Choosing Joy (in running and social media)

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Cadence will say “cheese” just once for the camera and after that, she’s done. 👶😂 Quick family run after work tonight. 🙌. It’s one of my very favorite things to do. ❤️ Love tank full. ✔️ Maggie even got to join because it’s just a tad cooler lately. 🐕

Lately I have seen a few people write posts about how “fake” everyone is on social media and how we only post the good stuff. I don’t know that I think it’s such a bad thing to write about all of the good stuff going on in our lives. Do you? As runners, we know more than anything that the mental side to running and life is more than half the battle. If we look at all of the good in our lives, it’s got to make the dark days look a little brighter, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I think transparency and honesty are great with the right medium and the right audience. But I really think it’s pretty great to post our good days and smiley babies on social media. Sometimes I start to write something about a crummy day, and then I realize as I type it out how incredibly blessed I am. Who am I to complain that I had a bad night of sleep with my baby? I have a friend who just lost her baby. I’m going to enjoy waking up with Cadence until I’m blurry eyed.

I have posted some of my tougher days on Instagram, mostly involving Cadence and being a working mom.  Even then, I feel a little trite because I have an amazing job (I work for my dad) and I have amazing co-workers (who all support my passions).  Don’t get me wrong, I think reaching out when you are struggling is a great way to use our community.  I have gotten SO MUCH support from the community of runners and mommas!!! But I don’t feel like it’s fake to not post about every headache and traffic jam. I’d just rather post about the delicious cake that I’m eating or morning baby snuggles.  🙂

I also think it makes us better runners to focus on the positive things in our lives. Daily stress is just as bad as the cumulative stress of training. I’m sure that I’ll have days when I just want to complain, and I know that this community of runners will be so supportive to lift me up and cheer me on, but in the meantime, I’m choosing joy when I can.

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What do you think? Is it fake to not post the good and the bad?

I mean, how can I complain when I’ve got this cuteness right beside me?!

Unstructured training (break) between training

I’ve been enjoying a little unstructured time since my last race, and it’s been great to get extra sleep and decide how I’m feeling in the morning to determine what kind of workout or run I want to do. Cadence still does not sleep through the night at 19 months, and I feel like I’ll be digging myself out of this sleep deprivation hole until she graduates from high school.

My favorite runs have been with Cadence in the stroller, and I forgot how challenging that can be!  It’s so fun, but we haven’t done any high mileage together, and I think Cadence is at an age where she’s not about to fall asleep and risk the chance of missing anything. We ran 13 miles together on Saturday, which I managed to extend from our usual hour by bribing her with Cliff bar bites throughout the run.

I’ve been getting at least 45-60 min of cardio a day, as well as 3x upper body and 3x lower body strength work each week.  My legs don’t feel quite as fresh and fast as I’d like for them to be, but I have no goals this month that require for me to push hard, so I’m enjoying a little less speed and a little more baby time.

I plan to keep May unstructured and move back into training in June/July for non-goal races.  I am signed up for the Peachtree Road Race 10k on July 4, and I’m also running the San Francisco Marathon (as an elite!) on July 23.  Neither of these races are A goal races, but I want to perform well and have a good time.  There are a couple of other races that I’m considering, but nothing else on the calendar.

I will most definitely be focusing on road racing for a bit now that Gorge Waterfalls 100k is behind me.  I just don’t have the bandwidth to run on trails enough to be competitive on the technical stuff.  Plus, I really like road racing.

Based on my last race at Gorge, and my future goals, my two main areas of focus are 1. getting stronger on the hills (San Fransisco!) and 2. being mentally tough and confident.  I felt so strong for my sub 3 hour marathon in January, but it all kind of unraveled for me when I got out on the course of Gorge. But that’s how you grow. 🙂

There’s a quote by Alan Webb that I love: “Experience is something that you gain… after you need it so much.” So true, huh?

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What are you working on right now?

