The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-352 – Frank Gianinno – The USA Cross Country Record Falls

 (Audio: link) [audio:]
Link epi4352.mp3

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -

Hello and welcome to Episode 4-352 of the RunRunLive Podcast.  How are you doing?  Hanging in there?  Good.  It’s been a weird couple weeks, But we made it. Here we are.  It’s the middle of November. I am another year older and as far as I know the sun is going to come up today. 

Although I can’t be too sure because we’re in that part of the year where we wake up in the dark and come home in the dark up here in New England. 

The leaves are all down and the bones of the old Earth are poking through the great canvas.  It’s cold in mornings and that feels good on our old bodies.  I’ve already had a fire in the fireplace. 

Today we have a great chat with Frank Gianinno who held the record for the cross USA run until Pete Kostelnick broke it!

In section one we’ll talk about the advantage of creating seasons of losing fitness into your endurance careers. 

In section two we’ll inspect how today’s environment is wired to keep us from focusing on long term, high value projects.  And I’ll issue a challenge for you to join me in a 30 day project.

My running is going fine.  I’m starting to lay on some more miles now that I’m fully recovered from Portland.  I’ve been doing a lot of strength work especially in my glutes and hips. 

Buddy the old wonder dog is doing fine.  He’s nuts though.  Compulsive border collies don’t make the best retirees.  He’s up in the mornings, ready to go and bothers me like a 3-year-old until he collapses on his bed for a 2-hour nap. 

I’ll take him out at lunch for a short run in woods behind my house.  He can still manage a slow 20 minutes but his hips bother him.  We give him the Glucosamine treats and those help.  As near as I can tell Buddy will be 13 this month. 

He’s gone a bit deaf as well, but I think some of that may be an affectation.  He just doesn’t want to listen anymore.  It’s a bit like living with a crazy old person.  He’ll start barking for no reason and running around the house.  He hears imaginary threats. 

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I’ve been filling my birdfeeder this month.  The wild birds in my yard love it. It’s a party outside the window every day.  I’ve got all your normal wild New England birds.  There are the small black and white chickadees that are our state bird.  There are the similar looking nuthatches.  There are titmice and a flock of sparrows that come in like a motorcycle gang taking over the town.  There are mourning doves and cow birds who pick up the leftovers on the ground. 

I’ve got a pileated woodpecker or two and some angry looking blue jays.  Occasionally we’ll be surprised by a goldfinch or a ruby crested kingslet or some other unique visitor. 

This morning I got up to let Buddy out at 5AM.  As I held his collar in one hand and reached for his lead with the other I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye.  It was a big old skunk snarfing around under the birdfeeder for left overs not 2 feet from where I was standing with the dog. 

I quickly pulled the dog back inside.  Crisis avoided. Imagine how different my day could have been? 

On with the show!

Section one –

Purposeful Deconditioning -

Voices of reason – the conversation

Frank Gianinno – Cross USA world record holder 1980 – 2016

Frank’s Store:

Frank's Custom

Shoe-Fitting Happy Feet,

Guaranteed329 Route 211 East, Middletown NY 10940


Frank’s Story:

