The increasingly parochial observations of a casual runner in his fifties. Was "serious" about "the sport" until personal and sociocultural inevitabilities prevailed.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Olympic Marathon Trials Pre...

I haven't been paying much attention to the build-up to the Olympic Marathon Trials that are probably over by the time you read this, probably because I know what most sources of "information" are putting out without having to look and that I would only be dunking the soft, even babylike skin of my ass into a bucket of rubbing alcohol by reading it. What I like best are the profiles they write about "heroes" who squeeze in under the standard by 15-20 seconds and are showing up despite having jobs, kids and other horrific handicaps no one else ever confronts. What I want to see, but would probably have to come up with myself, is a profile of the 2:18:45 or 2:44:30 entrant who does nothing but play video games all day long in mom and dad's basement, but is completely serious about wanting to make the team. Alternatively, we could the inverse, a guy with 2:08 chops who has sort of lost interest in the last two years and is now bagging groceries at Safeway and jogging 10-15 miles a week to keep in shape, but is mostly looking forward to experiencing the Trials with his growing family. That would nail all the possible permutations.
  • Women's race: This one will deviate from the form charts (is that still a term?) more than the men's race will. The course is not precisely what I would call a motherfucker from here, but it's slow, and will seem nigh apocalyptic to a generation of marathon runners who normally avoid courses not run on the equivalent of airport runways (preferably shielded from wind) or point-to-point downhill.

    I'd love to see Molly Huddle make this team, but she seems banged up and will be out by 30 to 35 km. True 21st-century hermit Emma Bates will earn a surprise win, opening up big gap in last 5K after a bold move at 21-22. Desi Linden and Emily Sisson will take second and third, with Kellyn Taylor close on Sisson's heels. Hasay drops early and as quietly as possible. Winning time: 2:27:58.

    The race will go out in 1:14+, yet only 12-15 will be in the pack.
The thing that continues to strike me is how many people believe they need to be part of a formal training group with a full-time coach in order to succeed in this sport. Maybe my personal experience doesn't mean much since I was an everyday hack with a 2:24 PR, but I did my best racing in two distinct periods three years apart in which I was working full-time (more than that, in the first case) and in stable relationships that undeniably made me happier in ways I couldn't appreciate than I would have been otherwise. If you can't find time to run 100+ miles a week when you don't have kids at home, it's because you don't care enough. For some people it's often the difference between being willing to give up three relatively benign but time-sucking nights a week at the bar and not being willing. If you aren't doing at least three to five unplanned workouts in the dark every winter either before 5 a.m. or after 7 p.m., there's a good chance you don't care enough to be as serious as you believe you'd like to be, assuming you live in northern latitudes.
  • Men's race: I really like the prep of the NAZ Elite crew. I should admit at this point that I am mostly clueless about things like late scratches because I have only been skimming the news until today. That's why I am calling this a pre instead of a preview or a prediction or anything else. All I can really say is that I posted it in time.

    I think this will be Jared Ward's day, followed by Stenley Kebenei, Scott Fauble, Haron Lagat and Galen Rupp. Jim Walmsley will finish no worse than 7th, and Tyler Pennel will be in top 10. Winning time: 2:13:49.

    Rupp, of course, may still be the strongest in the field despite all of the bullshit and the fact that most people are rooting against him. He has always been incredibly focused. I really won't be surprised if he wins, and with relative ease. But it would probably be best to eject the stank of Salazar from running altogether. I don't see a lot of fans complaining about collateral damage. 
While you'd be right to point out that I was not, and was in fact never expecting to become, an elite runner, I was able to train like one, and multiple examples exist of world-class runners who had full-time jobs or at least didn't feel like they needed to move across the country to get better. I'm not shitting on that choice, but suggesting, strongly, that everything that comes wrapped up in that nowadays is utterly unnecessary. And if you do make the choice to spend your latter twenties ostensibly being a serious runner but instead hanging out in Boulder coffee shops and boasting about 70-mile weeks, well, "Thanks for the entertainment" is about I and anyone of a certain vintage is likely to offer.

I took a look at the list of topics on the front page of a certain message board this morning, and was tempted to fall back on the facile conclusion that most people are blunt-force assholes. Instead, I reminded myself that it's probably the case that most people who contribute thoughts anonymously to that particular part of the Internet are assholes, but that it would be statistically unjustifiable to extend this judgment to the general U.S. population. As much as I've shit on some of the mainstream media op-eds about the running world offered by writers who happen to be women in the past year, at least they've put their names on their nonsense, and tend to be better with words even when the words themselves are bland, whiny and generally insufferable. Any message board in which women are effectively shut out invariably becomes dominated by the monkey element before long. I wonder how many of the pimple-poppers on that board realize they will be fat, bald and the objects of derision of most of the targets of their own criticism by the time they're 40. If they're away from the running world, though, they'll probably be as happy as any of us.

