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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Occult excellence

This morning, I watched a short Instagram video featuring a distance runner who recently won a major international championship. This was at least the hundredth such Internet clip I've seen in the past couple of years, and adds to the canon of similar television clips and -- reaching further back into the technological Pleistocene -- VHS videos I've watched that feature accomplished runners doing impressive things.

For perhaps the first time, I was struck by the full reality of why running as it exists today stands no chance of being a major spectator draw in in the United States in particular and worldwide more generally: With distance running, it's simply not possible to immediately recognize breathtaking excellence or be impressed by what you're seeing, at least not to the extent this occurs in other sports.

Monday, April 16, 2018

When it rains, it pours...unexpectedness: Boston 2018

For the fourth straight year, I was in at the 23-mile mark of the Boston Marathon waiting for a couple of athletes I work with to trundle by and, of course, to take in the fullness of the race up close.

This event had enjoyed the makings of a truly historic Boston for months. The American field included almost all of the leading lights of the very recent and somewhat recent past: Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein, 41-year-old Abdi Abdirahman, and a contingent of Kenyan-born U.S. entrants from Colorado on the men's side, and Shalane Flanagan, Molly Huddle, Jordan Hasay, and Desi Linden on the women's. Ritz withdrew about a week ago and Hasay pulled out yesterday citing a possible foot issue, but this still left a great domestic field ready to roll.

The weather went to hell during the weekend and it was assured that it not only would it be very cold and rainy at the start, but also that a 20- to 25-mile-an-hour wind would be blowing almost directly in the runner's faces the entire way out of the east-northeast. This meant that times would obviously be slow, but also that attrition -- always a big factor in any world-class marathon but especially at Boston -- would play a major role. Usually, the East Africans are hit even harder than others when it's as raw as it was guaranteed to be today.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

This week in Steve McConkey: Crank-calling the FBI, and getting some real attention

First, Steve McConkey will be happy to know that his "worldwide press releases" are being picked up and mentioned by at least one high-traffic blogger outside the Evangelical clown-bubble. Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist, who made a note of Mr. McConkey's antics in 2015, has addressed Steve's grousing about transgender runners being allowed to run the Boston Marathon. The only thing Hemant gets somewhat wrong is calling Steve the leader of anything. Steve is the president of 4 WINDS in the same way I am the chief executive of this blog, except that I am 1) not illiterate, 2) not asking anyone for money, and 3) not a lunatic, although I certainly seem to be involved with crazies to a suspicious extent.

Second, Steve is none too pleased about my blog posts mentioning him, though of course he's too much of a coward to link to them for the benefit of the jabbering imbeciles who follow him:

Monday, April 9, 2018

This week in Steve McConkey: "The end is imminent, so fund my eventual trips to Iowa"

The raging anti-gay Evangelical garbage-stream called Steve McConkey continually erupts with dire, self-contradictory posts that would make no sense at all but for one unlikely but undeniable fact: The people in his target audience are even dumber and more deluded than he is, and Steve wants not only their approval but their money. That PayPal donation button is by far the most important thing on his website, because without a "ministry" or his family to support him, Steve McConkey would have to actually have to support himself through something resembling honest labor.

First, let me emphasize my immovable and eminently justifiable position that any self-described Christian who supports Donald Trump has, incontrovertibly and by definition, given away the game and can be derided as a joke and charlatan with restraint limited only by the mercy of the critic (and these days I possess little). This is not because I can't stand Trump myself, although that's true and has been ever since his vaginiform grimace first washed up on television in the 1980s. It's because I understand that supporting Trump as a Christian is a logically untenable position, case closed, full stop, et cetera. It's akin to agitating for women's rights while simultaneously arguing that rape should be reclassified from a felony to a low-level misdemeanor, or going on television and gravely telling America's young athletes to stay off steroids while wearing a T-shirt that says BODY BY DECA-DURABOLIN. It would be precisely that bad were it not in fact far worse.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

In the bud

This weekend, I did a couple of runs on land-patches close to my childhood home, tracts that were mostly unsullied by the presence of hominid life forms until fairly recently. By "fairly recently," I mean "until about 15 to 20 years ago." That may not qualify as "recent" by most standards, given that only about 1.14% of dogs alive at this moment were alive on April 8, 2003. But I haven't been a permanent resident of Concord since 2002, meaning that I've missed a lot of goings-on here. Furthermore, my useful life ended somewhere between roughly 1996 and 2001, and as a result, my mind is often stuck a couple of decades in the past, when I sometimes envisioned a future that didn't include being a seething, cynical misanthrope with a strangely persistent pro-social streak.

