Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Mysterious Marathons of Kip Litton

Kip at the 2009 Manchester Marathon
I have been following with fascination the letsrun thread on Michigan dentist Kip Litton for thousands of messages it seems. This week there is a resolution and satisfaction with the publication of an article in the New Yorker magazine by Mark Singer, although the answer is never clear as to why Kip Litton did what he did. Basically Kip Litton is a cheat. Marathons have seen many cheaters through the years, most famously Rose Ruiz in the Boston Marathon  Kip Litton is a little different. He traveled around the country in a quest to run a sub 3 hour marathon in every state, except it seems he did not really run the full marathon most times. He even made up whole marathons, marathon websites, and fellow competitors to add to his list of completed marathons. The way Kip Litton "ran" the marathons was even more fascinating. He would start minutes behind the rest of the field, with his number covered be a shirt or sweatshirt, a cap pulled down over his ground-facing face so that he might not be recognized. Then he would appear at the end of the race, often after a change of clothes and shoes without registering at checkpoints and without his picture being taken by race photographers. His chip time from a later start would often place him in front of age group racers who never saw him on the course. The runners at letsrun outed Kip in a lengthy detective game of looking for him in race photos. The question remains, "Why would he do this?" Some answers are found in Mark Singer's article. You can find the article in this week's edition of the New Yorker magazine (on newstands-not online). My favorite part of the article is when Singer interviews an unrepentant Kip at a Wendy's after this years Boston Marathon no-show. Kip is ironically sittingunderneath a poster of Dave Thomas stating, "When it comes to VALUES, I've never been one to cut corners." Then later Lady Gaga is singing, "Pokerface," as Kip gives away no secrets. Superb! 

Kip at the finish. The one place you can usually find him.
Here is where you can find more information about Kip Litton and his cheating ways:
Pat Price over at Writing about Running gives a good summary of the New Yorker article.
An earlier Writing about Running article from 2011 The Outing of Kip Litton
The infamous Rojo says he might start a Kip Litton thread but only 1 and only 1 thread on Letsrun
The Study of Kip Litton blog which has photos and videos of Kip's misdeeds 

Kip? or just someone in a Kip pose?
I did run one race in which Kip presumably cheated in 2009. That would be the Manchester Marathon in NH. Kip finished 15th overall in 2:54:06 just 18 seconds and one place ahead (both overall and age group) in front of my friend and teammate Michael Wright. Mike never saw Kip on the course as Kip started further back in the pack. I have told Mike about Kip, but he is unconcerned even though it cost him a place in his age-group. Kip did negative split the race, which is hard to do on this hilly marathon, but possible. I also ran a negative split, running the first half in 1:46:30 and the second half in 1:42:52, however it was my second marathon in a week and I was suffering from imbalances caused by what I now know was caused by a labral tear in my hip. I was also trying out new inserts in my shoe the morning of the race. In looking at the Brightroom photos of the race, there are 16 pictures of me running, and only 2 of Kip. There is one other photo of him identified, but the runner is in completely different clothes and even a different colorered number, but the runner has the classic Kip heads down pose-either someone is having fun with the photo or maybe that is Kip and he his chip on registering the photo. Mike Wright has 18 photos online. There was a photographer on a bridge taking pictures of the marathoners. It would have been hard to avoid the photographer if you were truly running the whole marathon.

Update: I checked out the picture above further and it is runner 1345 who happened to be a female runner who completed the half-marathon. It is not Kip, so Kip had only 2 photos taken during the race. I assume one is the finish and one is at the half-marathon. He then successfully "avoided" the race photographers for the rest of the race. What I find humorous is that someone found the picture of #1345 in full head-down Kip pose and placed the photo under Kip's name on the Brightroom website. Someone has a sense of humor!

Kip "head-down" pose

1345 in a Kip-like pose
but not Kip according to the results!

