Friday, June 26, 2009

Wow, I can't let this article go without comment. It comes from the AP, and was in the Berkshire Eagle on Wednesday. It's called "Disease Prevention Often Costs More Than It Saves". The first couple of paragraphs says it all.

By CARLA K. JOHNSON AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- When it comes to health care spending, an ounce of prevention is seldom worth a pound of cure. Take Mrs. Jones, a hypothetical 55-year-old obese woman at risk for diabetes. It costs $900 a year to hire a personal lifestyle coach to help her lose weight and prevent diabetes. Suppose that the coaching works for Mrs. Jones, and she is spared diabetes and all the resulting health bills.
But research shows that for every person like Mrs. Jones, six other people just like her get nothing out of such a program. They either don't lose weight or get diabetes anyway or wouldn't have developed it in the first place. The yearly cost of the prevention program for those six people: $5,400.
That's probably more than Mrs. Jones' health bills from diabetes would have amounted to.

...Right off the bat, this article doesn't make any logical sense. First of all, since when did any medication, CURE diabetes? Someone should inform the American Diabetes Association that there's been a pharmaceutical cure for diabetes! I think it would be news to them. Secondly, When, in this world, will everybody pre-diabetic be assigned a life-style coach? I don't know what planet this writer is from, but I can tell you, it's not this one. I tell you what though, if that were true, life style coaches would be the hot new industry to get in to, as there are about 24 million Americans with diabetes. And, if Mrs. Jones spends her own money on a life style coach, that would sound to me as if she were taking some responsibility for saving her own life.

Also, why would somebody put a price tag on good health? That's the big question here! Sure, you can add up all sorts of costs like a membership to a gym, running shoes, water bottles, organic foods, anything you want. But no matter what you spend on your health, it is far "cheaper" than poor health, and a life on medications.

If the "Doctor" from this article doesn't know that, she should take a quote from The Six Finger Man from "The Princess Bride": "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything".

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cold And Fast

On Thursday night, the Third Thursday street festival held it's first Green Mile race on North Street in downtown Pittsfield. Tim and I planned to make this a night of good speed work. We left the car at the Taconic track where we planned to do some intervals after the race, and ran toward the Colonial Theatre to meet our friend, Chrissie. On the way, we ran by the Dancing Vegan take out shop. It's amazing that Pittsfield has it's own vegan take out, but I worry about their location -in the middle of nowhere- in a very unvegan neighborhood. On the day of their grand opening they didn't even have a sign on their building. I thought they were either crazy or geniuses. I think the jury is still out.

After we picked up,Chrissie, we kept up our warm up. It was raining and cold, and a good warm up was essential. I was dealing with a couple of issues that I thought were going to hinder my attempt at a personal best time. One, was a huge bruise on my arse that I got from a botched attempt to jump over a fallen tree a few days prior. Second, my left foot began to cramp up ten minutes before the race. The bruised butt felt like a pin cushion bouncing around in my ass, and now I was limping a little with the foot cramp.
Tim, asked me what I wanted to do for a time. I knew he wanted to hear a fast number, but I had already started to dial down in my head. I said sheepishly, "5:20". Which would beat my best mile to date by two seconds. Inside, I was thinking that I would settle for a 5:30.
We line up for the race, and I'm trying to remember that this race is going to be over quick, so I shouldn't save anything out there on the road. I've been doing longer, harder races up mountains, so I was afraid that I would set a slower pace for myself.
Runner's set! Go! Everyone bolts off the line like it's a 100m dash! Almost a quarter mile into the race, Tim knows that I'm right behind him, so he yells back to me that I'm going really fast; so I smartly back off the pace a bit. Now at the half mile mark I was running very comfortably. So comfortably that I was worried that I wasn't running that fast. It seemed fast, but I wasn't sure. Let me see if I can go faster. I was thinking of my running form, and trying to figure out if everything was working properly. What's my turnover like? Should I extend my stride a little? Of course, at this point in the race there's only about a quarter mile to go, and this is where I got stuck. I know I can't sprint all out for a quarter mile, but I don't want to save anything either. I knew I had a lot in the tank, but I wanted to get closer to the finish line before letting it completely fly.
With about two hundred yards to go I gave it all I had. I could see the clock in front of me without making out any of the numbers on it. If I could have seen the clock from there it would have read something like 4:50. So, as I got to the finish line I was very happy to have run a new personal best 5:19. Of course, I'm only happy for about ten seconds, because now I'm wondering if I could have done even better. Man, we're all such knuckleheads. Never satisfied or grateful for what we have accomplished.
Tim, took third place overall, and first in his age group with a great time of 4:41! What did he win? A five dollar gift certificate to the Dancing Vegan! It's not raw, but it's still cool. Actually, we stopped there on the way back to the track, and asked them if they have any raw dishes. They were happy to say that they do carry some raw onion bread, and usually have some raw salad dishes available.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Does A Runner S**T In The Woods?

