Archive for the ‘Nerd Herd Running’ Category

I know… Latin. I’m trying to be all highbrow and intellectual.

But in this case, Pax refers to the winter storm. Seriously, though, who the hell started naming every winter storm? Is it a marketing thing? Maybe like the Nolan Ryan Express? Somehow, I don’t see NOAA marketing a line of t-shirts celebrating shitty weather, but it IS the federal government, so maybe that’s the reason.

Anyway, I’ve had a few crappy days. Really started yesterday with my attempt to go to the Philadelphia Auto Show. I say “attempt” since I never got on the train. Seems that the train station at Lancaster has limited parking and several rich assholes decided they needed two spaces to contain their precious German luxury cars. In all fairness, maybe they aren’t assholes. Maybe they are just misunderstood.

Naaah, they’re probably just assholes.

I still kept my vacation day, which wound up causing me some issues. See, the company decided to get rooms at the local hotel. They did not, however, inform me, so I had to trek to the office today, in the ice and snow, all to do a job obviously much more vitally important than healthcare or government. Of course, my wonderful homeowner’s association didn’t get around to clearing the walks and driveways on my street, so I had to move the entire driveway full of heavy, wet snow. I guess that counts toward my cardio for the day. I might add that another email was sent out informing us that the snow removal contractor has suffered a “mechanical breakdown” and would not be able to remove snow today. My thought is that Wanda, evil bitch queen of the HOA, is probably pocketing what would be paid to the contractor. I have no evidence of this, just instinct, but she seems the type that would do this.

All the medals together for a shield. Pretty freakin cool.

All the medals together for a shield. Pretty freakin cool.

My week hasn’t been all terrible. I managed to register for the Nerd Herd Virtual Race Trilogy. This year’s themes are Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games. I’m not totally into the whole Hunger Games thing, but the medal looks pretty cool. If you are interested in getting active and helping a worthy cause, check this out.

The start and finish will be at the Troeg's Brewery

The start and finish will be at the Troeg’s Brewery

I registered to run in the inaugural Troeg’s Hop Dash 5K in Hershey in October. I also registered Supportive Partner Woman (lover of craft beers!). It’ll be our first time participating in an inaugural event, and many of our TAE/Nerd Herd people will be there as well. Should be a great time!

 

So, to all you readers trapped by Pax, I wish you safe travels. If you don’t have to go anywhere, stay home. If you do, drive safely and watch out for the idiots. Sadly, there are a lot of those and they seem to be drawn to driving in bad weather like a moth is to a flame.

It’s been a long stretch of little sleep, standing on the side of the road yelling at complete strangers, and it’s not much of a vacation.

But it ranks as one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

“But why?” you might ask.

Simple. It comes down to the most amazing group of people I’ve even been associated with. These are people from all walks of life… bankers, lawyers, professors, nerds, and even a singular typesetter. These are people I am proud to call inspirations and proud to be associated with.

I saw pretty much everything, most good, some things that I wish I could unsee (Speedo guy). I saw the full range of human emotion, ranging from people in tears as their minds and bodies began to give up to people who were all smiles, enjoying the fact that they were doing something that not many others will ever even attempt.

I’ll start with the good…

I wasn't kidding... he did 39.3, playing every mile.

I wasn’t kidding… he did 39.3, playing at every mile.

Seeing the joy in my teammates faces as they came by, all the while enjoying that we were out and supporting them. Seeing the pride in which people wore their medals around the parks. Seeing my teammates and other friends complete their first race, or first marathon. Seeing my new friend Sam grind his way through 48.6 challenging miles, never giving up and claiming his medals. Seeing some random dude do a half marathon and full marathon, all the while carrying and playing a sousaphone.

I kid you not.

The incomparable Joe Weeks with the AllEars cheering section

The incomparable Joe Weeks with the AllEars cheering section

There was a juggler and a guy dribbling two basketballs. There was a guy dressed as Buddy the Elf, complete with snowballs (Yes, that was Bryan). There were men in kilts, men in skirts, men in tutus, and one of the most genuine people I’ve even met wearing a Team AllEars shirt (Talking about YOU, Joe Weeks). There was a woman doing the half and full in full firefighter gear, including an oxygen bottle on her back.

