Time to Run

Confessions of a Former Streaker

Nope.  Not the type of streaker made popular in the 70s and 80s.

358684758_3631583121_m_2 I must admit, there have been periods in my running life when I challenged myself to achieve a running streak.  I’ve run too many damaging consecutive days, probably too long in a particular pair of shoes.  Sniff.    My most noteworthy (to me) running streak was running for about 3 years while only taking off one day per week.  But I’ve come to my senses, and my streaking days are over.

My extended running pales compared to the top streakers.  How do I know?  Because there is the United States Running Streak Association, which is organized to recognize the hard corest of steakers.   The USRSA defines a streak.    

  • A running streak is defined by USRSA as running at least one continuous mile within each calendar day under one's own body power (without the utilization of any type of health or mechanical aid other than prosthetic devices).
  • Running under one's own power can occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill. Running cannot occur through the use of canes, crutches or banisters, or reliance on pools or aquatic devices to create artificial buoyancy.
  • Ownership of a running streak, either active or retired, entitles you to a USRSA membership.  Once that streak reaches a year in duration, you then qualify for USRSA listing of your streak.

A few highlights from the prestigious list of streakers are:

Mark Covert, the current holder of the longest running streak.   Covert, 56, as of June 1st, 2007, has been running 14,193 days, which for curious math gurus is 38 years, 313 days.

Margaret Blackstock, 62, owns the longest streak for women, at 10,128 days (27 years 266 days).  She is 41st on the all-time list.

One of the top streakers, #19, is from our community.  John Liepa, 62, and a professor at a local community college, has been running every day since January 02, 1977.  That’s 11,108 days  or 30 years 151 days! 

There are new streakers on the horizon too.   Adam Lentz started his streak on April 20, 2007 and has his sites set on a streak.  We wonder how he’s coming along?

There are also niche streakers. Perry Romanowski, from Chicago, an endurance joggler (a juggler-runner), who has been joggling marathons since 1996.   He’s on a quest to joggle 44 marathons.  I’ve seen Perry joggle several times while running the Chicago Marathon, and he makes the rest of us non-juggling marathoners wonder how.

It's great to see all this running going on, and record keeping, and documenting, and submitting, and certifying.  Whew!  It's tiring just thinking about it.

So now I'm beginning to wonder what other types of running streaks some are chasing

Are you a streaker?

Photo on Flickr by seattletim

The Courses We Run

John Bingham, known by many as “The Penguin,” once described his start with running.  He’d just finished his first run, and while he only ran a few blocks, he got home, climbed into his car and drove the course to measure how far he ran.

Odometer As runners, most of us have measured “our courses.”  We use the car odometer because we want to know how far our running takes us.  But more than the distance, we also like to know some markers along the courses we run. 

Starting my fall marathon training, I’m going to soon be revisiting some favorite courses in my community.   The true measure of these courses is not the distance I cover, but how they are familiar and personal to me.  I know the sidewalks and roads of my courses intimately, which is why I’ve given them names. 

White_picket_fence Many runners have points along their courses that indicate mile markers.  But my markers are not buildings or street intersections.  My course markers are unusual.  They are fences, fire hydrants, and driveway cracks.  They are manhole covers, parking meters, and a DQ Sign.  My favorite marker is a hedge of roses.  I inhale its fragrance when I pass it, and still appreciate it when it’s bare and snow covered.

Dq_sign_2 Tomorrow my long run will reunite me with an old friend of a course, one that passes through unique, friendly neighborhoods, and I’m already looking forward to getting re-acquainted with it. 

I just hope certain homeowners haven't repaired the cracks in their driveways.

Photo of odometer  on Flickr by The Cat 16
Photo of fence on Google Images
Photo of DQ sign by Oh Boy on Flickr

Calendar Mamba

Wall_calendar I have a family, so I have a family calendar.   Our calendar is posted on the frig door and serves as the scheduling system for work, fun, family and extracurricular activities for anyone who is associated with our household.   Even at this point in June, there is something listed for every single week for the rest of the year.   For June and July, there is already some "to do" for almost every day.

