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FEATURES

Written features from the writers of CITIUS MAG

June 24, 2018

Western States 100

A trip to the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to Auburn in California. An ultimate test of limits for runners.

June 20, 2018

What Did The Division II Experience Mean To Me? (An Essay by David Ribich)

David Ribich looks back at his time competing for Western Oregon on the Division II scene and how dreams are greater than any label put on a group.

June 17, 2018

Me and My Dad (An Essay By Trevor Dunbar)

How a trip to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials with his father, Marcus, helped open a young Trevor Dunbar’s eyes to the sport.

June 15, 2018

A Morning with Lazarus Lake

Jesse Squire took the time to join Lazarus Lake, on his walk across the entire country. Lake is best known as the founder of the Barkley Marathons.

May 30, 2018

‘The Perfect Mile’ and The Struggle for Personal, Ambitious Progress

Patrick Gibson gives a look into Neal Bascomb’s book ‘The Perfect Mile’ and why it tells a story greater than just the quest for the first sub-four mile.

May 22, 2018

Adhering to the Words of Oprah

When I stumbled upon a photo on Instagram, I quickly realized that I didn’t choose the marathon; the marathon chose me. So I ran Boston.

May 21, 2018

The Case for a Los Angeles Strand Mile

I wish there was a beach mile road race in the South Bay area of Los Angeles – a mile running south on The Strand ending at the Manhattan Beach Pier.

May 20, 2018

The Diary From a Disciple of the Church of the Sunday Long Run

7:00 AM Ah! At last! Sunday. Our day of truest worship. The day that, many moons ago, our great leader decreed: “Ye shall run Long once a week and ye shall wait until the finalest day to do doth deed. Also, if ye run Long whilst enrolled in Academia, ye shall be hungest over.”

While my body is slowly waking up, my spirit lags behind. My corporeal existence craves its most basic needs: banana, peanut butter, coffee, and toilet.

7:30 AM – The service has officially begun! The foam roller has been placed on my molding yoga mat and I begin my elaborate, practiced routine of pretending to roll out calves, quads, and back.

I mainly just look at my phone.

7:45 AM – I grab my holy Maurten water bottle and a host of essential energy bars for the post-Church of the Sunday Long Run protein window before heading to my car to pick up fellow worshippers.

We listen to Chance the Rapper’s ‘Blessings’ for our short drive to the trailhead. We are – indeed – staying ready for our blessing.

7:56 AM – I begin to sync my Garmin, readying it for the hill and dale that lie ahead.

8:01 AM – THIS GOD DAMN THING WON’T SYNC

8:04 AM – Myself and six other disciples of the Church of the Sunday Long Run take our first steps towards salvation.

8:10 AM – Seeds of initial mistrust have been sewn in the group as Lucas has told us he plans on running 70 minutes.

70 minutes is no long run.

8:17 AM – Lucas’ fall from grace has been all but forgotten as Skylar begins to break the covenant with a sub 7-minute mile far too early in the service.

I cannot help but believe I am surrounded by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

8:25 AM – Sweet respite as we pause to toilet ourselves.

8:35 AM – It is usually around this part of the service where I unleash a demonic oath to never attend another gathering while denouncing this religion in whole. But, for whatever reason, today I was struck by epiphany.

“My friends. What if we honored Sunday as a day of rest?”

“But Sundays are not for rest.”

“But they could be.”

“No. No they could not be. Our great leader decreed it so.”

“What if he was wrong?”

I fear I have paved my path to martyrdom.

8:37 AM – My epiphany fails to create any sort of constructive discourse amongst my fellow disciples, instead they try their best to drop me from the group by increasing the pace.

I take each blow with grace, not speaking but answering with a surge of energy. I refuse for my heresy to die an easy death. 

8:39 AM – Lucas turns and leaves the group.

There is no question in my mind our leader will smite the very earth he runs back to his car. We will never see Lucas again. 

8:45 AM – I find Lucas’ decision to not run a true long run today, on our day of worship, particularly troubling. Not only for himself and his soul, but for myself and my epiphany.

Lucas’ actions, albeit vile, might give credence to my thoughts of conducting our weekly service on, for example, Saturday.

