Catching up with Diamond Head

It’s been a while since The Guv’nor caught up with Diamond Head — almost two years, in fact, since he waved goodbye to the band after their show at Sharkey’s in Liverpool, NY.

Since then, the rollercoaster ride that is DH has continued unabated. Problems with management companies, record labels, and tour promoters have gone hand-in-hand with a difficult yet ultimately triumphant tour of Europe and a groundbreaking new album, The Coffin Train.

To find out everything that has happened to the band since September 2017,  The Guv’nor caught up with guitarist Andy “Abbz” Abberley, bassist Dean Ashton, and vocalist Rasmus Bom Anderson.

Here’s what they had to say.

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Review: Bruce Cockburn (Asbury Hall, Buffalo NY. May 8, 2019)

If the concerts I am attending this year have a collective theme, it would have to be Catching Up.

With Bruce Cockburn, it’s been almost a decade since last I saw him (May 2011 at The Egg in Albany to be exact). That was the year the normally prolific Canadian singer-songwriter released Small Source of Comfort; since then, the rest of the world and I have had to wait for the follow up, 2017’s Bone on Bone.

Now nearly two years’ old, the album has become a worthy addition to the Cockburn canon, as the night’s set opener, “States I’m In,” perfectly illustrated. If there was anyone in attendance who was unfamiliar with his work — which is hard to believe considering Cockburn’s career is now well into its sixth decade — it was the best possible introduction.

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#runstreak Day 441. Almost Déjà Vu: The 2019 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon

There are some advantages to running a race more than once. At least you know what you’re in for. You know every twist and turn of the course. You know how to train for it. You know your strategy by heart.

But repeat appearances also have their share of problems, and my second New York City Half Marathon was a combination of both. Continue reading

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Review: Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt (Kodak Center, Rochester NY. February 27, 2019)

2019 is shaping up to be quite a year for concerts. From old school metal to folk, and from contemporary prog to classic rock, The Guv’nor’s calendar is already pretty full.

First up was this little gem:

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#runstreak Day 420: That Was the Week That Was

I’ve had to endure some tough weeks on the #runstreak. But they haven’t been much tougher than this one.

Monday I faced snow, the traditional Northeast runners’ winter adversary. Sure, it was only four inches, and I was armed with my cleats and my usual winter wardrobe. But as always, it limited my route and slowed my pace. I managed a measly 3.3 miles at a sluggish 9:45 min/mile.

“Oh well,” I said to myself. “There’s always tomorrow.”

Tuesday, the foe was within me. Tessa and I were hosting her daughter and two adorable granddaughters, one of whom had brought with her a nasty little downstate norovirus, which had attacked everyone in the house one by one.

I was the last to be picked off. Diarrhea. Light fever. A brief episode of vomiting. Not the worse thing I’ve ever endured, but enough to wipe me out for a day and leave me with just enough energy for the bare minimum #runstreak mileage of 1.1 miles, again at a glacial 9:49 min/mile.

“There’s always tomorrow,” I said again.

Wednesday, I felt much better and challenged myself to seven miles with hills. The norovirus had other ideas. On the fourth and last hill, my body went on strike and all thought of finishing the run died right there. The net mileage for the run, 4.5, and the pace, 10 min/miles, weren’t horrible. But my mind was full of dread on the long last mile home. With the New York Half Marathon now just three-and-a-half weeks away, 25 days to finish training for it just didn’t seem enough.

“There’s always tomorrow,” I said once more.

On Thursday, for once, that mantra seemed to hold true. Five miles at an 8:45 pace restored a little faith. Better still, the left glute/hamstring problems seemed to now be a thing of the past — all the core work I am now doing on a regular basis seems to be paying off. Now, I thought, a longish eight/ten mile run would end the week on a positive note.

But tomorrow never came.

Friday bought the start of another energy-draining illness in the form of a virulent head cold that stretched into Saturday. I suspect the same granddaughter that had the norovirus had generously given it to me as well, but I’ll be a good grandpa and won’t say anything.

