Category Archives: Running

Athing Mu!

Athing Mu won the 800 m this morning.  Wonderful dominant race – she won from wire to wire.  I get that track and field is not super interesting to most people, especially the middle distance.  But Mu is amazing in a way we have not seen from an American in decades.  She should be on the front page of every paper in the country today.  New national record – 1:55.21.  Every bit as impressive as Ledecky’s achievements this Olympics in swimming.

In other news, “many” cities are reintroducing mask mandates, which, of course, are of dubious value at this point.  New York City?  Nope.  They have a mask recommendation (which I have no problem with, and of course individual businesses can require masks).  Instead, NYC is mandating vaccines for its city employees.  Furthermore, it was announced today that they will mandate vaccination for indoor dining and gyms.

Yes, yes, yes!

No, no, no to the mask mandates for vaccinated people.  Yes, yes, yes to vaccine mandates.

Also yes to vaccine boosters.  WV is leading the way once again by starting to test antibody levels in its citizens who are fully vaccinated.  (WV had a well-organized vaccine program when you couldn’t get one just across the border in SW Virginia for love or money.)  Yes, I am aware that there is not a one-to-one relationship between protection from Covid and antibody levels, but this should be great day.

Brief T&F viewing guide

Are you watching the Olympics?  Here is my brief guide to events of interest:

1.) Women’s 800 m Final, Tuesday 8/2 5:25 am Pacific

Thanks in part to the banning of XY athletes with untreated testosterone levels, the women’s 800 m is back, and the US has a new star, Athing Mu.  She was breathtaking in the semis, and I can’t wait to see how she does in the final.  Mu is only 19, and I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a US middle distance runner.  If you have a chance to watch the semi, it’s worth your time.

Mu is the daughter of Sudanese immigrants, and one of seven children.  I can’t understand why she hasn’t been getting more press.

2.) Women’s 3000 m Steeplechase final, Wednesday 8/4 @ 4:00 am Pacific

Emma Coburn has an Olympic bronze and a gold and silver in this event from the world championships.  She’s one of the US’s best (and only) chances for a long-distance medal.  The steeplechase is also kind of interesting to watch if it’s new to you.  It’s a long distance event with a water pit and hurdles.

3.) Women’s 1500 m final, Friday August 6 @ 5:50 am Pacific

Sifan Hassan is trying to achieve an unprecedented triple – the 1500, 5000 and 10,000.  (The word “unprecedented” is wildly and annoyingly and inaccurately overused.  But this actually IS unprecedented, in the sense that it’s never been done.  The last similar achievement was winning three track golds in 1952.  Hassan fell in the 1500 qualifiers but got through anyway.  I highly suggest you watch that race and also check out the final.  In addition, Elle Purrier of the US has a real chance at a medal.  Here’s a link to the qualifier.

4.) Women’s 10,000 m final, August 7 at 3:45 AM Pacific

The 10,000 m final is always a brutal race.  It’s also an amazing race that usually includes top performers from all over the globe.  Long distance running (unlike even sprints or soccer) requires no particular wealth or privilege, and so it’s arguably the most competitive sport there is.  It’ll be a long shot for Emily Sisson to medal here, but it’ll be a great race regardless.

5.) Women’s Marathon August 6th, 3:00 pm Pacific

The marathon will be in Hokkaido this year to avoid the heat, but it’ll still be scorching.  The Olympic marathon is always unpredictable.  The big money marathons during the year tend to be flat and fair-weathered.  You usually get a more interesting race at the Olympics as a result.

6.) Women’s High Jump – August 7th, 3:35 AM Pacific

If you’ve never watched a high jump competition, you should definitely check it out.  It’s incredible to watch these very tall skinny athletes fly over the bar.  The Russians and Eastern Europeans and former Soviet states tend to be the best at this event, but it’s fun watching every athlete progressively try to reach higher levels.  Mariya Lasitskene, the favorite from Russia, is shown.

