Thursday, November 30, 2006

Haiku Challenge!

I've teased, tortured and made you wait long enough! So without further adu, welcome to the first ever Running Haiku Challenge!

A Haiku is an ancient form of Japanese poetry consisting of three lines of verse. The first and third line contain 5 syllables. The second line 7 syllables.

Here are a few of my mediocre examples:

My feet ride on air
fast and free down city streets
I am a runner

The heart rate quickens
Cool air dries the hard effort
running against wind

My shoe laces tied
I will run a marathon
Crazy I must be

To enter the Running Haiku Challenge simply email me your haiku to morefew {at} gmail dot com.

Your Haiku may be dramatic, inspiring, humorous, funny or just plain silly. It only needs to be an original work in haiku form and somehow running related.

A highly qualified team of expert panelists* has been assembled and will review all of the submissions. The field of entrants will be narrowed down to:
  • Honorable Mention
  • 2nd Place Runner Up
  • 1st Place Runner Up
  • Running Haiku Grand Champion
All winners will have their haiku published on this blog later in December. Beyond the glory, international super-fame and eternal bragging rights The Running Haiku Grand Champion will receive a very special gift (actual award to be announced later).

Don't delay - email your Haiku to morefew {at} gmail dot com today!

*Er, Ah, Salena and me. And no, we're not really haiku experts. Sorry.

"In accordance with our principles of free enterprise and healthy competition, I'm going to ask you two to fight to the death for it."
-Monty Python

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Please allow me a moment of self indulgence... I would like to direct your attention to my new 5k Personal Record. Tonight at speed work I kicked it up a notch. Bam!

And.... For those who have been waiting, the moment is almost here. I shall reveal the details of the competition on Friday, December 1st. I hope the creative juices are flowing!

"A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains."
-Dutch Proverb

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Muses of Running

Thanksgiving morning I found myself not with coffee, mimosa or eggnog in hand, but rather running the streets of Queens and Roosevelt Island in the cold and rain. A logical question to pose here would be...Why?

I'll get to that shortly but first a little back story.

During Wednesday night speed work I had made arrangements to meet Matthew W. for an 8:00AM run Thanksgiving morning. Nothing serious, just a few easy miles before the tryptophan-induced lethargy of Thanksgiving turkey. However when I woke, I woke to a near freezing downpour and thought to myself, "self, you don't really want to go out there..." So I emailed Matthew W. looking for a way out.

On Nov 23, 2006, at 6:42 AM, Josh Morphew wrote:


Given the lousy weather, I am inclined to not run this AM. What do you think? My cell is XXX-XXX-XXXX.


Four minutes later Matthew W's one sentence response:

On Nov 23, 2006, at 6:46 AM, Matthew W wrote:

You can't BQ if you don't make the sacrifices....

Needless to say Matthew's Boston Qualifier reference not only got me out the door but also gave me a psychological push. If I can get up and out the door on a cold and wet Thanksgiving morning then I'll certainly have no excuses when training actually begins later this winter.

While running in the rain I commented that the running muses will surely look favorably on us. And indeed they did. The weather on Friday, Saturday and in particular today was fabulous for running. Dressed in shorts and a technical t-shirt I felt like I could run forever. And my iPod turned out a killer playlist.

Thanks for the push Matthew.

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

PS - Check back soon for more details on the forthcoming competition.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


This Thanksgiving many people will travel all over the world to spend time with family, friends and loved ones.

I recently came across this video by Aaron Koblin. It is a visual representation of flight data from the Federal Aviation Administration. It is also an exceptional metaphor for how humans connect, particularly through the internet.

At a minimum it is three minutes of interesting imagery set to music.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(PS - I have decided to host a competition of sorts... I will release the details soon. In the interim I suggest you put your creative thinking hat on. )

"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."
-Herman Melville

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Too Much or Not Enough

It has now been two weeks since the New York Marathon and I've run seven times - twice in the first week and five times this week. Certainly my weekly mileage is down but the pace and intensity isn't - of the seven post-marathon runs just two have been easy days. I step out the door with the knowledge that I should be easing back into things but my feet connect with concrete and I soon forget.

