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COVER PHOTO BY SARA ALEPIN/PHOTOS FROM THE HARTY

Why did Doug Hecox cross the road?

2 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014

LETTERS / CONTRIBUTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OFF THE BEATEN PATH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MILITARY RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . GEORGE BANKER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NO MONEY, NO MATTER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IT’S LIKE LACTIC ACID ON YOUR WEDDING DAY. THE OPRAH LINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . UPCOMING RACES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WHAT’S UP WITH TRACKS IN THIS CITY. . . . . . . . . MASTERS OF THEIR FINISH LINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A LAUGH A MILE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TECH MANIACS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . RECOVERY AND BEYOND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . THE NAME YOU’D LOVE TO RACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CELEBRATE RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2014 Err on the side of caution when you run.

PUblisheR Kathy Dalby RunWashington Media LLC

RUNWASHINGTON Photo by sARA AlePiN/ PHOTOS FROM THE HARTy

editoR iN Chief Charlie Ban charlie@runwashington.com seNioR editoR Dickson Mercer dickson@runwashington.com CReAtiVe / PRodUCtioN AZER CREATIVE www.azercreative.com sAles diReCtoR Denise Farley denise@runwashington.com 703-855-8145 CUstomeR seRViCe office@runwashington.com bRANdiNg ORANGEHAT LLC The entire contents of RunWashington are copyright ©2014 by RunWashington Media, LLC. All rights reserved, and may not be reproduced in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written permission of the publisher. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, results, or other materials are welcome but are not returnable and are preferred via electronic communication to charlie@ runwashington.com. Please inform yourself of applicable copyright and privacy laws before submitting for publication; if we decide to publish your submitted material we conduct no such checks and you alone will ultimately be responsible for any violations of any laws including infringement and copyright. Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher, advertiser, or sponsors. Back issues are available for $5.00 for each copy to cover postage and handling. RunWashington is published six times yearly by RunWashington Media LLC, 4544 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Complimentary copies are mailed to subscribers, area businesses and events. Be advised that running is a strenuous sport and you should seek the guidance of a medical professional before beginning an exercise regimen.

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It’s taper time. Some of you have been doing it already if you’re running Marine Corps, just a few days away as this issue hits the streets. For the healthy and ready runner, there’s nothing quite like November, when you can’t tell whether it’s the temperature or excitement that gives you chills. We’ve assembled a great collection of stories about Marine Corps Marathon runners. Some are running for the first time. Others, like George Banker (page 12), have climbed that last hill to Iwo Jima 29 times. We have a few historical looks at the People’s Marathon, from Dan DiFonzo’s look at passing Oprah when he ran his first marathon in 1994 (page 20) to Carl Rundell’s drive to compete for the title four times in a row (page 16). Senior Editor Dickson Mercer revisits our continuing series of articles looking at local race directors and their crews (page 30). In the last two years, we’ve examined the security apparatus in place for many big races, the efforts that race committees make when memorializing someone and the threat that the federal government shutdown posed to races held on National Parks Service land. In this issue, we look at some of the decisions race directors have made over the course of their races’ lifetimes and times they’ve been tested. We also have a story that fits one of my favorite themes—how running makes a difference for someone. Local runner Doug Hecox uses running to help him come up with the jokes he delivers all over the country (page 34). Coaching and support has helped dozens of cancer patients begin or resume athletic pursuits when they are searching for strength (page 41). And this dude Johnny Page (page 45), well, his name is enough that I knew we had to write about him. Then he went and became a contender for a Virginia high school cross country championship… November is also National Running Safety Month, and with darkness encroaching on most of the time most people aren’t stuck in the office, follow my lead (above) and wear some bright clothing, limit your running music to the song you can’t get out of your head (Steely Dan’s “Josie” and the theme from the Magnificent Seven, for me) and seek out some running partners if you wind up running in the dark. See you out there, hopefully wearing bright colors, Charlie NOVEMER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 3


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it getS hiM going Dear Charlie, almost immediately, i feel inspired about running when i spot a new edition of runWashington Magazine in pacers running Store on p Street nW in Washington, D.C. i’ll open the publication and read tips on how to improve my speed through high intensity interval training — a necessary task i’m not too excited about — or guidance for healing plantar fasciitis, an ailment i’ve struggled with over the past two years. it’s almost gone now. i’ll read inspirational stories about runners who are training for the olympic games. i’ll see eye-catching ads for local races or a half marathon a few hours away. i’ll think about joining them. i’ll read about new trails, like in rock Creek park, a place i know well. Most importantly, the calendar of local races awaits me. i’ll mull 5ks, 8ks, 10ks, and half and full marathons. i know i need to look at that list because i haven’t done a race in a while. races motivate me to run faster and keep me from settling into a comfortable pace. the feeling of inspiration i get when i page through this magazine is significant to me. i’ve jogged or ran periodically most of my life, but since 2010 i’ve stuck with it. i am proud of my running, and i want to maintain it for as long as i can. it’s a big part of my life, like meditation, yoga, and boot camp. When i don’t do it, i don’t feel right. My mood will change, i’ll put on weight, or my energy drops. running is one of the activities that replaced my old bad habits of drinking and smoking, so it’s crucial i draw inspiration to remain committed to it. runWashington helps meet that need. there’s more. i have been a reporter, writer, or editor for more than 17 years. i reflect fondly on the days i worked as a city beat and general assignment reporter. My experience in journalism naturally led me to appreciate good reporting. runWashington’s articles are superbly written, and the graphics, photos and layout are excellent. i am impressed with this publication, and i sometimes muse about why, or how, it is free of charge. i mean, there’s even a digital version that allows you to turn pages with the click of a mouse! i consider this magazine an anomaly in a declining industry. i may be naïve, but it gives me hope for all publications and my desire to return to newspaper reporting. Sincerely, David Sheeley Washington, D.C. Keep it going, David! – Charlie Ban

our niChe i truly enjoy reading every issue of runWashington, and particularly learning more about local runners and their accomplishments. it’s inspiring on a level which larger publications like runner’s World and running times cannot compete. We reside in a great metropolitan area, where on any given weekend, you can run the local trails among hundreds of other runners, and almost feel as if a race is underway. it’s awesome to see so many folks enjoying running, and i love that runWashington celebrates that. if i could provide any constructive criticism, i would like to read more features about the “amateur” runners in our area - in other words, those who aren’t breaking course records or competing at an elite level. there are so many amazing stories out there, and as someone who races most weekends, i’m constantly inspired! Jenn Pellegrino Arlington, Va. We’ll keep celebrating that, and continue focusing on the amateur runners that make up the local running community. – Charlie Ban

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CONTRIBUTORS

CORRECTIONS

If you like the photographs you see in RunWashington, consider hiring one of the photographers we use: Sara alepin / Photos from the Harty (Cover, George Banker, Doug Hecox) www.photosfromtheharty.com MeliSSa Dorn / Lissa Ryan Photography (Cancer to 5k, Tech Addicts, Military Running) www.lissaryanphotography.com DuStin WhitloW / D.Whit Photography (Upcoming Races) www.dwhitphoto.com/

runWashington regrets the following misspellings or misidentifications on pages 16 and 17 of the September/October 2014 edition: The Georgetown Day School Toppers, Katriane Kirsch, Julia Reicin, Matt Frame, John Ausema, Sara Freix and Anteneh Girma

4 | runWASHINGTON | runWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014


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The First Battle of Bull Run, known as First Manassas to the Confederate Army — because the South preferred to name engagements after nearby towns, not rivers, streams or creeks — was the first major battle of the American Civil War. In fact, the United States Army, it was assumed, would squash the Rebel rabble quickly and mercifully before the Southern insurrection got out of hand. Unfortunately for the Union Troops, history proved otherwise. On the warm morning of July 21, 1861, the two huge armies collided in the fields of Manassas and, for the greater part of that day, they swung back and forth at each other with gusto. Some of Washington’s more privileged families even turned out to picnic and watch what they assumed would be the rout of the Rebel forces. However, by the end of the day, the Yankees were in full retreat back to the District. The North’s exodus was further complicated when the local roads became congested with the picnickers who had come in from the capital. When the dust settled, Bull Run was the bloodiest battle in American history at that time. Fourteen months later, the Blue and the Gray duked it out once again at Manassas. And, once again, the South emerged victorious. Today, Manassas National Battlefield Park has 5,000 acres of rolling fields and forests. Trails of all shapes and sizes connect history lovers to the various plaques and statues that pepper these two battlefields. As a result, this network of pathways makes Manassas Battlefield arguably one of the best places to run in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Although, it’s a pleasant place to run throughout the year, it’s perhaps best appreciated in the fall, when the leaves are turning, the air begins to feel cool and cross country might be on your mind. There are plenty of trails that meander through these hallowed grounds, but the following 5.5-mile loop gives a good flavor of what the park has to offer. Horses (and their riders) share some of the trails at the park and it’s advised to give them ample space. In fact, always ask a rider if it’s okay to pass before attempting to do so. Park at the Henry Hill Visitor Center (approximately 20-miles southwest of the Capital Beltway) located off Sudley Road. The building, which opens daily at 8:30am, has bathrooms and a water fountain outside. Once your shoes are laced, begin your run by heading northeast towards the giant equestrian statue of Stonewall Jackson — you can’t miss it! Just yards away, during First Manassas, Confederate General Bernard Bee reportedly gave the southern icon his famous nickname after allegedly watching Jackson and his men standing firm, like a “stone wall,”

