Round 2 – Mountain Climber

April 16, 2013

manwithflagI posted my thoughts in a status on Facebook that came to me after hearing of the Boston Marathon bombings. It talked about the “mountain of courage” it takes to train, qualify and then run the Boston Marathon. It is damn hard. Period. I received a huge number of “likes” which tells me a lot of people feel the exact same way I do.

Whoever is behind the bombings probably thought they could scare the American people to the point of chaos. No doubt they caused a bit of chaos. But guess what? They have also, once again, galvanized our country and brought us together even stronger than we were before it happened. And for me, personally? They have lit a fire (ok, they have really pissed me off). Somewhat to spite them, I plan to renew my quest to run this thing.

So, after throwing in the towel on this dream back in December, I’ll call this “Round 2”. Boston Marathon in 2015 when I turn 50 it is (someway, somehow). And I’ll smile the entire way around the course knowing they haven’t won or changed a thing.

As for the blog – why not. I’ll start it back up. It may be monthly or it may be more or less often but I do like and miss writing. If you want out just let me know. I’ll also try to keep it short and sweet and try to stay a bit more focused on the journey to Patriots Day in April 2015 (vs. random musings about Pawn Shops or Chewbacca or Spartan cheerleaders; but those were funny, I don’t care who you are.)

Only 24 months and 26.2 miles to go…


Man vs. Boston

December 13, 2012

mvfI love the guy on Man vs. Food.  I sat through a marathon recently while killing time traveling and watched him eat everything from Inferno Wings in San Jose to a five pound breakfast burrito in Denver.  He beat the wings but in the battle of Man vs. Food and the burrito he bit off more than he could chew – food wins.

As for my running?  Boston wins.  Bust.  I’m throwing in the white towel on the dream.  Between traveling for work, injuries and a lot of doubt about the ability or desire to run 8 minute miles for 26.2 of them I’ve decided to pull the plug on that goal and set some new ones.  I still really love running but I’ve come to the conclusion that my body and my mind are not cut out for marathons.  I’ve done it once.  Check.  And I may still do another someday.  But the thought of doing what it would take to be able to run a marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes has beaten me.  I give.

What does this mean?  It means I will just be running for fun from here on out.  Half marathons, trail runs, a possible (slow) marathon someday, maybe an ultra but Boston is out.  I congratulate the elites and the people who make it there and they have successfully done their job in weeding out the riff raff (me).

I’ve thought about what this means for this blog.  And in the end I think it marks the end of Boston or Bust as well.  I need to find some other way to write but it doesn’t really make sense to keep this going if I’m eating brats, drinking beer and watching the Boston Marathon on TV.  Plus I think the whole purpose of a blog is to keep it going on a much more regular basis than once a month.  So goodbye blog.  Goodbye blog followers.  I’ll miss the comments by my Mom and my Guru (my most loyal followers) but I’ll find another way to get the thoughts out of my head and onto “paper”.

Reflecting on this most recent running push I wanted to take the time to nominate my top 5 running moments of this series.

Number 5 “Paris” – This past summer my family and I had the great opportunity of traveling from London to Paris.  While there I did runs up and down the Chomp Elysses, near Roland Garros and around the Arc De Triomph.  I’m sure I’ve butchered the spelling of all these places.  But it really was memorable.

Number 4 “Abbey Road” – My favorite run that I did in London was up and down Abbey Road and right by the Abbey Road Studios and across the famous Beatles cross-walk.  I listened to “Love, Love Me Do” more times than I can remember crossing that thing.  And I almost take this for granted these days.  But who knows, I may never be back there, so reflecting on the run it had to make the top five.

Number 3 “Savannah Again” – I ran the half marathon in November not too long ago.  This was the site of my marathon accomplishment and brought back all kinds of memories.  But one thing I can say is when you reach that mile 11 point where the marathoners go left and the half marathoners go right I couldn’t have been more happy to go right.

