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February 10, 2008

Six Topics In Search of a Theme

Admin note: I originally intended for this post to be a brief follow-up on the previous GPS article – but then several more items came to mind over the weekend that also seemed worth mentioning, and the whole thing turned into a typically random hodge-podge. I grappled with some kind of unifying theme to tie them all together, but that got way too hard – so I just came up with a clever title instead. I’m very much a “path of least resistance” guy.

Anyway, we’ll just jump right into things. Starting with …

1. This is what it looked like in Carmel Valley this weekend: 78 degrees and sunny. Um … tell me what month it is again?

I’m the first to admit that life in California isn’t all wine and roses. We have overcrowding in our cities, chronic economic problems, water issues, immigration concerns, and an education system that appears permanently disabled. Not to mention, Arnold Schwarzenegger is our Governor.

But then we’ll have a weekend of 80-degree days in mid-February, and I’m reminded of why I love living here. I know it’s a silly notion – but sometimes all it takes is a beautiful day to make everything seem right in the world, at least temporarily.

(Besides, we Californians really deserved this nice weather. We’ve had to deal with more than two weeks of rain and below-average temps. It even got to the point where I noticed my tan fading. What a horrifying ordeal for all of us. In fact, I can’t even talk about it anymore … let’s just move on.)

2. Our family took advantage of the nice weather by making another trek to the waterfall, and guess who else was there?...

This banana slug!

I explained to my kids the whole story of the slug’s slimy, mouth-numbing, toxic, possibly parasitic ooze that I had learned over the past few weeks – and to my bewilderment (and their credit), they all declined my suggestion to kiss one.

So I was forced to take matters into my own, uh, lips:

You know what? It wasn’t so bad. A slight tingling feeling, followed by a momentary sense of “Wait, how come my lips are stuck together?” as the slime briefly congealed. All in all, it wasn’t as creepy as I thought. In fact, it’s probably not the worst first kiss I’ve ever had - but that’s another story.

Following my example, my 4-year-old daughter also decided to kiss the slug, but the other two kids stuck to their guns and refrained. I’m not sure whether to be prouder of my youngest for being adventurous, or the others for being rational. Right now - assuming we don’t contract some weird infection in the next few days – I think I’m siding with the little one.

3. Briefly, on the subject of Lost – don’t worry, no spoilers – a few people have asked, so here’s my guess: Claire, Desmond, and Sayid. And that’s all I’m going to say. I guess we’ll partially find something out this Thursday.

4. For each of the last two weeks, I logged about 70 miles (you know … give or take a few tenths), of running, almost exclusively on trails. This week was scheduled to be a cutback week – and after skipping today’s run, I already feel like a basket case. By the end of the week I’ll likely be twitching and stuttering and longingly pressing my nose against the window whenever I drive past the open spaces I normally frequent. I know it sounds odd, but that’s actually a good sign. It means my body’s finally accepted the fact that we’re in full-on training mode again.

5. In honor of Valentine’s Day this week, I’m dusting off the old “Sex and Running” article I mentioned in my snot rocket intro, and I hope to post it here on Thursday. It won’t be the most romantic thing you read all week, but it might give you some extra justification (as if you needed any) for getting a little affectionate later on. Remember, I’m here to help.

6. Finally, on the topic of last week’s GPS article, here’s the follow-up story …

After that article came out, a lot of local runners seized upon the idea of the Beta factor – i.e., awarding extra mileage for any given run based on its degree of difficulty. I admit that the whole concept took me by surprise as well.

Some of us started referencing Beta in everyday conversation. We’d discuss the approximate Beta value of one trail in comparison to another, and we sent e-mails with sentences like “the run is 24 miles, but considering the Beta, we can call it 28.” Obviously, we thought it was one of the greatest things we’d ever heard.

Then last Tuesday, our running group included Jon, the guy to whom we attributed the Beta factor in the article. Early in the run, the following exchange took place:

Andrew: That Beta factor thing is awesome – so what computer program did you use to come up with it?

Jon: None – I actually made the whole thing up.

Needless to say, we were shattered. It turns out that our Beta infatuation was completely misguided, and our running routes are just as long as we always thought they were, if not (thanks to GPS) shorter.

The funny thing is, it’s a plausible enough idea to be believed. But I hate to think that any of the dozen or so people who read my newspaper articles have been misinformed. Thank goodness I’m classified as a “columnist” instead of a “reporter” – which allows me some wiggle room to twist the facts under the guise of creative writing.

The whole story is also a nice reminder that I probably have no business representing myself as a serious newspaper writer – a fact that should become even more abundantly clear on Thursday.


Backofpack 2/11/08, 4:52 PM  

If my husband were to kiss a slug, he'd be washing his lips twice, then disinfecting them and then double brushing his teeth before he'd get a kiss out of me!

Have you ever inadvertantly stepped on a slug while running? They squish into a disgusting mess which is so slick it can land you right on the kiester. I don't know which is worse in the dark, the unseen pile of dog doo or a slug. I guess the big advantage is that the slug doesn't smell, but the yuck factor is almost equal.

PS. What is a tan?

Dana 2/12/08, 4:30 AM  

Too bad the "Beta" concept isn't real. Because there are DEFINITELY times where we work harder than others for our runs.

angie's pink fuzzy 2/12/08, 8:01 PM  

in no particular order:

6. a friend of mine thinks you can add miles to your run based on elevation gain. every 1000 ft is like equal to a mile (or something like that), so you can calculate out what it would have been on flat ground.

2. ewwwwww!

4. woo hoo!!!!

3. i agree with your hypothesis...

olga 2/13/08, 12:37 PM  

1. I hate you...and I am with BoP - what is tan? Thank God I am naturally somewhat not pale, or I'd have to discover tanning booths in Portland!
2. Way to go! May be I shoudl try it too? And then kiss somebody with numb lips? I wonder how this would feel? Or is it a comment to #5?
3. No TV - no comment
4. I am with you here! I am not working with my coach here this rest week either...bad client.
5. And if I don't have a romantic SO, can I just go ahead with a snot rocket deal?
6. So, between you and Angie, does it mean when I go to the Gorge and log 10,000 vertical gain, I can add on 10 miles? Woohoo, here I come, may be I like this factor, if not GPS itself!
Or may be we should just put down time of running as many top runners/coaches suggest?

Rainmaker 2/13/08, 1:09 PM  

One random topic:

78* in Feburary: You suck.


Anne 2/13/08, 8:18 PM  

We had one of those perfect weekends here too...I think it was contagious and spread all over the beleagured state.

My guess: Aaron (Claire's baby), Sayid and Rose.

Addy 2/16/08, 10:10 AM  

A belated congrats on the banana slug kiss :) Have you noticed yourself unusually lucky lately?

davegibb 2/24/08, 6:36 PM  

Because of the slug kiss you have been tagged
The rules of the game:

# Link to the person who tagged you.
# Post the rules on your blog.
# Share seven random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
# Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
# Leave a comment on their blogs so that they know they have been tagged.Sorry about the inconvience. I'm new to blogging and do not know if this is taboo or not.

Darrell 2/24/08, 11:09 PM  

After this last week, I'd almost forgotten how glorious the weather was a couple of weeks ago. There's no place I'd rather be in winter than California.

The beta factor made me laugh. We often talked about the extra effort of a hill run giving us the equivalent work out of a longer flatland run, but I could never actually claim that distance in my log book. I'd rather err short than long.

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