9:15 AM – After spending the last 30 minutes in deep thought, invoking our deepest beliefs, I speak:

“Next Saturday, I will be conducting my worship at the Church of the Saturday Long Run. You are all welcome to join, as is anyone from any other creed. I will be reaching out to our friends at the Church of the Saturday is an Off Day, at the Church of Friday is Speed Day, and, of course, our fellow believers at the Church of the Vaporfly 4%.”

“You can’t do that. That is illegal.”

“There is no way that is illegal.”

“I promise you I will call the police on you.”

“Why”

“DEICIDE”

Skylar is an idiot.

9:45 AM – I have decided to abscond the Church of the Sunday Long Run with a great hope to form the Church of the Long Run. A place where all distances can be run on all days without judgement, nor malice. We will not tack our existence to one day in the week, rather will find peace in our body of work throughout the week.

I deeply hope Lucas is alive. Lucas clearly understands. Lucas will be my first disciple.

 

May 9, 2018

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

If you can find an individual sport in this country with wide adult participation, you can find team-based leagues for it. It’s time for road racing.

May 7, 2018

Track on the Road: The Final Stretch

Andrew Wise wraps up his post-collegiate trip with a recap of how his two races played out after spending several weeks living out of a van.

May 4, 2018

A Deep Dive Into Spotify’s Running Playlists

There are 18 different Spotify-sponsored running playlists and our very own Patrick Gibson listened to a lot of them to review the song choices.

April 19, 2018

Once a Runner: Unpacking The Classic Running Book By John L. Parker

Patrick Gibson takes a deep dive into the classic John L. Parker novel ‘Once A Runner’ and what makes it so successful among runners.

April 18, 2018

Track on the Road: Discovering The Vastness Of The Sport

An update from Andrew Wise and his travels with his girlfriend as they live life out of a van and continue their post-collegiate pursuit of personal bests.

April 10, 2018

Winners and Losers: An Investigation Into A Winning Mentality

In the sporting world there are winners and there are losers. But I’m talking about a more generalized notion of winner and loser

April 5, 2018

Track On The Road: Post-Collegiate Wanderers Chase Times From A Van On The West Coast

Andrew Wise wrapped up his college career at Western Washington. He’s got a job after college but now he’s living out of a van to chase personal bests.

April 3, 2018

The Speed Project 2018: A Photo Essay of a 340-Mile Journey From Los Angeles to Las Vegas

We hit the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to witness 40+ teams take on the harsh task of running a 340-miles relay race called The Speed Project.

March 19, 2018

Thoughts on ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ by Haruki Murakami

Marukami starts by telling his life story through the lens of running but gives us insight on what makes one our greatest novelists tick.

March 13, 2018

A look into the dark world of energy gels

I’m a huge idiot. I’ve never ran a marathon. I’ve never used a GU. I don’t even know what they are. So I reached out to some ‘experts’ about energy gels.

March 8, 2018

A Brief Timeline of All the Bullshit Female Runners Have Overcome

It’s international women’s day, so it’s time to recognize the hurdles overcome, and celebrate the women that are continuing to blaze a path forward.

February 6, 2018

On training, racing, and growing as a gay runner

“If my story has any lessons, it should be that being the first gay runner in your world means you won’t be the last.” – David Melly

January 29, 2018

I split up with my watch: here’s what happened

Any relationship produces ephemera, and flings with watches are no different. What happens when a runner takes some time to rock a naked wrist?

December 21, 2017

I ate Donald Trump’s McDonald’s dinner and then ran: Here are the sad results

Ryan Sterner decided to try and eat President Donald Trump’s dinner of two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish and a chocolate shake from McDonalds before running.

December 8, 2017

183.4: FINAL EPISODE

The final installment of the HOKA NAZ ELITE documentary “183.4” is live! The documentary follows the team’s journey as they prepare for several marathons.

December 7, 2017

The Beauty and Carnage of the Marathon

I haven’t come within 10 miles of running the marathon distance. I have, however, spent the last month of my life basically bathing in the marathon culture. I was at the finish line of the New York City Marathon when Shalane did the damn thing. And I spent last weekend hobnobbing around Sacramento for the 35th California International Marathon with a press credential hanging around my neck granting me more access than I rightfully deserved.

