Thursday, March 29, 2012

5 Questions with the Stephanie Stark (of 100 mile/100 beer week fame)

Today, we have 5 Questions with a college student who had a little different spring break than most coeds (and lived to tell about it). She and two of her friends completed "the bicentennial," a feat that very few have accomplished.

Stephanie Stark is a senior journalism student at Ohio University. She and her friends started OU's running club as Freshmen and have competed together in 5ks, marathons and trail ultras since. For their senior year spring break, the three decided to conquer The Bicentennial: running 100 miles and drinking 100 beers in a week. They chronicled their feat in blog form hereFollow Stephanie on Twitter here.

5 Questions with Stephanie Stark

1. Writing About Running: The idea of 100 miles/100 beers in a week has been thrown around for years on the World Famous LetsRun Message Boards. What led you and your friends to take the plunge?

Stephanie Stark: We've been talking about doing this since we were freshmen, since we started running club together. Though we all have very different majors and are going very different directions, we always remained close because we presided over running club for three years. We handed down the club last year, and each went separate ways for internships and travel abroad for half the year, and kept in touch over Skype from all over the world. During one Skype conversation from three different states, we committed to doing "The Bicentennial" for our spring break, so we continued the beer-drinking-training and the running-type-training together when we reunited for the last quarter of our college careers.

Cheers!
2. Writing About Running: Averaging ~14 miles and ~14 beers a day is tough. How much planning went into the feat?

Stephanie Stark: We looked for a lot of information from running blogs and found the advice to frontload the miles and backload the beers. Brad, who is an engineering major, talked it over with other math-whizzes and decided we should run 40 miles in the first two days and 40 beers in the last two days.

After literally months of planning, the boys approached me very kindly to tell me they meant no offense, but that I shouldn't drink the entire 100 if I wanted to make it out alive, as I'm a few dozen pounds lighter than them. Brad computed that my weight is proportional to 70 beers, so I only drank 70.

I received a lot of backlash on those "World Famous Message Boards" for that, but it is ignorant to think I could survive drinking 14 beers each day, and gender equality doesn't always mean gender sameness.

3. Writing About Running: Was there a point in the week where you wanted to give up? When you started dragging, how'd you soldier through the physical effects of your journey?

Stephanie Stark: Once we got into the thick of our runs, about mid-week, we started stopping for a few minutes more frequently just to stretch or to get a drink of water. I doubt if anyone thought they would give up on it; Stevie's pains derived from his lack of running-training, and mine derived from the beer intake.

The most intense run was on the third day, because we had a lot of beers and a lot of miles to get in. None of us remembered the day's second, six mile run until we pieced together how we got from one place to another, six miles away.

The team
4. Writing About Running: Athens, OH (home of Ohio U) is known as a historic college town. For outsiders, what are some of your favorite places to run and to drink a beer in Athens?

Stephanie Stark: Athens is a hidden treasure for drinking (Check out my blog, Drunk, or Athens?) and for running. It has great trails as it's in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and miles and miles of dirt roads, as it's in Appalachia. My favorite run, though, is on 682 directly underneath The Ridges, which is a haunted and abandoned mental hospital. The Ridges are beautiful and eerie and gigantic crows are continuously circling the biggest building. And to the left, on this run, is the Hocking River overlooking West Green, my favorite place, on campus.

My favorite place to get a beer is Jackie O's, because it has a Razz Wheat that is home-brewed and a very chill back porch.

5. Writing About Running: What did you learn in the journey? And would you recommend this to anyone else?

Stephanie Stark: I would absolutely recommend this, and I'd suggest 1. Do an ice bath every day, 2. Do two-a-days and 3. Don't do it with anyone you would be embarrassed to $hit yourself in front of, just in case.

While the last piece of advice might be harsh, it's absolutely the most important.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Hobby Jogging: 3/25/12 - Raleigh, NC - Second Empire 5k Classic

51 weeks. That's how long it had been since my last road 5k. I gutted through that one to cap off a podium finish in the 2011 Second Empire Grand Prix, but despite having a very low mileage year, I'm still suffering from the same things that I was a year ago. Hamstrings, shins, piriformis, plantar fasciitis, etc. It's all been a drag and still continues to hinder my runs, yet I soldier on.

Looking decent early
The main reason for hopping into this race while not really being fit, is just to get a race in. After having to bow out of Boston last year due to injury, I've made the goal to get to the starting line this year. While my longest run has been 16 miles (and that was a few months ago, before my shins really started hurting again), and I'm ten pounds heavier than I was a year ago, I plan on running Boston. It may be slow, but I'm doing it.

So back to the race... I first ran the Second Empire 5k Classic back in 2006, when I was out of shape and would get in runs when I could. It was pretty embarrassing and humbling as I "ran" 22:25. This year was pretty embarrassing as well, yet not to that degree. Earlier this spring, before I had some severe shin issues and had to take 10 days off, I was knocking out some decent workouts. 8 miler steady states at 6:35 pace, 4 mile tempos at 6:07 pace, long progression runs ending with multiple miles under 6:20. Good stuff. But the fastest tempo I had done was 4k in 14:59. That in mind, I was hoping to stretch that pace out for 5k.

