Monday, April 29, 2013

Evolution,Not Revolution

Since I'm sans pc at home here's a three day recap of the past weekend.
Friday A Kodak moment if ever there was one,yours truly in Friday training run at 11!!!
Like I said in a previous entry I need to mix things up and be flexible if I want my cake and eat it so after the "technical difficulties" on Thursday w/ the pc I had no option but to run on Friday if I wanted another 30 mile week,to be honest it was a mild change of pace to run on a Friday and I enjoyed my jaunt by "the old lady" Franklin Field w/ the Penn Relays going on inside......even if that meant a change of plan for tomorrow.....

Saturday W/ lower Spruce St,Franklin Field and probably South St bridge all more congested than a 40 a day smoker w/ emphysema in the dead of winter I knew I needed a plan b for my run.
A number of options were available to me,not to run.....which wasn't an option,revisit my old haunt Cobbs Creek Parkway which I didn't really fancy,loop around Clark Park which felt like a backwards step  OR here's a novel idea got to a track.......
My trips to any track in the past eight months have been few and far between but thankfully I could still remember my way to Temple's track w/out consulting a map or looking up directions online!!
I do plan to reintroduce repeats and a tempo run into my rotation in a few weeks time so rather than throw myself"in at the deep end" I opted to run 6 miles on the track to see what kind of pace I could hold.
Sadly a stopwatch malfunction on lap 1 of the 24 laps meant I missed my opening split and rather than start again I opted to run the first mile untimed and then time the final 5 miles/20 laps.
34.34 for the final 5 miles which means more or less sub 7 minute pace,not great if I was running track this season but I'll take for a marathon AND it should be pointed out it's late April,I have till late October to lower than to 6.5,6,5.5 so all in all a good lunchtimes work.

Sunday nice easy 6 miler to get the gunk out of my legs from the 6 miles on the track on Saturday,back to back 30 mile weeks....when could I last lay claim to that fact?
29 weeks till Philly,a lot of work and a lot of miles to be ran between now and then but these past two weeks have felt like I'm committed to the cause again,something sadly lacking for the previous eight months,next step upping the 6 milers to 8 miles.

Friday, April 26, 2013


I feel like chicken shit on a farm this week.....I'm all over the place! so here's a brief recap of the hits and misses of the week so far.
Tuesday after going public w/ my intentions of running the Philly marathon I promptly sat out Tuesdays run........
In my defense I will cite exhaustion from Sundays exploits at Union Transfer and the Killing Joke  show as the reason,asides from being on my feet for the best part of three hours it was 12.25am when I rolled in and was up again by 5.25am the following morning,it's funny that shit used to come naturally like water off a ducks back in my 20's and maybe even my 30's  but at almost 50 now it takes its toll and maybe I need to examine my clubbin'/giggin' schedule this summer in the build up to Philly.

Wednesday another warm afternoon like last Wednesday but this time I'd didn't wilt under the heat and ran my fastest  time to date on the out and back loop....more of that to come in a few mins.....

Thursday another day missed but unlike recent months whenI've rolled in at 2.50am from a nite of clubbin and then become almost a fixture on the recliner I was actually up and very mobile yesterday,it's amazing the change of attitude now that I've set my mind to training for the marathon.
Sadly my hopes of running were flushed down the karsie as I spent over an hour pissballing around w/ my laptop trying to get internet access,I won't bore you w/ the details but b4 I knew it was later than I wanted but I moved some things around so that his afternoon when I get home from work I'll be able to run instead,thus keeping me on track for another 30 mile week.

A few firsts this week,my first verbal volley at a only took 6 days! I realize I disappear when I turn sideways but I was more than visible when I left the curb on the corner of 58th & Cedar b4 you acted like friggin' Mario Andretti in the Indy 500 trying to get a jump start on the field,nobody on that intersection was left to wonder my feelings on the matter!!
Lost my first toenail....I feel like a real runner now,that telltale scarlet discolouring beneath my toenail told me all I need to know,one down,nine to go!!
Remember that splinter I talked about last week? friggin thing was stuck in my heal for 9 days b4 I was able to pull it out,it was almost a meter long,I kept pulling it and it kept coming like when a magician pulls a handkerchief out and it's followed by another one,then another one....
My first verbal abuse from Joe Public, as a runner I know it goes w/ the territory,if I had a dollar for everytime I've heard"Run Forest Run" since "Forest Gump was released in 94 I'd be loaded by now.
I found the 'run faster faggot' comment amusing since it  came from a drunken frat boy from Upenn ,frankly I expect better abuse from an Ivy League educated student,if that's the best you've got you better pay mum and dad back some of their Ivy League college tuition fees,and how's my sexual preference being questioned here,you're the one up on a roof top w/ a dozen frat brothers drinking beer w/ your shirts off???
Oh and for what it's worth your bullshit lead me to a 59.06 time 48 seconds faster than Monday.....go fuck yourself and good luck find a job when you graduate.....wanker!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

