Friday, April 26, 2013

Dog Days of Spring

Felled by a bad cold for far too many days this week, I finally made it back onto some dirt with our ever ready dog.  We were both a bit slow, both a bit tired (notice the tongue), but we enjoyed the early evening - tapping out a nice rhythm on the way home down Quigley Canyon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Science Wire: New Study Details Risk of Taking Pain Medication Before Endurance Running Races

A new study published last week in British Medical Journal: Open adds more evidence to the dangers of taking pain relief medication before a long running event.

German researchers studied 3900 runners of the Bonn Marathon and Half Marathon, asking them to report their pain medication use before the event and any adverse events experienced during or after the race.

Half of the runners reported using pain medication before the race, with the most popular drug being diclofenac (which isn’t often used in the United States), followed by ibuprofen and aspirin.

Researchers found that those runners who took pain medications experienced significantly higher rates of stomach/GI cramps, GI bleeding, heart-related problems, and bloody urine compared to those who didn’t take any medications. All serious events requiring hospital visits (though only 9 in number) were in the pain medication group, with the three instances of temporary kidney failure in those who had taken ibuprofen.

Not surprisingly, but also not documented previously, the higher the medication dose taken before racing, the more likely it was that adverse events occurred. But even at low doses, the risk of adverse events was higher in users than non-users.

Researchers also found that pain medication didn’t seem to offer much benefit to offset the risks. While those in the medication group had slightly fewer muscle cramps during the race compared to non-users, they didn’t experience less soreness or joint pain. In fact, medication users had higher rates of soreness and pain after the event than non-users.

While it’s not perfectly understood why pain medication may lead to adverse events during endurance running, it could be that such medications inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which have hormone-like qualities that help protect tissue from damage. Inhibiting prostaglandin production could make tissue damage to the GI tract, heart, and kidneys more likely, especially under the stress of a long athletic event.

Taken together, these results are pretty compelling that taking pain medication before long endurance running events likely provides little benefit and can come with some real risks . While these results can’t be directly transposed to ultramarathons, it’s not too far fetched to think that the risks of using pain medications before or during such events would at a minimum match, and possibly exceed, those detailed in this study.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Looking Back on My 2005 Boston Marathon Photos

I lived in Boston for seven years in the late nineties, but it wasn't until I'd returned to the West Coast that I punched my ticket for the Boston Marathon in 2005.  I was in the middle of a training block for an Ironman (it was before my ultra days) and not really in any sort of marathon fitness.  But it was a great opportunity for some hard miles on storied ground - the same ground I'd gone to year after year as a spectator to watch the likes of Uta Pippig, Moses Tanui, and Cosmas Ndeti unravel their opponents.

So on that warm spring day in 2005, I toed the line and carried my camera (yes, even back then) and snapped some photos on the trip from Hopkinton to Boston.  A few times a year, I think about some of the photos I took that day, but I hadn't actually looked at them for a number of years - until Monday, after the bombings.

What I see in the photos from that day - more so now than ever - is a community in celebration stretching the full 26.2 miles, and it comes to a head on that final stretch down Boylston Street, where five deep crowds and their roar push the mid-packers and leaders alike to the finish.  It's like nothing else I've experienced in sport, really.

I know I can't really add anything to the discussions of the past few days that hasn't been said.  I simply wanted to share the photos from my experience that seemed to capture the spirit of the Boston Marathon - a spirit that no event, however tragic - will ever suppress.

Early miles
Getting close to the Newton Hills

Baby on board
Spectators the full length

One for the road

The half

Near the Citgo sign and Fenway Park

Down Boylston to the finish


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lingering Spring, Worderland Dreams, and a North Seattle Photo Tour

Until the singletrack thaws and dries a bit more, there's won't be too much interesting to write about on the backcountry running front here in the high mountains.  Yet, it's shaping up to be a great season, what with the early spring and some nice indications that I have a good shot at some fun ultra-distance outings this year.  Top of this list - because what is a running season without a few goals? - is an early September unsupported trip around the Wonderland Trail, which circumnavigates Mt. Rainier.

While planning and training for that outing are in embryonic stages, I recently found myself in the shadow of that hallowed ground on a spring break trip to Seattle with my family.  While there, I could have sought out some of the classic singletrack the area has to offer.  Instead, I took my runs to the road, which is always a nice switch since the vast majority of my miles are trail miles in the high season.

Road running in the city also offers a completely different set of photo opportunities.  So I took my camera out on one of my North Seattle/Burke-Gilamn Trail runs to document things. Photos below.  Slideshow, here.

Separation:  On the Burke-Gilman Trail
Kenmore Air and Lake Washington
Group ride
The industrial side

Spring in Lake Forest Park
The past