Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Working From Home

This year I took a new job with a very large consulting firm based in Texas, that happens to do alot of work in PA. In the 15+ years that I have been in the industry, this is my first forray into "working from home."

I've dabbled with the concept here and there - with my previous employer I'd work from the house every so often, but not with any consistency. With my current employer, I am home 100% of the time.

Working from home has presented some unique challenges for me because I am - as many of you know - a "people person" and there's one thing that's lacking whilest working from home: PEOPLE.

So to put it bluntly, by Thursday in a typical week, I've usually lost my mind from the lack of any social interaction with people. I mean don't get me wrong - I am on the phone alot - but it's not the same. It's been a bit of a culture shock coming from a very small office with about ~25 people to, well, me. And the last place I worked was an insane asylum. I was the head nut-job in charge.

There are a number of "pro's" when it comes to working from home. I get to make my own schedule. I dont have to drive. I can sleep in. No more SEPTA (although truth be told, I do miss my morning commute occasionally). For all of the goofing off that I do around the house, I do get alot more done in 6 hours than I would probably do in an eight hour day at the office.

The con's - they speak for themselves. There's alot of distractions around this house. There's the lack of people.  On any given day, I might wind up talking to my cat for an inordinate amount of time.

I have to admit that maintaining motivation is a challenge sometimes. I am stepping into a new role within the organization in the next couple of weeks, which will have me out of the house more, which is good, because I don't think I could do this for the long haul. I am not wired for it. I know alot of people who love this shit. They think that "working from home" is the greatest thing ever. And this is the direction in which the industry is going - my company is the perfect illustration of that principle. We probably have more people working remotely than we do working in static offices. I guess I am just "old school."

I am contemplating running a 5k tomorrow morning that we're timing (I am off, but I'll run it then help Tim with the timing). What's a better way to kick off the New Year then to bang out a 5k? It's close and I know the course, as much of it overlaps my Wednesday Delco RRC run. I'd rather be mountain biking....

Sunday, December 28, 2014


I recently stepped into the role of my running club's "Newsletter Editor" which means I am responsible for producing a monthly newsletter. I start out each newsletter with a letter blurb from me to "set the tone" for the newsletter. For the first newsletter of 2015, I have adopted a new motto of "keeping it real" in 2015. Now I adopted this motto more as a gag than anything else, but the one thing that I realized as this year drew to a close, is that I have very little to show for it in terms of racing or partaking in some sort of crazy endurance event. This year, I didnt do a marathon or an ultra. As a matter of fact, I took off from running for most of the summer.

Clearly, we need to fix that for 2015. So I have compiled a preliminary list of events that I would like to try. There are many more that I would like to jump ino, but my timing commitments keep me tied up through most of the spring, so the result is a list that really isn't really my "A" list but it's a list none the less

"March Mahem" MTB Race at Camp Ockanickon in Medford, NJ (3/7/2015)- There used to be a really fun off-road duathlon that I have done a few times at this very same venue, but saddly, the promoters no longer host the event. The trails at this place are flat, twisty and fast. I used to crush the mountain bike portion of this event, and I want to race this venue just so I can ride those trails one more time. 

The Spartan Sprint, Blue Mountain PA (7/18/2015)- I am not a huge fan of gimmicky runs. Call me old fashioned, but color runs, mud runs, spartan runs, etc have never been on my radar screen. I don't want to take away from the effort that it takes one to complete some of these events, but these events are not for "runners" and truth be told, my running resume is impressive enough that I think I own the right to periodically look down my nose at events that I think are, well, silly. One of my boys from DU came up with the idea of a bunch of us soon-to-be-40 year olds jump into a team event and this is what he came up with. So I will give it a shot. 

1/2 Sauer/ 1/2 Kraut, Philadelphia PA (6/13/2015) - this is an smaller marathon at Penny Pack park. I chose it because it's a themed event and smaller, which I like. Downside:it's in the summer (think: heat) and I will probably have to work this weekend. But I am "penciling it in" for now.

