On My Way to 100 Marathons

November 18, 2014

BillIn our November 2014 e-newsletter, e-XTRA, we included an excerpt of Bill Smith’s story in our “Subscriber of the Month” feature. Here is his entire story.

HOW I STARTED INTO RUNNING

I started running as a kid mostly inspired by my dad, also named Bill Smith. Dad was, in many ways, an over-achiever. He ran the mile and the half mile for North Kansas City High School, usually both in the same meet, and he always had a lot to say about running and training. At the time I was less interested in running, but I idolized my dad so if he had a high opinion of running, I was going to run, too. In those days we kids rode a bike or walked almost everywhere, and I just ran there because it got the whole thing over with a lot quicker. Once every year I would run to my doctor’s office for my annual summer camp physical and always “fail” the pee test because of the run.

After college I took up running again in about 1972, but this time I liked it, and my dad was enthusiastic about it, too. I became a member of the Kansas City YMCA and ran on their indoor track every night. It was a wood-slat inclined and concave track elevated over the basketball court, 26 laps to the mile. I kept that up for several years until one day a friend told me about a 10K on the weekend. Dad and I went to the 10K (he had never run one either), and there was an old friend of dad’s named Jerry Morrison running it. I looked at Mr. Morrison and thought, “All I got to do is stay with this old guy?” The race started, and I stayed with Mr. Morrison for a couple of miles. Jerry Morrison, I found out later, was an age group world record holder in the marathon. At age 57 he ran something in the 2:40s! Wow! Wow again, too. Mr. Morrison ran a 35 that day and I think I did a 40, but I was hooked on the competition aspect of running!

For the next many years, I ran one to three times per day. There was always a noon run with fellow runners at work, and often also a morning run with them. Running in the 1980s with those guys at work was very formative and influencing for me. That was an extremely competitive group with one very good former college miler, another college half miler, and a part-time college coach. The small group of us would run one or two 10Ks every weekend, and it was what I call friendly-fierce. We all wanted to beat each other in the worst way, and it developed training technique and speed. The running boom back then was different than now. No one went to a race just to finish. Everyone went to a race to win in some manner: Win outright, win your (10 year) age division, be first female, or just to improve your PR. One of my goals was always to beat the first girl. Wish I could still do that.

MY FIRST MARATHON

In 1980 a guy from work trained and ran a marathon. I had never thought of doing that before. And, obviously, by that statement you know that I also didn’t know how really fast Jerry Morrison was either. But I thought if they can do that, then I can do that. In 1981 there was no Internet or any other kind of social media, so you had to wait for the January issues of Running Times and Runner’s World to come out to see a one-page printed marathon schedule in the back of the magazine. You kept your copy for 12 months just so you had a schedule of marathons. So, in that schedule I picked out Heart of America Marathon as my first marathon. My goal was to get in under three hours. Anyone who knows Heart of America is probably rolling in laughter right about now. It is a really tough course. I wore a Timex with a chrono in it, and I wrote my required splits upside down on my number so I could see them. At the half I realized that I was behind schedule so I “caved in” to accepting a slower time and not accomplishing my goal. I don’t really know what happened, but I just started feeling better and better after that, literally charged up Easley Hill, and ran a negative split to a 2:59:35 finish. I remember the front runners got stopped by a train for a while, and that 12-year-old Wesley Paul ran it. That was my first of many. Hooked again!
Continue reading » On My Way to 100 Marathons

Editor’s Choice: Running the 292-Mile Badwater Double

October 23, 2014
Cover18.6SMRunning the 292-Mile Badwater Double
Kenneth A. Posner
© 2014 42K(+) Press, Inc.

In 1977, Al Arnold became the first person to run the 146 miles from the Badwater Basin in Death Valley (which, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere) to the summit of Mount Whitney (which, at 14,505 feet, is the highest point in the continental USA). In 1989, Tom Crawford and Rich Benyo conceived the idea of doubling this feat and became the first people to complete the 292-mile round trip, which is referred to as a “double” (Benyo 1991). In 2001, Marshall Ulrich set a record for the double of 96:07 as part of his celebrated “quad” crossing (Ulrich 2004). I set out on July 1, 2014, with the goal of completing the double and—if all went perfectly according to plan—of improving on the record. If successful, I would contribute in a small way to the tradition that Tom, Rich, and Marshall established of seeking out extreme challenge in the beautiful but unforgiving environment of Death Valley and the High Sierra—and then raising the bar.

After the experience was over, my crew and I identified several lessons learned that we thought might aid other Badwater runners in such areas as planning, crew leadership, pacing, nutrition, and footgear. We offer these ideas with the goal of inspiring others to take on the Badwater course and to further improve the times for single, double, and other crossings. But first, here’s what happened.

Each issue, we select an “Editor’s Choice”—an entire article we share with you online. Click here to read the entire article…

Editor’s Choice: Look Back in Wonder

August 22, 2014
Cover18.5SMDeena and Meb in retrospect
Tito Morales
© 2014 42K(+) Press, Inc.

Can it really be 10 years since Deena Kastor’s and Meb Keflezighi’s historic runs at the 2004 Olympic Games?

Thank goodness for the miracle of YouTube and for the timelessness of its content.

Even a decade later, watching Deena enter the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens and witnessing her reaction when she comes to the realization that, yes, she has just earned the bronze medal in the women’s marathon continues to inspire. Her jubilation remains as spontaneous, her relief as raw, and her tears of triumph as heartwarming as they were that magical night in Greece.

“I started crying because there were so many people in those stands who had so much to do with me being there,” Deena says. “My family—I thought about all the amazing and constant support they’d given me since I was 11 years old . . . my ultimate life mentor, Coach Vigil . . . my husband, Andrew . . . my manager, Ray Flynn . . . everybody was there and they were all able to share in that moment.”

Each issue, we select an “Editor’s Choice”—an entire article we share with you online. Click here to read the entire article…

52 Half Marathons in a Year – After Heart Surgery

March 31, 2014

Thanks to our friends at Keepsake Quilts for sharing this amazing and inspiring story with us. Aurora De Lucia was your typical college student. One day she woke up, went to class – not realizing that on that day her life would be changed forever. One minute Aurora is sitting in class, the next she is on the ground surrounded by paramedics. Aurora was taken to the hospital where she was given various tests to help find a diagnosis…

KTQ Marathon and Beyond Coupon_1(Janet and her team at Keepsake have offered a special coupon for M&B readers – complimentary shipping through the month of April.) Read the rest of Aurora’s story. 
Continue reading » 52 Half Marathons in a Year – After Heart Surgery

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