DNF (Did Not Finish) and DNF (Did Not Fail)

Not completing the Amsterdam Good Morning City Run — a short guided run the day before the Amsterdam Marathon — was one of the best things I’ve done this year.

I didn’t make it to the end, but it was a victory.

Let me explain: When I realized I would be in Amsterdam the weekend of that city’s marathon, I considered signing up for the shortest option, an 8K. I hadn’t run in a while, so any race would have been ambitious. I knew I’d need to walk most of it.

The 8K was sold out, but the Good Morning Run was available. There were two options: 6.5K and 3.5K. I decided to play it safe and go with the shorter route. I didn’t think it would be a challenge.

I was wrong.

Turning Around

Since it was a guided run, the roads weren’t closed off and we were broken into small groups. One guide led the way, and another brought up the rear. The pace was slow, and I could catch my breath momentarily when we paused to let cars and bicycles pass at pedestrian crossings. Despite this, I fell from the middle of the pack to the back.

Around one kilometer in, I knew I was spent. I told the guide in the back I needed to drop out and walk back. He said he needed to accompany me (which, I assume, is for insurance reasons). He and the other guide arranged to have one of the other runners be the caboose, and then we turned around.

I barely finished a third of the run, but I felt fine about it. In fact, better than fine. And that’s because of something that happened to me here in Tampa a few weeks prior.

The Wisdom of Meb

As I said, I hadn’t run in a while. However, a few weeks before the Amsterdam trip, I started walking on Bayshore in the mornings. One day, I saw Meb Keflezighi1 and waved to him. He seemed to recognize me, slowed down, and asked how I was doing. I said something about trying to get back into running but lacked confidence and was just walking.

He looked at me and said, “You’re here. That’s the hard part.”

Those words meant a lot at the time, but became even more profound in Amsterdam. Being there and running was the hard part, and I had done it.

The starting line was more important than the finish line.

I’ll Take the W

I thanked the guide for walking me back to Museumplein, got a bottle of water, and found a spot in the shade. I felt like a million bucks (about €913,000 at the time) and wanted to hold onto the feeling.

After that, I took a tram to the Olympic Stadium to pick up my preordered T-shirt. Most everyone there were anticipating the marathon, which would be held the next day. I knew I had already won. I rewarded myself by buying an additional T-shirt.

Pointing at my name on the list of Amsterdam race participants.
I found my name on the list of Amsterdam race participants.

The next day, I walked to Vondelpark to cheer on the marathoners. I felt inspired, not intimidated, by them.

Across the road, another spectator was holding up a sign that struck a chord with me:

Man holding "You Are Great" sign along the Amsterdam Marathon route.
A good sign.

It’s not just the message on the sign that resonated with me, but the fact that we were nowhere near the finish line. It was another reminder to celebrate where I am, not where I think I should be. The effort is just as important — perhaps more important — than the achievement.

Knowing this is more valuable than all the medals in the world.

1 I wrote this about Meb on LinkedIn earlier this year:

In the world of running, Meb Keflezighi is a rock star like no other. But what impresses me most is not his record, but the way he treats others.

Meb (so famous he only needs one name) is the only person who has won the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon, and an Olympic medal. (Actually, he has won two Olympic medals, but who’s keeping count.) He now lives in Tampa, and I’ve run into him a few times. Every interaction has made a mark on me.

🏃‍♂️ When I wave to him on Bayshore (my usual running route), he’ll acknowledge me, smile, and wave back. He has no idea who I am. He’s just friendly that way.

🏃‍♂️ When I met him for the first time and told him a good friend (who lives in Colorado) was a huge fan, he sat down and wrote a short note praising her accomplishments (a marathon on all seven continents) and encouraging her to keep going.

🏃‍♂️ When he hosted his first 5K on Saturday, he thought nothing of taking photos with everyone who asked. He never once looked annoyed or indifferent, even as the line grew.

Even short encounters like these can have a big impact. When we’re surrounded by egos and pretentiousness, someone who is approachable really stands out.

When I tell people I want to follow in Meb’s footsteps, it doesn’t mean I want to win marathons. It means I want to be warm and make others feel special.

Although winning an Olympic medal would be cool. 🏅


The Greatest Race

I’ve done quite a few races since I began running, but the most meaningful one was the Gasparilla 5K on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.

That’s because it was the first one I did with Cherie.1

Cherie and I worked together for a long time at the Tampa Tribune. If there’s one thing you learn as a journalist, it’s that the friends you make in the newsroom are the very best kind of friends.2

In those days, I was overweight. Every year, Cherie would ask if I had any interest in just walking the Gasparilla 5K, and every year I gave the same response: “Let me lose a little weight, and we can do it next year.”

Of course, we never did it. 

Cherie and I both left the newsroom long before the Trib, like many other papers, went belly-up. She went into PR. I went into professional services and then detoured into marketing. We stayed in touch, but you know things aren’t the same when you’re not interacting every day.

In 2017, I started to make a concerted effort to get my weight under control. In 2018, down nearly 80 pounds, I started running. When I saw the announcement about the upcoming Gasparilla 5K in 2019, I called Cherie and proposed we go. She was ecstatic and said yes. I was proud of myself and incredibly excited. 

