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My Three Favorite Inflammation Remedies

My Three Favorite Inflammation Remedies are delicious and there are many more that you can incorporate into your diet. Read my blog to learn why I transitioned from pills to food.

In my recent post 2019 Running Review I mentioned that I transitioned from Ibuprofen to natural inflammation remedies.

This comment generated a lot of interest and questions.

Most of what I know is from journal and news articles and anecdotal stories from friends.

I decided to write this post to answer some of the questions and take an overview of some articles on the subject.

Natural Remedy Skepticism

In The West we have long been accustomed to doctors doing procedures and prescribing medications. There seems to be a drug or procedure for everything.

Watching TV, I am often surprised to learn about new drugs for conditions I have never heard of.

Most of us have cabinets full of drugs we use without much thought. If they are available without a prescription, they have to be safe, right?

In ancient times before chemistry and modern science, physicians derived remedies from the plants and minerals around them.

aspirin
courtesy – nih.gov

Hippocrates recommended chewing on willow bark to relieve pain and fever.

Willow bark contains salicin and German scientists isolated salicylic acid from willow bark in the early 1800’s.

It was expensive to extract, tasted awful and could cause bleeding. In the late 1890’s scientists at Bayer synthesised acetylsalicylic acid which Bayer went on to sell under the brand name Aspirin. 1

Peruvian bark, which contained quinine, was used to treat malaria. Today you can buy quinine over the counter. 2

While our ancestors chewed on bark or drank bitter concoctions, we now get most of our treatments through a tablet or pill. Bayer actually created the first tablets with aspirin to counter competitors.

In part, because most of our medicines come in a bottle these days the efficacy of natural remedies is questioned by many.

How can spices or teas do anything? They are just food and food is not medicine.

Many societies still rely on natural treatments

In a CNN series Chasing Life, Dr. Sanjay Gupta examined how societies around the world maintain health and treat illness.

In one episode he traveled to Kerala state in India. Thousands of years ago in this Indian state they began the practice called Ayurveda which means the science of life. 3

It was a fascinating program. While Ayurveda involves much more than just using food as medicine they did discuss the spices that go into the foods this practice utilizes.

In addition to ginger and cinnamon they used spices we associate with Indian food like cumin, turmeric, hot peppers and others. The food looked unbelievable.

It’s difficult to believe there isn’t something to a medical practice which has survived thousands of years.

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

I’m not a medical professional or scientist. I’m just a runner who is constantly dealing with inflammation. Between muscles, joints and tendons, I often experience pain from inflammation.

In the past I would take Ibuprofen or Tylenol to manage this pain.

I had bursitis in my left hip for years. A few years ago I visited an orthopedist due to chronic knee pain. I’ve pulled or strained various muscles in my legs over the past seventeen years.

Over the years my doctors have recommended rest and ice, sometimes compression and elevation.

None prescribed meds and my PCP and orthopedist both cautioned me about over-use of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Acetaminophen controls pain but does not reduce inflammation. Controlling pain is good, but my pain is often caused by inflammation. Taking too much acetaminophen can damage the liver, sometimes leading to a liver transplant or death.

Doses over 3,900 milligrams or 12 325 mg pills per day can cause liver toxicity. The safest daily dose is 8 pills or 2,600 mgs. 4

Years ago I stopped taking Tylenol and started taking Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID.

NSAIDS do treat pain and inflammation, so I thought I was doing the right thing.

When treating an injury I would often take the maximum daily dose (1200 mg) for weeks.

According to the FDA: NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding, reduced kidney function, and other side effects. The chance of harmful side effects increases the more you take and the longer you take them. 5

A small study published in the July 2017 edition of Emergency Medicine Journal found that 44% of ultra-marathoners who took 400 mg of ibuprofen three to four times toward the end a seven-day, 155-mile race experienced significant reduction of kidney function. 6

The study only had 89 participants in an extreme event but it did highlight the risk of kidney damage. Taking the maximum dose over a prolonged period may have similar consequences for the rest of us.

During several marathons I took 400 mg of ibuprofen. While that is a lower dose and a less extreme event than the study cited above, my kidneys were probably impacted.

When I learned how both classes of drugs could effect my health I made changes.

My Inflammation Remedies

As I mentioned before, I’m not a medical professional or scientist. Please consult your physician before changing your treatment.

First I switched to ibuprofen and then in 2018 I cut back on ibuprofen. Then I began to read about foods and spices that have anti-inflammatory properties.

I was surprised to learn that spices in my own kitchen were potent anti-inflammatories.

turmeric curcumin
Courtesy – Happy Happy Vegan

Both ginger and cinnamon have anti-inflammatory properties. Most studies use purified, concentrated and precise doses of these spices. In order to conduct a scientifically valid study you have to use standardized extracts and try to control all variables.

You can search the web and find thousands of studies on these and other spices. Some using purified extracts others using common spices.

One VA study looked at 247 patients with significant knee pain over a six-week study period. 7

The VA study found a statistically significant difference in the relief of knee pain between the control group and those receiving the concentrated ginger extract.

Both spices have been in common use for centuries and their medicinal properties have been known for that long also.

You can buy concentrated extracts at your local drug store, or you can eat delicious food.

A cinnamon roll each morning doesn’t have enough spice to make any difference. I think I’m pretty safe in saying that.

Inflammation Remedies that work for me

Most days I have oatmeal for breakfast. I used to add brown sugar and raisins, but cut the sugar and added ginger and cinnamon.

The raisins add enough sweetness and the spices add a lot of flavor.

