Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Not Running a Movie Show!

Okay - perhaps an explanation and correction from my last post where I reference "Where's Bob" (for Emily and anyone else who may have the same question). As all of you, no doubt, know - you are NOT dealing with a movie buff, a celebrity stalker or a pop culture whiz here. In fact, I may be about as far from that personality type as is possible to be! So...."Where's Bob" should actually have been "What About Bob", which is a movie from 1991 (that I believe I actually saw, believe it or not) starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss - where Bob, if my memory serves me correctly, was a counselor or psychologist who almost stalked his patient who was trying to get away on a family vacation on Lake Winnipesaukee. Thus the connection to the area we were in....right there where Bob was hanging out and ensuring vacationers had a particularly good time! I think the movie had its moments and was pretty funny - but then again, what do I know about movies?!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Running to Find Where Bob Is!

Indeed Bob had his own set of problems in "Where's Bob", but Lake Winnipesaukee would seem to be a great place to take just about ANY problem and work on a solution. Alton Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee (rhythmically and delightfully pronounced by Rachel throughout our trip) was the site of our most recent run - the Big Lake Half-Marathon on Saturday the 10th of May. Most of the run was along the lake - although hardly level - and it was a picturesque setting in the middle of New Hampshire's Lake District. Beautifully green, significant "Eastern" hills (okay - even mountains), dozens of lakes (to include Squam Lake - setting for "On Golden Pond"), New England village charm and covered bridges all contributed to make this a memorable trip. Neither of us set any records on the race (although Karen had her second best time and I had probably a top 4 time), but since neither of us had really ever spent any time in the State it was a great opportunity and it did not disappoint. The afternoon of the race we thought we still had enough energy to climb Mt. Major - for which the trailhead was only a couple of minutes from our Motel. We learned that many of the Eastern trails were developed before the concept of switchbacks was refined - if you want to go up....then head up! It was steep and strenuous in places (esp. after a race and with Rachel ensuring the quads were worked extensively), but the view from the top was pretty spectacular. We were also able to spend a day in the White Mountains - to include hiking the Flume Gorge and Arethusa Falls along a very scenic 100-mile loop. All in all, an excellent trip, a very good run, and a greater appreciation for one of the smallest States. We also met some great people - to include the race co-directors and a daughter who helped us with Rachel. We recommend putting New Hampshire on your list of places to go!
As for deep thoughts - I might just have a few - related to the course we ran. The outbound portion of the race had some fairly long, sustained grades - and they were into the prevailing breeze. It made for some tough running - but I kept thinking I would benefit from this same layout in reverse - sustained downhills with a tailwind.....esp. as fatigue was starting to set in. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. At the turnaround, we took a loop down to and along the lake shore - and lost all of the gained elevation in one short, steep downhill, followed by more rolling hills before we connected back to the original route - for a level 2-mile finish. It was disappointing - esp. psychologically....and I couldn't help but wonder how often we psyche ourselves out when we really don't need to. We all develop expectations - whether realistic or not - and then when those aren't met our performance usually suffers until we put things back into perspective. The message? I guess we need to be careful with our expectations, remain flexible, and find and enjoy the good along the way instead of wondering what might have been or how things could and should have been better. Indeed, the loop along the lake was probably the most scenic part of the course - but not nearly as appreciated as it should have been - when exactly that appreciation could have more than made up for a missed expectation.
So - we never found Bob - but we found a beautiful and charming area well worth a visit!
(Oh, and by the way, 14 down, 36 to go!)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Country Running

What would running be like without a little country once and awhile? And a little country is what we got last weekend with the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee. However, we weren't alone in that little country runnin - we shared the event with 30,000 other runners, not to mention hundreds, if not thousands, of race volunteers and workers. In terms of the number of runners, it was the largest race I have ever participated in (Virginia Beach last Fall had around 20,000) - and for Karen, only her Chicago Marathon had a few more runners. However, notwithstanding the numbers, it was a very nice race and another excellent weekend - this time shared with Karen's Mom and two of her brothers (Dave and Tom) who drove down from Illinois to join us. Dave ran the Half with us, Tom ran the full marathon (I believe his 17th on his quest for 50), and Karen's Mom watched Rachel during the race. All in all, it worked out nicely.

I suspect most of you are rather bored with race details - but give some thought to putting on a race with this many people. Quite a logistics nightmare - but one they handled pretty well. Admittedly, things were spread out at both the start and finish, but I guess that is to be expected with these numbers. They also utilized the "corral start" or "wave start", meaning everyone was assigned a "corral" of about 1,000 people, based on their estimated completion time. The corrals were released every couple of minutes to reduce initial congestion. Worked pretty well, except that the elite runners were almost finished with the race when the last corral or two was released to start!

We had some good meals together and enjoyed wandering around Nashville. Our only regret is perhaps not taking advantage of the area to see and do more with country music. We didn't make it to the free concert on the night of the race, nor did we make it to the Grand 'Ol Opry. However, the morning before the race we walked up and down one of Nashville's main drags - every other store was a club with live country music. Interesting sounds all around! The race also featured country music groups at intervals along the route. Unfortunately, I think they ended up with fewer than planned due to the rain which continued right up until the start time, but the groups that were out were good and lent encouragement on the persistent hills! Nothing really spectacular about the course, but it is rightlty noted for NOT being flat! (Notwithstanding the topography, I had my best half-marathon time since starting to run these again 18 months ago - a 1:43:40! I'm not completely convinced the course wasn't a bit "short" in places - but I'll take it and count it- to include finishing 26th out of 627 men in my 50-54 age group!)

So - did I have any deep runner's thoughts during the race? I doubt there were any that would merit me publishing a book - but perhaps there were one or two. Many of the races we run are pretty small and don't have much in the way of crowds or fan support. This was one of the exceptions. There were definitely times along the route when a bit of encouragement was very welcome - even from total strangers. There were quite a few along the way in this race. I appreciated that and it made me wonder how often we pass up the chance to provide that same type of encouragement to someone - whether someone just passing by that would appreciate it - or someone we know, work with, love or otherwise - that really needs it, somewhat expects it, would definitely be helped by it, but sometimes may wait a lot longer to get it than they should have to....or in some cases may never get it. In most cases, these people will never ask - but I hope we are perceptive or intuitive enough to recognize them and take advantage of our opportunities. I doubt it would ever be harmful - even if not drastically needed - but on the other hand - someone just may really need it - and we may be the person along the route who can provide it.

Thirteen down - 37 to go!