From the outside looking in, the whole point of a marathon for most people was to just finish. If that’s the case, then a marathon was only a few steps removed from being a hot dog eating contest. There had to be more.

When I got to the starting line of the CIM it was still dark, not yet 6 AM. The PA was blaring Imagine Dragons at a skull-shattering volume, but no one seemed to mind.

I caught whiffs of conversations — stories of preparation or lack thereof. There were runners sitting on the curb, applying what my nose positively identified as Icy Hot, or some other menthol knock-off. But Icy Hot wasn’t the only goo. I saw runners rubbing various shmears and semi-solids into any nook or cranny that carried even a scintilla of a doubt about its ability to stay chafe-free. I’m positive most of the product names ended in GLIDE.  Overall, the atmosphere was jovial. Selfie sticks and chuckling and groups in matching t-shirts abound.

The only place where things felt panicked, maybe even desperate, was near the port-o-potties.

In New York, I heard rumors of the Verrazano Bridge running yellow with urine by the time the 50,000 some runners clear the area. In Sacramento, the announcer repeatedly warned people to please respect the neighbors and keep their pre-race ones and twos in the port-o-potties.

I imagine the warning provided a chicken and egg type moment for some of the more refined folks. Had the thought of skipping the line and shitting in someone’s yard occurred to them before the announcer made them privy to the practice?

My assignment for the race was to sit in the elite women’s lead van and observe. We had the back doors swung wide open for maximum visibility and relied on bungee cords stretched within an inch of their lives to keep them ajar.

The marathon doesn’t really get interesting until the element of disaster knocks on the door. This starts to happen at roughly mile ten. And since both men and women started at the same time, the women’s lead van was a perfect vantage point for the back-of-the-pack men’s race (also, Sara Hall was the only female runner we saw that day, as she ended up winning by over two whole minutes).

Now, I’ve seen folks having bad races before: someone maybe 30 seconds behind at the end of a steeplechase or having a little lie down at the end of a 10K. But nothing compares to the face of a marathoner having a bad day. Waking up in the middle of mile 16 and realizing that you, covered in salt, mouth like a dried sponge, still have ten miles to go is probably something not too far off from a religious experience.

We passed runners with sullen, lifeless faces, the skin around their eyes a bright pink that gave the impression of a freshly powdered corpse. I watched one guy try to suck whatever he could out of a GU packet and then nearly vomit it back up. Around mile 20 we passed a man covered in his own filth. Later we learned he had shit his pants at mile eight and went on to run somewhere around 2:16. A pretty decent trade-off, if you ask me.

We passed the runners who called it quits. Some sitting on the curb holding an ailing body part, others walking with their hands on their hips, looking for answers in the pavement beneath their feet. When we went by our driver apologized for not being able to pick them up, but assured them that the “meat wagon” was coming.

Other people we passed were having far more impressive outings. There were runners who, at mile 20, looked like they had just started their engines. They had the wide-eyed look of an animal in a trap, probably hungry, probably closer to death than they knew but running with a ravenous energy in an attempt to jump-start their depleted limbs.

And then there was the finish line.

Some people were jubilant, but most just kind of stopped running — like Forrest Gump in the end zone. They had vacant looks on their faces, stood bleary and blinking, coming to terms with the trauma they had just inflicted on their bodies.

At the end of it all, while we CITIUS boys were making our way back to the elite athlete area, I looked at them and without a hint of irony said, “I’m tired.”

We sat around drinking coffee in the cafeteria as the elite runners started to filter in. Limping, wet, perhaps in shock, we greeted a handful of them, spoke earnestly with the ones we knew and congratulated anyone that approached our table.

I couldn’t pretend to understand what they went through. A washed-up runner cursing his cramped calves after a 5K fun run, and a woman who can’t walk up stairs because she brought her body to the brink and continued to burn are two completely different things.

I now understand the fundamental difference between running marathons and running anything shorter. There didn’t look to be anything inherently fun about running a marathon. Stringing together a good training block can be fun. But the fun really isn’t in the 20 mile long runs or the solo workouts in the pitch black morning. The fun is filling in those consecutive days in the running log, maybe enjoying a beer afterward and feeling like you earned it.

