2011 L.A. Gender Challenge

     2011 L.A. Marathon lineup is listed below.  Next week we finalize this year’s Gender Challenge Differential. Now in its 7th year, the Gender Challenge was instituted to create some kind of interest in the pro races given that there’s no home team to root for.  The thinking being, women would root for women, men for men, regardless of who they are or where they came from.  TV ratings over the years have bolstered that thinking

Last year Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat won the women’s race on the new Stadium to Sea course in 2:25:38.  Fellow Kenyan Wesley Korir took his second straight men’s title in 2:09:19.  The difference in those two times is 16:19.  Last year’s differential was 18:47, meaning Edna won the $100,000 Challenge bonus by a wide margin.

Yet at halfway last year the women were only up :22. By mile 17 the men had carved the advantage down to just :08, and it looked like we might get a strirring stretch run down San Vicente heading to the Santa Monica finish. (more…)

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RUNNER’S ANONYMOUS

     They call running the “positive addiction”, and those who get hooked understand why.  The feelings of contentment and well-being, the sense of communion with all else beneath the sun and stars, the conscience-free eating and drinking are just a few of the inducements that provoke a powerful enticement to daily dosing. 

In 2008 the journal Cerebral Cortex confirmed the anecdotal evidence: Running does indeed elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain, and those endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.

Frightening evidence, indeed, because no matter how you gussy it up, addiction is addiction, and it’s a slippery slope one steps onto.  Even one seemingly harmless dependence can easily lead to other, more disruptive forms.  Therefore, the time to blunt any addiction’s hold is now.  But to do so alone is difficult.  Every addiction is best broken by a support system.  Running’s hold must be, as well. (more…)

RIDE, SALLY, RIDE

sallymeyerhoff1

Ex-Duke University All-American Sally Meyerhoff, 27, was killed yesterday in a tragic cycling accident near her home in Maricopa, Arizona as she trained for the Ironman Triathlon World Championship.

A two-time Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier, 2009 U.S. 25K Road  champion, and 2011 winner of the P.F. Chang’s Rock `n` Roll Arizona Marathon in her hometown of Tempe, we first met Sally in 2008 when she made her marathon debut at P.F. Chang’s.  We saw her last as she competed in Houston at the U.S. Half Marathon Championship at the end of January.  In her short, but full 27 years she represented the best qualities of her family, her community, and her sport.

 

When we watched you win your hometown race,
You lifted our spirits with your verve and grace,
Pigtails dancing, socks ablaze, your smile
a reminder of our own better days.
 
From miles to marathons,
Then on to Xterra,
Now Ironman calling?
Another challenge, you betcha!
 
We watched you grow through tireless pursuit,
Blue Devil girl in the bun-hugger suit,
Who shared her passion with those that mattered,
The volunteer coach for young climbers of ladders.
 
For teaching, you knew, held the real reward,
Though return on investment could rarely be scored.
But you knew all along as you laid  out your lessons,
True knowldege emerged from quality of questions.
 
Today we learned of life’s cruel turns,
Your journey at an end as your family now yearns,
For days ahead that won’t come true,
When they’d have cheered your wins,
And succored your blues.
 
You’ve left us behind in search for a reason,
Grasping for cause to clarify the meaning,
Why such tragedies as yours that seem so needless,
Could be visited upon one who fashioned no malice.
 
Now this explorer’s heart that beat so strongly,
Has gone silent too soon, and, oh, how wrongly,
Yet bids friends gather to share with their laughter,
As they commend their bright champion to the deep ever after.
 
END

GINSENG EXTRACTS

The cars curling onto the Mass Ave Bridge off Storrow Drive blared their horns as Jim sprang safely across to the sidewalk in a stiff-arming Heisman pose.  His training partner hustled close behind, dart-stepping over a puddle as chilled slush fanned against the back of his tights.

“Yeah, yeah,” Jim yelled in his seasoned Hartford accent.  “I heah ya.  You’ll get theah.”

“You know you’re gonna get us killed,” spat the training partner as he rejoined his friend heading north across the Mass Ave Bridge to the Cambridge side of the Charles River.

“What?”

“And you wonder where runners get bad reputations.”

“Hey, they saw me.”

“What about me?”

“Stay close and they see you, too.”

“And that makes it okay?”

“That makes it doable.”

*

They had been friends for years, and their verbal jousts had become as predictable as their daily routes through the city.  But more than repartee, their sparring had the effect of pace management, maintain the verbal output, keep below anaerobic threshold.  (more…)

SKATING OVER DIMES

Young scout
Young Cub Scout

 I have never been much of a joiner.  The only club I remember belonging to was the Cub Scouts, and that was only for a few weeks in third grade.  Seems all our den mother Mrs. Coulson wanted to do was take us over to Steinberg Rink in Forest Park to watch her son Billy ice skate while the rest of us just stood around sliding our neckerchief rings up and down over our tidy blue uniforms.

“Hey, Jimmy,” I said to a fellow rail hanger in week two. “You got any matches?”

Point being — as I heated up a dime to throw out onto the ice — I didn’t see any merit badges coming out of this except maybe for anger management or leg-splinting.  So after a few more hot-dime tosses trying to get Billy to trip and break something, I quit the scouts.

Thus when some people asked if they could put my name up for nomination to the Running USA board of directors last year (2010), my initial response was “of course not”.  Notwithstanding, through no fault nor campaigning of my own, I received a call during the holidays telling me that I’d been elected to the 17-person board.

(more…)

REMEMBERING CHELSEA

CHELSEA IN STRIDE
CHELSEA KING IN STRIDE

She was a runner, and like so many of her kindred spirits Chelsea King found freedom, joy, and life-affirming wisdom in the gritty hold of her sport. The wisdom didn’t come easy, it had to be mined most days of the week.  Which is what 17 year-old Chelsea was doing when she was attacked and killed one benign afternoon near her home in Rancho Bernardo Community Park February 25th 2010.

The news, first of her disappearance, and later of the discovery of her body in a shallow grave on March 2nd spread virally, for this was not just another Missing White Woman, that modern-day media syndrome which separates the haves from the care-nots.

“If this was someone in National City or Oceanside, there wouldn’t have been the same reaction,” was one cynical reaction I heard.

Notwithstanding, Chelsea King’s innocence seemed to radiate from the picture of her competing in her Poway High School cross country team uniform. Never a threat, runners often delude themselves into thinking that neither are they a target. Yet fully half the running population is just that if they put themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. (more…)

MARATHON BUBBLE?

     Once again a major American marathon has filled its field in record time. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced that it topped out at 45,000 in just 31 days.  This comes after new qualifying standards were announced for the 2012 and 2013 Boston Marathon after they blitzed through registration in a mere 8 hours last fall.

Even with the emphasis on self-directed healthcare, are we flirting with elements of the dot com and housing bubbles?  Is it possilbe we could see a radical downsizing of the market?  Just asking.  Besides, how long can it go on like this?

25-30 years ago you might have impressed somebody ‘s drunken uncle with tales of your marathon exploits.  Back there were only a handful of marathon finishers nationwide.  Gaunt men, generally, given to thick glasses and thin chests.  But now after an entire generation of baby boomers traded pharmacological zeal for endorphin overdosing, who, really, wants to slog alongside some flower-power hold over who’s wheezing like an aging cocker spaniel for 26 godforsaken miles? Where’s the Kevorkian aid station when you need it?

(more…)