Boston Marathon Spotlight Athlete
At age 29, Doug Slater is a bit wise beyond his years. There is a curious resiliency to him that you don’t find in very many people, young or old. His journey to Boylston Street has taken him through some literally unexpected turns, and a couple of attempts at qualifying that were hampered by poor race logistics.
Last year during the Charleston Marathon, Doug was on pace to hit his target. However, he missed a turn due to a sign being blown over by the wind. It didn’t help that one of the volunteers that was supposed to be monitoring the turn decided not to show up, and another one had taken a seven-minute bathroom break.
“It ended up being 23 miles. It was just an expensive long run.”
To their credit the race organizers offered him entrance to another race and Doug ran a successful qualifying race at the Myrtle Beach Marathon last March. He credits part of his success to a local Knoxville runner named Evan Lindauer who he took turns with leading into the wind on the course.
“There was a good 9-mile stretch where we were right into the Atlantic wind.”
He finished Myrtle Beach in 2:59:26 just 20 seconds behind Lindauer, qualifying for the 2019 Boston Marathon.
Doug followed his success at Myrtle Beach with Iron Man Florida. However, he experienced a setback in mid-training after he broke his collar bone during a routine training ride. He ultimately decided to push through and completed his Iron Man in 12:01:00.
Why did Doug start running? What brought him to it?
“I like to summarize it as achievement. I like to achieve things. Running is one way to do it. Last year it was ‘qualify for Boston,’ then ‘do Ironman,’ now it’s ‘qualify for New York.”
His first ever run was in the Boy Scouts, where he ran a mile in over 9 minutes. It might be interesting to note that Doug would later find out that his v02 max is sitting at 69, which (for those unfamiliar with the term) is the upper limit of oxygen in milliliters per minute that he can utilize while running. The higher this number is, the faster your potential for top end speed is. His is around the equivalent of David Beckham in his prime.
So why wasn’t he running faster?
His lactate threshold was relatively low. The good news is this is something that can be increased with training, which Doug was able to improve after focused training with Knoxville Endurance. But, more important than the training that Doug has done to improve himself is his attitude, and it’s his character that ultimately seems to be behind his ability to get back up when he’s been knocked down.
“It’s tempting to let running be the source of my self-esteem…my identity as a Christian really drives me.”
When questioned about what words Doug had to offer those who are as driven to achieve as him, he had this to say:
“It’s an impossible dream to find meaning in achievement. It’s gonna dead end eventually. You have to look somewhere deeper than achievement for self-worth and meaning. There’s always something greater to achieve, and there’s always somebody faster than you, and if you try to find meaning in achievement I don’t think you’ll ever get there.”