Autumn Whirlwind

It has been a busy and interesting summer and the same can be said for how the fall is going so far.

My pavement related and offseason training goals this past summer were all but shattered when I caught a severe cold bug from (presumably, not 100% sure) a friend who was in town to visit and the result was severe bronchitis – at one point we suspected pneumonia, but thankfully the X-ray came back negative – that kept me from training or even excercising most if not all of June.
I returned to basic exercise (i.e. anything that didn’t involve running) only the final week of June and running the first week of July. And this was after SEVEN weeks of not running – I had taken two weeks off after Broad Street and was planning on light training when I contracted the bug. So coming back in the thick of the heat after seven weeks of no running?

Ugly. Just it was hilariously ugly.

I struggled to even run quarter mile intervals on the treadmill and my first run back with City Sports was a nightmare in nearly every sense of the word. Thankfully keeping at it, by the end of July I was back to basic distance, but pace, I was still off (slower) by roughly a minute/mile pace, and I was slow enough to begin with by most people’s standards.

At the same time, with work burning me out, I had taken a few short holidays to recharge. I screamed for a European vacation, especially with both the pound sterling and euro falling dramatically, I could afford RT to Ireland for 550. Yes, you are reading this correctly. $550.

Strangely, at the same time, I was also concerned about my moving expenses going to DC – especially if I took on a new job, absorbing (in most cases) relocation costs. As a result, my longer holiday for the summer was spent in Quebec. Amtrak train trip was entirely free for myself, along with a few nights in a Marriott hotel, thanks to the points I’d accumulated from my own work travels. Canada was a double edged sword – it was an aggressive agenda, seeing both Montreal and Quebec City in 6 days, 2 of which consisted of the Amtrak ride through the Adirondacks. It was a scenic ride, but overall the trip meant we were constantly on the go. It was great for keeping me in shape, but my mother was more exhausted after that week (despite my multiple warnings about the agenda and pace of the trip – several times I offered her to prolong the trip to ease the pace, but she refused as she had a religious pilgrimage the days following our return). Still I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the sights, the food and everything in between.

But breathers aside, it has been a busy summer. I visited my friend Caroline in NYC, who is training for the NYC marathon, spent a few weekends with other friends exploring the city and just overall doing fun stuff. But now a lot of the fun is slowing down – or stopping altogether – as the fall gets even crazier.

Thankfully I did not schedule myself for any half marathons at all this coming fall, between my anticipated job search, a wedding that is taking place abroad and a few other things I would have to tackle personally, scheduling my long runs for the Philadelphia Marathon was tough enough.

Training for the fall came slowly and steadily, and strangely enough, I’ve been training conservatively enough that the chances of injury to my shin are very small compared to what I encountered in 2013 when I tried to train for the half and the full and maybe leaving out a half and structuring around it might have been the answer here. Although I have been trying to keep my runs to no more than three times a week and only in excess of 14 miles for my long run do I increase to four, but never five times as my shins need longer time to recover from the longer runs. This still gives me a day to do weighttraining and a day to rest entirely. And so far it’s been fine.

My family continues to use my passion for running and travel – nothing new – as a lightning rod and sadly that has not changed. It has made things more difficult for me mentally as I cope with other issues and stress in general. Somehow, that passion will carry me through the finish, through the end of the marathon, and my time altogether in Philly. Ironically this is my last opportunity to ever run Philly and see the city in its utmost passion neighbourhood by neighbourhood – although Broad Street has done a pretty bang up job of that as well. Looking ahead to next year, I am slated for the DC marathon in March 2016, but after that, I’m looking at a general focus on my body strength and less so on endurance. I am thinking 2 races ranging between 10-13 miles – easier to train for and a much easier ability to adjust for, as personal priorities shift with my scenery.

To put it frankly, aside from focusing on my new job – wherever or whatever that might be – I will place a much heavier emphasis on my social/personal life – at my age, it is very difficult to meet new friends, although in DC, with many people my age, single, adventurous and ambitious, I won’t feel as out of place as I ever did in Philly. I remain optimistic I will find a crew of people with interests similar to mine (fitness overlapping or not) and maybe a few developing closer connections with. A stronger support network that I never really had living in Philly, that’s for sure. And even more critical now with my brother taking a position in Minnesota, much further away and moving further away myself from my own family, even as fractious as our relationship can be sometimes.

Things are complicated, but somehow I’ll sort it out.

