eBook – A Different Kind of Running Memoir

“Writing novels, to me, is basically a kind of manual labor. Writing itself is mental labor, but finishing an entire book is closer to manual labor.” – Haruki Murakamicover_large

Cover design by Sean Montgomery

After one year in print Twenty-four Years to Boston is now available as an eBook at Amazon, Barnes & NobleiTunes and Smashwords. Now you can read a different kind of running story on any device–Kindle, Nook, Smart Phone, Tablet or laptop.

While most running books are written by elite runners, coaches and trainers, my story is about a blue-collar runner who grew up working on the Philadelphia waterfront, raised four kids, and traveled widely on business. Regardless how hectic life got I always made time to run. Running grounded me and helped ease my stress. Approaching midlife I decided to run my second marathon, twenty years after my first, and then went on to do the best running of my life. I trained to qualify and ran the Boston Marathon when I hit fifty and never looked back.

Since I decided to pursue the writing life full-time in 2009 I feel like I’ve been serving a second apprenticeship (my first being a shipyard apprentice in the 1970s.) Every step I take is an adventure, which now includes the publishing business, most recently e-publishing. A few lessons I’ve learned include the importance of readings, book reviews and PR. Admittedly, I am not my best PR man.

So spread the word–tell family and friends, that weird uncle, the neighborhood bully,  the neighborhood saint, the neighborhood drunk, the who damn neighborhood for that matter. And if anyone is so inclined, write a review in Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & NobleSmashwords or Goodreads.

Thanks! And enjoy the read.


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Maintaining Your Edge

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest HemingwayHemingway

Goals worth pursuing often seem daunting. Take a degree or an apprenticeship for example. Focusing on the diploma or certification can make a goal appear unreachable. It’s more productive to focus on short-term objectives, incremental improvements, and maintaining your edge. When your concentration shifts from earning a degree to studying, assignments, and exams you will see and feel progress, which results in a sense of accomplishment. This is an effective strategy that works for any goal requiring endurance, from playing an instrument to running an ultra-marathon.

A friend recently asked how my training was coming along for the ultra-marathon. Hmmm, I knew there was something I’d forgotten–the 50K (31 mile) race I registered for. Not a great feeling. But instead of freaking out and focusing on the distance, I considered my overall condition and experience.

I wouldn’t have been able to shift focus had I not kept myself in reasonably good condition and have years of experience–in other words, my edge–nor if I was starting from scratch. I ran a marathon in October and have taken a couple of three-hour runs since. My strategy for the marathon can’t be found in fitness magazines or running books. I stayed in a bubble the entire race–I didn’t look at clocks, did my best to avoid seeing any mile markers, and streamed a lot of really good music. I’m planning a similar strategy for the ultra.

When I was caught slacking on my training, I immediately went out for a three-and-a-half hour run. Time-driven training is something I picked up from a runner on West River Drive in Philly many years ago. He told me that instead of doing the highly touted twenty-mile training run for the marathon he did a three-hour run. I adopted the strategy after I ran the Boston Marathon. Free of qualifying goals and personal records, running became more fun.

So there you have it my friends. Regardless the goal you pursue, think long-term, concentrate on short-term, and revel in your progress. Be happy with what you achieve, every day.Forever Young

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Real-Life Forrest Gump

Jim Brennan:

The story of Steve Fugate, trekking for Kindness and to Love Life. A must read of an incredibly moving story. Credit to runner, writer, humanitarian, and fellow-blogger Chuck Douros who blogs at http://runwritedig.com.

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

14 years ago, Steve Fugate took it upon himself to walk across America, as therapy after losing his son. Through his extraordinary journey, he hoped to spread just one simple message – ‘Love Life’.

Steve FugateIt’s estimated 67-year-old Steve has walked over 34,000 kilometers since he first set out on his legendary treks. Fugate, a native of Florida, had never really been a fan of walking, but he found it to be a great way to spread love after he lost his children. 1999 was a particularly tough year for him. He was going through a failed marriage and his business had taken a hit. To make matters worse, his son Stevie, 26, was convicted of drunk driving. It was all getting a bit too much to handle, so Fugate decided to go trekking on the 2,167 mile Appalachian Trail, leaving his son in charge of the business.

Unfortunately, young Stevie…

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Be Kind, Be Kind, Be Kind, Be Kind

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. “ – Ian Maclaren

Since I first read the “Be Kind” quote in Billy’s obituary, the ‘Be Kind’ theme seems to pop up in the most unlikely places. Today I came across the poem Be Kind  by Michael Blumenthal during my morning reading.

Blumenthal, a lawyer turned poet from Vineland, New Jersey, begins the poem referencing a Henry James quote:

Not merely because Henry James said

there were but four rules of life-

be kind, be kind, be kind, be kind – but

because it’s good for the soul, and,

what’s more, for others…

And ends with this advice:

Oh friends, take

whatever kindness you can find

and be profligate in its expenditure:

It will not drain your limited resources,

I assure you, it will not leave you vulnerable

and unfurled, with only your sweet little claws

to defend yourselves, and your wet little noses,

and your eyes to the ground, and your little feet.

The only thing I will add to that is – Be Kind.

