Saturday, December 28, 2013

Probably Missed It

The other baseball draft.  Yep, there are two of them.  It happens each year at the end of MLB Winter Baseball Meetings.

Not to worry though as most are probably barely aware of the (main) June baseball three day draft these days.  But this one is quite unique - The Rule 5 Draft.  I think the basic reason this draft exists is help prevent teams from stock piling minor league players who have some real potential to make it to the big leagues.  This is a good thing for those players who do get drafted in Rule 5.

Once a minor league player has been playing in the minors for four or five years and they are not on the MLB team's 40 Man Roster (which means they are protected), any other MLB can draft them.  The receiving MLB team pays the other team 50K for the right to do this.  And the drafting MLB team MUST keep the player on their next year's 25 Man Roster (these are the 25 guys who show up to play each MLB game).  Also, this draft is in done in reverse standing order from the previous season, so last place team gets first pick.

For the 2103 MLB Rule 5 Draft, only nine teams drafted.  The other 21 teams passed.  Currently, as a fan, I follow three teams: The Atlanta Braves - home town team, NY Mets - favorite team growing up, Houston Astros - they drafted my son.  So I was curious if any of the three drafted and if so, who.

Astros - selected LHP Patrick Schuster from the Diamondbacks

Braves - did not make a selection

Mets - selected RHP Seth Rosin from the Phillies

Great, I thought this would add an interesting dimension for the upcoming season, it would be fun to follow these guys on the 25 Man Roster for the Astros & Mets.  However, this was not to be as both teams immediately traded their Rule 5 Draft picks away.  Rosin was traded to the Dodgers and Schuster to the Padres.

Why draft a Rule 5 and the next day trade?  Are these back room deals?   I'm sure there are many reasons why an MLB team would do this, but the vision that keeps on coming back inside my head is of Don Corleone as he scratches the side of his chin...

"Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, consider this... a gift"

Friday, December 27, 2013

1961 - Baseball Cards

I'll trade you a Roger Maris and a Tom Tresh for a Micky Mantle.


Actually I cannot honestly remember if that deal happened or not, but I do recall vivid memories of me and my buddies - Johnny, Eddie, Tommy, Mickey, and Ronnie trading baseball cards in the Northern NJ suburb of Mine Hill in 1961.

That was more than 50 years ago but that is where my attraction to the game of baseball started.

Oh yeah, regarding the big baseball card trades made, it really did not matter as the fate of most of the cards was the same:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jelly Beans, M&Ms, Oreos, Pretzels, Orange Slices, and Bananas

If this was Jeopardy, that would be the answer to the question:

What do marathoners eat during a marathon?

Looking at the course map for the upcoming Georgia Marathon, they provide these six food items to the participants while on the course : )

And they also provide water & Powerade (17 times) to wash everything down!

Although I have a huge amount of respect for the marathon distance and those who do them, I really am not a fan of this distance.  Of the 45 races so far for me, only three have been marathons.  Marathons are hard.  I am more of a fan of the half marathon distance, although half marathons are also hard, they are not as hard as a full marathon.  However, it is my intention to do this marathon.

The reason:  I want to do the Great Saunter (32 mile walk around Manhattan) again and this marathon is about six weeks before the Great Saunter.  So over the next few months I will build up my walking distance to acclimate my body and mind to walking for up to 10 hours (or more).  I will use this marathon as an interim goal.

What I really like about the Great Saunter, it is not a race.  It is a saunter.  Saunter, according to the dictionary, is to walk along in a slow and relaxed manner.  So the goal is to basically see Manhattan at about 3 MPH, it is not about who can do the 32 miles the fastest.

Back to the Georgia Marathon - one of the things I really like about it, it is walker friendly.  The following is from their FAQ page:

Although the 15 minute mile pace (4 MPH) is faster than what I need for the Great Saunter, this should set me up to be able to complete and enjoy the Great Saunter.

So that's my goal.  Maybe I should start acclimating my body for the marathon foods  : )

Why do I get the feeling Buddy the Elf would actually like this marathon???

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Number 45 - 26th Annual Jingle Jog 5K

It's not too often when you show up at a race and find more people dressed in Santa hats or as an Elf than not :)  For race number 45, I did the 26th Annual Jingle Jog 5K and there were plenty of festive dressed people, they even gave us jingle bells for our shoes...

