Thursday, 27 November 2008


Another day of cross-training on the bike. Just because it's Thanksgiving doesn't mean it's a holiday. There's a 12in12 regimen to maintain.

Headed out at about 8am, while much of the immediate area was still socked-in with fog. Rolled through Oakland, on my annual turkey day search for a decent cup of coffee. Found it at an old standard, Hudson Bay Cafe on College Avenue. Crazy busy, but a pleasant break nonetheless.

Next up, a single Lake Merritt loop, then downtown Oakland to Jack London Square. One of my favourite places to just chill, watch people, and look at the really big boats.

On the way out of Jack London Square something caught my eye in the Ben and Jerry's window. HOT FLOATS! Shut up!

Steamed flavoured milk with a scoop of your favourite ice cream. This place is looking for an assistant manager. I'm wondering, if I took the job, how many of those hot floats I could have before they let me go?

Turning south, along Oakland's version of the Embarcadero, I discovered how to get to the lovely island city of Alameda, without having to go through the Posey Tube. However, didn't have time to go any farther AWAY from home, so turned around and headed back.

Surprise of surprises, a photographer's dream. The 5th Street Pier. To think I almost blew it off and kept riding. Instead, I spent a few minutes here, taking pictures of old motorcycles with baby dolls attached to the handlebars, old trucks, and even older cars.

Just a couple of blocks farther north, one of life's myths was shattered. I've heard that money won't buy love. Apparently that is NOT so.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful, taking in the Emeryville/Berkeley shoreline.

My Garmin tells me I burned more than 3700 calories on my 30 mile ride. I'm thinking that translates into permission to have two helpings of stuffing later tonight.

Sunday, 23 November 2008


With the California International Marathon a fortnight off, I decided today to run just 10 miles...then didn't.

Early in the morning I realized I was having too much fun doing nothing, workout/training-wise, and thought I'd give it a go for the whole day. I got caught up on a bunch of things I've been putting off for weeks.

Finally repaired the flat tire I had a couple of weeks ago when I tried a bit of bicycle cross-training (see "Cross-Straining" post). That was the road bike. On my touring bike I changed tires to the winter variety, re-installed fenders and a brand new XTR rear derailleur, and put the drop bars back on. A month or so ago I took them off to try out a set of upright bars that turned out to be nothing but rubbish. While doing that I stripped a stem faceplate bolt and and to go buy a new one. Very happy to have both machines back on line and fully accessible. Seriously considered a 20 mile ride...but decided against that. Instead, I gave my new motorcycle its first bath. Did not get any soap in its eyes, thankfully.

After that I remembered something I've wanted to do for months, namely donate all my half marathon finisher medals to an organization called Medals4Mettle. They give them to kids who are battling diseases that could take their young lives. Recently saw a video featuring a kid with cancer who could not have been more stoked to have his NYC Marathon medal. A pile of mine are on the way there. Check it out, if you've got some you'd like to share.

Then I uncorked a bottle of cheap red wine, tuned into BBC Radio 2 (online), my official favourite radio station in the world...and listened to a documentary about the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' White Album. Totally AWESOME! You can check that out, too, if you're of such a mind.
I shall run tomorrow morning. Really.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008



With just a couple of weeks to go until marathon number one of my 12 in 12 months challenge, I am officially into what’s known as the taper. For the uninitiated, that’s the 2-3 weeks after your last long run before the big event, when us runner folks gradually cut back from our longer distances in an effort to recover from the months of, in my case, early morning training (while loved ones have still been snuggly warm in bed fast asleep). It's also one of my favourite times of the cycle when I get to concentrate on replenishing many of the calories I've incinerated , and store up extra energy for the impending 26.2 mile adventure.

Thing is, I realized this morning, that, as I’m going to attempt to do the distance a dozen times over the next year, THIS taper will perhaps be my last classic taper until December ’09. Reason being, doing a marathon every 3-6 weeks should mean that I’ll be in marathon condition all year. Each completed marathon should serve as the last long run for the next...followed by a few carefully planned maintenance runs to keep the legs from forgetting what they're for.

I’m guessing that, if I play my cards wisely, resting as well as I’m able between races, and not having to push so hard to get into shape, I may actually be able to pull this off running LESS overall than if I was only doing 3-4 marathons in 2009. It could also mean that I'll be needing to fuel up on a fairly consistant basic. (Read: I'll get to eat lots!)

