Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Growing Influence of Resistance Stretching

Here is a short video from the CBS Evening News on the effect Michael Phelps and Dara Torres have had on fitness buffs from little swimmers competing to people wanting to know more about resistance stretching. At 1:35 you can briefly see Dara getting stretched as well as Luther Cowden who sent an email reply last week about running and resistance stretching.

Here is a CNN video explaing how Dara Torres does it. You can see snippets of some of her exercise routines, mashing (people use their feet to massage her muscles) , and resistance stretching (her secret weapon).

Here is an audio interview from Growing Bolder with Bob Cooley who invented resistance stretching and wrote, "The Genius of Flexibility".

Bob Cooley.jpg

Here are some more resistance stretches from an article in FitYoga magazine. It looks at the stretching from a yoga perspective but has some new variations of resistance stretching that I have not previously seen. There are stretches to loosen the quads, relieve pressure in the lower back, stretch the psoas, and unburden the shoulders. Hit the "next' at the bottom of the page to proceed throught the article.

Friday, August 29, 2008

More on the Dara Torres Resistance Stretching DVD

Innovative Body Solutions now has an additional preview video up of their Dara Torres Resistance Stretching DVD. I ordered this a couple of weeks ago and they should be shipping it soon (they keep dropping the shipping date back: when I ordered they said it would ship August 22 and now it has been dropped back again and ships September 5). Then I will review it and compare it to Bob Cooley's "The Genius of Flexibility" DVD. They have an additional blurb that describes the DVD : "The Innovative Body Solutions Resistance Stretching DVD introduces a training technique that is beneficial for any age or ability with no equipment required. The DVD features a 25 minute full-body workout, a total body instructional section, and problem-solving tips for tight muscle groups."

I already posted this short video from the DVD that talks about balancing muscle groups. It shows two good stretches fro the quads and hamstrings.

This DVD is put out by Steve Sierra and Anne Tierney who happen to be Dara Torres' stretchers. According to their website, Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin also works with resistance stretchers.

Yesterday I went mountain biking. I tried a new trail off 101A and near Ridge Road on the other side of 101A from the Yuddicky Farms trails and by Lovewell's Pond. I read about a trail called the "spaghetti bowl" set up by mountain bikers. I have run by the entrance the the trails for years but have never explored this area and always wondered what was in there. Now I know! Here is a map of the place.

I biked the two miles from my house. The trail starts out nicely with an overgrown paved road and then some straighter trails and then (well look at the map) I don't know what happened. It goes all around the place. At first it was fun, then it was challenging, and then... I had no idea what it was doing. The route is tight singletrack and it is full of twists and turns and ups and downs and rocks and trees and then these man-made obstacles (bridges, seesaws, and all sorts of wooden stuff that looked fun and a bit dangerous (to beginners). I played around in there for over an hour and then tried to get out. I kept ending up on the same trails. Finally I just cut through the woods to try to intersect a trail that might lead me out. I survived. Maybe I should have read the online reviews better for this trail as it says it is not for beginners. I spent a lot of time stopping and getting off my bike and getting back on. I need to ride with some mountain bikers to learn how they do things. Do they quickly ride through these trails and jump these obstacles? I would have killed myself. Or do they do slow rides jumping up and over things? These are answers I will have to discover. I finally made it out of there with no broken bones but some broken skin on my lower legs and a bit of blood. Did I have fun? Yes!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Take the Pounding out of Running!

OK this is just for fun, but what in the world are these? They are called velocity stilts and I even think I saw something like this in the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

Check out this running form!

I think that this person really needs a helmet. Maybe this will be a new way to do high-jumping!

According to this site that gives more information you can run over 20 mph using these things!

But the running can look a little awkward!

The Genius of Flexibility Video 1.0 Review

Yesterday the DVD I ordered showing how to do resistance stretching finally arrived. I wrote about resistance (or meridian stretching) here: Resistance Stretching: This is what Dara Torres does! and here: More on Resistance Stretching. This DVD is the one I ordered from Bob Cooley's Website: Meridian Flexibility Center. What little I have learned in the past couple of weeks about Resistance stretching I have learned from from Bob Cooley's book The Genius of Flexibility and the few web sites and videos I have posted in the above two blog entries. This information gave me a start but reading and seeing pictures in a book is not always the best way to learn a stretch, particularly ones that are so new and different. That is where this DVD comes in handy.

The Genius of Flexibility DVD 1.0 includes instructions for 16 stretches for level 1 stretching (you can do them by yourself). Seeing the stretches and hearing the instruction make the stretches easy to understand and accomplish. I could easily do all 16 stretches while watching the DVD for the first time. I never tried them all when reading the book. If was easy to see the movements, the exertion levels, and the range of motion to shoot for when stretching. Two people would demonstrate each stretch. The stretchers looked athletic and like normal people. There was no new age music playing in the background as the stretches were demonstrated. Overall the instructions were easy to follow and I didn't have to be concerned about doing the stretches in a wrong way. The stretches can also be played one by one or in a 20 minute stretching workout. While I don't usually worry about stretching some of the muscles in the video it felt good doing some stretches like the ones for the shoulders. I will definitely keep using the video and should be able to transfer what I learned about resistance stretching to other similar stretches. One thing I wonder about is that I don't think any of stretches are geared towards some muscles that runners use a lot, like the calves of anything below the knee. I might be wrong about this and more advanced stretches may work these areas but I would really like to see a calf and soleus stretch using this method. The DVD was more about the stretching and did not get into all the meridians and the psycological and emotional parts of the stretching that the book gets into. You will have to read the book if that is your interest.

In addition to the stretching routines there is an introduction to resistance stretching, some testimonials including Dara Torres, some previews of more advanced DVDs that use partners or equipment and other information. For the price of $20 plus postage I think the DVD is a great purchase if you want to check out resistance stretching. It is so very different from any other stretching routine you may have tried so it is worth seeing it on DVD to get a good handle of the technique. I have ordered another DVD from Innovative Body Solutions but it is not shipping until the end of the month. It sells for the same price and I hope to learn more about resistance stretching and see some different stretches. It is put out by the stretchers who work on Dara Torres. I believe they also helped on the DVD I just reviewed.

So far I am finding more range of motion in my hips and a better balance when running since undertaking resistance stretching. It really seems to start getting out the junk and tightness that is in my hips and is starting to loosen up things more. I also think my stride is lengthening again as my hips are not so tight! Other stretching routines, particularly static stretching where you try to pull and stretch a relaxed muscle, often leave me tight and sometimes in worse shape them before I stretched because it pulls things out of alignment. Resistance stretching, on the other hand, does not leave me stiff or sore, even though so much force is generated as you stretch. This is a marvel to me as it is not what I would expect from such a routine. I even do the stretches before I run and my legs feel fresher because of it.

