I run because…

Jeffrey’s update from home in Rochester, NY on National Running Day.

Greetings from Rochester, NY and Happy National Running Day! It definitely feels like June here in the Northeast– I’m still adjusting to the high humidity levels (albeit uncomfortable, it is good preparation for Daegu). After a weekend in Ottawa, where I paced 30K of the Marathon, I’m home visiting with family. It’s a nice abbreviated vacation from the Southwest– and a stark contrast to my last visit with Ali back in December for Christmas!

I am also excited to be visiting Rochester because this evening I have the opportunity to share my passion and experiences in the sport with my hometown running community. At 7:00PM tonight I will be speaking at Medved Running and Walking Outfitters on a variety of running-related topics, including: post-collegiate development, preparing for the marathon, altitude training and nutrition. Last year, I had the chance to meet Dan Medved at his longtime store-sponsored Medved Lilac 10K, and I’m very grateful to him for inviting me to visit with the running community in his store. Tonight’s event will be a great opportunity to discuss some of the many lessons that I have learned in the sport; I am also hoping it will be a way to express my gratitude to the supportive community that I grew up in!

Given that it is National Running Day, I think this is an appropriate time to reflect on the sport and its profound impact on our health and quality of living. I like the provocative question that we, as runners, are challenged to personally answer today: Why do you run? 

For me, in addition to having competitive aspirations, running has given me such a great model for personal development and growth. I enjoy the balance it provides me with, and it has been a great outlet for my energy. I enjoy being fit and active while participating in an activity that I hope to continue with my entire life. I also feel quite fortunate in the present to be able to pursue my passion as a careerpath. To quote MarathonGuide.com‘s philosophy: I Live2Run!

In this current running meditation, I also recall Coach Jack‘s adage that he offers his athletes: “The road traveled is certainly as important as is the destination because every day along the way is part of a person’s never-ending education.” And so I lace up my Brooks shoes each day and head out on a new road anxious to see where it might lead– enjoying the journey as opposed to thinking solely of the destination. To be more succinct:

Well thanks for reading; it’s time for me to head out for a run! –JDE

Opportunity

Jeffrey discusses how opportunity is fundamental in American Distance Running, and showcases the May 15th’s Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon as an exciting opportunity for Olympic Marathon Trials hopefuls.

In my own experience, I’ve felt that one of the most fundamental components required to become successful as a post-collegiate runner is opportunity. While there certainly are other attributes that create a successful athlete (recalling Coach Jack DanielsRunning Formula, where he identifies opportunity as one of four “ingredients for success”– the others being ability, motivation and direction), I feel that having the right opportunities is essential in order to achieve to our full potential. In distance running, I believe opportunity can take form in 3 ways: as an environment conducive for focusing on training, through the support of generous sponsors and the community, and by having the chance to compete and demonstrate our ability.

In this pre-Olympic year, there have been a myriad of continuing and new opportunities created to assist U.S. Distance Runners and Olympic hopefuls. I have already described how profoundly the RRCA Roads Scholar Grant has impacted my own career and perspective in 2010, and I’m confident future program recipients will be equally as grateful. In February, Running USA awarded its second annual Allen Steinfeld Development Award– a nod to one of the pioneers in our sport who helped establish the Team USA Distance Running program in his tenure as head of the New York Road Runners. With such generous grants made available to individuals and groups, there’s no reason for us not to become successful.

Additionally, race organizations are making the same push to provide opportunities for Olympic hopefuls. Steve Nearman, director of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon, is offering a $1000 cash bonus to any American achieving an Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier at his race in October, while also allocating $1.00 per each race entry to fund a U.S. elite training program. Similarly, Steve Taggart of Tagg Running Events in Tucson, AZ is also pledging $1.00 from existing race entries to help fund U.S. Distance Running projects. And these are just a few examples of the many opportunities we have as American distance runners!

