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.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Random Sports thoughts

* If you haven't seen the video of the little girl throwing the ball back her father gave her at a Phillies game after he mad a heck of a catch of a foul ball, well, then you must not have the internet or watch TV. It has been everywhere. And, it is pretty darn cute.

What I am more impressed with than the dad's catch (or even the heck of an arm on the girl) is his reaction. Fans go to the ballpark for eons without catching a foul ball ever. This chap makes one great stab and plunks a ball from the wall in front of him and then watches it disappear as his little tyke launches it into the stratosphere. After the initial shock of realizing a small piece of history had been tossed away like chum and, according to the girl's (Emily Monforto) father Steve, seeing that Emily thought she did something wrong based on the fans reactions, he embraced her in a hug and could be seen telling her that it was "OK". sure that is what a Dad was supposed to do but I am still impressed. There was barely a nanosecond of regret in his face, captured by national television cameras. Way to go Steve!

* Tom Brady, QB of the New England Patriots has been vilified by some for not stopping to talk to Suzy Kolber, an NFL sideline reporter after the narrow escape over the Bills Monday night. The thing is, while he did not necessarily stop to talk to her, he did not blow by her or ignore her. In fact, if you watch the video you can here him saying something along the lines of "I can't hear you." did he sit down and give Kolber a Monday night Conversation? No. Did he find it a little annoying that she was there when he was trying to shake hands? Probably. But he most assuredly gave her the answer to her questions. I mean, sideline reporters have always been pretty useless as have post-game questions. "What this how you expected the game to go?" "How do you feel about that fumble?" Stupid.

Believe me, when a guy who went to Michigan and who looked like this on draft day:

gets drafted in the late rounds of the draft but ends up winning three Super Bowls and starts dating a girl who looks like this:

I don't need much reason to be jealous and dislike him. But, this Kolber interview not it. Tom did what he needed to do and nothing less.

* I might just lose my mind if the Bears lose to the Steelers this weekend. Just saying. Red Sox and Yankees fans think they know hatred for a team. They are WAY wrong.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back to DC!

Well this must be the week for marathons starting with the letter "M"!

With so much going on, I am having trouble keeping up with all the changes lately. I do know one thing for certain: come the last weekend of October, I will be once again back in the greater Washington DC area. this time I will be spending some time with my good friends at the Georgetown Running Company.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Manchester City Marathon

Continuing with the marathons I will be attending, racing and speaking at this fall, I am happy to add the Manchester City Marathon to my schedule.

This race came to me as kismet when an opening presented itself rather unexpectedly on the Halloween weekend. I was emailing with Bill Rodgers (which never ceases to amaze me that I do) and he mentioned that it was a shame we would not see each other until the Mississippi Blues Marathon because he missed me so much and I am the bestest in the whole wide world. Ok, he didn't say all of that, but he did mention it was a shame it would be months until we crossed paths. When comparing schedules, I saw that Manchster fit right into my newly created vacancy of free weekends. Before long, the next thing I know I will be presenting right alongside Bill at this race!

I am happy to be able to not only knock off a state I have never run a marathon in but also to begin working with a race in only its third year. On top of that, I am always impressed when marathons decide to place their race date on the same day as a well-known race, let alone one just a few hours drive away. In this case, I am talking about the monolith of Marathons held in NYC on the same day. Having the chutzpah to say "Screw it, we are going to have our race the same day anyway" is impressive and something I am happy to take part in.

Plus I get to see Bill. Hard to top that, right?

So if you were not fortunate enough to get into NYC through the lottery (or you are not Sean Combs or Katie Holmes) and are looking for a race the same weekend I would highly suggest you take the trip up to Manchester. For whatever reason, flights into this area are relatively inexpensive from places as far flung as Salt Lake City and having passed through the area once when routing a potential race, I have to say that I am excited to return. the weather promises to be pretty danr perfect for a fall race and the views look like hey will be hard pressed to beat.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marathon Makeover Marathon

While the title of this posting may seem to have come from the department of Redundancy Department I swear it makes sense.

