Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Interview Tuesday: Meet Tennessean, Masters Runner and 3 Time Unadied Vol State 500K Finisher Dallas Smith

Start of Flying Monkey Marathon (Photo by Jobie Williams)
I had not met Dallas but was told about him by another runner and he was gracious enough to do this interview.  In reading Dallas' responses, and also reading his book Bench of Despair, I am glad he did the interview.  Dallas is a 3 time Vol State Finisher, all unaided, with the last two making him the oldest unaided finisher.  Enjoy learning more about Dallas and let his story be as encouraging to you as it was to me.

Tell us a little about yourself not necessarily related to running: age, where born, education, area you live in, etc…..
I’m 78 years old. I was born and raised in the hard-scrabble, hillside country of Jackson County, Tennessee. Subsistence farming mostly. We grew about everything we ate: milk, eggs chickens, pork, vegetables. Some wild game and fish from the river. My mother canned beans, made hominy, made jelly and jam from wild blackberries we picked. We picked up hickory nuts and black walnuts in the fall. She dried apples. We lived in a different world then.

Went to a one-room school house that had eight grades and on a good day maybe twice that many students, taught by the same lady that had taught my daddy and mother. 

Got a BS and an MS in engineering at Tennessee Tech University. PhD at Virginia Tech in 1969. 

I worked as a bridge design engineer for State of Tennessee in Nashville. Professor at Virginia Tech one year and then moved to Tennessee Tech University, my alma mater, and stayed there for 29 years before leaving. Consulted in aerospace industry on aero-structural matters for US Army Missile Command, NASA, etc. Made some money. Spent it on motorcycles and airplanes.

I have three grown kids, a daughter and two sons. Four grandsons. One great grandson and one great granddaughter. 

I live in Cookeville Tennessee with my wife Jo Ann.

Run 4 Don 15k, a race he finished in 1:13:14

What is your profession?
Well, I run and write now. That doesn’t make me much money – it doesn’t need to - but it does make me a living of sorts. I guess you could call it retirement. But that word totally fails to describe my life. I don’t like to use it.

How did you start running and what prompted you to do so? 
I was a jogger for 17 years before I became a runner. Runners know that the difference in a jogger and a runner is an entry form – runners enter races. I didn’t do that, I didn’t associate with runners, I didn’t know there was a publication called Runner’s World. I was just a fitness jogger. I’d go out on my lunch hour and run six miles. It was a stress reliever. I had the idea it was good for me somehow.

But, I had the sneaky notion that I might be a decent runner if I ever tried. I used to work at manual labor in the field all day, day after day; that’s a kind of endurance. Finally, I don’t know, the curiosity to find out got to me. I signed up for a local 10k secretly – secretly in case I made a fool of myself. The race was produced by the ROTC Department of Tennessee Tech.

Well, I won my age group and I also won best master (which was over 50 there) and they allowed double-dipping, so I got both trophies, tall glass beer mugs.

But here’s the most incredible thing: I was a professor of engineering then. My favorite student and advisee turned out to be the Race Director! (His name is Phillip Messer. He’s probably a general now.) He was the student commander of the ROTC Battalion. As such, he was the RD. So it was Phillip who shook my hand and presented me my trophies. 

The university photographer snapped a picture of that presentation and the picture went into his files without my seeing it. My wife worked at the university then and knew her way around it pretty good. She secretly found the photo, had an enlargement made, matted and framed it and gave it to me as a gift. A big surprise! It hangs on the wall yet. Here it is: the engineering student shaking hands with his old professor. 

That was an amazing outcome.

How long have you been running?
Kim Boremam-Montgomery & Angie James W/ Dallas During 2017 Vol State

That first race was in 1998. I was 57. That was about 20 years ago. But as I said before, I’d been what you’d call a jogger for 17 years before that. Don’t know if you’d want to add those two numbers, but if you do, that would amount to 37 years. 

So that might be a measure of the wear and tear on my knees, etc. Truth is: I don’t think it’s wear and tear at all. My knees and other joints still work fine. I suspect running helps build strong joints, instead of destroying them. That ain’t likely a popular opinion.

Did you participate in any other sports over the years?
Fringe sports, individual sports mostly. I was good at archery and won local contests.

Motorcycle trials – I was terrible at that, but it was fun, and a friend and I traveled around local states in a pickup going to meets.

In college I lettered four years on the rifle team at Tennessee Tech, which was a varsity sport. My second year, I was the team MVP. I eventually rose to 2nd best collegiate shooter in the southeast, 16th in the nation. (After me, my old team won the NCAA National Championship three consecutive times, a remarkable feat).

Did you run in grade school, High School or College? 
Running wasn’t really a thing when I was in high school. I might’ve played basketball – the coach asked me to play. But the team practiced after school, so I would’ve had to stay after school. I had to catch the school bus. It was an hour and a half ride home, and I had to milk the cows and feed the livestock when I got there. So it was impractical for me to play. We’ll never know what kind of basketball player I might’ve been. 

But we can gain some idea of the kind of runner I might’ve been by the magic of age-grading. And my age-graded times place me among the best runners in the state. That’s an opportunity I missed – due to the time and place I was born. But that’s ok.

So we get an idea of where you have been with running can you share your PR’s for: 5K, 10K marathon and any other distance you may have run.
At "The Rock" at end of 2017 Vol State

I was maybe running my best in my mid-sixties. That may be surprising. Since I started in my late fifties, I suppose a training effect explains that. After my mid-sixties, my times took a set-back while I did Ironman races. The biking and swimming hurt my running.

But I’ll give you three times that come to mind, all at age 64:
  • Certified 5k (in July heat) of 19:06
  • Certified 15k in 1:00:41
  • Certified marathon (a hilly one in Nashville) of 3:12:42
I could go on and on with this. I’ve set 107 single-age state records in Tennessee, by my count. I typically compete in eight distinct distances so there are ample records to shoot for. I’ve run lots of other state-record times - times that didn’t count. Some were in other states, some were in Europe, some on courses that weren’t certified or certification had expired, etc. It is not a terribly high priority anymore.

I’ve run 100 marathons (or longer). Probably won my age group in the majority of those. (Some didn’t have age groups, some were casual training runs, some were social runs, etc. 

Have you run any races lately and do you have any races planned?
Most recent race was the RC Cola – Moon Pie 10-miler, (June 16, 2018) a hot and very hilly race. ( keep saying “hilly,” but I live in Tennessee where that is nearly always true.)

Anyway, my time for the 10 miles was 1:24:52. That’s been certified as a state record for a 77-year-old man. (I had a birthday just nine days later). That age grades to around 54:54, if you want to see that.

What is your most memorable race or races and share a little about at least one of them?
Gosh, I’ve run some 285 races. Each one was special in some way. It’s hard to pick, isn’t it?

When I first qualified for Boston was special. It was a marathon on a paved park trail in Anchorage, AK. I had just started running marathons and figured I’d qualify someday but didn’t really expect to there. And the trip was special. I usually travel alone. That fact alone heightens adventure. But, this time my oldest son traveled with me and he even got himself into shape to run the associated 5k, the only race he’s ever run to this day.

A few miles from the finish line I realized I had a shot if I could only maintain a pace I thought I could do, eight-minute-miles, if I recall. I made the BQ by 45 seconds. Afterwards I went staggering drunkenly across the park grass and goose droppings saying over and over, “I made it. I made it. I made it.” It’s a moment I’ll always remember.

