Take it to the limit!


goats on my running routeI was watching a show the other night chronicling The Eagles, one of my favorite bands. The memories…the sights and sounds…that program conjured up were surprisingly moving and personal. It threw me a little bit.

In one segment, they were interviewing Randy Meisner, one of the band members, about the song he wrote, “Take It To The Limit.” He described what his thoughts were while writing that song. He wanted to see how far he could go, how far he could push, how good could he be…one more time.

I have heard that song a thousand times over the years and never once thought of it in that context. I thought, yea, that’s pretty much what I’m doing, taking it to the limit one more time…until the next time.

One of those little nuggets of inspiration that came out of nowhere.

We’re (I’m) still not 100% sure what the problem was with our little Minnie Mouse, but she seems to have bounced back. She is her usual peppy self, waiting by the door for her favorite activity…running through the woods. We are holding off on that for now, and just taking her on long walks until we are certain she is firing on all cylinders.

Anyone that is as crazy about their dogs as we are, knows how upsetting it is when they’re sick or injured and what a relief it is when they’re ok again.

I just checked the calendar, and it is 6 weeks until the American River 50-mile Endurance Challenge (AR50). Six weeks may seem like a long time in some arenas, but in the context of preparing to run 50-miles it is more like the blink of an eye.

I have been training with many members of the Coastside Running Club as well as other small groups that get together for weekend runs. I have tapped into a pool of running resources here on the coast that has no limits. Our weekend runs have a race feel to them while still being really fun (and quite challenging).

Most of my miles in previous training cycles are spent alone on the back roads of Pescadero. While I don’t mind being alone and enjoy the solitude, logging hours out there solo can get to be a drag. Having said all that, I am heading out this morning for one of my favorite solo runs.

I run from my house in the woods of Butano Canyon to town (Pescadero), up the hill to our local cemetery and back. I have 3.5 hours scheduled, so I should cover about 18 miles. I run past the flower farms, the goat farm, a couple of churches and yes up the hill to the final resting place of some old friends and neighbors. I spend a couple of minutes up there wishing everyone well, look out at the beautiful valley and head for home.

Gilda had it right…

It’s been a few weeks since I entered into the blogosphere. While I’m sure no one noticed (except Beverly), I have to chuckle at myself and my selective approach to things. After thinking I have nothing to write about and murmuring to myself…writers block, a voice in my head whispered, “don’t confuse grandiosity with being lazy.” So there you have it. On a project earlier this week, the inevitable surprises presented themselves.

The words of the one and only late, great Gilda Radner came to mind…”it’s always something” she used to say on her very funny SNL skits. Somehow that little phrase takes the pressure off and drama out of whatever unexpected event (usually not a good event) may be happening. 

Less than 24-hours later, I was meeting with a customer who is a volunteer maintenance point person for a beautiful, but aging, building. As we toured the various things that needed mending, she looked me square in the eye and said…”it’s always something.” I let her know that only yesterday I was uttering those very words. We shared a chuckle and went about our tour, somehow both feeling a little lighter. 

After a very busy and positive week in business, life, and training, I settled in to a nice peaceful Friday evening at home. Beverly and I noticed one of our Frenchies, Minnie, was hobbling and not able to hop around as is her usual custom. I thought this was probably a result of roughhousing with our other Frenchie, Tillie, and that it will most surely pass. By the end of the night, not only was Minnie immobile, she was clearly in trouble. 

Beverly and I have had more than our share of doggies emergency’s over the years. For me, once the denial that something is wrong passes, and the panic of, “oh shit – not again,” comes and goes…it’s time to take action.

A call to the emergency vet hospital and off Beverly went (in the middle of the night, of course) with little Minnie wrapped up in her favorite blanket. I was not there with the vet, but Beverly explained later that Minnie has, in essence, a back injury that is very painful which explained her lethargic state 

I should say that as usual, Beverly handled the whole episode with her usual calm. Everyone made it home safely from the vet and we have a convalescing (but alive) little dog to care for.

My last thoughts as I drifted off into a semi-peaceful slumber were, you guessed it…”it’s always something.”

