Monday, December 29, 2008

Drake Well Marathon - 2009!

Mark your calendars, people. Many people have inquired and now I can tell you:

08.09.09 is the day for the return of the Drake Well Marathon!




While the course will not be 105.5 laps around the Titusville Rockets track as it was when I had to create a marathon to keep my 52 marathon streak alive in 2006, it will showcase my hometown of Titusville, PA as well as the nearby forests and trails.

I recently accepted the offer to be the Race Director for the 2009 edition of this race and am already hard at work to make it a success. Along with the marathon there will also be a half-marathon and a One Mile Fun Run open to all runners.

Stay tuned as details develop for a marathon through the Valley That Changed the World!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Competitor Radio

Ever heard of the Rock N Roll Marathon Series? Yeah, I thought you may have. Well, you may not know that this series of marathons, which routinely churns out great race after great race, all with an average of like a bazillion runners, is owned by the Competitor Group. Amby Burfoot, editor at large of Runner’s World magazine, called the group “the best in the game” with regards to putting on high-quality marathons.

Earlier this year, the Competitor Group acquired Competitor Publishing which offers information on training, health, fitness, nutrition, running, cycling, and triathlon. Competitor Publishing was co-founded by Bob Babbitt who in 1980 who completed his first Ironman on $75 police auction bike that had been charred in a fire. Together with Paul Huddle, a top 10 finisher at Ironman Kona, they host the Competitors Radio Show.

Why do I tell you this? Well, tonight I have the honor of being a guest on their show. It will be broadcast live on 1090 AM if you are in the Southern California area. Otherwise, I will assuredly let you know when they post in on their website for mass consumption (or check for yourself HERE!)

In the meantime, Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mississippi Blues Marathon

Well, it won't take me long to kick off 2009's marathon schedule! On January 3rd I will be taking part in the 2nd Annual Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson Mississippi.


With a mission of being committed to a healthier Mississippi, it is hard not to get behind the Miss Blues Marathon. In 2008, Mississippi ranked as the most obese state in the union for the 3rd consecutive year. Hopefully, with the help of the title sponsor of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, this marathon can begin the push towards making obesity a thing of the past.

The course promises to be challenging and I think that is just fine. Nothing wrong with a little difficulty added to a race. You burn more calories that way! And with race weather predicted to be in the 50s, you know I will be a happy camper!

In addition, I will be at the expo selling copies of my book, See Dane Run. So if you are in the area and wish to have an autographed copy, come on down!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Humanitarian of the Year

It is with great honor and pure pleasure that I tell you I was recently given the

50 States & D.C. Marathon Group U.S.A.
HUMANITARIAN AWARD for 2009.



Below is the text written by Frank Jobe of the 50 State and DC Marathon group. I want to thank this group for their kind generosity and can only hope I do inspire others to reach for their own goals.

Setting a goal of running fifty-two marathons in fifty-two weeks is a daring thing to do. This is even more daring when you first start planning to do so you have only run six marathons in your entire life. Announcing your goal to the public where any slipup renders the entire project moot intensifies the pressure even more. And if that is not enough, perhaps you should also take time to start a new marathon and be the race director, add a charitable fundraising side to your running, endeavor to speak on the radio, television and newspapers to raise funds and awareness for that charity, continue working a full-time job and maybe also even squeeze in a personal record or two along the way.


This year’s winner of the HUMANITARIAN AWARD is Dane Rauschenberg and all the things listed above developed from a single idea.


Dane is a Penn State and Dickinson Law School graduate and had been working in the corporate world before setting out on this amazing journey. The idea began with how he wished to run a certified marathon each weekend for an entire year. Dane began researching and developing his schedule. One marathon that fit his schedule was the First Light Marathon in Mobile Alabama and while inquiring about the details of this marathon Dane learned that the marathon benefitted L’Arche. This simple inquiry as to what L’Arche did set things in motion for the charity that would benefit from Dane’s efforts in 2006 and into the future.


L’Arche is an international federation of communities where people with a mental handicap and those who help and care for them can live, work and share their lives together. The first community was established in France in 1964 and has developed into many religious and cultural traditions around the world. The United States has sixteen communities and two projects. These communities rely on donations for a portion of their income, the moneys raised by Dane helped the community in Mobile Alabama with their financial needs and Dane believes that the awareness brought to the L’Arche communities around the world will be a benefit for them far into the future.


Dane dubbed his project “Fiddy2” a play on words for the fifty two marathons in fifty two weeks and the financial goal of fifty two thousand dollars. While the financial goal has not been reached as of yet, (Dane is currently at $44,000) Dane is hopeful it will be reached soon. The website www.fiddy2.org remains active and is always accepting donations.


To promote the fund raising effort Dane submitted blog postings, sent out weekly press releases and received radio, television and print coverage. He was featured at various pre-race pasta dinners and spoke all over the country tirelessly about L’Arche and its message.


The weekend of December 22nd did not offer any certified marathons anywhere in the world so Dane took it upon himself to organize and be the race director of the inaugural Drake Well Marathon in his home town of Titusville Pennsylvania. The race was capped at 25 runners and consisted of 105.5 laps around the high school track. Runners from nine states took part in this event.


Dane had some impressive records to his credit before his fifty- two marathon challenge in 2006. In 2003, he broke the course record at the Presque Isle Endurance Classic by completing eighty-four miles in twelve hours for an amazing 8:30 minute mile pace. In 2005 he won the PT Cruiser Challenge in Tampa Florida, which was event consisting of a 5k, 15k and a marathon in a twenty-four hour period where the winner had the lowest cumulative time.


Running in 2006 took Dane to twenty eight states, two Canadian Provinces and the Cayman Islands. Dane’s goal was to not simply show up at raced but rather run at or near his peak week-in and week-out. In his forty second marathon of the year, he set a new personal record by running under the coveted three hour barrier with a finish time of 2:59:48 in Niagara Falls Canada. On top of that, Dane showed you can get faster by racing often by averaging a 3:13 for the second half of the year after averaging a 3:29 for the first half of the year.


For the giving of his time and talents to benefit those that are less fortunate. The 50 State and D.C. Marathon Group U.S.A. is proud to present to Dane Rauschenberg the 2009 Humanitarian Award.


May his belief of benefiting L’Arche far into the future continue to be a reality.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Autographed Books - Dallas White Rock Marathon

I had a wonderful time speaking and signing books this weekend at the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Signing from the SPIbelt booth, I completely sold out of the advanced copies of the books I was given by my publisher (and had just received mere seconds before the expo opened.) I actually had to start a sign-up sheet for those who came by on the second day and there were no books to sell!

Fortunately, I have another large shipment of books being sent to me very soon. These books will be available for all of those who were wishing to get theirs signed but cannot wait until I make it to their area!

This can be done by clicking on the "BUY NOW" button to the right here on my blog, or by simply going to Paypal sending the money to danerunsalot@yahoo.com. The total cost of the signed book (shipping and handling, signature and inscription included!) is just $23.00. As soon as I receive the books I will send them to you immediately from where ever I am in the country! (Yep, I plan on carrying padded envelopes and books with me everywhere I go!)


In addition to signing books, I got to see friends Bart Yasso, Dick Beardsley, and Bill Rodgers once again. Bart I had seen back at the 24 Hour race in Philly where I paced my friend Larry Herman in July. Bill and I were running together back at the Brooksie Way Half Marathon in October. But I had not seen Dick in two years. When I finished listening to his speech, I was the first one to greet him coming off of the podium. First of all, I had the unenviable task of actually trying to entertain the crowd right AFTER Dick. But second, I wanted to thank him for writing the foreword to my new book, See Dane Run.

