Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Functional Hallux Limitis

Functional Hallux Limitis. That is the name. Hopefully I have the fix. I have been trying to get my hip, back and stride fixed for too many years. I now have a name for what has been causing my imbalance, form, functioning, and pain problems. I have to give kudus to Dr. Baroody for identifying the problem. Well, actually I believe it was identified 20 years ago, but I did not understand the issue and could not afford the treatment. Twenty year after seeing Dr. Dananberg the first time, I went back again yesterday. He also identified the Functional Hallix Limitis and fit me in a pair of the Vasyli-Dananberg insoles specifically engineered for FHL. The product is named after Dr. Dananberg as he is known worldwide for his work with FHL.

Named among the most influential Podiatrists in America by Podiatry Management Magazine, and is a founding member of the new Vasyli Think Tank™.

Howard is renowned for his work in the development of the concepts associated with Functional Hallux Limitus. His published articles on Sagittal Plane Biomechanics, his patented Kinetic wedge and work on gait-related back pain is recognized world wide.
Here is a great article which explains FHL, the compenstations the body "invents" in order to "work", and how the insole restores proper function. Dr. Dananberg did not really discuss FHL with me in detail, but fortunately I had done my homework so I knew what he was talking about and referring to as he checked out my feet.

The good news is that he feels that this is treatable with his insoles and I can decide later if I need a more specialized pair of orthotics built up for me. He wasn't worried about the pain over my right big toe. I have had this for about four months now after every run and I was worried that my toe may be going to a more rigid diagnosis that usually leads to surgery. I was very much  thinking he might end up telling me my running days were over. He was not concerend with this at all which puts me at ease. He also said the inverted heel is probably a result of the FHL and things should improve. I am thrilled and hope the insoles really work. They do feel good (they were heat-molded to my feet) and the cutouts and shape very much give my feet balance when standing and certainly let my feet "roll" forward as I run. They are not miracle workers as I used them in the Lowell 5K race last night and was about 20 seconds slower than the week before, but if they allow me to run without the imbalances (over time) then I can get my mileage back up and my race times down. Most important I want to get my running stride back so that I can enjoy just running again instead of trying to constantly figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.

With FHL, the first metatarsal joint does not function correctly. The 1st MTP joint is the joint leading to the big toe. When you stride forward all of your body weight is supposed to hinge forward over this joint and it is suppposed to support your foot and body and raise your heel through the gait cycle (or this is how I understand it). Unfortunately if you have FHL the 1st MTP joint cannot do its job and the body attempts all sorts of compensations to try to correct itself. I have noticed this problem through the years and explained what I thought was happening in my foot to many experts, but I guess no one was informed enough on this condition until Dr. Baroody identified it. I have tried many remedies on my own because they "seemed" to make sense such as cutting out an insole under the 5th (little toe) joint to try to balance the bottom of my foot or running with wedges under the 1st metatarsal and big toe to try to give them support so my foot wouldn't  cave in.  My intution was correct, but maybe not the remedies! With the new insoles an area is cut out underneath the 1st MTP joint which allows it to descend so that the 1st metatarsal head can plantarflex which allows the 1st MTP joint to dorsiflex.

I think what this means is that with the insole my feet can now support my stride. With FHL your 1st MTP joint cannot work properly and so your toe cannot get involved with the stride either. My main compensation on the left foot was that the 1st MPT joint would collapse on contact with the ground giving me no support. The foot would then severely pronate over the toe and evert my foot out to the side throwing off my stride and giving me the constant hip and back problems. On the right foot the pronation wasn't as pronounced, but the joint and toe still weren't doing their job as the toe would stiffen up when bearing weight and again giving me no push off. Dr. Baroody also explained that this is why I have a mutlitude of stiff muscles. That is bad, but it was somewhat good as my body was doing whatever it could to achieve a running stride and protect itself and make itself work in my own unique way. Besides the ART treatments for my muslces, I am hoping that the insoles will take the stress off many of my overworked muscles and allow them to release and function properly.

