Sunday, December 31, 2006

End of Year Run

I had planned to do 12 in order to finish with a nice round 3,300 miles for the year. I didn't make it. I did the east 6 route in 51 minutes (felt like much faster), with thoughts of just doing it again. Couldn't make it out the 2nd time however - just too tired. I did do 2 more on the mill after some weights. Hoping to make 20 tomorrow.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-12-30

I did about 15 on the towpath and the old carriage trail with Dave and Amy. It was a nice, sunny morning, but it was cool (upper 20s) to begin with. The old carriage trail turned out to be muddy. We moved fairly slow most of the way.

After a stop at Bruggers I went over to see mom and take her to lunch. Had to hurry though, because I have the fixed ekg machine coming over with the nurse.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Yesterday and Today

Went to see Mom yesterday. Lunch with Debbie, Carol and Mom at Tony R's.

Had to work yesterday and today as well in order to fill in a bit.

Yesterday I just did 6 tired miles on the mill. But today was a good one. I did the Substation 11 loop in 83 minutes, including a 4-mile tempo run in 26 and a half. Really good going!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas

We went to Kathy and Mike's for Christmas eve-eve. I made pizza over there because Mike's been having more allergy problems with the cats here.

For Christmas eve we attended the usual party at Sandy and Nancy's. It was very typical of their parties - lots of fun. Too bad our girls were missing.

Yesterday it was Christmas day at Jen and Cliff's. Once again our girls were missing, but it was a nice time. Great food.

recent running

Last Thursday I did my 11-mile loop in 92 minutes. So-so.

Saturday I did 3 on the mill and then 16 with Dave and Amy on the muddy towpath, We did about 8.5 mpm going out and then 8's coming back. Not too bad.

So much for my "easy" 60-mile week. Next week starts the big push.

Sunday I did my 11-mile loop in 93.5 minutes. I was tired. Seemed like I was going much faster.

Yesterday I did 20 in the hood in 2:50 for my Christmas Day run. Pretty difficult, and it woulda been easy to quit. Glad I stuck it out.

Today I was going to meet Dave and run on the towpath. But there was a miserable cold rain, so I stayed home and ran on the mill. 9 in 64.5 with 2 3-mile tempos. But this run wasn't nearly as good as it sounds. I did way too much holding on. I was just too dang tired.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Easy Week

Today's run wasn't the greatest, but I did enjoy it. I did the 10 down sleepy hollow and up Rocklyn, coming back on Hick Ridge in 87.5 minutes. I should standardize that route.

I'd planned on an easy week, and it's really happening.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yesterday's Long Run and Cousins Party

I really surprised myself by doing my second long run (this time the Substation 20 route) in 3 days yesterday. Even more surprising is that I ran at a steady pace the whole way. Lookit these 4-mile splits: 33:59,33:42,33:23,33:24,33:49. Overall time was 2:48:19. Don't know what's getting into me. Only thing is that my knee still talks to me.

We had a wonderful time at Mike and Karen's in Burton for brunch yesterday. All the cousins were there except for Rick and Lois. The food was fantastic. Lots of fun.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Today's Run and a DRNeo Note

I did 4 on the mill today - not feeling too bad after yesterday's 20.

Here's a note I sent to the neo deads.


DanF asks

>Incidentally, Dan H, Rita was informed by Run Ohio that she had done
>well in the Grand Prix series this year. How'd you finally make out?

Since you asked... I dunno. I picked up a RunOhio at the Columbus Marathon and was surprised to see my name in there for several events, including the Grand Prix. I wasn't on top, but I wasn't on the bottom neither. I've never paid a whole lot of attention to it - maybe I should.

But let's talk about the Subway Ohio Challenge Series. I finished 2nd in my age group the other two years I participated. I ran fairly well this year, and I was on top most of the season, so I had high hopes for an AG win. Unfortunately, Jim Wilhelm, a very young and very fast 50-year old, managed to get uninjured enough late in the season to do enough races to come out a little ahead of me in the standings. Or so it seemed...

Debbie and went to the awards banquet a couple weeks ago with me thinking I was still the perenniel bridesmaid, only to find out that they gave Jim an award for the top "grand master". By default (or you might say, by a technicality) then, I was the top 50-54 year-old. I'll take it anyway. The funny thing was that my winnings were less than I received for 2nd place a couple years ago. Those times I got $50 cash and a $50 gift certificate to Runners Supply. This time I got $25 and a $25 gift certificate to Raisin Rack. Next year I'll try for third - maybe that will be $150 or so.

By the way, I'm still recovering from Columbus, my knee injury, Greece, TEN (count them) TEN pounds, general sloth and Thanksgiving. That's why I'm sitting here at the computer instead of running. But I'll be back...


Dan Horvath

runhorvathrun@hotmail.com

Friday, December 15, 2006

20!

After 2 months, I'm back in 20 territory again. And it wasn't too bad. I did one on the mill, 16 outside, and then 3 more on the mill. 30 minutes for the 4 on the mill and 2:17.5 for the outside stuff. Still tipping the scales at 164 though.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Reality Check

Thought I'd be lighter. (still 165)
Thought I'd run longer. Like 13 to 15. (only the usual 11-mile course - too tired and slow to do more)
Thought I'd be faster. Like sub-8 pace. (I guess I was tired after yesterday's run, and the wind took a lot from me. I did the 11 in 94.5 minutes)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

165

Yes, I'm 11 lbs over weight. And this on a day when I felt light.

But I did manage to run well today. Well enough, in fact, that this would've been a good run anytime, but especially now when I'm in my down time and 165 lbs. Solid the whole way. 8 on Substation in 57 minutes, with 6 at MP. Then one more to cool down. It helped that it was a nice warm (46) morning.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Recent Running

Saturday it was 15 with Dave and Amy on the parkway. Slow going - the wind was cold. Sunday I managed 16 without much of a slowdown. Steady as she goes. Today I did 3 runs - 2 2-mile runs on the mill before and between counts, and then 3 outside at lunch. It was nice and warm.

Weekend

With Debbie's sinus/ear infection not getting better we got her to a doctor on Friday. Now she's on an antibiotic. She liked the new doc too.

Went to see Mom on Saturday. Took her to PF Chang and then to the Beachwood Place mall so she could see some xmas decorations. Something different.

I had won some tickets from the radio station to a choir concert featuring the Cleveland Singers and the Cleveland Boys Choir. It was ok. Since it was at Cleveland State, we went out to dinner nearby at the downtown Renaissance / Sans Suci.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Yesterday's Calls and Today's Running

TV Preview called TEN times yesterday to try to get more opinions from us regarding the commercials we saw Saturday night. Telling them not to call anymore didn't help. For some reason they didn't call today yet. Maybe they wanted all the info yesterday.

I did 7 on the mill early this morning and then 3 on the Presidents streets this afternoon. OK, but why am I always so sore?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-12-05

Not too bad today - 8 on the mill at a brisk pace including 5 x 1200 @ 5 minutes each. All this woulda been an awful failure a couple months ago, but now it's a great run. It sure is tough to get back into shape.

Monday, December 04, 2006

more running

I actually ran two more times today - just two miles on the mill each time. It's gonna be like this for a while with these early morning calls the way they are.

Today's Run - 2006-12-04

Just two tired miles on the mill. That's all the time I had before the 6am call. Maybe I'll be able to do a couple more later on.

I will try to visit Mom along with Debbie today. We'll see if I can make it.

I'm also in the process of replacing the main bathroom faucet. Lots of bad words and I've still got more to do.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

recent running and other stuff

I went to see Mom and to get her a state ID on Friday. I had some trouble finding her SSN card, but eventually found an insurance card that did the trick. Friday night Debbie and I babysat for Dave and Jill. Mario was great! He was a whole lot of fun. Yesterday was my Ohio Challenge Series banquet. First place!! In my AG. After they took Jim Wilhelm out for the top Grand-Master prize. But I'll take it! I won $25 in cash and a $25 gift certificate to Raisin Rack. Debbie and I went right over to spend that right away since we were in the neighborhood. Interesting health stuff. Last night we went with Jessy and Kathy to a "TV Preview". It was nice to be with them, but the meeting was really weird. They said we were rating tv shows, but we were really telling them what we thought of the commercials and other products we might buy.

Yesterday I did 15 in BVH with Dave. The winds and the cold made it tough - wind chills were in the teens. Today I managed 16 more. I was happy to get through this, but I had a bit of knee pain, the first in weeks, for a couple short periods of time. And of course it was slow going.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Recent Running

Trying very hard to get back into shape. These 6am calls aren't helping. Today I got out the door just after four - and did my 11-mile new subs loop. Today I did 90.5, which was better than yesterday's 92.5. Even so, I feel I should be running much better. Still have a long way to go. Monday I stayed on the mill between early calls - 7 altogether.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Weekend

...was wonderful. I always say that Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday because it's just about being with the family. This one didn't disappoint. Wednesday night I made the lasagne for the family, then Thursday was the big turkey day. Friday we shopped at west side market and then the ladies got a dress with Val. Friday evening Dave and Jill joined the rest of us for turkey soup. Yesterday it was more shopping and a walk with Veronica. Played some games with Kathy and Mike too. Of course I ate too much as always. Lotso fun.

I did 15 with Dave here in Brunswick yesterday, and then 11 today. Most of this was 8 to 8.5 pace, but I was pretty tired today, so this one wasn't pretty. The weather has been very pretty though - and warm!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day and Recent Running

The girls are in! Folks are coming over at mid-day. We had lasagne for dinner last night. Debbie and I had been cooking all day yesterday.

Got the mill fixed again yesterday. It was just a loose wire, but we had to pay $100 for the service call. I did 3 in 20 minutes on it to break it in again.

Today I did a nice 11 mile run (87.5 minutes) on this frosty turkey day. Nice route too - around town, but the interesting part was through the apartments, across Pearl, thru subs to Laurel, down Mary Ellen to Sleepy Hollow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-11-21

10 with Dave today in 85 and a half. Pretty slow, but about par for the course these days. Seemed like faster. It feels good to not be sick or injured anyway.

Visited Mom again yesterday and helped Carol get a treadmill and we bought a dartboard. It was fun getting the 4x6 corkboard (background) home on top of the car - holding onto it so it wouldn't blow away.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Social Stuff and Recent Running

Saturday Debbie went to Craig's surprise 50th B-day party. She gave me an out - let me stay home to watch the Ohio-State-Michigan game. I'm glad I did - it was a very good game and I also got to see Script Ohio.

Sunday we met Dave and Jill for breakfast and then picked up Mom, then Dave and Carol, and then drove out to Jennifer and Cliff's for Jen's surprise 40th B-day party. Nice time, but by the time we got home we had been in the car about 4 hours for the day.