This past January, while at the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MI I struck up a conversation with a runner and fellow lawyer named Pam. Pam and I maintained communication over the following months and during that time I was introduced to a program that she is involved with called Marathon Makeover. A 40-week marathon-training and wellness program under the leadership of Mark and Robin Simpson, is in its sixth year helping ordinary people do the extraordinary — train for and finish a marathon!

An unbelievably affordable program, especially given what it will do for people for 3/4 of a year, I was immediately enamored with the idea and wanted to support it. Due to lots of creative thinking and hard work, I am happy to announce I will be doing just that this October at the 1st Annual Marathon Makeover Marathon! With a book signing and a running of the Marathon, I hope to inspire as many people as possible to take on this wonderful sport that I so love.

As many of you have heard and I am sure Mississippians (?) are tired of hearing, the Magnolia State is the country's fattest state. But with the Mississippi Blues Marathon's continued growth and its title sponsor of Blue Cross Blue Shield promoting good health and good eating coupled with this new marathon and program in 4 cities in Mississippi, the commitment is there to end that trend. I applaud those in the area and am proud to be part of their hopeful resurgence to health and well-being.

In addition, I may also have the opportunity to meet, speak and exercise with the Mississippi Heat Triathlon Club. I will have more details about this as it develops!

It is hard to see, with so many fit people in just the greater Jackson area alone, how the battle to beat the bulge will not succeed! So get out there and exercise Mississippi and I will see you often in the upcoming months!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Little Grand Canyon Half Marathon Recap

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

Race: Little Grand Canyon Half- Marathon
Place: Huntington, UT
Miles from home: 140 miles
Weather: 50-80s; clear skies

Let's play Racing Jeopardy!

Answer: By eating an entire Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready pizza all by yourself the night before the race.

Question: How does one win either a marathon or a half marathon at the Little Grand Canyon Day of Races (I invented this name)?

Yep, for the second straight year, the night before the Little Grand Canyon Marathon and Half I devoured every slice of an entire pizza, barely stopping to taste it. Last year this was almost folly. This year I did not care. Why? Well, I was not competing in the full marathon but simply the half-marathon. And as I was injured I wasn't expecting much. But this is getting a tad ahead of myself.

When I ran the Little Grand Canyon Marathon last year I mentioned to many how nice and beautiful the second half of the course was and how I would love to run it as just the half. The problem is, when I go to a race weekend and am able to run, chances are pretty darn good that I will choose the marathon option to the half marathon one. (Considering I have run 11 half marathons in my life and 100 marathons, I think the numbers illustrate my point). So in my continual effort to always look on the bright side of life, I used my car accident and subsequent injury as away to see my friend Lisa Smith-Batchen last weekend and to run the Little Grand Canyon Half this weekend.

Packet Pickup
I had a little table set up next to the packet pickup and for two quick hours got to spend time signing books and getting to know the runners of the race. As always there was the usual assortment of first time runners with their own inspiring stories as to why they were taking on the task of the 10k, half-marathon or marathon being offered. I got to spend a good deal of time speaking with the organizers of the Mammoth Marathon series of races and really enjoyed getting to see them again. Stand-up fellas these guys are, and runners to boot who know how to put on very fine races. it is amazing that this is only there second year of existence with these races!

After the pickup was over I went back to my hotel room and got completely entranced watching the History channel which had a riveting series on September 11th. Footage from dozens of people who were in lower Manhattan that day was spliced together chronologically. As I inhaled my entire pizza (even after having had Taco Bell about three hours prior) I could not stop watching. We all obviously know of the horrific events of that day but I think it should be required viewing to watch these videos every year to remember exactly what it was like. I had so many thoughts coming back to me about that day. How beautiful of a late summer day it was and wondering how much worse it would have been if it has been a cold and deary day marked with rain (Or would the rain have deadened the dust cloud that covered Manhattan that day? Not sure.)

I finally forced myself to turn off the TV and fell asleep around 1:30 AM. Not too brilliant with a 5 AM wake-up call.

