Monday, April 22, 2019


If you've stopped by to purchase my running parody song collection, please click the link "Buy Running Parody Songs" in the menu, above this post.

For the MANY of you who have purchased them, I can't thank you enough! I really hope they give you some needed levity during your run training (or any other time, for that matter.)

I've had a blast recording them, and maybe more of them will appear in the future.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Greetings fellow readers! All 2 of you 😉

Here we are again, with an update reminiscent of Groundhog Day (the movie, not the actual day). If anyone needs a poster child for running injuries, I'm available, though not terribly photogenic.

If Brett Favre can retire multiple times, so can I. Right around mid-February of this year my left hip insisted that I immediately stop all running. My hip had been bothering me for a few months before that, to be honest. It became increasingly more painful, and felt a lot like the torn labrum that led me to have surgery on my right hip a couple of years ago. However, instead of backing down on the mileage, I DOUBLED down, recording three 30+ mile weeks in a row from the middle to the end of January. Before you judge and reprimand me, keep in mind that I'm very new to running, having only 35 years of running experience under my belt. Ahem.

The pain wasn't (isn't) only in the groin area (where the tear would be), but radiates all around the hip area. It aches even after longish walks. Given that my finances are a bit tight currently, I won't be able to get a scan, nor surgery (if needed) anytime soon. And even if I got it repaired, I don't know that a return to running would be a good thing. After a laundry list of injuries trying to send me messages over the years, maybe it's time to move on to other fitness endeavors, rather than continuing to pound my body into oblivion. I don't want to go into my golden years with the inability to walk without pain.

So, that brings me to the idea of striving for general health and fitness. As competitive as I am (was), this idea has always been hard for me to implement. But I know in my gut that it's time. The extremes (for me) ALWAYS get me injured. And the older I get, the more this is the case.

I've had a tendency to swing the pendulum hard the other way when I can't run. I've hit the weights hard-core and added up to 40lbs. of bodyweight in relatively short periods of time (no, I've never used any anabolics).

Hello low back! Are you ready for this?
A wee bit heavier than my "race weight"
I realized many years ago that I'll never be brutally strong. Powerlifting isn't for me. I've attempted to get quite strong several times and have ended up injuring myself in the process (multiple back injuries, separated shoulder, torn biceps tendon, etc). So doing high load, low rep exercises is not beneficial to me, at this point.

Less muscle mass than the above photo, but achieved by lifting safer, lighter weights.

My goal, moving forward, is to see if I can, finally, find that happy medium. Building muscle and strength in a SAFE manner, and getting enough cardio exercise to promote good health and fitness, along with the satisfaction of enjoying the outdoors while getting my heart pumping.

My wife and I will soon be shopping for kayaks. We decided last year that this will be one of the activities we'll do together, for both exercise and a way to get spend some quality time together. We've tried cycling together before, but it's not enjoyable for her. She insists I'm too fast, even when I'm trying to ride slow. That said, I intend to do a decent amount of cycling this year, but with lower intensity and distances. I want it to be enjoyable and not feel like I'm killing myself to prepare for a race.

I know better than to say "never" when it comes to any fitness activity I've been interested in, but given that my body is clearly telling me to back off, and my desire to be competitive is waning (probably as a result of compounding injuries), it's probably time for a change of scenery, or at least a modification of my approach to exercise. Staying healthy for long haul is becoming more of a focus than personal performance in a local race, or how much weight I can lift.

And finding that balance can still be fun, challenging and interesting. My mission is to make sure it is.

In future blog posts, I'll go into my training program and diet in a little more detail.

Now, if you'll excuse me, this grandpa has a crossword puzzle to solve...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 Review

Wow, that was a fast year! It seems like it just started a couple of months ago. I wish time would slow down. Guess it's a good reason to make the most of the time we do have.

Rambling aside, here were my workout-related numbers from 2017.

