The 2011 Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon

On Saturday I took a quick drive over to Boulware Springs to cover the 2011 Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon.  This was my first legitimate race experience, and even though I didn’t actually run the race, the energy and excitement of the race’s 254 participants left me completely motivated and inspired.

The race started about 10 minutes after its scheduled time of 8 a.m., and, for the first time this year, I could see my breath in the early morning air.

The starting line of the 2011 Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon

Chilly runners mingle before starting the Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon.

After the runners took off down their 13.1-mile run along the Hawthorne Trail, I knew I had about an hour and 10 minutes, give or take a couple, before the first-place runner came to the finish line.

This gave me a chance to chat with some of the race organizers, as well as fellow spectators.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again.  The running community here in Gainesville is 100 percent welcoming and encouraging.  Every person I met and talked to – and I mean every single one – was excited about the race, willing to talk to me “the reporting blogger” (if I asked for an interview) or willing to simply pass the time with me “the spectator that doesn’t know anyone.”

Here are some snippets of conversation I had with a few of the folks organizing, timing or participating in there race:

Mark Ou – race director, Florida Track Club member and Marathon Maniacs club member.

RG: Do you wish you could be running in the race today?

MO: Yeah, I wish I could run it, ’cause it was, like, I think it was the very first road-race I ever ran.  So then, like, when it was in danger of being cancelled, ’cause there was no one to take over the race directing, I decided to become race director.  So now, like, instead of running, I get to take care of all the runners... It’s more satisfying – to see people finish the race has been more satisfying than any race I’ve personally finished.

RG: How did the Florida Track Club get involved with the Milestone Race Authority [the company in charge of timing the race]?

MO: Actually, that was through one of [Florida Track Club’s] members, Barry Murphy, who was the race director for the Veteran’s Day Fisher House 5K.  He was looking into professional timing for that race… so after he talked to [company owner] Jim Shields, of Milestone, and arranged a quote and stuff, he said, “Oh, what if we do both races, if you’re going to be in Gainesville?” … so after we looked at it, we thought, “It’s an increase in our operational cost, but as far as, like, bringing value to the runners, it’s something that was really worth it.”  They brought a whole-different level of professionalism with all the setup.

RG: Does the track club make money from this race?

MO: Yeah, we make some money.  It’s not a huge profit.  There’s been years where we’ve probably lost money.  It’s not a primary goal for us to make money.  Although now that we’re on the [Hawthorne] trail, we like to share part of our profits with the Friends of Paynes Prairie.  It’s usually 20 to 25 percent of the net profit that we donate to them.  So we would like to make as much profit as possible, but it’s not the motivating factor.

_________________________________________________________

Jim Shields, founder of Milestone Race Authority, on how the electronic timing system works:

JS: What we have here with Jaguar [Chip Timing System] is we’ve got overhead antennas that will send out a signal to an electronic chip that is on the back of the bib.  And that chip is woken up by the first antenna, and then multiple antennas will read and track the runner as they come in.  The reads can come out as far as 30, 40 yards, and we know who is coming across the line before they actually come across.  The readers are keeping track of the people as they come [to the finish line].  The last reader that has a read on that chip, as they pass under it – boom, that’s their time.

_________________________________________________________

With about 20 minutes before the lead runners were supposed to be finishing, I made my way over to the finish line to find a nice view of the run’s home stretch.  There I met Pedro Pedroso, a Gainesville resident and engineer, who’s wife, Carmen, was running the race.

As it turns out, Carmen wasn’t always a runner.  She had to overcome a disability and ensuing self-confidence issues to become one.

Carmen Pedroso, Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon finisher.
(Audio below, as well as a transcript of the interview.)

RG: How did you get started running?

CP: Actually, it goes way back to when I was a little kid… I was born with a  clubbed foot.  My left foot was turned inwards, and I could not really walk normally. I couldn’t really do anything.  So for a number of years I wore, like, braces that went, like, from [my knees] to my ankles, and they did all this stuff over the years.  Well by the time I got old enough to stop wearing the braces, I was too self-conscious to try to, like, ride a bike or run or anything like that.  So I became very inactive, and after a number of years I ended up weighing up to 206 lbs. 

