Run & Click – Communist Warsaw


Sometimes we take for granted the wonders that surround us. Passing by them, day by day, they become part of the background scenery like so many grey cubicle walls or maybe the framed motivational poster of a mountain with a quote about “Inspiration” at the bottom. I wanted to create a social running group that could explore local treasures, running at an easy pace so that participants could both share their views of these iconic landmarks and gain new perspectives from the other runners. Along the way, we take breaks to capture to moment and catch our breath for more running and conversation. Local, Tourist, Transplant, Expat – all bring something new to the experience.


On Wednesday, August 7th, we held our first Run and Click with a local, a transplant, and an expat. The run was completed. Conversation was had. Photos were taken. Laughter and sweat were doled out in equal amounts. We had many great suggestions and lessons learned for the next event. I had already changed the name from Run & “Shoot” – Communist Warsaw, which may have scared some people into thinking we were going to be hunting Communists. Run & Click has the double meaning of a camera and when the runners “click” with the things they have in common. We’ll move the next run to a more amiable time and be more specific and consistant with out photo breaks. Also we can invite some photographers who might want to capture runners in the city, but not necessarily run themselves. Hopefully we can partner with a bar for beverages afterwards.


For our run, I used the Communist Trail map from Warsaw In Your Pocket, however we ran the trail in reverse and started at a classic piece of Communist era architechture – Warsaw Centralna. Hailed as a masterpiece of Polish modernism, the building was rushed through construction to be a showpiece for a 1975 visit from Leonid Brezhnev. We circled around the building, ran along the backside of Zloty Terasy, and ran directly into a great view of the Palace of Culture (PoC) highlighted by the setting sun. Our first stop was by the fountain on the northside of the PoC where we tried some running photos, but the runners were too fast and my camera was too slow!


After our break, we ran along the East Wall and down into the area of the Centrum Metro they call “The Frying Pan”. Construction in the parking lot area and around the Rotunda prohibited clear photography but it’s still interesting to see how the older buildings have been adapted to modern businesses.


After navigating the underground passages and coming back up into the light, we continued to run along Marzalkowska St. with its wide variety of architecture until we got to the grand square of Plac Konstytucji. Custom designed for state parades, there was no tickertape descending from the windows as we paused to capture the worker reliefs, the dramatic columns and corridors and giant trident street lamps.


At Plac Zwbawiciela we took a sharp left on Mokowtowska headed to monolithic government buildings on Krucza, passing by classic “milk bars” and newer restaurants occupied by hipsters. The streets and the sidewalks were tighter forcing more communication among the runners while dealing with pedestrians.


A final turn on Nowogrodzka allowed us to run by The Free Speech Monument in front of the former Department of Censorship, a very dramatic sculpture that takes up most of the plaza.  The end of that street empties out onto a view of the Central Committee  of the Polish United Workers and it’s imposing architecture, now decorated by branding signs and chic glass encased bars and eateries, some nice venues to sit back and have a cold drink after the run.


Stopping short of Nowy Swiat, we discussed the next run being either a Royal Run visiting some of the old royalty landmarks or a Warsaw Uprising Run. We will repeat the Communist Run on one of the weekends this fall. Let us know which run you would be most interested in!



And The Winners Are…


It is with great pleasure that I can now share this earth shattering news.  I am one of this year’s Salming Ambassadors. This was, by no means an easy feat, and despite the support and help of so many of my friends, family, and colleagues the end result was not guaranteed.  In fact, in the final three days, I went from first place by a hair to second place with Mr. Andrey gaining a phenomenal 350 votes in final voting!  I obviously have a lot to learn from my fellow teammates on how to reach out in the electronic world.  I am fortunate that Salming extended the ambassadorship to others on the leader board who they felt would best represent their brand. Congratulations to all the athletes who entered the contest and made an effort to promote such a phenomenal company.