Race Day:

I knew this course and knew that it was mostly a downhill course. But I also remembered it was not exactly the easiest course out there. The footing was solid but definitely not the fastest one could run on. The elevation had us starting at a place where even when it is flat it can be a little hard to breathe. But it was a beautiful day and I was ready to run. I had no idea what to expect from my body so I just decided to roll the dice.
Miles 1-3: 6:31, 6:50, 6:51
As with all of the Mammoth Marathon races, the miles are counted down backward. So after the first .1 of a mile has gone by, runners will see "Mile 13". It is an interesting way to go about posting the miles and I really enjoy it. The first marker seemed to be a little off from where we started the race (meaning the .1 was a smidgen too long) but every subsequent mile seemed to be spot on.

Even with all the actual possibilities of running fast in this race against me, I was curious how fast I could run. When the first mile came in a time of 6:31 and I felt like it was about 30 seconds fast at least, I knew today was no day for a PR.

The first few miles were spent feeling out the competition. Myself, and some fellas named Steven, Patrick, Brad, James and Joe, were in the main pack. Brad and Patrick separated themselves from all of us and within a few miles Brad separated himself from everyone. He was on a tear and was just motoring down the road. I smiled inwardly as the first few miles had us run past a long straight section which I had used last year to try and see what the guy behind me in the marathon was made of. To quote:

Around mile 11, the chap behind me (I would later learn his name was Bronson Dameron) had shed his sweatshirt and hat and was still roughly 35 seconds behind me. We then hit a very flat and very straight section of the course. Here, with almost nothing around to pinpoint pace, I would make a surge every telephone pole and then back off for two telephone poles. I hoped the surge would be unnoticed by the runner behind me and before he knew it I would have put a few more seconds between us. However, at the next right angle, he had gained ground! Well, crap!"

There was no such need for these tactics this early in the race on this day but it brought back a good memory.

Miles 4-7: 6:48, 6:32, 6:22, 6:38

As we jockeyed for position in the first few miles my breathing was erratic and my ribs were far from ideal. My shoulder only ached for about a mile or so and then slipped silently into the no pain zone. That was pleasing to say the least. However, with my miles being on pace to just have me breaking 1:30, I was none too pleased with my effort. However, as we neared mile 4 I seemed to finally settle down a bit. As James, Steven and I would alternately lead and then fall back it felt like it was a chess match of sorts. All of a sudden my breathing seemed to get under control, my ribs hurt less and I put on a surge.

I separated myself first from Steven, and then James. Joe and I ran together for about a quarter of a mile until I sped up a little bit again. Soon, I was in sole possession of third place with only Patrick in sight. Brad was quickly becoming a speck on the horizon.

However, as the sun began to illuminate the cliff walls of this fantastic beautiful scene, my energy level seemed to pick up. I began closing in on Patrick (who took 5th in the marathon himself last year) and soon was running in his shadow.

Miles 8-9: 6:29, 6:52

I exchanged a few words with Patrick and then in proper racing smarts did not allow him to stay with me as I passed him. This little spurt of speed also put Brad in sight for the first time in miles. I began using markers to see how far he was in front of me. He passed into the shadow of that big boulder now and then...55 seconds later I passed into that shadow. He went over the cement culvert ditch now and then...40 seconds later I did the same. I had somehow reeled Brad in and while he looked strong I knew it was only a matter of time that I would catch him.

Miles 10-13 6:44, 6:51, 6:40, 6:40

Right before mile 9 I was able to saddle up next to Brad, a really nice South African fellow who I got to spend time talking with after the race and shared a few seconds running with him. "I went out too fast!" is what he said to me as I appeared on his right shoulder. "Looks like that might be the case!" I replied. I then informed him that Patrick was about 100 yards behind us and then no one else for a long way. So just hold onto this pace and you have a guaranteed third.

Over the next few miles I could see that I wasn't going to be challenged for the win. I really began to take in the view around me and just enjoy every second of it.

