Blog Archives

Rogue Haiku by JT Sullivan

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Last I was heard from

Limericks were my style

This time, Haiku tempts

 

In poetic prose

Syllables: five, seven, five

My story told here…

 

The demon tendon

Achilles, not of Greek fame

Slain, like sons of Troy

 

Training commences

My breath like sharp needles sting

My legs, hardened clay

 

Day by day, pain exists

A pain I welcome; A pain

I had once thought lost

 

With each stride, sharp dulls

With each stride, clay turns to dust

Those behind can dine

 

Fitness supplants pain

Strength and endurance blossom

Speed supplants weakness

 

The memory fades

The demon tendon is no more

A faint afterthought

 

The track becomes home

A familiar residence

From which I vanished

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I make plans to stay

This home is where my dream grows

Goals…desire…hope

 

But fate intervenes

A new demon shows his face

Hamstring is his name

 

Fitness disappears

Agony and ache arrive

Notice of evict

 

A new home is found

A place of foam and rubber

Roll, stretch, ice and rest

 

Fortitude strengthens

Perseverance resolute

Patience is practiced

 

The path continues

A road to recovery

The dream is not dead

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Glide Boost Review

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by Austin “The Bus” Bussing

Welcome to the first installment of the Rogue Athletic Club product review! This will be a bi-weekly post featuring descriptions and reviews of products used by our stellar athletes here at Rogue AC. The first product to be reviewed here is the adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 shoe. Many runners here at Rogue (myself included) have come to love this shoe for its durability and reliability on everyday training runs.

Before diving into the touchy-feely, subjective and equivocal drivel that comprises most shoe reviews (and will certainly play a significant role in this one as well), let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about the specs for the Supernova Glide Boost. Here’s what we know:

Weight: 11.3 ounces (Men’s Size 9); 9.2 ounces (Women’s Size 7)

“Drop” (heel-to-toe differential): 10 millimeters

Midsole cushioning composition: 55% Boost, 45% EVA foam

Want a better look?  Check out the MEN’S SHOE HERE and the WOMEN’S SHOE HERE.

In light of these numbers, let’s start our discussion with a blatant declaration of what the Glide Boost is NOT. Weighing in at a hefty 11.3 ounces, this shoe is not a lightweight trainer. It is not nearly as light or sleek or sexy or fast as the beautiful Boston Boost. If you’re looking for a good lightweight shoe to crush a Town Lake tempo or some quick intervals on the track… this is not your shoe. It feels a bit heavy and clunky, and the numbers above bear that out.

Those things being said, this review was never intended to be an all-out roast of the Glide Boost. As most good runners and coaches will tell you, the amount of time spent scalding dogs on Town Lake or tearing up the Austin High Track is relatively miniscule compared to the time spent knocking out the long, easy miles that comprise the bulk of your training load. Who’s gonna be with you every step of the way on those long runs, medium distance runs, and easy days? The Supernova Glide Boost 7- that’s who. This is not the glamour shoe; it’s the workhorse shoe. The great Arthur Lydiard once said, “Miles make champions.” Well, the Glide Boost will reliably get you through the miles that will make you a champion. So basically the Glide Boost will make you a champion, guaranteed.*

*Not an actual guarantee.

All joking aside, I stand 100% behind this shoe as an effective tool to help grind through the high-volume demands of a marathon build-up or a long track season. Its considerable heft is not all negative – that bulk goes a long way towards protecting your feet and keeping your legs feeling fresh (following the same basic logic as the “More Cushion for the Pushin’” theorem). Despite the 11.3 ounce weigh-in, the Boost in the midsole gives this shoe the responsive feel you’ve come to expect from adidas. The outsole, with its vertically segmented forefoot, provides just the right mix of flexibility and rigidity. Another “techy” feature that actually lends some real functionality to the Glide Boost is the “Torsion System” – essentially a plastic ‘bridge’ piece through the midfoot portion of the outsole that connects the heel with the forefoot. This little guy helps facilitate a smooth transition from your midfoot stance phase through the toe-off, so that you can really GLIDE through your run. Of course, the Continental Rubber tread provides excellent grip on any surface to prevent too much gliding/sliding.

