The Martian Marathon: A Rogue Invasion

alienby Chris McClung
“Who ever heard of a Martian not invading? Who!”  – Ray Bradbury

What would happen if Rogues descended in mass upon a small, local marathon?

Sure, we’ve sent runners in droves to destination races before. But, for the most part, they have been larger races like Portland, Chicago, Twin Cities or Boston. We might be noticed, yes, but generally we blend in pretty well with the masses.

What about a small race where we could bring 15-20% of the field? What if the race was in Dearborn, Michigan, far from the confines of our southern home? What then? Would others look at us like alien beings? What would they say about us?

“Who are these crazy, passionate creatures from a foreign land that wear crowns on their shirts and call themselves Rogues?”

“What’s this ‘JFR?’ Is that a word from an extraterrestrial language?”

“Are those space suits or do they really need 3 layers for their pre-race, shake-out ritual?”

“Why do they move in packs like wolves? Are they plotting to overtake us?”

“They seem so strong at the end of so many miles? How will we ever defend ourselves?”

“But wait, they are actually nice creatures… maybe they just want to be friends?”

What’s the point of all of these silly hypothetical questions?

I am plotting a Rogue invasion of the Martian Marathon on April 18th, 2015. The Martian is a small, 400-person marathon in Dearborn with a 14-year history and sister 5K, 10K, and half marathon races on the same day. A member of Team Rogue – Amy Baker – knows the race director, is from the area, and has convinced a group of us to target it for our spring goal race. We want all of Rogue (at least those not doing Boston on the same weekend) to come with us.

Now, you’re looking at me like I’m an alien. Stay with me and hear my case for you to join us. 5 big reasons:

  1. It’s Dearborn – the home of Ford and the Automotive Hall of Fame! I know what you are thinking… Detroit, really Chris? This isn’t Detroit as you are thinking of it. Dearborn is a NW suburb of Detroit and the course is on closed roads. You run past the Ford estate, through scenic neighborhoods, and by 4 golf courses. And, who wouldn’t want to take a tour of the Automotive Hall of Fame after the race?!?
  1. It’s fast. The course is very slightly rolling, enough to keep it interesting for your legs, but not enough to slow you down. If you look at the elevation profile, you will see 54 feet of elevation change from the bottom of the course to the top, all in gradual chunks. That compares favorably to an equivalent 37 feet at the Houston Marathon vs. 233 feet, 262 feet, and 317 feet at the Dallas, Twin Cities and Austin Marathons respectively. If you can’t run fast on this course, you’re skipping too many hill workouts.
  1. It’s going to be cold, oh-so-good-for-a-marathon cold. If you look at the start temperatures for the last five years, you will see temperatures of 36, 27, 33, 37, and 42 degrees from 2010-2014. That averages to 35 degrees. That’s perfect gloves-and-a-singlet weather…. you know the kind where you where an old long-sleeve shirt to stay warm at the start and toss it once the gun goes off.
  1. The logistics will be easy, and there’s no major marathon chaos to deal with. It’s a Saturday race with Friday packet pick-up from 3-8 pm. You could theoretically hop on the 7:25 am, direct Delta flight to Detroit. Dearborn is a short, 20-minute drive away from the airport to grab your packet and be ready to roll the next day – no crazy expo lines or big city logistics to deal with in finding a hotel. Simple, in/out, so you can focus on what matters – racing fast!
  1. The camaraderie created in a small race is special. Last year, when Dallas was cancelled, several of us traveled to Bryan/College Station for the BCS Marathon. Even booking last minute, we stayed together in a small hotel about 1 mile from the start. It was easy to find each other and bond in a smaller city where everyone was able to stay close together. At the start, we lined up with 5 minutes to the gun and found our respective teammates for pacing purposes with ease. Martian is a small race but it won’t feel small if all of your Rogue friends are doing it with you. And, imagine the power and energy created if we invade this race together!

10 of us are already committed… who else is with us?

More details here:

On Running Lights and Being Good Neighbors

Hello!  Here at Rogue we’ve dedicated November as “Safety Month!” With winter rolling in and the time change in place, it seems all our runs are now in the dark for morning and evening runners alike. Thus, safety becomes a greater concern. We believe safety is broken into two categories: “See” & “Be Seen.”

“See” – you know, illuminating the space around you so you can actually see where your feet are landing. Then there is “Be Seen”- illuminating yourself so that everybody else can see that beautiful stride of yours and avoid colliding with you. Both are very important, so we’ve got a few ideas if you are lacking in either category! Below are a few previews of some of our best products for both being seen & for seeing!

If you aren’t currently running with any sort of lights or reflective gear, we strongly encourage you to do so! Even if it’s just your vest from 5th grade safety patrol. A fairly common complaint about reflective gear and lights is that they don’t help you look very cool in such a hip and trendy city, but we’ve got some good news!  All of the products we offer look WAYYYYY better than anything from your wardrobe in the 80s!

Good Neighbors

We know we’ve been saying it a lot, but it’s very important to us to maintain a good, healthy relationship with all of our neighbors.  They are so gracious to accommodate many of our parking needs, but we need to do our best to meet them in the middle!  Most of it is just common courtesy, like not blocking driveways when we park (not even a little bit!), and not parking in front of fire hydrants.  Unfortunately the fire department doesn’t respond well to arguments about the importance of the long run for your marathon build versus the importance of accessing the water source in front of a burning house.   Sticklers.  Aside from parking, it’s also important to drive all the way around the block, or turn around at the end of the street instead of using somebody’s driveway.  One car turning around isn’t a big deal, but after a couple hundred every week it’s understandable why that might be a hassle.  Just a tip for anybody who doesn’t know, but Pressler does actually have an outlet at the far north end that feeds into 9th street.  Makes it easy to circle the block!

Beyond parking, always be sure to wear reflective gear, only run two abreast, and keep noise levels down a bit when running in the wee hours.  We aren’t nearly as visible as we may feel sometimes and a few extra precautions never hurt.  Last but not least, just be a good neighbor.  Say hello, be friendly, and be receptive to everybody you see!  The neighborhood existed long before the Speedshop and we are happy to be able to use it!


Alright, as promised, here are the reviews for some of our illuminating accessories!  We will start with our “See” category.


