Monday, October 24, 2011


What a weekend! With our first cool front of the fall season coming through South Florida, I decided Saturday to stretch my long run from the prior weekend's 10 miles up to 16 miles. The first 9 miles went fine, but during the last 7 my feet started to ache and I wondered if my energy would last through the entire run. I got through it, but ended up wondering if I'll ever hit that easy glide through a long run that I've felt in training for other marathons and long distance triathlons. Have I crossed some fitness/age hump where I'll never hit that "I feel I can run all day" stride? Or am I simply level jumping in my long runs and not getting enough base mileage under my belt? I hope to know the answer to that in the next couple of weeks.

The big event of the weekend, however, occurred on Sunday morning's ride. When I head over to our groups usual meeting place at Downtown Bicycles, I notice some storm clouds over the beach. When I get to the strip mall, only Helen, a strong triathlete, has shown up. Helen tells me she is only riding 30 miles since she has the Miami 70.3 triathlon coming up next weekend. She is riding north on A1a to join the G-2 riding group that is starting at Atlantic Blvd. at 7:30 AM. As I think the group ride may be at too aggressive a pace given my 16 mile run the day before, I tell Helen I'm going to ride solo, and I leave her at Atlantic and A-1a.

My ride north is fairly uneventful, but for the various puddles I need to go around from prior earlier rain. I make it to my planned turn around at Spanish River Park and turn to head back south. However, as I near the Hillsboro Bridge, a light rain starts to fall that picks up to a fairly crummy rain that pretty much soaks me. "Oh well," I think, "You can only get so wet." As I ride through Lauderdale-By-the-Sea, the rain has stopped, but the roads and my bike are still pretty wet. This stretch of A-1a has a lot of condominiums and small motels along the road where a lot of out of town tourists stay. I'm always a little concerned about this area since a lot of older drivers live in the condos and the out of towners are less aware that bicyclists ride through this area on weekends.

Sure enough, a small red pickup truck facing the road, pulls into the road about one car length ahead of me without the driver noticing me. He pulls onto the road and I feel like I just dodged a bullet. I've always told my riding buddies that the problem is that these drivers just don't notice a bicyclist. We have too small a profile than they are used to looking for before pulling onto the street. I thank God the guy didn't run into me as he pulled onto the road. Little do I know, however, that I'm not through with this driver. Without hitting his breaks or putting on his turn signal, he starts a right hand turn back into the hotel parking lot...IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF ME!!!

I jam on my somewhat damp breaks and try turning right into the parking lot, but realize I'm screwed. I smash hard into the side of the truck's cab and am on the ground stunned before I can process what happened. A driver coming up behind us pulls off the side of the road ahead of us, jumps out of his car over to where I'm laying on the ground and asks, "Are you OK?"

"I have no idea," I say. "Let me see if I can get up." The second before I hit the truck, I was sure I was going to be severely injured. I shudder even now as I think about how badly I thought I was going to be hurt. I'm thinking broken teeth, broken bones or worse. As I pick myself up off the ground and start checking myself of broken bones or bleeding, I'm amazed. While I'm a little sore in the left shoulder and thigh, I find I'm not only not bleeding anywhere, but that I'm able to fully move my left shoulder and leg. The driver of the truck is an black guy who appears to be in his late 50s who has his wife in the truck with him. He's busy apologizing while the driver of the other vehicle tells him that you've got to look out for bicyclists along A-1a. While these two are busy talking to each other, I check my bike. Other than the front break being knocked out of alignment, my bike also appears to be OK. Not that I can ride the last 4 miles home with the break rubbing against the carbon wheel. Not to mention that I'm kind of stunned from slamming into the side of the truck. In any event, I decide against calling the police to report an accident and accept an offer of a ride home by the driver of the other vehicle.

