Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ethiopian Running Documentary: Town of Runners

Here is the trailer for a new documentary on an Ethiopian town that has produced some of the greatest distance runners the world has ever seen: 

Town of Runners is a feature documentary about young runners from Bekoji - an Ethiopian highland town which has produced some of the world's greatest distance athletes, including Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele and Derartu Tulu. 
Watch and share our trailer here, explore the stories behind the film, and follow all our news up to the film's release on April 20th April 2012.

Runners from Bekoji have won 8 Olympic gold medals, broken 10 world records,  and won 32 world championships.  This feature length documentary follows a few young runners from this town in their quest to achieve running greatness. It also looks like it follows female athletes, which is an interesting twist on the African running documentaries that seem to focus more on the male runners. It looks fascinating and I hope it makes it across the ocean someday as it seems like it is playing more in the British Isles. The Town of Runners website has additional information and video clips highlighting the town, the featured runners, and other things like the yearly remaking of the town track.

Town Of Runners Trailer from Met Film Production on Vimeo.

Some of the clips on the trailer reminded me of scenes in the Haile Gebrsalasie movie Endurance (which is finally out on DVD at Amazon), although the parents in this movie seemed more accommodating of their children's desire to be great runners than Halie's father did in that movie.

Update: Here is another athlete from Bekoji who is running the Boston Marathon this year. Askale Tafa Magarsa ran 2:22:23 in Dubai in January, a marathon she won last year. She also was the Paris Marathon winner last year.

While I was in Kenya this summer, one of the most relaxing times that I have ever had was at an Ethiopian restaurant outside Nairobi. We had traditional Ethiopian food.

I am not a coffee drinker. I tried it once in high school and didn't like it, so I never tried it again. However, this young lady was making the coffee for us in front of the restaurant, so I had to give coffee another go. It was good, but it kept me up most of the night!

Standing outside led to lots of conversations with the Ethiopian servers. I talked with this gentleman about the great Ethiopian runners, the history of Ethiopia (it is 2003 on their calendar), and their writing system. He wrote my name out for me and somehow I lost it . He also said that the Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia. I always though we lost it in some USA military warehouse!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hitting ReStart: When in doubt always go back to the feet!

After nearly one month of not feeling right and barely running and just feeling like I was wasting time on Stand By mode, I have hopefully found a Restart point again as well as a new perspective of how long it may take to recover my stride. Last week's mileage was minimal again. After running 3 miles on Sunday, I did the same thing on Monday. I ran 2 miles on the trails, did a lunge matrix and other mobility and stretching moves and then went to run the mile back to my car. The glutes started tightening up again, so I walked it in. I knew deep down what was wrong, but I am trying to do one thing at a time to see what works and doesn't work and at this time the trigger point injections from the previous week did not do much. When things started going south a few weeks back as I was upping the mileage, the glutes were the obvious thing giving me pain, but I also noticed my left foot was pointing  out to the side more and not landing correctly on the ground. In the past couple of weeks I tried everything to fix it: rest, different stretches, mobility exercises, massaging or pressing on tight spots on my lower leg, but nothing would fix the rotation around the ankle joint  or the stressing of the muscles, joints, and fascia going up the left side of my body pulling and pinching.

I then got an another appointment with podiatrist Dr. Howard Dannanberg to have him do adjustments on my lower leg and foot. The last time he did this back in December it helped bring that foot rotation under control. Friday, I went in and had the simple adjustments to my stuck fibula and then to the cuboid bone. It was over quickly, but Dr. Dannanberg knows his stuff and works magic on those bones. I get pretty much instant relief and then it takes a couple of days for the muscle tissues to readjust and finish calming down.

According to Dr. Dannanberg the bones just get stuck and or get out of position. There doesn't seem to be a real stressor that "makes" that happen and not much I can do, except come back when it happens again. He does say that in time it will take more and more time between adjustments until I won't need it done again. It does seem to be the best magic bullet I have to get things back into the best alignment that I can.  I guess next time I notice the glute pain coming on along with the joint and muscle pain, I need to look down and see where my foot is pointing as well as notice that my foot cannot roll on the ground properly, then I need to make a phone call as soon as possible to get those bones manipulated back into position.

