How to prep for the Broad Street Run

The IBX Broad Street Run is this Sunday! Philadelphia's preeminent 10 mile race straight down the main drag that bisects the entire city East and West. It's one of the greatest races in the country -- the city comes out to cheer for you in a 10 mile tunnel filled with bands & baton twirlers and the like. Former Philadelphia mayor & Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is always there (usually at mile 6 by the Bellevue, but he surprised everybody last year by being at mile one (he was on his way to the airport and stopped to give out some hi-5's first)). The race is one of the least expensive large scale city races (It's like $40). Suffice to say it is the race in Philly.

It's ok to cross the street to hi-5 Ed Rendell.
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This will be my fourth time running it and I have some advice for people just doing it for their first time.

1) Get up really early on Saturday I'm talking like 5 am. Get up at 5, eat breakfast, have coffee, whatever you do. Watch tv. Whatever. This will a) help you sleep Saturday night and b) get you ready for getting up insanely early on Sunday.

2) Get up INSANELY EARLY ON RACE DAY. I get up at 4 am and I have a 30 minute commute. I get up, have a nice breakfast, charge my watch and my phone watch a movie that will leave you pumped up and excited (I recommend ROCKY) check the social media for other people going and don't rush yourself. I say this because--

3) YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE A BATHROOM AT THE RACE START. There are bathrooms there, but the lines are the kind of lines you'd expect if Taylor Swift & Beyonce were playing a free concert together and there's only one ticket window. I'm serious, do not plan on using a bathroom at the start of the race. Or if you think you might have to get in line the second you get there.

4) There are bathrooms along the course, so, if you're not running for time, you can stop at a much shorter line along the way. If you are running for time, get up insanely early and make sure you've taken care of everything you need to take care of before you leave the house.

6) Take public transportation to the race. The subway is free if you have your race bib on. It's the best way to get there. Do not think you can park anywhere near the race. Take the subway! This isn't city folk trying to sell you on mass transit, it's the truth, take the subway. You can take the subway back after (though it might not be free, I forget, pack some cash.)

IF IT RAIN'S THAT'S OK. Rain is better than heat. You're going to be wet at the end anyway, it might as well be rain rather than sweat. Rain's not terribly fun while you're standing around though, so either bring a disposable poncho (check your local drug store) or make a disposable poncho out of a trash bag. When the race is over you really won't care about the rain.

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7) Get your playlist together now. Scientists say you will run significantly faster if you're listening to fast music. "Officially" IBX Broad Street rules say "no headphones" -- but this is completely unenforced -- to the extent that yesterday the IBX Broad Street run twitter account sent out some playlist recommendations. So, make a playlist that's as long as your projected time and then a little bit longer and enjoy it.

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8) START ALL THE ELECTRONICS YOU NEED TO START 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE RACE. This means if you're using Garmin Connect so your friends can follow you, start that, start your watch so it can find the satellites. Don't be the guy going "oh crap! I didn't start my watch!" as people around you are starting to run.

9) Get in the right corral. The race is designed so that faster people are up front and slower people are toward the back. This is so that slow people don't get constantly run over by people passing them. If you don't know how fast you're going to run this, move to the back.

10) Move to the side if you want to walk. It happens to everyone -- you get to the point where you're like screw this, I'm walking don't just stop in the middle of the street. Put up your right or left hand to let people behind you know you're making a move, look behind you, pull over to the side, hop up on the curb if you can & catch your breath.

11) It may start out cold but you're going to bake like a pie by the end. The weather is unpredictable (hope for cold) but it's often nippy at the start at 7:00 in the morning. Today is the day to go to FOOORRRMMAAANN MIILLLLSSSS! or your local thrift store and find a sweat suit, or at least an old sweat shirt to wear to the start (You can also use a trash bag with a hole ripped in the top for your head). Just before the race starts there's a beautiful cascade of clothes flying out from the crowd onto the sidewalk -- it looks like salmon swimming upstream. These clothes are collected & taken to a charity that reuses them.

12) Lay out your clothes now. What are you wearing? Shoes, socks shirt, throw away shirt, are you wearing some sort of race belt? Do you have your headphones? Your sports gu's? Try not to use the bag check if you don't have to. It's a layer of complexity. If you can just go with what you have with you, it's easier. People say "bring a change of clothes" but I honestly have never, ever, ever in my life wanted to put clean clothes on my sweaty post-race body. Here's what I bring: Money a 20, five 1's, and two SEPTA tokens. My phone, my headphones, my house key. I put all this in a race belt. You can get one at the expo if you don't have one.

