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Some Reasons to Race

The following blog entry was written by Mike Cannon, our PR Manager.  Please scroll through the blog entries to find other posts by Mike (or just read all the blog entries while you’re at it!)

You do not need to enter a single race to be a runner.  To be a runner you need only to run.  But as a runner, you have opportunities that people with other hobbies (interests? activities? obsessions?) don’t have.  Without traveling farther than the distance of a typical DC commute, you can run a race every single weekend of the year.  I know of no other sport or activity in the US which can boast more than 22,000 events per year, and all but about three or four open to the general public.

Okay, so there are lots of races which you do not have to enter to be a runner.  Here are a few reasons that I think you should anyway:

The feeling you get as you cross the finish line will last a lifetime.  Entering a race, especially your first, can be very nerve racking.  But once you’re off and running you’ll settle down and will forget the anxiety.  The elation you feel as you cross the finish line is much harder to forget.

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”  — Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

Entering a race can break up the monotony and routine of running for fun, health, and fitness.  It doesn’t take too long to settle into a running routine that gets monotonous.  Monotony breeds complacency, which makes it more likely […]

By |March 10th, 2012|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Some Reasons to Race

Good for What Ails You

The following blog entry was written by Wednesday-morning warrior (and happy newlywed) Jake Boyer:

I started running because I was bored and lonely.

By started, I guess I mean “started seriously running on my own.” I ran plenty when I was younger, either a single mile or so once a year when either Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted me to earn a patch or a different single mile or so when my football coaches decided the team needed it. There were a couple individual fits and starts in college. Then I graduated and joined the Army. Of course, I did a lot of forced running over the ensuing six years.

God, I hated it. There were times it was fun. When I was a young specialist, my buddies and I would push each other on every run. But mostly, I just hated running. I’d get bored, my back would hurt, my knees would hurt, it was raining, the track was iced over; my complaints were endless. Yet somehow, I always did enough mostly to pull in a decent time on the two-mile run the Army insisted I complete every six months. I was never a stud, but I wasn’t ever in danger of failing either.

I left active duty in 2008 and joined the Reserve while I figured out civilian life. Finally, an Army in which they barely ever made me run! I still had to do that two-mile thing every six months, but that would take care of itself. I cruised through life, met my now-wife (many of you know her as Melissa), and watched my scores on the Army Physical Fitness Test trend downward while my weight – which I finally tamed during the last two years I was on […]

By |February 16th, 2012|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Good for What Ails You

Running (While) Away from Home

The following entry was written by our extraordinary May Day 5K race timing head honcho, Ken Smith.

If you’re like me, you are sometimes bestowed with the great honor of traveling for work. It doesn’t matter whether it’s near or far–if you’re spending the night, you’re left to ponder several points on how to schedule a run into your travel.

Last week, I was “away on travel” in Dupont Circle for Week 4 of a four-week leadership development program with 79 other people.  During the day, I’m loaded up with activities from 6:45 a.m. to around 5 p.m. Right off, that means that if I’m going to enjoy human interaction over dinner, then I have to run in the early dark hours, unless I can find some other folks who are also jonesin’ for a run after a long day of instruction. Normally, I’m getting up at 5 a.m., but I agree to meet colleagues and be ready to run at that time. They don’t know where Rock Creek Park is, so I offer to be the guide. The night before, I tell myself I want to run to burn off the extra calories and compensate for the lower daytime activity level, but the commitment to people was truthfully the only thing that got me out of bed.  I’m feeling satisfied. Two show up plus me, and I talk non-stop with a very nice colleague from Buffalo. The other guy has headphones on, incommunicado, reminding me of a slug sitting in the backseat of my car on the HOV. We go six easy miles and I feel great.

When I’m on travel in unfamiliar places, I try to stick to out-and-back routes.  I’ve had awkward experiences where four left […]

By |January 31st, 2012|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Running (While) Away from Home

A Journey to Running

The following blog entry was written by Patrick Howard, our fearless May Day 5K race director.

Since I was contracted to do a blog post for the RidgeRunners Club, I thought it might be interesting to recount how I got to where I am now, someone who willingly goes out in all sorts of temperatures to pound the pavement in my trademark deliberate (slow) manner.  I apologize for the length of this entry but it’s the only way I know how to tell the full story.

To summarize my youth, I was heavily involved in sports as a kid, baseball and soccer mostly, but being a more accomplished baseball player dictated that I would concentrate on that sport once I hit high school.  I also had a brief relationship with football in high school for which I didn’t care much.  Both baseball and football are marked by short bursts of sprinting and periods of rest, but I’d imagine the total distance run in any one game (especially as a pitcher or defensive lineman) is less than one mile and probably not close to that.

