Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Cat, a Stroller, and a Runner?

Meet Thomas. Thomas is one of three stray cats that reside mostly on our front porch. We first met Thomas about a year and a half ago, when he strolled into our backyard and decided to stay a while. Unlike the other strays, which are skittish and difficult to approach, Thomas is personable and even likes Joe. Thomas will sometimes even trot behind us at the start of a run, only to look dejected once we cross the street.

Being a stray cat at our house does have its perks. On cold nights, Thomas gets to sleep inside. Unfortunately for Thomas, one of our inside cats, Bernoulli, is not a very gracious host, and thus Thomas must go back outside come morning. But don’t feel bad for Thomas, because judging by his physique, we are not the only family in the neighborhood that leaves food on the porch.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

This morning Braedon wanted to race Joe in the kitchen. That is not unusual, but today we made it official. I found an old race number and taped it to Braedon’s shirt. Then I explained to both Braedon and Joe that whoever could run the most laps around the kitchen before getting yelled at by Mom would be declared the winner. I gave the “on your mark, get set, GO,” before proceeding to the less chaotic living room, from where I could do a little reading until I clearly heard the finish. Well, I don’t know why Mom’s finishing yell had to start in the living room, but I suppose tomorrow the race director won’t leave the race site until the race is done.

Then things got a little interesting. Braedon is in this annoying wishy-washy stage of “I want to do this,” and one minute later it’s “but I don’t want to do this.” That’s how our real run started this afternoon. He didn’t want to run, but at the same time he didn’t want me or Joe to leave either. Then he wanted to run, only to repeat the cycle again. Finally, the three of us left in the midst of an “I want to run” minute. Once on the run, everything was fine, as it is more times than not. Braedon held onto a bill until we got to the post office. The temperature seemed to drop during the hour or so we were gone, and the wind picked up too, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. At one point, completely out of the blue, Braedon began singing, quite loudly, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Went Up the Water Spout!” We got a few smiles from people nearby. The young growing pains are definitely overshadowed by the innocence and small musical repertoire of a three-year-old.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Slow Week

It’s been rather slow this week and I wasn’t feeling well for part of it. I even left work early one day with a fever and slept the rest of the day away. I’m feeling better now, though. I hoped to get in a little run over lunch today, but that didn’t work out. So, I got to run with my favorite four-legged running partner this evening. The temperature was rather mild, especially when compared to the cold air that moved through our area over the past week or two. I only needed two layers of clothing instead of the four layers I have grown accustomed to in the cold dark nights.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What a Run!

With the arrival of our second child only about two weeks away, my wife, understandably, is on edge and very uncomfortable. To keep Braedon out of trouble (and me too), Joe Louis, Braedon, and I went for a run to give mom the peace and quiet she deserves. There were the occasional snowflakes falling when we set out, but by mid-run we were in the midst of our heaviest snow fall this winter. We ran our usual route, though we took time to enjoy the snowy sights.
Braedon and Joe waving at a train crossing over the Susquehanna River from Havre de Grace to Perryville. These are the same tracks that President-Elect Obama traveled over on Saturday.
One of the stray cats came up on the road way to see who was passing by. The white in the background is the Susquehanna River/Chesapeake Bay.
Joe Louis sees something of interest out on the Bay.
Nice ice formations on the Bay.
It’s really starting to snow now. If Joe could stay still for longer than ½ a second, he’d be in the picture too!
One of our favorite parts of the run, through the “big, spooky woods.”
Cleaning up after our run.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Joe and the Stopwatch

I wear a watch when I run, more as a means to gauge the approximate distance we’ve gone based on our pace than to keep splits or precise running time. I loop Joe’s leash around my left wrist when we run, which is also the same wrist where my timekeeper resides. This has never been a problem. This morning, however, we startled “something” on the river bank and it screeched across the ice, scaring Joe, causing his hackles to rise before he sprinted away. As I was being dragged behind Joe, the tension in the leash hit a button or two on my watch, which, once the excitement was over, was beeping and flashing. My fingers, being partially numb from the cold, were not especially useful at trying to stop this noise and light show. So, we just ran the rest of the way home to the cadence of a beeping watch. Oh well, I hope it didn’t wear the battery down too much, and if it did, I guess I’ll be able to truthfully say my alarm didn’t go off the next time I’m late for work…