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The Rooms Project – Recovery of Another Kind

Jim Brennan:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. ”

A close friend’s daughter created The Rooms Project for those in recovery. Please give this the widest distribution through all of your networks, because you never know.
Be kind.


Originally posted on The Rooms Project:


There are more than 23 million Americans living in recovery, but people won’t expect us to succeed unless they hear about our success.

The Rooms Project is a photo and audio story series on individuals in recovery from addiction and alcoholism. The goal of this project is to give recovery a voice through the stories of experience, strength, and hope that recovering addicts and alcoholics often hear in “the rooms” of the recovery support groups and meetings they attend.

Each subject is photographed in their own environment, and their stories are told candidly, one-on-one, from one addict/alcoholic to another. Their stories touch on what their lives were like, what happened, and what their lives are like now that they’re clean and sober.

The dates you see with each individual’s story is that person’s sobriety/clean date. The people featured on this site considers themselves to be in long-term recovery, which…

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“The first one is for thirst, the second one is for taste.” – Doc from Cannery Rowguinness

I’m not much for gimmicks, so when I thought to title a post “Beer” to see whether the number of readers would spike, plummet, or remain unchanged I discounted the idea. And then it hit me–beer is a topic I know a great deal about, perhaps more than I do about running.

My Beer History

My first memory of drinking beer was sneaking sips from my father and grandfather’s Ballantine Beer cans on the front steps of my row house in Philadelphia when I was five years old. During the pre-ziptop can era a can opener with a triangular point was required to punch a hole in one side of the can to drink from and one in the opposite side so there wouldn’t be a vacuum. In eight grade I graduated to drinking in the alleyways with my friends, until someone suggested drinking on the gymnasium roof in the schoolyard where we hung out so cops couldn’t chase us anymore. By high school one of my buddies became a legitimate draft card and license counterfeiter, so we were all getting served in bars by the age of eighteen. My friends threw a party for me at McNalley’s to celebrate turning legal drinking age. Ben the bartender ask what the occasion was and one of my buddies told him it was my twenty-first birthday. Ben was pissed. He was the first bartender to ever serve me–on my sixteenth birthday. He got over it pretty quickly and I drank for free the rest of the night.

Changing Habits

As a youngster I drank rotgut. We’d buy whatever was on sale at the deli. Some of the local beers were from the coal cracker region like Iron City, Esslinger, Gibbons, Reading, and Yuengling. Today Yuengling is a popular beer throughout the nation.

With age my taste buds matured, even if I haven’t. I get a hankering for a Guinness, and am partial pale ales. I usually look for a hoppy Dog Fish Head 60 Minute or Yards IPA. The reverse IPA-Guinness combination works well with Doc’s “First one for thirst and second one for taste” theory.

Regulating the Suds

“Why regulate  beer consumption?” you ask. Because drinking will catch up with you. My advice for regulating beer consumption is simple–occupy your time with something you are passionate about so that you don’t spend it all drinking.

I occupy my life with writing, running and family. I have no idea how a writer can produce a clear thought if he is always under the influence or hungover. When I’m writing I have to be clear-headed, which affects the manner in which I behave the night before I write. And these days I can no longer stay out all night at the pub with my friends and wake the next morning a run a half-marathon. I recover much slower than I did in my youth. And now that I have grandchildren, I am more conscious not to be found in a gutter somewhere, not so much for the example I’d set as for the stench they’d have to tolerate. My oldest granddaughter would surely hold her nose and tell me I stink.

So writing, running, kids and grandchildren have become my system of checks and balances against overindulging.

That said, I’m not yet ready for the monastery. In fact, I could go for a Guinness right about now.

Pretzel Park - Manayunk.

Pretzel Park – Manayunk.

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All Are Welcome Here

“All Are Welcome Here.” – jbCover - 24 Years

What began three years ago as a running blog to promote Twenty-four Years to Boston has morphed into a medium to share information and ideas about everything from street art to writing to hiking the Appalachian Trail. I never planned Rite2Run to be a typical running blog. Consequently, my readers and followers include poets, vegetarian cooks, photographers, hikers, cyclists, motorcyclist, writers, fellow-bloggers, adventurers, and oddly enough, even a few runners. And for that I am glad. All are welcome here.

I wrote early this year that I would be spending more time on my writing blog Rite2Scribe and website Writings by Jim Brennan. The transition has been slow, but it is moving in that direction. Some reader asked if I will continue to write about running. My answer is this: There was a time I considered myself a runner who writes, now I consider myself a writer who runs. Running is part of who I am, so yes, it will continue to work its way into my writing.Rite2Run

I plan to release the eBook version of Twenty-four Years to Boston by the end of NovemberGetting the book on the market will be the easy part, getting the word out will take much more work. So pass the word along once the book is available, which I will announce here.

If you’ve read my memoir you know it’s not just about running. It’s about growing up in a blue-collar Philly neighborhood, working at the shipyard on the waterfront, barely graduating from high school, getting a college degree the old fashion way, (going to night classes,) drinking Guinness in corner pubs, hanging out with the guys, raising a family, finding success in the workplace, all weaved into distance running and the quest to run the Boston Marathon.

In other words, it is a story for everybody. All are welcome here.Mural - Mosiac S. St.



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