Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Run or Three? New Year's Eve Running Plans

I mentioned the other day how I was disappointed about not being able to do a 12 hour run in Wyoming on NYE and how instead I was planning to do a Beat The Clock 5k at 11:30 PM.  I did not, however, state I would try to make up for not being able to do that 12 Hour Run, which I was using as training purposes for my 204 miler in April, by staging my own mini-version and doing a 6 hour run.  And where would I be doing this run?  At Liberty Park, of course!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Marathonquest 250

I recently was sent an article about a gentleman who wishes to run 250 marathon distances in 2010. According to the website, the 54 year old Martin Parnell will run 12 actual marathons with the remaining distances being run on the Cochrane Foothills Marathon course in Cochrane, Alberta.

I love reading about these sort of adventures.  Often when I speak about them, people wonder if I feel it will distract from what I myself accomplished in 2006 with my 52 Marathons in 52 weekends.  I have a mutil-layered answer to that.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review - Unthinkable

Recently I received a complimentary signed copy of Scott Rigsby's book, Unthinkable from the author.  Going into reading this book I knew what to expect.  Scott Rigsby overcame a horrific car accident, dozens of surgeries, the amputation of one leg right after the accident, and another amputation years later of his other leg, to become the first double amputee to finish an Ironman in Kona.  BAM.  I knew I was about to be extremely inspired.

But, being inspired and actually enjoying a book are two separate things.  Not every great story has a great storyteller. Fortunately, while Rigsby's book has a few sections I could have done without, it was overall a very enjoyable read.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Present

This Christmas, circumstances beyond my control, had me home alone not being able to visit my friends or family.  So I slept in, lazily woke and finally went out for a run.  I planned on doing an easy 8.25, or 5 loops around the Liberty Park, my familiar haunt.  I would say countless miles have been run around that 1.5 mile loop but because I have a record of every single mile I have run in the past 4 years meticulously and lovingly noted in a spreadsheet it would only take a little bit of math to see how many miles exactly.  But, let's just say thousands.

I have been ramping up my miles in preparation for my 204 mile run in April, and am on pace for the most miles I have ever run in one month ever this December. As such, I have done many miles in a slightly tired or sore state.  That has been the point.  But I just did one run yesterday, Christmas Eve, of 7 miles and so was feeling rather spry today.

Each loop was faster than the next and even in the 21 degree weather, the sun was shining brightly and I was feeling good.  Then I saw Henry.

When I first moved to SLC, my morning routine consisted of a 3.75 mile run before work, every day I was here.  That job ended, my life and work routine went with it and rarely did I venture out for 7 AM runs anymore.  The biggest shame of that was that I no longer saw Henry.  Easily in his late 70s, Henry was a staple of my early morning runs.  Regardless of the weather, Henry would be out at the park doing his loops in the opposite direction I did mine.

But here he was.  My already great feeling run got even better.  I stopped to talk to him briefly and expressed surprise at seeing him out here at noon.  "Had to make sure all the morning stuff was taken care of first," he said obviously speaking about Christmas presents and the like.  I most assuredly have to figure out a way to interview him someday.  But this time, after all of the previous times of seeing Henry and never getting his last name, I got it:  McNabb.

Not to be too melancholy but in the past 18 months or so since I had last seen him, I wondered if Henry was still around, alive and walking (briskly, I might add.)  Well, he was and was looking as fit as ever.

That was my Christmas present.  Walk on, Henry!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ICESPIKE - A Product Review

One of the great things I miss about doing book signings at expo is the ability to walk around and check out the newest running gear, gadgets and accessories. Those who wish to whip through the expo, packet in hand and eyes on the ground are often missing out. If you are a runner, chances are good you have a large supply of running gear. And you may have some well-worn-in running gear.  But that 1987 Turnipfest 7k cotton t-shirt you have been running in for 20 years is getting a little ripe. It wouldn't hurt you to look around.

For me, while I could not float around the expo in the Manchester Marathon as I would have liked, I was fortunate enough to be seated next to a product being displayed called ICESPIKE.  I was intrigued.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ringing in the New Year

I have been hoping to do quite the doozy of a race on NYE for about as long as I have been running, and while I have a done a 5k or two on the last day of the year, that didn't quite cut it.  Unfortunately, while I had planned to run a 12 Hour Race on December 31st, the race was canceled, leaving me searching for something to commemorate the beginning of 2010.  Granted, I did find a local 5k that starts at 11:30 PM, and gives you 30 minutes to finish befroe the new year starts (which will be fun) but I wanted more.

Then I realized something I had already been planning, while not exactly on NYE, will fit in just nicely with my desire to push my limits and boundaries in the upcoming year.  You see, in spite of the fact that I have run in 108 Marathons, I have never once done them in the same weekend.

That all changes January 9th and 10th when I visit the Mississippi Blues Marathon and the First Light Marathon in Jackson, MS and Mobile, AL respectively.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chillalo - A product review

At a book signing at the Top of Utah earlier this year, I was seated next to a gentleman and his mother who were selling a product called the Chillalo.  Curious as to what exactly the product was, the owner of the product, Thomas Zarembinski, showed me how the band could be filled with ice and worn as a headband or on the bill of a hat to help cool a runner in warm temperatures.

