Best or worst song ever?

In an earlier post I mentioned that one of the reasons I'm writing this blog is that I'm interested in having a better understanding of the technologies that are playing a larger and larger role in our everyday life. In the spirit of a conversation with our friend Sarah earlier today about 'blog bling', I'm pleased to try embedding music into a blog post. To make the post extra-blingy, I've set up a quick survey I hope you'll take.

For those of you using feed readers, I think you'll have to look at the actual blog web site to hear the song and/or take the survey. Here's the link. Have fun!

Elizabeth, Sarah, and Jo-Ann

Elizabeth, Sarah, and Jo-Ann
Originally uploaded by aweber9

On Elizabeth's birthday yesterday, we ran into her teacher Jo-Ann in front of school.

On the training front, things are going well. I had a good speed workout yesterday and did four easy miles today. I have to say the runs after the speed workouts are not a whole lot of fun.....

Birthday wishes from Sarah

Our friend Sarah has written a lovely post on her blog about Elizabeth on the occasion of Elizabeth's birthday.

Have any of your own thoughts to share about Elizabeth? Feel free to post them in the comments!

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Turning 8 Today, originally uploaded by aweber9.

Elizabeth turns 8 today. Wow.

Thoughts on an off day

Since today is an off day from training, I thought it would be appropriate to write about something which has nothing to do with running.

Earlier today I read this article (link) from New York Magazine; it's a review of a book recently published by Random House that is a print anthology of blog writing. I also checked out a blog written by another blogging colleague (perhaps there are a lot of those....) named Kempton Mooney. The article and Kempton's blog reinforced some things I've been thinking about lately as an avid consumer of media products (books, music, movies, blogs, web sites, etc.), as an employee of a media company who thinks a lot about the future of our business, and as a person with a lot of hobbies.

The first thing is that I'm constantly amazed by the incredible depth of content and information we all now have access to - typically from the comfort of our home or office. In just the past two days I've seen several examples of this: someone watching (from their home computer) a Library of Congress video of the first recorded balloon flight, my mother in law finding this map (Shelby Township - Oceana County, Michigan that shows the property her great-grandfather owned, and the creative stories and works outlined in the NY Mag article. I'd guess that several years ago seeing the balloon flight video would have required a trip to Washington, DC and getting the map might have involved traveling to Oceana County. Without the web, the bloggers highlighted in the book might never have had the chance to connect with an audience interested in their work.

The second thing is the relative ease with which people can connect to others with common interests. I recently took a short photography class taught by Cal Vornberger, author of Birds of Central Park. The book has incredible bird photography with the added bonus of being shot right around the corner from us in Central Park. At the class Cal mentioned a well-known bird photographer and teacher named Arthur Morris (check out his photos here: Birds As Art Photo Gallery and his website here: Birds As Art. Through Birds of Art site I've had the chance to join a bird photographers forum called, where I can post bird pictures I've taken and have them critiqued by great teachers like Arthur. I think it's simply amazing that the web and other technologies give pretty much anyone the ability to easily connect with and learn from well-known experts who in turn have the chance to more broadly share their insights and their message).

Though I've spent a lot of time at work over the past year thinking about how all of the things happening in media and technology will affect book publishing, it's been really fun so far to write this blog and has brought the concepts to life for me in a whole new way. We talk a lot at work about the idea of communities forming on the web at sites like facebook, librarything, myspace, ravelry, and others, but I'm now experiencing first-hand the power of the web to help people form and join communities. In time, I hope (expect?) that The Longest Run will become a mini-community of people from all the different walks of my life - be they friends, extended family, work colleagues, or people I've never met but who are interested in the same things I'm interested in. It's a chance for me to share in a new way the things that are going on - goals, projects, pictures, movies, books, articles, thoughts, challenges, etc.

Would love to know what you all think; let me know via the comments!

The Snowman

The Snowman, originally uploaded by aweber9.

Elizabeth specifically asked that I blog this here it is. Elizabeth and Sarah made the snowman with our neighbor Evelyn. I can confidently say I've never seen a snowman with brussels sprouts eyes!

Scott's Oriole in New York City

Nice article in today's New York Times about nature and birding in New York City: Lemon Zest. Photo courtesy of Cal Vornberger/New York Times.

Birthday Celebration

Birthday Cake
Originally uploaded by aweber9

We're in the middle of birthday week; yesterday was Sarah's 6th birthday, and Elizabeth's 8th birthday is on Wednesday. We enjoyed a great chocolate cake - check out the recipe: Double Chocolate Layer Cake. We did change the recipe to use a white buttercream icing rather than chocolate ganache. Special guests for dinner included Katherine's mom and our neighbor Ann and her daughter Evelyn.

