Sunday, April 21, 2013

#RunnerStrong: My thoughts on Boston

Proudly displaying my medal
after finishing in 2011

Walking in the front door after finishing a really great five-mile tempo run. That’s where I was when I heard the news about the Boston Marathon bombings. It was about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday here in New Zealand and 3:15 p.m. Monday in Boston (we have a 16-hour time difference). Before I even had one foot in the door, my husband Karl shouted to me from the living room, “There were two explosions at the finish line at Boston!” He showed me a picture that a friend of his from Boston had tweeted of the explosions. Suddenly the 9,000 mile distance between my home here and my “real home” – Indiana – felt so much farther apart. I’ve lived in New Zealand for about three and a half months now and can honestly say that I didn’t feel homesick one bit until this tragedy occurred. Suddenly I longed to be back in the United States where I could band together with my running friends and heal with them. It’s interesting how a tragedy can make you appreciate where you come from.

I think this is one of those occurrences in which every runner, and maybe even every American, will always remember where they were when they heard the news. Every runner with whom I’ve corresponded since it happened expressed the same thing: it feels very personal regardless of whether they’ve ever run the Boston Marathon. While we might not always feel 100% safe on training runs on the roads or trails or in unfamiliar settings, races are a place where we inevitably feel safe amidst a sea of other emotions. At some point while at a race we’ve all experienced nervous energy, anticipation, determination, joy, disappointment, camaraderie, rivalry, inspiration, victory, defeat…but never terror. Until last Monday. I think that’s why so many of us were so caught off guard by the Boston bombing. A road race was the absolute last place on Earth most of us ever expected something terrible to happen. For me, the fact that this happened at Boston was an especially tough pill to swallow.

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2011 and 2012 and developed an immense love for the race during those two years. Just two days before the 2013 race I told my husband how I really missed being in Boston for marathon weekend this year and decided I wanted to requalify and run it again sometime in the next few years (for the record, I’m aiming for 2016). The Boston Marathon race weekend is absolutely magical; there’s really no other way to describe it. The entire city is flooded with runners and their families and friends. The feeling everywhere is joyous. Runners have put in the hard work, qualified for this historic event, and race weekend is a time to celebrate. Everyone who has ever run the marathon before proudly wears their race jackets from previous years around the city; those with the oldest jackets garner instant respect from passers-by. The expo is packed with people to the point of feeling uncomfortable and claustrophobic, yet it invokes an instant feeling of, “I need to buy as much Boston-emblazoned stuff as possible!” Throughout the entire weekend there is a sense that you might just run into one of your running heroes or one of our sport’s greatest legends around every corner. To put it simply, everything about it is just downright delightful. Oh yeah, and then there’s that little thing called the race: 26.2 miles of fan-lined streets cheering, yelling, kissing (of course I’m referring to Wellesley), chanting, and encouraging, topped off with that oh-so-sweet iconic blue and yellow medal placed around your neck when you cross the finish line. Most people have likely never imagined having such a strong desire to wear a unicorn around their neck, but in Boston it is a symbol of great accomplishment and membership in a very special “club” – you are a Boston Marathoner.

For two individuals to try to take away that feeling from runners seems unthinkable and personally makes me angrier than I can express in words. Nearly a week after they tried to tarnish our beloved Boston Marathon and invoke fear in runners throughout the world, though, it has been nothing short of amazing to view the response from the entire running community – those who ran Boston this year, those who have run it in the past, and those who have never run it. Money is being raised for the victims and their families to help pay medical bills; miles are being run to honor those who lost their lives; people have helped others in ways they might not have even known they were capable prior to this tragedy. It was heartening to hear the stories of runners finishing the race and then running back towards the blasts to help people, or of finishers who ran to the hospital to give blood, or of the Boston residents who opened their homes to stranded runners or gave them food…the stories of “good” coming out of the 2013 Boston Marathon are far, far greater than the stories of “bad.” I doubt the bombers imagined that when they planned their violent attack. Apparently they don’t know very many runners.

I’ve seen a common hashtag used in several social media posts since the bombings - #BostonStrong. There’s no doubt that the city of Boston, its citizens, and its law enforcement officers have been incredibly strong throughout the series of events that unfolded last week. I think, however, the actions of runners around the world in the wake of this tragedy have also made a convincing argument for the creation of another new hashtag – #RunnerStrong. We are united by our common love for running and our mutual respect for anyone who is out there putting in the miles – whether it’s at a 12:00 per mile pace or a 6:00 per mile pace. We are not a group that a couple of cowardly terrorists should’ve messed with because no matter what they did to try to tear us down, we are experts at a little thing called perseverance. We can endure pain like nobody’s business. We will not shy away from running, nor will we shy away from racing. We practically define the word “community.” We are strong and we will move forward.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts, opinion articles, and social media posts about how people feel selfish when they talk about how the Boston bombing felt personal and what it meant to them – as if it isn’t fair that they feel affected by it, and only those who ran the race this year and/or those who were injured deserve to feel so affected. At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, I will quote one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail: “What's so wrong with being personal, anyway? Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.” The fact is, this tragedy felt very personal for a lot of us, and I think the ability to write about our feelings, our experiences, and our emotions is part of what will help the running community heal from the heartbreak we’re all feeling. If you think it will help you, please comment on this post and tell the rest of us what it meant to you.

My name is Andrea Eagleman, I’m 32 years old, and I run to … honor the victims of the Boston bombings and show the terrorists that they haven’t defeated me.

ANDREA EAGLEMAN is one of Perspective's regular columnists. She is a Senior Lecturer of Sport Management at Massey University and holds a PhD in Sport Management from Indiana University. She currently lives in Palmerston North, New Zealand and has been running for close to 20 years. Andrea enjoys various distances from the 5K to the marathon, running the Boston Marathon in 2011 and 2012. She enjoys gymnastics, traveling, blogging, reading, photography, and hanging out with her husband, Karl, and her two cats.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Conversations from a Long Run


We're stealing this idea from The Persistent Runner after our morning's delirious and hilarious long(ish) run...Anyone who has ever trained for a marathon should find it pretty recognizable...

M: "So, it hurt to get Powerade out of the fridge this morning. That might be a problem."
K: (laughing) "Yeah, maybe. My back hurts. And my knee. But not the one that usually does."

M: "Remind me never to run a 5K and 10K the day before a long run."
K: "Yeah, but you were so fast."
M: "You beat me. AFTER you ran 17 miles."
K: Laughing "But you ran a 10K too. And PRd."
M: "I guess. No. That doesn't make sense."

M: "So, tell me a funny story."
K: silence
M: "No pressure."
K: silence
K: "So...I have suicidal squirrels in my front yard."
M: "Um, okay."
K: "No, really. They're jumping from the trees and splatting on my driveway."
M: "Seriously?!"
K: "YES! I keep having to scrape them up off the sidewalk!"
M: Laughing hysterically. "That is disgusting—I think I'd just cry and ask someone else to pick it up."

M: "I think the moon is falling. Seriously. It looks like it's falling, not just setting."
K: "I think it's just setting."
M: "I think my toe is broken and my knee already hurts. Does yours still?"
K: "Yeah, but not the one that usually does. You're right. The moon is falling."

M: "I think I'm just going to continually pretend like I'm running to the next water fountain. For the entire run. That works in my imaginary world."

K: "Ugh. I'm thirsty but I have to pee."
M: "Go in the woods."
K: "No, I'll just hold it."
M: "For the ENTIRE run?!"
K: "Yeah, it's okay."

K: "OOOOO! I forgot my house is right there!"
M: "Or that."
K: (running away)
M: "Okay, just catch up to me! Cause you can!"

M: (running alone)
K: (from behind) "Hi."
M: (screaming with headphones on) "Oh my god, you scared the fucking shit out of me! That was quick."
K: "Yeah, I ran a mile and a a quarter in like 8:18."
M: "What the fuck."

M: "Remind me never to run a 5K and 10K the day before a long run."
K: "Why do you keep saying that? Are you planning to or something?!"
M: "No."

