Got a haircut today at the local barbershop. Inside was a cute young kid, maybe five years-old, getting what had to be one of his first haircuts not by mom, who was standing diligently at his side to offer a consoling or controlling hand, depending. Turns out dad was getting his own hair trimmed two chairs over as both parents were pulling out all stops to make it seem like this experience was an A-OK idea.

First haircut

First haircut

Instinctively, the kid knew better, and the look on his face was priceless evidence of his logical concern.  I knew exactly how he felt; I hated getting my hair cut as a kid, too.

And why not?  How many times did mom tell me not to talk to strangers, and to keep away from sharp objects because, “you can put your eye out with that”?

“So now you are placing me in the hands of a stranger who is wielding a sharp object? Are you insane? It’s what you’ve been teaching me to avoid my whole life!”

Even at such a tender age, it gave one pause. What’s more, it made me reconsider a host of other counterfactual parental care policies, i.e. hair washing as a toddler.

See, ever since I emerged from that fluid-filled amniotic sac and began mouth and nose breathing on my own, it was pretty much my rule to never again submerge my breathing apparatus beneath the waves. That’s just preservation 101.  So whenever Mom began to fill the sink when no dirty dishes were in sight, I got a real uneasy feeling.

While there is still something left to cut

While there is still something left to cut

“Wait just a minute here.  You want to do what?  In the name of clean hair you want to fully immerse me in water? I think not.

“Hey, I might be young, but I’m not stupid.  There’s been a bad pattern emerging, as I see it. What was the very first thing you did when I popped out all fresh and new?  Yeah, you let some stranger slap me around a little.  Whataya call that, priming the pump?  And shortly after that whatja do?  Exactly, had another stranger with a sharp object begin snipping tissue down around that appendage upon which the bulk of my mental energies would be spent for the rest of my life.”

Thus did my distrust of and concerns about authority figures begin.

“Hey, kid. I’m with you on this one.”



Who knew what lie ahead in the wild open spaces of the first Suzuki Rock `n` Roll Marathon? Some even questioned the concept of rock bands strung along the marathon course. What does rock `n` roll have to do with San Diego much less the marathon, they asked?

Well, on June 21st 1998 the world heard loud and clear what rock `n` roll had to do with San Diego and marathoning.  With a resounding P-A-R-T-Y! the second running boom announced its arrival.



No longer a simple feat of speed and endurance, the marathon had been turned into a 26-mile block party by Elite Racing’s Tim Murphy, who could be rightfully called the father of the post-modern running boom. Even before its first steps were run there was the feel of a major marathon about it as Tim brought on high profile Hollywood investors and celebrity ambassadors to help generate funding and interest.  Runner’s World also helped turn out 6000 Team In Training runners for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Yes, there was a disconcerting 35-minute delay at the Balboa Park start due to parked cars on the course, leading many a  bladder challenged runner to anoint Sixth Avenue before the gun.  Then after they were set free, runners overwhelmed the first water stop in the subsequent heat, causing back of the packers to come up dry.  Yet the music rocking the sidelines for 26.2 miles caused an immediate sensation.  Afterwards the nearly 20,000 entrants from 30 countries and all 50 states passed the word, ‘You gotta try this one!” And that was before they got to the post-race concert that night featuring Huey Lewis and the News, Pat Benatar, and the Lovin’ Spoonful!

Late, great Mike Long, Elite Racing's legendary athlete recruiter with early RnR winners Irina Bogacheva and Philip Tarus

Late, great Mike Long, Elite Racing’s legendary athlete recruiter with early RnR winners Irina Bogacheva and Philip Tarus


So, too, was year one’s field a group of intrepid explorers, 55% of which were women, the largest such percentage of any marathon to date. The course, much around Mission Bay, had a new-car smell about it, or was that newly cut wood?  City business owners balked when the course design closed traffic on Harbor Island Drive, the main access to Lindbergh Field, San Diego’s major international airport.  The last-minute compromise was a temporary plywood bridge that took the runners up and over the traffic, but whose steep cost set Elite Racing back tens of thousands to build, and tested tired runners more than they might have hoped at 23 miles. 

Nobody knew how fast the route would be until young Kenyan Philip Tarus busted a 2:10 opener for the men, with Russian women Nadezhda Ilyina and Irina Bogacheva battling just nine seconds apart at the finish for the women in 2:34. That told the athletes of the world, ‘This one is worth having a go,” especially after all the Suzuki prizes and prize money checks were handed out.

