Striding Through

Because a life well lived always finds the right pace

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Striding Through at Tumblr, too!

Just a quick note to let you know I have launched a companion to this blog at Tumblr. I plan to use that one for quick interim posts, micro blogs if you will, but my detailed blogs will continue to be published here at WordPress. In any case, the Striding Through Tumblr blog is available at cmjhawk86.tumblr.com.

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49 laps done

Yep, I hit the almost half-century mark today, which didn’t keep me from logging four miles and hitting the weights for a bit. It will be fun to see what the year ahead holds. Either way, I’m looking forward to it. Boston awaits as do many other fun challenges. Bring it on!

Life Imitates Star Trek?

Who says I only post about running? Then again, it’s time to get out there and move some space-time fabric. 😉

The Gazebo Effect

For many Star Trek fans, one of the main attractions of the show is the futuristic technology. For some it’s the battle scenes where we watch bursts from the phaser banks and hear “Shields down to 60%” while others are excited by the concept of exploring the galaxy for the sake of scientific research, seeking out new life and colonising new planets.

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One Star Trek enthusiast (who admittedly is a genuine engineer) has started a campaign to build a full scale replica of the Enterprise over the next 20 years which can travel to Mars in under 90 days using Ion Propulsion Engines. The Build The Enterprise campaign has been turning heads of Trekkies (or Trekkers for the die-hards) around the world.

Obviously, the plan has received mixed reviews. There has been much admiration of the boldness and detail of the plan but equally there has been criticism, particularly at…

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New storm gathering over New York?

This weekend brings the New York City Marathon, a race I was fortunate enough to run in 2010. It’s a World Marathon Major and that alone makes it a big deal. But as the 2012 edition comes to the fore, the circumstances surrounding the event are anything but ordinary. Superstorm Sandy brought the world’s mightiest city to its knees in a way that even 9/11 didn’t do. Having lived in the Bronx for a few years as a young child, I know of how resilient New Yorkers are and that they will bounce back from this stronger than ever. But right now the wounds are so raw, with devastation, deprivation and even death all around, that the “show must go on” mentality from the organizers regarding the marathon has a lot of New Yorkers in a downright ornery mood.

Truthfully I can understand the arguments both for and against going ahead with the race this weekend. This is after all a World Marathon Major, not just any other race. Whether you’re an elite or a back-of-the-packer, you’ve put your heart and soul into training for this race. And many of the ordinary folks in this race are running for more than just themselves, using the race as a way to raise money for a wide range of charitable organizations. Organizations such as Team in Training, who I’ve run for in the past, depend on these athletes as their life blood who make possible life saving research. And let’s not forget the economic benefit to the city, which runs into the millions, maybe even billions of dollars. For these and a wide variety of other reasons, canceling the race outright is simply a non-starter.

But the locals have a point, too. Marathons, in addition to being a source of civic pride, are a huge logistical undertaking that involves thousands of volunteers, city government employees, law enforcement, and emergency personnel. New York City has shown time and time again it has the muscle to put on a first-class marathon, but it’s never faced a calamity such as this year. Residents are shellshocked and desperate. They can’t find food, gas and some cases even a place to put down their heads at night; many of the hotels booked by incoming marathoners are housing suddenly homeless New Yorkers. The public transit system, which forms the backbone of the strategy for moving all those runners to Staten Island in time for the start, is crippled. Law enforcement is strained to the breaking point as are first responders, with no immediate return to normality in sight. To stage a marathon in three days indeed seems unthinkable. I can’t say whether it’s a majority or a loud minority but clearly a large number of New Yorkers are loudly and defiantly voicing their consternation about all this.

Clearly the city and the New York Road Runners Club are between a rock and a hard place. As I said above, canceling is not an option. And even postponement is tricky. However, to me it seems the only option. So what to do? Well, if I was advising Mayor Bloomberg or the NYRR, I’d tell them to put the race off by two weeks. One week is not enough as the city will still be getting back on its feet. Three weeks is not viable either because that’s Thanksgiving Weekend. And beyond that? Fugghedaaboutit. December is holiday season not to mention the weather in New York could start to get harsh.

That leaves the weekend of November 17-18. This of course, conflicts with the Philadelphia Marathon (where I am running the half marathon this year), which has grown considerably in popularity since my first marathon there in 2006. But aside from a few Marathon Maniacs I can’t imagine many athletes having to make a hard choice between running Philly or running New York. Those registered for both races will run New York. Everyone else will run Philly. It’s that simple.

