Rastafarian racer

A Caucasian Rastafarian in dreads, sporting a flowered necklace and pant patches extolling a carefree and easy-going lifestyle showed up at the Monster Mash 5K last Sunday at Manito Park in Spokane Washington.rasta guy

The Rastafarian was not a Jamaican, but me, in my Halloween outfit. I ran at an easy pace, staying in character by having a good time, encouraging others, and offering “medicine” for my fellow runners to feel good and mellow out.

The Monster Mash 5K raises money for a group called Active4Youth, which funds after school running programs for Spokane area elementary schools. Over 500 entrants, nearly all in costume, entered the race.

By the time Halloween is over, I’ll have worn my outfit on several occasions. As many people know, marijuana is an integral element of the Rastafarian lifestyle. Since Washington state legalized it last year, I knew I’d be okay including some extra large, Bob Marley-sized joints as an accessory.

I offered my stash to many, and though I received very positive comments, especially regarding the size, there were no takers. This was a good thing because despite the benefits of smoking weed, I normally don’t indulge, so I had to make the joints with the best substitute I had on hand – dried catnip.rasta smokes

It was fun dressing as a Rastafarian, but I was hoping for a fringe benefit that didn’t work out. Despite immersing myself in Rasta culture, I was not able to become a hit-producing performer of reggae music.


Hills vs. stairs

A lot of serious runners incorporate hill workouts in their training, however, what do you do if you live in a very flat place, or the hills aren’t close by? (It’s so unfair when hills are inconveniently located.)

If this is the case, your only option is a stair workout. Hopefully there’s a tall building where you can access the stairwell. If not, you’ll have to make do with what’s available. Below is where I go for my stair training.stair - porch

Yes, I have to do a lot of reps for a good workout, however, these stairs are very conveniently located. It’s my front porch.

There’s a decent grade not too far from my house where I can train, so I don’t really use my porch for running. However, I still get in some stair workouts with the Flying Irish, the running group I often join.

We have a route call Stairmaster which hits several sets of stairs in the three-mile route. A couple are pictured below.stair-arena

stair peaceful valley

The two photos below are me in the middle of a recent stair workout. I forgot my camera, so after arriving home, I googled, “Jim doing stair workout”, and these photos showed up from Google Earth. I’m surprised the angles those satellite cameras can get.

stair jim running

stair run at cemetery

Distance being equal, I think it’s fair to say that stairs are more demanding than hills. When I do stairs, it’s two at a time, at least. Stairs are constructed for walking, so a running stride just doesn’t match up to one stair at a time.

However, if you’re on a long, tiring run and incorporate a stairway with lots of stairs, I won’t yell at you if you do one at a time. But if I find out you walked them, I’ll track you down and force you to listen to my two-hour seminar on running stairs.

Frozen Extremeties

In my many years of running, I’ve never scaled back my training because of the weather. When it’s especially bad, I like going for a run even more because of the challenge.

The only time I passed up running because of bad conditions was when Ice Storm hit the Spokane area in 1996. Heavy snow followed by frozen rain brought down trees and power lines. Back then I took the bus to work and did a six mile run home. I was about to leave when my wife at the time showed up and said it was crazy to run, and she was driving me home. Only because she asserted herself did I relent. As we drove home, I saw how right she was.

The coldest temperature I’ve run in is -15 degrees F. When it gets very cold, I wear a cap, three layers on my upper body, two layers for the legs, and mittens over gloves because my hands are especially susceptible to cold. I wear nothing extra on my feet – they always stay warm. However, years ago I learned a hard lesson about a body part you normally don’t worry about while running.

One afternoon I went running when it was around 12 degrees fahrenheit. A very strong wind was blowing, and it went right through the sweat pants I was wearing. A very important body part got very, very cold. So cold that I was in a lot of pain the last couple miles of my run.

You’ve probably experienced how the thawing process of a very cold body part can be painful. Well, that’s how it was for me after I got home. I thought I would have permanent damage. It took a long, achy time for this part to finally return to its normal condition.

Nowadays, anytime it’s below 15 degrees F, I stuff something into my training pants, usually a sock, for added protection.


Cars vs. runners

Unless you live in a federal wilderness area, you have plenty of experience sharing the roads with cars. I’ve been fortunate in never having a close call, though I was witness to one.

I was once running with a track teammate, and he insisted on crossing an intersection against a red light. When we reached the traffic island in the middle, a line of cars in the left turn lane blocked our view. I stopped to look for oncoming cars, but my teammate continued. A car was sailing through the intersection, and I screamed out.

My warning wouldn’t have mattered – he was already crossing. The car skidded, and fortunately for my friend, stopped just short of striking him.

I often run at night which of course increases the danger of being hit. Turning cars are the biggest hazard. I always head check for right-turning vehicles before crossing a busy intersection. I’ve had drivers turn just in front of me, requiring me to abruptly stop.

Sometimes when cars take a right out of a parking lot, the driver checks left for traffic, but not right for pedestrians. Some drivers give me an apologetic wave after turning into the street and noticing me waiting there.

Making eye contact is the way to avoid accidents, but some cars have such dark tinting, it’s impossible. In this situation, a waiting game ensues until it’s apparent the driver sees you and is waiting for you to go.

Though I’ve never been hit by a car, I’m a recovering victim of another type of violence cars inflict on runners. And I think there are many other victims out there. It can be a winter day with heavy snow that is melting or a springtime downpour. When a car whizzes past and throws cold slush or a wall of water on me, the shock, trauma and helplessness is debilitating. By the time I reach home, immediate medical attention is necessary. Warm soup, a thick blanket and my favorite TV show usually eases symptoms.

Running shoes and Petra

If you can identify the brand of running shoes I’m wearing in the below photo, you win a jackpot that currently sits at $3.8 billion. More clues later in this blog.SONY DSC

Converse low tops aren’t considered running shoes, but that’s what I wore when I started running as a sophomore in high school. It took a while for my uncle, also a runner, to convince me I needed real running shoes.converse shoes

Over the years, I’ve worn shoes made by almost every running shoe company. In high school, I wore Adidas and Puma, the dominant brands back then. There were few others to chose from, but when a new company called Nike marketed their revolutionary Waffle, I switched brands.nike waffle

Ever since the Converses, I’ve stuck with shoes made for running, except once. I was on vacation and forgot to pack my running shoes. I wasn’t about to give up running for two weeks, so I ran in a pair of non-running shoes.SONY DSC

Think I was self conscious running in these shoes? Not so much. The shoes I actually wore weren’t quite as dressy. If you made a guess to win the $3.8 billion, I’ll have to get back to you. These shoes came with a suit I bought for a wedding, and I don’t remember the brand.

Moving on to another topic, it’s been a couple weeks since Petra’s bold move at the Manito Runners Club group run, and I’ve been wondering how to respond. Today I made a decision to ask her out for coffee. I’d like to have a relationship with her, but not the standard, conventional, everyday type. I have some ideas what I want, mostly involving greater freedom than a typical relationship. After her break-up with Byron, I’m guessing she has similar ideas.