31 March 2008

Now We Know Why Kenyan Runners Are So Fast

Thanks to Pastor Karl of the Nashwauk Alliance Church in northern Minnesota and running blogger at The Faster Pastor for ferreting out why Kenyan runners are so fast.
Kip Lagat, a Kenyan marathoner [actually a middle distance runner --Bob--], explained why his country produces so many great marathoners with these words: It's the road signs: Beware of Lions.

Lagat apparently said this during the Sydney Olympics -- The Final Sprint. (The picture is from the NTN New York web page.)

Run well, y'all -- and watch out for felines on steroids,

Unreal! (or Life's Not Fair, Get Over It!)

Now, this would have been a track meet to watch. The only problem with this particular meet is that it absolutely blows my best excuse for slowness (age) right out of the water!! The picture is of Ralph Maxwell, 88, winner of the M85 Indoor Pentathlon and is from the USATF site.

For all of us glass half-full folks, we have something to shoot for. We ain't dead, yet. Look how much we can still improve! Let's get out there and work smarter.

If you want the glass half-empty perspective: Looking at these times, even when I was a teenager, I would only have won an age group bracket against a 45 year old woman or a 65 year old man. In my current age group bracket, M50-54, the lowest ranked finisher would have beaten me by 45-60 seconds and the top finisher would have lapped me early in the 3rd quarter-mile! They would have been too embarrassed to have even listed my name and time. To win any bracket at my current best, I would have to race against men 75 and older.

Wow! No matter which perspective you prefer, these ladies and men are unbelievably fast.

Here are the results of the first place finishers in each age bracket.

2008 USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships
Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center - Boston, Mass.
Saturday, 29 March 2008
Full Results

Plc Name Age Team Finals
1 443 McGlynn, Laura W30 Unattached,Scituate 5:45.63
1 92 Caffrey, Therese W37 Nike Central,New Yo 5:31.89
1 745 *Pritchett, Bernadin W41 Unattached 5:06.42
1 540 Rizzo, Charlotte W45 Westchester,Bronxvi 5:25.43
1 537 Richards, Mary W53 Atlanta Trac,Atlant 6:13.20
1 428 Martin, Kathryn W56 Northport Ru,Northp 5:32.09
1 666 VanEeuwen, Jane W66 Unattached,Wayne, N 10:05.98

Name Age Team Finals
1 406 Lombardo, Brian M30 Genesee Vall,Tonawa 4:27.63
1 479 Newton, Chad M38 FIBO Track C,Pisgah 4:25.27
1 582 Sergeant, Stephen M44 Unattached,Andover, 4:34.87
1 302 Hinton, John M45 Carrboro Ath,Chapel 4:28.92
1 102 Cannon, David M51 Club Northwe,Seattl 4:43.89
1 585 Shaheed, Nolan M58 So Cal Track,Pasade 4:43.72
1 742 *Solomon, Kevin M60 Unattached 5:01.62
********Solomon beat the existing world record ('98) for M60 by 0:00.10
1 134 Condon, Frank M65 Golden West,Chico, 5:11.43
1 140 Cordero, Joe M70 Bohemia Trac,Islip 6:05.25
1 339 Jones, Casey M77 Atlanta Trac,Atlant 7:20.73
1 360 King, Joe M81 Unattached,Central 6:56.28
1 193 Englert, Roy M85 Potomac Vall,Spring 9:33.22
1 546 Rogers, Orville M90 Unattached,Dallas, 9:56.58
********Rogers beat the existing world record ('05) for M90 by 1:27.09

Run well, y'all -- even if you don't have world class speed,

29 March 2008

Awareness Test (Video)

Interesting video clip. Post a comment to let me know how you do.

The original is on DOTHETEST. Thanks to Cranky Fitness for surfacing this video.

For the record, I had to watch it a second time before .... (Don't want to give away the point.)

After you've watched the video, you might want to read the background. The video is an advertisement for a British cycling safety campaign. The same principles apply to running safety.

