May 31, 2014

It is Saturday and hot and I am doing nothing.

This is a good song from a good album.

Very straightforward angry music, though I'm not at all in a bad mood myself. Had I an mp3 player, this would be perfect deadlifting music. But I don't, so it's been proofreading music.

This too. Though it would appear better suited to the task, I haven't found that to be the case. As is typical of black metal (which I'm going to call it, though the genre descriptor hardly fits), the entire album functions more - and best - as one song, rather than disparate parts. Ideally, you'd have an hour of nothing to focus on nothing - contradiction intended. A bit like running, that, and indeed this would make for good trail traipsing music. Good for - to steal a term from my brother - vibin'.

Alas, no vibin'. Becoming a bit redundant. Still hurt? Yeah, still hurt. The injury is taking exactly as long to heal as expected. In two weeks, I'll get another checkup, and likely a clearance to "lightly jog".

No running means diminished writing, both in terms of volume of words and the quality thereof.

So, yeah. Dear diary, some good music. Went for a walk. Drank coffee. Leg still hurts. Shit. Bye.

May 28, 2014

40 yard dash. Well... jog? Able? Trot? Trot.

I ran across a grocery store parking lot today, carrying coconut milk ice cream like a delicious football. It was perhaps a distance of 40 yards, which is much further than I ever carried an actual football. Aided, likely, by the lack of people attempting to tackle me. Aided also by the fact that I had purchased this "football", and was thus the only person who could reasonably be entrusted to carry it - whereas in my youth, anyone else at all would've been a better choice for football toting duties.

There was a car, you see, that had committed to the same route of travel as I. And, in the interest of general courtesy and self preservation, I decided to clear this path as quickly as possible. Which required the most running I've done in nearly five weeks.

And I'm okay.

The car did not hit me.

My leg did not snap.

It did not, in any way, feel bad. It did, on the contrary, feel quite good. Running is a movement pattern that makes sense. It feels natural, right. It works. And I did it.

Don't tell doc.

May 26, 2014

Slowly, Surely

We're getting there. Slowly, I say, but I know better. At least, I know that "slowly" is a relative term, and it could certainly be slower. Could certainly have been a bone sticking out of my leg, blood everywhere, surgery to follow, with months to get back. It ain't that. So, I try not to bitch. At least, out loud. Internally? Internally I'm bitching quite a bit. Everytime I see someone out cruising, some gruesome part of myself wants to trade places. Not that I want them to be hurt, really. But I maybe want them to be hurt more than I want myself to be hurt, y'know?

That's bad, maybe. But it is what it is, he says uselessly.

Still: I haven't fallen out of shape. My "cardio" is fine. Elliptical-ing, cycling, rowing, weights. All together, it's kept my fitness from bottoming out. Weight is stable too; but given my total lack of appetite (I really can't say that I've been "hungry" in a couple of years at least, which I know, that's very strange), that's easy enough to maintain.

Pretty damn bored with all of that though. I anticipated as much. But I was wrong about the primary motivation, I think. My expectations were that I'd miss the specifically race-oriented training, or at least, the mental race-imagining that takes place during every "flow-y" training run, where the pace just embraces you and carries you along.

But, eh, I haven't really given much thought to that. I've missed a few races, for sure, that I'd have liked to do. Will probably miss or skip a few more, depending on how quickly I'm able to feel confident in my race readiness. It's that flow, though, that I'm finding myself missing most of all, and I didn't expect that. At least, I didn't want to expect it.

About that: I'd always been described, by people I run with, as the high volume, mostly trail guy. And some part of me resented that. I wanted to think of myself as something other than the Kerouac reading, swarthy looking, minimalist in shoes and life, scrawny hobbyjogger, who just, y'know, wants to get out and cruise for a couple hours a day, ride the dirt, let the rocks lead where they may. That's something of a stereotype in the running community these days, and the legions of diet Krupickas testifies to its accuracy.

So, basically, I didn't want to be "that guy", exactly, probably in the same sort of way nobody really wants to embody the caricature that best fits them. I wanted to be - or at least present as - a real, semi-serious competitive runner - at least, by this area's pretty lax performance standards.

