That Time Again

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hi, Buckaroos.  Marathon training time again.  Gonna try to slide one by once more.

Yes, I got out early this morning.  I hit the pavement at 5:45 AM, to start my 20 miler today.  My plan was to get around seven miles in before our 7:00 AM group run, which is 12.5 miles, roughly, and have a half mile extra to do at the end.  I am training for the Twin Cities Marathon, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, October 1, 2017.

When one starts out that early on a Sunday in late August, the sun has not yet come up, and it is nice and peaceful.  No lawn crews with their gas-powered leaf blowers sending dust up into the air.  Very little traffic.  The houses are silent as the occupants slumber, completely unaware of the runner going by.  Even the locusts have dimmed their din.  A couple of crickets are still at the party.

What does occur is the senses, hearing, smelling and seeing, picking up little things that would ordinarily get missed.  As I stepped out on my front porch, I took a sip from my water bottle, set down my back pack and second running shirt on top, switched on my Garmin, waited for it to register the numerous satellites it follows, and headed out.  For the first mile and a half, things were very quiet.  At about that point, though, the first big olfactory hit came my way, which was the smell of someone starting up a barbecue.  I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, but guessed it must be someone planning to do some serious smoking, maybe beef brisket or a pork loin, and needed to get things going early.  It would be pretty nice to be around when the cooking is done.

I noticed a few birds and squirrels, but not the usual number one sees later in the morning.  Clearly, these were those looking for a competitive advantage.  I wondered if they also were selective favorites for procreation, or did the lazier of their ilk happen upon willing mates while the others were out foraging.  While the early bird gets the worm, the later bird may ultimately contribute more to the gene pool.

I could hear each foot strike on the pavement.  If one focuses too much on that, the monotony becomes mesmerizing, and takes one’s concentration away from important acts, such as looking for potholes in the road, and listening for the occasional car.  Should cops need an opportunity to fill their monthly ticket quota, I suggest they set up very early on Sunday.  While there are few cars on the road, to a one, they were all exceeding the speed limit by a hell of a lot.  I had on my reflective vest, with a blinking red light in the back, but when I heard a car coming from either direction I hopped on the sidewalk, since they invariably came speeding by, ignoring road signs and the double yellow line.  One car I saw this morning was a Corvette, driven by a guy with a reflective vest of his own on, but there our similarities ended.

I saw as I ran down Park Blvd. that the giant trees that had been uprooted by our last major storm, pulling the sidewalk to a 90 degree angle, had finally been removed.  Where they had been was now dirt, awaiting sidewalk repair.  This is a narrow street, with cars parked along the curb, and neat homes from the 1940’s and ’50’s.  Normally, I would need to run on the sidewalk since it is too narrow and busy to run in the street.  But this morning, I made it a full mile before a car approached.  I darted up on to the sidewalk as it passed, then got back into the street.  As one runs farther down the street, the houses get older, into the 1880’s and even earlier.  It is a measure of how the farmland got transformed into housing developments.  This part of the run is through Collingswood, a town named after the Collings family.  Collingswood was their farm.  Being Quakers, the town has always been dry.

Heading into Knight Park, I passed close to the Collings-Knight Homestead, the home of Edward C. Knight, benefactor who donated the land for Knight park.  One week earlier I ran through this park early Sunday morning, when a large dog, saliva dripping from his jaw, ran at me barking and snapping.  I turned and faced him, palms up and facing the dog.  Its owner was nearby, a woman standing with a couple of other dog owners, all of whom let their dogs run leash-less.  She called to the dog to “c’m’ere”, reassuring me that the dog was a friendly dog and would do me no harm.  The dog did stop a few feet from me, then turned and went back to her.  She repeated several times what a friendly dog it was, and how I shouldn’t worry.  So, this was on my mind this morning, and fortunately, I had arisen early enough to beat this woman and her “friendly” dog to the park.  I was certainly relieved.

Reaching the end of the park, I headed to Haddon Avenue, and started to run back towards my starting point.  For anyone not from this area, Haddon is a common name.  Elizabeth Haddon was the daughter of John Haddon a Quaker in London who purchased 500 acres in the area that is now Haddonfield and Haddon Township.  He bought the land to escape religious persecution, but due to ill health, could not make the journey.  He sent his daughter, Elizabeth, instead.  She arrived, a single, young woman, apparently confident, and in 1702 asked John Estaugh, a Quaker minister already in this colony, for his hand in marriage.  Elizabeth Haddon was the founder of the towns of Haddonfield and Haddon Township.