I was intrigued by the product and told Tom that it might even work better for ultra runners who are often exposed to the variety of temperatures that comes with running for 24 hours-plus. When I was running the Old Dominion 100 mile race, I was saddled with 90 degree temperatures and humidity high enough to make me very unhappy.  Fortunately, in a pinch, one of my crew members had fashioned a neckerchief filled with ice cubes to try and help soften the blow that the riding temperatures were having on me.

It was a workable solution but I figured there could be a better way to do this. The Chillalo seems to be that option.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review - Marathon by Hal Higdon

I got this book at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon when Hal was signing books across the aisle from me doing the same.  Getting to him prior to the expo opening, I wanted to share a few words with him without having a line of other runners behind me, as I did not want to take up his time.  I told him how many of my friends were excited to have purchased his book and that I knew many others who had used his training guides to get off the couch.  After I exchange, I was a little disappointed, given the lack of any rush of other people at the time, when I opened my book later to see he had inscribed, verbatim: "To Dane- Hal Higdon" (at least I think that is what his signature said).  At least he spelled my name right.  Nevertheless, I was looking forward to reading the book and even though had other books in the cue, set to it immediately.

Having finished it and reflected on it for about a week or so, I have to say that my general feeling of the novel, with no disrespect to Hal (who has written like 35 books) was "meh."  Let me discuss the pros and the cons to explain my general feeling of averageness towards "Marathon: A Novel".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Honolulu Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 26th Edition
662.5 miles raced in 2009

Race:  Honolulu Marathon
Place: Honolulu, HI
Miles from home: 2990 miles 
Weather: 70-80s; warm and slightly humid

Knocking out my 21st Marathon of the year and visiting a state I had never been to seemed like a good way to end my marathon "season" for the year.  Using a run in a place many would call paradise as as training run seemed like an even better idea.  As glimpses at the forecast showed one of the most ideal running conditions on Honolulu Marathon history (70 degrees at the 5 AM start with relatively low humidity), I could not help but smile.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Santa Barbara Marathon Recap - A Training Run

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 25th Edition
636.3 miles raced in 2009

Race: Santa Barbara International Marathon
Place: Santa Barbara, CA
Miles from home: 778 miles 
Weather: 40-50s; cool and clear

With my Marathon PR attempt for the year passed and my focus now on getting my body ready of running 204 miles in 48 hours at the American Odyssey Relay in April of 2010 my marathons for the next months will take on the role of training runs.  That is the theory anyway.  Now can I just follow through with it, is the question.

First 10k: 7:34, 7:18, 6:50, 7:22, 14:25 (45:00 ish)

As a result of a car accident (one in which I was not involved and I hope no one was hurt in) blocked traffic for a bit on the way to getting runners to the start, the race was delayed by about 25 minutes. This was a little bit of a bother for as the later a race goes, the more potential there is for warmer weather.  And we are in Southern California after all.  However, the weather forecast called for cooler temperatures and party cloudy skies so that slight inconvenience was not much of a problem.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review - A Marathon Odyssey

It has been a while since I have done a book review but I felt like I was in the mood to day to do one. I just recently (like 5 minutes ago) finished a book called A Marathon Odyssey.

In the interest of full disclosure, A Marathon Odyssey is written by Malcolm Anderson. Malcolm owns the company which published See Dane Run. Does that mean I am going to give his book preferential treatment? Nope. If I do one thing well, it is being clear and honest with what my feelings are. Like them or not, one always knows where I stand. Just thought I would get that out of the way upfront.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Running the Triple Crown - Melissa Williams

I was recently turned onto a series of races in the greater Seattle area right after Thanksgiving. The great Northwest is home to many low-key races.  Some call them "Fat-Ass" races and most are meant to take the camaraderie of running and combine it with the formality of a race, with a huge de-emphasis on the formality part.
Now running long distances on a race course not on race day has never really been my thing. I figured if I am going to out forth the effort, I would like to have it be "official".  And if I am not going to have it official, I don't need for it to be "semi-official" by giving my run du jour a name.  That said, I was pretty impressed by a hearty bunch of individuals who took part in some serious running this past weekend, more specifically one runner named Melissa Williams.  Now I haven't had the pleasure to meet Melissa but I hope to do so someday soon and go for a run.  If I can keep up, that is.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kelly Luckett

In my Atlanta Marathon recap I mentioned runner Kelly Luckett and how she deserved her own posing. Now here it is and I am going to tell you why. Kelly is an amputee. We tend to label people by what they don't have (e.g.., blind, deaf, etc) and to say Kelly is an amputee is obvious, and helps with context, but it is far too limiting. Kelly is more than an amputee: she is one kick ass-amputee.

To begin, Kelly's amputation is the result of a lawn mower accident which occurred right around her second birthday.  She lost her foot that day but not her spirit.  Her amputation is called a Symes amputation which means it's at the ankle joint, so she doesn't have enough clearance from the bottom of her residual limb ("stump") to the floor to have enough room for the higher-tech walking and running feet.  She has a running foot, the Cheetah Foot, but it's meant for sprinting not distance running.   The Flex Foot which many of the distance runners of note (e.g., Sarah Reinertsen, Amy Palmiero,) have for running, is not one Kelly can use because of the aforementioned lack of clearance.