Dr. Dananberg's article describes walking with FHL as akin to walking with swim fins on your feet. Since the body can't properly go forward with the fins on, it is like stepping upwards with no propulsion forward or a mechanical stride. He suggests four compensations that the body will do to achieve a gait. One, a midfoot collapse with delayed heel lift (the PT did say that my left stride was slower than my right- this is the side with most of my symptoms). Number two is an absence of heel lift during single support phase that can lead to balance problems. Three is inversion compensation (I not sure if this is similar to the inverted heel that Dr. Bardooy suggested). The fourth symptom is abducted compensation. As Dr. Dananberg descibes, when the forward motion over the toe joint is blocked then the foot will find the least path of resistance in order to move forward, So the foot pronates and twists and the effects of that go up the alignment of the skeleton. I certainly hope that the insoles do what they are supposed to do and my body starts fixing itself. My feet feel "strong" under the metatarals for a change once I put them in my shoes and my left hip also felt stronger and in a better position. Let's hope that those are good signs.

Dr. Dananberg also did some manipulations of my feet and ankles to restore lost motion and free restrictions. In these videos he is seen doing similar manipulations and other manipulations. These are to be done by an expert, I am only showing them because they are interesting.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Olympian gets Stretched using Resistance Stretching

I was doing some resistance stretching last night (something I haven't done in a while) in order to to work on my tight quads. When I was done, I checked out the resistance (or meridian) stretching websites (again something I haven't done in a while) and saw a video I hadn't noticed before on Bob Cooley's Meridian Stretching site. I think there are three variations on doing resisitance stretching: one is self-stretching, one is getting stretched by a stretcher, and the other is this wild looking stretching where a bunch of stretchers work on one athlete like he or she is a human maleable pretzel. I have seen a few videos online of this type of stretching before (most notably with Olympic swimmer Dara Torres) and it always looks visually fascinating . The new video shows Olympic speed skater Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. getting stretched before the Vancouver Olympics.

I don't know Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. but I watched her in the Olympics (her Olympics blog). By the time I started attending Wheaton College in 1977, her mom Nancy Swider was a student at the school and already an Olympic speed skater (seventh in the 3000m at the 1976 Innsbruck Games) and had set a world record weeks after the Olympics. Her dad Jeff Peltz was a football player who lived a couple doors down in my dorm one year. Her mom went on to participate in 4 Olympics, and I always marveled when hearing about the many hours she spent in daily training to be an Olympian. These were the days before my college (and many schools) even had a women's cross-country team. Women were just breaking into sports and  here was a world class athlete doing unheard of things with incredible discipline and drive. This was also before the time of cross-training being fashionable (in fact it wasn't even a word back then) so besides all the speed-skating and drills she did, she sometimes ran with the cross-country team,  swam on the swim team, and she biked.  It certainly was eye-opening for someone like me who thought that running was hard work to see someone so intense in athletic ambition and ahead of the times in training ideas. I also have never seen a lady with stronger looking quads in my life!

Here is a blog post interviewing one of the stretchers working on Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr.

Here is one of my posts on resistance stretching that includes links to many other posts.

I also noticed that Bob Cooley's Meridian Stretching site has listed classes at his Boston studio to learn and practice self-stretching. I may have to try going down sometime. I have three videos on resistance stretching, but it would be good to get pointers. The classes are only $20. I went to a stretcher once and it was great to get worked on, but it was ridiculously priced (unless you were extremely rich, it was too unaffordable no matter what the benefits). Here is my post on that experience. I would have loved to have done more, but I am not ridiculously rich.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Opportunity Missed?

Twenty years ago, soon after I moved up to Nashua, someone recommended to me that I visit a podiatrist named Howard Dananberg. He was noted to be a top notch podiatrist and I was having terrible back problems from my 5 years in triathlons. I went for an initial visit, but it was going to cost over $1000 dollars further and I could not afford the price. I went to a local podiatrist instead who refurbished the old pair of orthotics I had used off and on with no success for about 5 years. They still didn't do much for me after that.

I recall Dr. Dananberg telling me something was wrong with my forefoot, but I can't recall what it was. He taped up my feet in a special way and I ran great for a couple of runs until the tape fell off. Still, I could not imagine how the front of my feet and the way they lined up could possibly affect my left lower back (and no way to research online either). I have since seen Dr. Dananberg's name repeatedly over the years in all sorts of studies and references. He is a very well-known podiatrist. I have often wondered what would have happened if I could have afforded those orthotics and recieved his care those 20 years ago.