But still I question how can #1345 a woman finisher in
the 1/2 marathon in 2:26 be wearing the same glasses
as Kip in this race?
I guess she is just Kip's female doppelganger. They run in the same way with the same

Update 2
Peter Larson over at Runblogger confirms that he has no video of Kip Litton at the 6 or 20 mile mark of the 2009 Manchester Marathon. Peter Larson had students taking video of the race participants for a foot-strike study. http://www.runblogger.com/2012/09/my-unexpected-connection-to-kip-litton.html He was able to get video of 95% of the participants in the top 300. 

After 23 months, a long run!

The week didn't go as planned. I had been looking forward to Wednesday's workout for months and I could only go 2 miles, but Friday made up for it. I just decided to go further while I was feeling good. I had been told the cortisone shot in my hip would take a week or two to cut down the inflammation, so Friday was one week.

Monday: 3 miles Mine Falls Trail Race 5k (5 seconds slower than the previous week)
Tuesday:  0 miles running 8 miles cycling
Wednesday: 2 miles (then two mile walk home) Today was the day I had planned to do my first workout post surgery over 8 miles. It was the one year anniversary of my surgery. My hip joint was too tight. I was going to do 10 miles, but had to stop and walk home.
Thursday: 0 miles running 16 miles cycling
Friday: 13 miles running, hip felt better and so I did my first run over 8 miles in 23 months.
Saturday: 0 miles
Sunday: 0 miles I was heading out the door for a run, when I got a call reminding me that the Coldplay concert in Boston was in a couple of hours, not the next day like I thought. No running, great concert!

Total 18 miles running

There is a running man in this video I took of Coldplay performing "Charlie Brown."

"We'll run wild,
We'll be glowing in the dark."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Active Isolated Stretching with Phil Wharton

Coach Jay Johnston posted some videos of Phil Wharton leading his Boulder Running Camp participants through an active isolated stretching routine. Back in the 1990s, I had a VHS tape of the Wharton's explaining and going through this AIS routine. I lent it out about 10 years ago and never got it back. I did the routine many times a week for a few years and got looser than I have ever been, however it did not improve my hip/lower back which I now know was mostly due to a labral tear. It was nice to go through the routine again. I could still do most of it from memory, but there were some new tips I forgot or that have been developed since the earlier video. This wasn't the whole routine from before, but still it is a good reminder of how to stretch with a rope using the force of an opposing muscle to create the stretch and holding it for only a short amount of time to keep your muscles from having a stretch reflex. Jay Johnston says that Running DVDs will be producing a DVD/download with full instructions in the fall.

If you want to give it a go, here is the three-part video series. I particularly like the change for the hip flexor stretch. The rope used to be used to pull the leg being stretched back. Now you use your hands and the rope is used to hold the forward leg in a 90 degree angle, something I found hard to do with my hands in the previous version. I felt the hip flexor stretch much better than before and even better than in the kneeling video I posted yesterday.The stretching starts at about 2 minutes.

Here are some foot and ankle routines. The second video show some strengthening that I haven't seen before.


I have picked up a few of the Jim and Phil Wharton's books through the years including The Whartons' Stretch Book, The Whartons' Strength Book: 35 Lifts for Over 55 Different Sports and Everyday Activities,  and The Wharton's Back Book , however I found I had the most success when following their instruction on a video.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Problem Solving for the Hips from the Gray Institute

This video comes from the Gray Institute newsletter. The instructor is Lenny Parracino. There is a lot of quick, direct, and powerful instruction in the video and while it looks like a regular hip flexor stretch, there are a lot of variations that could make this more powerful.

