December 15, 2015

If you're so inclined, you can now buy a two-hundred dollar racing flat. In news that could be tangentially related, I haven't bought new running shoes in 15 months.

December 8, 2015

I don't ride - not really. That is, I don't "cycle". I ride a bike to get somewhere, sometimes, and I enjoy it enough; but, I have no frame of reference for what is fast, or anything like that. But this is cool regardless, and principally applicable to any endurance pursuit. 

As for my indulgences, I'm running, feeling fitter, vaguely ambitious. I don't know what I want to do with any of that, however. 

November 23, 2015

Spot the difference

Just a few years, a little fabric, and facial hair. Same last name, though.



A good race, all around.

November 2, 2015

I ran a 17:50 5K yesterday, which, as ever, is a time that is completely specific, and yet not the least bit informative without additional context. Running is weird that way. You ran what you ran, and that's it. But it's not, not really, because though the time is the time, the time is also not the time. It's the sum of previous experiences and expectations, and as such, functions more as a point in a narrative than a data point in an algorithm.

So, I ran that time, which is a faster time than I'd ever run before. It strikes me, at once, as the sort of time a "real runner" might run, but only might, because it's not that fast. Not really. Not now that I've done it. That too is the nature of the hobby. Times are immutable and ephemeral all at once.

October 15, 2015

In the time since my last posting, I've run two marathons. Here are a few words.

I ran the Hawk Marathon, a semi-organic race (of three at the event: 26.2, 50, and 100 miles) on my home town trails, sort of out and back, with some extra business on either end to make up for what would otherwise be something closer to 23 miles. These are trails, really trails, that wind and twist and undulate. There are rocks and roots and snakes that look too much like the latter. It is, as such, an arrhythmic course. You're always pushing, never cruising.

I won the race in 3:28:08, breaking the previous course record by 5:18.

This is, of course, no big thing. Zach Bitter and Matt Flaherty have run - and predictably, won - races in Kansas City, but not Lawrence.

I'm the local guy with the local record at the local race. I live maybe eight miles from the trail head. I have rock jumps memorized - or perhaps, better known even than that. Intuited. I don't remember how to take them because I don't think them. I dart right of that tree, then kick off the adjacent rock with my right foot, landing on the peak of another with my left. Two quick turnovers later, I'm down, spinning, and then hurdling the creak. 

I can roll with those trails. True, a lot of people, totally ignorant of the course, could do it faster. But, no one has.

It's no big thing. But it's my small thing, and I'm glad to have it. 

In 2011, I volunteered at the event on something of a lark. I was, at the time, a 20 some odd miles a week hobbyist, looking for something to do over the weekend. I was struck by the euphoric absurdity of the whole goddamn thing (100 fucking miles?), and promptly entered - and finished, somehow - my first 50 mile race the next month.

In 2012, I ran the marathon, then paced 25 miles with the final 100 mile runner.

In 2013, I won the marathon.

In 2014, I paced 40 miles of the 100 mile course record.

And now, 2015. It adds to an odd collection that has nonetheless proven influential. Without this event, I don't know that I'd be any kind of runner at all. It's marked me, so I'm glad to have marked it back.


Five days ago, I ran the Prairie Fire Marathon, in Wichita.

It was, appropriately, hot. I flamed out, then jogged it in.

3:29:28 on an almost sarcastically flat (really, not a single hill?) road course. Slower than the same distance covered on technical mountain bike trails the month before. (And yes, the trail race is measured accurately.)

Given that I'd expected to run at least thirty minutes faster, this is, without question, a really poor time. But I also had, without question, a pretty good time running it.

If this sounds like some hobbyjogger inspo bullshit... well, maybe. But shit races can still be good training runs, so long as you emerge uninjured. And I'm comfortably running again, so, life goes on. As it would whether I was pissed about my time or not.

It's no big thing. But it's my small thing, and... well, I don't actually have to take it with me.


Tonight was a steady six under a rippling sky, the sun setting and bleeding across the expanse like grapefruit juice spilled on gently wrinkled white tablecloth.

June 16, 2015

Night Hawk 50K

4:27:50, 2nd

Before the race, I'd have taken that. And after? Well, there's nothing to do but take it, at that point. You can wonder, though, and I did for a bit. Could I have gone for it a bit harder? Well, yes. Could I have gone hard enough to run the eleven minutes faster I'd have needed to, in order to win? Nope.

I could have tried, sure; but not sustainably. And maybe not effectively. That's the thing about running: You can always go harder. But harder isn't always - or even usually - better. You find the fastest possible sustainable pace, and sit there. I did that, and the result is what it is. Axiomatically. I'm pleased, then, because of that. Because, quite improbably, I've turned into the veteran distance guy, who paces himself pretty well. Who jogs around just fine, right after the race - and certainly the day after - because I didn't fuck myself up too badly.

