CARMEL VALLEY — There are milestones and then there are milestones.
While some can boast they have hit an age milestone, and others a marriage milestone, Dave Dial reached an unusual milestone of his own on June 24. The former Carmel Valley resident, who recently turned 58, reached a lifetime running mile of 190,000, something that has taken him 40 years to accomplish.
“I’ve been told fewer than 10 people in the world have achieved 200,000-plus,” he said from his home in Groveton, Texas. “I don’t want to jinx myself but the way I figure it, I will reach the 200,000 mark in the spring of 2020.”
That’s a lot of miles if you think about it; the average distance from the earth to the moon is about 239,000 and 190,000 divided by 239,000 is .794. In other words, 190,000 miles is just over three-quarters of the way to the moon and that’s how much Dial has put on miles-wise.
Of course, it has taken him four decades; he runs 15 miles a day but breaks that up to a morning run and an afternoon run.
“Running is just in my DNA, something that I’ve loved for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I can’t do without it, it’s in my soul. Since I began logging my mileage at age 15, I’ve lived primarily in Texas, Massachusetts, or California with most of those miles coming in San Diego, Carmel Valley to be specific.”
Born, raised and now back living in Texas, he said he fondly recalls his days in California where he did a lot of running and coaching.“I used to run in Carmel Valley, daily and coached (running-wise) at Carmel Del Mar Elementary, Rancho Santa Fe Middle School, Torrey Pines High School and La Jolla Country Day School during my tenure there,” Dial said of his 20 years residing in San Diego County.
But for the past seven years he’s been helping on one of the three cattle properties his dad maintains outside of Groveton’s city limits. He said Dial ancestors have been in the area since 1836 making him the sixth generation to “reside” there.
“My Dial ancestors were Lumbee Indians, originally from North Carolina,” he said. “I’ve been helping my dad out with his cattle properties due to the fact he’s now tending to a younger brother of mine who has advanced multiple sclerosis.”
Dial said his dad first asked him to come to Texas in 2011 to help during the horrible drought.
“I only expected to be here a couple of years but now it’s been seven,” he laughed. “It’s hard work but I do enjoy it. I never know what I’ll be doing or working on in any given day; you have to be a Jack of all trades.”
An early runner
No stranger to running, Dial has been hitting the pavement since he was a young boy.
“When I was 6, we’d go into town in Groveton, and I’d ask to get out of the car and run home during the return trip,” he said. “It was all dirt roads back then, so it was safe enough and I simply loved the feeling of running. I especially loved running on trails through the nearby Davy Crockett National Forest; with so many trees close, I got the sense I was ‘flying past them.’”
He was even dubbed the “Trail Boss” by some friends in Carmel Valley because he was a fixture on the trail-bike path along 56.
When he was involved in competitions, Dial racked up quite a few accolades, and awards that he can boast about including running one of the fastest times in US history for juniors — 19 and under — per his 2:24:18 in the 1980 Boston Marathon.
Not running related, Dial also won two San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards when he was dabbling in freelance writing while living in Carmel Valley.
“My 1980 Boston time is the Texas Junior Record for the marathon and I still hold several course records at various road races,” he said.
However, these days he’s not into competing, instead he runs because it’s just part of his everyday lifestyle.
“I’m not racing at present so I’m just padding my lifetime total so to speak; running twice daily, 15 miles/day at present,” he said.
Reaching a new milestone
As for possibly becoming one of the few who have run 200,000 miles, he’s not worried that he won’t make it, he’s just not thinking too much about it.
As he’s fond of saying: “Consistency is key! I never take a day off unless I am either too sick or too injured to run. On that note, I currently haven’t missed a day in over 11 years,” he said.
When he is running, he doesn’t listen to music, but plays games to keep his mind active.
Words of wisdom
Dial said his words of wisdom for those who are thinking about taking up running: be in good shape.
“Please make sure you have the physical ‘OK’ to start a training program, even if that means first seeing your physician,” he said. “Secondly, start slowly! It’s a cliché’ perhaps but Rome wasn’t built in a day so ease into it and once you do establish your running routine, again, consistency is key!”
With that in mind, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Dial as injuries and some unexpected encounters have happened.
“When I think back to the injuries I’ve overcome during my 40-plus years of running, 99 percent of them were the result of overtraining so, in short, even established runners can get into trouble if they try to do too much,” he said. “Again, you want to challenge yourself but set modest goals at first until you get on firm footing!”
Also, doing 7.5-plus of the earth comes with some weird confrontations including two bear encounters, two dog bites, two hit-and-runs by a car and one rattlesnake bite.
Corporate America and coaching
As for his education, Dial attended and graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, summa cum laude, and No. 1 in the department of engineering in 1986. And while he worked for a while in corporate America after college, he quickly discovered it wasn’t for him.
Afterward, he landed many coaching gigs and said, “Coaching was as rewarding as anything I’ve ever done from a competitive standpoint and I sure met some fantastic student-athletes and parents along the way.”
That said, he coached/volunteered at his son’s former elementary school, Carmel Del Mar, and chaired its annual Jog-a-thon for 13 years.
“With the CDM Jog-a-thon in mind, using my running to benefit charitable causes has long been high on my list of priorities. I’ve done runs benefiting Native American causes,” he said.
He still has some ties and friends in San Diego and is currently helping part-time Del Mar resident Bobbi Gibb with her Boston Marathon sculpture project.
“One of my fondest memories when coaching came during fall 2004 when I was serving as Coach Brent Thorne’s assistant at Torrey Pines High School and our boys won the CIF Division 1 Championship over a highly touted El Camino squad.
“That fall, which included a trip to a meet at Cal Poly SLO and a post-meet ‘play date’ on the dunes at Pismo Beach, was magical … ” he said.
Dad to a 25-year-old son, when Dial isn’t running, he likes to draw, write haikus, poetry and just have quiet time since his days start at 5 a.m. on the ranch.
“I work seven days/week, don’t have television, etc., so my down time is my creative time,” he said. “When I’m out mowing a pasture, for example, I’ll play with words in my mind and come up with haikus or whatever. Also, as of late I’ve been saving unique bird feathers I find and use them in art projects. Most days, during the late afternoon when I’m unwinding, I listen to NPR and ‘do art.’”
He also is a “brand ambassador” for Injinji and a “wear tester” for Skechers, both of which he enjoys.
“I credit those as fun hobbies because I get to try new things and promote them to other runners; it’s a win-win situation,” he said.
Dial knows it’s only a matter of time before he hits that 200,000 mark, but until then, he’ll just keep doing his thing while enjoying every moment on the path to victory.