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Dying to Run

by @ 10:54 am
Filed under: running-hiking — Tags:

Last weekend brought the sad news of a young woman dying just short of the finish line of the London marathon. She was running for a good cause - suicide prevention - at had collected about $700 then, now standing at over $1 million with the outpouring of support from people.

There are some who have criticized her for exerting herself to that point and many label marathons as a dangerous sport. Yes, marathons could be dangerous and in some cases deadly, so what? Life is dangerous and eventually deadly.

As a fellow runner I admire this woman's conviction and her compassion to tie her love of running to a charitable cause. She died doing what she loved and supporting a cause she cared about. That deserves a ton of respect.

On one occasion I was overcome with heat just after a run and passed out. When I came to, I thought that this is how I would like to die, doing what I love, not battling advanced age or illness on my death bed. Nothing wrong with the latter, it's just not my preference. I'll be in the upcoming NYC marathon this year, and if anything, this young woman has given me more motivation to keep on running.


Herniated Disc - 4 Years on

by @ 11:05 pm
Filed under: health,running-hiking — Tags:

Hard to believe it's been over 4 years since being struck with a herniated disc. As known to most, herniated discs don't heal, but with some luck they shrink and take pressure off the spinal cord. For me, there are the occasional flare ups and annoying tingling down the left leg, but other than those, life has been pretty normal.

I avoid lifting heavy objects, do conditioning exercises every morning, and walk daily. There's plenty of running too every other day, like 12 hilly miles this past weekend. I ran a marathon last year in Hartford, CT with no ill effects on my back and this year I'll be running the New York City marathon.

I guess the point is that a herniated disc doesn't necessarily mean having a disability, at least based on my 4-year track record so far. If you have it, be patient, treat it with care, and with some luck it'll just be an occasional minor inconvenience.

Past herniated disc posts:

MRI, Back Pain, Herniated Disc, and Running - Feb. 2008

Herniated Disc, on Steroid - Feb. 2008

Herniated Disc, Six Months Later - Aug. 2008

Herniated Disc and Half Marathon - Sep. 2008

Austin, Trails, Bats and Springs

by @ 10:38 am
Filed under: environment,running-hiking — Tags: , , ,

Last week I was in Austin, TX setting up for a show that my company runs. My initial reaction to the city wasn't so favorable but as time went on, the city grew on me. These were the attractions that I was able to catch in Austin.

The trails - The Lady Bird lake has a long and beautiful dirt trail running alongside made for running. I did a number of happy runs and walks on this trail. There are quite of a number of hikers, runners and dog walkers on this trail. Most are pretty young and I assume they're students at the nearby University of Texas. This is a very long trail and hooks into other trails so careful not to get lost, I did.

The bats - Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. You can smell them anywhere near the Congress Ave bridge. Just before dusk the entire colony from the bridge and the surrounding areas takes flight. It's a surreal scene with a million bats filling the skies like dark clouds. I was lucky enough to witness that event one night. It's something you don't forget.

The springs - Barton springs that is. I went running on the trails the first day and got lost, but that's how I discovered this gem. So on my last day in Austin with not much time to spare I went to the Barton Springs pool and did a 20 min dip. Hardly enough time to enjoy the refreshing cold water, the giant pool and the surroundings and all that for $3.

Austin is a weird town and apparently it prides itself in that. Weirded me out.

Austin Bats

Austin Barton Springs

Running to Music

by @ 9:27 pm
Filed under: law,music,running-hiking

This article (Jogging to music? Unplug for a safer workout) states the obvious by claiming that runners who listen to music pose a threat to themselves by becoming less aware of road dangers such as traffic or criminals.

There's also an additional claim that iPod runners, being distracted, may miss their body signals to speed up or slow down, thereby missing out on an optimum workout as well as being oblivious to small injuries that may require them to stop.

As a long-time, music-free runner (over 2 decades), I agree with both assessments. Many times on my running routes I come across narrow roads, blind curves, fast cars, sirens, and unfriendly dogs. In many cases I can navigate these challenges easily because I can hear a car noise or some commotion ahead. I can't imagine how I would face all these obstacles with music blaring in my ears.

The article is also correct about the distraction caused by music. I tried running to music a couple of time some years ago. In those cases I felt less in touch with body and the runs were much less enjoyable. Guess I'm the type that likes full sensory involvement in the running activity. I actually run for its pure enjoyment, not for the health benefits, so why drown my mind in music while running?

The part of the article I have a problem with is the governments wanting to force runners to shed their ear buds. This is such a ludicrous violation of personal freedom. I don't run with music but many runners do. Leave us alone. Instead perhaps concentrate on catching speeding cars. I mean where will this lead? Jogging police checking our shoes for correct fit, checking clothing for appropriate layers, or checking our hydration levels?

I can only see the court systems clogged with running felons 🙂

Gaza Strip's first marathon

by @ 10:45 am
Filed under: running-hiking — Tags: ,

A great story showing a different side of a region known for violence and fanaticism. If only people could put aside their bigotries and be running fanatics instead. What's next, Tehran marathon? 🙂

Local runner wins Gaza Strip's first marathon race - Sports- NBC Sports.

Pine Mountain, Ridgefield, CT

by @ 11:02 pm
Filed under: environment,running-hiking — Tags: , ,

Hard to believe that I've had a jewel of a hike within a walking distance of my house (where I've lived for year) and I hadn't been to the top of it until a only few of weeks ago.

