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.