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You would think that with those long legs I would win every race!

Shadow

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The past week I had the opportunity to go running on Hilton Head Island, in the Sea Pines area mainly.  The weather was fantastic, although perhaps a bit more humid than one would choose for running.  After the winter we had in central PA, I will not complain about heat or humidity!

This was a typical view while running:

HiltonHead

The Sea Pines Resort area had an elaborate maze of biking/running trails that wound along the roadway system and golf courses.

Trails

This made running really enjoyable until . . . .

STOP

Thou shalt not pass! (DO NOT collect $200)

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  A STOP sign for pedestrians?

STOPcloseup

Well!  Isn’t that special?!  Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and the right of way to the two ton death machine instead of the helpless pedestrian or biker.  Who came up with this idea?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there were still thoughtful drivers who would come to a stop to allow bikes, runners and walkers to pass.  The problem was, the cars behind said Good Samaritan weren’t always ready to stop–they weren’t expecting it, especially if they were local and used to this cockamamie hierarchy of right-of-way privileges.  Worse yet, one lane of traffic would stop, which they didn’t have to, but the other lane wouldn’t.  This was problematic when a small child on a bike started forward  because the nearest lane stopped, not realizing the other lane wasn’t stopping.  I saw this happen numerous times.

I have to be honest.  I ran many of these STOP signs.  Literally.  Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  A Hilton Head cop finally pulled me over.

I tried to explain.  “I slowed down officer.”

He wasn’t impressed.  “You were supposed to STOP.”

“But I slowed down, ” I protested.

He then pulled out his nightstick and started beating me.

As I’m writhing in pain, he asks, “So!  Do you want me to slow down, or do you want me to STOP?”

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Running to the Music

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if there was a background score of music playing, like in the movies?

This blog is alive, with the sound of music

This blog is alive, with the sound of music

Just as something bad is about to happen–you would know it!  The music would get low and foreboding.  People would just break out into song, instead of honking their horns or trying to hit you with a shopping cart.

(To the music of Memory from Cats)

Left lane,

Is for cars that are passing,

And for making a left turn,

Not for ambling along.

I remember

A time driver’s knew what etiquette was

Leave the left lane, flow again.

But alas, our lives are not scored musically.  Except when I run.

I almost always run with music; the exceptions being when I am running with someone else and it would be just rude to shut them out and ignore them, and when my iPod battery dies.  Don’t you just hate that!

This past week, the temperatures here in central Pennsylvania (which stands for Penn’s frozen woods) have been in the single digits in the morning when I usually run, with wind chills often below zero.

And there I am, running across snow and ice as Glenn Frey’s The Heat is On plays in my ear.  The director of this score has a sense of humor.

Today, though, Queen Elsa sang Let It Go . . . . and I ran on because the cold never really bothered me anyway.

frozencold

Yes, I have an eclectic mix of music for running.  A lot of the music is from the 80’s, but includes TV Themes songs such as The Odd Couple, Friends, Lost in Space, and Gilligan’s Island (you never know when a run might end up being a three hour tour!), show tunes (such as Phantom of the Opera descending into the labyrinth), and more recent music such as my lady Katy Perry.

Also on my run this morning, Star Wars by Meco came on, and all of a sudden, I was no longer running in Pennsylvania, but on the Ice Planet of Hoth, on the muscular legs of a tauntaun.  (Hey!  the only muscles I have are in my legs, my mouth and the fingers that type.  The rest of me is more like C3PO or a poorly drawn stick figure.)

I like music with a beat–it keeps you going when you are are putting one foot in front of the other.  But the beat and the bass (it’s NOT all about that bass and I do not have that song in the playlist!) should not be overpowering (think heavy metal and head banging music.)  The beat should complement the melody; not try to kill it in a bloody battle.

Some of the tunes remind me of my childhood, such as the TV themes.  They may not make me run faster, but somehow they make me feel younger.  And yes, I have We are Young by Fun.  Sometimes, I pick songs just because I like them, not necessarily because they have a strong beat or make me feel younger.  Some of the songs on my iPod were sung by girls I had crushes on back in the day–Debbie Gibson, Susanna Hoffs, Debbie Harry, and Belinda Carlisle.  Yeah, who am I kidding–I still have those crushes and that’s why Katy Perry is on the playlist now.

