Tuesday, 30 December 2008


I'm posting this here because the events of today will seriously impact my ability to train for the 12in12 challenge...in a positive way. That said....

I got the radio bug in the mid-1960s, as a geeky, pimply teenager in Peterborough, England. The house my family lived in then didn't have enough bedrooms for me or my siblings to have our own rooms, so I opted for the privacy of an oversized closet. It was big enough for a camping cot, beneath my hanging clothes. It also had a window, overlooking the next door neighbor's back yard, or "garden", as they're called on that side of the Pond. It was rumoured that the teenage girl who lived in #67 had a penchant for topless sunbathing. I was, sadly, never able to confirm that.

On those far-too-many nights when I sought solace in my upstairs sanctuary, the "portable" radio my Nan gave me played a major calming role. These were the "pirate radio" days, when broadcast pioneers butted heads with the government-sanctioned BBC in an effort to offer independent entertainment alternatives. What those guys, like Tony Blackburn, Kenny Everett, Dave Cash and Emperor Rosko, gave me was a substitute family, that laughed...rather than yelled. From those early days, til now, radio has been just that...family.

I never thought I'd be lucky enough to work in radio until the 1980s in San Francisco. At that time I was a professional singer, touring the country with a soon-to-be Grammy award winning vocal ensemble. Trouble was my wife-at-that-time wasn't down with the tour schedule. Her ultimatum was "her" or "the tour". I chose her, and began looking for a career.

I chose radio, and signed up for a crazy-costly broadcasting school. Fortunately for me, I aced that program, and landed my first radio gig at a Country Western station in Santa Rosa. The station was famous (locally) for its cowboy hat car. A VW Beetle topped with a fiberglass cowboy hat that was almost as big as the bug.

My job was to turn the daytime station on on Saturdays and Sundays...and then present the morning show. The biggest challenge there was just getting into the place without gagging. When one opened the front door one was assaulted with the smell of stale cigarette smoke. One carried that home on Sunday afternoons. I was not a country music fan when I started. I am today.

I spent those weekends tent camping at the KOA campground in nearby Petaluma. Mark my words, said campground is much nicer today than it was 25 years ago. My main concern was the shower opportunities. I spent most of what I earned those weekends on the camping fees and restaurant food. Good times.

It was about this time that my wife-at-that-time decided "it" wasn't going to work. I chose her over the tour...but she left anyway. Radio stepped in again...to fill the void.

My first full-time radio gig was as the overnight guy at KKHI in San Francisco, a now-defunct Classical music station housed in the penthouse suite of the St. Francis Hotel on Union Square. I held that job down for over two years, despite taking numerous naps between delightfully long Mozart tracks. I only got caught once...when I slept through both alarms I'd set in an effort to avoid just such a catastrophe.

I went on to work for a Houston-based traffic reporting service for about two years, a brand new News/Talk station back in Santa Rosa, KSRO, and an AOR station, The Fox, across town. From there I took a job as News Director at another Country station in Merced, California, mostly because my brother lived there and I wanted to live near him. Shortly after I moved my new family there, he moved his away. I stayed for a couple more years, working for KUBB, then KRTB in Modesto, then KABX and KYOS, both in Merced.

Back in broadcasting school I decided my two goals were to one day work for the BBC...and/or KCBS in San Francisco. My friend, and former KSRO colleague, Larry, was now working for the latter, and knew I was looking to go to "the show". He put in a good word for me, and presto-change-o, I was hired by the All News giant.

My first day there was the Monday of the Oakland Hills firestorm in 1991. Talk about tested by fire. I could not have been happier to be where I was, although I was secretly frightened that "they" would soon discover I had no idea what I was doing.

Seven years later I cut those ties, due to carpal tunnel syndrome. I went away for a number of years, missing it most of the time away. I then got a second chance, and went back, part time, after having the pain-relieving surgery on my right wrist. That stint ended today, due, mostly to current economic conditions, but partly just because it was time.

When I got to work today I was greeted by a tasty chocolate cake, home made brownies, and the realization that my 25 year broadcasting dream was almost over. Some heady moments.
No tears were shed, as I made the farewell rounds, although there were a couple of moments when I, admittedly, barely fended them off. I heard praise a couple of times for my newswriting abilities. Some have said I was their favourite newswriter. For that I am deeply grateful. That means I accomplished what I wanted to when I started.