But a few weeks away from a thing gives perspective on it, and I'm far enough clear to see that everyone was basically right. Which, yeah, pretty obvious. Running 70-100 mile weeks (guessing here, but I basically tried to hit an average of 2 hours a day, every week), nearly all of it north of 8 minute miles, and never touching 5k pace except in 5k races? Eschewing anything like "training" for, eh, I'll just pop another easy 15?

And I do really like Kerouac... so, fuck.

This isn't exactly an epiphany, and certainly shouldn't be. In a way, it's felt like one, however. There was a decent part of me that suspected I'd gravitated towards running simply because it turned out to be the only athletic endeavor I'd ever been remotely good at. Sometimes I won races. That, I can't lie, always felt pretty damn cool.

But a lot of being good at running kind of far is being seduced by the training it takes to do so. And it's that training I'm craving most of all. Just trotting along the dirt of Lawrence's river levee, baking in the 90 degree heat, back an forth, knocking out 20 at my "stumbling out of bed" pace, maybe finishing with a mile or two around 6:30 if I'm feeling spicy.

Again, we're getting there.

May 24, 2014

Words on Run

I wrote a review for this book, which you can read here. The link being to Amazon, you can, of course, buy the book there as well. I think that would be a good investment on your part, especially if you enjoy either running-centered narratives or young adult lit.

The latter, admittedly, isn't typically my thing. Even when I was, by definition, a young adult, I tended to shy away from anything that was thus categorized. I made an exception, in this case, because the author is a fellow Lawrence-dwelling runner, and I - as you'd expect - know him. I also know him to be a good writer, so I was intrigued. (I did buy it of my own accord.) Although that peaked my initial curiosity, such things aren't enough to motivate further reading, nor do they create enjoyment where it would otherwise be lacking.

Point being, when I say that I enjoyed the book, know that I enjoyed it on its rather substantial merits. The characters - the first person narrator in particular - are fun, witty, and interesting. The running feels very real, relaxed when appropriate, and searingly intense when it needs to be.

I invoke Once a Runner in the opening to my Amazon review, which are heavy words in some circles. Still, I do think the comparison is apt. Neither is - or intends to be - high art. But they get the running right, from the act itself to the accompanying neuroses. And the people doing the running are, for the most part, interesting and enjoyable to spend time with.

So, worth a read, for sure.

May 21, 2014


Internet at home is down, so this is written at work. As such, brevity, y'know?

More than a muscle strain. Not shocking. Initial inflammation covered things up. Doc suspected as much, which is why he had me back. "Things", in this case, being two(!?) baby cracks in my fibula. Fairly close together, near enough that a two centimeter (or so) section could nearly have broken off entirely. That would've been a bloody mess, in the literal - not British - sense.

But that didn't happen. And things are filling in nicely. Doc says another 3 to 4 weeks, putting the total at 7 or 8. Which, eh, not thrilled. Could be worse though. Always that.

If we're counting this as just one stress fracture, then I've had two in the last two years. If we're counting each crack, then I've had three.

Flimsy shoe guy who runs highesh volume and breaks bones is not the rep I want, to be clear.

So, at doc's suggestion, I checked my calcium, vit D, and ferritin levels. First two were good. The latter was, to be kind, bottomed the fuck out. Not that it's a primary factor in bone health via any obvious (to me) mechanisms, but low levels do strongly correlate with stress fractures in a few studies done on high school and college cross country teams, and high levels line up with high bone density in old people - per a bunch of other studies I read. Anyway, it seems to matter.

(It is also a primary factor in not racing shitty road marathons, so I've got (another!) excuse. Oxygen matters.)

Anyway, I'm fixing that. With pills. Because I can't eat that many lentils. Feel pretty, uh, normal? But my elliptical/stationary bike times have improved by about 5-10% in a week. So that's not nothing. It is, also, something to keep an eye on going forward. I'll probably train in something a little thicker than a 5k flat too, once actual running can happen again.

Looking forward to that. In the mean time, I've got some lessons to internalize. Namely, if your body can't put itself back together, post-hammering, it matters very little how much hammering you did.

