Genetically modified runners

A year ago you didn’t see warnings like the one posted next to the sign-in table of a 5-mile race I did earlier this summer.No GMR's

Now it’s commonplace, and almost every road race in Eastern Washington has a similar clause in their race entry forms.

GMR’s (Genetically Modified Runners) started showing up in early 2013. Gene therapy involving injections of horse DNA into runners was developed by a small group of genetics graduate students unable to find work. By sheer luck they met working temporary jobs last summer at a local running store. Putting their minds together, they developed a brisk backroom business offering pricey gene therapy.

It's all under the table, but if you say "I like horses", to a sales person, you'll get preferential treatment.

It’s all under the table, so you have to say “I like horses”, to get preferential treatment.

After horse DNA is injected, runners improve to levels that are beyond human. Some side effects include a mutation of the feet which gives a slight hoof-like appearance, and a thin strip of mane on the upper

GMR’s have quickly learned to throttle back to avoid suspicion. Winning by a minute or two is okay. Crossing the finish line when the second place runner is at the halfway point is not.

Fortunately GMR’s won’t challenge elite runners. Any non-human DNA in the body is easily detectable, thus this issue is limited to small-time fun runs that don’t test entrants.

One runner who admits to receiving the therapy is Todd Oglesbee, below, leading a race he easily won. When I asked if he was happy about getting the treatments, he gave a thumbs up.todd GMR runner

“They needed someone to test the therapy, so I volunteered. I’ve won every race I’ve entered. Other than an occasional intense desire to eat a bucket of oats, I feel great.”

I spoke with a couple race directors, and both said they were more than happy with Todd running in their races. When I asked why Todd could enter, but not other GMR’s, one replied, “It’s because Todd’s such a nice guy. He’s an exception to the exception.”

Buddha swings

In my previous post, I wrote about how I enjoy taking breaks and getting all contemplative while doing park-visiting runs. The post was called Park Buddha, but I didn’t fully explain what Buddha has to do with the parks I run through.

Siddhartha Guatama achieved enlightenment a long, long time ago, and became known as The Buddha.

Siddhartha Guatama achieved enlightenment a long ago, and became known as The Buddha.

You see, The Buddha was directed to live as an ascetic, which he did for six years, nearly starving to death. Then he was allowed to eat normally, but had to sit under a tree 24 hours a day. Not having a clue how many years he’d have to do this, he invented the swing to alleviate boredom. He was supposed to sit cross-legged and meditate every waking hour, but when he noticed God was pre-occupied with other issues for long periods, he built the swing using branches and twine that he spun from plants growing under the tree. When God noticed the swing and questioned him about it, The Buddha convincingly replied that he didn’t know how it got there, nor what it was used for.

Soon, God caught Buddha on the swing and lengthened the time he had to spend under the tree. This made Buddha really mad because he’d already endured enough hardship. Eventually the Buddha achieved enlightenment, and swings have become an object of spiritual significance.

Thanks to The Buddha, by leaping through a swing, you can attain spiritual enlightenment as well. That’s why they became standard equipment at parks. However, this purpose has been largely forgotten, and it’s now considered a playground item for children.swing #0

One leap through a swing won’t bring enlightenment. It must be done many times, and the amount varies by individual. It could be 17,550 times or 23,405. There’s no way to know how many times it takes, but do it enough and the walls fall away, and you’ll see beyond the physical. That’s why I try to include a few parks in my running route. It’s too hard to jump through a swing over and over continuously. If I do it a few times each run, I’ll eventually reach enlightenment without it being the hardship like it was for The Buddha. The following photos show how to expertly leap through a swing so that you can reach enlightenment, too. Good luck!swing1

As you can see in the above photo, intense concentration is necessary.


A nine step run up is best. Any less and you risk touching the swing, which is a no-no.


The left arm is thrust upward if you lead with your right foot. Don’t get fancy and try to do a flip through the swing. Extra credit is not given.


Don’t touch or brush the swing seat or chain. God won’t reward superb performance, but is quick to deduct for minor miscues.


The swing is untouched. A successful leap. I’m sitting at 11,484. Wow, wouldn’t it be nice if my number is 11,500.

Park Buddha

Duncan Gardens at Manito Park in Spokane, Washington. The pollen gives you a runner's high.

Duncan Gardens at Manito Park in Spokane, Washington. The scent of flowers fills the air.

