Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

Leap Day: My Launch into 2012

admin | February 29, 2012 in Endurance,Music,Running,WordSmatter | Comments (9)

LEAP DAY: the one extra day we are given every four years so the world can catch up on itself.  Typically, Earth has 365 days to make her yearly journey around the sun; even so, we snag an extra day every fourth year so the world can make her way around…and we can reset the clock.

February 29th is a day we rarely see, so it seems I should make the most of it – use it to its fullest – and get some of these random things circling my world back under control.

If only I knew what some of these random things actually were.

Now, we’ve all heard it: “Look before you leap.”  Normally, I’d agree.  (Those that know me well are laughing; “Yes, he would.”)  It makes sense to check the course and scout out the unknowns ahead, before launching off in the wrong direction and ringing a bell you can’t, well, un-ring.

That being said, things are a bit foggy around here.  It’s hard to see what’s around the corner, and though I’d like to know a bit more about what’s in front of me before launching off…I’m tired of waiting.

So, I’m just gonna have to get good with not knowing.  Pieces of what’s ahead, I’m sure I’ll recognize.  Adventures peppered with big chunks of “I didn’t see that coming!” and “Wow! Who knew?” may well catch us all by surprise, but it’s time to get these feet churning.

Okay.  Here…we…GO!

(“The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything.” U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt)

Runners Save With “Rock ‘n’ Roll”

admin | May 31, 2011 in Endurance,Music,Running | Comments (3)

Those of us that know the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons and half marathons, we understand the excitement of sharing a great day of running with thousands of others, hearts beating in unison with pounding feet, all to the rhythm of the thumpin’ band around the next corner.

In honor of National Running Day on Wednesday, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series is offering a one-day registration discount. In addition to great savings on their events, all those registering on June 1 will also receive 5 FREE music downloads…so they can rock to their favorite music along the course.

(Click here for complete details from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series website.)

They are all great, fun races; in fact, I plan on snagging my first Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego medal this weekend. So check your calendars, pick your favorites, and sign up tomorrow!

As for those 5 FREE downloads, I suggest perhaps your five favorite songs from Tim McGraw’s Southern Voice album. As both a runner and McGraw’s longtime keyboardist, I know it’s great music for a Rock ‘n’ Roll marathoner.

Then again…maybe I’m a bit biased.

A Runner Goes Forth

admin | March 28, 2011 in Endurance,Running,WordSmatter | Comments (9)

“Plow ahead.”  “Rock on.”  “Keep on truckin’.”  There are many different versions of this handy little catchphrase that drive us through life…drive us down bumpy roads, past unplanned inconveniences, through unexpected turmoil.  We’ve all been there.

The endurance athlete…lives there.  Thrives there.  Belongs there.

Now, when confronted with all the crap that seeks to derail us on our journeys, both in our lives and in our training, some just want to distract themselves.  They chat with friends during their runs, they hide in their iPods, some just stick to their trusty treadmill behind the TV.

“Don’t think about the soreness,” some suggest.  “It takes my mind off what’s bothering me,” chime others.  “I just get bored,” I’ve heard.  The idea is to not think about what is confronting you – pretend it’s not there or take your mind off of it – and keep rollin’.

Of course, I do understand the camaraderie between runners.  I love getting out there with my runnin’ buddies, and I will sometimes take to an untrafficked path with Marine Corps cadences ringing through my ears as a pacing exercise.  It’s not that this is always bad; not in the least.

But I just can’t move forward by pretending what’s behind me…isn’t.  That’s not for me.  I don’t work that way, not in life and not in my running.  I can’t win…hell, I can’t even fight…my pulled muscles and broken past if I have to put it all out of my mind to get started.  I learn nothing from running around the fire; I learn from running through it.

That’s where I feel the greater sense of execution and fulfillment.  Not in moving forward, pretending that hurts don’t hurt or heartbreak doesn’t happen…but doing so with the threat of that past agony and misery in full view…and moving forward anyway.

I was reminded of this on the morning of January 1, 2011 after finishing the New Year’s 5-Mile Run at White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas.  Surrounded by runners, shaking out the holiday cobwebs, it was a way to dig my spurs into my own sides and get this horse out the door and into a new year.

I ran hard and finished strong, gettin’ a little completion buzz from a race well run.  As I walked off the run, catching my breath, glad to have the new year rollin’, the street sign on the corner caught my eye.