My favorite songs to run to:  Major Tom , Believe, I Will Survive, Lawyers in Love, Bad Romance, The Theme from Gremlins, the original Hawaii 5-0 theme, and Wizards in Winter (by the Trans Siberian Orchestra.)

I know there are some other runners out there.  What’s on your playlist?????

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I should host my own cable show . . . Ice Road Runners (Ice Road Truckers)  . . . or maybe Man vs. Nature (Man vs. Food or Man vs. Wild.)

The need to run in the cold weather is the summation of three primary vector forces coming together as one.  First, I love to run.  Second, I hate the dreadmill or running indoors.  And third, I live in central Pennsylvania, not far from the home of Punxsutawney Phil.

I foresee more winter . . .and snow FOREVER!

I foresee more winter . . .and snow FOREVER!

One might also argue that a little bit of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder or run-of-the-mill insanity plays a role here, but I’m not sure why people think those things about me.

Running in the winter presents a number of new challenges that our running brethren in Florida, Arizona and Texas do not need to worry about.

Perhaps first and foremost is the issue of traction.  Running shoes meeting ice do not generally end in good results.  There is no way to throw it into four wheel drive when you are only ever running on two wheels.  And while the snow may look soft and fluffy, the ground beneath it is HARD.  I have tried several traction devices over the years, one from North Face that you slip on–but they kept coming off!) and I tried screwing sheet metal screws into the bottom of an old pair of running shoes . . .

screwshoes

The problem with the latter, is that under most running conditions, I am not always on snow or ice.  The removable cleats are better for running where you might go from road, to trail, to sidewalk and back to road at irregular intervals, with varying levels of ice, snow or no precipitation.  Also, I always felt like I could feel the ends of the screws coming up at my feet–it might have been in my head, but I just didn’t like it.

My favorite to date is Kahtoola NANOspikes, which are removable, but seem to stay on my shoes better than the other product.  I recommend these for the runner who must traverse icy conditions.  I think I could jog laps on a skating rink with these on!

Four-wheel drive for your feet!

Four-wheel drive for your feet!

But in addition to traction, there is another issue of equal or greater importance . . . the temperature.  It’s cold in winter.  When I got up this morning, it was -2 degrees F.  The wind was howling with chills estimated at -15 to -22 deg F .  It was actually about 5 degrees at noon when I headed out, but the wind chill was still subzero.

The key to dressing in winter is LAYERS.  I start with a Nike DriFit tank, followed by a Nike DriFit long sleeve.  These are wicking shirts that allow moisture to wick away from your skin.  The only thing worse than being cold is being cold AND WET.  And even at zero degrees, if you are running, you will SWEAT.  In fact, you will generate enough heat that you should dress as if the ambient temperature is about 20 degrees warmer than it really is.  You should feel cold when you start, because you will warm-up as your muscles generate heat.

I next add an UnderArmour cold gear shirt which is heavier than the first two layers, but also wicking.  And on top, I use either a Nike jacket or the pullover (a Pittsburgh Penguin pullover made by Antigua) you see in the following series . . .

Layers!  Not just for cake anymore!

Layers! Not just for cake anymore!

Fortunately for you, there was no room for the final image in this running game of strip poker which I seemed to keep losing.  At 5 degrees with subzero wind chills, I also wore three pair of gloves, a UA balaclava and a warm running hat also made by UA.  There are different styles of balaclavas and this type can be pulled up over one’s mouth, but I am a mouth breather when I run, and I find it gets too wet and icy if I cover my mouth.  Some people opt for a ski mask with eye holes, but it makes me feel like I am a bank robber running away from the scene of a crime if I wear something like that!

Layering also gives one the option of removing layers if the temperature rises or you simply overestimated how cold it would be.  I actually felt warm at times (sun was out, and when the wind wasn’t blowing in my face!)   My left eyelid froze to my cornea, but I microwaved some artificial tears when I got home and melted that baby off in no time!  Please do not try this at home–I am a trained eye professional!  (Ok, my cornea wasn’t really frozen–I made all that up, and please do not put hot drops in your eyes and never microwave your eyedrops!)

I do not wear any special socks, and in fact, I prefer thin wicking socks.  I wore my regular socks and my feet were not cold, but that is me.  If you suffer with cold feet, there are thermal socks you can invest in.

