Monthly Archives: September 2012

Runner’s World Review – Olympic Tragedy: Munich 1972

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

September 2012 – Olympic Tragedy: Munich 1972

Since the issues come out a month before their stamped date (does anyone know why magazines do that??), this one was dedicated to the Olympics. Chock full of fun, light fare (did you know Shalane and Ryan are Glee fans while Kara favors the Bachelor?? fascinating!) there was one article that set a decidedly different tone – the account of the fatal attacks on Israelis by Palestinians at the 1972 Munich Olympics. I’m sure you are all familiar with the broad stroke details – on September 5, 1972,  Palestinian terrorists jumped the fence to the Olympic athlete village and spent the next 21 hours in a hostage situation, the end result being the massacre of 11 Israelis and complete shock as the world watched the terrible events (including a failed ambush attempt) take place on the stage of what is normally a peaceful time for nations.

The article is written from the standpoint of Kenny Moore, the American who placed 4th that year. He writes it by juxtaposing his memories of the events of 1972 with his first trip back to Munich in 2009. It’s a fascinating and horrifying article that I highly recommend. Unless, of course, you are in the sort of mood that is feeling high on humanity (this’ll smash it to bits) or if you are feeling particularly emotional because maybe you just watched The Time Traveler’s Wife again and are already primed for a serious crying jag over senseless deaths. Ahem.

There are endless threads of the storyline we can follow here (and I encourage you to read it for yourselves and share your thoughts back in the comments section) including the further tragedy that struck the bronze medalist Wolde after the Games, the detailed race report of the marathon, the mismanagement of the ambush attack by the German government, how freaking unfair it is that 11 people lost their lives for no reason (is there ever one?) or the “man, how mind boggling frustrating?!?!” aspect of the Germans hosting the Games as a (very) small step to help repair the damage done to their nation’s reputation by the Holocaust only to have 11 Jewish people murdered in cold blood (or how this attention to appearances may have shaped the failed ambush and the continuation of the Games).

But what I really want to talk about today is the part after the gunfire and grenades and the body count and the arrests. I want to talk about the part just as the dust settles, as it makes its first faltering contact with the ground. The part where the IOC had to decide what to do next – should they cancel the Games, postpone them or carry-on as usual? We come up against this question on a fairly regular basis – in the face of tragedy, what is the right choice?

In our post 9/11 landscape, how many times have we all heard “we can’t let the terrorists win!” as a reason to go on? Or, in the case of a personal loss, “so-and-so would have wanted us to continue”? And heard of tales where people are able to channel their shock, anger and grief into palpable energy, performing at or above their potential?

Even with all that said though, it still sometimes distresses me that we have this mindset of immediately soldiering on.  Is it a reaction to being in shock? Of wanting things back to some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible? Is it ever ok to just climb into bed, pull the blankets over our heads and let the terrorists win, even if just temporarily?

In cases involving time sensitive events, like the Olympics, the decision becomes even more pressing. In 1972, they decided to not let the terrorists win (I wonder how the families of the slain felt about that win) and just postponed the Games for 24 hours. They had a memorial service and 5 days later the marathon gun went off, with the American men (as you know, the ladies weren’t running yet due to concerns of their uteruses falling out) posting 1st (giddy-up Frank Shorter, one of my favs), 4th  and 9th place finishes, the best the US had done since the 1908 Olympics.

Frank Shorter and Kenny Moore, shortly after the race.

In the end, I guess we all just fumble through these dark periods and do what feels like the “right thing”, whatever that is. The article ends with a quote from one of the American athletes, Tom Dooley, who said, “The Games should go on, who wins or loses now is ridiculously unimportant, considered against these men’s deaths. But we have to stay together.”

What are your thoughts? Carry-on or standstill?

Have you ever had to make a decision like this?

