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"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The road to hell is paved with my old blog entries

Or maybe the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Same-same.

I was reading through my blog archives (ah, the joys of having several years of your running history documented on the interwebs), and I was reading things like, "Now I'm going to start doing speedwork!" or, "I'm totally going to run Pikes Peak sometime soon!"

But if there's one thing I've learned reading running blogs, it's that you want to read about winners. You want to read about people who run hard and do a good job at running cool races - not people who sit on their couch eating ice cream again instead of taking their training seriously.

I like to think that I'm pretty well in touch with my abilities. However, sometimes my physical abilities (what I could be capable of doing) conflict with my motivation (what I can actually get myself to do). And therein lies the problem. I want to be a better runner... sort of. I just don't want it enough.

Some of this I've understood about myself for a while: I use running as a stress release, as relaxation. When I train, I have to turn running into something goal oriented, something competitive, something that's the antithesis of relaxation. And then I risk enjoying it less.

I don't have any deep thoughts to go along with this. I just wanted to acknowledge that I see this problem and that it frustrates me. To close with another cliche, I'm not going to make any excuses. My friends don't need them and my enemies won't believe them.

Besides, I'm totally going to start following a training schedule tomorrow, man. Tomorrow. There will be speedwork. And races. And crazy time goals. Right? Right?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The ethics of bib transfers

Overall, I consider myself to be a fairly ethical person.

I try not to knowingly break the law, and when I do I pay the consequences (literally pay: yes, I'm looking at you, Cape Cod police officer who gave me the $170 speeding ticket Labor Day weekend). I don't download movies or music illegally. I don't use prescription drugs that aren't prescribed to me and I don't use them for anything other than their intended use. I haven't used any illegal drugs since I smoked pot a few times in high school (and got really sick and threw up for days, but that's another story). I've never jailbroken an iphone. I try to be a fair and honest person in my dealings with coworkers and acquaintances.

And yet, I recently had someone tell me that he considered me to be terribly unethical. And it was because of a running-related issue that I hadn't even given a second thought to: an "illegal" bib transfer. (Not that it makes a difference for the greater ethical question, but I was technically only a conduit in this bib exchange - I helped a friend find someone to run a race when she couldn't.)

My first marathon. Whatever happened
to Race Ready shorts? They were
the RAGE then.
Here are the rules, as you know: Most races, with the exception of Marine Corps, do not allow bib transfers for any reason. When you buy a bib, you are committing to run the race. If you get injured, if your plans change, if you die, or if you otherwise just don't want to run the race, that's too bad. You're out the money and no one can race in your name.

Thing is, racing has changed a lot in the past few years. I signed up for my first marathon about two weeks before the race (by mailing a check! I'm so old). Nowadays, major races sell out months in advance - sometimes on the day registration opens, months before training even begins, long before you have any sense of what your plans will be. I also remember, fondly, paying about $60 to register for this race (and thinking that was expensive) - this year's NYCM cost $266 to register. Obviously races count on non-participants, overselling their events safe in the knowledge that many people won't toe the line. So why does it often feel sort of like they're taking advantage of you?

Naturally, this creates a large market for bibs. Search craigslist shortly before a major race and you'll find loads of people trying to unload their bibs and recoup some of their registration fees.

Typically, I've treated bib transfers as a victimless non-crime. In fact, I honestly saw it as completely harmless and never even gave it a second thought. Someone paid for a race registration, thus reserving a slot in the race. What difference does it make who the person showing up is, whether they're different from the one who signed up or not? As long as they're not being intentionally deceptive - i.e., making large sums of money off the transaction or getting someone to run the race in their name in order to qualify for Boston - what's the harm? I can give away my theater tickets to a friend - what's the difference? Plus, it has a rather David and Goliath/Robin Hood feel to it, with the greedy race directors taking advantage of the innocent runners. And here's your chance to get something back from the big guy!

So is it unethical, or is it our prerogative as consumers? Have we bought the bib, in which case it's ours to do with as we want? Or should I be thinking of it like airline tickets, and accepting that non-transferable does mean non-transferable?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Updates on things that bring people to my blog

Being as I'm not exactly generating much new content these days,* I figured I'd go through my stats and see why it is that people actually still find their way over here. There are a few search terms that dominate my blog statistics; consider this a cheat sheet to my most sought after posts (and then please explain to me why oh why some of these have had this much longevity!).

1) [insert creepy skinny male runner] shirtless/naked: Galen Rupp, Mo Farah, Ryan Hall - ladies (and I'm sure some dudes) are looking for eye candy. Glad I could help, even if most of us are scarred (rather than turned on) by these images.

NB: Sage Canaday shirtless is not creepy. Sage Canaday shirtless is a present.

