Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bookworm: "Running With Joy" by Ryan Hall

On April 18, 2011, Ryan Hall will make his third consecutive trip to Beantown to toe the line at the 115th Boston Marathon. In an interview this week at the Endurance Live Awards Gala, Ryan said "Something about Boston grabs my heart. Runners are rock stars that weekend. I love when I'm standing on the starting line in Hopkinton. I feel like I'm living in a history book and I'm writing history (Video of Interview)." Many of us who treat the Boston Marathon like our personal Olympics feel the same way! "Running with Joy" really embraces Ryan's love of the world's oldest annual marathon and details his training from January 2010 up until the start of the race, where he concludes his first book with a recap of his race to Boston, where he finished 3rd overall in an American Record time (for Boston) of 2:08:41.

"Running with Joy" is a book for runners. Those that feel elite runners are too cryptic in their training methods and never let the public in enough to what they are doing will love "Running with Joy" as Ryan details every training run from January to April 2010 (most days are doubles) and doesn't hold back when something is bothering him. One more fired up moment of his account is when he is discussing the challenging winters in Mammoth Lakes, CA:

"Why do we live here? We could train anywhere in the world-Mexico, Columbia, Kenya-and yet we train here! Why?" I yelled as I slipped for the fifth time in that many minutes running through a blizzard with the team on Mammoth Scenic Loop. I knew I had a bad attitude, but I couldn't hold it in anymore. It was dumping snow, and with every slip I saw my journey to Boston crashing to a halt because of muscle spasms. I was sure I'd tear something before long.

Powerful emotional outbursts like this help show the reader and more than likely, the runner, that even Ryan Hall has some bad days. He goes on to say that his then teammate, American 50k record holder, Josh Cox, helped him get to a better place mentally during that run and by the end of it, his attitude was positive again. This kind of run also possibly led to his departure from the Mammoth Track Club in October 2010 to train in various (and milder) locations like Flagstaff, San Francisco and most recently, Seattle. There is no doubt that Ryan is a free spirit of sorts, which makes him extremely relatable to me and likely to many that will pick up this book.

Another very important thing in Ryan's life is his faith. Many people have found Ryan to be a polarizing figure because of this, but I believe "Running With Joy" will show the reader where he is coming from. That is a good place. Ryan is using the bible to inspire himself and to do unto others. He and his wife Sara have established the Hall Steps Foundation to raise money towards Clean Water (through World Vision), fighting Human Trafficking (through International Justice Mission), and funding a home in a Rescue Center in Kenya through Global Children’s Movement. Hall never comes off as preachy and only quotes scripture to inspire and help him understand his own personal growth, not to condemn others for their particular beliefs. There is an entertaining piece about Sammy Wanjiru in here, as well as former teammate, Deena Kastor, who is Jewish, that will show the reader a deeper side of his faith and values.

No matter what you believe, if you believe in the run, you will take something away from "Running With Joy." This is a book that I will not be passing on to a friend, because there are too many good workouts and ideas for training weeks/months, that will provide an excellent reference as I continue to train for this years Boston Marathon myself. I enjoy reading running books to learn some new tricks. Here's a few I picked up from Ryan:
  • He drinks 20 ounces of water when he wakes up in the morning. 
  • He coats his feet in vaseline before runs (and puts band-aids on his nipples).
  • He does easy runs in the Asics Gel-Cumulus, faster runs in the Asics Gel-DS Trainer, and tempos/races in the Asics Gel-Hyperspeed.
  • He takes his easy runs easy (after hammering in college and losing steam at the end of seasons). Many runs are around 7:00-7:30 pace.
  • He focuses on a healthy diet and eating every few hours to maintain racing weight.
  • He wears the Garmin Forerunner 110 and brings gum to the starting line (in case he "gets parched").
What's next for Ryan? Before heading back to Boston, he'll be tackling the best in the nation this weekend in Houston at the USATF Half Marathon Championship, the place where he set the set the American Record in 2007 (on a slightly different course). Houston is also the place where this 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon will take place a year from now, so that should provide for some extra excitement. You can also find Ryan tweeting here and blogging here (while currently rocking a sweet beard).

Be sure to check out for more information and for a chance to win some of Ryan's favorite things (including copies of "Running With Joy" as well as Oakley and Cytomax products). You can order a copy of "Running With Joy" on here

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Outing of Kip Litton

Something tells me that the old quote: "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" is one of Kip Litton's favorites. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Litton, he is a dentist in Davison, MI who has been claiming to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis by trying to run a sub-3 hour marathon in every state. His website was, but has been taken down after Delaware Marathon race director, Wayne Kursh, discovered that the donors were told to make their donation checks out to his website and not any charity. Cheers to Mr. Kursh for being the first race director to publicly out Mr. Litton on the World Wide Web.

This got the ball rolling for all of the anonymous sleuths over at the World Famous Message Boards. While you have to sift through 90% of the trolling over there to get to something worth reading, this is a vast thread that is worth a look, as you can watch the layers of the onion continue to peel away to reveal a very flawed individual. From all of this detective work has also spawned an excellent collection of clues that are a little more organized over at the Study of Kip Litton Running Performances blog. If you have some time to kill, read up over there for some fascinating info that is updated daily (or more).

James Hogue aka
Jay Huntsman aka
Alexi Indris-Santana
One of my favorite books (and documentary) that I have read over the past 10 years was "The Runner" by David Samuels. It was a great account of con man James Hogue's adventure from high school runner to college dropout to high school runner (at 25 winning the Stanford Invitational) to Princeton scholarship award winner Alexi Indris-Santana to jailed criminal. In similar fashion, one of my favorite films this past year was the "documentary" Catfish, which was essentially about a filmmaker getting duped into believing an imaginary girl liked him. It that was all based on the imagination of "artist" Angela Wesselman.