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What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

Dear Bosses,

I tried really, really hard not to be late for work today. I figured I’d bang out a quick 4-miler then get myself to work on time, no problemo.  The plan was going swimmingly until about 2 steps into the run when it was clear that all the monarchs that have been around for the past few days still had not migrated outta here (thank you south winds!). What’s that? You never heard of monarch migration? Well, that just will not do! Ok, here is the short story – in September and October of each year, Cape May is lousy with monarchs – literally dripping off the trees and filling the sky with their orange glow. They are coming from as far as Canada and are on their way to the oyamel fir forests of Mexico, where they will overwinter. What’s that?…yup, without any help! No airplane, no hitchhiking, just a very clever exploitation of weather fronts and north winds.  They have never been to the wintering grounds they are traveling to and so have no memory of how to get there. In fact,they are 4-5 generations removed from the relatives who went the year before.  Millions of monarchs from all over the continent wind up in the very same fir forests, every.single.year. How? Some amazing combination of celestial cues, the earth’s magnetic force and magic, I reckon.

There are certain days in Cape May when this magic, in the form of an unassuming flying insect, is in the air. Everywhere you go, there are monarchs – flying above, nectaring at eye level, resting below. So my good intentions of a quickie 4-miler flew out the window and instead I forced myself home after an hour, having zero interest in going back. Here, let me show you what it was like (and I recommend clicking on them for full effect):

Monarchs were enjoying sipping on gin and juice, er, nectar, at the state park this AM!

After roosting in clusters the night before (they are “cold-blooded” and can’t function well in temps below 55dF) many spent the morning basking in the warm light of day.

The color of the newly emerged adults is just out of this world! The most striking orange you can imagine.

Look close and see them all hanging off the branch!

Yup, you guessed it from my stellar photography skills – those black dots are all monarchs, swirling and delighting in the September day (or more likely, cursing the south wind. Then again, what’s so bad about another day in Cape May?)

And now that you know, I bet you will be late for work too 🙂

Want to learn more? Come to the Cape May Point State park every Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun at 2pm between now and October 14th for a free tagging  demo and to learn more about the research project down here!

Or click here:

Cape May Monitoring Project

Monarch Watch

Journey North

What did you see on your run today?

Have you ever witnessed the monarch migration?

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Taharhumara, Running Momma and Me!

Before you read this post, do yourself a huge favor and go read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. Go ahead, I’ll wait. *whistles to herself*

Back? Oh-my-god-so-good-you-want-it-to-go-on-forever-but-first-you-must-run-bc-that-is-all-you-want-to-do-when-reading-it, right?? Love this tome, hands down my favorite running book. You really should read it. If you already have, you know that one of the key story lines in the book is about the Tarahumara people of the northwestern state of Chihuahua state of Mexico. Theirs is a culture where long distance running is as natural as yelling “you are so cuuuute!!” when you spot a Chihuahua puppy.

I heard about an exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology on the Tarahumara wayyy back in April, but never got around to going. When I heard that this past Saturday there were also speakers on tap (Sterling Noren who is working on a doc featuring Micah True and the Tarahumara as well as Diane Molina who did the photos) I knew my procrastination had paid off! I tapped Running Momma to be my museum buddy, since I knew she would enjoy it as much as I would, and we planned a Mom-Daughter day (Lil Sis is busy on Saturdays becoming a mistress of Social Work, so just the two of us today). Here’s what we saw:

The museum was beautiful! I thought for sure it was a building that had been re-purposed but Mr. Wiki informed me that it has always been a museum. It was built between 1899-1929 – way to slide it in under the depression wire guys! It was also located right across the street from the stadium where the Penn Relays are held, so that was also super cool to check out.

The afternoon started off with presentations by Sterling and Diane. Sterling’s featured movie footage while Diane used photographs. Both were great, but I especially enjoyed Sterling’s narrative approach to his talk.

Running Momma with her Tarahumara counterpart! One thing I especially love about these people is their flair for color. The bright, swishy  fabrics they are partial to really underscore the fun aspect of running.

The Tarahumara have relay races, sometimes days long known as rarajipari, where they split into teams and keep a balling rolling by kicking it or hitting with a stick. Say what?? I could barely squeak out 50, nevermind keeping track of and kicking something while chugging along! The high school, gym-hating version of myself shudders at the thought.

