The increasingly parochial observations of a casual runner in his fifties. Was "serious" about "the sport" until personal and sociocultural inevitabilities prevailed.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's resolutions for 2017

1. My relationship with my Creator is in the sewer. It's been a while since I have attended church services regularly -- about 47 years, in fact. With my faith obviously in tatters and my spiritual condition in need of a complete overhaul, I think I need to start weaning myself off of those New Militant Fundamentalist Atheist screeds I enjoy from my Feedly reader, and get right with the Lord. 

2. Running has to go. The activity and everything about it -- the clothes, the prancing about, the contrived euphoria -- is apparently just not very manly, according to any number of hirsute gentlemen equipped with oversized bellies driving pickup trucks equipped with oversized tires. I am not going to sacrifice my hard-earned reputation as an alpha male in the eyes of people who matter for the sake of a few extra daily endorphins and a low body-fat percentage. But like a lot of people who no longer do any running or at least anything worth mentioning, I'll keep yacking about it here anyway.

3. I read too much and watch far too little reality television. Most books are just propaganda and bullshit and tools intended to make solecisms like miscegenation and same-sex relationships seem acceptable. If I am watching a reality show, the truth is in the title - I'm seeing *real* people do *real* things, and I can therefore learn valuable social habits from the gifted actors invariably selected for these shows. Mark Twain has been dead for over 100 years and I'm supposed to think the shit he came up with was relevant to modern society, modern thought?

4. I've been told I say in 13,000 words what could easily be expressed in 12,750. I don't necessarily buy this, and feel that I have always tended to err on the side of brevity when explaining myself. So instead of offering up the written equivalent of hydrogen bombs when updating my social media profiles, I plan to work on being more concise and avoiding grandiloquence in all its forms.

5. Go Broncos! Yeah, I've been fighting my ever-stronger need to root for Denver-based professional sports franchises in favor of teams from the Boston area. It's clearly vital that a guy in his forties predicate a generous dollop of his emotional well-being on the outcomes of pro sports contests, so I need to get that lingering urge to pull for shady assemblages like the Patriots and the Red Sox behind me. I've badly misjudged Denver fans, unfairly regarding them as bandwagon fans merely because they completely lose interest when their teams suck and only feign interest when their teams are decent. That's a start, at least.

Okay, at this point you're most likely nodding and saying, "I see what you did there. Up is down and down is up and yada yada yada." And if so, you're correct. But the frightening (albeit at times entertaining) thing is that there are bloggers and others out there whose genuine concept of reality is just that backward. Some of them will probably be featured on this blog before long -- we'll see.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Kim Duclos has a bizarre flare-up

Bizarre even by her standards, I mean. Which is like saying, "Juiced even by NFL standards."

She posted the material below the other day on Letsrun, and it was summarily deleted, but not before a few friends of mine who haunt the LRC forums around the clock and are are keyed into the walking human malignancy named Kimberly Duclos took screen shots of it.

Parsing this one takes some effort. First of all, bear in mind that this abject coward was told by the judge at our March 13 restraining-order hearing not to write anything more about me on the Internet. It wasn't a court order but it was unquestionably a strong advisory. But would anyone really expect Kim, who has no problem lying to the policelying in a restraining-order application, lying in court itself, and impersonating people to tell lies, to comply with this? Why would she? She's equal parts fundamentally evil person and mentally ill menace. She once proudly declared to her roommate, a friend of mine whom she went on to stiff for a couple months' rent, "I lie because it gets me what I want." Charming. I hope that my posts about her are exactly what she wants, but she seems to be thrown into colossal emotional disarray by them, so I have my doubts.

The "apparently I'm a dumbass" line is one of the few things Kim has posted online that is actually, unarguably true.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tread lightly around running info in the New York Times

I should probably establish a tag just for posts complaining about the sludge that the New York Times, the U.S.A.'s largest daily newspaper, foists on the running public with dismaying regularity.

The substandard stuff these writers expel can be divided loosely into a few categories. They're generally -- but not always -- sanguine enough to avoid peddling flat-out misinformation, so they instead settle for repurposing familiar ideas as cutting-edge discoveries ("OLDER THAN YODA? YOU MAY HAVE TO SLOW DOWN!"), creating faux-dramatic pieces based on hyperextended or poorly applied research findings ("RUNNING TOO MUCH MIGHT JUST KILL YOU!") and writing articles that are simply worthless in that they either state the obvious or acknowledge that what's needed to address a given problem is literally impossible.