Let’s talk uppers! While adidas has been known to make some pretty narrow-fitting shoes, the Glide Boost is a bit of an exception. The upper feels very roomy, and while the sock-like construction of the midfoot/tongue provides a supportive fit, it will not feel too restrictive or tight on most feet. The women’s version of this shoe features a techfit upper meant to stretch and adapt to all foot shapes. This is especially helpful in the toebox, as it can help alleviate the all-too-common problems that arise from cramming your toes in a shoe that is too narrow. This comfortable, stretchy upper is very accommodating to your forefoot, allowing your toes to splay apart on the impact of each step – without hindrances from needless, oppressive overlays.

In short, the adidas Supernova Glide Boost 7 is a great shoe for all levels of runners looking to put in some long mileage on the roads (or around Town Lake). It will not blow you away with the fast, versatile feel of the Boston Boost, but when it comes to easy days and long runs, this shoe gets the job done. In many ways, I believe this shoe is the unsung hero of the adidas running line – the hardscrabble grinder that shies away from the glitz and glam of the limelight. While you’re out there crushing it on the track or in a road race, the Glide Boost will be sitting humbly at home on your bedroom floor with a contented grin, knowing that the incendiary speed you’re displaying is made possible by the day-to-day dependability and consistency that only it could provide.

The Glide Boost retails for $130. Come by Rogue Running at 410 Pressler Street to try a pair on for yourself!

And Sometimes You Don’t Want to Run Indoor

A lot has transpired since I joined Rogue AC – JT gracefully made his way back into the racing scene, Carl’s hair reached/possibly surpassed Steve’s hair length, Sarah finally got to go to altitude to train, I think I avoided several broken ankles through physical therapy with SPI, and many people had very incredible performances. Alli got her Olympic marathon qualifier and Kristen’s ran an impressive USA Indoor nationals 2 mile, just to name a couple.

In an effort to avoid too dull of a blog, I’ll try and err on the side of brevity. For anyone who does not know me, cross country is not particularly “my thing”. I have an abundance of respect for the athletes who thrive in the hills, mud, and grass I just prefer a flatter more predictable route. But, since leaving college I’ve really worked on embracing cross country a bit more (which is easier to do when you only have to commit yourself to 2 races for the year). So I strapped on my adidas spikes in December and I was fortunate enough to have them run my feet all the way to Scotland (people should really invest in a pair of adizero spikes, they’re exceptionally good at turning people international) and that was pretty neat. I’d never been outside the continental US so needless to say it was a pretty incredible experience, despite being someone who is not necessarily pro-elements (wind, ice, rain, hills, creeks running through the course, etc.). 

Such an amazing opportunity did come at a bit of a price: extending my cross season well beyond what it normally is. I love running, I really do, but sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I just want to take a break, and sometimes I don’t want to run indoor and I kind of think that’s ok. My dad once told me to choose my battles, which is an incredibly difficult piece of advice to follow for me in particular (I’m sure Mark Feigen could easily validate that for you). But I realized that I want to be able to show the hard work Steve, Ruth, Anthony, and SPI put into me, through my performances. I’d also really like to be able to give a nice big thank you to Adidas, and my parents of course, for their support via some low numbers on the track, that’s why I decided to skip over indoors and focus on outdoors. 

So that’s kind of what I’ve been doing the past couple of months – not running indoor. I decided it was a good time to get some solid training in, and Steve saw it as a prime opportunity to have me run some of my least favorite workouts and that’s where I am now, running workouts and excited for outdoor.

Mental Preparation

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It’s been a minute since I have given an update on how awesome life here in Austin is. I will go ahead and say that I am living the dream, baby! High-fives are greatly accepted. I am continuing to pursue my medical profession by working with the great Dr. Ted Spears along with the wonderful physical therapists at Sports Performance International. I have learned a surmountable amount of information on patient care, and the ever-enjoyable phone calls with insurance companies.

