Archive for the ‘NYC Marathon 2010’ Category

Runnin’ for the Sheriff

admin | December 3, 2010 in Endurance,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (3)

Okay…I guess my pal Shawn is officially a “Deputy Sheriff.”  I have no clue as to what his day-to-day gig is like, but when it hits the fan, I’m sure it really doesn’t matter.

And THAT…I DO know about Shawn.

We met last year, not long after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  It was at one of our concerts, and he had gone through hell and high water to get his wife, Chrissy, there.  Tim McGraw is one of her favorites, and Shawn had made arrangements to attend and celebrate his love for her and his appreciation for the strength she shares through her care of her husband.

It was there I began to learn his story, though he doesn’t say much.  His typical attitude is more “smile,” then “yeah, still goin’ at it,” and then “what do YOU need?”

We’ve become friends, and as he has continues to go toe-to-toe in his medical fight, he continues to throw the light on others. When I told him that I would like to run the New York City Marathon with Team McGraw in recognition of his example of spirit and perseverance, I learned more.

His uncle, Marty, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1981, also suffering a seizure, heart attack and stroke.  He survived and is currently a Jesuit missionary in Nepal.

His mother passed at age 67, the result of her own tumor, in 2004.  She never complained, and both he and his father were at her side, holding her hands, as she made her transition to Heaven.

Oh, yeah…and there’s Shawn’s tumor, discovered in 2009.  He had surgery. Went through chemotherapy.  Never stopped to ask “Why, me?”   Treated it and moved forward, looking for someone else that needed his support.

Like Jedidiah Lusk.  A young boy confronting a battle no young boy should.  Shawn has taken up Jedidiah as his own source of inspiration, championing this boy’s fight with unending enthusiasm.  He shares Jedidiah’s story, often before his own, and works to support benefit projects for the Lusk family, even as he continues to fight his own battle.

Shawn never bothered to tell me about the events held in his honor in California by his brothers and sisters in the sheriff’s department.  He didn’t mention Congressman Tom McClintock’s public statements in the Washington, DC house chamber in recognition of Deputy Shawn Webb’s spirited example and the impact he has made on so many around him.

Nope…Shawn told me about everybody else.  The rest…I had to “Google.”

My planned run at the New York City Marathon didn’t happen.   So tomorrow, I will run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon instead.

It’ll get tough.  It’ll hurt.  When it does, I’ll take a deep breath, dig a little deeper, and remember the patch Shawn gave me from the Plumas County Sheriff’s Department… stashed in my pocket and carried through the marathon.

Fight on, pal.

To support my run in recognition of Shawn and his battle, please visit my fundraising page and make a donation to the Tug McGraw Foundation; your donation will help to improve the quality of life for patients confronting brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress.

McMahon Switches Gears for St. Jude Memphis Marathon

admin | December 2, 2010 in Endurance,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (4)

(Race photo from St. Jude Memphis Marathon website.)

“Well, if you don’t run New York, you’ve gotta run somethin’,” says Coach Kevin. I don’t disagree. I’m not totally ready, but I’ve trained up pretty good. Better than last year. I’d hate to let the mileage buildup go to waste, but…well, okay…what are the options?

I look for something close to Nashville. Rocket City Marathon in Alabama? Closed. Philadelphia? It’s closed, too, but I think maybe I can pull a Team McGraw card. After all, Tug McGraw, our namesake, won the World Series for them.

The Christmas Marathon in Washington sounds interesting, bein’ Christmas and all. Then again, what if a field full of of overzealous running anti-Scrooges all lace bells into their shoes? Jingle, jangle, jingle…for 26.2 miles. No.

The phone rings; Coach Kevin has already made the call.

The St. Jude Memphis Marathon on December 4, 2010.  He lives in Memphis, and he knows this race inside and out. He’s wired, so he was able to get me a spot in the race through “Can’t Stop Endurance.” It’s just a few hours from Nashville…and he has a bunk for me. Sounds like a plan.

Kevin had planned to run Memphis himself before he got sidelined with an injury, so I guess I’m kinda runnin’ in his stead. I’m Danny Zuko from Grease, sliding behind the steering wheel of “Greased Lightning” after Kevin’s Kenickie gets clocked in the head by one of the Pink Ladies before the drag race at Thunder Road.