I tried orthotics again a little over 10 years ago. That did not go well either. While they were comfortable, they seemed to make my "supposed" leg-length difference worse. Even a local chiropracter was speechless when he tried to x-ray me with and without the orthotics. When I put a heel lift in my right shoe under the orthotic, the x-rays showed the right leg getting shorter. He could not figure it out. Two months into wearing the orthotics, I ran the Cape Cod Marathon. My legs felt balanced only when I added a heel lift to the right shoe, and by then I had over 1/2 inch of extra lift under the right orthotic, and my back couldn't handle the stress. I was holding my right lower back rigid and tight the first 16 miles of the race. Then I grabbed a drink of water and relaxed, immediately my back went into severe spasms and I was out of the race and running for many days. That was the end of wearing those orthotics!

I have tried the minimalism thing for the past few years, but there is still something wrong with my feet, hips, and back. When I first went to Dr. Baroody (the ART doctor)last week, he said that both my feet have "functional hallux limitis" and my left foot has an inverted heel. I have been trying to research both of these issues. I can't find much on the inverted heel, but there is a lot on functional hallux limitis. The other day I googled Dr. Dananberg's name to see if he still practiced in the area and found out that...

"Howard Dananberg, is renowned worldwide for development of
the concepts of Functional Hallux Limitus and the relationship of
gait style to Chronic Lower Back Pain

I found a very recent video where Dr. Dananberg describes this condition in an easy to understand way.

I also noticed that there is an insole which is named after him that is supposed to manage the condition (see video). I decided to call his office to see if they sell the insole "off the rack". I explained that I had been in 20 years earlier and the price I was quoted (that I could not afford). I was told that at that time Dr. Dannanberg probably wanted a specific and costly gait analysis done and that he doesn't need to do that anymore. When I asked about current pricing, it was like $120 for an initial visit (comparable to 20 years ago)and that the insoles would be about $150 unless I needed some posting done. Different orthotics would be about $480. That is not much more than the orthotics I had 10+ years ago from a no longer remembered podiatrist. Well, I missed the opportunity 20 years ago and I am not going to do that again when I have one of the most well-regarded and innovatice doctors in the field just miles down the road. I have an appointment set for next Tuesday.

I am still getting ART treatment. Dr. Baroody viewed my videos and saw "lots" of things. Well that wasn't hard to do. He has worked on my tight hip flexors and has now started working on my tight glutes and hamstrings. The funny thing is, I keep reading how ART treatment is supposed to hurt. Just like with the last ART doctor I went to, I barely feel anything but the pressure of fingers. There is no pain and I was watching Dr. Baroody as he kept looking at me in surprise. He was sure I would feel something on some of those muscles, but there was no pain at all. Oh well, that is fine with me!

I did cut out a section of under the first metatarsal on a pair of Dr. Scholls generic plastic insolesas Dr. Baroody suggested. I ran in them Friday for 8 miles as soon as I cut them out (probably not good- I know) and they changed my stride some and fatigued the hip in a different place, but I did not like the high arch on the insoles. I ran 8 miles the next two days, and they made me run slow and I felt real awkward. I stopped wearing them as my whole left side was now messed up and it felt like something was pinching. I ran the Mine Falls race Monday night without them and my left hip was stuck. I ran 20:24. After an ART visit Tuesday morning things felt better. I ran with the insoles in my light Puma K Street shoes in the Lowell race. That felt a bit better and I ran 19:33 for an easier course. My hip wasn't stuck, but muscles were not balanced properly.

Here are some of Dr. Dananberg's artices that relate to Functional Hallix Limitis from the Vasyli Think Tank™ and the insole company.

Here is a Carson Boddicker article on "Mobilizing the Big Toe" and a video.