If I can get this stretching working correctly I feel it may help me in my quest to recover my stride. I have now run three days in a row. I did 8 miles Monday and again on Tuesday (although both heels were a little sore after that run). Today we had a track workout. We were supposed to do 5 miles on the track (yech!) at marathon pace. I finished in exactly 33:00 minutes which is a 1 1/2 minutes faster than the Bil Luti 5 miler I did in July and I was running much more efficiently. I friend even said I looked much smoother in my stride as I was running and if that is true I am pleased. The timed 5 miler was the longest paced run I have done on the track since college when I did a 50 mile solo run once. Fortunately the workout went quicker after the first 2 miles. I have to admire the people who race 10,000 meters on the track. That is a lot of laps!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Hanging Around...letting gravity take care of things!

So I have been enjoying my somewhat break from running. I think it was/is a good thing to do. One thing I have been getting back to doing is a little strange, but a different way to loosen up a tired body. Probably about 10 or more years ago I bought a gravity inversion table. I thought it might help with the back problems I had at the time. I was seeing a chiropractor an awful lot for my back and probably getting too many adjustments. I thought that the inversion table might keep me from having to see a chiropractor so much. I had put it away a few years ago, after all how many contraptions can one have in the basement? I alreay have a treadmill and a Concept 2 Rower sitting around (the rower is like the ones in health clubs- someone gave it to me and it just needed a little welding and it works just fine now). Anyhow I took the inversion table out and put it together again last week. So now I have been hanging around a bit just like a human bat!

With a gravity inversion table you can tilt backwards and hang from your locked in feet. You can do a partial hang while still lieing down on the table or you can tilt the table all the way back and only hang suspended from your ankles. It is supposed to put space between your vertebrae and keep you from shrinking as you get older. It can be relaxing hanging upside down and it does stretch you out quite a bit. I do like how it works on the muscles at the front of my hips and my lower back. It stretches and relaxes them so that I feel looser and not so tight when I am done. You can also move around as you hang. You can go side to side and work on stretching the quadratus lumborum or even do sit-ups from the upside down position. I can arch back and forth and twist from side to side. All of these movements serve to stretch and relax some overworked and hard to stretch muscles. I have felt better since using the gravity inversion table again. It is fun and definitely a weird thing to do but it is an easy way to get a nice long stretch along your body. You just have to figure out where to put such a contraption.

I have the Health Mark one like pictured at the top of this page. Amazon sells this one still and many other models of gravity inversion tables.

I continue to mountain bike and enjoy it. I read up some on plantar fasciitis. Here is a thread on on different ways that runners have tried to treat this problem. Here is an article recommended by runners on treating plantar fasciitis. One thing I read was that some runners said taking time off doesn't really heal it. I have been rolling the bottom of my feet using golf balls. I ran a 5k last Monday, a track workout on Wednesday, and I then ran 8 miles on Saturday. One thing I notice is that the day after I run my body gets really bent out of shape (hips, leg, back) and is back to that stiffness (can barely put my socks on and tie my shoes some days). However after doing some resistance stretching exercises and hanging upside down the stiffness goes away after a short time, so I am happy with that result. Today (Monday) was the last day before a new school year begins. I mountain biked for an hour and then ran 8 miles. My hips are definitely loosening up from the stretches adn biking that I am doing and I feel like I have a greater range of motion. The running feels better than it did a couple of weeks ago.

The bottom of my foot is not as tight and the pain in front of the heel is not getting worse and may be improving so that is encouraging. I have abandoned the use of all the things I was trying: insoles and heel lifts. I think the stretching is helping some of the tightnesses I have, but without the heel lift I do see one leg as still shorter than the other but I don't want to bother with it for now in case the lift was causing the problems with the bottom of my foot.

Every once in a while if I move the foot wrong I feel a pain in front of the heel. I have had problems there since the Spring, I just never made note of it except in my head. I first noticed it when when I did the Z-Health drill where you turn one foot onto its side. I found that I would get a pain or shock in that heel area when doing that drill so it is something that maybe I have had for a while that doesn't really bother me much that I aggravated recently.

As long as I feel good I will slowly ease back into whatever running I can do. I just won't run if things aren't going right.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More on Resistance Stretching

As I posted here I started rereading Bob Cooley's "The Genius of Flexibility" a couple of weeks ago and remain intrigued and frustrated with this technique. I am intrigued because as I play around with the stretches and try them out I am finding some that work for me. I am frustrated because there is not a lot of information out there on the technique (even though it is getting some big publicity -thanks to Dara Torres). I also have not received either DVD I ordered. The DVD from Innovative Body Solutions is not supposed to be released and shipped until August 22nd so I knew that would take awhile. I haven't received or heard a word about the DVD I ordered from from Bob Cooley's site Meridian Flexibility Center yet and it has been almost two weeks. Maybe these places are swamped with the interest in the technique. I would like to learn more so I await the arrival of the DVDs. Here is Bob Cooley's book on resistance streching. It is the only book I have found on the this type of stretching.

Here is a new Youtube video of Bob Cooley doing the hamstring stretch with the help of a partner.

Here is another video I found of a back or lat stretch using resistance stretching.

This ABC News "Person of the Week" profile on Dara Torres has a some brief looks at her stretching.

The other frustrating thing about resistance stretching is that the stretches don't list what muscles are being stretched. They can be listed by the body part, the emotions, or the psychology they effect. I have found that the "gall bladder" stretches seem to pinpoint the muscles I need to stretch. I do the hamstring, the quads, and one that seems to work nicely on my hips is one where (from a sitting or lieing down position) hold one knee with the same side hand and hold the ankle or foot with the other hand. I pull the ankle and knee toward the opposite shoulder as I resist by pushing away with the foot and leg. This does some really good work on my hips. I felt better and stronger when running Monday and Wednesday in the hips area from doing these stretches.

Luther from has been kind enough to answer some of my questions about resistance stretching with a thoughtful reply. This is part of what he wrote:

"Hi Jim,

I took a look at the pictures on your blog. It's difficult for me to know exactly what's going on with your left leg, but it is clear that the thigh is internally rotated while your lower leg/foot is externally rotated. I'm not sure what is causing this. I can appreciate how you wish to find a way to resolve this issue so you can live the active lifestyle you yearn for. My hope for you is that RFST can assist you in this endeavor. I have worked with many people who had previously resigned to the tension/pain that they were experiencing and had come to the conclusion that it was something they would just have to accept and deal with for the rest of their lives. In many of those cases, me and that person have been able to work together to create permanent improvements in those imbalanced areas which really surprised them.

I think there are some health problems that are difficult, if not impossible, to reverse, but am confident that most of the biomechanical problems that people experience can be resolved with RFST. Again, it's difficult for me to give you definite advice on your situation, but I can offer you a bit of what I know about the "shifts" you may be experiencing.

When there is a muscle in the body that is tight or weak, other muscles are recruited to make movements for the tight/weak muscle group. We call this substitution. When this occurs, the bones are pulled out of their proper alignment. This creates a twisting in the body that can cause all sorts of problems.

When you practice Resistance Stretching, you begin to take tension out of the chronically tight muscle groups while strengthening the weak muscles. Relieving the tension allows the muscle to execute it's proper designated actions. For example, the action of the lateral quads is to flex, abduct, and externally rotate the leg. If you were to Resistance Stretch the quads, you would ideally resist by flexing, abducting, and externally rotating the leg, as another person extends, adducts, and internally rotates the leg. Chronic tension would be removed from the quads as you do this and as a result, the bones that had been pulled out of alignment by the substituting muscles would return to their ideal resting position. This may explain the "shift" or little pop in the capsule area you experienced.