Yesterday, close to a snowmobile trail that threads its way along a power-line corridor that passes within a hundred yards of my old house in northernmost Concord, I saw a sign that did exactly what it was supposed to do: It succeeded in getting me to investigate an issue of public interest.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A solid example of why this blog should be repealed and run through a shredder

In a recent four-day span, I drove about two-thirds of the way across the country, leaving Colorado last Friday morning and arriving in Concord, N.H. on Tuesday afternoon. In theory, my two primary purposes here are visiting my family and friends and being at the Boston Marathon in the services of a couple of athletes who inexplicably trust me to advise them.  Just as appealing, though, was the idea of spending a lot of time by myself, free of the self-imposed lunacy of social-media engagement and other Internet bullshit, which is the main reason I drove instead of flying.

The most interesting, or at least distinctive, thing in the Jayhawk State.

On Friday afternoon, I stopped in a nowhere town in Kansas off I-70 and ran 3.3 miles. It was fairly unpleasant, in part because of the wind but mostly because almost every time I run these days, even for just a few steps, I am fighting the biological tide. The fact that my legs, knees, hips, and arms work with sufficient synchronicity to permit me to move in a mostly straight line at about 10 miles per hour for short spells doesn't imply that it's wise, fun, or remotely useful to do this. When I was younger, I could make a weak case for the amount of time I spent trying to be proficient at distance running to the exclusion of pursuing more productive and beneficial things. Today, however, the only defensible justification that I can offer for running every day is that I have irrevocably failed at everything that was once important to me, and I'd like to navigate the rest of my life free of both harmful mood-altering drugs and the insistent desire to destroy myself. Running doesn't induce physical pain (well, my knee sometimes sings) so much as remind me of my overwhelming purposelessness and the futility of continuing to do very basic and necessary things such as consume food, drink fluids, and draw breath. I mean really, why even take steps to maintain this unsightly bag of decaying cells? Yet I insist on bumblefucking my way along toward a long-overdue but natural demise, and physical activity, even as it ratchets up my demand for food and water and oxygen and drives home the fact of how much less capable I am at various things than I once was, is the most reliable means at my disposal to keep the noises driving me toward ruthlessly maladaptive behaviors to a comparative minimum.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Runners born before 1970 who should even bother: a comprehensive list

The people named in this post, and only those people, have defensible reasons to take running seriously. While they are strongly advised to avoid indiscriminately volunteering their status as "competitive runners" owing to the high risk of rightful ridicule, they may unreservedly self-identify as such in the right settings if prompted, although the label "athlete" should be altogether omitted from such conversations.

"Taking running seriously" in this context means aiming for given times, placings, accolades, or awards in the manner of genuine distance runners (e.g., Olympians, World Championship team members, paid professionals, or members of high-school or collegiate teams) and engaging in goal-oriented machinations toward those ends (e.g., track workouts, hill repetitions, and tempo runs). It notably excludes those who participate in road races --- especially "getaway" marathons -- simply to finish them as well as those who take part in organized running events mainly for the social aspects; such activities can indisputably add utility to people's lives by giving them reasons to keep "fit" and "healthy" without exacting undue physical, psychological, or emotional costs.

Note that while it is possible for formerly competitive runners to morph gracefully into participant-runners, there are no known or even theorized instances of people making the transition in the other direction.

The data used in compiling this list was collected via an informal but thorough review of race results, in-person interviews, blog analyses, and on-site observations over a period of approximately many years.

