Friday, November 28, 2014

Good Form is Not Natural

Running is simple.  You lace up your shoes, walk out the door, and do it.  You grew up knowing how, so it feels natural.  But it hurts.  Injuries crop up, not just sore muscles, plantar fascitis, knee pain, heel pain . . . We've all been there.  We rest. We heal. We go back to what we were doing before.

Swimming has taught me not to trust my natural kinesthetic instincts.  After years of windmilling and dragging my legs, I took a bunch of lessons and a very few key changes to my approach changed everything.  In particular, changing the timing gave me a more powerful pull, a longer glide, better position in the water, and a generally more efficient stroke.  It didn't feel natural at all, and I'm still working out the kinks but changes that felt unnatural helped.

The same thing has happened with my running.  As often discussed, I joined the midfoot revolution a few years ago in response to pain in my right heel.  I started working on leaning forward, and landing on my toes.  That took a while, but eventually it felt natural.  I got faster.  Until, it started to hurt -- this time left heel.  As I have been returning to form in the last year, I'm realizing that even what felt natural then was not ideal.  I was protecting my left hip.  I'm not sure from what, probably just old habit.

It turns out that maintaining good running form, for me at least, requires a lot of thought: (1) fully shift weight to the left side; (2) land on the midfoot; (3) push off from the ball of the foot; (4) lean forward; (5) allow hips to roll a bit (don't hold them level);  (6) engage glutes; (7) increase cadence . . . There it is. . . Oops, lost it. Found it. Lost it. Going too fast . . . Damn! Okay, there it is . . .

Thanksgiving Run

Missed all the Turkey Trots this year, but still had a run to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Partial Body Sacrifice

As we were lining up of the NYC Marathon a few weeks ago, the South Brooklyn Running Club "phalanx" were chatting, we all engaged in some reverse trash talking -- fishing for encouragement.  We would talk down our individual aspirations and then one of the group would offer reassurance.  As I questioned my ability to maintain 9:00 miles for the full distance, G_ said, "It's all in your head.  Just remember, 'total body sacrifice.'"  "Sure," I thought, "that's okay if you're 26 and super fit.  For me, some of it is in my legs, some of it is gathered around my middle and the stuff on my head keeps changing color . . . . 'Partial body sacrifice' is more my speed."  That thought went through my head again as I let the phalanx pull away on the Queensborough Bridge.  I am sure I could have stayed with them going up the bridge, but it didn't seem like the right thing to do at the time.

Three weeks later, I'm liking my choice.  Instead of feeling beat up, I'm feeling fit.  Instead of worrying about lurking injuries, I'm watching my form continue to improve.  I'm not sure what my next goals are, but I think it may be a fun winter of running.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

John Doar

This lawyer's civil rights and Watergate record is well known.  Did anybody know that he represented Eastman Kodak in the suit by Berkey Photo?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Announcing the Creation of the FIMC

Today we announce the creation of the FIMC.  Like all international sports bodies this has a fancy French name -- La Federation Internationale du Marathones de la Concurrence (in English International Federation of Antitrust Marathons).

Its sole purpose to select the sites for the future antitrust marathons to ensure the best opportunities for antitrust scholars and distance runners to contemplate the enduring issues of international competition and run the most interesting marathons.

The goal is to have potential sites bid to host the 6th antitrust marathon and beyond with the best package of benefits (and inducements) for the participants and organizers.  Why should we give this away since in the words of convicted ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagoyovich "This thing is (bleeping) golden."

If anyone has mad art skills we could use a fancy logo.  In terms of a motto I propose:

"Twice the brains and integrity of FIFA"

In its first decision the governing board of FIMC (pronounced Fee-Mac) has announced that Budapest is the first site to be considered as a finalist for the 2016 antitrust marathon.

Let the games begin.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Marathon Golf

In the NY Marathon, G__, C and M__ set out to run 9:00 flat for 26.2 miles. So, theoretically, did I but that's a different story (see below).   M made it with ten seconds to spare. G__ finished 8 seconds behind him.  If the goal is to finish first, M__ won.  But what if the goal were to finish according to plan?  Then G__ won.  Should there be a sport of Marathon Golf, where the goal is to pick a plan and stick to it?  The goal would not be speed, but accuracy.  The challenge would be, well, that Marathons are long and have a lot of variables.

One problem with this competition, is that the all time victor in this competition will be our friend Ca___ (not to be confused with C__), who has already broken the metaphoric "4 Minute Mile" of the sport.   She ran the 2013 Boston Marathon without a watch, and calmly churned out each 5K in almost exactly 24 minutes, with all of her mile splits within a 10 second range. . .   Thoughts? 

Monday, November 3, 2014

NYC Marathon Race Report -- That was fun!!

Succeed or fail, marathons are always awesome -- lots of training, expectations, anxiety, followed by reality and assessment.  Marathons are not always fun.  Yesterday was fun!  It did not start out looking like it would be fun.  Cold temperatures, high wind, and the famously long wait on Staten Island for the start. Also, I did not have high expectations.  As anybody who reads this blog knows, I have been fighting injuries since April 2013, and only recently got to a point where my heel and hip would handle long runs.  If you had asked me in August if I'd start the NYC Marathon in November, I'd have placed the odds at 40-60 against.  I only really started training in August, which is about 6 weeks late, and with remarkably little running base.