Here is a Gary Moller video on mobilizing the big toe. He is the older brother of Lorraine Moller, one of the great female marathoners (Olympic medal, BAA Marathon win, ect.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Running Drills for Barefoot Runners

Matt Meztgar posted this video over at his blog. The Tera Plana people first show how barefoot running changes your footplant in this video,but what I liked about the video is that it demonstrates that even barefoot runners have to improve their posture. Barefoot running doesn't do that on its own. Some unique and interesting drills are demonstrated that show how to correct faulty posture. Matt always has some interesting and thought provoking posts. He is currentlly starting to run barefoot on pavement. He thinks this is even better that running on soft surfaces as it helps you land correctly. He is taking me to task a bit for moving towards more substantial trainers in my running, but I have to see what is going on with my feet and what I can do to best correct them before I go back to trying barefoot running. The video is excellent though and the drills seem very interesting. I'll have to give them a try.

Learning the Skill of Barefoot Running from Terra Plana on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Inverted Heel

I am putting up a few posts basically for myself as I try to figure out things I am learning about my feet. In this way I can check back and see what works and doesn't work and keep track of my thinking. Please skip over if you are not interested, but sometimes people find my stuff on the web and offer really good suggestions or are also looking for similar answers to biomechanical issues.

Last night I posted what I am learning from the Active Release doctor who I am currently working with. My left foot is a problem foot and he gave words to the strange things that my foot does that affects my stride, hip, and back.

Basically he said the left foot has an inverted heel, which causes the foot to suppinate and then I have something called functional hallux limitus which means the forefoot goes into a severe pronation because the bog toe and metatarsal do not work and contact the ground correctly. Thus I have problems.

Here is what I have found on inverted heels (besides some crazy dance step). It comes from Carson Boddicker, whose blog I have been reading for the past few months (see "My Blog List" to the left). He gives some exercises and drills (some using a wedge that I have not tried as I am relying on the therapy I am undergoing now).

Following ankle injury, a positional fault is often observed in subtalar joint position, which is locked into inversion known as rear foot or subtalar vars Rear foot vars is when the position of the foot is inverted relative to the ground in subtalar neutral.

Given the body’s remarkable ability to adapt, it can attempt to shift the position of the talus to compensate for an inverted calcaneus. In observing the rear foot, a compensated rear foot vars will appear perpendicular in subtalar neutral but averted in standing (left). Uncompensated, it will appear inverted in both ranges of motion (right).

With the subtalar joint in inversion, the foot must pronate more to clear the heel from the ground. Once clear, the foot is forced to rapidly supinate to be effective in propulsion, creating a whip-like effect, which has been implicated in Achilles’ tendonopathies. Additionally, the first ray of metatarsals becomes an inadequately stable base for propulsion (remember the joint by joint approach) and the big toe begins to lose mobility.

Finally, remember that the subtalar joint translates this rotation (pronation) to the tibia and the tibia translates rotation higher in the body. Excessive relative internal rotation of the foot, tibia, and subsequently femur can cause femoral head position changes and scarring of the deep hip rotators. This can ultimately lead to a grab bag of pain and pathology of the knee, hip, and low back.

I don't know if this is an accurate description of half of my foot's problems, but it sounds right.

Next up is an excellent descriptive video from "The Gait Guys" which descibes rearfoot varus, which I think is the same thing as an inverted heel.

Finally, I am putting up (hate to do this) some videos the chiropractor wanted of me running. It shows my stride Tuesday (after one day of ART treatment) and after an 8 mile run. It shows the weird things my left foot and leg does even at a slow jog. I would guess it looks much worse at a faster pace.

Now you can see why running is so much fun for me!

Here's a link to the stretches for my feet and ankle that the chiropractor says I should do. The first is pretty much a Z-Health Toe Pull. I now have better informed instruction on how to do it. The tops of my toes are really stiff.

Now about jammed joints and how I seem to get relief from hip problems when the joints in my feet are mobilized. Here is a video on the arthokinetic response showing how a jammed foot joint affects the glute medius muscle (the muscle that the postural restoration therapist said was one of my weakest muscles on the left side).

I also posted about Z-Health and jammed joints here, where Dr. Eric Cobb (Z-Health) demonstrates the affect of jammed joints here. Mike T. Nelson of Extreme Human Performance (blog on my list to the left) wrote about jammed joints here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Two Halves do not make a Whole!

