Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A RUNNER AGAIN


I'll admit it. I have had some second thoughts over the past few weeks since I crazily signed up for the inaugural Rock and Roll New Orleans marathon in March...until today.

I had been running in a mix of my VFFs and my Brooks Beasts...two extremes, to be sure. I love running in the barefoot shoes, and have wanted to be able to go the marathon distance in them one day. However, the only running injury I've ever had was sustained while trying to go 8 miles in the barefoot shoes, too quickly, too soon. Fractured my third metatarsyl in my right foot, and was out of commission for nearly three months...until saved by Chinese herbs. Really.

The Beasts are just that...and although they have served me well over the course of 30 marathons and all the training that went into them, I have hated running in them lately. I have been dreading the prospect of doing RNRNO in them. I have considered dropping out, but I have a group of amazing friends who are going, too...so pulling out would not be cool.

Fast forward to yesterday. I realized what I needed was a mix of the two shoes...although leaning more in the direction of the minimalist option. I put the question out on Daily Mile, Facebook and Twitter...and within 20 minutes I got some really thoughtful suggestions. Long story short, two people recommended a shoe company I'd never heard of...Altra. I checked out their web site, found two styles I really wanted to try and discovered that one of a handful of running stores in the entire Bay Area to carry them is Transport, which is about 5 blocks from my house. Go figure! Half an hour later I arrived home with my new, zero-drop Altra Instincts, thrilled at the idea of hitting the pavement in them this morning. The new shoes are pretty much VFFs without the toe slots, replaced by a big toe box that allows the toes to spread naturally, with a tad more protection underfoot. I was hoping this was the perfect combo.

I rolled out the front door in the dark, with fully-charged Garmin 305, similarly-energized and podcast-loaded iPod, snuggly-warm beanie and gloves and Santa Barbara International Marathon hoodie, and hit the road for my scheduled 12 miler.

I thoroughly expected to experience new-shoe break-in wobblies...and figured I might make it 5-6 miles before worrying about hurting myself, and heading for home. Didn't happen.

The first three miles were pretty much all uphill...and the zero-drop design takes a little getting used to because it changes one's posture to a midfoot strike, and uses different muscles in the legs and back than regular running shoes. Downhills and flats were a blast. There were many moments that I ran through my scheduled walk breaks, because I was engrossed in my movie review podcasts...and didn't even notice that I'd forgotten about my strides, heartrate, and pace.

Again...long story, short. These shoes were a revelation. I did my scheduled 12...and may even have had another 2-3 in me, gladly. But I was home, and packed it in for the day. Upon entering my apartment I told my wife "I'm a runner again!" This is what it felt like during the best moments of the 12 in 12.

I am retiring my Beasts. They will now be gardening or casual shoes. They have served me well over the past ten years. But I am moving on. It's all minimal from now on.

Bring it on New Orleans. I'm now looking for a fall marathon, too.

Gotta run!

Monday, 19 December 2011

REACQUAINTED



I needed some inspiration this morning. I had a 10 miler on the schedule...written in ink on my desk blotter. In ink! That means I had no choice. But, I was not feeling it. Thanks to my Facebook friends who pushed me out the door.

I have 2.5 months to go til my next marathon. Rock and Roll New Orleans at the beginning of March. I have worked my way back up to double digit mileage, as of this morning, and I am happy with that. But, I'll be honest...it's bloody boring...other than the scenery.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/135436139

I knew that already...having run a few of these things before. But, seeing that I've taken a couple years off, I seem to have forgotten a lot. I am getting reacquainted...with the drudgery. But, it's a good drudgery.

I was ridiculously slow. 13:00 per mile pace. That sucks...but it's all I had in me. I thought about bailing early on, but decided I it was more important to remind my limbs and joints of what distance is all about. They're remembering.

Undaunted...I am pressing on. 12 is next.

Happy Holidays!

Gotta run.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

STARTING...BLOCKS

It's been about a month now since I committed to next March's inaugural Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon. The day I signed up I was totally pumped to pour myself into the training, as I only had four months, minus taper-time, to work my way back into the shape I was in, mentally and physically, in December 2009, when I wrapped up 12 in 12 in Santa Barbara.

I started out with a few 5-milers, some in my Brooks Beasts, some in my Vibram Five Fingers. I was quickly reminded how much more I like to run in the barefoot shoes. I'm faster in the them, and they're much less work. Trouble is, I have begun to believe that, for me, they're not suitable for 26.2 miles...so most of my work will be in the BB's.

I was ready to move up to 6's...when a co-worker got put on a jury, and I was called upon to do many of his 3am shifts. Long story shortened...that killed any spark I had...for more than a month. Not complaining...because the money's good. But all I could think to do when not working was to sleep.

On top of that distraction, I became engrossed in the Occupy movement, and on a couple of the days I had off, I chose to ride with the demonstrators, in Oakland and San Francisco, instead of running. I, regretfully, failed to take part in the anti-war and civil rights marches of the 1960s. I was not about to let this opportunity to be part of something so important slip by again.

Now it appears my early morning work shifts are mostly over, leaving me a frame of mind more conducive to putting in the miles. I still may have to march with the 99%...just because. But, I should start racking up some good distances now.

For those who wonder what it's like to be back on the running trails after so long off...in a word...it's hard.

I have long believed that marathon running is mostly mental. Recent runs have reminded me, however, that I acquired that viewpoint after getting myself into good enough physical shape to do the distance, and then maintaining the pace with mind games. I am currently back in the starting blocks, with oh-so-much work to do before my body gladly goes along with what my mind is asking of it now. I am thankful I don't have to re-learn the mental part.

Today I did a 7-miler, along the Berkeley shoreline, where my marathon training began just about 10 years ago. It was covered in delicious London-like fog, and equally chilly. At one point my beard and mustache had taken enough of the precipitation out of the surrounding air that it dripped from my face. I haven't felt that in a long time. It was good.

Right now it's all about distance. I'm not concerned with speed. Once I get to 10 milers, in a couple of weeks, I'll start on hills and speed.

Gotta run.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez


Yep! You guessed it.

I took the plunge today...and paid my monies to the Rock and Roll gods...for my ticket to March 4th's big time 26 mile doin's in the Big Easy.

I must admit that, after two years of not giving much of a hoot about running in general, let alone doing it for 26.2 miles, I am stoked to have signed up to run New Orleans.

The deciding factors were as follows.

It's New Orleans. Hello!
It's my 60th birthday.
I couldn't fathom celebrating my only 60th birthday in Los Angeles.
Air fare to Little Rock is ridiculous.
I can't afford to take a month off to go to the UK for the Bath run or the End to End bike ride.
Barcelona? See note above on UK trip.
Sacramento? Too close to home. Need a bit of a kick!
Sleep deprivation, in anticipation of 3am works shifts next week.
Cheap red wine.

I know I said in the previous post that I would not reveal my destination til 12/7...but I surprised myself with the gumption for a 5am run in the dark yesterday morning...and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The "Good Morning's" one gets from fellow runners at that time of day are just a tad more delicious than the ones one gets later in the day (after the sun comes up) from non-runners. I missed that.

Now the work begins.

I am shooting for 4:50...which will be a 6 minute improvement over 2008's CIM PR. I am also hoping to have lost enough weight by the time I line up at the starting line to wear my really bitchin' Big G black running singlet. Hoping my Goon Squad Running Club has not given up on me.

Friday morning's 3 miler brought back memories of training for my first mary (Vancouver, 2003)...but also convinced me I am back at square one.

Let's do this, people. Legs, don't fail me now.