Best case scenario, I'll get to consume plenty of pasta, will lose more weight, will get faster (if only slightly), and will get to travel even more than usual.

I'll admit I'm itchin' to get going.

Sunday, 16 November 2008



I'm talking about your first run in new shoes.

Delayed the start of my 20 mile pre-CIM training run today by two hours, waiting for SF's Presidio Sports Basement to open. I needed new "trainers" (as they say in Ye Olde Country). After all my experiments with other brands I have determined that the Brooks Beast is the best shoe for me. Motion control with decent padding in the heal, wide toe box, and high enough insteps for my slightly mis-matched feet. Knew the store had last year's Beast and was going to go with that until I spied the '09 version. A tasty little version it is, too. Navy blue mesh with tastefully done silver/gray trim. Not only did they feel good, they LOOK good.. This is America, after all.

Headed out towards the Golden Gate Bridge listening to, and thoroughly enjoying my newly-acquired Jonatha Brook album "The Works". If you haven't heard her before check it out. It's the lyrics of Woody Guthrie set to her original music. Completely sweet.

Crossed the GGB and returned to the waterfront, all the way through Ft. Mason, Chrissy Field, Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, the Embarcadero, down to the Ferry Building. At the Ferry Building I gave myself a little boost with a little cup of Peet's cofee, then swiftly hit the pavement for the return from whence I came.

All in all, fairly uneventful, which allowed my mind to wander a bit. Decided, as December 7th's CIM in Sacramento will be my last marathon during the Bush administration, I am going to celebrate that run as such. Perhaps it will make me lighter and faster. It will surely make me smile. My next marathon after CIM is January 25th in Carlsbad...the first weekend of the fresh, new Obama era. They'll be some celebrating then, to be sure.

Earlier this week I mentioned to some on Twitter and the Daily Mile that I had the absolute pleasure to do a morning run through a neighborhood in which it smelled as though everyone was frying lovely, lovely bacon. Today's smell of the run was that of fresh caramel popcorn, wafting over Pier 39. I was enticed to stop, as I am a major popcorn junkie. But, I resisted.

Gotta run!

Sunday, 9 November 2008


With the California International Marathon just four weeks from today, I decided this morning that I needed to do SOMETHING, training-wise, but I did NOT feel like running.

Pulled out the road bike, planning on a 40-50 mile ride encompassing some East Bay stuff, a BART ride under the Bay to the SF side, some Blue Bottle coffee and then 30 miles into tony Marin, finishing off with lunch at Marin Brewing Company, the home of my favourite brew, Raspberry Trail Ale. If you can't find this in your store I highly recommend Sam Adams' Cherry Wheat. OMG!

Headed out at a chilly 7am, taking in the Berkeley/Emeryville shoreline, then passing IKEA, (which has FREE coffee Sundays between 9-10am, by the way, in case you didn't know. I was too early, so I missed out). Just short of 10 miles into the ride my back tire bonded with a really big staple that someone had left behind. Not to worry, right? I'm a bike mechanic. I'd never leave home on a ride without the requisite spare and the proper tools to install such. Not so much.

I have high profile, hoity-toity Italian (not Campy!) wheels that require an extra long valve stem. I only had the too-short standard. The puncture was large enough that I couldn't get enough air into the tube with my hand pump that would me the time required to locate the story short, I took public transit home...and switched bikes. Discovered then that after I tried earlier to patch the tube I'd apparently left my "Alien" multi-tool on an Oakland sidewalk.

Hoping to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, I realized then I had over-dressed when I left home the first time. Took this opportunity to leave behind one of the two fleece tops I had on, plus my full-fingered gloves. Blew off the transbay plans, deciding instead to just do my "normal" 20-mile loop through Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, back to Berkeley and Albany...with some added miles to pad. Everything was going swimmingly, I thinks, until I notice my Garmin 305's mileage tally is not changing at 28.7. How long's this been going on? No way of knowing, so I restart the whole thing. Came home and ran my route through MapYourRide and discovered I had done the 40 I'd wanted 2.5. Sweet!

BTW, rode by the scene of the initial puncture on the second leg of the adventure, just to see if the multi-tool was still there. DUH! What kind of optimist am I? It was gone. Hopefully to a good home.