Runs: 154
Miles: 838
Hours: 118.7
Miles/Run: 5.44
Avg. Pace/Mi: 8:30
Long Run: 14 mi.
Highest Mileage Month: 105.8 (Sept)
Highest Mileage Week: 31.4
Races: 5 (four 10k, one Half Marathon)
Tot. Elev. Gain: 24,155'
Elev. Gain/Mi: 28.8'

Rides: 29
Miles: 783
Hours: 49.0
Miles/Ride: 27.0
Avg MPH: 16.0
Long Ride: 57 mi.
Highest Mileage Month: 196 (Jul)
Highest Mileage Week: 73.8
Tot. Elev. Gain: 18,365'
Elev. Gain/Mi: 23.5'
Most Elev. Gain/1 Ride: 1672' (57 mi)
Rides: 30
Miles: 400
Hours: 25.6
Miles/Ride: 13.3
Avg. MPH: 15.6

Swims: 15
Yards: 26,000
Min/100yd: 2.25
Long Swim: 2750 yds

So many numbers. That even makes MY eyes glaze over. The best part of 2017's training is the fact that I wasn't sidelined for more than a couple of days at a time. I had a few aggravating niggles, but never a major injury. My left knee continues to taunt me, but I've been able to train through it. I've also had some hip soreness, but nothing major.

2017 was a rebuilding year for me. I'm hoping 2018 will be the beginning of a testing year. That said, it will be done with caution and preservation in mind. My goal is to continue cross-training (whether or not that translates to a triathlon), along with consistent strength training (which I slacked off on toward the end of 2017).

My main "A" race this year will be the Windermere Half Marathon, on May 20th, with my "almost A" race being the Spokane Half Marathon, in October. I'll run several other races throughout the year, including a return to Bloomsday, on May 6th (22 years after I ran it for the first time).


Monday, November 27, 2017

A Sherpa in Arizona

On November 19th, my friend Dan competed in the Ironman Arizona, in Tempe. A couple of months prior to that, he asked me to join him down there to help, or to be his "sherpa." I gladly agreed.

Dan and I met back in 2010, when we both ran with the Mill Creek Running & Multisport Club, in Mill Creek, WA (just north of Seattle). I was training for my first (and only, so far) marathon, and he had recently begun training for running and triathlon races. At that time, our running paces were similar (now, he's MUCH faster than me). We're the same age (well, he's 3 weeks older than me, and I don't let him forget that) and we have that, and other things, in common, so we get along pretty well. Unlike me, he has managed to avoid major injuries over the years. Also, unlike me, he has become damn fast in all three triathlon disciplines.

He has completed 4 Ironman distance races, and has had a pretty good training year in 2017, so he decided to take a shot at qualifying for Kona (the Ironman World Championships, held in Kona, Hawaii in October). Since Arizona tends to be a fast course, he signed up shortly after a tough race at the final Ironman Coeur d'Alene, in late August (where I also acted as his sherpa, since I live 30 minutes from there.)

View from our first uninhabitable crash pad

We arrived in Phoenix on Thursday, Nov. 16th, stayed one night in an Air BnB (an old motel, not a house), had to bail due to a horrible smell (like they overdid the air freshener to hide a nasty, rotting odor), and luckily relocated to a very nice Hilton, about 2.5 miles from the race start.

The weather was about what one would expect this time of year: chilly mornings and evenings, but sunny, warm days with highs in the low-mid 80s.

Saturday was bike check-in day, explore Ironman Village day, and practice swim in the murky lake day. Dan described it as swimming in a cup of coffee.

We ran part of the run course together on Friday, after a morning swim at a very nice outdoor pool in Scottsdale. Race morning came very early (for me, anyway, who isn't as much of an early riser as Dan is). We got up at quarter past four, got ready, got our coffee from the lobby (no continental breakfast THAT early), and found free parking in a large indoor parking garage not far from the race start.

Blurry. That's how I felt at 5 in the morning.

Pre-dawn in Tempe

It was just below 50°f when we arrived. Ironman Village was a zoo, as expected. With over 3,300 participants, plus hundreds of volunteers and thousands of family, friends & spectators, I would guess there were close to 10,000 people all crammed into a relatively small area. Security was tight, so I wasn't able to help as much as I had hoped with his gear. After taking care of a couple of preparatory tasks, like topping off the air in his tires, he gave me his backpack and tire pump. I wished him good luck, and he was off to the swim start area.

Do you see Dan? He's the one in the green cap...
The swim area was incredibly crowded. I managed to find Dan before he put on his swim cap, but lost him when I took this pic. Being a very fast swimmer, he was in this 1 hour group (it was a rolling start). At 6:50am, they were off.

