Friday, 29 January 2010


My stepson is off to live off the land in Hawaii for, he says, at least six months. He speaks of building shelters, slaying wild boar, and an abundance of fresh "for the picking" fruit. He's at that point in his young life that "invincibility" is more of a lifestyle than an abstract concept. I am not there. I am dealing these days with the 'vincibility' of it all.

If you're a frequent visitor here you will know I am all about the slow. I won't say I'm about the easy, as I've run 30 marathons in the past nearly 8 years, and none of them have been easy. But I do take great strides to make that endevour as safe and sane as possible. I don't run hard. I don't even train hard. I train long. I train steady. And, I am a big fan of rest days. I learned from Jeff Galloway that the rest is as important, if not more so, than the running days. One makes the other possible. The other makes the other-other, necessary. It's easier to believe that way when one has a choice.

I hurt myself a couple of weeks ago, to the point where I have not run since. I am guessing I am still a week away from hitting the pavement again. I have determined I have a minor stress fracture of my third metatarsyl in my right foot, not a broken or sprained toe. Physically, I am improving daily. However, I am not getting better when it comes to dealing, mentally, with the layoff. The itch to lace up my trusty Brooks Beasts and head out for a nice, pre-dawn 6 mile hill run is intensifying. Forced rest is crap.

The reason I bring all this up, rather than just lock myself in my curtains-drawn bedroom, watching Kate Beckinsale or Robert Downey, Jr. movies, is that I have read some stuff from other online runners recently that just makes me scratch my nearly-bald head. I realize that I am older than most folks currently caught up in this distance running thing and, therefore, have to be a bit more careful with my bones and stuff. But I would like to think that I have gleaned a modicum of wisdom from my thousands of miles in running shoes, minimal and otherwise.

I read of one runner suffering with recurring shin splints who, instead of taking a few days rest to allow those micro-fractures to heal, was turning to athletic tape. I have researched this stuff for a while and, I'll admit, I just don't get it. I am sure there are some of you who swear by the stuff. Seems to me it masks the injury, rather than allowing it time to fix what's broke! I know it supposedly increases blood flow to the injured area...but I'm a sucker for the old fashioned RICE concept.

Another runner spoke of his new training plan, consisting of six days of short runs and another day of the long stuff. No mention of rest. A formula for disaster, in my humble opinion. I hope, for his sake, that all goes well. I sincerely hope his efforts turn him into the next world record breaker. My fear, however, is that, sooner, rather than later, he'll be joining me, watching all those DVD's we didn't have time to view when we COULD run.

This being "vincible" thing is frustrating. But, it is serious business. In the same week I had my first motorcycle crash and sustained my first running injury. I am lucky to be able to still get on my bike. In a few more days I am hoping to be able to get into my running shoes again. I have learned more than I really wanted to about being mortal.

Gotta run!

Monday, 18 January 2010


I have washed them, dried them, and now they are hanging up.

I blame them at least a little for my current, first-ever running injury. I mostly blame me for being a dumb ass for trying to go too far in them for the particular day of training.

I have the Los Angeles and Oakland marathons in March, and don't feel like doing anything to jeopardize my ability to do them. Think I will be backing away from my beloved VFFs for a while.

I am fairly certain the injury is nothing more than a painful sprain. I am waiting a few days to see if the "ouch factor" declines. If it doesn't I will have to go the doc.

Meanwhile, wine is helping.

Wanting to run!

Sunday, 17 January 2010


If you know me and my training methods at all, you will know that I'm all about taking it easy, and keeping it safe and sane. My goal is to be running healthy when and if I get to 100. Up until this morning, through 30 marathons and the training they required, I have never been hurt to the point where I had to not run. That streak MAY be over.

In the blog post before this one I spoke of my new 20 miles of running a week goal...and the fact that I was short of hitting the mark this week by 8 miles. I knew I was tired. I knew I set the silly goal myself, so it would be no big deal to not meet it this week. Then I had a bowl of "Stoopid" for breakfast, strapped on my VFF's, and headed out into the rain to rectify the situation.

Oakland's Lake Merritt was the place.

I was hoping to put in 4 of the miles I needed there...then go to the gym later and do the remaining 4 on the dreadmill. However, instead of doing THAT, that would have been smart, I felt so good after the 4 that I thought I'd just keep going and get all 8 done at the lake. At mile 5 I stopped to answer nature's call. When I came out of the bathroom, all of a sudden, I couldn't put full weight on the right foot.

Hobbled back to the car and made my way home. Iced the foot, popped some pain meds....and now, I'm waiting. It's a little swollen, but no bruising. It's tender to the touch, about half the time. Hoping that tomorrow morning all will be well. If it is, I will feel like I've dodged a bullet, and will seriously back off on the effort to go VFF's in a marathon anytime soon. If it isn't, and I can't run for a while, I will bank information and, hopefully, recall it the next time my committment to an arbitrary goal impedes my better judgement.