Saturday I did a short 15 miles with Dave and Amy. Some was on the towpath, but some was up the hills - we ran to Brandywine Falls and back down the Old Carriage Trail. Lots of mud, but an enjoyable run. Yesterday I did my 11-mile Substation route in a slower-than-I-wanted 91.5 minutes. Today I was even slower - about 10 in 88.5. But it was a nice route - Miner, Hancock, Pennys, Ruth, Charlotte, up through school and over to North Park. 3 laps of the lake: 3:19, 3:14, 3:06

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

today's run - 2006-11-14

Another 12 on the hotel mill in 1:26:36. This includes 5 at MP. Not a bad run, but it was really really tough. Didn't help that it was warmer in the room than yesterday. Just gotta get into better shape.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-11-13

It's been raining here in Philly, but I wanted to do something longish. So I got on the mill and watched some tv for a coupla hours. I'm still woosy from the cold and the late night of travel, but I did ok - 18 miles in 2:13. Decent, but I've got a long way to go.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

recent running and other stuff

My cold was at it's worst on Friday, but then better yesterday and better still today. I did 3 on the mill yesterday, and didn't feel too bad. Too bad the mill broke in the process. Today it was pretty raw outside, but I did 6 at an 8 minute pace. Not bad. The knee still clicks, but is better as well. So things are looking up.

Friday we went to dinner with the Zawada family, and then stopped by Jack and Deanna's place. Yesterday we made the long trip to Costco with Kathy, and had the Zims for dinner in the evening. Good steaks if I don't say so meself. Today I head to Philly.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Debbie and Dan's 2006 Big Fat Greek Journey

Getting There
The entire 2-week trip – including the cost, which was not insignificant – was passing before my eyes. Due to weather in the New York area (it doesn’t matter what kind of weather; any weather will do it - in this case it was a drop or two of rain), our flight to Newark was delayed by over 2 hours, which would cause us to miss our connection to Frankfort, along with our subsequent flights to Paris and then Athens. Our options? Go ahead and begin missing connections or wait until tomorrow. This latter one wasn’t really an option because we would then miss the beginning of the tour and have to hook up with the group in faraway (from Athens) Kalambaka. God knows how we’d manage that.

So we chose the first option and decided to beg for mercy to anyone wearing a Continental uniform. The third try did it. A lady at the Customer Service Desk spent over an hour with our complicated itinerary and made it sensible and doable. We went straight from Newark to Paris, bypassing Frankfort altogether, and then on to Athens. Not only did this work, it even did so for our luggage as well!

We met our Tour Director, Gordon Spicer upon checking into the Acropolis Select Hotel. Ate moussaka for dinner at God’s Restaurant. Really.

Athens
The city tour of Athens was pretty good. We saw the Panathenic Stadium, used for the first modern Olympic games in 1896, as well as for the 2004 Games’ Marathon finish. We saw the ancient Theater of Dionysis (the god of wine) at the base of the Acropolis, and of course the Acropolis itself.

Acropolis means hill-city, and many ancient Greek cities have them. But when we talk about The Acropolis, we’re talking about the one in Athens. At the top are a few temples in various states of repair, the most famous being the Parthenon. The size and scale of the Parthenon are amazing. It had survived intact for 2,000 years, until bombing in a war between Turkey and Italy caused the roof to collapse. The state of disrepair actually seems to add to its allure. There is a beautiful view of all of Athens from the Acropolis as well. We had seen the top and the Parthenon all lit up the night before.

Why did the Ancient Greeks build so many ruins? This actual query is to be the title of Gordon’s someday-to-be-written book. Even after 37 years of being a tour director, he never ceases to be amazed at the people who take these tours. He’s already assured us that we’ll be in the book as well. Although he’s funny at times, Gordon does seem efficient and competent so far.

It is a long bus ride from Athens in the south to Kalambaka in the north. Along the way we passed Marathon, where the first one took place, the plains of Thessaly, featuring miles of cotton, mountains galore, etc. Once in Kalambaka, Debbie and I dined with Margaret and Peter from the UK and Bernie and Linda from Australia.

Meteora
Meteora is the site of several monasteries near Kalambaka. These Orthodox monasteries are perched atop huge rocks in unfathomable ways. Looking up at them from town, my initial thought was that we could never, in a bazillion years, drive to anywhere near them, but drive near to them we did, and in a bus no less. We toured the Varlaam and Bapbapac monasteries and also stopped at a third one. The views were great from up there; it was not unlike Yosemite. This and other things were good topics of conversation with our new friends from California, Jack and Glorina. Although it was still called a monastery, Bapbapac was actually a nunnery. One of the nuns made sure that all the women who entered were wearing skirts or dresses covering the knees; a wrap could be borrowed if necessary. No one tried to sneak by her for fear of getting slapped with a ruler.

Of course the best part of today’s visit was that I was able to tell anyone who’d listen about my friend who actually joined one of these monasteries. You know, the one that was so strict that the monks were only allowed to speak two words every ten years. After ten years of extremely hard, backbreaking work, my friend went to the head monk and exclaimed, “Hard work.” The head monk replied, “OK. We will note your comments. Now go back to work.” After another ten years of toil, my friend said, “I’m tired.” The head monk replied, “Noted. Now get back to work.” After yet another 10 years, my friend said, “I quit.” The head monk replied, “I’m not surprised. You’ve done nothing but complain for thirty years.

After the monasteries, it was on to Delphi, back in the southern part of Greece. So far we seem to have had moussaka and a Greek salad, complete with a liter of olive oil, every day of the trip.

Delphi
The modern village of Delphi is very nice. Much of the town has a great view of the gulf of Corinth. The Delphi archeological site is most beautiful and serene. Debbie and I walked a long way from the area of Apollo’s Temple to see the famous three columns of the rotunda. We were the only ones there, and it was very quiet and peaceful. We could see why the area had religious significance for the ancient Greeks.

The Oracle of Delphi was actually a series of women who told fortunes for the ancient Greeks; anyone up to and including kings. Legend has it that the Oracle would hear the request and then enter the nearby cave for inspiration before returning to tell the fortune. It is now believed that the Oracles experienced hallucinations resulting from gasses within the cave.

“Calimara” means “good morning” in Greek. I must remember not to wish anyone “calamari”, which means squid. We ate some calamari for lunch at a nice place on a typical Mediterranean beach. Then it was across the bridge to the Peloponnesian peninsula. There are mountains everywhere in Greece. It seems a bit like California in this way, and unfortunately it also has the smog, especially in the south. By evening we made it to Olympia to stay at the Olympia Palace. It’s the nicest of the hotels we’ve been at. The food and location were great, and it’s just a short walk to the Olympic site.

Olympia
This is the place where it all began in 776 B.C. The ancient games were held every four years for over a millennium. Pope/Roman Emperor Theodosius I put an end to them in 394 A.D. I find it interesting that the Greeks kept track of the years by the Olympiad along with the name of the winner of the sprint from that year. As we walked through the awesome tunnel and into the original stadium, I couldn’t help but get some goose bumps. Of course I had to take a run back and forth on the approximately 200-meter course. Other folks eventually got the idea to do so too. By mutual consent, we all decided not to run naked like the Greeks did.

Nearby is the ruins of the temple to Olympian Zeus, which contained one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, a giant gold and marble statue of Zeus. It was destroyed by the same Emperor Theodosius I who put an end to the games. What a guy.

Our tours of these places is falling into a pattern set by Gordon: get an early wake-up call, go to breakfast early, get the luggage ready and out of the room early, and get on with the site-seeing early. Although there is some grumbling, everyone realizes that getting to these sites early is extremely important. We are beating all the huge crowds that are just beginning to arrive in caravans of tour busses just as we are leaving. The crowds, not to mention the heat, must be really awful in the summer. Speaking of heat, we’ve had wonderful weather: the days have been sunny and the temperatures have ranged from about 45 to 50 at night to 65 to 70 during the days. Yes, this is the time to go.

We can’t help but believe that the ancient Greeks, or at least the Romans who followed, had better plumbing than the modern Greeks do. Most toilets are somewhat functional, except for a few places where they are literally just a hole in the ground. The hotel showers are a topic of conversation for everyone though. So small that one can’t turn around; made so that the water floods into and all over the tiny bathroom; shower curtains that wind up sticking to your body; I could go on and on.

Epidaurus and Nafplia
We toured the ancient theater of Epidaurus, which seats 14,000, has fantastic acoustics, and is still used to this day.

The city of Nafplia was our next destination. It is a beautiful town along the sea: very Mediterranean, and a nice place to walk. We ate dinner at a nice outdoor restaurant in an alley along with Peter and Margaret. Glorina and Jack were nearby as well.

Mycenae and Corinth
The Mycenae archeological site is hundreds of years older than the others we’ve seen. It’s famous as the home of Agamemnon who, according to the Iliad, led the Greeks in the Trojan War around 1100 B.C. Parts of the site are older still, and much is still being excavated. We saw the famous Lion’s Gate (amongst the 18-foot wide city walls) and the Beehive tomb. Unfortunately we had a foggy day and couldn’t see much of the surrounding scenery from the Mycenaean acropolis, which we were told was outstanding. Maybe we’ll see it next time we’re around.

We subsequently drove on to Corinth for a brief stop. This is the place where Paul gave his letters to the Corinthians. He obviously didn’t trust the Greek Postal Service.

Athens
Once back in Athens, Jack and Glorina, Bill and Jenny from Sydney, Shirley and Ray from Fort Worth, and the two of us all trekked over to the Benaki Museum. A mixture of art and artifacts were there for the viewing. We walked back through the Plaka district and stopped for dinner at a nice outdoor café on a square.

Cape Sounion
Since there was nothing better to do in the morning before the cruise, we took an optional side trip to Cape Sounion. There we saw Poseidon’s Temple, which commands a spectacular panoramic view of the Aegean and Ionian Seas.

Cruisin’
That first week sure had been busy – on the go every day. The theory was that once we got on the cruise ship that we’d be able to finally relax in the lap of luxury and high living. Sure, we knew that the MS Perla wasn’t going to be newest and fanciest ship in the fleet, but we went with it because it was priced right through Cosmos, and because it had a great itinerary.

First the good news. The Perla’s food was excellent. We weren’t enamored with the buffet, but the food in the main dining room was great. The ship’s entertainment was also good. The five or six singers and dancers were the same every night except for the occasional magic show, and that was good as well. The best part was that we wouldn’t need to pack and unpack every day; we could unpack and stay put for the week.

The bad news begins with, unpack to where? Our stateroom was literally much smaller than our bedroom closet in our last house. There were a couple tiny drawers and an itsy bitsy closet. The walls were paper thin, so that we could hear everything going on in the three adjacent rooms. My 18-inch bed was against the wall, so that I was only inches away from the guy in the room next to us, and he snored like a grizzly bear. I used earplugs. Modern Greek plumbing being as it is, bad smells emitting from the bathroom drains had Debbie stuffing towels into all of them. I was half expecting us to begin having Oracle-like hallucinations. And leave it to the Greeks to come up with one-sided toilet paper; heaven help you if you use the rough side….

So although we weren’t expecting the Ritz, the ship was still below our expectations. In spite of all this, we were having a wonderful time. This was mostly because we were spending so much time with all our new Cosmos friends. 28 of the original 42 had opted for continuing on with the cruise, and we were almost like a family now; a family with Father Goose, Gordon. A few of these folks that we became very good friends with, besides those already mentioned, include Becky from B.C., Valda from Rotorua, N.Z., Jeff from Oakland, C.J. and Lay Chen from Malaysia, Gail and Joanne from near Brisbane, Joan from Canberra, and (Panama) Jack, along with Sandy and Al from Florida.