My first thoughts were, with two years gone by, it might take him a second to recognize me but my ego soared when his face lit up and he exclaimed: "Dane! So good to see you!" Dick was using a pair of crutches as he was recovering from some knee surgery. You could tell he was far from happy but it never came out in his words. My best wishes go to Dick for a speedy recovery. He was signing copies of his wonderful book, Staying the Course. If I did not have a signed copy already I would have got one for sure.


Bart and I only had a brief time to talk as we both arrived at the exact same time on Friday. I helped him and his beautiful wife Laura carry some of his own book into the expo. Bart's is a great book that you should definitely check out. It is called, My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon.

If following Dick wasn't bad enough on Day 2 of my speaking, I had to follow Bill on day one. Always fun to listen to, Bill entertained the crowd and was telling them about his own book as well, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jogging and Running.

Bill asked me how my own book sales were going and was happy to hear that we would be seeing each other again real soon. Where that will be, dear readers, I have not yet revealed! But stay tuned!

All in all it was a wonderful weekend. The people at SPIbelt were wonderful to work with and I was super happy to be able to help them spread the news about their fantastic product. They have many new designs and ideas coming out and I only see nothing but good things for them.

A special thanks to the White Rock Marathon people for having me in to talk amongst such runing legends. This thought does not go unappreciated. I hope that we are able to work togeher for many years to come.

To all those I met this past weekend, I really do hope you stay in touch. I hope the book inspires you to do even greater things and that you too reach your own dreams!

Run forever!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dallas White Rock Marathon Speech / Book Signing

This Friday and Saturday I have the privilege to be speaking at the Dallas White Rock Marathon at 2:30 PM. A race I ran back in 2006, I will unfortunately have to miss the running festivities this year but am very pleased to announce that I will be signing copies of my book, See Dane Run, at the SPIbelt booth both before and after the speech.


You may recall I waxed poetic (not really) about what a great product the SPIbelt was and I proved in in Tucson by wearing it for the entire 26.2 miles. The SPIbelt is so unobtrusive, not only did I have to check to see if it was still on during my race, in order to see it in the picture below, you will have to click on it and look for the little blue pouch right below my bib number.


Come listen to my speech, buy a copy of my book and walk home with a brand new SPIbelt! It is the trifecta of awesome!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tucson Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 22nd Edition
516.1 miles raced in 2008
Race: Tucson Marathon
Place: Tucson, AZ
Miles from home: 772 miles
Weather: 50s; cloudy

* As Always, check back for pictures to come.

I made it no secret that I was going for a large personal best at the Tucson Marathon. (I wanted a 2:45.)
I am also aware that many felt there was no way on God's green Earth I was going to do that on this particular day.

Well let's end the suspense right here: I did not get that 2:45. In fact, my actual goal of 2:49 also was not obtained by me at the race. The only thing left to salvage this weekend (race-wise) was whether I would set a personal best at all. Come join me.

Setting the Stage:

I was well aware that I might have been biting off more than I could chew with an attempt to run a personal best at Tucson. Forgetting a rather stressful personal year and the 14 other marathons I had ran this year, was the double combo of pacing the 3:10 group in Seattle just one week earlier, and a ridiculously early wake-up call just to make my plane on Saturday. However, I knew that Tucson's course had some features that suited me and I felt I might as well give it a try.

Before it was time to race, I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at the pre-race pasta dinner. Even though I had to be up at 5 am to get to Tucson, flight layovers and traveling only put me at the expo/pasta dinner place a little after 3 PM. With a scheduled speech time of 5:30, I set up shop at the expo, signed a few autographs on the flyers publicizing my book, See Dane Run, and made contact with a few new friends. I also was fortunate to sit next to the El Paso Marathon booth and there is a possibility I will be running and speaking there next March. So if you are out in the west Texas town of El Paso (thank you Marty Robbins) let them know you want me there!


The pasta dinner speech was one of my favorites yet. The dinner recipients were warm and friendly. Many questions were asked and lots of laughs shared. I had the privilege to meet even more old friends and make new ones as well.




It was pretty amazing that there was even a young woman there who was only racing in her second race EVER and it was a marathon. (Yes, Tammy, I am talking about you and your 4:04 finish! You beat my first marathon time by 8 minutes!)





Many other stories, far too many to recount here, kept me smiling as well. I left the Hilton with plenty of good feelings in my heart.

Race Day:

Like the day before, but even worse, I began my day by being awake FAR before the sun made its first arrival. By grabbing a cheap hotel in South Tucson, I made it almost a guarantee that I would have very little sleep. You see, the race began north of Tucson, was a point-to-point race which required a bus to the start and a loading time of 5:00 AM for the 7:30 AM start. So yep, I was up at 3:34 AM. *shudder*.

I mentioned features that made the course suited to my talents and the main thing that suited me was Tucson's downhill running. Below is the profile.

At first blush, like any profile that looks like you could put wheels on your shoes and coast right down, I knew there is always more to the story. Consulting with friends who had run the race, reports on the net and sundry places to find running info, I was aware of plenty of risers throughout. You see, yes, there is over 2200 feet of down in this race but there is also close to 600 feet of up and some of it in the worst places. Let us begin.

First 6 miles:

I knew this race would be divided into three separate section. The portion of mostly downhill from the beginning to the 10 mile mark would be the first. With a desire to get a 2:45:59, I would have to run an average of 6:20 minute miles. This is a nice even number for figuring purposes because every three miles equals 19 minutes. So when I hit the first 6 in exactly 38 minutes I knew I was dead on. I simply had to do the exact same thing for the next 4 miles until I hit section 2.

As I accidentally deleted my splits, I am going by my memory for the mile times, but I am usually pretty accurate in my recall. It is also easy to do so when at 9 miles I was at exactly 56 minutes! One mile later, I was sitting pretty at a 1:03:30.

The Biosphere 2 Section:

I had been warned about this rolling hill section and I was so glad I had been. An out and back of roughly 2 miles in each direction, with the turnaround near the Biosphere 2 research site is what awaited us.



On the 2 miles out, I lost nearly a total minute off of my pacing, half from the hills, half from me intentionally slowing to save myself. But after only losing another 10 seconds heading back to the main highway, I was feeling pretty good.

Third section: The Highway to the Finish:

Miles 14-24 average about 700 feet of downhill per miles. This sounds like a nice gentle downhill which a donwhiller like myself can really take advantage of and for the most part that is true. However, there was just enough incline here and there to throw off such a runner. That said, I was still routinely running the pace that I needed to mile after mile.

The weather could not have cooperated more with a mostly cloudy sky and a temp that kept the sweat from accumulating too much (the desert dryness helped too!) I simply wanted to get to mile 20 feeling as good as I did and knew I could run 6:40s and go sub 2:50. However, right at mile 20, the race changed. A barely perceptible uphill began here and time began to slip away. I knew that there was a hill a mile 24 and what I most assuredly did not need was to LOSE time before that hill.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. At mile 23, I ran my first 7 minute mile of the day and a sub 2:50 was more or less gone. The lead woman passed me right here and this was the first time I had been passed since nearly the beginning of the race. I wanted to see if I could stay with her and use her energy. But she steadily pulled away. In between half-marathoner nearing the finish, I could see her weave and bob up ahead (she would eventually run a 2:50:12 so even if I had stayed with her I would not have broken into the 2:40s.)

The last thing I had to grasp for was a new personal best. But to be 100% honest, I did not care at this point to do so. I knew that if I did, it would be by mere seconds and it just did not matter to me. Plus, every single time I tried to push just a little bit, I felt like I might be bringing some of the contents of my stomach. So, I just kept running. A runner passed me with about half a mile to go and I had no answer for him.