I’m sure there are unbelievably complex issues and red tape to work through to make such a seemingly sensible compromise come about. But I start from the simple conclusion that the plan for going ahead with the race this weekend is just not going to end well. There’s still time to save face, support those who’ve lost so much, and then come together to put on a great marathon that lives up to its usual billing and celebrates another great New York comeback.

Update November 2: the race has been canceled. See http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57544624/nyc-marathon-canceled-amid-outcry/

Well timed rest day, hopefully just one

Well as Sandy works her mischief over the DC region, I am fortunate as of now to still have electrical power and to make Monday my typical rest day. Tomorrow – hopefully – I will pick it back up as usual. That is, if the power is still on and I can use the treadmill in my basement.

I hit a bit of a speed bump about 10 days ago, just as I was starting to ramp back up after Chicago. I came down with a nasty cold despite taking every precaution knowing post-marathon immunity is compromised. Most of last weekend was spent in bed but I finally was able to hit the roads again this past Wednesday. Given that late start I had a pretty good week, finishing up with 28 miles along with one cross training day on the bike. The good news is I haven’t lost any fitness. The legs are rarin’ to go once again.

So I should be ready to log about 10 days of intense training – hopefully – before dialing it back to taper for the half marathon at Philly. Now I just need Sandy to get on her way.

Back in the saddle with Spring Racing!

After an up and down spring training cycle, the target races start to come whether you’re “ready” or not. And sure enough that’s exactly what happened on Earth Day (April 22) when I toed the line at Rutgers University for the UNITE Half Marathon.

To be honest I really wasn’t sure what I would have in me on race day. After starting off well with training in January, I hit a bit of a speed bump in late February, starting with a mediocre race performance at the RRCA Club Challenge Ten Miler in Columbia, MD. From there I went into a funk, either mental or physical, probably a little bit of both, as my workout performances just lagged. Then my sometimes-balky knee acted up – tendinitis, which has been nagging me since. I ended up taking about 2 weeks off from running in early March. While I clearly needed the break it didn’t do much for my race preparations. So when I started half marathon training again, I decided let’s not worry about PRs (sub-1:29) and certainly not the lofty goal of 1:25 I had conceived back in December. The goal was now just to get a solid run in that would set me up for Broad Street Run on 5/6. As for a time, I decided I would be happy with anything under 1:35.

Race day morning logistics went off without any hitch whatsoever and the shuttle from downtown New Brunswick got me and Lynn to the start area on Rutgers’ Busch campus with plenty of time to spare. I was completely relaxed at the start and when the gun went off I started with what felt like a comfortably hard effort. That ended up being a 6:39 opening mile, faster than I expected and I wondered if I could hold onto it. As it turns out I did hang on to it for a while, until about 5 miles or so. But then the gaps in my fitness started to show and by mile 7 I was running 7 minute miles.

We continued to wind our way through the Busch campus, until about 9.5 miles in when we finally crossed the bridge over the Raritan River and into New Brunswick proper. As we completed the crossing and turned to dip down into a park I saw Lynn who was with several other spectators.

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At this point I knew I was tiring – the pace had slipped into the 7:20s – but I also knew I could hang on and have a nice result if I didn’t do anything dumb. As I passed the 10-mile mark I noted my split time was better than the race result I had achieved at Columbia two months prior, which made me feel good. I knew that had just been a bad day but it’s always nice to have validation of that. We continued to wind around the park for another two miles; I chatted and ran alongside another runner for part of that stretch but had to let him go ahead as the finish drew closer. Meanwhile a female runner who had been jockeying places with me all morning surged ahead yet again and put a 100-yard gap on me.

We came out of the park into downtown New Brunswick, the finish just 0.6 miles away when I saw Lynn again. This time I was climbing a steep hill, whose placement seemed rather cruel given the stage of the race and my mounting exhaustion. Still it was great to see Lynn, and while I was suffering I still managed a smile for the camera, sort of. I have a great one-woman race crew. 🙂

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As we crested the hill I told myself, let’s see what we have left. I was easily going to beat the 1:35 goal I had set, no worries there. I tried to run steady but hard, not an all-out sprint. Just finish strong, that was the goal. I did get caught by one person from behind but in the meantime I passed two other runners, including the woman who had seemingly left me in the dust two miles earlier.

As I crossed the line I was tired, but could feel myself recovering quickly. That was a good sign because it meant my conditioning was just fine. Final results were 1:33:23 on the gun, 1:33:19 on the chip, good for 116th place overall out of a couple thousand entrants. In my age category (45-49) I was 7th overall with an age-graded result of 70.4%. For a guy not in top form, that’s a result I can definitely live with. Now it’s on to Broad Street…where I think I’ve got a good race in me!

