Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Knocked For a Loop
Yesterday morning, I was working at the Y and during one of the kid's soccer classes, the older sister of one of the participants walked in. What made this remarkable was that as she pushed the door open, the soccer ball shot cleanly past her and down the hall. One of the other coaches headed down the hall to get the ball. I peeked out the window and once he had the ball, I opened the door. The ball shot back in and the game resumed.
A very merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
E-mail From Another Running Fan
The "Footsie" is finished for the year! Still looking for details but Craig apparently let it get away, slipping back to 8th or worse before a furious finish fell just short of the winner. Eager to see a video.
Big suprise with the girls. I saw the southern duo who smoked the field when I was in Charlotte visiting my daughter for Thanksgiving. Kroeger is a really lean little blonde; skitters along like a bug. After running neck and neck with Scott through most of that race, she gave way to her. Kroeger said she was saving herself for San Diego. She has now proven herself big time. I wonder how Ashley did; no better than 8th behind the big favorite, Hasay.
The preview video showed the course to be very dusty. Would hate to eat that while running back in the pack.
Did you watch any the Iron Man today? The greatest sports story I have ever seen: Dick Hoyt and son. Maybe you know of them since they have been competing for 30 years together. The son is severely crippled with CP but loved being pushed by his father in a wheelcair 5 km so much it inspired Dick to go big time. Dick is now 66 years old, son is 44 and they do the triathlon! Dick tows him in a raft for the swim, carries him on the handle bars in the bike and the final pushchair marathon must be the easiest leg! They should make this story of great love and determination better known to the world.
I love this stuff! Craig Forys ran well, and his blazing finish is testimony to his great strength as a runner. I have a suspicion that he's going to take a serious crack at becoming the fifth high school four-minute miler. He is an absolute monster runner. While he may have misjudged how much room he needed to close, I have little doubt that a bit more distance and he'd have been banging heads with Chad Hall for the win. It didn't happen, and it can't be changed, but misjudgements are a part of racing. In today's Star-Ledger, Jim Lambert had an article, in it, he quoted Forys saying, "I have nothing to be disappointed about. At the top of the last hill, even though I was 40 meters behind (Hall and Murdock) and felt that winning was a long shot, I told myself that this is the last 800 meters of my high school cross-country career and it was time to man up. I left it all out there. Hall ran great and deserved to win." I think that quote describes the best thing about running, respect for your competitor. Not that trash-talk never happens, but it's usually pretty rare, especially among top level athletes, simply because they know how much work it takes to get to that level.
The Ironman (and I apologize to people who do Ironmans) is THE one that matters. I remember years ago seeing a short (about 3 paragraphs) on the first (I think) Ironman in Sports Illustrated while I was in a doctor's office. There are several events in Ironman history that I distinctly recall. The Hoyts are pretty much a fixture at the Ironman. I had the pleasure of meeting the Hoyts in Boston last year, and it was a highlight of my visit. Dick's a real gentleman, but I can't really say the same about Rick. His limitations make it tough to really know. They are inspiring to watch, and seeing Dick care for Rick is seeing true love in action. Maybe it will be rerun over the winter.
Finding people who share the same interests is always a pleasure. For this, I'm glad to have found Tom.
Friday, December 08, 2006
I grew up in Colts Neck, NJ, where the school for whom both Craig Forys and Ashley Higginson run is located. Needless to say, I have some interest in the outcome of this race. Forys won both the NJ State Meet (aka Meet of Champions or officially the All-Group Meet), and the Footlocker Northeast Meet. Higginson is in an interesting position, as she's spent much of her running career in the shadows, behind Southern Regional's Danielle Tauro and sometimes behind schoolmate and child running star Briana Jackucewicz. The result has been that while she's a fine runner and multi-time state champ, Tauro has often kept her off the radar screens. This is likely a blessing AND a curse, as it means she's able to prepare for races without the interruptions of reporters and fans, but she also doesn't get the level of respect and recognition that she deserves. In the last few weeks, she's popped out of the shadows, finishing fourth at Footlocker NE, and finishing first at Nike Team Nationals.
Part of Higginson's popping out of the shadows is because at Footlocker Northeast, Tauro collapsed twice during the race, dropping from fourth to tenth in the final 60 meters. She and her coach decided to end her season after a diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis. (My speculation is that after some time off in the early season due to summer racing, Tauro rushed her preparation for the late season races and wasn't as muscularly strong as was needed. Her drive permitted her to keep racing, but at the NE race, the damage was severe enough that her body shut down.) When you look at some of the effects of this condition, things like kidney damage, no race is worth that, so I agree with their decision, even though it took away someone I love to root for.