I’m not a scientist, so you wont find me in the kitchen with a scale or even measuring spoons.

Cinnamon, anti inflammatory spices, Inflammation RemediesI add 3/4 cup of oatmeal and about an ounce of raisins to a Pyrex container. To that I add 2-3 shakes of cinnamon and 1-2 shakes of ginger.

My guess is that this equals about 1-2 teaspoons of each spice.

I’ve tried adding more but the flavor can be overwhelming. I also try not to eat an entire cup of oatmeal for breakfast.

If I’m dealing with an injury I have this breakfast 5-6 days a week.

Green Tea

green tea, anti inflammatory foods, Inflammation RemediesProbably 15 years ago I started drinking water at work. I wanted to reduce my coffee consumption and to stop drinking soda.

Over the years my daily water consumption has increased. To make things more interesting I started adding two bags of green tea to my water bottle.

After about five minutes the tea infuses into the water and adds some flavor.

I use two to four bags of green tea five days a week and sometimes at home also.

The health-promoting effects of green tea are mainly attributed to its polyphenol flavonoids which can represent 30% of fresh leaf dry weight.

Green tea is not fermented like black tea so the flavonoids are preserved. This gives green tea it’s healthy benefits. 8

If an average teabag contains 1.5 grams of tea or 1500 mg, then each bag contains approximately  450 mg of polyphenol flavonoids.

Two bags of tea per day should be enough to achieve the healthful benefits, according to some studies.

Studies have also confirmed that green tea helps control Type II diabetes, blood pressure and many other conditions.

Conclusion

As a runner, I train and push my body twelve months of the year. I consistently experience higher levels of inflammation than most people.

Now I only take ibuprofen for a head ache, and those are rare.

We all experience inflammation caused by the environment and stress so I think that anyone can benefit from adding these food items to their diet.

Consuming tea, ginger and cinnamon are part of my regular diet now.

If you add these items to your diet your health will benefit also.

You don’t like tea, ginger or cinnamon? Try adding or consuming more of these spices:

inflammation remedies, spices
naturalstacks.com

1. Curcumin (Turmeric)
2. Ginger
3. Spirulina
4. Cayenne pepper
5. Cinnamon
6. Cloves
7. Sage
8. Rosemary
9. Black pepper
10. Green tea 9

There are so many great options.

Eat well my Friends!

Andy

Health On Sale

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1119266/

2.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_aspirin
3. https://www.cnn.com/shows/chasing-life
4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/acetaminophen-safety-be-cautious-but-not-afraid
5. https://www.fda.gov/media/112979/download
6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-it-safe-to-take-ibuprofen-for-the-aches-and-pains-of-exercise-2017080912185
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709 – VA study
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855614/#B1
9. https://www.naturalstacks.com/blogs/news/anti-inflammatory-herbs

New England Marathons Winter 2020

Fortunately the New England winter Marathons and Ultras were run before COVID-19 derailed everyone’s running season.

In a few months I start making updates for Winter ’21.

Stay healthy and hopefully I’ll see you at a race soon.

Winter isn’t the most popular season for marathon running and Winter New England Marathons are few and far between!

It’s hard enough to train in winter conditions let alone trying to run a marathon!

The Roxbury and Millinocket marathons take place before the Winter Solstice and Millinocket is the only December marathon in New England. I’ve also included them in the fall directory where they belong.

Astronomical Winter 2019 officially begins on Saturday, December 21st at 11:19 PM EST. The “Winter Solstice” marks the beginning of winter. On the Winter Solstice the sun reaches the southern most point in the sky at Noon local time.

After the Winter Solstice each day grows longer until the Summer Solstice, the day with the most sun light.

After the Winter Solstice, the northern hemisphere continues to cool for the next two months. That is why February has some of the coldest days of the year. We also tend to get our greatest snowfall in February.

All of this makes running or racing a character building experience!

Click on race names for the latest details. Let me know if you know of other New England Winter Marathons. 

New England Marathons Winter

15th Annual Roxbury Marathon

TBD November 2020 | 8:30 AM  | Saturday

Hurlburt Recreation Area – 18 Apple Lane, Roxbury CT

This scenic, hilly, no-frills, early winter 26.2 mile foot race will cost you only $40 or $35 for the Half.

Race day registration is $50 for either race.

In 2017 there were only 57 finishers. This race is not for the casual runner.

Here is a report on the 2017 race.

Registration opens July 15th

Millinocket Marathon and Half 2020

5 December | 10 AM | Saturday

33 Penobscot Ave Millinocket, Maine

In 2018 184 runners crossed the Marathon line and 1120 finished the Half!

213 runners from across the country ran the Marathon in 2017. Maine runners took the top three finishes. 942 runners completed the Half.

In 2015, six runners ran the marathon and 42 finished the Half.

This race continues to grow in popularity and make contributions to the Millinocket region.

Our FREE marathon & half was started in 2015 to help a struggling northern Maine mill town that has been devastated by the closing of their major employer. Do not run Millinocket for what you get instead RUN MILLINOCKET for what you GIVE. Please do not take spots in our race unless you are serious about doing your very best to show up (of course we know life happens) but please don’t register just because our race is free. All participants are required to generously patronize Katahdin area businesses in lieu of an entry fee. Our 2016 edition was a tremendous success and we look forward to growing our event in 2017 and all the positive influence it brings!

Millinocket used to be a mill town with two paper mills. When I was growing up the economy and the town were vibrant. The high school had competitive sports teams and they were just another city in Maine.

