Monday, April 30, 2007

Good Press

I talked to my mom last week. She was at the library on a fast Internet connection, and typed "Marathon Don Kern" into Google. Every hit on the first 5 pages was me. Interesting, but so what. What I really learned is that much of what was written about me is a direct consequence of the things I've written.

It seems that the way to get stuff published about yourself is to write stuff. It's easier for people to do articles if they can cut & paste from a blog or a press release. Hmmm...

K-LITE in Santa Barbara interviewed me a couple weeks ago. The interview is posted on my website,, if you get really bored sometime, you can listen to it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Adventures in Shopping

Stopped by the Hideout for a beer and finally ran into Dan Manning. On the way home, it was Meijer. Nice experience. Cashed in a couple scratch off lottery tickets, bought the winning Mega Millions ticket for tonight (I hope).

Everything I needed was on sale. Cool. Usually I stop by the Jelly Belly display and scarf a couple leftover jelly beans from the little trays that catch the spillage. What the heck, they're just going to throw them out anyway. Tonight, however, instead of jelly beans, someone had dumped some chocolate covered raisins from the Brachs display in there. Maybe messing with my head or something. I ate a couple and moved on.

Going up and down the aisles is like a ballet. Except with shopping carts instead of tutus. People weave in and out, waiting, nodding and smiling, every once in a while accidentally bumping into each other. OK, it's amature ballet, not professional.

DiGiorno people will be happy to know that their advertising worked out. Their pizzas were on sale too, so I'm not having delivery tonight for supper. I'm having DiGiorno.

There's a rack of meat setting out in the aisle--apparently it's stuff they needed to move quickly or something. There was a little packet that had two tenderloin steaks in it for only 96 cents. I wondered what was wrong. Oh. Someone had it marked as TURKEY! Hmmm...there were five more packages. I bought them all. The ones on the shelf that were marked correctly were $19.99/lb. I later found out that they're not allowed to put another label over top of the wrong one, so someone's honest mistake (or moronic move) was my good fortune, since I now have a bunch of steaks in my freezer.

Well, I guess this wasn't all that interesting, but some adventures go that way. I gotta go. My pizza's almost done.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Things that could have been on my life list that I ended up doing.

I keep a list of at least 100 things going that I want to do in life. Gives me direction. Sometimes I just end up doing things that it occurs to me after the fact that they should have been on my life list, but weren't because I didn't think of it.

Shook hands with Ford and Reagan
Flew in an ultralight airplane
Saw the Harlem Globetrotters
Visited Biosphere II
Was a professional nude model (see my blog for February 2006)
Climbed to the top of Notre Dame and saw gargoyles
Played donkey basketball
Tended bar

Stuff that's still on the list:

Cage diving with great white sharks
Camp in Yellowstone in the winter and sit in a hot spring
Be able to start a fire with a bow drill
Visit the Galapagos
Kiss the Blarney Stone
Learn Spanish
See a total solar eclipse
Go whitewater rafting near Victoria Falls
Run with the bulls in Pamplona
...and many more things.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Take a chance

I was reminded of something today when I read this quote from either Scottish climber W. H. Murray:

"Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!"

I have seen this happen. It's what happened when I decided to run my first marathon. Or go to the South Pole. Or run all the continents. Or when we decided to start the Grand Rapids Marathon. As soon as the commitment was made, things started falling into place. People came out of the woodwork to help. Things started to happen. As I often say, "throw it in the air and it turns into sunshine."

So, here's what I have told people recently: Find an adventure, a few months out, that's outside your comfort zone. Sign up for it. Decide you're going to do it. The next thing you know, your brain will just figure out how to make it happen. Don't worry about the details, you'll do them anyway once you're commited.

Maybe something happens after this life. Maybe not. RIGHT NOW is the time to make something happen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Boston Marathon Weekend - Part 2

After a nice pre-marathon steak dinner, we settled in for the night to listen to the wind howl and the rain fall. Fortunately, Julia was able to get us a seat on her club bus to the start, so we had a warm place to sit while waiting to start the marathon. We made a couple short ventures out to check on temperatures, wind, and rain, but it sure was nice to sit on the bus instead of hanging out in the mud-bowl that is known as Athlete's Village. We were in the second wave, and as our start time of 10:30 approached, something else happened. It stopped raining! Cool.

