Thanksgiving Round-Up

turkey-trot-final-logoHappy Thanksgiving, Bonkfighters! I hope all Turkey Trots were wonderful this morning.

Apparently: Shreveport, Houston, Sacramento, Springfield, MO and  Detroit drew a record number of runners for their Trots; the Weather Channel Atlanta Marathon had a record number of runners; the Wilabram, Massachusetts Trot winner also ran the course when he was 11; a couple got engaged at the Trot finish line in Buffalo, a Tampa Boy news outlet offers some that-can’t-be-true-but-I’m-sure-it-is info about calories, running and the average holiday meal; Elizabethtown, KY’s Energy Sport and Fitness hosts a Thanksgiving morning yoga class with admission is only a matter of bringing non-perishable food items for their annual yoga class food drive; and finally, tomorrow, Gold’s Gyms open their doors to the public, free of all charge, for complementary Thanksgiving weekend workouts.

The Rehab Diaries: Ouch

car-crashWhile in Pittsburgh, I got into a car crash. Luckily it wasn’t my doing, and the other driver was insured and apologetic. But, the fact remains that something is wrong with my neck, ny hip, the right side of my torso and lower back. Granted, it could have been far worse– far worse, as I did make my way home to Chicago the following day solo via rental car–but I did get a bit banged up.

I’ll spare you the specifics, but after a visit with trusted Dr. V & The Wellness Crew and some x-rays, I’ve bought myself a one-way ticket to quite a bit of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Quite a bit. Holy cow. It’s a lot, but I need it and I know it.

I’m disappointed; a few days before the accident I ran the strongest and fastest miles of my entire life. But, I’m going to make the best of it, come back stronger and better and just as active and healthy as ever. But, it might suck in the interim. I’ll keep you posted.

On The Road: A (Track and) Field Guide To Pittsburgh

pittsI’m in Pittsburgh to speak/read and since I’m in (as per usual) in full training mode for the St. Jude’s race in Memphis in a few weeks, I scouted out some running options. Luckily, a back-issue (May) of Runner’s World hooked me up.

Pittsburgh Routes:

3.75 mile run: Start at 11th and Smallman Streets and head east on Smallman. Make a right on 21st Street. Turn left on Penn Ave and continue to the fork at 34th street. Turn around and return to the start. You’ll see a statue of a WWI soldier near the turnaround.

4.7 mile run: Head east on the path north of the Allegheny River and east of the 6th Street bridge. Turn right on the footbridge ramp. Follow the trail around the island. Make left turns after the railroad bridge, after the parking lot, and at Waterfront Circle. Turn right to pick up the trail and return to the start.

5.5 mile run: Start at the northeast corner of Carson and Smithfield Streets. Make right turns on the Smithfield St. Bridge, Fort Pitt Blvd., and the Eliza Furnace Trail (the “Jail Trail”). Turn right on the Hot Metal Bridge. Make right turns on Water Street and the dirt path. Make left turns on the South Side Trail and 4th Street Turn right on McKean Street and turn left on 1st St. Take a right on Carson and return to the start.

Local Bonkfighters: People Who Run Pittsburgh


TriZilla, 15 Freeport Rd; Fleet Feet Sports, 1751 N. Highland Road

Elite Runners and Walkers, 5992 Steubenville Pike

Bonkfighter: The Jeff Clark Interview

Jeff Clark is a truck driver. As of this month, he’s been a truck driver for twenty years, as a matter of fact, averaging over 140,000 miles annually. He lives in Kewaunee, WI with his wife, Roxanne, in a log home on the Kewuanee River they built, and together they have a blended family of four children and five grandchildren and they’re prone to taking off on long motorcycle trips when time allows.

In 2005, Clark decided to join a YMCA fitness center with the goal of getting into good enough shape to unload his own truck. Towards the end of that year, he ran a half-marathon. Then, he began working to educate fellow truck drivers about the health risks associated with the position. He was featured earlier this year in the Jan/Feb issue of Road King magazine (“No Spare Tires”), and is author of the book, Hey We’re Dying Out Here: The Truth Behind The Trucker Shortage. To his colleagues, he writes:

As a group of workers we are in deep trouble. Not economically, but physically. Over the road truckers die about 15 years younger than the average American. Statistics say that if an over the road trucker has a heart attack 75% of the time they will die. No second chance, no warning sign, you are dead.

