VxWorks653/Apex support in VxWorks

When using VxWorks653, the initial example does not use the Apex. Instead, it uses the regular vThreads library. In fact, there is no built-in example that works out of the box with the Apex. In case you are trying to figure out how to quickly add the Apex support from the original example, there is how to proceed (assuming the ARINC653 system project is called foobar):

  1. Edit the Makefile.vars from the foobar_PartitionOS project and add the following line at the end
    SSL_OBJS += apexComponent.o
  2. Edit the foobar_PartitionOS.xml file in the foobar_PartitionOS project. You should have something like the following
<Shared_Library_API
    xmlns="http://www.windriver.com/vxWorks653/SharedLibraryAPI"
    xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude"
    Name="vThreads"
    >

    <Interface>
    <Version Name="template"/>
    <xi:include href="$(WIND_BASE)/target/vThreads/config/comps/xml/vthreads.xml"/>
       <xi:include href="$(WIND_BASE)/target/vThreads/config/comps/xml/apex.xml"/>
   
    </Interface>
    
</Shared_Library_API>

Raccoongaine 2015

Some weeks ago, some folks on the North Park Trail Runner facebook group suggested to go out on a Sunday and participate to Raccoongaine, an orienteering/scavenger-hunt game. This is not a race: you have to find targets in a state park within a time limit (3 hours or 6 hours). This reminds me the City Spree in Pittsburgh, except that you are really on your own and have to really know how to read a map.

In a nutshell, you show up at the starting line one hour before it starts, get a map that shows the targets location and you are good to go and find them. When you find a target, you an electronic device register it (it is used to trace what targets did you find once you finished). Each target you find will give you a number of points (targets far from the starting line gives more points of course). The map shows the trails, the elevation profiles and routes/roads. Needless to say, GPS devices are prohibited, you are just allowed to use a compass.

If you expect to run the whole thing: forget it. You have to go through branches, steep hills, cross streams, etc. Also, dress accordingly. There are a lot of brambles so, in case you wear shorts, your legs finish bloody. On the other hand, this is a great way to cross-train on a rest day: this is time on your feet, you exercise other positions and climb steep hills. Definitively useful and a great way to train for coming trail races.

Our team did not get a lot of points and we spend a significant number of time trying to find a target (that we never found). On the other hand, this first experience was great and there are some advices if you are considering doing it:

  1. Wear pants, sunglasses and protect your body: there are brambles and lot of thorn. This was my mistake. As soon as I came home, I applied alcohol on my legs, which was very uncomfortable and, well, painful.
  2. When you do not find a target quickly, move on and go somewhere else! We obviously spend too much time looking for a target we never found. According to somebody we meet before, it seems to be a usual rookie mistake.
  3. Establish a plan to try to maximize the points by reaching targets that will give you many points.
  4. Learn to use a compass. I do not know who in my team really knew how to use a compass. I do not (which is very bad) and this is probably the reason we lost so much time trying to find a target
  5. Learn to read a map, not only the location but everything. By analyzing the area around a target (fences, walls, roads, elevation change, etc), it would be more easy to find it

These are just some recommendations after a first experience. I will definitively try other events like this, this is a great way to spend time outside and have fun with friends while cross-training for trail races! If you plan to do it, register quickly, the event was sold out for this 2015 edition. The same club do other event like this over the year, so, you might check out their website.

Morris “Doc” Turner 5K Run/Walk

Unfortunately, this will not be an undie run

Unfortunately, this will not be an undie run

Everybody knows that I love running long distances, being outside of the city and admire the nature at work. The loneliness of the trails, the beauty of the trees, the rivers, all of this helps me to meditate and get rid of the daily stress. This is my outlet, my way to replenish my energy.

