Friday, September 30, 2011

Interview with Michael Wardian - ultrarunner extraordinaire

I first met Michael Wardian when I was a fledgling marathoner in Washington, DC.  By then, Mike had already begun to lay the groundwork for what would soon become a stellar running career that seems to still be far from its crest. We have run together on numerous occasions if by “together” you accept the definition of “on the same course”. But I don’t feel too bad about being spanked by Wardian as few can keep up with him. He won the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 US 50 km championships.

Me in white socks. Mike in greensleeves. He lapped me often.
The United States Track and Field Association named Wardian the 2008, 2009, 2010 Ultra Runner of the year for these and many other efforts and he was named 2010 Ultra Runner of the year by the International Association of Ultra Runners (IAU).

He has also finished the highest of any American in history in the grueling Marathon des Sables, a 250 kilometer stage race in the Sahara desert and just recently qualified for the Olympic Trials in the marathon yet again with a 2:17 at Grandma’s Marathon. He is one of a select handful of runners who are helping to bring running, and more specifically, ultrarunning, to the masses. A quick google search will show you what he has been able to achieve in just a few short years.

I had the chance to sit down with my former running club mate and ask him a few questions.

Dane: As you have undoubtedly been told to race less frequently and  focus on one race to attempt to run faster, does your huge Personal Record Grandma's Marathon this past June while continuing to do things your way, vindicate your desires?
MRW: I don't feel vindicated, just happy and really excited.  I feel like I am running and training the way that works for me and until I no longer get the results that I want and expect I will keep doing things as I have but to see results and tangible substantial gains is really inspiring and just pushes me to work that much harder.

Dane: How did you figure out that you were able to be such a prolific running machine?
MRW:  I don't really consider myself a running machine.  I just like to train, run and race. That means in order to do all the things I hope to accomplish I have to bounce back fast.  I think that my desire to be out there and exploring my limits really helps me achieve the goals I set out for myself.

Dane: Your humble attitude is why so many people enjoy being around you, but whether you consider yourself a running machine or not, you are doing something, few if any could ever do. Without a doubt you are working very hard to do what you do but were there any signs of this talent (e.g., family members who are fantastic runners) prior to embarking on your own journey?
 MRW: Thank you again for the kind words, I guess I should have known I had some talent as I always be one of the first guys done with our runs for lacrosse (At Michigan State)  but never thought I would run a marathon or ultra marathon. Then I went to my buddy, Vince Voisin's house and his Mom, Vicki showed me some pictures of her doing the Boston Marathon. I had always been into "Wide World of Sports" and that stuff but never thought I would do those things until that day.  I decided that I wanted to run the Boston Marathon and Vicki gave me a packet to set me on my way. I then trained for and ran the Marine Corps Marathon and was able to qualify in about 3:08 or so.  After, qualifying I went to Boston and I was hooked and decided to see just how good I could get. I guess I am still trying to see just how fast, strong and far I can go.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Akron Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 34th Edition 
484.3 miles raced, 7480 meters swam and 202.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: Akron Half Marathon
Place: Akron, OH  
Miles from home:  1747 miles
Weather: 50-60s; overcast


The Akron Marathon was where in 2008 I had the pleasure to share the dais with Kathrine Switzer and begin a friendship that flatters me to this day.  I say flatters because when of the most iconic figures in women’s running deems to cal you a friend, there is no better adjective to describe what you feel.  So, when the Ohio Beef Council expressed interest in working with me at this race, even though it was one week before a new marathon PR attempt, I said yes.  I figured that it if I didn’t get the new PR it probably had a great deal more with the 80,000 miles I have flown this year and the other 30-odd races in between.

I found a long time ago that most people find questions in and of themselves to be confrontational. Regardless of the inquisitive nature of the interrogatories, it is the mere fact you are not accepted at face value the words as truth which bothers many. Myself, I love questions. I love explanations.  In fact, if I am not asking you questions about what you have said, chances are pretty good I don’t care what you are saying. 

Putting myself out there in the public eye, especially as the first National SpokesRunner for the Beef Industry has allowed many to question me. I welcome it.  If I don’t know the answer to your question, I have no problem telling you so. I like learning as much as I like knowing the answer already.  And one major thing I have learned is how many people in this country are running races, are fit as a fiddle and are fueling themselves with beef.  I also know that some people have questions about whether beef is healthy for them. If you have those questions, do what I did: research.  Both the book kind and the experiment on yourself kind.