For now, the pavement brings me peace, a peace that still, little else and only a number of people that I can count on one hand, can bring. Even on the upswing, with my first slew of interviews in November, the pavement helps me to calm the nerves before the storm.

One thing at a time. For now, the pavement helps me digest both the good things and the bad. One step at a time.

Broad Street Run 2015 Race Recap

1-1 expo welcome

Race: Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Distance: 16.0 km (10 miles)
Date/Start Time: 3 May 2015, 8:00am
Distance Travelled to Compete: 11.6 km (7.2 miles)
Weather conditions: Started high 50s and gradually rose into the 80s by post-race.
Course conditions: The course is mostly downhill leading into Girard and Fairmount but increases slightly and then another drop after City Hall. Starts at Olney/Broad and Somerville Streets and the Albert Einstein Hospital and finishes at Broad and Farragut Streets, at the Navy Yard.
Preview: My experience in 2012 was mostly negative with the registration process and the crowd control. However, as this is my last year living in Philly, this is also the last opportunity I will have to run Broad Street and with everyone I knew running it. Since 2012, the crowd has swelled to excess of 40,000 people, which has made the pre-race and post-race conditions very difficult.

1 cover - welcome

Better late than never! Between life, work-related travel and illness, I’ve been off the grid a bit, but once I’m recovered, things will be back to normal on the blog and hopefully on the pavement! That said, long overdue…

Registration

Registration was done by lottery. I registered on February 1st and was notified on the 17th that I had gotten in. Seamless and easy and at $43 per person, it’s not a horribly priced race at all. I had found out by email and once it was confirmed, zing, I worked Broad Street into my training plan and saved the date. Only thing I know many runners had their gripes about was the seemingly incessant emails from or regarding their advertisers. There were several quips on Facebook about this

The Expo

Unlike the 2012 expo, this year’s expo was hosted at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. For those not living in the city, parking, as usual, is a bit of a problem. Most people who work in the city attempt to make a dash during work hours otherwise, it’s a jaunt in traffic. This year though the race gave runners the option to ship their packet to them for an extra fee which per the feedback on Facebook, a number of people took advantage of.

Expo doors were open on Friday from 11am to 7pm and Saturday from 9am to 5pm. I had gone first thing on Friday and I was greeted with THIS queue:

3 queue

Thankfully the queue moved quickly and before I knew it kit and bib pickup was quite seamless. An array of food and race vendors were present which I had taken the time to check out. The expo was quite expansive though for a race of 41000 runners, I would have expected more food vendors or products to try out. Maybe that was me. But otherwise, the expo was well laid out.

4 vendors

For me, highlights included the Temple station, being a proud MBA grad from last year I just had to take a snap:

5 Temple station 1

Selfie time!

6 selfie tu

And of course before I forget, the race shirt:

2 race shirt

I wasn’t as fond of this year’s design as I was 2012, largely because this year’s shirt was white (blah) and the 2012 shirt was blue. Also the City Hall silhouette…well it was appropriate but sort of meh.

7 string band

The Race

One major change with this race was the shift in start time to 8am (instead of 8:30am as in past years) because of the TV coverage. Instead of leaving at 6:45am, this go, it was at least half an hour earlier. I think I boarded the subway at around 6:15am.

In spite of taking the express train from Center City, it still took us north of 30 minutes, almost 40 minutes to reach Olney. Once we filed out and up from the subway station, our next order of business was to find the schoolbuses to check in our bags.

Then we checked in our bags, they gave us a tag on our bib and the corresponding tag for our bus number and luggage number both on our wrist and on the bag itself.

It was then I started warming up as the crowds started to increase. People were just everywhere strewn at Einstein Hospital.

8 start line

9 scene at 7am or so

And in just half an hour, the pre-game crowd control was yet another reminder of why I sat out the last few years of this race. Too tight, and too many runners in the wrong corrals. This was probably the part of Broad Street that I hated the most. Unfortunately in our corrals we were sandwiched like sardines and unable to move, watched in some disgust as runners of any speed unable to make it into their corrals found themselves pouring in the Somerville Avenue, getting right behind the green corral, which unfortunately happened to be the corral right before mine.

10 pre-race 30

11 pre-race 20

This proved to be an issue largely because of the long start time (we didn’t leave the start line until 8:40am!!!) a concern of mine was the sunlight and the resulting heat – the weather was expected to rise into the high 70s.