Run well, y'all,

Blast From the Past

World metric mile (1500 m) run, 14 July 1998 -- the battle between the Moroccan El Guerrouj and Kenyan (at the time) Bernard Lagat. Makes me wish I could run fast:

Final Long Run

How is it possible, when I've been running regularly for 5 years and have run 25-40 miles per week for the last 2-3 months, that I can be so sore after a long run today? It makes no sense. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my age. :)

Today was the last long run before the Richmond 10K next Saturday. Next week is taper week with only 17 miles plus the race. My plan is to run the race, hopefully sub-45:00, then head back to the start to run/walk the race again with my wife.

Today's long run was again in 3 parts, with a 3-5 minute break between each:

8.0643 mi -- 65:39.02 -- 8:08.45 mpm -- by myself
5.0000 mi -- 38:52.25 -- 7:46.45 mpm -- with the training group
0.7844 mi -- 06:20.83 -- 8:05.50 mpm -- home by myself
13.8487 mi - 110:52.10 - 8:00.34 mpm -- TOTAL

Run well, y'all,

28 March 2008

Fast Kenyans

Over recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about why Kenyans are fast -- they train at high altitude, they grow up running to school, their diet, they work hard, high motivation, unique genetics. Who knows? I suspect it has as much to do with hard work as anything else.

This video clip doesn't answer the question of why but is entertaining:

Run well, y'all -- like a Kenyan,

27 March 2008

Overcoming Injuries (TIART)

Another TIART (Take It and Run Thursday) over at Runners Lounge. The topic today is Overcoming Injuries. Fortunately, I have not had to endure many injuries as a runner. However, I did have to have arthroscopic medial meniscectomy in 2004. My knee had been hurting for some time. Dumb me, didn't get it checked but kept running until one day, right at the end of my run, I was suddenly plunged into agony. Still in denial, I tried to walk it out (normal walking, not exercising) and wait it out for a couple of weeks. When it was pretty obvious that that was not a very smart idea, I headed to the orthopedist in Nairobi.

First thing he said, when he looked at my knees -- just looked, didn't take x-rays or touch -- was that I had obvious muscle atrophy of the quad muscle around the injured knee. After manipulating my knee and looking at MRI images, he said he was almost certain that I had a torn medial meniscus. I opted for surgery but by another orthopedist who was in Johannesburg, South Africa, who only did knees, and who worked on athletes (I wanted to maximize my chances to run again).

But, before going to South Africa, I took to heart the first orthopedist's observation about muscle atrophy. I reasoned that strengthening my quad muscles would improve my chances of successful surgery. So, I focused on leg lifts on my Bowflex but instead of lifting with both legs together, I did one leg at a time so that I forced my injured left leg to work as hard as the uninjured right leg. I began very cautiously because I didn't want to cause further damage to my knee.

I had the surgery and the physical therapist was in my room almost the moment I woke up. First thing she wanted me to do was stand up so she could see whether I could use the knee at all (I actually walked out of the hospital without crutches). Then, she gave me careful instructions and demonstrations of a regimen of physical therapy exercises she wanted me to do -- basically designed to strengthen the quad muscles around my knee (sounded familiar). She also gave me a time table of when I could start walking for exercise, jogging and then running. I followed those instructions religiously and within just a few weeks was back to running.

Here are my take aways from that experience and my advice to anyone facing the same surgery. (DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or a physical therapist. You should consult qualified medical personnel before following my advice. I will not accept responsibility for any damage, injury, loss of anything, etc. as a result of anyone following this advice.):
1. Even if you are a guy, don't deny or ignore persistent pain or a potential injury. I was fortunate and didn't permanently injure myself but your mileage may differ. See a doctor.

2. As much as possible, focus on strengthening the leg muscles before surgery. A book I'm reading now, The Powerfood Nutrition Plan by Susan Kleiner, confirms that advice. She calls it prehap. In fact, it would probably be wise to do specific strength exercises when you're perfectly healthy.

3. After surgery, get and follow directions from a good physical therapist as soon after surgery as possible. That sounds like a no-brainer and sounds like something that would happen automatically. However, a friend had meniscus surgery on both knees here in Richmond and didn't see a PT until about 10 days after surgery. She was in agony.

