Carman discovers reward in running
Greg Carman can’t help but smile now when he looks back on how much ground he has covered since he took up running nine years ago.
You see, the 36-year-old Genoa man has gone from being a recreational runner in search of fitness to performing on one of the world’s largest athletic stages — the Boston Marathon.
“I was running a mile or 2 miles, just slow,” Carman said about his introduction to the sport. “I used it 100 percent to improve my fitness; it was never a goal to get into long distance running, much less marathon distances.
“Then I went from running 15 to 20 miles a week and now I’m doing anywhere from 50 to 80 miles a week, much to the chagrin of my wife,” he added with a laugh. “It gets to be time consuming, I do my long distance runs on Sunday, and I’m having to start earlier and earlier just because I don’t want to miss the family.”
Carman has managed to balance running with family — he and his wife, Stacy, have three children — not to mention ownership of Clear Creek Dental in northern Douglas County. Amazingly, he never ran competitively in school (Wooster High in Reno) and only took up the sport after college.
“I’ve always liked running, but I never did it in school. I was really focused on those grades,” he said.
Carman has paid his running dues to prepare for his two fastest marathons — 2 hours, 54 minutes and 10 seconds at Portland on Oct. 8, 2017 and then 2:56:15 at Boston on April 16.
The Boston result was truly special given the a winter-like storm that challenged runners over the 26.2-mile course.
“On one hand, I was very disappointed in Boston because I wanted to do 2:45 or better,” Carman said. “When we got out there, it was snowing in Hopkinton, and with the 35 mph headwind, we were all chuckling about that. It took the pressure off to get your PR, but it put a different type of pressure of survival.”
He was still fast from the start — 40:22 for the opening 10 kilometers — and even late in the race, he passed famed “Heartbreak Hill” with a 42:59 split between the 30- and 40-K markers.
“I actually felt really good the whole race,” Carman said. “Honestly, I didn’t even notice Heartbreak Hill because this area (Carson Valley and Sierra) is so great for elevation. I asked the guy next to me, ‘When do we hit Heartbreak Hill?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Dude, you just finished it.’ And I’m like, ‘That was Heartbreak Hill? Really?’ Maybe it was the elements distracting me.”
Any runner who has been there will talk about the atmosphere at Boston, where 30,000 runners compete and fans line the course start to finish. After all, where else can an athlete perform in front of two million spectators?
“That Boston fan scene kind of gets you going,” Carman said. “I mean, even under those conditions with the wintry weather — the wind, the snow and the rain — there were still people lining the street. It was incredible, absolutely insane. I have never seen anything like that.”
Incredibly, Carman recovered enough to come back 13 days later and log a personal record half-marathon time of 1:18:39 that was good for first-place at the Reno 5000 Downtown River Run, part of the Dolan Running Series.
“I was extremely shocked; I didn’t expect to do much because I had come down with bronchitis after Boston,” he said. “I was coughing and just didn’t feel all that great. My wife didn’t want me to run, but I thought, ‘Well, let’s see what I can do.’ I just kept going and going and didn’t feel bad at all, minus the chest tightness.”
Last year’s Reno 5000 event actually put Carman on track to run at Boston in the first place. Prompted by a suggestion, he decided to run the marathon. The result was a fourth-place finish in 3:05:56.
“My wife signed me up for the Reno 5000; she said, ‘It’s a Boston qualifier, see if you get it,’” he recalled. “I had heard all the talk about hitting the wall, but then mile 20 came and I felt great. My heart rate was 130, I really wasn’t sweating all that much, so then I ran my last six miles at 6-minute pace. And the next day, I was running on the trails up here. I didn’t have any soreness or discomfort.”
Afterward, Carman received another suggestion to apply for entry to Boston from friend and running rival Brian Solomon of Reno.
“I thought, ‘No way I can get into Boston,’” Carman said. “But why not? I mean, it was an opportunity of a lifetime, so when I got the acceptance, I was really excited.”
More recently Carman was the overall winner at the Carson Valley Days 5K, hosted by Tahoe Family Services, where he ran 18:28 despite missing a turn that added approximately 200 meters to the distance he ran.
Looking ahead, he plans to join 27,000-plus runners for the 41st annual San Francisco Marathon on July 29. Carman has backed off on his training mileage due to some hamstring and Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (knee) issues, however, he still hopes to try for a personal record time on a hill-lined course.
“I’m pretty excited to see how that goes,” he said of San Francisco. “I’ll be happy if I run sub-2:50 because of the amount of hills that are involved. I would be ecstatic if I do it (personal record).
“I think the hamstring issue was due to over-training, but my wife is a physical therapist, and that’s been great,” Carman said. “She’s also been so patient with me when I go running. She’s a trooper.”
Carman explained how his focus on academics in school paid off. He graduated from the University of Nevada with a 3.9-plus grade point average and a Bachelors of Science in Biology and later graduated from the Oregon Health and Sciences University Dental School.
“I wanted to be an MD when I went to UNR, and then in the last year, I decided to try dentistry. So I applied to dental school and I’m glad I did. It’s the best thing I could have done,” he said. “It’s a wonderful career. You get to help people. You’re working with your hands all day. You’re active jumping from room to room … and you still get time to run.”
Running in Genoa and around Carson Valley is rewarding just in itself.
“It’s amazing around here with all the trails,” he said. “Running is a good sport. You’ve got to have discipline. Even when the weather outside is nasty, you still go out. I’ve always been someone who believed, if you’re going to do something, commit to it and have the discipline to keep doing it.”