6 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014

against a Union advance. From here, hook a right and follow the First Manassas Trail towards the woods. This is the path you will follow for the entire run. It’s relatively shaded and the thick forest provides good cover for deer, turkey and fox. In a half mile the trail comes to a “T.” Make a left, run downhill and then use a footbridge to cross a small creek. Approximately one mile into your run, you will emerge into an open field. Continue to follow the trail across Route 29 (Lee Highway), but look both ways before you cross, because motorists aren’t often expecting runners here. Pass through a barrier and ascend the hill. Once you’ve reached the top of the hill, hook a sharp right, near the Van Pelt House Site marker, descend and follow signs, and a boardwalk, to the Stone Bridge, which spans Bull Run. The original bridge was destroyed during the First Battle of Manassas, but this replacement has become one of the most iconic locations in the park to visit and it’s often frequented by photographers snapping engagement pictures. Don’t cross the bridge. Instead, turn left and follow the trail alongside Bull Run. Eventually, you’ll hit a hill. Surge up it and emerge, at mile 2.5, into yet another open field. Follow the trail across the field until you reach an intersection, approximately three miles into the run. The road to the right leads to a great trail, but to keep things simple run through the intersection towards the woods and follow the trail until you emerge at a small parking lot along Sudley Road — take note in case you want to return and start your run at an alternative location next time you come to the park. Continue to follow the First Manassas Trail southeast in the direction of your parked car. As soon as you crest the slight incline, you will see the Henry Hill Visitor Center in the distance — approximately one mile away. From here on out, the trail resembles a championship cross country course as it descends towards the Stone House, which served as a hospital during both battles, and back to the parking lot. Cross Route 29 near the intersection of Sudley then negotiate your way across a small bridge. Once you’re safely on the other side, begin an arduous climb towards the Henry House. Continue straight to reach the Visitor Center, and your car. If you’re still hankering for a mile or two, make a left at Stonewall’s statue and loop back around the field. The aforementioned route is just a small sample of what the park has to offer. If you plan accordingly, you can run triple this distance without much repetition, but Manassas is a great place to run without an intended route and, since you’re never too far from a major road, you never have to worry about getting lost.


BY JAKE KLIM

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 7


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MARINE MAJ. ANTHONY GAROFANO RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY MELISSA DORN/ LISSA RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

BY JACQUELINE KLIMAS

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Through the throngs of spectators lining the Marine Corps Marathon course, Marine Maj. Anthony Garofano will have his ears open. Underneath the canopy of cheers, he’ll listen for an unmistakable sound. “At certain points, she’ll be out there and, if she’s crying, she’ll be easy to hear,” Garofano said of his newborn daughter, Helen. While training for his first marathon, Garofano fit in runs around a demanding schedule as an active duty judge advocate general for the Marine Corps, his commitment to organize a running club for Capitol Hill staffers and preparing to be a new dad. In spite of all that, everything went pretty smoothly, thanks to his understanding wife, Christine, and co-workers. “My office has been incredibly supportive the whole time and there’s only one run that I went on with my cell phone in my hand just in case I needed to stop early,” he said. “Otherwise it’s been very smooth. My runs are early enough that Chris doesn’t even know I’m going.” Garofano was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 2004 and began serving as an active-duty service member in 2008. Through his job, Garofano ended up in charge of the Capitol Hill Running Club this year. During training season for the Marine Corps Marathon, the Marine Corps liaison office organizes the club, setting up a training plan for the race, water stops and support for the weekly long runs. Since he was coordinating training for a group of 20 to 30 Hill staffers, he figured this would be a good year to tackle the marathon himself. “It was sort of in the back of my head — I don’t want to, but I (also do) want to run a marathon — so taking on this club was the opportunity,” he said. The group meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings, with a long run on Saturdays. “That doesn’t interfere with work schedule, but it ruins your Friday night a little bit,” he said. “(But) when you’re 32 and you have a baby, there’s not much Friday night left to ruin.” Luckily, his wife understands the demands of both the club and marathon training. “I’m really lucky to have a wife who’s so understanding about the commitment to the running and the club and who’s healthy enough to not have an issue,” he said. “This could be a lot more difficult without people being supportive.” In addition to his time working as a fellow for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose district includes Marine base Camp Pendleton, Garofano has also served as a military prosecutor and a battalion judge advocate who deployed with the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion to southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010. While overseas, he helped the troops

handle legal matters, like rules of engagement or dealing with detainees. Now, he works in the Marine Corps House liaison office, educating and informing members of Congress about the Marine Corps. He’s had some training interruptions — missing his 18.5-mile long run the day his wife went into labor in late August, and a week to adjust to Helen’s sleeping schedule. He had to miss a few runs when traveling where it was unsafe to run, but wasn’t worried about it affecting his overall training. The weeks he’s had to miss long runs, he said he’s felt just as strong going farther the next week. “If I missed several weeks in a row, then I’d be concerned, but missing one or two long runs doesn’t fill me with terror,” he said. “Maybe that’s ignorance.” His travels have given him a few unforgettable runs all around the world. One of his favorites was during a trip to Guam, where he got to run along the beach. And another run in Hanoi, Vietnam, which was so humid that his watch face fogged up as soon as he stepped out of his hotel. “It was about 6:30 in the morning; it was like the entire city was outside exercising, whether it be Tai Chi or playing badminton, or there was a muscle beach set up, with guys doing bench press and sit ups,” he said. “It was really cool to see so many people outside exercising at the same time, it was a neat community spirit thing.” Garofano has spent years running, but is tackling long distances for the first time. He was a sprinter at Middlebury College in Vermont. Since then, he’s mostly lifted weights, gone on multi-day hikes and run just enough to pass the annual physical fitness test for the Marines. “Every year the Marine Corps makes you run three miles to make sure you’re still in shape; that was the standard for me prior to this year,” he said. As a result, every week’s long run is a new milestone as the farthest he’s ever run in his life. “A lot of it has been mental,” he said. “I’ve gotten to the point if I can do 17.5 miles, I figure as long as I can keep it up I can suffer through 26.” Although Garofano has managed to fit almost everything into his weeks, one thing that has suffered has been spending time with friends, though he said they’re all understanding of the time spent running and with his new daughter. “My friends and Chris’ friends may think we’ve abandoned them, but I think we’ve got a pretty good excuse,” he said. “The combination of running and baby has certainly reduced the amount of going out to dinner, but everyone understands.”

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 11


BY ERIN MASTERSON

12 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014


RUNWashington photoS by SaRa alepiN/ Photos from the harty

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 13


To pin a label on George Banker, you’d have to get him to slow down first. He’s a runner, an organizer, a historian, a photographer, a speaker, a joker, a mentor, a problem solver, and whatever else anyone needs him to be. But as Oct. 26 approaches, Banker is first and foremost a marathoner. The 64-year-old will run his 30th Marine Corps Marathon, and his hundredth marathon, overall. “Is it a passion? Yes, it is,” he said. “If you want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to get it done.” You’ve seen him: tall, a lean runner’s build, short hair, notepad in hand and camera around his neck. He grew up on the Quantico Marine Corps, the son of two Marines and the stepson of another. He went on to serve 20 years as a tech sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, eight in active duty from 1969 to 1977, which included service in Vietnam. While spending 12 years in the Air National Guard based in Washington, D.C., he studied accounting at George Washington University, began working for IBM. He worked at IBM for 25 years, while raising children Ronald, Yvette and Dre with his wife, Bernadette. They’ve been married for 43 years. Banker’s military upbringing and career shaped his outlook. “There is just a bond that the military has that is very difficult to duplicate in civilian life,” he said. His name is synonymous with the area’s military-sponsored races. His job as operations manager for the Army Ten-Miler “pays the bills,” but he also serves as the MCM historian and in an unofficial capacity on the board of many other local D.C. races, including the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon, the George Washington Parkway Classic and the Lawyers Have Heart 10K. At other races, he works as an announcer and provides general support and troubleshooting to race directors. Martha Merz, an elite masters runner and Navy spouse who has lived in the D.C. area on an off for the past 25 years, has known George since she began racing here after college. “He is the professional behind the scenes at so many races, getting things done and ensuring that race organizers understand runners and all the intricate details that go into a quality event,” she said. Writing race recaps for the Rock Creek Running Club in 1984 gave him his start in running journalism and he was hooked when he saw his byline in Runner’s Gazette. For the next decade, Banker covered about 60 races per year, sometimes running in them, too. He followed the lead of Jim Hage and Steve Nearman, then developed his own style, becoming a race reporter for the masses. “I would talk to anyone and everyone – front, middle, and back of the pack,” he said. “Every race has a soul. But it takes the right person to write about it.”

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Documenting MCM’s history, from its debut back in 1976, was one of his passions. Those Runner’s Gazettes, along with seemingly every other running artifact he has collected, are neatly filed in boxes that basically insulate the basement of his home in Fort Washington, Md. “I’m an organized pack rat,” he said. “When I die, there’s going to be a U-Haul in the funeral procession, behind the hearse.” Those records helped Banker assemble The Marine Corps Marathon: A Running Tradition, published in 2008. “This book was a labor of love, an ego trip,” he said. “I wanted my name on the front cover and my picture on the back. I don’t track sales; I don’t go buy a truckload of books and park out by the Metro.” But writing the book was important to him, for the simple reason that he is the only one with as much knowledge on the history of the “people’s marathon.” “He is the people,” said MCM race director Rick Nealis. “I can’t think of another individual in the D.C. area who does what he does for the sport of running. And from a historian’s standpoint, he’s been invaluable.” Nealis appreciates that Banker has been able to cross “party lines” by being a uniting force among race directors, race organizations and sponsors… even different branches of the military. “He is the definition of ‘joint,’ or purple, as we call it [in the military],” Nealis said. His ATM duties include the role of community outreach director. He also sees himself as an advocate for runners. “I’m looking out for that runner, because no one else is going to,” he said. “I may be bumping heads with the race director on some of my decisions, but frankly speaking, that’s my job.” He’s not shy about getting an elite runner into a race to help boost the quality of the fields. “I look at this as a way to validate everything these elite runners have been doing,” he said. “And I’m going to bring in some talent to race with them.”    But Banker also welcomes talent to races for other reasons: the great stories that emerge. He seeks to tell not just the running story, but the personal side, too. He has learned that writing about what makes runners tick, and how they balance the running, the personal, and the family side of things, is what people want to read – not just race results. Masters ace and Potomac River Running owner Ray Pugsley, who won the masters title at the 2013 ATM, said in September that Banker was urging him to defend his title, despite recent back surgery. Pugsley had recovered, but had not quite fully regained his fitness. “He’s relentless,” Pugsley said. Pugsley has known Banker for 20 years. He remembers seeing George at the finish line of every race with a smile on his face, hoping to interview the finishers. “He knew our names, he knew about us,