Going into Gorge Waterfalls 100k

I don’t know if anyone ever feels ready going into a race. I mean, I’m ready to go ahead and get this show on the road, but there are always the questions about whether I prepared enough and whether I prepared in the right ways. This course will be different than anything I’ve run lately, including my training runs, but I know that it will be beautiful, and I’ll be there with my husband and baby, so what else is there to want?
A little info about the race
I signed up for Gorge 100k because my husband said that he wanted to travel if I was going to keep signing up for races, and my coach recommended this race as one of the most gorgeous races out there. (I have the best husband in the world in case you didn’t catch that.)  From the videos and pictures I’ve seen, I think I’m in for quite a show of God’s glory!  Gorge Waterfalls 100k is a golden ticket race, meaning the top two male and top two female winners get entry into Western States 100 for 2017.  So this will be a very competitive race with everyone going for gold, but it also means that I’ll get to race with some pretty impressive runners!  The course is out and back with about 12,000 feet of elevation change.  I have read that some parts of the course are very slick and rocky, while other parts are fairly rolling and easy.  With that much elevation gain, I don’t think my legs will get bored.  🙂  The RD is James Varner, and everyone who talks about this race also says that James is a great guy.  I look forward to meeting him at the finish!
It looks like the weather will be in the 50s with a 90% chance of rain.  We are also told that the trails may be icy and snowy in parts, so might be slick!  I mostly feel bad for Cadence and Jon to have to stand outside crewing for me if the weather is so unpleasant.  Hopefully the scenery will make up for it!
How I trained
I ran a goal marathon in the middle of January, and then my coach had me cross training for about a month.  During that time, I built up my strength with weights and continued with a pretty big weight schedule until the middle of February when I started running again.  My training plan is also heavy on speedwork and weights, and that’s what I’ve been doing for a little over a month now.  I haven’t had any really big long runs, but that’s not really part of my plan.
It’s so hard to trust the process, but so far, my coach has gotten me to the start of every race in good shape for a solid run!  As a working mom, it has been hard to get in the “extras” in cross training.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I incorporate Cadence into my training as much as I can.  Most mornings, I workout solo before work, but after work, Cadence is with me so a stroller or a baby carrier are often involved.  Time is so precious, and being present with Cadence, as well as a good night of sleep, have won in this training cycle.  We’ll see how that translates to race day.  🙂
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What I packed
Everything.  Just kidding!  I have all of my race food in little ziplock bags divided by aid station.  I’ve packed a lot of Honey Stinger products and Bonk Breaker bars.  I tried on my race outfit (same thing I wore for my marathon), and packed up extras just in case.  I have a race plan written up, but I know that that may fly out the window as soon as the race starts.  I bought extra pepto bismal after what happened for the first 66 miles of the Yeti 100.  Ha!  Packing for a baby is also another challenge, so hopefully we won’t be doing any last minute shopping out there for stuff that I forgot!
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Last Thoughts on Mental Toughness
I read an article yesterday saying that the best way to help train an athlete for endurance is to toughen them up. Hands down being a mom is the best mental toughness training out there!  The guilt (working mom + training), the late nights (still not sleeping through the night), the emotions (mine and hers, ha!), the breastfeeding (yep, still breastfeeding)… and still getting out there to train and do the hard stuff.  When I start to doubt myself, I don’t have a huge log of training runs or past performances to draw from, but I do have the confidence to know that I grew a tiny human in my belly, brought her into the world, and have kept her alive and thriving.  And my reward will be to see that tiny human and my strong husband at aid stations cheering for me as I pursue one of my passions.
Thanks for all of your support on my running journey! 
What do you do to relieve race nerves?