Monday, April 2, 2018

This week in Steve McConkey: lies, futility and inanity

Steve McConkey, who claims to have operated a ministry for Christian track athletes (read: "I'll try to help you not be gay anymore") since 1981 but doesn't have a single endorsement on his websitecontinues to complain about mindfulness meditation. He is concerned that this secular practice, the efficacy of which has a modicum of empirical support, is is replacing Christian prayer in the professional and sports world. He also cautions against engaging in yoga, which is evil for reasons Steve chooses to not disclose. He proposes in yet another "worldwide press release" (i.e., an Internet posting) that non-Christian prayers carry "the potential of opening up the user to the darkness."



This development, from the standpoint of a babbling idiot, is indeed a gross injustice. As anyone with only slightly less insight than a gnat is aware, just as no one can be both a weightlifter and a runner, it's absolutely impossible to be a Christian and engage in any sort of contemplative reflection besides prayer ("prayer" in this context meaning "beseeching the God of the Holy Bible to enact certain Old Testament precepts while complete ignoring the foundational tenets of Jesus' message").

Monday, March 26, 2018

Things informed runners would admit to if injected with a strong barbiturate

A lot of people do good things for good reasons, such as working multiple jobs to support their families. People also do not-so-good things for good or at least defensible reasons, such as stealing food to stay alive or exacting various forms of revenge on physically abusive spouses.

Moving down the urgency scale, people often maintain vaguely defensible or sketchy practices when it comes to their serious hobbies -- not because they really believe that these practices are beneficial (or at least harmless) but because they are enslaved by them. As cognitive-dissonance theory predicts, such people search for rationales to logically justify habits their psychological make-up compels them to do anyway. A person who embarks on a spending spree in the midst of a manic episode might claim that the reason he just put $2,000 worth of CDs on a credit card is that he really likes Justin Bieber, and he might even convince himself that this is true.

Runners, being more compulsive than most, are a hotbed of such rationalizations. When we  knowingly do things likely to impede our competitive development, handy rationalizations are always within easy reach: I don't need to taper for this race, it's just a 5K. I don't need to do over 40 miles a week for a half-marathon if I get in plenty of long tempos. I can be kinda sorta bulimic and run well if I manage it right. Anything slower than  x minutes a mile is just junk, so why even bother?

Below is a list of rarely expressed truths or de facto truths in the running world. Most people who have been around the sport for a while would not disagree with any of these statements, but in most cases would not want to be the person volunteering them, as a few are more controversial than others. (Understand that this is not a list of common running myths, which are different in that myths, in this context, are things people mistakenly believe to be true.)

Feeble disclosures

1. I topped 55 miles this week. That's a first for this calendar year and my highest total since last July, before I injured my right knee. I'm a little hesitant to push much higher than this, but I think that if I'm careful about where I run and attentive to replacing my shoes when they are excessively beat up, I can stay in the range of 60 to 70. I have as much time as I need and sufficient motivation, even if things have changed on the go-for-it front since the days I had a solid shot at qualifying for the Olympic Trials.

Obviously I can't know for sure my body will hold up, but I've been receiving a veritable flood of thoughts and prayers from various interstellar sources (a good chunk of which, it must be noted, is the metaphysical equivalent of hate mail) so I'm going for it.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

This week in Steve McConkey: Meditation is "dangerous" and a "false religion"

My new friend Steve McConkey has been busy this week at his job, which is getting angry at the various ways in which the United States is not a Christian theocracy.

As is Steve's tireless habit -- I discovered that he even has his own tag on "Right Wing Watch" -- he's using distortions of reality to maximize his level of personal unrest. For example, yesterday, he titled one of his complaints "Trump, GOP Congress Give Planned Parenthood $500 Million In Taxpayer Funds," as if this is something new (it's not). But since this nominally a running blog, and Steve McConkey has historically focused his energetic stupidity on track and field athletes, I'll focus on his major track-related gripe of the week: Nike's new "Headspace" app. (In a version of this complaint he posted two days ago, he mentioned 2016 U.S. Olympian Colleen Quigley's endorsement of the technique, but later scrapped it. He does quite a bit of this sort of rant-tweaking and screed-juggling.)