Ever since then, 19 years ago, I’ve been perpetually Boston-qualified because I run several marathons each year, most at a BQ pace.

I’ve actually run Boston nine times. In three consecutive runs, I finished second, second and third in my age group, that last one on the day of the bombing. I’ve been unable to break thru to first. That has been a big disappointment.

I won my age group in the New York City Marathon, despite taking a bloody fall in Brooklyn.

I won my age group in the Chicago Marathon, on a hot day when leg cramps nearly shut me down on Michigan Ave. I had just enough slack left to finish it.

Won my age group in the Barcelona Marathon, which was special because of that city’s extraordinary architecture, character and so on. I was staying in Spain with a Spanish friend 40 years younger than me, and we drove from his house. The trip itself, his Madrid friends, the entire episode, was memorable.

What sort of training do you do?
2016 Flying Monkey Marathon

I do a lot of running, over 2,000 miles per year. Last year I ran 2,407 miles. I try – I emphasis “try” – to either run a race or do a track workout each week. 4 x 800m is my favorite, or 3 miles at threshold pace.

As a masters runner what changes have you made in your training as you have gotten older?
I was old when I started. I’m still doing the same stuff, just doing it slower.

What is your favorite distance to run and race?
I like that question.

Marathon is the distance I love. It’s the longest distance you can run fast. It’s not my best distance. Far from it. I always fail to run it as well as my training and other races tell me I should. It’s maddening. It’s like a goal I can never reach. So it has special intrigue and mystery about it. I never know what will happen.

My best distance is around 15k.  

Do you have any long-range plans?
Hahaha! When you are 78, long-range may not be very long. But, anyway, I don’t give a hoot. I make plans anyway. They may not work out. I’m realistic about that. 

I plan to keep going. I expect next year I’ll take a shot at the Vol State 500k again. I’ve finished it three times unaided. Last two times I became the oldest unaided runner to ever finish. 

Ha! I guess that’s a world record of some kind.

Another goal: Boston hasn’t seen the last of me. In the upper age groups, you have the best chance of winning if you are the youngest in the age group, speed is so age-dependent. So if I have to, I’ll still be running it at 80.

What do you struggle with most with regards to running?
During all of 2014 and part of 2015 had had a bout with an auto-immune disease called Graves Disease. It ruined my running speed, but I did keep running, just at a trudging pace.

Recently, I had a problem with eye drops intended for glaucoma. They were beta-blockers – which slow pulse and respiration rate, and so, also impede speed. After a few trials, I’ve finally found an alternative that does not hurt my running.

So, I guess the answer to your question is: I have to deal with ailments common to old age – either work thru them or work around them. But I’ve kept running.

I just read your book called Bench of Despair – can you share something about it and why you wrote it.?
I didn’t want to write it. It describes my experiences in the Vol State 500k the second time I ran it. My run collapsed and I had such a desperate struggle. It took a long time to recover, five weeks just to grow new soles on my feet. I wanted to forget. But it wouldn’t let me. Five months went by and it still gnawed. Then an editor asked me to write a story for a literary magazine. I thought maybe I can cut out a poignant part of that adventure – crossing the Cumberland Plateau – and write a short story. That didn’t work. I kept needing to explain something that had gone before. Everything was connected to something else. Finally, I gave up and just decided to begin at the start, the water’s edge, and write the whole thing. Once I rendered that decision, it went quickly and I finished the first draft in just over a month. You meet a lot of characters in reading it. Although, the book is nonfiction, it’s novelistic in style, using the techniques of fiction writers. 

I also saw you had two other books “Going Down Slow” and “Falling Forward” – can you share something about these and where you can purchase them?

They are adventure memoirs much like Bench Of Despair, only twice as long. Although each is based on my experiences in traveling to and running races, I try to focus on the adventure and not on the author. 

Each is available on Amazon.com (see links above) in either print or electronic form. Additionally, Falling Forward is available in paperback.

I think Going Down Slow is my favorite because of its wide variety of content and its literary tone. It’s more artful.

What do you see as a trend in running?
 Photo by Leanne Goodwin
The interest in super-ultra marathons, let’s say, races like the Vol State 500k, we’ve just been talking about. Or The Barkley Marathons, a race so hard hardly anyone ever finishes it. Or the Sri Chinmoy 3,100-mile challenge around a half-mile block in Queens, New York, a race that lasts 52 days and it’s taking place now, as we speak.

You don’t have to go to Broadway to see an absurdist play. These races are absurdist events. How long before someone has a race around the world? A marathon on Mars? But people take the challenge. That even includes me. At my age, doing crazy stuff. 

If you had one, well maybe two or three, things to say those that are running to encourage them what would it be?
Running is not for everyone. But it will help anyone who takes it up.

Don’t over- think it, don’t obsess over shoes. Buy whatever fits. Then wear it out.
Assume every approaching car is aiming to kill you. If it fails, you win.
Cross the street in the middle of the block – an intersection is the worse place to cross.

Do you have a website or other social media site you would like to share?
You can find me on Facebook and on Twitter 

My main blog is called Turnaround and a second one is Smithbend

Each blog is a depository of stories on a topic that interested me enough to write it and post it at the time. You could spend a lot of time exploring either, I reckon. What you’d call a race reports is scarce on both.

Any closing comments?
Failure. Failure is more interesting than succeeding. That’s where you find drama, heroic struggle and poignancy. I’ve never failed to finish a marathon, but I’ve failed on other projects. If you ain’t failing, you ain’t trying.

One example: 
My young Spanish friend and I tried to run across Spain on the historic trail called el Camino de Santiago, which runs from France to Santiago on Spain’s western shore, once the end of the world. We crossed the Pyrenees from St Jean, France to Pamplona, Spain in one day, the best single day of running I’ve ever done. Then a heat wave of historic proportions hit northern Spain, where we were. After a few days we failed on that great adventure – but not before we both nearly ended up in the hospital. How all that happened is a whole long story. The failure was abject. We aimed high. It remains the failure I’m most proud of.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Weekly RunDown #96

"Sustained motivation is essential to 
achieving your potential."
Grete Waitz

A busy week so a little less news - but maybe less is better - let me know.

Grete Waitz passed away in 2011 of cancer at 57

A look at the life of Grete Waitz 

This week's Interview Tuesday was with Joseph Fuller

It was fun to talk to the guys over at the Southeastern Trail Runners Podcast the other night and the podcast #73 just got posted

iRunFar.com's This Week in Running: July 9, 2018

Kilian breaks Billy Bland's record for the Bob Graham Round of 13:53 by running it in 12:52.  This not only shows how good Kilian is it shows how good Bland was.  Here is more on the run from the UK's Trail Running magazine

Check out Ian Corless' Talk Ultra podcast as he just released one with Kilian

Lilian's was not the only FKT as Emilie Forsburg ran an FKT on The Kungsleden Trail and Catra Corbett set an FKT on the Muir Ramble

Some thoughts on what to do, and not do, before a race

Always interesting when athletes, especially top level ones, change sports.  While Gwen Jorgensen is not making as much a transition when going from the triathlon to running there is a change in that she is looking to not just make the Olympic team for 2020 but win Gold

When is a shoe too much shoe - this may be it.

