racing, running, running celebrities

Runner from the Lake Highlands neighborhood strives for Olympic glory (and this ain’t his first rodeo)

August 2008 Advocate cover features silver medalist Darvis “Doc” Patton.

Darvis Patton, who graced the cover of the Advocate (where I hold my day job) in 2008 right before his Olympic appearance, hopes to run in London 2012. If he makes team USA, this will be the third Olympics for the 34-year-old Lake Highlands High School graduate.

For Patton, whose friends call him Doc, the 2008 Olympics was a disappointment.

He recently told NBC5 reporter Brian Curtis that he thought he let his country down after an eighth-place finish in the 100-meter sprint and a painful-to-watch relay in which he and teammate Tyson Gay dropped the baton.

But things are looking up for Doc, his coach tells the reporter.

“Doc is doing great,” Coach Monte Stratton says. “He continues to amaze me.”

The trails are Friday in Eugene Oregon (Tracktown!) and Patton is optimistic about his chances of making the U.S. track team, he tells NBC.

“I am looking forward to representing the United States once again.”

In our 2008 interview, Patton credited LHHS track coach Buzz Andrews with pushing him to succeed academically so that he could join the track team.

“I’ve always known I was fast, but the first two years of high school, I was ineligible for sports due to grades.”

Darvis “Doc” Patton had a rough run in the 2008 Olympics, following a spread in our magazine. Hope it wasn’t the Advocate curse.

But early during his junior year, Patton said, Andrews spotted him.

“Buzz was like, ‘Uh uh. You are not going to fail anymore.’”

Patton started college at Garden City Community but later transferred to TCU. He has won three World Championship Medals and his relay team took home the silver in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Sending good vibes your way, Doc. Give ’em hell!

inspiration, marathon, other sports, people with true grit, Peter Snell, racing, running, running celebrities, training

Running legend Peter Snell, Lydiard method, other cool stuff

Peter Snell shows me the track shoes that ran a 3:54 minute mile.

In Aug. 2008 when I was writing a story, Gold Diggers, about Olympic medalists who live in the Dallas area, I learned that the legendary New Zealander Peter Snell, winner of three gold medals (1960, ’62, ’64) in the 800 (twice), the 880 and the mile (Snell broke the four-minute mile 15 times, with a best of 3:54) respectively, lives right here in the White Rock Lake area.

In fact, my running group has passed right by his home on an occasion or two. Today he ‘s Dr. Snell and he researches exercise and aging at UT Southwestern. Last week I interviewed him for a story we are doing about (in a nutshell) aging well, and I derived a little wisdom, or at least something to think about, from our talk.

Snell’s coach was Arthur Lydiard, famous for putting his short and mid-distance runners to 100-mile training weeks. Snell still believes in the Lydiard training method. Only now, unlike when he was running the miles back in the 1960s, he says understands why the method made him a great runner. “Back then I was just following directions, he says.”

It’s complex, but basically, the incredible stamina produced by weekly hilly (“slow, 6-minute per mile”) 22-mile runs and daily 17-18 mile jaunts, allowed him to have a devastating kick at the end of short races.

(Check out this video of his two record-breaking miles for an example. )

Lydiard’s method also includes plenty of hills, intervals, race pace and such, but at its heart is miles and miles. In fact, in a Time magazine article, a source remarks that when a competitive runner reaches exceedingly high mileage and the joints begin to ache and the pain is enormous, most coaches ease up, but Lydiard would keep pushing until the runner “becomes insensitive to the pain.” (You can see here why the Lydiard method is sort of controversial.)

Snell poses with other sub 4-minute milers — can you find Roger Bannister?

Snell says the mile race begins at the 3/4 mark. The first three quarters are about positioning and relaxing, he says.

That translates too to marathoning — the marathon begins at mile 20, I’ve heard many more- experienced- than- me runners say. The key is feeling good and staying on target up to that point, then having enough in the tank to go strong for six miles. A good, sturdy base and frequent race-pace running, it would seem based on my studies and experiences, is key to making this happen.

That doesn’t mean 100-mile weeks, but it means significantly more than the 35-45 mile weeks I once relied on for marathon preparation.  But the problem with upping that mileage is balance/knowing when to say ‘enough’ — at 60-70 mpw, I am hurting. My knee is swollen, my heel is sore and my achilles is tender and tight.

Running Times a while back ran a comprehensive piece about Lydiard training. It addresses my issues. Here are some highlights; I totally recommend that serious runners read the whole thing:

Miles are “money in the bank”. The more you have the greater your currency to buy ATP’s (the units of energy your muscles need for contraction) and the faster you will eventually be able to race in any event that has a large aerobic component.”

Train based on feeling. Lydiard looked at modern technology — whether a coach yelling split times from the sideline or a watch that beeps — as training wheels. He would prescribe runs at half effort, full effort, or seven-eights effort and said the runner needed to develop a rapport with his/her body — we need to learn to trust the inner coach, he said.

Balance workouts/ breakdown and buildup. This is tricky. Despite what the aforementioned Time article said, Lydiard believed recovery is important. *”While Lydiard pushed his runners, he offset the overtraining syndrome by preparing them for optimal recovery with base training, gearing the training to be feeling-based, and adjusting workouts according to the athlete’s recovery response. The art of good training calls for an accurate assessment of which side of the adaptation curve the runner is on — catabolic or anabolic — and prescribing appropriately: a recovery run or a workout. There are simple ways of assessing this: An elevated morning heart rate, poor sleep, low energy, sore muscles and bad mood are all indicators that the runner needs further recovery and a workout of any intensity is contraindicated. Once the “spark” has returned the runner is ready for the next “stress.”

