Monthly Archives: June 2009

Orange ya glad I didn’t say Orange?

First this. A local runner who is on the board for the Monumental Marathon / Half-marathon made this you tube video to promote the next race in November. I must express my gratitude for him making this video and not making me look like a total ass….which isn’t easy to do. I think only Michelle’s photography skills and this video have been successful in that endeavor. However, I do need to address a couple points in this video.

First off, I remember right after the race when the camera man said “How was it?” and I replied “Tired.” Which actually doesn’t even answer his question properly for one, and second, as soon as I said it I was like, “Really Spitz? ‘Tired’? That’s all you could come up with? Your moment in the sun and you spit out the most trite and expected response ever? Good job moron.”

Secondly, I’ve never seen myself run until I watched this video. Now, I remember going out too hard at the beginning of this race (workin on that) and I remember I was hurting during the last couple of miles….but damn! As soon as I saw myself running I could only think, “Hey! What the hell! What are you doing?! A recovery run?! Pick it up you lazy ass! RUN damnit!” I mean, really, I look like I’m not even trying. That’s lame.  I’m workin on that too. Regardless, the video is pretty good…thanks Aaron.

Speaking of how I look during running, we come to this post. I’ve had some thoughts about this post for quite some time, but I’ve been reluctant to actually put it on the internet as I haven’t quite come up with the best way to convey this without sounding like a completely self-absorbed, arrogant ass. I mean, I still don’t have a good way to express this, but you’ll just have to take my word that I’m not trying to be a total dude.

With that said….I’m sexy! Wait..that didn’t come out right.

Ok, so I’m finishing my run today when a car drives by and someone yells out, “Woo! Sexy!” Without missing a beat I respond, “I know!” and keep running. I think they were just kidding, probably responding to the clothing, or lack thereof, I was wearing at the time…just some shoes and running shorts, which is to basically say shoes and underwear….bordering on Speedos. I think they might have even been men in the car, which in no way would imply that they weren’t serious, but by the tone of their voice I think they were kidding. Regardless, they said it and I agreed. Thank you.

This is the thing. All my life I’ve been known as the human equivalent of The Tawny Scrawny Lion (man, I hang out with a toddler a lot), which is to say extremely skinny, like skin and bones skinny. I think I’ve been referred to as “skin and bones” more than anything else. And I guess I internalized that perception of myself. It didn’t help that I was 5′ 2″ all the way up to my Sophmore year in high school, so that probably had something to do my self-image as well. Add to that the cultural association of “sexyness”  being clean shaven, well-tanned, uber-muscular demigod porno stars and all I ever wanted to do was avoid any relation to the term. Now, although I rejected that image, I didn’t have any alternative to base my own self-confidence off of, nor could I find the ability to simply accept myself for who I was. It became an issue for me for quite some time, getting in the way of relationships and intimacy. Finally, after being involved in some more supportive relationships and finally working up enough courage to give dominant culture the middle finger, I started to break out of my shell and accept my self-image for what it really was. I began to appreciate my intricacies and unique physical traits, which had the added effect of gaining appreciation from others as well.

Then something even better started to happen. I actually started using my body. I think I first started noticing small changes when I was a bike messenger for two years, developing stronger leg muscles and defined bicep muscles, not to mention early-season tanned skin. Then while doing a lot of physical labor ripping a fence out of my then gf’s backyard and swinging an axe around like a lumberjack I started to notice my arms getting even more defined. Soon after I got a job in the union as a carpenter and both my arm muscles and chest muscles became bigger and more noticeable, which was as encouraging as it was creepy. I’m so not a dude, but the direction my life was taking was not only putting me smack in the middle of dude culture, but was also altering my body into dude-like shape. I was kinda uncomfortable with that. Then I quit the union and started running again. 

For the past two years my body has changed more completely and in a way I’m more comfortable with than it ever has. At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, running is a “total body workout”, altering the shape of nearly every part of your body, arm muscles, leg muscles, core muscles, heart muscles, brain muscles, and who knows what else.

At first I didn’t really notice it, but I started running into people who kept commenting on how much weight I had lost, which is amusing since I didn’t notice I even had any weight on me in the first place. My favorite comment was when a friend said, “Man, you are the ONLY person I’ve met who had a child and then LOST weight.” Well, after my son came was when I started running. So there you go.

As the months went by and I kept running consistently I started noticing other changes. My calf muscles became more defined. Excess weight in awkward areas disappeared. Certain muscles got smaller, but more toned. Then something weird happened…just the other day actually.

