Posts

Showing posts from July, 2012

Six Quick Takes as We Head Towards Olympic Track

Image
1. Looking for someone to follow on Twitter? That person is Tim Layden @SITimLayden. He is churning out great, nuanced stuff on track and field as it happens. His interview with the head timer of the  Felix/Tarmoh heat became part of the story, as after Tarmoh read it, her attitude towards the run off changed.

2. After watching a few days of Olympic swimming, I am always impressed with both the similarities and differences between swimming and running.

First, in swimming, time is always important. Final fields are determined strictly on time, and it's possible to win a preliminary heat but not advance to the final. This means that swimmers must swim close to a full effort in every heat. If runners were required to do this, they would be destroyed by the heats, as it would be impossible to recover from a series of close to 100% efforts.Relatedly, another difference between swimming and track is the literally unbelievable (at least from a running perspective) ability of these athlet…

Running as Work and Play

Image
Common sense tends to oppose work and play. We associate play with something like entertainment--momentary immersion that may be satisfying temporarily but doesn't lead with necessity in any direction. We consider play valuable in itself, but a waste of time in terms of other life functions. We associate work with something like drudgery--boring or painful labor in pursuit of a distant but necessary end ($). We consider work to be a hardship in itself, but valuable in terms of other life functions.

This way of considering play and work leaves little space for dignified human activity. It divides life into moments of distracted entertainment that lead nowhere and periods of unsatisfying labor carried on under the compulsion of ends that are external to the activity itself.

In Democracy and Education, John Dewey rethinks the relation between play and work. He asserts that both play and work seek results; both are oriented towards ends. The primary difference between the two forms o…

Race Report: Crazy 8s

Image
Kingsport, Tennessee is probably the last place that you would believe the world's fastest 8k is run. This is NASCAR and football country. Distance running, as a spectator sport, is practically dead in the U.S. It's written off as boring. Dominated by nameless Africans. We are told again and again that it lacks the violence and commercial breaks necessary to be interesting for the American fan. But race director Hank Brown has somehow figured out a way to bring out the whole town of Kingsport to watch these nameless Africans fly around the streets of this small northeast Tennessee town.

Crazy 8s is a night race, with a start time of 9:58pm, so it's either stay the night after the race in Kingsport or drive back in the early hours of the morning. Though I am nowhere near the level of the truly elite runners in this race, the race was kind enough to give me a hotel room and free entry for the race.The accommodations were far from luxurious, and the hotel was mostly empty ex…

Décadent et Dépravé: Living Large at the Tour

Image
[Editor's note.] There has been some confusion about the reality of Dr. RVT after his last piece. I'm getting sick of the strung out groupies knocking on my door at 2am. So, let me make this clear. I can't say more, but I can assure you that RVT is fully real, and that I'm not him. 


I was able to convince him to take some time out from his roaming in France to respond to the Letsrun message board junkies and give us his scoop on the tour. The fax came in this morning.

* * *
Boyo, was I in for a kick-in-the-nuts surprise when I emerged from my night out in Metz with Bob and Phil only to find the Letsrun message board playing host to the selection committee for the National Book Award and the Booker Prize.  I had a bad enough headache from the absinthe that Phil foisted upon me, claiming it was a real "panty-dropper" for the ladies traipsing after him on the Tour de Farce.  At his age, he better be glad Le Dopage Controlle doesn't come after his Viagra suppl…

Fear and Loathing at the Olympic Trials

Image
This piece is based on some true events. However, it has been fictionalized. The “facts” in this piece have no bearing on any fact, living or dead. Read and draw conclusions at your own risk. Some assembly required. Batteries not included.
[Editor’s note:] I woke this morning and found a thick manila envelope jammed under my front door. Across it was scrawled: 
“Still alive. Here’s the report as you ordered. Pay me in Vegas.”  --Dr. RVT. 
I thought there must have been some confusion, but I opened the envelope to find some ragged and coffee-stained papers. I knew they had found their way to me for a reason. This is what they said.
* * *
I was ten kilometers from Eugene when the lactic acid began to take hold.  I was used to the stuff inside my body during track sessions, but this was something wholly other.  A nefarious doctor from the suspect and secretive Oregon Project had procured some tabs of an extraneous lactate drug, ostensibly used by athletes to help their muscles tolerate the …