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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Running update (for anyone who cares)

Last week, I ran in my first 5K of the season, the Capitol Memorial Run along the River Trail in downtown Lansing. My goal headed in was to run it in under 30 minutes, a relatively modest goal. I was pretty certain I could do it because I'd run several training runs in under 30 minutes, with the fastest one somewhere around 28:45. Still, there's always that lingering, "Can I really do it?"

I'm happy to say that I DID do it, and my time was 27:41, which is the fastest 5K time I've ever run. Now, I'm not satisfied with this. I figure that if I've made it this far in one year, who's to say that I can't get the time under 25 minutes in the future. After all, there were five runners in my 45-49 age group and I was STILL only fourth of the five. The fastest of us knocked it out in 21 minutes and change. Second place was somewhere in the 23 minute range, with third place at 24 minutes. Then there was me at 27:41.

It's important as a runner to set goals. In the beginning, all I wanted to be able to do was run 20 solid minutes without stopping; then I wanted to run 30 minutes without stopping; and finally the goal was to run five kilometers with no regard to how long it took me to do it. I've accomplished all those, but still feel that I haven't "conquered" the 5K distance. For that reason, I'm shooting for a sub-25 minute time and maybe, just maybe, coming away with a medal in one of these races. It won't be the end of the world if I never win a medal, because there are so many excellent runners in my age group who have been running for much longer than I have, but I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility for me to achieve these goals.

You may be asking yourself, "So Mark, do you plan on ever running anything beyond the 5K?" The short answer is "No." I feel like five kilometers is the perfect distance to run--for now. I go out and run about 25 to 30 minutes and I'm done. I really don't currently have any desire to run more than about a half-hour per workout. Having said that, I won't rule out the possibility that I could eventually become bored with this distance and decide to shoot for 10K. Who knows?

Ultimately, I have to keep in mind that the reason I got into running in the first place was to get in better shape. I'm happy to say that has been successful. I haven't felt his good since at least my early 30s. I've lost weight, my body feels much more flexible, I sleep better, and I'm more confident about life in general.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pixies "Doolittle"

I listened to Pixies' Doolittle last week and am convinced it was the greatest album of the 1980s. The band was an acknowledged influence on Nirvana (and plenty of other bands) and this album holds up better than just about any other record I can think of from that decade. It just has the perfect combination of pop hooks ("Here Comes Your Man," "La La Love You," "Monkey Gone to Heaven") and bashing punkish attitude ("Debaser," "Gouge Away," "Tame") or both in the same song ("Wave of Mutilation"). At the same time, producer Gil Norton managed to avoid the glossy sheen that marred so many albums from this era--even allegedly "alternative" albums.

I don't know exactly what my point is with this post, just go and listen to this album NOW! I'm sure you can at least find that someone has uploaded it on YouTube.

Upon further reflection, maybe my point is this: I liked this album when it came out, but I don't know that I loved it. It took some time for me to catch up with it, because what Pixies were doing was a little ahead of their time back in 1989 and I don't know that I was ready for it or prepared for it. 25 years later, I see how much subsequent music this band influenced: from Nirvana to even some of the lo-fi stuff that was so big in the mid-'90s, and certainly the garage rock trend of the late '90s/early '00s.

Anyway, great album. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

Friday, May 2, 2014

My instant technology gratification addiction

It's the last day of April and I need to get at least ONE post in during this month.
I must admit that I'm addicted to my phone. I'm on almost all the time to the detriment of doing other things that I should be doing, like yard work, reading books, listening to music, and writing in this blog.
There was a time not too long ago when I didn't have a computer, I certainly didn't have a small flat pocket-sized electronic rectangle with a screen that contains much of the world's information in one convenient place. I lived a perfectly fine existence.
As much as I enjoy my Droid Razr, I feel addicted to it to almost an unhealthy degree. And the more I use it, the emptier I feel in some ways. I don't find it to be too fulfilling, yet I am almost endlessly compelled to "see what's happening on Facebook" or surf the net on my little black electronic rectangle. It's not far removed from a drug addiction. It's an "instant technology gratification" addiction that never really leaves me very gratified.
Now, that's not to say my phone is completely useless and nothing more than an addictive, expensive toy. I do have a great MapMyRun GPS app that I use when running and it's probably the best thing on my phone.  Still, I spend way too much time checking Facebook, somehow expecting it to entertain or enlighten me more, but more often than not it just leaves me bored or irritated.
If all this instant technology, 24-hour social networking junk just disappeared, it would be okay (I say as I type this blog post from my phone--what a fucking hypocrite I am). Maybe I'd go through a week of withdrawal in which I'd be impulsively reaching for a smartphone that wasn't there, but eventually I'd go back to the days where I actually picked up a book more than 30 minutes a week.