Imagine that for some reason the Bolder Boulder 10K — which I will be running for the first time on Memorial Day — fronted me 200 race bibs for this year’s event, and told me that they wanted $10,000 ($50 per bib) in return. Recognizing that the homeless and low-income population of Boulder is an untapped and eager market for this race — there’s a lot of free food and a free T-shirt involved, after all — I canvass the downtown area and offer to give race bibs away for $5 each, along with any EBT cards with a balance of between $25 and $50 (I might throw in a pint of vodka to sweeten the deal). I am able to very rapidly hawk all 2,000 numbers, giving me about $1,000 in cash and a pile of EBT cards. I have no idea if these have any value and I don’t check because I don’t care.
The reason I don’t care is simple: I’m on the hook for ten grand to the Bolder Boulder, but that is about to become someone else’s problem. Through a process of possibly illegal but complicated forgery, I manage to make the 200 EBT cards look like Whole Foods gift cards with a value of $250 each, and I offer these to people around Whole Foods stores and on Craigslist for $50 in cash, explaining that I have a gripe against the company and want no part of any of their nasty-tasting, overpriced garbage and homeopathic woo-woo. In the fine print of the agreement, which is written in Sanskrit, I have each “gift card” buyer sign for my personal tax records, it says that they also owe the Bolder Boulder 10K $50 in the form of a mandatory charitable donation to the Bolder Boulder 10K itself. It also says that the gift cards are only good in Whole Foods stores that open on or after January 1, 2020. No problem. Continue reading “A subprime extended analogy”
The No True Scotsman logical fallacy remains a dominant theme in professional track and field (and many other sports). It doesn’t matter who gets flagged for a positive doping test or how often such things happen; the typical track fan is somehow able to dismiss each case as an outlier. When the scandals start happening at increasingly shorter intervals, people can somehow pretend they never even heard about the previous one.
Ben Johnson in 1984? Oh, well, everyone already *knew* he was on ‘roids but he was an exception.
Carl Lewis? Well, he just got a warning for a low-grade stimulant, not a suspension.
Flo-Jo? No evidence.
Dieter Baumann? Well, his toothpaste story has a ring of truth to it.
Linford Christie? Old and trying to hang on. What a douche anyway.
Merlene Ottey? Gimme a break, she was like 45 when she retired.
Dennis Mitchell? LOL! Funny story about the booze and the women.
Marion Jones? Hey, at least she admitted it on Oprah, unlike others.
Mary Slaney? Eh, she was probably clean for a while when she was younger.
Regina Jacobs? No one liked her anyway.
Bernard Lagat? His “B” sample cleared him, moron.
Donovan Bailey? Didn’t he have some weird disease> Plus he’s Jamaican and everyone there but Usain Bolt is dirty.
Yohan Blake? Wasn’t he like 18 though?
Justin Gatlin? Hell, he served his time and at least has the balls to be out there now.
LaShawn Merritt? I *knew* you couldn’t trust ExtenZe!
Rita Jeptoo? Damn Italian agents must have corrupted her. Good thing we have so many Africans to root for.
The insane thing is that, whenever the topic of PEDs comes up, the apologists are often the first people to scream that a particular athlete who hasn’t been caught is as dirty as they come. They bellow that Paula Radcliffe’s vocal anti-drug stance reeks of doth-protest-too-much bullshit, and when someone points a finger at Salazar’s group, they insist that their neighbors, Schumacher’s stable, are much more likely to cheat. When the body count inevitably piles up, they shake their heads at the “rogues” who pissed all over their coaches’ and teammates’ trust.
But I get it. The sport at the top level remains a fundamentally clean one. I mean, this isn’t pro football, for fuck’s sake, or bodybuilding, or cycling, or weight lifting, or baseball, or Nordic skiing, or wrestling, or triathlon. Running and in particular distance running has little in common with these sports. In fact, most cross-country athletes make the honor roll and the dean’s list in college.
In an attempt to regain a certain “spring to my step” which seems to have dissipated with my battling of injuries over the last few years, I decided to get back to some bounding and jumping drills. As part of this little experiment I thought it might be nice to get some plyometric boxes. These can be rather expensive though, and being somewhat of a cheap bastard when it comes to things like this, I decided to build some. I am by no means an expert with tools but I have managed to build a few things over the years and I figured with the assistance of a friend who is an expert with tools involving wood, this shouldn’t take too long nor cost too much.
I decided to build three boxes of 4″, 8″, and 16″ height and 2’x2′ square. By stacking them I could get 4″ increments from 4″ to 28″. To keep them from separating I figured I could latch them together. 3/4″ plywood is plenty strong, especially when glued and screwed together, so that would be the body material. It turns out this takes a little more than one 4’x8′ sheet of plywood but I had an old treadmill deck sitting in the basement which would make up the shortfall (3/4″ MDF). So it was off to the lumber yard. The sheet was about $40 plus another $8 for a box of wood screws. From there we went to my buddy’s shop and spent a few hours cutting, drilling, and assembling the units.
