Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ya Win Some, Ya Lose Some

This weekend was a perfect display of the old cliche.

For example, the sushi that Erin and I made… a win.20130327-161609.jpgThis was my first time making sushi, and I totally loved it! Getting it pretty is one thing, but getting it done is simple. All it takes is a bamboo mat, cooked and cooled sticky rice, seaweed paper, and any kind of fillings you can imagine. We used salmon, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, roasted kumara and cream cheese, and made every combination possible.

However, our pumpkin ravioli… an utter failure.20130327-162043.jpgIn total sea monkey style, our beautiful ravioli pillows puffed up about 4 times their original size when we tried to boil them and turned into a furry, fluffy mess. Baking the others wasn’t much better, evident by the laughs that everyone tried to stifle upon trying them. Scott summed it up in no time, declaring, “I really don’t like them” and we all quickly agreed. So we did the natural thing in response to a dinner disaster, and dashed out for pizza and fro-yo. So if you’re Domino’s, you’d consider that night a win. It’s all about perspective, right?

Another example: the 5k at the New Zealand National Track & Field Championships… a win!
It’s been 9 months (since the Olympic Trials) since I’ve raced on the track, and I had a blast being back out there. I sat comfortably in fourth for the first half, took control with about 6 laps to go, and hammered home in the last kilometer. Kyle helped me out during the race and all of my housemates came out to support. They’re just the best!20130328-075143.jpg

The 1500, on the other hand… a definite defeat.
My first error was running way too conservatively in the beginning and finding myself in last place (13th) around 800 to go. I was able to make up some good ground and finish fifth, but I paid the price for not committing early enough. But like the ravioli (which our roommates have convinced us to not recreate, ever), there’s a positive to my very flawed 1500 as well. I usually learn more about myself and the sport from my defeats than my victories, and I’m already antsy to give that distance another shot (which, thankfully, I get to do in a road mile on Monday). So my goal going forward is to totally commit from the gun and expand my running identity beyond the steeple, 5k and 10k.

On another positive, the winner of the race was Lucy Van Dalen, Olympic semi-finalist in the 1500m and twin sister of Holly, who I’ve run with in the past few weeks. It was a pleasure competing and chatting with her and it looks like she’s heading towards another fab season!

In Highs and Lows (or Santas and Grinches, whatever you want to call it) fashion, it’s just wrong to end on a low. So feast your eyes on these. If they aren’t winning screenshots, I don’t know what are! (Really I just want an excuse to share these pics)20130328-085956.jpgJimmy B groovin to a Mexican Pandora station

20130328-090003.jpgJim proudly donning his St. Pat’s hat, which he wore in public earlier in the day. Unfortunately you can only see my weird shirt-on-shirt, but I promise that Vicki was wearing a similar one… hence my decision to match her for our Skype chat!

I hope all of your weekends are full of Highs (only legal ones), but that you find some sunshine in each Low as well.


Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


Life as a Watson Fellow

Big news! The 2013-2014 Watson Fellows were announced last week and I’m so pumped to welcome them to the crew. If they’re anything like me, they’ll spend the next few months planning and dreaming about their upcoming trips and will suddenly find themselves in their first foreign country, wondering what the heck they got themselves into, how they’ll survive 12 months of independent travel, family-less holidays, and suitcase-living, and how many cultural taboos they’ll break before offending someone or seriously embarrassing themselves. (Hint: it probably won’t be very many)

In light of the recent announcement, I thought it would be fun to explain the Watson Fellowship in detail and offer a few tips for the upcoming crop of fellows. Keep in mind, though, that all 40 of us have our own projects and itineraries and were given very little guidance in terms of how to approach our journey. In fact, while former Watson Fellows were encouraged to reach out to us before we departed, we’ve been asked to refrain from communicating with current fellows until we all meet for the first time at the Returning Fellows Conference in August. That rule ensures that our years truly are solo and that we don’t use anyone else as a crutch or a travel companion. So hopefully this post will illuminate both the beauty and the challenges of the Watson Fellowship for interested friends and family, as well as shed a little light on what’s ahead for the newly christened Watsons. I apologize in advance for the length of this one, but it’s not a topic for which I’m ever at a lack of words.