A tail of two Frenchies…

There are a handful of subjects that I will drop everything to talk about:

  • Roofing, of course (although, I could use a breather there)

  • Running (especially when we’re talking about me)

  • Beverly, my lovely wife

  • Last,  but not least,  my dogs

We have two dogs that keep us entertained, and are often the bright spot in our lives. Yes, they require a lot of attention for their various needs, but hey, for all the joy they provide I always feel like I’m getting off easy.

Dog #1 is Tidy Tilly. She is a purebred French bulldog and quite possibly the cutest creature on the planet (see I’m already gushing). She prefers the warmth and comforts of home.





Dog # 2 is Minnie Mouse. She is also a Frenchie, but we think she may have a little Boston Bulldog Terrier mix. Minnie is a rescue dog. Beverly caught wind that she was on her way to the SPCA after her second (or third) owners decided they didn’t want her anymore. Beverly took immediate action and intercepted Minnie Mouse before she made the almost certain fatal trip to the Pound. Minnie had some real issues, but after a year of love and care is settling into the life we think she deserves.

Now, here’s where it gets fun. I discovered after a few months that Minnie liked to run. I mean run. I decided to take her out for one of my weekend runs. She was in heaven. She could run 5-6 miles without so much as breaking the proverbial sweat. Our weekly runs are now a staple, and a highlight of our week.

Minnie seems to know what day it is, and knows the difference between work cloths and running clothes. On what she knows are running days she waits by the door stretching; watching my every move. When I say stretching, I mean she looks like an elite athlete at the starting line of a big race. She is getting ready to roll!

While I grab the leash and her little water bottle, Tidy Tilly, whom we also call “little Miss Princess Pants” can be found hiding under a blanket, Beverly’s robe, or burrowed in one her many cushy beds. She wants absolutely no part of this adventure. Watching her antics before Minnie and I head out has become as much fun as the run itself.

At this writing, it is raining hard yet again. Today’s run is in jeopardy. Yet, Minnie watches in anticipation, and Tillie waits for her cue to hide.


When it rains, it pours…

I used to hear that expression a lot as a kid. It took me a few years to figure out what it meant. The words were usually accompanied by some hand wringing and deep sighs. So my eventual definition was that when one thing (usually not good) happened, a lot of things followed.

Last week was a literal and figurative example of the beloved old expression. We recorded over 8″ of rain where we live; the roads flooded, trees were down, the power went out, and the topper was that I managed to acquire a nasty bronchial infection.

Normally, all these things happening in the space of a few days would be enough. But I also happen to be in the business of keeping water out of peoples homes and businesses.

Storms like last week are when the importance of what I do for a living is at it’s peak.

A funny thing happened to me last week as I was dealing with flood, power outage, poor health and a volume of calls that was 20-fold of a normally busy week. I realized how important it was that I show up, no matter what.

I have had this realization before, but this time it was even more profound. One customer, exasperated, with water coming in to her kitchen said, “oh, I just needed to hear your voice.”

I understood what she meant. There are times when our trade has a level of nobility to it. This was one of those times.

With Beverly’s usual brilliant assistance, (and my skilled crew) we were able to service our calls, fix quite a few leaks and in many cases, put plans in place to do more extensive work when the weather clears.

Before you deck the halls.. clear those drains!

The recent heavy rain and high winds have been creating havoc out there. Nowhere more so than on the rooftops of the Bay Area.

There are many reasons why a roof might leak:  age, workmanship, design, etc. One of the most common, and less thought of reasons however, is that the drains and/or gutters are clogged.

When water cannot flow the way it is supposed to, it will find somewhere to go!  Unfortunately, that somewhere is often right into the house. And without fail, it will happen at the worst possible time …when you are getting ready for your Thanksgiving feast, guests are gathered for a festive open house on Christmas Eve, or you are celebrating grandma’s birthday.

We have had the opportunity to get out there a lot this season and take care of clogged roof drains and roof surfaces covered in leaves and debris from nearby foliage. In some cases,  just in the nick of time.

