The Ultimate Runner

Read More About Rachel Jones

Book cover In the book The Ultimate Runner, Rachel Jones shares a memorable race  experience of The Grand Bara.  Her story was intriguing to us and we wanted to learn more about her.   Here is more about Rachel and her running life:

Why did I start running?
My friend described a 15k race in the middle of the Grand Bara, one of the flattest deserts on earth. She said the starting gun was actually a set of French fighter jets doing a low flyover just as the sun rose over a mountain range. I didn’t want to miss that and started training. I kept running because it is something I can start and finish. I know when I’m done and I know what I have accomplished. I live in Djibouti and most of my life and work is intangible. Language study, non-governmental aid work is never done – the poor are always poor, the sick are always sick. We work to alleviate it but the difficulties are overwhelming. Running is something I am able to keep track of, something I can feel successful in, even if it is just for the fact of completing a run in 115 degree heat or shaving five seconds off my time.

Best Running Advice?

Enjoy it.
  
Running wisdom I wish I knew earlier?

Don’t run through pain.

Favorite tip I pass along?

Just do it. Don’t be embarrassed about your time, how you look in tight pants or how hard you breathe. Rachel Just put on a pair of shoes and see what happens.

Favorite running memory, run or race?
This answer is a bit long, but funny. It is from my blog:

I left the house at 5:50 a.m. for a short jog before the kids woke up. I hadn’t gone more than a quarter kilometer when I saw a group of Djiboutian girls jogging toward me. We smiled and waved at one another, I was too shocked to say anything, and I passed them.

I have seen French men wearing too-short shorts, naked men, dead men, barking dogs, dead dogs, dead cats, dead crows, dead snakes, car accidents, dancing women, American soldiers showering homeless children with bags of peanut M and M’s, sky divers, fluorescent purple sunsets, body parts, toilet seat covers, condoms, fist fights, men urinating, men taking a dump, men taking a shower, men holding hands, men praying, six people on a bicycle, six people on a motorcycle…but I have never seen twenty-five obese Djiboutian girls jogging. I’ve never seen more than two at a time other than at the track.

I continued running straight ahead, then suddenly, without a second thought, turned around and sprinted to catch up with the group.

“Can I run with you?” I asked in Somali.

“Oui,” they answered in unison French, grinning.

“There aren’t many women who run, especially in this neighborhood,” I said, again in Somali.

They began asking me questions in French and I answered in Somali. They were out of breath but the pace was slow (about thirteen minutes miles).

We passed my house and I said, “Waa tan, xafadayda.” This is my house.”

“Allah!” the girl next to me cried. “You speak Somali!”

It only took them eight minutes to realize it.

From that moment on, I was a part of the group. They gave me a spot in the front, center, with three of the largest girls on either side. Their coach, Abdi, jogged on the outside. He motivated the stragglers and made sure cars and buses didn’t swerve too close to his team.

We ran about ten more minutes when I caught the blurred picture out of the corner of my eye of a sheep running at my side.

“How did a sheep get in here with us?” I asked.

“She’s ours,” Fadouma answered.

“You’re joking.”

“No. This is Gilane and that is Lulla. They run with us every morning.”

“Don’t they get tired?”

“Oh no, we are so fat and slow they keep up just fine.”

The two sheep ran at my side. I had never dodged sheep legs and flouncing, fat sheep butts before on a run. I lay one hand on Gilane’s back and laughed out loud.

I was a surprise vision for the entire neighborhood. Most people were used to seeing me run alone by now but they had never seen a group of twenty-five Djiboutian girls and a white woman running down the street with two sheep.

Men hung out of bus windows and cars pulled up next to us to stop and stare. Truckers swerved and coach Abdi yelled at them to back off. They yelled back that they wanted to watch the spectacle.

I was also a surprise vision to the team itself – a married women with three children who was strong enough to not even be breathing heavily. As we talked, they were so engaged in our conversations coach Abdi tripped over a stone on the sidewalk and almost face-planted in the dirt. Five minutes later Fadouma did an actual face-plant on the sidewalk while talking with me about life in Somaliland. The rest of the team had to stop and take a laugh break while she brushed herself off, chattering the entire time.