13) People say you can't wear your race shirt the say of the race but I think they're just being jerks. There's a weird taboo against wearing a shirt before you've completed the race, the idea being that you haven't earned it yet, but to me, the shirt would have more meaning if you actually wore it while you were suffering through the race. Plus, the sponsors are paying to have their logos get seen, so go ahead wear your broad street shirt if you like. If anybody gives you a problem, tell them I said it was fine. If you don't finish you can burn it in a fit of shame if you feel like it. (The other taboo is that you should never race in something you haven't worn before -- that's much more valid -- it might not fit properly.)

14) Do you need to put band-aids on your nipples? If you google "bloody 11's" (don't do it) you'll see photos of all sorts of people whose nipples started bleeding during races from their shirts chafing them. (Dear god is this a thing? Yes.) Put band aids on if you want, it won't hurt (except when you take them off). Chafed nipples typically come from people wearing cotton shirts (don't wear a cotton shirt) and run much longer than 10 miles. Not necessary at Broad Street.

15) Don't drink too much before the race. Your partying life is up to you, but having four cups of coffee before you start out may lead to problems along the way (see #3). You may want to bring a small water bottle with you and sip gently before the race, but there will be water along the course. I pretty much hydrate entirely along the way.

16) Speaking of which, don't stop when you get to the water station, there are people still running behind you. If you're going to walk and drink, grab your water from one of the last cup-bearers and step off to the side behind them. If you're going to drink and run, I've found it's best to pinch the sides of the cup together while you bring it up to your mouth. You're going to spill some, but you look gallant doing it.

17) There is also gatorade along the way, typically gatorade is in a green cup & water is in a white cup. gatorade is full of sugar and will blast you full of quick calories. Drink it if you want.

18) Mile's 7-9 suck. The crowd thins out when you get to the sports stadiums and you may think you're going to die, but at mile 7 it's only a 5k and you can do a 5k. Go go go! You're almost there! Crank up your playlist, put your head down and go!

19) The finish line is not where you think it is. The navy yard has beautiful gates and you can see them in the distance and you think omg! it's going to be over soon! but those gates aren't the finish. The finish is about 200 yards behind those gates and it's the longest 200 yards I've ever experienced. However, this is where your friends are, so this is where you should start sprinting so when they see you they'll think you ran like that the whole way.

20) You finished! Don't stop! -- My first year I experienced something called "exercise induced collapse" which has to do with working out very hard and then stopping suddenly and the the blood pooling in your legs and your brain not getting any oxygen. It's not uncommon and it's not dangerous (unless you fall -- so if you feel woozy, sit down first -- at this point don't worry about being an obstruction) but you can keep it from happening by walking. Because of this lots of races are extending the chute that you have to walk through to get your goodies. There's water at the end, take it & drink it.

21) Your medal! Someone, who will look like an angel, because you'll be half blind from your effort and there will be the sun in your eyes too) will put a medal around your neck and you'll stagger down an isle where someone MAY ask you for the food tag on your bib, or they may just hand you a bag of food. It's all good. Tastykake has had stuff in there the past three years. Eat the banana.

22) There are bathrooms at the finish!

23) Find the people you ran with, take your selfies go to an after party, wear your medal.

24) Your cell phone probably won't work at the race finish. You'd think they'd have mad bad cell towers outside a football stadium (especially one sponsored by a cell phone company) but everybody going "hey where you at?" on their iPhones jams everything up like a beaver building a house on a stream. It's better to pick a meeting area before hand. There are meeting spots at the end, you'll see them in your packet pamphlet.

25) Go home, count your toenails, check for blisters, take a bath watch tv, sleep. The foam roller is your friend, if you don't have one, it might be time to pick one up. It's the way to massage the pain out of your legs. They have them at Philadelphia Runner or you can order one on-line (do that now) or borrow one from a friend.

26) You can wear your medal to the office on Monday. You just ran ten miles for crying out loud, be proud!

27) Don't let all this training go to waste. Sign up for the Odyssey Half Marathon. It's the following month. You ran 10 miles. You can run 13. And it's Philly's OTHER best race. It's low key & fun with not nearly the huge crowds.

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest half marathon ever! (again!)

When a bib showed up magically the night before the Philly Love Run Half Marathon I figured I'd use it as an opportunity to test my Broad Street Run pace to see if I could sustain it. Last year I finished Broad Street at a pace of 8:05 minutes per mile -- which was a bit freaky, there wasn't anywhere to go from there but sub eight which had always seemed one of those boundaries between "fast" and "something I can possibly do". (My first time running Broad Street I ran something like 11:35's.) I ran a half marathon in January in 8:11's, almost dying but obliterating my previous best time, and I'd recently clobbered my 5k personal record, running 3 miles in 7:10's (while actually throwing up at mile 2.5) and I'd recently run a 5 mile race in 7:55's -- so my plan was to try and run 7:55's for 10 miles and then jog it in.