This is the description from the Gray Institute:

The hip is a very powerful region of the human body, when it works well we appreciate its power. When it’s restricted, we feel its loss of transformation and subsequent compensation. On one end, due to the hip region being so powerful it can adaptively get ‘tight” and eventually stiff by exercising more than resting/recovering. On the other end if we live a more sedentary life especially prolonged sitting, the hip region becomes adaptively tight and eventually chronically stiff. This lack of balance (too much movement or too little movement) can lead to many compensations most commonly low back pain, knee dysfunction and/or overall loss of daily function (picking up objects from ground, getting in and out of car, etc.). This can be simplified as an energy leak in the power center causing compensation or symptoms elsewhere. To help balance this very important power center, please join the Gray Institute to learn a very powerful technique to unlock the commonly locked hip region. You will feel the results immediately!
Here is a previous post I made Warming up runners through three planes of motion that has an embedded video of Gary Gray of the Gray Instittue addressing the issue of hip tightness He completely explains all motions of the Hip Joint and how the different motions interact. He talks about how tightness of the hip capsules can restrict motion in all three planes of motion and begins mentioning how to address restrictions of the femur in the hip capsule which can create body disfunctions and bad motions throughout the body.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another shot to the hip

In a few days, it will mark one year since I had my left hip operated on and although I think the operation was very successful, it has taken a lot longer than I expected to get back to full running health again.

This weeks mileage:
Monday: 3 miles Mine Falls Trail 5k race.
While it was a very hot evening and I did run fasert than my two previous times on the course this year, I felt like I was fighting my body and hip the whole way. I have so much respect for out of shape or recovering runners these days. I was completed knocked out after finishing the race and it was not even at a pace I am used to doing marathon races in. I have felt better finishing marathons than I felt after this effort.
Tuesday: 0 miles running/ 8 miles biking
Wednesday: 5 miles running-3 miles walking home.
 I should know that when I am moving like a 100 year old man on the first mile of a run that I should just stop and go home. I tried to loosen up, but it didn't happen and my body just stopped at 5 miles. Even walking wasn't comfortable.
Thursday: 12 miles biking
I got so fed up with the tightness around my hip that I called my surgeons's office. When I got to his assistant she wanted to know what was wrong. She asked what the doctor had said about my hip post surgery. I told her that he said there was minimal arthritis for someone my age. Then she said, "Well this might be as good as it is going to get!" WHAT? Then she pulled up my records and pictures and said that, "No, my hip looked pretty good." She signed me up for a cortisone shot in the hip for the next day. She said that they would work from the inside out, first check out the hip, then the ligaments around it, and then most likely my psoas. I feel like it is the ligaments and psoas that keep tightening up on me so that is a good start. I also set up an early September appointment with the surgeon.
Friday: 8 miles biking
I went for the shot down at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. It was an injection of Marcaine (numbing agent) and Celestone (cortisone). I was told that the cortisone may not work for a week or two in bringing down the inflammation but that the shot may dry out or take moisture out of the joint. This is curious, because when I had a cortisone injection 1 1/2 years ago to check if I had a labral tear, I felt great for about 5 days and ran two fast 8 milers, unfortunately the next day the medicine wore off and I had to walk home in the middle of an 8 miler. That is what confirmed the labral tear, so I thought the cortisone worked quickly. Anyhow, unlike the first injection, I got a reaction from this one. That evening I had a big headache and my face was all hot. All my joints on the left side that often go out of whack, lit up and I did not sleep at all that night.

Saturday 8 mile bike then 8 mile run (fastest 8 miles since surgery a year earlier-by almost 3 minutes and I was holding back-and even faster than those two 8 miles from the last injection).
I got up after no sleep in the morning and worked on the computer. After awhile I had this incredible urge to stretch my hip. It was almost jumping at me. I got up and did half of the stretch I felt like doing and "POP" went my hip. From then on, my hip felt loose and juicy. It did not feel stuck at all. I was tired in the afternoon and went for a bike first to see if the hip was really loose and to get it working. Then I went for an 8 mile run. I felt fantastic. Everything was in balance. Did all the joints aching the previous night mean they were letting go of tension and then the hip let go with the pop? I had a real loose stride and had to slow down the run so as not to overdue things, but it felt great. I just rolled down the road and felt like a real runner again. I could have kept running when I was done and I had no limping or soreness upon finishing. I don't know what happened, but certainly there is less pressure and confinement in my hip so it can move better. I have also been taking Aleve at the doctor's suggestion. If I could run like that for the rest of my life, I would be a very happy person.