We both really enjoyed daydreaming about running with these awesome folks… and of course, we spent a ton of time talking about our real running plans – since we were in Philly, the marathon was the obvious topic du jour. Running Momma is planning to tackle it next year, yeah baby!

After all that talk about running, it was imperative that Running Momma properly refuel – with fancy chocolate, natch! I especially like the ones that were designed to look like the Queen’s crown. Adorbs!

Our last stop of the day was the Philadelphia Runner store in University City. Good thing I don’t live closer to this place or I’d be broke. But, boy, my wardrobe would put Lululemon models to shame and I’d be in no danger of ever bonking. A bag full of GUs , Chomps and Nuun = happy Kashi.

Absolutely awesome day with my ma. It has been so rewarding to watch her morph from our biggest cheerleader on the sidelines to getting in on the action herself! I can’t wait for the many days I have ahead (and treasure all the ones gone by) of running talks, racing and cheering each other on with this amazing, adorable, fantastic woman that I am lucky enough to call my Running Momma.

What was the last museum you went to?

When was the last time you were in Philly?

Isn’t Running Momma the cutest?

PS The exhibit runs until September 30th, so get your booty over there stat if you want to check it out! It’s relatively small, but the rest of the museum is also great, so totally worth a trip.
!

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Anxiety Comes A Knockin’

Source: Asics postcard

Something I have struggled with during my training cycles (minus the ultra) has been the anxiety I feel before a tempo or speed workout. My inner monologue goes a little something like this:

A few hours before – “Ugh, intervals. You know you are never going to hit your goal pace, right? And if you do, it will be  SO PAINFUL. It’s gonna get ugly.” *shakes head and murmurs* “mmm-mmm”

An hour before – “Seriously, why do I do this to myself?? Why don’t I just go out and run and not worry about the time? Enjoy the fresh air and the trees and feel one with the earth and all that crap! Who cares if I run my best marathon? Isn’t it more about just getting out there and finishing? And who invited the butterflies? This is so dumb! Get a grip!”

A few minutes before, as I am tying my laces – “This is the worst plan ever. Let’s just sit on the couch. Why am I so nervous?? No one cares how this goes! There is not one single soul that gives a shit!”

A few minutes in – “Ok, this is not so bad. Look, you are already halfway through your warm-up. No matter what happens, it will be over soon. Just give it what you got and we won’t be disappointed”

A few intervals in – “Wow, these are better than I thought they would be! Why was I worried, this is fuuuuuunnn!” *smiling and air drumming along to songs*

Final interval – “Last one!!!!Crank it lady, leave it all out here!” *turns up iPod, sings along in head “YOU GOT MY LOVE TO LEAN ON DARLING, THAT’S WHAT’S UP!”

A few minutes after, ecstatically checking off the day’s workout on the fridge calendar – “Man, I love this! I feel amazing, I will totally kick ass! Where are the bad guys, I am like freakin’ Wonder Woman over here! Nothing’s gonna stop this machine!!Yahhhhooooo!!!”

I repeat this roughly two times a week for the.whole.training.cycle. It never gets easier, it’s as if the knowledge that once I get out there I will be totally fine has to be relearned every time. I never feel less nervous -if anything, it gets worse over the course of the cycle because the workouts get more challenging and I worry even more about hitting my splits. I am like some sort of amnesiac runner. The only progress I have made on this front is that I actually still go for the run. It was feelings exactly like these that prevented me from running my senior year in high school. My older, wiser self now knows that if I ignore them and press on I will be rewarded with the double bliss whammy of a runner’s high and the relief that it is over. But I would still like to avoid the whole drama beforehand, it’s exhausting!

So asking for some help here –

Do you experience running anxiety?

How do you banish the demons?

Full Moon Run on the OC Boards next Saturday, September 29th!! Meet at 730p at 18th Street!