I'd had a recent epiphany about belief and performance and also the ability to endure -- all mental, for the most part and I've been feeling that I've turned a real corner in the sportsing. (It goes like this:I am fast, I am strong, I am so fast and so strong that I can ignore this pain for 30 more minutes because that's the difference between winning and not winning. Repeat until collapse or victory.)

For this race I was on the City Kitties team to raise money for stray cats in West Philly & the great thing about that, well, one of the great things, was that they had a tent and a table where I was able to leave my jacket (it was cooold) and not have to worry about it during the run. I wrapped myself in one of those space blankets they'd given me at another race and went off to the starting line. (Photo of me at the starting line.)

I'd run the Philadelphia Half Marathon shortly after the Boston Bombing and security was tight. They wouldn't let me say hello to my sometime training partner Patricia, who's a wheeled athlete doing all these races with just her arms. This time there was no security and I was able to walk up give her a hi-5 and promise to meet her at the end.

I found the 8:00 minute pace team (mike and lou) and settled in with them. Pacers are runners who are "paid" (usually only with free admission to the race) to run at a particular speed holding a flag or some balloons. They're typically much faster than the pace they're running so for them it's just a leisurely Saturday run. This is immensely helpful if you're trying to do something faster than you'd normally run, you have someone to keep up with, and someone who can shout encouragement, find the tangents, block the wind, & all sorts of other things. I figured I'd run with them for a while or a little ahead if I could. The gun went off and for the next two miles it was like a bunch of salmon swimming upstream. My only real complaint about the Love Run is that there were no corrals, just an announcer saying "fast runners to the front, slower runners to the back" -- which is fine if there are 300 people in your race, not 3,000, and there was no wave start, which means, after the wheeled athletes were given a 30 second head start, everybody else shot out at once. So the streets were very crowded and there was much colliding.

(Spoilers, I finished.)
Go me go! You may clickenzee to embiggen!

This all thinned out after about two miles though and I settled in with the pace group. We had to make up for a bit of lost time. Our first mile was 8:05, we did the next two at 7:31 to bank a little bit of time for the big hill at mile 6, then pretty much stayed on pace until we hit it. I was expecting that we'd run what's known as the Odyssey Hill, because it's at mile 13 of the Odyssey Half Marathon, but this was a completely different hill, it started as a somewhat innocuous looking off-ramp onto a bridge, but then turned and continued into another hill that went up, and up, and up, and up, and disappeared around a curve. I passed Patricia here, struggling. Usually nobody but the very elite ever see the wheeled athletes again after they start (at the Boston Marathon, for example, the wheeled athletes finish an hour before the first elite runners) -- so to pass one meant that the hill was pretty significant. I gave her what words of encouragement I could with my head tucked down. Finally we crested the hill, only to find a third beginning right after. I don't remember much of it, except that Lou and Mike kept shouting words of encouragement like "YOU GOT THIS HILL! THIS HILL IS NOTHING! YOU CAN DO THIS!" and my feet went up and my feet went down.

On the other side of the up hill was a giant down hill and we got a little relief for the next few miles. As we approached the 10 mile mark I ran a bit ahead, it was pretty obvious I was going to make my pace of 7:55 and break my previous Broad Street Run record, after that I intended to jog in lightly & go home. But when I told Mike & Lou this, they had different ideas, "You are not slowing down!" they said "We are going to run you in to a new half marathon PR. And by the way, your new Broad Street pace time is 7:47."

Some of the City Kitties team after the race.
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

And I thought, Well, I don't feel terrible so I'll see how long I can hang on to them.. I'd fall back a bit, then fight my way up to them again. Eventually around mile 11.5 I decided I was done & dropped back about 50 feet, where a woman in a black baseball cap gasped to her friend "we have to fight our way back to those pacers!" and I got suddenly inspired, although she wasn't talking to me, and I fought my way back. At mile 12 Mike & Lou decided that I should be running between them whenever we passed a photographer so we could make the Usain Bolt lighting bolt sign for a cool photo op. So they'd yell "photographer!" and I'd struggle back up even with them for 20 seconds, smile for the camera and then fall back a little. As we got back down onto Martin Luther King drive headed back to the art museum Mike said "We're on pace for a 1:45 finish." Being one of those sort of even-clock numbers, 1:45 has always been one of those dream goal barriers for me. Under two hours, under 1:50, under 1:45.... I'd come this far and heck, did I want to break 1:45 -- I hadn't thought it was possible that morning. So, with renewed mental energy, but still flagging legs, I powered on. And in the last half mile I became obsessed with whether or not the finish line was in the same place as the start line. I thought perhaps they'd moved the finish to directly in front of the art museum "Rocky Steps", it seemed sensible, but if the start and the finish were the same, it would mean that after we came out of the underpass to the art museum I'd still have about two tenths of a mile to go. If they'd moved it to the steps, I had about 100 yards to go. This was pretty much all I could think about. I figured if I had to go two tenths of a mile after the underpass I was done, I wouldn't be able to do it. But a hundred yards I could do.