I think the running world was nicer when everyone involved seemed to accept, and even prefer, that no one needs give a shit about what runners do or why. Part of it has to do with the ravenous hunger for recognition people have developed and how thus translates into wanting to be celebrated for basically every life event that doesn't end in an arrest or a divorce. You can't really blame people who were 15 when the Facebook and Instagram plagues were released into the wild for needed to outdo everyone else in ways that look comical to people who remember what the early Internet looked like (and for better or for worse, loaded shit onto it that may still be findable on Usenet groups).

Friday, February 21, 2020

From my keyboard to your face

I decided that I would permit myself to post here only after reaching certain milestones on an unrelated writing project, which is not the same as promising to post here each time I achieve one of those milestones. And although these aren't really milestones, more like inchpebbles, I plan to attain them at a remarkably glacial pace. Part of this is quite reasonable, since I have to write for money while we all still can, and have churned out a startling amount of informative chum over the past four weeks. I am also continuing to assemble blog posts in the way they probably appear to be constructed, i.e., over time and from a patchwork of current events and whimsical ideas.

Although I prefer to shun blogging even when unfettered by such arbitrary self-shackling, I virtually never lose interest in writing about other people's questionable ideas once I decide my own ideas about those ideas are sufficiently urgent in my own mind to warrant public expression. This usually means making a number of jokes that at most three people possess the background to understand, although it's not usually the same three (or fewer). I also seem unperturbed by the notion that most of my recent ideas are likely to offend a nontrivial fraction of the readership I have cultivated, given that, although this has been a mostly unguided process, I have largely managed this by offending our mutual philosophical enemies. Every misanthrope ultimately paddles toward whatever uninhabited islands are left, it seems.

Putting this altogether, I'm therefore expecting that this standard will afford me a day or two to ponder the likely upshot of posting ill-advised content before I actually publish it, thereby adopting the putative perspective of Wile E. Coyote in those fragile moments after he had already stepped laterally off a high precipice but before the Acme Inc. version of gravity exerted its inevitable effects and sent the hapless poacher on yet another whistling plunge toward another in a long string of faked demises.

Astute readers might have noticed that I usually fail to supply links to buttress my words unless I need to link to something not easily found otherwise. This saves me a lot of time, and it assumes that you follow distance running closely enough to have some idea what I'm talking about.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The speckles resulting from a burst of moist verbal flatulence

This post is mostly a review of 2019, both my own and professional running's as viewed through my lens. I am presenting it in February because nothing about what I do, say or think at any time of year is of measurable consequence to anyone outside my small, if stubbornly expanding, sphere of avocational operation. Maintaining a blog that has long assumed the sole purpose of entertaining the same ten or eleven people (I think one guy lost his phone in a strange sexual escapade and can't afford a new one yet) comes with only the faintest sense of obligation to anyone at the other end of these words, and by now you probably accept that I keep this place on life support mostly to layer somewhat-padded insults on people and institutions under the pretenses of legitimately giving a damn about the underlying principles.

Sadly, most of te responses of those ten (or eleven) perennially grateful readers are made to me directly, since on average you're smart enough to not say what you think in the comments lest one of the blog's elliptically orbiting psychopaths seize on your information and suck you into a netherworld of shouting at unmoored narcissists and apocalyptically resentful loons. And those latter words almost as aptly describe certain New York Times, et al. columnists and pro athletes as they do my favorite citizen interlocutors. As a result, being something of a rake by inclination, I am provided ample motivation to persist in describing my dislike of certain trends in the running world even though the persistence of these trends will only serve to make the world more entertaining with every new year, at least for those of us who have chosen not to direct our diabolical gametes wombward and are therefore more naturally prone to regarding things we see as errant with more of a detached scowl of resignation than an engaged frown of despair.

Also, a number of events in the first days of 2020 inspired me to wait on this post, because these were gratifying events, and it's important you to understand that most of my grousing is far more a consequence of being a fundamentally contemptuous and unpleasant individual, covered in snot and the ineradicable funk of despair, than it is a response to acute personal difficulties. Just today, I heaved one of those silver scooters that should have been made illegal decades ago off the side of an overpass just to watch it explode on contact with the pavement 10 meters below, and such was my consternation over another near-collision involving one of those demonic devices that I failed to notice the young child attached to the scooter at the time until the whole assembly was fractions of a second from landing. I averted my eyes at the last millisecond because my temper is no match for my weak stomach. As world events continue to make me more cynical, I find I can summon less and less concern for such lethal outcomes. But before that tantrum, around January 5th, I finalized plans to have my mom visit Colorado for the first time in April. This summer, I will meet both my parents in Washington, D.C., assuming it hasn't been turned into a crater and perhaps even then. I haven't seen my dad in over seven years, so this is something. And this fall, I plan to go to London for the first time. I may also spend the summer away from Boulder, but that is unlikely even though the option is there because this is actually a nice place to live at all times of year, especially when you don't have to drive to and from a job.

This is where you should stop if you want to experience any sort of joy today that does not derive from schadenfreude, agreement with generally sensible opinions expressed in a perhaps mean-spirited way, or the realization that if someone who churns out shit like this can support himself in the world while avoiding paddy-wagons and straitjackets, anyone can.