My thoughts once again gravitated to my grandparents. For whatever reason, I had forgotten that the next day was Grandparents Day. If you have read See Dane Run, you know how much my grandparents, who have both passed, mean to me. You would know what amazing event transpired on Grandparents day during my 52 Marathons. And if you read my posting about the Little Grand Canyon Marathon last year, you will know how happy I was to win a Marathon on that same holiday to honor them both. Well, here I was again about to win my first half-marathon ever and lo and behold it is on Grandparents Day weekend.

I spent the last mile of the race alternating thinking about Bette and Jim (my grandparents), conversing with a very friendly sheriff who was leading me into the finish in his SUV (and kicking up dust around me at the same time) and just soaking in the good rays of a Saturday well spent.
Before I knew it, I was crossing the finishline in a time somewhere around 1:28. Darn near a full 10 minutes slower than my half-marathon PR it was still super sweet. I was presented with a fantastic overall award (pictured below) to bookend an equally special award from the previous year.
Patrick would finish behind me a little while later with Brad indeed taking third. When the marathoner winner came in to claim victory around 3:10 it meant I was fortunate enough to keep the course record I set last year on this course and also set a new course record in the half.

As I told many, including second place overall female finisher Lisa Boshard (who was not super pleased with her time or her placing given that she succumbed to the overall winner with about half of a mile to go) while these times may not be our personal bests, you only need to race who shows up on race day.

Final results:
1. Me...............................1:28:29
2. Patrick Clifford..........1:29:44
3. Brad Gayle.................1:32:26
4. James Ross................1:34:03
5. Steven Jones.............1:34:35
6. Joe Berman...............1:35:09

So I will take my two course records, new friends made and big old slab of rock along with many smiles back to Salt Lake and be happy. If you are fortunate enough to have your Grandparents with you today, take the time to tell them how much they mean to you.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy to be running 100 miles in North Carolina

That was close.

Ever since my first and only (so far) DNF (that's "Did Not Finish" for you not too familiar with running acronyms) at the Old Dominion 100 miler (I had to call it a day at mile 87. Ugh. That said, I still wrote the definitive course description HERE and hope that if anyone has anything to add, they let me know), I have been itching to get back to the 100 mile plateau.

I thought I had some potentials lined up for this fall but small shufflings of dates made me run into problems with conflicts of previously arranged speaking engagements and some 100s I really wanted to do. (See, all those who think I am lucky? I miss out on just as much as I get to do!)

So, as I plotted and planned the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run loomed as something I very much wanted to do. I wanted to get that first 100 miler under the belt and I thought it would be best to (hopefully)(I am using a lot of parathenticals in this post. Not sure why) get a fast 100 under my belt as well. They don't get a whole lot fast, as least trail-wise, then Umstead. The problem was way back when I had the desire to sign up earlier this year, I had to wait until September to even enter the fast-filling, first-come, first-serve online registration. So I waited months and months and then the night before the registration opened (which I had completely forgotten about- it always seemed forever away) I received a reminder email. Well, good thing.

I did get int bu the 200 slots fo the 2010 Umstead 100 mile race filled up in 5 minutes in 25 seconds! Holy Crap. People are begging and pleading and clamoring just for the chance to run 100 miles. I take solace in times like these when my more sedentary friends feel I am a lunatic for wanting to do what I do. At least there are more lunatics out there now right?

me and fellow OD runners which I got to be in 2nd place until mile 87 in 2007.

Just as a winking nod to further events to be announced soon, this 100 miler will be my warm-up for an event to be coming about a month later. But that doesn't mean I will not be taking this event very seriously. I am not saying I am going for the win but I am not saying I won't be NOT going for the win either if it is there!

If you made it in like I did, I am looking forward to running through the trails of North Carolina with you and sharing this wonderful bonding experience. See you in March!