Surgery worked for me. I regularly run between 25 and 38 miles per week and rarely have pain greater than the occasional dull ache. I also now have a built in shoe-dometer -- when the ache in my knee becomes constant, I know I need new running shoes.

Run well and injury-free, y'all,

26 March 2008

Tempo Run -- Week 10

Today was the last scheduled long tempo run. The target was 1 mile warm up, 5 miles @ 7:35, 1 mile cool down. It was daunting and when I headed out, I discovered that the wind was blowing (14 mph). Arghhh! But, it turned out to be a good run. Here are the splits:

Tempo Splits
1.0 mile  x 8:56.86
1.0 mile  x 7:33.47
1.0 mile  x 7:08.67
1.0 mile  x 7:06.36
1.0 mile  x 7:21.71
1.0 mile  x 7:09.35
1.3 miles x 10:20.10

I'm OK with that.

Run well, y'all,

23 March 2008


This picture was posted by one of our 2-year missionaries in South Africa (if you follow the link, scroll to the bottom of the posting for 19 March for this picture). Usually it's not too difficult to figure out what is meant when English gets scrambled, but, as a Kenyan might say, I am being defeated by this one.

Run well, y'all (just not with smoking babies),
Bob A

22 March 2008

Running Community

While, like many who have posted, I like running alone, I really
enjoy those times when I can run with someone else. I travel within
the US a fair amount with my job and there are usually a group of us
from work who go to the same location. There's almost always someone
else who runs and it's fun exploring a new place with another runner.

For the last couple of years, I've also participated in a Christmas
Lights Run sponsored by a local running store. It's not a race but a
night group run to see the Christmas lights. That's been a lot of fun.

Running with someone makes the miles go by faster mentally and,
usually, physically. I seem to run faster and with less struggle when
I'm running and talking to someone else.

The other community that I enjoy are the 2-3 virtual running
communities that I participate in and the running bloggers. Those are
a great source of encouragement and help.

Run well, y'all,

Long Run

Did my long run in 3 parts today with about a 5 minute break between each part:

By myself -- hilly route: 7.5 miles @ 8:06.3 mpm
W/YMCA 10K Training Group: 6 miles @ 7:44.4 mpm
Home from the Y: 0.75 miles @ 8:02.8 mpm

TOTAL: 14.25 miles, 1:53:19.86, 7:56.9 mpm average

Beautiful day for a run. Came home, cleaned up the lawn mower, and cut the weeds.

Looking forward to celebrating Jesus' resurrection tomorrow.

Run well, y'all,

19 March 2008

Track Work

The most dreaded element of my 10K training is the speedwork. Though I generally complete it, I always go into it feeling certain that today I'll crash and burn. The plan for today called for 6 miles with a warm up, 5x800m@3:20, w/4 400m jogs, and cool down. So, off to the track at the local high school

0.21 mi X 2:55.88 (walking warm up)
1.79 mi X 15:52.00
800 m X 3:21.31 (kick it up a quarter notch next 800 m)
400 m X 2:13.84
800 m X 3:19.00
400 m X 2:14.89
800 m X 3:17.71
400 m X 2:14.15
800 m X 3:17.34
400 m X 2:19.65
800 m X 3:13.29
2.0 mi X 16:35.93

OK, not bad -- negative splits and all but one 800m was sub-goal. Nonetheless, the next time out, I'll still dread those repeats.

Run well, y'all,

18 March 2008

Politics Is Not Fair

OK, that's a no-brainer. Politics is about power and winning. In a corrupt world, it's no surprise that those seeking power and position are likely to do and say anything to get those.

I'm not an Obama supporter. I'd like to be because the message of unity and pulling together really resonates with me. But, though I haven't done all the investigation I need to do, his stances and policies do not resonate with me.

This is not a final thought, but, the flak over statements made by his pastor seems over the top. Obama is responsible for his response to statements made by his supporters and even by his pastor. Obama needs to be honest and transparent in his statements about what he does (did) and does not (did not) know or hear. He should be able to explain his decision to remain a member of that church as that reflects his judgement. But, he is not responsible for the statements themselves.

