Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back in Botswana

It has been about two months since I had left the village for my trip to the United States. It is great to return while I love the United States, the laid back environment in our village is a nice change compared to the stress of the U.S. I believe this stress is caused by the 24 hour news cycles. It seems everything in the news is critical and dramatic, and any issue should be fixed in a matter of hours, rather then months or years.

One exciting item on the family side is my nephew “Z” the great poker player had his senior prom. Everybody was so excited in that he asked a girl to the prom. For the longest time his parents did not think he knew what girls were. See attached picture.

Not much has changed in the village since I left. Let me update you on a few things. Compost toilets; we have had 2 in operation for several months now and everybody is in agreement they like the one donated by Chephart Yosh best. The two villagers we have hired into our newly created public works department to shovel the compost and fill the compost pit have been doing a great job. It looks like we will not need to buy elephant dung this year (saving me $50.00 U.S. Dollars) as our natural compost should work just perfect for the pineapple fields.

As soon as we have a surplus in our treasury we will add some additional compost toilets. Our goal was to have five operational by now, but with the elders being a little loose with our treasury we have had to reset the expectations.

The village elders have not done any fund raising for the matching funds for the wind generator.  We have a year to raise the $5,000.00 U.S. Dollars to get the grant from the US stimulus package. Feel free to donate to our village, just pennies will help out.
Please Donate to DUG's Village

One exciting thing is the U.S. government did give us some funds to do an air survey for placement of the wind generator. Since we have no pilots in our village my nephew Austin “A” flew over and did the survey. He is a new pilot at only 14 years of age, but the price was right. We had to fly from Gaborone, since they had a landing strip. We did have a little bit of a scare, the first plane we rented had a major engine issue and if you watch the video you will hear the warning siren. We had to loop back and get a different plane. We flew over the village looking for a site that would get plenty of wind while being close enough to the stream to pump water up to the village. We found a perfect site. See attached video and picture.

Other then that nothing special has been happening at the village.

Poker has been an issue for me over the last few weeks. I will update my poker stats which are not very good in my next post.



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Philadelphia Broad Street Run May 2009

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The Broad Street run is not only the fastest 10 mile race in the United States it is the largest with close to 27,000 runners.

The course is straight, slightly down hill, and fast. It runs from North Philadelphia (Olney Section) to the Old Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The race logistics with 27,000 runners may seem complex but are actually very simple. The Philadelphia Sports Stadiums are near the finish. What we and most runners do is park in the stadium parking lots and then take the subway to the start.

The city does not charge runners for the subway the city also adds express trains for the high volume of the race. Once we parked we headed to the subway along with the thousands of other runners, it is much like a cattle call just runners heading to the subway instead of cattle headed for slaughter. Thousands of runners into the subway and onto the trains for the 10 mile trip to the starting line. The subways are packed for the 30 minute ride north, wall to wall runners.

We got to the start an hour before the race, met up with my brother in-law Michael. His goal time was 1 hour 25 minutes. I told him I would pace him to make sure he hit his time.

One thing about road races, which always amazes me, no matter how much you pee before you go to a race and no matter how little you drink you still have to pee more while waiting for the race to start. So we got in the lines for the Porto Johns with the thousands of other runners, none of us had to pee at the moment but the lines were at least 30 minutes long and we knew we would have to pee by the time we got to the front of the line.

The crowd was unreal and very organized. For the first time Broad Street was doing a corral and wave start. What this means is the runners are put in corrals based on their past times, like cattle corrals. Then each corral is allowed to start every 5 minutes.

You might think this would mess up your time. To take care of the timing issue each runner has a chip on their shoe. This chip records the time you cross the start line and the time you cross the finish line. This way each runner gets a very accurate time.

The weather was perfect 55 degrees and a light mist. About 20 minutes before the start runners started getting in their corrals. It is a sight watching 27,000 people getting into a queue, which is about a mile long. Michael and I start dead last. We go to the back of the crowd and then waited a good 5 minutes until all the runners have crossed the start line. This year the clock read 25 minutes when we started. Think about this when we crossed the start the lead runners were more then half way done the race.