Memphis it is. I hope I’m ready. I’m no “Greased Lightning,” but I’ll try not to crash.

“I got chills…they’re multiplyin’”…

NYC Marathon Cancelled Due to Broken Coach

admin | November 29, 2010 in Endurance,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (6)

Coach Kevin (right) and I search through the dense field of runners for approaching Team McGraw jerseys...or anybody else seemingly in trouble.

“I’m in the hospital,” said Kevin, the national coach for Team McGraw.  “My foot’s all screwed up.  We are waiting on test results, but I’m still planning to make it to New York.”

Ouch.  That wasn’t part of our plan.  I was set to run the 2010 New York City Marathon in November with Team McGraw.  Training had gone pretty well, though touring Australia with Mr. McGraw through the fall did make training a bit challenging.  Still, things were pretty on track.

Meanwhile, Coach Kevin Leathers has had the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December on his radar all year.  He runs crazy fast.  Painful fast.  Qualify for the Boston Marathon fast.  I’m not there; that’s why he’s “Coach Kevin.”  His plan was to set a PR (personal record) in Memphis.

We are both runners.  We love getting out there.  But it is so much more important for us to be available to our runners, our team, those that have trained so hard in dedication to the fight against brain tumors and traumatic brain injury.

Coach Kevin gives some final pointers to our runners after their easy warmup run the morning before the marathon.

If we are out there as runners, we aren’t really available during the race to advise, offer injury assistance, or generally just “attaboy” the folks.  Things can get dark in the toughest of moments in the marathon, and we want to help our folks make it through the tougher spots.  And we’re both runners, so we know…even a well-placed smile along a grueling race course can make all the difference.

The path was clear; I would not be running New York this year.

Fortunately, our resilient – (some say hard-headed) – Coach Kevin did make it out of the hospital just in time to catch his flight.  He wouldn’t be running, or even really mobile, but he was gonna be there.  Foot bound in a protective boot.  Crutches in hand.

Luggage…that’s my job.  You keep up with the crutches, pal. Sit down.  SIT DOWN.  I’ve got it.  You wanna help?  Sure.  Carry my cell phone and hush; you are on “injured reserve.”

Coach Kevin and I spent the weekend of the ING New York City Marathon on the sidelines – in truth, a much more gratifying place to be.  We were there to see each of our runnin’ brothers and sisters smile, warm up, fret, pose, stretch, start, sail, breathe, relax, laugh, hurt, fret, strain, worry, walk, frown, run, grimace, persist, growl, endure…and finish.  Awesome.

Not once did I regret choosing not to run.  But Coach Kevin, he had no intentions of letting me off the hook completely.

”Uh…yeah, Coach?  You wanted to talk to me?”

Marathon Walk

admin | September 17, 2010 in Endurance,Music,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (2)

We are roughly a month into the “Southern Voice” tour; Tim and the boys have found our groove after the first series of concert dates, and fans are rockin’ the house with us every night. It is good to be back in musical motion.

We’ve rolled through Nashville, home, for only a day, and then it’s right back to the airport.  We are headed to Mr. Sinatra’s “city that never sleeps” – yeppers, New York City – for our March 3 morning performance on Good Morning America. They’re some good folks over there, and we haven’t wandered through their doors since the Let It Go album came out three years ago.

Now host Robin Roberts did catch our show when working on a 2009 TV special with McGraw.  She ran us down in Pittsburgh last September; we were there to kick off the opening of the NFL season, and we also shared one of our last-minute “Bread and Water” charity gigs with her there, so hugs have been swapped and laught have been had.  Even so, it is great to be back in the city to perform and see the rest of the GMA bunch!

Of course, for ME – after running the New York City Marathon in 2007 and 2008, coaching our Team McGraw runners through the 2009 race, and now training for my own 2010 run on November 7 – being in “The City” really has become all about the New York City Marathon.  I just can’t be there anymore without reflecting on the excitement of streets swollen with runners and the anticipation of one of the greatest races in the world.

Our plane touches down, and it’s straight to the hotel.  The boys head out to snag lunch. I snag my runnin’ shoes instead – destination, Central Park.  The NYC Marathon course famously winds through all five boroughs, but it is in Central Park where thousands of spectators cheer on exhausted runners through the last mile of their way to the finish line.

