Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Running and Racing: A Musical Review

The Start
Everyone has to do Falmouth at least once. If you haven't run this classic race yet and you live in New England you should give it a try. Many years ago, Runner's World Magazine did an article on the Falmouth Road Race and they refererred to the "Winding roads that seem to beckon" from an old Patti Page song called "Old Cape Cod". Falmouth is a magical race. I love the history of the race, as well as it being the race that follows the roads of the town where I grew up. I have great memories on these winding roads! Unfortunately, many competitive runners now pass it by. But really, it should be on your list of must do races.

This year I went down Friday night and picked up my race number at Falmouth High School. I was there when autographs were about to start, so I got in the short line because I wanted to meet Meb Keflezighi. Meb decided not to run Falmouth the day before, but as soon as I finished he was the first one shaking hands of us runners after we crossed the finish line.

He was there with his Olympic marathon silver medal and the New York City Marathon gold medal. What was neat was that he let me and others hold the medals. The Olympic medal in particular is getting worn out! I really appreciate that Meb "shares" these medals rather than lock them away for safe-keeping.

 I also got to say hello to Catherine Ndereba. Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, and wheelchair competitor Craig Blanchette. Frank and Bill were there regular friendly selves and we talked a bit about running Famouth back in the 1970's. I asked Joan when she would run her next marathon. She said Chicago this year. I asked her about running sub 3 and making it into the sub 3 hour marathon in five decades club. She remarked about it a bit, then her whole demeaner changed, she said what she really wanted was to be in the sub 2:50 marathons in 5 decades club. There was a huge competitive fire and drive in how she said this. I would put my money on her easily going sub 2:50 in Chicago.

I went back to the high school to watch the Falmouth Miles. This year they had high school miles for the first time. Unfortunately only two women were in the elite mile, but it was still a good race. The men's race had Olympic 1500 meters silver medalist Nick Willis making a comeback from injury race. He was outsprinted at the finish line as the first two runners broke a 4 minute mile. When you go to Falmouth, you have to watch the miles, they are a lot of fun.It is also run on the track where I started my cross-country  running career back in 1973.  Here is the video I took of Russell Brown outsprinting Nick Willis in the mile.

I guess the best word to describe the  Falmouth Road Race is "efficient". From the buses taking you to the start to all parts of the race, it seems the race organizers have it down to an efficient process. This is good as the race works year after year. It also means it lacks a litte pizzazz as you get used to things always being the same. The t-shirts always have the same design, you get a coffee cup at number pick-up, and everything seems the same. Interchange a few Kenyan (and now Ethiopian) runners with a few top-Americans and the race always seems to turn out in a similar fashion. I would love to see more of the very top American runners show up for the race. I would love to see a little less effeciancy and a more go-for broke effort to bring back the competitiveness of the 70's and 80's back into the race. It would be great to get the top New England runners back to Falmouth. As I line up at the start there are the top runners and a bunch of familiar faces of people I see back at Falmouth every year. I don't see the local road racing crowd. What goes on behind the elite corral, where I am situated is unclear to me. I know there are some runners looking to do well, but there are mostly running tourists. Runners who do Falmouth and it might be there only race of the year and quite possibly there longest run of the year. This is great, but in the end, I just wish more of the "running club" runners would get a taste of Falmouth.

This year's race saw me feeling pretty good at the start. I was able to do strides and a warm up without feeling so stiff like I have been recently and it was an incredibly gorgeous and cool summer day for the race. When the gun went off it was a bit crowded until the first corner and then I started getting more room. I hit the mile at Nobska Lighthouse slower than I wanted, but from then on I think I pretty much kept the same pace throughout the race, which meant I was slowly passing runners the whole race, and was rarely passed at all. I never really sightsee as I run Falmouth, but I got that sense of blue ocean over to my right side as well as that salty air smell and I felt right at home. I ran at a good pace and effort, but didn't really push things.

Here is a video someone posted (there is not much online that I can find) of the lead runners running up Shore Road (right in front of a house one of my good friends used to live in). It is about 4 3/4 miles into the race.

At the 6 mile point, I noticed an old friend named Stewart Johnston at the side of the road and called out to him. His brother was the 8th place finisher at the first Falmouth Road Race. We both went out for cross-country together in 9th grade two weeks after that race and traded last place finishes at races throughout that season. Stu never ran again after that year. I haven't stopped.

