Thursday, December 13, 2007

Birthday Boy

No, that's not me. That's my son Terry standing next to Richard Petty standing next to Terry's car. Terry's not that easy to impress; he's well traveled and has been around more than his share of celebrities and the rich and famous. But, when he and Richard Petty started comparing their cars - now THAT got him fired up.

We had a great time at the Run to Victory. But, if he's honest, I think the most fun he had was talking cars with Richard and Kyle.

So, I'm 59 years old today. Good Grief. At least I'm not in a new age group. Or maybe it would be better if I was. If I was trying to compete I'd be up against all those 55 year-old YOUNGSTERS.

I have no idea what being 59 means. I remember what I thought 59 was. I remember my grandparents when THEY were 59. I remember my parents, too. And they seemed OLD.

Maybe it's because there's still so much I want to do that I'm not ready to give in to being "old". I mean, when an icon of my generation like Dennis Hopper is out selling financial services for retirement, how can I be old? 

But, it's fair to say that I've reflected more as this birthday approached than many in the past. Something, I suppose, of knowing that this is the last 12 months of even pretending that I'm not out of what most would consider "middle-aged". I am, in fact, one of that growing number of aging baby boomers that seems to scare the poop out of the politicians. But I can guarantee you that I will not be going gracefully into my golden years. 

I'm not as young as I once was, but I am as youthful as I ever was. Life still seems to be more interesting every year. If I'm over the hill then at least I'm picking up speed.

Today I'll run some, write some, and sleep some. Why not???

Waddle on, 

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Feeling Your Heart Race

This was the weekend of the Run to Victory Half Marathon and 5 Mile run/walk, our race that benefits the Victory Junction Gang Camp, in Randleman, NC. Founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty, the camp serves children with chronic diseases. You can read more about the camp at:

Last year, with the help of very generous participants, we were able to raise $65,000. This year, with the help of Sprint as the presenting sponsor and the overwhelming generosity of the participants we were able raise over $120,000. It's an amazing place and it's our privilege to be a part of their fund-raising efforts.

At the end of the day, though, it's a race - and a JBR race - which means we want to make sure the everyone knows that we celebrate the achievements of those at the front and the accomplishments of those throughout the pack. Especially at this race, where the focus is on the challenges faced by the children and families, we make very sure that everyone knows how much their effort means.
So, from the moment that Richard Petty waves the green flag the race becomes a moving reminder of what a small group of passionate people can do, and how much they can change the lives of others by their efforts. Of all the races that I've done, and those of which I've been a part, none compares to the spirit and energy of the Run to Victory.

Finishing on the Victory Circle everyone gets a chance to see many of the buildings on the camp. If you're a NASCAR fan it's better than going to Disneyworld. That's the Hendrick Fuel Stop in the photo with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon's cars on top. Down the hill Kyle Busch's car sits on top of the Superdome. 

Kyle and Pattie, and their son Austin, spent 4 hours on the finish line greeting everyone who came across the line. And can't think of another event where finishing means so much. Everyone there knows that the money raised helps the children. The camp doesn't charge the "campers" and the dollars that the event brings in make it possible for the camp to serve many, MANY, more children. 

The work, of course, doesn't end with the race. You can still contribute to the 2007 race and beginning on January 1st you can help us meet our goal of raising $200,000 at the 2008 event.

My thanks to everyone who was there, and each of you that contributed. And I hope that you will all plan to join us on December 7, 2008 for the 3rd Annual Run to Victory.

Waddle on,

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Turkey Trotting

For the life of me I can't remember when I ran the [then Vertel's] Turkey Trot 8K here in Chicago. I can remember the car I was driving, my old - 1992 - Dodge mini van. [A piece of running history that deserved to be restored, but wasn't. It was in the back seat of that van, coming back from a 1/2 Ironman triathlon that I wrote the first "Penguin Chronicle" that included the "miracle" credo] But, I digress.

I remember that I tossed my jacket to my dad when the course looped back to the start/finish. I remember that it was VERY cold and that I had a pretty good run. No, I don't remember my time. It was faster than this year. I know that for sure.

8K, nearly 5 miles, is now a longish run for me. Since the "back" incident I've been doing lots of short runs and having fun doing them. So, lining up for an 8K was more nerve-wracking than you might expect. 

This year's race, like most year's, was COLD. COLD COLD COLD. The advantage this year was that instead of having to find a place to park and walk to the start, Jenny and I stopped by friends Sheri and Tom's apartment that's just a few blocks from the start. Standing in the apartment, looking out the window, we could see everyone gathering at the start. I did occur to me that a hot cup of coffee and watching the race from there was a better plan than leaving the warm, cozy spot and going outside. 

But, guilt - more than eagerness - got me out the door. Standing at the start I looked around to see if I knew anyone. I did, but not as many as I thought. It was a "younger" crowd. Twenty-somethings. Couples. Small groups. Social groups. Fun groups. This was clearly a holiday crowd. Out for a good time, if not a "good time". 

I met up with Vivian, a "running friend" that has helped with the Chicago Distance Classic since the very beginning of my involvement, and we agreed to stick together. I was planning on using a run 7/walk 1 strategy and my "hope" was to finish in under an hour. 

We talked, and laughed, and complained, and ran silently the way all good running friends do. As we approached the finish, seeing the 59 and change on our watches, we just smiled. We'd done it.

This was another "modern era" personal best for me. The February column will talk more about it, but I've given up on absolute PR's. But I'm ready to start thinking about some "modern era" PR's at various distances. I got my 5K MEPR [Modern Era Personal Record] in Toronto, and now have my MEPR at 8K. 

I'll look for a 10K this spring and then move to the 1/2 marathon and MAYBE a full. Stay tuned.

Waddle on,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Windy City

Just to set the record straight, the reason that Chicago is called "The Windy City" has nothing to do with weather; it has to do with politics. The politicians here talked so much, so the story goes, that Chicago was called The Windy City.

But, on today's run , which I have conveniently mapped for you, the city lived up to the name. This was the windiest run I've done in a long, long time. The curious part about running along the lakefront is that the wind comes at you from EVERY direction. Leaving the apartment I thought the wind was coming out of the north. Later it was blowing HARD from the south. And in between it was blowing even harder from the east.

The goal today was to run easy, but go a bit farther. I switched to a run 3/walk 2 interval just to keep me from going out too fast. [Please feel free to laugh at that] I actually used it because I wanted to be out there for over an hour and with the 3/2 I feel like I can run forever.

The wind made things interesting. The leaves have fallen so they were swirling around in the park. Even the geese were keeping their heads down. The run goes past both the Belmont and Diversey Marinas. As you would expect in November, most of the boats are gone. Most, but not all. There was some guy out there today trying to yank his boat out of the water.

And the fishing has begun in earnest. During the summer I think there's just too much boat traffic, even in the lagoon, for the fishing to be any good. Now, though, the die-hard "city" fishers are out at full strength. I actually saw I guy pulling something that looked like a fish out of the water. Not sure what it was - probably not Sea Bass - but he was happy.

I was introduced to my new editor at Runner's World yesterday. Introduced by email and phone. She sounds very nice and is a big fan of the column. That's ALWAYS a plus. Nearly every editor I've had over the years has done a great job. And nearly every one of them has understood the "penguin voice". It will be interesting to see what character she brings to the mix.

OK. Two blogs in one week. Maybe I can get used to this.

Waddle on, friends.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Old Dog, New Tricks

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who responded publicaly or privately to my last post. It was very encouraging to hear that YOU are out there reading. So, to coin a phrase, "The Blog's for YOU".

November is a bit of a hiatus for me. After being gone so much this fall, now is the time to get caught up. What that means is doing the kinds of routine tasks that everyone else has to do; get new glasses, get the car serviced, clean out the closet, etc. Those might not seem very exciting, but the chance to be "normal" for a few weeks is very relaxing.

