Thursday, July 30, 2009

What to do with all those old shoes?

Funny timing on this one.

I spent last weekend going through a couple of items I had had in storage for awhile. One bag (my high school-branded duffel bag, by the way) contained some interesting items: old running shoes.

To be more specific, it contained my high school spikes and waffle racing flats and my college training flats and spikes.

You should cue Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" here while I explain how much the high school spikes mean to me. I had a lot of great victories in those shoes including state championship races. So I imagine I will keep them forever.

The college shoes are a different story. I was injured throughout my college 'career' and don't hold many fond running-related memories (although I had a blast helping officiate at U of MN meets!)

Perhaps more indicative of my college athletic days were the other items in that bag: the molds made from my feet when the team had orthotics made for me, along with a couple of different types of orthotics. Why the doctor gave me the molds escapes me. Why I kept them is perhaps the greater mystery.

So why do I keep these things? I don't know. But it seems as though I'm not the only one. In fact, I might be unusual in that I've only kept a few pairs of shoes.

Read this article from today's edition of The New York Times to hear about another runner's shoe collection. (It's a short written introduction and then audio - click on "Nicole Hunt, 39.")

I promise I'll post photos of my shoe collection ASAP. How many old pairs of shoes have you kept strictly for nostalgia purposes?

Northland Runner website

I just received a link to the Northland Runner website. Although it's been up since 2005, I had never heard of it before. (Thanks to Chris Fuller at The Sporting Life for letting me know about it.)

The site's developers are compiling information about running and racing in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.

There are some interesting blogs, detailed race information, results, photos and even a Runner of the Month feature.

It's definitely worth clicking on the link and checking out the website.

Healing injured tendons with your own blood or plasma?

Gina Kolata, a columnist for The New York Times, was torn (pun intended) between her dual roles as medical reporter and avid runner when she injured her hamstring on a run last March.

The medical reporter had doubts about a controversial new treatment for injured tendons in which doctors inject either your own blood, or a concentrated version of your own blood called protein-rich plasma (PRP), into your injured tendon to speed healing. (She had read about professional athletes' use of PRP in this article in The New York Times last February.)

However, when push came to shove, the runner in her won out and, earlier this month, she had blood from her arm injected into her hamstring. Read about her experience and her recovery thus far in her NYT column, Personal Best.

Women will appreciate the fact that Kolata describes the procedure as feeling "like menstrual cramps, but in a different place."

Hey, whatever works to get you back out the door running, right?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Coolest running-related statue ever

This past March I took a 'spring training' and work-related trip to Savannah, GA, one of my favorite travel destinations.

In my 10 days there I had a couple of great long runs along the ocean at Tybee Island, ran a fun 5K in historic downtown Savannah (March of Dimes Shamrock Run) and I also tracked down a small lake (Lake Mayer) right in Savannah with a great pedestrian path all around it.

The evening after my race, I drove to Lake Mayer, ran four loops around the lake and was doing a short walking cool down when I first noticed a sign along the path. (Yes, I had run past it on each of my laps and no, I hadn't noticed it before. This keen attention to detail also might explain why I never pursued a career as a roving reporter.)

The sign said "Julie Backus Smith Trail." I made a mental note to try to find out who Julie is/was when I returned to my hotel room and my trusty laptop.

But it was just then I saw the other thing I had missed every lap around the lake.

The coolest running-related statue I have ever seen.

It was a sculpture of Julie, who, as I later ascertained, had died in December 2003. She is described as a community activist and marathoner.

Apparently Lake Mayer was one of her favorite training grounds.

What really struck me about this bronze statue is how life-like it is. The details in things like facial expression, muscles and clothing are just amazing. Plus it was placed on a ramp and it is meant to be approached from both sides by children and adults, according to the this article at

My mind immediately raced to how we should have this type of memorial in Minnesota. There's a long list of possible honorees, but my first thought was, Ron Daws. How cool would it be to have a great statue of the late 1968 Olympic Marathoner along a popular running path in Minnesota?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New 10K this Saturday in Wabasha

The Riverboat Days festival in Wabasha (Saturday, July 25, 2009) has added a 10K race to their schedule. The schedule already included a 5K run and a 5K fitness walk.

