What got you out running/walking for the first time?
Two of our closest friends, John and Monica Swisegood, signed up for the very first Modesto Marathon. They would come over on the weekends and tell us about their training, dazzling us with amazing stories of Gu and bonking. Every time they would talk about running, Ana would always declare that there was no way she would ever run, that we could count on her to be at the finish line holding a sign. The day of the marathon came and we went to the finish line to see them come through. At some point, Ana turned to me and said, “I think I want to run.” That would be the beginning of our running journey. Almost exactly one year later, Ana and I finished our first marathon. Later, the woman who would help change our lives forever, our hero and mentor Leslie Antonis, asked us, “Hey, have you guys ever run trails?” The rest is history.
What’s a song that helps pick up your pace?
I have always loved to listen to music on the trails and would have to say that “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine can always getting me moving a bit faster. That being said, I find myself listening to music much less. Today, I am more likely to not have anything playing at all, preferring to just listen to the sounds around me.
What is the race medal you are most proud of and why?
I have two that really mean a lot to me. One is the very first Beer Mile medal. To me, it represents this really incredible thing that we managed to pull off. When we formed DB, we literally had no idea what we were doing or what we were in for. We decided to have the Beer Mile just a few months after forming the club and none of us had any experience directing a race. We all came together to make what I think turned out to be a truly amazing event. From asking runners to time each other to the homemade medals, we put a lot of ourselves into that event. For me, that medal speaks loudly to how much passion went into getting us here and how amazing our friends are for believing in our dream.
The second one is my Rio buckle. While I am really proud of the distance that I ran to get it, the buckle has really helped me to see myself differently. I have been blessed to be a part of some pretty epic races, crewing and pacing for a bunch of my friends. I have seen them dig to impossible depths to get it done, and have always walked away feeling extremely humbled and honored to have been a part of their journey. Chad and I trained really hard for Javelina, so when I didn’t get that race finished, I was pretty bummed. I knew entering Rio del Lago was a very low probability race, so I didn’t bother to tell many people I was doing it. As I headed into the later stages of the race, I was really struggling with math and was convinced that I couldn’t make the final cutoff. Although I was fairly sure that I was not going to make it, I ran as hard as I could until someone told me that I was fine. I have never seen myself as the type of person who can find another gear to get their race finished, regardless of the odds. That buckle reminds me everyday that I can.
What is your dream race or location for a run?
The only thing that I am more passionate about than DB is my son. He is just the greatest guy and I am really proud to know him. He has seen us train for all of our races and has been there for every huge Dusty Bottoms milestone. While I don’t think he really gets running, I know that he appreciates how hard we work at this. My dream race would be to run a trail race with my baby boy. We haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I hope that I will get the chance one day.
What is your favorite trail to run?
My favorite trail is the first trail I ever ran. Lake Chabot and the East Bay trails have been the places where a ton of my memories have been made and I will never get tired of running there.
What’s your favorite race distance?
I would have to say that the 50k distance is still my favorite. It is a distance that I think I can race and not feel completely smoked at the end. Being able to walk into a brewery without a horrible limp is a pretty underrated thing, in my opinion.
What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you or that you have seen on the trail?
I have been blessed to be a part of more than a few trail shenanigans. I think the most recent incident would be the Uber that Chad and I took while on a training run. We were training for Javelina and had 20 miles on our training plan. The day before, I had worked all day at the Red Hills Ramble and didn’t eat much. After the race, I went home and fell asleep, never eating dinner. Sunday we headed out on our run and it didn’t take long for me to start feeling like I was totally out of gas. We were running with Gary Williams, who was training for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50. As we were on our way back, I told Chad that I was struggling and he made a joke about calling an Uber. I got to the top of a long climb and Chad informed me that he was taking mercy on me and had called for the Uber. I’m sure Gary thought we were nuts as he opted to finish the last few miles while Chad and I waited for the car. The look on the driver’s face as Chad and I, caked in mud from the knees down, approached his newly cleaned car was priceless. The phrase is now being used by us to describe a particularly tough trail. If you ever hear one of us say, “Wow, this trail looks like I might be calling an Uber,” don’t be surprised if we do.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t running?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am lucky to be surrounded by some of the best people on the planet and I really cherish every second I get to be around them. I also enjoy spending as much time as I can with my lovely wife. She is more fun than I can describe and she has been keeping my life interesting since the day we met.
Also, as the President of Dusty Bottoms, I would be remiss to not mention that I enjoy a beer from time to time, no big deal.
Who are your running heroes? Who inspires you?
I can honestly say that I am inspired by anyone who laces up their shoes and heads out for a run. Running is one activity that really takes guts, starting the second you decide to get outside and try it. Very few people feel like they belong out there when they first start, so being able to keep your head up is a monster accomplishment.
One person who really inspires me is my good friend, Thomas Lopes. Not only is he an amazing runner, he gives to our community in ways that almost no one else does. He gives selflessly at every turn and just has an incredible heart. He has been the longest supporter of Dusty Bottoms and has helped us to shape this club into what it is today. It was Thomas who suggested that we all go to Fuzio after our weekly runs to have a beer. I don’t know that we would be the club we are today without his influence and support.
All that being said, my running hero will always be Leslie Antonis. Since that first trail run together, she has encouraged and supported us every step of the way, from running our first ultra to starting a running club. She believes in everyone in a way that makes it almost impossible to not believe in yourself. One of my favorite Leslie stories has always encapsulated this for me perfectly. Ana had just finished a run and, not happy with her results, was feeling sorry for herself on the drive home. With Leslie in the back, Ana kept saying that she couldn’t run better because her legs were weak. Hearing her say that, Lesie responded with, “Your legs are very strong, your head is weak.” Ana stopped complaining and has never looked back.
Describe the moment you realized you were a “runner”.
I was lucky enough to have this moment early on. Ana and I were still fairly new to the sport and the weather had been pretty miserable. It had been raining and the sun wasn’t making it out very often. I was on my drive home when the sun came out from behind the clouds. All I could think about was going for a run, so I drove home as fast as I could, changed my clothes and went out for a few miles. That moment really made me feel like a “runner.” That feeling would last until the day I was there to witness Jen Yelland fall down and possibly break her wrist a few miles into her race, only to splint it with a magazine and ACE bandage and run another 45 miles to finish. Yep, after seeing that, I’m back to waiting.
What are your goals?
I’ve really never focused on goals. I take my running as it comes, trying to enjoy each experience for what it is. Dusty Bottoms is something I am extremely proud of and its continued success makes me feel pretty amazing. That being said, I would really like to beat Leslie at a race one day. I onced challenged her at a half marathon in Santa Cruz. I ran a monster PR, but obviously didn’t win. As I was trying to catch my breath and not vomit, everyone kept pointing and laughing. Finally, Ana showed me what Leslie had posted on FB. She had posted a picture of a giant sandcastle, saying, “Look what I built while waiting for Jeff to finish.” Admittedly, this is a STRETCH goal and I’m not holding my breath, but maybe one of these days she will get locked in a port-o-potty (anyone?) and I might eke out a “W”. #lifegoals
What’s your favorite beer?
The best answer I can give is whichever beer I am drinking with all my friends around.
And….directly from the Man, the Myth, the Legend:
I would really like that say thank you to every single member, both past and present, for making this the best running club on the planet. You have all given so much of yourselves and for that I will eternally be grateful. This club has become known for the amazing people that make it what it is, and to me that is a very big deal. GO DB!!