Sunday, for example, I never left the apartment. I was able to sleep in - RARE for a Sunday - relax and watch an entire NASCAR race. We produce the Run to Victory for the Petty's and so I've got a personal interest in what kind of day Kyle Petty has. It's a bit complicated, but he needed to have a good finish to stay in the top 35 "owners points" so that he would be guaranteed a starting spot at next year's Daytona 500. It's worth - literally - hundreds of thousands of dollars and I'm happy to report that Kyle did it.

I'm working as much on weight management as I am hard-core training right now so I was able to do my "incline" walk on the treadmill while I watched the race. It may sound silly, but it is such a treat for me that I can hardly explain it.

I'm also trying to learn how to use some of the new technologies available to us as runners. I've written about running with an iPod and GPS on my wrists, but this mapping stuff is still a mystery. What's attached is my "4 Plus Lakefront" route. It's hard to tell, but this course runs right along the sea wall north of Belmont Harbor. Must runners - and all cyclist - stick to the path next to Lake Shore Drive. I like running closer to the water where it's less crowded.

It is kinda cool to map out the route. I think it will be really helpful when I'm on the road.

So, there we are. I BLOGGED THIS WEEK!

Thanks again for all the support. I'll see you out on the streets.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Catching up, and why I hate Blogging

I keep telling you - and myself - that I'm going to be better about this. I really mean to. But, it's a struggle. And I think I've got an idea why. You see, for the most part, I can't understand why ANYONE blogs. Most blogs - it seems to be - are either self-congratulatory puff, self-disclosuring emotional exibitionism, or political pontification designed to stir things up.

Case in point: I don't even remember they guy's name - and I probably wouldn't included it if I did - but this guy on starts into the whole runners and joggers nonsense and then mentions me BY NAME. Good grief. And, of course, the guy doesn't have his facts right, bemoans American distance running FORGETTING that Deena just broke the American women's marathon record and that - oh by the way - Ryan Hall just broke the American Olympic trials marathon record.

Anyway, it just wears me out.

THEN, a guy who I THOUGHT I admired, Martin Dugard, takes off on the whole "slow runners are destroying the marathon" nonsense on AGAIN, without having his facts straight. And THIS guy busts me by name but says he's NEVER read anything by me. Oh for Pete's SAKE.

So, I just don't get it. And I'm having a hard time wanting to clutter up the Web with MORE of what's WRONG.

THAT SAID: Since I was last here I've been to San Francisco for the Nike Women's marathon. It's a wonderful event. There's not that much more to say. If you haven't done it yet. Just Do It - to coin a phrase.

Since I wasn't running the event I had a chance to get out and do a little "exploring". I always run along the Embarcadero, but ususally run towards Fisherman's Wharf. This time, I went under the Oakland bridge and headed out that way. MUCH to my surprise I found myself running around AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. What a COOL looking park. I grew up watching baseball in Wrigley Field and like smaller ball parks.

The photo is where kayakers sit and wait for home run balls to come out of the park. Only in San Francisco.

Then it was off to the Marine Corps Marathon. For reasons that are STILL unclear to me, I decided to ride my motorcycle to Washington, DC. I knew I was going to spend a week with my son and his family, and then head to Randleman, NC to meet with the folks at the Victory Junction Gang Camp. SOMEHOW, I thought riding would be a good idea. I'd forgotten just how COLD it gets in late October and early November.

The grandkids - Ray, Hunter, and Siena - got a kick out of sitting on the bike. It reminded me of what my son's mom once told me - that Terry didn't need a bad influence in his life - he had ME. I don't know that I'm a bad influence, I'm just trying to be who I am and let the chips fall where they fall.

And, of course, I was there for Halloween. What a hoot. MAYBE the kids understand what's going on, but I doubt it. I think it's the parents having most of the fun. Hunter had his chicken suit on which, when you pressed a button, actually PLAYED the "Chicken Dance". We must have had him do the dance 50 times. It was great.

I'm home for a few weeks, so I WILL Blog again NO LATER THAN Tuesday.

Waddle on,

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Way to San Jose

Today was the 2nd Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in San Jose. What a fantastic race. There's no question that the Elite Racing musical marathon and half marathon series has raised the bar for every other event and San Jose is quickly becoming one of their gold standard races. Everything was here; great elite field, wonderful weather, and the kind of signature experience that makes everyone feel good.

Lately I've been getting to do some announcing at a few races. Guess the organizers finally figured out that I can run my mouth faster than I can run my feet. It's great fun for me and gives me a chance to see all of the runners and walkers at least twice. This race was even more special because it was the final event for the 2007 Rock Stars; those folks who have run AT LEAST a half marathon at the 5 musical marathons and half marathons. So, they've finished in Arizona, Nashville, San Diego [marathon ONLY] Virginia Beach, Philadelphia, and San Jose. A fantastic accomplishment for a normal human being.

At the sharp end on the men's side, McDonald Ondara won it in 1:01:11, John Yuda came in 2nd with a 1:01:13, and Hillary Kipchumba finished 3rd with a 1:01:32. One the women's side, it was Magdalene Makunzi in 1:09:58, Megumi Oshima in 1:11:14, and Everlyne Lagat in 3rd with a 1:11:35. Everylne, by the way, is the wife of Daniel Cheruiyot who has won ALL of the JBR half marathons. Talk about a family with talent! WOW.

If you're looking for a wonderful fall half marathon you need to look no further than San Jose.

This is a short turnaround week as I get back tomorrow and head back out west for the Nike Women's event next weekend.

I'll see you on the streets.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mr. October

Hey, how about this? I'm actually Blogging on Thursday. That's because my flight to San Jose isn't until early this evening.

There's still a lot of discussion about the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon last Sunday. The images are not very flattering. And, from my perspective, neither is the obvious decision to "deny, deny, deny." We had much smaller issues at the Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon [owned by John Bingham Racing] this summer and our reaction was to step up, admit what went wrong, and promise to do a better job. I think a large measure of humility would serve everyone well right now.

From early June until last weekend the lakefront running path has been filled with folks training for the marathon. On weekends it was almost silly with thousands of runners and walkers decked out in their "team" singlets running north and south, criss-crossing each other at the water fountains and intersections.

Now, the path is nearly empty. I've had the path nearly to myself this week. Yesterday, the day that Fall finally arrived and the temperature dropped, I only encountered a handful of other runners. While I'm happy to have the space and solitude, there's also a certain sadness to it.

The marinas are starting to empty out. My "anchor" sailboat Redfeather has been put away for the winter. [Redfeather is in the Belmont Harbor at the start and end of my runs. I know when I see her again that my run is almost over] I don't OWN Redfeather, but it has become my favorite boat and her being gone means that the Summer is over.

And I think, as you get older, the end of every Summer starts to mean a little more and I think you feel the loss a little more deeply. When I was younger I thought I'd have all the Summers I'd ever want. Now, I'm not so sure.

What helps is running. Running and walking, really. Getting out there along MY lakefront, looking at MY city, moving MY body is all I can do. Most days it's plenty. Other days, there aren't enough miles to make the feelings go away.

Off to San Jose.

Waddle on, friends.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

I'll get to the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in just a bit. But first: I flew to Phoenix last Wednesday for the SRP [Salt River Project] kickoff to the training for the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon in January. When I stepped off the plane it was about 95 degrees. I know, it's a dry heat! But still, that's HOT!

The kickoff run is along one of the canals that help supply electricty to the city of Phoenix. I'm not a techo-guy, so I don't understand what it is that they do, but it works.

This year's RnR Arizona is going to be the biggest EVER with over 35,000 participants expected.

Unless you've been in a cave you know that yesterday's LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon was nothing short of a nightmare. The record-breaking heat and humidity turned the race into a dangerous situation for everyone involved.

All of us who put on events worry about the doomsday scenario. We all do our best to look at best-case, worst-case, and doomsday possibilities. I think that yesterday's race was beyond anyone's imagination.