I finished the race this year in 301st place in 47:12. Pretty much where I finished in 2009. The Wall Street Journal had an article after the race by Cameron Stracher called Slow and Steady Loses the Race. I don't think it is entirely accurate. He states that, "the increasing popularity of running coincides with the decreasing competitiveness of the U.S. runner." I actually started Falmouth this year standing next to the aurthor. In the article he mentions the Falmouth Road Race, "At the seven-mile Falmouth Road Race, in 1979, a finishing time of 36 minutes was good enough only for 84th place. But in 2009, the same time would have earned 34th place." I don't know how everyone else is doing, but I ran the 1979 Falmouth Road Race in 46:10 and this year I ran 47:12. It looks like I only lost a minute in 31 years, which is part of what is wrong with the article because it is hard to compare years. I did only run 38 miles in July and August 1979 before running Falmouth as I was traveling overseas.

If Falmouth is too busy for you, you can always run the same course at the Falmouth in the Fall road race.

Sunday I ran the Moose on the Loose 10 mile trail race back in Mines Falls inNashua. I finished in 8th place with a time of 1:07:59. My hips were not working in coordination so I had a hard time getting comfortable, which was too bad because I was feeling good energy-wise. Halfway through the race, I noticed two runners ahead of me who looked like they could be in my age division. I picked off one of them but the other guy had over a 30 second lead by the high school bridge (less than a mile before the last of four laps). I put my head down a bit more and started passing a few people then I noticed I was catching the guy in front of me. I caught him at the bridge and ended up winning my age division by 16 seconds. That means I was given an award for being the RRCA state champion in my age group (50+) which on the plaque is called the "Grandmaster" division. So I guess now I can become a rapper.

Monday night I showed up for the last of the Gate City Striders Mine Falls trail races. I didn't feel like racing so jogged it and finished in dead last place. OK it was  handicap race and only a couple of runners started behind me and they passed quickly so I basically ran by myself and did so at an enjoyable pace, and you know what? I had a fun time! I think it is called a "training run" and I have been doing so much racing lately that I haven't had many of those! I ran about 4 minutes slower than last week and finished 59 out of 59. Sometimes you just want to finish last.

I did win my age group in the 2nd half of the race series. I think I ran all of the races in both series except for one week in the first half. What a great series it is to run and much thanks to Mike Wade, the volunteers, and the Gate City Striders for putting on this fun series of low-key races. This is the water bottle you get for winning your age group.

photo Ted Tyler

Tuesday night I had another last race in a race series. This is the first year I have done the Good Times series of races down in Lowell. I had a good time with these too. I ran my course PR with a 19:13. That means I got three awards at the award ceremony. A mylie for setting a PR, a Golden Mylie for running all 8 races in the summer series, and a first place plaque for winning the 50-59 age group.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not feeling old when you are having fun!

I recently completed 6 races in 9 days, which is a little bit unorthodox in training and racing circles, but I had fun. At the completion of the final 3 consecutive days of  racing, I did a track workout of 4 X 1 mile. I wasn't even sure what would happen at the start of the workout, but I kept feeling better as it progressed. Then I realized that this was just a bit more running  (0.3 miles) than a full marathon, so I decided to add up the times.

8/9 Mon 5k 20:08 "Mine Falls"
8/10Tues 5k 19:32 "Dynamic Duo" Lowell
8/12Thurs 5k 19:37 "Cigna-Elliot"
8/15 Sun 7 miles 47:12 "Falmouth Road Race"
8/16 Mon 5k 19:56 "Mine Falls"
8/17 Tues 5k 19:48 "Coaster Toss" Lowell
8/18 Wed Track 4X 1 mile Track 6:20/6:15/6:10/6:05

I did 26.5 miles of racing and track work over 10 days for a time of 2:51:07. I have run marathons faster than that (not recently, though). I guess I used to be able to do in one day, what now takes me 10 days to accomplish! That must be a true sign of the aging (and slowing down) process.

There was an interesting thread on Letsrun last week titled "Older runners: When did you start feeling old?" I didn't answer, but barring discussion of injuries and imbalances and their effect on performance, the last two years have been eye-opening. It is a lot harder to move like I expect to be able to move and I am not just referring to running. I do hope to start feeling younger again and am making progress, but it does take a lot of work.

