Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Sack of Hair-Mail

I finally did it. The marathon in my past, I cut off my hair again. I'm no longer like that dog from the Looney Tunes with the hair over his eyes.

(You know, the shaggy sheepdog who keeps foiling Wile E. Coyote from kidnapping the sheep. By the way, if I was that coyote, I'd seriously consider switching from Acme to another company to supply my rocket-skates and the like. I hope Acme has a good product-liability attorney. Wile E. could make serious bank if he found a good trial lawyer.)

Anyway, thanks again to all who sent congratulatory e-mails to Ken and me after finishing the race on Saturday. I can't run all of them, but here's two of the best:


Ken and Jonathan,


As webmaster and grizzled vet of the Big Sur Marathon, I have followed your blog entries and columns with keen interest. You two are living proof that a couple of normal guys can run a marathon. Running a marathon is a life changing experience which is within reach of most people.

I began running 19 years ago, motivated by being dangerously close to 40 years of age and 200 pounds. I didn't start running to become an "athlete". I started running because I didn't like what I saw in the mirror. I dropped 30 pounds during training for the first Big Sur Marathon and I've kept it off since then.

Actually, the mathematics of calories is pretty compelling:
-- you burn about 100 calories per mile running, it hardly matters what pace you run
-- to lose one pound of fat you need to burn off 3500 calories
I run an average of 35 miles a week, year round. You do the math :-)... that's one pound of fat burning per week, year round!

Even running just 17 miles a week will burn 1/2 a pound per week year round = 26 pounds per year!

So I started with a focus on calories as my motivation. What I ended up with was a life changing experience. As a computer programmer I was sedentary and lived mostly within the screen of my computer. Now I get outside almost every day for a run. I enjoy feeling the weather and sharing the long runs with my friends.

You have probably surmised that I am passionate about the Big Sur Marathon and participating as a volunteer for the organization that presents the marathon.

I have one parting suggestion which may sound silly but it has worked for me for the last 19 years. Buy and wear Big Sur Marathon shirts, jackets, hats, etc. I wear them daily as a reminder and an affirmation. I am very proud of being a Big Sur Marathoner. Think of yourselves as marathoners.  You deserve it!


Tom Rolander
BSIM Webmaster
BSIM Grizzled Vet

Hi Jon,

Congratulations on your race --- you're AWESOME!!

I'm still on a post-marathon cloud. I actually ran it and finished!! Last Friday, 2 days before the race I had a sore throat and fever. After training and overcoming so many obstacles, I couldn't believe I'd be stoppedat the very end. I don't think I've ever felt so much disappointment in my life as I did at the thought of giving up this marathon.

I went to see a doctor Friday afternoon. After examining me, I asked him what he thought would or could happen if I went ahead and ran the marathon. He said I'd probably be sicker, but not REALLY sick. I was concerned about setting myself up for pneumonia, etc., and he readily shook his head no about that.

Sooooo . . . . I found myself literally running and laughing out his office door--- I WAS GOING TO THE MARATHON!!!! Felt SO much joy in making that decision. By Saturday I was on the mend.

My goal of doing a 4:30 to 5 hour marathon was dropped, and the plan was to run conservatively enough to be able to finish, and do it as comfortably as I could.

And boy, that's just what I did: I finished in 6 HOURS!!

It would have been nice to finish under 5 1/2 hours, but when it was clear I wasn't going to do that, I just resigned myself.

Now I'm walking around, hugging the biggest most wonderful secret inside----- "Psst! Hey, I did the Big Sur Marathon!!"
But wow, look at YOU. You creamed me!! Great job!!


Some remembered moments--

-- Wondering if I'd ever get my turn in the porta-potty before the gun went off. I ended up with just 7 minutes to spare.

-- Getting choked up when the white doves were released. I had REALLY made it to the start of the Big Sur marathon. Pinch me!

-- Counting the number of men stopping by the side of the road briefly at the view.

-- Feeling empowered when I saw one woman had stopped to go, out in the open. (Hey yeah, guys, we can do it too!! )

-- Thrilled to realize I was actually seeing THE Jon Segal running by me!
You passed me and I kept you in sight for about 2 miles, but you moved ahead in the wave of runners when I stopped at an aid station. I regret not talking to you, Jon. I got hit with a big case of shyness, and was trying to get my nerve up, but you were gone. But hey, I did get to see that famous hair, and that was great!

-- Miles 10-14 were my favorites.
I know, I know, half of that was up to Hurricane Point. It's crazy, but I loved it. (I did train on lots of hills.) And it was a magical moment on the downhill when the piano music could be heard.

-- Was it just a myth or was there really Gu at the aid stations? I never came across any. Quite understandable, I guess, as I was in the back of the pack. Anyway, by halfway through the race I found myself scanning the empty Gu packets littering the pavement, hoping I would score a full packet. No such luck. I just had to laugh that I was getting so desperate.

-- Noticing around miles 16-17 how the medical guys on bikes appeared to be starting to circle me like vultures. I must have looked worse than I was feeling, so I put my shoulders back, started beaming big smiles and pretended to look like what I thought a healthy marathon runner should look like. They eventually seemed to lose interest and moved on.

-- The sight of the marathon finish sign above the highway. It wasn't the main official big blow-up finish line most others got to go under, but it WAS the finish line and after six hours, it was joyous to pass under it.
Sorry this is getting so long, but I wanted to suggest a challenge you might want to do sometime, if you haven't already.
Hiking to Halfdome in Yosemite and going up the cables to the top. I did that last year and it was a great experience. Late May/early June is a good time because there are fewer people, it's not too hot, and there's still lots of water flowing.

Before doing this marathon, I'd planned on it being the last one I ever do in my life. I can't believe it, but I realize I want to sign up for it again! Maybe the delirium will pass, but I don't think so.

Thanks again for your running blog. Loved it!

M - Los Gatos

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Marathon Flashbacks or The Fog of Sur

I wonder how many people have trouble remembering the details of race day?

For me, Sunday is immersed in the soup of memory like a good night of drinking. Little details are emerging over time: some stuff comes back in drips, clips, fragments, like the race was a waking dream. But much of the desperate hours from miles 18-26 remain bathed in darkness.

So it was that I was driving to work today and had a vivid memory. It must have been somewhere around Mile 18 or so, because I was getting a drink from an aid station (my on-board bottle of Gatorade must have been empty, and I still was running.)

I had grabbed a cup of water and gulped down part of it. Running by a trash can, it had enough weight in the bottom that I felt I could make a clean toss, Kareem-style, into the bin. So I threw it. It sailed in a clean arc, through the air, almost in slow motion like one of those floating objects featured so prominently in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Then, it started tumbling toward Earth. Down, down, down, the cup went, little drops of liquid splashing to the edges.

That's when I saw her: the teenage volunteer in the expensive-looking black coat. I wanted to yell, watch out, but somehow the words couldn't escape from my mouth. It hit, with 5 oz. or so of water splashing on her coat and down her neck on a 55-degree mornining.

"Oh my gawd!" she exclaimed.
"I'm sorry," I said, as I kept shuffling by.
"Oh my gawd," she said, an amazed but angry expression spreading on her face. "I can't believe this,"

And then, I was gone. And so was she. Until this morning.

Speaking of memories, I've received my marathon pics by email from marathonfoto. Here's a link.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Shout outs

Well, it's day three.

The first two days, I was walking a little like Igor. (Yeass, master, would you like me to fetch you a leg from a corpse?) Now, I'm back at work and nearly back to my old, lumbering self after a couple days of recuperation and re-loading of carbohydrates.

I fear the inevitable letdown will come, so for today, I'll fill myself with good feelings, remembering everyone who supported the tubby twosome. If you don't like the speeches at the Oscars, then I suggest linking somewhere else now.

First of all, big thanks to the Big Sur International Marathon for doing a great job with the race, giving this blog a link on their homepage and being very friendly, supportive and well organized. If you run one marathon in your life, it should be Big Sur.

Word to Mike Dove, winner of the 55-59 age division Sunday with a 3:08. This Donald Sutherland-looking dude, the director of BSIM training clinics, has been a resource and help to me, Kenny and hundreds of others who've made Big Sur their first big race. His training clinics will help anyone from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties make it to the starting line and across the finish.