Maintenance: Dry Needling

So far, I have been really fortunate to not have any injuries in my training.  (Knock on wood!)  The last injury that I can remember occurred during pregnancy when I had to take about a month off because my ankle was hurting when I ran.  I was able to continue cross training, but running put too much strain on my ankle in addition to the weight of pregnancy and associated gait changes.  (Thankfully, with the rest time, I was able to continue running at about 20 weeks and ran through pregnancy until the day that I went into labor.
I largely attribute the absence of injuries to the strength plan that my coach has created for me and to preventative maintenance.  The week before my most recent marathon in January, I started to notice that my hamstring was really tight.  I raced without injury, but I definitely felt the tightness during the race, and I was never able to roll or stretch the discomfort away.  For a month, I did cross training while I recovered, so I didn’t really test the hamstring under the same duress of my normal running schedule. Within the first week back to my normal training cycle, my hamstring was crying again.
With a goal race less than two months away, I was  distraught at the idea of any additional time off while I attempted to loosen the hamstring (not to mention that none of my former efforts like massage and rolling were getting me anywhere).  So I asked around and found a good physical therapist who specialized in dry needling.  I remember reading Kaci Lickteig’s blog post from last year where she attributed her return to running to dry needling.  If the girl who wins Western States believes in it, I could at least give it a try!
I scheduled my first dry needling session in February, and found the experience  to be way less painful than I had heard others describe it, and the results were pretty magical. I’ve since returned for another hamstring session and one session for my shin area.  It’s $90 a session where I live, and my insurance doesn’t cover it.  That’s pretty expensive, and I’m thankful that my husband lets me budget for luxuries like this.
How it feels:  My experience with dry needling is that most of the insertion places just cause a slight twinge and jump of the muscle.  I have had a few times that the insertion location has felt a little more achy, but overall, I wouldn’t describe dry needling as painful.  Remember that runners typically have a pretty high threshold of pain!  I am also a little stiff after the session, and it’s recommended not to try to exercise the same day as your session because your mechanics might be off, and you’d hate to create another injury while recovering from dry needling. Ha!  (I have done some strength work after a session though.)  My physical therapist advised that more hydrated bodies feel less pain during needling, so drink up before your first session!
My results: I have had slight relief after the sessions, but the real relief normally doesn’t set in until after the first day or two.  I often have the dry needling appointments in the afternoon, and I can still feel a little tightness the next day on my run.  But by the second or third day, the muscles have generally released and the magic of dry needling is realized.  Voila!
How it works:  A needle is inserted into a myofascial trigger point to produce a local twitch response.  This twitch results in muscle relaxation due to the release of shortened bands of muscle fibers. The local twitch responses are spinal cord reflexes, which helps break the pain cycle.  Not much is understood about dry needling, but the results speak for themselves.  When my hamstring was so tight, the physical therapist determined that my hamstring wasn’t really tight, as my leg could fold at a 90 degree angle, but I had knots in the hamstring that made me perceive tightness.  Dry needling signaled for my hamstring to release and removed the feeling of tightness that I was experiencing.
So far I am a happy customer when it comes to dry needling.  While I’d love to not have any pains requiring this type of treatment, it is inevitable with my body and the type of training that I am doing.  It’s nice to have dry needling in my toolbox when I need it.
Has anyone else tried dry needling?  What have your experiences been?

(Un)balanced

The other day someone asked on Instagram if I have balance in my life in reference to all of my training.  I use my Instagram account as a running account, and it’s full of training pictures, but it still made me feel a little defensive.  I read the post right before I went to bed, so I went through various stages of answering this question in my head throughout the night (made possible when your baby wakes you up in the night and starts the thought process over again).

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I woke up clear headed with my answer.  No, I don’t have balance.  That’s not my goal.  If we’re honest, not many people have balance, whether they are training for crazy goals, or just trying to survive motherhood in a world that has traffic and work and grocery shopping and housework and relationships to attend to.

I don’t think there have been many stages in my life where I lived a balanced life.  I’ve always lived in extremes. I finished first in my class in high school, skipping my senior year and going to college early.  I didn’t drink before I turned 21. I was not good at math growing up, so I majored in engineering and ended up getting my masters degree in it.  I finished the masters degree in 1.5 years, while my peers took 3+ years to finish.  I married the first person who I ever went on more than three dates with.  I never missed a workout until I hired a coach and she made me so tired that I finally took rest days seriously.

Like most runners, I’m a bit A type, and I also really love to train and get stronger and faster.  So this past year of running postpartum has been a lot of work, but it has also been extremely rewarding.  I compared my Boston Marathon experience to Disney for adults.  In that case, training for my first 100 mile race and completing it was heaven.  And the feeling of satisfaction in training a little harder to get my sub-3 marathon was the icing on the cake.  While I can do it, I’m going to keep going.  I have a supportive husband and a baby who fits right in to the schedule.  It’s hard work, and I have to make sacrifices, but that’s where I am in life right now.  Unbalanced.  🙂

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Is balance one of your goals?

Reflections on Running: Jim Webster Interview Part 2

This is the second installment of my interview with Jim Webster. If you missed the first installment, you can find it here.  I’m excited to share the rest of this great interview and learn more about the history of our sport.  Don’t miss the email excerpt at the end from Jim’s friend who describes selling Blue Ribbon Shoes (which later became Nike), and ultimately selling his shoe store to none other than Sally Edwards!

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Mission Bay, San Diego ~’64-’67, early 20s

5. One of the things that intrigued me in talking to you is that you got to experience running from the same start line as some of running ‘s most iconic figures. Can you name drop a few of the runners who you toed the line with?

Jim: Name drop…actually only three, yet, who knows.

