Friday, July 25, 2014

100 Seconds to Beat the World: The David Rudisha Story

This outstanding documentary was shown on the BBC this week and is well worth watching.
Documentary telling the story of Kenyan athlete David Rudisha, the greatest 800m runner the world has ever seen, and his highly unusual coach, the Irish Catholic missionary Brother Colm O'Connell. Shot over ten years, the film begins in 2005 when we first meet David as a shy 16-year-old arriving at a training camp with nothing but a dream of emulating his father's 1968 Olympic silver medal. The camp is run by the unlikeliest of coaches, missionary and amateur athletics trainer Brother Colm, who quickly spots his talent. Together they embark on a journey through injury, disappointment and terror when violence sweeps through the country in the aftermath of the 2008 election, all the way to the 2012 Olympics and the greatest 800m race the world has ever seen.
With unprecedented access and featuring interviews with Seb Coe and Steve Cram, this is an epic, magical and uplifting tale that reaches far beyond sport.
If you have Hola installed on Chrome, you can watch it on the BBC:  If not you can watch it here:

One thing missing from the Documentary was video of his Olympic World Record run. You can find it here on youtube.

You might also enjoy this documentary on Brother Colm as narrated by Eamonn Coghlan: Man on a Mission.

I just got back from two weeks in Kenya, but I can count all the runners I saw on both hands. I will admit to being ready to run myself if those hippos or crocodiles got a little closer. This is on the Masai Mara at the Hippo Pool on the Kenya/Tanzania border.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Year Anniversary on the ElliptiGO: new shoes Altra Paradigm

When I got my ElliptiGO last year, I decided to use it for a year to see if it would help my hip and my running stride. I kept away from running except for monthly short trial runs and snowshoe racing. I only ran a bit over 100 miles in that year. Riding the ElliptiGO was another story. In one year and five days, I accumulated 5000 miles! I thoroughly enjoy riding it whenever I can and a good fast 30 miler is my GOTO ride. I can say the ease and speed of riding is more fun than running (at least the running I can now do) and that the ideas of going distances and routes beyond what I can run keeps it interesting. However, I still miss running, particularly running fast and racing.

Well, on the one year anniversary of riding the ElliptiGO, it was time to see if I could run pain free. I got a new pair of shoes: the Altra Paradigm (I had always wondered what mixing an Altra shoe with a Hoka One One shoe would be like and this is that model). I went out for a 2 mile run with the new Altras and despite feeling sluggish, I liked the feel of the shoe. I ran midfoot and the rocker sole propelled me forward over my stiff toes. It was humbling to only do a 9:10 pace per mile, but I felt better than during other tests and highly encouraged. The next day, I ran 2 miles again, but at a faster pace, worked out for an hour and a half at the gym then ran another two miles. That was probably more than I could handle as my hip got sorer after the run. Each run was faster so that was encouraging. Because of the now familiar limp returning and soreness all night, I took a day off and ran the same two mile loop again. This time I got just under 8 minute pace and I was starting to enjoy short moments where I could feel my stride returning. After the run, I started stiffening up again and couldn't sleep at night due to the bones of my pelvis feeling like they were being pulled apart. My muscles and hip joint just still aren't ready for running, so I closed down that experiment and got back to being a full time ElliptiGO rider again.

I am not sure if it is even the hip joint that is the problem or just that my muscles aren't firing and holding my weight correctly when running. I will keep trying. I am going to Kenya for two weeks and when I return I will figure out what to try before I run the August Falmouth Road Race.

Notes about my  8 miles of running in the ALtra Paradigm:

They are very lightweight and comfortable.

They are a zero drop shoe, so they feel a little weird at first when standing or walking around with the rocker.

The wider forefoot gives my feet the room to spread out (see below) and also more stability for my running stride. There are two things that I have found helpful in the past year for overall body health (getting rid of musculoskeletal pains). I found that I need a full length shoe lift in my right shoe. Clearly Adjustable started making one that is easy to use as figure out the correct height. This works so much better than just a heel lift and has helped erase chronic lower back and sometimes upper back pains. Also whenever my left leg starts feeling wonky and and I get pains in my toes, behind the knee, and up the left hip, I have been using Correct Toes. The pains will disappear within a day of use. I have used them even in a 100 mile bike ride last year, I wanted to use these in a running shoe more often and the Altra is just the shoe for that. I also get more forefoot balance when I use them and they seem to help me use my 1st MPT joint which often just gives way and leads to my left foot rolling in.

