Workaholicrunner’s Weblog

November 26, 2009

The $200 running shoe

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 7:10 pm

I was browsing through the New Balance catalog this morning as I waited until my brother finished his 5 mile run in the Turkey Trot we were participating in.  I saw that they have a new style called the 1906, named after the year New Balance was founded.  The retail price is $199.99.

Now, let’s get real here people from New Balance.  Is any shoe worth $200+ when you include tax?  What are you smoking up there in Massachusetts?


Crowded field in today’s Turkey Trot

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 7:01 pm

I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot in 48:40 this morning.  It was very crowded and this made it difficult to go fast.  There must have been over 5,000 people crammed in a two lane road.  Happy Thanksgiving and I hope your Turkey Trots turned out well.

Now for the food.

November 9, 2009

How do I train for this?

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 1:52 am

I will attempt an ascent on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park with a few friends in May 2010.  I also am planning to run a marathon two weeks before the hike.  Will marathon training be enough for this one?  The hike is 16 miles round trip.

Photos of the plan:

November 8, 2009

Is a sub 2 hour marathon possible?

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 5:33 pm

In 1908, the fastest marathon recorded was 2:55:18 by American Johnny Hayes.

A year after that or 100 years ago, the record was lowered dramatically to 2:40:34 by Thure Johannson of Sweden.

By 1925, the first sub 2:30 marathon was run by American Albert Michelsen.

It took a while to get to sub 2:20 but it was eventually accomplished in 1953 by Jim Peters of the United Kingdom.

Derek Clayton of New Zealand broke the 2:10 barrier in 1967. Then it started to get very difficult.

Sub 2:09 accomplished by Rob de Castella of Australia in 1981.

Sub 2:08 accomplished by Carlos Lopes of Portugal in 1985.

Sub 2:07 accomplished by Belayneh Dinsamo of Ethiopia in 1988.

Sub 2:06 accomplished by Khalid Khannouchi of Morocco (at that time) in 1999.

Sub 2:05 accomplished by Paul Tergat of Kenya in 2003.

Sub 2:04 accomplished by Haile Gebrselassie in 2008.

When will sub 2:03, sub 2:02, sub 2:01 and eventually sub 2:00 happen?

Save On Running Shoes

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 2:10 pm

In these recessionary times, I wanted to share some money saving techniques for running shoes.  Running shoes are probably the most expensive purchase that a runner will make excluding travel to races.  I never purchase shoes when they are first released.  I wait 9 to 18 months after their release to purchase them.  At that time, savings will be significant.

An example is the ASICS 2100 series.  The newest release is the 2150 and it retails for about $100.  Last year’s release, the 2140, is now discounted at about $80.  The release from two years ago, the 2130 (what I will use to run today) , can be purchased for about $60.  The even older 2120 is selling in the $30 range.

Why even buy the new editions?  In my experience, I don’t feel the difference between the new and old editions.  Just wait a few months to save a significant percentage.

BTW, last month I bought for $49 the Nike Air Pegasus 25+ that used to retail at $85 .

November 7, 2009

Indian Summer

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 11:31 pm

Wow! 67 degrees and sunny today for my 9 mile run. This is the longest run I have completed since the last marathon three weeks ago. Tomorrow, the weather will be just as good so I plan to run for about 10 miles.

My mid week 5Ks are improving. I ran a 29:43 and a 29:27. Hopefully, by the time I run a 5K race, I will be in 27 minute shape.

November 4, 2009

I knew this would happen

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 12:38 am

Brouhaha about Meb Keflezighi’s New York marathon win.  Article from the New York Times.

November 3, 2009

To Some, Winner Is Not American Enough



As soon as Mebrahtom Keflezighi, better known as Meb, won the New York City Marathon on Sunday, an uncommon sports dispute erupted online, fraught with racial and nationalistic components: Should Keflezighi’s triumph count as an American victory?

He was widely celebrated as the first American to win the New York race since 1982. Having immigrated to the United States at age 12, he is an American citizen and a product of American distance running programs at the youth, college and professional levels.

But, some said, because he was born in Eritrea, he is not really an American runner.

The debate reveals what some academics say are common assumptions and stereotypes about race and sports and athletic achievement in the United States. Its dimensions, they add, go beyond the particulars of Keflezighi and bear on undercurrents of nationalism and racism that are not often voiced.

“Race is still extremely important when you think about athletics,” said David Wiggins, a professor at George Mason University who studies African-Americans and sports. “There is this notion about innate physiological gifts that certain races presumably possess. Quite frankly, I think it feeds into deep-seated stereotypes. The more blatant forms of racial discrimination and illegal forms have been eliminated, but more subtle forms of discrimination still exist.”

