The Steamtown kind of vacation.

It has been five years since I went ‘home’ to visit friends and family in Scranton, PA. A little over five years ago, as a newlywed, we packed up all our belongings into a rented Penske truck with my rotting 1993 Subaru Legacy on a car porter towed behind it and made a long drive from State College, Pennsylvania. The final destination was Sunnyvale, California. Only a 2,732 mile drive. Oh yeah, did I ever mention I’m afraid of heights?

The last time I flew on an airplane we had a really rough landing at the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Airport. That experience made me avoid airplanes as much as possible. I promise I wont let five more years go by without visiting but I’m not quite over the fear yet! 😉

Moving onto the epic journey: I’ll be the first to admit it: I really like mass transit. My journey home involved everything except a boat. I would have liked to ride a boat though so I’m not discriminating.

Here is what it looked like:

I took the bus to work, worked 8 hours, got on the light rail right outside, transferred to Caltrain in Mountain View, transferred to the Bart at the Millbrae Caltrain/Bart station, transferred somewhere (San Carlos?) to the Skytrain to the San Francisco airport. Then after a long 3 hours of sitting around we boarded that Airbus… and somehow I managed to make it to Philadelphia where my in-laws were waiting for us. What a travel day…

The main “excuse” I had going to Scranton was to run in the Steamtown Marathon. The only experience I had with the marathon during the time I lived there was playing for the runners when I was in the Scranton High Marching Band. I never thought I’d be one of those people running it.

It started very early Sunday morning in almost freezing temperatures. I know I’ve finally adapted to the California weather standard and it felt like -50F there! The marathon was unreal. There was actually more volunteers than runners. 2500 runners and over 3000 volunteers… and that is not counting all the people who came out to support the runners. It was unreal running through all the small towns that I never even knew the name of when I lived there!

Not sure why I was smiling. Maybe it was after I finally got to that much needed porta potty at mile 13!

That lady in the background was totally checking me out.

Running down the finishing chute... I had goosebumps!

I cherry picked this image becuase Kelly isn't smiling for a change 😉

Exhausted but very happy with the results!

During training I basically kept the same structure before with the long runs on the weekends and short runs during the week. The one thing I did change was introducing some short speed work in one of the shorter runs and the results paid off. I came in 57 minutes earlier than I did in July at the San Francisco Marathon! So my new PR is 4:23… so I only need to take another hour and some change off before Boston…. yeah right!

The other days I spent catching up with family and friends. Since it was five years I had a LOT to catch up on. I wish I could pack some of them up and ship them out to California. Here are some photos of some of the fun and strange things we did.

Scranton Farmers Market - lots of apples!

And a ton of peppers!!!

Locals are probably saying "WTF" that I posted this and chips, but it has been 5 years since I have seen this many pierogies in one place! I've seen 3 boxes of plain Mrs. T's at our local grocery shops! haha

Middlesworth Chips!!!! These are missing from the west coast, although my bodyweight is thankful for that.

I used to work here! No, not playin baseball... I was a "beer man" walking in the stands!

I never thought I would eat at a place with "lube" in the name, but their chicken wings were pretty tasty.

I ended up getting a cold that put a big damper on things but we still drove down to State College, PA to see the alma mater… Penn State! We walked around the campus looking to see what has changed since we left in ’05. We even walked past the spot where I proposed to Kelly. 🙂

Probably the best thing at PSU - creamery ice cream!

The required Nittany Lion Photo with Kelly.

and of course, me!

The trip was fantastic. The marathon was just the sprinkles on the chocolate fudge sundae. It was great seeing family and friends. I *promise* that I won’t take another five years to go back and visit.

How do I know, you ask?

Well…

Kelly and I signed up for this:

It is only a little over an hour drive away from Scranton and makes the perfect “excuse” to come back in next year. It may be Kelly’s first 70.3 (although I doubt this, I can already feel the Vineman vibes coming from her!) and the Steamtown Marathon is the week after… sounds like a plan!

Video blog #2 – My first piano!

