Monday, October 12, 2015

the old runaround

i'm still running.

i just don't write about it much.

prolly because my events since june have been kinda uneventful.

in july, there was the seafair 8k. a fun run with my friend michel, who was getting trained up to race for the first time in a year. i thought, "i'll just hang back and run with michel, and not worry about my time." ha. turns out, michel is fast. i had to work my butt off to keep up with him through the streets of seattle, whilst he was frolicking like a kid. see what happens when you assume?

in august i ran the columbia winery 10k. a fundraiser with my friend molly, who was coming back from an injury. not being one to learn from past mistakes, i again thought, "i'll just hang back and run with molly, and not worry about my time." turns out, that's exactly how it went. we meandered along the sammamish river trail, chatted about this and that, and had a nice time. not a good time, time-wise, but a nice time.

when september rolled around i hadn't run particularly long, or hilly, since the deception pass marathon (the first week of june). not-perfect training for the cle elum ridge 30k. this race, a laid-back affair on the east side of the cascades, features 3700 feet of climbing (most of it in the first few miles). the views and contours reminded me of the front range of colorado; lots of rolling hills, ponderosa pines, and big rocks. the only thing lacking was the mile-high altitude and thinner air.

it turned out to be a great day. sunny, not too warm, with miles of runnable terrain. we could've done without the dirt bikers on the trail...but i'm sure they weren't thrilled to see us, either. not being familiar with the course, my 3.5 hour goal time was completely arbitrary...but i finished in 3:28. self-fulfilling prophesy or past-life experience?

october. two events on the calendar: magnolia run the bluff, and the gunstock trails half marathon. one is our neighborhood 10k, the other is on the north shore of oahu. almost the same thing...
feeling runner-ish at the run the bluff 10k.
photo courtesy of glenn tachiyama.

at last year's run the bluff i surprised myself with a PR for 10k (44:something), even though it's a hilly course. "so what's your goal for this year?" i was asked a couple times. "uh, 43:something?" i answered lamely. no, i didn't believe that. at all. too many slow trail miles, no speed training, no chance.

see what happens when you assume? i went 43:15, shaving more than a minute and a half off last year's time. i have no explanation.

[gunstock trails is oct. 17. report to follow.]

which leaves november and december.

early this year i became emboldened by ambitious friends with audacious goals. they were busy planning and signing up for big, worthy events and it occurred to me that i should do something similar (within my scope, of course). if not now, after all, when? when i'm 55? 60? these legs, while mostly willing and usually reliable, are not getting younger.

so, i decided to attempt five events of 26.2 miles or longer in 2015 (up from two such distances in 2014). that was the goal-setting part.

the goal-achieving began in march with the chuckanut 50k. it continued in may and june with the sun mountain 50k and the DP marathon.

in december i'm signed up for the deception pass 50k, but november is still undecided. the three most likely options:

bellingham trail marathon ~ nov. 7
(a challenging course on some familiar trails)

kill bill's oyster dome 50k ~ nov.14
(four 50Ks in a year would be a huge leap for me)

seattle marathon ~ nov. 29 
(logistically the easiest, and just two weeks before deception, a good long training run for 50k)

i can't decide.


cle elum ridge 30k

3/6 (m: 50-59)
16/52 overall
shoes: altra lone peak 2.5

run the bluff 10k

1/10 (m: 50-59)
13/186 overall
shoes: hoka clifton

Monday, August 24, 2015

off the rails

"my use of racist jargon doesn't make me a racist. besides, i was talking about asian people."
~ jeb bush

"lunch is served. won't you dine with us?" ~ the napa valley white train

"i said, 'now, baby, have you got no shame?' she just looked at me uncomprehendingly, like cows at a passing train."
 ~ don henley
not a day goes by.

not. one. day.

...that some lowbrow, low down, low-life caucasian americans don't embarrass themselves in front of the whole wide world, and cause the rest of humanity to painfully cringe.

at a time when most sentient americans are ready to shine a bright light on boorish and bigoted behavior to prevent its recurrence...some reprobates among us are undeterred. 

and we wonder why donald trump continues to poll so well among a certain constituency.
cringe #1: jeb bush uses an offensive term to describe a nonexistent problem, tells people not to be so sensitive about offensive terms.