Caster Semenya declared hermaphrodite


You do not need to be a runner to care about the social, ethical, and moral coincidences of the saga unfurling before our eyes regarding the South African gold-medalist Caster Semenya, 18, who reportedly has both male and female organs. If you are not up on this story, Semenya absolutely crushed the rest of the field in the 800 meters in recent events by such shockingly wide margins that usually she would be on the cover of all the magazines because of her stellar efforts. Unfortunately, Caster looks like this: And just about everything else about her seems to smack of traditionally “masculine” characteristics (including her voice.) This has drawn into play the difference between sex and gender, how athletes who may have had a sex change should be viewed in the world of sports, and a plethora of other issues that have just a modicum amount of precedence to allow most of us to even begin to form an opinion. Of course that doesn't stop most people! That said, I look at this from a variety of standpoints:

1. It is unfortunate that running must have such a "scandal" in order to get actual airtime on mainstream sports sites like this article in ESPN but at least it is on ESPN!

2. This is FAR bigger than running and allows us to open new airwaves of communication about what is male and female and which should be allowed to compete in which sport.  Furthermore, should we create a third category for those who fall in between the accepted standards for each gender?

3. Is this both racist and sexist as the South African government has claimed? Regardless of what happens, you do have to feel sorry for Caster. Without a doubt she has had no choice in how she was made and is only doing what she can with what she has. Unfortunately, what she has may be much more than those she competes against. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

AIDS Orphans Rising

In the Teton races this past weekend, I had the fantastic privilege to meet Sister Mary Beth Lloyd who I spoke about in brief HERE. While I did not get to spend nearly as much time as I would have liked with Sister, I was tocuhed when she gave me a copy of her book Aids Orphans Rising.

Now, I have done plenty of book and product reviews here but 99% of them have been in the running realm. This time, I felt there was nothing wrong with doing a review of a book BY a runner even if it had little to do with the sport itself.

The book focuses specifically around Child-Headed Households (CHH) formed by those orphaned after AIDS related illnesses have left the children parentless. It is a sad state properly illustarated by numerous statistics and facts that show how these child live, eat and survive. Unfortunately, the answers are usually inthe open, very little and not very long respectively. It is an eye-opener that in this day and age so many suffer so greatly.

As 100% of profits from this book go to help CHH I suggest you take a minute out of your day to get your own copy at Barnes and Noble HERE or get the Kindle version off of Amazon HERE. then, if you are lucky enough to have both parents still around you, take a second to call them and tell them you love them.

Little Grand Canyon Half Marathon

A year ago I had the honor and pleasure to be the winner of the inaugural Little Grand Canyon Marathon in nearby Price, UT.

The start of 8 consecutive weeks of racing (including 5 marathons, 2 halfs and a 12 day race), I had no idea what to expect out of the race. But I was able to pull out the victory, and experience one heck of a site. In fact the pictures are so beautiful from that race, that one of them has been the header for my blog for almost a year now. Here is another one.

Happy to see the end and no longer fearing the possibility of being passed!

I had every intention of defending my title as winner until my recent run-in with a vehicle while training. As such I had no idea when or if I would be racing at all in September. Fortunately, my healing has been going along smoother than expected and while I will not be able to race the full marathon, I am extremely pleased to be running the half marathon in its place. As the real gem of this entire marathon is the second half, I think I have made a wise decision. You can see from the elevation profile of the marathon (the half starts at the halfway point), that this is indeed my type of race!

I am also happy to announce I will be signing books at the packet pickup for the race itself. The organization which puts on the Little Grand Canyon Marathon is called Mammoth Marathons and they put on top-notch smaller marathons. It is my pleasure to be working with them again and I hope to be at many of their events in the future.

So if you are in the SLC area (or anywhere for that matter!) and are looking for a beautiful and fast half, come join me this Saturday!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Grand Teton Races Weekend Recap

For over three years I have cultivated a friendship with someone I have never met. In this day and age, this is hardly that odd but it is still not ideal. So, trying hard to always look at the bright side of things, when the accident I had a few weeks ago put me on the shelf and kept me from going to the world Aquathlon Championship in Gold Coast, Australia, I realized that the free weekend would allow me to actually meet my friend.