Running up Haddon Avenue, I passed the numerous shops and restaurants in Collingswood.  While a dry town, there is a very vibrant restaurant scene, since one can bring wine or beer to the restaurant.  The restaurants have turned Collingswood from an aging, decaying town, with out of date stores like vacuum cleaner repair and hardware stores, to a busy, hip place, especially on Friday and Saturday night.  I pass the parking spots.  These used to be meters, but now are marked with poles labeled with notices that one must pay at the pay station.  Parking is paid seven days a week.  This morning, there are no cars parked here.  Leaving Collingswood and entering Haddon Township and Westmont, one enters the bar scene.  Capturing the revelers which Collingswood missed, this stretch of Haddon Avenue has numerous bars which are busy usually every night.  Again, in the early morning, they are shuttered and quiet, awaiting the opening gong much later in the day.

I turned back into the neighborhood streets for the last mile or so of my run.  I was again aware of a strong olfactory stimulus, this time, bacon.  The smell of bacon cooking is, first of all, unmistakable.  We have two eyes which can see various colors.  We have two ears to hear a wide range of sound.  But we have about 800 genes in humans each coding for a different olfactory receptor.  Most scents stimulate multiple receptors, which is how we can be so discriminatory identifying different odors.  The smell of bacon also is a strong motivator.  It motivates one to eat bacon, which I was, unfortunately, not able to do at that moment.

By this point, the birds were starting to become active and sing to each other.  To us, it is an entertaining bird concert, with different songs coming from different directions.  To the birds, it is the result of sexual selection at work, a subset of Darwin’s natural selection, establishing the male’s dominance for his territory and mate.

I made it around the last corner back towards my house, the sky now a mix of grays and rosy pinks.  I stopped by my house briefly, to change to a dry shirt which I had left on my front porch, grab my backpack and water bottle, and head out to meet the usual Sunday morning runners at 7:00 for our 12.5 mile loop, with 7 miles in already.

By the finish of the morning run, I got my 20.2 miles in.  One of my good running friends, Kealan, ran the 12.5 miles with me, and even the extra half mile I needed to get to that 20 mile mark.  Our conversation the whole way made the run seem much shorter.

I’ll leave you with a link to the song running through my mind as I was running the dark streets in the early morning of last Sunday:

Frank relaxes at Starbucks with his running friends, 20.2 miles in the training bank.

The Aging Carrot



As I  was digging up our carrots from our garden, having left them to grow the whole summer, I was pleasantly surprised to find the above carrot couplet you see on your left.  Why, it looked like an adoring couple, snuggling together, spooning.  I was quite taken by this natural representation of love, so I set the carrots on our counter in the kitchen.  There they stayed for some time.  When I again discovered them, hiding out behind other stuff that got piled around them, they had changed.  Yes, they were still in that loving, gentle embrace, but they lost their hair.  They became shriveled.  Their bright orange color was gone.  The embrace had lost some vital turgor.  In a matter of a few weeks, they went from being youthful and attractive, to stereotypes of the aged.

I am feeling this way, struck by the evil vicissitudes of my aging body.  It seems to have come on rather suddenly, as if a switch was turned.  I was still able to manage a decent marathon in 2015.  But this past year, my times for various races rose like hot air balloons.  What happened to the speed?  Also, I’m feeling pains I used to only feel the day after the marathon.  Now, when I wake in the morning and head downstairs to make coffee, I find myself relying on the banister, as my thigh muscles put out little protest yelps of pain.

I suspect some of this has come about due to my daily schedule and obligations leaving less time for training.  I know, people say, “you have to make the time.”  “There’s no excuse.”  But long work days and, during the winter months, short daylight hours, make challenges to getting out there and maintaining the fitness.  The other aspect, though, is what to expect as we get older.  Listening to the broadcasts of the Australian Open tennis tournament, the announcers stated over and over how shocking it was that the finalists, men and women, were all older than 30(!), and some over 35 (shocking!).  One can only imagine the losses in strength and ability to recover when one is over 60.  One estimate I read is that one loses about 0.6% of one’s overall strength and fitness for each year over 30.  I think that percentage applies to the previous year’s fitness, so that the 0.6% is subtracted not from the level at 30 each year, but from the last year’s level.

