Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Falmouth Road Race

Thursday the doctor told me I probably had a cracked rib. I was given some pain relief pills (50 heavy duty pills that I never used) and 50 other pills to also conquer the pain (that's a lot of pain medication!). Things did not look good for me. But Friday morning it only took a minute to maneuver out of bed, after taking about an hour the previous morning. Things were getting better. I went down Friday night to Falmouth so I could watch the Falmouth Mile and then the Road Race.

Saturday I started thinking, "What if I could run the road race?" I had not tried running since Wednesday night but I could walk around fine. I asked a therapist at the road race exhibition on Saturday about my rib. I was wondering if a lot of the pain had been muscular. I had broken a couple of ribs at the same spot a few years ago and was thinking that the intercostal muscles might have been acting up and protecting my rib when I was doing the intervals on Wednesday. He said it could be that or the oblique muscles. When talking to some former high school teammates at the Falmouth Mile, one was with a friend who was a radiologist and he also said it could be part muscular and noted that there is a sensitive nerve running underneath the ribs where I was hurt. He also said if I ran, nothing bad would really happen. The weather seemed perfect for the road race on Sunday and I really didn't want to miss it. I decided to pin my number on and head down to the start and see what would happen. If I couldn't run, I could always walk the course or walk back to my parent's house.

I heading down to the Mullen-Hall School (where I attended 2nd -5th grade) to park my car and walked to get a bus to the start. Once at Woods Hole I headed towards the "elite" corral (I know it is fun to say that) away from the mass of 10,000 other runners. Runners with numbers 1-500 (I was 260) get to warm up and start at the front of the barricades keeping all the other runners away. We get our own porta-johns and plenty of space to stretch out and warm-up. I bumped into my former high school teammate Duncan Warden and talked with him quite a bit. He is also doing the Paleo diet, and is still into Triathlons (he is a trainer- the first two triathlons I did in 1983 where races that Duncan also did, then my third race that year was an Ironman distance race, Duncan did not do an Ironman until he did Lake Placid last year. It is funny that we have had similar interests. He also used to play my dad a lot in tennis leagues). He had swum from Martha's Vinyard to Woods Hole a couple of days earlier (something he did last year too) which is something I have always wanted to do.

I tried some strides to see if I could run and my ribs did not hurt. So far so good! I bumped into a bunch of elite athletes, watched the wheelchair racers start and then got ready for the start of the Falmouth road race. I decided I was not going to race the course, but try to enjoy it this year and look around. Usually when I finish, I recall nothing of looking at the ocean or Nobska Lighthouse. I decided this was a good year to sightsee.

I started slower than I would like, passed Bill Rodgers at 1/4 mile into the race and ran tentatively. My ribs felt tight but there was no pain. I hit the first mile in about 6:38 the slowest I have ever gone in this race that I have done about 25 times. I noticed it was hard to breathe, I could not expand my ribs to breathe hard, so I kept the pace at a easy tempo. I worked a bit on my form and every once in a while I felt like I was improving and locking in a better stride based on using the Feldenkrais running tips I had been using.

By about 4 miles I started passing people who went out too hard. I still couldn't get a good breath in, so my running was not strained at all. I kept it right at the level of not having to breathe deeply. I slowly kept reeling in runners one by one. Finally I approached the crowds at the finish. I saw the clock ticking in the 46 minute range and although it was downhill to the finish I could not sprint like I wanted and finished a few ticks over 47 minutes for the 7 mile course. I was thrilled that I had finished without pain and my ribs did not start acting up after stopping. My legs felt good and loose. I went over to the massage table, and told Sean Gallagher, the chiropractor I usually get an adjustment from after the race that I had finished (the night before I saw him and said that I might run with my rib hurting). I also said I didn't need a massage or adjustment because my legs and back were feeling a lot better than usual.

According to the results I came in 316th overall (out of over 10,000). I was the 278th male to finish and 17th overall in the 50-60 year old age group. I was the 16th male in the age group as Joan Benoit-Samuelson beat all but three males in the 50 and over group. I will take those results and the nice run, particularly when I was not supposed to run. My wife was a bit upset that I ran when she joined me later in the day at the Cape. I also realized that I never looked at the scenery once while I was running. I couldn't even tell you what hue of blue the ocean was during the race. Duncan Warden finished in 50:32.

The race was won by a nineteen year old Ethiopian named Tilahun Regassa and an Ethiopian woman, Mamitu Daska, won the woman's race.

Check out the awesome race by Tilahun Regassa. He was having a great time out there!

I spent the next two days at Old Silver Beach in Falmouth and on Martha's Vinyard. While my family swam I read an interesting book on the Olympics: "Rome 1960: The Summer Olympics That Stirred the World" by David Maraniss I was only one year old at the time so I don't remember much about these Olympic games. I didn't start watching the Olympics until Mexico City in 1968. I have seen the footage of Abebe Bikila running the marathon barefoot. I know about Rafer Johnson and Wilma Rudulph, but this book put these people in historical context. It was a fascinating time. Tension in a split Germany, the Cold War heating up, athletes beginning to use drugs (a cyclist died), amateurism and companies and athletes realizing the commercial appeal of the Games, television (Jim McKay made his first sports broadcasts), rascism in America, an obnoxious and loquacious boxer named Cassius Clay, even the "softening" of America. I enjoyed reading the many undertones that circulated around these Olympic Games. Although many of the great athletes and events are covered the purpose was not to give us the training and history of athletes like Bikila except at a very superficial and historical level.

I did not run Monday or Tuesday. Today I did my normal 8 mile route. I am concentrating on not fighting my body, but trying to make the parts: shoulders,hips, and feet to work together. I can't hold the form, but I get an improvement every once in a while and it feels so much more loose and free to run this way. I ran the loop a little over a minute faster than my best time since last fall. True, I am losing weight and feeling better due to the Paleo diet, but I still could not breathe hard so my faster running can also be attributed to an improving running efficiency.


Scotty "PHAT" Graham said...


Way to go. Sometimes when you have no expectations you can surprise yourself. You amaze me every time you race. One day you sound like you're on your death bed, the next your running a great race.

Mike Merra said...

Great race Jim!! I had a feeling you'd rally at Falmouth after talking to you at our Strider workout 8/5!

Jim Hansen said...

Hey Mike,
I see that Craig Fram ran a 5k today only a minute faster than your 18:05. You are catching up to the best 50 year old in the country!

I think that death bed vs. feeling good dichotomy is what we 50 year olds have to face.

Interesting new thread here on Over 50 running: