Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I don't know why I didn't do it sooner, but I've added tape to my rest regime.  I started with kinesiotape (the stretchy stuff), and that helped a bit.  This week, I've gone all in with Leukotape that I ordered when my other heel hurt.  I didn't find it helped much then, so I ignored it this time.  Well, it seems that if I tape it as if I have plantar fascitis and achilles tendonitis, it seems to help.  The heel is still tender in the same spots, but the added support is making it so that I'm walking normally again.  This is helping my hip too . . . Grr!!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dave McGillivray on fitness vs. health

I've been buried in work the past few weeks (even we non-lawyers burn the midnight oil sometimes!) and missed the story of longtime Boston Marathon Director Dave McGillivray's recently-discovered heart disease. He is 59 and self-diagnosed a problem when he had trouble catching his breath at the beginning of runs. His story below is worth a read--it especially resonates with me as someone who--despite my fitness--started taking medication for high blood pressure three years ago (at age 33!). And my doctor called the other day to tell me that my cholesterol is about 3 points over "normal." Too bad PT can't solve all problems!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Running resolutions?

Anybody?  Anybody?

A typology of resolutions:

1.  Sheer number of miles (weekly, for the year . . .)
2.  Process oriented (mornings from 6-7 are devoted to running, whether actually running or strengthening to run better or even just meditating on running)
3.  Another sort of outcome -- I will run X races or Y paces
4.  The ceiling resolution:  unlike last year, I will not run further than X or faster than Y
5.  The non-running running resolution:  I won't let work get in the way of my running!
6.  The gear resolution:  every time I think about buying more worthless gear, I will run instead (or the variant:  every time I buy gear I will run an incremental mile for each dollar the gear cost me)
7.  The partner resolution:  I will run more with so-and-so
8.  The blogging resolution: I will blog more about running!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My mini-streak

Five days in Fort Lauderdale and four beach runs and 5K on a treadmill.  Went up to 6.5 miles in every way possible except East which gets wet in a hurry.  Now back in Chicago with temperatures plummeting again.so my last streak of the year may come to a screeching halt but great to end the last full week of the year with a 20 mile plus outdoor week.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Football

P__ and I are spending the last week of the year in the outskirts of Houston, which gives particular relevance to my coincidental reading of Bryan Burrough's The Big Rich.  P__'s extended family descended on the area.  They're an active bunch and yesterday we got going a game of christmas football.  Four players to a side, two-hand touch, three-alligator count, quarterback rotating each play, and five downs to make it across the lawn.

A few memorable plays: A__, the MIT wunderkind computer expert, cutting left and right and somehow breaking free up the middle for a touchdown.  Who runs up the middle in a game of touch?  Who succeeds in so doing?  M__, A's younger brother, who looks a whole lot like Billy Crudup's Steve Prefontaine (Without Limits) but hides his obvious athleticism behind a guitar, finding his true calling as an open field runner.  E__ misunderstanding that the reason for three alligators is that it takes time for a route to be run and throwing a beautiful spiral 10 yards over cousin J__'s head.  My own contributions seemed to be limited to rushing the passer and finding myself on my back with embarrassing frequency.

Eight normally distracted adults remembering what a pleasure it is to yell and to sprint randomly across the grass.  Perhaps that is the meaning of christmas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Physical Therapy -- Second Visit

Gavin video-taped my running.  It was painful to watch.  I don't run, I lumber.  Despite that I keep an erect posture, which I accomplish by arching my lower back.  Tight hip-flexors mean my lower back arches even further with each stride in order to achieve any follow-through.  My feet kick sideways to clear the ground because I don't kick off enough with my feet and calves.  My hips dip by greater than 10 degrees side-to-side.  I spend a long time in the air between foot-strikes.  And my stride is really slow.

Current drill:  run 4 x 3' at 170 strikes/minute and 2' at my "normal" stride.  By the end of the series it is painful -- literally -- to return to the normal stride.  I see the treadmill shake as I land on it.  My knees and ankles hurt as I land with the longer, slower stride.  In contrast, the 170 strikes per minute running is light, easy, lovely.

I don't know how long it will take to internalize this particular change and I don't think the fight is nearly over, but so far this week has been a remarkable exercise in learning how to run.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Caper 10K

This morning I joined my original running buddy J__, his partner J__, and her sister S__ for a 10K at Hains Point in DC.  The weather was 55 degrees and partly sunny and there was the usual light breeze coming off of the river at the tip of Hains Point.

Same race, different year with cooler weather!
As of several years ago the Park Service has closed the Hains Point cross street to racing, so this race -- which used to be two trips around the three-mile Hains Point loop -- involved twice out-and-back around the point and halfway back on the opposite side before turning.  That made it fun as I saw J, J, and S three times as we crossed paths.

I showed up planning to run with J__.  Somewhere we got our signals crossed and I was running alone.  I noticed the race leaders were not miles off the front immediately so I moved up in the pack slightly to get a closer look.  After about a mile I found myself running third and held that position until the half-way point turn-around, when a college-age woman passed me like I was standing still.  She easily held on for third overall, but two more runners passed me in the last mile, as I suffered the embarrassment of having paced really badly.  

