November 29, 2013

Black (Metal) Friday

I didn't buy any gifts (sorry folks) but did pick up my 20$ gift card from a local sporting goods store.

Drank a cup of good coffee, went to another shop, drank another. Ran the 7ish mile trail loop I just raced, went to the gym, lifted, did 3 more plodding miles. Quads are sore from running 3 flat miles yesterday, which really does confirm I don't do enough fast running.

Listened to this album, for probably the 20th time this week. It's great work music for me, but really, who doesn't want a deafening cacophony of riffs and growls while editing Investigational Ophthalmology?

Thankful my legs work and that good coffee is good. And thanks for reading as well. I throw a lot of stuff out there and more than a few of you keep coming back. I appreciate it.

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Lessons

Ran the Run Lawrence Thanksgiving Day 5K this morning. It was cold, windy, and very instructive.

The lessons:

1) Ran a minute faster than last year, not really pressing, except for the first 800 or so, which translated in to an overzealous first mile. Another sign of progressing fitness, however. That's good.

2) Still 2:30 back from the leaders. People who run college cross country and track are fast. People who just finished running college cross country and track are fast too.

3) Nabbed 2nd in my age group anyway, which is now 25-29. Those high school and college runners who whipped me? Too young. Hopefully, the older I get, the more my peers slack off. That seems to be my best chance at continuing to win small gift cards. (I'm also declaring myself 1st overall in the ultra-shuffler division. Pretty sure neither of the guys rocking the Wisconsin or TCU gear would claim that title.)

4) Speed and endurance are different things. I train the latter almost exclusively, and so, in short races, my legs just can't go. Some work at or faster than 5K pace would do me some good, especially if I want to manage a respectable (flat road) spring marathon. Pleasantly jogging 70-100 miles a week is a good start, but I need to get my ass to the track.

5) If I were a high school girl I would be really fast, because I beat the 6A cross country state champ by two seconds. Am I celebrating beating a high school girl? A freshman? A 14 year old? God damn right. If she's the next Abbey D'agostino, I'm getting it put on my tombstone.

November 25, 2013

My Hair Can Fly

Photo credit to Mile 90 photography. They always manage to make me look as good as I can look, wearing tights under shorts, gasping during the final hundred meters or so of a race. Good runners and good folks as well.

On the other hand.

November 23, 2013


Third in a race that goes ten deep with fast guys I know, and maybe a handful more I don't. Happy with it. More satisfied, to tell the truth, than with any other recent result. Finish between people you know are fast, and I guess you can't help but feel okay about yourself, your training, and your present fitness. Maybe you even start to think you could be a little fast too. 

Faster, certainly, than last year, when I ran this thing 3 minutes slower. And I guess that's the best part. Wherever you are, relative to other folks, you always want to beat the shit out of your ghost from last year. And I smoked him. 

November 18, 2013

Racing Saturday

10K this Saturday, and looks like it might draw the kind of field I'd asked for a little while back. A few people I've lost to before. One guy I've never beaten, and won't, unless he breaks a leg, mid-race. (I should note, here, that he's a cool guy, so I'd rather this not happen. He trains more and harder than anyone else I know, despite being talented enough to beat everyone around here on half the time and effort. So I'd rather he stay upright. And kick my ass.)

But I'm as interested, honestly, in who might show up. A few road kids, trying their rock-hopping legs for the first time. A couple ultra-specialists, stepping down. Maybe. I've heard talk and read some things on Facebook. And I hope it happens. I hope it happens because running is fun, is satisfying, is a lot of very nice things that you either know or I can't properly tell you.

But racing is what it's about.

It's not better, always. Sometimes it a lot worse, in fact. A bad run is a bad run. You move on and get out the door the next day. But a bad race sits on your shoulders and tells you that you're less fit than you thought, not training as hard as you thought. It tells you that you've wasted hours, days, weekends, for this? Fuck, man. Maybe you're fraudulent, putting on this "runner" thing as some kind of ploy, an attempt to garner Good for you's from co-workers and pats on the back from other fitness hobbyists.

And I raced like shit, last year, at this event. Went to the well and there was nothing there. Don't know why, and that's the worst. X is wrong, you do fix X. But you have to solve for the variable first.

So. I don't know. I know that I'm training more and better and my races say so. I haven't had a bad one yet this year. Won a handful, finished near the front in the rest. No reason to think that won't happen on Saturday.

But I want to see. To stand at the line, in the freezing cold, look right, left, see people who care, who work, with whom I run often, sharing miles and conversation. I like these guys and I like this trail and I like running hard. It's all good, so long as I am, on that morning.

November 17, 2013

Night Moves

Out on the sidewalk, concrete that is cold and hard, like the miles, like the night sky that seems stretched across some expanse behind, a black sheet hiding infinity. 10 miles is 10 miles, though, and things are mostly as they are. That night sky is not a singular thing, but rather depth incarnate, neverending nothing, until it does, maybe. There are clouds fleeting across its face, and the moon, full and bright. A halo of light extends from it, framed against the clouds.

It is bright and the cars go by, their headlights brighter. There are houses out here. Lights are on in a few, off in others. Most don't have occupants to turn them on. There are signs everywhere, advertising. A ghost town that hasn't yet drawn a single breath, which never had life to begin with. A coyote runs by and seems not to notice me.

From the outskirts to the center, one night later. 10 more, after 10 in the morning. A long day. Pickups when I can, shuffling when I can't. The brick breaks things up, and I hop on to the grass when my feet begin to protest. There are hills. Faintly, there are sounds of music, of shouts, of dim echoes of sobriety drowning in it all. A homeless man walks by, using a PVC pipe as a cane.

