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, December 17, 2018

It's trash day


  • I keep hearing more stories of misplaced mile/kilometer markers in non-trivial road races. While I have chalked this up mainly to the basic incompetence and inattention of the avaricious slapdicks who have taken over much of running, there may be an element of positive feedback involved: As GPS watches have become ubiquitous, road-race directors have even less incentive to get splits right because runners will not only collect their own but contest the posted ones whether they are accurate or not. This phenomenon seems to be nonexistent in Europe, where, coincidentally, major segments of the population operate free from the influence of pernicious mental compromise.
  • More and more races appear to be partnering with Athlinks.com to post results, a trend it would be nice to see obliterated unless Athlinks revamps its entire presentation. I appreciate the site's concept and the reach, but goddamn, if they can find the money and the motivation to fix the interface, they need to do it yesterday. 
  • Consistent with the "it's running -- who the hell cares?" theme, though, a lot of other major running sites are just as ugly as Athlinks if not worse. The Foot Locker Cross Country sites are so ghastly that I won't even link to them; their ramshackle, non-styled construction may be both a cause and a consequence of the series being rapidly supplanted by the NXN circus. USATF.org is routinely plagued with misspellings and other errors, befitting an organization led by someone whose priorities have long been awry. CEO Max Siegel wouldn't have to give up much to personally finance the addition of a part-time copy editor to USATF, but not only is he apparently a grifter who would be right at home sitting on Donald Trump's lap when not having rough yet tantric sex with Nike, he's also smart enough to know no one in the U.S. really gives a rip about running and that he and his cronies might as well make bank while no one of consequence is looking.
  • I noticed that the runaway winner of the New England Prep School XC Champs, junior Victoria Patterson of Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, wasn't in the results of the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals two weeks later, yet somehow lined up at Foot Locker Nationals two weeks after that. The mystery of how she apparently reached the finals without qualifying in her regional was solved when I saw that Patterson finished 10th at the Foot Locker South Regionals to grab that final qualifying spot for Nationals. She is from South Carolina; I'd forgotten that some of these kids at New England preparatory schools come from a long way away to attend, and still represent their home states, not their schools, in non-scholastic competitions like NXN, Foot Locker, and the New Balance indoor and outdoor national championship gatherings.
  • 2018 University of New Hampshire grad Elle Purrier, who almost became the first Wildcat track athlete to win an individual NCAA track title and now runs for New Balance, ran 8:48.92 at the second B.U. Mini-Meet in a mixed race. The main reason this is noteworthy isn't that 8:48 is a very good indoor women's time; it's that Purrier ran it at one of these mini-meets. These meets were introduced in 1999, when late Boston University coach Bruce Lehane started them as a way to give runners suffering through New England winters a chance to get in some speed work comfortably and safely. They have four or five every winter. In the early days, the only events were the 3,000 meters and the mile, and $5 was enough to get runners access to as many different heats of each as they wanted. Demand for other events inevitably grew, and now it's not unusual to see national-class times recorded, at least on the women's side; since these are open meets, there are no prohibitions against women and men being in the same races, a situation that can obviously help elite women who might otherwise be half a lap or a lap in front of the field. Cory McGee ran under 9:00 here a couple of years ago, I think, and she's not the only woman besides Purrier to have done so. My own fastest 3,000, slightly faster than Purrier's time, was at one of these meets in December 2000. 
  • Rosie and I received one of these yesterday as a holiday gift. I don't plan to enter any canicross races, in part because I don't know how well Rosie would handle being around that many rampaging dogs but mainly because it's still considered racing. But we tried out the harness already and Rosie loves it. It has become clear to me that, whether I realized it at the time or not, when I decided to take home a dog in June, I was admitting that I would be giving up the "let's see how stupid we can look trying to move fast in a straight line" experiment soon and would require a tangible reason to continue exercising enough to keep my most misanthropic features somewhat in check.

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