Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

COOL RUNNING: At the completion of the California International Marathon in December 2013 at the state capitol. On race day, it was 20 degrees at start time and barely above the freezing mark when we crossed the finish line. That adds a whole other level to the challenge for us warm-blooded California folks.

Life is a marathon

John Elliott


Taking a week off from the normal routine, like we did last week, is always a good thing for me. I wish it could be more, but by choosing to do a weekly newspaper the next deadline is always right around the corner. 

Trying to survive this rat race of a profession for 20 years — to keep a small town paper afloat in an era of increasing globalization — is a lot like running a marathon.

Ironically, learning to run marathons is the key factor that allowed Sarah and me to survive and thrive this marathon of a business. When our kids went off to college several years ago, we needed a new challenge that we could share and compress into our daily routine. Running the  training mileage needed to complete 26.2 miles takes some effort for sure, but where better to run than the roads and trails in Kaweah Country?

When starting a routine, most would not fathom ever running 26.2 miles. We certainly did not. 

My advice is to start with a no-pressure, shorter race goal like the Kaweah Country Run 5K/10K (three miles or six miles). And speaking of, add that to your calendar on November 26, 2014. 

A race on the calendar is a practical approach because setting a goal helps with the discipline needed to stick to the program. There is no easier way to learn to love the run than to set realistic goals and experience the progress. 

Running is also a proven weight-loss technique that is a lot healthier than a fad diet. After a few months of walking/running, your body begins to tell you what you need. You begin to crave real food to fuel your body and decreasingly less fatty foods, sugar, or salt.

When I started running in November 2007, I weighed  160-something and was having health issues due to stress. Since then, I’ve lost about 30 pounds, have a good fitness base,  and am dealing better with the stress.

Our first full marathon was on Catalina Island in March 2012. We chose a difficult one (4,000 vertical feet of climbing) because it was most like the terrain we’d been training on, but also knowing we might hit “the wall.” The wall is the place where the body (and mind) often runs out of energy due to lack of fuel.

It’s uncannily similar to what might have happened in our newspaper business had we not refueled our website, broadened our appeal by acknowledging social media, and recognized the need for an online edition.

The Catalina backcountry is beautiful with high hills and scenic ocean vistas. But nothing seemed to line up for us — we both had the flu the week before the race. We both hit the wall hard after the first half of the course and, unbeknownst to the other, both hobbled downhill during what should have been a more enjoyable last two miles.

We cried emotional tears of suffering and joy at the finish — at least until we had our finisher’s T-shirts and found the Lions Beer Garden.

It’s amazing how soon we forgot the pain and the muscle cramps. On the boat ride back to Long Beach we were already planning where we would run our next marathon.

That turned out to be at Maui in January 2013. A much better experience for certain with whales jumping in channel as we rounded the southern tip of the island. 

I won’t belabor the point with a play-by-play of our next four marathons, but now we have learned how to fuel so no more cramps and finishing feeling like we couldn’t possibly take another step.

We’re not fast runners by any stretch but we’ve got endurance, thanks to our Sierra training grounds, so once in awhile we win age group medals like earlier this year at the hilly Red Rock Canyon Marathon near Las Vegas. 

Now we are looking forward to our next race — the epic Marine Corps Marathon in  Washington, D.C., this fall. We won’t even be noticed in the field of 30,000 runners who start at Arlington National Cemetery and turn around near the White House to return to Virginia. I will proudly wear my father’s World War II dog tags that he wore as a Marine defending his country in the South Pacific.

After the race, we plan to visit the Newseum and interview our congressman Kevin McCarthy. Our careers as marathoning newspaper owners have come full circle in 20 years.

As for what comes next, only time will tell. But to be excited about our prospects of reaching 26.2 miles (or more) running or 26 years in the publishing business in this wacky world — now that’s what I’m talking about.