Tag Archives: philadelphia

Cooper-Norcross Run The Bridge 10k-A Birthday 10k PR!

I had never run a 10k in my entire life until this year when I ran the Celtic Classic 10k in Bethlehem, PA this September. Since it was my first 10k it was obviously a PR, but I also came in 3rd place in my age group. I had then run another one in October as part of the Runner’s World Hat Trick, but didn’t PR since I had run a PR 5k immediately before that. My wife really wanted to run in an event on a birthdays(we are a day apart) but she did not have time to prepare for a half-marathon. So instead she found the Cooper-Norcross Run the Bridge 10k in Camden which seemed like a good alternative. Unfortunately, she ended up aggravating a metatarsal injury a couple weeks before and decided not to run at all. Now, I would be running by myself again and so I might as well try to better my 10k again.

I really didn’t have too much confidence I would do so. I had not run very much in the two weeks after the Runner’s World Hat Trick so I wasn’t sure how my fitness would hold up. I also knew that running bridges can be pretty tough from my experience at Ironman 70.3 Miami. They are like a big hill with no protection from any winds that may be blowing. The event started at the NJ side toll booth and went across to the PA side, turned around and came back and then through streets of downtown Camden, NJ(Yikes!!).

We decided to make a weekend out of it and stay overnight in Penn’s Landing. We got a room at the Holiday Inn Express Penn’s Landing right near Dave & Buster’s. It was a nice hotel, except that we were not able to check in until later that night after dinner. We ended up having to change in our car in the parking lot before walking to dinner. They also charged us $25 to park at the hotel, which is a ripoff too.

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Fall Colors in Washington Square Park

We walked to dinner at Talula’s Garden right next to Independence Hall. It was a really good farm-to-table restaurant, but they only had one vegetarian option on the menu which I thought was a bit sparse for this type of place. Regardless, it was very good. I had a pumpkin entrée and root vegetables with a Fegley’s Imperial Pumpkin ale. Definitely worth a stop if you are in town. Make reservations ahead of time though since they fill up fast.

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Independence Hall

When we got back to the hotel and finally got a room, we then had to deal with the most obnoxious neighbors in the room next to us. It sounded like a bunch of really drunk guys and they must have been practicing for a WWF match since they kept banging into the walls and yelling at the top of their lungs. I could not believe how anyone could have regard at all for others in a hotel. Fortunately they were not there too long and must have headed back out again since it had gotten quiet again.

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Washington Square Park Pano
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Liberty Bell at Night
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Night shot of i-95 and Ben Franklin Bridge from Market St. Bridge.

Just I had started drifting into some heavy REM sleep, I was woken up around 2:15am by our obnoxious neighbors walking down Columbus Blvd 4 floors below. It wasn’t too long before they were then heard banging on peoples doors as they made their way down the hall from the elevator. The steel cage match began again in the room and they were yelling at one of their compadres to “GET UP!!” who had most-likely passed out from their night of partying. Thankfully, before too long I heard a loud pounding knock on their down followed by a deep voice stating that he was “SECURITY!” Thank YOU!!! The noise immediately dropped a few decibels and then I heard some mumbling conversation and the door closing. The noise picked up a little bit and then slowly faded into silence again.

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Ben Franklin Bridge, Delaware River and Camden Waterfront night shot.

I had drifted back to sleep and didn’t wake again until my alarm went off at 5:30am. Not a bad night sleep considering. I slammed down a banana and few bars for breakfast before heading down to the lobby. Our car was parked in and I had to warn the car park attendant we needed to leave. He joked with me asking if I could possibly wait until later in the day to leave. When he saw my eyeballs bulging out of my sockets, he started laughing and said he was just kidding. Wise-guy!! We then grabbed some coffee and a few things at the hotel breakfast which was just opening up.

We then made our way over the bridge and into Camden. The main street down to the waterfront and Campbell’s field was a bumper-to-bumper slow go. There were about 4500 people participating in this event, so I think it is probably one of the largest 10k’s in the country. We eventually got a nice parking spot right across from the baseball park. The registration, packet pickup and finish line were all based in the Campbell’s baseball park and it was a long line to get into since they were checking everyone for security. It was a little breezy and chilly this morning, but really perfect running temperature. We picked up our race packet & t-shirts and headed back to the car. Denise was going to do the walk which basically just went back and forth over the bridge. We hung out in the car until the 8:30am start. I did some laps around the parking lot just to warm up a bit.

