Monday, December 31, 2012

Running to the Moon

Last night I joined a virtual running group - Moon Joggers. The link will take you to their blog. Moon Joggers was started by two sisters (one in Texas and one in Utah). From the idea of setting a 2013 running goal for themselves, Ashley and Angie ended up inviting people - via their blog and Facebook - to join them in a quest to run or walk enough miles to get to the moon. That's about 500,000 miles roundtrip!

The concept for the group is to pledge as a team or an individual to run or walk 1000 miles in 2013. Folks can also pledge as an ultimate participant to go 2013 miles in 2013. Ashley and Angie decided that this is a walking and running group so bike, swim or go-cart miles are not counted in the totals. I signed on for 1000 miles as an individual. After I signed up, I figured I'd better see if my training plan would fit. I did a rough caculation of my expected miles in training for Bob Potts and it came to just 4 miles shy of where I'd need to be at the end of May to make 1000 by the end of the  year. The challenge, then, will be getting enough miles in the next 7 months when I switch my emphasis to biking in preparation for the Century ride in September. The goal will keep me on my feet! 

I also love that a group of strangers can come together to do something like this. The participants in the virtual group are from all over the world. The New Zealanders have already posted their first miles of the year! Several of them did mignight runs.  There is a man from Kamploops, BC! That's where Carmen and Todd and the boys live. What are the chances I'd 'meet' someone else from there. I love it!

Ashley and Angie have encouraged people to post pictures of themselves labeled with their hometown on Facebook. I used a funny photo (above) from a few years ago when Dave and I visited the Hagley Museum and Dupont Library. When we took this photo I had no idea there would be such a fun use for it. Never underestimate the need for goofy photos of yourself!

I love this whole idea. I learned about it when Helen, one of my running buddies,  posted it to Facebook yesterday.  I wish I had noticed it sooner. If I had, I would have recruited some of my family members to join me on a team. A few years ago my sisters - Katie, Meg and Christine - had our own virtual trek across the United Staes on the American Discovery Trail. If I remember correctly we did manage to get to California in just about a year. My niece, Cara, has recently taken up running and I'm sure she would have joined the team as well. And heck we could all use a little motivation to excercise more! Maybe next year. :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Training Week #3 - December 24-30

Monday - I skipped my YAYOG ladders tonight. Stripping paint and wallpaper and washing the walls has been workout enough for my upper body. I'm pretty sure if I even tried a pushup right now my arms would break. I have a four mile run scheduled for tomorrow which I'm looking forward to. Merry Christmas eve!

Tuesday - Merry Christmas. I went out for 4 mile run today. I felt a little stiff in the beginning but got in the groove of it pretty quick. In the last mile I felt a numbness/tingling in my left hip. It felt like there was something caught in my hip. The feeling passed before the run was over though.  Garmin stats I don't know what the extra lap is about. I probably hit the button accidentally. My heart rate is weird at the beginning (not just on this one). I think it's because the monitor is not connecting to my skin right off. I should wet the contacts. In summer that's not an issue but I guess it is in winter. I really need to work on keeping my pace steadier. If it's going to flucutate I should be aiming for the negative split - slower in the beginning and faster at the end.

Tomorrow will be a challenge. I prefer to do biking for the cross days and strength work. The forecast is for rain and wind and a flood advisory. At the moment we are on the snow/rain line so it will be a mess. I will likely skip the bike but if it's not too bad I might go for a walk instead of bike. We'll see.

Wednesday - I did opt for the walk. The forecast today includes a flood watch and the maps show the I-95 corridor on the snow/sleet/rain line. Precipitation is not expected until the afternoon but the clouds were rather ominous looking. I'd rather get stuck walking in rain/snow than biking.

I walked around Media, exploring some side streets I don't usually go on since they are cul de sac streets. I was out for a little over an hour. I ended up at the Acme to pick up some things but I turned off the Garmin in the store thinking that I was going to go there anyway so in the store shouldn't figure into my exercise minutes. Garmin stats. I didn't wear the heart monitor this time. Although I guess I could/should have to get a feel for where I'm at in all kinds of activities. The change in pace for the third mile had to be while I was on State Street. I was taking my time there checking in on the stores. I love Media. :)

When I came home I did a Tabata routine which included push ups, pointers, swimmers and bicycles.

Thursday- the usual 60 minute outing and today I was supposed to mix in speed-work. Do you know how much I dislike speed- work? Let me count the ways. Actually just take my word for it - I HATE speed-work and leave it at that or we may be counting for a very long time.

I've been wanting to get a more accurate reading on my max heart rate. The formulas available are not always accurate. So today I was going to do run/walk intervals over to Springton Lake Middle School and then use the track there to try Jenny Hadfield's workout for finding the heart rate.

It was not a good day. I did more walking than running on my way to the track. It was like walking to the gallows. Again, I HATE speed-work and although I know I can do it I just couldn't convince myself to run hard for 2 minutes at a time. I did do a few shorter hard/slow intervals so the workout was not a total waste of time but my heart just wasn't in it. No pun intended. I walked the slow intervals instead of jogging them. Garmin Stats 

Tomorrow is a rest day and Saturday I'll be going out for 9 miles at Forbidden Drive.

Saturday - 9 miles today. You can read some of the details here. Here are the Garmin Stats I impressed with the more or less steadiness of the pace. Lap #5 was when we stopped to take a photo at the turn around marker and the last lap was the downhill finish. :) The rest are a lot closer to each other than they usually are. I'm surprised at the lower average heart rate compared to last Saturday's run. The average pace was slower too, though, so I guess that makes sense.

Sunday - I get a fail for today. I did not do 90 minutes of cross. I knew the bike was not going to happen early on. Saturday's snowstorm blew out but the winds that did so remained. The gusts were pretty awesome (but not for bike riding) and the wind chills were in the teens. The funk I felt on Saturday seemed linger. I slept almost 11 hours from Saturdy to Sunday. Breakfast didn't sit real well at first. I decided to get to work on finishing the bedroom renovation and see how I felt after that. I thought if I felt up to it I'd go to Ridley Creek State Park and hike instead of bike.

We spent 5+ hours finishing up. This including cleaning not only our mess upstairs but the corresponding dust and grime that filtered downstairs as well. I showered and even changed into clothes suitable for hiking. A few minutes later I switched to my jeans and a sweatshirt. I'm tired. I'm not thrilled at missing a day like this but it is what it is. I know there will be other days like this and I know that I am not bailing out of laziness this time. I'm bailing for the need of some rest.