I began fitting running shoes in 1977 in Eugene, Oregon, while attending school there.   I have been a shoe store entrepreneur since 1983.  Two friends, Bob Bright and Bill Glatz, opened a running store in New Paltz, New York, in 1978 called Catch Us If You Can.  I was with them when Bob suggested the idea to Bill.  I ran regularly with Bob and Bill and helped them in their store.   I knew it was just a matter of time before I too would own a running shoe store.   Orange Runners Club co-founder, Bruce Birnbaum, gave me that chance at ownership in 1981.  The Middletown New York store was called Blisters Ltd.  Blister’s was opened for business for only one year.  The next opportunity at ownership was with Albert Weinert Jr. in 1984.  At first the business was called Frank’s Run-In Room.  A few years later we incorporated the business under the name Orange County Sporting Goods.  I became the sole proprietor in 1991.  In 1998, I changed the name to Frank’s Custom Shoe-Fitting.  In 2003, I became a Board Certified Pedorthist.  Here are the (14) key life experiences that put me on the path to the running shoe business: 1. Received the Eagle Scout Award, Troop 55, Blauvelt, New York, 1967; 2. Ran Track at Tappan Zee High School my freshman year; 3. Ran Track and Cross Country for three years at Valley Central High School in Montgomery, New York, graduated 1970; 4. Ran Cross Country during my two years at Orange County Community College, Middletown, New York; 5. Completed Army basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, 1972; 6. During advanced basic training at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, I watched the Olympic Games in Munich on television as Frank Shorter won Olympic Gold in the Marathon and Steve Prefontaine finished 4th in the 5,000 Meters; 7. Lived in Anchorage, Alaska, from December 1972 thru June 1975 during the “Black Gold Rush”, ran my first marathon there; 8. Spent the entire summer 1975 traveling from Alaska thru Canada and all over the USA really seeing the sights and getting to know the lay of our great land; 8. While attending SUNY New Paltz in 1975-76 ran (3) marathons in Buffalo, Maryland and Boston running Maryland in a lifetime personal best of 2:39:34; 9. While living in New Paltz that year I trained almost every day with Bob Bright; 10. While in Flagstaff Arizona 1976-77,  completed my undergraduate degree and learned a great deal while training at an altitude of 7,000 feet; 11. Spent the summer 1977 traveling around the west with my brother John; Attended the University of Oregon for two semesters and lowered my personal best 10K to 32:59; 12. Worked in my first store selling running shoes Sugar Pine Ridge in Eugene, Oregon; 13. Returned to New Paltz in April 1978 for the Boston Marathon to handle for my two friends Bob Bright (27) and Bill Glatz (20) where they ran 2:37:24 and 2:32:00 respectively.  The running scene in New Paltz had really elevated. While living in Flagstaff and Eugene, I really missed running in the Gunks and of course my friends and the social scene in New Paltz.  14. While in Boston I noticed a book called My Run across the United States by Don Shepherd, and started to dream about a run of my own.  Soon after Boston 1978 I knew my career path was going to have a great deal to do with running.  Everything I was doing revolved around the running lifestyle.  Nothing ever felt more real.  I have stayed close to the running sports ever since.  I will continue to do so until the day I die.

Frank’s record setting run across the USA

There were actually two Runs. The first effort began on March 1, 1979, in Santa Monica, California. During a pre-dawn rain, Frank and his friend Bill Glatz scooped up some Pacific Ocean water. They handed it to their friend and handler, Rebecca Wright, to store in their donated motor home. The water would be part of a ceremony of "West meets East" on the water's edge at New York City's Battery Park at the completion of the Run. Run #1 began from the parking lot of the Four Seasons Restaurant on Highway One, overlooking the Pacific.


Prior to this, Frank and Bill often trained in the Shawangunk Mountains near New Paltz, NY. Arguably, New York's Hudson Valley Region is one of the best places to train on Earth. The mountain trails of the 'Gunks', world- famous for rock climbing, hiking and boldering, also feature some of the best 'Rave Runs' anywhere. Currently, the U. S. Marathon team trains there. The countless miles on the carriage trails of Mohonk and Minnewaska helped prepare them for their odyssey. After a rough start, Billy decided not to continue. He departed Run #1 early on day eleven in Phoenix, only after he was sure that Frank and Becky would be able to keep up the 50-mile per day pace needed to reach the finish in 60 days.

Despite daily terrain and weather challenges, Frank's greatest concerns were physical. Thankfully, symptoms that could lead to injury would disappear, despite running all day, day after day. Much of this was due to creative shoe modifications, lower leg compression hose and an understanding of self, along with the constant help of Becky. Frank, with Becky's undaunted support and friendship, finished Run #1 arriving at New York City Hall on April 30, 1979, sixty days and six hours after that rainy start. They ran through thirteen states, covered 2,876 miles, averaging fifty miles per day. Their adventures along the way have become legendary. At the end of a brief ceremony in Battery Park, the Twin Towers looming overhead, Frank answered a reporter's question regarding, "Would you ever do it again?" by saying he was definitely going to do another run: this time from San Francisco to New York. He knew that for his next Run he would need greater financing and a larger support crew.

Four months later, Frank won the Kingston Half Marathon in 1:12:05. Then in March of 1980, he finished second in the St. Patrick's Day 10K in New Paltz with a time of 33:00. All the high mileage coming across the country paid off, as Frank enjoyed the best racing performances of his life. His only other standout performance, time-wise, was his 2:39:34 in the 1975 Maryland Marathon.

