Monday, April 13, 2009

Russ Says Run

Most of you know I'm a beginning runner. Actually, I've been running for about four years now, but since I'm neither very good at it nor particularly consistent, I still consider myself a beginner. A slow, easy-going beginner. Cough, cough.

Tulsan Russ Florence, however, is a runner extraordinaire. I've been following him on Twitter for awhile now, and especially since the weather has gotten warmer, his frequently occurring tweets on running are some of the few things inspiring enough to make me want to suit up, lace up, cowgirl up and hit the trail already.

Of course, this means I'm cursing Russ as my legs catch on fire on the way up the little bitty hills in my neighborhood.

Here now is Russ, ready to inspire all of you to get out, enjoy the spring weather and take advantage of the highly cool running community and resources here in T-Town. I'm sure his ears will be bright red and ringing this weekend as he inspires new runners to hit the trails and make their way up and down some hilly terrain. Russ, we're not really cursing you - we're cursing your ability to inspire us to run until our lungs feel like they're going to spontaneously combust. For that, we thank you - really, we do.

The last Saturday in October is my favorite day of the year in Tulsa. That's the day of the annual 15km Tulsa Run.

There’s something in the air that morning unlike any other time. Every year, I listen to Robert Earl Keen’s “Feelin’ Good Again” before the race. It’s part tradition, part superstition, and it sums up how I feel about that morning.

The other 364 days of the year, I participate in a handful of organized runs – some 5kms, some half-marathons, some out-of-town races.

But mostly, I run for the joy of running.

I’m something of a vagabond. I’m on the road a lot. I always have my running gear with me.

So, when someone asks, “Where do you run?” The answer is, “Wherever I am.” In the last month, I’ve run along country roads in Arkansas, in the snow in Utah, around the track at Coweta High School, around downtown Oklahoma City and on a treadmill at Saint Francis Health Zone.

That’s the beauty of running. Give me my Asics Gels, my iPod and an hour, and I’m happy.

And while the Tulsa Run tops my list of “all things running in Tulsa,” there are others:

River Parks is Ground Zero for the Tulsa running community. I’ve rarely found a place I enjoy running more. It’s flat, there’s plenty of water fountains and restrooms, and the scenery’s nice. And, thanks to the George Kaiser Family Foundation, it’s undergoing a face lift, creating wider trails and better lighting.

My favorite section is on the east side of the river, from 11th to I-44. (Can’t wait for Tom Dittus’s new restaurant at 21st.) And don’t forget the west side. Park at Turkey Mountain and head north for a scenic, peaceful run. The new trail connecting the 31st Street Pedestrian Bridge to downtown is a great addition. And I’m eager to try the trail along the old railroad that heads north from OSU-Tulsa.

Tulsa has several great running stores. My personal favorite is Runners’ World on Brookside. They’re friendly, knowledgeable and locally owned. Oklahoma Runner & Triathlete is a great magazine and Web site with calendars, features and tips. The Tulsa Running Club is an endless resource on races, trails and training.

Best of all are the runners and their rituals. There’s the Tuesday evening speed-training crew at TU. There’s “Forrest Gump” who runs for charity. There’s the guy who runs in his overalls. There’s Carter Marsh, T-shirt man extraordinaire.

And there’s Jack Wing, the ambassador and voice (albeit with a Boston accent) of running in Tulsa. If you need advice, information or word of encouragement, call Jack.

There are lots of good places to run in TulsaLaFortune Park, the Creek Turnpike trail, neighborhoods. And, there are terrific races practically every weekend.

But nothing says “Tulsa running” like the Tulsa Run and River Parks.

See you along the trail. (Or along a country road. Or on the streets. Or in the neighborhood.)


Mercedes Millberry said...

Nice interview. Wish I was a runner after reading it. Well, for about 2 seconds. I will leave that in Russ and your capable hands. I am working on creating my own program, called treadmill dancing. It is the next hot thing! Really. : )

Bobby said...

Nice post with lots of nice links.

Anonymous said...

I must put in a good word for Fleet Feet Tulsa ( as an excellent running store. When my wife and I both started training with Fleet Feet we definitely were not runners. Both her and I progressed through their excellent Running 101 and Running 201 courses which got us up to a 5k with 101 and a 10k with 201. We both trained up for half-marathons with Fleet Feet and had a great time doing so. Within the past year we both also trained for and ran our first Marathon.

The people at Fleet Feet are fantastic, and the owners, Tim and Lori Dreiling are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Our journey from unhealthy and unfit people was successful because of Lori and Tim and Fleet Feet.

Oh yeah, I'm not an employee, just a really big fan. They are in the Kingspoint village at 61st and Yale. Running will change your life for the better, and you make a lot of great friends in the process.

-Geoffrey Simpson

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Tulsa is a great town to run in. Runner's World and Fleet Feet are great customer oriented stores and I also like Tulsa Runner plus they are located right on the river trail.
Great post.

@rcrissinger said...

Okay! Okay! I'm getting back on the running wagon tomorrow. No Asic Gels, no iPod, but with a song in my out-of-shape heart. Thanks for the bit of inspiration.

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