Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's your Choice

When: Saturday, October 02, 2010 5:45 AM-8:45 AM. Central Standard Time
Where: Veteran's Park (21st & Boulder)

It’s Your Choice

Fall is in the air, which means it’s Race Season. But it can be a nasty affair, what with the trash talking, oneups-man/manetteship, a general overstatement of one’s own fitness for service and PR worthiness, and all at the sake of bettering thyself at the detriment of others. But this combativeness is rarely limited to one party or the other, as once it starts it almost guarantees similar responses and behaviors from the others. Season after season has deeply instilled the belief that the mental games waged between Race competitors can be more hurtful than the physical skills associated with physically outpacing all challengers. If you are successful in getting the others to flinch, especially when captured for You Tube expose’, then victory is nearly a formality for the numbers to bear out – that is, unless you flinch back or lose your pace or sense of direction.

Yesems, the positioning for the heralded positions of Fall/Winter Run Leaders is already shaping up, and the ugliness has already started. It seems to start a little earlier each year, such that by the time that the actual selection occur, nobody seems to care anymore other than to wish it was over already. I mean seriously, whether one initiates their stride from the left or the right position really won’t leave a lasting impression on the world. One’s position regarding the tolerance for those who share the trails from the position of the seated, AKA “bikers”, is hardly the dividing issue that it is made to be. Why can’t we all just agree that the wheel brigades are simply annoying and leave it at that, as opposed to frenzying up the foot soldiers nearly to the point of regrettable and irreversible actions? So, as a voice of experience imagined, be especially cautious over the next few weeks of solicitous offers of gu sharing, bottle buddies, tune trading, and pace making that are not so clever disguises of vying for run and runnerette allegiances. And remember, once the results are in, we are quickly cast aside as last year’s 500 mile snarly sneaks – having done their time and advanced the leaders to their new justification for self-worshipping "blogs" (i.e., weekly run invitations).

But the Domi-Noes and Domi-Nettes remain undeterred, as we have a more relevant goal within our sights. We Race for Marathons, the good kind, the ones that leave you gasping and in all sorts of pains in places that you never knew existed. (OK, that really doesn’t sound different than the political race outcomes.) This week’s rendition finds us in quest of a 13-mile training run, on a path that incorporates the middle chunk of the Route 66 Marathon Course – something to teethe on before the November Race.

We will once again observe our version of Runners World daylight slaying time by starting at 5:45 AM’ish at Veteran’s Park, thereby saving the precious daylight hours for napping, goofing off, and generally justifying the postponement of any undesirable chores ‘cause we have to “recover” by cheering for our favorite teams in our snorefested stupor.
Just to be clear, and to ensure that there are no unfair advantages, each of us is free to make our own biased decision on whether it would be better to be “governed” to “Fall In” or to “Ask In”. Either way, we have to get in, buy in, and be in to have our soles counted. (NOTE: This unpaid and understandably unsponsored announcement has been brought to you by the Heeled Union of Run Leaders in Training “HURL-IT”.)
At the end of the run, remember that It’s Your Choice.


Monday, September 20, 2010

When: Saturday, September 25, 2010 5:45 AM-9:45 AM. Central Standard Time
Where: Veteran's Park (21st & Boulder)

Don’t Over Think It

Firstester, we start this week with an unsolicited call out to the most awesome-est-er Head Coach/Sponsor/Baby Sitter/Treat Meister/Sad Tales Listener/Key Holder/Route Approver/Injury Counselor/”PB” Brian Put’r Up With Him/Shoe advisor/ and General Cheer Leader Runners World Owner Miss Kathy H. Did I say “Awwwwesome!”? If so, then not loud enough. Just one little example of her most awesomeness occurred throughout last Saturday’s training run, where although void of any supplemental help (psst – Brian, are you still out there somewhere? Remember us?), and while held together with strips of fluorescent tape to keep bones from poking through, it was Miss Kathy who kept magically appearing throughout the training run with her refreshing and life-saving fluid replacement elixirs. She single-handedly provided physical and mental encouragement, was among the first to arrive and the last to leave. We RW cads and cadettes know this is SOP for Coach K (and reluctantly true for PB Brian, even though it pains me to say so), and it is all too easy to take for granted all that RW does for us. So, in an all too brief moment of absolute sincerity: Thank You! From all of us - You Rock!

