Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pre Boston Marathon ElliptiGO Group Ride

The day before the Boston Marathon, 14 ElliptiGO enthusiasts from around the country gathered together for a ride from Boston Common to the Emerald Necklace and back up for the final mile of the marathon route. It was fun seeing some friends from the New England ElliptiGO classic, some of the people who work for ElliptiGO, and some new friends including a former Boston Marathon champion. Here are a few pictures I took along the way.

I was thrilled to meet and and ride with one of the great pioneers of women's
distance running. Jacqueline Hansen won the 1973 Boston
Marathon and twice held the world record in the Marathon.
She now rides an ElliptiGO.
The 2014 Boston Marathon was magical. Meb's win after a 32 year drought from the last American male winner was just what Boston needed. 32 years is a long time. I ran that race and it was the first year I was a teacher. That was a long time ago! Meb is also an ElliptiGO athlete. He uses it to cross train and is that the secret to his setting a new PR at 38 years old. That PR is perfect timing for ElliptiGO, which had just announced a new program for using an ElliptiGO to set a guaranteed PR or you get your money back.  Hurry up as you have to apply by May 2.

I talked with Darren Brown, a sub four minute miler, and the husband of elite 800m/1500m runner Sarah Brown this weekend and he says he may show up to race the ElliptiGO End of Summer Classic in August. I think I may be in a bit of trouble if I want to repeat winning this race!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2014 Boston B.A.A. Invitational Miles

I went down to Boston for the Marathon Expo and to watch the B.A.A. Invitational Miles. It was sobering being on Boylston Street as the preparations for Monday's marathon were underway. I was also using a new camera for the first time. Here are some photos I took of Boston and the two races.

Men's Results
1. Nick Willis (NZL) 4:11.3
2. Paul Robinson (IRL) 4:12.0
3. Leo Manzano (USA) 4:13.3
4. Chris O’Hare (GBR) 4:13.6
5. De’Sean Turner (USA) 4:14.5
6. Rob Finnerty (USA) 4:15.2
7. Criag Miller (USA) 4:22.2

Women’s Results
1. Morgan Uceny (USA) 4:44.0
2. Heather Kampf (USA) 4:44.3
3. Brie Felnagle (USA) 4:44.8
4. Sara Hall (USA) 4:45.9
5. Laura Crowe (IRL) 4:46.1
6. Chelsea Reilly (USA) 4:46.6
7. Violah Lagat (KEN) 4:48.0

I also bumped into Carlos Arredondo on Boylston Street near the finish line.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Abebe Bikila: The Athlete movie

Today was the Friday before the Boston Marathon and as a fifth grade teacher that means I introduce my class to running and the great Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie by showing the Disney biopic on his life, Endurance. I enjoy the running scenes in the movie, the fact that Haile acts as himself, and the scenes of rural everyday farm life in Ethiopia. My students always enjoy the movie and (I hope) my commentary throughout it about runners like Abebe Bikila, Miruts Yifter, and Paul Tergat. They also enjoy knowing that I went to Africa in 2011 and will be returning to Kenya this summer. They do have a hard time realizing that the movie depicts living people and a lifestyle unlike their own. Every year, kids ask if the people in the movie are still alive, and I have to tell them that they are and that they are younger than me.

I had lost my digital copy of the movie (made from my VHS copy) so I had to order a new copy from Amazon in order to show it today. While doing so, I noticed some of the other running movies that Amazon offered and one of the was called The Athlete about the life of Abebe Bikila, the first black African to win a gold medal in the Olympics and the catalyst for the current onslaught of Ethiopian and African running prowess throughout the world today.

I knew all about Abebe's barefoot gold medal run in the 1960 Rome Olympics and his repeat gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. I also was familiar with the car crash that left him paralyzed, the return at the 1972 Olympics to be honored and then his sudden death. I always had the sense of a sadness around Abebe Bikila and that a depression might have been part of his death.

I decided to watch the movie tonight since it was free for Amazon Prime members. It made liberal use of Bud Greenspan video from the 1960 Olympics as well as video from the 1964 Olympics probably from the Tokyo Olympiad (The Criterion Collection) film. The Ethiopian actors seemed realistic and the conversations were a mix of English and subtitles. It seemed a lot of the first half of the film revolved around Abebe's blue Volkswagen Beetle as the story slowly developed. I got the sense from watching the actor's portrayals a reaffirmation about Abebe's serious nature as well as a distance from his family and many of his countrymen during the political changes in his country.  Abebe desired to make a comeback at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Unfortunately, the accident changed his goals. I expected the film to show a slow decline until his death and that is where I ended up pleasantly surprised. Abebe participated in paralegic sports competitions: first in archery and later in dogsled racing. Who knew? The reception back in Addis Ababa after his dogsled racing victory was especially poignant. Even the commentary at the end of the film was powerful.

