With Father's Day fast approaching, it seemed only fitting to connect with you with one of the running dad's who contributed to The Ultimate Runner. Mike Rush shared his story of running a 5K with his daughter and the accomplishment of finishing the event together in the story, My Medallion. As a parent who has slowly run a race with a child, I can identify with the moment of joy when finishing - no matter how long it took to get to the line. Get to know Mike as he shares more about his running life.
Why did you start running?
I'd been teaching public school for five or six years when I realized I had a lot of personal stuff to think about. I also needed to get into better shape. Running was the answer. My first running experience was a little less than half a mile in t-shirt, sweat pants, and high-top Converse basketball shoes.
Best running advice you ever received?
Refuel and hydrate during the run. I didn't eat anything during my first marathon until about mile 20. A lady was holding orange wedges and I was so hungry I ate the orange along with the peel. I also thought I needed to run through all the water stations, as though I was trying to maintain my world-class pace (I finished in over 5 hours). I hardly got any water down me, and this was on a humid Arkansas day in mid-May. They've run that marathon in March every year since. My second year, I ran with a pacer, one of those "gotta run a marathon in all fifty states" people. She had been offered a free entry if she'd be the 11-minute pacer. She taught me to drink at all the stations and that year, the organizers had arranged for goop at all the stations too, so I ate as well. What a much better race.
Running wisdom you wished you learned earlier in your running?
Well, the above fits this question well. However, for this one, I'll offer, "plan out bathroom stops on the long runs." I have been caught so many times needing to go when there just wasn't a private place to do that. I've emptied bladder and bowels in the most ridiculous and frightening places. Maybe the wisdom I actually needed was how to manage those two organs so I wouldn't get caught out on the road with a load. The absolute worst was the day I ran two ten-mile loops that ended back at my house. After the first loop there was nothing I could do except change all my clothes and take a shower.
Favorite tip you pass along to runners?
Okay, this is a weird one, but when I started the long out-and-backs, I learned a trick that helped me finish. On the way out, knowing I'd be on the other side of the road much later and much more fatigued, I talked to myself about the other side of the street. "Okay, you'll be over there in a couple hours, be strong!" I even talked to the street. "I'll be all over you in a couple hours!" I don't know how or why, but it helped. Even after three or four hours of running, to run in a place I where I knew I'd be, a place where I had already encouraged myself, helped me finish.
Most read/used running book?
I ate up one of Dr. Sheehan's books back in the late 80's, but I don't have it, can't remember the title, and can't find it on the web.
Favorite running memory, run or race?
Well, the one I wrote about for Ultimate Runner is definitely a favorite. I also cherish my first 20 mile run because I had never run further than 14 when I did it. I had a ten mile loop and just decided to run it twice. However, I got in deep trouble with my wife because I didn't tell her I was running it again after I got home.
Your running dream?
My running dream was to run an overseas marathon. I lived in the Netherlands and wanted to run the London. I applied, but since it would have been my first, I needed a compelling story to get a shot. But I was just a late-thirties American dude with no other reason to run the thing than personal glory. Had I survived cancer or was blind, I'd have had a much better chance. As it was, they didn't invite me. My feelings got hurt and I didn't run seriously again until I returned to the states.
What keeps you running?
Well...I'm actually taking a hiatus. I'm letting the knees and hips heal themselves while at the same time, my wife and I have discovered swimming. It's the first physical activity we've ever found we can do together.
How can runners contact you?
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. His blog is: http://mikerushteacher.