Monday, April 25, 2016

Karhu Fast 6 MRE and Fluid 5 MRE review

I have had a partnership with Karhu for well over three years now. So, if you feel that affects my ability to properly review their shoes, so be it. Also, this shows you have no idea how much I have no problem speaking my mind on whether a product is right for me or not.

So, with that out of the way, let me review  both the Fast 6 MRE and the Fluid 5 MRE, two of the newest shoes from Karhu.  *clears throat*

THESE ARE THE BEST SHOES EVER!!

OK, just kidding. But I will tell you this much: these are some good dang shoes.

I will start with the Fast 6 MRE (MSRP $139.99). I have always thought the name was interesting as the shoe is Karhu's heaviest model. Weighing in at 11.2 ounces, the Fast6 is a mildly heavier shoe. It isn't nearly as heavy as many other brands out there (Hoka, for example) but it's weight is at least worth mentioning.

As with all Karhu, it relies on the midfoot fulcrum for its special features. That is where the MRE comes in. "MRE" stands for Maximum Rolling Effect, which Karhu says blends a plush ride for the recreational runner with an improved rolling effect. I think that is an excellent description. I put about 60 miles on these shoes before forming an opinion and plush is a perfect fit.

The Fast tends to run a little small but Karhu specifically addresses this issue on their website. I don't recall any other shoe company going out of their way to make sure customers are aware of a potential sizing issue as such. Usually you have to rely on a shoe salesman or friends to tell you or perhaps by trial and error. (Just another example of what a great company Karhu is and how disappointed I am when I mention them and get a blank stare from runners.  But I digress.) So, I sized up a half-size and had no problems at all. In fact, I think I could have stayed at my usual 10.5 and experienced no major difference but better to err on the side of caution.

Like with the Fluid 5 I will get to next, I took the Fast 6 on runs of varying speed, distance and terrain. Obviously not a trail shoe, the cushion still provided ample amount of support and never felt like I would feel a stone through the shoe at any point. I traipsed up Mt. Tabor in Portland which allowed me to run on road and trail, both cedar chips, mud and roots. Also, Tabor is great to test how a shoe runs up steep uphills and screaming downhills. They performed admirably on all. This was one solid trainer. I felt no problems with any hotspots and had a great fit all over.

Could you race in them? Sure. However, I feel they are best suited for longer training runs, maybe even slanted more towards a recreational runner who is putting in 20-30 miles a week or so. Without a doubt a heavier runner looking for a tad more cushion would love this shoe. As as mentioned above, if you were coming from some of the other brands out there which are always a tad heavy, this would feel very light. It is indeed all about perspective. If you want something with a little less heft, well, that's where the Fluid 5 comes in.


Don't get me wrong, the Fluid 5 (MSRP $129.99) is not exactly a track spike, either. However, even at 10.5 ounces but it simply feels much lighter than it is. I noticed this difference after the first run and assumed that was because I was moving from the Fast 6 to this one. But even after a few runs, and mixing in other shoes, it still felt like it weighed less than it did. So off the bat that was a big plus.

The sizing was normal with the Fluid5 so I stuck with my norms on that. Everything worked out perfectly. Equipped with a half-length fulcrum (as opposed to the Fast 6 with a full-length fulcrum) The Fluid5 felt a bit more responsive. As if the shoe simply wanted you to get out of each stride and onto the next one, almost propelling you forward.  I did a few more runs with this show on the Waterfront in Portland.  Flatter than some of the other runs I do, it was meant to test the shoe out as a racer.  I could easily see myself taking on a road marathon in these. But just because I am weight snob, I will probably use them mostly for training. When you weigh 185 lbs, you want your shoes to be as light as possible over many miles of racing.

I had read that this shoe could feel a little stiff and I am unsure where that came from. I went into the runs with that in mind, searching for stiffness and found no such problem. In fact, the seamless upper reduced weight and provides excellent flexibility. I took it again to Mt. Tabor but this time utilized the slightly longer than half mile square around Reservoir to burn off some fast miles. It handled the speed and the tight turns more than adequately.  And it looked all kinds of snazzy to boot with the blue hue and the bear which pops off the shoe. (Karhu is Finnish for "bear", bee tee dubs.)

All told, I got a good 60+ miles out of each pair of shoes before forming an opinion. I can't see why they won't continue to be great shoes like everything else Karhu puts out.

