Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What is in a song?

Plenty. I bought a CD and a christian bookstore (Northwestern Book & Bible) because it was $.99. It is called "Cheapskates Volume 2" The lyrics to one song are worth 1000 times what I paid for the CD. There are other great songs on the CD, but I only want to focus on that one.

The Artist is Ace Troubleshooter, the song is Yesterday. Here are the lyrics.

"I remember a different time
I remember a different me
When there was springtime in my heart
But it's winter
And I'm shivering with cynicism now
And I long for yesterday

Yesterday, a day of joy
A day of limitless possibilities
I remember a different boy
With love surrounding
Joy abounding, peace resounding
Where, oh where did that boy go?

What's wrong with me now, God?
My world is gray, so please help me out
I pray
Cuz I wanna live in yesterday

Take me back to a time of naivete
Neverending days
And no need to question things
Cuz I'm tired of staring out my window
Wishing I were someone I should be
I guess I remember a different me"

I love my wife, I love my kids, I am content with my life, but there are times when the world looks so gray. These lyrics hit the nail on the head.

Bruce Who?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Old Friends

Out of something bad comes something good.

I have heard that saying before and just experienced a wonderful example of how it is true.

A little more than a month ago, a really good friend of mine, El Dougo, suffered the loss of his mom. During the course of contacting old friends to let them know this, the idea of putting a reunion together came up. Apparently, the idea has come up in the past, but the ball never got rolling more that a few feet before it got tangled up in the thick weeds in the ball field of life. (Nice metaphor, eh?).

Lyssy, who lives up in Anchorage, suggested that she & I plan the stupid thing out. She was gonna be in the Cities around July 4th. We could plan the reunion around that time so she could come, too.

That made sense, but I thought it was the kiss of doom for the idea. I am such a good planner, that my wife had to plan her own 40th birthday party to make sure it got done right. No matter how good of an Cruise Director Lyssy is, getting me involved would certainly slow the process down and doom it to the inevitable "Woulda, coulda, shoulda, didn't" fate of so many other things in the past.

A couple weeks ago, a spark flared up and I sent out an email to the few Quad Squadders who I had address for, the Mamma's Boys that would maybe want to attend the event and and a few others who might also want to be there. I included an open invitation to include anyone they thought would be interested in attending. The list of names from the past is growing and I am so excited, and I just can't hide it, I'm about to lose control and I think I like it. (bad 80's song lyric reference)

I haven't seen a majority of the people who are coming in over 10 years. Imagine that, 10 years! This is the group of people where I spent almost every weekend and most of my free time hanging out with. This is the group of people I chose to spend time with when I came up to the Cities instead of weeing my parents or brother. I spent all of my 20's hanging out with them and shared a huge chunk of life's experiences with them. We suffered , discovered and celebrated life together for over a decade. The thought, back then , of not seeing them at the very least monthly, seemed impossible. They were fun, good looking and often time, way more adventurous than I was. I grew so much because of them.

The "big" event is happening. June 30, 2008. Como Picnic Shelter. A beautiful setting to get together with a bunch of incredible friends that I haven't seen in way too long of a time.

Sher Pie, Plumpke (no that isn't Morris Day, "Jerome, get me my hat!), John 1, Lyssy aka Millie aka Mildew aka Cruella DeVille), Paige aka booker, Marcia, Em, Cindy aka Happy Happy, Drainage(you gott eat me I'm a danish),Smedley, Rhonda aka Rhoda aka Road Kill, Lo, Pork Chop, Picht O'Sh!t, Stain, Beef, T-Bone, Annie, Pooker, George, Molly, Joe Mamma, El Dougo, Stooch.

Is it June, yet?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A letter to a Radio Guy

This is a copy of the email I sent to Chris Hawkey. On Saturday, he was the co-Grand-Marshall of the St. Paul St. Patrick's Day Parade. Did I shake "The SuperStar's" hand? Hell know I only wanted to thank Hawk.


I am the big lunk who shook your hand and thanked you just before the start of the parade on Saturday. I just wanted to thank you again for inspiring me to get off my fat ass and start running.

When you started training for Grandma's over a year ago, you kept saying that everyone should read "The Courage to Start", by John Bingham Listening to your recount the trials and tribulations of your training runs awakened a fire in me. When I was in Junior High, I used to run the 800m. I wanted to run again . It was December 2006 and the thought of my getting my 42 year old, 6' 3" and 275 pound carcass running again seemed impossible. As it turns out, it wasn't.