I could see the finish line ahead and the clock ticking away. All of a sudden the competitive juices began to flow. I picked up the pace the best I could, pushing forward all the way through to the finish line arch of balloons. I passed under the arch, immediately doubled over, feeling like I was going to vomit.




This feeling passed just a few seconds later and as the announcer told the crowd about my 52 Marathons I waved and was quite happy I hadn't spilled my guts. Then I remembered my time! I quickly clicked my watch but did not know how long ago I crossed the line. When my results were not posted immediately with others I went to the race results people. Apparently, my chip had not registered anywhere on the course.

Oh. My. God.

But before I could have a heart attack, they told me they would check the back-up mats. Sure enough, my time DID register. 2:51:40. That makes it a one second personal best. Wow. Now that is close.

After grabbing a quick shower, I returned to the finish line. The sting over missing my goals was quickly lost as person after person I had just met or who I knew for sometime, crossed the finish line. Smiles, hugs, and handshakes were abound.

Not a bad day in Arizona.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One Last Tease for SEE DANE RUN

I have shown all of you the front cover of my new book See Dane Run previously but I now have the entire cover to reveal. You will see quotes from legendary runners such as Dick Beardsley, Jerry Dunn, Joe Henderson and Dave McGillivray on the back cover.

I could not be more proud of this and hope that it makes its way into everyone's stocking this holiday season! Click on the image below to see it super-sized!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Seattle Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 21th Edition
489.9 miles raced in 2008
Race: Seattle Marathon
Place: Seattle, WA
Miles from home: 845 miles
Weather: 50s; fog

It has only been three weeks since I both ran a marathon and wrote a recap but it felt as if it had been ages. I had been in California for the marathon, went back to SLC, traveled to California again, stopped briefly in SLC again before skirting over to Ohio; drove to Pennsylvania for a week, drove back to Ohio and then finally flew to Seattle. Remembering I was not in my own bed was not the problem, trying to figure out what time zone I was in is what gave me pause.

I have been eagerly anticipating the entire Seattle Marathon weekend for months upon months. When I began my new career as a full-time speaker, the Seattle Marathon people were some of the first to welcome me with open arms. A full slate of events were planned for the weekend, including a book-signing, a 5k run, a full-day at the expo, my speech at the pasta dinner and then a little 26.2 miler to wrap it all up.





Well, my new book, See Dane Run finished printing too late to promptly get its wet ink in book form to Seattle for signing so my enthusiastic friends/family/fans had to settle for me signing posters at the expo and books promised to be signed later. I got to meet many people with whom I had been speaking for quite some time now, including Bradley, who has lost over 60 lbs in his transformation from chunky man to 3:30 marathon finisher!



I was curious how I would handle the Seattle Marathon. I had been planning to set a new personal best at the Tucson Marathon the week after Seattle for some weeks, so I obviously did not want to wear myself at Seattle. Then after spending a week running in 20 degree temperatures and inches upon inches of snow while visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, I saw the forecast for the Seattle Marathon looked perfect: highs in the 50s, partly cloudy, ho humidity. Should I instead try and run a personal best here even though I had just put in 70 miles in the previous 7 days? Or should I stick to the original plan, run a relaxed sub-3:10, and see if the downhill course of Tucson would finally give me that elusive sub 2:50? I knew it would be a race morning decision or rather one I would make after the first 10k of the race, which is how long it usually takes me to know how I feel in a marathon.

Prior to the race, I had been asked to participate in the Kids Marathon. An endeavor that the Seattle Marathon created to foster both physical fitness and general well-being, children had to either complete 25 miles of exercise in the year leading up to the marathon or in the alternative, read 13 books and do 13 “good deeds”. When they got to the day of the Kids Marathon they were to run the last 1.2 miles of their race and finish on the same football field that all racers would trod the next day. Personally I started with the very first kids and would continually run back and forth amongst not only the children but their parents offering words of encouragement and praise. Two great stories came out of this day.

First, as I ventured towards the back of the pack to bring the last few runners in, I saw one child, perhaps 5 years old, wearing one shoe and one sandal. I inquired to his mother if he had lost a shoe to which she said: “Actually, he broke his toe yesterday but was not going to miss his chance to finish what he started.” A broken toe?! I know plenty of people who that would out on the couch for weeks but here was little Nate, soldiering on, and nary a grimace or wince on his face.

After leaving Nate and his mother I saw one little girl bringing up the absolute rear. In rain boots and a slicker, little Lana had apparently just signed up minutes before the race after convincing her mom and grandmother to let her run. Trudging along, with one hand holding what looked like a granola bar of some sort, Lana immediately became one of my favorite things ever. As we neared the finish line, Lana’s mother called her grandmother who was running next to Lana on the cell phone. Lana’s grandmother asked if I wanted to hold Lana’s hand to the finish line. Tell her I would be honored, I offered a pinkie for Lana to grasp onto which she did with a viselike grip.

Hitting the final 50 yards to massive amounts of cheers, Lana undoubtedly captured lots of hearts as we crossed the finish line. Seeing her mother waiting for her, a smile broke across her face and she began to sprint towards her, pulling me in tow as she refused to let go of my finger! My goofy smile must have been unsurpassed by few others' that morning. Lana’s mother had her pose with me for a picture and I can only hope that it finds its way to my email inbox.


After that excitement, I was unsure what I could do for an encore. However, an afternoon of sitting in the expo and greeting people awaited me and there are few things I like more than interacting with runners. I received both countless, and semi-embarrassing, expressions of how so many were inspired by my 52 Marathon spree in 2006. To hear you have any such positive effect on people is something which is hard to duplicate in ordinary life. Forget the health benefits. Forget the euphoria of finishing in a good time. Forget all of that. From now on, when people ask me in particular why I run, this is answer I will give them. If they cannot understand that, then I guess we will have to talk about politics or the environment as I don’t think I have a firm enough grasp of the English language to impart upon them my feelings.

As I left the expo to prepare for my pasta dinner speech, I was already having a wonderful weekend. There are some races that flat-out have a good vibe about them. To me, this race one of them and the running had not even begun. As it turns out, the speech I gave the night before the marathon was one of my bests, or at least it felt like it to me. Just days removed from the Thanksgiving holiday, I was struck with a great sense of life coming full circle. Thanksgiving had always been the closest of holidays for my family. With the passing of my grandparents who were the architects of this holiday, a small family that now spans the vast majority of this continent finds it harder to get together than once before. So while my speech varies every time I give it, this was one time I did more than just mention why my marathoning life has been so tied to my family; especially those who only watch from above now. It was a poignant and meaningful night for me.

Race Day:

A running friend had run Seattle the previous year and set a new personal best, just breaking 3 hours. He told me that the course does not look like it would be a great course to run fast, especially with some challenging hills in the final 5 miles but it gives much more than expected. Luckily for me, I was asked to pace the 3:10 group prior to the race and therefore any internal dilemma to try and set a personal best was alleviated.

I was introduced to the crowd prior to the race and immediately had a group of 1 or so guys who told me they were so glad that a 3:10 pacer had appeared. As always, I told them that if they stuck with me I would promise to get them to the Promised Land.

It would be hard to ask for better running weather. With a temperature in the low 50s, and a sun completely obscured by thick, almost mystical, fog I told those running with me we were in for a good day. When the guy fired and we set off, I had good feelings about the day.

Miles 1-4:

The first few miles of the race were pretty typical of any race that begins in a large city with skyscrapers whose tops were lost in the mist and that eerie feeling of running through busy streets and through red lights with no negative repercussions. As we contended with a few hills and shook out the early race jitters, our pace was not too shabby: 6:58, 7:08, 7:24, 7:13, and 6:53.

