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"

Friday, August 31, 2012

I contend...

...that if you've run a sub-3 hour marathon, you don't refer to it casually and nonchalantly as "2:50-something," as though you can't remember your time.

How long was that marathon?

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Those of you who belong to the NYRR or are running NYCM this year may have seen an announcement this morning: there will no longer be baggage check at the NYCM as of this year.

Instead of the UPS trucks carrying your one clear bag of stuff from Staten Island to Central Park, you'll be given a fleece lined poncho at the finish and allowed to exit the park immediately. They'll have phone stations set up so you can call your family if you need. And don't forget, marathon runners ride the subway free on race day.

Judging from the response I witnessed on twitter and facebook this morning, you'd think that NYRR had just announced that NYCM was going to kidnap the young children of any racer and feed them, still alive, to Mary Wittenberg. The sense of entitlement is astounding - as, I understand, is the cost of registration for NYCM.

I, for one, LOVE this policy. I ran this race the past two years (and spectated for my sister the year prior), and the finish line was an absolute terror. The level of congestion absolutely without a doubt colored the overall race experience - negatively. The finish area is a part of the race that needed to change, and I applaud their efforts. A fledgling attempt to move Wave 1 baggage trucks last year didn't do anything for the majority of racers.

Here's what I said about the finish area in 2010:
I finished, got my medal, got my mylar, got my Gatorade Recovery Drink (I call this beverage "miracle"), and... stalled.  What a terrible, terrible finish chute.  There was no way to exit the park without walking past the UPS trucks/baggage pick up, and the crowd of thousands of runners was not moving.  It took me 30 minutes to walk less than half a mile.  30 painful, cold, claustrophobic, intense minutes of tensing up.  That was a mess-up.
And in 2011:
But the finish area - the finish area! What a nightmare the NYCM finish area is (still!) A claustrophobic, disastrous, terrible half mile of death-shuffle. I had to push through crowds of people wanting their picture taken in order to have my medal handed to me, and then I had to push again to get a bag with Gatorade and water in it. It took me nearly 30 minutes to get 10 blocks out of the park, while crammed between barricades and UPS trucks with NYRR volunteers with bullhorns watching me from lifeguard chairs.
I do get why people would have liked to know about this change in advance, but I suspect NYRR has been working on it quietly and didn't want to announce it until they were certain it would be happening.

Everyone this morning is full of Ideas, like they know exactly how they can improve the system and they've thought of things that NYRR hasn't. (Put the finish line on Central Park West! Put the bag trucks on Central Park West! Force the city to expand the road in Central Park for US because it's all about US! CHANGE THE COURSE!) Trust me, NYRR explored those possibilities. Either that, or people are full of accusations that NYRR is doing this only to make money - possible, but they're replacing an effectively free baggage claim run by volunteers and a major race sponsor (UPS) with the additional expense of ponchos.

We'll see in November. I, for one, am optimistic.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


So I got this harassing email from my sister yesterday, angry that I haven't blogged in a while.

The resemblance to me is uncanny.
I'd apologize for that, but nah. I just don't want to blog. And that's okay. I appreciate that she enjoys my blog - and thank you to both of you who actually still check back here, what with my erratic posting schedule. But I haven't been running much, and I'm facing the dual reality that a) I'm very, very okay with that in the short term, and b) it almost definitely means that I won't be doing the ultra I'd planned on in October - and I'm okay with that, too.

I'd like to be running more, sure, and I've been feeling kind of depressio lately, which is probably a direct result of not running. But I'm waiting for the day when I wake up super super excited to run to return to it. I think that day is near. This isn't one of those periods where I need to be forcing myself to do it, and that's okay. (If I keep saying that it's okay, I'll start to believe it, right? RIGHT?)

So anyway, my sister tells me that I need to blog. She even goes so far as to send me blog ideas. One of them was Kip Litton, the marathon-winning Michigan dentist who is actually an elaborate cheat. The New Yorker wrote an amazing story about him recently, finally exposing the extent of his deception in a major publication instead of on the pages of letsrun.

Her second idea was another cheater, also fresh from the pages of letsrun. I told her that if she cared so much then she should just write about it (you can be a full-on brat and speak petulantly like that to your siblings). And she did. Here, after that lengthy intro, is what my sister has to say:
Connie Mendoza, a rather fit looking master's runner from California, cheated at the San Francisco marathon recently and won the master's division.  Cheaters suck, especially when they are cheating someone out of a well earned award.  But 539 comments on a Letsrun.com thread?  Really?  Why do people who have nothing to do with the situation care so much?  I didn't read the entire discussion, but from what I gather it gets really interesting around page 19 when the (people who have nothing better to do with their time) contributors discover the SF MEN'S MASTERS WINNER also cheated!  hah.


So, moral of the story, James Kalani and Connie Mendoza are cheaters.  Hundreds of letsrun.com disciples make it their current life's mission to discuss this at length for no apparent reason.
I'm not sure I agree with my sister entirely. First off, I totally absolutely adamantly like really really disagree with her body policing. What's the relevance of Mendoza being "fit looking"? She legitimately ran a 3:06 marathon - who cares if she's "fit looking" or not when she can run that fast.

And then... letsrun. Yeah, they're obsessed. Ahem. But she cheated. And that's not cool. She not only cheated by cutting the course, but in doing so she knowingly cheated someone who deserved it out of a hard won award. Personally, I'm glad that there are people there who've taken the time to expose this. And, could you not argue that my sister has nothing better to do with her time than to harangue on the letsrunners for haranguing on a cheater?

