Mark Bourgeois

markbourgeoiscucb2021When did you begin running and why?

Surfing begat running. In the summer of 2015 I had just come back from an overseas surfing trip for which I’d dedicated the previous six months working like crazy to get in shape. Somehow I reasoned that the best way to keep this new fitness was to set another ridiculous fitness goal. Why not run a half marathon? At the time I had never run a race of any distance and was running one, maybe two miles at a time. Tops.

I signed up for a race that, um, was seven weeks away. Searching online, I couldn’t find any seven-week or “couch to half” training plans. Odd. So I picked a 12-week plan, the shortest one I could find, and started at week five. The race came and somehow I did fine: ran the whole thing, didn’t die.

In training for that half, the chains of my running habit grew from too small to be felt to too strong to be broken.

How did you find out about DCRRC and when did you join?

After signing up for a May 2018 marathon, I was daunted by the prospect of training alone through the winter. I researched online, checked out a few clubs and chose DCRRC. If memory serves, I signed up in Dec 2017.

What are you training for right now?

Richmond marathon! I love Richmond, it’s got great architecture, murals and carbohydrate products. Oh — the race is excellent, too. Well organized, solid crowd support and great swag.

What is the toughest run or race in which you have participated?

The 2017 Army Ten Miler. At the start the announcer said, “Enjoy your 77-degree, 76-percent humidity race, runners!” After that fiasco I swore never to run another October distance race in the DC area again (and haven’t). My body has never felt as sore as it did after that race.

What is the most important lesson running has taught you?

Well, I just mentioned “Never run an October distance race in the DC area”…just kidding…sort of…

As far as life lessons, actually two.

1. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Or as Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “If you can recognize and accept your pain without running away from it, you will discover that although pain is there, joy can also be there at the same time.”

2. But first, coffee.

What is your favorite route in the area?

Probably Ross Drive, as much for a moment as for the route: there’s a stretch on Ross Drive proper where you hear no sounds made by humans. No cars, no airplanes, no beeps, no whirs, no cell-phone yelling — nothing. It doesn’t happen every time but it happens often enough. To be in the midst of a major city and hear nothing more than the rustle of leaves or the rumble of Rock Creek in flood: I’m often lost in thought on runs but on Ross Drive I listen.

What race day traditions do you have?

After marathons I make it a point not to throw up but I’m guessing that’s not what you’re looking for. Before a big goal race I write my wife’s and kids’ initials on the backs of my hands with a Sharpie. When things get tough in the race I tap their initials and think of them.

What is your favorite post-race meal?

I am borderline obsessed with classic, simple bread. If you told me there was a fresh-from-the-oven loaf of Classic from Sub Rosa or of Country from Tartine waiting for me at the finish line I’d PR every time. Sadly, these scenarios are not on offer in DC, so typically it’s bread with avocado or eggs or with avocado and eggs.

What is your proudest running moment?
In training for that first half marathon I faced a long run of 11 miles. So far! Like, sail-off-the-map far, “here be monsters” far.

I plotted a one-way route on the W&OD from Herndon to a gym near my house. A “burn the boats” strategy: I’d run away from the car to make it too far to tempt a return, plus I’d leave the phone in the car. No “call of shame” option for wife to pick me up. Gym or bust.

Well, I ran that 11 miles, and then to drive a pine stake through the heart of my doubts I ran a bonus mile. I did it! Back in the gym I ran into a coach told me she never has her new runners go that far in training for a half. Whoops.

What is your favorite running book and/or movie?

“Poverty Creek Journal,” by Thomas Gardner. I come back to this book often, to reread passages that express so beautifully the shared experiences and interior reflections of runners.

What is your life like outside of running?

Well, right now the answer is, “I can’t, I’m marathon training.” The rest of the year I’m a golfer (and amateur golf historian) and a married father of three. As for work, ever hear the expression, “death by PowerPoint”? I fix that for senior executives and sales leaders and, yes, I have plenty of work.

photo credit: Rodigo Vellon


Upcoming Events

May Happy Hour/Snowball Series Awards Ceremony
Thu, May 23rd, 2024, @6:00pm
DCRRC Women's Distance Festival 5K and Run After the Women 5K
Sun, Jun 9th, 2024, @8:00am
Book Club
Sun, Jun 16th, 2024, @4:00pm
DCRRC Hugh Jascourt 4-Miler
Fri, Jun 21st, 2024, @7:00pm
DCRRC Age Handicapped 4-Miler
Thu, Jul 4th, 2024, @8:00am
DCRRC Bastille Day 4-Miler
Sun, Jul 14th, 2024, @7:00pm
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The DC Road Runners Club is a member of the Road Runners Club of America and is also affiliated with USA Track & Field. We provide a year-round schedule of running events that offer everyone a chance to participate regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability.