You Can’t Beat A Beet


You Can’t Beat A Beet.

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“Born To Run” or Leave Springsteen In The Car?


Today I would like to address a topic that can be controversial.  Listening to music while running has been a point of contention from the USATF all the way down to your local 5k.  I have heard arguments from both sides and will explain exactly where I fall on the issue.

First a little history. The USATF instituted a policy banning ALL headphones in running events which included everything from the Chicago Marathon down to your small town 5k’s.  After much debate, the increased use of mp3 players and pressure from that segment of the running community, they issued a press release in 2008 stating:

“The following shall be considered assistance and therefore not allowed:

“The visible possession or use by athletes of video, audio, or communications devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices.”

This amendment gave the freedom to race directors to allow these devices at their own discretion.  Let’s examine the first line of the amendment and we will understand just how the USATF looks at such devices.  Assistance?  Is it really?  No matter what side of the debate you take you must acknowledge that this is a weak and hypocritical argument.  I will agree that a runner can get through a long run easier with a distraction or adrenaline kick that music may provide but if that is the case, the USATF better be prepared to drug test every member of every small town race to make sure that a runner doesn’t get “assistance” from some supplement.

Safety is a concern that many runners express when discussing the issue and I have to admit that it does have it’s merit, to a point.  If you get lost inside your head while doing speedwork to Metallica played so loud your eyes bleed, I agree it will be much easier to step out in front of a passing bus.  On the other hand, where does personal responsibility come into play?  Should we all not use a little common sense while performing any task throughout the day?  If you feel you can’t run safely and listen to music, then just put on a single earphone or turn the music down.  I’m sorry but the “safety police” can not and should not be there at every decision we have to make.  It is not anyone’s business if I want to do something deemed reckless by some, unless that “something” infringes upon your rights.  For all you Darwinist out there, remember the law of natural selection.  Let me be clear, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but you have to ask “where does it all end?”  Should I be banned from listening to my mp3 player when walking down busy streets?  That could be construed as a personal safety issue as well.  If that’s the case, we shouldn’t allow people to have a radio in their car.

While the ban on certain devices may have been put into place with good intentions you still have unintended consequences.  When asked, many newbie runners say they would race less if prohibited from listening to music.  And let’s not forget that most races are to raise money for a specific charity.  It’s simple math, less runners = less money for that cause.  This is something none of us want to see.

If I haven’t given it away already, I feel that people should have the right to choose their own destiny.  I run with music most of the time and have to cross busy streets while doing so.  There are times it can seem like a real life game of Frogger.  But I turn down my music, look both ways numerous times and proceed when it is safe.  This argument that you can’t hear traffic doesn’t seem to be a realistic one.   At the speeds vehicles travel, that split second sound of a car engine is not going to help me unless I consider seeing my impending doom racing toward me at 55 miles per hour a benefit.

Everyone should be free to run the way they choose so long as it doesn’t cause a safety issue for someone else.  I want everyone to run fast and safe but if I can’t jam to “Born To Run” while racing then “The Boss” and I will take our money elsewhere.

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A Few Thoughts On Running From Dr. Seuss


In my next post I will be tackling some other issues.  In the meantime, this is just a poem that I enjoy and helps me when I am feeling down about running.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

by

Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!


Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!


Now that the introductions are over let’s talk about getting through the winter.  So far most of us have enjoyed unseasonably high temperatures until now.  It is time to toughen up and continue to run outside.  Even if you use a treadmill during the really cold days, try to make it a point to get outside for at least three miles, twice a week. I made the mistake of getting on a treadmill all winter in the beginning of my running life and when spring finally came I could not figure out why the street stopped moving on it’s own under my feet.  Let’s face it, the treadmill is like methadone for running addicts.  It might get us through but ultimately we want and need our running fix outside.

If you’re anything like me you tend to backslide during the holidays.  Yep, I put on 12 pounds as I do every year and now it’s time to lose it or face being the proverbial toilet paper of the racing community, “bringing up the rear”.   So far I have taken six of them off but the other six seem to have set up shop around my waist and love show themselves off when my sweat soaked shirt is clinging to my midsection. Time for me and all of you out there to get a better grip on our diet.  My best weight loss comes from eating a raw vegetable diet, plenty of fruit and cutting out as much fat and carbs as possible.  By the end of February I should be the sleek, speedy Adonis that I was in August.  This is possible for ALL of us with some discipline.  When I see sweets, I see poison for runners.  When I see breads, I picture my race times looking more like someone’s  zipcode than a finishing time.   After a while unhealthy food is something you don’t even want anymore.

Lastly I want to address one thing that bugs me all year but even more often in the winter.  When I am running on a sidewalk or on a trail I inevitably come across people who are all bundled up and out for a walk.  Sometimes with a dog and sometimes with a spouse.  Let me be clear, I am an overly friendly runner and will give the casual wave to someone I am passing.  So I ask myself how do these people seem to find a way to take up the entire trail and look at you with the blankest of stares as if they can’t figure out why someone would want to run without being chased by someone or something.  It can be the oldest, skinniest of grandmothers out there and somehow she will suddenly expand to block my path in an instant and then look at me with a hollow look the likes of which I have not seen anywhere but a zombie movie.  Really, there is something wrong with these people that don’t run.

The Beginning


Since this is my first post, let me give you a brief history about myself.  I am 43 years old and a carpenter/woodworker.  About 25 years ago I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a cigarette.  NOT a good idea! For the next 20 years I smoked nearly two packs of Camel Lights a day.  At 38 years old it was time to quit or get used to the idea of dragging an oxygen tank behind me in the future and dying a very miserable death quite prematurely.  Success!  No more smoking but unfortunately 30 pounds seemed to materialize out of nowhere.  The only way I knew to lose the weight was diet and exercise.

In high school I was on the track team, mostly just to hang out with my friends.  To say that the team did not benefit from my membership would be an understatement.  Since this is the only sport that ever led to any serious weight loss in the past, why not try it again?  After the first “run” of half a mile, I started thinking that this was going to be impossible.  It never seemed this difficult in my memories of high school track.  Walking the rest of the way back home I decided to give it another shot in a couple days.  At least this time that horrible feeling of exhaustion and loss of breath would not take me by surprise.  Week after week went by and I worked my way up to a few miles very slowly.  The weight was starting to disappear and this gave me even more incentive to run longer and faster.  One day my father approached me and said that I should enter one of those local 5k races.  This is something that never crossed my mind before and something I was completely against?  Go to a race with a bunch of runners and look like a fool?  No way!  After my dad’s incessant attempts to get me to sign up,  I finally gave in.  The first race was “The 5k Mayor’s Run Against Breast Cancer” and I was scared to death. Eventually I accepted the fact that last place isn’t so bad as long as I finished.  The gun went off and I started running.  It didn’t turn out as bad as I thought.  Finishing about mid pack of 150ish wasn’t bad with a time of around 30 minutes and 30 some seconds.  What a rush!  I was hooked.

Fast forward to 2011.  Last year I raced 53 races which included 10 half marathons, a full marathon and a 50k which netted me 35 awards.  I even came in first overall in one of the shorter races.  Now I run 5k’s in just under 21 minutes, half marathons in 1:38 and still have plenty of work to do.  I have to say that running has not only made me healthier and happier but I have found a large group of friends within the running community that are very supportive of each other.  I think that may be the greatest award I have received.

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