 

 

thoughts on weight and elite running

I read today about yet another professional female runner diagnosed with an eating disorder.  She stated on her Insta that she’s entered treatment and is hospitalized.

Which sucks.

There’s a popular hastag on Instagram, #strongnotskinny.  The biggest proponent is probably Allie Kieffer, and female 10K / marathon runner whose best result was 4th place in the New York Marathon.  Allie Kieffer’s theory is that she was injured due to being too thin.  And that may be true.

The problem is that when you look at the best 10K runners and marathoners, they are very thin.  They are, in fact, emaciated.

First of all, most women – like not almost all – cannot maintain that weight healthily.  Most women will experience amenorrhea, which results in bone density loss and all kinds of other problems.   My theory is that everyone has a healthy minimum weight, and for most women, that healthy minimum weight will disqualify them from being an elite runner as much as an average VO2max.

Even for women who are in the minority that can maintain a weight like that and be healthy – and such women do exist; they are the ones who win – the mental part is huge, particularly for people living in the United States.  It is really hard to maintain the level of emaciation necessary for elite long distance running success while living in the US, especially for women, without developing mental issues.

And so a HUGE percentage of elite women runners develop eating disorders.  It’s hard to know how many, but some suggest that it’s on the order of 50%.

I don’t know what the solution is.  But there are a few obvious things.  For a start, weight should never, ever be mentioned to high school athletes, male or female.  With rare exceptions (like, perhaps, wrestling), female college athletes should not be talking about weight either.  Pretty much, no woman under 21 should be thinking about her weight.

After 21, there may be occasions on which it’s appropriate for female athletes to lose weight.  (It’s notable that one of the athletes pictured above elevated her running to the next level after getting a breast reduction.)  But the benefits of the weight loss obviously have to be weighed against the risk of developing mental issues or eating disorders.

Then, today I was watching a documentary on Dara Torres.  In case you have forgotten, she is a SWIMMER.  Her college coach badgered her to lose weight.  Honestly, it just makes me sick hearing about it.  Weight isn’t even particularly important in swimming.  Look at the best swimmers – they aren’t skinny!  They are large and muscular and have fat on their bodies, too.

running in the time of Covid

I’m fortunate that my number one hobby these days is mostly compatible with Covid restrictions.

(I’m also fortunate that I don’t live in, say, Ireland, where there has been a rule in place across the entire country that you may not venture more than FIVE KILOMETERS from your home for the last several months.  Insane, especially when you consider that Ireland, which bears many similarities to Western Washington, has a significantly higher death rate per capita.)

Mask guidelines are perhaps the biggest challenge.  Here in WA, you are supposed to wear a mask if you cannot maintain six feet of distance outdoors.  Normally, I barely even notice wearing a mask.  It doesn’t restrict my breathing in any way.  However, at an easy jog, it becomes annoying.  At a moderate effort, I feel decidedly oxygen-limited and uncomfortable, and at a hard effort or race pace, I feel like I’m suffocating.  I have always been a huffer and puffer, so I don’t know if I find it harder than some others, as I do see runners with masks fairly regularly.  In any case, I’ve mostly abandoned the scenic lakeside trail I used to run on, and have expanded my horizons and found less popular, wider trails to run on.   When it’s raining heavily and in the 30s, I return to my old favorite trail and enjoy it in solitude.

Races are interesting.  Currently, up to 600 people may race in a day.  However, the specifics of HOW the DOH guidelines are interpreted vary from race organizer to race organizer.

1.) Some race organizers say they must start the slowest people first.  Others start the fastest people first.  Others say they are supposed to purposefully spread people of similar speed across the start times.

2.) Some race organizers say you must wear a mask before and after the race – masks only, no gaiters allowed!  Another race organizer requires all runners to wear a gaiter around their neck throughout the race that they can pull up over their face as needed.  (I bought a gaiter so I could run races put on by this group.)

3.) Some race organizers say day of race packet pickup is not allowed due to Covid.  Others say ONLY day-of-race packet pickup is allowed due to Covid.