Big props to The Monterey County Herald who offered Ken and I this forum and a weekly column to share our whining with the world. The indulgence of editors Mike Hale, Royal Calkins and Carolina Garcia have made it a pleasure to try to do this right. Sports editor Dave Kellogg, who finished with a 4:47 Sunday, used his formidable endurance to edit our columns even as deadlines approached. Lisa Mitchell, tech goddess and copy editor, kept the code flowing even when it was snowing, hyper-style.

On the Internet, all the other bloggers out there who gave us links and advice, especially intense Derek Rose, the very funny Naomi, and the inspirational Dianna. All three of these guys are worth reading on a regular basis, especially if you're serious about running, or laughing. Very special electronic accolades to my own personal online running guru Chelle, whose intelligence and running knowledge have provided the answers to many of my training questions.

My friends here rocked on Sunday and out-of-towners rocked all through expressing their disbelief and positive thoughts. Obviously, I must thank my family, my mom for telling me to pace myself and take it easy and saying that whatever I had done already was enough to satisfy her. My dad, for dispensing diagnoses over the phone and supporty in person. Especially my sister, who in many ways inspired and urged me to do this with her grace and poise and lightening-fast times. She's the seven-minute to my 11. And, of course, I have to thank my special lady, or lady friend, who was woken up at 6 a.m. on countless mornings to me putting on tights and bodyglide and slipping out into the rain or cold or whatnot. She rocks.

No, wait, stop the music, I'm not done yet. Why are these seven-foot-tall models dragging me off the stage. OUCH! Watch it with the cattle prods. Don't go to commerci...

Monday, April 25, 2005

A big thanks

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everybody who supported me through my journey to conquer Big Sur. A special thanks goes out to the many people out on the course Sunday. Those that had followed the blog and/or articles and came up to wish me good luck. Throughout the 26.2 jaunt, I was constantly recognized and encouraged and I can't express my graditude enough. It truly was a special day and though I went my share of pain and agony, I believe it was worth it.
I hope this blog was of some use and entertainment. It has been fun to share my thoughts and feelings and to have so many of you guys out there respond in kind. To those that shared my fate at Big Sur and to all that have fulfilled similiar quests, WE DID IT. And to future marathoners or runners alike, YOU CAN DO IT.
Hell, if someone like me can, anybody can.

Again, thank you.

Ken Ottmar

Sore and Lazy

Well, the morning after is here.

I'm not as sore as I imagined I would be, which is to say that I was able to go out for a walk this morning, hoping to stop at my neighborhood bakery and pick up those much-needed recovery foods: an apple danish and a chocolate-chip cookie. The bakery was closed. Maybe it's a sign, but somehow I doubt it.

Over the next few days, I'll dissect the race and muse on what comes next and have a chance to give some much-deserved shout-outs to those who've helped me along the way. But today, I'm feeling lazy. (For a change, right?)

Luckily, when I opened up Today's Monterey Herald, I was greeted by my column about running the marathon. I don't remember writing it, but it's under my byline, so I must have done it, right?

It's a harrowing tale with a heart-warming ending that's sure to put a tear to your eye and a smile on your face. Or give you something to print out and put down on the floor to housebreak your puppy with.

For those of you who prefer tragedy to triumph, Kenny's account s available by clicking here.

Also, Herald Sports Editor Dave Kellogg, the old guy (actually 47) who I ran Hurricane Point with two weeks ago, finished in 4:47 hours. I guess age really does come before beauty!

Once again:

My (Segal) race report avalable by clicking here.

Kenny race report available by clicking here.

Complete Big Sur International Marathon coverage available by clicking here.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Its over thank god its over

26.2 MILES6;06.41Big Sur what else?13:59 per mile YIKES

It was the most painful experience of my life. Kind of like giving birth, I imagine. I had to walk the last 8 miles, my legs were toast. Read the story in Monday's paper or go online to It will be up on the website Monday afternoon.

At least I finished. But thank the almighty, it is over.


26.2 mi. !!!5:06:44 hrs./mins.Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, to Rio Road, Carmel 11:42 mins./mi.

Well, it's over. Kenny finished in 6:06. It was really hard, harder than I would have believed had anyone told me. A marathon is not a thing to be trifled with, especially one as rugged as Big Sur. With support from my fellow runners, visions of my family and friends at the finish, a willingness to walk and a determination not to quit, I got through, finishing before the course closed, and coming in 2492 out of 2871 finishers. (Gun time was 5:09).

Here are the numbers, you can tell what happened. I'll tell the tale later, after a dip in the soothing waters of the Pacific, pizza, beer and a good night's rest.

Mile 1: 10:10
Mile 2: 10:44
Mile 3: 10:22
Mile 4: 10:27
Mile 5: 10:41
Mile 6: 10:45
Mile 7: 10:42
Mile 8: 10:51
Mile 9: 11:09
Mile 10: 10:30
Mile 11 (Hurricane Pt. part 1): 13:21
Mile 12 (Hurricane Pt. part 2) 12:40
Mile 13: 9:40
Mile 14: 10:42
Mile 15: 11:20
Mile 16: 11:42
Mile 17: 10:44
Mile 18: 13:01
Mile 19: 12:17
Mile 20: 12:46
Mile 21: 10:58
Mile 22: 15:55
Mile 23: 12:54
Mile 24: 14:16
Mile 25: 12:04
Mile 26: 14:01
Mile 26.2: 1:52 (Back on Pace!)

Time for the pizza and the beer.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


10,00036 hoursHand-Mouth-Esophagus-Gut-Legs?1 pancake/hr.

I might not be the fastest runner, but when it comes to carb-loading, I've got game. Rice. Pasta. Pancakes. Fried calamari. Fried calamari? Well, it was in the way of some other stuff, so down the hatch it went. Gobble, gobble, gurp.

I hope I haven't done too good a job with the loading. I'm so full, you could roll me down the back side of Hurricane Point. But I plan to taper my intake for the rest of the day. You heard it here first: I will not eat another side of beef before the race. I swear.

Today's Herald included final columns from Kenny and I, but they aren't online, so I'll have to post them here in their entirety for a little bedtime reading.



I liken the Big Sur International Marathon to the coming of Haley's comet. Measured in days, instead of years.
For a long while now, it seemed Big Sur was just barely a blip on the screen, a distant haze often lost in the quagmire of events that make up my life. I knew it was coming and yet it always seemed as though it was still a ways off.
Well, the time has come, hasn't it?
Now, in the final few days before the big event arrives, I cannot help but reflect on how the past five months of preparation has really altered the course of my life. And not just in that five-month period, but rather, I believe, for years to come.
I don't want to get too philosophical. I realized long before I made the decision that ordinary, everyday people run Big Sur. That is not meant to diminish the accomplishment, it's significant. But it's not like discovering a cure for the common cold.
However, discovery is probably the best way to describe the process. And that discovery is as individual as a fingerprint.
What I discovered about myself is that I am not the man I often go to bed dreaming about. I am not as strong as I have probably portrayed myself. I am not as dashingly handsome as you may have been led to believe. I am not overly witty, nor have I written any books on the New York Times bestsellers list.
I don't make a lot of money. And no matter what you think of journalists, it is not all Pulitzers and investigations. It's not the A's, Giants or 49ers. It is a job. Not all that different from yours, probably.
I have also discovered that there really is no way to get out of a commitment. I was told by my father that a person is only as good as his word. From that, I have gained one true insight: say what you do and always do what you say.
Last November, I said I was going to run the Big Sur International Marathon. On more than one occasion, I schemed desperately for a way to wiggle out of that. I cannot adequately tell you how completely happy I am that I ignored such thoughts.
I really can’t emphasize this enough. I have yet to run even 10 yards at Big Sur, and still I feel as though the toughest challenge is behind me. I’ve been on a high this week and it is amazing how truly inspired I feel.
I suppose I could wax poetic about inspiration. But that would be overkill. If you know anything about marathons, you know that much of it is accomplished on inspiration alone.
And it is nothing new. Every marathoner tells you about the highs of running. Every marathoner has a story about why he or she did it. Every marathoner finds success, finds tranquility, finds, well, inspiration.
But lost in that, I've discovered, is what lies beyond. Sure, I was inspired. First to train for the marathon, now to actually run it. Yet, on the verge of both accomplishments, I ask, what am I inspired to do next?
Should I climb a mountain, train for a triathlon, learn a new language or finally finish one of 10 screenplays that I have partially written? Should I actually eat a more healthy diet, wash my car on a regular basis, wear better clothes to work or clean the bathrooms?
This is what I love best about a marathon. You begin with one mile. Before long you are doing 10. And then 15. Finally, you reach 26.2. And then you can say, hey, I ran a marathon.
I think that is a great analogy for life. It is not necessarily what you have done, but what more can you do.
Again, you don't have to run a marathon to know this. But for dummies like me, it certainly has clarified things.
And even if, God forbid, I don't finish all 26.2 miles on Sunday, I will know that, at the very least, I stepped forward. I did more than I had before. And I know I can do even more down the line.
The time for that certainly has come.