Any fun you were probably having wears off somewhere between a week before the race and right before the gun goes off. I saw the faces of every elite athlete before the start. Existential dread could be one way to describe it, a duck on the pond could be another.

A lot of fuss was made about the bathrooms in the elite staging area. These 100 or so elite athletes were all fawning over the 20 pristine port-o-potties they had to themselves. If you’re engaging in a supposedly fun activity but the best thing you can say about it is that the bathrooms were great, maybe you should reconsider your definition of fun.

The entertainment value of a marathon — the crux of this entire thing — is best compared, I think, to the episode of Seinfeld called “The Dealership.”

Do you remember? This is the episode where Kramer and some poor schmuck of a salesman see how far they can take the car before it runs out of gas.

In the beginning, the car salesman doesn’t understand what Kramer is doing. He’s nervous. Agitated, even.

“How low are you gonna go?”

“Oh, I’ve been below the slash a number of times. This is nothing. Just put it out of your mind.”

Eventually, the car salesman comes around, screaming that he’s never felt so alive, that they can’t stop now, that they need to see how far this thing goes on empty. To him, it was life-changing.

That’s the only reasonable answer I could come up with. The fun isn’t in the act itself but seeing what you can find on your way to the bottom of the well. Maybe it’s a gear you never knew existed. Maybe it’s a dark place where you question every decision you ever made. But in the end, if you make it to the end, you’ll have accomplished something. Was it fun? Was it worth it? I guess that’s for you to decide.

After the race, I hung around Sacramento waiting for my flight, feeling inadequate. All around me people had just participated in a facet of the running world that I was only partner to. It was a self-imposed exile, I suppose, as nothing is stopping me from running a marathon other than thinking that I might die if I tried. But slowly, over the hours waiting for my plane, I made up my mind. I became Kramer’s car salesman: bearing witness to this crazed phenomenon, I desperately wanted to partake and see, finally, how far I could go before the needle breaks off.

November 27, 2017

EPISODE 2: 183.4 (NAZ Elite Documentary)

Watch Aaron Braun’s resurgence as a top-American marathoner at the Chicago Marathon and others in the final weeks of training before the Frankfurt Marathon.

November 10, 2017

Running with Men

Jeanne Mack reflects on her New York City Marathon experience and the one encounter that stood out to her during her race.

October 27, 2017

From Frankfurt, with love: my current relationship with running.

Stephen Kersh reflects on traveling out to Frankfurt, Germany to watch a race that he won’t be running in due to a calcaneus stress fracture.

October 25, 2017

Examining a Fantastic Bowerman Track Club Throwback

I really enjoyed this photo of the Bowerman Track Club from 2009 and wanted to break it down because all of it is wonderful.

October 6, 2017

Feast your eyes on the best male athlete portraits in track and field (Part IX)

Picture day is something to look forward to every year. These runners surely made the most out of their respective roster portraits. Part IX.

October 5, 2017

Your annual update on Teens: The Porta Potty Challenge

The more we study teens the less we seem to understand them. We’d like to turn your attention to the Porta Potty Challenge inflicting the country.

October 3, 2017

Episode 1 | One Eighty Three Point Four

Episode of 1 of the Northern Arizona Elite documentary One Eighty Three Point Four. Take a look inside the marathon training of seven athletes.

October 2, 2017

Finding Value In Caring About Running

Jenny DeSouchet explains the value of having passion for something, like running, even when it may feel selfish or pointless or crazy.

September 20, 2017

Feast your eyes on the best male athlete portraits in track and field (Part VIII)

Picture day is something to look forward to every year. These runners surely made the most out of their respective roster portraits. Part VII.

September 13, 2017

Feast your eyes on the best male athlete portraits in track and field (Part VII)

Picture day is something to look forward to every year. These runners surely made the most out of their respective roster portraits. Part VII.

September 8, 2017

Revisionist Record Books: Examining track and field’s decade records suggested by Malcolm Gladwell

Why should we erase history? On the House of Run podcast, Malcolm Gladwell suggests recognize track and field’s records with the context of the era.