This is why I invite you to join the Morris “Doc” Turner 5K, a wonderful run in the city that will take place on a wonderful Sunday (May, 31). This race is all about what I love: short distance in the city, it is gonna be packed with A LOT of folks! So, why should you sign up? There are a few reasons:

  1. This event is promoted by a Steel City Road Runners friend, who is awesome and love running. She is awesome, probably not as much as the author of this website, but just for that, you should sign up.
  2. You support your local community: this event raises resources for the Highland Park Tennis Club’s Dr. Morris E. Turner Medical Scholarship which will be presented to a student in the Gateway Medical Society who is majoring in the medical field and for the Highland Park Tennis Club’s Free Summer Tennis Clinic
  3. There is a team for cool kids, called SCRR4EVER. This is dedicated to the Steel City Road Runners members but all the cool kids are welcome. So if you do not come, you are not a cool kid at all.
  4. If the weather is great, we can hang out together afterwards in the park. There will be yoga and exercises classes, music, food – everything for a great party!
  5. You can run there, do the race, have a good time with your friends and run back. Yep, an ultra for the price of a 5K (with food to fuel you in between)

As the event is a run or walk, there is no reason to pass. Sign up today on active.com and join the team SCRR4EVER.

Hope to see you there on May, 31!

How to serialize an EObject from Xtext

The Xtext framework is pretty awesome. It includes a lot of built-in features: syntax highlight, custom editors, etc. This is the framework we are currently using for most of the Eclipse development for OSATE.

However, recently, I wanted to build my own EObject instances and serialize them into a string to eventually write them into a file. Damned, this was pretty hard and after googl’ing a lot, I did not find a solution. After digging into the Eclipse TMF forum for a while, the TMF folks helped me and I got a code working.

I think it might be useful to share that since serializing an eobject can be something of particular interest for everybody (well, this is something you do every day, no?)

There is the code example, hope it could help some folks!

 

EObject myEobject;
/*
... create your eobject using your language
*/
Resource res = set.createResource(URI.createURI("foobar.mydsl"));
/*
 * Here, we create a fake resource that will contain the eobject.
 * This might be useful for the serializer.
 */
res.getContents().add(reqSpecModel);
/* We add the EObject to the fake resource */
IResourceServiceProvider rsp = IResourceServiceProvider.Registry.INSTANCE.getResourceServiceProvider(URI.createURI("fake.mysdsl"));
ISerializer serializer = rsp.get(ISerializer.class);
String s = serializer.serialize(myEobject);
/* Serialize the EObject */

InputStream stream = new ByteArrayInputStream(s.getBytes(StandardCharsets.UTF_8));
newFile.create(stream, true, new NullProgressMonitor());
/* Write the EObject into a file */

Tobacco Road Marathon: Race Report

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The 2015 medal

The Story

A friend of mine familiar with the North Carolina area told me that there was a fantastic race around called Tobacco Road. It was also selected by Runner’s World as one of the top 10 marathons in the USA. As the registration fees for early birds were pretty cheap ($50), I registered immediately. The course seemed wonderful and is really flat. The race director highlights that this is an  ideal Boston Qualifier: pretty flat with good temperature, you might get a good time and qualify to run the mythical Boston race.

If you plan to do it, I would recommend to register early: the early bird registration is $50 and the fees goes up to $110. At $50, this is a fantastic deal but for $110, it seems too expensive for what it is and you might prefer to sign up for another race (Pittsburgh?). While the race was not sold out, it might be a good idea to register as soon as you know you can make it to save on registration fees.

How I got there

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Natty’s Greene Brewing Company

Many friends decided to run the race but as a matter of fact, for several reasons, I was the only one to finally make it it. As I never DNS or DNF (for now … knock on wood!), I went there alone! As I was working in DC the week before, I take the drive from Washington, DC to Raleigh. This is a pretty straightforward drive.

The conditions for a horrible day were met: I fell few days before the race and injured my arm/hand and I was sick two days before, so, I was looking forward to see what will happen. Also, this is the first time I tapered before a race and did not run on Saturday before the race and took plenty of sleep. I wanted to see the impact of sleep over my performance and ability to race.

I arrived in Raleigh on Friday. Packet pick up and the race expo are at the Embassy Suites hotel on Friday and Saturday. You cannot take your packet on race-day, so, be careful to get there at least a day before. The expo is pretty basic with running stores, shoe sales, etc. I took my packet on Friday and want to Natty Greene’s, even if I was sick. The race is sponsored by Natty Greene’s Brewing Company, so, this was also a good opportunity to go and try their beers! In a nutshell: the food is ok and the beer is average. But obviously, they sponsor the race, so, what the heck, give them your bucks!

On the other hand, I was totally sick on Friday and was just hoping it will eventually get better after a few hours. The strategy was just to try to sleep as much as I can and avoid to overload my stomach and just try to keep something inside. Very romantic week-end in perspective. I got plenty of sleep during Friday night and Saturday and did not do any carb-load or special nutrition strategy. It will be definitively an interesting race!