Tying into my medical career, I continue to train full-time with Rogue Athletic Club, and training has never been better since the move to Austin, Texas. Last year was a constant struggle with the early morning routines of hard workouts, lack of coffee, and mediocre race results; not to mention my season ending injury in May. Subsequent to our winter break, my training has turned completely around. This didn’t happen by what Steve calls “magic.” I credit the accountability of my training partners JT, Buss, Devin, Gowell, and Hick, mostly. Sure I have become a lot more disciplined by going into the weight room, doing speed development, drills, strides, nutrition, you name it, on my own accord, but it was because of my training partners that I developed the discipline. The group’s moral and comradery has never been better. It feels like family.

As aforementioned, training is going quite well. However, I do still have an occasional sub-par workout performance. I’d like to address the importance of keeping one’s composure of a perceptible “unacceptable” workout or race performance. Pheobe Wright’s article addressing this issue was spot on, and I wanted to articulate how I deal with “a bad day at the office.”

First off, realizing that you aren’t the exclusive athlete dealing with post-race or post-workout depression is a crucial step to getting over the issue. The sooner you get over it, the better. Why linger on something that isn’t a definitive test of your fitness? There are only two races to be ready for –the 2015 USA Championships and the 2016 Olympic Trials.   We all have an occasional mediocre, or just a piss-poor, race or workout. One thing I have come to realize is that one event does not define you as an athlete, or a person. It is how you subsequently assess the situation and what you do to prepare for the next race or workout, and how quickly you put it behind you. The mental struggle usually begins even before the gun goes off or before your coach says, “go” on your first interval. Mental preparedness is THE most important step to having a good session or race, but all athletes are head cases, and we occasionally fall short to mentally prepare, or just have negative thoughts. Yes, it’s going to hurt, A LOT, but that is the unwritten contract that every distance runner signs.

Steve reminds me to look at all the positives in my current training block. One negative experience does not make the holistic training block negative. There are unarguably more positives then there are negatives when comparing to a single workout or race. Again, it DOES NOT DEFINE YOU! Not only listening to your philosophical coach is valuable, but also being vulnerable to suggestion from your training partners is essential to one’s success to getting over the workout or race. Grab a beer, joke about how terrible it went, and have some more beer. Any IPA will do.

Accept that there are going to be obstacles thrown into your training. Reach out to the community around you, and most of all…continue to have fun with what you are doing. Til next time my friends.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a clinical psychologist.

Matt Cleaver is a member of Rogue Athletic Club, where he steeples, runs, eats, sleeps, prepares, repeats daily.   Sponsored by adidas and Rogue Running.

Churn by Chris Gowell

DSC07293It has been several months since my last dialogue. So much water under the bridge, so many more spike marks etched into my skin. In short, broke the Welsh national indoor record with a 3.57.2, ran the first sub 4 minute mile on Welsh soil in 20 years, raced some in Europe, and came 10th in the commonwealth games in what was the most magnificent experience of my life in front of some 50,000 people.

My wife Juliane and I travelled to Amsterdam, Istanbul, Dubai, Nepal, and then back to the USA to initiate training after a long and well-earned break.  Nepal was a blast. It reinitiated my love for running, it brought on a sense of primal instinct that awakens my passion for running. The day I have reached my full potential on the track, you’ll see me atop a mountain, in the woods or galloping a coastal path somewhere for miles and miles. Maybe I’ll challenge Paul Terranova someday?!

Running, I realize, has become method of mental stability, an avenue to birth a better day. Running is one of the only things in life I can truly control, I own it, It’s all me and no one else. Not many 800 meter/milers yearn for long reflective runs, but it is during such a time and places that life occurs: Motion and nature harmoniously coinciding. Memories and ambitions present themselves all at once, nothing makes sense but it’s as clear as day. Admittedly, this is a strange attitude as ‘professional’ track athlete, but I find it a useful way to enjoy running, be thankful for its gift while it lasts, meet good people on the way and take nothing for granted.nepal

Perhaps more relevant, I had a below par indoor racing season, however, training has been very deliberate this year and the outdoor season is bound to produce some head turning performances. I have been at Rogue since Jaunuary 2011, it’s hard to believe that all these years have passed, yet they are still standing by me along with a great support system. I have been monumentally fortunate in my time as an athlete and I will keep plugging away to produce the results I know are possible.