I was standing on the corner of Northwest Highway and…Goforth.

Goforth.  Go…FORTH.

It’s what we do.

2011: Running Resolutions in Review

admin | February 3, 2011 in Endurance,Running | Comments (5)

I’ve fallen into that trap before.  Placed the bar too high right out of the gun.  Made a big noise.  Determined how I was gonna change the world – (at least, MY world) – shouted it from the rooftops, and then watched it wash away in a swirl of uncontrolled zeal and “not-quite-thought-out” ambitions.

This year…yeah, I set some new goals;  I just got busy before I got noisy.  Figured I’d use January to try and sharpen my training goals a bit…and then share ‘em.


I’ve raced twice this year already.  The first was a “kick off the year” five-miler in Texas on New Year’s Day; the second was a pretty encouraging half marathon among many of my rockin’ friends at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon.

But that’s racing.  I did say training.  I want to get out every day.  Period.  It feels good to get moving, and while there will be a minimum expectation, I’ll push that up through the year.  Most days will be running, but some will be on a bike, some might be a good walk on a recovery day…but always something.  That’s the plan.

My friends John “The Penguin” Bingham and Jenny Hadfield helped that along with their “100 Days Challenge” campaign.  Basically, they have asked their endurance friends to make a commitment to take on some kind of activity for at least thirty minutes every day.  I don’t think I needed that hammer to meet my personal goals, but I’m using it to keep myself honest on less motivated days.  It works.



This, I’m awful at.  It’s because I can cheat, or I think I can.  I have a well-used Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch that archives the basics of my running history – locations, times, distances – so I think I’m keeping up.  But it’s not true.  I forget cross-training days that aren’t in my watch, I fail to record terrain or necessary aches and pains for tracking, and I threaten to toss myself under the bus of hypocrisy as I ask the Team McGraw athletes we coach to “always keep a log” so we can help them track their progress and meet their goals.

Currently, my training log is completely current beginning January 1, 2011.



Yeah.  I know.  I know.  I’ve got uncompleted stories to finish.  Training “Aha!” moments to share so you might avoid the potholes I’ve stepped in.  There’s new music coming, marathon miles to run, musical miles to measure, and a backpack full of photos and “maybe they care” anecdotes from other travels and “I can’t sit still” adventures.

So I will do better.  My training is on track, my running log is current, and now, I need to get my blog pumping.

Oh, wait…I just did that.  Cool.  (Points the cursor to publish.)


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?”

The Make-Believe Me

admin | November 28, 2010 in Music,Running,WordSmatter | Comments (11)

Okay, here’s the deal…

If you’ve heard from me recently, it might not have been me.  If you reached out, someone else may have answered you…or ignored you.

Facebookers, you may have even poked someone you don’t even know. Seriously.  Ew.

There are fake MySpace pages, fake Facebook pages, fake websites, fake email addresses.  Phony “Road Dog Runners,” pretend “Pianomen,” and other mock “McMen” offering running insights and telling road stories.

Oh, sure.  They all look like me.  Same hair, same interests, same gigs.  We are all runners and we all wander the country leaving both musical and uh, marathonical footprints.  They all send out “add a friend” notices and answer questions as me.

These irritating Facebook frauds do work hard at their silly little games. Honestly, these screwballs spend more time PRETENDING to be me than I have to ACTUALLY be me.

Don’t ask.  I don’t know why.  But at least for a good while, I got kicked out of Facebook for being a phonybecause a phony reported that I had built a fake page and was pretending to be the real me when it was really the fake me that was reporting the real me for Facebook fakery.

Whew.  I know…right?

It all blew up while I was traveling the world with a busted laptop, so I wasn’t online, wasn’t watching, and hadn’t a clue.  Some of you would text-message-comment-call me later to say “Dude, is this you?” It probably wasn’t, so thanks for the heads-up.

I wonder.  Do folks still use carrier pigeons?

Maybe I should try that.

RACE REPORT: Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 2009

admin | September 18, 2010 in Endurance,Race Report,Running | Comments (7)

Well, that’s what they call it now. Last year, it was still the “Philadelphia Distance Run,” though we runners all still knew that Philly was part of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” family, just like the Country Music Marathon held each spring in Nashville, Tennessee.