However the trade-off is that trans-tibial amputees like those mentioned above have to rely on crutches or a walker to get in and out of the shower, use the bathroom, etc.  As Kelly notes with her usual smile and wit about the cards life has handed her.

"My residual limb is weight-bearing and long enough that I can 'walk' on it  a short distance, which makes daily life activities much easier."

How is that for spunk?  She lost her foot so that she can't have a normal life per se but not enough of an amputation to give her what she needs to really compete with advanced prosthetics and here she is happy she can do daily life activities many of us take for granted!

So, what is it that gives Kelly that little edge over so many other amputee athletes?  Well, as I mentioned above, she doesn't have the technology, or can't use what is available, to be one of the "best" amputee athletes out there in terms of speed.  But man does she motor.

Just recently, Kelly finished the Chicago Marathon in a new personal best time of 5:41:23.

The average finishing time for women in 2008 was barely faster than Kelly's time.  And I am guessing that of the ~200,000 female marathon finishing times, not too many were done by those with just one leg or part of one!

Not only is she the only female amputee runner to run the Boston Marathon more than once, she is the only amputee runner in history to compete in the Boston Marathon 5 times (2005-2009) finishing WELL under the qualifying time of 8 hours.

In addition,
--> Kelly recently ran a 50K PR of 7:44:11 at the Darkside Running Club Peachtree City 50.  Her efforts garnered her the -->“Bad Ass of the Quarter” award from GUTS (Georgia Ultrarunning & Trailrunning Society). 
The list of Kelly's achievements goes on and on. But the greatest part of Kelly is the part that is definitely NOT missing: her heart.  She has such a loving and warm personality that it is impossible not to simply be enchanted and inspired when you are around her.  At my booth at the Atlanta Marathon, Kelly showed me her new business cards and jokingly mentioned how she wanted to but "Bad Ass" on them under he name.  I told her it wasn't fitting enough.

She needed : "Made of Awesome".  Rock on, Kelly.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Atlanta Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 24rd Edition
610.1 miles raced in 2009

Race: Atlanta Marathon
Place: Atlanta, GA
Miles from home: 1914 miles 

Weather: 40-50s; cool and clear

In the few short days between the Atlanta Marathon and my previous race in Mesquite, I began to think that this was the shortest rest I had ever had between races.  Them I remembered it was tie.  Last year I had run Boston on a Monday (twice actually, but that is another story) and then flew to Korea to run the Hangang Marathon.  Due to the International Date Line, I lost a day in transit and the time between was 4 days.  So the adventure I was imparting on was not completely uncharted waters.

In fact, in what remains what has personally been one of my most impressive feats of running, I had run Boston in 3:01 (a week after running a 2:58 in Utah and right before turning around and doing it again under 4 hours with the Race Director) and then inexplicably ran a 2:56 in Korea.  However, while I had done a similar event before,  I knew no such effort was going to be repeated here in Atlanta.  As early as Tuesday before the race, I was still limping around like I had not done post marathon in quite some time and knew that merely slogging through the race might be my only option.  In addition, I had the largest of monkey wrenches thrown into my Thanksgiving week plans the day I was departing to partake in those plans, and was completely mentally spent.

So I did what is very hard for most runners.  I decided the Atlanta Marathon, my first in Georgia, was going to be nothing but a training one.  But one which I felt would simulate many of the events I have planned for the near future.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mesquite Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 23rd Edition
583.9 miles raced in 2009

Race: Mesquite Marathon
Place: Mesquite, NV
Miles from home: 338 miles
Weather: 40-60s; clear and windy


The race reports that are the toughest to write are those which follow a complete and undeniable failure to reach any of your desired goals. Unfortunately, this is one of those reports.  There is no way to sugarcoat it, and for all those who wished me good luck on my attempt to set a personal best, I am not going to drag it out: I did not make it.  Did not even come close.  But it is in our failures that we learn the most about ourselves.

Like, no matter how much I hydrate, if it is sunny, I am screwed in a marathon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A new personal best?

In my travels around the country and world, I have learned that, for whatever reason, while everyone calls their fastest time in a race their "personal best", only Americans shorten it to "PR" (presumably for "personal record".)  My Australian friends always say "PB" and it automatically makes me think of Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches and how I once dated a girl who thought that idea of PB &J together was disgusting.  I think that is pretty much against the Constitution and all for which it stands. But I digress.

Tomorrow I will be shooting for a new personal best, personal record, fastest time I have ever run (or whatever you would like to call it at the Mesquite Marathon in Mesquite Nevada.  While many I know are hesitant to state their goals or their ambitions, sometimes to not jinx themselves, sometimes so that they do not have to answer "No, I didn't get it" to well-meaning friends who ask them how they fared after a race that did not go off as planned, I think it is good to get it out there in the ether what you intend to do.  It really is a freeing feeling to let others who do care know your intentions.

That said, I may have the proverbial snowball's chance in hell in setting that new PR this weekend.  Well, maybe not that bad of a chance but I am definitely not sitting all that pretty.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mileage Game

One of the greatest things about running are the numbers. In a world of constant flux, numbers are permanent and something we can always fall back on. Granted, sometimes they can be too controlling and make us a little more obsessive than we should be, but the measuring stick they provide us makes running so unique.

