Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Nobody Said it Was Easy. (The struggle to stay active is real)

That spiral thing. When life takes over and you don't get to run or workout. So your stress level goes up (along with your weight and other not so good numbers). So you know you need to get back out there, but you feel further and further behind. So it spirals a bit. Until it's a month or two later, and all those bad numbers go higher. Now you feel guilty about it. And a 2 mile run feels like a half marathon. And you're telling yourself you can still do this. But you're not really sure.

Been there?

Yeah, most of us have. Living in the middle of it right now. So what's going on? It's a lot of the same things all at the same time.

Work. Love my job, and I'm lucky to have it. I work for a world class company and have an awesome team. But the world is changing, and the way I do my job is changing with it. People don't watch TV the same way, don't buy the same way, don't stay loyal to a brand the same way, and those are the three key factors to the business I run. So that's stressful and it brings a new challenge every 24 hours or so. So that all equals stress.

Family, of which I'm truly blessed to have, is also in transition. The kids are heading out (in fits and starts) and finding their own way. But their not independent yet. Mom is getting better, but she may never be independent again. And we live in Santa Monica. So the bills don't get smaller, they just seem to appear out of nowhere and grow to new heights. So that all equals stress.

And I'm not getting younger. Right, running away from 50, that's part of the deal. I get tired easier. I get new health issues instead of birthday presents. I'm still grinding, but it's not as simple as it used to be. Add to that the path I chose. I never was good in school, so I did it my own way. Out work the crowd. Take risks, take but shots, and never take off. That means in the last 25 to 30 years, I've had a few one week vacations, but I've been at it pretty much non-stop since the mid '80's.

All that means I have the occasional morning where I wake up and think "what the fuck am I doing?" Seems like most people had a plan, go to school, chose a career, move up and make it. I sorta got here because I got offered a position, and thought, "Hey that looks cool!" Jumped at it and didn't think about what would come next. Pretty much every time. So what does come next? Where is the plan? What am I supposed to do now?

Please send your responses to

That translates into the running thing as a huge pile of "I'm not motivated today." And that's why it's so hard to regain any kind of consistency in training.

That's why, maybe, the struggle to stay active is real. Sometimes the struggle to show up is real.

So what to do? Trying to do those little 2 and 3 mile runs a few times a week just to keep myself in the game.

Nothing this week, but it's only Wednesday, so there's still hope.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

One About Loss and a Friend of Bill's

Kim passed away yesterday. This isn't as much about him as it is about me. About the impact he had on my life, about how I got to where I am today.

On New Years Eve of 1989 I went out for what turned into my last round of fall-down-drunk partying. At least my last round to date. It was not any different then any other night, you know, in my life every evening was New Years Eve. A few days later when the fog cleared, a very nice judge from the Criminal Court of the City of New York suggested that I get some help, or alternatively, he'd be happy to make me a longer term guest of the state. Scared straight doesn't work for everyone, but it helped me.

A few days after that I found myself sitting in the basement of a church in Park Slope, trying to figure out what the fuck these bright eyed, cheerful, coffee drinking, cigarette smoking Jesus freaks were talking about. Yes, I had a whole lot to get my arms wrapped around. Turned out they weren't all that cheerful, they mostly weren't Jesus freaks, the bright eyed thing was just in comparison to me, but the coffee and cigarettes thing was truly legit.

The other thing that happened was that this guy named Kim walked up to me and told me a) I need a sponsor, and b) until I could think for myself, it was going to be him. That was definitely just the first two things he told me, not the only things he was going to tell me. He had it all ready for me. "Take it easy" "One day at at time" "Keep it Simple Stupid" "HALT" " People places and things", he had a seemingly endless array of cheesy, simplistic cliches that I absolutely fucking hated. But that in some bizarre way helped me get through each painful confusing substance free day. The one that he hammered on was 90 meetings in 90 days. And that was only the minimum daily requirement. He got me to 2, 3 ,4 a day for those first few months. Morning, mid day, evening, midnight. Clubhouse, Rec halls, Community centers, hospitals, rehabs, jails, and a lot of church basements. 

Back then, my day started and ended with Kim. I'd call him to ask him what to eat. I'd call him to ask him what to wear. I'd call him to ask him who I could talk to, who I could get help from, who I should stay away from. I called him to bitch, I called him to scream. I called him to ask if the noise in my head was real. I called him fairly often to ask if all this bullshit was worth it.