We came out from under the overpass and there was the finish line. I finished about 5 seconds behind Mike and Lou with an official pace of 7:58. Ready to smack down Broad Street now in 12 days.

Note the mohawk on Patricia's helmet.
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

If you're curious my splits were: Splits: 805, 731, 731, 741, 752, 756, 754, 837, 738, 740, 807, 805, 810

After the race, Lady Brack encouraged me to drink this Iron Maiden beer
Yagathai got me. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

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The Bakken Goes Boom!

You probably know I've been working with some professors at the University of North Dakota for a couple of years now, helping to document life in the western part of the state during the oil boom (and now bust) -- we've had a few things come out of that, the most recent of which is The Bakken Goes Boom a book of academic papers and my photos (I did the cover too).

Clickenzee to get a free copy of the book!

There's been some great press so far about the book. (The one from Fast Co. Design is the one with the biggest interview with me if you're looking for Behind the Scenes).

As always, Jordan Techer at Slate magazine printed a big beautiful photo essay.

You can click to see this image larger, this is in case the link dies at some point.

Fast Co. Design did an interview with me and some great photos.

You can click to see this image larger, this is in case the link dies at some point.

We got a nice
writeup in the ND Quarterly where they quote me extensively at the end.

Click to see this image larger, this is in case the link dies at some point.

A positive
writeup in the Daily Freakin Mail that printed a whole bunch of my photos. Oddly enough, the comments section remained relatively civil.

I'm hoping to be able to make it back to Nodak sooner rather than later to keep working on this project.

One of my photos from there, by the way, will be hanging at my show at the Stanek Gallery opening April 1, so you can see it gigantic and up close, the way you were meant to.

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This is not a fitness blog but blah blah blah sports

In Philly every year the big race is the odd-distance 10 mile Broad Street Run that goes straight down the center of the city from north to south and the whole city comes out for it. It was my first race (read about that crazy experience here) and one that I, and lots of other people in Philly, feel an affinity to, so it's the one that I really feel I need to do well. I made significant improvements every year that I've run it and I feel like I can't let that trend down. (Given that I passed out at the finish line the first time, it's a little challenging.) Last year I ran it in a time that I thought was impressively fast (read about that here) and I was a little freaked out at how I'd go about beating that time. But I've had a couple of pretty good races lately, setting new personal records in the half marathon and 5k ... so this weekend I tested out what I'd hope to be my Broad Street Pace (7:55 minutes / mile) at the Back on My Feet 5 miler.

At mile 4 I felt pretty darn good and decided to speed up when I saw Malinda Hill (one of the Twins Run) about 400 yards ahead of me and figured I'd try to catch her. I ran the last mile faster & my average pace for the whole thing was 7:39. I didn't get a medal, but they gave you a whole loaf of bread at the end, which was pretty awesome.

After the race Trillian & I went to the after party at the Bishop's Collar (at 9 am) & then had a party for the West Philly Runners and talked about sports. blah blah.

That's the news from Lake Woebegone.

I swear I'll post interesting stuff sometime soon.

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April 2016 Gallery Show

I've got a gallery show coming up next month at Stanek Gallery in Old City (Philadelphia) -- which is very exciting, partly because Stanek is one of those fancy galleries, it's not like hanging your prints on a chain link fence by a vacant lot. The show is curated by Ross Mitchell from the Barnes Foundation. I've got seven prints in glorious large size, the way you're supposed to see them. You should come check them out if you're in the city.

It's a portrait retrospective going back to 2007 with one of the images from Armed America and going on to my most recent project, working with the University of North Dakota documenting oil workers in the Bakken. In the mix there's also movie director Melvin Van Peebles, some actors, some cosplayers & whatnots.

If you're a "collector" (meaning you think you might buy something rather than just chug the free wine) let me know, there's a special invite-only preview for collectors -- I can get you in. You should come to one of the openings because it's fun to go to a gallery show on First Friday.

Clickenzee to go to the exhibit preview!

April 1 5-8 pm
242 North 3rd St
Philadelphia PA

(You can see a preview of the show here.)

Show up! There will be free booze.

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Editing Hedda Gabler

In the play, Hedda Gabler just takes one pistol from the display case during her fight with George. While making the movie I thought "we have two pistols, and she SAYS 'pistol*S*' with an 's' -- so let's have her take both. And then we spent an afternoon dealing with all the butterfly effects that caused, from how does she now open and close doors with a pistol in each hand? And "how do we get that other pistol back in the box where Judge Brack has already found it in a scene we shot yesterday"? Ultimately though, this scene works better for the pair, but I realize the problems of capricious changes to the storyline.