I could change my mind -- actually, I probably won't change my mind on the basic statements above but I retain the option to become more critical of Obama's response to Rev. Wright's statements. :)

OK, that's more thinking than I usually do while running. It was a good, easy run this morning. Good temperature -- 41-42° when I left and 38° when I finished -- shorts, long-sleeved shirt, light gloves, and my Balega Trail Buster socks were just right.

Run well, y'all,

15 March 2008

Ashland 10K Railroad Run

The YMCA 10K training group suggested that participants run the Ashland 10K Railroad Run today as a training run for the Richmond 10K in 3 weeks. Sounded good, so I signed up.

I must have signed up early because I had bib #12. I decided to treat this run as a tempo run. My tempo run was originally scheduled for this past Wednesday but jet lag from the South Africa trip has really hit me this time. The plan this week called for a 7 miler: 1 mile warm-up, 5 miles X 7:40, and 1 mile cool down. So, I figured I'd aim for about 8:15 for the first mile, then do the last 5.2 miles at roughly 7:40. That would be just over 48:00 for the 10K -- a really good warm-up.

Ashland is a smallish town north of Richmond. Around here, they have a reputation for running good races. This was no exception. There were about 338 participants in the 10K. The weather was perfect -- a cool 48-50° at the start. Cool enough to be chilly in a short-sleeved running shirt waiting for the race to begin but great once we started. The course was pretty flat (my plot is off -- I missed both the start and finish spots) -- I don't think the variation was more than about 20'.

We got off at 9AM and I held back to an easy pace. It's hard to get passed by so many folks. I didn't see the 1 mile marker but at about 8:20, picked up the pace. It felt really good, almost too good. I hit the 2 mile mark at 14:55. Mile 3 passed at 22:something; Mile 4 at 29:something. At mile 4, we were on a downhill and I knew we were going to have to come back up that hill. Still felt really good. The turn-around point came at the top of a hill. I hit mile 5 going uphill at 36:37 and was beginning to feel tired. Just before mile 6, one of the course officials said there was only 1/4 mile remaining (OK, I can hold this pace that long). Mile 6 passed at 44:00 and I realized I was not only going to beat my 48:00 target but I was going to beat my 47:00 goal time for the Richmond 10K and, unless I passed out, was going to actually break 46:00. There was one person in front of me that I had a chance of passing by the finish so I picked it up a bit -- might as well leave it all on the road (in the end, I thought I was going to leave it all in the bushes). I crossed the finish at 45:29 -- 45th out of 338 and 4th in my age group (50-54). I'm still in shock.

Someone asked me if this was a PR. Yeah -- it's actually my first 10k race. Three weeks until the Richmond 10K.

Run well, y'all,

12 March 2008

Wedding Pictures

I've posted some preliminary pictures of our son's wedding. Click here to go to the site. The link was created using Tiny URL and it points to a site hosted on dotMac (Apple Inc.).

Run well, y'all,

09 March 2008

Our Reason for Being in Cape Town

Finally ... we're back home. There are not words to describe Delta -- at least not words that are a part of my vocabulary. First, it took us over an hour to get checked in at Johannesburg and there weren't more than 20 groups ahead of us. Delta had only 3 ticket counters open and 1 of those was dedicated to Business/Elite customers. It was like they were on a go-slow.

Then, our seats were more cramped than any I remember in our 22 years of international travel. The only way to get my knees behind the seat in front of me was to sit up perfectly straight with my backside jammed into the back of my seat. I couldn't stretch my legs out under the seat in front of me because of a bar of some sort under the back edge of the seat in front of me.

Finally, our final flight from Atlanta to Richmond was canceled because of a "maintenance problem". They booked us on a flight for tomorrow with no guarantee of a hotel room. We were on stand-by for the next flight but didn't get on that. Then we were on stand-by for the final flight of the day and were #'s 4/5/6. At the very last minute, they said they had room for 2 of the 3 of us, so my wife and daughter had the van keys and the luggage stickers. I was going to spend the night in either the airport or at my brother's on the north side of Atlanta. But, just as I turned to leave, they said they could put "one more Allen on". We go te last 3 seats. So, a huge 2-thumbs down for Delta for a trip that ended up having us traveling for 42 hours from the time we left for the airport yesteday until we got home tonight.

