Jeff Pearlman

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Diane Pizarro

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On the morning of January 13, Diane Pizarro was at her home in Kailua, speaking via phone with her brother, when this message flashed across her screen …
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What is one supposed to do?

How is one supposed to act?

You’re a mother. A daughter. A friend. A spouse. And you are suddenly informed that your life—and the lives of your loved ones—is about to end.

This is the subject of today’s Quaz.

Diane is my former former Tennessean colleague, as well as a product of The Review, the University of Delaware’s student newspaper. She lives in Kailua with her husband and children, and works as a real estate agent. You can visit her page here.

Serious Quaz, serious subject …

JEFF PEARLMAN: Diane, so you’re inside your home in Kailua when the missile alert is sent out. So: A. How did you learn of it? B. What was your initial response?

DIANE PIZARRO: I’m on the phone with my brother in LA. He’s talking but his voice suddenly goes dead and the alert starts blaring through my phone. I pull the phone away from my ear to look at the text, and see the emergency alert, BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER and the haunting words, THIS NOT A DRILL.

The message disappears, and my brother’s voice comes back on. He’s still talking. I interrupt him, my voice shaking and starting to crack. “Adam, oh my god I just got an alert on my phone about a nuclear attack.” I run down the hall to find my husband, Fernando. I’m shouting, “Fernando, what should we do?” But the alert hasn’t gone off on his phone yet, so he has no idea what I’m blathering about. I tell him about the alert, but it has disappeared from my screen already. Still nothing on his phone. He turns on the local TV station and it’s college basketball. Nothing. At this point I tell my brother I’m getting off the phone to figure out what’s going on. The TV finally flashes up the same alert message, giving us confirmation, but we still keep looking for more information. Meanwhile my brother is checking Twitter and sees many other people reporting the same. Then the siren near our house goes off. (We find out later very few, if any, other sirens went off, and most news reports stated there were no sirens, but the ones by our house did. I don’t recall if it was just the tsunami warning sound we are accustomed to hearing during monthly tests or the nuclear warning siren they just added in November, but any siren in my panicked state was further confirmation of our worst fears). Now we are running around closing windows. The alert finally comes across on Fernando’s phone.

Our 9-year-old daughter is repeatedly asking, “Mom, what? What is it?” I’m not sure if I should tell her, but she keeps asking, so I tell her we received an alert and we were taking precautions against a possible attack, but that we’re probably fine. She knows it’s not fine and she she starts crying. She knows exactly what it means because her class recently went through a drill at school. Meanwhile her 11-year-old sister is still asleep. I go in her room and wake her, tell her she needs to get up and we need to get away from the windows. I ask her to bring her pillow and come into the hall. I run to the fridge and grab a bottle of orange juice and plastic cups (not sure why I grab orange juice, it’s just the first thing I see in the fridge, but no one wants orange juice. I think I felt I had to DO something. We would later laugh about this). Then we just sit in the hall, and try to comfort the kids as best we can. I take to Facebook to post a message and also to see what others were posting. My husband is looking on Twitter for more information and confirmation. We sit and wait.

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J.P.: I hope this doesn’t sound obvious—but what was the fear like? How would you explain it? What are the emotions running through your mind? 

D.P.: I felt very helpless, not really knowing what to do. I mean really, we had no clue what to do, other than close windows. There’s no time, so they recommend sheltering in place.  I was thinking about our 15-year-old daughter who was already in the air on her way home from a school trip to San Francisco. What would she be coming home to, or could she even return home? Would they turn the plane around? And she didn’t even know what was going on. I know they recommend filling a bathtub with water, but we didn’t even think that. We were terribly unprepared. While the first few minutes after the alert were filled with fear and panic, an eerie calm came over as as we sat in the hall and waited. I remember thinking don’t look at the windows, don’t look at the light. Those few minutes as we sat there in the hall we really didn’t even know what to expect. Even after we got the alerts that it was a false alarm, it took us a while to peel ourselves up and shake it off. I think I was still shaking for a while after, and just felt discombobulated for most of the day.

J.P.: How did you find out it was a false alarm? And what did that feel like?

D.P.: Fernando saw a Tweet from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. That was the first confirmation. We kept searching for more confirmation, and I saw posts from a couple of friends on Facebook and eventually it became clear we were not in imminent danger. It was frustrating because authorities didn’t issue an official notification for 38 minutes, which seemed like forever. Then it was trying to find out what on earth happened. Local television finally started reporting that it was a mistake and then we could finally start going about our business. Like watching the Titans get destroyed by the Patriots. Oh, and when I picked up our 15-year-old at the airport, she was teasing me a little, like, “Oh, you believed it was real?” She had no idea the fear and panic we went through, but maybe that’s for the best. Those 10 minutes or so changed us a little bit.

J.P.: I’m sure you’re aware that, as all this was happening, Donald Trump was playing golf, and Tweeted about #fakenews unrelated to Hawaii. So … does that bother you? Or does it not really matter?