A quick chat with our hotel concierge confirms; “out the door, take a left, then another left and keep going until you hit the park.  You can’t miss it.”  I hit the sidewalk and immediately begin my constant negotiation with the world in perpetual motion.

“Go, no, wait, no…are you gonna go?” The signal flashes “Don’t walk.”  Honk.  “Dude, you’re in the middle of the…never mind.  Sorry ma’am.”  That is my foot, you know.  Hi.  “No, I…hi.  Pardon.  Yeah, is Central Park that…?  Thanks.”  Woah.  That was close.  Seriously?  Am I the only person in New York City going the other way?  What do they know that I don’t?

Am I going to make my way there only to find out that Wally World is closed for the season?  “Sorry, folks…parks closed.”

There it is; I made it.  Central Park.  Walkers and runners and horse-drawn carriages and street vendors and chalk artists and amateur photographers.  It isn’t where it all happens; it is where a lot happens.

But for a marathoner, after all the training and struggle and planning and work and anticipation…Central Park is where it all comes together in a hail of celebration, determination and resolve.

March 3, 2010: McMahon (second from left) is pictured with his band mates Deano (left) and Billy (right) at the news desk for GOOD MORNING AMERICA with host George Stephanopoulos.

I make a few circles through the park for a total of three miles; it’s all I’ve got time for, but it’s enough.  I’ve gotten my taste, logged my miles, and now it’s back to the hotel and to the music business at hand.  Our new single, “Still,” sails out to radio this week, and tomorrow morning, on Good Morning America, we will perform it on television for the first time…and for the rest of the world.

I glance up and catch a street sign on my way back to the hotel: “Marathon Walk.”

I can’t wait for November.

Dancehall Doctor Jeff McMahon Lives Large

admin | June 1, 2010 in Endurance,Music,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (3)

Lorilee Craker, a writer for the Grand Rapids Press and author of numerous books including Through the Storm by Lynne Spears (mother of superstar Britney Spears), tracked me down for an interview as our tour buses rolled through Michigan a few months back.  Her article below was originally published by the Grand Rapids Press on February 25, 2010.

In working through the interview, Lorilee kept commenting on the flurry of varied activities bearing my fingerprints; I was  “living large,” she said.  I’ve never really thought in those terms, and my days typically feel more full than frantic, but if I look back at the past three months, I guess I do cover a lot ground.

Since our stop in Grand Rapids, the “Southern Voice” tour has hit 24 additional cities.  My snowboard and I have left our marks in Wisconsin, Nevada, and Whistler, Canada.  I have logged more than a few miles with some of my Team McGraw runners in Florida, Michigan, California and Texas…and the 2010 New York City Marathon remains on the horizon.

The wheels keep rolling, and I keep runnin’.

Thanks, Lorilee, for taking the time to share our new music, support our work with both Team McGraw and the Tug McGraw Foundation, and offer a glimpse into my somewhat restless world…and I’ll see you next time we roll through your backyard.

For more on Lorilee, visit her website at

McMahon (right) and his bandmate/fiddler Dean Brown of Tim McGraw's band, the Dancehall Doctors. (Photo by Kyle Dreier |

GRAND RAPIDS (Feb. 25, 2010) — As keyboard player for the Dancehall Doctors, Jeff McMahon’s been touring for almost 17 years with his buddy Tim McGraw, but when he’s not tickling the ivories onstage, McMahon is sure to be up to something equally exhilarating.

Whether it’s goose hunting in Manitoba, deep sea fishing in Florida, running from rim to rim of the Grand Canyon or serving as director of Team McGraw, a charity that raises funds for brain cancer research and services, McMahon wants to do it all.

“I couldn’t tell you who’s on American Idol, but dadgummit, I’m going to experience some things,” he said from a tour stop on McGraw’s “Southern Voice” tour, which stops Saturday in Grand Rapids.

The 45-year-old McMahon is chronicling his existence-affirming odyssey on his new blog, He blogs about marathons (he’s completed the New York City Marathon several times), his work for the Tug McGraw Foundation, and lots and lots of “road stories.”

