Dangit - free carbs missed

Apparently, in addition to being Fat Tuesday (or Shrove Tuesday), it's also National Pancake Day. So, today, IHOP was giving away free pancakes. I should have just gone there after working otu this morning - the little guy loves pancakes (most days), and I could have had some extra ones for free.

I'll just have to mark the calendar for next year, and hope that IHOP repeats it.

Cross-training workout

ORN: Stairmaster, 20 minutes, 107 floors, biking (hills) 35 minutes, 12.6 miles.

Stairmasters strike me as even more hamster-ish than a treadmill. At least on a treadmill, there is some variety - I can change pace and incline, whereas stairs are just. . . stairs. It was an okay workout - I was getting a bit tired at the end of 20 minutes, but I was also getting really bored. I don't read while I am on the bikes (or any other piece of equipment), and stairs don't seem to require the same focus that running does.

So, I switched to the bike. After about 10 minutes, I decided that the difficulty level I had chosen was faaar to low, and really ramped it up. I know that cross-training is supposed to be a rest for most of my running muscles, but it doesn't need to be a rest for my cardiovascular system as well. My heart rate was steadily dropping through those 10 minutes, and I wanted to actually push myself somewhat. The new, much higher difficulty setting actually provided a workout with which I could be satisfied.

I did notice one thing on the stairs, however. According to the machine, I covered either 107 floors or 2.11 miles. While I can believe the former, the latter just strikes me as ridiculous. On the flat treadmill, I cover about 2.5 miles in that time (on most days). I find it hard to imagine that I would only lose .4 miles while running up some stairs.


Junk miles

ORN: 4.8-something miles, 40 minutes, inclination varied. I was originally planning on doing 40 minutes of actual running, at a decent pace, but things just didn't work out that way. I started up the dreadmill at a walking pace, and turned on my mp3 player. The screen flickered and died. Completely unresponsive. There were two possible reasons for this: the first, and most likely, was simply that the battery was dead. I couldn't recall when I had changed it last, which generally means that it is probably about time to change it again.

The second possibility, and a more serious one, is that my habit of tossing it back into the gym bag along with my sweaty workout clothes has finally done something evil to the inner workings. It might be moisture-resistent, but I'm not sure that means that it is supposed to be covered by my sweaty tech shirt, shorts, socks, etc 5 or 6 times a week.

I was fiddling with it, and noticed that (1) I had been walking a bit longer than I intended; and (2) I needed to get a move on if I was going to get in a decent run before getting the son for swim class. So, I ripped off the player and ramped up the speed. Unfortunately, I had only vague ideas of current total time and distance, so I had to approximate.

Even then, I might have made a conservative guess on my run, except that, for the first ten minutes or so, I didn't notice that I had failed to set the inclination to anything other than the default. I thought the rnu had been astonishingly easy, and I was right - it was actually slower than I had been doing.

So, I said, "to heck with it" - and tried to just go a decent pace for the remainder of the run. I bumped it up to a degree of inclination, and got going. It was an okay run, and it wasn't quite junk miles, but I can't claim that I really accomplished my training goals for the day, either.

On the plus side, no problems with my legs or anything after Saturday's run. This Saturday is 14, which will be the longest training run to date. If I feel this good next Monday, I am going to be a lot more confident about my impending marathon. I've done the math - I can increase by 2 miles every Saturday, hit 22, and have one week where I can hold my mileage static if I need to. And, I would have 3 weeks of taper. It's not a lot of wiggle room though - so I am hoping that nothing goes wrong.


Running, driving, and jerks

ORN: 12 miles, 1 degree on the dreadmill, just under 109 minutes. I was wanting to take it easy, because (1) it's a longish run, and (2) I'm apparently fighting off some random cold or flu or sinus infection or something, and it's got me a little wheezy. This pace was actually faster than I was planning on going, but I got caught up in the moment.

See, all of the new dreadmills at the Y were reserved for the Indoor Triathalon. Now, obviously, it's not a marathon-length run they they do, or even a half-marathon. Instead, people do 15 minutes of swimming, 15 minutes biking, and a 15-minute run. You can even do teams if you want to - I suspect that the main bit is bragging rights and raising money for a charity. I'd do it next year, except for one thing - without a team, I'd have a problem. Not with the biking or the running - I'd do passably well with those.

No, my problem is with the swimming. Some people are natural swimmers, and can be compared to dolphins or fish, slicing through the water with grace and ease. I am unfavorably compared to a wounded seal, flailing about in its death throes. It's not all a problem with form - it's that I have the same bouyancy characteristics of a rock. I stop moving, and I sink. On a very good day, with my lungs full of air, half of my head will remain above the water. On a day day, when I exhale, I come to rest with about a foot of water over my head. I can't quite lie down on the floor of the pool, but it's pretty close.