“Hit Di Road Jack!” As good as the entertainment was, these Eastern Europeans were not quite Ray Charles’ material. Later one of them gave Greek dancing lessons: “Step, step behind, keek; step, step behind, keek.” We did only some dancing, but the Greek music was just as our old friend Linda Rafalski had described: “The music starts slowly, and then goes faster and faster, as does the dancing. It ends at its fastest, and then everyone yells OPA! Then the next piece begins slowly, goes faster and faster, and everyone yells OPA! Then the next piece begins slowly… and so on.”

To get from Athens to Istanbul, we cruised through the night and much of the next day. We had hoped to arrive in the afternoon in time to get to the Grand Bazaar. Unfortunately for some reason the Turkish government held us from entering the Dardenells straights for several hours and we didn’t arrive until evening.

Istanbul
Arriving after dark, there wasn’t time to see or do much. We took a short walk before discovering that the laser show we were looking for was best seen from the deck of the ship. We managed to get back in time to catch part of it. The show was part of the celebration for the next day’s Turkey Independence Day celebration.

The following morning I got out for a run in which I made an attempt to run from Europe, across a bridge to Asia. The bridge turned out to be further away than it looked, and I had to turn back as I was running out of time. I have never seen so many flags. Big ones and little ones were on display everywhere for the holiday.

Our all-day city tour took us to the Blue Mosque, one of Islam’s largest and most impressive, the Aya Sofia museum, once a huge Christian cathedral dating from the Byzantine Empire and later converted to a mosque, and finally Topkapi Palace, which, along with one piece of our furniture, dates from the Ottoman Empire. Topkapi provides great views of Istanbul, along with relics of Mohammed himself. The jewels on display, including an 86 karat diamond and some equally huge emeralds, put Great Britain’s Crown Jewels to shame.

Turkey has a secular government, and although well over 90% Islamic, is not fundamentally so like several other countries. Our guide covered her head whilst in the Blue Mosque, but explained that even this was optional. About halfway through the day we were walking around when we heard the noon call to prayer blasted from the Blue Mosque’s minarets. It was all pretty exotic stuff.

Mykonos
When you imagine a Greek Island, Mykonos is what you think of. All the houses and other buildings, even the 400 or so churches, are painted white, and the whitewashing must be done a couple times a year. Only some of the trim may contain bits of color. Even the space between the stones on the walkways is white. We strolled through town, stopping at churches, the hill-top windmills, and for the town’s famous pelican (the one that tried to swallow Gail, whole) before the rain began. Glorina, Jack, Debbie and I made it under an awning to wait it out. Soon it was a storm of biblical proportions. We made a run for it when it abated a bit. Our shoes were soaked from having to step through the flooded areas of the streets.

So much for Mykonos. At least we had had a bit of time there to enjoy it.

Patmos
Yet another of the picturesque Greek Islands is Patmos. We took in some of the scenery before heading to the Cave of the Apocalypse, where John wrote the book of Revelation. The cave is part of an Orthodox Monestary, and a liturgy was taking place at the time, so we had to be quiet and respectful for a change. We did see the large crack in the ceiling that is traditionally thought to have been caused by either God, an earthquake, or both, inspiring the book. I think if I was sitting there and an earthquake caused a crack like that, I’d have a Revelation too.

Kusadasi and Ephesus
After just a few hours on Patmos, we sailed for Kusadasi, on the mainland of Turkey, arriving mid-afternoon. Nearby is the ancient Roman city of Ephesus. The size and scale were enormous; the place must have rivaled Rome itself in its day. We saw a theater similar to the others we’ve been to, a library, a brothel, and everyone’s favorite, the toilets, which still looked usable. Saint Paul preached and wrote (the book of Ephesians) here as well.

Later we went to the Kusadasi bazaar where we were physically pulled into every shop. We wound up bargaining for some leather jackets, but in the end said no because Debbie’s didn’t fit, and I was too afraid of being swindled even though the price seemed great.

Rhodes
Rhodes is a large island, and we spent the day there. In the morning we hopped on a bus and toured the town of Lindos, a beautiful little town along the Mediterranean. It’s been continuously inhabited for over 3,000 years. The cobblestone steps were so treacherous and slippery that Debbie and many of the others turned back from the trip to the town’s acropolis. Who thought those cobblestones would be a good idea? Could it be one of the Greek master plumbers? Though smaller, this acropolis is not unlike the one in Athens, and it did have wonderful views.

There was another heavy rainstorm, but in the afternoon we walked over to Rhodes Old Town, a medieval walled city within the larger Rhodes city proper. What a great place – it was just like being at a permanent Renaissance or Middle Ages fair. It was also a bit like Prague. The town’s port also once contained the Colossus of Rhodes, a huge statue to welcome incoming ships and another of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Debbie and I managed to get extremely lost and became a bit frightened that we wouldn’t make it back to the ship before it sailed away. A little old local woman figured out that we were off track and pointed the way, and we made it in time.

Crete
This would be our final pile of rocks: the palace of Knossis. It is an entire city contained within a single palace, which contained over 1,600 rooms. These rocks were part of the oldest civilization we’d seen yet, that of the Minoan Empire of 4,000 years ago. This empire rivaled that of the Egyptians.

In theory the collapse of the Minoan empire was precipitated by the largest tsunami in recorded history caused by the 1700 B.C. Santorini volcano. The disaster to the Minoans of Crete as well as the civilization on Santorini itself is probably the source of the legend of Atlantis.

Santorini
We only had a few hours in the afternoon and evening to see this spectacular island. It was certainly the most beautiful of any we’d seen, and that is saying something. The scale of what’s left from the volcano is enormous, and the town is perched high up on the rim. After tendering over to the island, we took a cable car to the top. What a view! Along with Glorina and Jack, we walked for several miles along the rim. The sunset was great from up there.

Athens
Yes, we were back to the Acropolis Select for the third time. Time to say goodbye to Gordon, who would soon be married in London. All agreed that he did a great job to enable us to have a wonderful holiday.

Would we relax and brace ourselves for the next day’s long arduous trip? Naaah! Even though we were tired, several of us (Jenny, Bill, Glorina, Jack, C.J., Ley Chen, Becky, Joan and Debbie and I) made our way to the National Archeological Museum via the metro. It was by far the best museum we’d seen. There was the bronze statue of Poseiden, now thought to be Zeus, the golden death mask of Agamemnon and many other treasures. After lunch at a sidewalk café, we walked the long road back. Along the way we ventured through a flea market (it was very similar to the ones in America), a meat market with entire carcasses hanging around, and a fish market. We also walked around the ancient agora, a market place dating from the golden age of Greece. Turned out that I had lied about no more rocks and ruins.

By the time we arrived back at the hotel, Debbie had had it. She had succumbed to the cold/flu virus that had been going around. We ate dinner at God’s again and said goodbye to all our friends. We’ll miss them, one and all, for the trip was very much enriched by the experience of having them with us.

Other Recent Running

After taking two weeks off after Columbus (besides the run in Olympia), I got on the ship's mill and did 15 relatively fast miles last week, and five more in Istanbul. The ole knee is way better, but still not all the way. It still feels "funny".

When we returned last weekend I got out Sunday and did a solid 17 miles at an 8-minute pace. I was tired, but encouraged that there was no pain and because I ran so consistently. Monday's 11 was anything but consistent - it was a real stinker. After taking Tuesday off, I did a 6-mile loop on Wednesday, again at 8-minute pace. Yesterday was off, but I did 10 today.

Wednesday afternoon at precisely 1:00pm I got a cold. I know the minute it happened. I'm taking Zicam, but it's not helping like it usually does so far. I'll keep doing it.

Running in Faraway Olympia

I just *had* to do it. How can you be in Olympia, Greece, the home of the original Olympic Games, and *not* go for a run?

Minutes earlier we had come through the partially restored tunnel and into the stadium. This was not unlike the experience of entering a modern stadium through a tunnel. I couldn't help but get goosebumps. A local guide then told us how the ancient games began at the site in 776 B.C. and continued every four years for over a millenium, until Pope/Roman Emperor Theodosius I put an end to them in 394 A.D. I find it interesting that the Greeks kept track of the years by the Olympiad along with the name of the winner of the sprint from that year.

The stadium is still as it was those 2,782 years ago - the only seats are near the finish line; all other fans sat on the grassy hillsides that surround the venue on the remaining three sides. Several different events were held, including runs of different distances. The most basic was a one-way sprint for the length of the field, about 200 meters; other runs were back and forth for multiple loops. The venue was used for the shot-put for the 2004 games, and like those of 776 B.C., admission was free.

So after our guide finished talking, I went for a jog for the length of the stadium and back, about a quarter-mile. Others soon followed my lead. It wasn't one of my longest or fastest runs, but it'll be one for the history books.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Miserable Failure

Yep, that's me. And yep, that's also an apt description of my effort at yesterday's Columbus Marathon. From this, you might conclude that I either a) didn't finish, or b) ran much slower than I thought I should. But you'd be wrong on the first account, and mostly wrong on the second. Here's the sad story.

Training partner Dave G. and I arrived in Columbus Saturday afternoon in time to register and hit the expo. I had pre-registered, so of course I had to wait in some extremely long lines to a) pick up my number, and b) pick up my chip. Heaven forbid they do this with one line. When I asked about this, I was told that there were too many errors the other way. Dave, who had to register there, breezed right through. About 20 minutes later, whilst we were exploring the expo, we heard an announcement: registration for the marathon is CLOSED. Even people who were in line at that point (the short line) would be turned away. Dave had only just made it in. Lesson learnt. Maybe... After the expo we headed to Dave's friends Jason and Becky's place to watch the Buckeyes (yes, there are a few Buckeye fans in Columbus), and to watch their sports-minded little ones play basketball, golf and hockey in the living room, and to eat carry out Buca Di Beppo.

Now it was Sunday morning at 4:30. Dave will be sleeping for another 80 minutes, but I need to get out of bed and do something. I grab my book and head down to the lobby to read. I hadn't slept well. You'd think that after 80-something of these, that it would be no big deal by now.

I had had a very good year, with 3 sub-40 minute 10Ks, a 10 and a 9 miler at a very solid 6:20 or so pace, a PR at the Avon 30K, a 1:26+ half, and a solid effort for a 3:09 Boston. This is not to mention several age group awards and good standing in the Ohio Challenge Series. I had been starting to think that I was finally back, after ten years, in sub-3 shape. Impossible at my ripe old age, you say. Not so, I say, exhibit A being my hero, Joe Salwan. But of course there was an extenuating circumstance: my knee. Having messed it up about a month ago, I'd cut my mileage in half trying to nurse it back. And it was better at times, and my training runs were still pretty solid, even though they were fewer in number. So what with these ups and downs, I was going to go for it, along with Dave. So yes, this one *was* still a big deal to me.

Before going back to the room, I stick my head out the door. It was supposed to be in the mid to upper 30s, and brrrr - it sure feels like it. It's also supposed to be clear, with a high in the mid-50s later in the day. Absolutely perfect PR weather. My only worry is the wind.

