Category Archives: Running On Emotion

Think about this stuff on your next run

When My Baby Smiles At Me, I Go To Eugene

As exotic as Peter Allen’s lyrical invitation may be, I am not going to Rio. Day-Jena-Arrow.  As close as I’m getting is Eugene, Oregon, home of the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field. I was in TrackTown for last weekend’s events and wanted to share a few images that caught my eye.

Even though I’ve been following track and field intently since the 1972 Olympics,  this was my the first major track meet I’d ever attended. In fact, it’s actually the only one I’d ever seen in full other than my own high school meets more than 35 years ago.

From seeing many of the heroes of my day paraded out to wave to the crowd and bestow medals upon this year’s team, to the (literally) ups and downs of competitive racing, to the sheer magnificence of the athletes performing with so much at stake, it was a weekend to remember.

Here’s some of what I remember from Day One.

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I believe this vague sign was from a local sandal company. Not sure it will ever catch on. What do they even mean by “It”?

 

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Best breakfast of the past 25 years (since leftover Mexican on Half Moon Bay beach). Some kind of Koreanesque hot bowl at Tasty and Alder in Portland.

 

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IMG_2440 Historic Hayward Field is the Fenway Park of American Track. I’d have said Wrigley, but the hometown heroes at the University of Oregon actually win here.

 

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My own hometown hero, Joe Kovacs of Bethlehem Catholic High School, gathers himself before the throw that would put him on the U.S. Olympic Shot Put team.

 

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The 800m was Berry Berry good for Boris Berian.

 

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The top performer of the weekend was no doubt, Allyson Felix. Here’s that moment before she takes the blocks for the first heat of the Trials in the 400m. As beautiful as she looks on television, seeing her run in person was a revelation. She runs like a spider, long swift strides that make the track disappear behind her.

 

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Galen Rupp picks up the flag given to the top 3 finishers of every final, symbolizing their place on the Olympic Team. He already had secured a berth on the marathon team, and his dominant run in the 10,000m left no doubt. He’s the man. And he’s greedy in the best way.

 

Spelling Fun with Raritan Valley Road Runners

On a day where snow is going to prevent many of us from running, I am left to think back about some of the most memorable runs of 2015.

And while here’s no place I love running more than in New York’s Central Park, I think my favorite NYC run this year was when I was on my way to the park but never got there.

You see, as I headed out of my midtown hotel on a Sunday am in December, I ran smack into something that immediately diverted me from my route to the park.

I mean how could I look away once I saw this?

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I don’t get a ton of giddy, happy smiles and leaping tutus in midtown Manhattan, even during the Christmas season.   But there they were, a frolicking pack of jolly runners having way too much fun to ignore.

I instantly recognized that my new destination was the journey with these folks

“How far are you guys going?,” I asked one of the women who had the biggest smile of the crowd.  “Oh I don’t know,” she said. “We are doing the letters run.”

I had no idea what a letters run was, but she was cute. And cute is cute and fun is fun, so I asked if I could join in and she enthusiastically welcomed me to the club. I thought maybe they were with the post office

As we went on, it seemed less like a delivery route and like the kind of run I often do in my own town. We ran through the streets seemingly at random.  We’d go a block, turn, go another block turn, stop, start.

Not exactly a rigorous training run, but more like the kind of playful romp I advocate as the best remedy to bring fun and spontaneity to an otherwise monotonous running routine.

Not only did we keep stopping for group photos…

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….. but I was quickly volunteered to be the club photographer.

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As it turns out this  run was not random at all.  In fact, it was an annual ritual of one of New Jersey’s more active running clubs, the Raritan Valley Road Runners.

Our path wasn’t just following the whims of the pack leader, it was a very precise attempt to spell out the initials of the club, RVRR, on the GPS watches of the group.

 

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When a run is more play than work, it is, by definition, a good run.  No matter how you spell it, this was a good run.

And I have the smiles to prove it– and Raritan Valley Road Runners to thank for it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenes from 2015 Club Nationals

Here’s an assortment of images that struck me at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championship at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.   I’m working on some putting together some thoughts on my race, but until then have a peek at what it looked like to be there.

 

Chasing The Bike. Early leaders of the Women’s 40+ race set the pace.

 

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Watch This, Young Fella. The start of the Men’s 60+ Masters race.

 

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Flying By. Cally Macumber (210), Laura Thweatt (148) and the women’s open leaders about 1K into the race.

 

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My Kind of Beach. The women’s open field race over the sandy track that surrounds the Polo Field.

 

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That’s A Wrap. Amy Van Alstine takes the tape at the women’s open 6K.

 

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One Second. Two-time defending champ Laura Thweatt is one second back this year. She now sets her sights on the Olympic Track Trials.

 

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Straight Outta Jersey. My new teammates from adidas Garden State Track Club get ready for Men’s Open 10K. They would finish 7th overall.

 

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Ups And Downs of XC. Before the Open Men’s 10K, each has his own style of warmup: one hops, one stretches and one dons Will Ferrell’s headband from Semi-Pro.

 

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Where You Lead, I Will Follow. Before the Men’s Open 10K.

 

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Eyes On The Prize. You need a clear mind to run a cross country race.  And perhaps, a mustache.

 

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Tough field? Put it this way, 800m Olympian Nick Symmonds started in the third row.

 

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GOING,

 

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GOING,

 

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GONE.

 

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Watch Where He’s Going. Runner checks his pace during Men’s Open 10K.

 

 

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Through the Shadow. The sun was shining bright by the time the Men’s Open 10K neared midrace.

 

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This Only Looks Downhill. These guys are actually running a slight uphill, just before the turn that brought them back toward the ocean.

 

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Keeping Order. The USATF clerk’s desk provided answers all day long.

