Monthly Archives: August 2013

COWBOYS DON’T CRY

Yes they do.  Received a text yesterday that the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute was streaming their graduation ceremonies online.  I got to see my dear sweet Allison’s hard work rewarded with her Baking and Pastry diploma.   And all before her 19th birthday!

I’ve been around kitchens and running for over 40 years (if you count being glued to the television watching Frank Shorter win the Munich Gold).  Have frequently waxed eloquent on similarities between the two.

I’ve seen chefs come and go, seen running clubs come and go.  Those that don’t stick around have a common element.  And now I get to use a phrase that I’ve seen popping up on the social media- “Weak Sauce.”

That is the reason I’m up and Giddy Up at 5:00 a.m. this morning.  My bane of the last many years has “shuttered”. Things ran their Natural Course.   I am not only not surprised but actually predicted it.  As I mentioned yesterday, you’re either in it for the right reasons or not.  I’m in this sport for the athletes, for life, and will outlast all my critics.  And in another three weeks I’ll be opening that magnum of Krug Clos d’Ambonnay I’ve been sitting on since 1996.

As Logan Watley told me a week ago, its a Good Time to be a runner in Nebraska.  I’d take it a step further and insist that it has always been a Good Time to be a runner in Nebraska.  Just depends on whose menu you’ve been reading.

Congratulations to Jenny Simpson on her Silver Medal in the Women’s 1500 yesterday.  You can go over to LetsRun.com and watch the race.  Nick Symmonds also got a Silver in the Men’s 800 earlier this week. Strong Sauce.

My boy Kyle Clouston is on his way to the Leadville 100.  He will be running the last 50 miles and doing some ZEN along the way.  Scott Jurek will be on the start line and that makes it a Real Race.  Sub 8:00 miles for 100, you bet!

alligrad The best young pastry chefs in America!  OCCI is the 2nd ranked school in the country, a small and exclusive graduating class.  Chef Tina Powers (back row, 2nd from left) also established the Metro Community College Culinary Arts program here in Omaha before going to the Culinary Institute of America and is one of the most highly regarded chefs in the United States.

contraband 5 mile Last night I birthday gifted Dr. Weeks this framed poster from the 1990 Contraband 5 Miler in Lafayette, LA. Signed and numbered by the artist.  It was special to me for the last 23 years as I ran my personal best of 27:12 that day.

 

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU

Hard for me to not identify with this anthem of my youth.  I live my life to the fullest, ranging far and wide, on a tight rope of my own design.  Trying to stretch one end to tenuous and unpredictable anchors.  Building a web as it were that keeps me giddy and fully alive.

The most reliable end is my devotion to athletic potential realized.  Easily recognized and quantified by the trained eye.  The other end more risky.  Those connections I’ve made with the merely mortal, that have communicated their own commitment to being the very best that they can.  Those I mis-identify (in it for the wrong reasons) and fail sting a little, the many successes, my healing balm.

No small coincidence that I ponder this on a Thursday morning.  Always rejuvenated and re-energized after watching the hale and hearty pour absolutely everything they have on the track the previous night.

This, my 6th year of Wednesday Night Track Work is by far the smallest and most rewarding.  A core group that shows up every week, bound and determined to achieve what others might only dream.  To delve deeper into themselves, to be purified through honesty, suffering, and self actualization.  To be Real Runners.  I care not what “talent” they bring to the track, only that they exhaust themselves completely.  And encourage each other to the same.  And by 7:00, a band of like minded souls, appreciative of their combined efforts and accomplishments.  Real.

Those that come are courageous, and when they finish, are better for it.  I’m just the middle man giving them the avenue, precipitous and fraught with failure it may seem, more rewarding than could be imagined when complete.  Real.

I tell the athletes, “This is how we do it“, I tell Coach John, “This is why we do it.”

