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Eclectic Runner Blog
Art and Running Print
Written by Tom Perry   
March 28, 2014

menu-spacer.pngBear with me for this little essay.  It starts out off topic but I promise it will get around to saying something about running and racing.  The inspiration was a story on the radio that got my attention the morning of February 27th.  It got me to thinking more broadly about the role of chance or luck (good or bad) in our passions.

The Role of Chance in Art and Running

Chance and Success in the Arts

NPR’s Morning Edition ran a fascinating story that said volumes about the role of chance in most aspects of our lives.  The segment is Good Art Is Popular Because It’s Good.  Right?  It’s only eight minutes long and well worth a listen.  Meanwhile, I will briefly summarize the research study that looked at the role of chance in popularity of music.

Last Updated ( March 28, 2014 )
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Final Newsletter Column Print
Written by Tom Perry   
February 15, 2014
menu-spacer.pngTransition Zone – The Final Column

The Eclectic Runner column has appeared in every issue of the GRTC Newsletter since the January - February 2003 issue when I wrote a brief piece about running books for winter reading. In every issue that followed I shared something about running and racing.  The content varied from month to month, hence the title.

Now with the completion of an eleventh lap around the sun, it is time to end this leg of the race and transition to other challenges.  This will be my final column under the title The Eclectic Runner to appear in the GRTC Newsletter.

I will continue to status the running community on two continuing projects of personal interest:

1.     Trail News and Advocacy – I will submit articles and Facebook posts to keep the community informed of new trail projects, trail maintenance and trail conditions. 

2.      Club History / Newsletter archive – I plan to complete scanning and posting all available back issues of the GRTC Newsletter in 2014. I still have the years 1994 through 2006 to complete this multi-year project.  I will contribute interesting historical nuggets from the archive as periodic Blast from the Past submissions to the Newsletter. 

Now, back to The Eclectic Runner column which is already in progress…

Last Updated ( February 15, 2014 )
 
Foot Locker and Nike Cross Nationals Print
Written by Tom Perry   
February 15, 2014
menu-spacer.pngUpstate XC Runners Excel on National Stage

High school cross country runners have not just one but two de facto National Championships.  The top boy and girl in the US have been determined for the last 35 years at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.  The top boy’s and girl’s teams have been crowned for the last 10 years at the Nike Cross Nationals.  This year runners from Western and Central New York figured prominently in both championships. 

Last Updated ( February 15, 2014 )
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2013 Goals and Progress - Final Report Print
Written by Tom Perry   
January 30, 2014

menu-spacer.pngJanuary 2014 - Final Report on 2013 Running & Cycling Goals

Recurring episodes of lower back pain in 2012 stopped me from being able to train consistently and ended my 1974-2011 streak of running at least one marathon or ultra each year.  Without the demands of training to complete a marathon, the goals I set for 2013 were modest.  Unfortunately, even the modest goals I had for running proved to be beyond my diminished capacity (as noted below in italics):

Last Updated ( February 16, 2014 )
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Best Bets in Garmin Forerunner Family Print
Written by Tom Perry   
January 12, 2014

menu-spacer.png4th Generation Garmin GPS

Remember the original Forerunner 201 introduced in 2003; it was a real brick to strap on your arm and, while the GPS worked great on open roads, it frequently got lost in the woods.  The much improved 205 and 305 came along in 2006 with the form of an over-sized watch.  The “05” models had a better GPS receiver that was reasonably accurate in the woods and downtown canyons.  In 2009 Garmin introduced the 310XT for the triathlon crowd.  That model was quickly followed by other “10 Series” models (e.g., 110, 210, 410) the following year.  These watches all had an even better GPS receiver (SiRFstarIV) and, except for the bulky 310XT, could be used as your regular wrist watch.

Last Updated ( January 12, 2014 )
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Full & Half Marathon Trends Print
Written by Tom Perry   
January 12, 2014
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Last Updated ( January 12, 2014 )
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Wilt's Marathon Question Print
Written by Tom Perry   
December 26, 2013

Our President’s Marathon Question

In The President’s Message for October, Wilt Alston asks the following about the marathon: 

Is it possible to train enough that you can perform at a high level and not feel stressed or hurt or challenged during the exploit?  