D.P.: I’ve stopped paying attention to anything he does. It’s pointless, and I’m not at all surprised by what he was doing or his reaction. The thing I’m focused on now is how can we get rid of him, and also get back Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

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With Fernando.

J.P.: You and I both attended the University of Delaware, both worked at The Tennessean. So, um, how the heck did you wind up in Hawaii?

D.P.: After having our first daughter in Nashville, we visited Fernando’s parents who had moved there out of the blue in 1996 from the U.S. mainland. We fell in love with it. How could you not? We were getting restless living in Middle Tennessee and Hawaii was completely different. Having his parents there was also a reason to move. Gannett, which owns The Tennessean where my husband and I worked, also owned the Honolulu Advertiser and we arranged to meet some of the editors in Honolulu. There were no positions available at that time, but when a city editor position opened up a few months later, Fernando applied for the position and we moved here three weeks after getting the job offer, in July 2004.

J.P.: My wife has often said, “I’d love to live in Hawaii.” But then I’ve heard two common negative replies: 1. You inevitably feel like you’re trapped; 2. People aren’t that warm toward non-natives. Any of that legit? And what is it like living there?

D.P.: Island fever! I’ve not felt that in the almost 14 years I’ve been here. I imagine some people can feel boxed in since you can’t drive anywhere but it’s not an issue for us. Everyone we’ve met has been extremely gracious, hospitable and friendly. It’s obvious my husband and I are not from here, but no one has ever made us feel unwanted or excluded. It’s all about how you engage with the people you meet and having an open mind and avoiding any preconceived notions. Aside from missile threats, I imagine living here is much like living on any coast of the United States: beautiful, expensive, full of wonderful ocean views and tropical settings.

J.P.: Like an increasing number of people, you’re an ex-journalist. Why? What happened? What caused you to leave the business?

D.P.: When we were talking with The Honolulu Advertiser, the only positions that were available for me would have involved working at night. With Fernando as city editor, we would have been on completely different schedules and we didn’t want that for our family. I decided to be a stay-at-home mom and I loved the time I spent with my children. When the children grew older and I started thinking about working again, so much had changed in journalism locally and nationally that I felt very removed and separate from my old career. I thought about what really interested me and real estate was where my interests were.

J.P.: What’s the journalism scene in Honolulu? Do you see good reporting being done? Are newspapers still important?

D.P.: Honolulu became a one-newspaper town in 2010 and that was definitely a loss. I think Honolulu Civil Beat, an online news site, does a good job of augmenting the one newspaper and the TV stations. There’s good journalism here but there’s room for more investigative work.

At the 2011 Pro Bowl

At the 2011 Pro Bowl

J.P.: You’re a realtor in Honolulu County. I’ve gotta think people are always itching to move there. So … what are the complications? Like, do people think they’re walking into something unrealistic? Paradise without problems? And what percentage of your business is locals v. people from off the mainland?

D.P.: It is very costly to live in Hawaii. With median single family home prices at $750,000, many people work multiple jobs to manage. Buyers coming in from the mainland can be unrealistic if they aren’t familiar with the market. Even $500,000 doesn’t go very far in most parts of the island. In Kailua for instance, the beach town where we live, $500,000 will only buy a 1-2 bedroom apartment with a $400-600 a month maintenance fee. Some of the newer subdivisions out west are more affordable, but with that comes traffic gridlock so people find themselves making tough choices regarding housing. In our little beach town, many single family homes have attached apartments added on that can be rented out to help with the mortgage. But be prepared to spend well over $1 million for something like that. Many of my clients are locals or transplants who have been here many years and are essentially considered locals, but I do also have a fair share of military and relocating civilian clients.

J.P.: One of your featured listings is a seven-bathroom, six-bedroom Honolulu home selling for $5.9 million. I wonder—are huge listings like that harder or easier than, say, your average $700,000 home? Do you have to approach them differently?

D.P.: The scale of Hawaii real estate is so much larger than on the Mainland. An “average home” here is a mansion almost anywhere else in the United States. I think about that with every transaction that I’m fortunate enough to have. Whether I’m working with a buyer or seller, the investment is very significant and I work very hard for all of my clients. Some properties have their own complexity because of specific issues with the lot or the infrastructure or legal issues. Some higher dollar transactions can go much more smoothly than those where the price point is lower, but it can also be just the opposite. The goal always is to have happy, satisfied clients. Much like the day in the life of a journalist, every day and every transaction is different. I love that and it gives me a great thrill to find the right house for a buyer, get offers on one of my listings, or learn about a home not yet on market, no matter the price point.