Oh...tomorrow morning. I'm leaving the bikes behind, and putting on my running shoes again. Way easier.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


...I can turn my attention back to my little races.

Just in case you missed it, the BIG one was Obama. Sweet!

The little ones? I'm going to try running 26.2 miles 12 times over the next 12 months. Let me just say, I could run a marathon a month for the next two centuries and they still wouldn't add up to the significance of Barack's one big race, even in my own mind. But, you knew that already.

I ran 14 miles last Sunday, along the Berkeley/Emeryville shoreline. The goal was 15, in anticipation of next month's California International Marathon, but my front door fell suspiciously at my feet at mile 14 so I called it quits right there. This morning I didn't really feel like running at all but knew I "should". Grasping Nike's "Just Do It" catch phrase like that kitten we all remember from the "Just Hang In There" poster from a few years back, I laced up my New Balance and headed out...choosing to step up the hill work, as distance was the farthest thing from my mind at that moment. Did not do badly, if I do say so myself.

I have learned that my new New Balance shoes are not working for me. Last Sunday's run resulted in a nasty right foot blister. Seems as though my arches are NOT equally low. More so to starboard. My shoes are not forgiving. It's back to Sports Basement for a new pair of the Beast by Brooks on Sunday.

Just in case you're wondering, when it comes to the other marathons I'm considering for next year, here's the short list. Nine will be chosen. Rock and Roll San Diego, Salt Lake City, Eugene, Avenue of the Giants, San Francisco, Berlin, New Mexico, Napa Valley, Little Rock, Connemarathon (Ireland), Big Sur, Belfast, Prague, Grandma's (MN), Rio (Brazil), Missoula, Edmonton, Helsinki, Medoc (France), Lake Tahoe, Portland (OR), Twin Cities (MN), Chicago, Long Beach, Toronto, Marines (DC...the then-residence of President Barack Obama!), Dublin (Ireland), Seattle, San Sebastian (Spain).

Note to marathon organizers. Free admission could influence my final choices. I'm just saying.

Sunday, 2 November 2008



Running marathons should not be about the shirt. I get that. And I really don't obsess about them. But, while doing this morning's 14 mile training jaunt along the cloud-shrouded Berkeley/Emeryville shoreline, somehow my mind started rattling off the problems I have had just getting the souvenir shirts I've paid for in a few races. With a dozen races being planned for the next dozen months, I'd like to think that most of the event organizers will get it right. Holding my breath, not.

The first time it happened that it really disappointed me was the Loch Ness Marathon in 2004. To this day I think this marathon has the coolest marketing picture for a race, and, at least in 2004, it was on the shirt. It's a running shoe laced to represent Nessie, the monster in the lake. They completely ran out of shirts by the time I crept across the line. And they were none too worried about making any excuses about not printing enough. Did they not know I was coming? I contacted the organizers after getting home, and they sent me a number of full size prints of the logo, which was nice of them. But I really did want THAT shirt.

The next time there was a shirt snafu was just a few months ago. I ordered an XL from the folks at the New Mexico Marathon, despite the fact that I have lost nearly 20 pounds since I started running. If my shirts are anywhere near snug I won't wear them. Then a few weeks before the race in Albuquerque, the organizers sent out an email informing us that the shirts they were having made up were running a bit on the big side and giving us the chance to change our size request. I took the bait and changed to Large, please. Race day comes and my Large is by no means a Large. It's a medium, to be sure. Not for me, big guy. I emailed them and requested a switch. No response.

Thinking I'd learned my lessson, when it came time to order my Chicago Marathon shirt, I picked XL again, feeling fairly confident in my selection. Picked up my shirt at the Expo on pre-race Friday, got it back to my motel and took a look at it. Had I had a couple of poles with me I could have used it as a tent and saved the lodging costs for the next three days! Decided I'd trek back into downtown Chitown to attempt a trade the following morning. The volunteer behind the t-shirt counter shot my request right out of the sky, practically before I'd made it. She said all the shirts were accounted for and there were just enough for everyone if they took the size they ordered. I donated my shirt back to the cause...and bought one that I am wearing as I write this. Turns out, of the 45,ooo or so people who signed up for the race, only about 33,ooo showed up. Could that mean there are about 12,000 shirts that were never picked up? Might there have been a Large in there for this old dude from California? You do the math.

So, here's what I'm hoping for at CIM, Carlsbad and Austin (so far)......oh, never mind.