Anyway, the run felt pretty good overall. I did have to take some short walking breaks, but nothing more than a minute. Most of it had to do with my quest to find a pre-race food which is friendly to my digestive system, but some of it was also due to the temperature. There were a lot of people running in there.

And some of them were fast. I know, they're only running for 15 minutes, and some of them were on a team, so they aren't even biking or swimming. I'm sure that, in a 15 minute run, I might get close to 2 miles. (The dreadmills don't go above 12 mph, so the max for this event is going to be 3 miles in that time limit - and that ignores the time you lose as the hamster pad gets up to speed. 2.97 or 2.98 is going to be a more realistic maximum.) Anyway, sure, I'm running along for almost two hours, eight times the length that they are, and more than twice the time of their entire event, but it as still a little disheartening to watch someone get on a good dreadmill near me, and zip out at better than a 7:00 pace.

And, the driving + jerk is related. On our way back from lunch, I'm going down the highway. Some jerk has decided that the pace he had been going is no longer sufficient, and guns it, getting right on my bumper. He refuses to back off, and starts getting upset when I'm tapping the brakes slightly, and gesturing to the back seat (where, for an added bonus, my son is screaming at the top of his lungs). I finally get the chance to change lanes out of his way, and he's gunning it before I am even clear. Pity that I didn't have the cell and get his license plate. That would have been one worth calling in - someone driving erratically and dangerously, at speeds well in excess of 20 over the limit (by the time he passed me) - and, as an added bonus, out of state plates. Try talking your way out of that one, punk.

His wife or girlfriend was in the passenger seat. I think she saw that I had an infant in the car, and was trying to convey that. Or, she's just as much a dick as he is. I'll err on the side of benevolence on her part. But for him, I'm wishing an early transmission failure - say, 4:45 pm on the Tri-State.


Ah, running again

ORN: 45 minutes, 1 degree incline, 5.34 miles, variable speed. It's been a depressing couple of days, but I finally managed to climb back onto the hamster pad for a run. I was planning on doing just four or five miles, but decided (while still walking along, warming up) that I would do an easy couple of miles, then a hard mile, and then an easy couple of miles. Well, that middle mile was hard.

It wasn't a great pace, compared to the days of yore (ie, high school, when I could actually manage a 5:20 mile, and ran 3 in just over 18 minutes), but, compared to my normal pace, it was pretty nice - 7:15 pace, as opposed to my normal pace of about 8:20. It wore me out more than I expected, so the final miles were harder and slower than the first two.

The only bad thing was that I dropped my water bottle prior to the run and it sprung a leak. By the end of the run, there was a fair-sized puddle in the cupholder on the dreadmill, and it took an extra towel to clean it up.

I did have an interesting conversation with one of the other regulars. This guy run (typically) about 3 miles, all at a 7:30 pace or faster - usually closer to 6:30. Anyway, today he asked me if I typically did longer runs, and I found myself explaining that most of my runs were fairly short, being only 5 or 6 miles.

Tomorrow is a 12-miler. Should be fun. And, I'm getting new shoes - same as I have now, but a half-size larger for the longer runs. My current pair is great, until somewhere about mile 9 or 10, and then they start getting a little tight. For a half-marathon, they'd be fine - for a full, and all the long training runs leading up to it, they're not. Maybe I'll break down and buy a water or fuel belt too - I've been playing with Gmaps pedometer, and planning long, outdoor runs.


Random update

Since I haven't said much of anything the last couple of days, I thought I should toss in an update on things. Let's start with the ORN: Nada. Zip. Zilch. Null. Void. /dev/null. Why? Well, let's go with blinding migraine, semi-sick infant, and infant sleeping very, very, very late (then waking up very cranky). It's not been a good couple of days - I've missed a tempo run and a cross-training workout. So, the current plan is to get to the gym tomorrow, run an easy 4-5 miles, and then do a high-speed mile. And, Saturday morning, I can still get in my long, slow run.

More tomorrow, I promise.


Not zippy yet, but definitely faster

ORN: Running, 40 minutes, 4.89 miles, 1 degree incline. I'm actually a little disappointed in this run, though not much. The run was preceded by 30 minutes in the therapy pool, along with my son, in an infant swim class. This does not count as appreciable exercise, but moving around in the warm water (and then the struggle to get him dried off and changed in the locker room, while I also changed into running gear) was enough for me to skimp on my warm-up a bit.

