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Living a Dream: Rounding For Home

Dave Doerrer, Ryann Krais Hierholzer, Garry Cox, Dustin Imdieke (see their contributions below.)

Take heed the changing landscape of your dreams as one dream morphs into another Leading us all to ask-

How can I encourage myself and others to hold fast to our dreams even if we’ve  lost track of  them or forsaken them Or found them somehow unworthy of the persons we were meant to be

You can choose one dream over another You can throw in the towel on one or all of them Hopefully along the way you learn, as many athletes have, that victory lies in simply showing up laying it on the line, physically, mentally, emotionally, and, according to your lights, spiritually

When you have done that, you have done your job And that is its own reward GLC

Or maybe you feel that time has run out on your dream(s).  Now that’s where Dave and I can help. You’ll get Dave’s take on this, as well as that of several of our ALTIS friends, in a moment. But this is my time, and I’m using it to share a dream of my own-to write a book of poetry and share it with the world.

From The Waters of Appanoose County published December 13, 2016, seventy-four years after I was born. “I just have this childhood memory of a time when I would wake up with some nebulous imagery that had to be shared at all costs. Kind of a cross between an epiphany and an ‘aha’ moment. Or maybe a brainstorm. My mother, Zoe, was the target of my early morning outbursts. And she seemed to give them almost as much imoportance as I did. But as centuries passed (kid years are way shorter than dog years) my mother started calling these outbursts ‘poems’. Whatever! She seemed to delight in them. So I delighted too.”

It seems all the good things in life range from fragile and short-lived to robust and eternal. Dave and I have chosen robust and eternal, even though we may be neither at this stage in our lives. We simply believe that dreams are sacred and not to be given up on.

Garry: Dave, you have always been the idea man, and I’ve been the writer. It’s time to turn the tables. Put some of your wisdom down on paper.

Dave: It certainly has been a wonderful trip “Living the Dream”! As the Olympics finished I wondered who would be done and who would take a break, come back ready to give it another 110% again.

It kinda snuck up on me that I was thinking similar thoughts. Not at all happy with my ability to compete with my peers-what do I do? Can’t train harder, I’ll break down. Can’t rehab, nothing is injured or broken. How do you fix OLD?

You can’t…so the only thing that makes sense is to be thankful! Not everyone gets to be old. I can move pretty good for old. I’m thankful!

Exercising is not near as fun as training. I do miss the idea of training, competing and hopefully kickin’ someone’s butt. Oh yeah, be thankful!

Also thankful for all the wonderful people at ALTIS! You are very special people. Kind, caring, dedicated, hard working, good folks. It has been a dream come true hanging out with you.

God bless you all!

Garry:  Ryan, you strike me as ‘A mystery wrapped up in an enigma’. Back in the day, we would have called you ‘deep’.

Ryan: So, I’ve never before been described as “a mystery wrapped in an enigma”, although after our chat I understand the angle you are coming from. I appreciate that you’ve named me “deep” after experiencing my layered, dinner-time conversational questions. Those questions, which you explained to be “one’s you’ve never heard before in all your years” aren’t really due to some deep internal processing of the world, but rather just an interest in learning a little more about the wiring of the person I’m speaking with. Allowing someone to talk is the easiest way for me to understand their experiences, passions, emotions, values, etc. This attribute/skill/whatever was one of the first things that Kyle (Hierholzer), now my husband, was drawn to about me. After co-coaching a fitness camp we would spend long dinners together (also in a Thai food restaurant) and he’d be entertained by answering a wide range of questions. Some were shallow and some got a little more personal depending on the flow of the conversation, but the point of the matter is that people enjoy reflecting and I enjoy getting a little closer to the core of

So how does this tie into my experience with ALTIS? I would say the answer is two-part. First and foremost, I do believe Kyle and I grew closer through these dinner conversations. After about a year of dating, it became time to close one chapter of life and move onto the next. Both separately and together, we decided for ourselves that  ALTIS would be the best option for furthering both our careers.  ALTIS had been on my radar thanks to other sources, but had Kyle not accepted a position here in Phoenix I’m not sure that I would have pursued the move either. All I know is that God’s sovereign hand played a big part in getting us both out here.

