Sunday, September 13, 2020

How to Lose a Marathon - A Book Review

*I was fortunate enough to exchange books with the author of this book I am about to review.  That means, of course, given how I plan to totally use his limitless contacts, I will only laud praise on Joel and his tome.*

If you believe my review will be based on receiving the book from the author, you know nothing about me and how I operate. Which, given this is the internet, has never stopped anyone from doing just that. But on with the review!


I dove into this book immediately after receiving it, needing to just lose myself in reading. Three hours later, with a little texting to friends to interrupt me, I was done. How To Lose a Marathon by Joel Cohen, a writer on The Simpsons, was a quick-read delight.

Mostly written in a tongue-in-cheek tone, with great turns-of-phrase, Cohen recounts how he undertook his first marathon and his voyage there. I say tongue-in-cheek because he mentions how he couldn't find any books out there for the beginning runner and, sweet fancy moses, beginner running books are a dime a dozen. So, thinking I was about to read another first-time runner book filled me with a tad bit of trepidation. No offense to any newbie runners whatsoever but there are few jokes about fartleks or Phidippides "dying" I haven't heard yet. Fortunately, just a few pages in my fears were waylaid. (A reminder that good storytellers are good for a reason and how many athletes don't necessarily make the best speakers/writers.)

After deciding to do some running and putting in a few miles, Cohen figured he would make the New York City Marathon his first foray into the marathon distance.  However, he soon found getting into a race that everyone else wants to get into can be a bit difficult.  He then learned about the charity route and his next decision enamored him to me. Instead of asking others to contribute to his fundraising, he wrote a check himself to cover the entire amount. Obviously not everyone has the means to do that (and he readily admits as such) but "the idea of asking people to donate to a charity I chose so I can do something I wanted to do didn't sit well." Given how I have often bristled at how "raising money for a good cause" has been code for "pay for my vacation to run a marathon in Hawaii or feel like a bad person" this was music to my ears. *insert Benedict Cumberbatch hat tip gif*

The book is filled with humor as Cohen quickly progresses from barely being able to run a mile to planning his first marathon. To be honest, while he is self-deprecating in his ability, Cohen's progression is quite impressive. With his main stated goal to beat Oprah's marathon time of 4:29:20, I wondered if he would. That's not a fast time. But it is also not a "bad time", either. Hell, my first marathon was a 4:12. So I was hooked into reading whether he would have a glorious first marathon or a crash and burn (like mine was.) Given he was going from the couch to the marathon in just the span of a few months, I thought it might be the latter.

This is not necessarily the book one will want to buy for training tips.  But it is if you want to laugh. We type "LOL" in conversation and rarely mean it.  However, I literally laughed out loud at multiple times while reading. I won't ruin them all but when he described "chip time" as "What I scream out every time I open a bag of potato chips", I guffawed  How, in 20 years of running marathons, has "chip time" never once sounded to me like an exclamation!?  Kudos, Joel.

As the book concludes with an almost mile-by-mile recap of his first marathon, you find yourself cheering for Joel to get his goal. Whether he gets it or not, I will leave for you to read yourself.  (Seriously, buy a book for god's sake. Support the arts. Get a few of mine while you are at it.) Suffice it to say that it appears that in spite of not considering himself a runner or really enjoying running during the act, he ends up being a runner nonetheless.

A belated welcome to the club, Mr. Cohen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Breathe Easy Sports Mask Review

 Well, since every race I was planning to run this year has been canceled, my foray into writing here has definitely been much less.  However, as I finally had something to write about, it was time to fire up the ole blogging engine.

Masks. First of all, wear them. Don't be an idiot.

I have been trying to find a mask that would work with my running. For the most part I was getting by on some masks that work just fine for day-to-day usage but couldn't handle the rigors of being heavily sweated in. Since I am me, the Sweatatron 3000, and live on the surface of the sun here in Austin, Texas, a mask that was breathable was a must. A friend suggesting I try the Breathe Easy Sports Masks and given that they looked like what I was hoping I could find in a running mask, I followed that suggestion.

