Part of what’s been distracting me is the 50k trail race I ran at the Middlesex Fells last weekend. My TARC Winter Ultra race report will be coming soon, but the reader’s digest version is: It was cold, it was rainy, it was slippery, but I survived!
Another thing that’s been on my plate as of late is that I’m in charge of putting together (and keeping together) the Gate City Strider teams for the Mill Cities Relay race. And with 39 teams (and 181 runners) it was a lot more like herding wild cats, than anything else. I’ve been doing it for 10 years now and it’s without a doubt the most fun/stressful job I have with the club. My synopsis of this year’s race is also coming soon (I promise) but long story short: It was cold, it was windy, it was slippery, but we survived! …Actually, we did a little more than survive. We won our 7th straight team title. Setting new point and margin of victory totals in the process!
Finally, what’s been taking the majority of my time lately is my book. Yup, I’m writing my first book! I know. Crazy, right? Well, it’s going to be a collection of stories that I’m stringing together in (hopefully) a cohesive manner. It’s about friends, family and ultra-running. In short, all the things that currently make my life worth living!
Anyway, below is an excerpt from the book. Have a read, and let me know what you think - in the comment box below. Thanks!
I’m not a great runner. Sure, I’ve won the occasional 5k (about as often as a presidential election) but I’m typically pretty far back from the “pointy end” of the races I run. So, why am I writing a book about ultra-marathons? Good question. I guess if you want to read about running legends, then you might be best served by picking up a copy of “Marathon Man” by Bill Rodgers. If you want to learn about how to train for (and run) an ultra, then Hal Koerner’s “Field Guide to Ultrarunning” is definitely the book for you! And, if you want to see what it’s like to win the world’s most prestigious ultramarathons – year after year, then you’ll want to grab a copy of “Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek.
I can’t compete with those guys. Ever! Heck, I’m just a 46-year old, full-time father of four, with a 9 to 5 desk job and a weakness for junk food! What can I possibly bring to the running table? Well chances are, if you’re reading this book then you’re probably not Bill Rodgers, Hal Koerner, or Scott Jurek. So, more than likely, you’re a regular person just like me. And that’s OK! There are way more of us than them anyway. Which is the reason why I decided to write this book. I wrote it because I wanted to say, and you needed to hear, that ordinary people like us can do extraordinary things - IF we allow ourselves the chance to do so! How do I know this? Because I’m living proof!
I started running in 1998, when I was an out-of-shape, over-weight 29-year old who desperately needed a change in lifestyle. So I said, “Why not try running again? I couldn’t possibly be any worse at it than when I was in High School.” Well, as it turns out, it takes significantly more effort to propel a 240lb. body than a 140lb. one! It was at that point in my solo suffering that I figured I needed a goal to distract me from the pain. So, I decided that once I could run a mile without stopping, I’d start training for the Boston Marathon. For some strange reason this seemed like a logical progression to me. Little did I know, that impulsive decision would mark the beginning of an odyssey of profound joy and stunning disappointment that is the world of long distance running.
When I began, I had no idea where running would take me. All I knew was that I needed to get out, get away and do something. Because, when you feel like you’ve lost all control, “something” is a heck of a lot better than nothing! At the time, there was trouble on the home front and it seemed like my world was crashing all around me. I needed a way to release the stress and tension of the day, to have some time and space to myself, to clear my head and refresh my spirit. So, opened the front door and went for a walk.
I was living in Marblehead, Massachusetts at the time, and there were a great many old houses, picturesque parks and scenic seascapes to look at during my time on the roads. I enjoyed meandering through town just soaking it in and letting my mind wander. After a while, I wasn’t satisfied with merely walking everywhere. I was too impatient. I wanted to cover some serious ground and walking just plain took too much time! So, I would walk a bit, jog a bit, then repeat - mutating into something I fondly called “wogs”. As I got a little better (and lost a little more weight) I started timing my wogs. Nothing real hardcore, mind you. I would just check the clock on the cable box when I headed out and check it again when I returned. In the beginning, it took me about 30 minutes to complete my 2.5 mile circuit - or around 12 minutes per mile. But, with each subsequent trip, it seemed the time to complete the loop would get shorter and my confidence grew as a result. As the confidence grew, so did the distance - from 2.5 to 4.5, and from 4.5 to 7. But, regardless of how far I went, I always made sure to run in a loop. Because I was afraid that, with everything that was going on at home, if I ran an “out and back” I might reach the turn-around point and decide to keep on going!
When I officially started “training” for Boston I didn’t know anything about the science of marathon running. I was unfamiliar with terms such as “lactate threshold”, “interval” and “fartlek”. All I knew was that in one year’s time, I needed to find a way to run 26.2 miles, and that I should probably trade in my Nike “high-tops” for some real running sneakers! Eventually, after much effort, I got my long run up to all of 16 miles and proclaimed myself “ready” for the 1999 Boston Marathon. On race day, I started at the back of the pack with the rest of the bandits and began what turned out to be an arduous, 26.2 mile wog from Hopkinton to Boston. More than 4 and a half hours later, I crossed the finish line a battered and bloody mess. And exclaimed, to no one in particular, “Never Again!”
It’s been 16 years and 20 marathons since that day and I’m now a fortunate husband, a proud father, and a semi-proud owner of a three hour, zero minute and twenty two second marathon PR. So, just how did I get from “Never Again” to running twenty marathons (and now) to signing up for my first 100 mile race? Well, it’s actually a rather complicated answer. But, one which I hope will be reached through the stories that can be found in the remaining pages of this book. Enjoy!
I recently attended a writer’s workshop and it was a bit of a shock just exactly how much I have to learn about writing, publishing and selling books. Basically, I have no freaking idea what I’m doing!
But hey! When has that ever stopped me before?
But hey! When has that ever stopped me before?