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Kev's Running Page

Welcome to my running page! I started running sometime around January 2001 (although I did a little in summer/fall 1995 and a little in spring/summer/fall 1996, but wasn't even using running shoes!). In March 27, 2002, I founded Philly Runners running club with my friend Dara, and served as president from its inception until I handed it over to a committee on July 1, 2006. I've run several races and steadily improved my times and skill. For my other running projects, including the Schuylkill Mile Time Trial, Running On The River 5K, the race predictor equation research with Drexel University's Department of Physical Therapy, the Master List of Philadelphia Running Clubs' schedules, and the Running In Philadelphia Journal e-newsletter, please see Running In Philadelphia.

This page was started in April 2006. A table of contents is below.

I. Best Times (Personal Records - PRs)
II. Teams
III. Running Races
IV. Race Reports & Recaps
---A. Philadelphia Distance Run race report (Sep 18, 2005)
---B. Philadelphia Marathon race report (Nov 20, 2005)
---C. Run For Clean Air race report (Apr 16, 2006)
---D. Run 4 Your Life 5K race report (June 18, 2006)
---E. Wissahickon Wanderers Distance Track Meet race report (Aug 22, 2006)
---F. Roman Run race report (Nov 12, 2006)
---G. Boston Marathon race report (Apr 16, 2007)
---H. Run For Clean Air race report (Apr 19, 2008)
---I. Roman Run race report (Nov 9, 2008)
---J. Parkway Run race report (Sep 30, 2018)

Best Times (Personal Records - PRs)

DistanceTime (chip)PaceDateName/DistanceLocation
1 Mile 5:12.45 (gun) 5:12.45 August 26, 2007 5th Wanderers Distance Track Meet - 1 Mile Roxborough High School Track, Philadelphia, PA
5K 17:59.19 5:47 September 30, 2018 Roman RunKelly Drive, Philadelphia, PA
10K39:33 (gun)6:23October 19, 2003AIDS Walk/Philly 10K RunWest River Drive, Philadelphia, PA
Half-Marathon 1:24:29 6:26.67 September 21, 2008 32nd Philadelphia Distance Run Philadelphia, PA
Marathon3:09:507:14.4November 20, 200512th Philadelphia MarathonPhiladelphia, PA


Date Team Name Place Name/Distance Location Average Time
April 20, 2019 Philly Runners #1 of 4 co-ed teams 38th Run For Clean Air 10K King (West River) Drive, Philadelphia, PA 40:21.8 (top 4)
Roster: me (captain), Dieter Moens, Emily Babay, Connor Stapleton, Madelena, John Silberstein
April 18, 2009 Phil E. Runner & the Iliotibial Band #2 of 6 male teams 28th Run For Clean Air 5K King (West River) Drive, Philadelphia, PA 18:42.50 (top 4)
Roster: Steve Petro, John Wesner, Kevin Baxter, me (captain), Rick Lucian, Andrew Lofaro, Jeff Dorman
April 19, 2008 Phil E. Runner & the Iliotibial Band #1 of 13 male teams 27th Run For Clean Air 5K King (West River) Drive, Philadelphia, PA 18:43.75 (top 4)
Roster: Rick Lucian, me (captain), Joe McNulty, Kevin Baxter, Ron Hargust, Sebastiaan Van Zalen, Jeffrey Cross, Eli Mercer
April 15, 2006 Phil E. Runner & the Iliotibial Band #1 of 4 male teams 25th Run For Clean Air 5K King (West River) Drive, Philadelphia, PA 18:43.75 (top 4)
Roster: Kevin Forde, John Wesner, me (captain), Raymond Bokenkamp, Andy Jacobs, Seth Weiss, Xiao Tu, Gary Shute
September 18, 2005 Phil E. Runner & the Iliotibial Band #1 of 29 co-ed teams 29th Philadelphia Distance Run
Philadelphia, PA 1:19:20.33 (top 3)
Roster: Steve Schaefer, Rick Lucian, Elizabeth Smith, me (captain), Helen Cheung
April 16, 2005 Phil E. Runner & the Iliotibial Band #1 of 6 male teams 24th Run For Clean Air 5K King (West River) Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19:40.75 (top 3)
Roster: Jim Maio, me (captain), Steve Gelman, Leo Pearson, Steve DiBona, Mike Dobres, Steve Markey, Mony Sambath

Running Races

Date Name/Distance Location Time Pace Age-Grade Place (Top%) Miscellaneous
April 20, 2019 38th Run For
Clean Air 10K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
39:50 gun
6:25 72.46%
('15 factors)
#9/308 (2.87%) #1/10 male 45-49 (top 10.00%)
#7/168 male (top 4.17%)
#1/??? male master's 40+

November 30, 2018 Fall Twilight Miler Ursinus College
5:16.40 gun
5:16.40 77.44%
#12/18 (%) warm, pouring, bunched in, lap 1 = :72
September 30, 2018 Parkway Run 5K King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
5:47.36 77.09%
#8/1886 (0.42%) #1/69 male 45-49 (top 1.45%)
#8/887 male (top 0.90%)
#1/??? male master's 40+
~60-F, dry, calm, sunny

November __, 2016 Fall Twilight 5K Ursinus College

#/ (%) #/__ male 40-49 (top _.__%)
#/___ male (top _.__%)

November __, 2015 Fall Twilight 5K Ursinus College

#/ (%) #/__ male 40-49 (top _.__%)
#/___ male (top _.__%)

September __, 2012 Parkway Run 5K King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
('06 factors)
#16/____ (%) #/__ male (top _.__%)
#/___ male (top _.__%)

April 16, 2011 30th Run For
Clean Air 5K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
19:26.2 gun
6:15.36 68.69%
('06 factors)
#19/1257 (1.51%) #4/80 male 35-39 (top 5.00%)
#19/619 male (top 3.07%)

October 25, 2009 34th Marine Corps
Washington, DC 3:35:38
3:35:45 gun
8:13.46 57.99%
('06 factors)
#1694/21398 (7.92%) #1444/12966 male (top 11.14%)
#276/2226 male 35-39 (top 12.07%)
5K 21:05 (6:47.16) / 10K 42:48 (6:53.28)
15K 1:04:13 (6:53.39) / 20K 1:25:33 (6:53.04)
Half 1:30:19 (6:53.37)
25K 1:48:00 (6:57.14) / 30K 2:15:40 (7:16.67)
35K 2:46:48 (7:40.18) / 40K 3:23:49 (8:12.02)
August 25, 2009 6th Wanderers
Distance Track
Meet - 1 Mile
Roxborough High School
Track, Philadelphia, PA
5:18.57 gun 5:18.57 71.82%
('06 factors)
#4/33 (8.25%) #4/12 Heat A (top 33.33%)
April 18, 2009 28th Run For
Clean Air 5K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
19:09.0 gun
6:08.86 69.00%
('06 factors)
#26/1407 (1.85%) #2/60 male 35-39 (top 3.33%)
#26/703 male (top 3.70%)
Award: medal

November 9, 2008 Roman Run - 5K Kelly Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
18:07.24 gun
5:49.5 72.81%
('06 factors)
#7/228 (3.07%) #1/17 male 30-39 (top 5.88%)
#7/162 male (top 4.32%)
Award: medal
September 21, 2008 32nd Philadelphia
Distance Run
Philadelphia, PA 1:24:29
1:25:37 gun
6:26.67 70.62%
('06 factors)
#319/13280 (2.40%) #281/6525 male (top 4.31%)
#47/1043 male 35-39 (top 4.51%)
5K split 19:48 (6:22.38 pace)
10K split 39:55 (6:25.44 pace)
10M split 1:04:22 (6:26.20 pace)
August 26, 2008 5th Wanderers
Distance Track
Meet - 1 Mile
Roxborough High School
Track, Philadelphia, PA
5:12.45 gun 5:12.45 72.79%
('06 factors)
#5/18 (27.78%) #4/10 Heat A (top 40.00%)
April 19, 2008 27th Run For
Clean Air 5K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
18:32 gun
5:57.0 70.91%
('06 factors)
#19/1485 (1.28%) #5/119 male 30-34 (top 4.20%)
#19/689 male (top 2.76%)

November 11, 2007 Roman Run - 5K Kelly Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
18:26.22 gun 5:56.1 71.11%
('06 factors)
#8/236 (3.39%) #3/24 male 30-39 (top 12.50%)
#8/171 male (top 4.68%)
Award: medal
October 6, 2007 10th Guts & Glory 5K King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
19:08.45 gun 6:09.7 68.49%
('06 factors)
#8/1034 (0.77%) #7/392 male (top 1.79%)
#5/78 male 30-39 (top 6.41%)
September 16, 2007 31st Philadelphia
Distance Run
Philadelphia, PA 1:24:54
1:25:08 gun
6:28.6 70.07%
('06 factors)
#344/11629 (2.96%) #305/5978 male (top 5.10%)
#46/778 male 30-34 (top 5.91%)
5K split 20:18 (6:32.0 pace)
10K split 40:23 (6:29.9 pace)
10M split 1:05:17 (6:31.7 pace)
August 22, 2007 4th Wanderers
Distance Track
Meet - 1 Mile
Roxborough High School
Track, Philadelphia, PA
5:16.6 gun 5:16.6 71.45%
('06 factors)
#5/16 (31.25%) #5/7 Heat A (top 71.43%)
April 16, 2007 111th Boston
Hopkinton - Boston, MA 3:42:04 8:28.2 56.25%
('06 factors)
#8454/20348 (41.55%) #6526/12373 male (top 52.74%)
#2980/4525 male 30-34 (top 65.86%)
0-5k 22:19 (7:11.0) / 5-10k 22:03 (7:05.8)
10-15k 22:11 (7:08.4) / 15-20k 22:51 (7:21.3)
20k-Half 5:14 / 1:34:38 (7:13.1 pace)
20-25k 25:58 (8:21.5) / 25-30k 32:25 (10:26.0)
30-35k 29:52 (9:36.8) / 35-40k 32:28 (10:27.0)
40k-END 3:42:04 / 11:57 (8:45.7)
2nd 1/2 split 2:07:26 (9:43.2 pace)