Next week is a drop back week. I only have 5 to do on Saturday. This week also brings in the New Year and many of my running/walking buddies will be meeting on New Year's day for a run or walk followed by breakfast at the Collegeville diner. I'm looking forward to that.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Long Run at Forbidden Drive

Today I had 9 miles on my schedule. At 8 am I was at the Northwestern Avenue entrance to Forbidden Drive with John T., Julius, Maggi & Russ. We waited until just a few minutes after 8 for three others who said they might be there then we took off.

John T at our turn around
The 4 1/2 mile marker
John T did the whole 9 miles with me. I was very grateful for his company once again. Long miles (any miles really) are better with friends. Today the temps were again near the freezing mark but unlike last week there was very little wind. The skies were overcast and snow was predicted. Running in snow is a nice experienc. At Forbidden Drive even more so.  The trail winds along the Wisahickon Creek on one side and steep slopes on the other side with paths leading up to more rugged trails. We stayed on the 'lower' trail today. We never got the snow. We did get showered with something that was a cross between hail and packing peanuts however. It stuck to some of the less tree covered portions of the trail.
Packing peanut snow
I was feeling very sluggish this morning. My legs felt like lead and my breathing was labored. Part of the breathing was our pace. It was faster than I would have gone on my own. I fell a few steps behind John in a few places but caught up on the walk portions. The second half of the run went much smoother for me and as a result felt like it was faster. I don't think it was but I was feeling better and that's good enough. I felt some tightness in the back of my right knee around mile 8 but it didn't last long. The uneveness of the path could have contributed to that. I did some stretches when I got home as usual.

When we arrived at the trail today we saw this young man on his unicylce. I took this photo about an hour and 40 minutes or so later about a half mile from the end of our run. While we were running he was riding the unicylce - not on the lower trail where we were - but up in the hills alongisde us. I've run up there. It's full of rocks and tree roots. It's a 'real' trail. I can't wrap my head around how he does it! The gentleman in the photo with him rode a two wheel bicycle up and down the lower trail. They were together. The older man is likely the unicylde rider's ride home. :)

Valley Green Inn
2.5 miles from the start/end of our run
 As I type this (it's 6 pm) and I'm feeling a little yukky. Achy mostly. I really hope I'm not coming down with something. Although if I am that would help explain my sluggishness this morning. I felt better running into the wind last week than in no wind today. Hopefully a good night sleep will take care of whatever it is.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas should be more about the simple things. Judging by the squeal of delight when she opened this gift, a bag of popcorn was exactly what Erin wanted for Christmas.

Last night we had our annual Christmas celebration with my dad, step mom, sister and our respective familes. Well almost all our respective families. Jimmy and Corinne got their dates mixed up. Jimmy was very surprised when we called him a little after 6 to ask "How far away are you?". His answer, I'm at home and Corinne was at work. They thought we we getting together on January 23rd. In their defense, the past few years we have had this get together in January. Most of us acutally prefer it in January - after the hustle and bustle of the rest of the holiday stuff. However, this year Dad and Dinana are going to Florida for the entire month of January (simply because they can now).

We had a lovely dinner of baked tortellinis and salad. Dinana's baked tortellinis are a family favorite and you could see each of us grin as we walked in the door and smelled it cooking.

Amanda and Bruce
Arron and Emma

After dinner we sat in the living room for the reading of "Red Ranger Came Calling". Dad's been reading it to the girls since 2000. Part of family legend now is the year that Dad & Dinana came to our house and Dad forgot the book and the girls made him go back home and get it. Another year, we had our celebration duing a wind storm that knocked out the power and the story was read by flashlight. This year there were no such hiccups although we did break from tradition and Dad simply read from the chair by the fireplace rather than with all three girls (Emma, Amanda and Erin) gathered round him. We voted this as a better way since this caused him to hold up the book to show us all the pictures. :)

Then came the exchange of gifts. Youngest chooses a gift (for someone else) first then each person who opens one gets to choose the next. After some debate we decided that Emma and Arron would take Jimmy and Corinne's gifts with them since they would likely see both of them sometime this week. There was a brief discussion about divvying them up amongst ourselves but that didn't seem to be in keeping with the Christmas spirit.

Getting gifts is definitely fun. But I truly believe our family has more fun with the telling of stories over and over. No one is spared an emabarassing story if there is one about you to tell and I'm pretty sure no one is without one. No, I won't tell you them here. They are mostly of the kind "You had to be there". Trust me though we get a kick out of them.

Then there is the battle of the boxes. Who got the coolest box. Pretty soon it will be competition I think to see who 'give' the coolest box. Sometimes there is a fuss over who gets to take home the coolest box. Emma called dibs at dinner this year! However, Gumpop made sure that both girls got equally awesome boxes.

Here is a picture of Dave and I. We are still awake although very tired. Here are photos of our accomplishments in the bedroom rehab before going to dinner tonight.
About 3/4 of the wallpaper
is removed off the walls now
All of the paint is off the ceiling.
Obviously this was taken
before we finished for the day.

Today it's off to home depot before they closet to pick up more supplies and then back to the room for more scraping and washing of surfaces.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Training week #2; December 17-23

Here is a summary of week #2

Monday - YAYOG ladders. I did the same workout as last week. It wasn't quite as hard but I've a looooooong way to go yet.

Tuesday - 3 miles. I set out to run the same route as last week, About half way through I realized I took a slightly different beginning. I couldn't figure out why I was hitting the mile mark sooner than last time. No big deal. 3 miles is 3 miles. No shin or knee issues this week and At times when I took notice of my form I wasn't crooked this week. :) Garmin stats

Wednesday- I get partial credit for tonight. I skipped the bike ride due to darkness. I did do the Tabata routine. Tonight I mixed it up more to avoid the muscle soreness that bled into my Thursday run last week. Tonight I did a combo of sumo squats, bicycles, dirty dogs and side planks.

Next week I'm off work so I'll do my bike ride in the morning. Then beginning Jan 2 I'm going to take a yoga class that my friend Kristie M is teaching at Plymouth Whitemarsh HS Adult School. The class is 5 Wednesdays evenings. By the time it is over the sunset will have shifted enough that I can get back to bike rides on Wednesdays. Isn't it cool when things work out that way?

Thursday - My work day today was less than enjoyable. Not quite stressful but a lot of stuff that was out of my control and having to deal with people who were treading heavily on my nerves and all I could do was smile and pretend to bear it. I couldn't wait to get home and run.

I took my camera so I could take photos of Christmas lights in the neighborhood and at Rose Tree Park. The run was not without it's hiccups. For example it started raining halfway through and the strap to my headlamp came off. This last caused me to have to stop retrieve the lamp and try to get the strap back on. I tried to keep moving but finally had to stop to put it back together. Because I went out to Rose Tree Park there were some traffic delays which could not be avoided and I allowed my self to stop and take some photo there. Oh and then there was the dog out on a leash with its owner (thank goodness ) whose eyes reflected bright blue as it growled at me. If they had been red I'm sure I would have gone home after that.

