Vol. 7 No.4 August 2002




I wondered "what am I doing here," as I warmed up in the heat of the summer afternoon. I was preparing to run a one mile race on the streets of downtown Boulder, in a race known as the "Pearl Street Mile." Some of the best masters age runners in the country were present and running in my "wave" of the event. I knew I was going to be buried. I also knew my last couple of races hadn't been all that great, and my confidence was down a bit. I felt flat and heavy as I warmed up. What was I doing there?

The feel of this event is electric, as the streets are lined with spectators for each race. The first race is a community run for those who just want to participate, but don't care so much about competing, called the "mass wave." This is followed by the high school race, which is for both boys and girls. Next is the "Beauty and the Beast" wave for masters women and men 50 and over. Those of us who are male and 40-49 then have a wave all to ourselves before the open men women and men finally show everyone how to really race. While it's great to have a race for just the 40-49 men, it is also a little intimidating. There is no place to hide, and when there were guys running who could dip into the 4:20's, I knew quite well I would be nowhere near the front.

I joked with a friend of mine who was riding the trailing bicycle not to run me over. There was promise, at least, that this fast group might pull me to a fast time. As I looked around while we were lining up at the starting line I realized I knew over half of the runners present. Some I had known for over two decades. We were all still on both feet and running. The starter, also a friend of mine for many years, shot the gun and we were off.

My legs were a tad rubbery, and the excitement of the moment had to be curbed a bit to keep from sprinting out too fast. The mile is a dash, but it must be a controlled dash. I could see a few runners were unable to hold back, and I knew they would become victims somewhere around the half to three-quarters mark. As I saw the leaders quickly pull away, I wondered again why I was here. Shorter races are certainly my favorites, and this is a great race in my own hometown, but I just hadn't had any zip in my legs lately. As I passed the 440 yard split, it was apparent that I wasn't going to have a very fast time. But, what was also becoming apparent was that there were a very large number of people watching the race who knew me. I was hearing my name over and over. As we made the turn just past the half mile, which leads to a long, slightly uphill stretch that just happened to be into the wind today, I knew the hardest part of the race was before me. This is also the part of the course that has the fewest spectators, and yet people were still cheering for me by name. Boulder Road Runners who were marshalling the course, friends from my last thirty-plus years of running, even friends who were not runners but who came to see this community event; all were yelling for me. Most had no idea that this would be the slowest competitive mile I had ever run. They urged me on as if I was near the front of the pack. I didn't notice the wind against me or the uphill grade, I just kept running.

Then I made the final turn onto the home stretch. I saw a blur of hundreds of people on each side of the course. Again, I heard my name, the names of the runners near me, and enthusiastic, anonymous cheers of encouragement. I knew I was running slowly. I knew that there were runners in front of me who I usually beat. But, I didn't wonder why I was here anymore. Where else would I be? Most of my friends were at this event.

Normally, running a poor time would put me into a blue funk. After the Pearl Street Mile, I walked around, talking with friends and absorbing the revelry of all the participants. Running has given me more than an opportunity to compete all these years; it has also given me a social niche, and a feeling of community and of alliance - even on days when I run like a snail. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the track and do a little speed work!

- WG

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MARATHON & BEYOND MAGAZINE - Marathon & Beyond, the only magazine that focuses on the specific needs of marathoners and ultrarunners. M&B offers in-depth articles on training, race strategies, injuries, nutrition, race profiles, running history, and more. Visit their web site at: http://www.marathonandbeyond.com

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Rich Sands of Boulder, Colorado was the winner of the last trivia contest! He wins a free issue of Marathon & Beyond and fame!

To enter the current trivia contest, just email your answers to: runnersniche@toucantrackclub.net

The FIRST person to answer all of the questions correctly wins. If nobody answers each question correctly, we will award the prize to the person who answers the most questions accurately. Trivia contest entrants are limited to one prize per calendar year. Good Luck!

This month's questions:

What nationality are/were each of these mile/1500 runners?

1. Bernard Lagat

2. John Mayock

3. Sture Landqvist

4. Albert Hill

5. Peter Snell

6. Witold Baran

7. Michel Jazy

8. Steve Cram

9. Jose Luis Gonzalez

10. Thomas Wessinghag

11. Filbert Bayi

12. Gil Dodds


Last Month's Answers:

Jim Ryun Trivia:

1. What high school did Jim attend when he became the first high school runner to break the 4-minute mile? - Wichita East

2. How many world records did Ryun set? - Six. The outdoor mile twice, outdoor 1500, indoor mile, outdoor 880, indoor 880.

3. Everyone knows about Ryun's world records in the mile and 1500, but what other distance did he set a world record at? - 880

4. Who was Ryun's coach while at Kansas University? - Bob Timmons

5. Who was his high school coach? - Bob Timmons (Ryun followed his coach when he was hired to coach at Kansas.)

6. Ryan's fastest mile as a high school runner came at the 1965 nationals in San Diego. What famous, non-American Olympian did he beat in that race? - Peter Snell.

7. What was Ryan's fastest time in the mile as a high school runner? - 3:55.3

8. Ryun's one mile record of 3:51.1 was set at Bakersfield, California on what date? - June 23, 1967

9. Who defeated Ryun in the 1500 at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics? - Kip Keino of Kenya

10. What tragic event ended his participation in the 1972 Olympic Games? - He fell in the prelims and did not make the final as a result.