Congratulations to Shain Kephart for being the first to recognize yesterday’s iconic quiz,  Thomas Hicks, winner of the 1904 Olympic Marathon in St. Louis.  Mike Reilly was only a few minutes behind him with the correct response.  They probably remembered that I was the Assistant Operations Director for the Women’s USA Olympic Trials Marathon in 2004.  Working under Dave McGillivray, better known as the Race Director for the Boston Marathon.  And speaking of Dave, he just finished running 59 miles to celebrate his birthday of the same number.  A pretty cool feat made remarkable by the fact that he has run his age in miles every year since he was 12.  Think about that.

And Happy Birthday to to my good buddy Dr. Bill Weeks.  Turns 47 again, looking forward to raising a pint and burning down the dance floor with him tonight.  7:00 pm., Upstream Brewing Co., be there or be decidedly square!

SCHOOL’S IN!

I hope you all took the 60 minutes to see the special on Mary Decker last night.  Very well done.  And this today from Ron Tabb:
“Thought ESPN did a good job not addressing any topics other than the fall and the L.A. Olympic games . Thought they missed an important fact Mary had never run a race longer than 1 mile before I began training and coaching her. Always said she was capable of running the first 2:20 marathon for a women if she could say healthy. For me it was more fun training and coaching Mary than being married to Mary. She was one hell of a competitor. Took exception to the fact she said she never took advice from her coaches, she did listen and took advice from me. She listened to me and moved from the middle distances to the long distances. Not that I was a great distance runner, but I am decent at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of distance runners. I.E. I worked with Meb in the early 90’s and told him he could become one of the greatest marathoners in the world. Told Mary the same thing! I think they have both done pretty well for themselves. I know I am proud to have had a connection to the both of them.”

I described my memorabalia collection as vast and vaunted yesterday, and its true.  And so I’ll be using it occasionally to introduce you to some important and iconic figures of our sport.  In quiz form just to see who knows what.  For today, 3 photos that were given to me, and your only hint, in 2004.  Name the race and the athlete please, correct respondents will get the prestige of having their names listed right here:

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FASTER IS BETTER

I’m digging the AT&T 4G LT Network commercials.  Its true, faster is better.

Favorite story from the Maine Running Camp in 1995:  Camp Directors and my old buddies John L. Parker Jr. (author Once a Runner) and Andy Palmer (Phd. Sports Psychology, founder of ZAP Fitness, dearly deceased) hosted a motivational meeting every evening.  Popped “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” into the vcr.  Played the scene where the fastest man in the west was gunned down.  Victor starts proclaiming he is the fastest there ever was.  Weak voice in the crowd says “No your not”.  Victor points gun and screams “who says that?”.  Blind man steps forward and says “Mister, there’s always somebody faster.”

Moral is:  Keep grounded and working hard while being mindful that there will always be someone out there gunning for you.  And that they’ll eventually get you.

There will be another great film showing tonight on ESPN (7:00 pm CST) as part of their Nine for IX series.  (If you are not familiar with Title IX, it was the groundbreaking legislation that provides an even field for women in athletics).  See the summary below and tune in tonight for a very important history lesson.

*bonus historical footnote- I was a 20 year old lad watching the 1978 Houston Marathon, Ron Tabb won the race in 2:17:11 a new Texas state record.  He would win again in 1980 in 2:13:35 also a new state record.  Ron was Mary Decker’s first husband.

Directed by Shola Lynch

Film summary

The expectations were sky-high for American distance runner Mary Decker as she lined up to make her Olympic debut in the 3,000 meters at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Decker had displayed unwavering dominance in every distance (from 800 to 10,000 meters) heading into the event, and her wholesome image graced magazine covers and adorned walls all over the world.

At age 25, it was her first Olympics; stress fractures in her leg kept her out of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and the U.S. boycott prevented her from competing in the 1980 Moscow Games. The 3,000 in L.A. was to be her coronation, the gold medal that would validate her greatness.

But there was another compelling figure in the race, a 19-year-old barefooted South African running for Great Britain, Zola Budd. Just past the midway point of the race, Budd crowded Decker on the inside lane and, in the panic and urgency of the moment, they collided. Decker fell to the track. Budd would regain her stride, but she finished a distant seventh behind the winner, Romania’s Maricica Puica.