Yesterday I was out for a 7-miler with the Hellgater's and ended up running with Eamonn and Mike B. A few miles in the pace quickened and Eamonn, who is coming off the NYC marathon and also having foot issues, dropped off. Mike and I continued on at a brisk pace. At one point I looked down at my fancy watch and realized we were running better than a 6:40/mile pace. Whoa! We finished 7.1 miles in 50:28 - a 7:06 pace.

Along the way Mike noted that I was running well and asked if I could have gone for more at the marathon. Hmmm... Now that is an interesting question. I did run a significant PR. My legs did turn to concrete 20 miles in. I was stiff and sore for days afterward. But could I have run faster? Could I have pushed harder?

Today, I went out by myself for an easy five. It started off well. But again things seemed to speed up somehow. Here are my splits:
  • Mile One - 7:58
  • Mile Two - 7:13
  • Mile Three - 7:07
  • Mile Four - 6:51
  • Mile Five - 6:43
Despite some minor aches and pains my body seems to be managing the effort without issue. I just hope that I am not overdoing it because there are a few things I would like to accomplish this spring...

"All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work."
-Calvin Coolidge

Monday, November 13, 2006


I readily admit that I am a bit of a beer snob. When faced with the predicament of abstaining or having some mass produced swill I will instinctively choose to go without. It's practically a knee-jerk reaction. However, when it comes to the style of beer I am rather open minded. I enjoy hearty stouts and porters, pilsners and pale ales and wheat beers too!

So naturally when I came across I was intrigued. Basically, if you wanted to buy me a beer and send it via email you could open your browser and your wallet and send a $5.00 "YouGotBeer" gift card. The gift card arrives via email snail mail and can be redeemed at several national chain restaurants.

Ok, so the downside is that you have to consume your gift at TGI Friday's, Chili's or the like but it's still a free cup of cold barley soup!

When you care enough to send the very best... When you owe someone a drink but don't have the time... Or when you like someone, just not enough to sit down and drink with them... Click a Pint.

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
-Benjamin Franklin

*Disclosure - I have nothing to do with this company nor have I actually tried the service.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States can receive. The medal is generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America.

Personal politics and opinions on the war in Iraq aside Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham is truly a hero. His actions define courage.

My thoughts go out to his family and hope that they find some solace in this posthumous honor.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
-John, 15:13

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New York City Marathon: Part 2

The Marathon as Teacher

I have now run four marathons in four years and each 26.2 mile encounter has taught me something new.

My debut was the 2003 NYC marathon where I ran a 4:18:06. I learned that the physical demands of the marathon can cause an emotional response and I learned that simply finishing a marathon is a great accomplishment. I was absolutely elated and despite having to walk backwards down stairs for a few days the afterglow lasted for weeks. I rank this among the most significant achievements of my life. This was a particularly thrilling period of my life because three weeks prior to the marathon I was married to a stunning beauty. Being in the taper period of marathon training while on a Caribbean honeymoon is highly recommended!

For my sophomore marathon I returned to the starting line in Staten Island for NYC 2004. I ran 4:03:17. This was a fifteen minute improvement but still mildly disappointing as I was hoping to crack four hours. Lesson learned: starting out too fast is really, really bad.

In the autumn of 2005 I found myself in Chicago’s Millennium Park across from Buckingham Fountain. The Chicago Marathon was significant for me for a variety of reasons. It was my first marathon outside of New York and its flat course suggested fast times. The Windy City was also the first time my mother and father were able to watch me run. The pressure was on and I delivered a 3:50:20 – a twelve minute PR.

I was thrilled and exhausted but having dropped forty pounds and having been cigarette free for years I was also in the best physical condition of my life. My parents were (hopefully) proud and certainly amazed – they’d never seen a marathon before and at the time the 2005 Chicago Marathon was the largest marathon ever. Lessons learned: 1. Training with a group is a Godsend. 2. Speed work is a necessity.

For my fourth and most recent marathon I returned to the Big Apple with lofty aspirations - a sub 3:30 marathon. I choose a fairly aggressive training schedule featuring relatively high weekly mileage. Admittedly I fell a little short of the mileage totals but tried to compensate with quality speed work, hill repeats, and tempo runs. I cut alcohol from my diet completely and cut back on sugar as well.

