The Run Down - The RunVermont Blog

Meet the 2011 Pace Team, Part II: Rowly Brucken & Bob Sullivan (3:30)

by leandre on April 1, 2011 · 1 comment

in Meet the Pace Team

If you’re a regular reader of The RunDown, you’ve learned a lot about  our fantastic  2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon pace team already, thanks to the introductory post each pacer submitted.  Now we’re excited to bring you more detailed posts from each leader.

We have a great team of leaders; we hope you enjoy getting to know them. In May we will post detailed information about where and when to meet your pace leader on Race Day (as well as an opportunity to run with them on Saturday, May 28.)
Rowly Brucken (3:30) :: Introduction post :: email

Drawing Inspiration and Lessons from Unexpected Places

I vividly remember training for my first marathon in 1990 as a senior at the College of Wooster in Ohio. I had never run more than eight miles at a time, and being totally ignorant of long-distance training, I ran a 15-mile race and won a brick (provided by the race sponsor) for placing. That was an event I entered on faith–faith in my ability to push myself and define a new personal “art of the possible.” It seemed only natural to me to enter a marathon a month later. Most of the Columbus Marathon is a blur to me now, both because of my nervousness and my goal simply being to cross the finish line with enough consciousness and energy to smile for the camera. Pacing was unfathomable over such an unknown distance, as was the concept of tracking mile splits. My goal was four hours, and it was not until mile 25 when I looked at the race clock and almost fell over…I would finish in under 3:15!

Since those twin introductions to long distance running, I have had many sources of inspiration to provide me with First Principles of running. Here are some snapshots: My close friend, training partner, and race nemesis Todd, who taught me to compete with abandon and have much fun afterward. An unknown ultra runner who corrected me at the 50-mile mark of my first 100-mile race when I said, “Half way done!” “No,” he said gently, “about ten percent.” Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, who once told a rookie who celebrated after scoring a touchdown, “Son, act like you’ve been there before.” Lesson taken to heart about triumph, grace, and class. Running the 2004 Vermont 50-miler in mud over my shoes, horizontal sleet, and slippery trails made me laugh and cry at the same time, but I had to believe that each step brought me closer to the finish line. Dropping out of the Pinhoti 100-miler last fall, my first ever “did not finish” at any distance, forced me to reckon with notions of failure and giving up. And soon…if not already…knowing that age will slow me down inevitably, and to accept that reality with a positive attitude and a sense of peace. And running around my little town of Northfield and hearing Girls on the Run participants whom I have coached call out smiling, “Hey, Coach Crazy Legs!” The sound makes me pick up my step a little as I wave back.

Running has opened the door to such insights while also giving me the gift of solitary quiet time. I cannot repay it for the mental and physical gifts it has provided a once shy, awkward and skinny kid who was often picked last for teams on the elementary school playground. But I can try to help others achieve their own running mysteries and goals, including at Vermont City. So I dedicate this column to all of you, whether in my pacing group or not. I want to know your stories, your aspirations, and your challenges. That way, I can find additional inspiration and insight, to add to the list that others have provided to me over the years.

I know I am also supposed to provide training tips, although I usually hesitate to do without knowing more about the person who is asking. But I want to share my three commandments of marathon running: 1. Drink at every aid station; 2. Aim to pass the person ahead of you, so that if he or she still beats you, it will take no small amount of effort; 3. Be grateful for your presence at the starting line. The ability to stand with your fellow runners in that quiet, solitary time before the gun goes off requires weeks of hard training, pure luck, good health, the support of family and friends, and an internal fire that fuels your body for an activity that evolution has prepared it to do over tens of thousands of years. Run well, my friends, and enjoy the journey.
Bob Sullivan :: email

3:30 Pace Leader Bob Sullivan

(Introductory post and second post all-in-one!)

Hi, my name is Bob Sullivan. I’m 47 years old, married, and a father of three boys.  As a former touring tennis professional and coach, fitness has always been a way of life for me.  At around the age of 32, I woke up one morning and found myself about 40lbs over weight…UGH!  Disgusted with how slow I felt, I began running.  I became quickly hooked!  As much as I love other sports, the tranquility I feel when running is unique.  Over these past 15 years I’ve run 22 marathons, running under three hours each of the last four years at Chicago, Philly, NYC, and Wineglass. Pacing has always been rewarding for me and I find it particularly easy. I’ve paced friends at many marathons over the years and I’m an official pacer at the New Jersey Marathon. I will again be running Boston this year before pacing the NJM on May 1st.

I am very excited about my first year as a pacer at the Vermont City Marathon!  I talk a lot when I run, so I hope I don’t bother you!  Most of what I talk about has to do with staying focused, reminding you why you trained your butt off for this, and how we are going to meet our goal!  The pacing strategy on this course will be to run by effort, meaning certain miles may have us running a bit faster than 8:00, while other miles will have running a bit slower.  The course will dictate the effort.  Piece of cake!!

I hope to meet some of you at the expo on Saturday.  I will arrive early before the start Sunday and will jog an easy 10 to 15 minutes if anyone wishes to join me.  For anyone who is interested, I like to get up about 3 hours before the start of my races.  I’ll eat a bowl of oatmeal, half a bagel with jelly, and drink a bottle of Gatorade.  During races I usually take in a Gel every 35 minutes or so…I’ll have some extras for those who need them!

One thing I try to pass on to many of my students that I coach is the importance of slowing down on most runs.  I’ve found over the years that the most common mistake runners make is simply running too fast on most of their runs, particularly their long run.  I’ve found that I’ve improved quite a bit once I learned to run easy on my easy day!  This has allowed for me to run much higher quality speed sessions on my speed work day.  Improving my marathon time from 3:58 to 2:58 has come from:

1.  Staying injury free through adding some cross training.

2.  Adding volume safely over the years.

3.  Running easier on easy days and hard on hard days!

4.  Losing weight.


6.  Patience.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to email me. I look forward to hearing from and meeting you this year.  Let’s get it done!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 denis bernicky May 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

Closing in on the marathon! The excitement is building and from here the start time temp looks good and a mostly overcast day is predicted. Looking forward to running with the pacers.

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