What is this sweet gig and how did I get it?
The Thomas J. Watson Foundation was established in 1961 by Mrs. Thomas J. Watson, Sr., in memory of her husband, the founder of International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). The Watson Fellowship, which is given annually to 40 graduating seniors from 40 participating liberal arts institutions, funds “a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel — in international settings new to them — to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.”

In the spring of my junior year, I watched everyone around me tackle the LSAT, MCAT, or GRE, interview with various firms and businesses, and take sure-footed strides towards a looming career. As a history, psychology and sociology major with extremely varied interests but no solid career trajectory of my own, I juggled a few ideas around, including graduate school, the FBI, and becoming a prison warden (none of which are out of the picture yet). On a whim, I also paid a visit to OFUR (the Rice University Office of Fellowships and Undergraduate Research) and had a nice, lengthy chat with Dr. Quenemoen, who, along with Dr. Akli, would advise and guide me through inordinate application drafts over the next year. During that initial meeting, my eyes were opened to the array of awesome scholarships that were just waiting for ambitious undergrads like me to scoop up.

The idea of foreign study and travel was hugely appealing to me because, as a collegiate distance runner with 3 seasons of competition each year, studying abroad during college was pretty much out of the question. That’s not to say it’s not possible, because occasionally people preemptively forego seasons of eligibility to develop a stronger base that they can tap into during a fifth year. While I did have a few seasons away from competition, unfortunately my injuries crept up without warning and I never had the luxury of planning a competition lay-off in advance. So with that in mind, as well as some inspiration from my siblings’ amazing study abroad experiences (Matt in Sydney, Rach in Buenes Aires, Luke in San Sebastian), I felt like it was my time to see the world.20130321-074525.jpg(Calling one of these “studying” abroad is pretty generous, don’t ya think?)

I spent the later part of the spring semester, the entire summer break, and most of the fall obsessing over various applications that had the potential to whisk me away to a far-off country. Some, like the Rhodes and Marshall, were more serious and academically-oriented, while others, like the Fulbright and Wagoner, were a mix of cultural immersion and classroom or independent study.

And then there was the Watson. It didn’t fit into any category that I knew of, and I loved that about it. It was a big question mark of a year, and pondering the limitless, personal answers became a hobby, a challenge, and an obsession. There was never any question as to the direction my proposal would take: distance running was obvious. What I spent months mulling over was what exactly I would pursue in relation to running, where I would venture to find some clarity, and how the whole project would align with both the spirit of the Watson and my personal aspirations. In the end, I hatched this idea as the foundation of my project, which also served as the introduction to my project proposal:

“Track and field is the most global of all sports. It transcends national, demographic and socioeconomic boundaries, and attracts representatives from more countries to its major competitions than any other sport… As a runner and a sociologist, I am deeply curious about my running counterparts around the world. If I am awarded the Watson Fellowship, I will spend one year exploring the running cultures in five countries with unique and storied running histories: England, Ethiopia, Japan, New Zealand and Finland. My ultimate objective is to construct an encompassing and comparative view of these diverse running environments as I investigate the role of running on an individual, societal and global scale. To do this, I will explore four main aspects of each running culture: history, recreational running, elite training and social attitudes. Specifically, in each place, I will survey the evolution of the sport, the popularity and structure of recreational running, the workout regimens and lifestyles of elite runners and the society’s general perceptions and support of the sport. I will interview athletes, coaches and spectators, run on popular trails and tracks and compete in meets and road races, while recording my thoughts and observations in both a journal and blog…”

Hundreds of drafts of the project proposal as well as a personal statement, budget, itinerary, and contact list, a few frustrated tears, and two interviews later, I got an email that sealed my fate for the next year, and probably for many more years down the line. Along with my 39 fellow Fellows, I was selected for the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and, provided that I accepted the offer, I had about four months to prepare, pack, and hightail it to my first destination.