Struggling home late
The Second Empire course isn't really difficult, but it's not easy either. The first mile is essentially the same course as the Mag Mile, starting at Second Empire and running around the Capitol and back. This is where it gets a little tough. It's a long slow hike up Hillsborough Street to the second round of roundabouts that are across from the bell tower. The wind was whipping pretty good on this particular day (as my second mile was a slow one). I got out decent enough at the start before being flat out cut off about a half mile in by a masters runner who decided to surge in front of 3 people on a 90 degree turn and then throw the brakes on. Oh well, the five and a half hours of single track running I did last week had me used to stop and go. I tried to keep it very much like a tempo run, under control and quick. I think I did so for the most part. I didn't get going too quick on the first mile and hit 5:50 or so. The second mile, as mentioned above, was far tougher, and although I didn't lose much ground, I still ran a 6:20 or so for the uphill mile into the wind to hit 12:10 with 1.1 to go. I kind of joked that I hoped to break 19 at the starting line, but that really was the case. I tried to push it a little bit back towards the finish and knew I'd have a true gauge when I saw the 1/2 mile left sign. I hit that at 15:57 and didn't feel great. I needed a 3:02 to break 19 and I answered the call with a 2:55 to finish in 18:52. This time last year, I was about a minute faster, but this was a decent rust buster. Makes me want to do one more this weekend before Boston in three weeks, just to get "that feeling."

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Thanks to our sponsor, DistancePreps.com, for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. 

Bookworm: "Running After Prefontaine" by Scott F. Parker

Sometimes I'll receive a book in the mail, and after ripping open the envelope, I just don't have the time to dig into it the way I'd like to. Whether it be due to an overloaded work schedule or just the nuances of life not allowing me to sit down and read, it happens. I've had this particular book sitting on my bedside table for a few months until this weekend, and I'm glad I finally got to it. What a fun read!

If I were to write a memoir at this point in my life, there would certainly be some striking similarities with what I would put to paper and with what Scott F. Parker has done in "Running After Prefontaine." Parker is a few year's younger than I and from the opposite side of the country, but there are plenty of parallels, as I am sure there are with plenty of 20 and 30-something distance runners out there.

With a title like "Running After Prefontaine," one would think there would be a ton of Pre talk.Well, there is, but it doesn't come until about 170 pages in. Where Parker excels is in telling his own story (/memoir) of his evolution as a runner and what it's meant to him over the years. He romanticizes the art of the run and the pain of the marathon very eloquently, as it did a great job of bringing nightmares of my first attempt at the marathon on no training.

Forest Park
In telling the story of his life and the running component to it, Parker speaks of his Portland, OR upbringing and the excellent running at Forest Park. I've heard the Nike folks mention this, as well as the 3 Non Joggers. When I visit Eugene again this summer for the 2012 Prefontaine Classic, I hope someone will take me on a 10+ mile tour! And while speaking of Forest Park, one chapter is especially entertaining, entitled "On $hitting in the Woods and Other Tragedies of Running." Pretty much any distance runner worth their mettle has had an "episode" and lost a sock or two. On that note, I can happily endorse a product for any runner who spends time in the woods: a box of Wet Ones singles. Thank me later (note: this link is not my review).

Parker's Two Rules of Running:
Rule #1: No Treadmills
Rule #2: No iPod
**Rule #3: If breaking #1, also break #2

The pilgrimage Parker took to Coos Bay, where he saw Pre's sister speak during a theater viewing of Fire on the Track, shows his passion for the story of the sport. His PR at the Prefontaine Memorial Run was an obvious personal highlight as well. At the time, it's apparent that he's been slightly obsessed with the Pre biopic, Without Limits, and the mythic figure that Prefontaine has become in his untimely passing.

"Runners, by tendency not definition are misfits, in high school particularly so." That quote couldn't be more true. Parker embraces the joy of running, per his between chapter interludes, and it's no surprise that he was a fan of Gabe Jennings at the 2008 Olympic Trials, rather that someone like Galen Rupp. Jennings came from that bizarre mold that Pre had a lot in common with. That is the underlying theme of the whole book. To enjoy running for what it gives you. To embrace the good and the bad and to ride it out. Sure, one can follow a training program and achieve a goal, but sometimes it's more fun and intrinsically satisfying just to run free!

Pick up a copy of "Running after Prefontaine" at Amazon.com (where you can also read a preview)

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Thanks to our sponsor, DistancePreps.com, for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2008 US Olympic Trials - Distance Events Revisited

The 2008 US Olympic Trials were extremely entertaining. The Men's 800 kicked off the excitement (and was the race of the trials for me), with the rocket launcher like finish from Nick Symmonds, followed by the Oregon Duck, Andrew Wheating, barreling up the homestretch for second, upstaged only by the Oregon Track Club's Christian Smith, diving at the line for the final spot and getting the Olympic A-Standard in the process.

