Thought for the Day

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Learning to Swim

As a runner, being around other runners for decades, I've heard and read lots of stories that start like, "I couldn't make it around the block..." or even "I couldn't run to the corner..." Then this person runs around the block, then a mile, gradually becomes a runner, perhaps even runs marathons or longer.
Well, that's me with swimming.
Last night I reached a milestone by swimming without stopping farther than I have in more than three decades. Now I only need to work up to swimming 160 times as far by November 22.
Later on at home, I reached down to pick up a can of juice, and water ran out of my nose. That hasn't happened since I was a teenager, and I used to body surf for hours.
A while back I bought a nose clip for swimming, but I haven't been wearing it. I don't see anyone else wearing one, and I feel dorky enough without it.
But maybe I need it. I do have freakishly large nostrils.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Anyone can run a marathon

That's right. I said anyone can run a marathon.
Well, I'm exaggerating just a little bit. At Pat's Run this past Sunday, I competed with several people with various fractions of the usual complement of limbs. I saw the same thing at the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon.
Sarah Reinertsen made the cover of Runners World with only one leg.
So almost anyone can run a marathon, or at least complete a marathon somehow.
The same is not true for Ironman. And I may not be saying this for the reasons you would think.
You see, there are thousands of marathons. There are big ones and little ones all over the world. No matter where you live, there is probably at least one within easy travel distance.
And there are reasonable entrance fees. Some marathons are more expensive than they seem to have any right to be, but some are down-right cheap, even free.
And the required equipment is negligible. Not even shoes are a necessity. Abebe Bikila won the Olympic Gold Medal barefoot in the 1960 Olympic Marathon.
Although training, and knowing how to train, will help a marathoner, all you need to know is how to run.
In contrast, there are few Ironman competitions, and they are expensive to enter. (I'm not saying you don't get your money's worth, just that it's a lot of money.)
They require a bicycle. The better the bike, the better a triathlete's chances of finishing. Mechanical considerations can make or break the race. An ability and willingness to spend money matters on the bike.
It goes without saying that knowing how to ride and swim, and hours of training in those disciplines, are required.
The Ironman, in addition to being very difficult physically, is financially exclusive.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that it's not worth the money. I'm not saying that it isn't a tremendous physical challenge.

One of the things I love about running is the simplicity and commonality of it. Running is universal.
Triathlon, and especially Ironman, while it has a lot of other things going for it, does not have that.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On doing it Oprah-style

A while back I said I had some mixed feelings about the fantastic treatment I got at Diabetes Training Camp.
You see, back in 1994 Oprah Winfrey ran a marathon. I hate to pick on her, because many other celebrities have completed things like marathons and Ironman triathlons much the same way, that is with personal trainers, personal nutritionists, basically everything that can be done to make it easier, given nearly unlimited financial resources.
To me, this always put a qualifier on Oprah's marathon. She ran it, *BUT* she had help, even to the point of having her personal trainer with her every step of the way on the course.
I never had that much help. Like most marathon runners, I did it myself.
And yet, here I am training for Ironman and taking all of the help I can get. Well, I have to be honest about this. If I could have had the help Oprah had, I might have taken it. And in the end, it was Oprah who ran her marathon. No one else can do it for you.
(Unless you're that Big Loser, Dane.)
I appreciate the help I'm getting. I don't think there's much chance of anyone who knows me thinking I wouldn't do this without the help. There have been many times that I drove for hours alone to the start on the morning of a marathon or ultra, ran the race, got in my car, and drove home.
As silly, and maybe arrogant, as it is, I still have some mixed feelings about not doing this on my own.
I suppose an important thing to realize is that almost no one is really going solo. I always have the support of my friends and my family.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Zone

Some running poetry. Something I wrote a couple of years ago.

The Zone
by Jerry "Geronimo" Nairn

It could be anywhere.
Any piece of pavement
running in the midst of normal people passing
oblivious in cars
Any remote trail
dirt collecting in the sweaty creases of my skin
Any night in a park
dodging through tree trunks, ducking branches, dimly remembering
things ancient ancestors did
I've never done.

I can only ever get there after several stubborn miles
miles going nowhere
until something brings me out
Maybe someone passes
or I glance at my watch
or I'm struck by a desire
to just finish this run

A step quicker
suddenly I'm there

The legs move without effort
My friend momentum follows
one footstep to the next
until footsteps blur
striding so easy there are no strides
only moving
only flowing
I am running but it's not running
which now moves me
my feet play on the ground
as the earth passes under me
breath flows in and out
on its own
it isn't running now that moves me
like swimming downstream
in a deep, fast river
and becoming water
it isn't running now that moves me
It's the world I set in motion
running miles ago
days ago
years ago
and all the rushing air, all the rolling earth,
all the flowing body
asks in return
to run like this forever
is to never stop

Photos by Steve Craft

Monday, April 6, 2009

No Tour for You!