There are so many people to thank for this opportunity. Firstly, I truly appreciate the way Salming Running North America put this contest together and managed the voting process.  This is an amazing position within their company that they left up to the general public to decide and I appreciate their trust and discretion.  Certainly, I appreciate their support as I finish my quest of 50 marathon routes in 50 states in 50 weeks.  Secondly, I’d like to thank everyone who voted knowing that this is an important step in my future plans in the running world and industry.  Aside from supporting a company I believe really has the best interest of runners at heart, I can hopefully learn more about the industry and how they research, design, and market the footwear that carries us forward on our fleet footed quests. Thirdly, I would like to thank those who went the extra mile to garner me votes.  People reposted my contest link on their Facebook Wall. They harangued husbands, wives, significant others, family, coworkers, and even clients. They regularly asked if there was anything more that could be done to earn extra votes.  I would not have been in a top position if it wasn’t for your very vocal support. Lastly, I would like to thank the folks who didn’t vote, yet also didn’t unfollow me despite my constant pleas for help.  I understand.  It’s against your religion or the email verification process made you nervous, or you don’t believe in contests that appeal to a democratic process.  Despite this, you continued to check in on a daily basis and support me in a myriad of other ways and for that I thank you.

For those of you interested in trying Salming for themselves please either contact me directly, on Facebook, or in the comments below for a 20% off discount code I can offer to friends and family.  I have worn their Miles shoe and it is the most comfortable running shoe I have worn in a while.  I will be getting the newest versions of their most popular running shoes and you can expect detailed reports on the quality and experience that each shoe provides.



Marathon Route 18: Tacoma Marathon – Tacoma, Washington

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I love when people get creative with their race signs. Power up buttons, political references, offers of high fives, anti Christopher Walken signs (even though you have a 1 in 3 chance of seeing me “Walken”, please keep in mind, the man is a national treasure), sexually explicit signs, funny punny signs, signs that support mothers and sons and sisters and loved ones who are not me – I love them all. More importantly I love the people who carry them. Even if you don’t have a sign, standing on the side of a course and offering your support to runners is an amazing act of compassion. I was blessed to not only receive these random acts of kindness from random strangers like sticking my ego in a cardboard glory hole, but I was also supported at the Tacoma City Marathon by local friends of 15 years and by a special friend who flew all the way across the country bearing race signs designed by loved ones from back home. Add to that a number of runners I had met at other races and online, cheering and motivating me along the course. Truly, I floated through some of this city, buoyed by the support of loved ones, even if some of the spectators were loved for a moment, a glance, or a high five.

I did need all that support. The Tacoma City Marathon is filled with rolling hills – not super steep hills, not hills that endlessly climb towards the heavens, but consistent, up and down, 15 knot winds in a row boat, getting slightly seasick, hills. I feel an special need to point this out because the friend who recommended it to me described it as flat. I am here to tell you this course is not flat. Maybe they were recommending one of the 4 other marathons that take place in the area or they were being facetious and I missed the sarcastic font they used. In any case, I want to be clear and explicit – make sure you don’t skip hill training in the weeks before this race. You will regret it.

