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 authorand 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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

2017 Bolder Boulder 10K

Ingredients:

38:31 in my first race longer than 5K in over 10 years, not that there have been many races of any kind choose from in that span. 3rd in my age group of 385, and 354th overall out of 43,752 (or so). I'm as displeased with this as I should be, which means I have to keep training, or more to the point need to resume serious training and ramp up my effort to make this whole quest worth it.

Now add bullshit and stir vigorously:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Training, week of May 22 through May 28

44 miles, tapering from a very light workload for no defensible reason.

I enjoy each run more when I do less total running, but I hate the world less if I run more, even though my enjoyment of the world is contingent on feeling good when I run. Figure that one out. It's like that M.C. Escher chimney painting in the context of trying to enjoy life as a restless neurotic, with me as a hopping endlessly around the chimney's perimeter in a quest to achieve the vastly overrated pseudo-quantity called "balance."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Training, week of May 15 through May 21

58 panache-free miles, no more or no less of an embarrassment than last week from the standpoint of the 100,000 or so steps a week I refer to inappropriately as "training." We had some genuinely wintry weather on Thursday and Friday that included some decent-sized hailstones in my 'hood, but by Saturday afternoon it was in the 70s.

A seemingly disproportionate number of my friends and associates have been struggling lately. Some of them brought it entirely on themselves and deserve no better than what they are getting; others are blameless, the victims of unreliable bodies and less-than-ideal life circumstances

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gaughan shatters N.H. 3200m record; crickets cheer enthusiastically

I've been a consistent follower of New Hampshire track and field and cross-country since graduating from Concord High School in 1988. This has clearly become easier over the years with the creation and expansion of the World Wide Web, with two of my go-to running sites among the countless in my bookmarks being Lancer Timing and the MileSplit network.

Last Friday, a junior from Exeter High School named Jacqueline Gaughan went into the 3,200-meter run at the Loucks Games in White Plains, N.Y. already holding the outdoor state record in the event; last June, her second-place 10:24.27 at the New England Championship earned her that distinction. Also, in March, she ran 10:24.32 for two full miles to place seventh at the New Balance National Indoor Championships in New York City, a time equivalent to about 10:20.7 for the metric distance.

Whatever Gaughan's "true" fastest 3,200-meter time was going into the Loucks Games, she obliterated it, running 10:05.71 to place second to sophomore Kelsey Chmiel of perennial national powerhouse Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Chmiel's 9:59.62 and Gaughan's time were good for 3rd and 5th in the nation this spring.

"There's never a reason to pay for running plans"

So says a familiar bastion of virtually nonexistent -- yet somehow still deteriorating -- integrity. (Please click on that link if you're not familiar with the person I'm writing about or why I do it. Lize's post describes what is perhaps the apotheosis of this years-long and only slowly ebbing mess.)

Ever the merry prankster, Kim Duclos decided to take a training plan she asked me for in 2013 -- which she repeatedly promised to pay for and didn't, as detailed below -- and modify the dates on it before posting a link to it on Facebook. This was during the height of an aggressive and quite insane campaign that ultimately wound up with the two of us in a courtroom, during which it apparently somehow escaped her that the judge told her, in so many stern words, "Ma'am, please stop lying and wasting everyone's time. Leave this guy alone, and try to behave like you belong in the world." Of course, Kim hasn't stopped lying and hasn't left me alone, and has also decided to focus her yammering even more exquisitely on Lize, perhaps believing her to be a weaker adversary than me, or something. Dumb move.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How distance running gets media attention in the United States, in brief

1. A well-known running proponent dies during a run.
2. Terrorists' bombs go off at a major race.
3. A celebrity wobbles through a marathon at any pace.
4. A politician lies about his running exploits (and arguably remains consistent if nothing else).
5. Some combination of these.

This morning brought an example of #5, when U.S. Senator Thomas Tillis collapsed during a 3-mile race in D.C. (yes, a Wednesday-morning race) and was hospitalized. It looks like he'll be okay.

This underscores why it's not likely that U.S.A. Track & Field, an organization that simply cannot be abused or mocked too harshly, will ever be moved to up its game from the sub-basement level.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Training, week of May 8 through May 14: unimpressive junk on display

An additional 63 miles' worth of barely aerobic garbage, all in the name of more amusingly passing the time between the present and my eventual last stinking breath. That's my rationale now: I'm practically embarrassed to even admit here what I'm up to every Sunday or Monday, but I'd be a fount of even worse banality were I not running.

As the graphic reveals, this was series of short, stubby, pathetically shriveled runs, especially in the beginning of the week when rainy weather contributed to that shrinkage. I rallied somewhat later in the week, and on Sunday afternoon I had some pleasant accelerations at a sexy pace, but the week as a whole failed to swell into anything resembling a proud, throbbing effort. Well, the last part is arguable; I seem to be sore more often than not now -- the new addition to the soreness pile involves my right knee, although it's nothing debilitating yet -- despite doing everything I can account for (diet, sleep, avoiding toxic chemicals. general life satisfaction) the "right" way, if you consider the act of running itself to be a right thing. And that is always debatable.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Young Runners at the Top: Get your discounted copy here

I realize that virtually no one orders books by mail anymore, and that the tiny number of Americans who still read them either buy them online or visit an actual store. Nevertheless, this flyer offers a 30% discount of you choose to purchase a hardcover copy of Young Runners at the Top, which has a scheduled release date of June 17, directly from the publisher.

The least expensive way to read the book at this point, short of stealing my, Lize or Brad's laptop or thumb drives, is to get an electronic copy through this link at Google Play. 

