Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Incorrect Assumptions in The Wall Street Journal's Anti-Runner Column

Last week Chat Stafko, a writer living in Freeburg, Ill., wrote an anti-runner article for The Wall Street Journal that put down runners in every possible way. The piece, "Ok, You're a Runner. Get Over It,"was full of confused and incorrect statements, so much that while reading the article aloud to my wife, I couldn't help but laugh and chuckle at several of the points he was trying to make.

I don't usually like to focus on these types of people in this blog, but I wanted to clarify a few things.

Chad writes, There is only one reason running aficionados display the stickers. They want the rest of us to know about their long-distance feats. So let me be the first to offer my hearty congratulations. I'd even offer to give them a pat on the back—once they're done doing it themselves.

I have a 26.2 sticker on my car, which I put on the bumper six years after running my first full marathon. But I didn't do it to brag. I put it on there after the 2013 Boston Marathon because I wanted to show support for the marathon. I'm sure there are lots of runners who put the stickers on to share their experience as well - not everyone is trying to brag.

Chad writes, Or these runners, when they're not running, can go shopping—at a running store. There's one such store less than 15 miles, or better said, just a bit over a half-marathon, from my house. It sells only running equipment and apparel. The store has been in business several years, so apparently it is making money. This "equipment," of course, is nothing but shoes and clothes. You can buy these same shoes at a sporting-goods store or online, probably for much less.

Running stories don't just have clothes and shoes, there's ton of other random items that are important. And besides, you can order anything online, but stores exist to people can buy things in person. And lots of people go to stores.

Chad writes, Why would someone want to get up at 5 a.m. and run 10 miles adorned with fluorescent tape to avoid being struck by someone who has the good sense to use a car for a 10-mile journey? I have a theory. There is no more visible form of strenuous exercise than running. When runners are dashing down a street in the middle of town or through a subdivision, they know that every driver, every pedestrian, every leaf-raker and every person idly staring out a window can see them.

This was the first time I laughed while reading this. People run because they want to be in shape and exercise. And if you ask any runner, every person will say they'd rather run down an empty road or peaceful trail than on a busy road. However, not every runner has access to those types of areas and if it's dark, that can be really unsafe. Fluorescent colors are used so we don't get hit by a car!

Chad writes, Many of my friends who regularly run have done so for years, decades before there was a thing called social media to put humanity's self-absorption in overdrive. These folks also tend to be infatuated with fitness anyway. If they're not out on the streets showing the sedentary world how it's done, they're at the gym or in a spinning class.

Again, I laughed here. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only runner who hates - despises - the treadmill. Why would I want to workout inside when I can get some fresh air and enjoy the spring flowers, fall colors or a beautiful day in this world? Seriously Chad, even you must know that statement is crazy!

Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

Post-race picture with my brother and cousin, who came to watch
Over the weekend I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon, which came six years after running my first full marathon in this very same event.

The first thing I noticed was how much larger this race is now than it was in 2007. There were about 30,000 runners between the full and half marathon and the organization was much improved. There are now corals and a very organized starting line, in addition to well blocked off streets, lots of fans lining the streets and a larger, more conveniently located expo.

The half marathon (as well as the first 13 miles of the full) wind through Philly's mostly flat city streets, giving runners a historical tour of the city. I ran right by the Liberty Bell, City Hall, plenty of museums and the heart of the city. It also went by the fraternities at Drexel University, which had rowdy and very excited college students cheering everyone on.

Following the race, I (along with many other runners) ran up the "Rocky" steps and snapped a few pictures, including the one with my brother and cousin, who came to watch.

The biggest negative to the race is the quality (or lack thereof) of Philadelphia's streets. There weren't potholes, but the pavement was really uneven, making it difficult to stay balanced at some points. However, that was overshadowed by the positives - if you're on the east coast and looking for a fun race in the late fall, this is the one!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NYC Marathon Gets New Name

Following the 2013 ING New York City Marathon last weekend, NYRR announced that it singed on a new lead sponsor for 2014 - and the following seven years. Gone is the "ING"from the name, which will be replaced by TCS, standing for Tata Consultancy Services.... (and to think the name couldn't get more dull).

These types of sponsorships bring in a lot of money so it's completely understandable why naming rights go to the highest bidder. (On a side note, I hope NYRR is getting a LOT of money out of this sponsorship, because it already has ridiculously high entry fees - in 2013 U.S. runners paid $266 while international participants were set back $358. Yikes!)

However, there's something special about races that aren't named after a company, like the B.A.A. Boston Marathon. Unlike NYC and Chicago, the Boston Marathon is "presented" by it's official sponsor, John Hancock, but the company name doesn't precede the race name. Hopefully it stays that way.

And of course, with the new name comes a new logo as well, featuring the statue of liberty. It's actually a pretty cool look!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gear Review: Stay Visible During WInter Running with Brooks

With clocks falling back an hour this weekend, many runners are beginning a five month stretch where the majority of their training will occur in the dark.

Between the cold, snow, ice and darkness, some people take to treadmills, choosing to run in a controlled temperature and environment. However, if you're like me, you hate the treadmill and want nothing to do with it whatsoever. Therefore, it' time to find some running gear that will keep you safe!

I've tried a lot of nighttime running accessories over the year. I have a very bright jacket (which is awesome), flashing lights (not quite as awesome) and even a light that straps onto - and constantly falls off - my shoe.

Then last week I heard from some nice folks at Brooks (side note - Brooks has the best men's running shorts I've ever found) contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out a couple things. They sent over a Nightlife Arm and Leg Band and a Nightlife Hat. My wife (who is also a runner) and I have been trying them out and are really happy with both items. They're very visible in the darkness and can be easily warn, without adding excess or awkward weight. The only problem is that we'll probably be fighting over the arm bands all winter!

So before you risk your life running outside this winter, make a smart decision and buy these items (or anything from Brooks' Nightlife line, you'll be happy you did!

Katie Lynch Half Marathon Recap

The beautiful scenery of the race
Winding through the beautiful roads of Wayland and Sudbury Massachusetts, the Katie Lynch Half Marathon is an ideal low-key race.

The course is a giant loop that is mostly on quite roads and is filled with rolling hills (plus a few flat stretches) that provides a peaceful escape from the busy city races a daily routine. The fall colors only adds to the enjoyment.

While the course is open to traffic, volunteers and police to a good job of keeping runners safe and traffic in control. Plus, there's a surprising amount of people cheering runners on throughout the race, many of whom have walked down to the end of their driveways.

It was really chilly during today's race, so when pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches were served following the race, it gave everyone something warm and delicious - one of the best post-race meals I've ever seen at a race.

This is certainly a race to do in the future, especially if you live in the area and are used to driving along much of the course, like I am.