Gotta run! Really!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

DECEMBER 7TH

Ask most folks what the date December 7th means to them...and you're likely to hear "Pearl Harbor Day". Not me.

While I do concede that it was a day that should live in infamy...from 1941...my 12/7 came in 1967....when my mom, my three siblings and I, boarded a TWA airliner in the dead of night...on a chilly English airport tarmac...heading for our new lives in California. I can still see the plane's tail, branded with the massive corporate identifier, facing in a direction in which I really had no desire to go. I was happy where I was, groovin' with the Beatles' generation, eating fish and chips, sausage rolls, Crunchie and Flake candy bars, roasts on Sundays at my Nan's, and following Tottenham Hotspur, arguably the premier football team of the time. However, apparently, moms trump teenage wishes. Far too often.

Fast forward 42 years....to the day. Needless to say, a truckload of stuff had happened since that disappointing day in 1967. I was in Santa Barbara, California. Things could have been a lot worse, right? I was putting the finishing touches on a year's worth of looney...wrapping up 12 marathons in 12 months...running down a steep hillside with the finish line at Santa Barbara City College in the distance. This had been a difficult one, primarily because I was so anxious to put the 12 in 12 to bed...and move on with my life. My friends John and Bob beat me to the finish...by way more than a country mile...but still welcomed me in as though I had bested them.

Since then, I have run little. I didn't work to not run...but I didn't try real hard to run. I just couldn't find a reason to do it anymore. Until now.

If you've been here before no doubt you know that I did 30 marathons from the time I turned 50 until Santa Barbara, at 57. They are listed down the left side of the blog. As you might imagine, my mind is filled with countless pictures from those events and locales...and the people I met along the way. I trained with some of them, almost every one of them faster than me. I ate with many more of them...before and/or after some stellar events, and some not-so-stellar others. And...I have tipped back perhaps more than my share of adult beverages with those folks. Too bad. You can't have them back. What we shall have to do...is to try now, to even the score.

Of late, I have been itching to get back into the mix. I miss you people.

I have run with Patti's, John's, Bert's, Julianne's, Todd's, Sandra's, Juliette's, Laura's, Bob's, Sarah's, Leslie's, Phil's, Michelle's, Russ's, Kevin's, Evan's, Elise's, and so many, many more. I am so itching to run with Ioanna's, Rachel's, Marty's, Kari's, Barbie's, and so many others, that I can't pull the plug just yet.

My personal best for the 26.2...was the first in the 12 in 12 challenge, CIM, Folsom to Sacramento in 2008. 4:56. I came close to beating that a couple of times over the following 11 months. During that same race, my first-time-marathoner pal, Les, qualified for Boston.

A few months later...I "qualified" for acceptance into the Goon Squad Runner's club...based in Boston. Yes, THAT Boston. As I was sitting in my Motel 6 room, having a beer, after finishing the 12 in 12 in Santa Barbara, I got a congratulatory call from the Goons. One of the best calls...ever.

They may have wondered where I went...after they gave me their first-ever Craziest Goon Award for 2009. I didn't go far. I just needed a break. I'm ready to kick it up again...two years later...in short order.

For my 60th birthday...in 2012.. I have decided I am doing another "mary." I just don't know which one. Here...are my options....all in March of 2012.

Little Rock: Bill Clinton is one of my heroes. Want to go to the Presidential Library.
New Orleans: Post race food...Hello!
Los Angeles: I signed up for this one in 2010...then bagged. Redemption?
Bath, England: Holy crap, this looks fun!
Barcelona, Spain: What part don't you get? Issue is $$$$

The deal is...training begins in earnest on December 7th. (Get it?)

For those checking in to see how the plans for the month-long bike JOGLE bike ride are going....I would love to do it...just can't afford to take a month off from work. I don't get vacation pay anymore...so there you go. Still working on it...but don't think it's going to happen.

Let me know what you think of my options. I will decide by 12/7/2011...and let you know.

Meanwhile...

Gotta run...again.








Monday, 26 September 2011

CRANKING IT




My heart pounded like crazy for hours last Sunday night, as I squirmed atop my Sacramento Hosteling International bunk bed. I was, admittedly, in some "discomfort." I'll not call it pain, as whatever it was that hurt, after my 75 mile, 6 hour bike adventure across the Sacramento River Delta, was tempered with the realization that, on the downhill, freewheeling side of the slope that leads to 60 years old, I can still do this sh*T. And, perhaps even more importantly, for me...I still want to.

Want to see what it was like? The video's here.






Monday, 15 August 2011

CONSIDERING


There are now, as always, changes in the works.

Until very recently there had been some commitments made that I truly thought were set in stone. However, I am learning with age, that this life thing is a fluid situation. I am, fortunately, not one who frets about making adjustments.

Firstly, my 60th birthday trip next year to ride from John O'Groats in Scotland to Land's End in England may have to be scaled back. I am making contingency plans now. The original plan was to take a month to do the 900-plus mile journey, completing the trip I started years ago, only to be derailed four days in by carpal tunnel syndrome. In the current financial climate, which, thankfully is only partly cloudy at this time, I am not sure I can put away enough cash to cover both the trip expense and the cost of keeping the home fires burning while away. So, I am looking at two week bike trip options...including the Danube River Trail, from southern Germany to Vienna, which would take four to five days, followed by three days in England for the BBC Good Food Show in June. Got to get into and out of England before the Olympics start! At this point, this is only a backup plan.

I have paid my money to run the brand new NorCal Half Marathon in San Jose, California next month....but I am considering pulling the plug on that idea. I have not trained at all, and have no desire to start now. I have, of late, fallen in love with long-distance bike rides. Good thing, right, considering my plans for 2012? I will miss hooking back up with a number or friends who are going to do the race...but the passion's just not there...try as I may to drum some up. This too, is only a consideration right now. Who knows, I might just feel inspired on race day morning.

Also, I have been writing this blog for years. There was a while that I was fairly prolific, back when I was running a lot, and had lots to share about marathoning and travelling. But I'm not doing either right now, and feel I have little of worth to write about these days. A number of subscribers have unsubscribed lately, which could just serve to prove my point. So, this too may end. Besides, I have a book to write, and my time to sit at the computer is limited. Perhaps it would be better spent on the bigger project.

No decisions have been made...and...in keeping with my last post, I am in no position to make any big pronouncements. Taking it all day by day.

Cheers.

Monday, 25 July 2011

PROCLAMATIONS PROCLAMATION


No more.

I have made plenty of proclamations over the past year and a half...and have seen few of them through.

I've talked about running more, not running at all, running a little, signing up for races, not signing up for races, drinking less wine, drinking no wine, eating less butter and cheese, losing weight, taking things more seriously, using my time better, trying to find more time to waste, blah, blah, blah.

Since completing my 12 in 12 challenge in December 2009, and losing my job the following March, it's been a struggle to find lasting focus, on anything other than sheer survival. My many proclamations were my attempts to find that definition. Trouble is, life does not often operate within one's own boundaries.

The process of constantly moving the goal posts and then not scoring has been tiring. I have decided to make just one more grand proclamation...and that is to not make any more of them...and discover what it's like to not put myself under that pressure.

I am going to run...whenever. Maybe slowly. Maybe I'll try to get faster. Haven't decided. I may sign up for half marathons or even another 26.2 miler...and then may not show up. All depends.

My UK bike ride is still on for my 6Oth birthday celebration. The last time I tried it, I spent two years planning every day's mileage, lodging, and even the food I was going to eat on particular days. But I'm now going to leave next year's adventure mostly unbooked.

