Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Doldrums


"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


I've been doing this blog thing long enough to be able to look back at where I was last years at this time, and to notice certain seasonal patterns in my running attitude. It's not even July yet, but I've already got an August attitude going. Only downside of having an August attitude in June is that the end is nowhere near.

I hate the heat. This week I've been forced, due to circumstances beyond my control, to run at 9:30 am on hundred + degree days and it is absolute torture for me. Is I ventured out the door this past Tuesday my thermometer read 108 degrees! Now I know that couldn't possibly be true and the sensor is on the sunny east wall of my house, but it did actually feel like 108, though it was really only 99! Brrrrrrrr.

I dragged myself through 6+ miles of a lung scorching sufferfest knowing all the while that tomorrow...and tomorrow...and tomorrow would be more of the same.

On hearing my whining, my southern friends helpfully told me to suck-it-up. That's life for them! Okay. But I didn't choose to live in Phoenix or San Antonio! And they don't have to deal with snow, icy winds and sub-zero temps in the winter. Having to deal with the worst of both seems fundamentally unfair. For those who have lived in Maine, there's a saying: "If you can't take the winters, you don't deserve the summers", and that applies to Colorado a bit as well.

Usually, sometime in August I hit a psychological wall of heat and exhaustion - but I am always comforted by the thought that fall is near. This year? No such luck. High temperatures right now are 15-20 degrees higher than normal and the many wildfires burning throughout this tinderbox state add dangerous smoke to the mix. And there seems to be no end in sight.

I'm already thinking of signing up for the May 2013 Colorado Marathon on the opening day of registration (July 15th) so that I can begin fantasizing about snowy winter long runs. I vowed last winter to take a winter off from marathon training - but now I'm rethinking that promise to myself. I'm also rethinking my early fall plans because I don't want to run 16 miles tomorrow and 17 next Saturday...and 18, and 20, and 22, etc...in July and August. Blah. Why do this to myself? I don't have to do this.

I also know, at least rationally, that running in the heat will make me stronger and faster in the fall. Last summers article in Running Times, Myths About Running In the Heat, looked at a study of heat-trained cyclists and observed that:
"Across the board the heat-trained riders showed gains in the measures all runners hope to improve: VO2 max, lactate threshold, maximal cardiac output, maximal power output and 1-hour time trial performance. Yet the only piece of the training that varied was the exposure to heat. The magnitude of the effect was similar to altitude training."
So, my rational mind knows that it's good for me, running-wise, and if proper precautions are taken it can be safe - but I can't seem to escape the soul-killing suckiness of running through the Colorado blast furnace.

Perhaps in the fall I will reap the benefits. For now I trudge on...

"To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, June 22, 2012

Is Running Bad For You?


Ever since the untimely death of Micah True (who apparently died due to cardiomyophathy, an enlarged heart, which can be caused by something as simple as an infection, usually undetected - not necessarily due to running) and various sensationalized deaths around the country during marathons, the subject of whether running is good or bad for you, and how much is good and bad for you, has been a media and discussion board hot topic.

Never mind that more people die skiing or playing golf every year, or getting out of bed in the morning, or having sex... never mind that noise pollution increases our chances of having a cardiac event, even the yearly switch from daylight savings to standard time and then back again increases heart attack risks- No, let's ignore all of that and pick on running. For those who welcome another excuse to remain firmly ass-planted on the couch, this is music to the ear.

Stop running so much, the experts advise. You're killing yourself!


Most runners will take what the various fitness and health "experts" have to say with-a-grain-of-salt. We tend to be a fairly empirical group - that is, we take our experiences and we draw OUR own conclusions. Research be damned. Running makes us feel good, we have more energy, we're happy - so poo-poo to the naysayers.

I had this reaction myself the other day when a friend (and fellow runner) and I had a discussion about her husband's trip to the doctor for an annual check up. Her husband has been a runner for years and presently runs around 40 miles a week. He's run races in the past but currently runs, I assume, for the sake of exercise and sanity. His doctor told him that he is completely healthy. Doesn't need any tests. He's in tip-top shape. Then the doctor asked him how many miles a week he runs. When the response was, around 40 miles a week, the doctor immediately recommended that he cut back. He assured his patient that 20 miles a week is optimal for health and fitness. He brought up issues of wear-and-tear, and recommended that he split his exercise between running. biking, and swimming.