I was once told by a teacher in high school that ‘sport is a great leveler’. That statement will always be with me because it is through sport that all people are equal, particularly in running. That is what makes the running community so unique and special, whether it’s Rogue running or the Lliswerry Runners in Newport, South Wales: A runner is a runner at whatever standard, we all churn, we all work to a particular standard and a true runner knows what I mean in the 3rd paragraph.

I’m constantly reminded of this when I see droves of Rogue runners knocking out their long run and all returning with a smile their face, always checking in and asking how things are going. It is to all these supporters I owe so much to.

Here’s to keeping on churning

Cheers,

Gowell

Anne-other Update

by Anne Jones

Fall training this year has been going really well! A total 180° turn from last year, in fact. I began to associate cold weather and grass workouts with feeling like death after my iron-deficient stint of training last winter, but have been so pleasantly surprised lately with my fitness. Particularly because I am taking 21 hours of school and feel completely overwhelmed about 99% of the time. I have only been able to do one quality session per week and can only go to about half of the RogueAC practices due to class conflicts. But I have found that this may be what my body responds to best and is exactly what I need, both mentally and physically. I have always been afraid to back off from training, believing that I will get behind, but this semester has forced me to take two steps back in my approach and intensity. I am able to really focus on my one weekly workout and get more out of it than had I been trying to split my energy between two tough days, and can focus on school and recovery for the remainder of the week. In fact, I ran a low-key 5k in Houston two weeks ago (my first race since June) and ran 25 seconds faster than last year on the same course despite training only about half as much this year. Although this more relaxed approach obviously won’t and can’t last through track season, I think that coming out of this Fall fit, motivated, and healthy will really do a lot to help my track season.

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En route to the aforementioned PR

In other news, pharmacy school has been pushing me to my breaking point this semester, but, all things considered, is still going pretty well. I’m counting down the class days left, though (13!). Next semester I will have a much lighter class load, which is going to be great for traveling to meets and for focusing more on track. I will move to Houston next summer for one year of rotations then will graduate the following summer in 2016 (finally!). My fiancé Daniel is in medical school at UT Houston, so I am really excited to finally be with him and start our wedding planning (eee!).

I have one more race planned for the Fall (the Dallas Turkey Trot) and am so excited to get another good 5k effort in before I transition my training for track. I have never felt so strong coming out of Fall training and am more optimistic for this track season than I have been in years.

5×5: Life After Running

by Mia Behm

Many people wonder, what’s out there for us once our running careers are over. After surveying several candidates, one interviewee in particular stood out the most – Mark P. Feigen.

For those of you who don’t know Mark Feigen, he’s best known for being one of the tallest runners to partake in Columbia cross country and track and field, for his role in The Real Maine and for his World Record viewing of all 4 seasons of Game of Thrones in a mere 36 hours, 34 minutes, and 35 seconds (disbelief can be addressed with proof seen below).

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An achievement so great it brought time to a halt.

More important, though, is his recent muscle growth.

Since the completion of his running eligibility at Columbia, Mark has decided to hang up the spikes and pick up the iron, specifically via 5×5.

If you’re not familiar with 5×5 (or “StrongLifts”), there’s a good chance you’re not interested in getting “swoll.” Mark knows 5×5 and is obviously very interested in getting “swoll.”

Here’s a quick rundown of how 5×5 works:

You alternate between workout A and workout B completing 3 of 5 muscle exercises every day: Squat, bench, row, overhead press, and deadlift

A:  Squat, Bench, Row

B:  Squat, overhead press, deadlift

Each day you do 5 sets of 5 reps for each of the 3 exercises, 3 days a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

The goal is to start at a reasonably heavy weight for each exercise. Once you successfully complete all 5 sets for that exercise at your goal weight, the next time you do that exercise you will add 5 pounds (or 10 pounds for deadlift). This will ultimately lead to larger muscles and a more masculine frame.