November 12, 2006 Roman Run - 5K Kelly Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
18:25.23 gun 5:55.7 70.85%
('06 factors)
#11/166 (6.63%) #3/20 male 30-39 (top 15.00%)
#10/121 male (top 8.26%)
Award: medal
October 21, 2006 3rd Set The Pace
To Educate 5K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
18:55 gun 6:05.3 68.99%
('06 factors)
#15/126 (11.90%) #3/12 male 30-39 (top 25%)
Award: $10.00
August 22, 2006 3rd Wanderers
Distance Track
Meet - 1 Mile
Roxborough High School
Track, Philadelphia, PA
5:19.40 gun 5:19.40 70.50%
('06 factors)
#10/27 (37.04%) #10/13 Heat A (top 76.92%)
June 18, 2006 4th Run 4
Your Life 5K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
19:20 gun
6:12.7 67.72%
('06 factors)
#34/911 (3.73%) #7/105 male 30-39 (top 6.67%)
April 15, 2006 25th Run For
Clean Air 5K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
19:30.7 gun
6:15.2 66.77%
('94 factors)
#55/1136 (4.84%) #3/83 male 30-34 (top 3.61%)
#49/591 male (top 8.29%)
Award: medal

November 20, 2005 12th Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA 3:09:50
3:10:02 gun
7:14.4 66.81%
('94 factors)
#362/5934 (6.10%) #76/557 male 30-34 (top 13.64%)
#325/3848 male (top 8.45%)
10M split: 1:12:54 (7:17.4 pace)
1/2 split: 1:35:13 (7:15.8 pace)
14M split: 1:41:41 (7:15.8 pace)
20M split: 2:24:37 (7:13.9 pace)
October 15, 2005 2nd Set The Pace
To Educate 5K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
18:50 gun 6:03.7 68.88%
('94 factors)
#8/110 (7.27%) #3/14 male 30-30 (top 21.43%)
Award: $10.00
September 18, 2005 29th Philadelphia
Distance Run
Philadelphia, PA 1:29:17
1:29:44 gun
6:48.9 66.81%
('94 factors)
#366/8600 (4.26%) #52/640 male 30-34 (top 8.125%)
#311/4655 male (top 6.68%)
5K split: 21:09 (6:48.5 pace)
10K split: 42:23 (6:50.1 pace)
10M split: 1:08:17 (6:50.0 pace)
splits 44:42 / 44:35 (6:49.5 / 6:48.4)
April 16, 2005 24th Run For
Clean Air 5K
King (West River) Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
19:35 gun
19:33 watch
6:17.6 66.36%
('94 factors)
#34/967 (3.52%) #5/75 male 30-34 (top 6.67%)

October 19, 2003 AIDS Walk/Philly
10K Run
West River Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
39:33 gun 6:21.9 68.20%
('94 factors)
#3/104 (2.88%) #3/47 male (top 6.38%)
Award: certificate
September 21, 2003 Philadelphia
Distance Run
5K Classic
Philadelphia, PA 18:35
18:36 gun
5:58.9 69.81%
('94 factors)
#23/532 (4.32%) #3/47 male 30-34 (top 6.38%)
Award: plate
April 19, 2003 22nd Run For
Clean Air 5K
West River Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
19:55 gun 6:24.6 65.14%
('94 factors)
#51/652 (7.82%) #9/73 male 25-29 (top 12.33%)

October 13, 2002 7th Steamtown
Scranton, PA 3:18:28
3:19:23 gun
7:34 63.91%
('94 factors)
#196/1354 (14.48%) #23/67 male 25-29 (top 34.33%)
8.2M split: 1:06:34 (8:07 pace)
1/2 watch: 1:35:08
18M split: 2:11:54 (7:20 pace)
September 28, 2002 4th Run From
Drugs 5K
Riverside Township,
New Jersey
19:36 gun 6:18.5 66.19%
('94 factors)
#4/38 (10.53%) #1/1 male 19-29
Award: medal
September 15, 2002 26th Philadelphia
Distance Run
Philadelphia, PA 1:35:32
1:37:23 gun
7:17.56 62.44%
('94 factors)
#662/7017 (9.43%) #94/441 male 25-29 (top 21.32%)
#557/4185 male (top 13.31%)
splits: 52:34 / 42:58
mile 6.23: 52:34
April 20, 2002 21st Run For
Clean Air 5K
West River Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
20:49 gun 6:42.0 62.32%
('94 factors)
#75/698 (10.74%) #12/75 male 25-29 (top 16.00%)

November 10, 2001 Family Fitness
Day 5K
North Carolina
22:59 gun 7:23.9 56.45%
('94 factors)
#50/229 (21.83%) #8/51 male 25-29 (top 15.69%)
#43/384 male (top 11.20%)
November 3, 2001 3rd James Island
Connector Run 10K
South Carolina
44:29 gun 7:09.5 60.64%
('94 factors)
#29/253 (11.46%)
September 16, 2001 25th Philadelphia
Distance Run
Philadelphia, PA 1:43:55 chip 7:55 57.40%
('94 factors)
#1828/5937 (30.79%) #189/406 male 25-29 (top 46.55%)
#1477/3612 male (top 40.89%)
gun 1:46:27
splits: 53:40 / 50:15
May 20, 2001 15th Vietnam
Vets 10K
Columbus Boulevard
(Delaware Avenue),
Philadelphia, PA
45:54 gun 7:23.2 58.77%
('94 factors)
April 21, 2001 20th Run For
Clean Air 5K
West River Drive,
Philadelphia, PA
22:09 gun 7:07.8 58.57%
('94 factors)

Philadelphia Distance Run race report (Sep 18, 2005)

"The Prose of the Modern Half-Mar' Runner"
Writing this is one of the things that helps me to relax. Plus, I think this is the only way of beating Ed to be the first to write a RR.

I've never waited so long for a race.

It's been three years since the last Philly Distance Run, and although I've only run it twice, it became my favorite race, in part because I think it's the distance that best suits me. It was my running goal in 2001, my first year of running, and I was able to shave off 9 minutes the 2nd time I raced, in 2002.

Between then and now, I've had a left knee issue which, due to cautiousness, kept me from racing distance the next year. I've had a left high ankle/shin injury, which kept me from much running & any racing the year after.

I watched the race in 2004, cheering for my friends but yearning to be in it.

I've had pre-acute left ankle issues that made me back off a bit in 2005, but not sideline me. A rebuilding 2003 led to a backtracking 2004 led to what was becoming a worrisome 2005, but this was the year to take it back. There were points of discouragement during training, but they were just speedbumps this time. The left knee in early August was bothering me, a pre-acute overuse, so I backed off a bit for two weeks. A Marathon was still possible and I was training for it, even though I would not venture a decision before conquering PDR. The somewhat disappointing 5K was back in April, a million years away, and this was time to "avenge" it.

Philly Runners had 8 teams racing, and my team, Phil E. Runner & The Iliotibial Band, stood a decent chance to place in the co-ed division. We used this name to take 1st place male team in that April race.

I had wanted to race a 5K in August as a gauge, but wasn't able to. With this unknown, I set a goal of 1:28, which would shatter my best time of 1:35 set 3 years ago. I knew I could beat it, and I "needed" under 1:30, but what's the use of setting an easy goal? Imagine if I take another 9 minutes off, I'd get 1:26! Or, since I need 8 minutes to qualify for Boston, if I take 8 minutes off here, I'd get 1:27! Wow!

I thought that if things go well and I think all of my body parts are ready for it, I may again race Steamtown Marathon 3 weeks later. If I think I need to test my ankle more for distance, I may do a 5K 2 weeks later, then possibly another half (in Hamilton NJ) 2 weeks after that, then Philly Marathon November 20. However, I need to face that this might involuntarily be my last race of the season, which isn't a happy thought. I then twisted my ankle on a fast Tuesday run 19 days before the race. What's going on?

Strangely, a couple days before that, I started waking up every morning around 5am, taking an hour or so to return to sleep. This happened almost every night, including two nights before the race (the one where you're supposed to get a good night's sleep) when my fan (which helps me sleep) decided to stop working at 4am. It might have been before, but that's when I woke up. Couldn't get it to work, so I turned on the air conditioning. Bought a new fan today.

All this is but a prelude to my race. I actually need to speed up to north NJ immediately after the race for the unveiling of the headstone at my Grandmother's grave. If I race as planned, I have about 25-30 minutes to recover & cool down, run home, shower, change, use the bathroom, stretch, and eat. The run home must serve as a short cool-down run. I'll have food ready to take with me on the car ride. I might need to forego stretching, but not to worry, I'm sure my legs will appreciate a 90-100 minute drive with little time to even stretch in the car.

I feel like I'm missing the reception after my wedding, or the cuddling after making love (take your pick on analogies here, or please help me think of a better one!).


Okay, Ryan's been whining about PDR race reports not being positive enough, so I should dedicate this one to you, Ryan! And to my teammates, Helen, Rick, Steve S, and Elizabeth, too! And, as a whole to my favorite running club, Philly Runners. Philly Marathon this year is still a possibility!

"Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible."
William Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar
as quoted by my teammate Helen

Kev's PDR RR (conclusion)

I wanted to wake at 5:50am (perhaps "want" is not the most appropriate term) but woke at 5am, continuing this phenomenon of waking around 5am for no reason for the past 3 weeks. I lay in bed until the music chimed on, and was up. Drank a little grape juice and turned on the faucet in the tub. I need to soak my legs in very hot water for 20-30 minutes before a race to loosen the muscles. They were in bad shape last night, better but not fresh that morning, and I could tell wouldn't be great for the race, but this should help plenty. This is perhaps my favorite race; that it's practically in my backyard, and that the majority of the course is what I use for my training runs are just two reasons why.

