Charities…Where does your race money go?

Charities…Where does your race money go?.


The Emperor’s New Clothes

Today’s topic – running apparel. This is something that may seem pretty uniform upon first glance when looking at a group of runners, but is actually a hodgepodge of different styles haphazardly thrown together. Today I would like to take a look at some of the “styles” runners are sporting at races. In the interest of full disclosure, I am definitely guilty of some of these, so have a sense of humor.

1. “The Abominable Snowman” – This winter you are going to see people that run in the standard light jacket and tights combination. Then there are the runners that apparently fear the cold so badly that they wear enough layers not only to shelter them from it, but also to protect them from any passing Buick that carelessly meanders off the road into their path.  Is this really running?  I thought the whole point was to warm up while you were running rather than looking like you are taking “One small step for man”.

2. “That 70’s Guy” – Occasionally you come across that runner who pulls his socks way up to his knees and thinks that his shorts must be pulled up equally.  He pulls them up so far that the waist band is nearly up to his armpits BUT STILL finds a way to tuck his shirt into the shorts.  I thought running as fast as you can was bad enough.  Never mind giving yourself an atomic wedgie right before the race.  This isn’t just a 70’s look, it’s an “I was 70 in the 70’s” look!

3.  “The Blankman” – These are the men and women that dress in racing outfits that look so much like superhero suits that they probably didn’t register for the race with their true identity.  I love racing with these people because I know that if a group of street toughs tries to mug me in the middle of mile 2, the poor man’s X Men will be there to save me.  If only these people had super speed. Much of the time these are the same people that inspired the saying used by this blog, “It’s not how fast you are, it’s how fast you look.” So, the next time you run across Spider-man’s velocity challenged little brother, fear not! He probably just looks faster than you.

4.  “The Camper”– Do you REALLY need to bring 12 Cliff Bars to run a half marathon? I see people that look more like they are taking a journey with Indiana Jones than going on a 13.1 mile run.  Their running belts are so full with water and “gear” they look like they plan on repelling through the race rather than running it.  I have seen it all.  People bringing ham, large quantities of cliff bars, excessive amounts of gels and my personal favorite, a credit card!  What? Are you planning to stop for a nice dinner around mile 8 and pick it back up in the morning?  This is a race people, not a hike in the Serengeti for Pete’s sake.

5. “The Halloweenie” – I have to say I really don’t have a problem with people who feel the need to dress up in crazy costumes and run a race.  If you want to run 26.2 miles dressed as the Eiffel Tower, you’re a better man than I.

And finally………….

6. “The Streak” – This running fashion faux pas is common with both men and women alike. You all know who I mean.  Those runners who wear just enough to NOT get arrested.  I have thought about it a long time but I still can’t figure out the reason behind this.  Is it for less restrictive movement?  It can’t make THAT much of a difference.  Is it to make me want to blind myself with Gatorade at the next aid station? Or distract me until I run into a light pole? Either way, I think we all can agree that the last thing we want to see when we are struggling to make it one more mile is someone’s half naked backside flopping around in front of us. I can only hope that someday a spectator screams from the sidelines, “The Emperor has no clothes!”

“Born To Run” or Leave Springsteen In The Car?

Today I would like to address a topic that can be controversial.  Listening to music while running has been a point of contention from the USATF all the way down to your local 5k.  I have heard arguments from both sides and will explain exactly where I fall on the issue.

First a little history. The USATF instituted a policy banning ALL headphones in running events which included everything from the Chicago Marathon down to your small town 5k’s.  After much debate, the increased use of mp3 players and pressure from that segment of the running community, they issued a press release in 2008 stating:

“The following shall be considered assistance and therefore not allowed:

“The visible possession or use by athletes of video, audio, or communications devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices.”

This amendment gave the freedom to race directors to allow these devices at their own discretion.  Let’s examine the first line of the amendment and we will understand just how the USATF looks at such devices.  Assistance?  Is it really?  No matter what side of the debate you take you must acknowledge that this is a weak and hypocritical argument.  I will agree that a runner can get through a long run easier with a distraction or adrenaline kick that music may provide but if that is the case, the USATF better be prepared to drug test every member of every small town race to make sure that a runner doesn’t get “assistance” from some supplement.

Safety is a concern that many runners express when discussing the issue and I have to admit that it does have it’s merit, to a point.  If you get lost inside your head while doing speedwork to Metallica played so loud your eyes bleed, I agree it will be much easier to step out in front of a passing bus.  On the other hand, where does personal responsibility come into play?  Should we all not use a little common sense while performing any task throughout the day?  If you feel you can’t run safely and listen to music, then just put on a single earphone or turn the music down.  I’m sorry but the “safety police” can not and should not be there at every decision we have to make.  It is not anyone’s business if I want to do something deemed reckless by some, unless that “something” infringes upon your rights.  For all you Darwinist out there, remember the law of natural selection.  Let me be clear, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but you have to ask “where does it all end?”  Should I be banned from listening to my mp3 player when walking down busy streets?  That could be construed as a personal safety issue as well.  If that’s the case, we shouldn’t allow people to have a radio in their car.