M: "Hey, you know, if we turn around at Second Street, we'll run less. Obviously."
K: "Um, we already passed Second Street."
M: "I meant Sixth. Or something. Whatever. My foot hurts."

M: "I forgot about my happy pill! Maybe that will help."
K: "What's that? Is that the one that starts with C? Creatine?"
M: "No, it's the one that Andrea says helps."
K: "And you don't even know what it is?"
M: "Hmmm...I do, I just can't remember. What's creatine anyway?"
K: "Um, I think it's for body building—so probably not that."

M: (looking at watch) "So, we just need to run 4 miles in 36 minutes and I'll be back in time."
K: "You mean an HOUR and 6 minutes."
M: "Yeah, that...I swear I got a 760 on my math SATs."
K: "I fell asleep during mine."
M: "What'd you get?"
K: "1570. Overall."
M: "Um. Okay."

M: "So, if I can make it back to the car, I can have my big ass 77 ounce Powerade!"
K: "77 ounces?! Isn't that like a half gallon?"
M: "I don't fucking know. Maybe."
K: "Is it fat and short, or tall and skinny?"
M: "It's fat and big."

M: "I hate that these fucking lightposts are numbered. That's just mean of them. Only 19 more fucking posts."
(group of girls quickly run by and say hi)
M: "Fucking fast people. I hate them."
K: "I was just thinking that!"
M: "Only 9 more posts. What the fuck!"
K: "No, they stop at 2 or something."
M: "Maybe in your imaginary world. Shut up."

K: (super fake sweet to those fast people coming back) "Hi!"
M: "My toe, there's that."

M: "Damnit, last water stop!...Except maybe we could sneak into that church. No, I'm gonna puke if I drink anymore water. Probably shouldn't go in there if I'm continually saying fuck."
K: "You'll be okay."
M: "Yeah. No."
K: "Let's ponder that."
M: "Is pondering silent, because I don't think I can talk anymore?..."
K: "Hmmm...I don't know."
M: "Maybe. I'll look it up later."
K: "I think it can be either."

M: "Only a 5K to go. I just want to finish under a 10 minute mile. So...9:59 works."
K: "See!? You ran that yesterday! You've got this!"
M: "Shut the fuck up."

(next intersection)
M: "If we turn right here we'll finish quicker."
K: "Just keep going."
M: "I don't fucking want to. Stop running! No. Stop fucking moving too!"
(K, crossing road)
M: "I said fucking stop moving!"
K: "LOOK, if we run on that road, we're gonna get killed by cars."
M: "There aren't any fucking cars!" (as cars fly past)
K: "Just go."
M: (with headphones on) "Did you call me a bitch?"
K: "NO! It's only a half fucking mile!"
M: "NO! It's a WHOLE mile!"
M: "I hate you."
K: "Come on, it's soft gravel. It's nice!"
M: "In your imaginary world."
K: "You can play hopscotch at the kids section!"
M: "Let the fucking kids play hopscotch. That's too much work."

M: (1/4 mile to go) "Let's just sprint and we can be done with it."
K: "Just shut up and finish!"
M: "I said let's SPRINT, not STOP! So we're done faster!"
K: "Oh, okay."
M: "NO, MY sprint, not yours!"

M: "Sorry I was such a bitch."
K: "Sorry I was a bitch back."
M: "I love you."
K: "I love you too."

M: "I think my toe is broken."
K: "You should get that checked."
M: "Yeah, maybe...As in, I'm calling tomorrow."
M: "I probably shouldn't race before long runs anymore. Or after. Don't let me do that next weekend."

K: (looking at M's watch) "Yay! We finished in a 9:53 mile!"
M: "Yeah, whatever..." (laughing) "My Powerade is 32 ounces, not 77!"
K: (laughing hysterically)
M: "I am soooooo good at math."

M: "So, you're definitely looking forward to running 19 miles with me next weekend."
K: "Yes, I love to run with you!"
M: "Liar."
K: "No really! You're fun!"
M: "Shut up."
K: "I see a foam roller in my future."

Our names are Mandy Clarke and Kari Gillesse, we're 33 and 34 years old, and we run to...finish and train to BQ (guess who's who).

Bios on bio page :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Mistake

I did something really stupid. Don't yell at me...Promise?...Well...

I ran alone. In the dark. At 6:30 in the morning. On a Sunday. I'm a woman.

Please stop yelling.

I'm not gonna tell you who I am, because I don't need the lectures. In fact, the lectures are not required simply because I ran into trouble. And it scared the shit out of me.

6:30 A.M.: I thought I'd be smart and carry a flashlight with me, because most of my worries about running in the dark revolved around my not being able to see and tripping on a sidewalk. I put my phone in my shorts too. In case I fell and broke an ankle or something. I'd need to call an ambulance.

What I didn't think about were the warnings splashed all over facebook, twitter, and the news about the crazy man just out of prison for hacking up a woman's body.

Well, I didn't encounter that particular man. I didn't trip. I didn't break anything. And I didn't get attacked by an animal (another thought that randomly came into my mind while running).

What did happen was that my flashlight called unwanted attention to me as two men drove by in a tinted-window sports car on a completely deserted street. They slowed down as they passed, then stopped in the middle of the road around 40 feet in front of me. I stopped too. And tensed.

I considered running back in the direction of my house, but that was only going to put me in an even more secluded area—at this point, at least I was on a main road. They pulled into a parking lot, faced me, then shut their lights off. The parking lights were still on. Then those went off too. Just staring...

I shut my flashlight off and took off running.

I never looked back, my body racing so many miles an hour more than I knew I was capable of. I forgot I had a phone—which could have been handy in calling the police—so I ran through places I knew a car couldn't navigate very easily. At least part of my mind was still functioning. Through parking lots, down grassy hills, across construction sites. Basically, anywhere I didn't think they could go. I thought I had it figured out and had gotten away from them...

Then I saw them coming from a different direction. They'd circled around. They were clearly looking for me. And they saw me, but I don't think they realized I saw them. Ahead of me, in the direction I was heading, they creeped through a stop sign. I watched through the trees and realized they'd stopped behind them. Waiting. For me. After hiding behind some other trees for awhile, I took off, in another direction towards campus.

Thankfully, the sun came up around that time and I met up with some other runners as planned. It made for an interesting long run story, I suppose. Not one I ever want to tell again.

I was shaken, but fine. Nothing happened to me. I made it to where I was headed, and that was that. But my story could have ended very differently. And I always thought I was a smart person.

My stupidity made me...well, just that. Kind of stupid. Had something happened to me, would it have been "my fault"? I say yes. Some people might say no, that people are just crazy. Would it have mattered? Not at all.

My name is X, I'm XX years old, and I run to...feel alive. So let's stay alive.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Paul Ryan's Faulty Stopwatch: A Runner's Perspective


This is the face of a runner having a very,
very, bad day. According to Paul Ryan's Time
Calculator, though, my 4:10:28 at last year's
Boston was actually a 3:01:35!

By now it is no secret that Paul Ryan lied about his marathon personal record ("PR" in runner-speak). Runner's World first uncovered the lie on Friday when the magazine attempted to substantiate Ryan's claim that he had run a "two hour and fifty-something" marathon, which would've made him the fastest politician to ever run for President or Vice President in the United States. To put a sub-three hour marathon time into perspective, it would place him in the same athletic class as seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who called his marathon PR effort of 2 hours, 46 minutes, 43 seconds "the hardest physical thing I have ever done." Ryan's claim of a sub-three hour marathon would also place him in roughly the top 500 out of the 21,616 runners who finished the Boston Marathon last April.

When questioned about his near-elite performance, Ryan's campaign responded that he had misspoken and actually ran a 4:01:25 in the 1990 Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., the only marathon he'd ever run. Ryan said in a statement, "If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three." Yet he couldn't deny that he told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt he ran it in under three hours, nor could he deny that he gave the impression he ran more than one marathon in his lifetime. It is a recorded interview, readily available to anyone willing to listen or read the transcript.

