Two Year Turnaround

Exactly two years ago today I made this post. In the post I essentially said “fuck it, I’m going to start running a lot”. It seems only fitting that two years ago today I would decide to start going HAM and finally two years later I’m likely making the decision to take a break.

My running career has been a roller coaster. The highs were extremely high but short lived while the lows were extremely low and have dragged on endlessly. For a number of years I thought I knew what being serious about running was. I remember two years ago today like it was yesterday. I was sitting on my couch in the living room with my laptop reading the Malmo doubles thread. I sat there hungover and read literally all ~350 posts in that thread. I just decided there was no point to doing something for years and years if you’re not going to take it seriously. I went on a 15 mile run that day with my glasses on which is really unusual. I ran as much as I could for the next five months. Sometimes I felt terrible, but the majority of the time I felt really good. I competed well in all the shitty D3 XC races and even managed to win one. It may sound strange but that’s the only time I ever felt like a ‘real’ runner. Running was never annoying or boring. I would run 10 or 12 miles the day before a meet like it was nothing. I would do 15+ mile long runs every week. I doubled before class three days a week. For a while there it was everything I thought it would be and I really thought it would last for years.

For the past ~year and a half running has been more or less a drag and depending on how I define it, my running career as a whole ranges from “major failure” to “major success”. That major failure part is that my PRs are relatively slow and that aside from that short 5 month span I never really lived up to my potential. My PRs are all from sophomore year which is deceiving because I was in by far the best shape of my life during junior year cross country. The major success parts comes from literally everything other than my personal running. The friends I made, the conversations, the inside jokes, racing against my teammates, yiftering that black guy in the slow heat of the 800, etc.  I obviously wouldn’t say that I regret running or doing all that, but it just went the exact opposite of what I expected.

So here I am two years later with the Phil’s Tavern 5k (who’s that stud in the yellow shorts?) one day away. Here’s what I wrote about Phil’s two years ago after I had my little running revelation. The race itself will be nothing special. It’s going to be ~100 tomorrow and the field is weak so I might actually place well but I doubt I’ll go much faster than 17:15-17:30. Two years ago I looked a Phil’s as a small test to see how I was handling the increased mileage and to see where my fitness was at. It was only the beginning of a great period of running.

Two years later I’m looking at Phil’s as my last hurrah. I’ve rode my fitness from spring track long enough and this is going to be the end. I will run this race tomorrow and then likely take off for a few months. I didn’t think stopping running would be this hard but it actually has been. I assumed I would just run when I felt like it, maybe a few times a week. This would be a good practice if I didn’t feel like running everyday. I’ve taken two days off that weren’t a Friday since I graduated. I’m running just as much as I was in school. I’m don’t know what it is. I think I might be scared to stop running. I’ve never voluntarily taken off more than a few weeks since high school. Maybe it will be easy after a week of not doing it but I can’t imagine just stopping.

Unfortunately I kind of have to. I took 400 free throws the other day (and made 313!) and my back was killing me. If I want any hopes of seriously training for something (alumni mile, spring marathon?) I’ll have to take a few months off and see if my back will get better. I sort of wrote off the idea of being able to run 80+ mile weeks again just because of my back but if somehow my back actually healed, I would absolutely do it given my current set-up. It’s a suffer now-reap the benefits later type of deal that will probably not work out but there’s no harm in trying.

This has been a long post that I bet very very few people will read but I’m 800 words in and I’m posting it.

2011 Phil's Tavern race. Two studs on the outsides (and a future state champ in the mile).
2011 Phil’s Tavern race. Two studs on the outsides (and a future state champ in the mile in the middle).

 

Doping in T&F: A Solution?

I read this on the message boards but I think this is actually a really good idea. Say you have runner X and runner Y and they both run the 100m. We’ll say that runner X runs 9.8 and runner Y runs 9.9 and that these two are the two fastest men in the world. Runner Y fails a drug test and all of sudden you have runner X standing alone at the top with everyone waiting for him to test positive. Now, what would normally happen is runner X would say something like “I’m very sorry to hear about runner Y. I always loved racing him, yada yada. I want to reassure everyone that I am fully against PEDs and that I never would and never have taken them.” This is completely expected and what everyone does. But everyone still assumes runner X is on some sort of drug or stimulant no matter what. If they test positive you’ll say “I knew it all along” and if they never test positive you’ll say “the cheaters are ahead of the testers, all because he never got caught doesn’t mean he wasn’t doping.”

