When did you begin running and why?
My mother used to tell me that I actually did not begin walking, but rather moved from crawling to running, usually right into walls – I guess that explains my soft head! I began to run competitively in the sixth grade, and started running with my local high school track and cross country teams in seventh grade. The Big Guy was already 6 feet tall by then and still growing (just a lot skinnier!), and I just sort of blended in. Back then I also played soccer, which was not very mainstream at the time, but allowed me more time for running. I ran track at the University of Virginia, and continued with the Atlanta Track Club after school, and never really stopped running. I started coaching when I was in law school at the University of Georgia, so I’ve been coaching fairly steadily for more than 30 years, and running – competitively – for more than 40. I used to run because I had a competitive streak a mile wide, but lately I run so that I can enjoy the good things in life without becoming the “Too Big Guy”!
What’s your favorite part about being a DCRR member?
The thing I like best about the club is the opportunity to coach, which has allowed me to meet a lot of wonderful new friends.
What have you learned from being in the club?
Most people will laugh when I say this, but humility. I used to think I was a pretty good runner, but Ted Poulos and others have taught me better. In addition, there is nothing like coaching to teach you about humility – I didn’t know how little I knew about the sport that’s been major part of my life for almost 50 years until I started taking RRCA and USTAF Certification classes, and then coached the inquisitive DCRRC trainees!
What have you gained from being a coach?
Mostly weight! Seriously, I don’t think there is a more fulfilling part of my life than being a DCRRC Coach – it brings me immense joy and satisfaction – I just wish my trainees felt the same way! 😉
What is your favorite route in DC?
I know it’s crazy, but I LOVE the Big Loop, the 23 mile loop up the Capital Crescent and back down through Rock Creek Park. I always feel like I’ve truly accomplished something running it, and as a coach I love the looks of determination, surprise and relief on the trainees faces as we finish the Big Loop three weeks before the trainees’ marathons.
What mile of the marathon do you find most challenging? Easiest?
Again, this is crazy, but I find the first mile the toughest, and the last mile the easiest. As a track guy, I used to think long distance was running the mile (I ran the quarter and half miles in College), so my style is to bolt to the front and try to hang on – and that’s not the best marathon strategy. I am constantly telling myself to slow down because there are 25 more miles to go. As to the last mile, again, my track instincts kick in. I always save a little bit for the “kick” and so when I reach down and I hear the crowds cheering, somehow I find the strength to sprint that last mile to the finish.
What race day traditions do you have?
Seriously questioning my sanity! Actually, if you mean marathon race day, which are the only race days that are very different than other days for me, my tradition is to watch “Chariots of Fire” the night before. The Film is the story of the English runners at the first Olympics after the first World War, a very poignant time. I truly love Eric Liddell’s speech to the crowd of working people, about where the power to stay the course and finish the race comes from, as he says “it comes from within.”
What’s your proudest race moment?
During college I was asked to be the rabbit in a very important 800 meter race at Madison Square Garden, as I was a notoriously fast starter as a former 400m man, and when I moved right at the 600m mark and let two world-class athletes smoke by me, something woke up inside me and instead of running off the track, as had been the plan, I took off after them. While I never did catch them, I did end up finishing third and I treasure that “gut-check” memory a lot more than any race I ever won.
What’s your life like outside of running?
Is there is life outside of running? 😉 Most DCRRC people think I am a spy because I go to places like Libya, Istanbul, Iran and Syria, and I have a hard time explaining what I do. Actually, I’m sort of a venture capitalist, helping to raise money and to run companies, all around the world. A little known fact about the Big Guy is that he is actually a resident of Austin, Texas, but spends so much time in DC because he is still very much in love with Mrs. Big Guy, and her job keeps her in DC.
Do you have a running motto/mantra? If so, what is it and why?
Run negative splits! Virtually all world records from the mile to the marathon were set by runners who ran a stronger second half of the race – while none of us may ever set a world record, we can all learn from the best – stay strong throughout the race and save a little something for the end – you ARE going to need it!
What’s the most valuable tip you have for beginning runners?
Make sure that you have fun while you are running. Nobody pays us to run, and few of us will ever get any glory from it, so you should learn to enjoy running, and if you can’t, just slow down and spend some time talking to the other DCRRC runners – they are an interesting and special group of people. I learned to have fun even in the marathon from Coach Marianna Nazarro at the Austin Marathon, where she chose to skip a PR to spend more time “High-Fiving” the crowd and running from side-to-side to thank the spectators, and I won’t ever forget it!
What is one thing you wouldn’t run without?
My sense of wonder. We are so very lucky to be alive, healthy, and out in this beautiful and fascinating world, running along and enjoying one of God’s greatest gifts.