I have a book to write. I have beaten myself up for not being further along with it. Just heard an interview with a well-known author who said it takes him 4-6 YEARS to write a book. I'm wondering about how that would be.

I'll let you know.

Gotta run, gotta ride...or do I?

Saturday, 2 July 2011

WORKING IT


No sooner had I committed to my next distance run, the NorCal Half Marathon in San Jose in September, than my work life got in the way of training for same. But I'm still in.

Seriously. What happened was this. For the past six weeks it's been my pleasure to have had almost-full time work at the radio station. Summer is a good time to work at a big radio station for practically everyone involved. If you're a full time staff sort of person, chances are you're entitled to some delicious vacation time...and this is the best time to take it. If you're a fill-in, per diem dude or gal, this is the time you gets lots-o-work...filling in for the lucky sods who have taken off. This has been my lot. The paychecks have been on the handsome side. The hours have been hellish.

I consider myself fairly healthy, and, when I'm able, I'm pretty active for being on the very short side of the big "60". But..getting up at 2am and needing to be productive, let alone coherent, just one hour later...is asking a lot. I've done it, and even enjoyed it. But, upon getting home, there's been no gas left in the tank.

I have done NO training whatsoever. The really cool thing is, I realized today, I'm in good enough shape that it doesn't matter right now. After all...the race is only 13.1 miles.

Time was, like when I was training for my first marathon, 1 mile seemed like a ridiculous distance to travel on foot, all at one go, on purpose. Now, I can say to myself, "Well, it's only a half"...and mean it. I've got a few more early days coming up at the old grindstone..and maybe even another full week of it late in the month, but it would appear things will calm down soon...and I'll be working more training-friendly hours.

I'm also thinking about giving up my gym membership..at least until the winter. Although I will miss the 24-hour access to a jacuzzi, not having the gym option may force me to run more...like outside...in the California sun. I am itching for it...and some long bike rides.

I have also discovered most of my running t-shirts are from races in 2009 and earlier. I am in serious need of some new, free threads. Not counting, of course, the insane entrance fees.

See you out there.

Gotta run!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

PEANUT BUTTER BURGER

There she is...all dressed up with somewhere to go. Namely, Santa Cruz. I needed an inspiration break, so I packed the panniers and headed out on Sunday morning, with thoughts of lighthouse hostels, quiet moments, artichoke garlic bread, new people, stunning vistas, grueling uphills, insane downhills, and celebratory brews at the end. I got everything I wanted.


The adventure began with a bus ride to Pacifica with my fully loaded bike. I had reservations at the Montara Lighthouse Hostel which turned out to be just six miles from where the bus dropped me off. I'm thinking, not too daunting for the first day. However, the first two miles were straight up to the top of Devil's Slide, on Highway 1. There's no place but in the road to ride here, and it was packed with weekend beach goers, and more than enough of those macho guys in big trucks with wide tires who get a kick out of nearly running cyclists into the hillside. They didn't get their way with me, though! Once at the top it was all about the three miles down, and I do mean down. I could have easily hit 50 miles an hour had I left my brakes untouched. But I grabbed 'em, topping out at only about 30. Fast enough for fully loaded. Cruised into Montara with two hours to kill until the hostel opened so I continued on to Pillar Point, where I took pictures. Wanted a beer at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, but there were no open patio seats. Headed back to Montara, for what turned out to be a mediocre plate of fish and chips. I then checked into the hostel. A little slice of heaven. Mileage total for the day, just 16.


It is still a functioning lighthouse, and the hostel part is where the keeper used to live. If you've never done the hostel thing, I will highly recommend it. Most have just about everything you'd want, except privacy. But, that's the draw for many. This is a view from the self-catering kitchen. Nothing to sneeze at there.


The picture above was taken in the morning. The one below was taken at the other end of the day, as the sun sunk below the horizon. The quiet was stunning.


The next morning was about coffee, and an early start in search of breakfast. I made two new friends here. One was heading north, the other was going the same way as me, with the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel next, some 30 miles away. We didn't ride together, though, preferring to go solo.


I stopped in Half Moon Bay, for another cup of coffee, and a cherry danish. Could not have been better. Then it was back to Highway 1, but with a short stopover in the parking lot of a British pub called Cameron's. This place is packed with just the kind of stuff I love to take pictures of.



A London black cab...
...and a couple of old double decker buses...


From here on out it was all about the ride...and artichoke garlic bread. No, really. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse's address is Pescadero...but it's actually about four or five miles outside of the little coastal town. There's not much to see or do in Pescadero, however, cyclists, motorcyclists, and drivers alike all make the trek here anyway...for the aforementioned bread. It's freshly baked all day long and is packed with quartered artichoke hearts and garlic. If you time it just right you can grab a loaf straight out of the oven, take it to the picnic area round back, and just shove it into your mouth! Unreal...but real. When I arrived my new friend from the night before was already there, stuffed..and happy. After I had mine, I bought all the fixin's for a big pasta meal at Pigeon Point, and headed out.

Arrived at the hostel about an hour before check in time, but did not add more miles today. Thirty-four miles down the stunning California coast seemed like just enough.

This hostel even has an ocean-front hot tub, which I took advantage of, after a bang-up meal of spaghetti and more bread. The next day's ride would be about the same as this day's, a little more than 30, with more than enough challenging climbs and declines for relief.


Said goodbye to Pigeon Point at about 8am, after finally getting a decent cup of coffee, but nothing to eat. I was looking for breakfast somewhere, but not really wanting to stop for a sit-down meal. Chose a basket of organic strawberries instead, at a roadside produce stand, as the clouds burned away and bright blue skies opened up. With only 11 miles to go, I was looking forward to the ride being over, but sad that it was over so soon. I hadn't done any sort of touring since my last trip to England to ride the End to End...that ended with me throwing in the towel because both hands went numb. This ride reminded me that I actually love doing this...and I'm so looking forward now to next year's return to finish the E2E...and training for it between now and then.


One of the bonuses from this sort of activity is the refreshing payoffs that are available. I finally got my beer, after three days of riding. Actually had a couple of IPA's at the Surfrider in Santa Cruz, while waiting for my Amtrak connection to home.


But that's not all. I really did have a Skippy burger. It's a burger with Monterey Jack, bacon AND peanut butter. And it is good!! Really.


Gotta ride!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

HERE'S THE DEAL

In a recent previous post I conceded that, after more than a year of unsuccessful searching, I found a bit of my running mojo during the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco earlier this month. Despite the attempts by the race organizers to wring all the fun out of the often-bawdy event, those who took part refused to give in, and partied from sunny start to rainy finish.

Since then I have been looking for some half marathons and even a full mary to sign up for. I do best when I have goal to shoot for that's been paid for..but, holy moley, people, who can afford this stuff anymore?

As you may know, I am planning a big bike trip in the UK next year to celebrate 60 years on the planet (at least in my current incarnation?!). That journey is going to take about a month, during which I will not be working. I don't get vacation time. So, you do the math. I have to sock away over a month's worth of regular living expenses to keep the home fires stoked and burning AND another month's worth of trip funds (beer? fish and chips? hostel beds?). In other words, I have very little discretionary cash now, and don't anticipate that changing anytime soon. Unlike Washington, I can not just raise my debt ceiling and keep spending.

So, imagine my surprise, when tooling around on the web thing, I discovered many footrace organizers are, IMHO, being a bit goofy in what they think their events are worth. Up front I will admit, no one's being forced to enter these races...but I just wonder if they'd raise more money for their causes if they lowered the fees to "affordable" so more folks could sign up?