about races we had run, about who we were,” he said. “And in turn, we started to get to know George — not just as a reporter, but as a friend.” Throughout his many dedicated years of service to the sport, Banker has managed to keep up his own racing. Running well before dawn has always been routine, given his schedule. His fastest marathon is a 3:04:37, run in Houston in 1988. Nowadays, Banker is happy just to finish, injury-free. He has targeted Marine Corps for number 100 for some time, but ice on the George Washington Birthday Marathon course, which forced its cancellation in February, meant he had to improvise and run the Elkton Trail Marathon in Maryland to catch up and stay on pace. It did not go well. “It was one of those races where I had to tell myself to stop looking at my watch,” he said. “I have some unfinished business there.” In addition to running his hundredth marathon at MCM, he also plans to run his seventh JFK 50 Mile on November 22. He wants the sweatshirt given to runners who have finished 10 JFKs. Banker has been “the heart and soul of military-related running in the region for decades,” said Race Director Mike Spinnler. Banker has long been advised by Joe Lugiano of Cary, N.C. Banker thinks of Lugiano as more than a coach, but someone who embodies what running means to him. “He has been my coach back to IBM days and I have known him since I have been running,” Banker said. “We all have that person who knows your body and what you can do. He trains [me] by using my confidence in my abilities.” In his own coaching, Banker takes a demanding yet realistic approach. “I will get inside your head; I want you to make a commitment. Take a look at your schedule. How much time do you have to devote? That’s how much time you give. You need to get out of it what you want.” Local runner Elyse Braner met Banker several years ago. “He took me under his wing and quickly became of my most important mentors and role models,” she said. “Many others can say the same of George. His commitment to volunteerism and the community is nearly unequaled.  On top of all of this, he finds the time to train for marathons and ultra-marathons. I only hope that one day I can have even a fraction of the impact on the community that George has had.” Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World Bart Yasso first met Banker at a convention nearly three decades ago. He described Banker as a “dear friend,” and as someone who does a “bundle of everything for the sport.” Yasso was particularly impressed, though, by Banker’s efforts to promote diversity in running.   “He had so much insight on the future of the sport … and he’s really had an impact in that way,” he said.

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 15


By CHARLIE BAN He could have cashed in at any number of marathons. Instead, Carl Rundell chased a victory at the Marine Corps Marathon for four years, one that would have been lucrative only if wealth was measured in glory, honor and satisfaction from personal achievement. It just so happens those rewards were right up his alley. “Not running for prize money didn’t bother me,” he said, almost 10 years after his first attempt. “If you’re chasing the money, you’re never going to be happy. If you’re doing it for your true passion, that’s what you’ll remember.” Fifth place finishes in 2004 and 2007 bookended two runner-ups, one by just eight seconds in 2005. Rundell remembers his father, Reid, joking with him while he was still catching his breath after crossing the finish line, “You couldn’t have run eight seconds faster?” The lack of prize money at Marine Corps never dissuaded Rundell and may have emboldened him when he looked for racing opportunities while training and competing with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. He still lives in Birmingham, Mich. His training partners were often focused on domestic marathon majors — New York, Chicago, Boston — but he had his sights set on the People’s Marathon. “There’s certainly a place for prize money in road racing; it certainly helps professional runners support themselves and makes races competitive and interesting. But that didn’t figure into my plans,” he said. “It just seemed like a great race to run.” He loves the race for its focus on “everyday runners.” “There are people who you’d never think, if you knew them casually, that they’d be marathon runners, but those people show up on the starting line and you realize how much the masses mean to this sport,” he said. “Marine Corps does a good job of showing everybody a great experience.” He never minded, at least in retrospect, waiting in long lines for the bathrooms before running in the low 2:20s. Reid Rundell spent two years living in Arlington working on federal public school reform policy in the early 1990s. Carl, 10 years away from hitting his stride as a marathoner, would visit his father and hear about the race. 16 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014

“I saw the course, heard about it from people who lived in Washington and knew the place it held in the community,” he said. “When I started developing as a competitive marathoner, I knew I wanted to race here.” On top of his own experiences during the races, he appreciated the opportunities for Marine Corps spectators. “My parents could come and watch the race and see me a few times,” he said. “At a lot of races, I feel bad that they’ve come and they’re going to be bored for a few hours until I’m done. They’ll see me once and that’s it. You can get around the Marine Corps course a lot easier than others.” His first try, in 2004, was hindered by heat, which broke him down after 23 miles, which he spent mostly in the lead. In 2005, he challenged eventual champion Ruben Garcia with a 5:10 mile in the middle of the race, and along the way ran his best time for the course — 2:22:26. In 2006, he again lost to Garcia, that time by more than three minutes. In 2007, he skipped the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials to make another attempt. “Everybody kept telling me that it’s once in a lifetime to run the trials,” Rundell told the Washington Post that year. “I was like, ‘Yeah, well, to win the Marine Corps Marathon would be once in a lifetime.’ . . . I’m not giving up.” After a fifth place finish in 2007, when he again led early before fading to fifth, he dialed back his running to focus time on developing his relationship with the woman who is now his wife, managing his business and volunteering. Many bridesmaids complain that they will never want to wear their dress again after the wedding. Not Carl. Despite falling short, he relishes the experience. He helps coach the cross country team at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, his alma mater, and he has found that when regaling the 53 kids on the team with his racing experiences, they’re most spellbound by stories from Marine Corps. “Those are the stories that stick with me, running up to Iwo Jima and still thinking I had a chance to win,” he said. “I never want to tell them about some time I ran and won a thousand bucks, and they don’t really want to hear it. That’s not why they’re getting into the sport at that age, anyway. “The kids who go on to run a marathon someday, I have a feeling half are going to want to make that happen at Marine Corps.”


Carl Rundell leads Ruben Garcia across the 14th Street Bridge during the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon. Garcia would go on to win in 2:21:18, eight seconds ahead of Rundell. Photo courtesy of the Marine Corps Marathon via Steve Nearman, author of Marine Corps Marathon: An Epic Journey in Photographs

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 17


It was time, and Kelly Swain knew it. “I was always working up to a marathon,” she said just a month before toeing the line at the Marine Corps Marathon. The 29-year-old Burke native has been running since high school, but wanted to wait for the right moment to commit to 26.2 miles. She started running while at Lake Braddock, encouraged by her older sister’s achievements, but quickly became successful in her own right. That sister, accomplished local runner Erin Taylor, can recall, “some middle school race, or high school, [Kelly] either won the mile or got second. I was like, ‘People think I’m fast? She’s gonna be way faster.” Swain went on to run at the University of Virginia, but injuries and the pressures of collegiate running kept her from the “normal college experience” she wanted, the kind where your peers aren’t working like professional runners to maintain their scholarships. She declared herself retired. “I just needed a break and didn’t think I really liked running any more,” she said. She’s not alone. “A lot of these runners come out of college programs burnt out,” said George Buckheit, Swain’s coach with Capital Area Runners. “They just feel like running isn’t fun, and I think one of the strengths of what we put together at Capital Area Runners is we’ve got a group that is very supportive.” This has been a selling point for Swain’s return; both sisters praise Buckheit and their teammates for the motivational atmosphere that sets them up for their success.

“The Ultimate Progression” “When I came back to running three years ago, I promised myself I would not let it consume my entire life,” Swain said. Instead of cutthroat competition, she made the choice to set time goals and encourage runners who might pass her. “I think when I took the focus off of competing with other runners and placed it on my own ability, I started loving running once again,” she said. Still, to her, the marathon was “the ultimate progression” in a runner’s career and her unspoken goal was to finish her first in under three hours. To get there, she spent two years rebuilding her base with CAR and the last year racing the Army Ten-Miler, the Richmond Half Marathon, and most recently, the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. Her times show little hint of having recently come out of retirement. In fact, she won the Marine Corps 17.75k in March and placed fifth at the Navy-Air Force Half-Marathon. But she had to

18 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014

rebuild her confidence alongside her mileage before she considered going farther. “I didn’t want to just do a marathon to do it,” she said. “I wanted to do a marathon to know that I was going to run well and that I was well prepared.” Doing well, for her, meant being thoroughly prepared to break three hours. “I guess this is the year that I thought I was ready to do that,” she said, with characteristic humility. Because runners love a challenge, she also scheduled her wedding to her fiancé, Brendan Mahoney, for Nov. 1, 2014, just six days after her marathon. With any luck, the post-race soreness will wear off before it’s time to dance. “I never make any bold predictions on a race, especially a marathon,” Buckheit said of her upcoming race. “It’s so unpredictable. But she’s running great. This is as well as she’s been running since she’s been with us.” Swain is also running her highest mileage ever, and without injury, which Buckheit attributes to better recovery practices. “She’s ready,” Taylor said. “She knows how hard a first marathon can be, especially if you go out too fast like I tend to do and then you’re pretty much crawling in. She’ll run better than I did my first.” Taylor’s pride in her sister shines through every praising word she said. “That week is going to be amazing for her,” she gushed.

Race Day On marathon morning, Swain plans to heed the advice of her coach to start slow and finish fast. She attributes her success at the Navy-Air Force race to staying slow through the first 5k, per Buckheit’s advice. “I never believed him at first until I actually started to do it in races,” she said. Buckheit and Taylor shared their advice for Swain, the thing they’d like to repeat in her ear for 26.2 miles. Taylor said to have fun. “At the end of the day, there’s gonna be some part of the race I would think [will] hurt worse than anything that’s ever hurt before, and just to remember you’re doing this because it’s fun.” And Buckheit reiterated the need to be patient. In the first 10k, he said, “If you don’t feel like you’re running too slow, you’re running too fast. Wait until everyone else has made their early race mistakes and starts crashing, and that’s when you pick your spot to start moving your way through the field.” Most of all, they share the unequivocal opinion that she is ready. She has trained hard and run well throughout her training. All that remains is to race. “We’re rooting for her,” her sister said.


