Marathon Man Postlude the Final

First, notice that the entire blog is working once again. Oh, I am so happy! I’ll be adding a standard RSS feed sometime as well, right below that Atom feed button on the left side. Oooo, isn’t it swell?

Just one last note about the training and aftermath. This morning I did not get up early, and I did not run up and down the Pittman Wash trail for several hours. That made it the weirdest, and longest, Sunday Morning of the past six months. Last night I attended the party the LVTC throws every year for Marathoners, which was fun. I got to see a lot of my friends out of uniform, so so speak, and I admit I didn’t recognize quite a few right off. Give ’em the shorts and shirt and I’d know ’em anywhere. Jeans and a long-sleeved winter shirt and, huh, whodat?

This is my last entry in this series of logs, but just once more, let me commend to you the experience of training for and running a Marathon as being educational, fun, and extremely rewarding. Sometimes it hurts, but it’s worth every ache and pain. Besides, somebody invented Ibuprofen. I am going to run more long races, starting with the Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego next June. Training starts next month. As I told the organizer of the Roadrunners last night, I can’t wait to get started.

So, as they say, gotta run. Thanks for reading.

Steve

PS — I ordered a photo of myself in abut the third mile. I’ll post a small version of it when I arrives. I was looking damn good in the third mile . . . 😉

PPS: If you want to read the posting from right after the race, click here.

Al Franken is What?

The thing is, I enjoy reading Al Franken. If you think that makes me a Liberal Weenie, so be it. He’s a funny author to read, and I especially like his titles, such as “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations” because I tend to agree with them. I mean, if Rush isn’t a Big Fat Idiot, I don’t know who is. And drug addled, too, but I guess prescription drugs don’t count. Anyway, a few years ago Al wrote a book called “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.” More recently he put out “The Truth, With Jokes.” The “Lies” book was pretty funny, so I opened “The Truth” with some anticipation. Unfortunately, it isn’t all that funny.

Oh, he tries to be funny, puttting in bogus statistics and made-up reviews of his own prowress, but mostly he does put in the truth, and all it does is make me mad. For example, he quotes Cheney, Rice, Powell and Bush prior to 9-11 talking about how the best thing that needed to be done was that “Star Wars” initiative, or missile shield defense. Also all of those except Bush said prior to 9-11, in so many words, that Hussein was pretty much neutralized as a threat to his region, much less to the rest of the world. That is the truth.

Then he quotes the same bunch post 9-11 as they whipped up support for going into Iraq to liberate the country. They claimed that there was a positive and clear link between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Ladin. I was one of a tiny minority who knew, and said so at the time, that that was pure fantasy (I used a different term with my (ex) friends, but I’ll keep it clean here.) But that isn’t what makes me mad. Later, each one of them claimed that they had not said exactly what they in fact most clearly had said. But even that isn’t what makes me mad. Heck, it’s a free country, they can say what they like. What makes me really mad is that all of the media, and not just Fox Cable News here, but the Washington Post, the New York Times, everybody except the Village Voice, apparently, boosted and supported that entire set of lying BS for months, years even. Why? What in heck is a press for if not to ask the obvious questions? Now that makes me mad as hell, but I’ll probably keep on taking it, because I don’t see a lot of alternatives. I did, as I aid, point out the error of the information at the time, not that anyone was listening.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have put my criticism in articles like See Those Students Run, which were intended to be funny. Subtlety isn’t a great way to get your point across, after all.

Al also tells about something called Terror Management Techniques, an area of research that demonstrates, actually scientifically (a viewpoint foreign to the idealists in charge of the administration, by the way) that getting people to visualize their own death is a great way to get them to give up essential freedoms, follow stupid but firm-sounding leaders, and believe any type of horse hockey those leaders dish out. That’s the truth, also. Guess what the entire administration devoted years to? Yep, getting people to think about their own death. Michael Moore was right on that point: those guys were using fear to control the American people. Of course, they used that same fear to get people to hate Michael Moore almost as much as they hated Bill Clinton, but that’s the way it is when you don’t have truth on your side: you lie in a way that gets people to vote against their own interest. And that really makes me mad, too.

I wish it were as simple as saying “Look people, everybody dies, there’s no getting around it, so how about concentrating on living while you’ve got the chance?” Unfortunately, that doesn’t appeal to any emotion other than that same old fear of death, so ultimately it defeats itself. Nice, huh? It’s true, for what that’s worth. But, here’s a guideline, one more time: If an explanation seems simple and easy to understand and feels really good to believe, it’s probably a bill of goods, false, a pack of lies, and simply not true. That’s harsh and hard, I know, but it’s true. That doesn’t come from Al Franken, it comes from me. But I do worry about something.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I am apparently immune to those techniques that use fear to bring people in line? Am I wise and mature or somehow emotionally damaged? It could go either way, you know. Huh. Maybe I am a Liberal Weenie. Tough Caca. I don’t expect politicians to always be honest in the way I expect a grocer to be honest, but I expect a poliltician to be honest enough to support and defend that which he or she swears to support and defend. In the case of national officers, that would be the Constitution of the United States of America. You can bet that the next time some jerk in a position to do us real damage starts lying just to control people I won’t be making funny articles about it. Thanks to Al, I’m mad as hell, and I really am not going to take it any more.

