The RunRunLive 3.0 Podcast Episode 3-284 – David Mills and the Average Joe Ironman

(Audio: link) [audio:]

Link epi3284.mp3

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Introductory Comments:

Hello my friends and welcome to episode 3-284 of the RunRunLive podcast. The two bell tone means that the captain has started his approach into Boston’s Logan International airport.  Please return all seats and tray tables to their full and upright position and pass any service items to the stewardesses as they come down the aisle…

How have you been? 

I managed to finish the Umstead Trail Marathon last weekend to give me my 12 marathon in 12 months.  That’s something isn’t it?  Nothing left except taking back the Boston Marathon Finish line.  It was a very pretty course with the first 8 miles or so being single track and then rolling dirt roads for the rest of it.  Great course, great organization, a real treat.   

The park itself abuts the Raleigh Durham Airport, so it’s super easy to get in and out of.  

My goal was to beat the cutoff and finish and I did that.  The first 18 miles were great but the last 8-10 were a bit of a slog.  I’m just not fit.  Let me tell you my tale of woe.  I’ve been kinda bummed out that I can’t race these marathons, or at least handle them with style, but looking back on the year I’m frankly amazed that I was able to run as well as I did for as long as I did.  

Those last three were three marathons in just a couple days longer than a calendar month.  

I was feeling reasonably fit after doing some quality zone 2 training in December.  My ankle was a little sore but nothing I couldn’t run through.  I felt really strong in the self supported Groton Marathon that we did after Christmas.  Things were looking up.  

Then I did what coach always tells me not to.  I raced.  I went with my family up to the New Year’s Day Hangover Classic (with the Ocean plunge) as is our tradition.  I felt reasonably fit so I laid down a reasonable 7:17 pace for the 10k.  But when I got home the ankle was swollen and I had to have my daughter tape it so I could put my boots on to clear the snow! 

I couldn’t train and I had 2 marathons coming due on back to back weekends.  What to do?  So I signed back up for a pool membership in January and commenced to pool run to see if I could retain enough fitness to jog these two marathons and come out the other side vertical. 

I was a bit worried.  You can fake one marathon but what if I came up injured in the first one?  If I hurt myself on the hills in Waco how would I toe the line in New Orleans the following weekend? 

So it was with a big mental sigh of relief that I came out of New Orleans in one piece.  I had to fly to Europe that week directly from New Orleans and I took the week off.  No running.  

The Saturday I came back I tweaked my back shoveling snow.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.  This sort of thing lasts for a couple days then goes away.  But no, I was unable to train at all for the whole next week.  No core, no bike, no nuthin.  Now I’m looking at a trail marathon in two weeks and I can barely walk with the pain in my back.  And it didn’t go away.  

Getting into my car, any chair or airplane seat was torture.  I was walking around leaning to the left.  I was bent.  Another week passed.  Now I lost a week to Europe travel and two weeks to back pain and I’m starting to freak out a bit.  I’m seven days out from a hard trail marathon and all I’ve been able to do is some light pool running for 2 months,  (except for a couple marathons).  I’ve gained at least 10 pounds and I’m  a big, fat, unfit mess. 

I went in to see Eric for a massage but that didn’t help the back. 

In a fit of desperation I schedule a visit with the doctor.  I don’t mind running in pain but I wanted to make sure this back pain was not something structural that was going to leave me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life if I ran the marathon. 

My GP, who I only see for physicals every couple years is Dr. Schleemak.  He replaced my previous GP, Dr. Wong, who retired.  I’ve only seen Dr. Schleemak once before and he had his finger in my ass which is not a basis for a trusting relationship, but he was great this time around.  He said, “You should go to see a Chiropractor” And he said “Activity is good for it.”  

As soon as I got out of the office I sent an SOS to the local running community to find a chiropractor that I could trust.  I had never been to the chiropractor and basically classified them with palm reader and witch doctors.  I was not disappointed.  Several members of my running club gave glowing recommendations of one local guy.  

Now it’s the week before the Umstead marathon and I’m still walking around listing to the left about 10 degrees and my back muscles are in spasm mode.  

Friday morning.  The day before the race I get an appointment with the Chiro.  Dr. Terry starts by sticking me in an exam room and making me watch a video.  It’s like Thomas the Tank Engine for Chiropractic.  I am not amused and I am considering making a break for it.  

