[Editors Note: As previously mentioned, we’re excited to announce the launch of the Forums. Hopefully you find the functionality easy to navigate and post. Just like the rest of our site, these forums are for you – runners, triathletes, cyclists, and others in and around central Texas. Enjoy! – www.texasrunningpost.com/forums]
Several years ago, a long-retired Boston Marathon champion summed up the current state of his running when he told me, “Whenever I see a golf course now, I think how great it would be to play a round there, rather than what a beautiful place that would be to run.”
I’m not there yet, even though I’m that odd mix of a runner who golfs. And I mix the two up just about every day.
Not that I play golf every day, but a large chunk of my daily pre-dawn run takes me around 10-15 holes of a local course. It’s my own isolated training grounds—smooth, soft surfaces on gently rolling terrain and no traffic. The only living things out there are the deer, possum, armadillo, fox and occasional rattler if I venture too far into the deep rough.
As I run along the fairways, I can’t help but envision what it’s like to play golf on this spectacular course. Even though I’d love to play there, I simply can’t afford the green fees. But I can run there.
Which is just fine. Given a choice between a fancy course like this one and my usual haunts, I prefer the public courses. It’s much more democratic, cost effective and I don’t have to conform to a dress code to play there.
Most of my golfing buddies are also the same guys I run with. Our weekend routine rarely varies. First, comes a long run or race, followed by a gallon of Nuun, quick shower and a breakfast taco or two. From there, we head directly to the course. We make an odd foursome: Skinny runners, wearing race paraphernalia and running shoes.
My friends are pretty good golfers. I am not.
A few weekends ago, we were in the middle of another sweaty round, when one of the guys asked me, “Would you rather shoot 70 in a round or PR in your next marathon?”
Hmm. Since I had imploded in my last warm-weather marathon, it was—on the surface–a very good question. But since I couldn’t shoot 70 in miniature golf, it was kind of like asking would I rather have dinner with Scarlett Johansson or Katy Perry? A road-race PR? Unfortunately, not going to happen either.
Even so, it was fun to contemplate (talking running here). But in the end it was no contest. Give me one more PR and like Shoeless Joe Hardy (you know, Damn Yankees), I’d sell my soul.
Golf is fun. Even though I suck, it’s a fun, challenging game. But marathoning/running is so much more than mere fun.
Running is how we define ourselves. It’s our identity. It’s what gets us up before dawn to beat the heat and run 20 miles. Our devotion and commitment is extraordinary. It’s what unites so many of us.
Non-runners don’t understand a thing about us. Defining why we run to them is fruitless. We eat different foods, go to bed well before Letterman, speak an entirely different language. That’s probably why we tend to group together. No explanations are necessary between us why we do these things.
We train every day. We take on the biggest hills in Austin and run on the hottest/coldest, wettest/windiest, most rotten days. It doesn’t matter.
In golf, if it’s too windy, too hot, too cold, too cloudy—too anything—I don’t play because it’s not as much fun.
Running isn’t fun in the same way golf is. But there’s nothing deeply satisfying than a good, hard long run or a great race and the inner glow that comes along with it. That sense of accomplishment is something that we don’t ordinarily get in our hum drum lives. A PR can carry us for weeks, months. The search for a new one can last for years.
Many of us have been running for years. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to keep doing it for many more. That’s just what we do. We’re runners. That’s who we are.
O Rio Reina, one of the top guys in town, will be sidelined for a month or so. Reina, who was planning to run the Eugene Marathon last month, instead opted for surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee. Bummer. He’ll be back.
O Former UT miler Kyle Merber had one of the biggest wins of his career last weekend when he took the Falmouth Mile at Falmouth HS the day before the road race of the same name. Merber bided his time and waited until the final 100 meters to kick by David Torrence and Garret Heath to claim the victory in 3:56.46 and earned $3000. Merber, 23, has PR’ed twice in the mile this summer, getting down to 3:54.
O In the Falmouth Road the next day, John La Claire, 63, finished in 53:08 (it’s seven miles) and, as near as I can figure out, placed third in his age group.
O At the Leadville Trail 100 Race Across the Sky, flatlanders from Central Texas fared very well. Leading the way was the incredible Liza Howard, 42, from San Antonio who finished second among the women (to Emma Rocca of Spain) and 10th overall in 20:01:15. Other runners from SA to earn the silver buckle were Matt Smith (21:15:23), Dana Munari (28:35:09), and Michael Thompson (29:44). Denver Fredenburg of Dripping Springs finished in 28:38:31 and Austin’s Dean Harvie completed the ordeal in 29:17:35.
O Also in Colorado last weekend was the Pike’s Peak Marathon (up and down). Top Central Texan was Mike McGinn of Georgetown in 5:24 followed by Matt Harrington (6:01:35), Russ Norton (6:05:22), Patrick Walkup of Pflugerville (6:43:35), Alison Gardner (7:02:47), Jessica Ann Utsman of San Antonio (7:14:22), Marilyn Brown (7:46:32), Cliff Cottrell of Temple (7:54), Brenton Buxton (8:03), Elizabeth Comer (8:30:57), Kenny Teague of Dripping Springs (9:24), Keith Booth (9:21) and Rhiannon Boyd of Lorena (9:41:15).
O Former Austinite Katie Howard finished her first IM last weekend. Katie, who now lives in North Carolina, finished the Mont Tremblant Ironman in 12:59. She nailed the marathon in 4:39 and finished with a huge smile.
O Leo (The Lion) Manzano is back in Europe after an extended break back home. Leo is stepping down in distance tonight to 800 meters at the Galan Meet in Stockholm. For some reason, there isn’t a mile or 1500 tonight.
O One of the great events of late summer (or early fall) is fast approaching—the Zilker Relays. This fun relay, now in its 12th year, will be held September 5th—a Friday evening—at 6 p.m. A minor change: the start/finish has shifted to the grass near the sand volleyball courts. As much a party as race, Zilker consists of four-person teams with each running a 2 1/2-mile loop, followed by the best TexMex spread in Austin from TacoDeli and great beer from Josh Hare and Hops & Grain. Skyrocket will provide the live music.
O Alison Macsas over at Rogue, who heads Rogue Expeditions, informed us there are only a few spots remaining for their fall trip to Morocco (October 30-November 8). The Moroccan trip was the first of the Rogue Expeditions and still one of its most popular. The price tag covers just about everything (including camel rides) once you get there (doesn’t include the flights). If interested in details, go to roguexpeditions.com. Gotta be cooler and dryer than here.
O Baby news: Adam and Traci Reiser welcomed their son—Cliff Jameson Reiser—into the world on Tuesday. Adam is the “Adam” of Jack & Adam’s, but moved into the food industry years ago where he is now “foodcoaching.”
O Former UT runner Andrew Middleton and his wife Casey also had a son. Samuel Allan Middleton was born last Thursday in College Station where Andrew now lives. It’s the second child for the Middletons.
O Stephan Schwarze and Illiana Miranda-Schwarze had their second boy last Thursday. No truth to the rumor that Phillip Andreas Schwarze was born in a Bayern Munich soccer jersey.
O The Thundercloud Turkey Trot long-sleeve shirt is one of the most ubiquitous race shirts in town. This year’s competition to design the shirt is now open. The artist whose design is chosen will get a gift certificate for 365 Thundercloud subs (pickle slice included). Entry deadline is September 6th. For more info, go to thundercloud.com.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Hills and Valleys,” the great album by The Flatlanders. Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock make one of their increasingly rare appearances together on September 20th at the Paramount.
Have any news for me? If you have something, send it along to email@example.com.
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