A typical day in the life of an Austin-based, Columbia track and field alum.

A typical day in the life of an Austin-based, Columbia track and field alum.

When asking Mark why he chose 5×5, he had much to say regarding his new lifestyle and pursuit of happyness [sic]:

“As someone who has spent many years, going through countless workouts, injuries and comebacks in an effort to run faster on the track and seeing only marginal improvements at best, it’s a refreshing change of pace to be working at something (5×5) and feel like I am getting out as much or even more than I am putting in. Runners spend years trying to improve by seconds or even tenths or hundredths of seconds, but in less than 10 weeks of doing 5×5 I added hundreds of pounds to my squat, deadlift, etc. I won’t get into specific numbers because I don’t want to embarrass anyone (myself) but I am confident in saying that I am well on my way to being one of the stronger humans over 6 foot 2 inches to ever have come somewhat close to breaking 4 minutes in a mile relatively recently. Deep down, every man, and 50% of women, just want to be as ‘swoll’ as possible, and pushing the envelope in the weightroom until failure and also consuming 300+ grams of protein per day is the easiest way I can see to achieve that goal. There is currently a group of once-somewhat-elite-level track athletes from The University of Columbia in New York City who have rededicated themselves to pursuing ‘swollness’ at all costs. No one can be sure of how all of this will end, but it is surely an interesting development and worth following for some small subset of the general populous.”

So for those who worry about what will happen once they’re done logging miles, this study provides that that there is something to look forward to (at least for males), and that’s achieving a body representative of a very masculine build.

Joining Mark in the post-collegiate running, 5×5 scene are a few former teammates: Michael Weisbuch, Jeff Moriarty, Paul Corcoran, and Michael Murphy.

[In the event of full disclosure, Mark Feigen is the boyfriend of Mia Behm, the author of this blog].

Tracktown

by Becca Friday

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Kristen trying to distract attention away from her mismatched socks

This past summer I skipped the Austin heat and had the opportunity to reconnect, run, and work stride-by-stride with my old teammate, Alexi Pappas, in Eugene, Oregon.

My senior year at UO, Alexi transferred from Dartmouth College to finish up her 5th year of eligibility while starting grad school. Alexi brought just the right kind of energy the women’s team needed.  She seemed to be the missing link that unified our team and allowed us to believe in our bold dreams.  She’d come storming into the Bowerman Building wide eyed, ready to take on whatever challenge was set up for practice that day.  She always seems to be carrying several bags and backpacks stuffed with goodies from whatever local grocery, several workout outfits, and actually I just really have no idea what she was always carrying around… Anyways, Alexi’s unapologetic, aggressive “WE-CAN-DO-IT” attitude spread like wildfire. Her athletic talent and dedication to running is equally matched to her relationship with creative writing and filmmaking.

When Alexi wasn’t working out her first year at UO (2012/2013) she could be spotted around town at varies coffee shops or posted up in the living room of our crappy college house off campus.  Head phones on, huddled over her lap top with a sea of peppers and notes, Alexi was hard at work crafting the screen play for her second feature film, Tracktown. After a year plus of writing, re-writing, and re-writing, Alexi and co-director Jeremy Teicher had created a complex, quirky world of the elite runner and Eugene local, Plum Marigold.  Alexi and Jeremy had asked me to play the role of Plum’s training partner and best friend, Whitney.  I believe in Alexi and Jeremy’s authentic vision for their art and admire their passion and relentless determination to complete their vision.  I said yes to the role having zero experience in front of the camera and no idea what I was getting into.  In May we spent a weekend filming the first scene at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward field, and completed the production late in August.

TRACKTOWN, the movie: A film about running to and running from.  Filmed on location in Eugene, OR.  Currently in post-production. The new independent film set in Eugene, OR.  Written & directed by Jeremy Teicher and Alexi Pappas.  Produced by Jay Smith and Laura Wagner.