Most of the girls were seriously overweight, which their thinner friends pointed out with great joy and acceptance.

“Look! Look how fat Fadouma is. But she can run!”

“We run slow so the fat girls can keep up.”

“The fat girls run in front so we don’t pass them.”

“You aren’t fat. I’m not too fat. She is really, really fat. See how she bounces?”

The heavier girls smiled and waved and laughed, there was no shame in their body sizes. They all knew they were beautiful. They all knew they were stronger than almost every other female in Djibouti because they were awake at 5:50 a.m. running in the street with courage and happiness.

And sheep.

My running dream?
To hit a 24:00 5k and to be able to keep running as I get older.

What keeps me running?
The desire to be healthy and to feel strong and the community I feel when talking with other runners. The way it connects me to the places I go – Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Minnesota, South Carolina, Texas, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, France. I see the countries with my eyes and feel them with my feet, I get unique glimpses as a runner that I wouldn’t get as a tourist or business traveler.

Runners can contact me on my blog www.trjonesfamily.blogspot.com or via email: trjones@securenym.net They can also read other articles I have written about running in Djibouti at www.runningtimes.com and search Djibouti.

Meet Harry Jacobs

Book cover Harry runs for his life.  And he shares his story of how running helped him manage diabetes, his weight and his life.   His story gets the ball rolling in the book The Ultimate Runner and is a model to others who struggle with similar issues.   Get to know the Harry behind the story.

Why did you start running?

I started running when I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.  My weight Harry 1 at the time was over 300 lbs.  Over the next 1.5 years I dropped 100 lbs. Running turned my life around and gave it purpose.  As I often say “I run for my life.”

Best running advice you ever received?

No matter what distance your run or race at it is your distance.  You cannot compare yourself to that person who runs faster and farther than yourself.  Your distance and training is yours so be happy that you are doing what you are doing.

Running wisdom you wished you learned earlier in your running?

It is not how fast you go; it’s the fact that you finish that is what is important.

Favorite tip you pass along to runners?

Enjoy yourself, have fun, isn’t that what running is all about?

Most read/used running book?

Running Room’s Book on Running by John Stanton

Favorite running memory, run or race?

Finishing the Bluenose Marathon in Nova Scotia, I ran that race and it is up hill both ways. Harry 2

Your running dream?

To run for a very long time, and to stay healthy so I can.

What keeps you running?

Me, I keep me running, so that I can stay health and live a long life to be with my grandson Tre.

How can runners contact you?

Plenty of pictures can be seen of me on Facebook, just search for Harry Jacobs, or feel free  to say hi yenkn2001@yahoo.com.  Also I am often lurking about on the forums at www.runningroom.com/forums.

Meet Megan

Continuing our introduction of the contributors to the Ultimate Runner to our friends in the Lounge, please welcome Megan Williams.  Megan Book cover contributed a story to the Emotional and Spiritual Insight section with her story about her Ironman race.   Get to know Megan outside of her story: Megan

Why did you start running?
I used to get really nervous before math tests in middle school, and my father figured out that if I ran a mile before school, I was a lot happier.

Best running advice you ever received? 
It doesn't feel any better to walk in the marathon; it just hurts longer.


Running wisdom you wished you learned earlier in your running? 
Running is a great sport, because if you're willing to put in the hard work, you can beat someone with a lot more natural talent than you do.


Favorite tip you pass along to runners?
One of the ways the marathon is not like real life is that you will always get a do-over. There is always another marathon.

Most read/used running book?
Joan Benoit Samuelson's Running for Women

Favorite running memory, run or race? 
Mile 24 of my first marathon when I realized I was going to finish.  Twenty plus marathons later, there is nothing quite like that first marathon.