Now the mills are gone and times have changed in Millinocket. The organizers of this race seek to draw runners from near and far to help inject a little economic life into this Northern Maine town.

As they say in the quote above, don’t sign up just because it is free. Sign up because you want to run the race and provide some stimulus to the local economy while you are there.

Registration is open

Arena Attack Race Series Indoor New England Marathons

Imagine running in a proper distance race, in the middle of a typical New England winter, but you can dress like its September. Awesome, right? We thought so too… so we made it reality. Introducing the Arena Attack Indoor Road Race Series! Utilizing the wide concourses found in indoor arenas, we run distance races ranging from 5k to the marathon.

This was a series of the running events, each consisting of a marathon, half and 5K. For 2020 it looks like they are only having the Hartford event.

Here are some of the things that you can look forward to at your Arena Attack Race:

NEW FOR 2020! All marathon & half marathon finishers receive awesome Arena Attack shirts!
Finisher medals made from stainless steel, made by a CT-based explosion proofing company.
Race distances include marathon, half marathon, & 5k.
We control the climate, so we can make sure the conditions are optimal.
Perfectly flat course!
Absolutely spectator-friendly! You’ll see your runner on each lap.
Water stations and real bathrooms are never more than a half-lap away!
We digitally track your laps and project your lap count clearly in your line of sight.
On-course music keeps the runners and spectators entertained all day.

XL Center Hartford, CT 

25 January 2020 |9 AM | Saturday

Runners will complete 130 laps on the course with a 5 hour time limit. The marathon has a waiting list as of 2 December. Registration is $90.00 if a spot opens

Mullins Center Amherst, MA

20 January 2020 | 8 AM 

Marathon runners will complete 133 laps on the course within 5 hours. Registration is $80.00. There is also a half-marathon and a 5K option. 

Boston Prep 16 Miler and 5 Miler

26 January 2020 – 10:00 AM – Sunday

West Running Brook Middle School – Derry, NH

Derry 16 miler, winter running

I’ve run this race twice and it’s been very cold or freezing both times. The first time I ran the race the school parking lot was glazed in black ice. I kept sliding down the parking lot while waiting for the race to begin.

Bring your big boy shorts for this run!

The 25th Annual Northeast Delta Dental Boston Prep – this moderately challenging 16-miler is ideally scheduled for runners training for the Boston Marathon, any other spring marathon or a Runner looking for a mid-winter challenge! Are you a regular runner but not ready for a full 16? Try the “BP-Lite,” which offers a taste of the Boston Prep experience on a 5 mile course!

Registration was $65 through January 13th, then $70 and $75 on race day. a 5-Miler option is available for $30.00

Everyone should put this race on their bucket list. It really is an experience not to be missed.

Here is my 2015 race recap.

2019 Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & Marathon Team Relay 

23 February 2020 10:00 AM – Sunday 

Hyannis, MA

New England Marathons Winter, Hyannis MarathonRegistration was: Marathon registration is $65 through January 15th, Half is $57 and the 10K is $50. The Marathon relay is $115 per team.

The marathon has a registration limit of 400 runners, so don’t wait!

These races are USATF Certified:

  • USATF Certification # MA11001RN – Marathon
  • USATF Certification # MA11002RN – Half Marathon
  • Boston Marathon Qualifier – 6 Hour Course Time Limit

2020 ALL Race Results

PEAK Snow Devil Winter Races

29 February 2020 – 8:00 AM – Saturday

Pittsfield, VT

This is a snow shoe event where you can run a 100 miler, a Marathon, Half Marathon or a 10K. The 100 miler begins at 6AM on February 22nd and the Marathon begins at 8AM, Half at 9AM and the 10K at 10AM all on February 23rd.

Snow shoes are required and this is another race not for the faint of heart. The course is a 6.5 mile loop with 1200 feet vertical. Only 13 runners finished the marathon in 2018!

Registration was $225 for the 100 Miler, $95 for the Marathon, $75 for the Half and $65 for the 10K.


New England Mararthons Winter

The Ocean’s Run Marathon, Half Marathon, 4 Miler & Kids’ Fun Run

TBD March, 2020 – 8:00 AM – Saturday – may have been cancelled

Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly, RI

All courses are USATF Certified and the marathon is a Boston Qualifier! This race has always been a great tune-up for Boston and other late Spring Marathons.

This race winds through the quiet Westerly beach communities of Misquamicut and Weekapaug. There are water views at nearly every stretch of the race. With hardly any climbs to speak of, this race is fast and furious!!

The race starts and finish at the Misquamicut State Beach! A portion of the proceeds to benefit The Westerly Track and Athletic Club!

Registration for 2020 has not opened. In 2019 registration was: Marathon – $90.00,1/2 Marathon – $60.00 and 4 Miler – $30.

This race received some bad reviews for 2019 and I do not see any information listed for 2020. It looks like this race will not be held in 2020. If you hear differently, please contact me.

The Hampton Half 

7 March | 10:00 AM | Sunday

Hampton Beach, NH

I know it’s not a marathon, but who wants to sit around until spring?

I’ve run this half three times. It’s a great way to polish off winter.

It’s often cold and sometimes there is a cold breeze off of the Gulf of Maine. Sometimes it’s just a beautiful day.

Here is my 2019 race Recap.

This is a USATF measured and certified course.

Registration is open!

Winter officially ends on March 20th, 2019 so this is the end of my list.

If you are a race director and I have missed your race please contact me at: info@omnirunning.com. If you are not a race director and know of a marathon that I missed, please contact me at the same email.

