Monthly Archives: September 2013


Scene: Sunday’s 2013 Berlin Marathon.   Wilson Kipsang nailing down a red letter day in marathon history setting a new World Record of 2:03:23.

Think of the most remarkable thing you did this weekend, running wise.  Now think of the most remarkable thing anyone you know achieved this weekend.  Or ever.  Now think of the impossible.  Now make it possible.

Go to the track today.  Run a 100 meters.  In 18 seconds.  Easy?  Probably not.  Then try this.  Run a 200 in 36 seconds.  Not so easy eh?  Time to move up.  Run a quarter mile.  In 72 seconds.  

Hey, where’d everybody go?  OK, a couple of you still out there.  Now run a mile.  In 4:42.  Only one of you still with me?  Now run a 5K.  In 14:35.

Nobody left.

Now that you’ve got an inkling, this is exactly what Kipsang did for 26.2 miles.  Eight 14:35 5Ks back to back to back.

Look here now.  All runners are not created equal.  The sooner and more easily that you accept this the closer you are to becoming a Real Runner.  Real Running has no bearing on talent bestowed by the deities.  But Kipsang provides a fine jumping off point.

You want to be a Real Runner?  Read on.

Real Running is giving more than you have, wondering where it came from, and trying to get there again, and again, and again. Real Running is never being satisfied.  Real Running is seeking out Real Competition.  Real Running is getting beat.  Real Running is winning.  Real Running is done all alone.  Or with like minded training partners.   Real Running is utter and complete exhaustion.  Real Running needs no recognition.  Real Running is respecting those that came before you.  Real Running is You vs.You.  Real Running is In It To Win It!

Real Running has nothing to do with talent.  Real Running is not patting yourself on the back and seeking or accepting accolades for simply finishing a distance, any distance.  Real Running is not having something left in the tank.   Real Running is not building excuses.  Real Running is not carrying on a social hour during a race.  Real Running is not something to cross off a bucket list.  Real Running is not slowing down to wait, or take pictures, or show us your skinny runner biceps.  Real running is not showboating by pretending to use a pace stick as a golf club.  Real Running is not doing cartwheels at the finish of a race.  Real Running is not wearing some goofy costume  (unless of course it is the Vala’s Monster Dash 5K!).  Real Running is not the Warrior Dash.  Real Running is not the Color Run.  Real Running is not the Mud Run.  Real Running is not any of the myriad events that dumb down or completely ignore competition.

Thanks to Jason Zakaras for pointing out that last Friday’s pic of the Omaha Marathon start was 2011 and not 2012.  Time really does fly!

before me

Those that came before me.  L to R.

Julie McKinney, 2:35 marathon p.r., former USATF Womens LDR Chair.
Nina Kuscik, First female winner of Boston Marathon, 2 time NYC Marathon winner, former WLDR Chair.
Charlie Mahler, Co-Founder (ahem!), USATF Men’s Athlete Development Program
Joy Smith (front), 2:32 marathoner, former USATF Womens LDR Chair, I took over the Womens Championships Chair from Joy in ’02.
Kim Keenan-Kirkpatrick, current USATF Womens LDR Chair. Asst. Distance Coach Beijing Olympics
Carol McLatchie, former Womens LDR Chair, 2:34 maratoner, 32:07 10K pr.  My mentor.
Hank Brown, former Mens LDR Championships Chair.  RD for Crazy 8s 8K (WR course)
Ray Lapinski, another original mentor.  Sub 2:20 marathoner and :47 quarter mile range.  High Performance genius.
Me. Happy to have had the 15 years experience of working with such an historical group of athlete/adminstrators.  Still in my little bald noggin, giving my words courage and credibility.  Inspiring Real Runners.  Confounding fools and tools alike.










A few pics to cheer up your Friday morning!

jcnz2John Campbell of New Zealand ran 2:11:04 at the 1990 Boston Marathon.  As a masters runner!  And he was Clean as a whistle.  It was nice of John to send me this autographed poster.

9425KI kicked some butt in the 1994 K-Arts Classical 25K in Houston, running sub 6 minute pace.  25K has revealed itself as my sweetest spot in racing.  I was Lean and Mean and Clean and still am!


