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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

They should call it a Pee-a-thon!

This weekend I participated in a relay in the Big Sur Marathon. It was something I had drunkenly agreed to back in November because "running along the coast will be nice!" Unfortunately I didn't realize at the time that it would mean me being active! I trained off and on (more off than on) over the last three months and my legs were kind of familiar with the motions involved in running but as the week drew to a close I was becoming more and more apprehensive about actually running 5.8 miles. I'm sure for those of you who run regulary, that seems like merely an appetizer before the big meal, but I'm not sure that I've ever moved that far walking or running, at one time before, so for me it was a big deal!

Let me take you through my day:
It all began at 4 am when I woke up, to get on a big yellow school bus with my cup of free (which usually means bad, and this time did) coffee, to ride for an hour or so to get to my relay start point. As the busses reached the relay start point at around 6:15 there was immediately a line for the Port-o-potties. Now, usually I stay away from those for anything but what I can do while standing. I'm not sure if it was the coffee, I'm not sure if it was my body knowing that it was about to run a lot and wanting to drop as much unneeded weight as possible, but I dropped a "D" that would've made the Hulk proud. Sorry for bringing that up, but I've been dying to tell someone about my olympic size poo for days now!

So on to the actual running! Seven o'clock hits and the race begins with a bang... I'm sure... I don't actually know, I was four miles away from the start! But about 20 minutes later a little Kenyan fellow comes running by, surrounded by cars, helicopters, and a small schnauzer... ok, ok no dog, but it would've been a lot cooler if there was! He was the lead runner and was greeted with much applause and cheering! Two minutes later the next runner comes running by averaging his measly 6 minute mile (some people) and was met with boos and jeers.. no we clapped for him too. I was expecting, my teammate before me to take about an hour for her 4 miles, but she goes and shows up after only 40 minutes. So I rush to remove my sweats, take the baton/armband and before I know it I have begun what I expected to be a grueling hour and a half journey!

The great part was that it was beautiful. It was right along the coast on Highway 1 between Big Sur and Carmel and it was incredible. It was still early morning, so it was nice and cool, and there was slight mist on everything. I'll be honest after the first mile (which I did in about 10 minutes) I expected to die... and soon! But by mile 3 I was "feeling it" as they say. My legs had stretched out, my muscle pain was a dull roar, and my pace was leveling out! Not that I didn't have my stops, and my walking periods, but I feel pretty good about how I did.

I finished running after only an hour or so (which I feel was pretty good for a non training smoker) and even did the last .8 miles in a mild sprint! Of course, in comparison, the little Kenyan fellow mentioned earlier finished all 26.2 miles in 2.5 hours.

I think what I enjoyed the most was the camaraderie of the fellow runners. It was about a thousand (maybe less, maybe more, i don't know) people all in one place all excited about exercising! Everyone was really nice and friendly both while running and afterwards. I enjoyed being in a large crowd, listening to snippets of conversations as other runners passed me by. I of course enjoyed the views and the coastline, which made it all worthwhile. After my leg was finished, I walked back up a hill to get a good view of the coast and a fellow runner (not a relayer like me, but a full on marathoner) offered to stop and take my picture for me.

I did have one issue with the race, and that was all the rampant peeing! That's right, I'm talking about public urination. I've never seen so many people just peeing so "willy-nilly" (its a technical term) in front of others. Sorry for reducing this blog to potty talk, but it was big issue I feel needs to be addressed. Every so often, along the way, I would notice some guy stop off, walk over to the woods and take a pee. Some didn't even bother to look for a bush. AND THIS WAS ONLY AN HOUR INTO THE RACE! And it wasn't only the men, no no, you ladies were stopping to "pop a squat" (its an industry term) too. They had port-o-potties every five miles or so, I'm not sure why the majority of these people couldn't just hold it. I was talking with my fellow runners about this after the race, and the first legger stated that there were people stopping no more than a 100 yards after the start to pee. Granted, some of these people may have had Uromysitices, but not that many. The winner of all time loser goes to the guy who stopped no more than 50 yards from a group of P-O-P's to take care of business. I mean, come on, guy, its right there, you can see it! I would imagine that I saw no less than 50 people peeing in the hour that I ran! When they told us in the informational meeting beforehand that they would prefer we not pee in the woods, I thought they were joking! Apparently this is always an issue for races. I'm almost positive that some of those runners don't even like running, they are just looking for an excuse to pee in public, they get off on it or something... ...and I thought clown porn was bad!

I did enjoy running though, something about the sense of accomplishment when I was done, that felt really good! I'm not sure if this will become a habit, but I definately need to get out an excercise more... right after this cigarette!

"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired...You've always got to make the mind take over and keep going."
- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General and 1912 Olympian (any excuse I get, I'll quote Patton)

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Passion of the Achilles

So I just finished watching Troy and something about it gave the urge to write. No this isn't going to be a movie review about a two hour and something epic based on a 4000 and something year old story. I'm not even going to rant about that the scientific inaccuracies of it (like the fact that a bronze sword would be much more pliable than represented). Actually what I noticed was what was missing.

I remember growing up watching the Lou Ferrigno, Hercules movies, and the thing I remember most was always the gods themselves (alternate title for this blog). Zeus, Hera, Hermes, Ares and the like all sitting around on their mountain on high casting down judgement on us mere mortals! I think what was missing most was the religious fervor. The fact that Achilles was always represented as a God-dipped hero invicible to all things except on his heel. Why was that left out? Granted, there aren't many followers of Greek gods anymore (except for that weird guy in college). But why were the beliefs of the ancients so blatantly left out? Of course mention was made of all the gods, but the story I've always read has been one of mortals being merely pawns of some simple misunderstanding between Apollo, Aphrodite and Zeus (its always Zeus and his infidelitly causing the problems, isn't it).

I would have like to seen Achilles as a man truly believing he was invincible because of god given powers. A story of religious freaks both believing they are in the right, fighting for whose God is more just. Is it because a movie about different religous beliefs of a different religion wouldn't have flown in this Religious Right era that we live in? How would The Passion of the Christ been recieved if Jesus was portrayed as a man who just had a lot of good things to say, and not about the son of God? Wouldn't a story about two of religous fanatics waging war against each other due to a simple disagreement between beliefs have been for more apropos for the current political climate? How would the story of Hercules be if he had not been the illegimate bastard of a wayward deity? Or the Odessey without a cameo by Poseidon, and Sirens that were only whores. Or the crusades represented as just a economic conflict?

I guess its too bad that Aenaes (my friend in college) is the last believer of Greek mythology, or otherwise the story might have been more true to its origins. I can only imagine a movie 3000 years from now portraying Moses as man who just got lucky; the Nile was turned red by a freak happenstance of red algae, and he just happened upon the Red Sea as a giant storm (or possibly tidal wave) caused the Red Sea to flow out right as he needed to lead his people across, and flowed back in time to kill the Egyptians.

"But then they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!' " -Jack Kerouac, On the Road

"Burn Troy, Burn!" -Agamemnon, Troy, the movie

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