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The Penguin Chronicles

Category Archives: The Penguin Chronicles

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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Summer Vacation

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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 Penguin Chronicles – Family Values

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I grew up in an extended family. Of course, I didn’t know it was an extended family. All I knew was that it was my family. A mother, father, brother, grandmother, and grandfather. Sometimes there were aunts, uncles, and cousins, depending on how extended the family was. When you’re a child you don’t know any better. I didn’t. I woke up and everybody was there. I guess I figured that every family had the same cast of characters. The good news about an extended family, especially and multi-generational extended family, is that you’re exposed to lots of different world views…

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Setting the Sail… a Classic Chronicle

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The Lesson of Leeway I’m not much of a sailor. That in and of itself may not surprise you. Sailing, I found out, is – or can be – a very busy endeavor. I suppose there are times when everything goes just right and there’s a magic about being out on the water being pushed by the power of the wind. But for me, everytime I’ve tried to sail, the power of the wind has tried to push me into the rocks. It has to do with lee way. Or more precisely, the lack of lee way. You see, there’s…

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Old dog, Old tricks…

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If we set the WayBack machine to the Spring of 1991 we’ll find an overweight, smoking, over-working, Associate Dean at the Oberlin Conservatory who looks a little bit like “the Penguin.” Bigger, duller, less happy, and weighed down not just by body but also by his spirit. At some point you’ll find Dean Bingham picking up an old Peugeot 10-speed with white-wall tires and shift levers on the down tube. And with that purchase his life, my life, changed forever. When I was a kid I loved to ride my bicycle. LOVED it. I started on a ratty 20-incher with…

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Trophy Sniffers

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Winning isn’t about life and death, it’s much more serious than that.  You’ve got to love age-groupers. You know who they are. These are the runners who know what place they’ll get in a local 5K by just looking at the cars in the parking lot. They know who, in their age group, they can beat every time, who they can never beat, and who might give them a run for their money. They are at every race, in every club, all over the country. I know. I’ve met most of them. You know who they are without even thinking…

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