Most parents would cringe at the thought of their 23-year-old daughter (who has absolutely zero directional skills and is regularly confused for a pre-teen) venturing off to foreign countries on her own for a whole year.20130321-075428.jpgI can honestly say, though, that when I was awarded the fellowship, my parents and I didn’t even have a discussion about whether or not I would do it. They knew that my heart was totally in it and gave me their immediate, wholehearted, selfless support. That is something that I will always be grateful for, as it made my transition into the deep unknown world of independent traveling much easier, smoother and more enjoyable. I will admit, though, that I got my fair share of safety lectures and tips as I prepared, and that I still get regular reminders to “Be safe!” and to downsize my trust of every stranger I meet. (still working on that last one)

So how does it work and what’s the catch?
Each fellow is given a lump sum to be used however he or she sees fit over the course of the year. It’s definitely adequate for a year of living, but isn’t enough to support an extravagant existence by any means. We’re asked not to dip into our personal accounts or to accept lavish donations so that all fellows live within a similar means, learn how to create and follow a budget, and practice relatively simple living. Some people choose to spend most of their funds on nice accommodations in a few select places, while others like me spend mostly on plane tickets. It’s a trade-off and something that must be decided by each individual.

Believe it or not, there’s very little we have to do as Watson Fellows. We’re asked to write three quarterly reports during the year, submit a final financial accounting upon our arrival home, and attend a Returning Fellows Conference over a long weekend in August. In addition, before embarking, we signed a surprisingly short and lenient list of guidelines for the year. Some of the major rules include:

  • We must leave the U.S. for 12 months and may not return except in extreme circumstances and with approval from the Watson Headquarters.
  • We may not travel to countries with U.S. State Department Travel Warning or under U.S. Department of the Treasury Embargo.
  • We may not travel to places where we’ve studied or lived before.
  • We must travel independently, limiting our visits from friends and family and resisting the urge to travel extensively with people that we meet along the way.
  • We must represent the Fellowship Program, our college, and our country well.
  • We must notify the Fellowship Office of significant changes in itinerary or in the scope or focus of the project.

  • How to prepare for a year on the road…20130320-163156.jpgPacking for 365 days is a serious task, even for someone like me who is perfectly content wearing running clothes all day every day. So in Matt-Wade-during-exams fashion, I started a packing list about 3 months in advance to be sure that I didn’t leave anything major out. Looking back on my list, it probably wasn’t necessary to include details such as “4 paperclips” and “2 rolls of tape without the dispenser.” Then again, I love my office supplies and would have hated for loose papers to be roaming around in my “folder with side pockets and dividers”!

    My very first post (How to Prepare for a Year on the Road) covers my major preparations in the few weeks leading up to my departure, but I have some things to add to that list.

  • If pictures are important to you, invest in a good camera. It’s totally worth it, and nothing captures the essence of a trip quite like photographs and videos.
  • Prepare a little spiel about what exactly you’re doing and why, because you’re going to give it at LEAST five hundred times over the course of the year. Probably more. I’m still so excited about my project and journey that I honestly don’t mind describing it over and over again, and I find that other people’s interest and enthusiasm fuels my own.
  • If at all possible, connect with former Watsons in your area who can help prepare you both mentally and logistically. After I received the fellowship, I had the extreme pleasure of getting to know Sandy Wallis, my interviewer who happens to live in Houston with her husband and two daughters. We met for lunch and she also arranged a dinner for a few other Watsons and I. Both times, I walked away feeling intensely excited about my trip and privileged to be part of the Watson family.
  • At the risk of sounding cliche, pack lightly! Especially if you’re bouncing around between quite a few countries, don’t burden yourself with clothes or items that are impractical or culturally insensitive. I guarantee that you’ll end up shipping a good amount of your belongings home or ditching them along the way, so spare yourself the trouble and fill your suitcases wisely.

  • …And when to trust yourself to just wing it20130320-163306.jpgEqually as important as preparing properly for your Watson year is planning on doing a whole lot of improvising as you go. You can’t possibly bring or anticipate everything, so the earlier you accept that, the more organic, smooth, and enriching and the less stressful and forced your journey will be. This one took me about a month to figure out, but now, rather than worrying about solidifying accommodations months in advance, I generally keep my focus on my current and very next destination. As long as I’ve arranged a place to stay for the first 5-7 days of my arrival in a new country, I know I’ll be okay. It’s much easier to meet people, get a feel for a place, and make plans once I’m actually there, and I’ve never been left in the dust.

    As an example, I arranged to stay in a flat for my first month in England and was initially worried because I didn’t plan beyond that. About two weeks into my stay, a friendly Irish guy moved into one of the other rooms, we quickly became friends, and he ended up connecting me with his buds and running club in Ireland. Through that fortuitous overlap and friendship, my next month kind of planned itself and resulted in a tremendously enjoyable trip. If I had solidified a place to stay in England for September, which was my original plan, I wouldn’t have been able to jump at the opportunity to check out a new country, nor would I have met some of the funniest, kindest, most interesting people I’ve come across so far.