When I was 48 I got a book by Joel Friel, called “Cycling Past 50”.  While published in 1998, I think it has a lot of excellent information and advice which can be used in any sport, and certainly beyond 50.  He starts with some graphs showing how our bodies lose muscle, strength, and aerobic capacity as we grow older.  He also shows, in graph form, what happens if one allows extra body fat to accumulate, and it is not a pretty picture.   V̇O2max drops much more by the age of 70 if the percent body fat is 30% as opposed to 15%.  He addresses “task creep”, which he states refers to accumulating more work and responsibility as one hits the peak of one’s professional years in the 50-65 age group.  Beyond cycling specific information, he addresses recovery, nutrition and injury avoidance, all taking on greater importance as we get older but still wish to train and compete.  I also just ordered “Running Until You’re 100”, by Jeff Galloway.  That’s the way to take the long view….

While I feel like that carrot on the right in the top photo, I believe I can persevere and even get a few good races in, in the coming years.  At the same time, I want to continue to enjoy the benefits of aging, such as more freedom to travel, offspring who have become successful in their own lives, and an appreciation for life in general.  Anyway, see you out on the road.


Looking out; Looking Back

Way back in college, one of my professors, in a class in which I was a bit lost, talked about “signifier and signified”.  Hang with me on this, because it gets confusing before it gets clearer.  This professor, who was French and had an accent, said something about signifier and signified which has stuck with me, and seemed important.  He referred to these concepts as someone looking at another image, whether in a mirror, or another person or thing, and that the image changes the originator of the interaction.  That was probably a misinterpretation on my part.

It turns out, these terms, signifier and signified, are concepts in the large field known as “semiotics”.  Also, the signifier is not a person, it is a form that refers to something else, together making a meaningful sign.  An example would be a written word, like tree, referring to the object which we know as a tree.  But these signifiers are not limited to letters, or words.  They can be body language, facial expressions, clothing, grunts, color coding, and so on.

What the professor meant, and what I took from it, are too far removed from today, for me to say whether he knew what he was talking about (I bet he did), or if I just took from it what I wanted.  But I liked the idea that the message, whether a word, an expression, a gasp, a groan, a sneer, is reflected back and alters the sender, which is where I begin.

I look out from my own eyes, and if there is no one watching, I feel a certain way.  Trees, rocks, the road, my environment, will affect the way I feel or act, but they are not actively answering my message that I am either consciously or unconsciously sending out.  Still, the reflection of that message, say a groan when I see a hill coming up, or a sideways glance at a tree just starting to blossom, will reflect back at me and alter my course.  How we feel starting out on a run is almost never how we feel at the end, likely due to these interactions which change us as we run along.

Adding another person running with me is another complexity altogether in this analysis.  Now, I have someone actively receiving my message, interpreting it, and sending back a reflection with that person’s own message included.  I suppose this can happen with an animal as well, say, if one encounters a deer on the run who gets startled by one’s presence.  Or, if one happens upon a snarling dog in the road.  Or, as happened to me on a run in Wyoming, along the road bordering the National Elk Refuge, a ram in a group of big horn sheep standing in the roadway staring me down.  That was a definite direction changer.  Having a person run with me means keeping up, slowing down, talking, looking strong, looking beat, changing posture, and many other changes in direction, attitude, and feeling based on the reflection from the running partner.  This is not to include direct communication, but rather the meaning of the message sent and the reflection received.  We have these interactions with others throughout the day, but in running they take on a certain impact.

One of the most insidious, and dangerous interactions between messages sent and received, is from our own reflection.  As I mentioned earlier, when I am looking out through my own eyes at things around me, I feel a certain way.  But, seeing my own reflection is a message which can really go deep.  As I run, I can feel athletic, strong, tired, wet, dry, sore, fast, slow, or tough.  I can be distracted, angered, calm, happy, gritty or simply wondering at nature.  Almost never am I depressed or lonely, even when running alone.  One glance in a shop window, though, can change my perception immensely.  Almost always, I feel that I look younger  and more athletic than my reflection in the window.  How does one respond to that message, that you are older than you feel.  For me, it’s a great reminder to pull in the abs, straighten the shoulders, head up, and look more like I’m enjoying myself than look like I’m on a forced march.  Then there is the core of feeling, a sense of inner strength but also a minor sense of inner weakness.  These messages confront one’s sense of self, of ability, and of vulnerability.  All that from a simple reflection, one glance which may take less than a tenth of a second.

In sum, these are all messages and reflections over which we have no direct control.  They are ingrained in the way we interact with our surroundings, and we don’t take too much time to think about them or formulate a reaction.  Recognizing them, though, allows us to consider how we think and act on a basic, reflexive level, and use parts of our brain which are in the realm of the subconscious.