Sunday: 8 mile bike- 4 mile run
The run was rougher today. I made a good effort yesterday and so I  and the muscles around my hip were tired. I think the hip joint was good, but some of my muscle imbalances were back. I look forward to see how this will play out in the next week or two.

Total miles: 20 miles running / 44 miles biking

One of the readers of this blog, Mike down in Texas, told me about this quirky book he had been reading on Vitamin D called  THE MIRACULOUS RESULTS OF EXTREMELY HIGH DOSES OF THE SUNSHINE HORMONE VITAMIN D3 MY EXPERIMENT WITH HUGE DOSES OF D3 FROM 25,000 to 50,000 to 100,000 IU A Day OVER A 1 YEAR PERIOD a couple of weeks ago. I noticed that the Kindle edition is now free on Amazon so if you are looking for a thought-provoking read this may interest you. The author is somewhat a free and radical thinker with a lot of creativity. He makes some interesting observations and tests his ideas on himself. I have been reading the book and finding it interesting, particularly since I was found to be low in Vitamin D this year already. The author talks about his theories and makes claims that large doses of Vitamin D can help tired out ligaments and joints recover. 

This new book from the author of The Entrepreneurial Patient blog is a must read book for anyone with hip problems and is thinking about about arthroscopic hip surgery or has had arthroscopic hip surgery for a labral tear or FAI.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Oh Canada: Olympic Team in Pursuit of Jerome Drayton's Record

Jerome Drayton winning
 the Fukuoka Marathon in 1975.

Here CBC's Scott Russell talks about the optimistic hopes for Canada's marathon runners heading into the Summer Olympics in London, England and their pursuit of Jerome Drayton's Canadian marathon record of 2:10:09 set while winning the famous Fukuoka marathon in Japan back in 1975. Drayton was also the winner of the 1977 Boston Marathon. This video shows some training in Kenya and a rare interview with the enigmatic Jerome Drayton.

Here is an old video showing Drayton winning in Boston in 1977.

Here is an interesting article outlining how brain science might help Reid Coolsaet achieve greatness in the marathon. It highlights his run in the 2011 Scotia Bank Marathon where he decided to go with the Kenyan leaders and ended up third in 2:10:55 on a windy day. Eric Gillis also qualified in this race for the Canadian Olympic team beating the qualifying time by 0.7 seconds with a 2:11:28 run. Earlier this year Dylan Wykes ran 2:10:47 to beat Coolsaet's time as the 2nd fastest Canadian ever to become the third member of the Canadian team, the first time Canada has sent a marathon team since the 2000 Olympics.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running for my Life by Lopez Lomong

The American Olympic athletes of the 2008 Olympic Games could not have chosen a better representative to hold the American flag during the opening ceremonies than 1500 meter athlete Lopez Lomong. His story chronicled in the just released book Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games is an inspiring story that explores both the highs and lows of living as a human being on planet earth. At the age of 6, Lopez, was plucked from his mother's arms at an outdoor church service by rebel soldiers and kidnapped along with many other children to be trained as child soldiers for the war in Sudan. Lopez made a daring escape weeks later with his three "angels" as he calls them and ran his way to the Kenyan border where he was placed in the Kakuma refuge camp high on the desert plains.

Lopez became, like many others, a boy without parents, a boy without a country, and a boy without a future.  Lopez and the other "lost boys of Sudan" lived a spartan existence in this camp of up to 50,000 refuges. Living on only one meal a day Lopez looked forward to two things: Tuesday trash day when the refugees might find some old food to eat amongst the trash and playing soccer. So many boys wanted to play soccer that the boys came up with a rule: before you played each day you had to run one lap around the Kakuma camp. It was 30 kilometers around the camp and Lopez would run the 18 miles and then would even skip getting a drink of water after his run so he could more quickly get to the soccer playing.