Dan exited the water with a very nice 59 minute swim leg (2.4 miles), putting him 2nd in his division (50-54). Going with the averages over the last few years, he would need a top 3 age division finish to lock up a Kona slot. So far, so good.

Dan leaving T1

The bike leg was three out-and-back laps, on a relatively flat course. As I tracked his splits, I saw that they were all over the place. Some of them relatively slow (~17 mph), others insanely fast (28 mph). I found out later that the headwinds on the way out were brutal and unrelenting.

Dan, after 1 lap (37 miles)

I hiked up to the top of Hayden Butte (a large hill right in town) and was able to witness both part of the bike leg, and the brutal wind (you can hear it in this clip):

Just east of the bike turn around
After a 5:27 bike leg (20.6 mph avg) and a 5:15 transition, Dan headed out for the marathon. It was now in the low 80's, with no shade on the run course.

Because swimming 2.4 miles, then cycling 112 miles isn't enough...

Despite his apparent slow start out of T2, Dan made it to the first run checkpoint (2 miles) running at about a 7:20/mile pace. That was faster than he was planning. He was a bit behind pace for his 10 hour race goal, but I didn't know at the time just how much the bike leg had cooked his legs. His paced slowed over the next several miles, although he was still averaging about 8:30/mi pace through the first six or seven miles. Gradually, he was forced to walk/run, then finally just walk. I kept waiting to see him arrive at checkpoints on the tracker, and he would be several minutes late to each. At first, I thought it was a glitch in the app. Alas, he made it to the half marathon point (where I was waiting) and called it a day. Disappointed, yes, but after a very solid effort on a tough day. He could have finished the race, but this was a "Kona or Bust" effort for him, so there was no point in walking another half marathon just to get a medal.

Consolation beers

He claims he's done chasing the Kona dream (I'm skeptical), but he is going to give the full ironman distance a rest for a while, and will focus on more speed for shorter races.

We both flew out of Phoenix on Monday, tentatively leaving the warm sun behind.

I've learned that never saying never is a good idea, but I'm almost positive that I shall never do a full ironman race, for a number of reasons. I'm quite content with the vicarious, yet inspired, life of an Ironman Sherpa.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Spokane Half Marathon

"As I ran toward the finish line, I started thinking about how, just a few years ago, I thought my running days were over, and about how much I really love running. I got a big, goofy grin on my face and pumped my fist as I ran across the line and into the chute."

-Me, Oct. 2009

That was from my race report from the 2009 version of the Spokane Half Marathon, which was the first half I ever ran, but I could have just as easily written the same about my race last Sunday (although, I didn't have the grin & fist pump this time around).

I have to admit, I'm losing count of how many "I thought my running days were over" proclamations I've made in my life. I suppose I should leave them in the past, because I somehow keep returning to the scene of the crime, as it were.

So, yes, I just finished the Spokane Half Marathon, my first half marathon since 2010 (and, as I said, a repeat of my first half in 2009), and...they still hurt. But I still love the distance. And this course, while the toughest half marathon course I've ever run, is enjoyable both for its scenery, and the challenge. But, let's be honest — the hills SUUUUUCK! They were every bit as tough as I remembered them. 

The race started at 9:00am on a PERFECT day. Clear as a bell, and about 45°f at start time. My goal (as usual) was to go out slow and hopefully have enough juice for the last few miles of the race. I did go out slow the first mile, but when the downhill stretches showed up, I decided to not put on the brakes and just let gravity do its thing. I ended up passing a lot of people on the downhills. It took a few miles to feel like I was in the groove, but I never felt peppy. At the start of mile 7, my average pace was about 8:03 per mile. I knew I was over my head, but I didn't feel overextended. I adjusted my plan mid-race and decided that, if I could arrive at the base of Doomsday Hill with an 8:10 average pace, I might be able to hold on for my goal of a sub-1:50 finish. Sure enough, with Doomsday in sight, my Garmin said I was pacing at 8:09, so up I went. SLOWLY. I never stopped to walk (as much as I was tempted to), but I'm pretty sure I was over 9:00/mi pace going up much of that monstrosity. I knew that I had to still be sub-8:20 pace by the time I reached the top, or I wouldn't be able to hit my goal. Fortunately, I had only dropped to 8:14s. However, that hill destroyed me. I didn't have much left in the tank, and there were still 4 miles yet to race. I tried to find an 'auto-pilot' mode and hang on. But my calves had zero push-off power left, and my hip flexors were fried. I knew there was one short, but steep, uphill left, about a quarter mile from the finish. I trudged up it (even walked for about 10 seconds), went around a couple of corners, then "sprinted" (ha!) to the finish line. The medals seem to be getting nicer in races these days (maybe the participants are asking for nicer medals?), and there was a free race photo (below) afterwards, which was nice. Food was plentiful (pizza, fruit, nuts, donuts, chocolate milk, etc). Once finished, I could tell my calves were very close to cramping. Thankfully, I had parked close to the finish line (which was about 1/2 mi from the starting line). I walked to my truck to get my phone, and as soon as I tried to climb in, my left calf cramped horribly, and I let out a loud scream. I'm surprised the authorities didn't come running!