Okay. Enough with the wear-and-tear arguments. What's killing us in this country is this idea that if we use our bodies then they're going to wear them out. Joints DON'T wear out. Bodies don't wear out. Even Time magazine in "Is Running Bad for Your Knees? Maybe Not" acknowledges this, so it must be true! And in fact, the bulk of the research out there suggests that not using our bodies is what leads to the aches and pains that leave us sitting in front of the boob-tube day in and day out. When we walk and run (weight baring activities) our joints are bathed in fluids that keep them happy and healthy. Sure, running alone may lead to muscle imbalances (and most of us know that through our own empirical studies as well) but it ain't gonna wear anything out. And if you have a genetic predisposition to developing osteoarthritis exercise helps to stave off the debilitating effects. Use it or lose.

Next - Does running damage the heart? Well, it is true that a high mileage running event, like running marathon or ultra distances, does increase (temporarily) cardiac stress, inflammation and free radicals. However, those who regularly run higher mileage overall fair better in those circumstances than those who run fewer miles. In a recent Outside magazine piece, Erin Beresini writes:
"[R]unning 26.2 miles straight can have deleterious effects on muscles, elevating troponin and plasma CPK, indicators of muscle and cardiac damage, and C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation. Endurance runners face even greater risk of heart damage, outlined by the untimely death of ultrarunner Micah True earlier this year."
The claim and concern here is that the cardiac damage is permanent not just temporary. But I don't think it's good reasoning nor good science to draw general conclusions from the single case of Micah True. Many articles in the popular press seem to be promulgating this fear based alone on the story of Micah True. I believe this is irresponsible journalism. But more concerning, is the notion that some doctors are buying into it as well and unnecessarily scaring their patients.

Medical science does not know THE cause of cardiomyopathy.  I had a dog many years ago who died of cardiomyopathy. The theory was, and this was only an educated guess, that her heart was weakened by a case of Lyme Disease, which she was easily cured of with antibiotics but her heart had already been infected by the time any symptoms were apparent. But wait, she also ran 50 miles a week with me for years and years - perhaps it was all that running! The fact is, we just don't know what the exact trigger is/was, for my dog or Micah True.

In the new York Times article "Is Marathon Running Bad for the Heart?" by Gretchen Reynolds, it's clear that the numbers do not support jumping to extreme conclusions:

"What the researchers found was that, even as participation in marathon racing almost doubled during the past decade, to more than 473,000 finishers in 2009 from about 299,000 in 2000, the death rate remained unchanged, and vanishingly small. A total of 28 people died during or in the 24 hours immediately after a marathon, most of them men, and primarily from heart problems. (A few of the deaths were due to hyponatremia, or low blood sodium, in those who drank excessive amounts of fluid.) Those numbers translate into less than one death per 100,000 racers."
For the majority of people running, even running a lot, is safe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Can I be "fit" running 20 miles week? Sure. But fitness, per se, is not the only aim for many runners. That was the argument I found myself making in response to my friend's concerns about her running and her husband's running. I even heard myself saying "I don't care about fitness - I don't run to be fit - I run because I want to run". And that's not exactly true, but I'm not a 'fitness' runner. Sure I like feeling strong but that's because it allows me to live a good and active life especially as I get older. But I also run for so many other reasons: spiritual, aesthetic, emotional, psychological, etc - and in many ways those outweigh all the concerns about fitness and health.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Get Outside and Enjoy the Trees

Happy Summer Solstice!


Go for a run, 
through the trees, 
across a field, 
up a mountain, 
down a hill, 
around the block,
traverse a city street, 
in the heat,
in the rain,
go fast,
go slow,
but go.

 Midsummer - Lithia...Cheers!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Eating and Running and Living

 "Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight."  ~Albert Schweitzer

With the release of Scott Jurek's book Eat and Run the subject of veganism and vegetarianism and meat eating has become a hot topic among both runners and non runners alike. Jurek's book has already hit the top 10 (at #7) of the New York Times best sellers list it's first week out. Clearly it's not just runners buying this book. Its release has inspired some interesting conversations among runners both online and in person.

As I settle into a seat at the start of Jurek's book launching event in Boulder the guy sitting next to me asks, "So, what brings you to this event?" "Well" I said "I'm a runner and I've been a vegetarian for 30 years so I'm interested in hearing what he has to say." He responded "Wow. Thirty years? That was before it was even popular." Yeah.

