Thursday, November 29, 2012

Seems to be the cool thing to do...my favorite running shoes

Sneaker Report's list of The 100 Best Running Shoes of All Time has recently been making the rounds across the Twitter-verse, and several people have been weighing in with their opinions on the list, as well as their own personal favorites. Definitely some interesting choices on that list...some I'd agree with, and plenty I most certainly would not agree with, but hey, that's part of the fun of making your own list, right? Pete Larson just posted his list, so I figured, what the hey, I'll play.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Race Report: Philadelphia Marathon 2012


As some of you may know, I spent yesterday in Philly running the marathon (and if you don't know and are here via Google search looking for a course description, skip down a few paragraphs past the fluff...I'll get there). This is the second marathon I've done, and the first that wasn't a complete disaster (brought on by being the first 88 degree day of the spring and terrible pacing for my first marathon). Not somewhere I really expected to be given where I was last year at this time, but my friend Molly, who agreed to coach me, was convinced that my body would be better able to handle the high mileage and long tempos of marathon training than the fast intervals and tight turns of the track at this stage in the game, and considering her propensity for coming back from her own injuries faster than before, I figured I'd listen. So at some point in August, it became time to stop messing around and actually begin marathon training (which meant taking a week off first, but downtime is pretty necessary, you know). And now, about three months and nearly 1300 miles later, here's what I have to show.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Progress, Thanks, Hope

I have been relatively fortunate in that since 1999, I've only really suffered two running-related injuries, despite doing a boatload of stupid stuff, including, but not limited to, jumping from 30 mpw to 70 mpw freshman year, wearing shoes for 2000+ miles before replacing them, pacing 38 miles of Leadville off of 5K training, covering 45 miles of a 24 hour race also off of 5K training (which is where injury #1 came from), etc. However, the second injury, a tendon torn suddenly during a track workout during the summer of '10, was a doozy. Two years ago, I was in the midst of going from doctor to doctor, desperately searching for one who would tell me something other than "Your running is over." A year and a half ago, I finally found a podiatrist willing to operate. Nothing was guaranteed, as few things in life are, but he told me that he'd do what he could to at least allow me to do a bit of jogging pain-free. On 8/1/11, nearly a year after the original injury, I went under the knife. On 9/19/11, I began physical therapy, which originally consisted of nothing but range of motion exercises, because I was pretty much completely unable to move my foot. One year ago tomorrow, on 10/5/11, without telling my physical therapist (do as I say, not as I do!), I went for a "run," which was what I approximated to be about a tenth of a mile, probably at no faster than 15 minute per mile pace. When I got to the bottom of the "hill" in front of the house I was renting (which is less than a 1% grade), I turned around and walked back up, because I didn't have the strength to toe-off to get back up the hill. I was overjoyed to be able to "run," but was filled with uncertainty that I'd ever be "back," fears that haunted me for months and months during the time that I had dubbed my "comeback."

A year later, I've just finished off a 108 mile week, which was my fifth consecutive 100+ mile week and the last week before my taper for the Philly Marathon. My comeback's not done...not by a long shot. I still have places to go and goals to accomplish. But it's huge progress for which I'm infinitely grateful.

So I want to thank all of you who have supported me in any way through these past two years. They've been some of the most trying years of my life, and I appreciate all of you who have stuck with me and encouraged me through my journey back to running. Thank you. It would have been a lonely and most likely impossible road without you.

Finally, I want to offer some hope. It saddens me to know that there are people who still have yet to encounter that one doctor who will finally help, and that there are some who never will, whether because of insurance limitations, or their spirit finally being crushed, or some other reason. Keep fighting.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Other Sandy Victims

With the ING New York City Marathon being cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, I have seen comments that recreation such as the marathon is inappropriate in the aftermath of Sandy. However, it's not recreation for elite athletes; it's their job. They've already put in their months and months of work, and now they won't see a paycheck for it (and even if NYRR gives them an appearance fee, they'll still only see a fraction of what they may have been counting on). Plus, some may see decreased salaries or appearance money for 2013 because they were banking on having a fast marathon time from 2012. These people only have two or three opportunities to be paid per year. If you did your job faithfully for months, then are told you wouldn't be receiving over half of your 2012 salary and that you'd be taking a pay cut for 2013, you'd be incensed. Toni Reavis states that running is a sport taken up by the top 20%, a figure I find hard to believe. Running is not golf, tennis, or triathlon, all sports which require expensive equipment and are dominated by rich nations. Running is a sport that is often used by Africans to escape poverty, and is a sport in which most elites are living at or below the poverty line. By cancelling their day to work, we have taken away something far more important than "recreation."

And if it's truly about "perceived recreation," then why are the Giants and Knicks continuing to play? I understand that they take up less resources from the city, but they still do require money, food, and blocked roads from spectators, and it is clear that there is an inequality present, where some people are allowed to do their job and others are not. It's admirable that Heat player Dwyane Wade will be donating money to Sandy victims, but you also have to remember that he is in a financial position to do that. Professional runners do not make the kind of money that professional football and basketball players do, and while missing one paycheck for someone making millions may not be a big deal, missing one paycheck for someone who only receives two or three per year can be devastating. Most professional runners are barely making enough money to support themselves, and any opportunity they had to contribute financially may be gone. From Sports Illustrated: "Abdi Abdirahman, a Somalia-born American and four time U.S. Olympian, was planning to donate $10 per mile he ran to Sandy relief, and to ask everyone he knew to do the same, and also to ask his corporate sponsors to contribute. 'Now I can't do that,' he said."

I am not from New York City, and will not speculate as to whether not diverting resources from the marathon is worth the loss of economy, donations, and charity that the marathon would have generated. I trust that the right decision was made by Mayor Bloomberg and NYRR to do what is best for the city. (Though I do believe the call should have been made far earlier, so athletes could have attempted to recoup travel money, and also because hotel rooms being used by runners who already made it into the city aren't doing much good for displaced Sandy victims). However, as I mourn for the city's residents whose futures are in question, I also mourn for the elite athletes who have been thrust into a questionable future of their own. In doing so, we have created a new set of victims, left devastated in Sandy's wake.
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