Decker initially blamed Budd, but in later years they reconciled and tried to get past the collision. Still, Decker’s one moment of heartbreak came to define what should have been a glorious career.

“Runner” revisits one of the most infamous moments in sports history, and what life has brought the athletes since.

maryzolaA favorite piece from my vast and vaunted running memorabalia collection shows Mary and Zola dueling in L.A.  Look at that heel kick, no shuffling allowed in the Olympic games!

 

MAKING NO WAVES

A pretty unspectacular weekend for Team USA at the World Championships in Moscow.  For complete coverage please visit www.iaaf.org  I’m guessing that Usain Bolt gets a WR in the 200 meters this coming Saturday.

Some fast times at the Nebraska Association 5K Road champs in Lincoln.  Congratulations to Neil Wolford (15:27) and Frankie Peterson (18:37) of the Lincoln Running Co. Racing Team on their wins.  It was the perfect morning and the perfect course as many lifetime personal bests were set, fine running by one and all.  Nod to Colin Morrissey of Team Nebraska for taking it out hard and making a race of it.  He would finish second by a second.

Team Nebraska has added UNL grad Ashley Miller to the roster.  She will re-write some of the club records before long.  Giddyup Ashley!

Nebraska Run Guru Elite is now well on its way.  You will be seeing us soon.  Where my mantra for Team Nebraska was “In It To Win It”, NRGE will be guided by “Clean and Mean”.

I set up a USATF Nebraska Association LDR News facebook page last year.  I’ll start giving more complete coverage of our championships there, it is an Open Group so please do join and follow what our best athletes and clubs are up to. Nebraska Association President John Wissler is administering the LDR program since Matty P. moved to New York.  Elections for LDR Chair will be at next month’s annual Association Meeting.  We’ll hopefully have some strong candidates with bright vision and boundless energy.

My boy Luka Thor hit a high water mark running 115 miles last week.  Pretty amazing for a cat that works the night shift, takes classes, and administers his youth ministry.

Nice of Jimmie “Lucky” Doherty to stop by during yesterday’s afternoon run.  His folks live just a piece up the road, made for a nice round trip.  He’s looking as fit as I’ve seen him.

Please check on the banner up top for upcoming information on the 2013 Vala’s Monster Dash.  One of the favorite local races of the fall, sure to be a Spooktacular time for one and all.

My six miles yesterday morning were just a little easier and I’m a little less sore today.  I’m also down to 141 pounds making it a 16 lb. loss since May.  No more “fat” prs I guess.

Congratulations to John Tully on his 16+ miler this weekend.  He’s hot on my heels.

We’ve been at the Bar None for six weeks today.  I cooked dinner for a group of 14 yesterday, farm vegetables and my World Famous Flat Iron Steak.  Someone asked “Where’s your microwave?”.  We don’t have, need, or want one for what we do with the Good Mother’s freshest bounty.

I did extend a courtesy however by turning on the air conditioner for the day.

I also installed my ultra high efficiency clothes dryer this weekend.  The new Maytag in the basement can’t touch it.
clothesdryerThe Simple Life is The Good Life.  Fresh air.  No street lights.  Peace and Quite.

 

 

 

ONE CAPE PLEASE

I turned on the national NBC Nightly News last evening.  My former neighbor Sondra Dubas was being interviewed about her work founding Heart Heroes.  Her daughter Ashley was born without a pulmonary valve, after dozens of surgeries she is healthy and will soon turn twelve.  My son Miles and daughter Alli were her babysitters for several years, so I have a special place in my own heart for her.  The Heart Heroes provides superhero capes to kids battling heart problems.  Please check out the organization and do what you can to support.

Thanks to Andrew Jacob for pointing out that the Thunder Run 5K in Lincoln, set for tomorrow, is a Real race.  And in fact serves as the Nebraska Association 5K Road Championships.  As a card carrying USATF member and El Presidente of Nebraska Run Guru Elite that was news to me.  I hadn’t heard via email, nor is it publicized on the Nebraska Association website.  Me, I’m cool and can overlook such triviality.  But….