Despite all that I enjoyed the run and felt much better after.

I need a brighter headlamp. This one is ok if there is no other light but I'm having trouble on neighborhood streets. In that case I can see where I'm going from the street lamp but not enough to see what obstacles or ruts may be in the road. Garmin stats

Saturday - 7 miles. At 7 am I joined Pete, John T., Maggi, Russ, Mike, Dennis, Julius and Amy for some miles along the Towpath in Manayunk. John and Julius kept me company for 7.22. The others did their own thing. Some doing more and some less. I love that we can meet and keep our own schedules.

We ran the first mile and then I switched to 3 and 1 intervals and John and Julius stayed with me. We stayed along the river and just about the 3.5 point we went up the steps to get on the Schuylkill River Trail bike path to head back. The run intervals were faster than I would have done on my own. I was failing the talk test but it was ok. I'll have to be more conservative when I get to the longer miles but for today this was fine.

The temps were in the mid 30's when we met but the wind chills were in the 20's. I added a layer at the last minute this morning and probably could have done without it. I drank water with breakfast and on the way to the run but didn't carry any on the run. This is about as long as I can or should go withiut carrying though. Garmin stats - I need to work on negative splits (slower start; faster finish) but at least my last mile today was faster than the one before :)

Sunday - 75 minutes bike - Considering I wanted to bail after 10 minutes this was a very successful workout. The temps were still in the 30s but much less wind so not quite as bone chilling. Although despite gloves my fingers were in a lot of pain when I returned and they started to warm up again. I didn't realize how cold they were while I was out there.

I was very tired this morning. The bedroom rehab we started yesterday after our morning run took a lot out of me physically. We are going to celebrate Christmas with the family this evening and want to put in more hours into the work in the bedroom so I had to get my ride in the AM if it was going to happen at all. I'm pretty sure I was even slower than last Sunday. But I kept moving and managed to get in the full 75 minutes. I spent a lot of time wandering around my own neighborhood and the various apartment and townhouse parking lots just to stay off the streets. I wasn't in the mood for traffic even as little as there was on a Sunday. I didn't want to take time to drive to any of the trails.

So lackluster it may have been but it's done :) Garmin stats

Saturday, December 22, 2012

DIY Renovations

Just getting started.
After 11 years in this house we are finally tackling our bedroom. We've done one room at a time at intervals since we moved in. Last November we finished the last downstairs room. All but carpeting which requires a bit more saving since we can't do that ourselves.

Fortunately we have a sleeper sofa in the family room. Also kinda fortunately, although it's not horrible, it is no where near as comfortable as our 'real' bed so there is motivation to keep at this and get it done. And hopefully get it done before I go back to work on January 2.

4 hours later no paint on the wall
and two very tired workers
The big issue in the bedroom is the wallpaper that the old owners did not remove before painting. Slowly but surely over the years parts of it began peeling away.

The photos do not do justice to the ugliness of this wallpaper. Underneath the wallpaper is cement. We are pretty sure the paper has been there since the house was built. A previous owner also did some repairs to the wall by plastering ON TOP OF the wallpaper. Seriously?

We figured it would be a few days to get the paint off and we did it all and cleaned up in 4 solid hours of work. We are going to pay for this tomorrow I'm sure. Dave already commented that it will hurt to call penalties in tonight's game. My hands and neck hurt now. But we are hurting happy with the progress.

And it probably doesn't matter if we sleep on the floor in the basement tonight. I'm guessing we will both sleep well.

Tomorrow - we spray the walls and try to remove the wallpaper. Stay tuned. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

26 Acts of Kindness

"It’s days like this that make it hard to keep smiling and moving. Yet somehow we must. For if we don’t the bad guys win. In the midst of our anger and disgust let’s remember to tell or show our family, friends and co-workers that we care about them. Be angry, be sad, be whatever you have to be to deal with this. Just don’t let the bad guys win. Tell somebody or a lot of somebodies that they matter."

This was my Facebook comment last Friday, after learning and trying unsuccessfully to comprehend the violence that took the lives of 20 children and 6 (or 7 depending on who does the reporting) adults. Since then I've been wondering if there is anything else I can do to make a difference. Today I heard about a movement to perform "26 Acts of Kindness" in memory of the victims of this tragedy about which I can make no sense.  This may be the outlet I need.

I am going to do this anonymously. I don't feel comfortable publicly announcing what I do because then it becomes about me and not about making a difference. I'm blogging the idea to make myself accountable (since I just told you I would do this I will) and perhaps to inspire others to take it on as well.

There are 13 days left in the year. That's 2 acts per day minimum. Let's make a difference starting now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Training week #1 Dec 10 - Dec 16

For those that like to follow someone else's training here is week 1. For those who don't I'll be sure to title each one "Training week..." so you can skip these. Writing it down keeps me accountable and helps me figure out what and why. Personally, I've gotten some aha! moments reading other people's training blogs so who knows perhaps I can pay it forward (or back) So here goes.

Week 1 Here is the link to the full schedule

Monday: YAYOG ladders. Push ups w/ knees on the floor; swimmers; military press with hands knee height; pointers. It was hard. I had to remind myself that of course it's hard. That's why I need to do it. I've decided I'll repeat these each Monday for the first segment (6 weeks) of my training. Hopefully I'll see improvement.

Tuesday: Run three miles. I am very proud of this run. I got home from work at 4:30 and had plans with friends in West Chester at 6:00. I didn't blow off the run. It was a mad rush but I got it done. No excuses :)

The first two miles were great. I had minor shin discomfort the first few steps. I think this was leftover from the hike last weekend. The boots I wore were too big and too heavy. Anyway after mile 2 I felt discomfort in my right calf. This moved up behind my knee and my leg began to feel tingly/numb. Then I noticed I was leaning to my right side. Strange. Once I focused on straightening myself up the discomfort in my leg disappeared. I'll have to pay attention to that on both counts. Not slouching and figuring out why it's happening. Garmin Connect Stats.