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Safety measures were already up on Saturday

The Race

The race organizers did a pretty good job to make the area safe and convenient for runners. On Saturday, there was already signs to indicate there will be runners on Sunday. This might be be so significant but it shows the attention and efforts the race director put into his event.

The race is well organized. Parking is limited at the start so you have to park few miles away and a shuttle bus connect the race site with this parking. There are a lot of portable toilets as well, either at the start/finish line or even on the course (there are not many but they are there very often).

 

 

The elevation profile - pretty flat

The elevation profile – pretty flat

 

The race starts with 2.5-ish miles on the road and after, you run on the Tobacco Road trail. You start a first 6-ish out and back (so, 12 in total) and do another 5-ish out and back  and finish by taking back the road (2.5-ish) to the starting line. Simple course, not exactly flat (it has slight hills, see the elevation chart) but definitively not an aggressive elevation profile. This makes this race a great Boston Qualifier for those who do not like hills! There are many aid stations with Water/Gatorade (probably even 2 to 3 miles) and some propose GU gels. Also, the second turn around (about mile 19-ish) is more an ultra-station with Peanut Butter & Jelly, Pretzels, etc. The beer enthusiasts will be happy to know that there is a beer aid-station (probably not official) around mile 7-ish and 9-ish). I appreciate the initiatives but on this day, I did not want to try such a thing, especially so early in the race! But it shows the support of the local community and how nice and friendly is the people around!

Over all these miles, you can see the nature, run on bridges, listen to the birds: that sounds very romantic. But what seems a great race on a sunny day could be a nightmare with more rain. We were lucky that the race was on a sunny day but in case there is rain it can be a complete muddy course. So, your race experience might be impacted significantly by the weather.

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Get ready at the starting line

Once you finish, you get your medal (yeah!) and you can go to the dedicated finish area to get chocolate milks, beers, pizza and bread! The beer was nice and pour were smalls so that you do not drink too much  (which can be hazardous, especially if you have a long drive right after!). The bread was great and tasty, the Great Harvest Bread Company did a great job, their products were definitively the most appreciated sponsor here! I would have made my complete post-race recovery with bread and butter but I did not want to take too much!

The medal is very cool and original, another good reason to sign up! The ride back to the parking lot using the shuttle takes about 10 minutes, the system set up by the organizers is really efficient!

As for popular Boston-Qualifier race, the emphasis is put on the PR bell, the potential BQ for every runner, etc. Fortunately, a runner from Steel City Road Runner got her BQ at this race! So, it seems to be legit!

Lessons Learned

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Representing the Steel City Road Runners

This race was the first one after a long time. As I was injured, the training was really different and this gave me an opportunity to learn a lot. Some thoughts:

  • sleep is definitively underrated and carb-load overrated: the race was done on an (almost) totally empty stomach but after two 9 to 10 hours night of sleep. During the run, I was able to put down three gels and a peanut butter square. I felt great (no bunk) and not tired at the finish. No wall effect as well.
  • walking might be necessary and do not impact significantly your time: the pain related to the injury started to come back sometimes, making running extremely difficult and painful. When it happens, I just walked for one to two minutes and then, the pain disappeared. It happened three times during the race. This is probably better to lose 6 minutes on your finish time than suffering for four hours.
  • running is definitively a mental process: all the conditions were met to have the most terrible experience. Previous injury, not having the friends I was expecting, being sick before the race, the list might be long and I could just decided not to start. But putting your ass on the starting line is probably the most important step to finish. Do, stop whining or complaining: put your ass on the starting line and do your thing. Action matters more than anything else.

The Take-Away

This is a great beautiful race if you run it on a sunny day. For $50, this is a great deal and I would not consider to run it for more (I would consider running another race). If you want to qualify for Boston, this is a great opportunity, especially if the race takes place on a sunny day.

The race is really well organized and there is nothing to complain about, there is truly a great event! This can be a great opportunity to make a road trip with other friends and discover North Carolina! Plus, you can meet famous people: Sean Astin, an actor in “The Goonies” and “Lord of the Rings” ran the race! Pretty cool!