Eventually we were off – and I would find that very soon, I would be overtaking everyone well on the way to a respectable time.

Mile 1: Olney That Rocky theme song. Admittedly being bored (and worse) with Philly, the song only grates my ears, forget being inspirational. But I guess having done so many Philly races, I’ve just never found the song to pump me up. Not like some of the rally songs that have done so at many of my non-Philly races. Once we were off, I veered to the sharp left overtaking people well heading to the Temple School of Medicine, the site of my graduate school final project. So many memories from last year with my MBA project group, quite fitting that I would have one more trip by the building that ultimately was the place of conclusion for my graduate school experience.

I paced myself normally, just wanted to finish in one piece and knowing about the heat, didn’t want to kill myself too early.

The road dipped slightly before a slight incline – no issues here. Passed a DJ and a drummer group. It was awesome getting to see North Philly residents cheering us on, a neighbourhood or two that I never had been through in several years now.

Mile 2: Tioga Another uphill and a downhill. And pretty soon, I caught sight of a runner that had fallen down and collapsed, surrounded by other runners directing us away from the fray and a medic trying to revive him. Oh goodness. Seeing that would always give me the chills, and I said a silent prayer for him. I would later hear that medics saved this person’s life, but I feared that despite my good health, that such a thing could happen to me despite all the precautions I would take. The second mile I attempted to stay in the shade of many buildings as by 9am the sun started beating down on the route. Ugh.

Mile 3: Allegheny We continued downward. First water station, first Gatorade. With the heat increasing, I had increased my intake of fluid so unsurprisingly took in more water and Gatorade in the water bottle I was carrying on my person. Again, tried to veer as far left as I could to avoid the sun.

Mile 4: Temple University Temple University. More memories. Graduate School Association. More classes on Main Campus, Liacouras Center, the site of graduation and the basketball games I’d attended. Crazy. The band played loudly and cheerleaders egged us on as did a slew of students presumably in their final exams period.

These positive memories helped me keep up the pace well into the midway point.

Mile 5: Fairmount The masses of crowds were picking up and at this point the cheers were becoming even louder. Bands were playing a variety of music as we passed Brown Street, then Fairmount Avenue, then Green Street, then further south. I then saw another water stop. More water, more Gatorade. I looked in vain for people that I recognised but to no avail.

We continued down to City Hall where we made a right around the loop, closer to Suburban Station and then back left towards the Ritz-Carlton, and then continued south.

Mile 6: Theatre District/Rittenhouse This is the part of the course where the crowds are the loudest and it wasn’t any different from 2012. I was tempted to take a selfie of some sorts once I’d passed City Hall but seeing I was well ahead of time for a PR, I decided to let the mood and my body carry me along. Loads of spectators lined the Theatre District and through Fitler Square as well as spectators standing on the dividers. Still no sign of any supporters I knew. One of my friends had mentioned to me she’d be waiting at Washington Avenue, except I missed her as she stood on the far right of the street, and of course I was on the far left. Le sigh.

Miles 7 and 8: South Philadelphia We proceeded deeper in the course, with the crowds staying relatively populated through South Philly. At Federal Street, I ran into one of my friends from City Sports, Nick, who is a rep at 2XU. Saw many people I knew as I gave them all high fives. It was an uplifting feeling compared to 2012 as I tried to get memories of South Philly out of my mind having broken up with an ex. But those memories have since been replaced with much more positive ones.

The deeper we got into South Philly, the crowds began to thicken again…and even worse, so did the heat. Ugh.

Mile 9: Sports Complex By the time we hit Mile 9, my body was beginning to feel the effects of a long spring term, to the point I was talking to myself. Hang in there Charlene, hang in there, I kept telling myself. I wasn’t delirious but mentally I was just happy to be approaching offseason.

But it wasn’t before another unsettling incident. Off to the left, I saw another girl who had fallen and couldn’t get up. A policeman was trying to call for assistance to help. It was another shocking feeling for me that we were all vulnerable and that with all the miles I’ve done in the heat I have been extremely lucky to not have problems of any sort.

We hit FDR Park, and I took in my last few cups of water. At this point, my muscles were quite tight and I knew that any sudden stop and I wouldn’t be able to pick it up again. I kept pace, well on track for a good PR but I knew not to overdo it given the long trek it would be to the post-game party.

Mile 10: Finish at the Navy Yard This was it, the final mile. “YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!”