Nine years earlier I led the first 20 miles of the 1985 Galveston Marathon before succumbing to the heat and humidity.  One of half a dozen marathons I’ve DNF’d.   A 5K stretch of the race was run on the beach.  Notice the Nike American Eagles, less than 4 oz. each!  And a study in Perfect Running Form.

om12The start of the 2012 Omaha Half and Full Marathons.  The Good Mates were out in force supporting our hometown event.  Ah, the good old days!


Original AP photos are part of my collection.  These are the top 3 finishers from the 1955 Boston Marathon.  Hideo Hammura of Japan set a course record of 2:18:22 for the win.

Feliz Viernes!





One of the best exercises for my mind is the fast.  I began on Tuesday and finished up a little earlier than planned at ~ 7 last night.  Just over 24 hours and the Mental Clarity was just what I needed.  Once your body shifts from immediate caloric needs to the maintenance of basic bodily functions, acuity of the mind occurs.  You begin to see things a little sharper, a more clear focus (bofus?).

I had intended to carry the fast through this morning but Temptation was victorious last night.  Thanks to Kelly Hennen for bringing the wonderful cookies to Wednesday Night Track, they were amazing.  We are winding down our season with only 4 more meetings for the 2013 campaign.  As mentioned before, this is the smallest and most rewarding group in the 6 year history of the program.

Kelly is not only good with the sweets, she’s also good with her feets.  She has earned the Most Improved award for 2013.  She ran the Omaha Half on Sunday and lowered her personal best from 2:18 to 2:03!  A fifteen minute improvement has just whetted her appetite though, up next is sub 2 and more in my opinion.

NRGE’s Lindsey Brezenski also scored a big personal best at the Omaha Half with her 1:28:42 knocking 7 minutes off of her previous fastest time.

And so our Wednesday Night Stalwarts are here, in the fall, with Great Fitness.  What to do with it?  RACE!  PERSONAL BESTS!  GIDDYUP!  This is why I/you busted your rumps for the last 24 weeks!  And I couldn’t be happier or more proud for you.

Nearly sliced the end off my little pinkie yesterday while prepping ratatoullie.  Thanks to Dr. Bill Weeks and the good folks at Gretna Family Health for getting me stitched up, I was their first minor surgery in their new digs at 11820 Standing Stone.

Proud to announce the addition of two to NRGE.

John Tully has been my right hand man for the last few years on Wednesday Night.  A keen observer and quick student, I can count on John for everything from athlete assistance to financial acumen.  Be sure and give John a holler at Met Life if you need a savvy shepherd for your savings!

Pete Kostelnick also has adopted the Peace, Love, Run kit and will be doing amazing things for our club and our sport.  Hard to believe he was still a free agent and I’m glad to have him.  His RAGBRAI run has assured his place in Nebraska running lore but he has yet to scratch the surface of his aspirations.

biggerbennyThe Bar None is a Big Dog’s haven.  Jed is 100 pounds and Benny the Giant Schnauzer is much more.  Having them on the front porch helps us sleep at night.

fastjedPure speed is just one of Jed’s advantages.

wildjedIf the Bear sized claws or fangs don’t get you, those ears certainly will.  These hosses play rough!

jedmeThey say dogs come to resemble their masters.  Jed & I both have a bark bigger than our bite and are pussycats at heart.  But my dog can whip your dog and that tickles me pink.  Jeesh must everything  be a competition with me?  Mostly.






One of the biggest joys of writing a daily blog is the reader feedback.  To know that these humble (ha!) words are consumed, digested, and either synthesized or regurgitated, is a primary motivation for the regular scribbles.

With that in mind, thanks to the anonymous “Sorry I’m only 15 and not supposed to have email.”  for pointing out, with supporting data,  that my declaration of Stacy & Scottie’s race on Saturday making them the fastest mother/daughter combo in state history was not correct.  As always I accept responsibility for the error and continue to invite corrections to misstatements.  Seriously, fifteen and no email privileges?

