Friday, December 31, 2010

Kickstarting the New Year Early

I have kick-started my New Year a few days early. 2010 was not a very good year running wise, I can only hope that I can run in 2011. There are not many highlights. Probably my only achievement was winning the age group in the Moose on the Loose 10 miler which got me a RRCA state champion plaque. It was a very uncomfortable race for me as my hips were all off, but I fought back to pass a competitor to win the age group. I did hit 85 miles total in one week of running this summer and ran about 12 races in August, but by the end of the month I realized I couldn't run my hip into shape and have barely run since.

That means I have been eating a lot of bad foods, losing fitness, and not feeling motivated or able to do other exercise. I have been waiting out the medical care people to figure out my hip and stride, but patience has not helped. Every time I run a couple of miles, I feel it the next day with muscles around my hip lighting up like Times Square on New Years Eve.

This week I started doing something about it and I seeing if I can kick off the New Year and regain the ability to run, move, and feel better. So Tuesday, I started reading The 4-Hour Body. I knew I needed to change from the diet full of carbs and ice cream that I had been living on. I started cold turkey using Tim Ferris's Slow-Carb diet. Basically I am eating eggs, meat, beans, and veggies. You don't eat carbs from bread, cereal, pasta, or other sources so it is a about-face for my body. Fortunately, I am not really running so I am using this to drop some weight pretty quickly. The interesting thing about this plan is that one day a week you can eat anything you want and it doesn't even have to be healthy food. The body needs that jolt to keep up with the rapid weight loss. Here is Tim Ferris describing how to make a 3 minute breakfast. By the way I have eaten more spinach this week than in my entire life!

Also on Tuesday, I am finally getting some excellent therapy for my hip and leg. Back in November the physiatrist wanted me to try some physical therapy for my hip before considering other options. I went along with his recommendation for a therapist. The PT he sent me to was useless. I was getting basic old therapy, just moving my hip around and things like lunges. I have done this all before and the therapy wasn't changing even though I was going in twice a week. He couldn't answer any questions for me, was unwilling to listen to my observations, and if something puzzled him he just shrugged his shoulders. After three weeks I quit and asked the doctor if I could choose another therapist. I had an idea. After discovering the videos that Leigh Boyle was putting online over at Athletes Treating Athletes, I decided that she was the type of therapist who had the skills, creativity, and desire to help. I finally got my referral changed and ended up in Plaistow, NH for my first visit on Tuesday.

What an excellent choice. Leigh is a triathlete and understands the athlete's body. On Tuesday she worked for about an hour on the muscles of my left foot and leg. She is working on the weaknesses and tight muscles, and trying to straighten things out. She also uses the metal scraping tools of the Graston Technique and ART (Active Release Technique) and who know what else. My left leg was a bit straighter after one session. The next day I tried a treadmill run and went 3 miles. I felt much more balanced, but my glutes were still tightening up a bit. That afternoon the glutes got tighter and tighter and all around my hip started getting tight. That night I was up for around 2 hours trying to loosen up, and finally I got the left psoas muscle to release and it all went away. It is not going to be an easy fix.

Leigh wrote up a whole list of things that explained what was going on. Despite my abnormal structure, she thinks the calf tightens and everything else stiffens up. She thinks that my foot and lower leg is what is hurting the hip so that needs to be fixed first. I trust what she is doing and it is the hands on type of therapy that I have been searching for for years. So even if it is a drive of almost an hour each way to get there, I am happy to head out to Plaistow twice a week to get fixed.

Leigh's site is Athletes Treating Athletes. She is putting out some of the best videos I have seen for self-treatment of athletic muscular injuries. Check out the site. Look for the stretching and self-massage sections. She works out of Pinnacle Physical Therapy. I noticed a lot of articles on Dave Dunham on their bulletin board. Dave goes there for treatment and he is a master on running and getting injured.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Unbroken" - Never Give up!

"Never give up!"
 In 1977 I graduated from the Stony Brook School on Long Island. The commencement speaker was the Rev. Billy Graham (his son Ned was a classmate). I don't remember much of Billy Graham's speech, but I do recall his final words," Never give up. Never Give up. Never. Never. Never," (although the "never"s sounded more like "nevah"). Those are great lines and through the years I have remembered them. Fortunately my struggles in life have not been too dramatic and I have only resorted to using Mr. Graham's words in situations involving athletic endurance and health.

There is a bestselling book out now, that epitomizes these words of Rev. Billy Graham. It is the remarkable life story of Louie Zamperini told in Laura Hillenbrand's book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Louie grew up a juvenile delinquent in California. In high school he became a runner and turned his future around. He set the high school mile record and ended up at the 1936 United States Olympic Trials as a teenager. He earned a berth on the team to Berlin by finishing the 5000 meter track race in blistering heat tied with world record holder Don Lash. In Berlin he made it to the finals and in a remarkable final lap made up tons of ground to pass many runners and finish eighth. His final last lap of 56 seconds caught the attention of Adolf Hitler who asked for a private meeting.

