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Today I competed in my second Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

PM2016Logo

By “competed,” I mean I tried to 1) finish, 2) without injury or embarrassment, and 3) with a better time than last year.  I managed the trifecta!

With an official time of 1:49:05 (pace=8:19) I came in 1305th place overall, and 51st in my age group (50-54.)  51 years old and I came in 51st.  Kinda cool.  This outpaced last years race with an overall time of 1:50:46 (pace = 8:26) and an overall place of 1802 which put me 72nd in my age group.

I’m not sure how many half marathon runners there were, but let’s just say there were a lot.  I lost count, oh, about 10 yards into the race.  (According to the website, there were 14,127 in the half marathon and 3,681 places in the marathon.)

The weather started out iffy, and it drizzled/rained for the first couple of miles.

RunningRain

IF IT RAINS, YOU RUN.  IF IT THUNDERS, YOU RUN FASTER.

It was actually a little refreshing, but it became a little humid after the rain stopped.   At the last minute,  I switched from a T-shirt to a long sleeved shirt.  Mistake.  Should have trusted my weather.com temperature predictions!  Instead, I looked out the window of my hotel and saw a lot of people wearing long sleeved shirts and light windbreakers.  Psyched myself out.  It’s kind of like reviewing your answers on a test and changing a correct one at the last moment because of second guessing.  Oh well.

I seemed to be the most popular runner.  I kept hearing, over and over again, “GO TODD!”  Now, I did have an ear bud playing music in one ear, and there was a lot of background race noise, so it is slightly possible that these folks were yelling “GOOD JOB!”, but I think they were cheering me on.

One sign read:  “IF TRUMP CAN RUN, SO CAN YOU!”  Thought that was pretty funny right there.

TrumpRun

Not from this race . . . . too much SUN!

Another one said “SHORTCUT” with an arrow pointing away from the main course.  I thought about it, but it seemed a little questionable, especially since the arrow looked like it pointed to a parking lot.  Maybe they offered a shuttle service to the finish line?  Had it pointed to a bar offering free beer, I’d have gone for it.

And, as I passed a group of young women sporting Nittany Lion logos on the back of their tank tops, I said “GO PENN STATE!” as I passed them.  A guy running next to me then yelled, “Penn State!  Let’s hear it.”  So someone else started yelling “WE ARE!”  and a chorus of “PENN STATE!” ensued.  After three cheers, the cheerleader yelled “THANK YOU!” and we all politely responded, “YOU’RE WELCOME!”

Never had that happen in a race before.

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BSR2015

This race combines three of my loves:  1) running, 2) the Paterno family, and 3) Beaver Stadium.  The fact that it benefits Special Olympians is just icing on the cake.

But I need your help.

I’m okay with the running part.  Three miles is a warm up for me.  I don’t even need you to bring me water.  Or bananas.  (Beer and donuts would be great, but I don’t NEED that!)  I don’t need you to stand on the sideline and cheer me on, but you are welcome if you so desire.

No–what I need is your financial support.  I have set a goal to raise $1200.00 for Special Olympics. As of writing this blog, I have raised $745.00.

If you can afford it, and think the Special Olympics is a great cause, then donate in my name at my home page.

I thank you for your support!

Here is a photo of me crossing the finish line last year just to prove I can do it!

BSR2015FinishLine

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I have signed up for the annual 3 mile Beaver Stadium Run, which courses through State College and ends at the 50 yard line of Beaver Stadium.  Proceeds from the race benefit Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, and the run is sponsored by the Paterno family.

BSR2015

This race combines three of my loves:  1) running, 2) the Paterno family, and 3) Beaver Stadium.  The fact that it benefits Special Olympians is just icing on the cake.

But I need your help.

I’m okay with the running part.  Three miles is nothing to me.  I don’t even need you to bring me water.  Or bananas.  (Beer and donuts would be great, but I don’t NEED that!)  I don’t need you to stand on the sideline and cheer me on, but you are welcome if you so desire.

