Thursday, August 29, 2019

Great old video of the 1982 Bix 7 miler

This is an old 8mm film of a race I never ran, but of a time when I did. It is great to see Rob DeCastella, Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter and others in fine running form.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Great vintage documentary on Bill Rodger's and the 1977 Boston Marathon

This is a great find, a 20 minute documentary on Bill Rodger's before, during, and after the 1977 Boston Marathon. There is video of Bill training and hanging out with his GBTC teammates, the ride to Boston with his wife, the wheelchair start, and video of the race. His then wife Ellen, is often featured handing out liquid E.R.G. (remember that?) to Billy and commenting on the race. It is interesting to watch all the cars, cyclists, and people out on the course. I particularly liked seeing all the runners in the underground garage after the race. I remember being ushered there after my first Boston Marathon. This video brings back the old days of running. Unfortunately for Billy. Boston 1977 was a hot day for running.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Navigate your way home using these Vibrating Lechal Smart Navigation and Fitness Tracking Insoles

I saw these vibrating insoles from Lechal and was immediately amused and intrigued. Now you no longer have to look at your watch to tell you wear to go as you let your insoles guide you instead. They are GPS enabled and vibrate to tell you to turn or change direction. I wonder if they would work on a bike or my ElliptiGO? What about when driving a car? It may be a great idea or an solution to a problem that no one has. Here is a link to their website. They are sold on Amazon.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Here is a fun little video on the 1904 Olympic Marathon that is just too crazy to describe without making it into a board game.

Poisoned and a nearly a dead man walking, Tom Hicks is being helped to the finish.

Here is an article on the race from the Smithsonian: The 1904 Olympic Marathon May Have Been the Strangest Ever.

Such a strange Olympic Games. They even had a sack race!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Shin Box Switch

I had never heard of the shin box until a couple of weeks ago, but I have been playing around with it for my hips multiple times a day since then. It is a pretty basic exercise, but there are tons of variations and progressions you can try. Horizon Fitness says:

The Shin Box Switch covers many bases, including working on hip internal/external rotation, improving the length of the hip flexors, and activating the glute muscles. 
For those who may sit a lot during the day, this could be the key exercise in helping your body counteract the debilitating effects of prolonged sitting. By providing greater flexibility through the hips, the Shin Box Switch can result in less chance of injury and low back pain, as well as better overall movement and function. 
And, from a pure fitness and exercise standpoint, the Shin Box  Switch can be valuable in improving your range of motion and making your lower body strength exercises (squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc.) much more efficient.
The funny thing is that I have been looking forward to seeing The Gun Runners movie for awhile and it is finally viewable and free on Netflix this month. Half way through the movie, a bunch of elite Kenyan runners are warming up in Iten, Kenya and what are they doing? The Shin Box. They even have a way of using their hand to hold their head in a way I had not seen and that works well for the posture.

I did purchase a course through Move Perfect for a bunch of the progressions that I might need. My hips have kept me for running since my hip surgery in 2011, so I am willing to give this a shot.

Here is a brief look at the basic shin box. If you are really tight and just starting out, you can lie down. Progressions take you to standing up. I am not there yet.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Frank Shorter: My Marathon:Reflections on a Gold Medal Life

Frank Shorter has always been one of my heroes in the running world. I watched him win the Olympic Marathon in Munich on our family's television and fretted along with the announcers when an impostor ran into the stadium ahead of him trying to steal his Olympic glory. I started running cross-country the next year when I began high school. I bought the first book written about him, by John Parker of  "Once a Runner" fame, in 1973 from Runner's World. I was one of the less than 1000 people who ran in the 1975 Falmouth Road Race which has been described as the start of the road racing running boom along with Frank Shorter in my hometown. I used a quote I found from Frank Shorter in a Sports Illustrated article as my high school yearbook quote in 1977 and I followed his career though the years.

On his way to winning the 1975 Falmouth Road Race

I bought a copy of his first autobiography when it first came out it 1984: Olympic Gold: A Runner's Life and Times, so I wasn't too keen to shell out the bucks when a new autobiography from Frank Shorter came out this year, particularly when I started hearing about the many factual mistakes in the book that an editor should have caught and corrected. So I sort of ignored getting a copy of the book My Marathon: Reflections of a Gold Medal Life until I noticed that the Kindle edition of the book was only $2.99 (compared to the hardcover price of $26 on Amazon). I knew that the book would have new information on the abuse charges that Frank had been recently discussing in relationship to his father and I wanted to hear what Frank had to say so I splurged the small amount of cash needed to buy it and downloaded a copy.