Course Review
Nestled between two beautiful National Parks, Tacoma has some beautiful water views and rising mountains to the east and west, great spring time foliage and an ornate downtown. Fortunately a small part of the end of the race takes place on a flat strip leading to a quick, steep, curve before finishing behind the art museum, because the hills in the downtown core are daunting! The race starts at the Tacoma Narrows Airport across the water in Wallochet and gives you a light two mile warm up running back and forth in front of the small commercial landing strip before taking you down to the first major landmark of the race – the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. A good half mile downhill makes it a little easier to run and lineup your photo with Mount Ranier in the background, but just as you get over the perfect cellphone photo opportunity, you’re confronted with the longest and steepest climb of the route. Hold the memory of the bridge crossing firmly in your mind, because 5 through 14 are run through mind-numbingly boring neighborhoods. Certainly, well manicured lawns and pretty tree-lined boulevards are comfortable scenery to run in for most people, but the course bypasses a number of city parks and barely skirts the campus of the University of Puget Sound and runs along the side of the Puget Creek Natural Area. This is also where the bulk of undulating hills are as you travel from one neighborhood to the next. Finally, after a somewhat long climb with the sun bearing down on the back of your neck, the course turns into the shady lushness of Point Defiance Park. Although the hills continue through the park, the benefit of the tree cover can’t be overstated; it was a hot day and running in the park felt 10 to 15 degrees cooler. The second most dramatic climb takes place right after a beautiful view of Puget Sound from the tip of the park and a number of runners were taking an over extended photo opportunity there before climbing that hill. After one more dipity-do in the forest, you have a nice, long, half mile downhill plunge before bursting out in the sunlight. One more neighborhood loop up a slight incline (with a water stations and Portapotties at the top) before you make your way to scenic Ruston Way. Running from miles 20-25 along this gorgeous elongated waterview of Commencement Bay is definitely enough to clear your sinuses of stifling suburbia like taking a seawater Neti Pot to the nose. It was hot, but there was a light breeze blowing in from the bay, almost making it tolerable. Even on this mostly flat expanse the are two hills in the forms of bridges at miles 22 and 25. After that final bridge you run along the city’s beautiful downtown front street past a number of classically inspired museums before entering the final speed chute to the finish line.

Lessons Learned
Running Heros Are Accessible
I finally got to meet the Mayor of Runnerville, Burt Yasso at this marathon. If you have done a certain 800 meter speed training that bears his name, you shouldn’t hate this guy because of it. He is one of the most down to earth people on the planet, taking my awkward interruption at 6 am for a photo op in stride. After running his own half marathon, he went out and was cheering at mile 23 on the course – who does that? Then, not only does he cheer me at the finish line, he spends 5 minutes helping me search for the top of my water bottle (“You know those caps are $10 to replace?”). Politely but definitely, introduce yourself and your story to Burt Yasso. He is a stand up guy.
Popsicles In The Final Miles
If someone offers to support me on the course this summer, I’m not asking for Gatorade, I’m not asking for Smartwater or gels. I’m asking for popscicles. Big, frozen hard, popscicles. A random stranger was handing them out at mile 22. I love her. I really love her. Seriously, if you’ve got a number I may have already bought the ring. It has proven that it is going to be a very hot summer and I think the only way I can make it through is popsicles on the marathon course.

Physical Review
I was feeling pretty strong and on target throughout the beginning of this race. There were pacers for a wide variety of paces, and my goal was to stay ahead of the five-hour pacer. This may have been a bit aggressive considering the heat in the hills, however I was able to stay ahead of the five-hour Pacer all the way through mile 18. Unfortunately, my system started to overheat with that final tiny hill, and I staggered to the finish from there. I was encouraged by my speed and consistency through and past the first half. I did start having some issues with my right knee after mile 21, a feeling that something had popped out of joint. Fortunately, that evening I had the pleasure of have a massage from someone who was very familiar with my body’s quirks and pitfalls and I felt better enough the next day to do a little hiking up at Mt. Ranier. My finishing time was decent at 5:24:53 but a far cry from the under 5:00 finish I was shooting for. A very special thanks to Kelli Palmer for carrying signs from friends (especially Brenda MacDonald) all the way across the country, and cheering me on along the course. As well as Reyes Carranza and Joe Rixman for the big hugs and encouragement before and after the race. Tacoma will always be a special race because of you all. Thank you for reading my review and I hope you’ll join me on my next installment as I run a trail race in scenic Montana – the Two Bear Marathon in Whitefish, Montana. As always I look forward to your comments, questions, and discussions.