But what if runner X did this. What if he came out and publicly said “I know everyone thinks I’m on drugs, so to prove I’m not, I’m going to start taking drugs and when I run 9.5x you can all kiss my ass and know that my 9.8 was clean.” In theory, if he went out and ran 9.5x after saying that I would absolutely believe his 9.8 was clean. I think this works. The only fool-proof way to get your name absolutely cleared of drugs is to take drugs. Who could argue with that? No chance in hell anyone would say “Hmm, well yes he improved by .2x but he could have been holding back before while he was on the juice.” The guy had no prior knowledge that runner Y would get caught. This solution is genius.

There are obviously some problems. Morally, no one wants to compromise their name but in my mind if you openly say it beforehand I think it’s different. I wouldn’t run the 9.5 at a certified meet therefore the time wouldn’t count as a record. I would’t want it to be on any meet results for anyone to find anywhere. You can have an FAT and a video camera with as many people as you want to make sure everything accurate. Medically you may not want to shrink your dick or whatever else comes with taking steroids but you’d only do it for a short period of time and then you’d be off the juice. And worst case scenario is you would start taking drugs, not be able to run 9.5x, and everyone would assume you’re on drugs. That’s the biggest downfall in my opinion but obviously the things work so all you need is to have that one perfect race.

If a big name sprinter came out and did this with the expected results I would respect them an incredible amount. If Bolt said this and then somehow ran 9.3x I would shit myself and the world would have to recognize that his 9.58 and 9.64 OR and 9.69 in Beijing were real and that he is without a doubt the greatest track and field athlete of all time.

Ben Johnson. the guy who ruined it for everyone by testing positive in the 1988 Seoul Olympics after his historic and recording breaking 9.79.

Gay it ain’t so

Today was an absolutely terrible day for Track and Field. If you haven’t heard, Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, and a few others who remain unnamed tested positive. This is monumental. This is essentially as big as it gets (spare Bolt, but we’ll wait a few days on that one). Tyson Gay is the second fastest man ever and by far the biggest name in US track and field right now. He was seen as Bolt’s biggest threat and likely would have gone into Moscow as the favorite against Bolt because he’s been so good this year. He was pretty much seen as the anti-bolt. He’s an extremely hard worker, very humble, soft spoken, and has made many public statements against doping and saying that he is clean. He was part of an anti-doping program called My Victory and stated “I compete clean because I really believe in fairness, and besides that, my mom would kill me! Just being honest.” If you had asked 100 knowledgeable T&F fans about who they thought was clean, Tyson Gay would be near the top of most lists despite his crazy fast times. To the public Bolt being busted would be way bigger of a story but to people in the sport Gay being busted is bigger. Everyone more or less assumes Bolt is on the juice but Gay was kind of seen as the one last hope for clean runners having success.

The fact that he is a cheat is such an incredible disappointment. Him and Powell have made more or less the same statement that I’ll paraphrase. “I never knowingly took PEDs. I would never do that. Someone else gave it to me without my knowledge. I apologize to everyone who support me and look forward to clearing my name and coming back even stronger.” It’s never the athletes fault. Gay’s statement officially said “I basically put my trust in someone and I was let down.”

Own up and take responsibility. You are fully capable of deciding what goes in or doesn’t go into your body. If you’re putting your trust in others then you’re doing something wrong. You have the potential to win gold in Moscow and beat Bolt which would be a historic feat, you better damn well be watching what substances you let into your body. I honestly believe that Gay didn’t knowingly take whatever substance he tested positive for (it hasn’t been revealed yet) but that’s not even close to an excuse.

What does this mean for T&F as a whole? Mostly bad things but one good thing. I’ll start with the good. Gay is the biggest name in US running so it’s nice to see he doesn’t get a pass because of that. People have said that if Bolt ever tested positive it would never come out because that would trash the spot. While that is true, I’d rather have him get busted and everyone know it then have him compete dirty and win.

The bad thing is this, I’ve followed track and field closely now for about four years. Everyone has their suspicions about athletes but because few positive samples actually come out, most people give athletes the benefit of the doubt. No longer. If you asked me “is Bolt clean” I would bet my life that he is not (although I probably would have done the same before today). Breaking 10.00 in the 100 used to be an incredible accomplishment, now it’s expected. I don’t believe that’s due to smarter training and improved surfaces, it’s due to drugs and anyone with a brain should be able to realize that. You’re being naive if you think that only the people who get caught are the only ones doping. I don’t know who’s clean and who’s not but I more or less doubt everyone. I have very little confidence saying Rupp and Farah are clean, although I would probably just slightly lean towards clean.

