On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, April 30, 2012

Daily Mile

I don't really use Daily Mile. I've made my feelings on it clear in the past. But that doesn't mean I won't stoop to pimping Daily Mile if I'm mentioned in it.

Last week I had the... pleasure?... of running with Jeff, who was in town from Chicago. He's also launched a campaign to become Daily Miler of the week, which I think is some sort of popularity contest? I'm not really sure. But I am sure that he made enough awkward comments about not being a serial killer that I probably need to help him promote his contest.

CHICAGO - The Jeff H. campaign for Dailymiler of the week has taken a radical twist. After returning from an innocuous four mile run, Jeff found his apartment surrounded by paparazzi, demanding answers. The story had broke late last night on Tracy's running gossip blog that Jeff was not what he seemed to be. Jeff had only portrayed being an inspirational recreational runner in hopes of becoming the prestigious Dailymiler of the week. “I first suspected the deception in some early twitter interactions. Something didn’t seem right and all of his tweets didn’t seem genuinely inspirational,” Tracy stated on her scathing expose. “The truth needs to be told.”
The running community has been rocked by these allegations. “I feel lied to, I can’t believe that he would do this to his fans,” said Chanthana. “I don’t even think his motivations were genuine.” Chanthana, who had been in the process of recruiting Jeff to the #granatoracing elite inspirational team declined to comment further. Local runner Tony L. couldn’t believe the turn of events. “I admit, Jeff was that runner that I admire so,” Tony wistfully stated. “It’s so tragic when one’s heroes fail to live up their your expectations.” When asked to comment, Francesco S. could only express disbelief, “No, this can’t be. No.” Others expressed extreme anger. “There has to be repercussions for his actions. We thought he was inspirational. I bet he didn’t even listen to his body,” Maryjo Powrozek R. stated angrily. In an official press release, Dailymile founders Ben W. and Kelly K. stated “Jeff H. does not embody the spirit of the Dailymile community. His actions were reprehensible and shameful.”
Jeff quickly released a statement. “I regret that the Dailymile community had to find out I wasn’t inspirational. I thought by deceiving everyone I would more likely be elected Dailymiler of the week. I was wrong.” When asked if he was going to continue his campaign, Jeff responded, “Absolutely, my goal has not changed. This is just a bump in the road. However I am changing my platform. No more of the inspirational and motivational BS. No matter how hard you try, you can’t do anything you want. The best you can hope for is to reach your genetic potential. Just get your [censored] run in.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New plan: win London Marathon

And then THIS will happen:

I guess there's an article or something that goes along with this photo. I don't know; I didn't get much beyond that familiar shock of red hair.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How far is THAT marathon?

I got a message from my brother yesterday morning. It's bad, you guys.
Oh, RnR... you've done it again:

That's right, a "mini marathon." In other words, a 5k. But now, they say, you can "feel the excitement of 13.1 miles in a mini marathon distance (approximately 3 miles)."

No. No. No. No.

A half marathon is a different race from a 5k, and neither of these races is a marathon. Yes, they're all different distances, but also for anyone beyond a very beginning novice, each race requires an entirely different race strategy. For RnR to conflate the different races like this... well, at least they have the self-awareness to refer to this exclusively as an "event" rather than as a race.

What this Mini Marathon really is: a new, previously untapped customer base for them, and increasing prices for us.

Remember: RnR is a for-profit company. They are profiting off of you, and after Vegas and NYC, we can't even justify the high prices by saying that "at least they put on a great event." You don't need a medal for finishing a 5k - you'll always have the experience and the thrill. Find a cheaper race (here's one that same weekend that I think sounds awesome) and buy yourself a better beer at the end. I suggest Sierra Nevada Hefeweizen.

Sure to be coming soon from RnR:

  • the Des Moines Mini Mini Marathon. Feel the baggage check congestion of 13.1 miles but in only 800 meters (approx. the same distance you cover from the parking lot to the car - you get your medal at the start line)!
  • the Peoria Micro Marathon. Pay the registration fee of 13.1 miles but don't worry about breaking a sweat at this event of 50 meters (approx. the distance from your couch to your refrigerator)!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I'm not a vengeful person, and I did not write yesterday's blog post in order to cause any controversy. I just happened to spend much of Monday sitting on at my computer watching twitter, and I saw something that I thought that all six of my followers might find interesting.

And then it blew up.

What blew up was not my blog post; it was Gugala's reaction to it. He launched a series of ad hominem attacks against me and against anyone else who had the gall to interact with him on twitter. He said that he was in the clear since any perceived sexism was, well, perceived:

He said that those of us complaining aren't his readers because we don't follow the sport (what?). He said that amateur bloggers should "stay in the shallow end."

This is the most confusing to me:

(@thedcc is Donnie, and you can read his take here.)

By the end of the day, this happened:

But this is my favorite interaction:

Well said, Scott Douglas, Senior Editor of Running Times.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And while you're in the kitchen, could you make me a sandwich?

This made me so annoyed that I'm actually posting twice today.

Lady runners: aren't they cute?

