Sunday, December 28, 2008

USATF reverses stance on headphones

The USA Track & Field (USATF), the national governing body for long distance running, recently reversed their ban on the use of headphones in races.

The ban doesn't apply for those runners "competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money". The ban also still applies for any devices that are capable of receiving communication, so that a coach couldn't give secret instructions to a runner.

As an avid headphones user, I'm extremely happy to hear about this reversal. The USATF focused on the difficulty in enforcement as well as the strong opinions from runners and race directors on both sides.

While the USATF rule change does help, it's still up to the race directors to decide if headphones will be allowed. But my hope is that it will have a lot of sway to stop the insanity and just allow responsible runners to use headphones.

Prior to running the Seacoast Half Marathon, I spoke with the race director. She said that the town police required a ban on headphones in order to allow the race to run through their towns. While I think that rule was probably fueled by the USATF, there is still a likelihood that individual races will decide to ban them.

That said, nice move, USATF. You brought logic back to the roads!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Running and staying motivated through the holidays

As we all tend to have a difficult time staying fit during the holidays, I thought I'd lend my perspective on how I try to get my runs in and keep my sanity (and waistline) during a flood of cookies, cakes, pies and adult beverages.

Quite simply, I try to "earn" my meals or the cookies by running the day of a particularly unhealthy meal. The less healthy I expect the meal to be (and the more I plan to eat) the longer I try to run or the more often I try to run. After hitting the roads when others are sitting at home watching TV, I feel like I'm doing my part to earn an unhealthy meal.

This started when I used to do Weight Watchers. Their points system really worked for me because you could earn more food points by exercising and getting activity points. So, if i got home after work and only had 3 points left but wanted a 6-point meal, I would just go for a 3-point walk (it was all walking at that time) so that I could eat the 6-point meal. It was a great way to earn a less healthy meal by being active.

The "earning" of the meal accomplishes two things. First, it kicks my metabolism into gear, which helps with the burning of the unhealthy meal. But second, it gives me a psychological lift by feeling that I can eat a little unhealthy and still be fine. In my mind, that's the most important part.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Year in review - 52 words or less

While there will of course be a longer end of year review coming in the next couple of weeks, I thought I'd take the invitation from the Runner's Lounge: Take It and Run Thursday. This week's topic: Year in Review in 52 words or less. Two things for the record before I begin. First, this paragraph doesn't count. Second, these short blogs always make me feel like I'm writing haikus. Without further delay, my 2008 year in review:

2008 – best running year so far.

New Orleans marathon – my first. Not very fast but complete.

2 half-marathons. PR’d in one.

Burned 200,000 calories.

Feel strong as an ox and healthy as a horse.

Did something I never thought I could do. Ran 48 Miles in 48 hours. I became an ultramarathoner!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thanks for the votes!

I heard earlier this week that I got second in the Endurance Sports Bar challenge, so that means a $25 gift certificate is coming my way! Thanks so much for voting for me in both challenges.

And of course, thank you Endurance Sports Bar for putting this together!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

200,000 calories burned!

Just 10 months ago, I wrote that I had burned over 100,000 calories by running. I'm now proud to report that I have crossed the 200,000 calorie threshold!

That averages out to about 10,000 calories per month or 2,500 calories per week. In other words, if my diet was 2,500 calories (and I have no idea what it is), then that would be like I didn't eat for an entire day.

Of course, that's not completely accurate because food gives you the fuel to burn your everyday calories, but you get the point.

To put that even more in perspective, that equates to 25 100-calorie Oreo packs. Or, um, 4 Whoppers from Burger King at 670 calories each (not counting the fries).

Either way, that's a nice milestone to celebrate. For those of you who run considerably farther than I do, I'm sure that number is even more ridiculous. Nothing like a big milestone to get me going on a Monday morning!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Progress - 12/12/08 (Depew, OK)

Though I've been keeping the upper-right progress portion of my web site current, I haven't updated you recently on where I am across the country.

I'm now 1,319 miles into my journey as I pass just north of Depew, Oklahoma on Route 44. I've passed through Tulsa and am on my way toward Oklahoma City.

Depew is a small town, a former oil town, and boasts 566 residents. It started back in 1901. The web site gives an unbelievably detailed history for it all happening in 1901. My guess is that Depew gets its visitors through people that travel historic Route 66, as the town is directly on that path.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Movie Review: Run Fatboy Run

While I was procrastinating studying for finals, I decided to pop in Run Fat Boy Run, starring Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton and Hank Azaria.

If you haven't seen it, it's your classic love story. Boy and girl are getting married and girl is pregnant. Girl is much, much more attractive than boy. Boy jilts (there's a 25-cent word) girl at altar. Boy later realizes that he's made a mistake (duh!).

However, now 5 years later, boy is overweight and new boy with old fiance is Hank Azaria, who is pretty fit. Boy decides to run a marathon in order to get the girl back.

SPOILER ALERT. Turn back if you haven't seen the movie and can't guess how it ends. I know, of course you can figure out how it ends.

Now here's what I like about this movie, outside of its comedic points. The reward for finishing a marathon is that you get the girl of your dreams. If that were true in real life, I think everyone would be ridiculously fit and running marathons.

Although, if that were true, there'd be a lot of girls and guys waiting at the finish line and it would probably get really jumbled up at the end. I mean, the finish line is already pretty packed to begin with, and then to have to add the person of your dreams? Geez, that would get a bit unweildy.

That said, and odd tangent notwithstanding, I enjoyed the movie. It moved quick and was well written. It also hit the minimum Hank Azaria quotient that I need in all of my movies, that was important.