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What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

A late night at work tonight meant a morning run for me today. Yesterday’s crazy wind and stormy skies were still working their way out of Cape May when I ran, offering a cool breezy run that seemed to be yelling,  “Fall is coming, ain’t no way to stop this train! Chugga, chugga, woo-hoo-hoo!” ‘Twas a lovely run and here is what I saw:

New kicks! Sticking with the Brooks Glycerin. Loving the color of the 10s and the stretchy shoelaces are super fun. Fluffy ride on Day 1!

Hey buddy, cover up, your anthocyanins are showing! How scandalous.

Pumpkins on the brain! GD made these awesome pumpkin black bean enchiladas last night and I was looking longingly at this patch, wishing we could eat them again tonight! Yum!!!

Ohhhh, Lucy! The grapes are almost ready for you to stomp!

A mini-grove of persimmon trees by Lake Lily. Persimmon’s scientific name is Diospyros virginiana and now you have a way to impress your friends today!

Persimmon bark is super distinctive and easy to spot when you are out and about. The wood is hard and somewhat difficult to work with. This species can be used to make billiard cues, drumsticks, wooden flutes and longbows. Sidebar: I would like to meet someone that could utilize all those items, I bet that person would be a character!

Our native persimmon fruit is smaller than the cultivated Asian one you might see at a supermarket – but holy cow, just as delicious! You have to wait until it is ripe to eat, otherwise your mouth is in for a world of hurt, blech! It has crazy astringent properties when unripe… but when it is ready? Oh, man, watch out! The flavor is like nothing else I have tasted and has a tropical bent. This particular fruit was not long for this world and I enjoyed it immensely as I trotted around the lake!

What did you see on your run today?

Do you welcome fall with open arms or love it conditionally, knowing winter is just behind (notice that the only two options are loving fall – because let’s be honest, there can’t be anyone who lives in the northeast who does not dig this weather!)?

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Running Rituals

Garmy’s and visors and ponytails, oh my!

Runners come in all different stripes – some are fiercely competitive, some are “soul runners” (a la Kat), some do it for fitness, some for the social aspect, some for the time with themselves. But one thing almost all runners have in common are our running rituals. We have a tendency to get pretty specific in what we have figured out works for us and that hard-earned knowledge is not bandied about lightly. Over time, these actions become our own running rituals and many of us are anal enough that we get out of sorts if our habits are messed with.  Like most things, there is a spectrum on which we fall, with some of us taking our rituals, ahem, more seriously that others. Sure, some people (read: Lil Sis) would say we have jumped straight from the ritual spectrum to the OCD one, but I say “mere semantics!”, lol.  As a platinum member of the ritual set, I am always fascinated with other runner’s (and really, any athlete’s) collection of behaviors that make them feel at ease. So today I will share some of mine and then open up the discussion to hear about yours!

1. Food – I always eat bowl of pasta with red sauce, broccoli and a protein (chx, soy or turkey) the night before a race, a cinnamon-raisin bagel with honey the morning of a long race (10 miles or longer) and a giant bowl of cereal after a long run. I never eat a GU all at once (and in a race, I will only eat GU brand. Other gels are fine for training, but for races, it has to be GU).  Before a long training run I will always eat, in addition to a piece of toast or english muffin, exactly 3 teeny bowls of dry cereal, no more, no less.

2. Clothing – I always double knot my laces. If I am running and have to carry my car key, I always tie it to my left shoe, never my right. I always fold down the waistband of my running shorts. I always lay my outfit out the night before a race. And if you see a runner wearing a visor in December, that would be me. Unless I need a knit hat, it is visor central in these parts – never a bare head (this only happens if I forget it, never by choice), never a ball cap.

3. Gear – Though I have tried, I have never enjoyed running with hydration packs, handhelds, etc. , so I always stash bottles on my course the night before.  I hate running without Garmy and hardly ever do it, even for runs I don’t care about distance or pace and he only lives on my right wrist. I always tie my hairband three time for my ponytail.