Your running dream? 
To keep learning


What keeps you running? 
My two year old twins


How can runners contact you
ottoisking@aol.com

Check out Dana Barclay

Every runner has a story.   And every runner has something they are running for, from, or to.  In the book, The Ultimate Runner, we are blessed with many stories runners have shared with us that keep us moving.  The stories keep us running.  Dana Barclay is one of the contributors to the book and shares her story of how running helped her recover from addiction to alcohol.   We hope you enjoy her story and get to know her through a recent interview and check out her blog.

Why did you start running?   

It was quite by accident actually.  I had hit a few bumps in the road of life (more like big gapping Dana chuckholes) and found myself a month or so out of an alcohol treatment facility, feeling lost, miserable and physically unhealthy.  I had always been an athletic person so working out seemed like a natural step to improve my physical and emotional health.  I walked first but that turned into running as I wanted more of a cardiovascular workout. So it really wasn’t intentional, it just happened and evolved.

Best running advice you ever received?   

In a word, form.  Developing and maintaining good form has turned me into an injury-free runner.  I focus on my body alignment from the top down:  eyes focused forward and ahead, spine erect, extended and relaxed, hips loose, knees and feet pointed forward and swinging in a pendulum-like motion and lean into the run. I imagine a string pulling me forward from my feet through my head while staying loose and relaxed.

Running wisdom you wished you learned earlier in your running?    

I did not begin running until I was nearly 50.  I wish I had discovered the sport much earlier in my life and perhaps I would have not fallen into some of the pitfalls that I did.  Like alcoholism.

Favorite tip you pass along to runners?  

Listen to your body.  I tend to throw myself completely into activities that I enjoy and sometimes this behavior gets me into trouble.  There is something to be said for too much of a good thing!  My tip is to let my body tell me when I am overdoing it.  By listening to my body I can prevent injury and burnout.

Most read/used running book? 

Chi-Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer.  I developed my running form from the principles presented in the book as well as body sensing and injury prevention techniques.  One of my goals is to attend a workshop of theirs someday but it seems I am never in the right place at the right time….yet.

Favorite running memory, run or race?  

A few years ago my significant other and I were stranded on the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Dana dog Caicos.  We were in the midst of moving our boat from Miami to St Maarten in the Caribbean when we encountered mechanical problems, spending several weeks there getting repairs done.  While our boat was in the shipyard I met a local island dog who took a liking to one us.  Dog followed me around and slept by the boat at night.  He was a funny guy. I just called him Dog.

Early one morning, I decided to take a run through the shipyard and down the only road into the place back towards town.  Dog started following me and while I wasn’t crazy about the idea, he insisted so off we went.  It was a great road, no people, no traffic, just a dog and me with birds, trees and tropical brush with an occasional puddle for Dog to splash in.  Dog stayed right with me, having a great time.

Thirty minutes into the run, Dog stopped dead in the road and sat down.  He stared at me as I jogged a few laps around him.  I encouraged him to continue on, but he seemed determined not to go any farther down the road.  Not wanting to leave my running buddy behind, I started back toward the shipyard.  Dog seemed to think that was a great idea.  Dog stayed with me until we reached our starting point.  Dog and I had had a wonderful invigorating run and a great time together.  I had a new running buddy!      Later that day my significant other and I loaded up into our rental car to head to town for supplies.  I chattered on to him about how great the run had been and how Dog had plopped butt down and refused to proceed further.  A non-runner, his reply was “u-huh.”  Riveting stuff to him I suppose.

We drove past the spot where Dog and I stopped and about a quarter mile beyond, we passed a house sitting close to the road with three very large dogs running free in the unfenced yard.  The trio came bounding out at our car, attempting to bite our tires and creating all kinds of ruckus.  As a local dog, Dog probably knew about these vicious neighboring dogs and I would like to think he was watching out for me as much as he was himself.    

Your running dream? 

Run when I can, where I can for as long as I am physically able to do so.  I would like to be one of those runners in the local 5K in 70+ age bracket!

What keeps you running? 