May 17, 2014


I'm 26 today.

Good weather. Good fitness. (When I can get my leg back up to supporting it. That's getting closer, in any case. Walking isn't a chore, at least.) Good job. Good health. Good folks.

Never like the phrase "I can't complain", because people always find a way. Myself included. But I shouldn't.

It's not "all good", exactly. Another phrase that never quite means what it says. But it is collectively, all of it taken on the whole, "good". And that's good.

30-34 age group, I'm coming.

May 6, 2014


A lot has been written today on Bannister's first sub 4 mile, 60th anniversary that it is. An amazing accomplishment, to be sure, and still a celebrated barometer, even when 3:43 is the present world record. Still, it's startlingly fast. Over 15 miles an hour. That's not jogging.

Don't think I could run 440 yards at that pace. Certainly not 880. McMillan Calculator laughs and says I sure as hell couldn't. And after all, I can't run right now, period. That calculator is a jerk. Of course, I couldn't find a track measured in yards anyway, so I could run 400 meters, and still not get under a minute. Whatever.

This is a good book about the sub 4 mile pursuit. A good history lesson, even if the plot is inherently spoiled. Perhaps most interesting to me is how little Bannister trained, in comparison to both John Landy and Wes Santee*, the two other runners the book focuses on. Interval work over his lunch break, typically not exceeding 40 minutes. So little running that some still suggest he must have been doing additional miles before or after med school. Bannister has always maintained that this isn't true, and that he didn't have time for warmup or cooldown jogs either, so there was no additional volume there.

But anyway, read the book. It's good.

*Santee ran at Kansas, so there's some local flavor, for you Lawrence folks. Had a few things broken differently, and Jim Ryun never been born, he might be more famous around these parts.

Down the Stream

This is silly, I know. I've mentioned it before, but not running shouldn't be the end of the world. And it isn't. I get that. Really. But it is pretty fucking irritating.

It's been one week since I was told three weeks and I'm going to bitch, sorry. Things do not feel one third better. They do not feel one percent better. Granted, they don't feel worse, either. But that's not a terribly high bar, considering I've actually listened to every order the doctor gave me. I haven't taken any long walks, or attempted to jog a single step.

The brace looks fucking stupid.

Ellipticals are boring.

It is warm now, and so there are people out running, always running. Some look better than others, but all look better than me, who is not running. Generally my disposition is to love everyone I see out loping along; but right now, I'm hating them. This is petty and stupid, I know. But it is what it is.

Neither home life nor work are helping. Of course, there's the anxiety that comes with having an internet connection. The intrepid injured can further diagnose themselves with any number of maladies, without the inconvenience of a second opinion, or objective testing. That, though, wouldn't be so bad, if I didn't spend literally my entire Monday on a podiatry journal, reading "Patient presented with pain in lower left leg..." and ending with something like "Patient healed normally from amputation."

Everything requires surgery forever. That's pretty much what I learned today.

Also, I don't have diabetic foot ulcers. So at least there's that. The bright side? Part of it.

A week isn't that long. Three isn't that long. Four, six, whatever it comes to, isn't really that long.

And the gym has been kind to me so far. Ellipticals are boring, but they get the job done. Stationary bikes and rowing machines supplement nicely, since I can more easily (and safely) jack my heart rate up on those. In some ways, I may come out of this in better "shape", speaking abstractly. Not as fast a runner, right then and there, but with a nice foundation.

All of that is true, for sure. It's just difficult not to feel pangs of absence, even if it's only a week. And it's difficult not to feel a little stupid, frankly. "Ambitious relative newcomer to sport hurts himself by failing to recover, and oh by the way, wearing flimsy little excuses for shoes" is a story bordering on cliche, at this point.

So yeah, it sucks. But yeah, it doesn't really. On an intellectual level, I know this. But running - the kind with dirt and rocks, specifically - doesn't stimulate on a purely intellectual level. The other levels it targets are legion, and they feel deprived.

But we'll get there. And this will seem silly navel gazing when we do.

May 2, 2014

One Year of AP, X Years of Y

I had my one year review today at Allen Press. About 20 days short of year, actually, but close enough for jazz.