Miles 5-7: 7:12, 7:07, 7:24

After a few miles in the city, we went through a very long tunnel. One of favorite fellow pacees was a young guy named Barret (in the grey below). Only 19 years old he had already run four marathons and had just missed qualifying for Boston by a minute. I told him prior to the race that I qualified for Boston in my fifth and he would as well.



But in this tunnel he said to me: “It looks like 28 Days Later”. In case you have not seen the semi-post-apocalyptic movie about super-fast zombies overtaking England, there is a scene where they are chasing down our heroes in a tunnel. And damn it, Barret was 100% right. It did look like that tunnel. I laughed out loud and subconsciously picked up the pace to avoid our brain-eating pursuers.

Bursting out of the tunnel we immediately experienced the coolness of the outside world after the stuffy dryness of the tunnel. However, fog covered everything. There were more than few oohs and ahhs amongst the runners as the sun was just a little yellow plate in the sky, no match for the denseness of the water vapor in the air.




Completely happy that the fog was concealing not only the long bridge in front of us, but also the incline we faced before we turned around to run back over, my group picked up a few more runners.

Turning around at the 10k mark we were perfectly on pace to head back over the bridge. On the other side, we began a quick decent and were spit out onto a two-lane road adjacent to Lake Washington for what would be our home for many miles.


Miles 8-13.1: 7:01, 7:05, 7:32, 7:16, 7:17, 7:14

With the bridge we had just crossed off to the right, shrouded in fog, Lake Washington cool and still, trees lining the road overhead and cool temperatures prevailing, I told the runners to really take this in. Never too much of a poet or a tree-hugger, I nonetheless tried to impart upon them how lucky we all were. It was a glorious day for running and we were really lucky to have such a nice course.




Our feet soon led us to the Seward Park, which was where a thin road, no traffic and tall mossy trees made the race feel like a catered long run. And when I say catered, I am giving a total thumbs-up to the Seattle Marathon for how watered the course was. There was never a want for an aid station as it felt we had that at our disposal every single mile and sometimes more often. Even in the cool temps and sunless sky, the water hit the spot every time we poured it down our throats.

By now, a few different runners would take turns joining me at the front of our running phalanx and I would get to know a little about each of them. The run felt great, there was no labored breath amongst my paces and I envisioned a mass convoy crowding the finish line. I was aware we had a ways to go but I had faith.

We went through the halfway point about a minute faster than perfect pacing but I was not worried. I knew the latter hills could erase 60 seconds in no time at all so my goal was just to keep my hoard even-keeled from here on out.

Miles 14-19: 7:23, 7:28, 7:04, 7:14, 7:15, 7:14

As we exited Seward Park we began to see the mass amount of runners behind us and cheered them on as much as we could without wasting our own energy stores. We began to hit some of our most consistent splits here and everyone seemed to be in sync. I would turn around and run backwards every once in a while to yell encouragement and give little tidbits where I could. I knew we were close to the toughest challenge of the day.

Miles 20-23: 7:43, 7:15, 7:38,

With the biggest hills of the course by far looming ahead, I could feel my pack start to thin. I began to continue to yell out advice but now it was mostly directed towards Barret. We wisely took one of the steepest hills in a controlled manner, using a little of the seconds we had gained in previous faster miles. A twisty-turny section through a very wooded became a little tricky as we began to encounter more walkers and half-marathon runners who impeded our paths.



I would cry out “Boston Qualifier on your Left!” in as jovial a voice as I could, in order to lighten the mood.

Miles 24-Finish: 7:23, 7:18, 7:14, 1:30

It was now down to me and Barret, I was doing everything I could verbally to pull him along. His breathing was more labored now but his eyes were focused. We went up one last long steep hill and upon cresting it could see the Space Needle, and finish line in the distance.





Half-cajoling, half-begging I asked Barret to give me a long hard run down the hill to mile 25 in the distance. I knew it was going to be a close finish. I could tell a sub 3:10 was probably not going to happen but we had those precious 59 seconds in our pockets.

Down a quick steep hill and then back up again, Barret dropped about 10 yards behind me. I knew we were close and I also knew my duty was to break 3:11 no matter what. I was not 100% sure where we were on the course but knew we near the finish. I began to run what was required of me and had to leave Barret to his own designs.

I cruised up the last steep hill and yelled one last time for him to crush it out. One final turn put us into the stadium and 100 yards from the finish line. Crowds cheered as a stream of runners caught up to me and passed me in the final feet. Boston qualifiers abound had made the final push. I crossed the line myself in 3:10:30 and immediately turned around. Just a few yards behind me, hard-charging, was Barret! A few seconds later, he collapsed into a sweaty man hug with me and I yelled “You are going to Boston!!”




This was far and away one of my most exciting pacing duties yet. Barret had been just an awesome runner the entire race and I could not have been more proud of him. He has already emailed me to tell me he has signed up for Boston and hopes to see me there.

He just might. But first I have to go to Tucson and get that new personal best!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Prolytes

One thing I have learned about myself through 85 marathons, thousands of miles of running and pushing myself through extreme temperatures and climates, is that I sweat. Sure we all sweat to some extent but Webster may think about putting a picture of my pores next to the definition of "sweat". They work hard. They do their job. They just make it really damn hard for me to keep adequately refreshed in the races I love to run so much.

As my new book See Dane Run says, I almost gave up long-distance running a few years ago as I felt I was not built for it. I would get to the half-marathon portion of a marathon feeling great. then a few miles later the crash and burn would occur. As I soon found out, I was losing electrolytes FAR faster than most other people through the copious amounts of sweat I produced in rigorous exercise.

Soon thereafter I learned how to drink more properly through a race and if conditions were cool, I was fine. But without a doubt, as the thermometer goes up, my chances for success went down. As time has passed, I have found myself far better at adapting to these changes and doing the best I can to keep that crash abated. However, I really put myself to the test lately in the 12-Hour One Day Race in San Francisco.

You see, the temperature on this late October day in San Francisco reached a high of at least 82 degrees. There was not a cloud in the sky the entire days and there was not a leaf of shade on the course to keep the ELSO (Evil Life-Sucking Orb) know as the sun from breaking me down. Since my goals for the day were going to be far less than I was hoping for, I decided to experiment.

For months, I had been using a product called Prolytes to help replenish the electrolytes in my system before or after a run or workout.


But I had never done so during a race. On this day, I most assuredly thought it was worth the effort to try something new. The old adage of never trying anything new on race day goes out the window when you know that conditions are already changing your goals! So, I started taking Prolytes in my liquids I was drinking. Gatorade, water, you name it, I put the Prolytes in and took it down. The day wore on and I got tired. The sun beat down and I went through more liquid than I can remember. It was hot and I was sweating. But I never completely crashed.

The end result was 68.3 miles and a 3rd place overall finish. Without a doubt, this was the best I had ever managed a hot weather run, especially one of this length of both distance and time. I think that my doing so was in no small part due to my taking of the Prolytes through the run.

Nearly flavorless and packed with a powerful blend of potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride and sulfate, Prolytes can be mixed into any drink you desire.I would highly recommend that for those looking to effectively re-hydrate and replace your body’s lost electrolytes that you give Prolytes a try.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yoga For Athletes- Kimberly Fowler

Recently I had the pleasure to be invited to a Yoga for Athletes class taught by Kimberly Fowler. I say "pleasure" as I can openly admit my trepidation for the "y" word and how I did not think I would necessarily enjoy the session.

Before I get there, a little about Ms. Fowler.