Atlantic City Relay Challenge (6/28/2015) - this is where I make my triumphant return to multisport by only doing one "leg" of the race - the run. This is a half-iron event and I am doing the run. Not sure how/ why I agreed to do this. 

This list doesnt include the occasional 5k that I'll throw-in as an after thought when I am off from timing an event, but one of the other timers is working. I'll just show up, grab a bib, and jump in.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Every once in a great while I get to actually jump into a race; a feat that is usually preceded by weeks if not months of the most minimal training I can do, that could still qualify as "running". Keeping the tradition alive, I jumped into the Reindeer Romp yesterday, and was subsequently reminded that running no more than eight miles a week is not the most effective way to train for a 5k.

In my own defense, I was kinda tired from having worked yesterday morning timing a race up in Horsham. Timing a race is generally a solid 3-4 hour effort of being on one's feet- it's draining. And I spent the day prior walking six miles all over NYC with the Family. In the long run, none of this probably would have made a huge difference. A lack of training trumps all other excuses.

Windy and cold. Not my favorite race conditions, but it beats rain, sleet, snow, slush, ice, locusts*, thunder, lighting, lava and any other forms of inclement weather that I havent listed. The Romp course is an out and back with a loop, same start and finish. Downhill start, uphill finish.

We came to Party, and instead, we got locusts

Since this was a Run The Day gig, I had to start the equipment and then jump into the fracas. I started off fine, averaging an 8 minute mile for the first mile. But any idiot can run a mile. It was the second mile that hit me hard because the lack of training really started to peak it's head in the door, and we hit some hills. I don't like hills. Hills = no good. But the inevitable fact of living in Delaware County is that there are hills. Everywhere. And judging by the sounds of the girl running maybe 15' behind me, the hills WEREN'T alive with the sound of Music. It sounded like either the sound of vomiting or asphyxiation. Definitely not music. And no Van Trapps. Or Nazis.

3rd mile, things start to level out, including my pace, when I realized that a sub 25 minute effort came and went. At that point, the mind starts to say to itself, "just finish."

The 3rd mile is a doozy. The last half mile is uphill back towards the finish. I have this off and on again issue with my calves. It's been that way for years - they don't react well to hills, on occasion. This happened to me last week on my Wednesday club run as well. Two miles in, and I was done. My calves were so tight they felt like they were going to burst. It's the hills. Anyways, same thing happens on the last half mile. I'd venture to guess it was a 8 out of 10 on the suffer scale. Anyways I finished in 26 minutes flat. I ran a 5k speed test at the gym about 2 weeks ago and humped out a 25:11 but that's of course on a treadmill, no hills, no wind.

7 out 18 in my age group, 35-39 males, 154th overall out  of 473

I have a 5k lined up on New Year's Day. We're timing it, but I'll get to run it. We'll see if I can break 26. I'd be happy with 25:30 right now.

* I think I would run a race in a torrential infestation of locusts just to check it off the list.

Friday, January 10, 2014

I Do... Now, wait, is it too late to change my mind??

The Wedding Day 5k
by Frank Durso, Run The Day Race Management

As a professional race timer, I can honestly say that I have seen it all when it comes to running. I have seen the fads come and go and some are here to stay for the foreseeable future: Zombie Runs, Tough Mudders, Ugly Mudders, Spartan Races, Trojan Races, Ugly Trojan Races, Color Runs, Pickle Runs (shameless plug), etc etc so forth and so on. Whew. As a runner myself, I get tired of thinking of all of the ways I can try to disguise and rename what is nothing more than the simple act of trying to get from point A to point, without a vehicle, with the company of a couple of thousand of your closest friends, who are all trying to get there faster than you are.