For ten years this was how Lopez and the other Lost Boys existed, until the USA started airlifting some of these refugees to America for resettlement in our country. My sister took in four Lost Boys from the Kakuma camp and I vividly recall meeting these boys in the extremely cold Boston weather of that December days after their arrival. The world was new and scary to them and full of wonderment. They thought they were shrinking as the cold air wrinkled their skin. Cars, escalators, running water and flushing toilets, and doors that swung on a hinge were all new experiences for these boys. I recall visiting that first time and after awhile wondering where they had gone to. I went down to their room and found them working on their new school homework. One boy was trying to make it through reading and understanding "A Raisin in the Sun." All that these boys wanted was a chance. A chance for an education and a chance to make a difference in the world and they were not going to waste time. They had their priorities straight. They had seen far too much to not know of the great opportunity they had just been presented with. Lopez's reaction to his new home and circumstances was similar.

When Lopez made his way to his new surrounding in Syracuse, New York he too was befuddled by the grandeur and the riches of his new mom and dad. He went from having so little to experiencing so much, but within days Lopez needed to center himself so he asked to go for a run of say about 30 kilometers. His new parents were startled and called up the local cross-country coach and Lopez was soon turned into a runner. His parents backed him 100% in whatever he did and also cemented in him the desire to get a college degree. Lopez started high school with a minimal amount of English words, but graduated and made his way to college and the running teams and eventually on to the 2008 Olympic team where he was chosen to be the American flag bearer. As I said there was no better choice of an athlete to depict what it means to be American.

Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games is a wonderful story worth reading whether you are a runner or not. Lopez's story talks to the better nature of all people as he goes from lost boy to entertaining a president at the Olympic Games. The good news is that Lopez has made his second Olympic team and will be running the 5000 meters for America this summer in London. I do not want to give away too much of the book, but pay attention to a small handmade ring, goat and cow guts, a gimpy hamstring and a sudden ankle injury, Olympic champion Michael Johnson, and his three "angels". Lopez is doing more for others in his homeland of South Sudan. You can find more at his website here.

Other posts on Lopez Lomong:
Lopez Lomong's Incredible 5000 meter debut Awesome race and "incredible" finish. NPR referenced this blog post and my fourth grade students found this "incredible" too as that was a vocabulary word in our class that week!
Lopez Lomong: Everything is Possible
Recovering Children in Africa: Great Stories of Survival and Giving Back

I would also recommend reading War Child: A Child Soldier's Story by former Lost Boy, singer, and peace activist Emmanuel Jal. His story is a little more hard-hitting about the hardships encountered by these Sudanese children. I wrote more about Emmanuel Jal here.

Another wonderful book I read last week by my friend and teaching colleague here in Nashua is called Accepting the Challenge! This book tells about Scott's dedication to a couple of Burundi boys and their families after being relocated from the Kakuma refuge camp to resettlement in Nashua as high school students. It also tells about the boys' dedication to reaching for their goals of going to college. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Faster Higher Stronger: Stories of the Olympic Games - 1500 Meters Documentary

BBC 2's history of the Olympics now tells the story of the blue ribbon event of any Games - the 1500 meters, or metric mile. This was the race that gave Britain its finest Olympic hour in Los Angeles in 1984 when three British world champions competed for gold - Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram. Travelling to the many and varied environments that have helped shape the greatest 1500m runners - from the forests of Finland to the beaches of Australia, from the city streets and country lanes of Britain to the high altitude terrains of Kenya and Morocco - it reveals that although the race is run on a track, it is ultimately won on punishing training runs in natural landscapes. With contributions from some of the greatest Olympians ever to run the 1500m - Kip Keino, Herb Elliot, Peter Snell, Sebastian Coe and the current world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj - the programme shows that to win 1500m gold, athletes need the stamina of marathon runners, the explosive speed of the best sprinters and the tactical brains of chess masters.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Level Runner

Level Runner is a website and journal worth checking out whether your are in the New England area or not. whether you are an old school runner or not. or whether you are an elite runner or not.