I'm drowning in running.
Sunday's Big Sur Marathon dominates my thoughts. I've taken to wearing my sweatband around the office now.
Everytime I put a morsel of something in my mouth, all I think about is how it might help or hinder my performance on race day. Between the columns and the online training diary and my own random inner musings, running is pretty much all I'm writing about right now. Since others at work are running the marathon, walking the marathon, or running the marathon relay, running is the buzz of our little newsroom.
Even religion has taken a back seat to the big run.
The marathon is on the first full day of Passover, a Jewish holiday commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. Usually, I'd spend Saturday night drinking sugary wine and eating matzo, an unleavened cracker known otherwise as "the bread of affliction." (Hint: the affliction is constipation.)
I'm not sure what it would do to show up at the starting line with a belly full of unleavened bread, kosher wine and pulverized fish, so I'll be forgoing the first days of Passover this year. It makes me a little nervous because it seems to me that any normal person would want the deity in his corner when he's about to run 26.2 miles along coastal cliffs. Then again, maybe the lord will shine on me as I reenact the Israelites' dash from slavery, although I don't know for sure if my ancient ancestors wore spandex.
If I'm willing to brush off 3,000 years of tradition to run this race, it's a fair bet that many other facets of my life have fallen by the wayside. Relationships have suffered. My golf handicap has ballooned. I've missed movies I wanted to see. And beer -- sweet sweet beer -- soon we will be together again.
But for now, the other stuff in my life is left playing second banana like Jan Brady to big sister Marcia. Like the Brady clan's whiny middle child, everything else cries out for attention when faced with the same old refrain: marathon, marathon, marathon!
Maybe that's the way it should be. The marathon demands it.
It's been 577 miles and almost six months since I declared to myself that I would run Sunday's Big Sur International Marathon. That's almost from here to L.A. and back. It's a one-way trip to Vegas. I've run on treadmill and trail, in the morning gloom and the dark of night, on 17-Mile Drive and Fremont Boulevard, in sun and rain. All to get myself ready to line up at the start Sunday.
A lot of the time, people express shock or admiration when told of my marathon quest.
"I couldn't run 26 miles. I can't even run three," they say in the common reaction. "You're awesome. (Crazy.)"
I enjoy adulation as much the next guy, maybe a little more. But the accolades are misplaced. I'm no athlete, but this is something I can do. Something I believe anyone can do.
I'm ready for the run. It's not the shoes. It's not because I'm talented or especially athletic. It's because I got off my butt and ran the miles.

Friday, April 22, 2005

It takes two

2 mi.18:47Lovers Point <-> Monterey Bay Aquarium9:23 mins./mi.

And so, last night after work as the sky changed from blue to yellow to orange over the sea, the training ended. It was a two-miler on a path I've gotten to know intimately in the last five months.

I ran tall with my head up, trying to block out any yips of pain from my legs. If you don't listen for the yips, maybe you won't go to the dogs. The training is now over. The loin left to gird is my brain.

The ingrown nail is healing, thanks to some self-surgery and anti-bacterial ointment. I'm drinking water and adding a couple of slices of bread to each meal. I'll be fully loaded by Sunday morning, guaranteed.

Two miles. Two days. Two legs. Two bloggers. Two decades of the Big Sur Marathon. Do the best things come in pairs.

Speaking of pears, isn't it time to eat something?

Dragging out the Friday Sack (self adulation edition)

It's Friday. You don't got no job (okay, well maybe you do.). You don't got poop to do. I'm going to get you reading... the fat Friday sack.

This week, people wrote with compliments and good luck. I just want to share the sunshine. So let the sun shine in. It is, truly, the dawning of the Age of Aquariums.

Without further delay, here's the mail:

Dear Jon:

I found your blog through "running chick with the orange hat" last Thursday, and today I caught up with the final installments. I am training for a half marathon, and can't run over 4 miles without thinking I might just die a horrible wheezing side of the road death. I use peas on the pain, I pop Advil like it's my job.

I spend most of the time thinking about excuses to not run, or reasons why running is the answer to all of life's problems. I know if I just put the spandex on, the motivation will be there, I hope, but instead of jumping into them (another story, involving baby powder and olive oil) I validate a reason to not run. Then, on Thursday, I read your blog. I ran 3 miles Thursday, 2.5 on Friday and 4 on Saturday, because if you can run 26.2, I can run 13.1.

Keeping my fingers crossed for you, and my eyes closed, just in case you do that weird shirt thing you did on the Carlsbad 1/2 marathon!

(is it weird to email someone whose blog you've been reading? I feel a little voyeuristic)

Portland, Maine


I've been enjoying your blogs over the last few months. As a fellow Minnesotan I can't help but hope you do well (BTW - I consider finishing as my definition of “doing well). I'll be flying in on Friday to run the big race with you (my 2nd time doing BS) -- then it's off to Esalen for a few days of RnR.

Kick some ass and make us all proud back here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Good Luck,

Chris Krull

P.S. Maybe you should come home and run Twin Cities in the fall, especially since after running Big Sur you will be a man among men -- Women will throw themselves at you -- children will ask for your autograph -- people will clear the way when you enter a room. Seriously, Big Sur is not a race for the weak -- it takes a lot of guts to do it as your first marathon. It’s admirable.

To Kenny and Jon:

I have been training for the Big Sur race since I ran the Big Sur Half Marathon in October of 2004. It has been a long and sometimes painful haul. One of the things that has kept me going is your blog. It is pretty funny and I can relate to many of your pains. Every time I feel tired or lazy, I would boot up the web and read about your trials and tribulations.
This would give me the incentive I needed to complete my scheduled runs. It was amazing to see your transformation from coach potatoes to marathon runners. I know you can both complete it.
Big Sur was going to be my first and only marathon, but last month I ran the Napa marathon just to see if I was able to make it. I did and it was an amazing feeling to achieve that goal. When it gets tough out there, and it will, just hang in there and you will finish it.
Ken, no matter what, you have got to finish. The last thing you need if for Jonathan to "hog the blog" and be the only one with bragging rights. And Jon, please, please, please, no more photos please :-).
Hopefully I will see you folks out there. Take care and good luck,



Just wanted to say good luck for Sunday. I ran London last Sunday and I won’t pretend it was anything but incredibly hard for the last 5 miles or so. I hated those miles and I just felt drained afterwards. And that's a flat course. But you know what pain and extreme effort are like, to have come this far. Four days later, my legs are almost recovered and I'm basking in a warm glow that will last for even longer. So I just hope on Sunday that you are able to enjoy the good bits, survive the bad bits, and make it to the other side.

All the best


Hi Jon,

Yes, I'm ready for the marathon. Can't bear the suspense of waiting any longer. Let's get this torture over with!!

I actually just got back today from driving the marathon course. I found myself so curious about it, and had to drive down and take a look.

Wow, it's a loooong ways!! Eeeek!

I'd visualized the climb up to Hurricane Point pretty accurately, but I did GASP at one of the long hills further along. I'm feeling a bit psyched out about that one because I'll be getting so tired by that point. Loud whimpering will be heard for sure. But I'm really glad I went to take a look, so I know better what to expect.

