Thursday, December 10, 2015

Political Headlines

“Obama Signs Bill Overthrowing George W. Bush’s Disastrous No Child Left Behind”
"Nightmare Is Over:Obama gets Rid Of Bush's "No Child Left Behind" Act"
WOW! I was taken aback by the political spin in the headlines that I saw in the news today on the new education bill called “Every Student Succeeds Act”. Neither the NCLB Act was Bush’s, nor the new bill is Obama’s. Both the NCLB act and ESSA were bipartisan bills voted by big majorities of both democrats and republicans. They are both reauthorizations of the original ESEA K12 education act of 1965

The NCLB was well intended, but it did not produce the expected results. The new ESSA is also well intended and offers a lot of improvements. Albeit, the new bill preserves a lot of the previous bill including student testing and accountability. However, it gives more power to the states over the feds, something the republicans fought for...and I agree with.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Scooby May 11, 2002 – April 12, 2014 (11 years 11 months 1 day)

Scooby was a great dog… actually Scooby was not a dog he was part of our family and we miss him so very much. When he was a puppy we lived by the beach in Cyprus and he loved to walk around the gardens of our community and on the beach. The picture to the right of this blog shows our house in Cyprus and the gardens in Thera. In 2004 we returned to the US and he loved to walk around our condo community every morning and afternoon. In 2007, we moved to the house and we walked a 2 mile loop every morning and every afternoon passing by a couple of parks along the way. By 2010, we cut the walks to the nearest park and back, twice a day and by 2012 we were down to one walk per day, half a mile to the park and back. Even though he was getting older and no longer could go too far, he loved his walks.
On Tuesday April 8, he went to the park for the last time with Cathy…. he got sick Wednesday, in and out of the hospital for 3 days.  Thursday night he came home at midnight he was rushed to the emergency room at 5am as his breathing was labored and he needed to be put in the oxygen chamber again.  He was supposedly doing better and Friday night had a good night at home. Cathy took him back in on Saturday morning for more treatment as his breathing was still not where it was supposed to be. I was driving back from Raleigh and the plan was to bring him home and help cheer him up. I did not make it. He was gone before I arrived. We later found out that the Saturday morning x-rays showed a worsen condition with his lungs.

with our raincoats...
He had a good week three weeks ago when our daughter, Melina, came home from London, I was at home too before I started my new job in Raleigh and Cathy took the week off from her job. The whole family was together for that week like the old days. We went to Williamsburg and Richmond. Then I left for Raleigh and Melina left the next day for London. It was just him and Cathy. When I got home the following weekend he would not leave my side. I left Sunday night and that was the last time I saw him. He did not survive through the second week. He lost his training buddy. We walked every day. Rain or shine. On rainy days I would put both of our raincoats on with our hoodies and we went out in the rain to walk. He hated his raincoat, an army camouflage one with a hoodie. He liked his black and pink sweater he wore when it was too cold.
exhausted after a run in the summer

He liked the sweater... but he hated the raincoat with the hoodie!
I have not been able to run since he passed. When I am at home in VB I just go out and find myself going around the 2 mile loop we did together when he was younger.

We got Scooby for my daughter when she was 10 years old. But she left home for the UK more than 5 years ago and he really became my buddy. So what if I am a 51yo grey hair man and my buddy was a Yorkie?

Sleeping in his Italian house.                                 Resting on his king size bed

The day he came home from the hospital last July was a happy one.
During one of his last trips... in Raleigh

Exploring an eco-village in Chapel Hill

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Marathon Training Plans…NOT for me

I was busy this morning and busy this evening, and the only time available for a run was at lunch time. So on a nice morning for a run I ended up running during the hottest part of the day, which was high 70s and sunny. At least there was a breeze at times and the humidity was not too bad. I did not know how long I was going to run or in which direction. I have no marathon training plan and I do not follow any schedule and that is the way I like it. Schedules makes running feel like something you have to do and I want the freedom of flexibility. If you do not have to run a certain a distance on a particular day, then any distance is good. So today my goal was to run anything from 10 miles to a maximum of 22. I wanted it to be closer to 22 though because today was my only opportunity for a long run before the Medoc Mountain Trail marathon next month. Besides not having any distance schedule, I have no time goals either.