I believe Kip Litton is almost a combination of these two personalities with his trickery and creation of an imaginary world. "How does he do it?" is the question everyone wants answered. Has he ever been busted on course? Not to my knowledge. Has he made some large errors to get people on his trail? Most definitely. What Kip does every race is cross the starting line 4-5 minutes after the leaders. That's when the fun begins. He finds a way to go over most of the chip mats at sometimes odd intervals, yet never seems to show up in any race photos until the finish. My favorite was at the Providence Cox Marathon where they did get a photo of him at the start (note the woman starting with him) and a photo at the finish. Notice anything strange? He's wearing 2 different kinds of shoes! Not bad to have time to change shoes and still run a 2:52 marathon. For all the grief James Hogue got for trying to relive the glory days, at least he was indeed running the races!


Angela Wesselman aka
 lots of people on Facebook
The Catfish comparison is a new one, but it looks like Mr. Litton has fabricated at least 3 races to further his "cause." Like Angela in Catfish, who created an entire community of people (with facebook profiles), it looks like Mr. Litton created the West Wyoming Marathon, the Pine Hills 5k and the Sandy Springs Half Marathon (and their competitors with Athlinks Profiles) out of thin air. This was reported last night and the first 2 sites have already been taken down. How was this figured out? Well it turns out these 3 races, along with his dental practice website and his former running website,, had the same web host. It is a larger hosting company, but the similarities and the crappy websites make it obvious that something is fishy (hey-o!). He has also submitted the West Wyoming Marathon to Good one Kip.

Now is the time I wish that when I was a film major at UNC-Chapel Hill, we actually did digital filming, editing, etc. I was the last class to actually use 8mm and 35mm film before the upgrades. I also used to play records and CD's when I was a DJ at WXYC, but that's how it was! The saga of Kip Litton would be an excellent documentary and might even make Kip famous (or infamous) beyond the running boards. I do hope he comes clean one day and I don't mind if Sports Illustrated or ESPN pays him for it. I just want to hear how he did it and why.

Thanks to Study of Kip Litton Running
for this one!
One thing that does bother me a little is that Kip is 1-0 against me. Turns out he "ran" the Boston Marathon last year in 2:52:12, besting my 2:55:04 by 2 minutes and 52 seconds. This is a day after he ran a 5k "PR" of 17:17 in the BAA 5k. I was hoping I would get another shot at him this year, but he doesn't appear on the entrant list. Seems odd after he has run it many years in a row. There's gotta be a story there, and I hope to one day hear it (although possibly he didn't sign up in time). So Kip, if you are reading this, please find an avenue that will pay your mortgage for a while and let us know how you did it (or just email me). Until then, we are going to continue posting videos like this of you walking across the finish line in 2:55 at the PF Chang's Arizona Marathon. Head down as usual and hopefully feeling dirty inside (like this one below from the Gasparilla 5k).

We almost raced again at Boston 2012

Information on the New Yorker article, published July 30, 2012

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hobby Jogging: 1/8/11 - Raleigh, NC - Run for Young

Today marked the first race of the 2011 Second Empire Grand-Prix Series. It was the Run for Young 5k, which is in remembrance of Sadiki Young. The Grand-Prix is something I have been hoping to complete for a while and I think I can get in 6 of the required scoring races (out of 8) before Boston this year if I do them all. After being in Chicago for a few days this week and enduring 8 degree weather Thursday night, 37 degrees at 10am this morning felt pretty warm! Luckily, my training partner, John Simons, decided to show up and compete as well. This proved extremely helpful! We got in a nice 2 mile warmup and some strides, changed into singlets and flats and were ready to roll.

The gun went off and the first quarter mile was flat down Edenton Street before hitting a small downhill and then going up the ramp to merge onto Hillsborough St. We got out pretty relaxed, but 4 guys had gotten away early and there were some high school kids that soon would slow after their typical sugar buzz start. We rolled up the 2nd hill by St. Mary's and hit the mile very relaxed in 5:53 or so. Then came the big, long hill in front of the YMCA to Oberlin that continued upward around the new roundabouts. This was quite a long hill and we worked it well. We had passed #4 right before the mile and John began to pull away from me at the roundabouts (Greenville hurts for hill training). After that, we got some relief coming down the hill and hit the second mile in 5:54-ish (there were no mile markers or people calling splits anywhere. For a Grand-Prix race, this has to happen).

At this point, we had the a few more hills to go and with a half a mile left, the pace really picked up. I ran very strong up the last quarter mile hill before it leveled out. This is where I really dug in. I could hear footsteps behind me and was holding strong in 5th and didn't want to give it up. I was gaining on John and my turnover was rolling. I kept one gear in my back pocket just in case the sixth man caught up. Finished strong in 18:10 (official results) with a 5:44 last mile that had 2 good uphills. Felt totally fresh at the finish and John and I knocked out a good 4+ mile cooldown to each hit 50+ miles for our down week.

The awards ceremony was right on time, just the way I like it. Coming in 5th overall got me first in 30-34. John was 4th and first in 25-29, which netted us both $25 gift certificates to The Athletes Foot (Age Group Awards went only 1 deep, so they were good). The shirts were pretty cool as well and I got a student discount for entry, which is always nice. A good effort on a challenging course and some good points are on the board for the rest of the season! Satisfied...

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