How did you wind up in the Shenandoah Valley area?
I was born in Dumfries and lived in North Springfield until 1975 when my parents wanted to move to the county and ended up in Catlett. I went to school in Pennsylvania for a few years and then migrated back to Fauquier County. I currently live in Warrenton where I moved in 1996 after getting married.
How did you get involved in running?
I have played soccer since second grade and I think running was the best part of my soccer game–speed and endurance. I did do a few races in my 20s as Bob Gurtler recalls, the Fauquier Democrat 10k, Prince William Hospital Fun Run 5k and a few others, but mainly I did the running to help me have greater endurance for soccer. In 2003 I was turning 40 and wanted to complete a marathon for my 40th birthday. I knew Bob Gurtler was a big time runner so I talked to him a few times about running and running a marathon. Bob told me that SVR had 10 spots for the Marine Corps Marathon for 2003, so if I joined the club I could get a spot in the marathon even through it was too late to sign up and get a spot. So I joined SVR and I still have the marathon form that Karsten Brown sent me for MCM. My goal was to run under four hours. I trained for and accomplished a 3:56:35. I gave up soccer a few years back and then started playing again but soon realized that soccer was not complementary to running. I realized it after I played a 90-minute soccer game on Saturday, got a hematoma on my left ankle, and then had the Army Ten Miler the next day. I did run my best 10 mile time at 1:02:56 but I know it could have been better minus the soccer game and injury. So I gave up soccer and I have been more focused on running.
Why do you stay involved with SVR?
I stay involved because of all the events that the club puts on and the great people that I enjoy running and competing with. The SVR organization does a great job for all of its club members. The Winter Series races have become a favorite of mine because at that the time of year there is not much going on and I enjoy running in the cold and in a medium snowfall anywhere. It is a soft quiet run that is like no other. I like to run on trails when possible that are not too rocky. My favorite race is Boston but I also enjoy the Apple Blossom 10k. I have run that race more than any other. My fastest time on that course was this year with a 38:18.
What are your best accomplishments?
Between 2008 and 2009, I have hit some major milestones that I had set for myself. For example, in 2007, I raced four 1-mile races, and all four races were 5:20s, so I thought that was the best I can do. But, I ramped up my training, and in 2008 I ran a 5:13 Father’s Day Mile, 5:12 Loudoun Street Mile, and then a 5:06 5th Avenue Mile. My goal is now to break five minutes, and I am still working on that one. I finally broke the three hour mark at the New York City Marathon with a 2:58:54. Then this spring, I raced with a pacer Bert Jacoby down at Shamrock Marathon and ran a 2:56:12. I guess I would have to say my favorite achievement was a month later running a 2:55:36 at Boston 2009. I would like to attribute some of my success to downloading a training plan off the Boston Marathon website. Based on the mileage and my marathon times, I choose to do a 16 week intermediate training plan. I did not follow every item on the list but I did become smarter about training in general instead of just going out and running miles. This training plan I adopted was to ready me to run a three hour Boston in 2008. I ran a 3:00:18 for Boston 2008 which was great but the 19 seconds was frustrating. Then for 2009, I downloaded the 2009 Boston Veteran Training Plan. It was more mileage but also speed work, intervals and hill work. Per Bart Yasso’s book, I ran the Monument 10k in Richmond. Bart says this is one of the fastest 10k courses in the nation. I have to agree because I ran a 37:15 down there this spring.
Other than the physical benefits, what do you get out of running?
That it is really about you. It is fun to compete and try to beat certain opponents but it really comes down to bettering yourself and the time or speed in which you are able to run a race per the venue, weather, and competition. I love the outdoors so that is a big part of the enjoyment for me. It is therapeutic and helps with problem solving and sometimes is helpful with creativity. I tend to think through things more when training then when I am racing I am really in a zone and focused.
What is your best distance and how do you train for that?
The marathon. I think I do better at the longer stuff. But I do believe that I am fast at short distances as well. I run 6-7 days a week anywhere from 5-10 miles per day. I go to the Freedom Center in Manassas and do light weights, stretching (foam roller), swimming, and rowing machine twice a week for 1.5 hours, if the family permits it. My mileage goes up when in marathon training mode. I think stretching, swimming, and bike riding helps to use different areas of the body so there is not so much repetition with just running. I like to ice my knees or anything that is sore in the evenings with SnowPack wraps–kind of a therapeutic thing–while watching TV or do a leg drain with my legs propped up on the back of the sofa.
How do you stay motivated and continue training?
I guess by setting goals for myself or races that I want to run or do well in. There are down times–in a hard race or one that I am not racing well–when I ask myself why am I doing this? but it only takes a little time and I get over it and I start thinking about the next race or goal that I have. I tend to train in the morning when it does not really affect my wife and kids. The gym work I do I usually tradeoff with my wife who has school meetings. She is an avid quilter and does things on the weekends as well. So we trade off there. The kids like to do mile races and some other events. I don’t push them too hard. I let them decide what they want to do or not do. I don’t have too many conflicts with my work schedule. I am pretty much 9-5. We recently switched to a different schedule that has longer days, but I have every other Friday off!
What advice do you have for other runners, especially beginners?
I would recommend creating a training plan and committing yourself to it. Put in training that is not always easy like hill repeats. I am 45 and I have to admit when I go out to run 10 hills repeats and 7 miles I would rather avoid it if possible. But every time I do them I feel better and stronger for it. Speed work on a track is not fun but it makes you better and faster. Try to pick a goal or a range of time for a race that you have the potential of making. It is very depressing if you set goals that cannot ever be reached. For beginners, start out slow with low mileage. Find another beginner runner to run with. Increase the amount you do no more than 10% a week. Also consult a doctor before starting your new hobby. Join a club like SVR and take advantage of all the knowledgeable people in the club that can assist you with running. Pick out a local small race to run like a 5k in two or three months and pick a pace or a time that you would like to run as your goal. Go out to a running store and have your gait analyzed per what type of running shoe you need and maybe pick up a cool shirt and shorts and socks to go with them. If you’re going to be a runner, you should dress like one and also be comfortable!