September 1, 2017

High School How-To: How to run a 5k cross country race

As great of a resource as Google is, the items that occupy the front page of most searches end up there through some combination of paid placement and/or shadowy computer algorithms. This means that any blowhard with a computer, an internet connection, and enough money can land on the front page. And I know you’re not going past the front page.

For people just looking for a quick “HOW TO” article or attempting to diagnose a weird rash, this can prove discouraging. Despite being firmly rooted in the Age of Information, the internet–our greatest informational resource–is full of misinformation. That, and our rapidly diminishing attention spans mean we’re spending less and less time doing our research. In 2017, most articles looking to inform a reader about anything would be better served to just eliminate all pictures and blocks of text and replace them with flashing GIFS. “IT’S POISON IVY,” flashing on the screen over and over is this generation’s ideal WebMD page.

With that being said, I’ve created a series of images and GIFS to help our high school readers get re-acquainted with cross country racing. If you’ve been feverishly googling “how to race a 5k” ever since practice started but have only found Runner’s World articles about “going slow and steady” or “running within yourself,” please know that–if you’re a high schooler–this is a stupid strategy. We at Citius Mag are here to teach you how to properly run a 5k cross country race in just two easy steps.

1. Attempt to PR in the mile in the first mile of most races

The ideal racing strategy in most high school races is to run your first mile far faster than your overall finishing pace. Do you fancy yourself a 17 minute 5k runner? Then please go out in 4:50. Are you faster than that? Maybe you’re a 16 minute 5k’er–then you should probably go out in 4:30.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this chart below. These are the top-50 finishers in the 2016 Minnesota State Cross Country championship. The average finishing time was 16:40, but the average first mile was 5:05 or roughly 15:47 pace. Did anyone in that race run a 15:47? No. No they didn’t. But they went out in what I like to call “aspirational pace.” Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Chart courtesy of Scott Olberding.

2. Die a slow death

Where do you go after you nearly PR in the mile during a cross country race? Downhill, baby. Most high school cross country races are races of attrition. You go out stupid fast, and then the person who dies the least wins.

Three examples.

a) Resident Citius Good Boy, Paul Snyder, ran his best high school 5k in a time of 15:22. He remembers his splits as 4:30-9:30-15:22. “No one passed me after the first 400m,” he said. And with good reason, because so far, he employed the two hard and fast rules of high school cross country racing: go out far too fast, and die slowly.

If he had maintained his 4:30 mile pace, he would have ran 13:58. Instead he ran 4:30, 5:00, 5:52 for the last 1.125 (that’s about a 5:12 mile). Those are some phenomenal positive splits.

b) The first time I broke 17 minutes in a high school 5k I ran 4:59-10:40-16:58. So, what is that? 4:59-5:41-6:18 for the last 1.125 (or 5:36). I remember I got like 12th place in that race. What could I have done different to run faster and probably place higher? You guessed it, ran a faster first mile, die less.

c) If you look at the chart above, you’ll see that the finishing times all trend this way. Go out fast, die, and then die less. The ones who hang on are the winners.

As stated before, the average first mile from our sample of Class A Minnesotans was 5:20. The average second mile was 5:47, average 3rd mile was 5:49.

***

Now, you might be thinking, “well that’s stupid. I should go out and race a little bit smarter than that.” Please don’t. In college and professional running, the person who goes out the fastest is generally considered the martyr. They’re going to go out fast, have an impressive lead for about a mile of the race, and then finish like 55th. High school is the last chance you’ll get to go out there, race like an idiot, and still be rewarded. If this isn’t the absolute epitome of your time in high school I don’t know what is. Cherish it.

 

August 31, 2017

Between Oasis’s Gallagher brothers, who’s the superior jogger?

For as long as there has been Oasis, there has been the obvious question, “Which Gallagher brother do you like better?” Well we have thoughts

August 25, 2017

Track Talk: What’s your favorite part of cross country season?

The leaves are starting to change colors. We consulted with our good friend what’s their favorite part of cross country season.

August 22, 2017

How fast can LeBron James run a mile? Faster than you think

Citius Mag asks the question every runner has asked about other professional athletes since the beginning of time: how fast could LeBron James run a mile?

August 21, 2017

Your First Day of Cross Country

A look at how your first day of cross country practice will go. Beware this will be your life for the next four to five years as well.

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