I was sitting, slumping actually, at the computer when I rested my hand on my abdomen and felt something funny. “Wait…what is that?” I felt bumps…like abdomen muscle bumps…quite pronounced ones. I got a little excited, but then realized I was probably flexing them in that position, so I sat up and felt again…they were still there! Hot damn! Granted, they are hidden under a little protective coating of blubber and body hair…but damnit they are there! Those hill workouts are certainly paying off. I guess I got them at the right time cause one of my running buddies just informed me that we need to start doing stomach crunches to catch up with the other “buck and a quarter” guys we run with. I don’t know how serious he was about it, but I’ve already begun…and man it sucks. I hate those things. 

So yeah, all of a sudden not only did I appreciate my physical image for what it was, but I also developed a personal image of what defines “sexy” for myself. It’s not to say I put myself on display for others, but simply that I’ve overcome dominant culture’s expectations and instead created a sense of confidence for myself, on my terms. That’s pretty damn sexy if you ask me. 

I now realize this process has been in the works for quite some time, pretty much right after I started running, and a humorous side note to this is that even before I had developed this sort of confidence I had also developed a complete apathy to others perceptions of me. I’ve often heard that you can’t fake a long run. Distance running requires honesty, which is true on so many levels..one of them being appearance. No matter my lack of confidence in my body at the time, as soon as I did a couple runs in 80 degree heat that shirt came right off, and never went back on. Insecurity be damned, running makes you sweat!! I was forced to be honest with my body and just take it for the sake of running improvement. After awhile I really really REALLY didn’t care. 

Now I’m quite amused at what I must look like on the run and how much I don’t care. From time to time I’ll pass people on the trail who look like they’ve run a total of 10 yards, hair perfectly in place, not a drop of sweat on them, holding perfect form, and then the smell…the horrible smell of PERFUME or COLOGNE….while RUNNING!!! Blasphemy. It’s really gross and I have to laugh, because I’m on the other side of the trail with nothing but shoes LITERALLY squishing with sweat, shorts that are soaked clean through like I had just peed myself, my bare hairy chest also glistening with sweat, my long hair soaked and tangled and flopping into my eyes. I really must look like death, but I feel like a superhuman…and that’s all that matters.

And when I get home, regain my composure before stepping into the shower, I’ll sometimes catch an image of myself in the mirror and admire my body. Again, not in the self-absorbed, arrogant sense, but rather simply admiring the rewards of all the work I’ve been putting in, all the miles, all the sweat, all the oxygen debt. Runners most often weigh the success of that work by race times and PR’s, but we can also see it in the shape of our bodies. There is nothing to be ashamed about that. We are all beautiful, if only for trying. 

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Log

10 easy recovery miles. Preparing for tomorrow’s Tuesday night workout. 

Diet

Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, almonds, raisins, turbinado), Coffee
Lunch – Pasta with veggies (cauliflower, brocolli, peas), Banana
Dinner – Pasta with veggies again
Snacks – Peanut butter and jelly, soy latte, water, soy milk, Oatmeal Raisin cookie, Some awesome fruit and nut and tofu dessert made for Michelle’s birthday

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Inspiration (aka full body immersion)

I can’t speak to what will best inspire a person to run consistently and with effort. I can only speak to what inspires me. I don’t know how others work, but when I get into something it’s usually all or none. It’s not necessarily a deliberate and forced action, but rather the expected product of my level of excitement in anything I do…at least anything I do that I enjoy. Not much is half-assed. 

Granted, there is something about running that feels extremely inherent in me, so I can get by even without a lot of acknowledged inspirations, but more so, I’ve realized that my disposition to obsession makes it so I actually find inspiration in so many places. I know people that try and find inspiration in losing weight. Others find it the social camraderie. All of these are valid reasons, but it seems to me that I can draw on so many more inspirations if I feel the need. And believe me, as much as I love to run, sometimes I need the inspiration.

I remember this specifically about this past winter, when I was having one of the most difficult times of my life. Despite coming off a great 1/2 marathon (the first I won outright) I soon came down with a debilitating stomach flu, then a cold, then another cold, then the ability to see my son became an obstacle, then I was laid off – unable to find a job for months, then my sisters cancer took a serious turn for the worst, and to top it all off a good friend died unexpectedly. I specifically remember avoiding simple 10 mile runs because I could not fathom the idea of putting the mental effort into running that long in the cold. With everything going on, I just couldn’t focus on running. I had no inspiration. Everything seemed trivial in relation to what I was dealing with. Fortunately, after some time and some healing, I started to find little things here and there – a coming race, warmer weather, new routes, etc. And although I wasn’t feeling my strongest, I was soon back at it, running consistently throughout the week and building fitness once again. I can’t imagine getting out of that period without a myriad of inspirations to draw from.

