The Sunday Read: talk like an ultra runner

In this week’s Sunday Read, Ryan Hall runs an ultra, Paul Ryan recants his marathon, National Geographic talks to an ultrarunner, and Outside tells us how to talk like an ultrarunner. Confused yet? I sure as heck am, but that’s the running world this week.

You know him as an accomplished marathoner and half-marathoner, but not many people know about Ryan Hall’s ultra. That’s right, Hall (not be confused with super-slow, easily confused Paul Ryan) appears to have completed an ultra, according to a well-researched and very witty piece in Slate.com. Writer David Wanczyk conducts a clever analysis of an AT&T commercial in which Hall goes for a run listening to the unabridged audio book version of Homer’s The Odyssey. What Wanczyk wanted to know was, was just how far did Hall run listening to the recording. He not only takes into account the length of the recording (and the fact that Hall appears to skip a chunk of the narrative during the commercial), but, among other things, the distance runner’s stride length and rate to arrive at his conclusion that the American athlete runs an ultra in the commercial. This highly recommended bit of reading may be seen here: http://slate.me/TpWB7r

And speaking of Paul Ryan, some people just don’t know when to keep their mouths shut. After his ridiculous inflation of a 4:01 marathon time to a “sub two fifty-something,” the Republican Vice-Presidential hopeful, tried to correct the blunder that made him the pariah of the running community. According to a piece in the HuffPo, Ryan told Toledo News Now: “”I hurt my back when I was in my mid-20s, so I had to stop running. And so obviously, my perception of races and times was off,” Ryan said. “I thought that was an ordinary time until my brother showed me a 3-hour marathon is, you know, very — crazy fast. I ran a 4-hour marathon.” So to clarify: Ryan did not lie; he’s just extremely confused.   And often after a hard effort, like a marathon, that happens – even if that hard effort was 22 years ago. The story is here: http://huff.to/RMFrj0

The title of a piece in National Geographic, “Ultra trail runner Krissy Moehl on how to run 100 miles,” is a little misleading. Yes, the two-time winner of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc does touch upon the subject, but really the article is an excuse for an interview with the acclaimed if terse distance runner. The Q and A isn’t really all that illuminating. Asks the interviewer: “When do you drink.” Replies Moehl: “Before I am thirsty.” Gee. Thank you for that.  So very informative. The accompanying photo of Moehl running in Patagonia is pretty cool though. The piece is here: http://bit.ly/PChM9N

Occasionally things are slow in the magazine world and editors and writers vainly cast around for ideas until some enterprising soul yells, “Bingo!” And the result is a piece on the “lingo” of ultramarathoners. What a great idea! Well, not really. Like I’m certain you didn’t know the definition to words like, “aid station,” “belt buckle,” “climb,” and “elevation grade.” Okay, the piece contains a couple of terms I’d never heard of, such as “tourist douche grade” (a barely noticeable incline), but for the most part the Outside online article seems a little, well…patronizing. Coming soon: a guide to the lingo of runners including such exotic terms as “run,” “climb” and “elevation grade.” The piece is here: http://bit.ly/Q6kQvg

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About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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