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

Friday, December 22, 2017


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

"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.

Friday, December 15, 2017

An amalgam of weak excuses and rationalizations

The title of this post has nothing to do with the state of my current running; I'm not doing a lot, but on the other hand I don't care enough to make excuses for this or rationalize it in any way. I may have one more race to report on erelong, but if I wouldn't bookmark this shithole in anticipation of such a thing.

"An amalgam of weak excuses and rationalizations" is the title of the page I had on an older version of my personal page. At some point I decided to streamline the place and ditch a lot of material I judged to be of little to no interest to anyone else. As usual I missed the mark on this, because I'm sometimes told to this day that one of the main reasons people ever bothered with, other than the now-long-defunct message board, was the race reports. A lot of this was surely schadenfreude-driven, because after shitty races I would often do on dolorously and at disgusting length about my insufficiencies and inadequacies, and would sometimes use these as a springboard to indicting everything I could think of about distance running in general. On the other hand, some people said they found them useful and -- I hate to say it but I'm just the messenger -- inspirational.

Thanks to a combination of recalling this input, recently reading some well-crafted marathon reports from other people, and paying for a website that really adds to value to anything anymore, I decided to post those reports again. This page includes write-ups of 11 completed marathons and one DNF, at Boston in  2003. It does not include the last marathon I raced, which was the 2005 Disney Marathon. I fared well there, especially in relation to the shape I was in (second in 2:28:31), but although I think I have a write-up of that one somewhere, it is such a shitty event, held one of the worst and most worthless cities in American and maybe the world, that I think I will leave that one out.

In other news, I have a few pieces lined up for MotivRunning. The first one is about the eight to ten most common mistakes people make in training for and racing marathons. It should be good because I'm consulting three of the best, most eager minds I can think of. What with the holidays and associated bullshit fully in play, I'm not sure when I'll finish it. I'm actually looking forward to a few weeks of very little writing about, and editing accounts about, non-fictional themes and events.

I am probably running about 35 to 40 miles a week. My knee has been fine for almost four months now; I miss very few days outright, but also have a lot of days that are nothing more than jaunts around the neighborhood just to keep ennui and neurochemical disarray at bay. I am also a regular at the Runners Roost Boulder Wednesday night fun-run.

Overall, even though the one race effort I put in this year was shamefully slow and should have led not only to my immediate removal from running but my literal execution, it has been a remarkable year. I lost my streak of 200+ days in mid-July when I fucked up my right meniscus, and right before that a flare-up of my left ankle knocked me out of a track race. But in some respects, missing five weeks and coming back at least as healthy (if not fitter) than before was more instructive and rewarding than having cruised through 2017 uninterrupted by injury, because this has been the first calendar year in a long time that I haven't responded to personal setbacks in any number of overtly maladaptive ways (e.g., boozing, taking a long and pointless trip across the country, or otherwise creating a lot of stress for people who don't deserve it). I found an unexpected niche in the writing and editing world that, while laden with irritating aspects, almost always teaches me something about the world that I didn't knew previously.

I also have some coaching news to report and will defer this to a separate post. It seems that in spite of being systematically vilified by an increasingly hapless and moronic -- but somewhat more recondite these days, this shit from late November notwithstanding -- basket case, my relationships in the world of advising runner-people only grow more interesting and rewarding over time, and I virtually never initiate these. Apparently, I can lapse into fits of utter bitterness and personal cynicism about running as a hobby and a sport as long as I never actually let on that I occasionally feel this way.