 WARNING!  As part of the Grievous Angel’s 2012 campaign to ruin me the following was included in her formal complaint against me to USATF, and I quote:

“4.  During his term as LDR Chair of the Association, Grievant has not received notice of any state LDR championship event as required by USATF Regulation 3 as incorporated in the Association By-Laws.”

I’m just saying.  Or was a bigger ax on the grindstone?  You decide.

And in response to yesterday’s column from my old buddy John: “If u missed pissing off anyone in the last couple of weeks u covered all rest of the bases today.  Maybe they will think u just went off your meds.”

Of course I got the good natured jab and couldn’t agree more.  The truth is a hard pill for people to swallow.

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NO CAPE PLEASE

I was born in the wrong era.  Actually not.

These days of Warrior Dashes, Mud Runs, Obstacle Challenges, and any other mass participation event that promises to make you a super hero or super human, I just don’t get it.  Can you walk 100 miles?  That will get you elevated to the highest podiums of accolade.  Can you simply finish a multi-sport event?  God like status bestowed.

Now you too can be the Supreme Athlete by joining 20,000 other Titans of Accomplishment at next month’s Hard Charge Televised Obstacle Mission in Greenwood.

My admitted modest running personal bests of 16:19/33:55/2:46:56 wouldn’t even get me to the first level of esteem these days.  I suppose most “athletes” these days are scratching their heads at what those numbers even mean .  Excepting of course the educated readers of this column.  What is the point of getting out and training 80+ miles a week, giving everything inside you, simply to RACE?  Have you felt a complete and utter failure for not finishing first?  Have you bled and sweated and cried for your sport?  Do you even remember the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Marathon team from 2012 London?

Running has been over socialized.  It began with every charity under the sun using our sport as fundraisers while giving exactly nothing back, especially to the front of the pack.  To that .05% that are most deserving of your respect.

Much better now to show up with 30 days of rhetoric and walk out with your horned helmet and artificially inflated ego.  I feel like a dinosaur sometimes.  Praise be to Buddha that there are still a few of us left.

The 16th annual Kool-Aid Days 5K will be this Saturday in Hastings.  Yes, Kool-Aid is still cool.koolaid

 

 

 

 

CITY SLICKER

With no apologies to the evil empire, Just Do It.  That is the mantra on the farm.  I’m very much a green city slicker, was pampered with disposable income for two plus decades.  Anytime there was a repair or remodel or any type of “handy work” necessary I’d phone it in.

Now that I’m poor but happy that doesn’t fly anymore.  Something breaks I better darn well figure it out or it stays broken.  In the last couple of days I’ve learned how to use a Saws All, run electric and gas, and take down a huge limb that was overhanging the power line to the house.  (Got to give a big thanks to my new buddy Jeff, a Man among men, for the assist.  Interesting fellow, four varsity letters and a couple of rings under Tom Osborne. Not many can say that.)

Still not my forte but diving in with a new found determination.  I’ve still got to get electricity to the new panel in the barn and get the well up and running to it too.  Nice to have dedicated services to the huge structure but its up to me.  Got a good tip from my old buddy Bill, “just get in there and do it, you’ll figure it out.”

And while things are getting done I am getting knocked around a bit.  Bruises on the forearms and legs, scratches and minor cuts abounding.  My hands looking more and more like my dad’s.

Linda is busy too.  Still doing the light landscaping, the property looks better each day.  She put up zucchini and apples yesterday.  Our intent is to fill the horizontal freezer before the first frost.  Self sustainability as much as possible.  Man have priorities changed for both of us.

Jed the Wonder Dog led me on a chase yesterday.  Some wind sprints to start my morning.  I finally found him in a neighbor’s yard, fifteen feet off the ground, up a tree, chasing a squirrel.  Coaxed down and re-collared, never a dull moment with the big guy.  And it is getting my 200 meter time down to respectable digits.

Another couple of weeks and I hope to resume Real training.  But for now, Chores call from every corner.