Meanwhile, at the Honolulu Marathon, Dan Dillon, whom I count as a friend, will be running his first marathon since his eighth place finish at Boston in 1985. Having run with Dan a bit this summer, I'm confident he's ready. Dan is strong, he's fast, and his recent training leads me to believe he's again durable. Dillon's recent 26:07 at the Manchester Road Race won him the 50+ age-group, until Dan corrected race organizers that he's only 49! (AARP must wait!) So, I'll try to watch both as the morning progresses. Hawaii's 5:00AM start means that he'll finish sometime before 1:00PM my time (if my math was right and his plan holds together). Footlocker's starts are at 9:15 (girls) and 10:00 (boys). Results from both should come available at about the same time, thus, I'm torn by needing to try to watch for both more or less at once.
Edit: OOPS! Footlocker is Saturday! In the words of Emily Latella, "Never Mind!"
Thursday, December 07, 2006
A Day That Will Live in Infamy
Something that is often forgotten in the basic telling of the history of the Second World War was the terrible price paid by the Russians. The US and Britain fought in north Africa, then moved on to Italy, but during this time, the Nazis attacked Russia, and the Russians, virtually alone had to fight to protect their homeland. They retreated and gradually as the winter of 1942-43 became progessively colder, the Russians made a stand at Stalingrad. The US was providing assistance in the form of materiel, but no people. Stalin screamed and Roosevelt and Churchill stalled. Eventually the cold of winter caused the Nazi's mechanized army to grind to a halt. But the Russians paid a massive price. Stalingrad was reduced to rubble, and millions of Russians died.
Now, as the 65th anniversary of the incident that brought the United States in World War II passes, our soldiers are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever your feeling about the war there, I urge you to use this anniversary to take a moment to pray for their safety and to ask yourself if there is anything you can do to ease the burden of the those soldiers or their families.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
NYC Bans Trans-Fats
The basic structure of the ban is as follows: use of hydrogenated oils for frying or as an added ingredient is prohibited as of July (2007); then a year later, the synthetic trans-fats are banned from any presence in foods.
What did I just say? Let's look at the french (should that be capped?) fry as an example. If a restaurant buys prepared french fries, then in about 6 months, they are prohibited from using hydrogenated oils to fry in. The fry may still contain some trans-fats because the factory that prepared it may have used hydrogenated oil to improve handling or flavor characteristics. A year later, that french fry can't contain even that small amount of trans-fat.
What does this mean in real terms? Fats come in solid and liquid forms, and there are differences between how the two behave, feel in your mouth, etc. There are also flavor differences between various fats. Most of us are familiar with trans-fats as the can of Crisco (or equivalent) in the cabinet that we use for baking. You can't make a flaky pastry without solid fats. This ban likely means that in some applications, lard or other animal fats will be substituted for the hydrogenated vegetable fats. This has implications for those who have dietary restrictions due to religious, health, or personal belief issues.
In other applications, the impact on flavor is a factor. I understand that from a flavor viewpoint, it's usually possible to use an non-hydrogenated version of an oil and retain the same flavor. There may be slight flavor differences if hard fats are required, though I suspect that food and flavor technologies have advanced to a level where they will be almost undetectable.
Further, I've heard that while non-hydrogenated hard fats are costlier than their hydrogenated cousins, they are normally absorbed less and don't break down as fast in use. This means two things, first, lower actual costs of use (though higher start-up costs) and a healthier product due to lower oil absorbtion and thus, lower calorie products. I suspect that there is a bit of untruth there, fat tastes good to us, and so some restaurants will likely choose oil blends that are more readily absorbed, thus, the absorbtion reduction will be compromised by restaurant choice in exchange for improved taste.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Chariots of Fire
Monday, December 04, 2006
Higginson's win may have been possible in part due to Betsy Bies, last year's overall winner, losing a shoe. Those of us who have been around running for a while know that unless you're with the leaders, the opportunity for a win won't happen at all, so, you have to be there. Putting it simply, Higginson couldn't have won if she wasn't running with the leaders (and by implication, trained and mentally prepared to take advantage of situations as they develop). Schlentz seems to do an extraordinary job of preparing his athletes, and with two Footlocker finalists this year, it's paying off.
Yesterday, I received an e-mail pointing out that the Northeast seems to be the best region right now in terms of competitiveness, at least among the girls. On the girls side at NTN, the #1, #2, & #4 teams were from the northeast. On the boys side, the top team was also from the northeast, but then it was 6th until the next team I recognized as northeastern appears.
Friday, December 01, 2006
An Interesting Experiment
Got the link, here!