Friday, November 8, 2013

Running in the News... Five for Friday

This was a fun week in running news.
  • Find out what it's really like to be an ultramarathoner and what motivated Alex Nemet to complete seven races of 100 miles (or more) in just six months.
  • A documentary about the amazing Girls on Run organization (Chicago chapter) won an Emmy.
  • A Boston Marathon bombing victim gets to wear her favorite high heels again!
  • Plus a couple of studies on exercise.

Alex Nemet of Cleveland calls his ultramarathon races “unbelievable therapy sessions.”

His story is told in "Ultramarathon Runner Embraces Physical and Mental Challenge."

But pushing his body and his mind to their limits, tearing himself down to the core, is what Nemet craves. It is in this state that he finds emotional healing.

[Please click link above to read the entire article.]

I have a remarkable young cousin who is smart, funny, kind and athletic. She's currently a college student and cross country runner. I need to send this article ("How Intense Study May Harm Our Workouts") to her and see if she's experienced the phenomenon explored in this study.

Tire your brain and your body may follow, a remarkable new study of mental fatigue finds. Strenuous mental exertion may lessen endurance and lead to shortened workouts, even if, in strict physiological terms, your body still has plenty of energy reserves.


In simpler terms, exercise simply feels harder when your brain is tired, so you quit earlier, although objectively, your muscles are still somewhat fresh.

[Please click link above to read the entire article.]

Sarah Moshman and Dana Michelle Cook, owners of Heartfelt Productions, won an Emmy [Outstanding Achievement for Human Interest Programming - Program/Special/Series/Feature/Segment (Award to the Producer/Host/Reporter)] at this month's 55th Annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards Ceremony.

Their film "Growing Up Strong: Girls on the Run," showcases the Chicago Chapter of Girls on the Run.

This short documentary shines a spotlight on Girls on the Run – Chicago, a non-profit program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. Girls on the Run – Chicago serves over 6,000 girls annually through their after school initiatives. The documentary follows the experiences of these girls as they prepare for a 5K event at Soldier Field.

This headline says it all: "Marathon bomb victim gets new leg for high heels."

Heather Abbott rarely wore flats before she became one of the many people to lose a leg in the Boston Marathon bombings. She calls herself a "professional heel-wearer" and preferred heels that reached the towering height of 4 inches.              

On Thursday, she showed off a new prosthetic that will help her reclaim a little bit of her personal style: a "high-definition" realistic silicone leg that can be worn with high heels.

[Please click link above to read the entire article.]

And then there's this gem:

"Exercise in a Pill? The Search Continues."

Ummm.... No thanks. I'll continue to sweat and work my heart and lungs the old-fashioned way.

Two newly published studies investigate the enticing possibility that we might one day be able to gain the benefits of exercise by downing a pill, rather than by actually sweating.

Not all that enticing.

But while some of the research holds out promise for an effective workout pill, there remains the question of whether such a move is wise.


And, again, thanks but no thanks!

[Please click link above to read the entire article.]

Kenyan Distance Domination

Leading up to last weekend's New York City Marathon there was great coverage of the elite athletes, as always. But this year's attention focused heavily on Kenyans, with good reason, as you will read.

This NPR piece – "How One Kenyan Tribe Produces The World's Best Runners," looks specifically at the (relatively small) Kalenjin tribe's domination in world long-distance racing.

Scientists and sports gurus have proposed all sorts of explanations over the years for Kalenjin prowess on the track: from their high-starch diet, to the altitude, to socioeconomics.

All those factors are important, but none of them explain why this particular tribe is so dominant. That left Epstein when he was writing his book exploring a more controversial line of inquiry: Is there something genetically different about the Kalenjin that makes them superior runners?

[Please click on link above to read/listen to entire report.]

This article in The Wall Street Journal – "Tegla Loroupe's '94 NYC Marathon Win Reverberated in Africa: The Kenyan Woman's Victory Inspired Others to Follow Her, and They Have," looks at how the breakthrough 1994 NYC Marathon win for Loroupe, the first African woman to win a major marathon, was just the kick-off to what would become the African women's turn to dominate distance running on an international scale.

Since Loroupe's victory, Kenyan women have won five of the intervening New York marathons and now own six world records in distance running.

This really interesting article explores some of Loroupe's upbringing and the training that led to her '94 victory.

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire story.]

And finally, this Sports Illustrated article – "Wesley Korir running for a cause -- and eventually president of Kenya," examines the political strife and violence in Korir's home country that led to his determination in distance running, and motivates him to help bring about real political change in his country.

"I want to use my life experience of how I moved from poverty to prosperity," he said, "and I want to use the same thing -- education and talent, empowerment, talent development -- to make people really use what they have, what God has given them, to better themselves."


"I always tell people aim for the moon," he said, "you miss it, you land at the stars."

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire story.]

Friday, November 1, 2013

Running in the News...

Five for Friday

Here are five articles I found especially noteworthy from this week's running-related media coverage. Please let me know what you think!

This very interesting article in The New York Times describes a group of runners training for this weekend's New York City Marathon.