Have found your writing so entertaining. As a fellow masochist going through it too, I can really identify.

Reading about your longest 21-24 mile run ended up having an influence on my longest run, and I really THANK YOU! I started to come down with a cold when you did that run. For me, the last long one seems so critical (mentally) to complete. Once done, the training pressure is over. But I couldn't risk doing the 20 miles, because I’d likely end up with a hideous full blown cold. Had to give up on it. I was feeling so ENVIOUS of you that you'd completed your longest one.

Anyway, 3 days later the cold symptoms had receded enough, and I decided to go for it. It went just fine. Fortunately the cold did not come back on me. I really needed the confidence of doing it, so I was really happy. My envy of your success egged me on. Many thanks!

Warm wishes for a great experience,


Hi Jon -

I just wanted to tell you that I have been reading your blog for months and I've loved every minute of it. I especially loved your 10 reasons for running a marathon. Fabulous.

I've finished four marathons (I am a total snail) and let me tell you -- there is nothing so fabulous as the feeling you get when you cross the finish line for the first time. The other three were awesome too, but the first one was magical. All the pain will be worth it, I promise.

I've coached for Team In Training and they've been warning us for years about the dangers of hyponatremia. Here are a couple tips:

*Don't take Advil/Motrin 24 hours before or during the marathon. Switch to Tylenol 8-hour or something similar which is less likely to interfere with your electrolyte balance. I am a big fan of 8-hour and tend to take it right at the halfway point of the marathon, it eases some of the aches right away and holds off the worst pain towards the end.

*Go to a fast food joint and snag some little salt packets. They are easy to carry with you on race day and you can eat them during your run to boost your salt intake. The best method is to lick your hand, sprinkle it with the salt packet and then lick it off. Yeah, it's gross, but it works. If you start to feel water sloshing around in your stomach while you run, your salt may be off --- so eat the packet.

*As soon as you can after crossing the finish line eat some protein. Like Power Bar Plus or some kind of protein gel. (Carb-boom makes it and you can probably get it at the expo) 10g at least in the first 1/2 hour after your finish and then another shot of about that much an hour later. It'll make your legs feel a lot better the next day. Seriously, load up on the protein ASAP.

I can't wait to hear how everything goes, but I'm sure you'll do great!

Best of luck to you and to Ken-


Hi there,

I just wanted to thank you both for your entertaining blogs over the last few months....I've enjoyed reading them and comparing training highs and lows! I'm also running the marathon Sunday (Yikes!) - I've done it before in my youth but that was 15 years ago and I am a bit nervous to say the least. It has not been the ideal training program - working shift work, a few lousy colds and the flu, minor injuries, but I plan to be there at the back of the pack Sunday with the goal of just finishing! I'm running with a much younger and stronger coworker of mine who has never done a marathon so it should be fun!

Best of luck to you both....Ken, my only advice would be to think positive and start slow, walk a few hills if you need to...I took short walking breaks at the aid stations in all 4 of the previous BSIM's I ran and it seemed to help. Jonathan, can't wait to see the hair! Thanks for the witty blogs!


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Feeding and bleeding

Ladies and gentlemen, the carb-loading has begun in earnest.

Today, thus far, I've consumed a bowl of chex with honey and banana, a glass of grapefruit juice, a bowl of udon noodles with shrimp tempura and a California roll. Fathers, hide your pasta, because I'm coming for it!

When I'm not drowning myself in carbohydrates, I'm worrying about things in general. Of particular worry is a new problem I have with my toe. Like most of the troubles in my life, it's a problem of my own creation.

In the yelllow book given to me by the Big Sur Marathon Training Cult (known vaiously as The Book, The Bible, The Tome or The Necronomecon) it reccommends cutting your nails on the Monday or so before the race. Being a dutiful disciple of the Cult, I cut my toenails and I cut 'em good and short.


Yesterday, my big toe began to itch. Then it began to sting. Then it began to throb. So I took off my shoe. I took off my sock. I dicsovered the problem. There was a little, bleeding cut on the inside edge of my big toe. I have an ingrown toenail. I cut it too short.

Luckily, I have experience with such things. I had a similar malady growing up. It gave my dad, a doctor, an excuse to bring his work home with him and do surgery on me in our bathroom. He brought home some alleged anesthetic spray and four sharp poking tools.

As my mother held me down on the bathroom counter, my dad moved forward with his medieval work. Screams and cries followed as he took the sharp poking tools and wedged them beneath my nail, then shoving a piece of gauze between the nail and the skin. All the while he told me it didn't hurt. Yeah. Right.

So, from then on, I fixed my toes myself. Hopefully, I will heal in time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hairy and Harried

It's an off day for running and I'm having spilkes (pronounced shpillkahs, which is Yiddish for little tiny conniption fits brought on by stress.)

Apparently, my little runs of the last two mornings have prevented the gerbil running around in my head from driving me completely mad with its squeaking and scratching little toes and whatnot. But now, the gerbil's running around at Warp 9 and it's little wheel hasn't been greased for at last a day. Apparently, running was the WD-40 that was keeping the darn thing sedate.

See, when Tubby (that's me, not the fictional brain gerbil) runs a marathon, he has to make it into a big federal case. He's too meglomaniacal to just do what normal people do: train and suffer in silence, triumph on race day and take a quiet pride in accomplishment. Not enough for me.

No, to feed my ego, the only thing more massive than my appetitie for Kraft singles, I have to make a federal case out of it, like I'm the only one who ever ran 26 miles, 385 yards. So I blog. And I write. And I invite all sorts of people from far and wide to come and watch and support me. And now, it's three days before the race and I'm thinking about running, and writing and cleaning and entertaining.

I know for sure I won't have time to get my back waxed before the race. I'm too busy. But you know what? In the immortal words of Alanis, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Run. Tubby. Run.

Getting stronger, building confidence

The knee (knock on wood) is as strong as it has been since the first episode of pain arrived 7 weeks ago. I will now have one more test run (tomorrow) to stretch it out and not go a whole week without some running. I am feeling better and more confident. I have put aside my fear of the hills. It will do me no good to lament about something I enevitably have to face anyways.
Besides, I have received a number of e-mails in support from people who I trust know what they are talking about. I feel like it will still be difficult but I will finish.

We have but three days to go, and things are really starting to move quickly at work. It is becoming a celebration of sorts. More and more people are deciding to show up and watch Segal and I struggle to the end. Oh and my boss too, who has committed as well (he'll finish, he runs like a 9 minute mile pace).

So, I will check in again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Five and counting...

3.8 miles or so37:30Monterey Bay Aquarium down Rec Trail and Backhopefully around 10 mins./mi.

I wish I could say my shinsplints were healed. I wish I could say I won the lottery. I wish I could say I was selected to be the cover man in next year's SI Swimsuit Issue. (I've been working on my washed-up-on-the-beach-tee-shirt glistening-with-water-slight-dusting-of-sand-on-my-back-hair look.)

I could say all that, but that wouldn't get me any closer to the sandy beaches of Aruba. And it wouldn't cure the nagging lower-leg pain. So, I've come to grips with the splints. They will accompany me on race day, and hopefully fade after the first few miles.

I'm a big, tough, extremely hairy guy, so I can take it, I guess. It will just add an extra element to the drama of race day, like a swirl of caramel adds a dimension of, um, silkiness to a ice cream. Mmmmmmm ice cream. I guess I have to take the attitude that pain can be delicious too.

For all you readers who didn't read the heading, there are five days left until the race. For me, that means one more training run (a three-miler on Thursday) and then rest, relaxation, stretching and icing, mental prep, compulsively checking the race-day weather and, my favorite part, carb loading. The surprising thing is that my carb-load routine seems to differ very little from my actual diet. Maybe that should tell me something, but I doubt it.

For those of you who are interested in the weather, here's the link again. Check early, check often, and pray to your gods for aq tail-wind.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A six-day war

3 mi.29:17 mins.PG Track x129:45 mins./mi.

How many times in the last few months have I begun a post with this: I meant to go out for a run this morning, but I guess I'll hit the treadmill tonight.

