Racing Like Liddell

In 2017 I named Eric Liddell as my exemplar for the year, someone I wanted to learn form.

After spending time learning more about Liddell, one item seemed particularly relevant to put into practice – his approach to races.

Liddell was one of the most fiercely competitive people I have ever read about – once running so hard to win a race that he had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital afterwards. At the same time he was incredibly compassionate to his competitors. There are numerous accounts of him sharing a friendly word before races, lending his gear to another racer that forgot theirs and praising the runners he afterwards, mentioning their best aspects and how they very well could win the next time.

It seems a dichotomy to be equally caring of a competitors heart and unrelenting in his own physical performance. As I reflected more on it, and his philosophy, I have come to better terms with it. Running was never as important to Liddell as the hearts and souls of others, but he knew that doing his best at that gave him the opportunity to gain respect and influence a greater number of people on and off the track. So he cared for people first, and once that was taken care of, he raced with everything he had. I didn’t read about any account of Liddell coming across a tripped runner, as often happens in longer races, but I suspect he would have stopped to help them up first and then taken off running again, only to catch the pack and win the race.

After gaining this understanding, I decided to approach the races I ran this year in such a manner, which is very different than my normal approach of aggressive trash talk, fierce competitiveness and being a sore winner/loser at the end.

I still need some practice at it, but it was nice to be able to take something and so immediately put it into practice.

Race Report: Gobble Gobble Kids Dash 2017

On November, 2017 I ran the Gobble Gobble Kids Dash with my two oldest boys. Here is the race report.


This was the first official race my three year old ran – he got his own bib & everything. My two year old was technically too young to register, but we let him run some of the race with us as well.

This is part of me exposing them to the sport of running and what it has to offer. My kids have been watching me be a runner as long as they can remember (my two year old asks ‘are you going running daddy’ whenever I put a synthetic shirt on) and going in the stroller for just about as long (this past summer they even got to participate in their first race, riding in the stroller), but this was their first time where they got to be the runner in a real race. I wanted them to experience all the things I love about racing, but hopefully not traumatize them.

While the race ended up being pretty rough, and tears were shed – both boys already look back fondly on it (sort of like our first camping trip). Now when they hear me telling racing stories to friends, they have their own to chime in with.


  1. The kids got to experience racing – ACCOMPLISHED
  2. The kids had fun – SOMEWHAT ACCOMPLISHED
  3. Finish – ACCOMPLISHED
  4. Boston Qualifier – Not Possible – this was an untimed kids race…


What am I proud of from race day?

  • My three year old ran his first race – .3 miles
  • My two year old got to run some and cross the finish line with us


What areas could I improve for future races?

  • Securing breakfast pre-race
  • Dressing warm enough
  • Not brining gloves
  • Making it to the starting line on time


What that was out of my control am I thankful for?

  • A lot of cheering fans
  • A well produced start/finish line & turkey pardoning ceremony


What that was out of my control do I wish had happened differently?

  • Really cold morning
  • 5 places we tried to get breakfast at were closed

Race Recap

The report for a 1/3 mile race can’t be that long, can it?

Thanksgiving brought with it a cold spell. We had just had the first frost one week early and up until then we’d still been having days every week hit the 70s. That morning when we woke up, however, it was 18 degrees. It wasn’t something we were prepared for – we hadn’t had practice dressing for the cold and were about to run an 8am race.

We bundled up as best as we could in foreign winter clothes, garments we weren’t used to as Californians.

I had previously planned to run the adult race but was coming down with a cold, so opted out the day before. That meant the kids dash was the only thing on our mind that morning.

We left the house at 7, plenty of time to pick up some breakfast on the way at our favorite bagel place, who also happened to be a sponsor of the race. Unfortunately, they were closed because it was Thanksgiving. I guess that makes sense, but it wasn’t planned for.

Ok, backup plan, Burger King. It isn’t great pre-race food, but at least they’ll be open… But of course, they were closed to.