My own explanation is that it was a bit like the Katrina disaster. Yes, the organizers knew that the weather would be a factor. Yes, the organizers did make some accomodations. Yes, they did have more water and Gatorade than normal. But, then things just started going from bad to worse.

I spent all day on the course at various locations. By an hour into the race it was clear that there was trouble. Participants were already complaining that there weren't fluids available to them. By the time I moved from mile 8 to mile 14 the situation had deteriorated to the point where volunteers were filling empty water jugs in restaurant bathrooms just to try to give the runners some relief.

By the time the race was "called" and the clocks stops, many of the participants were already in trouble. We diverted those that hadn't passed the 17 mile mark directly back to the start/finish area. At that point I went to mile 25 1/2 to try to help with those folks who had somehow managed to finish.

A couple of thoughts. One, I was extremely pleased and proud of the reaction the Chicago Police, Fire, Emergency Medical, and Transit Authority. With very little guidance, in a circumstance that one officer described as "pandimonium", they worked together to find ways to help the participants. They opened hydrants, cared for downed runners, kept the traffic a bay, brought in extra buses, and more. It was fantastic.

Second, although the event organizers will certainly have to take some responsibility, this truly was one of those situations that is so far beyond anyone's imagination that I'm not sure what more could have been done.

I'm off to San Jose on Thursday [sing along: do you know that way to San Jose?] I'll be back with you from there.

Waddle on,


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Riding and Racing


I know. Blog on Monday and Thursday. Today is Tuesday. I'm sort of splitting the difference.

Jenny and I spent the past weekend going to and from Toronto for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. We've been involved in this race for a number of years and have been really pleased to watch it evolve into on of Canada's premier events. Alan Brookes, race director [pictured] has done a fantastic job of making this race special. This year he got a jewel in his crown with the setting of the Canadian marathon record. It's been 31 years - since the 1976 Montreal Olympics - since anyone has broken the record. I was lucky enough to be on the announcer's stand watching it all unfold on the giant screen TV. It was FANTASTIC.

I also ran the 5K myself and set a "modern era" personal record. 32:10. Well off the world - or even Canadian - record but it felt good. I didn't plan to go for broke but it was a nice day, I've been running very consistently at shorter distances, and thought - WHY NOT?

Since the course was marked in kilometers I thought I'd try to run to the K markers. I set my watch for 7/1 thinking I would see how it went. And, I'm pleased to say, it went GREAT.

It was fun to "race" a little. Fun to mix it up some, chase down some people, keep an eye on my time.

We combined a bit of pleasure with the work and rode our bikes to Toronto. It's Fall here in the midwest and it won't be too long before the bikes get put on the battery chargers for the Winter. The leaves were just beginning to turn and the ride was everything we could have hoped for. Until yesterday.

Then, the skies opened up. We tried to wait out the rain and actually started out in dry conditions but it wasn't long before we were getting pounded on. On a motorcycle, the best you can do in the rain is stay are dry as you can as long as you can. Nothing will keep you completely dry for more than an hour or so.

Today is "catch up" day and then it's off to Phoenix tomorrow. I'll try to get some photos from there. Then, back to Chicago on Friday for the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon.

Waddle on,


Monday, September 24, 2007

Last Days of Summer

You couldn't tell from today's weather, but summer is over, fall is here, and winter isn't that far off. Living in a city like Chicago and running mostly along the lakefront there are some seasonal cues that are as accurate as turning leaves. For me, living near both the Belmont and Diversey Harbors, the first sign of fall is the boats being taken out of the water. Little by little, one by one, the owners pack them up and take them somewhere to spend the winter safe.

People who only know Chicago from what they've seen in movies sometimes don't know what a great recreational area the lakefront is. There is a running/cycling path that goes for 18 miles ONE WAY. I live up on the north side [think Cubs] so the view I see is looking south to the city. I see the John Hancock building standing guard over my side of the city.

Seeing the lake, season after season, I've come to appreciate how alive it really is. It's got a personality that is as unique and as obvious as anyones. The lake can smile and be welcoming. It can be angry. It can invite you in and warn you to stay out. This time of year the lake is recovering from a summer of fun.

Yesterday I ran along the lakefront. Today I walked. I walked because there were things I needed to think about and walking helps me keep my thoughts in motion. Running is distracting, but in a different way. I get caught up in my running. I start listening to my breathing, feeling my heart beat, sensing my feet hitting the ground.

Walking allows me to put my body on autopilot. Even with no athletic talent I'm still pretty good and remembering to alternate feet!

Today's the kind of day when I'm grateful that I became active. Today's the kind of day that makes all the other days worth it.

Waddle on,


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Playing Hookie

Fat Albert; my bike. Ruby; Jenny's bike. And Coach Jenny.

You might think that working as a writer and speaker, and owning a small business means that your time is your own. No boss. No timecards. No schedule. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong.

The great part of what I do is that I can do it from almost anywhere, anytime. The hard part is that I end up doing it almost everywhere almost all the time. I'm not complaning, just explaining why taking yesterday OFF was such a treat.

With the summer coming to an end, and the fall marathon season getting ready to fire up, time for riding motorcycles is slipping away. Sadly, here in Chicago, we don't really have a 12 month riding season so I know that sooner or later I'll have to put the bike away, put the battery on a charger, and wait for the first sign of spring.

So yesterday morning, at about 4:30 AM, Jenny and I backed the bikes out of the garage and headed for Door County, Wisconsin. Why Door County? I have no idea. I've heard people talk about it and, at the time, it sounded like a good idea.

The weather changed from warm to cool to COLD to warm to HOT and back. By the time we pulled back into the garage, at 8:30 last night, we'd ridden over 400 miles and were tired but VERY satisfied. And the laptop stayed home on the desk.

What's this got to do with running? Not much, maybe, except that the joy in life for me comes in the balance of things that I have to do with the things that I want to do. There's no physical benefit in spending a day on a motorcycle, but the emotional benefits make it more than worth it.

Today, I'll get out and run.

Waddle on,


Monday, September 17, 2007

A Rocky weekend

WC Fields is supposed to have said: "All in all I'd rather be in Philadelphia" I don't know the context, but I'm sure that he would have said it about this past weekend.

I was in "Philly" for Elite Racing's Philadelphia Distance Run half marathon. They've only put on the race for 3 years, but this was the 30th running of the event. It starts and finishes near the base of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museam, made famous by Rocky Balboa's run up to the top.

Saturday morning I took a run down to the river, past the museum. It occurred to me to run up the steps, but I came to my senses.

Sunday, race day, was one of those rare, stunning early fall days. It was cool in the morning with clear skies and bright sunshine. I was doing the announcing [they've figured out that I run my mouth better than I run my feet] and it was all I could do not to jump in and run. It was wonderful.

Being an "old school" race there were more hammer-heads than at your typical Elite Racing "destination" event, like the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego. But, it was a great party and I'm sure everyone there had a good time.

Back at it today, trying to get caught up on emails, bills, laundry and all the other "normal" things in life. I had a chance to get in a nice, semi-easy 60 minute run along the "Waveland" lakefront area. It felt good to have no pressure at all and just be able to run for an entire hour. [I used a R4/W2 interval]

I'm home for about 10 days. A long stretch this time of year. I'm hoping to get in a "day ride" on the motorcycle before the weather turns.

Waddle on,


Friday, September 14, 2007

Day Late, Dollar Short

OK, I know. I promised I'd Blog on Mondays and Thursdays, and this is Friday. But, I've got a good reason. Honest.

I sat down to Blog last night, then decided I'd go ahead and check in for my flight to Philadelphia today. It was about 8:15 PM and I couldn't check in because it was more than 24 hours before the flight. WHAT?!? The flight was supposed to leave at 8:45 AM. Or, that's what I THOUGHT.