The numbers I am referring to for this post are the miles I ran this year.  Back in 2006, while doing the 52 Marathons, I raced 1362.4 miles (52 times 26.2.)  For the entirety of the rest of the year, I only ran 409.1 other miles. That means 77% of my running that year was spent in the middle of marathon races.  That is obviously a ridiculously high percentage of racing miles and never one I expected to repeated.  As I have only really been keeping track of miles since 2006, I did not have much to go on in terms of how many miles I should be running. But I know I ran way less than in 2005 and 2004, when my running career really began, than the 1771.5 I ran in 2006.  As such, with this upward trend, I fully expected and planned to continue adding more miles to my yearly total each year.

Funny thing is, Life doesn't much care about what your plans are.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Need for Tougher Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards

The title of this post should have a question mark at the end as I have not fully decided if there really is a need or not.  However, one thing is certain: one must be quick on the registration trigger to be one of the 20,000+ runners traversing the storied road from Hopkinton to Boston.

When I first qualified for Boston in 2005, it was the middle of January.  Hoping to get a slightly better time, I waited until the middle of March when I lowered my time to a 3:07 at the Little Rock Marathon.  I immediately came home and registered.  However, even though that was just five weeks before Boston that year, I don't think I was the last one in.

That is not the case anymore.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 22nd Edition
557.7 miles raced in 2009

Race: Indianapolis Monumental Marathon
Place: Indianapolis, IN
Miles from home: 1536 miles
Weather: 50-60s; clear and windy

Well, I have finally run as many marathons in the rest of my life as I did in 2006. 52 then, and 52 before and since. Phew!

I had no idea what to expect at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Not from the race or the course or the elevation, all which were clearly marked and described on the website, but from myself. I knew I was "recovered" from the Manchester Marathon just a few days before but I also knew that race took a great deal out of me. A short week between races (Sunday to Saturday) plus travel and the expo book signing did not leave much room for recovery either. And when you see street signs like this, you can be even more confused about how much you have recovered and how much you are imagining.

As I seem to respond pretty well to short rest, I was hoping to once again potentially go for a sub-3 in Indiana for the first time. However, as I said to many during the expo, one never knows until they are on the race course what the marathon has in store for them that day.

As we lined up for the beginning of the race, I was also lined up for an interview for WISH TV. Sometimes reporters do not seem to know that even if you are a little relaxed, you would rather not be on camera about 90 seconds before a marathon begins! Alas.

Hoping into the corral mere seconds before the start allowed me the opportunity to see my friend Holly Koester, a wheelchair athlete I have written about many times. It had been too long since I had seen her and the quick hug got me pumped up for my race.

Gun fired and away number 104 went.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

All for Naught

In the past few weeks I have been traveling and speaking at various races. At my book signings I invariably encounter people who are carrying a bag full of race goodies. Asking them which race they are partaking in this weekend, some will give me a sorrowful look and mention how an injury derailed them about a week before the race. As such, they are here just to pick up the things that they have already paid for and to get some deals on running apparel.

While I have been fortunate enough to not have an injury keep me from racing at an important race, I have had to miss races for a variety of reasons. The most recent would be when a bike accident kept me from competing in the World Aquathlon Championship in Australia. Having qualified for the US team in my first ever Aquathlon in August, I was more than stoked to represent my country at the Worlds.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Manchester follow-up

There is never enough time or space in my race recaps to even begin to list all the people I have met or whose stories have inspired me. I can just do my best to touch on as many of them as possible. One person who really struck a chord with me was a woman who spent her formative years in Manchester and is one of the all-time bad guys/girls of television history: Jane Badler. Better known as Diana from the 1980s hit series, "V".

I am, of course, kidding. Not about Ms. Badler being from Manchester (sometimes it sorta scares me the trivia I have rattling around in my head; might explain why I could never understand that the Rule Against Perpetuities in law school), but about who really did stick out in my mind.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Manchester City Marathon

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 21st Edition
531.5 miles raced in 2009

Race: Manchester City Marathon
Place: Manchester, NH
Miles from home: 2396 miles
Weather: 50-60s; clear and windy

It is a rare occasion when you sit at a table with Kerri Strug and Bill Rodgers. Well, that is what you get at the Manchester City Marathon. Bill was here for obvious reasons but Kerri's involvement was based on Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the sponsor for this race here along the banks of the Merrimack River.

This pre-race luncheon was just the start of a wonderful weekend in Manchester which included time doing book signings, television interviews and so much more. Manchester reminded me a lot of my hometown and the Salt-of-the-Earth people from this town and surrounds areas helped even more. My perspective, upon moving to Salt Lake and the wide expanses of desert and long stretches of highway has definitely warped my sense of what is and is not "close-by". I would ask people if they were from Manchester and they would laugh as if they came from some far away land to be here for the race. then I would find out they were all of 45 minutes away. Heck, I drive that far for dinner sometimes in Utah.

Coupled with the rather late start at 8:50 AM and falling back from daylight savings time, I had plenty of rest and sleep the night before the race. I hope that this would allow me to get a nice little sub-3 hour time here in my first New Hampshire marathon. (But not first race. Back in 2007, my friend Kate and I competed as a team of two against other teams of 8 in the Lake Winnipesaukee Relay.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Team Brandon

This past weekend at the Marine Corps Marathon I had the good fortune to cheer on a good number of friends and acquaintances. One in particular really stuck out. I had thought about mentioned Ted and Brandon Kucowski in the previous blog but decided they deserved their own little spot.