The potential utility of mindfulness meditation is sports is well established, though in need of further study. (I'll admit that the name "Headspace" reminds of this.) But I won't spend time here analyzing this because it's not central to the point, which is that Steve McConkey is lying about what this technique is, how people are using it, and the possible effects of trying it.

He starts with the usual breathless hyperbole:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Running, social media and the Dunning-Kruger effect

One of the few things I will take credit for as a runner is never believing that I was any better than I was despite a fair number of other people attempting to enable such a fantasy. Avoiding self-delusion really shouldn't be a source of pride for anyone, but considering the shape the world has taken since the advent of the Internet and the ascendancy of social media in particular, it's actually worth remarking on.

I created a personal Web site in 1998, using a MediaOne (later bought by AT & T and then Comcast) account. In the spring of 2001, I bought the domain kemibe.com, with the idea coming from what was already on my license plate (kevinbeck.com was already taken by an artist in North Carolina -- he does good work) and moved my stuff there. In the three years between those events, I became a Lab owner, a contributing editor and then a senior writer for Running Times, and ran what would turn out to be my fastest lifetime marathon. Most of what I posted to my site -- which also included a message board starting in, I believe, 2000 thanks to the good people at Network 54 -- was, predictably, about running, writing, and my dog. (and no, Jim, you don't need to plumb the port-a-johns of the Wayback Machine and produce evidence of the sad pages I'm mentioning. I know it's out there.)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A new equilibrium (wonkish) and various observations (petty)

In basic economics, a supply-and-demand graph shows quantity supplied and demanded on the x-axis and price on the y-axis. The supply curve (normally a line) is upward-sloping, because the higher a price a firm can command for its goods, the more of that good it will produce. Similarly, the lower a good's price, the higher the demand for that good, so the demand curve is downward-sloping. The point at which these curves intersect represents the equilibrium price of that good.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Living on handouts to combat gay athletes is tough work, but someone's gotta do it

[Ed.  note: this post is being updated regularly to reflect new discoveries revealing just how messed up Steve McConkey is.]

I admit that I questioned whether this exposition belongs on a running blog, or anywhere. It will, after all, do no more than briefly focus attention on a person with dubious aims and substandard cognitive abilities for the benefit of a handful snickering people, and will likely result in zero net effects on the human circus as a whole. But since that sums up virtually everything I post, including things I write about myself, why quit now?

The other night, one of my many provocateur-friends called attention to a public Facebook post on the page of one Steve McConkey, who has vague connections to the track world (and whose name I immediately read as "McMonkey" thanks to this glorious parable about racism and hucksterism, a true gem in the invaluable Dr. Seuss canon).














By the time I saw this, it had elicited a predictable groundswell of full-throated dunce-yawps couched as pitying sentiments for Hawking, whom the ersatz-faithful were positively certain was now being tormented for all eternity in Hell by their boundlessly compassionate ecclesiastical fetish-figure. This kind of Hawking-bashing fun sprung up all over the Web; I'm betting that at the news of Hawking's overdue demise, a few old-coot fundies somewhere in the Incest Belt experienced the faint stirrings of an erection for the first time since Sarah Palin was on a national ticket.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Why exercise is underutilized in fighting depression (warning: it's a bummer)

Scott Douglas is a longtime denizen of the running-writing world. He wrote a chapter for Run Strong -- the contract for which I wouldn't have landed without his help in the first place -- and if it weren't for his active assistance and passive encouragement over the years, I would have contributed far less than I now have to the pantheon of published blather about running and a few other things (the fact that most of this material is of negligible utility isn't the point).

More than anything else, Scott is intensely thoughtful and committed to a reality-based view of the world, regardless of the consequences such an ethos might engender. (Case in point: he's a seminary graduate who has identified an atheist.) This, not the fact that I have solid personal reasons to like him, is the primary reason I appreciate his work.

Today he has a piece in Slate attempting to answer a question I've asked a great many psychiatrists and psychologists going back to my own days as a medical student in the 1990s: Why don't mental-health clinicians more strongly encourage exercise?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Blaming clean athletes for the doping of others?