However, it takes many repeats of resistance stretching on the chronically tight muscle groups to retrain the muscles permanently. So, as a result, the substituting muscles may once again pull the bones back out of alignment after your stretching session. Additionally, it really requires assisted stretching with another person to make the changes permanent, as it takes twice the force to stretch a muscle as it does to strengthen it, which is something you can't do on your own. Plus, when stretching yourself, you won't be able to resist in all three planes at once. For example, when doing the quad stretch at the wall, you are mainly getting extension and flexion at the hip, without much or any adduction/abduction, internal/external rotation. Unfortunately, I don't know of any trainers in New Hampshire, but there are some in Massachusetts and New York.

However, you can still accomplish quite a bit with self stretching. At the very least, you should be able to prevent your imbalance from getting worse. You have the right idea by stretching the target muscle group and then the balancing, the medial hamstrings. Remember not to push yourself through the stretch. When you get to the point where you can no longer resist, or it feels too tough or painful, stop, do a repeat, and try stretching the balancing muscle groups.

Hopefully this helps you out. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I wish you the best.


What impresses me so far about resistance stretching is that it doesn't hurt or tighten my muslces like traditional stretching. Despite all the force that is generated during the stretch it seems to be "good" force that in my case seems powerful enough to undue all the damage in my muscles and hopefully move things back to the place where the muscles start working the way they are supposed to work.

On Luther's site you can also order for under $10 variations on the stretches. It is a good way to check out the stretches and find ones that work for you. I ordered them and they are then all them posted online for you with pictures and descriptions. The stretch I really like can be seen on one of Luther's free preview pages. Look for Gall Bladder stretch.

I have kept way from running for the past week except for Monday night and Wednesday night. Monday I did the last trail 5k race. I am still about 1 1/2 minutes behind last years time at these races. With my heel still somewhat sore (still don't know if it plantar fasciitis or something else) I have been just mountain biking. The break from running feels good and my body feels good without the stresses of inefficient running.

Monday nights trail race was a race where you start depending on your best time in previous races. The fastest guys didn't show up which meant I started last and by myself. I wore my Nike Free v5 shoes that I have been walking around in all summer. They are so comfortable I didn't want to use them running. So this was my first run in them. They felt OK. I don't know how good they are for racing but my hips felt a bit better than they had been. I think I just missed breaking 20 minutes but it was hard to run by myself until I caught and passed people.

Wednesday I did the track workout. I did 8 X 800m all between 2:55 and 3:00 (except the first which was about 3:03). I used the Nike Free v3 without insoles (they are a bit small). Again I liked the feel. I have used Frees a couple of years ago for some training (up to 16 milers) but never for intervals. After 3 intervals I switched to the Asics Hyperspeeds because the frees were a bit small. They felt clunkier but I went faster. However I am wondering if the bottom of this shoe is too rigid. I had been wearing these for the few weeks before my heel started hurting.

My heel area was OK during the intervals but at the end of the workout (just like the race on Monday) it tightened up.

I will keep from running for a bit to see how things react or hopefully heal.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Feeling Like a Kid Again!

I have spent the last three days playing around on my mountain bike and doing the things I did when I was a kid. It has been refreshing and a pile of fun. Yesterday I went a few houses down the road and entered the woods behind our house. The past few years people on four wheelers have been creating trails and noise back there. It is very technical, at least for me, with short steep uphills and downhills and constant corners. It is not cleared out from downed branches and trees. I spent about 15 minutes back there before heading out back to the trails off Gilson Road. I guess these trails have a name and they are called the Southwest Park Trail-Yuddicky Farms. I biked through there both yesterday and again today.

Today I brought my camera to take some pictures to show my family. They will need to know where to come when I crash and need to be recovered! There is a lot of variety of trails for such a small area. I have yet to cross 111A where I hear there are more trails set up for mountain bikers.

This is where I enter (at the kiosk) off Gilson Road.

There are a variety of trails to ride on and the trails and scenery change quite frequently.

There is a very sandy section.

There are wooded sections,

grassy sections,

a little stream crossing,

and dirt trails.

Here is my bike.

This path was grassy at first,

but turned muddy quickly. It is funny that I have run down Gilson Road hundreds of times, running parallel to this section (the road is about 10 yards away) but I didn't really know exactly what a treasure was back here!

This is the start of the Rail Trail from Nashua to Ayer, Ma. off of Gilson Road and another place to park and access the trails to the left.

This is another entrance I found at the back of the Yudicky Farms playing fields off of 101A. You follow a paved path for a while before hitting the trails.

I have wanted a mountain bike for over 20 years, even though I had never ridden one. It is even more fun then I thought it would be. Put me on a road bike and I just like to go fast, put me on a mountain bike and I get to explore places.

I still haven't run since Thursday night. My right heel still feels funny and the bottoms of both feet still feel tight, but I am enjoying myself trying something new. It is nice not having to figure out why I can't run correctly for a change. My legs are feeling refreshed, but after about 5 hours in the saddle over the past 3 days, my butt is a little more than sore!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Now that was Fun!

No running. Today I took out the mountain bike I recieved last week for winning a contest. First I rode it to some trails off of Gilsun Road in Nashua. I had heard there were some trails back there but I only have gone on the trails when nature calls during a run as most of my runs go down or up Gilsun Road. There is a paved bike path that starts on this road and goes 11-12 miles to Ayer, Ma. and I have run, and kickbiked this trail often, but today was not for a paved road.

The trails were fun. There was a mix of forested area, sandy trails, rocky trails, flowery meadows, and even a few puddles and streams to cross. I just went where my bike took me and did a few miles. I found another guy in there and we rode a bit together. I came out again on Gilsun Road and biked a few miles to the west entrance of Mine Falls Park. I did the loop from Stellos Stadium (where the Monday night 5k races begin) down to the Millyard and back. I have run these trails numerous times, but it was great fun seeing them from another perspective than just running them.

That was the most fun exercising that I have had in a long time. It was good not to be "training" or checking speed or distance traveled. I was out for just about 2 hours and it was just what I needed!

Track and Field started in the Olympics today. NBC is not televising things live. Last night I found you could go here and if you click on the Online TV screen and new page will come up. At the bottom left side of the page is a pull down menu. Pull it down to "Sports TV"> Then on the right hand side on the pull down menu, click on "Danmark Beijing 1 Olympics Live". Then click on the "arrow" button to the right of it. You can watch a live feed of the Olympics here. It is in Danish, however!

So this morning I wanted to watch the women's' 10K live. It came on perfectly and the showed the athletes warming up for awhile. Then the race. It was fantastic. Lornah Kiplaget set a great pace. Runners kept dropping off the back. Then Kara Goucher and Kim Smith fell off the pace. American, Shalane Flanagan, held on to the blistering pace. She was in fifth when she fell back. Soon two more runners fell back, but you could still see Shalane hanging in and I wondered if she had a chance. With two laps to go something happened and my feed died! I worked to get it going but missed the great finish. My feed returned just as Shalane crossed the finish line holding up three fingers and wondering to the crowd if she got third.