From my experiences finishing 60 ultras and 43 marathons, I think the answer is inevitably, “No, it is not!”  At least I don’t believe it is possible if you are really performing at a high level.   

Last Updated ( January 3, 2014 )
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2013 Rochester Marathon Print
Written by Tom Perry   
December 26, 2013
Observations on the Marathon

menu-spacer.pngAt 8am sharp the morning of the MVP Rochester Marathon I gathered with a small group of like-minded souls at Schoen Place.  Earl Cliffel, the captain of our band of volunteers, handed out shirts and flags.  When all were assembled, he gave us our final instructions and sent us to our posts.

I set up my camp chair inside the DOT Maintenance Depot at the sharp right turn between the buildings and settled down for a long wait.  The 16 mile mark was just a few hundred yards further along the course so I figured we wouldn’t see any runners until close to 9am.  I had just started reading a book on my phone when I noticed the flashing lights of a lead motorcycle on the course near the railroad overpass by the Del Monte Lodge.  Initially I thought it was just a police officer checking out the course.  But, as the motorcycle got closer, I saw it was closely followed by a sleek racing machine.

Last Updated ( January 3, 2014 )
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Canal Trail Lessons Learned Print
Written by Tom Perry   
September 12, 2013

menu-spacer.pngThings We Learned Along the Trail

If your only experience of the canal trail has been the heavily used 13 miles between Genesee Valley Park and Perinton Park in Fairport, you might think that all of the Erie Canalway Trail will be a dead-flat paved or stone dust trail running right beside a wide, navigable canal with boat traffic.  Wrong!  You will be in for some surprises when you run or ride other sections of the Erie Canalway Trail, especially those east of Palmyra.

Last Updated ( September 16, 2013 )
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Canal Trail End to End Completed Print
Written by Tom Perry   
September 12, 2013

Done!  It took Dave Jackson and me two summers to complete the trail from Buffalo to Albany, a distance of 369 miles according to my Garmin GPS. 

Last Updated ( September 12, 2013 )
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2013 Goals and Progress Print
Written by Tom Perry   
September 12, 2013

Recurring episodes of lower back pain in 2012 stopped me from being able to train consistently and ended my 1974-2011 streak of running at least one marathon or ultra each year.  Without the demands of training to complete a marathon, the goals I set for 2013 were modest:

Last Updated ( September 12, 2013 )
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The GRTC in 1993 Print
Written by Tom Perry   
August 18, 2013

Scanning Our History

One of my part-time projects for the GRTC is to scan back issues of the GRTC Newsletter and post them in the Newsletter Archive on the club website.  Three years ago Bob Dyjak decided to clean out his garage and gave me a box of old newsletters from the 1990s.  It seemed like a good idea to get them into digital format and put them up on the GRTC website so the club’s history could be shared.  After scanning Bob’s newsletters I put out a call to the membership for other collections. 

Bill Quinlisk and Jill Medved generously volunteered the loan of their collections.  Jill had an almost complete set of issues from 1984-1998.  Bill generously loaned his collection of almost every newsletter from the predecessor Rochester Track Club (1964-1976) and the early years of the GRTC from its founding by merger of the Rochester Track Club, the College City Striders (Brockport) and the Rochester Road Runners Club.

It takes at least 90 minutes to scan an average 24-page newsletter and convert the images to a PDF with searchable text.  Initially I thought I would complete the project in a year.  Now after three years I’ve just finished 1993 and the end is getting closer… another year of spare-time scanning and I should catch up to modern era of digital documents.       

20 Years Ago

Last Updated ( August 18, 2013 )
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From Healing to Managing Print
Written by Tom Perry   
August 18, 2013

Following is a brief observation of the arc of running injuries over my 40 years of running. 