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3's AND 7's


Benji Durden, as many readers will recall, was one of the best marathon runners of the late 70's and early 80's in the United States. An accomplished sub-2:10 marathon runner and 1980 Olympic team member, he now coaches both elite level and recreational runners. One of his "trade secret" workout tips is called "3's and 7's." The idea is to work on form and focus in the later stages of a long run. We all know how we feel past the half way mark of a long run. We start to daydream, our form gets sloppy and on some days it feels like the run will never end. "3's and 7's" is a method to combat these long run problems.

How does it work? "Basically, run 45-60 minutes at your normal long run pace. From that point on focus for 3 minutes on running form and pick up the pace roughly 5-10 seconds per mile. Then relax for 7 minutes, but don't slow down to a 'recovery' effort, simply ease back on the focus and run a normal long run effort and focus," says Durden.

Athletes who have tried this method find that their concentration improves and that they become stronger in the last half of their run. It also helps to break through the "blah" periods of a run and keep a runner's mind alert. We all know how important our long runs are to our training base. "3's and 7's" can help you to get the most possible out of your endurance workouts.





By Ben Fogelberg

Recent published race results prove that I am not going to win any races in the near or distant future. Of course, I suspected this all along, but now I have proof. Among the runners that are faster than me, are the following:

1. President George W. Bush. He ran a presidential record 20:29 for 3 miles. That correlates to a 21:12 5K. He is 56 years old. My current 5K PR is 22:06.

2. Will Ferrell, Saturday Night Live comedian and (bad) actor. Runner’s World reported that he ran the Stockholm Marathon in 4:28:22. My current marathon PR is 4:48:00 (my only marathon; I walked a little).

So, not only am I slower than the U.S. President, but I am also slower than the guy who impersonates him on television. I give up.

But, hey, there’s good news. I just learned that the Boston Marathon changed its qualifying standards. My marathon PR will now get me in. If I was 80 years old.





By Mark Loewen

Remember those Archie comics? Betty wants Archie but Archie wants Veronica but Veronica is never sure if she wants Archie or not, just that she doesn't want Betty to have him until she makes up her mind. Remember that stuff? Well, it all came together for me during the 26th Vancouver International Marathon.

Actually, it all happened between 20 and 26.2. As it usually does for us first time marathoners. The seductive downhill stretch of the Burrard Street Bridge seemed the perfect place to begin catching up to the modest 10 minute/mile pace I had kept steadily from the Plaza of Nations through Gas Town to Lumberman‚s Arch, but had discarded before exiting Stanley Park. I had some regrets about leaving Betty, a beauty in running tights and water bottle bandoleer. We had hooked up at mile 5 where she began keeping a watchful eye over me through countless water stations and Gatorade gulpings. A vet, she bubbled with energy and banter, making the miles melt easily away. But I ditched her on the bridge to keep a date with a 4:20 Veronica.

By the time I reached Jericho Beach I was back on track. But that‚s when the cramping and the stitches joined my aching quads in a unified statement protesting their current working conditions. I made some concessions to avoid a general strike and eased my pace, watching Veronica‚s ebony locks bobbing and weaving their way through the ever growing crowd of runners in front of me.

And then, just before Kits Beach, she sidled up beside me. If the truth be known, I was so focused on my loss of Veronica and my current survival struggle, that it took more than a moment to register with me that it was Betty. My Betty! My heart soared! Oh happy, happy day! But as we exchanged a few gasped syllables, it became clear to me that this was no second chance being offered. There was no glad handed opportunity for redemption here. Nope, she soon disappeared around the corner leading to the McMillan

Planetarium on her way to her own 4:30 date.

That was when I imagined a single senior citizen Archie sadly remembering the gorgeous blond who threw herself at him in his youth, while he obliviously continued his vain pursuit of the seductive Veronica. "Our spirits are one," I concluded as the Betty I had spurned slowly became as unattainable as the Veronica who had run off on me during my cramping dance three miles ago. I was left with nothing but the road and my thoughts, neither one of which was all that pleasant.

To be honest, the final three miles were nothing. "Nothing that a few thousand dollars of therapy won‚t remedy," I thought to myself as I neared the end.

And then I finished. Crossing the line was a surreal blend of stopping but not fully believing I had. The 4:37:13 medallion slipped silently over my head and nestled gently onto my neck. I surveyed the scene, humbly existing, gratefully being.

And then she was in my arms. "You did it," she cooed, and my tears blended effortlessly with sweat in a duet of spirit and will. "I am so proud of you," she murmured, and I held her close.

Not really knowing what to say, I remained silent. Not really knowing what to think, I let my mind be. Later I would wonder what had possessed me to chase Veronica, but for now I rested in contentment. Betty had come back to me.





Of 69 respondents on the Runner's Niche Web site poll, the following is our readers' opinion of who is currently the best American female distance runner:

14% - Suzy Favor-Hamilton

19% - Regina Jacobs

59% - Deena Drossin

3% - Colleen DeReuck

4% - Other



The current poll question asks what your preferred racing distance is. To participate, go to:



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In reference to an article in the last issue dealing with the loss of the editor's dog:


I am truly sorry for your loss. I unfortunately went through a similar situation several months ago. My dog, Molly, was killed by two coyotes. To make a long story short, the experience left a gaping hole in my heart, which to this day remains. She was a mini Beagle 10 pounds wet. This year at Boston I carried a lock of her hair with me the whole way. This year was a PR of 10 minutes over any other marathon I have done. When I started to get tired I thought of Molly and would instantly regain my focus and regain my energy. It sounds to me like Amelia was in a great home with people who loved her very much and I think that that is on the very short list of a dogs needs.

- M Panasu

Ed: Thanks to everyone who sent their condolences about the passing of my friend. We have a great number of animal lovers in our readership! - WG




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