There are few cases parallel to Keflezighi’s in American sports. Some are noteworthy because of how little discussion, by comparison, they generated over the athlete’s nationality. For example, the Hall of Fame basketball player Patrick Ewing (Jamaica) and the gold medal gymnast Nastia Liukin (Russia) were born abroad, but when they represented the United States in competition, they seemingly did not encounter the same skepticism that Keflezighi has.

Richard Lapchick, the director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, said the argument about Keflezighi “tells us there are people that still have racial red flags go up when certain things happen.”

He added: “Many people think that with an African-American president, we are in a postracial society. Clearly, we are not.”

The online postings about Keflezighi were anonymous. One of the milder ones on said: “Give us all a break. It’s just another African marathon winner.”

A comment on The New York Times’s site said: “Keflezighi is really another elite African runner by birth, upbringing, and training. Americans are kidding themselves if they say he represents a resurgence of American distance prowess! On the other hand, he is an excellent representative of how we import everything we need!”

In a commentary on, Darren Rovell wrote, “Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer who you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.”

Keflezighi said on Monday that remarks about his heritage were not new. “I’ve had to deal with it,” he said. “But, hey, I’ve been here 22 years. And the U.S.A. is a land of immigrants. A lot of people have come from different places.”

The last American to win the New York race, Alberto Salazar, was also born in another country. He came to the United States from Cuba when he was 2. When he won, though, he did not hear grumbling about whether he should be considered an American. He pointed out two differences between his case and Keflezighi’s: Salazar is Hispanic, not black; and when he won in 1982, the Internet, in its current form, did not exist.

The argument that Keflezighi is not really an American makes little sense, Salazar said in a telephone interview.

“What if Meb’s parents had moved to this country a year before he was born?” he said. At what point is someone truly American? “Only if your family traces itself back to 1800, will it count?”

The issue previously arose when Keflezighi won a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Weldon Johnson, a founder of So when the negative postings appeared Sunday, he said, “I did not like seeing them, but I was not surprised.”

Perhaps the passion over Keflezighi’s victory stems from the despair over the state of American distance running. Americans used to be the best, in the 1970s and 1980s. But their time of glory waned as East Africans began dominating.

The success of distance runners from Kenya and Ethiopia fostered a lore of East Africans as genetically gifted, unbeatable, dominant because of their biology. Scientists have looked for — but not found — genes specific to East Africans that could account for their distance ability, said John Hoberman, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies race and sports.

But, he said, “there is a difference between saying we don’t have a scientifically respectable conclusion and the very broad and perhaps mistaken claim that there is no physiological phenomenon here whatsoever.”

Regarding the question of whether East Africans have a genetic advantage, Hoberman said, “We don’t know.”

“The more relevant question is, who gets to represent the country?” he said, adding, “Only racists will insist that ‘our’ athletes meet specific racial criteria.”

Consternation over the race of elite American athletes is not new. A century ago, the notion of a “great white hope” emerged — a white boxer who whites hoped could beat the black heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson.

In running, as African-American athletes excelled in sprints, they were said to lack the endurance or the fortitude to prevail in longer distances, Wiggins said. Then, when East Africans started to thrive, the argument changed to one claiming there are special East African genes.

“From my perspective, it is racist thinking at its utmost,” Wiggins said.

In Salazar’s view, Keflezighi’s victory is another indication that American distance running is coming back. Keflezighi never ran competitively before he came to the United States, and he did all his training here.

“Can American-born guys and gals compete?” Salazar said. “I think we are starting to see that.

“Does Meb resolve that argument? No. He wasn’t born here.

“And neither was I.”


November 3, 2009

Mary Wittenberg’s full response to New York Times article about plodders

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 12:43 pm

I copied excerpts from Ms. Wittenberg’s response t the plodders controversy from the New York Times article. Here is her full response from the New York Road Runners web page.

Missing the Essence of the Marathon

Monday, 26 October 2009 16:44 Mary

I love that the New York Times covers running as much as it does. I also love that we can count on the Times to “be at the center of the debate.”

Let me share New York Road Runners’ side of the debate as to whether “plodders” have a place in the marathon. Our answer begins with this: Both the term “plodders” and the question posed miss the essence of the beauty and power of the marathon.

We at NYRR stress the strenuous, demanding nature of the marathon. We don’t say that it’s for everyone. We conduct over 50 events a year from the mile to the marathon, and clinics and classes that ensure we “have a place for every pace.” We promote the marathon as the Mt. Everest of running. In other words, the ultimate goal. One that takes careful and rigorous preparation. But we specifically don’t say – “you’ve got to be fast to do it.”