The trials closed with the Men's 1500, which was set up for drama with the mystery man, Gabe Jennings, looking incredible in the heats, but needing the A-Standard. Jennings took the lead early, but a windy day killed his hopes at a second Olympic team. Also surprising was American Mile Record Holder, Alan Webb, not having a kick over the final 100 and then getting nipped by Will Leer at the line to finish fifth.

The Women's 10,000 was exciting in the fact that Amy Yoder-Begley raced the clock, after she had locked up third place, to attain the A-Standard (which she did by a few seconds). Then Abdi crushed the last lap in the Men's 10,000, to win, and then dove into the steeple pit. What a character! Glad he'll be making a return trip this year in the marathon.

Below are the Olympic Qualifiers in every distance event from 800 - 10,000. Click on the link in each event for full results.

Race of the trials (all photos: TrackandFieldphoto)
800 meters
Men
1. Nick Symmonds
2. Andrew Wheating
3. Christian Smith

Women
1. Hazel Clark
2. Alice Schmidt
3. Kameisha Bennett (no standard)
4. Nicole Teter

Erin Donhue
1500 meters
Men
1. Bernard Lagat
2. Leo Manzano
3. Lopez Lomong

Women
1. Shannon Rowbury
2. Erin Donohue
3. Christin Wurth-Thomas

Anna Pierce
3000 meter Steeplechase
Men
1. Anthony Famliglietti
2. Billy Nelson
3. Josh McAdams

Women
1. Anna Pierce
2. Lindsey Anderson
3. Jenny Simpson

Bernard Lagat
5000 meters
Men
1. Bernard Lagat
2. Matt Tegenkamp
3. Ian Dobson

Women
1. Kara Goucher
2. Jen Rhines
3. Shalane Flanagan

Shalane Flanagan
10,000 meters
Men
1. Abdi Abdirahman
2. Galen Rupp
3. Jorge Torres

Women
1. Shalane Flanagan
2. Kara Goucher
3. Amy Yoder-Begley

Just think, we're only 3 months away from the 2012 Olympic Trials!

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Thanks to our sponsor, restwise, a cool product that quantifies you body's recovery, for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Hoka One One Field Test

"For every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction." That quote by Sir Isaac Newton best explains the creation of the Hoka One One brand in 2009, the same year as the release of Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run." McDougall's book launched the minimalist craze and it seemed like a strange time to launch a line of running shoes that were the exact opposite. Hoka One One's could best be described as "maximalist," as they keep you as far off the ground as possible. Hoka makes a few models, most of which are for the road or the trail. The model I tested was the Bondi B, which is a road running shoe.

Presentation: There's no doubt that the Hoka's look different. They have the "Hubble - Zero Gravity" soles on them that are quite large, yet quite light. They say "Time to Fly" on the tongue, which is a nice touch. The laces are the strong, trail-grade laces that are on par with what most companies use these days. They also have a good amount of reflection on them, which is nice if you like to run at night (or on the side of the road).

Fit: The Hoka's have a nice, wrapped fit. It's snug from all angles, likely from only having five eyelets per side. It has always confused me as to why some shoes have 8-9 eyelets. More room for error in my opinion. You do sit up, but that's the point. More on that below.

Run: The run takes some getting used to and I put them to the test. I hit the roads, the trails, and even the track for a 10x400 session. I've had lots of shin problems in the past year and can happily say that I felt the Hoka's helped alleviate that pain. The first thing you will notice when you take off for a run is that you sit up a little bit. You sink into the sole a little bit, yet it's not really super bouncy or cushy. They are surprisingly responsive for what looks like you're running in space boots. The only place where they felt a little odd was on the track. They were a little softer than usual there, but I was running on Wake Forest University's nice, soft track that is built for distance running.

Final Thoughts: All in all, I enjoyed the Hoka's. It's a little bit of an acquired taste, but there's a market for it. I waited for some time to actually test their shoes, as they were sold out and on backorder nationwide. That's a good problem to have. The only issue I had with them was likely user error. If you look to the photo on the left, you can see the tongue ripped out from the bottom. I tie very tight and put pressure on the tongue. The only feedback I would have is to make a strong stitch at the bottom of the tongue to the shoe, instead of adhesive (in future models), so that this doesn't happen to others. If you have any specific questions about the Hoka's, feel free to email me directly and I'll answer anything you have! UPDATE: I superglued the tongue back on and knocked out 2 hours and 5 minutes on the single track trails of Umstead Park with no problems!

Check out the Hoka One One Bondi B's, sold directly by Hoka One One on Amazon.com. Follow Hoka One One on Twitter here.