Anyway, I was on track to make 5.0 miles through about half the run, but had to back off a little. I recovered enough to have a good strong finish, but I was so close that I could taste it. 5.0 miles would have given me a nice average pace of 7.5 mph, which is actually noticeably faster than what I was running at the end of last year.

Oh well - this week has another short run (40-50 minutes), a 12-miler, a couple days of cross-training and some tempo work still. And, considering that I am still getting back in the swing of things after my hiatus, I am relatively pleased.

But still. . . only .11 miles short. So close, and yet still so far. Soon, soon. . . .



Haven't updated in a couple of days. Here's the ORN for the missing period.

Friday: No running. I was originally going to go running in the morning, but the son was being a bit of a pill, and I figured I would just to be my run in the evening instead. That changed when, about noon, I received word that my plans for most of Saturday had been cancelled, leaving me with a big block of open time. This changed things. . .

Saturday: ORN 10 miles, <90 minutes, all at 1 degree inclination. I decided to go on a long run on Saturday instead of going on a short run Friday night. It go me back in the habit of running longer distances again - this was the longest I had done since the Disney half-marathon, and I need to start adding these long runs back into the mix. The time got a little messed up, because I had to stop the dreadmill for a minute (which was the bad news - the good news is that I can cross another food off my pre-race possibilities list).

Thinking of Disney, I was looking back at the results. My official pace time was 8:52/mile. At the ten-mile mark, my time was 1:28:39 - or, 1 second off that pace. I actually would have done better, and had a nice negative split*, had I not taken a needed potty break at mile 12, and shed the last of my protective gear about 11.

* I did have negative splits - I just messed up on the watch and didn't get them recorded. I wish I had taken more care in tracking them, just for posterity's sake.


Nothing much today. . .

No running today - this week will only have 3-4 runs, max, with a total mileage of 10-12. It's almost double last week, and next week it may well double again (depending on my long run). After that, I'll slow down the rate of increase considerably, of course - I just want to get mostly caught up with where I should be. I still have about 9 weeks before my first marathon, but that's only 9 weeks.

Anyway, the big news for today is that we lost power for about 3 or 3 1/2 hours. And, of course, the power went off in the late afternoon, when the sun is going down. Plus, it was cloudy and cold, so the house was getting kind of dark. Eventually, we decided to go out to dinner, and stop by a store and pick up some flashlights.

I know that somewhere, we have three, four or maybe even five flashlights. But, just like paperclips or working ball point pens, you can never find them when you actually need them. We've placed them in specific locations in the house, where we will promptly forget about them, until we have bought another pack the next time the power grid goes.


Nice, easy day

ORN: Biking, 25 minutes, 9.8 miles, running approx 27:30 minutes, approx 3.25 miles, 1 degree incline.

I planned on running longer. Unfortunately, things didn't quite work out that way - I hate having to stop and use the restroom when I only have a mile or so left of a run. It breaks up the rythym (even on a short 10k run), and just makes the rest seem even harder. Plus, I always feel really sweaty and gross, whether I use the nice clean restrooms at the Y when I am doing a hamster run, or the vile port-a-lets when I am at a road race.

The biking is working quite well as a warm-up activity. I might have to dial things down a bit next week, speed-wise, since I am going to be raising my mileage pretty quickly. Within the next two weeks, however, I expect things to start levelling off, and I'll only be increasing by 5-10% a week again. Of course, if my leg starts bothering me, or my kness goes, or something else happens, I'll just have to adjust.


I want a refund . . .

. . . from my alma mater. Last week, the campus newspaper (the Daily Illini - contact them here) had published six of the infamous Danish cartoons. By Monday, the paper was already backing down from the decision. the original page is gone (but cached here), and, according to the AP (via the Chicago Tribute - registration required, avoid it via bugmenot), the editor in chief and the opinions editor have been suspended (read: fired in all but name) while an internal investigation is underway.

Yesterday, I wrote them a letter:

To whom it may concern,
I was originally planning on writing you a letter praising your decisionto run the controversial cartoons. Instead, I find myself writing on with the opposite message.

In today's editorial, you stated that, "We value freedom of the press,speech and expression. But we acknowledge that in certain instances, suchas the publishing of these offensive cartoons, there are issues that mustbe considered." That "but" is the most important part of your quote. The"but" is admitting, albeit tacitly, that the desires of the Muslimcommunity outweigh the need for an informed populace.