What I really like about this race, they encourage all to  purchase and bring an unwrapped gift to donate.  The Salvation Army truck is there, with the band playing Christmas songs.  It was just nice.

This is really just a fun race with a big theme - Christmas!  It is not a serious race (for those who actually do take racing these serious).  In other words I suspect one would not qualify their time in this race for the Peachtree Road Race.  The course started and ended in the Perimeter Mall parking lot, parking was super easy.

It was a quick course with many of the people just enjoying it - running, walking, jogging, it did not matter - folks were there for a fun time.

I was quite amazed at the sponsors at the end of the race - you could actually get stuffed partaking of it all:

Trader Joe's (hot cider!) with Santa and Mrs. Claus 
Firehouse Subs
Jim & Nicks Bar-B-Q, sliders & Brunswick Stew
Uncle Julio's
any many more!

I do  a lot of races and I do not think I've ever seen so many at a finish line.  It was nice of them to provide this.

After the race, it was still before 9:00 AM, had plenty of energy - headed up to Suwanee Greenway and walked another 12 miles.  The energy was gone after that!  It was a good morning.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

By the Numbers

There is somewhat of a ritual after a race - checking the results online.  It does not seem to matter how fast, or how slow you go, it's just fun to checkout how you did.

Out of curiosity (and waking up way too early in the morning) decided to look at the make up of the people who finished the the Atlanta Half Marathon in the last three years - 2011, 2012, & 2013.  Consistently the women out number the men.  Over that three year period 11,691 women have crossed over the finish line compared to the men at 11,254.

Digging a bit deeper, I categorized these numbers by age group.  The findings surprised me.  I'm not sure what it means or if it means anything at all, but it is interesting.  Over the three year period, the women consistently out number the men up age 39.  From age 40, the men consistently outnumber the women.  Again this is a small sample size.  But I was intrigued by these numbers.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Number 44 - 2013 Atlanta Half Marathon


It is not suppose to be this cold in Atlanta for Thanksgiving!

It was a crazy cold day for the 2013 Atlanta Half Marathon.  More than 8000 people signed up to do this race but the race results show that 6728 actually did the race.  Do you think the others basically said "too cold" and just stayed in bed?  Maybe they're the smart ones  : )

Although the race did not start until 7:30 AM, I volunteered to help out with crowd control prior to the start so I had to be there by 5:15ish.  Of course when I signed up for this I had no idea it would be this cold.  This meant besides figuring out what to wear for a race in these temps I also had to have more layers on for the two hours or so in the freezing cold before the start. This actually worked out well as the organizers wanted participants to have that top layer and take it off just before the race started as a donation to folks who have a need for some warm clothes.  This was good - the Atlanta Track Club volunteers would pick the items up, the ATC would wash them and donate them via

So there I was at 5:15, with a lined, hooded jacket and a fleece scarf over my race clothes looking for the volunteer check in tent.  But first, needed to use the porta-potty.  I was in luck, there were hundreds of them and of course at 5:15 there were no lines.  Life is good!  Oh wait a minute, they all had zip lock straps on them and I have nothing that will cut through.  Hmmmm...  Continued to look, got lucky found one not locked!  Great!  Took care of business and quickly discovered NO toilet paper!  Oh great!  No one around, in the dark, in a freezing porta-potty at 5:15 AM...

Exited the porta-potty a few minutes later minus one fleece scarf whose destiny served a different purpose.  I guess it was a good thing it was cold enough to have that scarf!  Lesson learned, again, always check first...

Next found the volunteer check-in tent.  This year was a bit different, it was definitely more secure.  I suspect this is byproduct of the Boston Marathon bombing.  This year we were issued credentials to be worn on a lanyard while working our volunteer shift.

Met the rest of the volunteers for Corral "E" and we moved into location.  We were freezing, especially toes and fingers.  I tell you, we are not use to 23 degrees in Atlanta!  As the 7:30 start approached I shed my jacket over the fence and we started moving closer to the starting line.  Was not quite sure what to do with the lanyard & credential so I just flipped it over my back and forgot about it.  Closer and closer we got to the start.  The start was under the Olympic Rings from the 1996 Summer Olympics:

And we were off!  The first couple miles, as usually, were very crowded.  But that is to be expected in any big race - it's just part of it.