This book isn't really about Louie Zamperini's running career, although a case could be made that Louie was on the fast track to possibly becoming the world's first sub 4 minute miler. The mile was his race, and that final 56 second lap was 3-4 seconds faster than the world's best milers were running in the final laps of their mile races. Louie did go on to set a collegiate mile record that stood for 15 years.

World War Two was looming and Louie joined the United States Air Force where he became a bombardier. After flying numerous missions his plane went down due to mechanical failure and he survived 47 days at sea in a small life raft with one other man (the record prior to this for life raft survival was 21 days). He was rescued by the Japanese Navy and sent to prisoner of war camps were he was subjected to unbelievable cruelty. Meanwhile he was considered dead back in the USA. One particular guard, "The Bird", tried to break Louie with constant pummeling and hatred. It was remarkable for Louie to continually face such outrageous treatment, hunger, and conditions to survive.

He did, however and returned to the United States as a war hero. He thought he could go on with his life, but his demons caught up with him and nightmares of "The Bird" sent his life into a downward spiral. A speech by a young Billy Graham helped bring Louie to his senses where he learned to find peace, forgive his captors, and bring his life back in order.

This was a wonderful read that was masterfully written by Laura Hillenbrand, who  also wrote Seabiscuit: An American Legend. It was the first book I read on my new Kindle,I found the Kindle experience to be a great way to read a book and I was engrossed in the text for the past two days. This is a must read book and I must say I now have a much better idea of what Billy Graham meant when he said, "Never give up. Never give up. Never. Never. Never." He could have just told us the story of his friend Louie Zamperini. Maybe he did. I just can't remember.
Here is a 4-part series on the Life on Louie Zamperini (maybe you saw this years ago on CBS during Nagano Winter Olympics).

 Great video of the 1936 Olympic Trials 5000m finish.

 Beware the loud white noise ending this clip.

Beware! While the volume of this video is on the soft side, the is FULL VOLUME WHITE NOISE at 9:26 that could blow your speakers.

 Includes CBS interview with "The Bird"

Book Trailer for Unbroken

Fox New Report: Portrait of an American Hero

 Laura Hillenbrand's website for Unbroken
2002 Running Times article "The Meaning of Endurance: Olympian Louie Zamperini's Story
January 2011 Runner's World article "Life according to Louie"

November 2010 Wall Street Journal article on Louie Zamperini and author Laura Hillenbrand, who is a prisoner herself in her won way due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Defiant Ones


Here is a recent photo of Louis meeting with Billy Graham in June 2011


Saturday, December 18, 2010

You know what, I want to get back and compete!

I like a guy who doesn't give up, and the American record holder in the marathon in just one of those guys who doesn't quit. There is a very good article on the "Races Like a Girl" blog on what is currently happening with Khalid Khannouchi. He still dreams of recovering from injuries and running fast times.
"You know what, I want to get back and compete!"
I have no clue what it is like to run at the level that Khalid Khannouchi  competed at, but I can feel his pain about being injured and just wanting to get back to running and racing. It would be great to see him tearing up the roads again.

Here is a letter I wrote that got published in Sports Illustrated back in 2002 after the magazine failed to acknowledge Khalid Khannouci's world and American record being set at the London Marathon in the same week that an article lamented that Alberto Salazar was the last great American marathoner.

Marathon Man
It was nice to revisit
Alberto Salazar (CATCHING UP WITH, April 22). However, the article begins, " Alberto Salazar has no desire to be known as the last great American marathoner, but that's exactly what he is." Well, in case you didn't notice—and it looks that way—an American set a world record in the London Marathon on April 14. Khalid Khannouchi broke his own mark in a long-anticipated, epic race against two of the greatest distance runners ever, Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie and Kenya's Paul Tergat. The often overlooked Khannouchi is an American citizen who was born and raised in Morocco, but this does not make him any less an American. Just ask Alberto Salazar, who was born in Cuba. The greatest marathoner in the world today is an American! JIM HANSEN, Nashua, N.H.

I had Khalid sign it before the Falmouth Road Race one year. He was sitting next to Alberto Salazar and I thought it would be funny to have him sign it too, but I didn't think that would be  respectful of me.

Here is the Mark Beech article in Sports Illustrated that I was responding too. It is the only time in my life I wrote a letter to a magazine and I was very shocked to see it got published.

My letter was later quoted in a Running Times article in January of  2003: Foreign Born Americans: The Diverse Face of Team USA By Jonathan Beverly, Roger Robinson.

I cannot believe that  there is no video to be found online of Khalid Khannouchi setting one of his marathon world records.