Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The beginnings of

One theory I've heard about sticking to a goal is to tell as many people about it so you can't back out. I'm now at that point with my 48 miles in 48 hours challenge. I've talked with people at law school and some other friends and bloggers. If they won't run the whole thing, they'll at least run a segment with me.

At this point, I'm planning to run 6 8-mile segments over 2 days in a yet to be determined weekend in October (based on company and midterm schedule).

I created a web site for this challenge to keep you posted on all the goings on. It's appropriately titled Nothing like a domain name that just says what it is. At this point, it only has two entries but will grow as more information becomes available.

I've started to post on the site to keep visitors updated and I'm starting a Facebook group (oh my!), so if you're on Facebook and interested in it, let me know and I'll "friend you".

Of course, I'll continue to keep this site up to date with general training, mileage and progress as I always have.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Running at a conversational speed

I've been running with a friend a couple of days a week while I'm across the pond. She hasn't been running as consistently as I have and she runs at a slower pace and can't run as far, but I've been enjoying the company. Having trained for the entire marathon alone, it's just nice being able to run with someone and chat a bit during the jog.

Since I'm running at a 1 minute/mile slower pace and not for as long as I normally do, I've been quite conversational. I've talked about classes, traveling, pretty much whatever comes to mind. She'd respond a bit but generally they weren't long responses.

I decided to ask if the conversation was bothersome. Turns out: yepper. I'm not straining myself much with the run in speed or distance so I'm treating it more like a chat while I happen to be moving faster than normal. She's treating it (and properly so) as a run and she's out of breath.

It's a good reminder for me to be aware of the needs of my running partner and how my interaction may affect their training. We're certainly not in training, but it's important nonetheless to be sensitive to their pace and what they're looking to get out of it.

All that said, I'm quite happy that I can carry on full conversations at a 9:30/m pace for more than 4 miles. Certainly makes me feel good about the level of fitness I've achieved. Running yesterday at that pace, I felt like I could have run forever.

I ran later in the week with another friend who tends to run shorter distances at a faster pace. His first mile was around 7:45 and I was hurting a bit as we navigated through the streets to get to Lough (pictured left), a small lake in Cork. He slowed down in the subsequent miles so I was able to keep a better pace and stay with him, even besting him on the hills. I did get an idea of what my other friend was feeling though. I certainly didn't make much conversation running a 7:45 mile.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Keeping your travels in your sneakers

During my morning run in Amsterdam earlier this week in my new Brooks (pictured left), I got to thinking about the places these shoes have gone and where they'll go.

It was rainy on Monday and I was running in the gravel/sand, so that's still on my shoes. I ran through some mud in Cork and on gravel in Concord. My sneakers have become a passport of sorts and are records of where I've been.

It's similar to finding sand in your suitcase from that beach trip you took last year. When you see the sand, you're immediately taken back to the day out on the beach when the weather was perfect, the seagulls were overhead and life just seemed to slow to a stop.

A week from now I'll be back in Concord. I'll get back to my routine and back to school. I'll start to run in the heat and through the trails and parks in the area. But wherever I go, I'll keep a piece of Amsterdam and Cork and the other parts of Ireland that I'll still venture to. My shoes will remember where I've been.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Doing errands while you run

I ran errands during part of one of my runs last week. I ran with friend who needed to pick up tickets to the Cork City football match (soccer, for those of you in the States) and she had to pick up stamps and mail some postcards. We made this part of our journey as we went out for 3 or 4 miles around the city.

It's insignificant really, but I couldn't get over how much I enjoyed the practice. I wasn't getting in a car and driving 10 minutes down the road. I was doing my errands on foot and as part of a workout. Back in Concord, I'm 6 miles away from downtown and further away from other errands (including a highway), so it's difficult to do it then. But it does make sense and it's incredibly fun to do.

I like the fact that it gives me purpose in my runs--more than just running in a circle or back-and-forth to get mileage in. What does create a problem is the amount of sweat that I create and the nastiness in how I look when I get there. That means that if I do start this practice back home that I'll either need to make the errands short, the deodorant stronger or my shirts darker, or a combination thereof.

Plus, I get the benefit of hugging a tree as I go because I'm not using a car. There's nothing more reassuring than bark, I always say.

So, what kinds of errands do you do while you run, if any?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Running in Amsterdam: the Active city

I just got back from a few days in Amsterdam. Wow, what an active city. Bicycles everywhere, people running and walking everywhere. It does this runner's heart good to see so many active people. And they were out rain or shine (and boy did it rain!). It makes me very jealous that I don't live in a city that is accessible by bike or foot the way that Amsterdam was.

But, it does make me determined to figure out a way to bike to and from school and at least do some errands that way. When I get back, I'm going to get myself a bike so I can start cross-training. It's been too long in coming.

I got in two runs over the 3 days, both in Vondelpark and partly by the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. As running scenes go, you can't do much better than passing the Van Gogh and Rijkmuseum. Below are more pictures from the park and the two museums I passed.


Vondelpark in the rain

One of many dedicated runners in Vondelpark in the rain

Van Gogh museum


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One year of PhillytoLAonFoot

June 30 marked the one-year anniversary of As I was preparing to head to Europe, I didn't get a cake or celebrate in any proper (note the European term) way. One year is actually fairly significant in the blogging world where blogs rise and fall more than Gordon Brown's popularity (again, I'm staying intra-continent).

Anyway, I had a chance to re-read some of my first posts about the first run, my progress when I started (from early May 2007) and whether I'm really running from Philadelphia to Los Angeles (spoiler: I'm not). I also had a chance to reflect on my run of the New Orleans Marathon back in February of this year. Needless to say, it's been quite a journey and I appreciate all of the great comments and encouragement I got from you over this past year.

At this point, I've run over 950 miles and have run the equivalent of Philadelphia to Oak Grove, Missouri. It's been an amazing journey and I'm only a third of the way through. Here's to two more great years of blogging!

Monday, July 7, 2008

First non-American run

I'm in Cork, Ireland now and will be for the next couple of weeks. I'm "taking classes" at the University College Cork by day and drinking my weight in Beamish and Murphy's at night.

I was in Prague over the last couple of days. I really wanted to go for a run, but didn't for two reasons.

1) Prague is quite seedy and there are a ton of pick pocketers. Since the guy I was traveling with had a paper to write, he wasn't able to go with me. I didn't feel comfortable going along for the crime reason and for reason #2.

2) The streets in Prague are ridiculous. They aren't labeled or change every block and meander around so that there's no good way to find your way back to the hotel, even if I wrote down the directions and took a map.

But today after classes, I went for my first run in 6 days. Wow, I could not wait to lace up my shoes and hit the road. I ran from Centre City Cork to West Cork. I ran 10 kilometers (or 6.2 miles for you Americans) in about 55 minutes. I ended up starting in the "pub" district and then went into a residential area before turning around. That said, a couple quick thoughts about running in Europe:
  1. I passed 10 bars in 3 miles, all but 2 of them were in the first .8 miles from city center.
  2. I had to stop A LOT at intersections and double check that I wasn't going to get killed. I was pleased that that didn't happen.
  3. We Europeans (yes, I'm grouping myself into them because I'm here for a month) love our round-abouts, or as you Americans call them, traffic circles. Back in the states, I think I've gone through a total of 10 in my entire life and hated every minute of it. I had to drive through no less than 30 of them on the way from Dublin to Cork. Today, I had to run through two of them. Question for the group? How does a former American run through a traffic circle? Just like porcupines have sex: very carefully.
That's about it from this side of the pond. I'll keep you posted and post some pictures once I remember to take my camera on the run.