Marathon Route 17: Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon – Anchorage, AK

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There are still places on this planet that inspire the adventurer in us, that call to the intrepid desire to discover and explore, that push us to test our limits and test the mettle from which we are forged.  Alaska is one such place, where ice fields are surrounded by imposing mountains, where dangers still lurk for the unprepared: avalanches and polar bears and ice caves and melting glaciers and icebergs and a sun that never sets and messes with your internal clock so you don’t know if you are in a dream when you fall and hope that you wake when you hit the ground.  The great thing about being in Anchorage is you are only 20-30 minutes away from Alaska.  I heard five or six different variations on that joke before I got to Anchorage; the idea being that in the “big city” you don’t get the same flavor of isolation nor the far flung outpost feel of the smaller towns and villages.  This is a city that has one of the remaining Blockbuster Video stores and they still carry VHS. To me this is equivalent to time travel and technological backwardness almost equivalent to 8 track tape players.   Yet I did feel Alaska looming around me as the snow peaked mountains of Chugach State Park surrounded us, Mount McKinley floating in the distance on the clearest of days.  Where I’m from in Maine, you need to set about a purposeful trek to find moose, whereas here in Anchorage I came across three, two in my car, one on a running trail as I was running the route of The Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon.  There is an air in Alaska that calls for boldness and strength and tempering and I was eager to put myself to the test.

Course  Review

Although this is a city marathon, you do not see much if any of the city, certainly none of the downtown core except at the very end and then only a smidge over the buildings that surround Delaney Park. Starting at Bartlett High School you get a little bit of strip mall ambiance before you head out on the highway pointed directly at the mountains and the rising sun (even if the day is overcast, I suggest wearing sunglasses if there is still snow on the mountain because it seems to amplify the brightness).  The first five miles are mostly flat except crossing over the highway.  After you cross over, you start seeing warning signs about being on the base.  If you are the type that likes to run parts of the route before the race, you will want to stop by the base and pick up a recreational pass.  It is very easy to obtain, you do not need a military sponsor as you do for other parts of the base, and they should inform you if any tests are being conducted at the missile or gun ranges that the course cuts through.  You enter the back trails of the base just before mile 7 and run though their back roads and training courses until mile 14. Most of these roads are hard pack gravel roads so watch your footing. Keep you eyes open for some of the most interesting scenery along this route.  Aside from your closest opportunities for mountain photos mile eight is where I came nose to nose with a moose.  Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, the moose burst onto the road from the forest about 50 yards ahead of me and stood glaring at me in the middle of the road.  I froze thinking for a moment that the moose intended to play chicken with me to defend its territory.  Fortunately, it shook it’s head dismissively and trotted off to the other side of the road at which point I got some blurry, sasquatchesque, grainy photos that make you question if I saw any beast at all. Miles 10 through 13 you run through some different training courses, so it was a little odd at first to see a mosque and some desert huts through the pine trees as well as some heavily defensive guard posts with bridges and turrets.

As you enter the last mile of the base and the beginning of the Far North Bicentennial Park you encounter the hilliest section of the course. It is not so much the altitude or the length of the hills, but the steepness that should give you some pause.  Although these hills are no more than 100 to 200 yards in length,  the angle of ascent was abrupt and hurt my knees as I tried to climb them quickly. Also, as you are on the trails in the park, be careful if there was rain recently, as the trails were quite slick, especially as you descend the mountain back towards the roads. Miles 18 -20 take you along some industrial/city areas, but from mile 20 to mile 25 you start running through an emerald necklace of city parks that take you to the coast. Most of the trails run along Chester Creek so you have a lovely calm burbling brook tempo matching your tired footfalls, but the woods surrounding you should keep you cool as the sun warms up the end of your marathon.  Keep a little bit of gas in your tank for one final hill as you run through neighborhoods from the sea to Delaney Park and you have just finished this fun and scenic course.

Lessons Learned:

Local Support:

I try to reach out to locals in each city and drum up support for my run.  Some folks want to be part of it some don’t.  I was very fortunate that my host family was very excited to be a part of my journey.  Not only did they drive me to the start line at an ungodly hour for a Sunday morning, but they also roused the household so that the whole family was on the street cheering for me at mile 18 and they erected a finish line for me at Delaney Park and met me with bananas and electrolytes and cheers and hugs. I really can’t thank Red and Pyro enough for their care and friendship. I need to learn how to generate that kind of excitement in each of my host families and see if I can continue that into the communities. I also was able to get a ton of tips from a young lady who works at Skinny Raven, the amazing running stores in Downtown Anchorage.

