Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Perspire to Inspire - the one in which I talk to Bart Yasso...

A week or so ago, I got an e-mail asking me if I would be interested in interviewing Bart Yasso, Runner's World Chief Running Officer.   Exactly.  Out of all the runners in the blogosphere, I could only wonder how I got to be so lucky to talk to the man who came up with the Yasso 800s.  I didn't jump at the chance right off though.  Being the shy person that I am I wasn't sure if I would be able to do it.  I emailed a few friends and asked them if they had received a similar email thinking maybe this was some kind of dial in thing and I would be one of many people on the phone.  No, they didn't receive such an email but, like me, thought it was crazy exciting and told me they would help me come up with questions.  I pushed aside my nerves, emailed back and said I would love to chat with Bart!  A little while later, I was sent his phone number and told to call him anytime on Monday.  A one on one chat.  A shy person's nightmare!  It took me until late Monday afternoon to work up the nerve to dial his number but once I did the nervousness went away and we just had a nice chat about running and life in general.

I don't know if you were aware but September is national recovery month.  (yeah, I didn't know either...).  Bart did a short video as part of the Perspire to Inspire campaign sharing how running saved his life.  He said a lot of people tend to think that he was a runner in college but the reality is he found running as a way to turn his life around and overcome drug and alcohol problems in his 20s.  Running became his career and has afforded him the opportunity to run on every continent and an untold number of races.  He doesn't run quite as much anymore but spends 45 weekends a year on the road inspiring other runners in the sport.  If you haven't read his book, My Life on the Run, I highly recommend it.  It really is great read and will keep you fascinated from start to finish.

The Perspire to Inspire campaign is a part of Run Well which has been raising money for addiction recovery since 2008 under the leadership of Linda Quirk, an accomplished runner and triathlete in her own right.  She started this organization due to a personal connection with addiction as a way to help others.  I encourage you to check our their website to read more about this organization.  You also will want to check out the video below to learn how you can win a trip to a race of your choice along with some other pretty fabulous prizes.  Put on your best video face and tell them how you have inspired others to take steps toward a healthy life - and others can just mean yourself :)   The contest ends on 09/30/13.    

As I was talking to Bart, I could only imagine that he has been asked all of these questions at least a million times or more.  He was so nice and said even though he does get asked certain things all the time he tries to come up with something a little different in the way of response every time.  I told him this was my first interview ever (I like to start out big...) and we went from there.  

Of course we HAD to talk about the Yasso 800s.  The first thing he said was that he did not name them that, it was Amby Burfoot, the Editor at Runner's World.  He said he would never be so full of himself to do it but Amby came up with it when the issue debuting the concept of the 800s was published.  Of course now, 20 years later, he said it is pretty cool to have something like that named after you.  He said the correlation between 800 times and marathon times was something he just noticed as he was preparing for his own marathons back then and it seems to work for a lot of people.  The short explanation of the Yasso 800s is that if you can do 10 x 800s at 4:00 you should be able to pull off a 4:00 marathon.  (or 3:30 minutes for a 3:30 marathon, etc.).  Here is a great video of the man himself explaining the workout.  


I asked Bart if the 800s would also predict half marathon times thinking maybe you would do 5 x 800s.  He said you actually would do 20 x 400s with a 200m recovery jog in between for a half marathon.  He said he likes to keep the "hard stuff" to somewhere around five miles.  If you have trouble keeping up with how many you have done, he suggests putting some stones at the end of each lap and kick one to side as you complete it to help keep count.  Just make sure your friends don't try to mess with you and move your stones.  :)

Bart wasn't always all running all the time.  Did you know he has done five iron man competitions and has ridden his bike across the country unsupported (TWICE!) in addition to all of his legendary running?  Why yes, he has.  He comes across as really humble.  I mean, he has done so many races that he has lost count, he has track workouts named after him and is in the Running USA Hall of Champions yet he seems so laid back about the whole thing.  I kind of love that about him.  

He seems truly devoted to helping runners excel in the sport and is quick to tell you that he loves his job and meeting people at the running expos he attends most every weekend.  I asked him what his advice would be to someone just starting out fresh off the couch.  He said he suggests setting a time goal.  Run for five minutes then gradually work up to 10, 15, etc.  Don't start out too quickly just let the sport come too you.  Sounds like good advice to me!  I think most of us can remember when we couldn't string together more than a quarter mile, if that.  