Fortunately, I had some left over exterior grade poly, so the boxes got two coats. Now I needed something to prevent slippage. I ordered something called “gymnastic rubber” from an online place but it turned out to be very flimsy. Even at 1/4″ thickness it could easily be torn with just your fingers. I returned it and wound up with a couple of 2’x6′ yoga mats ($9 each, on sale due to discontinued colors-oh the horror). The “gymnastic rubber” weighed a mere 1.3 ounces per square foot. The yoga mats are over 1/4 pound per square foot and should hold up nicely. These were cut into 2’x2′ squares and glued onto the top and bottom surfaces of each box. I had some acoustical sealant laying around which is like caulk that never fully dries, it stays rubbery, so I used that.
Then the latches. It seems you can’t buy decent latches at the local home improvement store. The ones I finally grabbed are made by GateHouse and came with perhaps the cheapest screws I have ever seen. The phillips head slot will strip out with only modest torque. I replaced them with some beefier units I had (3/4″ #8 as I recall).
OK, so the whole thing was less than $100 (not counting supplies on hand) and in total took the better part of a day. The set weighs over 80 pounds. Here’s a pic:
We’ll see if they work.
So yesterday afternoon I decided to incorporate a visit to my parents’ house into my run. It was in the single digits, and they have an energetic 1 1/2-year-old Golden retriever named Izzy who needs exercise every day regardless of the weather, no aspects of which she finds daunting regardless of the opinions of her humans. My parents are always happy to let me run her around for a while and I’m always happy to oblige. I figured that I’d hang out there for a while afterward and get some work done using their reliable Wi-Fi connection, so I packed my laptop and cell phone into a backpack, dressed as best I could for the weather, and made the two-mile trek from my place to theirs.
Once there, I farted around for a few minutes to warm up, then took Izzy out for three miles or so. I spent the rest of the afternoon writing training schedules, putting the finishing touches on an article about the Olympic Marathon Trials that had taken place the day before, and harassing putative running fans on the Internet, and along the way prepared and consumed some pasta and broccoli, putting the leftovers in a tupperware container. I had the equivalent of a social engagement at 8:30 and then, calling Ohio from my parents’ place, took part in a radio show on WXUT at about 11 p.m. I then took Izzy out into the now-2-degree-Fahrenheit evening for one last excretory salvo before packing all of my stuff up again and heading back toward home.
It was about 12:30 a.m. I’d had a productive day as a freelancer on multiple fronts and the radio show had been fun, so I was on a high even if the mercury in local thermometers wasn’t.
Benign enough, right? Well, it was all a set-up for a brief and annoying comic interlude. Continue reading “You’re not in Boulder anymore”
(Yeah, I’m posting in Craigslist Rants & Raves mode.)
Hi. I’m the guy you saw a few times on and near the Cottonwood Trail at 7 a.m. who was wearing a bright blue Charlottesville Running Company windbreaker, black Sporthill-style pants, a Delaware XC hat and two-dollar gloves from Walgreens. (You surely couldn’t see all that, but I like describing this crude ensemble.) You were — and probably still are — about 5′ 10″ or 5′ 11′ and 160-ish pounds, and were wearing black bicycle-type tights and a Boulder Running Company top. You had — and most likely still have — a dark mustache/goatee combination and appeared to be about 30 or 40 years old. (I didn’t have my sunglasses on.) Here’s the deal. I was out to run for a little over 70 minutes so I could call it ten miles. That gave me the freedom to go by my watch rather than landmarks, which will explain the behavior I’ll review below. Continue reading “To the BRC guy I saw doing a road fartlek this morning (North Boulder)”
Nope. He’s pretty close to the top of the pile, actually. Check out 19th place in the small-school boys’ race at this past Saturday’s Manchester Cross-Country Invitational. (Okay, the spelling is a bit off, but were this a road race rather than a sanctioned high-school event, I’d be screaming fraud.) It was at this meet in 1985 — my sophomore year — that I first transformed myself, in my mind, into a decent runner. The event has exploded into an extravaganza attracting many top teams from New England and — obviously! — New York State.
Yesterday I ran the Utica Boilermaker 15k. Decent weather (for July in upstate NY) and 13,000 runners. Not my best effort but I did manage a mid 57 and an age group medal so I can’t complain. About that. What I can complain about is dumb, clueless people.
Right after mile 8, a fellow a bit in front of me decides to do a cartwheel on purpose. I find that a little odd, but he was over to the left side and we were making a right hand turn, and besides, it wasn’t extremely crowded. Runners all around yes, but not like the shoulder to shoulder traffic a couple miles behind us. Anyway, he received a lot of hoots and hollers for this from the spectators, including some banter from a DJ who was set up at that corner.
A few hundred yards later he is directly in front of me and to the side of two or three women who are clearly racing seriously. We come up to a band and Mr. Cartwheel begins dancing and gyrating madly all over the place, apparently looking for more crowd reaction. In the process he nearly took out at least one of these women. Fortunately, a little quick side stepping on their part got them out of harm’s way. It turns out that they were running in about 10th-12th place, the Boilermaker offering money 10 places deep plus 5 deep in the masters ranks. So they all were racing for a potential payout (at least one of them did get masters money, I don’t know about the others).
Needless to say, this could have been a disaster. He could’ve ruined the races of 2 or 3 potential money winners, and had they gone down, I most likely would’ve tripped over the lot. I don’t need that either. Anyway, we all got around Mr. Douchebag in short order. I mean, if you want to goof around in a race and play to the gallery, that’s fine, but do it where you’re not going to screw with someone who’s there to actually race.