I was also chastised by Omaha Marathon winner Derek Fey for not covering his story.  So I’ll offer this:  Derek was one of the original Team Nebraska athletes back in 2002.  I remember driving to Westside High School to deliver his free shoes and gear to him.   I also remember taking up a hell of a fight on Derek’s behalf, against Elite Racing.  They refused to grant him elite status into a half marathon they were putting on, citing his 1:09:30 qualifying performance was achieved on a non USATF Certified course.  I raised hell about it and burned a bridge with the elite athlete coordinator.   And that’s the nicest thing I have to say.

The Market to Market Relay is just around the corner.  The only sure thing is the Lincoln Running Co./ Pepsi- Masters will defend their title, having won it every year.   Supposed to be a stud club coming over from Iowa but with yesterday’s addition of Craig Christians to their team they will be tough to beat.

NRGE won’t have an entry into this year’s M2M, but we’ll be coming after you in 2014 you bet!

Questions:  Would anything in the world change for the better or worse or at all if I didn’t carry a USATF membership?  Would my drive and love and passion and work on behalf of NRGE, Team Nebraska, and the sport in general be diminished?  Would I be rendered ineffective and useless?  Or would I continue to do exactly what I do anyway?  Just curious.

Houston 83

Coming into the finish of my very first marathon.  Still a nice little tuft of hair back then.  I ran 3:09 with no Real Training and Nike Waffle Trainers.  My longest run was 15 miles and I’d only done one of those.  If only I knew then what I know now!  And here I am over 30 years later, still doing things my own way.






The anti social media is having a field day with the Omaha Marathon.

For the remainder of today’s column I am posting a Wall Street Journal article from Sept. 19th for your inspection and approval.  Thanks to Joy Shulz for forwarding, she knows me well.  All bolding and italics are inserted by me.

“Saying I finished in the top 15% of my age group in last month’s Chicago Triathlon is like bragging that I could outrun your grandpa. My age group was 50 to 54.

But against the entire sprint-distance field, I finished in the top 11%. That’s right: Team Geriatric outperformed the field.

I’d love to report that this reflects the age-defying effects of triathlon. But my hair is gray, my hearing is dull and my per-mile pace is slower than it used to be, even at shorter distances.

Rather, this old-timer triumph is attributable to something that fogies throughout the ages have lamented: kids these days.

They’re just not very fast. “There’s not as many super-competitive athletes today as when the baby boomers were in their 20s and 30s,” said Ryan Lamppa, spokesman for Running USA, an industry-funded research group. While noting the health benefits that endurance racing confers regardless of pace, Lamppa—a 54-year-old competitive runner—said, “Many new runners come from a mind-set where everyone gets a medal and it’s good enough just to finish.”

Now, a generational battle is raging in endurance athletics. Old-timers are suggesting that performance-related apathy among young amateur athletes helps explain why America hasn’t won an Olympic marathon medal since 2004.

Of the two Americans who won marathon medals that year, one—Deena Kastor, who is now 40—was the top finishing American woman at the marathon World Championships in Moscow last month. The other—38-year-old Meb Keflezighi—was the top American male finisher at the London Olympics marathon last year. Hunter Kemper, the 37-year-old winner of last month’s Chicago Triathlon, remains arguably America’s top triathlete as he aims for his fifth Olympics.

“Why isn’t any younger athlete knocking them down a notch?” said Lamppa.

Some observers see larger and scarier implications in the declining competitiveness of young endurance athletes. “This is emblematic of the state of America’s competitiveness, and should be of concern to us all,” Toni Reavis, a veteran running commentator, wrote in a blog post this week entitled “Dumbing Down, Slowing Down.”

Median U.S. marathon finishes for men rose 44 minutes from 1980 through 2011, according to Running USA, and last year nearly 75% of road-race finishers were 44 or younger, with 25- to 34-year-olds representing the largest age group.

Last month, Competitor Group Inc. announced it would no longer pay appearance fees for professional runners to compete at its Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and half-marathon series in the U.S. CGI still pays travel expenses and more for the elite.

But to some observers, that change contributed to a growing embrace of mediocrity.

If you’re going to get just as much praise for doing a four-hour marathon as a three-hour, why bother killing yourself training?” asked Robert Johnson, a founder of, adding that, “It’s hard to do well in a marathon if your idea of a long session is watching season four of ‘The Wire.'”