Time for wine.


I usually like to have a clever point when I post. However, the writing gods have not blessed me with a spiffy theme this time around.

I just felt like I'd been away for too long. Needed to land here to try to sort out my sh*t. Here's where I am in terms of my stated goals for this young year.

When it comes to my "run 20 miles a week" goal...I'm at 50%. I only set that bar two weeks ago. The first week I did it. The second week, which ends today, I have only run 12. Now, honestly, I may force myself out there later on and finish it up...but the Bay Area is supposed to get battered by major rains over the next 4-6 days. I could go to the gym and do it on the dreadmill, but, really. Does that sound like fun to you? My very clever wife suggested I run half of it outside and then finish at the gym. There's a jacuzzi at the gym. Did I mention? She's clever.

I am hoping to run at least one marathon in my Vibram Five Fingers anti-shoe shoes this year, so I am stepping up my training in them. I will say right here and now, I love running in them. My feet don't seem to mind them either. So far, though, my knees are still not entirely on board. That one week I ran 20 this year I did it in my VFF's. My knees noticed. The longest run I've done in them so far is 10 miles. Initially I thought I might be able to work up to 26.2 by the Los Angeles Marathon in March. Thinking now that may be too soon.

I have six marathons scheduled so far for this year, although I am only registered for one. I've ponied-up for LA, on my birthday weekend. I am committed to Oakland the following weekend, but haven't signed up yet. Last week's motorcycle mishap forced me to lay out $300 for new boots, jacket and pants. That's money that would otherwise have been spent on airfare for LA and Oakland registration. Those expenses have now been pushed back to February. Fingers crossed Oakland doesn't sell out. I have secured enough Rewards Points on my Amex to snag a free flight to London in late April for my Trieste and Prague marathons in early May. Just haven't pulled the trigger yet. That should happen next month, too. As for Venice and Athens, in October, nothing concrete's been done there yet. Waiting for "my ship to come in". Anyone seen my ship?

The other big (?) thing I want to do this year is, by the end of it, swim a mile. I have never been a swimmer. I have never liked being in water, unless it was really warm AND bubbling. I have now taken to my gym's pool. The most I've done in one workout session is 12 laps. I'm getting a little bit more comfy each time but I'm still against that bit where the water goes up your nose!

I am still looking for an East Coast marathon to do in the fall, so that I can meet up with the other members of my running club, The Goon Squad. The wife and I have decided we WILL be going to Boston for this year's GSR awards ceremonies. Hoping to find something to run there at the same time. Suggestions?

Wow! That post was really boring. If you somehow made it this far, hoping for some valuable 'nugget"...don't say I didn't warn you!

Gotta run!

Sunday, 10 January 2010


I have plenty of goals for this only slightly-used year. (See the previous post for the breakdown.) I am adding another, namely, to make it through the whole thing. It was "touch and go" for a handful of seconds earlier this week.

I've been called "nuts" by some family, some friends, because of my marathon exploits. Even more voices joined the chorus when I bought a motorcycle in September 2008.

It was a matter of practicality at the time. Our 2001 Saturn had served us well for years, but it was getting a little tired. Financial limitations were such that buying a new one was possible, but not too smart. However, if I continued to use it to get to and home from work, its' life span would be seriously shortened. Enter, my first ever motorcycle, a 2009 Honda Rebel. It's a little bike, but it does what it's supposed to.

I've known a bunch of moto riders over the years. Some of them ride like "hot dogs" and take pride in the dings and scratches they've inflicted on their machines through encounters with various other objects and unfriendly surfaces. They have never impressed me. I have also known another group of riders who take it real easy out there, fully cognizant of the inherent perils of the activity. I told myself, and my wife, that when I got the bike I would be one of the latter. I have lived up to that promise.

However, the best made plans...sometimes go wonky.

Tooling across the San Rafael Bridge last Thursday night, I had ocassion to brake more quickly than I would have liked. I was far enough behind the fairly heavy traffic in front of me that I knew, if I had to stop fast, I was not in danger of rear-ending anyone. However, the more likely scenario was that I could get smacked from behind.

As it happened, I braked, the front wheel slid left, dumping the bike and me onto our right sides. We slid together for about 20 feet. The bike went a few feet more. No one hit me, and I got up, dazed, to survey the damage. My fear was that it was more serious than it was. I picked up the 325 lb bike, moved it out of the traffic lanes and she started right up. After thanking the driver behind me for calling in the accident, told him I thought the bike was fine and that I could make it home. That's just how it played out. I've since been told by other riders that this practically "never happens". I broke a bar-end off the right side of the handlebar, and scratched my windshield. I also ripped the knees and elbows out of $300 worth of "gear". The bar-end cost $17 to replace. And a new jacket, pants and boots set me back about $290. You know when someone says "It coulda been worse"? This was one of those times, really.

