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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Runs with earbuds

That would be my Native American name if I weren't a lilly white Englander.

I used to poo poo listening to music when I ran (My friend Paul Stein, on the other hand, is a known and wanted earbud wearer and flouter of rules that would ban their use during a marathon) - except in the latter stages of a marathon, when, as usual, things wouldn't be going well.  In those instances, listening to music would take my mind off of my ineptitude and lack of proper training.

Back when I used to have running partners, I didn't listen to music - I would talk with them, Jerry and Steve in the AM, and Kevin when I would run in Chattanooga. When Lisa and I bike, we chat while riding, and obviously, I wouldn't listen to music then (although I neeeeed a Go-Pro camera.  I neeeeed one). Someone buy me one of these, please

A couple of years ago, I completely fell out of love with running, and now that I've rediscovered what I like about it, I've begun running again, but by myself. One of the things I've noticed is that I'm hopeless when trying to maintain a pace.  I've got no idea how fast I'm running (hint: not very) without a GPS - see below.

Now, I loooove gadgets.  If you know me, you know this to be true.

All of the above was to tell you about last nights "run".  I've got a new Garmin Forerunner (the 220, and I like it.  I even wear it as my daily watch {geek} ), so I had it set.  I also set the "MapMyRun" app on my Galaxy III to record and stream my route.

The final piece to all of this was the Google Play app on my phone, which enabled me to listen to a cheesy 70's playlist.  Here it is, by the way: Ian's Cheesy Playlist   (if you have Spotify, you can listen to it. If you want, you can follow me on Spotify and listen to all the same crap I listen to!!!)  Please understand that I didn't pick this playlist, so I'm not responsible for it. It's Googles fault.

Last night was a good "run".  (I'll remove the quotation marks when I feel like one of my runs can stand on its own.) I think it had to do with Lisa's vegetable soup.  I think it powered me. It was about 5 miles.  I'm starting to feel more comfortable running again, but I'm not there yet. The music helps. So does my Garmin. So does my smart phone. So does Google Play. Pity about the whole ability thing.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A healthcare thought

Here is the premise of the Affordable Care Act from my perspective: if all Americans have, and pay premiums to a health insurance plan (private companies, not socialized insurance, oh ye who have no idea what you are talking about), then premiums will drop. See if this math makes sense to you - the risk pool of a 4 person group (mine) is smaller than one that includes 300 million people.  When the risk is spread across that many people, many of whom are healthy and will not tax the system until later in their lives, then premiums will drop.

There are other facets:  Kids able to stay on their parents policies longer, people not being denied coverage because of preexisting conditions, and others.  I admit, the potential for affordable healthcare premiums is what attracts me.

It is a fact though, that young, healthy people are going to have to participate - in my opinion, the penalties for not participating, both on an individual level and on a corporate level are not nearly high enough.  Too many young people are not signing up because they don't need it right now - but they'll surely want coverage later on in life, when they inevitably start having medical problems.

Currently, in my small group, if I fart incorrectly my premiums skyrocket, because the risk is spread across such a small group of people.

Think of it as purchasing power.  Try to stop thinking of it as a plot by that evil Kenyan, Muslim, Socialist, Communist.  Stop letting people scare you.  Start voting for your self interest rather than against your self interest.

Please stop using the poor web design as yet another reason that Obamacare is bad. The website roll-out sucked.  That's a given.  That does not make the premise of affordable healthcare incorrect.


Oh, let me tell you a story about a national health program:  When I was 9, I was bedridden for a portion of every month - I had kidney problems that wound up necessitating the removal of my right kidney.  The doctors took me into Addenbrooke's Childrens Hospital in Cambridge, England (where I lived at the time) They removed my kidney, I stayed in the hospital for something like 10 days total.

Most importantly: I've been healthy for the last 45 years.

Second most importantly:  My parents didn't wind up with a bill of several hundred thousand dollars.

That was only one anecdote, but a real one nonetheless. Not some widely spread, vague scare headline. Instead, a real example of how national healthcare saved my life, and saved my parents financial health.

Monday, February 3, 2014

That one time I felt like a runner: "Looking good #1501"

In March of 2006, I ran the Knoxville half marathon ( I was in pretty good shape (for me), as I was coming off of the New York Marathon the previous November, and had continued running after.

It's important to know that I'm too slow to run 5k's and 10k's effectively, and I don't have enough endurance to run marathons effectively (I always run out of gas at about the 20 mile mark). The half marathon is my best distance. I think it is the most fun distance.

Good sprinters have a lot of fast twitch muscles; Good distance runners have a lot of slow twitch muscles. My nickname on a running website is "No Twitch Muscles". I think that appropriately paints the picture of my abilities.

So, the Knoxville half starts downtown, winds its way through the University of Tennessee campus, then later enters a fairly hilly neighborhood (Sequoyah Hills), before crossing a major street (Kingston Pike), and coming back to downtown via a rolling greenway.

I've always loved this half. It is my favorite of any half marathon I've ever done. Lots of sights to see, a beautiful neighborhood to run through, dogwoods in bloom, good crowd support.

Anyhow, I navigated the first 8 or so pretty hilly miles in good fashion, crossed Kingston Pike, and started back to downtown via the greenway.  And then?  A funny thing happened.  I started passing people.  Up and down the tiny rolling hills. I felt good, and I could feel myself getting stronger - this never happens!  I usually start to fade at about the 10 mile mark, 'cause, you know, I suck.  But not on this day.  It's no exaggeration to say that I passed about 75 people during a 4 mile stretch on the greenway.

The last 2 miles or so run through the Fort Sanders neighborhood, I usually just gut those out (they are sadistically hilly), and watch as people pass me by.  But not that Sunday.  That Sunday, I not only held my own, I continued to pass people.

About a half a mile from the finish (which, by the way happens on the 50 yard line of Neyland Stadium - granted, that was more impressive before Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley came to town), I thundered (in my mind) around a curve, and a volunteer said:

                                                 "Looking good #1501"

This is the first time that a volunteer has ever said that to me without the accompanying look of pity, driving home the absolute lie just spoken.  THIS GUY MEANT IT!

I rounded that curve, down a hill, then triumphantly entered the stadium - passing one more person as I entered.

                                                         Didn't I look good?

A big selling point of this race is that not only do you finish on the 50 yard line, but your finish is on the Jumbotron and your name is announced for all of your throngs of admirers to hear.

I finished in 2:05:xx, my best time ever - so far  (I realize that is not an impressive time - the world record is an astounding 58:23!!!, but for me?  Pretty damned good.)

On that day, I ran the best race I could, I ran a negative split (!), and I felt that rare euphoria that a runner feels when it is his or her day. Doesn't happen often, but runners reading this know exactly the feeling I'm trying to describe.

So, on that day, walking out of the stadium with my medal around my neck, watching other runners coming down the final hill into the stadium, I felt like a runner.