I lost a lot of my enthusiasm for getting back into shape as quickly as possible with this setback and realized that I may not be ready for 40-50 mile weeks just yet or trying to get into some sort of racing shape by the summer. I think this is going to take longer than I thought, so I don't want to blow it by being too ambitious. Dr. Dannanberg told me the same thing. I need to tone it down. My bones may be fine, but it takes a long time for the soft tissues to catch up. He thinks I should stick to 20-30 miles per week with runs between 3-5 miles for another six months. This is hard as I think an 8 mile run is a happy run, but I see the sense in being patient even when I don't want to be patient. I need to start cranking the kettlebells more again and take out my TRX and must work on overall strength and fitness instead of jumping into the marathoner mindset.Maybe I can throw a little speed in there too.

I ran 3 miles after my appointment and then finally decided what training shoes to get so that I can do my best running in the next few months. The four shoes I have used running since the operation in July are unusual shoes: the Skechers GoRun, the Altra Instinct, the Hoka One One Bondi B, and a 5 year old pair of extremely worn out Asics HyperSpeeds. Most people might consider my shoe choice quite interesting, but I won't spill the beans just yet. It took a lot of thought and experience of using the different shoes with and without orthotics over the past two months. I got the new shoes on Saturday and ran 4 miles in them on Sunday and am pretty much pleased with my choice!

Total miles for the week: 9 miles

Dr. Dannanberg also told me to try this topical creme on my muscles and joints pre and post run or when my muscles are tight. It is called Motion Medicine and it looks like he is introducing it here in the USA after discovering it Canada. Dr. Dannanberg is a very smart guy who knows his stuff so I am giving it a shot. Strangely enough, when my foot is tweaked to the outside, I get really tight all up my leg and lower back. The night before seeing Dr. Dannanberg, I spent an hour or two not sleeping and using a stick and foam roller on my quads which had somehow tightened up despite not exercising for a few days. I think it is a chain reaction effect from one thing being tight and passing it on upstream as that leg goes out of balance. I haven't used anything on my muscles like this for years (could have used it the night before), so I will be interested in seeing how it works for me. It has a camphor oil smell-so yes, you will get noticed if you use it out in public, and it goes on cool and then is supposed to feel warm. It doesn't overheat if you run with it on. I tried that with a Capsaicin based creme once right before a run many years ago and boy did things heat up to an intolerable level! Never used that stuff again!

Here Dr. Dannanberg explains how he was introduced to Motion Medicine and how it works.

For some additional perspective on injuries, one of my favorite long-running threads on is the "loss of coordination in leg" thread started in 2006. I started chiming in back in 2007 before I even started this blog. It is where I first met other runners with similar problems as mine and we shared all sorts of ideas and information. I first heard of labral tears on this thread. Last week there was a sobering thread by a poster named "tumor". I am TDF on the thread. Tumor talked about the symptoms he had the led to a scary problem:

A couple of years ago I started to develop some scuffing in my left foot. I also found myself tripping while I ran in the trails. I would also find that my big toe would tingle or occasionally go numb. I also had three stress fractures occur in my left shin two years ago. The doctor took an MRI of my lower back two years ago and they felt it was a pinched nerve at L5. 
Fast forward to this past summer I found myself scuffing and an increasing pronounced foot drop. I asked to have another MRI and all looked good. The doctor agreed to take another MRI further up my spine and they found an egg sized tumor in the upper thoracic spinal canal. I went in for surgery to have my tumor removed and thank god it was not cancerous. I was left paralyzed from the waist down and rehab has been going well and there is hope I may be able to walk and possibly run again. My recommendation to anyone with loss of coordination is to make sure you advocate for yourself. The neurosurgeon told me that if I had not pushed for the another MRI of the upper spine I might of had only another month and it would of left me completely paralyzed from the waist down.
Sunday morning, an article on the local newspapers website caught my attention. I realized that I knew who Tumor was. He is a local runner, teacher, and coach and the article tells more about what happened to him. I am very glad Art found the tumor in time and wish him the best on his recovery. You can't complain about your own injuries when someone you know is dealing with so much more.

 I think about how valuable the internet is for runners and other people to share and learn from each other. I know I would be completely retired from running if I didn't' do the diligence to find out what was wrong with my leg and hip.  We also get to meet people with similar problems and offer help and advice to each other in many ways like on message boards. A runner named Sue has written back and forth at times with me before and within hours after my appointment on Friday, I got another email that was just spot on! She is working through problems with the ankle joint like I am and has a similar stride. She mentioned getting foot mobilizations and that she was doing Somatic exercises too! I liked the line she sent, "When in doubt always go back to the feet!" That was perfect after realizing the same thing hours before. She also sent some Somatic foot movements that were simple and just what I needed for exploration, so thanks, Sue! We'll get this thing licked sooner or later!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Just run until you throw up!

