So…what’s happened since the first edition of this newsletter went out last month? A lot…and nothing. I was in the hospital…that was something. Unfortunately, the reason for the hospital visit kept me from competing in the Hightstown Triathlon I was so looking forward to. And it’s led to a lot of doing nothing. Read on for the details… Continue reading “BK Bulletin – September 2018”
So…since Facebook is a trash fire platform run by a trash fire of a human being, I deleted my old account back in June (and Twitter is hanging on by a thread). I do still have a profile there through a secondary account I set up years ago in an aborted attempt to use that one to manage my podcast pages. But it basically exists solely to interact with other pages that handle things like sign-ups and notifications only through Facebook. I don’t plan to return to posting there at all.
Therefore, I have returned to posting here and on my long-dormant Tumblr account for sharing links, musings and other things, like weather updates. So feel free to check that out every now and then to see what I’m up to.
This has been a weird year for me. I don’t usually do too many races during the spring and summer months. But for the past few years, I’ve taken part in Philly’s 10-mile Broad Street Run in May and a 5K held at my alma mater, Rider University, in June.
This year, however, I wasn’t able to run Broad Street because of an all-day, all-hands-on-deck work commitment — even though my job was eliminated through a reorganization about a month later (yeah…more on that later). And the Rider University 5K didn’t happen either.
Even worse, my favorite annual race, the Trenton Half-Marathon — a race I’d done every year since 2014 (after doing the event’s 10K component in 2013) — that was supposed to take place in late October or early November was canceled earlier this year.
Basically, I haven’t taken part in an organized race since last November’s Philadelphia Marathon. Now, I have been training (running, cycling and swimming) for a good chunk of the past nine months, but it just seems odd not having any events to prepare for during that time.
But now, the events I have been training for are suddenly just weeks away. First up, is the Hightstown (N.J.) Triathlon on September 9. I’ve done this sprint triathlon every year since 2014 (it was my first triathlon) because it takes place about 20 minutes away from where we live.
Next is the inaugural Crest Best 10-Miler in Wildwood Crest, N.J., on October 7. This new race is presented by the awesome Wildwood-based DelMo Sports (who oversee a bunch of events in South Jersey, including the Atlantic City Triathlon I did in 2014…and hope to do again next year) and I’m really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, that conflicts with yet another race I usually do, but won’t be able to do this year — WXPN’s Musicians on Call 5K.
Finally, I’m returning to the Philadelphia Marathon for a second year in a row. I finished in 4 hours, 51 minutes, 22 seconds IN 2017. I’m shooting for between 4:30:00 and 4:40:00 this time out.
Cough Wars: The Recycling Strikes Back
Of course, with all these races now within a few turns of the calendar, I seriously messed up by back a couple of weeks ago. Not during training, of course. But by being taken by surprise by a violent coughing attack as I was bending awkwardly to pick up a piece of wayward recycling while taking it out to the curb one morning.
Ugh! I have never been in so much pain in my life (and that includes slamming my shoulder into the back of a Chevy Suburban during a bike ride in 1986). What’s not helping is that I’ve been trying to train through it. In fact, a few hours after it happened, I went out for a triathlon brick training session that included an 11-mile bike ride and a planned 5K-distance run that I had to cut back to a mile because I just couldn’t handle the pain. Shortly after that, I drove out to a local swim school to do a little more than a half-mile in the pool.
The next day I tried to go out for a 5-mile run, but struggled just to get through four.
Even worse is that it has led to an apparently related leg issue that crops up when I’m sitting. It seems when I put pressure on my left lower back/butt, it leads to pain in my thigh.
I’m mostly OK when I’m standing, though. I even managed to get through my first 10-mile run since January a few days ago. The only thing that’s really bothering me on my runs right now is the lingering cough that sneaks up on me.
So, yeah, training has not been ideal for the past two weeks. Hoping things are better by this weekend.
Looking for Work
So, as I alluded to earlier, I’m no longer working at George Street Playhouse. I was let go in early June as part of a reorganization that eliminated my position. They are in the process of streamlining operations ahead of the move into the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center next summer. Honestly, I had been trying to find something closer to home anyway. Despite how it ended, I’ll have mostly great memories of my four seasons there.
The big news is that we’ll be going on a Disney Cruise while school is out in early November. I have never been on a cruise before and not sure what to expect. It will be the first time on a plane (our cruise originates from Port Canaveral) with our boys, as well. That’s kind of making us a bit nervous, especially since Benjamin doesn’t like to be contained for long periods of time. Hopefully, we can work it out so that he’s sleepy for both the departing and return flights. But the vacation is a gift and we are very grateful for it. Our boys will definitely enjoy it.
