Episode 169 Ashby Health Journey

The RunRunLive Podcast Episode 169 – Ashby Health Journey

[audio:http://www.RunRunLive.com/PodcastEpisodes/epi169.mp3|titles=epi169 – Ashby]


Show intro by:

http://getting2tri.org/ – Jen Blalock


Hello and welcome to the over-active, over stimulated, over-scheduled ,over-tired, exhausted runner podcast – no this song is not about you – I’m talking about me! And this is the RunRunLive podcast and I am Chris your host.  Welcome to episode 169.

Monday of this week was our annual pilgrimage from Hopkinton Mass to Boston with a few thousand other endurance acolytes.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but, yeah, I ran my 13th Boston Marathon – I’ll even deign to give you a brief (I said BRIEF) race report today.

Is everyone else as busy as I am?  From the Groton Road Race into the Boston Marathon it’s been nuts!  But God help me I love every minute of it and I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

But everyone is busy – it’s that time of year.  Work is nuts too.  I’m on airplanes during the day and conference calls with Asia at night…but I love that too.  It is a calming salve to my over-active psyche to be fully occupied.  It keeps me out of trouble.  And now, here we are you and I, at episode 169 of the RunRunLive podcast – we have a great show for you today.

We are going to talk to a member of our community Ashby about his journey from the couch of doom to endurance athletisism.  Whenever I chat with normal folks like Ashby they always protest that there is nothing interesting about them, that they are no Dean Karnazes or Geoff Galloway, but I tell them that is the point!  People in our community need to know about normal everyday peers who are doing what they can with what they have to get better, to do small things, to light a candle, to rage against the darkness in their own way – and we will keep sharing stories that you can relate to, like Asby.

A couple stories from the marathon.  My club-mate Frank runs for Teddy Bruschi’s stroke team.  He runs the whole race in a football helmet.  Since he stops a lot to take pictures and explain stroke awareness to people it takes him awhile to complete the race.  When you get into the afternoon the knuckleheads at BC are getting pretty drunk.  So some college kid tackled Frank.  Then the police tackled the kid!

My other Club-mate Maria ran an outstanding 4:09, but she told me that she actually saw a nickel in the road late in the race and bent down to pick it up and had trouble getting back up again.  I find that hilarious because at that point in the race I would gladly run past a $100 bill without stopping.

<Mark Audio>

Mark and I got passed early by a couple young guys in costumes.  One of them was a hamburger and one was a giant French fry.  This kind of pissed me off because I hate to see Boston turn into a circus.  I say to the kids, “You guys better be running for a damn good charity.” And the kid says “We’re running for Back on my Feet”.  I was like, “Yeah, ok, love that charity!  You guys rock!”

A little later, while Mark and I were still pacing, we were next to a kid with a wrestling shirt on.  I chatted him up.  He was wearing an official number. I asked him how old he was. “16” I didn’t know you could run a qualified Boston at age 16.

We’re running along and Mark says off-handedly “Wow, everyone is racing.”  Meaning he was used to seeing the Gallo-walkers and everyone in our corral was wired-in and racing.  There is something inspiring in being surrounded, maybe for the first time, by people who are all there to race, who are all there because they worked hard, who are all there because they earned it.  There is a certain esprit de corps and joy in that congregation.

I will give you my race report.  I will keep it short.

I went out pretty early to Hopkinton with my crew from the Squnnacook River Runners.  I met up with Mark, who was my pacing assignment.  Coach wanted me to make sure he lived through Boston.  I also ran into SteveRunner and TriBoomer.  Unfortunately I missed Petra.

Mark and I were in the first corral of the second wave.  It was cool.  We were right on the starting line.  Even at my fastest I’ never got to be in the first corral.  When the gun went off we could see the front of the pack! It was cool.  Only seconds separated my gun time from my net time.

The weather was wonderful.  Sunny with a swirling tailwind. Not too hot.

I realized that I had forgotten to take my Hammer gels out before heading to the corrals, so I started collecting random gels from people and picking up discarded extras. I had five miscellaneous gels by the time I got into the corrals.  I’ve got a pretty forgiving stomach and a good attitude! I also forgot the sunscreen, but didn’t end up getting too burned.