I had a little bit of a heart scare when I about 30-something or so, and that’s what made me, like, “Ok, I’ve got to do something about this.” So I started exercising.  I started, you know, watching what I ate a lot more, and slowly but surely lost 92 lbs, have kept them off for now for about four or five years.  I started running – at first it was running, quotation marks. I was really walking.  But, you know, after a while I got to two miles, three miles in, and now I just run half-marathons, marathons – it’s all fun.

RG: And how many marathons or half marathons have you run?

CP: Half marathons, I have run five.  This is actually my sixth now.  I have another one next weekend and another one three weeks from there.  And I’ve run two marathons.  My third one’s in Disney in January.

RG: That’s great! How’d you feel about today’s race?

CP: I actually felt really really good… This was my first half marathon ever, actually, so it was kind of nice to come back and do the course again and see how it went.  So, funny that, a couple of years ago my time was about 20-something minutes slower than today.  So it actually felt really good to see that clock.

RG: What keeps you motivated going through these really long races?

CP: I think it’s the fact that when you run you feel like you really are doing something good for you.  And it’s also cool for me to, like, see my friends who are wanting to lose weight become motivated by that.  And it’s almost like my motivating them motivates them and then they motivate me in return.  So it’s all a matter of just living a healthy life and just staying fit and just enjoying life to the fullest.

RG: Do you plan on running for the rest of your life?

CP: Oh yeah! I mean… of course, I’m not one of the fastest runners right now, I will admit. But I’m hoping that when I’m 80, enough people will have dropped out of running that I’ll finally be able to place in my age group.  That will be awesome.  But, yes, I’m hoping that it will be for life.

Pedro and Carmen Pedroso

Pedro and Carmen Pedroso after Carmen's completion of the Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon.

And here’s a video I shot of the race, which includes:

  • The race’s start.
  • The 1st overall finisher, Samuel Palmer, with an amazing time of 1:15:49.
  • The 1st women’s finisher, Sarah Petrick, with an equally amazing time of 1:23:08.
  • The post-race awards ceremony.

I’d like to thank Mark Ou, Jim and Hilary Shields, Barry Murphy, Tom White, and Pedro and Carmen Pedroso for being so warm and receptive to me, the stranger writing everything down.

I hope to see you all soon and at next year’s Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon – only next time I’m going to run it =)

-Ben

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Comparing Gainesville’s Running Stores – Part 2

Welcome back to day two of the 2011 Gainesville Running Store Royal Rumble.  Yesterday’s battle tested Gainesville’s four running-specific stores in the areas of parking availability, location and overall accessibility.

After two royal rumble rounds, Lloyd Clarke Sports and The Sports Authority, both 1-0 in competition, are looking down at Fit2Run and Gainesville Running and Walking, both 0-1 and one loss away from elimination.

Round 3: Online Presence

Lloyd Clarke Sports: LCS has an easily navigable website that allows customers to browse the inventory and shop online.  The store updates its Facebook page regularly, and LCS does have a Twitter account, but it has not been updated since September.  The store’s Digg and StumbleUpon pages are completely inactive.

Fit2Run: Turn on your speakers, and you’ll immediately notice why I can’t bear to be at F2R’s website for any extended period of time.  Aside from the unpleasant background noise, the site is easy to navigate and frequently updated, but does not offer online shopping.  The store’s Facebook page is updated daily, and they also an active Twitter account.

Gainesville Running and Walking: Google “Gainesville Running Store” and the first listing will be for GRW.  Props.  Unfortunately, the website is basic and bare.  No online shopping, and the “Products” page really needs some work.  GRW does update its Facebook page, but does not have a Twitter account.

The Sports Authority: With over 450 stores, SA had better have a functional website, and it does.  Phew.  You can browse the store’s products and shop online, too.  Facebook page? Check. Twitter account? Ditto.  The force is strong with this one.

Round 3 Winner: The Sports Authority (2-0)

Round 3 Loser: Gainesville Running and Walking (0-2) *Eliminated*

__________________________________________________________

The standings after three rounds:

The Sports Authority (2-0)

Lloyd Clarke Sports (1-0)

Fit2Run (0-1)

Gainesville Running and Walking (0-2)

__________________________________________________________

Round 4: Customer Service

Lloyd Clarke Sports: I’ve been to LCS roughly 10 times in the past two years, and I’ve never been disappointed with the service or attention I’ve received.  I’ve found the salesmen and women at LCS to be extremely knowledgeable about footwear and also about running form in general.  Furthermore, I recently had an employee go out of her way to answer a set of questions I had about Vibram FiveFingers for my Vibram trend piece.  Much appreciated.