Fake smile, through the fatigue and sweat

Here were my results:

Chip Time: 1:47:36
Avg. Pace: 8:13
Avg. HR: 148
Elev. Gain: 620' (I've seen higher on Strava)
Overall finish: 91/498
Males: 56/198
Age Group (50-54): 4/18

Yes, I just missed an age group award. I was honestly surprised to get 4th. I was just hoping for top 10. The number of runners was down this year, for some reason.

Incidentally, of the 6 half marathons I've run, this was my slowest, by several minutes. Yet, it was probably my most satisfying, given all the garbage my body has been through the last couple of years.

That was my "A" race for the year, so aside from a low-key 5k or 10k between now and the end of winter, I'll just be doing a lot of base training. Mostly outdoors, I hope. Man, I hate winter more every year...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Another 10k Race Report

My second 10k race in as many weeks happened yesterday (Sunday, Sept. 24th). The ValleyFest 10k, which also included a 5k and a duathlon, started at Plante's Ferry park, in Spokane Valley, WA at 8:00am. It was clear and chilly, but not unpleasantly so. No gloves needed this week. There were several members of the Spokane Valley Running Club there (my club, although I haven't run with them much lately), all but me running the 5k.

After starting in the park, the race was run entirely on the Centennial Trail (a paved walking/running/cycling trail, mostly along the Spokane River). It was an out-and-back course, both for the 5k and the 10k. The turnaround for the 5k was spot-on, distance-wise, but the 10k turnaround point was a bit short. According to my Garmin, the race was 5.83 miles long, rather than 6.2 (or, 6.21, to be precise!)

Due to some downhills in the first mile, I went out a bit quick (7:20), then settled into my current 10k race pace (between 7:30 and 7:45/mile). After the 5k turnaround, the amount of racers ahead of me dwindled to two. The leader had a significant lead, but the person ahead of me—a youngish gal—was only 10-20 feet ahead. After the turnaround, I let her have that lead, but I gradually closed the gap (she was slowing), so at about 3.5 miles, I picked up the pace to "pass with authority," as I was taught by my high school cross-country coach. After another half mile, I backed off the pace a tad. Once I reached the last mile, I knew I had to climb back up the hills that helped my pace at the start of the race. There were two of them, and I wanted to walk on both of them. But I chugged ahead and finally spotted the finish. Originally, I was given third place, but as of the edited results posted today, I was officially second (as I thought, when I finished). Even though my time wasn't fast enough to even place in my age group in a large race, I'll gladly take a medal for a rare 2nd overall finish in a small race.

Time: 44:35 (although they gave me a 44:40 officially)
Pace: 7:39 (based on a 5.83 mile race)
Place: 2nd of 47
AG: no results
Gender: no results

Young guy: 2nd in the 5k. Old guy (yours truly): 2nd in the 10k

It was a fun little race. I may do it again next year.

So the short, "speedy" races are over for the year. Now, it's time to get ready for my 'A' race, the Spokane Half Marathon, in less than 2 weeks.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Another 10k, Then Another...

Last Sunday (Sept. 17th), I ran my third 10k of the year. It was in beautiful, scenic Sandpoint, Idaho. It was called, coincidentally, the Scenic Half & 10k. My speedy friend Dan drove to my place in Spokane Valley, spent the night, then we arose at o-dark-thirty for the 75 minute drive up to Sandpoint. It was a fairly small race, with the 10k field being 128 runners, and the half with 308 finishers. There was still some smoke lingering in the very cool air (under 40°f at race time), but it was a sunny, dry day.