Run well my Friends and try to keep warm!

Andy

2020 Hangover Classic

Nothing like a 10K to get the year off to a great start!

I’ve run the Hangover Classic seven times now?

It’s been much colder and much warmer, but this year was pretty good. Temps were in the 30’s and there wasn’t too much wind. The sky was clear so when we had sun and no wind it was quite nice.

This race is so flat that my Garmin didn’t register any elevation gain at all! I know there were a few rises in the road. One time I could hear the guy behind me groan as the road rose to meet our feet. It was almost funny.

2020 Hangover Classic 10K Exactly

Have you ever run an exact distance for a race?

I’ve run a few that were short, including a 5K that was 2.8 miles. I won’t mention any names but the management company has been in the game for years.

I’ve also run a few races that were long. The Bill Rodgers Jingle Bell Run was 3.4 miles and they posted it as such. They had to re-route the race due to construction in Somerville.

It’s easy to over run a marathon and I usually come in around 26.5 or so. Over 26.2 miles, that’s not too bad.

It’s never exact, but sometimes…

My distance for the Hangover Classic was exactly 6.2 miles! I’ve never run the distance exactly.

I started my watch right on the line and stopped it just a few feet after crossing.

So they measured exactly and placed the start/finish exactly where it needed to be. A perfect execution.

I can’t take too much credit for running the correct distance. There aren’t too many opportunities to get lost and few turns to take long.

Except for the first mile and the turn around at mile three, all you had to do was run strait down the road. Piece cake. Cake by the Ocean!

While the race was uneventful I did run a first, the exact race distance.

Running the Hangover Classic

I got to the race nice and early and had a chance to talk to the timing folks. We had a few laughs and then I had to let them get back to work.

The sun kept my car warm and I read a newspaper. I enjoy reading words on paper, but never seem to have the time anymore.

Since I was 100 yards from the start I waited until 11:20 to head for the start.

The Atlantic wind blew down Broadway and made me anxious to start running.

As I looked around, the crowd looked a little thin. Maybe it was my imagination, but there seemed to be more runners in previous years.

We started on time and I was in the first third of the crowd. I found it easy to navigate the few turns and quickly got up to speed.

By the time we wound through the neighborhood and hit mile one I had an 8:06 mile under my belt.

I hadn’t run in a week and was only shooting for 9 minute miles. I told myself that the first mile is the easy one and the last one can be a bitch.

As we headed out onto Route 1A I consciously tried to slow. I’d get behind someone and try to stay a few feet behind them.

But, inevitably I would end up passing. My legs were just surging and at times it felt like the wind was pushing me along.

We’re not talking blazing speed here, but my goal was nine-minute miles. Mile two came in at 8:17.

By this point in the race my legs were stretched out and I just had to decide what I wanted to do.

Around 2.4 miles the leaders started passing us on their way back to the finish. The first five were close but there was a gap between them and the next runners.

I started counting runners and the first woman was 20th at this point.

Just before mile three we took a right to loop through a neighborhood for the turn. We hit mile 3 on the loop and my mile was 8:24. Getting closer!

As we made the turn I thanked the volunteers at both corners. They must have been a little chilly.

Now we had the long slog back to the finish. Most of it was right down Route 1A and I settled in.

There were a few walkers in both directions.

I had been counting runners since the leaders passed us. I had estimated that there were at least 100 in front of me and probably 150 behind me.

As people passed me I had to do a little math.

Mile 4: 8:13, Mile 5: 8:24, Mile 6: 8:31

I didn’t really plan to kick and kind of felt I had left it all out there. This is the end of lazy season after all.

When I saw the six-mile sign on the ground I knew I had 0.2 to go and kicked it in. When I saw the three-mile sign I knew I had 0.1 to go.

As we made the turn and approached the finish I could not believe that the clock said 51:30, tick tock. I kicked in what I had left and managed an official finish of 51:28.1.

Not a blazing time, but not bad for a guy who’s spent most of the past ten days with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other!

I came in 108 out of 288 10K runners, so my estimates were pretty close. They had 10-year age brackets and I came in 24 out of 52.

FULL RESULTS

2020 is off to a good start and I’m really looking forward to a great year of running and of life!

Run well my Friends and Happy New Year!

Andy

2019 Running Review

It’s time to review my 2019 running goals and take the lessons learned along the way. Have you had a 2019 running review to take some lessons?

It’s that time of year to look back on the past twelve months and look forward to the coming year.

I don’t like to make New Year’s Resolutions as they seem to be short lived by nature. I prefer to set out goals for the year. They are pretty much the same thing but goals tend to persist.

For 2019, my goal was to run 1,000 miles. My stretch goal was to run 3 miles per day or 1,095 miles.

I’ve never run 1,000 miles in a year and I didn’t do it this year either!

2019 Running Review

I did run 957.37 miles on 152 runs. This includes 250.2 racing miles which is an all time high by about 45 miles.

I ran 31 races in 2019 including The Boston Marathon and The Philadelphia Marathon, 9 half- marathons, 4 10Ks, 2 5 Milers and 11 5K or close to 5K races. I also ran a 1 miler and a 15K race.

Hangover Classic 10K 2019, Salisbury Beach, MAI started the year off with The Hangover Classic 10K in Salisbury, MA. Over the past 10 years, I’ve run this race seven times. One year I ran the 5K with my daughter, another year I ran another race.

Getting 6.2 miles under your belt on January 1st is a great way to start the year.

There are a few races I run almost every year like The Hangover Classic, but I like to mix things up.

