Author Archives | Dallas Smith

The End of Something

It is eighty miles from my home to Nashville. Give or take a few miles. It depends on where in town you are going. Yesterday I was going to LP Field, the place where most Country Music runners park.

I got up at 3:30 a.m. drove I-40 blurry-eyed. Once parked, I headed across the Shelbly Street Pedestrian Bridge, joining a stream of runners. A slate gray morning light that earlier had hit the downtown towers now turned red. I hoped to meet a Twitter pal I’ve never seen.

I was assigned Corral 6. Always before I’d started from Corral 1 so as to lower the gun time used in state records. This year it didn’t matter. Even though I wore a marathon bib number I intended to run the half marathon. And I intended to run it slow. State record was a non factor.

Intended to run the half because on Monday I’d run the Boston Marathon, and by some miracle actually finished it, although I’d not run much prior in a couple of months. So wasn’t going to run 26.2 again so soon.

Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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Because Boston

Leaving Hopkinton

Graves’ Disease eats your muscles, those of the shoulders, upper arms, and thighs. You need thigh muscles to run.
But this story is not about Graves’ Disease. And it never will be. Damn Graves’ Disease. This story is about the 2014 Boston Marathon, the 118th running of the historic race, the race just one year after the murderous bombing. Damn Graves’ Disease.
I’m incredibly lucky. I’ve had complimentary entry at Boston for the last three years, having finished on the podium three years in a row, finishing last year just twenty minutes before the blast. I’m lucky.
In January of this year, when I began to crank up my training for the race, I realized something was terribly wrong. My speed had vanished and I was losing strength in the weight room, too. That brought blood tests in February. Then in March an endocrinologist told me I had Graves’ Disease.

Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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Where the Cummins Falls Marathoner Eats


If you travel to the Cummins Falls Marathon, you’ll be well advised to set aside a couple of extra days to see local sights and sample local restaurants. A famished runner can find a truck load of cool eating joints in Cookeville, Tennessee. But you need to know where to look. I am here to help.

One hundred and thirty-two, that’s the number Google gives me for the aggregation of restaurants in Cookeville. That’s maybe more than you’d expect for a “small town” of 31,010 souls. But the town’s activity is much larger than its population suggests: it’s a university town, with the influx that brings; it sits at the crossroads of TN-111 and I-40; and it serves as a hub city for the whole Upper Cumberland region. People come to shop, eat out, see ballgames and watch movies. I once read the dubious claim that Cookeville triples on the weekend. I don’t believe that number, but it does grow.

So, yes, 132 restaurants. That number includes the usual expected chain restaurants such as O’Charley’s, Outback, Ruby Tuesday, and so on. Most of those restaurants are strung along Interstate Drive, parallel to and one block north of I-40, visible and handy to the Interstate traveler. Ah, but I rarely go there. Jo Ann and I chose the home grown restaurants in the old part of town, in the Westside and Eastside.

Without making any claims of good taste in food or anything else, I will tell you the places where this runner actually goes to eat. For what it’s worth, here they are:

Read the full story by Dallas Smith HERE

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After the Flood

Running on what remained of Blackburn Fork Road

Josh wanted sixteen, and I had fourteen. That is, he wanted to go for a sixteen mile run, and I had a fourteen mile loop. My fourteen-mile loop went into Jackson County, a rural place where the dogs run free; and past Cummins Falls where the water runs wild.
The water of Blackburn Fork jumps off the falls and meanders down a narrow valley for ten miles before it joins Roaring River. You might call the valley a gorge; it is pretty narrow at the bottom and bounded by steep wooded slopes with some bluff outcroppings. A road surfaced with creek gravel, paved in places, follows the stream on its journey.
But I didn’t even mean to go there, down the gorge, I mean. The fourteen mile loop stayed above the valley. It merely went past the falls, staying on top. But, see, Josh wanted sixteen miles that morning.
The weather was hot, August hot. One bottle in a waist pack is not enough for such heat. The well-equipped ultra runner made preparations. I dug out the backpack I use for journey runs and such. It’s a tiny thing probably designed for the shorter torso of a woman. But it is just right. It is short enough to leave room for my regular waist pack below it. So I can go with both the waist pack for my bottle and still have a bit of cargo room in the little backpack.

Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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Recoup in the Hoop after Cummins Falls Marathon

Coupon for two basketball tickets to Tennessee Tech play Jacksonville State

Runners can’t jump worth a dime. Something about the day in and day out running that conditions the running muscles and decommissions the jumping muscles. Inability to jump is a condition basketball players call white man’s disease. Runners have it. They end up bound to the ground, able to run over it but not jump off it. No matter. Until they trip on a curb, they probably don’t miss the lost skill.
But just in case there’s a runner of the Cummins Falls Marathon still holding a soft spot for jumping, arrangements have been made. Yes indeed, tired runners can recoup and at least watch some high jumping. Turns out the Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team is loaded with high leapers that play above the rim, players who don’t jump so much as fly. In one recent game the team threw down eleven dunks. That’s some high-flying action.
Each runner of Cummins Falls Marathon – and this applies to the 5K, 10K and half marathon, too – receives in his/her goodie bag a coupon for two tickets to watch the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles take on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks the evening of the race. The game starts at 7:00 p.m. that Saturday, February 22. Just turn in the coupon at the ticket window of Hooper-Eblen Center. They’ll hand you two tickets. Easy, no hassle. After all, this is about recouping. Rest up while you watch a furious game. No charge, unless you want to buy some popcorn and coke.
During halftime, the man and woman winner of each of the four Cummins Falls races will be called to center court for recognition and congratulations by Tennessee Tech Athletic Director Mark Wilson.
In case you didn’t get enough of the Golden Girls dance team, the Cheerleaders and Awesome Eagle during the race, here’s another shot! The whole indefatigable bunch will re-appear at the game, promoting team spirit as they always do. When do they ever sleep?
After the game, if you need more rest, I’d recommend Father Tom’s Pub, on Cedar Avenue. Just show Father Tom your race number and ask for a free beer. Tell him I said I’d pay for it later. It’s worth a try.