Don't know that I've ever really explained what it is I do there, so here it is, briefly: I proofread academic and scientific journals, checking for things from basic visual formatting (do the columns line up?) to esoteric terminology.

Put another way: I don't really read the articles. I certainly don't check for content or comprehension. By the time they get to me, they've already been reviewed by experts in the relevant field, and accepted. I don't know shit about eye surgery, but I know when Investigational Ophthalmology likes to use italics.

More accurately, I know where to look it up. That truly is what we do. Our job, as proofreaders, isn't to know anything - except where to find out what we need to know. For this reason, we have two rather large monitors at our computer - we simply couldn't view enough windows simultaneously on one standard issue - and bookshelves full of references.

The challenge of the job is thus to bring into agreement the tremendous amount of "stylepoints" each journal has - hundreds, in many cases - with the realities of what is present on the page. This could mean anything from aligning mathematical equations in accounting journals (I love this, and I don't know why) to checking genus species names in Mammalogy.

If this sounds a little mentally exhausting, know that it is, at times. But I like it, for the most part. And I do think I'm pretty good at it. Bringing things back to the review, the relevant bosses seem to agree. I scored well on every metric, and wasn't criticized on anything. So, if I had to guess, do most of my coworkers. They tolerate my scattershot rambling about bears, goats, dogs, potatoes (I am a one man potato lobby, and they really are the best food, just ask me), and running, and don't mock the stupid looking limp I've got at the moment. Which is all good.

Still, all good doesn't mean always good, or always optimal, So when asked what future plans I had, I just blinked, paused, and looked to the corner of the room.

"I honestly have no clue," I said. "I rarely plan beyond my next race, and right now, I don't know when that can happen. So I'm just looking forward to running again. I don't plan on leaving or changing departments. I like it here. But, I mean, I have no long term career plans. No long anything plans, really. Just, uh, run well, feel good, and be happy with life, I guess."

That was the most honest answer I could've given at the time, and it holds up now. Nothing there I change, though the wording could be more graceful. Probably not the answer they're used to hearing, either, though it seemed well enough received.

Notably absent from my goals was any talk of money. I didn't ask about it, because I didn't think to ask about it. I honestly couldn't tell you my present wage, much less when I may or may not be due a raise. This is, admittedly, some hipster bullshit. And also quite lucky, on some level. You can only be apathetic about money when you have enough of it. I'm aware that many people don't - both in this country, and certainly on the global stage - and how frivolously wealthy I am, by comparison.

Do note that I'm still far below middle class. But my bills are paid every month. I have health care, and want for no basic necessities. I eat what I want, replacing calories carelessly burned supporting my hobby, at which I'm really quite terrible, in the grand scheme. Nobody is running an 18 minute 5K in Iten right now, because that doesn't get you shit, other than a cheap medal and a pat on the back. I'm cool with that, because I've got the basics covered.

This is a charmed existence. I get that.

My leg still hurts. So although he weather is nice and the trails inviting, I can't run them. I'll bitch about this as it persists - and certainly if it persists longer than the initial 3 week prognosis - but all the while keeping in mind that it's all good, even when it isn't all good.

Goals? Be less slow. And?

I don't know. I don't know how anyone does, really. I'm nearly 26, which seems impossible. That's an adult age, and I sure as shit don't feel like one. I listened to AFI (Answer That and Stay Fashionable, to save a smidge of credibility... we won't talk about the fact that I really like a couple songs on Burials too) and watched Cowboy Bebop today, if you need proof that that sentiment is probably accurate. I worked, worked out, read a book. I still feel like an imposter in khakis, like my office life is a hidden camera rouse, that my interview was a set up to be told I'd been found out, that it was cute, kid, but it's time to stop playing office worker.

But that didn't happen. So I'm going to go back tomorrow. I'm going to work, and like it, but wonder, on some level, what they hell is going on. Maybe when I can answer that, I'll have a better idea of what's next.

Maybe - probably? - I never will. For now at least, I'm comfortable with my ignorance. It's good, until it's not, if it's not. No spoilers.