That friend is the well-known ultrarunner Lisa Smith-Batchen. The weekend in question was Labor Day and the reason for the meeting was the Grand Teton Races. A trail marathon, a 50 mile race and a 100 mile slugathon were what highlighted the weekend. It is always difficult to be at a race weekend and not race but even though I had begun running again a week ago, I knew I was in no shape to try any of the races here.

Lisa invited me up to do a book signing and soak in all that happens during a race weekend. There was no better place to do so then just over the Wyoming border in the shadow of the Teton mountains. I had the pleasure of being the house guest of the Moeller family with the matriarch, Patricia attempting her first ever marathon. Quite the race to do so given the starting elevation, terrain to be crossed and changes in elevation throughout the course. But with Lisa as her coach and the fire I could see in Patricia’s eyes, I knew this would be a successful race. (and in her first marathon ever, Patricia proved me right by almost breaking the 4 hour barrier in a phenomenal 5:01:27 for 7th overall and 3rd woman!)

The weekend brought me to meeting tons of new people and getting in touch with plenty of old friends. Bryon Powell, a running friend from DC was on hand to pace a friend of his through parts of the 100 mile race. Bryon is another lawyer who has decided that the courtroom did not bring neither as much justice as the footfalls of dirt and road under feet do and has left the greater DC area to seek running solace near the Yosemite National Forest. The creator of the highly read iRunfar blog, Bryon is also quite the accomplished runner in his own right. It was great to catch up with him after many moons of not being in the same place at the same time.

I also had the pleasure to spend more than a few moments with Sister Mary Beth Lloyd who is the inspiration for Lisa’s fundraising projects and also her godmother. On top of that, she is an ultrarunner as well. Competing in full habit, Sister Mary Beth successfully eluded me most of the race as I tried to catch up to her to lend a hand in her racing efforts. It seemed every time I would finish helping someone through a small portion of the race, and then scamper back down to find her, she had already skedaddled off onto the trail to crush another part of the Tetons! With her father Buddy on hand to lend a hand and cheer, this dynamic duo were enough to inspire anyone. Sister Mary Beth would go on to run nearly 2 hours after than she had previously on this tough 50 miler!

Lisa and Sister Mary Beth in Badwater.

I am sure Sister Mary Beth who blush or wave her hand as such words but I know I was not the only one who realized how much more we can do with our lives if we just make the effort. Called by some the “New Age Sister Theresa”, Sister Mary Beth received the “Servitor Pacis Award” from the Vatican’s Mission to the United Nations for her work with AIDS orphans in June 2008. The “Path to Peace Award” is given annually to the one person in the world who most exemplifies the work of those who have dedicated their lives to helping the neediest among us.

Now I mentioned I was doing a little bit of pacing and this was completely off-script. At one point, Lisa mentioned that one of the runners she was coaching was having some difficulty and probably could use someone to give her a little pep as she climbed the 2.7 miles from the main base camp of the course (which featured many separate loops to bring runners back to the starting point) to the Fred’s Mountain the highest point on the course at 9,840ft. I was only happy to oblige as I had been itching to help out all day and here was my chance. The runner I had the pleasure of hiking up the mountain with was named Sarah Thomsen and I could see that she had the energy to keep going but that her ankles were hurting her fiercely. As some bandaged up her feet, I played with her shoes a bit and employed some shoelace-tying technique to try to not only relieve pressure of swollen feet but also help support the ankle. Then away up the mountain we went.

Living in Texas, Sarah was not quite used to these mountains or this elevation but gamely pressed on. As we neared the summit (where I would hop on a ski lift and scoot back down to the bottom to try and catch Sister Mary Beth) her paced quickened and her ever-present smiled broadened. We caught up to another runner also doing the 50 mil event names Angela Autry who was also from Texas. Soon the two ladies were chatting away and their pace quickened even more. While I could tell Sarah was hurting (as was Angela) I knew that as a three-time Ironman finisher, Sarah would be able to push herself as far as intelligently possible to finish. And if the time came to withdrawal she would have the smarts to do that as well. I left Angela in her capable hands when we reached the top and one sweaty hug later I was whisked to the bottom.