In my 4:14.6 mile in Jefferson Georgia in April 1968 (while I attended Navy Supply Corps School) the winner was Jack Bacheler, a two time Olympian, 5000m in Mexico City in 1968 (so like 3 months after our race) and Marathon in Munich in 1972.  He was 6’7” weighing in at 170 lbs and ran a 4:04.2 that day, his personal best; I was fourth.    He was on the Florida Track Club with Frank Shorter and our own Jeff Galloway, and these are three the guys that, in my opinion, led the second wave of American track growth. In Munich the marathon was won by Shorter, Kenny Moore was second and Bacheler was ninth.  Shorter’s success moved many in the US to actually run the marathon and imitate his training.  A side story is that Jeff Galloway, who had already qualified in the Oly Trials 10K for Munich, chose to pace Bacheler in the Marathon trials and eased up at the finish, so that Bacheler could get the third spot.  Jeff is a wonderful person.

A year earlier, while in Pensacola with the Navy, I started a track club to compete with the FTC.  I called it the ALFA TC for Alabama and Florida.  We had good runners from Eglin AF Base, Pensacola JC and a Mobile army base, I think, along with my Naval Air Station.  That year we scheduled a meet with the U of Alabama and the FTC, and those three guys got three of the first four spots.  Craig Boylston of my NAS got third and no telling where I finished…probably 10-12th of 21 among the Alabama guys.  I’ve run 38 Peachtree Road races, but that shouldn’t count.  Another place that I have run against some big names was at All-Comers meets in Los Angeles where I grew up.  That is where I raced Archie San Romani, mentioned in the Bowerman book.  He won.  I’m sure there were others in those meets, in my track & cc at Notre Dame and after when I was hitting my peak, but they were not runners of any fame.  Not like the FTC guys.  So, really only those three qualify as icons.

I think Galloway pioneered the third wave in running with his run/walk model.  It made 1/2s and marathons doable by everyone.

6. How would you compare the running culture in the 60s and 70s to the running culture today?

Jim: NO ONE ran in 1957 when I began.  I really didn’t “go out for a run” until fall of that year when my high school cross-country team was inaugurated.  For all of those high school years, I was heckled by kids in cars as they drove by me.  “Hut two, three, four”  being the most common derisive yell.  Running was something they made you do in the military or military schools, I suppose.  Real males played football, basketball and baseball.  NO women ran.  This was way before Kathy Switzer became the first numbered female entrant in the Boston Marathon in 1967 and the race director tried to tackle her to take her out of that race.  Women weren’t officially allowed at Boston until 1972.  The first woman’s Olympic Marathon I witnessed in 1984 in LA.

The shoes we wore in the early years were black heelless Keds.  That was it.  Nike, Blue Ribbon Sports, Puma and even an Adidas non-spiked shoe was far in the future.  I think the first real running shoes were introduced to me at Notre Dame in 1964.  There were no open road races.  If you mentioned the word 5K and no one would know what you were talking about.  For h.s. x-c [high school cross country] we ran 2 miles.  For college x-c we ran 4 miles…even at the Nationals, which for many years were always held on Michigan State’s golf course.  “Track & Field News” the “Bible of the Sport” was only 9 years old when I began running.  (I actually have a library of the 60’s issues, if you’d like to take a look. [Yes!])  “Runner’s World Magazine” began in 1966.  Most high school track and cross-country coaches were also football coaches who didn’t have anything to do in the spring.  And they knew nothing about running.  There just was no US information about those two sports at the time.  There were no training programs to emulate.

We did read about “fartlek” (meaning speed play) training that the Swedish runners used.  And, I may have mentioned Percy Cerutty to you earlier who “was one of the world’s leading athletics coaches in the 1950s and 1960s.  The eccentric Australian pioneered a home-spun system of “Stotan” training, embracing a holistic regime of natural diets, hard training in natural surroundings, and mental stimulation.”  What I remember about his training method was his students running on the Portsea beaches in Australia, running up and down sand dunes.  And, yes, when we went the the beach that is what we did.  When I coached later, on occasional weekends, the team would meet at a beach near the airport, and we’d be joined by the St. Bernard team coached by one of my high school teammates and run the hills.  LA beaches also had steep hilly dunes maybe 30 yards up at a 40 degree angle.  (For fun, Google that teammate Walt Lange Jesuit.  After college he went on to become one of the premier high school coaches in the country.)  Cerutty’s Herb Elliot won the 1960 1500 meters.  Shortly thereafter came Arthur Lydiard with marathon training for all runners and his book “Running to the Top”, published in 1962, was our inspiration.  His top guy, Peter Snell, is the only runner to win both the 800 & 1500 in the 1964 Olympic Games.  Oh, and I visited the Snell museum on a trip to New Zealand a few years ago.  “Jogging with Lydiard” was, to my knowledge the first ever use of the term “jog” and it was written in 1983.  Thus, it was very very different 50 years ago.  My Boston had 800 or so runners.  My son just finished the NYC Marathon with 50,000 runners…3:49.  And we are all so very much healthier being runners than were the adults of those years.

