Running Group Thaws Out

Last Thursday was the first day this year warm enough to wear a short sleeve shirt to the Flying Irish run. The largest social running group in the United States, with thousands of members, several hundred show up every Thursday at 6:00 for a 3-4 mile run.Flying Irish post-run

It was so nice hanging out on the patio next to the Spokane River. The photo above shows members enjoying a beer and socializing. But it wasn’t always like this. When the Flying Irish first formed, it was decided the post-run activity should be a philanthropic one that helped others and the community. This led to some late nights, demanding workloads, and stress. Below is a history of the Flying Irish’s activities:

  • Mar. 2006 to Aug. 2008 – Members repaired, washed, and ironed donated running shirts, running pants and other clothing for third world countries.
  • Sept. 2008 to Sept. 2010- Sick and tired of working on laundry so many hours a week, the Flying Irish focused on performing at sporting events by marching in formation, twirling flags, and doing synchronized leaps and spins.
  • Sept. 2010 to Oct. 2010- Long nights of practices wore everyone out. A less demanding enterprise that provided two services was started. However, the homework help center for elementary students and an infectious disease quarantine unit, housed in the same room was a short-lived fiasco.
  • Oct. 2010 – Fed up members said, “Let’s just do something fun.” The change to post-run beer drinking and socializing led to increased enjoyment.

As I’ve mentioned, I discovered the woman I’m so enthralled by, Her Wonderfulness, Petra, has a boyfriend. I’m glad my female friend at the National Institute of Running Sciences, I.P. Aard, is flying in for a visit. I’ve been hoping she’ll help me out of my funk.

At the Manito Runners Club on Saturday, Petra showed up for the third week in a row. I talked very little to her, but as usual, she was extremely popular with the other guys.

After the post-run coffee, I went to the counter to return my cup and glanced back just as Petra exited. She looked back and in the meeting of our eyes, there was instant mutual happiness and interest. I’ve never had such an emotional impact with an exchange of glances. Something is going on between us.

On my drive home, I was amazed at the sudden turn in my mood. I was so happy.

Long Hair and Beard Slows Runner

SONY DSCI belong to a large running club, and one day a fellow member, Britt Davis, pictured at right, told me he likes his long locks and facial hair, but is worried they might be a detriment to his times. With my connections at the National Institute of Running Sciences, he wanted me to inquire on his behalf to determine if this is true.

I told Britt that first of all, he needs to give up the hippie lifestyle. Smoking dope day and night while already sky high on multiple hallucinogens won’t produce fast times. He can’t even stay on course during our group runs, and whenever he catches sight of the nearby Spokane River, he jumps in to search for his mermaid soulmate.

“Jim, listen,” Britt said. “I don’t do drugs, and you’re making up the jumping into the river thing.”

Britt’s right. I’m prone to making things up to create drama. In this case, I need to stick to the facts. I called my friend, Dr. N. Terrville Wurkoutz at the Institute.

The Noggin Smoother

The Noggin Smoother

Dr. Wurkoutz says that any drag on speed is very minimal. But if you’re competing at a very high level, even minimal drag can be the difference between getting a gleaming five-foot tall trophy or a paltry runners-up ribbon the size of a Band-aid. He suggested the Noggin Smoother. It’s a new product made of a shrink wrap plastic/lycra blend that covers the head and plasters all your hair to the skin, creating a superb aerodynamic effect.

When I informed Britt, he became very motivated to improve his running. He said to me, “Far out, man. This is so groovy. The Noggin Smoother is so trippin’, dude. I’m buying one, and if it doesn’t help, I’ll be bummmmed out.”

With that, Britt picked a flower, put it into his hair and strutted away.

Run Solo, Not With a Group

The best route to improving your running and making it more enjoyable is to run alone, says an article I recently read. I question this strategy, so I called my good friend, I.P. Aard, at the National Institute of Running Sciences. I always enjoy calling I.P. because she’s so friendly.