Yesterday, while watching the Boston Marathon on the computer and refreshing twitter constantly for updates, I saw the most amazing twitter dialogue float past my feed. And by amazing, I mean sexist and unprofessional:

The women's lead described as "girl on girl action"? Women as emitting a "banshee wail"? Now, that's tacky. Which is probably why he was called out on it:

How did he answer that? Lawn bowling. He makes a sexist comment, he's called out on it, so he doubles down and trivializes women's running, comparing it to lawn bowling. (Nothing against lawn bowling, but he was obviously choosing an obscure and less mainstream sport to mock.)

Sara followed up, for what it's worth:

Still, he wasn't done! Not only did he later call Sara a dumbass (I won't bother linking that tweet; it was in response to someone else), but he was on FIRE with the commentary:

But in case you didn't laugh out loud at the idea of a water station in the heat turning into his fantasy of spring break, he wants you to know that it was funny:

Jon, you might have been able to find a woman or two who responded to your tweets favorably, but that doesn't make what you said okay. Your comment was rude, but you could have redeemed yourself by handling Sara's criticism well. Instead you continued on the same, tired, 1950s "women: aren't they cute?" vein. (And I'm not mentioning that he wasn't called sexist - his comments are. Nope, and I'm also not following that up with some sort of snide commenting about his reading comprehension skills.)

This is a man whose twitter bio says that he is a freelance writer for Runner's World, Running Times, Competitor, and RunBlogRun. You'd think that through all of his professional career, writing on running, that he would have maybe learned how to interact with women.

You can tell him what you think: @JonGugala

COCKINESS: there's a reason the first syllable is "cock."

Edited on the 18th to add: I shouldn't have insinuated that I was calling Gugala a crude term in the last line of this post. It was a cheap shot, and I apologize to him (and my readers) for it. This post has resonated with quite a few people and has ballooned well beyond my usual readership, which consists primarily of a handful of friends, family, and other running bloggers. I typically write for a smaller audience, and I didn't mean to offend anyone.

Edited (again) to add a link to the update.

Read this stuff.

Outside Magazine has a look at recovery techniques, and why we might not need them like we think we do.

In case you're too lazy to click over, the basic gist of it is that recovery techniques (ice bath and compression are cited, in particular) work to, duh, improve how quickly your muscles recover after a hard workout. However, improvement in exercise comes from the body learning how to repair itself after being torn down. So in our haste to "recover," we're inhibiting our progress.

The take home of the article: I now have an excuse to never again take an ice bath if I don't want to.


Next, there's a fascinating post in a NYT blog about the intersection between addiction and exercise. The article cites a study wherein mice were given liquid cocaine and then access to a wheel. The study shows that the mice who had previously had access to the wheel - mice who were already addicted to exercise - were slow to break their addictions to cocaine.

But the article also notes, almost in passing, that the mice who were given a wheel for the first time only after their cocaine was cut off found it "relatively easy to break the habit" - by developing a new habit, namely exercise.

This is something I've long suspected: how many of us have known someone who healed themselves after a drug or alcohol addiction in part by using exercise? And how many of us have watched that person then become compulsive - dare I say addicted - about their exercise?

I'm not criticizing, mind you. But call it what it is: an exercise addiction. This person is not a cured addict; this person has just traded an unhealthy addiction for a healthy one.


Tomorrow: what else can I talk about to avoid having to talk about how my running is going lately?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sex sells, and speed kills

Many of you have probably already seen this... the May cover of Running Times:

Like one of my twitter friends said, "They're just two round cherries." Or one of the lovelies at letsrun, "I just want to take a bite out of that thing."

It brings up all sorts of feminist thoughts for me about selling magazines by exploiting women (they did not have to shoot her from that angle!). But mostly, it brings up all sorts of uncomfortable feelings within me, causing me to question my sexuality. No, no - what is uncomfortable is that I'm not questioning my sexuality when I look at that photo. I'm very, very confident that I am looking at a very, very hot photo.

But now, what are you doing reading this? Shouldn't you be queuing up your live webcast for the fun run that is this year's "The heat is on" Boston Marathon? Remember: THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience. (That's what they're actually saying.)

Precautions are in place for a race in potentially 90 degree temps. Bandits will not have support; everyone is encouraged to slow their pace down; charity runners (officially "those who have not met the qualifying standards for their age and gender") are encouraged not to run; and anyone who is registered who chooses to not run can instead defer their entry to next year.

Remember two years ago, when registering for Boston was such a clusterfuck? And then remember when last year, they lowered the qualifying times needed and revamped the registration process? And remember this year, when they intentionally allowed people to defer, thus further limiting potential entrants next year? Maybe the number of deferrals will be low enough to be nominal? Maybe. Or maybe next year's registration will be a worse clusterfuck.

Welcome to global warming. From now on, races will be even harder to get into as record heat means fun runs, cancellations, and deferrals. Now, only November/December/January/February races are safe in terms of weather. Soon, we'll all be paying $15,000+ to run the Antarctic Marathon... until the ice caps melt, that is.