If nothing else, Toni Reavis' idea is a new one: Tracksters need to essentially divorce themselves of their own governing body if they expect to be part of a clean sport.

Reavis attempts to draw an analogy between a group of soldiers undergoing basic training in a particular time and space and the entire worldwide community of top-level track and field athletes. If one soiled private fails to take a shower, the story goes, then his mates will physically force him to do so to maintain the integrity and smooth functioning of the unit. And so it should be, Reavis says, with athletes who dope: Their peers should somehow force them to clean themselves up for the benefit of the sport as a whole.

I've seen, and made, some sketchy analogies in the past, but this one is dismal for two extremely obvious reasons.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The diamonds establish the ugliness of the rough

Lately, in my noble quest to find better versions of Eighties songs to imitate on my keyboard, I've been getting distracted by wily YouTube algorithms and diving far down the rabbit-hole of Diamond League, Olympic, and World Champs distance races going back 20 or more years. I've watched, not for the first time, most of the world record races in the men's and women's 800 meters on up to the 10,000 meters.

One predictable effect of this is reinforcing, in purely numerical terms, how slow almost all of us are in comparison to the best of the best. I can see, for example, that I would have just missed getting lapped twice by Kenenisa Bekele, Daniel Komen and Haile Gebrselassie if you could superimpose their fastest track 5Ks onto my own. I can see just how quickly I'd fall off the leaders in a 2:03 marathon even at my lifetime acme, when I, like many of you, was fast enough to win a flurry of podunk 5Ks and use such metrics as an excuse to start a worthless blog.

But that's just math, and such differences are dry and quantifiable and therefore forgettable. Watching these videos has a far more insidious effect on the subconscious in that exposure to a steady stream of truly gifted runners devalues the running of mortals, even mortals most people would think of as fast.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Febrero

According to Strava, I ran about 180 miles in February. (The total shows less than that, but I don't record all of my runs because it's a bad idea to bring an Android out in a snowstorm.) I have no plans to boost this by a statistically significant amount, because this seems to represent a level of exercise that satisfies me psychologically without being enough to put me at risk for relapsing into "training." For all but maybe two dozen people over the age of 40 in the entire U.S., competing in races when you have no shot at approaching your fastest times is an incredibly stupid idea, and I am not close to being one of those 24-ish people. Neither is anyone reading this, but that won't stop a single one of you from getting out there and riding the struggle-bus anyway, which means your only fruitful option -- whether you realize it or not -- is to become permanently injured and find other ways to sweat.

As I just realized today for the first time in at least a week, I still haven't missed a day of running in  2018. This, in some respects, makes it all the more remarkable how much less I ran in  Feb. 2018 than I did in the same month sixteen years ago, my highest-volume week ever at 611.

I mean, I shouldn't even be admitting to this upon questioning, much less volunteering the info, but here is the data:

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

10 running article titles we'd enjoy seeing (and never will)

In the spirit of Carl Hiaasen's "Released secret transcript from the last Mar-a-Lago party"-style columns...

  • Your Absurd Running Goals: Merely Unrealistic or Signs of Psychosis?
  • The Top 15 Marathons Where You Can Evade Intermediate Chip Mats
  • The 12 Most Obviously Doped-Up "Clean" Distance Runners of Yesteryear
  • 238 Instagram Runners Whose Countless Ass Photos Are Identical
  • Why USATF Should Worry About The RICO Act
  • The 9 Local 5Ks in America That Are Accurate to Within a Football Field
  • Why Potassium's Not to Blame For Your Marathon Cramps, You Undertrained Fool
  • Should Running With a Husky in Florida Be a Capital Crime?
  • How to Determine Who Farted During the Weekly Fun-Run
  • 7 Ways to Convince Yourself That Your Running Blog Matters

I considered including relevant links, but that would be both mean and unnecessary, and worse, would require work on my part.