I made it through those 90 days, Kim was there for all of it. I got married, Kim was there. I got a job. Kim was there for me. I got my career back on track, I got a new place, I got 6 months, a year, 2 years. Kim was the one constant through all of it. As I progressed, he was always a step ahead of me. He warned me about the feelings that would come up as I got passed the initial fog. He talked to me about the way life came back at you once you decided you wanted back in. He helped me deal with all the issues that come from rebuilding a career, "getting your brains back" after 5 years, changing jobs, pretty much all of it. He was even there when the kids were born, and got to hear all about the fears and insecurities I was dealing with at the prospect of being responsible for these new forms of life.

Kim never really asked me for anything. It's part of the program, but that doesn't mean most people live by it. He did. I know he got something out of the deal, but from my end, it always looked one sided. He was always there for me, he was always patient and willing to listen. He offered advice, never gave orders (not after the first 90 days anyway). He wasn't judgmental, and he even understood my struggles with religion, and never forced the "God stuff" on me. And he never asked me for a single fucking thing. Even when I offered, even when I knew he was in trouble. It just didn't work that way for him. I think for those first 8 to 10 years he saw me as his responsibility, as his burden to bear. If I progressed he was happy, if I needed something he was there, and that was that.

Weeks turned to months, then to years. In 1998 I moved to Florida to start a business. That grew and the kids got older, and led to another move out to the coast. I ended up in Santa Monica, where I am now, with a career that spans 30 years, two healthy happy grown kids and pretty much everything I ever could have asked for. All of that, in some large part, I got because I knew Kim.

My trips to NYC slowed down, and Kim and I didn't talk as often. By 2005 or 2006 he had his own issues to deal with, he'd moved away from the Slope, and we didn't get to connect for a long time. I knew there was more I should have done. I knew he was struggling, and I wasn't. I tried to reach out, not hard enough. But I'm not sure to this day he wanted my help. It wasn't the way it worked for him.

Fortunately, for me anyway, we got to reconnect last year. Got to trade emails, talk on the phone a few times. 25 years makes a difference, but it was still Kim. He told me a little about his personal struggles, just so I would know what was going on. He told me a little about reconnecting with folks close to him he'd lost touch with, but again, only so I'd know he was ok. But mostly, he wanted to hear about me. About mom, about Jan, about the kids. Where I was, what I was doing. Did I still go to meetings, was I dealing with defects of character, did I have a plan. Some of my answers he was happy with, others he was ready to challenge me on. Like I said, it was still Kim.

How does a music obsessed hard headed, arrogant, stubborn, fuck up like me walk into a room and get adopted by an 60's acid rock guitarist who got to work with Hendrix? It was scripted. I had no defense left, and he was to me the coolest guy in the world before I even got to really know him.

I'll never be able to thank Kim for all he did for me. But he did it, and I was blessed and lucky to know him. I can't pay him back, I can just keep moving forward. That was one of the sayings "Neither regret the past, nor shut the door on it". I grateful for everything he did for me, I will continue to learn from the example he set, and I'll keep moving forward, never give up. That's what he told me to do. One day at at time.

Peace and Love dude.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Marathon That Wasn't & Was

I'm no stranger to missing races. It's sort of table stakes in my life, scheduling a marathon, doing most or all of the training, and then having to miss.

But this one bummed me out a little. Was registered to run The San Francisco Marathon on July 31st, and have been pretty much through all the training runs. But you know, life gets in the way. Travel plans changed, family health issues came up, work got crazy, and my best friend in SF will be out of town too. So, wait 'til next year.

That's the thing about goals. They give you that bar to try and clear. But what if you don't clear it? Is it really a failure? For me, and for me with running, I've come to the conclusion that it's the training that really matters. Maybe I'm not running SF, but I got 4 or 5 months of planned runs in, a few 20's in there too. 4 to 5 times a week, outdoors or at the gym. That means maybe I'm not at the starting line this time, but I still got what I really needed out of the race. I still hit my goal. Ish.

Plus, when you're out on runs, and get to enjoy the beach and the sites, it's all good anyway.

Yeah I'm disappointed, and yeah, I'd like to run. But, you know, take the training as a win and pick another race later in the year. Maybe one that's a little cooler, and a little flatter?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Running Away on Vacation!

“Whoever invented vacations should get a huge bonus.”

I believe this to be true. It’s February, 2016, and it’s been a year since I’ve taken time off. Not that it’s that long a time, many go much longer, but I’m burnt. So I got to take 10 days off.

