Sunday, November 25, 2007

Turkey Trotting

For the life of me I can't remember when I ran the [then Vertel's] Turkey Trot 8K here in Chicago. I can remember the car I was driving, my old - 1992 - Dodge mini van. [A piece of running history that deserved to be restored, but wasn't. It was in the back seat of that van, coming back from a 1/2 Ironman triathlon that I wrote the first "Penguin Chronicle" that included the "miracle" credo] But, I digress.

I remember that I tossed my jacket to my dad when the course looped back to the start/finish. I remember that it was VERY cold and that I had a pretty good run. No, I don't remember my time. It was faster than this year. I know that for sure.

8K, nearly 5 miles, is now a longish run for me. Since the "back" incident I've been doing lots of short runs and having fun doing them. So, lining up for an 8K was more nerve-wracking than you might expect. 

This year's race, like most year's, was COLD. COLD COLD COLD. The advantage this year was that instead of having to find a place to park and walk to the start, Jenny and I stopped by friends Sheri and Tom's apartment that's just a few blocks from the start. Standing in the apartment, looking out the window, we could see everyone gathering at the start. I did occur to me that a hot cup of coffee and watching the race from there was a better plan than leaving the warm, cozy spot and going outside. 

But, guilt - more than eagerness - got me out the door. Standing at the start I looked around to see if I knew anyone. I did, but not as many as I thought. It was a "younger" crowd. Twenty-somethings. Couples. Small groups. Social groups. Fun groups. This was clearly a holiday crowd. Out for a good time, if not a "good time". 

I met up with Vivian, a "running friend" that has helped with the Chicago Distance Classic since the very beginning of my involvement, and we agreed to stick together. I was planning on using a run 7/walk 1 strategy and my "hope" was to finish in under an hour. 

We talked, and laughed, and complained, and ran silently the way all good running friends do. As we approached the finish, seeing the 59 and change on our watches, we just smiled. We'd done it.

This was another "modern era" personal best for me. The February column will talk more about it, but I've given up on absolute PR's. But I'm ready to start thinking about some "modern era" PR's at various distances. I got my 5K MEPR [Modern Era Personal Record] in Toronto, and now have my MEPR at 8K. 

I'll look for a 10K this spring and then move to the 1/2 marathon and MAYBE a full. Stay tuned.

Waddle on,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Windy City

Just to set the record straight, the reason that Chicago is called "The Windy City" has nothing to do with weather; it has to do with politics. The politicians here talked so much, so the story goes, that Chicago was called The Windy City.

But, on today's run , which I have conveniently mapped for you, the city lived up to the name. This was the windiest run I've done in a long, long time. The curious part about running along the lakefront is that the wind comes at you from EVERY direction. Leaving the apartment I thought the wind was coming out of the north. Later it was blowing HARD from the south. And in between it was blowing even harder from the east.

The goal today was to run easy, but go a bit farther. I switched to a run 3/walk 2 interval just to keep me from going out too fast. [Please feel free to laugh at that] I actually used it because I wanted to be out there for over an hour and with the 3/2 I feel like I can run forever.

The wind made things interesting. The leaves have fallen so they were swirling around in the park. Even the geese were keeping their heads down. The run goes past both the Belmont and Diversey Marinas. As you would expect in November, most of the boats are gone. Most, but not all. There was some guy out there today trying to yank his boat out of the water.

And the fishing has begun in earnest. During the summer I think there's just too much boat traffic, even in the lagoon, for the fishing to be any good. Now, though, the die-hard "city" fishers are out at full strength. I actually saw I guy pulling something that looked like a fish out of the water. Not sure what it was - probably not Sea Bass - but he was happy.

I was introduced to my new editor at Runner's World yesterday. Introduced by email and phone. She sounds very nice and is a big fan of the column. That's ALWAYS a plus. Nearly every editor I've had over the years has done a great job. And nearly every one of them has understood the "penguin voice". It will be interesting to see what character she brings to the mix.

OK. Two blogs in one week. Maybe I can get used to this.

Waddle on, friends.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Old Dog, New Tricks

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who responded publicaly or privately to my last post. It was very encouraging to hear that YOU are out there reading. So, to coin a phrase, "The Blog's for YOU".

