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, November 19, 2018

A lesson from the Massachusetts All-State Cross-Country Championships

When it comes to high-school cross-country, Massachusetts is funny, in much the same way anyone who non-ironically uses phrases like "heavy petting" in 2018 is funny. For one thing, despite being roughly the size of the parking lot at Disney World, schools are divided into three cross-country divisions on the basis of geography (Western, Central and Eastern). The Western and Central divisions are further split into Division 1 and Division 2 on the basis of school enrollment, while Eastern Mass, which is essentially Greater Boston and includes about 70 percent of the state's population, is separated into six size-based divisions. Each regional division has its own state meet on the second weekend of November, followed by a statewide championship meet the following weekend. For purposes of the All-State Championships only, the Eastern Mass D-1, D-2 and D-3 schools are considered D-1, while the D-4 through D-6 schools are considered D-2. Western and Central Mass schools, meanwhile, retain their native categories. This means that there are two boys' races and two-girls' races at this event, which this year was held yesterday.

For another thing, as you may have noticed, it's past the middle of November, and Massachusetts is not a warm-weather state. I believe that only New Jersey and California were the only other states to  hold final championship meets this weekend. California still isn't done -- its statewide champs are next weekend in Fresno, assuming the fires out there even permit it -- but Cali also has 38 million people. New Jersey and Massachusetts are relatively populous states, but they are also tiny and it would not be imposing a great burden on both of them to shorten their seasons by a week or even two. After all, both the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championships and the Nike Northeast Regional Championships are next weekend, and both Massachusetts and New Jersey are in the northeast in both schemes.

Lastly, if Massachusetts tinkered with its schedule to a significant but not apocalyptic extent, it could participate in the New England Championships, always held in the second Saturday in November. Massachusetts hasn't gone to the New Englands since the 1970s, and I think it would be a great boost to all concerned if the meet became a true New England championship again instead of a nominal one that proceeds in the absence of almost half of New England's population. I suspect that this is likely to happen only when people who have been involved with the sport for a very long time finally begin to literally die off and are replaced by folks whose ideas are more in alignment with what the kids and coaches would actually prefer.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

A tale of two tempos

As much as I hate facile puns based on literary works, I'm going with this one. Charles Dickens, who would have detested the publishers of the popular magazines of the 21st century along with their output, might have appreciated it anyway

I was looking for my own Running Times article on tempo runs from December 1999 (when, believe it or not, chatter about these in print and on the still-primitive Web was fairly scarce) and found it on the Runner's World site, as I expected. (Rodale, the publisher of Runner's World, bought Running Times, for which I was a senior writer for about a dozen years, in 2007. Rodale absorbed Running Times (rebranding it Runner's World Advanced), digested it with only minor bouts of dyspepsia, and finally shit out what was left of it in 2015.)

As I began reading, I became aware that something was different. Then I noticed the byline: "Kevin Beck and the Editors of Runner's World." It's dated August 22, 2018. Well, I wasn't consulted, in spite of still being a senior writer or at least the specter of same.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Adventures in courtroom lying, part 2: Kim Duclos falsely accuses a runner of cheating (audio)

Kim has kept up her nonsense since the last one of these, so heyo.

This one's so bad it's briefly tempting to feel bad for her, but the stammering, stressed-out speech patterns and emotional disarray are part of her act, the only act she knows; and, more than anything else, her targeting people who have done nothing to her or anyone and barely know who she is deserves a call-out. Maybe she'll even apologize to her victims someday; if she starts now and lives a normal human lifespan, she might have time to almost finish.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Adventures in courtroom lying. part 1: Kim Duclos dissembles about our "relationship" (audio)

Alternative title: Don't be nice to screwed-up people you know don't deserve nice treatment in the hope you'll be the one who fixes them; just avoid them. Otherwise, you'll probably wind up being meaner than you ever wanted to be to anyone even if it's fully justified.

Anyway.

(Nov. 9, 6:55 p.m. update: Someone who wishes to remain anonymous, but goes by the moniker "DJ Donnybrook," submitted a remix of some of the audio from this and other publicly available sources. He titled it "Came Too Close." I guess this is sort of funny, somewhat, in some ways. You can listen to it here.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

I'm a professional piano player, and I don't keep track of notes or sound

I just bang away at the keys.

That's essentially the advice handed out in this Reddit thread from July 2012 that a blog reader with a morbid fascination with morbid things recently pointed out to me in a morbid message after finding it in a morbid Bing search.

The thread was started by someone with the username "kimdu" claiming to be a professional runner with PRs of 16:32 for 5K and 2:38 for the marathon. She also identified herself as a coach -- evidently a paid one, given that she "also" [gives] "free info for kicks." Expressing a deep concern for the level of gimmickry and bullshit online, "kimdu" (and damn if that doesn't ring a bell) promises non-nonsense straight talk about how to improve.

Like this.


"kimdu" shows up here as [deleted] because she nixed the account after only a few hours or so (more on that below).

Friday, November 2, 2018

My lack of work here is done

Whenever I travel to my hometown in New Hampshire for a couple of weeks, which I've done once or twice a year since 2014, I arrive with a number of goals, most but not all of them running-related. Although these are never wildly ambitious, I never attain all of them, but usually I do a reasonable job of trying.

This year's just-concluded fall visit, which I cut from 23 days to 12 less than a week after getting there, suggested a couple of things. One is that the next time I leave for the Granite State, it should be with everything I need packed into a MINI Cooper (which would not be impossible) and permanently. That's not to say that I intend to leave Boulder; it's an affirmation that I need to think a little harder about the role of both travel and goals in my life.

For one thing, I don't like being away from the roommate I took in four months ago, Rosie (I knew I'd miss her even though she was in six excellent hands, but it was still upsetting). It will be hard to enjoy taking trips any longer than a few days now unless I can bring her, and I'm loath to have her flown anywhere. More urgently, I can no longer tolerate the way I piss away these trips, more so every time, and the one I just finished had become almost a joke by the time I came back on Wednesday. I'm glad I went because I got to hang out with Troy and Teressa, two of my best friends anywhere, but I failed everything on my personal agenda with flying colors. No, worse that that; I didn't even give myself a chance to fail.