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• Rank in order (favorite to least): Ted Spiker, Frank Sutherland, Kellogg’s Pops, New Jersey, Nerlens Noel, the elephant exhibit at a zoo, coconut pie, Punky Brewster, the number 34: New Jersey! (my first home in the U.S. after emigrating from London in 1981, and the setting for my high school years!!!); Frank Sutherland (hired me and also helped us get to Honolulu 11 years later); Ted Spiker (fun memories of late nights at the Review); the elephant exhibit at the zoo (where I first saw newly elected President Obama with his daughters before he took office, so whenever I see the elephant exhibit it reminds me of that day); Kellogg’s Pops (reminds me of college, eating them straight out of the box); coconut pie (haupia pie in Hawaii); the number 34 (prefer odd numbers); Punky Brewster (didn’t watch much TV at that time, was in college), Nerlens Noel (who?).

• Five reasons one should make Honolulu his/her next vacation destination?: Beautiful beaches; even more beautiful lush mountains; local cuisine, especially poke (raw fish, usually cubed and seasoned, and spicy ahi is da best); aloha spirit; the people. Once you let her in, Hawai’i stays in your soul.

• How did you meet your husband?: He came to The Tennessean for a conference we were hosting. He was working for the Clarksville (Tenn.) Leaf-Chronicle newspaper at the time. We sat in some sessions and I remember he sat across from me at dinner. He got a job at The Tennessean about a year after that and we hit it off right away.

• What’s the greatest smell in the world?: The ocean.

• Last time you saw snow in person?: June 2015 when we visited a friend in Washington State and we took a trip to Mount Baker. The kids threw snowballs, slid down the hill and made snow angels. It was priceless.

• Three memories from working at The Review?: 1. Late, late nights hanging out with Ted Spiker, Mark Nardone, Corey Ullman, Jeff James, Bob Bicknell and many others I’ve lost touch with, takeout grilled cheese and french fries at the student center; 2. The April Fools edition. Awesome. Do they still do that? I doubt it. So politically incorrect; 3. My first editors were Mike Freeman and Chuck Arnold. When I first started on the Review, I was new to journalism completely clueless. I was typing a story and lost it two or three times. Mike Freeman was the editor-in-chief and he took the time to help retrieve the story. He was a inspiring newsroom leader, and I have since enjoyed following his success. I read a Quaz you did with him a while back and was happy to see it. I lost track of Chuck Arnold but I always thought he would end up in the music industry.

• Celine Dion calls. She wants to buy a $10 million home in Honolulu, and wants to use your services. However, she insists you shave your hair and only eat peaches and Chex Mix for two weeks. You in?: Nope. I don’t like Celine Dion and it would also hurt my reputation.

• Do you think the Brooklyn Nets were wise to trade for Jahlil Okafor?: Who and who? I only know my Tennessee Titans.

• What are three things you always carry?: Phone, driver’s license, credit card.

• What happens when we die?: -30-

Losing Faith in Faith

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This is going to sound weird, because I’m a man of precious little religious faith, but Donald Trump’s first year in office caused me to lose faith in those who have faith.

Let me explain.

I don’t think there’s a god. I don’t think Jesus was a messiah. I don’t think Moses received tablets, that there was a burning bush, that Noah loaded a boat with animal tandems. I simply don’t buy much-to-any of it.

And yet, look—see how I wrote “much-to-any”? That was intentional, because in the far, far, far, far back corner of my mind, I’ve always thought, “Well, I don’t 100 percent know.” I mean, I’ve sat inside a gorgeous Catholic Church during Easter mass, with the stained glass window at a glow, with angelic voices singing as one, with statues of Christ staring down at me. I’ve attended Christmas Eve services at a megachurch, surrounded by 500 people believing—with all their heart—in God’s love. And in those moments, I am able to see why folks have faith. The attractiveness of it. The goodness. This idea in a pure love; in a spirituality guided by embracing all.

Much-to-any …

So, no, I wasn’t a likely convert to faith. But I wasn’t 100 percent frozen to it, either.

Then, Donald Trump came along.

I actually don’t blame any of what I’m about to type on the 45th president, who is exactly what he always has been. Nope, I blame the crushing of much-to-any on the seemingly millions of self-professed Christians who offer WWJD messages, then turn around and ignore everything about WWJD. Or, put different, would Jesus Christ mock women for their weight? Would he mock the disabled? Would he brand Mexicans rapists? Would he call for a ban on Muslims? Would he brag of sexually assaulting women? Would he call African nations “shitholes”? Would he lie and lie and lie and lie and lie? About his words? About his deeds? Would he Tweet with the maliciousness of a third-grade bully? Would he make up a telephone call from a Boy Scouts leader? Would he destroy as many environmental protections as possible? Would he create a fake university to bilk people of their money? Would he demand homeless veterans be removed from the street before his building? Would he create a myth that the sitting president wasn’t born in the United States? Would he donate $0.00 to 9/11 causes, then lie about people celebrating atop a building in New Jersey? Would he propose tax cuts that primarily help the uber wealthy? Would he kick people out of the country who were brought here as small children?

I can go on and on.

Again, I don’t blame Trump for the destruction of my much-to-any. No, I blame you—the average American churchgoer willing to overlook 100,000 transgressions because … why? Your wallet might get a bit thicker? You feel drawn to a bully?