On race morning I rose early and met my Hellgate teammates. Together in the brisk predawn air we waited for our charter bus to the starting line which was not to come. Apparently our driver was out on a bender the night before and overslept. Scrambling, we found our separate ways over the Verrazano Bridge to the starting line. Fortunately all of my teammates made it to the start and once settled there was plenty of time to relax and prepare.

I had a fairly low bib number and thus was able to line up toward the front of the chute with fellow Hellgater Jessica (who ran a stellar first marathon!). The starting canon fired and the field of 38,368 athletes began their race.

I ran them conservatively but for me the first miles seemed to click by very fast. Before I knew it I was in Brooklyn motoring up 4th Avenue feeding off the wildly enthusiastic spectators. Across the boulevard I saw Morrissey who was running very strong and soon passed me by.

The race made its way through Brooklyn to the half way point at the Pulaski Bridge and into Queens without incident. I took water or Gatorade as needed and knocked off the miles with calculated focus and an almost hyper-awareness that I’d not experienced before. As I approached Mile 14 I began looking forward to seeing the Hellgate cheering squad which was a big boost and propelled me to the Queensboro Bridge. Interestingly enough there was some construction which blocked all the sunlight. For a hundred meters or so we ran in complete darkness. Eerie, but kind of cool.

Coming down off the bridge into Manhattan and fabled 1st Avenue is of course all it is cracked up to be. The crowds roar and cheer and encourage the runners along their journey. My wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her significant other were there with signs, high fives and a quick sweaty kiss before I plodded along.

Like many runners I began to fatigue at about Mile 19 and took a mouthful of chocolate PowerGel to compensate. I’ve not had this flavor before and unfortunately it upset my stomach making me feel nauseous as I made my way into the Bronx. Nausea and the proverbial “Wall” – not a good combination.

“Josh! Josh! What do you need?” I looked up from my impeding stupor to see Kate and Marc running after me with Gu and water which I gladly accepted – thank you guys!

Moving back into Manhattan from the Bronx I knew I had a difficult climb up 5th Avenue to Mile 24. The nausea continued, the fatigue settled and I could feel the concrete beginning to set in my legs. I entered Central Park and the focus and awareness I’d know through the first 18 miles had long since diminished. At his point my brain had turned off and I was running on sheer will.

Just before Mile 25 a work colleague caught sight of me and jumped, shouted and flailed to get my attention. I snapped out of my grim daze only long enough to smile and wave. I passed Mile 25 and picked up the pace for the last mile and finishing kick the finish on Tavern on the Green.

I passed through all five of New York’s boroughs, over five bridges, past an estimated two million spectators and crossed the finish line 26.2 miles later in 3 hours 31 minutes and 26 seconds – less than a minute and a half short of my goal. Yes, I was disappointed but the feeling wasn’t overwhelming and it did not last very long.

Completing anything brings with it a certain amount of satisfaction. Approaching and crossing the finish line of a marathon is on an order of magnitude quite different from that of, say, a professional or academic achievement (did you ever loose a toenail or bleed for a final exam? How about for a new client?). Completing a marathon is the culmination of months of daily effort and encroaches on the boundaries of what the human body is physically and mentally capable of, particularly in those last few miles. It is an exhausting, consuming and utterly worthwhile achievement.

So what have I learned from this, my fourth bout with the marathon? I have learned that you cannot skimp on the long runs. I have learned that gradual and unrelenting pressure on the body yields impressive results. I have learned that pushing too hard too fast causes the body to breakdown. I have learned that the marathon rewards the dedicated and punishes the over-confident. I have learned you never know what challenges the marathon will put to you.

Perhaps most significantly this marathon has taught me something about myself. It has taught me that I am hungry for more. I want to see just how far and how fast I can push myself.

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfactions and a sense of achievement."
-Steve Prefontaine

Monday, November 06, 2006

New York City Marathon: Part 1

I am still gathering thoughts on my NYC Marathon experience. I will publish a full report soon. In the interim, I will say this - I finished.

I crossed the finish line in 3:31:26. For your amusement, here are a couple of photos of me along the course. The first is in Queens at Mile 14 the second photo is on 1st Avenue just past Mile 16.

More to come...

"How poor are they who have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees."
-William Shakespeare