"You’ve found the website of Level Renner, the premier journal of (new england) running for the olde school athlete. In each issue: elite athlete profiles (pics on left), performance articles, general running commentary, retro rat reissues and so much more.  Run on the ground. Read the underground. Keep it on The Level."

You can subsribe for free to the digital issue of their journal as well as read all issues they have produced online. Here is the skinny (according to Level Runner).

Level Runner
always free
7 issues per year: Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/Jun, Jul/Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov/Dec
serious club runner content in each issue
elite (regional) athlete profiles
performance and nutrition columns
commentaries on all things running
race reports
running themed art house stuff (original lit, photography, artwork)
bits (surveys, music, rants)
retro rat (reissues of classic articles from the legendary Hockomock Swamp Rat)

I am not sure if anything can replace the Hockomock Swamp Rat, but even if you are not in New England you might want to read and support this effort.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lessons from a grandmother

This weeks mileage:

Monday: 0 miles-8 miles on the kickbike
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday: 0 miles
Thursday: 8 miles
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 8 miles slow-but first time getting in three 8 milers in a row since February
Sunday: 0 miles

Total 32 miles

I am still extremely tight around my upper quad where it inserts into the hip and the side of the hip which then travels up my lower back. I would love to figure out how to calm these muscles down, but I guess it will take time. I don't seem to be hurting anything by running, but the area around my hip joint sure is stiff.

Last week, I wrote this after watching other runners finish a 5 miles race.
 I watched the 5 mile racers finish. They descend down a hill from a winding trail onto the finishing roadway where they make a quick turn on the pavement to the finishing chute. As I watched, I realized I don't or can't run with that reckless abandon anymore. There is no sprint.  There are no quick corners. There are only carefully measured out and humble footsteps
Today I saw this video of an 65 year old Kenyan grandmother. Kenyans sure know how to run, but when do you ever get to see an older female Kenyan run? Watch her loose stride as she runs downhill. All of a sudden this harmless elderly looking Kenyan woman can move like an youngster. I need some of that! First we saw the emergence of the Kenyan male runners on the world scene, then the female runners. Wait until we find out what the older Kenyan runners are capable of doing.

Here is the full video on this lady. Another interesting thing is that her right foot points out the same way my left foot does, probably even more so, but she can still move.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Exercising Ghosts

Ghosts from the past: running in 1980 with my college teammates.
Well, last week I thought that things were starting to go my way for a change, unfortunately this week was the complete opposite. I went against my better-laid plans of the past few months and did too much, too soon. By the middle of this week, I was at the point of just giving up for good. I know what I want to get out of my running and I am just not getting there, no matter how much energy and thought I put into it. I would think that 95% of the people placed in my shoes would have given up long time ago or chosen another sport or hobby or maybe just have resigned themselves to sitting around the house watching television and hobbling back and forth to the refrigerator (it is tempting).

I keep asking myself, why do I keep trying to get back to being a competitive runner? It is at those times that I remember why I love to run. It certainly has nothing to do with talent, speed, or some quest to win races (or age-groups these days). I just remember the little feelings through the years. It is hard to put in words, but it is like little ghostly images that remind my of some simple ingrained pleasures from years ago. When I run, I do not picture myself as a 53 year runner lumbering stiff-legged down the road as I do now, I still envision myself with the legs and heart and lungs of my much younger self. Running to me is going shirtless and sockless on a steamy summer day, wearing nothing but some thin nylon shorts and a pair of well worn Nike LDVs with my thin longish hair being being blown back and bouncing behind me as I stride alongside the blue oceans of Vinyard Sound. Running is a long group run with high school or college teammates, the chatter, the feeling out of each others strengths, upping the pace, and sometimes on a good day a long 2-3 mile sprint back to school with a couple of other antsy runners running faster, it seems, then we would later have the energy to put into that weekend's race. I know-not smart- but the surge of power when you are running at your best tempo alongside other inspired teammates, well that is running! Running is, when I became smarter about training, pushing a training run out to 2-3 hours, going 20 or more miles, and realizing that whether you are bundled up on a freezing cold day or pushing through a hot summer afternoon that your body can handle any distance thrown at it. Running is a Wednesday night track workout with the speedsters on my running club, flying though intervals on a hot muggy evening and feeling a determined effort in your legs and lungs, pausing for a short bit, then doing the interval again and again until it seems your bones turn floppy with exhaustion, but your spirits soar, because you have hung on to some faster younger guys pace far longer than you should have. These are memories that I don't want to give up.