Well, today, I begin another way: I meant to go to the gym this morning to run, but instead I went outside. I ran three miles, around in circles at the local high school track: dirt on my shoes, sun in my hair and 60-degree air filling my lungs. Fastest lap was Lap 12: 2:16. That's the right way to do it, no?

We have six days left until the marathon. I'm not nervous. Who's nervous? What's there to be nervous about? No sir. No nerves here. No nerves at all. Breath in, breath out. Go to your happy place.

No, seriously, I get to relax at long last.

I get to watch TV. Have you people heard of this reality show thing? It's like TV, only with real people. (Albeit real people with perfect bodies and glistening white smiles with more drama in their lives than the third act of Hamlet.)

I get to load up on carbs. Take that, Dr. Atkins, I will bury you in a sea of sushi and leave you sinking in a passel of pasta.

I have two more training runs, and then the marathon. And I can't flippin' wait.

Ice and Rest (and still scared)

My legs hurt. My knee hurts. And I'm still very much afraid of the Big Sur Marathon.
I have been icing down my lower half, constantly. It's a beautiful thing. I got an e-mail from a lady in Denver about how some races run out of the GU and other various revitilization stuff they provide. She had heard a rumor that the faster runners take more than they need and by the time the slower runners, such as myself, make it to the aid stations, all the good stuff is gone.
That better not be the case. I can't think of anything worse than runners who know they will make it hogging the stuff that may make the difference with runners who may not make it.
Anyways, six days to go. I doubt I will hit the road again for any more runs. I would rather keep my legs rested and refreshed. I shall revisit this on Wednesday and make a final decision.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

One week left...

8.51:30:37 Monterey Bay Aquarium <-> Asilomar 10:37

How much duct tape will it take to keep it together down the home stretch?

It didn't feel like I was running a 10:40 pace on yesterday's run as I kept telling myself, take it easy big fella, take it easy, take it easy. I never thought anybody would have to tell me to take it easy, even myself. Taking it easy is one of the things I do best. In college "easy" was my middle name.

Okay, my middle name is Louis (which for some reason, I think, is cooler than Lewis) but still...

With a few days left, I'm making preparations. I bought a sweatbands yesterday, in black and white, since I've decided that I want to keep my "Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall" hair after feeling my sweaty locks swish on my head.

In other news, I think I fought off a nascent (possibly psycho-somatic) cold. My shin still hurts, and, if that weren't enough, an old friend seemed to come back yesterday. Yes, playing a limited engagement, back by popular demand, it's the tendinitis in my (right) toe!

Ladies and gentlemen, we'll be here all week. Enjoy the buffet and pass the duct tape.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A double edge sword (or why I shouldn't have driven Hurricane point)

16.3 MILES3:01.23My house, along bike trail, past Aquarium, past Lovers, past PG Golf course, turned around returned to Lexus dealership where I called wife and had her pick me up11:08.10

I began my day by going to the Treadmill to pick up some GU and various items. I got there at 9:20 a.m. only to discovered it didn't open until 10 a.m. So, since I was already at the finish line (Crossroads), I decided to drive down the coast and check out the route. What a big mistake that was. If I wasn't already in fear of the hills, I am now petrified. I don't think the first 9 miles will be that difficult. The final 17 will pure hell. It isn't just Hurricane Point. There are a number of steep hills afterwards. Hills that I know I can't run very well. And I can only imagine the type of pain and suffering I will be feeling if I actually make it that far. Why couldn't I have chosen a flatter marathon? I truly believe if this marathon was flat I would have no problem finishing. But the sight of those hills has shaken my confidence to the core. Almost to the point that I contemplated driving off one of the cliffs and ending it all then. If only I hadn't put myself on the hook.

That said, I got home around 10:30, stretched and set out for my longest run to date. Many people warned me that I shouldn't try to push it one week before the marathon. Maybe not, but I needed to test myself somewhat. I needed to see how I will feel at mile 16.
So, off I went. My knee is still somewhat fragile and through the first five miles I felt OK. Then, around mile six, my knee started to hurt. Cursing because I felt if this happens on race day I am toast, I pushed through the pain. At mile 8, the pain subsided, at Mile 9 it was gone, though tender. I turned around then and headed back towards Seaside. Around mile 11, I began to get real hungry. This has been my routine. I had already downed two GU packs and decided to finish off the third and last. It didn't help much.
At mile 13 I became light headed. I kept drinking water and splashing some on my face. My time slowed but I didn't care. My legs began to tire somewhat but I kept pushing. At mile 14, I was really begininng to tire out. I kept pushing. At mile 16 I decided that might be enough. I called my wife and jogged maybe a half mile further before she picked me up.

So here's what I think. There is no doubt I am in trouble. My hope is that there will be fruit and better revitilizing stuff at the aid stations. I feel like if I can not get so hungry and so light headed, I may have a chance. The reality, though, is that I had trouble with 16.3 today and ran a very flat route. I have seen what awaits me and I am very afraid.

Everybody says the race atmosphere will push you through the tough spots. I have been relying on that since the turn of the year. I know that I did not put in enough miles through my training. But I cannot quit. I know this. Better to collapse on the course than to not show up. Maybe something miraculous will occur. Maybe some divine intervention will carry me to the finish. Maybe....

Friday, April 15, 2005

Oh, what's that? It's the Friday sack!

This week we hear from Garbriella, belissima from Italy, and San Francisco runner Alyssa.

Hi Jonathan!

I'm Gabriella and I'm writing from Italy (so I'm sorry for my bad English), I found your blog because I read about that on an Italian newspaper of running.
I can understand what you and Ken are passing through because last year I had this insane idea to get ready for a marathon, the one I had been dreaming to run since years, the New York City marathon. All my friends was thinking I was crazy but I wanted to prove to everybody and to myself that if I really want it, with the right training, also a normal girl like me could run a MARATHON.
So I did it, I trained for 9 months and at the end I run the Ing NYC Marathon, 9 months just like having a baby and it was like having a baby! Very painfull but an unique experience! At the arrive I also cryed, you know after much effort I had reach my purpose, finally I got the medal! It was an unforgettable day…
Now I'm still running, I can'tstop, and maybe this will happen to you, too. I hope so, because so then you will keep on writing on your blog and I can keep on reading it!
I'm sure you will be great on the Big Sur Marathon, because you want it, and that's all.

good luck for the marathon,


Taste your pain?
I'm living it.
Big Sur was my first marathon, and it was quite the first marathon to do. I had friends who would ask me if I wanted to do my first marathon on such a difficult course, and my response would be "26.2 miles is going to kill me no matter what, so I may as well kill myself while enjoying good scenery."
The low point: Hitting the last hill right around mile 25, a short but steep one. After running for 25 miles, with the previous 9 into a headwind, it was all I could do to not sit down and cry.
The high point: Finishing. And deciding that was kinda fun, and I wanted to do it again.
It was the most physically challenging thing I had done, but I totally loved it. I was cruising on that runner's high for days, even if I spent the first 3 of those days doing the post-marathon Frankenstein shuffle, and walking up stairs and curbs backwards. I didn't learn my lesson though, and did it 2 more times. I'm training (kinda, in my best gimpy way) for my 4th try at Big Sur.
I'm totally whacked in the head, I know. But I guess it takes a little bit of that to want to run 26.2 miles. In one day.

Good luck to you and Ken!
- Alyssa

You can check out Alyssa's blog about her training by clicking here!

Water worries

5 mi.47:49 mins. T is for terrible, R is for running, E is for everyone, A is for annoyed, D is for doing, M is for miles, I is for indoors, L and L. 9:33 mins./mi.

If you're a runner, you've probably seen this article about water drinking and the Boston Marathon.

In fact, if there's a marathon in your recent past or near future (my marathon is only nine freaking days away) there's a great possibility that your mother, sister, father, brother, great aunt, boss, mailroom boy and panhandler on the street have accosted you to warn you of the great risks of brain explosion from overhydration.

As if I won't have enough problems on race day. It's not enough that I have at least 14 hill, including the dread Hurricane Point to carry myself up and down. It's not enough that I have shinsplints. It's not enough that I'll run the race and people will wonder what freak occurrance of evolution caused a great white whale to mutate and make its way out of the deep blue sea, up a cliff, onto highway 1 and into a singlet.