General Gabbler's Pistols. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest 5k ever!

Many students of cinema overlook the fact the Eye of the Tiger isn't about Rocky; it's about Mr. T.

By the time the third movie takes place, Rocky had lost the Eye of the Tiger -- the fierce desire to win, and Clubber Lang had it. Rocky lost because he didn't deserve to win.

I've been in a slump lately. I missed three opportunities to set a new personal record in the Half Marathon and I was feeling slow and, a bit depressed about the state of my running and was starting to wonder if maybe I'd just hit that peak where age takes over.... And then some things happened, things that are pretty much mostly because of the West Philly Runners. I started paying attention to people who were faster than me and realized that we were approaching running from very different mental places. They were all thinking very positively and I was thinking mostly about how I was slow and running hurt. They smiled when they ran, when their bodies told them to slow down, they sped up. And then I read Matt Fitzgerald's How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle which dissects a number of really interesting races (from rowing to the tour de france to iron men & marathons) with gripping storytelling about the races, interviews with the athletes and then a lot of science about what makes some people able to tolerate more pain than others. I started to think that I wasn't slower than other people, I was just shooting myself in the foot with my brain. And ... I started running faster and I think my perceived effort went down. I broke my half marathon PR a few weeks ago in Chicago and felt like I'd broken out of the rut.

Today's 5k was sponsored by the Philadelphia Flower Show and I wasn't really sure I was going to go -- it was a last minute thing. Finally I figured I'd run over to the race, run the race kind of slow and run home and count it as today's long run. But when I got there I didn't see many people who looked like they were in my age group and I started thinking that placing might be possible and then I thought, Oh, hell, forget running slow, I'm just going to win this whole race.

I'm just going to run until I win this whole race.
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My fastest previous 5k I ran at a pace of 7:19 and people were so surprised at it that I was worried that it was a fluke due to an improperly measured course. I haven't run a 5k full tilt since then (I ran one in December while I was sick and ended up having to stop and puke three times) and I wasn't really sure what my pace ought to but but when the horn sounded a cannonball of people shot past me along Martin Luther King drive and off into the distance. I figured my pace was "in between them and everybody behind me" -- after the first half mile it settled into a big lead pack, me, and then about 20 feet before anybody else. I was the entire chase pack. Around mile 1 someone pulled up along side me and to my horror it looked like he might be in my age group, so I pulled ahead. He responded. I pulled ahead again. He came back. And I remembered something Richard Pogue, one of the WPR's, said to me about a race where something similar happened. He looked over at the guy next to him, while they were both burning up from exhaustion, and said (in his head) I am going to run you into the ground and then you are going to die. So I just took off. When your body wants you to slow down, run faster. By mile 1.5 I started to catch up to the lead pack. There were four or five people way ahead and maybe twenty in a group trailing behind. As people hit the turn around and started coming back I counted them. When I got to the turn around I was in 23rd place, and they all except one looked a lot younger than me. There was one guy in a knitted hat I was worried about. He was in 15th place, about a minute ahead of me. I figured he had to go down.

I sped up after the turn around and started reeling people in. 23rd place, 22nd place, 21st place, 20th, place, 19th place, 18th place. There were two women right in front of me, and then then the guy in the knit cap. I crept up on the women trying to distract myself by looking over at the woods and trying to see squirrels nests or birds and trying to think of what street I was passing. Every time you distract yourself from the pain for a second or less it's a victory. I passed the two women with a third of a mile to go and then the awful just swept over me and I started barfing. I'd thrown up in the last 5k I ran and my nephew, who's a bona fide track star, admonished me for stepping to the side of the course to vomit. "Don't stop, throw up while you run," he said, "it discourages the competition" so I puked, vegemite toast and Irish Breakfast tea, and I ran, as fast as I could. With a hundred yards to go, the guy with the knit hat was about fifteen feet in front of me, but I was gaining slowly. I passed him in the last 10 feet, finishing in 15th place overall out of 240 people. My time was 22:12, with an average pace of 7:08 -- something like 33 seconds faster than my last best time.

Clickenzee to embiggen my victory!

I ran the same course 3 years ago, eight minutes slower. This morning smells like victory. Go me. I clobbered the guy I was three years ago because I got the freaking Eye of the Tiger back. And thanks to everybody who's been there to help me along the way.

I stayed to watch the end of the race. Everybody here won.
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*** EDIT *** After the results were published, I found out that 2 of the top 5 finishers were in my age group. I snatched third place in the last 3 seconds.

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This is not a fitness blog, but I just ran my fastest 13 miles ever (go me!)