Jamison and Deb reveal the year's fundraising total

Jamison and Deb reveal the year’s fundraising total

I mentioned that Saturday was the big reveal of the year’s fundraising total. This was a huge deal because it is the last year of Team AllEars. So we gathered in Ballroom 6 of the Walt Disney World Swan and reminisced. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of applause and a lot of tears. Good tears, because we managed to obliterate last year’s total and come up with almost $105,000, all to fight cancer. So, thank you to everyone who contributed to my personal page.

I’m not going to overload you with everything in one post… that would be too much, and it’s still pretty damn emotional to me (typed as tears are welling up again)

I will write more soon, and even have a video of me lumbering across the finish line with me “entourage” in tow. But, before I go, I want to take a moment to acknowledge every member of the team…

Thanks to Deb, Mike, Michelle, Melanie, Brad, Barb, Chris, Amanda, the amazing Ellie (more on her later), Debbie, Heather, Matt, Stephanie, Molly, my awesome mentor Rich, Laura, Laura, Jessica, Dominic, Tom, Julie, Eddie, Heather, Stan, Kim, Jamison, Phill, Steven, Holly, Sara, the amazing Ed, Tabitha, Tammi, Lesley, Dave, Jill, Eve, Dave, David, Mike, Julie, Christina, De’Dee, Bryan, Linda, Tim, Michael, Alex, Ashley, Mike, Robert, Evelyn, Daniel, Lee, Charlie, Laura, Judy, Sara, Beth, Susan, Christine, Brad, Beth, Joe, Erwin, April, Karen, Tracy, Terry, April, Helen, MaryJean, Debra, Suzanne, Joan, Phil, Ana, Christine, Sandie, Pam, Amy, Dan, Julia, Rhonda, Jason, Cindy, Penny, JT, Ethan, Pamela, Kerry, Kirsten, Jason, Wesley and Jeremy. You all are the best! I also want to thank the Nerds… their support has been invaluable throughout and I look forward to their 2014 Virtual Race Series.

More soon!

The morning, I completed my first ever 5K.

I know… it’s hard to believe.

Mr. “I only run if chased” actually did it and even ran a bit of it.

I’ve been wanting to do this and working toward it for so long that I didn’t think I could get too emotional afterward. Then I reached that point where I just overfilled with emotion and starting crying. Tears of pain, relief, and joy. What a combo.

See, in a surprise move, the dastardly tag team of Wayne and Stubby have been acting up.  I mean, why wouldn’t they? I’m in my supposed happy place and I would have no desire to not have to wrap my toes like an Egyptian mummy, right? So, as late as Tuesday night, I was thinking about bailing on the whole thing. Then it really struck me just how much it meant for me to do it. Then yesterday, we hit the expo. Things really started to click at that point. We met up with our friends from Colorado at the expo and braved the chaos. I never saw anything quite like that. Just a sea of people milling around the Wide World of Sports complex. It was pretty freakin cool. I also met some other folks from the team and to have strangers telling me how proud they were that I was doing this started pushing me toward the happy scale.

I didn’t want to let my teammates down.

Team All Ears and friends before the start of the 5K

Team All Ears and friends before the start of the 5K.
Photo courtesy of Tom Troost

So, at 5:30 this morning, Supportive Partner Woman (5K finisher!) and I were at the team photo.

See? Lots of people

See? Lots of people

Then the waiting begins, because, as it turns out, there are a LOT of people doing this race. We were, of course, in corral E, which was the last one. Thankfully, a lot of my teammates stayed with us and walked along. I wasn’t planning on running, you see, due to my issues with Wayne and Stubby.

As we plodded along, the rains came. Not a heavy rain, but one that was starting to dampen my spirits. My inner Debbie Downer started to gnaw at me and I fumed to myself, thinking, “Well isn’t THIS just ^@$## perfect?”