In January 2007, I started running. My first time out, I ran one block, walk one block and repeat that for a total of 1.2 miles. I was gassed. Every week, I kept hearing your about your struggles and triumphs while training for both the Grandma's and the Helsinki Marathons and that kept me going. I finally decided I needed to run a race to be complete. I chose the James Page 5k Blubber Run in September (you got a free Brat and 2 free beers and the end of the race, perfect). I beat my goal of 30 minutes by finishing in 29:57. I set my goals higher and have since run the Turkey Day 5k (28:47) and the Securian Frozen Half-Marathon (2:27:27).

I am now 255 lbs. That is still not skinny, but hell, I ran 11 miles in under two hours on Saturday morning before I went to the St Patrick's Day Parade. Last year , if you would have told me that, I would have suggested you put down the Hookah pipe and give your brain a rest. Up next, the Lake Mtka half on May 4 and Grandma's Marathon on June 21st. I have done the hard work, but you provided the inspiration. I will be forever grateful.

If you need inspiration to get running again. I suggest you listen to the Phedippidations podcast at It is an informative, inspirational and entertaining show dedicated to marathon running.

On Fan Motorsports, you have had Dennis Michelsen and John Daly on as guests. You also have Suzie (aka Sweet17) on as a regular contributor. All three are active on I am semi-active (RoyBoy21). I think it would be a great idea to get one of the main guys from Rowdy (Buck Fever, Bass Masters or Buzz Cutler) on the show. Fan Motorsports got a nice plug on the January 29th show. I have attached the show. They talk about Fan Motorsports about 20 minutes into the show.

If your band decides to play Kolacky Days in Montgomery again, go to the softball fields and have a beer with the Mamma's Boys. We are the 18 time defending Beer-Drinking Trophy Champions (hence the 255 lbs). If I don't see you there, maybe it will be at Torge's in Spam Town. My lovely wife is from there.

Thank you again for the inspiration that you have given me. Thank you, too, for the the entertainment you provide every morning and every Saturday afternoon.

Thank you,
Ron Steiner

No, I don't believe in hero worship. No, I don't want to suck his dick. I just wanted to thank the man for providing the inspriation to help turn around my lethargic life. It is good to have a goal in my life again , and not just to exist for the sake of existing.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The fat, running slob

Here are the facts:

43 years old; 6' 3"; 255 lbs; manager of a credit union branch; husband; father of 2 (girl 11 & boy 9); runner; social drinker (I can be too "sociable"); NASCAR fan; self important; Catholic; self critical; smart @ss;

I was a fat and sedentary bum. When I played softball for the "Mamma's Boys", I was an out-of-shape, drunken slob, who would get winded running from home plate to second base. I was fast. I could stretch a slow-rolling single into a double because the right fielder never expected a guy like me to have wheels. Outwardly, it was great to be congratulated by Hondo, Joe Mamma or Animal when my speed resulted in an extra run , but inwardly, my spirit was crushed because I realizes I was a fat tub of goo. I wanted to change, but it would take way too much effort, too much time and I didn't believe it could ever come true.

My rescue came from an unlikely source. It came from a radio "DJ".

Chris Hawkey is a member of KFAN 1130's morning radio show, "The Power Trip", in Minneapolis. Even though he was several years younger than me, he said he used to be in the same boat as I was. Fat, growing older and out-of-shape. He impressed me because he was starting to train to run a marathon. The thing that lit a fire under his belt was a book by
John "The Penguin" Bingham called The Courage to Start. Chris swore that if you wanted to be a runner, but were convinced that the laws of physics guaranteed that you would never be one, this book would convince you that you were wrong.

I read the book and was inspired enough to start running in January, 2007. My first run consisted of 2 laps around our "block". Each run consisted of: 100 yards-slow jog, 50 yards-walk, 100 yards-slow jog, 50 yards walk, etc. I ran 2 times a week and worked my way up to running 2.5 miles non-stop.

I continue running once or twice a week until June. My weekly maximum never exceeded
5 miles a week. A really good friend of mine, Jon, was training for the Twin Cities Marathon and told me about this podcast called "Phedippidations". WTF was that? He said it was a podcast that was dedicated to running. He liked it, I respect his opinion and figured I should give it a try. After all, he was running 6 or 8 mile non-stop on his long runs, maybe that would inspire me?!?