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COOL CHANGE

The Little River Band was one of my favorites back in the 70’s.  Cool Change was a mellow tune that soothes me still.

I’ve been going through my own cool changes this year.  After running 3000 miles last year I’m on pace to hit maybe 5 or 600 this year.  And the well documented departure from my former club.  And for those that may have noticed, my road race management efforts have been drastically reduced.  The Big Blue Run went by the by after 3 years of attempting to raise money for prostate cancer awareness.  And its only with a small twinge of sadness that I’ve canned the Swamp Stomp, ending its 8 year run bringing a little Cajun fun and food and racing.

Important to note here that none of the events would have had their modicum of success without the support of the road race management team members.  There were a lot that came and went and are due their due.

Until last year the races had a single beneficiary, Team Nebraska.  All race proceeds from 2005-2011 went to the club.  In 2012 my change in marital status necessitated retaining most of the proceeds as income (joining others such as Ben Cohoon, Peak Performance, Susie Smisek, etc. as professional race directors).  I did loan the club $6000 in proceeds from the Ni-Bthaska-Ke Trail Run last year.  Fully expecting to be repaid.  Half of the amount was returned earlier this year, after much wrangling.  I’ve been told to forget the rest.  Not a chance.  And the prompt for today’s column.

No small change.  During my reign of terror (ha!) I donated over $60,000 in race proceeds to Team Nebraska.  Arranged sponsorship from the Lincoln Marathon, Brooks and Clif Bar that was worth even more.  And those are soft estimates.  That is how so many athletes were able to take advantage of so many competitive and developmental opportunities.

Just a few fun facts you should be aware of before weighing in on the current state of affairs.

Reminiscing

 

 

 

MASTERED

Interesting ride as lead bike at yesterday’s Lake Wehrspann 10K.  My boy Jimmie Doherty showed he’s got huevos, taking it out at an honest and respectable 5:23 first mile.  His training has been going well and he wanted a test of fitness on this USATF Certified course.

I’ve pushed local course certification for over a decade, legitimizing performances and promising Real Competition.  Well I got it half right.  I know you get tired of me harping on this but tough.  Jimmie was the only Team Nebraska runner to support the Omaha Running Club’s race.  Seriously, only one single athlete could make this?  Not even one female?

It becomes more and more apparent that Team Nebraska is decidedly not the club it used to be, not the club that I built into a local, regional and national powerhouse.  I’m getting over it but these painful reminders are still tough on me.  For every critic of my management style (In It To Win It), there is no disputing that I was able to get results.  Kelly Crawford has had a tough row to hoe following in my footsteps.  He’s a good guy with the right intentions and does well what he does.  Which leaves me scratching my head.  Why doesn’t my former team race anymore?  On the other hand I hear the team party was well attended and a hoot.

I urge everyone to make time this evening, say from 6:00-7:00, and get yourself to the Upstream Brewing Company.  Everyone knows I’m a big fan of the Amazing Joe Cole, as fine a magician as you’ll find in the Midwest.  Joe takes a couple weeks off every year and his buddy from Phoenix comes up to fill in.  He scared the bejeezus out of me last year and I will be front and center tonight to catch his signature trick once again.  In a nutshell, he asked me for a coin, I produced a penny from my pocket, and he proceeded to levitate it and make it travel around the bar and then back to me.  You’ve got to see it to believe it.

My old buddy Deena Kastor set the American Record for masters females at this past weekend’s Beach To Beacon 10K.  She turned in an excellent 32:28, how did she get to be 40 already???  Next up for the masters will be Magdalena Lewy Boulet.  She turns 40 on August 8th and will compete in the USA Masters Road Mile Championships the next evening.  Both of these Olympians will be re-writing the record books in short order.

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I worked with Deena back when she was Drossin.  Shown here racing Marla Runyan.  I worked with her too when she was winning road and track titles.  Marla was interesting, a former heptathlete turned distance ace, and legally blind.  They were the top females of the 90’s, Deena continues to amaze.