She did indeed and with a new American Record. What a great race!

Meanwhile I watched the rest of the 1500 prelims on my ReplayTV. I have 3 ReplayTV's (like a TIVO-just better) connected throughout the house and to each other. While I wait for NBC to replay the track races 12 hours later, I can watch them on my ReplayTV (I also get the French-Canadian channel on Comcast) which tends to show more events live. I had recorded the Canadian channel earlier in the morning and watched the events I wanted to later in the day. The best thing about the ReplayTV's is that I can fast forward through recorded broadcasts and get the events I want (I can watch what is on one ReplayTV box on any of my ReplayTV's) and if I want to watch an entire Olympics broadcast (usually at night) I can start the recording and then wait an hour or two before watching and skip all the commercials or events that I find dull before catching up with the end of the broadcast. The ReplayTV's are some of my favorite and most useful technologies in my life!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shutting Down the Running

After tonight's Cigna 5K I have decided to shut down the running. I can't get my legs to work right and I am nervous about the bottom of my feet. The have been getting tighter and tighter recently and today the right heel was hurting a bit. I have never had plantar fasciitis and I don't want it. Then tendon or muscles on the bottom of my feet are burning and I don't know if is a cumulative thing or something brought on by using insoles.

The past three years I have completed the Cigna 5k in times of 18:11, 18:46, and again 18:46. Tonight I ran 20:13 and it was extremely uncomfortable. I had no control over my legs in terms of getting a rhythm down and both legs were doing different things. I notice that it hurts more to run poorly and inefficiently then it does to run quickly when things are going well. The running was no fun tonight and I just can't get it right this year. So there is no use in beating myself up and thinking that things will get back to normal soon.

I think I will do some biking, both on the roads and on the new mountain bike that arrived last week. It should put some different stresses on my body and that may just be good for a change. I will also get back to working on strength by doing kettlebells. If one day I feel good I will run. I may do track if things go well but I will not make running a priority until my body can figure things out and get back to running evenly and well. I think I am not helping things along by running without a feel for the running movement anymore. It has been a very strange year. I have my back and hips feeling better than they have in years when I am sitting or moving around, but when I try to run there is no proper movement. It is like my legs and hips have forgotten how to get in sync and run naturally.

Hopefully I will be feeling better and running better by the Fall or at least by the new year when I turn 50.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

1234 is NOT a Lucky Number!

This post is the strange but true story of what happened after last years Cigna 5k Road Race in Manchester NH. While the race usually falls the Thursday before the Falmouth Road Race this year it takes place after the Falmouth Road Race. I will be running tomorrow and I will be careful to not get caught in a circumstance like I did last year.

I drove up to the race through the heavy traffic and parked in the Millyard area. I got my number and I looked at it and it was the number 1234. I thought that was cool and the lady handing out the number said something about it too. I got in a port-a-john line and the guy behind me said that 1234 might be a lucky number and I said that we will see. I saw a friend and he said I could put my envelope with the t-shirt in it in the Digital tent (this is also a cooperate team road race). I stuck my car keys in the envelope and left them there for after the race.

The race did not go that well. I had been using posture control insoles since January and while they worked great at first my hip imbalances had returned. I had a new pair in my shoes that I just got in the mail that morning and they had a bigger wedge under the big toe. My running was not smooth however. I did finish in 18:46. Then I hung around had some ice cream sandwiches and sodas that were provided and went to the Digital tent and got my envelope with my keys in it.

When I went to my car I noticed my keys were not in the envelope. I went back to the race area and looked on the ground for them and also in the lost and found but found nothing. Most people had already left the race and the clean up had begun. I walked back to my car to see if I could find them again and took the t-shirt out of the bag. I saw it wasn't a new t-shirt but an old t-shirt and it wasn't mine. I looked at the tag and it wasn't my envelope. I went to the Digital tent as they were taking it down. My envelope and keys were not there. No one had seen them. I thought someone must have taken it home by mistake at this time.

Fortunately I saw a friend and he had a cell phone so I called home. A message machine with my daughter's voice on it was all I could get. I left a message for my wife to come pick me up. I must say my friend offered me a ride home, but I knew it was way out of the way for him to go to my home, so I told him to try again and call my wife and let her know that I was waiting to be picked up.

So I sat on the bridge by the highway exit waiting for my wife. I waited a couple of hours and she never came. I decided to go down the road where I saw some gas stations and stores and to call again. I got the message machine again and this time I said I would be running home and they could pick me up along the way. I figured maybe it was a 15 mile run and it was already after 10:00 pm. I started running but after 1/2 mile I got a pain in my calf where I had an injury months earlier so I started walking instead.

I kept looking for my wife's car but it never showed up. I walked and walked. Fortunately it was a most pleasant night. I only had my racing shorts, singlet, and my super light Puma H-Street shoes. I carried a can of orange soda and the key-chain award that was given to all finishers. Great I had a key chain but no keys!

At about 1:30 at night I came to a place where I made another call. Again I got my message machine and I knew no one's phone number off the top of my head to call so I kept walking. I was wondering if my family was out looking for me. Where the police trolling the river to see if I fell in? Had something happened to my family because I knew they were spending the day with friends at the seashore and they had a bit of a car ride home?

I got to a Dunkin Donuts and a worker gave me some money to use the pay phone. Again the same message came up! Back to walking I went.

In Merrimack a police car came up and stopped. He wanted to know what I was doing. I told him my situation and he said he would drive me to the edge of Merrimack, but first he needed all my information. I gave him name, address, ect. Then once he got that he said he had a call he had to check out and would be back for me if he had the time. He never came back. I kept walking.

By 3:00 AM I was in the neighborhood near my school. People were out wandering the streets. I wondered what they thought of the guy in the light shorts and racing singlet with the big dog picture on the back. As I walked down Main Street in Nashua, I encountered street people. One guy was lying on a bench and whistling some song. I heard him for a long time as I walked on by. I saw delivery trucks making early morning deliveries and kept walking knowing it would be another hour to go.

The night was clear. The air was cool and breezy and I had long ago decided to enjoy the challenge rather than getting angry or stressing over it. By 4:00 AM a light drizzle started and finally at 4:30 I made it home. Our van was in the driveway so my wife was home. They lights were off. I entered the house. Everyone was asleep including my wife!! I woke her up and asked her if she hadn't missed me. She looked at the clock and asked me where I had been.

I told her of my long walk. It seems she was so tired after the beach that she went right to bed. Our phone had no messages on it, in fact the phone did not work. We have Vonage internet phone and it seems something happened to our router and the phone was not working and the message was going to a web based message box. Our computer wasn't working either because of the router so there was no way for my wife to know that I left messages and it would have been impossible for her to know how to fix the router anyhow.

I went to bed very tired. The walk had taken 6 hours. The weather was so nice I had never opened the can of soda and had carried it the whole way. When we went to pick up my car the next morning I measured the distance I had walked. It was a 23 mile walk. But I have to admit it was somewhat enjoyable taking care of myself on the road by walking. I am not sure what most people would have done in my circumstance.