But instead of fighting back, the young increasingly are thumbing their nose at the very concept of racing. Among some, it simply isn’t cool, an idea hilariously illustrated in a 2007 YouTube Video called the Hipster Olympics. In those Games, contestants do anything to avoid crossing the finish line—drink beer, lounge in the grass, surf the Web.

Yet something remotely akin to that is happening. Perhaps the fastest-growing endurance event in the country, the Color Run, doesn’t time participants or post results. “Less about your 10-minute mile and more about having the time of your life, The Color Run is a five-kilometer, un-timed race,” says its website.

Then there is Tough Mudder, a fast-growing series of obstacle-course challenges that proudly dispenses with an endurance-racing staple: the results page. “Since Tough Mudder is an event, not a race, we do not post the finish times on our site,” says the Tough Mudder website. Arguing that results pages detract from camaraderie, Tough Mudder adds that obsessing about finish times is “lame.”

That idea sounds downright un-American to Joe Desena, founder of the rival Spartan Race obstacle-course series. His competitors are timed and their results posted, with many aspiring to earn a slot in the Spartan World Championship this weekend. Likening to communism events that promote “hand-holding over competition,” Desena said, “How well is that everybody-gets-a-trophy mentality working in our schools?”

Desena also contends that eliminating timing chips and results pages is a sure way to increase profit—while shielding one’s customers’ names from competitors. For Spartan, the cost of tracking and posting performances is significant, he says. “If you can pull the wool over your customers’ eyes and convince them that communism is better, you can drop at least $40,000 to your bottom line every race,” he said.

Of course, there are countless super-elite young athletes. And only because the young have no need to prove they’re not old was I able to outrace so many of them last month. Still, apathetic competition offers little comfort to some aging athletes.

After finishing last month’s Virginia Beach half marathon in the top 2% of the 50-54 age group, Brendan Reilly was shocked to find he’d made the top 1% of the overall field—despite running 27 minutes slower than the personal best he’d set more than two decades earlier.

“I wasn’t thrilled,” said Reilly, a sports agent in Boulder, Colo., adding that “races are turning into parades.”





Interesting weekend launching me right back up onto the tightrope (one side’s hate and one is hope).

Saturday’s Omaha 5K went just about as well for Nebraska Run Guru Elite as I could have hoped.  Four of our athletes debuting and finishing in the top 7.  I loved that.

Stacy Mangers and her daughter Scottie (20:07, 20:13) finished First and Second Overall.  Me 6th and Linda 7th.  Out of 69 finishers.  Sixty one year old Lou Soukup was the first male across the line in 20:32.

Yesterday’s Omaha 10K found another eyebrow raiser.  Bridget Easley (36:59) was the overall winner, besting the first male by two minutes.  I rode the lead bike for the 10K and it was Bridget all alone for the entire race.  I couldn’t even see the 2nd place finisher she was so far ahead.

What the hell?

Granted the half and full marathons were the feature events.  And noting too that there has never been a stronger advocate for women’s runners in Nebraska than myself.   ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  How does a major city like Omaha, on its feature weekend, fail to come up with a couple of guys that might actually win a local race?

Congratulations to NRGE’s Lindsey Brezenski on her 3rd place finish in the half marathon.  A huge pr in 1:28:42.  Her training is spot on going into the Des Moines Marathon next month.

I also rode in the lead woman for the full marathon.  Got to see the new course and it seemed fine.  Fast.

Got a very interesting phone call from John Wissler this morning.  The first USATF Nebraska Association meeting I’ve missed in 12 years.  It was hard, kind of like kicking the little birdie out of the nest, hoping it will fly.  Hoping a fair breeze blows under the wings of Michael Rathje of the Lincoln Running Co. Racing Team.  As the new LDR Chair  I wish him energy, vision, a tough hide, support from a Very Diverse running community, and all the best.   I created and nurtured it for over a decade, its time for new blood and Michael is a Good Man for stepping up.

All I want is to be left mostly alone.  I moved to the country to Get Away From It All, understand?  No drama, no cliques, and especially no crazies.  Let me be Free and Happy.

Peace, Love, Run.