I had booked a flight that left Chicago at 8:45 PM that got me to Philadelphia about midnight. MIDNIGHT. What a DOPE. Of course, it's an example of having the best staff I can afford - that woud be ME - and I'm not that good. So, I'm on the phone with the nice people at American Airlines, and just as we're getting things all set for a 6:40 AM flight, the call is dropped. OH NO! A quick call back, we got it taken care of, and that was that.

BUT, it meant getting up at 3 in the morning. So, sorry, no Blog last night.

I'm in Philly for the Philadelphia Distance Run, one of the newer Elite Racing events. This is the event's 30th year, so it's not your typical Elite-styled Rock 'n' Roll event, but it's got all the markings of an Elite Race. A good thing.

I'm looking forward to running along the river tomorrow morning. I've been told it's like running in Boston next to the Charles River. I may be been to Philadelphia before, but I don't remember.

Got in a great trail run yesteray in the 100 acre woods. I've gotten to where I REALLY like running out there. Actually, running isn't quite right. I like BEING out there, so I run some, walk some, and just feel good about being there a LOT.

But, it's also been a week with some sadness. The Argentinian member of the Antarctica crew died suddenly. Gus - on the far left - was the true heart, soul, and spirit of the trip and it's hard to imagine what it's going to be like without him. I love Antarctica, in part I think because I loved Gus - or at least being with him. It's a sadness that will not go away easily.

It's race weekend. Clinics tomorrow, then announcing on Sunday. And a Blog on Monday. HONEST!

Waddle on,


Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday, Monday

I got back home late Saturday night after two solid weeks on the road. A visit with my son, his wife and the grandkids, down to VA Beach for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, over the Randleman, NC for a meeting with the great folks at the Victory Junction Gang Camp about the Run to Victory event this December, and the finally to Columbus, Ohio for a meeting with the Mayor and a day at the Honda Family Festival.

It's been a while since I was gone for that many days in a row. Back in 1997 I was on the road for 4 weeks. In 1998 it was closer to 8 weeks, and in 1999 it was 26 weeks with just a few days in between the East Coast and West Coast parts of the tour. I'd forgotten how hard it is to be away for that long. I was also amazed at how much easier it was to be in the car with a cell phone and Blackberry [not while driving]. When I'd stop for lunch I was able to catch up some. A far cry from tring to find the local dial-up number on AOL so I could check my email.

The good news is that I was able to maintain a fairly regular running schedule. Some days I wasn't able to get in as much I was wanted/needed, but I was always able to get in a BTN [Better Than Nothing] workout.

I'm beginning to feel the need for a goal. Not a LONG term goal, but something to keep me focused. The "working" thought is to run the Honolulu Marathon in December. I've done it twice in the past and have had mixed experiences. It might be time to take another shot at it.

This weekend I'll be in Philadelphia with the Elite Racing folks. If you're going to be there, make sure to come by the Expo when I'm speaking at say HI.

Waddle on,


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back in the Saddle, Again

OK. I'm BACK! I was never REALLY gone, but the summer just got away from me. Blogging is a funny business for a writer. Most people think it would be easy to blog, but it's not. At least it's not for me.

So, here's my plan. I am going to blog on Monday and Thursday every week. HONEST. Monday and Thursday. AND, I'm going to try to make the blogs a bit more interactive. As you can imagine, I got tons of questions about running, motivation, events, etc. I'm going to try to answer some of those questions here.

If you HAVE a question or comment, please email me at:

When you leave a comment here, I can't always answer you directly.

So, how was my summer?? FANTASTIC. Hectic, nerve-wracking, exciting, moving; you name the emotion, I felt it this summer. You'll read the whole story in the December column, but both my mom AND dad had heart surgery over the summer. I'm happy to report that they are both doing well. We also celebrated RayRay's [my 3rd grandchild] first birthday. It's amazing how quickly time can go by.

But, I suppose the BIG news of the summer - and again, there will be more detail in the December column - is that I finally went to have MY heart checked and guess what? I have blockage in the SAME spot as my mom. GO FIGURE. So, now I'm a heart patient. I'm taking medication, I'm monitoring my food intake [sort of!] and resisting at every turn the idea that dispite ALL the running I do my heart is still not 100%.

That's about it for now. I'll be back again on Monday. In the meantime, thanks for your patience as I scuffled through the past few months.

See you on the streets.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gone, but not forgotten

I am SO sorry to be SO far behind. It's been, well, quite a time.

I'll try to fill in the blanks, but there's been:

1] seeing an old friend
2] playing with the grandkids
3] speaking at a memorial service
4] riding with the Kyle Petty Charity Ride
5] riding the legendary "Tail of the Dragon"
6] my father's bypass surgery
7] riding a GoldWing at the Honda Homecoming
8] Get from where I was to where I needed to be and back

Anyway, I'm hoping to get back to the laptop soon.

Play nice!!


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Holiday Week

It's Sunday night, the end of a long, but fantastic, holiday week. Have the 4th of July on Wednesday really means that the whole week is sort of messed up. Hard to get started on Monday because you know you're leaving early on Tuesday. [especially in Chicago where the big fireworks are on July 3rd] The Thursday it's hard to get going because Friday's coming and then it's the weekend. You get the idea.

I did managed to take the 4th off from running and spend the day out on the motorcycle. Jenny and I are leaving next weekend to join up with the Kyle Petty Charity Ride so we needed to get in some motorized training.

My running has been very consistent lately and it's paying off. I'm able to run more often and get it more miles. I'm not even thinking about pace and that makes EVERY run a fun run. I've been heading out to the 'burbs to do some more interesting trail runs. The change of scenery has helped reinvigorate my running.

Today I was back in the 100 acre wood in Willow Springs. About 5 minutes into the run I saw two beautiful young deer just standing there looking back at me. It was VERY cool.

I've got a 10 mile run coming up on Saturday, so I'll need to take it easy during the week.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I am NOT a jogger

WOW, that touched a nerve. I've never gotten so many on and offline comments. It might be that I'll need to write a column about THIS!

The truth is, yesterday, I was NOT a jogger, I was a bicyclist. I wanted to get out and do an easy spin, but ended up on a very nice hard-packed stone trail where the temptation to "get after it" was just too great.

Keep in mind, at my BEST I'm not even getting CLOSE to it, let alone getting AFTER it it, but I had fun. I led for a while, then drafted behind Jenny for a while, then cooled my jets and road like a normal person.

Today was "tempo" day. Nothing TOO impressive, just trying to maintain a somewhat higher level of effort for a shorter distance/duration. It was a near perfect day and
I was actually faster than I thought. NOT FAST. Faster than I thought.

ORN: 3.2 miles, 36 minutes, run 5/walk 1

{ORN means "Obligatory Running Note", from the original Dead Runners Society list that required every post to have some running content}

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A fine nine

I can hardly believe it myself. Yesterday I ran [OK, ran/walked] 9 miles with the Chicago Endurance Sports training team. We used a run 3/walk 2 interval and it was perfect. The run took us about 2 hours and 10 minutes.

This puts me well within range of a half marathon. Based on yesterday, I think my back is "back" to normal - which is not to say perfect, but good enough.

Part of this, I think, is that fact that I've been doing at least one "sort of" hilly trail run every week for the past 5 or 6 weeks. And that I've been doing some cycling in addition to running. Yeah, I know, it's called "cross training". But I LIKE to ride so I don't think of it as training.

Some folks have written to me about the "We are not Joggers" ad that was in Runner's World. I won't mention the manufacturer's name because that just gives them more publicity. It was, in my view, about the dumbest thing a shoe and apparel company could do. I'm sure there was a bunch of 30 year-old ad people that thought it was clever. It wasn't. It was just dumb.

As George Sheehan wrote: The difference between a runner and a jogger is the signature on a race application. If you are willing to line up at take your shot in an event, you are NOT a jogger. And, by the way, there's nothing wrong with BEING a jogger or a recreational runner/walker.

The ad was just stupid. Enough said.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Heat of the Moment

If you want to know what's keeping me busy, there's your answer. I'm out visiting my son and his family, including the three grandkids.

