Welcome to week #2 of my weekly running series! This week, I would like to take a moment to discuss my connections to running royalty (I have a point, I promise). I would also like to share my favorite running stories. Let’s get to it!
(a.k.a. professional runners, elite runners, or REALLY fast people)
Here is the Run Down (No Pun Intended)
-My Husband: He is a former four year, collegiate track and cross country athlete from a division 1 school. He recently completed his eighth year as a high school coach for both sports. He has completed a 5k race in 15 minutes and 30 seconds. His personal best marathon time is 2 hours and 39 minutes. He tells me that compared to his running friends, he is a running schlub.
-The Best Friend: When I first met my husband’s best friend, he was training to run in the Olympics. THE REAL OLYMPICS!
-The Brothers-in-Law: My husband has two brothers. Both continue to run sub 3 hour marathons on a regular basis.
-Chillin’ with Running Royalty: After one month of dating, I attended a wedding with my husband. Also in attendance: a sub-4:00 minute miler, the national steeplechase champion, the Junior Pan-Am Games gold and silver medalists, a coach responsible for training 60 All-American runners (including an Olympic silver medalist), and a former Boston Marathon WINNER.
Why Does This Matter?
Just kidding. (Well, not about the “I am completely awesome” part.) Moving on.
The truth is, I want to share running stories.
Why? When I was first introduced to running royalty, I was convinced that they knew the secret to running fast. In my head, these champs were withholding a simple formula that would make me speedy. I figured that if I listened carefully, I could discover their secret, set a world record, and then my awesomeness would finally be acknowledged by the track and field world.
So, whenever I hung out with the speed posse, I kept my mouth shut, listened for their magical words of wisdom, and dreamed of wearing a gold medal around my neck.
I rarely heard words of wisdom.
What I actually heard, were their ridiculous, hilarious, and unbelievable running stories. Like, a whole lot of running stories. Like, an endless supply of running stories. Endless...
Finally, after years of hearing running stories, and waiting for the secrets of running to be revealed, I realized that for years, my running royalty friends had secretly been teaching me an important lesson about running. The lesson:
(Keep in mind, ALL of these stories are real, and all runners included in these stories have had extremely successful running careers.)
-A sophomore planned to join his school's cross country team. To prepare, he spent the entire summer running as far as he could, for as long as he could. On the first day of fall practice he reported that he averaged 120 miles per week, and a weekly 40 mile long run over the summer. The coach assumed the athlete was reporting minutes instead of miles. Wrong. The runner had naively ran an average of 8 hours per day.
-Due to safety concerns, the mother of a 4’10” high school freshman forbid her son from running after sunset. One night, it got dark before the runner was able to complete his scheduled 10 mile run. Mom followed him in her car, with bright lights on, for all 10 miles. She ate popcorn and honked the car horn whenever her son slowed down.
-Refusing to be followed in a car by his mother again, the above runner spent the next 3 years of high school completing all of his late night runs in the basement of his home. Occasionally, he would run into the metal support pole in the middle of his tiny basement. This would shake the foundation of the house. Inevitably, a family member would get angry because the crash would affect the family's TV signal.
-Remembering how many laps he had completed while running on a track was a continuous struggle for one runner. As a simple solution, he carried 50 cotton balls in his pocket and moved one cotton ball to the opposite pocket every time he passed the finish line. After every run, the runner complained that his cotton balls had gotten too sweaty.
-A runner went to an amusement park for a weekend long family reunion. While his family slept at a campground, he woke up early to run before the amusement park opened. Near a roller-coaster, he was stopped by a police officer for running in a restricted area. He returned to the campground as a passenger in the back of a police car to the surprise of 30 breakfast eating family members.
-A runner was challenging himself to avoid stopping at traffic lights. At one intersection, he thought he had the light timed so perfectly that if he could keep his pace and the cross traffic would stop by the time he reached the street. Wrong. He was hit by a slow moving car, and rolled onto its hood. Embarrassed, the runner put his feet back on the ground, and continued running.
-As an 18 year old freshman, a runner had a 25 year old Kenyan roommate. The roommate constantly ate rice out of a bowl using nothing but his hand. No one ever witnessed him eating other foods. The Kenyan encouraged the younger runners to eat more rice for speed. No one could run faster than the Kenyan runner.
-As a college freshman, a runner attended the first day of practice with the cross country team. The coach announced that the team would embark on an easy run. The runner assumed that an easy run was less than 5 miles. He went all out to prove his talent. After 5 miles of nearly sprinting, he quickly discovered that an easy run was 11 miles. He was the last runner to finish the easy run.
-A college coach told his team they were going on a long run, but he refused to share the length of the run. The coach drove alongside the runners for 11 miles. At mile 11, the coach told the team they were almost done and that he would meet them past the next hill. The coach was parked 10 miles past the hill. The run was 21 miles.
Post College Stories
-An elite runner embarked on seven mile run while at an out-of-state relative’s house. Seven miles into the run he realized he was lost, in 98 degree weather, with no water. He returned to his relative’s house along the only path he was familiar with; the freeway. Eleven miles of freeway running later, he returned home from his unplanned Eighteen mile run and slept in the air-conditioned basement for 5 hours.
-For 5 nights in a row, a former collegiate runner dealt with a ding-dong-ditcher. On the sixth night, he singlehandedly chased down 4 teenage boys while yelling, “You will never out run me!” The runner demanded the address of one boy, and walked the boy home. He then reported all shenanigans to the boy’s mother.
-Three brothers were in Alaska (truth: this is about my husband and his brothers). They entered a silent auction to win the last remaining spot in the infamous Mount Marathon 5k (literally a race up and down a mountain). They did not win the auction, but they watched the race. A man fell down the mountain and rolled past another man to snag second place. This is him crossing the finish line.
-A runner was struggling to keep up his pace as he reached the 24 mile aide station of a marathon. He saw the volunteers distributing a clear gel on popsicle sticks. He assumed that the volunteers were handing out a new type of energy gel. He grabbed a stick, quickly ate the gel, and then had to complete the last 2 miles of the marathon with a wad of Vaseline in his mouth (not energy gel).
-A professional runner was leading a popular half marathon race. Having only glanced at the course map, he was relying on the lead car to direct him to the finish line. The lead car drove to the end of a dead end alley, stopped, panicked, and then drove away at 45 m.p.h leaving the runner behind. As the runner back tracked 1 entire mile, he passed 2 guys and retook the lead. He somehow managed to win the race.
Your Turn! Now that I have shared my favorite “running royalty” stories, I want to read about your running adventures. I’m sure you have experienced something odd, exciting, fascinating, or downright awesome on a run. In 4 lines or less, leave a comment sharing your favorite running story!
Exciting News: As part of The Monday Fun Run Day Series, I am going to interview my husband for an informative Q&A running post. I want you to be involved! Yep, that’s right, it’s your chance to mingle with running royalty. Here’s how it works:
Leave your running related questions in the comment section below, or send questions via email to (firstname.lastname@example.org) by July 26th. My husband has a wealth of running knowledge that he has gathered as both a runner and a coach. Want to know about his college running experience? Need marathon training advice? Wondering what it’s like to run 110 miles per week? Have a running shoe question? Need help coaching your own team? Ask me, I’ll ask him, and together we can marvel at his answers.