You Heard It Here First

After some careful consideration,I Kevin Francis Patrick Forde of questionable mind and even more questionable body hereby declare my intention to train for and {fingers crossed} hopefully complete the Philly marathon on Nov 17th.....I'll pause as the magnitude of that announcement sinks in.........

So how did I come to make this decision?the answer/answers are not so straightforward but hopefully by blogs end I'll have made it as clear as I can.
First and foremost allow me to state for the record this is  NOT me turning my back on track after 7 wonderful seasons on the oval I found myself bereft of the fire,passion and determination that allowed me the success I've enjoyed between 06 and 12.
The fact over the last 8 months I've blown off as many training runs as I've managed should underline my lack of desire to compete this season,why that was I don't know but the fact is not only did I take 6 weeks off between the end of September to mid November but I also failed to blog for three months....that's just not me.

Having scrapped the indoor season due to the lack of effort on my part to make that happen I did harbour ambitions of an outdoor season but again the fire that has driven me throughout my 37 years and counting career just wasn't there,I am someone who needs to do things from the heart,running,blogging,music,relationships etc if my heart isn't in it I have a hard time giving it my all,and I'm not really a "going through the motions" kind of person.
Then came the issue of returning home for the first time in 10 years, unless you count my brief layover in Heathrow airport flying home from Athens Greece after the Athens marathon in 05....which I don't then it's been 10 years since I went home and I needed to put that right,frankly a trip to Kansas for outdoor nationals didn't seem fiscally doable this summer and frankly if I'm not doing Nationals then why train for a track season?

The option "not to run" was never an option,running is in my blood,it's a big part of my dna and it's what I'm known for, so the thought of not running this year having short changed myself  since August of last year just didn't sit well w/ me and in early April the seeds of returning to the marathon began to bubble just below the surface.
When I ran the Athens marathon in 05 it rounded off a 20 year arc from first marathon to then last,to my credit I never said it was my final marathon but at that point in time having ran 14 of them in 20 years and 9 of them in 6 years I felt the need for a new challenge and so I returned to my track roots.
There's always been a sense of unfinished business w/ the marathon for me,having ran them in my 20's 30's and 40's I've always felt the door was open to run one in my 50's and it just so happens this years Philly marathon has been bumped up from it's traditional 4th Sunday of November to the 3rd,November 17th...3 days after my 50th b'day......writing,wall etc etc!!

Once I got serious about track in 07 onwards I often wondered how well I could've ran a marathon applying the type of training I used for track in my marathon training,while I managed an 8 and 6 record {8 sub three hours marathons,6 plus three hour} back in the day I always said my methods were unorthodox now I get to see how well I can tackle the rigours of  26.2 miles w/ a more balanced training regime.
I don't doubt over the next 30 weeks I'll second guess my decision and publically and privately bitch to the high heavens about long training runs and upping my mpw from 30/50 to 60 and 70 mpw but if my old bones can hold up I relish the challenge ahead of me,already in a week of training I feel more focused and more driven than I have the entire past 8 months and w/ that I look ahead to what the coming weeks and months bring.