So I started at 12:45PM and headed to Providence Park. I like that little park near my house because it has a 1 KM asphalt trail loop which provides a good training ground for road racing. The trail goes around the park and in the middle are little league baseball fields, soccer greens, playground and other park stuff. I usually do a few loops in there and I get bored and head off to other neighborhoods. Today I got lost in listening to trail slammer’s podcasts and did not realize that the time had passed. I had a couple of gels and a hydration belt but I eventually ran out of fuel and when I looked at my Garmin I had already ran 10 miles in the park. I did not count laps, but when I checked the Garmin data tonight it was indeed 16 laps (16K= 10 miles). Thankfully there is a 7-11 across from the park and I went there for Gatorade, water and some salty snacks. My wife called at that time and asked me when I was getting back because my lunch was sitting on the table for a long time. I told her that I was at 7-11 eating junk food and wanted to run some more. We agreed that I would run for another 90 minutes. So I left the park and headed towards North Kempsville and the Rec Center eventually coming back around and I finished in exactly 90 minutes with 18 miles on the dial. This was really an easy comfortable run and I could have gone up to 22 miles. I used the Galloway 30-30 method and really didn’t feel any stress which is a bonus considering I already had ran 30 miles this week with 3 doubles in 5 days. I know my training pace is much slower than my races but I am good with that. I never stop my watch so my actual running pace is usually better than what I post but who cares? I know I can run faster and that would have been the case today if I had time in the morning and gone to run with my friend Andrew for his 40th birthday. Did I say that he is a real slacker as he only ran 40K today, instead of 40 miles? Maybe he will run 50 miles for his 50th like I did. ha!ha!
This evening my wife suggested that I post a calendar of my long runs so she knows when I will be gone for hours. I explained to her that I do not even know when I go out the door how long I will run for. Hence, the title of this blog... So as a compromise I posted my races on the calendar.
Stat of the day: I just saw that I ran 102 miles in September. Reaching 100miles by the 14th of a month is my fastest 100 yet.

Monday, January 21, 2013


A beautiful sunny January day for a shirtless run! I was off from work today and went out around noon without any mileage or goal in mind. I headed west on Indian River Rd and got to Providence Park to run a few loops when my wife called and asked if I wanted Subway as she was getting off work and was going to get some for her. I said "sure and bring it to the park so that we can eat on the benches in the sun"... So she did. It was a beautiful day for an instant picnic.
Random thoughts:
·     I ran the last 3 miles shirtless... in January! I was wearing shorts and a long sleeve sweat top... No shirt under it... so when I got too hot I tossed the top. People may have thought I was crazy as it was still windy and 60s despite the sun. Cathy wasn't surprised when she saw me though...
·     I was trying a couple of new things today; I tried to run with 2 pairs of socks to see if it would help my PF ... It didn't and made my shoes too tight. I stopped and took one pair off after just one mile.
·     I tried the new iPod nano 6th gen with the clip. Did not really like it. I am used to controlling the iPod with the wheel without looking by just putting my hand in my pocket. You cannot do that with a touch screen iPod.
·     I had a veggie patty flatbread and it was great. My wife has turned into a vegetarian Jan 1, so she discovered this option at the subway near town center. Not all subways have this option
·     The park parking lot and the bathrooms were locked. People had to park in the surrounding areas… seriously? Is it because it was MLK day and a holiday? Do parks now operate during office hours and close on weekends and holidays? … and why was the gate to parking lot locked? What could anyone do to the parking lot? Steal what? When we left we realized that the parking lot for Woodstock Park was also locked.
·   I just realized that the last 2 miles were the fastest at 10:15 pace... I was working on form and trying to avoid heal striking... it could have also been faster because I had a lighter load without the hoodie ;) <Strava link>