 

The Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon


There’s one opportunity for Olympic Marathon Trials hopefuls that I want to feature, and which I am very excited to be involved with: the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. On May 15, 2011, American Men and Women will have the opportunity to chase the Olympic Trials Standards, while competing for cash incentives and prizes. I will be leading the men’s contingent as a pacer through 18 miles, running the required 2:19:00 pace to help punch more tickets for Houston 2012.

As advertised in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon Press Release, participants in the Olympic Trials Incentive Program will have pacers for the respective Trials Standards (2:19:00 for men, 2:39:00 for women), access to special fluid stations, a VIP dinner on Friday night and a Pasta dinner on Saturday night. In addition to being eligible for the overall race prize purse, the top 3 American Trials Qualifiers are awarded as follows:

*1st Place: $1500 cash, $500 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificate and $250 GNC gift certificate
*2nd Place: $1000 cash, $500 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificate and $250 GNC gift certificate
*3rd Place: $1000 cash, $500 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificate and $250 GNC gift certificate

Also, all runners posting their first ‘A’ Olympic Trials Qualifying Time will receive travel and hotel reimbursement.

Athletes and coaches interested in the Olympic Trials Incentive Program should contact Athlete Coordinator Kelsey Jackson for more information at 412-586-7785.

I’m very impressed with this proactive effort by Race Director Patrice Matamoros and Kelsey Jackson to support American distance running and encourage marathoning talent to develop. The Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon is doing an invaluable service to building our sport by providing this opportunity. Having benefitted from similar racing opportunities in my career, I am equally enthused to help contribute to this effort and assist athletes in achieving their Olympic Trials Qualifiers. May 15th is going to be a great day for our sport!

At the FSC United Jog-a-thon

On August 29th, I attended the FSC United Jog-a-thon Fundraiser to support young soccer players as they ran for 30 minutes to raise money for their teams. It was a great Flagstaff community event, and a fun way to introduce these bright young athletes to the sport of running!

Last Sunday evening, I attended an enjoyable community fundraising event to benefit young athletes and teams in the Flagstaff Soccer Club: The FSC United Jog-a-thon. When I heard about the event from my chiropractor, I was excited to get involved and help ‘sponsor’ a player.

The Jog-a-thon was set up so that players would receive pledges based on how many laps they complete during a 30 minute period. The pledges and money raised would go towards team equipment and travel expenses for their upcoming season. I thought this event was an excellent fundraising idea; it encourages the players to establish goals, and challenges them both as individuals and team members to achieve their goals. It is also a great way to give youth positive exposure to the sport of running while promoting fitness within the community.

I think the event also personally appealed to me because it reminded me of my own transition from soccer to running. Growing up, I started playing soccer in the first grade and continued on for 8 years, developing into a competitive mid-fielder for club and school teams. While not the most agile or graceful ball-handler, my aerobic capabilities enabled me to cover both sides of the field for the duration of each match. However, just before entering high school, I was persuaded into joining the cross-country team. I was instantly drawn to the competitive aspect and quickly de-mythed about the sport: running is not a punishment, it actually felt good! Once I left the ball behind, I never looked back!

Of course it would be great to see some of the athletes from Sunday evening make a similar transition and leave the ball behind. At 7000 feet in Flagstaff, they are already immersed in a rich distance running and endurance sport culture. But it’s more important for young kids to be doing any routine physical activity– a sport that they enjoy and that keeps them growing healthy.

Ali accompanied me to Foxglenn Park for the evening and we clapped and cheered in support of #12 of the Black Widows. He easily exceeded his goal of 20 laps for the half hour. Not bad! Other players (and parents who had joined in) had similar expressions upon finishing the Jog-a-thon, reflecting the exertion of the run. However, smiles were in abundance afterward, and everyone left the field with pride and a sense of accomplishment.

I hope there are more Jog-a-thons and community events to invite more to participate in our sport and encourage healthy and active routines. Running is one of the most accessible sports, and anyone can start running at any age.

–JDE