Beyond Nov 17th I really don't know what to expect,getting to the starting line at 49/50 will be one thing,I know runners older than me manage it so why should I be any different? 8 year gap between marathons or not when I ran Philly in 01 I hadn't ran a marathon in over 10 and a half years since Boston 91 and I managed then so let's roll the dice and see what happens.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Game On

Back to back 6 milers on the weekend....I know.....this is getting serious....finally! actually beginning to feel like a runner and not some imposter walking around in running gear as has been the case of late.
In fairness there have been a few weekends in the recent past I did get my arse out the door on both a Saturday and Sunday.....but even then it was only to loop around Clark Park this weekend I continued to reintroduce myself to the Schuylkill's about to become my office for the next several months

It was my plan to get a semi early start on Saturday rather than fall into the old trap of sitting on the recliner playing "catch up" w/ my dvr which has been the problem the last several weeks/months and to that end I got a little help from "Postman Pat"
When I arrived home on Friday I had a "we tried to deliver" card in my mail which meant getting over to the local post office on 52nd & Kingsessing b4 12pm on Saturday,not the worst thing in the world as it would get me up and dressed.....two things not necessarily happening in recent months and also I figured the walk there and back would get the blood flowing b4 the run.....the briskness of the morning air if nothing else woke me up!
It's been a long time since I've done the out and back on a Saturday  a day that's been reserved for track repeats{and will be again in a few weeks time once I get my wheels back under me}and I was relishing a  clear run along Spruce St to the South St bridge once I cut in from Baltimore Ave at 35th St unlike during the week when I run into all the UPENN  HUP and CHOP pedestrian traffic......only to catch the tailend of a UPENN pep rally, that said the rhythmic drumming helped w/ the cadence of my running so no harm no foul there....and the cheerleaders looked cute also!!!
Marginally slower than  Thursdays time by 58 seconds but still quicker than what I ran on Tue and Wed......

Sundays run was always going to  go one of two ways,due to the scheduling gods  the Spurs Man City game was kicking off 8.30am here and I planned to run after the final whistle around 10.30am give or take.
A defeat and Spurs could pretty much kiss their Champions League hopes goodbye and I'd be running angry,a win and we'd keep the pressure on North London rivals arsenal and fellow Londoners chelski for one of the two last available Champions League spots, a three way battle and bragging rights across London would ensure running inspired.......
For 75 minutes it looked like I'd be doing my best John Lydon "anger is an energy" impression as the Lillywhites trailed 1.0......and then just like that bang!bang!!bang!!!  three goals in the space of under 7 minutes meant Spurs won 3.1 we're still in w/ a shot of Champions League footie next season and lo and behold yours truly ran his fastest time of the week!!.
Six days in running can be a long time on Tuesday when I went out hard and reached the Lloyd Hall turnaround in 29.44 I folded on the inbound leg to clock 63.07,not today made the turn in 29.41 and finished in 60.04,little by little it's getting to repeat all of what I managed this week next week beginning tomorrow.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Brought To You By The Good People At Granny Smiths......

Steady on Jeeves! back to back to back 6 miles.......someone may mistake me for a real runner if I keep this lark up!!!
Following another of my all to recent lapses in training I was hell bent on getting stuck in again....for what feels like the umpteenth time in the last eight months however Monday's proposed 6 miler out and back along the Schuylkill Banks got scuppered b4 it had a chance to begin.....

In the freakiest of accidents I somehow managed to lodge a splinter into my left heal on the weekend and me being me it was in  location I couldn't quite reach,the prospect of my heal striking the ground repeatedly over a 6 mile run w/ a splinter stuck in it didn't inspire me to "lace em up" so I sat down on the recliner and turned on the tv......the news of the carnage from Boston was front and center.....
The following day splinter or no splinter I was determined to run,I made a cushion for the affected area to minimize the discomfort and headed out for my run
In a symbol of solidarity to the fallen in Boston I dug out my 05 Boston marathon dri fit shirt,my small token gesture to those who had lost their lives and limbs the day b4,I knew up and down the nation and probably world wide runners were doing something to honour the victims,prayers,lighting candles,running maybe all three I opted to pray and run.

Wednesday saw me back out there again this time dealing w/ something I haven't dealt w/ since August or September....71 degree heat.
It's funny how when your not in full blown running/training mode the fundamentals can slip through the cracks,I knew it was going to a warm afternoon and yet I didn't hydrate sufficiently during the course of the day so I had nobody but myself to blame for the soft shoe shuffle along the Schuylkill Banks, not that time was the be all and end all of the run but I was 3.04 slower than Tuesday,frankly I was just happy to finish and enjoy a pint of Strawberry milk and a cold shower,when I called it a nite at 9pm I knew I was beat....but not beaten!

