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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sprinkler dancing, Olympic prep, and abject moral confusion

In a scene in Ocean's Twelve (a solid piece of filmmaking, but not as good as Ocean's Eleven) a lithe and limber thief uses a series of acrobatic dance-style moves to penetrate a field of oscillating lasers protecting the Fabergé Egg he intends to steal. That no real security system would operate like this isn't the point of either the scene -- which makes little sense but allows an actor to flaunt his martial-arts skills -- or this post.

I like to run at dusk, at least at this time of year. Well, I actually like to run at night, but lately I've been wandering into places that aren't well-lit in the absence of natural light sources, so waiting until well after sundown to make use of these routes is a bad idea for reasons that don't require explaining.

Boulder, like a lot of rapidly growing, high-population-density places that don't get a lot of rain, relies extensively on artificial irrigation to keep its many parks, school lawns, and other publicly funded spaces well-hydrated. It clearly makes little sense to deploy sprinklers where people are running around, so the watering goes on at night. Unlike other places I have lived, though, Boulder doesn't have its sprinklers timed to go off late at night; all over town, as best as I can tell, they tend to kick in right before it gets dark in earnest.

As a result, I often find myself dodging sprinkler streams, which isn't a big deal, and less often wind up getting nailed by a jet of water from a sprinkler that happens to say hello at precisely the time I pass by. Perhaps this is a sampling error of some other bias on my part, but it seems that a lot of these sprinklers are assembled specifically to spray highly focused water-streams at a height corresponding to the crotch of a human being standing between roughly 5' 9" and 5' 11". Whether this is preferable to being sprayed in the face or the cell phone (both of which I've experienced) really depends on the functional velocity of the water-stream. I have now been nailed in the crotch by sprinkler water hard enough to elicit curses and physical contortions twice in my life: once on the rack at Loveland High School in 2014, and once the other day crossing a school yard.

This all reached a poignant climax about a week ago, when I was trotting through a park in East Boulder as darkness was setting in. I didn't have my phone with me, which is unusual when I run by myself because I really have no other reason to keep trying anymore other than a good excuse to listen to podcasts and music rather than do "productive" things. Because I could actually hear things going on in my environment, I caught the unmistakable susurrant noises of a collection of sprinklers doing their thing in the 100' by 100' patch of grass I was about to navigate. I could sort of see a few oscillating streams of water against the backdrop of the faintly lit sky, and could hear more or less where they were coming from. And I was immediately reminded of the scene in Ocean's Twelve.

Things quickly diverged from cinematic reality, though. I dodged a few jets of water more out of lucky guesswork than nimble footwork, and then was soon wet. And then almost soaked. I didn't mind, because it was warm and also because at least I didn't get sprayed in the junk.

Oh, did I say I was running? So far, twice-a-week PT with Juli, the natural course of physiological healing, and a practiced reluctance to go much over an hour at a time has led to continued recovery from the knee problem. All of the late-2017 races I was planning back in the spring are off the table, but I don't mind because I would have embarrassed myself at those anyway. Perhaps by Thanksgiving I will be ready to at least contemplate embarrassing myself in a competitive situation again.

What else? On the freelance front, I have one assignment for Boulder Weekly and another for, both of which should appear online within the next seven days or so. While I'm grateful that the majority of my work nowadays has nothing to do with running, every once in a while I seize on a nugget of an idea that's been rolling around in my head for years and find a way to turn data in into information and, hopefully, knowledge.

I've also been asked to be the official manager and de facto agent of an Olympic runner I've been advising for the past several months. This athlete was recently awarded a training scholarship by the International Olympic Committee and is using some of the funds to do things such as pay coaches, managers and agents, which is gracious since I haven't been taking or expecting any money from this outstanding individual. I will devote a specific post to this endeavor soon, as I don't want to commingle it with stream-of-consciousness babbling and personal grudge-matches...

...and concerning the second half of this post's title, I understand that a fair number of you are expecting something about Kim Duclos' September 12th implosion. The timing of this was predictable -- in fact, at least three people did independently predict it -- because our book event on September 7th was certain to provoke nettlesome nonsense from her. Kim is a resentful shut-in paralyzed by the same issues that have dogged her forever, and the humble successes of people she feels have abandoned or wronged her -- or are merely associated with those people -- are like acid thrown in her face.

It's tempting to not stop with this one image, to post screenshot after screenshot of the crazed, malicious, and often unintentionally funny things she's posted this year on Facebook, Twitter (where on one classic April evening she really lost it) and Letsrun, and mockingly parse them ad nauseam. But that would be a waste of time; for one thing it's a lowbrow, albeit valid, form of entertainment, and for another it's not like her behavior, and not just toward me, is a secret anymore -- Google her name, even without quotes or adding words for context, and what instantly appears is an archetypal example of how attempting to damage someone online, as she has done, can backfire viciously. I never actually meant to Google-bomb Kim with my writings about her, but I'm not complaining about the outcome.

Please appreciate what is happening here with this post, one of many she made to the forum that evening that the mods deleted (with, as always, no provocation from me or anyone I know; the admins are wise to her antics there). The fact that her claims about me and Brad are untrue is almost immaterial. Here, Kim -- not for the first time -- is treating alcohol abuse and eating disorders, at least one of which she suffers from herself, as willful moral failings, on a par with physically or emotionally abusing someone. That's bad enough, but consider the source: In addition to lying about and crapping on the people who have helped her the most in her inglorious life, Kim has lied to the police, lied to a judge in an effort to advance those lies to the police, and lied about her entire educational and vocational history. (Kim likes to pretend that the stuff I've posted on my site is just my own opinion, but she knows this is untrue; other than my editorializing, most of this stuff consists of police reports, official court documents, and self-contradictory nonsense she's created herself.) And that's just a basic survey of her dishonesty, evidence of the worst of which is confined, for now, to years-old personal correspondence between myself and Kim.

Get that? Someone who has brazenly lied, cheated and manipulated her way through her entire adult life is declaring someone with anorexia unfit for participation in life.

I realize that she has mental issues, but at some point that line of reasoning to explain her behavior becomes mere bootstrapping. All along, she has been keenly aware of, and nurtured, her own ruinous intentions; her psychological problems only grease the wheels for an already toxic personality to run riot. And as I've said before, Kim's rent-paying, job-holding boyfriend, who suffered in the back row of a courtroom in March 2016 while Kim's lies unraveled, is not oblivious to her behavior, even if he doesn't see every example of it or even most of them. If he has his own wits about him at all, which is far from assured, the day will come when he will wake up and either force her to get some real help or put her out on the street. Whatever he does or doesn't feel about her, I am quite certain he doesn't want to wind up sitting in court because of her behavior again.


  1. Hey Mr. Beck! This fine young lady is from Worcester Ma. Most liberal state in the country. She represents the female liberal running agenda in this country. You back off right this minute boy! She is clearly untouchable. Sorry Son!

    1. "This fine young lady is from Worcester Ma. Most liberal state in the country."

      The first sentence is true, the second probably true.

      "She represents the female liberal running agenda in this country."

      She doesn't run anymore and has described herself on social media as a proud conservative woman, going as far as deriding women's marches and claiming that her nonexistent contributions to the U.S. taxation system should not go to support freeloaders and deadbeats. On the other hand, the manner in which she actually lives -- as an unemployed, unmarried dependent -- is the apotheosis of how a lot of conservatives view the typical liberal. So perhaps this one is a wash.

  2. If the United States was a person and it needed a prostate exam, the doctor would stick his finger directly into Worcester, MA.