Monday, August 2, 2010

Runner of the Week: David

This week's Runner of the Week is David Pittman. David has a great blog of his own and has a great story to tell about his own running milestones as well as the various reasons for his running. Read on to learn more about David.

RD: So, David, where are you from?
David: Originally from Central Indiana farmland (about 20 miles northwest of Indianapolis), now living in suburban Chicago

RD: Share a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? Hobbies?
David: My first job was as a high school English and journalism teacher, which is where my love for writing and telling stories originates, but for the last 21 years, I’ve been in high-tech marketing. Until this year, I worked mostly for small companies, but in February my 350-person company was acquired by 450,000-person IBM. I’m now part of “Big Blue”!

RD: How long have you been running?
David: Wow, it’ll be 36 years this fall. When did I get to be so old?!
RD: You and be both man! Been over 25 for me. Where did all that time go (or miles) go?

RD: What got you into running?
David: One day, my 7th grade basketball coach pulled me aside and said, “Son, as a basketball player, you’d make one heckuva runner.” At first I thought he was complimenting my fast-break abilities (I could fly!), but then I realized he was telling me I really wasn’t very good.

RD: What do you enjoy most about running?
David: Oh my, where to start? My health and well-being are important to me, and running keeps me fit and reasonably stress-free. I have an enormous sweet tooth - running keeps me from ballooning to the size of a VW Beetle.
But what I enjoy most about running is the fact that I, like any other runner, can make a positive difference to other people. For the past eight years, I’ve run with the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team of runners and triathletes. In that time, I’ve raised over $45,000 to fight cancer. I originally joined the DetermiNation team as a way of dealing with my sister’s cancer having come out of remission. I knew I couldn’t cure Sharon's cancer myself, but I could provide funds that would help someone get to a treatment, or help a family cope with the stress of being care-givers, or help a researcher who might one day find a cure. [Click here] for more on this story. By the way, everybody always asks about my sister. She has once again kicked cancer into remission and is doing very well.

RD: What are your favorite training foods?
David: I’m not obsessive about any particular food. When I’m in the heavy training time for a marathon, my body just sort of naturally craves food that’s good for me -- fruits, veggies, yogurt -- and let's me know it doesn't appreciate my one true love: french fries. However, I do love me a good ribeye now and then!
Before a race, any race, I eat a bagel with peanut butter (crunchy, by the way. I don’t even like to acknowledge the existence of “creamy”). After weekend morning runs, I love pancakes! Actually, to be more precise, I love pure maple syrup. Pancakes are just a very efficient and tasty syrup-delivery system.
RD: You and my wife have the cruncy peanut butter thing in common. I don't get it. LOL!

RD: Are you a lone runner or do you run with some buddies? What do you like about each?
David: I run most of my training miles by myself. My time running is when I solve the problems that seem insurmountable any other time, whether that’s how to meet a pressing deadline at work, or how to raise a teenage daughter, or how to convince my wife that I really need to go away for a long weekend in the Florida Keys to run a relay race with 5 other guys.
When it's time to race, I really enjoy participating with friends and family. Several people in my extended family are runners: a brother-in-law, a niece and two nephews on my wife’s side, and two nephews on my side. We’re spread across four states, but we get together frequently at races, either to run with one another or to cheer on one or more of the others. We’re all very competitive and enjoy the occasional side bet on which of us will do best. Bragging rights can last a loooooong time.
RD: What’s the funniest or oddest thing that’s happened to you while on a run?
David: I've had some good ones over the years, and most of them involve peeing.
Pee Story #1: Earlier this year, I had the honor(?) of running the Seven Mile Bridge leg of the Keys100 relay. This famous bridge is a two-lane road that is the only link between the keys and the Florida mainland. My relay leg started just after noon on a blisteringly hot, humid day. I had a 24-ounce bottle of water on my belt and carried another 24 ounce bottle in my hand. By the time I'd reached halfway across the bridge, I'd finished one bottle and had to pee ... badly! The end of the bridge was still about 30 minutes away. There I was, at the top of a bridge, with cars whizzing by in both directions -- and me peeing over the side.
Pee story #2: A couple of years ago I was preparing to run the local 4th of July 5K that I do every year. I had jogged a nice warm up then slammed a few cups of water. I glanced at my watch and saw there were 6 minutes till start time, so I sprinted over to a vacant port-o-let for one last squirt. When I was about halfway through, I heard the report of the starter's pistol. My watch said there were still 4 minutes to the gun! I finished as quickly as I could, then flew out the door and across the parkway just in time to be the very ... last ... person ... to ... start.
RD: What’s your biggest running accomplishment? Why?
David: Without question, my biggest running accomplishment was recording a 3:28:42 at the 2009 Chicago Marathon. Why, because that broke the 3:30 time I needed to qualify for the Boston Marathon! I used to be a middle-of-the-pack guy. (In fact, of my 8 marathons, exactly half are over 4 hours.) Until 2008, I never thought I would ever have a chance of qualifying for Boston. But in 2005, I had surgery to repair an ACL I tore playing volleyball. I worked hard at rehab for a year, then ran the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon ... and finished in a very disappointing time.
After that, I “retired” from marathons and focused on half-marathons. Whaddya know, I started getting faster. And faster. In December 2008, I ran 1:35:13 at the St. Jude’s Half Marathon in Memphis, beating my previous personal record by 8 minutes! At that point I thought, “Hey, if you continue to work hard, you can go to Boston!” For the next 10 months, my mantra was, “Three twenty-eight will be great.” When I crossed the finish line at Chicago and saw 3:28:42 on my watch ... wow, I can’t even describe how amazingly fantastic that felt. [Click here] for my race report.