As I mentioned, I missed Sister Mary Beth but was asked to crew the women’s leader in the 100 mile race for a 14 mile loop. As much as I sorely wanted to, I knew I was not in the condition to do so. With the sun setting and my ribs and shoulder still healing, the last thing I needed to do was hurt myself when I was supposed to be helping. What made the decision even harder to make was that the leader, Ashley Nordell, was a girl I had met a few months prior when I had been running through the Backbone trail with my friend Jimmy Freeman when he was doing a 70 mile run for the heck of it. Ashley had run with Jimmy for a large portion of the first part of this trail and we had met and chatted for a few miles before she had turned to end her running day after some 30-odd miles or so. But I feel I made the best decision for all involved and loved that Ashley finished not only first woman but second overall in the entire race with a time of 23:03:39!

I has the pleasure to run into another running friend from DC, Kira Matukaitis who I had not seen in years as well. Pacing Sarah up Fred’s Mountain I heard a “Is that Dane?!” and was enveloped in a hug by Kira who finished very strong n the 50 mile event with a time of 16:11:22. Also participating in a very difficult challenge was another internet running friend, Tony Portera who not only did the 50 miler on Saturday but turned around and did the trail marathon the next day!

Everywhere you turned there were tales to just make you shake you head at what an amazing thing the human spirit is. Runners of all shapes and sizes competed in the various races. Just two weeks after a third place finish at the ever-difficult Leadville 100 Mile trail Race, Duncan Callahan obliterated the course record in the 50 mile by FORTY minutes in notching a 7:33 winning time. Just amazing.

Also competing in the trail marathon was Jamie Donaldson, who also did Leadville AND was less than a few weeks removed from her second straight victory at Badwater! Jamie was hear to run but also to support her husband who was also competing in the trail marathon.

I also got to spend time talking with Sean Meissner, another heck of a runner who at one time held the Tahoe Triple record. That record included running three marathons on consecutive days, around Lake Tahoe. Averaging under a 3:10 per marathon, at elevation, Sean was one of the people I originally used as inspiration to show that running marathons with very little recovery was possible.

In just a few dozen of runners, the records and accomplishments that surrounded me were absolutely awe-inspiring. It truly made it possible, on a day when I knew there was no real good reason for me to run but very little convincing would have been needed to get me to give the trail marathon a shot, to simply sit back, sign a few books and enjoy the aura that is a race weekend.

I could go on for paragraph after paragraph of all the other stories I heard or witnessed this weekend but I do not think I could truly do all of them justice. I highly suggest you make your way up the Tetons next year or to one of Lisa’s many training camps across the United States very soon. You will see there are no reasons why you too cannot be a truly inspiring story to those around you when you too crush obstacles in your path and achieve the unthinkable.

Thank you to all who made this weekend wonderful. Best of luck to all of you in the races you will be undertaking!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame results

I know many of you who continuously voted for me with regard to the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame to which I was nominated as a Finalist earlier this year have been extremely curious to see if I would be the winner.

Unfortunately, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but I was not selected as the 2009 Winner. As disappointed as I am that your diligent voting will not pay off in a direct way with regards to the money I would have given to L'Arche Mobile, I am hoping that the indirect awareness we all raised will continue to benefit L'Arche worldwide.

Dee Mills, from Masaryktown, FL was declared this year's winner and her program Lea's Prayers & Postage, which funds postage for care packages that are shipped overseas to the U.S. troops is an extremely suitable recipient of this fine award.

Thank you all again, so much, for continuing to support me with your well-wishes and emails and votes. I was extremely flattered by the outpouring of support and the messages I received which said:

"If running Pikes Peak Marathon less than 100 hours after getting hit by a car and severely separating your shoulder is not the definition of 'Keep Going', I don't know what is!"

made me laugh out loud. There will be other opportunities for me in the future and I can only hope you will be as supportive then. Congratulations to Dee and to all the other Energizer Finalists as well. I wish them all the best as they to strive to make the world a better place.