Turning 59…

Nov. 66…ain’t that special.  It’s not one of those banner years, like 18, when you get to vote, and can join the army.  Or 21, when you wait until midnight the night before, then whip out your drivers license in the bar showing you are now of legal age to imbibe liquor.  Why it’s okay to kill or be killed for your country at 18, but not have a beer, is one of those mysteries of society I will never understand.  If I stretch my memory way back to the earliest birthday I can remember, I probably was 6.  But, I also probably only remember it from the grainy 8 mm movies my dad took of the birthday party, and along with that, the distinctive sound and smell of the projector.  The flap, flap, flap of the film at the end of the reel is a lost sound, recognized by us older folks, but unheard in the YouTube age.  In the movie version of my birthday, the films of which lasted only about four minutes each, I was dressed in a cowboy costume, chasing other kids around, and sliding down the slide in our backyard.  My cousins posed for the camera like glamorous stars.  There was a nice birthday cake with six candles, far from the fire hazard I’d require today.  The photo at left is me, far more mature, at the age of 12.  Children are  still very naive at that age, especially in the suburban setting in which I grew up.  The worst that would happen was getting into a fight with one of my friends.  A few punches were thrown, we’d go off and lick our wounds, then make up and get back to our usual cordial games.  Not that I had not known grief.  I had already experienced the assassination of President Kennedy.  In fact, I saw him a few days before the fateful event, on a motorcade in Houston, where we lived at the time.  I recall coming home from school to see my mother very upset, but not really understanding the importance.  I was 9 at the time, three years before this photo.  All of my close relatives were still alive, so I had not experienced death and loss.  I did know something about World War II.  My father had been in the Merchant Marine on an oil tanker that provided fuel oil for the battle ships and destroyers in the Atlantic and the Pacific.  He didn’t speak much about the horrors of that war, but he related some stories of harrowing times under attack by German subs, when an escorting destroyer in his convoy was blown up.  The image of sailors being blasted off the deck clearly made an impression on him, and I picked up some of the fear for their lives these men must have felt.

As birthdays passed, I marched on to my 16th.  Living in Arizona at the time, I was able to get a full, unrestricted driver’s license at that age.  I believe the reason they allowed such young kids to get licenses in Arizona was that it was a lightly populated state, with many agricultural communities, and someone needed to be able to drive pops to the liquor store to stock up for the weekend.  It made for an interesting singularity, though.  We moved to California that year, and while the driving age there was officially 18, 17 and a 1/2 for a permit, they recognized my Arizona license and gave me a full license in California.  I was the only kid my age in high school to have a license, which made me pretty special.  While this held me until I was 18, the drinking age was 21 in California, but only 18 in Arizona.  I took a road trip back to visit friends in Scottsdale when I was 19, and the first thing I wanted to do was get a drink in a bar.  My experience with liquor to that point was very limited.  I had sips of my grandfather’s beer from time to time, Rheingold, and my parents drank the cocktails of the day, the martini and manhattan.  As a child and teen, my parents would have parties with the obligatory mixed drink cart, cigarettes in attractive boxes about the room, and fancy lighters which doubled as decorative accents.  So, when I hit the bar with my friends in Arizona, I hardly knew what to order.  I settled on a scotch on the rocks, having heard of that drink in a movie somewhere along the line.  It burned my throat, and I don’t think I was able to finish it.

Around this time, though we were still in the worst of it in Vietnam.  Shocking photos from war journalists were making the cover of Time and Newsweek, and statistics of soldiers killed and wounded were broadcast on the news.  I signed up for the draft as required, although my parents swore that if I was drafted we were headed for Canada.  Oh, Canada, thanks for being there in our time of need.  As it turned out, my birthday was given a high enough number in the draft lottery so I was not called up either year I was eligible.  I’m not sure what I would have done if I was, probably try to join the Navy.  After the second year of the draft, President Nixon ended our role in the “conflict”, and brought the soldiers home on March 27, 1973, forty years ago.  The war between North and South Vietnam continued two more years, until the North, backed by China, had crushed the South.  The Vietnam War was my awakening to the inhumanity possible in man against man.  Women and infants slaughtered, because they might be abetting the enemy, and indiscriminate bombing and exfoliation of the jungle led to massive protests in the U.S., and  many students who took part were injured or killed for doing so.  When I started my college years at UCSD in 1972, the campus was still reeling from the May, 1970, self-immolation of George Winn, Jr, who was a graduate student at UCSD and was protesting the war.  While terrorism hardly started in the 1960’s, it was in the late sixties and early seventies that the term terrorists seemed to become well known.  Bruce Hoffman, a specialist in the study of terrorism at Georgetown University, defines terrorism to include several features including that it is conducted by an organization with an identifiable chain of command.  His definition can be found in this Wikipedia article.

