Saturday, August 9, 2008

Summer musings

The summer is not my favorite time to run. As a big guy, the heat hammers me. A run that is a pleasure in the winter can be a struggle in the summer. But, I'm getting my mileage back up, little by little with longer weekend runs, and keeping up some quality speed and tempo work during the week (of course, with my slug-like pace, "speed" is a very relative term).

Of course, it's all still fun if you run with the right people.

Topic A. Detestable summer music.

In an email about car arrangements to a run this weekend, Greg asks: "But here's a great question: Would you rather walk to Avondale or ride and be forced to listen to "I will possess your heart" over and over on "11" ?????? And what hurts more, that song or finishing Umstead?"

This was very easy to answer:
1. Walk to Avondale.
2. The song hurts much more -- running 100 miles is physical pain. Death Cab for Cutie music is existential pain.

Of course, though I find DCFC's music highly detestable, my kids find (almost) all of my music impossible to take. Don't ask to borrow my MP3 player. You may be sorry.

Topic B. Why do we run so much?

I saw this blog posting distributed on the Ultralist and it just cracked me up:

“To be completely honest, I despise running, HATE IT! Competing in these insane 100-mile running races all weekend long and all the training that goes with it is utter torture,” said ultra-marathoner Marc Skednick of Philadelphia as he applied super glue to a heel blister the size of a plum. “That said, I continue to do it because I hate spending time with my family a thousand times more than competing in this ridiculous sport.”

The rest is on (Ummm, to my wife and kids... ummmm, really, this is just something I find funny, not how I feel! Really! I'm serious!)

C. Team work and JFK preps.

Thank goodness for the kindness of fellow runners. Or, at least those I have been lucky enough to make friends with. You see, I got onto a team for JFK, the John F. Kennedy 50 mile race held annually in November in western Maryland. The Leashless Beasts. I am running on the same team with fast guys. Really fast. Several will finish this race hours (like, 1 or 3 or maybe 4 hours) ahead of me. What in the H-E-doublehockeysticks are these guys doing running with somone as slow as me on their team? I dunno. Other than the fact they are pretty cool guys.

Actually, though, besides the cameraderie and "hijinx," this team thing does me a world of good. We are doing some long weekend "training runs" together -- except for Mike, the guy in Atlanta -- little too far of a commute. This forces me to run long (which I might do anyway) but also to try to run at least some of it fast (so I can at least stay in the conversation for part of the run). And this might turn out to be a major help to me in training enough to break 10 hours, this year's goal.

I am looking forward to JFK. I really love the race. Some hate the tow path. I enjoy it. there has been a lot of grousing about the price this year. But, what the hell. It's JFK. The one and only. It's not really that expensive, in the big scheme of what I spend on running. I ain't whining. As I noted to some of my fellow TrailDawgs, I think of it this way...

New album for JFK loaded on my (clandestine) IPod: $9.99.

Dinner at Al Pomodoro in Hagerstown the night before with my wife: $75, wine included.

Hotel in Hagerstown: $100

Race registration fee: $130.

Local residents stand on the roadside, with their kids, holding charming, hand-lettered misspelled signs saying things like "Runers goe home" (with a backward N): Priceless.

D. The Paradox of DK.

How can something be both spine-tinglingly inspirational and stomach-turningly repulsive at the same time? Death Cab for Cutie cannot manage it -- they are only stomach turning. Some of the Olympians on TV this week -- now, there are some inspiring stories among them.

And then, there is DK. Dean Karnazes. Or, at least the (fictionalized?) public face of the man. Maybe it's just an image? Maybe it's really him? People say he is nice. He does lots of charity work. He would crush me in any run at any distance (it wouldn't even be a race). But some of the stuff that comes from the "Dean Machine" has the stench of a pile of bovine waste.

It started for me with his book "Ultramarathon Man." My running buddy Greg gave it to me. I owe him -- something (thanks? revenge?). It, in many places, reads like from-the-heart inspiration. This makes the book a real page turner. Enjoyable. I recommend it. Seriously. And then, there is the naustingly self-congratulatory stuff and exaggerations. Ick! Barf! Many have ranted extensive about it elsewhere online, so I won't say much more. But, it's like a car wreck on the side of the road. I want to look away, but can't.

Oh, nevermind, I am going to say more... If you have the courage, check out his 60 minutes interviews with Leslie Stahl at The King of Pain. Amazing career highlights like... Dean is in such a hurry he always pees while he runs! (how about the other number?) The "I had a pizza delivered while I ran" legend, recounted on live TV! These were so over-the-top, I did look away -- I could not watch the entire show. And, now there is "Dean -- The Movie!" (I'd like to see Sam Thompson -- The Movie! 51 marathons, 50 states, 50 days for Katrina victims, before Dean)

So, I am inspired to collect and cite great quotations, chapter and verse, from "The Book of Dean." Thoughts to laugh at and/or be inspired by, maybe both at the same time. So I close this blog with one of the many gems:

"I run because I'm not much of a car guy."
The Book of Dean, Chapter 18, Page 277, Verse 2.


Bill said...

Hi Pete,

I appreciate your blog on ultrarunning. I live in Southeastern PA, west of Quakertown and am interested in an ultra maybe next year. What would be an easy (if there is such a one) 50 mile for a first-timer?

Pete McLaughlin said...

Hi Bill, thanks for visiting the blog. For a first-time 50 miler, I like the JFK in November. It has variety -- big hills on a trail, then dead flat gravel path, then roads with small hills. And, its size (1000 runners) makes it a big event that feels almost like a festival.