Runners will take off in the 2018 New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 4. While finishing that 26.2 mile race is a big achievement, training to run the race is essential, and runners log in many miles and go through lots of running shoes before they get to the starting line. But the marathon is just one day. Many of us are running and working out constantly. And all that activity can be tough on our feet. Add to that our love for stilettos and fancy shoes and keeping our feet healthy can be a challenge. Dr. Casey Ann Pidich, aka Dr. Glass Slipper, is a foot specialist and an attending surgeon at Fifth Avenue Surgery Center and Gramercy Surgery Center in Manhattan. She also volunteers her time as a medical volunteer for New York City Marathons and half marathons. In an interview with Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti, she gives tips on how we can keep walking and running without pain or injury.
When I was 60 years old, after many years of running and one New York City Marathon, I made the decision to have my knees replaced. Yes, both of them at the same time. It was a good move. The operation and rehab went well and after six months, I was able to resume most of my regular activities, except for running. I believed my doctor that my quality of life would be very much improved.
Except for one thing. Whenever I go through airport security, I am subjected to a through and humiliating pat-down. But guess what, America? I will no longer be alone. Because TSA agents have a 98 percent failure rate detecting weapons being brought on planes (these tests were executed by the Department of Homeland Security), the agency’s response is to make the rest of us suffer. It doesn’t matter that these weapons – guns, machetes, nunchucks, hand grenades, uzis, whatever – were hidden in carry on bags, not on people, pat-downs are supposedly going to make all of us safer.
Any reasonable person can see the fallacy in this argument. But the TSA has never been known for taking the reasonable route. The agency opts for headlines that will make the vast majority of Americans believe it has their welfare at heart. There’s no mention that carry ons will be more diligently screened, just passengers. And make no mistake, these new pat-down procedures will be “comprehensive.”
The change in TSA pat-downs is apparently so extreme, that airport security and police departments have been alerted, according to a report from Bloomberg. “Due to this change, TSA asked FSDs [field security directors] to contact airport law enforcement and brief them on the procedures in case they are notified that a passenger believes a [TSA employee] has subjected them to an abnormal screening practice,” ACI (Airport Council International) wrote.
These new procedures are not new to me. I have had to endure these invasive pat-downs since my knee replacements. So, in case you’re wondering, I thought I would give you a preview of what you have to look forward to, whether you are planning a spring or summer vacation, when you will be one of millions being subjected to these new more thorough pat-down procedures.
I have a Global Entry card which, I had hoped, would cut me some slack. Being in a group that has been pre-screened means I don’t have to take off my coat or shoes or remove my laptop from my bag when going through security. But it doesn’t give me a pass on pat-downs.
After I go through the TSA check-in line at security, I place my belongings on the conveyer belt and then walk through the metal detector. The alarms go off and I explain that I have knee replacements. Then a female agent is called over to do the pat-down. I’m often asked if I want to do the pat-down in private. But if I’m alone, I worry about my belongings staying in the area without anyone watching them. (I’ve seen numerous TV programs where TSA agents and passengers walk off with electronic equipment, etc.) So I agree to the pat-down in the open. It rarely goes well. The TSA agent, perhaps sensing my disapproval, is usually sullen and aggressive. She makes a point of telling me that she’s using the back of her hands, as if that makes this invasion of my privacy OK. On one occasion, the woman’s hands, after feeling around my breast area, moved to my groin. I steeled myself not to cry, but did not succeed.
By the time I was cleared and rejoined my husband, I was sobbing. He tried his best to comfort me, but he was angry. I didn’t want him to create a scene, so I pulled it together and we walked to the gate. It took me the entire plane ride, five hours-plus, for me to calm down. But, of course, I knew that I would have to endure a repeat of the process on the way back.
For the record, agents in New York, whether at LaGuardia or JFK, are the most difficult to deal with. The agents at Reagan National in D.C. are a close second. (One can only imagine how busy the NYPD will be once these pat-downs get underway.) The TSA agents I have encountered in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and many other U.S. cities, are more empathetic, perhaps because those airports receive less traffic and are less in the spotlight. Or maybe people in these cities are just nicer. Who knows?
I understand that Homeland Security and the TSA have a job to do. We all want to be safe when we fly. No one wants another 9/11 or to be sitting next to the shoe bomber. We also want to avoid profiling, singling out people deemed to be a threat because of how they look, their religion, or where they live. But there has to be a better way to keep all of us safe and not have some passengers (like me) feel traumatized each and every time they fly.
Top photo: Bigstock
Cindy Peterson is a 77 year-old mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She’s also a marathon runner, who recently completed her 50th marathon! And she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. Next year, she already has plans to run the Honolulu Marathon.
It all started with a bucket list she created over 35 years ago. It contained 30 things she wanted to accomplish in her life. Ten years later, she was down to just two items on the list: buy a Jaguar and run a marathon. She already had a company car, so she focused on the run instead. But at the age of 55, that task seemed almost insurmountable. Then she turned on the TV.
“I was watching the NYC Marathon in 1993, when the founder, Fred Lebow, ran with a brain tumor. I was so motivated that if he could run with a brain tumor and complete the Marathon, I could also run it, even though I had varicose veins, couldn’t walk a block, and was 20 pounds overweight!!”
But Cindy was determined. She joined the New York Road Runner’s Club and began training, little by little, step by step. A year later, in 1994, she completed her first New York City Marathon. Since then, she has run 18 more marathons in New York, plus literally dozens of others around the country and around the world. She is a member of the 7 Continents Club, an honor bestowed upon runners who have completed at least one marathon on all seven continents. Her conquests include Easter Island, Antarctica, South Africa, and the Marathon du Medoc, where runners dress up in costumes (Cindy was a “can-can” girl), drink wine, eat, and run through the most famous vineyards in the world.
In 1995, Cindy also helped found the Mercury Masters, a running club created exclusively for women over the age of 50. Their mission was and is to promote a healthy lifestyle, camaraderie, and mutual support. The original group of ladies still train, run, and travel together. They also stay connected with parties, emails, and birthday greetings. As Cindy says, “They are always in your corner. They always have your back.”
But it takes more than friends to stay in marathon shape. Six days a week, rain or shine, Cindy runs six to eight miles a day around Sunset Lake in Western New Jersey. She gets up at 5 a.m., eats a banana, puts on her knee pads (her route is rocky, so falls are frequent), her gators (they keep the dirt and small stones out of her shoes); and then she heads out the door for one to two hours. Her pace has slowed over the years – she has gone from a 10-minute mile to a 13-minute mile. But, she says, those morning runs clear her head and give her time to think.
“You need to be with your own self. Whatever you need to fix, you get it done. Then you feel great about your self, your body feels good. It keeps me going. If I couldn’t run, I’d walk.”
Cindy also says it’s never too late to start. Just remember to take it slow and increase your mileage by only 10% per week; get plenty of rest; and drink lots of water, no matter what the season. When I asked her at what age she planned to stop running, she laughed and replied, “You don’t stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running!!”