Right now I have so much inspiration that I feel like I’m going to boil over. Of course the hope to run fast at Chicago drives me incessantly, but there is so much more. There is the dedication to see how much faster I can become over time. There are the websites I look at everyday. The books I read. The music I listen to. The interviews with elite athletes I watch on the internet. The magazines I read. The friends I run with/after/ahead of. The conversations I have at work. The near celebrity status the kids at school hold me up to. The desire for a crowded trophy shelf. The legacy I want to leave for my son. The gift certificates for new shoes. The post run showers. The expectation to run for my sponsor. The desire to run as a vegan. The sound and feel of packed dirt under my feet. 

There is so much I simply can’t list them all. I don’t know what gets other people out the door, but my list is exhausting to consider. I don’t know if this is part of what makes a runner competitive, or achieve at a higher level, but it certainly plays a part in my performances. I don’t know what inspires you, but whatever you do, find inspiration wherever you can. 

Speaking of inspiration….the ability to eat larger amounts of chocolate cake than the normal person is quite inspiring. This here is a Vegan Mocha Strawberry Cake with Coffee Icing I made for my girlfriend’s birthday. It was quite inspiring.

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Log

12 miles. I wasn’t planning on it, but I felt so good going out today that I did a progression run, picking up the pace every once in awhile until I was about 1/2 marathon race at the end. It felt superhuman.

Diet

Breakfast – Cream of Wheat, coffee
Lunch – Veggie burger on whole wheat bread, Grilled portabella mushroom, Pasta w/ veggies, Berry medley, Lemonade
Dinner –  Pasta w/ veggies
Snacks – Lemonade, Cake (see above), Leftover noodles with coconut sauce.

The bumper sticker is mightier than the sword

Lately these posts have just been writing themselves. 

For the record, this post is going to be 1% running. 0% veganism. and 99% are you kidding me?!

Also, if you have a certain relatively untainted perception of me as a person and don’t want that ruined (read: my parents), don’t read this post. For the rest of you that see my shortcomings and annoyances somewhat charming, do read on.

SO! Last year I made a bumper sticker. In a moment of perhaps divine inspiration a thought came to me. It said, “Fuck this. I’m going running.” and I thought, “What a great idea for a bumper sticker! Man! I want a bumper sticker that says that!” Of course, I know no one else has actually made, or would make, that bumper sticker, so what else was I to do but put my Do It Yourself punk ethics to practice and make it myself! So that’s what I did. And since the shortest print run for bumper stickers was 250, I had to go ahead and make 250 bumper stickers, which with the most meager of marketing promotions has sent them overseas and across the nation. Still, I have a lot left, which is a good thing because these suckers get people really riled up and I’ve actually had it ripped off my car twice. I’m assuming this was done because of the word “FUCK” and not because someone was infuriated that I wanted to go running, but hey, people are weird, ya never know.

Anyways, this morning I did my 20 miles out at Eagle Creek, picked up a couple soy iced lattes for myself and Michelle for her birthday and was quite satisfied with how my morning was starting out. Continuing my drive home I stop behind some cars at a stop light and a large truck pulls up along side of me. Just then my spidey senses started tingling and I got the feeling someone was trying to get my attention. I look over to my left to see a middle aged man mouthing something towards me. I turned down my radio, turned his way, and the conversation went like this.

“What’s that?”
– “I can’t believe you have profanity on your car.” said in a tone of voice that conveyed that he actually COULD believe that I had profanity on my car and saw a prime opportunity to let me know how righteous he is about his place in the world. He then followed that up with…
– “I have children.”
Without but a few moments to come up with a witty comeback, I turned to him and said, with a tone of defensive arrogance,
“Well…believe it!”
The light turns green and just as he starts to pull away, he very matter of factly replies,
– “You should be arrested.”

I laughed, but unfortunately I don’t think he saw me.

See, I’ve gotten a lot of unexpected responses to this bumper sticker, most quite surprising, and the experiences have actually afforded me the fortune of giving this dynamic a lot of thinking, but this one really takes the cake. 

This is what I don’t get. So many people have bumper stickers and although most are humorous (I’d like to believe mine falls into that category), many are legitimately offensive in that their message calls for a direct intrusion into other’s lives. Most of those are political stickers that lean towards homophobia, racism or something of the like. Granted, the owners of those stickers probably get a lot of verbal flack, but again, those stickers are about actual ISSUES. Mine is about running. Now, I know people aren’t responding to the act of running, but that’s the point. If they are simply responding to the word “Fuck”, then surely they must live extremely sheltered lives in that a simple word solicits such anger and verbal response. 