The good news is that you can still have a great time running and racing, even if it never looks or sounds that way. This week's Tuesday night 5k race in Lowell was called the "Coaster Toss." Ted Tyler took a huge amount of pictures at the one mile point of the race. If you look, everyone is smiling and having a good time. Why? For the simple reason that everyone was carrying a coaster. At this point in the race you had to throw it into one of three buckets. If you got it in you would get a prize at the awards ceremony. Give a runner something different and fun to do and everyone has a good time. Maybe that is why it is called the "Good Times" series. I was holding mine in my left hand and went to toss it about 10 feet to the barrel. It went about 10 inches and crashed to the ground. I ended up laughing, just like everyone else who missed and a lot missed. Only 8 runners out of 261 were "athletic" enough to get the coaster in the barrel. And I guess that is why we are all runners!

Post throw- I think that is mine on the ground next to the path.

Trying not to get hit- well maybe mine is the one a little further along on the ground. Still, it was an embarrassing throw.

But, at least I got a chuckle out of it!

The end of the race and back to a runner's grimace. But really, racing is fun, even if it doesn't always show on our faces!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Running and Racing

Training for the last two weeks (after doing an 85 mile week) includes lots of races and getting back to track workouts.
Week ending August 9:
Mon- 5 miles (including 5k trails race) in 20:20

Tue 4 miles (including 5k road race) Bikini Run in Lowell 20:11:1 -won age division by 3/10 of a second after a decent last 1/2 mile getting ahead of the first "bikini"and a few others
Wed. 5 miles (including 6 X 800m on track)
Thurs. off
Fri. 15 miles
Sat. 16 miles
Sun. off
Total 45 miles

Ken Goodin is on my shoulder (barely visible) That is how close the finish was. First bikini is in the distance.
photo Ted Tyler

Week ending August 15:
Mon. 5 miles including 5k trail race in 20:08

Tues 5k race in Lowell 19:32:3 PR for course by .7 seconds beating the 19:33.0 I ran  on June 22. Finally got under 20:00 since wearing these insoles which seems to slow me down 10 seconds a mile since getting them -based on track and race times.
Wed. off
Thurs 5 miles 5k race Cigna Elliot 19:37 201st place 12th age group- felt very tight and slow-probably due to getting ART treatment  a couple of hours before running. Don McCarty caught up on the final hill, but I stayed ahead to beat him by two seconds, Didn't see Fil Faria go by at the same time. He beat me again.
Fri 8 miles
Sat off watched the Falmouth Mile (didn't take much video as it seemed everyone had a camera there, but no one posted videos so I threw mine up on Youtube showing the finish of the men's mile. Letsrun embedded it on their report of the race-(wish someone had a better video)

Sun 7 miles Falmouth Road Race gorgeous weather and felt great- results (unofficial) 00:47:12 time  259 place male 17 age group  302 overall (I'll have to report on the race weekend later) Out of almost 10,000 runners only 12 runners finished ahead of me that were older (this is a new way to check results as you get older!!)
Total 28 miles

Here are the top 20 in the 50-59 age group (Joan Benoit Samuelson finished in 41:36 good enough to beat all but the top two men in the age group)

117 David Oliver 54 M Westborough MA 00:41:00 66 4 82

113 Kenneth Gartner 50 M Falmouth MA 00:41:28 79 5 95
123 Bill Solimine 50 M West Newbury MA 00:41:43 85 6 103
194 Charles Muse 53 M Wilbraham MA 00:42:23 97 7 116
219 John Goodwin 55 M North Andover MA 00:43:53 139 8 163
250 Brian Hennessey 50 M Middletown RI 00:44:17 151 9 177
4526 James Coughlin 55 M Easthampton MA 00:44:50 167 10 194
270 Donald Palladini 53 M Franklin MA 00:45:38 192 11 224
3413 David Renneisen 54 M Goose Creek SC 00:45:48 198 12 230
267 Tor Clark 57 M Falmouth MA 00:45:57 204 13 237
264 Mark Uliasz 59 M Oxford CT 00:46:13 214 14 248
363 John Verrengia 52 M Simsbury CT 00:46:20 222 15 257
265 Jonathan Silver 51 M Bedford MA 00:46:39 235 16 273
238 Gene Hull 53 M Radnor PA 00:46:40 236 17 274
263 Denis McDonald 55 M Woodbine MD 00:47:09 255 18 297
295 Jim Hansen 51 M Nashua NH 00:47:12 259 19 302
228 Rick Breckenridge 50 M North Stonington CT 00:47:44 278 20 329
1591 Bruce Campbell 52 M Portland OR 00:47:44 279 21 331
1449 Marc Trotz 50 M Berkeley CA 00:47:46 283 22 335