BY KATIE BOLTON

KELLY SWAIN

PHOTO BY CHERYL YOUNG

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 19


By Dan difon zo In October 1994, on a chilly, rainy day, I toed the line for my first marathon after five months of haphazard training. I had three goals:  finish the Marine Corps Marathon in less than four hours, not walk a single step and beat Oprah! The world learned days before that the queen of day-time television, Oprah Winfrey, was also attempting her first go at the distance.  Surely if Oprah could run a marathon, then so could I! Everything I knew about the marathon I learned from a book I found on running and from my trusted training partner whose one marathon made her the expert in my eyes. Our training plan was simple: run on your own a “few” days during the week and then meet up on Saturday mornings for long runs.  We’d do many of these runs on the C&O Canal Towpath and the distance would increase each week, culminating in an 18-miler from Bethesda to Union Station. I was so naïve; there were so many lessons learned that day. Example: that a cotton shirt combined with rain and sweat contributes to significant blood loss and a very painful post-race shower. That running at half marathon pace for the first half of the race is not a wise pacing strategy. Who needs to drink water when it’s raining out?  Why would anyone want to eat a PowerBar while they are running?  Who knew that clipping toe nails before the race would help prevent them from falling off?  (Speaking of toes, who has ever heard of black toe nails anyway?  And, why wasn’t I warned about the perils of cotton socks?)   I could go on and on, but the memories — and the therapy to put it behind me — are too painful. Despite the inevitable early slam into “the wall” — somewhere around mile 18 — I did manage to stubbornly run every step of that race.  I finished in 3:59:17 — to this day a personal worst, but under four hours.  I also managed to beat Oprah by a half-hour, passing 20 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMER 2014

her and her team of comically overdeveloped bodyguards somewhere around mile five. She finished in a very respectable 4:29:15.   But, once  Oprah became a marathoner, something far bigger happened.  She started a movement — literally — for tens of thousands of people!  And the catch-phrase:  “Beat Oprah” was born.  When word spread on radio, television and the papers that Oprah had finished a marathon, the world wanted to know just how she did it. In a four-and-a-half-hour instant, Oprah had dismissed the notion classifying marathon runners as physically-gifted, thrill-seeking, crazy extremists and opened up the sport to a whole new class of wannabe athletes.  If Oprah could lose 70 pounds and train for a marathon, then anyone could do the same.  This one woman literally changed the perception of marathon running.  No longer does a runner need to come in first to “win.”  Just like that, the second bouncing baby running boom was born, thanks to a wildly popular talk-show host who just aspired to finish. The tide changed, and all of the sudden, so did marathon running.  Do we have Oprah to thank for this running boom?  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, it really doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that people are active and running.  For some folks, it’s a bucket-list item. For others, it’s a lifestyle change. To the purists, however, Oprah didn’t do the marathon mystique any favors.  During the first running boom in the late 1970s and early 1980s we were inspired by the likes of Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar and Frank Shorter, who clearly dominated the sport of marathoning.  The goal for most runners was simply to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  The average finish time for male marathon finishers in 1980 was 3:32.  In 2013, it was 4:16. With Oprah’s achievement, the mythical goal of qualifying for Boston was tossed out like a pair of worn racing flats.  Beating Oprah was now the new acceptable benchmark for


runners — attainable for most. It was now perfectly okay if you didn’t qualify for Boston as long as you beat Oprah.  Thus, some would say Oprah actually lowered the bar and made it okay to walk or merely finish a race.  Running fast was secondary.  The focus was more on being healthy and just covering 26.2 miles before they closed the course. Clearly, the demographics for marathon runners have changed.  In the 80s, marathon runners were known as elite athletes — typically 90 percent male.  In 1995, that ratio had dropped to three male runners for every woman.  Today, men only slightly outnumber women at the marathon distance, but the median age for women is nearly five years younger than men, and it continues to trend lower.  And the number of races is also exploding. In 2013, there was a record 1,100-plus U.S. marathons compared to approximately 300 marathons in 2000, according to Running USA. In 1994, 12,675 runners finished MCM.  The number of finishers increased by about 15 percent in 1995 and has been steadily increasing ever since.  For this year’s running of MCM the field is 30,000.  Nearly all of these runners registered for a lottery and the race filled within days of registration opening — a typical occurrence for most large marathons in the United States.  The 500,000th MCM finisher will cross the finish line this year. Say what you will about the consequences of Oprah’s marathon finish in 1994, but there’s no denying that marathon running is here to stay.  As a certified running coach for the Montgomery County Road Runners Club in Maryland, I have personally worked with scores of runners who — through perseverance, drive and discipline — conquer the marathon distance and beyond. The resources — including access to training groups and clubs — available to runners today are astounding.  So whether you’re gunning for a Boston Marathon qualifier or you’re a first time marathoner just trying to beat Oprah, the time has never been better to give it your best shot.  

Photo courtesy of the Marine Corps Marathon via Steve Nearman, author of Marine Corps Marathon: An Epic Journey in Photographs

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 21


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SATURDAY, NOV. 1 THE CONGRESSIONAL 5K & 5 MILER WASHINGTON, D.C RUN WITH THE EAGLES 5K ALEXANDRIA , VA. PAWS2CARE 5K ARLINGTON, VA. ACADEMY OF HOPE 5K ARLINGTON, VA. 5Q’ RUN WOODBRIDGE, VA. GET YOUR REAR IN GEAR 5K ALEXANDRIA, VA. JUG BAY 10K/5K UPPER MARLBORO, MD.

SUNDAY, NOV. 2 THE PARKS 10K WASHINGTON, D.C STASHE DASH 5K SHIRLINTGON, VA. ROCKVILLE 10K/5K ROCKVILLE, MD. BACKYARD BURN

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SUNDAY, NOV. 16

BETHESDA, MD. CARDINAL 5K KENSINGTON, MD. ST. LOUIS HAWKS 5K ALEXANDRIA, VA. BARRETT ELEMENTARY 5K ARLINGTON, VA. FILL THE SHOES 5K ALEXANDRIA, VA. THE NEARLY NAKED MILE RESTON, VA. BATTLEFIELD HALF MARATHON WINCHESTER, VA.

SUNDAY, NOV. 9 VETERAN’S DAY 10K WASHINGTON, D.C CANDY CANE CITY 5K CHEVY CHASE, MD.

.US NATIONAL 12K ALEXANDRIA, VA. POTOMAC RIVER RUN MARATHON CARDEROCK, MD. HOLIDAY SLEIGH 5K WASHINGTON, D.C MAKING A DIFFERENCE 5K ASHBURN, VA. KING OF THE ROAD 5K ROCKVILLE, MD. VIVA VETS 5K FAIRFAX, VA. BACKYARD BURN CLIFTON, VA.

TUESDAY, NOV. 19 TIDAL BASIN RUNS WASHINGTON, D.C

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SATURDAY, NOV. 22

FAIRFAX, VA.

SPEND YOURSELF 5K

ROUND ROBINSON 5K

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LEESBURG, VA.

RUN UNDER THE LIGHTS 5K

LOUDOUN 10K TRAIL RUN

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SATURDAY, NOV. 8

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ALEXANDRIA, VA.

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FAIRFAX STATION, VA.

ANNANDALE, VA. FIREFIGHTER 5K FAIRFAX, VA. CASCADES MELANOMORE 5K POTOMAC FALLS, VA. RACE TO END WOMEN’S CANCER 5K WASHINGTON, D.C.

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SATURDAY, NOV. 15

JOHN PAUL THE GREAT 5K DUMFRIES, VA. FREEZE YOUR GIZZARD 5K LEESBURG, VA.

STONE MILL 50 MILER

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MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD.

ALEXANDRIA, VA. FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS 5K UPPER MARLBORO, MD.

24 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014


SUNDAY, DEC. 7

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JINGLE ALL THE WAY 8K

RINGING IN HOPE 5K/10K

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SUNDAY, NOV. 23

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THURSDAY, JAN. 1

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NEW YEAR’S DAY 5K RESTON, VA.

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REINDEER RUN 5K

RESOLUTION RUN 5K

FORT MEADE, MD.

ASHBURN, VA.

THURSDAY, NOV. 27

12.13.14 15K

SOME’S TROT FOR HUNGER

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SATURDAY, JAN. 10

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SNOWFLAKE 5K

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SUNDAY, DEC. 14

BLUE MOON HARBOR LIGHTS HALF MARATHON NORFOLK, VA.

VIRGINIA RUN TURKEY TROT CENTREVILLE, VA. GIVING THANKS 5K VIENNA, VA. TURKEY DAY 5K RESTON, VA. ARLINGTON TURKEY TROT 5K ARLINGTON, VA. CROSSROADS 5K/10K

JINGLE BELL JOG 8K ROCKVILLE, MD. FROSTY 5K FAIRFAX, VA.

AL LEWIS 10 MILER KENSINGTON, MD.

SATURDAY, JAN. 17 BLACK HILL 5K/10K/10 MILE TRAIL RACE BOYDS, MD. JFK 20K/MLK 5K CARDEROCK, MD.

FRIGID 5K/10K

SUNDAY, FEB. 1

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FIRST DOWN 5K AND PACERS COMBINE

GAR WILLIAMS HALF MARATHON

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SATURDAY, FEB. 7

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RUN FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS HALF MARATHON/5K PRINCE WILLIAM, VA.