Out of the home, I needed some slow warm-up miles, and was awed by the sheer number of runners on my jog over. We are in charge today! Spoke with a bunch of folks at our meet-up spot, right near the art museum where we meet for the club runs, while I stretched a bit and sipped water, tried the aversive course drink again, then got another short warm-up with Seebo, Bike Mike, and John W, 3 strong runners in the club, just before entering corral #1 wearing my 4-ounces or so of clothing (plus shoes). There were 12 assigned corrals, plus the elite racers in front, so hopefully this would alleviate how some slow runners try to start way up in front, hindering thousands of racers that have to then pass them. Race started a little late, which meant I'd have less time to recover before my drive up to north NJ for a family function. Ran down the storied Ben Franklin Parkway and found Gelman soon after the start, then found Russ. Wasn't going to try to follow Russ, but ran near Gelman for a bit. Mile 1 in 6:50. I wanted a 6:44 or so pace, but wanted the first 1-2 miles slow, around 7:30. The 6:50 seemed effortless though! This had been one of my mantras leading up to the race, so I grabbed it here. Would I pay for it later? Do I dare and do I dare? Maintain, I thought.

We ran around City Hall and headed east on Market Street, with the post tequila sunrise now blazing in our eyes. I don't know what is meant by a tequila sunrise, but if it is analogous to a tequila drinking binge, feeling great now, then being in agony later on, it would fit, I would find out... later on. I passed Mony here who mentioned that he wasn't feeling too great. Ran with him a few seconds. I soon turned right onto 4th Street, positively.

Running through the city, I was impressed that many people were out cheering for us. The race, after all, had started before 8am on a Sunday. I don't need a lot of cheering, but I grabbed this. I unfortunately also had to grab that course drink, which would certainly win awards... if we were giving them for worst taste. The drink came complete with its claims of why it's better than the others (not evaluated by the FDA of course!). It also was served in plastic cups, a big mistake, as runners need to fold the cups to form a spout so as not to get the liquid all over us when running & drinking at the same time. The cups cracked, but I didn't and thus was still able to manage. Water though was correctly served in paper cups. I was pleased to hear & see the Rittenhouse String Quartet performing for our benefit, and I clapped for them. Also saw Katie cheering on the left & she acknowledged my shout to her. We turned right onto 16th Street for a few blocks, then left onto the Ben Franklin Parkway. This is where the race used to end (in the opposite direction) and I saw Bridget cheering. I would see her later with a mile or so left, and she saw me both times too.

Entering West River Drive, I was consistently maintaining about a 6:49 pace. Effortless was still the mantra, but my left quadriceps were starting to bother me. This is unusual, but then, my legs weren't great even at race start. Okay, I can deal with some pain. Shouted out to Raymond cheering, but no response from him. Saw two folks from my cycling club and since I couldn't recall their names, I shouted out the club's name. Didn't note a response from them either. I knew the rest of the club would be looking for me, but didn't know where they would be able to get to on their bikes. Mayor Street biked past us and another runner shouted out to him. Got to remember to thank him for making an appearance. Elizabeth, who is on my team for this race, passed me soon after, looking strong. I wasn't sure she could maintain that fast, so I shouted out to her. She said she was fine and took off. Go get 'em Elizabeth! Somewhere around here I passed a jazz combo that I normally would have loved, but could have used a Rocky or Olympic theme here for motivation from the small brass ensemble I also saw. I probably clapped for both of them. Approaching mile 8 when I knew a water stop was coming, I took 1 of the 2 energy gels I had with me.

I crossed Falls Bridge with the bagpiper (playing, not running with me) onto Kelly Drive, and caught a glimpse of my cycling club. I was too far away by that time to shout out, but I did recall how I saw them in 2001 or 2002 and they did cheer for me! I found out later that at least one of them screamed out my name, but I didn't hear. I passed one of the "vivacious high school cheer squads" that the new race management got for this race. There were a couple squads I already passed on the course, but this one, and the next one a mile or two later were quite spirited. This was a welcome thing, as Effortless had been making way to my other training mantra, Embrace The Pain.

At this point, soon after Falls Bridge, I wasn't just Embracing The Pain, but I think I got to 2nd base with it. A few people were passing me, but I was still passing more. I decided to get a partner, and caught a cute woman who had been exchanging positions with me for a few miles. After a few minutes, I thanked her for helping me, and she then thanked me for the same; I didn't want her to think I was simply using her without appreciation. I asked her goal time but I think she just wanted to maintain whatever pace she was doing. She said something about college... that she hasn't run this race since college, or that she was in college, or that college tuition has been gradually increasing beyond the rate of inflation for many years now especially with private 4-year institutions and it was getting increasingly difficult for the average family to afford it for their children without some sort of financial plan. I maintained with her only a mile or so and I let her escape. I would later see her a bit beyond the finish line, and would thank her again there. Walking along the side in the opposite direction was Meg, perhaps the most accomplished runner I'm friends with, and we shouted out to each other. I walked through the 3rd & 2nd to last water stops. Grrrr. My mental fortitude, which I consider one of my strengths, was wobbly. Pace had slowed a wee bit by this point I think. All the way up King and down Kelly, at the water stops, I fell behind some people I was running near, but kept catching up. I don't think I was catching as many now. At the 11 mile point, and more at 12, sub-1:30 became the new goal (from 1:28), and the possibility that even this won't happen unless I dig in came pounding to the front of my mind like a ton of bricks, which ironically is what it seemed like was repeatedly smashing into my body. Quadriceps on both legs were now screaming obscenities to me in Greek (which I fortunately don't speak), the calves were slightly more than gently nagging, my neck hurt, and I think I forgot to add the fabric softener to the last load of laundry I did. I haven't felt so much soreness since my last long race, my triumphant marathon in October 2002. I missed that. I really did. This will be over soon.

Miles 11 & 12 were probably the only ones slightly slower than all the previous miles, as I impressed myself how perfectly consistent I had been, usually not one of my strengths, and I upped the pace (at least, I hoped I did, as my effort certainly increased) around 12, and was now passing several people. I spotted Helena a little past here, and she shouted plenty of words of encouragement to me. Thanks, Helena! Somewhere between 12.5 and 13, my vision became a little distorted. This never happened before during a race, and I took it to be a positive sign that I was really pushing. Well, I do now, but at the time I was just focusing on my new-found superpower of tunnel vision. MUST... BREAK... 1:30. I passed Bike Mike and said his name as loud as I could, which was barely more than a whisper. I then passed who I thought was Craig (it was). Don't know if I said anything to him. If I did, it could have been his name, but it just as likely could have been something like "Beethoven" which makes no sense now you may say, but probably made no sense then either. Just before the finish line, I spread my arms like wings, emulating the bronze medal winner in the Athens 2004 Olympic Marathon, Brazil's Vanderlei de Lima, just before he finished. I probably looked pretty silly doing that, but no more than the distorted face I was probably already wearing. He was leading that race when a crazy fan came out and collided with him, sending him into the crowds. That's how I felt, yet sans a crazy fan hitting me. I admired the spirit of de Lima to continue & win the bronze, and that perseverance is what I needed. Finished in 1:29:17 (chip time). I did it! Gun time was 27 seconds difference. Found out that Russ beat me by 12 seconds, and Brian by 2 seconds (less than 1/4 second per mile)! Good job, boys! Physically I was completely spent, but was satisfied mentally. This was not just a race, but with everything I had to go through to get to this point, and with everything seemingly interfering still, it was in some respects an act of defiance!

Saw Seebo and English Kevin right after the finish. One of them asked how I did, and I told them & showed my watch time. Took my impressive finisher's medal, had my timing chip clipped off, and was handed a bottle of water which I immediately sipped. My breathing was harsh, but I was not worried as it was now recovery time, though my quadriceps continued to remind me that they were now unwilling to support anything more than slow walking. Walked (slowly) around the corner to the food area, but all I could stomach were the orange wedges. People from Philly Runners started streaming over to me upon their finish, and I was happy to hear they did well. Must have spoken with over a dozen friends. Jim, Broad Street Run race director, spotted me and came over to get feedback on the race. I gave him a bit, but all this talking was sapping the little energy I had, so I had to stop, one of the few times not involving major sleep deprivation that this happened! I don't have enough energy to talk! As much as I wanted to stay and soak up all this celebrating, it was time to leave, as I had what turned out to be a 2-hour drive ahead of me for a family obligation (with a drive back) and I hadn't time to stretch or do a proper cool-down. The pain would only get worse. As I could not run, I started the short walk home. A minute or two on, I noticed Pola, a sight for my sore eyes (and other sore body parts) a bit removed from the rest of the crowd, and we gave each other a big hug and chatted for a short while. We don't get to see much of each other, and I realized that the day isn't just a race but also a reunion of sorts. It was regrettably time to leave it all now.

I hadn't felt this much sustained pain since the last general elections! Both sets of quadriceps make it tough to walk, left calf hurts, back hurts, neck is bothering me, 1 of my toenails is a tad discolored and is tender. I don't mind though; I can feel the pain and (almost) grab something tangible to remind me of the day... sort of like a wild & rough session of... oh, never mind. Besides, that excruciating pain shooting down my quads commanding all my concentration rendering focusing on anything else impossible, means that it's working! I'm not sure what "it" refers to, but if "it" means that I broke my PR (personal record) by over 6 minutes, and had my first solid race in 2 years, then I'll take it. A small area where my 2 gels were rubbing against my right abdomen is irritated too. Apparently, nothing is immune to aftereffects of this race with me. It resembles a little hickey, which is cute, as I haven't had that action since, well, since I got to 2nd base with the pain around mile 10 or 11. I put a bandage on it, and it seems like I have a birth control patch on. That may seem strange, but at least I can be confident I won't get pregnant.

Recounting the race stories of others made me feel more satisfied with my time, as many of them also were negatively influenced a bit by the warmer temperatures and sun blazing down. I was also amazed that I kept such a steady 6:49 pace throughout the entire race, which is usually not my strong point. The first 5K was in 21:09 (6:48.5 pace), the second 5K was 21:14 (6:50.1), the next 3.79 miles was 25:54 (6:50.0), and the final 5K was a tad faster, just when you want it, at 21:00 (6:45.6). The first half was 44:42 (6:49.5 pace) and the second half was 44:35 (6:48.4), seven seconds faster! Aside from the pace slower than planned, tactically, it was about as perfect as one can get. Mentally, I ran a much more disciplined race than the 5K in April.