I don't get the chip timing. When I crossed the line the clock said 47:03 and that would be before chip times are deducted. There were two mats at the finish line, maybe the second mat got the times. The results show I was 3 seconds behind the 50+ guy in front of me, but it was much closer. Anyhow it turns out that he is from Maryland and knows my college cross-country coach who helps coach the track club he is from now.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

1975 Falmouth Road Race

The 1975 version of the Falmouth Road Race was the third edition of my hometown race and the first time that I ever competed in a road race. I had run cross-country and track races and in fact started running in 9th grade at Falmouth High School a couple of weeks after the first ever Falmouth Road Race back in 1973. The 1975 race saw road racing take off in popularity with the promise of top-notch track and marathoner runners  like Frank Shorter starting to race on the roads. The "unknown"  winner of the 1974 Falmouth Road Race, Bill Rodgers (who defeated world-class miler Marty Liquori that year) was back and no longer "unknown" thanks to a 3rd place World's medal in cross-country and then the surprise win at the 1975 Boston Marathon. Frank Shorter, of course, was the winner of the 1972 Olympic Marathon. The two stars of American marathoning came to Falmouth in 1975 and Falmouth started becoming a world -class race. About 850 runners competed in the race.

the start

Look at the sign top right- post entries $2.00 and it was the day of the race!

This is me at the finish line in my imitation "Ron Hill" fishnet singlet.
My time was 50:50 (still my slowest Falmouth out of over 25 races and the only time over 50 minutes-so far). I don't remember much about the race itself, except that it was very exciting and I was tired at the end.

This is the finishing card I received. The race was divided into two divisions. If you joined the AAU for a few bucks you were in that division. If not, your results were in a seperate division. I have two sets of results: one for each division.

Gate City Striders should note that "Coach" Jim Stronach finished 12th overall.

The "white" results are the AAU results. The yellow pages are the non-AAU results (so AAU runners did not get "contaminated" by being in the same race).

Other Falmouth Road Race Posts

Monday, August 2, 2010

Meet the Quadratus Lumborum

UPDATE: This is an old rambling post, but it is also a very popular one as people try to figure out their quadratus lumborum. Here is a recent ebook by Sean Schniederjan I purchased called Quadratus Lumborum Fixed: For Ultimate Low Back Balance, Strength and Comfort (Simple Strength Book 14). I have used many of Sean's ideas in some of his other ebooks and here he has the first book, that I know of that explains the purpose of the QL as well as gives ideas for controlling it:

Some experts say that as much as 65% of low back pain is quadratus lumborum related. Do you have quadratus lumborum problems? Do you feel tightness on one side of your low back that simply won't go away? This book delivers fast, easy to digest knowledge and fixes to quadratus lumborum imbalances using your natural movement for a healthier and balanced lower back. BONUS - also get enhanced super stretches to increase low back flexibility.

The Quadratus Lumborum is not a math formula or punk rock group! But first, I am happy to have had a great week of running last week totaling 85 miles.
Mon. 5 miles (5k trail race)
Tues. 8 miles
Wed. 12 miles
Thurs. 8 miles
Fri. 22 miles (planned on 16 but felt real good-had plently left in the tank)
Sat. 14 miles (planned 8 but felt pretty good-would have gone longer, but I carried  no $ to get liquids)
Sat. 16 miles (planned 11 to get to 80 for the week but felt pretty good)

Two weeks ago I hit 73 miles and figured that might be the most for a week this summer, but the weather turned cooler on Friday and if the running feels good and fun, I say, "Keep running!"

After finishing the 73 mile week I took a day off, and the next day I felt "off" a bit in the mid back area and right side, like something was twisted wrong. I ran the Mine Falls 5K Trail race and that didn't help. I then ran the Gate City Striders Ultimate Runner track night 4 races (400m, 800m, 1 mile, 5K) and my right side was still bothering me. It wasn't a memorable event, but I made it through. The only fight I had was in the 5k when Karen P. caught up with about 3/4 of a mile to go. I tried to keep in front of her and that helped me pick up the pace and hopefully had her running faster too.

photos Jim Rhoades

Thursday I did a new workout DVD that I had that combines the TRX with Kettlebells. It was a killer workout, but it didn't help my back and neither did the 8 miles I did after the workout.