When I listened to the first episode, I thought it was pretty good. Steve, the "host", had a Monty Python sense of humor, a honest presentation and a huge passion for running. The second episode was also good, but the third episode was the kicker. That episode, "Fdip92: A Duel in the Sun", was a recap of the 1982 Boston Marathon Duel between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley. The combination of race audio and commentary blew me away! I had chills running down my spine as I lay in the grass watching my son Jacob, play his U10 soccer game.

At this point, I decided that I needed to be more serious about my running and commit myself to running a race. I decided I could run a 5k without killing myself. I looked online at the different races that happened around the Twin Cities and found the perfect one. The James Page 5K Blubber Run. What a perfect race for a fat, drunken slob to run. At the end of the race, you received two free beers from James Page Brewing Co. and an free bratwurst. It was a match made in heaven.

My goal was to run the 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes. My only reason for choosing 30 minutes was that it was a nice round number. I was sure, that with minimum effort, I would be able to meet that goal.

I went to "Runner's World" magazine's website and printed out a 5K training log for me to follow so I could reach that goal. I ran 3 days a week. I knew that because I had a set schedule to follow, I would. Had it said run 8-10 miles a week on your own time. I would inevitably end up running 5 or 6 miles a week sporadically. I made a conscience effort to follow the schedule and ended up doing it.

I read about the race from a local racing website. Because the official website was hosted by a brewing company, the firewall at work blocked me from accessing it. I trusted what it told me.

On race day, I piled into my car and headed to Hennepin & Washington in Minneapolis. This was the registration spot the racing website mentioned. I drove by, didn't see anything that looked like race booths, but I was a rookie, I had never done this before and I was there 90 minutes before the start of the race. I found a spot to park and headed back to the spot. Luckily I wasn't the only numb-nuts who thought the race started in that empty parking lot. It was even more lucky that one of the people standing there called a buddy who was at the real starting line half a mile away, on the other side of the Mississippi River by Harriet Island and Riverplace.

I found a spot on Harriet Island to park, asked a few people on the bridge that lead off the island where the race registration was and hustled to designated area. When I got there, it was really cool. There was a band playing on the stage behind the registration desk. This was the same park where I watched the City of Minneapolis 4th of July fireworks. It is on the north end of the Stone Arch Bridge. I got my number, t-shirt, a bottle of water and headed to the starting line.

I stood near the back of the pack and realized that not everyone was taking this as "seriously" as I was. 5 or 6 guys were dressed as huge construction cones and at least 50 were dressed up as cans or keg or glasses of beer. (James Page, of course) The real kicker was the two guys at the front of the line dressed up in cross-country ski gear, including skis. I decided I would need to stay on the outside edge and pass the stragglers.

The race started and I kept to the outside left edge. An added benefit of keeping wide left was that I avoided the uneven cobblestone road. After a few hundred yards, there was a right-handed turn to where we would cross over the Stone Arch Bridge. Right before the bridge entrance, a dog, who was being "run/walked" by a woman dressed up in scrubs, squatted and took a dump. Luckily, I was 6 feet to the left of the cable-laying canine.

On the bridge, casual runners in front of me were lined up 3 and 4 abreast. This is really tight when you consider the 2176 foot railroad bridge, which was built in 1883, is only 28 feet wide. This was complicated even more by the string of morons who insisted on crossing the extremely crowded bridge against traffic. "Idiots! You're ruining my race!"

I realized during the race that it was a lot harder to run a 9:20/mile race pace than it was to run twice that distance at my 11:30/mile training pace. Thank God there was a water stop at the top of the hill near the half-way point.

After I crossed the Plymouth Avenue bridge, we headed back toward the starting line. The end was getting closer. We weaved through a parking lot and crossed a skinny pedestrian/bike bridge to get back on Harriet Island. On that narrow gravel path, the everyone bunched up. I was able to sneak around the left side of a couple who were telling each other stories. "C'mon, move over! Fat guy runnin' thru!"

I ran by the parking lot where I parked my car, turned to cross over the bridge that I crossed over before, and headed to the finish. I ran the final 150 yards in the gutter instead of on the cobblestone street and punched the stop button on my Garmin 205 watch as I crossed the finish line.