Upside of getting older?  6th place was good enough for first in the 40-49 age group.  I won a supersize Peppermint Bark candy bar!  As much fun as this was I may be looking for a 5K next weekend in the outskirts of Houston.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Finally a Break in the Weather

After seemingly endless days of sub zero wind chills, blowing snows or both, I woke to mid 30s without a lot of wind and a few hours before the rains were due.  So I tore myself away from grading and did an easy 10K in the north half of Lincoln Park.  Really nice to get away from the treads and indoor tracks but frigid temps due in a day or two so no streaks will be possible.  No photos either since I can't get them to copy from my phone for some reason.  Take my word for it, very picturesque between the pure white snow, clear skies, good views of downtown and a hint of sun rising over the lake.

Carla Convery -- Thought I'd Share This

I went to the Potomac Valley Track Club website to sign up for the Christmas Caper 10K this Saturday.  This obituary was on the front page.  One more moment of amazement at never before having heard of somebody so extraordinary.

We mourn the death of Carla Cesarina Bonfanti Convery, a long-time resident of the Mount Vernon area and former owner of Mike's Italian American Restaurant, passed away at her home on November 20, 2013, at the age of 93.

She was born March 7, 1920 in Como, Italy, to Maria Begalli Bonfanti and Mario Bonfanti. On March 9, 1947, she married William F. Convery in Cividale, Italy. She moved to the United States in 1947 and in 1952 became a U.S. citizen.

Throughout her life, Carla was an avid runner and athlete. In 1936, she qualified as second runner-up for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. One of her greatest thrills was meeting Jesse Owens and watching him run. In 1940, she qualified for the Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, which was cancelled because of World War II.

In 1971, Carla and her two sons purchased Mike's Italian American Restaurant and in 1975, sold the restaurant and retired. Five years later, she renewed her involvement in track & field events in the Washington DC area.

In 1983, she became an original member of Hollin Hall Senior Center, where she taught exercise classes for 26 years and served on the Advisory Council as secretary and treasurer. She was an active volunteer at Hollin Hall Senior Center, Gum Springs Senior Center, and Mount Vernon Adult Day Care Center.

As a senior citizen, she participated and accumulated awards in many competitions; World Games, Senior Olympics, Golden Age Games, Senior Nationals, Virginia Commonwealth Games, National Senior Games, and Potomac Valley Track Club's masters track, to name a few.
CarlaShe received Potomac Valley Track Club Ray Gordon Outstanding Athlete Award, Commonwealth of Virginia Female Athlete of the Year Award, and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Life Time Achievement Award.

Her husband, William F. Convery Sr. died in 1962. Carla is survived by her two sons, William "Bill" (Nancy) Convery and John Daniel "Danny" (Lois) Convery; five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and her close friend, Kate DeAngelis.

Family will receive friends on Sunday, November 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Demaine Funeral Home, 520 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. A Funeral Mass will be held on Monday, November 25 at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Louis Catholic Church, 2907 Popkins Lane, Alexandria, VA 22306. Interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, tributes may be made to Northern Virginia Senior Olympics, P.O. Box 2089, Merrifield, VA 22116 or to Potomac Valley Track Club, c/o Peter Blank, Treasurer, 8200 Galahad Court, Annandale, VA 22003.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Physical Therapy

I signed up for 8 sessions at Fast Track Physical Therapy in Falls Church, Virginia.  This is the outfit that DC-area hardman Michael Wardian used to recover from a recent injury.  I noted when I was there that they've also worked with C__, a Northern Virginia guy I've done some cycling with who just set an age group record at the Ironman World Championships in October.  All a way of saying this place seems to have its head on straight.

Gavin took me through a 360 degree strength and flexibility analysis.  I'm not very flexible, it turns out, and I'm asymmetrically weak.  My right leg is weaker laterally than my left and my gluteus maximus (butt) is weaker than my hamstrings.  This is all consistent with the right knee's suffering uniquely and that knee-cap's drifting outward.  He sent me home with stretches for my hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves, and said running up to 20 miles/week is fine.  The next visit entails a stride analysis where I assume Gavin will identify what I'm doing that led to the inflammation.

My immediate reaction is mixed.  On the one hand Gavin did a very good job of seeing exactly where limitations lay and targeting places where I needed improvement.  On the other hand Gavin's analysis seemed to be subject to confirmation bias.  Everything we did supported a theory he had hatched pretty early on in the meeting.  It could well be that he hit the nail on the head, but it might also be that the subjective assessments of how hard I resisted his pushing my leg down were influenced by a priori beliefs.  I lean strongly toward giving Gavin and Fast Track the benefit of the doubt, and I suppose time -- and not too much of it, either, as this course of therapy is supposed to expire by the end of January -- will tell.

Probably this is as good a time as any to note that Ted's 13-day streak is in no jeopardy of being broken, by me at least.  I made it low single digits before concluding that riding a bike one day seemed a lot more fun!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The weather outside is . . .