Dan and the rest of the half marathoners started at 8:00am, and us wimpy 10k runners at 8:15. The 10k course was a pretty flat (my Garmin gave it 107' of elevation) out-and-back affair, mostly on the bridge extending over lake Pend Orielle (pronounced "Pond O-Ray" for you non-locals). My watch said I was running at about 7:10 pace for the first few hundred feet, so I dialed it down and settled into about a 7:45-7:50 per mile pace.

I've been fighting a cold or some kind of chest congestion, which—combined with the smoke—made it harder than usual to breathe. Who knows how much that affected my time, but I'm pretty sure I could have clipped several seconds off my finish time without those issues.

I ran the first couple of miles with two other guys who looked to be in my age group (one of them was, I verified later), but I gradually pulled away from them. At mile 4, another middle-aged guy pulled even with me, not breathing as hard as I was, then gradually left me behind. After finishing, I asked him his age. "44" he said, to which I responded with a sigh of relief (hey, I covet age group wins, even in small races!)

My friend Dan finished 3rd overall in the half marathon, with a time of 1:28!

My official time was 47:08 (7:37 pace). Slower than my Santa Monica 10k in June, but faster than my Chelanman 10k in July.

I'm running yet a fourth 10k in 3 days, as of this post. The ValleyFest 10k will start just a 20 minute drive from my house. Historically, the field has been very small (basically, a group run), so I'm not sure how motivated I'll be to push for a fast time, nor sure if I'll ever ditch this pesky cold.

Here are my official numbers (and some photos) from the Sandpoint Scenic 10k

TIME: 47:08
PACE: 7:37/mi
MEN: 5 of 41
AGE GROUP: 1 of 3

Yes, compression socks. I'm old. And it was cold.
Pretty nice medal for a small 10k!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

August Numbers

Time marches on! August 2017 has come and gone, which means I have the usual ever-so-fascinating monthly numbers to post:

Runs:     15
Miles:    84.5
Long Run:    13.1
Races: 0
Bike Rides: 3
Miles:     60.2
Long Ride: 20.2

A vacation to Florida detracted from my numbers in July. In the heat and humidity, I managed only one 6-mile run while there (and zero bike rides, as I didn't bring my bike, nor did I have time or the inclination to rent one). The more re-focused on running I've become, the more cycling has taken a backseat in my training program, for better or worse. I'm hoping to keep one recovery ride per week in my schedule, but I've even sacrificed that in my tentative training schedule leading up to my half marathon in early October. I believe I only have two rides penciled in for September.

As I've been building my running base, I feel like I've actually gotten a bit slower. On an 8-mile easy run yesterday morning, I ran one of the miles at hopeful half marathon pace, and it didn't feel sustainable at all for a half. I'm hoping to pace it at 8:00 miles (I ran this one a bit fast, at 7:52). Granted, this was my third day in a row of running, starting with a hard mile time trial on a track.

Oh, tangent—I did finally satisfy my curiosity last Thursday, by running a mile on our local high school track. It was in the afternoon, so the temps were in the mid-80's, it was windy and smoky, from regional fires. Not the best conditions, but my patience finally ran out, and I just HAD to see where I'm at, speed-wise. Well, I wasn't where I was hoping to be. I ran a 6:36. I went out WAY too fast (1:30), then tried to hold on. I had no juice the last lap. I'll probably run another mile TT in a month or two, just to see if I've progressed.


My left knee and surgically repaired right hip are still holding up, even though I feel them from time to time. What's concerning me lately is my left hip. It has been quite sore between runs. I need to step up my game with the rolling, stretching and ice.


I've got two tune-up races this month, before my half in October. Both are 10k's (Sandpoint and ValleyFest). Neither are "A" races for me, so I don't have any solid time goals. I would like to run better than I did at the Chelanman 10k, back in July, so I guess sub-48 would be my goal.

All for now. Onward, running peeps!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Book Review (and Running Book Library Update)

I just updated my long-neglected Running Book Library here on the blog. I'm currently sitting at 37 running-themed books, broken into two categories: training books and biography/autobiographies/novels.