And geez…it’s just a word. Now, I’m not in the school of thought that seeks to devalue profanities of their power. The word “Fuck” is a very powerful word. Then again, so is Cunt, Fag, Bitch, Retarded, etc., but most people use those with the same carelessness they utilize for culturally normative language. So yes, “Fuck” is a powerful word….which is why it works so great! It’s strong, it’s powerful, and it’s EXPRESSIVE. The power of the word gives the user the ability to really convey the strength of their emotions. For example, imagine I called you a jerk. Big deal right? But what if I said, “You’re a fuckin jerk”. Or even, “Fuck you, you motherfucking jerk.” Little different yeah? 

But it goes deeper than that. A lot of people get offended by the word “Fuck” because they accept that it holds an inherently NEGATIVE association, but how many times have you said, “Fuck yeah!” or “That was fuckin awesome!” So, not only does the term embody a deeply negative association, but it can also hold a deeply positive association….which SHOULD be apparent in my bumper sticker. Wait, that’s not true actually. The sticker doesn’t say “I’m going FUCKING running.” It’s says “Fuck this.” What “this” actually is, is up for the reader to decide. So actually, it does hold a negative association in this specific usage, though I would argue it is part of a more positive whole in that I’ve taken a negative scenario and changed it to something positive….running! I mean, it could be worse. It could say, “Fuck this. Let’s get high!” I wonder what part of that sticker would make people more angry. Maybe the reference to drugs would even make the profanity pale in comparison. 

When I really think about it, I actually don’t think the negative reactions have anything to do with the word at all..or at least fundamentally. I think people’s reactions more has to do with the perceived arrogance of using the term publicly and casually. I think people see the sticker as an affront to our dominant culture’s “moral foundation”, where everyone loves jesus, loves america, supports the troops, goes to church, doesn’t cheat on their wives, and most certainly under no circumstance whatsoever…EVER uses profanity (But guess what….i never signed your dominant culture’s social contract). I think that because I’ve used profanity publicly is one thing, but because I’ve used it CASUALLY is what really freaks people out. I mean, PEOPLE HAVE CHILDREN! (like me). What will these wholesome parents ever do if *gasp* a child asks them about the world!!! I mean, they might have to EXPLAIN it and exert INFLUENCE on them! The horror! I mean, Kids are to be put in a bubble and shown videos of veggie tales until they are old enough to have intercourse only for the sake of procreation….duh.

Since I brought up “moral foundation”, let’s make a point about that as well. Obviously my sticker about running offended this man’s moral foundation, which by his need to point out the “wrongness” of the sticker to me, implies that his moral foundation is the CORRECT moral foundation and I’m simply misguided. I mean, if he wasn’t so confident that he was undeniably right, he wouldn’t have said anything right? I had committed such a serious offense to his moral foundation that he went as far as saying I should be “arrested” and presumably thrown in jail, my freedom revoked. Now, I really think that saying I should be arrested was just a desperate attempt to express his frustration that he disapproved of my bumper sticker but couldn’t (or wouldn’t) actually do anything to stop it from existing, but I also find it amusing that the very concept that I should be arrested runs deeply opposed to MY “moral” foundation (if I believed in the concept) in that I am an anarchist and reject the use of law (read: moral force), but of course, that’s just absurd right?  I mean, it’s one thing to have an offensive bumper sticker, but is the proper response to being offended by a mere expression, no matter how uncomfortable it makes one feel, be to take away someones freedom and physically restrain them? “Freedom of speech” what? 

Ultimately, this stuff cracks me up. I know the people that are so incredibly offended by a sticker about running, a sticker that merely expresses my frustration towards the mundane and turns it into the positive act of RUNNING, are simply scared, insecure individuals who don’t know how to separate themselves from the parts of the world they don’t agree with. That’s cool…cause while they are losing sleep over their inability to actually do anything about the world, probably driving themselves straight into a heart attack,  I’m out there confidently enjoying myself and FUCKING RUNNING! Sorry ’bout cha.

By the way….anyone want a bumper sticker?

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Log

2:17 of running. Easy pace, probably over 20 miles actually. Felt stupidly good. No late day fatigue. I don’t get it. I debated doing a second run today, but decided to play it safe.

Diet

Breakfast – 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter, coffee
Lunch – peanut butter and jelly, water
Dinner – Tacos (beans, rice, veggie crumbles, avocado, tomatoes, vegan sour cream)
Dessert – Vegan mocha strawberry cake with coffee icing (feeling the buzz! – happy bday michelle!)
Snacks – Iced soy latte, water, chips and salsa

Up the punx!

I’ve got a funny running related story I want to tell you, something that happened to me on my run Wednesday, but first I need to give some background.

I’ve talked about identity in relation to running in previous posts, addressing the absolute comfort I feel as a “runner”, despite any definitive outward appearance that screams the identity. The thing with identity is that it isn’t dependent upon an outward appearance, a costume, but the simplistic way of expressing or pigeonholing ones identity is often through their outward appearance, however, as I’ve gotten older I’ve often deliberately strayed from advertising too much. It’s more amusing to keep people guessing.