The mates!  Stacy is not only the fastest masters female in Nebraska, she now shares the distinction of being the elder half of the fastest mother/daughter combo in state history.  This was Scottie’s first race since college several years ago.  She just started running again with me coaching her for the last 3 weeks.  She’s coming to get you girls!  Our uniforms reflect the philosophy of Acceptance and Diversity of NRGE.






This weekend reminds me it was only fitting that as a Real Cowboy I would eventually wind up as a Trail Boss for the River City Roundup.  The two year (2007-2008) run of the Omaha Mile re-wrote the state record books, hosted Olympians and World Record holders, and left an indelible mark on Real Competition in Nebraska.  And made me a Trail Boss.  Linda too.

In 2007 I brought in a handful of national class studs to beat up on the Good Mates.  While a few yokels were scratching their heads our runners were learning the True Essence of Team Nebraska.  Real Competition.  As is my fashion I went into the race predicting and promoting the first legitimate (USATF Certified) sub 4:00 road mile in state history.  Ryan Kleimenhagen‘s (Team USA Minnesota) 3:59 did just that.

The monthly meetings at the Blackstone with the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben hierarchy will always be a highlight of my chapter in Omaha.  Captains of industry, business leaders, civic stalwarts, all working to bring Omaha’s tradition year after year, it was an honor to sit among them.  In a “its who you know” moment, a brief sponsorship coup in ’08 with Alegent Health and ConAgra Foods ponying up prize money and support for the record setting field.

Multiple World Record Holder Henry Rono was in town.  That is a whole other story.  So was Elkhorn’s Olympian Alice Schmidt (state record, 4:39).  They didn’t overshadow Peter van der Westhuizen‘s own state record of 3:58.  Interesting to note that a young 19 year old phenom named Colin Morrissey would finish 9th overall in 4:35.

Getting stronger every day.  Nebraska Run Guru Elite is happy to announce the addition of three new athletes.  Stacy Mangers will be toeing the line at tomorrow morning’s Omaha 5K.  Also making her debut for the club in the a.m. is my dear sweet Linda Kunasek.  Both ladies will be joining NRGE’s Roxi Erickson, three of the toughest masters women in the midwest, proud to have them all.  In an interesting twist, Stacy’s daughter and NRGE mate Scottie Shaw is also making her debut.  This will likely be the fastest ever mother/daughter 5K in state history.   The third athlete joining us is Walter Key.  One tough hombre that is as coachable as he is hard working.  One of a few Real Men that have ever completed the full McLatchie Ball Buster.  Active duty Navy, husband and father, world of potential.



Ah, the Good Old days.  Notice how our ‘Lil Wranglers Run was free for the kiddos.  Check out the results here:


And a little something from my collection.  This is from my neck of the woods in Illinois.  I like this because it shows Champion of Attitude, Champion of Posture.  You want it from them?  Be ready for a fight!


Another vintage piece.  The Manhattan Athletic Club team for a competition in Europe.  Harper’s Weekly, dated May 30, 1891.  I want the guy on the left for my team.



I always try to bring something just a little different to the awards presented at my races.  The Swamp Stomp’s came directly from New Orleans.  The Monster Dash for the first several years, offered signed pieces by accomplished local artist Candace Blanchard.  The Omaha Mile gave out cow bells in 2007 and some cool belt buckles in 2008.  Cabela’s cast iron pieces at Ni-Bthaska-Ke.  I’m hoping people hang on to those mementos that have just a tad bit of cool to them.

At last year’s Monster Dash we gave out some of the scariest awards ever.  Hand painted skulls, very elaborately decorated.  Those were so well received that we will once again feature them.  A Grande Muchas Gracias to local artists Dan Knobbe and Agustin Delgado for their fine work and contribution.

The HITS Running Festivals roll into town this weekend.  I’m hopping in the 5K on Saturday morning.   On Sunday riding lead bike for the 10K and then doubling back to bring the women’s leader in for the marathon.  I’ve been putting a few hard miles in on the Felt just to prepare.

This whole Bo Pelini dropping the F bomb a couple of years ago.  I’m interested in the posturing and words between him and Tom Shatel more than anything else.  The most profound words to come out of the entire ordeal were in Shatel’s column today.
“You can’t be that school that fires a coach after a cheap shot from an anonymous person, looking for revenge or a thrill.”