I enjoyed this movie, which would really be interesting for fans of running and its history as well as those who would enjoy viewing wonderful scenes shot in Africa.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

1964 Boston Marathon Documentary Video: Long lost and worth the watch!

Here is a recently uploaded long lost documentary video of the 1964 Boston Marathon. It is well worth a watch to see Boston in the old days before the running boom. This is a gem!

Featured in the video is author Erich Segal, best known for writing "Love Story" and somewhat known for his commentary during the 1972 Olympic Marathon. According to a letsrun post: Walter Hewlett, the Harvard student and  2:32 marathoner in the film is worth billions today as a member of the Hewlett-Packard family. A Rev. O'Neil Shannon prepares for his 15th Boston Marathon and at the 2:20 mark his exercises are fantastic. It is either the greatest running warm-up or the beginnings of break-dancing. At 5:27 you see a man arguing with race official Jock Semple. Jock is best known for his altercation with Katherine Switzer  at the marathon in 1967. I also had a run in with Jock Semple back in a race on Cape Cod. I tried my best, but his temper got the best of me too, as I tried to plead my case. I had placed and should have won a medal at a NE Junior 20K (or 1/2 marathon?) Championship race (1977?). I got nowhere with him and I got no medal for placing, because I had signed up for the race the morning of the race and thus no medal-which all went to runners mostly runners from his club. the BAA. The guy tells Jock, "You've got a fresh mouth with everybody!" I agree!  I also had the pleasure of  meeting Johnny Kelley, the elder, many times throughout the years. The top American (5th place) Hal Higdon also sent an email comment to myself and the superintendent of schools in Nashua back in 2000 when I was not allowed to take a personal day to run the Boston Marathon.

The actual running of the race starts at the 13:30 mark. John Kelley (the Younger) is number 2, Hal Higdon is number 13, and Ted Corbitt is number 19, Check out the pit stop (full gas station) at the 16:00 mark! I am not sure what Jock Semple is doing to John Kelley at the 19:50 mark: wiping off sweat? I love how nonchalantly the race winner, Aurele Vandendriessche crosses the finish line and then the unattended finish line for later participants. Also noteworthy was the break-dancing reverend running through Boston traffic to get to the end and the guy being dressed and hoisted up by his buddies after finishing, "Keep my legs straight!"

Here is a brief recap of the race from the Boston Marathon media guide:

68th Boston Marathon – Monday, April 20, 1964
As the field exceeded 300 runners for the first time, Aurele Vandendriessche successfully defended his championship with a 2:19:59 performance. The lean Belgian attacked the Newton hills in strong fashion, eventually pulling away from the Canadians and Finns who were dictating the pace. Noted Boston Marathon writer and historian Hal Higdon was fifth.
1. Aurele Vandendriessche (BEL)2:19:596. David Ellis (CAN)2:22:49
2. Tenho Salakka (FIN)2:20:487. John J. Kelley (CT)2:27:23
3. Ronald Wallingford (CAN)2:20:518. Osvaldo Suarez (ARG)2:27:51
4. Paavo Pystynen (FIN)2:21:339. Paul Hoffman (CAN)2:28:07
5. Hal Higdon (IN)2:21:5510. William Allen (CAN)2:28:19

A side note, one of the filmers of this documentary was D. A. Pennebaker, who also completed the Bob Dylan film Don't Look Back that same year (1965)... including this song:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Recover your Face: Dollar Shave Club vs. Gillette Fusion vs. Dorco

Yeah, I know this is not really running related, but I have been using Gillette razors for years. I had been using the Gillette Fusion system for years and had been happy with it except that the blades are so expensive! For months I had been seeing ads for the Dollar Shave Club. My son has been using their services and had recommended them to me, but I wasn't too sure about switching and signing up for a monthly subscription program. It would however, save me money, so I was intrigued.