No worries, the race is happening in the historic downtown, there are a bunch of coffee shops down there that will be open because of the big race that is happening… right? 20 minutes of walking around and nothing was open.

We’re now 30 minutes to race time and my three year old is starting to complain he is hungry and cold. I messed up. My choice now is to try and get him to hold out for the race and solve both of those afterwards, or fix them now and forget the race.

Like any good dad I told him to toughen up and that he could eat when he finished the race.


We got in the car, cranked the heat and drove until we found something that was open. A fine dining establishment called Sheetz. He had a few bites of a breakfast sandwich in the car and I carried the rest so we could have it post-race. As fast as Sheetz is at making sandwiches, and as fast as I ran from our car, we got back just in time to hear the race starting. We’d missed it.

We were about 50 yards down the course and as the runners passed us I told my son we should just hop in and start running. He broke down crying. I was able to gather from a few barely-comprehensable \ words that he wanted to go across the start line. So we ran backwards on the course to the starting line and I counted down.

On your marks. Get set. Go!

We’d been practicing race starts and finishes over the summer on the track. He knew to lean down over one leg to start and to throw your hands up at the finish line. This was an immutable part of racing is his mind and to neglect it would invalidate the entire experience.

So here we are running on the course, a good 200 yards behind the lead pack. The course went straight for one block, around the court house building and then back that same street we were running down. We were far enough behind that as we neared the turn, the 12 year old boys, the oldest allowed in this race, were coming straight at us with all of the caution and calmness you would expect from a group of 12 year old boys that are amped up on holiday excitement and competitive juices.

Despite us staying to the side of the course, closest to our turn, my three year old nearly got trampled by boys four times his size. Thanks to a few stiff arms from me, he stayed safe.

Only sort of kidding.

As we rounded the court house we actually passed some people. Other young runners who had decided they didn’t want to go any further. Some parents were negotiating, others had picked up their kids. My boy was loving the experience. I’m just glad we weren’t in last place anymore.

I was so proud of my boy during this stretch. He was so focused and working so hard, but he just isn’t fast at all. Even for his age he’s kind of slow, he bounds too much and doesn’t drive forward enough. My two year old has some speed, but he’s unpredictable, just as likely to stop or run the opposite way. Maybe I can get them to train together, the focus of one and the fervor of the other would make a runner that could surpass me.

We turned the fourth corner and were looking straight at the finish line, now two blocks away. My son asked if we were almost done and I pointed out the inflatable black archway that marked the goal. I got to watch as he processed for the first time a feeling I am addicted it. The relief that comes from seeing the place where all of the pain I have willingly subjected myself to will finally end. I took his hand in mine and said ‘we can do it’ and we re-doubled our efforts.

One block from the finish my two year old, who had come with grandpa, saw us and wanted to join. There was a brief moment where I was holding the hands of my two oldest boys, running to the cheers of a surprisingly large crowd. I look forwards to moments like these in the future and hope they’ll indulge me in a few bigger races when I’m well past my prime and they’re in the middle of theirs.

Half a block from the finish and we had a breakdown.

Here is the start of the breakdown. Notice the subtleties of this image. Despite tit being 18 degrees, none of us have gloves – great parenting. I’m carrying a bag of Sheetz food during a race – something I’ve never before seen in a race. Despite both boys crying, we are still mid-stride.

My youngest would decide he no longer wanted to run (I told you he was unpredictable) and laid down on the street. I carried him the rest of the way. My oldest was eventually convinced him to run across the line though.

.3 miles – probably 8 minutes. Felt like

Afterwards they ate their sandwiches. Look at their poor pink fingers, it was really cold out.

We then celebrated, got our finisher bracelets and watched a real live turkey get pardoned. Someone grabbed a nice shot of my oldest sitting on my shoulders. By this time he was having fun.

I had been told there would be pumpkin pie cups instead of water cups at the race and so I had told the boys. There was not pumpkin pie as far as I could tell, but again, young expectations. So when we got home we had pumpkin pie, in a cup. They were so happy.