I was outraged last Friday when I first heard about Ryan's latest lie. Now, days after Runner's World outed him, I'm still outraged. I've heard from some who feel the issue is trivial. "He just forgot his race time," they say. No, he didn't just forget his race time. He told a boastful, bold-faced lie and he got caught. I know because I am a runner and we never forget our times.

I've run three marathons and 12 half marathons. I remember my time from each one. You see, for runners, times are important and PRs are sacred. A runner never forgets his or her PRs. There are a few unspoken rules we runners all respect and live by; a sort of unspoken "runners' code" if you will. First and foremost, never cut a course short. Second, and just as important, never lie about your times. There are certainly instances when we've all wanted to "modify" our times in conversations with other runners. We all have races we're not proud of, races where everything went wrong, and races where we knew we could run just a little bit faster had we executed our race plan more perfectly. But we don't lie. To lie about a race time is to commit a cardinal sin in the running community. Doing so can leave one ostracized for life amongst other runners when we find out. And trust me, we will find out. Race times are typically posted online within hours of a race and runners study them to keep tabs on our competition. Stalking race times on the Internet is another thing we all do but rarely talk about.

Ryan's marathon lie is more bothersome to me than all of the lies he told during his speech at the Republican National Convention. On one hand, it was an act of utter disrespect to runners everywhere who train hard and devote much of our free time to achieving specific running goals, then proudly (or embarrassingly, as was the case for me after a dismal performance at the 2012 Boston Marathon) announce our race times and places to friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, or via text after the race. No matter what, though, we tell the truth. Along with his flippant disregard for runners' hard-earned accomplishments, Ryan's latest act of untruthfulness also provides a true window into his soul and moral character. His lies have quickly become a disturbing pattern of behavior from a public figure revered as one of the most moral and upstanding individuals in the Republican party.

As a society, we've come to expect our politicians to stretch and bend the truth about things like the economy, their opponents, or what they will do once elected. We don't expect them to lie about mundane details of their lives that have absolutely no bearing on their political careers. When Ryan lied about his marathon time with such self-assurance and confidence, he proved just how far down the moral staircase he's fallen. He proved his vanity is stronger than his integrity. Above all, he proved that he is willing to lie about anything if it makes him look better in the minds of the American people. No matter how fast or slow his marathon PR is, though, Ryan can't continue to outrun the truth.

My name is Andrea Eagleman, I'm 32 years old, and I run to...take pride in my running performances no matter how "fast" or "slow" my times may sound to others.

P.S. Some clever folks out there recently created a website called "Paul Ryan Time Calculator" where you can plug in your PRs for various distances and find out what your "Paul Ryan Time" would be. My Paul Ryan marathon time is 2:25:00 and my half marathon time is 1:07:58.

ANDREA EAGLEMAN is one of Perspective's regular columnists. She is Assistant Professor of Sport Management at IUPUI and conducts research on media portrayals of athletes. She lives in Bloomington, IN and has been running for 18 years. Andrea re-entered the world of racing four years ago and enjoys various distances from the 5K to the marathon, running the Boston Marathon in 2011 and 2012. Andrea won the Magnificent 7 Road Race Series Overall Female championship in 2009, 2010, and 2011. She enjoys traveling, blogging, reading, photography, and hanging out with her husband, Karl, and her cat, DC.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Summer of Firsts…and Seconds


For about as long as I can remember, I have been playing sports. It started with soccer when I was in Kindergarten. In fourth grade, I added basketball. In high school, I dropped basketball but joined softball and eventually swimming. Nonetheless, I’ve always been the fat kid. Even now, at 19, I have yet to maintain the “former” as my weight is a constant struggle.

I started college last fall determined to graduate as the thin girl. Well now that’s no longer my plan, but I am determined to graduate as the fit girl. The fall of my freshman year led me to Princeton Rugby. At 5’1” and a weight that I’m ashamed to admit that I hit, I joined a team that would go on to be in the top 16 D1 Women’s Rugby teams in the country. Well, I had definitely signed up for an adventure. I worked with a nutritionist on how to make the best eating decisions. I worked out more and harder than ever before. I was determined. From September to May, I lost almost 50 lbs.

As the season ended, I didn’t want to lose all the progress I had made. I’m one of those people who needs deadlines and tangible goals. I guess you can say that they make me accountable to myself. With my nutritionist (and personal cheerleader—thanks, Victoria!), I set the goal to run a 5K that was eight weeks away in under 45 minutes. I felt like that was a reasonable goal for me. My running was terrible. I couldn’t sprint. I couldn’t run distances. I just huffed and puffed on the field, hoping that the ball would come back towards where I was.

On June 26, I ran my first ever 5K. I had two goals going into the race: to not stop running—at all, no matter how tired I got—and to finish in under 45 minutes. Low and behold, I did not stop running at all (I don’t understand the people who do the whole sprint and then walk thing). Just a few weeks before, I had been doing a sprint workout with a teammate of mine who told me that physically you get the same relief from picking up the pace as you do from slowing down. I don’t know that is scientifically true or if she just put it in my head, but it’s worked for me. And it was exactly that that I told myself throughout the run. When I wanted to give up, and boy, there were multiple points where I did, I just picked up the pace and felt that instant relief. Eventually, I’d find myself slowing down, but I never stopped. And to me that mattered far more. I finished my first ever 5K at 37:26, almost eight minutes under my goal.

I played rugby the rest of the summer. In the last game of the summer, I took a dump tackle that left me concussed. I had to take three weeks off in recovery time. I’d rather take the time off then so that I was sure that I was good for the fall season.

Those three weeks are up. I’m back to running on the daily even though I’m on vacation. I’m feeling good but out of shape. We’re eating terribly, but I really am trying.

I have another 5K coming up. My goal is to be at 34 minutes this time. I know I can do it.

My name is Emilie Burke, I’m 19 years old, and I run what I’ve never done before.

EMILIE BURKE is an undergraduate at Princeton University, concentrating in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs with certificates in Latin American Studies and Portuguese, where she plays Division 1 Women’s Rugby. Emilie’s life-long struggle with her weight is a driving force in her decision to become a more active runner. Her long-term goal is to train for (and eventually run) a half-marathon in the off-season.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Running in Costa Rica


I am living in the small, rural town of Portrero in Costa Rica this summer. Everyone gets up early here, monkeys play in the trees in the morning, there are amazing colorful beach sunsets at night, and I get a friendly ‘buenos dias’ from most people I pass by. Before I arrived, I had grand aspirations of long runs on the beach and finding a deserted road where I could do my own workouts. I thought it would be fun exploring new places and that I would end up running even more than I do in Bloomington because of my plentiful free time here. That’s not exactly what has happened.

What I thought running in Costa Rica
would be like. Some of my runs are like
this but most are far from it.

I am living in the small, rural town of Portrero in Costa Rica this summer. Everyone gets up early here, monkeys play in the trees in the morning, there are amazing colorful beach sunsets at night, and I get a friendly ‘buenos dias’ from most people I pass by. Before I arrived, I had grand aspirations of long runs on the beach and finding a deserted road where I could do my own workouts. I thought it would be fun exploring new places and that I would end up running even more than I do in Bloomington because of my plentiful free time here. That’s not exactly what has happened.

1. I live in a small town with dirt roads with no sidewalks. These dirt roads are incredibly dusty when cars pass by. If I do not get blinded by dust in my eyes, I am quite certain that I might get hit by a car or motorcycle tearing through town. I have run on the roads a few times and while it is easier than the beach, it is also slightly terrifying and not something I am eager to do every morning.

2. There is really nowhere to run. The dusty, dangerous road that I run on sometimes is about a half mile one direction and a mile in the other direction. There is one other road that winds up into the mountain (with incredible views of the coast), but it is pretty isolated, and while I live in a safe town, it’s a little eerie being all alone on a deserted road.

3. There are animals everywhere. Roosters wake me up in the morning and chickens live in my neighbors’ yards (and run around on the roads). Dogs follow me around walking or running and, while most are friendly, I’ve had to stop a few times because a dog has started chasing me.