I am not a gifted athlete. I am not some skinny freak. I am a trucker. It hurts to know that many of the hardest working Americans will never enjoy retirement. I want my co-workers to be healthy. We need to exercise the most important muscle in our bodies, our hearts. Let’s get moving.

Bonkless: How did your book, Hey We’re Dying Out Here: The Truth Behind The Trucker Shortage, come about? Is it true you got some encouragemet from Amby Burfoot himself?

Jeff Clark: I read Amby Burfoot’s Runners Guide To The Meaning Of Life. He said that many people gain confidence after finishing a marathon. They do things like write a book. That is when I wrote mine. Amby was very helpful and encouraging. He kind of inspired the book… I emailed John Bingham, my back-of-the-pack hero, about how to encourage other truckers to run. I quoted him the life expectancy stat. He passed it along to Amby. Amby emailed back that it was probably because of all the exhaust fumes and stuff. I thought, “Boy if someone as worldly as Amby has no idea (of the situation and statistics facing the trucking industry), then I should get on my soap box.” He encouraged me when I did my first interview for the January edition of “Road King” magazine. Amby’s great.

B: How do you train while on the road? Where do you find healthy food? Do you follow any particular diet?

JC: I just run. Up to now, I have not done any interval training. I have some places where I like to run, but basically I run wherever I can. I actually have a favorite run in Gary, Indiana… off of exit 9. There is a bike path that heads east out of the truck stops. About a mile later there is a municipal golf course with a sidewalk around it. That is the exercise place for the locals. They all answer when I greet them. Running has become escapism for me on the road. It satisfies the explorer in me too. If a sign says no trucks, that’s the way that I am going. Sure sometimes my run is less than ideal. Every once in a while I find a gem of a route.

There is healthy food every where. The trick is to make the right choices.
B: What do most people probably not know about the trucking industry but should?

JC: How hard we really work. Basically all you do is work and sleep and wait to work. We spend a lot of time at work and not getting paid. The vast majority of truckers drive carefully and care about safety. We would like to get the bad drivers off the road. If we could get some of the worst drivers off the road we might have the leverage to make the roads safer. It is where we work and we want our workplace safe. One thing that most people don’t know is that interstate truck drivers are not subject to fair labor laws. What that means is that drivers may spend up to 7 or  8 hours at work without getting paid. It’s just nuts. What I really try to do is attack the problem from every angle.

B: What is the one piece of gear you can’t live without (iPod, etc)? What brand of shoes do you prefer?

JC: I hate iPods. I like to hear what is going on around me when I run. It would be hard to give back my satellite radio. I have been using Asics 1100 series shoes for a couple of years. At my last marathon 9/21 I developed serious foot pain about 14 miles in and limped it in. It turned out that I have Morton’s Neuroma. It is inflamed nerve endings between the ball of your foot and your toes. It’s more likely to happen to a woman, usually from wearing high-heeled shoes that are too tight. The cause is probably a combination of things. My foot may have swelled a little during the run causing the shoe to tighten. In turn pinching the frontr of my foot together. I think that it has been coming on all year. As a runner I denied the injury and thought that maybe my foot was slightly bruised or something. New Balance makes a shoe to help with that problem. I hope that the shoes solve the prob. They were good today!

B: Ah, excellent. I’m a New Balance devotee myself. What advice would you give to other people in your industry who are looking to make healthy changes?

JC: Start! The human body is incredible in its ability to rebound from years of mistreatment. I’ve always loved sports; I’ve always had really good eye-hand coordination. Basketball and softball were my favorite sports to play and I ran track and cross country at Glenbard West High School. At 5′ 9″ I was just not very tall or fast. I still love to play, but with my schedule playing in a league is impossible.  Really though, by the time I was 16, cars, beer or whatever, and girls became a higher priority. When I started running again in 2005 it just seemed more a part of me. I really enjoy it now. I wanted to be fit, I just never wanted to work at it. I have become more of a student of running. The warm-ups and cool-downs seem to keep me from getting stiff in the truck. After a marathon or half-marathon, I can get pretty stiff; (Jeff) Galloway’s idea of walking at least a half mile after you run works, though.