What I will do now is turn my attention to the schedule change that allows me to run....every day...if I'm knucklehead enough. But while I'm running, I'll be listening, like I did back in that little English closet. Thankful for the family.

Gotta run!

Monday, 29 December 2008


Yesterday was just one of those days in San Francisco.

Met my friend Patti and her brother, John, for a 10-miler along the SF waterfront. She's run marathons and halfs. We run together a lot. He's a relatively new distance runner, with his immediate sights set on a half marathon next month, and then, who knows?

The weather could NOT have been better. A little chill, no wind, overcast skies at the beginning. It didn't take long, though, to begin to clear. Started near the Coast Guard Station near Fort Point, and headed east and south toward SF's iconic Ferry Building, exactly five miles away.

I may have run this course a hundred times over the years, and it's still one of my favourites. I love the fact that people travel from all over the world to suck in this scenery and I can run here any day. What was fun about yesterday's trek was that, despite living in the area for years, John had not seen this part of The City from this angle.

Chrissy Fields was packed with runners and cyclists, Fisherman's Wharf and the Embarcadero were teeming with the afore-alluded-to tourists, transforming much of our route into an obstacle course. This obstacle course came, however, with the smells of steaming crab, the Boudin sourdough bakery, and caramel popcorn, making navigation more pleasure than pain. Once we hit the Ferry Building, we did a 180 with thoughts of the Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Ale that was cooling in the trunk of my car.

Patti is used to my Galloway run/walk thing, but I wasn't sure how John would take it. He's more of a run-straight-through guy, I think. I let him know at the beginning if I was too slow for him, he and his sister were more than welcome to forge ahead. That didn't happen. Turns out my run/walk pace was a bit faster than he's used to. Imagine that! My speed, considered "fast" by someone. Despite the "blistering" pace I set for us all, we made it, in fine fettle.

The Cherry Wheat slid down well. Cheers.

Gotta run!

Thursday, 25 December 2008


Woke up this morning with everyone else in the house still asleep, showing no signs of stirring anytime soon. My best course of action was to lace up the Brooks and hit the road, despite the (for California) blustery, cold conditions.

Where to run, where to run? I know. Let's do some hills, he says. Judgement perhaps still impaired from last night's wine?

My online running friend Julianne recently asked me where I run in our neighborhoods, and mentioned that when she does hill work she hits "The Arlington", a twisty-turny stretch of hoity-toity residential roadway through the North Berkeley hills and, to the immediate north of that, toney little Kensington. I've driven it for years, so I thought I knew what I was getting into. Not so much.

Earlier this year I ran the New Mexico Marathon, that starts with an 8-mile climb. Really. Since then I've done maybe 1 mile chunks of hill training a few times. Made up for that today.

It's widely accepted that what goes up MUST come down. I was beginning to question that old chestnut at 5.5 miles, running into a biting near-freezing rain, while moving my iPod from outside my windbreaker to inside, to protect its delicate innards.

At this point my watch said it had taken me 1:13 to get there. Way behind my normal pace. But then the downhill began. Just about 35 minutes later I landed on my front porch, having done the last 3.5 under my normal pace. I think that's called negative splits, right?

Regardless of what they're called, I called it a day, and climbed the 29 steps to my apartment, to find the family had risen. My Garmin says I burned more than 1200 calories this morning. I'm thinking I'm all good for a holiday snack or two.

Merry, merry to you all.

Gotta run!

Monday, 22 December 2008


Decided early this morning that my raging cold had messed with my training for far too long.

Haven't run a step in two weeks. That ended in the pre-dawn chill of Oakland's Lake Merritt, one of my favourite places to run.

Two times around did the trick, to the tune of 6 miles in 1:09. That time includes an 8 minute warm up walk. The most notable moment was the one where that first shot of icy air went right up both nostrils, as I drew my first step's first breath. It almost hurt.

I have just two weeks left of my six days a week work schedule. As of New Year's Day I'm out one of my two current jobs, thanks to previously noted downsizing. I'm jazzed about having the time to run practically every day, once my current schedule changes. I'm jazzed about maybe having a life again.