"When told, in Spanish, that many in the Latino community consider 'anchor baby' an offensive slur, Bush rolled his eyes and replied in Spanish: 'Look, I know Hillary Clinton is attacking me for using that term, but it is ludicrous to suggest I’m using a derogatory term. Frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children, and taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship.'"


...i assume we're cool, right, jeb?

cringe #2: a tourism train company with a long history of solicitously accommodating drunken behavior by customers boots a women's book club off the train, allegedly for "physical and verbal abuse toward other guests and staff." in what can only be described as a strange coincidence, most of the women in the book club were black.

the company defended its actions in a post on facebook...but later removed the post when other accounts of the events begin to surface.

“I'd like to think it wasn't a racially motivated act, but given the fact that other, non-black guests were behaving in the same way and not removed, I can only conclude that it was discrimination.”

"verbal and physical abuse."
sounds like one tough book club.

turns out it's really hard to get booted off the wine train. in fact, no one can seem to recall it happening. from yelp (via slate)...

  • A 2010 post complained of a group of six people “yelling loudly over each other in Italian,” who were apparently not kicked off the train.
  • A 2011 post complained that the “loud party sitting near us began getting sick” and said the complaining couple were reseated.
  • A 2011 post describes “two loud drunk couples whom multiple people asked the maitre'd politely to move and she asked them but they said they were ok. There were lots of complaints and the couples were talking loudly and inappropriately.” The group was not removed from the train, and they weren’t even moved to the empty dining car.
  • A 2012 post complained that “older ladies” on the train were loud and one was flashing people, and they were apparently not removed.

  • in its uniquely endearing way, the internet is stepping in to, uh, help the wine train folks upgrade their hospitality. recent yelp reviews of the company are exquisitely scathing, and its facebook pages are drowning in scorn.

    but here we are, days after the fact, and the napa valley wine train has yet to admit it jumped the tracks. disastrously.
    it's been almost fifty years since the rev. martin luther king gave his life in the cause of racial justice and equality. and while much lip service has been paid in the intervening decades, it's painfully obvious that little actual progress has been made.

    ill-mannered and bone-ignorant white folks still hold undeserved positions of authority and responsibility...and not a day goes by that non-white folks don't pay a price for having the "misfortune" not to be born more pale.

    Thursday, August 20, 2015

    that's the best you could do?

    last evening on a group run through discovery park, we passed a car at a stop sign.

    "faggots!" yelled a male voice from the car.

    it's unclear if he believed all runners are gay, or if we were just running in a particularly gay way.

    regardless, we laughed, and figured it was the best he could do on short notice. or that perhaps "run, forrest, run" was beyond his verbal abilities.

    poor thing.

    law of the jungle

    the most dangerous animal on the planet
    is a human with a gun.
    bear does what bears do, must be killed for it.

    cops caught on camera kill indiscriminately, often with no charges filed.

    go figure.

    Thursday, July 30, 2015


    “where attention goes, energy flows.”
    ~ somebody

    humans are screwing up the world at a frantic pace, and it occurs to us that it's probably a good idea to seek out some un-screwed places before they, too, are ruint.

    the converse of this, of course, is that there are still some spectacular, unspoilt places out there, and we want to see them before we're ruint.

    cuba, fer-instance. 
    this guy visited cuba.
    why not us?

    until very recently, garden-variety americans were more or less prohibited from visiting this caribbean island 93 miles from our shores. because, communism. canadians and europeans vacationed there willy-nilly without turning into neo-reds, but not americans. they're made of stronger stuff than we are, apparently.

    but, now! now american politicians are warming to the idea that decades of ignoring cuba achieved exactly nothing, and maybe it's time to let american corporations swoop in and disney-fy the whole place. because, capitalism.

    it's our speculation that the speed at which disneyfication will occur will spin heads and break the island. and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will be gone like arctic ice. thus our sense of urgency.

    reasons to visit cuba, besides the through-the-looking-glass, so-50-years-ago cultural aspects:
    this might be a good place to run.
    just a guess.

    Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

    "Complex geology and varied topography have given rise to a diversity of ecosystems and species unmatched in the insular Caribbean and created one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on earth."

    "With the recent thaw in US-Cuba relations, it's easier than ever for American runners to participate in the Marabana Havana Marathon on Nov. 15."

    there are other places we're contemplating, and for convenience they all begin with the letter C. i don't know why. coincidence, perhaps.

    in no particular order...

    see crete on your feet.

    featured prominently in christopher mcdougal's new book "natural born heroes," crete is the birthplace of zeus and theseus and ariadne. also, see "cradle of western civilization." apparently you can get some darn good food in crete, as well.

    and, trails.


    the croatian island of hvar has been compared to anguilla, bali, bora-bora, and kauai. favorably compared, it's probably important to note. we haven't been to any of those places, but they don't begin with "C," so they don't make our current list. some other time, awesome places.

    its history is tied to the greeks and romans, and its wines are alleged to be world-class. again, we've not tried them, but are willing to do extensive research.

    and, again, trails.

    not cannes. but definitely
    somewhere c
    ôte d'azur.

    this is, i realize, a reach. cannes is a touristy french city, and not really our cup of C. but it is in the south of france, a region we would love to visit again. from aix to antibes to nice to vence...i mean, france. especially the wine and cheese.

    and, trails.

    restrospect: yes, i know. côte d'azur. thanks.

    we have the energy for these places right this second. now all we need is the time and the money.

    proper attention to follow.

    Friday, July 17, 2015

    fighting words

    "What is it I really want to achieve? What direction will I go? What really excites me? What would I fight for?"

    ~ anna frost, 2015 winner, hardrock 100

    "imma have a little nap right here..."
    what do you think scott jurek did when he woke up on day 47?

    that'd be the day after his record-setting, 2,189-mile journey on the appalachian trail.

    scott (flailing covers): shit, we overslept! what time is it? gotta go gotta go gotta go...!
    jenny: scott, it's okay! you finished! you're all done, baby.
    scott (groggily): finished...
    jenny: all done.
    scott: i don't hafta do 50 miles today?
    jenny: babe, you don't have to do any miles today.
    scott (wipes tears): omigod...all done.
    jenny: all done.
    scott (pauses): wull...what do i do now?

    jurek beat the previous record, set by jennifer pharr davis, by about three hours. three hours, over a span of 46 days, is a teeny-tiny slice of time.

    but it's still quite a bit more than six seconds. which is the margin by which gunhild swanson completed the 2015 western states endurance race before the 30-hour cutoff. six seconds, over the course of 100 miles. if she lingers one second longer at six aid stations...she doesn't make it (intensely awesome video here).

    and of course six seconds is more than one second. which is the margin by which bogie dumitrescu finished the 2015 hardrock 100 before the 48-hour cutoff. that's...well, that's just ridiculous. (heart-pumping video here).
    anna frost won at hardrock, an amazing pinnacle at an event most runners never dream of, let alone reach. 

    and while the others didn't "win" anything in their respective adventures, they still achieved something spectacular. they answered frost's elemental question, "what would I fight for?" and the rest was simply action becoming its own reward.

    the kind of reward that is visceral and lasting and (the best part) accessible to anyone. 

    "What would I fight for?"

    it's a great, defining question, no matter how you apply it to your life. 

    a couple friends of mine, for example, are inexhaustibly determined to run western states. their planning and training and resolve are constant and inspired. other friends are gearing up for different 100-mile races. a couple more are ironman triathletes, devoting enormous time and energy to the demands of those events.

    i find myself awed by and slightly envious of these folks because, standing here right this second, i can't identify any personal goal i would fight for with that kind of passion. as you might imagine, this realization is somewhat, um, disturbing.

