Heard Around the Lake

June 2, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Heard Around the Lake: News, Notes and Idle Gossip (June 2, 2016)

What makes an ordinary, daily run a great one? Certainly, that differs from runner to runner, but even a great run tends to be fleeting, almost ephemeral. A truly great run doesn’t happen every day on every run. If it did, there would never be any exceptional, memorable runs—they’d all be the same.

Still, I happen to be one of those lucky guys who has more than his fair share of great runs. And the reason I maximize the number of remarkable runs I have is equal parts luck and a little planning. In order for me to enjoy a run and elevate it from the ho-hum, I have a certain set of criteria that are achievable—I’ll get to those in a bit—that I try to bring to every single morning run. If I’m not running on a flimsy treadmill in a hotel or in some concrete jungle, I usually succeed.

Even on a morning like this when I was getting drenched yet again, I try to create my daily morning run into something that exceeds the ordinary, just-get-some miles-in routine. This is just me and I’m not so presumptuous to believe that is applicable to everybody. But it works for me.

Here’s how:

Morning. I’m a morning person—make that a very early morning person—who is up and running well before dawn. (I’m embarrassed to say just how early.) But the morning is my favorite part of the day. The air is cleaner, it’s a little bit cooler and I love the feeling of getting something accomplished—my run—before everybody else is even out of bed. Beside, I’m at my creative and athletic peak at this time of day. This is the rhythm of my life and it is when I have to run.

Solitary. What can I say? During the week, I prefer to be alone in the morning. I’m not a hermit, but I like to run when I’m ready to roll and not wait around for someone else to get ready. The early morning is when I like to think, rather than chat. I want to run my pace, not someone else’s.

My engine. OK, I work for a running company and all the companies want you to believe that their shoes are what makes for great runs. Sorry, no. Obviously, we all need to wear good shoes but it’s not the shoes that make a run, it’s us. My engine is so finely tuned after decades of running that it demands I stoke it every morning to keep it humming. It has become so habitual that I never have to think about whether I should run or not. I have to. Even on a stormy morning like this.

Traffic-free. One of the keys to great running is relaxed running. Call me crazy, but I can’t relaxed when I have to worry about cars. Or having to wait at cross walks and intersections for traffic. It’s bad enough in a car. Dealing with it on a run is counter productive. I’m lucky. I live in an area of town without a lot of traffic and since I go so early, I beat most of it.

Soft surface. All of my runs start and finish on roads, but on just about every one, I always find at least an off-road mile or two. It can be a park, dirt road, several soccer fields looped together or a deer or cattle trail but most mornings, it means running a few miles on a nearby golf course. I’m out there long before any golfers so it’s peaceful, beautiful (even in the dark). The softer surface always gives my legs a break but even more important it’s my own refuge—an escape–where I can just run unencumbered.

Water. There’s something about the mere sight of a body of water which placates me. I grew up around water and most of my early runs as a kid were around a reservoir. It’s a subconscious thing now, but on every run I cross over a river, creek or go along Lady Bird Lake. Even a pond with the morning mist rising does something for me.

Hills. There are no perfectly flat runs around here so hills are a part of everyone’s daily runs. But that’s a good thing. I love hills for the strength and power I build. I also just like the pump I get. Climbing over some especially nasty hill gives me a very real sense of accomplishment.

Long runs. Weekends are made for long running and this is when I suspend one caveat of solo running. I long run with a training group and my sub-group is comprised of Ph.Ds, M.Ds., P.Ts, APD and AFDs and a bunch of other smart, fascinating folks. After five days of solo running, I gobble up the lively conversations like a Great White Shark feasts on seal. A two-hour run flies by.

So there you have it. That’s my prescription for having a great run. Again, not every run is great, but by creating the climate which works best for me, I can—more often than not—produce a run which is usually pretty darn good.

That’s what keeps me coming back for more.

