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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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One of the joys of running is that you get to see a lot of interesting things.

Take the neighborhood I run through each day.

There is a home owner who has taken it upon him or herself to establish parking codes for the development.

NoParking

I’m not sure this is legal, or even enforceable.  I’m sure there must be some story behind this (the guy I run with says it involves a neighbor who was having some work done on his home and construction vehicles being parked in front of this particular house.)  Regardless, the sign screams to me:  THANK GOD YOU DON’T LIVE HERE!  Seriously, who would want to deal with this every day?!

But I never saw anyone park there.

Until today.

truck

I don’t even know where to begin.

The white tarp that looks like a bedsheet?

My truck isn’t parking . . .  it’s just sleeping!

Maybe they won’t see it if I cover it up.

You’re going to need a bigger tarp, Chief Brody!

Pay no attention to that truck behind the curtain!

I’m not a bad truck . . . just a very poor wizard.

Waving hand . . . This is NOT the truck you’re looking for.

But it gave me a smile on my run today.

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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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After watching Penn State lose to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl, I decided to go out for a late afternoon run to burn off some frustration and holiday sweets.  I am usually a morning runner, but I slept in.  I planned on running 6-7 miles, and surely I could get it in before dark.

Please don’t call me Shirley.

I was visiting this weekend and running in unfamiliar territory.  Being not far from Valley Forge National Park, and having run part of it a few days ago, I thought this would be a good place to run.  There appeared to be a nice loop on the map which looked about 6-7 miles.  What could go wrong?

This same question was asked by James Franklin and the Redcoats.  Neither fared well, and neither did I for that matter.  The plan looked great on paper.

Everything went well for the first five miles, until I reached a point which on the map below, corresponds to a covered bridge.

The bridge was closed for repairs, and so was the nice little blue path I had been following.

I was at the red circle.  I was parked at the green square.  I was as far from my car as I could get, and I could not go any further.

Valley-Forge-1

At this point, I had three choices.  One, I could turn around and head back the way I had come.  This would have put me in the 8-10 mile range which was a little longer than I really wanted to do.  The advantage, though, was that I would be traversing known ground.

The second option was to take a trail which ran along the same river as the blue paved path.  I hadn’t bothered to bring a map, but this same map was posted alongside the road before entering the trail.

The third option was to curl up in a fetal position and suck my thumb, waiting for a park ranger to come and rescue me.

Valley-Forge-2

Alas, I opted for the dotted line trail.  It didn’t look too bad.  Besides, it was getting dark and my mind was still numb from Penn State’s loss.

I made a mistake.

The trail climbed a mountain.  I was weaving in and out of trees, roots and rocks as the sun was disappearing and the already dimly lit woods was getting darker.  Each step brought me closer to a difficult choice:  turn around and go back, an ever longer alternative as I continued forward to what I hoped was the warmth and comfort of my jeep.  But I could sense lions, tigers and bears rustling in the underbrush around me, waiting for me to collapse into an asthma attack with the elevation, or in the fetal position sucking my thumb and waiting for a park ranger to rescue me.

Either way, I was wondering if I would ever get home.  I wasn’t even sure this stupid dotted trail would cross the water or if I was even going in the right direction anymore.

Just as the westering sun was setting, the trail headed back down Mount Krumpet and eventually deposited me on Route 23.  A welcome sight came into focus.  A bridge!  And on the other side–a paved trail that headed back to Washington’s Chapel.

I was saved!  I lived to get lost another day!  I wonder if Washington ever considered collapsing into the fetal position, sucking his thumb?

Probably not.

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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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Scrolling down Facebook, I came across an add for compression socks for runners.

SeussRunners

I see this, and immediately, my mind isn’t thinking running socks, it’s thinking Dr. Seuss.

WhoVille

Every Who down in Whoville liked Running a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville – did not. The Grinch hated Running – the whole Running season. Now, please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were laced tight. Or it could be his shorts chafed and didn’t fit him quite right. But I think that the most likely reason of all… may have been that his Asics were two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, his shorts or his shoes, he stood there on Race Day hating the Whos. 

I certainly don’t hate running, but why on God’s earth  would I wear something that looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss or trendy in Munchkin Land?

I fully understand visibility, particularly if you run in the dark.  But seriously?  These things are visible from space!  They hurt your eyes!  I’m an eye doctor.  I should know.  And drivers might be laughing so hard they still run you over like the Wicked Witch of the East.

You have no running power here.  Be gone!  Before someone runs a car over you too!

I tried the whole clown shoe thing–you know what I’m talking about–those shoes that try to use every color in a Crayola set of 64 and were probably designed by the owner’s 3-year-old daughter in preschool.  The experiment failed primarily because they weren’t comfortable.  But the gaudy color thing is just not me.  It is actually getting harder and harder to find shoes that only have one or two colors, and don’t glow in the dark as if they were manufactured in Chernobyl.

In running, function and comfort should trump everything.  But do we have to sacrifice good taste?

Do we want our sport to end up like this?

AlCzervik

Nice thing about these clothes? I can play 18 holes and then jog 13 miles without changing!

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Eye doctors in picture may appear shorter than they actually are!

Eye doctors in picture may appear shorter than they actually are!

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