Returning to un-normalcy, we had a few first timers turn 18 – miles that is - last Saturday. Newbies are nearly all growed up, and it happened so fast. With 18 come both privileges and responsibilities. Privileges include the right to vote on important issues such as paper or plastic cups, Gatorade in the left or right jug, decision on whether to park tail in or tail out, and in now being enabled to speak with run leaders without uttering the previously required “Excuse me for interrupting your important thoughts, our most revered and esteemed Run Leader” prior to each ill timed interruption of “Are we there yet?”. Note and reminder to all: Hitting and verbal abuse of Run Leaders/Leaderettes are still forbidden.

As for responsibilities, turning 18 means that you are now expected to actually show up each Saturday morning for our training runs. No more piddly excuses such as my kids this, my spouse that, that funeral or wedding thingy, my job is at risk, got that soccer deal, it’s so early and still too hot, I might need to oversleep, the dog ate my runnin’ sox. After all, we can generally have more offspring and they often won’t remember the specifics of why you didn’t show up at that “once in a lifetime” event, but we all know that you can never, but never again, run a 20 mile training run with near strangers on September 25th, 2010. A specially crafted route of 7 miles, followed by, oh … where did I put that … oh yeah, 13 more miles lay in waiting for our feet to abuse. Remember, no excuses – we’ve come too far and our marathon goals are creeping up all too quickly.

So, I will need to bug out for this week’s run – got that Race 4 the Cure thing going on. It’s a 5K Race, which is kind of like a 20 mile training run since it has all the associated pressure of huge crowds, elbow avoidance, and fighting for half filled cups of warmed over H2O. All things considered, it’s something to ponder – if you think about it.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

When: Saturday, September 18, 2010 5:45 AM-9:30 AM. Central Standard Time
Where: Veteran's Park (21st & Boulder)

Coast Is Clear
There have been numerous rumors floating about as to why we have been so obviously avoiding Veteran’s Park during the last few weeks for our Saturday Runners World Training Runs. Topping the list was to avoid Brian and his way-too-personal-for-our-own-good relationship with his megaphone. Other “reasonable” justifications included throwing a neighborly shout out to Tulsa’s western burb – Jenks, trying to help out the fairgrounds facilities maintenance with a few fresh oil drippings to suppress the parking lot dust, helping the somewhat dedicated runners and runnerettes by throwing out some fresh scenery (albeit running in pitch darkness tends to somewhat temper the potential aesthetics of a new neighborhood), and helping us all develop our urban survival skills through interactive map-reading sessions.
And oh yes, there were side benefits as well, such as providing our gracious outpost station host Sandra, Empress of the fortress commonly known as the “Louisville Watering Hole and Comfort Station”, with the necessary motivation to get that pesky door lock fixed. We learned that although Braden Park occupies slightly more than a city block of space, that it was the centerpiece of a 2 mile loop so as to incorporate hill training in a seemingly terra flata neighborhood. We learned that the students attending the TU campus have either innate navigational skills and/or are destined by necessity to graduate school, as we RW cadets found the campus a temptress in disguise. More like the Bates motel, the campus welcomed us in, but wasn’t about to release its prey until it was thoroughly confused and had surrendered its directional skills. The net result was a perfectly tamed group who would follow without challenge anyone who would offer greater than a 50% chance of busting out of the mysterious campus force field.
But alas, the single true reason, as I choose to imagine it, is that we needed to let the heat settle a bit around Veteran’s Park – and not the ambient kind. You see, there was the matter of some civil unrest, some breaking of rules, and some wanton disregard for society at large by a 300’ish number strong gang of fashion challenged hooligans. Their colors, as reported by anonymous reports, was the wearing of similar types of rubber soled low heeled ankle bearing footwear. Socks, if worn at all, were mostly of the low cut variety. Another peculiar trait common to this gang was a propensity to stand around some pagan temple structures and to drink – and by that I mean drink a lot, while “posing” in various body twists and strain rituals. The crime, allegedly, consisted of all forms of Jaywalking, with total disregard for crossing signals. To compound matters, it was reported that this group exhibited great disdain for sidewalks, as they were found to be rather pedestrian in nature, and rather willfully chose to “pound pavement” like they owned the streets, just daring cars and trucks alike to challenge their right to space.
So, as police strike force and gang warfare units carefully deployed their Veteran’s Park stakeout strategy, not so cleverly dubbed as “The Runaround” for the last few weeks, the alleged suspects were off to explore and worship pavements marked by new pockets of pot-holeyness. But in a masterful and carefully orchestrated game of cat and mouse, this Saturday we will double back and flank the coppers by starting once again from Veteran’s Park, with the super top secret double pinky swear time of 5:45 AM’ish. And away we will steal away to the badlands safe haven known as Turkey Mountain, up one side and down the other. Then, for good measure, we’ll leave some clueless scents through Woodward Park and circle around Swan Lake before heading back to rendezvous central, but not before throwing in a couple more undisclosed miles for exacting garminophobic measures. 18 miles, hills and dales, secret hideouts and G Holes (aka Gatorade/Water Stations), initiated under the cloak of darkness. Allegedly.
If all goes according to plan, we will once again have escaped the sweaty arm of the law, and no one should be more confused than us. With our dastardly and arguably incoherent Return to Veteran's Park strategy in place, we are reminded of the oft used phrase uttered during the great gulf oil cleanup of 2010, presuming you stood far enough inland, say Tennessee’ish: The Coast is Clear.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When: Saturday, September 11, 2010 5:45 AM-8:30 AM. Central Standard Time
Where: Tulsa Fairgrounds (21st & Louisville)

