Runners! We’re a motivated group by almost any standard. Each of us puts one foot in front of the other for our own deeply personal reasons. Running for health. Running for camaraderie. Running from demons, legions of them.
I’ve spent the last forty years running. When queried about my motivations, “Its the one thing no one can tell me when to do, where to do, how to do, whom to do it with.” Running for me is the ultimate expression of personal freedom.
And Racing! Part of what moves my feet is the chance to test myself. Against myself. Against you. Conquering demons of inadequacy. Measuring my self worth by the amount of suffering I can endure. Yeah, it runs that deep. What about you?
Who is driving you is another question all together. And the crux of today’s column. Linda and I took a ride with Dr. Weeks last week. His invitation to “Let Elon drive us” a chance to take a stride into the 21st century. We hopped in his shiny new Tesla. Acceleration incredible. But it was on Hwy 92 that my few remaining hairs turned a lighter shade. The self-driving mode engaged, white knuckles the rest of the trip for your scribe. I resisted the urge to reach over and grab the wheel, trying to have faith in technology. A complete loss of control the worst part of the experience. I felt like an Amish in New York City.
That might be the future but I don’t like it at all. Driving is second to running as an expression of personal freedom. At least it used to be. Linda and I travel with a paper map, our comfort zone. Not trusting or believing that a signal from the sky can deliver us.
I’ll keep driving myself. On foot and wheels.
I know what drives Jack Runde. Shown here at yesterday’s xc meet at Northwest HS. He would dispatch his challenger on the second loop on the way to yet another victory. Perfect running form. And In It To Win It!
The USA Track & Field Nebraska Association had its annual meeting last Sunday. Did anyone at all from our Long Distance Running community attend? My guess is Mike Hajek-Jones was the sole person at the table. Our LDR Chair wasn’t there, traveling back from a triathlon. Linda and I didn’t go, my boxing gloves retired to a hook in the closet.
I did however receive a phone call prior to the meeting from Scott Rainbolt, our Association President. Boy did he get an earful. I’m quite upset that not a single penny from our Nebraska memberships and road and cross sanctions has been returned to LDR in over three years. Where the hell has all that money gone? Why hasn’t our LDR Chair been reimbursed for his travel to the 2018 annual meetings? How can we expect him to commit the time and effort to attend Reno this coming December 5?
But my main message to Scott was if he wants anything at all done on behalf of our USATF LDR program it has to go through Lincoln.
Look, here’s the conundrum, USATF is NOT RRCA. USATF is for athlete development and excellence, geared toward USA National Championships, World Championships, Olympic Trials and the Olympics.
RRCA, Road Runners Club of America, is the social side of running where we are all winners. Both have their niches, rarely do they sync.
The Lincoln Marathon fully embraces RRCA. The Lincoln Running Co. Racing team is USATF. The marathon sponsors LRC Racing. Man it gets sticky right here. How do you get a club that relies on RRCA to participate in USATF Nebraska Association Championship events. How do we get the athletes in our association to support USATF? We had zero LRC representation at our USATF 1500 Meter Road Championships in Valley a couple weeks ago. Not a single athlete could deign participation. And that is only the most recent example of a long line of USATF Nebraska Association Championship races that have not been supported.
December 14 is our USATF XC National Championships in Bethlehem, PA. Our Nebraska Association athletes (LRC) will load up several teams for the annual boondoggle. Support at the national level but not the local association. That is why the real power must be relocated to Lincoln if our LDR program is to survive. Logan Watley? Nolan Zimmer?
USATF Nebraska Long Distance Running used to be one of the most respected in the United States. Now it is a joke. Says the program’s architect and founder.
Quote of the day- “If you want something done fast, do it yourself. If you want something to last have the group do it.”
A lot of Nebraska races to choose from this past weekend. And Iowa.
I’m partial to the Twin Rivers YMCA Half Marathon, 10K, & 5K. We had a record turnout in numbers if not results. We’ve worked hard to offer the flattest, fastest USATF Certified & Sanctioned half in Nebraska. Shannon Mauser-Suing taking the Overall in 1:27:01. Birthday boy Michael Bickley won the 10K and Jack Runde took the 5K title.
The Wabash Trace Marathon & Half Marathon. Cory Logsdon (2:46:18) continues his unbeaten streak.