Wednesday: Bike time plus strength and Stretch. With daylight at a minimum right now I was only able to get a four mile ride in. I did it anyway because I feel like now is the time to create the habit. I have to work on getting my headlamp situated better. It kept slipping and when I tried to adjust - one handed - the strap pushed my ear covering off. After the ride I had dinner with Dave and then went up to do 30 minutes of tabata style exercises using YAYOG. I combined sumo squats, hip extensions, single leg dead lifts and back lunges. 15 sets. I'm feeling energized! :) I followed the exercises with some IT Band stretches and foam rolling. Tomorrow will be the toughest day this week I think. 60 minutes moving and this week calls for some hills. Garmin Connect Stats

Thursday: As expected tonight's workout was the most challenging so far. Still, I think I passed. My schedule called for 60 minutes with emphasis on hills. Why I started with hills I'm not sure. Probably because I worked backward from other weeks when I thought I needed to not do hills. My plan was to do a couple miles easy maybe even with run/walk then head over to my nemesis, the 8th street hill in Media for some hill repeats then finish off the 60 minutes with easy miles again with run/walk intervals if needed.

I overdid my strength work last night. Too much in the legs and I was really feeling it today. The thought of hill repeats was making me kinda dizzy. I never considered not doing the workout or shortening it - thank you no excuses - but I was worried about getting through it. In the end, I figured I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain so I headed out with the intention to see if I could just keep running for 60 minutes. I began with a loop around my neighborhood which, by Media standards is more or less flat. Then I headed over to Media Borough for a lap of the Media 5 mile loop. One lap is 2.5 miles. I plodded along focusing on form and and my breathing just to keep moving. I didn't care how many miles I would eventually cover. As it was I ended up going up the 8th street hill twice; the second time in the last 5 minutes of my hour. In 60 minutes I only managed 4.91 miles but I ran the whole time. Don't misunderstand me, please. There is no shame in walking but for tonight the mental boost of running the entire time is a big step. Garmin Connect Stats. I think the elevation chart here does not do justice to the 8th street hill. But then it may just be I have a 'thing' about that hill.

I'm giving myself a success rating for this workout even though I didn't do the scheduled hill repeats. Given the circumstances I think I gained just as much for what I did do. It was slower than I know I can do but not all workouts are about speed.

Tomorrow (Friday) is rest day and Saturday 6 miles at 3/1 intervals.

On Saturday I ran the Betzwood Trail with some running buddies. You can read more about that here. This was my first long run (6 miles). I wanted and did keep to 3 and 1 intervals. I still had a little muscle soreness from Wednesday's workout but by the end of the run I felt fine. And I have not had any since. I am glad I ran on Thursday, I'm pretty sure that sped up the recovery. My only regret - if you can call it that - is going out too fast. It always happens especially when I'm with a group and at the end - the last half mile or so - I was feeling the effects. I guess I should be happy it took that long. :) I forgot my Garmin - although strangely enough did have the heart monitor on - so no stats for this run. Some stretching upon returning home and some foam rolling later in the evening.

Sunday - Today's schedule called for 60 minutes cross which I really want to spend on the bike as much as possible. It was not raining when I woke up - although it looked like it might any minute - so I did go out for a bike ride. I did not push the pace on this ride at all. As you can see I didn't even get to 10 miles in the hour I was out. I tried to keep my legs turning as much as possible. At the end with about 5 minutes left I decided to head down Ridge to Olive Street to go around the corner and up 8th Street before going home. Let's just say it was a humbling experience. I did not expect to sail through that but still... First it's down hill on Ridge and around the bend on to Olive. Then uphill then around the corner and continue up hill on 8th. Despite what it may look like on the report off my Garmin I did not walk the bike up the last part of 8th street. I probably could have walked faster however. This is something to be conquered :)  Garmin Connect Stats

Today was another day to be excited about. Similar to Tuesday's run I had plans today that in previous training cycles I would have used as an excuse to skip. I didn't. It was only an hour afterall. I had plenty of time to ride, shower and change before I had to head out.

Week one is a success. Really excited about week 2 now :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Birthday Run

Someone asked if I would run my age in miles today. And while I'll admit to being intrigued by the idea of an ultra marathon some day - I would love to be able to say I had the determination and mental strenght to accomplish that - today is not that day. I forgot my garmin this morning but I know that we ran at least my age in minutes. 53 if you really must know.

Today was the first long run of training for Bob Potts. I put out a call to my running friends to join me and we ended up with a very nice group. Most of us ran 6 miles on the River Trail and three went out for an extra 4 miles after that.

As December should be it was a very brisk morning. My friend Kristie is not a fan of cold weather and so it was extra special to see her. The sun was shining by our 8 am start and it really was a beatiful run. I wish I had taken more photos along the trail but I was too busy listening and chatting. The conversations started out with thiings like "I can't feel my face/legs/hands" and moved on to what everyone had planned for the holidays and into next year. We talked about family holiday traditions both those being upheld and some that were being broken this year and how that was being dealt with - or not. You had to be there and know the people to fully appreciate it I suppose but it was an awesome way to spend the miles.

In addition to chatting and listening I also fell down. It stung and my leg felt a little sore for the next few steps but after a group recovery walk I felt fine and finished the last 3 miles. It is starting to sting a bit now as I sit here and I can feel some tightness in muscles around it. I've already iced it once but I think I will do some more and some gentle strectching as the day wears on.

So week #1 is almost complete. I have a 60 minute cross session tomorrow. I hope to spend that on the bike. There is rain in the forecast though. I know at some point I will have to ride in the rain because there is no telling what the weather will bring when I do the goal ride in September but I don't think it's necessary to do that now. The question is what should I do instead.

I'm disappointed that I forgot the Garmin. I don't need it to run - in fact I often take the side of running tech free - but I had wanted to track a few things in this training cycle including heart rate. No harm done there are many more long runs in this program.

Thanks to my friend who ran with me today. I know they all had options. I'm glad the time and place fo my birthday run worked for them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Easy as Assembling a Bike

Today my work had its annual leadership “retreat”. 25 participants were asked to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lecioni. [Editorial note: Very good book. Information that would benefit most relationships in general].

After general discussion of the 5 dysfunctions, the participants were divided into 5 teams each assigned one of those dysfunctions. We were instructed to put the bike together and consider how our assigned dysfunction would or could hinder our success. I won’t go into those details here.
My group was comprised of 3 females and 1 male. I was nominated team leader so I suggested we remove things from the box and lay them out so we could see what we had. The male member of our group chose to read the directions. An irony not lost on anyone.

The handle bars presented our first challenge. The directions said use the appropriate tool. “What tool is that?” “The one that looks like it will fit here” (pointing to the part). We found the correct allen wrench and managed to get the handlebars on and even lined them up with the frame of the bike so the tire was straight. Very proud we were until someone pointed out the handlebars were on backwards. No problem we were good at this by now and fixed that pretty quickly.