I kept a smile, but that voice kept yelling at me, “What were you THINKING, you dumbass?”

Still we plodded along.

Then something magical happened. We came across a single team member standing by the International Gateway and she was just screaming for me. That’s what started my inner bitch-slapping of my inner Debbie Downer. (Big thanks to Laura Ozo!)

I realized I only had another mile to go. My pace started to pick up… the heavy feeling in my legs started to dissipate… We came around Spaceship Earth and hit the three mile mark. I saw a group of teammates and I started to hear them cheering for me. Just then, that huge lump of self-doubt flew out of me. I looked at Mike and Brad and said, “I got this.”

Then I ran.

Lumbered, really, but is that really a bad thing?

Getting a medla and hug from Lori was a great ending to an amazing morning.

Getting a medal and hug from Lori was a great ending to an amazing morning.

I crossed that finish line in stride to be greeted by a dear friend who was volunteering with a big hug and my first-ever medal.

See, they may say that running events are a solo thing. Maybe they are, but in my case, my team made me able to run.

This was followed up with congrats and pictures and a tasty brunch. Supportive Partner Woman went off to the parks, I came back to the room to write and to rest the toes.

This little bit of time has allowed me to reflect on what has happened to me today. Oh, and also to start thinking of how I’ll handle a back to back 5K and 10K next year. Because runDisney has its hooks into me now. I want that feeling again.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few people who have really helped me. First off would be our team founder, Deb Wills, and our team captains, Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean. Also, my friends Melanie and Bryan for putting the bug in my ear and just generally being awesome. Brad Garfinkel for being a friend and pushing me to do better. Rich Gairing, for being a great mentor and just an all-around awesome human being. It also goes without saying that the rest of my team gets credit. They are all rock stars and it would take too long to list every one of them individually.

I also wanted to thank the Nerds for a great virtual series. These folks have been so supportive as well (and yes, there’s a lot of cross-pollination) .

A "We did it" selfie

A “We did it” selfie

The real rock, though, is Supportive Partner Woman. She thinks I deserve all this credit, but the fact is that it is due to her support and encouragement that I was there at all today. I was truly blessed to have her in my life.

So, the rest of the weekend will be taken up by cheering for my teammates as they finish the other races. I hope that I can give them the same lift that they gave me. There’s also the other event coming up… the big reveal of this year’s fundraising total. That becomes available on Saturday and I will be sure to keep you updated.

After that, well, there’s the brand new Mickey Milers team, an offshoot of the Mickey Miles podcast. This will help to fill the void of Team AllEars. I’m already signed up and I’m sure I’ll be begging for donations to help Give Kids the World before too long.

Until that time, keep on moving.

So, today there was an announcement from Nerd Herd Running on the final results from the 2013 Trilogy. They set their first goal, annihilated it, set a second goal, went medieval on that one, and for good measure, obliterated the third goal as well.

Together, we managed to raise over $17,000 for Stupid Cancer.

$17 large.

Damn.

Happy!

Happy!

You can read the nuts and bolts here, but I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about what an amazing group of people this is. These are people who embrace their nerddom and aren’t afraid to show it. Words fail me when I need to come up with superlatives to describe their efforts. For such a small group of people to achieve so much totally blows my mind. I’m proud to say they are amongst my inspirations. I look forward to finally meeting most of them in January. So, thanks again Sara, Julie, Jamison, Mike, Joelle, Christina, Brad, Erinn, Dan, Jeff, Christine and April. You guys set a high standard and I’m super proud to be associated with you.

This is not to take away from my own fundraising efforts for Team AllEars. So many of you have contributed and allowed me to raise my goal yet again. Help me get there by clicking here to donate a couple dollars. The link will take you to the Avon site and allow for secure donations. I would dearly love to hit $1,500. There’s still time and it is fully tax deductible.