Price Range: $35 – $70

Nathan’s Zephyr Fire 100 -

This hand torch is the runner’s flashlight … BUT HANDS-FREE!!! Not only is it 100+ lumens with 60 meters of vision, it has a strap that holds it in place in your palm so you can be truly hands-free. It is water resistant & has a built-in emergency siren.  Best of all, the head has a 24-degree bend causing the beam to hit the ground in front of you without having to bend your wrist.

Black Diamond’s Sprinter -

This headlamp is 75 lumens and with its waterproof design it is great for all weather. It has a built-in rechargeable battery and comes with a red strobe tail light allowing you to also “Be Seen.”  Its settings include full beam, dimming, & strobe.

Petzl’s Tikka Plus -

This headlamp is our most powerful headlamp on the wall. It has a maximum power of 140 lumens that can be accessed in “boost mode” if you need to see further ahead. For more routine activity, it includes constant lighting, strobe mode, and red lighting which prevents the loss of night vision. Finally, the brightness of its beam does not decrease as the batteries in the lamp are drained.

Now on to the “Be Seen” category!



Price Range: $10 – $55

Amphipod’s Vizlet LED & Nathan’s Pulsar Strobe -

At only $10, every runner should own at least one of these two accessories. Both feature LED visibility. The Vizlet LED is both reflective and has a red flashing strobe. Its integrated dual magnets make it easy to clip anywhere, including hydration belts, shorts, packs, bags, collars, and more. The weather resistant Pulsar Strobe also easily clips to caps, laces, and collars, and features both slow and fast strobes.

Nathan’s LightFit & Black Light LightFit LED Vests -

Both of these vests are one-size-fits-most with adjustable and customizable shoulder straps. Their anatomical shape allows for full range of motion. They both have red & white LED lighting with 3 modes: slow strobe, fast strobe, & continuous.  The Black Light LED Vest is actually a reflective black fabric so when car lights shine on you, you can shine back.

So come by Rogue and make yourself safe!

Chicago 2014: The time you want, and the time you get

by Minh Duong

Warning: The following race report contains a photo of a nasty, bloody foot at the bottom.  Do not scroll down all the way if you are squeamish. You have been warned.

First, let me start with the thanks.   Thanks to Team Rogue PM and coach Amy for a memorable, hot summer season. No, I’m not bringing frozen grapes this weekend, Brent. And thanks to Emily and her family for putting up with some crazy runners for the weekend.

Here were my splits:

Distance     Time       Split     Pace       Overall
5k              23:25      23:25    7:33         7:33
10k            45:37      22:12    7:09         7:21
15k         1:08:17      22:40    7:18         7:20
20k         1:31:38      22:39    7:18         7:23
Half         1:36:32        4:54    7:07         7:22
25k         1:54:31      22:53    7:22         7:23
30k         2:17:53      23:22    7:32         7:24
35k         2:47:12      29:29    9:30         7:42
40k         3:18:42      31:30  10:09         7:58
Finish      3:30:10      11:28    8:11         8:01

Chicago was a much larger race than my previous ones.  Most of it went by in a blur but I do remember Boystown, Greektown, Pilsen, and Chinatown. I especially remember Boys-town as there was a stage show during the marathon.  Sorry to the performers, but I was too busy to stop by and see it.

Running wise, Chicago wasn’t my race.  Looking at the splits, I ran the first 5k at my intended pace as thousands of runners around charged out of the gate. I definitely made a mistake the second 5k and ran too fast.  I settled in for the next 10k.  After the half I started slowing down a bit as my left pinky toe started to hurt.  That, and I was trying to work through a side stitch that lasted until mile 16.

Around mile 18 my legs didn’t feel right and it felt like I was getting micro-spasms. Sure enough, by mile 18, I was getting Charley Horses but I kept walking/running through them. By 22, I got groin cramps which made walking difficult as it was hard to bend my leg forward.

By this time I was in Chinatown and there are two things to note:

1) More than once, a Chinese person was calmly cheering and was taken aback when they saw me, then they started cheering loudly and pointing me out to everyone around them.  Apparently not many Chinese people run marathons.

2) As I was hobbling through Chinatown, I was getting all sorts of encouragement.  In Chinese. So I had to keep going or I would shame the ancestors!

Around mile 23, I was able to start running again, albeit slowly.  Here I saw a fabled marathon myth: A runner passed by and had sh*t all over his backside. Best case scenario is that he fell in a porta-potty. I was able to finish the last 3 running for most of the way.

After the race, my pinky toe was really hurting.  I removed my shoe and sock and there was a massive blood blister. My main concern was it might pop. With the Ebola scare, I didn’t want people to freak out if my shoe was bleeding.

So I went to Medical.  There were only a few people in Podiatry so they saw me right away. There were at least 4 people working on me, one getting me food and water,  and 10 others just staring at my foot. Maybe it was because it wasn’t busy, or maybe that toe was really something to see. “Pst. Look at that freaky toe. My God, it’s hideous!” In retrospect I didn’t realize until I left the tent that everyone working on me was an attractive female. I should have asked them to frond me and feed me grapes.

The last thing I want to discuss is will and attitude. Someone asked me recently why I didn’t stop and quit because of everything that happened, but quitting never crossed my mind as an option. It sounds weird to someone who doesn’t run that I was “only” 6 miles from the finish. Finishing was always the plan.  The only difference was the time I wanted and the time I got.

The other thing I also hear is that people tell me that they can “never” run a marathon.  As I passed a blind runner during the race, I am reminded that anyone can finish a marathon given the right training. The only difference is the time they’ll get and the time they want.

scroll down for foot





My God, it's hideous!

My God, it’s hideous!

Finding my Superpower


by Jennifer Howard-Brown

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a . . . girl on the run? We all have a superhero within us. For some of us, finding our superpower takes a little more work. I found mine through running. It is positivity. It helps me confront my fears, relentlessly pursue my goals, look at the bright side amid adversity, and encourage and motivate others.

Girls on the Run is an organization that brings a group of young girls together to run, have fun and to learn how to deal with situations they might face. It is an after-school transformational, physical activity-based program for girls in 3rd-8th grades.

Our volunteer coaches teach 8-12-year-old girls life skills through interactive lessons and running games to deal with real-life situations they face like bullying, peer pressure, body image issues, etc. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally ready to complete a celebratory 5k running event. Our goal is to help girls tap into their own superpowers to unleash confidence through accomplishment and establish a lifetime appreciation for health and fitness.