What happened to my keys? Later on that day after I fixed the router I got to the phone messages. My "unnamed" friend from digital had left a bunch of messages. The first was from Thursday night saying he had taken my envelope and t-shirt home from the race because he saw it in the tent and he thought I had gone home. The only reason he knew it was mine was because the envelope had said number 1234 and he had remembered me laughing about that number before the race. Then there was another panicky message from him. "Jim, Oh no, I see your keys in the envelope! Sorry, I hope you made it home all right!" There were also messages from my friend with the cell phone telling my wife where I was and to pick me up!

All in all, 1234 definitely is NOT a lucky number. Imagine my surprise when I picked up my race number for the Hollis Applefest 1/2 Marathon a month later and I started reading the numbers I had been assigned. " 1.....2......3.......(oh no)......5". Well 1235 turned out to be a much better number!

Three days later I ran the Falmouth Road Race. The bottom of my feet were sore from the walk. I decided not to wear the posture control insoles any more. That is why I wore the Aline insoles I picked up the day before Falmouth at the Expo. This year I am sure my Cigna race time will be much slower than previous years, but I know I will definatley be home much earlier that last year when the race is done. My wife has procedures and fall backs in place so I don't lose my keys again!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Falmouth Road Race

Here I am checking how slow I am going at the Falmouth Road Race!

There is a
nice video of the 2008 Falmouth Road Race taken from the press truck here. You can see much of the men's race as it unfolds.

On Sunday, August 10th I ran the 36th Falmouth Road Race. I first ran the race in 1975. I have run the race most years since then. The slowest I ever ran was that first year I ran when I was just 16 years old. This year I was worried than I might run slower than that time. I have been training but it has not gone well. My hips are tight and sore and that along with muscle imbalances are slowing my racing times drastically this year.

Anyhow I love running Falmouth so I was ready to run, but I was telling myself to not stress about the time as no one really cares what I run as a time and to just try to relax and take the race as it comes.

I got my race number #250 and went to the rec center on Saturday for the pre-race show. The most noteworthy thing this year was that I went to the Aline booth and met Alan Neveau. I bought a pair of Aline foot devices before the road race last year and used them during the race (not suggested). My legs felt balanced when I did the race that year and I used them for about a couple of months, but my imbalances came back and they were somewhat heavy in my running shoes.

This year I noticed the devices looked a bit different. They were red and seemed a bit smaller. I talked with Alan and he said this version was new and just out. They were lighter, slimmer, and had a few other improvements. He fit them to my feet. They check out your ankle and knee alignment. He had me bend my knees foward and told me that my achilles tendons were very tight as I had a hard time pushing the knee forward. I notice that as I run as it seems my knees do not bend forward much over my ankle. Alan said that the Aline foot devices shoes help with that but to stretch the achilles and to use something like the ProStretch


I have a pair of those at home as I must have bought them over 15 years ago and I think the Prostretch was the first device I ever bought to help with running problems.

After Alan got me fitted he very nicely told me that he was giving me the pair he fit me with to replace the ones I had last year. He also told me not to run the race in them like I did last year!

I put them in my shoes to walk and run in and to watch the Falmouth Mile that night. They do seem to balance my feet out better. Despite my hip problems my feet have been a problem area this year also. I can't figure out if the hips change the way my feet work or if my feet change the way my hips work. I have tried over-the- counter inserts, ortho-heel inserts, inserts of my own making, and no inserts the past few months. Nothing has felt right. I notice that the tendons (or fascia) at the bottom of my feet are also very tight and stiff (not to to point of pain) but I am nervous that a problem may be coming. I have not found the solution to this or my hip problems yet, but I liked the feel of my Aline footbeds in my shoes as I walked around and my hips were loosening up as the day progressed, I didn't run at all Saturday.

I did what I wasn't supposed to do and decided to wear the Aline footbeds as I raced Sunday. At this point I knew I couldn't race well anyhow and why not see how they felt. I put them in the Asics Hyperspeeds I got a couple of weeks ago (nice shoe- they feel like the Asics Tiger Paws I loved a few years back) and even though the shoes may be a tiny bit smaller than I like they fit inside easily.

I got to the starting line and hung around waiting for the start (I get to start in the front group so I don't have to worry about crowds or other things- I can just hang out in Woods Hole). As the gun went off I started running. I knew I didn't have the racing stuff but got off to a decent pace. The Aline foot beds felt all right. When I looked down my left leg seemed to be tracking straighter. The weather was nice and sunny and it seemed like a nice day. There was a slight tail wind however and that sort of kept all your body heat stuck to your body. It was not a cooling breeze.

My legs were tight. My hips were tight and not coordinated. There was no speed, no pushing to go faster, and no racing on my part. But it still hurt to run and was an effort. When you are running poorly it always seems to hurt more and take more effort than when you are running quickly and things are going well! During the race I was hot and worried that my pace my slow and I would have a time slower than my race in 1975 or not break 50 minutes at all. My body certainly was not adjusted to the Aline insoles and I think some muscles were fatiqued or not working as well because of them but I don't think they slowed me down. While my overall pace was disappointing I didn't crash completely and ran to a 48:52 finish which is just about a 7 minute mile pace. I still think that if I could get my alignment back I should be able to run the race at 6 minute pace or faster, but I have to get this body figured out first. I finished 354th.

After the race I went straight to the massage table area and got in line for a massage. I met Sean Gallagher of Gallagher Family Chiropractic in Falmouth. We have met many times after the road race and Cape Cod Marathon where he donates his services after races. He always says hello and usually works on me after Falmouth (many times I feel better after the race than before!). He worked on my legs. The first thing he said was a remark about my left leg being longer than the other. I even had a heel lift in my right shoe. Then he did some adjustments and showed me a stretch for my hips. He is a nice guy and a very good chiropractor for athletes.

That was it for Falmouth 2008. I had a nice blister under my left arch -just like last year when I used the Alines for the first time so I will now slowly start letting my feet and body adjust to them and see how they work out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Resistance Stretching: This is what Dara Torres does!

Last Monday I took out a couple of stretching books that I bought a couple of years ago to flip through again to see if I could learn something new or helpful to help with my misaligned hips and legs. I first checked out "Stretch to Win" by Ann and Chris Frederick. It is a book that presents stretching in a well-thought out way with some interesting moves but I remembered doing these before with the the results that I needed to fix my biomechanics. I would recommend it however to someone with good biomechanics that needs to work on their whole body flexibility.

I then took out "The Genius of Flexibility" by Bob Cooley. I am not sure I had delved much into this book before because after buying it I noticed it didn't really tell you which muscles were being stretched, however it did list all sorts of psychological and emotional benefits you would get from each stretch and it seemed a bit far-fetched to precisely claim all these benefits from doing stretching exercises. Reading the stretching parts carefully I noticed that there is a difference in how you perform the stretched compared to what you would think when looking at the pictures (where they may look like traditional stretching).

