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Showing posts from October, 2012

Mile Repeats as Religious Experience

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"There is a state of mind, known to religious men, but to no others, in which the will to assert ourselves and hold our own has been displaced by a willingness to close our mouths and be as nothing in the floods and waterspouts of God. In this state of mind, what we most dreaded has become the habitation of our safety, and the hour of our moral death has turned into our spiritual birthday. The time for tension in the soul is over, and that of happy relaxation, of calm deep breathing, of an eternal present, with no discordant future to be anxious about, has arrived. Fear is not held in abeyance as it is by mere morality, it is positively expunged and washed away."

-- William James, "Circumscription of the [Religious] Topic"

Last Wednesday, around 6:15pm at Rose Park track, as the long shadows of the afternoon had just faded into the half-light of evening, I had a religious experience.

Or at least I think I did.

The Rose Park track is a brand new state of the art red…

Blood in the Heartland: The Adidas Invite

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[Editor's note:]  I had just put on my flats for that most glorious of runner's runs, the October morning tempo. The brilliant fall leaves out my window brought to mind the flashing of spikes and the copper taste of hard effort that we runners associate with the season. I opened the door and was slammed by the stench of stale whisky. There was a bottle laying there with a note stuffed inside. In the bushes were scattered loose papers. Apparently the good doctor RVT had dropped by during his daily stupor and left me a gift.

I picked up the bottle, shook out the note, and deciphered the scrawl:

"If Weldon and Robert are too shaken by our Fear fiasco where we had to tell Various lawyers to climb back in their ambulances and read up on Defamation law, we can always shop this piece down our Purple Cow pipeline to fellow Eph Tim Layden at Sports Illustrated.  I'm sure they have a battery of lawyers bigger than Penn State's attorneys in the Paterno pool."

It took me a…

Race Report: 2007 Flying Monkey Marathon

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In anticipation of the best (and toughest) marathon around, the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon, which takes place in about five weeks, I thought I would publish an old race report that never made it up on the blog. If you don't know about this marathon, you have to visit the website and check it out. The marathon takes place in my favorite place to train in Nashville -- Percy Warner Park. It is sublimely hilly, nicely shaded, and a kind of shelter from the two things we deal with as runners in the city -- heat and traffic. 
These things are great, but what makes the race truly special is the community of runners that attend the race, the great potluck, the local beer. Race director Trent Rosenbloom pours a ton of energy into doing it the right way. It's a celebration of what we love about running -- namely, working hard then eating and drinking with friends afterwards. This report was not from my best race or fastest race -- just from an ordinary plain old race. Hope you …

Racing Season, Election Season, and the Role of Intuition in Making Some Sense Out of It All

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"In the great boardinghouse of nature, the cakes and the butter and the syrup seldom come out so even and leave the plates so clean. Indeed, we should view them with scientific suspicion if they do." --William James, "The Will to Believe"

One of the reasons I so admire James' view on things is that I think he's got his epistemology right. He understands that as knowers, thinkers, and understanders of reality we are vastly limited. Experience is pretty much chock full of uncertainty, vagueness, chance, and openness. Things hardly ever come out even or add up exactly. The truest confirmation of this fact is the feeling of pleasure that we get when our preconceptions about what's about to happen are actually fulfilled. If we were good predictors of the future and had a clear and firm grasp on reality, that satisfaction would be unwarranted.

The attitude of science -- by which I mean no more and no less than the attitude of intelligent inquiry -- is therefo…