The Dr. pokes my back a bit and explains to me that my 4th and 5th vertebra are stuck together.  He does some contortions and pops them apart.  

I have to tell you, your mileage may vary, but I was instantaneously relieved.  I stood up straight for the first time since the injury. It was like the clouds had parted and the sun came out.  It was amazing.  The back muscles were still sore but the tension was gone.  

And he told me activity was good.  Of course I didn’t mention to either of them that I was planning a marathon the next day…

So I got on a plane and flew to North Carolnia for my 43rd marathon in my 19th state.  I can’t say that cracking my back got me any fitter but my back feels great this week and I’m back to doing core and stretching and working out.

There was no back pain in the race.  My legs, well that’s another story, but hey, you can’t have everything! 

One thing that I discovered is that when I started to get injured I began to give up a little, to embrace the inability.  But, your body can do anything if your mind is on board.  The flip side is true as well; if you lose the mental game your body can’t carry you.  

This whole 12 marathons in 12 months or even 3 marathons in 35 days ended up being a bit anti-climatic.  I was disappointed in myself.  After all, anyone can show up and suffer through an event, there’s nothing special there. 

But looking back at the trials and tribulations of the last couple years and my journey through a marathon a month this year I see it as something of cumulative worthiness.  The way I hung in there and didn’t give up stirs some pride.  Didn’t someone famous say “Showing up is half the battle?”

Now it’s back on the training bus because I’ve got a very important marathon finish line to visit on April 21st this year.  

Today we are going to talk to David Mills who was nice enough to share with me his book on how to be an Average Joe iron man. 

In section one I have an enjoyable inspirational piece on being epic.  And in section two we’ll talk about some strategies to finish your marathon when you’re not fit and the wheels come off. 

On with the show!

Section one:

Pattern breaking with Epic -

Featured Interview:

David Mills –

An Average Joe’s Path to Balancing Family, Work, and Triathlon

The Distance is not just another “how-to” book about triathlon training. It is the passionate and inspiring path for all of us “Average Joe’s” who have big dreams. It’s about how to balance those big dreams with real life. This is my story of biting off way more than I could chew when I registered for the craziest ultra-endurance triathlon on the planet, and how I balanced family, work, God and training to cross that finish line. But it’s more than just my story – it’s a training path to get you across that finish line too!

Fellow Endurance Junkies,

In just the 2 short years since my book was published it's been amazing to see the lives that is has affected!  People have set new goals for themselves, they've gotten off the couch, and they've finished Ironman Triathlons! 

When I was first writing my book, The Distance: An Average Joe's Path to Balancing Family, Work & Triathlon, I said that if just one person became an Ironman due to reading The Distance, then I would consider it to be a success.  By that measure, I could not be more happy!  There's nothing I love more than hearing from someone that my book helped to stretch themselves to accomplish something they never thought possible!  Whether it's a 140.6, a 70.3, or a 5K, I love it when I actually get feedback from a reader.  It's not always that we email authors of books that helped us, so whenever I get one, I really value it.



Section two:

How to manage a crash -


So long episode 3-284, and thanks for the fish!

I am a collector of the metal arcane.  I have a curious mind that likes shiny objects. My brain is a jumbled place of old odd things like a deranged estate sale or the attic of a well used Victorian house.  

I amazed one of my colleagues this week by telling her the story of the Bronze Age Caucasian mummies that they discovered in Western China.  

The Chinese didn’t want to believe that there were red-haired mummies buried in their desert on the wrong side of the mountains and tried to explain it as a trick of the weathering and aging process.  But, these days, you can’t escape DNA and they were proven to be Celtic tribe closely related to the Scotts.  

She didn’t believe me.  But, these days, I have Google to back me up.  The man they discovered was 6 foot 6 with a ginger beard.  The women were redheads.  They were living in Western China 3-4,000 years ago presumably along some trade route. 

The Celts had a thriving Bronze Age warrior civilization that spanned Europe.  They didn’t write much down and their culture was trampled by an ascendant Rome so we don’t know as much about them as we should.  

Here’s another Google moment for you.  Search for a picture of the Roman statue called “The Dying Gaul”.  It shows the Celts as the Romans knew them; tall, athletic warriors who ran naked into battle.  Which, in hindsight, was probably not the best tactic to use against the legionaries. 