29:57!! I did it! I got my lazy @ss of the couch and ran 3 mile faster than I had ever run in my life.

I bought two St. Pauli Girls to drink while I waited in the 30-minute long line to get my two free James Page beers. I then drank those two brews while I waited in 30-minute line for my free bratwurst. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd have to rate that morning as a 8.5 or 9. I reached my goal of running a race when I was sure, in the past, that I would never do that again. The only improvements I could wish for were a shorter beer line and warmer post-race weather.

I came, I trained, I conquered. I was a Runner!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

It is all Stooch's fault

Over the years, Tim has been journaling. He records his thoughts and emotions, composes lyrics and writes down his dreams. He has been doing this for many, many years. I have known about Stooch's writing for about 15 years. I am sure that Steely Dan and Springsteen are the main causes of this. I thought that was so cool. I even thought I should try to do it. The end result of my feeble attempt; two entries in a green spiral-bound notebook, spread over a 15-month span, predicting gloom and doom and watching it come to fruition.

That pitiful attempt happened almost 10 years ago. New Year's Eve, a dozen too many beers and a running podcast called Phedippidations have ignited the fire in me to write.

Here is the scene: The party at Stooch's house was more than a success. The Mamma's Boys and their lovely wives made the trip down to South Fork where memories were re-lived, good food was abundant and many beers were consumed. After the "climax" of watching the tape-delayed dropping of the crystal ball in Times Square, it was time to get ready to bust a move. People gathered up their kids and coolers and prepared to let the Designate Driver's do their Saintly duty. Throw a few more verbal jabs at an over-served buddy and wrestle with the other passengers for "shotgun" on the ride over to Bad Scoob and Chief's place or El Dougo & Cherie's farm.

Then it was 2:00 am. Tim's wife said goodnight, reminded us to keep the music and the laughter down and scampered up to bed. After a few more beers and a few more gentle reminders from Barb to shut the hell up, we realized it was time to retire to the study for some serious B.S. and philosophy. I went downstairs to grab the next 2 rounds of beer. Tim threw in a "Blue Hawaiians" CD and brought out his journals.

No more were they the cheap-ass Mead college-ruled spiral notebooks. Now he was writing in leather-bound journals the size of the new Guinness Book of World Records that my wife insists buying every f-ing year. After pointing out a few entries and letting me read some poems and lyrics, he did something that I am sure he regretted. He handed me a pen and the journal and asked me if I would like to make the first entry for 2008.

When I was done, he was pissed. Either he was to loaded to make it obvious that it was just an empty offer or I was to blasted to take the obvious hint. Either way, he wasn't too happy to have his Sacred Scroll desecrated by a non-believer like me.

That entry provided the spark, and the Phedippidations podcast and its insistent creator, Steve Runner, fanned the flame. One of the persistent themes that its creator, Steve, drills into your head, is the importance of creating your own blog to share your thoughts and dreams with other runners.

This blog will not be exclusively about running, the subject will certainly be intertwined in my jottings. My thoughts are way to scattered and my knowledge base is way to limited to do a full-time running blog. The few people who stumble onto this will hopefully re-visit this a few times to see what carnage is coming out of my feeble mind. It is like seeing a car upside-down in the ditch next to the interstate. You may say a prayer that nobody was seriously hurt, yet you can't keep from slowing down to see how much damage is done to the vehicle and if there is a severed head laying on the ground.

Blogging is kind of like going to Confession. When you go to Confession, the Priest isn't the one who forgives your sin. God does that. You can ask God for forgiveness on your own and you are good to go. The Priest is just the sounding board and the conduit. By stating your sins in front of another person, you are more able to realize where you went wrong. It is easier to accept God's forgiveness when you put it out there for another person to hear. The same is true for writing blogs. While no person may ever read the words that I write, it feels good to just to write it down and get it out in the open. This blog is my confession and you are the priest.

If you are, were or would like to be a runner, I strongly suggest two things. Read the book The Courage to Start by John Bingham, and listen to the Phedippidations podcast. Check out the book from your local library or buy it at your local bookstore. Download the podcast from I read that book and I listen to fdip religiously. I am a runner because of that book and that podcast. I never thought I would ever say that again.

Well, it is well after 1:00am and I have a 9-miler to run tomorrow morning. Time for this 43 year old Clydesdale to hit the hay.