Sunday, November 25, 2012

2012 Richmond Marathon

The 2012 Richmond Marathon was supposed to be my goal race. There were just too many things converging making this race my goal race. It was my 5th and last marathon of 2012. It was supposed to be the one I would break 5 hours. Not that breaking 5 hours is that important to me. I could have easily done this at Shamrock, but I chose to stop for a couple of beers on mile 25 and ended up 30 seconds over 5 hours, despite my mad sprint to the finish line in a 5:56 pace for the last quarter mile.
A big reason Richmond became my goal race was the following: I developed Plantar Fasciitis and when I went to a podiatrist at the beginning of October he said that he could help me without having to stop my running streak. After I told him about my race schedule for the coming 6 weeks (one half and 3 full marathons) he said that we should make the last one the goal race. Isn’t it nice when the doctor is a runner and understands our crazy goals? 
So after uneventful 3 races with an easy PR in the rain at the Crawling Crab Half (2:13:33), a very enjoyable Medoc Mountain Trail Marathon with a 16 minute course PR (5:36:40) and a nice effort at the MCM where I stared with my friend Marie in the 5:30 pace group and gradually gained ground to finish at 5:13:14 I was ready for a good result in Richmond.
I was also excited for Richmond because my friend Marie Bartoletti was pacing the 4:45 group. Did I tell you that Richmond was her 241st marathon? In addition, this full time elementary teacher ran a lot of ultras including Badwater and Western States, Triathlons including Kona Ironman and done a few other crazy stuff like a double at Boston which is starting at the finish line running to the start line and then running the regular race back to the finish line. So everything was lined up for a good race.
with Chris in front of the Capital in the morning
Friday was busy day at work and I did not get off at midday as I had hoped, so I did not get to Richmond until 9:30PM. Thankfully Chris had picked up my packet. In the morning we drove downtown and after a few circles, we finally found a place to park. We barely had time to get to the Marriott where I was supposed to meet Raphael. Chris and I ran into Ray briefly and then they disappeared while I met up with Raphael, Carla and their daughters. We took a couple of pictures outside and headed up to the starting corals where we saw Ally and Michael K. We got to the 4:45 pace group and said hello to Marie and met a few of the other runners. Marie remembered Raphael from Shamrock. 
w Raphael pre race
The gun went and off we went. The start was really crowded and it was particularly evident that there were a lot of New York runners that came to Richmond after the cancellation. Several were actually wearing the NY marathon race number on their back and the Richmond number on the front.  We ran into Karen on mile 1. I was glad to see her as we never managed a meet-up the day before. Soon after, people were calling me Chris. I had to explain to Raphael that many of the MTT runners think that I am Chris as we do look alike. A few of the ones that I‘ve me over the years actually know me and they just call me ‘Chris’s brother’. The first four miles were uneventful when I realized that we were going too fast (10:46, 10:30, 10:41, 10:37) we had actually ran ahead of the 4:45 pace group so we slowed down and let the group catch up with us. The next two miles (11:03, 10:56) were with the group were Marie was telling stories as always. There is never a quiet moment in her groups. She usually talks the entire 26.2, except when others take turns to tell stories or dedicate miles.
Now, I am running very comfortably with the group, but I felt that I needed a p break. The porta-johns had lines and I did not want I waste any time. I spotted a tree on the side on mile 7 and I ran ahead and ducked under it to do my business. As I came out the other side and was getting ready to speed up to catch up with my group, my right foot got caught on a tree root which I did not see because the ground was covered with leaves. I ended up on my butt. I got up and realized that I could not walk. It was hard to walk on my right leg. This was at the top of a hill with a huge downhill right ahead. I was still thinking that I could just use gravity to speed up and catch up with my group. I just needed to sort out this cramp (I thought it was a cramp). So I tried to run but went less than a few hundred feet when I almost felt down again and leaned on a mailbox. I realized at that moment that my goal race went out the window. It was only mile 7. So I slowed down and let my body dictate the pace. Mile 7 was a slow 12:34.
I eventually found a rhythm and gained some speed in the next 3 miles. I was able to run through the Huguenot bridge and Riverside drive at 11:03. 11:28, 10:35. But the pain in my knee returned stronger. When I saw a couple of medics on bicycles going towards Forrest Hill Avenue I stopped and told them about it. They said they had tape, so they taped my knee. That helped for the next few miles and I was run-walking. Miles 11-15 were at 11:59, 12:06, 11:43, 12:05, 13:13. Despite my issues I crossed the half marathon mark in 2:28. But by mile 16, the tape came off and I was in pain. I saw another set of medics and I stopped. They taped Ice packs on my knee and told me that my race was over. I said that it wasn’t. We got in a bit of a discussion and I said that I would try to walk it. They said Ok. Mile 16 was at 17:39
After that, running was out of the question. I just could not run. It was just frustrating to see those nice stretches of road ahead of me but I could not run. All I could do was power walk. So I pressed on. Miles 17-21 were at 14:23, 14:56, 14:44, 14:22 and 14:50. By this time, I was actually passing runners who had hit the infamous marathon wall. Pain was everywhere. I also saw a couple of runners on the ground on the side with their races obviously over. At mile 20 or 21 I came up to Raphael and he was struggling. I tried to encourage him, but he was hurting. We came up to the beer stops on mile 22 and I tried to get him to drink some, but he said that he couldn’t. I stopped at a party at someone’s driveway and they were having Heinekens. So I took a full bottle and had some of their party snacks. They were so much fun. I wanted to carry on but I didn’t think the police would let me on the course with a glass bottle of beer. Thankfully someone had plastic solo cups and I poured the rest of my beer in one and headed back on the course. The next stop was at the Richmond Hash House Harriers tent where I took 3 shots of Jimmy. It really helped eased the knee pain. Then I got to another beer table where I refilled my empty solo cup. It took 5 or 6 beer shot cups to get me full 12 oz. This was Coors Light… oh well…
keep it up!
I finally saw another medical tent and I stopped again. The ice packs on my knee had melted and were not helping. The medics let me lay on a bed and re-taped new ice packs on my knee. This time they put the ice straight on the skin instead of using a cloth between the pack and the skin and I got back into the race.  Miles 22 and 23 took 18:33 and 20:51 – Raphael kept going through out all my stops and I kept leapfrogging him. It was obvious that he was hurting but was not going to quit. When I realized that he was going to make it, I marched ahead. The MTT coaches were encouraging me now. One of them, who saw me at couple of medical stops said that mine was the inspirational performance of the day. That was the nicest thing I heard all day! I was finding new energy; so I decided that I needed to press on so that I would not end up with a new marathon worst. Miles 24-26 got progressively better at 15:24, 14:15 and 12:57. I saw Carla and the girls at the top of the hill before the finish and told them that Raphael was coming behind me. I ‘ran’ down the hill to the finish line at a 10:41 pace and crossed the line at 5:49:04.
I waited there for about 15 minutes for Raphael, but then headed to the finishers area knowing that the others would be looking for me. Sure enough, as soon as I got there I saw Kate and Danny who said they were looking for me and had been worried. Chris had gone to the drop bags to get his phone to call me. I eventually found him and we had a couple of beers, courtesy of Kate who gave me her beer tickets.
If this was a half marathon, I would still finish in a decent time, even with a fall and injury at mile 7. However, a full marathon is a hard and long race... Just to put things in perspective I ran the first half in 2:28 and the second half in 3:21, that was 1 hour slower…  
The bottom line I that I did not quit and put another Marathon in the books. My 9th 26.2 was eventful. It was not my slowest, not the hardest. Both of these distinctions go to the 2011 Medoc Mountain trail marathon. This was my 3rd slowest marathon, as the 2011 Shamrock which I ran with a broken toe was slower by 1 minute. It is funny that my most difficult finishes are the slowest ones.