On the other hand, I still like writing humor, so check the Funny Page next Sunday and see what’s changed.

Later, Dudes and Dudettes . . .

Great Googley-(dare I say it?)-Moogley!

If you’re reading this then you know that I have finally solved my little problem.
Technically, I had to change the relative path of my blog files. It was still the same as in the old Blogger, but I guess the new Blogger is pickier, or something. Anyway, it’s fixed. I’ll be putting the Atom feed links back in while I’m at it. Not that they’ve been working lately.

The posting about my day at the race is on the humor page, in fact here. I did that in frustration, as explained on the page, but I’ll just leave it there and post a new humor page over the upcoming weekend.

So, I’m back to liking Blogger okay, and I do hope that this is the end of the strange issues I’ve been having, as indeed it seems to be. I’ll post a regular post just above this one, so’s you’ll know I’m not giving up my ranting ways.

Ciao for now!

Steve

Marathon Man (Training) Part the Last

This will be the last Marathon Man post until after the race. The sum total of what I still need to do to train for the race is zilch, or nada, nothing, zero, bupkis, or as they say, nothing at all. The only training this week is staying loose and fattening up a bit. I think I can do that.

I had a near disaster this week when my knee started a twinge right at the end of my Wednesday training run. Thursday is weight lifting day, so on Friday I was disappointed that my knee started to twinge right off. I rode the exercise bike that morning (gads but I hate an exercise bike) and that afternoon went to my favorite running store (The Village Runner in Henderson) and got some brand-new, really cushy insoles. Not only did my knee not twinge today but I set a personal record (for my Marathon training) of eleven minutes per mile, which is so much faster than my usual that it’s actually almost frightening. So the moral is, I guess, for a flat-foot like me, you can’t have too much padding under your feet. They make a model of my shoe that already has the padding in it, but I’m not sure how much more they charge for it. Maybe I’ll just buy my next pair with the soft stuff already inserted.

The toll from training, now that it’s over, is one sore knee from insufficient padding (last Summer, and it was really sore, not just twinging); another sore knee from wearing shoes that didn’t correct for pronation (flat-footedness); a strained hip that took a couple of months to completely go away, and several sets of blisters on my toes.

The benefits of training include, among other things, the ability to run at least twenty miles non-stop; loss of grey hair which has been replaced by dark brown (my original color) hair; according to the guy who cuts my dark brown hair, more hair (I had no idea I was joining Hair Club for Runners); very strong legs; a jacket that’s four-inches bigger around the chest than I’ve ever worn before; and an attitude of sticking with a project no matter what, which I figure has to come in handy any time.

I remember running in June, such as I could run, how the least uphill would cause me to drop to a walk. I’d try to walk as fast as I could, but that’s all I could do, and sometimes it wasn’t that fast. My initial pace was around seventeen minutes per mile, which is sad when you consider that I can walk eighteen minute miles all day. (I’ve always had long legs and been able to walk fast.) Also the summer heat was really, really, truly, no kidding, oppressive, and I learned to love Gatorade brand as if it were the finest beverage ever invented. Come to think of it, it just may be at that. I was sad not to win a ‘door prize’ of a year’s worth of powdered Gatorade concentrate today, but I’ll survive. They sell it everywhere, after all.

I also remember back in my days running 10-k (ten kilometer) races, which for those of you who insist is roughly 6.2 miles, that six miles was, well, the race, and a long run. We did six miles in the Roadrunners training group today, and called it a giggle run, which was fair. I was barely warmed up. That takes nine to ten miles in cold weather. My dietary preferences have shifted heavily away from anything with much fat in it (I like ice cream for a few bites, then I have to quit eating it) and in favor of things like, oh, anything carbohydrate, and I’m only picky about keeping to complex carbs because I’m told they’re better for me. I’d be happy to eat a bag of sugar for lunch, to tell you the truth. At around mile eighteen in fact, I’m about ready to pay big money for some more sugar. Lucky for me it’s provided, in the form of Gatorade and Gu, by the club, and by the Marathon as well.

So, sometime post-race I’ll post my results here. I’m actually thinking that I’ll probably come in under five hours (no way I’m going to try running eleven minute miles for that distance – this year, that is) and I don’t expect to feel any worse for wear. The Las Vegas Road Runners has a great program, much like the ones in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, and if you’re in one of those cities and want to run a Marathon, I’d recommend signing up with them. In Vegas it gets you discounts at the shoe store, too, and come to think of it, a discount entry into the race. Plus several running shirts, which is nice. So, until next week, Sunday if I have the chance, later on in the week if I don’t, this is Marathon Man signing off.

