An excerpt from the new paperback edition of To Be a Runner. . . . "Ever think of giving it a try?" It was a year since my knee surgery. Liam needed new running shoes, so we were back at our local shop, the same place where I decompensated after that morning at the symphony. My youngest son was now a senior captain on the JSerra cross country team, tall, independent, and fully versed in the ritual of purchasing trainers and flats.
I'm waiting for my wife to get her nails done. Thankfully, the Laguna Beach Brewing Company is just across the parking lot from the salon. So here I sit on a picnic table outside, "A Town Called Malice" — one of the great underrated 80s songs — playing on the outdoor speaker system. Today, it's an ironic term in that I feel anything but malice in this special town I call home. . . .
I won my bracket. . . . Thanks to an iffy last-minute foul — and a non-call — I win. As champion, our punishment is that the loser now has to chug a six-pack of the beer of my choosing. Our group numbers several grown men who have achieved considerable success in a wide variety of fields, [b]ut when it came time to select a penalty for losing the bracket, we all resorted to the residue of our college days.
I took the team to Mammoth last month. We've gone every year since 2006 for a week of high altitude training. It's medieval the way I push the kids, running twice a day for a week on mountain trails that are never flat, and in fact always seem to go uphill. For the seniors it's a getaway they look forward to all year, second only to our Hawaii trip in terms of getting away from parental supervision and hanging out with friends. But it's not so easy for the freshmen.
Chiquita Ridge is not an oasis, per se. It's an old cattle trail overlooking two distinct valleys. From the nearest road, it's a quarter mile rise to the top. Those that have never made the hike up the trailhead from Antonio Parkway probably don't even know it's there. But there's a magic to Chiquita Ridge. Once you make that climb, it's as if something in the world becomes lighter.
I've been asked to write a few new essays for an April 2019 paperback edition of To Be A Runner. I'm flattered by the offer. TBAR sold well in its initial release, but didn't enjoy the robust sales of the how-to running books, so I was always hoping for a second chance.
If you follow my Twitter feed (@martinjdugard), you’ll have seen a recurring photo of my office white board counting down the days to the State Meet. It's always 154 days from the first day of practice to that last Saturday in November. Right now the number is at four, which means State is getting close.
The first time I ever got passed by a woman was December 21, 1975. I was running the Christmas Relays, a fifty-mile team event from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay. If you drive that highway, as I did just a couple months ago, it's one of the most scenic stretches of road in America. The pavement parallels and overlooks the Pacific Ocean in many spots. . . . All of that was lost on me back in 1975. I was running a ten-mile leg in a cold winter rain, feeling very sorry for myself and not at all enjoying the view — particularly those rolling stretches of highway that seemed to climb forever. I was fourteen. My dad was off in Vietnam.