Ok, la, la, la, listening to people brag about how they did some SPORTS thing SPORTSIER than someone else it probably the least interesting thing you can read about on the Internet, but this is my diary so I'm writing it down.

About to start this madness. You may clickenzee to embiggen!

I learned about the F3 Half Marathon four years ago when I came out to watch Peter Sagal run it. It's in Chicago, on the lake, in January, and it was @#$@#ING FREEZING. In fact, the "F3" stands for "@#$#@CKING FREEZING FROZEN". It was so incredibly stupid to run this race, I thought, that I'd like to run this race. Back then I had just barely run a 5k and the thought of 13 miles was nuts. But anyway, I signed up for the next year AND I RAN IT! And it was freezing, 15 degrees with 20 mph winds howling in off the lake, and I ran (in a time of 2:09:22) and it was awesome and I signed up for the next one because it's insane to do anything like that. The next year I ran it 20 minutes faster (1:49:44) which was my fastest half marathon ever and I thought I was going to die at the end.

This year I was again ready to run hell bent for whatever -- I wanted to PR again. The weather had all the threats of being warm -- in the 30 degree range, and there was a blizzard raging at home, If I wanted to run in crappy conditions, I'd picked the wrong race. But if I wanted to set a new record, I probably picked a good one. I left Philadelphia at 5am, landed in Chicago at 7:00

Welcome to the party capitol of America I guess.
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I took a cab to meet silveringrid at her office and get keys to her apartment, then I needed to pick up my race bib about two and a half miles away. Checking the bike share app to see if there were any nearby bike rental kiosks I saw this:

Lots of bike rental places in Chicago.
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

Which brings me to a digression -- for as cold as it is, Chicago is something of a bike riding paradise when compared to Philly. We do have a new bike share, but Chicago has LOTS and, it's got protected bike lanes. But despite all the bike amenities, I walked from downtown to pick up my race number at the running store and then I had a couple of hours to kill before I was supposed to meet Peter Sagal at WBEZ to go for a short run. I was a little wary of this since he's a lot faster than me and I figured I should be saving my legs for the race, but I figured if I missed my goal by 30 seconds and I'd run with Peter the day before it would be all good in the end. In the intervening year I'd missed four opportunities to break my PR -- the closest I came was 15 second in the Rock & Roll half in Philly, where I was wearing a bathrobe and carrying a half gallon of milk, but every other effort, I'd missed by at least two minutes. I'd skipped a lot of training during the summer because it was freakishly hot and figured I was just paying for that. Anyway, after picking up my race number I decided to walk to WBEZ to meet Peter. I asked where it was and the clerk in the store told me it was "really far" and I'd need to take a train. Looking on my phone, it was only 4 miles. It seemed weird to tell someone who was about to run 13 miles that 4 miles was beyond walking distance. But I walked, met up with Peter and Eli Finkel a professor at Northwestern and, as Peter described him "probably the world's foremost expert on on-line dating." Eli and Peter were scheduled to do a run and hammer out a discussion they'd started a while back about whether or not running on a treadmill while watching TV (which Eli does) actually counts as running. (More specifically, Peter is of the belief that you're missing out on a lot that way. Eli was of the belief that he didn't care.)

I was hoping to run the race in 8:20's (meaning one mile, 8:20 minutes) and these guys started out way faster so it was pretty much all I could do to keep up. Consequently, I didn't talk much, but it was good practice for not just blurting things out. I had to REALLY think I had something worth saying. It was an interesting conversation.

Questions, interesting ones, I think formed along the lines of

* Is there a spiritual _thing_ that runners experience that makes it different from other exercise?
* Is there a proper way to be "a runner"?
* Is running outside a better way to experience "running" than inside?
* Do you have to like running to be "a runner"?
* Are you losing something of a spiritual experience if you're not paying attention to your running?
* Can one member of a club do all their runs indoors on a treadmill & meet up with everybody else for beers at the end and still be a proper member of that club or do you need to suffer through shared experiences to be a real member of a club?

Anyway. We ran two miles out and two miles back. On the way back, conversation drifted to on-line dating -- specifically things like how algorithms pair people up ("You and LonelyForU42 are a 63% match!") and how people don't actually know what they want when they fill out their dating profile.

We got back to WBEZ, I was a little worried by this point that walking 7 miles and running 4 faster than my race pace might doom me BUT, I've been having a lot of discussions about attitude & sports with the people in the West Philly Runners and I'd come to believe that thoughts like this are toxic and so I classified it in my head as a "shakeout run" -- which I'm not even sure what that means, but I've heard people say it. "This was my shakeout run before the race, it makes me stronger."

Me, Dr. Eli Finkel, & Peter Sagal, not being impressed.
You may clickenzee to embiggen

In any event, I took an Uber to Silveringrid's and hung out with her cats until she got back from work. I had my traditional dinner of mashed potatoes and went to bed early.