Postings will be sparse the next few weeks. Between the upcoming holiday and the usual workload, Supportive Partner Woman (survivor of the MRI tube) and I are going to catch the 3-D theater presentation of Day of the Doctor and we also have a much-needed vacation on the books. I will check in while I can, but I wanted to wish you all a happy and joyous Thanksgiving, Chanukkah, or whatever other holidays you celebrate. Remember to stay active and love your families.

 

So the last post was me feeling kind of sorry for myself. This one will be better.

See, I got a package in the mail yesterday. That package contained my medals from the Nerd Herd Running Virtual Racing Series.

These are the first medals I ever got and it dawned on me that it is a big deal. At least to me.

My medals

My medals

The medals themselves are of good weight and fit to ether to form the Nerd Herd logo. There’s one for the May the 4th Be With You 5K, the Happy Birthday Harry Potter 10K and the Banned Books Half, as well as a fourth medal for completing the series. It really filled me with a sense of accomplishment. I know some marathon snobs would say that it wasn’t a “real” race and I didn’t have a stellar time, but it’s a big deal because I did it.

In short, that package was a vindication of what I’ve been trying to do.

Next up will be the real 5K. I’ll get a medal for that, too, but it won’t have the same impact because it won’t be the first one.

I can see how this can become an addiction, though. Guess I need to find a place to display the bling that’s sure to come my way.

There are worse things.

So, in closing, a huge thank you to the Nerd Herd… Sara, Julie, Jamison, Mike, Joelle, Christina, Brad, Erinn, Dan, Jeff, Christine and April and all the folks who participated in the series that raised $15,000 to benefit StupidCancer.org. What an amazing journey!

I’m proud to report that I completed the Nerd Herd Racing Series by finishing a virtual half marathon this week.

Yes, Captain Fattie did 13.1 (actually 14.17) in 3:39:26.

That’s not a typo.

I actually feel pretty proud of myself… I accomplished something I never thought I would do. Granted, it took me three days, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. There’s obviously some room for improvement, including actually pounding the pavement for 13 miles, or maybe doing it in the same day, but I’m on the road.

So, Supportive Partner Woman and I visited a new rail trail today. The Enola  Low Grade Rail Trail runs for 5.25 miles through southern Lancaster County. It parallels the Susquehanna River and also the existing Norfolk Southern rail line. It’s a very scenic trail, with a wonderful panorama of the broad Susquehanna and the wooded bluffs on the York County side of the river.

We didn’t see too much in the way of wildlife… there were raptors soaring over the updrafts and plenty of grasshoppers. The scenery, though was top notch. The township has placed numerous viewing platforms along the trail which allow you to see over the fence.

View of the Susquehanna Valley south of Columbia

View of the Susquehanna Valley south of Columbia

One of the wind turbines

One of the wind turbines

One of the other sights along the trail is at the northern trailhead. The local electric co-op has installed two large wind turbines. They are actually the tallest structures in Lancaster County. The power goes pretty much exclusively into the Turkey Hill Dairy and they provide a good part of the facility’s power needs.

1948 PRR caboose

1948 PRR caboose

One of the other nice touches that the township has provided is a large piece of railroad nostalgia. This 1948 Pennsylvania Railroad caboose was restored to its period appearance and is joined by some historical data concerning its history and its restoration.

waterfall

Waterfall

The final highlight are the rocky streams and waterfalls. They pass under the trail, then through a small aqueduct that carries the water over the Norfolk Southern line and falls into the river. It’s just an extra nice touch on a trail that has a lot of them.

The sole issue that we found is that there’s not a lot of shade, which would make a long walk in the dead of summer somewhat toasty. The saving grace is that the mile-wide river valley seems to funnel air through it, creating a steady, cool breeze. If you are folically-challenged, like myself, I would recommend a hat and some sunscreen, otherwise your melon might get a little crispy.

As an editorial note, I’m really thrilled with how well the rail trail program has taken hold in this area. There are three nice trails in the general vicinity and there are plans to connect them to a wider network of trails. It makes sense in Pennsylvania, seeing the sheer number of unused rail lines. It’s also nice to see the cross-section of people using the trails, whether it be for running, walking, or biking. I look forward to getting to the southern end of the trail so I can check out the dam.