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My Journey to a Better Life—Adana Goney

Adana Goney

Adana Goney is an avid runner

Note: Adana Goney is a junior majoring in elementary education at Tennessee Technological University. She wrote this story about how she took up running for her English class. The professor gave the paper a grade of “Excellent” and entered it into a pending campus-wide essay contest. Adana has kindly allowed me to publish the story here.


I remember the first day. There was a calm April wind that seemed to welcome me into the woods. The sun was brightly shining down on my face, and the pleasant smell of early blooming honeysuckles filled the air. After just recently losing my grandpa, I was trying to cope with the emptiness that I felt inside. I laced up my shoes and gazed at the trail before me. The first steps were the hardest. I guess that is how it is with anything; but, before I knew it I had forgotten about the sadness that had flooded my heart for months. I was mesmerized by the peace that filled me and awestruck by the beauty of nature that surrounded me. Yes, I was in love with running.

Read Adana’s full story by clicking HERE

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The Sweetest E-mail a Marathoner Could Hope For

Third place age-group award of 2013 Boston Marathon

Today I received the sweetest e-mail a marathoners could hope for.
For four months I told everyone I had finished fourth in my age division at the 2013 Boston Marathon, broadcasting it on Twitter and Facebook and even saying it in a radio interview. But all the while I knew it wasn’t true. Boston had made an error in my time. I’d actually finished third, hence a podium position. But given the tragic blast there, where so many lost so much, I didn’t feel like raising a big whine about it. The workload at B.A.A. must have been overwhelming, I figured.
Too, leg cramps had ruined my run, and I didn’t feel like I deserved to win anything. I should have run better. I accepted fourth.
But Boston did eventually correct my finishing time, which put me in third position. It was a narrow victory with only a 16 second margin.
Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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Today Is Memorial Day

Remember the fallen who carried the sword

This Memorial Day I find myself at Greer Stadium where I’ve come as a volunteer to help the Nashville Striders hold their Memorial Day Dash 5K, as I did on this holiday last year. The race starts here and then ends in the Nashville City Cemetery.

Last year I remember talking with Joe Dunkin here. We exchanged news about ultrarunner Angela Ivory. At the finish line area, I saw Congressman Jim Cooper, who’d run the 5K himself. After my job was completed that day, I drove to Shelby Park and made a twelve-mile training run.

Once the race has started, my job today is to help disassemble and stow the starting line equipment, scaffolding, fences, and so forth. Then we’ll go to the finish line down in the cemetery and after the last runner has finished, we’ll do the same at the finish line. “Teardown,” the Striders call my assignment for today.

This race meanders through a good portion of the cemetery. It occurs to me that some might view running in a cemetery as disrespectful. The Striders disagree. I do, too. The sport of running exists at the intersection of good health, friendship, charity and even love. We honor the fallen heroes when we bring these qualities to their resting place. Demonstration of our life-affirming behavior honors the fallen more than any solemn speech from a politician.

Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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Incident on Boylston Street





As the third Monday in April approaches, the memories return.

Amy Dodson and I trundle off to the packet pickup and expo in the Hymes Convention Center around the corner from my hotel. This run is a celebration for Amy. The previous year, 2001, she became the first woman leg amputee to ever run the Boston Marathon.

We pickup our timing chips, number bib, Boston Marathon tee shirt – a prize for any runner, yellow this year – and a bag of free junk. Then we head into the expo section looking to buy more junk – souvenirs and running stuff. It’s all part of the Boston experience.

Finally we head off in search of lunch, but first Amy wants to find a grocery store where she can buy some breakfast snacks. I know where one is, half a block away on Boylston, toward the very finish we’ll both ache for tomorrow.

Read the Full Story by Dallas Smith by Clicking HERE

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Cummins Falls Marathon – Astonishing!

Andrew Holbrook, 35, of Roanoke, VA runs to a third-place finish

Despite my urging Josh Hite didn’t decide to run the inaugural Cummins Falls Marathon until late the day before the race. Then he sent me a text:

“Chances are that I will run a marathon tomorrow.”

And so he did.
Good thing, too—he won, finishing in a time of 3:13:56. That’s not likely a time that will impress anyone who was not there. The course is challenging, bringing an insane climb at mile 17, and Josh had been undecided because of a recent bout with the flu followed by an injury from a fall on an icy patch. The injury healed just in time.
A gray sky, 40 degrees, and calm winds greeted the 197 runners assembled at Cummins Falls on Saturday, February 23. Runners spread across four races held that morning—a marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. Twenty eight had registered for the marathon. They knew what they faced. The course map and profile had been posted on the race’s Facebook page. [*See it here*]

“One big downer, one big upper, and eight miles of routine hell to pay…”

Half marathoners and marathoners started and ran together for the first five miles, until the former split left on Perry Smith Road. Just 1.5 miles into the run we plunged into the gorge carved by the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River, the stream that makes Cummins Falls. We ran alongside that river until it joined Roaring River—also a State Scenic River—followed it for two miles and then turned up Morrison’s Creek, which drains another narrow valley. At the head of that valley, the course demanded payback. A crushing climb called Chaffin Hill at mile 17 delivered marathoners back to the plateau on which they’d started, and to which they were bound to return.

Read the full story by Dallas Smith by clicking HERE

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