More Information

Going vegetarian

Yep, I am turning vegetarian. And I am not kidding: I love meat, was even looking for the best burger in Pittsburgh but after a while, I felt a need for a change. This is really not an ethical choice about animals and is rather motivated by sustainability and health concerns. It is obvious that the way the actual industry produces meat cannot be safe for human consumption and the future, we will clearly not be able to produce enough animals to feed everybody without paying a price. Between 1950 and 2000, the world population increased by 200% while the the meat production increased by 500%. At that rate, trying to continue to raise livestock will just kill the planet by the use of intense farming which will be at the expense of earth resources but also ourselves because meat cannot be produced safely and will ultimately impact our health.

Going vegetarian is only part of the answer. You do not only need to remove the meat but think about the food chain and how we feed ourselves. This creates other challenges as well.

Dear-Vegetarians

The Sustainable Perspective

The impact of the meat production industry is obvious. There are some facts:

  • We kill more than 10 billions of animals a year in the USA only. At this production rate, there is no way to make it tasty (you need to speed up the rate at which the animal grows which make the taste of the meat worst than usual), good (animals are fed with junk food – corn, wheat, all the produces that is not their natural diet) and safe (that is why more than 90% is contaminated with fecal bacteria).
  • This massive industrial production impacts the environment: in France, the pig farms has impacted the beach in Brittany. In the Netherlands, architects are trying to optimize building design to collocate more animals in a small tiny space. These so-called pig towers will then keep animals standing in a tower, feed them and collect waste. But do the maths, the equation is very simple: if you want to overproduce meat, you need to overproduce animals food which will ultimately lead to over production of waste. And this will impact water quality, soil and the global environment. By going vegetarian, you reduce the number of animals used and the potential impact on the environment.
  • This might be a joke for you but cow farts are the third source of methane in the US. And cow farts produce more gas than transportation. By going vegetarian, you then support a more sustainable agriculture and lifestyle. This is pretty serious: as the population increases and developing country adopt a western diet, this will increase over time

The Health Impact

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Does going vegetarian really make sense?

Concerns about pesticide and GMO

By going vegetarian, you increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. As pointed out before, meat consumption is not really healthy (contamination with fecal bacteria, lot of fats, salt when preparing that increase likelihood of heat diseases, etc.). On the other hand, many agriculture practices uses pesticides, which can have an important impact on your health as well. In addition, there is clear evidences that pesticides pollute the soil and the water system. So, if you want to stop meat to get healthier, you also need to be careful about where you get your vegetables and avoid pesticide-contaminated products.

Concerns of GMO have been raised over the last years. Some folks believed there are safe for consumption while other think this might be a big issue. Unlike the pesticide, there is no clear evidence of GMO risks. There was one study done on rats but it as been removed since. On the other hand, it does not mean that GMO are safe to consume: we have to remember the case of asbestos, which has been used for decades (about 100 years) before being declared as unsafe (and there was evidence since decades that is was responsible for many lung cancers). “Better to be safe than sorry”: just avoid GMO as much as possible – let’s wait a few years (probably one or two decades) and see what will happen on the long term.

Buying organic and local

In order to avoid pesticide and GMO food, there is no snake oil or silver-bullet. No matter what, you are going to eat some of it even if you do not want. GMO cultures spread over farms so that GMO products contaminates non-GMO produces. So, even if you buy non-GMO, there is a chance you still get some.

However, the label of organic food are regulated through the federal laws (you can see the USDA website for more details). Buying stuff with the USDA label ensures that at least 95% of the product avoids the typical crap (such as pesticide and other potential hazardous substances). As for GMO, organic products cannot be made using GMO seeds or ingredients. So, by buying products labeled USDA organic, you make a combo by avoiding what is sure to be unsafe (such as pesticide) but also avoid potential unknown issues from GMO. Be very careful about labels – there are a lot of different labels and be careful of what they mean. For example, “all natural” means nothing and is not restrictive and having a “non-gmo” claim does not mean your product is pesticide free. A general rule is to identify a few labels that match your expectations and stick to them.

On the other hand, in addition to buy USDA-organic labeled food, it is also important to buy locally sourced food products. Why buying organic products to reduce your impact on the environment if you package comes from overseas? For that reason, this is better to buy your products from a store that sells local products. In the Pittsburgh area, the food co-op provides food products that are locally sources, located 250 miles around the city as much as possible.