7.  Tell me more about your experience selling shoes out of the back of your car with Blue Ribbon Sports. At the time, did anyone have any idea that Bowerman and Knight would ultimately create the company that would become Nike?

Jim: […] I think I remember selling shoes with Walt at All-Comers track meets in 1965’s summer.  That is, at most, all I ever did.  I’d not coached high school since mid-Spring of 1965 when the school principal offered me a job to teach Chemistry (I was an accounting major at ND) and be the assistant track coach for $386/month salary.  I went from part time at the LA Times payroll department to full time for probably double that salary.  I did keep private coaching one of my cross country guys…one Paul Petersen, who that summer broke a Jim Ryun high school record for the 3 mile or 5K in 1965 at an All Comers meet.  [Below] I hope you enjoy Walt’s story and you may wish to look at some of his links.  And, yes, he is still coaching at Jesuit High 38 years later!

Below are two email exchanges with Jim’s friends who sold Blue Ribbon Shoes with him and truly pioneered running in the 1960s and 1970s.

From: Walt Lange
To: Jim Webster

Jim, Well, this is probably more than you wanted or needed.  –Walt

My experience with Blue Ribbon Sports and Nike lasted from around 1966 to 1973.  My first awareness of BRS was through their advertising in Track & Field News and other running publications. Early on, Jeff Johnson was selling shoes by mail only, out of Seal Beach California.  He eventually opened a store in Santa Monica. Jeff would take pictures at road races and if you wanted your picture, you had to go to his store and fish through a shoe box full of pictures to find yours.

After a move to Sacramento in December of 1968, I became involved with the distance runners at Jesuit High School.  I began ordering shoes from Jeff (there were no running stores in the area, or in Northern CA for that matter).  After a while, Jeff suggested I become a dealer out of my house, he would sell me the shoes for $2 off the normal retail price.  So I wound up stocking my garage with Tiger shoes.  I believe I only stocked two models, the trainer called the Cortez, and the racing shoe, the Marathon.  The Cortez sold for $11.95 (team price), others paid a buck or two more.

The family car was a 1967 VW Bus.  I would take out the middle seat, load the car up with shoes, and travel to road races or high schools (by appointment) and sell.  People would come to our house weekday evenings, try on shoes in the garage, and buy what fit.  Eventually, the traffic became too much and I opened a small store a couple of miles from our home.  Store hours were evenings and weekend afternoons.  At some point (1972?), BRS dropped Tigers and switched to a new brand, Nike.  Jeff Johnson was the guy who came up with the new brand name that many, including me, thought was kind of weird.  Phil Knight wanted the name “Dimension Six”.  My store, “Sacramento Athletic Shoes”, was the first to carry any Nike products in the Sacramento region.

The store did well for a couple of years.  I expanded into wrestling and basketball shoes.  But eventually a Nike guy (maybe Bob Woodell, later to become Nike president?) wheelchaired into the store to tell me that unless I went full-time, they would stop supplying me, that they were ending all operations like mine.  I had to choose between going full-time and the security of the full-time teaching/coaching job I had begun in 1970.  I chose teaching and coaching.

I sold my inventory to two women who were starting a new store in town, Fleet Feet.  Sally Edwards and her partner Elizabeth Jansen came by our house and loaded my remaining shoes into their vehicle.  Their new store eventually became a nationwide chain, still doing business.

I’ve run into Jeff Johnson a few times over the years and have an autographed book of notes he distributed at a coaching clinic. At the time he was coaching the Nike Farm Team, having retired from Nike many years ago.

****

From: Paul Petersen
To: Jim Webster

Thanks, Jim, for including me in this email!

Walt, I didn’t realize you had shoe store that sold the pre-Nike product line, and that you knew the giants in that industry when they were just starting!

Jim, I think you can still brag about selling shoes for Blue Ribbon Sports, because I think I bought them from you, out of your bug. I can’t be the only one you sold to. I remember the sizes were all screwed up and they were sometimes too wide because the Onitsuka Tiger’s were Japanese-sized. They were amazingly light. I also remember driving to either Seal Beach, or Santa Monica to get more pairs when they wore out, and you weren’t around. I had their t-shirts, too, and wore them in all-comer races. They still sell a vintage Tiger shoe online at this link: http://bit.ly/2gwFuUU  – not exactly the same shoe.