A few times in 2019 I gave away my registration due to unforeseen conflicts. Over the years I’ve been the recipient of such generosity.

A few years ago I had to pass on to a colleague a Boston Marathon charity bib with the fundraising obligation covered! That’s like a Willie Wonka golden ticket! Who hasn’t seen an Umpa-Loopa somewhere out there on Comm. Ave?

BAA 10K Running Streak

Melrose Running Club, BAA 10K 2018The BAA 10K is my only streak race. I’ve run each one since they added this race in 2011. My goal is to keep running this race until I can’t run anymore.

It’s a great 10K that starts on The Boston Common, runs out Comm Ave to the BU Agganis Arena and turns around.

Held the 3rd Sunday in June, it’s usually hot. Sometimes blazing hot. A few years ago in poured cats and dogs right up until the race started and then turned into a sauna. Steam was rising off of the pavement!

It’s a massive race with well over 5,000 runners. There are so many runners that they start the race in waves. I’m not sure if they did this early on but the race has become very popular.

Two Marathons for 2019

I was fortunate enough to get a 2019 Boston Marathon charity bib again. This was my ninth time running Boston over the past 17 years.

Between work and laziness I didn’t do all of the training that I should have. My training went pretty well and I had a decent 20 mile long-run. Better than some of my previous year’s 20 milers.

I ran Boston on April 15th and finished in 4:14:56. Excepting for 2018, this was my slowest Boston in five years. 2018 was 4:46:20 but we had horizontal rain the entire way and no one set any world records that year.

Philadelphia Marathon new the finish, Andy NagelinIn November I traveled to Philadelphia with two friends to run The Philadelphia Marathon. While not my first destination marathon it felt like it.

Leading up to Philly I ran five half marathons for training. All of them felt pretty good and were well under two hours. The relative success of these comfortable halfs had lulled me into complacency.

But experience kept reminding me to respect the distance and that you get back what you put in.

Philly is a great marathon and I’d encourage anyone to run it. It is a big city marathon but doesn’t feel as big or produced as Boston.

The weather was cold, it rained the last hour of my run and I did not execute well.

My finish time was 4:21:09. I had hoped for 4 but deserved nothing better than 4:30. So no complaints on my finish time.

The race organization left a few things to desire, but you can read about that in my Philadelphia Marathon Review.

2019 was the third year in a row that I’ve run two marathons. I hope to keep that streak alive in 2020.

Goals set and Goals missed

The closest I’ve come to running 1,000 miles was in 2014. I ran  977.82 miles over 123 runs including three marathons.

When you have three marathons on your calendar you do a lot of training. By the time my third marathon came around, The Baystate Marathon, a certain amount of joy of the run was missing. I ran my 2nd fastest marathon at Baystate – 3:49, two minutes off my previous year’s finish.

That same year I ran one of my most magical races, The Bay Of Fundy International MarathonI went with my oldest sister and we ran into friends of hers, went to the runner’s dinner and met a physics student from Heidelberg. He had hitch-hiked from Boston and was Air BnBing on someone’s couch. Everyone in town knew him!

He didn’t have a ride back to Boston, so I drove him. We spent the night at my sister’s and I think he had a great experience with us Americans. I dropped him off at North Station so he could get to Syracuse University for some physics experiments.

2019 was my 2nd highest miles run. So having a goal, even without three marathons, helped me.

Lessons learned

Over the past seventeen years, I’ve had a variety of injuries. These effected the number of miles I ran and my speed.

Runners are always learning and avoiding injury and recovery is probably the most important lesson to learn.

My knees bothered me so much in 2018 that I consulted with an orthopedist and had PT. By the end of the year I was well enough to run Honolulu and improve my finish there by almost eleven minutes.

In the past, if I had inflammation I’d take the maximum dose of ibuprofen. And I’d do this for months at a time.

In 2018 I stopped that and began to use spices with anti-inflammatory properties. It may sound crazy but I ran Honolulu in December 2018 and didn’t have any significant running issues in 2019.

Looking back on 2019 that seems pretty remarkable to me. I probably took 5 ibuprofen all year and those were for headaches.

Food as medicine is real.

In 2018 my sister also turned me onto Arenica gel. It’s a topical anti-inflammatory and it seems to work. When ever my knees or IT bands are sore I rub that gel on and the pain and tightness goes away.

You can get in at any pharmacy and it’s relatively inexpensive. Best of all, it doesn’t mess with your liver or kidneys.

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned over the past 17 years is consistency.

It’s better to run shorter distances five times a week instead of two long runs. You’re more likely to get injured running two long runs. And the ease of shorter runs helps keep the motivation level up.

When setting a goal such as 1,000 miles or 3 miles per day, consistency is also important.

I was within 50 miles of my goal early in December. I could have pushed hard and hit my goal but I would have risked injury. I had too many other obligations and I just had to let it go.

This is similar to running a race. There is always a point in a race where I question how much I want it. I tell my self I didn’t train for this race, didn’t train enough period. I’m just running for fun.

Those moments of doubt and hesitation can be the difference between a PR or achieving an incremental goal and just another finish.

Large goals like 1,000 or 1,095 miles need to be chunked and each chunk needs to be met. Otherwise, you end up in December with the goal within sight but out of reach.

I didn’t reach my goal for 2019 but I learned a few things, and I’ll take that.

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Philadelphia Marathon 2019

The 2019 Philadelphia Marathon was a destination race for me. State number six of 50! It was cold and wet, but not as bad as Boston in 2018!