Hoka running shoes were too tight for my forefoot and I ended up getting pairs that were almost one size larger than I needed, which ruined the rocker effect, but made them great shoes for my ElliptiGO riding because the toes can get sore from pushing into the front of the shoes. The Hoka One Ones are like tanks and with the extra room I had up front I had no toe problems.

The colors of my Altra Paradigms somewhat remind me of the old 1970s Nike Elite racing shoe seen here:

1978 Paul White Road Race in North Falmouth. Most of the
racers are sporting Nike Elites. I am in the blue and yellow racing

I will be stopping not only my running attempts, but also my ElliptiGO riding as I will be traveling to Kenya tomorrow for another stint of teaching and working in the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi. If you are interested, you can follow my trip here.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 Reviver Challenge

Last Saturday, I competed in my first obstacle course type race at the Reviver Challenge in Cumberland, Rhode Island. It was a short enough run (2.5 miles) that I knew I could do it, although I had no idea about doing the obstacles. I have only run 4 miles (2 last week) since my last snowshoe race, so I was hoping that the ElliptiGO miles I have been doing would pay off.

I had a special reason for doing this race, last year my sister Joy and her best friend Mike were working the wall at this race encouraging racers to get over it. Two days later, on his 50th birthday, Mike passed away. My wife, Sarah, and I were going to support my sister, Joy, at the newly named "Mike's Wall" this year. I was going to race the course with my two daughters, Emily and Hannah, my niece, Jenna, and Hannah's friend.

Photo: Reviver would like to honor a very special friend who may have helped you get over the wall last Saturday. That's the kind of guy he was - always helping someone over an obstacle while fighting his own with faith and courage. Rest easy with God Mike. While many of us are crying down here,  I'm sure you are up there laughing with HIM now.  Or HE is laughing about something you're saying. : )
Mike and Joy at last year's Reviver Challenge
There were three races (all the same). I started in the first race which was for the faster racers. Soon after starting we had to climb over a pile of tires and then crawl under a monster truck. Already, my lack of running was showing as I was way back from where I used to be at the start of a race. Then we had to run up a really steep hill. Well I ran, but most of the other fast starters were already walking. I recall a tube we had to go through. I had to get down on my hands and knees and they had watered the grass and mud inside the tube so I got a bit muddy. Then it seemed to turn into a running race. I ran like an old man, but continued to pass people. Eventually we left the road and headed into some woods. It seemed that we ran about a mile on rocky trails. I didn't think there were many hills in Rhode Island, but this was hilly. It reminded me of a tough snowshoe race, except there was no snow. There were plenty of steep sections to climb and again, most people were walking as I ran (ElliptiGO training?).

The trail was covered with rocks and I found that it was  just like a snowshoe race zig-zagging up and down and through the trees. My hip (or balance) won't let me run downhill safely. I had to be very cautious and almost tip-toe down the steep sections. Of course, all the runners I passed on the uphills would bounce on down the hills and fly right by me. I did notice a couple of older gentlemen (about my age) and decided to key off them. They would get ahead of me on the downhills so that they were out of sight and then I would try to reel them in on the flats and uphills. Eventually we made it down the final hill and right into Mike's Wall. Happily I found I could get over it easily, and headed off to the two smaller walls and the other large wall. There were other obstacles: trees to zig-zag through, two more mud tunnels, sacks of sand to carry up and down a hill, an inner-tube slip and slide, and a long stretch of two by fours nailed into sections of trees that you had to cross, some balance beams, and other things I probably forgot, plus zombies and people shooting water guns. It was all pretty much fun and I enjoyed all the obstacles. Somewhere along the way I had passed all the older looking guys, but there were two more races to be run. My daughters ran in the second race and I was at Mike's Wall cheering on the competitors in that heat and the final and largest heat.

Later at the awards ceremony, my name was called for winning the 50-59 age group. I was thrilled as I had a secret wish to try to win it for Mike. It was his age group and he never got to enjoy one day of his 50s. I really enjoyed running the race. I ended up in 43rd place out of almost 700 racers (results). This is a fun family race, so lots of kids were entered. I look forward to racing it again. I will say that every competitor looked like they were having a great time!

Attacking Mike's Wall
Emily after crawling under the Monster Truck.
Hannah getting muddy.
Emily through the tubes.
Hannah is a little too slippery.
Emily carrying the sand bag.
Emily on her favorite part of the course.

