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September 29, 2010

Steve Burrell - October 2010 Runner of the Month

Written by Dena Evans
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BurellSteve Burrell lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where he owns a ReMax real estate company, and comes home to a wife who works as a professional photographer, three kids (freshman in college, senior in high school, and 6th grade), and two dogs.  Originally born in Iowa, Steve returned for what he thought was a limited time after some stretches living in different spots, including Atlanta for high school and a period running a restaurant in Crested Butte in Colorado.   Almost two decades later, he’s still there!

This Sunday, Steve is running his third marathon at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Coach: How did you start running?

SB: I got into running when I was getting disgusted with how I felt, low energy levels, everything.  I started running with a guy I knew who ran 1000 miles a year for 30 years, but only 850 last year (ankle injury). Pretty soon, I got into some local racing, hooked up with some guys who organize races, ran Grandma’s [Marathon in Duluth, MN].  I’m doing my third marathon this weekend, and have dragged my brother in law from California to do it with me.


Coach: Who is your running role model?

SB: My running role model just changed this year.  KJ [the 1000 mile per year guy] was it for years. We used to have these tough guy contests - we would run until it got into the 10s and teens with no shirt, until about December, when we’d have to put a shirt on.

This summer, I met Luis Escobar, who lives in Santa Maria, California.  He is the guy who did the cover artwork for the book Born to Run.  My wife was speaking at this event, and dragged me along.  Luis took me out on a 2.5-hour run, and really energized me.  Got me turned on to a whole new part of running. He is just an example to me of what running should be.  We’d be out there, not have any idea where we were at, and came across a place we just could not have gotten to if we weren’t running.

I love that part of running.  Watching the world resolve itself in the morning.  Sometimes I run through campus [University of Northern Iowa is located in the Cedar Falls / Waterloo area] and I can still see the debris from the night before, see the world the way it is going to be the next day.  One time I did a ReMax 5K at a convention in Las Vegas.  I came across a guy I knew from home coming out of the casino when we turned around at Bally’s.  Here we are running early in morning, and he was still finishing up from the night before.

Coach: What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?

SB: It was several years ago, when one day it all came together.  I was still running 5-6-7 miles at a time. I run from the YMCA in town 90% of my day runs from there, so coming off the trail one day, I hit an uphill and I realized I still had energy and just kind of went.  We [his midday running group] have a rule that we never let anyone die behind us, but if you feel good you can let it out.  That was when I finally got it.  I finally passed the “needing to do it for health reasons,” and broke through to the “freedom” side of it.

The other one was coming over that ridge with Luis, running up sand dunes, and around that corner.  That was what reinvigorated me this year.

Coach: What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?

SB:  The coolest part is how adaptive it is to your schedule.  There are other programs that allow you to plug in what you are doing, but I enjoy having the ability to easily go in and put in runs [non goal races], and how it incorporates them right into the schedule.  It wasn’t complicated to do; it was very straightforward.  I found you guys when I signed up for Phoenix [P.F. Chang's Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona].  I had run for 8 years before that, and had trained for Grandma’s and blew up - limped in.  And then afterwards, Kate came on and talked me through things.   It was a really nice personal touch to have the combination of computer and an actual person following up.

Coach: What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?

SB:  If I had my choice I wouldn’t run with stuff on me, like 15 water bottles, lots of gear, etc.  To me, I have a certain pair of socks I wear for races; a shirt I know doesn’t chafe, that I’ll wear.   I guess for me it is all about the stripping away, a reverse ritual, to get rid of everything else.  On long run mornings and race mornings, I’ll eat an English muffin with peanut butter, fruit, gel, two cups of coffee, and an hour before the race, I’ll eat more fruit and eat some Chomps.

Coach: What is your favorite place to go for a run?

SB:  I would have to be out in Santa Maria, but actually, my favorite place to go is someplace I haven’t been.  I‘ll set up my runs to go down streets I haven’t been down before, and when I travel, I use running to recon new places, find out where everything is. I love being able to go out of your driveway and go a new place, some people say I took the road less traveled.  For me the whole point is that I got out and just took the road.

Coach: In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?

SB:  I jinx myself when I do this!  This weekend, sub 3:30, hopefully qualify for Boston now that I am “old.”  Next year, Leadville 50.  If I qualify for Boston, I probably should do it, but the Leadville 50 is my next big goal, to take it to the next level.

Last modified on March 31, 2011
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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