Throughout yesterday my legs felt heavy,something I haven't experienced for a while mainly because I just haven't pushed the envelope that hard,however something that has alarmingly become natural is running up the white flag.
W/ heavy legs and then heavy eyes on the trolley ride home I found myself in an all too frequent scenario of saying to myself"I'm tired,I don't feel like running this afternoon".......even I know that's bollocks but somehow over the last several months I've allowed that inner voice to call the shots way too often,reaching into my "Inner Cher" I remembered in the late 80's/early 90's when Cher was the spokesperson for Ballys health club and one of her commericals was her  saying "we can all find excuses for not going to the gym,but that's all they are,excuses".....
And w/ that I wasn't taking a "zen like" attitude w/ my recliner and becoming one w/ it,I was dressed in my running gear and out the door for a third crack at this route in three days.

I thought about the victims of Boston,how some of them may never run again and here I am fannying around claiming my legs are sore....PLEASE!!! not only did I reach Lloyd Hall{my turnaround point} 16 seconds up on yesterday but I  proceeded to take almost 5 minutes off of Wednesdays time...not bad for someone who felt tired and was whining about heavy legs!!!!
Hopefully this weekend will see me continue to do what I'm meant to do,get the run in and then worry about the rest of my day,it's like the old AC/DC song says"It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll" and I  was born to rock....and run......recess is over class school is in session!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


While I've been a little tardy w/ "Running Free" of late I couldn't allow the horror of Mondays Boston Marathon bombings to go w/out comment.
First and foremost my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this barbaric act of cowardice and also the family,friends and loved ones of the victims,even though it's eight years since my last Boston marathon and also eight years since my last marathon period I still have friends in the marathon community to the best of my knowledge everyone I know is ok but having watched the moment both bombs went off over and over since Monday I can't shake the thought of the innocent bystanders caught in the impact and some how I doubt I ever will.
The runner in me feels terrible for the runners who were unable to finish the marathon,ok I get that when human lives are at risk at the end of the day the Boston marathon is just a race however I of all people understand what it is to not only run a marathon {14 in 20 years between 85 and 05} but also run the Boston marathon{three times 91,02,05},there's that great Emil Zatopek quote "if you want to run something run the 100 meters,if you want to experience something run a marathon". which always sums up what it's like to run 26.2 miles......if it was easy everyone would run one!

I remember watching the first London marathon in 81 and thinking "I wouldn't mind some of that" at that point in time I hadn't run further than 6 miles but later that  year I ran my first ever 10 mile and 12 runs....they nearly killed me so maybe it wasn't the worst thing in the world my 82 London marathon application was rejected...this however didn't stop me from having a typical teen aged angst "I quit" meltdown but w/in a year I was back running again.
By 84 I'd gotten serious about running a marathon if London was going to keep rejecting my application as it had again for the 84 marathon I'd run somewhere else first and hope that would help my application,I became fluent in 10 milers which although they rendered me almost incapable of anything for a day afterwards were essential if I had any hopes of eventually running 26 miles.
In August of 84 I ran my first ever 10 mile race and then in September my first ever half marathon I believed I was closing in on "the big one" only to have things grind to a halt at the end of October when my father died unexpectedly.

A year later after finally knuckling down in training I ran my first ever Marathon in Harrow Middlesex just outside of London and surprised myself by breaking the three hour barrier w/ a 2.55.11. finish and six months later I finally got to run the London marathon although I hadn't trained as hard for London as I had in Harrow
By 87 I'd now moved to Philadelphia and suddenly the prospect of the "big three" New York,Chicago and of course the grandaddy of them all Boston was very real.
Sadly in the 87 Philly marathon I "bonked" as badly as one can in a marathon,suffering dehydration it was a testimony to my bull headedness that I even finished,back then you had to post a qualifying time to make it into Boston and my time was 3.00 to this day I still recall hitting the 24 mile marker on W.River Drive and seeing the digital clock turn from 2.59.59. to 3.00.00. I turned to the runner alongside me who I didn't know and shrugged "there goes Boston" I offered meekly

It would be another three years b4 I ran another marathon,New York 1990,of course me being me I had to do things the hard way,not only had I given up on my application but I was now working third shift.....
Six weeks prior to the marathon on the eve of the old Philadelphia Distance Run I got official notice I'd been accepted into the NYC marathon, now I had to up my mileage from 13 miles to 20 miles and do it in the middle of the afternoon!
There were several afternoon I would wake up at 3pm and head out to the Art Museum Loop  and just grit my teeth to get my 14,16,18 mile runs in and then take a nap in the evening b4 heading to work at 10.30pm....hardly text book marathon training 101 but then again most of my early marathon training was me making it up as I went along.
Somehow it all paid off w/  a BQ {Boston Qualifier} of 3.10 I produced a 3.06.2. the first words out of my mouth crossing the finish line in Central Park were"Boston here I come!!!"