Sunglasses Even On Overcast Days:

Even though most of the day was overcast, it seemed incredibly bright to me and I was squinting through most of the course.  By the end of the run I had a wicked headache that only subsided when I got into the car and eventually into the cool darkness back at the house. I need to remember that clouds don’t block UV rays and that’s what damages eyes. Bring sunglasses to each marathon.

Physical Review:

This was a tough race for me and I have no excuses.  It was mostly flat.  It wasn’t high altitude. It was a nice cool day. I started off in fine form, but over the miles, every little ache came to a fore – my feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back all took turns pestering me.  I had raced hard my last two marathons with a racing PR and a solo PR and my body wasn’t having any kind of speed workout that day. My finish time was 5:55:39 – not a stellar time, not a bad time, just certainly not a time to which I have grown accustomed.  I need to admit that putting up these miles on a consistent basis might be making me stronger but I also need to continue to rest and allow my body to recuperate throughout the week. I’m hoping that the reserved energy is being saved up for the big race in Tacoma, Washington next week where I have a lot of support, a 5 hour pacer, and beautiful weather.  Thanks as always for your attention and your support and I look forward to your comments and questions.



Marathon Route #15: Lake Lowell Marathon, Nampa, ID

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After two weeks of marathon routes set in the most transendant places, my next marathon brings me to a somewhat desolate place. Southwest Idaho. Barren fields and boring views. Cheap airline flights dictated my races in this area and the last minute deal I got to Hawaii opened up an extra week in my schedule. Although it was a long haul from San Francisco to Boise where some long time friends lived, I got to break up the trip by stopping by beautiful Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe has been on my travel wishlist for some time. So please realize that after three incredibly beautiful locations to run (Big Sur, Maui Coast, and Lake Tahoe), Nampa can only seem plain and lonely. This was my first impression as I arrived for the Lowell Lake Marathon.

Race Review

I will start off by saying, I should be a little biased about this race because this was the first time in two months that I beat my personal record. I shaved 7 minutes and finished with a 5:17:21. I was a little disappointed in myself because I was gunning for under 5:15, but a 7 minute improvement is nothing to sneeze about. However, despite this win for me, I was discouraged in how the race was run.
Firstly, I was a little downcast at the race packet pick up. The volunteers were friendly enough. Guest speakers, scheduled demonstrations, great vendors with new or interesting gear are things that I look for in a decent expo. However, when you only have 7 vendors and 3 of them don’t show up, this doesn’t come across as a vote of confidence from the sponsors. I mention this because it eventually has an impact on my race day finish.

The race was abnormally warm for the beginning of April (this is becoming repetative, I know. I’m like the anti-Jack Frost, bringing melting and unseasonably hot weather where ever I go). Clear skies and crisp air started off our morning. The race starts with a quick run down the steepest incline of the course (something you regret as you climb back up to get to the finish line on this out and back course). You only get the briefest glimpse of the lake before you plunge down that hill and surround yourself with plowed empty fields. Most of the course is run along this farmland, plowed empty furrows not even showing the promise of crops to come. The lake itself sits just out of view, hidden behind homesteads, farms, and forrests. Running out the beginning of the course, you barely notice the rolling hills that pyramid up to a point around the fifth mile then taper to the gentlest of downhills to take you to the big turn near mile 6. Here you start to get a good gander at the best feature of the course, Lowell Lake and the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. At mile 7, the road runs along a dam on the western edge of the lake, a flat, hard concrete road with gravel to the side, a little less forgiving than the rest of the road. The next five to ten miles are a good place to pick up some time. The road here is fairly flat compared to the the first 6 miles of the course. There are also wide meandering curves for the runners who like to cut time by “running the tangents”. Five miles of flat curves to the turn around (which was not really well marked. I had to ask the ladies at the 13.1 table and they said it was the end of the table.) Then five miles back to the dam.