So, there I stand, in front of the frig, doing what I like to call the "calendar mamba" trying to find my teeny, weeny, little 20-30 minutes to fit in a "dessert run".   You know what I am talking about...stand in front of the calendar - shift to the left, shift to the right, shake your right leg (with the 3 year hanging off of it) and lean back to the left (as my 7 year old pulls my arm to show me something in the living room).  Stand up and do it all again.  It is the calendar mamba.  Mamba_2 I do this dance a few times a week and every week of the year to find the bucket of time to run.  Usually - it works - I find my little sliver of time.

Over lunch yesterday, a friend told me of the fun she had running Dam to Dam in Des Moines- (the best 20K in the world!)   She had wanted to do it for years, but always had a conflict with one of her kids activities - no matter how much she "did the mamba" it just wouldn't work out.  She said, in jest, that this year she was "selfish" and went for it and did the run.   I was so happy for her!  Then she finished her thought and told me that she ran a good race, crossed the finish line and then just kept running to her car and drove to the softball field and was esctatic to learn she only missed a 1/2 of an inning. 

Now, that's how you mamba!  (I love moms who show me it can be done!)

Photo of calendar on Flickr by dorathy

Photo of dancers on Flickr by timsamoff

Our Friends Runners and Bloggers

We've just launched this blog, and we're already being welcomed into the blogosphere.    One  interesting posts includes Liz Strauss' challenge around metaphors comparing blogging and bloggers to ordinary experiences.   For me, it didn't take long to notice that bloggers and runners have a lot in common.   Some similarities include..

We Know No Boundaries...
The runners I know have a deep interest to learn from each other and share openly.  Whether it's fitness running, training, racing, or social running, most of us open ourselves to new approaches and mindsets to increase our running satisfaction.  The new friends we're meeting on blogs are equally insightful and generous with their expertise and resources.  Runners and non-runners are sharing with us useful advice and ideas, with no strings attached.  I get the impression they'd show up to go running with me if they could.  Running_victory_group I'm finding the more I talk (and listen) with runners and bloggers, the more I learn. What a difference it makes to be plugged in to people with an abundance mentality and who like helping others.

Blogging Can Be Hard Work... Okay, so you don't get a cardio workout from reading, commenting and writing posts, but blog coach, Mike Sansone, says we need to develop our blogging muscles.  When I review my running, I usually can trace my success, soreness, and even injuries to failing to get out there and do the fundamentals.  My blogging muscles are still pretty flimsy, but I know that the consistency and a steady regimen of reading and posting will lead to my improved blogging development and fitness.  Thanks Mike!

There's Plenty Room For Everybody...
A beautiful street in my community is a favorite for runners. Though more runners seem to be on the street, I think, "There's still room for more runners to enjoy our street--and our sport."   Similarly, countless new races and running events are popping up, some of which are social, some are competitive, and some raise funds and awareness for important causes.   

We're also learning that the blogosphere has plenty of capacity for more conversations, connecting great people, and the success that comes with it.  The excitement of both running and blogging is attracting more and more of us, at our own pace, for more connections with others.  Can you really have too many running or blogging friends? 

We Wish We'd Started Sooner... I don't think the similarities end here, but perhaps the most common experience of people I know who have discovered running and blogging is they wish they'd started sooner.  We are attracted to how simple, natural, and affordable running is as well as how great it is for our minds, bodies, and outlook on the world.  Those already blogging have discovered many of the same, including access to more information and the social appeal-it's a great way to accomplish our goals for fitness and conversations.

So while both bloggers and runners are picking up momentum and participation, our job is to welcome them into the communities.

Photo on Flickr by The Culprit

Running Conversations

I’m wondering about the saying about runners, “we’re all an experiment of one.”  That doesn’t make sense.  With so many of us running, certainly we must comprise some rock solid storehouse of running expertise. I’m all for learning from the experienced and figureheads in the world of running, and the scientific studies are a great resource.  But sometimes it seems we must be missing out on a large body of information experienced by the rest of us, ordinary runners, who are out there putting in the miles, listening to our minds and bodies and tweaking our running.  Where does all this collective running wisdom get stored?  More important, how can we share it?

