January 9, 2017

I have intended, at various times, to write about what I have done, am doing, might do--and I have of course done none of those things, for various reasons.

I do have some thoughts, though, which are not terribly organized, but I will share now, because I'm bored at work, and have done enough to feel this is not a terrible dereliction of duty.

--My ankle is fine now. It would be cool to isolate a variable here, and say "This is the fix." I've done several things, however. 1) Barefoot single-leg balancing, every morning and every night. I'm awful at it, but less awful than I was. That's probably something. 2) Keeping easy runs no longer than 10 miles, and usually only 40-60 minutes. I've a tendency to gravitate towards everything being medium long, medium effort, when left to my own devices. (Yes, the classic recreational runner problem. We are all unique in the same ways.) That's not great, except, maybe, for what some folks might call base building.

--I'd argue, however, that it's probably not optimal for that either. (Once you can tolerate frequent, steady running, at least.) Or rather, I wouldn't argue it, because people get fanatical about such things. But it strikes me that--especially for those runners who, like me, don't have a real athletic background to draw on--all paces are "basic"--or, to borrow from Canova, fundamental.

--To that end, my volume is a bit lower, though I don't ever count it. Probably 55 or 60 miles a week, instead of 70-80. But, I'm doing bits of mile, 5-10K, half-full marathon pace work every week, plus some strides and true sprints. My long run is only 90-120 minutes. Perhaps that sounds like more of a sharpening phase, but I'm only really dabbling in all of it. It's all a little hard--but only a little--I'm not tasting copper twice a week. This is, again, perhaps a bit Canova-by-way-of-Magness, in the "never leave anything behind" sense. There is no race in which it's better to be weak and slow, so I'm trying to improve all those things, at least a little. I'm willing to be patient.

--Speaking of patience: I don't think I could race a good marathon or ultra off of this, so I'm not going to try. I'd like to get stronger, faster, etc., before trying again. Maybe that will be this fall, maybe it will be never. I'm honestly not concerned. I've completed 14 marathons/ultras, (I think, although can't recall, which should tell you something) so I'm not interested in limping across another finish line. For everything but the 100, that's done. I'd like to go a bit faster, in the meantime. If I can't race it, I'm not interested.

--I should say, also, that I'm enjoying this quite a bit. I'm not fast enough for people that make socks to give me free things, so this is really all that matters.

--I've done a few harder runs which make me thing this is all working pretty well.

December 14, 2016

On debate judging, subjective performance, w/ autobiographical digressions

I believe I've mentioned this before, but if not: I didn't (really) play any sports in high school. I did try, a little, freshman and sophomore years, but to basically no effect. I was only about 5'11, 170 lbs, and I ran the third slowest mile in gym of all the ~60 guys in my graduating class. I think it was around 14 minutes, which... isn't actually running, at all, because I couldn't do more than jog for about thirty seconds without getting winded. All of this is to say, I wasn't big, fast, and had no demonstrable endurance. I also couldn't hit a baseball, or, y'know... do anything athletic with any real proficiency.

But I could talk a lot, reasonably well, and there was a competitive outlet for that: Debate. Suddenly, I was good at something. It was odd, but I think, in hindsight, quite necessary. There's a place for hard-learned lessons--but a little confidence isn't the worst thing in the world, either. So I went from the guy who would basically hide during practice, to someone who expected to win everything, all the time. I went from being afraid to compete, to embracing it. Senior year, my partner and I were undefeated when negative (the negative duo is tasked with arguing against the stated plan, which the affirmative proposes and then attempts to support), placed in every tournament I entered, then finished third at state.

I've judged quite a few tournaments since then, including national qualifiers this past weekend. If I'm being honest, this has less to do with whatever success I might have had as a speaker, and more to do with the fact that I'm a living, breathing adult, willing to show up. Turns out, not many are willing to give up Saturdays to hear teenagers shout about Chinese missile proliferation at 100 mph.

I am, though, less because it's fun--though it... sort of is--than because I value the experience. It mattered a great deal to me, and so I want to help get it right.

Of course that does raise the perpetual question: What the hell is "right" in a purely subjective competitive endeavor? The team that wins is the team that convinced you they won, essentially; but that's logic so circular as to be functionally useless. There are various paradigms that take aim at some slice of objectivity; a judge might state their preference towards pretending to be a policy maker, or focusing on stock issues, etc. Or maybe they just go with who sounds the best. It really does vary, and with very few exceptions, the judges don't share these preferences before the round. So the debaters are left to compete without really knowing how score is going to be kept. If that sounds anxiety inducing... it really, really is. And yet, the better teams tend to perform consistently, which suggests the whole thing isn't as arbitrary as it sounds.