A couple of things happened in this race that I had not seen before:

The first thing, because of the freezing temperature there was a pretty significant ice problem around the water stations.  Inevitably water gets spilled, this is normal.  However, the road was cold enough and the air was cold enough for that to form ice.  Much caution had to be exercised when going through these areas.  Again, in the deep south, we are just not use to this  : )

Second, I was moving along the course, minding my own business, and a runner (who I do not know) pulls up besides me and says "why weren't there enough parking spaces for the race"?  My initial reaction was, she's not talking to me, she must be talking to someone else.  Nope, she was taking to me.  Her tone was not a making conversation on the course tone, she was complaining to me that she had to pay $10 for parking.  This puzzled me, why was she picking on me?   About a half mile or so later I figured it out - she saw the credential on the lanyard that I flipped over my back when I switched from volunteer to race participant.  I did not have have the chance to tell her - I'm just a volunteer.

And last, I'm still not sure if I should have laughed at this or felt sorry for these people.  This happened in between mile 3 and mile 4 in the half marathon.  A little background first - there were two races today - a half marathon (13.1 miles) and a 5K (3.1) miles.  They were different courses with different starting areas and the half started at 7:30 and the 5K started at 8:00.  Well these three people were talking to one of the course monitors (volunteer who makes sure car traffic does not interfere) and basically were asking where the finish line was.  I think they were 5Kers who for whatever reason started with the half marathoners at 7:30!  They expected the race to end a 3.1 miles.  I have no idea how that one was ever resolved.

It was a good race.  It was a really good workout.  I walked the entire race in 2:56, had an average heart rate of 135, and according to my Garmin, burned 1410 calories.  That meant I could enjoy that turkey dinner even more!  And as usually each finisher gets a medal:

2013 Atlanta Half Marathon medal

Also, the race organizer - Atlanta Track Club - as a token of their appreciation for volunteering, gave us each a commemorative embroidered jacket.  Much appreciated!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Race 43 - Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon

For race #43 in my quest to do 100 races before retiring (from work), I did the Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon.

The battlefield is about 10,000 acres and is located in northwest Georgia.  Prior to the race I did read up on  this Civil War battle and the facts about it were in my mind virtually the entire time during the race:

A three day battle in September 1863

125,000 Soldiers (60,000 Union  65,000 Confederate)

Estimated Casualties: 34,624

1,657 killed
9,756 wounded
4,757 missing & captured

2,312 killed
14,674 wounded
1,468 missing & captured

While on the course I tried to imagine what that must have been like for those soldiers.  I also wondered what they would think of us 150 years later doing a foot race where all of this took place.

The Race:

Since Mary & I drove up the night before it was no problem getting to the race on time (so glad we drove the 125 miles the day before instead of the morning of :)  Had plenty of time to look around - one of things I noticed, the Civil War cannon - I had heard they fire the cannon for the start of the race (and they did).

It was a chilly 29 degrees at the start of the race - think everyone wanted to get the race started just to warm up.

and we were off..

There was so much to see and read on this course. I found myself stopping and taking pictures of things that explain what was going on in the location during the battle.  I really want to come back here again (when it's warmer & not a race).  However, following are a few of the pics I took:

Baldwin's Brigade

Sept. 19, 1863 3 PM
3 men killed, 4 men wounded, 3 horses killed, 3 wounded
typically do not see things like this during a race
so many cannons
As you can tell, I'm not really "racing" in these races.  I do them for exercise and they actually are fun.  I walked this entire race in 2:57 (about 13:30 per mile) so it was a a good workout.  I do want to come back and really spend some time taking in all this history.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Race 42 - White Mountain Milers Half Marathon

So it's early Tuesday morning, about 20 degrees outside, listening to the radio - 93.5 WMWV in North Conway, New Hampshire...

Nice warm fire on a cold New Hampshire morning
and the sports report comes on and the first thing they broadcast - the results of the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon!   It even got reported before they reported the Boston Red Sox taking a 3-2 lead over the Cardinals in the World Series!

In a state with the motto "Live Free or Die" there is a running group with the motto "Run Free or Die", the White Mountain Milers and they hosted the 28th annual White Mountain Milers Half Marathon.  I had the opportunity to do this race with my daughter last Sunday in North Conway, New Hampshire.