Clark, determined to spread a message of health and well-being to others in his industry also wrote the following, which he makes available to his fellow truckers, a fine message for beginners, but also an excellent reminder for the veteran marathoner in any industry, as well. He writes:

The best way to start an exercise program is slowly. All of us have started an exercise program and failed. I have. I failed because I overdid it at first. Start slowly. Walk. If, you can only walk for five minutes the first day that is alright. Maybe tomorrow you can walk for 5 ½ minutes. Do not try to increase your distance more than 10 % a week. If you are rubbing ointment on sore muscles, you are doing more than you are capable of.  If this happens, rest for a day. Take it easy. Soreness does not mean that you have to quit. It means that you need to back off. Your body is sending you a message.  It is not ready for the work load that you are giving it, yet.

Relax, you are not preparing for a specific date. You do not have the Olympic trials coming up. Think long term. Short term goals are fine, but long term ones should always take precedence. My goal is to run a marathon when I am 70. I am 49. Yeah, sometimes I don’t always focus on that long term goal. One time I entered a marathon with a badly bruised heel. I pulled up lame after sixteen miles. Every muscle in my body ached because of my limp. I lost sight of that long term goal and the short term one, finishing a marathon, took priority. It was a mistake that took months to recover from.

He continues:

Increase your workload gradually. Do not try to jog until you can walk for half an hour. Once you can walk for half an hour you can mix in a little light jogging. Try to jog for a minute every five or ten minutes.  Steadily increase the amount of time spent jogging. Eventually you will be able to jog for the entire 30 minutes. Don’t push too hard. Once you can run the entire 30 minutes you can increase the length of time that you run. You might want to run every other day.  I walk on my non-running days. You might want to ride a bike if you can carry one with you.

Do some stretching every day. Nothing major, just some simple stretches for your hamstrings, quads and Achilles…. Vary your routine. Run away from truck stops. Many truck stops are a mile or two from small towns. Run towards town and then back. Vary your courses by running in different places. You will find some favorite places to run. Unfortunately time constraints are a constant in our industry so we can’t always run where and when we want. I run when I can. A customer may say that it will take at least an hour to load or unload your freight. That may be the only time you get to run. So do it. There is no shower there.  Yeah, that’s a problem. Here is how I deal with it. Diaper wipes and baby powder. Yes, showers are better but these simple clean up tools work until you can get to a shower. (Plus nothing gets a woman’s attention more than a clean baby. I am married to a grandma, I know!)

So get moving. Every person is different. This program has worked for me. I finished my fourth marathon (26.2 miles) this spring and ran another one this September. So it works.

Jeff Clark, thank you for stopping by Bonkless! Come back and say hello anytime, and keep fighting the bonk!

Fight The Bonk: Airport Gyms

ohare-airportIt was one of those “Of course that has to exist!” sort of moments when I heard about AirportGyms. The site’s selection of US and Canadian gyms to help fight the bonk during a layover is pretty in-depth with a gym in or near just about every airport I checked.  But, I wasn’t satisfied with just a website, so I checked out the gym associated with Chicago O’Hare Airport since I’m, you know, right here.  At $11 for a day pass, it’s not quite a bargain by gym standards, but consider that it’s attached to the airport’s Hilton Hotel and is a pretty nice gym. Then, consider that a soggy airport sandwich is about that much and suddenly it seems like an excellent deal. Ish.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Expo Recap

bofalogoOne of the larger expos I’ve attended, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Expo was, in short, a whopper. Such a whopper, in fact, that it’s taken me a long while to get all the info processed and sorted. but for you, readers dear, twas a worthwhile endeavor. The usual shoe and apparel companies were on hand, certainly, but there were plenty more we don’t see as often I wanted to cover. Check out some of the folks I met while there:

  • Fargo Marathon: “How Far Will You Go?” is their slogan, and I have to tell you, they were super nice people. I have a goal to run a marathon in all fifty states, and North Dakota might be sooner rather than later on that checklist. Marathon, Half-Marathon, 2- and 4-person Marathon Relay, 5k and 1 mile races all available. Rumor has it, the course is one of the most encouraging, as I hear the entire course becomes lined with cheering crowds.
  • Sport Hooks by HeavyMedalz: These folks have a great solution to what on earth to do with these medals we collect. Plus, they offer the cool Run The US Map and pins to make off all the races you’ve run.
  • Lifespeed Sports race medal display stands: Filed under “why didn’t I think of that?” these custom-made wooden planks can be wither free-standing or wall-mounted and display race medals in an uncluttered, organized manner. And I’m all about organized and uncluttered.
  • Go St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend: April 18th & 19th, 2009. Through the course of the weekend, St. Louis hosts a 5k run/walk, a children’s fun run, the Mature Mile Walk, Marathon, Half-Marathon and Marathon Relay. All races benefit Backstoppers, an organization providing financial support to spouses and children of police officers, firefighters, EMTs and volunteer responders who have died in the line of duty. And, I do believe the registration fee is reduced if you register before December 31st.
  • Salute: I chatted with these folks for a while (and later won an iPod Shuffle from their raffle! Thanks, guys!) and learned all about their mission. Salute started in 2003 to help raise awareness and support of issue facing active military personnel, veterans and their families and to provide financial support as needed. I have to admit; I’d not previously considered the financial hardship military families might face. Good organization, nice people. Maybe a good team if you’re considering one of the military marathons, just a thought.
  • US Air Force Marathon: September 19th, 2009 in Dayton, Ohio. I’ll admit it. I’ve always thought the badass-itude that would come along with running the series of military marathons would kind of rule. After chatting with the fine people from the USAF Marathon, I’m even more convinced. Cheering crowds are completely encouraging by most all accounts, but an aircraft flyover? Hello. That’s kind of awesome.
  • Run To Remember: Race to benefit the National Hospice Foundation. Register for their running team for free and start fundraising. Helping this excellent organization is that easy.
  • Maratona di Roma: Mach 22nd, 2009. People, if anyone wants to get a little travel team together, I’m your gal. Imagine! Running around Rome and how cool that would be. Registration is almost half off before November 20th. Marathon Tours has packages that take care of just about everything including entry paperwork, hotel, pre-race dinner, and even waived entry fees if certain conditions are met.
  • BioFreeze: Freeze therapy for topical pain relief. I’ll give it a whirl and report back. Anyone every tried?
  • Team Asha: I’d not heard of this group before, but can appreciate the work they are doing. Team Asha runner raise awareness and funds to help educate underprivileged children throughout India with grassroots education projects. Similar in structure to Team In Training, Team Asha participants received the benefit of group training support throughout the Chicagoland area.
  • Recharge: So this is like most sports drinks, only with no added sugar, no artificial colors, no preservatives, 50% juice and essential electrolytes. I tried the orange flavor and liked the lack of a sugarey aftertaste, and that it’s made by Knudsen’s, whom I like.
  • Little Rock Marathon: March 15th, 2009. Clearly having a very fun time at the expo, the ladies representing the Little Rock Marathon were decked out in circle attire, one with in a red jacket with tails and carrying a whip, another covered in “Kiss Me I’m A Runner” temp tattoos. Their medal is pretty serious, too.
  • Dublin Marathon: October 26th, 2009. My friend Couch Pat (not a typo; I really call him Couch) ran this race and said it was fantastic. Even without his trusted testimonial, I think it’s a great race, if for no other reason than the sheer level of enthusiasm from the folks at the expo.
  • Marathon Hamburg: April 26th, 2009. Again, I’m all about the travel, so I wouldn’t be opposed to making a little travel team for this one. Most of the hills are out of the way early, and I have to admit it would be cool to run in a city founded in 832 of the common era, no?
  • Dallas White Rock Lake Marathon: December 14th, 2008. I’ve run around this lake and it’s absolutely gorgeous. The race benefits Scottish Rite Hospital For Children, which makes it even better.
  • OneAmerica Mini-500 Festival Marathon: Indianapolis promises a fairly flat course, but the real seller on this event is that opportunity to finish inside the Indy 500 Speedway. Which, I have to admit, would be pretty cool, plus the claim of having run the largest half-marathon in the country.
  • AIDS Marathon Training Program: Also similar to Team In Training in structure and training program with the added bonus of guaranteed entry into several awesome races including Amsterdam, Chicago and Honolulu.
  • Sport Beans: I haven’t tried them on a run yet, but I can attest to their hangover relief qualities. More soon after a road test.
  • Gas Cap: Genius! Has anyone used one? I’d love to hear from you, if so. I tried one out, and I feel confident the cap would carry gels without them flopping around. Great idea. I’m keen to get one and try it out.
  • Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathons: I’ve run with this race series before, and it’s pretty cool, I have to say. I learned at the expo that there are special medals for runners who do more than one of their events in a year. Really cool special medals, specifically. So, check out:
  • Marato Barcelona: March 1st, 2009. This would just kick ass all over the place. The course covers just about all the major sights to see in the city, so this seems like it would be a really great race.