How do you train for mountain running, here are some ideas

The Last Vol State 500K (well last till the next one is run) started yesterday.  Here is an interview with Alan Abbs from 2013 on the race.  Also this coming Tuesday for Interview Tuesday I will be talking to Dallas Smith who has run it twice and wrote the book Bench of Despair about his second run at it when he was 75.

Maclaughlin and Gray win USATF Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain

Nice article on Laszlo Tabori by Jacqueline Hansen

Danny Abshire formerly of Newton has started a new line of shoes

The Hardrock 100 is next week and here is iRunFar.com's preview.  Check out the Hardrock twitter feed to see who is in and who is out - Jeff Browning who was on the waiting list is now in.

A look back at Walkathons and their impact on ultrarunning

Ever made a mistake running an ultra, if not you will and you can learn from others mistakes

Local, to Kentucky, Races and Events (In the future will also include races in nearby states)
(If you have a race in the area, including surrounding states, let me know and I will post about it)

If you are going to be in the Nancy Kentucky area July 21st, 2018 you might consider doing the Mud Mayhem & Fun Lake Cumberland 5K Obstacle Challenge.  The race proceeds go to help the local Phoenix Racing

Want an Ultra that is easy to plan for with an aid station every 3.25 miles then check out the Backyard Classic 8 Hour Endurance Run in Elizabethtown KY August 18, 2018.  Run Solo or on a 2-Person team.

Want to do a fun event and help the Wayne County Cross Country team and the Wayne County FCA at the same time then the 36th Annual Lake Cumberland 5Miler/5K and 1 Mile Fun Run is for you - September 1st, 2018

Also, check out the inaugural Falls 100 - also has a Half-Marathon, Marathon and 50 miler as well as the 100.

Want to run a great race then put the 2019 Yamacraw 50k (also a 20K and 10K ) on your schedule.  The race is April 6, 2019 and registration opens October 1st, 2018.  Either set your own reminder or have Ultrasignup send you one as I would not be surprised if this race does not sell out real fast as word is getting out about it.

Masters Running News
The 18th WMRA/WMA World Masters Mountain Running Championships were June 2 in Zelezniki, Slovina

Some thoughts on how to combat the effects aging as an older runner

Races this Coming Week
Vol State 500k, Dorena Landing, MO - July 12, 2018
Eiger Ultra Trail, Grindelwald,  Switzerland - July 14, 2018
Mt. Hood 50,  Clackamas, OR - July 14, 2018
Run the Peak (50k, Marathon & 1/2 Marathon),  Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, CA - July 14, 2108
Angle Creek 50, Fairbanks, AK - July 14, 2018
Timber and Trails 5K,  Wallingford, KY - July 14, 2018
Lakes Sky Ultra, Ambleside, UK - July 14, 2018
Scafell Sky Race, Ambleside, UK - July 15, 2018

Past Weekend Race Results
Sky Erciyes,  Kayseri, Turkey  - July 6-7, 2018
Freeman Lake Summer Trail Challenge, Elizabethtown, KY - July 7, 2018
Buckeye Trail 50K, Brecksville, OH - July 7, 2018
Golden Gate Trail Run, San Fransisco, CA - July 7, 2018
High Trail Vanoise, Val d’Isère, France - July 7, 2018
Silverheels 100 & Last Call 50, Fairplay, CO - July 7, 2018
Wild Women Trail Marathon, Relay and 50K, Trout Lake, WA - July 7, 2018
Faethon Olympus Marathon, Kokkinopilos, Greece - July 8, 2018
Loon Mountain Race, Lincoln, NH - July 8, 2018

2018 Loon Mountain Race

Ricky Lightfoot's run at Bob Graham in the winter

Kilian's breaking of Billy Bland's BGR record - be interesting what other videos will come out of the run

West Highland Way Race - 2018

A look at Cory Reese's Western States 100 - The Pain Cave

Lakes Sky Ultra 2016 - Official Film

Ultra Running W/Scott Jurek Part#3 - Here is Part #1 & Part #2

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Interview Tuesday: Meet Joseph Fuller of Florida

Ready for the Mohican 100
I have not met Joseph in person, yet, but we have had some conversations online and I appreciate that in his Twitter feed he often has info on our running past.  So, I thought for this week's interview it would be good to go a little farther south to Florida and learn more about Joseph - Enjoy

Tell us a little about yourself not necessarily related to running: age, where born, education, area you live in, etc…..
I was adopted from Chelyabinsk, Russia when I was 20 months old. My parents were informed prior to adopting me that I was placed into the orphanage following a six-month stay at a pediatric hospital receiving medical and treatment for my lungs and would continue to have issues with breathing for the remainder of my life.

Well, as irony would have it… using my lungs is crucial to running. So thankfully that never came into fruition. I started running when I was in junior high and that carried into high school and ultimately college where I ran for Saint Leo University.

What is your profession?
I am just now switching over from working for the Boy Scouts of America to the Youth and Family Alternatives – RAP House in New Port Richey, Florida. RAP stands for Runaway Alternatives Project, the RAP House is a runaway and youth crisis program for troubled youth. It serves children between the ages of 10 and 17. Short term shelter services are provided for youth who have run away from home. They may also be homeless, dealing with abuse, having school-related problems, or be youth in crisis for any other reason and need short-term respite care.

Outside of work I am on the Planning Committee for a few races that are vast in size. Thanks to Saint Leo University and meeting folks around the running world… I am on the committee for Tampa Bay’s Famous Gasparilla Distance Classic, the RAP River Run in New Port Richey, the SuperHero 5k in Safety Harbor, and a co-race director for the Rattlesnake Run in San Antonio, Florida. I also do social media management for a few other races. I love the running community and being a moving part in an event from 32,000 runners down to 200 runners are all of equal importance to me.
Getting some fuel at the Mohican 100

I also have a charity called the I Play Track Foundation. We take second hand shoes and distribute them out to kids who cannot afford a brand new pair. All of our shoes that we give out are lightly worn, nearly perfect or brand new.  We also collect and give out track and cross country spikes as well. A coach once told me that her athlete “ran a new personal best by 34 seconds!!” That right there is why I love to give back to the running community that built me up.

How did you start running and what prompted you to do so?
Honestly, I started running when I ran out of "fun" sports to do in junior high; sports like basketball, soccer, and baseball. I wasn’t very good at those sports, so I typically sat the bench. I will have everyone know, when I was in 8th… I did however have a 100% shooting average (one shot, I made one three right in the bucket). I was way too small for football.

So, I finally had to pick Cross Country my 8th grade year since it was the only sport I hadn’t tried. I didn't do too bad so kept training and here I am today.

Did you participate in any other sports over the years?
After 9/11, my dad was called into active duty. I was in kindergarten at the time and my sister was in preschool. That put a lot pressure on my mom, so she had me join Taekwondo. I did Taekwondo for many years up until just into high school. I think it is good to learn some form of martial arts, the mental aspect of it is something you can’t just learn in a classroom or a book.

There many Tenets of Taekwondo; the one that has stuck with throughout my career into running and business is the “indomitable spirit.” In short what that is, it is shown when a courageous person and his or her principles are pitted against overwhelming odds. Someone who shows the “indomitable spirit” at times will be modest and honest. If confronted with injustice, he or she will deal with the adversity without any fear or hesitation at all regardless of whosoever, whatsoever, and however many the number may be.

