Hello…it’s been a long time. Can it really be over three years since my last post? To borrow from Elton John, “I’m Still Standing”. I’m here, I’ve just been a little absent for a while. I have a few exciting updates so I need to do a big omnibus ‘catch up’ post. Strap yourselves in, there is a lot to cover and I’ll try to do this quickly.
My last post on the 2019 New Jersey State Triathlon was published way back in September 2019 (and even that one was a bit late for a race recap). It is over three years later now and while the world turned upside down I was already a little behind in my race recaps and posts before everything shut down in March 2020. I guess that’s life. Now while I had plenty of ‘downtime’ due to race cancellations, life just got in the way. Focusing on family and work is more important than my ramblings on personal race experiences but people have reached out to see if I still exist and although there has been a gap I have indeed had some great race experiences since I last posted. WordPress knows I exist as my renewal notice for the blog/blog hosting just came up. Let’s get my money’s worth.
The only way I can really do this (and memory permitting) I’ll give a quick recap on where I left off up to the present and share a very exciting event coming up in November 2022 which is sure to be a once in a lifetime event for me.
So, having left you in July 2019 with a (late) race recap of the New Jersey State Triathlon, my calendar was as follows:
September 2019 – Bucks County Alternative Half Marathon
This was a do no harm race the week before the Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City. Actually, I had forgotten I had signed up for the race and I think the only reason I had signed up was that there was a ‘Star Trek’ theme. The race was easy and uneventful and I was happy with my result. I finished with a time of 2:01:21.
September 2019 – Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City
This was a big race for me. It was my goal race for the year and a chance to make good from my last half iron distance triathlon (remember, the one I ended up in the emergency room!!). It was a good race for me, while I did not break my goal time I still finished in 7:04:49 which still made me happy. It was hot by the time I made it to the run and I struggled in the heat but I was not disappointed in my swim nor the bike (even though it rained and I was terrified cycling up the AC Expressway).
November 2019 – Philadelphia Marathon
Pretty good day out on the course despite the cold, wind and rain. Not breaking any records but this was my 8th Philadelphia Marathon and I finished in 4:10:20 which I think is my 4th fastest of the 8 (to date) times that I have run in Philly. I always love this race as it was my first and I consider it my local run. I would do it every year if I could and hope to run this as long as I am able. In this race I received my medal from my friend Robyn who was volunteering at the finish who we both realized was standing next to Des Linden, the winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon and a two time US Olympic marathoner. Cool.
In early March my family and I ran a (very cold) local 4 mile ‘Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup’ race along the Delaware Canal. Little did I know that would be my only ‘official’ race of 2020…
AND THEN COVID…
March 2020 – Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon – Cancelled
April 2020 – Rutgers Unite Half Marathon – Cancelled and race has not returned
May 2020 – Broad Street Run – Cancelled
May 2020 – Vermont City Marathon – Cancelled and Deferred (twice) to 2021….however
Although the race was cancelled, I continued to train (hey, I was working from home and had no commuting so had extra hours each day). While the race was still cancelled I decided to run the distance as a virtual race, so on the Sunday in May when the race would have originally taken place I headed to Warminster Community Park and ran multiple 2.33 mile loops. Around 14 miles in I was joined by my wife who ran the remaining distance with me. A local race director (RunBucks) saw my post on Facebook and rode up on his bike and cycled alongside us for the last 8 miles. As I crossed an imaginary finish line after 26.2 miles he pulled out a (none dated) race medal and awarded it to me. Awesome. So great to have such a dedicated running community here in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. A fun day to make up for a cancelled race.
June 2020 – Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint and 70.3 Triathlon – Cancelled and Deferred to 2021
July 2020 – New Jersey State Triathlon – Postponed and Deferred to 2021 but ultimately, I did not participate in the event due to conflict (actually a great week away in Miami)
September 2020 – Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City – Postponed and Deferred to 2021
November 2020 – Philadelphia Marathon – Cancelled and Deferred to 2021
May 2021 – Dirty German Endurance Fest 50K
I had often thought about doing this race as my first ultra and first trail race but it always coincided with something like the Broad Street Run or was not really compatible with a training plan. This year, as there was nothing else I had planned and I had been running regularly, I decided a couple of weeks before the race to sign up. I had never run trail races before, did not have trail running shoes and then the weather was an absolute washout the day before leading into the race. I bought myself a couple of pairs of good trail running socks (one spare to keep in my bag in case I needed to switch half way as it was a two loop course), lathered my feet with Vaseline to keep them fairly waterproof (in addition to the rain and mud there were four stream crossings) and turned up with a positive attitude. I didn’t set any records that day (other than my first official 50K so a natural PR) but made a good showing. It was very muddy and hilly and at times I was running because of both gravity and worry that if I stopped, the wet mud would just take my feet from under me, but I had a great time. I finished in 7:07:09 and found muscles in my legs that I never knew existed before. Trail running is a completely different experience and there is a lot of balance involved compared to running on asphalt. The great thing about this race is that it was in Pennypack Park which is only about 30 minutes from my house. It’s an enormous park right in the north east of suburban Philadelphia, but you would never know it was there. It was so much fun. Oh, and muddy.