It is true that Muslims consider the cartoons to be offensive andblasphemous. Yet I do not recall any similar journalistic restraint whenit came to Kanye West depicting Christ on a recent cover of Rolling Stone,or Ofili's "The Holy Virgin Mary," or Serrano's "Piss Christ." ManyChristians would consider those images offensive or blasphemous, yet themedia had no problems showing those images.

Part of living in a pluralistic society is the acknowledgement that noteveryone will share the same beliefs as you. Being offended becausesomeone drew a cartoon, painting a picture, or shot a movie which offendedyou does not give you license to demand that society change in order toaccommodate your beliefs. Freedom of speech means the ability to drawtasteless cartoons, paint offensive pictures, and lampoon political orreligious figures. It might be crude, it might be tasteless, but thatfreedom of speech, and of the press, is American.

(me), alumnus

I am tempted to send a differerent one, asking if the remaining staff knows of any place where I can learn Arabic quickly. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom of safe or unoffensive speech. I'd like to think that the ACLU will step in and defend the two editors, but I'm betting that, in the name of "multi-cultural sensitivity," they're going to pass.

* Found via Michelle Malkin, though I had been reading the DI online since before the controversy started.

What is elite, anyway?

In a previous post, one commentator made a passionate claim about the dearth of high-calibre running in America. I may disagree with his tactics (as it regards to cajolling people on to greater efforts), but certainly can respect his opinions. Anyway, it got me thinking: what is an "elite" runner?

Some people would say that anyone who makes money by running is an elite runner. I disagree with that, since it would mean that this guy is technically an "elite" runner. (If the link no longer works - he ran a marathon in 6 hours, and received a $1500 stipend from a sport bar manufacturer.) So, money alone is no guaranteed qualifier, though it certainly wound tend to be associated with elite runners.

I've seen a couple people talk about mileage, whether it is total miles per week, longest race run, etc. I disagree with this as well - obviously there are elite runners out there who run only the mile or 5k, and their training load is certainly going to be less (per week) than someone who is training for a marathon and doing long, slow, distance runs.

I'm currently leaning toward my own definition. I saw the 2005 USA Marathon Review, and they had a pretty decent breakdown of the numbers (though I would like to see the raw data). According to their data, only 0.1% of the marathoners who completed a race last year had a finish time between 2:07:02 and 2:29:58. Another 1.5% finished in under three hours (2:30:00-2:59:59). I think that it is fairly safe to cal the first group "elite", at least as it pertains to local races, as well as smaller regional races. I would say that perhaps half (or even all) of the second group is sub-elite, or close to it - they stand a very good chance of placing (at least in their age category) in most races, and, depending on attendence and time, might well win the smaller local races.

As for me - based on the "2.1 rule" and my current half-marathon PR, I am just a bit faster than the average time for my age bracket (4:25:28). Of course, I haven't actually run a marathon yet, so I might not rank even that high.

Or, my speed training might actually pan out, and I'll break four hours. I'll just have to work hard and see what happens.


Back in the saddle again

ORN: Biking, 30 minutes, 10.8 miles, running, 30 minutes, 3.67 miles, light weights. I've been looking over the Treadmill Pace Conversion chart, and, in order to improve my workout, have been running more of it at either 0.5 or 1 degree inclines. It's not much, but it does help simulate the difference between the hamster mat and the great outdoors.

I'm still getting back into the swing of things. The good news is that my legs feel fine, the great news is that, at the moment, I seem to be going a bit faster than I had been previously. I am hoping that this trend continues - I know that I can do a half-marathon in a semi-respectable time. At least, my current time is respectable to most people - it's not near the tops of my age category or anything, but I place moderately well in large races. Still, I'd like to be faster - and if I ever want to run Boston, I will have to be considerably faster.

So, speedwork is definitely going to be featured in my new routine. I'll probably be doing at least one long run, a couple recovery runs, and either speedwork or hills every week, in addition to biking, elliptical or stairs, as well as some weights. I lack the potential (I think) to ever move really fast, but it would be nice to be faster than I am right now.

I also found a flyer for some local races, and wrote down the contact information on some local running groups. Due to travel times, I am only really able to meet up with a couple of groups, most of which run only 4-6 miles on Saturday mornings. Still, I could always make Saturdays a recovery day, and do my long run some other day of the week. It would be nice to run alongside some other people for a change.


Updates? Who reads those?

No running yesterday or today. I'll be running & biking three or four times next week, depending on how things work out. Nothing real extreme; I'm going to be keeping both speeds and distance down, at least until I am back to a five or six day workout regimen. I'm hoping to be back up to six days a week and close to 30 miles before the end of the month. Unless my shin starts acting up again, I'll make it.

