Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sub-2 Hour Marathon in 2015?

Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia), 2:03:59, Berlin Marathon, 2008

Dr. David Martin, a statistician with The Association of International Marathons (AIM), has predicted that, if the world record times for marathons continue to improve at the present rate, the 2 hour marathon will be shattered as early as 2015 (source Running Room Magazine, p.8, January/ February, 2009).
The doubters said that Haile Gebrselassie's 2.04.26 marathon achieved on September 30, 2007 was the height of human endurance and to go faster was simply impossible.
Fast forward to September 28, 2008 when
Haile shattered his own record with a time of 2.03.59, a full 27 seconds better than his previous world time. His pace? A staggering 4.44 m/m average pace! Haile won the AIM's prestigious Fastest Time Award, twice, back to back, in the space of 12 months! An achievement AIM president, Hiroaki Chosa, called "astonishing". Regrettably, Haile was unable to beat his record in Dubai on January 18, 2009, missing a $1 000 000 incentive offered by the Dubai government to break his own record. He did, however, manage to take home a cool $250 000 prize for winning the race.
For a point of reference, Paul Tergat (Kenya) was the first person to break the 2.05 marathon in 2003, a record he held until 2008, and John Haynes (USA) set the world record in 1908 with a marathon time of 2.55.18. The point is records are states of mind. The doubters say, "no, never", and the dreamers say "yes, maybe tomorrow, maybe me".
On May 6, 1954 another record, equally daunting as the 1.59.59 marathon, was set. At the time the 4 minute mile was deemed impossible. Medical experts of the day claimed the heart would "explode" and to subject the human body to that much stress was "tantamount to suicide". Similar to the 1.59.59 marathon, the 4 minute mile captured the imagination of the world.
The pundits predicted that, if it were possible, the conditions would need to be ideal and the audience would need to be huge to spur the runner to achieving the impossible 4-minute mile.
On a wet, windy day, with poor conditions and small crowds, Roger Bannister, from Oxford
England, ran a 4 minute mile. He achieved the impossible because he believed no barrier existed. His achievement was received world wide as though the impossible had been achieved, and indeed it had.
After smashing the 2 hour, 5 minute marathon in 2003, Paul Tergat suggested we are getting close to the limit of marathon speed. He said "I believe that records are set to be broken and to fall lower is possible, but what remains impossible is running a marathon in under two hours.’ Then, with a smile, he added: "Maybe time will chide me."
A sub 2 hour marathon in my life time? I say yes!
A sub 4 hour marathon for me in 2009? I say, with focus and training, yes!
To dream. To achieve. To accomplish the impossible.
Happy training. Dream on!

Oh, one other thing, the pace needed to break 2 hours? An average of 4:33.8 minute/ miles.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Running Slows the Aging Clock

I happened upon this gentleman about one mile into the Twin Cities Marathon. As I passed him I asked "Can you give me any advice" to which he replied "Sure, whatever you do, don't start out too fast." Too bad I didn't heed his good advice. His name is Burt Carlson, age 83, and Twin Cities Marathon was his 300th slow dance. On December 5, 2008, he completed his 301st marathon at the Reggae Marathon in, where else, Jamaica.
Here's the race results of the 80+ category of Twin Cities Marathon 2008, one woman and three men ranging in age from 80 to 85, all simply amazing individuals. Joy Johnson, age 81, time 6:14:12, Jerry Johncock, age 80, time 3:59:12 (No, I'm not upset that an 80 year old has achieved my dream goal, no sir not me :>). Lloyd Young, age 85, time 5:00:35, Burt Carlson, age 83, time 5:57:41.
Stanford University School of Medicine recently completed a
20 year study involving 538 runners over the age of 50 and compared them to a similar group of non-runners. The subjects are now all in their 70's and 80's and the results of the study are encouraging for runners.
After 20 years 34% of the non-runners had died while only 19% of the runners had passed. The study found that both groups, the runners and non-runners, eventually became more disabled, but for the runners the onset of disability started much later, on average, about 16 years later! The study also found that the general ability level between the two groups became larger over time, meaning the runners stayed healthy longer while the non-runners lost physical and cognitive ability earlier. There was significantly fewer cardiovascular deaths and other deaths such as cancer, neurological, and infections. The running group had better eating habits and their overall outlook was more positive than the non-runners. Finally, a side study by the same group showed running was not associated with greater rates of osteoarthritis in elderly runners. Runners also do not require more total knee replacements than non-runners.
To summarize, runners live longer, have a better quality of life in later years, are happier, hold on to their physical and cognitive abilities longer, and don't experience greater than normal knee and hip difficulties. I'd say this is nothing short of win-win.
I leave you with this video of Joy Johnson. If you're not inspired, check your pulse... you may be expired.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

George Carlin and Goal Setting

What does George Carlin have to do with setting goals? Surprisingly, quite a bit. Before I explain the Carlin connection let me tell you my goals for 2009.
1) Run a sub-four hour marathon.
2) Log 1261 miles (1 more mile than 2008... just to prove that I still have it ;>).
3) Run a spring and fall marathon.
Nothing too surprising here. These goals are a variation of goals set by millions of runners... run stronger, run faster, have fewer injuries, run greater distances, eat better, lose weight, gain core strength.... they're all honorable goals and we should stand proud, but do you ever feel something's missing? That's where Carlin comes in.
George Carlin wrote that the role of the comedian is "to find the line in the sand and take a giant step past it". He was all about ruffling feathers and causing the establishment to squirm. He was forever pushing the boundaries and nudging people out of comfortable, preconceived notions. He made us think bigger than the times we were living in
and, no coincidence, we had a few laughs along the way. Carlin wrote the following passage shortly after his wife died. In typical Carlinesque style he reminds us to think bigger than ourselves and our pedestrian aspirations, to run past the line in the sand.
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done
larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stock room. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
George Carlin died on June 22, 2008 from heart failure. He was 71.
To the previously mentioned three goals for 2009 I add the following:
4. To love more.
5. To hate less.
6. To apologize when I have done wrong.
7. To find the line in the sand and run beyond.
Thank you to my perfect sister, Judith, and her beautiful partner, Heather, for their continued inspiration. Michael

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ghost Bikes

Ghost Bikes are junk bicycles that are spray painted white and locked to a post close to where a cyclist was killed or seriously hurt by a vehicle. A handmade plaque is attached and flowers adorn the bike. They are intended as a stark reminder for passing motorists to share the road. Ghost bikes are usually erected by bicycle advocacy groups such as Winnipeg's Bike To the Future. The Ghost Bike concept originated in San Francisco in 2002 as an art project, but the Ghost Bike Memorial Project evolved from an incident in St. Louis, Missouri in October 2003. After witnessing a cyclist being killed by a vehicle, Patrick Van Der Tuin placed a white bike next to the spot with a hand painted sign reading "Cyclist Struck Here". It was his way of expressing grief for what he had witnessed. The project has since spread to major cities throughout the world. Our city's first and only Ghost Bike is located close the Old Market Square in the Exchange District (not sure if it's an art project or memorial). Like many of you, I've noticed the bike, but I didn't understand the significance until last evening at a family gathering when the discussion arose. Toronto has four Ghost Bikes, Edmonton has seven.
Why 'bike talk' on a runners' blog?
I straddle the two communities, running and cycling, and both groups need frequent reminders to ride safe, to run safe. To my cycling friends and my running friends careful out there, don't become a ghost. To the motorists, share the road and ... do the test.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolution Run 2009

It was a good day to be alive!
:) nu yr 2 u
(click pictures to enlarge)