Now I have to worry about drinking too much Gatorade and getting hyponatremia.

Drink too little water, I'll get dehydrated and die. Drink too much water, I'll get overhydrated and my head will explode after a seizure. Oh yeah, and I'll die.

It seems like, either way, I'll be joining a certain beloved Pole in heaven soon. Oh no, wait, I'm Jewish. We don't have heaven. We just sleep in the dirt. Oh well, I guess after all this training I could use a good nap.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Top 10 Reasons to Run a Marathon

Do you want to run a marathon? All you're missing is a good reason. Well, I've saved you the trouble of coming up with one. Because I've written 10 reasons to run a marathon in today's Herald. I've done the work, all you have to do is click on the link!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A sense of finality

Last night was the final Big Sur Marathon Training Clinic and I won a prize for perfect attendance! Aren't I special? Yeeaaaahhh!

The topic of the clinic was final preparations, basically sketching out what we need to be thinking of on the day before the race.

My final preparations include:

1) Completing my living will. I don't want a feeding tube unless it delivers pureed Krispy Kreme donuts. Then I want three feeding tubes.

2) Completing my last will and testiment. I've already willed by most valuable posession: my Playstation 2. I hope my friend's thumbs can withstand the arthritis.

3) Carbo-loading. This is my favorite part. Pass the bread... pudding!

4) Staying off my feet in the two days leading up to the race. Isn't it ironic that my final prep for the marathon involves a reversion to my former lifestyle? I plan on taking to the couch with a vengeance, perhaps watching all three old Star Wars movies and then the first two Godfather films. (Confidential to Fredo: You broke my heart.)

5) Packing my "marathon bag." This all-important sack contains all you need to get through the morning of the race. Mine will include Xanax to calm my nerves, a pre-filled syringe of Morphine to dull the pain, several fried peanut-butter and bannana sandwiches for energy, and a picture of my dear Priscilla.

Hey- wait, how did I get Elvis's marathon bag? (Oh well, I'll roll with it. I already have his hair.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It's a dog-eat-jon world.

NOT SURE44:04 mins.Around PG9-12 mins./mi.

Ah. The taper continues. So does my leg pain.

For yesterday evening's run, I decided to go out for somewhere between 1/2 hour and an hour, and just run whrerever I felt like running. What fun!

My route took me down toward the ocean and then into the rough of the Pacific Grove Golf Course. Running up the fifth hole, I saw a woman in the distance walking a beautiful golden retriever (off the leash, of course).

As I ran closer, the cute little 80-pound doggie approached me, wagging his tail and giving a friendly bark or three. As is my custom, I smiled, and laughed, and barked back. Rough!

In retrospect, this may have been a mistake.

The dog started chasing me, running up on my side, jumping and trying its best to take a chunk out of my arm. All the while, its owner looked on in horror, screaming "No!" "Come Back Here!" "No! No! Bad dog!" As much as I appreciated her efforts, they were futile. Luckily, I was able to run away from the bloodthirsty beast and continue my run.

Now, it's confirmed. I am a delicious piece of meat.

5 at 5

5 MILES1:00 hourFrom my house to Burger King and back12 minutes a mile

I got up at 5 a.m. to run 5 miles. I figured I might as well make at least an effort to run early in the morning, seeing as the marathon starts at 7 a.m. and I will be on bus to the starting line at 4 a.m.
To my surprise, it was a peaceful and pleasant run. I certainly didn't push myself. That, and the fact that the route is quite hilly was the reason I was so slow. But at this point, why rush things?
It was dark, I could barely see the road. But it was nice. Cool. A bit of the morning breeze into my face. The occasional passing car illuminating my path.
The only problem happened right near the end. My left knee began to tighten and though there was no real pain, I felt a slight twinge. Had I ran any further, I think it would have really started to ache. That is somewhat worrisome, but what am I to do about now? I think it is in my best interest to let all concerns go. At this point, I don't have much time to heal nor do I really want to take any more time off. I will take it easy, and see what happens.
If only this marathon was flat....

Monday, April 11, 2005

13 days left

Lucky 13.

The race is a little less than two weeks away, and I can't wait.

At this point in the game, some people would be worried about nagging injuries, or diet, or getting enough sleep, or fine-tuning their last wills and testiments.

Not me.

What's keeping me up at night is my hair. Look at the picture on top of the blog, taken back in November. Look at the picture over to the right. That's from a month or so later. Hellooo, Elvis!

Guess what?

I haven't had a haircut since I began training. At first, truth be told, it was just laziness. Then, I started using the race as an excuse. "i'm not going to get a haircut," I said. "I want to look like Steve Prefontaine, my flowing locks following me across the finish line."

But now, my hair is longer than Pre's. It's long like Slater in Dazed and Confused. It's long like Axl Rose. It'l long like Bo Derek in 10, though not in braids. My girlfriend hates it. My sister hates it. But bad girls think its sexy. And I'm a bad, bad man.

But it's in my eyes and I'm beginning to feel a little like that sheep dog who battled Wile E. Coyote in Loony Toons.

Unfortunately, now, it's a Thing. Now I'm worried that if I cut my hair before the race, it will be bad mojo. What if my hair is the source of my strength? What if I play my own Delilah to my own Sampson? Would that be perverse? (What if I put biblical references in each post?)

So, should I shave it off for aerodynamic purposes, or should I continue my exsitance as a dirty, stinky, jogging hippie?

It's a hairy problem.

One thing's for sure: I will not put it in a pony tail. I WILL NOT BE THAT GUY!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Dont worry

I haven't put in too many big runs this past week, but have managed to get in some smaller ones. I've been active, though I did roll my ankle in a basketball tournament Saturday at the Good Old Day in PG. I also nearly broke my index finger on my right hand.
Other than that, I've got two weeks to go and am feeling very confident and strong. So... reallly, don't worry.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Hurricane Point Survivor (or I get beat silly by an old guy)

9.7 mi.1:48 ish.Mile 7 of Big Sur Marathon Course to Mile 17, including the dread Hurricane Pointaround 11 mins./mi.

All the while Kenny and I have been training for the Big Sur Death March, a secret rival has been lurking in our office. He's been training in secret, cloistered in the trees of Pebble Beach. But this morning, he came out to play with Mr. Tubby, and it wasn't pretty.

He's a mild-mannered man on the outside. But inside, the fires of competition burn like a plate of spicy bar-be-cue. You wouldn't know it from looking at him working at his computer or subtly directing the actions of the sports department, but the Sports Editor of The Monterey Herald is a running beast.

I know, because I witnessed it first-hand.

It's been a week since the editor, Kenny's boss, declared publicly that he, too, would be running the Big Sur Marathon. He lamented that others may cure their mid-life crises with cute little sports car while he chose 26.2 miles of suffering. So be it.

He had run strong and fast in his triaing, which had been going on for 8 months, a whole 60 days more than Kenny and I have been at work. But one thing still struck icy fear into his heart: cruel Hurricane Point. So he suggested that we run it in training, together, today.

Despite ruining the race-day surprise and the great chance of getting hit by a car on the scenic but shoulder-less Hwy. 1, I was game. We drove down this morning, dropping off my car at Mile 17, and driving down to Mile 7 in his. It gave us a chance to behold the mountain we would climb: 2 miles, 550 feet of pure paved precipice, against what must have been a 75-mile-per-hour headwind. Ouch.

Arriving at Mile 7, we got out of the car, stretched and went on our way. Two miles later, the middle-aged editor was so far in the distance, I could hardly see him. So much for the icy fear in his heart. The fear had been replaced by fire.

I plugged along through the shinsplint-pain zone to the bottom of the Point. By halfway up, I was winded, but my legs were finally getting loose. I actually sped up the second half of the climb. And when I got to the top, I put my arms up and allowed the wind to buffet me around. It was a sense of accomplishment and relief.

The relief lasted about a mile downhill, until I faced a second, smaller version of the monster hill. Then there was another hill. In fact, the rest of the run was a lot like the stock market: up down up down up down.

I knew I was close to the end when I saw the Editor sprinting at me from the other direction. He had finished about 10 minutes earlier. He had arrived at the car and was coming back to check on me. He feared that I got hit by a car and was coming back to steal my wallet. How sweet of him.

