Former 2:24 marathoner, now pushing 50 and reduced to a pitiable spastic shuffle • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on distance running since 1999; mostly a crank since approximately 2016 and possibly long before • Coach and adviser of less pessimistic perambulators • Dobie-mix owner Sentence-fragment impresario

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Ironically, I don't even have a bad pun for this one

I saw my doctor for the first time in close to a year last week. The last time I had my iron levels and associated parameters checked, I was floating around somewhere in "recovering anemic" territory per most measures, having reached a recent-years low of 11-12 in the boozy summer of 2016.

Living on vodka and bleak thoughts will lead to such things, but one trouble spot I can run into even though I abandoned that poison for good at roughly the same time the current U.S. President was elected is being seduced into the idea that exercise and the avoidance of obvious no-nos is enough by itself to create a healthy physical specimen. This may be true in the low-common-denominator sense, but I can do better than living mainly on water, starch and skim milk in various lazy forms.


That ferritin level could be better, but all in all it appears that my reasonably diligent iron supplementation is doing enough to mostly compensate for whatever bad nutritional habits I have retained, at least in terms of this one element.

When the doc checked my iron in 2018, I asked her to run a testosterone test as well, because I'd never had one and I'm getting old. My basic rationale in both cases was the same: I was half-hoping that some correctable physical problem could account for my less-than-gratifying running results. My T level was 27.7 (normal 14 to 29), so as it happens, not trying as hard as I should in both training and racing can, by itself, lead to subpar performances even when the physiological excuse bag has come up empty.

(Also of minor note, I had a fasting glucose of 62, which is a little low but not unusual for me, and probably reflects my excessive lifelong intake of Splenda and Equal.)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Kingmaker, talent scout or early bandwagon jumper?

None of the above, of course. I have achieved little in the way of personal success by any applicable measure, and have no noteworthy first-degree associations with ultra-high-achievers. But on a run earlier, I was considering the niches I have managed to stumble into over the years in the course of pursuing my pedestrian aims in the journalism world, if that's what writing about running even is or ever was.

If nothing else, in a number of instances, I was the first person to write an article in a "serious" publication about a then-unheralded athlete who later achieved greatness (or an already heralded athlete who far outstripped expectations). In the case of each athlete, today you can find a flurry of articles about all of these greats written by folks with far higher profiles than I'll ever enjoy. But I don't think you will find any that are older than mine that appeal in each instance to a national, or at least broader-than-local, audience.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Messaging and the purpose of blogs

I recently posted two videos, one showing the movement that led to the disqualification of a high-school distance runner from the Wisconsin State Championships 1,600 meters that I believe was unwarranted and the other displaying the athlete's mortified but understandable reaction to this iffy DQ. I was defending this kid, or at least saying she shouldn't be DQ'd and the fact that such things happen underscores why this sport is, in the grand scheme, hard to take seriously. A guy who sometimes links to me linked to the post, asking his readers to chime in. One of them admitted that he had no opinion about either the DQ or the sharing of the video, but was disturbed that I seemed, as usual, on the verge of "going postal."

I've seen such reactions from people before, and my response is not to become upset or scornful, but to look at the situation the way a writer should. In this case, I have wonder why most people manage to see humor for what it is even if many of them don't think it's funny, while others are moved to complain. (There is a nonzero chance that "Will" is someone I know, and is trolling me with this, but I would guess not.)

In a way, I see this aghast comment as an honest expression of "Will's" thoughts because he may have assumed I wouldn't see them (I have commented only once or twice on the blog that led him to me, and both times a while ago). But I will never stop laughing at people who serially seek out commentary from total strangers they claim is upsetting. If someone heaves something in your face and you don't like it, don't look at it again. If someone links to a site and you check it out and find it distasteful, don't go back. More generally, If you find yourself writing sentences that say, in so many words, "I keep inviting this one experience and that experience throws me off," then stop expecting yourself to learn to enjoy or at least tolerate whatever it is that chaps your ass.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Voices carry, a streak ends, and post-vanity recreation, in reverse order

Even the most attentive person who regularly uses a common walking/hobo-hiking/running/cycling path occasionally operates in ignorance of a threat to personal safety, or helps create one himself. This is a consequence of the unavoidable: No moving human manages to process 100 percent of the pertinent stimuli in a given environment. Little kids can dart onto the path between hedges in some places, and no one who exercises in public and covers ground at even an ambling pace can avoid unpredictable negative encounters with upright fauna, small and grown alike. Since we're all by definition ignorant at times, each of us ought to have a modicum of empathy for the entirely fucking ignorant, as we have at least dabbled in their life's toil, and even more empathy for the sort-of-benignly-ignorant species in between the generally alert and the completely oblivious.

An increasing percentage  the ignorant people I encounter, though, seem almost gleeful in their ignorance. Or at least indulgent. In fact, to borrow from a trite descriptor, no one is really "woefully ignorant" anymore, because no one seems especially woeful about knowingly transgressing the boundaries of others. A casual "my bad" flung over the shoulder is now a standard, acceptable apology after you've almost taken someone out riding your skateboard around a quarter at 50 miles an hour, the reek of weed and unwashed ass trailing a remarkable distance in your wake. That was partly gratuitous, but so is this whole post, blog, and universe.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Why you should never allow any child you care about near a track team

This scenario illustrates why every human being alive should be discouraged from participating in track and field.

The footage below is allegedly from the start of the 1600-meter run at the Wisconsin High School D-1 State Championships held the other day. The girl third from the right "false-starts" and was disqualified from the event outright, as the rules allow, if not always demand.


The aftermath of the disqualification is painful to watch, and I'm sure the other girls in her heat wished, in that moment, that she would desist from her goddamn tantrum and disappear forthwith. Still, I empathize with the angst of the disqualified girl, a senior with 5:08/11:01 credentials.