Check out this video to see what the girls, coaches and parents have to say about the program.

Girls on the Run gives to these girls what our Rogue teammates/groups give to each of us. Help us extend this experience to approximately 350 girls/year (and growing!)

We have about 250 girls participating in Girls on the Run for the Fall season in the Austin area, training for the Girls on the Run 5k on Sat., Dec. 6. It is a family-friendly, untimed fun run. It is not about competition. It is about empowering these girls to tap into their individual strength and collectively support each other to accomplish their goals.

How you can help girls find their superpower:

  • Sign up now for our Girls on the Run 5k on Sat., Dec. 6 and run alongside these young women. (Discounted no-t-shirt entry option.)
  • Donate to Girls on the Run which funds the program for underprivileged girls. (Financial and in-kind donations welcome.)
  • Be a SoleMate. Raise money for GOTR by fundraising for your next race.
  • Volunteer. Get involved as a program coach or running buddy, or support our mission through grant-writing, event planning, community outreach, etc. If you want to explore other ways to help, let me know.

We are a completely volunteer-driven organization, so your time and money go directly to funding our annual program and 5k runs. I hope more Rogues will get involved in some way. As we all know, the finish line is just the beginning. Power up!

–Jennifer Howard-Brown is a volunteer board member for Girls on the Run and coaches Rogue’s Jenn & Tonics, a year-round training group in Northwest Austin focused on half marathon and marathon distances, as well as a Couch to 5k group at lululemon athletica in The Domain.

–Jennifer Howard-Brown is a volunteer board member for Girls on the Run and coaches Rogue’s Jenn & Tonics, a year-round training group in Northwest Austin focused on half marathon and marathon distances, as well as a Couch to 5k group at lululemon athletica in The Domain.

Spring – yes, spring – is in the air!


In the world of sell-out destination races, 6-month training plans and extreme type-A-ness (guilty!) – in other words the world of a Rogue – spring is practically in the air. Yes…. Spring. And yes, I know, its more blasphemous than Macy’s opening at 6:00PM on Thursday for “Black Friday” (I can’t make that s**t up).

Alas, the world of a runner. But, what a great world it is!

Spring races are pretty fantastic. Start training in the winter. Get through the heaviest section before it gets too warm and come into March, April and May ready to rock and roll!

But we know that training can also be confusing. Where do you go? What looks fun? What’s a good fit? We’ll use the next few blogs to cover all that in detail. But, to start, I’ll give you an overview of what the spring looks like. We’ve got four basic options to rock and roll your way through the spring. Join Rogue for one of these options and let us guide you to your best spring ever!


Ready to start the year out right? Good! Because 2015 is YOUR year.

Need a little motivation, accountability and guidance? We’ve got you covered. Our coaches will have you running comfortably through those pesky Austin hills in no time.

Our Spring Half Marathon training is designed for beginner runners looking to tackle their first half. The intensity is low and the volume is just right. Intimidation free, this training will have any runner ready to kick booty at any spring half marathon. We’ll kick this off the first week of January, plenty of times to come out of the holiday fuzz. Over the next 14 weeks we’ll work to get you across that finish line with a smile and some!


Whether you are coming off a fall or winter race and ready to ramp your training back up  or looking to tackle your first marathon, we’ve got you covered!

Our Spring Marathon program will capitalize on the cooler weather to have you training faster and feeling smoother than ever.

  • Start Date: Week of 12/15
  • Duration: 20 weeks
  • Goal Races: Boston, Big Sur, Martian, and Big D Marathons

This training block starts out a little stronger than our other marathon blocks due to the proximity to the first races. Expect 10 mile long runs for your first. A little nervous? Don’t be. If you’re coming off a half or marathon in the last 4-6 weeks or regularly running 8-mile long runs, you’ll be good to go!


In ways, the Cap 10K is the granddaddy of the local races. With well over 20,000 runners each year, everyone and their dog has run or walked it. We have a dream at Rogue for 2015 and that is to have more Rogues at Cap 10K than we’ve ever had before. 100, 200, 300?

The Cap 10K is challenging course to say the least but nothing we can’t prepare you for (I <3 hills!). If you are running or training for the Austin Marathon or Half, use that heavy base of mileage and aerobic training to add some speed work with our Cap 10K program to run a ridiculous, “Is my Garmin right?” Cap 10K!

  • Start Date: February 17th or 18th
  • Duration:  8 weeks
  • Goal Race: Cap10K

The training will have lower mileage, shorter long runs, and the workouts will focus on speed and getting faster! Workouts like this are an awesome change of gear from marathon or half marathon training. Short intervals mean you see everyone in the group a lot no matter what pace you run. The “community” factor is high and the ton will be fun!

Don’t like short races? You aren’t “fast enough” to run a 10K? I think otherwise. In fact, I know otherwise! Just give us a chance.

But hey, if the fun and change doesn’t sell you, do it for your marathon or half marathon. Our bodies thrive on change. Habitual marathon or half marathon training does the opposite. It’s the same stimuli over and over and over… Lets mix things up a little, do a little speed work and you’ll find you are running your marathon or half-marathon goal pace with a new level of ease. Your body will thank you!


Join Yogi, runner, triathlete, core instructor and all-around bad-A Ari Witkin for a program like none other. Ari will be leading a program designed to not only get you or keep you running fit but also lead you in the best yoga you can get for running.

We’ve all done yoga at sometime in the past but, as with any physical activity or cross training, it may not always blend with your running. Really hard yoga session the same day as a really hard running session? Ouch! At Rogue we love yoga and we love running but we want to love them together. Thus, Namaste, Running! This program will seamlessly blend yoga with a periodized running program.

  • Start: Early January
  • Duration: 14 weeks
  • Goal: Cap 10K

Don’t know all the poses? Just like we teach drills and hydration, we’ll spend the first part of the program teaching you yoga. The end result will be a program that not only has you running fast but also feeling amazing, physically and beyond!

This program is also perfect for the runner looking for a little break from just running or to simply mix things up. Get bored with just running? Want a little more? Done and done. You won’t be disappointed here!