The social networking sites all around us are allowing people to become friends with people they have never (and in some cases may never) meet. There are obviously pros and cons to this which is not the point of this post. The point is to talk about a pair of fellas I met online named Team Brandon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

103rd Marathon Looms

As I approach my 103rd Marathon at the Manchester City Marathon, in New Hampshire, I shake my head at two things:

1. How, 100 marathons ago, I was lining up for, what was in my head, my LAST Marathon.
2. How, I still have not done as many marathons in the rest of my entire life combined (not counting 2006), as I did DURING 2006!

A few months ago I was planning on being elsewhere this weekend. I had the registration form all filled out for the Javelina Jundred, which I wanted to be my redemption race for needing to bow out at mile 87 of my first 100 back in 2007, at the Old Dominion 100. Something stayed my hand on sending in the registration form, and then when I had the run in with the left bumper of a car in August, the rest of my year was throw all a kilter. Could I have still run this 100? Sure. Would it have been in a time far less than I would have wanted it to be? Definitely.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon Weekend

It is rare when I am at a marathon, or nearby and not running it. In fact, a brief thinking backward has me recalling only three such instances.

1. Drake Well Marathon 2009 - I was the race director
2. Potomac River Run Marathon 2008- I was helping run the race
3. Women's Olympic Trials 2008- I am neither female or an Olympic hopeful (expect for in the strictest definition of the word "hopeful").

However, even though the MCM remains one of my most favorite marathons ever, I was not going to be running it this weekend. I knew I would be stretched thin in the week prior to the race doing many other things previously mentioned HERE and with 6 straight marathons on the horizon I had to decide to not run the race. Probably a very good decision but I sure would have loved to run my 5th MCM.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Review of My Book Review

I was recently informed by one of the creators of website that my book, See Dane Run, had been reviewed on his website.

He then went on to say that the review wasn’t exactly favorable. To be honest, I relished reading it even more because of that. Why? Am I masochistic? Nope. As much as I thoroughly enjoy hearing how much people have enjoyed my book or have used it for their own inspiration, I am always wishing to improve myself and my writing. Granted there is nothing I can do to "fix" a book already in print but I can most assuredly learn from constructive criticism.

So, below is the review in its entirety (in italics) with not only my responses to some of the critiques but also some of the responses my fellow readers gave as well, after reading his review.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Marathon Makeover Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 20th Edition
505.3 miles raced in 2009

Race: Marathon Makeover Marathon
Place: Jackson, MS
Miles from home: 1803 miles
Weather: 40-60s; cloudy to clear

My Comeback From Injury Train had its next stop in Jackson, MS at the Marathon Makeover Marathon.

After an especially turmoil-filled week for me personally, I was happy to touch down with my hosts for the weekend on Thursday afternoon. Friday morning, after appearing on the Marathon Makeover show on SupertalkFM, I headed over to the expo to sign books for all the wonderful people here to challenge themselves at either the 13.1 or 26.2 mile distance. After this I headed to the Jackson Street Fair to give a speech and provide some inspiring words for the people gathered. A hearty flock were there but even with a heathly ego, I know that while most might have enjoyed my talk, they were eagerly awaiting the announcement following my speech. That announcement? Which person would win a brand-new car!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Note of Thanks

I am very fortunate to receive a great deal of email and letters from people I have met on my travels. I would say 99.9% of them are extremely positive. Without a doubt I know I have my detractors and I am fine with that. I remember all of the people who send me missives but every once in a while, one really stands out. This time it was from a woman named Ginger.

You might be automatically thinking of Ginger from Gilligan's Island, and I have a feeling in her day, this Ginger would have rivaled the other's for beauty.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Long Beach Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 19th Edition
479.1 miles raced in 2009

Race: Long Beach Marathon
Place: Long Beach, CA
Miles from home: 703 miles
Weather: 60-70s; cloudy to clear

56 whole days between marathons. A car accident which messes up my shoulder. Fifteen or so extra pounds around my waist. These are not things which I am used to having to deal with. But life really doesn't care much what your plans are.

That said, what this marathon was for me was the first of my new century of marathon running. Number 101. The beginning of getting back into shape. I had told people who asked what I thought I was going to run that I was either going to run a 3:04 or a 3:06. Why? Because I felt I was in shape for that sort of running and I chose those two particular numbers because I have never run a marathon time equal to that. That was good enough reason for me!

I was once again one of the featured speakers at the Expo prior to the race and once again got to enjoy speaking to many runners and their families. I always enjoy the fresh outlooks and insights from runners who wish to share their experiences with me. The rest of expo went very well with many others coming to tell me that they had really enjoyed my book and were inspired by it. One guy "blamed" me for his current obsession of running a half marathon every month this year after reading my book in January! I love being blamed for that sort of thing. If I am partially responsible for the slightest improvement in someone else's life, that is a darn good thing.

I also got to hang out with a plethora of friends and other random nice people.

After two enjoyable but long days of working the expo, I had to grab a quick dinner, hit the showers and try to fall asleep early, something which I really cannot do. Fortunately, I was in one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on and around 11 pm or so, I turned out the lights for nappy time.