Gotta run . . .

Religious Rant

Now that the fundamentalist whackos have been subdued a bit, and you can actually read a bit of news here and there about religious people who, while religiously conservative, are actually generous, socially liberal (that’s not a bad word, honest) and the sort of people you’re happy to be sharing the world with, I think it’s time for an overdue rant about some peoples’ children’s’ religious beliefs.

First here’s a bit of background. When I was a mere lad back in Ohio, we had a big old family bible. It weighed several pounds, and a really great feature was the list of ancestors inside the back cover. They went back quite a way, several hundred years at least. But, when I wasn’t tracing my lineage back to wherever that was, I used to actually read the thing occasionally. That’s where I became the professional heretic that I am, I suppose, because this bible had the words attributed to Jesus of Nazareth printed in red, whereas everyone else, no matter how revered a prophet, had his or her words printed in black ink. Dull old black ink. So, curious child that I was, I decided one day just to read the red ink. From the point of view of some people, that was a bad mistake.

The red words were what Jesus said, or so the Bible tells us. Here are a few quick facts: The number of times Jesus mentions Heaven: 1; the number of times Jesus mentions Hell: 0. Jesus mentioned heaven when talking to a thief on the next cross; he never once mentioned Hell. So, why, I wonder, are some people, who call themselves Christian, so obsessed with Hell? You know, the ones who hate Halloween because it’s pagan, so they put together “Hell Houses” where they show the eternal torment that awaits those not pure of heart and mind. Funny, but Jesus never mentioned such a thing. He did say that you should turn the other cheek, love your enemies, sell your jewelry and give the money to the poor, stuff like that.

You know, the most Christian actions, based on Jesus’ words, that I’ve seen lately in the news was those Amish people forgiving the man who killed several of their children in school. I couldn’t do that, but so far as I can tell they genuinely did. Now that you can find in the red print. Hell, well that’s not in there, yet there are those so obsessed with Hell that apparently they want to go there. Or something, I really don’t know. I don’t want to sell my stuff and be poor either, for the record. I’m poor enough, so far as I can tell.

Now, those people obsessed with Hell have always been around, but somehow they got hold of the Republican Party and twisted it all to, well, Hell. I’m hoping that now the people I think of as the “real” Republicans, who I may disagree with or agree with, but always have been able to respect, will take back the party and chuck those idealist, oddball, Hell-obsessed, and lets face it, two-faced lying so-and-so’s out of the power structure. I’d feel better, and I’ll bet most of you would too.

NEWS?

That’s a question you might find yourself asking fairly often if you watch what some people put out. I’m referring to the fact that Fox News was found to have circulated a memo asking for everyone to be on the lookout for anyone in Iraq, on the Al-Qaeda side that is, who was happy that the Democrats won. Now, no less an authority than Dan Rather, not exactly a darling of Fox news or the Conservative movement in general, speaking to no less a squishy tree hugger than Bill Maher, said that there was nothing illegal or even unethical about that, because that’s the news that they wanted. I mention that to demonstrate that I’m not on a Liberal rant here, I’m on a rant about fair and balanced research.

Maybe it’s because I have a PhD, but when you do any sort of research, it seems wrong to me to come to your conclusion first and then only report on whatever you notice that supports your conclusion. In scientific research that would be highly unethical, and more than one scientist has been disgraced when found to be doing that sort of thing. Still, Fox News isn’t scientific, by any stretch, so what’s the big deal already?

Well, not so much in that one incident itself, I suppose. But it shows an aspect of our news organizations that started way before Fox News was even dreamed up, way before Cable Television even, way before Television even. It is that you sell more papers, or newscast ratings, and your readers or viewers will buy more of your sponsors’ stuff, if you give them the most outrageous and upsetting stories you can possibly dig up. That, in a short phrase, is why you don’t read a lot of good news. Heck, “local third grader makes honor roll: parents paste bumper sticker on car” just doesn’t grab you like “Six Likely Pedophiles Ate at Local Restaurant During July.” This is and has been common in news for a long time, once only in newspapers, but now it has spread to every news outlet we have. Amazingly, television used to be different.