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Why not going vegan?

Since a couple of years, many folks are going vegan, which is different from vegetarian: the vegetarian cannot eat meat but can still eat animal produces, such as cheese or eggs whereas vegans cannot eat them. On the other hand, the vegan diet is just extreme: by buying organic vegetables and animal produces (such as eggs, cheese), you ensure not only a good quality but also, animal products does not require to kill the animal early and is more efficient.

There is no way to go vegan and no evidence of health benefits. Eggs, milk, cheese is something I love (after all, I am French for a reason!). Why refrain yourself from enjoying what you like if it does not harm others? I do not think going vegan is an answer to the problems listed: you can embrace the vegan diet, buy vegetables from overseas (that use air transportation) which would be potentially contaminated with pesticides. What the point in that case: such a diet will impact the environment and your health. On the other hand, a vegetarian diet, associated with good choices that limit environmental impacts seems to be a reasonable choice.

Vegetarian? Forever?

I am seriously going vegetarian and reduce significantly my consumption of meat. However, there are some situations where this is difficult not to eat meat: lunch meeting, dinner at work, social events, etc. In that case, eating meat from time to time seems hard to avoid. Because, food is a also a social component in our society, this is difficult and sometimes not the best choice to put ourselves aside for dietary reasons. Of course, this is necessary not to eat something if you have an allergy, but this is another story. The objective is to reduce the environmental footprint and health issues from my diet, not to embrace a specific dogma. For that reason, the main guideline is just to stop buying meat products and just reduce as much as meat consumption when going outside.

 

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Best Running Buddy

There are moments when you come back home, you feel lonely and just need to watch a good story,

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There are days when all you want is a thrill but you end up on the treadmill,

 

There are times when, after an injury, all you need is a good buddy.

 

To keep you alive, support and help you run all these miles,

 

And because of you, buddy, I was able to preserve my sanity.

 

Thanks you Netflix, your support on this evil machine means the world to me!

Recovering from injury – story of a self-treatment

I never really trusted doctors and consider them as a last resort rather than the remedy to every problem. I am glad to have friends that are doctors. That helped me to get advice from people I trust not because of their education but because I know by other means. Of course, not all doctors are bad and you might get lucky. But until now, experience shown that many are driven by many factors that are not related to your well-being (mass-thinking, return on investment, fear of lawsuits, etc). For my last injury, I did not use the doctor after the day of my CT-SCAN. I just recovered by listening to my body.injured

Most of the time, medical advice is useless: your body is designed to recover from most injuries and issues so that if you give it enough time, it will recover. Many countries do not over-medicate their patients and have a better life expectancy (compare the Netherlands with the USA), healthier people and spend much less on medication. This should also show that medical advice is not always related to better treatment. For sure, in some case, looking for medical support is not questionable. But in proportions, many health issues do not need any support (again, think again of The Netherlands where the doctor likely send you home without any treatment and just ask you to come back if things get worse in the next few days – which almost never occur).

There is no magic: for most injuries, you just need to let your body heal, rest. Medication or special treatment could improve but could also make things worst. That is why understanding and trusting your body is more important than anything. Many consider the physical therapy as a must-do but as a matter of fact, they will rather decrease the balance of your bank account than the recovery time (for example, in France, we do not use it, only serious injury go to dedicated rehab centers).

This post is not a medical advice. I am not a doctor and I have no knowledge on what is good or bad for anybody. I really believe that every case is different and this is by understanding how your body works that you can treat injuries. I hope that I have learned enough about myself so that I know how to recover from an injury. I wanted to share this story because it might give idea for others. But in any case this is a prescription and this post will not replace expert advice.

The Story

It was nice morning, ready to hit 7 to 9 miles in Frick Park and go for barbecue afterwards. I was meeting a new trail runner freshly met on social media. Roads and trails were icy and of course, did not put add any traction or screws. The run was great and, at mile 7.3, when coming back on the parking lot, my foot hit an icy spot and I fell and crashed on the ground.

At first, it was not possible to stand up. It took a minute or two. When standing up, I was feeling I was about to pass out. But it already happened during runs or ultras,where you start to be outside your comfort zone. No big deal. I walked home, thinking it will eventually go better. I went for lunch but was barely able to walk. I did not want to go to the Emergency Room but after few hours, I had to face reality. I was seriously injured.