Through college and medical school, birthdays seemed to fly by.  No longer the cause for a gay party with balloons and cone hats, they more marked our stages of development as adults.  At 25, one is considered old enough to be more responsible behind the wheel, and the auto insurance costs go down.  At 29, one is on the verge of losing youth, and everyone seems to want to be 29 for a long, long time.  Come 35, one should be married, have a job, and some kids.  Work becomes an every day responsibility, as we take on the raising of children, the house mortgage and all the other obligations of becoming truly adult.

While things were still happening around the world, some wonderful, like space shuttle trips to the space station, or the invention of the car phone (bit of a double edge sword, that), the world also was getting hotter with extremists and their attacks.  Names such as the IRA, Shining Path, Cuban Hijackers, the Red Army Faction, the Unabomber, the PLO, Islamic Jihad, Armenians, Italians, Sikhs, and many others became front page news items for their atrocities.  Yet, with a family to raise and a very busy work schedule as a young surgeon I was much more interested in my immediate circle.  One slightly ironic note was that, as an attending at the V.A. Hospital, I found myself caring for Vietnam Vets whose lives were destroyed back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  I also took care of vets from the first Iraq war, Desert Storm.

Victims of the 9/11/2001 attack on the World Trade Center

Victims of the 9/11/2001 attack on the World Trade Center

We go through stages as adults where we are at first very aware of what is going on in the world, and want to do something about it.  We protest, join the peace corps, and are activists politically.  Then, we knuckle down to raise a family, provide for the family, and deal with the everyday little problems that fill our world.  As the children become independent adults, we again get more involved with what is going on in the world.  The US has been lucky lately, situated where we are between two big oceans and two friendly neighbors north and south.  We have not had the daily threats of violence experienced by those in the middle east, Europe, Asia and even South America.  The attacks of 9/11 woke us up to the fact we are not immune to horrific terrorism, just rather well insulated.  We also have had a large number of senseless home-grown attacks by gun wielding psychotics, or attacks like the Okalahoma City bombing in 1995, politically motivated but not from an organized anti-government force.

Frank at Boston, 2011.

Frank at Boston, 2011.

The Boston Marathon occurs a week, or at most almost two weeks, before my birthday.  For me what this means is I will never run it at the peak power of my age group.  I will always have to qualify for a year into that age group.  As I’ve reached my 59th year, I can see that I no longer can run with the speed I had ten years ago.  It doesn’t sound very old, 59, but the legs don’t lie.  I had the humorous experience of seeing one of my patients of many years, perhaps twenty, in the office the other day.  While she still looked fit, I thought to myself, “my, she seems so much older than I remember her when she first came to see me”.  She must have caught wind of that thought, and said out loud, “you are really looking pretty old”.  I laughed out loud, realizing we both must have been thinking the same, that we really have changed as we got into our late fifties.  From inside my body looking out, I don’t feel old.  In fact, I feel the way I perceived myself looking perhaps twenty years ago.  But, take a look in the mirror, and that older individual looking back, the one I don’t recognize, is definitely me.

The bombing at the Boston Marathon was such an awful, unexplainable attack, and when it happened, I found myself in shock.  I was not there this year, but had very close friends there, many of whom would have been crossing the finish line within minutes of the bombs going off.  It took quite some time before we back home found out that all of our friends were alive and had not been injured.  I am so thankful for their sakes and for their worried families.  The attack, though, seems not to have a thought behind it other than to be some kind of copycat attack.  It is one thing for Chechens to want to attack Russians, who have politically dominated them, or for the IRA to lash out at the British.  Inexcusable, and not productive, but the reason behind these attacks, or of myriad other terrorist attacks, is not mysterious.  This incident must have had it’s intended consequence, to make us fear for our lives and limbs on a daily basis.  But it does not carry forward any particular agenda and so becomes just a very awful, desperate and destructive act.  I feel a little sorry for the young man who aided his brother and now has lived to face the punishment.  In the picture that emerged of his pre-bombing life, he does not seem like someone hell-bent to cause pain and death.  Nevertheless, I feel much greater sadness for the victims of his heinous crime, the families of those who died, and the ones whose limbs were blown off them, and who now must learn to live a completely new and more difficult life.  Ultimately, running a marathon is a selfish act, but the outpouring of support one gets at the Boston Marathon shows that we runners have somehow given inspiration to those watching.  I had many a spectator yelling support and cheering me on as I struggled to complete the course and get across the finish line.