Sunday, February 18, 2018

The best of heckling

Anyone who's been a regular runner for even a few years, let alone several decades, is inclined to ponder the most unusual episode of heckling he or she has ever endured -- especially former itinerants like me who have tarried in some version of every conceivable U.S. subculture. I draw the line here short of actual physical confrontations, which merit their own category, and focus instead on exchanges that end, if not entirely benignly, with no one beaten up or jailed or finding a brand-new, brick-shaped hole in the rear windshield of his pickup truck.

While I could name countless instances of aggression and stupidity that pissed me off, most of these were prosaic, usually involving nothing more than sullen primates operating vehicles under the lash of generations of pernicious inbreeding having their say en route to a gun show. Instead, I'll focus on two that stand out as 1) extremely strange, and 2) extremely funny (but also strange).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

1988 NHIAA Indoor State Championship (video)

My friend and high-school classmate Troy Patoine and his wife Teressa (who live in Concord and whose home I invade every April as a waypoint en route to the Boston Marathon) have conspired to convert some 30-year-old videos of our cross-country and track meets from VHS to digital format.

This is the New Hampshire High School Indoor Track and Field Championship meet from Jan. 30, 1988, held at Leverone Field House, Dartmouth College's facility, in Hanover. The first ten minutes are actually from the last league meet of the season on January 16. On the 24th, with nothing on the scholastic schedule, I ran a hilly 5-mile road race in Penacook (a few miles from my house) on a very cold and icy day. I had my coach's blessing and he knew his stuff, but it was probably a bad idea because I went out too hard and ended up with a 27:45 or so. That left me a little draggy at States, I think, but then again I was barely 18 and recovered from almost anything in about 10 minutes, including most sexual activity. Just seeing if you're awake.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Instagram and the rabble effect

Thousands of women (and a far smaller, but nonzero, number of men) use Instagram as a platform for flashing their mostly-naked bodies and nothing more. Some of them are in this only for the validation, while others do it as part of short- or long-range campaigns to earn money. A lot of these women -- or at least accounts featuring photos of women, which are not always the same thing -- don't feign pretense at being anything other than "click on the link to see me naked and more" scams; I don't have a lot of Instagram followers myself and don't seek to, but I'm still routinely followed by "people" that turn out to be nothing more than asses in thongs coupled to invitations to see the whole package. Hey, to paraphrase the great 19th-century economist Adam Smith, the invisible gonads of the free market represent a serious force.

Running is fundamentally about athletic performance for almost everyone I know who does it, but it's primarily about vanity for, I would guess, a majority or plurality of runners overall. This, predictably, has led to scads of vanity Instagram accounts that purport to double as training- and performance-based platforms, which in turn has produced an influx of idiocy and bullshit that unfortunately reaches a lot of eyes when the clueless or nefarious person behind the account happens to have a body that people enjoy ogling. (Many distance runners do have such bodies, and a lot of these attractive runners are in fact athletically accomplished or wise or both. This post is strictly about running's posers and grifters.)

The upshot, in case my rambling is unclear, is that you have uninformed people giving out bad running advice on the basis of pure aesthetic appeal, which is not nearly as unsettling as the fact that this strategy is effective.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Eclectica

  • I've decided to train exclusively for inframarathons. In fact, if my knee holds up for two weeks of 8- to 10-mile days, I am going to hire a coach. (I already know which one.)
  • Moving into ultras as a "masters" runner because you feel that you can no longer be effective at shorter distances is like retiring from boxing and picking fights with random people in bars. Yeah, at first you may dominate the local scene, and you may even fare well in respected venues. But before long, you'll wind up with your ass kicked anyway, because, while you may think you're taking on inferior competitors, you're still old. And you can't escape the physical punishment of fighting no matter who your choose as adversaries, so even if you keep winning, you'll still accelerate your own physical degradation.

    The wiser thing to do is remain on the sidelines and make crude analogies about your peers who are still out there battling.
  • Once self-driving cars become commonplace, how long will it take for them to start yelling, "Hey, faggot!" at runners?
  • As dumb as literal mouth-breathers look, runners who try to breathe exclusively through their nostrils, who are far less numerous but not altogether rare, look even more ridiculous.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Enero

I ran every day in January. Biggest day was about 12. Average, 4 to 6. I don't think I had any doubles. There is nothing worth noting about a single one of my quarter of a million or so running steps except that my trend of running a little faster at the same effort level, paribus ceteris, remains intact.