Upcoming races is not a comprehensive listing of road races, but are chosen for their proximity to the Washington, D.C. area. Listings are based largely on information provided by race directors on the free online race calendar at www.runwashington.com. It Is wise to confirm event details with organizers before registering for an event. Date and times are subject to change.

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 25


What’s Up with tracks in this City? By N ata l ie D i Bl asio Will Seymour was astounded at how quickly he flew through his first mile during speed work. Shooting for a seven-minute mile, he was alarmed, and a little thrilled, when he closed in on his first lap in 90 seconds — a six-minute mile pace. “I thought maybe because it was the first mile I was a little bit faster than usual. Maybe I wasn’t tired yet,” he recalled. “Maybe I was just feeling good.” Unfortunately for Seymour, that “mile” wasn’t a mile at all. The track at Woodrow Wilson High School, like a number of tracks in Washington, isn’t a standard 400-meter track. In this case, it was 342 meters. “I wasn’t certain of it until I got back to my apartment and I measured it,” Seymour said. “I did about four miles in total but I thought I did five. I haven’t been back to the track since.” D.C. is home to a hodgepodge of unique tracks — some with three lanes, some square and many measuring out to unusual distances. The standard outdoor track is 400 meters (or 440 yards), making four laps to the mile. Most indoor tracks are 200 meters, eight laps to a mile. The Georgetown Community Track, also known as the Duke Ellington Track, is 320 meters — five laps to a mile. The track at the Banneker Recreation Center, 2500 Georgia Avenue, NW, is 400 meters, but it’s in the shape of a square and surrounds a baseball field. Even Sasha and Malia Obama’s school track isn’t the standard 400-meter oval. Sidwell Friends School, located in Tenleytown, has a

26 | RUNWASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014


NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 27


The District’s Wacky Tracks Track LocaTion

oddiTy

pubLic?

american university

flattened curves

no

banneker recreation center

squarish

yes

catholic university

none

no

coolidge High School

none

yes

duke Ellington Track

320 meters

yes

Eastern High School

none

no

Gallaudet university

none

no

Howard university

none

no

Joint base anacostia-bolling

none apparent

no

kenilworth park

none

yes

roosevelt High School

none

yes

Sidwell Friends School

340 meters

please…

St. alban’s School

457 yards

no

Wilson High School

342 meters

yes

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340-meter track. When the track was built in 1981, it was squeezed between a middle school building and existing athletic fields. “We would have had to knock down a building to make the track the standard size,” said Associate Head of School Lori Hardenbergh. “There just wasn’t room for it.” The school still holds track meets — they just adjust the start and finish lines depending on the event. “We can’t set world records there but we can do everything else,” Hardenburgh said. The only records accepted by the National Federation of State High School Associations are those run on 400-meter tracks. Becky Oakes, director of sports with the federation, said as schools put different kinds of fields in the middle of the track they altered the radius of the curves depending on if the center of the track was used for football or soccer. As long as the first lane is 400 meters, a track configuration is allowed. But in some cases, the school just doesn’t have enough space for a 400-meter track. “If it is the very best you can do and you’re limited in space, we would rather have the kids participating on a short track than not running at all,” Oakes said. The International Association of Athletics Federation sets regulation standards for international competitions. Under the IAAF, tracks need to be 400 meters, have straight and curved sections of almost equal length and uniform bends that are “most suitable to the running rhythm of athletes.” There are rules about how flat the track needs to be and how many lanes it can have. For international competition, even the marks on the track have to be exact. Desmond Dunham is in his third year of coaching at Woodrow Wilson High School and he is still trying to adjust to the unique track distance. “It was a complete hassle my entire first year,” he said. “I like to mix up the workouts quite a bit, so I am meticulous with distances. Having to calculate the start to the end distance and to also use pacing for a 342 meter track — it makes it very challenging.” Dunham said when the track was constructed, there was a wall in the way. They would have had to knock down the wall to make a 400-meter track. “It was more cost effective to deal with the distance,” he said. Unfortunately, there are serious drawbacks to the track. “The curves are pretty tight,” he said. “It adds a lot of stress on the athletes’ lower extremities.” There is one positive aspect to having an unusually short track, Dunham said. “It gives the runners a bit of a confidence boost because they aren’t doing as many laps in meets on other tracks. They are used to doing it on a rectangular track with tight curves — it’s a lot smoother on a 400-meter track.” Because of the track’s distance, Dunham

said his team can’t hold meets. “We absolutely would have competitions if it were a normal track,” he said. “We would host invitationals. We are in the perfect area that would attract quite a few top-level teams.” “I am not one to complain,” Dunham said. “As long as you have an area and space to run in, you are never at an advantage or disadvantage as long as you have the right mindset.” Anthony Belber has been dealing with wacky tracks all his life. While a student at St. Alban’s School, he ran around a 457 yard track, larger than regulation, that surrounded practice fields and a baseball diamond. “Coach (Skip Grant) would have us walk off 17 yards and draw a line in the ciders,” he said. “We knew by the number of lines we drew if we’d be running 400s or 800s. That track is now being replaced, and Belber is coaching at Georgetown Day School, which lacks a track. With the help of the community, alumni runners, teachers and families, the team raised enough money to build a 3-lane 80-yard asphalt straightaway — all they could fit in the small space they had available. Good for sprinters, who can’t practice on the streets like distance runners and jumpers, with the addition of a sand pit. It cost more than $50,000 “It’s a massive sandbox at the end of a long sidewalk and we love it,” Belber said. The team named the straightaway after the late Sam Freeling, a Georgetown Day graduate and one of the school’s fastest runners. The massive sandbox is open to the public — but Belber said they don’t have many visitors. “It’s open to anyone who wants an 80-yards-by10-feet track, but I don’t know who would want to use it except for us,” he said. Some say an unusual track is just as good as a standard track. Hillary Peabody of Washington, D.C., has run weekly track workouts for the D.C. Triathlon Club on the Wilson track for the past five years. Peabody said that the group does time-based workouts that are driven by effort or heart-rate. “I could care less the distance of the track,” she said. “I don’t think it bothers the runners either. If they are new I tell them ‘know that this isn’t a 400-meter track so if you’re trying to count — don’t bother doing it.’” The 342-meter track hasn’t turned away any of Peabody’s runners and she often has groups of more than 40 who show up for Wednesday evening workouts. For those who don’t enjoy the distraction of math on the run, there are plenty of 400-meter tracks to choose from in the area. Just don’t count your records until you make sure you’re at one of them.

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On race morning, or the night before, you pack your bag, unpack it, pack it again. You look up the directions, again. You triple-check the start time. The bigger the race, the more you overthink. The smaller the race, the more you seem to make rookie mistakes. The next time you get stressed out over race day logistics, though, here’s an idea: Stop for a second and think about the people out on the course, hours before you even woke up, doing things like setting up the finish line and water stations. And think about the race director — the person orchestrating all this — whose alarm clock likely went off a couple hours before yours, even. For many months, this race director has been making too many decisions to count. Now, it’s race day, and he or she heads to the race with a plan they hope will work, volunteers they hope will show up, and maybe just one simple wish: May there not be too many surprises. It is the race director who has to shoulder much of the responsibility for anything that goes wrong. They specialize in doing most of the worrying, too. On Father’s Day, 2013, a violent thunderstorm threatened to foil my running club’s annual 8k on the C&O Canal Towpath. Most of us crossed our fingers, hoped for the best (the storm never came, luckily). But our race director, Patrick Murphy, had to make actual plans. He had to figure out where people would shelter if the storm hit. If the race had been delayed, our event might have taken longer than our permit allowed. Would we have canceled? Speaking of permitting, race directors like Brian Danza, past president of D.C. Road Runners, regularly work with more than 20 agencies in the D.C. area to put on races of all types, and as many as seven for a single event. The agencies often have different, even contradictory, rules that make obtaining a permit very difficult, he said. Another challenge is to recruit enough volunteers. The larger the event, the more people you need, Danza said. “The race director [at larger races] becomes more of a project manager and cat wrangler rather than the person in charge of the race.”

Stepping up In 2006, Lisa McNichols stood on the starting line of a 5k in Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria with about 50 other people. It was the St. Rita’s 5k, a fundraiser for Saint Rita School that was held on a course with multiple out-and-backs and hairpin turns around a cone. The event had a separate 5k just for children. “It was the lowest-key 5k I ever ran,” said McNichols, a standout runner for Manhattan College in the late 1980s who ran a 5:28 mile in July. “A runner would finish and it would be close to 30 seconds before another one came

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Their race spared by a looming thunderstorm, members of the Georgetown Running Club help registrants at the 2013 Father’s Day 8k. PHOTO BY MATTHEW LEHNER

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in. But the atmosphere was just so welcoming. The kids had a blast and some of the teachers were there. It was that day that I knew I would be sending my children to Saint Rita School.” As soon as McNichols’ children entered kindergarten, the race director, Josephine Cunningham, asked McNichols if she could help get race sponsors. “At first I hated it,” she said, “but after awhile I kind of enjoyed challenging myself to see if I could raise some money for the school.” In addition to helping find sponsors, McNicholas and another school parent, Jude Prabaharan, started a track team at Saint Rita. Prabaharan also started NOVA Race Timing. So Cunningham, who is not a runner, and was very busy as Saint Rita’s director of admissions, came to realize she had the perfect people to take over race directing. McNichols’ and Prabaharan’s first goal was to increase participation and make more money for the school. To that end, they moved the race to Four Mile Run Park, close to the school, in Alexandria City. McNichols focused on increasing sponsorships, getting the word out about the race, and incentivizing students to get involved by asking family and friends to sponsor the event. Prabaharan maintained the website and took care of the registration process, permitting issues, and race day logistics. The two thought offering prize money would attract faster runners and generate more buzz. Others worried that making the race more competitive would make it less of a community event. “So that was a gamble,” McNichols said of their decision to offer prize money, which did succeed in attracting faster runners. But “The kids loved it. So now we have added some bonus cash for a course record.” Last year the race had 226 finishers, and raised more money than ever, which McNichols credits to their efforts to increase exposure for sponsors. “There are so many details to this operation, it’s overwhelming,” she said. “I don’t think the average runner has any idea how much planning goes into even a little 5k fundraiser … I never realized how this race would rule my life. I sometimes feel as much stress as if I were being paid!”