4. There are also herds of cows that sometimes block the road. The other day I ran behind a group of cows being herded into a pasture and that was kind of fun since they were moving forward on the road. The cows won the race though.

Would you want to run with these guys on the road?!

5. Running on the beach is hard. Really hard. The best beach to run on is still only less than a mile long and running on the sand is tiring. Depending on the tide, the beach is sometimes extremely slanted as well. Coming home from a tiring run thinking I got a decent workout in and finding out that I was running 12 minute miles for less than 2 miles isn’t exactly motivating.

Soft sand, slanted ground, and hot sun doesn't make running
on the beach as fun as it sounds.

6. It’s really hot and sunny in Potrero. Costa Rica is a tropical country and I live on the beach. The roads are rarely shaded and running on the beach is even hotter. I’m getting acclimated to the weather here, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to run in the hot days.

Despite these difficulties, I still am hoping to run the Monumental Marathon this fall. I am planning on signing up this week and putting aside my dislike of running here. I have less than two months left in Costa Rica and I’m hoping that I can learn to enjoy exploring my new home. Otherwise, registering for the marathon might help with keeping me going on difficult beach runs or dusty road runs. There will be plenty of things I will miss about Costa Rica, but I can’t wait to be home running the Bloomington campus loop, complaining about the Jordan extension, and having Saturday long runs with BARA friends again.

My name is Amara Stuehling, I'm 27 years old and I run to…appreciate my regular running routes and the familiar roads in Bloomington.

AMARA STUEHLING is a graduate student in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education and has been running the Bloomington roads for four years now. She is currently working at a non-profit called Abriendo Mentes (Opening Minds) in Costa Rica where she teaches adults and children English and is conducting her own research on English programs. She has run eight half marathons and hopes to complete her fourth marathon this fall. When she is not running, she enjoys reading, teaching, speaking Spanish, and planning her next trip abroad.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Top 5 Reasons to Run the Deputy Sarah Jones Memorial 5K


On June 30th, what may be the final running of one of the most popular local running events—the Sarah Jones Memorial 5K—will be held at the St. Paul United Methodist Church of West Third Street, in Bloomington.

This race is significant to me, as I worked with Sarah and experienced the aftermath of the tragedy of her death. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has been serving our community since the year 1819. To the best of our knowledge, Sarah’s has been our only line-of-duty death. Sarah was with our agency only a few short years, but she fit in well, and had a very promising career.

Sarah and her husband Chris, a Federal Firefighter, were both committed to fitness. Not long before Sarah died, she participated in a 5K in Martinsville and received a trophy. She brought a few fellow deputies with her that day to share in the atmosphere of a 5K event. Chris felt that a 5K memorial run in Sarah’s memory would be a fitting way for her co-workers come together to remember her.

And with that in mind, I encourage everyone to give this final run a great send-off with my Top 5 Reasons to Run the Sarah Jones Memorial 5K:

1. Girl Power! This run celebrates and acknowledges the accomplishment of a young woman who excelled in predominantly male environments. Sarah served in the Military with Overseas assignments, and then entered law enforcement. In high school she was in a law enforcement program through the career center at the school. She always wanted to be a police officer. The money generated from the run provides scholarships for young women graduating high school who are pursuing a career in any criminal justice field.

2. It’s a good course. The course is fairly flat, mingling residential and rural scenery. The start and finish line includes running between two big ol’ fire trucks (which little kids love), and under a huge US flag. Parking is plentiful, with additional parking areas nearby for overflow.

3. To support having a run on or near Independence Day. Historically, by the fall of the calendar, the Sarah Jones 5K has been the same day as the 4th of July parade, or right around that meaningful holiday. When the organizers were looking for an available day on the race calendar, this was open. I am hopeful that another worthwhile charity will see that people turn out well this weekend, even though it’s on a holiday.

4. To mingle with some of your local public safety personnel. Our run generates a nice turnout of our local firefighters and police officers. (Don’t get your hopes up though, we ain’t exactly calendar material.) For those in public safety, it’s very heartening to see your community support.

5. The PR Bell! In a rare moment of ingenuity, I thought it would be cool for runners to let others know they made a PR by ringing a bell. In the eleventh hour before the race, I realized you can’t just run to a store and buy a bell though! I finally found a little thing at a hobby shop, and using my poor carpentry skills, I made a stand for it. The race timer said it was a neat concept and announced it prior to the run. It was very popular with the runners. Last year, I arranged for a better bell and had it engraved. The PR Bell will be at this last Sarah Jones 5K, and I hope to present it to the local race series to continue with this unique tradition as a forever legacy to Sarah. If you make a personal or course PR—hit that bell!!!

My name is Brad Swain, I’m 52 years old, and I run to…stay alive, and associate with other positive-thinking people.

P.S. A tip from a law enforcement official: NEVER run in the mornings. Half the episodes of Law and Order begin with a morning runner finding a body. Evening runners will only see yellow tape and chalk outlines. Just saying.

**Photos shared from Sarah Jones 5K Snapfish public album

BRAD SWAIN is a native of Bloomington, IN and a detective with Monroe County Sheriff's Office, going on 26 years of service. He and his wife have a farm in Bloomington and a hardwood tree farm in Southern Indiana. Brad has an AS in Law Enforcement from Vincennes University and is a graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and the FBI National Academy. He enjoys running on the B-Line and Clear Creek Trails, as well as near his farm, with the wildlife and cattle for an audience. When he's not running, Brad enjoys classic cars, swimming, scuba diving, and motorcycling. He completed his first marathon, the Air Force Marathon, in September 2011.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Expectations, Disappointment, and Running…For Fun?

Kaitlyn at the Geist Half Marathon

As runners, we must constantly be in touch with what our capabilities are – I believe we are some of the most self-aware people around. After I successfully completed the Carmel Marathon on April 21, I made the spontaneous decision to run the Geist Half Marathon on May 19, a mere four weeks later, in hopes that my marathon fitness would lead to a personal record without much additional training. My legs felt strong, I reverse tapered from the marathon smartly, and I started focusing on tackling the half distance. I found an excellent pacer for my half, tapered for the race, and got in several speedy runs leading up to the race. I was ready to PR…and PR big.

The Monday before the race, I went to the doctor to explain my frustration with my chronic pain condition, Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction, (chronicled in an earlier blog post here) and see if there were any options I hadn’t previously considered. He surprised me by suggesting a potential “permanent” solution that would involve invasive surgery – several days in the ICU post-surgery, a full week in the hospital, and three to four weeks at home recovering. The surgery will be an open-abdominal surgery leaving me with a nine inch incision down my stomach. Needless to say, this would leave me out of my running shoes for several months. For several reasons I won’t get into here, my family and I decided that now is the time – I am going to take the risk and go forward with the surgery. It is tentatively scheduled for the beginning of July.

Finding out I was going to be missing my Sauconys for so long really hit me hard mentally – I love running, and I’m pretty certain I am going to go crazy when I have to watch my friends cross the finish line of races without a bib across my own shirt. I can only hope it will be worth it in the long run (pun intended), and I have endless painless miles awaiting me on the other side of this hurdle. Regardless, this news meant that suddenly, Geist became an important race to me. It would be the last finish line of a major road race I would cross for months…potentially even a year.

I went into Geist with a lot of challenges – I came down with a cold Thursday before the race, and my chronic pain had been horrible the entire week. I warned my pacer it was going to be a rough race, but he promised to push me until I couldn’t push anymore. I toed the start line and tried to comprehend the fact that this was the last, “Runners take your mark,” I would hear for a long time. Once I started, I quickly realized how rough this was going to be. I have never seriously contemplated quitting a race, but at mile 3 I legitimately was thinking of ways to break the news to my pacer that I simply couldn’t do this race.