This is the most difficult question for me to answer.  Actually it is not really a question.  Not running isn’t Dana 3 an option. The idea doesn’t even occur to me.  Fitting a run in at times can be a challenge, as sometimes I find myself in places where there is no good safe place to run.  I am an early morning female runner and I take this into account when I am traveling in new places.  Safety first.   If, however, I had to name one thing that keeps me, going  it would be goal-setting.  I keep a runner log where I set yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.  This works well for me as I am very self-motivated and competitive even if the competition is only within me.

Contacts:    danabarclay@hotmail.com     mostlysobernow.blogspot.com is my blog


Mike Rush

Book cover 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 mikerush2004@gmail.com.  His blog is:  http://mikerushteacher.blogspot.com/

Last Minute Gift For Your Favorite Running Dad

Time is running out until Father's Day - just a few days to go!Book cover

If you are still looking for the perfect gift for the running dad in your life, look no further than The Ultimate  Runner.  A compilation of stories and inspiration which will keep your favorite running dad moving!

Hurry - order today

On Amazon, if you order today you could have it in 2 days in many locations!   Your dad will never know you waited until the last minute

Meet An Expert: Lisa Dorfman

Lisa Dorfoman has been a sports nutritionist, an adjunct professor in the exercise and sport sciences and Book cover is the director of sports nutrition and performance.   She offers her advice in many running and fitness publications as well as her website at www.foodfitness.com.  She provided expert advice to ordinary runners on the topic of nutrition for training, competition and recovery in the book, The Ultimate Runner.

We caught up with her to find out more about her running as a former pro triathlete and competitor in more than 30 marathons (PR 2:52:32).

Why did you start running?
 
I came out of the womb and didnt know what else to do...I have been running my whole life--49 years!
In my adult years, my racing began at 24 ...my first race was a 10k...I was hooked!

Best running advice you ever received?
 
From the US 5k record holder a few decades back--told me to give myself a break every once in a while--drink, eat bad foods, whatever....I never thought about it, but doing whatever every once in a while is fun.

Running wisdom you wished you learned earlier in your running?
Learn how to taper best--I think I could have qualified for the US Olympic Trials numerous times but never learned how to actively taper..

Favorite tip you pass along to runners?
 
Nutrition is 90% of good running...everyone should see a sports nutrition expert (RD,CSSD) at least once in their running careers to get the food part right--its more than getting enough carbs, everyone has their own personal formula that is required and works for training competition and recovery.

Most read/used running book? 

Noakes--Lure of Running
 
Favorite running memory, run or race?

Grand Bahama 5000...the best in the world would join Marva Munroe, Race Director at her beautiful home for a weekend each year--Amby Burfoot, Greta Waitz, Jeff Galloway and the list goes on...It was like a reunion each year and the race was one of the fastest...The awards were waterford crystal...I still have my winner's crystals.
 
Also waiting for the 100th Boston Marathon to start, elites were bunkered down in a basement for 3 hours...met and bonded with the best runners around the world ad ran a 2:53 that day...

Your running dream?
To be the fastest 50 year old at at least 1 distance (Feb 2011), & finally qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials 2012

What keeps you running?
I LOVVVVVEEEEE everything about it. the feeling, sweat, friends, high

How can runners contact you
www.foodfitness.com, www.TheReunionDiet.com

Meet Jeff Pickett

Jeff Pickett, father of six and advocate for health, has a passion for running and fitness. He enjoys eating Book cover well, playing hard and laughing often.   He shared a story of his Chicago Marathon race in the book, The Ultimate Runner.   It is a great example of the funny things you see while racing.

We asked him to share more about himself and running to learn more about the man behind the story.

Why did you start running?
I started running about 10 years ago.  I went one mile at a time and then in my first year got the marathon bug and just went for it.  Let's say I finished and left plenty of margin to do better the next time.

Best running advice you ever received?
The best running advice I ever received was to breathe.  Sounds simple, but it incorporates so much.  Listening to music is one thing, but going au naturale and focusing on your breathing is a different experience altogether. 

Running wisdom you wished you learned earlier in your running?
I wish I had discovered the world of Vibram Five Fingers or minimalist running sooner.  As an overpronator, running heel to toe has caused me so many problems.  Landing on the balls of my feet/midfoot in my VFF's has made running so much more enjoyable.