I remember an essay Personal Record: Shirtless Days written by Rachel Toor in the March issue of Running Times back in 2010 that captured my feelings perfectly: how could a female writer write so convincingly about the young male distance runner and his thoughts as he gets old?
When he runs he becomes that floppy-haired loose-limbed boy again. When he is in motion, he celebrates himself in all the ways that words fail, especially on hot days when he glides shirtless through summer streets, unselfconscious, unaware, wearing nothing but side-split shorts and the pride and pain of making himself run as hard and as far and as fast as he can.
Yeah, that is the ghost that keeps haunting me. I want to be that runner again...well except I'll keep my shirt on! Unfortunately, Rachel points out another truth about us runners who are just trying to hang on to what we once knew so well.
He fears--but will not admit--that at some point he may no longer be able to run. He knows that he will continue to slow, to be felled by injuries from a lifetime of doing his body little good. He knows that time is not on his side.
It is then and now that I sometimes admit those feelings and say to myself, "Really, what are you trying to accomplish? Just stop the madness."

Uta Pippig with my daughter Emily
at the 1988 Falmouth Road Race.
I have been reading the book Running With the Legends: Training and Racing Insights from 21 Great Runners and was reading the chapter on three-time Boston Marathon Champion Uta Pippig, Her coach, boyfriend, and later husband Dieter Hogen, once a promising 1500 meter runner whose career was cut short by injury, said that the injury formed the philosophy of his coaching, "If you make a big mistake, then it is over, and it never comes back. You have just this one body, and you can't change parts." I am sure Dieter was talking about elite world class runners, but what if he is right about the rest of us? 

Katie McCafferty
The current August 2012 issue of Running Times is a real good issue with the articles on Kenyan runners and Don Kardong's advice to our Olympic Marathon team. There is also an article by Linda Flanagan called "Decoding the Signals." She writes about the confusion that runners face when they have to decide whether to "listen to their bodies" or to the "no pain-no gain" platitudes. That is where I am. Do I go easy and not push things or do I force the issue and do everything I can to get my running back on track. She mentions a Georgetown runner Katie McCafferty who pushed through pain to keep doing the racing she wanted despite the "painful throb in her hip and lower abdomen." Upon reading these words I knew exactly what was going to be wrong with Katie. Sure enough, she had a torn labrum in her hip. The article said she is still recovering a year after her surgery. Well, the end of this month marks the one year anniversary of my surgery. While at first it seemed I was going to have one of the easiest recoveries in the annals of labral tear patients  (I did 8 miles less than two months post surgery) the recovery is taking much longer than I hoped for and expected. It certainly looks like it will take more than a year for me, too!

So, I guess I must still go on! Two weeks ago, I did 28 miles including three 8 miles runs. I thought I was getting somewhere. The 8 milers may have been my mistake. I had been working on building up slowly and then with the slightest hint of success, I started pushing things too far!

This week I did 20 miles which is quite an achievement when I realize how bad things were at the beginning of the week. After running a 5k race on Monday, I watched the 5 mile racers finish. They descend down a hill from a winding trail onto the finishing roadway where they make a quick turn on the pavement to the finishing chute. As I watched, I realized I don't or can't run with that reckless abandon anymore. There is no sprint.  There are no quick corners. There are only carefully measured out and humble footsteps. As I watched former training and racing partners dash to the finish, it dawned on me that I am not that kind of runner anymore.