I'd forgotten how HOT and humid it can be in Northern Virginia in the summer. Yesterday I set out to run 5 miles, decided at 2 miles I'd turn around and only do 4, then decided a mile later that walking was the only choice I had. It was well over 90 degrees and I'm just not ready for that.

Today I knew better and only planned to run 4 miles. Turns out that a storm was coming in and for the time I was running the temperature actually dropped. The rain was in the area but not where I was - at least not until later. When the skies finally opened up it was pretty exciting.

I'm trying to keep better track of my mileage to avoid kidding myself either way. Based on the 7 day run - I did 8 on Friday, 4 on Sunday, 4 yesterday and 4 today. That puts me right at 20. I don't know that I'll get to 30 again this week. And, I'm not sure what we're running on Saturday [might be 10] so I'll need to be careful.

Friday, June 22, 2007

8 is enough

Greetings from Anchorage, Alaska. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Alaska. Not sure why, really. I've just always enjoyed my time here and throughout Alaska.

Today I had the time to get in a long run. Part of that is because of the time change - 3 hours from Chicago. So, 6 AM felt like 9 AM. Walking out of the room at 9AM here seemed late.

Because the marathon is tomorrow, and I'll be working all day, I had to get in a second "long run" this week. It's not the best idea, and not one that I recommend unless you HAVE to, but sometimes I have no choice. I did 7 last Saturday and needed to do 8 this week.

Using the "7 day rule", that is, your body doesn't know to reset itself when a new week starts, I'd run 5 times and just over 30 miles in the past "week". That's a big week for me, especially now.

My feet started to get heavy at about 6 miles. I just took my time and got in the distance.

ORN: 8 miles; run 3/walk 2. 2 hours.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Long and the Short of it

This past Saturday I was home again and had a chance to run with the Chicago Endurance Sports team. As I said, most of them are training for either the Chicago Marathon or the Distance Classic, so they are beginning to increase there long runs. Saturday, the group I was running with was schedule to go 7 miles.

I hadn't run 7 miles since last October. The last long run I had done was the same day I had the incident with the car. So, I was a little nervous lining up. It doesn't matter that I've done 45 marathons. When it's time to start going long, we're all rookies.

The bigger question was whether to go out with the Run 5/Walk 1 group or the Run 3/Walk 2 group. I went with the 5/1's last weekend when they ran 5 miles and it was fine, except my back hurt a bit. I opted for the safer choice and went with the 3/2's. They are actually my favorite group every season because they are almost always brand new to running and training and every long run is a personal best.

It took us about an hour and 40 minutes, but I got through it. It wasn't glamorous, but it's done.

Sunday I backed it up with a 5K run using a 5/1 sequence and today I did a 4 1/2 mile trail run using 4/2. The danger right now is that I'm feeling good. It's tempting to think I can go back to a normal training plan, but that would be a big mistake. I'll bicycle tomorrow and do an easy run on Wednesday.

It's time to be smart, not ambitious.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Noise Polution

And now for something completely different.

I ran in the 100 acre woods yesterday [OK, it's actually the Willow Springs Woods, but I like the sound of 100 acre woods] and the cicada were SO loud that I couldn't hear my watch beeping. There were times that it was so loud that it was painful.

The plan was to run for an hour or so in the woods to get a feel for the whole cicada phenomenon. I was expecting to hear something, but I wasn't prepared for THAT kind of noise. And that's just what it was. Noise.

I don't have any idea what the cicada are DOING, but whatever it is they make a lot of noise doing it. One managed to land on my shoe and planned, I guess, to go for a bit of a ride. I carefully took it off my shoe and sent it back to doing cicada business.

The crazy part is that as LOUD as they are for the most part you can't see them. There are the odd cicada that have apparently done all they need to do and have gone on to their great reward, leaving the empty hulk behind. But the thousand of others remain unseen. It's wild.

The run was great, except for the distration of the cicadas. Distration meaning that I wanted to spend all of my time looking for cicadas. I got in an honest 4 miles at R4/W2 in just under an hour. The trails are hilly, which is what I'm after. No pressure, just a solid run.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Group Therapy

Some of you that have been following the Blog know that this has been an tough 7 or 8 months. I was training for the Chicago Marathon last fall when I slipped and really banged up my knee. About the time I was getting over that I fell and hurt my back and ended up in the emergency room.

I've been able to run some, walk mostly, since March. And I've been doing all of my running alone.

Yesterday I ran with the Chicago Endurance Sports training group. Most of the participants are getting ready for my race, the Chicago Distance Classic, and/or the Chicago marathon. This was a cut-back week for them so they were "only" running 5 miles.

Jenny asked me to pace the 5/1 run/walk group. I haven't run/walked 5/1 since last fall, so I was a bit concerned. I was worried that my back would tighten up and I'd have to walk.

There's no overestimating the power of the group. I got in there, got talking it up with folks, listened to their stories, told a few of my stories, and just had a great time.

Before I knew it we were nearly finished. My back was sore, but not awful. It was a big emotional hurdle for me to get over.

A big thanks to everyone who helped pull me through.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Rock and Roll weekend

This is a great event. It was the 10th running of the marathon, my 10th time to be a part of the fun.

It's impossible not to engage in a little nostalgia at big milestones like this. In 1998 I was here as a part of the Runner's World pace team. The column had only been in the magazine for 2 years, I had no books published, and barely understood what I was supposed to be doing.

In 1999 my son, Terry, and I rode Suzuki motorcycles from New York City to San Diego and then ran the marathon. The 12 days on the rode together was a time that I will never forget.

2000 was my first official appearance with Team in Training.

I bumped into several old friends over the weekend, some of whom were "original" members of the Penguin Brigade. A lot has changed since 1998. There are more people in my life, but there are also people who are gone from my life. It's hard to think that there is a balance between those who have come and those that have gone, but I suppose there is.

What I know for sure is that no one could have predicted in 1998 that I would be where I am today. It's been one heck of a ride.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Write Stuff

Where does the time go??

This is the latest photo of my son and his family. Seems to say everything. Terry and Holly have their hands full keeping track of the twins, Hunter and Siena, and the little one, Ray.

It should also be clear that I'm not having much luck getting into the Blog business. Jenny's now Blogging for Runner's World online and is doing a MUCH better job than I am in keeping up.

Without getting into a therapy session, I think some of it is that because I write for a living it's more difficult for me to write as recreation. If this is supposed to be professional, then I worry that it won't be at the same level as the columms. If it's just for fun, then I can't imagine what it is that people would be interested in.

I ran in my 100 acre woods yesteday. I saw the BIGGEST turtle I have EVER seen in my LIFE. The thing was HUGE and prehistoric looking. I've decided that this was the King Turtle. Probably King of the Forest. At least, that's what I believe.

We are off to San Diego and the Rock 'n' Roll marathon this weekend. Hard to believe that this is the 10th running of the event. What a great job Elite Racing has done.

So, I'm PROMISE that I will try to Blog AT LEAST once a week. Let's start there.

Waddle on,

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Long Way Home

I'm not sure if I've said anything publically about this, but I'm "thinking" about doing a marathon later in the summer or early fall. I know that for now the best thing I can do is start getting some extra time in on my feet.

My "training plan", based solely on what I think will work and therefore not subject to the rules and regulations of legitimate training programs, is to LENGTHEN my daily runs by increasing the walking interval while decreasing the running interval. The results of which will be longer training sessions that aren't likely to get me injured.

So, if I do a 4/1, 40 minute session I run for 32 minutes. If I do a 3/2 interval for 60 minutes I run for 36 minutes. Not that much difference but I get an additional 20 minutes of training.

Hey, that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

ORN: 60 minutes and 3/2 plus 10 minute walking warm up and 10 minute walking cool down. Total time, 1 hour 20 minutes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Last Saturday I had a chance to do some real mountain biking for the first time in about 2 years. Actually, mountain biking is the wrong term. What I did was ride on some hard-packed running and horse trails in the forest preserves. No mountains, although the area used to be called Mount Forest.