You found the weakest existing Ryun record – a sophomore class three mile record, and talked me into besting it an all comers meet  – I think it was ’66. Ryun’s time was 14:52 and mine 14.48. Then Prefontaine did 13:something soon after!

I remembered that I still have the 50 year old program for the 1966 All-Comers season. That’s the one we went to all summer, Jim. I scanned it and attached it below. You might remember some of the names in it.

Hi Meredith, – You can get some good training advice from these guys!

-Paul

****

[A few more interesting article links to give background to the story.]

Jeff Johnson:   http://www.runnersworld.com/masters/employee-number-one
Phil Knight:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nikes-fiercely-competitive-phil-knight/
Fleet Feet:  http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2003/05/05/focus6.html

****

Below is a race picture of Jim (far right) with his wife, Beth, and neighbors at the local (hilly) 5k race held this past Saturday.  Jim took home the pie with a time of 28:12!

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2017 Tartan Trot 5k winners

 

Thank you, Jim, for sharing so much of your running history with me.  You are a remarkable runner, and you give me so much pride in the history of our sport. I have thoroughly enjoyed every sentence that you shared about your running journey, and it helps me relate to the running giants who made our sport what it is now.  Many more miles to you, and best of luck on your 40th Peachtree Road Race!

Reflections on Running: Jim Webster Interview Part 1

When I think about running, I think of going forward (fast) and what my future will be as I continue to train.  But one aspect of running that adds to its beauty is also to look backwards to see where we came from.  By “we” I mean a collective we, the running community, the coaches who formed our training methods of today, the first men and women to toe the line and ignite a passion in this country for the run.

This past fall, I was talking to a man at our neighborhood clubhouse about running and he casually mentioned that he ran the Boston Marathon in the early 1970s.  Wait, what?!  I am not as well read in the history of our sport as I would like to be, but I do know that if you ran Boston in the 70s, you were part of a very different culture of running.  If you were a runner in the early 1970s, you were competitive.  My neighbor, Jim, continued to talk about his connection with Blue Ribbon Sports, the company created by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, which would later become Nike.

I had to know more about Jim’s story, and he graciously agreed to an interview for this blog.  I sent Jim a list of questions, and he answered with the most thoughtful insights, anecdotes, and bits of history.  It’s even more interesting and enriching than I anticipated.  There is a lot of content, but I can’t bring myself to shorten my list of questions.  It’s just so good.  So get ready to have a new appreciation for the sport and enjoy these installments interviewing my friend, Jim Webster.

Now for the interview questions:

1. You mentioned earlier that you started competitive running at the age of 13. Can you tell me what brought you into the sport?

I had just turned 11 and my dad suggested that it was time for me to get a job. My memory [of being a paper boy] is that we’d start our careers with about 100 papers and load those folded papers into two heavy denim bags. I must mention that my paper was the morning edition of the Los Angeles Times and my day began at 4:30 in the morning.  […] Now consider, I and I alone, am now getting up every morning and riding 10-12 miles and practicing my throwing accuracy working for the Times.  I did this job for 7 years!!!  Yes, all the way through high school.

So, you probably see where I’m going with this.  My freshman year, I did not go out for football or basketball, because I knew it would be fruitless.  However, come spring, ignoring my friends going out for baseball, I chose to see what track was all about.  Nothing special came of my first season in track, but the next year, Pius decided to add a cross-country team.  Father Daley was to be the coach and, as it turned out, one of my first mentors. Walt Lange, the answer to the password question, “who was your best friend in high school?”, also went out for the team.  The workouts were, it seemed, merely lots of miles of running.  This combined with my morning workout of riding a bike for miles gave me an obvious advantage vis-à-vis my fellow runners.  I was good.  I don’t believe I was a top three guy, but the team did well and so did Walt & I. […]

There was an incredible consequence of my dad encouraging me, maybe telling me, to get this job or throwing papers.  It seems that the Los Angeles Times gave five full tuition scholarships each year to any college in the country that would accept them to those of us still throwing papers their senior year and whom had worked at least five years for the paper.  I was accepted at Notre Dame.