    "the whole reason I do these things is to find that inner strength when I least expected I had it."
    ~ scott jurek

    well, that's a reason. i would've thought scott had found that inner strength so many times by now that he'd need to make up some other reasons. ANY other reasons. 

    but that's coming from me, the guy who can't think of that "one thing" that he'd go all-in for. who proceeded to get himself all sideways and inside-out because surely there must be something and if there's not then that's just laziness or some other failing to be remedied right quick.

    and just when the inner choir was really getting warmed up ("unacceptable! unacceptable! hallelujah! hallelujah! un-ax-sept-ah-bullll!!"), my friend laura posted this: 

    "we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

    ~ t.s. eliot

    never underestimate the power of one quiet line at the right time. taking a deep breath, reading it again, the turmoil dissipated, and i laughed at me. eliot's quote reminded me of something i already knew, a lesson i had already learned, one that is apparently all too easy to forget.

    in the same way we all learn at different speeds...we discover the things we'd fight for at different times. they may come and go, and change over time...but you get yours when you're ready.

    the journey, the act of moving along the arc, is what prepares us for those moments.  

    in the meantime, the exploration is its own reward.

    gear up.

    "cherish the experience. and hold the record lightly.”
    ~ jennifer pharr davis' message to scott jurek

    Saturday, June 27, 2015

    the killing will continue

    "institutional racism no longer exists in this country."

    ~ lots of white people

    "guns are not the problem in this country."


    "the scariest animals on the planet are white americans with guns."

    ~ me

    after nine black parishioners were shot dead by a white racist in an historic black church in charleston, south carolina, gop presidential hopefuls reacted:

    "i don't know" if the self-proclaimed racist shooter was motivated by racism. ~ jeb bush

    “i just think he was one of these whacked out kids. i don’t think it’s anything broader than that.” ~ lindsay graham

    "this is the M.O. of this administration anytime there is a accident like this. you know, the president's clear. he doesn't like for americans to have guns." ~ rick perry

    "this type of conduct is something that only our display of our own love and good faith that’s in our heart can change. laws can’t change this." ~ chris christie

    from the pro-gun, christians-are-persecuted "news" channel, this:

    “we’re urging people wait for the facts, don’t jump to conclusions, because there does seem to be a rising hostility against christians across this country because of our biblical views."

    ~ e.w. jackson, fox and friends

    and from the paper by and for privileged white people...

    "the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by dr. king no longer exists."  ~ the wall street journal

    “our country has changed.”
    ~ chief supreme court justice john roberts in shelby county v. holder

    one might be forgiven for thinking that roberts, in his cloistered, privileged, lily-white world has no earthly idea what he's talking about.

    he'll certainly have a hard time convincing the countless families of african americans killed by police every year.

    interesting fact: no one knows how many people are killed by police in america every year. think about that for awhile. being killed by police is a pretty specific cause of death. and, being public servants and all, cops are required to write reports on just about everything they do.

    but somehow, at a time when the NSA digitally records everything americans do 'round the clock...we don't know how many people are killed by cops in a given year, "...because of the way agencies count and report data." 
    what we do know, however, is that black folks are "about four times as likely to die in custody or while being arrested than whites." and we know this

    ", a simple website that records mainstream media accounts of shootings as they occur, assembles them in a barebones database.
    "The website started counting police shootings in 2013, and has a complete list for 2014. There’s a good chance that the website has missed some deaths, but for our purposes it’s better that the totals are too low than too high.
    "KilledByPolice also notes when a news story includes information about gender and race of a victim. Not all news stories have that information, so again, the actual number of black victims is probably higher.
    "But based on a count of news stories collected at KilledByPolice, there were at least 238 deaths of black Americans by police in 2014."
    to sum up, lots of people being killed in america, disproportionately more black folks than white. lots of them being killed by cops, which sounds lot like institutional racism.

    but according to the cream of the conservative white people crop, we shouldn't jump to conclusions because we're not sure any of this stuff is actually happening.

    in the meantime, the killing will continue.

    Thursday, June 25, 2015


    medical science is not advancing as quickly as I thought.

    it's been nine years since pancreatic cancer took my mother-in-law from us. 

    and now it's got my brother-in-law as well.

    it's still a death sentence.