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Thanks to our sponsor, restwise, a cool product that quantifies you body's recovery, for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Running in Winston-Salem, NC - A Primer

Winston's got more than just tobacco
When I got the call that I'd be working in Winston-Salem from March 2011 to March 2012, I couldn't be more excited. As a native of Charlotte, a 10 year resident of Raleigh, and a frequent visitor to the Wilmington and Asheville areas, the Triad was one locale I had yet to explore. As I get older and travel more and more, I feel like a seasoned ambassador of North Carolina, and this stop in "The Dash" was a memorable one.

Similar to what I wrote about after my stint in Greenville, NC and my many miles at Umstead Park, here's a small look into what I've picked up on in the past year and what is worth checking out if you ever venture to what was once known as the "Tobacco Capital of the World."

Tracks
Hanes Park - 775 West End Blvd
This is a place that every town needs. A nice, public rubberized track. You don't have to worry about getting kicked off. You may have to dodge the Reynold High Track team practicing, but they usually stay out of lane one. There's also a nice ~1.25 mile loop around the park that is great for a warm up and cool down. It's right across the street from the YMCA and many group runs start and end here as well. Another plus is that there are tennis courts in the middle of the track that are lit until 8pm or so, which makes night time workouts a possibility (sans head lamp).

Wake Forest University - 499 Deacon Blvd (Kentner Stadium)
A beautiful track that is a little softer and nicer than Hanes Park and is easily accessible. The gate is always open, but try to be respectful if the Wake Forest teams are practicing. The track is adjacent to the cross country trails, which makes for a perfect 2 mile warm up and cool down to sandwich a workout.

Trails
Salem Lake - 1001 Salem Lake Rd
One of the treasures of the Winston running scene is Salem Lake. It's a few miles off exit 195 of Highway 40 and is a nice 7 mile crushed gravel loop that plays host to the Salem Lake Trail Runs (30k and 7 mile). One piece of advice I can give is if you come after work, park in the top lot before the gate, as they tend to lock said gate before the announced times, and I've seen multiple cars get locked in. Otherwise, enjoy the trails and watch out for the mountain bikers!

Reynolda Gardens - 2201 Reynolda Rd
Very close to the Wake Forest campus are the beautiful Reynolda Gardens. There's a nice ~1.5 mile loop that can be configured multiple ways and it's perfect for an easy day. You can park at Reynolda Village and sit outside and grab a bite at the Village Tavern afterwards.

Wake Forest Cross Country course - 499 Deacon Blvd
I first ran the trails at Wake in high school, competing at the Wake Forest Invitational, and they are exactly as I remembered. The full loop only takes about 10 minutes or so, but you can weave through the multiple options and add it on to the Reynolda Gardens run, which is located about a mile away. They have recently filled in the many eroded areas of the course for better footing.

Running Club
Twin City Track Club
The thirty five year old club puts on many races in town and has multiple groups that get together for runs as well. They have a nice link for local runs (with distances), that you can often find members of the club running during the week. They put on the excellent Beat the Heat 5k, Ultimate Runner and Frosty 50, that are listed below, as well as many, many other events.

Running Stores
Fleet Feet Sports - 50 Miller St
Since the closing of 4 Runners Only, Fleet Feet is the only show in town. Conveniently located right across the street from Whole Foods and Yoforia, Fleet Feet has all of your running specialty store needs and a nice staff that will put you in the right shoe.

Omega Sports - 414 S. Stratford Rd
A favorite of mine since my early days in Charlotte, Omega is a great place to catch a deal, as they always have coupons (join their email list). A nice staff and a nice selection make it a great place to pick up a pair of shoes or some gear.

Popular Races
Beat the Heat 5k
This is the NC USATF 5k Championship and is an overall awesome race. I ran this in 2010, before knowing I'd spend a year here, and raved about it then. Any race that has free beer, free pizza and free subs post race is good in my book. A challenging course and great competition makes it worth the trip. They also do an interesting "age-graded" award system, which is becoming more generous to me as I get older. It's also held at night, which is a nice change of pace, especially in the Summer!

Ultimate Runner
One of my favorite running events, period. And I've only done it once. It's a decathlon of sorts where you run the mile, the 400, the 800, the 100 and then close it out with a 5k tour of Hanes Park. It's limited to 108 runners, which are divided into 8 heats. You're given points for your place in each event and like golf, low score wins. The event is followed by an awesome after-party, put on by Twin City TC, that includes free beer and pizza. A must do!

Mistletoe Run
A staple in Winston is the Mistletoe Run, which is a Half Marathon. The race starts by Hanes Park and offers some challenging hills and a very scenic course. It's generally held after Thanksgiving, during the first weekend of December and there is a 5k and Fun Run option if you're not looking to go the 13.1.

Frosty 50
I've yet to run this one, but my sources unanimously recommended it (and they're natives). The Frosty 50 is a 50k that's held around the first Saturday of the year at Salem Lake. Don't want to run a 50k? There's a 25k option and a 4-man relay as well.

