Help me join the Super Bowl champion Eagles in taking on autism

I recently signed up to run the 5K component of the Eagles Autism Challenge on May 19, 2018. Not only is it a chance to hang out with the reigning Super Bowl champions, but it’s a chance to raise money for autism research and programs. This is especially important to me as my 3-year-old son is autistic.
So, today — World Autism Day — I write to ask you for just a small donation to support my Eagles Autism Challenge 5K run. It would mean the world to me — and to my son.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
– BKunnamed.png

DONATE NOW!

Helping Eagles Autism Challenge is Easy.
Your donation will count towards Brian J Kelley’s fundraising efforts.

My Year in Running: 2017

Just wanted to end 2017 with a quick look back at my running achievements during the past year.

654315_254682350_XLargeMy 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!

636470403013248459
Crossing the finish line

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!

Back in Training: 2017 New Jersey Marathon (4.20.2017)

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.

Back in Training: 2017 New Jersey Marathon (3.29.2017)

So…since my last update on February 22, I’ve made a lot of progress in my training for my first-ever marathon — the 2017 New Jersey Marathon, scheduled to take place Sunday, April 30.

As mentioned in that post, I did complete a 16-mile training run on February 25. A couple of weeks later, as you can see in the picture above, I completed an 18-mile training run.

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.

Back in Training: 2017 New Jersey Marathon (2.22.2017)

16789277_393559117675448_153219152943775744_nWell, it has been a long time since my last update here, but I’m still training for the 2017 New Jersey Marathon, scheduled to take place Sunday, April 30.

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.

2016 Broad Street Run recap

IMG_3028
Left: In my rain-free car with my 2016 Broad Street Run finisher’s medal; right: My Broad Street Run results

Just thought I’d take the time to write a recap of my Broad Street Run experience this past Sunday, May 1.

Despite a cold, soaking rain, I managed to complete the 10-mile trek down Philadelphia’s famed Broad Street in 1:31:52 — amazingly four-plus minutes better than my only other Broad Street Run in 2014 (1:36:17). I say “amazingly” because I was in much better shape in 2014 than I am now, as I was training that year for the Broad Street Run, two triathlons (one sprint, one international) and my first half-marathon (Trenton, NJ).

Then again, I’ve always suspected that I held myself back too much during that first Broad Street Run because I felt too comfortable throughout the race. I hovered around 9:40 per mile during that ’14 BSR and when I got through the first mile this year at 9:07 per mile, I thought I went too hard too soon. I thought I had eased up considerably, but I was still at around 9:07-9:10 per mile after two miles — and I felt fine.

At that point, I said to myself, “Well, it’s miserable out here…it’s cold and wet…if I can wrap this up a few minutes sooner, the better, right?” So I kept going at that pace until mile 6. At that point, I definitely eased up a bit, but it still wasn’t by a whole lot. When I hit mile 7, though, and my Nike+ Running app told me my elapsed time was 1:02 and change, I realized that I had a legitimate shot to beat my 2014 time by a decent margin (considering my usual 5K time these days is around 28 minutes)…so I picked it up again and just kept going to the finish line.

So, in pretty bad weather, I had a pretty good run. And even better was the fact that I was raising money for the American Cancer Society, but I’m actually still a bit short of my goal. Fortunately, there’s still some time for you to help by making a donation here: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/bkelleyBSR2016

Now, though, I feel the need to discuss some of the bad (non-weather-related) parts of the day.

I know the Broad Street Run — with 40,000 runners — is a daunting event to pull off for the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the race organizer. But there are logistical issues that certainly need to be addressed.

2016BSR_Start
Taken with my wet phone through a wet, transparent armband at the starting area. Don’t know which was more of a mess…the weather, the organization near the starting area or my photography (OK, that last one is usually always a mess).

The biggest issue is egress at key locations. They need to assign volunteers to areas where access in and out is crucial. Near the starting corrals, there is a walled schoolyard with just two access points (that I know of) — one off of Broad Street and another off Somerville Road near Broad. This is a staging area with porta-potties, water, etc. — where most of the 40,000 runners use the bathroom one last time before a 10-mile race that starts at 8 a.m. (for the elite runners in the field). At 7:45 a.m., I tried to get out of the schoolyard so I could get to my starting corral. Instead, I stood in the same spot for nearly 20 minutes at the gateway leading out to Broad Street. Nobody was moving. Runners and spectators were just standing there and nobody seemed interested in telling people to move so runners could get to the corrals. Finally, around 8:05 a.m., we started squeezing through and I did manage to get to my corral (gray) before its starting time. But those stressful moments didn’t need to happen. Fortunately, this seems to be an easy fix — assign a few, trained race volunteers to those access points so they can control pedestrian traffic flow. By 7:50 a.m., priority must be given to runners trying to get out of the schoolyard so they can reach their respective starting corrals in time.

There are other issues with egress just beyond the finish line at the Navy Yard, too. For instance, if you want to go all out at the end, good luck trying to stop without crashing into a horde of runners who apparently feel it’s a good idea to come to a dead stop about three feet after the stripe. Race staff needs to do a better job of keeping everyone moving through the straightaway beyond the finish line and herding everyone to the turn into the finishers’ area.

Again, I know this race is a challenge to pull off and, for the most part, it’s great. There are just some simple things that can be done to make it even better.

Oh, and one more thing…the Broad Street Run started in 1980. It is 2016. That made this year’s event the 37th running of the Broad Street Run (or 37th annual Broad Street Run). However, the announcer and some media outlets called it the “37th anniversary of the Broad Street Run.” Please look up the word and meaning of “anniversary” because it’s not the same as “annual.” The first anniversary of the Broad Street Run would have been in 1981, making this year the 36th anniversary of the Broad Street Run (or 2016-1980=36). This misunderstanding of the word led to “35th Anniversary” incorrectly making its way onto the 2014 medals, which I wrote about at the time.

A new beginning…

George Street Playhouse logoI am pleased to announce that I will be joining the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., as a marketing and public relations associate.

It has been a long-time dream of mine to work in the arts, and that dream has finally come true. That makes this move, essentially, a career reboot for me so it feels very much like a new beginning. I know I will love every bit of the experience, though.

Very soon, I will be helping to share the many stories of George Street Playhouse, especially those focusing on its amazing educational programs, and advancing the playhouse’s mission of enriching people’s lives by producing world-class theatre.

I am very proud and humbled to be joining the wonderful staff at the George Street Playhouse. For more information about the theater, please visit http://georgestreetplayhouse.org or check out the George Street Playhouse on Facebook and Twitter.