Trust, But Verify
Ever experience one of those occasions where everyone proclaims they are correct, but each with their own version of which left or right is “more right”? Such was last week’s explorations through the University of Tulsa campus, where random groups of runners pursued interpretive course translations. Live and in action were groups coming and going, some in gravitational tracking orbits that threatened to never release their captive prey, each holding what they thought to be the proverbial “one and only true map”. While tightly held by each clammy mitt, these modern yet hieroglyphic mapquest markings were filled with hope, yet provided no golden keys with which to unlock the fading sidewalk chalkings. What is it about running, sweat, early morning dawn, map reading skills, short term memory, directional bearing acuteness, and cognitive reasoning that makes for an impossible blend? We firmly grasp upon the unfulfilled belief that if we stare at the map long enough then the right path will suddenly and miraculously become outlined with luminaries. Running in this environment requires rapid response alertness and the sidestepping and ram avoidance skills of a tailback, as we frequently experienced runners stopping dead in their tracks to take another glimpse of the by now sweat-streaked map and turn instructions.
Another lesson learned was to not be so quick and grateful to follow a fellow runner/runnerette who proclaims that “I know the way”. A couple of miles down the road and in the midst to the TU land of secret passageways, we realized that our due diligence skills fell just a tad short when the “Holderette of Pathways Knowledge” admitted that she knew the last part of the route but not this portion. Aside from stepping on more than a few heels, and smashing noses against the back of abruptly halted heads, the weather couldn’t have been better. And technically, if you really never knew where you were supposed to be, then you really weren’t ever lost.
So with our map-reading skills honed to a sharpness of precision-polished bowling balls, we get another shot at donning our fave Lewis and Clarkette exploring attire with hopes of successfully navigating a brand new trail – once again in near darkness. The advanced marathon group is scheduled for 12 miles, which means we get to run the new course twice, or rather to see if we can successfully run the same route twice. It’s times like these that we truly appreciate the self-proclaimed and unilaterally unsubstantiated skills of our Run Leaders, who have sometimes mistakenly placed the well being of their group ahead of their own selfish needs and satisfaction. (Insert silent moment of pitiful gratitude and grudgingly sincere amazement at their collective ineptitude – but be careful not to overdo it as it tends to raise too many unanswerable questions.)
What with a new course, cement colored sidewalk chalking, temporary blinding headlights, monstrously large sounding barking dogs that seem to be originating from all directions at once, major thoroughfares to cross, new curbs and hidden cracks to stumble over, distorted street signs that were possibly in their youth oriented in the correct directions, you will want to get there early and establish your position before the enormous crowds appear. There are already rumors that pre-run stakeouts with all-nighters will be elbowing for pole positions when the doors open at 5:45 AM’ish. Fortunately we are starting once again from the Fairgrounds near 21st and Louisville (Southwest corner of the Fairgrounds by the historic train engine), so there should be ample camping grounds available.
Remember that if you choose to relinquish control of your route destiny to someone who portrays an outward appearance of calm and self assuredness, a cautionary “trust but verify” approach may serve you well. Also, for the over 40 group (means those in their prime), it might be helpful to stash a few reading specs strategically along the route, but only if you can remember where you left them.

Larry ---->