Many years ago at Fitness University
in Nashua, NH with Frank
and two of my children.
I enjoyed reading Frank's new book even though most of his reflections were about stories I was already well aware of (still worth reading again): his Olympic gold medal run, his reflections on Steve Prefontaine, particularly as Frank was the last person to see Pre alive, and his silver medal run in the 1976 Olympics and his wonderment and concerns about the surprise winner Waldemar Cierpinski and the much later confirmations that this runner was doped up by the East German sports machine. The book also touches on other issues that Frank was involved in including the rise of professionalism in the sport and the anti-doping measures that Frank is so tightly tied to. Then there is the hovering story of his abusive father and the effect on Frank and his siblings and how he quietly dealt with this throughout his life and eventually started opening up to the public about his father.

After a run with Frank in Hollis, NH about 20 years ago.

Most of the stories here are like a greatest hits of his career. A runner who hasn't lived through the events of Franks life through the books, running magazines, and races that he has run may find the telling of his life interesting and I would say necessary if you are a runner. Those of us from the road running glory days will appreciate the new angle on things, but will also realize that Frank can't write about all the races that he has run that are missing in this book.  Probably due to how Frank has compartmentalized his life due to his childhood experiences and his schooling as a lawyer, this book is reflective of the facts and how they all fit together. As much as Frank thought out how he would win the gold medal, and planned and trained for that, in Munich, his writings give an outline of his experiences in races and in transforming running into the sport it is today. On the other hand, Frank doesn't write as much about his feelings, nor does he give much insight into the internal struggles that he may have faced. And this is to be expected.

My signed copy of The Frank Shorter Story
I won't write about the many factual mistakes in the book except to relate two that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere and in particular, these two mistakes refer to my hometown Falmouth Road Race. The section of the book that refers to the running of the 1975 Falmouth Road Race refers to it as the inaugural edition of the race and talked about the cream of the running Boston running community running it along with about 100 citizen racers. The 1975 race was the third running of the race in Falmouth, not the first, and there were about 800 racers.  As a fifth grade teacher, I just have a minor quibble about a sentence mentioning Falmouth, "...the Falmouth Road Race in Cape Cod." We say, "On Cape Cod!" There are many other errors in the proofreading of this book that should be corrected, but they are documented elsewhere.

Frank signed this for my class a few years ago, then looked
at it, laughed, and rewrote the message in a different way
on another board.
I do find that as a reader who knows Frank's stories that the new book updates with a new perspective of him that you might not find in older sources. I recall reading years ago about his small town family doctor father and Frank's large family thinking how charming and blessed he was with his upbringing, only to find out later that he dad was a monster and the happy family story was only an illusion. I remember reading about how Frank trained in Taos, New Mexico for the Olympics and reading how his father use to trail behind him in a car with a rifle due to Frank having a run in with some locals, but then reading that story in a different light with the revelations about his dad.

This book is well worth a read in finding out how a champion athlete trains and thinks and would recommend that you read it particularly while it is now selling at Amazon for only $2.99 for the Kindle version.

I have already started to read another running Kindle version bargain that I also bought and this one was only $1.99: First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever by Amby Burfoot. While I may have grown up running races far behind the greats of running like Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers, I saw more closely the struggle and growth of the first women to break down the barriers that held women back in sports and it is good to read about the history of many of these women that I have met, run with (or behind), and watched as they broke down the barriers holding them back.

Meb for Mortals is only $2.99 on the Kindle.

14 Minutes: A Running Legend's Life and Death and Life Alberto Salazar's autobiography is only $1.99. My review of that book is here.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

2016 Tri-State Seacoast Century on an ElliptiGO

For the fourth year in a row, I participated in the Tri-State Seacoast Century, but this year I changed things up. During the 2013, 2014, and 2015 versions of the event, my goal was to try to go sub 6 hours on my ElliptiGO which meant that I did not stop to eat or drink and only used what little that I carried because I was counting time as elapsed time. This resulted in some really hard core EllitpiGO rides that left me having some pretty interesting final miles. I also realized, I might never break 6 hours on this course with the winds that you get along the coast and the traffic problems that are sometimes encountered. This year, I decided to have some fun and enjoy the  ride (or should I say rides) as I wanted to try doing the century ride on both Saturday and on Sunday.

