Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Last Day Without a Jog: 1971

Very interesting article on WSJ that you can find by clicking here or just read the text below.

And my wife thinks that I am crazy.......

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By Scott Cacciola

On Tuesday, Jon Simpson, a retired dentist from Memphis, Tenn., will have run at least a mile every day for 40 years. He joins five other Americans who have accomplished the feat.

Barring a catastrophe on the order of the Earth spinning off its axis Tuesday, Jon Simpson will rise at dawn and do something he has done every single day since Aug. 30, 1971: He will go for a jog.

This will take place without fanfare at a quiet pumping station adjacent to Simpson's home in Memphis, where he lives with his wife Caroline. A retired dentist, Simpson will cover four loops in 33 minutes on the same well-worn path. When he's finished, he'll become only the sixth person in the U.S. who has ever jogged at least one mile, every day, for 40 years.

In a nation that likes to glorify sports benchmarks—3,000 hits, 1,000 yards, 56 games—it's hard to know what to make of Simpson. A soft-spoken septuagenarian with a bit of a paunch, he doesn't look like anyone's image of an elite athlete. He's not in this for the attention. "I live a pretty mundane life," he said.

The only thing dazzling about his achievement is the almost unfathomable force of discipline that has driven it. "I'm just glad to get my first 40 under my belt," he joked.

According to the U.S. Running Streak Association, which began to chart running streaks in 2001, there are 286 registrants on its books who have run every day for at least one year. But before Tuesday there were only five people, all men, who'd run every day for more than 40 years.

Mark Covert, a 60-year-old college track coach from Lancaster, Calif., owns the association's longest streak. He has run at least one mile "unaided," per the association's rules, since July 23, 1968.

To get there, Covert said he's dealt with a Dickensian list of obstacles. There was the day he got spooked by a rattlesnake, fell and broke his ankle (he spent the next few weeks jogging with a laced-up boot). There was the morning he underwent minor knee surgery and had to "hobble" around the next day—an experience he describes as "not too horrible." A congenital issue with flat feet has caused him severe back pain.

Mr. Simpson's plaque honors the daily run he has done without missing a day for more than 40 years.

After tearing his meniscus this summer, Covert does acknowledge having considered calling it quits, particularly when it has taken him 20 minutes to put on his socks. But he cannot stop, refuses to stop. "What we're doing is not a mark of intelligence," he said.

Steve DeBoer, another member of the club who has run every day for 14,694 straight days, said he's taken extreme measures to preserve his streak. When his family took a trip to Australia, he made sure to book a long enough layover in Los Angeles to squeeze in a jog along the Pacific. He was worried about the time change. "What these guys do…" said his wife, Gail, her voice trailing off.

"Most people just think you're crazy," said Jon Sutherland, a 60-year-old writer from West Hills, Calif., who ranks No. 2 behind Covert on the association's list. Sutherland, who once ran with a broken hip that took nine months to heal, keeps a list of his "50 dumbest runs," which he said is under constant revision. He still considers himself more sane than others. "One guy told me he once ran on the deck of a boat in the middle of a hurricane," he said.

Sutherland and Covert, former track teammates at Los Angeles Valley College, are the grand poobahs of streak running. Neither has missed his daily jog since the moon landing. In May 1969, after college, Covert told Sutherland he'd been so inspired by the British distance runner Ron Hill that he'd been running every day for about 10 months. Sutherland laced up his sneakers and followed suit. He's been running daily since, covering some 185,000 miles, which equates to roughly seven and a half circumnavigations of the globe. During one 28-year stretch, he averaged more than 100 miles a week. "I'm 300 days behind Mark," Sutherland said, "and I can never catch him."

If you're wondering how we know these men have run every single day without cheating, the answer is: We don't. The whole enterprise is based on the honor system. "You can't have a notary out there every day clocking you in and clocking you out," Simpson said.

That said, each member of the group knows what the others have endured over the decades. When Covert informed Sutherland, in 2008, that he didn't have any plans to commemorate his 40th anniversary, Sutherland drove out to run with him.

Covert said he's often heard people say they're going to try to join the club—but he knows they never will. If you're 30 years old and would like to equal what he's done, he noted, you'd have to run at least once a day until you're 73.