This year, it’s official; Philadelphia is now home to the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.”

Still the same race. Still the same spirit. The same outstanding organizers, the same historic course through America’s past, the same music carrying runners through both the breeze of the easy and the grit of the difficult.

Okay…I’m making this worse. See, I can’t be there. And I wanna be. I’m currently on the other side of the world in Australia, a day ahead; in fact, as I write this, I’m well into my SUNDAY. The runners that will take on the run in Philadelphia, they are still loading up on pasta, checking their gear, and spending their SATURDAY getting ready for SUNDAY’S race.

I plan to pull up the live webcast online and watch the finish of Sunday morning’s race…but I’ll miss the first part, as we’ll be onstage finishing our evening show as they finish. Yeah…it makes my head hurt a bit; it’s hard to keep it straight. Bottom line – I’m way to far away to run the race with my Team McGraw peeps…but I’ll be cheerin’ ‘em on from “Down Under.”

As Team McGraw returns to the “City of Brotherly Love,” I can’t help but reflect on last year’s half marathon. Taking Team McGraw to Philadelphia, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, with whom our namesake Tug McGraw won the World Series back in 1980…yeah, it calls up some pretty impassioned memories of Tug’s impact on the city.

Tug is still remembered…and still loved.

David Bier after his first half marathon finish. (Cue the music from "Charlie's Angels.")

But there was a lot more “special” from the 2009 race for me. Certainly at the top of the list was seeing my friend David Bier complete the course with his wife and Team McGraw repeater Diane. David is a brain tumor survivor…and a diehard Doors fan. He’s supported our runners through many races, but 2009 was his first half marathon as a runner; I relish each time I’ve gotten to witness these amazing feats of accomplishment in the face of adversity, and he did a great job.

And when I say “diehard Doors fan,” I mean it. The next time I see him, I’ll hear it. “So, have you learned the organ part to ‘Light My Fire’ yet?” Light my fire. No, I’ve not learned it. But you’ve done it, Dave…and done it again and again. Relit my fire for our cause. My fire for this program. For our runners. Thanks.

Genvieve could hardly contain herself in front of the paparazzi as Mark McGraw joined her for part of the race.

Team McGraw’s Genvieve Goldstein set aside some of her duties as a leader of our program and took the streets herself in 2009. If you’ve run with us before, or are on the way to some upcoming marathon with us, you know Genvieve. She knows how hard our folks work, how deep our athletes dig, on their way to the finish line…and she wanted to show ‘em she’d dig along with them.

Dig she did. Attagirl!

Gang signs? Uh, no. "45." Tug McGraw's baseball jersey number.

I’m remembering the gathering of our team and early morning hugs at the tent on race day. The gun and the laughter and the cheers of the start. “Rocky”-dressed runners, rock bands set up on trailers, and the full-blown orchestra set up on the corner that threatens to squash my time by making me stop and listen even longer.

Oh, yeah. The “Rocky” runners remind me. You WILL hear the theme from Rocky more than a few times along the way. Rocky is Philly’s favorite “not even a real person but if he were he’d be our favorite” son. And no matter how much it hurts after the race, you’ve GOTTA go run the steps from the movie at the art museum from the movie before leaving the city.

You guys are gonna have a great race; I know I did. I ran most of the race last year with Tim McGraw’s brother, Mark, and Tom Karpowich. Mark is a great runner and his “easy run” was still pulling Tom and I to better times. We stuck together until the last few miles; he and Tom ran away from me after Tom’s goal of hitting two hours…and I finished with my best time to that point of 2:07:55 for the half marathon.

Mark McGraw (left) and I reconnected at the Team McGraw tent before heading back in after the rest of our team.

After crossing the finish line, we all made our way through the medal and water and bagel and banana lines to get back out on the course to cheer on the rest of our team. That’s the best part of these races: THE TEAM.

It is worth noting for future storytelling…that the 2009 Philadelphia Distance Run was my third “Rock ‘n’ Roll” event of 2009, following January’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona and the April Country Music Half Marathon. I mentioned before my 2009 “quest for immortality.” At this point in the story, it was still a silent and solitary crusade. As concert touring season began for the summer, my quest would have to be set aside for a few months.

The spirit of that crusade would remain, the quiet pursuit of a prize that only I would ever fully appreciate.

At least…that was the plan…

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.