No–what I need is your financial support.  I have set a goal to raise $1000.00 for Special Olympics. As of writing this blog, I have raised $260.00.

If you can afford it, and think the Special Olympics is a great cause, then donate in my name at my home page.

I thank you for your support!

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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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Yesterday I ran a half marathon, which if you don’t already know is 13.1 miles.

Why?

That is a very good question that I wish I could answer without sounding like I’m insane or something.

A marathon is a race consisting of 26.2 miles.  Apparently a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (before cars, rockets and rickshaws) a soldier/messenger ran 26 or so miles non-stop to deliver news that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon.  Apparently, this was also before cell phones, telegraphs and homing pigeons.  The messenger gave the news–“We Won”–before collapsing and dying.

So people that don’t want to collapse and die run a half marathon of 13.1 miles instead.

But why did I run this race?

I am a runner, which means that I put on outfits and expensive colorful shoes that you otherwise wouldn’t wear in public–call it a uniform if you will–and I run around for no apparent reason (as in being chased by a bear, having my hair or clothes on fire, missing a bus, or following the ice cream/beer truck.)  I do this for exercise and because I am mentally unstable loathe weightlifting, swimming, biking, gyms, and pretty much every other form of physical activity beyond golf, bowling, and chess.

The marathon is to the runner what Mt. Everest is to the mountain climber, the World Series is to the baseball player or the all-you-can-eat smorgasbord is to the hungry man.

The half-marathon is a mountain half as high as Everest (too lazy to Google one up), just making the team to the baseball player, and McDonald’s to the hungry man.

This was not about proving anything to myself or the world.  I have already run more than 13 miles in the past.  I already knew I could do it.

I have only run three races before–two 5K’s and a 15K–for various reasons that I couldn’t explain well either.

The main reason I ran this race is that the guy I run with on weekends wanted to run this race–he also does triathlons, but as noted above, I don’t do the cycling or swimming thing.  Since he couldn’t drag me kicking and screaming talk me into a triathlon, he settled on tricking me talking me into a half marathon.  Of course, the week before the race he informs me that he forgot he will be out of town in Las Vegas.  I had already signed up on-line early, so I figured I might as well still run the race.  It was as good a reason as I could come up with.

After the 5K charity races I ran, there were goodies to eat.  Sure, they had some water bottles and bananas, but this is what I was running for:

Lemon-flavored Heaven

Lemon-flavored Heaven

Do you think they had vanilla cream whoopee pies after a half-marathon?  No.  Beer?  NO!  Doughnuts?  A thousand times NO!

I ran 13.1 miles and all I got was a bottle of water, a banana and this shirt:

Half_Marathon

I ran off my legs for this?

In case you are wondering, I ran 13.1 miles in one hour and fifty one minutes and twenty seconds, for an average pace of 8:29.  I finished 67th overall in a crowd of I don’t know how many really young looking people.  Seriously, I think I saw only three people that looked older than me.  They didn’t have the times broken down into age groups, but I figure I must be in the old fart category.  Or maybe the pre-coffin group.

Would it have killed them to have some cream-filled doughnuts alongside the bananas?  I earned a doughnut for God sakes!  My on-line training program calculated that I burned 1667 calories!  I need me some banana-flavored ice cream!  (They did have yogurt, but like biking, I don’t do that.)  They also had some healthy vegetable wraps.  Yeah right.  I just ran half way from Marathon to Athens, and this is my reward?  That’s like a kid at Christmas hoping for a Red Rider BB gun and ending up with some socks instead.

How about some beer?  I’d settle for a light beer.  One little glass.  Personally, I wish they offered beer stops along the way instead of water stations.  I think more people would sign-up for the race (although probably fewer would finish, but is that really a problem?)

The next race I enter better have some doughnuts waiting for me.