What makes Iten, in Kenya''s Rift Valley, the home of champions? Is it the altitude, the genetics, early identification of talent, the lifestyle, or simply the diet of Ugali (it did not taste good to me!)? CNN takes a look at what makes the Kenyan runners so great. Can it simply be the hunger and motivation for success. As one Kenyan athlete said, "Just run until you throw up!"

 Whatever it is just take a look at the Kenyan runners doing some track workouts. I think it is more than just a mindset. Take a look at those bodies move. Is it mightily impressive.
Compilatie CPC from Like2Run on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Great American Footrace

The Great American Footrace is a documentary on the amazing 1928 "Bunion Derby" a footrace across the United States. Back then there was no highway system and roads were poor, so to celebrate the opening of Route 66 the footrace was promoted to gather publicity. Maybe people would realize, "If you could run across the country, certainly you could drive across it without fear." So a promoter who was likened to P.T. Barnum , one Charles. C. Pyle was hired to organize and run this trans-continental race with an advertised winners prize of $25,000.

This documentary highlights the 1928 era with historical video footage and photographs as it tells the tale of this great adventure. It also highlights a 19 year year old Cherokee youth who, "Simply thought he could do it." And he did. I remember reading about this race years ago in a book which may have been this one: The Bunion Derby: Andy Payne and the Great Transcontinental Footrace. There are newer books detailing this race including Bunion Derby: The 1928 Footrace Across America, and Cash and Carry: The Spectacular Rise and Hard Fall of C.C. Pyle, America's First Sports Agent. The DVD or instant stream is on Amazon: Great American Foot Race, however I was able to watch the video online for free here: The Great American Footrace. Snag Films is a website that makes me want to get a Roku Streaming Player so that I can watch other documentaries like this for free on my television rather than on my computer.

Here is a preview of the movie. Click on it to see the whole movie.

 Here is a long biography of one of the participants as printed in Marathon and Beyond Magazine.
Stone lets you feel the misery of surviving on horrible food, sleeping in leaky tents, and running, on average, 40 miles a day over some of the most challenging terrain on the planet. After reading his account, you begin to understand how seemingly normal men could overcome the challenges of transcontinental racing. He gives you a window into the souls of the 55 men who finished the race.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not much!

Not much to report the last two weeks. I stopped running when I felt my left hip getting too tight and sore, my adductors feeling pinched, and my glutes tightening up. That was over 2 1/2 weeks ago. I did some mountain biking, kickbiking, and elliptical to get some work in. I had  to wait two weeks to see the physiatrist to get some trigger point injections again as I could tell the knots were back. After a week off, I tried an 8 miler and that wasn't a good idea and then ran one mile indoors at the YMCA later in the week. That was two weeks ago. Finally on Thursday, I got the trigger point injections. Yes, my glutes had really tightened up. One spot on the side of my hip was like a marble. I also got injections in my IT band and the hamstring muscle next to it. I ran 3 miles today in Mine Falls and felt like a beginner again. I also did a bunch of lunges and stretches at the track at the end of the workout.
Weekly totals:
two weeks ago: 9 miles
last week: 3 miles
It is hard to be smart and take it easy when my mind wants to run, but I will get where I want to be someday.

Here are some old photos I found of the start of the Paul E. White Memorial Road Race held in North Falmouth back in 1978.

I am #64 wearing my Frank Shorter racing gear.
Lots of Nike Elite racing shoes!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

World Champion Kirani James (and his left leg)

The New York Times had an article yesterday: A Young Sprinter's Ups and Downs on the Way to the Top by Christopher Clarey on the 2011 World Champion 400-meter runner Kirani James. He is fast and talented and won his gold medal in Daegu, South Korea at the young age of 18 years old. The article touches on Kirani's life as an athlete from the small Carribean island of Grenada and his life as a full time college student trying to prepare for an Olympic showdown with American's Jeremy Wariner and LeShawn Merritt. It an interesting article on the tall 6' 3" runner who I saw perform at the Boston Indoor Games in February, but what really intrigued me in the article was Kirani talking about his (and his father's) wayward  left foot. Kirani says:

Our hips face inwards so our knees face inwards, and the leg sways outside — just to explain that in a nutshell.