(1) Early miles w Raphael (2) running strong (3) pain
(4) mile 25 (5) to the finish line (6) done

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pregnantly Streaking…

·         I was running in the Peroni Crawling Crab  half marathon yesterday and I saw this pregnant lady running at about mile 8. Her t-shirt said that her baby was due in January. Her belly was showing a lot but she seemed comfortable running at a 10 minute pace. I said to her that it was inspiring to see her running and that she should get 2 medals. Also said that another friend of mine kept running until about 2 weeks before giving birth and then got back into it quickly after giving birth with no issues.
She responded that her mom ran the day she gave birth to her. I was like: does your mom run every day? … and she said she used to. I am like.. cool I am coming to up a year of running every day… do you? And she yes for long time…
I never asked her name or if that was her first child, but I assume she might be on the 
USRSA  active list… The moral of the story: It is much more harder for women to keep a streak alive when one has to consider giving birth. What an inspiration!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Run and Finish... running across the USA

Chris Nicholas is currently running from Washington DC to Los Angeles raising money for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals ... he is pushing a stroller with all his gear just like my friend John Price did last year, except that John went eastward, from Venice Beach to Virginia Beach . Chris's website is www.RunAndFinish.com He is from Grand Rapids Michigan, but I am wondering if he has any Greek roots as his name is so Greek sounding… In fact my brother is Chris Nicolaides.

Anyhow, I was reminded of this when my Dailymile friend Mike from Kansas posted a picture of Chris as he ran into him at his children’s school as he was passing through the town in Pratt, Kansas.

Speaking of John Price, he is getting ready to run across the UK, north to south. His website is www.RunVB2VB.com