Another issue that I have seen plague many runners is the ability to tie their running shoes to the correct tightness. I have witness runners tie and then untie their shoes literally 10 times before a race. Michael is one of those runners.

The sight of the start looked like the aftermath of a clothing flea market. Many runners wear old sweet suits to keep warm and then just toss them when the race starts. On our walk to the start we walked by thousands of sweet shirts and sweet pants. One nice thing is the city picks up the clothes and gives them to the homeless shelters.

Our race plan was to go out slow and the pick up the pace after 3 miles.

The first mile starts off with a nice down hill which we ran a little faster then we should of, within 2 minutes we caught the back of the pack. The crowd of runners was fairly thick so we ran up on the sidewalk passing some of the worst sections of Philly. The sidewalk slows you a little, the surface is harder then street so it beats your legs up some, as well as being uneven and having curbs to deal with ever tenth of a mile or so.

Prior I had mentioned the issue of runners having to pee for some reason once the race starts the urge to pee seems to get worse it seems every wall we passed had guys peeing on them. I am sure all the locals loved this. Most of the women use the Porto Johns, but some dod drop there draws and do their business right against a wall.

The first mile marker came up fast and we were ahead of pace for the one hour 25 minute goal. We slowed the second mile some to insure we did not crash. We continued to pass runners at a fairly quick pace I would guess each minute we would pass 500 to 1,000 runners. This is a huge physiological boost when running to be doing the passing rather getting passed.

Mile 2 - 4 went by quickly we passed through Temple University, Philadelphia Catholic High School which had their band playing out front, and we were approaching City Hall with William Penn on top looking down on us.

As we curved around City Hall we took the course wide to insure we did not trip or get caught up with other runners. Once back on Broad Street we picked up the pace a little the crowds were cheering and it was easy to push ourselves. Michael was doing well and I was confident he would make his goal. We were even stopping at each mile marking to take a picture, this had to be adding a few seconds to each mile, but we were still on pace.

Mile 6 and 7 went great a slight down hill still passing people not as quickly as before, I was sure we had caught up to more proficient runners at this point.

A little after passing mile 7 Michael starting getting a cramp in his hamstring, so we slowed the pace down to see if we could work the cramp out he recovered slightly.

As we crossed mile 8 I knew with 2 miles left it would be close to making our goal without having Michael totally cramp up.

The course narrowed at this point forcing the runners to crowd each other. This is not good for Michael and I since our pace needed to be faster then the runners around us, so passing without tripping ourselves or someone else was a chore.

As we started mile 9 we picked up the pace while trying not to cause a crash and trying to keep Michael from cramping.

As we completed our ninth mile I looked at my watch and saw we had to do a 7:30 mile for our last mile if we were to make Michael’s our goal.

I knew both Michael and I we very capable of doing this in good conditions. The rain had picked up, the course got tighter, and we had to pick the pace up. I told Michael to steal the other runner’s energy by tying an imaginary rubber band around the runner in front of him and then as you pass them slingshot yourself forward. This is an effective physiological trick I had learned in high school cross country.

I took off hoping Michael would follow with the runners so tight together it was hard to pass, keep an eye on Michael, and keep our pace. Final with about 400 meters to go Michael’s hamstring fully cramped and he had to slow to almost a walk.

I was not looking back and crossed the finish at 1 hour 26 minutes I thought Michael was right behind me, I had not realized he had cramped.

The finish was packed, think about 27,000 people all ending back in one place. The race volunteers did a great job of keeping the runners moving and not bunching up. I found Michael he was only 1 minute behind me and had done a 1 hour 27 minute race. Not bad considering we had stopped at each mile marker for a picture and he had to deal with cramping the last 3 mile.

All in all the run was a blast, great organization great course and just plan old fun.

I am now heading back to Botswanna and will give you an update on my village once I arrive.



Friday, May 1, 2009

Boston Marathon 2009 and a few days with Francy’s Family

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Sunday April 19th, 2009, trains, planes, and automobiles. We left the hotel in Washington D.C. at 7:30 AM took the metro (DC subway system) to Regan National Airport. USAIR upgraded all marathon runners to first class which was nice. Once in Boston we took the T (Boston subway system) to Haynes Convention Center. This is where all the runners had to check in for the next day’s race. We met up with an old friend Scott Evans who was working the race. At around 3 o’clock we found Jen a friend that is also running the Marathon Jen’s parents were giving us a ride to our hotel.

