Thursday, 31 March 2011


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 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.


Sunday, 13 March 2011


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 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 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 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


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 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!