To us, it’s about conquering the distance and conquering self doubt. The marathon is about dreaming to achieve and putting in all the work to make that dream reality. That quest, and the runner’s ultimate success, routinely changes people’s lives in rich and meaningful ways. Our runners, no matter the pace, typically overcome all kinds of hurdles and challenges to reaching the marathon finish line. It is that ability to persevere that translates to other parts of their lives. Making them stronger and better for the pursuit – well beyond improved physical fitness.

We don’t encourage people to walk the marathon or to take 8 hours to complete it. It is a running event after all. But, it is 26.2 miles – a huge challenge – no matter how fast you are. Ask most marathoners – we’ve all been humbled by the distance at some point. It tends to make us appreciate the efforts of others. Most faster runners I know have a great deal of respect for slower runners (it is tough to be out there longer) and vice versa (it’s “incredible” how fast “they” run).

The marathon is not easy. I am a pretty serious runner. Though occasionally tempted, I haven’t run a marathon in 15 years. I know what it takes, and I know what it takes out of you. There is no debate about how hard it is. So it’s okay – you need to walk a little? Then walk a little. Do what it takes to accomplish the goal of finishing, and be smart about it too. In NYC, our roads reopen at a rolling 6½ hour marathon. We score at the finish until 8 hours, because sometimes folks have a really tough day. They don’t plan on 8 hours, but it happens. And, we are pleased to host the largest contingent of disabled athletes of any major marathon, and the extra time helps them too. We are fortunate – with our final miles largely inside Central Park rather than on the streets – that we can offer this possibility.

On Sunday, November 1, we’ll host 40,000 runners from around the world. We’ll celebrate our superhuman champions who cross the finish line first, stand in awe of all of those that break the coveted 3 hour mark, high five those who qualify for Boston and cheer those that crack the formidable 4 hour barrier. Then you can bet we’ll welcome – with open arms and a hard earned medal – each of our finishers who, despite the challenges, cross our rarified finish line.

A marathoner is a marathoner regardless of time. Virtually everyone who tries the marathon has put in training over months, and it is that exercise and that commitment, physical and mental, that gives meaning to the medal, not just the day’s effort, be it fast or slow. It’s all in conquering the challenge. Ask any marathoner you meet in NYC on Monday, November 2.

– Mary R. Wittenberg

2010 New York Marathon lottery

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 12:04 am

They opened it up today.  Sign up before they close it in March!

November 1, 2009

Why Mary Wittenberg is the best race director in the world

Filed under: Uncategorized — workaholicrunner @ 4:10 pm

Over the last few days, there has been lots of buzz about a controversial New York Times article regarding plodders in the marathon.  This article was widely circulated and generated a lot of letters to the editor.

I will post the article below then the response of Mary Wittenberg, head of New York Road Runners and race director of the ING New York Marathon.


October 23, 2009

Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon?



Every weekend during this fall marathon season, long after most runners have completed the 26.2-mile course — and very likely after many have showered, changed and headed for a meal — a group of stragglers crosses the finish line.

Many of those slower runners, claiming that late is better than never, receive a finisher’s medal just like every other participant. Having traversed the same route as the fleeter-footed runners — perhaps in twice the amount of time — they get to call themselves marathoners.

And it’s driving some hard-core runners crazy.

“It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours,” said Adrienne Wald, 54, the women’s cross-country coach at the College of New Rochelle, who ran her first marathon in 1984. “It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’ ”

Tens of thousands of runners are training for marathons this time of year. As the fields continue to grow — primarily by adding slower runners — so has the intensity of the debate over how quickly an able-bodied runner should finish the once-elite event that is now an activity for the masses.

Purists believe that running a marathon should be just that — running the entire course at a relatively fast clip. They point out that a six-hour marathoner is simply participating in the event, not racing in it. Slow runners have disrespected the distance, they say, and have ruined the marathon’s mystique.

Slower marathoners believe that covering the 26.2 miles is the crux of the accomplishment, no matter the pace. They say that marathons inspire people to get off their couches, if only to cross off an item on the Things to Do Before I Die list. And besides, slow runners are what drive the marathon business, they say.

John Bingham, a runner who is known as the Penguin, is often credited with starting the slow-running movement, in the 1990s. “I have had people say that I’ve ruined the sport of running, but what I’ve been trying to do is promote the activity of running to an entire generation of people,” he said. “What’s wrong with that?”