Well, that is exactly how I have been describing my own left leg and hip issues for years. I have something very much in common with Kirani James. Of course, this doesn't explain why he is fast and I am slow! I have always used this as the reason for my poor sprinting ability, but I guess it is just that I am all slow-twitch muscle and Kirani has all the fast-twitch muscle fibers. Anyhow it is interesting to find someone describing a problem that is similar sounding to mine, particularly when that person is a World Champion. I will have to see how this looks on Kirani while he is running, but he goes so fast it is hard to see exactly what his leg is doing. What does Kirani and his coaches say about his left foot and leg? Here is a fuller section from the article:

Several coaches, including Jacques Borlée of Belgium, whose sons compete in the 400, have suggested that James might need to modify his technique if he wants to reach his full potential and avoid injury. They focus on his left foot, which strays outward when it lands.

“The first time I met Kirani he walked over to me from one of his age-group track meets,” Glance said. “Of course the first thing in my mind as a coach is ‘Wow, look at that left foot!’ Well then I realized that that is just the way it is. There’s a cardinal rule: If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. That’s always been my philosophy. I will never forget when Michael Johnson first came on the scene. He had this swayback running style and everyone said: ‘Hey we’ve got to change that. If we change that, he’ll run so much better.”’
“By the end of his story, he’s the fastest 400-meter guy who ever lived,” Glance added.
Johnson’s world record of 43.18 seconds, set in 1999, still looks impregnable. But James, now 19, is already the third-fastest outdoors after his time of 44.36 seconds in Zurich last year and is third-fastest indoors at 44.8.
“Everyone has their opinions, and there is just certain stuff you can’t change,” said James, who said his left-foot issue came from his father’s side of the family. “Our hips face inwards so our knees face inwards, and the leg sways outside — just to explain that in a nutshell. But there are little things that I have to work on, like wrist movement and stuff like that. But to make any significant changes? I don’t think I have to, and I just have to believe in my training and believe in myself and believe in my coaching.”
I hope Kirani James does well in London this summer and has a long and healthy career. I also hope that his foot and leg don't  create problems for him down the line with his hip and mechanics.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh those Kenyan Runners!

Here is a short video showing the heart and depth of Kenyan distance runners called Iten: The Town of Red Dust. In 2011 they tore apart the record books and dominated the world running scene. The shots of the Kenyans training in Iten are marvelous. If you want to see a longer more in depth video of Kenyan runners check out this.

ITEN - The Town of RED Dust Teaser Trailer from Erik O'Neill on Vimeo.

Here is a newly published book: Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Moses Mosop: Can this guy set a Marathon World Record?

Moses Mosop is an interesting runner (please see this video at the end of this post). Actually he is a beast of a runner! You may recall he is the guy who pushed Geoffrey Mutai all the way to the finish line at the 2011 Boston Marathon running the fastest debut marathon in history and the 2nd fastest ever marathon time right behind Mutai. Their shocking times of 2:03:02 and 2:03:06 do not count as official records due to Boston's course). For an encore, Moses hit the track later that spring at the Prefontaine Classic and broke a 30-year old world record for the 30,000m run on a track with a time of 1:26:47.4. He also nabbed the 25,000m word record with a time of 1:12:25.4 en route. Despite fighting injuries from that race, Moses set a new course record at the Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:05:37. That is a faster time than even the late great Sammy Wanjiru could do on the Chicago course. Moses is a legitimate threat to the marathon world record and he says he is healthy and ready to do that at this year's Rotterdam Marathon to be run on April 15. Here is a great video with an interview of Moses Mosop and some excellent training video.

Moses Mosop preparing for Rotterdam Marathon 2012 from Like2Run on Vimeo.

Here is a newly published book: Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Too Aggressive!

I had big dreams last week. It was a vacation week from school and I wanted to up my running mileage, so I came up with a plan to do so. I ended the previous week with two nice 8 mile runs on Saturday and Sunday. They were my two fastest times since my hip operation and they felt pretty good, so I thought that I would be capable of keep doing 8 mile runs for 7 straight days to get to 56 miles total over those days by Friday. I figured I would take Saturday off and then run the final Freeze Your Buns race, It was a great plan and I was really into it. I guess I was too much into it. Mondays run was a bit slower, but my hip was getting sore and I was losing my stride. That was OK, so I did the same run on Tuesday. This time I had lost more of my stride and my glutes got really tight. Too tight. It was then that I got smart and stopped running. The only other run I did all week was Sundays Freeze Your Buns. I was happy to go a wee bit faster than two weeks earlier and I noticed how much my breathing and endurance has improved over the 5 bi-weekly races. I do have a long way to go however, but I am learning to back off and not try to do too much as aggrevating as that is!

Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles
Sunday: 3.2miles Freeze Your Buns 5K 22:42
Total miles 19 miles

Here is this weeks edition of "Running the Show" and highlights include Haile Gebresalasie's bid to make the Ethiopian Olympic team at the Tokyo Marathon as well as the Lake Biwa Marathon in Japan. Both of these races were important for selecting runners for the Japanese Olympic team

Friday, March 2, 2012

Great article: Dorando Pietri and the Olympic Marathon of 1908

The story of Dorando Pietri's Olympic marathon back in 1908 remains one of the classic stories of past Olympics games. In a recent article in The Guardian by Simon Burnton the drama and overall hullabaloo of the first Olympic marathons is wonderfully retold with background information that brings in drama, a bit of comedy, and cheating of, well, Olympic proportions. At the first Olympic Games marathon in Athens in 1896, the third place finisher was disqualified. During the Paris games of 1900, course markings were so poor that "athletes could be seen running randomly through most of central Paris, " More strange occurrences were an American athlete who "finished fifth but insisted that nobody had overtaken him all day" and another American who claimed to be run over by a cyclist as he was gaining on the leaders. In the 1904 Olympic marathon in St. Louis, the first place finisher traveled most of the route in a car. The eventual winner of that race used strychnine as a performance enhancer. That is just a brief introduction to Olympic marathoning prior to the London 1908 games.

Of course, London 1908 was the race that officially determined the full distance of a marathon to be 26 miles 365 yards due to the Queen who wanted her children to see the start of the race and then she herself wanted to have the best seats in order to see the finish. The distance of the race was stretched out to accommodate her whims. The finish line crowd included the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was an interested spectator. Those extra added yards would lead to the eventual undoing of race leader Dorando Pietri. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle later  penned these lines after the arrival of the race leader:
"We are waiting anxiously, eagerly, with long, turbulent swayings and heavings, which mark the impatience of the multitude. Through yonder door he must come. Every eye in the great curved bank of humanity is fixed upon the gap. He must be very near now, speeding down the streets between the lines of shouting people. We can hear the growing murmur. Every eye is on the gap. And then at last he came."

It is definitely worth the read to head over to the article, even if you think you know all about what happens at the finish. A wave of anti-Americanism at the British games created an atmosphere where Pietri "had" to win the race in order to beat the fast approaching 2nd place runner, who just happened to be an American.
With an American victory the only alternative, every man, woman and child in the stadium would have happily picked up Pietri and personally carried him over the line. And that, more or less, is what happened, with the Italian bundled to glory by a posse of Brits.

There is a wonderful collection of 14 photographs from the race which can be found here.

Here is a newly published book on the 1908 Olympic Marathon: Showdown at Shepherd's Bush: The 1908 Olympic Marathon and the Three Runners Who Launched a Sporting Craze.

This video has pictures and some video footage of the 1908 Olympic Marathon including video of Pietri stumbling into the stadium and at the finish. I am not sure what Jim Peters and Abebe Bikila are doing in some of the footage.

 This is all video footage of Pietri and the marathon. I can't understand the audio.

The first song Irving Berlin ever wrote was called "Dorando" about the Olympic runner. You can listen to it here if you are in England. I think "White Christmas" was a much more "mature' song.

I feel-a much-a bad like anything
All the night I nunga canna sleep
It's a my pizon Pasquale
He say we take da car
And see Dorando race a-"Long-a-ship"
Just like the sport, I sell da barbershop
And make da bet Dorando he's a win
Then to Madees-a Square
Pasquale and me go there
And just-a like-a dat, da race begin

Dorando! Dorando!
He run-a, run-a, run-a, run like anything
One-a, two-a hundred times around da ring
I cry, "Please-a nunga stop!"
Just then, Dorando he's a drop!
Goodbye poor old barber shop
It's no fun to lose da mon
When de son-of-a-gun no run
He's a good for not!

[2nd verse:]
Dorando, he's a come around next day
Say, "Gentlemen, I wanna tell-a you
It's a one-a bigga shame
I forgot da man's a-name
Who make me eat da Irish beef-a stew
I ask-a him to give me da spaghett
I know it make me run a-quick-a-quick
But I eat da beef-a stew
And now I tell-a you
Just like da pipps it make me very sick