A long run, and notes on training

Phyllis has been watching the blog carefully, and wondered out loud why the pace for my run on February 21 (according to the data on the tracking widget at the very bottom of the page) was slower than the day before; she thought it might be a function of having had too much wine at my birthday dinner the night before.

I'm pleased to report that the pace on the 21st was just about what I'd planned on, and I'm sorry to report the target was not influenced by a hangover! That said, the whole issue of pace is a tricky one.

Take yesterday's run, for example. According to the training schedule, I needed to do a long slow run - something like 7 to 10 miles at a pace of 10+ minutes per mile. Given the snowstorm on Friday, we'd delayed our departure for Connecticut to Sunday, giving me a chance to do the long run in Central Park (pictured above during Friday's snowfall). The roads were clear and the temperature was very comfortable - about 31 degrees. I ended up running 9.1 miles at a pace of 8:50 per mile - substantially faster than target. I'm now trying to figure out whether my slow runs are too fast or whether my fast runs are too slow; when I did my tempo run earlier this week (three fast miles sandwiched between a slower warmup mile and a slower cooldown mile), the pace for the fast miles was about 8:30 - not much faster than the pace for yesterday's entire run.

What I've learned about training programs so far is that you want a mix of easy-paced and fast-paced runs. You use the easy-paced runs to build endurance, to train your body to store more glycogen, and to develop the confidence that you can in fact run really long distances; the fast-paced runs are designed to help improve your race times. Most of the training mileage is of the easy-paced variety; in fact, only one of the training runs in my schedule each week is supposed to be fast-paced. (If you're interested in seeing the whole schedule, check it out at: Training Schedule - Brooklyn Half-Marathon). While going too fast might seem like a good problem to have, it runs counter to another important aspect of a training program, which is managing to stay healthy and injury-free.

Social Media Will Change Your Business

Apropos of yesterday's post on why I blog, I came across this article - it's a great primer on the increasingly important world of blogs.....

Social Media Will Change Your Business

Why I'm Blogging

A recent post by a friend of mine from work (Matt & Amanda Get Married: Why I Blog) inspired me to write a post about why I'm blogging. I didn't have the chance to post on the topic before friends at dinner last night asked me the same question, so our conversation helped me to further refine my thoughts.

I've started blogging for a few different reasons, some of which will change and evolve over time. In no particular order:

* Blogs have been an important factor at work over the past year. I've found a number of blogs which have some great perspectives on the major changes under way in media businesses, which has been really helpful for developing my own perspective. In addition, blogs and online activities in general are becoming an increasingly important part of the way books are marketed and discovered. Given those factors, I have a professional interest in the blogging world and figure writing my own blog will help me have a better grasp on what blogs are all about.

* I have a further professional interest in understanding the technology behind blogging and the internet and figure that managing a blog and trying out lots of cool features (blogrolls, widgets, photo/video feeds, etc.) will help me learn the technology in a way that wouldn't be possible by just reading a book.

* I've taken on the challenge (as described in earlier posts) of running the NY Road Runner's Club Half-Marathon Grand Prix and the Chicago Marathon in 2008. Before I ran my first half-marathon earlier this year, I found that it was fun and helpful to talk about the upcoming race with a lot of people, both to work off anxiety and to give myself extra motivation to complete the race (I didn't really want to go back to everyone and tell them I'd had to stop after 9 miles, after all). Some of the conversations were with people who'd run half or full marathons and people were great about sharing details of their experiences. Since I waver between total confidence (most of the time) and high anxiety (some of the time) about what lies ahead, I can only imagine it will be helpful to have a community of supporters out there rooting for me. To that end I hope everyone will make liberal use of the comment feature (see the link at the end of each post).

* Like Amanda, I've kept a journal off and on during my life, and I'm eager to have a record of how I approach the races which lie ahead. My earliest example of 'journaling' was on my first trip ever to New York City - I think I was about 14 years old at the time. The journal is a funny compendium of all the stuff we did - the shows we saw, the meals we ate, etc. - along with the impressions of New York City on a teenaged boy from Texas. The journal provides an early window into my geek persona as I wrote in great detail about all the different kinds of lights which were used in the production of Dreamgirls - fresnels, lekos, etc.. Oy.

* I'm hoping that blogging will help me stay in closer touch with the far-flung community of friends and family in my life. At dinner for my birthday (!) last night my friend Bob asked me to call out highlights of my just-completed 40th year. His question reminded me of a 2007 review I did at the beginning of this year - a process described in this New York Times blog entry: Year-End Review, With Yourself - Shifting Careers - Small Business - New York Times Blog. As I looked back over 2007 - which by the way was a great year - there was a strong theme of friends and family; I felt I had the opportunity on many occasions last year to spend lots of time with people who are important to me - my immediate family, my extended family, old friends, and new friends - and that the year was richer for it. While it's not always practical to see people in person, it gives me great satisfaction to know that there's a broader community out there that I'm connected to.