I recently vacationed in Florida, and I always try to bring a new book with me to read on the plane (and while waiting at the airport, possibly on the beach, etc.) I searched on Amazon and decided to pick up Frank Shorter's book, My Marathon — Reflections on a Gold Medal Life, published by Rodale Books in 2016. As of this post, it's listed at just under $15 US on Amazon. Heck of a deal, IMO.

Any serious and/or long-time runner (especially if you're old, like me) is no stranger to Frank Shorter. He won the Olympic Marathon in Munich, Germany in 1972. He also won the Silver Medal in the 1976 Montreal Olympics (read the account in the book to find out why he should have won the Gold), and he was a four-time winner of the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan. He's known as the Father of the Running Boom. His training mileage and intensity are legendary. He was a close friend & training partner to Steve Prefontaine, and was the last person to see him alive the night he tragically died.  

All of these topics, and more, are covered in good detail in the book. All very interesting and compelling stories. What was revelatory for me (even though it was already public knowledge) was the abusive childhood he endured. His father—a well-respected doctor in a small New York town—was a secret monster, who frequently beat his children (and worse). Frank goes into some depth (while not being explicit) about the fear that haunted him for decades, even up to his father's death in 2008. He claims that the pain he endured from his father's beatings made him a tougher runner. As sad as that is, I believe it.

Not only was Shorter the Father of the Running Boom, he also spearheaded the effort to bring about fair compensation to U.S. athletes, much like athletes from European & other nations were compensated. Prior to his efforts (and those of other fellow athletes, Steve Prefontaine included), American athletes could NOT be paid or compensated if they desired to remain amateur status, which was required to compete in the Olympic Games.

He was also instrumental in bringing doping issues to the forefront. From 2000 to 2003, Shorter was the chairman of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, a body that he helped to establish.

But, apart from all this, he really hasn't done much with his life ;-)

Kidding aside, this was a compelling book, and I highly recommend it. I started reading it during my lunch breaks prior to our vacation, and I nearly couldn't stop to save enough for the trip!

My next read will be Bill Rodgers book, Marathon Man, published in 2013. I'll review it as soon as I finish it.

Belated July Results

The month of August is nearly half over, and due to a recent vacation, I haven't been able to post my July training numbers. So, without further adieu...

Runs:     16
Miles:    100.1
Long Run:    12
Races: 1 (Chelanman 10k, Chelan, WA - 48:29, 12/112 overall, 2/5 AG)
Bike Rides: 6
Miles:     196
Long Ride: 56.6

I managed to hit a couple of milestones in July. It was my first 100 mile running month in nearly 4 1/2 years. I did a long run of 12 miles, which was the first time over 10 since August of 2010! While there are still some issues with my body I'm a little concerned about, I'll admit that I'm now a runner once again. I'm going to keep knocking on wood with crossed fingers, though.

The race I ran in Chelan was a spur of the moment decision (well, it was made a few days prior to the race). My friend Dan was doing the half ironman and suggested I come over to run the 10k. Despite a period of bad running, I decided to give it a go. I ended up running the slowest 10k I've ever run, and felt pretty lousy doing it. Still, I don't regret it. It was a fun weekend.

As alluded to earlier, a vacation earlier this month disrupted my training quite a bit. We spent a week in Florida, and I managed just one run while there. I plan on ramping up my mileage the rest of this month, and will start including some hill repeats to build strength. I won't be racing this month, but I have two 10k's on back-to-back weekends lined up for mid-September (one of them tentative). Then, my "A" race for the year, the Spokane Half Marathon will be on Sunday, Oct. 8th.

Now, to go off topic a bit. Last month, I shared my Don Rickles portrait story. This month, I'll share my Glen Campbell portrait story! Oh boy, a new celebrity every month! Don't worry, it won't become a trend.

As you may have heard by now, Glen Campbell passed away from Alzheimer's recently. I drew his portrait before that happened. With permission from his family, I'll be selling prints of the drawing, with 50% of the net proceeds going to his foundation, to benefit Alzheimer's awareness and research. If you're interested, check out my portrait website soon (I haven't posted the prints quite yet, but keep checking, they'll be up shortly).

Thanks for stopping by!