  • PAWS Chicago: I had no idea they even offered a running team option for fundraising. I’m all over this, being the animal-lover that I am; PAWS is a great organization.
  • Chevron Houston Marathon: January 17th, 2010. 2009 is sold out already.  Ultimate Guide To Marathons called it the “fastest winter marathon”, “second fastest marathon overall” and the “fourth most crowd-supported marathon”. So, that probably explains why it’s already sold out for ’09.
  • Elations for joint health: A weird raisiny aftertaste, and I’m not wild about a product that requires an askterisk in the product name, but there it is. Wasn’t for me, but might be the Best Thing Ever for you, so I thought I’d give it a mention.
  • Cleveland Marathon: May 17th, 2009 and May 16th, 2010. They’re planning ahead nicely. Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10k, Corporate Team 10k, kids’ run and MetroHealth Wheelchair Challenge.
  • 26.2 With Donna: You’ve probably read Jeff Galloway make mention of this race. One hundred percent of money raised by the event goes to breast cancer research and care. That’s awesome!
  • American Cancer Society Charity Runner Program: Hey, if you’re going to run a particular race anyway, might as well run it for a good cause, right? Right. Hit the website to see if ACS is at an event on your radar, or contact them to see if you can do it anyway.
  • Polar: Dear Polar, make your very, very kick-ass watches useable for Mac users. PC users, go nuts.
  • Peak Performance: Multi-specialty approach to pain relief, corrective care and wellness care, and some of the nicest people around. The stride and gait analysis alone is worth a visit, if not the fun, upbeat atmosphere of the place.
  • Fred’s Team: a marathon program to benefit cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
  • AT Cure Tour: Do you know anything about ataxia-telangiectasia? I didn’t either, I’d never even heard of it, until I met a parent at the marathon expo who is so passionate about raising awareness about the cause. Read all about the very serious fatal genetic  disease which afflicts children, and learn how to incorporate the cause into your fitness fundraising, by hitting the website.
  • 13th Annual Chicago Half-Marathon & 5K: September 13th, 2009. Called one of the top ten half-marathons by Runner’s World, kickass finisher’s medal, great course, 9th largest half-marathon in the US… hello?
  • Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis: December 7th, 2008 in Chicago. So what it’ll be super cold? This race is a great course and it benefits one of the largest causes of disability in the US.
  • Nuun: Electrolyte replacement, sugar-free, and comes in a small tablet form that you simply drop into water. Hmm… eco-friendly and very delicious. I suggest the kona cola flavor.
  • Bermuda Triangle Challenge: January 16-18, 2009. Three races in three days– Invitational Mile on Friday, 10k Run/Walk on Saturday and Bermuda Marathon or Half-Marathon in Sunday. The “survivor” medal is super-cool, and the challenge is limited to 400 entrants. I’m keen to try, for sure. Plus, Bermuda in Janaury..? Um, yes. Marathon Tours takes care of just about everything. Check ’em out. There are other kick-ass races in their future, too.
  • Sistas Shirts: No website yet, but the shirts rule. Home of the “In my mind, I am a Kenyan” t-shirt. Watch for ’em.
  • Jack’s Fund: Both a small race in Chicagoland and a marathon team all over, this great organization rases money and awareness to benefit the Jack H. Marston II Melanoma Fund.
  • Marathon de Paris: April 5, 2009. See above, then add that this race starts on the Champs-Elysees.
  • Austin Marathon: February 15th, 2009. Ah, memories. If you’ve never been, check it out. Pretty, semi-hilly course, gorgeous, natural city that is live-music crazy.
  • Team World Vision: This is a great organization, truly. TWV raises funds for bicycles that provide access to health care, education and economic opportunities for children, adults and entire communities in Africa through partnership with World Bicycle Relief. Next event: Solvang Century and Half-Century, March 14th, 2009.
  • Reykjavik Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10K: August 22, 2009. So what if we can hardly pronounce the name of the city three times fast? How often do you get to say you ran a race in Iceland? That’s what I thought.
  • Imerman Angels/Imerman Active: Imerman Angels is an organization which connects a person undergoing cancer treatment with a person who has survived the same type of cancer, or past and present caregivers, for unique personal support that is always free. Imerman Active is an event team to raise funds for the organization.
  • Cabo Half-Marathon: January 25th, 2009 in Cabo San Lucas. I think the event name speaks for itself.
  • Team Care: Running team to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Association. Contact Kim Oakley for more info at kim (dot) oakley (at) alz (dot) org.
  • Sao Paulo International Half Marathon Corpore: April 5th, 2009. If you can’t make it to the Parisian Marathon in the same day, perhaps this one instead. The day prior, Sao Paulo hosts the major Latin American sports and running expo fair. So there’s that, too.
  • Larabar: Gluten-free, kosher vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, no added sugar, raw, non-GMO. People, this might be the bar to please just about everyone. Being the fan of all things spicy that I am, I’m partial to the Cocoa Mole, personally.
  • Livestrong/Lance Armstrong Foundation: We’ve all seen the little yellow bracelets. But have you read the manifesto?
  • Team In Training was at the expo, of course. I have nothing but love TnT and strongly encourage everyone to consider running, cycling or walking just one event for this organization. I went to my first informational meeting injured and out of practice and firmly believe I ran my first marathon, about five months later, due only to Team in Traning and willpower. (Ok, and maybe stubborness.)

