Ron Marinucci: September Column - Fleeting

Ron Marinucci: September Column - Fleeting

Karen, our friend Carrie, and I have fun with’s Word of the Day feature. Some are common words we know while others seem made up. Yet others look unpronounceable. I came across a couple words recently that fit right in with running.

One of them was auscultation. It means “the act of listening to sound within the body as a method of diagnosis.” Doesn’t that sound just like the late Dr. George Sheehan, the great philosopher of running? That was my first thought when I saw the definition. I read every book he wrote, some more than once. His columns in Runner’s World were the first articles I turned to when the issues arrived. Many of my thoughts and much of my philosophy of running stem from Sheehan’s writings. Auscultation sounds a lot like Sheehan’s “listen to your body,” great advice for all runners. I wonder if auscultation was in Sheehan’s vocabulary. It is in mine now.

Another fairly recent Word of the Day was fleeting, which, of course, means “passing quickly; vanishing quickly.” How fleeting this summer has been, especially relative to my running! For months, it seemed, I looked forward to summer running. No, I don’t particularly care for the heat and humidity of July and August. And the deerflies of the nearby forest trails are extreme nuisances. No, I looked forward to summer so I could run in the daylight. Because of, well, life, I most often get up at 5 AM or so to get in my daily run. All winter my running thoughts centered on running in something other than the dark. For a few short weeks, complete runs were started and finished in the sunshine -- hooray! Alas, although I now sometimes finish my runs after the sun has risen, I’m back in the darkness much of the time. Fleeting…

After July’s column about race entry fees, I was drawn to the cost of running shoes in two recent national magazines’ shoe review sections. I normally don’t pay much attention to those reviews, instead pretty much sticking with the same brand and models I’ve used for years. In fact, Matt still pokes fun at me—even from Las Vegas—for my loyalty to my favorites. “Change shoes yet?” he asks, well knowing I haven’t. But they’ve worked well for me in all aspects.

What attracted my attention to the reviews this time was the cost of most of the shoes that were reviewed. A large majority of them now have price tags of $100 or more. Wow! No doubt those prices reflect new technology, but…. There are shoes out there that cost considerably less, for instance, the ones I buy. Are these more expensive shoes the ones most runners now purchase? Is this an attempt to sell more of the higher-priced shoes? Why are there so few reviews of the less expensive models?

A summer trip Karen and I, along with some biking and walking friends, took to the San Francisco-area was wonderful. We met up with a good college buddy of mine, a teammate and roommate, who lives in nearby Danville. Two of our days were spent on a scenic and educational tour of the Wine Country of Napa and Sonoma. Although I’m not a wine drinker like the rest of our party, my Amherst friend proved to be a witty and informed “tour guide.” We also spent a few days in San Francisco.

It’s a beautiful and lively city, with much to see and do. But it got me thinking: How do people run and even bike in San Francisco? Seriously. There are hills, hills, and more hills—everywhere. The only flatness was along the bay, the Embarcadero. Even where my buddy lives, Carrie and I walked the uphills and ran the downs. The City, as it’s called, provided me with some beautiful runs, but they were tough, very tough. I like to use runs to sightsee and these sightseeing tours were challenges. Again, walking up the hills became necessary for me.

Also, how do cyclists ride there, except along the Embarcadero? Biking uphill is harder for me than running and, remember, I walked most of those. But how are the downhills, the steep downhills, negotiated? Do cyclists ride their brakes? My friend related several recent stories about bike-pedestrian accidents that resulted in severe injuries and even one death. Going down those hills generates a lot of bike speed. As pretty as it was in San Francisco, my appreciation for running in Michigan was reinforced. Michigan runners are lucky.
Randy Step of Running Fit writes an e-newsletter that is informative and witty. OK, he includes what he acknowledges are “shameless plugs” for products available at the Running Fit stores. But the wisdom he shares comes from years of experience. A couple of weeks ago he tendered some advice that even seasoned runners need to remember. Yep, I’m one of them.

Resting for a day or two at the first sign or twinge of injury can prevent weeks or even months of downtime later on. This resonated with me since I’ve been battling an injury, a nagging one, since December. I wasn’t too worried about it at the time because I planned to use the snowy, icy days of winter to cut back, to rest. We all know how mild the winter of 2011-12 was and, instead of resting or cutting back, I took advantage of the unusually warm winter months. So, the injury didn’t get better; it didn’t worsen, either. It just never improved. Finally, this summer I cut back some, by choice, and attempted to keep some fitness with more biking. I’m now running barely half my usual weekly mileage. If I keep my runs to about five or six miles, every couple of days, I’m fine—or at least better. But it’s all easy running. I have not really raced, merely running anything I entered. Perhaps had I take Randy’s advice last winter, I’d be back to my normal routine.

The Farmington Run for the Hills is a race on the grow. From the 400 or so runners it attracted in its first year in 2010, it drew 520 last year. Two weeks ago, almost 700 ran in one of the several Run for the Hills events. The 5K and 10K have nice, challenging courses, with some hills. Post-race goodies include pizza. The entire morning has a picnic-type atmosphere.

Yet, some very serious racing goes on. This year, several runners went home with $250 checks for not only winning their races, but also setting 10K course records. Two were Native Kenyans now living in Toledo. Dorcus Chesang (35:32) and Richard Kessio (30:18) shattered previous course bests by five and three minutes, respectively. Men’s runner-up Mike Anderson also broke the old record by more than a minute.
Billy Van Vianen won the 5K. Van Vianen has been on active duty with the US Marine Corps for six years. In October he is headed to Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA. After the race, he smiled, “I brought along a couple of people with me,” pointing to three other OCS recruits.

A fourth he brought along was his father, Bill, who came intending to watch, just watch. But the weather and atmosphere led him to enter and run the 5K. It was Bill’s first 5K, well, his first since June 10. During the race, my buddy Bob Drapal met up with Van Vianen. They started talking, with Bob noting he is coming back from an injury, a nagging calf pull. Bill also said he was returning from an injury, one that left Drapal open-mouthed. “I had a heart attack” on June 10, Van Vianen said, matter-of-factly.

Running at Dodge Park in Sterling Heights that morning, he fell, “right on the trail,” he recounted. “Another runner found me and called 911.” The Good Samaritan was coached by phone, performing CPR until emergency help arrived. Van Vianen had no identification. “I was a John Doe” for a while. “I would have died. I was in the hospital for a week.” Before Run for the Hills, “I did some jogging here and there, but this is my first race. I enjoyed it. It’s a good race. I thought it was more hilly,” he said, admitting, “I kept looking at the ground so I didn’t have to look at the hills.” After the race, he was all smiles. He finished his first race and his son won the 5K. But he had one complaint, though. “There were no cinnamon bagels,” he lamented, with a big grin.