Here’s how much of a joke the 100m is. The following is a list of everyone who has run under 9.8 in the 100 and whether or not they’ve tested positive.

Ben Johnson – Tested Positive
Maurice Greene
Tim Montgomery – Tested Positive
Justin Gatlin – Tested Positive
Nesta Carter – Tested Positive
Asafa Powell – Tested Positive
Tyson Gay – Tested Positive
Yohan Blake
Usain Bolt

Maurice Greene is more or less known as a drug cheat due to letters from Ato Boldin. That leaves Blake and Bolt, the biggest jokes of the bunch. 9.69 and 9.58. So you’re telling me that only two people in history have broken 9.8 CLEAN and their times were 9.69 and 9.58? Get serious. So what, Bolt would run a 9.3x if he was doping? The whole thing is laughable.

There’s no choice but to keep doing things the right way and hoping that the testing catches up with the cheaters.

File:Usain Bolt winning-cropped.jpg
The 100m Final at the ’08 Olympics in Beijing. These are the fastest men in the world. We know some are doped, who would you guess?

Zimmerman and Martin. My Thoughts

The Trayvon Martin George Zimmerzan case is causing a stir and I’m not sure it’s rightfully so. The reason I say that is because murders happen every single day and this one for some particular reason has become one of the biggest cases of our generation. The obvious reason is that there’s reason to believe the murder was racially charged. I believe that Martin probably didn’t deserve to die but there has to be other very similar cases that have happened in the past few years that get no press coverage. If that statement is way off then it makes sense why this case is huge but that’s just my view on it.

Before I start I should say that I have absolutely no legal background and will admit right away my opinion should hold almost no value. I don’t know why but some people seem to think they’re experts on the subject. There’s so much outrage that Zimmerman got off but I truly wonder how many of those people have actually followed the case. It seems the media is so bias in both directions, with the conservatives painting Trayvon as a hood-rat thug and Zimmerman as a sensible and concerned citizen whereas the liberals paint Trayvon as this super innocent skittles eating child and Zimmerman as this grizzly deranged racist reject who’s trying to be a cop. I also don’t like the idea that if you side with Zimmerman you’re a racist. It’s essentially racist to say that.

From a moral perspective I don’t want to see someone die who didn’t deserve it. Zimmerman was clearly tying to be a hero in stopping these break-ins in his neighborhood. The cops even told him not to do anything but he disregarded that and approached Martin anyway so it’s not like Zimmerman didn’t instigate anything. It’s obviously in bad taste to speak ill of the dead but it wasn’t like Martin was a little angel either. He had been suspended from school for having drug residue in his book bag a few days prior which was his third suspension that year.

Some say Martin attacked Zimmerman because he was following him. That is a moderately reasonable belief but you can’t have it both ways. Zimmerman follows Martin because he’s concerned and it’s wrong, but Martin can attack Zimmerman because he’s concerned and it’s okay? Either they’re both right in what they did or they’re both wrong. Zimmerman They say the gun was fire between 1 and 18 inches away from Martin so they were obviously in a fight while Zimmerman shot. It wasn’t like they were 6 feet apart and Zimmerman wasn’t in any danger. He had wounds on the back of his head and a bloody/broken nose. It’s tough to tell when the gun was fired if Zimmerman was being attacked or attacking but evidence points one way in my opinion. This is clearly the kicker. Someone was yelling for help. If it was Trayvon and Zimmerman was attacking then Zimmerman should be guilty, if it was Zimmerman then I would argue it was self-defense and he’s not guilty.

Zimmerman had been acting like a wanna-be cop for a while but he never attacked any of his other ‘suspects’. The pictures look  like Zimmerman got his ass beat decently well and that Martin didn’t have any real injuries other than the gunshot so I have a hard time believing he was getting crushed, then all of a sudden turned it around, and then decided to shoot him. A witness said this, “the guy who was on the top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point.” and most of the evidence suggests it was Zimmerman calling for help. Also, when your biggest witness says that Martin described Zimmerman as a “creepy ass cracka” it doesn’t look good.

That’s an extremely brief overview but strictly from a legal standpoint, from what I’ve read it seems reasonable to think Zimmerman acted in self defense and there’s not enough evidence to suggest otherwise. If I was a juror in that case with no prior knowledge and only heard what the defense and the prosecution said, I probably would have said not-guilty. A 17 year old kid is dead which is tragic and there’s no getting around that but I don’t think there should be as much outrage and riots around this as there is right now.

He’s getting paid for this?!