This was where this race got a little dicey for me. Just after mile 18 you turn back onto Riverside Road. Even though today was a banner day for speed for me, I’m still slow compared to most runners so this is around 10:30 and the traffic was pretty heavy at this point. Initially, when we were running on the dam, you can run on a gravel path to the side of the road, but after 18 miles, I’m a little leery of this. I’m at my weakest at this point and unstable footing is not something I want to deal with. However the speed of the cars and the fact that the course design put us on the side of the road with the traffic (usually as runners, we position ourselves for safety against the traffic) forced me of onto the gravel. The problem was compounded when we turned onto Orchard Avenue for miles 20 through 24. There were many places where there was no shoulder and we needed to run on the road. Although I saw volunteers putting up signs for the race, they were not runner’s ahead/race in progress signs, they were construction signs. Quite frankly, if I’m a driver and I see construction signs and no construction or people wearing construction worker garb, I keep going the speed I’m going. This was an area I felt very unsafe and unprotected on the road.

I should also note that as you are running back to the Start/Finish Line, those slight rolling hills are much more daunting in the last 10k than in the first. There is a slightly different angle coming back than when heading out, especially in miles 20 and 22. From 22.5 to 25.9 it is either flat or downhill, with that final push uphill to get to the finish line.

One final note of disappointment was the finish line services. This day was a triumph for me and I was looking forward to a little bit of a finish line party. However, it seemed that most of the sponsors/vendors had packed up and headed home after the last of the half marathoners crossed the finish line. This was just annoying. There were supposed to be physical therapists/massage therapists, members of the armed forces were to be serving lunch and other things. Later, a friend who finished the half marathon posted pictures and all of those amenities were in full Highland fling for the half marathoners and fast marathoners. Those of us at the back of the pack got luke warm beer, dried out hot dog rolls and burnt cold hot dogs, brown bananas and over concentrated Crystal Lite. I’ve been told jokingly before that if I want the good stuff at the finish line, I need to run faster. This was definitely the case at this race.

I just feel that if you pay $80 for an event that isn’t going to a charity or worthy cause, that the first priority should be road safety which I did not feel was acheived. This was the second race I’ve been to out here in the west, where there was no police presence to moderate speed or traffic. Support at some of the water stations was lackluster, with one lady not even getting out of her truck or even waving at us, just filled up liquid cups and set out dried-out-from-sitting-in-the-hot-sun oranges. Lastly, you should make sure that the finish line party is as good the first hour as it is for the last. I was grateful for the cute medal and free photos, but between the safety issue and the overall boring views on the course, I would want to find another race to check Idaho off your list.

Lessons Learned

Convenience Has A Cost
I had chosen this race because I wanted more actual races and it fit my revised timeline. I got to stay nearby with great and supportive friends. I earned a new Personal Record. Did I really stay true to my mission statement – beautiful runs in beautiful places? There is an old sales model that says you can only get 2 out of 3 of the following things: Quality, Price, Convenience. If you want good quality and it’s convenient for you, you’re going to have to pay a higher price. If you want to pay a low price in a way that’s convenient for you quality will go down. Sometimes, you only get one out of three. I could have run a much more beautiful course just an hour away, on my own, for free and felt a lot safer. Choose wisely.

Do Not Wave Off Faster Runners
This is another subtle form of negative thinking. I will be running along and start talking to a faster runner. As we are conversing I will notice that my pace will pick up and that we are running faster. At some point, I will wave off that faster runner and let them know I can’t keep up. It is not my responsibility to worry about their pace, I should just worry about mine. When I get tired, I should slow to a healthier pace and let them decided when they are going to leave me. I certainly shouldn’t skip my walk breaks (certainly no more than one). Now to find a balance between the high of talking to another runner and the discipline of running my own race. I now know it begins with this step.

