How did you get started in running?
In my early running, I ran my freshman year of high school. I ran anchor on the 4×400 and also anchored the shuttle hurdles. We set school freshman records in both. I also ran the low hurdles. But I was a basketball player and that was all I wanted to do. My high school won the West Virginia state meet in cross country my senior year in 1975 with a guy named Chris Fox, who would later run a sub 4 minute mile. He coaches at Syracuse now. I didn’t think of it then but I have regrets now. I could have been on that team! After years as an avid bicyclist I got back into running in my late 30s by running in some all-comers track meets and liked it so much I wanted to get into 5Ks. Later Karsten Brown gave me information about the SVR club so I joined. I still didn’t run my first 5K until I was 43.
How did you get involved with Shenandoah Runners and why do you stay involved?
I love SVR for the unique winter series. In my early days as a member, the newsletter was a source of upcoming races. Now with computers you can search for races without being a member of a club. But SVR was my first club and I’ll always be a member. The officers take the club seriously and have good ideas to keep it a good club. I also enjoy talking with many members before and after races. I encourage anyone with running questions or comments to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your best achievements in running?
Achievements for me are not always measured in wins and times. Some achievements to me are ones no one else even knows about, except maybe my daughter, such as the recent 10 mile workout I did on the track. We have a favorite quote which says, “A champion is one who is bent over, dripping with sweat, to the point of exhaustion, when no one is looking.” Another achievement for me was a streak I started after having hernia surgery in 2001. Since March 1 of that year, I have never missed running two consecutive days. If I take one day off I know I will run the next day. That can be motivational also. In 2008 I believe there were only 25 days that I didn’t run. As far as concrete achievements, being the first 50+ age runner to run under 40 minutes in the nine year history of the Greasy Gooney 10k was an intense goal which attracted me to the race. Also, I am proud of having run in 10 straight Apple Tramples with the last five being sub-18 minutes. Last year at age 51 the 5:01 I ran at my first Loudoun Street Mile ranks up there, and also last July I went to the Pennsylvania state games and in a meet that is 29 years old I broke two meet records in my age group with an 18:33 5K on the track and a 2:18 in the 800 meters. I just missed a third one by 1 second with a 4:47 in the 1500 meters with all three races on the same day. The 5K was the first time I had ever attempted an event such as that on the track. Very mentally challenging.
What have you learned from running?
I have learned you can push beyond the comfort zone to achieve things never thought possible. Nutrition is something I have learned a lot about also. I enjoy running as a way of life. Running is not just what I do but who I am. I think it defines me.
What is your favorite distance or type of race?
My favorite distance is the 5K but I love the track races from 800 meters up to 5K on the track. Anything more and I feel I don’t have the proper training time for preparation. The few 10Ks that I do I really enjoy though for the challenge they provide such as the Greasy Gooney. I also search out anything cross country style as these are more about challenge than time. It is very different racing on grass.
How do you train?
Training for me is rarely planned out. What I feel that day is usually what I do, unless it is a week of a special race. I try to have a speed work day each week in warmer weather and a long run early in the week but I don’t always stick to a plan since I race week nights in the summer, alternating track races in Hagerstown and Greencastle with two mile cross country races with Chambersburg Road Runners, while still racing most Saturdays. June and July could be 15-20 races each month culminating with the Pennsylvania Keystone Games in late July. It a hard demanding schedule but it makes me stronger in the fall. Overall I usually run 30-40 miles weekly. Anything above that is too difficult with having a midnight job.
Any favorite places to run or favorite races?
Of course a favorite race would have to be my hometown Apple Trample. It is unique in that the course is lined with parade spectators and many of them know me and let me know that they are there during the race. Many races that you grow to like over the years disappear though. My favorite places to run are any trails, with Poorhouse Park in Martinsburg at the top of the list. I love the C&O canal for long runs. I also search out places when I travel. Many people don’t like running circles on a track but I love it. You can lock me in a gym and I could run in circles for many miles. I have done it on bad weather days in the gym where I coach middle school basketball.
How do you stay motivated?
Motivation has never been a problem for me. My competitive nature takes care of that. With increased age I am motivated to maintain my fitness level for as long as possible. I am self-motivated in my workouts and the intensity of them is just the type of person that I am.
How do you balance your work/family obligations with your running?
Having a running daughter makes this easy. She is the best training partner anyone could want. She is the most dedicated runner I have ever been around, besides myself. We talk life situations as we run and I find out things I would never know otherwise.
What advice would you give beginning runners?
Beginning runners should keep it short and keep it enjoyable. Create a base of mileage before taking on bigger things. Short creates a desire to want more and eases the pain. My daughter was 11 years old and started with a half mile but she couldn’t wait for the next day, then the next day after that. She was training for the Hershey track program and ended up third in the state in the mile and half mile. Running without racing may just take fitness as a motivation. Those who want to race though eventually have to leave the comfort zone to get better. A myth is that the longer you run the easier it gets. That may be true if you continue at the same mile pace. But to get faster there has to be pain at some point. That means leaving the comfort zone, a pace you are comfortable with. I love the pain of a hard workout or race, as strange as that sounds. All running is good though and I tell young runners that running is something you can do lifelong. No matter what advice you pick up though you eventually have to sort through it and use what works best for you.