Revenge of the nerds Evan Weisel, a lifelong runner himself, had a similar realization when he founded Run! Geek! Run! “There are just so many logistics,” he said. “There is so much more that goes into it than I ever could have imagined.” Weisel is the principal and founder of W2 Communications, a public relations firm

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that provides communications services to technology companies. And when he was thinking about ways W2 Communications could raise money for the Equal Footing Foundation, a road race was the first idea to come to mind. Another idea that popped into his head one day, walking down the hallways of the office, was the name. The Equal Footing Foundation helps provide technology to students in Northern Virginia who lack access to it, while the race was a way to give local “geeks” a chance to support a good cause and show how athletic they are. For Weisel and his staff, the key to making Run! Geek! Run! go off without a hitch has been to focus on their strengths — communicating and branding — and leaving a lot of the logistics to race management teams they’ve partnered with. There are countless races in this region, after all. How does one make their race stand out? Figuring that out has been W2’s mission. One way has been to make Run! Geek! Run! more than a name, but a theme. Participants receive “nerd” glasses. There’s post-race trivia. Cookies are served. Corporate team, overall and age group winners get distinctive bobblehead trophies. “We’ve had people tell us, ‘I want to win one of those bobbleheads.’ I’m coming back next year to try and do it,” Weisel said. While Weisel has run competitively, he wanted Run! Geek! Run! to be accessible to runners of all abilities, but also to people who don’t even identify themselves as a runner. Part of the thinking behind the name was: “You don’t necessarily have to be a competitive athlete to do this, and most people relate to being a geek. This is an opportunity for folks to bring out their inner geek.” The race debuted in 2008 as an 8k in Washington, D.C.’s West Potomac Park, drawing 420 finishers. This year, though, the race moved from August to Spetember/ Ocotober, and to a well-known 5k course based at the Fairfax Corner shopping center. Having the race on federal property presented many challenges: particularly last year, when the race had to be postponed due to the government shutdown. They also couldn’t do race-day registrations, Weisel said, and wanted to move to a location where they could offer free parking. They also wanted to offer a shorter distance. “We’re doing a charity event,” Weisel said. “It is more of a community event. We want it to be something the everyday person can experience, even come out and do their first 5k. We just want it to be more of a celebration, just a real festival.”


From the Big Time to Low Key Joel Carrier came into race directing with the opposite goal. He wanted to host and direct an event for the best runners in the country: the national cross country championships. “I just felt like with Montgomery County Road Runners,” the club member said, “we had enough bandwidth to host it.” So he found a site at the Agricultural History Farm Park (a rather grueling two kilometer loop, as it turned out), put in a bid to the USATF, and, in February 2009, the nation’s best came to Derwood, Md. A year earlier, after his bid to host nationals had been submitted, Carrier’s fellow club members encouraged him to get some race directing experience under his belt. That’s how, in 2008, Carrier started directing Riley’s Rumble, a half marathon that is basically the furthest thing ever from a national championship. “Riley’s is kind of a hybrid,” Carrier said. “It’s a low-key event. We don’t give anyone T-shirts, awards, money, anything like that. Basically, at the end, the runners get watermelon.” It used to be held near Riley’s Lock on the C&O Canal Towpath, but the event outgrew the parking space. Would they go to Frederick County? Would they move to the Parks Half Marathon course in Rock Creek Park? “You can’t easily use roads in Montgomery County,” Carrier said, describing the difficulty of finding a new location. “There’s permitting; it’s very difficult.” So, one day, Carrier was out for a run on hilly country roads in the northern part of Montgomery County. “I thought, ‘That might be it.’ I brought club members out; we mapped out a course one afternoon, and it worked.” Riley’s is billed as the evil half marathon that your mother warned you about. It’s hilly. It’s often hot. It’s a right of passage for marathon training. (“I still go out and run it,” Carrier said, “but I wait until the fall.”) But even a low-key race like Riley’s still needs about 60 volunteers, Carrier said. The day before the race, Carrier loads up a truck with supplies, including about 50 watermelons. “I’ve got it down to a science,” he said. (And it’s another club member, by the way, who handles the popsicle stop.) Race day, Carrier wakes up at 3:30 a.m. and gets out to the course an hour later. Twelve hours later, he finally gets home. “It’s a long day,” he said, “but it goes by fast.”

Little Things Ultimately, race directing comes down to making decisions. About everything. Steve Nearman had no major race directing experience before launching the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in 2010, which recently drew more than 2,500 finishers. But he is a veteran running journalist who had helped direct some summer track meets and who had served on the race committee for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. “So it wasn’t like I just rolled out of bed,” he said. Especially the first year, “Everything is a decision,” Nearman said. He had to choose the course, a race management team to work with, bus and portable bathroom companies to hire. He has to decide where his race banner will hang at the finish line festival, and what band will play. Nearman, who makes it a priority to bring in elite runners, sometimes even has to decide which 60-minute half marathoners to fly over from Kenya or Ethiopia. “Other things are so behind the scenes,” he said, “I don’t want you to know there was a decision made about it.” Nearman found he needed to be patient and simply absorb some criticism. For years, runners complained about the final couple of miles in National Harbor: the big hill and the short off-road stretch leading into the finish line. He wanted to address the problem, too. And he was trying to. But it took some years and a lot of work with Alexandria to introduce the new course that recently debuted: which cutting out the big loop in National Harbor. Weather? “Five and 10-day forecasts are worthless,” he said. “I ask my race committee not to talk to me about the weather.” One year, when the forecast called for a hot day — and it ended up being chilly and overcast — Nearman had to make a lastminute call not to buy lots of ice. “But that was nothing compared to Congress,” Nearman said, referring to the shut down. “They turned out to be more damaging than a tornado.” Still, it can be the little things. Nearman always put a lot of thought into the race shirt. There are a lot of options, he said; “it is kind of daunting.” Making matters more difficult, “There always seem to be vocal, major critics” of each one he chooses. Or that year Nearman gave runners small track bags, or spike bags. “I had some really vocal people saying they wouldn’t donate it to the Salvation Army,” he said. Nearman has at least had much better luck with his beer selections. Each year, he gets the final sign off on the five microbrews that’ll be served at the festival.

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Nine miles in, it came to him. “Peanuts are just the skeletons of dead M&Ms,” Doug Hecox said. He had a point, and he had a process. As a comedian, he searches for the step between the logical and the quirky. It just so happens that running helps him get there. “My secret is fatigue,” he said. “I don’t come up with jokes until I’m tired, and the best are when I’m really, really tired.” Too much alertness leads to self editing: dismissal of ideas that come too early. And that kind of self consciousness is a killer. “When I’m fatigued, late at night or when I’m running, that’s when the weird connections come out. That’s when the better jokes come out,” he said. “Now, they’re not all winners, but they’re jokes I wouldn’t have come up with in a more rational state of mind.” He started running in 1995 in a pair of Asics 2020s, running around Capitol Hill. These days, he sets out early in the morning several times a week from his home in Northwest. “I can’t remember why [I started running], but there was probably a girl involved,” he said. He grew up in Wyoming, where the weather is bad enough that everyone there grows a sense of humor to cope. “They all tell jokes, and I’m the only one who ended up getting paid for it,” he said. Drafted onto his high school speech team, Hecox loved making people laugh but hated that they weren’t laughing at his words. He started writing his own jokes and once in college competed as one of 1,000 college comedians for a MTV Spring Break competition. When he lost out to Margaret Cho, he knew he’d have to pursue more traditional employment for a while, but he was smitten with comedy, and 25 years later he is still at it. By day, Hecox, 45, works in public affairs at the Department of Transportation, following stints at the justice and treasury departments and working for Congress. He’s also an adjunct journalism professor at American University. But on the right evenings, in the right cities, he does something that’s more frightening to the average American than showing up in public in spandex. He performs in front of people. “When you’ve performed long enough, it gets easy,” he said. “And I write [professionally] so even when I’m not working on jokes, I’m keeping myself creatively active.” Twitter (@dougfun) has been a boon for him, allowing him to test new material and forcing him to keep his jokes tight, which in turn helps him with his pacing when he tells the jokes.

Where he’s running “Everyone talks about the physical benefits of running, the cardio, but the mental [byproducts] are what help me,” he said. “I don’t know if I’d come up with some of the jokes that I have if I wasn’t running the big miles that I am.”

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He runs the big miles to support his half marathon habit. His long-term goal is to run one in each state, and that can include races that cross state lines. He’ll go back to take another shot at a state if he feels like his earlier performance wasn’t up to snuff. “Choosing the races is the hard part, but also the fun part,” he said, noting the logistical challenges of traveling. He’s not a running tourist — one of his most successful races, by his estimation, had him in and out of Myrtle Beach within 24 hours. “I’ve got stuff to do,” he said. “I have jokes to write!” He almost didn’t get out on time, though, because airport security thought his surfboard-shaped race medal was a knife. “I told them to be ready for that one, because I saw a whole load of people in the airport coming from the race,” he said. His fall schedule includes a handful of D.C. races but culminates in the D.C. Half and Half Marathon — 6.55 miles to a basket of half smoke and chili at Ben’s and 6.55 miles back. “It’ll be bad ass,” he said with an eager grin. Hecox regularly sees a trainer to work on overall strength, which saved him from an IT band injury oblivion a few years ago. Having a yoga instructor girlfriend helps him avoid injury, too. He passes on most 5k races because, “They’re a waste of my time,” he said. “The only reason I do ‘Beat the Deadline’ is because they have a great shirt.” Shirts matter to this runner. And he’s had it about up to here with the proliferation of technical shirts at races. “I need a cotton t-shirt I can wear to the store so I can brag about how cool I am,” he said. “You can’t do that in a tech shirt, you look like a dork!”