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“When running for a movie, between takes, we do like this, see.” -Alexi Pappas

WHO is in Tracktown???

  • Andy Buckley, who played CEO David Wallace of Dunder Mifflin in “The Office,” plays Pappas’ father. Rachel Dratch of Saturday Night Live plays Pappas’ mother.
  • Olympian Nick Symmonds
  • Renee Baillie – Elite runner in Bend, OR
  • Recharge Recovery Sport lounge specialist
  • Kimber Mattox – Elite Runner and 2014 Warrior Dash World Champion

Also, Nick Symmonds announces the Launch of Run Gum™
 The track and field star introduces his new performance enhancing gum, the smarter caffeine kick for athletes.

 

My current Austin Hot spots for training and adventure:

-Rogue Running Store Downtown

-Sports Performance Physical Therapy…back-popping-toe-bench-pressing stuff

-Blenders and Bowls acai cafe DT

-Public library (you might also run into local street corner celebrity or Austin Bussing)

-Hycalon Coffee DT

-Boggy Creek Farm local veggies and produce!

-Fulmore middle school coaching with Marathon High.

-Biking around town lake sat morning making sure Marathon High the kids aren’t running all the way to the airport…

-Thrift-store sifting with Mary Goldkamp. Searching for the perfect rug that ties the room together.

-Yoga! Pure Austin gym, Wanderlust yoga studio

-Whole Foods (it’s so Damn convienent…)

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“You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas!” -Davy Crockett

Favorite Austin location:

-My new front porch playing with the neighborhood pit-bull

A Tale of Twin Cities

by Jeff Sadler

It was a cool August evening in Ocean City. We had just finished dinner, and I made my way downstairs to get ready for bed. The windows were open, and the stars now seemed near enough to reach out and touch in all of their twinkling brilliance. A gentle breeze made its way across the room, dropping the temperature and bringing with it a scent of memories from past trips to the beach as a kid.

Bob, my employer from a newly-minted job opportunity, had invited me up to the Jersey Shore for the week prior to the US 20k Championships. This was both for work-related purposes and also as a short reprieve before I hopped on a train bound for New Haven, CT. I had come to know Bob as a friend through his son, with whom I ran and roomed at Baylor. Over the past several months, I’ve been grateful for his example of 1) how priorities should be shaped and 2) how to balance God’s many gifts and entrusted responsibilities. Rest had been no exception to his example, and I’m reminded that it is an action of humility, as if to say, “My energy and capabilities are limited, but You, O Lord, still sustain and restore me time and again.”

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The only Baylor flag in Ocean City.

My trip to the NE for the 20k Champs was definitely the more urgent item at hand, but the more important race would be the US Marathon Championships in a month. Thus, I had sent a brief email to an elite athlete recruiter for the host Twin Cities Marathon and received a reply informing me they would respond if they opened up the field, given my time was just above the qualifying standard. It was now Thursday, a week later, and restlessness was building.

I couldn’t help but have frustration from the past few years. Was this worth continuing? Amidst all of my chasing of the wind during recent months, I had come to the brink of calling it a career. My patience and motivation were waning as I thought back over the last 5 marathons that I had attempted to train for and compete in…injury, injury, injury, injury, cancelled due to weather. Was this going to be a disappointing sixth missed opportunity? Was I overlooking some clue here? Should I move on and focus solely on my post-running career? I decided to take a walk and left my phone on the bed. I couldn’t bother refreshing the email any more hoping for that blue dot and corresponding ding.

I stepped into the night and crossed the street barefoot to reach the sand. Most of the tourists and residents had long since made their way home, so the only conversation came from the waves. The moon was full tonight and provided subtle light and gravitational pull on creation below. I walked a bit down the coast, the occasional evening jogger and solitary seagull gliding by, trying to enjoy the evening and shift my perspective. We had flown down this same coast earlier in the day on a friend’s private plane. It was amazing the new insight that flight brought as to the ample activity transpiring around us…a boardwalk with thousands of people that had gone unnoticed, a Ferris wheel, and miles of marshland sprawling off into the horizon. Kind of like this moment and many times before where I’m so focused on the now and the me, that I forget to take into account where I’ve been, where I’m going, who’s involved, and the unseen pieces being orchestrated into place.