It was a very good day, and I'll continue to nurse my war-wounds back to where I can put in another solid performance, which I know again now that I can do. The pain will go away, but I'll remember this race for a very long time.

Philadelphia Marathon race report (Nov 20, 2005)

"The Rime of the Modern Mar' Runner"
It's nice to race a marathon in your backyard.

Looking back, I didn't finalize until three weeks prior that I was going to actually race the horribly wonderful thing. My only other marathon was three years ago, a 3:18, and I had only one long-distance race since then, the Philly Distance Run half-marathon, two months prior. The three years of tribulations I had to overcome for that race, including injuring my left ankle 19 days prior, are in that race report, the only one I've written before now.

The ankle had been healing since then and although not all healed, it would not bother me at all. My right foot, possibly subacute plantar fasciitis, started bothering me in mid-October. It didn't bother me for my 5K race, where I won money for the first time in a race for placing in my division, but on what was to be my longest training run of the season on a Saturday at the end of the month, it was quite painful, and I had to cut the run short, which I never do. I decided that if it weren't bothering me two days later, I would do my long run then. Well, it was bothering me, but only a little, and in what was not a prudent decision on my part, I did the 24 miles then. I'm glad I did actually, and registered for the marathon that evening, as it was a good run. The right foot was little worry for the race.

What was worrisome was weather. I prefer warmer weather to race than most others, and a latter November race doesn't hold much promise for weather conducive to me. It was warmer than usual for a while, but the 10-day forecasts had the temperatures plummeting three days before the race. Not only would it be cold, but my body wouldn't have enough time to acclimate to it! As the date drew nearer though, the race forecast become more favorable. Although slightly chillier than I would have liked, the race day weather was something I could handle.

Race morning, I saw long-lost Emily S, then Seebo, Laura G, and Ed at our club's meet-up spot. With different goals, I don't know if I'd see them later, and I wished them all luck. They were all ready for it. I gave my extra clothing to the gear check and then did a bit more stretching and warm-up running. I told myself it was time to race a marathon. I was ready.

I lined up with the 3:10 pace group and told the pacer that for the next few hours, he was my new best friend, with apologies that the relationship will be short-lived. I thought about telling him that I would be his bitch for the next few hours, but actually didn't think of that until later. Fortunately.

About 1/4 mile after the start, my right calf felt either tight or sore, which strangely developed out of nothing the previous evening just before the pre-race pasta party, and had dissipated only a little that morning. It was gone a mile later, which indicates that it was just tight, fortunately. I think it was Rick that called out to me early on, and I raised a green-gloved hand to acknowledge.

We hit a water stop and I partook (as I did with every stop), but a man near me was unable, so I gave him mine once I took some. This prompted another runner to compliment me, something about the spirit of racing I think, and that made me feel good. Not physically good of course, I was racing a marathon after all, but people don't race marathons for their physical health. We are here for the same purpose, I thought. Indeed, most of us would watch out for each other, calling out uneven terrain or a pothole to those behind us. I was in a unique pace group, as a 3:10 is the fastest qualifying time: men under 35. The people surrounding me were all talented runners, and it was nice to be in kindred spirits for such a physical trial.

I saw Russ, Sarah, and who seemed to be Craig and Ryan through the city. I'd see all but Russ later on too. Our pace group was huge (a stampede, described Craig), and noted some idiosyncrasies of other runners amongst us. There was "commentary guy," who would note things out loud to us, such that many people are running to the side to take a quick pit stop. Okay... thanks. Man-who-complimented-me was with us. There was Chinese accent guy, who with me was amongst the few people who stayed with the pacer until the end, who asked me a few questions about Philly. Not many questions to be annoying and energy-sapping, but just a few. His name I found out later is Lin, as spectators were reading his name on his shirt & shouting it out. I had my name on my shirt, but today, my name was also Lin, also Steve, also Bridget, as then each of the thousands of spectators were cheering for me.

I was impressed with the numbers & spirit of the spectators along Chestnut, and then turned right onto 34th. I had practiced running up 34th and Lansdowne the previous two Thursdays, so I expected the hill. I realized that I might need to take a bathroom break, but didn't, figuring it would either get worse and then I'd go anywhere I could, or it would go away. It wasn't impeding my running, and it did go away. I'm usually pretty good at finding my hydration balance.

Up a few hills and down for some miles, I was maintaining a steady pace. The crowds (including some 8K finishers) were boisterous and numerous around the art museum just past the halfway point of the race, which was amazing. Around the bend, I saw Clay, then Rachel and Northeast Mike, and shouted to them. Just after was Leslie, and I tossed to her my throwaway shirt. It was actually a tank-top I had on underneath so when I take it off I'll have on a dry shirt up against my skin. So that I can remove it without taking off my top-shirt, I had sliced the entire right side, then used electrical tape to fasten it until I tug on it. It was later interesting to note her reaction to what the hell I did to it. I later explained it to Heidi, who I missed at Lloyd Hall, but who showed me her great signs later.

Along the way were Craig (I tossed one arm warmer to him, but had dropped the other), Ryan, Elizabeth, and others. Thanks for making the effort to go where there were few spectators! I also saw Philadelphia Track Club and Bryn Mawr Running Club shirts, our two local powerhouses, on racers coming in, and shouted out the club names to them.

At Falls Bridge anticipating me at mile 18 was Heather, right on target. What a great boost! It's two more miles to the turnaround. I was hoping to see Seebo running the other way, but didn't. Up in Manayunk, I passed John in the other direction. He was perhaps 2-4 minutes ahead of me. It was here, right by the turnaround, that I passed mile 20. Mile 20 in marathoning folklore is where the race really begins, and I said out loud to myself, "Now the race begins" or something equally amazingly profound. An Olympic Marathon medallist once remarked that anyone can run 20 miles, but it's the last 6.2 that make the difference. At around mile 20 is where many people hit the dreaded "wall," or as Raymond mentioned, the Dutch expression of "the man with the hammer." The human body can only store enough energy for about 20 miles.

I then saw Stacey, Steven, and others from my cycling group & we shouted to each other. The turnaround was just ahead, and I then saw them again in the same place. I tossed hard to them my green gloves, imbued with a combination of water, lemon-lime Gatorade, and sweat, to reach over the runners in the other direction and those eating on the sidewalk. I wouldn't want my gloves to land in someone's soup, although I'm sure I'd find it hilarious at the time. I actually find the idea very amusing even now! They caught 'em! I saw more cute women to toss my articles of clothing to, but decided to hold on to what I had.

Back on Kelly Drive, on the way home at mile 22 was Heather once again at Falls Bridge. Not content to simply cheer me on for a few seconds this time, she actually ran on the sidewalk keeping pace with me for maybe 1/3 mile (ahead of me sometimes... must be her excitement!). I'd look over, and there she was, and I'd repeat a few times, brown-eyes smiling back at me each time. Thanks Heather!

Continuing down Kelly was uneventful, and I told myself that I was on a Saturday morning club run. Lying to myself was the easiest defense mechanism... albeit ineffective! I spied Pola in yellow, almost matching her flaxen hair. I called out to her and I think she called out my name before I even finished hers. Ed was perhaps 100 meters behind, Madeline a little later, then Tim as a pacer for another. I shouted to 'em all.

Giddy up 309. Three-oh-nine, my 309, nothing can stop me, nothing... well, here's where my little wave of creativity retreated back to the sea. The Beach Boys song is 409, but it was a good rhythm to modify for my purposes, that is, finishing in 3:09 (or 3:10). I had chanted it to myself in the days leading up to the race at times when I didn't think I was being sufficiently nerdy. Tom Waits' "Big Joe and Phantom 309" wasn't upbeat enough anyway! Strangely, I wasn't begging myself for the race to end, but wanted it to keep going. I don't know why, but perhaps I wanted to prolong this test, realizing that I was delivering. We marathoners are a peculiar bunch.

I saw the John Kelly statue off to the side, indicating only 2.2 miles to the art museum. I sometimes "talk" to John when I stop there for a drink at the water fountain. The conversation is markedly lopsided, as I say things about my run like, "John, this is tough" and other equally philosophical gems, yet answers from John come there none, as he is frozen in a pose that won him multiple Olympic medals. John doesn't complain that it's tough. John doesn't complain about being out there day and night, in all weather. He practices "gaman," the semi-untranslatable Japanese word of persevering against tough odds without complaining (I have the kanji character framed next to my desk). He is a silent inspiration.

This rowing statue is the turnaround for our Tuesday night club runs. I lied to myself again, with about the same effects. This mile 24 is the site of a lesser known marathon tradition, shouting out "God save the Queen," in somewhat deference to a Queen of England who helped establish the current length of the marathon (lengthier than previously) so the finish could be where she wanted it. I was more concerned about saving my legs than a long-dead queen. It was around here three years ago, a month after my only other marathon, while on my bike accompanying Karen for the same race that she cried out in anguish to me, "Kevin, it hurts!" I know baby, I know.

It was also around here that our pace leader shouted out that we've gotta want it. It served as a good reminder for my mantra for this race. No longer was I using "effortless" or "embrace the pain" that I used for the half-marathon, but the simple two syllables, "I want." I repeated a few times. I want.

Less than a mile to go, I finally realized a technique I had wanted to try for shorter races, but figured I'd do it here (no harm in experimenting during a race, right?). As I'm a cyclist as well, and have parts of my legs that weren't quite over-sore yet, I decided to bend my knees a little more to use different muscles and run lower to the ground to see what would happen. It worked! It was a little easier and I could speed up a bit. So noted, for future races, if I can ever remember. Still, I wasn't severing my umbilical cord just yet. It was between here and the finish that a few others told me later that they saw me & were cheering for me. As I was a little focused at the time, I'm sure they will forgive me that I neither acknowledged nor even noticed most of them, but let me take this opportunity to thank you all for the cheering! I was only 1/2 mile from the end of this self-dare, by Lloyd Hall, that I did see Rick when he called out to me from the left side. Not privy to Heather's exploits a few miles prior, he also ran along the sidewalk, keeping pace, cheering me on every little bit.