The grind Hecox wishes more people would run. Not for their health, for the health of his act. “I have some really great ‘fat’ jokes,” he said. “They’re just good, but the audience is changing and the jokes are less relatable. Now I have to switch to jokes about how people who work out are awful, and they’re just not as funny.” Though he lives in D.C., he doesn’t perform here much. “There aren’t too many paying gigs in D.C., and I don’t want to be known as a D.C. comic,” he said. That said, his location was helpful in getting to perform for fellow Wyoming native, then-Vice President Dick Cheney. He shoots for corporate conference jobs, but likes performing in Denver, Los Angeles and Phoenix and wants to work more in New York. “America is hungry for humor, but we’re being overfed,” he said. “They’re harder to impress, so you really have to be good.” That means refining his act and coming up with newer, better jokes. Which means more running.


DOUG HECOX, photographed at Silo. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY SARA ALEPIN/ PHOTOS FROM THE HARTY

BY CHARLIE BAN

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By JAMIE COREy

Eric London waits for the GPS satellite to give him permission to start running. runWaShinGton photo by MELissa dorn/ LiSSa Ryan PhotoGRaPhy

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Deborah Casola would watch the odometer for the mile marks as she drove along her running routes. That’s what you did in the ‘90s. When she’d come home, the mileage, time she spent running, time of day she ran and temperature would go on a calendar hanging in her kitchen pantry. “It was just a different world…I ordered books from Hal Higdon on the 800 number and remember talking to his secretary,” Casola said. “If I did a 20 miler, I’d go out and do my five-mile route four times... Back then I was very much a rut runner.” Eventually, she upgraded to a Timex watch and then later to a Garmin, which can track her mileage every step of the way — no pre-planned route required. “Technology definitely has made a difference,” Casola said. “I can be more creative. Now I can just go out and explore.” Creativity is just the beginning. Many runners say that technology has been instrumental to them in their motivation, safety and injury prevention. Jesse Fuller even said technology has made him an overall “happier runner.” “If my phone tells me that I need to go running today, I will put on my shoes, go out the door and won’t look back,” he said. Fuller, who trains for ultra-marathons and is gone for several hours at a time on any given run, also relies on the Road ID app, which sends friends or family to the runner’s exact location. If you stop running for more than five minutes, the app sends a notification that you stopped running. Fuller said technology has played a huge role in his motivation so he doesn’t mind paying $500 for his Suunto watch. “That’s a rule, right? You spend half of your money as a runner on gear. I heard that somewhere.” (And you’ll know that he ran, and what he ate after. He’s a prolific Instagrammer: @fullerrunsfar.) Since 2009, Eric London has also been spending hundreds of dollars on the latest technology. He caught the bug after reading an article that outlined Nike’s plan to update its Nike+ SportBand to double as a watch that could be used in conjunction with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPod nano. London hadn’t run in several years, but he said Nike Technology

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made getting back into running easier. “I was immediately into it,” London said. “I was just like ‘Wow, this is completely awesome.’” As London looked back at his data since 2009, he said the technology helped keep himself accountable and ensured he “wasn’t cheating” on mileage. Keeping track of his data that far back has helped him understand injuries better, he said. “Normally I would have gotten injured and scratched my head and said ‘Why have I been getting injured?’ “I went back and saw ‘You idiot, you went from not running at all to running 100 miles a month.’ I was able to track when injuries took place, and why they took place, as opposed to not having a good idea of what was happening ... Now, if something bothers me, I go back and look at my mileage and I immediately correct it.” London has since upgraded from the little Nike pod in his shoe to the latest Garmin GPS watch. “I’ve gotten a watch every year,” London said. “When Garmin comes out with upgraded model, I’ll pretty much go run out and buy it immediately — even if it’s a minor upgrade. I’m just an ‘upgrader’ kind of person.” London links up his watch with Strava, a running app that provides analysis on runs. The app also keeps data like what type of shoes were worn on a particular run, which London said helped him figure out his most recent foot injury. “You can go back and see what shoes coincided (with) injuries.” The app also serves as a social tool for London to interact with friends. It has an activity feed that allows users to give “kudos” to people or comment on their runs. And London has also captured a large amount of data from his Garmin Vivofit, which tracks steps and other activities that his 620 doesn’t. Individuals aren’t the only ones benefiting from technology. Matthew Greene, one of the founding members of the District Running Collective, says his GPS watch and the Nike+ apps have been useful in more ways than one for the recently-established running group.       “I’m usually pacing a group or trying to get a group going so it’s easier for me to track my mileage with a GPS watch,” Greene said. He said the Nike+ app, which integrates with social media in numerous ways, has been a very effective tool in encouraging people to come out to his running group. “People are able to take pictures in the app, then put their mileage on the picture, and that’ll encourage people to come out to our group,” Greene says.

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Since the District Running Collective was first established, the group has grown from 10 to 15 participants a week to roughly 50 to 70. “I think the apps have had a big influence in the growing of the group,” Greene said. “I think the fact that people post their mileage from the the apps on social media inspires others to want to get out and run. ... People come out to the run, post pictures on social media that integrate with the apps, then people see all these people using it, and then more people come out and want to track their mileage and show people what they have done. It’s a pretty cool cycle that we see from a lot of the runners that come out.” Another recently-established running group in the District that’s grown their numbers rapidly, the November Project DCA, also makes the most out of technology. From their group photos on the Lincoln Memorial steps, to their piles of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook updates, this group’s branding has solely relied on technology and the Internet. “Tribe” member Colleen Zorc said technology has played a role in pushing out many more miles to top friends’ mileage near the end of the month, added that she uses her Garmin as a motivation tool. “I have found that running with the Garmin and without music has allowed me to think through my form and has helped me develop mental strategy techniques that make long runs possible.” She said her watch also has helped with tackling tempo workouts. “If I have an eight-mile tempo run, I might break it up into two-mile segments with halfmile recoveries,” Zorc said. “I will run the entire workout within the desired pacing window, but the two miles I might run on the faster side and the next half mile on the slower side.” And in other running groups, like the D.C. Front Runners, technology has played a role in how runners organize themselves when they head out for group runs. “Usually the people who don’t run with watches find people that do run with watches,” said club member Thorne Ransom. Ransom said the watch was critical in learning his way around D.C. when he first moved to the city and has other benefits, too. “It helps me strategize in races. And It helps me see if weather affects my run or not.” There’s no doubt that the growing use of technology will continue to change runners’ experiences. Off the trails is another story. “I went to a bar in San Francisco, and a girl asked me for my Strava username,” Fuller said.


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It was killing Katie Anderson not to run, even though not running was probably keeping her alive. It was a little more than a month after her breast cancer diagnosis and a single mastectomy that halted her triathlon training in Spring 2011. “After my surgery, I became very antsy and wanted to get back out there and run. I remember each doctor’s appointment I would ask, ‘Ok, can I start running again? What about swimming, biking?’ And the answer was ‘No, just keep walking and doing your range of motion exercises.’ It was killing me!” Anderson, of Alexandria, entered the Cancer to 5k program, a free 12-week training program organized by the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults that motivates cancer survivors to complete a 5k road race. Originally based in DC, the program has since expanded to six other locations nationwide, including Arlington, Baltimore, and Columbia. And for Anderson, an “extremely competitive” athlete, it provided a way of starting over. She still recalls the amazing feeling of crossing the finish line of an Ironman just two-and-ahalf years after her diagnosis. “Yes, I still am competitive with myself and working towards that Boston Qualifier — only 45 seconds to shave — but I have a deeper appreciation for just being able to bend over, lace up my running shoes and head out for a run with no pain or restrictions. Being part of the cancer family now, I have met many runners who aren’t able to get back out there and be active, and I almost feel like I can be active and be running for them.”

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She’s now a coach in the program, founded in 2007 by cancer survivor Holly Shoemaker, after her stage III melanoma diagnosis interrupted her training for the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon. “At first the cancer diagnosis did not change anything,” Shoemaker said. “In part, I think it was denial: If I can keep training then I really may not have cancer.” With each surgery, the treatment began to take its toll. Shoemaker scaled back her race choices, then canceled some, then faced difficulty running at all. “I was reduced to walking less than two miles at a time,” she said. “I used to walk from the [East Falls Church Metro station] to VA hospital and my chemo nurses would get exasperated because I’d come in sweaty and my heart rate would be up. When they realized it was because of exercise, they would gently admonish me to take it easy. They made me promise that I could walk to chemo but had to take the bus back to the Metro after chemo.” Her targeted Marine Corps Marathon was five months into her year of treatment, which consisted of three-hour infusions five days a week for four weeks followed by 48 weeks of self-administered shots three times a week. “[My oncologist] said I could resume running as long as my blood work did not get too bad. We agreed that I had to really watch my hydration, listen to my body, dial back the pace and it was all with the understanding that if he told me to ‘stop running’ that I would stop — no arguments. I think it was to my benefit that my oncologist was a runner, so he understood how I felt about giving up my running goals.” It took Shoemaker about a year and a half to launch Cancer to 5k, and she’s proud of the outcome. “Part of my dream for Cancer to 5k was always that we could find a way to support any survivor who wants to try the program, no matter the circumstance (location or diagnosis) and the Ulman Fund is making that dream a reality,” she said. Although most participants are younger than 40, Cancer to 5k welcomes anyone regardless of their age. Julie Lanahan, a threeyear cancer survivor and mother of four, learned she had breast cancer at 38. She first heard about the program when she was receiving treatment; the CEO of the Ulman Cancer Fund visited her hospital room and talked about finishing cancer treatment and then finishing a race. Lanahan thought he was crazy. She didn’t consider herself an athlete and had to take two years off of exercise while she was in the hospital. In the summer of 2012, she was finally cleared for physical activity. It was a clean slate, and she decided to join Cancer to 5k. “My body was fairly weak and I really doubted whether I would be able to keep up with the rest of the team. I made it a priority to make it to each practice, despite how frustrated I was about my physical strength and capability,” Lanahan said. “It was pretty challenging,” she said about restarting an exercise program, but the