Phew. If you've stayed with me this long, thank you again. Here's a reward: a photo of me (tiny, in back in the red skirt) running down Bleecker Street as part of Claire's Beer Run last Sunday.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oh, Nike

You're so cutting edge and funny, with your sexism and stuff.

Damn, yo. Way to honor those female Olympic athletes.

Read more about it here and here. Or don't, because it's gross.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I hate Prospect Park

There, I said it. And it feels really, really good to say it.

I know it's only been two weeks and a handful of runs/bike rides. But I hate it. And I need suggestions on an attitude adjustment.

My old running route along the West Side Highway in upper Manhattan was idyllic. It was quiet, serene, peaceful, and beautiful. It was possible to have a bad run along there, yes, but it wasn't possible to be in a bad mood while there. (I know; I tried it. Without fail, I felt calm when I was there.) The river, immediately adjacent to the path, was picturesque. You were in the city and yet you weren't, all at once. I loved it.

But now my old route is an impossible hour away by subway and I'm stuck running in Prospect Park. And I hate it. I realized why when I was running this morning: it's the outdoor equivalent of treadmill running. The perfectly paved path, the carefully manicured greenery, the loop that twists and turns at just the right casual-yet-completely-planned trajectory... It's manufactured outdoors. Outdoors lite.


Combine that with its popularity. Moms walking four abreast pushing strollers. Parents teaching their kids how to rollerblade or bike. Runners, walkers, fast and slow, taking up my path. Plus, like its Manhattan neighbor (Central Park), it's a fashion show.

I know I should feel grateful that I live less than half a mile from a scenic, paved running trail. I have an uninterrupted 3.36m loop, and I don't have to run through the streets, stopping at lights and for cars. But instead I feel like a petulant, pouty brat who wants to stomp her feet and shake her fists at the thought of doing another loop of that damned park. I can listen to music to drown out my own boredom, but I don't like to rely on my headphones.

How do I fix this?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ask and ye shall receive

You google for it, I provide results: Galen Rupp shirtless. With Mo Farah (courtesy of his tweets).

There is a lot about this photo I don't understand. Maybe now that they're gold and silver medalists, Nike can pop for a second ice bath tank? And do they always bring a photographer with them into the bathroom?

Excuse me while I go look at some Ryan Hall naked to cleanse my palate.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Flying Monkey Marathon

Today is Wednesday, 8 August, and the lottery for the Flying Monkey Marathon has just closed.

And my name was not entered into it.

That makes the second hard-to-get-into fall marathon I've had a guaranteed entry into that I've instead chosen not to enter. (I had a guaranteed entry to this year's Monkey as a result of finishing last year's, and I had a guaranteed entry to NYCM as a result of doing last year's 9+1.)

That is okay by me.
Okay, no it's actually not.

Maybe I'll run the Brooklyn Marathon instead. Or maybe I'll sit on my couch eating ice cream.

All I know for sure is that I've run these two races the past two years, and it's time to take a break.

For now. Maybe next year?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sarah Attar: Saudi American?

One of the quietly powerful stories to come out of this year's Olympics - at least if you have a personal interest in the middle east, like I do - is the increased participation we've seen from women representing Arab states.

In particular, articles I've read lately have featured a few different athletes: from Saudi Arabi, Sarah Attar will compete in the 800m; also from Saudi, Wojdan Shaherkani competed in judo; from Afghanistan, Tahmina Kohistani in the 100m, and Woroud Sawalha will compete for Palestine in the 800m.

Now, sure, the women I just named are all competing without having technically met the qualifying standards (they're participating under a clause that allows for under-represented countries to be included). In other words, we know they'll lose before they even toe the line because they don't perform at the level of international elites. But even their inclusion in these contests is a sign of progress for the middle east, where women's participation in sports isn't always encouraged.

Well... not so fast.

From what I've read of Shaherkani's story, that holds true.
From what I've read of Sarah Attar's story, I'm not so sure. I don't want to downplay her Saudi heritage or the impact that her participation might have as an inspiration to future generations of Saudi women, but she's a college student at Pepperdine who was born and raised in the US. She competes for their track team (wearing shorts and singlets) - although you won't readily find images of that, as they were all scrubbed from Pepperdine's website/her facebook page prior to her inclusion on the Olympic team. Instead of the California clothing she's no doubt used to, she'll be competing in a hijab and conservative dress as befits a Saudi athlete. This seems disingenuous to me, almost as though she's wearing an Olympic costume (rather than a uniform).

These women are all extraordinary exceptions. Saudi culture in particular but middle eastern culture in general poses a lot of barriers to women participating openly and equally in sports, from societal norms to issues of dress or decorum. So I applaud them for being role models for women and girls throughout the middle east.

But secretly the western feminist in me would rather see them actually compete to win, as in: a competitive program that trains women athletes to the best of their abilities on an international level. Even if it means competing without the conservative dress. I mean, if the imams can issue a fatwa postponing the Ramadan fast, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, exactly how bad would it be for a female athlete to show a little leg during competition?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Really, Essie?

Because when I workout, I want to be SURE that my nail polish reflects the fact that I run marathons to be skinny!!! <3 p="p">
That's sarcasm, btw. "Marathin" kinda makes me retch a little.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I still don't have anything to say, so read this stuff instead:

In case all of your facebook/twitter friends haven't posted this in your feed already... the Onion reports on marathon runners. Yeah, we all know that guy. Many of us are that guy.

This race in Prospect Park is in my hood in a couple of weeks and they're giving pint glasses at the finish. You should do it!

If you care, you probably already know all of this, but here are the air times for the Olympic track and field events so you don't have to watch any of that crappy swimming and gymnastics to get to the running.

Brooke has some awesome commentary on Born to Run and barefoot running. Read it.