Wednesday, May 27, 2015

San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon and Saturday Shake-Out Runs

If you've ever ran a marathon, you know all the anxiety, fear, and  trepidation that precedes the actual morning of the event. When the only thing that is racing is your mind, thinking of all the variables and your task ahead, you need something to calm your nerves.

In comes the 'Saturday Shake-Out run', something that is supposed to lubricate the legs a bit, but mostly, relax your mind and ease your spirit.

Ah, but the Saturday shake-out run can be dark and full of terrors. You risk running too fast, taking advantage of your trained and tapered body, and ending up paying for it on Sunday at mile 22 when your muscles get shredded and eaten alive.

Yes, the Saturday Shake Out run can be a dangerous thing, and this is the premise of the novel On the Lips of Children. 

If you are running the San Diego marathon, this especially means you, for the book is based on a dark, 4 am run I took along Ocean Beach trail in San Diego. (with some creative license thrown in). The marathon route runs right over this trail. Just before the 10 mile mark, look down, and you are likely to see a family there. One woman, one man, two twin children, who make their home in a Tijuana to SD drug smuggling tunnel. Please wave to them and say hi for me. It's been awhile.

Check the book out. Read it on the plane. Read it in your hotel on Saturday. Do it. Do it. Before you go out on that Shake-out run and become fodder. Experience the pain and joy and human triumph during your run, not on Saturday trapped in a cave becoming fodder for some hungry twin kids.

ON THE LIPS OF CHILDREN  $2.99 on Amazon

Monday, May 25, 2015

My Picture On A Bucket List

I was on the verge of scrubbing this blog of everything running related. I had plans to burn all my shoes, euthanize my running self, and then urinate on the corpse. But just then, the ghost of it appears in the form of a random picture on an Outdoor magazine bucket list of must-do experiences.

Yes, that's me below at the finish line of the 2010 Boston Marathon wearing Tiger Woods Nike Red. The one with the receding hairline, arms raised in triumph.  Outdoor magazine running stud model.  Thanks to Detroit Runner for noticing it appear on a REI facebook page.
Check the full link out here:  

Trips to Check Off Your Adventure Bucket List

6 of 32

  • Photo: Boston Athletic Association

    Pamper Yourself Before Boston

    Boston is expensive, but if you've qualified to run the marathon, it's time to splurge. Reserve a room by early August at the Four Seasons, two blocks from the finish chutes and overlooking Boston's soothing public garden. Take your mind off the marathon with one last mellow training run along the Charles River. On marathon eve, head to Boston's North End, the Italian section of the city, for maximum carb loading at one of more than 75 restaurants, like Villa Francesca and Mama Maria's. Celebrate post-race at Hamersley's Bistro on the South End with garlicky mashed potato cakes and whole roasted black sea bass. Marathon Tours can help with an itinerary and race logistics, and offers hotel discounts.

  • Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    A Recipe For Dark Fiction (or How I Learned to Limp)

    A recipe for dark fiction.

    Take a flawed character.

    Demonstrate in an opening scene something that is near and dear to them. Take that something away, or make it feel very threatened.

    All the characters worst fears come true, about the situation, and about themselves. Turn up the heat, make the insides boil out. Strengths and faults and blood and guts.

      The character has to act, sometimes making things worse, sometimes making things better. Their internal battle is turned inside out.

     Tease the character with hope. Turn up the stakes. Things get even worse. Squeeze some more.

    Ultimately, the character may or may not retain what was taken away, but they do not come away unchanged, nor are things exactly the same.

    Thomas Cleaves from Stray, Lilly from MILK-BLOOD, Macon and Erin from On the Lips of Children, Janice Z. Woodward from The Jade Rabbit: these are just a few of the characters who went through such ordeals.

    And now whoever was written the story of my own life has followed a similar formula. *shakes fist and curses the Gods*

    Four years ago I ran the Boston Marathon. Running had been near and dear to me, but now, it is gone. In fact, not only can I not run, I can’t walk more than a half mile. Pain radiates up and down my left side. I am attacking the problem with PT and other medical treatment, but the pain is there, and what’s worse is the numbness. No feeling. Nerves compromised in my back mean my leg is only partly under my control.