By setting aside your faith, you are killing faith. You are making people in my shoes see the utter meaningless and vapidness behind your beliefs. You are reinforcing the idea that all this “love thy neighbor” mumbo jumbo is, well, mumbo jumbo.

You’re helping to ruin our country, and that sucks. But that, at least we should survive.

The death of faith via integrity? That’s eternal.

PS: I actually left out an important point, and will add it here: I keep thinking, “If people are dumb enough to fall for a street-corner huckster like Donald Trump, why should I trust their judgement on issues of faith?” I mean that. You say Jesus died for my sins. You believe it—strongly. Which is hard to digest if you’re not feeling faith. But then you also believe Donald Trump—vile, racist, xenophobic aspiring dictator—is the ideal leader. How do you have any intellectual credibility? Why would I ever follow your lead?

On Marcus Williams

Marcus Williams is a 21-year-old New Orleans Saints rookie who, earlier today, made an enormous mistake on the final play of his team’s loss to the Vikings.

He has been ridiculed and mocked and threatened and scorned on social media. And, as I always say in times like these to the people doing the ridiculing and mocking and threatening, and scorning: Get a life.

Seriously, get a life.

It’s a football game. Things happen quickly. He went in to make the tackle, worried he’d arrive too early and avoided contact. It was a bad play in a game of 1,000 bad plays. You just happen to be lucky that no one cares about your job at the law firm or the post office or the hamburger joint. There are no cameras, no commentators, no social media hawks waiting to swoop in on you.

And, yes, I know—Marcus Williams makes a good salary. But know how long he’ll last, if you go by the NFL average? Two-to-three years. That’s it. In a game that leaves you physically decimated and emotionally unprepared.

So cut the guy a break.

We all make mistakes.

My 11-year-old ran a half marathon. It was unnecessary

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My son Emmett is 11, and yesterday morning we ran a half marathon together.

Now, one might be inclined to think, “Wow, that’s amazing! Go Emmett!” or “What a terrific father-son bonding opportunity.” But, in all honesty, I’m disappointed in myself as a parent. I feel like, in hindsight, I let the boy down.

Soooo … Emmett is in a running club at his middle school. It’s a pretty neat program where sixth, seventh and eighth graders train together several times per week. I grew up participating in an endless string of 5Ks and 10Ks, and I gained myriad invaluable lessons in work ethic, in toughness, in timeliness. I mean, I still think about those runs quite frequently, and the idea of fighting to achieve a goal. I wound up running a year of track and cross country at Delaware, then completed 11 marathons. None of this is being stated as a brag (it’d be a pretty weak brag). I’m simply trying to say that, when it comes to distance running, I’ve long been all in.

I digress.

The problem here is that the after-school club Emmett belongs to trains kids to run … a marathon. Yes, 26.2 miles. And, to me and the wife, this is wrongheaded. Marathons are brutal. They’re physically demanding. They’re emotionally punishing. They take a ton out of a person and—if one’s not careful—can cause real damage. The pound-pound-pound-pounding on the body isn’t natural. And, in my opinion, it’s especially unnatural for kids who are still developing. The idea of the club (with very good intentions) is to teach youngsters that they can accomplish a goal through hard work and devotion. And that’s a superb lesson—generally. Not with this. But … generally.

Anyhow, I consulted with myriad coaches and distance runners, and no one thought kids this age should be running marathons. We agree 100 percent, so we’re not letting Emmett train for or run the 26.2. That said, I took him to the half. I dunno—I just thought we could walk-run, go at an easy pace, hold back … whatever. And it worked. We walked-run a good amount. We went at an easy pace. We held back. But as we approached mile 10, I saw Emmett start to change. He turned less chatty. His pace slowed a lot. His ankle began to throb, and he complained about his stomach. I encouraged him to walk more, and he did.

But, truly, why was he doing this? He’s 11. How is this teaching him to love running? How is putting him through torture a good thing? I tried being upbeat and positive; even kept that facade in the hours afterward.

But as I sit here, more than 24 hours later, I know I let my kid down.

I know he shouldn’t have run.

When all you do is lie

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Fuck, yes. That’s me—middle row, third from right.

Back when I was a sixth grader at Lakeview Elementary School, my class did a project where we ran to Los Angeles for the upcoming Summer Olympics.

By “ran”—well, we didn’t actually run to California. What happened was every morning we’d come to class and the teacher, a lovely woman named Mrs. Gardineer, would ask how many miles we jogged the previous afternoon. She’d add all the digits up, post them on the board and, over time, we made it closer and closer to SoCal.

Anyhow, I was 12 and a legit runner. Meaning I ran 10Ks and half marathons pretty regularly, so my totals generally led the class. There was, however, a girl who always topped me. Every day she’d boast of running 10 miles, eight miles, 12 miles. One Monday she came in and told Mrs. Gardineer that she’d run 30 miles the day before.

“But Lucy*,” the teacher said, “that’s longer than a marathon.”

“I know,” she said.