Thursday, January 15, 2009

228 Miles per Gallon

In continuing to “run” errands whenever possible, I ran to the bank during lunch to deposit a check today. Being too frugal to buy an iPod, I entertain myself with the random thoughts that float through my head while running. Today’s random thought: If I were a car on a sales lot, what number would occupy the space next to the miles per gallon line on my window sticker. According to Cool Running, I burn 126 calories (kilocalories, really) per mile. There are approximately 28,760 calories (kcal) in a gallon of Exxon’s finest, which does vary with the density, and the seasonal and regional additives included in gasoline. Next, I broke out a piece of paper and a pencil, err, I mean Excel, and started calculating. My results: If I could ingest a gallon of gasoline to fuel my next run, the available energy would be enough for me to run 228 miles! I must be an expensive car. By contrast, my own car consumes roughly 870 calories (kcal) per mile.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Goofy Cousin

“We did it!!! Calvin and I finished the 1/2 marathon and I finished the marathon!!!”
This is what my goofy cousin, Joelene, emailed me tonight. She ran the Disney ½ Marathon on Saturday, with her son Cal, and the Disney Marathon yesterday to complete the Goofy Challenge. I never had any doubt that she would successfully complete both events; I ran my first marathon, Green Bay ’03, with her and if not for Joelene over the last four miles, I might still be on the course! And how cool is it that she ran a ½ marathon with her son. That’s awesome. From the rest of her email, I can tell that she is absolutely pumped, and she should be. Way to go Joelene and Calvin! You guys ROCK!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Relief from the Common Cold: Go for a Run

Friday I woke up with a sore throat, yuck – the onset of a cold. Saturday, same thing, and while I planned on running farther than I did on Saturday, I turned Joe around and called it quits after three miles. Last night was about as miserable of a night as I can recall with only a cold. The kind of night where I went to bed exhausted, got all nice and comfortable in bed, only to realize that I couldn’t breathe in that position. So I rolled around a bit, propped my head up on an extra pillow, but then discovered that I would be too cold if I remained fixed in that position for very long…..and that type of restlessness remained until about 3:00 when I finally had enough and just got up. After eating some leftover soup and reading a little bit, I headed back to bed, where the madness continued. Anyway, I was not expecting much out of running today, except for my four-legged running partner can be quite annoying if he doesn’t get a regular dose of exercise (this, and I know Joe won’t be running tomorrow due to my work schedule). I had to force myself to get dressed to run and I kept telling myself to just take Joe for a two or three mile run/walk and be done with it. But by the time we got to the end of our street, a quarter mile or so away, I could tell today’s run was going to be just fine. No, it wouldn’t be fast, but I was already feeling relaxed, and I could breathe more freely than I had all day (or night). So, as two miles ran into three and we were both doing well I figured we might as well keep on going. We ran down on the soggy ground by the river, and scared a flock of geese. We ran through the woods, we ran through the town, we ran all around. And if it weren’t for lack of water and maybe a couple of dog treats, we might still be running. And I do feel better too. Now I hope I will still feel better once my head hits the pillow. Good night.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Good Advice

I “ran” into Jeff Hinte yesterday, the race director, and “H” in HAT Run, for the 50K that I am running in March. We ran for about a mile together. It was interesting to talk to someone that has run numerous 100-mile races. His 50K advice for me was to run the first twenty miles slow, and then, if I felt good, really start pushing the pace over the last ten. It sounds simple, but based on my last marathon, I will need to focus on setting a sustainable pace.

Joe and I again dropped a bill off at the post office today. This time I held the bill in my hand, rather than tuck it in my pants and risk another fiasco like Wednesday night. Braedon said he was cold, so he stayed home and played with his trains while Joe and I were running.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Neither Sleet, nor Rain, nor Hail

My errand “running” didn’t work out as well tonight. I had to pay a bill, so I thought I’d run to the post office to drop it in the mailbox. Problem was that it was raining. No big deal, I frequently run in the rain, right. Well, to keep it dry, I tucked the envelope inside my pants and under my jacket. Joe and I set off for the post office and all was well until we got to the mailbox and I have no envelope. The mailbox is in front of the window of a restaurant, and now there are several diners looking at this silly runner digging in his pants while his wet dog has a bewildered stare. I wave, and Joe and I hastily retreat in search of the lost envelope. We didn’t have to look too hard. There in the middle of the wet street, with tread marks crossing its width, sat our envelope. I quickly picked it up, wrung it out, stuffed it into the mailbox and continued on our way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Miles to Run, One Stride at a Time