First 10k: 7:06, 7:02, 6:50, 7:08, 6:58, 7:06: (43:35)

As my hotel was situated rather close to the start of the race, I was very pleased to wake up at 6:15 AM for the 7 AM start. I know this is impossible for other people, but I needed my damn sleep. Signing books and talking to people for two straight days at the expo is deceptively tiring, especially when I have to answer questions like: "Will this guy be here to sign his book?" and "Well you could not have possibly...

1. been employed
2. not been sponsored
3. ran real marathons"

I got to the race with about 7 minutes before the start, listening to a very nice Star-Spangled Banner and then tried to weave my way through the crowd. I knew that with my projected time and what the race results had been last year, I should have about 45 or so people finishing in front of me. Too bad the Spartan-phalanx of nearly-locked armed runners had more or less made it impossible to scoot to the front. Right before i figured I might just drop to my hands and knees and crawl, I ran into my friend Sam and his wife Tiffany who was going to be shooting for a Boston-qualifying time.

Unfortunately for Tiffany, she had been sidelined by injury as of late and getting the time she wanted would be a tough row to hoe. We spoke for a while and I made as many jokes as possible to lighten the mood so she would not be quite as nervous.

Soon the gun was fired and we were off. I spent the first few miles simply dodging runners (and to be clear, not all were out of place- some were half-marathoners as well) and just trying to feel out my body. In the crowd in front of me and all around me were the usual menagerie of runners.

Newbies: wearing their bib number on their back.

Californians: wearing long sleeves and gloves because it was 64 degrees.

High school/ College jocks: wearing knee-length, mesh basketball shorts and a cotton t-shirt.

Running at this pace was different. I was not trying to set a new PR and I wasn't trying to pace the 3:10 group as I have done so many times. This was a pace, somewhere in between; one I was not used to running and felt quite odd. Throw in my shoulder injury and everything else and getting a nice pace going was difficult.

To the Half: 8:37, 6:52, 5:49, 7:05,7:15, 6:56, 7:22 (1:33:01)

But I knew for damn sure I did not run a 8:37 at mile 7! This was the first of just a few markers that were slightly misplaced, but I told everyone not to the worry. The finishline is in the right place and that is all that matters. I had begin running with an above 50 year-old man named Bill who would become my companion for the vast majority of the rest of the race. We would gain or lose new members to our little group but Bill and I chatted, shared stories and just enjoyed having the company.

We had also acquired as company a few other runners including one of the top female runners named Bonnie. Shooting for anything "under 3:10" we told her we were on about a 3:04-3:06 pace and we would love her company but she was welcome to slow if she wanted. She did not for quite some time and we were pleased. I also saw a fellow Big Cat Member, Steph, who has lost a ton of weight since I saw her earlier this year. Thanks for the photo, Steph!

As the course looped around and did a few out and backs, we were able to see both runners behind us and ahead of us. This allowed me to see more than a number of friends and acquaintances and I had a blast saying hello to all of them. I continued to crack jokes, offer advice and keep the minds of the runners around me off of the task at hand. Bonnie quipped right before the halfway turn-around: "Can we pay for this humor?" I usually assume people want to pay me to shut up.

20 miles: 7:08, 7:12, 7:16, 7:15,7:19, 6:48, 7:07 (2:22:22)

When a few mile markers are off the mark, it always makes you wonder a little bit if others are too, especially when you seem to be running a little bit slower than expected. Granted I was expending energy dispensing advice and feeling sort of like a mother duck with my herding, but I did not think that my miles had slipped as much as the did after hitting the halfway point.

Around 18 miles, as we entered the Long Beach College campus, we encountered some of the biggest hills of the course. As we passed by an awesome pyramid structure, Bill and I powered through the biggest of the uphills and created a gap between ourselves and the rest of our little group.

A downhill mile a few minutes before 19 allowed us to stretch our legs a little and run a rather quick 6:48 (which we again questioned because of not knowing about the mile markers)

Bill mentioned he wanted to leave nothing on the course today and I replied I was running no faster than I planned so if he needed to jet, he was on his own today. He said he would wait until mile 22.

Last 10k: 6:51, 6:59, 7:27, 7:05, 7:03, 6:55, 1:41

He waited until mile 21. as he began to pull away, I was really happy to see him turning it on. One of the gentleman who had been running with us earlier, Craig, had caught up to me and began to pull away as well. Craig and Bill apparently will swap age group wins often and I wondered if it would be be another battle.

As we hit the last two hills at mile 23 and again mile 25, I was able to catch up to and pass Craig. Changing my pace not much at all, I only cared about the 3:06 time.

I could tell when I hit mile 25 that I had it and just kept going. Bill stayed in sight as we both passed runners who were faltering on this deceptively humid day. Soon after mile 25, some girls at the ClifBar tent were hula-hopping. One got out of control, went careening into the runners and lo and behold, ended up wrapping itself around my legs.

I was able to get out of it rather quickly without breaking my neck but the look I gave the girl would have melted diamonds. I did not say a single word though. Just the stare. I knew she did not meant to impede but one must use a little common sense! Soon, Craig caught up and passed me as well. I cheered him on and loved the fact that he was doing so. It amazes me sometimes how I am able to turn off my competitive juices when I know there is no point in being competitive. While Craig would not catch Bill in the end he ended up running a stellar 3:06.

