Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Blizzard of '66

Was driving along yesterday and the weather guys on the radio were chatting about the impending snow storm next the process they mentioned it was the 43rd anniversary of the "Blizzard of '66."
My head of those things that you remember very clearly but that gets shoved into some drawer in the grey matter to be pulled out when the time stamp gets triggered.

This photo is from the web of the Blizzard of 1966 posted by a fellow named "John. " Thanks! I looked but don't seem to have any pics around of the event...I was only in 6th grade at the time.
My parents, Tony and Stell, had gone off to an Elks convention somewhere on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for the weekend so we had been shunted off to one of my aunts. Asked Mom about that once and she said the only reason the convention finally broke up was because the liquor finally ran out! 
This being the days before  The Weather Channel or 24 hour news, when things were seemed to come as a surprise to everyone.
Mom and Dad didn't make it home till Wednesday of that week. I abandoned my Aunt Margarets house on Monday for the much more interesting Aunt Mea's. She was a little crazy and had a son about my age. There was a lot more freedom there. Down at the end of their street was a little Italian market and sometime during the whiteout we managed to walk there and bought a pizza to take back. It may seem crazy in this day and age, but it was my first pizza. You couldn't buy a frozen one and so if you wanted one you usually had to go to an Italian place, which where I grew up in Cumberland were few and far between.
You often hear stories of that time about how schools never closed in bad weather and people still got around OK. Well that's a bunch of tosh. We were out of school for more than a week, and being downtown I could see that streets were empty with folks having to travel on foot. I remember lots of storms like that.
I seem to remember the National Guard coming out with Duce and a half's (Trucks) to help essential personal get to where they need to be.
Now if only this storm on Monday night I can enjoy yet another weather induced free space! It will be fun to hear..."We never closed schools..."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Free Space!

Ya have to love a snow day!
Well actually two...
I WISH this was a picture of my house! Alas...
This is the second day in a row my school system has been off due to poor weather...Snow yesterday and today it's ice, so everything is slicker than snot.

The training cycle for Ironman Lake Placid started on Monday... So things are cranking up as far as that's concerned..trying to get to the pool, running, biking ad pushing metal around...
I was going to focus on just Ironman this year but am having just too much fun right now doing long stuff, so Im trying to do a long distance event of some kind every month this year...sounds like a lot, but really it isn't. A Marathon/Century or better every month. No big deal really when you consider for Ironman I'll have to ride that long, at least, once every week before too long.
Swimming is the problem...just not hyper motivated to do it, but I'll get in enough to go 1:20 at Placid...I do plan to get in much more time on the bike and up the running some.
Mary Lou and I are still coming off the Disney was such a great time. We'll go back and run there again next year.
Today's workout: One hour on the bike (indoors) and a lifting session. Was supposed to swim but school's closed and I don't feel like schleping over to the swim center...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Old Dog...New Tricks