Fit2Run: The Gainesville Fit2Run has only been open since August, but I’ve had a chance to visit the store three or four times now.  The employees have been friendly each time, and the ones that I’ve chatted with were serious about their own running.  In fact, I always seem to end up in a discussion about neat places to run in the area, and I’ve learned about a few new spots because of the Fit2Run staff.  They’re also very knowledgeable about the store’s products; earlier this week I was explained the difference in outsoles among the various FiveFingers shoes and how those outsoles cater to different running surfaces.  On the other hand, I have emailed the store’s owner twice now (his email address is available on the website) and have received no response either time.

The Sports Authority: I have visited Gainesville’s SA three times now, and I’ve always left with the same general impression of the employees there.  They are friendly and willing to help, but if you have specific and/or detailed questions about, for example, a particular pair of running shoes, you’ll likely have to ask elsewhere.  When I visited the store earlier this week, the salesman helping me was happy to retrieve a pair of shoes my size from the back of the store (twice) but admitted he was not a runner and didn’t seem to know any more than I about the shoes I was trying on.

Round 4 Winner: Lloyd Clarke Sports (2-0)

Round 4 Loser: The Sports Authority (2-1)

___________________________________________________________

The standings after four rounds:

Lloyd Clarke Sports (2-0)

The Sports Authority (2-1)

Fit2Run (0-1)

Gainesville Runing and Walking (0-2)

______________________________________________________

Round 5: Running Product Selection

Lloyd Clarke Sports: By my count, LCS has about 190 men’s running shoes on its shoe wall and about 200 women’s shoes on the wall.  There are about 10 pairs of shoes, at any given time, on sale and set aside from the shoe wall.  LCS also carries 17 styles of Vibrams, as well as other minimalist shoes.  Some other running-specific products you’ll find in the store include: socks, compression sleeves, shorts, shirts, flasks, gels, watches and too others more to include here.

The Sports Authority: The SA has two small shoe walls for men’s running shoes and two more for women’s running shoes, with each wall holding 35 shoes.  The store also has a Nike shoe wall holding some 50 pairs of shoes.  There are also roughly 10 pairs of shoes on sale and set aside from the shoe walls.  The SA does not carry Vibram shoes, but does carry other minimalist shoes including, as of Tuesday, adidas’ venture into the minimalist world: the adidas adiPure Trainer.

Fit2Run: Fit2Run, like the SA, has two shoe walls, one for men and one for women, each holding about 150 pairs of shoes.  The store carries seven styles of Vibrams for men and nine styles for women.  Although there are no obvious shoe sales, F2R does offer a 10 percent discount on all store mechandise to its Club Fit2Run members.  F2R also has an obscene amount of running accessories including: apparel, watches, gels, powders, magazines, muscle-massage devices and much more.

Round 5 Winner: Lloyd Clarke Sports (3-0)

Round 5 Loser: The Sports Authority (2-2) *Eliminated*

__________________________________________________________

The standings after five rounds:

Lloyd Clarke Sports (3-0)

Fit2Run (0-1)

The Sports Authority (2-2)

Gainesville Running and Walking (0-2)

__________________________________________________________

Come back Monday, when I will crown the 2011 Gainesville Running Store Royal Rumble Champion.  Will it be Gainesville’s established veteran running store, Lloyd “Lightning Foot” Clarke Sports, or will it be the brash newcomer, “The Fabulous One” Fit2Run?

-Ben

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Comparing Gainesville’s Running Stores – Part 1

Gainesville Running Store Royal Rumble 2011

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first-ever Gainesville Running Store Royal Rumble!  Today’s no-holds-barred battle will determine the strongest of the strong, the toughest of the tough and the most dynamic of the dynamic of Gainesville’s running stores.  The stores selected to participate in today’s competition are either entirely running specific or have a running-specific section and are located in Gainesville proper or its closest neighbor, Tioga.

Today’s battle will occur by round, with each round testing a specific category of the running stores, for example, shoe variety, online presence etc.  Each round will have one winner and one loser.  Any store that loses two rounds is eliminated from the competition.  The store left standing after all others are eliminated will be crowned the 2011 Gainesville Running Store Royal Rumble Champion.