It wasn't until about 0.2 left, where I was just a few feet behind the pacer, that I knew I would at least finish my 2nd marathon. A massive PR, but would it be enough to qualify for Boston, my do-or-die goal? There's more in me; I have yet to show you everything I've got. Go on, go on! What am I saving myself for? My legs partially dead, it's your heart that propels you this late in the game, and I had plenty of that, with some energy to spare. Most people think that distance racing is about pushing yourself, but they are wrong. It is about restraining yourself. It's only at the end when you unleash all that you were holding back. At this point, I can't hold back; what kind of wretched person would I be to not give it all? I didn't quit during the 40,000 previous opportunities, and I wasn't going to have come this far with nothing to show for it; I am not here simply to complete this race. I sped up. I saw it, and a few meters before the finish, I spread my arms, again in tribute to de Lima from his inspiring 2004 Olympic Marathon bronze medal finish in Athens. I knew, I knew. Bring it home, baby.

And there it was. Chip time was 3:09:50, with the clock (gun time) showing 3:10:02. I did it. I did it! Except for 300+ who finished in front of me, I won the race. Wanted to thank the pacer right there, but I had to keep moving or I'd die. Got the chip removed, got the medal, and the blanket. I just thought to myself triumphantly, "Look what I just did." The battle is not really against the clock, it is against yourself, and I did it.

After the chutes, I took Gatorade from Jenn and Julie, who were volunteering. Just like the PDR, the first racer I saw that I knew was Seebo, who after trying a few times, finally tore off his 2:45 albatross and earned 2:42. How I wished I could have seen him finish! We both congratulated each other with a hug. Again, the second was English Kevin, another strong runner, who had just raced Athens, and today rocked the 8K race.

Although my lower body was in agony, I wasn't as spent cardio-wise as I was for the PDR. I could have run a little faster (my own magic formula predicted 58 seconds faster), but this was a pass-fail class, and I passed -- qualifying for Boston -- with 69 seconds to spare. For me, a 3:10:59 was the same as a 2:30. A 3:11:00 was the same as a 5:30. I didn't want to crash & burn before, so I ran conservatively, rarely looking at my watch, and just staying with the pacer. I didn't even hit the "wall."

After hobbling around a little and realizing that my quadriceps are now having difficulty supporting my 145 pounds (possibly a bit less after this exertion!), I sat for a bit, then got up with the help of my arms and walked to the heated recovery tent for food & drink. I stayed a while until I decided that I wanted to watch some racers come in.

Walking over, I saw some from afar when I spotted Pola who had just finished and went over to her. She had accepted her finisher's medal but it wasn't around her neck yet, so I offered, and was honored to do so. We chatted for a while, me in this rather strangely suggestible state, an internalized giddiness of sorts. She was the last person I saw after the PDR, but I had to tear myself away to get to a family function then. This time, I could revel in the collective achievement. Pola became my champion, telling everyone we know that I qualified for Boston, including Ed who finished shortly after her, and her parents who came to watch. I was beaming each time (even if I lacked the energy to fully express it). It's a good thing it was on the chilly side that day, else I might have melted in front of her, an amorphous lump of Kevin right there on the ground! I usually revel from within, a calm ocean surface concealing any energy underneath, and so was content to let her do this instead of me. Most people in Philly Runners don't know that I'm generally not as extroverted as I appear at the club runs, but I have to be then as I'm in charge. Northeast Mike was there and thanked me for the great work PR did with volunteering. As with most club-related factors, I took it personally and was surprised that glowing beams of fulfillment weren't emanating from my body. That would look funny, but not more than the odd way I was now walking.

To some extent, I'm glad the 3/4 mile walk home was agonizingly slow. In this respect, I was still part of the living breathing marathon, and would be such until I retreated into myself at home, thus transforming it into something uniquely mine, rather than sharing it with all the others. Neither is necessarily better, just different.

My quadriceps were in agony, calves were not far behind, and balls of my feet joined in on the fun. The sole of my right foot, a concern, was fine, as was the left ankle. I had a bucket of ice in the freezer for my ice bath. No, the pain is not over. I procrastinated a few hours, then filled my bathtub halfway with cold water and added dozens of those little instruments of torture and watched as they grew smaller, inversely proportional to my anxiety. This will help reduce the soreness immensely. I needed to soak my legs for 10-12 minutes. First go my feet, then kneeling, then turning to sit with my legs in front. Those first two minutes were agony, and yes I was moaning a bit, and not in a good way. Must... continue! I mentioned to friends that neighbors are going to be banging on my door wondering who is being tortured! Marathoners are no stranger to pain, and after two minutes, the pain was dissipating and I was reminding myself to relax my muscles. I had brought in my kitchen timer to make sure I don't surpass 12 minutes, and never before had I discovered such a mundane thing to be so captivating.

The rest of the day was spent in quiet solace and contentment, partially realizing the extent of my personal achievement, but also simply attaching it to who I am. Heidi came for a much appreciated visit that evening, with the theme being her yelling at me for trying to do for myself, like getting up for some water when she can get for me. I remarked that tomorrow would probably be worse. Oh, it was. Legs got worse, but that's normal, balls of my feet were about the same, but my back hurt, and my right knee became the worst. Stiff, a little swollen, feeling bruised. Icing helped, and the knee became manageable enough to do a 4.5 mile recovery bike ride later, which helped the legs a little. I had a well-deserved piece of my pecan pie for breakfast. "Nearly" 8,803 runners competed in the Philly Marathon, said the press release. Of those, 5,887 finished, and I placed 362 among the finishers, top 6.149%.

I coined the term "marathon refractory period" a few years ago to describe the period of time starting when a person who finished a marathon swears never to run another, and ending when the person starts thinking, hmmm... maybe another one. There are reports of it starting before the person even finishes a marathon! Having qualified for the Boston Marathon (the only marathon you need to qualify for except for the Olympics), there's no doubt in my mind I'm racing another. But, I think my body will revolt if I try for this coming April, so I plan to tackle my 3rd marathon in Boston on April 16, 2007. Might be nice to have a "2" as the first number of my marathon PR. Compared to many other marathoners in the club, I don't run nearly as much, only 3 days a week. However, my mentality when training is that I'm running every day; it's just that many of those are "zero-mile" days. I'm still considered by many a novice marathoner, so I'm still growing in this respect.

For my first marathon in Scranton, PA (Steamtown), I must have high-fived the hands of over 100 kids while racing. This time, none. There was more pressure on me -- by only myself of course -- though I had to make sure not to be too serious. I just did the job, and did it well, and that in itself was just plain fun. The culmination not just of this years injuries and of waking up at ungodly hours on Saturday for long runs, but of my nearly five years of running was achieved that day. It is true that you can't effectively explain finishing a marathon to someone who hasn't done it, but I think its also true that you can't effectively explain finishing your second marathon and qualifying for Boston with it, to someone who hasn't. I understand now. And I am not yet finished.

Run For Clean Air race report (Apr 16, 2006)

It was a nice, but warm day when over 30 Philly Runners (yet only one Steve), with a team in each of the co-ed, women's, and men's divisions, raced. Team captains were perennial team leader Ryan, Elizabeth S, and me, with team names Future Team Champions Of The World, Fast Fems, and a repeat of the slightly mispronounceable Phil E. Runner & The Iliotibial Band.

Included on Ryan's team was our VERY FIRST PHILLY RUNNERS RECRUIT from April 2002, Jeffrey, as well as ubiquitous racer FOPR (Friend Of Philly Runners) / PRF (Philly Runners Friend) English Kevin.

Julie, English Mike, and Elizabeth's Valente were watching our stuff, and Seebo (who strangely STILL hasn't posted a Paris Marathon race report!), Erin, and others came to cheer. Thanks!

English Kevin was our first to finish, with John W as the first PR finisher, followed by a little duel between Kevin and Raymond. Heather was the first PR woman, followed by Daria and Laura B. Notable were Jim running with Elisabeth, Pat running with his son, and multiple PR first-racers. Since we had so many racers, our regular 9:30am run was cance HEY WHO WROTE THAT?! NO NO NO!

Our men's team repeated with 1st place out of 4 teams, shattering our 5K team club record. Our women's team also repeated, destroying the other 2 teams. Our co-ed team placed 7th in a tough division with 41 teams, beaten this year by the Clean Air Council's team led by PR Tim. I don't believe any bets were placed on that rivalry this year though, be it running the loop facing backwards, buying us all a round at Bishop's Collar, or doing the Rocky Steps in only a Speedo!

Both Kevin and Daria won division awards, and FOPR/PRF English Kevin did too. Good job to Tim's organization for putting on another fine race. We convened at my place after for Seth's French Toast Brunch, which effectively (and deliciously) replenished any carbs lost for this race, as well as for the next two races. Thanks, Seth!

See ya at the next club run!

Run 4 Your Life 5K race report (June 18, 2006)

Run 4 Your Life 5K on June 18 was my 2nd race of the year. Temps were to be VERY warm and although I'm good in heat... running in heat... meaning I may place higher because of it, my time will likely be a little slower. I foolishly didn't factor that in to aiming for 6:10s, to give me 19:10. I race for time, not place. I had moderate stomach/GI problems that morning, but they... worked themselves out. I felt decent for the race, although even after my ritual of soaking my legs in very hot water before a race, they weren't perfect, but race-able.

I knew Monika would race with her Dad, and I expected PRF/FOPR English Kevin in it (since he does about every race), and I saw their names on the registration list, along with Cecily Tynan, who I haven't spoken with since pre-baby (hers, of course!). And surprise, there was Gelman, sportin' a wedding band nearby. I was hoping the added weight would slow him down for me. They had 700 pre-registered plus probably a couple hundred more race-day registrants, offering plenty of prize money, so they attracted some fast Kenyans (is that redundant?), and I added about 15 places to my finish. I need a larger competitive race to push me though. Saw Ian and Veena -- not racing, ready to cheer -- and I bumped up my race place 2 because of it, and saw Pearlette shortly before the start. I lined up near Gelman and struck up a conversation with local race legend Andrea N from Bryn Mawr club.