This piece is an example of the last type. The headline alone, "Why We Get Running Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)" is a double dose of buncombe in that the article not only offers nothing new or helpful about the nature of running injuries, but also fails to give any feasible ways to keep them from occurring. If this were a column about football, an equivalent headline might be "Why It's Useful For Linemen To Strong (And How To Get That Way Without Exercising)."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My subprime qualification for the A wave of the Bolder Boulder 10K (and 2.32 digressions)

It's hard to be a runner living in Boulder and find ways not to enter the Bolder Boulder 10K, unless you're me and straddle the line between being a lazy jogger and someone with equally lazy hopes of returning to serious competition.

I've been present for three runnings of the event. In 2011, I watched some of the earlier waves -- there are about 100 of them and they go from fastest to slowest, with the earliest start at about 6:50 a.m. and the latest at at 9:25 a.m., with the pros taking off at 11:15 a.m. -- from about the one-mile mark. In 2014 I watched from various points along the course, catching sight of the men's and women's leaders this time. Last year I was close to the finish when the pros churned up the last ugly hill on Folsom Street and onto Stadium Drive.

This year, having been fairly consistent with, if not ambitious about, my "training" since midwinter, and experiencing many missed days thanks not only to laziness but to work commitments (another dubious feather in my slacking-cap; I used to regularly put in 90- to 100-mile weeks while working over 40 hours) I decided to give it a participatory go. But I didn't want to do it unless I could get into the A wave. Qualifying for the individual waves takes many forms, and since I have developed a late-onset allergy to actually racing, I decided the least painful way to go about this would be to run two miles on a treadmill at 10.6 MPH (5:39.6 pace) at the seasonal Bolder Boulder Store near 28th Street and Arapahoe. The powers-that-be equate this with a sub-38:00 10K.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ten ways to fail as a collegiate runner

In the two-plus years I competed in college, I barely improved from high school, when I ran 9:43 for 3200m and a 15:57 road 5K. My two most noteworthy races were an 8:55.2 indoor 3000m as a freshman at BU and a 26:48 8K at Bryant College in Rhode Island as a sophomore. I've started to pinpoint some of the possible reasons for my athletic stagnation:
1. I didn't sleep enough, my nutrition was erratic, and I drank like character in a Judd Apatow movie. This was par for the course on the surface, but I was significantly worse than most.
2. Our team did very little volume. 10-milers were considered noteworthy.
3. Our program included very little intensity. A sample "hard" workout: 16 x 400m in 75 with a slow 200 jog; 6 x 600 on a golf course at roughly 5:00 pace.
4. We were never given goals, as a team or as individuals, either before individual races or at the beginning of the season. The purpose of a given workout was never explained.
5. There was no discernible plan to our training within a competitive season. It was very much as if the coach made up our workouts shortly before telling us what they were, which is almost certainly what he in fact did.
6. We were not given any out-of-season training guidelines, other than the suggestion not to sit on our asses all summer.
7. Our coach gave us the silent treatment on the long van rides home after meets where we had raced poorly, which meant that we almost always rode home in silence, save for the barely concealed sniggering of a few of the guys secretly drinking and cutting up in the back. At the time we all just laughed at these displays of sulking, but in retrospect they were not precisely representative of a solid coach-athlete relationship.
8. It was really fucking cold a lot of the time. Training inside meant training on a concrete 176-yard piece-of-shit track that had been around since the Coolidge administration and was condemned by the NCAA after my freshman year.
9. We had very low standards of excellence. Anyone who sniffed 4:00-flat for 1500m 15:00-flat for 5K was regarded as a phenom. We were males, by the way.
10. The positive energy I brought to every practice, race and team meeting went roundly underappreciated, leaving me and numerous others disillusioned, unmotivated, and prone to blaming others for our failures.
I've left out a few things, but that's probably as comprehensive as any such list needs to be.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Not one for the ages: a strangely short-sighted NY Times effort

Gina Kolata has written a piece for the New York Times about a cold, recently unearthed fact: Runners slow down as they get older. This is arguably not her least praiseworthy effort for the Times just this spring alone, given what came one week later, but in any event, this bright journalist and passionate writer manages to again portray a science or health issue as something other than what it actually is.

In case you're feeling too lazy to follow a link, I will summarize the Times article in one sentence: A Yale economist and runner has produced a mathematical formula, translated into an online tool, that predicts exactly how much runners can be expected to slow with increasing age, and even more helpfully, how fast they would have run when they were younger if only they had tried.