Last Updated ( August 18, 2013 )
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More Apps for Runners Print
Written by Tom Perry   
August 18, 2013

With a majority of Americans now owning smart phones, it’s a good time to review some of the running questions that can be answered with apps that run on the iPhone and the various Android phones. 

Last Updated ( August 18, 2013 )
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Perinton and Victor Trails Linked Print
Written by Tom Perry   
August 18, 2013

Work will be completed in June linking the Victor’s Seneca Trail and Perinton’s Crescent Trail.  Together these trails will make one of the longest footpaths in the area, stretching from Fairport to Boughton Park in Bloomfield.  The trail extension is a volunteer effort of Victor Hiking Trails, “The Wednesday Group” (who do work for a number of trail organizations) and TrailsRoc.  Following is a brief description of the new trail sections from North to South:

Last Updated ( August 18, 2013 )
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Who are the Stotans? Print
Written by Tom Perry   
August 18, 2013

Who is Kip Tisia?

Looking at the results in the D&C on Monday after the Flower City Half Marathon, I was blown away by the winning men’s time… Kip Tisia (age 24, Cleveland, NY) ran 1:04:58, winning by 3:34 over arguably our best local runner, Tim Chichester (age 24, Mount Morris).  Tisia broke his own course record of 1:05:21, set last year when Tim Chicester also finished second in 1:06:54.

So, I got curious.  Who is Kip Tisia? Newspaper articles identified him as a native of Kenya who attended Youngstown State and Kent State before moving to Rochester in 2012 and who now lives in the Village of Cleveland in Oswego County.  Then I found a link to Stotan Racing and the rationale for a talented post-college athlete relocating to Central New York became clearer.

Last Updated ( August 18, 2013 )
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Ten Miles One Hour Print
Written by Tom Perry   
August 18, 2013

The first weekend in May my wife and I drove down to Philadelphia to visit family.  That happened to be the weekend of the Broad Street Run, the largest 10-mile race in the nation.  I would have signed up but registration closed back in February, capped at 40,000 runners.  But, while I wasn’t running, my niece’s husband and his best friend were entered.  Chatting with them the day before the race, I learned they both had trained specifically for the race and were making a serious effort to go under the hour this year.  Both are now over 40 and all too aware that the goal will only get harder to reach with each passing year.

Last Updated ( August 18, 2013 )
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Kings of the Road Print
Written by Tom Perry   
May 28, 2013
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Book Review:  Kings of the Road

Frank Shorter’s marathon win at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games has long been recognized as the birth of the American running boom that started in the 1970s and continues to this day.  Cameron Stracher’s new book, Kings of the Road, brings to life the events and people who made America the world leader in the marathon and set the stage for running to become a mass participation sport.  

Last Updated ( May 28, 2013 )
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Breaking the Magical Barrier Print
Written by Tom Perry   
May 28, 2013
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Breaking the Magical Barrier

A mile in under four minutes… four laps averaging less than 60 seconds per lap.  Once many thought that barrier would never be broken.  Sweden’s Arne Andersson and Gunder Hagg came close, repeatedly breaking each other’s mile record, taking the time down from 4:06.2 in 1942 to 4:01.4 in 1945.  But that was as close as they or anyone else got until nine years later.

On May 6, 1954 on Oxford’s Iffley Road Track, Roger Bannister broke through and ran the first sub-4:00 mile in history.  Bannister was known for his finishing speed.  In a carefully planned assault, three team mates paced Bannister through the first three laps, putting the time goal within reach of Bannister’s renowned finishing kick.  

Once the barrier was broken, other runners understood that this elusive goal was achievable. With improvements in training, tracks and (to some small extent) better shoes, over 1,250 men have gone sub-4:00 in the six decades since Bannister showed it could be done.

Last Updated ( May 28, 2013 )
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Will It Rain on My Run? Print
Written by Tom Perry   
May 28, 2013

Will It Rain on My Run?

You are about to go for a run in Fairport and notice some clouds building up to the west…  The Weather Channel says it is raining in Rochester… Will it rain in Fairport before you will complete your run?