DeBoer, the dietician, started his streak June 7, 1971, which puts him fifth on the association's list. He often tackles the 11-mile roundtrip between his home and his job at the Mayo Clinic, where he works with patients who have problems such as diabetes and obesity.

He owns 30 pairs of running shoes, he said, including one from 1980 with 6,000 miles on them. When executives from the sneaker company Brooks heard about that, they sent him a free pair. "Of course, now I have about 2,000 miles on the free pair," he said. DeBoer estimates that he has accrued more than 135,000 miles since he began his streak—an estimate he recently had to adjust downward.

In December, DeBoer picked up a watch with GPS and discovered one of his favorite running routes was two-tenths of a mile shorter than he thought. "So I had to subtract 260 miles from my total," he said. "That was unfortunate."

Another member of the elite club is Ken Young, a 69-year-old software developer from Petrolia, Calif., who started his streak July 6, 1970. He said debilitating knots in his leg muscles once turned a 1-mile jog into a 40-minute ordeal. That was nothing, he said, compared to the day after taking a hard fall, when he defied doctor's orders and jogged 1.1 miles with new plates in his broken wrists.

Jim Pearson, a 67-year-old retired high school teacher from Bellingham, Wash., who has a 41-year streak, told of a scary episode with blood clots in his lungs. For him, "streaking" has been a family affair: His 25-year-old son Joel started his own current streak when he was 7 and now ranks as a favorite to someday supplant Covert.

All these men say running is simply something they enjoy. Sutherland said he loves to break a sweat and fill his lungs with fresh air. Covert is drawn to what he describes as the "discipline" of the pursuit.

DeBoer has heart disease in the family. Simpson began running to strengthen his legs after contracting polio as a teenager. Now 73, he still walks with a limp—a limp that is barely perceptible when he runs. He has never stopped.

Write to Scott Cacciola at Scott.Cacciola@wsj.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

UTMB -- PRE RACE 2011 Video

Damn, now I want to head off to the mountains for a run. Great video.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick Pikes Report

Well not a lot to say but that I guess I was sandbagging in my last post a little bit.

I went down the night before and stayed with the wife at the firehouse at the start line where she works. This is so nice to have this option. In the next few years I plan on doing the double and this will hopefully still be an option for free housing that weekend.

Anyways, I started in wave 2 and just cruised on a moderate hard pace up the hill. I did not want to put any real hard effort until after I broke treeline. I caught my first 1st Wave person about 3 miles up and for the next 10 miles to the finish it was 2 1/2 hours of saying "on your left", that got old real quick, especially the A-holes who thought because they were in the 1st wave that they did not have to share the trail or did not want to get passed by a second waver. There was a couple of times I had to elbow my way past someone.

Anyway ended with a 3:03:52 for 60th overall and 11th in my age group. I think that if I would not have had to pass so many people and if I would not have stopped for a beer 1/4 mile from the top of the mountain I would have broke 3 hours. There will always be a next time.

Results can be seen here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pikes Peak Ascent thoughts.

Well this weekend will be a fun new adventure for me. I will be running the Pikes Peak Ascent on Saturday which is about 13.3miles and 7500ft of gain. This a major mountain race in the Colorado region and is what some dudes like this guy live for. My plan is to just go and have fun running it under 4:15 so that I have a Wave 1 qualifier for the next 3 years in case I decide to run this again. The reasoning behind my outlook of not really racing it hard is that I am stuck in Wave 2 behind about 1000 people due to the fact that I did not have a fast marathon or half marathon time in the last 3 years to put me in Wave 1 since I have only been running trails. I had to use a trail marathon as a qualifier and of course it was not fast enough for Wave 1, oh well. I think I am in 3:00-3:15 shape but I expect to run between 3:45-4:00 with all the passing I will have to do even when running at an easy pace.

Should be fun!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekend- Boulder Ironman 70.3

I was planning on doing the Audubon Duathlon this weekend but the wisdom of my wife convinced me that I need to ride farther than 12 miles in a single sitting before attempting this huge climbing bike ride. So on Sunday I rode my mountain bike all loaded up with gear from the house out to the Boulder Rez to watch my buddy Neal finish his first Half Ironman. While waiting for him to come off the bike I was able to get in a good 12 mile run around the Rez. This gave me a good 45 miles on the mountain bike and 12 miles of running, not a bad slow endurance training day.

Here are some photos of the race that I took and a video.