With about .2 of a mile left, I was thunderstruck. I had run a 3:06 at Jackson earlier this year. Well, Son of a B*tch! now I knew I had already run a 3:05 and there was no way I was running a 3:04, I just settled back into my stance and enjoyed the downhill finish.

Announcer Rudy Novotny, who has been at many of my races this year was kind enough to announce me coming in and tell people this was my 101st marathon. Thanks a bunch, Rudy.

Three hours, six minutes and 19 seconds after the gun sounded, I put my foot on the finishline. Earlier in the day I had been reminded that my finishes at Surf City and San Francisco has qualified me for a California Dreamin' Medal. Woo-hoo. Bling me!

I was surprised how many others were qualifying for this medal and it showed that the Rock N Roll series does not have a monopoly on people wishing to run multiple marathons to enhance their running experience.

All in all it was a good comeback race. I most assuredly have work to do and am hoping the next few weeks will allow me to race my way back into shape. But in the meantime, it was wonderful to get out an experience the wonder that is the Marathon. I am even more glad to announce that Bonnie did hold on and ran a 3:09:50 (gun time) which had Bill (who ran a 3:05 and one of his better times in years, if I recall what he said correctly), Craig and myself all giving her sweaty hugs at the end. Excellent work Bonnie!

Next up for me, the Marathon Makeover Marathon in Jackson, MS! See you there!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Heading Back to DC!

After living in DC for just short of four years, uprooting my life and moving to Salt Lake City, I knew that my visits back to our Nation's Capitol would be less frequent than I would like. However, with some friends going AWOL and my own personal changes happening, it has now been over a year since I have been back to the greater Washington, DC area. But now I am going back with a bang.

First off I will be doing a book signing and fun run at the Georgetown Running Company.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rules, Rules, Rules

Well, the Lakefront Marathon keeps getting unwanted press.

First, Cassie Peller was disqualified as the overall female winner for receiving a water bottle between official aid stations around mile 19 or so. (Seriously?!)

Goebel with the offending iPod (and apparently intricate tattoo work) showing around her midriff.
After initially declaring 2nd place finisher Jennifer Goebel the winner, it was learned that around mile 19 Goebel turned on an iPod to get a little musical boost. Well, while USATF relaxed the rule banning headphones, iPods and MP3 players late in 2008, largely leaving the decision up to race directors, the ban still applies, to the top-end runners competing for USATF championships or prize money. Down goes Goebel! Down Goes Goebel! This leaves Corina Canitz, finishing in third overall in a time of 3:04:20 to actually be declared the winner, for the third straight year, of the Lakefront Marathon.

About the only nice thing about this entire tale is how Canitz donated her winnings to the Jenny Crain Make it Happen Fund. The fund was created to support Crain, a runner who was severely injured when she was struck by a car in August 2007. (Read some of the entries and do your best to maintain a stiff upper lip. I didn't quite make it.)

I seem to be firing on all cylinders lately with my topics. It was just two weeks ago that I wrote about running with headphones. Regardless of my timing, this is an unfortunate set of coincidences. Rules are indeed rules. If you don't like the rules of one race, then you plain and simply do not need to run it. But some rules really are just a tad silly.

First and foremost, not being able to receive aid outside of the designated aid station area (which is what happened to Peller when the water bottle was handed to her away from sanctioned aid stations) is a little silly. While this was the Wisconsin USATF Championship, we must keep things in perspective. Peller's time of 3:02:09 was extremely respectable. But was she in danger of setting the world afire with her blazing speed that day and not being able to test her water bottle for some miraculous substance would cause great harm to the world records? No. She ran a 3:02. Nice time. Not worth the fuss.

How about Goebel? Was she receiving aid via a wireless device that would allow her to sneak up on runners ahead and have an unfair advantage (the original impetus or one there of the headphone ruling)? I doubt it. While her logic may have some merit:

"The rules don’t state that you can’t wear an iPod. I thought it meant you couldn't win any money if you had an iPod on. I’m not asking for prize money. I’m just looking for the time to be registered."

it should not matter. Even if we say the water bottle fiasco was valid, is this really valid as well? And you know I am no proponent of running with headphones so I am definitely not defending her!

The Race Director stated: "These young women were running at an elite level. They really ought to have known what the rules were." First things first. Ignorance of the rules is no defense. If they fouled up and it was against the rules, oh well. But the first sentence speaks of them running at an elite level. Again, the times, all around the 3 hour mark, are very fast and all of these women should be VERY proud of those times. But to be quite frank, they are not "elite". The draconian way in which the rules were enforced is highly unnecessary.

So I guess the moral of the story is that we, as runners, need to follow the rules of the race we are running. And race directors and organizers need to know when shades of gray are necessary and enforcement of those rules should not be so strict in certain cases.

At least, the $500 went to a a very good cause. Here's hoping that not only does Jenny Crain continue to move forward with her progress but that both Peller and Goebel get to taste the victory stand again real soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Facing" Adversity

I am going to clue you in right now. The title of this blog is horribly "pun"y. But you will forgive me when I am through.

I have known my friend Jenni for close to four years now. When I did my 52 Marathons in 52 Weekends, she was kind enough to host me at the San Francisco Marathon. In fact, on the way to race morning in the cab, I saw my very first live hooker! I was so excited that Jenni thought I was going to jump out and ask for her autograph.