Once I hit college, I had briefly considered walking onto the baseball team (many of the pitchers were walk-ons) but found that I had lost the desire to work constantly at the sport.  When you compare that against all the newfound freedom I had discovered (mostly beer, parties, and women) my choice became easy.  My focus changed and I became a gym rat.  I loved weight training; I threw myself into it and was even employed for a time by the school gym.

To this point, my only real serious running training was one college summer with an old high school friend named Dan.  Dan […]

By |January 23rd, 2012|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Journey to Running

Diary of a Wimpy (Running) Kid

January 1, 2012

We kick off the New Year in swanking style with a plastic-cup-and-apple-cider toast to the club’s future health smack in the middle of the McCoart Administrative Center parking lot. Luckily JC has a bottle cap opener (cheers to the makers of twist-off caps) and police officers don’t stop by to investigate suspicious early morning group drinking. The Parkway beckons and off we go on a long run marked by brisk weather and a bright rising sun.

January 2, 2012

I am running solo on the CCT and the Giles Run Loop at Laurel Hills and nothing is going right. I am feeling the burn of yesterday’s long run and the hills are killing me. Chanting mantra “Epsom Salts bath, Epsom Salts bath” does nothing to improve my performance. If anything, I’m fizzling down fast, as if in imitation of said bath. Note to self: change mantra.

January 4, 2012

Skipped yesterday’s group run on the coldest recorded day of the season. (I do suffer, after all, from achy bones and cold symptoms. And my husband refuses to care for me if achy bones syndrome develops into full-fledged flu after I return from a sweaty run.) Today fares no better yet I venture out for my usual “W-shaped” seven-miler (Hedges, Cotton, Mohican, Cotton, Antietam). I realize that I am attracting my fair share of stares from passing car drivers. Is my nose running? Am I suffering from spontaneous facial boils? I would ask a dog walker or fellow runner but I see absolutely no one on these streets. And I get it: They are looking at me because I’m the only crazy […]

By |January 12th, 2012|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Diary of a Wimpy (Running) Kid

A Trivial Reason To Race

Our latest blog entry comes courtesy of Mike Cannon, public relations maven, running enthusiast, and United States Air Force colonel. 

Here’s a trivia question for you:  How many uniformed services are there in the United States?

I bet most of you answered either four or five, but there are actually seven.  Pretty much everybody knows the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force from the Department of Defense and the Coast Guard from the Department of Homeland Security.  But most people are unaware of the other two Sea Services, the Department of Health and Human Service’s Public Health Service Commissioned Corps led by the US Surgeon General (who, interestingly enough, is an Admiral) and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  As sea services, they wear uniforms/ranks similar to those of the Navy and Coast Guard.

You may be asking, “So what does this have to do with running?”  Well, I’m glad you asked.  The answer is, nothing and everything, at least for me.   I think Major John MacGillis (Gerald McRainey’s character in the old TV show Major Dad) summed it up when asked why he ran.  He answered, “I’m a Marine and Marines run.”   This holds true for all of the uniformed services, which, in addition to rigorous educational, professional, and ethical standards, have pretty stringent physical requirements as well.  I’m an Airman and Airmen run.

So in recognition of the running done across the uniformed services and to honor those who serve, I am planning to run a race sponsored by each of the services in 2012.  It was pretty easy finding races sponsored by the larger DoD services, but the others required some significant research.  Fortunately, being in the DC area makes this endeavor a […]

By |November 3rd, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Trivial Reason To Race

Runner-at-Large Posts from Idaho

The following post was written by our intrepid commando (yes, as in underwearless) and milk-mustachioed Runner-at-Large Brennan Kemp.

What’s good people! My name is Brennan Kemp and I’m a member of the Lake Ridge RidgeRunners. I am on the Cross Country team at BYU-Idaho. Idaho air is so different than back home in Virginia; the air is so dry here that walking upstairs winds me out.

For practice, we are separated into teams according to our class time and when we can join our group.  All teams are co-ed, with a ratio of four girls to one guy. I love it.  There are three time slots, and within those slots are one to two squads. During the practice I attend, my coach has us do harder and faster workouts (sprints, mid-distance, hills, long drills, etc,) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and long distance (6-7 miles) on Tuesday and Thursday. We usually run through the city of Rexburg then hit the fields going towards the mountains for our long distance runs. For our shorter distance stuff, we stay on campus and mainly on the track.