I'm in better shape than I was at this time last year, no question. I'm probably in better shape than I was at any time last year, in fact. Also, in spite of regularly pondering whether humanity might be best served by a global thermonuclear war, and despite my well-established distaste for the idea of being around animals that can talk*, I make a point of running with other people at least once and usually two or more times a week.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Unprecedented excellence

Most of us have known or heard of accomplished high-school distance runners who initially competed only in track because they played soccer in the fall. (Less common is a standout cross-country runner who participates a sport other than track in the spring, a la Russell Brown, almost undoubtedly the only kid in history to run a 1:54 800 meters -- good enough for a national Junior Olympics title -- following his sophomore-year lacrosse season.)

When these kids become sufficiently good at track, they are often inclined to give up soccer in favor of three-season running. When I was in high-school in the late 1980s, a kid from White Mountains Regional High School named Jonathan Ingram, having run 50.8, 1:57, and 4:26 by the end of his junior year, eschewed futbol for cross-country as a senior and wound up winning the New Hampshire Meet of Champions. Sometimes, this transition doesn't happen until after high school, even in instances of extreme talent. For example, Thomas Ratcliffe, who graduated from Concord-Carlisle High School in Massachusetts with a 4:01.5 mile (a Massachusetts and New England record) and an 8:57.47 indoor two-mile to his credit and is now a redshirt freshman at Stanford University, never ran a cross-country race as a prep, although he did run cross in middle school.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hashtag 80s hashtag fashion

New England Interscholastic High-School Championship 3200 meters, Boston College, 1988. 96 degrees on the track if it was an inch.


Our team supposedly wound up with this style of shorts at the beginning of the season thanks to a mistaken order by the Concord High School athletic department; these weren't actually "track bottoms" as they were clearly way too long for that sport. In fact, runners on other teams ribbed us for wearing "racing boxers," etc. By contemporary standards, these "Bermuda running shorts" would be considered downright immodest in some locales. Hashtag 80s hashtag fashion.

As for the race, I placed 12th, 4th in the unseeded heat, in 9:43. I felt great throughout the race despite the heat, but got no splits along the way because the track at B.C. was oversized by some bizarre amount, costing me whatever number of seconds I feel like pulling out of my ass.

Friday, January 19, 2018

With apologies to the Farrelly brothers: My program stops at EIGHT-mile long runs!

A friend recently had an interesting ad crop up on his Facebook feed. People like this fellow who have known me for a while, since before the glut of Internet weirdness and pseudo-scams and half-intelligible noise inevitably permeated the running world, understand that throwing certain links my way is analogous to danging a five-pound rock of crystal meth in the face of a broke tweaker on a tear and politely asking, "Any thoughts on this?"

I suggest that you take a spin through the pages at the other end of the Facebook link before reading on, so that you're not biased by what follows here, inasmuch as that could possibly matter.

This is what everyday insanity looks like

And most of it isn't even my own.

I'm going to try to present the continuation of this nonsense in a somewhat more succinct form than I did last time. This is partly because all words devoted to Kim Duclos' hijinks are by some measure a waste of time, but also because I don't think I need to belabor the obvious by overthrowing my analysis into the mix; there are no alternative interpretations of Kim's idiocy other than "it's idiocy."

About a week after the appearance of the "Thoughts on removing posts from homeless individuals asking for help?"  thread on the Boulder subreddit -- a topic I learned of days after the fact and stayed out of -- someone submitted a link to an article in 5280 Magazine about dangerous people camping in the foothills west of town. It didn't take long for the human-bullfrog hybrid behind "legal_throwaway34," having a tropism for anything that lets her blather about her caricature of me as well as indirectly vent her own long-ago-disclosed fears about becoming homeless, to find her way to this thread. She posted this:

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.