Where did you run in High School & College?
Running X-Country for St. Leo
Lehman Catholic High School in Sidney, Ohio & Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida - which is nestled between little San Antonio, Fl and Dade City, Fl.

What events did you run in High School & College and how was your experience?
In high school I ran cross country, the typical 5k race and I also ran track in the 1600 and 3200 meter race. I only went to the OHSAA State Cross Country race on two occasions (junior and senior year). My freshman and sophomore years were knocked out due to stress fractures.

Going from high school to college I think I have changed in the confidence in myself. I am much more confident in workouts and races than I ever was in high school. As I started in college, I've had my ups and downs... but the community aspect of running kept me driven.

Coming into college I was a little adjusted as I had already had two Half-Marathons under my belt and several 10k races. That was surely a confidence boosters coming in to racing the 8k during the cross country season, then the 10k come NCAA DII Regionals and to the NCAA DII Cross Country Nationals.

A tough part with running is after graduation what have you been doing running wise since graduation and what are your plans?
Thorlos has been a blessing since they have helped me get some of the most essential tools to running… Socks. I am honored for the company to help me out so early in my career and to trust in my abilities.

Staying true to the “cross country spirit,” which is my passion in running. I transitioned from Cross Country to the 50 Mile to 100 Mile Distance. In reality, my training really hasn’t changed much at all. I am still doing the Bob Schul style of training as he was taught using the Igloi Method of interval training.

Right now I am backing off the longer races and focusing on 50k and below into the Cross Country season. My schedule is very tentative, but I do know I have the plans to race the USATF 30 km Trail National Championships on July 28th at Pikes Peak.  After that in October I will likely be running the John Holmes Trail Run 50k, as well as, a few other trail and cross country races here in Florida and perhaps Ohio and South Carolina.
2018 US X-Country Championships

The goal here is to really get into shape for speed to do well at the USATF Marathon Trail National Championships on November 3rd that takes place in Moab, Utah.

After November I intend on packing on the mileage for the Croom Zoom 100k on January 6th and the Long Haul 100 Mile on January 19th. Both very close races. Then I again, drop the mileage and add more speed for the following USATF Cross Country National race in February over in Tallahassee.

I have noticed you have gotten into running Ultras – how has that been?  Did you run marathons first or just jump right into Ultras?
I jumped right into the ultra, for me, the marathon is “too far, too fast,” I really like the trails and being out in nature. That was a big draw for me in the trail and ultra-running community. Conservation and the principles of Leave No Trace are also things I am passionate about, this is also a big factor into the ultra-running community.

Training has gone great in my opinion, execution of races has been okay. There is a lot to learn inside of racing an ultra that you persay can’t train for.

So we get an idea of where you have been with running can you share your PR’s for: 5K, 10K marathon and any other distance you may have run in the past.
  • 5000m Road – 16:02, 2013 Tawawa Park Scholorship 5k Run
  • 5000m Track – 16:00, 2018 UT Track Classic
  • 8000m – 25:50, 2017 Queens Royal Challenge
  • 10000m – 32:34.9, 2015 NCAA D2 Cross County Nationals
  • Half-Marathon – 1:13:23, 2016 Thanksgiving Day Classic
  • 50 Mile – 7 Hours: 44 Minutes, 2018 Croom Fools Run

What is your most memorable race or races and share a little about at least one of them, more if you like?
I would say that it would have to be my first trip to the NCAA DII Cross Country National Championships in 2015. That was why I joined the men at Saint Leo University and a long-term goal coming into running. I would also have to add the 2018 USATF Cross Country Championships was a pretty fun race. Most recently I ran Mohican 100 Mile and came up short due to hyperextending my ankle… However, that was such a great experience.

Do you have a favorite workout you do?  What does a normal week of running look like?
Intervals is my workout of choice. This is influenced by Bob Schul who won the Olympic Gold medal in 5000m in 1964.  Schul’s way of training is something I believe can create champions if implemented correctly. I have been training under this style, intervals, for several years now using Schul’s training he learned under legendary Hungarian coach Mihaly Igloi and what you can take from it to apply to your running, specifically how to develop your speed.
Joseph and Bob Schul

I also follow a low heart rate based training from Roy Benson, Benson has been a consultant about heart rate training for both Polar and Nike and has written three books for runners on the subject.

Both styles can be explained more in detail on my WordPress blog under the “Training Philosophy” tab. If you hover the curser over it, the two options will drop down.

So, a typical week for me right now is three speed days on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays. Sundays I keep open for my longer runs. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are left open for either recovery running or a fresh to good pace run. This all depends on where my heart rate is at and how my body is feeling.

Interval Workout Example:
  • Mile warm up, Dynamic warm-ups
  • 10 X 100 meters (fresh) alternating 1 forward and 1 backward, with the last two forward
  • 12 X 200 meters (fresh, good build-up); 50-meter walk between each
  • 400-meter easy jog
  • 10 X 100 meters (fresh) alternating 2 forward and the 3rd backward. This helps revive pressure on the joints and muscles from running around the track.
  • 8 x 350 meters; Start by doing good build ups, by the last four will look at the heart rate and decide if the last four will be hard or backed down a bit.
  • 400-meter easy jog
  • 10 X 100 meters (fresh) alternating same as before.
  • 12 X 160 meters 1 fresh, 1 good guild up, 1 good; 40-meter walk between each
  • 10 X 100 meter shakeup (very easy, shaking the arms loose to relax the body
  • Total Mileage: Just under 9 miles on paper.
How about a favorite route you like to run?
I would have to say my two favorite locations to run would be the Croom Wildlife Management Area in the Withlacoochee State Forest and the Green Swamp Wildlife Management Area. Both places offer a wild variety of surfaces to run on and a vast variety of mileage of trials. I have easily racked up hundreds on hundreds of miles out there since I have been in Florida.

When I am back in Ohio, I am very partial to running miles around Tawawa Park. I grew up having daily high school practice in Tawawa and it is also where I ran many of my 5k races growing up.

What is your favorite distance to run and race?
So far still really enjoy the 8 and 10k Cross Country race, which is why I still have it planned to drop down to race those events for this current section of training. The Half-Marathon for me is also a fun distance to race, you need to have endurance as well as an incredible amount of speed. But, I am growing to love the 50 Mile into the 100 Mile. Trail running is such an incredible and supportive community. We all, for the most part, love to run and have a good beer afterwards.

What do you like best about living and running where you are now?  Are your plans to stay there?
I came down to Florida to run in college, and I love it down here. So it is likely I will remain in the Tampa Bay. Here in Pasco County, this area really is a trail running gem. Dade City is absolutely surrounded with great places to run and to get a good beer. In the San Antonio, Florida area theres a place called Ralphs which is a nice place to hang out and get a drink. In the neighboring Zephyrhills, Florida there is a place called Commandoughs which has outstanding pizza and great beer. It is also home to the Zephyrhills Brewing Company.

If you go west of Dade City; Green Swamp and the Richloam Wildlife Management Area are two of the preserves in the area that has a nearly unlimited availability of horse trails, dirt hiking trails and sandy dirt and gravel road miles. I started running in Green Swamp in college and have continued on to adventure the hundreds of miles of trails available today.

