Sunday, September 21, 2008

Catching Up

Yes, I know it's been three days since I've posted, and no, I don't have a good excuse.  That said, my excuse is twofold - I didn't have internet in the hotel room, and I was busy.  Take the time to read the whole post since you've saved some time in the last few days by having nothing new to read.

Overall, Philly was fun, but the city itself left a little to be desired.  There just wasn't a whole lot to see or do once we got the basic touristy stuff out of the way.


After trying a cheese steak Wednesday downtown, Nate and I decided we needed to try Tony Luke's since they're famous for their cheese steaks.  The long line was encouraging, and the cheese steaks were indeed good, though not necessarily a full step above the competition.

Then we went to set up for the expo in downtown, where we quickly realized that it would be a "hurry up and wait" sort of affair due to having to deal with union labor unloading the trucks.  We sat on the ramp parked waiting for a spot to unload and manpower for at least an hour (or about as long as it would have taken us to unload ourselves).

Once we got our stuff inside, we spent more time sitting while watching our hanging sign being lifted at an abnormally slow pace.

Four hours later, we had completed a job that is normally done in two or less.

For dinner Nate and I went to Maggiano's Little Italy, where my meal came served in what was pretty much a casserole dish.  I couldn't finish it all, and my plan was to make sure Molly didn't find out about it (I have a reputation to uphold, after all).  Nate didn't help me on that one.  He was much to anxious to share the news.


The expo occurred.  It was miserably slow.  So slow that we ended up playing some Rock Band (video game) at the Saturn booth for a while.  We got very into it in a brief period, and we were able to borrow their set-up for the night to play in the hotel room.  We wanted it badly enough that having to carry a 40 inch TV probably close to half a mile didn't deter us.

The five of us (Nate, Molly, Lyndsay, Stephen, and myself) crammed into a room and proceeded to rock out for the better part of three hours.  It was tons of fun, and my personal highlight was watching Nate and Stephen unknowingly pick a 10 minute song and struggle just to keep going until the end.  Molly announcing that she was going to get her act together on the drums and then almost immediately dropping a drumstick comes in a close second.


The expo got busier.  There was a line for our survey for a good chunk of the day, which is both good and bad.  When you're trying to get people through the survey quickly, the monotony of the job sets in and you often find yourself getting into such a routine that you start making mistakes in what you're saying.  Like handing someone a free shipping flyer and telling them it's an iPod armband when the iPod armband is obviously in your other hand.

Stephen's shoe shipment ended up being sent to the wrong hotel, so after the expo I took him to go pick it up.  The only place to temporarily park at the downtown hotel was in a back-alley that was mostly blocked by an obscene number of cars waiting to be valet parked, so I did the logical thing and drove straight over the sidewalk approximately where these friendly looking people are standing (they were not there at the time).

It's surprising how often you find yourself violating conventional rules of the road while in these big trucks.  Not anything illegal, mind you, but things like driving on non-road surfaces and parking in traffic lanes with the hazard lights on become second nature.


So I forgot to mention that on Saturday Stephen convinced me to sign up and do the event (The Philadelphia Distance Run - a half marathon).  I never really got nervous before the race, but I really had no idea what to expect given that my longest run ever was only 12 miles and had occurred last winter when I got myself lost in Portland.  Prior to the race, I did an easy 8 mile run with Stephen last week, but other than that I'm certainly not trained to be doing distance running.

The start/finish area was right in front of the Museum of Art made famous by Rocky running up the front steps at some point or another in one of the movies.  I guess I need to see the movies now.

The Rocky statue originally stood at the top of the steps, but apparently someone decided it wasn't particularly art and moved it down into some trees near the Museum.

Anyway, the race.  I set a goal for myself of 1:45, or approximately 8 minute miles.  I knew I could do that kind of pace for 5-6 miles, so I figured I might be able to hold that for close to 13.1 but was ready to accept the fact that I could very well blow up and fall off that pace.

The race course was surprisingly beautiful.  After a short loop through downtown past the Liberty Bell, the course headed northwest along a river through various parks and under concrete and brick arched bridges before crossing the river and returning along the opposite side.

I learned a lot about myself today, and even more about what distance running is all about.  The first five miles were spent enjoying the scenery and the massive (15,000 participants) group of runners I was with.  Miles 5-8 were spent noticing how my body hurt more with every step and watching people around me start to crack and fall off their pace.  Miles 9-13 I found my stride, the mental game kicked in, and I surprised myself.  The race was rather emotional.  It's a little bit of an overwhelming event in some ways, and I definitely got teary-eyed a little bit at one point.  My cycling background certainly helped with the mental aspect, as I'm not an experienced enough runner to know how to push myself to the extremes that I can on a bike.

I ran a 1:39:12, or an average of 7:35 miles.  I ran the first few miles at about a 7:45 pace and realized I could potentially adjust my goal to sub-1:40 if I could maintain my pace and not blow up.  I had Stephen's heart rate monitor, which helped me regulate my body immensely.  I ran a negative split (got faster as the race went on - apparently a good thing).  My 10K pace was 7:46, 10 mile pace was 7:42, and my overall average was 7:35 as mentioned above.  At mile 10 my heart rate was creeping up and I knew 1:40 was still in reach, so as the pain increased I pushed myself harder and actually got faster.  The final mile I put everything I had left into going faster and actually ran about a 7:00 mile.  My heart rate hit 214 just before the finish, and while I knew I have an insane max heart rate, I'd never seen it get higher than 213.

I'm really pleasantly surprised how well I did.  I'm definitely sore after, but given how hard I pushed myself that's to be expected.

Yeah, I know that picture is sideways.  I might fix it later if I get a chance.  Or I'll just leave it that way and encourage you to get a good sideways neck stretch in.

Right now we're driving the trucks towards Cleveland, Ohio with our ultimate destination for the next event being San Jose, California.

The only frustrating part of the day was having my race bag disappear from our booth during take-down (we presume stolen).  The good news: I'd taken everything irreplaceable and of major value out (credit cards and IDs, iPhone, race medal and number, keys).  The bad news, I had $200 worth of running gear (shoes, jacket, shirt, shorts, etc.) and Stephen's heart rate monitor in there.  I'll get over the missing running gear but I feel really bad about losing stuff that's not mine, namely the heart rate monitor.  The things people will do for sweaty running gear...

That's not the most upbeat way to end a post, so here's a thought:  I've done three events now on this tour (Peachtree 10K, Copper Triangle Cycling Event, Philadephia Distance Run) and I've gotten PAID to do all three.  You can't beat that.


  1. nice write up. FYI (You owe me a HRM!)

  2. you sure are crazy! it feels nice being good at something you aren't trained to do though doesn't it? :D and since you were getting paid, why not split the cost of a HRM with irongambit over there? pssssh! who am I kidding?! you're a smart one - you'll figure it out.