Stay tuned for the Flow 6 MRE review. I am extremely excited about this shoe.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Illinois River to River Relay Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 11; 7th Edition 
88 miles runs in 2016 races
Race: Illinois River to River Relay
Place: Southern Illinois
Miles from home: 2135
Weather: High of 86, sunny, humid

The impetus for this race was many-fold. However, one of the main reasons was to experience a race which was a candidate for the book I am writing about must-run races in North America. Another was to take on a difficult feat with my buddy, Mosi.

Mosi and I have been trying to get our schedules to coordinate ever since we met over 7 years ago at a marathon in California. However, during that time, in spite of our efforts, nothing came to fruition. When I approached him about taking on this challenging relay here in Southern Illinois we finally had at opportunity which fit.

I have had some experience taking on a multiple-legged relay with just one partner.  I also have had the opportunity of conquering on a 202-mile relay by myself. So, logistics-wise I felt I had this one in the bag. Given the relay was 80 miles, I figured that if we tackled three legs at a time (roughly ten miles each) it would give each runner just enough time to recover from their run without getting too sore or stiff. Mosi would run approximately 39 miles and I would run 41. Breaking the legs up this was was about the easiest way to doll out the miles and get them as close to even as possible. Whether they evened out in difficulty from leg to leg was not to be trifled with. I can say unequivocally this plan would have worked just fine in a vacuum. I say "would" because we were not expecting a high of 86 degrees and unrelenting sun. But I will get to that in a bit.

Another perk of this adventure was staying the night at a former law school professor of mine's house in Carbondale. I hadn't seen Peter in 14 years and being able to catch up with one of my favorite educators of all-time was an absolute treat. His house was also located in close proximity to many of the places we needed to go which was just an added bonus. So, after a steak dinner for both of Mosi and me, we were off to dreamland. Forget carbs, it is all about protein.


Race Morning: 

We were scheduled for a 7:15 start. In hindsight, I wish we had started an hour earlier. Then again, we didn't know it would be 86 degrees. (Sensing a theme, here?)  Plus, given my complete nocturnal nature, needing to get up any earlier than necessary was not on the list of wants for the day. As such, 7:15 seemed perfectly fine. We awoke in the 5 o'clock a.m. hour somewhere, moseyed into the car, and headed toward the start. We perfectly allocated just the right amount of time to get Mosi to the start and for me to cool my heels for a few minutes. I bid him farewell, gave him a high-five and watched him head off to begin our trek.

Mosi's First Leg: 10.15 miles (All distances according to website.)

I got a sense of how each run went for the Ebony of Team Ebony and Ivory as we chatted post-race.  Nevertheless, my recaps of his experiences will not do them justice.  Suffice it to say that this first set of runs was the easiest of the day for all of us. According to the Mosi and the website, there were no three consecutive runs which rated "easier." Throw in the fact that these were run in the morning, when the temperature was still 55 degrees, as well as mostly in the shade and Mosi had it made. This is verified by the fact he was cruising along at barely over 7 minutes per mile. I told him before we started to take it easy. He needed to remember we were running 40 miles today.

He didn't listen to me.


Interim: 

It was a bit of a clusterbomb to get through the first series of turns with the car as everyone seemed to have the early-in-the-race jitters and was pushing the brakes like it was the plunger on Press Your Luck.  No Whammies! Fortunately, the cars/vans were given a 5 minute head start on the runners or otherwise Mosi would have caught me at the first exchange. This is no knock on anyone in particular, either runners or organizers, as we were on a narrow winding road and we needed to be safe.  I just wanted to get to my exchange ASAP and get ready.

I finally got to where I would take over the baton and parked the car. I readied my gear which included a Camelbak Circuit pack and got the car ready for Mosi to towel off and get going himself once he finished.  I figured it would take him about 1:15 for this first set of legs. In fact, I hoped that was what we would both average for each segment as that would get us a 9:59:59 for an overall time. Ambitious, but I knew we had it in us. Sure enough, at 1:14 and change, here he was. Looked fresh as a daisy, too.  Even though he admitted he had gone out too fast. Listen to the old guy, Mosi.


My First Leg: 10.3

I took off knowing it would require me running a few miles to get to feeling right. Let's just say that not everything on the ole body has been working well. Not with the broken hand on Christmas and the 103 degree pneumonia in March. But I would be OK. Of course, I start off and immediately go up a hill. Not a big one but a hill nonetheless. Not soon thereafter I had someone pass me. Our rule for the day was it didn't matter who passed us. We had to remember that virtually everyone else was running ten miles total (most teams had at least 8 member to their team.)  However, when you are a competitor it is one thing to think this. It is another thing entirely to follow-through with sane plans.

