Legion Profile: Rod Hemingway

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This profile, a dossier of Rod Hemingway, originally appeared in our March/April 2015 edition.

Name: Rodney Hemingway
Age: 38
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 147 lbs.
Nickname: Rod

Rod Hemingway leading a pack at a 2015 Twilight meet. Photo by Scott Mason.

Residence:  Halifax, MA
Day Job: Home Care Occupational Therapist and Distance Coach for GBTC
High School: Dirigo High School, 1994
College: Tufts University, 1998
Club: Greater Boston Track Club
Average Miles per Week: 45

Notable PR’s
XC: 24:38 for 8K
Track: 14:55 for 5k, 31:19 for 10k
Roads: 38:28 for 12k, 1:13:38 for 13.1

Races: Franklin Park XC (any meet), New Bedford Half Marathon, Beach to Beacon 10k, Santa Rosa Marathon

Workouts: 20-22 miler on Boston Marathon course after taking commuter rail to reach Ashland or further. 5-7 x 1200 with first 800 @10k pace, last 200 @5k pace

Places to Run: Middlesex Fells (Medford, Winchester, etc.), Burrage Pond Wildlife Sanctuary (Hanson), Snowmobile trails into the mountains (Dixfield, ME which is my hometown)

Running Shoe: Saucony Triumph.  A killer shoe that helps pad the miles and keeps your feet feeling fresh.

Workout Songs: The wind!  I do not run with music.

Book: The History of the Boston Marathon by Tom Derderian.

Hobbies: Photography, art, playing harmonica

Running Intangibles
Training Philosophy: I have only one person to train for: my future self.  I want to be able to look back on my training and know that I put in the work to put myself in the best position to succeed.  Regret sucks.  I do not want to let my future self down.

Prerace Ritual: Multiple bathroom breaks. 2-3 mile warm up.  I hyper-focus on my socks, ensuring that there are no wrinkles or creases that could annoy me during the race.  Sometimes you will see me fidgeting with my shoes on the starting line.  Ironically, it helps me focus for the race by channeling my nervous energy.

Career Lights
High: Finishing 6th at NCAA Division Three XC Nationals in 1997 at Franklin Park.  I was in a position to take the lead at 5k and felt fine enough to do so, but my coach begged me that “Whatever you do, do NOT take the lead” because of a former teammate who had done that at Nationals and it did not work out so well for him.  I maintained my position, outkicked a 4 minute miler from Mt. Union College, and placed the highest of any athlete from my school at Division Three Nationals before or since.

Low: Missing 13(!) years of competitive running due to myriad injuries.  I just got so frustrated with running while hurt that I turned running into an occasional hobby rather than a serious endeavor.  I took up cycling for a few years and rock climbing for a few more.  I resumed regular training in January 2013 as I signed up for the New Bedford Half Marathon after a test 9 mile run in December 2012 went well (no injuries).  I was injured again last year for about 4 months due to a pesky hamstring and 6 weeks at the end of 2014 due to poor kneecap tracking issues. Injury free now!

Goals:  To run 2:40-45 at Boston 2015.  Last year’s Boston went pretty poorly as I just squeaked under 3:00 at 2:58.43.  I would love to regain my previous footing as a fairly fast runner, but missing 13 years makes that pretty darn difficult.

Proudest Moment:  The National Qualifier meet the week before I finished 6th in the country in XC.  The qualifier course in Maine was covered in so much snow that they delayed the race several hours so that they could get some of it off.  Well, in the spots where they managed to get the snow cleared, it just turned to mud so they just packed down the rest as much as they could.  I went out with the other top two athletes in the race (Rob Mitchell from Amherst and Justin Freeman from Bates).  Justin and I fought tooth and nail for the lead through 4 miles with Justin literally leaning on me at every turn.  He was not a light runner either! I slowly ran out of gas with Rob and Justin pulling away from me in the last 3/4 of a mile with Rob snagging the win over Justin with me back in third.  It was the first time that I aggressively went for the win.  While I lost, I was proud of how I fought against these two top runners amidst crappy conditions.

Best Distance Runner of All Time: Haile Gebreselassie. Such an incredible competitor and champion.  The dude was just so consistent.  Even when he lost races he was still running the #2 or #3 time in the world.

Local Running Role Model:  Kasie Wallace Enman. I have known Kasie since our running days in the NESCAC in college.  She was always quick but has only become faster since graduating to the point that she is now a World Mountain Running Champion and Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon.  She demonstrates what determination, prioritization, and the will to keep working at it can do for someone.

Oddest Thing That’s Ever Happened to You on a Run:  Back in 1996 my dad was watching the Atlanta Olympics and saw an athlete profile of a guy who trained while pulling a tire behind him.  Well, my dad thought, “That’s great! Rod should do that!”  My brother would have none of it.  So my dad and I created a contraption involving some old suspenders, rope, and a car tire. I was off!  I ran around my town pulling a car tire up to 8 miles at a time. I did that 2-3 times per week.  I received a boatload of very strange looks.  My dad’s co-workers heard about it and suggested I start up a pedicab business in town.  If only Kickstarter existed back then!

Advice for The Legion: I have two pieces of advice. First, the best given to me has been by my colleague at Greater Boston, Tom Derderian, which is this: Winning is good.  However, only a few can win, but the desire and the effort at trying to win is just as important. We get better collectively as a result.  Second, always consider your future self when you set up your training. When attempting to talk yourself out of a run or a needed day off, consider your future self. If he would be pleased, do it. If not, don’t. There is no one more important in your running than that future you.

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