Number 2 “Johns Creek Chattahoochee River National Park” – My wife and I discovered trail running not too long ago and ran one day for about 3 or 4 miles on a single track trail near where we live.  It was a crisp sunny morning and when we finished we both looked at each other and said that was awesome.  It has me hooked on trail running and I plan to do a half marathon trail run in February as a result.

Number 1 “London Santa Run” – you’ve probably seen the pictures on FB of my wife and I when we ran the Santa Run 6K in Battersea Park in London with 1998 other Santas not too long ago.  What an event.  They had carrolers and an endless supply of Santas.  As it was the first race I’d ever done abroad it really was perfect and kind of old school.  There were no sponsor tents or expos.  Just water when you’re done, a really nice medal and santa suits.  Even the gear bags had old-fashioned hand printed name tags with strings given to you.  I loved it.  And so did my wife.  Running with her was fantastic and getting into the Christmas spirit with our other Santa friends topped off the year.

Thank you all for reading and following along.  I’ll keep you posted when I start to write again.

Have fun running!

Pawn Stars

November 24, 2012

“You might be a redneck if you take your dog for a walk and you both use the tree at the corner.”  – Jeff Foxworthy

I think I may as well face the fact that I am a white-collar redneck (or partial redneck; or redneck wanna be).  Besides the fact that I have spent every year since I was 11 sitting in a tree staring at other trees waiting for something to happen in my blaze orange get up, I also quickly get hooked on shows like “Swamp People” and “American Chopper” and such.  I even daydream of one day having my own custom chopper shop or visiting my friend in Louisiana to find us some gators.  And today, I’m completely addicted to the show “Pawn Stars” ever since my also redneck son hooked me on it up at our hunting cabin in Wisconsin.  And only a redneck would say to themselves “Hey, we could go pawn some stuff too.  We’ve got stuff.  How hard could this be?  We should even think about opening one of those in Johns Creek.”  So when my son and I left the woods and headed south to our hometown of Janesville, WI we were on a mission.  We were Pawn Stars in our own right.

First stop – Big Ed’s Pawn Store on one of the main streets of downtown.  Janesville is only about 60,000 people or so and you can drive 25 mph and get completely across town in about 15 minutes.  According to SIRI, there were two pawn stores on our path to riches and this one had the best name.  I had to meet Big Ed.

First though, we had to have something to pawn.  We said to my Mom and Dad that we needed something good.  We figured they had a lot of “stuff” in the house so they should easily be able to pick out something old and unique for us to pawn.  It was a 1920 Atwood wooden and iron clothes hanging rack.   It was basically a bunch of wooden rods that fold down into a machine gun looking arrangement that can be extended out in a big circle to hang clothes.  This was perfect.  On the Las Vegas show they love historical items that are unique so this one was surely going to have us counting our money in no time.

My son and I tentatively walk into Big Ed’s carrying our treasure.  To know what I’m getting into and to ensure my son is not going to get shot or anything I scan the room.  I had no idea what to expect.  I’d never been in a pawn store so this had us both a bit nervous.  All around the edge of the room were big amps (for bands) and guitars.  Lots of ’em.  People must love that stuff.  There were also lots of bow and arrow kits, beer signs and stereo equipment.  I didn’t see one 1920 Atwood in the room.  I did, however, see Big Ed!  And his other very large and overweight friend sitting smack dab in the middle of the room staring at us.  No smiles.  No how you doings.  Just a “yes”? from Big Ed (the guy with the ear full of earings, leather vest, Hanson brother glasses and tattoos).  He was the perfect Big Ed.