Like most Americans I’m a racial mutt, but I like to think I’ve got Celtic genes from these great mystic warriors. 

Bringing this circuitous discussion all the way back to endurance sports – the Celts had a concept of ‘thin places”.  Thin places were physical locations or mental states where the physical world was close to the metaphysical world.  

Thin places were where the residents of one plane of existence could communicate with those from others.  Where you could converse with your dead ancestors.  Where you could see things beyond the physical.  Think along the lines of; “I saw God” or “My life flashed before my eyes.”

I think late in a long race is a thin place where we move beyond the physical and rub up against the unknown.  I think this is why we put ourselves in these states of exhaustion and deprivation.  Like a fasting monk we push the physical out of the way so that we can commune with something beyond this place.  We are rubbing thin the skin between life and infinity. 

I listened to a podcast this week where the author wrote a piece on how running, by any standard definition is a religion.  I’d go further than that.  I’d say endurance sport is a spiritual endeavor.  When you get to a certain point it ceases to be a physical act and becomes a metaphysical act. 

Don’t be afraid to take it to the edge my friends, because when you get there you’ll find me with my feet dangled over the edge grinning like a madman into the abyss. 


parasitic worm and begins to eat away at your resolve from the inside.  Your body is in pain.  You system is exhausted.  Your dinosaur brain is sending you messages of despair and hopelessness. 

This is the point where you can pull your shoulders up right.  Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Look your fear in its beady devil eyes and smile.  That smile, that small curl of the lips will set you free.  Because when you smile you have made a decision to be content with your situation.  You have accepted it and with that acceptance come serenity.  

In that moment you are stronger than you have ever been.  In that moment you are indestructible. 

I will be taking my indestructible mind and body down to Raleigh to try and make the 6 hour cutoff at the Umstead Trail marathon.  Should be fun.  A nice easy stroll in the woods with a couple hundred friends.  I wish Buddy could come. 

And that will be 12 marathons in 12 months.  If you’re in the area come on by and let me but you dinner on Saturday.  I’ll be stag again.  My wife didn’t want to join me, even though it’s her birthday.  I mean what could be more fun than celebrating your birthday at a trail marathon?  I’ll never understand women. 

Thanks for the written encouragement over the last few weeks.  I think you folks give me too much credit.  You are the strong ones.  I’m just the noise in your head.  Thanks for letting me kill some time with you.  

I’m going to change format again at Episode 300.  I’ve got a hankering to do some more comedy pieces or something a bit more creative.  I guess we’ll find out when we get there. 

As you know if you downloaded the Unicorns episode I’m running Boston for the Liver Foundation.  My Dad is losing his battle to cancer and it is what it is.  I’m going to try to do Unicorns episodes in the off weeks between the RunRunLive core episodes.  If you don’t want to listen to them, just delete them.  I won’t be offended.  My Liver page is if you want to pitch in. 

But, enough about me, what about you?  What are you going to do today to make it your masterpiece?  What are you going to do this year that is epic. 

The snow is going to melt over the next few weeks and you’ll have to crawl out of your hole and look for your shadow.  When that happens you’ll have to commit to 4 more weeks of epic-ness. 

And I will, maybe with a limp and a grimace, see you out there. 


Outro Bumper

Thanks for listening folks I appreciate your support.  RunRunLive is a free service for you because I like writing and telling stories.  

I also love to meet folks so feel free to reach out to me at Gmail or any of the other social networking sites.  I’m CYKTRussell.  And as you know that’s Chris-Yellow-King-Tom-Russell with two Esses and two Ell’s. 

My Website is and most if not all of this content is posted out there.   If you want the show notes to magically show up in your inbox when I publish a show in a beautiful HTML wrapper you can subscribe to the mailing list at my site.  It’s a useful thing if you are moved by something I say and would like to see if what I wrote is the same thing! It also has all the links to everything and everyone I talk to and about. 

Other than that, thank you for your attention, do epic stuff and let me know if I can help. 


Happy Song – Super Hero -

Other products from Chris Russell you may be interested in

The Mid-Packer’s Lament

On Amazon

On Kindle

On Audio (Read by the author) –

The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy

On Kindle

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Cyktrussell At gmail and twitter and facebook and youtube


Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at  Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at Chris also writes for ( and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad. 

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Direct download: epi3284.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 3:13pm EDT





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