I usually step up my training to do well in races, but the last race I did was in early June, and the next one I’m doing is Sept. 28th.

That means I’ve been able to ease up on my training. I like to stop in the middle of a run if I see something interesting. Other times I feel like resting and letting my mind ponder things. I did that today when I went on a long run through several parks.cont. shelter

I stopped at a picnic shelter to watch a squirrel race around with a hazelnut in his mouth.squirrel

I moved on to another park and took a break on the bleachers of a ball field at Franklin Park. I played baseball as a 9th grader and this is where we practiced and played games.cont. bleachers

cont. players bench

Taking a break for contemplation and reflection is enjoyable, but location is very important. I ran to another park where I know of a bench that overlooks a flower garden.cont on bench

It was a pretty view, but my contemplating wasn’t high quality. There was a disharmonious visual effect that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

After giving up on the fancy, colorful spot, I thought why not just lay on the grass. That turned out okay.cont on grass

However, I noticed a bunch of people coming my way and I knew I’d feel silly just laying there doing nothing, so I assumed a well-known meditative pose.cont. buddha

A Manito Runners Club member I know likes resting on this decorative column before we head out to run. I gave it a try, but it’s a bit uncomfortable.cont. pillar

I finally found the best spot ever. I’d never guess that a tennis court net would be the No. 1 spot for resting and contemplating.cont tennis

It was so good that when a couple guys came and asked if they could use the court, I said no. I’m sure they were a little pissed as they went back to their car, but sometimes it’s all about me.

Re-using running shoe boxes

Used to be that whenever I bought a new pair of running shoes, the box went to the basement, where over time, it became part of a shoebox skyscraper.

One night as I stared at the tower of boxes, analyzing its structural integrity, I knew I’d better do something before they all came down. I came up with several uses, some of which I’d like to share.

Sometimes I find myself a little short on cupboard space. I find that shoeboxes make great temporary cupboards.shoebox cupboard

Running socks are natural companions to running shoes. So why not store your socks in a shoebox. This has worked out great, but when I started, something very odd happened. Whenever I pulled a pair out of the box, I heard a faint whine. It was just barely audible, but I was sure I could hear someone or something whining. I couldn’t trace the sound to anything except the socks, but how can this be? Socks can’t whine.shoebox sock storage

Over time, I discovered it was the socks. They so love being comfy and restful in a shoebox, they don’t want to be put on feet. However, like I said, since they’re such great companions with shoes, they get over their whininess as soon as I lace up.

Another excellent use is a cat timeout place. Whenever my cat Gloopy misbehaves, it’s to the box she goes. The other day I got angry and sent her to the box for ten time out 1

I let Gloopy know when her time was up, and as she got out, I warned her not to bring dead mice into the house time out 2

Please feel free to share some of the ways you re-use running shoe boxes.

A runner’s diet

A few months ago I wrote about a diet regimen I devised that has been adopted by many top runners around the world. Called SNARP (Strategic Nourishment and Replenishment Program), I wrote the post with high hopes that I’d win an award. Nowadays, I think most people don’t believe my post. I admit it was a total fabrication. I’m sure this will cause readers of I Must Run Everywhere to slap their foreheads in shock.

To make up for this transgression, I’ll reveal my real diet secrets. The secret is that I don’t eat anything special. In my entire career I’ve rarely eaten with a running benefit in mind.

However, I have a very healthy diet because I believe what you eat has such a huge impact on health. I don’t necessarily want to live to a very old age, but while I’m alive, I prefer to be healthy and active.

The below photos show part of my vegetable garden which takes up most of my backyard. Starting in mid-April, I’m able to harvest over-wintered spinach, kale, early lettuce and dandelion greens for salads. Additional greens ripen during summer and fall. I’m usually able to harvest lettuce into December.

On the left is a type of Romaine lettuce. Middle is Asian tatsoi. On the right - onions.

On the left is a type of Romaine lettuce. Middle is Asian tatsoi. On the right – onions.

Far left are eggplants. In the middle is Swiss chard. On the right, carrots.

Far left are eggplants. In the middle is Swiss chard. On the right, carrots.

It’d probably be boring and monotonous for most people, but most days my dinner is a big salad with many ingredients from April to December. I’ve been doing it for years, yet I still look forward to my big green meal in the evening. Other fruits and vegetables I grow are frozen, and I use them to make various dishes during winter.