Today my father had to go into work late (ended up not going in at all but that’s a different story) because someone from the township had to come and see Trooper. Trooper had an unknown wound on his back that has been treated successfully and the cat is completely fine now. However, this had to be reported to the township for a possible rabies infection. I see Trooper every single day and would probably notice if something was going on but that’s neither here nor there. We ‘need’ a guy from the township to come three times in the course of six months to check on Noops. Today was one of those three times.

I was getting ready to go to work when the doorbell rang. It was a guy from the township looking for Trooper who was right beside me. The guy literally walked in the room, looked at the cat, and said “okay, seeeyuhlaterrr”. He didn’t actually say that but the man was in the house for no more than 30 seconds.

How in the hell is this somebody’s job? This guy was on the clock when he made this trip to 1716 Salt Kettle? Is that a joke? He walked in, looked at a cat, and left. It could have been Sneezy or Elvis or anyone of them. Trooper could have been rabid and foaming at the mouth, he didn’t check anything. This guy had no clue and gave absolutely zero quas about it. What he took the time to drive out and do is something I do 100 times a day every day, look at a cat. Why not just have me do it? If Trooper has rabies I’m not going to hide him, I’m going to kill him. Yeah, he’s my pet and I love him but I’m not going sacrifice myself for him. What this guy did today accomplished absolutely nothing that he couldn’t have done without making the trip to my house. He could have checked the box just as easily at the desk in his office after a phone call with me saying “Yeah, Trooper is not infecting all the other living things here, he’s fine.”

I’m absolutely baffled by the fact that it’s actually someone’s job to do something as stupid as this. If he’s making more than $5.00 an hour which he legally has to then this is a complete waste of time and money. Not only that, but we have to monitor our schedules and potentially take time away from our ‘real’ jobs because of this. It’s just stupid on so many different levels.

Does this look like a sick cat to you?!

What makes funny

I’m sure every comedian would laugh at this realization but it’s becoming more and more clear. The “funniness” of something is not strictly determined by content. While that does play a big role, I believe that delivery plays an even bigger role. This is made obvious when someone tells an average story with shitty delivery but it goes deeper than that.

Content plays the biggest role in certain things. The following gifs are funny only because of their content. We encounter things like this a lot more these days because of the internet. Stuff like nut shots or memes are funny due to the content because in reality there is no delivery.

But when things are being spoken delivery plays a bigger role than the content. Let’s look at the following clips.

Gob’s trademark of “COME ON!” isn’t so funny because of the content, but it’s his enthusiastic delivery (also, him saying “Bees?… Bees!” wouldn’t be funny if it wasn’t for his delivery either). Take for instance his very best “COME ON!”.

Two things make this a classic. 1) the pause before he says come on, you can tell he’s realizing in his head what happened and 2) this particular come on is even MORE enthusiastic than his others. If he did a regular come on or did it right away this scene would lose comedic value.

Finally, here’s some Seinfeld. This clip gets me every single time.

http://youtu.be/Mxhs-O_9BLc?t=3m15s

Kramer laughing at Jerry’s average joke is absolutely hysterical in my mind. But the fact that Kramer would exaggerate his laugh isn’t that funny, it’s that this particular laugh is not only perfectly delivered, but virtually impossible to replicate. Slade and I have attempted to perform this laugh countless times and it’s literally impossible. I will laugh every single time I watch this clip.

Story telling/joke delivering is an art. Just be aware that you can turn shitty content into quality material if the delivery is spot on.

“You’re no Jack Kennedy”

The following clip is from the 1988 vice presidential debate between Dan Quayle and and Lloyd Bensten.

First of all, if you don’t know much about Dan Quayle, watch how dumb he was here (the defense/offense thing is my favorite). He also famously misspelled potato “potatoe”. Now to the clip. Apparently that clip is famous. A few days ago it was indirectly referenced on a thread I was reading and I (along with others) had no idea what the guy was talking about. Granted I hadn’t been born yet but I would bet that a good number of older people remember that or have at least heard of it.

It would seem to me that iconic moments like this will live on only within generations. There are too many memorable moments that people can reference or talk about for everyone to be familiar with. There’s really no reason anyone born after 1970 would know or remember this quote but I bet tons of Americans born between 1940-1970 would be able to recall that. When they pass on that moment will more or less pass on with them.