Before we begin, let’s meet the contestants:

Lloyd “Lightning Foot” Clarke Sports:

  • Est. 1976 – Gainesville, Fla.
  • One location.

“The Fabulous One” Fit2Run:

  • Est. Dec. 6, 2006 – Sarasota, Fla.
  • Five locations, all in Florida.

Gainesville “The Giant-Killer” Running and Walking:

  • Est. April, 2008 – Tioga, Fla.
  • One location.

The “Big Daddy” Sports Authority:

  • Est. 1987 – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • 450+ locations in 45 states.

And now, if you’ll please turn your attention to my good friend, Mr. Michael Buffer:

Round 1: Parking

Lloyd Clarke Sports: Located in a small strip mall, LCS has a handful of store-specific (customer only) spots directly in front of the store, including handicap spaces.  The number of spaces, in total, is limited, but rarely have I seen the parking lot completely full.

Fit2Run: Sitting in the center of Oaks Mall, Gainesville’s largest and most popular, F2R has hundreds of parking spaces, including handicapped, to offer its customers.  Unfortunately, those closest to the mall entrance are almost always taken, and, of course, there is no front-of-store parking here.

Gainesville Running and Walking: Like Lloyd Clarke, GRW resides in a small strip mall with front-of-store parking.  GRW, however, offers its customers more parking spaces than LCS but does not have GRW-specific spots.

The Sports Authority: Tucked away in its own authoritative area about a quarter mile west of F2R, SA boasts roughly 100 parking spots, including handicapped, all located within 100 yards of the store’s front entrance.  I have yet to see this parking lot even somewhat full.

Round 1 Winner: The Sports Authority (1-0)

Round 1 Loser: Fit2Run (0-1)

____________________________________________________________

Round 2: Location and Accessibility

Lloyd Clarke Sports1504 Northwest 13th Street: LCS is directly north, about a mile, of the northeast corner of the UF campus.  The strip mall has entrances on both Northwest 13th Street and Northwest 16th Avenue.

Fit2Run6233 West Newberry Road: F2R is roughly three miles west and slightly north of UF’s campus.  The stretch of Newberry Road between Northwest 55th Street and I-75 is one of the most congested in Gainesville and is one of my least favorite places to drive in the area.

Gainesville Running and Walking13005 SW 1st Road #139: You’ll find GRW some five miles directly west of Fit2Run.  This means, unfortunately, you’ll have to pass I-75, heading west, to get there, assuming you’re traveling from Gainesville.  There are three entrances to the Tioga Town Center, where you’ll find GRW.  One is well before GRW, one is seemingly after you’ve passed the center, and the most direct entrance requires a U-turn.

The Sports Authority7400 West Newberry Road: In between Fit2Run and Gainesville Running and Walking lies The Sports Authority.  You’ll have to pass I-75 and its traffic, but at least you won’t have to drive out to Tioga.  There’s a pretty large SA sign at the entrance point, so although the store is tucked back from Newberry Road, it’s hard to miss.

Round 2 Winner: Lloyd Clarke Sports (1-0)

Round 2 Loser: Gainesville Running and Walking (0-1)

_____________________________________________________________

The standings after two rounds:

Lloyd Clarke Sports (1-0)

The Sports Authority (1-0)

Gainesville Running and Walking (0-1)

Fit2Run (0-1)

After two rounds, we’ve judged the stores on their parking-space availability and convenience as well as their location in relation to central Gainesville and their overall accessibility.

Competition will be postponed until tomorrow, when we’ll move inside the stores and take a look at store size, product selection and variety, and customer service.

Until then, I leave you with this T-shirt, which I found and photographed at Gainesville Running and Walking.  They must be fans of the blog =)

I Run Gainesville

No, I Run Gainesville!

-Ben

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10 Things I’ve Learned From Three Years of Running

1.  Trail running can lead to secluded fantasy-inducing encounters with sexy, and often sweat soaked, women or men.

2.  Sadly, he or she may have a different take on the matter.

3.  You will have to poop on some of your runs.

4.  Whether or not you do (doo?) depends on how far you’ve run.

5.  After a run, you may, occasionally, be too tired for sex.

6.  If you’re turning down sex because you’re tired, I hate you.

7.  Runners resent runners that don’t acknowledge other runners.  Even a hand-raise pseudo wave will suffice.  Ignore me altogether, and I will take your mother out to a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

8.  You will be asked for money, even if it’s obvious you don’t have pockets.

9. Dogs, and likely other animals, will scare the shit out of you at some point during a run.  This includes surprise spiders webs.