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Bay-side shot of the Jersey Shore, looking out into the Atlantic.

I turned around and ambled towards the house still pondering. Stepping across the threshold, I found a lone email in my inbox:

          “Congratulations!!!

          We are opening our field and will be able to provide you a comp entry into the US Men’s Championship field on Oct 5th in the Twin Cities.   I have attached a registration link along with directions. Please do this as soon as possible.

           Let me know if you have other questions.”

Hmmm…yeah, I’d say that’s a prime example. Praise God!

One month later – US Marathon Champs…

What is that sound?!!…oh yeah, my alarm. Reaching over, I slid my finger across the screen…5:00AM. I laid there a second, gathering my thoughts, before slowly making my way to the bathroom. Singlet and bib, shorts, and flats with timing chip lay off to the side – the white Rogue AC lettering contrasting nicely against the cool blue Adidas apparel in the ambient light. I had organized everything the night before, knowing that I wouldn’t want any unnecessary responsibility this morning.

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 One of the cooler kits I’ve worn – race-day blue!

I stuck my head underneath the sink, threw on some clothes, and made my way up to the hospitality suite. Many of the athletes were already bustling about…some stumbling around, others teeming with excitement like they had been awake for hours. Coffee, bagels, bananas, granola, yogurt, peanut butter, toast, oatmeal, and more were spread across multiple tables – every possible request on the morning of a marathon accommodated. I saw Dave and gave a quick, “Good morning” and “Thank you!” Not only had he accepted my entry into the field (email above), but yesterday, he had made it possible for me to have access to an elite aid station setup. Typically for this race, only the top 20 seeded athletes are allowed their own fluids throughout the race, and my bib read “41.” So, clearly this would have meant utilizing the cups of water and Gatorade handed out by volunteers if not for his suggestion to see if one of those top athletes had withdrawn.

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The bottles that went Rogue.

I walked back to the elevator, shoeless and with bagel and steaming cup of coffee in hand, turning my attention to the race. I had a few minutes to read and relax before gathering my stuff and heading down to catch the bus to the start line. The exhaust visible in the crisp air indicated to every onlooker that it was a chilly morning…good news!

Scotty was already on board, and I made my way back to an open seat next to him. We exchanged a few words before I put in some headphones and started thinking about what my coach, Steve Sisson, and I had talked about…conservative early, first 5 miles at 5:50 pace…then, no faster than 5:40 until the hill at mile 20…run the hill, time will most likely be 15-30 sec slower…then launch down the hill…resulting in a PR. The bus lurched forward as nerves stirred a bit and lyrics streamed truths into my head and heart.

After arriving and resting for half an hour in a hotel lobby across the square, Dave led the procession of athletes to the baggage drop area, adjacent to the starting line. I wondered what the average spectator or runner thought as we passed by…if they knew the thoughts that each of us carried. Did they see us as unapproachable with Adidas plastered over everything, or did they realize that I would relish having a genuine conversation with them? Scotty, Allison, and I had done a 10-minute warm-up and were now incorporating drills, stretching, and strides. A few minutes later, the national anthem, a last-minute bathroom break, and then game time!

The horn rung loud and true – piercing the morning chill with swift reassurance as runners poured across the line. I couldn’t help but smile as I settled in, confidently letting the first group go, and preparing myself for the effort to come. This race was the culmination and continuation of a great amount of growth that had stemmed from this latest stretch of the story.

A reassuring nod of encouragement came from Steve at mile 4 – very conservative as planned. Scott’s dad, mom, and wife were at mile 7…thumbs up – feeling good and starting to get into a rhythm. I grabbed a quick swig of water and PowerBar gel at mile 8. Dad and mom cheered on at mile 11…big smile…well, at least on the inside – starting to roll now. Guys are coming back, as I begin to reap the benefit of patiently waiting my turn. My aunt and two cousins wave and take pictures at mile 14…sub-5:30 pace now. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, Jeff. Lyrics from this morning, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise,” flood my mind. Deep breath, calm…focus.