Today, in an effort to do some kind of activity 6 days a week, I got out the mountain bike [which, now that I think if it, is a really dumb term. It's really just a fat-tired bike] and rode along the lakefront path. Nothing even like a hill out there.

I'm re-committing to getting in some cross-training on the days when I can't/shouldn't/don't want to run. Monday, when it got so late that I knew I couldn't get in a bona fide run, I dropped off the car with Jenny and walked the 3 miles home.

So today was just one of those kind of days. Get up. Get out. Get going. No pressure. No plan. Just move.


ORN [obligatory running note] 45 minutes of cycling on a fat-tired bike.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The times they are a changin'

Because I live in Chicago, 4 blocks from Wrigley Field, a block and a half from Lake Michigan and the lakefront path most of my runs are on that path. Today, though, I hopped on the motorcycle and rode out to Willow Springs to run in the Palos Forest Preserves, or, what i will now forever call the 100 acre woods. [If you're not a Winnie the Pooh fan, you may not know about the 100 acre woods.]

The goal was to use a run 3 minutes/walk 2 minutes plan and go for a solid hour. I ran for an hour for the first time since last fall about a week ago, and so I'm still a little nervous about trying to go that long.

It was fantastic.

I saw 5 deer as I entered the woods and thought "this is a good sign". It was peaceful, quiet, rolling, and just what I needed today. There were times when the watch "beeped" and it was time to walk and I wanted to keep running. I didn't. I'm still recovering. But, it was great to have that feeling again.

Don't know how far I ran. Don't care. I enjoyed every step today and that' all that matters.

Waddle on,

Friday, May 11, 2007

Gone, but not forgotten

No, I'm not dead in a ditch, just been busier than usual. And, as I have shared with some of you in person, even when you're a writer by profession blogging doesn't come all that easy. Or at least it doesn't for me.

I've been to Indianapolis for the Indy mini since I last blogged. It's a fantastic event and if you want to do it you should go ahead and register NOW. It closes earlier and earlier every year.

I then rode - the motorcycle - over to Columbus for our Cinco de Mayo 4 miler. That was also great fun.

We've been filming for the Reebok "Run Easy" campaign. I'll make sure to get everyone the information on that as soon as I know it.

And finally, my running has been going very, VERY well. I ran for an hour yesterday which was the longest I've run since last October.

I've got an announcement to make, but I'll have to wait for another day.

Waddle on,


Monday, April 30, 2007

Country Music Weekend

What a weekend. The Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon attracted almost 30,000 people. Amazing.

When I lived outside of Nashville I ran the old "Music City Marathon and Half Marathon" I ran the half a couple of different times. In those days, in the mid 1990's there was about 700 people in the whole and may 1,000 or so in the half. When Tim Murphy of Elite Racing talked to me about bringing a big "Rock 'n' Roll" style event to Nashville I told him he was crazy.

And in the first few years it looked like I was right. They started with ONLY a full marathon and after a strong first year saw the numbers dwindle down to less than 4,000 participants. Then they added the half marathon and the numbers soared. Two years ago there were a total of 17,000 participants in both races. This year that number was nearly doubled.

What's going on?

Hard to say, but I have a guess. People have figured out that Nashville - the city - is a FANTASTIC destination. If you stay downtown you just have to fall out of your hotel and you'll hear LIVE music played VERY well. It's fun, there's plenty of good food, and the atmosphere is "pure" country. What's not to like?

I did manage to run 3 times while I was there which is good. I took today off to recover from the drive but I'm looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I know that I am DAYS behind in posting this, but, this is a chaotic time of year. So, I apologize to those of you who have been waiting for updates.

This past weekend I was in Vienna, VA with my son and his family celebrating the "twins" 2nd birthday. It's simply amazing to me how quickly the time goes by. Even the "little guy" is nearly 8 months old and tearing around the house in his walker.

On Saturday night we had an extended family dinner and cake with the children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. I'm just grateful for all the people that love these children and are so willing to share in their joy.

I did get in some runs. One, with my son as he prepares for his Army P.T. test and a couple of hilly run/walk, walk/runs on my own. It's probably the travel but I am having more fatigue in my legs than I can ever remember. I'll be fine for a week or so and then BOOM, I've got nothing in my legs.

We're off to the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon in Nashville this weekend. It's always a fun event and a bit of a homecoming for me.

ORN: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. About 30 minutes each day. Running some, walking some.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Photo finish

You had to see it to believe it. Two runners fighting for the victory and NEITHER could get away. I've seen lots of finishes but nothing compares to this.
Daniel and Clint fought for nearly the entire race. One would surge, then the other and BOTH would respond. According to Daniel, he looked over at Clint at mile 11 and said: "I'm ready. Let's go" and off they went.
It was a great race weekend all the way around. We were able to honor the memory of Shelton Kang, the brother of long-time Penguin Brigade member Harriet Kang, by presenting the "Shelton Kang Courage Award" to the final finisher.
I managed to run twice on the treadmill at the hotel, and then did some "Hollywood" running during the Reebok web page photo shoot, but it wasn't a real quality run.
Yesterday I was able to get outside and on MY lakefront path for - I THINK - the first time in 2007. I managed a solid 30 minute run and then walked another 15-20 minutes. It was better and worse than I thought it would be. Good to be outside, but there's no hiding from what I've lost.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Babies, Babtism, and the Back

I'm out in Virginia/Washington, DC for the baptism/christening of my grandchildren. It was a very emotional service with the 3 little ones and the entire extended family including a set of GREAT grandparents.

Friday was a travel day, but I managed to get on the hotel treadmill on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday I did a "long-run" format, run 4, walk 2, and went 3 solid miles. Sunday I wasn't up for another "normal" run so I decided to try a little "speed" work. I reversed the intervals and "ran" 2 and "walked" 4. I kept increasing the pace on the runs just a little on the runs just to see how it felt.

And, I'm PLEASED to say, if felt fine. No residual pain.

I wasn't able to run today so my plan is to run when I get home tomorrow. It will be good to move after flying.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Long Run

At least for ME it was a long run. 3 miles.

There was a time when I wouldn't have even thought about running 3 miles. Beginners run three miles. But, I'm a re-beginner so I'm VERY happy.

No pain. No back pain, no knee pain, no foot pain. NO pain. We'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to know for sure, but I think it's a good sign.

I'm on the road again this weekend and I'll have to run outdoors. And, I'll have to be careful not to get excited and try to run farther than I'm ready to run.

ORN: 3 miles, R4/W2, 35 minutes

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A little movement

This is getting interesting.

I did about a 3 mile hike yesterday in a somewhat hilly area. What surprised me the most was how tired I got just walking up and down hills. I was also surprised at how tight I was.

Today, back on the treadmill, I decided to up the ante a little. I decided to go back to the run 4/walk 2 intervals that I have used in the past. I know that it means pushing the run interval up, but, hey - we're all an experiement of one.

The good news is I still stopped at 2.25 miles, so I haven't completely gone over the edge.

We'll see later today how the pain is.


ORN: 2.25 miles, 29 minutes, run 4/walk 2

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The other side

Dateline: Yakima, Washington

I've been out here all weekend at the Yakima River Canyon Marathon. It's a small - 523 participant - marathon and very different than the mega events that I usually attend.

It's also a fantastic party.

I'm here because Bob and Lenore Dolphin are the race directors. Bob, at 77 years old, completed his 400th marathon Saturday. Lenore insisted that I be here. It's that simple.

Joining Bob were members of the 50 States marathon club, the 100 marathons club, and the "Marathon Maniacs" a group of, well, marathon maniacs. These are people who are doing 20, 30 or more marathons a year. They are an amazing bunch of runners and walkers. It was the first time I ever felt that having completed 45 marathons, as I have, WASN'T much.

