Monday, February 8, 2010

RunnerDude's Runner of the Week: Bob

For this week's interview, we've traveled from Mexico all they way to New Jersey! Bob is a wonderful example of how even if you've been running for years, you can change it up and keep it fresh and fun! Bob has a great story to tell!

Featured Runner: Bob or @downtownrunner (on Twitter)

RD: Hey Bob, your Twitter username is @downtownrunner. Tell me a little about that.
Bob: I have a blog with a similar name where I talk about running (often barefoot) in lower Manhattan.

RD: Where are you from?
Bob: I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. But now I live in New Jersey (Joisey for short).

RD: Share a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Hobbies?
Bob: I am 51, happily married to a wonderful lady, and am the father of four grown kids. I manage a technology department for an agency in Lower Manhattan, New York City. After God, my wife and kids, my two passions are running and photography. I'm your basic geek, from a long line of geeks.

RD: How long have you been running?
Bob: 35 years.

RD: When did you start running?
Bob: In high school gym class our coach gave a little talk about heart disease and a famous study about a group of firefighters. Those that ran were a lot healthier. So I decided to go out for the cross country team. I was never very good (read fast) but it was good for me and a lot of my friends were on the team too so it was fun.

RD: What do you enjoy most about running?
Bob: The feeling of accomplishment and knowing that I'm doing something that is good for my health.
RD: What are your favorite training foods?
Bob: This is a tough one. Does ice cream count? I like to eat (too much). So much to choose from. Let's see, some of them would be yogurt, almonds, chili, and chia seeds. Oh, and Clif bars, peanut butter crunch. :)

RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
Bob: I almost always run alone. It's not that I wouldn't enjoy running with a group, but my schedule and situation makes it difficult. I often run during my lunch break which is unpredictable from day to day. I don't mind being alone though. Usually I listen to music, think, clear my head, etc. Recently I've become much more aware of things like form, breathing techniques, etc. So there is plenty to think about and work on.

RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
Bob: I'm probably boring on this one. Although, there was that one time I almost got trampled. I live in a fairly densely populated suburb, far from any woods. One morning I was out running through town before dawn. I was crossing a tiny brook via a road bridge when out of nowhere came a big buck deer. He bounded across the road toward me. Just before he reached the sidewalk he turned slightly and then jumped the railing and disappeared. In 18 years of living here I've never seen a deer again. But probably the best thing that happens now is the looks that I get when I come running down the street or sidewalks of NYC with my winter gear on and no shoes. Everyone all bundled up with their earmuffs, over coats, and Ugg boots all wide eyed because they can't understand why someone would willingly be barefoot. And running. And smiling. And enjoying every second of it. Priceless.

RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
Bob: There are probably two equally important (to me) accomplishments. The first was my first half marathon. That was during college, back when there were very few races. My roommate and I ran the race. I don't even remember my time. But at the moment it was a major confidence builder, not only with running but in other ways too. Difficult things in my life seemed less daunting.The other accomplishment would be recently transitioning from shod to barefoot/minimalist running. It wasn't an easy thing for these feet and calves to adjust after 34 years of conventional shoes. I had daily pain for about 2 months as the muscles, tendons, and blood supply developed. I almost gave up. But I kept at it and studied how others had done the same thing. Now, on the other side of the transition, I feel like I've had an epiphany of sorts. Like a whole new world to explore. Like I've learned how to run all over again.

RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Silly question, I suppose since you run barefoot, but do you have a favorite shoe or minimalist shoe?
Bob: Almost a year ago I heard about barefoot running. Along with thousands of others I then read Born to Run. So I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I've never looked back. I run barefoot when I can, in VFFs when I can't. I haven't worn conventional shoes in about 6 months or so. In fact, my old shoes don't fit now because my feet have grown stronger and my toes have straightened out.Recently I bought a second pair of VFFs which I wear almost every day to work. They are super comfortable and light, and help continue the process of the strengthening of my feet and ankles.

RD: What’s your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
Bob: I'm probably best at 10K. I find I get a second wind at about 4 miles which serves me well at that race distance. My town here in NJ has an annual 5K that I always run. It's fairly small but its still fun. It's in April so its a good start to the racing season. I am starting training now for a half marathon in May and then hopefully my first marathon in the Fall.

RD: If you were speaking to a group of non-runners or runner wannabes and trying to encourage them to run, what would you say?
Bob: I'd tell them they will get back more from running than they put into it. That if they start out slow, stick with it for 2-3 months, there is no way they will regret it. But make it fun. Don't push it.

RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
Bob: Not too much else, except thanks to the RunnerDude for his blog and this opportunity to say hi to his readers. If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me through my blog.

Thanks Bob!

If you'd like to be featured as a weekly runner or you know of someone that would make a good candidate, email me at

Happy Running!


Kathy said...

I love these peeks you give into ordinary folks's lives. And can I say how excited I was to see Mexico first! :)

I can't imagine running in that cold or in a city-it is so nice to see how everyone else is doing it. Thanks so much, RD!

misszippy said...

Great interview. Love hearing from someone who has been at it for such a long time.

Junk Miler said...

Some of my favorite running was in downtown NYC, especially Chinatown, where I would be of average height.

RunnerDude said...

Hmmm...wonder how you say "Crazy little white man" in Chinese?

Junk Miler said...

I think the word you're looking for is "Josh." Of course, I've heard the Chinese use the word "Thad" for the same expression.

RunnerDude said...

Nah, I'm just usually called "crazy little man."

RunnerDude said...

...or just "Crazy"

Unknown said...

I just read his blog (very funny). I may have to try this out...

Unknown said...

I love those interviews, thank you for sharing your story BOB!!! Amazing to know that Bob runs during lunch break...I wish i could do that :))