No marathon had ever come on the calendar with such dramatic impact: the largest first-time marathon in history, the most ingenious show along the sidelines ever conceived, $15 million raised for charity – the largest amount ever for a single-day sporting event — and to cap it off world-class performances by its champions. Thus was the foundation set for what has become a global phenomenon. Continue reading


TReavisFitness Logo

Ventura, CA. — Team Toya showed its mettle at the 4th Cliff Bar Mountains 2 Beach Marathon and Half-Marathon yesterday with six of seven posting PRs. The coach burned as much energy as the team as she coaxed them home.


anticipation runs high

Anticipation runs high


Who said you couldn't?

Who said they couldn’t?


Lip Biting Time

Lip Biting Time


Now stretch it out

Finish Strong!

Where the heck are they?

Come on, now.


2014M2B Marathon Medal

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With Memorial Day upon us, the shorter road and track & field seasons have begun in earnest.  The Bolder Boulder 10K and the inaugural IAAF World Road Relay kick off the summer action this weekend in Colorado and the Bahamas. But there remain several 26 & 13-milers in California to round out the first half of  the 2014 marathon season, beginning with this weekend’s Cliff Bar MountainS 2 Beach Marathon & Half Marathon from Ojai to Ventura.

Yet with the completion of the spring marathon season we still tend to see many new runners step away to return to their “normal” routines before gearing up for their next long marathon build-up in the fall.

For the last several years my wife Toya has been helping San Diego TC Coach Paul Greer prep hundreds of mostly new local runners for the June 1st Suja Rock `n` Roll Marathon via the club’s Rockin’ & Runnin’ Program. But Toya has several other clients running the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon this Sunday, as well. Since most of her clients are relative newcomers to the game, the following advice she sent out this week was a good reminder of how many of today’s runners remain tethered to either the half or full marathon as the sole expression of their running.  But how, with a little encouragement, they might broaden their horizons and find new challenges to take on. Continue reading


Hellickson Family of Hinckley, Oh. awaiting arrival of Katey

Hellickson Family of Hinckley, Oh. awaiting arrival of Katey

While announcing at the finish line of last weekend’s 37th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half, and 10K I began chatting with the Hellickson family from Hinckley, Ohio who were awaiting their daughter, Katey, who was running the marathon. With their signs and enthusiasm the Hellicksons rooted for all the runners who came across the line, and it got me to thinking.

Endlessly we’ve been told that running is a participation-based sport rather than spectator-friendly one. But those who grew up in the first running boom know full well that running had a tremendous spectator base when local heroes were the stars of the sport. Only through the last 25 years and the East African domination have we lost that thread of interest.

Rather than individual brands like Shorter, Rodgers and Salazar, we’ve been fed an endless string of East Africans who are staged anonymously to run against the clock with the aid of pace setters. But rooting for a time rather than a person is inherently less meaningful and appealing.

We saw how impactful a rooting interest can be with Meb Keflezighi’s win at the Boston Marathon in April.  And though he didn’t perform up to hopes, look at the buzz Mo Farah generated for the Virgin Money London Marathon the week before that.

Citius, altius, fortius is all well and good, but any sport has to begin with who-ius, who are you rooting for, not what are you rooting for.

Boston crowd cheers Meb's win

Boston crowd cheers Meb’s win

If Boston had been a paced time-trial there is no way Meb would have won.  And if London had not been a time-trial you wonder how differently Mo might have fared. In that sense, straight up competition allows the improbable to become possible. But more than that, the sport needs to pit Him versus Him, Her versus Her, Them versus Them. Make it personal. Wrap the audience up in the who of it all, not the what.

We see this in boxing all the time. Many of the premier lighter weight division boxers hail from Latin America. While they speak no English, it doesn’t deter the sport from generating pay-per-view interest, because the promoters actively market mano a mano competitions. And while golf is full of stats like who hits the ball farthest, the only real stat is who won the tournament? Continue reading


The 37th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10k took over downtown Cleveland yesterday on a glorious spring morning ideal for running.  Here are some photos from the announce platform at the finish line on Lakeside Avenue where some 20,000 runners came blasting by.  Kenyans Philip Lagat and Sarah Kiptoo won the marathon titles.  Lagat ran a near 3:00 PR in 2:12::39 to add the marathon to his 2010 Rite Aid Cleveland 10k win, while Kiptoo defended her 2013 marathon title in 2:34:58.  Fellow Kenyans Julius Koskei (29:06) and Lilian Mariita (33:42) earned the 10K titles.







Call Me! says #2280 Stella Balzli of New Castle, Pa. as she finishes her marathon in 4:45:27 with 10Ker Christine Shearer of New Wilmington, Pa. (51:39)

Call Me! says #2280 Stella Balzli of New Castle, Pa. as she finishes her marathon in 4:45:27 with 10Ker Christine Shearer of New Wilmington, Pa. (51:39)


We did it!

We did it!

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