My unfortunate take away from this incident is that I no longer feel that I can ride the open roads of A-1a. This was the second incident this year in which I'm nearly in a major accident due to a driver coming out of a parking lot onto A-1a. In the prior incident in February, a driver pulled quickly up to the rode from a big lot. Instead of breaking at the end of the lot, he pulls all the way though the bike path and up to the line that separates the bike path from the road. As the parking lot was hidden by a ficus hedge, I didn't see the car coming. I was able to slam on my breaks just in time to avoid hitting the car, but it all happened so quickly, I was unable to shout out to my wife Salome, riding behind me, that I was breaking. Our bikes collided, but we miraculously do not fall. Other biker who witnessed the incident, yelled at the driver as they rode by, but the driver took off either oblivious to what he'd done or not wanting to face our wrath. Salome gave up riding on A-1a that day and has stuck to riding our spin bike in our home gym since then.

For me, Sunday's incident was strike number three. For those that read my prior blog, you know that I was hit by a 89 year old lady during a ride in Clermont, Florida two years ago. When I think about how badly I could have been hurt in each of these incidents, I feel like Bruce Willis in the film Unbreakable in which unbeknownst to himself, he is a superhero who goes without a scratch in the various accidents he's been in throughout his life. Well, I know I'm no superhero. I may be quick to figure how to roll with the physics of a situation to minimize the impact of an unavoidable collision, or I may just be damn lucky. In any event, I've decided that too many people in my life depend on me to continue taking the risk of serious injury. While I love riding along A-1a, I no longer feel it is responsible for me to do so. I know too many people who have gotten hit and hurt to keep taking chances of a serious injury.

I can use my spin bike at home or go to spin class to keep my riding skills up for triathlons. Besides, I read that some of the professional triathletes do the bulk of their bike training indoors. I'll still ride where outdoors where I can ride without the large amount of traffic we have in South Florida, but I bid A1a goodbye. The problem with South Florida bicycling isn't that the streets are too crowded with cars. The problem is that the drivers of the cars are just not that good at driving. Too my friends who I know will continue to ride A-1a: "Let's be careful out there."

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Scotty, I Need More Power!"

Ironman friend and riding buddy Maria had turned the big 5-0 a few weeks back and decided to celebrate with a 50 mile bike ride this Sunday. How could I say no to a group ride followed by a brunch? Knowing I had this ride set for Sunday, I co-ordinate with training buddy John to do a 12 to 14 mile on run on Saturday with the group that leaves out of Holiday Park at 6:30 AM.

About 8 runners gathered Saturday morning, and we start off on our run. I'm fine through about the 5 mile mark of the run, when my energy level just drops severely. As I drop off the back of the pack, I'm wondering if I'm relapsing from the cold I was getting over, am under-trained, or I'm overheating from the humidity level. As my only symptom is feeling like a limp rag, I figure I'm just short of energy. Unfortunately, I had run out of goo packs and have no way to jump start the energy stores. While I always carry cab fare in case I can't complete a long run, I decide that as I'm at the mid-point of a 10 mile loop, I should just run the next 5 miles slow and get the mileage in.

Nothing sucks worse than a long run when you don't feel the energy to complete the run. I'm not running that much slower, but the perceived effort makes it feel a lot slower. As I come to about the nine and a half mile mark, I come across John going back out for another 3 mile loop. "Turn around," John says as he passes me. "No, I've got no energy," I reply. I feel so bad about my run that I tell the other runners hanging out back at the park to let John know that I wasn't feeling well and am going home. No need for an after run, breakfast analysis of a crummy run. That afternoon, I make sure to stop by the running store and get a new case of Hammer Gels.

The next morning, as I pack my bike in my car, I wonder if I'm going to bonk on the ride. I hadn't been on a ride since before I left for Europe. This could be trouble. To make matters worse, a storm front was stationed off of the coast and the winds were predicted at 15 to 20 miles per hour. Oh well, I can't miss the "50 for 50" ride.

About 8 riders show up at Maria and we're met by 4 more as we reach A-1a. Being a bit cautious, I stay mid pack on the outbound, but take my turn pulling on the into the wind outbound ride. I'm holding my own, but wonder if I'll run out of gas again today. As we start our return ride, the wind is somewhat at our backs. I take the lead and feel pretty good about myself. Unfortunately, I'm feeling a little too good and start to drop some riders. I realize I'm a crummy lead rider, which is why I like the solo riding of triathlons. I pull back to a consistent pace and share the lead with other riders. At about mile 45, I start to lose steam and drop off the back of the pack. OK, so the dreaded energy drop off didn't occur until near the end of the ride. I glad that I was able to complete the full 50 miles. Brunch afterwards at Maria's house was fabulous.