In hindsight, Mrs. Gardineer didn’t want to humiliate Lucy in front of the class. So she’d dutifully mark her mileage, and—powered by Alberto Salazar II—we made our way west. But before long, nobody took her seriously. Lucy’s totals were greeted with laughter, derision, scorn. She was a class joke, and being a class joke at age 12 is brutal. Such is life when you lie and lie and lie.

I digress.

Donald Trump said that he’s not visiting England because of some nonsense with the U.S. Embassy. This was, clearly, a lie. The, what, 3,000th lie of the year. He lies and lies and lies and lies, and there is—truly—no longer reason to take anything he says seriously. His threats are empty. His promises mean shit. If you’re North Korea or Russia or even Canada, why take him even slightly seriously?

He’s a Lucy.

 * Not her real name


Michal Kapral


Photo by Christine Spingola/Canada Running Series

A few weeks ago I was feeling down about the Quaz.

I’ve been doing this thing for nearly seven years, and the week-after-week-after-week grind had taken its toll. I actually spoke with the wife about retiring the series, and took that idea to Twitter and Facebook. People were supportive (Maybe just some time off?), but I was torn. On the one hand, I really wanna hit 1,000. On the other hand, it can be a burden.

Then—Michal Kapral.

He was suggested by a friend, and after I asked, “Michal who?” he sent me material that had me both entertained and dazzled. I mean, here’s a guy who has devoted much of his life to running marathons … while juggling. That is so friggin’ Quaz, I couldn’t possibly let it pass.

Anyhow, here I am. Renewed and re-energized and back on the march toward 1,000. And here, by no mere coincidence, is Michal Kapral, aka “The Joggler.” His story is insane. His exploits are insane. And behind it all is a genuinely good dude who, as a boy, picked up a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records and said, “I want that.”

One can follow Michal on Twitter here, and read his fascinating blog here.

Michal Kapral, take a break. You’re the 342nd Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So Michal, you’re “The Joggler”—meaning you run marathons while juggling. Which is quirky/funky/awesome/weird. So, basic first question, how did this happen?

MICHAL KAPRAL: You know how sometimes in life, a series of small decisions and events lead to strange and unexpected consequences? That’s how I became “The Joggler.” Growing up, I was mostly healthy and normal, but also felt different from my friends because I was allergic to almost every food. I also had severe eczema, and asthma that sent me to the hospital several times. I think this feeling of being different pushed me try offbeat feats. I already felt like a bit of an oddball, so why not embrace it?

My sister Moira and I used to flip through the Guinness Book of World Records to find records we could break. When I was about 12, I had just taught myself how to juggle three tennis balls, and found a record for the “joggling” marathon. Running while juggling for 26.2 miles—I was captivated! I couldn’t believe that someone did this, and went to the park the next day to try out this hilarious-sounding sport. To my amazement, the juggling actually fit perfectly with the running stride. Flash forward 20 years, and I was then a semi-competitive marathon runner. I had won the Toronto Marathon in a PR of 2:30:40 and had dreams of representing Canada in the Olympics. But my marathon times remained stuck in that 2:30 range and my life got too busy to train like an elite marathoner. I was working two jobs and shuttling our first daughter Annika to and from daycare in a Baby Jogger. At some point when I was doing a long run pushing Annika in the running stroller, I thought about running my next marathon pushing her, and wondered if there was a Guinness World Record for running a marathon pushing a stroller. Turned out there was. It was 3:05. So in 2004, I set my first Guinness World Record with Annika: fastest marathon pushing a stroller, in 2:49.

I was raising money for SickKids, the hospital that took care of me when I had those asthma attacks as a kid, and when the people from the charity asked me what I would do the next year, I blurted out: “I’m going to run the marathon while juggling!” I hadn’t tried joggling in 20 years, and had just committed to running an entire marathon. But my childhood dream was alight and I was excited to chase it. I ordered a set of juggling balls and started training every morning at sunrise so no one would see me struggling. I dropped the balls left, right and center. I swore into the morning air. But I kept at it, and got a little better every day. After a few months, I could go a mile without a drop. My arms got strong. In 2005 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I set the record for fastest marathon joggling three objects, in 3:07. I saw kids point and cheer along the course who were the same age as me when I first read about this record, and felt there was something more to this than silliness. The juggling pattern mesmerized me. My arms, legs and brain were all working in perfect harmony. Making it across that finish line after more than three hours of running while juggling every step was one the hardest things I’ve ever done. Everything hurt, even my brain. But I had become “The Joggler.”

J.P.: You are in the Guinness Book of World Records for running a 2:50 marathon while juggling three objects. My PR is a 3:11—sans any objects. So what I wonder, as a running geek, is how you run so fast while not using your arms in a collaborative effort? Is arm usage somehow overrated in running?

