Friday, 26 March 2010


OK. So here's the deal. I lost my job a week or so ago. I'll not bring it up again, except to say that, as a result, I have a some extra time on my hands. Because of that, in order to retain some semblance of sanity, I have decided, urged on by a number of friends, to write my long-thought-about running book. But I need your assistance.

If you're a regular reader you know I finished twelve marathons in twelve months last year. Some folks, runners and those who just don't get that "running thing", have indicated that they found that inspirational in some way. I'm not sure I get that, really, especially given the pain I felt while doing every one of those races, how much I did NOT want to train on so many mornings, and how many times I questioned my own sanity during the process. Not much there that I would consider inspiring!

I am also so very aware that there are so many other runners out there, many of them dear friends of mine, who have run many more marathons than I have, most of them faster than I will ever run. So, I'm not sure that what I did last year was so special that anyone would want to read about it.

Don't get me wrong. I am quite proud of the case behind my desk that displays my 30 marathon finisher's medals, twelve of which were collected last year. It felt nutty to commit to doing it in the first place, was such an adventure during the process, and resulted in an amazing sense of relief when it was all over. Besides that, however, I am not sure myself what it was all for. I have yet to consciously glean from that experience whatever life lessons may be hidden within. Perhaps there's some shiny new bling in there. I could use some.

Here's where you come in. I would love to know what you would like to know about the adventure. My running has taken me to some amazing places and introduced me to some even more amazing people. I have stories about Hungarian police pulling me off of the only marathon I've started but didn't finish, frantically looking for a store candy store in Barcelona, my wine-laden search for the Loch Ness monster the night before a marathon in Scotland, the power of the "Big G", the power of Mars bars, my hunt for choco-bacon in Austin, and why one should check the Internet's bed-bug index when booking hotels in marathon cities.

I believe there is something interesting in my stories..I'm just not sure yet what it may be. If you can help, please do. Cheers. But for now...

Gotta run!

Monday, 22 March 2010


From the moment I made the decision on Saturday to not run the Los Angeles Marathon the following morning, my trip to Santa Monica became nothing about me and everything about the folks I know who were going to be out there at the Dodger Stadium start.

I met with Patti, John and Bert at the sun-baked expo, wavering then, but not yet decided. Both of the guys were uncertain they were physically 100% up for the challenge, due to nagging knee pains, but were totally down with being out there. Patti is always cheerful. She loves hot weather, and was seemingly stoked and raring to go. I have run with all three before, and know how much they love the marathon. It was nearly contagious enough.

My friend, Bob, lives and trains in Tokyo. He REALLY trains. His blog is impressive numbers on top of intimidating numbers. We both ran Santa Barbara International last December. If memory serves, he was shooting for 3:04 then. He only managed to pull out a disappointing 3:09! We were supposed to meet up at the LAM expo, too, but we didn't...because I needed to get out of the heat. Patti, John and Bert and I headed off to find a couple of cold beers.

When the brews and snacks ran out, I headed back to my hostel digs, fairly certain I would NOT be spending the evening pinning my bib on my running shirt and going over the last minute race instructions. Instead, I came up with my plans for hanging out at the finish line, to take pictures of my friends as they conquered the new LAM route.

I wasn't able to go to bed as early as I normally do, because I had to deliver my other friend Sandra's bib to her. She was driving down from the Bay Area and couldn't make the expo. She rolled into Santa Monica at about 9:30, and the hand-off was complete. She also had a gift for me. She and I are both Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish addicts. Sick? We think not. Please don't judge. The surprise she had for me, was this beautifully hand-crafted goldfish cap! Sweet!

Before hitting the hay for the evening I chatted a bit with the two new runner guys in my six-bunk hostel room. Turns out they arrived late at the expo and were not able to get the free t-shirts in the size they needed. Both wanted a large, but the marathon planners apparently didn't plan well enough to have the sizes that would satisfy all late-comers. I could only help one of them. I had a large I would not wear, seeing that I wasn't going to run. Gave one guy my shirt. He said he'd remember me every time he wore it. A nice thought...but I'm guessing not so much. Just glad to help.

As race morning arrived, I was not offended at all by the two roomies fumbling about for their gear at 4AM. After they slipped out, under cover of darkness, I went back to sleep. Got up two hours later and did a 10 mile run along the Santa Monica beachfront. Showered, then headed for the finish, expecting to see Tokyo Bob crush his goal time. Turns out it was not to be. Once again, he let us all down, only managing a dismal 3:08. A minute faster than Santa Barbara!

I met up with him moments after he finished. His comment was, "these things don't get any easier." I could tell he was disappointed that he had not cracked 3:04. He would find out later, at the post-race party at his delightful daughter's condo in East Hollywood, he won his age group...again. I only have to trim a little less than 2 hours off of my marathon best to come close to what Bob does. He just rocks.

After Bob crossed the finish, honestly, I knew I had a little time to spare, before the rest of the crew would arrive. Grabbed a coffee, strolled out onto the Santa Monica Pier, and then came back to snag a photo-spot beneath the 26 mile banner. Waited there from when the time-clock said 4:30 til John passed before me. Turns out I missed Patti, Bert AND Sandra, even though I was standing there ready to capture their success on digital. I did catch John, thanks to text messaging.

Every one of these folks is a star in their own right. This was not an easy course. Each handled it with determination and humor. I missed the shared experience. I am sorry I won't have the stories to swap about "that year we ran LA". However, I am better for having witnessed their accomplishment. 

Gotta run!

Saturday, 20 March 2010


I have never done this before. 

I am currently sitting in Santa Monica. It's the night before the Los Angeles Marathon, the reason I came down here. I was going to run, but have decided against it. The choice is not without disappointment. 

The deal is this. Having gone the 26.2 mile distance 30 times, I pretty much know what would be required of me if I did suit up and give LA a shot. I know how far down I've dug before to pull myself beneath the FINISH banner. I'm also fairly certain that right now I do not have those reserves. 

I'm not whining about my recent job loss. I am simply acknowledging that it has taken it's toll on my ability to focus on efforts I don't have to take on right order to save my energies for more important tasks at hand. If memory serves, I have been unemployed for only 2-3 weeks in my life...since I entered the work force, 40 years ago, in high school. This is new, and daunting. 

I went to the marathon expo today, in search of the inspiration that would push me to choose to run tomorrow. I met with dear friends there, talked to others on the phone and online, seeking similar assistance. They all stepped up, offering their best advice and support. Most voted that I should run. A few others indicated they would respect any choice I made. It did not take long for me to realize that I needed to find the inspiration within, and, try as I may, I just could not today. 

I will probably go for a nice run along the beach in Santa Monica tomorrow morning, before ending up at the LAM finish, to high-five my marathon-finishing friends. I am sure they are all folks I'll be running with in the future. I'm already looking for another marathon sign-up opportunity. After all, I've... 

Gotta run!