We ran the last .25 miles together (him for the third time). I swear, I've never been happier to see the blue of my Subaru.

In summary:

1) Someone two decades older than me beat me out of my shorts.

2) Doing the big hill makes me confident that I can do it on race day.

3) It's all the other hills that worry me.

5 mi. 52:45 mins.Friday night treadmill party10:30 mins./mi.

I left work early and went to the gym last night. See, I'm not completely worthless.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Ye olde Fridaye Sacke 'o Mail

I haven't run yet today, but I will. This time I promise.

Anyway, here's the fat sack (o' mail)!

Hello Jonathan,

I read your column for the first time on Friday, and the next day our training path crossed on the bike path in Pebble Beach, one mile before the Spyglass road -- I thought: I saw this guy before ... c'est pas possible!, this is the big guy from the Herald on training for Big Sur IM. And I learn today that you were running a 21-24 miles via the hills. Impressive! And you are still in good rounded form. How can this be?

And no, I am not this young tall blond that passed you near Spanish Bay...

-- Mario
Pacific Grove

Hi Jonathan,

Oh my gosh, you are hilarious! I love your daily blog of the Longest Mile. I look forward to reading it daily.

A friend of mine who lives here in Dallas, Texas, is training for the Big Sur marathon and stumbled upon your website and forwarded it to me. First off, you are a fabulous writer, something I truly admire. Second, I think it's great you are training for this marathon and I know that you can do it despite any road blocks that may come your way.

I decided to train for the Dallas White Rock Marathon back in 1997, shortly after my mother passed away. I thought it would be a great obsession to get my mind off the grieving and also shed some extra pounds. Well, I did manage to shed some pounds, and on occasion, it did help the grieving process, but a month away from the actual marathon, I ran a half marathon and I ended up getting a severe upper respiratory infection, which slowed me down mentally and physcially. I didn't do the marathon that year, which was terribly discouraging. But, I decided to train again in 1998. That extra 12 months helped and I was determined to accomplish that goal. I remember, I could barely sleep the night before, b/c I was so pumped up. I must have gone to the bathroom 4 times before the gun went off. I felt great, hydrated, fueled and ready to run the full race. At mile 10, my running partner stopped to pee. I didn't. I felt great. By mile 13, I had to pee, and when I crawled into the stinky portapotty, I only trickled. It burned like hell. I had a bladder infection...half way into the marathon. I thought I was going to die. I thought I would have to quit. But, I had trained too long and hard for this, I would just have to muttle through it all. I continued to drink water, gatorade and eventually, the pain in my feet and legs overpowered the pain in my bladder. I managed to "shuffle" my way through the 26.2 mile adventure and it was the best feeling ever. Needless to say, it was my first and last marathon. I swore I would never put myself through that again...and I haven't. I do still run on ocassion to try and stay in some sort of shape. But, my latest passion for the past few years is ice hockey. I Iove playing this game.

Anyway, I just wanted to cheer you on, and tell you, even though it's probably nothing new, make sure you drink plenty of fluids, eat when you need that extra energy and be aware of your body. Don't hold your piss too long, even if you feel great. :-)

I'm inspired by your efforts, and your creative writing skills. You're amazing. If you start feeling weak or discouraged, just keep in mind that there's a girl in Dallas, Texas who will be anxiously awaiting your "blog" and/or story on how you finished your first marathon. Go Jonathan Go!!!!!

3rd Grade Teacher
Dallas, TX

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Acts of wretched villiainy

Kenny has a brand spanking new Herald running column where he casts the story of The Longest Mile and our training for the Big Sur Marathon in a cinematic light.

I wonder who'd play me: Ben Affleck? Jared Leto? Vincent D'Onofrio? Frank Black? Ashton Kutcher? Oliver Platt? Dom DeLouise?

The role of Kenny will be played by Hilary (put me out of my misery) Swank.

A pattern of failure developing?

I stayed at work until 11 p.m. last night.

I was waiting to go out to dinner with my special lady.

We went to the only place open that late: Denny's. At least I didn't order the "Moons Over My Hammy" sandwich. I did eat a chicken sandwich, grilled, with BBQ sauce and hash browns.

I planned to run this morning, but woke up with indigesteon (big surprise) and heart burn and an overwhelming sense of shame. I hope that I haven't come this far to self-destruct in the last few weeks, but I think that despite taking two days off running and eating loads of crap, I'll still be okay, as long as I can get my act back together.

It's time to sack up or sack out. Tonight it's back to the treadmill.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

It is 9:30 p.m. Pacific

And I have not run. I am still at work. I am worthless. But I will try to redeem myself by running at least 8 miles tomorrow morning. Early.

In such a way, I will prove to myself that I am not a complete slug.

Taper or Torpor?

I don't know when the last time I woke up early for a run was.

The alarm goes off. I hit the snooze bar. It goes off again. I reset it to 9 a.m.

I don't know what's wrong with me. Maybe it's daylight savings time, or maybe I'm reverting to my lazy self.

Sleep badness isn't the only place where I'm slipping.

Since I was running wicked late for work today, I stopped at a local bakery to buy a bag of cookies to disperse to my colleagues, hoping they would overlook my tardiness. While there, I bought a delicious apple danish for myself, and managed to get my greasy mitt into the bag of cookies, too.

I feel like a a toddler: if I see something, I have to put it in my mouth. If I don't see something, I have to put it in my mouth. I can't seem to stop eating junk food. I'm worried that I'll blow up in the last three weeks, turning the Big Sur Marathon into an athletlic version of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, except I'll be playing the part of the gigantic
Garfield balloon.

Pass the lasagne.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Stayin' Alive (running 5)

5 mi.49:49 mins.Hamster Ramp9:58 mins./mi.

I got a massage. I ran five on a treadmill last night.

I had a realization.

I didn't really get winded last night, even as I did two miles at around 9:10, which, for me, is fast. My heart and lungs could be in their best shape ever. But my legs, my poor legs. Still tired from the big run Saturday, were resistant for all five miles.

I welcome the blessed taper into my heart.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sore winner

After running an undetermined number of miles on Saturday, I expected that I would be sore. Big surprise, I was right for once.

Here is a list of the sore muscles I have today.

My abs, wherever they're hiding under my belly, feel like they're being stretched from the inside by little men with forks.

My left quadraceps are twicthing every few minutes or so, like there's a jumping bean hiding inside it. My right quad just feels like someone punched it.

My glutes feel like I was on the recieving end of a swift kick in them, something that my parents say I've needed for a long time.

My calves feel like veal. My hamstrings feel like stringcheese. (Okay, I don't know what this means, but doesn't it sound neat?)

My forearms are sorearms from swinging them so hard running up and down hills.

My back feels like it carried 225 pounds for more than 20 miles. (Oh, wait, it did do that.)

Anyway, you get the picture. Tonight will be a massage followed by 5 miles on the treadmill. Slow.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Lost in Pebble Beach (Or I'm ready!!!)

Somewhere between 21 and 244:18:14Downtown PG to Spanish Bay to Peter Hay to Poppy Hills to Highway 1 to Pebble Beach (Carmel Gate)to MPCC to CC Gate to HomeProbably around 11:15 min./mi. or so

Two weeks made a load of difference since my last long run, a troubling 22-mile affair that had me cryin' for my momma.

Yesterday's run confirmed several things for me, in order of importance:

1) I am ready to run the Big Sur Marathon.

2) Running the marathon is going to take toughness, because it will be hard and painful.

3) The signs and roads in Pebble Beach are confusing, especially when you've been running for three hours.

4) Getting hit by a German or Japanese luxury car probably kills you just as much as getting hit by a Chevy.

Now, onto our story.

I had obtained permission from a buddy at work to enter Pebble Beach by car, bypassing the $8.50 fee that the prestigious gated community usually charges us plebes for the priviledge of driving through its gem-encrusted streets. This gave me the opportunity to map out a route running from sea level up to the tippy-top of the Del Monte Forest, looping around the summit once,(picking up a bottle of gatorade I hung on a roadside sign) then heading back down the hill and north to Pacific Grove in time to collapse in a cramped mess in my apartment. The total distance was to be 20.7 miles.