I'm not quarreling so much with what Kolata writes in this piece as with the apparent knowledge gaps that allowed her to go forward with the story to begin with. She's been writing about endurance activities for a very long time, for a well-respected newspaper, and so I would expect her to be more thorough about doing her homework.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Welcome back to absurdity theater: getting close to an endgame with Kim Duclos

In the unlikely event you are reading this post and are not yet aware of the mindless, supernaturally persistent, and fundamentally diseased and cowardly bird thanamed Kimberly Duclos that has been pecking and honking at me for over two years now, do your due diligence and visit this page. Don't skim, read; if you're into this crap, you need to be all in. Then check out this post from a couple weeks ago and the comments beneath, where the same creature, whose given name is Kim Duclos, makes multiple appearances as "Beth.Proal."

All set? Do you have the picture of an obsessive, bitter, pathological burned-out husk of a human being who blames people for her own problems, lies freely under oath -- in fact, she once bragged to her then-roommate, "I lie because it gets me what I want" -- and would be quite likely to spew wild fictions when the truth would save or improve her life simply because lying is practically all that she has ever known?

OK, then.

A twelve-miler that would have ended in a search party ten years ago

Well, probably not a search party, but a decent amount of frustration and embarrassment in my head to complement the scratches and scrapes on my legs.

In running, as in other realms, technology moves in apparent small jumps that, summed together, amount to major leaps in how we do things. Until I stop to consider the differences between running in the 1980s when I got started and running in the age of untold numbers of gadgets and add-ons, I think that my experiences now are the same as they were when I was 15 (and I'm probably about as fast, but on the wrong end of the bell performance curve now). In fact, the complexion of even a typical training run is incalculably different from what it was during the Reagan administration.

I have explained -- okay, boasted, sometimes -- that when I was in high school in the mid- to late 1980s, long before Garmins or any sort of non-scrambled GPS signal and long, long before smartphones, I had creative ways of measuring runs that couldn't be driven with a motor vehicle or a bicycle fitted with one of the then-state-of-the-art digital devices for keeping track of speed and distance. Many of the trails I ran on back then in Concord and Canterbury, N.H. were included on my grandfather's USGS topographical maps (he worked for the N.H. Fish & Game Department for most of his adult life) as dotted lines, so when I would run on these, I would take a length of soldering wire, bend it along the trail on the map, straighten it out, and hold it against the scale of miles to get a solid distance estimate. Hey, that was pretty resourceful back in the day. (This was about a dozen years before I developed Komenometry, which I will describe in due time.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The 2004 U.S. 50K Road Championships

(This originally appeared somewhere a long time ago.)

I was up at 5:30 on race morning, two hours before gun time, a half-hour earlier than planned, and later than all of my teammates. I have found that I sleep very well in hotel rooms once I get around to trying. I shoveled back a few ibuprofen and the coffee Ben had generously fetched from across the street, collected my gear, and wandered outside. It was cold (below 40 degrees), but this was unquestionably preferable to the nastyhot conditions I'd been dealing with daily for three months.

We drove the two miles to the elementary school serving as the event's home base, collected our numbers, and glanced over the list of entrants. This roster was only 45 strong, but included one surprising name -- Mike Dudley, a one-time 2:14 guy who'd run just over 2:20 at Detroit last year and had apparently moved to Georgia. His credentials made him the prohibitive favorite; Dave had run 2:57:00+ in 2001 but was shooting for around 6:40's today, Eric only planned to run about half of the race and at half steam, and Ben (second at the National Trail Marathon Championship last month) and I were looking to run 6:00 pace, or 3:06:25. (I had toyed over the past week with the thought of a sub-three but after seeing the course I knew this would take a 2:55 effort and I wasn't ready to provide one.) Most in attendance appeared to be typical ultrafolks in no hurry to do anything other than seek a sturdy weekend challenge by taking part in a roving buffet that would surely last into the early afternoon.

I arranged five 16-ounce bottles of double-strength Gatorade on the grass near the start, planning to grab one after each loop, and downed a sixth during a brief warm-up. Dudley had pronounced himself "washed up" before the start, but at the starter's cry of "Go!" he quickly settled in behind Ben and I, who nominally led a group of about seven people through what might have been last year's one-mile mark in exactly six minutes. I was surprised even this many people came along for the ride. By the time we'd reached the halfway point of the first loop, Ben, Mike and I were alone and clipping along at just under 6:00 pace. An "official" golf cart would take us through the first loop before pulling off the course; I'm not sure what purpose this served, but it was all the help we'd get. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A little-known bit of wisdom: Sociopaths suck

I thought -- well, naively sort of hoped -- that a March 14 court appearance with a former running client named Kimberly Duclos, a one-time near-national-class marathoner turned world-class degenerate, would put a stop to two years of ongoing, obsessive, malignant behavior from her.