Post Run Fueling
Foothills Brewing - 638 West 4th St
Like beer? Me too. Not only does Foothills make award winning beer, they have an excellent brewpub where you can get cheese grits as a side item. They also have trivia, music and plenty of TV's to watch sporting events. And if you're anywhere in NC, order a Hoppyum or a Sexual Chocolate (if you can find it). You won't be dissapointed.

Mozelle's - 878 West 4th St
My favorite restaurant in Winston. If you can only go to one place to eat, this is the spot. Great apps and entrees and a nice setting near downtown Winston makes this a hot spot. Try the gourmet bacon-wrapped meatloaf with cheese grits (yes, I love grits) and spicy collards. Delicious!

Krankies Coffee - 211 East 3rd St
A very cool coffee spot that I was only introduced to recently. They've got a great vibe here with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Food, coffee, beer. You know, the works.

Other Places Worth Checking Out - Old Staley'sSingle Brothers, Skippy's Hot Dogs, Tate's

Other Things of Note
"Running Shorts" blog
Eddie Wooten writes an excellent blog for the Greensboro News & Record that covers the running scene throughout the Triad. A definite bookmark for keeping up to date with local races and news about local athletes performing on the national level.

JDL Fast Track - 2505 Empire Dr
Winston's first indoor track opened this year. Local builder and excellent runner, Craig Longhurst, has mixed business with pleasure and developed a spot to host high school. college and even masters meets. This has filled a big void in the state, as last year there wasn't a place to host the high school state meet. Thanks Craig!

Aperture Cinema - 311 West 4th St
An excellent movie theater that shows the films that will be nominated for Oscars. Also, the host of the River Run Film Festival. A great place to see a film before a night on the town, as it's located right on the heart of 4th Street. Also, they serve beer and wine.

Pilot Mountain Pay Back
If you're into Ultras and mountain running, Pilot Mountain is just a short drive from Winston and hosts this excellent event. They also have the Pilot Mountain 5k Challenge if you don't want to go long.

Krispy Kreme and Texas Pete
Two of Winston-Salem's finest exports!

Future Additions
This was orginally posted in March 2012. My hope is that when people google "Running in Winston-Salem, NC," that they will find this post, so if there are any additions I am missing, or things change in the future, please email me and I will revise accordingly!

Thanks to Brian Amrich, Nick Iauco and Molly Nunn for help compiling the information! And thanks to the good people at Wake Forest Baptist Health for providing an excellent place to work!

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Thanks to our sponsor, Race Ready, for sponsoring the blog this week.Great running shorts to store your PowerBar gels! If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Run Down: Bernard Lagat and Erica Moore take the Medal stand

Erica Moore, a new American
 middle distance star
(photo:TrackAndFieldPhoto)
The last day of the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships was a good one for two American runners in particular. The legend, Bernard Lagat, was victorious once again, while a new star was born in converted heptathlete, Erica Moore.

As the announcers ran through the list of competitors in the Men's 3000, it was obvious that Bernard Lagat was going to have his hands full to just make the medal stand. That wasn't what Lagat was thinking, as he did what he has done time and time again. He bided his time and worked to the front, at just the right time, to pass Kenya's Augustine Choge with 100 meters to go and take the 3000 victory. One of the best indoor runners of all time, this one was of Lagat's finest performances, especially amongst a field of this caliber. He will cherish this Gold Medal. Choge held on for the Silver and Edwin Soi held off Mo Farah for the Bronze. (Update: Soi was disqualified for infringement, but then reinstated after Kenyan appeal)

Golden God, Bernard Lagat
A bigger surprise was in the Women's 800, where the fledgling star, Erica Moore, took the field out hard from the gun and held on over the last straightaway for a hard fought Bronze Medal. Moore looked incredible even after she was passed over the last lap and held her form until the last 10 meters or so when gravity began to take over. She dove through the finish to hold off a hard charging Fantu Magiso for the Bronze and a new PR of 1:59.97. Kenya's Pamela Jelimo returned to form after a few awful years for the win, while the Ukraine's Nataliia Lupu took the Silver.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Tracking Track this weekend (where to watch and get live results)

Bernard Lagat's quest for Gold will
begin at 2pm ET Friday
(photo:TrackAndFieldPhoto)
It's March Madness all around this weekend as College Basketball isn't the only thing that's going on. World Indoors started late last night  (check out the results link for Day 1 to see the hot start that Team USA is off to) and will get going again at Noon eastern today (Friday), NCAA's kick off at 4pm eastern in Boise, ID and one of the biggest non-Marathons in the country, the Gate River Run, is Saturday at 8:30am eastern.