I did my best to simply stay on target. Before long, I caught the gentleman who passed me and said good job to him. Then the course sloped down a bit and I finally felt half-decent. Soon thereafter, we reached the first exchange and the runner I had passed sprinted past me to hand off. I doubted that would be the last time that would happen on this day (and it most assuredly was not.) I also didn't realize this would be my easiest run of the day.

The next two legs presented quite a bit more hills. But I was still fresh and it wasn't too hot. Yet. I ran with a few people whose teams I would see a great deal of throughout the day. In fact, the 6:20 Club Team pulled up to me and said; "Hey, we are behind you and are a team of 8. Can you please slow down?"  I laughed and said if they would carry my water I would think about it.

I crested the last little hill, handed the baton to Mosi, and he handed the keys to the car to me.  We were 25% done for the day.



Mosi's Second Leg: 9.95 miles

Right out of the gate, Mosi had a monster hill to climb.  Then he settled into some flatter sections before some rollers at the end of his three legs. He told me that even though we had talked about pacing, he felt he wasn't going to be the one to "let us down." As such, seeing me come into the aid station right on time for our overall goal, he took off likewise. I told him afterward that finishing alone would be an accomplishment.  Even though we had an "A" goal, the caveat to any goal was we finished healthy.

Interim:

I was caught once again in a bit of a bottleneck and this time Mosi actually did catch up to me at the first exchange. I jumped out and gave him a high five. The problem is, this meant I had even less time than planned to get to my exchange, change clothes, get lubed up, etc. Suffice it to say I was a wee bit nervous. In fact, I had barely parked, gone to the bathroom and got everything ready when here my teammate came chugging down the hill. Here I go with Leg Two!


My Second Leg:  9.9 miles

I was happy to know that this leg was a little shorter than my first one.  There were also no majorly noticeable hills. Well, I take that back. The River to River Relay is virtually nothing but hills. There
are few times when you are on a flat. So it all comes down to a matter of perspective. In this instance, there were no hills that I audibly groaned at when I saw them.  Maybe a slight whine.

This section however, was the time where  I was 100% completely exposed to the elements. With a bright hot sun overhead, and running on open roads, I could tell I was slowing more than I would like. I was trying to focus on just getting to the exchange but then I realized that Mosi's next run would be his shortest of the legs all day. It would also be the easiest. This meant I would have even less time than normal to rest and recover.  I shouldn't have thought that far ahead but when you have to plan and conserve, there are many factors you must consider.

In both my first leg and this one I passed double-digit runners. I tried my best to encourage them all.  Unfortunately, some had headphones in and I didn't want to waste my energy if they couldn't hear me. So I would often just give a thumbs up as I passed, hoping it was encouraging to them.  At the same time, I hoped, out of the corner of their eye, they did not think I was giving them the bird.


Mosi's Third Leg: 8.85 miles

Mosi tells me that this is where he knew things were starting to get rough.  The temperature climbed dramatically and his pace did as well.  If we had been able to communicate (cell reception was all but non-existent) and had a third person to handle driving duties, it might have been wise to break up the legs differently. Unfortunately, all we had was our feet to get us to the next exchange.


Interim:

I had a relatively smooth going through to get to next exchange.  Good thing, as Mosi's legs here was much shorter than the others, as I mentioned. I parked and wandered over to the exchange area. Some lovely volunteers had a little picnic table with a umbrella and I asked if I could join them. Given the heat of the day, this respite was necessary. I couldn't take advantage of the bathrooms or the country store nearby as I simply couldn't risk missing Mosi. When he came in, we exchanged our normal pleasantries to tell each other how we felt, where the car was, etc. He then told me he was baked. I knew it was just getting hotter and Mosi runs in heat better than I do.

Uh-oh.



My Third Leg: 11.1 miles

I wanted to get this leg done as soon as possible. Perhaps that had me taking it out too fast at the beginning. The nice steep downhill assuredly didn't help me in holding back. All that was on my mind was that when I finished this leg, we both had 30 miles under out belts. I did the math and could see that unless we had a herculean effort in both of our last legs, we probably were not going to break 10 hours like we had wanted. But if we were able to keep everything in check then sub-11 was no problem.