We get oatmeal at the hotel restaurant for $2.50 each. A half-pint container of milk to put over the oatmeal is another $1.50. If our math skills are still in working order, this means that the milk is $24 per gallon. I'm a bit worried about eating too much, because I had also had a powerbar when I awoke. But my tummy seems to feel ok. The next worry is what to wear. 30s for the start sounds like it's way too cold for shorts and a singlet, but I know that it'll warm up as soon as we get going, so that's what I'd go with. Dave opts for a bit more skin coverage. And then we wondered how the drop bag situation would work; there hadn't been too much information about it. I decided to bring a black trash bag and an old space blanket, but nothing to drop off. Yes, I am a slave to fashion.

With about 7,000 runners in both the half and the full marathons this year, I had been concerned about it being too crowded at the start. As the gun goes off, however, it doesn't seem bad at all. Broad street has once again earned it's name. Things get a bit more crowded as the road becomes narrower in a mile or two, and then narrower still turning into the scenic Bexley neighborhood, past the governor himself. After we see Mr. Taft waving to us from a street corner, we see a state patrol car nearby. I wonder out loud if the governor gets protection from state troopers the way the president does from the secret service. "*HE* should", answered another runner who was between Dave and me at the time. After about 7:30 for the first mile (one of my critical success factors being an easy start), we were now getting splits in the 6:50's. It doesn't feel so cold now that the sun is getting higher in the sky.

At mile 5, the half-marathoners peel off, and the streets suddenly feel spacious again. Now it was just us marathoners. I foolishly think that it would be this way for the rest of the race. But noooo. At mile 8 or so, who should rejoin us, but the half-marathoners again! They had taken a short-cut, and we were now running along with half marathoners who were a mile behind us, and who were running at a slower pace. We were also beginning to pass large numbers of walkers, who had started an hour earlier. It is extremely distracting to have to run around all these people so far into the race. I'm sure it's wasting valuable energy. I am handed a Clif-Shot energy gel and pop it in my mouth. It has the consistency of Really THICK Vaseline. I cough and choke and nearly vomit. Somehow I recover after a half-mile of this.

But there's a bigger problem. My knee, which had felt fine up until now, was beginning to make itself known to me. No pain yet, just some mutterings such as "I'm down here, and I can make or break you - ignore me at your peril", and things like that. So now I was having trouble running in a straight line with all the slower runners and walkers, and every slight turn was bringing more and more threatening comments from below: "if you step right or left to get around those people, you're gonna pay!".

Only by about mile 11 or so do the crowds thin out again. Heading back downtown again after German Village, we pass the half-way point in 1:30:45 or so. This couldn't be more perfect. It's *exactly according to plan. Now all we have to do is run a 1:29 half marathon. Piece of cake. There's more good news: my knee has now quieted down some. Columbus doesn't have many hills, but there are some small uphill grades at mile 14 and mile 17. Even though the pace has been right on, I am now concerned that I may have worked too hard to get to this point. Going up those hills is much more difficult than it should be, and I slow down, getting well behind Dave and the other sub-3 hopefuls. I do manage to catch back up on the level and downhill grades however.

After that harder-than-it-should've-been hill at 17, we finally turn off High street and hit a nice downhill for mile 18. I pick it back up and run my last sub-7 minute mile for the day. I know this as it's happening because I realize that I'm working too hard even on this easy downhill portion of the race. It's just too bad that although my body is hurting, by brain is functioning at capacity, because I fully understand that without all or most of the rest of the miles at sub-7 pace, I won't make it in under 3 hours. It doesn’t matter. I absolutely have to slow down. My brain tells me not to worry; if I can at least do relatively pedestrian 7:30 to 8 minute miles the rest of the way, I’d still have a solid 3:05 or so. I tell my brain to stop being so rational.

I am slowly approaching the 20-mile marker. I think I can make it in about 2:20 – still a 7-minute pace by the way – but I hit a porta-john just before the mile-marker. Good idea, I think. I should be revived after this short stop. Only one minor problem: when I emerge from the booth, I can’t run. My knee has given out completely. My attempt brings tremendous pain, along with the cracking and popping of things that shouldn’t be cracking and popping. It must have been some combination of two miles of shuffling, stopping and standing for 30 seconds, and then trying to get going again. This isn’t a problem, I think; I’ll just walk past the 20-mile marker and then begin running again as the course turned right. I try to run again. More pain and cracking and popping. I walk for a while more. I try to run again. More pain. I walk some more and begin to get very worried. It seemed like only moments ago that I was considering lowering my expectations from sub-3 hours to 3:05, and now all of sudden I feel like I probably won’t make it at all.

What to do? Walk for 6 miles? It would probably take an hour and a half, so maybe I could still make it under 4 hours. Or should I DNF, and just accept that this was not my day. The DNF sounds like the wiser decision, because it has the added benefits of getting me out of my pain sooner (it is even hard to walk), and of possibly doing less long-term damage. Now I wonder: how does one DNF? There had been an aid station at the 20-mile mark, and I could just walk a half-mile back there and turn myself in. Or I could continue to move forward to the next aid station, which would most likely come in a mile or so at mile 21 or 22 at the latest. Although it makes much more sense to go back, I can’t bring myself to do it. What if a miracle occurs and I can suddenly run again. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to find out if I turned back. If I keep going, I can try to run one last time before I quit for good.

I keep going, and I continue to consider the ramifications of this upcoming second-ever DNF. The first one was easy. Too easy. Erie had been made up of 2 13.1-mile loops, and when I saw Debbie, who was about to head over to breakfast, at that half-way point, I simply stepped off the course and went with her. Columbus is different. Even after I find someone and tell him or her I want to quite, what would become of me? I don’t think they have an ambulance at each aid station waiting for people like me. I might have to sit (if such a thing would be possible – there were no body positions that seem possible at the moment, with this knee the way it is) and wait for a long time. How long? Which would take longer, walking or waiting for a ride? And what about Dave? We were supposed to meet at the massage parlor after the finish, and he’d be worried. Now I’m starting to think that DNFing would be worse than walking it in.

This is the miserable failure part of the story. I can’t even DNF!!

I’m getting closer to mile 21 and I try to run again. I CAN DO IT! It’s an extremely slow shuffle, and people are passing me like crazy, but I’m running! I get past the 21 mile marker, past aid stations, past the 22 mile marker, and I’m still running. Folks are still passing me, including a huge bunch attached to the 3:10 pace group. Along the way I take a couple gel’s. I had been thinking, what’s the point, but now I’m glad I did so. I’m actually picking up the pace. Now not so many people are passing me. Somewhere around mile 24, the 3:20 pace group is approaching from the rear. I take my last gel, and I say NO. No one else shall pass. My last 2 miles are 8:13 and 7:40 or so. I sprint it in, feeling like I am breaking 3 hours.

The clock says something like 3:18. Is this good or bad? Depends on my expectations, and they had been in a state of flux for the entire morning. Sub-3 hours to 3:05 to DNF to sub-4 hours to maybe 3:30 (when I had begun shuffling again).

I’ll have to take it. Beats the alternative. It was nice running a good part of the way with Dave. It was also good to see Lloyd and Dan F out there spectating.

Friday, October 13, 2006

today's run - 2006-10-13

The knee continues to improve, but it's still not 100%. Today I did 4 on the mill, including 3 in about 20:30, then 2 outside in the cold and wind. My weight is 153, so I guess all systems are go for Columbus.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

today's run - 2006-10-11

My knee is better still, but still not all the way better. Today's run on the mill was pretty good. It's always good to be able to do the 3-mile tempo @ 10 mph thing. Altogether 6 in 40. Weight's good at 154.

Monday, October 09, 2006

just 3 on the mill

that's it for today. but the knee is still improving slightly.

gonna be a busy work week.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Social Life and Today's Run

Sokoloski's and the Porgy and Bess play were a whole lot of fun. We saw all my cousins today for breakfast, and that was great fun too. It's all too much fun.

Today's run was a good one. I did the Substation 11 route in 80 minutes - a 3-minute PR, and just what I wanted. I only also wanted to run just a bit faster for the tempo portions, but I'll take the PR. One reason I haven't run faster on this and my other 11-mile course is that I usually reserve my hardest running for the track. And I'm afraid to hit the track with my knee the way it is.

The 'ole knee is still holding up, but I can still feel it. I think it's a wee bit better every day though.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Today's Run and This weekend

My knee mostly held up today as I did 13 on the Towpath with Dave and Amy. The weather was perfect: clear and cool, in the upper 30s to start, warmer at the finish. I tried to stay in the middle. From about a 9, down to about a 7:45 pace. It really didn't feel too bad, but I'm a bit concerned that the pace felt a bit tough. But it sure felt good to run again. And to do so mostly pain free.

Dave and Carol came over to eat, plan the Florida trip and watch a movie last night. They wound up staying over because it was late. Tonight it's Sokoloski's and Porgy and Bess with Iris, Mike, Linda and Bob. Tomorrow morning it's breakfast with my cousins at the holiday inn - Independence.

Wounded Knee Update

After some responses, here is another update:

I just want to thank everyone for all the fun-filled advice, thoughts and help. I did some self-diagnosis based on some web information and I think it's a torn meniscus. Ain't self diagnosis fun? Gotta love that web. I absolutely know that I can't be wrong about this.

Based on the diagnosis, I plan to continue with the weights for the leg extensions and curls. I think doing squats and lunges probably made the condition worse. My research jibes with what I've experienced in this area.

And yes, I'll run only easily, if at all, in the next few days. Probably only an hour and a half tomorrow. I'll keep it to under 40 miles, but probably much less next week. Columbus should be very interesting.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The History of Wounded Knee

I know the exact instant when my problems began. I had run 20 with Dave and Amy on Saturday (I think it was September 16), and then I did another 20 the next morning. This consecutive long run stuff had not been a problem last year when training for the Tahoe Triple. And I had done a double earlier in the month.

On this particular Sunday morning, I ran around a bit before heading to the track and doing 9 miles there at marathon pace. This was tough because MP is always tough for me, but there was a cold drizzle as well. I had just finished the track work and was headed home for the final 3 miles, still pushing the pace when it happened. A pull to the back of my right thigh, just above the back of my knee. Since it was a sudden pain, I stopped to stretch it out. My first thought was that it was a muscle pull. After stretching a bit, I thought it could be a cramp. The pain subsided a bit, and I ran home slower than planned.

That following week in Europe was not the best for running. Aware of the busy travel schedule, I had planned to take it easy anyway. I only got one good run in the whole week - 13 miles at MP on the hotel dreadmill. I don't think there was much pain that week; perhaps just a bit. The pain began in earnest the morning after that long plane ride home. I did run with Dave and Amy on that Saturday morning, but couldn't run at all the next day. Debbie and I walked at the Nature Center before breakfast with the Dead Runners.

The last week was spent in the Philadelphia area. I took some time off, but by mid-week I was feeling better, and managed to get a long run in. The pain was bad after this trip home as well. But I was able to limp through a few miles last Friday, and to get in a solid 22 on Sunday, with the last 6 at MP. This was good - I was feeling better and more confident! After an easy six on Sunday, I ran 11 hard miles on Monday, with 4+ at MP. For some reason, that's what did me in for the latest round o' pain. I did manage to get 10 painful miles with Dave on Tuesday, but it hurt the whole way. I'm even having trouble walking.