New for 2013: The Wedding Run. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl date. Boy and girl get engaged. Boy and girl plan a big wedding. Boy and girl also happen to be runners and decide that it would be a real hoot to have a "Wedding 5k." I cant think of a better idea than asking your bridal party, close friends and relatives to lace up the 'ole running shoes and trot a couple of miles in celebration of the pending nuptials. It's all fun in games until Uncle Morty keels over from a massive coronary at mile 1. The last time Uncle Morty ran was for the last bread roll at the Trump Plaza buffet when he went to AC with your Aunt Linda back in the '87. While the unfortunate tale of the late Uncle Morty might be a *bit* of an exaggeration, it's a great intro for the topic of today's blog: How Do I make my Wedding Day 5k a Great Success!?

Let's start with the basics. For any race to be successful, there has to be runners. Sounds simple right? So, ask yourself the simple question: "How many family and friends do I know who would be interested in participating?"

Second question: Where? It's easier for me to tell you where NOT to have a race as it is for me to tell you where TO have the race. DON'T have the race on any open roads. God forbid your cousin Louie - who drove three hours from Coxsacky New York - gets nailed by a distracted texting 16 year old girl driving Dad's '91 Buick LeSabre.

No one wants that . especially your parents, who inevitably will harange you with "I told you this whole 5k thing was a bad idea. You and this jogging. All the time with the running. Tell her Sol. I told your fathah that this jogging idea was trouble. And now this. Your poor cousin Louie. He was just about to marry that nice Russian girl he met over the intranet or whatever it is you kids are using these days. With the FaceSpace and the MyBook... When are you two going to start trying for a baby?" **

Pick a place, like a park, that has a walking/ running path that's closed to traffic. State Park permits might run a couple of bucks, but if it avoids a funeral or a trip to the ER, consider it a small price to pay. Locally, here in Delaware County, Ridley Creek State Park is a fantastic venue to host a small 5k. In addition to a beautiful race course, there are several pavilions that are available to rent - it's perfect for the post race BBQ. Just be aware that no matter where you decide to host the event, the odds are good that you'll need some help. Even the simplest courses should have some folks out on the course stationed at the tricky spots, making sure that the runners are heading in the right direction, and depending on the weather, throwing a small "self-serve" water station at the halfway point may not be a bad idea. Recruit some of your non-running relatives to help provide some race day support. Since they aren't runners, and probably won't run in the race, they'll be happy to be able to take part in the event and enjoy the festivities.

How serious are we trying to make this cute little event? Are we going the "no-frills" route aka timing the race with a stop watch and a clipboard, or going with a professional timer? There are pro's and con's to both options. "No-Frills" certainly keeps the costs to a minimum. But a professional timer brings the "big-race" atmosphere to the event. It's a unique opportunity for the non-runners to get a sense of what happens at a race, and it will "wow" the experienced runners. Think about some non-traditional timing formats, like a "prediction" style event. In a prediction, the runners guess their anticipated finishing time before the event, and the runners who finish the closest to their predicted times receive awards. Prediction events give everyone - regardless of ability- the opportunity to win a prize. And it's a great way to encourage the non runners to participate by giving them the option of running or walking at their own pace.

And remember, this event should FUN. Try to throw some "wedding day" themed activities into the event. Encourage all your runners to run in the most outlandish wedding attire they can find. For the ladies, this means old prom dresses, or maybe even an old bridesmaid gown left over from another wedding, that's been sitting in the closet collecting dust. For the fellas, a trip to a thrift shop for a second hand suit maybe in order. Encourage silliness. Tell the guys to find a suit that's reeking of 70's or 80's charm. What better way to congratulate the first male and female runners than a slice of "wedding cake" in the face as they cross the finish line. Have the first place male remove the garter from the first female. Better yet - have the first place female remove the garter from the first place male! For our "Pickle Run" Race Series, we go to thrift stores and yard sales and buy the most ridiculous, cheesy "prizes" we can find and award those to the winners. After the race, have a little "Wedding Day Roast" for the Bride and Groom. Encourage everyone to stand and tell some embarrassing stories or toast/ roast the couple, friend and family members.

So the bottom line is that themed should be FUN and there are a assortment of ways that everyone can participate is the wackiness. Cheers!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What's the Fox Say?