There is a certain satisfaction in overcoming the elements, like a mountain climber beating Everest or a rock climber successfully ascending (insert a challenging rock climbing mountain here.)  I would much rather be running in Phoenix at 120 dry degrees, but that was not an option this morning.

And my nose will thaw out by spring.  Which should come sometime in the next six months.  I hope.

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To keep from getting arrested!ChickenRoad

Have you read about the woman in Whitehouse, TX, who was arrested (tackled and handcuffed) for walking on the wrong side of the road.

So basically, she is walking on the wrong side of the road.  A cop pulls up on a motorcycle and starts asking her questions, such as “are you from around here?”  She thinks he’s flirting and she’s uncomfortable.  (I don’t think he asked her what her sign was or if she walked there often.)  She continues to walk.  He continues to follow her on his police cycle.  Maybe he’s not a cop.  She runs.  He tackles.  Cuffs her.

Sound like a case of over-zealous police brutality?

Sounds like a case of someone who should have been smart enough to know which side of the road to walk on!

I’m sorry, folks, but I gotta side with the cops on this one.  This is a pet peeve of mine, as a runner.  You can argue whether his “arrest” of her was necessary or extreme, but the bottom line here is she was breaking the law, and it’s NOT SAFE.

I was taught in kindergarten that you walk and run AGAINST traffic if there is no sidewalk available.  You bicycle WITH traffic and not on sidewalks.  We also learned about stop, drop and roll if you catch fire while walking against traffic, and that eating crayons or paste is not good for you, especially if you are on fire and on the wrong side of the street.

If you are running, jogging, or just walking Fido, and you are on the right side of the street, then you cannot see the cars coming behind you.  You have no idea if they see you and if they are going to hit you.  You might get clipped by a mirror.

If you are walking on the left side of the street, you can see the on-coming traffic.  You can make eye contact with them.  You can tell if they see you or if they are busy texting.  If they don’t see you, you can get out of the way.

I am amazed by the number of adults who walk or run on the wrong side of the street.  Maybe they’re from England.   It makes me want to tackle them and handcuff them.  (Not because they’re English, but because they’re too stupid to know which side of the street to be walking on!)  Well, if I’m in a bad mood, I’ll at least yell at them to get over on the other “proper” side.  I usually get a confused look in return.  Maybe they are immigrants.  But I get that a lot.  And I digress.

In Pennsylvania, the pedestrian law is the same as Whitehouse, TX:

PAlaw

However, even if there is a shoulder to walk on, safety considerations generally would favor walking/running against traffic.  Vehicles frequently drift off the side of the road accidentally if the driver isn’t paying attention.  There may be instances when traffic patterns, or the presence of structures like bridge abutments, retaining walls or the presence of road construction dictates walking with traffic as being safer, but for the most part, you should run against traffic.

Let’s be safe out there.

 

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America may run on Dunkin, but in Raleigh, they run for Krispy Kremes.

It’s called the Krispy Kreme Challenge, which originated in Raleigh, when some NC State students got hungry and ran 2.5 miles to the Krispy Kreme.  They got their donuts and ran back.  The rest is history.

That may not be exactly how it happened, but the current Krispy Kreme Challenge is a 2.5 mile run to the Krispy Kreme.  You then eat TWELVE Krispy Kreme Donuts–2400 calories!–and then you run back 2.5 miles.  The 10th annual run for the donuts raised $200,000 for the NC Children’s hospital!

I am so there.

I love running.

I love eating Krispy Kremes!  (I cried when the Altoona, PA Krispy Kreme closed.  It was . . .sorry.  Give me a minute.  It was . . .It was emotional . . .I . . .I’m sorry.  I still can’t talk about it.)

As my readers know, I’m really bummed when I finish a race and there’s nothing but bananas and turkey wraps to eat.

Hand me a box of Krispy Kreme donuts and I’ve died and gone to Heaven!

It apparently is a challenge, because you have to complete the five miles and 12 donuts in ONE HOUR.

This is going to take some serious training.

I mean, I’m going to have to start slow.  One mile and maybe two donuts.  Run another mile.  Work up from there.  This could take months and a bazillion calories.  But where am I going to find Krispy Kremes up here along the arctic circle in Pennsylvania????