 

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The Leader of the Pack. Head Honcho Irene Herman ran every race without breaking a sweat.

 

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Just For Pretty. Anyone know what this is, other than beautiful?

 

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HOKUS POCUS. Hoka One NAZ Elite take men’s open title, Boston Athletic Association second and Boulder Track Club third.

 

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Queens of the Golden Gate. Amy Van Alstine stands head and shoulders above the top 10 women finishers in the Open Women’s 6K.

 

 

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I Never Saw These Guys. But apparently they (and just about everyone else) beat me in the men’s masters 40+ 10K race. Bowerman Track Club, West Valley and Boston Athletic Association took the top medals.

 

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Best Moment of the Weekend. I had the privilege of listening to this legendary coach and the honor of shaking his hand when he completed his remarks. Coach Bob Vigil, who among other achievements, helped transform Deena Kastor into possibly the greatest American female distance runner of her generation, was featured in the national best-seller Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

 

My Alma Mater Wins NCAA Cross Country Championship??!!

I went to Syracuse University, a basketball school that also played football and has a pretty decent journalism school.  When those seasons inevitably ended without satisfaction, we turned our attention to the one sport we dominated– lacrosse.  As far as I knew then, those were the only sports offered at Syracuse.

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What do I have in common with these guys? We both went to Syracuse University. We also both ran cross country meets this year. They did a little better than I did. (Photo grab from NCAA video)

Apparently, I was wrong.  So wrong, I didn’t even know my alma mater had won a national championship in another sport until I found the news on Runnersworld.com while searching for my own feature article on the very same sport: cross country.   (Here’s my article, by the way.  It’s called Cross Country Romance and it’s about my deep abiding love for the sport, which I rediscovered by running my first race since before I even enrolled at Syracuse 35 years ago!).

So my congratulations are slightly belated, but very much in order to coach Chris Fox and the Orange for topping #1 ranked Colorado, the legendary program immortalized in one of running’s great books, Running With the Buffaloes. I have that book within arm’s reach as I write this and am thrilled to know that the Boys of Syracuse could go head-to-head with Coach Wetmore’s squad and win one for homegrown New York state runners like me.

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Orange is my favorite color. (Photo from SU Athletics)

Here’s the Runners Times article on the  historic victory, Syracuse’s first XC national championship in 64 years.

Crossing the Country for Cross Country

Next weekend, I’ll be in San Francisco for the United States Track and Field Club National Club Cross Country Championships. I’ll be lining up on Saturday at 10:45am against a field of masters runners for a 10K that is considered by many to be the most competitive masters field of any race in the U.S. all year.

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My photo from Runners World September 2015 issue. Image by Ryan Hulvat, scruff by willful neglect.

This year,  I am among the favorites in my race, which is for men 40+.  And by favorite, I mean favorite to finish last.  Seriously.  I’m not exaggerating.  At last year’s Club Nats, in my hometown of Bethlehem, PA, I came in 513 out of 598, and of of the 85 guys I finished ahead of, only 17 were under 60.  Runners over 60+ will be in a separate race this year, so if my fellow back-of-the-packer 50somethings don’t make the long trip across country to this race, I may be the 2015 Club Nats Mr. Irrelevant.

So why in the world would I plunk down $1,000 for a plane and hotel room to run somewhere around 50 minutes for the privilege of finishing last in a race?

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Clearly, I belong alongside Eddy Merckx.

Here’s why. Click on the link below to see my article in the September 2015 edition of Runners’ World.  Hint: the article is called Cross Country Romance.

14 Best Signs from Philadelphia Marathon, Kelly Drive Edition

Yesterday was a perfect day for running the Philadelphia Marathon and a pretty darn good day for watching it, too.   I spent the day chasing and pacing a couple friends who were running and had an especially fun time out on Kelly Drive with the signs that spectators made to cheer the runners and poke fun at the absurdity of running a marathon.    Here’s a dozen and a deuce that caught my eye.  (With apologies, please note I’m taking my Iphone this week for repair as part of the iSight Camera Replacement Program.  Crisper photos to follow immediately thereafter).

 

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#14. You may also blow off your right leg, so be careful.

 

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#13. Why is this man smiling?

 

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#12. Just before she swiped left.

 

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#11. You never met my mom. Nothing’s ever easy.

 

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#10. Since you missed Meet the Press Sunday am.

 

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#9. Paging Dennis Rodman.

 

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#8. Made me look.

 

#7. I had to look this one up. Now, I'm scared.
#7. I had to look this one up. Now, I’m scared.

 

#6. Somewhere, a Mummer weeps.
#6. Somewhere, a Mummer weeps.

 

#5. Nothing standard about this deviation.
#5. Nothing standard about this deviation.

 

#4. Race support only last so long (ie. Generally until 2pm for mimosas)
#4. Race support only last so long (ie. Generally until 2pm for mimosas)

 

#3. Curt Schilling was right. Again.
#3. Curt Schilling was right. Again.

 

#2. Gonna walk now?
#2. Gonna walk now?

 

#1. And I already started streaming Sixth Sense, or maybe it just looks that way...
#1. And I already started streaming Sixth Sense, or maybe it just looks that way…

 

 

11 Signs That There is Running On Mars

UPDATED. Complete report now available! NASA claims these unaltered images, transmitted from the surface of Mars by the rover Curiosity, are ordinary rock formations.  CNN theorized that the internet had lost its mind.  But a closer examination has revealed another story.  Judge for yourself these 11 Signs There is Running On Mars.

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For more insights into the hidden world of running, subscribe now to TakingMulligans.com, like our page on Facebook and follow me on Twitter (scroll to top of page).

You can also find my work in Runners World (September 2013, September 2015)  and in my upcoming book, Running Back the Clock.