Though the blog is supposed to be about all the miles that lie ahead (including over 200 miles of training between now and the Brooklyn half-marathon), I'll certainly write about other stuff that's going on, including but not limited to photography, technology, Elizabeth and Sarah, cooking, gardening, birding, books, friends, family. I hope you'll let me know what you think along the way.

Much to report......

We've moved on from Philadelphia to Connecticut to continue our extended weekend. Sorry to disappoint you that I did not manage to get in a run which involved running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art while listening to Rocky - though it did cross my mind and I *do* have some songs from the movie on my ipod. We had a great time traveling with the kids, who enjoyed their first concert (George Strait) in spite of the fact that they slept through most of it. The opening act - Little Big Town - was pretty good. I really enjoyed this song: Bring it On Home

Today is the official kickoff of training for the Brooklyn half-marathon, race number three in the NYRR Half-Marathon Grand Prix. Having finished the first two races without formally training, it will be interesting to see how I'll perform with a real training plan leading up to the race.

After running my first half-marathon in just over two hours, I set a goal to get into the top 50% of finishers, whether overall, by age, or by age & gender. The NYRR site has a cool feature where you can browse, in detail, the results of all the finishers of a race. Based on a look at the data, if I could get my half-marathon time down to about 1 hour 52 minutes I'd be in the top 50% of all finishers.

Today's run took place in surprising conditions. In honor of the dreaded triple-h (hazy, hot, and humid), I'll call today triple-w: wet, windy, and warm. At a time of year when the high temperatures are in the upper thirties, we hit the mid-fifties today here in Connecticut. After it rained more or less all night last night, most of the snow cover is gone and we're left with a dreary brown landscape. Conditions were fine, though, for today's training run - 4 miles at an easy pace.

Tomorrow is an off day; I'll write more then about the training schedule.

A couple of housekeeping items: you'll see now in the upper right hand side of the blog an email entry form. For those of you who would like to follow the blog (and I hope that's all of you!) but don't use a feed reader such as Bloglines, Google reader, or NewsGator, you can have new posts emailed to you by filling out the form with your email address. There's a short verification process you have to follow, but once you're set up you'll automatically receive new posts.

I've also added a nifty widget down at the bottom of the blog that shows what I'm doing on my daily runs. The widget - which you can only see if you look at the blog on the web (as opposed to reading it in email) - comes courtesy of


Lazy Sunday morning here in Philadelphia. Elizabeth and I are at breakfast, enjoying cofee, newspapers, Nancy Drew, and each other's company.

We'll spend the early part of the day in Philly and then head up to Connecticut.

The Liberty Bell

We are in Philadelphia today and doing an afternoon of history tourism - including the Liberty Bell, which the girls are super-excited to see. We're off now to Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross house.

Happy 10th Anniversary Simone!

While this blog is *mostly* about the journey toward my first marathon, I will periodically write about other stuff that interests me. My mom called tonight to share the news that she'd reached her 10th service anniversary working in my father's medical practice as the financial manager. Congratulations Simone!

Back in the Saddle

Went for a run in the Park this morning. Here's the route:

This was my first run since last Sunday's half-marathon, and I have to say I'm still feeling a bit dead-legged....

The Training Bible

I've checked out a few books on running, and of all the ones I've looked at, Bob Glover's The Competitive Runner's Handbook: The Bestselling Guide to Running 5Ks through Marathons is my favorite so far. I plan to use it as my training bible.

Looking East Across the Jackie Onassis Reservoir, Daybreak

Originally uploaded by aweber9
This is a picture from an early morning run a few weeks back - January 25th, to be exact. Inspired by a long early-morning run I took with my friend Jordi in Houston at the beginning of January, I've come to love running in Central Park early in the morning - the park is totally quiet and shared only by animals, runners, and bikers.

The picture feels like an appropriate place to start the story of my big challenge for the year - to complete the New York Road Runners club Half-marathon Grand Prix and to run the Chicago Marathon.

The NYRR Grand Prix is a series of five half-marathons, one in each borough of New York City. So far I've completed Manhattan (in 2 hours and 2 minutes) and the Bronx (in 1 hour, 58 minutes); Brooklyn is up next at the end of April. I've signed up for Chicago - which takes place over Columbus Day weekend - with Chris Landgraff. The notion of running Chicago came up while we were visiting the Landgraffs in Chicago last October...where the weather was so hot the marathon was actually called off before most people were able to finish.

I've been looking for an excuse to blog, and this seems like as good a reason as any. I'm not sure yet exactly what I'll write about or how often I'll write....but I plan to share lots of details about training, fun runs, and anything else that might come to mind.