The reason I know he’s Big Ed is because the first words out of my mouth were “who’s buying?!”  The other large guy immediately pointed to the guy I just described.  They don’t wear name tags behind the counter of pawn stores so this meant it had to be him.  Big Ed asked me what I have there and I proudly describe the unique and historical find we have here in our 1920’s Atwood.  Great shape and the wooden rods all fold right out.  I start to demonstrate and Big Ed holds up his hand.  “I don’t even know what the hell that thing is.”  Well, Big Ed, neither do I.  But that shouldn’t matter.  It is unique.  It is old.  And on pawn shows you are now supposed to say you’ll give me $100.  But that isn’t what Big Ed said.  “You’ll be lucky to get $5.”  That wasn’t what I expected him to say.  And my son looked up at me and said let’s go.  He’s a hard-core negotiator and wasn’t having any of Big Ed’s low balling.  But first I asked him where he thought I could pawn it off.  Big Ed says just go on up Hwy 51 to Casey’s.  They’ll probably buy it.  When I look kind of dumbfounded not knowing exactly where he was talking about he gives me his I really am starting to get annoyed with this customer look and says “It’s right next to the adult book store, you know?”.  Oh.  Right.  Ok.  Thanks Big Ed.  See ya.

We find our way to Casey’s next.  And it truly IS right next to the adult book store.  I’m not sure how I could have ever missed it before.  (kidding)  We figure we’ve got to really get energized about this thing we’re selling.  Kind of turn up the heat on the pawn buyer and make them want it!  But first my son and I have one of those belly laughing, tears in the eyes moments outside where neither of us can stop laughing about this thing we’re trying to pawn.  Neither of us have any clue what it really is or why these guys would want it.  And the fact that it is a Wednesday afternoon and we’re standing in a pawn store parking lot in Janesville, WI next to the adult book store holding a 1920 Atwood wooden and iron clothes rack just kind of made us both truly laugh out loud.  We had to get it together, man.  We’re Pawn Stars.  So we get serious and put our sales pitch faces on and head on in.  This one was much quicker.  I didn’t even get to the 1920’s historical part.  I got the raised hand almost immediately.  The u-beard only kid (no mustache; just beard) says “nope”.  What do you mean “nope”?!  He was nice enough to tell me they just don’t buy stuff like that.  (Obviously this is not a TRUE pawn store like Las Vegas.)  I’m told they just want newer electronics and gold.  Oh well.  0 for 2.

My son and I walk out of the store with our clothes rack treasure in hand and our tails between our legs.  We did try to sell it at an antique store but they already had two of ’em.  So much for our “unique” pitch.  Our day as Pawn Stars was over.  But truly, it was probably the most I’ve laughed this whole year.  I’m sure that’s also true for my son.  And it might be true for Big Ed as well (after we left).

Running Update:  Fried cheese curds, friend onion rings and fried everything will do wonders for motivation to run.  I ran every day once I made it home out of the woods.  I’d be 300 lbs if I lived up there on a regular basis given my very low capacity to control myself around these things.  It’s all good.

Trail running is the new thing.  I still am running like a normal runner but I am also trying to fit in a few trail runs here and there.  You get to run through woods on what they call single-track trails.  There is an awesome trail that I’ve landed on called the Johns Creek Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.  It goes on for about 6 or 7 miles and runs along the Chattahoochee River.  If you ever want to try this type of running I suggest you try this.  I’m so excited about this new-found type of running I even signed up for a half-marathon trail run in February.  You’d know about that already if you were a cool Cambridge CAT.  I am spearheading a new neighborhood site to motivate and collaborate with others on upcoming events such as runs, triathlons, etc.  If you want to check it out go to   I’m working with the board to see if we can keep it going as a neighborhood thing.  We’ll see what comes of it.

Only 29 months and 26.2 miles to go…

Running With The Bulls

October 15, 2012

No, I wasn’t in Pamplona.  But I was in Madrid, Spain.  And when the whistles started blowing, the pans started banging and thousands of Spaniards with FU EU signs came marching my way recently I had a feeling I should run or be run over.

Given my desire to be a journalist in my next life (or a not so good blogger) I figure this event was unique and worth sharing with my followers most of whom I am sure, like myself, have no idea what’s going on in Spain right now.  I won’t get into any political diatribe or even try to explain why this matters but I will give you my views on what I saw.