Then I went to the Cape for a few days and my back and hips were just horrible. It was very uncomfortable to just move and I only pushed through one 5 miler. I did get some sun and surf in with the family. It was a completely horrible week of running, and I was looking forward to my offfice visit with Dr. Baroody on Monday.

During the trip I decided to make sure I was using my abs correctly. I used a tip from Dr. Jolie Bookspan (article here from the book The Ab Revolution Third Edition- No More Crunches No More Back Pain)  and also started doing these exercises from Dr. Stuart McGill.

On Monday, Dr. Baroody worked on the tweak in my back and that started clearing things up, but I had a follow-up visit on Friday and I told Dr. Baroody about my left hip-glutes. This seems to be the major problem now. The left glute gets rather tight and I feel really tight at the top of the left back pelvis. I told him when I run I can't rotate the left hip back and the femur sort of presses into the hip creating the pain and not giving me a  hip rotation. He's a good listener and tried to make sense out of what I was explaining. He did a lot of ART work and finished on the back of the hip. He said it was the quadratus lumborum muscle.

The QR was already a muscle I was quite aware of, but it is a tricky one and one I never found a good stretch that would help it. About 10 years ago when I completed the Falmouth road race, I went direcly to the massage tent where I usually meet a local chiropractor. From years of doing this, he knows a bit about my hip problem. A couple of times, after having an uncomfortable race, he did work on my QL and I would feel great afterwards. In fact, I would feel better running a 5 mile cool-down to my parent's house then I did running the race! However, I never could find a way to stretch, release, or strengthen this muscle.

What is the Quadratus Lumborum?
The quadratus lumborum is a well known muscle that is a primary cause of lower back pain. Its action of bringing the hip up is important for balancing postural distortion. Not only does it refer into the Sacro-Iliac joint, but can cause stress in that joint by pulling the hips out of alignment.
According to this article
The quadratus lumborum muscles, together with the illiopsoas, are a common cause of lower back pain....Because most people sit for 90% of the day, their quadratus lumborum muscles are short, tight, and overused. The quadratus lumborum muscles assist in side bending and in back extension...If you have back pain that is only on one side of your lower back, there’s a good chance it’s the quadratus lumborum on that side...If indeed one of your quadratus lumborum muscles is causing you pain, the quadratus lumborum pain is due to habitual overuse.

With the constant tightness back there (and this is exactly where I used to press 25 year ago to "crack" my own back), I decided to target this area. Dr. Baroody showed me a couple of stretches. One looks like this (you have to go 52 seconds into the video to get the stretch).

Another is a stretch on a swiss ball. This video has a good summary on the quadratus lumborum.

Here is another QL stretch I found that I am doing.

He also said that doing kettlebell windmills will strengthen this area.

The problem with the stretches is that I don't feel them exactly where I feel tight, however something good must be going on as my hips are feeling a little bit better every run and I did run the equivalent of 2 marathons over the past three days.

I am sure the QL stretches are helping some. I'll give it a couple of weeks. In addition, I have started doing resistance stretching of my hamstrings in particular again. My quads and hammies are stating to loosen up some. I wrote tons on resistance stretching a couple of years ago (good place to start) and it still is a unique stetching program that works. I also had a massage a week ago and two weeks ago. That started the loosening process.

I just found this book and am reading it slowly. It has a great section on the quadratus lumburom with stretches and trigger point areas for releasing the QL. I have had other books on trigger points, but this one seems very comprehensive with loads of information. I will report on this book later, after I have read and tried some of the ideas in it more thoroughly.

To see a hamstring resistance stretch find the 4:00 mark. This comes from the Resistance Stretching With Dara Torres DVD.

Bob Cooley, author of The Genius of Flexibility: The Smart Way to Stretch and Strengthen Your Body,shows a partner resistance stretch here.

Finally, I noticed that one of my posts on functional hallux limitis got mentioned on a forum for Aikido (OK he did say my post might be like "watching paint drying" to some readers!). Josh mentions my posts on the stiff big toe and learning body wisdom. I know nothing about Aikido but read through the thread and wanted to find out more about what they were talking about. I do like the phrase "wisdom of the body"  as that is what I am trying to figure out. The links sent me here, where I wanted to learn what Kua was. I found this video and found the movements interesting. My femurs often seem stuck and this actually helped me feel them rotate better.

Anyhow, it has been a successful and busy week!