“Hey, sugar loaf,” she said. “Putting lots of miles on that six-foot tower of muscle?”

I’m six feet tall, but I’m more a tower of bone and skin than muscle. I told her about the article and asked about any research the Institute has done on the topic.

“We’ve done plenty, oh caped wonder.” She told me running alone has theraputic benefits like the need for time alone, especially if it’s spent outdoors. In addition, there are convenience factors – running at your own pace, own route, and according to the whims of your schedule.

“I agree, sweet pea,” I replied. “But I ran track and cross-country, and I liked running with my teammates.”

“It’s a different story if you’re a competitive runner. Workouts with others who are close to your ability are very beneficial. But, of course, getting the benefits of running alone doesn’t mean you have to do it 100% of the time. And there are people who’re very social and group oriented – they would not thrive on a steady diet of solo running.”

“You know, buttercup,” I said, “You mentioned that you might make it out here at the end of summer. Is that plan still on?”

“Oh, listen to me, PR machine, I have a conference in Seattle next weekend. I was thinking of making a stopover in Spokane.”

“I’m clearing my schedule now,” I replied. “I hope when going out, you prefer the social benefit instead of going solo.”

“I really like the company of caped runners. They’re so…suuuper.”

I like I.P. Aard. She is my kind of woman.


The Cops Can’t Catch Me

It wouldn’t be pleasant if you found yourself being chased through the streets by the police. Unfortunately, I can see this happening to myself. My friends, glancing out the window, surely would think, “Gosh, what did Jim do?”

I read a blog post in Running is Funny about races across the country that have a cops chasing criminals theme, including one next weekend in Debary, Florida called the Jail Break 5K. Officers from law enforcement agencies start the race two minutes after the rest of the field. Their goal is to catch up to as many runners as possible, who are encouraged to dress as prisoners. The agency jailbreak runcatching up with the most earns extra donations that go to charity.

When I read this, I thought it was a pretty neat idea. However some issues have since come to mind.

First, real prisoners are always looking to get out of jail. But one of the biggest drawbacks is how not to look like a prisoner running away from a jailbreak. A community doing a jailbreak fun run provides perfect cover.

Second, law enforcement loves events like this. They come in droves because it’s a stress-relief, let’s have a little fun, we love to play around while raising money for our favorite charity kind of thing. But when guards at the jail tell the custodian to keep an eye on things while they’re “out for a while,” you know the prisoners take notice.

When the prisoners make their break, sprinting out of jail en masse, passers-by, who believe they’ve come across the race course inadvertently, cheer them on. A few texts, tweets, and Facebook posts later, the streets are lined with spectators rooting for them. Meanwhile, as the real race starts, the participants are saddened by the apparent lack of interest and are unmotivated to run hard because no one’s there to cheer them on.

Born to Run in Circles

Born to runPetra has been on my mind so much that it’s difficult to focus. Even though I run often, I’ve had to add long daily walks to help alleviate my restlessness. I am constantly thinking about her and sometimes I become very sad because I am not with her.

So, hopefully the following post will be of interest to you, and at the same time, keep my mind off the wonderful Petra.

Plenty of runners have jumped onto the minimalist footwear trend that has been popularized by the book Born to Run, by Chris McDougall. He was in town recently and a bunch of my running group friends attended a reading he gave.

This issue has plenty of pros and cons, so I contacted the National Institute of Running Sciences, and spoke to an acquaintance, Dr. Ayer O’Beck, Chief of Running Research. I tried to pin him down on whether it’s a good thing or not, but he wouldn’t give a definitive answer. Our conversation went in circles as I tried to get him to tell me his position. This is what he said when I really pressed him:

“It’s hard to say if it’s better or worse than running in traditional thick-soled shoes. A lot depends on individual preference and the body’s response to minimalist footwear.”

I emailed him a photo of my friend, Javier Pita, pictured with the author, and asked if he should wear foot gloves. Dr. O’Beck asked about Javier’s running background. When I told him, adding that he’s a 2:49 marathoner, Dr. O’Beck said he’d do very well in minimalist footwear.