If you look at the picture above that I took of that little blonde haired girl banging on her pan with a spoon my first thought when I saw her was I bet she loves banging on that thing.  Next thought was, I wish I had a pan and a spoon too; looks like fun.  Last thought was that I’ll bet she knows about as much of why they are all up in arms and blowing whistles and banging pans and shouting as I do.  She had no clue.  I had no clue.  So let’s just bang on a pan and be happy people.  She’s got the right attitude.

I had just arrived in Madrid from London on a Saturday afternoon.  I had that day and night to myself so I figured I would just walk on up to see the sights.  It is a fantastic city with big architecture and lots of parks and fountains.  I made my way to the Plaza Mayor and then to the various Tapas places up and down San Miguel area.  You go in, buy a drink, get a small plate of food.  Then you go to the next place.  Then you repeat.  After a couple of hours of this I was beat from traveling and just sat my butt down in the Plaza del Sol to people watch.  I bet it wasn’t more than 15 minutes later at about 8:00 p.m. that I start to hear the sound of whistles and the pans.  Next thing you know, the massive crowd is literally on top of me in this plaza as that was their central hub for the protests.  This was by far their largest protest to date and from what I can tell is a normal and planned occurrence for them.  I have to believe this was a planned deal as both the SWAT teams and the media were all there from the very beginning.  I counted twenty SWAT vans and the machine gun-toting tough guys lined the streets but let the crowd just march along.

I could have run.  And normally I would have (just ask my wife about Paris) but for some reason I figured this was such a unique opportunity to be right smack dab in the middle of one of the most serious protests for a country that is quickly going down the tubes that I had to just take it all in.  What I saw was a mix of the every day Joe (or Jose in this case) and the extremists.  There were the pot smoking hippie types (literally) who looked all too excited about this event high fiving and running around like crazies.  There were the young chant leaders who climbed the highest poles or the bus stop to lead the crowd in their cheers or wave their Spanish flags.  There were the guys who thought this might be a good money-making opportunity and ran around with plastic bags full of six packs of beer selling them in individual servings.  (Si amigo, I’ll take one of those por favor.)  There were the foreign tourists in shock and wondering what had just happened taking pictures of it all and/or making their way to the nearest side street to get the heck out of dodge.  I saw media vans, camera people and reporters all around.  There were old and young.  One older gentleman took his pan and spoon and went running up to this suit wearing guy walking by and just banged as hard as he could over and over in this guy’s face.  He must not have realized there was an American (me) standing right nearby to give the same treatment.  Thankfully.  There was the little girl (pictured above) who was smiling and laughing and drumming.  And there were the sign people.  Everything from the FU EU type signs to the “We don’t owe.  We won’t pay.” (in Spanish of course).  That was their main chant and from what I can gather is their biggest complaint.  Spain is sucking wind and mainly because of all of the major loans given out by the government and now almost bankrupt.  25% unemployment.  One out of every four people out of work.  I’d protest too.  Or sell beer.

Running Update:  So.  Savannah is coming up in three weeks.  I put the brakes on about two weeks ago after a recurrence of an injury and plan on just doing the half marathon.  My wife is joining me and doing the same.   It is a bummer but between the injury and the amount of travel that has impacted the training plans it was the right call.  I’m now all about Chicago Marathon on 10/13/13 as the next one.  Hasta próximo año baby.
Only 30 months and 26.2 miles to go…