That is because at one time there were rules from the FCC, and stations and networks acted on them, that stated that news was something you owed to your viewers, and the news department was not expected to make money for the station or network. Now of course, news is big, big business, and every damned newscast had better well make money, and as much as possible, or Old Big Hair will be replaced by Ms. White Teeth. Dan Rather admitted to being a part of that problem, as he was instrumental himself in converting CBS news to a profit center. But, if you wonder why you never see anything like Huntley-Brinkley any more, there’s your answer. David and Chet may not have costs NBC any great amounts of cash, but they never made the network a dime, either. GE, the parent of NBC (those notes spell out “G-E-C” in case you didn’t know) is happier I’m sure because they’re maximizing return for their stockholders. Maximizing return for your stockholders is a phrase drilled into MBA candidates from the first day of their first class in MBA school. It’s a pity that nobody drills into them the advantages to the stockholders of a long-term, public-minded outlook on the news. An informed public makes better choices, including choices in news programming, but what the hell, if you can’t turn the maximum profit today, you don’t want to hear about it.

Short of banning anyone with an MBA from having a responsible position in a broadcasting business, I don’t really see any way out of the news mess. Fox will continue to be vacuous; CNBC will make Fox look like Cronkite on a good day; the local news in Los Angeles will continue to be one of the wonders of the world; and nobody will every learn much of anything that’s either true or germane from watching television news.

Too bad, ain’t it?

Yo! Blogger Beta!

Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you! I can’t get Blogger for Word to work any more. I’ve tried uninstalling and reinstalling and pfffffft! Nada. So, what’s up here? I give up a feature just to get the latest interface? I don’t think so. Listen, B.B., hows about you let us all know here just how to get that Blogger for Word thing to work with Blogger Beta, capische?

Love,

Steve

I think it’s fixed. And watch the feeds.

I think I got the issue with the Atom feed fixed. If you had a feed on the old Blogger, you’ll need to re-subscribe. This feed has the advantage of being accurate, which should help anyone interested in keeping up with my writings to do so. To subscribe, just click the Atom link under Subscribe To Posts, down under the links in the left-hand frame.

Thanks a lot,

Steve

Politics or Running? Hmmm . . .

So, whattya want, Running or Politics? Oh, who cares? People run in politics, too, don’t they? Besides, I already said my bit about the recent elections. I hope we don’t end up with single-party rule any time soon. The Gauls Caesar wrote about were right: two factions works better.

That leaves running, I guess. We did thirteen miles today, which as you can imagine was pretty easy. My time is down to 11:39 per mile, about six minutes faster than it was in June. Heck, by next year maybe I’ll be under eleven. That would be nice, but for now it’s nice just to be running well. Today I got to talk with Rod Dixon, a man after whom my favorite line of Running shoes was named. Of course the manufacturer discontinued the line some time ago, but they’re still my favorites. He told me, unsolicited, that my form looked good. That was nice to hear. I’ve been working hard on not having any body parts moving any way but forward, which is why my time is down half a minute in the last month. I may make the big race in under five hours, and wouldn’t that be nice? Especially considering that I have to finish before I can sit down to lunch. Lunch, to me, is an important thing.

On my way to becoming a runner again, I’ve learned a few things. One is that a marathon is a much different animal than a ten kilometer race. Rod Dixon is a champion in both short and long distance races, but he’s almost unique in that regard. Usually you do one or the other. Few do both. When I was in my thirties, the six mile race seemed appropriate. It’s fast, relatively easy, and can be done in under an hour. No human has ever run a marathon in under two hours, to give one quick idea of the differences. It occurs to me now in my aged wisdom that life is a lot more like a marathon than a six mile race. You have to be strong, you have to be flexible, and you have to, one way or another, simply not quit.

Another thing I’ve learned is that you don’t lose weight in endurance training like you do when training for shorter races. However, you do rearrange weight a great deal. For instance, I’m thirteen pounds lighter than I was in June, but yesterday when I bought a new suit, I discovered that I am no longer a 44 long, which I’ve been since I can remember. I’m now a 48 long. There’s something under that jacket, and it ain’t fat, bubba. That may explain why I can toss gravel for two hours and not even breathe heavy. Me strong like bull, and can life a lot, too.

And another thing is that form is important. Left to their own devices, my arms swing across in front of me, and pull my shoulders with them. That pulls my feet with my shoulders and results in me running a crooked track. On the other hand, when I swing my arms straight in front of me, my feet follow, and I go faster with no additional effort. What I’m saying is that doing things right pays off with big dividends in ease of life. Honest.

And, also, the injuries and bruises you get as you go along don’t mean the end of the race. They just mean that you need to rest and heal for a bit. It’s amazing what proper stretching can do to heal, or even prevent, painful injuries. Not a lot of stretching, either, just a few minutes in the morning.

And finally, I’ve learned to use good shoes. Or, more broadly, the right tool for the job. Okay, I knew this one anyway, but it’s been reinforced heavily.

Well okay then. Congress will be reconvening soon. Maybe I’ll be inspired by that. Or maybe not. But I’ll let you know how it goes with the running and writing in any case.

Speaking of which, I passed 20,000 words today. Not bad for a week and a half. The book probably sucks, but at least it’s getting written.

Later, dudes and dudettes . . .