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Campbell’s Field and BFB
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Not often that you see us with different ages in writing. Nice to be younger for a day!

The race started at the bridge toll booths which were almost a mile away from the baseball park. We made the long slog with the rest of the herd of participants down Pearl St. which paralleled the bridge on the south side. We reached the start of the bridge and parted ways. I got into the 8 min/mi pace area which I thought was safe. It was a bit warmer being in the herd of people since it blocked the wind a bit and provided some body heat. Before long the horn blew and we were off.

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Starting crowd back to the BFB NJ Toll Booth
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The Starting Gate – BFB

On the climb up to the crest I was feeling really good despite the incline and it got even better on the decline. Making the turn on the PA side and heading back started to get a little tougher. I was only running an 8:11 pace for the first mile(about 2/3rds of span of the bridge) which would explain why it felt easy. I am sure that some of that was also dealing with navigating people too. I passed the leaders, going the other way, as I was almost to the PA side which surprised me a bit. I eventually hit the crest of the bridge and was relieved that it should be mostly downhill or flat from here. Time to turn it up a notch. I should be running mid 7:00’s from here on out.

I passed Denise, who was coming up the other side, as I was heading down to Camden. She shot the picture above as I passed. The hat came off as I got off the bridge and was starting to really heat up. I played around with stuffing it in my shorts, but it kept falling out so I just stuck it in my little pocket where I normally put my keys.

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Wow…I didn’t realize that hat looks that dorky. Glad I took it off eventually. So far still chipper.

The course was pretty flat as it made its way through the streets of downtown Camden. It didn’t really seem that bad there, but that could be cause it was 9am in the morning too. We did hit a little incline as we ran through Wiggins’ Waterfront Park along the Camden waterfront , which I wasn’t expecting. It seemed much bigger than it probably was. The worst part of the race was when we were heading down Delaware Ave and Campbell’s field was firmly in view. I started thinking just hold it flat straight down this street and then we had to make a hard right up Market St. taking us farther out of the way. It played with my head a bit, but it was only around the block so before I knew it we were back on Delaware Ave again. Then down into the back of the baseball park to the finish line. I tried to scan the people lining the finishing chute looking for Denise, but I never saw her. Apparently, she was still walking. I had my phone strapped to my arm, so I texted her to let her know I finished.

I crossed the line as the clock had read 27:58. I was pretty confident I was going to PR this one most of the way since I was holding pretty steady 7:30 pace. My previous PR was a 7:54 so that was fairly easy to figure out. I also knew that it had taken my at least 10 secs or more to reach the start line, so I was definitely under the clock time. I got my finisher medal and a couple bottles of water as I waited for Denise to show up. She eventually turned up and we headed up the stands into the concourse of the park. They had tables with food, but it was a lot of processed junk, so I just grabbed a couple bananas and a bagel that I never actually ate. I guess it should not be surprising that the food was processed junk since it was probably donated by Campbell’s Soup Corporation.

All-in-all it was a pretty fun birthday weekend. It was a shame that Denise could not run the event too, but she made a smart decision since she really wants to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon next May. I was pretty happy to have PR-ed my 10k for the second time this season and on the day before my 45th birthday too. Hopefully I can keep getting better with age!!

I think that will conclude my running events for this year. I am planning on taking totally off from running now for at least a couple weeks and let the legs recover a bit. I am going to start getting back in the pool regularly and on the bike trainer too. I also have a spare bathroom that needs completion before another triathlon season starts up again. Thanks for reading!

Endurance Sports Expo 2013(Oaks, PA) Recap

On Saturday I headed down to Oaks(Near Valley Forge, PA) to check out the Endurance Sports Expo. I have to admit I had these fantasies in my that I was going to find a pair of Zipp Firecrest 404 race wheels for under a $1000. Of course when I go there reality set in quickly. It is always fun to dream though. I also quickly realized that I wouldn’t have  missed too much by saving the gas and staying home either.