Physical Review
As you could imagine, after this race I was feeling pretty tired. At mile 20, as I was doing the math, I didn’t think I could PR. Fortunately, a pair of Marathon Maniacs passed me at that time and motivated me to hunker down and give it my best shot. I owe my pace in mile 21, 23, 24, and 25 to them. I was feeling wonderfully strong and accomplished after this race with a very first half and last inning save towards the end. No problems the next day with ankles, knees, hips or feet and two days later I was doing some pretty aggressive hill training. We were even a little bit above sea level (2000 ft) to add a little more spice to the mix. I am looking forward to running next week in one of the legendary running arenas – Eugene, Oregon to run the route of the Eugene Marathon. I look forward to you joining me. As always, I welcome your comments or views about this article and your own experiences with this race.


Marathons Are For Wussies?

Doing some research on people who run multiple marathons over various time frames, I came across a subset of articles and commentary which called the ability to do marathons into question.  The arguments were very well laid out and the statistics were overwhelming.  My own experience makes me feel that the argument has some validity. I’ve been roughly 100 lbs overweight for years with questionable willpower and still I’ve been able to complete 3 marathons this year so far.  I tell people all the time that they could run a marathon – I really believe that if I could do it, anybody could do it.  Most of these articles work along the theme that anybody can run a marathon, but it takes real commitment and athleticism to win marathons.

Out of 729 marathons held in 2014, there were 590,399 finishers. Over half a million people completed marathons last year. Median times for the most popular marathons fall under 4 hours.  Unfortunately for those who enjoy the feeling of running a marathon, there is a tapering of elation like with any addiction.  Just finishing the marathon becomes passe.  One needs to improve upon the initial experience – striving for a better PR (Personal Record), reaching towards a BQ (Boston Qualifying time), doubling up events or pyramiding events like Disney’s Dopey Challenge (5k,10k, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, over 4 days), running a marathon in each state, running ultra-marathons.  These new and different experiences can help us overpower the brains natural tendency to try and shut us down as we push our bodies to do more. When you hear about these runners upping the ante, it can make it seem like the marathon is a paltry distance.

With so many people entering the ranks of first time marathoner each year it becomes easy to dismiss the marathon as a dated benchmark.  However dated it may be, it is still THE benchmark. This is not a race that someone who is physically fit can easily say “I think I’ll go run a marathon today.”  There is a commitment and forging that must occur both mentally and physically.  “The Wall” is real and although it starts in the brain, it can wreck the body without proper preparation.

Many of the aforementioned articles make it sound like first time marathoners don’t deserve much respect because, in this day and age, everybody s doing it. While a half a million is impressive, it is still a far cry as a percentage of total population.  No matter what time they are crossing the finish line, they are still lapping those sitting on the couch.  When someone says they are raising funds for a cause by running a marathon, you can still be impressed and donate to the cause.  At the end of the day, a marathon is still 26.2 miles – a distance to be reckoned with.


It’s been a week since New Year’s.  How’re you feeling? Checking off the goals on your list? Keeping to the straight and narrow? Running on the right track? Falling off the wagon? Feeling in a rut? You are not alone. My first week didn’t go as planned. It went better than the week before but by no means was it perfect. It is times like these that I like to think of my friends who don’t drink Tequila. I like tequila; it’s probably my favorite shooting liquor (probably due to the licking of salt and inappropriate placement of juicy lime slices).

My friends who don’t like tequila will often say “Oooo, I had a bad experience with tequila once.”

My response is “Did you ever fall off a bike?”

“Yeah, everybody has.”

“Did you walk your bike back to the garage and hang it up, or did you get back on and ride on down the road?”

“Well, I biked back home with my skinned knee.”

“Bartender, two tequilas with salt and lime slices, please!”

My point is to keep on truckin’ on.  You take your scrapes and bruises and you learn to do better. Please ignore the fact that my drinking tequila may have lead to minor flesh wounds.

You also may have come across some unbelievers, detractors, debaters, or haters. People in your life who can’t believe you are starting on a diet or a regiment again. People who will find something wrong with each choice you make, often armed with trite half truths – “Running is bad for your knees” or “Carbs can be part of a healthy diet.” They will debate the merits of your plan you have put in place even though they can’t see a plan through themselves. Some people are just plain mean. As much as I love my community at the gym, I heard a snippet of conversation this week while walking behind some regulars on the track.  It was said loud enough that all the newbies on the treadmills, stationary bikes, and ellipticals could hear.