But Boston did steal my new motto: "Speed can kill."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Charity running and me

As some of you might know, I'm kind of a volunteer junkie. Primarily I help rape crisis and domestic violence victims with the Crime Victims Treatment Center, but I also volunteer through the Doula Project at Planned Parenthood and occasionally for the Red Cross. These things are time-intensive endeavors where I work directly with people in need of help. I'm lucky I have a flexible schedule that allows me to leave my house to assist a rape victim in the middle of the night. I know that not everybody does, though. I know that for some people, it's easier to give money than time. That's awesome - charities need money.

I've always had kind of a vague discomfort with charity running programs because of how they're changing the face of races (you've probably read Chuck Engle's thoughts on Boston, for instance). Some charity programs take a paternalistic attitude that bothers me (I seem to be the only one who's had a bad experience with Girls on the Run, and don't get me started on my feelings about Back on My Feet). Also, running is a selfish pursuit for me. And then there's the fiscally minded me, who'd rather donate directly to a charity I support and see 90%+ of my money go to the cause, rather than ~70%. But mostly I take a "you do you" approach to running - if charity running's your thing, power to you. When I get to the point where races are not worth running anymore, I'll stop doing races. I'll never stop running until I physically can't.

A few months ago, I agreed to coach a charity running group. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there were many problems with this from the get go: my lack of any coaching certification (I never presented myself as a trained coach but was hired based on experience); the fact that I was doing it in large part as a favor to a friend/my co-coach; and my ambivalence toward charity running. The position was paid, although the money that I would get was a pittance compared to the work needed, and I was doing it more as a charitable endeavor than a job.

For a few days in early February, things were great. I was excited. I felt like I could help people learn to love running while helping the charity get much-needed income. Then things went wrong. Terribly wrong.

I'm not going to name the charity. It's a fine organization that does great work. Unfortunately, one of the things they do not do well is manage this particular branch of their charity running program. Every single thing I did was wrong, from the photo I sent for their website to the fact that I prefer email over phone calls. Damningly, the beginner training plan my co-coach and I designed was watered down beyond efficacy. After I realized that our disagreements weren't going to resolve themselves, and after I realized that I was spending hours each week trying to work these disagreements out, I knew I had to get out. I resigned yesterday. I felt terrible about quitting, but this thing I was doing to be nice was turning me into a very, very not nice person. Their response to my resignation confirmed that I had made the right decision.

I'm not entirely sure what the point of writing this is. I'm still ambivalent on charity running programs - I have too many dear friends who've run for charity, for reasons both noble (raising money for causes that are personal to them) and not-as-noble (getting into races that are otherwise closed) to condemn charity running entirely. But... but... it's not for me. I know that now for certain.

So do me a favor: don't hit me up for money the next time you're fundraising. Or if you do ask, please don't be offended if I'm reluctant to donate.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Registration for the Goofy Challenge opens at noon today.

I mean, if you're into that sort of thing. Um, not like I know anyone who might be.

Don't be surprised if I'm $320 poorer tomorrow.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why didn't anyone tell me this sooner?

I became privy to the worst kept secret in all of running this morning.

After more than a decade of running, at least 10,000 miles over thousands of runs, for the first time today I ran in shorts with no underwear underneath. (The shorts had a liner, obviously.)

I felt so free. And happy. And I won't continue telling you how I felt, because this isn't that kind of blog. But it was an overall positive experience. Possibly even life-changing.

Underwear: one less thing to have to remember to pack for out-of-town races.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Things I learned during my two minutes of "fame"

This is what your viewing statistics look like after your blog is mentioned on letsrun:

So, just like one race victory made me an expert on winning, one brief mention on letsrun has made me an expert on fame in the running community.

Let's recap the events of last Friday, aka The Day That Will Live In Infamy In Tracy's Running Career. Better than the day Sage Canaday tweeted me, better than the day I ran up Mt. Washington. As far as I can reconstruct, one of my twitter followers (with whom I've never interacted) posted my blog on reddit. She said I was "seriously fast, without the serious attitude." Half-truth! I don't have a serious attitude, and others were more than happy to point out that I'm not fast. From there, it worked its way onto letsrun... and my page views spiked.

After having been a runner for nearly 15 years - which I do believe might be somewhere around the age of many letsrun posters and is definitely the age of the site's layout - I thought I'd seen it all. Not so much.

Things I've learned since my blog went apeshit:
-If you are slow, people will tell you that you're fat. (Yeah, yeah, we've been over this already.)
-If you are slow, people will assume you run with a jogging stroller. (This one befuddles me. I have no kids.)
-If you are slow, people will tell you that you are "not a real runner" and that you "pollute the sport." (Rolling my eyes a little here...)
-Some people get it. These people are very nice. (Hint: I know I'm not going to qualify for the Olympic Trials.)
-Some people don't. (I was called "disrespectful to those men and women who are taking the olympics seriously.")

I think my favorite comment was the person who (anonymously, natch, and I assume sarcastically) linked an article on how to finish a marathon in 5 hours into a comment on my blog. Thanks for that! But after 11 slow marathons, I think I might have that one down pat.

Next up: moving on to regular, intermittent, lazy, (mostly) sarcastic blogging.