Running, Biking, Triathlons, Swimming, Snowshoeing; what's next? Sal's does it all.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Stuck in a Tube

A week ago (February 3) the Physician Assistant at the University of Rochester Medical Center examined my knee. She grabbed my knee and bent it in several directions, thought it had atrophied some compared to my right knee and was still a bit swollen. The injury to my left knee happened on 12/23 when I fell about 50 yards from completing a four mile run.

The PA looked at the x-ray and found some calcium deposits above the knee cap. There was no way to know if these were from the injury or had been building up for some time. She scheduled me for an MRI, hoping to find what else, if anything, might be wrong with the knee. It didn't seem like there were any ACL or meniscus tears and maybe the calcium is the only problem, that, recovering from a possible sprain, and being as old as dirt.

The PA said to absolutely stop any attempt at running :( . I could swim, but not push off the wall with my left knee, bike, but easy and stop trying to stand and pedal. Basically if it hurt I wasn't supposed to do it. Sitting at my work desk is actually pretty uncomfortable, but I couldn't get out of that for weeks so I just get up and walk around a lot. 

Yesterday (2/11) I went in for the MRI. One great thing about the URMC is their efficiency. If you have a 7:30 appointment you are in within a couple of minutes. I wish other places had such great customer service. Thinking I may have to expose my knee I wore running shorts and sweat pants. After weeks of not running it felt nice wearing running shorts again. That may sound weird, but it's true. An assistant took me back to the MRI area and had me change into a regulation robe, the kind that ties near the neck and shows everything in the back. I could keep my underwear on, in this case running shorts so it didn't bother me if people could see my backside.

The MRI technician put me on a table with my feet headed into the tube. I was only going in up to my chest, which was a relief. Closed spaces like that do not make me feel comfortable.
The technician gave me an emergency button, said the test would take about 20 minutes and left the room. That's when I panicked and the inner voice began; "What if I have to go to the bathroom? I didn't even think about going before the test! Oh God. I'm going to have to squeeze the panic button and announce I have to pee! No, act like an adult and hold it dammit. Twenty minutes, you can wait 20 minutes." Finally I calmed down and realized that maybe I didn't have to pee. I was so happy I made the decision not to have coffee before the exam.

The machine noise was weird and loud. The earplugs really didn't help much. But the digital clock above my head counting down was like doing intervals. The Tech would say, "this will take 2 minutes, or 6 minutes, with rest intervals in-between. So I would close my eyes and count or pretend I was doing laps in a pool. The test was over fairly quickly really, and off I went, happy my whole body wasn't stuck in the tube.

Now it's just waiting for the surgeon to decide what steps to take next. Unfortunately I don't see him for two weeks, so it's back to the weight room, pool and indoor biking for me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Marathon Olympic Trial Predictions

In an earlier blog I wrote about Runner's World predicting the top two likely finishers in Saturday's Olympic trial race (NBC, 1pm EST, also live streaming).

For the women they have Shalane Flanagan winning, Desiree Linden second (10th at Boston 2015, second in 2011, second at 2012 trials) and then a race between eight other women for the third spot. The favored contenders include; Deena Kastor (now 42, but a three-time qualifier and bronze medalist), Kara Goucher (two half-marathons last year in 1:11, but now 37), Sara Hall (wife of Olympian Ryan Hall) and Lauren Kleppin, who isn't a household name but ran a 2:28:48 at the L.A. marathon last year.

It's hard to know who's totally healthy, can take the heat of Los Angeles, and won't let nerves get to them, but I'm going with Shalane, Desiree and Kellyn Taylor (2:28pr, another relative unknown runner at the elite level).

A bit unbelievable, but the favored male is 40 year old Meb Keflezighi, winner of NYC 2009 and Boston 2014 who has a 2:08pr. Unbelievable because it seems we should have someone besides forty-year old Meb as the top contender. It was nice to read a short piece on Jeffrey Eggleston, from Rochester, NY who ran a 1:02 half-marathon in 2015 (Houston) and won the Chicago half-marathon in July on a windy day in 1:05. Jeff is listed with 8-1 odds of making the team.

I'm going with Meb, Dathan Ritzenhein (same as Runner's World) and Eggleston as the surprise third place finisher. I have to support the local runner.

Updated Runner's World Review

For the past week I've been reading the March 2016 Runner's World magazine. I still believe most of the magazine is made for people with short attention spans, those who like their news in quick sound bytes. However, the Editor-in-Chief addressed this issue in an essay on the differences between Running Times and Runner's World and how they are trying to meld the two magazines together to appeal to all types of runners.