I think I heard this phrase endlessly. The Navy Yard gates, I knew it was still 1/4 mile or so to go, and I made sure that mentally I wasn’t going to mess with my mind into oblivion.

The crowds grew louder and we went through the two underpasses adjacent to the sports complex.

The road was narrowing and then, finally, the grandstand. I saw the finish line, the sponsors’ signs and the finish.

Six minute PR, in the bag.

After the Finish Line

My brutal honest opinion here – the post-race scene was just scary. The first thing I thought seeing all the crowds was just getting the hell out of there. Too many people, most of the people I would know would be at the post-race party held by Philadelphia Runner.

We funneled through the finishers’ chute and through the food tent, relatively in an orderly fashion. Volunteers were everywhere, handing out the medals, and they were distributing bags in the food tent. In the food bag were the typical Philly treats, not my cup of tea for a post-race snack admittedly, but still all gravy nonetheless. Two Tastykake fruit bars, a pair of Goldenberg candy chews, an orange, a banana, a bottle of water, and volunteers were handing out a large pretzel from Philly Pretzel Company.

It took me a ridiculous amount of time to find a stack of the medals but they were in the middle of the crowd. No signage. The initial volunteers that had given out medals ran out of them so we were left to fend and find the medal rack. That was just brilliant. Not.

13 medal

I wanted to queue up for the bathroom, but realising the queues were entirely too long, managed to force myself out to the busses where I picked up my bag, swapped shirts (my race shirt was soooooo icky and sweaty) and trudged around to find the exit to the Navy Yard to get on with things and head to the Philadelphia Runner tailgate.

16 party signage

I ran into fellow Philly runner @MalindaAnnHill from @TwinsRun!

14 Twins Run

After which I settled for a few good grilled cheese sandwiches, and tomato pie. I skipped the beer admittedly as I’m not a fan of Yards beer and dehydration was a bit of a problem for me during the race. Not to mention the queue for the beer was stupidly long.

15 grill

And of course, who can forget the view of the lake.

12 bbq view

Overall, I have no complaints about everything BESIDES the pre- and post-race experience. Ultimately though, this is my last year in Philly and most likely my last year being able to do this race. I do hope for the sake of the Philly running community that Broad Street organisers will do what they can to improve the pre- and post-race experience because even if I was still staying in the area, my experience there would really disincline me to participate in future years, even in spite of how affordable the race is. Better signage and organisation of runners in starting corrals would go a very long way.

Plan B

Talk about a kick in the teeth.

After all the conditioning, and weight resistance I’ve done, my shins, to put it bluntly, gave in.

A few weeks ago, I trained properly up to my first 20 miler, but it was at that point that my legs could not handle all that mileage. Or maybe it could, but perhaps my Brooks Ravennas were wearing thin. My previous pairs of shoes had all lasted well into the 500 mile mark. I thought that was to be with this pair of shoes, my old Ravenna 2s. I had bought a second pair because the first were great for full marathon training.

I track my shoe mileage along with overall race mileage using a spreadsheet. I had about 360 miles in on these. I did my 20 miler on my NEW Ravennas, which had at most 60 miles on them. Then I did a 7 miler last Saturday on the old ones, and that’s when I felt the unusual sensation in my ankle. It had led to more pressure in my shins and thus, and uneven balance.

The pain in my shins were terrible earlier this week and I have not run since last Saturday. Are they getting better? Absolutely. The way things are progressing with rehab stretches and such, I should be able to crosstrain by mid to late next week, earlier than expected. Once there’s no residual pain from those workouts then it should be back in the saddle and back on track (no pun intended).

There’s absolutely no way they will heal in time for Sunday’s half, but that in no way affects the tweetup that we’ve planned. I’m still going to the expo and still meeting the awesome people in our running community.

The ultimate plan is to get healed, and get back on track for moderate mileage by the end of December. If I can do this, I can use the Galloway method to complete the Disney full and collect my medal. If I really wanted to, I COULD walk the entire thing like all walkers would do, but I’m not going to do that. (The limit allows for a 16-minute per mile pace and I can even WALK much faster than that.) I’m going to run as much as possible and as much as I can safely.

The sheer reality is that I’m not sure when or if life will permit me to return to Disney for ANY reason (let alone the marathon). I had to fight family to run Disney earlier this year and even to this day they have still given me grief over it. So barring serious injury or a grave personal emergency I intend on going and doing whatever I can to run, even if that means sacrificing this half in the short term.