RD: Do you have a favorite brand of running shoe? Which model? Why?
David: For two years, I’ve been “playing the field.” Right now I’m alternating between Asics 2150, Saucony ProGrid Omni and Mizuno Wave Inspire. My next pair is likely to be Saucony Kinvaras, but I am strongly considering going “barefoot” with Vibram FiveFingers KSO or Bikila.

RD: What’s your favorite race distance(s)? Do you have a favorite race you run each year?
David: For sheer enjoyment, I’m really into half marathons right now. They’re easy enough to train for without huge miles, but they’re also challenging. They also give you enough time and distance to enjoy a city. In the past seven months, I’ve run halfs in Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana and Washington. My “go to” half is the Indy Mini Marathon. It’s the largest half marathon in the country; it’s back in my old stamping grounds; and it is, in my opinion, the best organized large race in the country. But for the ultimate feeling of accomplishment, give me a marathon. And for a marathon I would love to do every year, take me to Boston!

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?
David: You can do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, large, small, blind, have one leg or no legs. You can do it. IF ... you want to.Oh, and by the way, the feelings of self-confidence and accomplishment you will get from trying are soooo worth it!

RD: Open Mike: Share anything you‘d like about your running experiences, past accomplishments, goals, dreams….anything you haven’t previously shared.
David: My Twitter name is @DP_Turtle, and people often comment about my "pace" as a turtle. That's funny, and I really enjoy it. But truth is, pace is only 1/3 of the story behind the "turtle" name. Back in 2003, when Sharon's cancer returned and I decided to fight it through running, I came up with a "hook" to gain people's interest. (Hey, I'm in marketing - would you expect anything less?) Thus was born Turtles Against Cancer. The turtle metaphor has a three-pronged meaning:
  1. My pace at the time was just enough to put me smack dab in the middle of the pack. While my speed has improved, I'm still no Meb or Ryan.
  2. I likened the fight against cancer to the parable of the tortoise and the hare. We won't defeat cancer overnight, but slow and steady wins the race.
  3. This is the best part - Sharon makes these delicious chocolate confections called turtles: pecans swimming in caramel and drenched in chocolate. Mmmmm! My big hook is for a donation of at least $50, you get a box of turtles. With Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know whut yur gonna git, but with mine, you always know it's gonna be tasty!
Lastly, people occasionally ask me, "Don't you ever get tired of running?" or "When are you going to stop?" My answers are "No," and "When I die." I really love running. I love those days when I head out for a run by myself on one of my regular routes, then suddenly realize that I don’t quite know where I am. I've drifted so deeply into my thoughts that everything looks different. I love feeling strong and healthy. I love being within single digits of my high school graduating weight.I have two dreams for the future. In one, I'm standing on the starting line of a marathon, and people all around me are whispering "Man, that old guy looks great! I hope I can still run a marathon when I'm his age."
The other dream involves my daughter. Last year, she joined the junior high cross country team. She loved it and is looking forward to this season. When I watch her run, I remember standing on the side of the road at mile 24 of the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon. As I stood there, waiting to cheer on my friends, I saw a beaming young woman in a yellow T-shirt that read, "I'm running with my dad." Alongside her was a man in his 60s, wearing an ear-to-ear smile and a yellow T-shirt, "I'm running with my daughter." In my dream, one day, I'm that dad.

Thanks for sharing your story David! You've given me inspiration that one day, I too will be at Boston! Be sure to check out David's blog!

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