My first portion of this section went fine. Not great but fine. Every once in a while a runner from another team might catch me and chat for a bit. I wanted to be friendly but I also wanted to save my energy. It is hard to do both. The second portion of this leg was just about the same. Slower pace, friendly runners. Then when I began the last portion I began to feel the heat. I felt like what Mosi had described at the end of his last leg. With two miles left in this leg I took a quick walking break and drank heartily from my Camelbak. It seemed to help and I powered forward. With one mile left, I knew I needed to take another walking break. As I took this break and made a turn I was presented with a rather cruel uphill. As I began moving again, my legs seized up. I came to a dead stop.

I was offered water by one runner and more from another. I knew, however, that lack of water was not the problem. It was a complete lack of salt that I had tried to balance throughout the race. I had the energy. I could powerwalk. But if I tried to run, the entire quad just shot through like lightning with searing pain. I knew that stopping here wasn't an option. I had to suck it up, walk, and hopefully get ready for my last three legs.

As I approached the handoff I told Mosi what had happened. I asked him did he think he could pick up one of my legs for me. Instead of him doing three and me three, if he could do two and then one for me and then repeating it, we could finish this. I knew he was tired but I also knew at this point I couldn't do what we needed to do. It is one of the things I have learned about my body from having Gilbert's Syndrome. Once I am wrecked, there is almost no coming back from it without serious time off and calories in.  He said he could do it. I can't tell you how grateful I was for that.

Mosi's Next Two:

We didn't get to talk much about these.  I just know they did not go well for him.

Interim:

With just two legs to get ahead, I knew this was going to be even tighter than normal for me to get to the exchange. As I passed Mosi while driving I told him to simply go slow.  It would allow me to recuperate and would keep him from hurting himself as well.  As it had been a 41.85 to 38.15 split as originally planned, I told him this would also give him bragging rights as the numbers would be reversed. He smiled his million watt smile and away I went.

When I parked and began walking I knew I had a blister on my toe.  But I didn't have time to take care of it at this point. Plus I knew I needed to walk around and get ready for my next leg. The last thing I needed to do to Mosi was not be ready.

When he rolled into the exchange, I knew something was not good. He told me he simply could not do the extra leg. I know Mosi and if there is any way he can push himself to do something, he will do it. If he said, no, then it was a definite. The only problem was that I had only brought my handheld from the car and not my normal Camelbak. It was too far to go back, and I didn't have the energy to add extra miles. I told him he had to go to the next exchange and meet me there with the car and liquid. I couldn't do two legs with just the handheld. I didn't realize how right I was.


My Next Two Legs:

Without a doubt I was a bit crestfallen I had to do these two legs. There was no fault or blame put on Mosi, I just had convinced myself of what I could do.  As I began the first portion, I could get the legs moving but only for a little bit before they threaten to cramp. Let's just move ahead to the exchange and say that the next three miles were much of the same. Awful, potential cramps, followed my loathing of my situation. Anger that we had made it so far doing so well just to have the end be this death march.

When I came into the exchange, Mosi was waiting for me with water, ice-cold. I told him I needed to sit down in the car.

While there, my friend David from Evansville, IN just a few hours away, stopped by the car to offer support. He too was taking on the leg that I was about to try and get through. I asked him what his take was on this next leg and he paused.  He looked like he didn't want to tell me what he had to tell me.  "Um, it is the hardest leg of the entire course."

Well, crap. To put it in the words of the race itself  "This is the favorite section for everyone except Runner number 6."

It was not pretty. It wasn't even ugly. I wouldn't even try to sell this leg to my friends as having a
nice personality. I sheepishly trotted down the long beginning downhill before crossing the bridge and seeing the hill from hell. Starting at 379 feet and going to 729 feet there was nothing to like. I walked virtually every step of this.  My heart was lifted only by the fact that many of the runners in front of me didn't seem to be going all that much faster. Only pride pushed me forward in the last few yards to give the baton to Mosi.

Mosi's Last Leg:

Screw that jerky jerkface with his jerky being done jerkness. Oh yeah, he finished strong, too. Or something.


Interim:

With just one leg to recover, there was no recovery. I had just given Mosi an hour and a half to recover and now I knew I wasn't going to get a third of that back. When I parked the car, I simply put the seat back and tried to get myself settled. Everything was cramping. My heart was racing. I looked at my shorts and saw they were covered in salt. It almost looked like a pattern on the shorts.  I had to remind myself that I had pure black shorts. My intention had been to change them throughout the day but there had simply never been enough time.

Sitting there, I had zero desire to do this last 3.3 miles. I looked at the chart. Oh, good. It is a "hard" leg. too. And then I looked in the rear view mirror. There is Mosi.  Only like 7 hours earlier than I wanted him to be here.