Worst Race Photo Ever
Going into the race, my pacer and I were aiming for 1:50 for a shoot for the stars that you can’t even see goal and a 1:55 reasonable goal. Once we hit mile 5, it was clear this was a race I was just going to finish, I couldn’t breathe because of the cold and I couldn’t stand up straight because of my chronic pain. It wasn’t pretty – I look one step away from death in my race photos. My pacer was excellent through all of this – he kept pushing me, keeping our walk breaks short, and he carried my water for me with my pain medication the whole way. If you are ever thinking about asking someone to pace you, do it – it helps! I would have finished about 10 minutes later than I did if I wouldn’t have had a pacer with me.

The race ended anti-climactically. My PR was 1:57:41, and I finished Geist in 2:01:27. The previous year I finished Geist in 2:02:30, so I finished faster than I had the previous year, but I was extremely disappointed with my performance at Geist. I have spent the past few weeks wondering why I was so disappointed – I definitely gave my all for the race. My legs were sore for days following the race and I was out of energy the remainder of the day, so I must have done something right…right?

This left me thinking about expectations that we as runners have for ourselves. When I think logically about the race, I did an awesome job by even finishing. And being mad at my body for hurting while I was running…isn’t that the whole reason I’m having the major surgery in the first place? When do our expectations become unrealistic? As runners, we are aware of what our bodies can do, but I think we tend to be blind to external effects on our performance. Some days, your body just can’t run. Some days, it is too hot to run at peak performance. Some days, something comes up and your run gets cancelled.

I only have five more weeks of running before I’m out completely for several months, so I have been trying to reframe running to be something I do strictly “for fun” without any training plans involved. That is a lot tougher than I thought – I am still running with my Garmin. I am still evaluating my performance constantly. I am compulsively looking for more finish lines to cross. When did running become something that was so data driven for me (and every other running friend I know)? I am trying to embrace the attitude that I am doing what my body says it can do that day, and not comparing that to other days when I feel better or worse. I am trying to run for fun and I am attempting to be thankful to have the opportunity to run at all.

As runners, I think we could all benefit from a few more Garmin-less runs and a little more “fun” running. After all, I don’t think we started running because we wanted to do tempo runs and hill repeats. I challenge you to take a couple days and run without expectations. The few runs I have done without expectations and without my Garmin have been extraordinarily rewarding.

My name is Kaitlyn Walker, I am 20 years old, and I run…because I can, today.

***Kaitlyn will be running her last pre-surgery race on June 16 at the Springville 5K for anyone that wants to join in and support her! Use code mag7voucher to save $2!

KAITLYN WALKER is a junior at Indiana University studying mathematics and policy analysis. She began running to spite her battle with a chronic pain condition and got hooked after her first 5K. She has since run four half marathons. When not in class or running, Kaitlyn volunteers at Fairview Elementary School and hopes to work in education upon graduation. She serves on multiple committees within the University. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her friends and family.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Running "Just for Fun"?


If you know me, you probably know that I'm likely one of the most obsessive "just for fun" runners in town. In Indiana, perhaps? The country? Who knows. Basically, that entails planning out my race schedule at least six months in advance (if not more), and making very specific goals that, come hell or high water, I'm determined to meet.

Until this year, I wasn't very good at meeting them though. In fact, my past history of not meeting goals was so consistent that I had a few people telling me my 2012 goals were not possible, and I should set my sights on something a bit less challenging. They weren't trying to be mean; they just didn't want me to get bummed out if and/or when I didn't meet them.
1:50 goal pace tattoo

Maybe it was the fact that I was being challenged. Maybe it was my newly found determination and fairly serious training schedule. Or maybe it was my great running partners. Whatever the case, not only did I meet all of my spring goals, I exceeded some of them on the first try, made new goals, and met those.

After I met these goals, I was kind of at a loss. Do I make new goals for the fall and risk failing at them? Do I run a full marathon? Stick to shorter races? Every year, as summer rolls around, I get slower, and slower...and slower. In fact, last July, I could hardly run a mile without walking, which makes having any sort of summer or fall goals a bit daunting. It hasn't happened yet and I'm wondering if it will, being that I'm in a lot better shape than I usually am. We'll see...

But I did it anyway. I made a (third) list of 2012 goals.
I decided to start off this list by running a trail half marathon. Being that the goal of this race was simply to finish, that I was in half marathon shape, and that the race was only 25 minutes from my house, I signed up for the 2012 Dances with Dirt race in Gnaw Bone, Indiana, which took place on May 12. I signed up just a couple of weeks before, thinking it sounded challenging, and that the waiver was a bit scary, as were the snake pictures from last year, but...what I liked about the race was that I knew absolutely nothing about it, I'd never run a trail half marathon, much less an extreme one, and therefore, there was no way I could do anything but run it JUST FOR FUN.

A portion of the scary waiver was printed on the back of our race shirt!

Just for fun? What's that? A foreign concept for sure. But I did it. Not only did I do it, but it was likely the most fun race I've ever done. Even doing it completely alone. I didn't get bit by a snake or any ticks, get poison ivy, get lost, or anything of the sort that I was completely freaked out about before the race. I did however have my shoe sucked off in nearly a mile of mud (not mud puddles, but super thick mud that you couldn't possibly go around), fall backwards into someone, blacken two toenails running down the super steep old Ski World hill through waist high grass, and soak myself up to my shorts running through some sort of stream. Thankfully, that was at the end of the race and it washed all the mud from my shoes and legs! It was a BLAST.

Some of the woods we ran through (pics courtesy of
Christy Victor—I didn't bring my camera out there)

More places we ran through

Stream we ran down. It wasn't until after the rocky section
that it got up to my shorts—right where we had to climb
back onto the trail.

Awesome medal on awesome shirt

Finish line—NOT my time (mine was 2:43, almost a full hour
slower than my road time)

Looks fun, right?!

Will I run it next year? We'll see. Now that I've run it once, I fear I won't be able to do it "just for fun" again, being that I'd have a previous time to compare myself to—and therefore try to beat. I'm happy to say I did it once though.

My name is Mandy Clarke, I'm 32 years old, and I run to...have fun, with and without goals.

(If you're looking for a true DWD "race recap", check out Ben's report on the FIFTY miler HERE.)

MANDY CLARKE is Trade Marketing and Publicity Manager at Indiana University Press. She grew up near Lake Michigan in Northwest IN and currently resides in Bloomington where she received her BA in Journalism. She has been running since the birth of her son in 2007 and has run several half marathons, 2 full marathons, and countless 5K and 10Ks. Mandy enjoys reading, photography, volunteering, writing, and spending time with her husband and son. She is the creator and moderator of this blog, and a member of BARA.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is Less Training Actually More?


On April 28th, I completed the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon. Runners, I have a confession to make: for this race I broke every training rule I have had for myself. I logged a total of 26.7 miles in April—13.1 of those miles are from the actual race. I never even ran as much as 13.1 miles in any single week while I trained. My longest "long run" was 7 miles. I drank too much alcohol the Thursday before the race. I ate something other than pasta with plain tomato sauce the night before the race. (I ate loads of dairy in a creamy pot-pie and macaroni and cheese instead.) I woke up the morning of the race merely hoping to muddle through by running two miles then walking one mile until I reached the finish line.

Was I miserable? Actually, no. I felt better during this half marathon than I ever have during a race of this distance. I ended up running the whole time. There was not one moment where I wanted to stop and walk. I felt so great I actually picked up the pace around mile 10, confident I could finish the remaining 5K strong. Because there was less training, I did not go into this race with lingering leg or foot pain. No shin splints, no sore knees, no aching feet. I must admit that I was more sore right after this race than I have ever been after any half marathon though.

My time? Was it terrible? Maybe for some, but for me, it was pretty good. I finished in 2 hours, 13 minutes and 17 seconds. That time is only 6 minutes slower than my PR, for which I never missed a single long run.

April Mileage

I certainly won’t be adopting this complete slacker training regimen again, but my experience here coupled with my experience of breaking my ankle during the Chicago Marathon makes me wonder… Is less more? Are we overtraining? Do we put too much stress on our bodies before we even get to the race? What are your thoughts?