Stay tuned for a series of posts outlining specific races mentioned above, and discover the best choice for you!


congress brJeff Knight is the head of all things training at Rogue Running, and loves to apply his scientific background to this role. He also coaches Team Rogue el Jefe, a year-round training program designed for experienced, driven runners.

Rogue Tahoe Triple 2014

 by Steven Hamilton

Chapter 1- Incoming!

It began simply enough:

Pssst! Can I interest you in a Triple?

A triple? Like espresso?

No. A Triple – Marathon!

When asked this question, the sane person should respond No! Or even, “Hell-o No!” But there are some for whom this question begs a different answer. And so the story picks up on September 10th as a group of Rogues converged on the idyllic town of South Lake Tahoe. We arrived solo, in pairs, and in a large group; in some cases, even arriving at the wrong airport. But, as Rogues, we persevered, and managed to arrive in one piece; healthy, caffeinated, and ready to run.

Somewhat craftily named, South Lake Tahoe is a small town at the south end of Lake Tahoe, straddling the California and Nevada state line. It hosts the gondola and ski lifts to the nearby Heavenly ski resort. When we arrived, the weather was beautiful, with lows in the 50s-60s and high in the mid-80s. As a group, we stayed at the Aston Village, shared several condos, and had our own private beach. After finding our rooms and unloading our vehicles, we headed to the local supermarket where we bought everything. Luckily, that included coffee and fixings.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.29.48 AM

Our first full day started bright and early with Carolyn leading us all on an “easy 2 miles around Spooner Lake.” As you can see, Spooner Lake is very pretty. While situated at a good 7000 feet in altitude, the couple of miles were deceptively easy. The scenery was lovely. And everyone unwound from the previous day’s travel. Our shake-out run was followed by breakfast at Zephyr Cove – home of the bear-coffee-mug – and which offered a darn good cuppa joe, as well as a breakfast that would fill a starving lumberjack full up.

Packet pickup was at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, where Rogue promptly showed up (on time!) early and were kicked out of packet pickup while organizers figured out last-minute details. Many of us walked away with our sweet duffle bags and singlets. As you can see, many of us showed our team spirit, but somebody failed to wear his Rogue Tahoe t-shirt!

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.31.09 AM

Carbs were consumed; beer drunk. And before too soon, our weary group turned to their early-morning preparations. Singlets and shorts were laid out with care. GU and Shot Blocks were neatly stacked and stored. Shoes lined up like sentinels by the door. Lunches made. And alarm clocks set. The coffee pot was primed and ready to fly.

Chapter 2 – Who’s On First, What’s on Second?

Before covering the 3 days of running, I want to introduce the cast of our Tahoe tale, as well as define some of the terms used by our runners. Tahoe weekend consists of a variety of races and combination of races. As the name implies, the Tahoe Triple is three consecutive days of marathons sequentially circling the Lake. The Tahoe Trifecta is three consecutive days of Half-marathons, aligned with the marathons. The first two start with the marathoners, while the last day’s Half is staggered in time and start location so that everyone shares the same finish line. The Tahoe Super Triple consists of two consecutive days of marathons (the same two as the Triple) BUT with an all-the-way-around-the-lake ultramarathon of 72.6 miles thrown in at the end. Runners of the Super Triple start their second day with the other marathoners. Then that same evening close to dusk, they gather to complete the ultra marathon distance through the night and into the next day. This is timed to have the marathoners and Ultra runners on the last 26.2 mile course at the same time!

There were several teams of Rogues covering the various distances:

  • Trifecta – Jenny Bowden, Angela McKnight, and Denise Ewers
  • Triple – Carolyn Mangold, Victoria Nickell, Caitlin Rogo, Natasha MacNevin, and Steve Hamilton
  • Super – Michael Wedel

Additionally, Coaches Amy Anderson and Mark Enstone supported the runners as crew for the first two days of running, and then they both raced the last Day 3 marathon.

Michael brought his own crew of Rachel Theriot, who raced the first day marathon with us and won first female (her third ever marathon!) and Chris Chuter, a Rogue working in the Bay Area, who gave freely of his time to support us all on the last day of racing.

Each and every one of these Rogues proved just how AWESOME they are, so many times over, that it is hard to capture in words.

Chapter 3- The Race is On

(Race maps are here:

Day 1 – Emerald Bay Marathon:

The first day started early with The World’s Best Crew Ever™ (coaches Amy Anderson and Mark Enstone) driving us to the Emerald Bay starting line, at the top of (again, very appropriately named!) Inspiration Point. Located at approximately 6850 feet above sea level, it provides an awesome view out over the Lake. In the cool darkness under an almost full moon, we took some pretty amazing pictures.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.31.59 AM

I eyed the other runners: “very competitive and intimidating,” I thought. “A lot of Marathon Maniacs shirts,” I thought. Many seemed to know each other, and were back for their fourth or fifth year in a row. “Who would do that to themselves?” I asked myself.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.34.05 AM

The start of the race leads to a quick and steep descent through a couple of sharp switchbacks, dropping approximately 500 feet in the first three miles. Quickly, we transitioned from road to a quiet trail through the forests around Camp Richardson and Pope Beach (finish line area for Day 3) and into the picturesque residential area around Tahoe Keys and South Lake Tahoe proper.

As a True Believer in negative splits, I enjoyed stopping off to capture photos (along with Jenny, Natasha and Caitlin) of some truly important landmarks (e.g. Texas Avenue). The day was warming nicely as we pulled into Lakeshore Blvd, where the Half finish line along the beachfront looked decidedly inviting.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.35.49 AM

As we pulled out of the half-way point, we started slowly to climb and crossed into Nevada. As the day warmed, we worked our way along the Lincoln Highway, and passed the previous day’s (and soon to be team favorite) breakfast joint at Zephyr Cove. As we climbed away and up, I started to feel the effort. I was somewhat surprised (!!) to find that my body was not responding as usual to my level of effort. By Mile 24, I was not a happy camper. But thanks to the super-human support (and red cheer leader outfits – or was I hallucinating?) of The World’s Best Crew Ever™ and the encouragement of my teammates, I finally made it to the finish line at Spooner Junction; a climb of approximately 700 feet in the last four miles to an elevation of 7067 feet.

Ok, thank goodness that is over! Surely this was my worst day? It could not possibly be worse than that in the future, could it?

