Write to Run an Ultra-Marathon – This Ones for You, Dad

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, or to worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – The Teaching of Buddha

In 2012 I posted Write to Run a Marathon under the selfish guise of sharing practical advice for marathon training when I was actually trying psych myself up for a marathon I was ill-prepared to run. Two years later I find myself ill-prepared for my first ultra-marathon. So how do I plan to finish a 31-mile race with laughably few training miles?

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll write my way to run the ultra. I’ll write and psyche myself out. Crazy? With less than three weeks to go I don’t have a choice. 


Top ranked professional eater Joey Chestnut

Let me make one thing clear, I’m not Superman. Far from it. And I’m not starting from zilch. I ran the Steamtown Marathon in October, a couple of three-hour training runs and one three-and-one-half-hour run. But that’s kind of like Joey Chestnut eating a 12-pack of Nathan’s Hot Dogs to prepare for the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, or Molly Schuyler eating a platter of Chick-fil-A wings to train for Wing Bowl. So I’m not starting from scratch, but I’m not in the ultra-ballpark either. Fortunately, I have a secret weapon–my Dad.

The Watchung Winter 50K is on the 30th anniversary of my dad’s death. Dad passed away suddenly at age sixty-five on January 3, 1985, a time in my life when I had four young kids, worked insane hours, and traveled often on business. I make no excuses, but I was a tad busy with my own life and I didn’t get to know him as well as I would have liked to. Thirty years later I still feel his presence. Thirty years later he still influences my life, the way I live, the choices I make. There was something about him. Maybe he had the Kavorka, like Kramer. He was a New Yorker, after all.

So this one is for you, Dad. I’ll run that 31 miles, or I’ll join you in the afterlife trying.

Dad at the age of 43 in 1962.

Dad at the age of 43 in 1962.

Seventeen days to the Watchung Winter 50K.

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Inspiring Story of a Courageous Young Runner

“Running makes me happy, it makes me feel normal and whole. When I’m running I feel safe… everything is fine.” Kayla Montgomery

Kayla Montgomery paces the field.

Kayla Montgomery paces the field.

Kayla Montgomery has the heart of a gladiator. When she was fourteen she fell in a soccer game and felt tingling in her legs. After a series of test she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) which forced her to give up contact sports, but she insisted that she had to run.

Kayla tried out for her high school track team.  She says she was a  slow runner. Her coach Patrick Cromwell considered her average at best, perhaps a varsity hopeful by senior year. Kayla wouldn’t settle on average. MS is a heat activated disease that attacks the nerves, so when Kayla runs she loses feeling in her feet and doesn’t know where they are going or how fast. She had to teach herself to pace.

Because of her condition she can’t come to a coordinated stop, so her coach has to catch her and cool her down with liquids and ice. Once her body temperature returns to normal the MS symptoms subside. Kayla has a unique relationship with her coach, she trusts him. She describes him as a goofy, dorky dad.

Kayla trained and trained and eventually made the varsity team, became the team’s fastest runner, then began training full-time with the boys. At the North Carolina state outdoor championships Kayla fell in the first lap, did a flip, got up, brushed it off and went on to come in first place. She is considered one of the fastest young runners in the country.Marathon Finish

Kayla’s story is perhaps the most inspiring running story I’ve come across since that of Ben Comen, the North Carolina high school distance runner with cerebral palsy. Watch Kayla’s story here:

Time to go for a run!Runner - Sketch

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Be The Difference

Jim Brennan:

Joey began Road to A 100 after he graduated college to share his experiences in his pursuit to run a 100 mile race. He reached his goal in 2014, moved to Wyoming and set a 2015 goal to win the Bighorn 100 next

You can follow Joey’s journey at Road to A 100.

Originally posted on ROAD TO A 100:

Jim Carrey once said during a college commencement speech “the effect you have on others, is the most valuable currency there is.”

Today I received a book in the mail from a fellow blogger (Jim, Rite 2 Run) that he wrote about his life and journey to running in the Boston Marathon. And inside he wrote a personal note that was meaningful, genuine and very inspirational.

It seriously made my day.

