It’s all about the Tater-Tots

Last Thursday Evening I went to a local bookstore to hear Dean Karnazes, the Ultra-Marathon Man * speak. He is a local guy so there were quite a few people there, probably 25 which is pretty good for a book reading.

The guy is about the most humble, unassuming person in the world. He is not very big and he had on long pants but you could tell his limbs were ridges of muscle that looked like the branches of a Manzanita tree, hard and smooth and strong.

He talked about how people ask him ‘how do you do it’ to which he responded ‘you just tilt your body forward, put your arms in this position and put one foot in front of the other – over and over. He said people ask him, “why do you do it” to which he responded, “Well, I like the free Power Bars and t-shirts”. Ha ha – he didn’t fool me and I immediately started storing up questions for the inevitable Q & A period.

Then, as he was telling a story about running at night a couple of guys walked in, late. One had on a Western States 100 t-shirt and the other was a scruffy, gum chewing guy who looked like he might have just wandered away from Sing-Sing. Dean inclined his head in a sort of “Hey I know you” way and instead of entering quietly and sitting down they went over to him, shook hands, gave their names and reminded him of what races they had been in together. I was a little stunned by their rudeness and Dean was a bit thrown off but finally they sat down and he got back to the story and the evening went on.

In addition to running 1000s of miles a year, often 200 miles at a clip, he is founder and president of a company that makes relatively healthy snack foods. They make Olive Oil potato chips and peanut butter stuffed pretzels among other things. The business is growning because they sell to Trader Joe and Whole Foods and both of those companies are growing. He says he wants to put himself out of a job because he doesn’t do anything but his employees won’t let him. I can believe it – he’d be a great person to have around.

Anyhow, after he was done it was Q & A time and I worked really hard not to monopolize the session. I told him I thought it was oh so amusing about the PowerBars and the T-shirts but really, you must suffer pain several times an event – how do you get through that? He said he just embraces the pain – “bring it on, baby!” and he just pushes through. He just does. I’m taking that strategy to heart because I did have that experience on my long bike ride.

My favorite thing was how he eats when he is out running at night. He says he calls a pizza place, tells them about where he will be in 20 minutes and the delivery guy just finds him. He always orders a large pizza NOT cut into slices and when it comes he rolls it up like a burrito and “just mows it” while he continues running. How great an image is that?

After Q & A time it was book signing time. The 2 Rude Dudes went right up and starting shucking and jiving with him, leaving about 15 people just standing there waiting for about 10 minutes. Honestly, these guys need to get a clue. In the course of their conversation they talked about how they had heard him say that before an endurance event you should eat a lot of fat so the night before their last Ultra-marathon they ate bacon and ham and sausage and eggs and they had a great run. I stood there wondering what would I do – I don’t eat terristrial animals. I figured I could come up with something.

Friday the kidlet and I went down to San Diego as noted in my last post. While we were looking at the college she will be going to I saw some girls walking back from the dining hall carrying bowls full of Tater-Tots. I turned to Pookie and said, “watch out for those Tater-Tots. That’s how the dreaded Freshman 15 happens.” She took note. But then in a flash I got it. Before my long runs I’m going to switch from loading up on spaghetti to eating Tater-Tots – YES! I love Tater-tots but I never eat them because, you know… the Freshman 15 doesn’t just afflict freshmen.

All about me
Tonight I had an amazing run. I went 8 miles in 1:26 for an average pace of 10:46/mile. That’s really good for me over distance, particularly since I have just started training. Best of all my splits were:
10:20, 10:17, 10:43, 10:49, 11:19, 10:12, 10:31, 11:56.

I can’t even tell you how pleased I am with miles 6 and 7. Yeah me! I was working hard on that last mile but I was just out of gas and even walked about 30 steps. See, I had been meaning to run all day so I kept not really eating and I was just under fueled and really hungry. I’ll bet it would have gone better if I had Tater-Tot loaded. Next time I go for a long one that’s just what I’ll do.

Additional tips from Dean:
1). To avoid losing your toe nails he reccomends those insoles that you bake in the oven and then mold to your feet. He thinks it keeps your foot from slipping forward which is what causes your toe nails to bang repeatedly against the inside of your shoe and get peeled back from the nail bed. He actually has a few toenails still and considering his milage I think that’s impressive.

2). The day after you run an endurance event go out and do a little running. He says even if you have to hobble for 2 miles do it – you will recover faster. I have certainly not tried that but I will this training season.

* You can watch Karnazes appearance on David Letterman here. Letterman asked a lot of the same questions I asked and he got exactly the same answers.

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