Later that day, when calling grandma, we asked how he liked the race and he only had good things to say. Mainly he was focused on the fact that he had pumpkin pie.

Data Breakdown

Along with many other ways I messed up that morning, I completely forgot to track this race. It would have been cool to see how fast my oldest boy ran and how evenly he split, but I guess I can do that next time.

What is Next?

I suspect this will not be their last race, I’ll do better being a race parent next time.

Race Report: Run-A-Muk 10k 2017 w/ Stroller

On August 26, 2017 I ran the Run-A-Muk 10k while pushing two children in a double stroller, finishing in 5th place overall with a time of 39:58. Here is the race report.


My first ever race with a running stroller. I was invited by my friend Abram (who is also my brother-in-law-in-law) who was putting together a group of dads that were going to run the race with strollers.

Throughout 2017 I got pretty good running with the stroller, bringing one or two kids on more than 50% of my runs. I had mastered the art of snack management for keeping kids occupied, I had made adjustments to the stroller to allow me to clock sub-6 miles, I had even turned my kids into an onboard cheering unit, ‘run faster Daddy’ their cry whenever I slowed down (even if because of a hill).

This race let me put that all to the test. I write this race report with my tongue in my cheek, it was a local fun race, mainly an excuse to get our families together, but I ended up winning my age division and getting 5th place overall, despite my 90lb handicap.


  1. Finish – ACCOMPLISHED
  2. Kids enjoyed it – ACCOMPLISHED
  3. Sub 40 – ACCOMPLISHED
  4. Top 3 age group – ACCOMPLISHED
  5. Win age group – ACCOMPLISHED
  6. Top 3 overall – Not Accomplished
  7. Win – Not Accomplished


What am I proud of from race day?

  • Did not run over anyone or crash the stroller
  • Really strong effort
  • Paced the snack distribution well
  • Strong finish, the last mile was the fastest of the day


What areas could I improve for future races?

  • Almost took out the archway while leaving the starting gates


What that was out of my control am I thankful for?

  • A great group of running dads
  • A race director that let me start in the front despite having a stroller & that being against the rules
  • Leftover fitness from my marathon


What that was out of my control do I wish had happened differently?

  • Out & back 10k at the same time as an out & back 5k meant I got bottlenecked behind slower runners at the end

Race Recap

I would be running with my 2 & 3 year old for this race. (~30 & ~25 lbs for those wondering) My stroller of choice is the Chariot Cougar 2. It is a multi function child carrying vehicle that can be used as a bike trailer, running stroller or sled. It weighs in at ~32 lbs, bringing my total weight to 87 lbs). I modified the handle to get it a bit higher and farther out which lets me run at full stride without kicking the back – I found that with the original handlebar I would kick the stroller if I dropped much below 6:30/mile.

Getting into position at the start of a race when you have a stroller is a bit tricky. Usually, without one, I just slip in at the front after doing some strides just before start. With the stroller, I had to line up a bit early to block out enough square footage for my profile and I couldn’t move at all once I was there. A few people stumbled over the stroller, as most people are used to shoulders marking taken space in a start corral and weren’t expecting a wheel.

Fueling is really important for longer races – don’t eat enough early and you’ll risk bonking at the end of the race. For a stroller 10k it is equally important – give your kids their snacks too early and you’re risking a breakdown at the end.

I brought three things for each child: a container of cereal with berries (it is small, so it takes them a long time to eat), a container of goldfish & raisins (their favorite, so promises of it motivates them) and a lollipop (it fully occupies their mouth for as long as it lasts, so there won’t be any crying or complaining). I had planned to use the cereal at the start, the goldfish at the turnaround and the lollipop for the final miles.

Turns out I hadn’t planned for breakfast so I used the cereal & berries pre-race and they had mostly finished it before the race started.

The gun went off and like always in a local 10k, everyone raced out of the gates at a pace much faster than they could maintain. Someone made a quick lateral and almost ate it on our front wheel, I ended lifting the wheel to move it out of the way, but that maneuver caused me to veer off course and almost resulted in me taking out the starting gate arch. I recovered though and nobody (nor any structure) went down.