East of Dade City, you can towards Land O Lakes, that is where you can find the Connor Preserve and the Cypress Creek Flood Detention Area (Long Haul 100M Location). After you’re done running that way, you can head over to In the Loop Brewing or Ukulele Brand in Land O Lakes. Both are great places to drink and eat.

Then you can travel north up to Brooksville where the Croom Wildlife Management Area, that is where a lot of Ultra-Marathons are held. (Croom Zoom and the Croom Fools Run to name two). This is one of my personal favorite locations to run.

If you head into Tampa, about 35 to 40 minutes from Dade City, there is a place called Flatwoods. Flatwoods is a 11 Mile looped bike path that a lot of runners use. Water Stations are placed roughly every two miles in the loop which is nice to nice recovery long-run. This area also host many trails as well, I believe that is also referred to as the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve.

Where I work in New Port Richey, there is a place called the Starkey Wilderness Park. This place is also a great place to go for a run and be out on the trails. Now, New Port Richey is a great hot spot for local nano and micro-breweries. New Port Richey and the neighboring Trinity, Florida is home to the Cotee River Brewing Company, Big Storm Brewing, Escape Brewing, and Infusion Brewing.

Now, regardless of the area… within two hours of Dade City I can travel into Tampa, Clearwater, Dunedin, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Clermont, and into Orlando. All of which has incredible beaches and destinations from Fort DeSoto, Clearwater Beach, Busch Gardens, Disney Springs, the Lowry Zoo, and to easily hundreds of craft breweries and local shops. So I think I am going to stick to the area for a while.

What do you struggle with most with regards to running?
I don’t think it is more of struggle but, I find it also part of the fun… and that is trying to find what works. I think what does suck is that my first 50 miler and 100 miler both resulted with a DNF.  It is key to make sure that the thoughts of the DNF are not reflected the failings in my training or mentality, but as room to make improvements and refocus. There’s always a long laundry list of uncontrollable adversities, just there is always adversities I can control.

I think one thing is understanding what it means to DNF, especially in an ultra. A DNF or not reaching a certain time does not mean you failed. Just as in life, if you learn from the race and see the DNF as an opportunity to tweek certain details, trial and error certain aspects of running, and ultimately grow stronger, you have succeeded.

It is pretty key come race morning to be fairly confident in your ability to make decisions. It is an ultra, you will be on your feet for many hours at a time covering a vast amount of miles. So with that respect you will reach very, very low points throughout the hours running. But, with confidence also comes being smart about your strategy. When you think you’ve reached your limit, go just a little bit more.

So finding that balance is something tricky, but it is part of the fun.

If you had one, well maybe two or three, things to say those that are running to encourage them what would it be?
Well, definitely towards high schoolers who want to run college would be…
  1. Get good grades… Grades = Scholarship Money
  2. Don’t have a “D1 or no one” mentality. Find that college that fits you best and will allow you achieve your goals long term… not just a “I run D1.” There are many D2, D3, and even NAIA schools are better then many Division 1 programs. I travel to Florida from Ohio and went to the NCAA DII Cross Country National Championships three times and my university beat many division one programs.
  3. Find the University and Program that will connect you to the right people and will work to excel your career as a young professional. These what matters in the long-run.

Do you have a website or other social media site you would like to share?
If you’re reading this from Florida… if you use the code “RaceChat12” you can take 15% off your race entry into the 40th Annual Rattlesnake Run.

Who would you say has made the biggest impact in your running career?
Wow, now this is a tough question. I guess besides the consistent support of my family, team mates, and friends I would have to say a man named Mark Looney really sparked the first light my love for running. He was my coach when I was in 8th grade, even him himself was a two-time Buffalo Marathon Champion.

Bob Schul would be one of the people I owe my running too. This man has deeply inspired my running and life at so many levels. Without this man, I can surely say I wouldn't be as strong or mentally as I am today. I consider Coach Schul a father figure in my life. This man has deeply inspired my running and life at so many levels. Without this man, I can surely say I would be no where I am today. Being the only American who win a gold medal in the 5,000 at the Olympic Games (1964, Tokyo Olympic Games), his wisdom is something I have taken to heart...from the hundreds of repeats, fixing form, proper breathing, and tales from his youth, injuries, and the Olympic Games...even a strict scolding on how girls are a distraction to my running, this man has changed my career for the better. Every workout I feel I'm leaning something new!

Ya know, I would have to say under those top two tiers would have to be my other coaches such Kent Reiber and Connor Callahan from Saint Leo University, Rick Jones.. so much wisdom about life in general and just never giving up. Johnny Gray, Calvin Smith, Mel Pender, and Maurice Peoples. Even coaches from my high school days such Ann Vogel from West Liberty, Ryan Gutman from Botkins, and Coach Stewart from Anna. It was these people who really formed my mold into the runner and my character carry with me today.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Weekly RunDown #95

“I rarely ran more than 16 miles a day in training. But I did good, fast, quality miles.  You see, speed and stamina are yoked together.”
Jim Peters

Here are some article about Jim Peters as many probably do not know who he is:
This week's Interview Tuesday was with Matt Kitts, see how yet another person's life was affected positively by running

My first gear review on the blog is of 2 shorts, the "vert' and the "fully loaded" from rabbit

OK, not running related but the Tour de France starts tomorrow (July 7th).

Ok back to running stuff - Ian Corless' preview of the Sky Erciyes race that goes around Mt. Erciyes

iRunFar.com's This Week in Running: July 2, 2018

Do you know of Mote Bergman - well he ran the first sub 24hour 100 miler back in 1950

Australia's Gold Coast Marathon was this past weekend and Men's winning time was 2:09:49 with 2nd in 2:09:50 and 3rd in 2:09:52.  The women's race was not as close and was won in a CR of 2:24:49.  Also, Sarah Hall is still running well after her 3rd place 2:26:19 PB at Ottawa ran 1:09:27 to win the women's 1/2.  By the way Yuki Kawauchi ran yet another sub 2:20, 80th in his career, getting 9th in 2:14:51

rabbitELITETrail Racer Wess Judd writes about his lead up to San Diego 100 in Part 1, the Race in Part 2 and his gear in Part 3

We often know of the US High School runners who have broken 4:00 in the mine but here is a good article about the 7th North American (Canadian) boy to break 4:00

Some words of wisdom on running from women's WS100 winner Courtney Dauwalter

This week's Loon Mountain Race will act as the U.S. Mountain Running Championships, the North American Central American Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships, and the Collegiate Mountain Running Championships - List of Entrants

A look at the American runners that ran at the recent World Masters Mountain Running Championships

Having started running in Tucson Arizona 45+ years ago and having run many trails there this look at the last 40 years of the Tucson Trail Runs brought back many memories.

A look at the men's Mt. Marathon race won by Anchorage's David Norris.   The women's race was won by Jessica Yeaton, also of Anchorage

Don't count out Bernard Lagat, 43, when it comes to races as he became the oldest ever US 10K champion in wining the Peachtree 10K this past 4th of Jul and Stephanie Bruce, 34, won it for the women.