Whenever the subject of diet and nutrition comes up among a group of runners, or anyone really, the views tend to be adamant and contentious. Runners, in particular, only seem to want to hear about the views of others if they actually ask a question. Otherwise expressing an opinion (backed up with reasons) gets us all bent out of shape. Those with strong views are seen as zealots and wing-nuts obsessed with food or their bodies, etc. Eat what you want and let others eat what they want, is the general position.

So here's my problem: I also teach and think about ethics (it's my profession after all) and ethics sometimes requires us to argue with others about what's right and wrong. But in a culture that claims to subscribe to the "It's all good" mentality, voicing an opinion is bad form. Furthermore, most people see eating as a matter of taste - a matter of preference: I like the color green, you like the color pink. It's a matter of taste. You like meat, I don't like meat. It's a matter of taste. But are they really the same?

I don't think they they are the same. I've said many times before, that when my actions effect me alone, then I can do as I please. But, for me, when an action effects others, then it becomes an ethical issue. What we choose to eat effects others - human animals and non-human animals. If I purchase grapes harvested by exploited (mostly undocumented) migrant workers who are exposed to massive quantities of carcinogenic herbicides (because they are not protected by OSHA) then I contribute to the continuation of that practice. Likewise, when I purchase factory farmed meat I'm giving a thumbs up to the status quo.

When I met Scott Jurek last week as he signed my book, I thanked him for bringing this issue to the masses of runners. He is actually pretty clear that his main reason for his veganism is not strictly an "animal" issue, though he is mindful of that, but he just feels better and runs better eating vegan. I've only begun reading his book, so I will reserve further comment on his claims for later.

This is my argument, not his.
“To give preference to the life of a being simply because that being is a member of our species would put us in the same position as racists who give preference to those who are members of their race.”~ Peter Singer
So what's the real problem with meat? After World War II meat consumption in the US increased dramatically. In response to the ever increasing demand, intensive rearing practices were developed making meat cheap and plentiful. Initially cattle were placed in feedlots, dirt enclosures, and fed corn. Corn is the most cost effective way to fatten cattle fast and cheap. The problem is that cattle can not digest corn. So, the cattle began developing massive infections. The solution was to include large doses of antibiotics in with their feed. Problem solved. Now large numbers of cattle can be raised in very compact areas on cheap feed. The epitome of capitalist economic model: Based on Cost Benefit Analysis alone this is a brilliant method.


What do the critics say? Well, for one thing, this meat is not good for us. Consuming antibiotics in meat has led to the serious problem of antibiotic resistance, which is a scary deal if you ask me.

But, more importantly, what about the nonhuman animals? Do they deserve any consideration here? A general, and widely accepted moral principle is the principle of non-malfeasance: Not contributing the the harm of another (who can be harmed). Arguable, nonhuman animals can be harmed: They are sentient beings (can feel pain) and exhibit natural inclinations (chickens like to scratch). So, should we be acting in a way that contributes to their pain and the frustration of their natural desires when this treatment is unnecessary? Most of the meat that most of us eat today comes from factory farms. The principle of non-malfeasance would require that if we eat meat we should produce it in a way that minimizes pain and allows for at least a reasonably good life for the animals. This would require a complete overhaul of the systems and economic forces now in place.
 


And the question for runners is: Is it necessary to eat meat for the sake of performance? I don't think so, and I think Jurek offers a good example, though admittedly only one example, (and I'll offer myself as another) of the possibility that meat eating is not necessary.

It's really quite simple:
“If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it.”~ Peter Singer

Friday, June 15, 2012

Is Running For Everyone??

To be nobody but yourself in a world doing its best to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human can ever fight and never stop fighting.
- e. e. cummings
As I sit in the auditorium of the Dairy Center for Performing Arts in Boulder, surrounded by some the best and the brightest in running, past, present and future, I am struck by a certain strangeness: The room is full of slim, fit, well educated, well off white people. That's pretty much Boulder - at least the Boulder most people know and choose to see.

The crowd reflects the demographics of running: Male: 76 % earn over $75,000/yr, 76% are college educated. Female: 70.3% earn over $70,000/yr, 78.2% are college educated (RRCA). This doesn't exactly make most runners "average" Americans.