After a bit of a hiatus from training, I am back on the roads this week. I was getting good running success with the Postural Restoration therapy that ended in February, but as I continued to run (and faithfully do the exercises) things started to slowly fall apart again. I was back to a point in my training where the left side of my body and the right side of my body were doing two different things. I noticed my mileage going down from 50 a week to 40. Then it was down to 30 and then 20. Each run was taking longer to recover from as I got more and more imbalanced and as my hip hurt more and more after most runs and there was not much fun in it at all. The racing was even worse! Finally last week, I only ran twice: two 5k races. At the end of both races I was limping on my left hip. The last race was the Hollis Fast 5K. As I limped back to the awards ceremony, I had the feeling that something "more" was wrong with my hip. It hurt. I seemed to be "protecting" it more as I ran and I had such a terrible stride as I tried to run faster that it was no fun to even race. I thought to myself that "something" must be more wrong with that hip then I could figure out and I felt that the next step must be to go to a doctor and get it looked at. Maybe it was a labral tear that wouldn't let the femur fit properly in the pelvis. I did not feel like running any more as each training run was leading to a day or two of problems and I was uncomfortable running at any speed.

Before calling up a doctor, I also was thinking that no matter how hard I worked on my exercises and strength work I was just strengthening a dysfunction and not correcting it. I had already gone back to the postural restoration therapist last Monday (on my own dime), hoping to see if she could see what I was doing wrong with my exercises. I was shown the ones that should work best for me, but there were no new revelations. The only thing that was confirmed is that when I run my left stride is slower that my right. I was wondering about this and that is probably why that my legs get worse as I try to run fast. I still believe that the Postural Restoration work is very valuable for me, but until I can figure out and straighten out the root cause of my imbalances that nothing will get fixed. It does give me good strength work and can help with working on positioning and muscle balance, but it seems to help me more for basic walking and standing and I haven't got it to work yet for running (fast running in particular). That left me again frustrated at the end of the Hollis race and asking myself, "What is wrong with my body causing it to work so incorrectly."

I started thinking that before I call a doctor to check for an injured hip and socket, I might want to try one more time at seeing if there are restrictions in my hip that may be causing the failure after all the exercises I have been doing. Maybe it was time to call an ART (Active Release Technique)doctor. I was very high on ART back about 10 years ago when I first went to Boston to have treatment done. The doctor started fixed my psoas muscle that had been giving me back pains for years (due to triathlons). He got rid of the scar tissue and the results were pretty dramatic (the first thing that worked on me in over 15 years). However when I went back to see this doctor a few more times to see if he could help with my hips, he did little and seemed real disinterested in the whole process and in even helping me (I believe he no longer practices). I had wanted to try ART with someone else, but I could not find anyone local who took insurance. Maybe it was worth another shot, so I called Dr. Steve Barooby of Artful Chiropractic in Manchester. I had talked to him on the phone a few years ago, but never went in to see him (I did Rolfing instead). Dr. Barooby has lots of certifications in ART and I had heard good things about him. I gave him a call and was even more happy to find he takes insurance now. I have gone in three times this week. I told Dr. Baroody that my body was a puzzle and there had to be a way to figure it out. He has discovered some missing puzzle pieces that I have been trying to get answers on from so many other people I have seen and there is even names for these things that are wrong with my feet.

He did a lot of listening and asking questions and then he got tolooking at my feet. I have been trying to figure out why my left foot does so many strange things during my stride and I have tried all sorts of remedies on my own to figure it out and fix it. In fact, that is how I got the referral from my doctor last fall. I simply wanted to ask a PT about my foot and ankle. He asked if I have ever damaged my left foot with a severe sprain. He said my left heel was "inverted". I have asked many other therapists about this heel that seemed "out of position" before and could not get an answer. I think that what he means by inverted is that it is rotated inwards. Maybe this is why my forefoot also everts out. I don't know. He said this inverted heel causes my heel to suppinate. He also said that I have something wrong with my front toes. It is called "functional hallux limitus". Basically on the left side, the toe and its metatarsal does not work. That is why that foot rolls over onto the inside trying to connect to the ground. In other words, it pronates heavily. So, my left foot suppinates at the heel and pronates from the forefoot. It is trying to do two opposite things at once! Is that it? I have been thinking my imbalances stem from the left side of my body being different from the right and not equaling a whole. However it might simply be the back part of my left foot not playing nicely together with the front part and creating havoc on the left side of my body and messing up my running and alignment throughout my body.