Back update: Better, but not well. I did a street run/walk on Friday that went OK. It was the first time I'd run outside in almost 6 weeks.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Danger Zone

This is a difficult time.

I was able to run two miles comfortably on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Same pattern, I walked 4 minutes and run for two. There wasn't any pain - or even discomfort really - while I was running, but there was some lingering soreness in my back last night and this morning.

Part of the problem was that I started watching the time. I pushed a little yesterday to see if I could get in the 2 miles in UNDER 28 minutes. Not world-class time, I understand. And I'm not a big time-centered guy. But still, I was watching the clock with just a little bit of anxiety.

Today I'm flying to Yakima, Washington for an event this weekend. I'm going to have a long flight and lots of sitting. That doesn't sound good. But, I'm going to try to get out tonight and at least walk.

Things aren't right. I know that. I need to be patient. I know that too.

But it's a struggle.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Two Minute Warning

OK, just in case someone is NOT a football [American football] fan, the 2-minute warning is given at the end of both halves of play.

I'm still on the treadmill, but I made the decision to TRY to up my running time to two minutes while keeping my walking time to 4 minutes. I was prepared [HONEST] to bag the run after one minute if I felt any discomfort, let along pain.

The first two minutes were fine. I was shocked to see where my heart-rate went to, but maybe that's to be expected. I stayed on for 30 minutes which was exactly 2 miles.

Some gentle stretching and then I'm going for another massage to see if they can break anything loose.

By the way: I hate this!

ORN: 2 miles

Friday, March 23, 2007

Easy Does it, and I'm not kidding

I've got to keep my head on straight.

Yesterday I walked on the treadmill for a mile and a quarter. But see, that's not EXACTLY true. What I did was walk for 4 minutes and then RUN for one minute. Smart? Not really.

But my theory is that the problem was caused by the nearly 30 days of INactivity and NO running and walking, so MAYBE a little running and walking will CURE the problem.

Not sound medical thinking, I know.

But, I'm going to continue to try to find something that I can do that DOESN'T make things worse.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Walking the Walk

Oh my!

First off, thanks to those of you who have written with your "Get Well" wishes. They've helped some, but we're not out of the woods yet.

I decided early on that I didn't want to "dance with the devil" on the pain pills and muscle relaxers. I took only what I absolutely had to in order to get through the day - or night. I've now decided to move off all the pills and just see where this goes.

And where it's going now is nowhere fast. The pain is more isolated but I still don't really have full use of my right leg. I'm trying to do some gentle stretching and rolling but nothing seems to be helping much.

So, today, I'm going to walk for 20 minutes on the treadmill. Not fast. Not far. I'm just going to move and see if that will help free things up.

Running again soon doesn't sound likely.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Great weekend, lousy back

We're on our way home from Tucson. This weekend was the 3rd Arizona Distance Classic, which now features the Valley of Gold Half Marathon, the Northwest Medical Center Oro Valley 5K, and the Kid's Fun Run.

The weather, while a little warm for some snow birds, was just about perfect and we had the best overall event we've had here in Tucson. We had a great mix of local, regional, and visiting runners and walkers and the blue skies and mountain vistas made for a picture perfect day.

I'm still dealing with whatever is wrong with my back. I had a deep tissue massage hoping that something might 'let go', but it didn't help all that much. The good news is that it doesn't appear to be bone or disk related, just some kind of major muscle malfunction.

So, I'm walking but not exactly normally and sitting and standing - and getting in and out of the car - is still an ordeal.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Day Four

Wow. I'm afraid I've really done something this time.

At my age - and with my absolute and total avoidance of stretching and flexibility, it's not unusual to have a bit of stiffness in the morning. But this is WAY beyond that.

It feels like something is out of place. There is some nerve involvement because there's numbness in my right leg and groin. I've got to try to get to Tucson today and hope for the best. The good news is that our race is sponsored by a hospital and if things go from bad to worse at least I'll have help close by.

This is, without question, the biggest set back I've encountered since i started running. I've had the standard IT band and sore knees, etc, but nothing as completely debilitating as this.

Running seems pretty far off at this point. Right now I'd be grateful just to be able to stand up without pain.

My big concern, and this is a very personal one, is that I not abuse the pain medication. I've got to commit to using only as much as I need for medical reasons and not start thinking about "recreational" use.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oh, my aching back

I can't believe it!

Monday I was bending over to set something down and BANG!, something snapped in my lower back. A trip to the emergency room and it looks like I've either got a ruptured disk, or slipped disk, or something.


So I am laid up, laid out, and laid down.

In trying to figure out what happened I remembered that I took a pretty nasty fall on the boat and that, combined with 27 hours of sitting on a plane, combined with just being exhausted took it's toll.

I have no idea when I'll be walking again, let alone running.

ORN: You must be kidding!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I'm baaaaaack!

My fourth trip to Argentina and Antarctica was, without question, the best. Each time I go I'm more open to the experience, less likely to chase after the excitement, and more likely to embrace the large and small moments that make the trip worthwhile.

Make no mistake, it's a lot of work, but, it's about the most satisfying thing I've ever done. There are only two sanctioned sporting events in the Antarctic, the marathon and half marathon AND the kayak championships. Being a part of the very elite operations team for these events is a unique opportunity.

I've given up trying to articulate the beauty, the animals, and the people. All I can say is that is is the most difficult 3 weeks of my year, and I can't wait to go back.

We stayed over for a few days in Ushuaia so that Jenny could run the Fin del Mundo marathon and get another continent. I think it helped to have a transition time between the ship and home. We had some FANTASTIC food, good company, and a chance to begin to recover.

Got home late Friday, ran a little on Saturday, then bent over to move something on Monday and ended up in the emergency room. Not sure whether it's a slipped disk, or ruptured disk, or WHAT, but I'm down for the count. I'm still hoping that I can get to Tucson for our event there this weeekend, but I've just got to take it a day at a time.

As our Argentinian friend, Gus, would say: It is what it is.

ORN: I did run a little on Saturday, but don't have any idea when I'll be able to run again.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Going, Going, GONE!

To say that I'm distracted is an understated. We leave tomorrow morning for Antarctica, by way of Miami, Buenos Aires, and Usuaia. I've been packing and unpacking for a week. I've put things in, taken things out, counted socks and underwear and batteries and flashlights and whistles. Yes, whistles. Fox40 whistles to be precise.

We are part of the landing crew. The marathon is run on King George Island. 6 of us get off the ship two days before the race, spend the night on the island, and then spend all day measuring, marking, and setting up the course. It's exciting, exhausting, and more fun than I can describe.

I've talked and written about Antarctica before. What draws me to it is the sense of being completely and totally at the mercy of the continent. You know what you want to do. You know when you want to do it. And you don't have any idea if you'll be able to.

One year there had been a freak snowstorm the day before we arrived. There were 8-10 foot drifts on parts of the course. We had carve out places to run. Last trip, in 2005, they were experiencing one of the wettest Summer seasons [for them] that they had ever had. The course was muddy, with giant potholes and puddles that we nearly impossible to cross.

And, of course, there was the year of the cyclone. 36 hours stuck in the middle of the Drake Passage.

Did I say that is was exciting??

So, I'll try to get to an internet site while I'm gone, but no promises. Wish us well.


ORN: Thursday, February 15. 1.25 miles. I got interupted and had to stop.
Friday, February 16, 4.25 miles, 50 minutes, R5/W1

Monday, February 12, 2007

Back on Top

New week. New opportunity.

We leave for Antarctica next Sunday. There's very few chances to run on the trip, and I think I'm already staring to back away. We will run while we're in Buenos Aires, but once we get on the ship that's it. So, there will be 8 or 9 days where I know I won't run.

So, the "plan" is to run every day this week. That's the PLAN!