Finally, I decided to look a bit more closer into the trying Dollar Shave Club and decided to read some reviews. I came upon this Lifehacker post about the Dollar Shave Club. The Dollar Shave Club is essentially selling you a monthly subscription service and it is quite successful at it, but the exact same razors and blades that they sell can be bought for a lot cheaper than through their club. The blades and razors they do sell are from a company called Dorco (not the greatest name I admit). You can also buy these Dorco razors at Amazon. They sell a Dorco six Blade Razor with Trimmer, a Dorco Four Blade Razor, and a Dorco Three Razor Blade . So rather than get monthly deliveries, you can buy the razors in bulk for about 1/3 the price of the Dollar Shave Club prices, which are again cheaper than Gillette prices. It sounded like a good deal to me, so I ordered the 6 blade model from Amazon, not sure of what to expect of the quality. After using them awhile now, I have replaced my Gillette with the Dorco. It feels and works just as well and I get the same amount of time between blade changes. Why not save a bunch of money?

To keep this post somewhat running related,you may have noticed that nowadays some male runners/triathletes shave their legs. I don't, but I did a long time ago. If you go back to the mid 1980s, that was another thing I was in way on before it became (somewhat) acceptable.  I admit to doing this while racing Ironman distance triathlons between 1983-1987. Here I am racing the Cape Cod Endurance Triathlon in 1987 with freshly shaved legs. And to top if off, I ran the full marathon leg in a Speedo!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Science of Marathon Running

A bunch of cool adaptations in the human body allow us to run miles in a marathon. Check out this video that explains it all.

The science involved in marathon running. (from It's Okay To Be Smart and +PBS Digital Studios)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Injury-Free Running: How to Build Strength, Improve Form, and Treat/Prevent Injuries by Thomas Michaud

I recently picked up the book, Injury-Free Running: How to Build Strength, Improve Form, and Treat/Prevent Injuriesby Dr. Thomas Michaud and I have enjoyed glancing through it. It looks like a good book for understanding the injury process and rehabilitation. Dr. Michaud also drew the detailing drawings throughout the book. I would recommend this book to someone who wants to delve deeper into the biomechanics of running and solve running related injuries. No, I have not read it all, nor tried his remedies as presented in the book, but I found he addressed some issues that I have such as femoral anteversion, that I rarely seen written about in other running injury books and I look forward to delving deeper into it.

I will also say that three years ago and a few months after I had hip surgery for a labral tear, that I visited Dr. Michaud in his Newton, Ma office. I have visited a great many professionals in my quest to recover my stride and get back to the business of running pain-free. Of all the people that I have met, Dr. Michaud was definitely the most enthusiastic. He spent the the time measuring all sorts of angles on my body and seemed thrilled to be finding all the things that he did (read my blog post So Not Born to Run here). My visit was really a one-shot deal. I never went back and I didn't receive some miracle cure like I had been desperately hoping for. I was only given a few exercises to try and they didn't do much for me when I had so many things going on throughout my body that needed fixing at that time. Since that meeting, I have slowly cleared up a lot of the pain/discomfort issues I had and really the only thing I can't do is run pain free (or be pain-free post run). I am still slowly working on things on my own and I have not seen even any type of specialist since November. I am doing little long term experiments and finding out what works for me over time and I feel like each week I am slowly progressing a fragment more toward being a runner again. I can basically stretch my hip in all directions without problems and I don't think my hip joint is the problem. I started using my orthotics again over a month ago and they seem to help as well as I have started slowly with a small heel lift back in my right shoe. I am also doing some stretches and strength work to better balance my body and learning how to get my hips forward.

From my perspective and I few other people I know who have worked with him, Dr. Michaud is a student of the sport and the science of running. He really loves his work. I think he is someone who can bring his research and understanding and present what he has learned to others. I have heard about all the world class runners that make it a point to visit him from all corners of the world. I like the reflections he makes in the books as he talks about athletes like Rob Decastella and Tegla Loroupe that he worked with. I wish I had been an athlete of that level who could have received more direct treatment from him, but I was unable to be a full-time patient. Maybe this book will give me a few extra tidbits of knowledge as I continue my slow drive to being a runner again.

One interesting thing about this book is that there are plenty of yellow highlights throughout the book for the main points that the author is trying to make. I have never seen this done before, but I guess it makes sense fr when you are browsing the book.

You can preview a 65 page PDF of the book here. Check out his drawings!

Dr. Tom Michauds recent article on Competitor.com "Are We Really Born To Run?" This is pretty funny, because the post I made after meeting Dr. Michaud was titled "So Not Born to Run."

Other articles on Competitor.com by Dr. Michaud can be found here.