To be fair, I’ve run and completed this half twice, and it was meant entirely to be a tuneup for the WDW. I absolutely hate DNSes (did not start), and this will be my first one, but it’s what needs to happen. Ankles and shins are fragile and I don’t want to hurt them any further.

#RunChat moderator David (@RunningBecause) had once mentioned that engagement with the running community is especially important when one is injured and he couldn’t be more accurate.

I’m looking forward to this weekend and to a continued recovery. And of course, I’m keeping my chin up.

What Race Weekend Means to Me

2 blue seas

With the Rock n’ Roll Philly Half Marathon just 4 days away and the expo set to kick off Friday, I can hardly stop thinking about it. It’s given me something to look forward to.

However it goes beyond the tangibles.

The freebies, the ability to try new products, the panels and speakers are nice. Don’t get me wrong. We all paid for a product, an experience, one way or another. I still plan on reviewing the entire race weekend experience as I’ve done in previous years. The race itself has given me goals and kept me in line and that finisher’s medal is looking very shiny.

That will help make my weekend but it’s not the main reason I’m excited. Not by a country mile.

In a world of social isolation, sheer human interaction and connecting with people has become critical for me. It has become a saving grace for me psychologically.

I made the choice to go back to school. I made the choice to pursue a demanding career. I have long accepted that it will have a significantly detrimental effect on my personal life.

What I did not anticipate however, was the inability to relate to others around me because of my life choices. I’m seeing it more with family, old friends from university, my current crop of classmates in graduate school and colleagues and it is terrifying.
And I live in a very large city too.

Conversations with friends, family, classmates and colleagues often break down into celebrities, TV shows, activities and/or home life with significant others, children and/or wedding planning from the perspective of the bride. Given my lifestyle, I couldn’t touch on most of those topics with a ten-foot-pole. In some cases I wind up completely embarrassing myself (case in point: I had no idea what Breaking Bad was until last month). On my end, I admit I focus more on the intellectual, but even that aside, I love talking travel, current events, sports (particularly hockey, soccer, baseball and running), general fitness.

What does this all mean? It’s insane work to forge or break into conversations and mission impossible to build friendships when you feel you are on a different planet from people.

Running has helped me belong again. A common group of people with common goals, and somehow even when the focus is away from running, I’m still able to relate to people. Even if we lead fundamentally different lives. I can be myself without encountering ridicule, I can talk about nearly anything of interest without feeling I’m losing control in the conversation, and I’m even learning new things.

4 back porch

Case in point, my first sailing trip last weekend. I’d never been to a yacht club, but was invited to a party by other runners on my team. We went down to the Corinthian Yacht Club of Philadelphia, which borders the Delaware River. It is in the southern suburb of Essington right by the airport.

6 boat row

Here, we kayaked, paddleboarded, and yes, sailed the open Delaware River. Everyone seemed old hat to the yachting and sailing experience, but for me, this was my first time ever in a sailboat. I’ve kayaked before, my last time being three years ago at my cousin’s wedding in Chestertown, MD, along the Chesapeake Bay.

9 way back

We spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening along the river and as our hosts found themselves caught out on the river after dark, we had a grand time chowing on typical barbecue food and carrying on.

10 sunset

I met other runners and plan on returning for more social events. I find that even within the running community I find we have a lot more in common than just running, and that’s a good thing.

11 moonlight

This weekend – race weekend – gives me a prime opportunity to meet with runners I know locally and those who have since moved out of town. It’s the weekend for run clubs to really bond over common goals, even if not all runners run the longer distances. (Our club has a mix of both sides, but even those that run shorter distances are very social.) These are people who despite fewer time spent with in comparison to fellow students or colleagues, have made a huge impact on my life. We push each other, catch up with each other, tailgate after the race and strangely, in some ways, the real me comes out of her shell.

The cascade of Twitter messages from others psyched up for race weekend only reminds me of all the excitement to come, both on and off the pavement. I enjoyed meeting up with people at prior races, and it won’t be any different.

A Breath of Fresh Air

11 Funtown post-Sandy 1

It had been a long time coming, but I finally got out for a nice weekend getaway. With school and work having taken over my life, any sort of fun – even a weekend getaway – had been a true luxury. Life truly has passed me by, with many of my peers travelling the world or even the country, among other things. Strangely, I’ve only begun turning the corner in this respect.