And what do I do? I get to go for a run. Or a cruise. Or a running cruise. Yeah. That’s it, a running cruise. Organized by a couple form Toronto, “Run for Fun Cruises” are set on a 7 day tour of the Caribbean, with 5K runs setup for each of the island stops along the way. Took the tour last year, and did it again in 2016.

And since they leave out of Miami, I get to spend a few days with my dad in Lake Worth along the way.

Left Cali on Wednesday the 10th of February, LAX to MIA, and bouced up to Dad’s in Lake Worth when we landed. Thursday went by quickly, and didn’t even get a chance to get out and run. That all started on Friday.

Friday February 12th, got my ass back out there in the Florida heat and got moving again. I’ve been back at it sporadically since November, but coming back this time has been a totally different experience. In the past I could take a month off, or a few months off, or a year off, and within a week I’ve got my legs back. But this was my first big layoff past 50, and it wasn’t coming back so quickly. My splits were still slow, my distances were still appallingly short, and my stamina was conspicuous in it’s absence.

But I’m on vacation dammit, so I’m going to run. 4 miles. In the mid-day sun. In Florida. And I loved it. 4 miles in 45 minutes and change. Not quick, still only 11:20’s, but 4 miles, without walking. Run Streak day 1.

Saturday the 13th I went out again. Still in Florida, still in the hot, albeit flat conditions. 6 miles. 11:14 splits. No walking. Runstreak day 2.

Sunday February the 14th, or Valentines Day, it’s time to board the boat. The Norwegian Getaway our of the Port of Miami. Back on the treadmill to keep moving, running circles on the deck of a ship with 18 loops to the mile is not for me. 3 miles, 30 minutes flat. 10’s. That’s right, 10’s. The fun part is that the boat rocks side to side while it’s in motion. And the treadmill is perpendicular to the beam. SO it feels like you’re going up and then down hill throughout the run. Run Streak day 3. 

Monday is at sea, just hit the gym for another 5K on the treadmill. Maybe getting a little more comfortable, getting a little pace back. Day 4

Run Streak day 5 is the first real run of the cruise. Jamaica, and well, when they said challenging 5K, they we’re sorta trying not to scare us. It wasn’t challenging, it was completely insane. Just a 5K, starting from the port in Ocho Rios. And the first 2 miles were only slightly uphill. But then at between the 3 and 4 k mark, we turned left, and went straight up the mountain. Somewhere between 700 and 800 feet straight up in the next 1.5K. Like straight up, the cars could barely handle it. And I definitely could not. Walked it, in the heat, sweating my ass off, and bitching the entire time. Figured, why kill myself on my first real vacation day of the last year. Made it to the top, barely, and collapsed in a heap. Runkeeper was helpful to point out it was my slowest 5K ever. Thanks for that guys.

But, it still got better. Tuesday night, after the run, my first ever yoga class. On deck 18, under the stars. Life is pretty good when you’re doing yoga under the stars in the Caribbean.

Wednesday we were in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Flat flat flat. Thank you. 3 Mile run in 32 and change, back down to 10:50 splits. Finishing up with a  jump into the Caribbean Ocean doesn’t suck either. Started out at 10’s, and made it through the first 2 miles at that pace, but the heat was too much, again, not worth dying, so did a bit of walking down the last mile to the beach and made it in one piece. Felt much better, good enough to hit the gym in the afternoon to get some core work in and another 2 miles on the Mill. Run streak day 6.

Thursday was my favorite run, just over 2 miles in Cozumel. Felt like the entire town showed up, politicians, an athlete or two, they shut down the road, gave us escorts, we felt like real runners. Had an excursion I wanted to do after so I sprinted (for me) through it and had a great time. 8:50 splits, and enough energy left to go snorkeling later in the day. Runstreak day 7.

Friday in Costa Maya was also a blast, bit over a 5K, from the docks down to the center of Costa Maya, where we spent the rest of they day planted in lounge chairs eating fish tacos and dunking in the Caribbean. Life really doesn’t suck on a running cruise.  Runstreak day 8.

Satruday was at sea making the run back to Miami, still got a 5K in on the Mill, sub 10 minute splits finally! Day 9

Sunday, February 21st, the long flight home, but even managed to drag the dog out for a quick 2 mile run with 9:30 splits. Runstreak day 10.

And that’s how the vacation and the runstreak ended. Back to the real world, and needed a rest day on Monday.

This wasn’t my first running cruise, was on one last year. Also good, but two things were much different this year. The cruise itself had 4 stops with 4 runs, all in great destinations. Last year it was 3 stops with only 2 running eligiable.