Most races here are run since Covid are run by outfits that run eight or more races a year.  Independent races have mostly disappeared.  This makes sense, because it’s become a lot more complicated to put on a race, and there’s a lot of up-front work that needs to be done only once, making it much harder to put on your FIRST race.  I’m planning to run a 5K this weekend put on by an independent group, and I’m a little nervous about how it’ll go as they don’t seem as organized as the professionals.

I’m grateful WA state is having races.  Many states aren’t.  I see runners on Instagram traveling to Florida and Texas and Arizona to race when they can’t race in their home states.  It seems to me to make more sense to set out guidelines for safe racing, as WA has done, than to have your runners getting on planes and racing in states that have lax guidelines.  (Mid-size races in TX and FL are nearly back to normal at this point, though very large races are still not happening.

Winter running attire – 2020 edition

Winter is here and with it, the joy of cool weather running.  Since I’m still doing the stay-at-home mom gig, winter running has been much warmer so far.  Running in mid-morning gives me a good ten degrees over running at the crack of dawn, as I’ve done in past years.

While a cold gray day or rain makes it a lot harder to run, I think correct attire makes all the difference.  I can’t claim to know much about running at temperatures under 30 F, but for cold, gray rainy days, I feel like I’ve got things dialed in.

1.) Start by buying an indoor-outdoor thermometer.  Everyone is different in terms of attire preferences, but the best way to dial in your own choices are to at least know how warm or cold it is.  Online weather services are often off by up to five degrees, which is huge.  I received mine as a gift, but it looks a like like this one.   At this point, we have two indoor-outdoor thermometers, and I always look at it before dressing to go running.

50 F +

If it’s not raining or extremely windy, temperatures 50 and higher, even if it’s overcast, call for shorts and short sleeves.  Since motherhood, I mostly wear tight shorts, but any kind of shorts will do.

These shorts from Lululemon are have a pocket big enough for my phone at the back of the waist (where I prefer to carry it) and side pockets on the shorts for a key.  They’re quite stretchy.

For loose shorts, I’m a fan of Zoot.

I really like these short-sleeve Nike running tops.

If it’s rainy or windy, I add gloves and/or a very lightweight headband that I can take off once I warm up.

High 40s

If the temperature is in the high 40s, I consider switching to capri tights and will generally bring along a lightweight headband.  I prefer my Capri tights short – just below the knee, ideally.  Oiselle sells a number of “knickers” that meet this spec.

If it’s windy or rainy, I’ll probably switch to a long-sleeve half-zip top.  NOT quarter-zip, not one-third zip – a full half-zip, so I can unzip it fully if I get warm, which I usually do.  One of my pet peeves if retailers selling “half zip” tops that are really quarter zip.  A half zip top should unzip at least to the midpoint between the collar bone and belly button.  I love my Sugoi half zip tops, but unfortunately, they are no longer sold.  This Lululemon top meets all my specs – tru half zip, thumb sleeves, pockets (to store gloves and headband), not too short, too tight, or too long.

Low to mid 40s

Often, in the low 40s, capri tights plus a LS half zip top, gloves, and a headband are sufficient to keep me warm. However, if it’s raining or threatening rain, I sometimes like to wear a lightweight water-resistant vest and a hat with a brim, or a visor.  (I have a different lululemon vest that’s no longer sold – mine may be a bit more lightweight than this one.  The more lightweight, the better.)  Keeping the rain off my face makes a huge difference.

Around 40 degrees

At around 41 or 42, I switch to full-length tights.  I am a fan of the Epic Lux line by Nike.  Like Lululemon and Amazon, Nike has free shipping and, crucially, free returns.  I don’t remember paying this much for my Nike tights – maybe they’ve raised their prices?  It looks like they’ve added some pockets, so they’re not quite the same as the ones I own.