I made Mark slow down for the first 16 miles.  He must have gotten really sick of me saying “Easy”, and “Back it down”.  My strategy was to go out at around a 7:40-7:50 pace and try to run negative splits off of the back of the hills.  We ran a few fast miles but managed to keep it around 7:30 – 7:40.

I really didn’t feel very strong.  My heart rate was fine.  It hovered in the low zone 3, but my legs didn’t feel fresh.

I told Mark the final words of caution in Newton Lower Falls and accelerated into the first hill at mile 16.  This is where you see people starting to fold.  I think I attacked that first hill too hard because the second hill was a bitch and my legs were giving me those warning signs.  I backed off a little to see if it was curtains or if I could manage it.

I was seriously doubting my ability to stay on pace and was reviewing the B, C and D goals.

Coming into Heart Break I decided to walk the water stop and catch my breath. I was a little dehydrated and worried that I might be about to crash.  Just then as I was walking with that worried look on my face Alett and some Goons came out of the crowd and I felt like I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

I made my apologies and attacked the hill, running the whole thing and grinding past a fair share of human carnage.  Cresting Heartbreak Hill is where you realize you’re going to make it. That is where you can risk a grin.

My legs were cooked, but my nutrition was ok and I was strong and I knew the course was mine from here on in if I was willing to manage it.  I dropped into the relaxed mechanics and quick turnover that coach has drilled into me for 8 months.  I consciously let my legs go and started running with my core.  It hurt, but it was manageable, it was ok.

I didn’t feel like I was running fast, but when I looked at my Garmin it still showed sub-7:30’s on the downs.  I was in cruise.  The key now was to ride it home.

In the last miles of Boston people randomly start walking and wobbling like drunken sailors.  They trash their quads on the down-hills and no longer have the ability to control their strides.  It’s a bit of a Dodge game because you are trying to keep your head in the game and keep moving and these folks are weaving in the road around you.

I could have pushed harder.  I could have gone deeper into the pain-locker in those last 5 miles.  I probably could have picked up another minute or two, but I didn’t really feel a need to.

I cruised home happy and strong for a respectable 3:23 finish which beats my current qualifying standard by 7 minutes so that should be enough to get me in next year for my 14th Boston Marathon.

Due to my winter training I think I peaked too early this year.  Having to take a month off for that calf tear didn’t help and I definitely could have used more volume.  But, you have to fight with what you bring to the battle and I think I got most of what I could out of what I brought to the race.

Well my friends, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it, On with the show!

Audio clips in this episode:

Steve Runner – Phedipedations

Mark Brinkerhoff

Charlie White

Jake – Run Like Health

Skits, commercials and parodies in this episode:

Story time:


Guest Blog Reading

Equipment Check:

Lighten up – let the race come to you.

When I talk about racing I’m usually talking about road marathons.  When I’m talking about road marathons you will often see me telling people to “let the race come to you”.

What do I mean and how is this useful advice?

What I mean is that the marathon is a long race and for most of us midpackers it is a long day.  When you go into the race stressed out and worried about paces and times you burn a lot of physical and mental energy unnecessarily.  At the end of the day you have your training, you have your plan and much of your race is out of your hands.

When I say let the race come to you I mean give yourself a chance to warm up, to feel your body and your pace and to feel what kind of state you are in so you can do a better job of managing your marathon.

I know that many people are stressed out at the start of the marathon.  This leads them to spend their mental and physical capital before it is needed.

Marathons are hard and long but the hard part doesn’t start until the last 6-10 miles and that’s where you need your mental and physical focus.  If you are, as Eddie Marathon says “gripping the wheel too tightly” for the first 16 miles of the race you won’t be able to physically and more importantly mentally manage the hard part.

When I say ‘let the race come to you’ I mean relax for the first 16 miles of the race, talk to people, look around at the scenery, hold your pace and heart rate in check, feed your body and just loosen your grip on the racing aspect of it.

This will allow your body to relax and find it’s rhythm.  This will allow you to stockpile energy for the hard part.

If you ran with me Monday you would see me change into race mode going into the first Newton Hill at mile 16.  It is like throwing a switch.  It allows me to mentally partition the dread of the pain and transition into race mode when I need it most.

Now lighten up folks, let the race come to you and you will be much more effective.


Injury series

Mastering Injuries part 8 – The secret of Massage.

This is a topic that I feel is greatly misunderstood and that I am very passionate about.  I get the feeling that when people think of massage they think it’s a glorified back rub.  It’s not. It is a wonderful diagnostic tool and a wonderful form of preventative and curative medicine.

What makes massage so effective is that it involves and includes the physical and emotional synergy of two empathic humans working together.

We hear reports all the time from our runner friends of how when they go to the doctor the doctor may not even touch them before proscribing rest and anti-inflammatory. We see the physical therapist and they go through their litany of exercises and stretches.  In essence they have a hammer and you are the nail.  The very imperative nature of their roles, the inventory of their knowledge, prevents them from connecting with you, understanding you and colors, if not blinds, the diagnosis and then the cure.

Not so with a good massage.  A good massage works both with the physical and the human connection of symptoms to causes.

Maybe I’m being a bit overblown, but I would like you to get the same benefit that I get out of massage.  To do massage right, you are not getting a massage you are participating in a massage.

I use massage sparingly.  I would have a massage every week if I had the time and money.  Currently I get a massage somewhere two weeks before a major event, just as I’m going into my taper and then I try to get a massage right after a major hard running event.

Why am I high on Massage?  First it is an excellent diagnostic tool.  A good sports massage therapist has studied all the bones, muscles, tendons and fascia.  They know by feel what is supposed to be where and can tell when something is not as it should be.

There is a direct feedback from the massage therapist’s hands and your guidance.  They can feel what is amiss and you can guide them interactively to where and what is suspect.  When we have pain we can’t tell whether it’s something simple or a career-ending injury.  The massage therapist can literally reach into our biomechanical system and isolate the troublesome part.  As a diagnosis tool it is priceless.

As a curative tool the therapy not only verifies the hurt place but then is able to work the whole chain of muscles and tendons that lead to that hurt spot.  Whenyou get off the massage table you will have isolated exactly what the problem is and you will have aligned, relaxed and stretched all the links in the chain supporting it.

When looking for a massage therapist you want to find one that works on athletes and, more importantly someone you can make a connection with.  To use massage in the manner I am proposing requires physical intimacy, not of the sexual type, but still a melding of the two of you working together towards the same ends.

You need to be able to relax into the massage and let it do its magic.  You need to be able to work with and guide the therapist to where the pain is.

Now I’m going to get mystical on you.  I’ve got no proof but I feel that good massage therapists are empathic healers.  There is some healing power to the ‘laying on of hands’.  To have that empathic healer pushing their warm human healing energy into your body is a healing experience in the mystic sense, and this is an intimate act.  This is why you need to find someone who is empathic, who cares about your well being and whom your trust.

When you are on the table you need to lean into this healing.  You need to visualize the healing aura or power of the therapist flowing into you.  You need to visualize the muscles relaxing, separating and lengthening.  If you can do this it becomes a synergistic healing experience.

Like running, a good massage session becomes a mutual meditation on wellness, so choose your partner well.

On a more practical note; the pre-event massage should be just as you are entering your taper, this is where it will do the most good because your system is at its most stressed and you have enough time to recover from the massage.  The post race massage is not an invasive massage.  The post race massage is to manually push the dead, evil crap out of your major muscles, (think quads after Boston).  This will reduce your soreness by 90% and shorten your recovery by days.

Hope this helps and hope all my massage friends agree!


Featured Interview:

Ashby – on his journey from the couch…

Quick Tip:


Ok my friends,  That is it, hand in hand we have dragged our overstressed selves through the Newtin Hills and out the other side of yet another runrunlive podcast – episode 169 in the can.

How about a couple travel stories?

First one is from the week before the marathon.  I was flying back from Detroit, in the departure lounge and they wheeled a guy up in a wheel chair who frankly looked like he was about to die.  I told “Here – have my seat I’m perfectly healthy.”

We board the plane, and I’m up in first class, and who do you suppose I’m sitting next to?  That’s right the sick guy.  So I say to him “you look pretty sick, you going to be ok?” and he says “Yeah, I just flew in from Bangkok where I picked up some bronchial thing…”  I’m thinking that somehow I just entered the first scene of the 28 Days Later movie and with less than a week before Boston I’m sitting next to patient Zero.