I'm not sure what the drop in energy level was all about on Saturday, but I'm glad it didn't effect Sunday's ride. I just hope it was a fluke and I'm back on track for my next long run.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


When you go scuba diving with friends on a boat, you take turns diving and staying on the boat. The team stays on the boat has some idea of how long the dive team will be under water diving based on an estimation of the depth of the dive and the amount of air in the tank. When a diver doesn't surface in the estimated time, the guys on the boat start to wonder. Did we miscalculate the amount of down time the divers had? Did they drift away from the boat and we need to start looking for them drifting away from the boat, but on the surface? Or worse, did they run out of air? Are they still alive?

Well, I've been away from blogging for almost six weeks. I now resurface. No worries, I'm OK. I'm still training for the Philly Marathon in late November, but I did get side tracked for awhile. First, my wife & I went on a 10 day trip to Europe stopping in Budapest, Vienna and Prague. It was connected to a Florida Bar Conference. It was a good time traveling with good friends. My only problem was that there was so much history, art and architecture to absorb that after a while, the sponge that is my brain had trouble absorbing all the information. Thus starts a new phase in which I've ordered history books on the areas which should occupy my free reading time for months, if not years to come.

I did manage to get in a run tours of both Budapest and Prague, but had to take a rain-check in running in Vienna as it was literally raining and windy the days we were in Vienna. Salome & I managed to see an opera at the state opera house in Vienna, a string quartet in Prague, and a choral concert in Prague. All in all, a great trip.

My only problem with trips to Europe is the return flights home. I seem to get over the pond OK, but after about 6 hours of flight time on the return, my respiratory and immune systems start to loose the battle of recirculated air and onslaught attack of the germs from the communal cesspool they call bathrooms in coach. By the time we make it to our connecting flight in New York for the last leg flight to Ft. Lauderdale, my throat is scratchy and my eyes are itchy. Sure enough, I come down with some Euro-virus and am out of training for 10 day.

I been back to training for the last couple of weeks and hope to be ready to roll in for the Philly Marathon. I'll try to surface more regularly just to give the "OK" signal.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

28 and Counting

How many marathons have you run? Most runners keep track of this number. It usually comes up in conversation when you discuss your running with runners and non-runners alike. It's hard to keep a count of the various half-marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks I've run. The same holds true for sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. However, I do keep a count of the 70.3s and the one Ironman event I've done.

It was easy to keep track of the number of marathons I ran when I could rattle them off in order and could tick them off on my fingers. As the number got larger, however, it got harder to keep count. After awhile, I kept an Excel spreadsheet with times and dates of my marathons. While the time trend-line is no longer getting shorter, I've had some great travel experiences over the years. Today, that number stands at 28. My wife thinks I should count the run portion of my Ironman in my marathon count, but I feel that's cheating. It wasn't a marathon; it was the run portion of an Ironman. In any event, I don't count it and the number stands at 28.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with deteriorating cartilage in the big toe of my left foot. As my doctor told me, I've got arthritis. It's probably genetically based , but exasperated by over-use by running. My doc gave me the additional good news that the arthritis would start to gravitate to other parts of my body. Sure enough, in the last few years the aches have spread to both feet and my knees. When I tore the medial meniscus of my right knee late last year, the writing was on the wall. Either I stop doing long endurance events, or I face a future of less functional leg and feet joints in my later years. Currently, I can still handle distance runs, but the Aleve after a long run is more necessary these days and sometimes less effective than in the past.

As I contemplate how many more marathons I want to risk, that total number looms large. As my son Alex points out, 26 would have been a cool number to have stopped at given the marathon is a 26 mile event. I've countered that if I'd done that, I would have missed running the Paris and London Marathons. Both of these I wouldn't have missed for both the travel adventure and the beauty of each of those courses. Thus, the number stands at 28.

