ONSET RUNNING AS WE ONSET 2018

As we exit Anno Domini 2017 and enter the new year of 2018, there are many here among us who have resolved to make a better man or woman of themselves in the coming twelve months.  And within that set of resolutionists are many who have chosen running as the means to their end.

To each who have made that choice, we rose-lipt maidens and lightfoot lads who made that same resolution long ago say, good choice and good luck.  But we also remind you that nothing good comes easily, nor would you want it to.  A better you isn’t something that can be wrapped and left beneath the Christmas tree.  Instead, it presents in the form of a long, drawn-out process that builds day by day, week by week, month by month.  Yes, the running hustle exacts a toll for its rewards and pleasures.

For that toll alone, it strikes many as amazing that any endeavor requiring discomfort and delayed gratification ever caught on in the first place in this ADHD society, much less that it swelled to the size that it has – which, BTW, is somewhat below its peak numbers of 2014.

Notwithstanding, as anyone who picked up running in their adult years can tell you, the first time you try it you end up overheating like a  `71 Ford Pinto, feel a severe pain in your side like Jesus being doubt-probed by Thomas, and possibly end up bent at the waist wheezing like you’re trying to make music through the broken toe of an old wooden leg.  And that’s before you ever get pushed, in which case there is likely to be vomiting involved. In other words, onset running is a lot like onset cigarette smoking.  That anyone continues either after day one, much less for decades, is stunning.  So, evidently, there has to be something there that isn’t apparent at the start. Continue reading

2016 INTO 2017

OK, we closed the books on the 2016 campaign, which was a bit of a momentous year both in the sport and around the wider world.  Now we move on into 2017, which is an odd year, but at the same time it remains all pink and fresh and unsullied. That won’t last for long, of course, but at present we are all once again full of potential and optimism.  As always there will be lots of ups and more than a few downs over the next 12 months, but as a grizzled curmudgeon there were a few lingering thoughts that rattled around year’s closing.  So here we go with a few random considerations.

#1.

nyc-crowd-first-avenue

Come on 2017! You can do it!

I know they mean well, but don’t you sometimes wish bad things on the good people standing on the sidelines while they blithely cheer on passing runners?  Yeah, they can be a godsend, but late in the race when things have gone sour, and you just want to be invisible and get the darn thing finished, that one-cheer-fits-all lack of effort, I mean, depending on your state of affairs, can’t they sometimes just make the long journey that much more arduous?

First of all, the only reason races like the six Abbott World Marathon Majors have crowds the size they do is because their courses run past peoples’ houses.  It’s not like folks drove to the game; they just walked outside.  And with races starting so early to avoid upsetting even more of the driving public, you run through entire neighborhoods where half the people are standing out there in their pajamas, scratching their private parts, drinking coffee while mumbling encouragement with half-chewed cheese Danish hanging from their yap.

And if you have already gone about 20 miles, you’ve burned through your glycogen stores, lost all contact with endorphins, have sore feet, achy legs, bad breath, and the formation of a chip on your shoulder the size of Rhode Island.  So when some normal in PJs yells out, “you only have six more miles left”, thinking they’re being part of your effort, what they don’t realize is if there was a gun handy, and you could reach it, you’d shoot yourself in the head (and maybe them as you fell).

Don’t be telling me I’ve got six more miles to go! That’s like Moses telling the Israelites, “Suck it up! You’ve only got the Sinai left to cross to get home from Egypt.”  Not helpful. Continue reading

ATLANTA TRACK CLUB CELEBRATING ALL-METRO RUNNERS

We are right in the middle of post-season for high school cross country. NXN was last weekend in Portland, Oregon, while the Foot Locker Nationals come up this weekend at San Diego’s Balboa Park. Tonight, though, I’ll be hosting the 53rd annual Atlanta Track Club All-Metro Cross Country Awards banquet, a celebration of excellence that goes all the way back to the start of the ATC.

The All-Metros continue to inform the club’s spirit of promoting a healthy and active lifestyle no matter where one is in their life-cycle. 42 young athletes representing 31 schools will be feted tonight as members of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd All-Metro Teams. Two coaches will also be recognized for their outstanding dedication to the sport.

Atlanta TC Executive Director Rich Kenah is just completing his third year heading the country’s second largest running club (28,000), and has continued expanding the club’s focus on  encouraging youth participation and rewarding its excellence. Congrats to all the 2016 Atlanta TC All-Metro Team selections.

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On the other end of the age scale, here’s something I’ve always wondered. Why do they call 40-year olds “Masters”?  Are they kidding? Believe me, by the time you hit the big 4-0, you’re no master, you’re losing your mastery.

Look, a master craftsman is one who gets better with age, I get that. But you don’t get better as a runner at 40 (much less 50,60, or 70). You just slower, if you can run at all. At the very least it takes forever just to find race photo that shows you with both feet off the ground. It’s pathetic, not masterful.

Anyway, everyone in the upper age divisions are always getting hurt, too. And not just little niggles from running. The one that gets me is when you start hurting yourself sleeping.

I get people asking all the time: “What happened to you? Why are you holding your neck like that?”
“I slept wrong.”
“Slept wrong? How, in the name of God, do you hurt yourself sleeping?”
“Yeah, well, maybe you should ask that all-loving God of ours. Seems to be one of His mysteries.”

Sure, I remember the days when I could feel the wind blowing my hair back when I stepped on the gas while racing. Kinda like Keninise Bekele and Wilson Kipsang must have felt in Berlin earlier this season (well, if they had long, flowing hair).

But add a few decades onto those two 34 year-olds, and they’ll be hoping to still have hair that’s not coming in tufts out of their noses and ears, or growing like a chia pet on their backs. I’ll tell you, the first time you go to the hair salon and the nice looking young woman starts clipping at your nose and ear hairs, well, that’s a crossroads day.

So I say enjoy it while you got it, kiddies. It ain’t no endless road. One foot in front of another is one thing, but blowin’ in the wind at some point just becomes another old Bob Dylan song.

END

DYLAN AWARDED NOBEL PRIZE

Dylan - American poet

Dylan – American poet

The times they are still a changin’. Today, the Nobel prize for literature has been awarded to American singer – songwriter Bob Dylan. The 75 year-old music icon becomes the first songwriter ever awarded the prize, and the $905,000 that attends it.

Reports say there was both applause and laughter in the hall when the Swedish Academy panel made its announcement,  Evidently, some still look at popular songwriting as a hybrid art form that shouldn’t be eligible for a purely literary prize. As Dylan himself said years ago, his words are no more important than his music. They are meant to be taken as one.

But according to the Swedish Academy Dylan was being honored “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Continue reading