Saturday, April 30, 2011

Runners who Streak!

Tomorrow online registration opens for the 39th running of the Falmouth Road Race. I have been debating what I should do about this year's race and have decided to pass. I won't be able to run due to my hip (hopefully I will have had surgery by then). I hate missing Falmouth and I am sure I have a small streak of over 15 years going (my records aren't the greatest) and have completed the race around 25 times. I have never really been a streaker (someone who races the same race year after year). I wish I had stuck to running Falmouth every year since I first ran it in 1975 but triathlons and broken bones got in the way. I do have to admire the people who have been able to keep at running favorite races year after year. There are 5 gentlemen who have run each of the first 38 Falmouth Road Races and that is an amazing accomplishment. Here are four of them.

Falmouth friends, from left: Brian Salzberg in the original Falmouth Road Race t-shirt from 1973 (apparently there was some confusion about the distance); Don Delinks; Tommy Leonard; Ron Pokrara; and Mike Bennett. Leonard was one of the Falmouth founders, while Salzberg, Delinks, Pokraka, and Bennett have finished all 38 Falmouths.

You have to really enjoy a race and be dedicated to your running (and maybe be a bit crazy) to keep up such a running streak. Sports Illustrated gave a "Faces in the Crowd" recognition this week to Neil Weygandt after completing his 45th consecutive Boston Marathon this year. Some of these long-time runners have slowed down considerably due to age and other issues. I enjoy hearing about streaking racers who still can run pretty fast. Scott Graham is my age and last fall completed his first Ironman Triathlon which is pretty heady stuff indeed, but Scott is also a long time runner. This year he completed his 26th consecutive Boston Marathon. He is just not completing them, he ran it in ‎3:00:50. That is quite a streak and a fast time!Years of running can really beat up the body.

Two other Falmouth Road Race streakers who have one of the longest consecutive ongoing streaks at Falmouth are Brian Baker and his older brother Jeff, who are both from New York and have a 32 year ongoing streak each. I have seen both of the Bakers in the starting corral for years at Falmouth and many times, because of the familiarity of their faces, have keyed parts of my races off of them. I have never formally met them yet, but Brian and I have been writing back and forth about our experiences in running and at Falmouth and I look forward to officially meeting them both this year, even though I won't be running. Brian and Jeff are not just consistent runners, but they are very fast. They both started running Falmouth in 1979 when a high school friend told them about a "really cool race on Cape Cod." They entered and ran, their friend entered also but sent in the wrong sized envelope and didn't get accepted. Brain and Jeff have continued running Falmouth since that first invitation and they do it quickly year after year: Jeff's fastest Falmouth was 37:21 in 1983 and he has a lifetime average time of 43:47 over those 32 years! Brian's fastest Falmouth was in 39:32 in 1984 and he has a lifetime average of 42:43. That is quite an amazing feat!

Brian and Jeff Baker
  A history of Brian's and Jeff's Famouth Road Race times.
Jeff Baker at Falmouth

Brian Baker at Falmouth

Some of the posters, numbers, and Falmouth Road Race paraphernalia that Brian has collected over the years. My wife was pleased  to find out the someone has collected more race stuff than I have!

Now for a confession. I almost had my own "Falmouth streak" going one year. When I was a freshman at Falmouth High School back in 1973, streaking was the current fad. I was shopping one day at the local Bradlees department store and I saw what I thought was a very funny shirt. It said something like, "Member, USA Streaking Team". I bought it and brought it home. Then my mom saw it and made me bring it back to the store. That was sort of awkward, "Um why do you want to return this shirt?"

My suggestion to you is if you have never run Falmouth sign up for the online registration and see if you can make it into the race this year. If you do get to run Falmouth keep doing it again and again and try to stay healthy. See how many years you can go. A 32 year streak will take you to 2043! These long time streakers are doing something right and they keep doing it again and again. Later I would like to have Brian explain a method he has discovered for keeping injury free, particularly after so many years of racing. 

The 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge

I can't believe that it was the end of August when I had to stop running. I got a few training runs here and there in as I kept testing things out with my hip as well as two 5ks in the Fall, but there was nothing I could train for without my hip hurting, and the only goal was to figure out what was really wrong with my hip. It has been almost two months now since my last attempt at running. That is the longest I have gone without running a step since I began running in 1973. With the warmer weather I had at least hoped that I could do some cycling. I found I could cycle pretty much pain free, but that if I did, the next couple of days would be really painful with what I think is an irritated nerve on my left side. That means there is not much else I can do for exercise without bothering my hip. Fortunately I did find I could do kettlebell two-handed swings (doing one-handed swings put enough torque on my hip to cause irritation). So in the last few months I began swinging, I went from a 35 pound kettlebell doing about 100 swings max on a good day to using a 50 pound kettlebell and reaching a goal of 1000 swings (not continuously but with breaks like doing intervals on the track).

At the end of last month I learned of a kettlebell  30 day 10,000 Swing Challenge for the month of April. I decided to join in and was thrilled to have some training goals. It was just the push that I needed. Well today I finished my 10,000th kettlebell swing of the month and I am sort-of-sick of doing them, but very happy that I could complete some sort of athletic goal for the first time in months. Doing lots of swings can be very monotonous and boring, but it is at least doing something. They get the heart really pumping and the lungs really working like when you are doing a good hard run, however I miss the feeling of the wind in my face and the changing ground underneath my feet. It is also weird to be feeling that my arms and shoulders are becoming the fit parts of my body and not my legs, even though the swing is a whole body exercise. Holding onto the kettlebell was a lot harder a month ago, but my grip is much stronger now. I also find it funny that my hands were getting blisters instead of my feet.