Mile 1 was 6:08, about where I wanted, and at 1.5 was 9:15. Good. I saw English Kevin and Andrea working in the opposite direction. Mile 2 was about 6:15. Saw a bunch of folks from my cycling club and they cheered, but the heat was getting to me. Apparently, it was more so with others, as I passed 10+ racers, yet 2 smoked me in the last .1 mile, and I ended up with 19:18 watch time, only 7 seconds faster than 2 months ago. :-( Not thrilled with that... but it waaaas hot. Results strangely were not printed afterwards, though English Kevin won his division! Spoke with Gelman, Cecily, and Joe H after & they had strong performances too, even with Cecily pushing baby Luke. Good job in the heat, folks! We were allowed to pick up out race shirt & hat AFTER the race (good consideration, folks!), where they also had refreshments. And, a table with people giving out sample-sized aspirin and acetaminophen. I found that amusing. When I looked closer at the aspirin at home, I saw it expired last month. Was strangely even more amused. Took 2, and was laughing uncontrollably. Or, that might have been due to the "other" pills, I don't know. Was eating most of the day until a family gathering for Father's Day, although since my Grandfather just got home from heart surgery, it was more to see him, and running seemed a bit less important... although I'm glad running is so beneficial to the heart.

When I got home I found results online, and saw what I suspected would be the case, that I placed well, 34 of 911, top 4% (7 of 105 in my 10-year age group). This considering that 6 people finished under 14:30, and the female winner got 16:13! Pretty impressive. I might just do this one next year, they did a solid job at most everything, 'cept the heat!

Wissahickon Wanderers Distance Track Meet race report (Aug 22, 2006)

This race report is longer than the race itself! Still, there haven't been many posted in a while, so I thought why not write one? Good thing I ran a race and had some material for it.

It was to be a race-time (not just race day) decision for me, as I had a slightly nagging left hamstring/groin soreness for a couple weeks, plus on Saturday I got a cut under my left knee (which doesn't hurt until I sweat on it) and on Sunday was stung by a jellyfish at the beach on my right thigh! None would keep me from running though 'cept possibly the first, but I wanted to race... especially since it may have been my only race where transport to the race was longer than the race itself.

This was not only my first track race, but also my first evening race, and my first miler. Since I'm racing Boston Marathon in April, I'm not racing distance this year, so it was ripe for me to get a miler in. After stretching and warming up, and chatting with others from Philly Runners and Wissahickon Wanderers, the official had us line up. It was a cavalcade of Kevins, which amused me, with Kevin J at pole position, me to his right, then English Kevin to my right. It's reassuring with so many unknown factors to have so many people I know here.

The gun sounded and we were off. This was the first, the faster, of the two 1-mile heats. Having never done this before, I set a goal of 5:30 time, one that was probably attainable, but not easy. Only 13 of us were in this heat, with 14 in the next. We were pretty bunched at the start, as we approached two people jogging on the inside lanes, who were apparently oblivious to the outside world, meaning us, for the past half hour of preparations. I whistled and clapped at them to get their attention, and someone else shouted out. One jogger asked if this was a meet, and English Kevin, in his usual vulgar, sardonic wit, said something about this being a book club, albeit in much more colorful language. They got out of our way quickly. In retrospect, we must have been a pretty imposing sight, bearing down on them! But, it did later give me amusing ideas for a "competitive" book club.

I couldn't see who I led, since I was looking only ahead, but I did see Kevin J a few steps in front of me. His lead of a few seconds would gently fluctuate during the race, but I was also in front of others and widening the lead on them I think. Lap one was quick. I don't recall the pace, but faster than I planned, although 1/4 miles progress quickly anyway! There's not much one can do to compensate in such a short race. Kevin's wife Christine and baby Silas were there shouting for Kevin... but since that's my name too, I can be an intended recipient!

With a small field, my place in the race seemed secure unless I falter, although Kevin's lead was increasing on me. Lap 2 and 3 were similar; I estimated up to a 5 second lead. It's hard to strategize, as the thing is over so quickly! I think mental fortitude is more important on distance races, but it doesn't hurt here too! I know I put in the required training, including on a track for the first time, and could do a good job.

When do you start your final kick on a mile race? I have no clue. I did it starting the final straightaway, but realized after the race that I should have sooner. So noted for next time. I started gaining on Kevin J when I started kicking, and right after I heard footsteps creeping on me. I dared not turn around to see who it was -- it's irrelevant anyway -- and trying to escape phantom runner is good for mental momentum. It would be interesting to figure which is more of a motivator: trying to catch someone ahead of you, or trying to escape someone approaching you. I closed the gap to one second behind Kevin J when I finished, and mystery man, who turned out to be mystery woman Laura F, was one second behind me. Kevin J told me that he heard my footsteps behind him and saw my shadow, which helped him push at the end. Good for him! Phantom woman Laura F helped me similarly, and, in an odd bit of obstetrical phrasing, I thanked her for being partially responsible for delivering two Kevins a few seconds faster.

I broke my 5:30 goal with a time of 5:19.40. Could I have run faster? Sure, but it was a strong debut, and I doubt I could have improved my finish more than a few seconds. The mid-80s temperature certainly hindered things a few seconds. Cooler weather and an earlier kick would have returned me sooner, but it was a good confidence boost, and a good validation for the hard training I've been putting in for the past few months! It was the first time that I broke the 70% mark for age-graded results! I don't expect it to be my last.

Roman Run race report (Nov 12, 2006)

That noise you hear is my 3 year old 5K PR shattering... or crying, as a 3 year old is wont to do

This was to be my last opportunity of the year to set a 5K PR, as my body yearned for rest, and I had to stop denying it! The Roman Run on Kelly Drive was to serve as my coliseum, Sunday, the 12th of November.

The running and cycling in the days leading up to it were to be gentle. Gently, I reminded myself while doing it, like one of the prevalent autumn leaves tenderly gliding to the ground. The reminder served to bolster my confidence, that the requisite hard speed work and other challenging training were already put in. My three year old PR had to fall.

Unfortunately, my stomach and upper back had been bothering me for a day or two. That's almost de rigueur for my stomach, and I wonder if, since I don't outwardly appear nervous anticipating a race, that's how my body manifests it. Oh well. My lower back is never great, but when my upper back hurts, that can be a problem.

The weather forecast two days prior called for cold, rain, and wind. Since I had neither recourse nor control of this, I stopped checking it; it would only aggravate me. The morning prior, I played "Taps" at a Veteran's Day ceremony in perfect race weather. I would have gladly performed out there in cold, rain, and wind, with a nice suit and my trumpet, to get these conditions for the next morning, but somehow that wasn't an option.

I kept Saturday evening quiet and my back was getting a little better when I went to bed. A phone call woke me up at 4:15am! Well, the message did, as my ringer was turned off, and all I heard was the woman saying, "Hi, umm" and pressing redial a couple times. Since my sleep pattern is a bit precarious, I feared that this was all the sleep I'd get... but after a while, I did manage to return to sleep.

Better news greeted me the next morning. Not cold (but humid), no rain, and less wind. Did my normal morning routines plus my vital pre-race routine of soaking my legs in hot water to warm up the muscles. A little stretching and I ran off to Lloyd Hall to pick up my packet. Spoke with Jim, Broad Street Run race director, and Northeast Mike, who were both working the race. Friendly, familiar faces help allay some trepidation I may have with the race, though it was time for some warm-up miles, which I feel I had partially neglected in my 5K race three weeks ago.

Not only were Shanley and Elizabeth S #3 racing, but so were Sue (whose husband was often the oldest racer) and another guy I've seen before who looks a little out of place, with skinny legs and bulky on top. He's deceptively fast though, so when we lined up, I went to him and asked his pace or goal time, but he didn't speak English. I asked, "Espagnol" and he nodded; too bad I never learned Spanish. The only phrase I know, "siempre usa condones," I thought might not be quite relevant or even appropriate. It means "always use condoms."

Jim started the race and my legs felt slightly anguished early on. I knew I was going too fast, but I was scared to slow down. Around the dirt path divergence was long-lost Emily M running with a friend the other way and she shouted out some words of encouragement. I gave her a thumbs up; I try to remain silent when racing... except for some grunts that inevitably escape near the end. It was 5:35 for the initial mile. Way too fast, and my conversation with Craig 20 minutes prior, that the two 5K races I've done well in had too-fast opening miles, reminded me that I told him that I was NOT planning on racing that way today. Never mind! The good news is that if the race were to end there, I knew I could have gone 17 seconds faster for a 1-mile PR.

After the turnaround, Shanley and I saw each other, then Elizabeth, both keeping a strong pace. Most of the rest of my race was filled with various manifestations of pain, but that's what I'm here for. Internal declarations of self-doubt repeatedly traded spots with self-confidence. Like my previous 5K three weeks ago, I decided that no matter where I am, at minute 16:00 I would kick it, and I did, soon after picking off the man who passed me a minute or two before. My head was starting to hurt a little and I wondered how much I was overloading my circuitry. I knew it would be close here. Potential Olympian Jenae and I passed each other around the start of Boathouse Row, and as I was racing and she wasn't, it might be the only time passing each other that I was running harder than her! I couldn't yet make out the finish clock but I did see -- and hear, shouting his encouragement -- Craig. I want this. If there was anything good about the race three weeks ago, it's that I realized I can mentally compensate for a physical weakness.