June 2021 – Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint and 70.3 Triathlon
Finally…the redemption race. Returning to the scene of the crime. My goal was to stay on the bike and finish with no trips to the emergency room. Besides, my wife decided she wasn’t going to drive me there so I was on my own for this one. I decided to do both the sprint and half distance races again this year. Yes, stupid is as stupid does. I never learn. While the Sprint course was pretty much the same, the half distance bike course was different…and much hillier than last time. I did however stay on the bike the whole time so that’s a win. It was such a hot weekend. The water was so warm it was like soup, not wetsuit recommended. Saturday’s Sprint triathlon was fine. It was really an effort to just keep loose and get the nerves out. I finished the sprint in a time of 1:43:52 which was quicker than 2017 but then I found out after the race distance was a little shorter by just over a mile or so. Sunday, the day of the half distance, was why I was really there.
I had two great swims both days (it helped that there was a strong current for sure). The bike course for the half, as I said earlier, was a lot more hilly than the last time I raced. There were a couple of times when people were walking their bikes up the hill (me included). It was relatively flat in 2017…which I still managed to fall off. Anyway, by the time I made it to the run it was about 99 degrees in the shade which made it a long plodding half marathon. I finished in 7:29:42. Not my best and was about as long as it took to drive home in the horrendous traffic. At least I survived unscathed. Not many official race pictures but just evidence that I finished both races with a smile on my face.
September 2021 – Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City
This was my attempt to beat my 2019 time. I didn’t but I still had fun. The swim was interesting this year. The tide was so low that people just got up and walked…in the middle of the bay. I was swimming and there was so much silt you could not see where you were going. You would feel the bottom of the bay with every stroke. Weird. The bike was uneventful (thankfully) and as nerve racking as it had been the previous year along the AC Expressway. The run was impacted again by the heat. It got to me bad this year and my time reflected that. I finished in 7:22:00. I can do better than that but still, I’m always glad to finish a race. This year, the finish line was on the beach which made for a unique and fun way to run into the finish line as I finished my fifth 70.3 distance triathlon.
November 2021 – Philadelphia Marathon
You know me by now. Guess what…there was a challenge for this race weekend. The ‘Liberty Bell Challenge’. If you completed the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday you get another medal. Having done this type of challenge a number of times before (4 times at Disney and the inaugural ‘Rocky Challenge’ during the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon weekend) my wife just sighed and rolled her eyes as I told her I would be running both. This race had been postponed in 2020 and it would be the first marathon we were together as a couple since the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon.
Saturday’s race was smooth and uneventful. I ran the half in 2:05:26. The goal was to enjoy myself, finish without any injury and not beat myself up too much for the next days marathon. Mission accomplished. On Sunday my wife and I ran the full marathon together. This was my 9th Philadelphia Marathon and my wife’s 3rd. It was the first time she had run the altered course which takes a more scenic route through Fairmount Park and eliminates the horrible out and back near my 16-17 which I always hated. The day was fun and we supported each other well. We finished in 4:45:17 which is consistent with the two other times we have run this together.
At the finish line I received my second and third medal of the weekend. Another highlight is that we met Meg Keflezighi at the finish line. He is an Olympic Silver medalist at the 2004 games and finished 4th at the 2012 games. In all he has been an USA Olympian four times, three as a marathon runner. He has won the 2009 New York City Marathon and won the 2014 Boston Marathon (the year after the bombing). He’s an amazing person. This was really cool.
May 2022 – Vermont City Marathon
After multiple deferrals (the race directors had tried to move the race to October each of the years) we finally got to run the Vermont Marathon. The course had been modified to limit the amount of volunteers that were needed to support the race (still just post COVID) so the route was a two lap 13.1 mile course. We took our youngest with us that weekend as the eldest (now a high schooler) had commitments with the high school marching band. He plays the bass drum…the big one!!! It also happened to be Memorial Weekend so we made a long weekend out of it.
We stayed in the race partner hotel so we didn’t have to leave to get to the expo…which was a good thing as the rains came down heavy that day although it did clear up later and it was an absolutely beautiful crystal clear blue sky for the rest of our time there. We did some touristy things with our youngest (I recommend a trip to the Vermont Teddy Bear factory) which was fun. He created a new buddy for himself and named it ‘Vermonty Python’. I’m proud he recognizes his heritage!!!
Race day was beautiful, running along Lake Champlain. The neighborhoods we ran through were amazing. Many of the residents were out cheering and spectating. Some provided refreshment stations. It was a hot day and they had freeze pops at one of the aid stations. It was great fun. We finished in 4:53:20. Did I mention it was hilly. People go to Vermont to ski.
The highlight of the trip (and kind of how I roped everyone in to the idea) was a trip up to the Ben & Jerry Factory after the race. Treats were had by all. We finished our night with a trip to the Von Trapp Family Brewery (yes, THAT Von Trapp Family).
I would highly recommend this race. The place is beautiful.
So now the big reveal and the reason I have to catch up in an omnibus post. As I write this post my wife and I are three days away from heading to Athens, Greece to run the ‘Athens Authentic Marathon‘. It runs from ‘Marathon’ to ‘Athens’, celebrating the historic run of Pheidippides after the Battle of Marathon which inspired the modern day race. The race itself finishes in the original modern day Olympics stadium from 1896. The ‘Panathenaic’ Stadium. We are so looking forward to this trip and I cannot wait to share the details when we get back.
It’s nice to be back and thank you for your patience.