Still, the awful trip hasn't detracted from the very special week we just completed in Cape Town, South Africa. We spent a week "on vacation" with our son, his fiance, her parents and one brother, my parents, my wife's mother, our daughter and a small group of our son and his fiance's friends. And, let me tell you, Cape Town is a beautiful place to spend a week (and in which to get in some beautiful runs). Then, the wedding was Friday. They wanted it to be somewhat untraditional but it was very special.

Left to right: Stacey (our daughter), Stephen (our son), Anna (our new daughter-in-law), Jonathan (Anna's brother)

Off they go.

Run well, y'all,

05 March 2008

From the Mountain to the Shore

What day is today? Wednesday, I think. Monday, I went back up the mountain but went all the way to Chapman's Peak (8 m to 305 m). The last half mile up was really difficult but I'm really glad I did it.

Tuesday, I didn't run. We were changing locations and I didn't want to have to deal with wet stuff. Plus, after having run Chapman's Peak Rd on Sat and Mon and a shorter run on Sun, I thought I needed a break. It was actually a good decision because the wind was really, really strong all day long.

This morning, I woke up in St. James -- just north of Kalk Bay and just south of Muizenberg -- (as if that's of help to anyone) and, yes, that's where I went to sleep. :) It was a gorgeous morning. A bit warm for my tastes but with a nice ocean breeze blowing. I decided to run about an hour to get a bit more distance. My legs were dead but it was really good to run along the coast. There's an electric train that runs right on the shoreline and decent enough sidewalks about 6' up the hill from the tracks. So, a pretty good place to run. Ended up running 8.1 miles, 1:05:24 -- 8:02 mpm pace -- I turned around at the northern edge of Simon's Town. Click here for my route -- it isn't as spectacular as Chapman's Peak but still a pretty run. Coordinates, if you want to look on Google Earth, are:


Run well, y'all,

02 March 2008

It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This!

All I can say is WOW! I'm in Noordhoek, South Africa -- on the peninsula, south of Cape Town. This weekend we're on the Atlantic Ocean side, staying at the ACTS (African Christian Tours) Team House. On Tuesday, we move about 10 km to the Indian Ocean side. It is beautiful here.

Before leaving Johannesburg, a good friend described two runs for me -- one relatively flat and boring (in his words); the other gorgeous but brutal. We arrived at the team house about about 1:00 AM Saturday and got to bed at 2:30 AM or so. But, if I was going to run, I had to get up by 7:00. I woke up at 6:45 and was out the door at about 7:5. This is the view that greeted me as I walked out the door:

As I headed out, I tried to decide whether, in my state of way too little sleep, whether to do flat and boring or brutal and beautiful, up Chapman's Peak Road. When I got to the place where I had to go one way or the other, it was such a beautiful morning, I decided to go brutal and beautiful. Here's the visual result -- the total run was about 6.6 miles and 55:13 (average pace of 8:22 mpm):

Team house, looking up at the Chapman's Peak Drive

Start of the mountain climb

Looking back over the team house

Still climbing

Over-the-side view

The road is cut into the side of the hill

Chapman's Tunnel


Looking ahead over the side

Another looking back shot -- or my view on the way down

Nearing the peak

I can go a little farther

...and up

Note the sign and my photographer (we drove the route later in the day)

I turned around at this point so this is my first view on the downhill

Oh, did I ever make the right decision! It was brutal but so worth the pain. The mountain part of the run was about 2.3 miles up and, of course, the same down. gMap-Pedometer didn't give me a good elevation plot but it was a long climb. The last picture was taken at about the peak of my run, so you can see how high above the ocean I was. There were numerous bicyclists and runners -- I would guess 150 bikers and 50+ runners -- and only a dozen or so motored vehicles the whole time.

Eat your hearts out -- this was the prettiest run I have even done -- hands down, no competition, qualifies for a Runner's World Rave Run. Here are the placemark name and coordinates for Google Maps and Google Maps satellite image:

ACTS Team House, Noordhoek, RSA
--> Latitude: 34° 5'52.47"S
--> Longitude: 18°21'27.12"E

Run well, y'all,