    After my first month renting a flat, I’ve managed to crash with other running-involved people in every place I’ve been, and have found those experiences to be extremely valuable. Not only do I have much more fun and save a bit of money that I use to reach more destinations, but I get to see how other people live in different parts of the world, learn all about people over long meals and heated games, and form life-long friendships that I’ll always treasure.20130321-072119.jpgSo far, I’ve stayed in 47 beds with well over 100 hosts, who have included: a national steeplechase coach, race organizers, personal assistant to Usain Bolt, pro triathlete, adventure racer, running author, recreational runners, Olympic champions, club captains, exercise physiology PhD candidate, sports photographer, NCAA champion, track agent, and former conference competitors. These people have broadened my perspective on running, deepened my appreciation for the hard work that goes into the sport itself and behind the scenes, and most of all, taught me how to be a gracious, welcoming host. I hope to reciprocate the bottomless kindness and hospitality I’ve been shown to many of my foreign friends when I get back to Texas.

    What’s a typical day for a Watson Fellow?
    The beauty of this fellowship is that such a thing doesn’t exist! Part of the challenge is to figure out ways to occupy your time that are both productive in terms of your project, as well as enjoyable and culturally relevant. It’s not possible or fulfilling to spend all of your time focused on one theme (running, for me), and the Watson directors are totally aware of that. I’ve found it useful and satisfying to set small goals for myself along the way (interviewing distinguished runners, trying out new trails or parks, observing or participating in running events, researching and reading about the history of athletics in each place, etc.) that give me a sort of purpose and direction. But I also embrace the flexibility of my schedule and jump at the opportunity to explore a new place or get to know my hosts and the locals in different contexts.

    In addition, fortunately for me, my project can be quite consuming if I let it, and I’ve had very few moments of boredom yet. I can easily spend the good portion of a day doing two runs, some core or gym work, grocery shopping and cooking, and relaxing with the people I’m staying with. It’s also easy to kill a few hours researching my next country and doing a little (but not too much!) planning for it. I must admit that I’ll feel a little lost and empty when finding a roof to sleep under is no longer a regular feature on my to-do list. As stressful and cumbersome as it is at times, it’s a task that’s loaded with possibility and excitement, and that always results in a unique experience and some lasting friendships.20130321-080056.jpg

    How do I keep track of my adventures and memories?
    I touched upon this briefly in my Over the Hump post in January. I’m a massive list-maker, doodler, and writer, so this is an area that I take quite seriously. I write what I’ve done and how I’m feeling in a journal each day– sometimes filling out a few pages and other times taking up just a few lines– and also include ticket stubs, notes, maps, and such. I also keep ongoing lists of people I want to keep in touch with, songs and artists I’ve picked up in each country, recipes from my hosts and local cuisines, a huge photo collection, and notes on different runners, coaches and training styles I’ve encountered. In addition, I put each month’s experiences into an illustrated timeline that are fun ways to capture my memories and feelings and to tap into my love of art and drawing. I think it’ll be really neat to sift through all of these records in years to come, and they’ll also help me portray this otherwise pretty indescribable year to others.

    Recommendations for future fellows:
    I’ll end with some tips for the 40 graduating seniors that are about to slide into my shoes and jet off on a worldwide tour, exploring the subject that speaks to their hearts as running does to mine.