I have several friends that have run 30 plus marathons before they gave up the distance. That seems like a cool number to have reached. It seems to say that one has had a long and complete history of running the marathon distance. Sure, there are runners that do all 50 States; some who've run 100 marathons. That clearly will not be me. I know my marathon days are numbered, but I feel I should be able to knock off two more to get to that next plateau of 30.

With this in mind, I registered for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th, 2011. I've run the Philly Distance Classic, a half marathon in September, which I liked a lot. The course for the first half of the marathon is that same course. I've always had the Philly Marathon on my radar as it was always promoted as a good race at which one could achieve a Boston Qualifier. While I no longer concern myself with qualifying for Boston, I still would like to include Philly in my list of marathons I've run. As my wife, Salome grew up in Delaware, we will use it to tour both Philadelphia and her former neighborhoods in Delaware with our son Alex. If any of my marathon buddies would like to join in, let me know. Registration is still open. The more the merrier I always say.

After that, who knows. Perhaps I'll extend my Miami Half Marathon registration in January to the full marathon event. It would be my 4th Miami Marathon, which is one of my favorite local races. Either that, or I could be tempted by my other marathon buddies to run a foreign marathon in Europe or Asia. But after hitting number 30, I'll probably start to focus on half marathons, 10 milers or 10K races with national reputations. One thing is for sure: I'm coming to towards the end of the line for my marathon career.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Team RWB

If there was one word I could used to describe my friend Mandy Miller it would be "dedicated." Mandy is a multiple Ironman Triathlete, Marathoner, Ultra-marathoner and even an Ultra-Ironman. She's done the Marathon De Sables, a six day marathon across the Sahara Desert in Morocco. She's done Kona, Ironman France and ultra marathon's of varying distances. The list goes on and on, just like her. She keeps going and going like the Energizer rabbit.

Mandy recently dedicated herself to being co-race director for a series of running events being put on by Team RWB, which stands for Team Red, White & Blue. Team RWB is a 501(c)(3) charity that does fund raising through sponsorship of athletes at marathons, triathlons and other endurance events in a fashion similar to Team-In-Training or the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The mission of Team RWB is to to transform the way wounded veterans are reintegrated into society when they return from combat. Here is a link to the charities web-site:

In any event, Mandy decided to dedicate her efforts to a series of runs that will memorialize the victims of the 9/11 tragedies in New York City, Washington DC and rural Pennsylvania. Mandy will be the race director and a runner at the run in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania event will contain a 9.11 mile and a 5K memorial run to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11/01 on Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA. The 9.11 mile loop will pass through the Flight 93 National Memorial.

This last Saturday, Mandy and some friends hosted a fundraiser for these runs at the Parrot Lounge on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Many of Mandy's friends from the triathlon and running community turned out in support of Mandy's efforts to raise awareness of the needs of returning veterans and to promote these memorial running events. All I can say is that I'm proud of my friend Mandy and was happy to give my support to her worthy efforts. The fund raiser was a fun event.

Best of luck to Mandy and other runners raising funds to run these 9/11 memorial events. Anyone wishing to join in any of the runs or wishing to donate to the entity can get race information at the Team RWB web-site listed above.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gererantion Next

One of the gifts that we can give to the next generation is sharing our interests with them. In doing so, they learn to enjoy and appreciate the things that we enjoy and appreciate. This was brought home to me yesterday by two incidents. First, my son Alex was looking to do a fun activity before he started middle school on Wednesday. I suggested the Florida History Museum in Miami. I had taken his older brother, John to this museum when he was about the same age as Alex and remembered it as a good history museum. Sure enough, Alex loved the two hours spent at the museum. With the exhibits featuring Spanish explorers, Caribbean pirates, Seminole Wars, Key West salvagers, Cuban cigar makers, and the Flagler railroad, this Florida history museum captured a lot of what he had covered in his social studies classes over the last few years. I'm a bit of a history buff, and particularly enjoy Florida history. It was gratifying to see my son show similar appreciation for this small, but very interesting history museum.