Part of the race course takes participants along the Mississippi River. Race day registration starts at 6:45 a.m.

For more information about Riverboat Days click on the calendar link on the home page of the Wabasha Chamber of Commerce website.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nine Team USA MN athletes competing this weekend

Team USA MN athletes will be competing at various events from here to London this weekend. Details on who will run where are available in this news release from Team USA Minnesota.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Gopher track & field athletes to be inducted into "M" Club Hall of Fame

This September two former Golden Gopher track & field standouts will be among a class of eight athletes inducted into the University of Minnesota Athletics Department "M" Club Hall of Fame. The following was excerpted from the U of M news release:

Lori (Townsend) Monaghan–Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
A four-time track NCAA All-American, Lori (Townsend) Monaghan remains one of the best distance runners in Golden Gopher history.

Monaghan captured national acclaim three times in the 5,000 meters, twice at the NCAA Indoor Championships (1994, 1996) and once at the NCAA Outdoor Championships (1995). She added one All-America citation in the indoor 3,000 meters in 1995.

Monaghan finished her Gopher career with school records in all three events and still ranks third in each of those events today. She also competed in cross country, where she collected All-NCAA Region accolades four times.

Not only was Monaghan a star runner, she was also a star in the classroom, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors four times. Finishing her career at Minnesota, Monaghan was named Minnesota Senior Athlete of the Year in 1995-96.

After college she went on to work for a design firm for 13 years. She now lives in New Jersey with her husband, Bruce, and two daughters, Grace & Elizabeth.

Jack DeField–Men’s Track & Field
During the early 1940s no Golden Gopher pole vaulter was more dominant than Jack DeField.

Twice he captured NCAA titles for the pole vault, doing so in 1942 and 1943, making him one of two Gopher trackmen who have won two or more track and field NCAA titles. In fact, he and Bob Finch were the first Gopher track athletes to ever earn All-America honors, doing so in 1942. DeField was a three-time Big Ten outdoor champion in the pole vault and won the Big Ten indoor title in 1942.

With all his success, DeField became Minnesota’s captain in 1942, leading the team to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

After leaving Minnesota, DeField won the pole vault with a mark of 14-0 at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships. In 2002, DeField was inducted into the Minnesota USATF Hall of Fame.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Japanese marathon pioneer retires at age 81

I really love this story from the BBC.

Eighty-one-year-old Keizo Yamada of Japan, after completing three marathons already this year, has decided to retire from competive running.

Besides running the Tokyo marathon this year, he ran Boston for the 19th time. (He won that race in 1953.) Yamada competed in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.

But this just might be the best part. Although he's retiring from competition, he's going to continue to jog more than 12 miles per day "for fun to stay in shape."

Did I mention he's 81?

Go Yamada!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

New running blog series in NYT

First in a new series in The New York Times, "The Roving Runner" blog is an interesting concept. There's nice description in this article; I almost felt as though I was running with the author. I'm looking forward to subsequent offerings.

Rock for Broc II benefit

Cindy Brochman, a lifelong athlete and member of the Minnesota running (and cross country skiing, triathlon, snowshoe racing & volleyball) community for the past two decades, was diagnosed with stomach cancer 7 months ago. (I took the photo at left of Brochman at last month's Rock for Broc One Mile Fundraising Challenge.)

Brochman's co-workers at Best Buy and Accenture are hosting a fundraiser to help defray some of the cost for her treatment at An Oasis of Healing in Mesa, AZ. This treatment center combines alternative healing with some traditional treatments. Cindy arrived in Mesa on Wednesday, July 15 and plans to be there for six weeks.

The benefit will be Monday, July 27, 2009 from 6-10:00 p.m. at The View restaurant in the Calhoun Beach Club on the northwest side of Lake Calhoun in south Minneapolis.

There will be a $30 charge at the door. Raffle tickets will be available for sale with great prizes including:
– a guitar
– Sony Playstation
– massage gift certificate
– jewelry
– & much more!

Rock for Broc merchandise (pictured above) will be available for purchase:
–T-shirts for $15
–Wrist bands for $5
–Buttons for $3
–Key chains for $5

There will be live music by Eddy and Gnu plus drink and appetizer specials.

The event organizers are still looking for donations of prizes for the raffle drawings. If you can help, or know of someone who can, please contact Kelly Kosin at Best Buy:

To receive the latest updates from Cindy as she continues her fight, sign up to receive updates at her caringbridge site.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Increased protein intake = better training, recovery & energy

I've had a good week so far.

The New York Times has published two different articles this week supporting theories I've had regarding different aspects of my running and training. I'll have more on the second article in a later post but this one was a first-person account from NYT's food writer Mark Bittman.

He's training for the New York City Marathon and, as he increased his weekly mileage, he started experiencing lower energy during runs and general fatigue after. He consulted with a doctor, started keeping a food log and quickly saw great results by simply adding more protein to his diet.

I wrote about this same positive effect in my own running in a May 2007 TJ's Turf column. Again, just as Bittman says, individual results may vary. Only you can determine where your threshold is but for me, I probably doubled the amount of protein I had been getting and felt much better in very short order.

I'd love to hear your stories about protein and running. Comment here or email me:

Duluth-area couple injured in two different bicycling accidents

I seem to be out of the loop on news. I just read this story in the Duluth News-Tribune tonight (thanks to a link in the MiniSkinny newsletter) about Proctor residents and endurance athletes Jeanne & Greg Fleck.

I don't believe I've ever met Greg but Jeanne and I ran some races together for the now-defunct Runners' Edge team a few years ago. I had not heard about their bike accidents.

Yes, I said accidents. Sounds like they either have the worst luck or the best luck, depending on whether you're a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person.

I think many could understand Jeanne's first instinct not to want to get on her bike again after her accident. But good for her (and the encouragement of her husband) for getting back out there.

It seems they're both doing well now and, in fact, Jeanne has some big goals for the coming year.

Here's wishing them both the best of luck in their pursuits and, most importantly, smooth biking.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2007 Carleton grad is true cross-country runner

Quick - what were you doing when you were 24 years old?

If you can't remember, it may be that you weren't doing anything memorable. Or it may be that you were having too much fun and those brain cells are forever gone.

Either way, I'm betting you weren't doing what 2007 Carleton College grad Katie Visco is doing right now.

This young woman is attempting to become the youngest female ever to run across the U.S. (3,200 miles!) Although I just heard about Visco's journey today, she actually started in Boston on March 29 and, by running 18-20 miles per day for 6 days/week, hopes to finish in San Diego in December. Good grief.

Along the way she's trying to raise $32,000 for Girls on the Run, a nationwide program founded by Molly Barker to encourage young women to run and to build self-respect through the sport.

Her journey thus far is captured in today's Chicago Tribune.

Follow Visco's journey on her web site

Monday, July 13, 2009

MDRA unveils updated website

The Minnesota Distance Running Association unveiled a newly-updated website last week filled with tons of information about the Minnesota running community.

USATF-MN summer track meets

USATF-MN has posted the schedule for a series of four track meets to be held throughout the metro this summer. Each meet includes a variety of events (both track and field) and is open to all. Entry forms, dates and locations are available on the USATF-MN website.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Strength in numbers

I had the privilege of taking part in an amazing event last week, the Rock for Broc One Mile Fundraising Challenge. The event was a series of one-mile races on the track at Macalester College. It was organized by Mercy Ray & Pam Weier, Run n Fun women's racing team teammates of the event's honoroee, Cindy Brochman.

Ray & Weier did an amazing job, start to finish. They recruited an astonishing number of volunteers, secured a timing crew and announcing crew, solicited countless items for raffles and drawings and were genial hosts throughout the evening.