The pain had begun in the back of the knee, and it's still tight back there, but now most of the pain is in front. Most disconcerting of all is the knuckle-cracking type feeling. Whenever I move at all, something that shouldn't be moving so much is moving around in there. I've begun to think that this may be something really really bad, and that I should see a doctor. But then there's always, "giving it one more day to see how I'll feel then".

My remedies have so far included the following:

1) Taking many more days off per week than I'm used to. This has dropped my weekly mileage down about 30%, from around 70 MPW to about 50.
2) Restarting weight training. I had stopped a few weeks ago as part of my early tapering for the Columbus Marathon. Now I started back up with the thought that this will strengthen the muscles around the knee to assist in the cure. Don't laugh - I really think there's something to this.
3) Taking Glucosamine. I haven't taken the stuff for years, but I'm back on it now. It may help over a long period of time, but it hasn't seemed to have done so yet.

So now Columbus looms just over a week away. I hadn't planned on a taper that is this drastic. It seems I can run only on certain days, so I have no idea how I'll feel on race day. And what if the 'ole knee just blows out partway through?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-10-03

The usual 10 with Dave today in 84 minutes. The knee is still there - no change. Still 155 too.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-10-02

New PR for the New-Subs 11 course by 2 minutes - 80.5. I'm pleased, but I would've liked a sub 80. I'll take it though. And the weight (155) looks much better too.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Recent Running and the Funeral

Waylayed in Detroit on Wednesday night due to weather related missed connection. So I only ran 5 on Friday. Even so, my knee felt terrible. Saturday it was better, so I did 22 - the 16 mile Abbeyville loop in 2:08, then 2 3-mile president runs in 20:40 and 20:00. Pretty decent. Today I did 6 in 49 - not too bad. The ole knee is still there - it comes and goes.

Yesterday was the funeral for Carol's dad. We took mom and spent the day visiting. We all went to Longhorn in the evening.

I have no idea what I'm capable of for Columbus. At least now I think I can do it at all. At 159, I know I've GOT to lose 5 pounds. Debbie and I became serious about the diet as of today. I'm not sure how much to push the training with this knee the way it is. OTOH, some confidence would be nice. The 22 helped, but I need more.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Collegeville / Valley Forge

Yesterday I took another walk around Valley Forge. What a great park that is.

This morning I ran on the Perkiomen Trail again - this time for 7 miles. Sure is nice running here.

I guess the ole leg is almost 100%. Now I just have to lose all this extra "travelling" weight and get back into shape. Can I do this in 2 1/2 weeks?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

today's run 2006-09-26

The leg is almost 100% better! Very nice running in Pennsylvania. Most of last 10 on beautiful Perkiomen Trail. about 22 in 3:03.

Yesterday I explored beautiful Valley Forge N.P.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-09-23

That muscle cramp/pull from last Sunday started to really hurt last night after the long plane ride. I now think there's something wrong with this right knee. This caused a lousy run today - it hurt the whole way. I did manage 16 on the towpath with Dave and Amy. Don't know what to do now about my near future running plans. Columbus is in three weeks - I should be peaking now and then beginning my taper in a few days.

Running in Portugal

I didn’t run in Spain at all – I only had one full day there, and I didn’t want to travel at the end of it with sweaty-wet running clothes. It didn’t look like there were any good places to run in that part of Madrid anyway.

I did run outside once in Portugal, and then once inside. The outside run was only about 5 miles, was very slow, and was spent mostly being lost on cobblestone sidewalks. So although interesting, it was less than optimal.

The mill run was much better. I decided that I had better do something of substance, so I did something I hadn’t done in a while: 13 miles at MP. What made it tough was the warmth in the health club causing me to produce buckets of sweat. But I did it. With the warmup and cooldown (on the elliptical), I’m calling it 15 in 1:45. One problem though: my right knee/hamstring/calf are very tender now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dan in Iberia

It was the very second after they closed the door and announced that cell phones were to be shut off that I had my panic attack. It was Sunday night and I would arrive in Madrid on Monday morning. Yet I had made the hotel reservation for Sunday night, checking out on Tuesday. I really had only needed one night (Monday), and I was worried that they would cancel my whole reservation when I failed to show up on Sunday. I snuck my phone out and clandestinely called Debbie, leaving her a message to contact the hotel. She did, and all was ok there on Monday morning. Very very modern hotel with thin tv, fancy lighting, computer and spray-all-over shower.

The second panic attack occurred while I was unpacking. I forgot my electrical adapter! This could be very bad - I only have a couple hours of battery life in my laptop and would need far more than that. I asked at the hotel lobby where I could get one, and they suggested a long walk to a Best Buy type store. No luck. The store guy suggested this shopping mall. More long walking, still no luck. Finally, back at the hotel, they arranged for a cab to get me to a large kmart type store (Hipercor), where I finally did get my adapter. There is tons of construction in this new part of Madrid.

Now that most of the day was gone, I had little time for sightseeing. I learned to take a bus and two subway trains to get to the city center. It was pretty neat down there with lots of shopping and restaurants. I didn't really get to see much that was historic or cultural however; just typical European city life. Unlike other parts of Europe, relatively few Spaniards speak English. This provides many cultural experiences in and of itself.

There were no major problems with work, and I made it from Madrid to Lisbon with no major mishaps. Except of course for the problem of using ATMs. I tried 5 different machines in Madrid before they put me on the fraud list and called Debbie to tell on me. They were not allowing the transactions in the first place because Spain is a fraud nightmare for them. Debbie straightened them out. There were also some connectivity problems that kept me up on Tuesday night.

I spent the day on Wednesday doing a full day tour of Lisbon and the surrounding area. Portugal is really beautiful, and there is certainly more to see. Today I saw recreations of: the Golden Gate Bridge (the Portuguese version is called the “Bridge 25th of April”), the Rio De Janeiro statue of Christ, and the palace of Versailles. All were actually pretty impressive, generally built by the same folks who built the originals. There was lots more as well.

· The famous Tower of Belem: a castle on the river to guard the city. It’s sort of symbolic of Portugal.
· The modern monument dedicated to Portuguese maritime discoveries. The name says it all.
· Mosteiro dos Jeronimos: a famous old monastery and cathedral in Belem, and an excellent example of Manueline architecture. I’m not sure I can describe this style, but I may know it now when I see it. Of course it only exists on Portugal.
· The Coach Museum. The Portuguese are justifiably proud to have the finest coach museum in the world. Don’t ever settle for one of those lesser coach museums; this one is truly the best. By the way, it’s coach as in a buggy pulled by horses, not a sports team chief.
· Port wine tasting (a tablespoon) and a taste of Belem pastry – pudding in a puff pastry shell. Yum.
· A walk through the Alfama barrio. It’s a neighborhood that’s famous for its narrow streets and alleys.
After a very long walk to the hotel and back again during lunch, I continued on, and saw:
· The palace of Queluz. It’s the Versailles of Portugal. I kept wondering if they call the building in the Paris area the “Queluz of France”. This one really was very impressive as well, though. Even the gardens reminded me of the real thing.
· The town of Sintra. It’s a medieval town in the hills. It’s very picturesque, but I didn’t do so well with my photos there. I couldn’t even find the palace on the hill. But it was a neat place anyway.
· A couple stops along the Atlantic coast, one to see the ocean battering some rocks and the other to the town of Estoril, where there is some tourist activity and a casino.

That’s about it. Did I mention that it was a “full” day?

My day of work in Lisbon was busy, but I made it through. The client office is in a set of ultra-modern buildings in a different part of Lisbon. More to see if I ever come back.

Here’s hoping that I do.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

today's run - 2006-09-17

Another 20 after yesterday's 21, and it was a good one. 2 baths and some ibu yesterday helped in the recovery.

After 4 in the hood and 4 to get there, I found myself at the track. Could I manage the last 12 at MP? I did 8 there, and then one more on the way home at MP, but then a leg cramp caused me to stop and stretch. I slowed way down for the last 3. 9 at MP is still very good.

Weight down from 163 to 158, but a long way to go. Good running though.

Now it's off to Europe again.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

test, conference and recent running

I passed!

The rest of the conference was pretty dull. Except for the last meeting when we raised some ire by trying to hold the rules change. THAT was fun. We also had our all day meeting and I ate way too much of the wrong foods at the wrong times.

Wednesday I did 12 on the mill with 8 x 1200 all at 4:30, but at 0% elevation. Just HAD to get faster. On Thursday I did manage to run a 3-miler on the mill all at 6mpm. First time for that in a long long time. Today I ran about 21 on the towpath with Dave and Amy in 3 hours.

Tomorrow it's off to Spain and Portugal.

Monday, September 11, 2006

lots going on - no time to write

Well, not much, anyway.

Saturday I ran the Potato Stomp 9-mile in 57:50. One of my best runs of the year. It was warm, and the hills made it tough. But I ran really well, powering by some folks in the latter miles, but passed twice in the final mile (which was my best anyway). Just about 40 minute 10K and 60 minute 15K pace - 6:25 per mile. 1st in AG too.

Then I flew to San Diego. Sunday morning I got up early and did about 19 extremely slow, tired miles around Mission Bay. Most of it was nice and scenic, though still fairly dark with a nice sunrise. Don't like the concrete paths though. I followed that up with the CSMS exam prep class by Pam and then dinner with the QP group.

Today I ran about 18 around Mission Bay, but also along Mission Beach as well. More interesting running, more slowness, more concrete. Then came the exam. It was tough. I managed to finish just in time. Don't know how I did - will find out tomorrow, I think. I also drove up to La Jolla and took a brief walk up there. Nice shoreline - maybe someplace to come back to.

The next three days are scheduled for Vodafone counts and a few IFPUG and QP functions.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-09-07

I woke up extremely tired today, so I stayed on the mill. Not a great 8 miles there - too much holding on. At least the weight's back to 154.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Europe and Today's Run

Looks like I'm going to Europe again soon - last 2 weeks in Sept - 2 weeks from now.

Today's run was slower than some, but I was happy to get something of substance in after yesterday's 20 and Monday's race. I did 4 x 800 in 2:56 and 4 x 200 in 36. I'll take it. Hope I can get faster though. Gonna hafta really watch meself with all this upcoming travel.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another long run

It happened once again. I awoke at 2:30, tried to get back asleep, but when it didn't happen by 3, out of bed I came, and over to Dave's for an extra 10. I was uncertain how I'd get my mileage in in the next couple weeks anyway with my work schedule the way it is.

It wasn't a bad run, considering yesterday's race: 2:43 and change. It did feel faster though. And I gained 3 pounds. Very important that I work on that!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Alliance Rotary Castle 10K

Today's race was a bit of a disappointment because I had high expectations, and they weren't met. I managed to break 40 minutes (always a good thing), but only by 4 seconds. Was 2nd in AG by 3 seconds. I've got to get to the point where I'm improving here.

Took a gu at 3.5. I felt lousy, but did pick it up at that point.