Another restart

Well, I fell off the wagon on maintaining this blog yet again in the second half of 2011. Some events interfered, most notably that of being laid off from my old job in November. But happily, I have found new employment and things are starting to now settle down.

Through it all, my running and training have continued. I still have a race report to publish from the Philadelphia Marathon in November (it was a good day) and after a recovery period I am now back in the saddle training for spring target races. So far on my spring calendar, I have the UNITE Half Marathon in New Brunswick, NJ on 4/22 and a return to the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia on May 6. In any case there is lots to write about, so hopefully I will have some updates for you all very shortly.

The blog is back

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. Things got busy and I let the place just go to hell, I guess.

Well, it’s time to reinvigorate things. I’ve got lots of ideas for articles here and of course, I haven’t stopped running. In fact I’ve got a big race this weekend, the Broad Street Run, in Philadelphia. So it’s time to get off the sidelines an rejoin the race. Stay tuned…

Snowpunked

As I sit at the kitchen table watching the latest version of winter’s endless assault on the Washington, DC metro area, I alternate between dread — “what’s next?” — and plotting “what’s next.” For the past week, it seems we are in an endless 2-3 day cycle: snowfall, recover from snowfall, brace for the next snowfall. I hear this one is the last for a while, this punch is a strong one, and as for the end, I’ll believe it when I see it.  It’s hard to believe right now the average high temperature in this area, for this time of year is 46. Or, that spring training starts for the Phillies in about a week.  The George Washington’s Birthday Marathon, DC Roadrunners Club’s signature marathon race, is scheduled for Sunday in Greenbelt. I was secretly thinking of jumping into it at the last minute for a long, supported training run, but now I doubt it will be run (UPDATE – it has indeed been canceled).

Our driveway this morning, after the latest blast of snow

Suffice to say spring marathon training has taken a hit. Luckily it hasn’t been a total loss; I’ve been able to train on our home treadmill a lot but the events outside still have a way of imposing themselves. For example, sometimes plans to run indoors get trumped by marathon snow-shoveling sessions outside. Or there are days like yesterday, when our Lexus SUV’s battery died in the middle of our street. Thankfully most of our neighbors were in good spirits and helped us first with trying to jump it (unsuccessfully) and then finally pushing it into a safe spot in our driveway while also freeing the Prius, which is for the time being our one working car.

At least I’ve been able to hone my chili-making skills using the slow-cooker my brother gave us for Christmas. We made some on Super Bowl Sunday that was an improvisational type — meat base was cubed pork of all things — and it turned out quite good. Today I’m going with a more conventional ground beef base, plus onions, garlic, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, and black beans. For spicing, I started with some Hard Times Cincinnati Chili Mix and then added some more chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and cinnamon, and just to really add my own touch a spoonful of a chocolate-based chili barbecue rub someone gave me a while back. It’s starting to smell really good and with its high protein kick it will no doubt fuel a lot of post-run recoveries — once I can get outside for long runs again.

Chili’s cooking, time to hop on the treadmill.

World Series aftermath

It’s been a couple of days since Game 6, and I’ve had time to digest the results. In fact cleanup from the Yankees’ victory parade should be all done by now.

In short the defending champion Phillies were overwhelmed by a team on a mission. From the front office to the players there is no question everyone on the Yankees was focused on doing exactly what it took to win it all.  And they did.  That’s not to say the Phillies weren’t similarly focused, but when a franchise like the Yankees throws its full organizational might behind the effort, and gets the requisite good luck along the way, it’s going to be hard to stop. The Phillies, to their credit gave the Yanks a hell of a battle in the best World Series in several years.

In any case, congratulations to them from this Phillies phan. As for my team, there’s no reason a return to the World Series and return of the trophy to Philadelphia can’t happen next year. They do need to make some moves, however. The Dodgers, Cardinals, Rockies, Braves and I suspect a resurgent Mets will all want a crack at the Phils and will be making moves of their own intended to knock them off. The Phils’ bullpen clearly needs some help, and the bench started looking a little thin this season as well. In particular they need a potent righthanded bat off the bench. None of those are what you would call “major” signings or trades, however. That conceivably leaves some money for starting pitching. I don’t think the Phillies will tender a new offer to Pedro Martinez, but I admittedly could be wrong about that.  The bottom line, I think, is the Phillies will be back, with a slightly different look, but the same high hopes.