This is a part of a parcel of land that my hometown, Ridgefield, CT, took from the salivating fangs of a residential developer some years ago using the eminent domain process. The land was quickly turned over to the state of Connecticut and designated as a state park to be enjoyed by people and animals forever.

I have been hiking this trail every week since discovering the splendid scenery at the Pine Mountain lookout, and I think about how close we came to losing this beauty to bulldozers, trucks and steam rollers. When the dust will have settled, instead of the trees and the streams, there would have been rows of McMansions with manicured lawns and European luxury sedans parked upfront. How typically nauseating.

Instead, this is what we have and I know more than just me are thankful for it. Enjoy the pics.

Lost in the Woods

by @ 8:39 pm
Filed under: running-hiking — Tags: ,

I probably broke a bunch of hiking rules today when I went exploring in one of the state parks in my hometown. It was a nice hike until I decided to head back and about half hour into the return trip and lost in thought, it occurred to me that I had no idea where I was.

For about an hour I went to and fro chasing one trail into another trail and then back into yet another, until I had completely scrambled my sense of orientation and direction. This isn't a huge park, but the uninitiated could go in circles on various trails until they run out of steam. I'm fairly sure I was going in circles and wasn't getting anywhere fast.

Eventually I decided to ditch the unknown trail I was on and descend over the side of the mountain in a desperate attempt to find the original trail. The gamble paid off and soon I was relieved to be back in familiar territory and followed my way back to the trailhead.

As for the hiking rules I had broken, I think this list is a good summary, but in no particular order:

  • Hike with a partner.
  • Pack some food and water.
  • Have a map of the trails.
  • Take these: compass, cell phone, flashlight, GPS.
  • Tell someone about your hiking plan.

Stay safe.

Jogging Tragedy

by @ 10:38 pm
Filed under: music,running-hiking

I happened on this story today about a 38-year old father who was struck and killed from behind by a small plane making an emergency landing. As a fellow jogger and a father I found the story saddening and I wish his family the best as they cope with the terrible loss.

What made this tragedy sobering is the fact that it didn't have to end this way for him. You see, the jogger was listening to his iPod and obviously didn't hear the approaching plane scraping the ground behind him. There's a good chance that he would have otherwise gotten out of the way and he'd be alive today.

The story is by no means unique. A couple of years ago a local race I participate in banned the use of earbuds and headphones because in a prior race a runner had collapsed and the paramedics had had a hard time reaching him weaving around the inattentive runners listening to their iPods.

Personally I don't like to run with music blaring in my ears. It's not for the sake of safety although that's a fortunate side-effect. I had tried running while listening to music a couple of times and hadn't enjoyed the experience. I'm much happier taking in the sights and sounds of my surrounding areas, including everything that happens around me while I jog.

I can understand that for some people music is a mandatory part of their exercise. In that case don't let the death of the jogger mentioned above be in vain. Make a compromise and lower the volume enough so your ears can at least pick up loud sounds such as a horn, a siren, or a crash happening just behind you. It could save your life or the life of someone in desperate need of immediate attention.


Miami Beach Running

by @ 12:27 am
Filed under: running-hiking

Miami BeachLast year when I was at Miami Beach on business, I went out for a jog on the boardwalk on the western side of the island, but after some distance hit a construction barricade and was forced onto the streets.

This year however, with the construction apparently over, I was pleasantly surprised. The boardwalk extends for a few miles with a good portion nicely made of wooden planks. Now on these trips I don’t have the luxury of jogging in daylight, it's either in early dawn or late at night and in either case I don't get to see the ocean. In those times one must sharpen the other senses to enjoy the proximity to the waterline.

The boardwalk is however nicely lit, so one isn't running in the dark, unless you do as I did on my last run. On my last day I woke up before the dawn and hit the boardwalk running for a good distance, and then I jogged back right at edge of the ocean where the waves crash onto the beach creating a firmer surface to run on. That was probably one of the finest runs I have ever had. With nobody else around, it felt like having the entire beach all to myself.

If you are ever in the Miami area, you might want to give the Miami beach boardwalk a try. Running or walking, day time or night time, it will be an enjoyable experience.


Night Running

by @ 12:00 am
Filed under: running-hiking

robert hashemianRunning at night time is nothing new for me. I've been doing it for 2 decades after work. of course there's a big difference between the 8 PM hour in summers when it's warm and light versus the winters when it's cold and dark.

In winter time, when I run after work, I usually stick to well-lit streets such as the downtown area in my hometown. Running in the back woods, where I live, is just asking for trouble. Cars can't see you and you can't see where you're stepping most of time. If you're not stuck by a car, there's a good chance to slip on snow, twist an ankle on a chunk of ice, or run into a ditch.

But tonight, after an earlier engagement I decided to skip driving to downtown and for the first time I hit the back roads. For that I used a head lamp that was graciously given to me by a colleague after he had picked it out in a secret Santa gift exchange at work.

The head lamp fits comfortably over the head with an elastic band. The adjustable front part rests on the forehead, in this case over my ski cap. It's made with LEDs so the batteries don't drain as fast as a conventional flashlight.

What an exhilarating experience to run in the cold and crisp air, where the only sounds are your own stride, your breathing and the trees creaking in the occasional gust of wind. There is no question that the head lamp played a big part in my safely finishing the course. The occasionally passing cars could see me from afar and would steer clear and the glow had just the right brightness to illuminate the road without being too intense.

If you are an early morning or late night jogger, having a head lamp is a must. To be doubly sure you should have an extra one with fresh batteries on you. The last thing you'd want is for your only head lamp to suddenly cut out on you in the middle of some dark back road far away from home.


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