mr. pants’ guide to 5k course design

Don’t think to yourself: “What would Family Circus’ Billy do?”

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beat me till I’m black and blue
And I’m very nearly dead
And I’ll get back up
And we’ll do it all over again
— the prophet roger clyne

You go to the race. Small, no frills, maybe a hundred people.

Some ASU students says 3-2-1 start, so you do. You run through a maze of sidewalks and chalk arrows and well-meaning pylons. You play leapfrog with a woman also doing the run-walk mambo. You suffer in slow motion.

And then, you finish.

Your first sub-40 in the YoF is cause for bittersweet celebration, and a solid last place.

You wonder all the way home. Why?

Why do you get up before dawn to pay 30 bucks to get humiliated? Why are you still trying? Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? Wait. That could be a Carpenters song.

You don’t answer. You don’t want to think about it anymore. But the shoes know why. It’s all you’ve known for 40 years. If you didn’t do this, what would you do instead?

You throw the stupid medal in the stupid pile, unpin the stupid bib from your stupid shorts, try to erase the stupid memory.

They you call up the schedule and look for the next stupid race.

You’ll get back up and we can do it all over again …

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the meaning of life

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”

–Mr. Stephen Hawking

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the truth

Mo was pondering the differences between christianity and buddhism today and how one finds the right path.

The correct answer, of course, is the daily run. A chance to sort out the day’s thoughts, flush out the toxins, suffer, revitalize and celebrate the day.

At its core, I think religion is a way to find peace with one’s self. And what better way than the daily run?

Dr. Sheehan said it best:

“The runner need not break four minutes in the mile or four hours in the marathon. It is only necessary that he runs and runs and sometimes suffers. Then one day he will wake up and discover that somewhere along the way he has begun to see order and law and love and Truth that makes men free.”


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Tehachapi to Tonapah

if you give me weed, whites, and wine
Then you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’ to be movin’
— the prophet lowell george

Sometimes maybe it’s best not to know.

Now that the 100 meter guy and I were on a chatty basis, it was driving me nuts. What’s his story? After a little sleuthing, I found out.

He’s 26. Serious sprinter. Fast. And barred by the U.S. doping agency from competition until 2020.

He accepted a four-year sanction in 2016 for his prolonged use of prohibited substances in he form of “growth hormone releasing factors” beginning in 2013. All his times from 2013 on were wiped out. He would be what I have always lovingly referred to as a “drug cheat.”

I’ve read about drug cheats forever, but this is the first time I’ve sat on the bench next to one. I’m not even sure what to think. You’re in a sport where one second is the difference between a world record and a ho-hum run. You suspect everyone else is bending the rules.  It must be so tempting to look for an edge wherever you can find it, whether a spring-loaded Nike marathon shoe or a sprinter’s syringe.

He’s offering a coaching service now, which is why he’s constantly filming. If I were a promising sprinter, I think I’d worry about guilt by association. I try to think of him as John Candy in “Cool Runnings,” the guy who learned from his lesson. And in all fairness, I don’t know his side of the story. This is just a USADA report. Maybe he didn’t know what he was taking was illegal. Maybe he couldn’t afford to mount a defense and gave up. The rules can be tricky, especially for someone without a team of doctors and scientists. I guess I’ve just grown  jaded after a decade of athlete denials.

He showed up at the track today the same time as me. I said hey and then took off in the other direction. I just wasn’t up to seeing him every 400 meters today. I went out on the dirt road instead. No chatting, no cheating, no emotional turmoil, no internal debate. Just a long stretch of nothing. Which coincidentally is what his running career turned into.

He seems like a nice guy. So did Lance. So did all the others. Sometimes I hate sports.

Sometimes maybe it’s best not to know.

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things i wish i had said, part 75

“All you really need in life is an old D-35 and some trusty Piranhas.”

— the prophet Lao Tzu

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sweet emotion

Walk this way, walk this way
Walk this way, walk this way
Ah, just give me a kiss
— the prophet tyler

I realized today i have NEVER listened to Aerosmith’s first album. I have no idea how this happened. I graduated high school with “Get Your Wings.”  “Toys in the Attic” was the soundtrack for my freshman year in college. “Rocks” blaring at Combest’s apartment when I executed a perfect drunken tackle on Weber as he naively walked through the front door. But somehow I never heard the first album. Spotify wasn’t that popular back then.

For the record (see what I did there?), it’s pretty good. I probably wasn’t ready for it in 1973 anyhow. 45 years later, I discover it’s never too late to blow out the tattered remains of your hearing.

This came about because I was at the track today strolling. The legs decided today was a day off. So I was walking. This way. Which led me, of course, to Aerosmith and the song that led me on the quest to survive Introduction to Accounting. Sadly, I’m shy, so the introduction didn’t go well.

When one’s legs are pooped, is it better to stroll or take the day off and hope for a strong day to follow? Does sidling set me back or just stretch the legs? I’m not experienced enough in Gary 2.0 to know the answer to this. But it was such a nice day again that I hung out for a while in lane 9 just in case. One field goal kicker, couple football players, a mortal in lane 1. Kinda dull.

Am I better off walking a bunch of 15-minute miles or running as hard as I can for 3? That one still bugs me. I’m not sure what’s the best ending for the Third Act. Which do I enjoy more? I have found that 5Ks are not as much fun as I remember. The quaint little community runs of the past have been replaced with FundRaiser Events For a Good Cause. Medals? That’s so embarrassing. And the $35 entry fee works about to 18 dollars per kilometer. Did I mention I flunked out of accounting.

A hard 5K or a 12-hour stroll? So different, and yet the same. It looks like I’ll have a day off each week when Mo’s working, so I could do big miles once a week. I doubt The Prophet Fleshman would mind. I don’t know. “It’s only time,” the prophet Clark said, “and only time will tell.”

Either way, the daily outing is what I live for. I finish, prop up my feet and wait for the next day like a kid on Christmas eve.

“The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours …but it is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day,” Thoreau said. I know what he means. It’s not what I do. It’s who I am, for better or worse, till death do us part.

“I started running ultras to become a better person,” the prophet Shelton once said. “I thought if you could run 100 miles you’d be in this Zen state. You’d be the Buddha, bringing peace and a smile to the world. It didn’t work in my case. I’m the same old punk-ass as before, but there’s always hope.”

I have no idea what I’m doing these days. All I know is that it IS the enterprise and adventure of the day. It’s what I do. Everything else is just stuff.

A lousy day, a time to contemplate, a chance to dream. I don’t know what’s down the road. One way to find out. Fire up “Toys in the Attic,” head out for another one tomorrow.

I’m the same old punk-ass as before. But there’s always hope. Never too late to blow out those tattered remains …

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