Here's a few links to keep you posted on the action:

IAAF World Indoor Championships
March 9-11
IAAF Coverage site
Results are here
Watch live on UniversalSports.com for $14.99 (Or only $9.99 with $5 off code USNTAF)
Preview: IAAF Day 1 Preview, IAAF Day 2 Preview

NCAA Indoor Championships
March 9-10
NCAA Coverage site
Results are here
Watch live via NCAA and ESPN3.com (ESPNU will show the meet on tape delay Sunday, March 18 at 7:30pm ET)
Friday: 12pm ET - NCAA.com, 7:30pm ET - ESPN3.com
Saturday: 12:30pm ET - NCAA.com, 8:00pm ET - ESPN3.com
Preview: Track Superfan has multiple previews from individual to team predictions

Mo Trafeh will be looking to threepeat
 in Jacksonville this weekend
Gate River Run
March 10

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Thanks again to our sponsor, RaceSplitter, for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 Questions with the Hub of Distance Running, Derek Rubis

Derek Rubis in action
We have a special 5 Questions with today with one of the sport's biggest fans, Derek Rubis. There's a Facebook group to help get Derek to the Olympic Trials this June in Eugene and a fundraising site to help make this a reality. It's almost to the target amount. Click here to contribute and track the progress.

Derek Rubis is the self-proclaimed "hub of distance running" and that title cannot be challenged by anyone. He holds the belt. His youthful exuberance and fandom is well appreciated by many of the sport's biggest stars. He's not only a huge fan of distance running, he's the king of Faceholing. He is also up over 79,000 tweets at time of publishing. Is anyone in the world over 100k? I'm not sure, but Derek may get there in a month. In this interview, he's got some NCAA predictions, as well as a list of folks he'd like to meet in Eugene this summer. If you start running well, maybe he'll Facehole you; a true mark of distinction in the running world.

5 Questions with Derek Rubis

1. Writing About Running: Where does your unbridled passion for the sport come from?

Derek Rubis: I started this sport because my doctor said that I could not do contact sports in high school. So I started Cross Country and Track then. It is a sport that not a lot of people can do, not even the sprinters.

The Art of Faceholing
2. Writing About Running: Where did you come up with the idea of your now famous "faceholing?"

Derek Rubis: I saw some people on Facebook with this thing called FACE in HOLE. I thought I would give it a try and now I am addicted to it.

3. Writing About Running: What is something about the sport that you would change if you were in charge?

Derek Rubis: I would show more distance events (on television) and show the whole event, not just the first and last 2 laps (and show less of the sprinting events).

4. Writing About Running: What are your predictions for the Mile, 3000 and 5000 at NCAA Indoors this weekend?

Derek Rubis: 
Top 3 in the Mile: Miles Batty, Andy Bayer and a darkhorse, Eric Harasyn
Top 3 in the 3K: Diego Estrada, Chris Derrick, Andy Bayer
Top 3 in the 5K: Diego Estrada, Lawi Lalang, Chris Derrick

Help Derek meet his heroes!
5. Writing About Running: What 5 athletes are you most looking forward to meeting in person at the trials in Eugene this June and why?

Derek Rubis: 
1. Trey Hardee because he is one athlete, outside of distance running, that inspires me to my best in my runs, workouts and races.
2. Fam, one of my Steeplechase Gods, need we say more?
3. Billy Nelson, another one of my Steeplechase Gods, cause he is short like me and still able to do the Steeplechase better than I can.
4. Nick Symmonds, the king of mid-distance running, cause he is just that damn good!
5. Jesse Williams because he is the greatest field athlete in my mind.

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Thanks again to our sponsor, RaceSplitter, for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network.

Monday, March 5, 2012

5 Questions with the Gate River Run Elite Athlete Coordinator, Richard Fannin

Today we have 5 Questions with the brains behind the first big United States Road Race (save the Marathon Trials) of the year and it is this Saturday in Jacksonville, FL. The Gate River Run 15k has a long history of being a target race for many American Elites before the start of Marathon season. We'll do a race preview later in the week, but today we were lucky to do an interview with the Elite Athlete Coordinator of the Gate River Run, Mr. Richard Fannin.

Richard Fannin is a self-described "running junkie," father of 5, native of Jacksonvile, Florida and coordinator of elite athletes for The Gate River Run, the US 15k Championship Road Race. The race will celebrate it's 35th running this year. I met Richard at his excellent post-race party at the Marathon Trials and his passion for the sport and it's athletes runs deep. Whether you are an elite or a hobby jogger like myself, I highly recommend making the trip down to Jacksonville to run the Gate River Run at some point in your life.

5 Questions with Richard Fannin

1. Writing About Running: What is your role with the race - and how did you get involved?

Richard Fannin: Doug Alred and his wife Jane are the co-race directors - and since 2009, my specific job responsibity is the coordinator of the elite athletes for the race. My father, along with a small group from the Jacksonville Track Club, founded the race in 1978, and I have had a vested interest in continuing his legacy with my involvement. In the late 70's and early 80's, I used to sit down with my dad with a stack of Runner's World magazines and Track and Field News lists, and compile our recruiting lists for the race. 30 years later, I am still doing the same thing.