  • Live in homestays as much as possible. In no other situation will you get a better feel for a culture or form deeper relationships.
  • Recognize that your year will likely look very different from your original project proposal. Before embarking, I planned to visit 5 countries. By the time I finish, I’ll have spent significant time in about 15.
  • At the same time, know that there is value in getting to know one place intimately and that you won’t be able to absorb as much of a place in a rushed trip. Seek a balance between stability and change, and adjust as you go if necessary.
  • Also remember that you planned your agenda for a reason, so don’t ditch a destination because it becomes inconvenient or frightening. The challenge will be good for you and you just might surprise yourself with the outcome.
  • Dabble in activities with locals and your hosts that are conducive to relationship-building. I’ve found that activities such as cooking, running, hiking, and playing games are fun and comfortable ways to learn about other people and open up to them about yourself.
  • Whatever it is, as long as it doesn’t put your or your health at risk, try it. Especially if it makes you a little nervous and forces you out of your comfort zone. For example, an Irish dish that’s essentially baked blood? Sure! A match-making festival for senior citizens? Absolutely!
  • Even if you aren’t there long, make an effort to learn at least a little bit of a place’s primary language. A few key words and phrases will go a long way, other people will appreciate it, and you’ll learn not to expect others to cater to your preferred language.
  • When the inevitable homesickness sweeps in, keep yourself occupied and know that it comes in waves. Avoid thinking about what you’re missing at home as much as possible, and dive a little deeper into your current destination.
  • Allow yourself plenty of room for flexibility and spontaneity. I’ve found that booking tickets as I go, rather than purchasing them all in advance to save some money and apprehension, is totally the way to go for me. It allows me to determine when I’ve fulfilled my exploration of a place and to tinker with my itinerary if I want to.
  • Always check a country’s travel and visa requirements. Many places allow US passport-holders to visit for 90 days or less without a visa, but a few require outgoing tickets or other forms of documentation.
  • Tap into your niche’s network and embrace the snowball effect. In other words, communicate with people who are related to your field in the places you’re going and don’t be afraid to ask them to put you in touch with other people as well. Some of my best friendships and training partnerships have come from friends of friends of friends (or further down that line), and I love the small world feeling of the running community.
  • Take advantage of older, different, and personal ways of keeping in touch. I’ve always been a fan of hand-written letters, but sending postcards and snail mail from different countries, as well as video messages on special occasions, has been a great way to stay connected to people back home.

  • Well, that was a whirlwind! If you made it all the way through this one, props. And if you’re one of the fantastic 40, get ready for the time of your life. If any specific questions come up or if you’re curious about certain aspects of this year, feel free to email me at

    Cheers to dreaming crazy dreams and finding ways to live them out!


    Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


    Barry Magee: Olympic Medalist and the “Lydiard of Today”

    Last month, I wrote about meeting Peter Snell in Dallas before I departed for the year. I recently got the chance to meet one of his good friends and training partners, Barry Magee, who was also a Lydiard-trained athlete and a major player in the 1960’s Kiwi running dominance.

    Best known for his bronze medal in the 1960 Olympic marathon in Rome, Barry also earned a number of major race titles, stadium records, and World #1 rankings during his career. He won the 1960 Fukuoka Marathon and the 1961 World Games 10K (also breaking Zatopek’s stadium record), was part of the 1961 World Record 4×1 mile relay (along with Snell, Halberg and Philpot), was ranked 1st in the world in the 10K and 2nd in the 5K (1961), and represented New Zealand at 2 Olympic and 2 Commonwealth Games in events ranging from the 5K to the marathon.

    Still actively involved in the sport today, Barry now coaches 40-50 runners throughout New Zealand as well as a few abroad. He’s been coaching for 40 years (full-time for the past 14 years) and absolutely loves what he does, sometimes so much that his wife has to drag him away.

    I recently spent a couple hours chatting with him in his Auckland home, and here are some take-away points from our conversation.

    Barry’s Training

  • Barry was 5x the New Zealand National 10k Champion and 2x the Marathon Champion. Despite that and his other accomplishments, he considers himself the lesser one of Lydiard’s boys.
  • Barry and Halberg were the first 2 to do Lydiard’s complete training program.
  • A typical day for Barry would be 10 miles in the morning and 20x400m in 68 seconds (200 jog recovery) in the evening.
  • Barry’s 3 secrets of success: training, training, training. Training is the key to everything.
  • Snell and Halberg specialized, but Barry tried all distance events.
  • He was a negative-splitter– felt twice as good at the finish so he tried to float for as long as possible and then go. It was also much more fun to feel good the whole way and finish strong.
  • Barry raced Murray Halberg around 100 times and lost 95 of them, but he went out to win EVERY time and always believed he could. He never ran for second.
  • Like Snell, Barry worked 50 hours a week (as a grocer) while training, finding it challenging and exciting.
  • The marathon is the most satisfying and special event to Barry– such a dramatic event because one mistake and you’re gone.
  • At age 54, Barry ran the Christchurch marathon in 2:44 (56th at the halfway point, 26th at the finish).
  • Barry says New Zealand “punched above its weight,” referring to New Zealand’s small population but big presence in international running in the 60’s and 70’s.
  • There’s a terrible dropout rate in running now between 19-21 years old in New Zealand, but in Barry’s day, he was just messing around until that time (he only ran a few times a week until he turned 17).
  • Barry’s principle in life and running: “With God, all things are possible” (featured on a big sign hanging in his living room)