M.K.: The cool thing about joggling is that the arm motion of running actually syncs up perfectly with the tosses in the three-ball cascade juggling pattern. After many years of practice, I can run while juggling at almost the same speed as I would just running. My marathon PR is 20 minutes faster than my joggling record, but I was probably in 2:35 or 2:40 marathon shape when I joggled the 2:50 record. The secret to efficient joggling is maintaining the same arm swing as when you’re running. This means you need to catch the ball, carry it in your hand as your arm swings back and then toss it as your arm swings forward. When it’s smooth, joggling is poetry in motion.

J.P.: Back in October you ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and tried to set a new world record for fastest marathon while juggling five objects. You came up short, but still blogged about the experience as a victorious one. Why?

M.K.: I had been thinking about trying a five-ball joggling marathon for 10 years. It’s such a daunting prospect because the difficulty level is off the charts. Also, most people don’t even realize how hard it is. When I was joggling the five-ball marathon, a woman saw me and said: “You should just juggle three balls. No one will know the difference.” She had a good point. A lot of people can’t distinguish the three-ball pattern from four or five. I raised money for SickKids again, but the five-ball marathon attempt was much more of a personal challenge than the three-ball records. It turned out to be even more challenging than I expected, and I had to bail on the juggling after a little over 10 miles. But I considered it a success because it was such an amazing experience. I got to reconnect with my joggling rival and friend Zach Warren, who acted as my spotter during the race, people donated nearly $2,000 to SickKids, I made it to 17km while juggling five balls, which is the furthest five-ball joggling distance officially documented, and Zach convinced me to finish the rest of the marathon without the juggling, which we did with a negative split (running the second half faster than the first) of nearly two hours. I also got to experience what it’s like to be in dead last place in a marathon. Humbling! The five-ball joggling pattern is a beautiful thing, but trying to do it in a busy marathon was a lofty goal. I don’t think I’ll try it again (although I’ve said that before about other records!).


Photo by Canada Running Series

J.P.: I’m pretty sure people are born fast and others are born less fast, and while the less fast can become fast, they might never run a 2:20 marathon. My question is—are people born jugglers? Like, could a non-juggler like myself devote years to the craft and become a star? Or does it take a special something?

M.K.: I never really thought about that. I think there is some natural talent involved in becoming an advanced juggler. Since I took up joggling, I’ve watched videos of a bunch of the world’s best jugglers and the things they can do will blow your mind. Much like running, a huge amount of juggling skill can be acquired through hours and hours of practice, but like elite runners, I bet the top-level jugglers have some natural ability baked in there. But I do think that with patience and practice, anyone can become a really good juggler. I practiced for many hours for about six months to learn the five-ball pattern. It certainly didn’t come naturally. Once you get comfortable with the three-ball cascade, practice becomes a lot more fun because you can learn tricks, and then move up to four balls, five balls, and other props like rings and clubs. The possibilities for tricks and routines are virtually infinite, which is really cool. It’s not just clowning around. Juggling is a sport, an art, a science, a skill and brain-builder. It’s definitely worth the effort that you put into it. It’s really a shame that juggling is associated with being geeky and clownish in our current society, because it has so many benefits.

J.P.: Off-putting question, but how much of this is about attention? We all have egos. We all like to be noticed. So does that need feed you at all? Do you thrive off the news appearances, cheering fans, etc?

M.K.: I think of my joggling as similar to being a professional athlete (but without most of the money). I don’t do it for the attention, but it’s fun to put your best out there for the world to see, and to entertain people in the process. I used to do 99 percent of my joggling training alone through Toronto’s park system, and I do it for the same reasons runners run. I enjoy it. Nowadays, my joggling commute from work in downtown Toronto to our home in east end is sort of performance art in its own right, since I run past so many people. How many other sports are there where you get random people cheering you on while you train? So I get a real kick out my training now, seeing kids point me out to their moms and dads, and hearing all kinds of hilarious comments from people on the street. When I’m racing, it’s a huge thrill to hear the cheers and see the look of shock on some people’s faces, and the media interviews are fun and exciting, but it’s also a ton of hard work for no money.

I’m just trying to be best at my sport, which happens to be quirky enough to garner a lot of attention. If a running brand sponsored me, they would get millions and millions of dollars’ worth of PR value every year. My least favorite comment is when people yell “Show-off!” near the end of a joggling marathon, when every fiber of my being is screaming in agony from the effort. That’s when I get envious of Olympic athletes or of NBA players or tennis stars. No one yells “Show-off!” at LeBron James when he sinks a three-pointer. The greatest thing is just doing your absolute best, whatever it is you do. I’m very lucky joggling is a fun challenge for me and also entertaining for other people. I was in the 2009 documentary, “Breaking and Entering,” that follows the lives of several world-record breakers. The movie has the great tagline: “Fame. Fortune. Usually neither.” The record-breakers in the film had all kinds of different motivations for doing what they do. Fame and fortune were not typically high on the list, which is good because if they were the driving factors, there would be a lot of very disappointed record-breakers out there.


Photo by Dianne Kapral

J.P.: Here’s the one that gets me—in 2012 you juggled the entire Trapline Marathon in Labrador—and won it with a 2:59. That’s beyond weird, because I imagine, for the other competitors, it must have been somewhat discouraging. What do you remember from the experience?