Medical news from top and bottom

I finally got to the podiatrist at the end of last week. I had been having problems with the outside of my feet after my 48 Miles in 48 Hours run and near the end of my Seacoast Half Marathon run (though the pain had switched feet for some reason).

The good news is that nothing's broken/fractured, though I pretty much figured that out at this point. I don't have the pain when I run less than 10 miles, but it starts to hurt after that point, even after getting new sneakers. Apparently I have high arches and the makeup of my feet puts pressure on the outside of my feet. What may help: really expensive orthotics. I haven't decided if I'll go that route yet.

I've also been fighting off a bit of a head cold. Lots of people are much sicker (bronchitis is big around here) than me, so I'm not complaining too loud. In fact, I've remained relatively healthy throughout my time at law school. I credit my good diet and frequent physical activity to helping with that. This is really the first cold of any kind in law school, so I've been relatively lucky.

So while Sudafed and other drugs do help, I've found a sure fire way to solve a head cold. Run outside. It's amazing what 15 degree weather can do to clear your head out. As long as I'm outside in that weather, I feel great. I just need to figure out how to keep running continuously for the balance of the winter season.

Ah, running: it cure what ails you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Vote for 48 Miles in 48 Hours on Endurance Sports Bar

The time has come to vote for the two running contests on Endurance Sports Bar, and my 48 Miles in 48 Hours feat is eligible for both categories: improve yourself through endurance sports and help or inspire others through endurance sports!

If you feel it's the best of the group, please vote for it in both categories.

If it helps sway you, I did injure my foot at mile 35 and decided to continue on all the way to the end. Also, and I hate to even mention this, I was able to go into a burning building and save a child and a puppy, all while keeping an 8:30/mile pace. But really, that shouldn't sway you at all.

Voting ends on December 14 at midnight (PST). Thanks in advance!

Make a difference with your race medals

In the October issue of Runner's World, they highlighted a doctor who created a non-profit organization, called Medals4Mettle, to give race medals to critically ill patients. Steven Isenberg started giving his race medals to patients who were struggling with much harder races--the ones for their lives.

Runners can send their medals to this organization along with a legacy form that tells the patient why you're sending it and what it means to you. The organization then delivers the medals.

This struck me as an incredibly interesting concept and it has apparently gotten a great deal of positive feedback from patients. There's nothing like acknowledging that no matter how hard you worked for a 5K, 10K, marathon or whatever that there's someone who is struggling much harder for something much more important.

Dr. Isenberg mentioned that the kids especially like the medals from the Walt Disney Half and full marathons. I heard about some people auctioning them off on eBay after the race last year. This would be an excellent alternative and it would mean a lot to a sick child.

For those of you who just have medals sitting around, it may be a way to get rid of some clutter and do something that people will greatly appreciate.

As for me, I'm going to use my medals closer to home. I've got a number of people who are struggling on their own and I'd rather give them my medals, as it would be more personal.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I grant to thee your wishes three

This year has been full of fulfilled dreams, many of which would have never even crossed my mind as dreams only a few years ago. Five years ago, I never would have dreamed that I'd run a marathon, much less an ultramarathon. Those just weren't things that even crossed my mind as possible. As I sit here today, both of these things have both become dreams and been fulfilled.

I've got three running dreams, the first being one that never ever crossed my mind until after the 48 Miles in 48 Hours weekend-long run.

My first 100-mile run

I never grow tired of reading and hearing stories about ultramarathoners. In fact, I read an entire book dedicated to it, Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon, and I read Dean Karnazes's book, The Ultramarathon Man. These stories never cease to impress me. There's a drive in ultramarathoners that I someday want to have.

I did an ultra earlier this year, but now I want to set my dreams (though not yet my training) on a 100-mile ultramarathon. Humans aren't supposed to be able to do these sorts of things. The fact that we can and do these types of endurance events is simply a testament to our drive to get through anything if we set our mind to it.

A 100-mile ultramarathon is very much still in dream stage and I don't see it happening anytime soon, but I'm not going to rule it out like I had in the past. I can visualize myself running and finishing it and that's a very important first step. It's out there, but it may be a distance away for me.

Run a race with my dad

Since I really started to run a couple of years ago, my dad has been my biggest fan. (He's the good looking guy on the right in the picture.) He ran his first and only marathon in under 3:15 after he had trained like crazy for it (50/60 miles a week near the end). Running was a huge part of his life, but he has had back problems that running tends to aggravate. But he's trying to get back on the road. He's continuing to work out to try to hit the roads again. I secretly think it's because he wants to run with me again.

I only ran one race "with" my dad, though we were in different heats. It was the one-mile run I did almost 15 years ago in Harrisburg. We both ran that evening, but not together. My dream is to run a race by his side. It doesn't have to be a marathon or even a half. I'd just love to finish a race with him by my side. It's possible, but it's more important that he doesn't aggravate any back problems he already has.

Everyone feels comfortable running

My last wish is that everyone who wants to run can run. I hear too often about people who don't feel comfortable running because they aren't "in good enough shape" or run too slow. I don't think we, as a running community, promote these bad thoughts, but I think society does.

The gym can be a crazy thing. A lot of people don't want to go to the gym until they can look good at the gym. I guess I can understand that, but it keeps a lot of people who want to be healthy away because they're concerned about what others will think.

So my last wish (since genies only grant three wishes) is that people who want to run will look past how fast or slow or fit or not they are. Give running a try. Not only will we not laugh at you. We'll embrace you and help you out when you fall. We are here for everyone in this sport, no matter whether you're healthy or can run a marathon or not.

Those are my wishes.

This was written as part of the Runner's Lounge: Take It and Run Thursday. This week's topic was "Make a wish: share your dream".