After nearly two decades with McGraw, the two are close friends and his bandmates in the Dancehall Doctors are like brothers. Since 2002, when McGraw kicked the Nashville norm by making a record — Tim McGraw and The Dancehall Doctors — with his touring band (as opposed to session musicians), he Doctors have been in the mix, recording the songs they play live. That includes the hits “Live Like You’re Dying” released in 2004 and 2007’s “Let it Go.”

The title track on 2009’s “Southern Voice,” a No. 1 hit, transcends North and South, McMahon insists. “The song is simple, not in the sense of being uneducated, but the core of it: that at the end of the day, the same things are important to people — honesty, decency, hard work and courage.”

“You’re immersed in a working culture, where you wake up first thing in the morning to go to work to provide for your loved ones,” he said. “Whether you farm or build cars, hard work is hard work.”

McMahon, who is single, has worked hard for a cause he’s fervent about: The Tug McGraw Foundation. Named for Tim McGraw’s late father, Tug, who died of brain cancer in 2004, the foundation was established in 2003 to enhance the quality of life for children and adults with brain tumors

The Texas native also leads Team McGraw, an outgrowth of the foundation that encourages people affected by brain debilitating conditions — such as survivors and their friends and family, or loved ones of those who have died — to run or walk a race of any length and raise funds for the cause.

“Whether you walk a local 5K or join us at a marathon, we’ll put together a training program for you that’ll get you from the sofa to the finish line,” he said.

For McGraw, McMahon, and the rest of The Dancehall Doctors, the “finish line” of their 70-plus city tour is a long way away, but that’s just fine with the piano man. He promises fans a rowdy good time at each “Southern Voice” tour stop.

“This is the first huge tour we’ve done without Faith (Hill, McGraw’s superstar wife, who last toured with him in 2007),” he said. (Correction: this is the largest tour we’ve done SINCE touring with Faith in 2007.) “They shared things with the audience that were very different than what Tim and the boys are going to share, let’s put it that way. Both are good, but very different.”

Timposter Drops Costume and Runs For Real

admin | May 21, 2010 in Endurance,Music,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (10)

I met him for the first time in Pittsburgh in September of 2009.  I was in town with Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors for the official kickoff of football season – a huge gig – but we also did a small “under the radar” gig the night before at the Pepsi Roadhouse, a small club that we packed out to raise money for charity.

He caught THAT show, and we met in passing. Shot a photo.  I remember he asked me some questions about running with Team McGraw…like he was thinking about it.

Lee Crites. I’ve not seen his show, but I know the story.  I’ve seen the video clips.  He is a Tim McGraw impersonator in Michigan – dresses the part, performs the tunes, and makes a living as a down-home doppelganger.

I love that I used doppelganger.  I crack myself up.  Lee prefers tribute artist; more often than not, I’ve come to refer to him instead as our team Timposter. (Rhymes with imposter.) Yep…after a few months of training and quiet deliberation, he’s signed up and ready to run the New York City Marathon with me and the rest of Team McGraw!

We actually went for run together at our concert stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan back in February.  I had a break before soundcheck that afternoon, so we connected at the arena and went for a short run through downtown.

It was icy, snowy, slushy.  Not built for speed, but for trepidation.  Care was needed to avoid unwanted twisted ankles.  Even so, Lee kept a good pace on our little jaunt.  He’d been training already, and with many months left until the marathon in November, it would seem our “Timposter” was on track for the big race!

It’s kinda funny, though.  He did sorta look like Tim, even when he showed up to run…but not REALLY.  Then again…even the REAL Tim doesn’t always look like himself sometimes.  “I saw The Blind Side twice, and I didn’t even recognize him!” I’ve heard folks say that.  Sure, if Tim’s got on the stage armor…but in regular clothes…

Hang on a second…now that I think about it, I’ve NEVER seen these two guys standing together…just like you never saw Bruce Wayne and Batman at the same time…

No…it couldn’t be.

Guinea Pig To Run New York City Marathon 2010

admin | May 10, 2010 in Endurance,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (6)

I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower complete the New York City Marathon.  Numerous hulking ballerinas and “Larry the Lighthouse” have all crossed the finish line.  More Elvises – (El-VI?) – than I can count.

And they’re adding a guinea pig to this year’s mix.