“How about if you’re out running,” I began, “and you see this fabulously beautiful woman and after trying and trying, you finally meet her. Eventually you get to know her, but then it turns out she has a boyfriend. Will wearing minimalist footwear help out?”

“You know, Jim, we have an Office of Running Psychology here. They may be able to help. They’re supportive. They listen. They know what you’re going through. Shall I transfer your call?”

“Thanks, Ayer, but I want to focus on the purpose of my call, which is Petra…I mean minimalist footwear. So…in this day and age of running groups and entering marathons and half-marathons, and doing hill workouts and trying to increase your mileage, do you think it’s best to not look at women runners, I mean,..not talk to them? Is it better to always run alone, deep in the woods so you don’t cross paths with anyone?”

“Jim, seriously, the people in the Office of Running Psychology are good. I’m going to connect you right now.”

“Thanks, Ayer. Appreciate it.”

Awkward Encounter at the Grocery Store

I mention in the About page how I’ve embraced the concept that is the name of this blog, Imustruneverywhere. And so yesterday I ran to the grocery store.

Rosauers I shop at Rosauers, and it’s pretty close to my house, which is a good thing because I can get there before I start sweating. I bring the groceries home using a backpack-like sling that I can really tighten down so the groceries hardly bounce or sway. Being single and making a couple trips a week means I can easily pack home everything I need.

I’m not self-conscious about shopping while wearing my running outfit, however, since I started wearing a cape, I get looks, especially from kids.

I was in the cereal aisle, and a couple holding hands turned the corner coming toward me. It was Petra. I didn’t want to talk, but I couldn’t avoid her without being obvious.

She greeted me warmly, and we chatted for a moment and then the introduction came.

“Jim, this is my boyfriend, Byron.”

We shook and after a couple minutes of conversation, it seemed that he was a thoughtful and down to earth guy. He asked how long I’ve been wearing a cape. I told him just a couple months, but one downside is that zombies, for some reason, are especially attracted to cape-wearers. He nodded in agreement. “I can see that. They’re always trying improve their stats and convert us to their way of life.”

Byron said it was a pleasure meeting me, Petra wished me a pleasant day, and we parted.

After paying for my groceries, I ran home, thinking how hard it’d be to make a move on the girlfriend of someone who’s a nice guy. I wondered how in the world Petra and I will become a couple.

My Hopes for Petra Not Looking Good

I turned the corner and the Manito Park Runners were ahead. I immediately saw Her Wonderfulness. It’s odd how I noticed her with but a glance when there were 15 or 20 people standing together. It was like everyone was in the shadows, and Petra had a big spotlight on her.

Joe was talking to Petra, and he was really hitting on her. He touched her arm and leaned toward her as he talked, and he was already standing so close. Petra was smiling, nodding, and being very attentive.

After a while Joe wandered off and two other guy members immediately swooped in. I bet it’s the same thing for her wherever she goes. I made my way over to Joe, said hello, asked how it was going, and then broached the issue.

“You’re not wasting any time with Petra are you?”

Joe smiled. “Am I that obvious?”

“Yes. I want to get my two minutes in, but you overstay your time allotment and then those two move in, and they didn’t even sign-up.”

Joe chuckled. “So, we need to get on a waiting list to talk to Petra?”

“Way it’s going, it’s the only way I can get a word in.”

After announcements were made, we headed out and I was able to run next to Petra for a couple miles. What’s so special about her is that talk comes so easily. I don’t have to work at it, and our conversations are so stimulating. I think it’s the same for her, too.

And being next to her, just us two, feels so good. It’s like we’re mimicking being a couple. However, there was one small word Petra used that left me bummed for the rest of the day.

She was telling me about a recent weekend trip she’d taken to Missoula. She described a hike, saying, “We saw two moose.”

Anytime the word “we” is used without elaboration, it can mean only one thing – she has a boyfriend.