ORN: 4 miles, 46 minutes, R5/W1

Sunday, February 11, 2007

0 for 4

It rarely happens, but it did this time. Between travel and commitments I missed 4 days in a row. Not good, but truly just one of those things.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Third time's the charm

Now we're getting somewhere.

It's still WAY too cold to go outside. Or at least it is for me. And having a treadmill right here in the house makes the decision all that much easier.

If you've followed this Blog for any time at all, or if you've read any of my other stuff, you may have encountered my "7 day rule". What the 7 day rule says is that your body keeps track of how often you've run on the previous 7 days. Your body doesn't reset itself to 0 just because your logbook starts a new week.

I've seen people get themselves into trouble because they only look at the mileage in their log books. Sometimes, like the past 7 days for me, the miles are stacked on either side of the weekend. I ran on Thursday and Friday, missed Saturday and Sunday, then ran on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. So, that's 20 plus miles in the past 7 days.

ORN: 4 miles even, R5/W1, 47 minutes

**For the newcomers: ORN means Obligatory Running Note, from the old Dead Runner's Society list. R = run interval. W = walk interval. R5/W1 means "run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute" and repeat.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Let it snow

Weather update: It's about 0 degrees, windy, and snowing. How do I know? I can see it through the window as I run along on the treadmill. Actually, it was kinda like running in one of those "snow balls" - I don't know what they're called - that you shake up to make it snow.

Did another 4.25 miles run/walking and a little over 1/4 mile walking at the end for a total of 4.6 miles.

This was the BEST running has felt since last fall. My pace was not world-record, but it was brisk for me, and it still felt good. I even bumped it up JUST A LITTLE towards the end of the workout.

For ME, the more often schedule is really working. I'm not thinking about running long. I MAY work up to running for an hour but not beyond. At least, not anytime soon. But, I'm running 4, 5, or 6 days a week and feeling fine.

ORN: 4.25 miles, R5/W1, 48 min., .35 miles walking to cool down.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Now that's more like it

GO BEARS! The first minute of the Super Bowl was sure fun! Oh well, I'm a life long Chicago Cubs fan, so I believe "there's always next year".

I was careful to check that the elevation was set to ZERO and set out to get in a 4.25 mile run/walk with the added 1/4 mile walk. This is the first week of the "bump", so I took it easy.

There's no getting around the fact that I am enjoying the shorter, more frequent runs. I've even found myself edging the pace up just a little to see how it feels to run "faster" than my normal pace. It's all relative and my "faster" pace is still SLOW. But, the point is that not having a marathon or half marathon on the schedule is allowing me to be more playful in my training.

My current "thinking" is that I may train for a 5K early this spring, just for something completely different, and then maybe a 10K a little later in the spring. It's where it all started for me and maybe it's time to "go back" to the beginning.

ORN: 4.25 miles, R5/W1, 48 minutes PLUS .25 walk

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Well THAT made a difference

Well, I feel even dumber now.

I got on the treadmill with the incline at 0% and guess what? I had NO problem at all. No heavy breathing. No tired legs. No sense that I had somehow gotten out of shape overnight.

What a maroon, as Bugs Bunny used to say.

I was able to stretch the session out to 4 1/2 miles which was what I was trying to do last week before I accidentaly set the incline to 4%.


ORN: 4.5 miles. 4 miles, R5/W1. 1/2 mile walking to cool down.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Not much there today


20 minutes. That's all folks. 20 minutes. And not even really a good quality 20 minutes. Guess the lack of sleep and travel and lack of sleep - did I already say that? - finally caught up with me.

Question is, do I take tomorrow off, get rest, or push through.

Stay tuned!!



As Jenny was walking past the treadmill, she noticed that the treadmill looked like it was on an incline. I had NO idea. Sure enough, when she turned the treadmill on it was set at a 4% incline. 4% INCLINE. No WONDER I couldn't run for more than 20 minutes. I was trying to run up a mountain.

WORSE, it was probably at the 4% incline LAST week when I had trouble running. I must have pushed the "4%" button when I thought I hit the "4 MPH" button.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Life's a Beach

OK, I'm not complaining.

Jenny had a group from Chicago Endurance Sports participating in the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon. Leaving Chicago to go spend the weekend in Miami, on South Beach no less, is hard to pass up.

The only downside, if there was one, was that our room was on the street and right above the bar. People KNOW how to party on South Beach and we were treated to the sounds of street musicians, cruisers, and revelers all night long. I'm getting old!

But, I was able to run or walk each day. I got in a long walk on Friday, 40 minute runs on Saturday and Sunday, and a 30 minute run/walk on Monday. So, I actually ran or walked 6 out of the past 7 days.

ORN: 1/26: 1 hour walk. 1/27 45 minutes R4/W1, 1/28, 45 minutes R4/W1, 1/29 30 minutes R4/W1.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Little Longer

As I said, I'm going to try to push my daily runs from 4 miles to 6 miles over the next few months. There's no particular reason other than I'm enjoying running more often and not having the pressure of doing LONG runs.

The way I'll start that is to do a little walking at the end of the regular workout. So, I did my "normal" 4 mile run and then added a 1/4 mile of walking. Once that feels OK, I'll try run/walking the 4.25 miles and adding 1/4 to the end.

ORN: 4.25 miler; R5/W1 [4 miles], walk .25 miles, 50 minutes total

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Searching for a routine

Back home again, trying to get into something like a routine. I'm trying to stretch my regular run out a little and will start to bump it up once I get a decent base.

The photo is of my grandson, Hunter. I had a career as a musician earlier in my life and my son is a musician. Doesn't look like the apple fell far from the tree! Anyway, that's what distracted me from my running last weekend.

I got in a solid 4 miles on the treadmill today. Nothing fancy, just a good workout on a day when it would have been easy enough to skip it.

ORN: 4 miles, 46 minutes, R5/W1

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Let it snow

Holy SMOKES, it was cold today.

It's been a funny winter for me. I've been away for lots of it and even when I was home [Chicago] is was warm. Now, out in Vienna, Virginia visiting my son and his family, I finally had to run in sub-freezing temperatures.


It's not that I've never run in the cold. In fact, I like it. I like being out on the lakefront path knowing that I'm one of few to be brave enough - or dumb enough - to run outside. I haven't really gotten my winter "wisdom" back, so I was guessing about what to wear, how many layers, etc.

But, it felt good and for that I'm grateful.

ORN: 4 miles, R5/W1, 50 minutes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Penguin; Missing in Action

Good morning,

I cannot believe that it's January 18th. The last thing I remember it was New Year's Eve and we were setting up the rented cribs for the twins.

Later that week Jenny and I headed down to Orlando for the Walt Disney World Marathon. After a short turn-around we were back in the air going to Phoenix and the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon.

And now it's now.

I have been running, but not as much as I would like. I'm having a difficult time getting into anything like a routine. When I do run, it feels fine. I'm still not going past 4 miles for now, but that's OK. I don't really have anything on the schedule.

It's now been over a year since I last ran a marathon. That's the first time I've gone that long between marathons in 10 years. Not sure what it means.

So, I am still here. And, I promise to get back on the streets and on the Blog.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

Over the river and through the woods pretty much describes the past couple of weeks of my life. Jenny and I drove to Myrtle Beach to spend Christmas with her family, I drove up to Vienna, VA to visit my son and his family, and Terry and the twins drove to Chicago to celebrate my father's 80th birthday.

I ran some. Didn't run some. Walked a little. Rested a little. Mostly, I just enjoyed the time with friends and family.

Being a runner, or being a recreational athlete, means - at this point of my life - finding the balance between obsession and sloth. For me, that's not an easy balance to find. One the one hand, I spent 40 plus years overindulging in everything I did that was unhealthy. On the other hand, I spend nearly 10 years overindulging in something that was supposed to be healthy.

It's the tendency to think that if 3 of something is good then 10 must be better. That's not always true.

So, my goal for 2007 - it's not a resolution - is to run a little bit more, eat a little bit less, and to find a way to sneak up on being 60 years old in two years.