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... 

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 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.