You hear it more and more nowadays, “We met on the Internet.” Such is the case with me and Dave Dehart, 46 of Waukesha, Wisconsin. We met, virtually, on a some-what regional message board, probably 6-7 years ago. In 2002 we met in-person at the Jingle Bell run in Madison and again at the Boston Marathon. One of my highlights from this sport was crewing for Dave during the Ed Fitz 100k in 2003 - his performance that day would land him on the U.S. 100k team.
If you happen to read my other blog of daily ramblings, you may know Dave as “Double” – a somewhat frequent commenter. On that blog I “joke” that I have a favorite male and female runner, both who happen to run for Team USA Minnesota. In reality, my list of “favorite runners” is much longer. No matter the length of that list, you can bet that “Double” is very near the top. In this era of not wanting to step on any toes, he’s not afraid to tell you what you need to hear – which is usually something along the lines of “suck it up.” He’s best described as “Old School” and has a great way expressing himself. It’s hard to describe, but his last answer provides a peek into his one-of-kind style.
I hope you don’t mind another trip across the border into Wisconsin for this edition or stride-for-stride. (Photo by Alison Wade courtesy of New York Road Runners.)
When and how did you get involved with running?
I started running when I was 14 as we were just beginning a cross-country program at our high school. I had played three years of football, but wasn’t cut out physically to make our powerhouse team. I was our number one guy from the first race, so I had reason to stick with it.
Being from Wisconsin, most readers probably aren’t familiar with you. What are some of your running accolades that you’re most proud of?
At the tail end of '98 I got back into running as a way to feel better and lose some weight. I went about a half mile. My goal was to finish a 50k by March of '99 which I did. I ran a couple more on about 25 miles a week before I got the bug to run the Ice Age 50 mile in 2000. In February of that year I ran a 3:10:58 marathon and then began experimenting with long runs and and ran 55 – 60 miles a week for a month. I ran Ice Age in 7:23 and was 18th at Nationals there. That really fired me up. Two months later a friend wanted me to train for a marathon and I ended up running 2:45:19 and placed 7th overall at Lakefront. I was estatic. I then began to take it more serious.
Running a 2:40:56 at Boston in 2002 at 40 is something I am most proud of because I did it on a shade over 50 miles a week. It was then I decided if I could get serious and build on my ultra experience that perhaps I could qualify for the 100k team.
In 2003 you represented the U.S. at the World 100K Championships in Taiwan. What was that experience like?
In 2003 I was aiming at breaking 2:40 at Chicago. I was running very well, from 5k to the 100 miler. I ran Al’s 8k run in 27:03 during hard training and felt poised to meet my goal. A few days later I had the chance to join the 100k team when a couple guys couldn’t make it. I had run a 7:43 at Ed Fitz to have a time out there. They asked me to go and I accepted. I was in shape, made some adjustments and flew to Taiwan.
The experience was great. Staying with all the athletes, meeting new people and seeing a different country was very enjoyable. However, the race was a catastrophe. We started at 9 AM and it was quickly in the 80s with very high humidity. People were dropping like flies and I was struggling early. We only had 5 guys and after two dropped, Bob Sweeney and I assured each other we would finish no matter what. I finished in the dark, well in the 10-hour plus range, but there was no way I wasn’t finishing.
More recently, you’ve struggled with some health issues. Can you describe them and how they’ve affected your training/racing?
I recognized in early 2005 that something was wrong. The symptoms were just like the over active thyroid issue I was treated for with radiation in 1990. I was tested and sure enough that was it. Sparing the details, my body was raging. My resting heart rate was 80 – 100 all the time. Finally after going into cardiac arrhythmia in January of this year and spending time in intensive care, we figured we should consider radiation treatment again. My heart would go out about every three weeks. I was treated in April and my thyroid virtually ablated. I got through the Ice Age 50 and then began finding which dose of thyroid medicine I needed. I am now back to normal, but not running much yet.
Even with your struggles, you still manage to run, race and do ultras. What motivates you?
I continued to run because that’s what I do. It was very difficult feeling bad and running 10 minute miles to boot. However, on rare occasions I’d have a good day and I knew deep down the ability was still there. I just needed it fixed.
In general, what is your training philosophy?
I’m in the Daws/Lydiard camp. The really long training runs made me strong and I love to train hard and fast on the track. Basically I like to run longer runs for 3-4 months and then go hell bent for leather for two months. I run progressively faster in workouts and race as hard as I can leading up to a big race. I don’t really worry about the mileage count then. Oh, and when I’m tired I don’t run.
What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
I really enjoy running and I don’t mind running long alone. My speed was always decent so that helped when moving up to the ultras. As far as weaknesses go I enjoy racing workouts. I guess another area of weakness is I don’t stretch, eat well, watch my weight, change shoes often, cross train, lift and I abuse tobacco.
What are your PRs (age)?
880 – 2:03 (16)
2 mile – 9:53 (18)
3 mile – 15:18 (17)
5k – 16:49 (43)
8k – 27:03 (42)
10k – 34:25 (22)
Half – 1:15:46 (40)
25k – 1:18 (22)
Marathon – 2:40:56 (40)
100k – 7:43 (41)
100m – 18:34 (41)
What do you consider your best/favorite distance?
The marathon. It requires everything in the running arsenal and is tough to pull a good one.
Do you have a favorite local and/or national race?
My favorite race is the Ice Age 50 miler. Boston is king nationally.
What are your fondest running memories?
Tying for first in the mile with my younger brother in a high school dual meet. Surviving that damn 100 miler was something I won’t soon forget. Winning the Walleye 5 miler in Fon du Lac was unexpected and a joy to do at 40 years old.
Who were your running heroes when you were growing up?
Ron Daws, Frank Shorter, Emil Zatopek, Dave Wottle, Park Barner, John Walker, Edwin Moses, Kip Keino, Brendan Foster, Jeff Nelson, Malcom East, Henry Rono to name a few. Oh, and Jack Foster was a legend.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
When racing, it is best to race even splits rather than run as hard as you can until you die. You can race well at any distance on 10 miles a day. Runners who dress like super heroes always have more to say than I am willing to listen to.
In summary, I have always enjoyed running. I love the freedom of movement. I’d run thousands of miles for just one magic day. Like most, there are plenty of things I never did to meet my expectations and I failed a lot. I’m just a running bum. Just out trying to rub a few sticks together in hopes of getting a little fire going. As long as I still desire to beat people I can’t see myself getting away from boot camp mentality yet. Running is not holistic to me. It’s not weaved into any of the other things I do. So when I do get around to doing it, that’s when I concentrate on it. Here’s what I have today, so let’s bring it. I don’t think about it when I mowing the grass. When I mow the grass that’s what I’m thinking about.