Monday morning, Patriots day, what a great day for a marathon running 26.2 miles, I am glad Margarite is running and not I, the temp 50 degrees with slight cloud cover and no rain, perfect running weather.

The plan was to see Margarite at mile 17 replenish her water then meet again at mile 22 and push her (try to keep up with her) to the finish. Yes after 22 mile of Margarite running I can then maybe keep up with her.

The race and plan was perfect except from mile 22 to the finish line, there was no way to get off the course so I was forced to cross the finish line which is real bad running etiquette, Margarite ran a 3 hour 30 minute marathon, not her best but very good and she had fun. She was 59th for her age group.

The run from mile 22 to the finish was unreal, the crowds were wild at one point the noise level was so high from the crowds I could not even hear Margarite who was just a foot away. Later Margarite told me the crowds were like that the entire race.

We are hanging in Boston until Wednesday with some old friends, Francy, Chico, Pablo, Mcnabb, and Drazella.

The race was over for Margarite at 1:30 it took about 30 minutes to find her. Our friend Jen was just a little behind her. Francy and Pablo also meet up with us they had been watching the race from heartbreak hill. This is a steep hill between mile 20 and 22 this hill has brought many a runners to there knees.

Francy lives in Melrose, MA a suburb of Boston normally a 15 minute T ride from downtown Boston. We said our goodbyes and headed for the T station Margarite, Francy, Pablo and I. The T was packed there were 25,000 runners plus all the spectators trying to move around Boston. We jammed onto the Green Line taking it to North Station where we would switch to the Orange Line.

We squeezed onto the subway which was fine for the spectators but for the marathoners like Margarite it was brutal. Run 26.2 miles and then stand on a packed hot stinky subway, I am sure some runners wished they were still running rather then being on the T.

As we started heading to North Station we quickly came to a stop and just stood there, packed in like sardines 100 feet underground about 20% of the people on the subway had just run 26.2 miles. Not a pleasant place to be. Margarite was getting nauseous and cramping. We sat for about 30 minutest moving a few feet then sitting for a while again. A runner in a car ahead of us had passed out and could not be move until emergency personal were able to get to him. Once the tracks cleared we had 6 stops before we changed trains to the Orange Line. At each stop more and more passengers would leave the train and some fresh air would take there place.

It was almost three and a half hours until we got to Francy's house in Melrose. Margarite said the ride on the T was harder then running the marathon.

It was Francy's 21st birthday and she made us a very nice dinner.
Chico's brother Dave joined us.

Tuesday I was going to watch the boys Pablo 10, Mcnabb 7, and Jake 10 a close friend of Pablo's. The ladies were heading out for massages Drazella was off to school and Chico to work.

The boys and I decided we should make Francy a birthday cheese cake. So we headed to Shaws a local grocery to get all the ingredients.

Then we realized we were hungry so we went to Cedar Park for breakfast.
Now it was cheese cake time. Mcnabb made the crust, Jake cracked the eggs, Pablo got the cream cheese ready and I mixed everything together.

After baking the cake we played WII the rest of the day. For America being in a depression they seem to be fairing fairly well. I doubt any kid in Botswana even knows what a WII is.

Wednesday all the kids were off to sports camp so Margarite, Francy and I went to Rockport, MA for the day. Rockport was once a huge shoe manufacturing town on the New England Coast that is now a tourist destination with shops and restaurants.

Most of the items in the shops in Rockport are made in China even items with the Rockport logo. One day American might figure out you need to produce something to be the worlds leading economy.

Wednesday, crack of dawn we are heading to Pennsylvania, Chico, Pablo, McNabb, Drazella and Francy to visit Francy's mom, me to go meet up with my buddies from the Full Moon Running Club. We are all running the Broad Street 10 miler which is the following Sunday May 3rd. Margarite is flying back to Botswana.

That is the update on the Marathon and Boston enjoy the pictures and video.