I ambled out of the car, gave him a quick high-five as he gave me the baton and a swat on the ass.  I then promptly shuffled out of the exchange zone. I couldn't run. I wanted to. For all the people who were cheering me on, I wanted to.  I just couldn't.

My Last Leg:

I saw we had an hour and 45 minutes to finish the race under the time limit. I figured even if I crawled the last 3 miles that would still be enough.  As before, I had energy, not much of it, but it was the cramping that was the problem. Again, I do not wish to bore you with the woe is me portion of this run, so I will simply skip ahead to the last mile where I could finally run again. Well, "jog."

As I approached the merciful end of this relay in Golconda, I could see Mosi waiting for me to run the last .2 in. I told him that would still put him less than two miles than me for the whole race and that I hated him and he was a poophead.

We trotted down the final stretch to more than a few cheers from the teams who had finished, many I recognized from the run and had passed us in our last ten miles. I was a little ashamed to be ambling in after such a solid effort earlier in the day but the fact I was upright was an accomplishment in itself. As we neared the finish, I could hear another team coming up behind us. I looked at Mosi and said "There is no way in hell I am letting them pass me." I hobbled forward at double time and held off what was undoubtedly a great group of people who I had no intention of finishing after.

We held the baton aloft together, took a few steps, and crossed the finish line. I stopped my watch, and then embraced Mosi in a hug. Eleven hours and 48 minutes after we started, we could finally sit down.

Well, not just yet as a line of well-wishers had gathered. The last thing I wanted to do was seem rude to those who had stopped by to wish us congratulations. But I also thought it would be rude if I pitched forward as I passed out from exhaustion. So after a few conversations, I excused myself and sat down. Mosi, who doesn't exactly like the limelight, was forced into being the spokesperson for a bit. Thankfully, he had his wits about him a tad more than I did at this point.

Within a few minutes, I was able to get moving again, albeit slowly. We spoke to the race director, Brad Dillard, and told him what a wonderfully put together race he had with excellent volunteers and staff. Virtually every runner we encountered was affable and friendly, whether they knew we were a two man-team or not. It is no secret why this race completely fills, year in and year out, within minutes of its registration opening.

We were sincerely grateful to Brad for allowing us to compete as a two-man team as we knew he often gets such requests. I think, like all things in life, he looked at the totality of the circumstances and decided this one time would be worth the exception. We can only hope that we made everyone comfortable with their decision.

Next year is the 30th running of this race.  Maybe Mosi and I will come back with a few more people in our van to hand off to!


End total: Mosi - 38.15; Dane - 41.85.  Not that anyone's counting.  :)


Monday, April 4, 2016

Boston Marathon Qualifying: It Matters

More than any other race in America, the Boston Marathon matters. How you get there matters just as much.

I have been fortunate enough through hard work, genetics, and luck to have qualified to run this prestigious race seventy-four different times. On 74 different days, I crossed the finish line in a time that the BAA deemed worthy for me to run the Boston Marathon according to my age and gender. That is 74 different “BQ”s (Boston qualifiers.) Some have done more. Most have not.

Last year Mike Rossi defied every logic and reason known to his own running history and qualified to run the Boston Marathon. Well, it turns out that there is no way he actually did that. He cheated. However, he would have escaped the ire of many if he had just kept his mouth shut about an incident involving his child’s principal. If you want to read more, just google this guy. Basically he brought attention to himself and his running, which caused some to look into his past, both running and life. After watching the story unfold, it became quite clear that Rossi seems incapable of keeping his mouth shut about much of anything so it is no surprise he got in hot water here.

A few months ago, my social media feeds were getting clogged by this one blogger who wouldn’t shut up about going back to run Boston for the third time. He was going to get his revenge on the course after just missing his goal of a 3:30 at another marathon, he said with bravado. Wait a minute, I thought. Given what his age appeared to be, he had to run a 3:05 to get into Boston.What's the deal with 3:30? So, I investigated. That “just missed” time of his was the PR he had set in a time of 4:40.  It became quite clear that he was only getting into Boston because he was raising money for charity.

 *Digression alert.*

There are many schools of thought on whether runners should be allowed to run Boston as a charitable member who has not qualified for the race on their own athletic merits. This is not going to be a discussion on that. In fact, to make this clear:

1.    I think people who raise money for organizations are wonderful;
2.    I am far more impressed with the effort of runners than I am sheer talent;
3.    I wish there were more selfless people like that in the world.