Created by NYC fashion designer Kim Foley, who also happens to be a marathoner and ultrarunner, I figured the latter would make them work well and the former, which I couldn't possibly care less about, would make them look cool. And they do look cool. Whether they were functional would remain to be seen.

Getting the masks in the dead heat of the summer here in Austin, I knew I would put them through the ringer.  Note to companies: want to see if your product will work for 99% of people? Send them to me and let me run in it for a week or so. Can't tell you how many products don't make it through the juggernaut of existing on my body in the heat.

I wore the masks on three separate longish (12 mile) treadmill runs and a handful of outdoor runs as well.  My theory is that no mask will ever be enjoyable. Masks are not supposed to be enjoyable. They are meant to help cut down on the spread of deadly viruses. If they are super breathable then chances are they do not work. That said, having worn no less than five other types of masks, these Breathe Easy Sports Mask were far and away the best mask I have tried to date.


With the fabric consisting of 100% wicking Polyester and the lining a Nylon/Spandex mesh, the masks were extraordinarily lightweight. There was an adjustable strap which I actually used mid-run at least once because it was getting a little weighed down with my sweat.  Other than that, where other masks felt like I was self-waterboarding, these had the least amount of stick-to-my-face when I breathed in.  And giving I was often running a sub-7 minute mile pace, I was definitely sucking some wind.

The price is a little higher than one has paid for other masks (~$45) but they are made one-at-a-time for each customer (made in the USA as well, so that's nice) and are something you want to have quality in, you can handle the dollars spent. They also come in a variety of colors and I think they can possibly accept specialized orders as well.

I was supposed to give them the ultimate test on a 50k to be run on Labor Day weekend but because 2020 is a cesspool of filth and disappointment, even this smallish race was canceled. Nevertheless, I am confidant that they will continue to perform splendidly. You will likely think so as well.

*I was given a mask at no-cost and volunteered to write this review for no payment.*

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Ignore The Impossible - My latest book!

Right around Christmas 2019 I received an advance shipment of my new book from Mascot Books entitled "Ignore The Impossible".  While it won't be in book stores or Amazon until Spring, I had to award all of the people who backed my kickstarter to make this a reality with their own signed and personalized copy.

For years I have done my best to motivate and inspire people with my endeavors and my speeches worldwide. But often I know that people are unable to attend those speeches and while they love my method and delivery, haven't been able to benefit from what I can share.

I often bristle at the idea of being called a motivational speaker because I have found many in the field do not present an accurate or true account of reality.  Perhaps it is a touch of cynicism on my part but I have never been one who believes in the kumbaya spirit. As such I was always reluctant to write a book that was about much more than what I felt I could really talk about: running.

However, given that running is such a small part of my life, and has just been the conduit which people have found out about what I have accomplished and still strive to do, I was finally convinced by enough cajoling to put my thoughts on inspiration and motivation down on paper.

To me, Ignore The Impossible is not just a mantra but rather the non-motivational-lovers phrase to motivate. It is the book which brings truth and reality to those looking to be inspired but who do not wish to be pandered to. I show from my own life experiences, as well as the lessons I have learned from countless others, how to succeed in life. These are ironclad solutions to problems of every ilk. They are all ways in which we can improve our station in life, rise above our troubles, and bring others with us.

I never say we can do anything we want. I have always said that the only way to find out what you can do is to ignore the impossible and try it anyway.

I have already done one book signing at an event for the wonderful NAHREP group at their Leadership Summit after giving a presentation there. As I ready for more speeches this year, with topics drawn from chapters in this book, I am excited to be changing the tune of my speaking engagements. Pivoting from the running aspect of my life and more into successfully challenging myself in a myriad of other ways, I have seen already what a difference that can make in the lives of others.

The feedback I have received from the advance readers warms my heart and the reviews online are wonderful. I cannot wait to bring this book and my speaking nationwide. If you are looking to hire me as a speaker, simply reach out to me at danerunsalot@yahoo.com.  That is where you can also order signed and personalized copies for yourself or people who need to be motivated.

I look forward to motivating you!