Tuesday, 28 October 2008



Setting up this new challenge is moving far more quickly than I ever have on a marathon race course.

Shortly after barely completing Chicago earlier this month I signed up for the Carlsbad Marathon, north of San Diego. Having survived the heat of Chicagoland, perhaps I was drawn to the January race because I was in serious need of some cool ocean breezes. Little did I know it would end up being #2 in my 12 race series. Since then I have set the previously-mentioned CIM/Sacramento as the kick-off event.

Today, I nailed down #3, which is of course assuming I survive the previous two, still able to put one foot in front of the other. Turns out February is not chock-full of stellar marathon options. Only a handful fell within my acceptable time frame.

I could have chosen Valencia, Spain, which is running its marathon in the middle of the month. Trouble is I'm already going to Valencia in August of next year on my way to La Tomatina in nearby Bunol. I love to travel, but two transatlantic flights to Spain? I may be nuts, but I'm not sadistic.

The massive Los Angeles Marathon is on the 16th...but it's LA, for heaven's sake. The organizers set up a pre-run bike ride over the marathon course that I rode with a friend a few years ago. I swore then I'd never run LA. I can hardly imagine an uglier course, and I've seen a few.

That left...Austin. A very cool place to test my "limits", I'm thinking. So I've signed up for the run in the Lone Star State capital on February 15th, three weeks after Carlsbad.

I can only afford to do it because I have lots of airline rewards miles thanks to Amex...and I've recently read that it's a good idea to cash them in as soon as you acquire enough for a plane ticket to somewhere you'd like to go. Seems some companies are closing their rewards programs without notice during these tough economic times, leaving people who thought they had lots of points to spend high and dry with no recourse. When it comes to budget travel I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, "my friends" (apologies to J.McCain).

Now I think I'll slow down a bit. It's always a bad idea for a marathon runner to start too fast. It comes back to bite you in your running shorts-clad behind. I'll continue to research my rest-of-the-year options but will not commit to anything else until I've finished Carlsbad, and recovered from it.

Gotta run!

Monday, 27 October 2008



Race Number One in my dirty dozen for the next twelve months will be Sacramento's California International Marathon on December 7th. It will be a repeat appearance but hopefully not a repeat performance.

The weather the first time I ran CIM was beautifully clear and crisp. No, "crisp" would not be the word. The word would be "frigid"! And me without gloves. I'll have them next time.

The course is notoriously fast, and I am sure many PRs are set here. I would imagine it's fertile ground for those hoping to qualify for Boston. Things were fine, other than the boredom of Fair Oaks Boulevard, until mile 17 when, I am sure, a competitor pulled a knitting needle from his/her fanny pack and shoved it through my right knee. Okay, it just felt like it. I would be setting no records this day, personal or otherwise.

The searing pain dogged me all the way in to the finish line, where my brother and his kids were waiting...and waiting...and waiting...for the Old Man to come cruising in. Instead, he wobbled across, swearing CIM was one race he would never run again. Never!

I'm going to try it again, believing I'm in much better shape now than I was then. I weigh about 15 pounds less than I did the first time. I've also completed 15 other marathons since then, so I think I've got the mental chops to handle the Fair Oaks Boulevard stretch, if not happily, at least without fighting it so much.

Gotta run!

Sunday, 26 October 2008


For the unitiated, I got the bug six or so years ago, when I signed up for the National AIDS Marathon Training Program, more for the promised "free" trip to Vancouver than for the actual opportunity to punish myself, by choice, by "running" 26.2 miles. At the end of a rainy, chilly, 6+ hour showing on this stunningly beautiful city course, the only thing that came to mind, other than "where's the hot chicken soup" was..."That was it?" No way. I've GOT to do this again.

Since then I HAVE done it over...and over... and over...and over again. Marathon running has given me the opportunity to travel like never before. Somehow my dear wife understands, and lets me go, with hardly an expressed reservation. These jaunts, to places such as Dublin, Barcelona or Budapest, are not, for the most part, cheap...but they're pretty much all I do, other than work, most of the year. I spend hardly anything on regular clothes, but do have a drawer full of some really nice running togs. I don't skimp on running shoes, either.

Three of my greatest moments in life were centered on running marathons...first, when my stepdaughter agreed to run Portland with me back in 2003, and did, despite not having what one might call the best time in her life. The second was when my stepson and I set out from our Dublin, Ireland hotel room in October 2007 to run that city's awesome 26.2 mile course. We got separated at the very beginning, while hunting for porta-potties, and didn't meet up again prior to both arriving, triumphant and in serious need of a Guinness (or four), back at our digs. The third was just a couple of weeks ago, when my wife was waiting at the Chicago finish line, along with my stepdaughter, who ran with me for a bit before ducking out, for fear of being nabbed as a "bandit". The wife's kiss and the stepdaughter's high-fives were, it should be said, not to be missed.

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my next adventure. It's not for show. It's just because I am able. I've decided to try and do a race a month for the next year. My hope is that each run will be a marathon. I am honestly thrilled, almost everyday, that, as a 56 year old dude I can complete THE marathon. I so respect the distance, and the physical challenge it presents everytime I do it. I hate DOING it mostly...but at the finish it IS worth it. Even more than the physical challenge, though, the fact that I can tame the mental part of it, again and again, is something I want to experience for as long as I can.

I have had varied responses to my latest aspiration, mostly supportive. My friend and co-worker Mark had the best one, for my money...when I told him I'd signed up for California International Marathon in Sacramento in December and Carlsbad in January....he just calmly said..."That's what you do".