 

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My First Race

Although I have been running fairly consistently since 2001, I have never actually run in a race.

I leave my house.  I run around like an idiot for a while, and then I come back home.

But on St. Patrick’s Day, I headed off for the sprawling metropolis of Newry, PA (pop. 245 if you count the cars travelling through as well) for a 5K race to benefit St. Patrick’s Parish and school.  I’m not really sure why running races are generally listed in kilometers rather than miles, but the end result is that for those of us who generally measure our distances in miles, we have no idea how far that is.

Apparently, it is 3.1 miles.  Would it kill them to just have a three-mile race?

When I go out and run, I run for six miles.  Or seven miles.  If I’m short on time, it might be three or four miles.  But it isn’t 6.2 miles (10K) or 3.1 miles.  What the hell am I supposed to do with that 0.1 mile anyway?  It’s like adding insult to injury.  You’ve just run like a bear’s been chasing you for three miles, and now you have to go another 0.1 mile?  Why?  Apparently the bear hasn’t given up and is on the metric system.

Anyway, I am new to this race thing.  A race virgin if you will.  I show up at the registration table and get my packet, which includes a map of the race route and a number to pin on my shirt, either to identify my body later or perhaps to allow me to find sponsors like they do in NASCAR.

Here’s Todd, running in number 118, sponsored by Viagra.  I’m glad I didn’t wear the spandex shorts this morning.

I also got a green T-shirt with the race logo on the front and the race sponsors on the back.  My office sponsored this race, and sure enough, our name is there.  They even spelled ophthalmology right.

Green shirt but no green beer!

There’s also a little plastic card with holes–a chip.  You apparently tie this to your shoe and it tracks your time from when you cross the starting line until when you finish.  For some reason, it made me feel like Lindsay Lohan.  I was afraid if I strayed too far from the race, I’d set off an alarm and get arrested.  Or shocked.  Or both.

So I managed to tie the plastic chip on my shoe and pin my number on my shirt without drawing blood.  I am all ready to go.

There is no gun to start the race.  I really wanted a gun.  But alas, there was a guy with a bull horn yelling “runners, set, go!”

And we went.

It was like Black Friday at Wal-Mart or the mall at Christmas time when one small shipment of the latest techno gadget must be distributed amongst 30,000 angry customers who were in line since last Christmas to get it.

180 runners all start running at different speeds in the same general direction.  Whose bright idea was this?

I didn’t know where to start.  Should I try to be at the beginning, and risk getting run over by some 18-year-old track star, or should I start at the back, and work my way past grandmothers in wheelchairs.  There was a miniature dachshund running the race, I kid you not.  If you figure his little legs move him about three inches per step, his little paws had to work 65,472 times to complete the race, which the little guy did.  My dachshund walks a mile and a half and his tongue drags on the ground if he doesn’t keep his head up.  But I digress.

I came in second in the men’s 40-49 age group, which is odd given that I am only 39 and will continue to be for some time.  My race time was 24:24 by my GPS watch.  I got a faux silver medal for my effort.

Aw shucks. It's even got little runners on it.

For someone who has never run a race, never really specifically trained for a race and doesn’t know what to do with that extra 0.1 mile, I considered the result a success.  I generally run 7 miles in about an hour, so my time was a little better than I usually do.  I really had no training regimen.  I kept running my usual schedule.  The only speed work I do is when a dog chases me.  I don’t know a fartlek from a furlong.  I do think that farting helps you along–jet propulsion so to speak, and it keeps annoying runners from drafting too close behind you.

After the race, there were refreshments (I couldn’t find a drop of green beer, much to my dismay) and some eats that were quite good.  The weather was great, the racers all seemed very nice, and it was for a good cause.

The age-group results can be seen here, although they don’t have my bib number listed correctly.  Overall, I came in 35th overall out of 168 runners.

Maybe my next race, I’ll try a 10K.

But what will I do with that extra 0.2 mile????

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