In addition to all of this, Jenni is also in a picture that remains one of my favorite of myself of all time. As I am not the most photogenic chap out there, that is saying something!

Jenni on the left and me on in the middle. Duh.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's Like Raaaaiiin on your Running Shoes

So here, just a few days after I nipped a little bit at Alanis Morrisette for creating an entire generation of kids who had no idea what the word "ironic" meant, I am here to praise her. If you did not know, Ms. Formerly-on-You-Can't-Do-That-On-Television (which I adored as a precocious pre-teen growing up in the late 80s) will be running the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon next weekend in Northern California.

More importantly than just another celebrity taking to the 26.2 miles that we all know and love is the fact that she will be raising money for the National Eating Disorders Association. Running for charity is obviously something near and dear to my heart. As such I am always wary when I hear of anyone, especially a celebrity, doing so. However, like it or not, when a "non-runner celebrity" does take to the roads, it is going to raise more money and more awareness than any of us non-celebrities. Which is why I am glad Alanis is running for such a worthy cause and one so completely tied into the sport of running (even if she did not know it to begin with.)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Massive Weight Loss

I am a huge champion of people getting healthier. I love hearing stories about how people have taken to better eating habits, adding more exercise to their life, and have realized the value that they have added to their own lives, and those around them by doing so. In fact, I have posted previously about my cousin Jenn who had lost 80 lbs back in March. Most recently she let me know she had pushed past the 110 lb barrier and keeps up the battle every day. I am extremely proud of her! This took a great deal of willpower and fortitude. I also, at the same time, wished she had never gotten herself into that position in the first place.

The reason I say this is a recent story about a man named Bob Bedord who lost 257 pounds in 30 months without surgery. Leaving the easy" Well, he IS from Wisconsin" jokes aside, something about the article struck me. Let me start off by saying that when I read the article I was impressed and also very happy for him. He did not take the easy way out. He worked hard. He lost the weight and will inevitably have a higher quality of life because of it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October...and Snow?

There is something rather amusing about attending a movie and presentation showing in Park City, UT on the last day if September, wherein the residents have all gathered to speak about how global warming is affecting us all and how the snowfall will continue to decrease each year unless we do something about our habits (none of which I am actually disputing)...when there is a raging blizzard going on outside.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Santa Barbara International Marathon

This is a good week for putting into play my speaking efforts at marathons. This morning I firmed up a deal to be the featured speaker at the inaugural Santa Barbara International Marathon.

For the longest time, Santa Barbara did not exist as a real city to me. Growing up in Pennsylvania and rarely leaving a 50 mile circle from my home, anything on the other side of the country might as well have been on Mars. And Santa Barbara? Well, that was a soap opera. With wealthy people whose lives I did not understand. Now, the first weekend of December, I get to run through the American Riviera and help break in the first marathon run through the streets of Santa Barbara in over a quarter of a century!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Running Routes and Roman Polansky

I often am asked how I can be so up for running all the time. The simple answer is I am not. sometimes I just plain and simply do not want to get out the door. But there is never a time when I come back from a run that I am not happy I went and did it. I feel better, my mood is light and I know I am doing something good for me. And I don't need Scientific American to devote an entire article to whether it really does. Then again, apparently scientific evidence is necessary for some people, like the one who said to me at the Women's Fitness Celebration this past weekend: "You can't be enjoying yourself. I never see a runner smile." To wit I returned: "Do you smile during sex?"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stillwater Marathon 2010

I love irony. Especially when it is used correctly. (N.B. Alanis Morrisette's song "Ironic" is not a good example of that.) Just last week, I posted about Running with Headphones and in that post I had a picture of me running the inaugural Stillwater Marathon. Well just a day or so later, I was able to confirm that I will once again be attending, running and speaking at this fantastic race on the banks of the St. Croix River.

If you missed my recap of the this race, click HERE.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration

Life is funny. After having never been to the state of Idaho before in my 33 years, I have been all over it in the past few months. From book signings to running the Sawtooth Relay solo I have spent a fair amount of time in the Gem State. This past weekend was no exception as I occupied my time as a guest and speaker at the St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration.

As the logo says, this race as been a fixture of the Boise, ID landscape for 17 years. The brainchild of Anne Audain, (the phenomenal New Zealand runner who won more road races during the 80s than any athlete male or female) this race is now America's largest 5K for Women. To be asked to participate in the weekend's festivities was indeed and honor.

A few days before the race, we were treated to a great film about Anne's life. Following her struggled and changes throughout life was both inspiring and uplifting. Meeting Anne and spending the next few days kibitzing about the running world was even more of a treat.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A sunday long run

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I would be going for a long run this Sunday morning. Longer than I ever have before without receiving a medal for doing so. It was quite a different experience for sure.

I have often told friends that now that I have been running for a few years, I will see road signs that point to my intended destination with a certain mileage left somewhere around the marathon distance and I will think: "If my car broke down, I could be there in four hours. In these loafers."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

26.2 Mile Training Run

At the Top of Utah Marathon expo last night I was more than pleased to not only meet some old acquaintances but make new friends. On top of everything else I got to learn about a wonderful organization called 2 Good Legs.

What 2 Good Legs, and more specifically ultrarunner Lorie Hutchinson is doing is running 18 marathons distances in 18 days covering the entire state of Utah from the north to south.