10.  You make puke at some point during a run, though hopefully not on the side of 441 during rush hour, while a convertible full of sorority girls laugh hysterically as they snap photos of you on the iPhones, the locations of which remain unknown despite various “puke” and “run” related Google searches…

Oh, any by the way,

LSU 21 –  Trent Richa…err…Alabama 24

Ben

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Vibram FiveFingers Sales Soaring – Part 2

(In case you missed it, here’s Part 1)

By Benjamin Markus, October 2011

The trend: coming or going?

Although FiveFingers sales soared last year and are expected to double this year, Tommasi said, others believe the legs of the barefoot-running movement are tiring quickly.

“Believe me,” Galloway said.  “This fad has already started to go away.”

Galloway said that overtraining in minimalist footwear, or no footwear, causes thousands of runners to be injured, which, in turn, leads to detrimental word-of-mouth, which eventually kills the fad.

“The only people that are really benefiting from [the barefoot-running movement] are the orthopedists and the podiatrists,” Galloway joked at Sunday’s Florida Track Club meeting.

Joe Parr, a sales representative at Gainesville Running and Walking in Tioga, Fla., said he thinks the trend is “definitely on the downswing,” for reasons similar to those mentioned by Galloway.

“We are actually seeing more and more people coming in with injuries from [FiveFingers],” Parr said.

Although Gainesville Running and Walking does not sell Vibram shoes, the store does sell a variety of other minimalist-inspired shoes, which, Parr says, sell worse than traditional running shoes.

However, representatives from Gainesville’s Vibram-selling stores, of which there are two, Fit2Run and Lloyd Clarke Sports, say they believe otherwise, with respect to the growth of barefoot running and its related merchandise.

Dana Howard, a manager at Lloyd Clarke Sports, said she thinks the popularity of Vibram FiveFingers is still growing.

“We don’t feel like it’s hit its peak yet,” Howard said.

Lloyd Clarke Sports, which is in its third year selling FiveFingers and is the second-largest of the four FiveFingers accounts in Florida, sells 17 styles of FiveFingers shoes.  The shoes occupy the highest number of spots of any shoe on the sales wall and sell the best of any minimalist shoe, Howard said.

Likewise, Cortney Benson, a sales representative at Fit2Run, Gainesville’s newest running store, said that sales of FiveFingers are “definitely” still rising and added that she thinks the shoes have a good reputation in the running community.

Since the store’s opening in August, Benson said Fit2Run has sold more than 230 pairs of FiveFingers, with 92 pairs sold in September, the store’s only full month of operation.

 A shared belief among runners

The one feature of barefoot-inspired running on which Galloway, Howard, Parr and Benson seem to uniformly agree is the necessity of a slow and gradual transition into minimalist-footwear use.

Anthony Traina, 25, said he, too, agrees with gradually transitioning into the use of minimalist footwear, and specifically, FiveFingers.

Traina has run daily since middle school and has owned a pair of FiveFingers for just under a year now.  He said he has not been limiting in the surfaces on which he runs with the shoes but did say that he has eased into his use of the shoes.

“You can’t just… jump in them and run on asphalt or cement for three miles,” Traina said. “It needs to be kind of a slow progress, which I’ve tried to make sure to do over the course of the year.”

Traina added that he has never had a serious running injury and said he plans on purchasing another pair of FiveFingers when the time comes.

“I think in a month I might have to invest in a new pair if I want to keep running with them, which I really do,” Traina said.

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Vibram FiveFingers Sales Soaring – Part 1

By Benjamin Markus – October 2011

Picture a pair of running shoes.

Picture a pair of leather gloves.

Now imagine the running shoes fitting your feet just like those gloves fit your hands, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the design of Vibram FiveFingers shoes.

FiveFingers have emerged as the most-recognizable shoes of the barefoot-running movement that has swarmed, and occasionally divided, the running world over the last several years.  FiveFingers are designed with a thin rubber sole, among other features, which allows runners to simulate the movement and feel of barefoot running without the blisters and cuts of the actual practice.