Some examples. My first thought was the Santa Rosa Half Marathon. It's close by, and I love the city. I have friends there who have already agreed to pay for post-race brews. But...it's $75-90...for a half, depending on when one enters. You think that's bad? The San Francisco Half, which is even closer to my house, is $105!!! The full 26 is $150! But wait! December's Honolulu Marathon...$155 to 260!!!!!!!! And that does NOT include a hotel room! Or even an umbrella drink or two. WTF? I could use that $260 to pay for about a week's lodging during my cycling adventure...or a week's worth of post-ride English ales!

I had all but given up finding a race I could commit to...until yesterday morning when I was greeted by an email message from the kind folks at Living Social. Ha! Half price entry into the new Nor Cal Half Marathon and Marathon in September in San Jose. $30 for the half, $40 for the full. Now we're talking. I did not hesitate. I bought. Now, I'm in. Looking forward to the race...and not feeling ripped off.

In an effort to pay forward my good fortune I told some running buddies about the deal...and some of them have signed up, as well. I guess that's the social part of Living Social.

The goal now is to drop ten pounds before race day. Race day weight goal...178.

Gotta run!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

WICKED SICK RIDE

Today's bike ride was inspired by President Obama. (Not him above!)

I got up in time to watch The Man address the British Parliament in Westminster Hall, his appearance there an historic event in and of itself. And...he nailed it. How anyone can find anything wrong with this guy at times like these I just do not know!

Anyway, in that speech he mentioned the Magna Carta, reminding me that it's currently on display at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco's Lincoln Park. Despite predictions of rain, I put one and one together, pulled out my dusty Burley rain gear, and set off on my bike, thoroughly expecting a quick ten-miler, then home. (To think I put my rain suit up on eBay when I lost my job last year. Thanks to all you bidders who thought my reserve was just too high.)

The ride there was wet, although nothing like the rain I expect to battle through during next year's E2E ride in the UK, for which I am in training. What I had forgotten, from the handful of times I've been to this museum before, was the nasty-ass hill it crowns. It was just one of number of climbs I had to do, into the wind and rain. I will admit...they were all fun...once I topped them. Fond memories of climbing Hartside Hill and Black Hill in England in 2000, when I rode the Sea to Sea. Not so fond remembrances of 20 mile, 10 hour days on the bike in 2003, the last time I tried the End to End!

Checking out the precious document was amazing. It's the second time I've seen it. The first time was for free in the British Museum in London, where I also saw lyrics handwritten by Beatles Lennon and McCartney, music scores from Classical masters...and so much, much more. I've seen some cool shit in my time, including Vikki Carr AND Tom Jones. (hehe) Today I saw more coolness...just by going on a bike ride.

Not only did I see the document without which the US Constitution might have been very different, but I saw artworks by El Greco, Rodin (Thinker, pictured above), Cezanne, Rembrandt, Monet, van Gogh and Renoir...all right here atop a bitch of a hill, for just $10. I spent two hours in the museum...just enough time to completely dry off, before heading back out into the rain. I did, however, take a few moments to give in to a stunning female visitor to our shores from Brazil who asked me to take a picture of her in front of a wall-sized oil painting. I only said "yes"...in the interest of global harmony. You see. Obama got to me, talking all flowery, and democracy-like. Come to think of it, my friend Joe recently told me it's important to have a beautiful Brazilian as a friend....you never know when you'll find yourself alone...in Rio.

I left the museum just as the skies opened up again...but hit the road, regardless. My goal was 7th and Folsom streets where, according to its Twitter feed, a certain beef-centric food truck was supposed to be serving up hot meaty goodness from noon to 3pm. Got there at 1:30. No truck. Oh, well. I settled for a slice of pizza, and then headed for home, chalking up a brilliant 20 miler.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Gotta ride. Gotta run.






Sunday, 15 May 2011

EATING MY HAT

Alright. I'll admit it. When I woke up this morning at 4, I was hoping to hear the sound of pounding rain outside my window. I was not jazzed about running another Bay to Breakers. I have not been jazzed about running much of anything for a while. Had the weather "experts" been right about what to expect this morning, I would have gotten my wish, and stayed home and watched the B2B on TV. They called for rain, strong winds, possible thundershowers and...can you believe this...HAIL! It rained before the race...and drizzled a teensy bit while I was running through Golden Gate Park...but that was IT!

Got into the City at about 6:30 for a 7am start. Found a sweet parking spot...and headed for Corral C, where I was hoping to meet up with at least three running pals. Turned out one had bagged on the whole thing and two others were late. I started alone...unless you count the thousands of others I did not know.

This year's race has new sponsors, who, by the way, did stellar work, I must say. I was worried the new rules limiting the participants to JUST 55-thousand, banning booze, floats, and nudity would just take the magic out of it. Didn't happen. I will say I saw only one person flagrantly imbibing, tossing back some Jim Beam. She was handling it pretty well, for 7:15am. I did miss Cal's Tiki Bar, but all-in-all, I think the booze ban achieved its goal. The spirit was goofy, and fun, not out-of-control stoopid! There were many pleasant references, however, to the excess of years-past.

The course was alive with all manner of delight. These folks were powered by Tiger Blood, apparently. I passed them, Tiger Blood-less, regardless. At this point we're still in Mile 1, running west on Howard Street, heading for the hard right turn at the Chevron station on 9th. The best part of this mile for me was coming up on my good pal, Paul, and his young son, Connor. We did a quick catch-up...and then I headed off, hoping to reconnect at the end. Didn't happen.

We stay on 9th for about a quarter-mile, turn left on Hayes, travel through the good eats paradise that is Hayes Valley...and onwards to the infamous Hayes Hill. This is the only hill on the course, but it is a doozy. There's no point trying to run up it, unless you're one of the elites, who, by this time in the race, were about to win the big money about four miles west of us. The cyclone fencing I'd heard was going to be erected here, to keep runners from peeing on residents' doorsteps, was not.

Once over the Hayes Hill, it really is all flat or downhill the rest of the way. We cruised through the Panhandle, where we were were serenaded by Surivor's "Eye of the Tiger" and some disco delights, before we entered the magic kingdom that is Golden Gate Park. I love this place. And you never know who you'll run into.

Or, what! Seriously. Those are bison. In the city park. If you're from here, you don't care. If you're not...it's pretty cool, right? This is literally...where the buffalo roam.

After the bison, it's pretty much a tumble down to the Queen Wilhemina windmill, and the hard left on the Great Highway at Ocean Beach...and about a quarter mile to the Finish.

I posted a 1:29, according to my Garmin 305. It's not my fasted B2B, but not my slowest, either. I would have loved to have come in at 1:15 or 1:18...but I haven't been running for a while, so I'll take what I get, with bells on.

If you're wondering why this post is entitled as it is...it's because I really thought, I had lost my love of running. Turns out, I may not have. I learned over the past couple of days, through the excitement of those I know about this event, that the magic of running, for me, has always been about the people I've met, run with, shared wine with, shared beers with, shared burgers with, shared potato-encrusted shark steaks with, shared amazing barbeque with, shared free pasta with, shared amazing paid-for pasta with, shared English Mars bars with, shared cheddar goldfish with, shared hotel rooms with, shared early morning shuttle bus rides with, shared dreams and aspirations with...shared life. I'm eating my hat, because I was wrong about not missing all that.