“I can’t wait til all these losers with their New Year’s “Loserlutions” give up, so we can get back to our regularly scheduled awesomeness.”

Don’t listen to them.  Listen to your reasons for being at the gym. Don’t listen to the unbelievers – what do they really believe in? Don’t listen to the detractors – if they use “but” instead of “and” they are not trying to help you on your path.  Don’t even engage with the debaters. As to the haters, listen to your heart.  Listen to your well of unconditional love for yourself.  Listen to the part of you that believes you can do anything you can dream and then figure out how to make it so.


Ran four times this week for over twelve miles, but slept through an alarm and stood up running partners.  This lead to some running days in a row without giving my body proper recovery time.  Lost two pounds so I am down to 283. I did do two days of cross training in the pool swimming. I also had a tour of the new weight machines this week to set myself up for successful weight training in week two. I did not stretch everyday. Maybe five days out of the week. I resolve to do better next week. I will watch and participate in a yoga for runners program to further me towards that goal. I have continued to develop plans towards a career supported by running and continue to be excited.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Best Intentions

Here I go…again. I don’t know how you found me but here is the beginning of another reverse Horatio Alger story in weight. Heavy boy downloaded with a ton of extra baggage works hard, loses the pounds, and does good. Lives happily ever after. Unfortunately I have lost weight before and gained it back and lost it and here we are as Vizzini said “back at the beginning”. You are probably reading this months or years after I started this and hopefully you have just read a post where I am successfully running my umpteenth marathon and feel great. You just had to go to the archives to see that at the very beginning I was wallowing in depression and self pity wondering why am I right back at the bottom of the hill. Stop being a Sisyphus and get to the good part. Where’s the motivation? Where’s the life altering event that says “Something needs to change and it needs to change now!”. Right here, right now, that event is New Year’s Day.

How trite – setting goals on New Year’s Day.  75% of Americans who set goals today are finished by week 3.  Week 3!!!  I can do better than that.  I have set goals before and accomplished them.  I have run consistently. I have raced consistently.  I have finished a Marathon, despite physical maladies.  Mostly I have set little goals, accomplished them then went back to sleep for a couple months, like a hibernating bear or an annoying strain of STD.  The new goals are big.  I’ve decided to dream big and make the results immediate. OK my goals are not going to cure cancer or bring about world peace, but there will be a massive tectonic shift in my world.  I love running and what running does for me mentally and physically .  I am going to make running my life.

Goals for 2015

Run 4 days a week, rain or shine, day or night, in sickness and in health, til death do us…wait a second.  4 days a week unless something is broken or doctor’s orders. I will run my running plan and believe in a system that has already given me so much.

Cross train 2 days a week.  Swimming, biking (uggh), and weight lifting.  Maybe kayaking and snow shoeing. Sword fighting and cliff diving.  Ok, maybe not the last two.

Stretch every day.  I have learned a number of exercises for running ailments – shin splints in 2010, ITB strain in 2013, plantar fasciitis in 2014.  I need to be doing them everyday to support the amount of running I will be doing.  Potentially incorporating yoga into my regular routine.

Run a marathon distance by June.  Finish another one a month later. Complete 6 more by the end of the year on a diminishing timeline.  This is leading to a longer term goal.

Lose 1.5 lbs a week.  This will be accomplished not only by increasing my activity consistently but also drastically changing my eating habits.  As God is my witness, I will not eat ice cream until the first day of summer.  I am starting at 285 lbs today. By the end of December 2015,  I will be 210 lbs or less.

I will write about my successes and my challenges every week.  I will go into detail about my larger dream and I will envision and execute a plan that will allow me to take the joy I feel when I am running into other aspects of my life, primarily my work and personal relationships.

I have already been starting a few of these changes, so although today is a Thursday, my week is already set for success.  I will be updating this blog each week with occasional special entries.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.