Several years ago, I was in Eugene, Oregon for a meet and one night at dinner, a former Boston Marathon champion sidled over to our table to join us. After a couple of beers, he told us about the epiphany he had just had that signaled his running days were over. I was driving by a golf course this morning and for the first time, I thought how great it would be to play there, rather than what a great place it would be to run.
I’m not even close to there yet. For me, running the first 12 holes of a local country club is part of my morning routine. This beautiful course is my very own secret training sanctuary which I go to every morning. There, I run in total isolation along the gorgeous fairways on softly rolling terrain, leaping the occasional dry creek bed. The best part is there’s absolutely no traffic to deal with. Actually, when I get out there well before morning light, the only living things stirring out there are the deer, possum, armadillo, a magnificent fox and occasional rattler if I venture too far into the deep rough.
As I run, I also envision what it’s like to play golf on this heavily wooded course. Even though I golf, I have only played here a few times because the green fees on this course are out of my league. Still, I can dream.
Austin’s muni courses are better anyway. Golf there is much more democratic, cost effective and there isn’t some snotty dress code.
I’m a skinny runner who is most comfortable in T-shirt, shorts and running shoes. Even when I play golf. Dress codes are for school, not for playing outside.
And that’s what golf is – play. It’s fun. But to me, running is so much more than mere fun and games.
Running is how we define ourselves. It’s our identity. It’s what gets us up before dawn on Saturday to run 20 miles. We put so much of ourselves into it. Our devotion and passion for something as mundane as running is extraordinary. It’s what unites 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 way before Letterman, speak a different language. That’s probably why we tend to flock together. No explanations are necessary between us why we do these things.
We run every day and spend six months focusing on that one big race that means everything. Our goals might be different, but our commitment is the same.
We run. That’s what we do.
In golf, if it’s too windy, too hot, too cold, too wet – too anything – nobody plays because it’s too much of a struggle. Why bother?
But running is all about the struggle. Overcoming that and becoming better gives us the sense of accomplishment 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 forever.
Many of us have been running for years. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to keep doing it for many more. We’re runners. That’s who we are.
O Paul Terranova continues to rip it up as he transitions from triguy to ultraguy. Last weekend at the Run Rabbit Run 100-miler in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the 39-year-old finished 10 th in 23:44. I’ve skied up there and the altitude killed me. Terranova is a lot tougher than me (and everybody else) as he ran 100 miles up and over some of the biggest mountains in the Rockies, including a 12-mile climb to the top of the course (12,600 feet). Terranova never did crater and ran the final six miles in under an hour. Meredith Terranova did triple duty: Pacing Paul, manning his aid stations and providing sustenance. After all that, she ran the accompanying 50-miler. Understandably, she was forced to drop out.
O More ultra stuff. My one-time Runner’s World colleague Kim (The Little Big Man) Wrinkle, who is now a teacher at Vista Ridge HS, ran his first ultra last weekend. Wrinkle, who has been in and out of running while battling injuries, won his age group (55-59) at the North Face Challenge 50-Miler in Eagle, Wisconsin in 9:10:11 (45th overall) to get his Western States qualifier. Jeannie Kwong of Austin was second in her age group (35-39) in 12:40.
O This hasn’t been one of Leonel Manzano’s best seasons, but he finished his European track tour off with a second place finish in 4:01.79 in a road mile last weekend at the Bupa Great North City Games in Gateshead, England. His final race of the season will be the 5 th Avenue Mile in New York on Sunday. In the women’s mile at Gateshead, Morgan Uceny of Indiana won in 4:33.97, but there was an interesting name in 10th place – Eilish McColgan. She’s the 22-year-old daughter of former Scottish internationalists Liz and Peter McColgan.
O Gilbert Tuhabonye, Burundi’s gift to Austin running, will speak at Sam Houston State in Huntsville this Wednesday (September 25 th) as the guest of the President’s Speaker Series which brings prominent leaders to campus. Gilbert’s speech is free and open to the public.
O Rogue Running is hosting the Rogue Festival of Shoes on October 12th from 8-noon at its downtown location. The Rogue shoe techs will give a short talk and there will be reps from several of the major shoe companies there with new shoes and to answer questions. No need to RSVP, but Rogue will have caffeine and breakfast tacos on hand to feed the hungry, post-long run crowd.
O Our man in San Antonio – Paul Baltutisa – went to the Gruene 10-K last Saturday and sent this report: “After a seven-year hiatus, the Gruene 10-K returned in 2010 and has grown every year. This year’s race drew nearly 700 entrants which is nearly the same level the race was in the ’90s. David Fuentes, the pride of Boerne who is now a confirmed Austinite, was the overall winner in 31:15. Jeremy Daum of San Antonio was second in 32:15 followed by former San Antonio hot shot Rio Reina (of Austin) in third in 33:05. Anita Perez of San Antonio won the women’s division in 36:35. Jessica Gonzales of Austin was second in 41:22 and Krista Patlovich of Cibolo was third in 41:46. Sarah Mark of Austin was fourth in 42:30.”
O The Schlotzky’s Bun Run has been around Austin for 31 years, but – if rumors are true – the popular 5-K may be no more. Couldn’t substantiate this as repeated calls and emails to the race director went unanswered, but that seems to be the word. Bummer.
O Not wasting any time after the birth of her son Beau, Des Ficker is kicking off the Fit Fickers again beginning September 23rd. The group is open to elementary and middle school kids and will focus on running during the fall. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/fitfickers.
O If you have any hope of running the ’14 Boston Marathon (and have your qualifier), you’d better register pronto. The April 21 st race should be full any day and, according to the B.A.A., “It is unlikely that registration will re-open next week.” Registration closes tomorrow (September 20 th) at 5 p.m. (Boston time).
O At the Big Cottonwood Marathon last weekend in Salt Lake, our friends Paul Carmona and Michelle Ryan finished right near each other. Michelle, 42, ran 3:23:53 to finish fourth in her division, while Paul – the scion of the Twenty-Six Two Marathon Club – was a few strides back in 3:24:02. Former Austinite Richie Cunningham, now back in Boulder and recovering from a wicked cycling accident, was eighth overall in 2:55:48.
O Down in San Antonio, We Run has been a training and race business for nine years. Next month, We Run will open up its own store on Boerne Stage Road, right near 1-10.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Plastic Silver 9 Volt Heart“ by the Iguanas. Why doesn’t this great band from New Orleans ever play here? Just asking.
Have any news for me? If you have something of interest, send it to email@example.com.