With six weeks of freedom between mid-May and June, main highlights were a friend’s wedding, getting summer networking going with my graduate school association, a brief trip to the Jersey Shore, and a 4th of July camping trip to the Hamptons. It may seem mundane to many people, but this is a breath of fresh air after years in the proverbial dungeon. Even then, work is pounding hard though, and although still lacking a full-out vacation for years and counting, the six-week reprieve from school is also the first I’ve had in at least 2 years. In my 12 years living in Philly, not once I’ve been to the Jersey shore. (I did go to Wildwood, NJ with my family when I was 11, but I have no recollection of that now.) That’s how ridiculous it has been.

Money was tight until only a few years ago, but lately now, time is the real problem. Because my family does not see me nearly all year, this also makes getting away during the holidays – my only break from both work and school – impossible. Twice in the last two years, I’d attempted to travel abroad, only to anger my parents (another story for another post). Even then, my mother is still livid that I am taking off to run the Walt Disney Marathon, but things have unfortunately come to a point I needed to put my foot down.

That said, WDW will be my first vacation in eight years, so I need to just hang in yet again until then. And even then after that, I get slammed with my capstone semester. Two prospective trips abroad are in the making, but they are more than a year off now.

So with all this in mind, I was incredibly excited to go to the Jersey Shore. Julie, a friend who I met through school, is from North Jersey and her mother has a beach house in Lavallette, NJ, just five minutes north of a more populated Seaside Heights, and about half an hour south of Point Pleasant. The area was greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy, and my friend’s mother spent easily thousands of dollars renovating and repairing the damage. Lavallette had not taken as much damage as Seaside Heights (pictures to follow) but flooding kept residents out for nearly two months.

Last weekend, we hit the road to the beach, much needed on my end, having come off a two-week business trip to Charlotte that was intense.

On Saturday, the very first thing we did was enjoy the sun, and no complaints. I don’t recall having been to a beach since running the Shamrock Half in March 2011. Before that my memories of Wildwood (age 11) and Ocean City MD (age 8) and OCNJ (right after high school graduation) are very distant. So the feeling of sand was something I was really enjoying, I think I had spent several hours getting my feet all comfy with the sand.

My friends probably thought I was weird, but after I told them I hadn’t been to the beach in ages, frankly after that I didn’t care.

1 SatPMrelax

After a few hours of sun, we all headed in to my friend’s house and started preparing for the barbecue. Of the 13 in the entire party only three of us were vegetarians, myself being one of them. Nonetheless, we prepared an extensive menu, one that easily accomodated us, between salmon and chicken sandwiches, mozzarella cheese on tomato and balsamic vingear, a host of grilled veggies, corn, and goodness knows what else.

5 more food prep

Julie’s husband proceeded to cook the meanest salmon he could, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

6 Corys salmon masterpiece

Seriously, it was delish. And with the sangrias, I had no complaints. I also went for gusto and tried some of the beer. The Centennial IPA was profusely bitter but as he was a heavy beer drinker, they also tend to be heavily biased towards IPAs, so another one of our friends brought in a Bell’s Oberon mini-keg, which had an orange accent to it.

The best part of all this was the camaraderie. Everyone was easygoing, and just catching up on life and people talking about all sorts of things. From future vacation plans (needless to say, everyone was harping on mine!) to wedding plans and everything in between.

Unfortunately for me, my runner’s diet of very scant amounts of alcohol year-round did me in. I found myself crashing out sooner than expected that night although most of the rest of the party went to a nearby crab house that evening.

The next day, we hit the beach again and the boardwalk. Sunday morning as I was told, was completely dead. Completely.

10 Sunday morning

One thing I learnt about Jersey boardwalks – the boardwalk culture is very different from other beaches I had been used to or had heard about from my parents. On weekend mornings, there are swarms of bikers, joggers, and walkers getting up and getting active on the boardwalk. But here, I was told, no one gets up early in the morning and no one cites the boardwalk until the afternoon, and later on I could see why.

I also shouldn’t have been surprised as the hit-reality show Jersey Shore made these areas known for its insane nightlife, but then again of course, I wouldn’t have known this.

After a few hours on the beach, we hit the Seaside Heights boardwalk. To our right, we saw how badly the area had been affected by Hurricane Sandy the previous fall.

14 Funtown 4

The amusement park was still in tatters and some developments still had not been fully rebuilt.