Wedding and Other Stuff

Went to Nicholas and Alice Rericha's wedding. Had a really wonderful time mixing with all the cousins. Lots of fun. Upon returning with Dave and Carol yesterday, we went to the Hungarian Soout Festival. Mostly to eat, but we had a bit of fun there too - saw my parents' old friends Bill and Nancy Gelliart.

Debbie worked out some stuff for Valerie's wedding with Val today. Heading over to Kathy and Mike's now.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Today's Run

Dave and Carol are here and we're about to head to Dayton for the wedding.

Great long run today - listen to these 10-mile splits: 84, 68. Last 10 were all at MP!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-08-31

I did 2 to get the paper, then read and had some coffee with Greg. When he went off I did the presidents 3 in a decent 22.5 minutes. Gotta get to work now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Today's Run and other stuff

Talked to Val last night. Plan is to have the wedding in Chicago and invite immediate family from here. Then have a "party to celebrate the marriage" here. Details to follow.

Greg and Dot are coming to visit today. Debbie is getting the house ready. Then Dave and Carol are coming on Friday in order to get to Dayton on Saturday.

Today's speedwork was good but not great. I was hoping to get all the 1600s under 6:20. The last 2 were good (after a goo) though. 6:18, 19, 20, 20, 17, 21, 16, 14. Average: 6:18. Still warm these mornings (67).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-08-29

I did 2 on the mill in 15 minutes before heading over to Dave's. So far, so good.

Then we did the usual 10-mile loop and I felt really lousy. It was probably because of yesterday's speedwork and weights, as well as today's rain, fog and humidity. 83.5 minutes. Hope to be back with it tomorrow.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-08-28

A pretty good one today. Warm (70) and humid. Got over to the track and did 4 x 800 in 2:54, and then 4 x 200 in 35. Buckets o sweat once again.

Last night Jessy, Kathy, Debbie and I drove to the old neighborhoods to scope them out. Walked around a Slavic Village festival a bit too. Interesting evening.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cat Show and Today's Run

Went to the cat show with Amy, Brett, Dave and Jill yesterday. Had fun there, and then at dinner at Fiesta Jalepeno's.

Veronica stopped by for dinner on her way back from Michigan.

I did 10 on the mill today - was so tired, I didn't think I could get going outside at all. It was raining anyway. Buckets of sweat. But I managed to do a decent workout, with 2 3-mile tempos. Did the 10 in 72 minutes. Some holding on.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-08-26

Another oppressive day (70's, extremely humid), but Dave and I finished strong on the towpath for this long run. We also did the Old Carriage Trail earlier with Amy. I did 21 miles in 2:46, with the last five at MP. Very solid running.

Going to a cat show this afternoon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Veronica's Visit and Today's Run

Veronica stopped to stay the night on her way to visit Michigan friends. We went to Sandy and Nancy's to say happy 50th to Sandy. We also reserved the banquet hall for the wedding and also visited Kathy, Mike and Jessy.

Today's running was ok - I did the across 303 3-mile loop twice - once in 24 and the other in 20 minutes. Was tired, but good to be able to do that sub-7 pace.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-08-23

For the second night in a row, I didn't sleep well at all. So with that, and with yesterday's long run, I was feeling mightily out of it today. But I somehow managed to stumble out the door and dizzily get 10 miles in - over to the track, 5 x 800, and then back, in a fairly respectable 81 minutes. The 800s were actually pretty decent: 2:59, 54, 55, 57, 56 for an average of 2:56.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Whale and Today's Run

Debbie and I unloaded the Whale yesterday. It was sad after 15 years. We took it to Cleveland Auto Clinic which is associated with a charity - the car will (hopefully) be fixed and then given to a single mother in need. I'm told that with this scenario, I can claim the blue book value for taxes.

The trip to Broadway and Harvard was an interesting journey down memory lane for Debbie and me. Holy Name church and elementary school are still there, but other areas were run down.

I went to bed with the attitude: "If I happen to wake up early, I'll do an extra 10 before Dave comes out." (This has happened before...) So of course I awoke at 2, got up by 3, and was running the first loop of Dave's neighborhood at 4. I done pretty good - 74 for the first 10, and 82 for the second 10 with Dave. Decent but not the greatest.

OTOH, I do think I'm getting to be in really good shape. I reserved a room for Columbus in October. But I'm still keeping the Towpath open.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Perfect 10-Miler

Expectations were not extremely high going in. I've had some good races this year, including a solid sub-40 10K last week, but I just wasn't feeling "fast" today. The humidity didn't help. Besides that heavy, thick air, it was breezy, cloudy, and about 70 degrees.

This is the third year of this race, and I'd done the previous two in 66 1/2 and 67 1/2 minutes, respectively. IF I could hold a 6:30 pace, I'd be able to shave some time off those other marks. But that would be a BIG IF.

I started off fairly easily, with 6:33 and 6:01 for the first two miles. I'm certain that that second one was short because, if anything, I slowed a bit during that stretch. Then I got into a rhythm, with 6:20, 6:21 and 6:44 miles to reach the half-way point in 32 flat. This was much better than expected, but a bit worrisome - could I hold this pace?

Having remembered that mile 6 is up a long, gradual hill (Belvoir Blvd), I didn't panic when I saw a split of 6:50. Mile 7 is back down the other side of the Blvd., and I picked it up quite nicely, picking off a few runners in the process. Thinking this split would be something like 6 minutes flat, I was slightly disappointed to see a 6:19. Perhaps it was long. Mile 8 included some more slight downhill running, and I did that in 6:14. I was getting pretty tired, but trying hard to hold my pace. Mile 9 was a 6:38, and the overall time was 58 minutes. Still not bad, but I'd have to run that last mile in 6 flat in order to be able to say I had negative splits. I tried to pick it up, but had reservations about whether I really did.

I crossed the line in 1:03:51. That last mile was a 5:48, the best of the bunch. Of course it was probably short, but I like to think that the overall course was an accurate 10 miles.

Unfortunately, some fast(er) geezer showed up, relegating me to second in my age group. I'm still very encouraged. It was my 3rd best 10-miler ever, although over a minute slower than my best ever. It's still my best in 10 years.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-08-19

Dave, Amy and I did 11+ miles on the towpath in the rain and mud. It was actually pretty nice, although sloppy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Certified Measurement Specialist and Today's Run

Since I'm taking the Certified Measurement Specialist exam in September, I thought I'd better begin studying. The only study material appears to be the manual upon which the test is based: Guidelines to Software Measurement. I believe the best way to study is to take sample exam questions, but since there aren't any, I've started making them up. That's where I've been spending my time lately - other than visiting Mom yesterday.

Still working out wedding plans with Valerie..

I caught a cold - something to do with running the 24 on Wednesday and the trip to Michigan and all. Taking Zicam, and I think it's working; I feel better today so far.

I just ran 6 on the mill today, trying to take it easy. I did manage to do 4 of them at marathon pace, but I wound up holding on for some of that.

Going to see the Boston Pops with Iris tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Vibe and Recent Running

In order to get the best price on a Pontiac Vibe, we found ourselves driving to Grand Rapids, MI to get it. Everything turned out as expected (and it's a nice car), so we then found ourselves driving over to Greg and Dot's for a visit and sleepover on the way back. Had a nice visitation.

Prior to the trip I ran a good interval session - 8 x 1600, averaging 6:19. A very solid run indeed. I took yesterday off, and then did the Lester Rail Trail 24 course this morning in 3:05:30, with the last 5 at MP. Another solid run, and one of my best long runs in a long long time.

Now I gotta study for that Measurement Specialist Certification exam.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

today's run and walk and tomorrow's drive

I did a few miles in the hood, and then drove to BVH to run with Dave. We did about 14 miles of trails along the parkway and into Brecksville Res. Very very nice running. The weather's been great lately.

Debbie and I walked at Hinckley and ran into (of all people), Kathy, Mike and Star. So we all walked together for a spell. Nice day for it.

Tomorrow we drive to Grand Rapids to get the car. And then we'll head over to visit with Dot and Greg.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Green YMCA Carribbean 10K

I had been wondering, but found out what was Carribbean about this race - a door prize of a Carribbean cruise for two. I didn't win. But I did run well. The 10K was two 5K loops. The weather was really great - 50s and 60s and crystal clear. The first 5K loop was a bit crowded because of the 5K runners. I did it in 19:48 and felt fine. Would I be able to continue? It suddenly became a lot more lonely for the 2nd go around. I tried to maintain that same pace. I guess I managed, because that time was also 19:48. Altogether I did the 10K in a very solid 39:37. I'm extremely pleased with that.

I think I may have been in 9th place. 1st in my AG. A good day's work.

Friday, August 11, 2006

car and other stuff

Had a very rough time getting our "refundable" deposit on the Prius back. Now we're buying a Pontiac Vibe in Grand Rapids for $8,000 less. Big difference. The Vibe will be much better than most cars on gas, but of course not close to the Prius. Monday should be interesting.

In order to buy this car we joined Costco.

Also working with Val on the wedding. We're having some diffuculties agreeing on things... Trying to work them out.

Today's Run - 2006-08-11

OK running today - 2 on the mill, then 9 on the roads and over to the track. Only 4 x 200 at the track, averaging 37. The run back was slow going.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

58 Degrees

O how I've yearned to have a day like this. It's been months, and today it happened; the temperature actually dipped below 60!

Yes, I made the most of it. I went to the track, took off my shirt and actually felt cold! What a sensation. Then I started my 3 x (1600, 1200, 800) workout. Things went swimmingly - I was running much better than I have in a long long time. That is until the football team showed up. Then there were too many people around and I had to cut the workout a bit short. Got through two sets and finished with one more 800. Still a great workout. I'm sure I coulda finished the other two repeats just fine. As it was I did two more miles on the road to cool down for 10 in 75.

Here are the repeats: 6:22, 4:44, 2:55, 6:19, 4:40, 2:55, 2:55 I'm happy that the 800s were so fast - that's where I was trying the hardest to concentrate.

I only hope this great weather continues.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

today's long run

I woke up early so I did my long run today. It was just a bit cooler (about 70) and I ran well. 4Mi splits: 32:15, 33:10, 31:34, 32:19, 27:24, for a 2:36:45. Pretty solid. Decent finish too - last 4 just under MP.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Today's Running - 2006-08-07

Today is 08-07-06.

Didn't feel well after all the traveling, and then I was hit by the heat - about 78-80 at 5am. But I ran well - 8 in 60 min, including a 3-mile tempo. After a short break, I went back out and did 3 more, again at tempo pace.

At lunch time I did yet another 3-mile tempo run on the mill.

Not a bad day of running at all.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Chicago trip and Recent Running

On Friday I did 2 on the mill before working, meeting with the financial planner and then driving to Chicago. The good news was the weight: back down to 154!

The trip itself was really hot and nasty. We were taking the Cavalier to give to Val and Dan, and with no AC, it was pretty rough. I was in the sun the whole way. Then we hit the traffic jams in Indiana and of course in Chicago. That made it really miserable. So happy to finally stop once we arrived.

Had a great weekend whilst there - saw King Tut and other stuff at the Field Museum, saw "Little Miss Sunshine", a great movie. Some nice dinners too, except for the service at one joint.