Just when we thought we were done – a wise guy from another group came over and suggested we test the brakes. Sure enough they didn’t brake. It took a while but finally we managed to figure out where to make the adjustment. Let me just say that the alleged directions were no help whatsoever in this regard. And no, it wasn’t because we didn’t understand it. The directions simply didn’t address the issue.
We did have a part leftover and after a test ride where nothing fell off or apart we were ready to just toss it. Well, not before accusing one of the other groups of purposely adding an extra piece to our box just so we would be confused. Again, the instructions were no help. This part was not even pictured in the book. . We were rescued by another group who had the same part and managed to figure out where it went.  I’m still not sure what it’s for but it is now on the bike.

I was given the job of taking a test ride. Short as I am, I am not a kid so my knees were almost bumping my chin as I rode but the bike moved and stayed together. I did not fall off but my co-workers did admonish me for riding around without a helmet. I don’t understand all the fuss. There are no gophers in the office.

The five bikes are now put together and will be donated to City Team, Laurel House and one other location whose name escapes me at the moment. We did not contact these entities until this afternoon just in case there were major issues putting the bikes together. In fact, we had already asked Dave to be the backup assembler. He was prepared to come in tomorrow and fix our work. We determined that wasn’t necessary although someone suggested that we should probably buy the recipient’s helmets as well; partly because it’s a good idea but also because we are still a little worried about our product.

All in all it was a great excercise, supported great causes and we had fun doing it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Break's Over

Well almost over. On December 10th I'll return to running and begin marathon training for the Bob Potts Marathon. The very good news is that I'm itching to get out there again! :) I've been working on the schedule for this marathon for weeks now.

****Warning: Long training rant. If you keep reading, don't say I didn't warn you! ;) *****

I started with Hal Higdon's Marathon 3 schedule because my body works better on a schedule that limits the running to three days per week. I took advice from some fellow runners on things like strength training and the pros and cons of multiple 20+ mile training runs and mixed in my own gut feelings about what I think I need to do and came up with this. This sounds much more simple than it was. You wouldn't believe how much time I spent working on this. Ok some of you would.

One thing that concerned me is fitting my long runs into weekends where I know in adance I'm going to have issues. The last long run of the schedule was originally three weeks out. This coincides with State History day championships. I was a volunteer judge at this event last year and knew I wanted to do it again. It's two days - Friday and Saturday - and I was really tired when it was over. The thought of going out on Sunday after that was not sitting well. At some point I noticed that this weekend and two others that I will have issues with fell in to a pattern. They fell on week 7, 14, and 21. I LOVE symmetry!!! An idea popped in my head to take those weeks off. Not couch potato off...but just a week of no schedule to follow. A week of activity I feel like doing. Giving my body and - probably more important my mind - a break from the confines of a schedule.

So I adjusted the schedule to allow for that. The way it worked I'll build to 12 miles in the first segment; 18 for the second; and finally 24 before a 4 week taper. I plan to tell myself that sticking to 6 weeks of no excuses training is not that difficult and if I do it, I get a week off.

And 'no excuses' training is what it must be. If I want to be successful in this marathon I have to do the work. In addition to no excuses I also have to be flexible. I have a tendency to get it in my head that a workout is going to be at a certain time and place and if that doesn't work out I bail rather than re-adjusting my sights. I have to quit that.

This schedule is more aggressive and busier than any I've followed before. It has more days of work but there is also much more variety in those days. The bottom line though is I think I need to do it this way.

I need to work on hydration and nutrition. I've succombed to bonking in all 4 previous marathons. While some of that is mental, I know that poor planning of my food, water and electrolyte intake also played a part. I've planned the three 20+ milers to deal with the mental aspects. I have to eat and hydrate better on a daily basis - not just during runs - as well. With cold and flu season coming into their peak I need all the health and energy I can muster to stay on the trail.

My cross training of choice (weather permitting) is biking. I hope to work up to three hours in the saddle by the end of this training schedule because after this marathon and some well deserved (I hope) rest. I will begin training in earnest for the MS Bike Ride.

So there you have it. If you are still with me.....

What are your keys to success in training?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Horshoe Trail Part I; Valley Forge to Great Valley Nature Center

This morning Maryann R., Mike K. and I hiked the first 7 miles on The Horseshoe Trail.

When I was training for the 2007 MS Walk I did a lot of walking out at Valley Forge and saw the signs for the Horseshoe Trail. I purchased a guide book in the visitor center bookstore promising myself to hike some of it some day. That was 6 years ago. Better now than never I suppose. :)

The trail is marked with yellow blazes
Some were more difficult to read than others
The trail begins at the intersection of Route 252 and Route 23 and continues for 141.3 miles where it joins with the Applachain trail in Dauphin County. At 7 miles per trip it will take 20 hikes to do it all. Today's hike only took 2 hours and 45 minutes. So, assuming accomodating access points, I think it will be possible to tackle slightly larger pieces at one time in the future. Or maybe take on a two day venture?

We parked a car at the Great Valley Nature Center in Malvern. I've been told this is a neat place to visit and it appeared so. I think I'll have to go back someday when it is open. We met up at the Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge park to begin our hike. It is only a few minutes walk from there to the start of the trail.

About a half mile in are the remains of the Colonial Springs Bottling plant originally operated by Benjamin Franklin Fisher in the 1800's. In the early 1900's - the guidebook says - the property was purchased by Chares Hires of Hires Root Beer fame. Click here for a history of Valley Forge Mountain where much of our hike took place. The link includes mention of the bottling plant, the trail, how Mount Misery and Mount Joy got their names and other neat stuff.

Colonial Bottling Plant ruins

Another view of the Bottling Plant
Near the 3 mile mark of the hike we passed the Wharton Esherick Museum. It is housed in a very interesting looking building which according to the website is a National Historic Landmark. Mr. Esherick was a wood sculptor whose motto (according to the website) was "If it isn't fun, it isn't worth doing". This looks like another place worth visiting.

The trail follows paved road in a few places but is still mostly on trails through wooded areas. At some points it goes between the boundaries of private property. We saw houses and barns of varying sizes. We passed an Alpaca farm. I wish I had read the guidebook more closely before going out. Apparantly we passed very near some interesting sites that would have required only a small detour.

Just before the end of today's hike
we crossed this abandoned rail road.
I wonder what it was for? We surmised
it was to transport supplies for
the various forges in the area but
I haven't found any confirmation of that.
Here is a link to our hike as recorded by my Garmin I forgot to switch the mode so the watch thinks we were on the slowest bike ride ever but the distance and elevation profiles are accurate. :)

This was a fun hike and I look forward to Part II. If you are interested in hiking with us next time let me know and I'll keep you informed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Watch Out For Flying Rolos

In our family we play group trivial pursuit where - unless it's a pie question - you can get a little help from the peanut gallery. Four teams of two and 9 on the sidelines makes for a very noisy and extremely fun game.
It's the 80's version so geography is a category that often requires careful thought. What was true then isn't necessarily true now. 
Personally, I stink at the literature category but most of my family - especially my nieces - romp in that one.  