The evening opens with a show of hands from those who ran that day. How many miles, 1...5...10...20...50...? Hands wave through the air like so many first graders vying for attention...recognition...legitimacy. Thank goodness I ran 9 miles that day - oh, did I add that it was a tempo run - or I would have wanted to quietly crawl under my seat.

Now we, the choir, are all set to hear all about the "ordinariness" of Scott Jurek. The "everyman" everyone and anyone can transform themselves into - to be something rather than nothing. It is a bit much for this choir girl - though even I want to believe.

I am not exactly "part" of the Boulder running scene and for those on the outside (though I'm not necessarily on the 'outside' either) it can seem pretty intimidating. I've heard many, many Boulder area runners comment about the overly competitive attitude of serious runners in Boulder - and while I don't think that's actually the case, I do see how some could see it that way. Running in Boulder is intense and the 'community' is dedicated, close knit - dare I say (and I may get some flak for this), even a bit (in appearance) clicky. The problem here is that it tends to scare people off. Some are afraid to run a race or join in a group run.

I wonder if we runners do this more than we realize and unintentionally (or intentionally) scare others away.

And so the question I kept coming back to is: Are the tales of the transformations of Scott Jurek and Dean Karnazes, and others, really motivating people to get their butts off the couch or are they seen as so different that "normal" people just dismiss them as amazing and insane freaks? Are we undermining one of our aims, to get others out there running, by claiming that these runners are just normal guys - like me and you - only they get up and do it?

I personally find them very motivating, but I'm already a runner. I understand that what they do is pretty amazing, but I don't see them as super human. I know some non-runners who do see them as just way off the charts, and I wonder what that says to them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After a short, very well done, video about Scott and his book Eat & Run there is a panel discussion, and a Q & A segment. The panel consists of: Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka, Buzz Burrell, and Michael Sandrock - all well ensconced in the U.S. and Boulder running scene. There is lots of talk about the ordinariness of all these runners (all men!) and the only difference between them and me is the drive, the commitment...The strength of mind to push through and on and on when every bit of their being wants to quit.

Many years ago, when I fashioned myself a 'serious' rock climber, a friend sat across a table from me at the Boulder Theater before the start of the Banff Film Festival and revealed to me the secret to success. She said she had decided to "make the commitment" to climbing. She decided to quit doing the jobs that took valuable time away from her deepest passionate pursuit. She decided to climb full-time. All I could think was some smart-ass, sarcastic comment like, "nice work if you can get it", but I decided to make nice, smile and nod. Clearly I was missing something. The assumed implication of course (and I wasn't just being super sensitive) was that I was unwilling to take the leap of faith, make the commitment, do what needed to be done. What a loser I am! The tone and tenor of her comment was clear: I just wasn't willing to do what it takes.

So as I hear Mike Sandrock claim that the difference between champions and the hoi polloi is commitment and dedication, I want to protest. Scott Jurek presents himself as just an ordinary guy (and I sense he actually believes this) who made the choice to "be something", to "do something".  But the fact remains that as inspiring as his story of transformation may be, he is an outlier - He is not "ordinary" whatever that means. He is extraordinary, and all of us can be too even if we don't run and win ultramarathons.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

Now perhaps I'm being a tad defensive or insulted, but I want to speak up for the hoi polloi for a moment - I don't think we necessarily lack dedication, motivation, commitment - and for many of us it takes considerable sacrifice to pursue our passion for running. I have pushed on when everything in me screamed to stop...when I was afraid to start. Whatever the challenge, that's what makes us both ordinary and extraordinary.

As a self described "serious" runner - as in, I take it seriously and it's important to me even though I'm not super talented or fast - trying to balance work, family, running, climbing and all the other things that give my life meaning and balance, I find it VERY challenging to make it to organized group runs. I cobble together my crazy running and life schedule and fit the bits and pieces together as best as I can. I don't want to give up my family (though I'd be more than happy to give up work!) for running.
 
I may seem aloof (I have been told this throughout my life), but that's unintentional. What's going on beneath the surface is a concerted effort to find balance. We all want to belong to some degree, we all want to achieve some measure of greatness, but many of us out there are very busy doing lots of stuff other than running (gasp) and that makes it difficult. Some of the other things we do we must do - to pay the bills, to care for those who need us - and some of the other things we do we do because they enrich our lives, as running does. Having such a truncated definition of "greatness" or understanding of what it means to "be something" and "do something" seems self defeating.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do I need to win Western States 7 times and break the course record at Badwater to "be something"? What about all of us who go to work, raise children, volunteer in our community and still run? What about those of us who wake at 4 a.m. to squeeze in some piddly miles before the rest of the house wakes? 