So today, on my 59th birthday, not relevant in the list of birthdays, but, for me, a time of reflection, I realize that what we do and say makes a difference.  How we behave and comport ourselves sets an example for others to follow.  If we are mean, and engage in cruel acts and torture, we are setting an example, not declaring some high ground as ours.  While this incident was not the worst attack in recent history on US soil, it is for every individual killed or injured.  I hope we as a country learn from it to be kind, to encourage and to support, not to take revenge and continue a cycle of destruction.

Frank today, with wrinkles.

Frank today, with wrinkles.

The Heart of Fall

Golden leaves.

The bright golden colors of fall.

Here we are in the middle of fall, with the bright but fleeting colors of the leaves creating a beautiful backdrop for  our runs.  Right now, the weather doesn’t quite know if 75 or 45 is the correct temperature.  One day it’s tights, long sleeve shirt, and light gloves, then its back to shorts and short sleeves.  One thing is constant, though, evening runs are in the dark.  I equip myself with a headlamp and reflectors for these runs.  The headlamp is annoying, but necessary.  Some areas are well lit by streetlights, but our town is notorious for potholes, especially in areas where the streets are dark.  Potholes seem to congregate in the dark.

Spent yellow squash plant.

This yellow squash plant was very productive over the summer, providing us with a dozen or so squash, and we ate some of the blossoms, too.

Running in the dark, I feel a bit like a fugitive, darting among the shadows, and aware the drivers are not necessarily aware of me.  It is a bit of a survival game.

Stem of a zucchini plant.

The wizened stem of a zucchini plant.

Unlike the plants in these photos, I am planning to reach a peak in the next few weeks as I take on the Philly Marathon, November 18.  This will be my fifth year in a row running Philly.  If someone told me back in 2008, that by the end of 2012 I’d have seven marathons in the books, I’d have thought they were crazy.  But, as long as I finish it, this will be my seventh, with one Boston and one Steamtown in the mix.

Tomatoes still green in October.

Green tomatoes still hanging on the vine in late October.

Many of my friends, about my age of 58, are looking ahead to retirement and discussing their bucket lists.  Don’t speak to me of bucket lists.  It’s not that I believe that somehow I am less mortal than my non-running friends.  Quite the contrary.  I seem to take on some risks for which life afterwards is not a given.  I don’t think I’m adding years to my existence by running, or eating right.  But, running, and competing are a great deal of fun, an endless challenge, and a great reason to get together with like minded folks and have a good time…often with good beer involved.  The list of interesting things I would like to do keeps expanding.

Orange Peel Fungus

I believe these are Orange Peel Fungus, a type of mushroom which bloomed in our garden.

Running Philly so soon after running Steamtown is a bit of an experiment for me.  Collective wisdom says that it takes about as many days as miles in a race to recover properly.  But after the first week following Steamtown of sore quads and an awkward gate, I got back into the training process.  Last Sunday was a 22 miler.  The legs felt very tired around mile 19 and 20, and I wound up slowing considerably, only to get a second wind and run the last two miles in decent form.  Tuesday and Wednesday were good training runs at close to marathon pace.  Running in the dark slows me down a bit, as I mentioned, having to pick my way through in some areas.  After an eleven mile run last night, Steve and Tony, my friends from Steamtown, and I headed out for some good ales and dinner at a local pub called the Pour House.  The talk covered how best to run an upcoming 10K bridge run, a zombie run (lots of zombies out on the course, since Halloween is coming), the Giants and Tigers first world series game, extremely thin waitresses at the Pour House, the difference between ales and lagers, American vs India Pale Ale, and all sorts of other topics.

Poison Ivy along our fence.

Here’s the poison ivy along our fence which gets me every time I trim along the fence line.

This poison ivy gets me every time.  As I wrote in a previous entry, I got the rash everywhere my last encounter with it, and I’m glad to see it turn colors and drop it’s leaves.  It is an attractive vine.  But this winter, after Philly, and with gloves and long sleeves, I will get in to this area and dig out every bit of it.  That is, I hope I will, since finding it after the leaves are gone might be tricky.  Meanwhile, I’m heading for a 50 plus mile week, I am not particularly sore, and I hope my experiment goes well.

Uncorking Croatia


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