Clickenzee to emcuten!

The F3 Half Marathon used to start and end out in the middle of nowhere -- like in a frozen field -- but as the race has grown in size, the last two years it's begun & ended at Soldier Field, which is sort of nice because you're inside and warm right up until the race starts and then when you're done, you just go back inside. Part of me thinks this is cheating, because you're not suffering in a frozen field and, let's be honest, if you're not in this race to brag about suffering in a frozen field, why are you running it in the first place? But another part of me was happy to be warm.

At the start, it was about thirty degrees out, which is nothing as far as running long distances. I kept my jacket on until the end though and then handed it off to Silveringrid and ran in a long sleeve shirt and a short sleeve shirt over it.

A lot of running is distracting yourself and you're golden if you can find something to focus your attention on apart from how sucky it is to be running fast. I was gleefully able to distract myself in the beginning by trying to guess at what point I would be able to feel my fingers and then at what point I'd consider my hands "warm" and then at what, if any, point I'd actually start to feel hot. (By mile 3 I could feel my fingers and I was positively warm by mile 4. I pulled up my sleeves at mile 8.)

My plan was to run 8:20's the whole way and throw on a little burst of speed at the end with whatever I had left but in actual practice I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to convince myself to speed up. This is a problem with probably almost all runners -- they go out too fast thinking they can bank time. ("You cannot bank time" is one of the immortal rules of running.) But I felt so good at the beginning I figured I'd speed up a little to give myself a cushion to crash at the end. At some point I fell in behind a woman who was running perfect 8:05's, she had two people with her who looked to be pacers (people who run with you to keep your speed) -- they were all running in lock step and their speed never varied. "Wow," I thought, "here's someone doing all the work. I'll just stay with them." So I put my head down, concentrated on my playlist and kept their shoes in my sight. If their shoes moved ahead of me, I needed to speed up. At the turnaround at mile 6.5 or whatever I saw the strawberry, Joanne Singleton headed back. She was only about 45 seconds ahead of me. I wanted to text Silveringrid, who was following my race on Garmin Livetrack -- because last year the strawberry kicked my ass by a huge amount. As soon as I thought of it it dawned on me that the type of person who would text someone in the middle of a race is the type of person who's not busting their ass in the race, and the important thing was that I beat my time from last year. So I stuck my head back down and charged along. And at mile 8 I was still with my unofficial pace group and the thought crossed my mind that I actually felt pretty good. At some point in a race it starts to suck and you know it's going to happen. I was very happy that it hadn't started yet, it was just uncomfortable, and here I was, running 8:05's -- way faster than I'd planned.

The suck started at mile 10 and my mind & body had a significant battle over whether or not I needed to keep up. "You're way ahead, you can let them go and slow down, all you need to do to PR is run a 28 minute 5k, which you can do carrying a gallon of milk." Then the other voice goes, "If you stick with them, you can probably come in at 1:45 and totally obliterate your PR!"

This went on for a while and ultimately I slowed down, waved to my pacers who didn't know they were pacing me, and figured I'd try and stick to my original goal pace of 8:22. I did mile 10 in 8:13, mile 11 in 8:22 and then the wheels started to come off, I got tunnel vision, but as I came around a bend I could see Soldier Field in the distance and knew it was close. I threw in everything I had and managed the last mile in 8:29, but it wasn't fun.

I finish, victorious, but the look on my face tells the other story.
You may clickenzee to see my victory larger.

You start having this internal monologue somewhere along the lines where you're promising yourself all sorts of things when you finish. "Body! Don't stop and I will give you ice cream and beer and french fries! Body don't stop and there will be a hot tub at the end of this!" -- in any event, this time for the last two miles I was telling my body that it could lay down at the end. Someone handed me my medal, I took a bottle of water and laid down at the top of a hill where Silveringrid found me.

I finished in 1:47:56 -- knocking two minutes off of my PR which, in the running world, is smashing it.

You may clickenzee to watch my relief

I recovered in a few minutes and headed back to the finish line to pick up some food. Peter & I have had a debate or a discussion for a while now as to whether or not running clothes need pockets. I think they do. They need lots of pockets. They need pockets with zippers too. I mean, if you find $500 on the ground while you're running, where will you put it? Peter likes to be One with the running. Nothing more than a house key on his person, no phone, no music, just him and his suffering. Me, on the other hand I run with a phone, and headphones and my credit card and my drivers license and a handkerchief and bus tokens.... And also, at the end of the race, there are often an astounding number of food options -- not just bananas and bagels, which everybody expects, but all sorts of fitness bar sponsors and weird kinds of potato chips people are hoping you'll fall in love with, and if you're just trying to collect these things with your hands, you're going to get a banana and your water and then you're done. With pockets now ... well, you can sample the world.