  • Barry’s Coaching

  • 99% of how Barry coaches is Lydiard-style, only 1% is Barry. I asked him what that 1% was and he said that everything is not in Lyriard’s books so he has to fill in the little gaps. Barry once asked Lyriard why he left some stuff out (like running 10k in the mornings) and Lydiard said, “Well they should know that.”
  • Barry’s athletes take 1) calcium + magnesium, 2) iron, 3) B12 or B complex (energy-producing), 4) 1000ml/day of Vitamin C (helps restore your body in half the time).
  • Although God put all vitamins and minerals in fruits, vegetables, oats, etc., we can’t get everything from our food anymore. From 1950-2000, a study showed that all fruits and veggies lost 15-60% of their vitamins and minerals because the soil is becoming more depleted.
  • Barry tells his athletes to “train, don’t strain.”
  • Gym work satisfies some people, but Barry thinks it won’t make them better.
  • Barry thinks you should have a balanced life and not just run. “Live life and make running a bonus.” Don’t live to run. Running only is a very small circle to live in.

  • Arthur Lydiard

  • Lyriard said it takes 3-10 years to make a champion, and felt that following his program for at least 3 winters and 3 summers was ideal.
  • Lyriard’s athletes took 6 months to peak for 1 race.
  • In Lydiard’s pyramid (Periodization of Training), the goal is to get the cardiorespiratory system working as efficiently as possible.
    Phase 1: conditioning (10 weeks for marathoners, 8 for distance runners)
    Phase 2: hills
    Phase 3: repetitions and time trials
    Phase 4: sharpening up and racing (although they’d race earlier, this would be the key racing period)
  • The biggest secret of Lydiard training was pure conditioning.
  • Barry never had speed, just stamina; if you build that up enough, you become tireless and can just continue on floating.
  • Lydiard was a steak and vegetable fan and didn’t want to go to Korea to coach because he’d have to mainly live off fish, so he sent Barry over there to teach the Lydiard way. Korea went on to win gold and silver medals in the next Olympics.
  • Barry was Lydiard’s spiritual guru and said his funeral.
  • No one knows how Lydiard knew everything, but he could lecture and teach to doctors, experts, etc. and stun them in their own areas.
  • Lydiard spent 5 years trying things out on himself. He ran up to 250 miles per week in experimentation and determined that 100mpw for men was good, but the composition and pyramid had to be perfect.
  • Compared to other successful training programs at the time, Lydiard’s was relatively low volume. Paavo trained 6 hours a day to achieve greatness, Zatopek trained 6.5 hours a day because he heard what Nurmi was doing and upped that a bit, and Lydiard only had his guys train 1-2 hours a day (around 100mpw).
  • Lydiard wouldn’t have white sugar in his house but liked honey. He had his athletes consume 200g of glucose or honey in the 48 hours before a race that was 10k or longer; it turns into glucose and stays in body for the later stages of the race.
  • Lydiard thought the best iron was in fillet steaks.
  • Barry said it was impossible to be coached by Lydiard and not be mentally strong. There were no wimps or fools in his camp, and they were made to be mentally undefeatable. If someone pulled out of a race, they’d be so scared of Lydiard that they wouldn’t call him for weeks.
  • Lydiard wouldn’t tolerate people questioning his proven methods– he’s credited with 18 Olympic golds.
  • Lydiard and Barry don’t discourage supplementary training if you have time, as long as it doesn’t take away from training. However, none of Lydiard’s guys went to a gym.
  • Lydiard’s athletes respected and trusted him to the utmost. He coached 6 Olympians (3 Olympic medalists) in his small group and when he said you could do something, you know you could.
  • To Barry, Lydiard was much more than a coach.

  • I concluded the interview by asking Barry the same 2 questions that I asked Peter Snell. Here they are:

    It was really neat talking to one of New Zealand’s most iconic distance runners in his home, and learning that Barry’s trust and belief in Lydiard’s training was so deep that he changed virtually none of it in the way that he coaches today, despite continual advancements in sports science and technology. I appreciate Barry welcoming me into his home and opening up to me about his remarkable 50+ year involvement in athletics.

