On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me . . .
Twelve months of running
Two car decals
* * *
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me . . .
Twelve months of running
Two car decals
* * *
With the new Great American Bull Run, runners, thrill seekers, and perhaps those with a death wish, can now get their jollies right here in the good old U S of A without the need to travel across the pond to Pamplona. Here is an article and video about an event that attempts to recreate the famous running of the bulls in Spain.
You can read about the real one here.
Data from Athlinks and Running USA indicate that more people race on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. No doubt many runners want to burn as many calories as they can in order to leave room for that second helping of pumpkin pie later in the day. Coming in a distant second in race popularity around the U.S. is the Fourth of July, followed by New Year's, then Mother's Day.
Some interesting Turkey Trot numbers from 2012
Number of Turkey Trot races: 630
Runners who competed in a Turkey Trot: 777,140
Percent of Turkey Trot finishers who were Female: 54%
Most popular Turkey Trot distance: 5K
State with the largest number of Turkey Trotters: California (2nd place, Ohio)
Estimated number of calories burned per runner: 438
Average number of calories consumed per person at Thanksgiving dinner: 3,000
Go here to find a Turkey Trot near you!
And who knows, maybe it will turn out to be your Best Race!
Do you have a 13.1 or 26.2 sticker on your car? Wear race T-shirts and other "I'm-a-runner" gear? Nothing wrong with that, although here is a cautionary tale from a non-runner who, for some reason, doesn't like to see people out . . . running!
For a rebuttal to that essay, here is a humorus piece from a Runner's World columnist.
Good luck to all the runners in this weekend's Philadelphia Marathon. Looks like perfect weather.
“I can’t do this” were four words Dan O’Connor did not like hearing at the starting line of the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon. The words came from Zach Dunn, a wounded marine who was attempting his first race in a hand crank wheelchair. “He was very reluctant once we got to the starting line,” says Dan. “I knew exactly what he was going through, so I calmed him down and said, ‘Zach, even if it takes us all day, we’re going to do this.’”
Dan knew what Zach was going through because he too was a wounded marine who had taken up wheelchair racing. Dan received severe leg wounds in Vietnam from an IED while leading a patrol. “I used to run track and cross-country in high school, but that ended real quick after ’Nam,” he says. It didn’t get any easier for Dan; several years after returning home he lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. Zach, a veteran of the Iraq War, suffered gun shot wounds, shrapnel wounds, and traumatic brain injury while serving in Falujah. “I got a call asking if I could ride along
with Zach in the race because he has a lot of injuries and needed someone to do
it with him,” recalls Dan. “He didn’t have the confidence to do it on his own.”
By then Dan was a veteran of over twenty marathons in hand crank wheelchairs, and was coaching other wounded marines in the discipline as a way for them to stay active. And speaking of being active, Dan will tell you he’s in better shape now in his late sixties than he was at thirty-five. Much of that is due to his relationship with Achilles International, the nonprofit where able-bodied volunteers and people
with disabilities come together to train and race. It was at a convention for
amputees where Dan was introduced to the Achilles program and the hand crank
wheelchair. “Achilles saved my life,” he says. I wasn’t physically active, I
was overweight, I had lost my leg, and I had a bad attitude. Through Achilles
I’ve done more on one leg than I ever did on two.”
At the start, it wasn’t just the physical challenge of going 26.2 miles by hand crank that bothered Zach. His reluctance had just as much to do with being around so many people. “A lot of veterans, especially from Iraq, are not comfortable in crowds,” says Dan. “They are taught to avoid congested places where they are susceptible to IEDs and suicide bombers. I encouraged him to go to the runner’s expo the day
before, and he stayed very close to me the whole time.” While the Marine Corps
Marathon is known for a few nasty hills, it is also known for having one of the
largest fields of any race, typically over 30,000 participants. For that reason
wheelchair athletes are allowed to start well before the runners.
“We got started but he wasn’t doing good at all; it was like he didn’t have any strength,” says Dan. “When we came to Key Bridge near mile four he could barely crank it. Then I noticed the front wheel axel had come loose and the wheel was pressing up against his break. He’d been rolling this thing all that way with the break on and was worn out!” One of the officials on the course was able to fix the wheelchair, but by then Dan and Zach were way behind the other wheelchair racers, and had been
overtaken by the multitude of runners. Another problem was getting up—and
down—the hills. “Typically you roll down one hill and can get halfway up the
next with little effort,” says Dan. “But Zach was apprehensive about getting up
any speed going downhill, which is half the battle. It was much more physically
demanding for us to go uphill with no momentum from the downhill.” The time on
the course also took its toll on Dan and Zach. For someone who was used to
rolling through marathon courses in two hours, Dan was feeling it. “I found
it’s harder on you to crank slowly for six hours than it is to crank fast for
two hours,” he says. Now near the end of the course, after all the other wheelchair
racers had finished, Zach was struggling even more.