What does this have to do with my running blog? I'm thinking, quite a bit, simply because, I'm still here, I can still run. I dodged a serious bullet. I can still dream about where I'd like to run next...and then choose to go.

It can all go belly-up, folks, ever so quickly. It can go so quickly that you might not even be aware of just how quickly it ended.

Happy to still be able to say...

Gotta run!

Friday, 1 January 2010


Now that I have proven to myself that I could set a lofty goal and meet it, I have decided to set just a few more for the new year. Hello, 2010. We've been waiting for you!

I will NOT be doing 12 marathons in 12 months least this year. Last year was mainly about quantity, although it surely had many quality moments. 2010's marathon selections are going to be more about enhancing the total experience of each. They're about the "where" and the "who". There will be three pairs of back-to-back weekend marys in four countries, a new PR target time, and involvement in a cross-training sport I've despised my whole life.

First up, on my birthday weekend in March, the new LA Marathon. In 2004 I rode the marathon route on my bike and swore I'd never run LA because it was, quite frankly, the ugliest course I'd ever seen. It's been redesigned now, starting at Dodger Stadium and ending at the beach in Santa Monica. I am soooo looking forward to this one, not only for the sights, but also for the many folks I know who are running it, too. You know who you are. We are gonna have a ball, right? It ain't called LaLaLand for nought!

A week after that, it's the inaugural Oakland Marathon, just "down the road apiece" from my house. I have waffled of late about committing to this one, as I have used Oakland's streets as a favourite training ground for years. I've seen most of this stuff. But, my friend John has been applying gentle, but consistent pressure ever since I got on the fence. I am now off. What he does not know, until he reads this, is that in exchange for my participation, he is buying, at the very least, two rounds of beers at Quinn's Lighthouse Pub afterwards. There are a few other people I know doing it, too, including one who's using it to a "surprising" end. Gotta see how that unfolds!

Four weeks later I will be jetting off to Italy to tackle the streets of Trieste with my pal, Kari. She forced me into that marathon much like her BFF Laura did with me and last year's Rochester Marathon, and John did with Oakland. (Honestly, they didn't have to try too hard!) I could try to make the case that it's a supply mission, as Kari needs Ranch Dressing and Peanut Butter from home...but that would just be lame. I also need to reaquaint myself with carbo-loading, Italian style. Did some of that in Rome a couple of years ago before running the Dublin Marathon. I'm thinking it worked a treat.

Before my legs even begin recovering from the cobblestones of Northern Italy, I will be making my way to Prague. There's a marathon there on the following Sunday. I have a couple of friends doing that one, too. One of them is in dire need of a recipe for Key Lime Pie that he can prepare for his family in the Czech Republic. He must not be let down. Oh, I think they have beer there, too. Correct me if I am wrong.

After that, as it currently stands, I have a near-five month break from actual races. I will be in training, however, for a return to Italy, for the Venice Marathon on the 24th of October. I am running this one because 1) I am sure Kari will need more vittles and 2) if I'm going to spend the money to get to Europe to run, I can't do just, you see, I will be heading to Greece (can you believe it???) the next weekend, to meet up with running dynamo, Ioanna, and her local posse. We're going to do a little thing we like to call the Classic Marathon in Athens. I mean, this is the real deal. This is where it all started. Grappa, anyone?

Whew! Anyone else feeling tired just thinking about this?

That's it for races...except for the one big hole I have yet to fill. My running club, The Goon Squad Runners, is based in the Beantown area. I have never run with them, other than in spirit. I need to get back there sometime this year. For those of you in GSR, I am scouring the calendars and trying to synch up whatever can be synched. Would love to know what some of your plans are so that I can coordinate.

Now...for the other stuff.

Even though I care not about my finishing times, I have decided to set a target time for at least one of this year's races, primarily to force myself to train harder so I finish stronger. I've done 30 marathons to date and have hated miles 17-25 in practically every one of them. They're not going to I have to. Just once this year I would like to shuffle across the finish line in 4:30-4:45.

I am also aiming to run 20 miles per week...every week...except for pre-race tapers. I will be eating during those times.
I also hope to run at least one of these marathons in my Vibram Five Fingers "shoes". I love running in them but am still working my way, slowly, up to wearing them for all runs. Got's to be smartish about it.

Finally...I have taken to the pool at my new gym, although not "like a fish to water". I have never been a swimmer. My dad put me on his shoulders when I was very young and took me out into the ocean off an English beach. I guess he wanted to "teach" me how to swim. His method was to take me off his shoulders and show me the beach, saying "that's where you need to go!" I've never like swimming. Since the gym I joined has a lap pool I decided to use it. Again, it's a value for money thing. This morning I had the pool to myself. Did 12 laps. My goal is to be able to swim a mile by the end of the year. Just got to get that whole breathing thing down.

So. As my lovely wife said would seem as though 2010 is taking on a "shape". So it would seem.

Hope to see some of you out there, somewhere or other. Cheers for 2010.

Gotta run!