If I believe that I have to do what Scott Jurek does to "be something" then I might as well stay firmly planted on the couch. While I admire amazing feats of athletic prowess, I don't think I want to live in a world full of such single minded individuals. I understand that that level of obsession is usually necessary for so-called "greatness" but perhaps we're undermining other larger goals by focusing exclusively on this notion of greatness. So-called "ordinary" folks can achieve their own greatness, whatever that means to them - it may be running that first mile or 5k. But let's face it - Running is just running! Wait - did I just say that? I hope that others will realize that you don't have to run 100 miles to be something.

But then I am preaching to the choir here.
I know that I have found fulfillment. I have an object in life, a task ... a passion.
- George Sand

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Running To Cope

Yesterday I returned home from a visit with my mother and sister in New Jersey, and while I love them both dearly, it's always an intensely difficult time for me. When I'm there I run but I can never seem to escape into my usual state of running as meditation, as healing, sorting out, putting things to right.  When I am there I am in survival mode - just deal and breath quickly and push on.  Do what you have to do. Get it all done.  It exhausts the body and soul and spirit. I wish this were not so, but right now, this is how things are for me.

The high point of my visit was running a little 5k and meeting some new running friends!  


There I find my tribe, my place, my groove in this big, sometimes difficult, world...But then the real world reasserts itself - and I am thrust back into the thick of it...

I often feel relief at the very thought of getting home and back to my life. I live to run in Colorado again, to hold my husband and daughter and all the critters in the house. And on this particular day, I REALLY want to be home!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As we land at Denver International Airport and park at our gate I see that I have 15 minutes to make the next bus. If I miss that bus I will have to wait an hour for the next bus. That sounds like eternal damnation to me at this point in the proceedings. I've got to get home! Now! As I walk, impatiently, off the plane I see that I have 12 minutes. And the the mad run commences. 

Luckily I am wearing a Marathon Maniacs T-shirt paired with a slightly crazed look in my eyes, so people give me a fairly wide berth, perhaps fearing the possible maniac in me. I get to the escalator down to the train and see one pulling away. Damn. I have to wait. The next train arrives a few minutes later.

I have 6 minutes left. 

I'm in terminal C, which means we must stop at terminals B and A before we get to the main terminal. Ugh. Tedious, tedious train! I know exactly where to position myself on the train so that I can be first on the final escalator, so I won't get stuck behind someone just standing, casually, on the stupid thing.

I have 3 minutes left. 

The train doors slide open and I book it up the escalator, two steps at a time, a bag on each arm. I reach the top, I'm going to make it. I move to put one bag down so I can pop the handle up to roll it behind me as I run, but I neglect to actually stop running while I'm doing this. The bag spins around in front of me, tripping me, and sending me flying through the air and crashing to the concrete floor. There is a loud, collective gasp from onlookers. Security personnel rush to my aid. No time for this. I get up, pull out damnedible handle and race off. Everything hurts and I have no idea what hurts.

All I'm thinking, as I run the final stretch to the bus is, "F#*@! Am I going to be able to run tomorrow??!!"

I get to the bus. I made it. Every part of me is throbbing and I'm shaky and overheated. My knee is killing me. My scraped shin is visibly swelling as I watch, helpless to do anything. My previously chipped left elbow has already turned a deep purple. I'm feeling pathetic and doomed. All I want, right now, is to be home!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But when I get there I'm on edge, antsy, angst filled and yet I'm so grateful to be home.  I hold my daughter tight in my arms for a long time, her strong legs wrapped around my waist, and smell the skin on the back of her neck.  But part of me is pacing beneath my skin like a trapped wild animal.

I have everything wrapped in ice, but I'm certain I won't be able to run in the morning. Oh dear powers-that-be, I really need to run. I have a glass of wine. That doesn't help anything!


I realize that the only way for me to process things in my life is through running. A lot is going on, and I don't even have a clue how to sort it all out if I can't run.  Even the remote possibility that I may need to take a day or two off has left me in the deepest of funks mulling over all the messes in my life right now...I need to sort it all out - Stat!