I made my way up and down the aisles scanning the goods while also trying to avoid any confrontation by any overzealous recruiters of my time. I felt I did that pretty successfully. No eye contact is the key. I did spend a few minutes at the Endless Pool area watching some guy try to swim. They were supposed to analyze his swim but he seemed to have a hard time getting started and all he could do was some modified sculling doggie paddle and splashed tons of water on everyone around the edge. Pretty funny. I felt like saying “dude…just put your head under and swim.”

One of the  trends that I was pretty stoked to see emerging was more whole food and plant-based nutrition items. There was the the Zukay Live Foods stand with their Kvass Raw Veggie juice drinks. I enjoyed the beet flavor sample which can give you a bit of a nitrate boost and tastes pretty good. They actually do not contain much sugar do to their fermentation process. They sell these juices at Wegman’s and Whole Foods so I will definitely be picking up a few of these.

2013-02-23 17.04.21Another plant-based item that caught my eye was the Amrita Health Foods stand. They offered several flavors of their “endurance bars” that contain real, whole foods such as dates, raisins, cranberries, sunflower seeds, sesame, and chia seeds. They have a bunch of different flavors too. The guy at the stand seemed to be founder as he to have a lot of detailed information about the making of them. I think he is Arshad, whose story is mentioned on the website. The bars are currently 60% organic, but he is working towards 100%.  They are fairly local too, based in Hudson Valley, NY. Check ‘em out.

There were a couple other whole foods type stands that I fail to mention as well. The worst part of the expo was that the SlyFox brewery was giving out free samples of their IPA, but I somehow managed to push past. Whew!…That was close! I made my way back to the EMS stand after completing the tour. They had a nice Pearl Izumi cold weather cycling jacket that caught my eye. It wasn’t on sale or anything, but it is something that will get me out of the basement sooner than later. I like the fact that it is fitted for cycling and there is a nice big pocket in the back like cycling jersey. The jacket is also florescent yellow, so it should be pretty visible to cars. It was $120, but I think I will get some use out of it.

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All in all, not as bad a day as I expected. They also have seminars every hour or so on different topics, but none of those really caught my eye. The expo is still going again today so if you are in the area check it out. If you are looking for unrealistically cheap carbon race wheels though, don’t bother.

Time to get moving here, long run today!

Veggin’ Out in Philly

A couple Saturday’s ago my wife and I were planning to make a trip down to IKEA in Conshohoken to get some new office furniture for my home office remodel. I happened to stumble across a Vegetarian Nutrition seminar being held in downtown Philly that day through the NoMeatAthlete Facebook page. So we decided to add that to our list of places to stop. As the week progressed we also decided to checkout Blackbird Pizzeria, a vegan pizzeria, before and Essene Market & Café after the seminar. The day was shaping up to be quite busy.

The seminar started at 12PM and we missed pre-registering due to some issue with the registration page, which closed on the Monday before. I had connected with @TexasVeggieRD who said she could get us in anyway. We wanted to get to Blackbird Pizzeria by 11AM so we would have adequate time to get to the seminar, which was over at Friends Center over on Cherry Street about 20 minutes away. We didn’t get to the pizza shop until 20 after 11, so it was a bit of a rush. There was no one in the shop except for the 2 people working there and it looked like they were just starting to get some food ready. I ordered 2 slices of “pepperoni” pizza, which had round slices of Seitan and melted Daiya cheese on top. My wife ordered the Grilled Veggie Wrap, which took a bit of time to make since it appeared that they hadn’t cut any vegetables yet that morning. As we waited, the thick-bearded chef made several trips back and forth to the pizza area from the kitchen in the rear with tubs of cut veggies. While we waited, a middle-aged fellow in a long-tailed tuxedo came in and ordered a slice of pizza. We had passed a wedding getting started at the church down the street and he appeared to have hurried down for a little snack. He didn’t appear to be the vegan-pizza eating type and the place really gives no indication that it is a vegan pizza shop, so we were a bit entertained watching him stuff down his slice of pizza. He gave no indication of being surprised or that the pizza didn’t taste quite right, so either he knew or it was really that good that it fooled him. Eventually our food came and the slices were so 2012-10-06 11.44.09big that they each came on their own plate. My wifes’ wrap was as thick as a soda can and packed with veggies. I hadn’t eaten any pizza in around 5 months, so I was really looking forward to scarfing down some pie.