2.5 on Friday. 3.6 on Saturday. Both at an exhausting 9:11 pace.

A healthy tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough.

Sunday, it almost did, but not quite. Mother Nature had one last trick up her sleeve in the guise of 40 mph wind gusts that arrived with the ferocity of a runaway train four miles into a proposed seven miler. Every time I turned into the wind, it was like I was running in place. Maybe on another day when I was in full health, the energy might have been there to fight the conditions and finish what I had set out to accomplish. But after six, I just did not have the energy to struggle any more, though I could take some small comfort in the fact that I had at least managed to finish the hills that had defeated me on Wednesday.

Just 26 lousy miles for the week.

This time last year, I was up to 45, with an 11-miler at 8:45 under my belt.

I was well on the way to what turned out to be my third fastest half marathon ever.

There’s still still enough time. There’s still some very realistic hope that I can do as well this year.  But I can’t afford any more weeks like this one.

Tomorrow better come. And soon.

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#runstreak recap: Boilermaker or Bust (Days 148-189)

This part of the #runstreak story began at the moment I crossed the 10K timing mat at the Boilermaker.

It’s usually a great moment. Two-thirds of the race is over, the really hard parts of the course are done, and all that’s left is to negotiate the gradual incline to Utica College. Then it’s literally all downhill for the next two miles and the finish line.

To mark the runners’ progress, the Utica Fire Department stations a ladder truck there every year. They drape a giant American flag from the top of the ladder, then cheer on the runners as they cross the split mat.

So, it’s a good place to high-five some of Utica’s finest and take a quick breather before soaking in the cheers from the crowds that are waiting at the corner of Burrstone Road and Champlin Avenue and beginning the final push.

At least, that’s how it had been for me every year since 2010. But this year turned out to be very different. And not in a good way. Continue reading

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#runstreak Day 366

I celebrated the New Year this morning with a quick two-mile run around the neighborhood. I was slow, bloated by bad food and one-too-many glasses of champagne, but I got out there on a dank, windy day and kept the streak alive into its second year under a depressingly gray Rochester sky.

But the real milestone occurred just 24 hours earlier. On a similar route around Sea Breeze, not only did I hit the one year #runstreak mark, but I hit the altogether separate and unexpected goal of 3,000 km (1,864 miles) for the year.

To put that into perspective, my total mileage for 2015 — my annus mirabilis when I recorded my fastest and second fastest full and half marathons and PRed the Boilermaker — I ran 2618.4 km (1,627 miles), 237 miles less than I ran in 2018.

I may have worked harder in 2018 and not achieved as much, but for all my troubles, I had  still run two sub-four marathons, my fourth and sixth fastest respectively, my third fastest half marathon, and my third fastest Boilermaker.

For that, and for the #runstreak, I gave thanks on my run today, but truthfully I didn’t feel like celebrating.

Because from the beginning of July, just  a week before the Boilermaker, through to about the beginning of October, everything was a struggle. I was recovering from an injury, which I’ll describe in more detail in other upcoming posts, and that along with some general life struggles that I’ll keep to myself led to some pretty tough days.

That’s why the Flat-Footed Fox has been silent for almost five months. Quite honestly, I haven’t felt inspired enough to write — not depressed exactly, but still in that general spiritual malaise I described less than a year ago. Only now, the injury was adding insult to my existential funk.

But the discipline, the laser-beam focus and deep commitment of the #runstreak, had kept me going through the rough patches. My commitment to it meant I was out there (and I mean “out there” — not one kilometer of the streak was run indoors or on a treadmill) in every meteorological condition possible, from miserable Western New York snow and wind chills to the sticky heat and humidity of Florida and Maryland and back again.

Because of that, it has begun to develop in me a mental and physical toughness and resilience that extends beyond the streets and trails and into the inner reaches of my being. The streak also serves as a huge reminder that big changes are not accomplished overnight but through a consistent accumulation of small, repetitive steps.

And that, more than sub-four marathon finishes and thousands of kilometers run, means more to me going into the New Year than any resolution I could dream up.



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