This is a somewhat depressing thought because I’m sure a lot of these moments are worth remembering. But this means that each generation will have their own defining and iconic moments which makes me happy. Reading about something in a text book is one thing but it wouldn’t tell the whole story. Living through something is way more awesome. People in the early 1900’s could tell their grandchildren about the Titanic, the roaring 20’s, and the Depression. People in the mid 1900’s could tell their grandchildren about WWII, Vietnam, and the Beatles. And I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren about 9/11, the first (half) black president being elected, and hopefully a number of other iconic events. Those are obviously the extreme defining moments but it’s interesting to look at what moments effect all of those who experienced certain things and how many moments have probably been lost in time. I doubt Lloyd Bensten being a Dick to Dan Quayle had any serious effect on anyone but you get the point.

Wayback Machine

Someone at work showed me this cool site called Wayback Machine that lets you look at what websites looked like at previous points in time. This site serves two purposes, one is very obvious and one is not as obvious. The obvious one is to show us how far we’ve come. When I look at the pictures below I can’t imagine how these sites ever survived. The second purpose is to show us that although we think we’re living in an extremely advanced, high-tech era, it’s only going to progress from here. In 10 years we’re going to look back at some of the pages we regularly see today and think the same thing we’re thinking now. Here are some that I thought were worth looking at (click to make larger).

Vintage Bansheemann7 circa July 2010
Vintage Bansheemann7 circa July 2010
ESPN, September 2000. Duce going for 201 and a TD?
ESPN, September 2000. Duce going for 201 and a TD?

 

Apple in May 2000. Actually not a bad looking site but I think I'll pass on those gigantic monitors.
Apple in May 2000. Actually not a bad looking site but I think I’ll pass on those gigantic monitors.

 

Addictinggames in July 2003. Who didn't love Helicopter, mini putt, spear thrower, curve ball, slime soccer, defend your castle, spank the monkey, etc?
Addictinggames in July 2003. Who didn’t love Helicopter, mini putt, spear thrower, curve ball, slime soccer, defend your castle, spank the monkey, etc?

 

Yahoo in April 2000. Perhaps the worst of all. What the hell is going on here?
Yahoo in April 2000. Perhaps the worst of all. What the hell is going on here?
We'll finish with TC's blog. Who wouldn't feel welcomed by that picture!
We’ll finish with TC’s blog in Jan 2010. Who wouldn’t feel welcomed by that picture!

 

 

Soldiers Coming Home

I’ve never had anyone close to me overseas at war but I imagine this would be a pretty incredible thing. It’s sad to think their could be an equally emotional compilation made filming the reactions of those who lost a child, parent, or sibling. These are always tear jerkers. I’m aware it’s long.

Given

Tom made a post about how he’s spending money at a rapid pace and it seems difficult to get anything saved up, but that in reality he can’t complain because he’s way better off than most. This sparked a thought that I’ve had since I started working ~6 weeks ago. I currently drive a 2004 BMW 325i. It’s more or less a family car that conveniently works out for me. Since I’ve started working I’ve had multiple people comment positively about the car but one guy (who I joke around with a lot) made a comment about how daddy bought me my car. Since then I’ve honestly felt a little embarrassed to drive that car to work.

When I look at my life up to this point, I’ve been given everything. I grew up in Upper Dublin which is about as pampered and harmless of a suburb as you’ll find. I went through my expensive liberal arts college without personally paying anything for it and have come out on the other side with zero debt. I drive a car that is way too nice for me. I’ve never submitted a real job application. I got a job because of who I knew not what I knew. I’m currently living at my home which is conveniently located less than a mile away from work. I’m making a decent amount of money while paying virtually zero expenses. I have a successful family business that’s being handed down to me and my brothers. I’ve never experienced any significant loss in my life. Yes I had grandparents but I wasn’t as close to them as I probably should have been and they all passed before I even realized what death was. Melvin dying is about the most tragic thing I’ve ever experienced. With all of this said, I have absolutely no excuse not to succeed in life.

Being given everything isn’t a bad thing obviously. I’m set up about as well as anyone can ask for. But I think it may cause people to take things for granted. There’s a sense of pride in being a self-made man and going through the hard times in order to come out on the other side. You drive a BMW because you’ve worked hard for it and are now reaping the benefits. I drive a BMW because others have worked hard and have fortunately spread the wealth towards me. That’s why I feel embarrassed to drive around in my BMW. I get the feeling people don’t think I realize this. They think I have this self-image of being a young hot-shot cruising around like I’m on top of the world. If I don’t greatly succeed with the life I’ve been given then I should be classified as a failure in the same way that if a poor inner city kid doesn’t fail miserably then he’s considered a success (granted that all depends on how you define success).