RUN #2

Sixteen months after the finish of Run #1, after a brief ceremony, Frank began Run #2 from the steps of San Francisco's City Hall. This time his support crew consisted of his family and a friend. His brother John stayed with him on a bicycle to give immediate support. He had a radio/cassette player mounted on the back of the bike, as well as medical supplies and food for he and Frank. His parents, Frank Sr. and Josephine Giannino, drove the motor home and provided all-round support. His friend Bruce Goldberg did the public relations work, contacting the media, United Way representatives and running clubs along the way. Frank Sr., a retired male nurse, looked after Frank's health and the health of everyone on the trip. He drove and maintained the motor home. Josephine created a homey atmosphere in the motor home, did the cooking and calorie counting, and kept a detailed diary of her experiences. The family dog, Brindle, was on the trip too.

Things were not easy on Run #2. On the 4th of July, Stan Cottrell of Georgia raised the performance bar, completing a well-financed run from New York City to San Francisco in 48 days 1 hour 48 minutes, an average of 64 miles per day. Frank's original plan for Run #2 was to average 60 miles per day. Cottrell's effort raised the bar. Not only did he have to better that average, but he had to do it convincingly. Frank did not have the gifts of a fast ultra-marathoner, but he did have two things going for him — he had done this before, and he had the perfect support team to do it with - his family! If he was going to average more than 64 miles per day, everything was going to have to come together perfectly.

Frank's plan was to reach Fort Collins, CO at an average of 60 miles per day. After that, he planned to average 70 miles per day. The plan was to run 2.5 miles at 10-12 minutes per mile, walk a little, run 2.5 again and repeat the process through twenty miles; then break for breakfast for one hour; run/walk another twenty miles; break one hour for lunch; then run as many miles as possible into the nighttime hours. The first four days across California were rough. Frank's pace was slow. California roads were very busy. The family was not making enough sacrifices in an effort to reach seventy miles per day. Instead of foregoing showers and parking near the finish marker, the family would drive out of its way for a KOA, in order to be comfortable after the fifty or so miles they had covered. This pace was far below the 60 miles and ultimately 70 miles that would be needed daily.

With a renewed resolve, all family members dug in and made sacrifices. In some cases, the sacrifices were painful. Frank Sr. came down with dysentery in Nevada. John's bike was run over. Bruce survived stomach problems. Frank lost three toenails. Brindle, more than once, managed to collect burrs in her fur while seeking relief during roadside pit-stops. The stories, as on Run #1, are legendary.

Suffice it to say, things worked out in the end. The group tightened up the routine. They grabbed showers when available. Only Frank bathed at the end of the day in the motor home shower. Frank's mileage routine increased. After Fort Collins, the crew awoke at 3:00 AM; Frank ran 25 miles; broke for breakfast; twenty five more miles; lunch; then as many miles as possible by dark. They reached the 70-mile goal almost every day and finished in 46 days 8 hours 36 minutes. The Guinness Book of World Records still lists it as the fastest crossing of the United States on foot.

Many people influenced Frank's decisions to do these runs. None more than the efforts of Dave MacGillivray. One of Dave's many personal accomplishments was his 1978 run across America for the Jimmy Fund. David is the director of the Boston Marathon and is a great and cherished resource.

Section two

Urgency and long term thinking -


Well my friends you have run completely across the country to the end of episode 4-352 of the RunRunLive Podcast.  Are you tired?

The next race for me will be the Thanksgiving morning Turkey trot.  I don’t like 5k’s.  You’d think I’d be ok with 20 minutes of intense effort versus a multi-hour campaign.  But, no, I’m not. 

It takes my body 10+ minutes to warm up to race effort.  If I jump in cold the race is almost over before my heart rate normalizes.  It hurts too.  It’s a foreign feeling for me now to force myself to race at tempo pace.  I’d much prefer the slow dull blade of a fat adapted endurance effort to the white-hot burn of a short race.

I’ll tell you a story. 

When I was 14 or 15 this time of year I ran cross country for my school.  We would take the school van to other small New England prep schools in within driving distance for meets. 

I remember one cold morning in November we went to an away meet.  When the race began it started snowing.  The snowflakes were those big fluffy ones that you get early in the season when winter isn’t quite sure of itself yet.  They float down like big, fluffy, wet potato chips and dissolve into anything they hit. 

When we ran in those days we ran in short shorts and a racing singlet.  I can remember those big snowflakes covering my exposed thighs as I raced, making them numb as the snow evaporated.  I don’t remember anything else about that day, just the crunch of the leaves under my Nike Waffle Racers and the numb wetness of my thighs.

I’ll see you out there.

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Direct download: epi4352.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 8:32pm EDT





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