Along with an increase in the recognizability of Vibram FiveFingers has come an increase in sales of the shoes nationwide.  Sales increased 500 percent last year and are expected to double this year, said Anne Tommasi, whose public relations firm, Tommasi Public Relations, represents Vibram.

Although Vibram has been around since 1937, its FiveFingers shoes were invented in 1999 and only made public in 2005.  The company, Tommasi added, “is more than 100-times larger than it was a few years ago.”

The barefoot-running movement

The popularity of FiveFingers must, almost wholly, be attributed to the barefoot-running movement that has, particularly over the last two years, sprinted into the foreground of the American running scene.

Many consider Christopher McDougall and his 2009 best-selling book, “Born To Run,” the starting pistols of the movement.

Within the book, McDougall highlights the Tarahumara Indian tribe of Mexico, whose members run upwards of 100 miles at a time – the length of, roughly, four marathons – in nothing but thin-soled homemade shoes.  And, McDougall adds, they do this into old age and, generally, without injury.

A proponent of barefoot running himself, McDougall says he began the practice after many years of running in traditional thick-soled, padded shoes and subsequent frequent injury.  Since adopting the Tarahumara’s running techniques, McDougall says he has been injury-free.

However, McDougall didn’t introduce barefoot running to the United States; he simply brought it to the masses.

Famed runner, Olympian and author Jeff Galloway says he has seen barefoot-running movements come-and-go five times throughout his 53 years of running.

“About every 10 years there will be something in the media that will induce people to do it,” Galloway said at a Florida Track Club meeting on Sunday.  “In the ‘80s, it was Zola Budd, who ran in the Olympics barefoot and started a whole trend of barefooted running and minimal-shoe running at that time.”

Budd’s popularity, Galloway said, coincided with the release and subsequent popularity of the Aqua Sock, as well as other minimalist-minded shoes by companies such as Nike.

Continue on to Part 2

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Jeff Galloway’s Florida Track Club Hall of Fame Induction

The Florida Track Club honored one of its longest standing members and most notable runners, Jeff Galloway, on Monday, inducting the author and Olympian as the first member of the FTC’s newly formed Hall of Fame.

In front of a crowd of about 50, Florida Track Club Vice President Rob Barnes said the club had decided that something special was in order for Galloway’s visit.  Unbeknownst to just about everybody in attendance, that something special was the creation of the FTC Hall of Fame and the induction of its first member.

Here’s a 4-minute video I shot of the induction, beginning with Barnes’ introduction of Galloway:

Galloway spoke, in all, for about half an hour at Monday’s meeting and answered every question the FTC crowd threw at him.

Here are some tips and advice I took away from Galloway’s talk:

  • Runners need to drink water and eat sugar during runs.
    • Galloway suggested drinking two to four oz. of water every two to four miles of running.  Eating sugar during a run, be it hard candy, sugar cubes or even “sugar packs from McDonald’s,” is also essential because the brain, without enough sugar, will begin to shut the body down, Galloway said.
  • Runners should walk periodically during runs.
    • Galloway, throughout his talk, emphasized the importance of rest for runners.  Whether it be reducing the number of training days per week or taking walk breaks during runs, rest allows runners to maximize performance and avoid injury.
  • For every hour of running, humans extend their lives by two hours.
    • On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve read that smoking a cigarette cuts seven minutes off one’s life.  Quit smoking + start running = live longer!
  • Thousands of runners have hurt themselves trying to run barefoot or in minimalist footwear.
    • Galloway joked that orthopedists and podiatrists have benefited the most from the barefoot-running movement.  While I don’t necessarily agree that the practice should be avoided altogether, as Galloway seemed to suggest, I do think overdoing it in minimalist footwear is a surefire recipe for injury.
  • Running releases endorphins, which makes you feel good!
    • Galloway said that while he has many times felt crappy at some point during a run, and has a few times felt awful throughout an entire run, he has never not felt good after a run.  He said he runs six days a week so as not to miss out on any potential endorphins.
Jeff Galloway – Olympian, author and Florida Track Club HOFer

For more training tips from the master, visit Jeff Galloway’s official website.

Want to come out to the next Florida Track Club meeting?  Head over to the FTC website for dates and times.

Ben

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Hey Gainesville: Like running? Like beer? Try Hashing!

When a good friend mentioned that I should get involved with Hashing, or at least write about it on my blog, I was at first hesitant.