VALERIE WIESKAMP was born in the cornfields of Iowa, spent 5 years in Chicago getting her master’s degree while doing graphic design, and now lives in the cornfields of Indiana. There, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric and Public Culture at Indiana University, Bloomington. If Valerie had any spare time between running and writing her dissertation, she would paint and play the piano. Valerie also enjoys traveling, spicy food, visiting her family in Iowa, and cooking (preferably with a glass of red wine in hand).

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Running with my mom near her home in Colorado.
Whenever I visit, we always make sure to get a run in.

As runners, anytime someone asks us, “Why did you start running?” we all have an answer. It may be, “I started running to lose weight” or “To maintain a healthier lifestyle” or “My best friend asked me to start running with her” or “I watched the Olympics and it motivated me to get off the couch.” Whatever the reason, whatever the story, something or someone inspired you – gave you that little kick in the butt – to become a runner.

For me, that someone was my mom. I competed in gymnastics at a decently high level throughout my elementary school and junior high years. After a back injury forced me to “retire” from my beloved sport, I needed something different to compete in, to train for, to fulfill my competitiveness. I never imagined running would fill that void. Apparently my mom thought it would, though, because before my best friend Lori and I knew it, we were suddenly members of our high school cross country team.

Let me explain. My mom has been a runner for about as long as I can remember. She was also a teacher at my high school, and she and the cross country coach were best friends and training partners. My mom said to Lori and me, “You girls need to go to this "running club" over the summer. It’s just a group of high school runners who get together and run. It’ll be good for you girls and you’ll meet some new people. I’ll take you.”

We reluctantly agreed, then showed up for this “running club” and ran about three miles with a few other girls. At the end of the run, the coach handed us the cross country practice schedule. Suddenly, we were on the team.

I went on to run cross country and track all four years of high school. I didn’t always enjoy it, I didn’t always take it as seriously as I should, and I didn’t always work as hard as I should. I know that now, since as a 31-year-old I’m running faster than I did as a 14, 15, 16, and 17 year old. Sure, I had some good seasons and good meets, but overall I would rate myself as mediocre or slightly better than mediocre in high school. Despite my wishy-washy attitude towards running, though, my mom was always there to support me, run with me, give me advice, and hand me a large dose of tough love when she and I both knew I didn’t run to my full potential.

My mom running her first Boston at 38
Back then I didn’t give a lot of thought to my mom and her own running. Sure, she was always off doing marathons all over the country, winning money in the master’s division at most races, and winning all kinds of awards, but I really didn’t think much of it or stop to acknowledge just how good she was (For example, her marathon PR is 3:15-something…and that was at age 42. Her 5K PR is in the low-19’s. Again, she ran that in her 40s. Mile? 5:50. Again, in her 40s. The woman was good, I just didn’t realize it back then). Instead, I was just annoyed by the fact that she woke me up at the crack of dawn most Saturdays in the summer to drag me off to 5Ks and 10Ks with her while I would’ve much rather slept in.

In short, I really didn’t appreciate her back then. Fast-forward to 2009, when I decided to get serious about running again, and my mom and running came full circle for me. I’d run a few half marathons and 5Ks over the years during college and after, but for the most part I didn’t really consider myself a “runner” anymore, as most of my running was pretty sporadic and I mostly relied on the elliptical machine or stationary bike at the gym to stay in shape. I missed competing and I missed being good at something. So…I decided to give running another go. Who did I call for advice? My mom, of course. I actually wanted to talk to her about running now. I could finally appreciate her immense knowledge and experience. I stuck with running this time and became serious about it because I was finally doing it for myself and no one else. By this point in our lives, my mom didn’t care if I ran or not, but she was happy to provide all the advice and information I needed if I wanted to do it.

Ever since high school my mom always said, “Whenever you run your first marathon, I want to run it with you!” For a long time my response was, “Well I’m never going to run a marathon so you don’t need to worry about that.” I kind of think she knew even back then that someday I would change my mind, and I did. Sometime in the spring of 2010 I got the marathon bug. I was still in my first year “back” to running, and I was experiencing faster and faster times in every race I ran. I saw others doing marathons and thought, “I bet I could do that, too.” Then I decided if I was going to run a marathon, I might as well try to qualify for Boston since that would be pretty cool to run. My mom had run it three times, so why couldn’t I do it, too? So I set my sights on the Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon in Albany, NY. It was a flat, fast course with a high percentage of Boston qualifiers. Sure enough, my mom held true to her word and immediately registered for it and began marathon training. It would be her first marathon since 2003.

October 2010

We ran the race and both qualified for Boston. Even though I ran the race faster than her (finally, I have age on my side!), she is never one to be outdone. In typical “mom” fashion, she won an age group award – a huge adidas duffel bag stuffed with running goodies. Then we both traveled to Boston together and ran that one, too.

After the 2011 Boston Marathon

Although I’m sure I could’ve gotten training and racing advice from someone else, and I could’ve probably navigated the whole “bus ride to the start line” procedure alone, the truth is there is no one I trust more than my mom, and there’s no one who knows me better or has my best interests in mind more than her. I am so thankful she was there to guide me through my first marathon experience and also there to share my first Boston experience. She introduced me to running over 15 years ago, and although I didn’t always appreciate running or her, I am so, so, so very thankful that she introduced me to this wonderful sport and that she’s been there with me every step of the way. To my mom (on Mothers Day) – THANK YOU!

Take a moment to think about who introduced you to running. Think about what your life would be like without running in it. Then take a moment to thank that person – whether in the form of an email, phone call, text, letter, or blog post. Just make sure they know that you appreciate it.

My name is Andrea Eagleman, I’m 32 years old, and I run to...try to someday beat one of my mom’s PRs. I haven’t done it yet.

ANDREA EAGLEMAN is one of Perspective's regular columnists. She is Assistant Professor of Sport Management at IUPUI and conducts research on media portrayals of athletes. She lives in Bloomington, IN and has been running for 17 years. Andrea re-entered the world of racing three years ago and enjoys various distances from the 5K to the marathon, running the Boston Marathon in 2011. Andrea won the Magnificent 7 Road Race Series Overall Female championship in 2009, 2010, and 2011. She enjoys traveling, blogging, reading, photography, and hanging out with her husband, Karl, and her cat, DC.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cheaters In Our Midst


It may be hard to believe, but not all runners are honest. There is a very small percentage of runners who feel it is okay to cheat in order to “win” an age group award or for some other personal benefit. Many of us remember or are familiar with Rosie Ruiz. Ms. Ruiz was initially credited with being the women’s winner of the 1980 Boston Marathon. However she allegedly dropped out of the marathon and rode the subway to within a mile of the finish. From there she ran in and was initially declared the “winner”. She was an unknown among the elite of women's marathoning. There were a number of things that drew suspicion including not sweating or being fatigued at the finish, not understanding routine training terms, and a resting heart rate later found to be at least 20 beats/minute faster than world class women of the time. Others said her thighs were too “flabby” to be a world class marathoner. None of the numerous spotters saw her pass Canadian Jacqueline Gareau, the leader at 18 miles and actual winner. Not only did Rosie cheat in the attempt to claim victory, she also cheated Ms. Gareau of her moment of glory at the awards ceremony when race officials place the laurel wreath on the head of the winner.

A few years ago I ran and won the 65-69 year old age group in a half marathon. The following year I finished second in the age group to a 69 year old man from out of state. While reviewing the results I noticed although he had a time for the start (gun vs. chip) and finish of the race—the chip timing mats had not registered a time at the 5 or 10 mile check points. I immediately suspected he had not run the entire course. I googled his uncommon name and found him listed on a website called Athlinks. Athlinks listed times and dates for over 30 races he had run during the previous four years. Although he had averaged well under 8 min/mi. during this half marathon, he had not run that fast for any race on the list, even a 5K. How could he run a half marathon so fast but not be able to average under 8 min/mile for much shorter races? I was able to pull up his race photos, and in photos less than a half mile from the finish, he was walking. Some weeks later, I asked a local race director with over 25 years experience his thoughts of not registering a time at both the five and ten mile checkpoints. He said he would suspect the runner did not run the prescribed course. Did he cheat? I don’t know conclusively, but the evidence certainly indicates he did.