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key to Cancer to 5k is that no one runs alone. In just a few months, Lanahan arrived at the start of the Baltimore Running Festival 5k. “It was a beautiful October morning. As we left the start, I felt strong for the first time since my diagnosis.” She ran with her coach, Meg Shipman, and two “sherpas,” coaches and guides who volunteer with the program, the entire way. Since then, she has completed an Irongirl triathlon relay, from Key West to Baltimore with almost a dozen other cancer survivors, and finished an Irongirl triathlon. At times, training seemed to parallel her recovery. “As long as you’re moving forward, you’re making progress,” Lanahan said. To date, 126 survivors have completed the Cancer to 5k, with 44 of those survivors participating in the program in Washington D.C. Several participants have completed the program more than once, said Laura Scruggs, Program Manager for Special Engagement. Last June at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Purple Strides 5k, a group of 25 Cancer to 5k runners in yellow shirts gathered at Freedom Plaza, supported by about 100 race-day volunteers, coaches, and sherpas. Many of the program participants talked about the benefits of exercise for cancer patients. In the four months leading up to the Purple Strides 5k, Tori Selimis lost over 50 pounds and completed three other 5ks. “It was amazing to see the love and support of everyone involved with the Cancer to 5k race,” she said. “Most importantly I have learned friendship and that there are plenty of amazing people out there that have gone through the same thing as me. As for challenges, my biggest challenge was opening up about my cancer, as I normally keep it pretty well guarded and just touch on the things at the highest level.” Chris Davis, a sherpa, learned about Cancer to 5k from a friend at a wedding in 2011, and discovered it was a perfect outlet for his passion for athletics and philanthropy. Since his mom had breast cancer, he said he’s been a long-time cancer awareness supporter, but this program has been the “most supportive, welcoming and wonderfully resilient community that I have ever had the honor of being part of.” Sherpa Greg Dost talked with his Cancer to 5k running partner, Shawnté Hudgins, with whom he had built a special bond. His pride that Hudgins had completed her longest run ever that day stretched all the way to his calves, which read “Team Shawnté” in permanent marker. “The most inspiring moments in the program for me came each time our runners outdid themselves,” he said, adding that it was “a huge testament to how hard she trained all spring” when she maintained intervals of seven minutes of running followed by one minute of walking during the 5k. “It’s been the world to me,” Hudgins said about working with Dost. “He talked to me through the whole thing.”


Cancer to 5k coach and former participant Katie aNdeRsoN works with “sherpa” GReG dost. RUNWashington photo by Melissa doRN/ Lissa Ryan PhotogRaPhy

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NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2014 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUNWASHINGTON | 45


His parents gave him the name. He making it into a legend. Johnny Pace is now well into his senior year at Westfield High School in Virginia. And since winning the Potomac River Running Kick-Off Invitational two mile in a smooth 10:04, he’s continued to sharpen his game on the cross country course, but also at all the other things that make Johnny Pace, well, Johnny Pace. “Trying to find time for myself and my schoolwork is definitely a challenge, but I make it work,” Pace said. “There’s so much fun to be had in high school. I’ve never been one to limit myself to one endeavor. I have no regrets about it thus far. I believe balance is really important. It gives me the opportunity to meet a lot of nice people in a bunch of different social spheres.” He plays trumpet in the marching band. He serves as class president. He finds time to crack jokes on Twitter and plan for an ever-escalating Homecoming parade float competition. But he never really stops being a runner. His YouTube video campaign for senior class president shows him dressed in a full pirate costume on a sinking ship disguised as a float. His faux beard extends to his chest, and he stands with a triumphant knee raised. Aside from the ragged pants striped in red and black and the fake sword held high, his left wrist still has a watch on it. “Every other time than sleeping or showering, it’s one of my fashion accessories,” he said. The video lists his political accomplishments. “The class has seen its navy grow to levels unlike it’s ever seen before,” Pace said over a still frame of the pirate picture. “Our funds are absolutely through the roof. But I’m not done yet.” Then Pace sprints ahead, wearing a suit. His antics still communicate to the casual observer that running is Pace’s priority. Since joining the cross country team as a sophomore, after he worked out an arrangement to also stay in the band, his running has taken off. But never as much as in recent weeks. In talking about it, he announces something every area coach would love to hear from any of their runners, let alone a team leader. “There’s no mystery to it other than I took summer training very seriously and really committed to it,” he said. “I kind of indoctrinated myself with running. I base more of my decisions around it now as opposed to last year or the year before.” Keep smiling, coach Kelly Deegan. “I couldn’t tell myself I could make it

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up during the regular season. I’ve tried to adopt the runner’s lifestyle. It includes things outside just putting in miles. Sleeping. Eating right. Making the right decisions about how much I’m exerting myself outside workouts. I believe it all makes a difference.” He’s also incorporated more stretching after an overuse injury left him cheering from the bleachers for most of his junior track season. Unlike his first two years when he said he merely admired the area’s top runners, Pace said he’s excited to race with them step for step in 2014. And he’s doing it, with a third place finish at the Oatlands Invitational and fifth place in the DCXC senior race. Then he topped it off with a photo-finish win at the Oktoberfest Invitational. “I recognize there’s a bunch of really talented guys who want a state title. I’ll do the best I can to be the best runner I can be,” he said. “If that means a state title, that would be a dream come true.” The goal remains an ideal to shoot for, but, as is typical with Pace, the win remains in the process, not the outcome. “I’d like to see myself continue to make improvements and develop myself.” And the state meet doesn’t even sit alone on his list of top goals. Break the Westfield High School boys’ team record for the Burke Lake course. Qualify for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. Keep that momentum rolling into Foot Locker Nationals. These weighty goals fit the runner. Pace will be the first to tell you that his focus and determination in training and racing find their match in other aspects of his life. “I’ve always tended to be lighthearted and not take anything too seriously. Being a good person is just as important as being a good runner or a good class president. I think personality goes a long way. I always want to be that guy who people can feel comfortable talking to or joking around with.” He wore a tuxedo in his school ID picture, an outfit complete with a Mexican-style lucha libre wrestling mask, blue with red and gold wings adorning the sides. Pace posted that on Twitter a week before his actual senior pictures, and the photographer’s daughter saw it and passed it along to her dad. “It was crazy the guy who was taking my real senior pictures had seen my fake senior picture. He was pretty amused with it.” That’s how Pace likes his world – full of laughter and jokes that happen across his spectrum of activities. “If I’m thinking running 24/7, then I’d probably get pretty tired of it. Being able to have fun after a workout is maybe part of a good recovery process.”


Photo by Ed LuLL

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Roughly 20,000 copies of the Washington Running Report sit on then-Publishers Kathy and Rick Freedman’s porch, ready for distribution. PHOTO COURTESY OF KATHY FREEDMAN

BY DICKSON MERCER

Thirty years ago, Mark Baldino and Temple “Tem” Washington - friends, training partners, and founders of Colonial Running Company launched a magazine. They named it Washington Running Report. Why? “It just made sense,” Baldino said. “It is what it is.” Week after week, Baldino and Washington would load up a bus - formerly WETA’s mobile broadcast station - with a roughly 80-pound computer and head to races they managed. “Modern day adventure is what I call it,” Baldino said. Washington Running Report, founded in that same spirit, started out in tabloid-style format, black and white, carrying a mix of race reports and runner rankings. Baldino was the publisher while two members of his Colonial team wrote and edited most of the content, which they’d cut and paste together, arrange by hand on paper, and finally send off to the printer. Ten years after launching Colonial, Baldino and Washington sold it, including all of it assets, to Rick and Kathy Freedman, who were then leading race management operations for Montgomery County Road Runners. “I said, ‘The magazine?’ said Kathy Freedman, recalling the negotiations. “I hadn’t even thought about that.” But “I jumped in and started doing it,” she said. “And I quickly realized what an asset [the magazine] was: having a voice in the running community.” With plenty of regular contributors George Banker, Jim Hage, Steve Nearman WRR expanded its coverage of the regional running scene as traditional media outlets did the opposite. Freedman added pages, and new content in the areas of injury prevention, nutrition, even topics like Chi running. It was mostly a

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one-woman editorial team, though Freedman, who developed a sharp editing eye that shaped WRR’s tone and style, did have some help from James Moreland, who reported on races, helped bundle up the content for each issue and eventually took over the runner rankings from Chan Robbins. The Freedmans, meanwhile, didn’t hesitate to start publishing their content online, even early on when “no one knew exactly what a website was,” Kathy Freedman said. Brenda Barrera became WRR’s Editorial Director in 2009. “I looked forward to working with the Freedmans,” she said, “because I was impressed that they invested time and effort to create a robust, comprehensive online calendar along with the best source for race results in the Mid-Atlantic region.” Barrera helped upgrade WRR to a glossy magazine. She increased coverage from local contributors, hired more local photographers, and spearheaded special yearlong editorial features. In 2012, the magazine’s history came full circle. The Freedmans, ready to retire after 18 years leading Capital Running Company and this publication, sold all of their assets to Pacers Events. The magazine was once again a question mark - but not for long. With Kathy Dalby as our publisher, Charlie Ban as our editor-in-chief, a still-long list of contributors, and our friends at Azer Creative, we’re working hard to carry the torch into a new era. Rebranded as RunWashington, we’ve refocused our print coverage on D.C. and on local storytelling, continued to cover races and rank runners online, and now cover high school running, too. After 20 years, that bus finally had to be replaced. But in another sense - 30 years into this - we’re still on it: heading to the races each weekend, telling the story of a community, celebrating running.


Profile for RunWashington Magazine

Run Washington - November/December 2014  

Run Washington - November/December 2014

Run Washington - November/December 2014  

Run Washington - November/December 2014

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