My wife warns others, “If you want to lose an hour of life you’ll never get back?  Just get Tom talking about running with you.”  She’s right—up to a point.  More than talking about my running, I enjoy listening to others talk about their running. I usually learn something, and others often reinforce something I’ve heard, considered trying, but never got around to. I love a good conversation about running.

So my current focus is learning from ordinary runners.  We are a massively under-appreciated group with an unmined repository of ways to achieve optimal running performance.   Ordinary runners not only work to implement the proven stuff of running, but we also uncover some of the best practices in the world-wide community of running. Only, we don’t always hear from each other.   Because we are interested in better running, we need to listen more to each other.  Better yet, we need conversations.

Where are the best conversations about running taking place? I've read some interesting posts on Complete Running Network. Let’s find out more, inform each other, and take some of the unnecessary trial-and-error out of running and increase our running enjoyment.

The Greatest Community of People—Runners

From the Midwest, I enjoy being part one of the greatest communities of people—runners. I’ve been a runner for 30 plus years.  One of the best parts of running is getting to know other runners—about their accomplishments, goals, routines, challenges, and running advice related to running.  I’m an ordinary runner. Typically I just enjoy running, setting some fitness goals, and getting out for morning runs.  Sometimes I get into a more serious training routine and occasionally I enter a race. The last few years I’ve been focusing on longer races and have been running a marathon each year.

I like to run with others, informally coach a few friends, and support running in my community. These days I’m learning a lot just listening to other ordinary runners, exchanging advice, some lessons learned, and trying new approaches to running.  I have shelves of books on running—training, racing, nutrition, physiology, biographies, the works.  Recently I’ve been reading How Running Changed My Life: True Stories of the Power of Running

Each essay holds a powerful story about an accomplishment, character, lessons about running and about life.  It seems to me I’d enjoy meeting each of these runners.  However, I’ve learned that there’s virtually as much human interest, achievement and sometimes even gritty drama, in the lives of my running friends, co-workers, and runners right here in the community.

Like I said, what I like most about running is the great people it connects me to.  I’m having a great time meeting them in print, the virtual world, and of course in my community.  Once we establish we are runners, getting to know them is easy and a pleasure.

Life at the back

I am not a fast runner.   I started running later in life to counteract my cookie addiction and generally keep my mind in good working order.  As I keep running, I discovered that I don't gain speed but instead instead gain patience and resolve to find enough time to run my distances. 

At last count, I have finished three races dead last.  When others introduce me as a "runner", I quickly add the subtitle that they should be honored to meet "the slowest runner" in the world.    My first real race was a marathon that I planned to run "just" half of it - 13 miles.   I had only been running for about 8 months and had trained to about 8 miles.  I was carrying around 20 extra pounds and had shin splits going into the race.  Yes, about all the classic running mistakes. The night before the race, I sat with my husband, eating pizza telling him I was worried I was going to be last.   I remember clearly him reassuring me that there was no way I would be last - I just couldn't be that SLOW.   That morning, after the gun went off, I lost track of the group of runners within 3 blocks.   At about a mile, the race crossed a long bridge.   The pack had crossed about 5 minutes before me and were over and out of sight.   And then, I crossed.    Six police cars (the roving barricade) and all 100 commuters waiting, escorted me across the bridge.   It was then that I realized I was the slowest runner on earth. 

During the race, it took the sag wagon about an hour to find me.  When they caught up to me they told me that they had no idea that there was a still a runner "way back here".  I lost my way twice and had to stop at a house to ask directions.   At mile 8, 11, and 12 1/2, they got out of the van to walk up to make sure I was ok.   The funny thing was, I was still "running" at that point - but they thought my shuffle looked a little sickly.   

At mile 13, I happily pulled off to the side and welcomed a ride back home with my husband.  The sag wagon gave a little beep and went off and search for the next set of runners  - a few miles up the road.

But in spite of that, I still run.  Because on some days when the sun is warm, the trail is flat and the music is just right - I still feel fast.   

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