By the way. If you're wondering about the whole nudity thing during this year's B2B. It has NOT gone away. If you want to see a picture of the 50-60 year old dudes who thought we wanted to see their junk, check out the post before this one. I have a shot of the same guys from this year's race. They have nothing to add. For those who wonder about the female nudes...there were, by my count, none. That is, unless you count the young lady above. I have it on good authority, there's nothing much under the tutu. I'm just saying.

Gotta run, gotta ride!

Monday, 9 May 2011

GEARING UP FOR GOOFY (?)

This is the week of Bay to Breakers, San Francisco's running street party that will reportedly be less of a party this year than in year's past, even though it's the 100th anniversary event.


The race organizers have decided this is the year they're pulling the plug on the centipede Tiki huts, human beer bongs, naked folks...and just about everything else for which this "race" is famous. I have it on good authority that fencing will be up in some neighborhoods to keep the residents sitting on their doorsteps from actually touching the runners. Truth is, the barriers will be to keep runners from peeing on said residents' doorsteps. I am not sure if actual fun will be permitted. (They'd better not ban the tortilla toss in the start area!) We'll know this time next week what came down...or didn't.


I got wind of most of the changes months and months ago. I decided then I would not take part, having run it so many times I don't recall how many times I've run it. Been there, blah, blah, blah. BUT, then I heard from a friend on the American Right Coast that she's coming to the Left Coast to tackle the 12K...so I just have to go along. Word is she's buying all the beer at the end. This might well be the first she's heard of it, but, that's life.


Yesterday, as a public service to Ms. Fool (she calls herself that....really!), I got on my bike and decided to ride the Bay to Breakers route , the first 7 miles of the route on that link, and videotape it for her. Not sure she really wants to see Hayes Hill before she gets there, but...whatever. Never mind. Turns out I needed to listen to the voices inside my head before I set off telling me to put fresh batteries in the camera. I flunked Field Video Operations 101. Took a few still photos at the beginning...checked them...they were fine. Then assumed my Minolta had enough juice to video. Oh, well.


Here's what she would have seen...had I powered up.


Howard and Spear streets...the traditional start zone. There is a Starbucks here...but I doubt we'll be able to get close on Sunday. A straight shot up Howard, to 9th Street, right at the Chevron station, up 9th to Hayes, turn left here. Relax while taking in the Hayes Valley area, known for having more than its fair share of good eats. Once you clear the trees that line both sides of about 4 blocks, it's the way-hyped Hayes Hill. Okay, it's steep. But it ain't no thang...serious. And...there are so many people, it's not like you could sprint it if you wanted to. One catches one's breath and puts one's heart back in one's chest at the top...which is Alamo Square Park. Look behind you for a stunning shot of the City skyline. (Look at those cute Victorians, all in a row. That would make a cool post card. Really!) Next, we tumble down the downside of Hayes to Divisadero, turn left for a block, then turn right onto Fell. We're basically at the east end of The Panhandle, a little finger-like thing on the edge of Golden Gate Park. This is pretty much Mile 4...and the end of any climbing at all. The next three miles are a stroll in the park. It's bigger than NYC's Central Park, is all man-made, and features bison..and Dutch windmills. When you see the windmill on your right, prepare to turn left on the Great Highway. If you don't turn here, you might end up in Hawaii. That's pretty much it.


On the way home, I ran across the high point of the day. Once again in the middle of the park, I happened upon a group giving free Lindy lessons. One participant caught my eye...and I could not not TRY to catch him on video. Put new batteries in and shot a couple minutes...only to discover some setting or other on the camera was off. The picture quality's horrid...but his spirit makes up. I am jealous of his joy. He's got it going on. I only hope there's a healthy dose of that sort of stuff during next Sunday's B2B.


Gotta run...ride??

Friday, 29 April 2011

THE SKINNY


The plan..is to get lean.

Over the past year and a half I've reinstalled about 15 of the pounds I dropped during my 12 in 12 year. Not running or riding will do that. Daily doses of red wine will do that, too. I am fixing both of those problems.

I have the Bay to Breakers to run on May 15th. Hoping for a good one, with my friends Patti and Juliette. But then I'll be saying goodbye to the running for a while, except in a very casual sense. I have recently discovered that I get excited about long rides, while dreading even short runs.

The sun has finally come out in the Bay Area, after an insanely wet, cold, dismal, windy, horrid Winter and early Spring. In celebration, two days ago I got on the bike...and headed out for the day. Rode down the San Francisco Peninsula to East Palo Alto, across the Dumbarton Bridge, into Fremont...51 miles of mostly-goodness.



I got lost a couple of times, but broke down and asked for directions. I had a couple snacks, but overall burned 6000 calories, according to my Garmin 305. I had no flat tires or any other mechanicals. Some of the scenery was stunning, some not-so-much. The traffic on El Camino Real is a real challenge, and most of the Peninsula cities don't seem to care much about making things safer for cyclists. Kudos, though, to South San Francisco, for spending upwards of $6M on the Centennial Way Park and bike path. Someone in City Hall apparently gets it.

The best part of the day, though, was when I hit a moment when I realized I wanted it to be over, but it wouldn't be for hours, and reconnected with a mindset I first experienced while on my ride across the top of England in 2000. That mindset when you just kick things into gear, realizing you're in it til the end, and you just keep going, knowing you WILL finish. I have felt that during many a marathon, as well. I just hadn't felt it in a while, and it was a good moment.

Last weekend I downloaded a calorie-counter app on my Blackberry, and started keeping track of every morsel I eat and every drop I drink. The reviews for the app were almost-unbelievably glowing. I was shocked to quickly see how each little snack, nibble and sip adds up, especially the empty calories of wine, one of my favourite things. Since then I've had none of the fruit of the vine, and I've dropped five pounds, down to 189. The goal is 175.

Time will tell.

Gotta ride!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


Perhaps you have noticed, if you've returned here on more than a couple of occasions. There's a subtle (?) theme to many of my posts. That theme, food and/or drink.

I have traveled a lot. Ireland, Eastern Europe, Spain, the UK, throughout the Western US, Canada, New York, Big Sky Country, the Eastern Seaboard, the Midwest, New England...even Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The single experience that links all those places for me...is dinner. If you name a place I've been, I can probably tell you where I ate and what I ate.

One of my fondest meal memories is from my cycling trip across the top of England in 2000, on the Sea to Sea (or C2C) route. I booked a room at the Crown and Crossed Swords in Consett, primarily because it was reasonable and had its own restaurant. I had a pizza and some cheap red wine. It was not the best pizza ever, except for the fact that I believe the best pizza ever is the one I'm having at the moment. I was the only person in the place...the entire evening. I was beat, and hungry, and in no mood to move quickly. So, I lingered. All this time, a very attractive young lady was manning the cash register area, all the while labouring over some obviously-pressing paperwork. My assumption was she was ordering for the other nights in the week when this place was "jumping." After dessert, and the wine had achieved the affects I desired, I approached to settle up. I told her she looked like she was very busy, despite the fact I was the only custom of the evening. She replied, "Not really. I just wanted to look important." Turns out she was bored beyond description. Had I not been there, she could have closed up and gone home.

I'm fairly certain I run/ride to eat, rather than the other way around. Today, though, I did it a little differently than before.

I was a tad depressed this morning, so I watched a Jamie Oliver cooking show in which he made some apparently scrumptious risottos. He was visiting Venice, and met with the so-called Italian risotto king. My interest in the day on hand was awakened and I decided today would be a risotto day. But I was NOT going to drive to the markets...I was going to ride my bike.