News reports and pictures of great snow in Chicago and coming to New York.  Here's hoping for one of the Spencer/Ted running photojournals and reports of steamy breath, crunchy steps, and downy flakes.  Because the only thing better than a good running photojournal must be the compiling of it.

UPDATE:  It's nasty here.  I managed about eight, coming in draped in icicles!  Would not have been weather to record by camera even if I was good at doing that.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Streak is at 2

Ted has me thinking "streak!" and so today for the first time since September I ran the second day in a row.  This was an easy 5.6 miles out Nebraska to Massachusetts, west on Mass. past AU Washington College of Law (one of four law colleges branded "Washington" of which I am aware -- are there others?), northeast on Western Avenue -- the Maryland side of the street! -- to Chevy Chase Circle, and back to the start via Chevy Chase Parkway.  The knee has never really acted up while running, so it means little to report it didn't today.  Last night it did keep me awake for a while.  I'm swallowing the idea that this may be the new normal.  And in lack of a good shorter-term goal I'm considering an attempt to play Cal Ripken to Ted's Lou Gehrig . . .


Okay, so as the running streak ends, I should at least note that I've made progress in one respect.  I mentioned earlier that I've been taking a swim class. The theory was that unlike running and biking, where improvements are likely to be marginal, with swimming there was some real room for improvement.  Or, to put it another way, I was pretty sure I was doing it wrong.  Well, last night was the last class, so we compared our time for an "all out" 200 to the time we swam at the beginning of the class.  I improved from 3:42-3:21.  This is nothing to write home about, but I can see places where it would improve further.  My kick is still a mess.  I'm still balancing cadence and glide.  There's plenty more to do, but it's not nothin'.  On the other hand, this also emphasizes the conundrum of the swim in tri. Ten seconds per hundred is a big improvement.  It adds up to 2.5 minutes in an actual race . . . That's not nuthin' either, but it's within the race to race variation for the other events . . . I guess the hope is that get to the point where I stay with the pack, feel comfortable drafting, etc. there will be some synergies.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Big dreams

Today at a work retreat, we did an ice breaker where everyone says what they would do if they won the lottery.

My answer: Buy an Alter-G treadmill (http://www.alterg.com/) and employ an at-the-ready physical therapist. 


Lucky Seven

I've spent a good two months either not running or not really running and the time has come to get moving again.  Today I ran seven.  It felt great.

Streak Ending?

Okay, so I made it through Day 13 of the running streak by heading out at 10:00 last night for a short, slow 1.5 miles through the neighborhood.  It was a beautiful run, with lots of pop-up Christmas tree lots, busy restaurants and a quiet, empty, Cobble Hill Park.  I kept it slow, and felt fine during the run when I got home.  This morning, I ran to the gym, and didn't feel particulary tight, but when I got on the bike, I couldn't stand in the pedals.  That has never happened before and is a bad sign.  I think it may be time to forget about the "streak" and take a rest day or several . . .

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Running Streak

Somewhat at the instigation of my friends at the South Brooklyn Running Club, and partially due to a particularly run friendly Thanksgiving day weekend on Martha's Vineyard, I am currently, and accidentally, on Day 10 of the Runner's World Holiday Run Streak.  There are a number of reasons why this is counterintuitive. First, I have been boycotting Runner's World since they put George W. Bush on the cover half a dozen or so years ago.  Second, given my nagging and persistent heel injury, running every day without rest would seem to be contraindicated.

As I mentioned, the streak started accidentally.  I found myself on Martha's Vineyard for the holiday without a swim or bike option, so Thanksgiving morning, I went out for a very slow run toward the beach.  I focussed on form, and kept my pace in the 12-13 minute mile zone.  Afterwards I felt no pain, and my hips and hamstrings felt better than they have in a while.  The next day I tried it again, this time actually making it to the beach, to snap a few pics.  Again, no pain.  So, by day 3, it was a mini-streak.

Since then, I've managed to keep it up, though on a couple of occasions, I've only run a mile.  Indeed today, it was 1.1 miles on the treadmill, after a spin-class.  The real question is whether this is helping or hurting the various inflammations in my heel.  Mostly, it seems to be helping, so long as I add a couple of extra rules to the streak: (1) go slow (12 minute miles mostly, no faster than 10); (2) concentrate on form (midfoot stride, short stride, quick cadence, lift knees); (3) moderate to short distance (no more than 5-6 miles, usually much shorter).

I don't know if I'll make it to New Years.  I have some heavy duty traveling coming up, but I'll report back.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

And the first nomination for the 2013 Blawgie is...

2013 is already a banner year for this wonderful little group chat about running and kvetching about injuries and bad race logistics.  We already have more posts than in any of our prior three years.  But it is time to recognize the best posts of the year.  So I would like to begin with a shout out and nomination to Phil Marsden for his running in Ethiopia post with pictures.  Awesome stuff.

But he is not alone.  Nominate your favorite posts even if they are your own and the ones that get the most favorable comments will be the 2013 Blawgie winners.  You can even create categories.  Phil's would be travel obviously.  Creativity counts for both the posts and the categories.  Perhaps next year we can have actual statuettes, awards like pictured below, or bronzed miniature running shoes for the winners.