I seem to have a wild life problem in my back yard. We have always had some troublesome coons running around back there - fat bastards to boot. I got chased by one of the little SOB's a couple of months ago. There's a blog post about that buried somewhere in this blog.

We had to get one of those enclosures for the trash cans because the clever sons of bitches kept getting into the trash.

At any rate, we have had skunks, owls, deer, groundhogs, cats (which we tend to keep), all kinds of wild birds, mice, moles, etc. There was even a bigfoot sighting a couple of years ago. No joke. I am like the Dr. Doolittle of Delaware County

We got a new one: foxes. I saw a shitload of fox tracks in the snow in my backyard this morning.

The little bastard was running all over the place. At one point, he must have ventured out to the front of the house.

Hey Fox: you tell all your furry friends that there is a new Sheriff in Brookhaven, my cousin Cletus (twice removed)  aka the "Redneck Special Forces" all the way  from South Carolina. and he and his mullet- they shoot on first sight

"Gonna get me some coons"

Friday, January 3, 2014

I am your Daddy


I have a man love food crush on Fig Newtons. Sometimes, at night, when I am lying in bed with my kitty cat, I can hear them whispering to me. They are my Achilles Tendon.

Fig Newton: "Frank, I am a delicious baked snack made with processed 'fruit' filling. Come down and enjoy me with a tall glass of wholesome milk. DO IT NOW BITCH."

How many people do you know can honestly admit to the fact that a baked good calls them awful words in the middle of the night? Yes, I am a slave to the blessed goodness that is The Fig Newton.

And f*ck those Fat Free Fig Newtons. Go big or go home with the real shits.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fat Boy On A Diet


I got this stupid Trade Show every year in March. It's actually a really nice trade show, as far as Trade Shows go. I have been to about eight of them over the past five years. Trade Shows can either go exceptionally well, or horribly wrong. It depends on the crowd, the agenda, and the location, just as examples. 

None of that is really important to the context of this post. What is important is that twice a year, I need to haul myself to some far-away city and try and squeeze my fat ass into my fancy work clothes for four days. You see, I don't wear fancy work clothes to work everyday. I wear whatever the hell I want. 

Years ago, when I lost all of my weight - close to 60 lbs back in 2001/20012 - I made a vow to myself that I would never go back to buying "fat clothes." Once I could fit into size 33/34 pants, I donated all of my "fat clothes" to Good Will. And I swore to myself that I would never look back. 

If you have never had the experience of trying to fit into clothes that clearly do not fit you, it's extremely uncomfortably and downright demoralizing. Trying to suck in your stomach to button your pants really drives home the reality that you NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT. Bear in mind that I am wearing these clothes for eight hours at clip. 

About three years ago, I went to one of the shows and had to squeeze into some pants that clearly didnt fit me. Luckily, my room wasn't too far from the Exhibit Hall, and there's alot of down time between sessions, so I could sneak off to my room and change clothes. I was like the Lady Gaga of Trade Shows. I'd come back to my room, get changed into my "street" clothes and then get back into my work clothes for the next session. A pain in the ass, yes, but worth the effort relative to walking around with pants up your ass.

I had to break my vow once in the past five years. I broke down two years ago and went out and bought two pairs of pants the night before the show. That was probably as demoralizing if not more demoralizing then trying to fit into too-tight pants. I was actually "in between" sizes so the logical thing to do was to fill in the gap as best as I could, so I immediately came home after that shopping trip and ate 6 donuts. Like my old man used to say - GO BIG OR GO HOME.

So getting to the point, I am about 3 months away from the next one. I guess who ain't gonna be fitting into his fancy pants any time in the near future?  In my defense, the very next show, six months later, I was able to get into those motherf*ckin' pants because my fat ass lost 25 lbs going into that show, roughly this same time of year. So this is a good time of year for me. 

Christ, I have such a hard time with diets. Not so much the dieting part, but getting started. Once I get into the groove, I am a man on fire. I am like a fat kid at buffet. There's no stopping me. 

I gotta lose 25lbs. I am at 188. Whoa.