*****

O The San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon will have yet another new course for this year’s race on December 4th. By my count, this is at least the fourth course change in the race’s nine-year history. According to course director David Benjes, “Our goal was to create a fast, flat course highlighting the best of San Antonio.” Unlike all the other San Antonio RNR races which finished either in the Alamodome parking lot or on a side street adjacent to it, the ’16 course will finish right near Hemisfair Park on S. Alamo. Both the half and marathon will also have a new start, on Presa and Commerce (near the finish) and use the same course for 12 miles before the half marathoners head to the finish. Now if they can just do something about the humidity that always seems to plague this event.

O While I’m at it, a friendly reminder that registration is open for the Houston Marathon and Half Marathon (January 15th). Annually, this is one of the very best races in the country with full fields of 27,000 (13,500 in each race). Open registration will close until all entries are sold out. To register go to, chevronhoustonmarathon.com.

O Not to be outdone, the folks at High Five Events are offering a discount for the 3M Half on January 22nd, but only through the High Five newsletter. To get the newsletter go to highfiveevents.com.

O Bill Verheul was the overall winner of the 39th annual Daisy Run at Camp Mabry last Saturday. Verheul’s time of 16:19 beat Cade Michael (17:17) and Allison Macsas (17:25, just a couple of weeks after finishing second in the Vancouver Marathon). Nora Colligan was the second woman (17:51) and Karen Saenz was third in 18:48.

O Plenty of Austinites were in Colorado last weekend for the annual Bolder Boulder. Fastest time among the Austin contingent was posted by Craig (The Apple Man) Collinsworth who ran 47:22, just ahead of Scott Yeldell (4(:32) and Stacy Jensen (49:57).

O As is traditional, Carmen Troncoso will be racing the Friehofer’s 5-K in Albany, New York this weekend. Carmen, 57, has won her age group and been overall masters winner at Freihofer’s so many times even she has lost count. She’ll be facing an elite field of masters women, including the Queen of the Road—Joan Samuelson—who is still setting age group records.

O The Texas contingent of Texas Ex’s didn’t have a very good meet at the Pre Invitational last weekend in Eugene, Oregon. Leo Manzano finished sixth in the slower of two heats of the mile in 4:00.27. Sanya Richards-Ross didn’t fare much better in the 400 meters in which she faded to seventh in 52.16. Marielle Hall had a rough 5000 too, finishing 14th in 15:20.

O Richards-Ross, who is retiring after this season, has a lot of ground to make up if she is to make the Olympic team in just a few weeks. “This year, knowing it’s going to be my final year, I just want to give everything I have. I would love to go out {in the Olympics in Rio} and defend my title in the 400.”

O UT qualified a whopping 23 athletes for the NCAA Track & Field Champs in Eugene, starting on June 8th. Going into Eugene, the UT women are ranked number three in the country, behind Arkansas and Kentucky. The Texas Aggies are a clear favorite in the men’s division, but the UT men, which had been ranked No. 7, has dropped out of the top 25 teams.

O Estonia doesn’t have much of a history in the Olympic Marathon (at least not that I know of), but the Estonian women’s marathon team will make history in Rio. The three Estonian women marathoners who have qualified for Rio—Leila, Liina and Lily Luik—are triplets and will be the first set of triplets ever to compete together in Olympic history. Now 30 years old, the trips have only been running for six years.

O The CapTexTri has been plagued by torrential Memorial Day rains many times in its history. For the third year in a row, our May rains canceled at least part of the Lifetime CapTex Tri on Memorial Day. It wasn’t unexpected that the swim was canceled due to the release of water from the floodgates at Tom Miller Dam into Lady Bird Lake, but the bike was also deep sixed when that portion of the course was flooded by the deluge on Monday morning. The alternative was to have running roads races. The 10-K was won by Scott Kimbell of Austin in 30:40. Lauren Salisbury of New York won the women’s division in 35:02. Derek Hansen of Austin won the 5-K in 17:03 with Katelyn Elliott of Porter taking the women’s division in 18:23.

O What I’m listening to this morning: “Weather and Water” by Austin’s own The Greencards.

Have any news for me? If you have something, send it along to wish@texasrunningpost.com.

One Comment

  1. “What I’m listening to this morning: “Weather and Water” by Austin’s own The Greencards.”

    I think another place, also starting with “Aus,” might claim just a little credit …. 🙂

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