With that in mind I should clarify that, among so many other labels, I also identify as an anarchist. Not the “I just bought a rad anarchy headband at Hot Topic” kind of anarchist, but an individual actively involved in the fight for both social and self-liberation. Trust me, my anarchism is not a newfound teenage-type rebellious phase. It is a deeply considered identity and association. And being in touch with the modern anarchist milieu, the same entrapments of any identity are played out in many ways, most noticeably with similarities in appearance. Myself though, I have never really dressed (or smelled) the part. For those of your less in tune with anarchist identity, the appearance often involves lots of black clothing, often filled with holes, lots of band patches, dirty dreadlocks in some state of development, brown carhart pants turned nearly black with dirt and soot, and an almost visible smell of body odor, alcohol, and who knows what else. Despite however “down” I may consider myself, this is certainly not my choice of costume, which oddly enough has gotten me into trouble at some convergences where I’ve been routinely called out as a police informant simply because I don’t dress the part.

So anyways, amusingly enough, from time to time I’ll be out on a run and pass a group of kids, usually traveler kids, dressed in the typical anarcho-costume and I always have the strong urge to say hi, or say something that would clue them into our mutual association. I never come up with something that doesn’t make me sound like a total tool. I want to say “safe travels” or “viva anarchy” or something along those lines, but when I think about it, something like that coming from some dude in shorts barely big enough to not be considered underwear would probably come off more as mockery than anything else. So I always keep my mouth shut and keep running.

Ok, so the story. I’m doing a couple of loops on the canal downtown, rockin my short shorts, sweaty as all hell, and wearing nothing else but my shoes. As soon as I hit the canal I pass by a group of traveling anarcho-punk kids hanging out in the shade underneath one of the street overpasses. They are looking down at something as I run by. So in my head I’m thinking maybe I’ll say something to them the next time I go by. I always think it would make a good story for them to be like, “some total runner dude yelled out ANARCHY! when we were in Indy!”. Anyways, when I come around the second time I don’t have anything good to say, but considered pointing them in the right direction as I figured they were all looking at a map the first time I passed. As I come up on them though I smell that distinct alcohol mixed with B.O. stench and notice that they are actually doing crossword puzzles, so I don’t bother and just keep going.

So on my last lap I’m starting to pass them on the other side of the canal when one of them yells out,

“I’m faster than you!” followed by, “Wanna race?”

I turn, wave them my way and say, “Come on!”, but no one moves. So quick on my mental feet something pops in my head and I finally get to make my associations known. I yell back to them,

“Hey! I’ll beat you to the Crimethinc Convergence!”

I get nothing but stunned silence. The crimethinc convergence is a once a year gathering of anarchists, mostly populated by a very specific type of anarchist, such as the kind I went running by. Now, it would have been one thing to yell something about anarchy in general, but to specifically reference the crimethinc convergence would convey a much deeper involvement in the culture. I would have payed to hear the conversation that ensued afterwards. I mean, some total jock-looking, near naked runner just referenced the crimethinc convergence in a city they don’t even live in. Of all the runners they could have mocked that day, they had to pick the anarchist. I’m thinking those kids are suffering from Foot In Mouth disease right about now. Man that was awesome.

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Log

Today, nothing. I was going to do an easy 10 when I realized with tomorrow’s run this week’s total would be 88 miles, well above the 70 I’m supposed to be closer too. I was still going to do it, but my girlfriend’s son came back from visiting his father so we spent the evening playing in a river. Tomorrow will be the 20 miler though.

Diet

Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, almonds, raisins, turbinado) coffee
Lunch – Leftover stir fry w/ tofu, okra
Dinner – not much of  a dinner….Cream of Wheat, tortilla chips w/ salsa, whole wheat bread w/ romesco
Snacks – coffee, water, heart thrive cookies, cherry tomatoes, bumble bars

Eat yer veggies kids!

The theme of running and health has come up quite frequently lately and has gotten me thinking about motivations a bit.

 

Health was never a fundamental consideration in my life. The word itself was always attached to hokey public service announcements in between cartoons teling me to eat my vegetables, so of course, I developed the association that vegetables were something NOT to eat. Boy have things changed. 

 

When I went vegan back in ’94 the health consideration was one of the last of my motivations. I concretely went vegan for ethical reasons in relation to the treatment and domination of non-human animals. To be honest, if someone told me going vegan would slowly turn my brain to liquid 30 years later I still would have made the same decision. I had tunnel vision as far as my motivation went. As I got a little older and a little more aware my scope widened enough to bring in the consideration of the environment and animal agriculture’s detrimental relationship with it. Still, health was just a side note I would bring up only during specific arguments. I still wasn’t all that concerned with it. 

