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The Penguin Chronicles

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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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White Line Fever

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

Believe it or not, the human machine can equal the power of a Harley. Until I discovered running, I had only two passions in life: music and motorcycles. Each fueled the other, and employment in one usually meant greater opportunities to pursue the other. For many years, this combination was perfect – I worked long enough as a freelance musician to build a financial base, then rode long enough to need the next gig. Maintaining the balance between time and money was tricky, but with care and a willingness to consume nothing more than peanut butter and beer, it was…

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My Way or the Highway

By | Personal, The Penguin Archives, The Penguin Chronicles | No Comments

Sometimes it pays to ask for directions. My wife, Jenny, recently gave me a GPS navigation unit – not the kind you run with but the kind for your car. Plug in your destination, and the GPS calculates directions. Mine had a name (Jack) and a voice that talks you through the directions. I was so excited to go on my first test-drive with Jack. I punched in my destination – my son’s house – and eagerly waited for Jack to figure out how to get there. Of course, I knew the way. I simply wanted to have some fun…

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Summer Vacations

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

Growing up in the 1950s did have some advantages. No, we didn’t have color TV, let alone cable. We didnt 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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The Competitive Edge

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

You just don’t realize how competitive you are, until you meet someone who’s slower. There we were. Two middle-aged men in a Firebird on a summer night in southern California. The top was down, the V-8 was rumbling. We were just driving around, minding our own business. There he was. A 20-something young man in some kind of four-cylinder Euro-sport sedan with loud mufflers. He kept racing his engine, waiting for the light to turn green. I looked over at Ken. Without saying a word, we knew what had to be done. When the light changed, I gave the young…

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Tools and Rules

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Simple, essential lessons on running maintenance from a place you might not expect: the garage. When I was in my 20s, I spent a number of years working as a professional motorcycle mechanic. I knew just enough to get the job but not nearly enough to do it. One of the first lessons I learned from Stuart, a crusty older mechanic, was that there are a few immutable principles: (1) if it can be lubricated, it needs to be lubricated; (2) if it can be adjusted, it needs to be adjusted; (3) if it’s worn out, replace it; and (4)…

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Better Than Ever

By | The Penguin Chronicles | One Comment

When all you are is all you can be. One of my favorite books is a little tome by Jess Laire entitled “I Ain’t Much, Baby, But I’m All I’ve Got” (Doubleday: New York: 1972) I happened to read it at an earlier time in my life – where being what I was, wasn’t all I wanted to be. The shortest synopsis of the book is that you are what you are and you can choose to spend your life frustrated by what you aren’t or learn to be grateful for what you are. In those days, my goal was…

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A League of Their Own

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

One man’s experience at an all-women’s marathon. Even though I’m an xy-chromosome-carrying member of our species, I ran the inaugural Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in 2004 because: (a) I like running in San Francisco; (b) it sounded like a cool event; and (c) I am a man and, therefore, fairly dense. Actually, when it comes to some important male/female dynamics, I’m an idiot. And it goes beyond the “seat up/seat down” controversy. Who decided that the floor isn’t a perfectly acceptable place to keep clothes between wearings? And why can’t I dry my wet winter running gloves in…

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The Inner Penguin

By | Personal, The Penguin Archives, The Penguin Chronicles | No Comments

The Inner Penguin I’m a 90’s guy. Or at least I was. That all seems so… “20th Century” now. I’m not ready to call myself a “zero” guy, but I’ll bet there are others that might. I’m in touch with my feminine side, I know all about male bounding, and I am way too in touch with my inner child.  But, I am just beginning to learn how to be in touch with my inner Penguin. I didn’t even know that there WAS an inner penguin at first. I thought that being a penguin was about being satisfied with what…

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Miles to Go

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

Here is an early Penguin Chronicle that may help to put the whole “Penguin phenomenon” into perspective. As you can tell from the tone of the column, no one was more surprised by how this started than me. From time to time I get insights into how my life is changing – and how running has become the change agent. Those of you who, by nature or by training, are better tuned to your own psyches may scoff at the density of my awareness. Be reminded that I have been no more inclined to be open with myself than I…

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