It surely looked like pizza, so far so good. The first bite definitely had a nice thin crust bite and an string of cheese slinking back to my mouth. The Daiya “cheese” looked pretty much cheese, although the taste was a little different consistency. It didn’t have that gummy-ness of mozzerella and the taste was little pseudo-cheesy. The Seitan “pepperoni” was great and had a nice spice to it. The crust though was one of the best thin pizza crusts I have ever had. This really made up for for the fakeness of the cheese. I scarfed down both slices with ease  and even sampled some of my wife’s wrap too. The Veggie Wrap was really tasty and my wife claimed was well worth the wait. I don’t think you would normally wait that long there, it was just we caught them at a bad time. Will definitely hit that place again when down the city.

We navigated our way over to the seminar on Cherry Street, which was just behind City Hall, and parked the car in a parking garage. We got to the lecture which had already started and the girl let us in no problem. The first two lectures were on vegan athletes presented by Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, RD and Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD. Enette is the author of the book Vegetarian Sports Nutrition which I have purchased but not read yet. Since we came in late, it took me a while to catch up to what the context of the talk was. She had provided some numbers of recommended nutrient intake with particular regard to the International Olympic Committee figures. It seemed that most of the audience there were dieticians and not really athletes. There also seemed to be some doubt among that community as to whether a vegetarian or vegan diet was sufficient to fuel an athlete based on her talk.

Matt Ruscigno spoke next about a “Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes”, to which he provided a video about a friend of his, Donovan Jenkins,  that recently completed a 100-mile Ultra-running event.  Matt is himself a endurance athlete and vegan and also was the pacer for his friend for the last 26 miles of the event. The video was pretty cool and had a pretty cool story to go along with it. It is worth checking out.

The last two speakers were Jack Norris, RD and Virginia(Ginny) Messina, MPH, RD, authors of the book Vegan for Life. They went over some of the key nutrients we need how to get them from a plant-based diet. One of the key takeaways I got from this was that a well-diversified plant-based diet will supply you with the proper nutrients you need. They recommended supplementing with Vitamin B12 since the only way we can get it these days is from animals digestive tracts. We actually produce it ourselves, but it is too late in the digestive system(Smile) for us to absorb it. B12 is actually a bacteria that comes from the ground and since we don’t interact with the soil anymore we cannot absorb except through meat. But before any meat-heads get on their soapboxes, it was found that most meat eaters don’t get enough of this vitamin either and the dieticians recommend that anyone over 50 should supplement it as well. Meat or no-meat. We were fortunate to get a copy of their book after the seminar, which was made possible by the fine folks over at Tofurky. LOL! I don’t eat or subscribe to this stuff. Even though it is “vegan” meat, it is still processed which defeats the whole purpose of a whole foods, plant-based diet. So the scientific community is still buying into the whole processed foods crap, but I guess they need funding from somewhere.This demonstrates one of the key differences between vegan and whole foods, plant-based. You can be vegan and still eat like crap.

We took a walk around the block after the seminars just to kill some time. There was an Occupy Rally going on in Love Park which we listened to for a bit. They started chanting something over and over again and then the girl on bullhorn started dropping F-bombs. We started heading back to the parking garage and then made our way back to South Street area to check the Essene Market & Café for dinner. The market was tiny but very well laid out. They carried all kinds of healthy stuff and a vegan buffett which we enjoyed for dinner. The plates were weighed by the pound so I had to be careful sampling all the different dishes. It wasn’t like the Honey Underground that’s for sure.

It was getting fairly late by the time we got to IKEA. I had the sales guy lay me out a plan for the office and he provided me with a list of all the parts I needed. We then navigated the IKEA maze down to the warehouse and started picking out the pieces we needed. The first piece was a 63”x47” corner tabletop. Looking at this we soon realized this may not fit in the CRV. I ran out and measured the back of the car and sure enough it would not fit. Ugghhh! This was the main reason we were going down here and now we could not get the furniture. It was a good thing we hit all those other places or that would have been a total waste of a trip down to Conshohoken. Guess that gives us another excuse to come down again for dinner!

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