WS100 reports from Cory Reese & Stephanie Howe Violet

Be careful out there as heatstroke is a real danger: Runner Dies of Heatstroke.  I admit to running in the heat and humidity on purpose but I do this to acclimatize and adjust based on the heat.  But I have also done this for years and do not run as hard.  Also, people are different and how they deal with heat, even if they work to deal with it, can vary quite a bit

David Roche looks at positivity as a performance enhancer

Speaking of David Roche Shannon and Clinton of the Southeastern Trail Runner Podcast talk to David

Topo not only makes some great shoes they are also working to help in other areas of your running.  One of those is the ACU Running Program

If you have a coach, which can be a very good thing, it is still you that needs to race

If you have never heard of the Bob Graham Round, even if you have, here is the website for the run

Listen to Ian Sharman, 4th in this years WS100 and completing his 9th top 10 finish, on the Negative Splits Podcast #96

After watching the women's 1500m at Lausanne it hard to say any women has a better kick than Shelby Houlihan but need to see here run against Genzebe Dibaba in a fast race.  Never-the-less  it was great to see she has such a kick in a quick race and not just in a slow sit and kick race.

There is a Canadian documentary where they followed him in 2017/2018 as he tried again to complete the Barkley: Endless - In Pursuit of the Barkly

The Vol State 500K starts this coming Thursday (July 12, 2018) so I added this here since it will have started by the time Weekly RunDown #96 comes out.  I just started reading Dallas Smith's account of his run in the 2015 Vol State in his book Bench of Despair - good read so far.  By the way Dallas Smith will be doing an Interview Tuesday in the near future.

I want to give props to the following web pages where often I get info from or where we also end up with some of the same info, either way check them out: Ultrarunnerpodcast, iRunFar & LetsRun

Local, to Kentucky, Races and Events (In the future will also include races in nearby states)
(If you have a race in the area, including surrounding states, let me know and I will post about it)

July 7th in Elizabethtown, KY Running Soles will be hosting the Freeman Lake Summer Trail Challenge.  You can run a 10K or 5k and if really inspired run both

Here in the South-Central Kentucky area we have our own running camp if you are a JV or Varsity distance runner. Look at attending the 3 day KY Elite Distance Running Camp being help July 12-14 in Somerset KY.  This camp is put on by KY 2000 AA State Cross-Country Champion Daniel Roberts who I interviewed at the end of February.  The price for the camp is $50 but it increases after April 15, 2018 at 11:59pm EDT.   You can also get information at the KY Elite Running Facebook page

If you are closer to Bardstown Ky they are having a Community Running Camp as for grades 5-12 and it will be held July 10-13

If you are going to be in the Nancy Kentucky area July 21st, 2018 you might consider doing the Mud Mayhem & Fun Lake Cumberland 5K Obstacle Challenge.  The race proceeds go to help the local Phoenix Racing

Want an Ultra that is easy to plan for with an aid station every 3.25 miles then check out the Backyard Classic 8 Hour Endurance Run in Elizabethtown KY August 18, 2018.  Run Solo or on a 2-Person team.

Also, check out the inaugural Falls 100 - also has a Half-Marathon, Marathon and 50 miler as well as the 100.

Want to run a great race then put the 2019 Yamacraw 50k (also a 20K and 10K ) on your schedule.  The race is April 6, 2019 and registration opens October 1st, 2018.  Either set your own reminder or have Ultrasignup send you one as I would not be surprised if this race does not sell out real fast as word is getting out about it.

Masters Running News
Nick Bassett becomes the oldest finisher of the Western States 100

93 year old Lamar Perlis runs his 26th Peachtree 10K

Races this Coming Week
Sky Erciyes,  Kayseri, Turkey  - July 6-7, 2018
Freeman Lake Summer Trail Challenge, Elizabethtown, KY - July 7, 2018
Buckeye Trail 50K, Brecksville, OH - July 7, 2018
Golden Gate Trail Run, San Fransisco, CA - July 7, 2018
High Trail Vanoise, Val d’Isère, France - July 7, 2018
Silverheels 100 & Last Call 50, Fairplay, CO - July 7, 2018
Wild Women Trail Marathon, Relay and 50K, Trout Lake, WA - July 7, 2018
Faethon Olympus Marathon, Kokkinopilos, Greece - July 8, 2018
Loon Mountain Race, Lincoln, NH - July 8, 2018
Vol State 500k, Dorena Landing, MO - July 12, 2018

Past Weekend Race Results
Finger Lake Fifties,  Hector, NY - June 30, 2018
Gold Coast Marathon, Gold Coast, AUS - July 1, 2018
Buff Epic Trail 42k, Barruera, Spain - July 1, 2018
Marathon Du Mont-Blanc, Chamonix, France - July 1, 2018
Andorra Ultra Trail Races, Andorra Spain - July 3 - 8, 2018
Mt. Marathon, Seward, Alaska - July 4, 2018
Peachtree 10K, Atlanta, GA - July 4, 2018

Jim Peter's World Record of 2:17:39.4 in 1954

Jim Peters Collapse at the 1954 Commonwealth Games

Quite the finish to the 5K at Lausanne yesterday on July 5th, 2018

2018 Western States Highlight

Highlights of the 2018 Marathon du Mont-Blanc

Highlights of the KV Du Mont-Blanc 2018

Buff Epic Trail 2018 Highlights

Video of one persons run at the 2018 Broken Arrow Skyrace

Ultra Running W/Scott Jurek Part#2 - Here is Part #1

If you have not seen Where Dreams Go to Die about Gary Robbins and The Barkley Marathon - it is now free on YouTube - You can also see a Canadian video called Endless - In Pursuit of the Barkley

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Gear Review: rabbit Men’s Vert and Fully loaded Shorts

This will be my first gear review so bear with me as I want to make this as short, no pun intended, as possible but still give you enough info to help you decide if you want to try this product.  To that end while the from may change, till I get it figured out, I am going to use a standard layout to look at products.  Let me also add that the shorts reviewed here were purchased by me and were not given to me for the purpose of a review.  So here we go:

For this first review I tried two different styles of rabbit, yes the “r” is lower case as are the first letter of the products they sell, shorts one in a 5” inseam, the verts, and the other in a 7” inseam, the fully loaded.  I have looked for different shorts since Nike no longer makes the Wild Horse 7” shorts which were great as they had lots of pockets and fit me well.

Company: rabbit
Rabbit is a new company in Santa Barbara CA that has it's products made 100 miles away in Los Angeles.  Rabbit is a company started by Jill Deering and Monica DeVreese. Monica has co-owned Santa Barbara Running, a small specialty run store, with her husband since 2003.  You can read about their story here.

Product Name:  verts

Description (from site):
  • Combination of 94% poly/ 6% spandex

  • Super lightweight materials to wick away moisture

  • Incredibly quick drying

  • Flat waistband with internal drawstring for maximum comfort

  • rabbitMESH brief liner that is scratch and chafe-free

  • 2 side "trash" pockets

  • 2 back pockets with a hook and loop closure

  • 1 internal pocket

  • 5" inseam (all sizes)
  • Crafted in California
Back pockets with velcro closures
This is a tough one for me as with a 32-33” waist I was right in the middle between sizes and as my legs are not skinny it can make fitting shorts interesting. So, I ordered both a medium and a large and ended up going with the large as while both fit the medium was a little snug for me and the legs rode up and thus the large was a better fit.  That said another person may like the medium. 

Quality of Product:
The shorts appear to be very well  made and after a few runs and washing I see no unraveling or other signs of wear.  Of course the true test is 6 months away but they look to be of good quality.

