I’ve really started looking forward to the Monday night group runs out of the Beaverton Portland Running Company. OK, I look forward to all my runs, especially after rest days. (I’m starting to dread rest days a little. But my legs clearly need them.) But it’s a nice friendly group at the PRC and I also enjoy browsing their sale racks looking for cheapo running gear. Today’s run was six miles, with paces ranging from 8:40 to 10:00, or something like that. It was an easy, pleasant run under leaden, overcast skies. Nothing really interesting to report, but I feel great.
Here’s me with the other Red Lizards (mostly) and our kazoos, last Thursday, up at Pittock Mansion.
After our Portland Fit run Saturday mornings (today’s was seven miles; my calves came into it pretty thrashed from all my extra running this week, so the first few miles were a bit of a trial) we have a seminar. Well, they call it a seminar. I’m not sure a bunch of people standing around in an industrial parking lot listening to someone talk counts as a seminar, but there it is.
The last two seminars have been reasonable — the one on hydration even reflected the more-recent warnings about drinking too much water, instead of focusing only on the dangers of drinking too little. Today’s, though, was a shame.
The purported topic: injury prevention. The real topic: look how great chiropractic massage is! The speaker was a sports physician and chiropractor, who I think is the head doctor at the sports chiropractic clinic associated with Portland Fit.
Look, I think massage might have some therapeutic benefit. Certainly it might reduce tension and lessen pain symptoms. But when I hear a massage therapist say that what they are doing will “realign the muscles” to promote faster healing, I know I’m hearing quackery. Yeah. Your muscles are going to shift around under your skin into whole new alignments, just from a little prodding. And here I was, thinking the muscles probably mostly just run straight between whatever ligaments or tendons are attaching them to your skeletal system. Silly me, I had no idea they just kind of wandered around free in there, until some kind person pushes them into the right place!
As I learn more about running and fitness and the people that dispense medical advice and treatment for it, I am forced to conclude that it’s a whole industry based largely on placebo and false authority. I can see why it happens. And I don’t think any of the care providers have any idea that they’re quacks: they think it works and their patients tell them it works. To the extent that placebos and ceremony always help people hungry for answers, it does work. That doesn’t make it right.
So, back to today’s seminar. It started off reasonably, I guess: warm up before exercise, cool down after, stretching after the cool-down is the best time for stretching. Then, instead of going on to talk about real injury-prevention factors like having the right shoes, ramping up slowly, or getting enough rest, he put on a little sideshow demonstrating the miracles of his healing touch. Well, not quite. But close enough.
He’d rounded up a few volunteers to undergo some sports massage, or whatever he calls it. I didn’t catch how he chose the first person, but apparently she had some pain or stiffness in the lower back and upper legs. He stretched and massaged her a bit, and one point telling us that the technique he was doing was “almost as good as an adjustment.” Oh! Well! Almost as good as an adjustment! That’s really something. Then he declared that her legs were different lengths and told her to come to the clinic to get either x-rayed or cat-scanned to find out… something… that would let them make the right shoe insert to correct it. I’m on the fence about this leg-length thing. Maybe it’s true. But my warning flags went right back up when he told a story about a woman in a previous year’s Portland Fit who was running 9:30 miles, and became upset after she got one of these inserts to correct her leg length. Suddenly she was running 8:30 miles and couldn’t run with her friends anymore! I distrust tales of miracle fixes.
The next volunteer got cherry-picked from the crowd as someone with “hip pain on one side.” First he checked her legs and declared them to be the same length. You can imagine her expression of mixed pride, joy, and relief. Then he started moving her legs around. In seconds he had pinpointed the exact cause for her hip pain: she had overly-free right hip movement, probably because of “deactivated muscle groups” in her glutes. He told her to come see him to get some exercises that could fix that right up.
When I saw this in person, I was nodding along thinking that surely he did detect this overly-free range of motion and that this seemed a reasonable enough diagnosis. Maybe. But as I said, he had specifically asked for a volunteer with hip pain on one side. I think he unknowingly is playing a game of Ouija Board with a patient like this: between the two of them, he’s going to pick up on whatever it is he thinks he should be picking up on. In this case, I bet he’s made this same “diagnosis” hundreds of times and is all too ready to feel the right things when he wiggles the leg around.
And that was it. We were out of time. Even if (big if) everything the doctor-chiropractor did up there was real, I still have no idea what educational value the demonstration was supposed to have. Looked more like advertising, or indoctrination, to me.
“The Goose” is what Team Red Lizard calls their Thursday-evening run. So-named since it starts and ends at the Goose Hollow Inn (Bud Clark’s bar) in the Goose Hollow neighborhood. The run is up to Pittock Mansion and back. Emphasis on ‘up’. Three and a half miles up, mostly on trails. See the elevation profile, above. When I first heard about this run, two weeks ago, my reaction was “That sounds like torture. I don’t want to do it.” A few days later, my attitude had matured (as a fine cheese would) to “That sounds like torture. I want to try it!”
Still, I was nervous showing up, and for once, I wasn’t nervous about meeting people, but about how hard the run would be. Tiffany, someone I’d met on the Monday evening runs, assured me I’d be fine.
“And some of us are turning around at Fairmount, so you don’t have to run the whole thing if you can’t make it.” (Fairmount is the road that crosses the trail at the beginning of the first downhill section.)
“Oh, I’d probably die before I’d quit.” I don’t think I was bragging. Just a simple case of stubbornness.
So on the way up I had to walk to catch my breath maybe four or five times. But I did run (ok, jog) the great majority of it. Coming back down was easy, and I was able to spend a lot more time talking and — wait for it — playing the kazoos that were handed out pre-run. (Special occasion, apparently.) My medley of Beatles hits a la kazoo knocked ’em dead.
Afterwards, I had a Guiness and a Reuben sandwich at the Inn (thumbs up on their interpretation of the Reuben) and talked to more of the Red Lizards. One of them turned out to be the team coach, Rick, and we had some interesting conversations — especially after I found out he wrote science articles and science fiction short stories for a living. He seemed pretty happy to meet someone into SF, too.
The other people in the group with whom I had a chance to talk were also great. I’m happy to have these running groups as a social as well as training opportunity, and I’m going to start keeping my Thursday evenings free for The Goose.
Why is it that parser code is far harder to write than generator code, yet learning to read a language is generally easier than learning to write it?
Kelly interviews six-day racer Tim. Kelly’s the leader of the little suburban Monday-night running group. Holy crap, her boyfriend got a belt buckle at the Western States? (Translation: finished a famously brutal mountainous 100 mile race in less than 24 hours?) Now I want to meet him, too.
Today, April 25th, would have been my eighth wedding anniversary.