Long Runs Suck

September 10, 2012
“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.”  Forest Gump, 1994
My wife and a few other friends I know are training for their first long race.  Some are doing half marathons and some are doing the full marathon.  But in either case this is their first exposure to training for a real race.  I thought since I’ve strayed a bit in the past from the running “theme” (ok, I’ve strayed a lot) I would write one that might actually have some good tips in it from my perspective.  For sure I am still a Novice runner and I still run mainly to try to work off the pizza from last night.  But I have gone through this once for a marathon and am about in the middle of training for my second.  The training has been totally different both times so we’ll ultimately see what works and what doesn’t.
What Doesn’t Work: Tripping and falling.  One thing I can tell you that doesn’t work – running on the streets of Westminster in London where they have these 12″ x 12″ square cement pieces that aren’t necessarily aligned.  Digger.  Can you say digger?  Yes, last week I took a face plant.  Well, it was more of an elbow and knee plant thankfully but still a digger nonetheless.  Expletive.  That was my reaction.  Then I got up and kept on running.  I went about a half a mile and realized my super expensive over the ear headphones and iPod were probably laying back where I was just laying.  So I turned around and came to the spot of the fall.  No iPod.  No headphones.  I look over at the cleaning truck parked along the street and the guy who is sitting in the car with his window down holds out his arm with iPod and headphones in hand.  He says “the gentleman that just passed said if that chap who fell comes back make sure you hand him these.”  Two thumbs up for London hospitality!
What Works:  Sticking to the Sunday Long Runs.  Hal Higdon (my mentor and nemesis) says “don’t cheat the long run”.  What he means is this is the most important aspect of getting yourself to the finish line of the race.  In my first time around as a marathoner I stuck to his program verbatim.  This time around, not so much.  I’ve done things this time around that would make Hal hang his head in disgust.  Things like telling myself instead of doing 8 miles this Wednesday I’ll just do 4 miles one day and 4 another.  Seems like a fair trade-off.  And instead of running 14 this week maybe I’ll just run 10 and walk 4.  I think he’d ultimately be ok with this if he knew what a lump I was but it seems like “cheating” anyway.
There are going to be times where you just have to cheat because your body isn’t up to it.  Let me tell you about one of those times.  Yesterday and when I was supposed to run 17 miles (which turned into 16 with a bit of walking in the middle).  NOTE: Skip this next paragraph if you are squeamish.
What Doesn’t Work:  Road kill.  This Sunday I decided to try to imitate everything I would do during the marathon and then run my 17 miles.  This includes the normal runner body glide stuff, the taping and the meal.  I usually eat a banana and a bagel with peanut butter and away I go.  So this time I eat the banana and toast up some wheat toast.  I spread a little of the good for you Organic Peanut Butter my wife had purchased and take a bite.  Alarm, alarm!  Waving arms like Danger Will Robinson!!  Puking is about to happen.  Here’s what I can tell you.  There had to be a rat or a mouse or something dead that had been mixed in with that stuff about halfway down the jar.  My wife laughs at me but guess what.  We’ve been eating the top half of the jar for the past month without a problem.  So who’s laughing now.   And I can tell you my stomach is still not laughing.  It made for the longest 16 miles in my life.  Literally came to puking about 5 times on the route given the road kill between Jones Bridge and Holcomb Bridge.  I’m sending that jar back in with a scathing letter that is for sure.  If they say I can have a few free jars I’m sending those back too with another letter.
What Works:  Water belts.  Long runs make you thirsty.  So go buy yourself one of those fancy water belts.  They are heavy and bulky but they work.  They don’t make you look pretty though.  In my case it kind of looks like I have two of them on.  But they do work.  And fill two of the four bottles with Gatorade or whatever you plan to drink on race day.
What Works:  Motivational sayings.  I’ve seen things people use like “Just Do It” or “Keep Moving” or “This is for so and so” to keep themselves going.  I’ve found a new one that plan to use “Suck It Up Princess”.  In the end finishing is 90% mental if you’ve done even half the training.  So this is to combat that left brained nay sayer and works for me.

Running Update:  I’m more than half way through training.  Just an 18, 19 and 20 miler ahead (with some “shorter” weeks in between).  With all the traveling of late including a trip to Peru this week it is tough.  I’ll be talking to Mr. Treadmill to avoid the kidnappers.  That’s a shame because the weather is sunny and a high of 66 low of 61 each day.  I did consider putting on that fake stache and staying on the main roads.  But then I saw that they border Columbia so I’m not wanting to say hello to any little friends this week.  Treadmill it is.

Only 31 months and 26.2 miles to go…