The final mile of the course takes the athletes past Arlington Cemetery and up one more hill to the finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial. “We got to the bottom of the hill leading up to the finish and Zach was completely done,” recalls Dan. “He slowed down and looked at me and shook his head. I knew that waiting for him at the top were his mother, sister, and girlfriend, and I said to myself that he was going up
that hill come hell or high water! I don’t usually wear my prosthetic leg when
I race—it weighs eight pounds—but I had put it on for this race in case I had
to get out of the my chair to offer him assistance. So, I got out, grabbed the
front of my chair with one hand and put my other hand on his back and pushed
him up the hill. When we got to within thirty yards of the finish line I gave
him one more push and he did the rest. He was so happy he literally cried.
After that you couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. I think it gave him a sense
that after all that, he could do anything, and that’s why it was my best race.
I’ve had much faster times, but it was because of him and because I was a part
According to Dan, losing his leg was the best thing that ever happened to him. “It opened so many doors and changed my whole life. I’ve been able to travel and race all over the US and Europe, and it brought me back to my beloved Marines where I am able to coach the kids in the USMC Wounded War Regiment. To be able to show these kids that it’s not the end of the world to come home wounded—that if I can do it they can do it—is the best job someone can have.” On the Wounded War Regiment emblem there is a slogan in Latin. Translated, it means “Still in the Fight.” “It’s
great to sit back and watch these kids,” says Dan. “They lose their arms and
their legs but they just don’t quit. Like the slogan says, they are still in
And so is Dan O’Connor.
In its simplist form, it's just four laps around a track. But mile road races are also springing up all across the country. Have you ever raced a mile? If not, maybe you can become part of the movement to bring it back!
Bring Back the Mile is a national movement organized to return the Mile to prominence on the American sports and cultural landscape by elevating and celebrating the distance. My friend Ryan Lamppa of Running USA is founder of the movement.
Go to this website to learn more about it, join the movement, sign a petition, look up past mile records, and watch the "I am the Mile" video. One day runners will hopefully be comparing their mile PRs as they do now with their marathon PRs!
By the way, I was honored to interview American miler Steve Scott as one of the 50 runners who provided his "best race" story for my recent eBook. No one in history has run more sub four-minute miles (137) than Steve!
WIth the days getting shorter, I am reminded how dangerous it is for runners to be out on the roads, especially at this time of year. And with Halloween just around the corner, I also worry about traffic accidents with children out Trick-or-Treating.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were a total of 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011, the most recent year in which statisitics are available. A pedestrian, as defined in the report, is any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash.
While the statistics give no indication how many of those pedestrians were actually running or jogging, the message is clear: being safe when running on the roads is much more than just running in the direction against traffic, as we were always taught.
Here are some more sobering findings from the book called Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), by Tom Vanderbilt:
• Pedestrians think drivers can see them up to twice as far away as drivers
• Drivers often have no clue about how fast they are driving. In a study measuring the speed of drivers as they passed children waiting to cross a street, drivers thought they were going at least 12 mph slower than they actually were (i.e., they thought they were going 18-25 mph when they were actually doing 30-37 mph).
• During night driving, according to one expert, a driver would have to be going no more than 20 mph to ensure seeing every potential hazard in time to stop, including, say, a runner in reflective clothing.
In the Haiku tradition of Japanese poetry, a popular form consists of three lines and a total of 17 (5-7-5) syllables. Feel free to submit your own!
Where did summer go?
I just acclimated to
the heat. Now it’s cold!
Need to rake the leaves,
Or else go for my long run.
It's a no-brainer!
Fall means marathons.
Running twenty-six point two
will be life-changing
Falling Autumn leaves
are wet on my running trail.
That’s why it’s called “fall.”
A crisp fall morning,
And a run with an old friend.
Ain’t nothing better.
Year is going well.
I ran with no injuries.
Better knock on wood.
Running too much of a chore?
I know a good book!
Chris Russell of Run Run Live interviewed me about my new eBook and audio book on a recent podcast. (The actual interview begins at the 25:49 mark and ends at 51:20).
We discussed where the idea for the book came from, how I was able to get 50 runners (many of them household names in the running community) to agree to be interviewed, and the often surprising stories they told of what they consider the best race they ever ran.
For more Q&A about the whole interviewing and writing process, you can go to this previous post.