But alas, this hasn't happened. I won't go into full details yet because some of this is resting in the hands of my lawyer(s), but I'm under no obligation to keep the story as whole under wraps. A number of you have already asked for and received the salient details by e-mail as it is, so this will just cut out the middleman for everyone else.

Never underestimate the power of raw malice coupled to delusional thinking, served with a dollop of resentment, self-loathing, and blaming other people for one's own failings, all of it washed down with several cocktails of alcohol and psychological projection. True sociopaths such as Kim Duclos are no more discouraged by everyday hindrances to their foul misdeeds than are hungry termites by cries of, "Get off my wood, you bastards!" But termites are cheaper to deal with.

Anyway, start here. This is a story in progress, using a very tenuous definition of "progress."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Doubling down

I was never one of those types who was inclined to race twice in the same weekend, but the relatively few times I've done this, it has usually worked out OK.
On this weekend 13 years ago, I ran a 5K in Gilmanton, N.H. on Saturday and the Eastern States 20-Miler on the coast on Sunday and won both. I didn't decide to run the 5K until that morning, and along with Derek Sawyer I missed the start by about 20 seconds. I caught the leaders before the mile mark (which I reached in 5:08) and pulled away from Fergus Cullen on the subsequent downhill before picking my way up the very ugly hill from about 2 to 2.6 miles. My official time was 17:05, which sounds bad even allowing for the extra 100 or so meters at the start, but the course is very slow -- dirt roads in late March in New England are not forgiving venues.
My main focus for the weekend was the 20-miler. I was given instructions byPete to run splits of about 55:30/54:00 if at all possible, as I would be gunning for the Olympic Trials qualifying standard of 2:22:00 at the Boston Marathon three weeks later. I ended up with a solid 1:49:46 in the rain, alone after seven miles, at the end of something like a 122-mile week, although my negative split wasn't as pronounced as intended.
Three weeks later I was as ready as I'd ever be to run 5:25 pace for 26.2 miles. I would need an almost perfect day to do it, both weather-wise and from within. But it turned out to be very warm, and I dropped out at around 12K -- I was on 2:19 pace, but that was because of the downhill early miles and I was never going to be able to sustain that clip. I thought I would get one more serious shot at the Trials standard that fall, but after messing up my hip in August at the infernal Bridge of Flowers 10K, I couldn't came all the way back to where I needed to be in time, and -- despite most of my lifetime personal bests coming the following year at age 34 -- in fact never took a serious shot at a marathon ever again.
This cursory write-up in a now-defunct online newsletter took some digging to find.

On becoming THAT runner, part 238

Back when I trained with the sole intent of performing well in running races, I would occasionally encounter older runners who still ran seriously, and even did speed workouts -- not so they could continue to race but so they could train with people who, well, trained with the sole intent of performing well in running races. I remember wondering if I would ever become such a high-caliber slacker.
No further comment.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wherein I stand my running on its head

When I was training for marathons, quite a few runs were not physically satisfying (when you're consistently putting in 15 to 20 miles a day, your ass tends to drag on the ground like a hyena's much of the time) but I always enjoyed the psychological boost of engaging in heavy-duty goal-oriented behavior.
Now that I am a de facto jogger, and one who probably looks like a chimera of Bill the Cat and Alfred E. Neuman out there, this arrangement has been flip-flopped. It's easy to get a physical rush from an hour-long trot because that constitutes a long run now, but I can't help but inwardly mock my own efforts -- "If I am going to change my clothes and head out into the cold for a half and hour when I'm not even planning to race, why the hell do I bother at all?"
I know better, though. I run for the same essential reason I take certain vitamins and other pills and otherwise tend to the more elusive elements of personal well-being: If I think I might be restless and discontent now, just wait and see what happens when I sit on my ass for too long.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Uncanny recall, slow-moving reptiles and celebrity deaths

I have a perhaps an unusually reliable long-term memory in general, even if I sometimes can't tell you what I ate for dinner two nights ago. But without a doubt my memory for running-related things borders on the supernaturally vivid and accurate. Here's a great example and one that relates to current -- and unfortunate -- events.