Here, my brother is trying to get the answer to an entertainment question. The answer was not "The Beatles" and he swore the answer was near the tip of his tongue. He wanted quiet to try to shake the answer out of his head. There are 17 people playing the game and he wants quiet? He didn't get it and for just for the record - because you know this will come back to haunt him - the answer was Charles Laughton.

The purpose of the gathering was the annual family cookie bake. For the third year we gathered on Friday evening for a giant sleepover and all went to Shady Maple for breakfast on Saturday morning. 

Ya gotta love Lancaster County. Gift certificates for sod and see REAL haystacks..not the hayrolls I am used to seeing.

Time to get down to the business
of making cut out cookies

Bruce turned out to be the best roller
and a pretty mean decorator too. He likely colored inside
the lines in his coloring books.

Hard at work icing the gingerbread men

However, different than past years we baked the rest of
the cookies in advance and swapped before heading home.
This photo really does not do justice to the volume of cookies.

And what does this have to do with Flying Rolos? In group trivial pursuit when the peanut gallery gets the answer right they get a rolo of course. Catching them before they bonk you in the head takes skill.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012

This year Dave and I went in to town on Wednesday to spend the night. We had reservations at the Hilton Garden Inn at the Convention Center complex. We took the train in Wednesday morning. Our first stop was the Franklin Institute to see the IMax movie "The Rocky Mountain Express" about the building of the transcontinental railroad in Canada.

It was a beautiful day.
Here is the view from the FI steps

Dave getting his street vendor cheesesteak.
He says they are way better than Pat's OR Geno's.

We went to the Wannamakers (aka Macy's). The light show was all set up but not operating until Friday. We stayed to listen to the pipe organ for a little bit then went over to the Comcast Center. Their 2012 show doesn't start until Thanksgiving Day but we were treated to last year's show. We tried to go back after the parade but the next show would have made us late for our return train.
Thankful for Wawa coffee at 4:30 a.m. !!

Our balloon assignment for 2012. I was given a jacket and hat
rather than a jumpsuit. I was balloon captain this year. Not
sure which job I prefer. I'll have to think about that before next year.

Our crew (plus about 20 other handlers) took care of the
Snowman Balloon this year.
This is me and Chris, our ballon rep. He is from Louisville,
Kentucky. He was excited to be in Philly for the first time.
On Friday his group heads to Santiago, Chile for a parade there.
But before he leaves he planned to run the Rocky Steps. Not today
though. They were a little bit occupied today.

It was a gorgeous day for a parade. For more photos go here.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Philly Half Marathon 2012

This one was rough. I had no real expectations going in. My training for the last few weeks has been almost non-existent. I ran a decent 10 miler two weeks ago but have done nothing since. The highlight of the day for me was seeing all the folks from the running/walking group before the race; seeing Dave at mile 8ish and seeing some new first time marathoners approach the finish and learning that some fitters got PR's out of the day.

I started out running water stop to water stop. I only got as far as the second stop (around mile 3) before I switched to 3 and 1 run/walk interevals. My feet were numb, my legs felt like lead. I felt like I was going backwards - on the downhill. My head was out of the run early. I saw Dave at his usual spot between mile 8 and 9 and asked him to walk with me a bit. I told him I likely wouldn't cross the finish line until after the 3 hour mark on the clock. I was figuring a 2:45 finish at that point. (Remember, I don't cross the start line until well after the clock actually starts)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Packet Pick Up and New Bike

Today is a whirlwind day. I slept until I woke up. Of course that was not as late as it could be because I COULD sleep in. Isn't that the way it goes? I caught the 9:09 train out of Media to be at the Convention Center at 9:50. The expo opened at 10 so I figured this was good timing. Well so did several hundred other folks. The line was looooooooooooooooooong. Once the doors opened it moved but unfortunately others arriving later just fed in from the main hallway which aggravated a few people who had been waiting in line much longer than me. No fisticuffs but a few choice words.
I love this mural by the escalator from
the train station to the Convention Center
I picked up my packet and looked in vain for the ACS booth to see if Roy was there. Finally I called him and found out he wasn't coming down until 1 p.m. I forgot he ran the Rothman 8k today. I never did find the booth but I got to talk to Roy "Attidue of Gratitude" Kardon anyway and that's enough to get anyone race ready!

I caught the 11:05 train back to Media and had planned to go straight to Bikesport to pick up my new bike. But, I had to pee so I went home first. The good news is that Jimmy was there picking up some mail and we were able to chat for a bit before he headed back to the city.

Ginny, at Bikesport was awesome. She helped me put together a spare tube and tookit, took my old bike for their "Pedals for Progress" collection and answered my any many questions I had. I'm sure some of them had her rolling her eyes secretly. To me thought she was very patient. We adjusted the seat and she showed me how to release the brakes to remove the tire. I had a lot of trouble with that. It's not a quick release like my old bike. I have  weak thumb on the right hand so it will take some practice for me to do this smoothly. I was able to get it back together when I got home but it was rough.

I love the bike. I want to ride but today wasn't going to work. I knew that but I decided to squeeze picking it up into my day so at least it will be here when I do have a chance. Unfortunately that looks like it will be Friday!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Taking a break

Today I went for a two hour hike at Ridley Creek State Park with Julius and Kristi. It was a gorgeous morning and perfect weather for a hike. In fact, it turned out I was overdressed with a long sleeve shirt on. We had a wonderful time wandering around the trails. We got a little turned around at one point but it's impossible to really get lost there. We talked and walked and all three agreed we had a great time.

This adventure reinforced my recent thoughts that I need to take a break after the Philly Half. My training schedule for Bob Potts Marathon doesn't start until December 10th. I'll take advantage of those three weeks to do whatever I feel like. More hiking, walking, biking and exploring with no purpose or goal but to enjoy what's out there to enjoy. Maybe some trail runs because I really do enjoy them. And of course getting acquainted with my new bike! More on that later when I have it and can show a picture.

So what are my goals for Philly Half? At the beginning of the year I had hoped to make this my PR race. I signed up with a goal of 2:15 (My previous best was 2:17 and change). It is unlikely that will happen. I haven't been consistent enough lately. My runs have felt good but I don't feel any significant improvement from the RNR in September. I've fallen off the schedule and truth be told I'm kind of anxious for the race to be over so I can take a break and start fresh for Bob Potts. I'm basically going through the motions right now.