Set for Marathon, Ex-Addicts Find Their Way profiles these addict/runners who live, work and train in Coriano, Italy at San Patrignano, one of the largest drug rehabilitation centers in Europe.

“We are broken vases that have been glued together again,” Floriddia said. “But if we can work and live in a healthy environment, we won’t break again.”
Tucked in the northern hills of Italy, San Patrignano is not a typical training ground for marathoners. It has 1,300 residents at its main facility, which doubles as a small farming community. The addicts submit to a four-year rehabilitation program in which they must cultivate their food, clean their rooms and undertake tasks like making cheese, raising pigs and cows, and producing wine.

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire story.]

I enjoyed reading about an extraordinary northern Arizona high school cross country team in this Associated Press article, Hopi High in Ariz. becomes cross-country standout.

The group of boys head out toward the mesa, setting their feet upon dirt trails that are lined with scrub brush and corn fields. It's the same earth that their Hopi ancestors would tread as they ran in prayer for rain, prosperity and all of mankind.
For these boys, the drive is as much about the competitive spirit as the enduring spirit of their culture.    Hopi High School, where they are students, has earned 23 state cross-country titles in a row, and according to its coach, is one of three schools in the country to earn a perfect score at a state meet.    No high school in the nation is as dominant when it comes to winning consecutive championships, and the team wants to make sure the streak continues.

The pressure this team feels is not just for their upcoming regional and state meets, but also from their tribe's long-standing running success.

In the Hopi's story of running glory, there is inspiration that comes from a Hopi man who competed at the 1908 Olympics and earned a silver medal in 1912. The federal government shipped Louis Tewanima off to boarding school, and he rose to become one of Indian Country's most famous athletes, along with fellow Carlisle Indian Industrial School classmate Jim Thorpe. Tewanima's American record in the 10,000 meter race stood for more than 55 years before being broken by Billy Mills, an Oglala Lakota.

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire story.]

One of the best things about this Well/Phys Ed article in The New York Times: The Marathon Runner as Couch Potato, is the writer's use of the phrase "prolonged sedentariness." But there's some other good information as well.

One recent study reported the average American sits for 8 hours per day. But in a study specifically looking at runners currently training for a marathon, the runners self-reported sitting an average of 10 hours a day – 2 hours MORE than the national average.

In effect, the data showed that “time spent exercising does not supplant time spent sitting,” said Harold Kohl, a professor of epidemiology and kinesiology at the University of Texas and senior author of the study. “It seems that people can be simultaneously very active and very sedentary.”

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire article.]

This article, Taper madness: Running withdrawal puts many marathoners on edge, appeared in The Washington Post the week before last month's Marine Corps Marathon, but the sentiment applies to just about any runner in the week or so before their marathon.

It’s as if someone stole your morning coffee, every day for two or three weeks. You might not kill him over it, but you’d consider it. Robbed of their favorite pastime, runners brood about losing fitness, gaining weight, injuring themselves and race day weather, to name just a few of their favorite obsessions.

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire article.]

Speaking of the Marine Corps Marathon, did you hear the organization disqualified the male winner of this year's 10K?

The man, whose name has been removed from the official results list, was from France and won the 6.2-mile race in 32:20 minutes. However, he later admitted he wore a friend’s bib and was not registered for the sold-out event, which drew 10,000 runners. The Marine Corps Marathon now recognizes 25-year-old Stephn Gedron of Massachusetts as the official 10K winner with a time of 33:19.

[Please click on the article link above to read the entire article.]

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cyndi Elias, Kickin' Cancer's Butt

I first read heard about Cyndi Elias last October when I read her story in this "Turning Point" column in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. At that point, she was training for the 2012 NYC Marathon. She was one of the many registered runners who travelled to NYC, only to (almost immediately) hear the marathon had been cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.

Cyndi Elias
Fast forward 6 months and 4-time cancer survivor Elias is again featured in "Turning Point." This time she's training for a new challenge, the Million Dollar Marathon Coast to Coast for Cancer.

According to the Million Dollar Marathon website:

On June 21st, The Million Dollar Marathon will begin it’s 4000 mile relay across America. The Team will be made up of all those that Cancer has touched. Survivors, Caregivers, Advocates, all working together to beat this disease. One marathon at a time, the event will cross 15 states and more than 500 communities as the baton is passed from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

During their journey, team members will run from Mount Rainier to the Great Salt Lake, over the Rockies to the Great Plains, on to the Appalachians and past the Chesapeake Bay. As they run, each day will turn to night and clear skies will fill with storms. Yet through the darkness and rain, their baton will not stop – because these runners know that dawn always follows night and that the darkest storms create the brightest rainbows.

As a member of The Million Dollar Marathon team, [runners] will be dedicating one marathon, one day to the cause. Each day the team will run 4 marathons. In total [participants] will run 160 marathons. During this extraordinary journey, [participants] will take more than l0,000,000 steps. Ten million steps to honor the past and inspire the future. Ten million steps toward a cure.