Secondly, although I’ve spent years asking other people questions for the sake of understanding them better, I never really had developed the ability to ask myself hard questions for the sake of understanding my own experiences, passions, emotions, and values. I came to  ALTIS with a hip injury, an obsessively task-oriented frame of mind, and a feeling of deep emptiness. With the encouragement of some  ALTIS coaches, athletes, the church, and other outside resources, I began to learn how to slow down and ask these ‘deep’ questions of myself. It lead me to a deeper relationship with God and freedom from the chains that kept me bound in an eating disorder and rigid lifestyle. I’ve always enjoyed listening to a friend’s heart, but until recently I never understood how to listen to my own. So thank you, Garry and Dave, for appreciating this characteristic and unknowingly being involved in my growth through your friendship.

Garry: Dustin, you walk amongst the giants of your sport. How did you get stuck training Dave and me?

Dustin: There was a period of time a few years ago, that I asked myself the same question every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  “Is today the day an old man suffers a heart attack on my watch?”  And there was the time I thought Garry actually did!   Fortunately, it turned out to be nothing more than a harmless hamstring strain. In spite of this, I am honored to have coached Dave Doer and Garry Cox, both track and field sprinters who happen to be 70 plus years old. As you can imagine, coaching two grey beards to sprint was an interesting puzzle that presented many unique challenges.

My first question when I agreed to coach Dave and Gary was, ” What sort of training was I able to do with these guys?” But I knew that they wanted to be sprinters, so I hypothesized that we could train them similarly to all of the other sprinters at ALTIS, and that’s where we started.   We commenced by teaching the warm-up and how it should be performed and held these guys to a standard of excellence.  We cautiously began our speed development training by introducing acceleration and dribble runs.  We also began to implement strength training, and general strength and medicine ball exercises were staples of the program.  Joint health dictated that we limit our exposure to multi jump training, although I am positive Garry has springs in his legs.  After a few cycles I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  Dave and Garry’s performance and health were improving under a program similar to what I would write for a 25 year old sprinter.  Sure, there were major modifications in volume, intensity, and training density, but the guiding principles, and training items were remarkably similar to many of the other sprinters at ALTIS.

We’ve all seen the way Grandma and Grandpa move when they start getting older and they don’t have the same ol’ spring in their step.  At the onset of our time together Dave and Garry both presented several of the postural and movement pattern dysfunctions you would expect from a person in their age group.  However, over the first several training cycles, I saw noticeable improvements in their posture, movement quality, and balance.  These performance improvements coincided with improved joint function, soft tissue health, and overall well being.  I believe that a major influence of these improvements was due to the warm-up scheme we used and how it was performed, both of which were inspired by Coach Dan Pfaff.  This warm up scheme included a series of multi planar movements performed at various speeds and sizes.  As I watched Dave and Garry’s  movement patterns and their health improve simultaneously, I witnessed the power of the human body and how proper movements lead to proper healing.

So on we went, training geriatric short sprinters.  Similar to the other athletes at ALTIS we worked on developing Dave and Garry’s mechanical models for accelerating and upright sprinting through a variety of runs and dribble runs over 10-40m.  Occasionally, if I was feeling adventurous they would even run as long as 150m.  I’ve never seen that much huffin and puffin!  But you know what; they got better at everything we did.  Their mechanics shifted, performances improved, and consistency increased in all major training items.  I even started using pictures of them when giving presentations to sprint coaches showing the commonalities between them and elite sprinters.  Now, I don’t need to tell you that Dave and Garry were not replicas of Ameer Webb and Andre DeGrasse.  But they were operating on the same general technical models as these guys, just modified to fit them.

All that is not to say there weren’t bumps in the road. Dave had joint issues and Garry was prone to soft tissue injuries, so we were a bit hamstrung from the jump.  But we found that by doing lower volumes of work, resting more, and keeping the training density relatively low that they suffered very few injuries and were able to train on a Plan B schedule when injured.  The thought that the health of the athlete is a top priority was never far from my mind, and this was a driver in many of my decisions working with Dave and Garry.

I learned many lessons in my time with Dave and Garry, but what I really learned was the joy and energy that chasing a dream brings to a person. It requires a good deal of mental fortitude and resilience on their part to train the way they do.  Still, every morning for two years, I knew I was going to get the very best that Dave and Garry had to offer.  In the end it wasn’t about becoming an Olympian or besting their competition, rather they were their own competitors and they were travelers on the never ending road toward self-improvement.  This is why it was a true honor to coach Dave Doer and Garry Cox, two legends in my book.

The Waters of Appanoose County Available on Garry’s next competition 2/18/17– USATF 2017 Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships Share this blog on

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