Marathon: A Mosaic of World’s Runners

Posted on 05. May, 2002 by in press

JONATHAN BEVERLY

presented by Elaine Doll-Dunn

An eagerly awaited arrival at our house is the Running Times, a top-notch running magazine replete with great articles, timely training tips, race schedules, and recent race results. But what do I look for first? The editorial message from runner/editor Jonathan Beverly. A lyrical writer, his picturesque prose enlightens and brightens the page… a seductive lead-in to the literary offerings of this captivating magazine.

Succinct quotes borrowed from Jonathan grace the pages of my own book.

Examples:

“Only humans will risk our lives solely for the sake of risking them, to prove to ourselves and others that we can and will.”

“The marathon presents itself as such an inspiration, for unlike life, it is both

simple and grand.”

Or this; “The setting at the base of a fjord was painfully beautiful – it caused an ache deep in my chest, maybe because I’d catch myself not breathing.” (Thoughts as he ran the Midnight Sun marathon in Tromso, Norway.)

Editor in Chief of Running Times, Jonathan Beverly recently turned 40 and will be in South Dakota competing in the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon to test himself against time, terrain, and tenacity. Following is his response to my quest for information; I can’t but share it just as he wrote it. I invite you to run with Jonathan; it’s a joyful journey. – Elaine Doll-Dunn

I chose Deadwood as my first masters marathon for several reasons: 1) I live in western Nebraska now (since fall 2001), on the Colorado border: 10 miles from town, 4 miles from a paved road. All my training is on dirt roads and trails — this means that it would not only be very difficult to train well for a road marathon, but I have little interest in doing so. I moved from New York City to reconnect with the natural world I knew as a youth growing up in rural Maine, and to let my son know that world. The Mickelson trail appealed to me as an appropriate setting for a place that I can run well AND enjoy the beauty of the west. Pictures from the trail remind me of Acadia National Park’s carriage trails– to date the best running venue I’ve ever discovered.

Turning 40 has given me the motivation (and my son turning 3 has given me the time) to train near the level I did in the mid 1990′s when I ran a 2:49 (1997 Jersey Shore – 4th place) and a 2:46 (1998 Pittsburgh). Seeing the course record at 2:52 inspired me to set that as my “ideal” goal, although I will be thrilled to run under 3 hours again — something I haven’t done since Boston 2000, the week before I took over as editor of Running Times.

The marathon isn’t 26.2 miles long — it covers thousands of miles over the course of months and years. This one started in spring 2002, soon after we moved into our house that we spent 6 months renovating after we moved to NE. I started training for the November 2002 NYCM, and rebuilt a base that had all but disappeared with the demands of the job, the birth of our son (4/4/01) and the house renovations. As it turns out, I aimed too high in that race, and the cement of the city defeated me after months of training on trails, but the training base carried on. In April 2003 I ran my first trail marathon — the Rockin’ K in central Kansas, which is REAL trails — up and down canyons, through sand, multiple stream crossings, rocky escarpment climbs… Oh, and more than a mile too long, just for fun. I finished 2nd, a real confidence booster, although I couldn’t compare my time to anything I’d run before.

Summer 2003 I was supposed to be training for the Maui marathon, but was lethargic and achy all the time… eventually discovering I likely had West Nile Virus. I ran Maui anyway, taking it really easy, and just missed a Boston qualifying time with a 3:23. Soon after, I set Deadwood as my goal to be back in real shape, and started putting on steady miles — 40-60/week. I had hoped to build to 70/week during the winter, but found that I couldn’t do that and keep up with work, community (helping coach the local high school team), and the level of involvement with my family that I wished, and do this (as much because of the mental energy it takes, and the residual fatigue, as the actual running time), so I made peace with the 40-60/week, which is still the level I was running when I ran near 2:50 (2:52 and 2:51 in 1995).

Editorial commitments took me to Houston in January, and I was pleasantly surprised to run under my “ideal” goal of 3:10, finishing in 3:08 with an “easy” effort. This spring has seen me able to put in nearly all of my goal distance and workouts (I do speed work with the high school track team, which keeps me both young and motivated). As is often the case, the better shape I get, and the more runs, the more important they become and the less important the marathon goals become (not that I don’t still obsess over those, calculating paces and “equivalents” from tune up race, worrying about details like pace adjustments for the slope of the course, what shoes to wear, what gel to carry, what to eat the morning of the race… practicing fast downhill running on fatigued legs…on and on).

But, regardless of what happens on June 6, I’ll still have, for example, the Sunday morning long run a couple weeks ago. I started at 4:15 a.m., my headlamp supplementing the light from the setting moon as I headed west the first mile on the narrow county dirt road. Turning north into a headwind, I passed our nearest neighbors houses (1.5 miles, 3 miles and 4 miles), waking their dogs but seeing no lights — and feeling the moral superiority of being out and active while others sleep. The light was beginning to grow after 5 miles, and several horses appeared out of the gloom in the pasture on the right to run along side me for half a mile. By the time I reached the county line, 10 miles from home, the sun had just peaked over the sand hills to the east. I headed toward them along the rolling county line road, picking up the pace to make it home by my promised 7:00 a.m. — I always tend to underestimate the slower pace of night time running. When I reached the turn onto the trail road heading back home — 8 miles of single track, with 1 mile of open prairie between trail roads and at least four fence crossings — I had one hour left. With the sun rising to the left, painting the early morning sky orange and silhouetting the windmills on the sand hills, coyotes calling, and my legs clicking, I flew home. At 4.5 miles to go I had 30 minutes, and my legs were tiring. I told myself to relax, forget about time… at worst I’d be 5 minutes “late.” My legs sped up. Jumping the last fence and rounding the last windmill, I arrived at the top of the hill looking down at our house and barn 1 mile away — with still 8 minutes to spare. I told myself to run marathon pace for the steep half mile downhill: my watch read 2:55 when I clicked it and slowed down for the final, celebratory half mile.

Or, the Wednesday afternoon speed workout, doing miles on the track, where I ran away from all 16 year olds, feeling 16 myself as I rounded the all-weather track, my legs remembering and taking my mind back to similar workouts on the cinder oval on the hill above the high school in Bucksport, Maine.

So, I’m really looking forward to the run in June. Yes, it will be a race — a test of fitness and endurance. But more, it will be a celebration of six months, make that two years, of discipline, growing strength, strong, joyful runs, and youthful strength, even at 40.

Well, I wrote more than I intended. Thanks for asking, Jonathan.

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