I read that this is something new called "resistance stretching". To stretch a muscle this way you contract the muscle you are stretching as you stretch it out. "To stretch muscles, you start in a position where the muscles are as short as possible and then CONTRACT the muscles while elongating the muscle as far as possible until the muscles can no longer contract." I decided to try two stretches on Tuesday night. I did the hamstring stretch and the quadriceps stretch. I have found an example of both stretches here:

While doing the quadriceps stretch I heard a little pop from around my left hip capsule and a lot of the tightness in there disappeared. I felt real good after both stretches and did them again Wednesday before the track workout. I had a real good workout and my stride felt better than it had in a long time. I did 4 X mile in 6:09, 6:07, 5:59, 6:02. I was pretty happy with those results and the feeling of a somewhat better stride. I then headed down to Falmouth for the Road Race on Sunday. I went out for runs on Thursday and Friday but felt extremely tight. I was still doing the stretches and a few others. I notice that I feel better without the tightness in my hips when sitting, walking, or sleeping, but my running stride was still very tight and awkward. I didn't stretch much Saturday (or run) and started loosening up more by nighttime. I felt somewhat loose before the race on Sunday but my hips and muscles are very much limiting me as I run.

I ordered the DVD on this stretching system from Bob Cooley's website as well as one from this website that uses the same method and now are the people working with Dara Torres. Yes that is right. You have probably heard about Dara Torres extreme and expensive fitness routine that helped her get to her fifth Olympics in swimming. You may have heard about the $100,000 of yearly expenses that she has that includes hiring two personal "stretchers". Well "resistance stretching" is the type of stretching that she does. It can be done as a self-stretching routine, but I guess it is most powerful when someone else stretches you. After all it is claimed by the resistance stretchers that is takes twice as much force to stretch a muscle as it does to strengthen it. By turning around resistance stretches, you can do strength exercises.

I like how my muscles around my joints feel after I do the stretches. They feel warm or hot like a fire is burning in them. I don't feel like I am ripping something apart like I sometimes feel when doing static stretches. I also think that with my ingrained patterns of muscle movement while running and moving that I need something very powerful to get me back into proper form and movement. This type of stretching seems to offer that. I will give it a shot. It is new and different (and thanks to Dara Torres) something that will be looked at a lot by athletes and others. I didn't find much web information or impressions of other people who use the program yet, but I did find some interesting links.

First, here is a New York Times article on Dara Torres that is very interesting. If you go to that article you can find a video of Dara doing some resistance stretching or you can find it here. Here she demonstrates some self-stretching exercises.

Here is a video on Dara Torres from the E-60 television show. Near the end you can see some of expensive training routines including a bit of stretching with her stretchers.

This video show Dara in 2000 when she first started using Resistance Stretching. It shows Bob Cooley and others stretching Dara. This is a very different form of stretching than most people are used to seeing.

If you really want to see an interesting video of Bob Cooley and others stretching an athlete in Holland check out this video.

Here is a recently published article on resistance stretching from Time magazine.

Here is a commentary on the article that includes a post from Dara Torres' trainers.

Here is a 2006 Running Times article on resistance stretching.

The 2008 Falmouth Mile Men's Race

The 2008 Men's race was the fastest Falmouth Mile ever as Jon Rankin raced to a 3:56.45 finish. Here is a photo I took of the men's award ceremony.

1. Jon Rankin, San Diego, Calif. 3:56.45 2. John Jefferson, Eugene, Ore. 3:56.82 PR 3. Curt Benninger, Providence RI/Canada, 3:56.99 PR 4. Mike Moran, Williamsburg, Vir. 4:00.01 5. Will Leer, Eugene, Ore. 4:00.58 6. Tim Nelson, Madison, Wisc. 4:01.14 7. Will Leer, Eugene, Ore. 4:01.14 8. Sean Quigley, Philadelphia, PA. 4:01.97 9. Jonathon Riley, Madison, Wisc. 4:02.51 10. Abiyot Endale, Ethiopia nt 11. Christian Hesch, Morro Beach, Cal nt

The recent high school grad who rabbited the race did a great job getting it out to a fast start and the runners stayed strung out from that point on as Jon Rankin took charge and held on for a fast mile. Here is some video I took of the race.

Mens start:

Lap one:

Lap two:

Lap three:


Here is the video of the Falmouth Mile.

Here is a Flotrack video interview of Jon Rankin after the race. That is my daughter Emily and myself sometimes in the background.

The 2008 Falmouth Mile Women's Race

Saturday night I went to the Falmouth High School track to watch the Falmouth Mile. It is always fun to watch the elite runners race on the night before the Falmouth Road Race. I started my running career on this track when I saw in ninth grade at Falmouth High School in 1973 when the High School was first opened (the track has been resurfaced since that time). It seemed like a nice night for racing as the weather was neither that hot or windy (compared to previous years).

Amy Mortimer won the female race. We like to cheer for Tiffany McWilliams as she was a student at Mississippi State University where my brother is a professor. She fininshed second. Here is a photo I took of the top women at the awards ceremony.

1. Amy Mortimer, Providence, R.I. 4:32.90 2. Tiffany McWilliams, Starkville, Miss 4:33.80 3. Jullie Culley, Arlington, Vir. 4:34.80 PR 4. MaryJayne Reeves, Newnan, Geo. 4:34.80 5. Jenelle Deatherage, St. Louis Park, Minn. 4:38.09

Here is some video I took of each lap.

Lap one:

Lap two:

Lap three:


Here is a video from of the full mile.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Review of 2006 Falmouth Road Race

This is a review I wrote of the 2006 Falmouth Road Race for the Gate City Strider's Newsletter. Here is my son Andrew (in the blue shirt) running his first Falmouth at 16 years old. I ran my first Falmouth at the same age.

The Falmouth Road Race began in the year 1973 as a 7 mile run from Woods Hole to Falmouth. Less than 100 runners participated and although I did not run I was aware of the race as Falmouth is my hometown . Just a few weeks after the first Falmouth Road Race I joined the Falmouth High School Cross-Country team and started my own running career. I didn’t run the Road Race until the third edition. in 1975 but I have run it just about every year since so I have grown up with the Falmouth Road Race and continue to do battle with it to this day.

This years race was to be a special race not for me but for my family as my son Andrew would be running the race, at 16 years old he is the same age I was when I first ran Falmouth, and most remarkably my wife, Sarah, would also be running her first ever road race.

If you are running Falmouth you need to show up a day or two early. Andy and I arrived Friday night and went to the Road Race spaghetti dinner. We took my dad and went to the Lawrence School off of Main Street and found out they were not even serving spaghetti this year. Instead they had clam chowder and sandwiches. This native Cape Codder decided to be adventurous and had his first clam chowder ever! On the way out of the school we went back to our car parked near the tennis courts. My dad is an avid tennis player and still plays in leagues and tournaments despite undergoing cancer treatment last year at 75. We used to play on these courts often when I was a kid. Missing though, from the present scene is the old hardtop outdoor track. that used to be next to the courts. It was 7 or 8 laps to a mile and had severe banking in the turns. One day back when I was in about sixth grade my dad took my brother and sisters and me to play tennis at these courts. After that we raced a lap. I lost so I kept going and going and going. I ended up running 2 miles just to save myself from the embarrassment of being slowest in the family. My dad told me I would make a good cross-country runner. I really didn’t want to run across the county but I guess that is what you do if you don‘t have any speed.