Since I did the Tour de Cure Phoenix a few weeks back, and the 62 mile ride didn't seem too tough, and I've done some riding since, I thought I could do all right at El Tour de Phoenix on Saturday. It's a 72 or 74 mile ride (depending on which part of the web site you read), and it has some good climbs in it. I knew it would be a challenge, but I thought it would be good for me.
Man, i feel stoopid.
I went down to the expo to register, payed my money, got my chip, went to the orientation seminar. Five minutes into it, the race official says, "No aerobars," and keeps right on talking.
Duh. I raise my hand, "What's that mean, no aerobars? Is it all right if they're on the bike, but I don't use them?"
Apparently everybody but me already knew this. I got a very bad vibe from everyone there.
No aerobars in the tour!
I have only one bike I'd be willing to ride 70+ miles, and it has aerobars on it. So I got my money back and left. They weren't happy to return my registration fee. I mean the woman handling it didn't argue, but she didn't smile either. And she didn't waste any words on me. "Where's your receipt?" "Where's your chip?" "Here's your money."
I had no idea there were such rules.
Later, talking with more bike-savvy friends, I was told there is some conflict and even hostility between triathletes and bike riders. Triathlons usually don't allow drafting. "Tour" type rides usually don't allow aerobars.
Who knew?
In my defense, the Perimeter Bicycling web site that has the El Tour information on it is a labyrinth.
Anyway, I ended up not doing much of anything over the weekend, a 10 mile run and a swim class.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Diabetic Poetry

Over on Tu Diabetes they had a poetry contest/collaboration, the No Sugar Added Poetry Contest. Members of the Tu Diabetes community contributed poems. For four weeks, each week, two winners were chosen from the poems contributed that week. The winning poems are to be published in a book to support the Diabetes Hands Foundation.
I contributed a poem on the last week that was chosen as a runner-up.

I Couldn't Do That

I couldn't do that.

It's the silliest thing people say
to a diabetic.

We're not doing this for fun.

When you see the diabetic girl in the park,
poking and squeezing her finger for a drop of blood,
see also the threatening figure leaning on her,
holding a needle to her eye.
"Do it or I'll blind you!"

When you see the diabetic man in the restaurant,
jabbing the syringe through his pants into his leg,
see also the demon behind him
with an ice-pick against his kidney.
"Do it or I'll gut you!"

You could do it
with a gun to your head.

Then a few of us couldn't stop once they got us started, and we continued to add poetry to the page after the contest was over. Maybe my definition of poetry is loose. Anyway, I wrote two more of what I call poems:


I'm a fish out of water
inside my own skin,
wrestling with my rebellious metabolism.

I know some of you who are always
effortlessly perfect
in the blood sugar realm
want to think you understand,
but you can't
any more than I can understand you.

After the cure sometimes
will I wonder about my blood sugar,
and wish I had a meter?

Or will I feel perfect always?

Insulin Is Not a Cure

It's like Evel Knievel's helmet.
It might have saved his life, but it never kept him safe.

Insulin is not a cure.
It only creates an illusion of health.

I'd like to go without for a while.
No pricking my fingers, no infusion sets.
No "managing the disease."

Then everyone could see that I'm still sick.
But there'd be a penalty to pay.

False health is better than real death.

So I'll rise and fall, soar and crash.
And keep getting up.

But insulin is not a cure.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Back Fill Blogging

If you take a look at the bottom left side of my blog, you'll see that there are suddenly a lot more posts in the Blog Archive, dating all the way back to 2002. I've just added a bunch of race reports which were originally written for and posted in a Yahoo! group, The Roads Scholars Running Group.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can browse back through some of my running history.
If you decide to check out the Roads Scholars, you'll find a very friendly group founded by runner and writer, Michael Selman.
I have also added the saga of my Boston Marathon experience, in three posts.
Deciding to Run Boston and Qualifying
Training for Boston
Boston and the Boston Marathon
This story was originally on my blog at

As a postscript to the Boston story, I did finally break 3:30 at the St. George Marathon in October of 2007 with a finishing time of 3:29:47.
I'm now 50 years old, so I only need a 3:35 to qualify again. That's not easy for me, but I've done it in four previous marathons.