I took off late morning, heading for the organic Farmers Market in Oakland's Jack London Square. My goal here was to acquire asparagus and celery. That was all. After that, I headed north, to Berkeley's Berkeley Bowl West. There are only two grocery stores I enjoy more than this one. One is a massive Tesco's near London's Olympia. The other, the so-called mega-Wegs, in suburban Rochester, New York. BBW is a foodie Disneyland. Here I found the special Carnaroli rice that Jamie says is the ultimate for risotto. I then headed home, with my food stuffs stuffed into the Jandd panniers I haven't used in 8 years...the last time I attempted the End to End ride that's on next year's schedule.

The picture above is from that same ill-fated journey. I had spent a grueling day on my bike, along the stunning but insanely-challenging-for-a-cyclist Cornish coast. As I rolled, slowly, into the town of St. Agnes, in which I had no lodging reservation, I realized I was crazy-hungry, on this Sunday afternoon. The first place I came upon was the Railway Inn. It was here that I was treated to the Sunday meal of my youth. Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and three veg. YOU have never been happier than I was at that moment, sitting outside at a picnic table, with everything I ever wanted from life.

I am hoping to reap similar rewards from next year's adventure. Between now and then I am going to train for them...with meals like tonight's. More to come.

Mangia.

Gotta run...gotta ride!

Thursday, 31 March 2011

LAST WEEK...LOOKING FORWARD

It would not be entirely accurate to say last Sunday's Grey Hair bike ride in Sonoma County's Dry Creek wine region kicked my ass. But, it did highlight, in exhaustingly certain terms, just how much training I shall have to accomplish between now and next Spring's End to End journey in the UK.

The Grey Hair ride has been an annual fixture for a few years. I don't know how many. I've been invited before, but had never participated until the latest edition. The point is for a bunch of geeky-purist-type riders with requisite grey hair, if any hair at all, to meet up to show off their wool jerseys, riding britches, vintage-ish or collectible-ish road machines, and then indulge in a relaxed-pace pedal around some part of the North Bay or other. Somewhere along the way, lunches are obtained, along with perfectly-paired ales or lagers, to enhance clarity and boost stamina.

I shan't bore you with an overly-wordy narrative of what happened on the road...but am more than willing to bore you with a 7 minute "documentary" video of the proceedings. For that, as they say, "click here."

For the science and stats of the cycling portion of the Sunday event, as they say, "click here."

(A tally of calories consumed this day has been withheld!).

I will admit to being suitably bike geeky for this ride...although I have no antique wool riding togs, no collection-worthy road machine with a French or Italian name on the downtube, and no intention nor desire for same. I usually ride in baggy bike shorts and a dry-release technical running shirt, on my British racing green touring bike that's only claim to "fame" is that I designed and built it myself. It's best suited for loaded distance, not speed. As fate has determined, somewhat like myself. My bike sports mustache bars and bar-end shifters, which are not wildly popular these days in the cycling world. Upon them I stake my "geeky" street cred!

Being slow is not fashionable, but it's not a problem for me. I do it very well. If you've run or ridden with me before you will know this. However, what bugs me to no end is slowing other people down. I greatly appreciated my Grey Hair pals waiting up for me as many times as they did. Had they not, I would perhaps still be out there, floundering about, trying to find my way back to the car! But, it's on days like that that I am thankful I enjoy bike touring and marathons...as both are suitable for folks who don't mind being alone.

Having confirmed how much time I am going to need to spend on my bike over the next year, I am not so sure there will be much time for much running. I am considering canceling my plan to run another marathon this year, to free up that training time on foot for training time in-saddle. I also think the money I was going to put away for the marathon trip might be better earmarked for the trip to England, Scotland and Wales.

Life, as they say, is a fluid situation.

Gotta....ride?

Sunday, 13 March 2011

HEY! WAIT UP!


Today's run powered by GUSTER.

Decided today was the day to kick off my training for the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco. It's only eight weeks away and I have not been running. Got to get my feet ready for 7 miles in my VFFs. I've run farther than that in them before but there's a lot of downhill from the entrance to Golden Gate Park to the finish at Ocean Beach...THAT's the part that needs some preparation.

Truth be told, I have been inspired this week by running things my pals are doing, and I just can't bear being left behind anymore. For example...

My friend Bob, who lives in Tokyo, survived last week's massive earthquake. Chances are you've heard me speak of him before. Bob's in his 60s...and a damned sight more serious about his marathon running than I've ever been. If memory serves, his goal in last year's Los Angeles Marathon was 3:04. He missed that goal by fewer minutes than fingers you have on one hand. He was glad the race was over, but not pleased he'd not met his goal. He's going back next week...to just do it this time. This after getting stuck in downtown Tokyo last Friday, as train service came to an abrupt halt. Buses and taxis were apparently no option, so, what did Bob do? He walked and jogged the nine miles home. One last training session for next Sunday in LaLaLand. If I were a betting man, I'd put serious cash down on Bob doing 3:03!

Then there's Patti. We've run many miles together, training and otherwise. We've both also fallen off the running bandwagon recently and have been looking for something to rekindle the spark. She has been toying with the idea of going barefoot or VFFs for sometime. Last week she tried barefootin...and was intrigued. Rumor is she may have purchased her Vibram Five Fingers today. She's running Bay to Breakers, too.

Patti and I invited her brother, John, to go on a run with us a couple or three years ago...back when he smoked. He huffed and puffed and kept up...and then decided to get serious. My secret hope at the time was that if we got him into running marathons with us...perhaps only a little bit faster than me, which is not fast by anyone's measure, he'd be one more guy to buy beers at the end of the race. He's now PRing nearly every race he runs, and has launched his triathalon adventures. We have created a monster. John, if we ever run the same event again, the brews are on you. It's only right.

And then there's my London friend, Marty. He's recently back from running the Tokyo Marathon and setting a 3:30 PR...while battling some serious leg pain. He's one of those folks who signs up, apparently, for marathons by the dozen...in some amazing places around the world...and then runs them! I'm not sure how he does it. The name of his blog is "For the Shirt"...but I expect there's more to his running passion than collecting free logo tees. We have only met online but have a standing agreement that the next time I am in my favorite place in the world (London, duh!) we will be sharing a brew or two, and some tasty stories.

As if having runner friends in London and Tokyo is not inspiration enough, how about having a dear friend in Athens, where this whole merrython thing began? I'll take it. I'll take Joanna. Her first ever marathon was Athens last year. She and her running club, the Slow Turtles, took me on board and got me into the race that I, so sadly, did NOT get to run. But she set a brilliant pace for her first-ever, and continues to run today. Her's is a passion for running that I once had, and hope to regain, with her as a model. Today, she ran a 20K race in 1:53. She's getting faster..and still smiling that Jo smile.

Last, but surely not least, there's another online-only-so-far friend, Rachel. Ah, youth! In her case, it would appear, it is not being wasted on the young. If I remember correctly, we connected online as she was training for Santa Barbara Marathon. Apparently she found something useful in my blogging about my 12in12. I then became intrigued by her commitment and passion for going long distance. As of this writing she has either just completed or is about to finish her first ultra marathon. She, too, has an amazing smile, if the more than 2000 pictures on her Facebook page are to be believed. I am hoping she's smiling this evening...at the end of 50k.

Today's five miler, and my 25 mile bike ride last Monday, gave me a fairly impressive mileage total for the week. I am hoping to keep it going. With friends like these, how could I not.

Gotta run! Gotta ride!





Tuesday, 1 March 2011

NO LONGER ABOUT THE SOAK


As you may recall, 2010 was not the best year ever, for me, or a whole lot of people. Fortunately, the time bomb that was never did ignite, largely, I think, because my gym has a jacuzzi.

