One of my inalienable rights as a runner is to complain about the weather just about whenever I want (which is quite often). Like this morning. I mean, we all whine about the weather because, unlike other aerobic athletes, we’re always out there, regardless of what Mother Nature is hurling at us.
Actually, we’re lucky. Cyclists, swimmers, climbers, golfers, tennis players, rowers—whoever–are all weather-dependent. Even though we’re not, most of us still find something to hate about running in crappy weather.
Especially me. In my century and a half of running, I’ve gone out in some of the worst weather the planet can dish out. A few years ago, I ran in a 125-degree blast furnace in Death Valley in July. That same year, for some stupid reason, I went out for a run along the lakefront in Chicago with a windchill that got down to -30. I’ve raced in a steambath in Bali (Indonesia) as well as the other extreme—Antarctica—which, believe it or not, wasn’t nearly as bad as the AT&T Austin Marathon two years ago.
But the sickest weather I’ve ever run in had to be in Moscow…Idaho. I was there one December writing a story on decathlete Dan O’Brien and went for an easy run around the University of Idaho campus. After a couple of miles, the wind picked it up and pretty soon I was frozen solid by a Canadian front that blew more than 80 miles per hour. It was so strong, I literally couldn’t even move a step forward against it. Making it back to my hotel was out of the question. Instead, I ducked inside a building and called the hotel to send a van out to pick me up. The driver mentioned that picking up someone on a run was a first for him. Me too.
Anyway, I was thinking about all the lousy-weather runs this morning as I cruised through my neighborhood swathed in a vintage New York City Marathon GoreTex jacket, tights with two pair of gloves, ear things and an extra pair of shorts. If I lived in Duluth, it would have been a perfect winter morning for running but for me, in Austin, Texas, it was downright miserable with the temps dancing just above freezing with a light mist. Even my feet were cold.
So here I am, rolling along, barely keeping the cold at bay, when I see a guy—coming in the other direction—wearing nothing at all. And I mean nothing! OK, he had shorts, but no gloves, tights, shirt, brains, etc.
I yelled something like ‘You’re crazy,” at the barechested guy who didn’t seem like he even noticed it was freezing this morning.
I sure did.
- The AT&T Austin Half Marathon has already reached its limit of 6000 and won’t accept any more entrants. The marathon, which also traditionally sells out, looks like it will reach its limit of 6000 next week. So if you haven’t entered the marathon, you’d better hurry. The 6000-runner cap is a “hard” one which means the field will not be expanded to accommodate more entrants. The issue isn’t the roads, but all the supplies (water, cups, food, T-shirts, etc.) have been ordered. Both races sold out last year, but this is the earliest sell out in race history. Don’t snooze on entering the marathon or your only alternative might be running Ft. Worth.
- Michelle Lilienthal, who has qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials, is coming down to Austin for the half marathon on February 17th. She lives and trains in Minnesota which isn’t exactly the ideal place to get ready for a marathon. She had a 24-miler scheduled last Saturday, but the temp was a dangerous -2. Instead of risking frostbite, Lilienthal ran the entire 24-miler on a treadmill. “I know it sounds crazy,” she said, “but it was a good mental challenge.” I’ll bet.
- Speaking of frostbite, ultramarathoner Andrew Wells paid a hefty price for winning the Frozen Otter Ultra Trek in Wisconsin last weekend: Two toes. The 27-year-old Iowan was one of only two runners to make it past the halfway mark of the 102-kilometer race as temperatures dropped to -26 degrees. Everyone else had the good sense to DNF, but Wells kept going and ran about 79 kilometers and was declared the winner. “My feet were obviously frozen,” says Wells, “so I couldn’t feel them.” For his troubles, Wells will have two toes amputated tomorrow.
- One of the greatest American marathoners ever (if not the greatest), Boston Bill Rodgers just underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer in Boston. Through a friend, Bill reports the doctors got all the cancer cleared out.
- Mark Floriani, one of the Flo Bros., who created Flotrack, recently made it around the world in 21 days. The former UT distance runner returned back to Austin after going to Chicago (?), Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Malaysia and Sweden to film interviews of Olympians for his site. Looked like fun, especially playing with the kangaroos in Perth, but Flo looked a little weary by the end of his junket. (It must have been hell interviewing Swedish star Carolina Kluft.) To check it out, go to www.flocasts.org.
- Tonight is the night for the one-time showing of the Spirit of the Marathon movie at various locations around Central Texas. Most of the locations were near sell-outs last week so there may not be many (if any) tickets still left. An encore presentation will be shown on February 21st.
- Forgot to mention in my 3M race preview that one of Burundi’s gifts to Austin —Bernard Manirakiza—is entered. Bernard ran 1:03 at 3M two years ago and says he’d be disappointed if he didn’t run as fast. Bernard’s had a year-long lull in his racing partly due to a lack of motivation since collapsing in the final 200 meters of the Cap 10,000 in ’06. But in the past few months, he’s got his mojo back with good efforts at the EAS Run for the Water 10-Miler and the Decker Challenge 20-K (which he won).
- This just in: For all you Joe Driscoll racing fans, the North Carolinian is a late scratch from 3M on Sunday.
- Desiree Ficker is back in town after a 10-day trip to South Africa with her No. 1 fan—her father. After winning the South African Half Ironman Championships, Des and dad went on an unforgettable safari through a game preserve where they saw every type of African wild animal imaginable. Ficker will probably spend March at altitude training (either in Flagstaff or Boulder) for the Olympic March Trials in April. Ironically, Ficker, who is a professional triathlete, won’t take part in the Olympic Triathlon Trials. The Olympic distance is just too short for her (especially the swim) and Ficker feels like she has a better shot at making the Olympic Marathon team. Unlike just about every other Olympic Trials runner who will be hoping for perfect weather, Ficker hopes for the worst Boston can dish out. She has excelled in abysmally hot, blustery conditions and has also run well in cold, windy races such as the ’06 Decker Challenge. The worse it is, the better Ficker does.
- Former Austinites Greg and Tracy McMillan welcomed their first child into the world on Friday: Angus Scott McMillan. Congrats!
- BTW: Thanks to the reader who suggested I change the name of this column until AT&T to Around and Around and Around The Lake. I’ll take it under advisement.
Have any juicy news for m