2) running skirts: Yes, I still wear them, although I've also introduced a couple of pairs of shorts into the repertoire. I like shorts and always have, I just don't like that they never fit me well. Skirts are my jam; skirts are reliable and work for me. Because the last thing I want to be thinking about when I'm running is my shorts riding up.

3) low ferritin and running: I've struggled with my iron levels for a while now. I get tired and lethargic, so I go to the doctor and she tells me to take iron; a few weeks later I feel better and she tells me that my levels are up and that I should stop; a few months later I feel tired and lethargic again... At present I have it mostly under control, which is to say that I've chosen not to go to the doctor about it and am instead dealing with it by mostly forgetting to take my iron pills and just complaining, loudly, about why I'm always so tired.

Hey, my doctor is in Harlem still, and since I moved to Brooklyn, that means like 3 hours round trip. And don't suggest I switch doctors - I love her to pieces. I'm just saving up problems so I can hit her with a long list when I finally make the trip.

4) port a potty: Yes, yes, last year I had a very annoying race that devolved into a run-in (ha ha, "run" in, get it? triple entendre!) with a port a potty. And I blogged about it. And a full year later, people still find my blog looking for info about port a potties. And truth be told, I'm not entirely sure I've even used another port a potty since then. And you people can be kind of creepy.

Inexplicable truth: my blog is the first result when you do
a google image search for "port a potty." And I just made
it worse.

*I am running, just not a super lot. And I'm okay with that. And nothing interesting is happening on my runs lately, thus I have nothing really to say.**
**Actually I have a lot to say, but most of it is either mean-spirited, totally personal***, or depressing.
***I really, really hate when bloggers are all, "There's so much going on, but I'm not really comfortable sharing it with the blog!" Here's something novel: then just don't share it. We don't know what you don't tell us. That said, there's so much going on in my life right now, but I'm not really comfortable sharing it with the blog!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A PSA for marathon training season

Chaffing: present participle of "chaff," meaning to tease (more commonly, chaff is used as a noun to describe "the husks of corn or other seed separated by winnowing or threshing.")

Chafing: present participle of "chafe," meaning either to "make (a part of the body) sore by rubbing against it," or to "be or become sore as a result of such rubbing."

Ahem. Let this never be your issue.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Boston registration opens up this morning for the Paul Ryans of the world who have met their qualifying standard by 20 minutes or more. (Actually, he needs to up his lying game: he was still a little too slow to have been able to register today.) I think this year, like every year so far, I'm going to sit Boston out. Yeah.

But! I did something amazing over the weekend! I ran, like an actual double digit run that could maybe be referred to as "long"! I know, right? I was all ready to direct you to Angry Runner's latest post, where she says what I've been thinking but angrier (and thinner and faster, the bitch). But see! Magic! I had one good run and now my life is totally different! Right?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Two NYRR type things

Bag drop redux
In case you're not on their mailing list, JackRabbit is offering a super convenient NYCM bag drop to the first 1,000 runners to register for it. You can leave your bag at their store near the finish line (or their store in Brooklyn) the day before the race, and pick it up after the race. You even get a free bag out of the deal!

Personally, I believe the conspiracy theory that says that it's the city's fault that there won't be a baggage drop, that the city insisted that the Park be cleared sooner this year than in the past. Let's face it; whether you agree or disagree with the new baggage policy, the Park exit has been a nightmare. And marathon times are only getting slower, meaning that more and more people are still in the park later and later. I wouldn't blame the city for cracking down on that.

The Bronx
Let's say that I knew someone who was registered for the Bronx 10m race this Sunday and didn't want to run it... let's just say that for a minute. Is there any chance that you know anyone who would like to run it, for free? I'll even deliver the race number/t-shirt to you on Friday. Please, please - it would be a huge favor to me!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Never saw THAT coming...

As Mike pointed out in the comments on my last post (via slate), and as the New Yorker and the New York Times* both also confirmed, Paul Ryan didn't run a sub-three hour marathon. He ran a 4 hour marathon.

Does it matter? Does this make him a fabulist, as Paul Krugman claims, or is it just some meaningless macho bravado from a guy who probably could have gone sub-3 in the peak of his fitness if he'd tried? I dunno. This isn't a political blog.

Oh, btw: I totally ran a sub-4 hour marathon. Yeah, it was like 3-something, mid-3s, you know, 3:20-something.

For your amusement, and totally unrelated: a photo of the grossest thing I've seen in years, far grosser than politics could ever ever be:

White chocolate candy corn m&ms. This product is real.
*As a New Yorker, I only now need the Daily News to tackle this issue for the trifecta to be complete. Oh, wait...