Last Saturday I also thought up my own challenge within the challenge and did what I am now calling a Kettlebell Swing Marathon. To complete the marathon you have to complete 2620 kettlebell swings in one day. The number comes from the fact that a marathon is 26.2 miles long. Let me tell you that was one long day! The most swings I had ever done in a day was 1300 so it doubled my previous best day. The last 600 swings were mentally very similar to the last 6 miles of a marathon. It would have been very easy to give up and call it a day, and I was getting fatigued, but I was still able to keep good form and press on to reaching my goal. I doubt I will ever try that again in my life, however! I did this kettlebell marathon with the 50 pound kettlebell.

Throughout the month I used the 50 pound kettlebell for the high repetition days. On the easier days I used the 35 pound bell at times. I like my 50 pounder better as the handle is wider to fit both hands. The handle on my 35 pounder is thicker and doesn't have quite enough room to fit a full grip with both hands which makes it uncomfortable for a lengthy swing session.I did intervals of 25 -50 with the 50 pound bell and intervals of 50-300 with the 35 pound bell. Here is the progressions I did. There was no rhyme or reason to my training, if my hip felt good I did more, if my hip was sore I only did a few or none at all. I missed more days than I would have liked, but some days my hip wasn't feeling up to it. The kettlebell marathon day also took a bit out of me and I put off those final swings.

Total 10,000

Next week I finally get to go and discuss my labral tears with a doctor and find out if and when I can have surgery. I am not sure when I will have the chance to run again. The best case scenario would be the fall, the worst would be a year or so, and I can't even contemplate being told I can't run anymore! I am just so excited to finally get going on taking the steps to finally fix my hip.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

1984 Falmouth Road Race

6 miles: Mark Curp, Adriain Leek, and eventual winner David Murphy
From the Falmouth Road Race site.
1984 — Prize money was officially awarded for the first time at Falmouth, although financial compensation and inducements had long been a part of the running scene. But this year it was above the table, and Dave Murphy of Great Britain and Joan Nesbit of North Carolina stepped forward to claim the $6,000 first prizes. In all, $46,000 was awarded and 5,004 answered the starting gun on a hot, sun-splashed day. Murphy worked hard for the money, overtaking Mark Curp in the last 200 meters to win Falmouth's closest race ever. The race marked Curp's third top-five finish in three years. This was an Olympic year and defending champions Joseph Nzau and Joan Benoit stayed home, both recuperating from running marathons in Los Angeles, where Benoit captured the gold medal. Nesbit, helped by a new staggered starting system, recorded the fourth-best women's time at Falmouth with a 37:12.

I recall reading after the race that Joan Nesbit was being coached by my former high school teammate Don Lockerbie.

finished 251 in 40:46
6 mile mark

Sarah came to watch her first Falmouth. She eventually ran it in 2006.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

1983 Falmouth Road Race

Joseph Nzau of Kenya #3 pulls a head of Simon Kigen #21 and third place winner Mark Curp -#5 during the running of the Falmouth Road Race. 
Here is eventual race winner, Joseph Nzau, 2nd place finisher, Simeon Kigen, and 3rd place finisher, Mark Curp, at a little before the 6 mile mark. Joseph Nzau was the first African winner at Falmouth. It wasn't until 1991 that the next Kenyan, Steve Kogo, won Falmouth.

I can't find my time or place, but I ran it. I was getting into triathlons that summer and less than one month after Falmouth I would compete in the first Cape Cod Endurance (Ironman distance) Triathlon.

Joan Benoit won for the 5th time and set a new course record.

Previous year winner, Alberto Salazar, handing out winner trophies.

From the Falmouth Road Race website:
1983 — If she wasn't already, then this was the year Joan Benoit became the First Lady of Falmouth. Running as the favorite, she went wire to wire to win for the third year in a row and fifth time overall. Her effort was the all more remarkable because she was competing with a painfully infected toe and still she set a course record (36:21). The men's race figured to be wide open and it was left to a diminutive 31-year-old from Kenya, Joseph Nzau, to emerge the victor in one of the most competitive races in Falmouth history. He won by just seven seconds over countryman Simeon Kigen. Two-time defending champion Alberto Salazar, saddled with general fatigue from a bout with bronchitis, watched the finish from the press truck. Olympic pole vaulting gold medalist Bob Seagren was one of the official finishers.

Here is a blog post recounting the 1983 Falmouth Road Race from 2nd place female, Nancy Rooks Tinari. She was also the third female finisher in 1988. Her last name is fun, turn it around and you get "I ran it", almost as interesting as former world class runner Anuta Catuna, whose name is a palindrome.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Kettlebell Swing

This is an outstanding video lesson on performing and troubleshooting the kettlebell swing. It comes from Delaine Ross from All About Kettlebells.

While the labral tears in my hip won't let me run or bike, strangely enough I can do hundreds and even over 1000 of these in a workout without any hip or back pain. It must be because both legs are stable and all motion is forward and back. On the other hand, if I perform one-handed swings I get an irritated back and irritated nerves down my leg that will last for a day or so just like when I bike. It must be the little bit of twist through the hip and back. The kettlebell swing is cardio and strength training all rolled into one exercise.

I joined a Kettlebell Challenge where you are supposed to try to complete 10,000 kettlebell swings in the month of April. My goal is to do 15,000 swings. You just can't take the distance runner out of me!!

On the other hand, this video shows you how to NOT use kettelbells, even though the instructor says it is the "funnest" way to use kettlebells!!