This is definitely going to take some planning.

Here’s a diagram of the donut interchange:

DonutRun

Pick up donuts. Eat donuts. Drink water. Run to Law Office. Sue yourself for stupidity.

Look at the boxes of donuts on the tables!

This could be me!  Except for the orange Virginia shirt.  And much older.  Older.  Really older.

This could be me! Except for the orange Virginia shirt. And much older. Older. Really older.

There are definitely strategies to study here.  One blogger wrote about her husband’s participation.  He used gloves (butt inspection gloves!) to avoid sugar hands!  Sugar Hands!  I would never have thought about that!

Some runners flatten the donuts in a stack–like pancakes.   Others wad them up into a single donut mass.  How will I ever know what works best for me?  I’ll have to try them all!

Thank God I have a year to train for this!

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For the third year in a row, I braved the March weather and public humiliation to run in the St. Patrick’s Day race in Newry, PA.

Newry.  Population 270.

Dots on map may appear larger than they actually are.

Cities on map may appear larger than they actually are.

It’s a small town and a small race (116 runners this year.)  I’m fine with that.  I don’t like races where you feel like a Christmas shopper on black Friday trying to get one of the limited number of whatever gifts happen to be the hottest item that year (usually the one they are making the fewest of but advertising the most.)

pumpkingob

Worth running for!

I also like this race because they have Mrs. Grove’s pastries.  This year, they had a pumpkin gob.  I personally liked the lemon gob last year better, but it beats a banana or a turkey wrap any day!  And Mrs. Grove makes the best cinnamon rolls in Altoona, especially if you get the peanut butter icing!  There were none of those at the finish line.  😦

I need to find a race that has Krispy Kremes at the finish line.  I’m sure that would take a minute off my time if I was running for one of those heavenly wonders.

As it was, I ran the race in 23:19, a new personal record for me, and good enough to place 19th overall, and first in my age group.  My age group never seems to match up with my stated age of 39–apparently my birth certificate looks older than I do.

Anyway, I’m running the race.  I have a separate play list of faster songs to run by that I use for short races.  The weather was better this year than last–no rain/mist or slippery roads–but still rather cold at 41 degrees, not counting a bit of wind.  As I’m coming down the last mile, there are two male runners in front of me.  One passed me not so long ago, and I am no longer listening to the music.  Rather, I am trying to calculate the ages of these two runners.

Hmmm.  I’m pretty sure the other looks a little older, but it is awful close.  The other one could be a little younger.  Maybe a little older.  Probably right around my age.

With the finish line looming–I think my GPS watch just signaled three miles of the 3.11 mile run, so time is indeed running out.  Actually, distance is running out, and time is the variable here.  I don’t think I really heard it.  I sensed it.  Like a disturbance in the Force.

If I keep my pace, and either or both of these runners are in my age range, then I’m doomed to second or third and maybe worse.  (I have two silver medals from the previous two years.)

So I picture that lemon gob in my mind and pretend that there might be some green beer to wash it down (there wasn’t, but my brain at this point isn’t getting as much oxygen as my lungs labor to keep my feet moving.)  I kick things into a higher gear and pass both of them right at the final turn.  One block to go!

At this point I can see the finish line.  It’s like I’m running in slow motion, but I think it’s just the lack of brain oxygen and the fact that I don’t run all that fast to begin with.

I don’t hear anything because of my labored breathing and my heart pounding in my ears, but I run on.  I am flying now, all knees and elbows like an albatross on cocaine with his tail on fire.

Okay, I’ll wait till you process that image in your mind.

If I die, I hope there are lemon gobs and Krispy Kremes in Heaven.  And green beer.  Any colored beer.  At this point, I’m not that picky.  I just want to live long enough to cross that finish line.

Which I do.

It turned out that both the guys behind me, beaten by 5 and 9 seconds respectively, are both older than I am and in the next age group.  I didn’t need to pass them after all!  Interestingly, I would have also won the 39 age group as well.

I got my gold medal, a nice T-shirt and a door prize.  What am I going to do with a door?

OldDoor

Alas, I didn’t win a door.  I won 4 tickets to an Altoona Curve baseball game!

All in all, a great day!

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