If it’s raining with the temperature around 40, I like to wear a super-lightweight Gore-tex jacket without a hood.  Vents a must-have feature.  The Patagonia jacket I own is still available on eBay, and if you live in a cool rainy climate, it’s a 1000% worth it.  Note that it comes in men’s and women’s sizes, so make sure you know which you’re buying.

Near 40 degrees, I like to add a more robust headband, like this one.  It’s a couple layers and makes a big difference.

Low to mid 30s

When the weather drops into the 30s, I like to switch to Sugoi MidZero tights.  Be careful to buy *mid*zero tights, not SubZero tights, which are for much colder temperatures.   Near 30 degrees, I might add a light layer over the tights if it feels particularly chilly due to wind or something like that.

In the 30s, I switch from a headband to a hat.

We rarely have temperatures below around 30.  If it gets that cold, I just stay home.

convalesce

We’re on Day 5 or so of a cold.  Maybe only 4.  It’s funny how the days seem longer when either you or baby is sick, or both of us in this case.  It’s supposedly a very mild cold, but it’s still quite difficult when layered on top of what is not exactly a leisurely lifestyle.  Currently baby is sleeping on my chest.  I often try to do a little sewing at times like this, but I’m just not feeling up to it today, so my everlasting quilt is stagnating this week.  Not having sick days is very high on my list of things I dislike about being a SAHM.  If I were working, I would definitely have taken a couple days off this week to convalesce.

I’m currently going through a minor English Paper Piecing obsession.  As in, I’d really like to try it, but because I have almost zero free time right now, it’s a purely theoretical obsession.   I am mentally planning a very simple quilt with a *little* bit of EPP for my brother’s baby, expected in August.  (I’m so happy for him, as it’s a double rainbow.)   He and my SIL do not find out gender in advance, so it needs to be gender neutral.  I’m thinking squares on point, perhaps in white or mostly white, with a simple hexagonal flower appliqued on top, probably in blue.  Hand sewing is where it’s at for me these days.  I’m even contemplating doing some hand quilting.

This weekend is the marathon Olympic trials.  In my opinion, it’s the women’s race of the year.  (Men’s marathoning isn’t in a great place right now in the US.)  I’m more excited about it than the Olympics.  I’ll be cheering for Jordan Hasay and Sara Hall, not to mention all the sub-elite women who are living a dream by merely competing.

track and field and qatar

It’s been a great week for track and field, and for American track and field in particular, with both the World championships going on, and the Berlin marathon (one of the top 5 marathons in the world.)

A few of the great things that have happened:

1.) Kenenisa Bekele missed setting a new world record by a mere 2 s.  I’ve been a fan for a long time, and I knew he had it in him!  So yay.   He’s been plagued by injuries but finally had an amazing race.

2.) Sarah Hall, who I’ve been cheering for for nearly 20 years, set a huge PR and ran 2:22 at Berlin.  Basically, as a marathoner, she moved from the pack to being one of the top three or so in the US, and top 10 US marathoners all time.  Awesome!

3.) Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price won the women’s 100 m with a very fast time a year after giving birth by C-section.

4.) Allyson Felix won a relay gold medal 10 months after giving birth.

5.) Roberta Groner, basically an unknown American, placed 6th in the marathon.

However, holding the WCs in Doha, Qatar has been an utter disaster.  Consider the following:

1.) It is way too hot in Qatar.  The marathon was run in 90 degree heat with a “feels like” temperature of over 100 due to humidity.  40% of the competitors dropped out.  This is RIDICULOUS.

2.) There are no fans.  750,000 people turned out for the last world champs, when they were held in the UK.  During the women’s 100 m, there were apparently 1000 people in the stadium, despite the government giving away 10s of thousands of tickets for free.  Absurd.

3.) Qatar is a ridiculously sexist country.  I can’t help but wonder if the *women’s* 100m specifically had no spectators for this reason, though viewership has been lower in general.  The 100m is a marquis event.

4.) Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.  The penal code stipulates years of prison time for sodomy, and there are multiple cases of people in fact being imprisoned for this.

All in all, I think it’s completely ridiculous.