After spending 4 hours in the hospital, the diagnosis was simple: a public ramus fracture with multiple muscles contusion. According to the doctor, the expected recovery time would be at least two months. When leaving the hospital, I was told that I will not be able to stand the day after. Less than 10 hours after, I was moving on my crutches. It was the start of the healing process.

The expert diagnostic

At first, the doctor from the Emergency Room recommended a special therapy from the UPMC Sports Medicine. Having been at UPMC sports medicine twice before, I was not convinced but gave it a shot. My experience was then the same than before: I waited 90 minutes to see a doctor for 5 minutes. Before the visit, a student came and asked me the kind of activities I was doing. During this discussion, he discovered that it was possible to run more than 50 miles a week, which makes me wonder if this place was appropriate to recommend a treatment.

After a few more minutes, the doctor came and finally asked me to come back in 6 weeks if it did not go any better. He recommended physical therapy treatment at the UPMC Sports Medicine. His prognostic was that it should recover in 2 to 3 months. Nothing else, even not an explanation of my CT-scan. Great.

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Establishing a Recovery Plan

I just decided not to follow the physical therapy and to avoid coming back again. This was basically just a waste of time. I needed to establish a plan to recover without loosing the base I built during the last months. With already several ultra on the agenda, I had to keep the body trained so that running again will not be too hard.

Basically, the physical therapy consists in training your muscles so that they do not become weak while you do not use your body at its full capacity. I had to do something similar but also trying to preserve my cardio-vascular capacity. The trade-off is that there is a likelihood of making things worst if you try to be active. So, you have to choose low-impact exercises that will provide the expected benefits without creating any more damage.

The recovery plan focuses on three major aspects:

  • training: maintain the cardio-vascular activity and train the muscles as much as possible
  • nutrition: reduce the calories intake while taking appropriate nutrients to recover
  • sleep: give plenty of sleep hours (8+ hours) every day to make sure the body heals properly

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Training

First of all, it was important to locate the pain and identify what parts of the body need to heal and what are the ones I can train. By still using the operational muscles, I can limit to make further damages. After 4 days, I was able to walk again again with pain. So, I started to swim, reduce legs movement and focus on the upper body. This provided enough activity to keep high-intensity training and cardiovascular. Then, after a week, I continue to swim but also walk to work.

After two weeks, I was able to walk without so much pain and decided to start exercising on an elliptical bike (which mostly reduces the impact) and work on my core (that so I exercise other muscle groups that will support the overall body). The objective was about 2 hours of training a day.

After three weeks, I was able to run for a while. But it was painful and quickly realized that I was making more damage than good so, I chose to stick to the elliptical. As I was supposed to run a half-marathon in two weeks. The strategy was then to keep what can keep the cardio activity in a good shape and go on an elliptical bike for one hour about every day. I also added some weight training to make sure the muscles will not be too impacted: push ups, pull ups, squat, etc. This was also supposed to make the core stronger.

After four weeks, I start to run on a treadmill 6 miles a day: 3 miles in the morning and 3 miles in the evening. Separating runs avoid exhaustion early in the morning and let your body quickly recover between sessions. I started to run at 10 minutes per mile and increase according to my own feeling. Quickly after a few days, I no longer feel any pain. Sounds like it was correctly healed and I was ready to be back on track.

Nutrition

The nutrition aspect was probably one of the most important: maintaining my usual calories intake without exercising will lead to weight gain (which will then decrease performance later). Running about 10 to 15 miles a day burns about 2000Kcal, which double my basal metabolic rate. In addition, recovering requires appropriate nutrients to rebuild damaged tissues. As soon as I was injured, I stop drinking any alcoholic beverage (which not help) and started eating a lot of protein, calcium (greek yogurt anyone?), fruits and vegetables. The basics is to increase the load of nutrients that help the recovery process. I cut significantly the calories intake, reduce the carbs and stick to healthy fat and protein-rich food.

Over the weeks, I managed to even lose a couple of pounds, staying at the same weight while running twice a day. It can be challenging for some people, especially in a social environment (when you have the opportunity to drink with friends) but this is rather a matter of balance: you drink less than usual (e.g. one drink max) and balance over the next days (eat less and increase slightly your exercise).