Saturday night I took my whole family to see the Falmouth Mile at the High School Track. They are currently renovating the high school but when I entered 9th grade it was a brand new school and this track (although it has been beautifully resurfaced) was the track I began my cross-county and track running career running around. The road race tries to bring in top milers to the track and I have observed a few sub 4 minutes miles run here. The last time my kids came to the track my daughter Emily ran a short race alongside Colleen De Reuk’s daughter and we sat on the track beforehand with Alan and Shayne Culpepper getting ready for the mile race but that was 6 of 7 years ago. For some reason there is no men’s race and only a women’s mile this year. Emily is happy to see Carrie Tollefson running as she has her autographed poster on her wall. As expected Tiffany McWilliams takes the lead for most of the race. She is from Mississippi State University, where my brother is a professor, so we cheer her on. Carrie Tollofson wins in 4:27:96 and Tiffany McWilliams finishes 3rd also under 4:30. Then it is back home from the race as I have two nervous first time racers to get ready for Sunday’s big 7 miler.

The Start
We go to get on the buses early to transport us to Woods Hole. I used to run to the start, a few miles from my parents home, but the roads are real dangerous with all the buses so now I get bused in. At Woods Hole I say my good byes and give best wishes to Andy and Sarah and head out to the seeded section of the start. I am number 198 and get to start in the elite- sub elite corral. This holds a great fascination to me as I have been privileged to see and warm up with some of the greatest runners ever. We also get our own port-a- johns. I have stood in the line next to many elites through the years. One year I stood in line and talked with Steve Scott. Last year I did the same with Falmouth Mile winner Jason Lunn. A few years year I stretched and talked with Khalid Kannouchie before he won the race. This was before he was a marathon world record holder. When I first ran Falmouth in1975. the race was on its way to legendary world class status. This was because the race directors had a double coup of getting the reigning Olympic Champion, Frank Shorter, and Bill Rodgers fresh off his surprise first Boston win both in the race. This was sort of the unofficial start of mass start road racing and the running boom joining together with the idea of world class runners entering and running alongside the mere mortals. As a high school runner I was more than excited to see these two superstars on my home turf. The only athlete I would have loved to meet more at that time in my life would have been Carl Yastrzemski ! I usually see Bill and Frank often in the starting corral. They now start behind me as they jog the race as ambassadors of the golden age of road running. Through the years I have met many Olympians and World Class runners at Falmouth. I have still never met Yaz.

The wheelchair racers go off along with the Hoyts. I get in about 10 rows back from the starting line and await the fun. Andy and Sarah will have to wait a bit more as Falmouth now has wave starts and they will start many crowded minutes after me. As I wait I cannot help but remember the summer I worked as a janitor in the world famous Marine Biology Labs where the runners further back are standing awaiting there start. Most days I would run most of the road race course back home after work as my parents then lived in Falmouth Heights near the finish.

After the F-15s fly overhead the gun goes off. Quickly we run over the grated draw bridge. It is only crowded for less than ¼ mile and then I can start running free. We head up a slight uphill around Woods Hole Harbor and take a sharp right and go over a wooden bridge. I love the spring as we go over that bridge and then it is slightly downhill. I notice that no spectators are on the grass on the left hand side of the road and I move over onto it for a bit. This reminds me of how I used to run the course in the earlier years. In 1975 I remember getting off the grass and then back onto the road and hearing shouts behind me, “On your Left!” I looked back and saw a wheelchair barreling down on me, I quickly moved aside in time as wheelchair racing pioneer Bob Hall went rolling past in what looked like an ordinary wheelchair. Now wheel chair racers get their own start and Bob Hall makes those technological chairs that they use. The course takes a left and the ocean opens up in front of us. Yes, this is Falmouth. I look up and see the Nobska Lighthouse ahead and the lead runners already running up the hill around the light. It is the last sightseeing I do. I realize that for the past few years I never look at the scenery anymore as I run this race. I know every step of the course and concentrate on the job at hand which is following the road. My wife tells me she enjoyed the views the whole race during this her first Falmouth and I know she will think fondly of the lighthouse because this is where I proposed to her.

Mile 1
The mark is on the road and a clock tells me I ran a 6:10 mile. My hips are tight and I wanted to go much faster. That is not a good sign for the day. Gosh I remember hitting the mile over a minute faster years ago. My favorite Falmouth memory is here at mile one. OK so it wasn’t really in the Falmouth Road Race but in the “Falmouth in the Fall Road Race“, a smaller version of the race run on the same course with only about 500 runners. It was 10 years ago in 1996, I had just completed 3 marathons in the 3:05 range and finally broke 1:20 at the Hollis Half Marathon, all in the 5 weekends before the Falmouth in the Fall race. Having just run the Cape Cod Marathon the week before on the same roads I expected to be a bit worn out but ambled down to Falmouth one more time to run the road race course. I was in the lead pack before the first mile mark and as we headed up the hill around Nobska Light I decided to take the lead before we crested the hill, once there I lengthened my stride on the downhill side and ended up with a 40-50 yard lead. How many times had I dreamed of being good enough to lead the Falmouth Road Race and here I was, well in its little brother, in that same spot. I had a lead vehicle in front of me and I was staring back at the race directors in the back of a pickup looking at me in front of the race. I haven’t had many lead vehicles to run with in my day and it was fun and unnerving. After a mile more of racing I got passed once and then after another mile got passed again. But I held off a group of runners that were breathing down my neck for the rest of the race and finished third overall. Then I had even more fun after the race at the awards ceremony. I recognized a face I hadn’t seen since high school. He was the kid who lived across the street from me when I was a kid and used to pick on me quite a bit. I introduced myself and asked how his race went. It was very rewarding to let him know about my place and time. I bet he just wanted to throw rocks at me again for old times sake!

Mile 2
The second mile of the race takes you through shaded winding roads. I like this section of the course. It is usually cooler. I remember running with Joan Benoit at this section of the race for a while before she passed me one year and that was years before she became an Olympic Marathon Champion.

Mile 3
At this point in the race you leave the trees and head towards Surf Drive. On a hot day it can get steamy here. This years race had absolutely beautiful weather. It is in the low 70’s with no wind and a blue sky. I know the ocean is on my right and beyond the crowds on either side of the road is a pond. In 9th grade I would ride my bike the 5 miles to school and then leave school sometime in the afternoon, often before school was over, to ride bikes with a buddy. We’d head to his house. We’d get his 2 seater kayak and go out on the pond near his house, the very one we are running by now and then take it out on the ocean where we’d tip it over and swim all along Surf Drive with no one else in sight. That would be the last year I attended Falmouth High School. It would be off to a College Preparatory School on Long Island the next three years where I would have to get a bit more serious. I also think this play helped out with the triathlon bug I acquired just a few years later.