The great news is that they're engaged. The event will be next year, and once again, Debbie will be the planner.

Saturday morning I ran along the Chicago lakeshore. I didn't enjoy this aquite s much as I thought I would, probably because I was struggling so much. I was extremely tired and sore and was very dizzy. Even had to stop a bit. It was fairly warm too.

We took Megabus home. An interesting experience. Although we were late getting started, and also probably spent too much time at a lunch stop, Debbie and I were still enjoying the trip a great deal - especially compared to the outbound trip. It was comfortable and we could relax. Then the Megabus broke down on the side of the turnpike. We were there on the berm for about 45 minutes and in the process of arranging for Kathy to pick us up there (about 50 minutes out of Cleveland) when the driver suddenly did get it going again. We made it, but were almost 2 hours late.

Even with the troubles, I'd still recommend Megabus, and will take it again if necessary. The price is good and it's so nice to not have to drive and worry about traffic.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Today's Death March

The plan had been to do the 20 yesterday, run easy today, and then try for another 20 on Friday. But then I woke up early again today and decided, why not bang out the 20 while I'm up? Bad Idea. Especially when it's 80F at 4AM, and I was still beat up from yesterday.

The first 4 down Substation were ok, but then it started getting ugly. Struggling back after those first 8, I decided that instead of going back down Substation for the second 8 like yesterday, I would head over to the track to get myself back on track, so to speak. I thought maybe I could make up for some of these slow miles by getting down to MP for 3 or 4 miles.

Didn't happen. I was lucky to do the 4 on the track in 33 minutes - that was my speedwork for the day. Getting back from the track was a real struggle.

4-mile splits: 32:11, 33:09, 36:17 (to the track), 33:00 (on the track), 36:02 (back)
Final time was 2:50:30.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Today's Run - 2006-08-02

Woke up early, so I decided to get a long run in despite the heat. I got in a solid 20 (the 2 loops on Substation and last 4 on president streets route), despite the ridiculous 79F and humid weather. Here are the 4-mile splits: 32:43, 32:14, 31:47, 32:09, 31:19.

With all these buckets o sweat and starting back on the WW diet, you'd think I'd be a skinnie minnie, but at 157 I still have a ways to go.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Other life stuff, and today's run

Had the cookout with the family the other day. Watched a couple movies too. Debbie took Mom to the dentist yesterday. It's getting tougher to take care of her, and she does need more and more care.

Debbie and I are trying to plan a trip to Hawaii for the end of January. It's tougher this time around - we got the air to HNL, but may have to pay for interisland. It's also tougher to get the hotels using the points - they all seem to want me to pay for upgrades.

This weather is truly awful. Supposed to be 95 today. I ran the usual 10 with Dave, and then walked with Debbie and almost passed out.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Today's Running - 2006-07-31

I only had a bit of time before my early count, so I just did 3 on the mill. Then I did 3 more on the roads during my lunch break, after mowing. BOY WAS IT HOT! I can't wait for this heat to be over.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Canton Football HOF 5-Mile

It was worse than hot. It was stifling. But this was in the series, so I needed to get another one of these in. I started easy for a change, and (also for a change) didn't slow down. I'm actually pleased with myself for just getting through it at a steady pace. Here are the splits: 6:48, 28, 39, 39, 34. I finished in 33:10, good for 2nd or 3rd (not sure which) in my ag. Not bad for such a huge race. Talked with Al King and Dan Clapper from SC.

Running the Week after returning from Europe

Here is a log of my running in the week after returning from Europe.

7/23/06
Day after my return from Europe – I wanted to run long, but I didn’t know how I’d sleep or how I’d run. I slept well, and ran very well. I knew I wanted to get some speedwork done during the week, but not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d combine it with my long run as I’ve done only a few times in years past. But there I found myself at the Brunswick track, doing 8 x 1600.

Not the fastest 1600’s but they were consistent, and they were part of a long run. 5 miles over there, then the 1600s – 6:37, 34, 31, 37, 41, 30, 32, 30 for an average of 6:34. Then a mile cooldown and then 4 back. So it was 20 in 2:35. Not bad at all.

7/24/06
I just did 3 on the mill – had early calls and that’s all I had time for.

7/25/06
I started out with 3 on the mill, and then drove over to run with Dave. Amy wasn’t in town, so we did our 10-mile loop. It was very warm (probably low 70s) and humid, so we took it very slow, especially in the early miles. 85 minutes.

7/26/06
I weighed in at 159 today – 8 lbs higher than my lowest point. But I had a good run. Despite very sore legs (don’t know why…) I did my Substation loop in 86:30, which included a tempo run of 4 in 27 minutes. Pretty good going. It was warm and humid too. That fast running did manage to take it’s toll in the second half – I slowed way down. But overall, it was a very good one.

7/27/06
I wanted to get my 10k (20 x 400) workout in, but I knew it would be tough. It was in the 70s and the humidity was awful. Is it better to complete a bad workout, or to call it quits and run hard another day? I usually try for the former, as I did this day. I did manage to get through this workout, but it wasn’t pretty at all. I ran to the Brunswick track and back on 303. Struggled a lot on the way back. The workout itself? The humidity really took it's toll. I really had a rough time. Here are the times: 89(40), 92(36), 93(41), 90(43), 91(48), 91(48), 90(49), 94(55), 91(42), 96(48), 92(47), 93(46), 94(54), 94(49), 95(49), 100(43), 92(47), 95(43), 90(46), 87(23). Average was 92. I’ll be happy when this heat is over.

7/29/06
It was extremely warm and humid for our Saturday run, and Dave, Amy and I just wanted to take it slow. So take it slow we did – about 9 minutes per mile for about 15 miles on the ole towpath. Lots of other runners out this day enjoying the stifling heat and humility.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Running in Central Europe

Budapest

Sunday, 07/09/06
Having explored it yesterday during a walk, I decided to run over to Margaret Island. Margaret Island is a large teardrop shaped piece of land in the middle of the Danube, Bridges connect it to both the Buda and Pest sides of the river. Although it is north of the hotel, I went south and then over the Elizabeth Bridge in order to run on the west / Buda side of the river, where there's a better running path.

After about 2.75 miles (24 minutes), I reached the island. It has a rubberized track around the perimeter. It's nice and soft – if anything, it’s too soft. But I’ll say it’s excellent running. I did two circuits of 3+ miles each in 24:50 and 23:45. I got home in another 22 minutes, so I'll call it a very long 12 miles in 94 minutes.

It was getting warm, and I pushed hard for it, but what a nice run!

Monday, 07/10/06
I decided that I should run towards the Vodafone office to make sure I knew where to walk to for work. It’s south, also here on the Pest side. I found it about 2 miles down. I went a bit past it, and then did a lot of back and forth running to determine the best path. I found some decent streets for walking, but there are some not-so-nice areas as well. Monday morning trash pickup was in full swing, so I had a fragrant run. Pretty slow going too – I’ll call it 10 in 85 minutes. Back to Margaret Island tomorrow.

Tuesday, 07/11/06
I did the same exact route as Sunday. It was only a degree or so cooler – about 70F or a bit above that, but I somehow managed to do it a minute and a half faster. To the island – 23:00, two loops on the island - 24:48, 23:18, then 21:14 back home. Tough, intense running. It’ll be interesting to see how well I can run when I get back.

Wednesday, 07/12/06
OK, last time for this route on this trip. Same one: Elizabeth Bridge, Buda side north, twice around Margaret Island, and back the same way. It was very warm once again, probably low 70s. It felt like I was running faster, but it came out about the same as yesterday: 92:30 for the long 12 miles. To the island – 23:13, two loops on the island – 25:10, 23:41, then 20:30 back home.

Prague

Friday, 07/14/06
Now in Prague, I took an exploratory run over to, and along the Vltava, known in English as the Moldau. Just made it to the central city, within sight of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle before turning back. Call it 5 in 44.5.

Saturday, 07/15/06
What a run! Lost in Prague – what could be better? Haven’t been this lost in years. And I enjoyed every minute. Finally fell though – during that last mile. It was bound to happen after all those cobblestones. Call it 19 in 2:40. Good pace at first, then slowed.

Sunday, 07/16/06
Yet another extremely interesting run in Prague. Lost again. This time I went straight north, through Letenske Park, to Stromovska Park. I kept thinking it was Stromboli Park. Very good running in that park, but I got lost again. I ended up running along a canal and a river even further to the north. Headed back to the hotel and then out again with the camera to take some early morning pictures of Prague. Altogether 2:56 – call it 20.

Bucharest

Wednesday, 07/19/06
After two days off due to international travel, I just had to get out. I did two laps around the Palace of Parliament, one of the biggest buildings in the world. Each was about 2 miles – 15:14 and 14:20. Then I ran to, and around an adjacent park for 2 1-mile laps there – 8:56 and 7:30. Altogether 8 in 64. These routes are ok, and I avoid traffic, but I don’t like the pollution here.

For once I had some free time in the afternoon, so I went down to the hotel dreadmill and did some more. Set it at 0% incline and at 15km per hour, and did 8km, close to 5 miles in 32 minutes. Without the incline it felt easy, even though it was warm in there.

Thursday, 07/20/06
I started slowly today – my legs were a bit stiff from yesterday afternoon’s run. I ran around the neighborhood a bit, but then started doing loops around the palace again. As I hit the second loop, I started going much faster. This despite the fact that it was warmer (probably 70s) and that I was running on grass. My three loop times were: 15:33, 13:22, 13:14. Those latter two were much faster than yesterday. Altogether I’ll call it 8 in 63.

Friday, 07/21/06
I found myself running along the canal that bisects the city of Bucharest, and it wasn’t bad running at all. There was traffic along side me the whole way, but relatively few places where I had to cross over an intersection. I headed west for quite a ways and then back. I also went around the palace, and kept going, stumbling my way into the city center. It was fairly interesting as well, so I went back to get the camera in order to take a few pictures. Got one more of the palace, and some of me running in the park as well. Altogether 12 in 1:42.

I did 5 more on the hotel dreadmill in the afternoon. Same workout as Wednesday – 8km at 15km per hour. A bit tougher this time, but no holding on!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Dan in Central Europe

Check out the pictures at:

My Budapest Pics

My Prague Pics

My Bucharest Pics


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Budapest
There was the usual confusion and disorientation that occurs when one travels overnight. This resulted in me almost missing my connection from Amsterdam to Budapest after I stood for too long in the wrong line for a boarding pass. But I made it to my very nice hotel room overlooking the Danube.

The Danube, by the way, isn’t entirely blue. It’s more of a slate gray. Also from my window I can see Castle Hill, including the Royal Palace, the famous Chain Bridge, part of Gelert Hill, and other parts of Buda. Hilly Buda is on the west side of the river, while flat Pest, where I’m located, is on the east. I can remember this because of a trick that Debbie told to me. Buda-Pest reads the way it does on a map: Buda on the left and Pest on the right, with the north-south Danube in between.

Debbie and I had fun trying to communicate with each other for free over the internet, using Skype. We’ve still got some kinks to work out, but we did manage to talk.