A roof and gutter cleaning is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to maintain a roofing system. I recommend having a licensed roofing contractor do this, as they will also be able to let you know if your roof needs any other repairs.

There is also the matter of being sure whoever is on your roof is covered with the proper insurance.

With over 25 years in the roofing business, I have established a foundation of quality workmanship, continuous up-to-date product knowledge, along with an executive level of service and follow through with our clients. The majority of our work comes from referrals, which is a testament to our performance and commitment.



Next Stop…American River 50-Mile Endurance Run!

Much has transpired since my last posting (over one year ago). My wife, Beverly, and I are enjoying running our roofing business with the help of the best crew one could ask for. There have been the usual ups and downs, but we continue to learn and grow.

I have said goodbye to some dear friends this past year, which may be why I decided to raise the bar on myself.

After last year’s HMB Marathon, I completed a 50K event and several more shorter races. I took three hours off my previous 50K time. When I called Beverly to let her know I finished in one piece, she asked, “are you sure you ran the whole course?”

This year I completed the HMB Marathon in 4:41. I came in 36 minutes faster than last year’s time. I trained much differently and the results were pretty dramatic. I was very happy and somewhat surprised at the faster time. I also managed to get through the training cycle injury free.

During the training cycle, I joined up with the Coastside Running Club. Several of the members are the unsung hero’s of the Marathon and are responsible for putting the event on. Many of the members are ultra runners, meaning they compete/complete distances longer than a standard marathon (26.2 miles). As I listened to their adventures of 50 and 100-mile races, a very faint drumbeat started in my head. I swore I would never do another 50-mile race! Yet, as we trained, the beat became deafening.

Yes, I HAD to do another 50-miler.

I knew the first order of business was to enroll my dear wife in the idea. I am clear that there is no way I can tackle something like this without Beverly’s support. With some trepidation, she agreed to support the project. She made me promise I would not do a 100-miler, I agreed to that.

The American River 50 is a great event. It is one of the largest 50-mile races in the country and usually attracts a who’s who of ultra athletes. I completed the race two years ago in 12 hours and 45 minutes.

So, here I am. One year older. Apparently, somewhat faster. And, on a mission. I am excited about preparing for this event as well as chronicling the undoubtedly bumpy road ahead.





Preparing for the Half Moon Bay International Marathon – Epilogue: The Fat Lady Hath Sung…

I woke up about an hour and a half before the alarm was set to go off.  It was 3:30 A.M.  I still had soreness in my right calf and knew I had exhausted every available resource.  Either this thing was going to happen or it wasn’t.  I just said some words to the Big Man upstairs to the effect, “if you want me to do this I will, and if you don’t, I won’t.”

I completed the 1st Annual Half Moon Bay Marathon in 5:16:54.  I beat my best marathon time by 7 minutes.

The event was first class all the way and hardy congratulations are to be made to all the volunteers that made it happen.

Thank you.  See you next year.

Preparing for the Half Moon Bay International Marathon – ALL IN…

My participation in the HMB Marathon has played out in a dozen different scenarios this week.  The calf injury that will not go away created a fair amount of angst, relief and more angst and then relief, followed by I’m not sure what to expect. Monday night I was on the mend, Tuesday’s light workout had the injury flare up and it was the end of my race.  My self will, along with support from my training buddies Hank and Bryan kept me in action.  I sought out more care from the local health practitioners and on it went.  I have gone from Plan A- run the race in my best time ever, to Plan B-Run half the half marathon so at least I finish something, to plan C- I’m out of the race and will put on a volunteer shirt, to Plan D- push all my chips to the center of the table and go for broke.  So tomorrow morning at 7:00 A.M. I will toe the line and head out in to the great unknown.  One thing is for sure.  When this event is complete, no matter how it turns out, I will have no regrets.  I really cannot ask for more than that.

The harsh realities of life are somehow magnified with the heightened sense of awareness that comes with facing a real challenge. This week I lost a dear friend suddenly in a tragic auto accident.  I also had a close friend that seemed to be on his way out, return home from the hospital and is receiving the support he needs to aid in his recovery.  These things hit deeper when I am on the playing field of life, and I have a profound gratitude for today and all I have as a result.