So my goal will be to finish and have fun and try to keep it under 2:30. I love the Philly Half course and I'm counting on that to pick me up a little. I'll try to run water stop to water stop and just let the time fall where it may.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Run for Sandy Relief

For an event that was originated less than 48 hours before the start it was incredibly well organized. The idea came from a women in Hunterdon County, NJ who was schedued to run the NYC Marathon. She decided to skip the Marathon (before it was officially canceled) and organize an event to raise money for relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I saw it on Facebook from a friend around 5 pm on Friday. I was going to be doing my own 10 miles alone on Sunday (or try to find a local running buddy) and thought that for $20 this seemed like a good idea. Another of my training buddies - Kristi Y - decided she would put in her miles there as well.

The event was promoted to runners and walkers as an opporutunity to complete anything from 1 to 26.2 miles. The suggested donation would go 100% to Sandy Relief. Facebook sent the thing into overdrive and by Saturday evening they had 130 registrations. When we arrived (at 9:55 for a 10 am start - more on that later) they were still managing walk up registrations. I just read on the FB Page that the final total was over 200 with 50+ doing the full 26.2 miles.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Three Times The Loop = Confidence

I can't say I was feeling all that confident in the middle of loop #3 but a few minutes after finishing I felt great.

Before I give you the details I have to send a big THANK YOU to my running buddy John T. John arrived this morning planning on 12. I told him my plan when he asked which route I was taking. "Ok. I'll run two loops with you ..." and he kind of trailed off after that. I admit to hoping he was considering sticking with me for the three but I didn't want to ask nor did I want to get my hopes up so I just didn't think about it. I had mentioned that I was doing 2 in the clockwise direction and the final one counterclockwise figuring that by then I'd need some distraction/change of scenery. So as we descended the hill at the end of loop #2 :

John: So you want to go the opposite direction for loop #3?
Me: Really? You want to do it with me?
John: Sure, why not.
Me: *GRIN*

Now back to the start. Today it was about 20 degrees warmer than last Saturday. The skies were solid blue and gorgeous once the sun came up. Actually they were pretty on the ride to the park as well with all the stars. I debated long sleeve vs short sleeve and brought both but wore the short sleeve with my sleeveless jacket on top. The jacket was more for the pockets really. I've been using my camelback since my belt gave up the ghost and although it has a small pocket in the back it is difficult to get to.

Loop #1 was uneventful. I had to chase thoughts of what I was trying to do a few times and focus on staying in the moment. If I was going to think about miles I wanted to think about the ones I had finished not the ones - or the hills - I had left. We had some awesome scenes on loop #1. The fog was still lifting off the fields and the sun shining on it was spectacular. I didn't have my camera but it wouldn't have done them justice. Before I knew it we were passing the chapel. Steady 3 minutes running/1minute walking all the way. I thought ok this is good.

Loop #2 down the hill across County Line Road and up the hill around the visitor's center. This is where we had done some hill workouts earlier in the season and it didn't feel any better now than it did then (except that it was cooler). Still we didn't balk. 3 and 1's all the way. At the top and on the far side of the visitor center as we joined the main part of the loop again I commented that that was the hardest part so far. To which John replied with "Yes the hills get longer and steeper the second time around." So true! Yet, I really feel like we sailed through the second loop. My watch beeped off the miles one at a time and I felt good. I reminded myself to think about how much was finished not what was left and also focused on keeping my pace steady on the downhills - not letting myself go too fast. A couple times I felt bad for John. He is taller and (I hope) heavier than me so he has more momentum on the downhills but I could tell he was holding back as well and it was likely harder for him than me. The fog was all gone by loop #2 so now we admired the beauty of the trees. It won't be long before they peak. Today they were on the cusp. The maples were turned but the rest were still changing. I assessed how I was feeling as we came to the chapel for the second time. I was impressed. I really did feel good. I had been taking water at every walk break and chomps at mile 3 and 6 and we were just approaching mile 9 where I would take another. I took an electrolyte at the end of the first loop and would again after the second.

Loop #3 We didn't go all the way down the hill to County Line Road before turning around. This resulted in our total being just under 15 miles but if you know the hill you understand. Still it got me. I balked and we walked to the top of it. That got into my head for a little bit but not enough to destroy the run. I just reminded myself that it WAS a significant hill and I just done TWO loops - just shy of 10 miles - of hills. However, it is amazing how fast one's mood can change! I'm grateful that John didn't seem to need to talk a lot. First, we run together enough - including twice this week - that there wasn't much new to chat about and I'm not one for talking just to talk. Plus I, personally, tend to get very quiet on longer runs. Maybe it would help my state of mind if I talked more but it's always been that way. I'm proud of the fact that - after that initial balk up the hill - we only strayed from 3 and 1's twice. Both times we were approaching the top of a hill and had about 10-15 seconds left on the run and added it to the walk. Only twice! :)

Some memories of loop #3 - not necessarily in order of happening

As we came down the 'hill-that-everyone-hates-going-up' we passed a group of cylists going up. One guy in a rather holier than thou tone of voice says "It's harder going up". He's lucky I was tired. My thoughts back to him were not friendly but I kept them to myself. And thinking back he was likely less commenting on our going downhill and more on his struggle to go uphill. I'm glad I kept quiet.

As we passed the Von Stuben statue area (for the third time) a double running stroller was still there off in the growth.

Me: If we make it back to the Visitor Center I'm going to stop in and tell the ranger. That's been there a long time. It might be nothing but I feel like we should tell them.
John: Ok (pause) What do you mean IF we get back? We got this.

A little later I said: This really did feel like a good idea a few days ago
John: It's fine. In less than an hour we are going to feel awesome.

Running (or any workout) buddies are priceless folks. If you don't have one....get one! :)

Despite my crankiness on loop #3, My legs were good on the straightaways and smaller hills. The steeper ones were killing me and getting into my head. I even debated going through the Arch instead of around but only for a moment. I really wanted to be able to say I did the whole thing.

And we did! :)

It's about 4 hours later and I feel good. Accomplished and good. My legs are not killing me either. I did a lot of walking around and stretching while we waited for one of our running group to complete her 23 miles (her longest to date). She set out to do 21 and ended up at 23. She looked great and seemed happy! I'm really happy for her too. Her first marathon is Philly on November 18.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Hill of a Ride.

I went for a bike ride today. My first venture north of home where the hills go endlessly up, down and around. I'm embarassed to say how long it to me to complete 13.5 miles. But you can see for yourself.