The first part of my run went perfectly. Over the first 40 minutes, my shin splints hurt a lot, so I took it easy. Forty seems to be a lucky number for me, because the pain disappeared at 40 minutes, which was good. Soon I was chugging up hills, Spyglass Hill, then another hill, then a big, long ascent that doesn't really have a name. It was tough, but I was comforted that I had a new bottle of Gatorade waiting for me at Mile 11.

I got to what I thought was the top of the hill and then turned. Then I turned again. All the sudden, (30 minutes later) the scenery was the same. I had gone around in a circle. I hadn't seen my bottle of Gatorade. I had been running for 2:15 minutes. I was completely lost, although completely lost on a road with sweeping views of the decending sun over Monterey Bay.

So I took another turn, and was greeted by a steep hill. After plodding up that, I found myself on another circular, winding road with more sweeping views of Monterey Bay. I heard the vultures circling overhead. My gatorade had been depleted for 20 minutes and I was certain I was nearing a very scenic end. At least, I thought, perhaps my ghost would haunt Del Monte Forest, stealing people's expensive golf balls depressing multi-million dollar property values.

Ten more minutes of running, and I realized that this was not to be. At 2:35 on the stopwatch, I found my Gatorade, and my previous wrong turn had been corrected. I had no idea how much longer I made my run, but I'm guessing my unexpected detour added at least two miles.

Soon, I was at the Highway 1 gate at the summit of Pebble Beach. I flew down 17-Mile Drive against traffic as I raced the sunset. With no shoulder on the road, Many Benzes, Beemers and Lexi (that's the plural of Lexus) came within inches of hitting me. But with a painful stitch in my side and a good bit of oxygen deprivation, I didn't really seem to care. Besides, they were probably all well-insured.

I reached the bottom of the hill at 3:10 on the watch or so and had about 6.5 miles to go. Up hill slow, down hill fast, up hill slow, down hill fast, all in the dark. By the time I got to the Pebble Beach gate, exiting into Pacific Grove, I was filled with joy and covered with salt.

I had escaped being hit by cars. I was almost home. And I had enough gas left in my tank to speed up a little. It was all downhill from there and I coasted back to my apartment.

I've run about 530 miles since I started training. There a three weeks left to taper for the race. I'm ready. It's all downhill from here.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sink or swim? A little of both

13 MILES2:38.12My house, past Lovers, past Asilomar, past PG High School, into Pebble Beach down to Spanish Bay then to my parents12:10 per mile

The knee felt no better, no worse. I had to run, one way or the other. A mile into it, it started to hurt. At about a mile and half, I decided to bag it. As I turned back towards my house, I began to think that I had only 3 weeks until the marathon. A decision had to be made. It was time to sink or swim.
Screw it, I thought. I will either run through the pain or blow out my knee. Either way, my problem will be solved. What did Shakespear say about the best laid plans?
Well, the pain never went away, though it was tolerable. I pushed past the Wharf and was feeling great otherwise. Got to the Aquarium, no great white, still a lot of people lining up to get in there. Past Lovers, I could still feel some real tension in the knee, but kept going. Around mile seven, I popped a few Advil and downed my only GU pack. As I got to Mile 10, I started to go up Sunset, a medium sized hill. At that point, I really felt like I could have turned around and jogged another 10 miles back to my house.
Funny how 10 minutes later I felt entirely different.
The hill just about killed me. I tired quickly, and the pain in my knee grew. As I reached the top, I took a right turn on Congress, heading towards Forest Grove Elementary. Past that school, I made it to the Forest Lodge gate and began to really feel quite dizzy. My energy was gone and I felt really quite hungary. I turned into Pebble, and took Congress down to Spanish Bay. As I trodded down the hill, I almost fainted. My head felt light and my vision began to blur. The only real sensation I was aware of was throbbing in my knee. Once I made it to Spanish, I started to walk. I had to, I really thought I was going to black out.
Well one minute turned into two and when I started to run again, my knee said, "I don't think so, bud." It hurt, like someone had driven a nail into it and was applying more pressure each time I stepped. Even when I stopped running and began walking again, the pain was still there.
I walked the last half mile back to my parents, killing the decent time I had made. Not that time is the important factor in all this. My knee, however, is.
I don't know the solution to this. I had found a way for the majority of this run to deal with the pain. I believe had I not ran the hill and became dizzy, I could have finished 16 or 17 miles. Honestly.
The problem, naturally, is that Big Sur is nothing but hills. I think I will consult my soft tissue guy, and hopefully, he will find a way to make it all go away. My legs, by the way, feel fine. My feet feel fine. My hips, my back, my whatever, feel fine. It's the knee. If if fix that....well, it will be a wait and see proposition.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Friday Mailbag!!!

WARNING: This letter, from "M." in Los Gatos, is a little bit gross. But it's also poop in your pants funny!

Dear Jonathan and Ken,

Today I came across your marathon training column. I really enjoyed reading about your experiences! Wonderful to have a window into how others are experiencing training for the BSIM besides myself.

About 16 miles into an 18 mile run this week, the question kept popping into my head, "Why am I doing this?" The scary thing was that I could NOT think of an answer. It was suddenly eluding me. But reading of your experiences has helped rev up some courage & motivation to see this thing through.


I have to share the low point in my marathon training with you. During my training, I'd gradually put on 7 lbs. (What's the deal with THAT?!). I decided to go on a diet to try to lose some of it. Well, I learned the hard way that dieting and marathon training don't mix.

In February I started on a very hilly 12 mile trail run in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After 6 miles of UP, I reached the top. Right about that same time, suddenly all energy left me. I was 6 miles in the middle of Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve which is very isolated, and I could barely function. My system was really whacked out.

I slowly continued on my way, and I started to get hit by very strong intestinal cramps. In another mile I realized I was going to have "the runs" in a serious way. So out in the middle of nowhere I had to "go." Don't know how to express this delicately, but as there was no Charmin to be found, I had to decide what my next tissue of choice would be. Wet soggy leaves? (it was a drizzly day.) My socks? Naw, potential blisters without them. My undies? No, I was too depleted & weak to even take my sport tights off. So I sacrificed my favorite running bra. (Geez, what IS the protocol in such a situation??!!).

To make matters worse, when I started back down the trail, suddenly everything began to go dark. I realized I was starting to pass out. Not wanting to fall, I got myself down on the ground. I was feeling pretty screwed up by this time. I was extremely weak, alone, chilled, no cell phone, and I was on an isolated fire road about 5 miles from my car.

The urge to just lie down there in the road and take a nap was SO strong. But more cramps & runs called.

My story ends anti-climatically, thank goodness, but HAPPILY, in that I was able to walk back to my car.

I am now a firm believer in plenty of carbs the night before a long run!

Wishing you both a great time at the marathon. See you there!

(dang, I just loved that bra.....)

Best Regards,
Los Gatos Marathoner in Training

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

About 552:02 mins.Home to Fisherman's Wharf R/T10:24 min./mi.

In the aftermath of my massage, my legs felt fresh and good, like tuna steaks packed in white deli paper. I wanted to run fast last night and desire, as in many matters of the heart, won out over common sense.

Common sense says you start out slow if you're trying to get over an injury. Common sense says you don't start out your run at a 7:40/mi. pace when the first half mile is straight downhill and you have shinsplints.

Last night, common sense took a brief vacation and pain was my reward.

I flew down the half mile to the ocean as quickly as my legs could carry me and then headed north on the recreational trail. By two miles, my legs hurt a lot. Left shin/calf, right shin/calf, right hip, glute, quad. All either stiff, on fire, or feeling as if they had been bludgeoned with a meat mallet.

I stopped. I stretched. I skipped for about 100 yards, because I couldn't put weight on my left leg. Then things settled down and I was able to grind out the next three miles, with the pain receding as I ran.

A bag of frozen peas and a bag of frozen chicken later, (and a fistful of Advil) I felt almost better. I swear, by the end of this thing, I'll be using entire TV dinners for theraputic purposes.

I'll post an explosively funny Friday mailbag later today, so stick around!

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