We also talked about shoe wear which is one of those things that always seems like a mystery to me.  He doesn't recommend any particular brand of shoe but recommends that you find what works for you whether that be hokas, sauconys, mizunos, whatever.  So many of the running stores can help you find a great fit these days, that is a great place to start.  As far as wear, he says you can't tell by looking at the tread because what really wears down is the midsole or cushioning in the shoe.  It is more of a situation of feel.  You start to have runs that cause your feet or legs to hurt (more than usual) which could be a sign that it is time for new shoes.  If you want to go by mileage, he says they should last somewhere around 400 miles. 

...And lastly, we talked about the Dopey Challenge at Disney in January.  Ironically, I am following his plan for training which kicks off next week.  The Dopey is a 5k on Thursday, 10K on Friday, 13.1 on Saturday and 26.2 on Sunday.  We talked strategy for getting from Thursday to Sunday without wrecking your chances for finishing on Sunday.  He said to think of the weekend as a negative split.  All of the races leading into Sunday should be training runs, take it easy and save it for the marathon on Sunday.  He also said don't be a tourist and go walking around the parks until after the race on Sunday.  So for all you Dopey racers, Park yourselves after every race that week until the big dance is over on Sunday then you can live it up at Disney World!  

Like I said, I have no idea how I was chosen to talk to Bart but am so appreciative of the opportunity.  He was so nice to talk to and now I am feeling inspired and ready to take on my Dopey training!  I think I will just store his number in my contacts in case I need a consult on running in the future ;)     Please make sure you check out the RunWell page and contest I mentioned above.  Your short video could win you a BIG prize!  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Medals and Memories...

The thing about taking CR with me to races is that he is super competitive.  He may not know about triathlon as such but he knows a thing or two about competing.  He is all about the competitive advantage.  At the IM expo, he was trying to get me to buy all sorts of gadgets from a bright pink aero helmet (not my style and thankfully not large enough for my head...) to a QR Illicito (yes, that was pretty tempting but I am also pretty sure CR had no idea how much that one would have cost).  It is actually kind of sweet, him shopping for me in this way.  In the end we settled on one thing that wasn't competitive in nature but would display the spoils of competition.  I had hoped to win one when one of you bloggers had another giveaway but after entering the giveaways for five years and not having one show up on my door, it felt like time to get a hangar for my medals.

The hangers available had anywhere from 5 to 10 pegs.  I opted for the large one not really knowing how many medals I had but figured I could double up.  I got home and pulled the medals out of the nightstand drawer.  (You see why I needed a hangar.  Finish the race, receive the medal, deposit it in the nightstand.  Sad really.)  Turns out there were a lot of them...   42 in all.  Clearly I have done a lot more racing over the last five-ish years than I remembered!

I think that is 15 half marathons, 8 full marathons, three 70.3s, three 140.6s and a handful of other races.  

As I pulled the medals out and looked at them, the memories of each one instantly came back.  As if I were looking at a photo album.  Some of the highlights:

The half marathon I ran in the snow.  Yes, it was in Georgia where we get snow one day out of the year. 

My first marathon on my 40th birthday.  Took longer than expected but loved almost every minute of it :)

The Iron distance medals.  

The hardest half iron evah.  Truly earned this one.

My first half marathon.  Can still remembering going through the finish line maze hyperventilating from excitement.  

As the medal says, my first tri.  I remember pulling in from the bike leg SO VERY EXCITED that I got it done.  The bike, that is...  considering I spent almost no time riding before the race.  CR also ever the competitive one was yelling at me to pass people as I was 100 feet from the finish.  LOL.  I did get 2nd in my AG for that one.  Maybe I needed the push :)

The unofficial Dopey!  AKA the Goofy Challenge + a 5k.  Truly exhausting simply because you have to get up so very early each morning to be at the start.  Mostly I just remember standing at the start on the final day barely able to keep my eyes open.  So proud to finish!

My Marathon PR!

Races run with friends!  The eleven with Summer was also memorable because all of the bike racks collapsed with the bikes on them causing some pre-race excitement!  I did the relay with Colleen.  Soooo very cold but loved having that experience!

The marathon in which I learned about Jeff Galloway.  After falling apart around mile 14, I came home and discovered a little thing called the run/walk which has been oh so very helpful to me ever since :)  Really great marathon if you are looking for a low key but well run event.

My second tri and the one which caused me to take a break from tris from 2008 until 2010.  It also showed me that I really needed to work on my bike skillz.   Was so happy to see CR at the finish!

My first half!  Did this with my friend, Wendy.  So very proud to finish.  Five weeks later I did my first iron distance.

...  and those are just a few of the medals that will be going on the new medal hanger.  Aren't you glad I didn't go through all 42 of them with you?  Now, we'll just have to see how long it takes me to actually hang it on the wall!