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

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Instead of tweets, Vol. 4

  • My running streak has now reached nine months. This means, above all, that roughly a third of the human ova fertilized on that day have become human babies, the vast majority of them within the past two weeks. One-third or so were eliminated by acts of God (e.g., they failed to implant in the uterine wall, or an accidental miscarriage took place). A few were uninvited guests who were quickly evicted when their intrauterine encampments were detected by the owners of the property. About a third are waiting to be born. At least that's what the stats say. Globally, about 1 in every 35 won't survive to see their first birthday, which is a big improvement on the past, assuming you see lower infant mortality as an improvement. I do. I also see a greatly lower number of infants overall as a good thing, but there is no effective or humane way to enact this, so on goes the circus.
  • I'm experiencing signs that I won't make it to a full year. I have been doing just enough unstructured fast running (faster than, I'm betting, whatever 3K race pace would be if I were stupid enough to establish it) to leave my legs tender without conferring anything in the way of additional fitness. I do think continuing to take iron will lead to feeling better overall and a lower likelihood of viewing competitive running and everything under its umbrella as a malignant, dreary and disposable enterprise. I hope that any moderation of my ideas thanks to a presumably rosier outlook does not cripple my uncanny ability to find and exploit the grisliest aspects of any experiences I might have and translate these foul perceptions into imperatives to shitcan civilization outright.
  • I had the most entertaining deer encounter of my life yesterday. As a New Hampshire native, I am no stranger to these encounters, but they're rarely entertaining. They usually involve running one over with a car, just missing one with a car, or seeing parts of one nailed to the wall as the result of a the proud labors of a predator species, the North American common redneck (Rubricollis vulgaris).

    On this occasion, I was less than three minutes into a run and about to bang a right over Bear Creek when a flash of brown and white materialized seemingly out of nowhere -- I think it actually crossed the Foothills Parkway the pedestrian bridge -- and flashed by at about a million miles an hour within two feet of where Rosie and I had slowed to a near-stop in anticipation of the turn and because cyclists are often approaching from the west here. I don't think I have never seen a deer running that fast in my life. It was obviously a young buck, maybe playing. But I've noticed that even since they started the landscaping part of the bridge-to-tunnel project, I'm seeing more deer in my neighborhood and in the park itself. This is not surprising since a lot of them hang out in the chunk open space on the other side, where a new is soon to be laid.
  • Everyone looks older in a suit. If you're 10, you might pass for a short high-school freshman from a distance. If you're a recent college grad of the typical age, you look a youthful 30 or so. If you're me you look ready for assisted living, and if you're legitimately old, you look dead. Thus explaining why people are buried in suits; it's a natural look for the deceased for unclear psycho-sartorial reasons.
  • A lot of people my age (Gen X types) have grown to loathe people our parents' age (Baby Boomers) for losing their supposed hippie ideals and defaulting to greed in their dotage. This is funny to me because while I find the Boomer slide into naked self-interest typical of the aging human First World mind (to quote Abraham Simpson: "I'm old! Gimme gimme gimme!") and not at all remarkable, I myself have already come to detest a lot of liberals of a certain vintage, and I'm not yet old enough to offer the excuse of jabbering insecurity about whether I'll be able to afford, say, care to sustain my useless carcass for another three bed-shitting, end-of-life months. Old people are generally a pain in the ass, and now that my dad's officially really old, I can hate him all the more. But when Boomers were about my age, it was the early 1990s or so, and they weren't yet being accused of hypocrisy.

    If I ever proceed far enough into senescence so that my thoughts are persistently hijacked by suspicions that people are Coming For My Shit or that I Won't Have Enough, I'll wait for the next moment of complete clarity, nod my head with respect toward the underworld, and put a .38-caliber round through the roof of my mouth, taking out loose shingles and the little weather vane and all the other shit up there fractions of a second before sufficiently disrupting the goo above the roof to truncate all of my thoughts forever. I may seem like a dick now, but in reality I wish I had the resolve to be far more of an asshole than I really am. I actually give a decent amount of my income to charity thanks to a combination of guilt and practicality. Imagine me as a miser instead, hoarding vinegar packets like I think acetic acid is suddenly going to become a pricey commodity. Actually, you probably already do think I'm a cheap-ass. Fuck you too. I give of my material self just as I give of my spirit, and of my loins: Energetically and often, and solely with the aim of changing the weather in my head.

    Anyway, if I catch myself sliding into naked greed, I'll probably just check out, because that kind of mentality is invariably associated with continuous frustration and unrelenting fear, qualities I have in the past flirted with more than I or anyone needed to/
  • After beating the Red Sox the other night, Domingo German of the New York Yankees is tied for the American league lead in wins with 13. Amazingly, he's done this in only 97 innings of work. That means that German, who entered the year 2-7 in his career with a 5.22 ERA, has one win for every 7.46 innings pitched, a remarkable ratio. Consider that even most 20-game winners, who can be assumed to be hurling with unusual efficiency by any metric, usually require at least 200 innings to accomplish the feat. Last year's MLB wins leader, Blake Snell of the Rays, racked up 21 in only 180-2/3 innings for a ratio of 8.60.

    At this point, German (especially given how good the fucking Yankees are) is a threat to reach 20 wins without even throwing 162 innings, the number required to qualify for the league ERA lead. He's no threat to win anything in that area, as he might be having one the best seasons ever for a starter with an ERA over 4.00. He grabbed one of his wins in one of his two relief appearances. Anyway, he should get 10 more starts if he stays healthy, assuming the Yankees don't clinch the division early and start sprinkling Triple-A call-ups into the rotation, which they probably will on both counts. But if he gets 10 starts, he'll be lucky to get those 65 innings at the rate he's going, but 20 wins is a reality. Thus, in age where winning 20 games has become increasingly rare, German could do it without even accumulating the number of innings traditionally seen as qualifying a pitcher as a full-time starter (162 is exactly one per game, which you already know if you read all this shit).

    I can't even bother to hate the Yankees anymore. The Red Sox actually have a far higher payroll at the moment, so that excuse is out the window. The fact is that the Sox are paying three guys (well, we can let Price off the hook to some extent) an astonishing amount of money to go out there and play like shit more often than not. Sale is on his way to being a kind of counterpart to Adam Dunn, striking out a remarkable number of batters even in his many awful efforts. Porcello has never been a good pitcher despite winning a Cy Young, and in years when he isn't the beneficiary of a lot of luck in the form of unseemly run support, it shows
  • If you had told me going into the weekend that a guy named Rudy Winkler who wears glasses would be at the U.S. Track & Field Champs that just wrapped up in Iowa, I would have assumed he would be sitting in the stands playing with a Rubik's Cube during most of the events. Instead, he is a very good hammer thrower, and not the kind of guy who likely endured a lot of torment on the playground thanks to his name. Then again, maybe that's not even a nerd name anymore. I don't think the idea of the nerd as the shy, bookish, anti-charismatic non-athlete does either, although some of us are managing to promote the stereotype against the inexorable forces of its dissolution.

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