The second difference was the group that came along from #BlackGirlsRun. They were all amazing. High energy, great attitudes, and really committed to the trip. If they’re coming back next year, so am I.

So yeah, whoever invented vacations, thanks. You're my hero. Now back to running away from 50 in the real world. 

But if you love running, and you love eating, and you love beaches, and you love boats, take a running cruise, seriously. You’ll love it.

Check out: or @runforfuncruise   or +Black Girls RUN! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Time to get moving again!

It's 2016, and yes, it's that time. Time to get my ass up and off the couch, back out there running again. The back end of 2015 was challenging. Family and health issues that we all have to deal with, but that can monopolize time and take you pretty far off course.

The result? I'm 30 pounds heavier then I was this time last year. A 3 mile run takes me 10 to 12 minutes more to complete then it did a year ago.  My diet has gone completely to shit, and apparently I'm cursing a lot more. None of these are great signs.

So it's a good time to get back in gear. Started on Saturday, and got a short run in. 3 miles, but you know, better then nothing.

And then it's on to diet. Went through and collected all the crap that I'd been hiding at the house, and at the office. Took away a few grocery bags full of cookies, chocolate, candy, etc. Started yesterday, and will actually try and keep track of my eating.

Meal Plan Yesterday:

Breakfast Eggs, one piece of toast
Lunch: Brown Rice & Tuna Poke
Dinner: Brown Rice, Vegetables and Tofu
Snack: Oranges and Apples

So I'm off to the races. Going to get my ass back in gear, get my weight under control, and look to make 2016 a healthier year then the one that just ended.

I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When 50 Fights Back

I had a plan for 2015. And you know how that tends to go.

When I finished the Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon, I figured, I got this. New PR, feeling great, and I'm ready to tackle SLO Marathon. Took a few days off to recover and then started building up again.

And then March happened. aka, 50 Fights back.

Went into my doctor to get my allergy meds renewed, and instead ended up at the Cardiologists. Doctor didn't like my BP, which led to a EKG, which showed a potential event, which led to a Echo Cardiogram. Having had most of my health issues in my life be self inflicted, and therefore mostly avoidable, being told that I might have had a heart attack, and didn't know it,  was a complete shock.

Who do I tell? Who don't I tell? Who needs to know who do I not want to worry? What if this if for real, do I have to completely change how I live? Can I handle the stress and hours at work? Can I be active and alive? Am I looking at something even more dire? The days in between the first doctor visit and getting to Cedars for a full workup were mostly a blur of stress. Sleep issues, over thinking, creating scenarios, lots of "If... Then's". None of it productive. It would be a massive over statement to say I came face to face with mortality. Nothing that grand or dramatic. I was mostly just confused and my thinking was directionless.

Make a long story short, there was no cardiac event. Cardiologist thinks that as a runner (he actually called me an athlete and I tried to correct him), my resting heart rhythm has a very short alpha/upstroke, but a normal deep beta/downstroke. The EKG read this as potential damage resulting from an event. The subsequent tests and the Echo came back as normal, no damage. So as usual with me, all the over thinking and stress was completely unnecessary.

What was the real impact? The real impact was the addition of new meds to deal with my BP and cholesterol, etc. They have effected my energy levels, left me with some occasional dizziness, and changed how I feel when I run. Net, I can't run like I could just a few months ago.

Took some time off running though March and April, tried to get back out there in May. Didn't feel right, so I shut it down again, and here in July I'm getting back on my feet. Now 5K's feel like half marathons, and 10K's like ultras. My split times are two and three minutes slower, and my recovery time is longer. So it's going to be a long process getting back to where I want to be.

I missed SLO, and I'm not running SF Marathon this month. I'm only running two to three times a week right now, and I haven't tired a long slow run yet. I'm signed up for Chicago in the fall, but I'm not sure I'm going to get there yet.

What I've learned about this is that age is in fact not just a number. As I get a little older, there are going to be changes in my health that I need to adjust too. I need to stay active, but I need to pay attention to what I'm feeling. I need to not over react (big news there) and stress about every little thing. I need to be willing to change, but not give up. To adjust without surrendering. I need to take care of myself, in all of the different ways that means.

And hopefully through it all, I need to #Keeprunning.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Race Recap: A1A Marathon

Publix Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon!

Round about 6 months back, someone reached out to me on Twitter about a “Running Cruise”. Big group, meeting in Fort Lauderdale, run the A1A Marathon, and then get on the Regal Princess, cruise the islands, with shorter 5 and 10k runs at the island stops.

