Name: Tom Rodgers
Years running at the time of profile(2001): 3
Occupation: NASA Consulting Engineer and President of SVI Communications
How many miles a week do you run? 40-75 (used to run up to 100 before starting triathlons)
How did you come to join Bayou City?: When I first started running in 1997, only casually at first, I met Anastasia Auourik while consulting at Baker Hughes. She talked me into attempting a marathon and said BCRR would help with that and that the folks werea lot of fun. She was right on both counts.
My proudest running accomplishment is: Actually, it's a "mixed accomplishment": running a 3:38 marathon within Ironman Europe after a 5:08 112-mile bike and 1:04 2.4-mile swim. This was nine minutes faster than my marathon goal of 3:47. I felt strong all day and was able to kick hard the last 10K to break 9:59 for the whole Ironman.
My favorite training run is: It's a tie between White Rock Lake in Dallas, two loops for 20-22 miles (which you can mix with 4-5 loops on the bike the same day); and Town Lake in Austin, two or three loops on rolling packed cinder hills for up to 23 miles. Even though I do most of my training in the Houston area, these two just seem more scenic, have more challenging hills, are less crowded, and more "runner friendly" than Memorial Park or the Clear Lake area where I live.
My favorite race is: I probably had the most intense experience in Ultraman at Kona, Hawaii (1999 and 2000), simply because it is so long and requires so much training and teamwork (6.2 mile swim, 261-mile bike, 52.4-mile run). Plus the race staff and 35-40 annual participants are truly an "ohana family" in the Hawaiian spiritual tradition. Qualifying for Ironman Hawaii was also a great honor this year, like the US Open or the Masters if you're a golfer, the true Mecca of triathlon. For just running, I still have a special place in my heart for the Houston Marathon, where I cried after finishing it the first time in 1998, and where I first made friends with the great folks at BCRR.
My best distance is: Ironman (9:59) and Ultraman (25:13) for multisport, Marathon (3:20) for running.
I run because: I run because: I started because I wanted to lose weight, formerly an
overweight, sedentary computer geek, but it's turned into something more, a kind of "divine obsession." Especially in the ultradistance races, within the suffering it's as if the personal ego just dissolves, and you are left moving along through space free from earthly restraints. Sometimes I wonder why I do it all, at least so much of it. I think in the end it's a mystery, and I'll keep trying to improve until I actually figure it out, which may not be until I die.
My philosophy for life is: Courage, Beauty, Simplicity--the whole of the Ageless Wisdom can be expressed in these three words.
My next goal is: Accomplished all goals for 2000: qualifying for Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, broke 10 hours at Ironman Europe, and finshed top five in Ultraman, first finisher over 40. Still haven't qualified for the Boston Marathon, though, and would probably like to go back to the Ironman in Kona again in 2001. Also want to do Race Across America on a bike (~3,000 miles) and bring an Ironman race to Texas in 2002-2003. Invited to climb mountains in Tibet with Dr. Erik Seedhouse (2-time Ultrman champion), performing high-altitude experiments for NASA with other endurance athletes--fun city.
Favorite training food: Phil's bars and Clif bars (the only natural bars), pineapple-bananna-orange-strawberry-blueberry-rasberry-grape-eggwhite-protein-powder smoothy (that's right, just about EVERYTHING you can fill a blender with and make a mess, perfect after a 3-4 hour run or 5-8 hour bike).
When I'm running I think about: Heart rate pacing (I always wear one for training and racing), running form, per-mile/kilometer splits (only in a race), nutrition/hydration, how lucky I am to NOT be in an office or boring business meeting right now, that female runner in a sexy tri-suit just ahead of me--wow!
The best running advice I could give would be: In training, do 80-90% (maybe even 100%) aerobic work--only do speedwork after a good base period and don't do any at all if you are not already in shape. Even if you just don't feel like it, skip the trip to the track. Sometimes you have to train slower to go faster in a race. Get a heart rate monitor and find out what "aerobic work," "maximum aerobic function," and "lactate threshold" really mean. Learn to think of "time and intensity" instead of just piling up mileage, like "60 minutes at a aerobic pace" or "15 minutes warmup and 30 minutes at lactate threshold" instead of "I'm going to run 7 miles today, or 50 miles this week," or whatever. For a race, good warm up beforehand and always start out slower than you think you should, and of course this is especially true for the marathon.
People would be surprised if they knew I: Only three years ago, I used to smoke, drink and eat way too much. Only five months after quitting, starting to run, and losing a lot of weight, I did the Houston marathon in 3:32. Nine months after that, I did an Ironman race in 11:41. I had no previous experience in any endurance sport, no high school track or cross country, nothing but golf and football.
The top thing on my dream list is: Travel in space, which is likely before I turn 60, perhaps to a space station or at least the moon. I'll be too old to go to Mars. Climb a Tibetan mountain, very possible in the coming years.
If I could have been anything, besides my current occupation it would be: Screenwriter (had offers, but pays less than running SVI and computer consulting), Ironman Texas race director (quite possible by 2002), Space Colonist (when I was a kid, I figured we'd be able to live permanently on the moon, just like in the movie "2001"--too bad it hasn't come true yet).
Other hobbies besides running: Writing, literature (sci-fi, ancient mythologies/religions, modern spy thrillers), film-making (foreign, independent, popular, digital web-based), music, cycling/swimming (which blend with running in triathlon).
I would love to spend the day with: The Dali Lama, Christ, Buddha, Ghandi. I guess we can choose to be with entities like this spiritually anytime we choose, if not physically.
The most embarrasing thing that has happened to me is: If one is honest, you probably don't want to know, nor would I tell you in a public forum--check with the NATIONAL ENQUIRER. After successfully finishing the double-marathon at the end of Ultraman this year, I came close to passing out and losing my bowels during a blood pressure test showing only 80 over 40 (really no blood pressure at all). Fortunately, I made it to the men's room in time, and after eating some energy bar, felt much better--almost embarrassing, at least fearful of it, having to go the hospital in an ambulance after making a big mess. Never DNF'd or needed the medical tent before--I guess this is my big phobia.
The most profound thing that has happened in my life is: It's tempting to say the stories in this profile, but really, I think the most profound experiences are yet to come.