Running with "The Mouse" down in Florida is a different kind of day. Or, in my case days. Last weekend my wife and I decamped to Disney World for the WDW Marathon and Half Marathon.
It's always a good time. Mary Lou ran her third Half Marathon and I succumbed to the draw of my fourth "Goofy Challenge." Run the half on Saturday and then the Marathon on Sunday. Easy. It's not bad actually, the hardest part being getting out of bed a 2:00 am two days in a row!
We're up at 2:00 on Saturday morning to get going and get on the Disney supplied race transportation at 3:00...Just a quick spin over to the Epcot Parking lot (we stayed on the grounds at Disney)  a bit of a walk over to the race site and then settle in. My first Goofy the temps were in the 30's and was not good sitting out there on the blacktop waiting for the race start.
Ever since and especially with ML's first Half  three years ago,we sign up for the Race Retreat...carpeted, warm, with food and tea and coffee and Mickey Mouse and private Porta-Johns, expensive, yes and worth every bloody penny!
At 5:00 we start the walk over to the start which takes about 20 minutes and it's a good time to chat and people watch. It's 55 degrees and I can't believe the number of folks in tights and jackets.  Then you ask them where they are from and it's always somewhere in Florida. 
We're in different start corrals so we smooch up our goodbye's  and I wander up to my area...although ML moved up a corral this year based on last years time.
With Fireworks, we're off at 6:00...and I settle into an easy flow. The roads at the start are broad and still the road is packed. I actually run into some other "Goofy" runners I met last year and we chat a bit.  If you're going fast enough most of the race is run in the dark and heading into the Magic Kingdom is a huge change from the dark roads. All here is light and sound and action and fun! Characters abound...Piglet, Alice in Wonderland, Captain Hook, Jack Sparrow... "Storming the Castle" is always a hoot and it's fun to sun through it to the sound of trumpets and with waves from a bevy of Disney Princesses...Quickly, we're out of the Park and heading back toward Epcot and in what seems like a flash  are zipping back around Space Ship Earth, past that wonderful choir that's there every year and then the finish....1:59, Chip time.
Fine with me as I have to run twice as far tomorrow. I grab some snacks and wait for my sweetie....she arrives in 2:42 better than last year but not as well as she could have...she stopped for ten minutes to care for blister at mile move. It turns out to be a big one and would have ruined the rest of her race not to mention another four days of having fun at the theme parks! We finally meet up, have our picture taken and head back to the Retreat for bags shoved into the legs of my shorts to mitigate some swelling.
I'm so proud of my girl...The next day,she tells me she feels like a runner. A big step.
We walk around the parks with our good friends Tim and Emily the rest of the day, but are off to bed early as I'm up again at 2:00.
Marathon day sneaks up on me. I'm sleeping and dreaming. I walk over to myself in the dream and say "Wake up! You have to go to a race!" I'm immediately awake and look at the's 2:00 and the alarm just begins to ring...
The same routine as the day before...Up, organize, bus,walk, Race retreat...
Training buddy and good friend of ML's, Janet, is already there...she's a denizen of the Disney Races, but we figure out it's her first full Mary in 7 years... We chat with others and eat bagels... Walk the walk at 5:00, into our starting corrals...
Now the title of this post is "Old Dog, New Tricks"... For the first time I'm going to run a race with an ipod. I know that just saying that will send some of the readers of this apoplectic.
I'm one of the folks that rails against folks running in races with headphones especially those who do it irresponsibly. (too loud, don't pay attention to what's going on around them...that stuff) How can I complain about them, if I don't know what it's like to run a race  with them...Know thy enemy, right?  
Off at 6:00 with better fireworks than yesterday....a loop around Epcot...through that park and off toward Magic Kingdom on the same course as yesterday although we'll get there at mile 10 instead of 6. Ipod on, I'm stoked with ELP, Kings of Leon, Pretenders, Cream, The Call, Incubus   and all sorts of other hair raising stuff. I am surprised at how fast the tunes seem to make things go...It keeps the mind off the pain at hand, and mind you now...Disney is a great production with lots of music and DJ's in the middle of nowhere...Music doesn't help with the GI problems though and I have to make two pit stops and lose some time...
Feel better and out of the MK and off toward Animal Kingdom... on the lanes that run through areas we never see as "guests." It's a lovely morning with the sun now up and temps heading up...again I see folks in tights and jackets. It's over 60 degrees now and they are suffering... (I'll count 7 people down in the last 6 miles...all wearing tights and long sleeves.)
Maintaining a steady pace, I'm slowing a bit but it's ok... Despite the headphones I chat with some folks and hear all the shouts of the water stop crews...years of biking have taught me to be hyper aware and I always look before I move right or left and point out my intention if I need too.
After AK the road hits a long empty bit before the Hollywood Studios...The music pumping in my ears makes this section easier, mentally, than the previous 3 years.
Through the Studios and down the path to Epcot...Walking a bit now the crowd is just stellar.
Before you know it I'm in Paris and mile marker 25...I wrap up the phones for the finish line pics...I have met the Enemy...and it's me! I won't train with music or run short races with one but long stuff? Oh, Yea!
No real "Wall" for me today...done in 4:34 by chip.
I recently read that listening to music while running (Runners World) increases endurance by 15%. I don't know if it does...but it sure makes it one hell of a lot more fun!
Disney is a slow race: of 14,940 finishers I'm 4,647 in the Mary. Average finish time 5:08.
                                       of 12,434 in the Half Mary I'm 1,902. Average finish time 2:35
While the Disney races aren't  for's a great first time race for those not focused on time. Even the Winner, who seems to win there yearly (2:20 this year) does it because it's so much fun!
Thanks to the ever beautiful ML and to Tim and Em and Janet for making this an especially good trip...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Hero