Miles 4 -5
After the four mile mark on Surf Drive the course leaves the ocean as it starts making its way towards Falmouth Harbor. I remember visualizing a hand pushing me from behind back when I was younger and just coasting along the course. I can not visualize anything that can get my hips working right this year. I feel good and not tired but my hips just don’t work right and I am fighting my body this year. In 1997 at the 25th running of the Falmouth Road Race Frank Shorter caught up to me at this point. We ran together and hit the 5 mile mark at exactly 29 minutes flat. Hearing a voice behind him Frank Shorter turned around to talk with a guy catching up. I look. It is former winner Rod Dixon. My goodness where are the cameras when you really need a picture taken? They would both go on to finish ahead of me but what I thrill running with such superstars. Now we are entering the part of the course where I used to deliver the daily newspaper when I was in junior high and we head up alongside Falmouth Harbor. I realize the race is going swiftly. I wonder how Andy and Sarah are doing. The course is not crowded for me and there are runners 30 yards in front and 30 yards in back. I am on my own, a feeling that I am sure those two will not get today!

Miles 6 and 7
We go around the harbor. I like the little downhill and the quick corners here. Soon we’ll be heading up Falmouth Heights Road. Across from the Island Queen Ferry terminal on the Harbor is the back entrance to the church that I grew up in and that my father was the minister of for over 40 years. I used to get a lot of cheers here but the last few years I go unrecognized. However as I approach the spot I hear “Go Jim!” Ten or twenty people pick up the chant. I look to see if I recognize anyone and notice no one is looking at me. They are looking at and cheering a runner 10 yards behind me. I used to run a 3 mile loop on this road sometimes 3 or 4 times in a row when I lived at home so I could keep running by the harbor and later by the beach. I pass 10k and head straight towards the ocean. As we reach it we turn left and head towards the finish line. The crowds grow deep and vocal, but we have a bit of a hill to climb up. I am home free now and scamper up the hill because I know there is a long downhill to the finish. Boy I love these roads. The finish line hill appears and it is all downhill to the end. I finish in 189th with a time of 44:18, a typical finish for me. Definitely not the top 100 performance I keep striving for. I cross the chip mat and stop. Taking the chip off my foot, I throw it in a bucket. It is a remarkable change from the 1975. I still have the typewritten 3 by 5 card with 350 written on it given to me to mark my initial placing that year. I also have the typewritten and photocopied results from 1975. Actually two sets of results as I finished 188th in the field for runners that had joined the AAU. There is another set of results for those who did not join. These results are called the Falmouth “Run for Fun”. I guess they didn’t want the non AAU runners contaminating the true AAU runners, or maybe they just figured out a way to get money out of this new road racing fad trying to get runners to pony up some money! A 67 year old runner named Johnny Kelly beat me that year 32 Falmouths ago by 4 minutes! And Frank Shorter beat Bill Rodgers in what would become the first of many intriguing duals!

Post Race
1975 would be my slowest Falmouth ever, so far. My fastest was in 1980. I was getting ready for my senior year of cross-country season at Wheaton College in Illinois. I had run over 1000 miles in the 12 weeks leading up to Falmouth and I finally broke the 40 minute barrier by finishing 184th in 39:58 seconds. The official results did not come out for a few weeks (no internet back then!) and it was at college that I saw they had given the top Falmouth Resident Award to a kid who had finished just 13 seconds in front of me. I was real disappointed as I would have really liked to have won an award at my home town race. It came out that this runner was from one of the fastest running families in Massachusetts history. He was just moving to town, maybe arriving a day before the race, maybe not. He also had suffered heat exhaustion and may have been moved to a different finishing corral. At the very least he got to start in the elite start and I had to wait lined up behind a barrier in Woods Hole for over an hour just to be near the front. I was told that I would be put in the elite start the next year and by the way “College kids aren’t true residents anyhow.” It was sour news to me and as you can see from my writing, Falmouth is truly indeed my hometown! This boy and his siblings would go on to win many big championships in their high school and college careers, and it was nice they wanted to make him and his family feel welcome in a new town. But personally, I felt I was the first true Falmouth resident that year and as someone who could never win anything at that point in my running career I really did want the award!

I have business now that the race is over. I head over to the massage tables and am one of the first there. I get the knot in my hip worked on then head back up the road race course. The runners keep coming wave after wave and it is very dizzying. Where’s Andy? Where’s Sarah? Andy started running cross-country for Nashua South last year. He is slowly growing into the sport. I refuse to push my kids into running as they need to make it their own sport. He had raced the July fourth kids race in Nashua about 10 years ago or so and the Brookline race for kids that went with the extinct and missed Brookline 5 miler, but had steered away from running until last year. Wow, I almost missed him. He runs by in a huge pack and I see him at the last moment in front of me. He looks strong and finishes in 59:57.

Then I wait for Sarah. She has never run this far before. She was a faithful fan before we were married. She came to cheer me on at Falmouth and in the triathlons I was doing in the 1980’s. She even came to cheer me on and be my support in 3 of the 5 Ironman distance triathlons I did on Cape Cod. Now that was a long day of support and I do think my antics back then kept her away from desiring to do any sort of race or even attempt the training involved. However a year and half ago the kids and I all wanted to run the Millennium Mile. The youngest, Hannah was only 4 at the time and so she couldn’t run it alone. Sarah figured she could walk and jog with Hannah but found she couldn’t keep up. That opened her eyes and she started walking on the treadmill and eating healthy. For over a year the treadmill walks went from difficult to easy to longer to part running to lots of running. In over a years time she only missed 2 days of on that treadmill. This year she ran the Millennium Mile with Hannah until I finished and came back on the course to meet them. Then she easily ran ahead of our 5 year old to the finish.

After a year of treadmill running and as Spring rolled around she started running outdoors. Then one day during the Spring I offered Andy and Sarah anoption to run Falmouth. They really weren’t too enthused but thought they wouldn’t get in through the lottery anyhow so they amused me and let me send in the entries.

Now Sarah was actually running and with a sore leg wasn’t sure what she was doing out there. As I waited I thought she would see me and either slap me or tell me how much fun she was having. Soon she trotted into view and I had my best ever Falmouth Road Race moment. I jumped on to the course ran beside her a bit then let her finish it on her own. Who would have thought she would ever run this race! Sarah finished in 1:24:29. Oh she was having fun for which my face is very happy.

Falmouth is still my favorite road race. I have done it just about every year since 1975. I missed a few due to triathlons back in the 1980’s and also a few other times due to broken bones or injuries. I can still run the course over 6 minutes faster than 31 years ago and only less than 4 ½ minutes slower than my best time 26 years ago. I think that is a record that most runners from the past cannot achieve anymore. As I look at the results. I can only count 10 men older than my 47 years who finished in front of me out of the 8000 runners this year.

After finding Sarah and Andy on the Heights ball field amidst thousands of runners we get some food and head for our car. I see an older friend who knew me since I was a kid. He tells Sarah and Andy that everyone that knew me long ago knew that I was not very fast but that I did have a lot of endurance. That is a pretty good summary as I have lasted a long time at the running game and it all started in Falmouth!