There is an older runner I have known for over 20 years who is a known course-cutter. I have actually run in races and seen him cut the course. Other runners have noted his course-cutting as well. One year, he supposedly won his age group at the 500 Festival Mini Marathon in Indianapolis. A few days later, his name was stricken from the results and he was disqualified. After reviewing both moving and still photography, officials supposedly found no evidence he had run the 2.5 mile Indy 500 race track. The Mini officials are very good at verifying age group award winners to ensure they have completed the entire 13.1 mile course. The last several years I ran the Mini, this runner was seen climbing the corral fence seconds after the start so as to begin very close to the front instead of starting in his assigned corral much further from the start.

Several years ago I ran a 5K in Pendleton, IN. Before the start I recognized a runner in my age group with whom I had been very competitive. He had recently turned 60 years old, and I knew from previous races we ran similar times. I was determined to beat him this day. I saw him just prior to and shortly after the race but he “disappeared” and I didn’t see him again during the race. Since there were 270 runners or so, I assumed I had passed him at some point. At the award ceremony, which he did not attend, I was surprised to discover he had not only beaten me but ran a sub-19 minute 5K. I had known this particular runner for a number of years and had never known him to run such a fast race and especially at 60 years of age. I later reviewed race websites for his results both before and after the Pendleton race. All of his times for a 5K were in the 21-minute range or slower. Since he was a yearly participant in the 500 Festival Mini Marathon, I suspect he wanted a qualifying time that would place him in the first corral near the start.

Above are three examples of suspected cheating. I imagine many of you are aware of other examples of runners who haven’t always played by the rules. What compels these folks to cheat in order to gain an unfair advantage? How can you feel good about yourself if you received an award you didn’t deserve? How can you proudly show your spouse, children, or other runners an award you didn’t earn? You may as well buy an award for yourself, as it holds just as much meaning. It is my feeling that if someone would cheat in something as trivial as a road race, they probably have cheated in other aspects of their lives. There are ways to cheat other than course-cutting. I’ve heard of runners claiming to be older than they really are so as to be listed in an older age group. I’ve also heard of substitute runners wearing an older/slower runner’s race number/timing chip so as to run a good time and win an age group award. Also, how about a registered walker running during an event? I’m sure there are plenty of ways to cheat that I’ve not touched on. What do you think?

My name is Lance Daugherty, I'm 68 years old, and I run…for reasons much more satisfying than a 15 cent piece of pot metal dangling from a colored string.

LANCE DAUGHERTY is one of Perspective's regular columnists. He retired in 2007 after working nearly 38 years in various aspects of Quality Assurance in the food industry. He lives near Mooresville, IN and has been running for 22 years (not including high school and college). Lance has run nearly 550 races including 16 marathons (running the Boston Marathon twice). He won the Magnificent 7 Road Race Series 60-69 AG championship in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 and is a volunteer for the series, tracking series points. Lance enjoys reading, fishing, hiking, bird watching, and yard work.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Running More Than Bases


My mom used to tell me I learned how to run before I could ever walk. I think she meant that in both the literal and physical sense. As a young child I found myself chasing neighbors' dogs and leaping over fences in full stride, running around my house hitting everyone and everything in site with a piece of plastic Hot Wheels racetrack. Needless to say I was always running to or from someone or something.

When I turned three my dad had to bring me to my older brother’s t-ball practice since my mom worked late and he was the coach. I was instantly hooked on the game as if I had found my own personal form of heaven. Every aspect of the game engulfed every sense in my body. The feel of the ball connecting with the bat, the sound of the ball popping into a glove, not to forget the smell of the game or the taste of the dirt in your mouth when you slide headfirst into home plate.

Baseball was my everything from that point on. As I grew older the game became more than a game. It became my life—the only thing I really cared about. Then in the spring of 1995 just as baseball season was about to begin my mom received a phone call from her doctor after a routine checkup. The call was to explain to my mom she had breast cancer. I was only in second grade at the time, so I wasn’t very familiar with cancer and how serious it was. After that phone call I remember seeing my mom change right before my eyes. She began to lose her beautiful long brown hair, and became increasingly tired after each Friday chemo and radiation treatment. Mom was sick—very sick. She underwent a mastectomy to remove the cancer from her left breast. After countless treatments and surgery, she was deemed cancer-free a little less than a year later.

I continued to run the bases and to immerse myself in baseball. Having Mom’s smiling face back in the stands was definitely a welcome sight! Five years after Mom’s original diagnosis of cancer, she had another doctor’s appointment. Cancer again. I was now in 7th grade, and fully aware of the foulness that came with cancer. Once again, I saw my mom lose all of her hair, and when I found out she was sick again, I almost couldn’t take it. I vowed to be there for her whenever she needed help. I promised anyone and everyone that I would do anything for my mom to be ok. I went to doctors appointments with her, I sat with her during chemotherapy and radiation treatments and I stayed up with her when she wanted to talk. Mom and I were both night owls so we had special talks while everyone else slept. Again, a little less than a year after her diagnosis, she was deemed cancer-free! A victory for all of us! I can’t even begin to describe the joy I felt when I heard Mom was “cured."

Moving into my eighth grade year, baseball was my everything again. Morning, noon and night, I had blinders on to the rest of world. Then it hit for the third and final time. Mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in May of 2001. She fought with every ounce of strength she had left to make it through one more Christmas and passed away on December 26 that year. I can’t even really tell you much about the days, weeks and months after she passed. She would never see me play another game of baseball. She would never meet my wife, never hold my kids, and I would never get a hug from her again.

Time was irrelevant, and baseball was all I could hold onto to keep some sense of normalcy in my life. But after four college baseball programs, a contract in the Frontier Professional Baseball League, an invite to Spring Training with the Colorado Rockies and nearly 10 years of wondering why this happened to her, I decided to hang up my spikes for another dream—a dream that included baseball, but also cancer.

In October of 2011 I launched The Cure Baseball, Inc., a nonprofit organization that uses the game of baseball help raise support and awareness for all types of cancer. I wanted to bring my passion of baseball and my own life experiences with cancer together to simply give back. Whenever my mom was diagnosed, the communities we lived in (Zionsville, IN and Racine, WI) poured their hearts out to our family.

Since launching The Cure Baseball in October, we have been planning the first The Cure Baseball 5K Run/Walk in downtown Zionsville, Indiana. Zionsville is the town I remember my mom the best in, and since The Cure Baseball is headquartered in Indianapolis, it’s a perfect way to remember my mom and have an impact in a community that gave so much to me and my family.

I would love to have you join us on May 12, 2012 in downtown Zionsville for The Cure Baseball 5K. All the information about the race can be found HERE.

I run now not to stretch singles into doubles or doubles into triples. As a matter of fact I don’t run bases at all anymore but rather I run to strengthen my mind, body and soul in my own personal pursuit to change the world and do my part in the fight to find a cure for all types of cancer.

My name is Alex Paluka, I’m 25 years old, and I run to...strengthen my mind, body and soul in my own personal pursuit to change the world and to do my part in the fight to find a cure for all types of cancer.

ALEX PALUKA is Founder and President of The Cure Baseball, Inc. Originally from Zionsville, Indiana, Alex has lived in six different states, attended five different colleges and has been an avid baseball player and fan since his toddler years. Since the passing of his mother on December 26th, 2001 from breast cancer, Alex has found a passion for giving back to people and families affected by all types of cancer. Alex enjoys the outdoors, pretty much all sports, and a good old challenge. If you would like to learn more about Alex’s story or The Cure Baseball please feel free to reach out to him at

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

After the Derby Festival Marathon: A 1 hour, 35 minute PR!

This is the "After" post in Melissa Myers's "Before and After" series on the 2012 Kentucky Derby Festival Full Marathon. View the "Before" post HERE.