Still, it seems incredibly strange when compared to my present competitive focus--running, which I am generally less awful at now than I was during my teenage years. Debaters can--and basically always do--feel aggrieved when handed a loss; but the time you run is the time you run, and there can be very little argument about it. Racing is, perhaps, the most honest thing there is. Debate is... well, not. You don't lie--at least not often, or blatantly--but you spend a great deal of time arguing things you don't believe, using evidence you know damn well to be biased, cherry-picked, etc.

I'm really only interested in noting the difference between the two things, and not issuing judgment on their respective qualities. Both have benefits, and I enjoy both for what they are. Not the hottest of takes, but that's probably ok.

A note on my running, speaking of: I'm not injured! That's really the best part. I have some tentative race plans, and perhaps a rather audacious goal. I'd rather not write it out yet, though, lest I look like an idiot. (I am still, after all, not quite so confident in my running. Near the beginning of every race, some part of me is convinced my body will just revert to 16, and I'll face-plant 800 meters in. A slightly less extreme version of this anxiety manifests after basically every poor training run, also. So if it seems I'm cynical and/or negative about my running sometimes, well, it's because I am.)

November 24, 2016

I ran 18 flat, and I suspect tweaked whatever is happening with my foot a little more. Trying to run a 5K without landing on the outside of your forefoot is weird, turns out.

Anyway, a cool thing happened. I suspect you'll recognize first and third overall.

November 22, 2016

I'm typing this on my phone, so please excuse any poor penmanship. I wrote something needlessly verbose this morning, but then deleted it. It was pretty terrible, so that's a good thing.

Which is, sort of, what I was getting at. Maybe. A little. Some things are good and some things are bad and there is great beauty and horror and love and pain and, well, you know.

My sprained ankle recovered, and I raced well for a bit, which is good. Now there's a pretty large and tender bruise on the outside of my left foot*, though, which is bad. I will tell myself it's not really bad, of course, because I'm stubborn and frankly unwilling to confront the reality that I seem to get hurt quite a bit, and I don't know why. Three stress fractures and two sprained ankles in the last four years is a bad record by any objective standard, though, I do know that. But it's a thing I consciously ignore despite that knowledge, because I don't have enough other hobbies, maybe, and I do genuinely like this jogging thing. Also, bikes are expensive and racing them looks like a literal pain in the ass.

Anyway I'm 28 years old and maybe have the tendon integrity and bone density of someone thrice my age, I don't know. But I'm a bit grouchy about it at the moment, of that I'm certain.

But all runners are hurt all the time, and most don't ever get a fist bump from Billy Mills after a 10K run on the college cross country course named for him, a genuinely grassy, hilly affair, which snaked around Haskell Indian Nations University, the college in Lawrence you perhaps haven't heard of. This was a lovely race, and he said something nice, that I ran well or something, and I felt that I did okay after all, 38 minutes and thirteen seconds on a real course, but still soundly thrashed by three guys, all of whom would have been dusted by Mills himself, who was--on one day at the very least--the fastest man in the world at that distance. This is to say, we all accepted our awards gratefully, if a bit sheepishly.

Anyway. That was a good day.

Of course, good and bad in running is relative, because the real world has real problems and really profound moments of hope in that choking miasma. You know this already, though. And of course, though emotional energy is finite, we can care about several things. I can be mad at my foot, and also at literal goddamn Nazis delighting in their ascendancy in 2016 America, a Native protestor losing her arm on a night when her compatriots were hosed with water, the very subsatance Flint still doesn't have. To say etc would seem flippant--and I know even the remarks I did make are cursory, lacking detail--but of course I could go on forever. It has always been tbus, though. Which is not a cry for complacency--Sisyphus pushes the boulder, even though he must never make progress. So too, I would suggest, ought progress towards an equitable and just society be pursued, because it's right, not because it's promised to work. What does that goal look like? And what is needed to get there? I won't presume to tell you that--which is not to say I know myself. But I know, while we're talking about Sisyphus, that Camus ultimately concluded he must be happy. At least he never had any stress fractures.

*Morning update: I'm pretty certain the foot actually is ok. Good thing I wrote about it anyway, though.

October 11, 2016

A very useful review of a shoe I own. I'd add that I find the heel counter a bit high and a bit abrasive, and the upper is warmer than I'd like. But otherwise I'm pleased with it. People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

October 2, 2016

I'd expected my first ever self-powered 100-miler to be a few weeks ago--or if not then, some other footrace. But I did 100 on a bike yesterday, which, considering I'd never done 20, isn't so bad. Also kept all my toenails.

Then I ran for an hour today, which sounds less impressive, but matters way more to me.