Temp in the 30s for the beginning of the race

Besides doing this race with Jen, I was also looking forward to it because they had a "Walking Division" that you could sign up for it - so I did.  So this race was to be a bit different from any of the other 41 I've done so far because I actually had a chance at placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the Walking Division.

We got to North Conway early enough to pick up our race bibs and cycle through the porta-potty line one time.  They asked during the announcements to line up according to your minutes/mile pace so I made my way towards the back.  I was hoping to walk the race in the 12-13 minute/mile range so I got to the sign that said 12:00 and waited for the race to start.

The race started out on the backside of the Schouler Park Train Station and I could see the guy way up front with the air-horn as the race started.  My assumption was (as this was a chip timed race) that my time would start when I crossed over the start line.  But as I approached the start, I didn't see any starting mats.  Hmmm... so I figured it was chipped timed at the end only.   So around the start line I started my Garmin.  Basically it added a minute or so to my overall time.  Funny, usually I could care less about this type of thing as I do these races for fun, health, & exercise - but since I was actually trying to place in this race I was not happy about losing that time :)  Oh well.

The race took us through the main street in North Conway and plenty of people were there cheering everyone on.  By the time we were at mile 1 the crowd support thinned out.  But in a ~600 person race, that is pretty normal.

The hills were not too bad in this course.  The only thing that was a bit frustrating (and a bit scary at times too), they did not block traffic on the majority of the course and we were all on the side of the road with traffic.  Most drivers were very considerate and took plenty of precaution not to hit us, a few were driving way too close - was not happy with them.  Most of the main intersections either had a member of the local P.D. or a race volunteer.  There were no problems at those intersections.

Since I was actually trying to place in this race, I did not stop to take any pics during it.  There were plenty of very picturesque views - the White Mountains provided some incredible views, quite a few farms, and my favorite - a covered bridge from 1890.

My chip time for this race was 2:48:39, a 12:52 mile pace and this qualified me for 2nd place in the Walking Division.  It was a good race.

Afterwards was fun as we had a lot of family there supporting Jen & me.  It always adds a really nice dimension to the race when family is there at the finish line!  My sister and brother-in-law treated us to lunch in one of the shops in downtown North Conway - it was very nice and much appreciated!

Later that night we had a surreal experience for a post race desert treat - ice cream from the Sandwich Creamery.  Luckily Jen & Will knew the way there (it would be really hard to find in the dark not knowing where you are going, it is really in the middle of nowhere) and the surreal part - it's the honor system!  No one is there, it's self serve from a freezer of prepackaged half pints, pints, quarts.   You just put your money in the slot for the ice cream you take.  It may have been the best ice cream I've ever had!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bear Hair Gap Trail

Although this was plan "B", it turned out to be a really good hike.  With a 5:00 PM wedding to attend up in the North Georgia mountains and my desire to hike the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia (in sections), this was the perfect opportunity to hike a portion of another segment of the A.T.  The plan was to park near Neels Gap and do an out and back hike.  Good plan except the parking area was beyond filled - nowhere to park.  Plan "B", head north to Vogel State Park and see what we could find.

Bear Hair Gap Trail

Vogel State Park has four trails:

- Byron Herbert Reece Nature Trail  ( .8 mile )
- Trahlyta Lake Trail  ( 1 mile )
- Bear Hair Gap Trail ( 4.1 miles )
- Coosa Backcountry Trail ( 12.9 miles )

The choice was obvious for us this day.

More energy was spent in the first half of the hike with the elevation gain.  It was not too bad, but it was definitely noticeable.

Some of the things we saw on the trail:

this deserved a close up

Vista at the top

Huge granite boulders on the back side

And we made it to the wedding in time (after a quick shower - but no nap!)...

Ashley & Matt's Big Day!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Race 41 - 13.1 Atlanta

Did the 13.1 Marathon in Atlanta this morning..  This race is so close to home it's just hard to pass it up.  Think just shy of 3000 people did the race.

Typically races of the distance of 13.1 miles are referred to as "half marathons" because it is half the distance of a "full" marathon which is 26.2 miles.  But not this race/series, they are referred to as 13.1 Marathon.  I think this all stems from some who do not think that a pretty tough event distance (13.1 miles) should be referred to as half of something else.  Oh well - any way you name it, completing 13.1 miles is hard.

