February - August 2004
Between February 21 to August 3, I ran about 20 races, beginning with a 24 minute 5K at the Boca Raton Florida City Center Race. I moved up to 40 to 50 miles a week by the end of January, having just begun running by the end of December. At first my leg hurt where it broke (my right tibia) last August. Now I needed to improve my endurance, then my pace would get faster on my daily run. I did this by doing one longer run (10 mile) weekly and cross training (swimming and indoor cycling). By the end of February I ran a half marathon in 1:36 (7:20 pace) in Hyannis. This race is part of a marathon run over a flat scenic course. Several thousand ran in the cool 45 degree weather. A week later I relayed the final (10K) leg of the Little Rock Marathon in about 40 minutes. This is truly a picturesque course, though challenging course at times. The atmosphere is terrific as the race volunteers and runners share in their journey. This a fine beginner's race, as you will feel comfortable in this moderately sized race with a neighborly feel to it.
I put in several weeks of 55 miles and raced the Germantown Tennessee Half Marathon on Sunday, March 21, in 1:28. It was windy and cool and I ran alongside a fellow at 10 miles who told me he dropped about 100 pounds over the previous year or two by his running. He ran as high as a kite! And, running smoothly ... This is a gentle course out and back with one hill. This race also is ideal for beginners, as it is very low key but well-run by race director Harry Scott. He also brought in Patti and Dan Dillon and Doug Kurtis. Patti is the first American woman to crack 2:30 (New York City in '80 I believe) and held many World and American world records in her 20's and 30's as Patti Catalano. Today she and husband Don have two children whom they home school. Both coach a youngster running club as well.
April 4th I raced in my racing shoes for the first time since last August. I hit 62 minutes at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile in Washington, DC. This is one of my favorite races for the beauty of the course, the city in Spring; and the competition! Also I had run this race many times since the 70's and always want to run well there. I had been doing some 3 or 4 x 5 minute pickups in the middle of 7-8 mile runs and was gaining confidence. I was going to be a runner and a racer again! I did TV commentary on Boston Marathon Day with Joan Benoit Samuelson, as always. The weather was as hot as always. It went to the 80's from start to finish. An ultra-marathon effort was required, with many individuals dropping off. Women's winner Catherine Ndereba showed what she is made of, as did fellow Kenyan Timothy Cherigat, who ran 2:10! He whipped the field.
For the fourth year in a row I raced the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon-Half Marathon, though this year my two-time relay partner, Frank Shorter, had to skip the race due to a calf injury. I ran about 1:30 over the last half of the marathon course. This is a terrific way to get pulled along, by passing slowing marathoners over their final miles. I always feel for their fatigue (having felt it myself) and either run with them awhile and/or offer words of support. Despite Oklahoma being "football country" they're developing a fine marathon well supported by fans, volunteers and race organizers Tom Hill and Chet Collier, whose very existence is predicated on the life affirming qualities and camaraderie marathons bring out in people. Few cities in the U.S. need that more than Oklahoma City; to help understanding of the hate that brought the Oklahoma City bombing into our lives and further the view that violence is not an acceptable method of resolving differences.
A week later I raced near my home in Worcester, MA, in the inaugural David G. Palmgren 10 Miler. David Palmgren was an outstanding family man and civic leader who died young (45) in a car crash. He loved to run around the lake in the park. He had a passion for life, as many runners do. When he died, his family decided to put on this 10 mile race to honor him and contribute to the city's quality of life. I ran hard (63.52) but was whipped by old nemesis (30 years) Larry Olsen by 3 minutes! That's okay. I had defeated Larry over the same course 28 years ago. Best of all this was a family oriented event with kids races, games, music, the post race awards, etc. It was pleasantly low key, which is how I like some of my races. Two days later I flew to Washington, DC for race organizer and world class wit, Jeff Darman's three mile race limited to members of the media, the Congress and other areas of government. Obviously this was a special event and I had the opportunity to meet and run with Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana. Senator Lugar is a devoted long-time runner. Of course, it is one of my pet theories that world peace can be brought closer to reality if the world leaders would run (not for office) with each other. Perhaps we went a step (no pun intended) in that direction ....
That Saturday I ran on an equally important mission to support a friend and his wife as they cope with Multiple Myeloma, a kind of cancer. We ran the 5K on the Charles River in Boston with about a thousand others and raised dollars for research and awareness of this disease. As a competitive runner, once world class, I am always grateful that I can find ways to do "good things" with my running. Sometimes I feel I am running so slow, how can I be this tired? Yet, at events like this one, I feel so energized to say the least.
The next Saturday I found the Ocean Drive 5K in South Beach, Florida. I didn't run very well (18:32) but had a slow start due to a 90 degree right turn 100 meters from the start line. As you get older you are less likely to want to "sprint" into the lead, "a la elbows" so to speak. Especially when most of those runners are bigger than you! Though this unique race was a fundraiser for a local medical center, its uniqueness comes from its participating bevy of models, men and women who look fast. One of them ran ahead of me at the finish, which didn't surprise me as he'd run well in the recent (86 degree) Boston Marathon. Next year's race will be March 5-6; therefore, much cooler than the 90's we faced. Also, more models will be in Miami and most likely to attend the race, said organizer Mark Wachter.