When I asked one runner at my booth if he liked beef, he patted a rotund belly and said: “Don’t I look like it?” I don’t think he expected my response.  “Nope.  It looks like you enjoy eating lots of crap.” This led to a great exchange wherein I learned that he did indeed pair his beef choices with not-so-healthy other choices.  When another woman told me that she liked beef but it wasn’t a healthful food choice, I inquired what she was basing this decision on. As I interrupted her throw away sentence here (I wanted to stop her before she went further) she rolled her eyes and stated: “Science.”. I’m not a fan of having someone roll their eyes at me when I am asking a simple question and usually I will just ignore them.  But I pushed forward.

“What kind of ‘science’?”  She really didn’t have an answer for that. She repeated her one word answer.  What seemed obvious to me was that she was simply parroting something that she thought was true.  She was going off of some ill-conceived notion of what beef does too people without really knowing the cause and effect.  Just like the guy with the gut.

The same thing applies to running. It’s bad for your knees.  You will get arthritis.  Eventually an injury is going to befall you. All runners hear these things from non-runners but I am actually subjected to them by other actual runners. At a race expo.   I am always dumbfounded that here are people who are actually doing the activity and they are still listening to people who haven’t run since they were forced to in 7th grade for the Presidential Physical Fitness test.  I want to grab them, shake them and tell them “Think for yourself, damn it!”

Whether it is a food choice, a shoe decision, or listening to some crackpot espouse some theory that you know could not even be close to the truth, think for yourself.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Running in Cemeteries

I don’t like cemeteries.

This isn’t because I am creeped out by being around them or get the heebie-jeebies when I go into them. Everyone there is dead. It's pretty safe. Also, I guess, upon further reflection, I don’t actually dislike them. They are interesting in that they provide a wonderful and rich source of history, especially from a time when there is little other record of what happened in that era. They are also not a waste of valuable real estate either (until they are full) considering how much a plot of land goes for these days. As such, they are decent usages of land (unlike golf courses.) What I guess I dislike is the idea of future cemeteries being built. Or maybe I just have zero desire to be buried and hope that my body can be used to help others once I no longer need it.

But man do I love running in cemeteries.

When I plan on going for a run in a cemetery, I always wonder if it is disrespectful to those who are buried there for me to be running on the roads that circumvent their final resting places. Like I am flaunting my whole being-alive-ness or something. But if it is good enough for Ed Whitlock, it is good enough for me. Ed Who, you ask? Ed Whitlock is probably the greatest age group runner ever (or at least in the discussion.) At age 73, a few years back, he ran a 2:54 marathon. Not a half, but a full. Yeah. Well, Ed does virtually every single mile of his training at the cemetery two blocks from his home in Toronto. Loops and loops and loops around the cemetery, avoiding even the slightest hill on the backside of the course. But Ed runs cemeteries more out of convenience than for the reasons why I like running in cemeteries. (Addendum: We lost Ed this past year.  That sucks.)

They are quiet. Well-manicured. Orderly. No cars are going to go flying by spitting dust into your face. They are, by nature, serene and usually quite beautiful. In a city setting cemeteries are often the closest most would ever get to a national park or being able to go for a trail run.

I conducted a poll amongst friends and found I was far from the only one who enjoyed the safety and beauty of running in a cemetery, but wondered about the etiquette involved. One runner said you should simply treat the land as you would anything else that isn’t yours in the first place: with respect. Heck, cemeteries aren’t really for the dead anyway. They are for the living.

So do as much living as you can. Chances are pretty good that many of the deceased you will be running around were runners themselves at one point. They are probably happy to have you out there enjoying the land and exercising instead of playing the Wii. Hopefully they won’t offer any tips from beyond, though.

I may just discover fast-twitch muscles I never knew existed if that were to happen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fox Valley Fall Final 20 Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 33rd Edition 
471.2 miles raced, 7480 meters swam and 202.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: Fox Valley Fall Final  20
Place: St. Charles, IL  
Miles from home:  1357 miles
Weather: 50s; light to moderate rain

I had two very simple goals for this race:

1. Help my new friend Shannon Bixler get through the first 10+ miles exactly on pace for a 3:10 marathon.
2. Try to subsequently pick up the remaining 9+ miles to bring it home strong and test where I stand for my PR attempt in two weeks at St. George.