Once I have the distance raised to something a little more respectable, I can start lengthening my LSDs and add some simple speedwork. I'm going to keep everything a little on the lighter side for a while though - I'd rather be slow at the end of April than sidelined.


Happy legs are here again

ORN: Biking, 30 minutes, 10.80 miles; running, 30 minutes, 3.5 miles.

Sure, it was a recumbant bike at the Y. And sure, the run was on a hamster pad. Who cares? No real pain during or after. I felt very good after the run - I had warmed up on the bike at a fairly relaxed pace (HR in the 140s through almost all of it - higher than I like, but not too bad, after almost two weeks of forced inactivity), and then hit the treadmill. I started on the slower end, and did have to pause after 3-4 minutes to stretch out a mild cramp. Nothing serious - just a slight problem adjusting to the different motions after the bike. After losing 20 seconds, I was off again.

I did notice that, when I increase my pace, I don't seem to land as heavily as I had been with my "normal, easy" pace. I'm beginning to suspect that I have been running too slowly, and it's actually been doing me more harm than good. I'm going to have to do some reading, and try some things out, but I'm hoping that it means some improvements are in my future.

A foiled attack in 2002?

Bush said the other day that, in conjunction with several Asian nations, a terrorist attack was foiled in 2002. The mayor of LA, Antonio Villaraigosa, said:

"I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't expect a call from the president — but somebody."

The White House says that they informed the mayor's office in advance of the president's Wednesday remarks.

Villaraigosa may very well have been in the dark. After all, the attacks were supposedly foiled in 2002. He wasn't elected until May of 2005, so he obviously wasn't informed when it happened. He might have been informed (in the most general of terms) when he was sworn in. His office might have gotten a call on Wednesday, but since the call didn't concern an imminent threat, it went into the slush pile. I suppose phone records would show this, but I suspect that a certain percentage of the populace wouldn't accept phone records as proof.

Bush is in a quandry here. If he discusses the war on terror, especially mentioning any foiled plots (aside from any legal implications it would have on the prosecution of the plots), Dems can claim that he is playing the fear card. In the meantime, Dems can go out and proclaim that Bush hasn't made us safer in the last four years, that things are getting worse. Logically, that would be the fear card as well - both sides are playing it here. One side says "See, bad things have been prevented, but are still a threat," and the other says "Bad things have happened, and worse things will happen, unless you get rid of Republicans." One strikes me as being a little less reprehensible at the moment.


Training Reset

ORN: 3.25 miles, very easy 9-minute pace, 10 minutes rowing, short weight circuit.

Tonight was, as you can see, a very easy night. After my forced hiatus, I didn't want to put any undue or needless stress on my shins, and so I started back with a very easy workout. And, I am happy to report, that, so far, I am basically pain-free. (Or, rather, what passes for pain free; which is to say that my knee does not hurt any more than normal, and that my shin feels fine.)

Since I was so long out of the loop, I am going to ease back in, alternating days for the first couple of weeks, increasing distances. I'll work on speed once I have the distance back up a bit. I'm glad that today went well - I've signed up for EC Trail Marathon. It's at the same location where I ran my first half last September, and I remember it as being a nice place to run. Plus, it fulfills all my requirements for my longer races: access to childcare (aka grandparents), reasonably close, and far enough out that I can reasonably prepare. I've got a couple of months (about two and a half, actually), so I've paid my money, and started working on training.

I might finish last (though I don't intend to), but I am going to finish.

Frustration (part II)

Okay, this is mainly due to some random web-surfing while the son sleeps. On many sites, you can see a site mater, which is (admittedly) a mediocre way of judging how much traffic a site gets. I recently switched mine, which of course reset it.

Now, this blog is listed with technorati. And, it's listed in a couple of places where, in theory, people may read it. But, technorati doesn't believe that I ever update (and nothing seems to change that), nor do my posts get listed in the "Recent Entries" section of a couple blog listings (where they should be).

So, I have to rely on random traffic (through the "Next blog" button), bad fishing expeditions for phrases on Google or blogsearch, and the couple people that apparently have bookmarked me.

The TLB ecosystem really needs a rating for blogs like mine - I'm below what an "Insignificant Microbe" should be - I'm thinking "RNA Strand" or "Viral Organism" might be more apprpriate. Something not really alive, yet active, and generally misplaced.

The problem with elitism

ORN: Running later tonight, finally recovered. It will be hamster, and easy, but I will once again be lacing up my running shoes.