First, she is a fellow graduate of both law school and the corporate world. Like runners who can share a knowing nod about certain things without so much as a word exchanged, law school grads share a kindred spirit. So right off the bat we had a certain connection.

Second, if "surviving" law school was not enough, Fowler literally survived something worse than Torts or Mergers and Acquisitions when she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in her second year of school. Determined to get well, she incorporated yoga into her treatment plan and recovery. Cancer-free twenty plus years later, Fowler credits her yoga practice with helping her reach deep within to find the strength she needed to save her life.

Third, Kimberly is both a marathoner and a triathlete. And to be honest, if the first two did not sell me on giving this whole yoga thing a shot, this part of her life surely did.

That said, Yoga for Athletes is a sixty-minute class which has the tagline of “No Chanting. No Granola. No Sanskrit.” Apparently, changes have been made in the yoga world in the past umpteen years which makes this not all that surprising to those in the know, but the fact remains that for many of us, including myself, yoga always seemed to be too frou-frou for me. Not more than a few minutes into the class I saw this was not your father's yoga class. As part of an overall studio called "YAS" (Yoga and Spinning), Kimberly proclaims "I am not your guru. You are."




Fowler's style is very straightforward, and the sequence she taught seemed both suitable for intermediate practitioners and those with a higher skill-level (it was my first yoga class ever and it appeared there were all skill levels there as well.) She had spectacular pacing and I never felt rushed or that I was holding a pose for too long. Fluid movements moved one pose to the next, always centering in a pose which gave me a moment to rest and wipe sweat off of my body. At one point, when Kimberly was helping to align my position she actually asked "Would you care for another towel?" Yes, Kimberly, I am a sweater. Be proud.


After the hour was done, I was sold. I am now the proud owner of the Yoga for Athletes DVD which more or less mirrors the class I took. I laughed when the students in the DVD all had matching Yoga for Athletes outfits but only because that is what the class itself looked like. People who were in the class were proudly wearing their YAS apparel. Apparently, Kimberly has struck a chord with many people.

And may I add, forget about bars for meeting fit, attractive people. While I still think that libraries would be the best place to meet someone you would be most attracted to, I think those in the Dewey Decimal System Fanclub frown upon lightly-clad sweaty people in such close proximity.

So, for both the health of your body and your lovelife, go to a YAS class asap.

Monday, November 17, 2008

SPIbelt



I recently had a chance to try out a pretty neat little product called the SPIbelt. I had seen it at expos and on a few runners in races but never really thought much about it. However, when I saw the same person working the SPIbelt booth at three straight races, I figured I might as well see what the product was all about.

I am a minimalistic runner. If I wear something it is either necessary, nearly invisible, unnoticeable as I run or all of the above. I understood that the SPIbelt was supposed to help you carry things while you ran but, well, I never carry much with me anyway. I sort of thought it was unnecessary.

Well, I stand corrected. I first started wearing the SPIbelt a few weeks ago and now it is standard for my running gear. In my first test run, I put a Gel, my cellphone, a chapstick and my keys into the pouch. The pouch expanded to fit all of them but also held them snug. No jiggling of keys! No bouncing around! It really fit me well. Now how would it feel after 12 miles of undulating hills and tempo work.

Actually, quite fine. It took a little bit of getting used to, simply because if running naked were legal I might do it. So anything on me feels a little "off". But soon I was reaching down to see if the SPIbelt was even there. It was that unnoticeable. On top of that, they come in a variety of colors but I have the black pouch with the navy zipper. Stylish yet functional.



I would highly suggest you get one of these products. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

7 years ago today

This is the 7th anniversary of the day when I ran my first Marathon. The Harrisburg Marathon in Pennsylvania. It was a tough day and I learned a great deal about myself that day. While it was a brutal day for me physically, running a 4:12, what I learned was not because of the marathon (which did teach me me to not wear a three-quarter lengths sleeved cotton t-shirt, beaded necklace, wire-rimmed sunglasses, and shoes that weren't even meant for a 5k.)



No, on 11/11/01, I lost my Grandmother Roessner . Being the youngest by far in my family, I was too young to remember most of those in my family who passed when I was a little boy. My Grandmother passing, which I did not find out about until AFTER I finished the marathon, was the first time I lost someone close to me in my life. With her picture on the wall exiting my bedroom, I think of her everyday.

It is weird to me that my grandmother, and then eventually her husband, my Grandpa, who would pass in early 2004 and with whom I shared so much of my life, never witnessed any of my marathoning in the form it is today.

So, on this Veteran's Day, I salute not only the Veterans that have helped protect this country (of which my Grandfather was one) but also my grandparents as well.

I miss and love you both.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Book!

First off, I want to take this time to thank everyone who inquired as to when my book would be available for purchase. When I was asked what sort of book tour I would be going on, I was extremely flattered as well. (Currently there is no book tour planned per se but that will all change, hopefully, when sales are spectacular!)

Regardless, I am in the final stretch here before its first printing run and the book chronicling my 52 Marathons in 52 weeks is about to hit the shelves! More than just a book about running, or even my running, it is a book which was meant to entertain and inspire. Note, just 14 months before I started the adventure, I had only run 2 lifetime marathons!



More detailed information about how and when it will become available to the mass public will be following very soon. As for now, you can visit the publisher's website HERE. They are currently accepting advance orders of the book and you can do so by contacting Michelle at this email address: orders@experiencebooks.ca

Stay tuned for more information!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Boo Cold!

With all my traveling over the past 2 months, I have not been able to get a feel for the changing weather here in Salt Lake. I would be gone so frequently that I did not know if the leaves were going to stay on the trees very long, if there was a great deal of fluctuation in temperature or how soon fall would end and winter would begin. Well, I hope that today was not a harbinger of what to come.

I woke this morning to brightness filtering in through my windows but it was not sunshine. Pulling the blinds I saw a thin, but constant, blanket of snow. NOOOOO! I know the ski bunnies in the area are loving it but this former paperboy has never had an affinity for the white stuff (try lugging around 90 newspapers daily over hill and dale in NW Pennsylvania winters 6 days a week for 5 years.! The papers outweighed my scrawny little butt!)

While the forecast does call for temps getting as high as 55 degrees on Saturday, it most definitely looks like the cooler temperatures are here to stay. Just in time for me to be home for an extended stay for the first time since early September.

So as I debated putting on tights instead of just shorts, I thought about the upcoming winter. Last winter in SLC, the city received record-setting snowfall. I was happy that it was able to replenish a lot of this high desert with life when the spring flaw came but wasn't really digging it at the time! However, I realized how quickly this year is coming to an end. I thought about how runners seem to have a very good grasp of the passage of time. There are only so many weeks left until so-and so- race. Registration has already opened for this race all the way next fall. I better book my plane ticket for May before the prices go up. But the time still slips by.

Halloween is gone, the election is over and Thanksgiving is around the corner. I sighed a little but as I glanced out the window and saw the snow intensify. I finally decided to simply keep the upper body warm and wear only shorts. There will be plenty of time for full protective gear soon enough! I am fighting Mother Nature today.


Post-run Addendum: 9.8 miles on a circuit I haven't done in ages was good for the soul. I am still a mite bit tired from the past few months but the challenge was good. I could feel the difference in my lungs after spending the better part of 2 weeks at sea-level but after a few miles the breathing was back to normal.




Then the snow REALLY started to fall! (Note my poor car below after the run.)



But even though I thought about cutting it short a few miles, I gutted it out and felt better about it at the end. As I do every time I run.


