Sunday, October 19, 2008

10K race report

This was a race in Madison, WI. We were there meeting my parents, who had flown in from Europe to visit for a week.

It was a cold, foggy morning. The warm-up was labored but I got through it decently, with some good strides. At the start line, there were a few guys who looked like they may be competition and, indeed, one of those took off very fast.

I tried holding on but had to let go after maybe 200 yards. I looked back and the next guy back was too far back to wait for. Alas, a race all by myself, I thought. But I was wrong. There was a big hill after a quarter mile and the guy ahead of me really charged up the hill. At this point, I didn't think I would catch back up at all. But on the way down, he was suddenly started shaking his arms and slowing down, basically looking like he had stiffened up completely coming up the hill. I caught back up and we ran together for about a mile.

Then another big hill came and he charged ahead of me again. I just couldn't hold on. But at the top, the same thing happened. He slowed down dramatically and I caught back up even before the downhill came. Once it came, I leaned forward a little and pulled away from him.

That's when the fog was starting to lift. It was just me and the lead-out bike and I turned on my iPod. Suddenly, the legs felt great. I didn't even look back for a few miles.

It was probably a negative split, mostly because the first half was hillier than the first but also because I felt great at the end. Overall, the race was relaxed and I feel I could have gone harder had there been closer competition. I ended up winning by almost two minutes in 34:45. I am very happy with the time. I haven't been training as much as I have wanted; while that is not beneficial in itself, it has certainly left me with fresh legs.

The Girl ran well. She won easily, finishing over two minutes ahead of second place so she ran it a little slower that she had expected. Her time was 42:05, which is very good but a little below the shape she is in right now. I think her taper was a little weak as well. Besides being the fastest, she also had the best legs at the race:

This is her accepting the, somewhat large, award, Lorax in arm.

The best part of this race was actually the kids race. Both the older kids entered the mile race. Daughter took my advice and started out slowly and ended up doing really well. She won a certificate for Culver's so she was pretty happy.

Son did a lot of standing and jogging in place but once in a while he would sprint in the right direction for a while.

My dad ran it in 58 minutes and won the 60+ age group. He is running injury free at 62 so I'm hoping I have his leg genes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Neighborhood

Ran to the Y yesterday through a depressed, poor part of town. The legs were sore and stiff; I wasn't feeling great. Saw a couple of interesting things in those 2 miles.

A young man, probably early 20s, morbidly obese with shiny red lips and an empty stare, wearing a Packer jersey that had seen better days. He was pulling an ancient computer around in a children's Radio Flyer Wagon. He was going around the house, like he was taking the computer for a walk. He looked up at me and seemed 10% embarrassed about the situation.

Realistically, he was a retarded young man having a good time. Alternatively, he was just a fat guy cleaning out his attic.

Then I ran by a number of churches. The poorer the neighborhood, the more churches; more opium to the people, you know. But there is one church I hate. It's a Baptist church; the reverend there once stated in the local newspaper that the war in Iraq is God's will, and that Man should not care about the environment, since Rapture is just around the corner. That guy is everything that's wrong with the world, and yet he is allowed to preach hatred in there, in his tax-free haven.

Then more of the same. A bumper sticker said "I vote pro-life". Which is fine. I guess. But somewhere a Republican strategist is thinking "sucker!". Unless the driver was an excentric Purveyor of Fine 1996 Rusty Pontiac Grand Ams, he probably didn't make $250K a year, or $25K a year for that matter.

Then the kicker. A group of people holding giant posters with dead fetuses. Nasty stuff; one baby looked like it was almost full term with a crushed head. They had come in a big van and looked like absolutely normal people, preaching an absolutely hateful message. I don't know if they were legal but I saw the same group later that day in another part of town and had to tell my kids to look away. They had come in from the hills to show the city people how it was, in a big van with a dead fetus on it. It had the words "Obamanation" all over the side.

I think stiff like this has the same effect as when Obama pals around with gay peace activists: it frightens the moderates. I, for one, sure was freaked out. Such hatred.

Where do I lean, you ask? Socially, I am left of San Francisco. I am for complete social freedom, which is typical of a European-American halfsie such as myself. No surprise there.

Financially, I am torn. America is extremely unfair. Extremely unfair. Most Americans, espeically poor Americans, do not realize just how unfair life is. Too many Americans are caught by society in lives they cannot escape. There is not enough money; there is no escape. The other day, I saw a 25-year old guy with stumps for teeth. Had no health insurance; came in for back pain but didn't want his job to know about it. Told me he was spending all his money on his two kids. Seemed like a really nice guy. Most of these people, who exist around the poverty line, are good people for whom things just didn't work out for a while. It doesn't take too many missteps, and they are stuck.

But the thing is, I can live with the unfairness because I am on the good end of unfair. Most people who have travelled outside America, who have seen the extreme unfairness of edveloping countries or the stiffling fairness of Europe, are on the good side of unfair. They can live with it, too. I know that, realistically, it's not right that a doctor makes 10 times more than a school teacher but yet I live with it.

A teacher of mine in elementary school, John, was a great guy. He was a gay socialist to the bone. He made us sing socialist fighting songs, but he also taught a really decent Religion class. A student once asked him (you'll be able to tell this was not in America): "if you win the lottery, will you still vote for the Socialists?". John thought about this for a long time, and we were all waiting to hear his answer. He finally said "I would still vote for them, but I would hope the Conservatives won".

I know exactly what he meant.

I guess I should write about running, too. I have put in some decent speed workouts but they tell me that I am not in the best of shape. I am running a 10K on Saturday and I think, realistically, I am aiming for a sub-35. More importantly, I am going for the win, and wouldn't mind running tactically.

The Girl is faster and faster. She has started to do speed work once or twice a week. Usually runs 800s in 5:50 pace. I think she will probably run just below 40 minutes on Saturday.

We are talking about running the trans-rockies race next summer as a mix team. It's a strange race, in the sense that the couple has to run together, making the woman the important part of the team. However, the Girl is slowly becoming the (relatively) faster of the two of us so that's probably a good thing. If "pushing" is allowed, it would be fun to run it competitively.

Actually, back up. What's better, a man's 35-minute 10K or a woman's 40-minute 10K? Anyone? I guess my gut tells me the womans 40-minute 10K but I am curious to hear what other people think.