I have yet to meet a runner who doesn’t have a lot to say and an interesting story—spend five minutes with a runner and chances are you’ll learn something new and want to head out for a run. The Going the Distance blog series is designed to do just that—highlight runners of all backgrounds and levels to inspire, motivate, and help you reach your running goals.
I met Gene the same way I meet so many other friends lately—through running. My friend, Troy, recruited me to pace and crew for him at last year’s Pine to Palm 100-Mile Endurance Run in Ashland, OR. And I of course, jumped at the chance to take a couple days off work to head south to help get him to the finish line.
Gene joined Troy for this challenging race and the two of them set off together for the start of a 30-hour plus adventure. While I didn’t run with Gene during the race, it became immediately clear to me that he was tough, determined, and had a passion for running (after all, check out his ambitious race calendar for the year), and I’m honored to share his running story here.
Where do you live and train?
How long have you been running?
There are two answers to this question. I first started running when I was 13 (1961!) and then later ran track in high school and college. I considered myself a “sometime jogger” until 1997, when I ran the Philadelphia Marathon as a bucket list item. I finished so injured that I couldn’t run for six years after the race. My second running career began in 2003 after falling in with a bad crowd—a group of runners who encouraged me to jog with them and then later on to enter some races.
How did you first get interested in running?
It was because a girl I was interested in lived three miles away.
What about running do you love?
I love trail running because it expands the possibilities for seeing spectacular scenery. I love road running because I’m competitive, and I’ve enjoyed some success at road races. I especially love either when I’m running with friends.
What’s the best piece of training or racing advice you’ve been given?
I don’t know how I came by this knowledge, but it appears to me that most runners have yet to learn it—don’t start off too fast! It’s much more fun and productive to run even or negative splits.
What has running taught you?
He who coaches himself has a fool for a coach.
Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever run?
Ithaca, NY. Oh, maybe you aren’t asking about temperatures. In that case, it would have to be running the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. The scenery made the Trans Rockies Run look like urban blight in comparison.
If you’re not running, what takes up your time?
Cooking, gardening, golfing, and procrastinating about doing all of those things on the “Honey Do” list.
Best running moment and why?
The 2014 USATF XC Club Championships. I was about a mile from the finish line, and I had put in a solid effort, but the fatigue was building and the demons were tempting me: “You can coast now; you’ll have had a good race.” Just then, a runner in my age group passes me. After all those years of daydreaming about digging down deep to win coming down the stretch, I was now being put to the test. I now know that I am able to endure the agony of giving every last ounce of strength I have to prevail.
Do you have a mantra for getting through tough times during races?
In marathons and beyond, when I have a lot of time to listen to my legs begging me to stop, I think back at them, “This is why I do this.”
Favorite post-run snack or beverage?
Coke—and sometimes it’s my only nutrition during an ultra!
What are your race plans and goals for 2015?
It’s going to be an exciting year for me and the highlights include:
- April: London Marathon (this will be my 50th marathon or ultra in the last 8 ½ years and my 67th birthday!)
- May: The USATF 50-Mile Trail National Championship in Ithaca, NY
- June: The six-day, 143-mile Desert Rats stage race
- July: The Capitol Reef 100-miler (my daughters will be my pacers)
- August/September: The eight-day 160-mile 4-country Trans Alpine stage race with 50,000 feet of vertical
- October: The USATF Road Marathon National Championship at Twin Cities
- November: My hometown, Philadelphia Marathon
Who’s one person you’d like to run with?
Just about anybody born in the year 2040 or later! Actually, I sometimes daydream that I’m sharing my playlist with Mozart and that he’ll be inspired to compose something new when we get back from the run.
What race is top on your bucket list and why?
Honestly, the only way I can answer this question is, “So many races, so little time.”
If you would like to be featured in Going the Distance or know someone who should, please drop me a note.