The second instance of sharing an interest with the next generation was my training buddy, John Clidas showing his nephew Andrew the ropes of triathlon training. Andrew, a 17 year old going into his senior year in high school, was visiting Fort Lauderdale from Washington State. John took him to the Lauderdale Yacht Club to work on his swim skills and had him do several swim workouts. He also showed him the ropes of riding a road bike and got him used to riding with clip on bike shoes. On Sunday, I accompanied John and Andrew on a 30 mile ride and did my best to give him tips on riding in groups. It all culminated on Tuesday, when John had Andrew do a self scheduled sprint triathlon. As I e-mailed John after his e-mail about their workout, I've heard of the Grateful Dead song "Uncle John's Band," but I wasn't aware that there was an event called "Uncle John's Sprint Triathlon." Andrew seems to have enjoyed the training and doing "Uncle John's Sprint Triathlon." I think we've recruited another participant to our sport. Below is a reprint of Uncle John's e-mail:

How 'bout a quick shout-out to nephew Andrew for completing his first "un-official sprint triathlon" this morning. We need to encourage our up and comer triathletes --- right? Can any of you remember when you first got started in this crazy sport??

7 days ago, Andrew was a "survival only" swimmer. With the help of Sandy Clobus and her expert coaching this past week, this morning, Andrew completed the first leg of "Uncle John's un-official Sprint Tri" with an approx. 1/2 mile swim at the LYC pool (about 26 minutes in the water). 7 days ago, Andrew had never ridden on a road bike and had never ridden in "clip-in" pedals. This morning, after exiting the pool and being held back by Uncle John's slow 6min 30 sec. T-1, Andrew completed a 12.09 mile bike ride in just under 50 minutes (gross time -- we were stopped by lights and traffic quite a few times). By the way --- Andrew also completed 3 thirty mile bike rides during the week. Lastly, after a complicated T-2 of 5min and 27 seconds (we had to bring the bikes back up and into my condo), Andrew completed a 5K in 25:34 (8:13/mile pace).

Total time --- 1:52:40 for Uncle John's Un-Official Sprint Tri (1/2, 12, 5K).

Well, needless to say -- not only was I impressed with Andrew's tenacity and perseverance this week, I was also incredibly proud of him and look forward to hearing about his first official sprint triathlon experience back home in Olympia, WA.

Way to go Andrew!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

9/11 Remeberance

A few months ago, I saw a request on the Runners' World web-site seeking stories from runners whose running was impacted by the events of 9/11. I immediately thought of my Ironman training buddy, John Clidas. When I first met John in 2000, we were both serving on our church's governing council. At the time, I was running pretty much solely for fitness other than an annual Thanksgiving 10K that my brother Dave and I ran in remembrance of our brother Jim, a biker/runner/triathlete who had of cancer. In the summer of 2001, I noted that John had lost some weight and was looking pretty fit. I asked him what his workout regime was that got him in such good shape. "I'm training for the New York City Marathon," he replied. Having always talked of one day running a marathon, I was both impressed and a little envious.

In the uncertain and somewhat scary world immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, John was uncertain whether the NYC Marathon would be held that year, and if it was held, whether he should risk going and participating in the event. As you may recall, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, many wondered whether terrorists would try to launch another attack on US soil, and New York City, being the financial capital of the world, loomed large as a potential target for another terrorist strike. John ultimately decided to go on the trip and run the marathon. I always felt his telling of his experience running the NYC Marathon was moving. Thus, when I saw the Runners' World request for stories related to 9/11, I called John and suggested he submit his story to Runners' World. The editors chose his story as one of several to publish in the magazine's September issue marking the 10 year anniversary of that tragic day. I've told John how ironic I find it that I've been knocking out blog entries for several years to little acclaim, while he gets published in Runners' World on his first submission. Of course, I offer my whole-hearted congratulations to John on his getting published. I also feel a bit of pride in recognizing a good story and encouraging him to write and submit it for publication. Way to go John!

For those of you who subscribe to Runner's World, check out page 75 of the September issue to see running buddy John Clidas' recollection of running the NYC Marathon after the 9/11 terrorists attacks. If you're not a subscriber, check out the article on-line at the Runners' World web-site link by clicking here.