 

Of course now i’m almost 33 and maybe more out of necessity than a responsible thought process I take the treatment of my health with greater consciousness. I pay attention to the quantity of certain ingredients, vitamins, etc., that go into my body. I avoid certain unhealthy vegan foods. I try to eat more whole foods and foods that correlate with my running….though I’m certainly no foodist saint – I can take down a bag of oreos in one sitting without blinking an eye. 

 

The interesting comparison is that I approach the health aspects of running in the same way I viewed them at the beginning of my veganism, which is to say not much at all. 

 

To use some recent examples of this, at work the other day a co-worker said to me, “See, with your running and all, I see you as like the epitome of health.” And while knocking out a relatively fast and severely sweaty 12 on the canal the other day, a young boy walking with his family says, “Getting some good exercise?!”

 

Now, I appreciate the health aspects of running. I am fully aware of them and recognize their value, but that is so not my reason for putting in the mileage I do every week. So when that kid on the canal said “Getting some good exercise?!”, in my head I was responding, “What? Hell no! I mean, actually, yeah, but is that why you think I’m out here?” I mean, damn, I’m not some middle aged dude trying to keep my cholesterol down….I’m trying to hit another PR! I mean, I have NEVER went down to the track to knock out 6 x 1 miles all under 5:10 so as to avoid diabetes. I don’t knock out 20 mile runs thinking how great this will be for lowering my cholesterol level. I don’t exhaust myself doing hill sprint after hill sprint while thinking about avoiding heart disease. I mean, yeah, all those benefits are awesome, but that’s not why I do this. I DO THIS TO RUN FAST!

 

Which brings me to a related subject, categorization. I’m a runner, but say that to others and they’ll picture the guy slowly jogging up the local rail trail trying to keep his weight down. I am NOT THAT GUY. The term runner can mean so many things to so many people and it’s used to define many different ways of running. Runners say they are runners. Joggers say they are runners. One time Mini-marathon finishers say they are runners. Walk – jog program adherents say they are runners. So although for simplicity’s sake I will refer to myself as a runner at times, when I have the chance I prefer to classify myself more specifically. I am not simply a “runner”, I am a DISTANCE RUNNER. And I’m also not simply a distance runner. I’m a COMPETITIVE DISTANCE RUNNER. Any description further than that just gets too complicated, but that one does sufficiently convey an intent that is less inherent in simply calling oneself a “runner”. 

 

A competitive distance runner, emphasis on competitive, says something about my foundational intent, my motivations. I don’t run for health. I don’t run for a collection of finisher medals. I don’t run just to have a social outing every once in awhile. I run to RUN FAST. I run to RACE. I run to push my body to its breaking point, and then see how much further I can push it, and again and again. I run to, as it was well put to me recently, FEEL LIKE A GOD. 

 

Yes, the health benefits come with these efforts, and I appreciate them fully, but right now I’m doing this for even greater reasons. See, a lot of people run to ACHIEVE good health. To them, the success is the finish line, whether that is a certain weight, certain cholesterol level, or what have you, but for some of us, that would only be the beginning. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I don’t feel like I need to IMPROVE myself. I don’t feel like I reside in some negative zone that necessitates a positive effort. I feel like I’m already at that state of improvement. I’m already healthy (relatively), THAT is the STARTING POINT. For some of us, it’s not about GETTING to be healthy, it’s about UTILIZING that state of health, to then see what we can do, to see how close we can come to being gods.

 

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Log

 

11 / 12 (?) miles. 1:16 of running. 90 degree heat. 10 Holcomb Garden hill sprints. 3 steeper neighborhood hill sprints. Cool down back home.

 

Diet

 

Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, almonds, raisins, turbinado), Coffee
Lunch – Leftover rice w/ veggies and coconut milk sauce
Dinner – Sir fry w/ tofu and okra (that turned to snot)
Snacks – water, coffee, banana, grape nuts cereal, raspberry sorbet 

 

Asleep at the wheel

I know exhaustion. I know it in many forms. Most definitively I know it from being a father who raised his son through about a year and a half of his life, which means I know the kind of exhaustion one experiences due to a lack of sleep. That’s TRUE exhaustion. It’s not this Come home from work with sore feet “oh my god I’m sooooo exhausted” kind. It’s not this end of the day at the amusement park “wow, that was exhausting” kind. It’s real and true exhaustion. When I was taking care of August (my son) and woke up numerous times during the night to put him back to sleep, then had to get up super early when he decided to wake up, it took such a physical toll on me that I remember driving the 15 minutes minutes through the city to get to work and literally falling asleep at the wheel as I was turning into the parking lot. If I so much as closed my eyes after parking I would be jolted awake by someone closing their door next to me. I would be watching TV and all of a sudden wake up without even realizing I fell asleep. That’s the kind of exhaustion I’m talking about. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life.