M.K.: Thinking of the Trapline Marathon in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador brings back so many great memories. It’s a beautiful point-to-point course along one rolling road in the wilderness of the Canadian north. It’s such a small race that the other runners didn’t care that a guy won it while juggling. I ran next to one guy for a few miles and then took off on my own for the rest. It was quite a surreal experience (one of many surreal joggling experiences) to be joggling all alone in such a remote area and winning a marathon. Serial marathoner Michael Wardian was supposed to run it that year but was injured. He cheered me on from a bike for part of the race. There was a moose on the course, and they served moose stew at race finish. I remember wondering if it was the same moose.

J.P.: In 2015 you were banned from running the New York City Marathon when your beanbags were prohibited for security reasons. What, exactly, happened? And how furious were you?

M.K.: I always ask for permission from the race director before joggling. It’s never been a problem before. I had signed up for the New York City Marathon assuming joggling would be allowed since it had a long tradition of permitting jogglers. Race founder Fred Lebow was a fan of joggling back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the race instituted new security rules after the Boston Marathon bombings, which prohibited the use of “props” or “sporting equipment.” I sent the race a detailed email with my joggling resume and the specs on my 100-gram, millet-filled juggling beanbags, and they said sorry, the beanbags are not allowed because of security concerns. I tried to plead my case, but to no avail. I wasn’t angry, just super disappointed. With so many spectators, NYC is the perfect venue for joggling. Such a shame.

At least one other person joggled the race anyway, so they don’t even enforce it. The funny thing was the story ended up on the front page of the New York Times sports section on the day of the marathon with the awesome headline: “With Juggling Ban, Only Things Being Aired Are Grievances.” The article included some hilarious passages, like, “Reactions from the tightknit joggling community were swift and furious, with members expressing concern from as far as Afghanistan and the Central African Republic.” Incredibly, when I ran the race as a normal non-juggling runner, a ton of people still recognized me from the NYT piece, and because I was in a TV commercial for Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. I’ve never had so much attention for not joggling.


Photo by Christine Spingola/Canada Running Series

J.P.: I’m gonna throw a random one at you, based solely on your running experience. My son is 11, and his middle school has a running club that trains sixth, seventh and eighth graders for a marathon. A full marathon. I find this unwise and crazy, and we’re only letting Emmett train for a half. What says you?

M.K.: I’ve heard of kids that age running marathons and I don’t think it’s a good idea. That’s a lot of stress on growing bones. I’d stick to the half or 10K. My younger daughter Lauryn, who is 13, loves to run and goes five or six miles with me sometimes. I definitely wouldn’t want her to run a marathon at that age. What I think your son’s school really needs is a joggling club.

J.P.: Greatest moment of your sports career? Lowest?

M.K.: The greatest moment in my sports career was reclaiming the world record for the three-ball joggling marathon in 2007, finishing in 2:50:12 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and seeing my family at the finish line. I was so happy I literally jumped for joy at the finish line.

The lowest was probably the part of the five-ball joggling marathon attempt where the race video crew showed up after I had fallen apart and was trying to joggle with a torn muscle in my hand. At one point I was so done I lay down on my back – all captured on the live stream worldwide!

J.P.: It seems like there’s a fight for people to take joggling seriously. Like, you and your rivals clearly do. It’s not a joke, it’s a talent. And yet, from what I read there’s also a lot of snickering. Soooo … do you care? Do you get pissed when folks giggle, laugh, etc? Do you think folks misunderstand what you do?

M.K.: I don’t mind when people laugh or snicker. It’s a funny sport. As long as it makes people smile and laugh, that’s a good thing. But sure, lots of people don’t understand just how hard it is, and that we’re not just screwing around. It would be great if people recognized that it’s both difficult and funny. It’s a lot like stand-up comedy. It’ll never be serious, but it takes a lot of work to do it well.

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Photo by Trapline Marathon


• Rank in order (favorite to least): Spice Girls, Amy Grant, Vancouver, “Trading Places,” chocolate covered almonds, Nebraska, Howie Long, New Year’s Eve parties, rifles, little puppies, Tim Horton’s: “Trading Places,” Vancouver, chocolate covered almonds, New Year’s Eve parties, little puppies, Howie Long, Tim Horton’s, Nebraska, Spice Girls, rifles, Amy Grant

• You’re Canadian. From afar, what do you think of Donald Trump thus far?: What do you say? Trump’s election is greatest threat to democracy I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’m sad and scared for my American neighbors, but still hopeful justice will be served to everyone who’s complicit in this mess. I happened to read Bill Browder’s “Red Notice” just before the U.S. election – a terrifying account of how deep the corruption runs in Putin’s regime. Every American should read it to get a sense of what you’re dealing with.