As I mentioned above my favorite short is the 7” Nike Wild Horse as they have lots of pockets and thus I looked for a short from rabbit that had more than the usual 1 or two pockets and thus went with the verts.   These shorts come with 4 external pockets, with two of them having Velcro closures (at back), along with one internal pocket in the back.  I was able to get my Galaxy 7 in the rear pocket if turned sides ways, see below for thoughts on this.  These shorts only come in the 5” length which if you are like me and have used 7” ones for quite a while end up showing an interesting tan line - at least till things even out.

The fabric is comfortable and stretches enough not too bind and as of today no chafing.  Also found that while it was hot out, and really humid there were no issues with the shorts getting overly soaked as was an issue with the Wild Horse shorts.  I do need to do a longer run to see if this is the case after 2+ hours. They also have a vented panel in the crotch area that moves the seams out and provides ventilation.  The waistband is flat to reduce binding and comes with an internal draw string.  As I often wear a waist belt to carry my phone and other items, usually along with what is in the pockets, the flat waist band works great.

Overall Impressions:
I will for sure look to be wearing these shorts more often as they are comfortable and I like to support small companies trying to make a difference.  One thing I would have liked would be at least one side zippered pocket.  Also I would have liked the back Velcro pockets to have been higher up.  I realize they were where they are as they fit the seams and panels of the shorts.  But being lower they do seem to feel different when loaded up.  However, I did get used to it but would have liked it higher up as the more you put in them the more they feel like they sagged.  Also would have been nice to have at least one of the pockets in the back to have a zipper to be, or at least feel, more secure.

As far as carrying a phone for me it felt weird as it is sort of low and having to go in sideways looked strange to me.  I should add I am not one who carries his phone in his shorts as it just usually feels like it is pulling them down and bounces around a lot, so also wondered how the Velcro would hold up with it bouncing around.  Again, a pocket higher up with a zipper may have helped

Bottom line is I would say you need to give these shorts a try if you like 5” shorts and like pockets in your shorts.  They also sell the quadzilla if you do not need all the pockets or want the wider waistband, iRunFar did a review of these here.  If you want a longer short you can check the following review of the 7” fully loaded shorts

fully loaded
Product Name:  fully loaded

Description (from site):
  • Combination of 89% poly/ 11% spandex

  • Super lightweight materials to wick away moisture

  • Incredibly quick drying

  • Elastic waistband with internal drawstring

  • rabbitMESH brief liner that is scratch and chafe-free

  • Rear zip pocket & front internal key pocket

  • Four way stretch woven fabric with slight side split

  • 7” inseam (all sizes)

  • Crafted in California
The sizing for these shorts was as with the verts above.  Being the shorts were longer the more snug mediums, at least on me, rode up much more than I like so again the large fit me much better.  The fit all comes down to how you like your shorts to fit.

Rear zippered pocket
Quality of Product:
Same quality, very good, as the verts above

There shorts have fewer pockets than the 5” verts above with one zippered pocket in the back and an inside pocket, also in the back.  I was able to get a Galaxy 7 in the zippered pocket going in straight up and down, it was tight, but then would have little room for anything else  The material was slightly different than the verts but felt very much the same and still felt just as good.  They were also fine in the hot and humid conditions I wore them in recently.

Overall Impressions:
While I still need to decide if I like the 5” verts or 7” fully loaded shorts better they will both be ones I use.  I would have liked more pockets in the fully loaded shorts with at least two in the back and possibly two in the front.  That said the lack of pockets is not a deal breaker but as I do not presently wear a hydration vest it would be nice to have the extra storage in the shorts for longer runs

As mentioned above I am not one to carry a phone in my shorts but I could in these if I needed to as it is higher up and while I did feel it bounce I could get by on shorter runs.  But, again as I mentioned above you then have only the small inner pocket to use.

As with the verts above I say give them a try and help support a US company selling US manufactured product.   Check out their site for other shorts and clothing they sell: rabbit

With regards to my returns, you will have to pay the return shipping but rabbit did credit my account very quickly after receipt of the returned shorts, which is very much appreciated.

If you would like to try rabbit gear for yourself you can use this link and get 10% off,  to be upfront I will also get a credit but hey you still get 10%.  Use this link to order - expires July 22, 2018 and is for first time orders over $10  on full priced items.

#rabbitgear  #runinrabbit

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Interview Tuesday: Meet Kentucky and Masters Runner Matt Kitts

This week I interview Matt Kitts who has been running for 3 years, if you do not count his time running in the USMC.  I always like to see how people get into running and how much having a good running community around them helps, not just in your running, and Matt shows this in his interview.  I have met Matt a few times at races but as always it is great to learn more about those in the running community so enjoy know more about Matt.

Tell us a little about yourself not necessarily related to running: age, where born, education, area you live in, etc….. 
I’m 42 and the proud father of 3 wonderful daughters, Alicia, Madison, Morgan and one granddaughter Arabella. I was born in Covington, Ky.  I served in the United States Marine Corps for 8 Years and I bleed RED WHITE and BLUE!  While in the USMC I served as an electronic tech on EA6B Prowlers and this lead to my current career as a Controls Engineer.  A devastating injury to my left knee, torn ACL, MCL, and Lateral Meniscus, lead to me leaving the USMC.  I am an active member of TEAM RWB and have a passion for helping our veterans!

What is your profession?
After countless schooling in the USMC to become an electronic tech, long days at ECTC and UofL, I have a degree in Electrical Engineering.  I am a Controls Engineer with a local company hear in Elizabethtown, Metalsa. 

How did you start running and what prompted you to do so? 
How did I start running, well now that’s a story.  As you can imaging I ran a lot in the USMC, 3-5 miles 4 to 5 times a week.  However, it was not as enjoyable as it is today.  After a few surgeries and a cadaver ACL to “FIX” my knee injury, I was told that walking would be a long and painful road and I would never run again.  So, I didn’t for 14+years after getting out of the USMC and I got FAT(289LBS)! It was almost 3 years ago that I was going through a divorce and ended up in a dark place and a GREAT FRIEND called me one Saturday morning at 6:30am and asked me what I was doing.  I told her I has feeding my face (pizza and a 32oz Coke).  She then asked me if I could meet her in Bardstown at 8am that she was running a 5K, “Another Freaking 5K” I said sure why not, after all she was a great friend.  WELL………when I get to Bardstown I was informed that I was running it with her.  I somehow finished that first 5K (1:00:09).    It wasn’t too much longer after that race that I found myself in this shoe store on Ring Road and this crazy guy, Will Rivera, wanted me to come to one of his group runs, so I did and that is where I met what I now call my RUNNING SOLE FAMILY.  It wasn’t till later that year when I was asked to be a driver for my friends Bourbon Chase Team, “The Bourbon Bells”.  It was an amazing time and I was hooked, I had to have this in my life.  It was hard at first and still is due to my knee but it is so worth getting out there and running!  I owe a special thanks to my friend Christie Royalty-Orr for making me run that first 5K!  She and I have been team mates on a few different teams and let me tell you she makes it a blast!

How long have you been running?
Less than 3 years outside of the USMC

Did you participate in any other sports over the years?
Football, baseball, church softball 

Did you run in grade school, High School or College? 