Elias is hoping to raise $7,500 in pledges. Visit her personal Million Dollar Marathon page for more information.

From Elias fundraising page:

"I’m running the Coast to Coast Marathon for myself, to show cancer that I’m going to keep kicking butt. I’m also running in honor of so many people that I’ve met along this journey, cancer patients who continue to inspire me, and especially those who have lost their battle with this horrible disease. Since we won’t be running through Minnesota, I’m not sure where I’ll run – I think I’ll request the most beautiful, most remote stretch of the course!" — Cyndi Elias

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Upper Midwest Races, Serious about their Series

Yesterday, Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., announced another interesting partnership – the Great Lakes Marathon Series.

The Great Lakes Marathon Series is a collaboration of 25 marathons in the U.S. and Canada that take place along North America’s five Great Lakes.

The group has partnered with the Alliance for the Great Lakes – a four-star rated independent citizens organization devoted to the Great Lakes’ ecosystem and economies – to raise awareness of conservation and restoration efforts.

By partnering with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the series’ goal is to invite the running world to enjoy the unique beauty of the individual races, while simultaneously raising awareness and funds needed to protect all five of the Great Lakes.

Participants will receive awards at various benchmarks throughout the series along with a grand prize after completion of all 25 races, regardless of how many years needed to complete the entire marathon tour. Registration for the Great Lakes Marathon Series itself is available at [above link] and is free to all those interested.

Runners will be required to pay each individual marathon entry fee in order to participate, and signing up for the Great Lakes Marathon Series does not guarantee entry into any race. Also, only participation in races in 2013 and future years will be recognized as part of the Great Lakes Marathon Series.

The first marathon in the series is the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Ohio, on April 28, 2013. Registration is currently available for this race, and registrants who use the promotion code “water” and register before March 31 will receive a $10 discount. The last marathon in the series this year will take place on November 3, at the Hamilton Marathon in Ontario. 

The one notable exception to the list of 25 participating marathons is the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. I emailed Jon Mueller, the new MLM race director for 2013, to ask him about this. As of this posting, I had not yet heard back from him.

The Great Lakes Marathon Series is the second such announcement from Grandma's this year. In January they announced a collaboration with Twin Cities Marathon and the American Birkebeiner to create the Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge.

The Series concept is not entirely new to upper midwest runners. The Upper Midwest Trail Runners, for instance, host a Trail Series with races of varying distances.

Locally-owned Minnesota running store, TC Running Company, hosts the Endless Summer Trail Run Series, with four races at different Twin Cities parks. Race distances from 5K to 7 Miles.

The Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA) hosts a Grand Prix series every year for members. The Grand Prix schedule features races throughout the year including one indoor track meet, a cross country race and numerous road races. With race distances from 1 mile (indoor track and road race) to marathon (Grandma's and TCM), the Series is challenging and fun.

The United States Track & Field Association, Minnesota (USATF-MN) hosts a Team Circuit for its members (who also need to be part of USATF-MN registered teams) every year including road races from 1-mile to the marathon.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Long Run(ning Stories)

I'm a fan of long-form journalism. I've always enjoyed reading well-researched, in-depth articles on topics that matter to me. Recently, two such running-related articles caught my attention.

Tim Danielson
"After the Mile" in The New York Times
Tim Danielson was among an exclusive group of runners who had broken the elusive four-minute barrier. Now he is a runner shackled, charged with killing his ex-wife.
On June 11, 1966, competing at Balboa Stadium, where the San Diego Chargers and the Beatles had performed, Danielson became the second American high school athlete to run a mile under four minutes. It was an achievement so extraordinary that only three prep milers have done it since, running four laps around a track, averaging less than a minute per lap.
(Read the entire story at the link above.)

 "Becoming the All-Terrain Human" in The New York Times Magazine 
Kilian Jornet, who has won dozens of mountain footraces up to 100 miles in length and six world titles in Skyrunning.
Kilian Jornet

Kilian Jornet Burgada is the most dominating endurance athlete of his generation. In just eight years, Jornet has won more than 80 races, claimed some 16 titles and set at least a dozen speed records, many of them in distances that would require the rest of us to purchase an airplane ticket. He has run across entire landmasses­ (Corsica) and mountain ranges (the Pyrenees), nearly without pause. He regularly runs all day eating only wild berries and drinking only from streams. ...

 (Read the rest of the article at the link above.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Luck of the Irish Ladies' Night at TC Running Company

This popped up in my email yesterday. What a fun idea!

Running, shopping, door prizes, massages, food & drinks? What's NOT to like?

And for those of you who like to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day all weekend, this should make for a GREAT kick-off event!

The run will be a fun run suitable for everyone.

Store Manager Kurt Decker says the prizes will include "Lots of cool stuff," including a Nike GPS watch, "many pairs of shoes," and some clothing items. They'll also be giving away free race entries.

For those not quite lucky enough to win shoes or clothing, there will be store discounts all evening!

Massages will be courtesy of Future Concepts Studio + Spa, a mall neighbor of TC Running Company.

For directions to the festivities, see TC Running Company's website.