Dr. Baroody has been softening up my feet by mobilizing my stuck joints as well as using ART on my heel area to work on the "fixing" of my heel. All of a sudden my running is easier again (not perfect) but I ran 8 miles on Tuesday, did the track workout on Wednesday (800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800 first laps in 90 sec. each lap after that in 91 sec. Mike Ward started pushing the pace on the last 1200 and we did that in under 6:00 mile pace, and then I ran the last 800 in 2:52- certainly a decent workout). My hip didn't hurt at all during or after the track work, and I ran 8 miles each of the next two days. Still no hip soreness (I have been getting ART treatment on the Psoas muscle along with the foot work). So far that is good progress.

The interesting thing that I now recall is that during the two months of Postural Restoration work, the PT twice mobilized the bones in my left foot. The PR exercises helped, but it was after the mobilizations that my mileage started going up in the winter. I could get the left toe metatarsal on the ground after those mobilizations and I could run so much more easily. I think it lasted for awhile, but the joints got stuck again and that is why my running got worse and worse each week. I felt the same "working" of that first metatarsal after the mobilization work this week. When I ran yesterday, I tried to "listen" to my feet (after learning more about this "functional hallux limitus"). On both of my feet, the first metatarsals are now touching the ground as I run. However on the left foot, the big toe does not even touch the ground at all during my stride. As I run it goes "heel-first metatarsal" and that is how I push-off the ground. There is no involvement of my toes. On the right foot it is the same thing, except the big toe does touch the ground, but it doesn't exert much force. This also gives me a scary reason for my having a "pins and needle" toe joint pain on my right big toe knuckle for the past 3-4 months after my runs. That toe joint is very stiff and I notice that there is a further condition that many runners develop where that toe joint becomes rigid. Oh, No! I don't want to go there!

Anyhow that is more than anyone needs to know about my feet. I am again getting closer to figuring out my stride problems and I think this doctor has some interesting solutions. Today, I ran with Dr. Scholls insoles that Dr. Baroody advised me to try. He showed my how to cut out the area under the first metatarsal so that it "dropped" the toe joint down and "hopefully" cause it to function correctly. I didn't like the bouncy feel of the arch on the insole, and I am not used to it yet at all (basically I used it as soon as I cut up the insole), but it really shook things up in the way my stride and muscles worked today. I don't know if this will help in the end, but it is certainly worth a shot! The next few weeks should be very interesting!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Rough and Tumble of Bike Racing

Today's Tour of Switzerland saw a spectacular crash at the final sprint to the finish. Mark Cavendish's bike got folded like a Salvador Dali painting. You can view a series of 5 photos here which is interesting as the second photo shows the wheel unfolded again. Here is a video of the crash.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New England Triathlon Legend: Marc Surprenant

I recently read a report that the New England triathlete great, Marc Surprenant recently died. If you were around during the early days of triathlons in New England then you would recognize the name Marc Surprenant. He was the "Beast from the East" and probably the most successful New England triathlete on the national scene during the 1980's (Karen Smyers was a top competitor at the time and probably the best "all time"triathlete from New England but she stormed onto the national and world scene a bit later than Marc).

As soon as Julie Moss crawled across the Ironman finish lineback in 1982, athletes wanted to do triathlons and New England was more than happy to oblige. In 1983, the Bud Light Triathlon Series (hailed as the first city-to city swim-bike-run championship series for triathletes) came to my hometown of Falmouth on Cape Cod. I was ready to compete along with 900 other mostly beginner triathletes in the 11 city and one championship race series. I had limited training as a swimmer and cyclist, but with one sprint triathlon under my belt, I was already a veteran.  Julie Moss herself showed up to welcome the event (but not participate) and the local favorite was a swimmer-triathlete named Marc Surprenant. Marc didn't disappoint. Besides slipping during the run he won the overall title with the words "Mizuno" written on his chest. Back then the distances of the BLTS events were a 2k swim (1.2 miles), followed by a 40k bike (25 miles), and ending with a 15k  (9.4 miles) run. This race was held at Old Silver Beach and the morning of the race saw large waves crashing into the shore. Jokes after the race alluded to the fact that the race promotors had found a way to add hills to the swim. Unfortunately the race promotors did not listen to local officials who asked them to postpone the start until the waves died down. They refused and Falmouth officials refused to allow triathlons in town for many years afterwards. The start had over 900 competitors all starting at once (I think at the time this race was one of the largest mass swim starts ever). I remember sloshing around in the rough waters trying to swim with my head up and to keep from being run over by the many other swimmers. It was not fun until we headed back to the beach riding the waves! Here is a history of Cape Cod triathlons taken from the race program that tells a bit of the history of triathlons on Cape Cod prior to this event.