The Philadelphia Marathon was a destination marathon for me.

At age 55 I still hold onto the dream of running a marathon in all 50 states. Pennsylvania was my sixth state.

Friends have run Philly and had good things to say about it, so why not? I’m not getting any younger!

The 25th Philadelphia Marathon for 12,985 registered runners. The official results show that 10,061 runners completed the course.

At the Expo Bart Yasso mentioned that he had run the marathon in the 80’s. It had either been discontinued for a few years or held in a different location for a few years. We didn’t get the details on that.

Philadelphia Marathon Weekend

Like all big city marathons, Philadelphia makes it a weekend event.

The Expo opened on Friday with meet and greats with Meb Keflezighi and Desiree Linden. Meb and Desi also participated in discussions moderated by Bart Yasso on Friday and Saturday.

Bart and Bill Rodgers also spoke on Friday and Saturday on “Marathon Running Over the Years.”

Three Olympians with six Boston Marathon wins between them!

Marathon weekend running begins with the The Rothman Orthopaedics 8K and the Dietz & Watson Half Marathon on Saturday for a combined 20,000+ runners. The half begins at 7:30 AM and 8K begins at 10:40, so you can run both races and the marathon on Sunday.

Running all three races constitutes the Freedom Challenge. 

You can also run the marathon and the half or 8K for the The Independence Challenge, or the half and full for The Liberty Bell Challenge, respectively.

Also on Saturday morning they had the Dunkin’ Munchkin Runs for kids from 3-12. There are non-competitive age-group dashes and then a 1.5 mile run for kids 6-12.

On Sunday at 7:00 AM The Philadelphia Marathon begins.

The Road to Philly

I registered for the Philly Marathon on June 10th and planned to go with Durm Cahill and Mike Sikkema. 

We made hotel reservations and bought train tickets. Then about four months ago Durm got broke.

On one of his long runs he torqued his hip and barely ran all summer. Everything was paid for, including the marathon and he had to take a pass. It just wasn’t  going to happen.

About two weeks before the race another friend Jose Viveiros heard us talking about the marathon and Durm offered him his number. It was totally last minute.

Jose has had his own health issues over the summer and wasn’t really in marathon shape. He’s more of an Utra guy and I guess those are quite different than a marathon.

Philadelphia Marathon, Andy Nagelin, Mike Sikkema, Jose Viveiros
Three Amigos at Philadelphia Marathon

We met at South Station in Boston for the six-hour Amtrak ride to Philly.

Mike put in some good training over the summer but didn’t feel fully prepared. I ran most of the Sunday Long Runs and then used half marathons on most weekends for my long run training. Jose hadn’t really done much distance training in a few months.

Mike was shooting for a 3:05 finish but didn’t feel like that was going to happen. Jose just wanted to finish before the six-hour cut-off. I was hoping for four-hours but knew that 4:30 was more likely.

We had fun talking and watching the cities and towns go by. It was a very comfortable ride.

The Notary Hotel Entrance - Philadelphia We stayed at The Notary which was only about five minutes from Union Station. The building was the former City Hall Annex which was built in 1926 and turned into a hotel in 1986(?) by Marriott. In the deal with the city Marriott kept many of the historic details.

It was a great location and not just another hotel.

Hanging and Chillin in Philly

Mike lived in Philadelphia for a few years and Jose had hoped to do some sight seeing.

We arrived in Philly late in the afternoon and took a short cab ride to our hotel.

I made the reservation for three adults and requested a roll-away bed. When we arrived the roll-away was not on the reservation and it took several hours and two requests to get it delivered.

While the guys waited in the room, I got in a much needed 3.2 mile treadmill run. My taper had been quite severe!

After I showered and changed and the bed arrived we headed out for dinner. We were up for an adventure, but needed to save our legs. We ended up eating at a sports bar down the street from the hotel. The food was really good. I had one beer and helped Jose finish his.

On the way back we stopped at a 7-11 for some food for the room.

We got to bed around 10PM but Mike and I woke early. Mike went out for a five mile run and I took a shower. Jose got up after Mike showered and we headed for the Expo after Jose showered.

Philly Marathon Expo

Saturday morning we headed for the Expo. Durm and I had paid the $20 fee to have our packet mailed to us. When we registered travel arrangements were unknown. Mike needed to get his packet.

It was a short walk to the Convention Center in the crisp fall air. Mike got his packet quickly and we started walking around.

The Boston Marathon Expo is packed. Those vendors pay a small fortune to be there and they get about 40,000 runners and friends looking for cool stuff.

The Philadelphia Marathon Expo was more like the Honolulu Marathon Expo. Honolulu had about a third of the vendors of Boston. Philly had about the same space as Honolulu, but there were empty booths!

We got there around 10AM so all vendors should have been in place. The vendors that were there didn’t have many hand-outs. We all love free samples.

We did stumble upon Meb Keflezighi and Desiree Linden’s presentation at 10:35. I really wanted to see them speak and it turned out to be worth it.

Both of them are so humble and normal and they have both reached the highest heights of our sport.

Desiree Linden, Meb Keflezighi, Bart Yasso, Philadelphia Marathon Expo 2019Meb talked about growing up literally dirt poor in Eritrea. No running water or electricity and they ate dirt sometimes. Just to survive.

In six months he learned Italian when they finally made it to Italy. Eventually they made it to The United States and pursued The American Dream.

One day in gym class the gym teacher had them run a mile. The winner got a t-shirt and a medal. Meb ran something like a 5:20 mile and the gym teacher told him that he was going to The Olympics!