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.36.38 AM

As we returned home, we divided up the chores: dinner, laundry, etc., and I made my peace with Day 1. If I was really lucky, I would sleep through the next 48 hours and magically awaken on the flight home, I thought.

Day 2 – Cal-Nevada Marathon:

By some miracle, I woke up the next morning not dead, donned my running shoes, and headed out with the rest of the team to take on Day 2. Luckily for me, the Cal-Nevada marathon is the easiest of the three marathons. We are all familiar with “recovery” runs. But if there is there such a thing, this was our “recovery” marathon.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.37.34 AM

Starting at the finish line from Day 1 at the same 7000 feet mark, the course takes a nice, easy downhill for the first 13.1 miles into the town of Incline Village. As we clicked off miles, we not only enjoyed the views and took some happy-looking pictures, we whiled away the miles with alphabet games to take our minds off the distance (“A is for Alice, an architect, who dates Adam, who lives in Alaska …”) and must have discussed the finer points of my imaginary lunch – macaroni and cheese – for at least a 100 miles.

As we rounded the corner and headed into town, we had to dodge falling pine cones (seriously – the size and weight of coconuts) and headed to the Half finish on … (yes, you guessed it) Lakeshore Blvd (a different one.) By now, I was beginning to recognize the pattern in naming conventions around the Lake.

Lakeshore Blvd, it should be pointed out, is the Waller of Lake Tahoe. It just seemed to keep going and going. And again, the happy smiling Half finish line by the beach was very inviting.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.40.01 AM

As we pulled away from the Half finish, we encountered today’s first hill at Mile 14, and I felt so much better as I passed one of those Marathon Maniacs shirts. As we passed the last few casinos (on the Nevada state line) I crossed back into California, and passed the only Tex-Mex restaurant I saw the entire trip. (Sure, I thought how great a margarita would taste right there and then, but decided that running was my job for the moment.) The next few miles took us through some rolling hills, more reminiscent of Austin, and several small towns. I finally settled into leap-frogging back and forth with one of the other Triplers, Mario from Mexico. Every mile, I would see his wife sitting in her car waiting to offer Mario some water or snacks … and we passed each other multiple times along the next several miles.

People are quite friendly to runners on this route. I often got asked what this “Rogue running thing” was all about, and a young lady and her son (eating ice-cream) asked what race we were running. I felt obliged to catch my breath and explain in detail, all the while eyeing the ice-cream and plotting an exit route should the temptation to grab it out of his hand become too great to resist.

Ice-cream free, I headed into the bustling home stretch along Commons Beach and into the parking lot that marked the finish line for Day 2.

Day 3 – Lake Tahoe Marathon:

The Lake Tahoe Marathon is the largest and best-supported marathon of the three-day event. Today, we were crew-less, as Amy and Mark were also racing. Also, it differed in that the Half started 2 hours later at the midpoint. The idea is that everyone will run the same last 13.1 miles to a common finish line on Pope Beach, with the time delay giving the marathoners a chance to see the Half marathoners arrive at roughly the same time. Another interesting twist was that today, the roads would be closed – which we later saw as a huge line of cars and trucks backed up when we got close to the finish line. And last but not least, the course was way harder in the second half than in the first – with two very large hills leading into mile 20, and cresting back at Inspiration Point. (See the course profile below.)

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.40.57 AM

Before starting, we called our missing team-mate who had broken her ankle and was struggling to recover in time to join us in Tahoe. Unfortunately, despite an amazing effort and spending hours aqua-jogging every day, the doctor forbade her from coming back in time for this event. So, just to make sure she knew we missed her, we gave her a call before the start on this last day.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.41.47 AM

We started on wet grass amid sprinklers … and headed out to the Mile 26 marker. What? Oh, yes, on the last day, mile markers count backwards J Actually, I now wish this was true on all future marathons. This was such a great boost at mile 20.2 when I saw the Mile 6 marker. (Backward math, at 7000 feet, and after running up bloody great big hills during your last marathon, is quite difficult I will have you know!) The first 13.1miles was cool and shaded. I had a great race plan: run the fun stuff, and walk the big hills! So I stretched out and ran the first Half at a nice pace, passing many of the marathoners along the way, and knowing they would probably pass me as I struggled up the hills.

At about the 18 Mile marker (about 8 miles in) I saw Michael and Rachel, with crew member Chris. It was great to see Michael who was into the last portion of his all-the-way-around-the-Lake ultra. I got to hear about the bear adventures and catch up with how things were going. Soon after, we parted ways, and while I could not see Michael, I knew he must have been close, as I saw Chris at the side of the road with his buffet of snacks and drinks many times over the next few miles. Thanks Chris for the potato chips and ice! Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.42.59 AM

The first climb comes with warning signs and bagpipes. And as I got to the top of the first hill, I saw Denise and asked how the other Trifecta ladies were doing. Then it was down the hill to Emerald Bay and the Castle, with some amazing photo opportunities along the way. This part of the course is probably the most scenic, and hardest, as it leads back up the second hill to Inspiration Point at about mile 20 (or Mile 6). Again, I stopped at the top to take photos and eat some jelly beans.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.43.51 AM

While the last six miles of any marathon is tough, I thought that it would be literally downhill from this point to the finish line at Pope Beach. I slowly worked my way down the switchbacks that had been so much fun the first day, and made it to the trail. Very luckily for me, both Natasha and Caitlin caught up with me over this fairly flat last portion of the course. It seemed to me that random people would shout, “Triplers coming through!” as we slowly closed those last couple of miles.

As we turned onto the last-last-last “just around the corner”, it was such a relief. We crossed the finish line holding hands … and then had to back up and do it again for the photographer to catch the moment!

Ahead of us, Amy, Mark and Michael had great finishes. We all regrouped on the beach, cooled off our sore feet in the soothing Lake, and gathered our bling before heading back to the condo and started to celebrate.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.44.26 AM

That evening, we headed out to celebrate with pizza and beer (and there may have been several cookies too!) We all ended up by the beach around an open fire – the perfect ending to Day 3.