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Sleep

Last piece of the plan: sleeping. Getting enough sleep is an under-estimated contributor in recovery, either during training and when recovering from injury. This is when your body is sleeping, resting that he will rebuild the damaged tissues. For that reason, this is of primary importance to give him enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation not only makes you cranky or reduce your attention but reduces the overall ability to recover. For that reason, I stayed home every night and sleep from 8 to 10 hours a night. And even before sleeping, the main activities were watching a movie or reading – things that do not require to move too much. All of these decisions were done to maximize the recovery time, reduce the likelihood to party (and potentially overdrink or overeat) and help the body to repair.

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The take away

The main takeaway? Most of the time and except obvious extended damage, when injured, you do not need any medication or exam and rather need time to recover. We live in an over-medicated world where everything needs to be inspected, treated and medicated. This approach is stressful (going to the doctor) and intrusive (use of medication your body is not used to). You rely on somebody else who will make choices based on reasons that have nothing to do with your health (making money, avoiding lawsuit, etc.). By listening and understanding your body, you can establish your own recovery plan. This will also help you to recognize a major injury from a major one and manage post-race recovery at best.

In the current example, doctors estimated two months before starting running again but I was able to train again pretty quickly and even race before. Being active, running and bodyweight activities probably help to have a stronger core and recover faster than other folks. This also contribute to recover quicker than expected. But this base should be complemented with an appropriate recovery plan which associates activity, nutrition and (too much underestimated) sleep.

Happy to be back on track, hope to see you soon on the trails.

Mill Creek Half-Marathon – race report

How we got there?

We all do stupid in our life and I get my share when I signed up for a March half-marathon when the temperatures were still ok in January, just two days before getting a fracture with multiple contusions (special injury combo!). At that time, this sounds easy and was hoping to run it fast and run it under 2 hours. But after a serious injury and recovering for more than a month, what was a simple half-marathon became a challenging hilly/snowy post-injury race.

The race is in Youngstown, Ohio and organized by the Youngstown Road Runners Club (YRRC). The race is very affordable ($30 with a tech-shirt and a post-race pasta dinner!) and all profits of the race support YRRC charities: YSU Cross Country Scholarship Endowment and a Shoe Program for High School runners in need.

To get there from Pittsburgh, this is a 90 minutes drive. But with Snow Alert, this can take more than you expected. This was actually the case for this 2015 edition. So, if you plan to run this race, plan accordingly to be at the race site on time (race starts at 08:45). On my side, I drive safety and fast enough to be at the race site 5 minutes before the race. You have access to indoors (yaisse!!!) bathrooms before the race. Packet pickup is also indoor and the packet contain a long sleeve t-shirt and your bib. Nothing fancy, just what you really need.

millcreek-map

The course map

 

The race

The 2015 edition of the race took place on March, 1. The weather is really unpredictable at that time of year, so, do not have any expectation. During this 2015 edition, the course was totally covered by snow, which exhibits two interesting characteristics

  1. The entire course is scenic and beautiful. After not running outside for more than a month, this was exactly what I was looking for. All the race takes place in the park and you run from one scenic area to the other. Tree are covered with snow, rivers seem to rest: this is the perfect environment for people who like nature.
  2. You must push more than expected. With the snow, you do not get as much traction as you expect so that it requires more efforts from your legs. In addition, these conditions make the downhill part hazardous.

The course can be challenging if you are not used to running hills. There are about 19 hills (according to the race description). While they are not really though, they can be challenging in snowy conditions. For people used to steep hills (Pittsburgh runners anyone?) or on trails, this should not be an issue. You would highly recommend to use special  assistance in case the course condition is hazardous. Putting screws on your shoe or using a Yaktrax would provide more traction (uphill) and stability (downhill) and potentially avoid falling!

There are a lot of volunteers to check on you and give directions all along the course so that you cannot get lost and will get assistance if you get injured. Also, there was four (4) aid stations along the course, providing water and gatorade. Once you finish the race, you get a medal and can refuel indoors with different types of snacks (bagels, peanut butter, fruits, etc.). There is also a post-race pasta party (Penne with meatballs/tomato sauce) in a restaurant located few miles away from the course.

 

millcreek-ep

Elevation Profile

 

Let’s do it?