Last gel at mile 17 as I pass a few runners…spectator yells out, “22, 23…Sadler (written on my bib), you’re #24! Catch those guys.” What…? My seed is 41. Don’t be overwhelmed, keep your cadence. Forget the seed times, they’re meaningless. Mile 20 came just before the hill – 5:16…oops, a little fast. Legs are fatiguing a bit, but I’ve come too far. Come on, Jeff, lift your head and keep picking guys off. Steve at mile 21… “This is it. You have to focus.” The pace is dropping off, but I recalled what Steve had said… “The pace will slow on the hill.” Don’t let go yet. More lyrics fill my mind: “I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.” Another wave of determination takes hold.

Jeff 5

Mile 14 – Photo cred to my cousin, Nicholas, and his brother, Christopher.

We finally crest the hill and I see St. Paul’s Cathedral – majestic and reverent with the sun beginning to peek around the historic dome rising above. There it is; the finish line…one quarter of a mile left straight downhill. My calves are shot; lights are starting to flicker…just…hold…on. The masses line both the left and right sides of the finishing stretch. The chute takes up the entire street, and I am nearly all alone…giving it a surreal atmosphere and magnifying the aura of a US Championship as confirmed by the banner in front of me now. This…this is the completion of so much more than just a race, more than just answering the question, “How did I get here?;” but a checkpoint to remind myself of Who this is all for and the purpose of this striving.

My body was spent in those last steps, as I struggled to stay on my feet. 2:25:58, :59, 2:26:00, :01. 2:26:01 for 26.2 miles, over a 3-minute PR. Deep breath. Volunteers rush to hold me up and walk me to the recovery tent. No matter how feeble I was in that moment, I had run with perseverance and finished with a full heart. I could rest, be still, and know that God is good. This is a race worth running.

A Weekend Away

by Kristen Findley

This past weekend the masses flooded into Austin to indulge in the ACL experience, which mostly consists of intoxicating your body with sunshine and alcohol, and your mind with music and maybe some drugs. I did it last year and apart from it being G-rated compared to Manchester’s Bonnaroo experience, it was decently enjoyable. This year, now that I am mature and all, I was not sorry to abandon the debauchery and take to the back country of Texas with my Rogue AC compadres for our team retreat.

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A $275 view of Downtown Austin

A weekend away from the ongoing stimulation and vehicle exhaust that Austin emanates seemed like a shoe-in for relaxation and a literal breath of fresh air, but there wasn’t too much relaxation between the 30 miles of running, the 6+ hours of emotionally charged discussion, the 8 meals, and the many rounds of some card game that involved no winner and some asses, some kissing, and some ass kissing, amongst other publicly humiliating events. Instead, there was something else that transpired, equally as needed, and in many ways similar to JT Sullivan’s recent transformation.

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JT: Homeless bum to dashing young man!

Our team went from having its true feelings veiled by some amorphous unkempt obstruction to full expression, exposure, and embracement of who we really are underneath all that hair. Through defining and admitting our personal goals to ourselves and each other, and by elucidating how to shape the team to best reach those goals, we emerged from the depths of the back country feeling motivated, united, and more handsome than ever.

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Feet

I feel extremely lucky to have such a wonderful support system at Rogue and I’m feeling completely inspired for the next chapter of my running (which will involve calf and arm sleeves). I’ll be racing the Run for the Water 10 miler at the end of October, and the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving Day, so check out my twitter (kfinstotheleft) for results from those. In the meantime, I will be running lots (working up to 85 miles per week!), sleeping lots (a new commitment to myself for recovery purposes), and saving my spare $$ for a planned relapse to my festival days at Fun Fun Fun Fest (taking place in early November).

As always, PEACE, LOVE, and ROCK & ROLL ❤

KFin