Aaaand, there you have it. I hit the tables (not all by any means, but most) and chatted up vendors and jotted notes all afternoon, all so I could bring it here to you, readers dear. Got a race expo coming soon to your area? Drop me a note and we’ll talk about guest post expo coverage. Until then, fight the bonk, bonkfighters!

Bonkfighters: Yes We Can!

obama_yes_we_canWithout regard to the policies and merits of the candidate for whom you did or did not vote; this is a great story:

About an hour ago, I met a woman at the gym who is seventy-one and training for her first marathon. She was on the treadmill next to me, and we struck up a conversation during my cool-down. “Have you done a marathon, honey? You’re fast.” she said to me.

“Thanks. Uh, sure,” I said, “I’ve run a lot of races. How about you?”

“I’m not very fast, but I’m training for my first marathon. I just want to finish it!”

“Good for you! What made you decide to do a marathon?” I asked. I always ask this because I love asking this question of people, as the answers are always inspiring and warm-fuzzied. Even so, the answer I was about to get is now my new favorite.

The woman grinned this gorgeous smile and laughed and told me about all sorts of things she’s seen in her seventy-one years, and pointed out moments of racism and sexism she’d encountered in her life, and some work she did during the Civil Right Movement and how sometimes, years later, something negative or set-backy would happen and she’d wonder if it made any difference at all. Then, she said that she felt so young and so happy to see Obama run for President– much less win, and felt so much had been worthwhile, that she wanted to do something off of her “big to do list” to celebrate. So, she’s going to walk the Chicago Marathon next year.

(I realize there’s no crying at the gym, but I’m not made of stone, people.)

After all of this lovely conversation, I left only to realize I didn’t even catch her name. Fight the bonk, awesome, feisty, joyful, seventy-one-year-old woman at the gym. Fight the bonk.

I hope I see her at the gym again, and I really hope I see her at the Chicago Marathon finish line next year.