20 September 2011

Fast-Paced Marathons

No, the title does not refer to me. I have not run, and do not have much desire at all to run, a marathon. But, I was curious about the make-up of the elite of the elite of men's marathoners. My source is Track and Field All-Time Performances.

The top 25 all-time fastest marathoners are:
  • 16 Kenyans
  • 8 Ethiopians
  • 1 American
Of those top 25 times:
  • 3 are less than 2:04
  • 12 are between 2:04 and 2:04:59
  • 10 are between 2:05 and 2:05:23
The top 2 times are world's best, not world records:
  • Geoffrey Mutai, Kenya, 2011 Boston, 2:03:02 (downhill and point-to-point)
  • Moses Mosop, Kenya, 2011 Boston, 2:03:06 (downhill and point-to-point)
  • Haile Gebreselassie, 2008 Berlin, Ethiopia, 2:03:59 — official World Record
The only American in the top 25 is Ryan Hall at #15: 2:04:58, 2011 Boston (downhill and point-to-point)

The runners who have been in the top 25 the longest are:
  • Paul Tergat, Kenya, 2003 Berlin, 2:04:55
  • Sammy Korir, Kenya, 2003 Berlin, 2:04:56
The youngest in the list (at the time he ran) is Lelisa Gemechu Feyisa, Ethiopia, #25, 2010 Rotterdam, 2:05:23 — he was 20 year, 2 months, 10 days.

The oldest in the list (at the time he ran) is Haile Gebreselassie, Ethiopia, #3 (WR), 2008 Berlin, 2:03:59 — he was 35 years, 5 months, 10 days.

Frequency on the list:
  • 3 times: Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya), Haile Gebreselassie (Ethiopia), and Tsegay Kebede (Ethiopia)
  • 2 time: Patrick Makau (Kenya)
Gives us something to aim for, no? LOL!

Run well, y'all,
Bob A

17 September 2011

It's All a Matter of Perspective

Kenya Airways Boeing 767-300, 196 economy seats, 20 premier seats, 86,880 KG load capacity, 90,770 litres of fuel, flies at Mach 0.80, 62,100 lbs of thrust, 47.6 metres wingspan, 54.9 metres in length, range of 11,306 KM. This is not a puddle-jumper of an airplane — it's pretty good sized.

PERSPECTIVE: Descending into Johannesburg on a Boeing 767-300, the plane banked and the wing covered several square miles of landscape, businesses, and homes. If I had been in the air above the plane, the plane and the wing would have seemed small compared to the earth. If I had been on the ground, looking up at the plane, it would have seemed barely larger than a speck. Problems look so big when they are close -- in our face. But, often, it's a matter of perspective. The problem I face today may be relatively small in the scheme of things. See Matthew 6:25-34 (especially verse 25 and verses 33-34) and Genesis 50:20 for some interesting Bible references to the idea of perspective.

I was thinking about my running this morning when I came across those notes (above) that I had made on that plane ride. I have been running regularly now for 8+ years. Up until about 2 1/2 years ago, I was reasonably fast for my age — not age group winning fast, but satisfyingly so. But since that time, I have often felt like the more I run, the worse shape I'm in. But, it is a matter of perspective. I am running and that's good for me — Fox News did a layman's piece about 50+ year olds running that cites the evidence for that. I can't find the percentage of 57 year olds who run, but I'm in a pretty small percentage of that age group. I'm not that slow, just slower than I was at 54. I can run 4+ miles without stopping on most days — and 4 miles is not a short distance. So, buck up, Bob, and quit complaining!

This morning in Nairobi it was 61.5° and 72% humidity. I ran 4.14 miles at a 9:43 mpm pace. I wanted to quit from almost the first step, but I didn't. I ran! It's a matter of perspective.

Run well, y'all,
Bob A
Nairobi, Kenya

"For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are." -- C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew

11 September 2011

High Altitude Training Centre, Iten, Kenya

After I wrote my post yesterday about the secrets to the success of Kenyan runners, I came across this video on the blog, Sweat Science. Interesting look at the running culture of [some of] Kenya and how some of Kenya's best train.

Ankle sore but much better. Decided to run after the morning worship service and it felt good. The run was hard. My wife asked me why — "missed 5 days running, middle of the day versus early morning, mainly because I'm old and fat" — the last made her laugh! 4.04 miles at 9:28 mpm.

Run well, y'all,
Bob A, Nairobi

10 September 2011

Kiplagat (r), Keptoo (l), and Cherop (c) after taking gold, silver, and bronze in women's marathon in Daegu (photo by China Daily)

Over the last few years, as East Africans, particularly Kenyans and Ethiopians, have absolutely dominated distance running, there have been many, many opinions about why. The opinions range for nature to nurture and humourous to serious — their genes are better, they run fast because they think that's how they should run, they ran to school as kids, they live and train at high altitude, lions. Even I've written about this before — see this post: East African Runners.

In the recently completed World Championships in Daegu, S Korea, Kenya once again dominated at many distances from 800m to marathon — 17 medals to end up 3rd in overall medals. And, they did not get any medals (may not have even had entrants) in field events. One European competitor was quoted as saying that it was impossible to beat the Kenyans. Upon their return to Kenya, the local national newspaper, The Daily Nation, did a 2-page spread on their success and included an article about why they are so successful. I could give you the link to the article but you'd have to subscribe to the online Daily Nation to read it. If you're interested in reading the whole article, you can download it from my personal Dropbox files: We Are So Good Because We Train A Lot.

The runners and coach stated several reasons for Kenyan success:

  • Vivian Cheruiyot, gold in the women's 10,000m race, leading a 1-2-3 finish by Kenyan women: ...the secret to our success is...teamwork.
  • Peter Mathu, Kenyan head coach: ...a range of factors...powerful work ethic...running from a young age...they train al lot, they are training from January up until December...competing all over the country...traditional method of training...high-altitude country...most athletes have come from a tough background...we have just been there...we also try hard, we work hard.
Well, as the British would say, Bob's your uncle! — in their own words.

Clipping from The Daily Nation showing the Kenyan medal winners: The glorious men and women who did us proud in Daegu (PDF file).

Look out, world. Coach Mathu is predicting they will be even better in the Olympics next year and then in the 2013 Moscow World Championships!

As for my own running — well, I may live at high altitude in Kenya, but I sure don't run like them. Monday morning, I left at 5:30AM to run. Had to run early because of a meeting starting at 8:00. Well, I had a headlamp, reflective vest, knew the route like the back of my hand, etc. Still, I managed to step on the edge of the road or in a hole and turned my ankle pretty badly. After a couple of minutes of cautious testing, it didn't hurt badly. So, I finished the run and ran the 3.4 miles faster than I've done it in several weeks — 9:14 mpm. My wife said it was because every time I stepped on the injured foot, I got my weight off of it quickly. But, when I quit and got ready for the meeting, OUCH! I 'iced it: No 'R'est, but I Iced, Compressed, and Elevated before and after the meeting and for the next couple of days; I took Ibuprofen for 3 days. It's better. So, hoping to be back on the road tomorrow morning.

Run well, y'all,
Bob, Nairobi