The first of these goals did not take shape until I did both a talk and run at the Dick Pond athletic store in St, Charles on the Tuesday before the event. I met Shannon and her mother during the run and in the midst of talking about her goal for the marathon that weekend she told me she was hoping for a 3:10.  I asked her if she wanted someone to pace her for the first 10-plus miles as the 20 miler I was running followed the exact same course of the marathon for the first half. Shannon said she would be happy to have the company and now I had something to "do" in a race which would have just been me running by myself previously.

At this book signing I met a ton of people who I would later meet at the expo where I was partnering with the Illinois Beef Association for the second straight week to help spread the word about the positive ways in which lean beef helps keep athletes fit and fuel them for the finish. In a cozy expo, it was easy to get to know my other boothmates who kept the two long expo days lively with their chatter and exploits. They might have eaten as many of the beef samples as I did too. No, that is probably not possible.



Pre-race: 


Being a night-owl and a marathoner really do not go well together. I try and try to go to bed early but it rarely happens. When I do not feel like I am necessarily needing to give my "best" that urgency is even less and has me staying up forever.  Part of this was to blame on the wonderful Bixler family who invited me into their home to share in a huge family reunion dinner of sorts as varying members of the extended family were in town for different events. I was treated to tons of tales and it was fun to simply sit back, for the most part, and not have to talk. This wonderful dinner pushed back everything else i had to do that night so when I finally got around to trying to sleep it was once again just a few mere hours away from when I would need to get up anyway.  blast.

The morning broke beautifully.  I mean, like we need to make a postcard out of this beautifully. There had been a threat of rain and a few droplets had fallen on my cheeks as I arrived but things were looking up. I met with the Illinois Beef Association who were setting up their grill to hand out samples of lean beef to runners post-race when the sky clouded over and the rain began to drizzle.  As the cool temperatures stayed the same and the cold rain fell, I knew that this tent would be jam backed a few hours later. I meandered to the start and got ready for the run.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Church of Sweat

I was raised Catholic. Ironically, I have very little guilt left in me about skipping church these days. I guess my parents did a poor job of raising me in their chosen religion. However, they did instill in me a fantastic amount of faith, which I find far more important, and for that, I thank them. Now, this is not a scathing review of religion (and having lived in Utah for four years would provide me with ample ammunition for such a discourse) but rather a review of personal faith gained by reaching out to a higher power in a different way.

Having gone on a weekly basis to church growing up, with Sunday school afterward, and weekday classes to further my relationship with God, I have spent many hours sitting in a pew or with those who wished to inform me about what God wanted for me. Going to college and grad school, where Sunday mornings became the one day where I could actually sleep in, signaled the beginning of the end of my regular attendance to church. Running 52 Marathons in 2006 on weekends was the death knell.  However, I now consider myself far more faithful with at least as strong an understanding of a higher power than anyone who can quote a passage from Deuteronomy. Running brought me this.

I have seen the sunrise over the Rocky Mountains and watched its rays set a grassy field ablaze in color in a flat Iowa landscape.  I have felt a personal connection with the ground I run on, whether it was a broken-glass strewn street in the hood of some urban plight or the crushed gravel of the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I have experienced unrivaled compassion and friendship from other runners in the middle of thousands on a race course. I have felt the warm glow of friendship from a single runner handing me a sip of water from their bottle on a sultry and sticky hot day on the gulf coast.

Miles after miles have been put on my legs with Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, Sikhs and every other religious sect, lapsed (like myself) or not. Their personal bests and preference of individual lubrication choices meant more to me than whom they prayed to that night. 

Does running teach religious tolerance?  I’m not about to go that far.  However, I do know running and experiencing the world first-hand has opened my eyes far more than dressing up in my Sunday best and confining myself inside for an hour a week, going through the motions and wondering exactly how that one person over their can even think about taking communion after what they were doing the night before.

Ever had to reach down really far in a race, long after you have puked, decided to quit, then decided against quitting and resolved to finish this race and move straight to cross-stitching as a hobby?  No matter how much I give myself, and my training, credit for my ability to overcome obstacles and move forward, I cannot possibly accept it all. I know there are times that what I have done makes zero sense and given a certain set of circumstances, probably was not really possible. However, it was achieved. I most assuredly did not do this by myself. Or maybe I did. I have no idea. But I do know running makes me a better person and makes me want to help others.