4. Odds and Ends – I always take a shower before a big race, even though this is arguably the most pointless time to cleanse body parts that will be sweating profusely in a matter of an hour or so. I always have some sort of good luck charm with me on a big day and it changes by race (for my first marathon I pinned a monarch picture to my shorts since I had seen so many while training). I have to be half dead before I will skip a run, I just hate that feeling, even when it is the smart decision (my track record – I’ve run with pneumonia, mono and appendicitis before each was diagnosed – feeling horrible was not enough to stop me. Yup, dumb). I will never run less than I set out to do – even it is just .1 mile under, I cannot do less than I said I would. Lil Sis, Scott, Carrie, Melissa T. and countless others have run an extra loop, an extra block, an extra anything just to satisfy this need.

I am fully aware that I am little wacky, but I honestly don’t care. I embrace the quirks that make me the runner I am and know from talking to others I am not alone. Many of these things sound silly when reading, but lots of them have come from experience (I tie my hair 3x because 2x is too loose, 4x gives me a headache). So while it may sound like a laundry list of kookiness, to me it is actually the result of 20+ miles of running experience and what works for me. At least, that is what the voices in my head tell me.

So ‘fess up and make me feel less crazy – what are your running rituals?

PS I know technically a lot of these things don’t fit the traditional definition of “ritual” and that you might be reading the list with the same reaction that I listened to the Alanis Morissette song “Ironic” in that you are yelling at your computer “but those aren’t rituals!” much as I used to yell at the radio “but all those spoons are not ironic!”. But just go with me on this one – isn’t the image that a “ritual” conjures up much more compelling than, say,  “things I have to do when I run or I get grouchy”? Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

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Full Moon Run on the OC Boards!

As I have noted before, Lil Sis is working through her “12 Running Goals for 2012” where on the first day of each month she pulls a goal out of a hat and has to accomplish what is on that piece of paper by the last day of the month.  This has led to some great adventures for her, some of which I have joined, like our trip to Rhode Island.  September came along and she fished out this goal:

I drew this picture, so I should remember what the heck I was trying to portray in the water – is it the sunrise? an open water swimmer with crazy hair who eschews swim caps? Who knows? In my last post, I did refer to my lack of artistic skills… that wasn’t false modesty, folks!

Lil Sis will be weaving her way through the state, hitting as many boards as she can, and I will be tagging along on as many as I can.  If you live near one, let us know ’cause we’d love to meet up with you – to run with or just catch up! We already have one planned with the wonderful Jenn, can’t wait to see her!

Anywho,  a thought occurred to me – CIR is planning a full-moon run on Saturday,  September 29 and what could be a more beautiful place to run under the glow of a full moon than a boardwalk in early fall (yes, I have finally come to terms with the fact that summer is indeed ending in, gulp, 1 week)? The open sky, the way the moonlight dances on the water, the lack of cars to dodge – you can’t beat it! Ocean City is Lil Sis’ stomping ground and home to the best boardwalk in the state (totally unbiased opinion, has nothing to do with the fact I lived there for 10 years), so it’s a great fit for this run.

The next morning is the Ocean City Half-Marathon, at which Lil Sis and I will be volunteering at (love me some spectating!) so if anyone is looking for a gentle shake-out run the night before, this run is for you! But if you just want to help Lil Sis meet her goal, chat it up with friends, hold on to the feeling of summer a little while longer (nothing says summer like a run on the boards!), howl like a werewolf, or want to say you have run under the brilliance of a full moon, this run is also for you!

Meet us in Ocean City at the boardwalk at 18th Street at 7:30pm on September 29th . We will run no more than 3 miles (and possibly less, depending on who comes and if they have a race they should be resting up for!). Bikes are welcome. Moon pies served after and maybe we’ll grab some more grub or a drink later. Hope to see you there!!

Happy Friday, everyone, and most especially to my cousin Alec and his almost-and-officially-will-be-the-case-in-5-hours wife Mackenzie on their wedding day! Can’t wait to celebrate with you both!

Good luck to everyone doing RnR and other races this weekend!!! I will be thinking speedy, strong thoughts for you all!!

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