This little paper weight is a treasure.  My very first 10K and hardware, I was hooked.

95rftaVenus de Milo statuettes were the awards at my 1995 Run For The Arts.  We had local artists produce the awards for 8 years running.

skullEach skull for this year’s Monster Dash is hand painted and decorated.  Spooktacular indeed!




Two words I’d like for you to ponder, Potential and Excellence.  One is a road, the other a determined destination. They both are a bridge.

Anyone and everyone can be on the road to their own personal potential.  Astute readers know that I speak to the very heart of potential development, regardless of ability.  They are able to garner the occasional nugget of wisdom that applies directly to their training and racing.  They understand that running, this most basic of human activities, can bring rise to some of the most complex emotions.  And I’m thrilled that so many of you check here to see if there is something to be gained or learned in the dealings of athletic dreams.  Achieving personal potential is achieving personal excellence.

But its all relative.  Real Grandeur is reserved for only the top .001%.  And that ain’t us folks.  Completing a training run may be fulfilling but knocking out a really dirty, nasty workout goes way beyond fulfillment.  Getting from point A (the start) to point B (the finish) may be rewarding, but being the first across the line is exhilarating.  Those that are Really Excellent should be recognized and respected, even revered, instead of reviled.

The rest of us can still bask in the glow of our own personal excellence, as long as we have developed our own personal potential.

I received an email suggesting I correct my comments on the women’s race results from the Omaha Corporate Cup.  The official results list two females that ran 34:19 and 34:20, I didn’t bother to include them in my coverage.  When called to the carpet I mentioned that it was not possible that two women would run that fast and I wouldn’t know them, especially if they were sisters.  But then I thought for a moment, “hey, maybe you are wrong once.”  So I checked with the results guru and sure enough I was right, the two women were transposed from the 2 mile into the 10K results.  As always I appreciate and encourage feedback from the gentle readers.


I thought I was pretty excellent back in 1983.


First in the 20-29 age group and 2nd overall in 1986.  Still feeling quite cocky.  I would never win a marathon outright.


As I matured I realized that excellence is relative, that perceived exertion does not substitute for Real Excellence, but is still Real nonetheless.


My personal potential and personal excellence finally merged at the ’95 Houston Marathon with a modest 2:46:56.  My pursuit of marathoning excellence lasted nearly 12 years.   I would run the 100th Boston in 1996 and then retire from competitive marathoning for the next 13 years.






Of excellence.  Of change.  Of potential.  Of dreams.  Of discord.  Of happiness.

I’ve been involved in our sport for a long time.  Long enough and at the appropriate levels to give meaning and weight to my words.  A lot of you get that and appreciate my singular perspective.  Others blow me off as pompous and self absorbed.  I thoroughly enjoy tickling both of those keys.

I would (and often do) go so far as to say I have more experience at more different levels of our sport than anyone else you know.  And that makes me who and what I have become. Like it or not.   A Herald, a Promoter, a Coach, a Critic, a Poet, a Seer, an Athlete, an Administrator, an Author, an Educator, an Historian.

Why in the hell would I spend the last 10+ years writing and fighting about running and athletics?  Why would I lay my soul bare, expose the rawest of nerves, put up my dukes and take your best punches, suffer loss and disappointment at the hands of those that hate?

Because I must.  It is what I do, who I am.

I’ve had a fortunate if sad last quarter of a century.  Lucky because I got/get to do exactly what I love.  Sad because that opportunity came with a heavy price.  Those that know me best understand exactly what I mean.  But that chapter with all its glory and angst is past.  Now a Good and Healthy woman fills my days and nights.  Thank you Linda for fanning the flames of Real Love.


This pin commemorates the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival Torch Run.


This poster captured the spirit of the Festival, still one of my very favorites.


As a 29 year old and as part of the Olympic Festival I had the privilege of carrying the Torch from Pasadena, TX to LaPorte, TX.  Perfect form eh?


Part of my collection is this Limited Edition Torch issued by TAC (The Athletics Congress, precursor to USATF).

Keeping the flames alive.  Its what I do.  Its who I am.