First things first. I finished the Derby Marathon in 4 hours 22 minutes! I’m very happy with this time and I definitely consider the marathon to be a success! In fact, this is a 1 hour 35 minute PR over the Disney Marathon in 2010. Sure can’t complain about that!

Remember when I mentioned that I had a fear about falling down the stairs or tripping over the dog and getting hurt? Turns out I didn’t even need an accident to throw a wrench in my marathon plan…I just needed to go to sleep. Yeah, apparently, I’m now old enough that I can hurt myself in my sleep. I woke up last Wednesday with kind of a sore/stiff neck and shoulders and it only got worse throughout the day. By Thursday I could hardly turn my head to the left and even had a pretty bad headache from the muscle tension.

Thursday night we got everyone packed and then headed to Louisville Friday morning. My neck was still not feeling great but it did feel just a bit better than the day before. We drove the course after we got to Louisville and then grabbed lunch at Lynn’s Paradise Café. Great food and fun place if you ever get the chance to visit!

After lunch our next stop was the Expo to get my race packet. For some reason I never feel great at a race expo. It’s always so hot and all I want to do is get in and get out. I completely forgot to look for pace groups and even forgot to get safety pins at first.

The kids left good luck messages for me!

On race morning, Christina and I met in the hotel lobby at 6:30 and started walking to the start line a little before 7:00. As per usual with us, we were waiting in line at the port-a-potty right up to the last minute. I did appreciate that they sounded the traditional Kentucky Derby ‘Call to the Post’ bugle fanfare right before the start! At about 7:29 we jumped into the corral about half way up and waited to start moving. Then we looked up and noticed we were behind the 4:45 pace group. Since we hadn’t yet moved we hopped out of the corral and jogged up the sidewalk a bit before ducking back in a little bit behind the 4:30 pace group.

We finally got started and headed through downtown. The first 4 miles were flat and pretty crowded. There weren’t too many spectators out in this area but we did have the drum line from a local high school at one corner. My neck and shoulders were really taking a toll on me and I could tell I was working much harder than I should have been for so early in the race.

Miles 4–7 took us through a neat older neighborhood. There really was a lot of great crowd support through the entire race. I loved the spectator signs of “Run, Random Stranger, Run!” During this stretch we saw some residents of a senior citizens home sitting out front cheering and handing out oranges, some women in traditional Derby hats enjoying Bloody Mary’s at their makeshift sidewalk café and one group of four that was yelling about how they “walk these streets every day” and “this was their neighborhood.” OK, those guys were a little creepy but other than that everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun. Finally by about mile 7 my neck started to loosen up a bit and I hit a comfortable stride. The storms that had been predicted earlier amounted to nothing more than a brief rain shower for about 3 minutes.

Although my neck and shoulders were feeling better it was around this time I began to feel a bit of stiffness in both my IT bands.

We headed into Churchill Downs around mile 8 and took a lap around the infield. Sorry, no running on the dirt! The runners were all feeling pretty festive through Churchill Downs and we even saw some horses being exercised along a straightaway. Totally cool! We also got a surprise visit from some Bloomington friends who were running the half!

The half and full courses split right outside of Churchill Downs. I have to admit it was kind of daunting to see the sea of people heading back to town to finish the half-marathon. The field was capped at 18,000 participants and only about 2,000 of them finished the full marathon. Despite the much thinner crowd (which was actually kind of nice) there was a lot of crowd support along the way including our own families for the first time! We saw them right after the split at the 9 mile mark. Always such a good feeling to see them cheering!

The next three miles were on a long straight flat stretch leading to Iroquois Park. We saw some more Bloomington folks along this stretch which was another nice surprise! Our husbands and kids were waiting for us again at the park entrance to wish us luck as we tackled the hills. The next three miles were up and down and around and up and down and around. At first the hills were a bit of a welcome change from the flat we had been running and my IT bands felt better after the hills. It was quite pretty through the park but I will say that by the time we left the park my legs had taken a beating.

We saw our families again as we left the park at mile 15 and then headed back to town along the same straight flat stretch. This time the flat felt pretty good after the hills. As we approached the merge with the half-marathoners again around 18 miles we saw our families for the last time until the finish. Happily, the race directors had designated the left side of the road for the half and the right side for the full. Reviews from last year told frustrating tales of marathoners dodging the half-marathon walkers during this stretch. Near 18 – 20 miles is when things started to get harder and we started walking a few steps through some of the water stations.

We split back away from the half-marathoners around mile 21 to a chorus of “You can do it, ya’ll” and “Almost done, ya’ll.” That made both of us laugh. I would swear that the next stretch along Breckenridge Street was at least 2-3 miles long but looking at the course map now I can see that it was only one mile… The longest mile ever.

I was not feeling too great between miles 22 and 23 and I even thought I might get sick a couple of times. I really did not want that to happen so we just pushed on. We were faced with the last couple of hills and that hill at mile 23 was a beast. Good crowd support here though and it really did help. One girl at the top of the hill must be a fitness instructor or something because she never stopped talking to the runners the entire time we were in earshot. “That hill was tough but you did it. Keep it up. You’re almost there. Lookin’ strong!” The last three miles were just one foot in front of the other and my legs were feeling dead at this point. We began to see a lot of runners with their finisher medals on who had come back out to watch along the course. Knowing that they were already done just reminded me how badly I wanted to be done too and to see my family. My body actually kind of wanted to cry (and I remember this happening at this point in the Disney marathon) but I kept reminding myself that if I started crying I wouldn’t be able to breathe so just suck it up and keep going.

As we rounded the final turn I saw Jason leaning over the barrier to cheer. It was so good to cross the finish line and I was definitely spent. We collected our medals and then I randomly noticed my brother and his family standing right next to me. That was quite a fun surprise! I staggered through the water station (tiny cups half full with water WTF?), grabbed a couple of bananas and sat down in the first shady spot I could find. My brother called Jason and told him where we were and they were there within just a few minutes.

To be honest, I felt terrible at the end of the race. I was quite nauseous and obviously physically tired. After about 10 or 15 minutes we started back to the car. We had kind of planned on visiting the Louisville Slugger museum after the race but I definitely didn’t have that in me. So, we headed to the car, got some Gatorade and started driving home. I was actually concerned I would be sick in the car so I rode with a trash bag in arms reach! I sipped on water and Gatorade and ate some crackers on the ride home. When we got home I had some chocolate milk which actually made my stomach feel a lot better. After showering and another glass of chocolate milk I was ready to eat something. By the end of the night my stomach was getting better but not totally back to normal until the next morning.

I slept like a log that night until my achy legs woke me sometime in the early morning. The next day my legs were still sore going up and down stairs and a little slow getting started moving but now, three days out I’m feeling pretty normal. I feel like my neck and shoulder pain has hung around longer than any leg pain. Right now it looks like the only lingering evidence of the marathon will be the two black toenails I’ll be sporting on my summer vacation!

So, will I run another marathon? I was asked this question on Saturday during the drive home and basically said there was no way. By Sunday I was feeling like there was maybe 5% chance I would do another. Now, I’m kind of considering it but making no plans to commit to something for at least another month! And, even though running tends to be an individual sport there is absolutely no way I could have done this marathon or any future marathons without the support of a whole bunch of people. I was so grateful to have Christina there for the entire race. I absolutely couldn’t have pushed through without her! My husband and kids gave a tremendous amount of support running all over Louisville so I could see them FIVE TIMES during the race!! Not to mention all of the hours spent training over the past 4 months. 

My name is Melissa Myers, I’m 34 years old, and I run to…see what I can accomplish.

MELISSA MYERS is a mother, wife, runner, and higher ed administrator. She wasted her 20’s watching movies, going to concerts, and riding roller coasters and only started running in earnest in 2009 after her second child was almost 2 years old. What was she thinking!? Since then, she has run numerous 5Ks, 2 half marathons and 2 full marathons. Her main motivations for running are to stay healthy, to set a good example for her kids, and to attempt to keep up with her husband (who she has beaten in one race…while he pushed both kids in the stroller…and stopped once to get them snacks).