The (S)HITS Marathon & Half Marathon, 10K & 5K. Marathon won in a very pedestrian 3:14. Say what? Craig Halverson finishes 2nd in the half (1:22:29) and wins the 5K (18:19) and 10K (46:08). WTF?
Lincoln Running Co. Racing opted to skip Nebraska’s offerings and travel to Des Moines for the Capitol Pursuit 10 Mile.
Its the xc meet at Walnut Grove last week that has me most fired up. Liam Chot of Lincoln NorthStar, truly a man among boys, won as usual, this time with some shady circumstances. *This based on eyewitness reports.* Chot was off with the gun, gapping the field. Somewhere between miles 1 & 2 he was joined by two dark, shadowy figures (running ninjas?). Running with Liam through the wooded sections. And then disappearing just as quickly, not on the course after 2 miles, not finishing. Whether bandits or pacers, I would have raised hell.
The Twin Rivers YMCA Runs feature the most inspiring start line in Nebraska. And course records of 1:04:48 (Zach Hine) and 1:17:19 (Whitney Bevins).
White and Fluffy
Skittering and Puffy
Sky and Horizon Filled
Good Mother’s Beauty
Delivered as Billed
Rain Soaked Roads
Greet Heels to Toes
Lanes Between Field and Bush
Each Stride a Cushy Cush
Thankful For Our Health This Day
For Fitness and For Play
Linda and Desi Making Three
As Happy and Grateful As Can Be
An update for the curious.
Linda, Desi, and I have hit the three week mark with the rpod as our home. It has been every bit the expected adventure. We’ve explored new running routes, incorporated walking and biking sessions, strict adherence to consistency the primary denominator. Hills and more hills, some gargantuan. Occasional two a days, easy sessions intended towards capillarization.
The question comes up “What are you doing these days?” Our pat answer is “getting fit.” I haven’t felt this good in over a decade.
We’ve explored Branched Oak Lake north of Lincoln. We’ve trespassed for views of pristine Johnson Reservoir. We’ve taken every minimum maintenance road encountered. On foot, on wheels, moving at a vagabond’s pace.
We’re plugged in at the 2 Lazy 2 Ranch in Yutan. 15 amps trickling in enough juice for refrigerator and television. We need 30 to run the air conditioning, a luxury we’ll appreciate when provided. We awoke last night to a downburst, 65 mph winds rocking our little trailer, visions of Dorothy and Toto running through my mind as I threw my body over Linda’s.
I am still filled with excitement and wonder over our future. Not completely sure what we’ll be doing once the Big Chill arrives. Do we go south? Do we winterize and hunker down?
We’ll map out some plans after this weekend’s Twin Rivers YMCA runs. We have our biggest ever field signed up, build it and they will come.
These three greet our daily excursions. Sorry the Ass on the right, his brays joining the cock’s crow to greet each day. Country living at its best.
Two of Nebraska’s oldest consecutively run events were this past weekend. The Buffalo Run 5 Mile in Lincoln and the Omaha Corporate Cup 10K, long in the tooth and venerable.
Johnny Rutford led all finishers in Lincoln, the top 5 under my lifetime pr of 27:12! The fast guys, living in Omaha but representing Lincoln. Can you dig it?
1 Johnny Rutford Omaha NE 28 M 24:52 4:59
2 Nolan Zimmer Omaha NE 25 M 25:29 5:06
3 Eric Noel Lincoln NE 32 M 26:42 5:21
4 Matthew Cornell Lincoln NE 27 26:56 5:24
5 Tim Meyer Lincoln NE 38 26:57 5:24
Austin Post (34:01) was the first across the line at the Corporate Cup, just off my 33:55 personal best. That event a mere shadow of its former glory, from the fastest 10K in the state to a fundraising afterthought. So goes our sport in Omaha where there is zero advocacy for elite level running, and more is the shame. Living in Omaha but running for Lincoln. Can you dig it?
The Omaha Corporate Cup in 2010. When elite level running had a foothold in Omaha. My how times have changed!
We had a vested interest in yesterday’s Buffet Middle School Invitational XC Meet. His name is Jack. Jack Runde. Sam’s younger brother. Now the best runner in Beveridge Middle School history. I’ve told everyone that would listen that Jack has the potential to be an even better runner than his sibling. What I saw during the race yesterday brings that declaration more clarity. It went something like this:
“Are you in this to win this?” “Yes!” Jack immediately to the lead at the gun’s crack. One fella stride for stride, a small pack of three a few steps off. The first challenge came up the huge hill heading to mile 1. Jack and the other thinclad trading half step leads up the entirety of the climb. Just prior to the crest runner #2 stopped, hands on knees, completely gassed. Challenge one dispatched.