Soon.

I’ve been neglecting my inspiration segment here of late. With that being said, today I’d like to give a shoutout to Joe. Joe is a reformed big guy who’s also a part of Team AllEars, I met him at the Harrisburg Half Marathon a few weeks ago and was really taken by how open and genuine he is, not only about his running, but where he’s been. It really inspired me to commit to the Disney races in 2015, so it’s really his fault.

Thanks, Joe. Looking forward to catching up at Hershey next month.

So, Supportive Partner Woman and I hopped in the car and headed to Philadelphia to see the Steely Dan show at the Mann.

The Mann Center is a Philadelphia landmark. established in 1935 as a summer home for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Since 1935, it has sat in Fairmount Park, still hosting the orchestra, among many other shows.

This was not our first visit to the amphitheater (built in 1976). We once caught John Williams conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra as they performed many of his movie classics. This was the first time, however, we needed an ark.

The weather was threatening all day, but it held as we headed down to Philadelphia. We swung through University City and paid a visit to Bobby’s Burger Palace. Excellent food, and I could even eat it. I opted for a Palace Classic (burger with American cheese, tomato and onion. SPW went with a crunchburger and a chocolate/vanilla malted milkshake. We split an order of onion rings. Food was fabulous, and the restaurant was located next to a Chipotle, so it was like quick service nirvana.

Following dinner, we headed through the hood and up to the park. Parking was a reasonable $15, and we weren’t far from the venue. We packed up our disposable ponchos and headed in. For the summer concert series, the Mann was passing out a series of collectible baseball cards.

Regardless, we found our seats and settled in. The skies grew gloomier and showtime came and went. The Deep Blue Organ Trio took the stage as a warmup act and played some phat blues. Comprised of a guitarist, drummer and a big ole’ Hammond B-3.

They played about three or four songs, then it was time for the main event. The skies had opened and a steady rain was falling. Yours truly and SPW were huddled under cheap plastic ponchos from Walmart, gazing at some douchenozzle’s giant-ass golf umbrella.

The band, known as the Bipolar Allstars,  took the stage first, launching into a very jazzy cover of Gerry Mulligan’s Blueport, they were joined by cofounders Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, along with the three backing vocalists. They launched into Your Gold Teeth, followed immediately by Aja. There was a slight break at this point, as Becker launched into a monologue before segueing right into Hey, Nineteen.

This parade continued uninterrupted through 20 songs, ranging from newer songs like Godwhacker and classics like Time Out of Mind, Black Friday, Josie, My Old School and Reelin’ in the Years. The obligatory encore was Kid Charlemagne.

The band was exceedingly tight, as can be expected for playing together so long. The horn section, comprised of Jim Pugh on trombone, Michael Leonhart on trumpet, as well as Walt Weiskopf and Roger Rosenberg on the saxophones were amazing. Their brassy, sassy sound brought a level of depth to many of the songs, especially My Old School. The percussion, provided by jazz notable Keith Carlock, was a little heavy at times, but Carlock showcased amazing skill on par with any rock drummer I’ve ever seen. John Herrington on the guitar brought a certain edge, along with virtuoso skill.

All in all, an amazing show that would’ve been improved without a big ass gold umbrella right in the sight lines.

My current project is the Nerd Herd Banned Books Virtual Half Marathon. I did the first 4.8 miles today on the Lancaster Junction trail. Weather was fine, and the trail was actually kind of deserted. Wildlife sightings included innumerable cows and sheep, some goats, multitudinous grasshoppers and a quasi-curious woodchuck. Oh, and a pony!

I completed my 4.8 miles in 1:29:46. I’m getting a little faster, so that’s a good sign. The ankles are still not cooperating the best, but hopefully they will come around.

I’ve got two more legs to go to complete the half… so I’ll be back with those results in the next couple of days.

Song of the Day: Janie Runaway – Steely Dan

Currently Reading: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn