Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the happy scam

well, so much for 2015...
happy new year.

whatever that means.

see, even though most people are out there pursuing happiness, talking about it, wishing it on others ~ i don't get it.

even harvard medicine is in the happy business. from this morning's email:

"Discover the positive steps you can take to defeat the daily threats to happiness and add greater satisfaction, meaning, and joy to your life."

Positive Psychology

"You don't have to pursue happiness. Make it come to you — starting today!"

happiness, with an exclamation point. from the smart folks at harvard medical school. whose tagline is "trusted advice for a healthier life."

thanks, harvard. whatever.

if your goal is constant state of smiley bliss...get used to disappointment. or get some really good drugs. because that state doesn't exist in nature.

what does exist?

peace of mind.

you (and i and everyone else) could realistically achieve peace of mind in 2015. and even if you fell short, you wouldn't have to be disappointed. because if you fumble peace of mind and kick it around awhile and trip over the cat and slide across the floor on your face...you can still get up, brush yourself off, apply some neosporin, and discover in the process that your peace of mind was right there in your hands the entire time.

it's weird like that.

how to achieve peace of mind: let it go. whatever "it" is. it's out of your control anyway, so quit worrying about it. viola! peace of mind. caveat: if it's in your control, whatever "it" is, then you can do something about it. start doing whatever can be done...viola! peace of mind.

deprive discontent of oxygen and viola! peace of mind.

that formula again: let it go. or do something about it.

do one or the other and there's a good chance you'll find yourself experiencing a subset of peace of mind, one that's fleeting, but still kind of fun...happiness.

disclaimer: all the above is what i tell myself. i would never presume to say it'll work for anyone but me, because i'm weird and we're all weird and everyone is weird in different ways. what i will say is, "it works for me."

Friday, December 26, 2014

road hard, still wet

the road, rising up to meet me.
thankfully, not face-first.
"growing up i always thought quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem than it turned out to be."

~ john mulaney

"fortune favors the prepared mind."

~ louis pasteur


reflective observation: quicksand takes many forms.

many of which capable of dragging down the unwary and the unlucky. 

tromping through treacherous terrain, fortune favors those who travel with a vine.

this kind. not this kind.


if only i were as fast as the manner in which 2014 has flown by.

uh, i'd be pretty damn fast.

as a general matter, though, i don't need any more "fast" in my life. i need some slow. i need our little corner of the world to step back, take a deep breath, and hold on a minute while i absorb and process. somehow i don't see that happening.

scientific observation suggests that 2014 went by faster than any year in recorded history. not really. i can't back that up. still...fast.

because the year went by the way it did...i didn't run as much as i intended to. my goal was 1,500 miles. but even as i was typing it out, one year ago, i knew it was a stretch. sure enough, with a few december days remaining, i'll be very fortunate to hit 1,200.

c'est la vie. on the upside, i did reach the rest of my very-modest running-related goals.

first trail marathon: 
first trail 50k: 
at least one organized event per month: 
(32 months and counting. not that i'm counting.)

as was the case last year, i saw some spectacular sights in 2014, things i would never have seen if not for the running. i roamed around some of the most scenic islands our little planet has to offer (oahu, whidbey, fidalgo, and orcas). i ran past saguaro in arizona, and bougainvillea in lanikai. i reveled in the beauty of washington state parklands from bellingham to the issaquah alps to the methow valley.

on the downside, i also went through a months-long slump where running felt like a slog. my energy was low and my legs just felt kind of...blah. physical? mental? i don't know...but i do know it didn't keep me from buying more running shoes (thanks, seven hills running!). either way, with the daytime hours finally heading back into the light...the doldrums have lifted. i'm enjoying running again, i feel much stronger, and i'm looking forward to kicking things up a notch in 2015. 

a new list taped to my computer says things like "chuckanut 50k," "sun mountain 50k," "san francisco marathon," and "oregon coast 50k."

if i can check off a few of those in the coming months, it'll be a very good year. more specific goal: four events of 26.2 or longer. twice as many as in 2014.

i have much work to do.

full disclosure: in the back of my mind the idea of a 50-mile event has begun percolating. i believe i have it in me to handle the distance...but i'm completely unclear how my life would allow me to prepare for it.

three dogs, two cats, two kids, a house, a job, and a loving wife all demand and deserve a full measure of attention. sitting here, it's hard to imagine where a full measure of 50-mile training would come from.

still, it's there. persistent. and percolating.

related contextual note: watch a few of these gorgeous videos from project talaria and see why the pacific northwest is the best place on the planet. for running. and other things. really.

there are many other topics suitable (or more suitable) for a year-end post. i've written much in the last 12 months, for example, about gun violence. and injustice in our "nation of laws." and homelessness.

segueway: there's a homeless man living under the bridge a hundred yards from our house. i share this because we live in a nice neighborhood in a prosperous city in what we tell ourselves is the greatest nation on earth...and there's a homeless man living under a bridge. a hundred yards away from here.

i've spoken to him many times. his name is darryl, and he's a quiet, pleasant man. living under a bridge. a hundred steps away.

it's winter, and it's cold at night, so i worry about him. i take him fleece blankets and sweaters and gloves and food. i think he loses these things over time, so i take him more. we chat, and it occurs to me that he's probably wrestling with a degree of mental illness. occasionally he mentions he'll only be in seattle for a while, until the government gets him a new body.

then we change the subject. i ask him if he needs anything. "a couple bucks," he sometimes says. i give him whatever i have in my pocket, tell him to stay warm, and that i'll see him soon. he shakes my hand, and says thank you. he always says thank you.

i mention this only because it's quicksand, and i'm unprepared, and i don't know what else to do.

as noted above, quicksand takes many forms. and to one degree or another, we're all in it.

time to run.

Friday, December 19, 2014

truth and deception

awesome visual chronicling courtesy of glenn tachiyama.
you could do a lot worse than bookending your year with a couple of rainshadow running events.

i started 2014 with the orcas island 25k, and ended it with another 25k at deception pass.

in between, across many months, were some reallyreally good miles (and some not-quite-as-good), but none were more enjoyable than the 15.3 at deception.

unlike february's 20-miler at fort ebey, for example, there were no howling winds flying through the strait of juan de fuca. unlike the hillbilly half, there was no gunfire flying through the trees overhead. 

and unlike july's marathon at chuckanut mountain, at no time did i feel like i was hanging on for dear life just to finish.

to sum up: while all miles are good in their own way...these were exceptional.

the DP 25k course is a bouquet of six lollipops spread out over deception pass state park. water views are everywhere ~ some from high above the shoreline, some right down on the beach. overall the route is very runnable, with about 3,100 feet of elevation to make it even more interesting.

you get to run around places called goose rock and bowman bay. you pass 'pass lake' and run across the breathtaking deception pass bridge ~ twice. from that vantage point you see deception island and strawberry island and if you're lucky, a huge bald eagle sitting in a tall tree situated far below your feet.

you parkour over downed trees across sweet single track trails, and skitter over slick rocks scraped clean the last time glaciers roamed these parts. and you do it all with a smile on your face, because running around like feral children is lots of fun.

with less than 5k to go i started feeling a little, uh, devitalized. thankfully, a gel and some water turned me right-side-up again in what felt like seconds. maybe it was the gel, or maybe it was the placebo effect ~ either way, i finished feeling strong, with no post-race effects in the the days after.

which got me thinking: maybe the way to bookend 2015 would be...the deception pass 50k.*

(fast voiceover): *assuming i stay healthy, time permitting, with the kind permission of the missus, see store for details, void where prohibited, member FDIC.

this is the part where i thank the volunteers and the folks at rainshadow running. because they did a great job and they always do and we've sort of come to expect it but hold on a minute because the fact is...

...it's kind of a big deal. 

no event of this size and complexity is easy. they make it look easy, but you know that means there's a ton of heavy lifting done by a lot of people to make it look that way. before, during, and after. not to mention that they turned out at oh-dark-thirty the very next day to do it all over again for the 50k.

if we agree (and i'm sure we do) that every mile is a gift, and every moment counts...rainshadow running gifted me many miles and amazing moments in 2014. you could do much worse than that, but you can't do much better.

i am endlessly grateful.

deception pass 25k

mental difficulty: (insert beach-y ukulele tune here)

perceived exertion: see "this guy" ------------------------->
jaw-dropping views: plenty
fun had: sideways 8



64/285 (overall)
4/38 (50-59)

or, "rocks below, do not throw people." i mean, obviously.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

temperature check

(the song stuck in my head the entire race.)

saturday, nov. 15, 2015
grand ridge half marathon

this time was different.

my last experience at grand ridge ~ a dim, dreary, exhausted slog a year ago ~ was not fun. from the moment i arrived to the moment i crossed the finish line, i just wanted to be done. looking back, it's not so much that the experience was bad...it's that my attitude sucked.


today, as noted, was different. bright, sunny, and cold. cold as a new york city winter. colder than the siberian (not-so-permanent) permafrost. but not as cold as the internet reaction to kim kardashian's butt.

still, it was cold.
mile 3-ish. i was warm.
(photo courtesy of takao suzuki)

the starting area was in the shade until a few minutes before the start, and runners milling about shivered and kvetched on frozen ground.

by 9 a.m., however, the sun rose high enough over tree and hill to blast the north side of I-90 ~ the difference was spectacular. cold-weather gear-related note: black running attire heats up quickly in sunlight. metabolic-physiology note: running generates heat, as well.

aside from knocking a few minutes off last year's time, my goals this day were modest:

  1. finish
  2. have fun
  3. don't fall down a lot

these are not audacious goals, i realize, but achieving them is always better than not. falling on the frozen trail would've been particularly noisome ~ not too different from tumbling on broken concrete. it would've made for some interesting road rash, though.

according to the nice folks at evergreen trail runs, there's about 2000 feet of elevation over the half marathon course. it seemed like more, but that's probably because there isn't a lot of flat ground at grand ridge. you're either running uphill or downhill most of the time. plus, there's a lot of avoiding other runners heading out-and-back on singletrack trail, which adds to the illusion of extra effort. 

no, come to think of it, it wasn't an illusion. in the name of good trail running etiquette, i spent a lot of time sidestepping and smiling and saying "thank you" and "nice job." i'm polite that way.

sidebar: as it's only a half-hour from our house, why don't i run grand ridge more often? aside from the fact that discovery park is three minutes away, i mean.


in conclusion, i did finish, i did have fun, and i did improve on last year's time (sort of). late in the race i saw my friend kira walking up the hill, and since i hadn't seen her in months we walked and chatted for a few minutes. yes, it was a race, but it's not like the digression cost me a spot on the podium.

so, on a technicality, two minutes slower than last year. but who's counting?



42/249 (overall)
3/15 (M 50-59)

Friday, November 07, 2014

general weirdness

"gentlemen, i wash my hands of this weirdness."
"i have no sympathy for any of you feculent maggots, and no more patience to pretend otherwise."

~ captain jack sparrow


for eight years, republicans endorsed every act of piracy committed by the bush administration.

it got so bad that americans would've elected a tree stump, it seemed, rather than tolerate more years of national humiliation and depredation. instead, in a brief moment of clarity, we elected a brilliant, charming, steady constitutional law professor from illinois. and for a few shining moments it seemed the pendulum might swing back and away from our self-inflicted calamity.

that didn't *quite* happen.

time and again the brilliant law professor, self-cast as conciliator-in-chief, extended a hand across the aisle to work with the loyal opposition (if by "loyal opposition" you mean "ravening band of hard-right zombies still in search of brains amongst themselves or their constituents").

each time, he pulled back a stump.

and yet he tried. well beyond the point that a reasonable person might say, "bite me once, shame on you. bite me dozens of times, sod off you rabid obstructionist anti-american faux-christian cretins." 

or, you know, words to that effect. because he's a diplomat and i'm not.

but he didn't do that. he just. kept. reaching. even as the opposition kept gnawing. their stated goal: to thwart every initiative, every attempt to govern, every exhortation to do the jobs for which legislators are elected.

time passed, stuff happened. and despite the efforts of the zombies, the pendulum did swing. wars were (mostly) concluded. broad-scale healthcare was implemented (sort of). the economy recovered (for some people) and the stock market soared (for rich people). 

and, as they adorably do every 15 minutes or so, americans forgot the past.

they forgot how long it took to dig out from under the pile of crap heaped on us by the last republican administration. and that, actually, we're still digging.

they forgot the last time the GOP was in charge, america tortured helpless prisoners.

they forgot that the GOP hates women. and gays. and minorities. and poor people. and healthcare. and the environment.

they forgot that for the past 6 years republicans did everything they could to stall the economy and shut down the government...including actually shutting down the government.

and so, because americans have a tragicomically short attention span, in november, 2014, they put the GOP back in charge of congress.

{steps back, takes a deep breath, considers options}

or, maybe i'm wrong. 

maybe american voters are extremely bright. maybe electing 31 GOP governors and handing the united states senate over to republicans was done intentionally and with great premeditation. because things worked out so well the last time these folks were in charge, i imagine.

at this juncture, i'm extremely content to let you decide. because for the next year at least...i'll be over here trying to wash off the incredulity.


“Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%. Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.”

~ david letterman

Saturday, October 18, 2014

first-world frills

kristin armstrong (famously and formerly mrs. lance armstrong) writes a column for runner's world magazine. i sometimes begin her essays by rolling my eyes, as her themes can be, uh, cloying.

but i read them. because by the end she almost always wins me over with her relentless sincerity and a genuinely perceptive insight or two. and i think, "she got me again. i don't know how, but she did."

this one, for example:

"There is a vast difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up implies a spirit of 'I don’t care,' ~ letting go implies 'I care so much that I won’t do this anymore.'"

today, it was this innocuous thought experiment:

"I decided to write down a list of little luxuries in my gratitude journal, thinking I would have about ten or fifteen. Once I got started I simply could not stop...and I suddenly remembered everything I loved. We forget sometimes, in our rush to do everything and be everywhere for everyone."
at first i dismissed the whole thing as silly. a 'gratitude journal'? is that even a real thing? (editorial note: it is a real thing, and i know it's a real thing, but...seriously?) then i read her list and thought, "whatever, fine, it might be interesting."

it turns out i have a list...

recently washed dogs. an unexpected and spectacular progress report from the boy's school. nonchalant scholastic overachievement by the girl. grocery shopping. being the designated dinner-maker. a closet full of running gear. new running shoes. breakfast at serendipity. the magnolia farmers market. friday afternoons. sleeping in on sunday. time devoid of commitment. moments of clarity. fresh pineapple. crispy kale. running in the rain. a quick commute. telling someone, "nice job" and watching them light up. helping out the homeless guy at the i-5 on-ramp. helping out any homeless person. writing. carving out time to read a book. updating my running log. researching two 50k races for 2015. two cats in the yard. crossing a finish line. naps. hugs from the girl. an occasional smile from the boy. not taking any of these things for granted.

and finally, this twitter account... https://twitter.com/A_single_bear 

there are more, and i've discovered i could spend a long time compiling them. not that i needed a reminder how ridiculously fortunate we are that any of the above are true. i'm aware of them every day. 

it's a good list.

she got me again.

Friday, October 17, 2014

why we can't have nice things...

in one priceless rant, a self-professed christian-american patriot demonstrates why we can't have nice things in this country...

"I don't give a crap if folks are atheist because, well, they are idiots. But why do they get their panties in a wad anytime someone says a prayer or there is a mention of God anywhere?

"I'm beginning to think all these atheist groups are really secret Christian groups because all they do is rally the believers.

"Oh, separation of church and state, blah blah blah. Oh, the poor kid who doesn't believe feels sad and ostracized. Blah blah blah. Guess what - everyone feels like the odd man out sometimes. We are all offended by someone or something sometimes. It doesn't mean that everything has to be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

"My rant for the day. It's been building."
how much un-american, un-christ-like, unthinking goodness did you spot?
1. atheists are hyperventilating idiots
"you just don't get it, do you?"
2. to hell with the u.s. constitution 
3. to hell with kids who feel ostracized
4. some people dumb things down to the lowest common denominator

let's add one more from the article linked in the rant:
"The granite monument at the Madison County High School football field contains the Bible verses 'If God be for us, who can be against us?'"

5. god cares which team wins high school football games

jesus and the founders would be so proud.

Monday, October 06, 2014

running the 'hood

"am i the first old guy to go past here?"
this was a good day, mostly.

the magnolia run the bluff 10k, absent in 2013, came back strong this year. the course passed right by our house, which would've been convenient had i decided to bail after 2 miles.

thankfully it didn't come to that.

the top finishers put up a sub-5:40/mi pace, which is moving pretty quickly for a neighborhood 10k. especially in this neighborhood, which is built on some respectable hills.

i was not among the top finishers.

technicality: let the record show i finished first...among the old guys (50-59). there's something to be said for that, but i'm not sure what.

more importantly, i established a PR for the 10k distance, 7 seconds faster than my time at the columbia winery 10k in august. that course was flat as a pancake, flat as a board, flat as the globe at the offices of the flat earth society. which is to say, pretty flat.

so, a new PR on an un-flat course is kind of gratifying.

about mile three (at the top of a semi-long climb), my stomach started to protest. and i thought, "it's a good thing i didn't eat anything this morning, because i'd be seeing it again." i also knew i'd feel better five minutes after i stopped, so i stayed focused on my turnover and tried to stay out of my own head. surprisingly, this worked pretty well for the next couple miles.

which brings us to the part that wasn't so good...

with about a mile to go, i saw my friend jon and his dog go-go, who had been running ahead of me from the start. go-go (a big boxer and surprisingly strong trail runner) was clearly distressed, and plopped down at jon's feet. he picked her up and tried to urge her along, but she wasn't having it and plopped down again. actually, "collapsed" is the word that went through my head, and i had a really unpleasant flashback to the moment one of our big golden retrievers went down a few years ago. that didn't end well.

jon and go-go.
(photos by glenn tachiyama.)
"jon, do you need help?" i asked as i approached. "no, she's just overheated. thanks, though."

i kept going, but didn't feel good about it. turns out go-go ended up in critical care for "extreme dehydration." the vet gave her IV fluids and plasma overnight, and this morning jon reported that she was coming home and "should be back to 100% soon."


with a half mile to go, i felt surprisingly strong. my stomach was no worse, and my pace was as good as i had any right to expect. coming around the last turn to the finish line, i could hear someone behind me, and decided i didn't want to be passed this late in the race. i crossed the finish line at as close to a sprint as i could manage, smiling. 

all of which brings us back to where we started...it was a good day.

magnolia run the bluff 10k

44:48 (7:14 min/mi) ~ PR
31/175 (overall)
1/8 (m 50-59)

Friday, October 03, 2014

家に来なさい !!

japan is a long way from seattle.

and when the missus journeys there on business for nine days, she may as well be on the moon.

recent discoveries about japan:

  • text messages must swim to get there; it can take days for them to arrive
  • an 18-hour time difference (plus two busy schedules) makes phone contact nigh impossible
  • there are beer vending machines in japan. beer vending machines!
  • at the monkey park it's the people who are caged
"aww, look at the cute human. she's almost simian!"
other things i know about japan:

when the missus is there, i sleep a lot less. i go to bed later and get up earlier, trying to keep the wheels on our life.

when the missus is there, getting a mortgage refinanced is a lot more complicated.

when the missus is there, completing a tax return takes much longer than the CPA (who is heading to fiji) has time for.

when the missus is there, i have to clean out the litter box.

it's that last one i enjoy the least.

no matter which of us is gone, nine days is a long time ~ especially to be unreachable halfway around the world. but, this is what we've signed up for, what with our corporate careers (such as they are) and our insatiable expenditures.

and by that i mean, the children.

mid-meeting call from loving daughter: "can you sign me up for ski bus, because sign-ups have started and it's really filling up fast."
me: "not right this second, i'm in a meeting."
ld: "oh, and can we get mexi food for dinner?"
me: "goodbye."


text to loving son: "do you want me to sign you up for ski bus this year?"
ls: "yeah, but only if i get new skis to go along with it."
me: ...

i'm not sure i could survive a tenth day. hurry home, loving wife.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

half full...

"you, paparazzi. see this face?
this is my cranky face."
i don't like getting up early.

and i hate being cold.

one might think these would be significant barriers to running trail races some 30 months in a row.

to be fair, not all those races were run in cold weather, but the getting up early part is a constant.

and yet at least once a month i roll out on a weekend morning, dress in the dark, gently kiss my snoozing wife, and shuffle toward the door ~ more or less ready to run.

my brain objects.

"you could be sleeping in, dope..."
"i could, but i'll regret it later if i don't go now."
"it's gonna be cold. you know it's gonna be cold."
"see the bag? the bag is full of layers. polypropylene layers, down layers, short sleeve layers, long sleeve layers, vest layers, hat layers. we've got layers for every possible contingency, including donner pass."
"remember the time it rained the entire race and you forgot a rain layer?"
"shut up."

it's become a thing, this streak i'm on. i didn't mean for it to become a thing, but it has. and so i have events lined up for the next four months (which, for those who keep track of such things, are the coldest months on most calendars in the northern hemisphere).

if i were smart, i would have scheduled events in warm-weather places for those months.
"mile 12. i'm warm."
(photos by takao suzuki.)
ha ha, no.

i've begun plotting an exit strategy.

the current plan is to get to 36 consecutive months, declare victory, and sleep in until july.

the tehaleh half marathon is a very civilized course winding through woods, greenbelts, and quiet residential lanes. there are sections of rocky single track that are challenging, and a few manageable climbs ~ but overall the course is fast and runnable. 

despite this, i did manage to roll an ankle ~ twice ~
along the way. no permanent damage was noted, fun was had, and there was a nap in the afternoon.

as always, the folks at evergreen trail runs did an excellent job, putting on an event accessible by runners of every ability.


tehaleh half marathon

15/68 (overall)
2/5 (50-59)

business models

there is a debate, in some quarters, over "the standard of beauty" in society.

in one corner you have the health and beauty industry, which tells us "beautiful" is rail thin and body-fat-free. most humans don't fit this description, but trying to achieve this look has led some to "extreme makeover: anorexia edition" behavior.

in the other corner are people who insist beauty is independent of outward appearance. "let's not use models as the standard of beauty!! we are all beautiful because we are."
to wit:

both corners miss the point.

models, no matter their description, exist for one purpose: to sell you something.

and countless millions have bought it. 

free advice: never believe a model. 

below are the only measures of beauty that count:

1. are you healthy?
2. do you feel healthy?

own that ~ take responsibility for that ~ and no other standard will matter.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

share the road

ambling, meandering run in the rain.

i could've gone faster, but there were lots of snails and slugs on the trail.

faster feet (and wheels and beaks and claws) may find them.

but not mine. 

different measures

"if you want different results, you have to do different things."

~ somebody

i have a hard time letting go.

this is a symptom of refusing to quit because, you know, quitters quit, and no one likes a quitter.

or something.

so i hang on, and hang in, and persist, and do many silly, useless things rather than do the smart thing. which would be to step back, take a deep breath, and perform a ritual (metaphorical) amputation.

"One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go – whether it’s guilt, anger, love or loss. Change is never easy – you fight to hold on and you fight to let go. But oftentimes letting go is the healthiest path forward. It clears out toxic thoughts from the past. You’ve got to emotionally free yourself from the things that once meant a lot to you, so you can move beyond the past and the pain it brings you. Again, it takes hard work to let go and refocus your thoughts, but it’s worth every bit of effort you can muster."

~ Marc and Angel Chernoff, "1000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently"

"free yourself from the things that once meant a lot to you."

it can be done. i have, in fact, done it.

but it ain't easy...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

first-world weird

"be the ball? i can't even see the ball."
i have a recurring nightmare that will get no sympathy.

some people have anxiety dreams about walking around naked, or showing up to class and it's finals day and they haven't studied, or being chased but unable to run away.

those sound familiar, right?

i have stress dreams about playing golf at pebble beach.

i know, boo hoo.

the theme is always the same. somehow i'm at one of the hallowed cathedrals of golf (a game i used to play with some enthusiasm), and i'm completely unable to hit the ball because i haven't touched a club in years. most often it's late in the day and we're trying to hurry around the course before dark. of course there are groups behind us, also wanting to finish, completely exasperated by my incompetence.

it's awful.

i wake up tired and stressed, wondering what the hell that was about. 

but i suppose it's better than being chased by monsters.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

action seeking opportunity

my daughter and i gave five bucks to a homeless-looking guy on the corner. he handed her this...

anybody need an IT guy?

Monday, August 18, 2014

will run for wine

this race.
i ran a little race on saturday.

i needed some kind of organized event to keep my streak going (now at 28 months, but who's counting), and the columbia winery 10k was it.

it was my first non-trail event in a long time. the last one was the lake chelan marathon, which was september 2013. apparently i like trails.

anyhoo... columbia winery. a fundraiser for seattle children's hospital.

the course, in part on the sammamish river trail (which i run often), was flat and fast. much faster than i'm used to running.
this trail.

on unpaved trails i generally run 9- to 11-minute miles. saturday i ran at a 7:15 minute/mile pace. not fast compared to most, but for me it was moving right along.

turns out it was good enough for a PR at the 10k distance.
this wine.

no, i didn't drink wine afterward. it was 9:30 in the morning.

but i did notice columbia makes a grenache rosé, which i am going to have to check into.


35/331 (overall)
2/6 (50-54)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

mad poetry

People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel

~ maya angelou

i'm standing here cycling through the many ways robin williams made me feel.

and i keep coming back to one that has been true for years: awe.

when i was much younger, it was enough that he was outrageously funny, in a runaway high-speed train sort of way. i mean, i laughed at the humor in his standup operatics (you absolutely cannot call them "routines"), but it was the delivery ~ the topical theatrics, the manic digressions, the painfully profound wisdom, and the nuclear thread fusing them together ~ that dilated your brain.

even back then, i didn't think of him as a "comedian." the word is too small to describe what he did. and though the G-word is overused and underdelivered, robin williams was a genius of some sort. "mind-bending," maybe. or "effortless" or "profane" or "pure" or some other word that escalates "genius," because that word isn't big enough, either.

that's what we saw onstage or onscreen. a preposterous expression of writing and stagecraft and camera work and editing and a thousand other details. it was like watching a fiercely intelligent blowtorch.

behind the scenes, maybe "distraught" or "stricken" or "broken" was more apt.

as the years swept by, i thought williams' best performances were when he wasn't being funny. the inexorable craft he demonstrated in moscow on the hudson. the agony of the fisher king. the vulnerability in dead poets society and good will hunting. the rage of good morning viet nam. and what dreams may come...that one still leaves me, uh, emotionally compromised.

he had the benefit of brilliant writing in those roles, but it was the all-in fearlessness he brought to them that will always stay with me.

i was stunned the day i heard robin williams had died. i knew he had brawled for years with depression ~ but i guess i thought that fight was behind him. then i read he was in the early stages of parkinson's disease. it's tempting to write, "...and it all made sense." but it didn't. not really. 

no more so than anything else in this life.

today, the shock is wearing off. 

but sense of loss rolls on.

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. 

"To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' 

"Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on ~ and you may contribute a verse. 

"What will your verse be?"

~ from dead poets society

his was one hell of a verse...