Watching the silhouettes run along the far ridge I commented on how much Jack’s stride has lengthened during the past year’s growth spurt. Another good sign. The chase pack not gaining, not losing ground. They followed some 5 meters back for the next mile, deciding the minor places among themselves.
Jack looked like a man among boys. Strong, powerful, and confident. With less than a mile to go the chase pack rallied together to track him down. Caught him with 1200 meters to go, but the cost was too great. Jack shook it out and then shook them off with a final move. I shouted that he would still need his kick and it was there when called upon. Finished looking like a champion.
This has been my 6th year to work with Jack (& Sam) and I’ve never been so proud of him. His dedication to the workouts over the summer showed me he is ready to make his own mark. To write the Bulldog record books. To show up at Burke’s doorstep next year and join his brother for what can only be imagined as a very special season.
The last 300 meters on the track (had Jack wear trainers instead of spikes) and the race still up to who wanted it the most. Jack ended up leading wire to wire thanks to a devastating kick. Another thing that bolsters my hope for his future, a close race that he refused to lose.
We’re all runners. We’re all completely different.
We get out of bed, pull our running britches on one leg at a time. Exactly the same up to that point. Its that first step that sets everyone apart from the other. We all run for our own reasons. And those reasons change through the course of a career.
There are runners very much better than you. There are runners not nearly as good as you. Those truisms never change. This column’s stock and trade has been heralding excellence at the highest individual level. Insisting on it. Pace irrelevant as long as the effort is true.
Do the terms “better” and “winner” upset your running apple cart? Are your emotions stirred by competition? This is the delineator of our sport. Non competitive runners experience our sport on a different level all together. They miss out on the visceral rewards of challenging others, the thrill of conquest. Acceptance of pain and suffering as conduit to self realization, measure of a Real Runner. Matters not if first or worst, if you are willing to dip deep into the dark well of personal limitation, you are on my side of the ledger. If you never “go there” you are missing out on the finest of what running has to offer. And probably have no interest in this column.
Linda and I are back to training with consistency. Daily workouts designed to incrementally increase our fitness levels with a goal of racing before year’s end. Coming to get you.
Our latest training digs include plenty of hills and long stretches of dirt roads. Perfect for this old body’s prep to return to competition.
Scurrying around the Bar None like a chicken with its head cut off, busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest, etc. Two Men & A Truck will be here this time tomorrow. Linda and I have moved the lock, stock, and barrel, they’ll do the heaviest of lifting. Our previous lives will be in storage tomorrow afternoon. Closest and dearest the last six and one half years we’ve spent building the Bar None.
The adventure begins in earnest then tomorrow night, first of many in the RPod. Sixteen foot cubicle of discovery, within and without. And Desi makes three.
I was running some fields out behind Joliet Jr. College in 1991 and noticed what seemed to be a wall, overgrown with weeds (worst case of poison ivy ever, but that’s another tale). I ran up and inspected the nearly quarter mile “structure” and found it to be a massive amount of field stones. Had my eye on some nice pieces of granite. Another run about a month later some cat was tossing rocks into the back of a pickup. I queried and was told the stones were cleared from the surrounding fields by Confederate prisoners during the Civil War. Dude owned the property and had just sold it to developers (now called Rock Run, how sweet). Said the new owners were going to dig a big hole and bulldoze them in, invited me to get as many as I could in the next week. So I did. Hundreds. Hardscaped the house and it looked boss.
Headed to Texas in 1992, the moving company HQ out of Minnesota called and asked what the heck was with the request to move a couple dozen of the biggest and best. My reply, “They’re historical artifacts.” So they did. All the way to temporary digs in Clute, Tx. Then on to Lake Jackson, Tx. And then Cypress, TX. And on up to my former swanky digs in West O is the Best O. And you guessed it, out to the Bar None. I swore it was their last move.
Until yesterday. I’ve spent the last two days picking out the ones these feeble old arms can still manage and moving to interim storage out at the 2Lazy2 Ranch. Where there’s a Will there’s a Way.
Meaning they have one more, and this time I mean it (!), move to our next landing spot.
These clock in around 200 pounds.
This one and its twin around 350. I’m getting too old for such shenanigans!