WM: 57 years old, 2:42 in Boston last year was only 6 minutes off your marathon time in 1995 – 16 years prior. How much more work is it for the desired result?
RENO: I’m not putting in the quality I did back then, just the miles. My recovery takes longer after hard workouts now. Last winter I tried to put in 3 hard workouts a week and was over trained after a month.
WM: #1 Masters USATF Runner in the Nation 55-59. What are your upcoming goals?
RENO: I never try to chase times. I go after the competition in front of me. If I’m competitive, the times will come. This has been my philosophy from the beginning. This year 2 good Senior runners, Norm Larson and David Cannon, moved into the 55-59 age group. I will be ranked ahead of them if I beat them, and if I don’t, I’ll try harder the next time!
RENO: Here in New England the marathon is Boston and Boston is “the race”. It’s tough not to get caught up in the excitement.
WM: When did you get started running?
RENO: I started out in football as a freshman in High School but by the spring I was doing the 440. The cross country coach was always watching when we did our mile warm up for football. I was first every time. One day the cross country coach had the football coach give everyone a 200 yd. lead and I still finished first. My sophomore year all the football players got bigger and heavier, but I got taller and skinnier. After 2 weeks of getting pounded, I said no more. As I was changing out of my uniform for the last time, the cross country coach approached me and asked if I wanted to run. Two days later, I won the JV race. After two weeks of winning those races I advanced to fourth man on the varsity. We always had great teams.
WM: What is your fondest marathon moment?
RENO: My fondest marathon memory was my only marathon win at Cape Cod. I was in my late thirties at the time and was doing it as a long training run as part of my attempt to qualify for the trials. I found myself in first place at 16 miles. No one passed me after that.
WM: 1st marathon? Were you immediately drawn to the distance?
RENO: I was in the Marines and they were having the first Marine Corp Marathon. There was a 10 mile race in Camp Lejune and the winner would get an expense paid trip to the marathon. The longest race I had run to that point was a 10k and my longest run was 12 miles. I won the 10 mile race and then did 2 more 10 milers. I figured it was free trip another race, so what the heck! I ended up with a 2:44 and was back running 2 days later.
WM: Who helped shape the runner and person you have become?
RENO: Mr. Fox, my cross country coach, Mr. Skutka, my track coach and Mr. Regal, my football coach all had a part in forming the athlete and person that I am today. They themselves were great athletes in high school and college and truly believed and taught all their athletes the necessity of always doing your best. They also emphasized good sportsmanship.
WM: Any breaks from the sport and if so what usually draws you back to it. If not, what is your longest streak of # of days run?
RENO: I have run competitively from 1970 to the present. I love to run all distances competitively. I once ran every day for a year just to try it!
WM: Tell me a little about what you are doing with Outside Interactive?
RENO: I’m really excited to be a part of this new high tech concept. I’m assisting Gary McNamee, the creator. We have 2 products. One is a pre-paced DVD of different courses and races. The second product is software. You can pop the DVD into any player, pick a pace of 7, 8, 9, or 10 minute miles, mute it or keep the natural sounds, choose which mile to start from… and run! You feel like you are running on the course you are watching. The software goes one step better because it comes with a foot pod and USB stick which enable the video and you to move simultaneously. In other words, when you slow down, the video slows down, and when you speed up, so does the video. The courses we currently offer are Beach to Beacon, Falmouth, the Charles River and Central Park. We will be introducing the Boston Marathon this September. The Boston course will also include a special DVD featuring Bill Rodgers running the Newton Hills and talking about the history and his races on the course. You can jump on the treadmill, run with Bill and hear all this great info!
WM: What is your favorite workout pre-marathon to gauge your fitness level?
RENO: There is a hill nearby that is about ½ mile up and a ½ mile down. When I am in great shape, I do 6x 1 mile in under 6 minutes with a 1:45 recovery.
WM: Favorite Quote.
RENO: “Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” – Steve Prefontaine
RENO: My wife runs and is a very good senior runner. My life is quite complete to have a partner who loves running as much as I do. I coach her and have her running faster than when she was in her mid-40s before we met.
WM: Thoughts on todays pro runners vs the days of Bill Rodgers and Amby Burfoot?
RENO: I’m a firm believer that competition makes everyone run faster. Bill Rodgers, Amby Burfoot and Frank Shorter would be in the thick of it no matter which decade. They are competitors and will always run and train to win! The difference between now and then is the depth. There is just as much talent coming out of the high schools as before, but they don’t push as much at the college level and on the roads. The dropout rate is also higher at each level. When I was in high school we had at least 10 to 15 kids that could break 5 min for the mile down to mid 4:20’s. That depth continued into college and on to the roads, and we weren’t the only school with that kind of talent.
WM: What is your one runner Pet Peeve?
RENO: One pet peeve is runners that do the marathon to just do it and barely survive and the coaches that help them. A marathon should be respected and only done when prepared and enjoyed. A ½ marathon can be done very easily by running and walking. Why spend 5 to 6 hours to do something that hurts you so badly that you can barely walk? Running should last a life time and be for fitness; it’s not a fad.
WM: Thoughts on Boston Registration Process being changed and perhaps modifications?
RENO: I had been pushing for this process for 2 years now. Boston is about QUALIFYING and running with the best but that being said, I also believe that all people should have a chance to run it once in their lives if they are fit and can enjoy the race. Boston should have a small lottery of a 1000 for this. The charity runners should have a separate Boston Marathon if they have not qualified.
WM: Are you excited to turn 60 and set some records?
RENO: Yes, I am! I believe the 10 year age categories give new life to our running as we age and a new beginning. I have something to look forward to and enjoy!
WM: Favorite Marathon and Why?
RENO: The Boston Marathon! There is something special about Boston because of the qualifying time and for me personally. The week before the Boston Marathon in the Stirrat household is pretty wild. Boston is charged with an excitement you can feel and almost touch. I want to be the oldest person standing in the first coral one day!
WM: What do you attribute the ability to get after it later in life? Diet? Determination? DNA?
RENO: Now that is the million dollar question and it’s like a puzzle with many pieces. Yes, having good DNA helps, as does diet, determination and opportunity. The X factor is the right mental attitude. There are a lot of Olympic world class runners from the 70s and 80s who don’t run. Some it’s physical but for a lot it is the mental fatigue and the ability to accept that we all get slower with age. I use to use the 5 minute rule: if I didn’t break a 5 minute pace from a ½ marathon down, it wasn’t acceptable. Well, life, work and family get in the way, so you must adjust. I have had to adjust my time stands as a 40 year old and as a 50 year old. My effort remains the same.
WM: Seriously, how does it feel to beat guys younger than you in a 5K, HM, Marathon etc?
RENO: I don’t see age in front of me; I see runners. In what other sport can you line up with Olympic athletes young and old and actually compete against them? The other day I did a road mile. It was my first one ever and my first mile in over 30 years. At ¾ of a mile there were 3 women ahead of me, a Kenyan and two local women. I went after them and loved it!!!
WM: What advice do you have for someone that wants to take up the marathon later on in life?
RENO: Go for it, but don’t rush. Get some coaching so you are ready and can enjoy the experience and continue running for the rest of your life!