I became a Catholic League champion and record setting (1:58.4) half-miler.  Walt, Bill Petersen, Mike Cauldero and I were third in the country in the two-mile relay with a combined time of 8:06.3 in 1960. I ran at Notre Dame, coached cross-country and track at Pius after graduation, and formed a cross-country team in Pensacola while in the Navy that competed with many southern colleges including Alabama.  For the Atlanta Track Club, I competed and also became its treasurer and Peachtree Road Race Associate Race Director.  The club set the world record for the 100 man 100 mile relay for men over 50 with me running 5:56.8 at 56 years old in 1999, with the 100 of us averaging 5:57. I just finished my 60th year of running since that first 440 for Wally Nowicki [73 years old].  And none of that success would have come without my paper route workouts!

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2. When I first met you, you told me that you ran the Boston Marathon in the 70s. I’ve also heard that you clocked a very fast marathon time. Can you tell me a little more about that race and your results?

Jim: When talking of my marathon, ‘tis easier to say two things at once…I ran a 2:55 and the Boston Marathon.  In 1970, I ran the Palos Verdes, CA marathon in 2:55:01.  In April 1971, I actually ran the Boston Marathon in 3:12:06 and placed 376th.

So, now for the complete story.

There was no such thing as a “half marathon” back in the 70s; my longest race had been a 15 miler around Mission Bay in San Diego.  But, due to the successes of American runners, notably Frank Shorter, I decided that I should add a marathon to my resume.  I chose one close to home: the Palos Verdes (CA) Marathon.  It’s profile was interesting and beautiful.  The first 10 miles were uphill and I ran accompanied by three or four of the high school kids I was coaching at the time.  We chatted up the hills knowing not to push too hard in the beginning.  They finished the 10 and got a ride back to the start.  At that point the mountain ended and there was a long gorgeous downhill to the Pacific shore where Marineland used to be.  There was a good long flat run along the beach and we finished in Redondo Beach at the water’s edge.  I actually cried when I saw the finish.  My time was 2:55:01 and I was ecstatic, but totally wiped out and needed to tend my blistered and bloody feet.

Boston.  Some months later my job training for Merrill Lynch in 1971 was to be completed with a 3 month stint in New York City in the spring.  I decided to run Boston on Patriot’s Day while there.  There were no qualifying times required…you just had to be male.  Women were barred then, due to their fragile natures!  I drove to Boston, spent the night and we took a school bus from the Prudential Building the next morning to the start in Hopkinton.  I graduated from Notre Dame and chose to wear my ND jersey in the race for all the Boston Irish.  I was in much better shape than I was for the PV run.  So, my goal was to break 2:50.  Those three sentences proved to be my downfall.  But, I learned an important lesson.  The course profile, you may know, is the exact opposite of PV: downhill for the first 12 or so miles into Wellesley, then Heartbreak Hill somewhere near the 20 mile mark.  The ND singlet had many of the spectators encouraging me along the route and, unfortunately, I probably ran too fast because of that.  I have no clue as to my splits, but I’m guessing I hit the 1/2 in under 1:25.  By 18 miles I was toast and struggled to finish, including some walking (oh, the horror).  I actually thought about stopping and taking the MTA back to the Pru.  But after Heartbreak it leveled off and I was able to finish in 3:12:06.  I remember going up the elevator for my Brunswick stew (a tradition) and sitting in the back of the elevator vowing to never run another marathon…and I never did.

What did I learn?  Beware the course elevation profile.  My quads were dead when the hills appeared and I was unable to maintain my pace.  Once in Atlanta and running the Peachtree, with a downhill half and then an uphill half, I always ran the first part with someone slower than me that forced me to hold back.  In the “old days” when the course started at the Sears building on E. Paces and finished at Five Points it wasn’t as difficult for me.  Last year I ran with my wife for the first 3 and then was able to finish decently.  On the track and in most relatively flat courses I’ve always been a “negative split” runner: the first half slower than the last.  It is the way to get your best time, which has been proven by many runner’s experiences.

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3. What other races do you consider your top accomplishments? Do you have a favorite distance?

Jim: You already have the mile race, which was 4:14.6, and double in the half…my best races.  There are tables produced by the IAAF which assign points for the times and distances of all Olympic and other events.  I got the most points for that mile, second was a 3:03.4 3/4 mile time trial I ran in Athens a week or two before the mile race which awarded the second most points and the 880 the day of the mile was third on the table.  There were no tables for the marathon.  My best 5k came in 8th in the table with a 15:40; 10k 13th with a 34:42.  It is clear that I’m at my best in the middle distances from 800 to 2 mile (9:23.8).