Have good timing. Three-four weeks taper, higher mileage during earlier weeks of training, more skills and speed in the weeks before taper … *”It is one thing to maximize the amount of energy at the disposal of an athlete. It is another to channel that energy into the event that matters. To ensure one’s best form is achieved on competition day, a Lydiard schedule is always written from the goal backwards, allotting the amount of time needed for each phase and using the remaining time for base training …  There is nothing more confidence-building than the somatic knowing of thorough preparation.”

Miki and Peter Snell, at home near White Rock Lake

After the 1960s, Snell didn’t do any competitive running. He met his wife Miki at a speaking engagement. She was also a runner — in the 70s she won the Turkey Trot three times. Together they have done a few short triathlons, and they are really into orienteering. They are both still quite competitive, especially with one another. They call exercise “the fountain of youth”, and they , now over 70, are living proof.

So whether you are running 100 or 15 miles a week, keep it up. Consistency, Snell says, is far more important than anything else.

More story in the November Advocate magazine, coming soon.

*quotes from Running Times 

probably a bad idea, racing, running, running celebrities

Extreme heat running: Dallas’ Hottest Half featured in “Runner’s World” magazine

This Runner's World story features an infamous White Rock Lake event held each August.

Last August, on one summer’s most sizzling days, something like 1500 psychopaths people ran a half marathon, 13.1 miles, beginning at Norbuck Park near White Rock Lake.

A writer for Runner’s World magazine flew in from Long Island, NY to test an array of fancy new gear intended to make exercise in extreme heat safer and easier.

A big fan of Runner’s World, I really wanted to introduce myself to the writer John Hanc following the 2010 race, but I just couldn’t seem to peel myself away from those industrial fans placed under a tent near the finish line. It was hot — 90 degrees at the start and the temps just kept crawling up. Hanc sported the number 108, which represents the record high in Dallas in August.

A year later, the story appears in the publication’s August 2011 issue. Turns out that despite his access to a high-tech cooling vest and a personal assistant (Dallasite Matt Ganio, a Ph.D. and researcher at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at UT Southwestern) to track his hydration and core body temperature, among other aids, Hanc suffered from dehydration and mild heat exhaustion and finished five minutes short of his goal time and 10 minutes short of his best half marathon time (it was about the same story for me, minus the fancy gear).

This is fun, isn’t it?

Here's me around mile 11 of the 2010 Hottest Half. That's Libby Jones, "Heels and Hills" race director, and her crew handing out blessed ice. I finished the race in 1:44. That's about ten minutes slower than my 13.1 best, and I was pleased with my time.

Here’s is the digital version of the story — it contains essential information about staying safe outdoors in the extreme heat.

I like that RW proves that, even when you are extremely prepared for the heat, it can make you sick. I had a prime example the past Saturday — I had a late night Friday, so I pushed my long run back to 8:30 a.m. instead of the usual 5 or 6 a.m. The day and night before, I guzzled water and electrolytes and even prepared a cold bottle of Pedialyte for the morning of my 15 miler.

I was great through about mile 10. I totally relate to the following quote in Hanc’s story: “I continued to feel fresh—and cocky—through mile five. Then I cracked. The discomfort of external heat stress can be sudden or gradual—for me it was like a 1,400 pound longhorn fell on my back.”

At about mile 12, I completely gave up on running. Forest Gump style, I said “I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now,” and walked, excruciatingly slowly, the remaining three miles.

If you are interested, The Hottest Half 2011 is slated to begin at 8 a.m. August 14 at Norbuck, Northwest Highway and Buckner. I won’t be there this year since it is the same weekend of my ET Marathon in Nevada. I will probably give this month’s Too Hot to Handle 15k at shot.

marathon, running, running celebrities

Dallas’ ex-police chief, mayoral hopeful is a runner

Here's Kunkle in March 2011 finishing the Mardi Gras Dash for the Beads 5k.

Look for East Dallas resident, former chief of police and current mayoral candidate David Kunkle to run the White Rock Lake Centennial Half Marathon this weekend.

His personal best in the full marathon distance (26.2 miles) is an impressive 2 hours 40 minutes at White Rock Marathon. That was in the 80s, but his wife says he still can run a Boston-qualifying marathon time. (In non-runner speak, that means he’s still got it).

marathon, running celebrities

Radio host talks about his Boston Marathon experience

Craig “Junior” Miller of East Dallas and Ticket Radio fame ran his second Boston Marathon last Monday (a lot of other folks from around here did too, in case you missed that).

Yesterday morning Miller talked about his race on the air: here’s a link to the audio.

Jeff Bennett ran a 3:38 Boston Marathon. For him, that was a "fun run" in a gorilla costume.

Junior talks about his encounter with a running gorilla on the Boston course — amazingly, the gorilla recognized him!

Turns out it was a triathlete from Coppell, Jeff Bennett, as noted in Debbie Fetterman’s Dallas Morning News column. I assume it’s the same guy anyway, unless there were two guys from the Dallas-listening area dressed as a monkey and running the Boston Marathon.