Gabriel Sherman: What’s your problem?

Check out this elitist view of “amateurs” who have ruined the marathon in this screed against slow runners from Gabriel Sherman in Slate magazine.

Apparently, if you’re not able to run a sub 3:00 marathon like the author is, you’re not worthy of running a marathon at all and you’re ruining it for the “real” runners. So, who died and made this guy the judge of who’s worthy to run in a marathon? Besides, since he’s at the front of the pack, what does he care who’s behind him?

Anyone who runs a marathon is worthy of admiration, in my mind. Someone who commits to running 26.2 miles has already shown more fortitude and self-discipline than 99.9% of our lethargic population. Would Mr. Sherman prefer all of us back of the pack and midpack runners sit on our couches instead of joining him on the road? I guess so.

Part of what I love about non-professional road racing is that it’s unlike any other sport. Unlike most sports, most of the people are not trying to “win”. And it’s the only sport I can think of where you get a mix of genders and age groups all competing against each other, all on equal terms.

Besides, Mr. Sherman is wrong. Those of us who really care about the sport know who Deena Kastor is. We’re just happy to be able to run in the same race with her, even if she’s miles ahead of us. She was miles of ahead of Sherman too, but he seems to have forgotten that.

Fun! Excitement! Adventcha!

Journalist and endurance athlete Martin Dugard has an interesting blog: The Paper Kenyan. (I have no idea why it’s called the Paper Kenyan, but I’m sure I’ll find out eventually). It’s been around since July 2005. I just added it to my list of blogs.

HIs focus is endurance sports, travel and adventure. His posts are often quite long (hey, he’s a writer), but very well written (hey, he’s a writer) and interesting. And he’s committed to posting every weekday, which is more than I can say for most bloggers, myself included.

As the kids like to say, “Check it out.”

Ice Ice Baby

Two posts in one week! You know what that means — I just hit a big freelance deadline yesterday and I actually have some free time this morning. (And this is how I spend it. How very sad.) I’m going out to have some Thai food this evening to celebrate. Then I’m taking a couple of weeks off…so no crazy deadlines again until early October. Hoozah!

But back to the subject of this post: I read yet another article on the value of ice baths for recovery recently. This one was in the September issue of Running Times.

Since I was using myself as a guinea pig for Clif Shot on my Sunday long run, and I obviously enjoy suffering and discomfort, I decided to go whole hog and try the ice bath too. I wouldn’t call what I did an “ice” bath — there was no ice (gotta save that for the martinis). But I did soak my lower half in the coldest water I could run in the bath for a good 10 minutes. And, wouldn’t you know it, I was not as stiff as I usually am. After a long run, the pain tends to peak about 36 hours later (4AM if I’m lucky). This time around, no 4AM wakeup call. I also didn’t look like a robot going down stairs, which is always a plus.

I’m a convert. I’ll do the cold soak after hard workouts and races. Followed by a warm bath…ahhh….

Road Tested: Clif Shot Bloks

Sunday was my last long run before the Westchester Half Marathon in early October. In my last race, I carried a few Starburst Chews for sustenance and, quite honestly, they made me feel ill. So I’ve sworn off grocery store candy for running sustenance.

For some reason, I can’t stomach the idea of eating GU (or any of the products like it), and the availability of Gatorade at water tables is unreliable. So, I picked up a few packs of Clif Shot Bloks last week to try those out. On Sunday I tried the Orange flavor (with caffeine).

While I wouldn’t call them tasty, they are not offensive. And, unlike gummy bears, they’re easy to chew. Plus they don’t stick to your teeth like Starburst Chews do. A package contains two servings (100 cals each). They are quite large (about .75 inch square), and the package is hard to open. I ended up hiding the pack with my water and sticking 2 or 3 in my key pocket, then “refilling” when I finished a loop. If you don’t have ample pockets, you’d probably need some sort of fuel belt to carry enough for a longer event.

So, what’s the verdict? Well, I ate one about every 15 or so minutes once I hit the 1:30 mark. I do think they helped. I tend to feel very drained around mile 12 of a run. I started taking the Bloks around mile 9 and didn’t feel as bad when I hit 12 miles and felt quite refreshed at the end of the run (16 miles). Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but I’ll probably carry these for the half.

Nice pants

Another shopping entry. Non-shopping runners, skip this.

Oh, my god. I’ve found the perfect casual pants. They’re sold by Title 9 Sports and they are called the Jane Bond Pants.

First of all, they fit perfectly. The waist sits right at my bellybutton (I’m very low waisted, so finding pants that don’t make me look like an 80-year-man in Sans-a-Belts is a challenge), and the pants have a side zip. The fit is very slimming and flattering.

Plus they have cool zipper pockets in neat places: Two in front at the hip, one near the left knee and one near the right ankle. The two weird pockets are about big enough to hold some credit cards. The pants are cut fairly wide (straightleg), but you can narrow them at the ankle thanks to a button. And they’re made of nylon, so I’m hoping they’re water resistant.

I hate shilling for retailers, but I know how hard it is to find a great pair of pants. I just wish they cost ten bucks rather than seventy.

Let the river run

Today I ran in the South Nyack 10 Mile Race in Rockland County, New York. It was an interesting race, but a tough one.

My goal had been 1:25:00, but I came in at 1:27:05, and felt like horking afterwards, which I usually don’t. That may have been due to racing against some other woman for the last quarter mile. I couldn’t hold her pace (7:15), so she beat me. Oh, well. I came in #177 out of 450-odd people (no results online yet), so I’m still pleased.

It was cool enough (in the mid-60s), and I should have been able to make 1:25, but I have a feeling some environmental aspects of the race conspired against me. I say this because everyone around me seemed to get fatigued between mile 6 and 7. The race started in South Nyack in a local park, ran under the NY Thruway/entrance to Tappan Zee, and south along the Hudson river — and back. Mile 4-6 was a run out along a mile-long pier jutting into the river, which was very scenic (and very windy).

I was flying during the first half, and then the second half was a chore. My pace was 45 seconds slower. I have a feeling there was a very slight incline, which is tough to deal with over several miles. Also a brisk headwind in some spots. And the end of the race featured a little steep hill (200 yards?) followed by a very long steep hill. I could hear other runners groan when it came into view. But I used my trick of breaking it up into little goals (“My next goal is that blue mailbox…”), which helps me deal with it mentally.

So, I blew my goal time, but I’ve got a boatload of excuses. 🙂

But I got some free ice cream, half a banana and a whole bunch of water. And we picked up our racing numbers yesterday at a ravioli shop, race sponsor Gracie’s Ravioli, where we bought some homemade meat and cheese ravioli. That made an excellent carbo-loaded pre-race meal last night.

And I had a bonus celebrity sighting at the post-run awards ceremony and raffle — Rosie O’Donnell, South Nyack resident, with her gaggle of kids. She didn’t run the race, but she was taking lots of pictures.

Even though it’s still summer, I’m marking this race as the start of fall racing season. Yay!

Screw you!

Winter’s just around the corner, and frugal runners everywhere are looking for strategies to avoid slipping on our butts when the snow and ice arrives.

Cheap runners in icy areas, your prayers have been answered. An enterprising peer has devised a way to create your own foul weather running shoes. And all it takes is a trip to Home Depot, an electrical outlet, and a complete rejection of the Running Gear Industrial Marketing Complex.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you…the Screw Shoe.

Yet another reason not to live in Florida

Note to self: Don’t go running in a Florida swamp.