Sunday, November 11, 2007


We all pick up inspiration from odd sources. I had the experience yesterday when I volunteered to work the hydration station at my club's 50K event on Saturday. To keep costs down (we are a small club), the race consisted of 10 5K loops in a local park. The cool part of this arrangement is that I got to see everyone every 20 to 30 minutes. I got to see the really speedy people at the front (who I never see) as well as the back-of-the-packers. Whereas, I have nothing but respect and admiration for anyone that sets out to run 31 miles on a Saturday morning, there were two people I found particularly inspirational.

The first was the #1 women finisher, #2 overall. She had a remarkably economic running style, with very little vertical movement or torso rotation … just straight ahead running. Lap after lap she cruise through the aid station, took a couple of cups of Gatorade or water and headed off for another lap. No expression on her face other than a slight smile; not a bead of sweat anywhere nor any sign of fatigue. She was just a running machine.

The picture below is her coming through the aid station at 45K; looking exactly as she looked at 5K, 10K, 15K … and so on. She just kept getting faster and faster and faster. She ran the last 5K in 23 minutes. I was glad I wasn't trying to keep up with her. She made running look too simple. Just put one foot in front of another and repeat for 4 hours and don't waste energy with excessive motion

Her husband showed up with a bouquet of roses and her kids while she was out on the last lap. Somehow, he new she was going to win as well of when she'd finish up the race … now that’s confidence in your wife.

The second person I thought ran an inspirational run was the guy who came in dead last. Now, I realize that someone has to come in last in every race, but I’d never had the chance to watch anyone work so hard for 6 hours. When he got to the Aid Station at 45K, he was the only runner left in the race. He had been beaten by everyone. He had been lapped by the field and 5 runners had lapped him twice. He was now leaving for a solo 5K. But he headed out again for that last lap with a great deal of enthusiasm despite his overall position. He knew he was going to finish his first ultra. Unlike the woman pictured above, he hadn't come into this event believing he was going to be the first place for his gender. He just wanted to prove to himself that he could run 31 miles; and after 5:59:00, he met his goal. Just amazing. He demostrated that, with a little confidence and a lot of preparation people can do amazing things.

As for me, I had a nice 10 miler this afternoon with my black lab. The temperatures are still high, but at least the temperatures are closer to 80F instead of north of 90F. I was back over at one of the desert parks in North Phoenix running an 8 mile loop followed by a shorter 2.5 loop to get the total mileage up over 10 miles. I stopped for a few minutes after 8 miles to give my dog some water. The poor animal was thoroughly confused when I tossed his bowl back in my car and headed back into the desert. He runs here a great deal and knows the drill. He knows the turns we take and knows the pace. Heading out for another lap was way out of the ordinary. He got back into the swing of things after a few minutes and was leading the way once again.

Race Shout Outs:

My buddy Lisa hit another PR this morning at the Phoenix New Times 10K, shaving nearly 3 minutes off her previous best.

Last week, Robin completed 33 miles of a very tough 50 miler when her stomach failed to get onboard with her race strategy. This woman is really hard core. Her race report is well worth reading.

Have a great week. I posted few photos from my run this afternoon. It gives you some idea what Phoenix use to look like before we allowed residential development to blade every inch of the desert for over-priced master-planned communities.


Still looking cool and collected after 3 miles

Running towards the McDowell Mtns in Scottsdale AZ

Finally, some real shade.


Ewen said...

That lady had a great run - she's really motoring - looks like the finish of a 5k race! As for the gentleman who came last - he's a winner.

Those photos could be of central Australia if the sand were red and a few less mountains. Looks like a great place to run.

Jamie said...

That's the nice thing about ultras. Placing high is nice, but it's really all about finishing. That becomes even more apparent as the distance increases. Good for them. And that second place woman is one good looking mom!

Deene said...

what an great photo of the guy finishing last, the grin takes it all!

carmen said...

just awesome. nice entry with some very inspirational people. i have a new route when picking up my husband from work in the evening from my work place. the route takes me from central phoenix into paradise valley and into scottsdale. i thought of you as i was cruising through pv. i was amazed by the nice running route potentials. got any suggestions? (btw, i was going up 44th Street and onto McDonald).

jen said...

Great stories from the Ultra!

Great pics from your run- cute dog! :)

Love2Run said...

Nice job working the ultra and great post. That's a very good dog!

mindy said...

Great pictures! Those Arizona trails look fantastic. Pretty soon our roads here in Maine are going to be covered in snow.....!

Mr. Satan A. Chilles said...

On behalf of people who run park laps again and again, thank you for supporting our 'habit'.

Bex said...

Great post - And I love the big grin on the guy's face as he was coming into the finish! Also, thanks for the shout-out on my blog re the arsehole who whined about slow marathon runners.

Thomas said...

So, when are you doing your first ultra, Phil?

angie's pink fuzzy said...

mad dog, yeah? the RD for zane grey was going and tried to convince me to go (pavement? in loops? are you freakin' kiddin' me?!)

looks like you had fun!

Gotta Run said...

I really must get better at the shout outs. Thanks so much!!! I am getting on top of things in that stomach department and will be posting about it here soon.

As I am impressed with the female finisher I must admit that the last finisher gets me right in the heart. To push forward when you know you are dead last is amazing in the biggest way. For you to be there to witness is a true blessing and will give us all something to remember when we feel like giving up.

Love the report and glad to read about your 10 mile run in cooler temps. Still trying to figure out if it is winter or not. Maybe...just maybe.

Anonymous said...

Great Post! We stay in Paradise Valley 9Embassy Suites)and at a place last time we were there(Marriott) close to the McDowell Mts. I love it there. When we visit, I've never ventured out far on my runs while but have always wanted to.

J~mom said...

Phil that was a great post!! I also find inspiration in both runners! Awesome!

Thanks for the shout out!! Hopefully you will be at the 10K next year! :>)