My work schedule appears to be very busy; I don’t think I’ll have very much time for sightseeing other than a few hours on Saturday and all day Sunday. As an effort towards making the most of this, I took a long 2+ hour walk to see the sights. I started by walking across the famous 1840’s era Chain Bridge, which had entertainment and other outdoor festivities at both ends. Heading north along the river, I had a great view of the Parliament Building, famous for its gothic style. I also went onto Margaret Island, a large island in the Danube, connected to both banks by a bridge. There’s a running track all the way around the island, so I’ll be spending at least a few of my mornings there.

For my morning run I managed to get back to Margaret Island where I did two circuits. The nice soft rubberized track is there for almost the entire circumference, which is a bit more than 3 miles. It’s a few miles to get there and back, and it was getting warm, but what a nice run it was.

My all-day Sunday sightseeing began with a walk across the Elizabeth Bridge and then up, up, up Gellert Hill. There are many paths, but they all seem to lead to the top, and they’re all steep. At the top is the Citadella, or Citadel, a fortress built during the 1848-1849 War of Independence. Also at the top is the Liberation Monument, a statue commemorating liberation from the Soviets. Budapest abounds in statues; there are probably more of them than people here. I’m mostly just kidding, but this one is queen of them all. You can see her from everywhere in the city and she’s huge. The views from the citadel are also the best around. I explored a bit, and then headed down the opposite side.

At the base of the hill on that opposite side is the Gellert Hotel, which includes a spa and famous baths. Although it was very hot, and I could have used one, I wasn’t sure of the clothing requirements, and therefore didn’t partake. I did see the outdoor pools, where bathing suits were, I noticed, indeed required.

I then walked around Gellert Hill and over to, and up Castle Hill. Did I mention that it was hot? This was about the time that Debbie would start calling it a Death March. I somehow managed to stay vertical, and spent a few hours exploring the shops and architecture at the top. There are all sorts of churches and museums. I certainly could have spent more time there, but it was time to go over to see the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace, aka Buda Castle, is very impressive. It was partially destroyed during World War II, but has been mostly restored. It’s humongous – took me a whole week to walk around the dang thing.

Budapest is an incredibly beautiful city. It’s almost hard to believe that my father’s family is from here, with some possibly still around. “Your name is Hungarian, no?” Every group I met with had at least one person ask me about my background. They all seemed interested to hear about my family. I only wish I could have told them more.

I did get to try some traditional Hungarian foods: Chicken Paprikas (not too different than Debbie’s, except maybe a bit spicier), Goulash, and of course lots of bakery.

Work was even busier than I had expected, so there would be no more sightseeing in Budapest. I did manage to spend the second to last evening at the Spoon Café, which is a boat more or less permanently moored in the Danube. Two of my clients, Gabor Barta and Krisztian Molnar took me there. It was a beautiful setting as the sun set in the Buda hills and the Buda Castle and Chain Bridge lights came on as darkness enveloped us. Pretty good Hungarian food there too.

Somehow I couldn’t help but notice: the Hungarian women I worked with were extremely beautiful. Since Debbie may read this, I’ll try not to notice such things in Prague. Yes, Budapest was great – I only wish I had had more time there. Now on to Prague.



Prague
Work has been so busy that as of my first couple of days, I haven’t seen much of Prague at all. I did get to see some of it during the rides to and from work, and on my morning run. But not much. This weekend will be different; I plan to see a lot.

I did have an interesting cultural experience. Public transportation is always a cultural experience for me, and Prague turns out to be no different. While I was able to walk, albeit a long walk, to work in Budapest, it’s much too far to walk in Prague. Taxis are a bit of a pain too, so I resolved to take the tram, which is a slow rapid transit type of thing. After asking a bazillion questions (where do I catch it, which one, what direction, how do I buy a ticket, how do I stamp it, etc), I somehow got everything right (at least the first time) and got to work ok.

I FINALLY got caught up with work, just in time for the weekend. Czech this out: I worked with Ludvik Cermak (from Pilsen by the way, and he pronounced it, “Chermock”), I’ve been eating livance, bread dumplings with roast duck and cabbage, bread dumplings with weiner schnitzel and stew, and so on. Didn’t like that pun about czeching it out? OK – no more. I should note, however, that in the news here, there was a Czech Scientist and an American Scientist studying bears in Alaska. A whole family of bears came upon them and ate them completely up. Authorities tracked the bears down and killed them. Then they opened up the female bear up, and found the American still alive inside. Of course he said, “The Czech’s in the male.” Sorry, I lied about the puns.

It was bound to happen. After about 19 miles of being mostly lost and running on mostly cobblestone streets and sidewalks, I was in my final mile nearing the hotel, and crash! Yes, I tripped on a cobblestone. No, I didn’t hurt myself – I landed mostly on my hands. My biggest concern was whether anyone saw me. As I was running, I couldn’t help but observe that whereas Budapest seemed to have more statues than people, Prague seems to have more castles than people.

Some musical pieces seem to describe places very well: think of Appalachian Spring by Copland, the New World Symphony by Dvorak and the Hungarian Dances by Brahms. But none are better than the Moldau by Smetana. When I hear this music, I can feel in my bones that I’m in Prague. Each time I turn on the TV here, that music is playing as part of the hotel channel, which is just an ad for the establishment here. But I always let it play for a while – I never tire of it, and it really gets me in that “Pragean” mood.

Moldau, by the way, is the English/German way of saying the name of the river that runs through Prague. The Czechs call it Vltava. I can’t for the life of me figure out how they get from an English word from these Czech spellings. Wenceslas Square is Vaclavske Namesti, Charles Bridge is Karluv Most, and of course Old Town Square is Staromestske Namesti. Either Czechs can’t spell, or we can’t pronounce these places. Maybe both.

One would hope that with place names such as those, that at least street signs would be helpful. They are, unfortunately, non-existent. And, according to Czech law, there aren’t any streets at all that go straight. I think I saw some tourists that were still lost from the 12th century. I myself got as lost as I’ve been for many years during this morning’s run. But I couldn’t think of any better place on the planet to be lost in.

Yes, Prague is simply not believable. It’s castle upon castle. Almost any one of the buildings here would be a fantastic historical sight in and of it’s own. And there are THOUSANDS of them. Each one is unique in character, history and beauty.

After my run in which I saw a whole lot of Prague, I saw a whole lot of it again by taking a city tour. It was pretty good, but I probably could have managed on my own too. We drove through New Town (new being relative here – it was built in the 14th century) and through some other parts, and then walked around Prague Castle and the Castle District, the Lesser Town District, the Charles Bridge, and finally Old Town, including Old Town Square. During the tour, I heard a lot about Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic. I mentioned to the guide that I had attended St. Wenceslas School and church. “Oh”, she said. (Not really – she was actually very interested.)

After resting up, I decided to walk over to Wenceslas Square in New Town, since I had only seen that by bus. The statue of Wenceslas is one of the most imposing I’ve seen anywhere – except maybe the Statue of Liberty, and perhaps Budapest’s Liberation Monument. But the setting here is really great.

I also walked over to Charles Square, and then over to the Charles Bridge and back again through Old Town.

I said I wouldn’t notice the Czech women. But I lied about this too. They are beautiful as well, and - let me put this as delicately as possible – they all have those big boobs. It took a while, but a few days later I was thinking about this statement when the irony hit me like a falling piano. Here I was, a wild and crazy guy from America looking at those big Czech breasts.

For my second long run in two consecutive days I pulled the “get lost in Prague” trick again. At least I didn’t trip on a cobblestone this time. I found my way north, up through Letenske Park, where I ran yesterday, and into Stromovska Park. It’s a woodsy place, but there’s also a canal and another river running through. Lots of good running there.

Having spent a day exploring Prague, I had it figured that I’d seen it all and had booked a trip to a castle outside of town, somewhere in the hills of Bohemia. Sounded good until the morning, when I started thinking that I’d had enough of tours; I’d be fine with exploring inside of Prague on my own some more. So I canceled. There had to be at least a couple more things to see.

After about an hour of walking (mostly up), I arrived at Prague Castle once again. I felt there was more to see, and I had an unused ticket for a climb to the top of St. Vitas Cathedral, all 300 to 400 stairs or whatever. The cathedral wasn’t open, so I had some time to kill. I walked up some more to Strahovsky Klaster, a monastery up in the hills. They have a famous old library, and the inside of the church looks almost like the Sistine chapel. No photography, of course.

After some further exploration of the Hrdcany, or Castle District (there’s that Czech spelling again), I squeezed my way between the throngs of people, and into St. Vitas for the climb up the tower. I pulled out my ticket and realized it was the wrong one – it was a used one from something else from yesterday. Yes, I could’ve bought one, but when I thought about it, I determined that it just wasn’t to be.

Bucharest

I’ve learned that it’s not pronounced “boo-ka-rest” as I thought, it’s really “bew-ka-rest”. Keep this in mind if you ever go there.

The Romanian people I’ve been meeting with all have heavy 5-oclock shadows, and thick, bushy mustaches and eyebrows. And you should see the men. I’m 100% kidding about this. I did really work with one lady who had a pronounced ‘widow’s peak’. That’s the Dracula hairdo look with the pointy area of the hairline. Kinda the opposite of what I have.

Getting to and from work is an adventure each and every time. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, and they are about the only way for me to get across town from the hotel. There is only one rule for driving here: there are no rules. That’s not entirely true – there really are a few traffic laws that are followed, such as: always turn left from the right lane, speed up if the traffic ahead of you is slowing down, and use the horn a lot in the event that you happen to be traveling toward oncoming traffic in their lane or if you happen to be going the wrong way on a one-way street. For some odd reason, the traffic really does stop for traffic signals. Go figure.

I’m staying right across the street from the Palace of Parliament, one of the world’s largest buildings. I can see it from my hotel window. It was started by the communist regime and finished after they were overthrown. It took me 15 minutes to run around it this morning. The running here is ok by the way – but there’s lots of air pollution. The funny thing is that the Marriott hotel that I’m staying in appears to be built in the same style as the palace (it’s very fancy) and is almost as big. It’s actually a bit too ostentatious for my taste.

Having gotten used to running circuits around the palace and the adjacent park, I finally decided to be a bit more adventurous for my last run in Bucharest. I went around the palace and kept going down a long boulevard, stumbling my way into the city center. I guess I hadn’t seen it from the many different routes I’d taken by taxi. It’s fairly interesting with a fountain, a central square, and commercial activity all around. My run also took me for several miles along a canal that bisects the city. Pretty decent running, but I’ll be happy when I’m running at home again. I did also head back to the hotel to get the camera. Took a couple of the city center, got one more of the palace, and some of me running in the park as well. In the evening I did some more exploring of the city center when there were more people around. Their ‘old town’ area has some shops and restaurants, but it’s pretty run down. I saw some of the still-present bullet-holes in the buildings from the revolution that occurred here in the late 80’s. the square in the middle does have a nice fountain and is surrounded by more modern shopping, not to mention advertisements.

I think they’re going to let me go home now, based on my mostly good behavior. I’ll try to stay good so I don’t have to come back.

It was dark in the park

It was dark in the park, Goes the snark remark. Today’s runner tried to be quick off the mark, But with the dark so stark, H...