Monday: 3 miles As I said, I did the Mine Falls Trail 5K for the second week in a row, however I hadn't recovered from the hard 8 miler the day before. I also put on the Donjoy S.E.R.F. strap too tight. I couldn't warm up as I was limping on my left hip, but raced anyway. My coordination was off due to the strap and I was exhausted from the previous day's run. I ran 15 seconds faster than the previous week, but I should have been in better shape. Put it this way, I am running almost 5 minutes slower than two years ago when I was dealing with my bad hip and, well, the last two weeks an 8 year old boy has finished right in front of me in the 5k races. So is my goal for the year to get just a bit faster in order to beat an 8 year old runner?
Tuesday: exhausted and sore-no run
Wednesday: back and hip is off - about the worst it has been in a long time- no run.
Thursday: 2 miles: thought I felt OK and went for an 8 miler, but my muscles were all stiff from stretching to get out of pain the previous day, had to stop and walk home.
Friday: 5 miles slow
Saturday: 5 miles slower - I did not use the S.E.R.F. strap on Saturday and Sunday
Sunday 5 miles again- maybe this is a good distance- With a mile to go I saw a runner ahead and decided to pick up my slow pace and catch up. I saw it was a lady, then I saw that she was a somewhat overweight lady jogger (although running smoothly and at a good pace). I couldn't get fast enough to pass her before my street so I added a 1/4 mile so I could run her down (sad-I know) and took another road back to my house. I did go faster for the workout despite the additional blocks then I had run on the previous two days.

So I guess I am still in the running game, although my targets are now to pass an 8 year old kid and attempting to outrun overweight joggers! All in all I salvaged 20 miles for the week. Not once during those miles did I feel like that "floppy haired, loose limbed boy." Pardon me, I've still have some ghosts I have to catch up with.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The world's worst hurdler

Maybe I will take up hurdling. I don't think I would be any worse than this Chinese athlete.

...or maybe not, as you can't expect the officials to always set up the hurdles correctly even if you know how to get over them!

"At the 2011 Region IV track meet in Anchorage, AK, a terrible mistake was made when the officials setup before the Boys 110m finals. The 6th hurdle was placed on a Girls 100m hurdle mark, putting it several meters closer than it should have been."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

From Minutes to Mileage

I finally have some running mileage to report. I had started up running again a month ago after stopping at the end of February, but I had been only marking my progress by the number of minutes I had been running. I was only doing laps around the neighborhood. Then I started using the S.E.R.F. Strap at the end of last week. Sunday I did a 5 mile route, rather than laps, and then Monday I decided to jump into the  Mine Falls Trail 5k to start the weeks mileage with an unplanned and slow race. 

Monday: 3 miles Mine Falls 5K race
Tuesday: 2 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles (first 8 miler since the end of February)
Thursday: 0 miles running- 8 miles on the mountain bike
Friday: 8 miles  (4 minutes faster than Wednesday)
Saturday: 0 miles 
Sunday: 8 miles (3 1/2 minutes faster than Friday)
Total miles this week: 29 miles

I'll take that! I only expected I would do 15-20 miles at the beginning of the week and would have been happy with that. The strap seems to keep the inside of my hip-adductors from pinching which allows me to run pain-free. My stride isn't entirely smooth, but I get to points where it feels like I am rolling along and to run without pain is great. Both feet feel like they spend equal time on the ground instead of the left side feeling slower as it has for years. I feel real good after each 8 miler, but at nighttime my muscles around my hip tie up a bit and it takes about 24 hours to feel good again. Saturday and today I felt increasingly worse after Friday's 8 miler. I had a hard time sleeping Saturday night as the pinching was coming back. I did not think I would run on Sunday at all, but it started to loosen up on its own by mid-afternoon and I unpacked my inversion table and hung for a few minutes on that to see if would help me decompress. I did not go fully inverted but only about half-way so I was still supported by the table not knowing how my hip would take this. As soon as I got off the table, all the tenseness in my hip and glutes was gone and I decided that I would run and was out the door in about 10 minutes. It is nice starting to run road miles again.