Wheeler Bay, Maine

Sept 24, 2015
Wheeler Bay, ME

At the end of summer (literally, since it included the equinox) I took another trip that prevented me from running. Instead of lame excuses about long work hours, dangerous conditions, or bad weather, I have a good one. I wasn’t on land.

For a week I shared a 30-foot pulling boat with Hurricane Island Outward Bound on a trip given for free to veterans thanks to the generous donations of private citizens. I spent about six hours on land for the week and there was no room to run around the boat like I did on the Statendam. Even by myself I couldn’t run; there were seven other people to complicate it.

Pulling Boat Convoy

From Ben Hodgman on Flickr. This is the same sort of boat.

I won’t bore you with all the amazing sailing stories, fantastic vistas, and breathtaking sunsets. You don’t need to hear abou the Lobster Tracks ice cream from Giffords that I had in Vinalhaven, or the fresh local lobsters had for pennies. This is about running, not having fun.

The Outward Bound staff give students a “personal challenge” at the end of the course. You may think, like I did, that Outward Bound is for trouble youth. Surely it is, but that’s not all it is. Still, the personal challenge is geared for a different audience. The challenge was to run for 30 minutes.

Challenge accepted. The time is the challenge, not the distance. I can run for 30 minutes. I can run slow and cover two miles, or run fast and get a bit over four, and maybe near five, on a good day. I haven’t been running much this summer so I didn’t know how hard I could push it.

The personal challenge started at first light on the last day. During the week we’d been getting up at first light to jump in the 50 F water. This would be a bit warmer.


We were given a one mile loop. In 30 minutes I could certainly get three done even at a moderate pace. I set my goal to finish three laps with enough time to start the fourth. If I got past the start they’d have to let me finish the last one.

I didn’t know who my competition might be. Maybe there’d be a speed demon among the group. I didn’t want to be in the lead but I also didn’t want to be too far behind.

At the start I took off at a moderate jog and saw that even that was much faster than the field. That pushed me a bit harder because I wanted to be out of sight. I didn’t want anyone close to me and I didn’t want them to see me in the distance. I wanted to get far enough ahead that no one would know where I was. I pushed it for the first lap.


The non-running crowd isn’t used to the pain and suffering of the first few minutes of such a run and they give up quickly. After running for a long time, I know that my body will catch up and I can back off slightly to keep myself under the red line.

I have no idea how fast I ran, but I started to lap people on my second lap. Before three miles I’d passed half the field. I was running well considering I hadn’t really been on land for the last week. No one was catching me.

I finished the first 5k around 25 minutes, which is slow, but enough to start my fourth lap. Challenge accomplished.


But that wasn’t the end of the challenge. After the run we had to jump into the water and swim for a bit. For that I was a bit behind. Many people had stopped when they wouldn’t have had time left in 30 minutes to complete another lap, meaning most people did two laps. I’d done four and gone over 30 minutes.

This wasn’t a race, but my legs were a bit dead. I remembered my runs at the Minneapolis Duathlon where I couldn’t even feel my legs after a transition. I know swimming is supposed to be arms, but I’m an awful swimmer.

All this angst for about 300 meters of swimming in 50 F water. Some of those non-runners where really good swimmers. But, that’s not running, so it’s very boring. I survived.

Mystic, Connecticut

August 25, 2015
Mystic, CT
3ish miles

I’ve never been to Mystic. I’ve passed it hundreds of times speeding on 95 and wondered about what might be there. I’ve seen the movie that it famous. This summer I moved Mystic to the top of my to-do list.

I also hadn’t run in awhile. I’ve almost completely failed at all of my running goals this year. The summer was full of trips where I couldn’t run, and once I’d broken my streak, I was much less motivated to run every day. All that speed training I planned to do to break some records just never happened.


To make me feel better about that, Mystic has a statue of John Kelley just as you enter town. He won Boston in 1957 (the year they re-measured the course). Curiously, he was the first BAA member to win the race. The local running shop, Kelley’s Pace, has his name.