But I should have worn tights. :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Santa Clarita Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 20th Edition
463.7 miles raced in 2008
Race: Santa Clarita Marathon
Place: Santa Clarita, CA
Miles from home: 689 miles
Weather: 60s; partly sunny; humid

Having raced 7 straight weeks in a row, I have to admit I was quite tired going into this race. I was half-hoping to make a shot at the top three but knew my efforts hinged on how quickly and fully I was recovered. Regardless of my energy level, the Santa Clarita Marathon would not wait.

I knew in the few days prior that chances were slim to none of feeling good enough to go sub-3 but that did not hinder me from hoping so. At the speech I gave at the expo, some of the listeners questioned whether I was racing and if so, what I was hoping to run. On the spot, I said if all went well, I might give Chuck Teixeira a run for his money.

Who is Chuck
Teixeira? Well, in my research for the race, I had noticed that Chuck, in the last seven runnings of the Santa Clarita Marathon had place 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 5th and 4th in times of 2:52:24, 2:51:31, 2:48:31, 2:51:13, 2:50:58, 2:45:30, and 2:40:40 respectively.

At the end of the speech, a couple who was involved with the organization of the race, told me they knew Chuck and would introduce him to me at the start of the race.

Race morning:
Staying in a hotel just one block from the race's starting line was like heaven for me. A 7 AM race time meant I would not get up until 6 AM, at the earliest. I finally sauntered down to the starting line at 6:52 AM. I am not a warm-up kind of guy and an ideal marathon start for me is to show up 30 seconds before the race and go. However, I wanted to me Mr. Teixeira. At the starting line I was introduced to Chuck and we talked until just before the gun was fired. An absolutely stunning rendition of the Star Spangled-Banner was performed by a local singer. It was so phenomenal, that even after hearing it at some 100 races in my lifetime, it actually brought a little mist to my eyes. I blamed the humidity. Speaking of the weather, cool temperatures and a cloudy sky which were still forecasted just minutes before the start of the race did not stay around very long. Warmer than ideal (for me) temperatures prevailed as did a sun that broke through the clouds far more often than my tastes would like.

The gun sounded and Chuck and I stayed together for the first 3 miles or so. I could tell right away that today was not going to be a great day in spite of the relative ease that I went through this first 5k (
6:33, 6:31, 6:37). When I found out that Chuck had won at least one of the Santa Clarita Marathons in previous years, I no longer felt sorry for his "always a bridesmaid" status. I told him I was backing off nonetheless and did so with a 6:59, 6:45, 7:03, 6:58, 7:05, 7:18, and 6:44 to bring me to the 10 mile mark.

What was most odd about this stretch was that no matter how hard I felt I was pushing myself or how much I backed off, I more or less ran the same times. I finished the first half with a string of 6:59, 6:57, 7:12 to put me at 1:30:30 for the half. Feeling quite tired, the sight of all the half marathoners turning right to finish in 3 blocks was a sight my weary eyes did not need to see.

Miles 13.1-21

While the first half of the race was punctuated by the feeling that no matter what I did, I was going to run the same times, this little section was exactly the same but with the times just skewed a little slower. The next 8 miles had me running virtually identical times with a 7:17, 8:08, 6:21, 7:16, 7:16, 7:20, 7:26, and a 7:40. (Ignore the 8 minute and 6 minute miles. Obviously the marker was askew but the average of the two equals out to be right in line with everything else).

During this section I had a vague idea of my placing and figured it was in the teens somewhere. I saw Chuck on a few occasions just churning away and slapped him a high-five each time. Every so often a runner would appear in my sights and I would slowly chip away at his lead until I passed him. One or two runners passed me but soon I made up the ground and left them behind again.


The sun would intermittently burn off sections of the clouds and beat down but it was nothing horrible. That said, it was tougher than ideal for sure. The vast majority of this race was run on or along a bicycle bath that wound all through the Santa Clarita area. Without a doubt, if you did not run the tangents, you would easily add a mile to your overall distance. But the course was very enjoyable and never boring as the tree-lined sections provided shade from the sun and the foliage was in full autumn mode.

Final 5 miles:
On the final out and back portion of the course, I spied a female runner not too far behind me who had previously escaped my view. I guess she had been too close on the other out and backs for me to see her heading out. She was motoring very well and I fully expected her to pass me in not too long. I then saw another female who looked strikingly familiar. I learned later it was a friend of a friend who I had conversed with a few times online previously. Small world indeed. Laura is her name and she would end up as the second female overall. She is also ridiculously ripped, nay shredded. I do not even want to know what she has to do to maintain that physique as I know I will never personally follow suit!

A slight side stitch had come on and I was just wishing for it to go away. The course was not a tough course but its elevation has just enough undulation to wear you out in the end.
While there was little crowd support on the course itself, that does not mean there was no cheering and enthusiasm. I lost count (and definitely need to inquire with the Race Director as to how many there were) but I think there were 20 separate aid stations along this course. Granted some doubled their duty on the out-and-back sections but that still counts. There was plenty of liquid to be had by any runner. In addition, a vast majority of the aid stations were staffed by younger kids. Besides getting children involved with a race for the benefit of the runners (I will gladly take a liquid from any volunteer, but there is something about grabbing a drink for a wee one that gives me a huge smile for 100 yards), the added incentive for the kids is to see how fun physical fitness can be, which will hopefully make great leaps and bounds towards helping the ridiculous obesity epidemic in our country.

*Steps off of soapbox*

Still waiting for the lead woman to pass me, I ran a 7:33, 7:29, 7:52, 7:33 next few miles until mile 25. When she never appeared, I decided I was going to take it home a little faster. I knew I was not going sub-3. I also was not going to get a 3:06, a time I have never run. But I knew I most assuredly did not want to run a 3:08 (Yes, I know this is all little stuff but it is the mind games we play and you know it!) So I pushed it hard in the last mile making it in a 7:16 leaving me very little time to keep under 3:08.

During the last .2 of the race I almost took out an absent-minded pedestrian who decided that the moment I came barreling around the corner was the absolute best time to cross a street, on the corner, 50 yards from the finishline, without looking to see who might be coming at her.. I know a little Newtonian physics and was aware that two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time. As I was now full-tilt sprinting and weigh ~175 lbs, I knew that *I* would be the one occupying aforementioned space as the lithe pedestrian blissfully ignorant to her imminent trampling was in no way going to impede my running. With all the energy I could must, using the quickest amount of time possible, I simply bellowed:

"MOVE!"
hoping the sheer sound would scare her back on the curb. It worked.

I passed underneath the clock in 3:07:59 for 11th place overall. Chip times later show I had a little more leeway (3:07:51) but the race photo should be dramatic!



I was quite pleased with this race. It was very well put together and very spectator friendly. I saw some people who made the effort to cheer on their runners like 4 or 5 times at least. With its looping course and out-and-back sections, it affords friends and family the chance to see you at multiple locations. The bike path is a welcome change to the style of many road races, and at times when you veer off the bike path and into, little neighborhood paths, you feel as if the entire suburb was closed just for you. A little more neighborhood cheering would have been great but I absolutely hand it to the volunteers, children, local cheerleaders and everyone involved with the race. Out in force and doing everything they could to make sure runners had a great time, we definitely appreciate their efforts.

This race has no where to go but up if the present group of people working on it continue in their present efforts. I hope to make the trip back to here as often as possible. You should too.

By the way, Chuck finished 4th overall in a time of 2:52:33. Pretty fantastic for a 49 year old man. Way to go Chuck and all the other wonderful runners I had the pleasure of meeting this past weekend!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A run in LA

Lately, my runs have been either races where I talk about the courses, or a quick run in the friendly confines of my home in Salt Lake City which I have already described in great detail. It has been a while since I have been on a nice new training run.