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Chapter 4 – Au Revoir Lake Tahoe

If you have run a marathon, you are probably familiar with the thought process that I now went through: I am never ever doing that again! And just as I did after my first ever marathon, I thought I would never want to train or race another marathon ever again, no matter have the desire to improve my time or train for one with hills! But, as you all know, those fleeting thoughts are quickly replaced with, when can I do that again? I could have done X so much better. And I could train like …. So, as we packed up and made ready to leave – after one last, HUGE breakfast at Zephyr Cove – I slowly realized that I would be back one day. Recovery has been slow, and so far, I am feeling great. And the response from the rest of the Rogue community has been outstanding. No, I really do not feel #badass, but sincerely, thank you for that anyway. I am more amazed by the accomplishment of everyone else who ran; the smooth execution and planning by our Fearless Leader, Carolyn; and the amazing support form Mark, Amy and Chris, without which everything would have been impossible. Even as we talk about the trip among ourselves, it still feels somewhat mystical and dream-like. “Hard to believe” just seems too flat an expression to capture the totality of the experience. And, importantly, it has reset expectations on my own capabilities and limits.

So, if someone offers you a “triple” one day, I hope you will stop and take the time to seriously consider it. Sure, it requires a little specialized training. But I believe anyone in the Rogue community is capable of training for and running a Triple. Yes, you. I mean you.

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 11.46.16 AM

Twin Cities Marathon 2014

 by Bill Durbin, re-posted from the Team Rogue PM Blog

Well, I gave myself a week to write this one, because the last one just took way too long. I started writing in the same second-person-present voice I was (attempting) to use in the past few posts. It’s kind of half “the story” written that way, and half just me interjecting random stuff. It’s a little disjointed, but less long-winded that usual. If you go for this kind of stuff then read on. If not… well, do whatever the opposite of reading on would be. Read off?

It’s a crisp, cool, dry morning. Perfect running weather. In fact, all the usual things that nobody ever has any control over seem to be going perfect today.

The start line is up ahead, and everyone is loosely corralled by their bib numbers. It’s light out. It’s nice to be able to see everything. Usually, these things start just a tad darker. Brent is standing on a gate looking for Ashish, who in turn is looking for a last-minute bathroom break. Taryn and Cam are nearby. One last round of good-race-mojo encouragement as the announcer gives a 3-minute warning, ramps up the energy, and crowd close to the start.

The nerves never go away until you get to the other side of that line. You can’t help bouncing around a bit. Those three minutes seem to pass in just a few seconds, and then the race begins. The kickoff music turns out to not be Prince after all… Instead it’s that dynamite song.

For a couple seconds I was disappointed that my Prince-music prediction didn’t come true. I half expected him to come tearing around the corner on a purple motorcycle with a starter pistol. A guy can hope, can’t he? But then I had an image of my daughter Penelope singing the dynamite song and it made me smile (I don’t actually know the name of the dynamite song, I assume it is ‘Dynamite’ though).

TRPM Twin Cities Runners (and special guest!) before all the stuff above.
Photo ©2014, Ashish. Used without permission.

Easy on the Front
Crossing the line, it’s a little over a minute behind the gun and that glorious race-start calm descends. You’re no longer thinking about what you have to do – now you’re doing it. That changes the whole situation.

The first task is to run easy. Don’t get carried away. Amy has said it a million times, Steve reiterated it on Thursday, you’ve repeated it to yourself over and over again… DFIU in these first few miles. Starting further back turns out to be a good thing as far as that’s concerned. The road is wide here, but the crowd is pretty thick. There’s not much point in weaving around people. Just wait for the gaps and shoot through. The first mile is over before you know it – a quick sanity check on the time – close to seven minutes… Good. Mile 2 requires a bit more focus to stay on target. You pass Ashish and exchange some encouraging words. The miles start flying by… 3, 4, 5… Almost time for the first real checkpoint.

Mile 6. 41 minutes even. One minute behind target. That’s about right.

It felt like I did an awful lot of watch-gazing during this race. I made the mistake (???) of picking a goal time with some super easy-to-remember intervals. 20 minutes for every 3 miles. And at most of those 3 mile intervals, right at the marker, I was checking to see where I was at. Quite a different feeling from my previous race.

Now it’s time to really start focusing on getting light and efficient as possible. The watch is already reading a little extra mileage. It’s been a bit more crowded than expected. You’ve been doing an ok job of running the tangents, but with so many people you can’t really do it without cutting people off or getting pinched in a corner. You’re gaining on a group that must be the 3:00 pace group. They are packed four or five people deep and taking up the whole road. When you see that the sign says 3:05 it’s startling. They have to be going way too fast!

It isn’t until I did the math afterwards that I realized, if these guys started near the front then they were probably on an exact even split. I think that is what they are told to do.

The next thought is “How am I going to get around all this?” The road is very curvy through this section, and it is obvious the pack has the tangents on their mind as well. The runners on the edges are having to slow down each time the road curves their way. “Do I try to worm my way through the middle, or wait for a straight stretch? When even is the next straight stretch? You realize you have no idea where you are or what comes next on the map.

That’s not entirely true. I was somewhere south of and/or still in Minneapolis. I knew that much.

You studied the course so well preparing for this day and it’s just been a blur of twists and turns since leaving the city. You haven’t even been paying attention to the corners. It’s billed as the most beautiful urban Marathon in the country, or something like that. That might be true, but ever since leaving the city streets a few miles back not a single building, lake, or street sign has registered in your mind. All you see is road, trees, runners, more road, more trees, and more runners. Apparently, some of these houses along the course are amazing, but…

FWIW, I thought Philly was more interesting. Then again, I wasn’t really at either location to appreciate the scenery.

You are hugging a left-hand corner when the choice becomes obvious. The road curves in a big arc to the right and the pack goes with it, leaving a few feet of open pavement to their left. It’s an extra wide corner, but by the time the road turns left again, you’re ahead – they are behind.

Steady and Strong
It’s like the pace group was a cork in a very twisty-necked bottle. Everything has thinned out and now it’s road, trees, and spectators. Lots and lots of spectators. Good ones at that. They aren’t saying stupid things like “only 19 more miles!” They’re giving words of encouragement in vaguely-stereotypical regional accents. “Goh Red!” “Way te goh Rogue Running! Lookin’ strong there!”

I never heard any ‘You betcha’s, but of course the situation didn’t warrant any. Again, I wasn’t really looking around much, but I do remember one sign that amused me.

It is finally possible to run straight from one corner to the next and hug the insides. You establish a comfortable pace that feels about right and just settle in.