Bingham added: “The complainers are just a bunch of ornery, grumpy people who want the marathon all to themselves and don’t want the slower runners. But too bad. The sport is fueled and funded by people like me.”

Trends show that marathon finishers are getting slower and slower — and more prevalent — according to Running USA, a nonprofit organization that tracks trends in distance running. From 1980 to 2008, the number of marathon finishers in the United States increased to 425,000 from 143,000.

In 1980, the median finishing time for male runners in United States marathons was 3 hours 32 minutes 17 seconds, a pace of about eight minutes per mile. In 2008, the median finishing time was 4:16, a pace of 9:46. For women, that time in 1980 was 4:03:39. Last year, it was 4:43:32.

In a debate on the Web site, someone posting as Record10 Carbon wrote that more than half of the people at a marathon are just overweight and “trying to get a shirt and medal … looking to one day tell a story about the saga and the suffering of their 11 minute pace ‘race.’ ”

In response, someone wrote: “Being a participant isn’t bad. Yes, there should be a cutoff on some events. But, what that cutoff is can be a raging debate.”

Race directors often struggle to find the right cut-off time, when water stations are closed, roads open to vehicles and volunteers abandon the course. Some directors, however, avoid that problem.

Runners in the Honolulu Marathon have no limits. Race rules state, “All runners will be permitted to finish, regardless of their time.”

Last year, 44 percent of the field for that event finished in more than six hours — with some marathoners stopping for lunch along the course.

“For every race director, there’s a very fine line between putting on a community event and putting on a race,” said Chris Burch, race director for the Des Moines Marathon, which stays open for seven hours. Last year, it stayed open for eight hours, but Burch found that only 4 percent of the participants needed more than seven hours to finish. In the end, that extra hour was not worth it, he said, because of the costs of keeping the course open.

“It is a huge budget item because you have to pay municipal services, like police, fire or trash, and volunteers have to stay longer,” he said. “But it’s not a simple decision. Those back-of-the-pack runners are income for the event, too, and they’re just as important for everyone. There’s a feeling of ‘I paid as much money as the other people to enter, so I should be treated the same.’ ”

At the Marine Corps Marathon, in the Washington, D.C., area, runners must keep a pace of 14 minutes per mile or risk being booted from the event near the 20-mile mark. A bus looms there, waiting to pick up those who fail to cross the 14th Street Bridge before it reopens to traffic. Those who choose to continue on the open course do so at their own risk, taking to the sidewalks or dodging traffic.

At the Berlin Marathon, where the cut-off time is 6:15, the “slow police” are notorious for lurking at the back of the pack. “If runners aren’t able to finish in the time we put in our information book, we ask them to leave the course and find their way to their hotel, or get in the bus,” the race director Mark Milde said.

The New York City Marathon, scheduled for Nov. 1, will have a field of about 40,000. Last year, about 21 percent of the field finished in more than five hours. The race officially ends after 6:30, though runners are scored through 8:40, when the timing system is finally carted off, said the race director Mary Wittenberg.

Longtime marathoners like Julia Given, a 46-year-old marketing director from Charlottesville, Va., still find ways to differentiate the “serious runners” from those at the back of the pack.

“If you’re wearing a marathon T-shirt, that doesn’t mean much anymore,” Given said on the eve of this month’s Baltimore Marathon, where vendors were selling products that celebrate slower runners. One sticker said: “I’m slow. I know. Get over it.”

“I always ask those people, ‘What was your time?’ If it’s six hours or more, I say, ‘Oh great, that’s fine, but you didn’t really run it,’ ” said Given, who finished the Baltimore race in 4:05:52. “The mystique of the marathon still exists. It’s the mystique of the fast marathon.”



Mary Wittenberg’s letter to the editor:

A Marathon, Not a Sprint

To the Sports Editor:

Re “Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon?” Oct. 23: We at New York Road Runners stress the strenuous, demanding nature of the marathon. We don’t say that it’s for everyone. We conduct more than 50 events a year — from the mile to the marathon — and hold beginner clinics and classes.

We promote the marathon as the Mount Everest of running. In other words, the ultimate goal. One that takes careful and rigorous preparation. But we specifically don’t say, “You’ve got to be fast to do it.”

We don’t encourage people to walk the marathon or to take eight hours to complete it. It is a running event, after all. But it is 26.2 miles — a huge challenge, no matter how fast you are.

You need to walk a little? Then walk a little. Do what it takes to accomplish the goal of finishing, and be smart about it, too.

A marathoner is a marathoner regardless of time.

Mary R. Wittenberg

New York

The writer is the chief executive of New York Road Runners and the race director of the New York City Marathon.


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