It was 18:25 when I crossed the finish line. Bam, I got it. A 10-second PR (30 seconds faster than the 5K three weeks prior) and I knew I got over 70% age-graded time. Somewhat lacking the strength or coordination to do it myself, I let the lady pull off the tear-tag and I hobbled out of the chute. My kingdom for a place to sit, and I don't recall if it was on a bench or a curb, but it was still expending less energy than standing. Cradling my face in my hands with very labored breathing compelled a guy near me (non-racer, but involved with the race) to ask if I was okay. Extending my non-talking beyond the race, I gave him a thumbs up. He asked if I needed water, but I waved him off. I wanted, but I'll get that myself in a moment. He said in a friendly way something about leaving me alone. I didn't mind him talking, as long as it didn't obligate me to reply! I got up for some water and then went to meet Craig. Next up was Shanley in a strong finish, then Elizabeth with a pace that pleasantly surprised her when I calculated it... and this after running the loop for her first time the day prior! It was over 30 seconds faster than my predicted time for her (which she didn't know). I told Shanley that she (Shanley) probably placed, but she disagreed. We all chatted for a while, but since the awards ceremony was delayed, they had to leave.

Shortly into the awards ceremony, Shanley was called for her division! When I went up to retrieve her medal, I assured them that I'm not her (they laughed) but that she had departed. It was gratifying to have my friend win and accept it on her behalf. Soon after, I was up again, to collect my third place division medal. I assured them that this one was mine. They laughed again... easy crowd; must have been all that beer that they provided to adult racers (really!), and then they took my photo. He told me to stay up there for any other awards people didn't claim, but I escaped.

Of the five races this year (tying my record from 2001, my first year running), this 18:25.23 (5:55.7 pace) was the only one of the four 5K races (the other was my first miler in August, which went well) that I was very pleased with. Considering the calculated training I did for short races this year, I thought I would physically be able to race this faster, but my attempt three weeks ago compelled me not go for sub-18, but simply PR. I suppose that since all the calculated training can give you a quantitative measure of your physical attempts, that's what one focuses on, but I didn't give myself enough credit for the mental improvements. This latter was, in my opinion, more responsible for this triumphant race. That's my race swan song of the year, but from it, I know I'm competitive again. Boston awaits.

Boston Marathon race report (Apr 16, 2007)

I flew back from Boston the day after the Marathon. Race conditions weren't nearly as apocalyptic as they had forewarned (even though they were still calling it Monsoon Monday), though I still have the ominous weather advisory they handed out at the expo. Still not pleasant, but I went in to RACE (if conditions were too bad, it would have just been a run). The hilly course didn't faze me much; I'm a good uphill runner, and I trained up & down on the steep Lemon Hill loop near me. It was my body that killed me. My stomach gave me minor issues soon into the race (actually, it was attempting to assert its independence even as I was lining up). This is usually my biggest concern, and I had a very minor cramp (I don't think it impacted me much), though more disconcerting was that I knew I had to find a porto-potty (bushes wouldn't be sufficient), yet I never felt like I was "ready" to go. My left quadriceps starting bothering me intensely between miles 4 and 6, and later on my lower-mid back was hurting.

My bus got us there later than expected and didn't let us out until about 25-30 minutes before the race, so I hadn't time to stretch or warm-up like those from earlier buses, since I needed to change to some dry clothes (it was raining again) and get to the gear check and to the corral before they drop the corral barricades and the slower racers mix in. THAT was a major negative. I had about 1 mile warm-up while wearing extra stuff to keep me warm and dry, but my body needs about 4.

Still, while the 1st 5k progressed almost exactly how it should (actually, a bit slower due to the expected congestion at the start, and then getting into my groove), during the 2nd 5k I was already hurting, yet I successfully managed the perfect desired pace, and still very close with the 3rd 5k in what was plenty of pain. At the half-marathon mark (21.1k), I was off my goal pace, but remarkably still on target for my fastest marathon. Things really started falling apart then, and I had to walk a LOT, in part because of my stomach and both quads. I took only one energy gel the entire race, though I had four on me. This was a problem since I needed more energy than just the Gatorade I took at some water stops, but I didn't think my stomach could tolerate more, despite accepting them fine in training. There were plenty of spectators handing out orange wedges, and I could fortunately handle one at a time.

But it became more of a Boston Death March for me, especially since I felt like I was toast at around mile 10 or 11. Kissed 1 or 2 of the Wellesley Girls at midway obeying their famous sign-invitations traditions, which I probably would -not- have done were I racing, but by this time I knew it wouldn't happen that day (the fact that I don't recall if I kissed 1 or 2 tells a lot about my condition!). By around mile 17 or 18, I couldn't run more than a mile or so without stopping to walk (my lungs were fine, though), which I did when I took water or Gatorade. Though tempting, I never took any beer that was offered! I did get three compliments on my shoelaces (I put on a red one when I signed up for Philly Marathon 2005, and now a "radioactive" yellow one, too).

I counted, and this was my 21st race, and no doubt my worst performance based on my capability. Still, I found out some things which I wouldn't have, had I done well. The most inspiring, even amongst the two wheelchair competitors I passed struggling to get up hills and the below-the-knee amputee, was all the support I received from the amazing Boston crowds. They cheer for anyone, but if you're struggling and walking, they are all pulling for you. And if that convinces you to resume running? Their "mission" of propelling you having proven successful, they go WILD! I admit, there were a couple times that I resumed running sooner because of them. Thank you, Boston.

Finally, going uphill around mile 25, my left quads started spasming a bit. Not good, but I calmly stopped off to the side and stretched them a bit, then resumed. Spasms were gone. Shortly after that, I actually felt a little better, despite the 1 x 1.5cm blister on my 4th left toe (which won't stop me) I uncovered later. My stomach was "settling" a bit, the stretching helped, or perhaps it could partly be attributed to the swelling crowds, but I was finally able to pick up the pace. I noticed others walking in pain, and also heard the spectators, effectively our fans, encouraging them in their Bostonian accents. "You've come too fahh to give up now!" one shouted to another runner in pain. Of all the people who passed me before, I certainly must have passed a hundred in the last mile. I was glad it was over, but considering I wanted to end it 15 miles ago, I am satisfied I toughed it out for 3:42:04, about 37 minutes slower than planned. I'm impressed I was able to hold my pace as long as I did during the first half, considering the pain. Taking into account how many minutes I walked, the latter miles (when I was actually running) were probably still a decent pace. After the race, when I exited the train for my friend's place (3 miles from the finish), rather than walking the two uphill blocks to her home, I procrastinated by staying and cheering for the current racers. Some of them saw my finisher's medal and congratulated me. I shouted that there's one waiting for them with their names on it, and they just need another three miles and I want them to claim it! I hope they did.

It just wasn't in me on Marathon Monday, but I know it's there waiting for my next race.

Run For Clean Air race report (Apr 19, 2008)

The Run For Clean Air 5K was my first ever race, back in 2001 when there were about 600 finishers. I had been running only a few months before, and was pleasantly surprised when I surpassed my goal time. I've missed the race only twice since: once when I was injured, and last year when I was about to race Boston Marathon. This time, there would be 1,485 finishers.

In the days leading up to a race, I get hit on occasion with pangs of apprehension, and sometimes have stomach problems, perhaps a manifestation of the former. This time, I decided to embrace it rather than trying to fend it off. When I had time, I lay on my bed with the lights off and imagined myself racing. Summoning all that psychology education, I used self-guided imagery to place myself at the race that morning. I was intimately familiar with the course, making it easier. I briefly felt my pulse a couple times, and I'm sure it was 100-120. I must be pretty convincing!

I had slept fairly well leading up to the race, which is often a concern of mine (along with my temperamental stomach). I wake 2 hours before a nearby race, since it allows me 20-30 minutes to soak my legs in hot water to loosen them up and have sufficient time for 3-4 warm-up miles plus stretching. I know what my body needs. The alarm was for 7 (an hour before I normally wake), but I woke without it at 6:30, then just rested in bed for a while. All I ingested was apple juice and water, but took a gel with me to consume 30 minutes before the race.

Weather was moderately warm (I do well in that), partly sunny, fairly dry, and minimal wind. Good conditions, and a perfect contrast to my Boston Marathon one year ago! I found Seth, ran a couple miles and took the gel, then chatted with some friends to allay my nervousness. Teammates Sebastiaan and Ron joined me for a final easy mile, then I changed into my Philly Runners race tank-top. I drank some water and lined up near some teammates who I thought would slightly beat me in this race, as I'm never in peak form in the spring.

I changed my race strategy the previous night. Rather than trying for even or slightly negative splits, I set to go fast for mile 1, and try to hold that for another 1/2 mile. For my fastest 5K races, I had gone out at what seemed like a too-fast pace for mile 1, and though I slowed for mile 2, I was rewarded with a good race time. I had recently read that a fast mile 1 is a viable 5K strategy. My goal was around 19 minutes. A little above and I wouldn't complain much. In 2006, I ran 19:25, 10 seconds faster than 2005. I was hoping to continue 10 seconds faster per year, so around 19:05 this time.

At the gun, I was slightly boxed in as usual, but figured it was keeping me from shooting out like a cannon. I saw Rick ahead, Wesner at times, and Helen caught me and said hi. While Helen is quick (and would end up winning the female division), I was wondering if this was a bit too fast for her. I asked what she had for breakfast, since it obviously was propelling her fast! Mile 1 was 5:47, which ironically is the exact pace I need to break 18 minutes, my ultimate goal. I was 2-3 seconds behind gun time. I would have been content anywhere between 5:40 and 6:10 or so. I was slowly passing some people, and at the turnaround saw that I was maintaining pace pretty closely. The next few minutes involved some racers cheering for me by name while we passed in opposite directions, which is always a boost, even if I can't reciprocate (I may grunt "hey" or hold up a hand if I can). Mile 2 was 11:54 or so, I think. Okay, that's 6:07 pace, 20 seconds slower, but not a cause for concern. Mile 2 is usually the slowest. At around 2.5 I overtook teammate Kevin B. audibly struggling. I called out, trying to encourage him. I know that agony, and respect it.

As I have with my past few 5K races, I decided that no matter where I was, at 16:00 I needed to kick it, and I did. I wasn't nearly frothing at the mouth like when I set my PR in November 2006, but I was pushing. One time, during a race on the same course, I misjudged the distance at the next-to-last straightaway and thought I was closer to the finish, so I eased up a bit. Not this time. I was almost certain for the past mile that I'd finish under 19, but a PR contention was possible! I did spy teammate Rick up ahead, but wasn't looking at my watch. I was just delivering, and when I finally saw the clock in the distance, I didn't think I would break the PR, but I was not finished. Bring it in!