During some daily surfing, I followed some linkage to this post. After reading it, I decided to hunt down the various posts and stories which had spawned it. To spare any but the curious the time, I will attempt to condense the whole affair:
  • Coverage of the Walt Disney marathon sucks, devoting almost as much space to this man as it did to the winner of the men's masters division.
  • Some people complain about the coverage (understandably so), and slam the slow-paced results of the hapless runner above.
  • Hapless runner responds, defending himself poorly and mentions that he got a grant (which few runners are lucky enough to recieve - I'd love to pick up some free running gear, with someone else picking up the tab.)
  • Whole affair can be summed up with "I'd rather be a snob than a lemming."

Okay, I'll admit that anything that happens at the Happiest Most Expensive Place on Earth is going to be more a money-making scheme than a competitive race. Disney, which no one has ever accused of missing a chance to make money, has realized (correctly) that a less-competitive race will draw more people, who will bring their families, stay for a week, and eat hamburgers for $6 each, while slurping from $4 cups. So, consequently, news coverage of the event isn't going to be of the highest calibre.

And, I will concede that the article was poorly worded. The winners should have been all listed together, and then a bridge (along the lines of "The Disney marathon also attracts more casual runners, such as . . . ") linking the results of a few casual runners.

So, why do I think that it is a bad thing (in general) to slam the efforts of slow runners? Aside from being one (more below), anything which inspires more people to get out and get moving is a good thing, for running and for the population in general. I will readily concede that Hapless Runner (he knows who he is) defended himself poorly. But the point remains that even the efforts of the slow should be recognized - not everyone can run a marathon in three hours or less. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't try.

After all, when I am coming in on the finish line, pushing as hard as I can, heart pumping, head down and as close to a sprint as I can manage, I am not competing for first. Or second. Or third, or even three hundred. I'm competing against someone else for that coveted 1122 spot in a 10,000 person field. If I don't get 1122, and wind up with 1124, there is no difference. It doesn't determine if I get a trophy, or a medal, or recognition. But it matters to me, and so, I fight for that place.

As I said above, I'm not a fast runner. I probably never will be. When I was six, I got hit by a car, and suffered a compound-complex spiral fracture. The easiest way to get an equivalent fracture is to clamp down your leg, just above the ankle and just below the knee, so that your leg is immobilized. (The knee clamp should be a little looser - your knee will need to move for this demonstration.) Now, attach a suitable large pipe wrench to your shin, about halfway between the two clamps. Get it good and tight; really grip those bones. Now - spin that pipe wrench around. Snap that shin in a couple places, and wrench themuscles from the leg. Your knee should rip across the back - that's expected. Make sure the fractured bones of the shin poke through the flesh, and be sure to crush a lot of blood vessels.

Originally, they were talking about amputation. Then, it got upgraded to "keeping the limb, but don't expect much," and finally to "hopefully he can run, though he probably won't." I can (and do) run, but my knee and lower leg are basically rebuilt. My shin has almost no tactile sensation, and I generally am aware of a problem only when it's past the "gentle warning" stage, and goes all the way to "potentially crippling injury" stage. The simple act of standing, if I take stock, has a nice, gentle, low-grade pain coming from my knee at all times. Walking hurts, though not much worse. Running hurts too - but I managed cross-country in high school (never well - I couldn't break 18 for three miles), and run now.

I'm not asking for praises - but it would be nice if some of the elites could simply say "Good effort" and leave it at that. No snarky comments, no guffaws, no laughter as those of us in the middle, back (or even those of us who manage 106/568 in our age/gender division).


Soon, very soon (running update)

As I said in a previous entry, I have been taking a self-imposed break from running. The good news is that, even though I haven't been doing the full RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) routine, I have been resting, some icing, and a couple of streching and strengthening exercises.

As a result, my shins feel pretty good again. By the end of this week, I plan on climbing onto either an elliptical, a bike, or a stairmaster. I know that all three are low-impact/zero-impact kind of exercises, and probably wouldn't have exacerbated the problems with my shins. Of course, the recommendations on all of those is to "take it easy" when using the machines if you are recovering from a shin problem. The concern was that my definition of "easy" is actually pretty hard on my body. (Why yes, I do tend to compete against myself, all the time. It's one of my less-endearing habits.) Since I know that I tend to train too hard (though I am working on it), I decided that a complete rest was better than a low-exercise rest.

Hopefully, I'll have healed enough that a few days on machines other than my hamster path won't be an issue, and I can ease back into running. I might be missing the Martian Marathon, but I have plenty of time to get ready for the Borgess Half Marathon.


Evolution in action.

In the Larry Niven/Jerry Pournell novel "Oath of Fealty," one of the recurring phrases is "Think of it as evolution in action." Over time, many people have come to use that when someone suffers the consequences of their own, foolish/stupid actions.

Anyway, today, while filling up the car at a local gas station, I counted no less than four vehicles whose owners thoughtfully left the vehicle running [i]while they were pumping gas.[/i] The station has all the obligatory warnings posted, in nice, six-inch-high letters, and also has numerous signs warning not to use cell phones (despite cell phone fires being considered an urban legend).

Now, another thing to consider was that they were also in the process of filling the underground tanks. So, you have a large tanker truck, full of gasoline, a dozen or so vehicles pumping gasoline, plenty of gas vapor wafting through the air, and some imbecile feels the need to keep his car warm while pumping gas. Never mind that it won't cool down appreciably over that two or three minutes, no his creature comforts are more important than safety.

Unfortunately, the only plate I could read belonged to a Ford Expedition, with the license plate "B Ball 1". So, unknown motorist, thank you for needlessly risking my life, plus those of my family, and everyone around you.


Freedom's just another word

So, randomly web-surfing today, I wound up following a link to this page. Basically, it calls for people to join in the fight against Wal-Mart's "Right-Wing War on Women." While there is the obligatory sop toward gender discrimination, the main thrust of the page is that Wal-mart is choosing to deny legally available emergency contraceptive pills to women. (Illinois is the exception, where pharmacies must, by law, carry the pills.)

Unfortunately, I see this as a big losing issue. Or, rather, it should be. See, Wal-mart is, despite it's collasal size and ubiquitous nature, a business. It's owned and operated by people, who choose what products to carry. If Wal-mart doesn't want to stock emergency contraception, it's their right. If they don't want to carry Eminem, mangoes or Star Wars toys, then they shouldn't have to do so.

Some people will say "But, some women can't go anywhere other than Wal-mart. Wal-mart should have to stock EC, because these women have no other choice." While it is an emotionally compelling argument, it doesn't hold water. If the laws can force Wal-mart to carry EC, laws can ban Wal-mart (or any other store) from carrying tobacco, alcohol, or Oreo cookies.

As a final thought - firearms and ammunition are legal commodities. I wonder how many people that want Wal-mart to carry EC would be willing to fight, with the same fervor, against a move to stop Wal-mart from carrying firearms.

The day the music died

No point in repeating last years post. I meant to write something witty and insightful earlier today, and didn't.


Let the wookie win

This is a random thought connected to the Danish cartoons. It occured to me that the entire thing can be seen in the following classic dialogue:

Chewbacca: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh
C-3PO: He made a fair move. Screaming about it can't help you.
Han Solo: Let him have it. It's not wise to upset a Wookiee.
C-3PO: But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid.
Han Solo: That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.
Chewbacca: Grrf.
C-3PO: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the Wookiee win.

How does this apply? Let me translate and paraphrase:

Muslim Radical*: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh
Free speech advocate: The Danes published legal cartoons. Rioting can't help you.
Apologist: Let them riot. It's not wise to upset the radicals.
FSA: But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a Christians or Jews with similar cartoons.
Apologist: That's 'cause Christians don't pull throw grenades or threaten to kill the cartoonists. Muslim Radicals are known to do that.
Muslim Radical: Grrf.
Free speech advocate: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, Danes: apologize for the cartoons and fire some editors.

*Now, not all those protesting are radicals. Boycotts, letters, and non-violent protests are all perfectly acceptable means of expressing displeasure. I may not agree, but I certainly respect it, and defend the choice of people to do so. Free speech does not mean freedom from reasonable consequences. Anyone who is toting around weapons, burning flags or issuing death threats, however, is going a bit beyond reasonable protest.

Europe needs to decide if they are going to let the Wookie win. If you allow free speech only so long as it offends none, it is no different than disallowing free speech. When the most sensistive party in a discussion is allowed to dictact what is acceptable, it does restrict free speech.

Does this mean that I think people should be allowed to shout the infamous "N-word" or use racial epithets? Sure - and I should have the right to shun them and refuse to have anything to do with such an idiot. That doesn't mean that I can tell them not to use those words, or to respond with violence; if I do that, I create martyrs.

We need free speech to identify all the a$$holes out there.

Kos misses the mark

Over on DailyKos,* I came across this story. The author is discussing the controvery over the Danish cartoons (follow their links if you are unfamiliar with it), but attempts to equate the current Muslim reaction to the reaction of religious conservatives in the United States to Ofili's "Virgin Mary", or the ABC's "The Book of Daniel". At least one commentor draws a parallel between the cartoons and the WaPo cartoon depicting a wounded soldier and the reaction by the Joint Chiefs.