    This blog is damn depressing.

    I learned a bit about the Kabalah year ago, and a few tenets of the faith stuck with me. How our spirit purposely puts barriers in our own path for it knows that’s what it needs in order to grow. The origin of all our problems are self-created, and the battles fought are ones we choose, an obstacle course specifically designed by ourselves to target those areas that need growth.

    Most times I believe that.

    Other times I sulk. Or limp.


    Wednesday, May 6, 2015

    The Story of My Herniated Disc

    You know this story doesn't end well.

    Three weeks ago, I joined an over 40 hockey league. I was looking for the exhilaration, excitement, and buzz of warm blood flowing through my veins that I missed since I was unable to run

    After the first game, my damaged leg held up fine. My lungs were not overworked. I was plenty fast on skates. This was good.

    Oh, but poor Odysseus, your trial and tribulations are not over.

    My back was hurt, painfully so, and I took many rest days. I saw a doctor, who gave me steroids and muscle relaxers  I rested, walked a bit which made it feel good, but did nothing strenuous. After about ten days, I started to do back stretches along with the walking. The pain was nearly gone. I was going to recover.

    But with no apparent precipitant, it got worse one day. I woke up with a painful burning in my hip. With each move, the pain spread its tentacles down the side of my body. I was unable to put on my clothes, and had to lay on the ground to try and put on a sock. When I tried, I felt something snap.

    The pain, I assure you, was not exquisite. I gulped for air. My vision was hazy. I tried, but could not walk.  I called a neighbor to take my daughter to school, and then called my wife while I lay on the ground. Before I could even finish a sentence she said "Just stay there, I'm coming"  which were the most wonderful words to hear.

    Urgent Care, where I moaned in pain and cursed with audible F-bombs. A Taradol shot followed. More muscle relaxers. X-rays said my back was not broken, so I went home but the pain started to spread down my leg to my toes. I spent a weekend in more pain than I knew was possible. Grunting, groaning, like a woman in labor only I couldn't scream at medical staff to cut the creature out of me. Nope. I was stuck. I haven't cried from pain since I was 9 years old, but wonder who's crying now? yes me.

    The pain did subside some on Sunday night, and I went back to my primary doctor first thing Monday morning. The examine included a reflex test. (you know, the little hammer thingy on your knee and ankle) and my left leg has none. Zero reflex. The other leg was responsive, but my left leg was not.

    (I got nothing)
    The nerves are compressed.  And when I do walk, my left leg will suddenly give and is weak. These are all signs of a herniated disc. As I write this, my leg is not in so much pain anymore, its all about the bass. A nerve burns in my inner hip, but the flesh feels like a dentist has numbed up my ass cheeks.  I walk with a gimp. Think Keyser Soze from the usual suspects. 

    Physical Therapy is next. Unclear of how long, but if the pain persists, then its time to cut me. I have spent 23 years in recovery from addiction and have never taken a benzoid or opiate, but out of necessity to bear this pain, I was given a ten day supply of Tylenol 3. (My doctor is fully aware of my addiction history) Also I am on a new round of steroids.

    What now? Well, many people have herniated discs that cause no pain. Others get them but after a period of rest and core strengthening exercises, are able to continue with physical activity (I hope thats me).

    Already I am hearing; "see what all that running did to you?"

    My cynical, dark said says I'm fucked. That I will be the seemingly able-bodied guy riding in a scooter around Krogers and Disney World. But my optimistic side says, while I am tending to my back, my leg heals.. That all these steroids and anti-inflammatories and rest will repair not only my back but my leg, and I will go full circle and can go back to running.

    Odysseus never gave up

    For now, I just want to be able to walk normal and not fear the pain in each step. To walk the dog, mow the lawn. I want my gimp to turn into a steady, confident gait, and I will continue to not go gently into that good night.

    The biggest trick the devil ever pulled


    Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror IS ALIVE!! $4.99 for Kindle $12.99 for paperback  (buy the paperback, and you can get t...