Thursday, July 24, 2014

MARCO...

My wife and I are beach lovers, so most of our vacations take us away from the green hills of Pennsylvania to a beach...somewhere, anywhere.

Myrtle Beach is a favorite destination, and in October we plan to purchase a condo there as a an escape from our northeast winters, which often last from November to May.

Both my wife and I are runners, so what I call "maintenance running," maintaining fitness while on vacation, is important to us. A "runner friendly" atmosphere while vacationing is also essential.

For the past two summers we have visited the Dominican Republic. The place is beautiful, but running is not. Few runners are on the roads, and the sight of one usually invokes snickers, jeers, or downright contempt.

Not so at Myrtle Beach, where an early morning run, enjoyed by many, is greeted with waves, "good mornings," and "hellos."

Last week, we visited the beautiful city of Marco Island, in southwest Florida. Besides eating the best seafood dinners and watching the most magnificent sunsets imaginable, the running was fantastic.

Now, you could cut the humidity with a knife, and you pretty much had to be on the road by 8:00 a.m. if you didn't want to boil, but the smooth streets and sidewalks, as opposed to the pock-marked roads of my hometown, were a delight on which to run. Routes, of course, were flat, and the lack of a "crown," or slope in the road, was a welcome relief to my ailing hamstring. Off-season traffic was virtually non-existent. Drivers were courteous and cautious.

I ran 4 miles each morning, and I was greeted by friendly walkers, runners, cyclists, and roller bladers. I never ran on the beach, although the sand is hard-packed and suitable for running.

It was a great experience in a great tropical paradise.

Thanks southwest Florida!



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED...WHERE?

I guess I should be happy but I'm not.

 On January 1, 2014, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, despite a firm "No new taxes" vow from our current governor, imposed a 10-cent a gallon tax on gasoline, for the purpose of repairing roads and bridges. Another 10-cents a gallon will be added in 2015, and an additional 8-cents will be imposed in 2016.

As a taxpayer and a driver, I suppose I should be grateful that roads and bridges, everywhere it seems, are under construction, but as a runner, our already dangerous sport, one in which we've seen several fatalities involving runners this year, has become more dangerous than ever.

In my hometown of Pottsville, our main thoroughfare, Market Street, was resurfaced approximately five years ago. The road was beautiful...for a couple of months. Utility companies seemed to salivate upon seeing a smooth new roadway. They couldn't wait to dig it up for this 'line,' and that 'line.' The latest 'line' is a new gas line, which will have portions of the 2-mile stretch of road dug up for the rest of the summer.

The Mar Lin Road, a narrow, windy, hilly rural road, located to the north of our city, is normally quiet and lightly traveled. For years, it was a favorite route of my running mates and I. Now, it has become almost impossible for a runner, walker, or cyclist to use the road, as traffic, diverted from construction projects, utilizes the road as a new super highway. Cars speed by, sometimes hugging the curves on two wheels. The speed limit is ignored, and there is no police force to enforce any traffic laws. Many drivers are rude, filled with road-rage, or distracted in some way. The other day, as I scurried to the side of the road as a vehicle drifted toward me, I noticed the driver was texting, and may have never seen me.

Fortunately, I have attempted to run the road during the day. Friends tell me that rush hour turns the Mar Lin Road into a speedway.

There are more runners these days, but there is more road construction, and many more distracted drivers who pay more attention to their electronic devices than to the business of driving.

What can we, as runners, do to stay safe?

First, make sure you're visible. Invest in anything reflective, from your head to your toes.

If the weather is bad, do not run on a road that narrow or heavily traveled.

Face traffic, and be careful with YOUR electronic devices. I love my running power play list (recently enhanced with
several songs by the Ramones), but, again, if you're running, say, on the Mar Lin Road, it may be best to keep the headphones at home.

Do not hesitate to take license plate numbers and report aggressive drivers to the local authorities.

Don't be a macho man (or woman) A two-thousand pound vehicle is going to beat us 100% of the time. Get out of the way, then be angry.

Get off the road! I mean, sometimes. Utilize those trails and go to the track once a week. Cut down the odds of an encounter.

Finally, don't think your only danger lies on the open road. Driveways, parking lots, and folks who never mastered the art of backing up are equally dangerous. Be aware of these traffic morons at all times.

Remain vigilant and aware and you will remain safe on the roads, less traveled or not.




Saturday, July 12, 2014

FAITHFUL FRIENDS

No matter how far I run, no matter what kind of mood I'm in, I know I'll always be greeted warmly upon my return home. And although I often desire a cool glass of water or a towel, I am usually greeted with a shoe or an article of clothing. There is often a great deal of jockeying for position and vying for my attention, and sometimes wobbly legs are body blocked by impatient creatures milling around my feet.

On my way out the door, I am compelled to announce that I'm "Going to work." If I reveal that I'm actually going for a run, chaos reigns.

Dixie, my 8-year old Labrador Retriever, used to be a faithful running partner. A torn ligament of her hind leg, and the ravages of age have reduced both her mileage and her pace. She still turns in an occasional speed workout, however, whenever she sees a squirrel.

Ruby, a 6-year old Redbone Coonhound, is pure hound. She enjoys plenty of sleep, interrupts running workouts with frequent sniff breaks, but will chase rabbits all day long.

Dixie, with her thick fur, loves the winter; while Ruby enjoys hot summer weather. They have their rituals and routines. In the morning, Dixie faithfully fetches my morning newspaper, and Ruby laps leftover milk from my cereal bowl like a cat.

Our king size bed has shrunk significantly, as both dogs insist on sleeping with us.

Our dogs, like your dogs, are faithful, forgiving, and non-judgmental. They are spoiled, and they deserve to be. They are an integral part of our family. Last year as I lie in agony with a torn hamstring tendon, Dixie was by my side. She can sense when my wife or I are in pain or suffering from an ailment.