In the meantime, the three of us and Rowman & Littlefield's publicist are working to set up the usual events locally and beyond -- a book signing and discussion, radio interviews (Lize has long been extensively involved in local radio as both an interviewer and interview subject, so this is not a hypothetical), podcasts, and to-be-determined ventures and misadventures.

All of us are busy with various other things and we don't plan to get rich from this book, but the initial push gives all of us a chance to interface with the running public. This was actually the most enjoyable aspect of being the editor of Run Strong, actually, so even if I remain cynical about ever running respectable races again, I can still glad-hand, hobnob, mingle, and blather about the sport with the best of them.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Training, week of May 1 through May 7

I could safely leave this post and others like it blank with the exception of the customary embedded image file from Garmin Connect with no loss of meaningful information. Or I could just omit the image and type in a two-digit number followed by "miles" (in this case 65). At this point, the only reason I am bothering with these weekly updates is because I like to think I haven't plateaued already in terms of fitness or motivation but am merely in a slump and managing it somewhat honorably (more on this below).

Some people on the downside of their lifetime motivational arc, or perhaps just starting to climb the upside of the same arc in earnest, keep running blogs that feature training reports primarily because they believe that this helps keep them accountable, even when they know few people are reading. I appreciate this impulse, but I've also seen it fail far more often than I've seen it succeed in the absence of other, more organic reasons to train or at least run consistently. What I am engaged in now is some purgatory-style hybrid of running and training, and my inability to escape the repetitively dolorous tone of these Sunday-night or Monday-morning shitposts is consistent with this.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Not to give anything away, but...

A summary of my running these days:

M - Sore, but able to move in a more or less straight line. Pictures of donkeys and horses.

Tu -- Felt great and springy (although sore) but was running slower than I thought I was. Pictures of a 1924 Dodge Dart driving 60 mph with no engine.

W -- Felt shitty and draggy (sore and tired) yet ran the same pace as yesterday. Pictures of dead farm animals.

Th -- Almost not sore. First honest attempt at hydrating with somethng besides coffee all week. Pictures of dead serpents.

F -- Speed day! Same as the other four days except more daydreaming about PRs from the Clinton and Bush administrations. Pictures of the Flatirons. Legs hurt.

Sa -- Went a little and farther than usual because of two new MP3 mixes of "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (for a total of 38). Stopped to examine some constellations and other astronimical phenomena and quietly explain the particulars to nonexistent people, all while being sore.

Su -- 40 percent of the week's mileage in two irritably executed runs, making about 70 for the week and setting things up nicely for a repeat of same.

Kipchoge's 2:00:25: broadening the gender gap


Kipchoge winning the 2016 Olympic Marathon (Getty Images)
After Eliud Kipchoge's 2:00:25 in Italy this morning, the gap between the fastest and second-fastest marathons ever run under any conditions now stands at 2 minutes, 32 seconds -- 2:00:25 vs. 2:02:57, the latter being Dennis Kimetto's WR from Berlin in 2014. (Yes, it was not a world record and I don't think it ought to be -- you can read all about the various reasons for this on the Internet, and have already done so unless you just awakened from a coma and found yourself, of all places, here.)
That is a greater difference than on the women's side, an uncharactersitic finding in athletics, where female outliers are the norm and male outlies the exception. This would have been true even without Mary Keitany's 2:17:01 two weeks ago in London -- and without, surprisingly, the existence of Paula Radcliffe at all.

Keitany's effort took her to witihin 1:36 of Radcliffe's mark, lowering the gap between Radcliffe's WR and the second-fastest mark -- Radcliffe's own 2:17:18 from 2002 -- by 17 seconds.

 One has to go back 34 years to see a fastest-to-second-fastest interval longer than 2:32 on the women's side. In the 1983 Boston Marathon, Joan Benoit ran 2:22:43 after running the first half in 1:08:34 to break the WR Grete Waitz had set in London the day before (2:25:28) by 2:45. Benoit's record would fall two years later to Ingrid Kristiansen (2:21:06 in London). That year at Boston, 84 men broke 2:20:00, 76 of them Americans (and this was pre-prize money). 29th place, which is what I got in 2001 with a 2:24:17, was 2:15:xx or 2:16:xx. 2:24:17 would have been well outside the top 150, aybe out of the top 200 (I can't find deep results online). A favorable wind explains much of this, but not most of it, and the reasons for the involution of B-level American men's marathon running constitute a different discussion entirely.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Training, week of April 24 through April 30

54 miles, 20 of them on the final day. I kind of needed something significant at this point, and my first 20-mile day in years is it. I had  couple of travel days and shitty weather to contend with all week long, but these wouldn't have been real impediments to doing more than I did had I possessed the motivation I had a decade ago; they merely underscored the low threshold I now have for allowing myself to be jostled off track.

I experienced a lot of sadness this week thanks to events outside my sphere of influence. I will say that were I not a runner, I would not have have been privy to these things and therefore would not have experienced the honest emotion that comes with difficulty, and also were I not a runner I wouldn't have dealt with the turmoil and mild disillusionment at all gracefully.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass, April

241 miles. I still haven't missed a day of running in 2017 and therefore have a streak of 120 + whatever number of days I had in a row at the end of December, I think about 15.

Despite getting into a couple of races and tying for the win in one of them (that, only because my buddy held back) it was a disappointing month overall. I knew my ides about where I would be by this point in the year were not realistic, but that didn't keep me from latching onto them and nourishing them nicely into a big bush of expectations I fell far short of.

My annual four-week spring trip back to New England was a good time, as always. Just not for purposes of the subject of this blog specifically.