I'm jazzed about being back in the saddle, with 34 days to go until the Carlsbad Marathon, in Southern California.

Gotta run! See you out there.

Sunday, 14 December 2008



I've had a week to think about this, although I really didn't need to think that hard.

After 25 years in the radio business, I got downsized out of my current broadcasting job last week. It didn't come as much of a shock, considering current economic times, but I didn't expect it to happen to me. Not to worry, though, really. The radio gig was a side job. At my "real" job, I got a promotion, more money, and a better schedule. All in all, I'm a happy camper.

That said, I will sorely miss nearly every one of the people I've worked with in the newsroom. I'll miss the snarkiness. I'll miss the often-unbridled laughter. I'll miss the "freebies". But I will not miss the job.

What does this have to do with my 12in12 challenge? Pretty near everything, actually.

As of January I will no longer have to be at my real job until 10am...instead of the 7am I've been doing for years. That means I can run every freakin' morning if I want to. It also means I will have two whole days off every week, which makes even more time for training runs. It also means I may sleep in every day, if able. I'm a 5 o'clock wake-up guy, and have been all my life. That's probably not going to change.

This could not have happened at a better time, I'm thinking. The 12in12 is shaping up nicely. I have booked my runs through April and have decided which others I'll sign up for when finances allow. For the update, and links to their web sites, check the list to the right. The only month I haven't decided on is August. Not much going on that month that won't cost an arm and a leg to get to, the same month I'm going to Spain for La Tomatina. I'll work it out.

I am now wrapping up my rest and recovery from last week's CIM. Ready to hit the road again.

Gotta run.

Monday, 8 December 2008


Earlier this year I had the opportunity to spend a whole day in running class with Jeff Galloway, without whom I'd not be a runner today.

During that event I learned a number of things. Primarily, that rest is just as important to one's training regimen, if not more so, than the time you actually spend running. Secondarily, finishing time is not important unless you're hoping to win your event. (I know, I was just celebrating my sub-5 marathon finish just yesterday. I can not always adequately explain myself. Oh, well.) Thirdly, Accelerade rocks, before, during and after long runs. It provides much-needed energy stores prior to a marathon, quickly accessible calories during a run, AND...aids in post-long-run recovery. It is the last of these that I am interested in here.

After hearing of Accelerade's restorative powers back in the summer, I followed Galloway's advice and indulged in 12 ounces of the stuff immediately after a 20 miler. Not surprisingly, I honestly felt good enough to run again the next day. Pretty sure it was the sports drink.

Right now I'm still in pain from Sunday's CIM...but I'm in no hurry to guzzle another batch of Mountain Blueberry...as I kind of WANT to experience the pain that I earned running 26.2 miles, at least for another day or so. I guess I sort of consider those aches and burns, and the trouble my thighs have going up or down stairs, a badge of honor, of sorts.

I'm wondering if Accelerade, or any other recovery method, makes it easier to do the work that going the distance requires, will I lose my respect for the distance? I'm thinking, maybe so.

Was a time, not too many years ago, that running three miles was major. (For those of you for whom that is still true, I honor your place. Enjoy, the hard three's, five's and ten's. Learn from them.) Now I can roll out of bed and do 10-15 practically any day of the week. The challenges change over time, and I don't want marathon running to become pedestrian. Thinking that if it becomes too easy to recover from it, it may not offer the same value.

Not ready to take that chance...yet. No post-marathon Accelerade for me just yet, thanks. Sick, or what?

Gotta run!


After the first time I ran the California International Marathon, in 2004, I swore I'd never run it again. This weekend did a 180.

In 2004 it was ridiculously cold as we gathered at the Folsom Dam start, and I had no gloves. That would prove to taint the whole experience, as my hands never thawed. I seem to remember Fair Oaks Boulevard being industrial strength boring. And, at mile 17 that day, my right knee decided it wanted nothing more to do with this whole running a marathon thing. It agreed to go along if only I would walk. I walked the last 9.

This weekend could not have been more different.

My brother got up early and took me to the start, with the obligitory Starbucks stop along the way. Thick fog shrouded the area, that was quickly filling with 10,000 runners. I fully expected to throw up the coffee I'd just inhaled, as I usually do right before a race. Didn't happen. Hit the portapotties a couple of times, and then lined up to run.