That would be me.  On November 7, 2010, I will run the New York City Marathon for the third time; when it’s done, it’ll be my sixth marathon.  I’ll run it for many reasons, most of them the kind that make your heart race, pump, or break.

"Larry the Lighthouse" guides the way in New York City in 2008.

It comes with the territory; as an athlete, I am physically stronger because I train to be.  As a charity runner, I am touched by those that courageously fight a disease seeking to tear folks apart.  My heart races with the inspiration of those that have touched it, pumps with enthusiasm from those that enrich it, and breaks with the knowledge that this disease exists to be fought.

As to the “guinea pig,” I’m training to set a personal marathon record…and Coach Kevin Leathers is setting the bar.  He wants to make me an example of his coaching expertise for the rest of our team.  Throw the spotlight on me, start the clock, and see what I can do.

See, I can’t really say I’ve run a marathon for TIME in fifteen years.  My first two, in ’95 and ‘96, those were just “I’m gonna go do this” finishing goals.  Since the formation of the Team McGraw program in 2007, my focus has been much more on our mission to support brain tumor research through the Tug McGraw Foundation and helping our runners achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

Never my performance, my time, my finish.

With camera locked and loaded, I draw and shoot Julie Hamill (left) and Jen and Glen McDevitt crusing right along!

Now, I’m always out there.  I’m training, and I do many of our team events.  I’m not gonna participate in a program like this and talk my way around doing the work that our folks do.  But on race day, I’m out there for them: the runners; the volunteers; those in their battles against brain tumors, brain trauma, and other debilitating diseases; the family and friends supporting all of us in our efforts; and those held in our memories along the way.

My time?  Whatever.

Case in point: the first Team McGraw marathon was New York City in ‘07.  My training was sufficient, but not especially hardy.  I was out there to have fun, hang with the runners, grind out my race and practice what I preached: run smart, be patient, pace yourself.

NYC 2007: "You put your right foot in, you pull your right foot out..."

And I’m not only a runner on race day.  I’ve got a runner’s hat, a cheerleader’s hat, a photographer’s hat, and sometimes, (though it is small by comparison,) a coach’s hat.  (Coach Kevin wears the big one…as well he should.)  I’m pluggin’ along, yucking it up with stragglers, snappin’ photos, and making sure that I end the day better friends with some of my folks than when I started.

Alright, alright…yeah, I sit in with some of the bands along the race course, too; it’s just the musician in me that fights his way out in between mile markers!

After a challenging half marathon only a few months earlier, Debbie Persaud finishes stronger than ever in NYC 2008.

Everybody finished that first year; the same in 2008.  That second year, I intentionally started all the way at the back.  Not one of the other 50,000 runners were behind me, which guaranteed I would run past half of our team.  That was what I wanted – to spend a little time on the course with as many of our folks as possible.

That’s a hard way to go.  Lots of weaving around slower runners, congestion, tighter crowds.  There’s a reason you should put an accurate time down on your registration form and accept your starting placement with runners at your training level.  I won’t do that again, at least not in New York, but it was a nice way to share the day with so many of our people.

New York City 2009, I didn’t run.  I had planned to, but at the last minute, Coach Kevin and I figured I’d be of better use on the sidelines.  He was right.  Early in the race, we were both on hand with smiles, cameras, and backpacks full of “Attaboys!” and “Go get ‘em, girls!”

Kristen Hallock-Waters is undeterred as we talk nutrition at a pivotal point in the 2009 NYC Marathon.

Later on, when things got hairy, we were there with the needed advice, water, nutrition gels, bandages, stretching suggestions and massage assistance for cramped hamstrings when it was…kneaded.

(Ugh.  I know.  Bad one.)

For the third year in a row, everybody finished.  Awesome.  I loved being on the sidelines; still, our friends that run the New York City Marathon want me on the course this November, and I want to be running alongside my team as well.

Team McGraw: (Left) Coach Kevin Leathers, Inspiration Expert Jen McDevitt, and yours truly.

So Coach Kevin will put me to the test.  I’m his guinea pig – the one he plans to mold, needle, poke, prod and push into the fastest marathon I’ve run.  Ever.


(For more about my New York City Marathon 2010 campaign and to make a donation in support of quality of life research for those with brain tumors, brain trauma, and other debilitating cognitive conditions, please click here for my donation page.)