For starters, in grade school, the D.A.R.E. Program had warned my class that this would land us in jail or out on the streets.

DARE - Drug Abuse Resistance Education

But after learning that neither the Grateful Dead nor Cheech & Chong had anything to do with Hashing, I was a little more open to the idea.

Besides, I have always loved homefries and chocolate-chip pancakes.  Maybe Hashing was something I should be writing about?

However, after some extensive investigative research, i.e., finding my Google Bookmark, I came to learn that Hashing had nothing to do with illegal substances or, sadly, food.

It’s about beer.

Oh, and running, too.

Hashing, I came to find, is the graceful art of drinking beer and running, though generally not at the same time.

Although Hashing can get a little involved, the general idea is that a group of Hashers, known as the Pack or Hounds, follow a trail laid by a lead Hasher, the Hare.  The Pack/Hounds follow the Hare, often through water, mud and forest, until the final Hash destination.  The reward for completing a Hash?  You Guinnessed it.

There are Hashing events and communities all over the world.  Take, for example, the tightly knit community in Guam.

And, as it turns out, there is a Hashing community right here in Gainesville.

Last week I sat down with one of Gainesville’s most active hashers, Jason Monsorno, over a glass of … milk … and discussed Hashing here in Gainesville.

Jason Monsorno, aka, "Moulin Spooge"

Monsorno, a 24-year-old UF graduate student, is a member of the Gainesville Area Thirsty Runners (GATR), Gainesville’s own Hashing “kennel,” or group, and one of 20 or so kennels throughout Florida.

“You are probably 45-minutes away from a Hash, and if you aren’t, that’s how they start,” Monsorno said.

At its most basic, Hashing is a social activity – a “drinking club with a running problem.”

“It’s all kind of one big fraternity,” Monsorno said of the camaraderie among Hashers.

Like fraternities, Hashing groups have ceremonies, one of which is the presentation of Hashing nicknames, or Hashnames.

Monsorno’s GATR Hashname –  Moulin Spooge – which he said (and I am quite happy believing) stems from another hobby of his: burlesque photography.

A couple of other Hashnames I came across during my Hashvestigations:

  • Ranger Dufus White Boy
  • Why Would Jesus Hold My Poo?
  • Grande Oregano Guano

and my personal favorite:

  • Harvey Hinkler Hamster Humper

Hashers in Peru go to great lengths for a cold brew

One of the neatest things about Hashing, in my opinion, is the lack of pretension in the community.

Although the group’s activities revolve around running and drinking, Monsorno maintains that you don’t need to be good at, or even able to do either to participate. (“Not everyone is Gung-ho about drinking.”)

And your first time Hashing, at least here in Gainesville, is free.

To get involved with Hashing here in the ‘Ville, check out the GATR calendar for Hash dates and events.  Other than that, all that’s required is a friendly attitude (and 21 years of life experience).

“To get involved, you just show up,” Monsorno said. “It’s really as simple as that.”

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Five Fun Ways to Warm Up For Your Run

“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?!”

For many runners, warming up for a run is a lot like eating your veggies (or meat, if you’re English or in Pink Floyd) before dessert.  You know you’ve got to do it, but you don’t really want to.

The solution to this quandary is not to skip the warm-up but to distract yourself from the fact that you’re actually warming up.

In other words: make it fun.

Of course, fun for me may not be fun for you.  But perhaps my fun warm-up ideas will get your fun juices flowing, activating a fun reaction that could pop the head off of Barney himself.

(Adult-film makers, my ideas are for sale.)

Anyway, here are five fun warm-up ideas for Gainesville runners looking to switch it up a bit:

  • Throw a Frisbee:
  • This is my favorite way to warm up for a run, although it does require a partner.  Throwing the Frisbee or “tossing the disc,” as it’s known in Ultimate lingo, is a great way to loosen-up your legs, hips and upper body.  Lunges, lateral movement and hip rotation are all fundamental Frisbee movements and are great warm-ups for runners.  Fyi, the cheapest 170-gram Frisbee in town is at Lloyd Clarke Sports – $9.99.  See UF’s own Brodie Smith’s Frisbee trick video for some inspiration.
  • Practice Martial Arts:
  • Martial Arts are great for increasing strength, flexibility and stamina, both physical and mental.  And let’s be honest, anyone who’s ever watched a Bruce Lee flick has either thought: “Man I wish I could do that!” or “How on Earth did this guy get so jacked?”  Martial Arts, baby.  My style of choice is Kung Fu, and I like to get some punches, kicks and/or poses in before a run.  By the way, you did know that Bruce Lee was a runner, too, right?