Support. Positivity. Encouragement. That’s what the world needs more of. We need to support one another’s dreams, passions and goals. Whether we agree with them or not. We don’t accomplish things fully alone. And your words could mean the world to someone. Your words could be the difference in someone’s next big achievement or someone turning around just to give up.

“If you are not making someone else’s life better, then you are wasting your time. Your life…

View original 32 more words

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Climb For Air – 2015

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha


Three Logan Square

This time last year I wrote Climb for Billy about the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb. My buddy Billy was battling lung cancer, so his daughter Kristin organized a team, Holubec’s Hunnies, to climb the 55-floor, 739 feet stairwell of Three Logan Square in center city Philadelphia to raise money for lung cancer research. Kristin, her sister Blair and their team will climb again on March 21, 2015.

In 2015 Holubec’s Hunnies  will climb in memory of Kristin and Blaire’s dad and my buddy Billy, who lost his battle with lung cancer in May.  The climb, or vertical marathon as many refer to it, was something right up Billy’s alley–a little exercise surrounded by friends and family, and plenty of cold beer afterwards at the Tir Na Nog.

Billy climbing Hawk Mountain in 2013.

Billy climbing Hawk Mountain in 2013.

Join us in downtown Philly in March 2015 for a workout and a Guinness. Log onto Fight For Air Climb and click “join a team,” then select Holubec’s Hunnies. If you aren’t able to join us and would like to donate to the cause,  then click on the individual’s name that you would like to donate to.  Thanks for joining the fight against lung cancer, the leading cancer killer in both men and woman.

And finally, please forward to fellow-runners, friends and family.

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The Ageless Insights of a Remarkable Young Woman

“The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious.” – Marina Keegan

Marie Keegan  October 25, 1989 – May 26, 2012

Marie Keegan
October 25, 1989 – May 26, 2012

Marina Keegan’s essay “The Opposite of Loneliness” has the power to cure aimlessness and restore purpose. Keegan writes, “The best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us.” How is it that this young woman had such ageless insights? And it gets better when she adds, “I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…” Marina died in a car accident on Cape Cod when she was twenty-two.

It is inevitable that at some point in our lives we’ll fall victim to ‘going through the motions,’ even if we do so unknowingly. We wake up, take care of the house, feed the cat, kiss the kids, go to work, cook meals, exercise, read, and then look at the calendar on the fridge and a week went by, or it’s December and you thought it was October.

I feel into this trap recently–caught myself conducting my day-to-day affairs listless. All of the sudden my writing voice disappeared and I was indifferent to training for my first ultra-marathon in January. I even began to question my own motivation for running the 50K.

And then Keegan’s words smacked me upside the head, lifted my heart and put me back on track. My voice returned and my prose flowed again. I’m now excited to get out on the trail, alone inside my head for five or six hours–my sanctuary. I can’t wait for that unparalleled feeling when it’s over, the next day, the next week–that effervescent runner’s glow.

“The Opposite of Loneliness” was handed out at the 2012 commencement at Yale. The essay ends, “We’re in this together, 2012. Let’s make something happen to this world.” Marina Keegan life ended five days after she graduated. Fortunately, she left an enduring legacy through her words.

Order the collection of Keegan’s essays and stories in the book titled The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan here.

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Art of Running – Part XIX – Urban Dweller

“Every child is born an artist. The problems begin when they grow up.” – Picasso

Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

I’m a native Philadelphian—hung out on street corners, grew up working the Delaware River waterfront, a passionate Eagles, Flyers, Sixers and Phillies fan. With age I developed a love of the outdoors–hiking, camping, trail running. For some reason I can’t get enough of mountains, and my travels have taken me to majestic peaks—the Rocky Mountains, the French Alps, the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland.

When my kids moved out and began lives of their own, my wife and I moved to rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Now after five years of living in a beautiful rural setting by a lake where I run, cycle and play, I come to realize I am an urban dweller at heart. It’s in my work—the stories I write, the photos I shoot. So we’re off wandering again, this time back to our roots, back to the city. It is where our heart are (Disclaimer: so are the grandkids.) photo

The plaque at the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program says it best, “It’s All About Community.” And in the end, “Placing Art Within the Heart of Wellness.”Dream

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Leftovers III

Kramer Classic




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