What could be better then that? Already planning on the San Luis Obisbo Marathon in April, I figured, what the f*ck. I’ll be training, I’ll ramp up sooner, and this should be a total blast.

Left work a few days early and headed to Lauderdale.  Good chance to see my father and not be arriving last minute for the race. No way I’ll ever want to sleep on that single bed in my dad’s guest room again, but that’s another story.

Having lived in Broward near Lauderdale for 10 years, it was with no small sense of déjà vu that I headed over to the hotel. Broward Blvd and the Broward Center, Las Olas, A1A, the beach and hotels, all were places that I’d spent quite a bit of time, but hadn’t really been too in a decade.

The hotels haven’t changed. Still over priced and under serviced. Still poorly maintained and barely adequate. If you want a great vacation experience with healthy food and wonderful service, Fort Lauderdale Beach is not the place to look. But I just wanted a room near the finish line so I could collapse and shower after the run. Baia Mar checked that box. Found the room, found some food (a poor excuse for fish tacos) and got my gear laid out and got some sleep Saturday night.

Sunday morning came right away, and like all race days, you’re up an hour before the alarm goes off at 4am. As the finish line was being set out front of the hotel, we all waited in line for the shuttle bus to the start line over on the other side of the intracoastal. I got their early enough that I only had to wait for one batch of busses. Others who were just a little later on told of really really long lines, and arriving at the start right at the gun.

Got to the start line and searched out the 4:45 pace group. Figured that was my best bet, and it was lead by an amazing lady named Maria. The A1A Marathon was her 300th, and between her stories and the bunny ears, I kinda thought it could be a great distraction for the later stages in the race. One note. Don’t count on getting to a porta potty at the A1A. There were all of like 20 of them for 5000 people at the start line.

So the gun went off right on time at 6, and our little 4:45 group crossed the start about 5 minutes after the gun. Heading east, we crossed back over the intracoastal just as the sun was rising and turned north up A1A along the beach. Maria and the group were everything I’d hoped, and the first few miles flew by almost unnoticed.

The only real challenge with the A1A marathon is the combo start for the full and half. The first 6 or 8 miles are pretty congested, and even at my slow pace I had to dodge traffic quite a bit in the beginning. As a result, maybe 6 miles in I saw a crease in the traffic and pulled a little ahead of my 4:45 pace group to get into clean air. The quicker pace felt pretty good, and I planned on keeping it up a mile or two and then drifting back to the group.

Well, that didn’t happen. Maybe the extra training I had done, maybe the flat course, maybe just the cool temps and the familiar landscape, I just kept on moving. By mile 8 I’d lost site of the 4:45 group behind me and was ticking off miles more in the 10:20 to 10:30 range. The Half Marathoners split off right around there and those of us in the full had the road to ourselves.

Splitting away from the beach, we tracked our way up through the familiar streets and neigborhoods. Past Oakalnd Park Blvd and Commercial, past the bars and restaurants, the retirees and vacationers. By the 13.1 point, I was pacing closer to 10:00/mile. Having only half way to go, I experimented with the pace a bit and picked it up towards 9:45 splits. This took me most of the way to the tour of the neighborhoods of North Lauderdale as we looped around and headed back south down the beach, less then 10 miles to go.

One of the really nice things about the A1A are the volunteers. Every hydration station and aid station was well staffed. Everyone was smiling, every one had a choice of water or Gatorade, quite a few had Cliff shots or a treat. For me the Gatorade went in and the water went over my head. It was not so cool anymore by 8:30 or 9AM.

The next 4 or 5 miles went really quickly, the wide flat track we were on didn’t give much resistance and as I passed 3 hours, I had a really good feeling I could kill my best time. My splits were drifting down into the 9:30 range, pretty much unheard of in my world!

The last 10K along the beach was hot.  Out of the shade, with the Atlantic Ocean on our left, and the hotels rising again on our right. It’s a great feeling when you’re that late in the race, still feeling pretty strong, keeping your splits consistent and knowing you’ve got a great shot at a PR.

The last mile or two the crowd grew, and the other finishers were gathering to rest, re count and cheer on the remaining runners. I got to the finish in one piece, looked at the clock, and was almost shocked. Pretty close to negative splits through the race, at least until mile 20, and then I gave a little back. Still 4:25 is 19 minutes of my previous best, and not something I would have expected to run!

Boring Details:

Official Time: 4:25:23
Official Pace: 10:08
Official Place: 409
Age Group: 32/52