Meb didn’t know what The Olympics were, but he wanted that t-shirt and the medal!

Desi talked about loosing The Boston Marathon by two seconds! Instead of being defeated, she used that memory to win the 2018 Boston Marathon.

She told us how she almost dropped out of the 2018 Boston Marathon because she didn’t feel it that day. We all felt the pride when she won the race less than two hours after that moment of doubt!

I have to tell you that when Meb was telling his story, my eyes were not dry! He has such gratitude for what this country has given him. And he gave us Boston in 2014.

The three of us loved their talk.

After the Expo we headed to Reading Market for lunch. We tried to get in Friday night, but they closed at 6PM.

Mike got a Philly Cheese Steak and I got some of the best ribs eva! Jose got a smoothy. We headed back to the hotel to eat and hang out.

When room service showed up we were laying on the beds watching TV with our feet up. We had to explain that we only needed more coffee.

Later we went to Mariano’s for dinner and then went to 7-11 and Dunkin Donuts for race day supplies.

Running The Philadelphia Marathon

Cold Streets of PhiladelphiaWe got to bed around 10PM but we all woke up several times during the night. Around 3AM I gave up and started checking my email and the weather.

It looked like the rain would hold off until after or late into the race.

By 5AM we were all dressed and ready to run. Since we were so close to the start, Mike and I didn’t leave until 6AM. Jose headed over after us.

The security seemed tighter than Boston. We had to take off our stuff and walk through a metal detector. I used magnets to hold my bib on and they didn’t set off the machine.

The entire start area was dark and chaotic. We made our way through a lawn of mud to UPS trucks for the bag drop. Good idea for the trucks, poor idea for their location.

Then we looked for porta-potties inside the perimeter, but most of them were outside of the start area! WTF! What genius decided to separate runners from the porta-potties?

We managed to find about 10 tucked off to a side. Fortunately the line moved along. As we got our shot, Mike had five minutes to his start. I was a few corrals back and had an extra 10 minutes.

Andy Nagelin, Mike Sikkema, 2019 Philadelphia MarathonI didn’t see Mike until I got back to the hotel!

I headed for my corral through the sea of chaos. I found an opening in the barricades and made my way to my group. About five minutes before the start I started my watch.

As the group before us left, we moved up and then they started us. It was freakin cold!

I was on the wrong side of the road, but Meb was on the announcers platform giving high-fives as runners went by! How awesome is that!

The first two miles were packed and wound through the historic district. We passed the US Mint and close by the National Constitution Center. At about 2.5 mile we turned right to run along the river at “Race Street Pier.”

We ran along the water front for about a mile and turned right near the US Coast Guard Station. We looped back and ran about half a mile to “Head House Square” where we turned left onto South Street.

South turned right onto 6th Street. As we ran passed the Mother Bethel AME Church I heard this pumping, gospel, R&B, funk music pulsing through the air.

Philadelphia Marathon mapI was waiting for “Cool and The Gang” to break into “Celebrate Good Times” but it was the church choir with a drum kit and a popping bass line that made me want to dance! They kept repeating “God is in you”.

I don’t know about god, but that popping beat got the groove into me! It was awesome.

Just past the church we hit mile five and my average pace was 8:50. Just where I wanted to be.

At about 5.25 miles we turned left onto Chestnut Street and began an almost two mile run to cross the Schuylkill river. We hit mile seven just before the bridge and my average pace was 8:41. A little too fast.

After we crossed the river we started to hit the hills. Mile eight gained 67 feet and mile ten gained 100.

Mile eight ran through The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. We hit mile nine in The Philadelphia Zoo.

In Honolulu we ran past the zoo but the Philly Zoo had a much stronger odor. And we spent more time in proximity.

After The Zoo we ran through The Central District and hit those 100 feet of elevation gain. It was beginning to feel like a run!

Miles 11 and 12 wound through Fairmount Park. I had finished one of my bottles and was dipping into the second one. I began to take water at the stops and was happy to get a gel out here.

After mile twelve we ran along the river again until we reached the MLK Bridge to cross the river at mile 14.

At mile 13.1 they had a timing mat, but no special signs or anything.

My goal was to hold onto a 9:00 minute pace until the half-way mark and my watch said I still had that pace as I crossed the mat.

I knew that this was an overly ambitious pace and I knew it was going to slip away from this mile on. It was beginning to feel like survival time!

Surviving Philly

A marathon doesn’t really begin until twenty miles have been run. But on this day 13.1 was where my race began. The care-free tourist miles were behind me. It was time to get down to work.

I had done what training I could and was now paying for too much time at my desk and not enough long runs.

After we crossed the MLK Jr Bridge we headed up the north shore of the Schuylkill River towards the hair-pin turn around. For some reason I thought it was a mile or so up to the turn.

It turned out to be about seven miles! When you think something is a mile away and it turns out to be seven miles away and can really mess you up!

Over those seven miles we had about 200 feet of elevation gain and 140 feet decline. Lots of rolling hills.

I was enjoying the scenery as much as possible. Pennsylvania is different than Massachusetts. The houses, businesses and names on those businesses often are different than what I see daily.

When you run somewhere new you should take in as much as you can. Running is a great way to see a lot of an area, even if your feet hurt!

All the way out to Manayunk, PA I took water and often Gatorade at the stops. I even did some walking!

I tried to keep running until the turn but I wasn’t sure where the hell it was.

At some point the lead runners started passing us and then the lead of the heard started passing us on their way back.