On the other hand, those are merely my best times.  My best races, the most memorable, exciting ones I didn’t win.  At Notre Dame in my sophomore year in an indoor mile in the Fieldhouse built in 1906 or something, I passed a U of Pittsburg guy in the last 300 yards for 3rd with 1000 screaming students cheering me on.  My two ND teammates were way ahead winning in a boring fashion.  A similar race, a 2 mile at the end of the meet in Pensacola where I’d already won the mile and came in third in the half, I went from 5th to second in the last lap to almost catch the leader.  And one more in Kingsville, Texas, in a meet between Texas A&I and UT San Antonio, with me as a guest…again I came from way back in the last lap to almost catch the local favorite at the finish.  The fans loved it, especially because the home town guy, Homer Martinez won.   I’ll never forget those three races.

4. How has running changed for you as you’ve aged? Do you have tips for longevity in the sport?

Jim: This one is tough.  The obvious is that goals must change…no more PRs.  There is now concern about injury and the long term effect of the pounding required in workouts and races.  The sun is setting not rising.  On a run the other day, I made a decision, or set a goal, to curtail or even stop running when I’m 75 1/2…7/4/2018.  My last Peachtree, my 40th Peachtree.  Those thoughts never entered my mind in my 50s and even 60s.  One of the things that keeps me going is that my wife, Beth, runs, as well.  She’s 69 and looking to moving into a new age group next January and getting first or second rather than thirds.  We are about to go to Brook Run [Park] in the next few minutes to do a 3-4 miler, not together, but…together.  She started in ‘92 and got committed after we were married in 2000.  It is great to share things…like mixed doubles.  We only play together, for example.  This helps whether it is your spouse or a friend.

Age group awards, though trivial, actually do satisfy the testosterone led competitiveness.  On the other hand, I now look at running as a way of life and health. My parents both had heart issues and I’ve been running from my genes for years.  I truly believe that it has helped me live longer in addition to increasing the quality of my life.  Beth & I did a tough 7.2 mile hike at Black Mountain State Park last week-end, through beautiful fall forest with a spectacular view halfway at the mountain peak.  Were we not fit we could not have done it.  We did decide not to do any “strenuous” hikes anymore, but to move down to “moderate”.  It was a b@*^h!  We’ve hiked Yellowstone, the Andes, Denali and more.  ‘Tis a good life.  And being fit is the gateway to many things most people cannot experience at 60 or 70.

Longevity:   I believe the mechanics of our individual running form contribute to how long we can do it.  As I mentioned to you, I think, “Born to Run” had a clue as to why some can run longer than others. Think of the fluidity of some top runners; it looks so easy…and beautiful.  When I first started running in California as a freshman in high school, we had a track with a nice grass infield.  We often ran our workouts just inside track….barefoot.  For cross country we’d go to a park very close to the school and run miles around the park…barefoot.  During the summer, a track buddy and I would go to the beach and run along the water line in the sand…barefoot.  (Easily done on many California beaches.)  Even in college at Notre Dame the cross-country team practiced on the golf course and I ran…barefoot.  I believe that this helped my joints build strength around them that really prevented me from ever having an injury.  Sure, I have run on the roads and sidewalks in Atlanta for years, but the base was built in those early years.  I still run barefoot when I can.  And I think I’ve been lucky!

But, most people today do not have the luxury of that kind of start.  So, the main thing that I’d pass along is that if you wish for running to be part of your life for a long time, go easy and listen to your body.  There are many regimens out there today; local coaches, internet training programs, and training groups.  But you are unique.  Build strength slowly; let your body get used to this.  Find what feels good to you; it shouldn’t hurt.  For years I have been saying that what you do this year will be there to help you next year.  So, don’t expect or ask for immediate gratification and superior results.  Due to some heart issues, I am very “out of shape” right now.  I’m putting in miles now and running races as if they are workouts, not RACES.  I’m building a base.  I’m looking to next March, when I expect to be ready to run faster than I am this year or even last year.  And my age is on a downward slope, so improvement in 2017 vs. 2015 is a challenge, but one I believe I can accomplish by doing more in 2016 than I could do in 2015.  I think you must look beyond and make sure you’re ready for your goal race.  I was influenced by a New Zealand coach (not personally) Arthur Lydiard who espoused a philosophy of pointing to one race six months down the road.  Even his countries half-milers did marathon training in January to prepare for the Olympics in August.  When I coached, it seems I’d lose two or more dual meets in the season.  But, at the end of the season’s championship meet, we’d win going away.  We had less injuries and were focused on the goal.

This is the end of the first interview installment with Jim Webster.  To keep reading click here.