Bruce Lee on a runner's limits

  • Climb:
  • Climbing = total body fitness.  It works the legs, arms, feet, hands, abs and just about every other muscle group we have.  And although Gainesville is, for the most part, flat (as discussed in my hill-workout post), there is no shortage of objects – trees, walls, etc. – to climb.  Gainesville also has a couple of good spots for traditional rock climbing, namely the Gainesville Rock Gym and the 55-foot Climbing Wall at Lake Wauburg South.
  • Go Skateboarding:
  • Skateboarding, in the classic sense, is not the ideal runner’s warm-up, but I’ve found it a fun and surprisingly effective way to get ready for a run. For starters, skateboarding is a great way to work on balance.  If you’re comfortable riding with a particular foot forward, try riding with your other foot forward.  It’s harder than it looks.  You can also work your legs, and particularly your quads, by riding in a low crouched position, kind of like this goofball. (I like to pretend I’m in the barrel of a big wave when I ride this way.)
  • Go for a Swim:
  • You’ve heard it before.  And now you’ll hear it again: swimming is a great workout for your entire body.  Add in Gainesville’s warm weather and the potential for people-watching at the pool, and you’ve got the ideal run warm-up.  Moreover, if you have a bathing suit you feel comfortable running in, you can get out of the pool, put on your shoes and run – just like that.  I like to swim at the Florida Pool (free with Gator1) or the Dwight H. Hunter Pool (map) if I’m not on campus.

So, Gainesville, how do you warm up for a run?

-Ben

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Gainesville’s Newest Running Store: Fit2Run at The Oaks Mall

Inside Fit2Run – The Runner’s Superstore

“You name it, we got it,” says Shane Stroup, the store manager of Gainesville’s newest running store: Fit2Run.

Fit2Run – “The Runner’s Superstore” – opened its fifth store, in August, right here in Gainesville at The Oaks Mall.

Although it’s not the only Gainesville store that caters to runners (Lloyd Clarke Sports and Sports Authority), it is the only store in the ‘Ville dedicated solely (pardon the pun) to runners.

Fit2Run’s uniqueness, however, is not limited to its customer base.

What separates Fit2Run from the other running stores in the area, Stroup says, is its live gait analysis.

The store is equipped with four treadmills, each fitted with a video camera aimed at the runners feet and a television monitor for slow-motion playback and analysis.  From there, employees can check a runner’s gait for foot-strike pattern and foot pronation/supination (heel bone angling inward/outward).

Though employees at Fit2Run wouldn’t let me videotape a gait analysis, the treadmill/camera set up looks very much like this:

(Video by: MlatiMudan22)

“Other stores in the area don’t offer that service,” Stroup says.

Another Fit2Run service unique among Gainesville running stores is its Club Fit2Run.  Members of Club Fit2Run, which costs $30 to join, save 10% on all store merchandise, have a 30-day trial period on new shoes, receive advance email notification of special events and promotions, and receive “double discounts” on store sales.

The club membership ensures Fit2Run’s customers won’t get stuck with a pair of shoes that doesn’t feel or fit right, Stroup says.

However, Fit2Run doesn’t just sell shoes.

Take a walk around the spacious store, which features its own mini running track, and you will also find:

  • Gators apparel: hats, T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts etc.
  • Watches
  • Energy gels and supplements
  • Socks
  • Blister pads and treatment products
  • Shoe laces and accessories

At the moment an exclusively Florida-based store, Fit2Run started in Sarasota in 2006, Stroup told me in an in-store interview last week.  The business is family owned and run by Bill Robinson and his son, Parks.

Stroup, an ’07 University of Florida graduate and member of both the Gators’ Track and Field and Cross Country teams, said he started at Fit2Run’s Tampa store in 2008 and “jumped at the opportunity” to return to and work in Gainesville.

His favorite place to run in Gainesville?  San Felasco State Park.

Mine too, Shane.

For more information visit Fit2Run’s official website, call at 352-872-5860 or visit them at The Oaks Mall.  Not sure where that is?  Here’s a map.

-Ben

Posted in Gainesville Running Stores | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments