Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

REFLECTIONS FROM A ’47 ROADSTER

Posted: November 18, 2020 by coachwestbrook in Blog, Daily Runs & Reflections, Uncategorized

NOVEMBER 17, 2020 (TUESDAY)

HIGHWAYS, HILLS, HOGS AND HIPPOS

I started the morning run into a headwind coming out of the north-northwest. It’s a common weather characteristic in the northwest corner of Georgia in the fall of the year. I ran north on U.S. 27 highway before turning west. The U.S. 27 highway was like a big wind tunnel with the wind barrelling down on me pushing me back. But, I soldiered on…slowly but surely.

Turning west on a side road, I ran into farm land and headed for a series of hills. The wind was then coming at me from my right and bashing my right side off and on. I approached the hills with different attitudes and different speeds. Some of the hills were short and steep. Others were longer and gradual. I don’t know which was worse. I do know that I felt pretty tired as I crested each type of hill. Which was worse? I still dunno.

A common occurance came up. I had to “pee.” I was now along side farms nestled in the hills. And, I knew just where to take my bladder break. There was ramshackle shed ahead in the upcoming curve. I would dip in there for relief as I had done before.

Whoa! My relief plans were to be delayed. The aforementioned shed that I had used before was now fenced up and had hogs all over the place. Grunting, groaning, mashing in the mud, and munching corn. So, my relief came after about an eighth of a mile behind some bushes.

I could still smell the hogs.

On I ran headed around toward the golf course. It was a pleasant stretch with only three houses along the road. While approaching the last house, I spied a child’s coloring book on the road…which was a little unusual in this area.

The coloring book was named “MY FRIEND HIPPO,” and was full of hippo pictures. I had tussled the book with my foot opening it to the various pages. I saw that all the hippos were colored…each one a different color…blue, pink, red, yellow, purple, black, green, orange, and some colors I couldn’t name. And, some were a rainbow of colors. You had never seen hippos like these! But, the child that colored them had seen them in his or her imagination. Such is the wonder of a child!

And, I thought about that as I ran back into the town of Trion. Truly, imagination is a wonderful and miraculous characteristic of humans. I can picture a little girl with her mind adrift seriously coloring the hippos.

It was a great day under bright blue skies and brisk air. The run was good…but, I am still sooo slow.

(Richard Westbrook)

AUTHOR: Adharanand Finn
PUBISHER / DATE: Pegasus Books / 2015

REPORT:

Since the glory days in the 1980s of the Japanese runner, Toshihiko Seko, and his extreme training for the marathon, I’ve been a fan of his and was eager to find out more about Japanese distance running. Seko held numerous world records and had a marathon best of 2:08:27 at the Chicago Marathon in 1986. He won the Boston Marathon in 1987 with 2:11:50. From 1978 to 1988, he won 10 major marathons and was second at Boston in 1979. It was evident that distance running in Japan was big, and Japanese distance runners have been running big ever since.

This book gives a good picture of Japanese distance running. It tells us of a way of life in which distance running is a major part of the culture. This is reflected in the country’s biggest sporting event which is the Ekiden, a 135-mile relay which is run annually. It is filled with thousands of professional runners representing corporate teams. It is a major spectator event each year.

The marathon monks do their thing apart from the Ekiden. All they do is run a thousand marthons in a thousand days. This is not a race. It is to find spiritual enlightenment, and they usually run in complete solitude.

The author, Adharanand Finn, is a runner and author who spent six months in the Japanese running culture finding out about the sport and the country. This work tells us of the teamwork, competition, preparation, diet, form, attitude, dedication, racing, youth running, training, and a culture and a way of life.

Finn informs the reader about the intricacies and the mind-meld of running in Japan. He has lived and obviously completely researched the project. His writing reflects humor, wisdom, the art of story telling, and the delving into the psyche of Japanese distance running and its bonding of its runners.

This is a book of which a serious (or not so serious) runner can learn more about his or her own running.

It is an interesting and a well written and enjoyable book.

(Richard Westbrook) (Nov. 5, 2020)

COURAGE OF THEIR CONVICTIONS

Posted: October 30, 2020 by coachwestbrook in Uncategorized

It was an overcast day in northwest Georgia. The event was a high school region cross-country meet for the smallest school division in the state. Nine schools were represented although not all nine schools fielded a full team of at least five runners.

The runners were in grades nine through twelve, freshmen through seniors. The meet held a varsity girls race and a varsity boys race. After those races, a combined girls and boys junior varsity race was held. But, the meat of the meet was the varsity race in which the top four teams and top six individuals, irregardless of their team’s finishing place, qualified for the state meet in early November.

The course was a 5000 meter distance at Georgia Highlands College and good for the spectators to see most of the race. But, the general level of excitement in the runners seemed to be mired down a bit. Perhaps, it was because it was a weekday meet compared to the usual Saturday competitions. There was little evidence of runners “warming up” for the races. They walked to the starting line as if they were going to be punished.

Where were the warm-up accelerations from the starting line to get the blood into the working muscles? Where were the verbal encouragements and support to teammates immediately before the start? Where was the nervous fidgeting, jumping, stretching, drill movements by the runners that usually happens before the starter calls the runners to the starting line????

Nowhere.

The runners were there, albeit in a quiet and repressed mood, and this complacent cloud seemed to hover over the parents and spectators also. But, the meet was about to start with the starter announcing the starting procedures to the runners on the line. He spoke, they listened while standing still and quiet…not jumping, bouncing, running in place.

I scanned the starting line to see which runners seemed ready to race. The different body shapes gave a realistic clue. The appearance of smooth running musculature told a story that the upcoming race would not go well. But, there were runners interspersed on the line with defined leg muscles that were carved by miles upon miles and interval training. Thin bodies were spread throughout the teams, but all body types were represented at the line. How they would do in the race would soon be determined. It would be strongly influenced by their off-season and seasonal training. The real runners would soon become evident.

The others…they would run to survive the ordeal. Some would start too fast because they did not have the proper preparation specifically for that purpose. Some would finish with an exceptional and long “kick” to the finish line perhaps picking up a place or two only because their pace in the previous miles was too slow. They had too much left at the end and, usually, they were too far back in the order of finish.

Overweight runners would find themselves at a slow jog or, perhaps, walking certain parts of the course as would those runners with very little training up to this date. They were scattered throughout most of the teams. Their fitness level would betray them.

Those who had laid down the off-season miles, had disciplined themselves to morning runs, had not experienced “off” days in the season, had enough mileage to support the pace of the race from start to finish…those runners had a better race day that may have included a course PR or a better tactical race. They were THE cross-country runners.

Tall, short, thick, thin, muscularly defined, smooth. That was the appearance of all the runners combined. But, as young runners tend to do, they gave their all in trying to do their best.

They had the courage of their convictions, even if their training didn’t quite measure up to those convictions. They had courage under fatigue…when everything in their immediate world was telling them to slow down, let that runner go, just make it to the finish line, just get this over with for the day.

But, they kept pushing even when they were out-of-sight on the other side of the lake and behind the trees…out-of-sight of the coaches and mom and dad. They kept trying to make themselves a better version of themselves and, thus, a better person. Most succeeded. Some did not. Those successful runners extended their season into November at the State Meet, the “should be” goal of the runners.

Will they be ready for the State Meet? What was learned from this season? What has to be done to make themselves a better runner? What does the individual have to do to make his or her team stronger?

On a cross-country course in northwest Georgia, the answers were found somewhere in those miles. Those smart runners who were serious enough about their running found those answers and will lock them in their minds and hearts in order to be a better runner and person in the future. They will run and run and run. That would be dedication to a goal…the essence of a runner.

How much better? Only the heart and mind can determine that.

(Richard Westbrook)

(Oct. 30, 2020)

84 HOUR UPDATE

Posted: July 12, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Uncategorized

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RICHARD WESTBROOK, SOMEWHERE AROUND GLEASON. (PHOTO COURTESY OF KIM MONTGOMERY).

A total of 14 runner’s have quit the race, leaving a remainder of 52 on the road. Currently, Westbrook is over halfway at 160 miles. After 84 hours into the race, he has moved into 14th place in the screwed category.

One night he was having trouble finding anything open for food, all he had was a Snickers bar and a drink. The following day around noon he got a chance to eat at Burger King. RW and a group came upon a familiar campground where, in the past years, the owner welcomed them to relax and get fed. This year, a new owner is running the campground and would not let the runner’s on the property even to buy a drink out of the machine. What an arse!!!

Tonight, he is on the search for sustenance once again. Hopefully, he finds something open or a well timed Road Angel along the way. He definitely needs the fuel to keep on through the next half of the race.

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RICHARD WESTBROOK AND KAREN JACKSON, TURNING IN TO TAKE A BREAK. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PAM PRATT).

48 HOUR UPDATE

Posted: July 11, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Uncategorized

Just past Darden, 26th place overall, at 103 miles, RW is 21st in the screwed division. He is the second to oldest competitor in the race. There is an 82 year old man from Arizona, a 71 year old man from Florida, and a 68 year old man from Tennessee. The rest of the folks are 65 and younger, predominantly 40’s with some 50’s sprinkled in there.

RICHARD WESTBROOK AT 103 MILES, PAST DARDEN, 48 HOUR UPDATE

THE ROAD

Posted: July 2, 2019 by coachwestbrook in Uncategorized

THE ROAD

A Vol State Pre-Race Report 2019

    The road is waiting. It is out there after cooling through the night. Now, it is warming in the morning sun. Later, it will be baking in the hot sun and giving off heat waves that will curl images on the horizon. It will be yearning for the cool of the evening and the sweetness of the night.             

And, on that road is the runner trekking through the 2019 version of the Last Annual Vol State Road Race. That runner is full of hope, expectations, self-promises, determination, sense of adventure, and no matter how many other runners are with him or her…a sense of solitude. And, all that is wrapped up in a bundle of self-doubt. Doubt about the training, about equipment, about pace, about nourishment, about rest. To tie it all up, that bundle is bound up with some amount of fear. But, the runner still smiles, jokes around with race mates, tells stories, listens to stories because it is all normal for Vol State. The runner? Maybe, not so normal.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Off the ferry, Hickman, Kentucky greets the runner with some pretty steep hills. Most runners will walk these and start running seriously on the other side of town. Then, the landscape levels off and surrounds the runner with pretty farm land that leads into Union City.                                              

In the mind of most of the runners, the race doesn’t really start until Union City is left behind. The town is a huge aid station that gets the runner on down the road. It is a scenic trek from there to Martin where a splash pad can refresh the runner with some cold water springing from the park surface.  Now, the race (or trek) has really started.                                                                                                                                                               

As each foot strike sends shock waves through the body, the runner’s head is bouncing details about the immediate future hours off the walls of the skull. Details concerning food, energy expenditure, fluids, places to rest, motels, convenience stores, darkness, to be invisible or visible in that darkness, chafing, bugs, sunburn, traffic, the day’s goal, to run with others or run alone, heat, humidity, rain, not forgetting to check in, phone charged, sleep, miles ran and miles to run are bouncing around inside of the skull. Yep, that’s the pinging you feel in your head and can’t figure out from where it is coming.                                                                                                                                   

The landscape gently rolls as the runners runs deeper into northwest Tennessee. Farm land still dominates the roadside. The picturesque town of Dresden greets the runner with an aid station and rest area. But, the runner has to decide to rest or move along down the road. A compromise is made, and after some refreshment, the runner is on the road again.                                                                                                                                                                                          And so it goes. The road offers darkness where the runner hears frogs bellowing and sounding eerily like a human voice in the wooded darkness. The black sky may delight the roadster with bright pin points of light and an occasional shooting star. Possibly, the moon will bathe the road in a soft glow. It can be strangely peaceful.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The runner will pass through the cooler air of night and the promise of morning as the miles pass. The day will bring heat, odors, traffic, and some “road angels” here and there. Those angels will give the runner a restful respite and some refreshment to energize the physical and bolster the belief in human goodness.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    After Dresden the runner will trek into the small town of Gleason with its welcomed aid station at the firehouse. Leaving Gleason, the runner will head south along the old version of state road 22 that parallels the newer version somewhere off to the left. Both will merge on the other side of McKenzie, a larger small town. Then Huntington, Clarksburg, and I-40 at Parkers Crossroads. Some will seek refuge in a motel at this point. Other will relentlessly move on toward Lexington and the big left turn onto US 412. Then things get interesting.                                                                                                                                                                                       After this many miles, approximately ninety-four, a pattern will have been set by the runner as to running, walking and taking breaks and sleeping. The pattern may last for a good distance or may be abandoned for an adaptation. Patterns come and go depending on the various elements of the race…such as fatigue, weather, and fuel. And, the mental state of the runner will determine his or her immediate future for the still long road ahead.                                                                                                                                                                                              Passing through the wide spots of Chesterfield and Darden, it’s straight into Parsons with its Sonic awaiting. Then, in my opinion (which is usually of no importance to anyone) is the worst stretch of the race. That is from Parsons to the Tennessee River. Rolling hills; hardly any shoulder to run on make this stretch a dismal one. Plus the on coming traffic and heat (when I usually get there) add to the challenge. Ah…Vol State! You gotta love it!                                                                                                                                                                                                    Aid awaits on the other side of the river at Fat Man’s. After that, there are still some rolling hills leading into Linden, but this stretch isn’t as bad as Parson to the river so it offers some respite. Linden will be a welcomed temporary destination.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And, the road keeps calling through heat, sunburn, hills, fatigue and other maladies. Through Hohenwald with motels and stores, Hampshire with its deli, and the big town of Columbia with everything. Culleoka, I-65, and another big town of Lewisburg, also with everything. After that, Wheel with a pavilion shade and water and then Bedford with its market and onto the next major oasis of Shelbyville.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The runner is really into the race after 225 miles. The runner can smell the finish line from here. The terrain is more forgiving, but the miles still stretch out there…waiting…and waiting. An open stretch of road leads the runner into Wartrace, home of the classic Strolling Jim ultra. It is very picturesque leaving Wartrace heading into Manchester. Manchester will give the runner a lot of aid opportunities. Also, the odor of the finish line will get stronger.                                                                                                                                                                                          Once past I-24 on the other side of Manchester, the runner will be in the most and scenic and enjoyable part of the route (in my opinion, about which I’ve told you) as he or she treks through tiny Hillsboro, Pelham and up the mountain into Monteagle. In Monteagle and somewhat after that, aid is available. The course is enjoyable traipsing along the spine of the mountain into Tracy City and beyond, and “beyond” has a store serving burgers and such. It will be America at its best, and it is out there on the back roads and small towns.                                                                                                                                                                                      The runner knows he or she is going to make it to the Rock at this point barring unforeseen calamity. It’s down the long, challenging grade to Steve Smalling of the Chattanooga Track Club and his aid station. That aid station alone can get the runner to the Rock. This is the outskirts of Jasper with the mountain behind. Ah, so close. But, not there yet.                                                                                                                                                                                              Kimball, South Pittsburg, and the blue bridge crossing the Tennessee River the last time tells the runner that there are about eleven miles left. A piece of cake…as the runner passes through New Hope headed for the right turn that leads into Alabama…and a helluva hill going up and up and up looking for that state line. It’s about three miles in the upward plane. The runner will run, walk, stop, run again knowing the finish is near. Then, a left turn and straight into Georgia.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               It doesn’t matter what place the runner is in at this point. What really matters is the questions that kept popping up in the runner’s mind as he accepted the ongoing challenge of the distance. Footstep after footstep brings the reality of accomplishing the deed into focus. The mental focus on the simplicity of the run is gaining importance. Daily details fade in the last strides up the mountain and into the corn fields and give way to the human animal doing what he or she was meant to do. Run.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That will be Vol State…if one doesn’t die (or worse…just give up and quit) somewhere between the Mississippi River in Missouri and Castle Rock in Georgia.

Richard Westbrook                                                                                                  westbrookrunning.com

REFLECTIONS FROM A ’47 ROADSTER

Posted: January 3, 2019 by coachwestbrook in Uncategorized
JANUARY 2, 2019 (WEDNESDAY)

This is probably hard to believe for some (or most) of the people who know me, but the fact is…for most of my runs in which 99.9 percent are run alone (which I prefer), I talk to God.  I assume he hears me, but I don’t know for sure.  I would like to say that I have a conversation with God, but I don’t think he talks back to me.  I’m not real sure about that either.  I have thoughts darting into my head, and that may be God talking to me.  I just don’t know.  If it is God, it can get pretty interesting. 

My runs lately are slightly different.  Now, not only do I talk to God, but I talk to my son, Casey.  I share his humor, we share memories.  I tell him how much I love him.  I tell him how proud I am of his good heart, his intelligence, his curiosity. his creativity, his passion for his art, his love for his family…especially for his mother and especially for his daughter, Sera.

Today was Casey’s birthday.  Casey is walking with God.  I’ll see you later, son.

 

  

 

 

 

 

Race report: CTC Locomotion 12-Hour Run, April 14, 2018

    This was my third year of running the Chattanooga Track Club’s Locomotion 12-Hour Run.  It was my second year of running less miles than the previous year.  My first year and the first year of the race, 2016, I ran 56 miles in 12 hours.  The second year, 2017, I ran 48 miles.  This year, 2018, I ran 47.25 miles.

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“Things got bad and things got worse…”

                                                                             Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lodi

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    Because of an injury incurred in last summer’s Last Annual Vol-State Road Race, I have muddled through diagnosis, rehab, and recovery over a period of time in which I could only run a mile each day until I was back to being close to normal.  That caused me to miss A Race For The Ages (ARFTA), one of my favorite events along with Vol-State.  I was “that old man jogging in the neighborhood” from late July through early January.

    I was using this race to help me prepare for this summer’s Last Annual Vol-State Road Race in July.  My goal in this race was to run as steadily as I could with no great concern to my pace.  Effort was my prime objective.  I wanted to start at a comfortable effort and feel confident of taking that “whatever” pace late into the race.  A weak strategy nestled in my mind was that most of the runners would start too fast for the distance and slow down a lot in the second six hours.  Then, I would come plodding along and overtake some of those “too eager” runners with a “too fast” pace.  Because of fatigue, they would be slowing down to my pace which would be dictated by my effort.  I would feel better in the last six hours and be able to leave some of those runners in my dust…which, as it turned out, would be mud.

    Well, the first problem was that the race moved from Camp Jordan in East Ridge, Tennessee to Greenway Farms in Hixson, Tennessee.  This was not a good move.  It changed from a multi-use path to a trail through the woods with some pavement and gravel thrown in the mix.  And, mud.

    The second problem was that the trail turned to mud (have I mention mud?) and miniature ponds when the rains came.  My running, as slow as it was, became an effort to keep from slipping into a partial or full blown fall into the mud.  The good thing was that I didn’t fall until my last loop, and that was in the last half-mile.

    The third problem was that my effort became harder because of that muddy, slippery surface.  It took a harder effort just to maintain running form and stay vertical.  All that led to more fatigue in the last six hours than I had planned.  That destroyed my strategy of catching anyone who started a lot faster, and that was just about everyone.  That’s not the first time (and probably won’t be the last) that my strategy was bogged into oblivion.  