While the ban on certain devices may have been put into place with good intentions you still have unintended consequences.  When asked, many newbie runners say they would race less if prohibited from listening to music.  And let’s not forget that most races are to raise money for a specific charity.  It’s simple math, less runners = less money for that cause.  This is something none of us want to see.

If I haven’t given it away already, I feel that people should have the right to choose their own destiny.  I run with music most of the time and have to cross busy streets while doing so.  There are times it can seem like a real life game of Frogger.  But I turn down my music, look both ways numerous times and proceed when it is safe.  This argument that you can’t hear traffic doesn’t seem to be a realistic one.   At the speeds vehicles travel, that split second sound of a car engine is not going to help me unless I consider seeing my impending doom racing toward me at 55 miles per hour a benefit.

Everyone should be free to run the way they choose so long as it doesn’t cause a safety issue for someone else.  I want everyone to run fast and safe but if I can’t jam to “Born To Run” while racing then “The Boss” and I will take our money elsewhere.

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Heavy Medal

If you’re like me you run for fitness, a sense of accomplishment and yes, the hardware.  I would like to speak today about finish medals.  Some runners think that you should ONLY receive a medal for placing and others believe that they have trained for a 13-26 mile race and deserve something symbolic of their accomplishment.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  There are plenty of races out there that I enjoy running and they don’t give anything away. If the race director is clear about what you receive at the finish line at least you know what you are signing up for.  But in the case of a recent debacle at the Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas Marathon, don’t promote something you can’t fulfill.  Apparently the people that finished at the back of the pack did not receive a medal because supplies ran short.  I don’t want to get any deeper into the subject of incompetent race directors except to say that this is unacceptable.

Through the years I have received some awesome awards and some that look like they were made by Cousin Earl during craft therapy at the institution.  Specifically I am referring to a 2nd place award I received at a 5k that was made from 1/8″ plywood and had a logo burned into it.   Don’t get too close to an open flame or your victory will literally go up in smoke. I might be able to understand this if the director had been a small time operation but this was surely not the case.

Let’s get one thing straight, I DO NOT like getting “mugged” when I place.  By this I mean do not give away coffee mugs as an award for placing in a half marathon.  What is that? I don’t want an award I can use to heat up my soup!  Does anyone in America have a shortage of regular coffee mugs?  I don’t think so and I don’t want another one.

How about a couple of the really great finish medals out there?  The first one that comes to mind is for completing the Little Rock Marathon and is a medal that I hope to add to my collection some day.  It changes from year to year but still holds the record as the worlds largest finisher medal and weighs over a pound.  Last year the design was the Titan Atlas holding the globe upon his shoulders that actually spins within outer portion of the medal.  Now THAT is cool!

Allen, Texas is the home of the New Years Double which hosts multiple events from 5k to full marathon.  Complete one event on New Years Eve and another on New Years Day and you will receive two half medals that can be put together on a magnetic plate for the full design.  It doesn’t matter which two events you choose, you still get this very unique pair of medals.

Now to address the problem that every runner has, “how do I show off my medals?” If I may take a moment for some shameless self promotion, please click on the link on the upper right of the page – D2 Displays.  I create and sell some beautiful and unique displays suitable for the effort you put into earning your awards.  My prices are very reasonable when compared to the competition.  Order one now, you won’t be sorry.

Attention – If you are a webmaster or blogger and would like to exchange links to improve internet traffic for both of us, please e-mail me at or post a comment below.  I currently run this blog and  If not, please click “share” below.  Thank you very much.

Regrets? I’ve had a few……….

My friends, I would like to be serious for a moment and talk about something that I believe to be very important and goes virtually unnoticed by most runners.  In my first post you read about my roots in running and where I came from to where I am now.  Many of us have our stories and tend to allow our memories of an unhealthy past fade so much that we fail to see the next group of runners that are struggling with some of the same problems.   For example, how many of us finish the race and stand on the sidelines of a 5k to cheer for the person you don’t know, that may be overweight but is giving it their best effort to reverse bad habits?  You know they finish toward the back of the pack, but they finish nonetheless.  I am here to tell you that THESE are the true runners.  THESE are the people with real heart.  And THESE are the people that deserve our respect, encouragement and help.  99% of all runners are good, supportive people but we neglect to show it sometimes when we high-tail it back to the tent or pavilion after finishing, to talk about how the race went for us.  I have been guilty of this behavior myself.  Then there are the arrogant 1% that I have heard quietly poking fun at people who are slower, heavier and just starting down a path to a better life.