There’s a familiar shock of blond hair up ahead. It looks like it might belong to Kirk, a fellow Rogue, and he’s running strong. You aren’t actually sure he knows who you are, but you say “Hey Kirk” and utter some encouraging words as you sidle up to him. If it turns or to be a stranger, no harm done. But it’s him. The conversation is brief, but the familiar face is welcome.

A few more miles slip by. You pass the 13 mile marker and the timing mat for the halfway point is just ahead. Everything still feels ok – smooth, relaxed, light… but now its time for that check-in.

The watch says 1:27:58. It’s pretty close to where you expected to be at the half – you’ve gained about 30 seconds and you still have about 30 to make up. Really, that’s perfect. But then the math starts messing with you.

Running math is hard, and Marathon math is damn near impossible. But there is one math problem that’s simple to do at this point in the race: multiply by two. I don’t know a single Marathon runner who doesn’t do that math problem at the halfway point – Everyone is thinking “If I run the second half exactly the same as the first half…”

Well, ok.. I’ve never actually asked another Marathon runner if they do that math problem. It’s just… come on! Everyone really does this, right?

The other you (I) obviously got off on a tangent there. You were saying that the math started messing with you… “Wait… That’s like 1:28, and 1:28 times two is 2:56, and that means it’s still a minute to make up? Right?”

It takes enormous willpower to keep the mental train on the rails. There is no room in your brain right now to reason it out and identify why it is wrong. It just is. You just have to trust that, and banish the demon. You yell the expanded and uncensored version of “JFR!” at nobody in particular, and it seems to do the trick. 28 seconds. That is the right answer, and if it isn’t the right answer, we’ll find out soon enough.

I didn’t actually yell that. Not out loud. I might have muttered it under my breath, but I was screaming it in my head. That’s what counts.

The 15 mile marker is coming up soon, and it’s almost time for another gel. The problem is, you really, really don’t want one. Really. Everything else feels great right now, except your stomach. You pull out your remaining selection of Gu and take stock of what’s there. Vanilla Bean, Salted Caramel, and Salted Watermelon. Yuck. Just looking at them makes your stomach roll.

Most gels taste pretty nasty to me. Vanilla is kind of the base option that seems to be the lesser of all evils. It is the “natural” Gu flavor… If you were to actually go out in the wild and find a guberry bush, and pick a bunch of fresh guberries and mash them up into a paste, that’s what they would taste like. All the other flavors are just trying to mask the guberry-ness. But you can’t ever really mask it. 

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, not only do they taste kind gross, but it usually gets more difficult for me to stomach them as the miles get longer. However, the two “salted” options actually invert this fundamental law of Gu, and seem to taste pretty decent once I’m tired enough. They are both pretty much just guberry plus salt before you get going though.

And (no, I’m not done with this aside yet… hang on) I don’t know what was going on with my stomach. This wasn’t even my last scheduled gel, and it wasn’t so late in the race that I should be feeling so hostile towards the little packets of vile. Maybe the pasta at dinner had something to do with it? I normally go more for veggies and protein the night before a race. It’s something to think about next time – maybe try a few new dinner options in the shorter races this fall and winter. Enough of the note-to-future-self…

You put your gels away and vow to revisit the decision somewhere before the next water station. A couple miles later, and it’s been decided that salted caramel actually sounds pretty good right now. You dig in your gel pouch and pull out vanilla bean. Nope… return that one and grab one of the others – salted watermelon. Dammit! Keep that one in your hand and grab the others from the pouch to see them all at once… Wait.. there’s only two in here! Crap! I must have dropped the other one! Watermelon is the choice – probably because it has “salted” in the name. You must not be tired enough. It tastes disgusting.

I didn’t drop it. My race brain must have decided it was special or something. Apparently I went through the trouble of tucking it into the back zipper pocket on my shorts and zipping it up when I put them all away at mile 15. I don’t remember doing that at all. I was already back at the hotel and showered when I found it there.

It’s not so much your stomach objecting to the Gu now – your brain simply does not want the guberry-watermelon-flavored gunk. That first taste brought a shudder. You just hang onto the rest until the water tables appear up ahead. The blue and red cups at each station have some Powerade concoction that you’ve been avoiding like the plague all race, and now is no exception. You want water. This stop, however, obviously didn’t get the memo on the cup-color-codedness and flags thing. The water has been in the white cups after the Powerade and after the blue “water” flags at every station so far. The first white cup you grab is full of a Windex-colored substance that isn’t water. You drop it and grab for a real water, wash down the remaining Gu, and feel a little better.

I realize it sounds like I am complaining about the water station. I’m really not. I completely appreciate all the volunteers that come out and make these events happen. I thank them when I’m passing the tables whether I am getting something or not.

Mile 18 – you take a quick survey and see how everything is holding up.

Of course, it was a 3-mile interval so I looked at my watch, too. I don’t remember my split at this one though.

Still have the hat, gloves, and makeshift arm-warmers. Hands are icicles but arms, head and everything else is doing ok. The arm warmers (old socks with holes in them) are kind of wet and bunching up in the crook of your arms though. You decide to take them off. They decide to stay on. Pulling on them from the bottom isn’t working. You start to roll the left one down from the top, but it just gets stuck at your elbow. You have a sudden fear that it is going to get snagged on your watch and then just flap around, dangling off the end of your arm for the rest of the race. You win this time, silly am socks. As for the hat…

The Almost Last Part
The scenery is still just whizzing by, oblivious to you standing there. Or maybe it’s the other way around. But there’s one landmark you’ve been waiting for – the bridge over the river. Because Gabe said he’d be somewhere after that bridge on the left-hand side of the course. It’s also a mental thing. It is the place to start thinking strong thoughts.

You can hear Gabe before you know it’s him. He’s ringing his cowbells and cheering on the runner up ahead in the green shirt. He’s by far the loudest spectator you’ve seen on the course, but when he sees you his eyes get wide and he turns up the volume even louder. As you planned (just a few minutes ago), you grab your hat and toss it straight up in the air. Except… it doesn’t go straight up, it goes straight at Gabe! Oops!