Recently, Perplexed had a link on her blog about two people running across Canada and around the U.S. to inspire environmental action. As an environmentally attentive person, I applaud their dedication and passion in bringing this message to towns across North America. To undertake an effort of this magnitude requires elite athlete type physical abilities, an iron will, and some sort of financial backing to go along with a good team to help publicize the message and exploits. Not being an elite athlete, never testing my will to that extreme, and certainly lacking the financial resources would make my environmentally conscious run around the world a foolish endeavor. I can, however, try to inspire environmental action in my own little corner of the world. I am fortunate to live near many businesses and service offices that I patronize; the post office, our town’s office, a rail road station, a handful of restaurants that we occasionally order out from, and several small stores. I often walk to these establishments, but I believe running will be more noticeable. From now on, I will make a point to “run” my nearby errands. It is not attention that I seek, but a statement I shall make. A runner with an arm full of groceries, especially at night, is bound to turn some heads. True, probably nine out ten people will think I’ve gone bonkers, or call me names, but it is the tenth person that I may challenge to leave the car at home for short trips, or to get out and exercise while enjoying the fresh air.

Over the past few days, Barry and I have been corresponding via email. He suggested that I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I find it all together fitting that the first errand I ran, with this new sense of purpose, was to the library to check out a book that, in part, is about the vast resources consumed in feeding America.

Thank you Perplexed, thank you Barry for the inspiration. Now I’ve got miles to run.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Go Ravens!

The Baltimore Ravens won their playoff game this afternoon, which will make a lot of my neighbors very happy. Not being a local, I am happy too that the Ravens won; however, my family doesn’t watch much football. Actually, make that any football. We cancelled our cable television service last year, and the antenna reception has never been very good. So, we were probably the only household in the area to take a nap precisely at game time. After naptime, Joe and I enjoyed a nice run in the cool afternoon air.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Joe the Super Dog

Joe Louis has two jobs in our house; bark at anything that moves remotely close to our yard, and ensure that I get out of bed to let him out and feed him each and every morning at about 5:15 – after which he generally goes back to sleep. I usually don’t take Joe with me on my early morning runs, but as I got ready for this morning’s run, I figured why not. So just before exiting the house, I barely brushed his leash and collar, the sound of which caused him to come bounding down the stairs, ready to run. The morning was cool, probably in the mid-twenties, but without a wind, so it wasn’t too bad at all. We set out on our five-mile loop, and Joe was running pretty well so I decided to take him on a second lap. To my surprise, Joe kept going strong for the entire second lap as well – good for ten miles. He had a lot of miles left in him this morning too. And then he was a tired dog. I think I will change some of my longer running routes to steer clear of narrow roads so Joe can safely run with me. While it is a little cool to be pushing Braedon, Joe seems to do well in the colder temperatures.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

One last update on 2008. Joe and I went for our last run of the year on Tuesday evening after Braedon went to bed. Just about the time I start to think that Joe is the best running dog in the world, something happens. After running four miles, stride for stride, we were in the final stretch, and on a well lit street – which is an important piece information to note. Joe veered slightly left. No big deal I think, that is until I see the telephone poll we are approaching. I knew what was going to happen, but I couldn’t react; it was as if I was a casual observer, watching two fools. And with Joe on one side of the pole and me on the other, joined together with a four foot leash, well, we both made an abrupt stop as we met in the middle. Hopefully nobody saw us. And if anybody did see us, he or she probably got a laugh at our expense.

Enter 2009. I have never been one to be excited about staying up all night to welcome in the New Year. That, and because work has worn me out the past two weeks, I went to bed early. I did have every intention of waking up early to go run. But when that alarm went off at 4:45, there was no way I was getting out of my warm bed. I’m glad too, because it has been cold and windy all day. We took Braedon to our city park (the park we often run through), stayed about ten minutes and decided it was too cold and we should eat lunch instead. I have a very short memory, which is why after lunch, Mom and Braedon took a nap, and I thought, hey I should go for a run – the sun is out, it’s probably warmed up all of two degrees since we got back from the park. So I got all dressed up in my gear, wore extra shirts, I even wore a scarf. After a mile I decided I was too hot, stuffed the scarf in a pocket, and thought this wouldn’t be so bad. After mile three, once I crested one of the big hills and was greeted with a twenty mile an hour wind, I dug out the scarf and re-wrapped my face and thought this isn’t exactly what I envisioned. After that I guess I was kind of numb and just kept moving along, addressing the occasional passerby with a “Happy New Year.” Although cold, all in all it was a good run.