I say to YOU my running brothers and sisters, the next time you are at a 5k,  show the support that we have in our hearts by being there to show support on the sidelines.  Get to know them.  Encourage them.  You can change their lives if you make them feel included.  Don’t let them give up.  Before you know it they will be running right along side of you on a path to a better life that YOU helped them build.

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Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Now that the introductions are over let’s talk about getting through the winter.  So far most of us have enjoyed unseasonably high temperatures until now.  It is time to toughen up and continue to run outside.  Even if you use a treadmill during the really cold days, try to make it a point to get outside for at least three miles, twice a week. I made the mistake of getting on a treadmill all winter in the beginning of my running life and when spring finally came I could not figure out why the street stopped moving on it’s own under my feet.  Let’s face it, the treadmill is like methadone for running addicts.  It might get us through but ultimately we want and need our running fix outside.

If you’re anything like me you tend to backslide during the holidays.  Yep, I put on 12 pounds as I do every year and now it’s time to lose it or face being the proverbial toilet paper of the racing community, “bringing up the rear”.   So far I have taken six of them off but the other six seem to have set up shop around my waist and love show themselves off when my sweat soaked shirt is clinging to my midsection. Time for me and all of you out there to get a better grip on our diet.  My best weight loss comes from eating a raw vegetable diet, plenty of fruit and cutting out as much fat and carbs as possible.  By the end of February I should be the sleek, speedy Adonis that I was in August.  This is possible for ALL of us with some discipline.  When I see sweets, I see poison for runners.  When I see breads, I picture my race times looking more like someone’s  zipcode than a finishing time.   After a while unhealthy food is something you don’t even want anymore.

Lastly I want to address one thing that bugs me all year but even more often in the winter.  When I am running on a sidewalk or on a trail I inevitably come across people who are all bundled up and out for a walk.  Sometimes with a dog and sometimes with a spouse.  Let me be clear, I am an overly friendly runner and will give the casual wave to someone I am passing.  So I ask myself how do these people seem to find a way to take up the entire trail and look at you with the blankest of stares as if they can’t figure out why someone would want to run without being chased by someone or something.  It can be the oldest, skinniest of grandmothers out there and somehow she will suddenly expand to block my path in an instant and then look at me with a hollow look the likes of which I have not seen anywhere but a zombie movie.  Really, there is something wrong with these people that don’t run.

The Beginning

Since this is my first post, let me give you a brief history about myself.  I am 43 years old and a carpenter/woodworker.  About 25 years ago I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a cigarette.  NOT a good idea! For the next 20 years I smoked nearly two packs of Camel Lights a day.  At 38 years old it was time to quit or get used to the idea of dragging an oxygen tank behind me in the future and dying a very miserable death quite prematurely.  Success!  No more smoking but unfortunately 30 pounds seemed to materialize out of nowhere.  The only way I knew to lose the weight was diet and exercise.

In high school I was on the track team, mostly just to hang out with my friends.  To say that the team did not benefit from my membership would be an understatement.  Since this is the only sport that ever led to any serious weight loss in the past, why not try it again?  After the first “run” of half a mile, I started thinking that this was going to be impossible.  It never seemed this difficult in my memories of high school track.  Walking the rest of the way back home I decided to give it another shot in a couple days.  At least this time that horrible feeling of exhaustion and loss of breath would not take me by surprise.  Week after week went by and I worked my way up to a few miles very slowly.  The weight was starting to disappear and this gave me even more incentive to run longer and faster.  One day my father approached me and said that I should enter one of those local 5k races.  This is something that never crossed my mind before and something I was completely against?  Go to a race with a bunch of runners and look like a fool?  No way!  After my dad’s incessant attempts to get me to sign up,  I finally gave in.  The first race was “The 5k Mayor’s Run Against Breast Cancer” and I was scared to death. Eventually I accepted the fact that last place isn’t so bad as long as I finished.  The gun went off and I started running.  It didn’t turn out as bad as I thought.  Finishing about mid pack of 150ish wasn’t bad with a time of around 30 minutes and 30 some seconds.  What a rush!  I was hooked.

Fast forward to 2011.  Last year I raced 53 races which included 10 half marathons, a full marathon and a 50k which netted me 35 awards.  I even came in first overall in one of the shorter races.  Now I run 5k’s in just under 21 minutes, half marathons in 1:38 and still have plenty of work to do.  I have to say that running has not only made me healthier and happier but I have found a large group of friends within the running community that are very supportive of each other.  I think that may be the greatest award I have received.


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