That is what religion is supposed to teach us, right?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stop Complaining

I have long advocated that until one has worked a race, designed a course, been a volunteer at an aid station etc, for the most part you should keep your yapper shut when it comes to criticizing a race.  Sure, you spent X amount of dollars so you have a “voice”, so to speak.  Just be smart when you plan on using it.

The first race and instance which comes to my mind, dealing with a sprint distance triathlon that cost all of $35, was where some people were advocating that the race should have had chip timing.  This race, which turned out to have been run beautifully for a first time event, was one where the race directors were expecting, at most, 100 participants.  When they got closer to 200 they had to close down registration and make changes to the course to allow participants a fair event. (e.g., They moved the swim to the last leg, in part I am assuming, to keep everyone from killing themselves in the mass start in a pool.)  This was an event that in no way shape or form needed a chip timing system, even with the 200 people.


Chip timing is not cheap.  While it varies from event to event, you are looking at around $2 per person per chip and an initial fee of ~$1000 for the system. This is completely too expensive and unnecessary for a first time race expecting very few competitors. Unless, of course, you want that miniscule $35 fee to jump up to $50 or so (possibly more.) Would it be great if EVERY race had electronic chip timing and satellite hook-up to automatically beam results to everyone’s MyspaTwitbook account? Sure!  But to insist that a race needs it from the get-go, when it is small neighborhood race even, is just a little ridiculous.

In the half marathon I participated in over the 4th of July once, there was a mix up with some of the packets not getting to the packet pickup on time. First and foremost, let me make a quick aside here.  Runners: if the time for an expo/packet pickup is from X to Y, why show up an hour before X?  Unless it is the Marine Corps Marathon and they honor the first guy in line with a special award for having all the time in the world to show up and wait like he is getting tickets for a Beatles reunion or the new iPhone, there is no need to do this. All you do is make yourself impatient even if the packet pickup starts on the exact minute it was supposed to. I have long told race directors that if you want runners to show up at X, tell them to show up at X plus 45 minutes. Everything will be right on time then. But I digress.

I can absolfrigginglutely guarantee that the race director did not wish to receive the packets for a certain number of racers later than expected. It is unfortunate that some people were inconvenienced by not being able to get their packet and be able to put everything in place the night before the race. I can agree that getting up a little earlier than planned to get the packet before the race was a bit of a bummer, but it was not a horrible thing. (Heck, I had to do it too because I signed up so late. So I was in that boat.) And stating you spoke to someone who told you the packets could be picked up earlier than stated to the very people who would have answered any such email or phone call, just makes you look like a liar and will not help the situation at all.  There I go digressing again.

My point is that for the vast majority of the time, races are put on by people who love the sport and are not doing it solely to make a buck. (Although profiting is not a bad thing.  I am not against that, in theory, but I am when it is at the expense of the race experience.) These people want runners to have a good time because they are usually runners themselves.  I also understand that as the squeaky wheel gets the grease, it can be a few Bitchy VonMoaners who can make it seem like everyone is complaining.  So, let me say that there were plenty of people in both races who had nothing but positive things to say.  In fact, a good friend named Andrew who I ran into at the half-marathon was in second place until he was either guided the wrong way or missed a turn on his own.  Easily running two plus miles of extra distance, UP a hill mind you, he had every reason to be unhappy.  When I found him after the race he simply shrugged and said “Got a good long run in today.”

Moral of the story?  Whenever possible, be an Andrew not a Mr or Mrs VonMoaner.

And volunteer at a race.

Chicago Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 32nd Edition 
451.2 miles raced, 7480 meters swam and 202.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: Chicago Half Marathon
Place: Chicago, IL  
Miles from home:  1394 miles
Weather: 60-70 degrees; bright sunshine

This almost didn’t happen.  

My plan for this race was to honor the memory of those we lost on 9/11 and the service of all those after that by running the entire Chicago Half Marathon carrying a 3’x5’ US Flag.  Having run pace groups before carrying a much smaller dowel road and much small sign, I at least knew to expect discomfort.  But how much discomfort was the question.

At the race expo I had one of my favorite speeches of all time as the crowd poured into the seating area as I began speaking, rather unexpectedly so since it was at 4 PM on a day where the expo closed at 5 PM.  Enthusiastically, they asked questions, shared stories and made me very happy that I still had the pep in my step after two days of exposing. Working with the Illinois Beef Association we were able to dispel lots of myths and ill-perceived thoughts about how beef works on the system and I knew many would be joining me, even if only in spirit, for a heart steak the night before the race.  If you think this is contrary to how one should properly fuel for an endurance event, then you definitely need to do more research and let go of incorrect thought processes.