November is a bit of a hiatus for me. After being gone so much this fall, now is the time to get caught up. What that means is doing the kinds of routine tasks that everyone else has to do; get new glasses, get the car serviced, clean out the closet, etc. Those might not seem very exciting, but the chance to be "normal" for a few weeks is very relaxing.

Sunday, for example, I never left the apartment. I was able to sleep in - RARE for a Sunday - relax and watch an entire NASCAR race. We produce the Run to Victory for the Petty's and so I've got a personal interest in what kind of day Kyle Petty has. It's a bit complicated, but he needed to have a good finish to stay in the top 35 "owners points" so that he would be guaranteed a starting spot at next year's Daytona 500. It's worth - literally - hundreds of thousands of dollars and I'm happy to report that Kyle did it.

I'm working as much on weight management as I am hard-core training right now so I was able to do my "incline" walk on the treadmill while I watched the race. It may sound silly, but it is such a treat for me that I can hardly explain it.

I'm also trying to learn how to use some of the new technologies available to us as runners. I've written about running with an iPod and GPS on my wrists, but this mapping stuff is still a mystery. What's attached is my "4 Plus Lakefront" route. It's hard to tell, but this course runs right along the sea wall north of Belmont Harbor. Must runners - and all cyclist - stick to the path next to Lake Shore Drive. I like running closer to the water where it's less crowded.

It is kinda cool to map out the route. I think it will be really helpful when I'm on the road.

So, there we are. I BLOGGED THIS WEEK!

Thanks again for all the support. I'll see you out on the streets.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Catching up, and why I hate Blogging

I keep telling you - and myself - that I'm going to be better about this. I really mean to. But, it's a struggle. And I think I've got an idea why. You see, for the most part, I can't understand why ANYONE blogs. Most blogs - it seems to be - are either self-congratulatory puff, self-disclosuring emotional exibitionism, or political pontification designed to stir things up.

Case in point: I don't even remember they guy's name - and I probably wouldn't included it if I did - but this guy on starts into the whole runners and joggers nonsense and then mentions me BY NAME. Good grief. And, of course, the guy doesn't have his facts right, bemoans American distance running FORGETTING that Deena just broke the American women's marathon record and that - oh by the way - Ryan Hall just broke the American Olympic trials marathon record.

Anyway, it just wears me out.

THEN, a guy who I THOUGHT I admired, Martin Dugard, takes off on the whole "slow runners are destroying the marathon" nonsense on AGAIN, without having his facts straight. And THIS guy busts me by name but says he's NEVER read anything by me. Oh for Pete's SAKE.

So, I just don't get it. And I'm having a hard time wanting to clutter up the Web with MORE of what's WRONG.

THAT SAID: Since I was last here I've been to San Francisco for the Nike Women's marathon. It's a wonderful event. There's not that much more to say. If you haven't done it yet. Just Do It - to coin a phrase.

Since I wasn't running the event I had a chance to get out and do a little "exploring". I always run along the Embarcadero, but ususally run towards Fisherman's Wharf. This time, I went under the Oakland bridge and headed out that way. MUCH to my surprise I found myself running around AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. What a COOL looking park. I grew up watching baseball in Wrigley Field and like smaller ball parks.

The photo is where kayakers sit and wait for home run balls to come out of the park. Only in San Francisco.

Then it was off to the Marine Corps Marathon. For reasons that are STILL unclear to me, I decided to ride my motorcycle to Washington, DC. I knew I was going to spend a week with my son and his family, and then head to Randleman, NC to meet with the folks at the Victory Junction Gang Camp. SOMEHOW, I thought riding would be a good idea. I'd forgotten just how COLD it gets in late October and early November.

The grandkids - Ray, Hunter, and Siena - got a kick out of sitting on the bike. It reminded me of what my son's mom once told me - that Terry didn't need a bad influence in his life - he had ME. I don't know that I'm a bad influence, I'm just trying to be who I am and let the chips fall where they fall.

And, of course, I was there for Halloween. What a hoot. MAYBE the kids understand what's going on, but I doubt it. I think it's the parents having most of the fun. Hunter had his chicken suit on which, when you pressed a button, actually PLAYED the "Chicken Dance". We must have had him do the dance 50 times. It was great.

I'm home for a few weeks, so I WILL Blog again NO LATER THAN Tuesday.

Waddle on,