There's something very satisfying about that. About not having to explain to anyone and everyone why you're a shambling corpse, this morning. About not really being afraid of the distance itself, regardless of the other shit. Which, there was other shit. Ninety degrees at the start, with humidity pushing the heat index right down into hell. Then, driving rain. Big puddles. Slick mud. Walking downhills.

But there was running. Not fast, ever. But never especially hard, either. Steady pace. Steady fueling. Workmanlike. Not dramatic, particularly. I have no stories to tell.

But I would like to go looking for one. That is, among other things, what we're running towards: Narrative. And in any good story, there has to be a goal. The protagonist - which we all are, in our own lives - seeks something, shit happens; maybe they get it, maybe not. But that's pretty much every story ever told.

So, what do I want to do?

I'd like to run a marathon in under three hours. Online calculators say I can, but that's about as close to cold comfort as you can get.

I'd like to get my half down under 1:20. This, of course, could easily precede the marathon goal. Or it could follow it. The two require comparable fitness.

BUT. But. One hundred miles is a race distance that exists. People do it. I've seen video, read about it, and even observed in person. Shit, I've paced forty miles of a course record. But I haven't done it. Because it scares me. You read things like the Outside Magazine piece about overtraining, and you wonder. It's a damn stupid thing, you think. Risky. Counterproductive to almost any other goal, and perhaps damaging to your basic health. So yeah, it scares me. But someday, I'm going to have to try it. Maybe this year, maybe not. Because it scares me. And I need to know.

Things to consider.

May 2, 2015

I ran the Garmin Half Marathon a couple weeks ago in 1:23:05. The time is what it is, which is one of the most useless phrases in English, and yet somehow instructive, when it comes to running. The time, after all, is what it is. Putting aside philosophical concerns about the true experience of time, that's easy enough to agree upon. And yet it's a great many things besides a sum of seconds, ticked off over the course of 13.1 miles.

This isn't much of a race report, though. Not really. I used to write them and I always try, but I find myself chronically unable. And this race actually has some specifics worth telling. I didn't get passed. Ran my first mile in 6:20, averaged 6:21 for the entire race. Just sat on my pace, even as the lead pack sprinted away, and then strung out before me. Something similar happened behind too. I ran the first few miles by myself. Then, slowly caught people. I think that, if the race had kept going, I'd have caught more. It was easy that way. The easiest race I've ever run, at any distance.

I got seventh, which both matters and doesn't. It matters, because it's a race, and other people were there, trying to run as fast as they could. I ran faster than 1879 of them. But it doesn't, because field size and depth is pretty arbitrary. I ran faster than a lot of people but not what I would call objectively fast. There are plenty of people from around here who would have gone faster than me, if they had raced.

Which brings me back to the time. It used to be fast. But now that I can run it, it's not. A few years back, when I was pretty new at this, I didn't expect to ever get under 1:30. Now I have, and I honestly expect to get under 1:20 soon. Well, not "soon". But soon. You know how that goes. Maybe that's a foolish expectation, but all expectations are, sort of. The Earth could always just explode, and then no one would run fast. So we don't know. Can't know. Not really. But we can look at the trajectory of things and suggest that maybe I will keep getting faster for a while. I'm still somewhat new, and not quite 27 yet. There's time. And maybe, additional fitness to be mined.

I should probably say here that I am coached now, and was for the several months leading up to Garmin. This certainly helped me run an easy race, whether I'm able to call it fast or not. It was as fast as I could go and it was never difficult. Doing hard workouts helps. And for the first time, I've really committed to doing them. I always knew I probably should. But the truth is I'm a hobby jogger at heart, and happy enough to trot around at 8:30 pace day in, day out. Hard workouts are generally uncomfortable, and maybe I'm a wimp, maybe I'm lazy, but I don't usually like them as much as the easy days. But I'm doing them now. Some would probably say money is the motivator here, but I don't think so. I've bought training plans before and every book about running there is. I never followed anything, really. But Scott Spitz, the coach in question, is a guy I know, like, and respect. He has some PR's I'd unequivocally call fast, but that doesn't really matter as much as those other things. Simply, I'll do the workouts he tells me to do, because he tells me to do them. If he were a faster guy I didn't know, I'm not sure I would. It's a little strange, but is what it is.