So, here's why it was fun. First, my expectations were modest. I did not think I'd be able to break 4 hours, but I hoped to come close. . .  Second, and mostly, I had company!!  It turned out that a bunch of friends from the SBRC (G_, D_, C_ and I) all had similar numbers -- Blue, Wave 2, Corral A.   M__ hereafter to be referred to as Super M_, had just run a BQ in Boston, and was, um tapering, for the Knickerbocker 60K in a few weeks.  He proposed to run 9 minute miles, as a group, start to finish, bringing it in under 4 hours.  So, Third, I had a plan.  My goal was not to stick with them the whole way (though it was perhaps my hope), but I knew I could get to mile 16, and bring it home from there.   Past experience suggested that this would bring me in at a little bit over 4 hours.  I've run at a 9 minute pace before, but it has always involved running a lot of 8:30s and then slowing.  Also, I hate the Queensboro Bridge.  It is steep, cold, and hits just as your legs are beginning to object. . .

Anyway, the race went according to plan.  The five of us ran through Brooklyn in a phalanx. We restrained M_ when he took off.  They restrained me when I got frisky (a lot).  It was a blast.  we talked, we got cheers as a group, and from friends along the way.  Big shout out to V_ who watched at Mile 8.  We were running through our own turf, and as we crossed from Fort Green to Clinton Hill, we hit the SBRC cheer station, and, well, that was just plain awesome!!  D_ faded at about mile 11.  We hit the half, spot on a 9 minute pace.  The bridges in the late middle of the NYC marathon are a much larger source of its brutality than the storied hills of Central Park.  The half is part way up the Pulaski Bridge, and then it's bridge after bridge, approach, on ramp, off ramp, approach, on ramp off ramp repeat. . .  Pulaski, Queensborough, Willis Avenue, Fifth Avenue . . . Oy!! The mother of all annoying bridges is the Queensborough.  It is steep, long and cold.  I ran it twice in training, in the hope of moderating its effects, but, well, it was my (expected) undoing.  As we hit the bridge, my buddies maintained pace and I maintained heart rate.  The two approaches did not work, and the rubber band snapped.  Who knows if I should have pushed it a bit harder up the hill to stay with them.  I didn't feel like I had it at the time, so I let them go.  In the process, I lost a gear, slowing to 9:30s along First Ave.

That said, I felt fine, so I just kept riding the crowd, up First Ave, through the Bronx, and back down.  I hit 20 miles at 3:02. That pretty much sealed it for going under 4 hours, unless I could reignite the 9 minute miles.  Not happening, didn't worry about it. A few minutes later I came up behind another friend A_ who had started with us, but dashed off ahead.  We chatted for a bit, and I drifted forward.  My legs were tired, so I walked a few of the water stations. This turned out to be great, as my form came back each time I did.  Miles 21-24 are always a bit of a slog, but there's nothing like the feeling, at around mile 24, when the road in the Park tips down and you start down Cat hill.  That, for me, marks the beginning of the home stretch.  I was pretty much on cruise control, so I just took it all in for the next 20 minutes, enjoying the end of the race in a way I never have.  My finish 4:04.35 (ish) was pretty much what I'd expected/hoped for, and the weather had finally taken a turn for the better.  The wind was down and the sun was out, so my walk to pick up my bag was pleasant.  I didn't have the usual cramping in my legs, so, once I was wrapped in mylar, I was a happy guy, and even happier after going to the pub for a celebratory beer.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Moment of Truth -- Carb Load Edition

So tomorrow is the NYC Marathon.  Considering where I was back in March, and even in August, I couldn't have asked for a smoother September and October.  I started training this year with the least base ever.  I'd hardly been running from September through March, and had gone gold turkey from December.  The Brooklyn Marathon was a harsh reality check, and reminder of how far I had to go to climb back into Marathon shape.  Things started to turn around at the end of July, with a long bike ride, and a few long runs.  A solid week of running on Cape Cod in early August, and suddenly, long runs did not seem out of the question.  So here I am.  I've banged out 3 20 mile training runs, ran a fair to middling half marathon, and didn't hurt myself during the taper.  This week, my short runs have felt smooth and comfortable. I'm not in the best shape of my career, but at least I'm injury free.  A group of us are going to set out at a 9 minute pace.  This seems reasonable.  I ran 8:30s ish for the half a few weeks ago, and averaged a similar pace last week when we ran the last 10 miles of the course. I should be able to hold it most of the way, and then after about mile 16, it's anybody's guess.  I don't think this will be fast enough to bring me in under 4 hours, but it should be fun.  The big enemies tomorrow are going to be the cold and the wind.  It's going to be in the low 40s with a head or cross wind most of the way.  For anybody who's going to be on the course, here's what I'm planning to wear.  Wish me luck!

Marathon Opening Ceremonies

Okay, I never do this sort of thing, but yesterday evening was the Marathon opening ceremonies.  The kick off involved a "parade of nations", followed by fireworks.  The first "nation" highlighted was the City of New York, as represented by its running clubs, so, well, I agreed to represent.  It was fun, and also the worlds' shortest parade ever.  The entire route consisted of the length of the finish line grandstand.  Still, it was a great photo-op, including a rapprochement between rival running clubs.

 And, as a personal first, I made the news!!

That was followed by an evening of barbecue and sides at Blue Smoke with Vicki.  Now it's time to focus on the carbs!!

Not all good news

Racing against Ted tomorrow will be the ageless Meb and astounding Kara as well as the favorites, Geoffrey Mutai and Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia.  Deba is a perennial second-place finisher with a sub-2:20 PB. 

Not entered is the greatest women's marathoner currently at her racing peak, the Carfrae to Radcliffe's Newby-Fraser -- though Kenya's Rita Jeptoo was slated to make an appearance to receive a cool half-mil. for her top performance in the "marathon majors."  That is on hold, and if the tests are accurate, the analogy will be Armstrong to Radcliffe's Eddie Merckx.  It turns out this year's Boston and Chicago champion, with a sub-2:19 PB course record in Boston, has a recent positive drug test which her agent appears to acknowledge as accurate (backup tests not necessary; "This is true.").