Hannah walking through the trees.
Finishing my race.
Age group win (dirt and gift card)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Completed ElliptiGO Every Day in May Challenge

The goal in May was to complete the ElliptiGO Everyday in May Challenge. You could ride every day for 5, 10, or 20 miles per day. I chose the 20 miles per day challenge and successfully met the goal with no day offs. I rode through rain, cold, wind, and one early morning ride to make sure I didn't miss a day. It wasn't bad at all. I actually averaged over 30 miles per day while hitting the minimum 20 every day and finished with 1004 miles for the month! My longest ride was May 31 when I went 63 miles. I rode my ElliptiGO for a total of 66 hours and did 24,537 ft of climbing. The biggest challenge was keeping my ElliptiGO GOing. It now has over 5500 miles on it and it needs a tune-up and some new parts. My gears were off the last week and my riding was not as smooth or as fast as it could be due to the gears grinding and skipping. I kept trying to fix them, but never got it right. I am close to being an expert at assembling the rear wheel and components now. That is not an easy thing on the ElliptiGO. The best part of the Challenge, besides just getting out there and having a challenge, was the support and enthusiasm of the ElliptiGO community around the world. We were all cheering each other on and barriers kept being broken as people did things they never thought possible or challenged themselves to ride farther than they ever thought they could.

I have now had the ElliptiGO for 11 months and have been thrilled with what it has allowed me to do. It provides an intense workout, but it is truly fun and pain-free to use. I actually enjoy it more than running, because even after a couple of hours of pushing as hard as I can in a workout, my body does not break down at all. I can feel fit and fast without feeling hobbled. When I got the ElliptiGO, I said I would give it a year to see if I could revive my running. I have run about 100 miles in the months I have had the ElliptiGO and most of those came in the snowshoe races I did this winter. It is time to see if I can get back to running! This weekend I am going to do a low key obstacle type race called the Reviver Challenge in Rhode Island. My sister worked the race last year with her boyfriend helping kids climb over the final wall on the course. A couple days later Mike died on his 50th birthday. We are going to support my sister as she work's Mike's Wall, but my daughters and I will also do the race. I am also looking forward to running the Falmouth Road Race again this August. I also realize that while I am pain-free these days, my tight weak glutes and hip stabilizing muscles get sore if I run and cause me to limp, I don't want to run with that pain so I have to get that fixed if I can.

I decided to go in for a Functional Movement Screen at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning here in Nashua. Today I had my first workout based on what they found. It took a lot of time to get through the workout and learn how to do the movements, but it was helpful to have a trainer watching me and showing me how to do things correctly. I like that they use some Postural Restoration stuff as part of their therapy. I have some experience with PRI a few years ago with a local physical therapist and I have written about PRI a few times in the past. Together with the strength drills targeted for me, I hope that this is the final piece that will get me back running. If not I hear there is  July ElliptiGO Challenge being announced soon!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Joining the Elites

Today was a good day if you wanted to race with elite athletes. Here are local news reporter tries to run with the top two Kenyans at today's Stockholm Marathon in Sweden.

And here a couple of cyclists mix it up with the peloton in today's fourth stage of the Tour de Belgium.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 Falmouth Road Race

I was trying to register for the Falmouth Road Race lottery the other night at the very last moment and registration closed before I hit submit, but thanks to the race committee I was given a lottery bypass number :) so I am officially in! I first ran Falmouth in 1975 and last ran it in 2010 a year before my hip surgery (and the very full last month of racing I had before I was sidelined by a hip labral tear). I will race it on mostly ElliptiGO training to see how that works, but I will have do a small bit of weekly mileage, at least more than the  2 miles of running I have done since the last snowshoe race!

When I bought my ElliptiGO last July, I gave myself a year of riding in hopes that I could get my running back on track. I have already gone over 5000 miles on the ElliptiGO, but have done limited running (about 125 miles since July). I ran the snowshoe races this winter basically on my ElliptiGO training. The one year mark for using the ElliptiGO is approaching and I am loving training on it. It will be interesting to see what I can do running wise come July and to see if my heavy duty ElliptiGO mileage will translate into being able to race Falmouth. I can't wait to see what happens and to do Falmouth again.

It was a lot easier to register for Falmouth back in 1975.
Check out the top right corner. Morning of race entries were only $2.00 back then!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pole Vault Tricks vs. Finish Line Antics

I don't know why, but here you go: a short video of silly pole vault tricks.

1. Vaulting double back off a 10 metre cliff in Mt Gambi 2. Vault over high bar, catch into giants with dismount3. Vaulting double back4&5. Football mark over the bar6. Vaulting backsault full twist7. Hopping pole vault - 7 hops, 3.60m8. Two person vault on the one pole (with Blake Lucas)

I guess those are better tricks than the premature celebration that London Olympic 1500m gold medalist Taoufik Makhloufi performed before crossing the finish line in the 1500m at the Shanghai, China, IAAF Track and Field Diamond League earlier this morning.