The weather here has shifted many times since I joined.  Back in September, we would run in 70-80 degree weather. Now it’s snowing and raining, and on average 35 degrees.

We’ve only had two races so far. The first was a relay where in which we ran 1.5 miles on a very awkwardly-sloped field and the second was a 5K that was mostly flat and mixed elements of the city with giant fields behind some townhouses.

Advice for running: Don’t drink milk or eat meat beforehand. Don’t wear underwear. Listen to a song you want to run to before a race, because it sucks when you get a random or crap song stuck in […]

By |October 8th, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Runner-at-Large Posts from Idaho

Race Volunteers: Saving One Knucklehead at a Time

The following entry was written by Mike Cannon, our Gandalf-skilled public relations wizard:

Most members of running clubs have or will run in an organized race or two.  Maybe it is only a local 5K or Turkey Trot or maybe it’s the Boston Marathon.  Some cost almost nothing to enter, while others cost a small fortune.  But the one thing they all have in common is that they absolutely rely on volunteers.  Without them, there would be no amateur road races.  They perform functions behind the scenes and in your face.  Some volunteer before or after the race and some during.  They hand out water and they pick up trash.  They cheer on runners and they tabulate results.

I will never forget my first marathon, particularly when I neared mile 22 and I was spent.  It took all of my focus just to continue to put one foot in front of the other.  It was then that a volunteer saved the day.  He jumped in front of me and pointed to my left just as I was about to run past a six-foot tall sign with a big red arrow on it pointing left boldly emblazoned with “Runners Turn Here.”  I would have kept running straight (after all, it was such a tiny sign, how could they expect me to see it?) and been off course for who knows how long.

After that race and because of that one guy, I decided that for every four races I run, I would volunteer at one.  It seemed like a fair trade and, quite honestly, most non-runners aren’t interested in races enough to even watch and much less volunteer.  So it is up to us runners to support each other.  […]

By |September 28th, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Race Volunteers: Saving One Knucklehead at a Time

Make an Appointment

The following entry was written by Jennifer Rokasky, our supernaturally gifted and organized registrar:

So I started running with the RidgeRunners back in July 2011.  I am a teacher and since the school year has started, I’m finding it more and more difficult to schedule my running and workouts.  So now I’m making an appointment for myself.  The idea popped in my head recently.  It was a long week of work.  The last run I did was on Sunday and it was now Thursday.  I really didn’t want to go to for the run, I had grading to do, lesson plans to make, websites to update, well the list just seems to go on and on throughout the school year.  So with the encouragement of a coworker, I went to the 5:30 speed work and 6:00 run.   It was hard, but I was glad I did it!

Since January, I managed to lose 40 lbs.  This was through proper eating and working out regularly, but I haven’t been doing a regular workout since school started again.  So my plan is now to make an appointment to work out and run.  It’s so easy for people to get sidetracked by work, friends, and family. But now, I am making an appointment with myself to go for that run or to do that workout.  Because I have to take care of myself first, there will always be a time to catch up with other things.  When you work out, whether it is running or strength training, you know you always feel better afterwards.

So join me in making an appointment to run with the Lake Ridge RidgeRunners on a Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday…or better, all three!

Jen

By |September 23rd, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Make an Appointment

When Your Body Has a Mind of Its Own

There are days when going out for a run feels like a personal Olympic journey: the skies are clear and cool, the road beckons, and the body just won’t quit—pounding pavement as if it were air—until it reaches the golden ribbon of victory ahead.  And then there are those other days, when everything seems to go wrong.  The past two weeks have been of the latter variety for me. 

I am usually the crazy chick who envisions a world full of complicit runners, waving my hand with pageant-like flair while smiling at anyone who crosses my path.  This month, all I saw were speed demons reminding me that my body has been really uncooperative of late.  My pace has eerily slowed and on more than one occasion—even on my regular five-mile route—all I’ve wanted to do was take a breather mid-run to avoid losing my dinner.

Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.  The only remedy is to run more, but at a pace that feels fine and free of undue stress.  For me, the turning point on my mental and physical descent came yesterday during our Burke Lake Park group run.  Jennifer, Myrna, Heath, Ernie, and I set out for the first loop at a comfortable pace that gave me back my confidence. 

I was reminded that my body can indeed do this; that it has done this far, far longer and faster before; and that I have already reached solid personal goals on my life’s running path.  That reminder came loud and clear on the second loop and beyond when I realized that Ernie and I had just completed 11 miles in easy conversation.  My body seemed to say, “You can do this, babe.  Stop worrying—you can’t always win.”  As pithy as […]

By |August 15th, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on When Your Body Has a Mind of Its Own