    Leave a comment

    Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


    Birth of the Jogging Movement and a Round the Bays Recap

    Did y’all know that the worldwide jogging phenomenon began right here in Auckland, New Zealand?

    In 1962, renowned Kiwi coach Arthur Lydiard and eventual Auckland mayor Colin Kay founded the first jogging club in the world. The Auckland Joggers Club was originally intended for unhealthy businessmen who wanted to shape up, but quickly reached a much broader demographic within New Zealand and far beyond.

    Later that year, Bill Bowerman, famed U.S. distance coach, brought some athletes to meet Lydiard and train in Auckland, and was invited on a group run at One Tree Hill (otherwise known as Cornwall Park and my standard spot for long runs in Auckland). Bowerman was so impressed with the notion of the recreational running group that he brought it back home to Oregon. The running boom followed suit, though female participation and inclusion lagged behind by a decade or so.

    This past Sunday, I experienced an extension of the original Auckland Joggers Club when I raced the Round the Bays 8.4k, which has become one of the world’s largest fun runs since the club started it in 1972. An estimated 70,000 runners and walkers participated this year, also making it New Zealand’s largest mass participation sporting event.20130313-150630.jpg(Photo from

    It’s been quite a few years (probably a decade!) since I toed the line for a Jingle Bell Run, Turkey Trot, or summer races at White Rock with my family, so Round the Bays was a nice and pressure-less reintroduction back to road racing. I cherish the exposure, intensity and precision of the track, but it’s nice to take to the roads too, and tackle a whole different style of racing along with thousands of strangers. As I have my long-term sights on the marathon, even short, fun road races like this are good practice for some bigger ones down the road.

    The weather was spectacular– cloudless and hot– and the sidewalks and outdoor cafes were speckled with supporters. The course was really neat too, winding along the oceanfront through a few of Auckland’s main bays.20130313-144004.jpg

    Hayden, my host for the past two weeks who unfortunately has a nagging achilles at the moment, helped me out in the last couple miles from his bike and snapped some cool shots of the race. I was also pumped to spot Charlotte, his sweet wife, afterwards and am so proud of all the progress she’s making with her own running.20130313-151050.jpg

    After navigating the chaos of the finish area, runners and supporters made a morning of the post-race festivities, mingling around the water and refueling at the many barbecue pits nearby. I love how running can be so serious and focused at one minute, yet social and jovial the next.

    The day after the race, I got an awesome, unexpected email from a fellow Watson Fellow (1999-2000) who also traveled to NZ during his fellowship year and who recently moved to Auckland with his wife. He read the race report that briefly mentioned my Watson Fellowship, realized that we ran a bit of the race together, and popped me an invitation to hang out or have a meal. I love being a part of the Watson community and I cannot wait to hear all about his own journey and where it has taken him since.

    Now that I’ve brushed a few cobwebs off of my racing self, I’m really looking forward to some more races coming up: the New Zealand National Track and Field Championships next weekend and a possible road mile the week after that. With the solid base I’ve built over these last 8 months (wow– how can that be?!), it’s time to sharpen up a little bit and bring my competitive instinct out to play!

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    Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


    Williams Prep Launches Global Running Initiative

    I received the following message on my birthday last month, and think this is just the neatest thing ever. It comes from Mrs. Nolan, an amazing woman who I got to know through her son at St. Rita and who I shared many a summer afternoon decorating her classroom, jamming to the Jackson 5, and trying to set a record for most consecutive roller coaster rides ever at Six Flags.

    Happy Birthday Becky!!!
    Had to send you a birthday message and show you how your blog inspired me to host a club at my school. Last year our PE coach started a running club at school. Every Wednesday during specials all classes would run together during their specials time. Their laps were recorded, leaders posted and toe tokens given. So when I was reading about some of the running clubs you visited it gave me this idea:

    Running club goes global!
    Calling all running club enthusiasts! Join us as we track Becky and her global adventures as she studies running cultures around the globe. If you are fascinated by your need for speed, your determination for distance and your love of the length of your run; come share your enthusiasm with other Williams Falcons. We will investigate our favorite athletes, track their own global experiences and use everything from snail mail to the web to connect with people around the world who share a passion for athletics!