18:29.2 chip time. wow. Wow! Not a PR; 4 seconds slower, but this annihilated every other spring race I've ever done. It's a Spring 5K PR... by 56 seconds! I was spent, but not as extreme as my other races of similar time. I give Kevin B. some credit for my race, as he's pushed me during the club runs the past couple months. This instills in me much confidence to break that elusive 17:59 goal of mine in several months, as I usually gain a full minute on a 5K from spring to fall!

I hobbled around for just a minute or two, then went to Seth to retrieve my camera for some race shots, and Rick and I met up. These big races are almost reunions of sorts, as there are people I haven't seen in a while.

Results were posted piecemeal, but found that Wesner was 14th (and won a division award), Rick was 17th and I was 19th. Helen, Joe, and Kevin B. weren't far behind. I then eagerly awaited the awards ceremony to see if we won the male division. Local television meteorologist "Hurricane" Schwartz was presenting, and they announced the individual winners, and then the team winner. We won! Five of us went to claim our medals and prize.

I finally took some of the ice-cream they served post-race! One of my favorite foods, I rarely imbibe, but I always give myself blanket permission for any food post-race. As I often do, I hung around to absorb it all, talked to friends, recounted the race, and took a few extra apples when they cleaned up, then thanked some of the sponsors for being a part of the race (I'm surprised at how often they aren't thanked), then I walked over to the club to say hi and show our hardware. It's always nice to share it with your team, training partners, and club. This is a great start to the running season!

Roman Run race report (Nov 9, 2008)

Changed into my mesh tank top just before the race, with my running shorts and little red gloves. Lined up right just behind the front few people, at Lloyd Hall. Wet leaves lined boathouse row, which I was kicking up. Only cost me a second or two overall, but now I have bragging rights of racing so fast to cause it!

Kudos to them for having the 1/2 mile marked: 2:45. That's the fast edge of what I desired, but in the range (I planned to start at a semi-ridiculously fast pace). I apparently slowed a bit to hit the mile in about 5:42. Turn around was at 9:00... on target for my exact 17:59 goal (5:47 pace). A few people recognized me and were now calling me by name, which is appreciated. Must have slowed more during the next part; I don't remember mile two (well, the time anyway... I do remember the pain), but with 1/2 mile left, my watch read 15:12. A 5:47 pace now places me about 6-7 seconds OVER goal and I tried to kick it as planned here, but was only able to maintain 5:47. No runners were near me when I landed in at 18:06, 7th overall, and winning the 30-39 age division and a medal. A 19 second PR!

My friend Alyssa followed 2:00 after, placing 2nd overall female, winning a trophy and $75. I propositioned her before the race... whoever wins any prize money buys the other a drink or sandwich with the winnings. I'm quite good at scoping out the competition and figured she'd have a better shot than me. :-) I've been celebrating the end of race season by eating much ice-cream. Yum.

Parkway Run race report (Sep 30, 2018)

I had never raced the Parkway Run 5K until 2012. Before that, I was twice the bike lead-out for the wheelchair racer, giving me the opportunity to participate while other friends raced. In 2012, I raced it with Christie O. and James P. (and over 1,000 others) with the sub-18 goal I challenged myself with back in 2003. Just beyond the start, I was boxed in by two people who had no business starting up front, and it took several seconds at a slower pace to pass them. I finished 16th in 18:08 and, although I'm not sure if I would have hit my sub-18 goal, I almost definitely would have broken my 18:06 PR set in 2008 were it not for them. But that's bygone. Since then, preventing me from racing were injuries in 2013 and iron issues in 2015. The iron issues, after multiple procedures and tests were unrevealing, were most likely attributable to donating blood too frequently, so that stopped for a while resulting in prompt improvement.

I raced a track 5K in November 2015 which was disappointing. I was out of race practice, the race conditions weren't great, and I later discovered some of my labwork hadn't yet returned to normal. Despite plantar fasciitis in 2016, I raced a 10K with Mily. I hadn't raced a 10K since 2003, so a PR should have been a done deal, and it easily was... except the course was mismeasured (I can interpolate a PR, but I can't be exact). A couple months later I raced a solid possibly a PR 5K, but it, too, was mismeasured! This is quite unusual and extremely frustrating. For my final 2016 race, I raced the same track 5K (I knew it would be accurately measured) with Paul M. to an 18:11. Not good enough, but a strong race showing I still had it. Plantar fasciitis worsened, leading to minimal running in 2017. But my patience, taking time off, was prudent, as it allowed me to heal, and 2018 had been a great training year.

Mily registered a week before this race, which drew me in slightly more. I managed to sleep well for the two nights before the race, which is unusual. Perhaps not being registered, thus not obligating me to race, and telling myself that I don't have to race assuaged some apprehension. I'd register on race morning if desired.

Conditions looked quite good approaching the date, and that morning proved true: temperature around 60, minimal wind, dry. Sunny, though that's no problem. Should I race? "You must risk something that matters," croons Tom Waits. Better to have risked and failed than to not have risked, even though my feelings of disappointment would far outweigh those of victory, but that's just how I am. What am I waiting for? "We'll never be as young as we are right now," sings Jim Steinman, and so this opportunity for both great race conditions and great fitness levels converging should be seized before my age starts impeding the latter (and the calendar impedes the former, albeit just until next spring), so I jogged with my money to register. My body felt good. Jogged home with the race shirt and bib to change into my mesh tank-top. Ate some jellybeans, drank some water and headed out for a couple more warm-up miles, which I need. Okay, time to race.

In the corral, Mily was just a bit behind me to the right. Faith was slightly further back, Dieter to my left. All three had triumphant races here last year and I'm glad they were all racing again, especially since Mily had doubts, Faith flew in from Europe the previous evening, and Dieter just returned from injury. Faith had commented on my glove-wearing, and I responded that I wear them with the slightest provocation of cold. I can easily toss them before or during the race, but keeping them won't heat me up, in contrast to other clothing that would make me uncomfortable if it gets warm. I also noticed a few people who had no business starting up front, but I positioned myself where it should have minimal impact. The start was delayed a couple minutes a couple times, but then we were off and that was the last I'd see for a while of Mily, Dieter, and Faith.

Late September in Philadelphia is pretty. Running down the renowned Ben Franklin Parkway on a cool, calm, sunny day is an enviable position to be in. On another day, anyone would be tempted to proverbially (and possibly literally) stop to smell the roses and admire the beautiful still-blooming flora juxtaposed, often integrated, with a cityscape of combined historic and brand spanking new. But today is a race, and I have work to do. My goal pace is 5:45 - 5:47. Mile 1 is 5:35, but this doesn't worry me, as some of my fastest races have had the opening mile too fast. Plus, I'm not sure the cheerleaders are holding the sign at the exact spot. This is a good confidence boost and I feel like I could do it this morning, and tell myself such. Mile 2, also with cheerleaders holding the sign, is around 5:55. Okay, too slow, and some doubts crept in, displacing some of those confident thoughts, but I'm still on target. My breathing is still somewhat controlled, a good sign. Hit the turnaround and I soon see Dieter and Mily coming towards me. At this point, I really don't know how likely I was to make my sub-18 goal. Not just because of inevitable doubting, but the calculations in my mind were cutting it precariously close. I know where the 1/2 mile and 1/4 mile points were on King Drive, but that's if we finish where the road diverges like many races used to; we are running slightly farther to finish in front of the art museum and I don't know how much time it takes between the old and new finish lines! Plus, the new finish is uphill, and though that's a strength of mine, not so much after sprinting three miles!

The clock is ticking up, opposite to my energy level, but I am not yet done. This is gonna be WAY CLOSE with no room for faltering. The finish clock is technically NOT the official time, and although it shouldn't differ from the official time, I can't rely on it. But that's all I can grasp on to right now, and I cross the finish line as I see the clock change from 17:58 to 17:59. Yes! Yes! If I had any energy left, I would have been jumping! Instead, I anticlimactically hobble to the side barricade for something to clutch and hold that lifesaver for an hour (in reality, 30-45 seconds) while my breathing eases from redline to simply very labored. Someone hands me a bottle of water and I walk out of the chute so I can at least see the next finishers, even if I currently lack the energy to cheer or even the volition to open that bottle. But I do see all three of my friends as they finish! I hear the announcer speak Faith's name as she approaches the finish line, and I wonder if he had done the same for me, though I likely would have been oblivious to it. In the same vein, when an acquaintance sent a photo of me near the finish, there were several walker-participants near me, yet I recall no one save the other racer, and I had to examine the photo in amazement to verify that it was indeed by the finish because of the presence of the walkers due to my tunnel vision and eyes on the prize!

Mily and I find each other a few minutes later. I don't recall if she even asks about my time, but her face is bursting with curiosity and I know what she's not saying. I give her a thumbs-up and she gives me a big hug and seems more excited than me. I know she isn't happy with her performance, 12 seconds slower than last year, but we can both share my victory, especially since she likely had a part in it. She was easily the 1st woman last year; this year the 3rd (and 1st in her division; #26 overall). Dieter finished slightly before Mily, though considering his condition (he normally would beat me), he should be proud: #24 and #3 in his division. Faith finished a couple minutes back, but still a strong performance. If they gave Master's awards, I would have won it by 32 seconds. I won my division by 1 minute 43 seconds and I'd like to thank Ferdinand for not racing! Of 1,886 finishers, I came in 8th. My official 17:59.19 at age 45 gives an age performance of 77.09% and an age-graded time of 16:22! Over 70% is quite good, and this is likely my highest. Perseverance, patience, and persistence pay off!

Achieving your goal, even a 15-year one, isn't transcendent, despite the sporadic melodrama of this race report. But I'm both a part of something bigger than me and expanding who I am, and just as important, contributing. Not just to me, but runners around me. Even just a cog in the machine is important to make it run smoothly. Let's see what the next one brings.