Now I’m training for the marathon, and although the kind of exhaustion I’m feeling now doesn’t even come close to the kind that is being a new parent, there are some relative similiarities…and of course differences.

Lately I’ve found myself quite “exhausted” at work where if I close my eyes, my body quickly follows suit and starts to shut down. I often jolt awake making sure I don’t get caught sleeping on the job. It’s not intentional, falling asleep, it’s just during my breaks my body really wants to take a longer one, and it’s really hard to fight physiology. I suspect this exhaustion is partly due to the increased mileage and intensity of my workouts. I also think it has something to do with not getting the proper amount of sleep at night – we’re bad at going to bed early – as well as the consistent 90 degree days lately. This heat is truly exhausting.

I’ve also noticed that, depending on the day, my muscles have been quite exhausted as well. This, is certainly due to the increased mileage and not adapting yet, but probably also due to the intensity of the workouts on select days. I feel it at work and I feel it right when I start my recovery runs the days after the more difficult workouts.

Then there is the coming exhaustion. I will be consistently hitting higher mileage in the following weeks as well as increasing that mileage and intensity, which although is fantastically awesome for my speed and endurance, and is the reason I’m doing all this, it will also contain a period of exhaustion that will be deceptively demoralizing. I have yet to experience this sort of fatigue, but I’ve heard plenty of others talk about how terrible they feel on their runs or during their workouts….until they start the seemingly magical taper phase.

I just did a hard paced 3 miles on Tuesday and despite the increase in mileage and intensity of the workouts that are to follow, which are designed to make one faster, the next time I do the 3 mile workout I’ll probably hit a very similar time, not because I suck and all my hard work has been worthless, but rather because my body is quite exhausted and has not had the proper time to recover. The good news is that this is just temporary. Although I will start to see the benefits of these workouts later in the training phase, when the magical taper phase starts I’ll really understand just how far I’ve come. The goal is to work intensely, bordering that exhausted edge where I have trouble staying awake at work (well, maybe not so much that), and then giving the body proper rest leading up to the rest so that I’m at my peak of fitness and bursting with energy ready to take on the full 26.2 miles. 

That’s the plan anyways. 

Until then it’s extra cups of coffee at work, plenty of sit down breaks, taking the elevator instead of the stairs, going to bed earlier than I usually do (tonight is another exception to that rule), and trying to keep a positive demeanor at home.

Exhaustion doesn’t really sound like a fun part of the process, but in the right context it’s not all that terrible. let’s just hope the process reaps the rewards that make the relative exhaustion pale in comparison. At the very least, with experiencing the raising of a newborn, I know it could always be worse.

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Log

10 miles recovery. 89 degree heat. Somewhere around 6 minute miles.

Diet

Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, almonds, raisins, turbinado)…no coffee!
Lunch – Nutritional yeast pasta with veggies, soy yogurt, peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Dinner – Some sort of asian pasta w/ veggies and coconut milk sauce
Snacks – Coffee, water, smoothie, wheat puffs cereal, banana

Politricks

This post may not go so well, partly because I don’t have a full grasp on the subject outside of some recent conversations and experiences and partly because I’m pretty exhausted from the workout today and the lack of sleep lately. So yeah, bear with me.

Ever since I became a somewhat conscience individual, aware of specific treatment towards myself and the treatment I gave to others, I have dabbled in politics in varying degrees. Not the sort of representational or reformist politics that comprise the facade of american democracy, but more of an active involvement in liberated living. And let me tell you, that stuff gets old reeeeeal quick. The endless meetings. The interpersonal conflicts. The failed projects. The wasted time. The embarrasing associates. The list is endless. Granted, there are small victories and liberatory experiences, but overall, I can’t recommend the process to anyone in good conscience. 

So as my life began to become consumed with running more and more I felt a sense of relief that I wouldn’t become embroiled in heated debates. I wouldn’t have to utter the words “organization”, “autonomy”, “bail money”, “sacrifice”, etc. etc. Running was a cultural safe spot. Sure, I could engage with radical politics when I felt it worthwhile, but I always have running to escape to, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other and not concerning myself with authoritarianism and domination.

Or so I thought. 

Although the politics of running culture aren’t on the same plane as, say, anarchist politics, I could see myself becoming easily sucked into a sense of conflict with specific entities that play a part in the running scene. Namely race directors. Recently I’ve had some experiences at races that, as much as I tried to avoid, left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. Granted, this is going to come off as whiny and a touch arrogant, but just know this is not my intention or how I planned to deliver it. It’s just what I see as plain truth.

