Staying The Course: A Runner’s Toughest Race Review

Until you have walked a day in someone’s shoes, you should never be a person to judge them.  Although I recently wasn’t the one that was criticizing Dick Beardsley’s rough walking stride or thin stature, I just listened to the others and didn’t step in and say anything. For doing so, I want to say sorry to you Mr. Dick Beardsley.  I owe you a personal apology when I see you again and will definitely do so at that time.  If you have ever taken a look at a professional athlete and thought “wow, it must nice to be them and have the lifestyle they do.” Stop yourself right there and rather ask them the story of how they got to where they are today, both the highs and the lows.  It’s not an easy road for many athletes and for Dick Beardsley there were many obstacles both in his running and personal life.

From the first few pages of this book I was captivated by the story-telling ability of Mr. Beardsley. The first part of the book recaps his beginning in running and the journey he took to become a world-class marathoner.  Although at times it might have sounded like an easy journey, his passion for running was evident in many forms.  An example of his persistence was on display when he tried to sneak into the conference at a hotel to gain a sponsorship from a running shoe company.  He didn’t give up, no matter how many times the security guard would kick him out, and in the end New Balance gave him a shot and I think they reaped the reward in the end very much.

The saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know” gets thrown around quite a bit these days and appears to be valuable during Dick’s upbringing as well. He had multiple mentors, sometimes who were a coach, that helped guide Dick through difficult times. Even as a young person I speak highly of leaving a good impression on each person you meet.  Although you might just be holding the door for them today as they enter a convenience store, they might be your boss in the future.  Be sure that any impression that is left on a person you are proud of and would help you with a future favor that might be needed.

As I embark on my own personal goal to run the Boston Marathon, hearing Mr. Beardsley describe his races made me wanted to get out and just run.  I am no where near the pace that he ran at, but that wouldn’t matter, I just wanted to enjoy running and even daydream about being amongst Beardsley and Salazar as they finished the 1982 Boston Marathon.  The will power and mental strength that Mr. Beardsley displayed is remarkable.  He continued to push his body harder and harder and for a long time saw his times get quicker and quicker. And when the tide changed, it was incredible how quickly things deescalated for him.

If you told me that Dick Beardsley was a drug addict and suffered for many years due to many accidents non-running related, I would have wanted your sources.  Unfortunately both of these were true.  When I’ve met Dick, I noticed that he doesn’t get around on his knees and fluid-like as other people, but that damage was caused by all his running right? Wrong.  Farming accidents combined with some running incidents has Dick’s past a rougher one than we would expect.

I am incredibly driven by Dick’s path to recovery though. When you hear the word addiction you think of  a drunk that can’t keep a job or drug addict in trouble with the law. You don’t think of the normal person in appearance who’s addiction appears hidden compared to others.  I hope I never have to be involved with an addiction in my immediately family, however I know through reading Dick’s experiences it can be overcome and conquered.

Thank you Dick for writing such an incredible book.  I am not a big reader but great storytelling along with real-world events that contain running or sports always seems to get me. Next on my list is to read your other book, Duel in the Sun.  If you would like to support the Dick Beardsley Foundation you can find more information here.  You can find this book along with his others here if interested as well.  If you have specific questions regarding the book that you would like me answer, leave them in the comments section below and I will be gladly answer them.

Fargo Half-Marathon Race Recap 5/18/13

Another half-marathon is in the books. Although it was not a performance I’m wanting to write about, it’s a step along my journey and I think one that I can learn a lot from when looking back at the 13.1 miles. Whenever a person sets out to do a race they always have a goal in mind. Some times it is to finish the race and other times a person is looking to set a PR. Today was one of those days where I was really hoping to PR. The Fargo Marathon course in is very flat and although can be a windy city, it can produce some fast times. Except for a few days where I had a tight Achilles my training had gone has planned and I thought was 85-90% as prepared as a person could be. The only thing I felt I was lacking was the miles on the legs before starting my training plan.

The race started at 7:30 am outside of the Fargodome. As the rain came down, I think all of us runners looked at each other and thought “Wow yet again does Fargo’s weather ruin a great course and chance at a PR.” Before we knew it the race director started the race and off we went. As we headed down University Drive in Fargo, the streets were lined with fans and I worked to get settled in my pace. I was hoping for a sub 1:35 so I knew I would like to get in the 7 min/mi pace range. As I get settled in, I was feeling fairly well; a little stuffy in the nose, but snot rockets kept my breathing clear for the most part. Shortly down the race course, around mile 4, I ran by my wife, daughter and sister-in-law. It was great to see their faces and hear them cheering. I wasn’t sure how my training would go this spring after my wife had our first daughter. However I was very thankful to continue to train on track and had a wife that always understood.

As I arrived at the mile 8 marker, my right achilles/calf got tight and I hoped it might go away. I wasn’t going to stop and stretch it out as this is what I was feeling on some runs during training and the stretching had only helped for a few blocks during training. I could feel my pace slowing and although I tried to use my arms to keep pace, my achilles/calf just wasn’t having it. I’m a person you’d have to drag across a finish line rather than have me quit so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. As we entered the Fargodome parking lot and knew the finish line wasn’t more than 300-400 meters away, I knew I would finish. Coming across the line in 1:42:50 was again slower than I hoped for, but I knew this challenge I pushed through would just help in my overarching goals, to someday qualify for Boston.

I look forward to the weeks ahead in my training as I prepare for two marathons this fall (Sioux Falls Marathon in September and Kansas City Marathon in October). I hope for a BQ time at those events, but know that conquering the marathon takes many attempts for people. At minimum I hope to overcome my previous time of 4:13 where I was 4 miles from the finish at the 3 hour mark. Time to get some sleep to rest up and when I wake up continue on this training plan I’ve laid out.

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