I knew before I started that I was likely going to walk some of these hills. That in itself is part of the problem. Sefl-fulfilling prophecy and all that. And the obvious thing of course is that I need more hillwork on the bike. I need more confidence as well so doing this route again and again will be helpful. I should have taken advantage of speed on the downhills to gain momentum on the ups but there are very few straight lines on this route (or anywhere in Upper Providence for that matter**) and I was nervous with the traffic on Providene Road and 252. Even the park roads had a decent number of cars because it was such a nice day! I also need to get used to when to shift efficiently. Again practice is a big part of both of those issues.

Today's ride is a baseline, I guess. It can't get any baser..... there is only one way to go from here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Date With Bob Potts

Ok not really. After all I'm married and he's dead. But I will be running the marathon on May 26, 2013 afterall. Awhile back I blogged about some reasons why.

I've been spending way too much of my spare time obsessing about whether I can or should do it. The RW Quote of the Day to day was this.

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." -Dale Carnegie, author and lecturer
That was enough to get me off the fence. I registered this evening .
This will be my 5th full marathon. The first (Philly 2008) was all about finishing. I did that and I will always be proud of it. Still, it was a first and it left lots of room for improvement. Even though I went into to it thinking it was going to be "one and done" I can't let it go at that.
#2 was day two of the Goofy Challenge. The race was mostly about running with friends and lots of family support.
#3 was Philly 2010. This was about conquering that event. I didn't. I was 10 minutes slower than the first time and still bonked. I was undertrained for a variety of reasons but mosty it boils down to my inability to make time for certain runs.
#4 was Gettysburg May 2011. I trained much better but not enough. My first marathon is still my best.
Despite all that, or maybe because of it, I need to do it again and try to get it right. Success will be measured in large part by not bonking; by keeping it together physically and mentally. If I train right and still miss the mark... well let's not go there. I have to believe I can do this. That's half the battle.
Training for this marathon starts the week of December 10. I'd like to promise that I won't dump my training highs and lows on you but that's not a promise I can keep. I use this blog to keep msyelf honest and motivated. so I hope you'll stick around and tell me what you think - good, bad or indifferent - as I do it... but I'll understand if you don't.
Before starting marathon training I have the Philly Half in November. 12 mile training run tomorrow. Stay tuned :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bike MS 2013

I'm now officially registered for the MS 2013 ride. There was a $20 registration fee up to yesterday, October 4. I figured $20 is not a huge budget buster if I don't make it. Yet it's enough to make me feel committed. Plus now I'll get emails and stuff which will keep the ride on my radar.

It's (appropriately) Helen's fault. She sent me a FB email yesterday telling me about the low registration and the deadline. Maggi sent me an email too but I saw Helen's message first. Here is why I think this is appropriately her fault...

On April 1st 2008, I registered for the Philadelphia Marathon. At the time of registration I had a vague idea that I could do it but no real plan for it. I figured signing up - and telling people I was going to do it - would keep me motivated and I'd have to find a way to make it happen.

Shortly after registering for the marathon, I began searching the Internet looking for training programs and I stumbled upon Helen's blog. She talked about her running group and included a link. I checked out the webpage and signed up. And I finished the Philadelphia Marathon for the first time in November 2008. Around mile 18 or so of the marathon, Helen passed me going the other way - on her back to Philly from Manuyunk. I was struggling. She stopped and ran with me for a few yards - in the opposite direction from where she was headed - giving me encouraging words. I don't remember what she said. It was her action that spoke volumes.

So here I am 5 years later jumping a little blindly into the unknown with a little push from a friend. A good luck omen, perhaps.

I'm still on the fence about registering for Bob Potts Marathon for May 2013. Yet I've gone ahead and committed to a 100 mile bike ride for September 2013?????????

Really? What could I be thinking?

I've finished 4 marathons. One would think that decision should be easier to make.

I've not done more than 20 miles on a bike and I'm leery of riding in packs. So yeah, go ahead sign up! Makes sense, right?

Maybe it's the unknown that gives me courage to sign up anyway? Ignorance is bliss?

Whatever it is, I'm in.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Everybody Loves a Parade

It's that time of year again. The time when I try to recruit folks to volunteer at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. I am particularly excited this year because I was invited to make application as a balloon captain. I'd love to be captain of a ballon with lots of my friends and family as balloon handlers.

If you want to join Dave and I in our 6th year with the parade click here to apply. Be sure to choose the team "Perkis People" so that we will be assigned together. BTW, the volunteers pulling the Turkey in the picture at the top of the application page is our group! :)

So what does being a balloon handler mean? What are the job requirements?

#1) Be able to walk the 1.8 mile parade route

#2) Be able to hold a rope

#3) Be able to smile, wave (not with the rope holding hand obviously) and say "Happy Thanksgiving" about a thousand times. Ok slight exaggeration... maybe

#4 Be willing to wear a
"one size does not fit all" jumpsuit
and a goofy hat. Note the many times over
rolled up cuffs and sleeves!

#5 Make people smile!
Ok the kid on the right probably
wanted to be home sleeping 
but the rest of his family was into it.

Really it doesn't take much more than that. There are some circumstantial issues though. If you are responsible for cooking the turkey for your family OR must travel a distance to eat the turkey you probably do not want to volunteer.

Volunteers must be at the start hotel (usually the Crowne Plaza around 18th and Market) at 6:00 a.m. Coffee, juice and breakfast finger foods are provided. Once the group has assembled everyone moves down to the street to assist with balloon inflation if needed and recieve last minute instructions.

This part of the day involves a lot of
standing or sitting around and waiting.

There is a lot of activity down on the street and if you are lucky you can get your photo taken withe a celebrity or two.

Once the parade starts you simply keep smling and keep moving until the end. Well, sort of anyway. The parade stops for commercials. What you see on TV is the whole parade. So during stoppage time balloon handlers throw candy to the crowd and - if time and space permit - spin the balloon. This is a real crowd pleaser.

One of my favorite things during  stoppage is to let a child hold the end of my rope. Their eyes bug out and they break into a huge smile. It's awesome.

Once the balloon passes the grandstands in front of the Art Museum (and the TV cameras) the handlers carry the balloon to the deflation area and help with that. Deflation often involves flopping on the balloon until all the air is out.

After that, buses take you back to another hotel - usually the Sheraton - wear you return your costume and take a boxed lunch which you can eat there or carry out with you.

Your finish time for the day can be as early as 10 AM or as late as 1 PM hence the warning about cooking and travel. It all depends on where in the parade your balloon is. It's a long day but sooooo much fun! The smiles on the kids faces - and the adults too for that matter - is awesome.

So if you are interested we'd love to work with you. Click here to apply and be sure to choose the team Perkis People. Let me know if you sign up!