The normal 10-minutes-to-starting-line after the gun went off, and we were off on the downhill start from Hopkinton, heading for Boston. Neither of us were out for any personal records, so we ran together for the whole race. Within the first mile I had my rain jacket and windshirt off, but about 5 miles later the rain started and I put the jacket back on. Rain didn't last long, but the heavy winds allowed me to stay comfortable in the jacket, so I just left it on for the rest of the run.

Wellesley was the normal screaming-young-college-girls event. They put up barricades to protect us, but they all have signs offering kisses along the way, so I had to stop briefly. Ten or twelve times.

At the bottom of Heartbreak Hill we stopped at the Johnnie Kelly statue for a picture, then started up the hill. I was distracted for a few seconds to drink a couple small glasses of beer as Francine went on ahead for a bit. I kept her in sight, then caught her toward the top of the hill. At mile 24, my BS level spiked a bit (that's not "blood sugar" by the way) and the pace got a little faster. Finally, the Citgo sign we had seen for more than a mile was upon us--only one mile to go. The course jogged over a street and we saw the finish line in the distance. As we passed the 26 mile mark, we joined hands for the final stretch, crossing the finish line together. 4:44:47 was our net time.
We drank a little, ate a banana (that was all the food they had left) and headed for the nearest T stop to catch a ride back to Joe and Julia's. When we got off in Brookline, we were both cold and wet and calorie-deprived, so we ducked into the Duncan Donuts at the corner and got some hot chocolate. Instead of walking the half-mile to their house, we grabbed a taxi and figured the $5 would be a cheap price to keep us from shivering all the way there. So, a cold and wet day in Boston, but a nice marathon and a great time with some great friends. Marathon 141 for me, 30 for Francine, and my 50th consecutive month running a marathon.

Boston Marathon Weekend

It was a dark and stormy night...

Yeah, like a cheap mystery novel. The rain was driven into the windows by fierce winds, as the lovely Francine and I would wake up and anticipate a cold-and-nasty-weather marathon. The weekend wasn't all that bad though.

We arrived in Boston around noon on Saturday and took a taxi to the home of our good friends Joe and Julia. They recently bought a house in Brookline and are in the midst of remodeling/restoring, so parts of their new estate resembled a nuclear holocaust. Just the kind of place a guy loves to see and hang out in--a great project in the making!

We went on to the expo to pick up our race packets and a bunch of stuff we didn't really need. I had no more than walked in before Austin, one of my shipmates on the Ioffe saw me. Mike and Christina were there as well, so we enjoyed a brief reunion before heading off in our various directions.

Saturday night was the annual Dead Runners Society encounter dinner at Big City. Nice place, nice people, and about 40 beers on tap. I had a pint of Brooklyn Brown Ale, then noticed that they had Sam Adams Cherry Wheat on tap. Cherry Wheat has special memories for me--the first time I tasted it was 14 October 1995. The Chicago Marathon expo the day before my first marathon. I ordered a pint, fondly remembering my first taste and the journey that I've enjoyed since that day.

Sunday was the bagel brunch, in recent years hosted by Julia and Joe, but due to the construction project it was moved to the home of Joan Cook and Conrad Halling. Again, a nice time with way more food than one should reasonably eat, but with friends one should reasonably have. I love Dead Runners encounters, because I get to meet some of the people I've been interacting with on line since 1994.

Afternoon was a trip to Eastern Mountain Sports to pick up a little wet-weather gear for the lovely Francine. Then we hopped on the T and went to town where I met Adam Jacobs, editor of, for an interview. Yes, that's right, I got interviewed in Boston, just like the speedy guys. Pretty cool. It's on The Final Sprint website.


Pretty nice. Adam has interviewed me a couple of times before, but this is the first time we met face-to-face.

