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Fred Dedrick came to Craftsbury for the first time in 2011. He is the Executive Director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), a philanthropic initiative dedicated to assisting low income workers find good careers through job training partnerships with various industry sectors around the country.
Fred moved to Boston this past March.
What's your running background and why did you come to Craftsbury?
I've been running pretty steadily since about 1975. I ran track in high school, but did not compete in college. There was a war going on at the time that I was interested in stopping, so that's where I put my energy. After graduation, I met a great bunch of folks in Philly and caught the marathon bug. We formed a club and named it after Haverford College, where our club leader, Tom Donnelly, was the coach. A few of these guys are still my best friends, and I run with them whenever I can.
I came to Craftsbury to see if I could stretch myself into better shape. I had turned 60 and was running pretty well, but wanted to get better while running in a beautiful place. There's always more to learn about training: nutrition, pacing, drills, form and passion - all of it. I was also tired of running alone and impressed that Lynn Jennings was the camp director.
As a first timer: What did you expect?
I didn't know what to expect from Craftsbury, but I was excited about having a whole week of just focusing on running with a group of people equally passionate about the sport. I was a little worried that I would not be able to keep up with the marathoners [ed.note -Fred attended marathon week] because I had given up marathons 25 years ago and was more interested in track and cross country. Craftsbury exceeded my expectations, but also revealed some of my weaknesses. Although camp started out pretty modestly on Sunday, by Wednesday I heard myself say, "This has been a great week!" and was only half joking. We had run, biked, swam, hiked, did a relay race, and a tough circuit of drills - twice! We even tried yoga. In the evenings we learned about nutrition, different philosophies of race preparation and actually touched an Olympic medal. As a group we were kidding each other, helping each other finish workouts, and talking about our goals for the fall.
Business travel is tough and you do a lot of it. How do you fit in your running?
I always take my running gear when I travel and inevitably find great places to run. Thirty years ago it was tougher and some people (and car drivers) thought you were a bit weird, but now most hotels have a jogging map, and once you convince them that you can actually run six miles at 6 AM, they will recommend a trail or bike path that is well-lit and safe. I don't like treadmills but will compromise if the weather is really bad or there's black ice. It's important to organize my trips so that I can run in the morning before the day gets started; otherwise there are too many variables that can interfere with the "after work" run.
You focus on track and cross-country. Leg speed! What do you like about shorter distance racing?
After 5 years of marathons and marathon training, my knees and hamstrings were beaten up. Masters track looked like an attractive option. As it turned out, I met a whole new bunch of runners who were also into track and cross-country. When I was 45, I got a second and third in the National Masters Indoor Championships. I was sixth in both the 800 and the 1500 when I turned 50. We won silver at the National Cross-country championships as a 50-59 team.
I really enjoy competing on the track, especially indoor, because of the intensity of each race and the camaraderie among people my own age. I needed goals and the Masters track community has All-American standards for each distance for each age group as well as age-graded tables to convert your time into an equivalent time for a younger runner. This really helps my motivation.
Does your experience of camp impact your running the rest of the year?
Craftsbury comes to me frequently. I evoke our morning runs on the trails where I felt young and strong, had no idea where I was, but felt I could run for hours. I conjure up those feelings when I'm struggling to get out the door on a very cold, dark morning. It's a comfort to know that Craftsbury is there and people are protecting it so that it will be there for many generations.
You live in downtown Boston. Where do you run?
I have developed four main courses in Boston. My primary route is a 6-mile loop around the Charles River that starts at my apartment, cuts across the Common and over the Arthur Fiedler Bridge to the Esplanade. I can easily make it a 10 miler by going past the BU boathouse and adding another bridge.
On other days, I jog down to the Harbor and run behind the Wharf Marriott and the Aquarium and over the bridge to the Federal Courthouse, behind the Institute for Contemporary Art, then out to the Legal Test Kitchen and back the same way.
Some weekends I run straight down Commonwealth Ave and cut over to the Fens and do the loop that takes me to the back of the MFA.
In good weather I'll drive to Franklin Park and do the cross-country course a few times or run around the perimeter of the golf course.
What surprised you about running camp?
I was surprised by the expectations for three workouts a day and delighted I didn't dwell too much on this but just went out and followed the program.
Best and worst parts about running?
I love the people I've met through running --- easily the best thing about running. My least favorite is getting hurt by just trying too hard. That seems very unfair. You should only get hurt when you're lazy. Instead you sometimes get hurt when you're working hard at getting better.
You've got 50:00 to get in a solid workout. What's your choice?
I can jog from my apartment over to Beacon Hill and run 10 hill repeats on a variety of long and short hills where I'm pushing hard on each but especially in the last 20 meters. They vary in length from 40 seconds to a minute plus, and when I'm done I feel like I've put some real money in the bank that will be withdrawn when I need it in the last 200 meters at the Mayor's Cup cross country race in Franklin Park.
Best thing you've heard yelled at you while running?
When I was 49, I ran an indoor mile at Haverford College during the Mid-Atlantic Indoor Masters Championships. I really wanted to break five minutes because I knew I might never do it again. For some reason, we had Peter Taylor announcing the races. Pete really knows masters track and he was describing my race as I came up from 4th to 3rd to 2nd and he announced "and Dedrick is closing fast on (somebody whose name I forget) and will catch him!" He really pushed me and I hit 4:59.7!
What are your running goals?
Long term: I want to be competitive in the mile and the 3000m/5000m when I turn 65 in June of 2013.
Short term: I want to get my 5K time under 21:00 this summer and have a much better cross country racing season next fall.
Running gets under the skin, stays there and can change lives. Have you experienced this?
I always tell people that running saved my life. That's a bit dramatic but it could be true because in my mid-20s I was working hard and drinking harder --- smoking too. Running got me out of the bars and into a group of people that became my closest friends. We helped each other grow up and avoid stupid mistakes (at least most of the time). Now, running keeps me young and adventurous. I want to try new things and go places and learn more. Besides, the running community is filled with a delightful mix of humanity - imperfect in the most wonderful ways.
Best lesson learned at running camp:
I learned I need to have my entire body conditioned for both training and racing. The conditioning drills were such an eye-opener (as well as an ass-kicker) because they showed me where I was weak and inflexible. I was reminded that running requires that my entire system work efficiently to propel me forward, especially when the lactic acid builds up.
Favorite thing to consume after a tough run:
I really enjoy a cold beer (or two!).