However, I have a weakness for sweets. Because of this, I generally don’t keep them around because I’d devour them in no time. But I got around this rigid policy a few evenings ago.

I was hankering for something sweet, and I wanted it now, so a drive to the store or baking something was out of the question.

I found a neglected box of cake mix that had been given to me a few months earlier. I poured some into a bowl and added milk. Voila! – dessert for a king. If you’re hoping for instructions on how to prepare this dessert, you’re in luck.

Pour cake mix into a bowl. Warning - do not sneeze while doing this.

Pour cake mix into a bowl. Warning – do not sneeze while doing this.

Add milk. If any is spilled, ignore platitudes and release frustrations by crying.

Add milk. If any is spilled, ignore platitudes and release frustrations by crying.

Stir well. Guard against excess salivation dropping into bowl. Even though it's your own spit, it's still gross.

Stir well. Anticipation may cause saliva to drip into the bowl, but don’t let it happen. It’s your own spit, but it’s still gross.

Yummy yummy. As a reminder, this is for at home alone use only. Do not serve at dinner parties.

Yummy. As a reminder, this is for at-home-alone use only. Do not serve at dinner parties.

Do you have a story of going to extreme lengths to get some sweets into your mouth?

A sunscreen nightmare

It’s been a very warm and sunny summer so far. I know a lot of runners don’t bother, but I use sunscreen nearly every time I run.sun1

I came across a real sunscreen bargain at the dollar store the other day – buy one get one free, coupled with an e-coupon I had, and my total came to $1.50 for two 1-gallon economy-size containers.

When I walked out of the store, I was happily calculating how many years it’d be before I’d have to buy sunscreen again. However, I ran into a problem that all Spokane area runners should be aware of.

As I rubbed the sunscreen in, it didn’t feel the same as my previous brand. I rubbed and rubbed and ten minutes later, very little of it had soaked in. I rubbed some more and nothing changed. A half hour later I gave up and took the below photo.sunscreen disaster

You should absolutely avoid this brand. It’s easy to identify – it comes in a gallon can and has a very cheap-looking purple label with nothing written but the word sunscreen.sunscreen

I’ve come to the conclusion that this product is actually paint, and someone has committed an outrageous mislabeling injustice. Of course, I marched back to the store and demanded a $1.50 refund, which I got.

Now I’m considering legal action, which I’ve never done before. If there is anyone who can give me a tip on how to get started, I’d appreciate it.

Urban vs. rural running

People who go for a run in the country make such a big deal about how nice it is. Running down a tree-lined country lane to the sound of chirping birds and the scent of pines is a nice idea, but if you’re actually doing it, is it really that nice? Well, maybe it is. That’s a bad example. But running in urban areas can be fun too, and there are advantages you don’t have in a rural area.Downtown run2

I can get an excellent workout by racing to beat traffic lights, especially if the lights are set to a fairly slow traffic flow. Sometimes I can go several blocks at a hard pace before I get stopped.

Trail running takes sure footing, but so does running downtown. Those metal plates that cover freight access tunnels are rusting away at an alarming rate, and if they aren’t collapsing as you run over them, the ones that have already fallen in have to be leaped over. What a cross-training workout!downtown hazard

And there’s more cross-training – imagine playing dodge ball, but instead of harmless nerf balls, you’re dodging hordes of shoppers and downtown office workers. What a challenge to keep up a brisk, collision-free pace.downtown dodgeball

I’m amazed how many times I’ve slowed down because I lost my motivation to push the pace, and just then I come across an abandoned homeless encampment.downtown garbage Suddenly I have no problem kicking it into high gear to escape the stench, and for some reason, this “runner’s high” lasts for several blocks. To the homeless, I say, “Thanks for the boost.”

I’m a fan of history, and opportunities abound for higher learning. Just today I stopped at a statue and picked up some information that I’m sure will help me if I ever appear on Jeopardy.downtown statue

Art aficionados will appreciate the dynamic artwork under railroad bridges, on masonry walls and the sides of buildings. In my hometown of Spokane, art experts estimate it’d take 2.5 years of daily art viewing to see every mural and painting in the downtown area.downtown art

Runners who love music won’t be disappointed either. Nearly always there are talented musicians on street corners playing all through the day. I took a short break to listen to these two girls. Then as I resumed my run, they played the theme song from Rocky to get me going again.downtown buskersSo, next time you want a stimulating, educational workout, go for a run………..downtown