• Three things we need to know about your wife: 1. Apart from being smart, beautiful and great mom, Dianne is always up for adventure. We went backpacking in Ecuador for our honeymoon; 2. Dianne is a great runner, and ran her marathon PR of 3:24:17 in Chicago in 2014 at age 41; 3. Dianne hates, HATES being called “The Joggler’s wife,” even though she’s really the one who’s responsible for making me known as “The Joggler” by writing all the press releases and pitching my record attempts to media when I first started.

• I just read that Janet Jackson is back together with Jermaine Dupri. How you taking the news?: Tito, get me some tissue.

• Four all-time favorite jazz musicians?: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, but I prefer heavy metal.

• What are the three keys to successful juggling?: Get used to failure, stay calm, think of the whole pattern not the individual toss, learn in increments

 Best memory from your senior prom?: I went to an American school in Rome for my senior year, so senior prom at a Roman villa was all one big amazing memory.

• Ever thought you were about to die? If so, what do you recall?: Several times from anaphylaxis after accidentally eating peanuts or other food allergens. Every time, my first thought was just “Not now!” I almost died from a rare virus a few years ago, but that time I was totally unaware of my near-death. I passed out, crumpling to the bathroom floor, smashing my head and tearing open my arm on the way down. I woke up what felt like one second later to find my wife and two daughters screaming and crying in front of me. It turned out I was unconscious for more than a minute, with my eyes open. Turned out to be a virus that used to have a 75% fatality rate before anti-viral medications came along. Thanks to some great doctors and Canadian health care, I was back marathon training a couple of weeks later.

• In exactly 16 words, make an argument for cornbread: Cornbread has the perfect texture and flavor to complement butter and chili. I want some now!

• What do your feet smell like after a race?: Surprisingly not too bad. I don’t sweat much and wear very thin, breathable socks. My wife might have another opinion about this.

He tried singing the anthem.

General rules:

If you’ve had extensive plastic surgery, don’t comment on the decaying looks of others.

If you’ve had gastric bypass, don’t mock those who are overweight.

If you can’t read, don’t savage a book. If you can’t dance, don’t mock John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.” If you can’t throw a tight spiral, don’t devote your days to proclaiming the awfulness of Eli Manning.

And, if you’re president of the United States, and you don’t know the words to the national anthem, don’t go bashing the patriotism (or lack thereof) of others.

Seriously, Donald Trump. You conman; you embarrassment; you fuck. I thought it was bad enough when you mocked POWs and Gold Star families while having received five deferments. I thought it was bad enough when you said kneeling NFL players were unpatriotic as you booted homeless Vietnam vets off the street in front of Trump Tower. I thought it was bad enough when you ran a fake “university” that bilked others of their money while labeling opponents as “lyin'” and “crooked.”

But there you were tonight, standing before the nation and alongside our soldiers, unable to recall the words to a song most third graders know by heart.

There you were, exposed.

There you were.

The bathrooms in Souplantation

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There’s a restaurant called Souplantation that’s located about two miles from my home.

In our 3 1/2 years of California living, we’ve probably eaten there, oh, 30 times. First, it’s cheap. Second, it’s healthy (mainly salads and soups). Third, it’s close. Fourth, it’s easy. Fifth, we’ve gotten to know a handful of the people who work there, and they’re wonderful.

That said …

The bathrooms are gross. Always. There’s a piss puddle eternally nestled beneath the urinal, the garbage can overflows with paper towels, the sink is disgusting, the toilets are rarely (if ever?) cleaned.

And while I hate to say this about a place I truly dig, a grotesque restaurant bathroom has to make you wonder about the food, the bowls, the silverware, the staffers. It just seems, were one to manage a restaurant, he/she would make bathroom cleanliness a priority. I’ve never owned an eatery, but should it ever happen I’ll be certain the potty is checked every hour, on the hour.

Anyhow, just a vent.

Family Bingo

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I’m a fan of creating games. It’s one of my strengths as a father.

Now, to be clear, I have plenty of weaknesses. Too many sweets. An occasionally quick fuze. Poor wardrobe decisions. An inability to use the local middle school’s grade update system.

But games. Games are my thing.

I hate when I see a family at a restaurant, and everyone is glued to a screen. It sucks, because there are so many better (non-eating) things to be doing. For us, constructing buildings out of sugar packets is a biggie. So is playing Jenga with jelly containers. I have one that’s oddly fun, where a person has to study his/her fork for a minute. Then I take it, mingle it with my fork and the person has to tell me which was his/hers.

We’re also good with 100 menu games …

Guess the price.

Which one of the three items I’m naming doesn’t exist.

How do you spell types of wine.

Truly, there’s an infinite supply of created table games.

Anyhow, last week while visiting Florida, I created my new favorite: Table Bingo.

So Casey and I each created Bingo cards on our coasters, and we had to predict things that would happen during the meal. They couldn’t be obvious, like “Mom picks up fork” or “Henry drinks water.” No, the items had to be specific. For example, an individual will complain about an item. Someone will check his cell phone. There’ll be an argument over whether the children get dessert.

I’m probably not doing this justice, but it was preposterously fun. My board is above.

Casey won.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life