    The fourth problem was that I am just slow.  I’ve heard that “slow is the new fast.”  Well, I’m still trying to figure that one out.

    I was the oldest runner in the 12-hour or the 6-hour individual races.  It has been said that with age comes wisdom.  If that is so, then why was I the oldest one running and my age-group peers chose not to run?

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“I do not choose to run.”

                                                                              Herbert Hoover, 30th President of the U.S.A

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The answer is obvious.  They are wise.  I am ________________ (fill in the blank).

    In such an event as this in which the runners run the same, rather short loop repeatedly, a runner can set up camp right beside the course and handle aid all on his or her own.  But, a crew helps immensely and clears the runner’s mind of details and confusion that invariably creep in the mind as the miles increase.  Aid can be dispensed without the runner stopping and preparing it.  Splits can be recorded.  Garments according to the weather can be more easily added or dispensed with during the run.

    I was helped by my crackerjack crew of two.  My daughter, Season, and granddaughter, Braylee (aka “Rainbow”), were right on top of the duties.  Actually, Rainbow was on top of playing in the area and in the rain and water…as a four-year old should be.  With Season’s help, all I had to concern myself with was deciding on what fluids or food to take from her.  She would then take my order and run ahead to prepare it and then run it to me if it wasn’t ready when I passed our camp.  She also recorded my splits…all the while, taking care of her four-year old wild child.  She recruited her friend, Wendell, to help, and he brought in a much appreciated milkshake late in the race.  A crew like this helps erase the negatives that a race, a venue, the weather can conjure up and in so doing, make things a lot better.  It is a lot easier on my mind when she is crewing.

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Rainbow…having more fun than I was having…

    To close this up…I finished in 10th place overall out of 30 finishers.  That was good enough to place as the first Male Grandmaster and snag the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) State Cross Country Championship for Tennessee for my age-group.  And, I feel lucky to accomplish that.  It made up somewhat for the rain and mud.

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“Seldom do serious ultrarunners alter their plans because of the weather.”

                                                   Tom Foreman, Journalist, My Year of Living Dangerously

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 Richard Westbrook

REFLECTIONS FROM A ’47 ROADSTER

Posted: April 3, 2018 by coachwestbrook in Daily Runs & Reflections, Uncategorized
APRIL 2, 2018 (MONDAY)

Today, I was running on the Silver Comet Trail starting at mile “0” in Smyrna.  Unlike the weekend, the SCT was sparse with people. So for me, that made my run that much better.  I like running alone.  That’s probably because I’m too slow to keep up with other runners…which would put me in solitude anyway.  So, I might as well like it.

A full promise of spring was evident on the trail with blooms and green bursting out all over.  Birds were evident represented by a lot of cardinals and sparrows.  A lone hawk flew about six feet over my head and across the trail to perch high on a tree and, I’m sure, was looking for prey.

My run was enjoyable on the multi-use trail which is one of my favorite sites at which to run.  I ran steadily with a goal of 12 miles but felt so good that I extended it to 15 miles.  There were a lot more cyclists than runners on the trail, but even with that, they were few and far between.

My only problem was that the water fountains at the start and at the 4.2 mile point were not working.  But, it was a small problem and didn’t change my run in any way.  Slow is slow any way you look at it.

It was the first day this year that I ran in a singlet.  The sun felt good and not hot on my skin.  Everything (except water fountains) worked out well to make it a memorable day of running at a great site for running. 

READY FOR THE “HOT PURSUIT GLOW RUN 1 MILE” IN GADSDEN, ALABAMA

BRAYLEE (AKA “RAINBOW”) IN THE LAST HALF OF THE RACE.

KICKING IN TO THE FINISH LEAVING MOM BEHIND…that’s me in the orange shirt…way behind.

THE MEDAL.

MOM AND DAUGHTER AFTER THE RACE.

FACE PAINTED AFTER THE RACE

 

DITTO.

RAINBOW ‘N ME AFTER THE RACE.