However, the reason people are raising money for the Boston Marathon is because it is the Boston Marathon. You don’t see hundreds of people raising money for the Paducah Towpath Marathon. (Not a real marathon that I know of.) There is an aura, deserved mostly, about Boston. THAT is why people run it and talk about it. Runner and non-runners alike know about the race. Say you have run Boston and eyebrows gets raised and you hear that Hmmm! noise people make when they are impressed. Ergo, if you want to talk about your decorated running career as a means for people to pay for your vacation, then you better actually have one.

So, I offered $1,000 and then $1,500 to this blogger’s charity if they hit their 3:30 goal at Boston. Why did I do this? Because if he somehow dropped 70 minutes from his time, I would be happy to pony up the cash. I also called him out because I was tired of him acting like he belonged at the race as a participant who earned a bib rather than buying his way in. Talking constantly about how it was such a great feeling to once again get his Boston Confirmation in the mail. Touting things that didn't exist. (Like saying he was a California Marathon Series Bronze Medalist, having me ask what that is, then having him delete it from his About section.)  I was hoping he would realize the difference between working hard to gain entry and posing for tons of idiotic open-mouth selfies with whatever brand of apparel or shoe he was NOT training in. After a while though, the blogger got bothered I was pointing out their grandiose posturing and swore at me and blocked me on Twitter.  Because, you know, adult stuff.  Too bad, I was about to up the donation to $2622. (This bloviated blogger continues to post to this day with seemingly zero self-awareness of how non"esteemed" he is, or any sense of decorum - comparing his "training" efforts to the chemo cancer patients he is raising money for take to hopefully not die.  Blech. He leaves a copper taste in my mouth.)

Then today, another popular blogger (kill me if those words are ever attached to my name) was banned from running Boston indefinitely. To read Gia Alvarez’s website, it would seem she did something dumb but hardly egregious. According to a post, she had twice qualified to run Boston.  However, once because of a miscarriage and another because of the birth of her child she had not been actually able to run it. So she gave her bib to a friend the second time so the friend could enjoy Boston.  Now, this is against the rules and shouldn’t be done. But a lifetime ban?


It appears, however, that Alavarez forgot to mention that her friend ran a time that would qualify Alavrez to run Boston again, and using that time, and that time alone, she registered again for Boston this year. Well, that dear Gia, if true, is a no-no. Especially when your friend runs 10 minutes faster than your PR. Gia oddly didn't decline this was the case when asked directly about it.

(UPDATE: Gia has admitted to using another person's time in a new post. Obviously doesn't undo what she did but at least she came clean. Then again coming clean after being caught isn't exactly coming clean but whatever.)

The obvious and oft-repeated rebuttal is "Who cares?" Well, many people do and with good reason. People have been exaggerating their prowess since the invention of talking. That's understandable. Cheating or lying or posturing your way into a race on Patriot's Day in Boston is not the end of the world.  Yet, just because it is not the end of the world doesn't mean that it should be ignored either. These three examples are not just people making faux pas or lacking in ability to gain entry somewhere. Rather, they are going after attention for whatever reason (blog clicks, revenge against a principal, charitable donations to fund their vacation to Boston) and therefore are open to scrutiny.

I understand scrutiny. I put myself out there. I coined the term "Extreme athlete" because I thought runner and triathlete and obstacle course racer etc was not only too wordy but also too bombastic. Regardless, I felt what I had done had earned at least a small title. (It's a REAL select club of people who have run a marathon every single weekend averaging 3:20 or better, for example.) Which is why I hold my head high being able to back up what I say I am going to do. I don't seek donations to break a world record running across the country and then go in unprepared but still taking money (and then make a movie and career off of it.) I lay it all out here for runners to see warts and all. When crap hits the fan, oh well. Fortunately, for all of the higher profile things I have tried to gain attention and raise awareness for, I have been lucky to come out on top, completing what it is I set out to do. I know much of it has to do with luck. I have far more races which don't go to plan as those that do. Yet when they do, I am going to be very proud of my efforts.

I am acutely aware of where I stand in the running world. That is why I love running so much. If you have run a 2:49 marathon, then X amount of people are faster than you and Y are slower. That's undeniable. Put out the facts and let people be impressed or let people say big deal. But put out the actual facts.

The Boston Marathon, and runners in general, do not care about your gender, race, origins, income or anything else (at least, anymore, with regards to Boston.) On the roads or trail we are laid bare and stripped down to what we are at our core. This is what unites us more than virtually any other sport. Give it your all and only the biggest of asses will not be moved by your efforts. However, try and pull the wool over the eyes of those cheering you on and you should rightfully only see their back as they walk away from you.