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Personal

Category Archives: Personal

Giving and Getting

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The Penguin Chronicles :: December 1995 :: Giving and Getting December has always been a strange time of year for me. In addition to the holidays, my birthday is in December and so this month has become a watershed in my year and in my life. This was the month that society granted me important permissions. In December I became old enough to drive, old enough to get married, old enough to vote, and old enough to drink. I also got my induction notice in December. As a child, though, December could be summed up with one word: toys. Toys!…

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Running Home

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Originally published online and in Runner’s World Magazine There are many advantages to starting to run later in life. Among them is the ability to use running as a means to rediscover memories long forgotten. For me, running is the key that has unlocked the most foreboding doors in the cellar of my psyche. Having had a life before running means there are many people and places which exist for the pre-running me. As that pre-runner recedes into my past, I’ve found I need a guide to take me from the person I was to the person I am becoming….

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If I Can Make it There…

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A few things that New York City Marathon runners – and spectators – can teach the world. One of the biggest thrills of my former life as a trombonist was working with Frank Sinatra. And one of the biggest thrills of working with Sinatra was performing “New York, New York” – it just doesn’t get any better than that. So standing with more than 35,000 runners on the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge at the start of last year’s ING New York City Marathon and listening to Frank blasting through the speakers made me more than a little emotional. It is, after…

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The Chosen Path

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When where you are is where you want to be. It’s a safe bet that I talk to more runners than just about anyone else on the planet. With traveling 300 days a year, my overflowing e-mail inbox, and my own curiosity, I communicate with thousands of runners a year. It’s interesting because I meet so many different kinds of runners: old and young, thin and not so thin, good and awful, and everything in between. But despite their differences, most have one thing in common: They’re either running to or from something. Some are running to a new PR…

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Survival of the Slowest

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We. The few, the proud, the plodding. Steven Pinker, in “The Language Instinct“, suggests that if language didn’t exist, people would be so driven to communicate that they would create a language. So strong is our instinct toward communication that there are almost no recorded instances of groups of people who have not developed a means of talking to one another. Surely our ancestors had a running instinct as well. It’s hard to imagine a community of humans that would not have included runners. Some, though, then as now, were just a little slower than others. The evidence of this…

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Embrace Your Local Penguin

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Sometimes it isn’t the miles but the people who make the run. Of all the changes that running has brought to my life, maybe the most important one is my awareness of my need for people. Having spent most of my first 40 years as a musician, I became accustomed to spending hours alone in a practice room. The practice room became a sanctuary, a safe haven from the pressures of work and relationships and family. I thought running would be the same. I thought that I could simply replace the time alone in the practice room with time alone…

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A Walk in the Park

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One of my favorite runs in London is through Hyde Park. No big surprise. There may not be a more beautiful inner city run anywhere in the world. What may be a surprise to those who simply put on their trainers and run their workout is the full complement of activities going on simultaneously. The park is a smorgasbord of people enjoying their own versions of sport and leisure. To focus on only our own activity is to miss the richness of the mix. In a single hour of a single day in Hyde Park, I’ve seen horses and bicycles,…

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Summer Vacation

By | Bingham, Personal, The Penguin Archives, The Penguin Chronicles | One Comment

Growing up in the 1950s did have some advantages. No, we didn’t have color TV, let alone cable. We didn’t have Playstations or Game Cubes. We didn’t have MP3 players, iPods or cell phones. But one thing we did have was summer vacations. Long, lazy days filled with hope and promise unencumbered by adult organization. Whatever fun we were going to have would have to come from our own imaginations. There were no alarm clocks on those long summer days. The day started when some friend stood outside your house and called your name. The closest you came to planning…

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Setting the Sail

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As runners, we need to cut ourselves some slack to ensure smooth sailing. I’m sure there are times when the magic of being pushed across the water by the power of the wind is exhilarating. But every time I’ve tried to captain a sailboat, the wind has nearly pushed me into the rocks. Clearly, I’m not much of a sailor. My problems have to do with leeway, or, more precisely, the lack of leeway. You see, a sailboat has two sides: the windward side, which faces the wind, and the leeward side, which is away from the wind. A sailboat…

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Come Together

By | Bingham, John "the Penguin" Bingham, Personal, The Penguin Archives, The Penguin Chronicles | No Comments

You might be surprised what Nietzsche and your running buddies have in common. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche really got a bad rap. Either that or he needed a better publicist. There was that whole “God is dead” business that upset so many people and then there’s the “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” quote that’s attributed to him. I actually read one of my favorite Nietzsche quotes in an Outward Bound handbook. In writing about mountain climbing, our boy Friedrich says, “Exhaustion is the shortest way to equality…” I’ve never climbed a mountain so I can’t attest…

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