The situations are quite dissimilar. When conservatives protested "Virgin Mary" or "Piss Christ" or "The Book of Daniel", they did so by organizing boycotts, writing letters, and so forth. (I am sure that there were a few who espoused violence, but let's be honest - that's fringe, and wasn't exactly common.) While I disagree with a general boycott of Danish products, that at least makes sense, and is in the same ballpark. After all, if I don't like "The Book of Daniel" (haven't watched it, but don't care about the controversy), then it is fully in my rights to inform the advertisers that I will avoid their products because of the show. Likewise, Muslims are quite within their rights to inform Denmark that they won't buy Danish products.

Conservatives did not, however, riot in the streets, take people hostage, or toss grenades. Civil disagreement is fine - armed disagreement isn't.

* I read a variety of political sites, both left and right, US and international. When the son sleeps, I surf (and do housework) - and I can read a lot in an hour or two.

This seems (in)appropriate

During some random surfing today, I wound up at the official Democratic Party website. On the front page, there is a Black History Month image, and a story. The image is clickable, and, silly me, I assumed that clicking on an image of Dr. King would lead me to a story related to Black History. Instead, it leads to an ad campaign called "Broken Promises."

I have no problem with the Democrats running the ad. (FactCheck goes over the ad, but, in all fairness, they also go over the State of the Union speech.) It just seems really inappropriate to, in essence, hijack Black History Month with a non-related partisan attack. Maybe they just didn't change the link, maybe it's intentional. I don't know, but that doesn't stop it from rubbing me the wrong way.

(Related note - the GOP website doesn't mention Black History Month at all, which doesn't exactly please me either. It may be an oversight, it may be intentional - I'll give them the same benefit of a doubt that I give the Dems site.)


Things that make you go "Huh?"

Several weeks ago, I checked out the Complete Book of Running (as well as some other books) from my local library. I'm reading through it, though I admit that I have largely skimmed the
section on "Women & Running". As I was skimming that section, I noticed that there was one chapter on safety. It's a series of Q&A with a cop, who now (well, when the book was written) also does lectures, and the following quote jumped off the page at me:

First of all, remember this: You must never get into a car. When you do, it's over. Ted Bundy picked up his victims in a car. Dahmer used a car; Gacy used a car. They all used cars. . .

Now, this was written several years ago, before the Green River Killer and the BTK killer really made the national news, so obviously they could not be used as examples. But, it still struck me as odd that, in a conversation to warn women, two of the three killers mentioned struck only men.

Stronger search-fu yields unhappy result

The title sounds like a fortune cookie, doesn't it? I played around more with finding a club tonight, and finally, lo and behold, managed to find one: http://www.bcroadrunners.org/ Why look. It's a dead link. Nothing, nada, zilch, nope. I did find a club in (fairly) nearby Kalamazoo, but getting there for a 7am run is earlier than I like to wake up on any day but a race day.

See, in order to make a 7am, I have to get up before 6am - more, if I plan on eating before running. I can manage 5 miles or so of semi-decent (for me) effort without the benefit of food, but not much more. Doing any serious mileage requires food first, and quickly after. The after isn't a problem, but I am not liking the idea of waking up at 4:45 in order to eat far enough in advance of the run that it won't make me sick.

(No, it doesn't matter what food I eat - if it's anything solid within 2 hours of gun time, it's not going to sit well. It ranges from "lousy run" to "total cramping", with a sidetrip into Montezuma's Revenge.)

And, it's not looking like the local shoes stores will be much help. There's a Lady Foot Locker, a Kid's Foot Locker, and some Payless, but not much in the way of running stores. Tomorrow, the search continues.

Running - it's a solitary endeavor. And, barring the couple other hardy souls on the treadmills, no one else in BC seems to actually do it.


How rude.

Earlier today, while running a series of errands, I stopped the car to allow a pedestrian to cross the street. Now, said pedestrian was not using the nearby pedestrian crossing, preferring instead to cross in the middle of the street. There were no cars behind me, and, due to the changing of the light and the nature of the intersection, weren't going to be any cars for 30 seconds or so.

So, I stopped, and waved him on. Instead of declining politely, or walking forward, he starts waving an arm around and yelling at me. Now, I have the windows up, so I can't make out what he is saying exactly, but it doesn't sound happy, or G-rated. So, I check the mirrors and pull out around him (since he was already in the street slightly when I stopped - well back of him, I might add.)

After I had passed him, I looked back in my mirror, and he was walking across the street, right where I had left him. I tried to be nice, and got yelled at. What kind of object lesson is that for my son?