With the race organizers telling us that parking would be limited (and suggested taking Marta (Atlanta's subway))  figured I should get there even earlier than I typically do : )  Arrived with plenty of time to spare, enjoyed a bunch of tunes on the iPod, very relaxing prior to a race.  So relaxed, noticed a resting heart rate of 45,  figured I should walk around, before a fell asleep!

One of the things I really like about this race is how organized they are.  They do this race series, 13.1 Marathon, all over the country so I guess they have some really good race day set up experience.   The volunteers were setting up the finish line area when I got these shots:

The bling table - medals, medals, medals,...
My favorite post race drink - ice cold chocolate milk!
Eventually got to my starting area.  Basically they had three areas, area A & B for fast runners and area C for everyone else.  But in area C there were signs with expected finish times so you could position yourself in the right area.  It all worked out pretty good.  The one odd thing about this race, it started at 7:00 AM with sunrise at 7:31 AM.   Not a problem, just different.

just before the start, in the dark

My plan for this race was to walk the entire race with a goal time of in between 2:40 and 2:50.  I've done half marathons in the past in that range but that was when I was still doing some running mixed in with the walking.   So that was my challenge in this race.

The only thing that stands out in my mind about the course was the hills.  None of them were "killer" hills but there were quite a few of these rolling hills.  Hills always makes it harder (heart rate rising) and always takes longer.

Finish time was 2:45.29, 12:37/mile.  I met my goal.  My reward - ICE COLD CHOCOLATE MILK!!!

And it was good.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, the bling...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Race 40 - Duluth Fall Festival 5K

I walked the Duluth Fall Festival 5K this morning.  This was my 7th time doing this race, four times as a runner, twice as a walker/runner, and this time as a walker.  This morning I had an average pace of 12:07 per mile for a finish time of 37:39.  Ironically, my walking time this year was faster than my walking/running time last year.  The bottom line for me on the walking, no knee pain!

This is a fun race for me.  It's close to home, the Fall Festival is going on with lots of activity before and after the race, it's just a good community type thing.

This year four of us did the race.  My son, his fiance,  my wife, and I made our way to the starting line on a beautiful, crisp Fall morning, with temps in the mid 50s and enjoyed the race.  This was a very special race for my wife as it was her first race!

Raney, Daniel, me, Mary after the race

And of course, for participating we all received a 28th annual Fall Festival 5K, 100% cotton, long sleeved t-shirt!

Perfect timing as we make our way into the cooler weather!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Walk at the Braves Stadium

Rarely a year goes by that we do not get down to Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, at least once.  But here it was late September and we had not been to see a major league game live.  We were able to snag some first row upper deck seats (my favorite) to see the Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers.  Since the Braves had just clinched the division the night before the game did not have much significance.  However, they were still competing for home field advantage in the playoffs, but that was about it.

This was day 69 for me in my goal to walk 1000 days in a row so I needed to incorporate a walk into the ballgame.  By taking Marta (Metro Atlanta's subway) to Five Points and transferring over to the Georgia State University station it put us exactly one mile from the stadium.  Arriving early to the stadium allowed us to watch some batting practice and get in another two miles just walking around the stadium.  It was a fun three miles.

It was fun seeing the stadium prior to the game crowd getting there.  Some of what we saw...

Baseball Art

Brewers taking batting practice
Easy getting a walk in before the game


More baseball art showing the cities the Braves have had for their home town

There are no shortage of places to grab a bite to eat at the ballpark and it is much more than hotdogs and peanuts.  As we were deciding on what to eat I could not get over the sign that had prices for pizza.  The regular price (meaning you are not a season ticket holder) was $34.00!  There was other pricing craziness in the sign but the 34.00 just stood out so much I had to get a picture:

$34.00 pizza
We made out way up to our seats and enjoyed the game.  The Brave lost 5-0 but as always, for me, there is never a bad day at the ballpark.

During the game, just looking around, noticed something that I thought would be very hard to explain to my grandfather, if he was still alive.  My grandfather took me to my first MLB game at Shea Stadium in 1969 (the miracle Mets that year) and was a huge baseball fan.  The picture below is a guy in the first row by the on deck circle, with a TV nearby and he's looking at his tablet device...

Ah, but the best thing about the game this night, it was fan appreciation week and everyone in attendance received this:

Free ticket for a 2014 Braves game!

So we will go to game next year, but I'm pretty sure we won't get a pizza!