However, this morning I got to get up at the crack of dawn and tackle a nice little 3.6 mile climb in the Santa Monica Mountains. If you know anything about my running, you may be aware I am NOT a morning runner. So when my hosts Jimmy and Kate asked me if I wanted to go on a trail run with a group of runners I was more than ready to go. Then they told me we were meeting at 6:15 AM. Ugh. But I am a trooper and can't miss an opportunity to meet new runners so I of course agreed.

So, LONG before the sun came over the mountains and showed the smog settling in the greater Los Angeles area, Jimmy, Kate and I were in the car driving up Sunset Blvd to our destination - Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park.


Meeting about 5 or so other people, some with headlights on to pierce the pitch blackness, we exchanged a few pleasantries and soon were underway. I knew the run was more or less 3.5 miles up hill and then turning around and heading back down the hill. Doing my best to not wake up until we got to the turn-around I silently fell in behind Jimmy and some of his friends. Poor Kate hit a little ditch in the darkness and lost her footing. But in spite of an ouchie on her hand, bounced back up and hit the trail.

Jon, owner of his own successful apparel company, is training for his first 50 miler. Lukas, a chap I met in June who himself is a Kona Ironman finisher, was running with him. When Jimmy and and another runner named Chad his some hillier sections, I said no thanks and stayed on the fireroad. No sense killing myself with a marathon in 72 hours!

We hit the top of the trail as the sun was fully cutting through the sky, illuminating the Nike Missile Tower in front of us (nope, not that Nike).


After a little pause to catch our breath and just enjoy the morning, we hiked up our shorts and headed back down. Normally one who loves to crush downhills, I kept the race this weekend in mind and just cruised on down. About an hour after we started, 7.3 miles later and a nice solid 1,000 plus feet of up and then back down, we were back where we started.




A few high fives on a job well done and away we went to start our days. Not a bad start to the morning.

I still like to run in the evenings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Following Chad Ocho Cinco's lead...

...I might change my name to "the next non-Sanchez male finisher".

You see, I received the recap from the 12 Hour Race today and it was pleasant to be the only top 3 male or female finisher not to be listed by name.

The 12 hour was dominated by the Sanchez brothers – Juan, Federico, and David – on the men’s side. We’d already seen Juan several times this summer, most recently when he ran to a second place finish at the Headlands Hundred 50-miler in August, and we figured that his brothers were probably fast and tough, too, when we saw them all at check-in. Although this terrain was quite different, Juan excelled once again, leading for much of the day and staying in front to win, besting his brother, Federico, by 2 loops and finishing over 11 miles ahead of the next non-Sanchez male finisher.

For the women, Juli Aistars showed that recently moving into the 50s age group hasn’t slowed her down one bit, as she stayed focused all day and stuck with her predetermined run/walk strategy to take over and hold onto the top of the leader borad (sic). When 9:00 p.m. rolled around, Juli led Diana Rush and Heather VanNes to set a new course record 67.2 miles in the women’s 12 hour event.

I guess Rauschenberg is too hard to type.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

San Francisco One Day 12 Hour Race

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 19th Edition
437.5 miles raced in 2008
Race: San Francisco One Day 12 Hour Race
Place: San Francisco, CA
Miles from home: 738 miles
Weather: high 70s- low 80s; sunny

Going into this race I had mentioned I would be happy with 70 miles. However, my own personal goal was to shoot for 75 miles. I figured even with my racing in the past few months and a marathon the week after, I could eek out an easy 75. And then I saw the race day temperature forecast. Well, crap.

As it turned out, San Francisco has a near record-high temp of 82 degrees on the day of the 12-Hour race. I immediately revised my plans but still hoped that that mysterious and unpredictable San Francisco fog might roll in.

Setting up shop about 75 yards from the timing mat, I laid out a tarp on the grass, positioned a few bottles of Gatorade within easy reach and waited around for about 45 minutes after picking up my packet for the day. I had the pleasure of spending some time before the race with my friend Nattu who I have not seen since the last time I was doing a timed event, the Ultracentric 24-Hour event in Grapevine, TX. We joked that it looked like we were going to get more of the same warm temps that had hindered us (well me; Nattu thrives in hot weather running) in that race.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a fellow runner who I had conversed with previously on numerous occasions, Kent Roberts. With his own setup right across the path from mine, he generously offered any of his supplies to me to use during the race. He also offered his moral and vocal support even while racking up an extremely impressive 50.2 miles himself (nearly one per year of his life. Way to go Kent!)

As they made the countdown for the start of the race at 9 AM (I would definitely have started this race at 7 AM; or conversely, started the 12 Hour runners at 9 PM) I made one last pit stop. I ran into another runner with whom I had spent plenty of time speaking with previously, Catra Corbett. Easily recognizable by not only her tattoos and fun clothing but also her ability to kick butt in long distance-races, Catra was a really nice person to converse with. (She would go on to amass 100.3 miles in the 24 Hour run!)

First 3 Hours:

At the very beginning I saw the winner of last year's 24 Hour Race, Kermit Cuff who ran an impressive 125 miles. I knew he was running the 12 Hour version and would definitely be serious competition today. As such, I decided to both keep him in sight but also not try and race him. Today was all about running, not racing. However, in front of him were to other gentlemen who were cruising along as well. I hoped they were going out far faster than what they were going to finish in but kept them in sight as well.

After one hour, the race organizers began putting up the leaders' mileage. I was not in the top 4 when they listed them for the first time but was far from worried. I knew I had finished one lap right after an hour and therefore that lap had not yet counted. You see, this race is run such that only full laps count and if someone were to beat another runner to the timing mat, they will technically be "ahead" at that point regardless of what happens in the next uncompleted lap.

When my hostess for the weekend, Jenni, came down around 90 minutes into the race, and asked if I needed anything I was already a little perturbed that I had gone through an entire 32 oz of Gatorade. I asked her to bring me a few more if she could and in the meantime I would rely on the race's provisions. I was determined not to bonk in the sun.

By 3 Hours, I had somehow not only snuck into the top three but was leading with a total of 20.9 miles. I saw Kermit walking in a shirt that he had not been wearing when the race started and as he had completely dropped out of the top four, I assumed that maybe his day was done far earlier than he had hoped for. (This was confirmed later when he was declared to be injured at the awards ceremony after the race. I hope it was not serious.)

Any lingering cold in the air from the morning (of which there was precious little to begin with) was now gone. The day was underway. I had already traversed the perimeter of Crissy Field just south of the Golden Gate Bridge nearly 20 times.



Hours 3-6:
The first time I really began to notice the time was in the 4th hour. Perhaps because I knew once I hit four hours I would be 1/ 3 of the way done with my running or because from noon to 1 pm, the sun was directly overhead and what very little shade had been provided by the hills or buildings in the distance had all but disappeared I was definitely clock watching.

During this stretch was the first time I took the time to read a few of the emails sent by so many of my friends (and many of them on several occasions!) the volunteers for the race kept everyone's "email" in a folder and when you finished a lap would say "Dane, you've Got mail!" As I stopped at the aid station for more than just 3 seconds to throw liquid down my throat, I told them I would look them over. "Good," they said. "The folder is getting full!" A few jokes, many kind words, and a notice that the webcast was not working at all (total bummer on that one) awaited me.

As the sun cruelly beat down from above, we had one wonderful saving grace: the northerly wind blowing in our faces as we finished the backside of every lap. Coming down the slightest bit of downhill, runners made an ankle-breaking 45 degree angle turn but got to at least enjoy the breeze.