March 17, 2015

Pi Day Progression

The thing about running the same race, year after year, is that it provides an objective marker by which to judge progress. There are variables, of course, beyond baseline fitness. But in general, it's the best we can do. And since I'm getting up there in my trail running years now - I'm only half joking - I've now got a race for which I can call up four results.

2011: 1:39:08

2012: Didn't run it

2013: 1:34:31

2014: 1:31:54

2015: 1:26:48

This is not remarkable progress, of course. No massive jump, hinting at a deep well of untapped abilities. But it does speak to how one can shave time, and eventually, the resulting cut seems pretty significant. I also think it's interesting that my biggest improvement came four years after my first running. Which could, if I'm being optimistic, suggest that I still have some progressing to do, and that I haven't quite leveled off. I turn 27 in two months, so I wouldn't expect physical abilities to deteriorate soon. That will happen, of course. Inevitably. And then regression will follow. But for now, I'll indulge myself with the fantasy of perpetual linear progress.

March 15, 2015

Pi Day Half Marathon

My hair is trying very hard to escape my skull, in this picture. But it didn't manage to do so. Everything is still attached, and I ran a 1:26:49 trail half marathon, and I'm really very happy about that. Mostly because that's 5:05 faster than I managed last year, on the same course. And I ran well, last year. At least I felt like I did. I certainly didn't feel better, or easier, or whatever, today. But I was faster, and that's ultimately what people grade these things by.

March 1, 2015

Screwing around on the Asics Japan website

So I guess it bears mentioning that I don't speak Japanese, and I sure as shit can't read kanji. But I wanted to check out the running shoe section on the Asics Japan website... because this is an exciting Saturday night, for me. Don't judge.

Anyway, I clicked on a couple shoes that don't exist in the States, the Sortiemagic, and the Skysensor. I guess you'd say both are racing flats. Scrolling down to the bottom of the latter shoe's page, you see this:

I've circled what I find amusing. (Click on the picture and it gets big enough to see clearly.) That is, you can use the Skysensor if you're an elite racer (30 minute 10k) or a challenger racer (40 minute 10k). If you're slower than that, I guess you aren't supposed to run in this shoe.

Checking the page for the Sortiemagic, which is lighter, it's only for elite racers. So for people like me, who are faster than 40 minutes, but slower than 30... too bad.

Clicking around the rest of the site, it doesn't seem that they have any "racer" categories other than those two. I find it really amusing to imagine how this category system would go over on an American website. Not well, is my guess.

February 24, 2015

Kansas gets the Ultrarunning Magazine cover. I think this is the second year in a row for Heartland. I imagine you can see why.

February 22, 2015

I haven't written in a while. Maybe you've noticed, and maybe you haven't. The funny thing is that my blog traffic really hasn't changed a ton, since my backlog of coffee posts has always drawn far more readers than any of my running business. Even though those posts are really quite old now, that's still the case. Which is cool. If somehow I'm still teaching someone what the fuck a cappuccino actually is, or getting someone to realize that geeking out about milk steaming is a thing people do, then I'm happy.

So what am I doing? Running. Writing. Still, just not mixing the two as much. I'm 95,000 words deep in an attempt at a novel. Which... I don't even really want to call it that, because a novel is a thing that exists outside of Google docs, and I don't expect this ever will. That's not a statement on my perception of its quality - though I'm not saying it's great either - so much as it's a statement about myself. That is, I really don't want anyone to read it, because, blogging aside, I'm really a very private person. And sharing fiction is an absurdly personal thing. More so, I think, than telling you what's actually happening in my life. (This is still true, I think, even if the work in question is very far away from autobiographical fiction, which this is.) So it's a big fucking Google doc that I don't anticipate sharing anywhere. Let's go with that. Naming conventions aside, I'm really enjoying the process. Which is the point, sort of.

I'm going to transition that into a brief aside about running. Because I'm enjoying that process too. I'm running well, consistently, and healthfully. (Healthfully? Healthily? How would you even say that? I'm not hurt. How about that?) The plan is to run a good road half in April. 'Good' being subject to my whims and mood at the time, probably. As with everything. But I'm feeling fit, so the time shouldn't suck.

As for the fall... I have no idea. The idea behind running (or attempting to run) a decent road half this spring was so I could spin that into an attempt at redeeming my disastrous first attempt at a road marathon. But right now, I don't really know. Running to fix a negative feels less interesting to me right now than just doing what I enjoy. And while that may seem an arbitrary dichotomy, it doesn't feel like one to me right now. So maybe I'll decide 'fuck it' and try a 100. Maybe I'll just stick with this half marathon stuff, because the training for it has me feeling really good, basically all the time. I don't know, but I really hope I'm done writing by then.

January 12, 2015

Hey time passed here are words about it

I'm the last person to come up with a "shit I did/liked in 2014" post, but here we go. Guess I needed a couple weeks to sort out my deep and complicated feelings. That said, here are not very many words, all things considered.


No TV or movies of note, for me. Because I'm a Luddite, I guess. Or becoming one. I'll see the new Star Wars movie. Maybe nothing til then.


Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley may not have been the best book I read last year, but it will certainly be the most memorable. First fantasy novel I've ever read (and I read almost exclusively "genre" fiction, cause I'm a nerd like that) that really explores beyond typical medieval European tropes. No humans (well, not exactly), elves, dwarves, goblins, etc. No binary gender roles or heteronormative assumptions. It's all fucking (emphasis on the fucking) weird, basically. And the plot races along, maybe too fast, with lots of things happening. Lots of bad things. Makes Game of Thrones look downright cheery. Even the good guys are cutting children in half, for example. And one protagonist is a genocidal maniac, who, over the course of the book, literally murders tens of thousands. So, yeah. Pretty brutal. Pretty fucked up. But so well done that it's compelling. (Tellingly, it's the only book I've seen make so many best and worst of '14 lists.) Can't wait for the next in the series, and the authors' upcoming sci fi trilogy.

I read a couple books a week, usually, so this section could get really long, if I let it. So we're stopping at one.


Best album is impossible for me. Most memorable, even, is hard to guess. I'd chose Mare Cognitum's Phobos Monolith if I had to, but I don't have to. It's the best in spacy, atmospheric, truly progressive black metal. Just sit in bed, post long run, no food, no water, and bliss out on endorphins and sound. So fucking good.

So, we're also going with most listened to. Probably. They're from 2012 and 2013 respectively, but whatever.

I know anyone who reads this just sort of endures my music posts, so enough of that. 


Running, huh? How about that.

I did some. Ran a good half marathon in March. Won it. Pretty much it, in terms of racing.

Had a trip to Colorado, went up and down a couple mountains. That was more fun, and ultimately more satisfying.

Had a stress fracture. Nasty little bitch. Two cracks in my left fibula. Did more damage to my brain, however. Really drove home how important hobby jogging is to my sanity, which is pretty terrifying, if you think about it at all.

I think about it a lot. Which is why the stress fracture ended my "all racing flats, all the time" approach to running. Coulda predicted something would break, I suppose. Probably, people did. But sometimes you need to touch the stove, to see if it's hot for yourself.

There were nutritional considerations, as well as training things, also. I can own my own dumb shit. But I have learned to love the heel strike, as it were. First shoe I bought, when back, was the Adidas Energy Boost, which is an overpriced gimmick.

Or so I thought. Put it on. Feet loved it. Bought it. Begrudgingly. (And at a 25% discount.) That was June. Still using it 99% of my miles. No visible midsole wear at all, and still feels soft but snappy. Upper is coming off in a couple spots, and the outsole is about gone in places too. But still. Turns out that, for me at least, the overpriced gimmick totally delivered.

Training at the end of '14 was the best it's ever been, but we'll see how that translates, going forward. I just know that six minute pace feels about like seven minute pace did in the Spring.


I ate a lot of apples. Drank a lot of coffee. More of these things, going forward.

January 3, 2015

2015 is here and I'm writing about it, but not really

I ran a 5K in 17:53, which I'm reticent to "count", because it was just me and a concrete bike path. Sometimes you have to buff the ego though, so there we have it. Buffed. (Certified course, so it's not a total bullshit time.) Training is going well. Funny thing about that, I'm finding that the more I obsess over things other than running, the better my running gets. Forcing myself to read fiction - or unrelated nonfiction - instead of pouring over training stuff seems to have given me a sense of balance.


Won a $120 "Asics shoes only" gift card at the local running store. Now, need to find Asics I like. (Or someone I like, to give it to. Do I actually like anyone though? Hmm...)


My brother ended up making good progress on his quest to build a school in Zambia, where he's living presently. Ended up getting $5400, which, with local contributions (and his own) factored in, should be enough to get the job done. Thanks to anyone who clicked on over from either my blog or twitter. I'm checking with him to see if there's any way to continue to give money, even now that the official fundraiser is over. If there is, I'll post about it here. (Thanks in advance.)

Related: I absolutely do sometimes wonder what I'm doing with my life to make the world a more decent place. (Nothing. The answer is that I'm doing nothing. That's... probably not great.)


Trying to write fiction. Fucking hard. Discovering I really don't know how to make things happen. Kind of a problem, yeah? I write dialogue pretty well, and "scenes" ok. But making that all move towards something... eh.