Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Monday, January 15, 2018

Yet another false nutritional dilemma

The headline of a recent Boulder Daily Camera article, "Carbs not the enemy: CU Boulder physiologist shares key to weight loss, metabolic health" is misleading. Despite the Camera being my local paper, I became aware of this article only after one of my East Coast friends, an instigator extraordinaire, told me that it had appeared on the Facebook timeline of one of the running world's more energetic, self-important, and prickly cranks, who had parroted the "carbs are not the enemy" line, and gone on to yammer indulgently about how people who can't lose weight should simply be exercising more. Because I maintain a longstanding policy of not associating with this person both practical and historical reasons, I decided to refrain from commenting on his Facebook page and review the article here instead.

Nowhere in this piece does the University of Colorado researcher, Inigo San Millan, claim that carbohydrates, specifically, are not to blame for people gaining weight, although that's part of the story. He's pointing out that homing in on any one macronutrient is futile, despite America's cyclic obsession with demonizing fats (circa 1988-1990), carbs (mid-1990s and beyond), gluten (who the hell cares), and whatever else comes along (soon). (The gluten-free craze has nothing to do with weight-loss-through-supermarket-choices specifically, but is emblematic of the same futility.)

Lunatic troll doubles down on self-abasement: part 89 in an infinite series

Perhaps you've encountered this kind of thing before: Someone is caught in an undeniable, flat-out  lie on the Internet, and instead of fessing up or simply disappearing, he or she compounds the entire uproarious fuckup with ever-more-ridiculous lies while becoming markedly more agitated after every reply from her interlocutors. This person decides she will fight until the bitter end, reality be damned, her headlong rush into sheer humiliation notwithstanding.

In adopting a "go big or go home" mentality with respect to all-important Internet wars, this brand of troll ignores a simple, critical fact: from the moment the exchange first started, there was zero chance of her "winning," by any definition.

I mentioned that I'd be addressing Kim Duclos' using the death of one of my friends as tool for hammering away at her usual bullshit: that I'm a homeless, criminal, abusive gutter-drunk who relies on some combination of the local shelter, the charity of the woman I beat up, running prowess, thievery, and mind control to get what I want out of my sad and hopeless life. Kind of like a combination of Alex DeLarge, James Bond, and Jeff Lebowski.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering

I've had accounts on both Garmin Connect and Strava for several years, but it's been ages since I actually used a GPS watch -- something I've never done consistently anyway -- and I've used my profiles almost exclusively to keep track of other people's training for both professional and recreational purposes. To the extent that I've used either interface to keep track of my own running, I've usually just entered the data manually.

It's possible that what I am doing these days constitutes training and not just therapy. I say this because even though entering a race would be a misguided idea for me now and at any imaginable time in the future, I'm probably between 50 and 75 percent certain of doing so anyway within the lifetimes of almost everyone reading this. Maybe even all of you.

As a result, I like to time myself over known distances from time to time, in the same way I like to troll blogs perpetrated by abject morons -- i.e., I don't get any real benefit from it and I'm often more disappointed than gratified after it's over, but I still keep fucking doing it. Until a few weeks ago, however, I could not do this with any precision unless I was either on a track or puttering along one of the numerous sections of paved rec paths that  have been wheeled and marked off at regular intervals.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A mini wrap-up, new stuff, and people whose 2018 has begun badly

The start to my 2018 has been unusually stressful, as much owing to venturing out of my comfort zone as to "problems." So far, after receiving a delightful and unexpected end-of-year pay bonus from my primary work client on December 31st, I've gotten into a minor car accident (I won't get into whose fault that might have been here), managed to misplace $100 in cash (a downstream effect of thinking I'd lost a debit card in December during a run without actually having done so), been interviewed by the Boulder Daily Camera about the Christmas morning death of one of my friends, and spoken at a Boulder City Council meeting concerning issues related to that death. I've also experienced a few other minor setbacks and frustrations lately, but nothing really new or worth writing about -- even in this space, which is clearly nothing more than a repository for cognitive flatulence that would otherwise be allowed to dissipate unnoticed.

But compared to Kim Duclos, I'm on pace to conquer the entire solar system by Saint Patrick's Day, including the Oort Cloud. More on that relentless one-monkey shit-war under the fold, but inasmuch as Kim's thought processes include any deliberation at all, she seems to have accepted that she has turned her own life into a bad joke from which she knows she will never escape, and is therefore willingly offering herself up as a rhetorical punching bag at regular intervals. (I know this theory is false, and that Kim is just an unbalanced dimwit who thinks that using the same shady tactics that have resulted only in the deepening of her own shame and sense of powerlessness 99 times in 99 tries will somehow prove fruitful on her 100th attempt. But as a comparatively normal person, I can't help but view others' behavior and decision-making through an everyday lens.)

I already summarized my 2017 from an overall perspective on my other blog. Since a lot of my life, however grudgingly at times, involves running, assessing how any given year has gone necessarily entails figuring out what was good and bad about my training, performances, outlook, and general relationship to the sport. Last year, having started on the ground fitness floor in December 2016, I worked up to consistent 65- to 75-mile weeks didn't miss a day of running until mid-July, and along the way managed a sub-par but not wildly disappointing 38:31 at the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day. I weathered my midsummer knee injury with unprecedented composure (in years past, I often drank my way through such issues) but when I came back after my five-week layoff, I realized that what I suspected at the start of the year was mostly true: I just don't care enough about the possibility of rising to a less mediocre level to put a lot of focused work into that, even if my body allows it.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Candy-ass

I'm expecting new running pants and shoes in the post today. According to one of the major weather services, it's supposed to drop below freezing in Boulder at about 5 p.m. tomorrow and stay there until Wednesday at noon, and it will almost certainly snow at least twice in this period.