I knew that if I saw Mike he was having a rough day and if I saw Jose, I was having a rough day. I didn’t see anyone!

About a mile before the turn I saw a house under construction with a porta-potty out front. The official ones were blue. This one was brown and white.

The official ones always had a line and for some reason I felt waiting in line would kill my time!

I ran to the left side of the road, saw that the handle was green and went in. It was reasonably clean but I was a stinking mess anyway.

As I sat there I heard people yelling and it seemed like someone pulled on the door. But it was the gusting wind trying to pry the door open.

I pulled myself together and managed to avoid dropping anything. Unlatching the door, I ran back into the race like nothing had happened. I never even noticed if anyone said anything or even looked my way. I was on a mission.

The Second Half of Philly

We hit the turn around in Manayunk at about 20.5 miles. There was a small crowd at this turn. Not as many as I expected. But what was I expecting?

Mike said a guy in front of him had slipped on a man hole cover at the turn and he grabbed a-hold of a sign post to swing himself around!

I just did a sloppy turn and felt grateful to be heading east. Philly was somewhere down that freakin road.

As I ran along I realized that we were now past mile twenty and there was less than a 10K to run. But could I?

I was out of juice. Nothing hurt beyond what one would expect from running over three and a half hours.

I had fueled properly, but it wasn’t enough. My cardio conditioning just wasn’t up to par.

Even though I did not need them, earlier in the race I had been taking deep breathes. When I am out of shape sometimes I experience shortness of breathe.

To avoid this, I do deep breathing.

Now it was an essential part of my finishing this race. The last thing I wanted was to visit a medic station or to get hauled off of the course. A fate worse than death!

I jogged, walked and ran the best I could the rest of the race.

My four-hour race was out of the question. Now it was just a question of getting in under 4:30.

I felt that it was possible, but I had to be careful and manage every step.

Finishing Philly

After the turn around the thought popped into my head, “I took a dump in Many-yunk” I laughed out loud with the little breathe I had to spare. That pit stop was a necessity and it kept me laughing!

At several places people had Dixie cups of beer. Even just a little beer seems to give me lead legs.

At mile twenty-five my legs were beyond lead. A group of Canadians were giving out beer, so I took one. It only had two swallows in it, but it was some of the best beer I’ve ever had.

The beer didn’t effect me at all.

I was aware of my muscles contracting and swelling with each step. Each step forced more blood into my muscles and my legs felt like they were bulging.

Getting to mile twenty-three was a relief. We only had 5K to go. Anyone can run 5K even a guy whose legs felt like plump sausages could do it.

I just had to do it. I walked some, I ran some and I jogged some.

The world closed in around me and I didn’t pay much attention to anyone or anything. All I wanted to do was put one foot in front of the other and hope that the back foot would continue to come off of the ground and land in front of the other. That’s all I wanted. Simple stuff.

It seemed like all of a sudden the crowd grew and I could hear the finish line announcer. Even though I now knew that the turn around was seven miles out, it still hadn’t clicked that this meant there were only five miles to run to the finish line.

Philadelphia Marathon new the finish, Andy NagelinAnd I had run almost all of them. I was coming to the finish line!

Somewhere near the finish my friend Courtney Koschei took this photo.

When you are this close to a finish, you have to run.

I ran 26.55 miles somehow and my last 0.55 mile was at a 10:25 pace.

Nothing special, but better than the previous six miles!

I just really flamed-out the last five or six miles.

Running so many half marathons lulled me into complacency. There is a reason that half marathons are the most popular distance.

I can probably run a half marathon every weekend for a year and feel pretty good during the week.

As I crossed the finish line, I didn’t feel pretty good. It had been raining the last hour or so, it was getting colder and the wind had picked up. Conditions deteriorated considerably.

A guy rolled out a Mylar sheet for me and helped me get it over my shoulders. A few steps further on a lady put the medal around my neck. Even before this someone gave me a 500ml of water which I sucked down in three guzzles.

I made a B-line for the UPS trucks and got my drop bag. All it had was my fleece which I promptly put on. Then I headed for the Deitz & Watson tent for a hot sausage. They were all out! WTF!

They were a major sponsor of the race and they ran out of food? I was far from the last person to cross the line. I felt bad for the 5,6 and 7 hour runners.

The weather was getting bad and the hot food was gone. Brilliant.

I asked about the beer tent and immediately decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

At this point I looked for a way out of the finish area and headed for my hotel.

Not exactly a festive finish area. I’d say it was more than a bit of a let down. Boston is stingy with their post race food, but this was beyond the pale. A bottle of water? Come on!

As I hobbled back to the hotel the rain turned into wet snow! This went on for about ten minutes, all the way back to the hotel.

Apre Philadelphia Marathon

When I got to the hotel, Mike had already showered and packed. Before I headed for the shower Jose showed up. He ran much better than the six hours he had expected.

We didn’t have a lot of time to be tourists or even get something to eat.

We were checked out by 2:30 and in a cab to the train station.

Normally I can eat and drink all kinds of beer after a race. This time I just wasn’t hungry and had to force my self to drink water.

The train wasn’t full so we had room to get our own double seats and stretch out a bit. Being able to walk around on the train was nice also.

When we got to South Station I called an Uber and the guys headed for The Red line. As I was headed for my Uber they came out of the Red Line. They needed to take a shuttle bus to the ext station. Gotta love The T!

Philly had a few issues in the start/finish area, but I would recommend this race if you are looking for a Pennsylvania marathon.

Run well my Friends,

 

Andy