But the most remarkable part of the event last week was not the incredible show of community support through volunteers, donations, participants and spectators (although those were all out of this world.)

The most remarkable thing was Brochman herself.

The event was a fundraiser for local standout athlete Brochman (runner, cross country skier, triathlete, volleyball player, snowshoe racer - I know I always forget something).

Since December 2008 she has been locked in a fierce battle against stomach cancer. While conventional medicine has deemed Brochman 'terminal,' no one, especially not Brochman and her family, are taking that lying down.

She has been seeking guidance in her fight from a number of sources - beyond even the loving support of untold numbers of family, friends and even some strangers! She's very eloquently sharing her journey and all the ups and downs of this awful disease through her caringbridge journal.

In some of her dealings with alternative medicine practitioners she has mentioned that they told her she had a very strong body. Many of us know of people who have overcome incredible odds in life based on three factors: positive attitude, fighting spirit and the fact that they are athletes. (Lance Armstrong anyone?)

I had a couple of different people come up to me (I was the bossy woman down on the track) to ask me to point out Brochman to them. At least two people said, are you sure? She doesn't look sick. Look at her legs!

And yes, she did look amazing. Her legs are the strong legs of a lifelong athlete. She just looked great. But it wasn't until the last participant had crossed the finish line, we had cleaned up our finish chute and many of the people had gone home, that I finally had a chance to talk to Brochman.

She had mentioned a few times in her journal over the months that she wanted and needed hugs. I was eager to comply but had to patiently wait my turn all evening as there were always groups of people around Brochman. Ray & Weier should have sold tickets for hugs. Now that would have been a huge fundraiser!

After we hugged she grabbed onto my wrist while we talked. I was struck by the strength of that simple gesture. She didn't let go and I was just thinking, 'This woman is sick? She feels stronger than I do!'

It's that strength that is going to get her through this awful fight. She'll also continue to be cheered on with the strength of her amazing family, friends and entire support network. We're all sending her positive vibes and healing thoughts.

The strengh at the track last week was palpable. And, thankfully, the biggest part of it was coming from Brochman herself.

Where you at Rock for Broc? Did you feel the strength?

Tri for Life

There was a bittersweet story in the Minneapolis StarTribune today. Three surviving brothers of a 20-year-old heart donor are going to be competing with three of the children of the 50-year-old heart transplant recipient in tomorrow's Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minnesota.

The description of the first meeting between the two families was poignant. The visual of the donor's mother coming up to the recipient, hugging him and then putting her head to his chest to feel and hear her son's heart beating, brought me to tears. Amazing story.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gopher runner candidate for prestigious national award

Ladia Albertson-Junkans, a University of Minnesota cross country and track athlete, is the Big Ten Conference’s nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

According to a University of Minnesota Athletics Department news release, "Each Big Ten institution names a nominee for the award to the Big Ten, which then determines the student-athlete who is the most deserving candidate for the Conference to support as the Award moves to the national level to compete against the nominees from the various divisions of the NCAA."

Read all the details in this release.

Epilepsy, lobectomy = elite world ultra-runner?

Diane Van Deren's story is nothing short of amazing. In this well-written article in The New York Times, Van Deren tells her story of overcoming epilepsy by having a small part of her brain removed. The epilepsy is gone, but many side effects of the surgery have left her with new challenges she is learning to overcome.

Elite athlete without a coach

Interesting Q&A from The New York Times about elite marathoner Hendrick Ramaala of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Grandma's Marathon 2010 registration

Although it feels like the 2009 Grandma's just happened - wait, it did - registration opens for 2010 on July 13. For the first time ever the event is offering an early-bird discount ($10 off if you register by Sept. 7). The race is Saturday, June 19, 2010.

More information is available on the Grandma's Marathon website.

My guess is that this is in response to the fact that Grandma's did not fill this year. We'll see if getting a super-early start on registration helps their 2010 numbers.