19 Beach soccer 3

Nearby where the cranes were rebuilding, a beach soccer tournament was going down. I took in the boardwalk, but now I could see what Julie meant by a purely nighttime vibe. There was hardly a breakfast area anywhere near the boardwalk, it had a very nightlife/party atmosphere to it. Even in broad daylight.

20 Beach Soccer 4

Unfortunately our time seaside came to an end. I left with two of my other friends for back home but not without feeling so much more relaxed. Much needed for a crazy week at work to follow and I’m hoping I will be back soon.

Stepping Out

With the summer underway and school taking a lower end of the priority list, I’ve pushed myself to do things that a work/school combination has prevented me from doing for years. I’ve pushed myself to try and meet new people, go out more with my friends when possible, hit up Center City Sips (Philadelphia’s Wednesday city-wide coordinated happy hour specials) with friends from school. I’ve also gone on a few dates here and there but to no avail, fine for now as classes start in July I suppose.

My active life certainly hasn’t been put on the back burner. After an appropriate amount of rest from running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, I hit the pool, focused on my strength training and slowly eased my way back into running. About five weeks after this race, I decided to join the City Sports group for a Thursday run. Last year, the group was small and far too fast for me but I kept telling myself to not be intimidated by the faster runners. In the heat, nine-minute miles would be pushing it for me. I’m just not there yet unfortunately.

The first run was brutal because it was my first time out since the half, and it was just after finals week. The staff, who lead all the runs, had us out on a six mile trek into the usual bike path. I was on the slower end and had to stop for a trip to the loo, but other than that it was fine. As I knew, nearly everyone was much faster than I but there were a few runners who were slower than I. Nonetheless I found this group quite nice and easygoing. As a bonus, runners get one insider buck for every mile they run with the group and after each quarter can be used for shopping at City Sports. Considering I’ve been putting myself on a tight budget in school, it’s been an awesome way to save up for running supplies I need. In the runs since then, I’ve met more people, and I’m going to be back every Thursday where travel for work doesn’t get in the way.

I suggested to one of the organisers to have runners (who were okay with this) link up on Twitter and find a way to support each other with some of the bigger races. The runners have a range of ability, some running shorter distances, but the vast majority usually training for at least a half if not longer. One of the runners is travelling to Brasil for a marathon next month for example; others are keeping their eyes on more local races like myself. Even then, Walt Disney World Marathon is a treat for myself, after years of denial forced through school.

In July I will volunteer the 20in24 relay races. I participated last year as a relay runner and had a fantastic time. The volunteers were excellent and without a team to run in, compared with my individual weakness in fundraising, I decided I would instead volunteer, and link up with the running community in this manner.

Overall I’m moving forward, even as busy as I am. Despite the frustration I’ve had to deal with socially, I’ve always found running and the running community a great community and one that I hope to become more involved with in Philadelphia, or wherever life should take me.

DailyMile and Social Media Overload

With all the social media sites happening, I’m having a heck of a time keeping up. Because I’m between semesters, right now, I have a little more time to devote to blogging, but even with this, it’s hard keeping up with all the social media sites, which is why I dropped corresponding on Daily Mile. I understand some of my Tweeps/Twitterati/Twitter friends added me on Daily Mile, but I’m loathe to touch the site just because it’s another site I have to deal with! I do track my mileage through a spreadsheet, and make sure I’m not overusing my sneakers or anything like that.

But the sheer number of sites out there are unreal and I simply don’t have the time to keep up with every single one of them. I refuse to get on any more and personally between the loads of email accounts I have, Facebook (which I am presently debating leaving now altogether for other reasons), Twitter, WordPress, and Flickr to a much smaller extent, solely for holding and not really sharing pictures. I’d say of all these, at this rate I’m using Twitter a lot more than FB at this point. I dabbled in Daily Mile for my running networking for the first half of 2012, and I just stopped updating it because it was quite a chore. Of course, lately I just updated my phone and had found good apps on Android to be a problem…

I’m thinking I will get back on DailyMile but battling the flu at the moment, I’ve spent the vast majority of my week in bed…going to bed within the hour I get home from work. I’ve got a slight cough now that won’t go away but my body is mostly recovered.

Still it’s been utterly annoying. And in other ways discouraging, and not just physically. Isolation has lately been a problem and I’m three semesters from graduation.

I’ve enjoyed a few high teas and movie nights with friends though over the interval between semesters so that has helped but now with school back in swing, I need to find another temporary solution again. Big ask on my end.

Maybe DailyMile might not be such a bad idea now…