Although nothing much became of the musical aspirations I had as a teenager, this year does mark the 30th anniversary of what I consider the first real song I ever wrote, “Time Takes Over.” I recently documented the full story behind the song, and added vocals and some other light instrumentation to the original instrumental demo I recorded to cassette back in October 1988, which you can listen to here:
I’ve also dipped my foot back in the songwriter’s pool recently with some creations I consider “sketches” to use in possible future works. The most recent of these was something I did completely in GarageBand on my iPhone and is more or less a complete song, from a structure standpoint. I’ve been listening to The War on Drugs a bit recently and I’ve become rather obsessed with how their songs really don’t do much structurally, but tend to stick to a groove and just build/add or subtract elements to create atmospheric ebb and flow patterns. Here’s an untitled project I recently recorded using this approach. Again, this was more of an experiment in structure, so the patterns and melodies here are essentially placeholders…but I still kind of like it as a starting point.
I haven’t been to many concerts this year. Alison and I saw my favorite current band, Lo Moon, in March. I had seen them in November 2017 on my own and then saw them again at WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival in late July, so I’ve already seen them three times. I really love their sound…lead singer/band leader Matt Lowell is very much influenced by the greatly under-appreciated Mark Hollis of Talk Talk. Matt is also a huge fan of The War on Drugs (with a couple of members of that band appearing on Lo Moon’s self-titled debut album) so that’s why I have become a little more interested in TWOD recently.
Also, keep your eyes and ears open for emerging soul/R&B singer-songwriter Devon Gilfillian. He played the Marina Stage on Day 3 of this year’s XPoNential Music Festival, just before Lo Moon were to hit the River Stage. I didn’t plan to watch his set, but I went over to take some photos (which came out terrible). And it wound up taking a lot of effort on my part to tear myself away to get over in time for a good spot for Lo Moon. Devon was far and away my vote for biggest surprise of the entire festival — and he’s also caught the attention of Rolling Stone. Great band, great performer, great set. The Philly-area native who now calls Nashville home has one EP out and is working on his first full-length album in Los Angeles. Here he is performing his latest song, “Troublemaker,” at the XPoNential Music Festival:
In June, I had the awesome and rare opportunity to catch music legend Midge Ure (Ultravox, Rich Kids, Visage, Slik, Thin Lizzy and — nearly — Sex Pistols) perform an intimate acoustic set in the tiny room at Randy Now’s Man Cave in Bordentown, N.J. You might not know the name, but Midge Ure has been Bob Geldof’s right-hand man with all matters associated with Band Aid and Live Aid over the decades. In fact, Midge wrote and produced “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (Geldof gave him a snippet of a discarded Boomtown Rats song at the beginning of the writing process, but has said in at least one interview years later that it’s really Midge’s song) — a song with which he’s had a love-hate relationship over the years, but he seems to have come around to embracing it more recently. Here’s the first part of an amazing documentary, narrated by Midge, about the making of that historic record.
I will be seeing Simple Minds at The Basie in Red Bank, N.J., in late September, which is going to be incredibly awesome.
Anyway, here are photos of me with Midge Ure and Lo Moon to close out this update.
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Just wanted to end 2017 with a quick look back at my running achievements during the past year.
My most important running milestones in 2017, of course, were running in the first two marathons of my life — first, the New Jersey Marathon on April 30 and, then, the Philadelphia Marathon on November 19.
Although I was thrilled to finish my first 26.2-mile race, I was generally disappointed in my marathon debut at the Jersey Shore.
On top of that disappointment, I had to prepare for the 10-mile Broad Street Run the following weekend. Two days after the New Jersey Marathon, I went for a 5-mile workday run during lunch and began experiencing excruciating pain in my right knee at about mile 3. I stretched it out a bit and was able to continue, but it kept on happening during my runs that week.
I tried to doing some things to mitigate the knee issue (ice, stretching, massaging, etc.) and had to resign myself to the fact that I may — for the first time — be unable to finish a race.
But — wearing a knee brace not at all suited for running (because it was all I had at the time) — and fighting through some discomfort the final five miles, I wound up finishing the Broad Street Run in a personal-record 1:27:03.
After the Broad Street Run, I took a three-week break from running to get my knee right again. I would have taken more time off, but had to tune up for a 5K held at my alma mater, Rider University, each June to benefit women’s athletics. Even with my knee issues and the heat that day, I managed to complete that in a respectable 25:02.24.