...My mother's ongoing, ever-morphing, illness, the tensions between my mother and sister, and my job as mediator, my role as sole emotional anchor for my mom...The steady march of time...and decline...

And at home...

Our oldest critter, my dear nearly 16 year-old Aussie-Samoyed mix, Willa, who was my steady running partner for 12 years, is on a steep decline. She's lost most of the function in her rear legs, and the nerve condition she has will only continue to march on toward it's deadly end. I don't know how much longer she will be with us. I don't know how I will know when her time comes. I do know it's coming faster than I hoped.

And in a week my husband leaves for three weeks for an NEH seminar in Florence, Italy. Will Willa still be alive? Will I have to make the hard choices by myself? And finding time to run will become more difficult.

But it is often the anticipation of the difficulty that is more difficult to deal with than the actuality.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wake up the next morning and the knee is a little sore, but much better. The shin looks ugly, but it doesn't effect function. I head out for an exploratory trot - and all systems are go-ish. I feel that I've been beaten up, achy all over, but moving some blood through the achy-ness and some air through my lungs seems called for. More importantly my mind needs this time. I run more for my mind than for my body. I try to take care of my body so that I can continue taking care of my mind.

And all the worry and angst and antsy-ness begin to evaporate in the dry morning heat. And though the difficulties remain, I can deal again.

Later my husband, daughter and I head off to the Boulder Creek to play in the cold water on a hot day. For me that means sitting in the cold water for as long as I can to sooth my achy legs. And as I sit in the snow fed cold water, the sun warms my shoulders and arms, and I think: "This is it. This is what I need to do a whole lot more of."  Be here NOW. Anticipation may just be nothing more than much ado about nothing.

And there I find myself, grounded again, in the soreness and awareness of my body, and the peace of my mind.
“If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.” ~ Charles Dickens
Replace the "walk" with "run", and there you have it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

National Running Day: June 6th

 Why Do You Run?...Pass It On...
"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." ~Benjamin Disraeli

Last Monday, Memorial Day, I helped usher close to 50,000 runners across the finish of the Bolder Boulder, the second largest road race in the world - after Peachtree (and there's a goodhearted competition going on between the two). This race is a huge community event in Boulder - For elites, aspiring elites, competitive regional and local runners, first timers, kids, old-timers. people in tutus and superhero costumes, three-legged runner pairs (I saw at least a couple), parents with babies, parents running with their young children for their first race...You name it, you got it at the Bolder Boulder.

As I stood at the finish guiding 5 hours worth of runners across the finish, some in need of assistance, others looking for a high-five or a picture at the finish, I was struck by two thoughts: a) Lots of people puke - and if you've read some of my previous posts, you'll know that I have a fair amount of admiration for these runners and their ability to push themselves to that point; and b) I was struck by the feeling that these are MY people. This is my tribe. I got teary eyed watching moms hug their small daughters as they crossed the finish line hand in hand...as friends embraced...as lovers stopped to kiss.

That's me standing behind Ethiopia's Mamitu Daska  as she raises her hands in victory at the finish line of the Bolder Boulder's Elite Women 10K race on Monday, May 28. (Jeremy Papasso/ Camera)

When you've been running for as long as I've been running it's easy to lose sight of the joy those first achievements bring.

Now, if you've read some of my previous posts, you'll also know that I believe that getting everyone running (or as many people as possible) is the secret to world peace, eternal life and the good life. Okay, perhaps not eternal life, but I do believe that the world would be a better place if more of us got off our @#$es and started running.

So, next Wednesday, June 6th, is "National Running Day" (http://www.runningday.org/). This began as a grassroots effort on the part of the NYRR, and has gradually spread across the country. It's held every year on the first Wednesday of June. And, there are group runs held around the country.

So go find a run near you (see the link above) and bring a friend, or two, or three...bring your kids, your wife, husband, partner, mother, father, sister, brother, neighbor...someone...perhaps a "non-runner", and welcome them into the tribe. If there's not a run near you, make your own.

Ask people if they know that it's National Running Day. Spread the word and change the world...just a bit.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not." - The Lorax ~Dr. Seuss


Tunnel Hill 100: Living as if Living Matters

I wanted to title this "Running After Heart Failure".  I like the ambiguous way it can be read.  However, I can be superstitious,...