What little I did run or ride last year had more to do, I'll be honest, with my need to sit in some hot water and just forget. After visiting Budapest a few years ago I became convinced that in a former life I lived there, or Sweden, or somewhere else that has what I've heard called a "bathing" culture. If you know nothing about the baths of Budapest, check this out.

So far, 2011 has been better than 2010, by leaps and bounds. So much so that during a recent run in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood, I realized it was not about the tub. It was again about the run. It was a stellar moment. I made no proclamations about it then, because I've tired of making those announcements and then having to back off from them. I still end up in the hot tub, but it's no longer the goal. I'm good with that.

Not only have I been running more (although, still not a lot), I have also been on the bike again. With just over a year to go til my 60th birthday I have begun to seriously plan and train for my ride from John O'Groats in Scotland to Land's End in England. Here's a video put together my three guys who did the same ride, so you get some idea of what it's all about.

A few days ago I installed new the new "moustache" handlebars on the touring bike (picture above) AND a camera mount...and headed off for a 15 mile ride along the Richmond shoreline to test both out. Both get good marks. I then spent five hours yesterday learning how to use Windows Movie Maker and put together this little ditty. YouTube made me change the soundtrack (some goofy thing about copyright. I really don't think CSNY would mind if I put "Carry On" under my production...but, there you go. The original is posted on my Facebook page.) I intend to vlog much of my bike training over the next year, before I head across the pond...to do 1000 miles in 3-4 weeks. Guess I have to find a new source of useable music tracks.

Training for my "mystery marathon" has not begun in earnest yet, but it will soon. For those of you eyeing the "Just Finish" technical shirt that I'll be sending to whomever guesses where I'm going before I go, the next clue to the destination is...I have until May 28th to register at the current price of $85...after which the fee skyrockets to $90. That's all you get for now.

I am in the market for my 2nd pair of Vibram Five Fingers "barefoot shoes." I have stayed true to my commitment to not return to regular running shoes, and am very happy with that decision. I now wear my Brooks Beasts when gardening. Before I buy the new VFFs though I would love to hear from those of you who run in Nike Frees. I think they may be a good option, too, but would like personal testimonies before I make my final choice.

Gotta run, gotta ride!

Monday, 14 February 2011

GEARING UP



I have finally run far enough in my "barefoot shoes" that they're getting close to wearing through. Time for another pair.

It's a good thing, as I've been running a lot lately (compared with last year), exploring parts of San Francisco I know little about, namely the South Beach area. It's were all the cool kids live these days.

I began running in VFF's a couple of years ago now..even before the book "Born to Run" came out. I had no idea how much work it was to run in regular running shoes until I ran without them. I bought my old red Sprints, online, on sale, after trying some on in a brick-and-mortar store to determine the right size.

Recently three of my running friends have decided to give the VFF's a try. I hope they love them as much I like mine. It has made running sort of kid-like. Can't wait to get my new KSOs.

An that's not all. Just bought moustache handlebars for my touring bike. They're kind of bike geeky, but they offer a number of hand positions not available with my current drop bars. As I am about a year away from riding the End to End in the UK, doing 60-80 miles a day for about three weeks, variable hand positions are a good thing. They also have enough room for my nifty new camera mount, which means I'll get to post some yummy videos of screaming downhills and torturous ups, along with the requisite still shots of the end-of-the-day beers and other pleasures.

Other developments.

Our effort to live more simply and cheaply is bearing some fruit...actually, vegetables. Have joined a community garden project in our little town of Albany, and have our own raised bed. So far we've planted cauliflower, broccoli, peas, beans, spinach, lettuce, beets, artichokes, radishes, cabbage and brussels sprouts...and it's only about half full!

In order to put all that work to good use, we have returned to the kitchen where we used to spend a lot of time. My favourite "cuisine" is Indian, and we're doing a lot of that. The apartment very often smells of roasted cumin, which is NOT a bad thing, believe me. We're also doing lots of slow cooker recipes. Bung 'em all in the cooker, turn it on..come back in eight hours and dig in!

and...I have again begun work on my book. Late last year I started it, and had a full introduction and one chapter done. Then spent a few days at a friends cabin at Pt. Reyes, read what I had written, and quickly decided it was crap. Spent the next few months waiting for inspiration...and trying to determine my "voice" for the book. Think I've found it this time. I may post excerpts over the next few months to get your feedback. Please, be brutal.

Mystery marathon CLUE #4 - The course is marked in kilometers!





Monday, 31 January 2011

3K, 12K, 50K, OK


Today was not a run day. It was an ab crunch day. Big time.

Just decided this would be the day I did 3000 of those bad boys, for the first time ever. Knocked 'em out at the gym in about 45 minutes. Most I've done before, 2500. Not sure why or how I'm able to do these.

Early last year I did the 200 situps in 6 weeks program. I only did 32 the first day...because that's all I could manage. Worked my way up to the 200 fairly easily, and felt the added fitness helped my core strength when running. It made the up bits of hills easier to run. Didn't feel like loosing that so I kept doing the core work, although switched to ab crunches. 2000 seems to be my base now. Today's 3K didn't hurt...but my back is a little stiff. 4K next?

As for the 12K...I have paid my money for the 2011 Bay to Breakers footrace in San Francisco. Was not going to run it after hearing that the organizers are scaling it back, and trying to squeeze the goofy out of it. Goofy's what this yearly event is known for. Lots of beer, crazy floats, centipedes, far too many naked people who should not be, the tortilla toss, and upwards of 100 thousand people. They're capping participants at 50K, banning the booze and the floats, and promising to clamp down on anyone who breaks the rules. When I first heard about the changes I swore I was done with it. I've run it 8 times. But....my friend, Ms. Fool is coming all the way out to the Left Coast from the East Coast to do it...so...how could I not. My pal Patti's going to do it too. So...how could I not.

Janathon ends today. I did not stick with it. Oh, well. It did get me out the door at the beginning of the month, and reminded me of how important endorphins are to my mental health. Fended off a costly venture into anti-bummed out drugs. Thumbs up, for that. To all the Janathoners who saw it through...good on ya!

Marathon update. My mystery marathon choice remains the same. Serious training for that event will begin soon. For those of you hoping to guess where I'm going before I go...here's the next clue....it IS a Boston Qualifier...although I shall not be shooting for a BQ. That'll be the day!

Gotta run!


Thursday, 20 January 2011

YEP! THAT'S YELLOW!


I had three goals for today's big bike ride.


1. Put in some Janathon miles. (28!)
2.. Check out the new bike/pedestrian tunnel through Cal Park Hill between Larkspur and San Rafael.
3. Experience first hand the DayGlo yellow paint on the front of San Rafael's new pizza palace.


It was just one of those days in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of those days people who want to live here dream about. Those of us who do reside here don't have to dream about them. They happen a LOT! It's winter. The vibrant blue skies were nearly-cloudless. The temps were in the crisp low 60s. The early morning brought unexpected major gusts of wind, up to 50 mph in some spots, that only cleared all the fireplace smoke and roadway smudge out of the air. It would have been criminal to not have ridden.

This is a route I've ridden and run dozens of times...with the exception of the new tunnel component. I had planned on taking pictures, but those on the Marin Bicycle Coalition's website could hardly be improved upon by me. There's even a video. I must say, it is not often I am blown away by such things...but this structure is brilliant. The fact that this was accomplished here, during tough economic times, with cyclists in mind, is hard to fathom. But, I'm trying.