    So last quarter I started “Running Club goes Global”. This also promotes our mission to become an International Baccalaureate program. The kids loved it! So during our open house we shared with our parent visitors a brief summary of your adventures. And also added some information about our own running culture here at Williams Prep. See pictures below:











    This is awesome, Mrs. Nolan, and so are you! I was so flattered and excited to see what you’re doing, and I’d love to spend some time with the club when I get back home. Many thanks to you and your students for sharing in my journey!


    Posted by on March 7, 2013 in Uncategorized


    February Fun

    Who needs edges anyways?



    Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


    The Kiwi Running Scene

    As you can imagine for a country of just 4 million people, the New Zealand running community is quite small and intimate– much different from my own experiences in the US and even Texas alone. I got a good taste of that when I went to watch Nick Willis, Kiwi superstar and Olympic silver medalist, attempt to run the World Championship 1500 meter A standard here in Auckland last week.

    Before the race, my wonderful hosts Hayden and Charlotte (who I know through Neil and Mel in Melbourne) invited Holly Van Dalen over for a run and dinner. Holly and her twin sister Lucy both had illustrious running careers at Stony Brook University (finishing 6th and 7th in the NCAA Cross Country Championship, among other accomplishments) and are now running post-collegiately, though training in separate cities for the first time. I obviously love our twin connection, but I also found Holly’s spirit and optimism to be totally infectious. She’s currently making a comeback from a long, grueling injury that sidelined her while Lucy made the NZ Olympic team, but still beams when she talks about her sister’s accomplishments. I was thrilled to run into Holly in the beginning of my long run this morning, and I hope we get in some more good chats and runs over the next month.
    20130303-131812.jpgOur run around Mt. Eden and Auckland Domain was great, the “fush and chups” were delicious, and the company was divine!

    20130303-131821.jpgThe four of us then headed to the Millennium Institute of Sport to watch Nick’s race and add a little momentum to the crowd. There’s nothing worse than a dead track, especially when someone’s going for a major mark like Nick was, and I thought the race organizers did a good job of preventing that. They limited the event to that single race, gathered a dozen guys to pace Nick and attempt to run fast themselves, and advertised the race all week long. A good crowd turned out, the conditions were ideal apart from a little wind, and the excitement in the stadium was tangible.

    20130303-135903.jpgNick ran on the heels of his two pacemakers from the gun and was well on pace to run the 3:35.00 standard at the halfway mark. Unfortunately he dropped off a bit after that and crossed the finish line in 3:36.15. Despite falling agonizingly short of his goal, Nick seemed pleased with the effort in what was essentially a glorified time trial, and fired up about giving the mark another shot in next week’s Sydney Grand Prix.

    20130303-133404.jpgAlthough Nick’s race was obviously impressive, I was maybe even more impressed with the grace and appreciation he showed afterwards. He made a point to shake hands and give high-fives to his many supporters and asked all of the kids to join him for his victory lap. They were clearly delighted to run alongside him, and that is totally an experience that would have kicked off a running interest for me at that age. As they say over here… Good on ya, Nick! And best of luck in Sydney and in the outdoor season.

    It was also neat to see the support that Nick and the other competitors got from the Auckland running community. Nick is obviously a superstar over here, but the other guys in the race were well-supported too. Holly knew just about everyone in the race and in the stands, and was able to fill me in on many of their PBs and backgrounds.

    While we’re on the subject of running in New Zealand… Hayden, who I’m living with for the first half of March, is working on a brilliant project that I think lots of runners would totally dig. He’s writing a series of books called A Runner’s Guide, and filling each one with maps, running routes, thorough reviews, and tips from elite runners about a specific city. He’s already written one about his hometown of Wellington and is in the final stages of a London edition, which he gathered information for while living there for six months last year. These books are exactly what I’d want if I were visiting a city for the first time, just beginning to run, or looking to spice up my normal routes, and I strongly recommend y’all check them out. His website ( has more information on the books and on ordering both hard copies and electronic versions.

    Last but not least, Happy Texas Independence Day, y’all! For those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to call yourselves Texans, “Texas is the best place on Earth, and real humble about it to boot…”
    50 Sure Signs that Texas is Actually Utopia


    Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Uncategorized