With the race course completely open to the public, and the day being absolutely wonderful for everything else on the planet but what 125 of us were doing, we had company. Dogs, cyclists, other recreational runners, sight-seers, walkers, people carrying their kayaks and sculls, tourists on gigantic-seated bikes and just about everyone else you can imagine clogged a fair amount of the rather narrow path. Enjoying the day, blissfully ignorant to the people swearing at them under their breath as they had to swerve in and out of revelers walking 4 abreast (and on the surprising occasion, 3 or so racers doing the same thing!) this myriad of humanity at least gave us something to look at during our pain. The Golden Gate Bridge is lovely and Alcatraz ominously staring down at us definitely inspired us to walk a straight line (no jail time for me please!), but after 35 miles, even these beauties get old.


Hours 6-10:

At the halfway point, I had definitely slowed. However, if nothing else I was very pleased with how I was handling the heat and sun. Easing off when I could tell I was beginning to overheat, hydrating properly and taking the correct amount of supplements undoubtedly kept me from a huge crash and burn. I have been using an Electrolyte supplement for quite some time now called Prolytes. However, I had previously only used the supplement after a workout. Here I decided to try it during the race. A potentially risky move, given I was violating the rule of trying nothing new on race day, it worked perfectly. As warm and bright as it was, I continued to sweat. While the white lines of salt caked my Road ID jersey in such intricate patterns that they looked like part of the design, I never fully felt exhausted.

While crossing the timing mat one time, I did not hear the telltale chirp of my ankle bracelet signifying the end of a mile. I brought this to the attention of one of the Race directors, Sarah. She assured me they would look into it and if there was a discrepancy in lap times, it would be remedied. I felt reassured.

As the leader pulled steadily away, I was still somewhat close to second place and seemingly far ahead of the 1st female and the 4th male. However, at the next update, I thought for sure I was further along than reported. No worries, I thought. I must have just missed making a mile before the hourly update.

However, over the next hour or so, my chip only notified my presence on about every other lap. After the third such instance, I leaned over to tell the gentlemen at the timing tent. Another runner was asking him where to get soup (a curious place to make a request to be sure as the food table was just about 20 feet away but hey, I have been FAR more delirious than that!) so I patiently waited. When the gentlemen looked at me, I made eye contact with him and said, "I am not sure my chip is recording every lap." To my utter surprise he said absolutely nothing and walked away with the runner to help him find soup (or something).

With no other choice but to continue and realize that my lap times would show the obvious difference, I went right back into my groove. At this point I had slowed my pace down to about 11-12 minutes per lap (which was roughly one mile). I would jog when I could, walk when I had to and then pick up a nice brisk pace to pass all those who had done so to me when I walked. I tried different patterns of jogging and running and all seem to produce the same time result. I was pleased with what was happening and in spite of a little bout of stomach uneasiness, thought I might still be able to catch 2nd place.

At the next update, something was clearly wrong. While I figured I may have mistakenly not hit my watch on a lap (or possibly two), the leader board showed me 4 miles behind where I thought I was. At one point Nattu and I were running together and he asked me what lap I was on. I told him what the leader board said and he replied, in a completely matter-of-fact way that is 100% Nattu (and actually made me laugh in my head): "That is not correct." I shrugged my shoulders and soldiered on.

Hours 10-12:

Around 6:30 PM, or with just 2:30 left in the race, the sun sunk behind the hills of the Presidio in the distance. The wind had completely changed directions and was cooling us on the front side of the loop rather than the back half. I contemplated donning long sleeves in the cool air but when the back half revealed itself to be completely without a cooling wind (it was currently at our backs, which, while appreciated, provided very little cooling effect) and I realized I would be sweating profusely half of each lap, I decided against it.

Almost immediately, I felt like a new man. After nearly 3 hours of 11-, 12-, and 13- minute laps, I took off like a shot. In the penultimate hour, I suddenly sped up and ran a 9:45.0, 9:29.5, 10:43.3 and 10:09.3 in four laps. As many others seemed to be showing the strain of the day I sped through the aid station grabbing only a glass of Coke and a few Pringles before taking off again.

Jenni appeared on my last lap before the final hour in shorts and running shoes. After already putting in 13 plus miles earlier in the day with her running group she was here to do a few laps with me. I told her to wait one last lap as I wanted to do it solo. She immediately understood and patiently waited for me to finish the lap.

With one hour left, I appeared to have a one mile lead over the next guy behind me, at least according to the leader board. I knew it wasn't correct but had neither the energy nor the desire to dispute it. I told Jenni I was more or less going to walk the last hour and enjoy the beautiful night we had before us. Jogging the shorter portions of the loop and walking the longer portions I was doing a strategy completely different than most.

With each lap I was that much closer to being done with the day. Feeling rather refreshed, I was still quite pleased to be done. The day had been a long one indeed. I was excited to get texts messages about Penn State winning in Ohio State for the first time ever as a member of the Big Ten and began to cheer on every person I passed or those who passed me. In our semi-delirious states, in now mostly pitch-blackness, everyone said thank you or waved their hand without once looking to see if they actually knew the person cheering for them!

I planned the last 4 loops perfectly, expecting to finish RIGHT at 11:59:59 of running. However, about 50 yards from the finish, I glanced over my shoulder and hard-charging out of the darkness was the guy who had been one mile behind me just an hour ago. He seemed to experience the same rejuvenation from the sun's setting and was about to crash my little party. So I took off in a cloud of dust and made my final right-hand turn before crossing the finish line with 11 seconds to spare at 65.1 miles. George, the guy behind me, finished just 4 seconds back. What an awesome finishing kick for George!

Awards Ceremony:

After throwing on a fleece to protect myself from the almost inevitable teeth-chattering coolness which would set in, I tried to find George to congratulate him. However, my movement was limited and I assumed his was as well. So I just decided to wait until the awards. I could not remember how the awards were going to be given but I fully intended to ask if there was a possibility that George and I could share the 3rd place award. Well, it didn't matter.

As it ends up there were only overall award winners and age group award winners. George ending up winning his age group, and with the 2nd male overall being in my age group I ended up empty-handed. Jenni and I laughed out loud at, not only at the crazy nature of racing and how you can be third male and 2nd in your age group quite easily and not get an award, but also the way in which the Race Director (the one who ignored me at the timing table) seemed to almost contemptuously spit out my name in such a way that not a single person knew what to do. Jenni said "We cheered for every single person but you!" The woman next to me, Diana Rush (a 48 year old who ran an astounding 63 miles) said, "Aren't you the third male?" I nodded my head and said, "I think so."

When I looked over some of the results the next day with split times included (which I had to search over hill and dale to find) I was quite happy to see I had not gone crazy. Right before my chip did not beep, I had run laps of 11:33.8, 14:21.2, and 10:43.5. Then on three straight trips, the chip clocked me at 27:54.5, 25:18.6 and 25:01.6. Right after that I had another stretch of 11:51.3, 12:41.4 and 12:51.5. It had indeed missed three of my miles at least. While it made very little difference overall, I was happy to know I had not imagined the discrepancy.

All told two gentlemen with the surname of Sanchez (but I think who were unrelated) dueled it out for 76.8 and 74.7 miles. The first overall woman, one Juli Aistars had one helluva day in legging 67.2 miles!
 
I just wanted to take a second to thank all my friends (and a few people I haven't heard from in ages!) for taking the time to drop me an email. Without a doubt your kind words were not unappreciated. It is the little things that make life great and it is amazing how often those "little things" end up being huge. Thanks!

Addendum: When irked, I call a spade a spade. I also dole out compliments and praise when necessary.

As such, I would like to point out that I recently received information for the San Francisco 12 Hour Race that they corrected my mileage and (more or less) apologized for the error on race day, saying that anxiety of not knowing whether laps counted must have been high.

So, for those who read my report where I talked about this lack of course management, I wanted to point out that a correction was made.