Having finally made it to "the promised land" I was determined to leave no stone unturned in my preparation for Boston,having heard all about Heartbreak Hill I made sure to incorporate hills in my long runs and would tackle the Belmont Plateau as winter wore off and spring began,in running as in life there are no guarantees so if this was to be my only crack at Boston{it turned out to be the first of three}I needed to be sure I made the most of it.
The hill work on Belmont Plateau paid off in spades they say "ignorance is bliss" so as I made my way up a hill I turned and asked the runner next to me if Heartbreak Hill was anywhere around here,in a rather pained voice he informed me "this is Heartbreak Hill"...."really" I thought to myself as I left him in my wake I expected something more akin to the North face of the Eiger but like said ignorance is bliss.

A few miles later running along Commonwealth Ave I looked up to see the John Hancock tower which I knew was at the finish line,I remember looking over to my right and the runner next to me had also seen it,we smiled and nodded the finish line was close by.
I can still recall making a right hand turn off Commonwealth Ave onto Hereford Street and then a left onto Boylston St where your only 385 yards from the finish,I still recall the crowds cheering madly for all of us as we neared the finish line it was a magical moment made even more poignant by setting a then pr of 2.54.3. which still ranks as my 4th fastest marathon of all time.

Those are the memories of Boylston St I cherish,not what I saw on my tv on Monday at 2.50pm,I don't know if there's another Boston marathon in me muchless another marathon but somewhere deep in my subconscious lies the thought that maybe after the horror of Monday I need to create a new Boylston St memory.....

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Shake It Up

It was a toss up between The Cars "Shake It Up" or Staind "Brake The Cycle" for the title for this run.
After weeks if not months of looping around Clark Park I felt it was time to......shake it up and opted for my old 6 mile out and back run down to the Schuylkill Banks and out to Lloyd Hall b4 turning and back.

While it's officially Spring it was still half zip fleece and running pants for yours truly although I did dispense w/ the ski hat and gloves....hopefully I won't need them again anytime b4 November/December.
It felt good to get back to this route,once I hit the Banks it's a lot more runner friendly and it helps to have targets out on the run to pull me along.

A major plus today was that since I last ran this route they've finished the footbridge over the Conrail tracks at Locust Point where the Banks start,they were constructing it whenever I  cut through Millward Gardens last,no more sprinting to beat the gates closing as the CSX freight train makes its way along the tracks,no more standing waiting for the gates to open or having to take the stairs on the Locust St bridge.

Felt I got a lot more out of today's run than alot of my numerous loops around Clark Park of late,maybe it's all psychosomatic but it did feel good to shake up what may've become a stale routine,onwards....

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Play Ball....Or Not!

I had hoped the beginning of April would herald the start of a return to serious training however not  for the first time yesterday fatigue won the battle of the day forcing me to sit this one out.
For the past several weeks although thankfully in waves and not in a constant I've been suffering what could best be described as a mild form of insomnia,some nites I only sleep for a few hours or not at all,those nites are particularly brutal as I then spend the next day feeling like a Zombie and frankly running when I get home rates somewhat lower on the "to do" list.

Case in point Sunday I went to bed at 11pm but never felt like I fell asleep,I got up at 2.20am to watch tv till 3am and tried again to fall dice!
Up again at 4am to watch tv till 5am where not for the first time in recent weeks I got dressed and left for work early since my regularly scheduled wake up time is 5.25am,yeah it's great I'm getting to work at 6am or 6.15am instead of 6.25am when I normally get here but the lack of sleep is killing me,I got home at 4pm and even though I wanted to get changed and  head out to run instead I slumped into the recliner,in fact I was so tired I ended up sleeping on the living room floor from 9.30pm till 2.30am where I then tossed and turned for three hours till the trust alarm sounded at 5.25am.
Five hours sleep at least should be enough to get my out running this evening.