watching the Olympic trials I just shake my head at their ability. When they run it’s like a cartoon with their legs blurred. But before any cynicism starts creeping in (for example noting how media savvy some are, or do I really want to hear about scriptures), I notice their actions at the starting line just before the gun. Some runners talk to themselves; some pace back and forth; and some just stand there looking as calm as Block Island Sound on a hot August day. Now this is where we runners, members of SJAC, and of course the Steamtown Studs come in. We can relate to how they REALLY feel. Most people say “golly they must be nervous…hey would ya  pass me the pork rinds goddamnit!!!”  Any one of us who have competed in a 5k or a marathon KNOW how they feel.  All the effort and hard work and planning and talking and always thinking and being aware of that pending race. Right now it’s someday –  soon  it’s tomorrow that I will be standing at the starting line with my group and all the other runners knowing that this is the time. I like to look around and get a sense of that moment.  We have earned the right to understand how those Olympians feel just before they run.

Steamtown studs

so Frank, as we’re probably the only ones reading this blog anyway, might as well throw the bull a little. Hence the name Steamtown studs ( as compared to perhaps Steamtown stoics or Steamtown striders which actually isn’t bad but probably already taken…I’m sure the linking of Steamtown and studs is some kind of a contradiction and so still available for use. Anyway, the latest edition of Runners World has a great Marathon Plan on page 70 that I believe I’m going to follow. I’ve never followed a formal plan before so a little apprehensive but it looks really good (5x per week; reasonable mileage, etc.). Talking to Brian about this and he also thought it a good one. Also the start date for this plan is June 18th which is this Monday!!! (another positive on that day the plan calls for a rest day. I like that day one of training and I get to rest). Ran Wednesday only Steamtown stud in attendance so pushed it a bit a good run. See you Sunday if the creeks don’t rise.

Captain Merrill Stubing

I thought maybe Doc but you strike me as more a Captain Stubing kind of guy. Sounds like a great time but how about beach time? Man I’d be hitting the beach plenty. The Dominican Republic run sounds like a real adventure but I think you were nuts I was nervous reading about it. Steve and I ran the full 13 last Sunday but he’s even worse than I am when it comes to pacing. On mile 7 we ran 8:11 that’s too fast. Yesterday was exactly 4 months to Steamtown. gulp. have you tried to run the 117 laps on the ship to equal a 13 mile run? And Frank, drinking a budweiser? My goodness. Were you chomping on beer nuts at the bar smoking an unfiltered cig yelling “hey youse guys shutup I’m trying to watch the cricket match” or whatever it is they watch down there. Enjoy the time it sounds like fun.

this Sunday was…

this Sunday was a “welcome to summer” run complete with heat and humidity…and sweat. Good run though I’ve become very much aware of water fountain placement. I think if I were to go back to college I’d like to major in water fountain placement. Funny the best water fountain out there is by the dog run. Anyway a sparse running crowd out there today and the few runners seemed to be friendlier than usual I suggested the heat made people friendly though I was roundly comdenmed for such a silly statement. There was talk of Mussolini; castration; cruises; priests in Ireland in the 1800’s; and with 2 doctor’s on board if someone had a heart attack which one would take the lead on mouth to mouth. All in all a typical menu of topics for a run. Also where the hell was Bryan? We know Michelle was sleeping in after her 1/2 marathon yesterday. Lastly, in honor of Frank and his Dad’s love of Rheingold beer…”My beer is Rheingold the dry beer. Please try Rheingold whenever you buy beer. It’s not bitter, not sweet. It’s the extra dry treat. Won’t you try extra dry Rheingold beer.”

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