Basically, I’ve had a couple races that I have placed at which offered unspecific rewards, and come to find out they were hardly awards at all. One race I won outright, and was simply given a medal at the ceremony, although the year prior we had been given medals, a trophy, a hat, and a gift certificate to a running store. This year, they mailed a trophy later a couple weeks later. A second race that I placed third in, about a month later I received my “prize” in the mail. A typed out letter stating my place and a 1/2 inch pin. Umm…thanks. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I appreciate all the work that goes into a race, the time, the money, the volunteers. Everything. However, there are a couple things to point out in this process. If a race is going to recognize the top runners, it means they recognize an individuals acheivements and feel it appropriate to award them, but to simply give recognition out of obligation, with no true appreciation backing it, that’s another story. Maybe I’m being whiny, but not sufficiently awarding ones hard work and only offering a pin or trophy simply doesn’t cut it. 

Another point to consider is that races are big business. Although races take a considerable portion of money to actually organize, a more significant amount actually comes in from race registrations that enable this process. It’s not like race directors break even on a race. To think that a race only makes enough to organize and there isn’t even a small amount left over for at least the top three placings is just naive. On top of that, races are also funded by the sponsor soup that adorns the back of all hte shirts. To think each of these sponsors couldn’t put up either a small bit of money or at least gift certificate to the winners is just lazy. 

And this is the thing….competitive runners don’t simply run. Yes, we love running. We primarily do it to challenge ourselves and see how fast we can really go, but it shouldn’t be denied that we also train specifically FOR races. It should be acknowledged by all race directors that runners are training for THEIR race and the time and effort that goes into that training should be respected in a more significant reward than just a pat on the back. To be fair, some race directors are better at this than others. 

I think part of the disconnect here is that again, races are big business, and I’m not convinced that a lot of the people involved TRULY understand what efforts competitive distance runners make to perform at the level we do. It’s not solely recreational. Again, we love running and sometimes can’t get out the door fast enough to work ourselves to the edge, but it’s not always a cake walk. Somedays we are simply exhausted. Sometimes our minds are completely elsewhere. Sometimes it’s 5 degree without the wind chill. But we still get out there and put in the work necessary to perform come race day. That is no small thing. It involves a time sacrifice and a financial sacrifice…sometimes, tragically, even a relationship sacrifice. So with this in mind, forgive me if I feel a little bit slighted when I’m given a pat on the back for busting my ass on a rough race course, after putting day after day of training in leading up to the race. 

There is another dynamic to this point that I haven’t been a part of, but other racers I know have. Race directors often comp entry fees for elite runners, meaning they let them in the race for the publicity and fast course times and wave the entry fee. This is nice, but it also puts the racer in a tough position to complain about meager awards when they are already compensated at registration. A recent story was relayed to me where prize money was given if certain times were beaten (very fast times), but the course was so off and it’s mile markers so off that it really made it difficult for the contenders to gauge their appropriate pace. When it was addressed with the director, he threatened to stop giving them comped entries. So far, I’ve avoided this predicament as I’ve paid for every race I’ve entered, though I was offered free entry once. 

Fortunately, there is also a more humorous side to the politics of running. On today’s run we were told about a little rivalry being developed south of us in Kentucky. As far as I understood the story, apparently there is a running store who sponsored some local elites, but another running store recruited the top runners from this store to run for his. This pissed off the owner of the first store. So, these guys are going to be doing a race in Cincinnatti this weekend and the pissed off owner called one of the guys in our group and told him to get some guys up here to do the race in Cinci and kick their asses (in the race…not literally). He offered to comp the entry fees and pay for hotel rooms…like rock stars! I don’t know if anyone committted to doing it on short term, but I found the whole scenario pretty hilarious…and tempting. 

So as it stands, taking refuge in running to escape politics isn’t really a fool-proof plan, but for the time being I haven’t taken an active role in addressing what I feel to be discrepancies in the race culture. I can’t say I’ll always stay clear of the conflict, because really, I just want this whole process to be simple and fun. I’ve been doing a pretty good job at it so far…but damn, antagonization is a weakness of mine. 

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Log

3 mile warmup
3 miles at hard pace – 15:36 (5:12 per mile)
8 x 1 minute hard w/ 1 minute easy between
3 miles cool down

Diet

Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, turbinado, raisins, almonds) coffee
Lunch – cous cous with brocolli and tofu / peanut butter and cream cheese sandwich (don’t ask)
Dinner – pasta w/ nutritional yeast and lemon pepper
Snacks – Coffee, ginger brew, water, spelt crackers, chocolate soy milk, Smoothie, black bean burger