Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quick Trip to Delaware; or Danny the Dummy Pacer

My weekend started on Friday when I went to my father's award ceremony where he was honored at the South East Champion of the Children for 2015. This was a well-deserved award for all that he does for the children he works with as a special education director as well as just for being an awesome father and grandfather. Glad I could be there to help him celebrate.
My brother, Matt brought up his daughter Olivia and it was nice to see them. I had to fly out early the next morning because I would have otherwise hung out with them longer. Every time I see her, she is cuter than ever.
Don't the hours grow shorter as the days go by
You never get to stop and open your eyes
One day you're waiting for the sky to fall
The next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all...

The next morning, Kendra and I flew down to Philadelphia where I was attempting to pace her to qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon. She had put in the effort and miles and was ready to go. We had chosen the Delaware marathon because it was supposedly a flat course but what we didn't account for is the heat and humidity we encountered. And what Kendra didn't account for was my poor pacing skills.
We spent the day before the race exploring Wilmington and Newcastle Delaware with Kendra abiding by a no alcohol policy while I imbibed and sampled crayfish nachos and other spicy delights not ideal the day before the marathon.  

New Castle

 Tubman Garrett Park- The start and finish of the Race

How I'm sure most of you have heard of Harriet Tubman, but how about Thomas Garrett? I hadn't.
Garrett, a Quaker,  worked as a stationmaster on the last stop of the Underground Railroad in the Delaware. He openly defied slave hunters as well as the slave system and allowed escaped slaves to stay at his place.  Garrett helped Tubman as she passed through his station many times;  providing her with money and shoes for the slave runaways. Interestingly it was Garrett provided Tubman with the money and the means for her parents to escape from the South. It is estimated that he helped over 2,000 slaves get to freedom and supposedly he is the prototype of Simeon Halliday in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.

While the course was fairly flat, we did somehow have to get up and down that bridge somehow four times

History has a way of putting things in perspective. We weren't running away from anything and were opting to subject ourselves to 26.2 miles of running. So I shouldn't have anything to complain about. But.....
Race morning was already sticky and hot but seemed like we'd luck out with some cloud cover. After missing a BQ by 11 minutes in Mississippi, 3 of which because I took her out too slowly, I decided not to make the same mistake. I took her out at 7:45 minute/mile pace thinking that if I could get her through the half with a bit of a buffer, we could settle in for the second half. That nearly if ever works. I repeat: Don't build a 1/2 minute/mile buffer into your marathon plans!

Side bar: This race is beautiful! Tree lined streets, good support and a fun post-race celebration. Negatives about it are the excessive turns in the first few miles as you make it out of Wilmington. Beyond that it is definitely a good race to do.

We did go through the half within seconds of her half marathon PR which would have been good if she was racing a half. As it turns out however she was not and we soon hit the figurative wall. The humidity and the hills came at the wrong time and we had to stop a few times to make sure we stayed hydrated enough. She was able to muster some decent last miles so I know it wasn't a fitness issue so much as pacing and weather related.

I know she was disappointed that she didn't qualify but it's still early enough in the season that she will be able to compete again before Boston registration opens up.

We spent the rest of the day and the next exploring Philly both walking and on rented bikes.  We drove by Eastern State Penitentiary. It opened in 1829, and was one of the most expensive American buildings of its day and supposedly the most famous prison in the world. The Penitentiary would not simply punish, but move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change. It used a Quaker-inspired system of strict isolation from other prisoners, with labor. To prevent distraction, knowledge of the building, and even mild interaction with guards, inmates were hooded whenever they were outside their cells and primarily kept in isolation. The thought was that the criminals, exposed, in silence, to thoughts of their behavior and the ugliness of their crimes, would become genuinely penitent. Thus the new word, penitentiary. However, it was thought to be inhumane and by the 1900's it started allowing prisoners to exercise together. And by the time Al Capone was imprisoned there in 1929, it allowed for lavish accouterments and lost it's original intent. Very interesting building and history.
Eastern State Penitentiary
We stopped by Monk's Cafe which is proported to be the bar that brought the Belgian beer craze to America. Cool bar but with half the beers in double digits, we decided not to stay there too long.

 Kendra even ran the Rocky steps. The day after the marathon. That's how I know she still had some left. I think she will be qualifying soon enough.
Rocky Steps

Cool murals are all over the place in Philly

Speaking of marathons. If you aren't doing anything next weekend and want to volunteer, contact Michael Wade and help out at the first ever Gate City Marathon. Maybe I'll see you there!

PS. It was not until after posting this that I found out that today was the 30 year anniversary of the MOVE bombing where the Philadelphia polic commisioner ordered a bomb be dropped on a row house in West Philly killing 11 people including 5 children. It is amazing how much history I do not know. Find out more about it at Wikipedia.

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