So, we get an idea of where you have been with running can you share your PR’s:
  • 5K – 00:37:00, but my first at 1:00:09 will be what I remember
  • 10K- 1:39:00
  • 13.1- 2:59:17
  • MCM- 6:47:12 just under that time limit to be an official finisher 
  • TRI Louisville-1:46:01 15th in my division Clydesdale

What is your most memorable race or races and share a little about at least one of them?
The MCM (Marine Corps Marathon) changed me! 33,000 runners and countless spectators.  The longest run I had done prior to the MCM was 14.5 miles, that means I had 11.7 miles of unknown!  At mile 18ish I had a massive blister pop on my right foot and was about to give in!  I started limping and trying to justify quitting and then it happened…. from out of nowhere a guy with the same team shirt, RWB, said as he passed me “keep moving, don’t stop, you can finish, you can do it EAGLE!”  as I looked at the back of his shirt I realized he was running on not 1 but 2 prostatic legs!  In my head I said, “He is missing half of his body and isn’t quitting, what’s my excuse, Fat and Lazy” That’s all it took, I started running again and walking when I had to but I did not give up and I will never just give up!  Thank you to that unknown EAGLE!

Do you have a favorite workout you do?
REST DAY!  I would say any group workouts rather it be running, biking, or swimming.  I find that I pick a group that is much better than I am and do my best to stay with them.  After all steel sharpens steel! 

How about a favorite route you like to run?
I would say any of my runs that take me downtown Elizabethtown or any of the trails

What is your favorite distance to run and race?

I don’t know that I have a favorite distance and I say that because less than a year after starting to “RUN” I got this bright ideal that I was going to run the Marine Corps Marathon.  I have always been the type to “go big or go home” so when I was told that the MCM was not my best ideal that I should run several smaller races first and to ease into the longer distance I registered for and I finished the 2017 MCM!  I have been part of a few big races and runs, Ragnar (3), Bourbon Chase, MCM, several 13.1, and although I didn’t run it, the “FAT ASS” was a lot of FUN!  In the spirit of go big or go home I have gotten into triathlons, I ran my first TRI just a few weeks ago in Louisville, and I plan to do my first 70.3 Ironman later this year if my coach thinks I’m ready.  Now for my brightest ideal to date…. I plan to run the 2019 Louisville Ironman! 

Do you have any long-range plans?
The rest of this year and next year is training for the 2019 Louisville Ironman!
I also plan to do a 100-mile race, I will be seeking advice from Will Rivera
Marine Corps Marathon 2018

On September 8, 2018 I will be riding my first 100 miles in the Bike to Beat Cancer Ride.  I’m doing this ride for my best friend that has been diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.  I would like to invite EVERYONE to come to the Starting line to see all the riders off, stage along the route, and at the finish line.  We will need the encouragement along the way!

What do you like best about living and running in KY?
The People!  I have never had any bad experiences with the running community.  Around Elizabethtown, we have several athletes that I would call elite, and they have always had positive and encouraging word for me.

What do you struggle with most with regards to running?
Knee pain!  But I have a great coach that has helped me develop it, and encourages me to listen to my body.  My diet has been a big part of all this.  I started out at almost 300lbs and now down to 239 with a goal of 200.

What do you see as a trend in running?
Ultras, but I’m not a good judge, after all I just started!

I now you run with the Running Soles group, can you share a little about how running with a group helps you.
The RSN is AMAZING! What else must be said.  Unfortunately, I don’t get to run with them as much as I would like due to my work schedule, but every time I do run with them I grow as a runner and a person.  The support of this group is amazing, we are a family!  Will has given me some great advice, and is always willing to help not only great runners but that person just wanting to come out and walk some.  I would say that thing that I like about the RSN the most is the celebration of achievements of others!

You had mentioned that running has helped you with your relationship with God and helped create friendships – can you share a little on this
This goes back to my dark days while going through my divorce.  It seemed everything was turned upside down and I had no ideal which way was up.   I began talking with Shawn Edwards, my pastor and friend.  He encouraged me to listen to God!  So, I tried the best I knew at the time and this lead me to becoming saved.   Let me give you a side note, I used to run with music but my coach had me stop this due to rules of some races.  Now on my runs with no music I began talking with God and trying to figure out all the whys, and how’s as to what was going on in my life.  I don’t know when or where it happened but one day I didn’t say a word and just ran and opened my mind and heart up to God and Things just started getting better.  I realized that the only thing I could do was try to live a life that God would be proud of.  I stopped looking for someone to blame and in-turn started trying to better myself.  From that moment on life was GREAT, I didn’t say it was easy, I didn’t say it was fair, I didn’t say I never had bad days, but now I have someone to give those things to and let God deal with them.  

Make sure to read the interview to understand the sign
My relationship with my daughters has improved 1000-fold!  They have just recently started coming to some of my races to support me. At my first Tri as I was entering my last loop on the bike as I was rounding one of the turns off to the right and to my surprise was my daughters and granddaughter standing their cheering.  I hit my brakes and almost stopped to hug them, but then I realized I had a race to finish.  With about ¾ of a mile left on the run as I was turning for the home stretch there they were again.  Morgan ran with me for about 150 yards and then said “See you at the finish line Fat Man”  To some they may get upset about that, but I hear it and I know just where it came from.  It’s not unusual for them to find me out on a training run or bike ride and honk and shout at me then speed off , and then I find a bottle of cold water or PowerAde sitting in my path from them.  Alicia will be doing her first 5K on July 7th at Freeman Lake Trail Race.  I will be doing the double down challenge.  I will run the 10K first and then no matter how long it takes I will finish with her on the 5K.   This all came from our trip to Memphis, TN where I ran the Nautical 10 Miller.  She said “Dad it looks like you had a great time, I’ll do the 5k in July if you will do it with me.”

Also, I’m now able to call my Ex-wife Janelle my friend, and to this day from time to time we, Janelle and her boyfriend, and the Girls all get together and have dinner and life is good. 

I have been given some thought to leading the bible study “RUN FOR GOD.”  Run for God's 5K Challenge is a 12-week Bible study program that allows runners to combine faith and endurance training in a way that helps take people, even those who have never run, through their first 5K.  I looked at this class about a year ago and didn’t give it much thought, but just when I think I have gotten off the hook of maybe leading a class, somehow, I get tons of emails, some form of information about the class in the mail.  I think I’m afraid to lead it not because of the running, but fear of not being a good teacher, and not knowing the bible as well as I should.

If you had one, well maybe two or three, things to say those that are running to encourage them what would it be?
Don’t give up!  The hard part was getting off the couch!  Come to group runs and I guarantee their will be someone that will welcome you and encourage you along the way!   BELIVE IN YOURSELF!!!!

Do you have a website or other social media site you would like to share?
Please go to "Bike to Beat Cancer" and please search my name and consider donating to this ride please.  I along with 1000’s of people touched by cancer Thank You

If you would like to get involved with Team RWB or just have questions about what we do please go to  - www.teamrwb.org

Any closing comments?
I wish I could thank everyone that has helped me alone the way but I’m sure there is a limit to how much can be published LOL!   But here are a few:

Christie Royalty-Orr, Will Rivera, Shawn Edwards, Elliot Mattingly, TEAM RWB, Barry Stokes, Mike Jotautas, and most of all my 3 daughters Alicia Kitts, Madison Kitts, Morgan Kitts, and the world’s best granddaughter Arabella Kitts