Posts Tagged ‘St. Patrick’s Day’

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.)


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?


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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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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From my archives . . .  a column I wrote in 2000 on another site that was actually plagiarized later by someone else.  It was either good or they were desperate.  Probably the latter.  But in the final analysis, I present it now because I am just too lazy to write a new one!

It's Beer! AND . . . it's green!

Not being Irish (I have never rooted for Notre Dame,) I simply cannot fathom the holiday tradition behind St. Patrick’s Day.  In an effort to become a more rounded individual, I ate several cream-filled doughnuts this morning—but I still don’t know anymore about this tradition than before I started.  So, I decided to do some research into St. Patrick’s Day, shamrocks, Ireland (did you know this was a country,) and green beer.  Normally, such research would be antithetical to the mission of my works, but I was on a sugar-high and feeling no pain (aside from a little gas and bloating.)  And besides . . . there’s beer!

ST. PATRICK—The patron saint of Ireland, who is rumored to have used the Shamrock as a symbol of the Trinity (wine, women and song.)  According to the legend, he drank a lot of green beer before having this revelation.  Also, there is the debatable issue as to whether St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland or not.  I tend to think one would need a few pints of green beer before embarking on such a task (I hate snakes, myself, and I surely wouldn’t chase them unless I were sufficiently liquored,) but there is a point at which too much green beer may cause the snakes to appear.  The world may never know the real answer, but if it drinks enough green beer, it won’t care.

COLLEEN—An Irish girl.  When you’re drunk, it’s easier to remember one name, than a bunch of individual names, so all young girls are called “Colleen.”  If it is an older woman, with gray hair and wrinkles—or just an ugly girl of any age—then she is called a “Collie.”  If she’s a little green, then she’s a “Collard.” If she’s really fat, then you call her a “Colossal.”  If it’s not funny, then you call it my “column.”

BLARNEY STONE—a legendary rock that is rumored to impart dirt on the lips of anyone who kisses it.  It follows in the kissing tradition of many peoples.  The Italian’s kiss the Godfather’s Ring, the British kiss the Queen’s derriere, Kamikaze’s kiss their asses good-bye, and West Virginian’s kiss their sisters.

POTATO FAMINE—this was a dark era in Irish history when all the potatoes were used to ferment alcohol leaving none for consumption as McFries.  After the hangovers wore off, they were able to go out and plant more potatoes.

O’LEARY—a word to denote skepticism, as in “I am just a wee bit o’leary about kissing that rock—you don’t know who has kissed it before you.”

SHAMROCK—literally a rock that is a sham, but for the sake of argument here, it is the symbol of a country known as Ireland.  The ontogenic phylogeny of this lucky herb traces back to the Club (one of the four traditional suits and an effective way to protect your car.)  The color was changed from black to green by St. Patrick and Chlorophyll (the Mother Superior) to distinguish it from the lesser, English-variety of Club described by Hoyle.  (I just ate another doughnut.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be chasing them down with Irish coffee.)


Mascot or movie monster . . you decide!

The LEPRECHAUN—this is a frightening, mythical creature that attacks humans in low-budget horror films.  Personally, I found the movie character less frightening than the Mike Myers (aka Wayne of Austin Powers’ World) impression of the leprechaun—he is far more frightening than the original character.  The Leprechaun is also the mascot of a small college in North or South Dakota–somewhere out there, over the rainbow, with a gold-painted dome and a once-great football team (once-great back in a time when there were no other football teams around.)

LUCK O’ the IRISH—let’s see, leprechaun’s running around killing people, potato famines, Ted Kennedy, and all the colleens running around kissing Blarney Stone (second cousin to, and not as cute as, Barney Rubble)—if it weren’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all . . .

KISS ME, I’M IRISH (or KISS ME, I’M WEARING GREEN)—buttons worn by people who actually think someone else would want to put their lips on the lips that have met the Blarney Stone.  Maybe if you wipe off the moss and apply some lip-gloss, we can talk.

ERIN GO BRAUGH—the Irish version of the Wonder bra.  It’ll support you longer than your husband can hold his beer.  It’s available in pastel green, only.  But, let’s just be honest here.  I’ve seen Erin, and she really doesn’t have anything to “braugh” about, now, does she?  Erin’s more a “collie” than a “colleen” and she should spend her time cutting some holes in a paper bag, if you know what I mean.  For crying out loud, there are Irish potatoes with better looking eyes.

CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE—a traditional Irish meal that can only be consumed after great quantities of green beer have been quaffed.  Here in America, we call it Maized beef and we are amaized that anyone eats it.  I was unsuccessful in my research as to exactly how the beef is corned.  Is it corn-fed, or is the corn used to prepare the beef in other ways?  Is it still on the ear, or is it kernelled first?  I suspect we don’t really want to know.  It’s hard to make fun of this dish, but not as hard as trying to keep it down.

WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILIN’—the keg has just been tapped.

CEAD MILE FAILTE—an old Irish saying that means 100,000 welcomes as in when you walk into an Irish bar and there seem to be at least 100,000 drunken Irishmen sitting at the bar.  (Or it just sounds like there are that many sitting at the bar, or littered on the floor beneath the barstools.)  Imagine the welcomes if you offer to buy the next round.

SHILLELAGH—a strong Irish whiskey best known for its side effects: Shillelagh, she’ll lay me.  Of course, if she’ll lay Lee, she’ll probably do it with anybody, and you can probably save yourself the cost of the drink.

GREEN BEER—a varietal of lager with a full body, a frothy head, and the ability to turn your urine green.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  Down a few pints of this, and you could take that bag off Erin’s head and kiss the Blarney stone.  (Don’t forget in your drunken state, to pick the moss out of your teeth.)

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