You are on a long run about an hour from home when it starts to rain…  Should you take shelter to wait out a brief shower or just keep going because the rain won’t stop for at least an hour? 

Guess what?  There’s an App for these situations when a regular weather app isn’t adequate.  

Last Updated ( May 28, 2013 )
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Where We Run Print
Written by Tom Perry   
May 27, 2013
menu-spacer.pngWhere We Run

Runners started uploading their workouts to Garmin Connect over five years ago.  Since then, over 2.9 trillion miles of GPS tracks have been saved on the Garmin servers.  If there were a way to summarize and display the track data, you would be able to see the most popular streets, roads and trails in your area.In March Garmin Connect added a heat map overlay created from those uploaded GPS tracks.  To find the feature:

Last Updated ( May 28, 2013 )
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Hallux Rigidus - Injury of the Month Print
Written by Tom Perry   
March 22, 2013
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From footEducation, a very useful site created by board-certified orthopedists specializing in the feet and ankles: 

Hallux rigidus is essentially a progressive arthritis leading to stiffness and pain in the big toe joints [Figure 1A -1st MTP joint]. The loss of cartilage, which occurs first along the top half of this joint, is believed to be the result of repetitive jamming as the big toe joint attempts to move upward with each step. This can take many years to develop, but can become quite symptomatic. In the later stages of this disease process, cartilage covering the remainder of the joint surface also erodes, leading to a progressively worse and more bothersome arthritic joint.

From time to time I’ve experienced pain in the big toe joint (see example x-ray image below) over the last ten years.  The pain would show up immediately following a run or brisk walk.  Post-run my left big toe would stiffen up and would hurt most if pushed upward (like it would be at toe-off on each step).  Over time I have figured out that fast walking, especially fast walking up hills is most likely to trigger the symptoms.  [Subsequent research has confirmed that brisk walking puts the big toe through a greater range of motion than running.]  So why didn’t I remember that simple fact after my father moved into Fairport Baptist Homes in October?
Last Updated ( March 22, 2013 )
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2012 Canalway Trail User Count Print
Written by Tom Perry   
March 22, 2013
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Every year since 2005 the New York State Canal Corporation and Parks & Trails New York have done a sample count of trail users.  This annual count is used to develop a comprehensive estimate of trail use throughout the Canalway Trail System.  Decisions regarding design, funding, operation, maintenance and promotion of the Canalway Trail system are based in large part on understanding the volume and nature of trail use.

The table below shows the more recent estimates of total annual traffic for all of the sampled locations in Western and Central New York, i.e., from Tonawanda at the Niagara River to the start of the linear Old Erie Canal State Park at Dewitt (an eastside suburb of Syracuse).
Last Updated ( March 22, 2013 )
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Is There a Natural Running Style? Print
Written by Tom Perry   
March 22, 2013
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Two years ago I wrote a summary piece on barefoot running (Proceed with Caution).  A key study I discussed was the pioneering work of Dan Lieberman, Irene Davis and others published in Nature in 2010.  The Harvard scientists examined the running style of some lifelong barefoot runners who happened to be from the Kalenjin tribe in Kenya.  They found that 90% of the experienced barefoot runners in their study landed first either on the forefoot or midfoot before the heel touched down.  This single study result became the basis for many to conclude that forefoot or midfoot landing was the natural running style.

A new study with a different population of lifelong barefoot runners found much more variation in foot strike patterns and suggests there is not a single natural running style. 

Last Updated ( March 22, 2013 )
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Four Hour Marathon Barrier Print
Written by Tom Perry   
February 9, 2013
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Four Hour Marathon Barrier

The graph below from the Athlinks Facebook page demonstrates the power of an arbitrary time goal to shape behavior.  My hypothesis is that somewhere around 20 miles into the marathon, the runners, especially the guys, start doing some mental math:  “Can I get under four hours?  As long as the answer is “Yes,” the runners, especially the guys, do their best to avoid slowing and stay on pace to finish under four hours.  If the answer is “No,” the runners back off the jets and cruise on in. 

Last Updated ( February 9, 2013 )
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