Race report to follow in part 2 sometime later today.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Hey!! I got my 100000th visitor to the site today. And it was none other than my daughter Katie! Cool.

I was the 100000 visitor to you site!!!! well really I was 99999 but I jumped off and went back on so I could clam the title HAHAH
Love you
Katie Burch FRG President C 1/125 INF

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922 - 2007

One of my favorite authors died yesterday--Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. It was in my senior year that I first became acquainted with him--the multiple reading group on our forensics team read from Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut's book on the bombing of Dresden through the eyes of Billy Pilgrim.

Through the years, I've read many of his books, including last year re-reading Slaughterhouse Five. Cat's Cradle was another of my favorites.
Vonnegut was one of the influences on my philosophy. He helped teach me the importance of PEOPLE. He taught me the difference between an enzyme and a hormone. He was a great humanist.

Now, my "friend" Kurt Vonnegut is dead. I'll miss him. So it goes.

Oh yeah--the difference? You can't hear an enzyme.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Suppose for a minute...

What if there's no life after death?

Now all the kids we sent off to Iraq who are dead are just that. Dead. The only life they ever will have is gone.

Suppose there's life after death.

Wouldn't it be better if our leaders figured there wasn't, so that they'd quit sending our children to die in someone else's war? As long as they keep trying to convince us that our dead children are "in the arms of Jesus" or whatever, they can justify sending more of them.

Just a little bit tired of the Iraq war. Would you people in Washington PLEASE knock it off!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Viagra and other "enhancements"

Suppose for a minute that one actually orders some of the products offered ten or more times a day in via emails from anonymous people who don't know how to spell. Subject lines like: "How you compare to other guys" "Gain inches" "Women will want you"

Now, AFTER using these wonderful products, how does one go about getting the word out that Mr. Happy has suddenly got happier? Is there a website or something? Or is there somewhere you can go to compare to the other guys? And why, exactly, would one want to go there?

Enough of that. I need to go do something important.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Marathon Don on TV

Pretty cool. Yesterday I was on WZZM (Channel 13) on Take Five with Stephanie Webb. The topic was my seven continents trip, and I also got a chance to plug the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon a little bit too. My sister thinks I did a good job, but she's probably biased. They put a bunch of video clips of segments online, so maybe they'll post mine. Click on the videos at and see if it's up there.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Once upon a time in Grand Rapids Michigan...

The beautiful princess (aka the lovely Francine) called me at midnight. "Do you know anything about sump pumps?" Now, any conversation that starts like that (even with a beautiful princess)is destined to go in different directions than one would have hoped.

Well, waking up from a sound sleep, I didn't really know much about sump pumps, but by 4:00 when my alarm went off, my brain had recovered enough information to actually be helpful. Meanwhile she had found out that Home Depot opens at 6:00 a.m. so we really didn't have much of a problem at that point. (OK, her basement had a bunch of water in it, but that too can be fixed.)

As I unhooked the discharge hose, then grabbed it and lifted the old pump from the hole. Of course, it jostled the float enough to get the pump running, spraying water all over my shirt. Still, it's been so loud lately that we decided it should be replaced anyway, so I made a trip to Home Depot while Francine rinsed out my shirt and tossed it in the dryer. By 7:00, the new sump pump was installed and pumping the excess water into the drain where it should be.

So, by 8:00 this morning, I had spent some quality time with a beautiful woman, installed a sump pump, stopped at Panera for some coffee, and had arrived at work. Not a bad start to the day.

And they lived happily ever after. The end.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Sometimes I look at life like the proverbial cat who swallowed the canary. It feels like I just got away with something, and I just have to smile. I get to have great adventures, I have a beautiful woman who's crazy about me, some responsible-adult kids, some amazing granddaughters. I'm in pretty good health and have enough food, a warm place to sleep, and decent clothes to wear. Life is pretty freakin' good.
Biblical reference - Job, who was similarly blessed, even when he lost everything he remembered the good things. I'm not saying I have the patience and wisdom of Job, (but then, I don't have his writers either) but I hope that I always remember the blessings and keep things in perspective.