The first 1/10 a mile is downhill and I was swerving to pass people. The next half mile is really flat and I used a bell I had brought to call people out of the way. I worked my way until I realized the leader was just a bit ahead of me. I hadn’t planned on being that close to the lead but though that now that I was, I should see if I could grab it.

That is when we hit the 1 mile long uphill that climbed just under 200ft. Normally I do really well at uphills, but the thing about gravity, is it slows you down more the more weight you have. Having a 90 lb stroller in front of me down by over a minute per mile, and the other runners started passing me back. I crossed 180 beats per minute and was really working hard.

The next mile was downhill though, 100 ft change, about half as much as the uphill I had just come up. As soon as I crested the hill my speed picked up and I started passing those runners back. I then attempted a very advanced move: putting away the empty snack containers, and getting out a new snack while holding a 5:40 mile. Worked like a charm. Only problem is that snack was supposed to be used after mile 3 and I was only at mile 2.

By this point of the race I was in 5th place and as it would turn out I wouldn’t pass anyone or get passed for the rest of the race.

Mile 3 and we turned around. The race had started on a road but eventually dropped to just the bike lane & sidewalk. Cars were still using the road, and despite them being careful, it meant that crossing the line was a major no no.

Heading back, I was in the same bike lane I had just been, except now I was running straight at the 129 people. Thankfully most people were very kind and hopped up onto the sidewalk to let me keep running – hopping up onto the sidewalk with a stroller wasn’t really possible. I did pass the other stroller-dads and we gave each other some good cheers.

The path back was the exact opposite, up the smaller hill first and then down the bigger hill. I held steady around 180 bpm and kept chugging along. Sometime around mile 4 I handed out the lollipops and prepared to give it all I had to see if I could catch anyone else. I gave it a good race effort & ended up crossing sub-5 a few times on the downhills.

I was zeroing in on the 40 minute mark, which was 6:30 per mile. I had thought would be appropriate based on a recent marathon effort at 6:30 per mile – this was shorter and the equivalency charts predicted me at 6:00 per mile, I added ~30 seconds for the stroller.

At the finish chute I got bottlenecked behind two 5k runners. They had slowed down to celebrate and I didn’t want to ruin their moment by passing them, but the clock was ticking down, 39:50, 39:51…

I ended up crossing at 38:58 and hitting my 40 minute goal. I guess it wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t, but I’m glad to be able to have come in just under time.

Post race, the kids go the experience the joys of all sorts of snacks and a medal they took turns wearing. I think this was a great way to expose them to racing and it went along nicely with a race they watched me run earlier in the year and a kids race they would both run later in the year.

Here is our full group, four dads, 8 kids it tow and two others on the way. A great time.

I ended up winning my age group, here is me with the other age group winners post-race.

Data Breakdown

I’ll keep this analysis brief.

My pace bounced around a good bit, but that is because the extra weight of the stroller made uphills hurt more than usual and downhills help a bit more. The fastest speed I hit was 4:47 and my fastest mile was the final one, which came in at 5:56. Average was 6:28, which is where I wanted to be.

Heart rate wise, I quickly spiked to over 180, which is where I want to be for a 10k. I let off the gas a bit as I peaked the first hill, after that brutal climb with the stroller, I was glad to catch my breath, but shortly thereafter started working my way back up. From mile 3-6 I stayed pretty steady in the high 170s for an average of 177. I think I could have been a bit higher.

What is Next?

I really liked doing a stroller race, it was fun having the kids with me, the stroller added some extra mental stimulation and the handicap meant I had more competition to run with in a race I would have handily won otherwise. I’ll definitely consider it in the future for local races I’m running for fun.

A word of advice though, not all races are good for having a stroller. This one worked out because there were only ~150 runners and it very much had a local vibe. The website mentioned it was stroller friendly and we contacted the race director ahead of time to clear it. I’d suggest doing the same if you intend to run fast with a stroller as opposed to staying in the back, which is what some races expect.