Here is a list of the top finishers in this event.

Here is an interview with Marc after the race from an old newsletter.

Marc Surprenant was now a name on the triathlon circuit and he did not disappoint. He had a style that included wearing white Vaurnet sunglasses and was seen modeling the newest and most colorful tri-suits in the Triathlon magazines. He was also a friendly and approachable competitor. He turned up at other major New England triathlons that brought in national caliber competitors (that would be the same as saying world class competitors) at events like future Bud Light Triathlon Series races, the Bay State Triathlon in Medford, and the Cape Cod Endurance Triathlon (a full Ironman distance race) that started and finished in his home town of Centerville. Marc won the second edition of the race in 1984 (winning time of 9:04:10) and finished second to Scott Tinley in 1985 (8:21:34 to 8:51:37) and then again to Scott Molina in 1986 (8:48:03 to 9:02:00).

Here is a short video of the 1984 Cape Cod Endurance Triathlon. It shows the swim. Marc finishing the swim, and then Marc finishing the run for the win. The origianl video did not really highlight the winners and the competition in this event, but I will upload the whole video at a later date.

 Here are some images from the 1985 event (I participated in the first 5 CCET races-5 of the greatest days of my life!).

Scott Tinley winning in a then world record for the Ironman distance.

Marc in his trademark sunglasses.

Who can forget the Puntous twins from Canada (early triathlon standouts)? Here Patricia and Sylvianne tie for a first place finish in 9:30:32 (5th and 6th place overall).

Me finishing in 20th place (10:20:13).

Sarah came to many of my triathlons and was a stellar supporter at the CCET (arriving with me to the start predawn and then waiting out the race for 10 hours until I finished. I thought she was having fun, but I guess not. Her sister and brother only showed up later in the day. They are a bit happier!

I always assumed she liked these events as she was happy to see me. (side note: I never get any grief over my athletic endevours since we have been married. I think she is happy no matter what I do as long as she doesn't have sit  through another Ironman triathlon event!)

Another race I remember seeing Marc competing at was the 1985 Bud Light Triathlon series event held in Boston. He outsprinted Jimmy Riccitello for a 3 second win under rainy and slippery conditions. I crashed my bike twice in this event, but still managed to finish top ten in my age group for a spot at the National Championship race in Hilton Head (one of my goals that season). In the days before the internet, I did not find out that I had qualified until after the championship race. It was a very strange race. Besides crashing twice, I nearly got into a fistfight on the run. Some guy kept cutting me off as I kept trying to pass him. He was deliberately impeding my progress and I had to nearly shove him over to get by him (we did talk it over after the race and shook hands).

Here is a summary of the race from the results booklet.

Here is me wearing the Oakley sunglasses that were "cool" at the time. I am not sure if this is pre or post fight! Why was I wearing sunglasses on a rainy day?

Competing in triathlons during  the 1980's still creates vivid and fond memories for me. The training, competing,  and characters I met along the way still resonate deeply with me as they were such glorious times. I guess I find it hard to fathom that such a vibrant and athletic person such as Marc Suprenant is no longer with us. He was only 49 years old when he died. Here is an article on his passing and a listing of memories from some of his fellow competitors and friends.  There are plenty of great stories about Marc listed in the memories and some that aren't. Didn't he fall asleep during the run of the Hawaii Ironman race one year when he was considered a favorite and then  wake up later to finish the race? I only knew Marc as an aquaintance at races, but followed his career in triathlons. It is sad when a person who epitimized both health and fun living is no longer living.