Running around Mystic is flat along the water, but you might get held up at the draw bridge which cuts the town in two. In the couple of days I was in Mystic, I got held up twice at this bridge. Don’t try to set any course records with this thing in the way!


It gets a bit hilly on the west side, where you’ll find Mystic Pizza. It’s almost nothing like what you’d see in the movie and I don’t know if it ever had a secret recipe that impressed a pretentious foodie


A little past that is Baptist Hill and Union Baptist Church, a pre-Civil War church that was operating in the same place with a different building before Meville even knew there were whales. The newer buildings in this town come from the age of whaling and most of them have their date if building on them. I wondered if I’d here things like “1840! Here comes the neighborhood”.


Going up Baptist Hill I ran by lots of cute homes (and there are even more historic ones in the other parts of town). It’s a nice little hill that doesn’t get much traffic. Hill repeats anyone?


There were other bits of the run that were much more boring. I skipped over Mystic Seaport, which seemed like charging people money to look at boats they could see on their own, but I might have been annoyed by the long and highly trafficked road that reminded me that cars are everywhere. I like to get away from cars.

At the end of my trip I visited the Mystic Aquarium, which I think has seen better times. You can buy reproductions of art made by the animals though. Ask at your B&B for discount tickets. If you don’t have a B&B, try The Mermaid Inn, which I found delightful.


Rock the Ridge 50-miler

May 2, 2015
New Paltz, NY
Event website

I didn’t make running plans after the Triple 7, plans made me. My friend Ken from Team RWB suggested I run the Rock the Ridge 50 Miler. He suggested it more than a couple times, eventually challenging me to do it carrying the US Flag the whole way while representing a big veteran presence at the race. Once he did that, I knew I had to do it. Read more »

Great Divide

April 18, 2015
Newton, NJ

When you come into a fork in the road, take it. Read more »

West Bluff Creek, Los Angeles

April 8, 2015
Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles can be a difficult place to find a quiet place to run, but this week I stayed near LAX so I could explore the paths around West Bluff Creek and Playa Vista. It runs from the 405 to the beach along the bluff. I’d start at the LA Clippers training facility on South Centinela, past Loyola Marymount University then by the Ballona Wetlands until it runs into the beach. Read more »

2015 Running Goals

My 2014 running year was a bit insane. I set out some bold goals, including over 30 marathons in a year. I achieved those goals, and rather than running myself into the ground, I set personal records in every distance I ran.

This year, instead of quantity, I have some quality goals. These are going to be tough and I’m going to have to work at them. Last year was just showing up with no pressure other than to finish. Read more »

Seven Continents Half Tracker

I’ve run the Seven Continents for marathons and have almost completed it for ultras, but I have an additional goal now. My friend Ziyad Rahim became the first person to run full, ultras, and halves on all seven continents. I wouldn’t have previously thought about this goal, but while waiting to go to Antarctica for the Triple 7, I ran the 2015 Punta Arenas Half. As I’d run one in South America, I might as well get the rest.

Continent First go
North America 2010 Disney Wine & Dine
South America 2015 Punta Arenas
Europe 2008 Reykjavík

My Tunis Loop

February 25, 2015
Carthago, Tunisia

I’m feeling a bit better about my Tunis marathon a couple of weeks ago when the weather was much better than it is this week. It rains buckets all day and clears up at night when I go out running. When it’s not raining, it’s very windy. That might be why I’m the only one in the hotel, I think. Read more »

Back to Tunis

February 23, 2015
Carthago, Tunisia

I’ve come back to Tunis to de-compress after my Triple 7 quest. After living in such close quarters with a bunch of highly motivated, mostly Type A types, for two weeks of airplanes and marathons, I need to hole up in some secluded hotel room to transition to civilian life. Read more »

2015 Punta Arenas Half Marathon

February 15, 2015
Punta Arenas, Chile
Event website

We should have run the Penguin Marathon just hours after finishing the Southern Cross Marathon, completing the entire seven marathon series in under 168 hours. However, weather intervened and we couldn’t get to Antartica so we were cooling our heels (almost literally) in Punta Arenas waiting for a flight out. Read more »