After, Pack Monadnock, the legs were feeling very tired. And, not just the legs. I would go out for a run and start breathing heavily right away, and not feel better at any part of the run. I was just plain tired. And, the bad thoughts came creeping in, thoughts like: What are you doing this for? I would have to think for a few seconds for the answer. In the space between those seconds is a lifetime. Who are you now? What are you trying to prove? All those illusions and games my monkey mind plays with me. The insecurities pop up like the devil on my shoulder telling me to just quit. And, day after day, as the running didn't get any easier, I wondered if the body was telling me: "You've had it. You did well for awhile, but now it's over."
Of course it's not over. I'm just getting started, but those are the mental battles that show up now and again. Which is why a meditation practice is so important for me. When these thoughts pop into my head while I'm sitting, I recognize them, I label them for what they are, and then I let them go.
We are so hard on ourselves. Most of us would not have a person in our lives who would talk to us the way we talk to ourselves.

Twelve days after Monadnock I started to feel a little better, but I had know idea how I would do at Northfield.
This USATF Mountain Series is hard and grueling. I just starting running last August and now I'm racing in VERY tough races almost every week. Oh, and did I say, that the races get harder as the series goes on.
Anyway, due to some miscommunication, I picked up Tim a half an hour later than I should have. We barreled down Vermont and Massachusetts country roads trying to make it to the race before the start. We pulled in with about twelve minutes to get our numbers, get to a bathroom and warm up for the race. Oh, and I needed to pick up new trail racing shoes from innov8, as well. -Yes I was pulling another rookie move: wearing new shoes for a race.- Now, for those who are squeamish, you should skip to the next paragraph. I got my number and noticed the bathroom line was quite long, and so I said to Tim: "Is there another bathroom here?" And, he said, "Yeah, the port-o-pottie is next to that tree." Oh man, I don't like doing number 2 in the woods. I don't like doing number 2 anywhere but my house. I'm kind of a no poop in public kind of guy. But, as they said in Ole Yeller, "I got it to do". What's funny is, while I'm doing my business, I'm thinking, being a raw vegan, if a Ranger sees this, is he going to think it's human or a bear, or something?
OK, now I'm feeling better. I start to warm up with my new shoes. They feel fantastic. Great! Five minutes of warm up, and it's line up for the race.

I'm just going to say that I ran a pretty good race. I came in 20TH overall, and the legs and body felt fine. I think I did well by taking it fairly easy between races, which gave my body time to recover.
I am still third Master in the series behind Tim and Dave Dunham, which I think, is pretty good, if I can say so myself.
Stay Positive!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tough Week

It's been a hard week. That's a good thing. No injuries, just tough hard running all week. On Tuesday, Tim Van Orden and I ran up Mt. Equinox in VT. which happens to be the highest elevation climb that I've done. At the summit, the view was absolutely stunning! It was like Christmas Town up there with the evergreens. At the base it was, I think, 75 F., and on top of the mountain it was low 40's. Burr.

On Wednesday, I ran eight miles in the morning, then did a "little" mountain run with Chrissie Constable on October Mt. When I say "little" I don't mean that to sound like some glorified hill, I mean it just didn't have the grade that Tim and I have been doing. It is an excellent work out. If you live in the Berkshires, check out the Switch Back Trail and try it for yourself.

On Wednesday I did an easy five miles, but on Thursday we burned up the track with some 200m repeats.

I was so happy to do this work out because I felt like I was getting away with having an easy interval day. Oh, no! It was some of our hardest track work yet. Here are my times:

1) 31

2)31 1/2

3) 32

4) 32

5) 32 1/2

6) 34

7) 35

8) 35

9) 35

10) 35

On Friday, I did an easy five miles again. Took Saturday off because of the race on Sunday. The 10 mile Pack Monadnock Race is a race conceived of in hell. It is a very hilly road race with a mountain thrown in at the end. For a good description of the race from one of the legends, read Dave Dunham's blog:

Check this out if you want to see the grade of Pack Monadnock (Jim Johnson's times on the graph) :

I am basically pleased with my effort at Pack Monadnock, as I came in 22ND with a very decent time. Although, I can tell you that I made a couple of rookie mistakes. One, I wore racing flats, which destroyed my legs, and two, I was not properly hydrated.

Also, mentally it was a very challenging race. It took everything I had to stay positive during the run. I felt awful, and I didn't care about anything except for it to be over. My mind went to places I didn't want it to go, but I got through it. For the results:

I want to say here that I am incredibly blessed to have the love and support of the best team ever: My wife, Ginger , and Tim.

All in all it was tough, but a very rewarding week.