Saving the best for last.

Thank you; Mary, Chrysann, Stephanie, Margaret, Bryan, Hank, Dan, Johnson, Ron, Jackie, Jeanne, my crew at HPRS.  You all impact my life on a regular basis and especially through this very strange odyssey.  A very special thank you to the men and women of the Coastside Running club.  They had a vision for this event and have put in the hard work to turn that vision into reality.

The person I most want to thank publicly is my beautiful, one-of-a-kind wife, Beverly.  Beverly is the one behind the scenes that makes sure that everything that needs to happen, happens. Beverly is the one that puts the thought and care in to everything she touches, things turn out extra special because of her.  Anything I accomplish in my life is because of Beverly and all she gives.  I count myself as the luckiest guy in the world to have her in my life.

So thank you everybody.  Wish me luck.

Norm Armstrong

Preparing for the Half Moon Bay International Marathon – 26.2 not so fast my friend…

It has been one week since my last real training run and my right calf decided it had had enough. I did have a couple of very short runs this week, hoping this latest setback would just go away. Suddenly my participation the the first annual Half Moon Bay International Marathon is in jeopardy.

It’s amazing to notice the emotions that come boiling to the surface at a time like this. There is the old standard of denial.  Like “oh, this is not really happening.”  To the opposite end of the spectrum and that would be “this is really happening and you’re screwed!” I get to be reminded how competitive I am.  I am really, really competitive. Not sure who I am competing against, as I have no designs to be anywhere but in the tail end of the runners in the race.  But at the same time, there is a part of me that absolutely must be out there on the stage, in the arena.  It is who I am.  And the thought that I might be denied that opportunity is a tough one to face.

I went to see a Master health practitioner yesterday and he did some very intense work on the area in question. While he was at it he addressed a couple of other areas (arm and shoulder) that have been causing a fair amount of discomfort. The arm and shoulder are fixed, I am happy to report. But the poor little calf is still sore. He did say it might be sore for a couple of days and that I should just cool it and rest.

I knew this venture would be fraught with the unpredictable when I signed up several months ago. So, this weekend, I will cool it, rest, enjoy the full spectrum of emotions, do my best not to drive my dear wife crazy and hope for the best.  There is nothing I can do now but trust that I will heal.

Preparing for the Half Moon Bay International Marathon – as if on cue…

Let’s see there was the time about a year ago about two weeks out from a Marathon I rolled my ankle taking a leisurely run around Lake Merced. If you don’t know the trail around Lake Merced, it is the flattest most benign blacktop running surface there is.  Yet, I found a way to turn my ankle and had to hobble back to my car. Then there was last December, two or three weeks out from running the Death Valley Marathon that I went to get my flu shot.  My wife, Beverly thought it would be a good time for me to get immunized for some other potential malady at the same time, so I got two shots. With in 24-hours I was bed ridden with what seemed like the flu on steroids.  I managed to bounce back from both incidents and have a good time at the respective races.  I told myself that this was God’s way of getting me to rest up during the all important two week tapering off phase of Marathon training.

So there I was yesterday, enjoying an easy run on the beautiful country roads near my home when out of nowhere my right calf tightened up and the burn of what felt like a hot cattle prod ensued.  Honestly, after the initial horror of realizing I was a good three miles from home with only my two legs to get me back passed, I thought, of course, this would happen.  I managed to walk, jog, run back and get my beloved ice pack on the injury as quickly as humanly possible.  So here I am literally two weeks from the HMB Marathon with an ice pack and Ace bandage on what feels like a moderate calf injury.  There is a valuable lesson to be learned somewhere here, but I am not quite sure what that lesson is yet. For now, I am going with the just relax and take it easy and everything will be fine approach.

I am genuinely excited about the event and all that it represents.  There are hundreds of people who have put their heart and soul into ensuring this 1st Annual HMB International Marathon reflects all that is good about the Coastside.  I am grateful to be one in that crowd.