Photo of lead pack from inaugural Gate River Run
(then known as River Run 15,000) in 1978 ..
L to R .. Benji Durden, Bill Rodgers, Barry Brown,
Chris Stewart, Jerome Drayton and Ken Misner 
2. Writing About Running: What changes did you make when you took over?

Richard Fannin: I joke that I was "already starting on 3rd base" as we already had one of the greatest fields - if not the greatest - in American roadracing when I started. But one objective I had was to try to make the field even deeper. In 2009, we started our first competitive team competition - known as "The Tenbroeck Cup" - named after John Tenbroeck, a tireless volunteer for the track club who had passed away the previous year. Our team competition has a separate $20,000 prize structure - on top of the individual prize money. It has been successful beyond our wildest dreams, drawing teams such as Team USA Minnesota, McMillan Elite, Bay Area Track Club - and others. It has indeed made our fields deeper than ever ... in 2009, we had 13 women run under 52 minutes. Last year, we had 8 men under 44:00 and 21 under 45:00.

3. Writing About Running: Who are the top competitiors this year?

Richard Fannin: Mo Trafeh - who won in 2009, and 2010, is back - and going for the "threepeat". He has run exactly 42:58 each of the last 2 years - the 4th and 5th fastest times in the history of the race. He certainly looks to be the class of the field. We have another 15-16 men that could make it very interesting: Fasil Bizuneh, who always runs well here. Bobby Mack, who won the USATF cross country title last month. Scott Smith, who just ran a 63:18 half in Houston. Then another handful of young guys such as Nick Arciniaga, Sean Houseworth, Christo Landry, Jimmy Grabow, Matt Llano, Ben Bruce, and Tim Ritchie. Antonio Vega is also back from injury, running his first race in nearly 2 years. Rounding out the challengers are Sergio Reyes, Zach Hine, Mike Sayenko, Danny Mercado and Justin Young.

The women's race is very intruiging; former champions (and veterans) Katie McGregor and Blake Russell are running. Magdalena Lewy-Boulet is running as well. But some of the toughest challengers will be some women that are running our race for the first time. Molly Huddle, the American Record holder for 5,000 meters (14:44) is making a rare road appearance, and has to be considered a favorite. Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, who just was cleared as a US competitor in September, won all 3 races she ran on the circuit last fall, won the USATF road title for 2011, and just placed 5th - with a 2:29 - in The Olympic Trials Marathon. Adriana Nelson, another runner recently granted US citizenship, is running as well. There are a whole host of young challengers behind this group. Maegan Krifchin, who ran a brilliant 71:04 in the Philadelphia Half-Marathon last fall, 2:29 marathober Clara Grant, Meghan Peyton, Sarah Porter, Lindsey Scherf, Alisha Wiliams, Kathy Newberry, and Emily Brown round out a deep, deep women's field.

Richard Fannin (2nd from right) on the awards
stage with McMillan Elite in 2011
4. Writing About Running: What changes have you made to the "Equalizer Race"?

Richard Fannin: For the last 8 years, we have started the elite women with a head start over the men - with the overall winner receiving an extra $5,000. For the first 6 years, the "headstart" was 5 minutes - basically the split between the men's and women's American Records (both set on our course). We have changed the rules to the rolling average of the actual split the prior 3 years - rounded up or down to the nearest minute. This year, for the first time - the split will be 7 minutes. I feel the "bogey" for men is 43:00 and for the women it is 50:00. I think the real story this year is - can the women hold off the men ? It has only happened once in 8 years. If you look at the Twin Cities 10 mile championship last fall, which uses a similar format, the split was 46 seconds per mile (Mo Trafeh and Janet Cherobon). An equal split over 15k would be 6:53. So I think it will be very, very close.

5. Writing About Running: What differentiates your race from the other top US road races?

Richard Fannin: I think mother nature is really on our side. March in Florida is typically sunny and beautiful. Many of these runners - who train in often snowy winters in Minneapolis, Flagstaff, and Boulder, et al. - relish the opportunity to come to a "spring break" type of setting (Author's Note: I ran the GRR during my grad school spring break week in 2010). Also, the fact that we really showcase the Americans. Not to take anything away from some of the fine races that award prize money to foreigners, but we really go out of our way to showcase and put the spotlight on America's best every spring. Lastly, we really make it a point to show them all some good old-fashioned "southern hospitality" while they are here. We put them up in the host hotel for 3 nights, have a nice elite pasta dinner with a guest speaker on Friday night, and the race director hosts a dinner is his backyard on Saturday night. It really is a 4 day "happening". Tune in at 8:20am Saturday to watch live on RunnerSpace. It should be quite a show!

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Thanks to our new sponsor, RaceSplitter, for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network.