Favorite tip you pass along to runners?
Don't wear cotton t-shirts on long runs.  Especially guys.  Those chafed nipples are painful!

Most read/used running book?
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - a must read for everyone, non-runners, too!

Favorite running memory, run or race?
My favorite memory is the one I wrote on at the Chicago marathon - gotta read the book to hear more!

Your running dream?
My running dream is to complete one more marathon with my daughters one day. 

What keeps you running?
My daughters are young - 3 and 5.  I'm 42, so I run and stay active so that I can stay in shape and keep up with them.  I want to savor life for as long as I can so that I can be around for them as long as possible.

How can runners contact you
My contact info is varied:  blog:  http://www.primalchat.com; @primalchat, Jeff Pickett on Facebook, email is primalchat@gmail.com

Meet Expert Jason Karp

Book cover Jason Karp is a nationally recognized speaker, writer and exercise physiologist who coaches recreational Jasonkarp runners to Olympic hopefuls through his company, RunCoachJason.com.  His work has been included in many running journals and publications and we are thrilled to have his expert tips on training and distance running included in the book, The Ultimate Runner.

He shared some insights to his own running to help us better understand his perspective and insights.

Why did you start running?

I was attracted to the purity of the sport and saw that I was good at it as a kid.

Best running advice you ever received?

Train with intention.

Running wisdom you wished you learned earlier in your running?

Understanding the physiology of running.  If I knew the science of running when I was younger, like I do now, I would have been a much better runner than I was.

Favorite tip you pass along to runners?

Every workout must have a purpose.

Most read/used running book?

Lore of Running by Dr. Tim Noakes

Favorite running memory, run or race?

Favorite memory: The effortless feel of running and racing when I'm very fit.
Favorite race: Melissa's 10K in Banff, Canada
Favorite run: 9-mile loop around Tiburon, California

Your running dream?

When I was a kid, my dream was to compete in the Olympics.  But as I got older, I realized that the extraordinary talent needed to achieve such lofty dreams is not part of the DNA of my legs.  Now my running dream is to be the best runner I can be and coach someone who does have Olympic-level talent to make it to the Olympics.

What keeps you running?

The desire to accomplish something more.

How can runners contact you

Website: www.RunCoachJason.com
Email: jason@runcoachjason.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/drjasonkarp
Twitter: twitter.com/runcoachjason

Meet Dani Nichols

Book cover Dani offered her story of overcoming the mental challenges of running with the story, "It's All In Your Head", Daninichols1 in the book, The Ultimate Runner.   Dani (on far right) is an everyday writer who is also enjoys running in addition to her husband, good coffee, country music and free museums.

She offers these thoughts behind her running:

Why did you start running?
Because I needed to fit into my wedding dress. ;) No really. I've never been a very good runner, and have always forced myself to do it because of outside reasons, but of course, once I started it became its own therapy.

Best running advice you ever received?
"You can go farther than you think you can," from my husband, who is a great runner and often encourages me to overcome the obstacles I put in front of myself.

Running wisdom you wished you learned earlier in your running?
Good shoes really do make a difference. They're an investment, and off-brand kicks will not make for happy feet.

Favorite tip you pass along to runners?
Just do it. Trite but true.

Most read/used running book?
It's actually not a running book at all, but Julia Child's memoir, "My Life in France" has encouraged me to take on things I didn't think I could conquer (like running) and to treat life like a giant, beautiful adventure.

Favorite running memory, run or race?
Running my first 5K. It was something I had never imagined doing, but I ran it well and actually enjoyed it! The sense of satisfaction after a race is irreplaceable.

Your running dream?
To get to the point where running is not as hard for me as it is now. It's not as tough as it used to be, but it's not as wonderful as I hope it is someday!

What keeps you running?
My husband's long legs, kicking up dust in front of me. :) And, of course, how it feels to run well. But I'd say keeping up with my man is definitely a priority.

 How can runners contact you
www.twitter.com/wranglerdani
www.wranglerdani.com
wranglerdani@gmail.com

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