To those with pockets go the spoils!
You may clickenzee to embiggen!

There was an after party, and there were badass looking shuttle busses (they looked like they were from Mad Max) taking people to the after party. I looked at the shuttle busses. Silveringrid looked at the shuttle busses. A runner stopped and said "Thanks for pacing me, I was staring at the back of your shirt for the last five miles." That was nice to hear. He got on the bus. Silveringrid & I decided to just go home. Getting on a shuttle bus seemed like a lot of work.

Wandering around Chicago looking for someone to show my medal to.
You may clikckenzee to embiggen!

We went out to a diner near her house. Then I took a bath that lasted about an hour and later that night we went out to a party a friend of hers was throwing. Molly Robison played.

The next day I met up with Peter who had been at Ord Camp, a sort of Ted Talk weekend style thing, and we went out to dinner. He introduced me to some really interesting people who'd been there. Schuyler Towne, who's very into locks, security and how people interact with locks and security, and another guy named Moshe Tamssot, who'd saved the museum of holography from going out of business.

Lock & security expert Schuyler Towne, Peter Sagal, thinking something, Moshe Tamssot, head of the Monks of Invention, and me.
You may clickenzee to Embiggen!

The blizzard blizzarded back home, but I got on a plane and made it out with no problems, back to the cats, back to the wife, all was good.

What's the most awful and wonderful thing you've done lately?

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I had what I recall was a pretty cool dream last night.

Like most of the dreams I remember, it was about a big building. I'd rented a house with trillian_stars and whafford. It was made with rustic wood and was nicely lit by the sunlight. There was a lot of old artwork on the walls and I was excited to be able to take it down and put up art that we had rolled up, awaiting wall space. I was trying to read this incredibly well written short story (on a kindle or some type of device) but I kept getting distracted (Lady Brack the cat was there, wanting attention). At some point I climbed a narrow, outdoor spiral staircase to a roof deck but for some reason couldn't read it there, it was also distracting and I couldn't concentrate on the words, but I knew it was a great story -- so I came down from the roof, slowly, on a fireman's pole, which was right next to the spiral staircase, because we have those in my dream houses..... When I got to the bottom I realized that I was asleep and I wouldn't be able to read and remember the story while I was asleep, so I needed to wake up and read it in waking-life. So I stared at the kindle screen and started chanting the name of the story, so I wouldn't forget -- because I knew it was going to be a dangerous trip to consciousness and I might forget if I wasn't very careful -- chanting the name of the short story ... chanting the name of the short story ... chanting the name of the short story and then when I knew I had it I willed myself to wakeup -- I felt this weird wobbling sensation, like I was bubbling from one world to another, popped my eyes open and was amazed at how tired I was, but I knew I didn't have much time before I forgot, so I turned on my phone and googled the name of the short story:

"For Gerta, the Grammerfit Cat".


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David G. Hartwell, July 10, 1941 - January 19, 2016.

I went to Worldcon in 2009 partly to sell a book I was working on, Where I Write: Fantasy & Science Fiction Writers in Their Creative Spaces and the timing couldn't have been better. My website had gone viral, getting more than two million hits a day, Wired Magazine had just written it up, I was at the center of everything Science Fiction.

I had a meeting scheduled with David Hartwell from Tor Books that night, at the gigantic Tor party and I was pretty confident.

The party itself was amazing. John Scalzi was there, Neil Gaiman was there, George R. R. Martin was there, the place was packed. David and I sat down on a sofa and he looked at every page of my book layout and poured over every one. He was very enthusiastic, telling stories about writers, looking over all the bookshelves. I think it probably took him half an hour to go over the whole thing. He was filled with praise. And I said, "Well, is this something you'd be interested in?" and he said "No."

The Tor Party. Click to see larger.

And I was kind of stunned. Why had he sat there saying all these glorious things for the past half hour? Why waste this block of time on me when he could be talking to George R. R. Martin or Charlie Stoss?

"For what it would cost to print this," he said, "we could publish five Jay Lake novels. The money's just not there to make this a viable book for us. It is beautiful. Thank you for showing me."

He gave me some leads and went back to the party. I realized that he'd known the whole time they weren't going to publish it, he'd known when he saw the Wired magazine article. And the reason that he'd agreed to a meeting was because he cared about Fantasy and Science fiction, he loved it, and he loved all the people I'd been photographing. He'd agreed to a meeting not because he was a bad editor, but because he was a good person.

I think most other editors would have told me on the phone they wouldn't publish it but David gave me 30 minutes of careful praise instead, because he thought it was something that deserved his kind words. Thank you David, for that.

David in Montreal for my "Fandom" collection.
Click to see larger.

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