Upon arriving home here in Scranton one of the first things I had to do was sit down and play my piano. I paid for this piano mostly from my own paper route money when I was around 13. It has been through a lot and taken a lot of abuse but it loves me and I love it! It probably hasn’t been played since my wedding day over 5 years ago!

My apologies for the abrupt stop, my camera woman misinterpreted my signal when I was about to get up, kick the bench over, and play great balls of fire. Oh well – maybe next time! 😉

The Phillies Room – My first video blog!

I gave it the old college try last night and made a video blog of what I found when I arrived back in Scranton. Now I haven’t been back to Scranton in 5 years so I didn’t know what changed here – but I was honestly surprised the most that my mom’s spare bedroom transformed into a Phillies tribute room.

I apologize in advance for the terrible video. I get really nervous in front of a camera and I think I said “I figured” and “that’s about it” like fifteen times! I will try to get better, I promise! 😉

* I shot it in 1280HD so you can probably load it in super HD if you click on it… not that you want to see or hear me in HD 🙂

Happy One Year Runniversary to me!

About one year ago was when I picked up running when I completed the Steven’s Creek Trailblazers 5k. I tried running a few times leading up to that race but never really gave it much effort and failed on following through on the Couch to 5k program a few times. Something at that race clicked in my head and it revved up some internal running engine. I didn’t participate in this year’s Steven’s Creek Trailblazer because the Santa Cruz Triathlon was the same date… and well I have a lot more fun running when I can swim and bike to warm up. After that first 5k I decided to go with it and register for the Bridge to Bridge 12k run in San Francisco the next weekend! So I went from struggling at the 5k distance to struggling at the 12k distance in one weeks time. It hurt but it was the good kind of hurt… and it woke up the inner-beast.

In fact I kind of look like a beast! Here:

I made two very rookie mistakes.
1: San Francisco is cold in October so I thought wind pants would be a good idea. Not so much because after 30 seconds of running I was drenched in sweat.
2: Don’t wear a non-sweat wicking hat either. My dumbass wore a hat to “keep the heat in” and ended up carrying it in my hands during the entire race.

… Jump to one year later …

Race day arrives and I show up with a race belt, spi belt, sweat wicking shirt and visor! Yeah buddy, I’m in business. I even slathered some unmentionables in BodyGlide! I was ready to rock it. And I did. I finished 16 minutes earlier than last year. My run speed is probably terrible compared to the average runner but I don’t care – it was a huge personal accomplishment to me. I felt validated for spending a year training and getting stronger. I could have knocked another couple minutes off it to if I wasn’t holding back a bit for that little Steamtown Marathon coming up next Sunday!

The photos for the Bridge to Bridge aren’t up yet, but here, have one from the Santa Cruz Triathlon that I did the previous weekend.


At least look like I know what I’m doing now!

The Santa Cruz Triathlon – Olympic distance – was a blast! It was the perfect race to end the triathlon season with. I won’t go into details because I’m getting yelled at to finish packing my luggage, but the only problems I really had was with my swim sighting. I was happy to get under 3 hours for my finishing time, and I look forward to knocking that down another 16 minutes at least by next year! Here are a few photos from the race:

I was going balls to the walls, just look at my face!

I swear to god I spend 95% of the time in my aero bars but they always take phots of me on the hoods.

See? wtf?

I WAS IN THE DROPS I SWEAR GRR

Into T2 to do that cooldown run.

10k cool down after a plesant swim in the ocean and a plesant bike ride. Heel strike 🙁

Kelly looking happy as awlays.

See?

Kelly finishing her first olympic triathlon! So proud!

Sorry for the quick recaps, but I’m heading off to bed. I’m getting on a plane after work tomorrow to fly to Scranton, Pennsylvania to visit family and friends. I’ll be running in the Steamtown Marathon on Sunday too. I have no worries about the marathon but I’m terribly scared of flying ever since experiencing a terrible landing coming into Avoca, PA. Hopefully I get myself in check by tomorrow!