Almost immediately I hooked up with a couple of runners of similar years, one a marathon virgin, the other, Scott -the-lawyer-from-Cleveland who's hated his job for thirty years. The first guy didn't stay with us long, but the barrister and I ran and chatted together for about 12 miles. He then said he was pretty much done, running-wise. I gave him one of my two English Mars bars (my secret energy weapon), told him he couldn't have it until mile 17, said cheerio" and struck out on my own.

Nothing much really happened the rest of the way, other than, for the first time in 21 marathons, I was able to stick with my Jeff Galloway method 5:1 run/walk pace all the way to the end. I ususally toss all that out somewhere between 17 and 20. Not sure where this batch of resolve came from, but it's welcome anytime.

The only down part of the race was as I approached mile 21, I started to sense the onset of a migraine, which I only get when I am really, really tired. Remembered that a migraine means the blood vessels in the brain are constricted and can't get enough blood through the affected area. I hadn't brought my migraine meds, although I'd thought about doing so as I got ready earlier, but forgot to follow through. Decided to experiment, by stepping up my pace to see if the old ticker would push a bit more blood to where it was needed, and maybe fend off the looming headache. For about a mile and a half my vision was blurred, and I could barely see the road. Good thing it was wide and closed to traffic. The experiment apparently worked, as my vision cleared a few minutes later, and I cruised the rest of the way in.

I have wanted to break the 5 hour mark for years, but had recently come to the realization that that was probably never going to happen at my age (56). Have taken on board, sort of, Jeff Galloway's and John Bingham's admonishments to just let go of the time limit thing. But I'll admit breaking that barrier was something I still really wanted to do.

As I crossed the 26 mile marker I noticed my Garmin showed I'd actually run a little more than that, so I carefully watched it tick up to 26.2...then hit the stop. I couldn't believe that my total time was 4:56. Un-freakin' real. Kept going and crossed the official finish line, even though I'd actually finished my marathon about half a block earlier. My brother, his wife, and their boys were there to welcome me in, which was awesome.

So, even though I'm officially done putting finishing time limits on myself, I quickly realized with a 4:56 on record, I am now just 26 minutes away from being able to run my dream marathon, San Sebasitan in Spain. They have a strict 4:30 course limit. I'm just saying.

Next up it's Carlsbad Marathon at the end of next month.

Gotta run!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


...but it might be.

Have realized over the past couple of days that I am not anxious at all about this Sunday's California International Marathon in Sacramento. It's the first of an anticipated dozen marathons in as many months, and the 21st since turning 50, six years ago.

I will admit there are a number of things I don't know about what will happen this weekend...and, indeed, once a month for the next year. I don't know if I'll finish any one of the races I'll start. I don't really know if I'll even be able to start them all. I could get hurt any day, any hour, any minute. Some part of my 56 year old body could implode during any one of the races I do manage to start. In other words, the whole thing's a crapshoot.

Among the things I DO know. Every race I do manage to start will hurt. But, as "they" say....it's a good hurt. Miles 0-13 will probably be fairly easy. I can do that distance almost any day. For that, I am grateful. From 13 on, it's anyone's guess. Depends upon the day. At every 17th mile I will inhale an imported Mars bar...my favourite candy since my childhood in Peterborough, England. I maybe even do two!

At mile 20 I will wonder why I keep doing this and, hopefully, keep going. Somewhere around mile 24 I'll seriously consider quitting, but, if all goes as planned, won't.

As I catch my first glimpse of the bright colours that usually indicate the finish line, I'll try to summon up that often-elusive "second wind", and somehow stumble, while pretending to be in better shape than I really am, for the photo-guys, through the arch. Shortly thereafter I will ask, where to next?

For those of you who are a little wobbly about how you may handle your first, second, tenth, or 30th marathon...where ever it may be....let me say I honor your trepidation. It is well-founded. 26.2 is an awesome distance, and something you'll be proud to have pounded out...after it's over. I honestly feel almost anyone who's in even relatively decent shape can "do" the marathon. The fact that YOU decided to take it on is the amazing thing. So few people do.