I wasn’t the only person to throw clothing at Gabe this day. It sounds like he turned into quite the coat rack. But I wasn’t exaggerating when describing how loud he was. Maybe it was just amplified by the personal connection. Who knows. At any rate, seeing Gabe there definitely gave me a boost. And he kept my hat and returned it! Gabe deserves some special credit thanks. He was supposed to be out there running the race alongside us, but he was sidelined with an injury. That didn’t stop him from coming out and freezing his butt off to cheer the rest of us on. 

Gabe and I. Believe it or not, I stopped and had a beer with him there between mile 19 and 20.

At mile 21 another time check, and you’re only 14 seconds off target! Slowly but surely whittling away at that remaining time. You’re actually going to make it!

The Part Between “The Almost Last Part” And “The Last Part”
There are conflicting reports about the hill. The monster one on the map that looks like it just keeps going up from about the middle of Mile 21 to the end of mile 23. There have been a few short but steep hills sprinkled throughout the course. Ones that made you think a little. But none of those even registered on the elevation map. There’s a short and steep part at the beginning of “the hill” as well. That one really is a bit of a challenge, especially at this point in the course. Once past that, you discover that for the rest of these miles there really is no hill.

Ok… so there may or may not have been a hill. My mind was reading that whole section as being too flat to care. Others felt differently. And my splits indicate that yes, there is a hill there. Perhaps it just has something to do with your mental state. My mental state was still stuck on “I’m actually going to make it!” and I was pushing myself pretty hard.

The miles are beginning to feel very, very long. It’s that weird end-of-race twilight zone where everything starts to happen in slow motion, probably because everything hurts so much. You have started questioning your motives for pretty much everything, but especially for this race. You’re thinking of cancelling the next one on your calendar.

“GO ROGUE!” The shout comes from behind. You haven’t heard anyone say that today… that is not a cheer from here. That is someone from Austin, and that shout was for you. A quick glance over your shoulder, and it’s Steve and Ruth! More familiar faces are exactly what you needed at that moment. Despite the pain and mental issues, you are still running strong, and now you are determined to finish that way.

The Last Part (Except For The Part(s) After The Last Part)
The mile 24 marker kind of rains on your little “finish strong” parade. You’re expecting to see that you’ve knocked more time out, or maybe, just maybe you’re even ahead of the game now. But it says 2:40:23. Hrm.

This was tough, because I was completely convinced I had sped up since mile 21 and was going significantly faster than my goal pace. I was working really, really hard at this point, and I did not have a whole lot left to give.

Hang on. Hang ON! You’re so close! Just be strong and finish it! On the edge, yes, but not falling apart. Past mile 25 now (FIVE LAPS!)… past that subtle left turn in the road…

You keep waiting to see the church. The church (so it’s been written) is what signals the imminent end of this race. And, like the museum at the end of Philly, it supposedly sneaks up on you. Looking for the church, looking, looking… and there’s the Capitol building off in the distance. But the capitol is like… past the end of the course. Isn’t it? Wait – maybe that’s not the capitol. Maybe that’s the church? You turn to look over your left shoulder and Oh, no… that’s the church!

It’s pretty obvious that my brain is scrambled eggs and toast.

Your head swivels back to the front and now, you can see the capitol, the 26 mile marker, and the finish line! Glancing at the watch again it’s at exactly 2:53.

Two minutes. I can make it there in two minutes.

The Marathon is a funny race. It beats the crap out of you physically and mentally. It takes you right to the edge. Then if you are lucky, it will nudge you over the edge and show you something amazing there. I was lucky this time. I got nudged. All of the pain vanished at this point and I had one purpose. Get to that finish line in two minutes! As I can now see from the data my watch collected, the finish line was about 1/3rd of a mile away at this point.

Time is going fast again. It doesn’t feel like two minutes. You’re at the finish line with your hands in the air. You eventually stop running, then stop your watch and take a look to see where you landed.

The Aftermath
This is the first time I’ve ever laughed at the end of a Marathon. I laughed and laughed, and someone handed me a medal, and I laughed some more. When the woman with the space blanket came over to me, she said “You seem like you had a good race!” Like a dork, I showed her my watch and said “That was my goal, right there!” And I started thanking her and all the other people who were handing me the post-race stuff.

Somewhere in there, I shed a few tears. Maybe it’s the first time I laughed at the end of a race, but it’s not the first time for the waterworks. I’m already kind of an emotional guy. Then I put myself into a situation where I’m mentally and physically exhausted, I just finished doing something I wasn’t completely convinced I could do… the faucet comes on.

I retrieved my dry bag and futzed with it for a couple minutes. I couldn’t get it open because my fingers were frozen, numb, and basically useless. Finally I used my teeth to rip a hole in the bag so I could get at my junk. I donned some warmer clothes, found my phone and tried to call Stephanie. I knew they were going to be out, so I left a message. Decided to try the other phone too, and left another message.

I saw Cam, Brent and Flashish then. (That’s not a typo, it’s his new nickname.) We all exchanged some congratulations and they went to grab their bags. I called coach Amy. She said we were rock stars, and told me my official time was 2:54:56! And then I started to choke up again.

The Bragging and Thanking Section
The stuff up there was fun and all, but I need to get my brag on. Of course, I also need to say the obvious thanks to my wife for putting up with this running thing once again and still supporting me (as usual), my coach for believing I could do this before I ever did (as usual), and the Team Rogue PM crew for allowing me to suffer alongside them through the steamy summer (we’re all unusual, so I won’t say “as usual”).  Did I mention Steve and Ruth? and GABE? Friendly spectators? Thank you!

You all can leave now. I’m just going to do my normal little victory lap and be done with this one.

Time: 2:54:56  (3:41 PR!)

Everyone, 164 / 8852
Age group, 16 / 707

Official half splits:
First, 1:27:57
Second, 1:26:59 (that’s an unofficial half marathon PR!)

Geekometer Splits:
1.   6:56
2.   6:59
3.   6:38
4.   6:39
5.   6:44
6.   6:40
7.   6:39
8.   6:35
9.   6:36
10.   6:33
11.   6:31
12.   6:31
13.   6:37
14.   6:36
15.   6:31
16.   6:34
17.   6:39
18.   6:44
19.   6:39
20.   6:29 <- Gabe
21.   6:36
22.   6:46
23.   6:46
24.   6:30 <- Steve + Ruth
25.   6:42
26.   6:42
26.36 2:08 <- Me