Then the flight attendant comes over and says, “Mr. Russell why don’t we move you to give this gentleman more room…wink wink” – Oh yeah that’s a great idea.  But the pilot had to come talk to this guy twice before they took off.  They didn’t want him to die enroute.

Second story is from when I was in Hong Kong.  I was reminded of this because I had to do a presentation to some folks in HK this week.

When you travel your local hosts like to play a game called “Let’s see what we can get the stupid American to eat”.  In this case they took me to what is known as a snake shop on Kow Loon.  In the snake shop they make snake soup out of poisonous snakes.  It is supposed to be good for your virility.  The Chinese men eat it before seeing their mistresses – puts fire in your blood.

Let me paint the picture.  We are seated in a small, crowded shop amidst the bustle of Kow Loon.  You are surrounded by cages with live poisonous snakes stacked up.  The snakes are hissing and shaking their rattles at you.

On another shelf is a variety of lizard wine, which is jars of liquor with whole dead lizards floating in them.  I was thinking these would make awesome gifts, but was pretty sure they wouldn’t get through customs.

I had the soup.  It was pretty good.

OK folks, I have incredible news.  I have already met my goal for the Chicago Marathon diabetes action team that I ‘m participating in to support Eddie Marathon.

This week’s heroes who put me over the top are:

Two David’s one from Canada and you know who you are thanks for putting me over the top!

John – appreciate it, you rock!

Reinhold – Thank you!

Jeffery – you are a best

And Kevin – thank you so much for your contribution and kindness…

Over the next week I’ll assemble all these folks into a list and assign miles to them.  I am blown away by how generous everyone is and how you have taken action.

Speaking of taking action, of giving…the whole act of giving creates a virtuous cycle.  It is not just the giving though, it is working on yourself and understanding and being comfortable with yourself that allows you to give in such a way that it is not about you but about the person you are giving to..

Some would say that this is a selfless act.  I would go further and say it is a self-confident act.  Because in order to be selfless you need to be at peace with yourself and that requires a journey of self discovery.

That is where we as endurance athletes are lucky.  Many of us start our athletic journeys running from ourselves but in the process we find ourselves and become self-aware, slef-fulfilled and self-confindent.  And this in turn allows us to act selflessly.  And when we act selflessly the recipient of that act returns the gift with interest and a virtuous cycle is created.  One act builds on another and the whole system is raised.

So the next time you are watching the retched news and thinking ‘there’s no way I alone can ever have an impact on these big things’ – you are wrong.  One simple act can create a virtuous cycle that will spread like ripples in a pond.

And as those ripples spread I’ll be running by and I’ll see you out there.

Music tonight is a catchy number by Stingray-called 143 and is about 4 minutes long.



From Podsafe




About the RunRunLive Podcast

Each Podcast we’re going to have a full agenda.  We’ve got some inspiration and tips to keep you moving forward.  And In our featured segment we will be speaking with interesting members of our sport to share their accumulated knowledge with us.

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There are millions of normal, everyday folks like us who use running as a way to lead a balanced, happy and challenging lifestyle.  Would you like to learn from them?

I have had the privilege to have kicked around the mid-pack of the sport for some time.  I’ve learned a ton about myself and running.  I’ve met a whole bunch of incredible, and sometimes odd, always interesting people.  We’re going to share all this with you.

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Chris’ book on Amazon – > http://www.amazon.com/Mid-Packers-Lament-collection-running-stories/dp/141961584X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228687012&sr=8-1

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Chris Russell lives and trains in suburban Massachusetts with his family and Border collie Buddy.  Chris is the author of “The Mid-Packer’s Lament”, and “The Mid-Packer’s Guide to the Galaxy”, short stories on running, racing, and the human comedy of the mid-pack.  Chris writes the Runnerati Blog at www.runnerati.com.  Chris’ Podcast, RunRunLive is available on iTunes and at www.runrunlive.com. Chris also writes for CoolRunning.com (Active.com) and is a member of the Squannacook River Runners and the Goon Squad.

Email me at cyktrussell at Gmail dot com

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