As is usual, I met so many fantastic and wonderful people that I now consider friends. I always hope they believe me when I say I want to hear how their race went but never as many as I want actually get around to telling me.  I think they feel I am just saying that to be nice.  If they only know I rarely say nice things- only what I truly feel- they might be more inclined to take me up on my offer.  But those who already have warmed my heart and my soul as first-timers, old-timers, and everyone in between shared their own personal journey with me.  Want to know what makes runners tick? Ask them and they will tell you. Want to know why some people will never leave a positive feeling with those who run into them? Because they are too busy concerned with themselves and how the world can benefit them.
Give and you will receive.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

If you aren't already thinking back to that day, 10 years ago (how is that possible that it has been a decade already?) me telling you to do so most assuredly is not going to make a difference.

However, in writing my next book, 9/11 plays a pretty critical part in my running life. I am including a little excerpt here to illustrate that:

November 11, 2001:

Exactly two months after the horrible terrorist attacks on Washington, DC, New York and a field in southwest Pennsylvania, I was scheduled to take on my very first marathon in Harrisburg, PA. It was on that fateful day two months prior when, faced with the first real uncertainty in my own adult life of what the heck was actually happening in my country, that I turned to the solace of running. Everyone else was clustered around the television getting muddled bits and pieces of information and misinformation about the crashing world around us. I decided that what I needed most was a run.

On this run, I saw for the first time ever, an afternoon edition of a newspaper sitting n the doorsteps of the houses I ran by. A throw-back to a bygone era, it would have been extremely quaint and Rockwell-esque if the pictures on the front had not been death and destruction and the beginning of a new way of life steeped in fear and uncertainty.
 
I thought about including some pictures here of perhaps the WTC with a remember ribbon over it, like the Mets did on Shea Stadium before it was demolished but again, while I am linking to it for those who haven't seen it, I highly doubt anyone needs to be reminded of that horrific day.


Be extremely thankful for all you have and if you know someone who was directly affected by that day in NYC, DC or in a field in Pennsylvania, give them an extra long hug today.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 31st Edition 
438.1 miles raced, 7480 meters swam and 202.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon
Place: Carlton, OR  
Miles from home:  805 miles
Weather: 60-70 degrees; bright sunshine

It is amazing what a week does.  Right after the Mesa Falls Marathon at the end of August I felt I needed to completely re-evaluate my PR attempt at St. George on October 1st.  My foot was killing me, I felt like a completely lethargic out of shape runner at Mesa Falls and nothing looked good.  By the middle of the week, workouts felt great, the foot felt infinitely better (but still hurts) and I was ready to go and attempt that PR at St. George.

First things first, however, was this training run at the gorgeous Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. I have sung the praises often of the races put on by Destination Races and this one is no different.  In fact, while I have not done all of their races, of the three I have, I would say this is my favorite, even if it is the one i think is the most difficult.

Because I rarely repeat races, I do not often have the chance to reflect on a previous race.  As I ran this race last year during Labor Day weekend, I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity here. I tried to utilize that knowledge the best way possible.

First and foremost, however, I was at the race to work with the Oregon Beef Council to continue to talk about how healthful a choice eating lean beef is for runners, triathletes and everyone.  I make no secret that I love beef and feel it is definitely one of the reasons I am able to perform at the level I do. To be able to spread that word to so many, and hear so many tell me how much they already agree with me, is awesome on a weekly basis.

Race Morning:

Last year the weather had been just about perfect for running, with cool temperatures and mostly cloudy skies.  For this race,  even though temperatures promised to be much warmer later, we had a nice brisk morning to wake up to and low humidity.  As I stood in the bathroom line, talking with Will Wise of the Oregon Beef Council who was attempting his first half marathon ever, we quietly watched the sun slip over the mountains in the east and ever so slowly raise its orange head into our morning.  I have seen very few sunrises in my life, at least from this end of the day, but this one was pretty fantastic.

I was ready to run.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Difference between a Runner and a Jogger

As the total number of marathon finishers increases, and the average marathon finishing times get slower and slower, the debate about how slower marathoners are ruining what it means to be a “marathoner” has raged on. To some extent, I understand the viewpoint of those who state that those in the 5 hour range or slower are “dirtying” what it means to be a true marathoner, even if I do not fully agree with it.  For example, if you say you play baseball and are a baseball player, the understanding is usually that you play in the big leagues and are, at the very least, one of a select few hundreds of people in America that are good enough to play that position.  If not, and you just play beer league softball, well, then someone knows what that means too. 