Here we are in that first race:

Waiting for the race to start.
Showing off our fancy new hardware.

Since then, we’ve done the Gasparilla 5K every year (except in 2021, because it was canceled due to Covid).

In 2020, we froze our butts off because it was 42° when the race began.
In 2022, we met Baby Yoda. Cherie, who is not a Star Wars fan, was not as excited about this as I was.

Two days ago, we were out on Bayshore again for this year’s race. Here are some pictures.

We met Pepperjack the Parrot when we picked up our race packets the day before.
Waiting for the race to start.
Another race in the books, and more medals for our collection. Notice how this year’s race towel (around my shoulders) matches my shirt. As a gay man, I would have been aghast if the colors had clashed. How gauche!

Running the Gasparilla 5K with Cherie is something I look forward to every year. It’s not just a race — it’s a tradition. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Get ready to run, Cherie! 

1 My favorite Cherie story: When we first started working together, we were working on a dual-bylined story and I put her name down as “Cheri” at the top. She said “My name as an E” at the end. I said “are you sure?” She said, “I think I know how to spell my own name.” I was embarrassed at the time, but now it’s pretty darn funny.

2 Conversely, the assholes you meet in the newsroom are the very worst type of assholes.


On the Beaten Path

After a few months of treading lightly, my sprained foot is finally on the mend. To celebrate, I finally made my way back to Bayshore Boulevard to see the sunrise. I’m still not up for running so I just walked my usual route.

Mother Nature was glad to see me and put on quite a show. Here are some of the sights and sounds:


On the Run Again

After a few months of neglecting diet and exercise, I’m back on the horse again.1 I’m tracking what I eat and being very careful to avoid mindless snacking. But that’s not what I’m happiest about. It’s my morning runs on Bayshore.

The Complimentary Spouse and I live close to Bayshore Boulevard, the longest continuous sidewalk in the country.2 It hugs Hillsborough Bay for 4½ miles in South Tampa. It’s pretty much the only place I run in Tampa, and this video I shot should show you why:

That was the view from my run this morning. Like, literally, just a few hours ago. Spectacular, right?

Pictures like this can show you what I see, but they can’t really capture the essence of the experience. You’re in the dark and, suddenly, you notice a thin slit the color of fire between the inky blue sky and the dark shimmery water. You swear it wasn’t there just a few seconds ago. The orange glow strengthens, illuminating the undersides of the clouds. If there are any ripples on the water that morning, the crests begin to lighten.

It’s at this moment that you’re most likely to see pinks in the sky. Not the wispy pink of cotton candy or the synthetic pink of Pepto-Bismol, but a vibrant pink that seems to be lit from within.

You can sense the moment right before the sun peeks over the horizon and — with no fanfare — there it is, bathing everything in red, or gold, or orange, or copper — the color shifts from moment to moment and day to day. You take a moment to stop and appreciate this. As the sun rises, the color of the sky transitions to a shade of blue. The glow is gone, and everything is bathed in beautiful natural light.

The running and sunrise — actually, let’s call it the runrise — is an important part of my day. I’m glad I’m running again and can enjoy these moments.

1 Not a literal horse, of course, of course.
2 Or so I’ve been told. I haven’t measured the other ones.


My Fine-Feathered Friends

I see these birds all the time on my morning runs. I have identified them in the past as double-breasted cormorants, but people seem to insist they are actually anhingas because their beaks are straight and not curved. I stand by my belief that these are cormorants. They clearly have had nose jobs because plastic surgery is quite popular here in South Tampa.


They Call Him Flipper, Flipper, Faster Than Lightning

I saw lots of dolphins on Bayshore this morning on my run. They weren’t close to the balustrade, but you can see them frolicking in this video.

I really hope these weren’t the dolphins from Treehouse of Horror XI. We live close to the water.


On the Next Episode of Shark Tank

I have never seen a shark on Bayshore before — but this morning, I saw two on my morning run! Here’s a video of the shark who was swimming in circles between Howard and Rome. I originally thought these were hammerhead sharks, but I’ve been told they were actually bonnethead sharks.

If you watch the video, you’ll just see the fin at first. After about 20 seconds, you can see the entire shark more clearly.

Of course, seeing a shark would remind most people of that damn Baby Shark song1 — but not me! Instead, I was reminded of this line from a so-so episode of Futurama:

1 Why hasn’t this song been outlawed by the Geneva Convention?


Meet my Running Buddy

I had some company on Bayshore Boulevard this morning.

Running Travel & Food

On Your Marks …

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” — John “The Penguin” Bingham

Since the last iteration of the Daily Dave, I have lost quite a bit of weight and taken up running. I’m slower, heavier, and less coordinated than most runners — but those things aren’t important. All that matters is that several days a week, I lumber up and down Bayshore Boulevard at sunrise.

The scenery is spectacular. So are the dolphins, who join me from time to time. 

I have done some amazing things in running shoes. I muscled through the Marabana 10K in Havana — twice! I looped the Louvre in Paris and bolted past Buckingham Palace in London. Pluto offered me a hearty handshake — um, pawshake? — after I finished a 10K at Walt Disney World. And you can’t get much higher in Florida than when you run across the Sunshine Skyway.

Gotta run! Look for more posts about running in the future.