It all depends on your objectives. If you are looking for a simple and easy race, forget it. The weather can make you miserable and the course condition will make you forgetting any desire of getting a PR. This is a challenging course, not because of its elevation (obviously, the hills are not so though) but because of the potential condition: going uphill in the snow require way more efforts and attention in snowy condition than on a sunny day. This can be exhausting and mentally challenging. On the other hand, if you are not obsessed with your time and love running in a scenic course, go for it: this is a cheap and wonderful race to try!

Back on track, baby!

Back on track, baby!

Pros

  • Very scenic, especially with snow!
  • Good support for directions along the course
  • Good test on hills
  • Cheap (about $30)

Cons

  • Potential hazardous conditions
  • Difficult course if you are not used to hilly races

Informations

 

 

 

 

 

Steel City Road Runners is better than Ever (aka “Stepping Down – Last Part”)

Several months ago, after being involved as an ambassador of the Steel City Road Runners for few weeks, I left the ambassador groups and I authored a first blog post. The goal was to list the issues I noticed while being on board. After several weeks, several folks discussed their frustration which motivated me to write a follow-up. The reception to these articles showed how much people care about this group. The main reported issue was the organization of the leadership team and a focus on non-running activities whereas there were several emergencies to deal with.

No need to run in the cold, SCRR offers indoor training when it is freezing!

No need to run in the cold, SCRR offers indoor training when it is freezing!

But change happened. The organization of the leadership team has been reseted significantly and this is noticeable to see how much change there is. Let me list some of what has been introduced during the last two months, congratulations to the folks (such as Dave and Shannon – and all the others !) that are behind the scene:

  • Pacing team: there is pacers for Saturday and Sunday runs so that each runner can train according to their need. Also, if you want to take part of the community and become a pacer, the group welcomes participants, which can be a great idea if you want to pace a race.
  • Sunday Training runs: you cannot make your run on Saturday? Join on Sunday! SCRR is now offering Sunday runs as well so that you can log your long run on Sunday as well. Just a great idea if you have constraints on Saturday, have family business to take care of or any other reason. Just a convenient option.
  • Indoor Training: concerned about the ice when it is freezing and still want to run with your running buddies? the club has worked indoor running options with local gyms. Obviously, this is a very good option: running outside when freezing can be hazardous (and will not argue, especially after being injured because of it) and can jeopardize your racing schedule for the next days/weeks/months. The club provides a very cheap training options with cardio machines, which can also be a good option for cross-training.
  • Communication Improvements: most of the communication was done on facebook but many members do not use social media websites and felt isolated. Now, a weekly e-mail sent on Monday lists all the club events. Simple and very efficient, it does not discriminate anybody who is not on social media platforms.
  • Fall Marathon: the club has negotiated a discount for the club to go to the Baltimore marathon on October, 17. This should be a new invasion of Pittsburgh runners. Sounds like there is an effort to change the location of a fall marathon periodically so that people can explore different races around the Steel City!
  • RRCA coaching: SCRR is organizing an RRCA coach training in Pittsburgh and has initially announced it to the club so that interested members can save a spot! Such classes can be old out very quickly. Having a coaching class in our city is a real privilege: you do not have to flight, travel, everything is on site. This also strengthen the community: having more certified coaches within the members is a good opportunity to have qualified people when organizing events (such as running with kids, pacing, participating to a race as an organizer, etc.)

There are obviously other reasons and facts that show how much the club has improved during these past weeks but these are facts: a measure of how things improved over time. For sure, we can still argue that some stuff can be improved (some stupid geeks will complain about the website) but actual leadership team is focused on improving this running community and focusing on what people want to do: run. I am surprised how quickly things improved within the last few weeks and the changes that have been made.

This probably makes Steel City Road Runners the best running community in Pittsburgh (call it “premier running club” if you want!). For the $30 membership per year, no other club matches its benefits (mostly: 4 training runs per week, indoor training, pacers and Pittsburgh marathon week end, discount in local and online stores, t-shirt included with each membership). The value is just great and other clubs charge more and/or have less benefits (no pacer, only one or two training runs, no indoor trainings with cardio and weight machines when temperature are unsafe). These changes make me very proud to be part of this community and hope to be able to support it in the future as I wanted to do. If you are looking for a friendly running club in Pittsburgh, Steel City Road Runners is just what you need.