However, if one were to scoff at the 5 hour marathon finisher the same way we would the guy with the gut and 40 ounce aluminum bat swinging for the fences, they would risk being ostracized for their unenlightened opinions about what it takes to be a true marathoner.  I mean, I truly do get it.  For people who define themselves by a time and a distance, not necessarily everyone should be allowed to call themselves a marathoner. But then we get to the obvious question: where is the line we draw?  4 hours?  3:30?  Maybe sub-3?  Heck, soon we may have a world record under 2 hours.  Can people only 2:30 and under be real marathoners?  They would still be over a minute per mile off the world record.  Isn’t that slow and therefore demeaning what the other real marathoners are doing? Obviously, there is not a time goal that fits all criteria for this line of thinking.  As such, there has to be a better way to decide what makes a real marathoner, or real runners for that manner.

A few years back, I was at the Boilermaker 15k in Utica NY.  I had the chance to partake in a great conversation with Kevin Hanson of the Hansons-Brooks Distance project.  This creation of Kevin and his brother Keith is an Olympic development squad that most recently put Desiree Davila finish second in the Boston Marathon. Obviously Kevin, who surrounds himself with only the speediest of the speedy, must be disgusted by the plodders out there sullying this wonderful sport, right?  Not even close.


Kevin and I came upon just about the same conclusion and feel that we were able to easily define what the difference is between a runner and a jogger.  In our opinion, this difference is having a goal.  Not obtaining a goal, not having a fast goal, but plain and simply having a goal. If you are going out to run for a reason and a purpose, with a goal in mind (whether it be to get fit, to get faster, to improve your mental health, etc.) you are, without a doubt, a runner.  Sure, hopefully it is a realistic goal or one that is not somewhere on along the lines of “I want to decrease my marathon time by one second” but a goal nonetheless.

Everything else falls into too much of a gray category.  What is fast? What is slow? In the end it matters not.  It only truly makes a difference if there is reason why you are putting on your shoes.

Then, regardless of your time, you have just as much in common with the elites as anyone else.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mesa Falls Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 6; 30th Edition 
425 miles raced, 7480 meters swam and 202.3 miles biked in 2011
Race: Mesa Falls Marathon
Place: Ashton, ID   
Miles from home:  267 miles
Weather: 60-70 degrees; bright sunshine

I had a weekend open in my schedule about a month ago and I thought I may just rest. You know, sit back and do nothing. Then I laughed at that thought, got over it and moved on.

When I saw a marathon I had heard a great deal about was being run on the weekend when I would be home I knew I could not resist.  After living in UT for over three years now I found it quite odd I had yet to run a marathon in nearby Idaho.  As the Mesa Falls Marathon in Ashton, ID fit the bill and had received very positive reviews, I jumped on the chance to cross this state off my list.


One of the sponsoring companies of the race was the Teton Running Company in nearby Idaho Falls.  I had stopped there for a book signing two months ago on my whirlwind tour following my Boise 70.3 (video HERE).  They asked me to come back any time I was in the area. So with short notice I threw together a quick seminar entitled "5 Things I have Learned in my first 131 Marathons" and presented it to their store on the Thursday night prior to the race. Afterward I went on small jaunt with a few runners who stayed after to do so and enjoyed a nice warm run with some nice warm people. During the run a few of the people talked about how they liked the serenity of Idaho Falls over the hustle and bustle of Salt Lake City.  I almost laughed alone with the joke until I realized they were not joke.  I guess once you have lived in Washington, DC, very few things seem to be hustle and bustle worthy. And when you can cross city streets like you are Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky on a Sunday morning because everyone is in church, it seems quite quiet.  But I digress.


The next morning had me going to two different radio stations in Idaho Falls.  We fielded a few questions from some callers and talk about not only the marathon but how to lead a healthy lifestyle  while eating lean beef.  This was definitely not a hard sell in a state that is all about meat and potatoes but it was nice nonetheless to have a discussion with intelligent people on the matter.  The interviews themselves were a blast which goes to show how much more smoothly one of those can go when the people interviewing you actually do a little bit of homework and care about the topic.  Kudos to these people for doing an excellent job.