Once I got into downtown San Rafael, I headed straight for Pizza Orgasmica. It's a new pie place. Its owners have created quite the stir by painting it bright...and I mean, BRIGHT, yellow...with green trim (they've got some affinity for things Brazilian). Some locals love it. Others say it gives them headaches. I had to see it for myself. I will admit, it IS yellow. My wife and I (at my urging) painted our old bathroom almost the same colour. It woke me up in the mornings. City officials in San Rafael last night asked the owners to tone it down a notch. Good thing they didn't see our loo!

Downtown San Rafael was mile 22 of today's ride...and I thought I was done. Headed for The Broken Drum Brewery just up the street, called a friend to see if he could meet for a beer. He couldn't. I drank alone. One IPA. If anyone tells you they saw my eating a bowl of garlic fries...I will go to my death bed denying it!

Took the bus back across the Bay. Then rode another six miles to home. All three goals accomplished.

Now - For those of you trying to win the Just Finish technical running shirt. Here's a recap of what we've learned so far. I am running...another marathon this year...somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. It's being held in a city I've never run in before. Guesses so far are..Berlin, Detroit, and Athens. Nope! Nope! Nope!

Stay tuned for more clues.
Gotta...run?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

CHOICE MADE...CLUES ONE...AND TWO!


In my previous blog post I may have led you astray. Just wanted to clear things up. I have NOT quit Janathon...oh, my, my, no! It's been too much fun connecting with new people at home for that. I've just decided to let everyone else win!!! That's just how I am.

I did run today, for the first time in about a week. Three crazy-slow, hilly miles beginning and ending outside my gym. During my trek, in my "barefoot shoes" I was listening to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode's BBC Radio 2 film review podcast on my trusty iPod...and was left in a smidge of a nagging quandry.

Dr. K is my favourite film guy. He has an unhealthy affection for "The Exorcist"...but he also acknowledges the brilliance of my all time fave flick, "Brassed Off!." Now...he's come out liking "Blue Valentine" which I really wanted to see until my friend Dave, whose opinion I also respect, told me it was rubbish. Now what do I do? Have you seen it?

Anyway...in other news. It did not take me long, but I have chosen my 2011 marathon. If you missed the previous post, I shall reiterate. I am going to run another mary this year...but I'm not going to reveal which one...until it's over! If you want to try to guess where I'm going before anyone else, and win yourself a smart and sexy Just Finish technical running shirt, check back here for the clues. Here are the first two.

1. I have never run in this city before.

2. It's in the Northern Hemisphere.

Off you go!

Gotta run!

Monday, 17 January 2011

CONCESSION..MYSTERY..AND A GIVEAWAY


I am ready to admit it. There are very few things I can commit to doing every flippin' day.

Drinking two cups of coffee, first thing. That one you can bank on, full stop. Checking my e-mail and my Facebook page. Two other sure things. That may be about all I am able, or willing, to commit to. That leaves a lot of stuff, while attractive and inspiring in many cases, subject to not much more than whim or mood of the day.

This does not bode well for my Janathon adventure. The goal there was, seriously, to run or walk or ride everyday in January and then blog a bit about the day's achievement. My intent was pure and good. My follow through has been dismal. I am officially accepting that...and conceding. I will NOT be taking home the gold at the end of this month.

I am more than willing to go on epic bike rides between now and the end of the month, and will try to log as many miles I'm able, with that and running and walking. I could even possibly rack up more miles than anyone else, but I will not have done it according to the proper guidelines.

My best wishes go out to all the Janathon participants who are still in the hunt for glory! I will be watching, reading your blogs, and cheering you on. If there was even a chance that I might have been able to take part in the post-Janathon celebration in London in February I might have stayed true to the game...but that's not happening.

And then...there's this. In order to keep myself moving at some level of respectable pace for the better part of the rest of 2011, I am telling myself that I will run another marathon this year. However, once I've chosen it, I am going to keep it a secret. The way it's going to work is...I am going to do some research, pick a great destination race, train, FINISH...and then, just like at the end of a home-makeover show on television, there will be the big "reveal."

So, just think...one day later this year, you'll get to wake up one morning, wipe the sleep from your eyes, pour your cup of morning joe, and check the runners' blogs you check...and learn that I've done it again. Won't that be awesome for you?? Okay, maybe not. But that's how I'm doing it.

I may drop a clue every now and then...and you can try to guess where I'm going. And get this...if you're the first one to get it...BEFORE I run, I'll give you a free membership in the Just Finish group AND a brand new Just Finish running shirt. Truth told, membership in Just Finish is always free and you can (and really should) sign up now. We're a fun bunch of athletes. You could make it that much more fun! Check it out, huh? See you there.

By the way, don't guess yet. I haven't chosen my race. And...thanks to Kevin at Just Finish, for providing the awesome prize!

Gotta run!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

NOW THAT'S MORE LIKE IT







(First off I must say I absolutely HATE Blogger! I have tried three different browsers and none of them will let me put these pics where I want them. Arrgh! You'll have to connect the not-too-difficult dots. Sorry!)

NOW! After my miserable attempt at a three mile run earlier this week I was afeared that I'd aged over the last year of inactivity to the point where the damage could not be repaired. However, somehow, awoke this morning with an itchin' to get on my bike, despite the frigid temps.

After adorning myself in various weather-appropriate velo-garb, strapped on the Garmin 305, and stashed the Blackberry and a camera in the bike-bag-on-the-back, I headed out the door. I told my wife I had a couple of ideas about where I'd be going, but added that I could be gone all day...or back in 20 minutes.

Fortunately for my sense of self-esteem, it turned out to be the former. 3:08, 35 miles...1 cup of Blue Bottle Coffee...one potty stop (pictured above!)...no near-accidents...one beer and a companion sandwich...and one public transit trip home.

Destination One was the my temple of coffee, about 8 miles from my house, just off of Oakland's Chinatown. If I haven't convinced you over the past couple of years that it's the best coffee on the planet then...you're hopeless. I'm sorry.

From there it was through a part of the city known as Oakland's Riveria. It looks nothing like its European namesake, believe me. Just our little stateside way of having a bit of a lark!

Then it was across the High Street Bridge into the "island city" of Alameda. I was a good boy and followed the signed instruction to "dismount" on the bridge. Then headed to the beach side of the city where I rode until I could ride no more without answering the call of Mother Nature. She was screaming at me to find a potty. Thus, again, said picture above.

Sufficiently and completely relieved, it was over the Harbor Bay Isle bridge into another part of Alameda and then into Oakland again...this time riding along the edge of the International Airport, and past the actual airfield from which Amelia Erhart took off on her ill-fated around the world journey.

After that, it was straight down Doolittle Drive to Marina in San Leandro, a sharp right turn, and then out to the city's Marina, oddly enough, and then out onto the Bay Trail, through the amazing bayside wetlands and then down into Hayward. It was not long until I spied the downtown area, that, over the past 15 years or so has had quite a resurgence.

The last time I was at Buffalo Bills was about that long ago...and it has come a long, long way. It was the first brewpub to open in California when restrictions on such things were lifted. Back then it was reminded me of a place where ill-tempered biker gangs might meet to rumble outside. Not so much anymore. Perhaps best known for their "Alimony Ale"...there are always any number of other selections available. Good stuff.

It was 32 miles to this point. After the brewpub, it was a two block ride to BART that took me to within 3 miles of home. Rode the 3 to bring my total to 35 for the day. I'll take it. Please apply to my Janathon total! Thank you.

Gotta...run?