At the end of the month I flew to Wheeling, West Virginia for my annual Ogden 20K (24 I believe) on the Saturday before Memorial Day. This year I passed on the historic 10K from fear of the downhill due to my leg injury, and raced the 5K (in 18:01). This trip was fun as old friends Patti and Don Dillon took part also. Patti set the world record (1:08 I believe) on this course some 20 years earlier! On the other hand, I missed race founder and the only race director till this year, Hugh Stobbs, who had a falling out with the sponsor. I hope he will come back as he has contributed so much to Wheeling and our sport through his love of the event, the city, and the athletes.
I left for my first Bolder-Boulder 10K, courtesy of Runner's Choice specialty running shoe store in Boulder. Store owner Chuck Miller and manager Andrew Letherby (2002 Commonwealth Marathon bronze medalist) arranged a pre-race clinic, book signing and dinner. Chuck dropped me off at the start of their massive (48,000) road race, and 39 minutes later, after finishing in the stadium, we watched the runners come in from above as we ate breakfast. It was a superb Memorial Day ceremony. Race founder Frank Shorter was doing TV after he raced, and we all watched (live and on TV) with fascination as the professional runners left the stadium. We were stunned to see the U.S. three-man team win, defeating the Kenyan men's team and everyone else. I sensed our top runners improving over the last three to four years, and that we have finally given them a bit of support via Team USA (USATF program).
After a non-race weekend, I flew to Green Bay, Wisconsin for the Bellin Run 10K. I won this race in '88 or so and had returned several times to enjoy the friendliness of the people at the pre-race pasta dinner, the fast out-and-back course and meeting with some of the past winners who returned. Also, the race officials are among the friendliest I have encountered, and each invited runner is told by these folk of their responsibilities to the race in a clear and undemanding way. I am impressed by Bellin Health CEO George Kerwin, who runs every year, as well as lead race coordinator John Swiecichowksi and his team. I didn't challenge Khalid Khannouchi (he ran 3rd about 29:12) but I won the over-50 in 36:30. So I was pleased. Elva Dryer took the women in 32 minutes ahead of about 6,000 runners.
I flew home and drove to Middleton, New York for the 27th Orange Classic 10K, held on a fine new course with plenty of parking available for the 1,500 runners. This fundraiser for Hospice was a great success; the weather was wonderful, the race went smoothly and so did the awards. I gave out awards thinking sometimes, how did that young teenager beat me? I hit 37:30, a solid double; preparation for the Kona Half Marathon, which. I raced and won in 1:21:27. It has been a long time since I won a race outright, so I was pleased. Actually, the day before I took the 5K too! Please don't alert the media. I enjoyed the half the most for its gentle rolling course by the ocean and through Kona; a deceptively interesting town at ocean's edge. My daughters Elise (19) and Erika (14), sister Linda, husband Vince, and daughter Caitlin (14) joined me as we explored volcanic Kona. This race is not a prize money featured event. Race director John Kunitake is a former jockey, non runner, who grows and grinds Kona's famous coffee. He ran the marathon in addition to his race director duties. The races are sponsored by UCC Coffee, Japan's biggest coffee grower and distributor. I think you would enjoy these races if you want the ultimate vacation after you race. We went snorkeling just out of town and it was stunning. I hope to defend my title in '05.
Like June, July was a whirlwind month. I know many folk who race like crazy now, but it is very challenging in terms of recovery. From HUMIDITY!!! I tried to stay steady at 50+ miles a week. I usually end up taking off my t-shirt halfway through my July and August runs, which I usually run at 10-11a.m. A few times I have to stop and walk/rest a bit in the final miles. I always stop half way for water. July 11th I raced an old favorite of mine and for thousands (ten to be close!) the Utica Boilermaker 15K in 53:10. This is a MAJOR RACE. Big in every way, from fan support along the course to the band at the finish to the competitive field. There are kids races the day before, and several invited runners (Khalid Khannouchi, Frank Shorter, Kathrine Switzer) run with the kids and meet them and their parents after the run. This is one you ought to do!
For 30 years the Quad-City Times Bix 7 Mile has grown and prospered, providing the venue for the Midwest's number one road race starting and finishing in downtown Davenport, IA. I think this may be the quintessential road race. It is hilly-hot-humid. We had to do it. Twenty thousand do it every year to the cheers of some of the best fan support you will find in road racing. To me the Bix and Boilermaker are so alike, so tough but so worth doing. Both produce terrific competitive fields, not just the professionals--I mean local/regional runners and collegians. It was my 25th Bix, more races than any other I have done. This is sort of my hometown race as my dad's side of the family lived in Monmouth, Illinois just over the Mississippi River and my brother Charlie has run Bix many times. This year my sister, Martha (age 55), did her first race, the two-mile Quick Bix, as did my nephew, Charlie's son, Andrew and his wife, Marie. This race stands for hospitality. Race Director Ed Froehlich and his right-hand man Dan Breidinger and their steady long-time band of volunteers kept Bix moving like the River that runs along side it.
See you on the roads!