Enjoy your pets. They are terrific companions and faithful friends. Talk to them like humans, smile when you find their fur on your clothes, appreciate that "wet dog" smell.

Our time with them is way too short.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lock 'em Up With LaceLocker®

Last Friday I was slogging my way through a 5-mile training run on a hot, humid afternoon when I glanced down to see my right shoelace flapping about, just waiting to entangle itself with my other shoe and drop me to the concrete.

During a training run, but especially during a race, the very last thing a runner needs is for a shoelace to come untied. And did you ever notice that, no matter how well you seem to knot it, the lace seems to have a mind of its own and can figure a way to escape from the tightest of knots?

On Monday, I received a terrific new product. I quickly and simply installed it to my shoes and now my shoelace problem has been solved.

The product is LaceLocker®, http://www.lacelocker.com, and its slogan is, appropriately, "Never Loose Again."

I was able to install the LaceLocker® in seconds, and I liked the fact that I never have to double or triple my laces again You'll like the simplicity of LaceLocker®, as well as the safety it offers.

LaceLocker® is perfect for runners, but can be used for walking and other sports as well. If you wear a laced shoe, LaceLocker® is for you.

LaceLocker® comes in an array of styles and colors: black, silver, hot pink, neon green, and white ladybug graphic. The LaceLocker can be customized or branded for almost any organization, school, race, or other fund-raising event.

There's more. LaceLocker® is 100% Made in the USA, and is reasonably priced.

 I would highly recommend this great product for any runner.

Visit them at: http://www.lacelocker.com

Their Twitter handles are @lacelocker and @stashsports.

 They are Stash Sports on Facebook and TheLaceLocker on Instagram. For more background about The LaceLocker and inventor Carol Stanley please see this newspaper story: http://www.dailyprogress.com/sports/charlottesville-resident-creates-new-device-that-eliminates-untied-shoes/article_14f53bca-e67a-11e2-a1c3-001a4bcf6878.html

Try LaceLocker®. You won't be disappointed.


Friday, July 4, 2014

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Despite our problems and differences, we still are the 'Shining city on the hill,' the beacon of light to the rest of the world. Happy Independence Day to all!

January 11, 1989 --Ronald Reagan's farewell address to the nation

"I've spoken of the shining city all my political life…. And how stands the city on this winter night? … After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

R.I.P. LOUIE

Louis Zamperini, theWorld War II prisoner of war survivor, as well as a former Olympic distance runner, and the subject of Lauren Hillenbrand's book, "Unbroken," which will be released as a film in December, has died at age 97.

As America celebrates Independence Day, I can't help but that, when the Founding Fathers penned the brilliant document they called the Declaration of Independence, they had folks like Louie Zamperini in mind.

"Having overcome insurmountable odds at every turn in his life, Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini has never broken down from a challenge," Zamperini's family said in a statement. "He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia. After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days."

In 1998, Zamperini ran a leg in the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Japan, where he had been a prisoner of war during World War II, where he suffered unspeakable treatment, but forgave his captors.

 Zamperini was scheduled to be the grand marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade

Laura Hillenbrand's book, "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption," was a 2010 biography of Zamperini's extraordinary life. It was a #1 New York Times bestseller, as well as being named Time Magazine's best nonfiction book of the year.

 Angelina Jolie directed the film version of Hillenbrand's book.

 "It is a loss impossible to describe," Jolie said in a statement. "We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly."

Zamperini grew up in Olean, New York, where he ran track at Torrance High School. He set a record for the mile in 1934 on his way to a scholarship to the University of Southern California.

At 19, Zamperini became the youngest-ever American Olympic qualifier for for the 5,000 meters. He placed eighth in the event at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, but his final lap of 56 seconds earned him the notice of Adolf Hitler, as well as a one-on-one meeting.

He qualified for the 1940 Games, which were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II

In 1941, Zamperini enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces and survived a plane crash in the Pacific, spending 74 days on a raft before finally reaching land, where he and his fellow survivor were immediately captured by the Japanese Navy. He spent the next two and a half years as an unofficial prisoner of war. His family gave him up for dead.

"He lived the most remarkable life, not because of the many unbelievable incidents that marked his near century's worth of years, but because of the spirit with which he faced every one of them," Universal Pictures said in a statement. "Confronting challenges that would cause most of us to surrender, Louie always persevered and always prevailed, and he spent the better part of his lifetime sharing the message that you could do the same. His example of grace, dignity and resilience inspired all of us lucky enough to know him and the millions who got to know him from the pages of Laura's book."

Louie Zamperini was a true American hero, who served as an inspiration to generations.

He will be missed.


Monday, June 30, 2014

HALF TIME

June 30 has come and gone, and we have reached the halfway point of the year.

If you have read some of my previous blogs, you know I'm a great advocate of running record-keeping. I have always relied heavily on keeping a running log, as a means of tracking my progress and comparing my workouts. My running logbooks, which I have kept for 38 years, are as essential to me as a good pair of running shoes.

As we reach the mid-point of the calendar year it is a perfect time to examine our running logs,
computer files, and records of the last six months and perform an analysis of our training.

Look at your training and racing, and ask yourself some of these questions.

Am I running enough miles?

Am I turning in a weekly long run?

Is my long run a 'quality' run, or am I running slow, empty miles?

How about a weekly speed workout?

Am I racing too much?

Am I racing too little?

Have I been slowed due to injury?

If so, what adjustments have I made?

How do I avoid being injured in the future?

And, as we enter the second half of the year, assess and redefine your goals.

Your best running days are ahead of you.

Let them begin as we enter the second half of 2014.

                                                            Logbook and Entries-2011