The next race I did was one that I wasn’t sure I would do until about a month before the event, and that was the Hightstown (N.J.) Triathlon, a sprint-distance tri held each year not too far from where I live. Amazingly, even though I didn’t do any open-water swim training and squeezed in only two or three training rides on the bike, I still finished 76th overall in the event with a personal-best time of 1:21:21. Somehow, despite the 1/4-mile swim and 11.2-mile bike ride preceding it, I ran what was likely one of my top-10 5K times to set that PR with a time of 25:49 during the run portion.
At that point, I turned my attention to training for the Philadelphia Marathon, with the lone exception being one last short race — the WXPN Musicians On Call 5K in early October. Even though the course may have been short by a bit, I finished that race in 23:39.69 — and then got to stay for the ever-popular post-race 80s dance party!
Then it was back to the Philly Marathon. Sadly, I was only able to get in two really long-distance training runs — a 16-miler and an 18-miler — leading up to the race. But I had done a lot of pacing work on my shorter runs and felt ready to vindicate myself from the disappointing marathon debut in April. I just wanted to finish in less than five hours.
And despite wet, brisk conditions and ridiculous, swirling 40+ mph wind gusts, I managed to do just that, finishing in 4:51:22.
So that was my year in running. Oddly, except for the Hightstown Triathlon (the event I made a last-minute decision to do each of the last two years), I don’t have any events lined up yet for 2018. But I’ll be running somewhere. Just trying to figure out what races to do.
Happy New Year!
Just wanted to share a quick update on my training for my first-ever marathon — the 2017 New Jersey Marathon, taking place Sunday, April 30.
Since my last update, I completed my farthest run to date, a 20-mile training run in 3:49:41 on April 9. This marked the final long training run that I did s part of the NJM-organized group training runs, which also included a 16-miler on February 25 and an 18-miler on March 12.
During both group training runs, I ran with the slowest pace group (mostly between 11:30/mi and 12:30/mi pace). During my solo runs, I’m experimenting with some pacing tricks to improve my overall time, with mixed results.
I’ve basically resigned myself to the fact that I’ll likely be finishing somewhere between 4:30:00 and 5:00:00, depending on how things go. I mean, I’d love to surprise myself with a sub-4:30 time on race day, but the chances of that are slim at this point.
As a weather geek, I’ve been monitoring the GFS model runs for the past few days…rain is definitely a threat for coastal New Jersey, although the four model runs have it holding off until after the race or even into the following day, so I hope that trend continues. That said, it’s showing it to be a bit on the warm side, with temps already in the mid-60s by sunrise and going into the mid-80s by mid-afternoon. But, really, if it’s in the 60s/low-70s with overcast skies – with no rain – and a light sea breeze, that would be absolutely fantastic.
And then the following week will be the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philly. This will be my third Broad Street Run in four years. I’m hoping to finish that in less than 1:30:00. That’s right around where I’m at right now for a 10-mile run, so I should be able to achieve that.
If you want to follow my progress, track my training runs via my Instagram feed.
Going into these longer-distance runs, I’ve made a conscious effort to go at a very slow pace. I’m more concerned at this point about covering the distance without struggling or discomfort. So both times on these group training runs, I’ve run with the slowest pace group (mostly between 11:30/mi and 12:30/mi pace).
You may recall that I went into this training last year with the goal of finishing in around 4 hours. I’ve since revised that to a more realistic 4:30:00 or less. But even that is probably way too optimistic. At this point, with a month to go before the marathon, if I can finish in less than 5 hours, I’ll be happy. Also, it gives me way more room to surprise myself with a better result.
Oh, and one more thing…I was selected in the entry lottery for a spot in this year’s 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philly, which takes place one week after the New Jersey Marathon. This will be my third Broad Street Run in four years. I’m hoping to finish that in less than 1:30:00. That’s right around where I’m at right now for a 10-mile run, so I should be able to achieve that.
If you want to follow my progress, track my training runs via my Instagram feed.
In fact, I finally had time to get in the longest-distance run of my life (so far) last weekend, completing a 14.21-mile run in 2:22:02.
This coming Saturday (Feb. 25), I plan on heading out to Long Branch, N.J., to take advantage of a 16-mile training run organized by the New Jersey Marathon folks.
I’m also hoping to do one of the scheduled 18-mile runs or the 20-mile run in the next few weeks.
Again, my goal is to complete the marathon in 4:30:00 or less. Admittedly, it’s going to be tough to meet that goal based on where I’m currently at with my training.
If you want to follow my progress, track my training runs via my Instagram feed.