 This shouldn't be a big deal. In the winter of 1995, I lived in Hanover, N.H., where did not rise above 32 degrees Fahrenheit for the entire month of January. According to my training log, I averaged almost 17 miles a day that month, almost all of it on very hilly terrain and much of it in the dark because I was often required to be someplace during the day. That might have been an unusually rough winter, but as a native of New Hampshire I can't say it was truly atypical for the region.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Things that ten people in the professional running world probably aren't inclined to say


"Someone will eventually have to be the first American woman to win Boston since 1985, and honestly, I don't really care if it's me, Jordan or someone else. People say I'm competitive, but that's not really a major part of my make-up, and technically I'm from Colorado...also, I think there's a misperception about what happened in Central Park in November. It's easy to confuse "Heck yeah!" with something else, but I wish everyone would dial it back a bit."

-- Shalane Flanagan, 2017 New York City Marathon champion, four-time U.S. Olympian

"We try to be as transparent as we can, because it helps the sport. That's why when our athletes give interviews, they're encouraged to be as improvisational as possible rather than come off sounding stilted or colorless. Winning is important, but so is furthering running's image as being home to a lot of honorable, charismatic sportsmen and sportswomen."

 -- Alberto Salazar, head coach, Nike Oregon Project

"You know, I don't really have an opinion on that, and if I did, I'm  not really much for public statements. You look at all of the anonymous people taking shots at runners on message boards, and it's really intimidating. I've just always preferred to let my feet do the talking."

-- Lauren Fleshman, two-time U.S. outdoor 5,000-meter champion

"When we started, it wasn't supposed to be  a gimmick. We really thought we were producing something that was not only more comfortable and more economical for all types of runners, but safer and better on the body. We were as surprised as anyone when the problems started."

-- The makers of Vibram FiveFingers

"I think of how much faster that 47:49 ten-miler and that 28:29 10K might have been if I'd known to incorporate short breaks into my races. The fact that I only discovered how well that works when I was pushing 50 is probably the biggest regret of my competitive career."

-- Jeff Galloway, 1972 U.S. Olympian in the 10,000 meters, book author and entrepreneur

"We've decided to put an end to the anonymous trolls here once and for all by requiring registration instead of just offering it as an option in the hope that this will placate people. Some website owners might hold their nose and tolerate a stream of demeaning 'hotness' threads, libelous claims, and outright racist hostility if it meant more page impressions, but that's not us."

-- Weldon and Robert Johnson, co-founders of Letsrun.com

"I'm all for putting athletic bodies on display, because a lot of us have worked hard to get and keep these physiques. But track in field is not a meat-market or a fashion show."

-- Maggie Vessey, retired 1:57.84 800-meter runner

'"You see the miles and all the miles,  and you only talk about those, and the hills and the Kenyan elite genes or Ethiopia genes. You in America coaches label and copy the volume of training. I laugh at you for this as the fundamental EPO difference is hidden plain sight. Kenyans keep getting positive dope and I say strong anecdote about  those being different level moral Kenyans, and we keep the going EPO play. Foolish idiots you are!"

-- Renato Canova, coach of various top East African marathon

"We tried for a long time to develop meaningful performance-enhancers, but the truth is that the stuff just doesn't work. And drug use in the Olympics is historically negligible anyway. Athletes have their own talent, drive and lifestyle to reckon with and, well, that's it. Any benefit any runner, thrower or jumper has gotten from a pill or a syringe? Purely psychological. We like to take about PEDs because we like to chalk up our losing to other people's cheating, plain and simple."

-- Victor Conte, founder of the now-defunct Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO), ex-convict, and current head of SNAC Nutrition

"I actually won't have a book coming out in the next three months. I've decided people focus way too much on nutrition and exercise, and frankly I've never liked writing."

-- Matt Fitzgerald, author of 87.3% of running books currently in print

(Disclaimer for the daft: these are not actual quotes.)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Nobody will beat this

December 17 happens to be the birthday of a sizable contingent of notable runners.
  • Peter Snell (b. 1938) -- three Olympic golds, five WRs, 1:44.3 800m on a grass track)
  • Tatyana Kazankina (b. 1951) -- three Olympic golds, one WR, first woman under 4:00 for 1,500m (her 3:52.47 PR from 1980 remains a European record). Known doper, in case her Soviet nationality and the historical eras weren't dead giveaways.
  • Paula Radcliffe (b. 1973) -- two road WRs (10K and marathon, the latter still standing), three World Cross-Country Championship gold medals, 2004 and  2008 Olympian
  • David Rudisha (b. 1988) -- two Olympic golds, one WR (800m, 1:40.91, still standing)
  • Marc Davis (b. 1969) -- 1986 Kinney (now Foot Locker) national champion, American 5K road record, 1996 Olympian
  • Kevin Beck (b. 1969) -- Setter of numerous course records in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. 1984 Blue Dukes 2-Mile Road Race champion (12:38).
Although Davis was apparently born on the same date I was, he graduated from high school in 1987, a year earlier than I did. This means that when he placed 8th at Kinney Nationals as a junior, he was still only 15 years old.