Mary Lou is an accidental runner. She didn't mean it to happen but after we met, one thing led to another and she started. In her 50's she STARTED running. She went a bit at a time and took walking breaks and did her first 5 K and then did another... Three years and some months ago she said she wanted to try a Half Marathon...the one I do at Disney World. This weekend she'll be starting her third Half there...and I couldn't be more proud.
She says she's not a runner but she still gets out, even when the weather is bad. 
She says she's not a runner but she knows what kind of shoe she should wear and what socks work best for her.
She says she's not a runner but she knows where the body glide will do the most good.
She say she's not a runner but she knows she doesn't like Gu as well as which kind of blocks she prefers.
She says she's not a runner but she reads Runners World when it comes in the house.
She says she's not a runner but she'd like to finish the Half this year close to last years time.
I tell her she's a runner but she shakes her head and disagrees.
While she may not see herself as a runner, I do... others do too. 
It's easy for has been since I was a kid.
It's not easy for her but she still goes. Some days it's great and some days it sucks. Just the way it is for every other runner. She stays with it and starts a training plan and sees it through even on days when she would rather do other things...
She wanted to do it because she wanted to understand me better, because it meant something to me. She also found out things about herself, things she is proud of.
She is a runner despite her best intentions...
She is also my Hero.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Life really is too serious to take seriously, hence: The Goofy Challenge!
Off to Disney World this week to run the GC for the 4th time.
It's a wonderful event and all about the fun.
On Saturday the 10th I'll run the WDW 1/2 Marathon (13.1) miles. Leaves Epcot and heads over to the Magic Kingdom and back.
On Sunday...I get to do it again but this time running the WDW Marathon (26.2). This race leaves Epcot and runs to hell and gone all over the theme parks. It's really a good time. Disney does an outstanding job of moving people ...even those that happen to be running.
Mary Lou is running her third 1/2 Mary on Saturday...In fact a repeat of these shinnanigans is her fault! I was willing to not go back the run there this year, but lo and behold, the announcement came in January that the races were open for registration and she said she would love to back...
This Year Emily and Tim will go with us and I'm sure that will provide even more fun.

Running at Disney isn't about negative splits and pace and such (although I am sure it is for's not for me.) Doing a race there is about seeing Alice in Wonderland and doing the "terrorist fist bump" with Mickey and Minnie! Fireworks in the pre-dawn darkness and the sun rise over the Magic Kingdom.  It's about the church choir that comes out and the high school bands that play and cheer and the special needs kids who sit on the roadside and just hope for a high five from a can you pass them up?
If you run there and go head down,hell bent for leather you'll miss a lot. Better to stay home and run a race without the all the!
(Please note: Race distances in parenthesis  are for those folks who can't remember.)


This is the third incarnation of a Blog I started years ago.
It started as "The Razor's Edge." Over on
Way too serious of a name! I mean how many people do YOU know who've actually read the "Upanishads?"  It 's true that life is like walking the edge of a razor...but enough with the possible doom already!
Incarnation two was Aging Superhero." Jeepers...who am I kidding? After all the name just popped into my head while I was searching for a new name and wasn't intended for long term use anyway. I deleted that Blog...which was fun because life isn't about permanent anyway.

So here we come to Anton's Path. 
Some are rocky and steep and others are easy and flat. You never know what the day's path will be like until you're well on it.
Tolkein wrote something to the effect of: "When you go out your door, keep to your feet for there is no telling where you may be swept off too."