Turn up a hill, down another, through a parking lot. Trash cans tipped, garbage everywhere. Near the lake and I hear voices, a boy and a girl sitting together in the dark, holding hands, talking. They laugh as I see them, their intimate moment made performance. I wave because I don't know what else to do, decide a second later that I shouldn't have, then that it doesn't matter. Up another hill and a drunk student is wobbling back and forth, making exaggerated hitchhiker thumb gestures towards the road. People honk but no one slows.

Near home, a mother and her daughter, walking in the neighborhood. The girl is no more than 5. She points at me, and with the honesty of youth, asks loudly, Why is he running? Because he likes it, says her mother. I wonder that point for the miles that remain and think that her mother's answer is probably the best one, but that there cannot be a best one, because I make things far too difficult for that. I finish, though, and sit and bathe in my bliss and think that she is not wrong.

November 16, 2013

Saturday Morning

Bricks are nice and so is good coffee. Walking over the former to get to the latter is a pleasant way to spend a late morning, after a few hours of staring at a computer screen, trying to decide if one need specify that Western Australia is indeed in Australia. The mind works best when moving and when stimulated by caffeine but I had already decided to err on the side of specificity, in this case.

November 15, 2013

Friday, or Not

The sidewalk extends for a few more blocks and it is made of brick so those blocks are interesting, blocky blocks, walking with feeling, texture. Angles roll and things move and are not uniform and the breeze is faint and cool and there are clouds but they are light and so the sun can penetrate them. It's nice.

Back inside there is yellow paper taped to the wall beside the bathroom asking someone to see someone about breaking a two dollar bill, if possible. Inside the bathroom there is a bowl that previously held some sort of re-heated lunch soaking in the sink. Paper towels are all around.

Things move on and happen but barely do I participate. Wading and watching, mostly. I do have a Larabar which I love dearly and altogether too much if we're being honest and then a decent apple and spectacularly awful cup of coffee but it was work coffee so I knew what I was signing up for.

Fridays still feel like what they are even when they entirely different, even when the weekend to come will not be a weekend properly, or even a weekend at all, really. Instead there will be work and more work and Saturday and Sunday will be little more than a prelude to Monday and maybe nothing more than an extension thereof, really, nothing more than one long Monday, three days of one day.

Probably the sun will not notice this, however. Probably things in the world and on the world and wholly outside of the world will go on, go on as they do, go on as they must and were always going to, really, regardless of how much proofreading I do or do not attempt in a given period of arbitrarily designated hours.

Neat, that.

November 14, 2013


When discussing coffee, and preferences regarding it, it is important to note that a distinction between things is not the same as a value judgement. Establishing something as being wholly "other" is merely to say that it is in fact different, fundamentally so, neither better nor worse. It is to assert, simply, that while perhaps there is value in places that serve pumpkin spice lattes, there is also value in places that do not, that those two things might co-exist, but in so doing, exist separately. All culture need not be popular culture.

November 6, 2013


There was, I think, a gold SUV, running a light. The car beside me continued and they looked likely to crash. They both swerved and avoided it; I slammed on my breaks. The driver behind me did as well, but not soon enough, given the rain.

A collision, which seemed mild at the time, only slightly harsher now, in hindsight. A crunch, a head snap, and then sitting. For a moment. For several moments. Giddy, almost. Adrenaline and I thought for a moment that this feels like racing. I laughed a little because it felt good, and then I got out of my car.

A large dent, back-right half smashed in, glass, plastic, strewn. He looked somber, asked if I was ok. I asked if he was. We both were. Waiting, in the rain. Cold and damp and I hadn't brought a coat because I was just going to the gym, to my treadmill. The officer arrives in minutes and things get sorted. I am oddly giddy, jittery, and this all feels fun, dramatic, interesting. People look as they drive by as I have done many times.

The treadmill still happens, and then a little more, outside. Nervous energy to burn. Fight or flight and I prefer the latter. As the energy wanes and I come back to myself I am grateful, happy still, to be doing this, to be moving and to be able to move, to be fine, really, aside from a headache that I imagine coffee will largely alleviate. I think about a friend who very nearly died, several years ago, in a very similar incident.

The morning now and even post-coffee a mild headache persists, which is to be expected, but the coffee was very good nonetheless. I am thinking that I am certainly not racing this weekend, and that, probably, I will instead watch a great deal of football, watch people sustain impacts more severe than mine, several times over, to the delight of millions. I am thinking that there is an element of hypocrisy there and perhaps a tinge of barbarism as well but that I don't care to expand on those thoughts.

Things, though, are good. A brush with something that could have had a very much not good conclusion illuminates this more than usual. Also, wear your seatbelt, kids.

November 4, 2013

Half Committed

Shoes ordered. Because I'm sure you're dying to know, I'll just say this: Nothing, really. We'll see how I feel, a hundred miles in or so, and then I'll probably write way too many words about it.

Perhaps I'll give them a go at 13.1 miles this Saturday. I've said multiple times I'm going to race, but haven't actually signed up yet, and kind of.... don't feel like it? It's not that I wouldn't enjoy it. I would. Halves are fun, the "just right porridge" of distance running, to me. And it's not that I don't want to see how fast I could go. I want to know. Rather badly, to be honest. 

And perhaps that's the problem? Road races are cruel, in that they make you run - and run hard - the whole way. No stealing breaths on hills or overly technical sections. And the result is what it is. You are what you ran that day, not what you thought you could do, not what that one workout said you could hit that you totally nailed a couple weeks back. (Trail races are timed too, of course, but the times are inherently less meaningful, unless you know the course quite well.)

So, you go in, wanting to run it fast, to blow past your PR, because you think you're in that kind of shape. And if you don't? Fuck. Existential crisis. Or maybe just eat too many cashews. We all cope differently. I'd opt for both, probably. Maybe some figs too.