Nubble Light house - the halfway point
For Saturday's ride, I was supposed to ride with Andrew Warby, but he was held up by work and I went solo, although I did see Andrew later out on the course. The early morning start was cold and I was wearing gloves  until the first aid station. The wind was similar to last year's ride as it was more in our face going out. I am glad that I wasn't going for time as I was stopped twice at the drawbridge in Portsmouth for about 10 minutes each time both coming and going. I was happy to finally stop at the food and aid station both times and let me tell you that drinking lots more fluids and eating food on a century ride makes the final miles of the century much nicer,

See, I stopped to sight-see a bit this year!
Nearing the finish of the ride at about 85 miles, a rider in front of me was taking a left turn. I watched from about 30 feet behind him as he slid down to the ground like he had taken the turn too sharply and slid on some sand, There was no sand, however, and he remained down. I realized quickly, along with the other riders who were behind me, that he was stone cold knocked out. Strangely, I am pretty sure that he didn't even hit his head on the ground. His body was twitching and his eyes were staring and opaque. He was not responding and someone had called 911 and then handed me the phone since I had seen him go down. For about 3 minutes he was completely out and not responding. I was asked to count his breathing (which frustrated me at first until I realized I shouldn't be looking at his mouth, but at his chest). He was a 62 year old male named Tim and he had a medic alert bracelet on that let us know that he had no major health issues. After about 3 minutes, he started stirring a bit. When the ambulance came after about 5 minutes, he was just starting to respond. He told us when we asked him how he felt that he felt great! He could not remember what had happened to him. I left after the ambulance and fire trucks arrived and assume from what others have said that he might have had a heart attack or some other heart issue. The guy behind me said that it looked like he might have been out before he even hit the ground. I hope that he is fine and recovering. Update: I heard back from Tim and we are from the same town, He broke his collarbone and rib, but did not have a heart issue. He thinks it may have been a seizure of some type that blacked him out. Like a true athlete, he said that he was looking forward to getting on a spin bike and riding again.

Once I finished the course, after following the GPS route map and marks on the road, I realized that I must have missed some circuit somewhere as my mileage was not quite 100 miles. I did miss turning on my GPS a few times, but didn't miss that many miles. Everyone else I talked to seemed to miss hitting 100 miles too!

My biggest fear for Sunday, was that I might sleep in and miss the start, but I got there on time to meet fellow ElliptiGOer Steve Lecours, who I was planning to ride with, I did arrive on time and it was a chilly and windy morning again. Right before starting, I noticed my brakes were a bit off and then noticed my rear wheel nuts were also loose. I attempted to fix things and then Steve and I were off on the initial 17 mile loop through Massachusetts. I felt pretty good, but my ElliptiGO felt tight and I was having a hard time keeping pace with Steve. I chalked it up to the previous day's ride and the fact that I hadn't warmed up yet. At the end of the loop, I stopped to look at my chain and sure enough, I had tightened the rear wheel which had tightened the chain so that there was absolutely no slack in it at all. I loosened things up and hoped for better.

Steve and I kept a good pace, but I was definitely working very hard to just stay in contact. I wondered if it would be this way all day or even if I could finish. Approaching the Nubble Lighthouse, I finally figured out how I felt. I pretty much felt like you do during a marathon between miles 16-20. I was tired and tightening up, but I could still hold a decent pace. The question was, would I fall apart at this pace and blow up or would I be able to maintain. Fortunately, the answer was that I could maintain. The second half felt better the closer I got to the finish. I never really had any snap or pop in my riding, and tended to lag a bit on the uphills, but at the end of the day, I finished the ride at just about the same average speed as I rode the previous day. That is all thanks to chasing Steve throughout the day, Without him, I would have eased up on so many sections and might have ridden the whole thing about an hour slower.

It was interesting pushing new barriers and riding two long days in a row, Thanks to the ElliptiGO, you can put in a massive effort one day and return the next to do so again as it does no damage to your joints!