Friday, March 2, 2012

5 Questions with World Indoors competitor, Jackie Areson

Jackie Areson on her
way to a World's bid
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
The IAAF World Indoor Championships, which will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, are a week away and we'll try and do a few 5 Questions with interviews with the competitors during this period as we ramp up for the last international competition before 2012 Summer Olympics!

Jackie Areson is now almost a year into her professional career as a runner. After an excellent career at the University of Tennessee, Areson has begun to make her marks on the pro circuit. Things started going in a positive direction around Thanksgiving with her win at the famed Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, and most recently, she was the runner up at the USA Indoor Championships (in the 3000), gaining her a spot on the World Indoor Championship Team. Follow her on Twitter here.

5 Questions with Jackie Areson

1. Writing About Running: First off, congrats on making the Worlds team. Was this the goal race all indoor season? Did it unfold as planned?

Jackie Areson: Initially, my only hard effort for the indoor season was going to be at the Boston Indoor Grand Prix. I ended up not being in the race I wanted, so it was more of a lesson in pushing a race and learning to push from the front. The goal from the start was that I wasn't going to run at USA Indoor Champs. But things ended up changing quite a bit. I found out the night before the race that I was running, after running a workout that Thursday, and 10 miles the day before. So needless to say it definitely didn't unfold as planned. I went into the race really relaxed, knowing I was in shape and ready to run with anyone, but not really expecting much considering the circumstances. I ended up feeling much better than expected, even with the slow early pace. I was unsure about going to World's as I'm extremely focused on getting that 5000m Olympic A standard in April, but I figured I can't pass up an experience like this. I figured, this is why I run, right?

2. Writing About Running: You've been with the Oregon Project for almost a year now. How has the transition been from college student-athlete to professional runner?

Jackie Areson: The mindset is completely different, at least it is for me. In college, I would just go from meet to meet, not necessarily having a concrete plan. Just trying to run fast. There was always the thought... "there's always next year, next season." But now, it's much more planned, much more focused on the few races you have. For me, I raced so often in college, and I took that for granted. Now I race much less, and it gives me a much more aggressive mindset when it comes to racing. In terms of the actual transition... it was extremely hard for me. My training was going to great when I moved out to Oregon, but my racing was going in the opposite direction. I always thought people were being ridiculous when they would say the transition is hard, I didn't believe it. But it really was hard on my body, even though I have no explanation for it. But my body is finally coming around to the racing again and I'm excited. Even though it has been hard, the fact that I have an amazing coach in Steve (Magness) really keeps me at ease. I have complete faith in his abilities and I know he's the only person that can get me to where I know I can be, whether it be this year or the next. It will happen. Another aspect that is really exciting and different is the fact that I am learning a lot about coaching. Steve and I have countless meetings and discussions on training, anything you can imagine, it's been discussed. That's exciting for me, because when it makes sense and I know exactly what everything does for me, I get excited.

Areson had quite a career
as a Tennessee Volunteer
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
3. Writing About Running: Speaking of college, you had quite a career at the University of Tennessee, which included a national title at the 5000 indoors. What were some of your most proud moments as a Vol?

Jackie Areson: I can't deny that my national championship was an extremely proud moment. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and overcoming a lot of injuries and illnesses and hurdles throughout my college career. But it was almost more of a stress reliever. I was extremely happy I won, but, it took a toll on me. Now, the further out of college I get, the more the team moments stick out in my mind and the more they make me proud to be a Lady Vol. I would say the 2 relays I was on at 2010 Penn Relays. And the 2010 and 2011 SEC DMRs. Those are the most special to me.

4.  Writing About Running: Looking ahead to outdoor, what will be your focus leading up to the trials? and what are some meets you are targeting?

Jackie Areson: My focus, like many others, will be on getting that Olympic A standard in the 5000m. As of now, the plan is to run a 5k at the first Stanford meet, to get a good effort in and to remember what it feels like to run a hard 5k before I try to go for that sub 15:20 at Mt. Sac 2 weeks later. After than, maybe some 1500's and then most likely the Prefontaine 5k.

Areson is part of the Oregon Project and
 is coached by Steve Magness
5. Writing About Running: Finally, what does being able to run for Team USA mean to you and what do you hope to get out of your trip to Istanbul?

Jackie Areson: What I hope to get out of this trip to Istanbul, is to stay focused and not let being in a different country stress me out and affect my training and racing. I didn't do a good job with that last summer in Europe, and it's something I really want to get down before I go back this summer. As for being able to run for Team USA, it's an amazing opportunity, I feel lucky to have come back from a disastrous summer to be in this position and on my way back up to the level that I think I belong. But at the same time, I approach it as any other meet, just another chance for me to be aggressive but also have fun and race girls much better than me. It will definitely be humbling.

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Thanks again to Splitcaster for sponsoring the blog this week. If you're interested in sponsoring writing about running (and other great sites like TrackFocusTrack SuperfanPaul Merca and the House of Run podcast) in the future, check out The Relay Network.