The March issue has nice coverage of the U.S. marathon Olympic trials with predictions on who will finish in the top three for men and women. It seems most of the time someone runs the race of their life and either wins or places in the top three and makes the team, someone totally unexpected. 1984 saw one of those races, with Pete Pfitzinger taking the win and John Tuttle finishing third, both fine runners but not expected to be true contenders. Alberto Salazar, the race favorite came in second, but world class runners like Bill Rodgers, Greg Meyers, Tony Sandoval failed to make the team.

I also like the article on some of the "average" trials competitors, men and women who beat the qualifying times of 2:19 for men and 2:45 for females in the marathon. These are some of the people who are balancing work, families and running at a national or world class level. They have interesting stories to tell and reasons why they are racing even if finishing in the top three isn't likely.

Maybe Runner's World will be able to find a balance between the "fun" only runner and age-groupers and national/world class runners.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Roberta Gibb

This is a link to a short story on Roberta Gibb, the first female finisher of the Boston Marathon, in 1966. It's a really quick read and gives perspective on how far women have come regarding running in the past few decades. The article was written by Amby Burfoot, a Boston Marathon winner and longtime journalist.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Race Travels

Friends of this blog recently traveled around the U.S. and while on vacation had the opportunity to run races.

The Katz team of Joanne and Lou flew all the way to Hawaii to run the Harold Chapson 8K on January 17th. Maybe they had other reasons to travel to Hawaii instead of staying in the cold Northeast, like Mai Tai's, beaches, hiking and sandy beaches, but they did also race. The race course description says it is moderately hilly, which I guess is true if you run up part of Diamond Head. 

Two other friends, Mike and Eileen, ran the Charleston 13.1 mile race. They both ran stellar times and rumors have it that Mike took the post-race honors in his age group of eating the most shrimp and grits. Mike finished 7th/19 in his age group and Eileen was 3/20.

Is Serious Age Group Running Dead?

For years I subscribed to Running Times magazine. They called themselves "The Authoritative Voice for the Dedicated Runner". It always had great training ideas for age group and high school runners who wanted to improve their race times. Running Times profiled outstanding masters aged runners each month, describing their struggles, successes and some of their training leading up to a big race. 

In the past few years Running Times began a high school section to add to the magazine's depth. They would have articles on teams, high-profile meets and training meant specifically for that age group.

Often there would be research based training articles or articles on marathon racing, half-marathons, and other distances. Not just finishing the race on the least amount of training possible, or as many people seem to do now, no training at all, but trying to run fast. The editor, Jonathan Beverly, wrote some great introductory articles throughout his time at the helm, really insightful things on running.

A few years ago Running Times was bought out by Runner's World. I was pretty sure the end was near. The magazine became shorter. The web site changed to look more like Runner's World and eventually they just took over. Last month I got a notice, I could end my subscription and get a full rebate for my remaining three years or a combo deal. I took the combo, getting Runner's World for the next year and then a refund for the rest.

Runner's World is designed for the novice, the non-racer who mainly wants to finish and just say they were part of an event. Times are secondary, if on their horizon at all. Stopping to take selfies during a race for these readers isn't unusual (Disney even offers "selfie" spots during their races so you can stand in line and get a photo during the race with a Character). It's supposed to be a RACE. What has happened?

Fans of Runner's World must have short attention spans. There are no well-researched articles, it's all bits and bytes like reading an entertainment web site. Lots of colors, images, fun-runs, color-me runs, short columns and plenty of advertisements. It's a magazine you read while waiting a few minutes at the doctor's office. There is little in-depth thinking needed to get through it. Runner's World is for extroverts, Running Times was for introverts.

People exercising is a good thing. But what happened to really extending yourself in a race, training for it, looking for a special finish time, the challenge of the event?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ten Great Reasons to Snowshoe!

With the massive east coast snowstorms this past weekend it's time to grab a pair of snowshoes and get outside and enjoy the winter weather.

There are many reasons to snowshoe, here are 10 of my favorites;

1. It's quiet out in the woods, no traffic to worry about, no crowds, just you and the snow.
2. What else are you going to do with the snow? It's here, just stop fighting it and have some fun.
3. Falling in the snow doesn't hurt as much as falling on the road or sidewalk. Usually there is just one Ooomph and then dusting off the snow.
4. Being slow can be blamed on the big shoes and deep snow, not the realities of age and fat.
5. Two miles of snowshoeing counts as five running on the roads.
6. The trails are mother nature's bathroom facilities.
7. It's still a weird, extreme, sport. Who wants to be like the masses? Choose to be different.
8. No need for headphones and music. Just listen to the sounds of the woods and your snowshoes.
9. It's fun to trip cross-country skiers as they glide by (kidding).
10. When you are finished snowshoeing a hot shower feels like heaven.

And one bonus reason - there are times I'm injured and struggling to run but can go out and snowshoe with little/no issue. Maybe my stride is different, maybe it's the slower pace or softer surface, but it  can surprisingly work.