Tuesday, August 8, 2017

When You Can't Run

In 2009 a car turned in front of me when I was cycling. One Grade III acromioclavicular joint separation later and barring running the Pikes Peak Marathon a few days later (a VERY questionable decision on my part) I didn't run for 18 days. But the non-running streak was 12 days.

In 2012, another cycling accident left me with multiple breaks in my shoulder, again putting me on the shelf. I was only out for 10 days before I gingerly began running again.

In 2013, a freak staph infection in my foot had me dangerously close to losing it altogether.  Somehow I was out for only 9 days.

In 2015, I tripped on a run, broke my hand and only took 3 days off. I've taken that long off before a half-marathon multiple times!

In 2016, one of the worst colds I have ever had in my life, with the flu and I think the Black Death hitting me at once, made me not leave my apartment for a week. I didn't run for 10 days.

Those are basically the only long term times I have taken off from running since I started keeping track in 2006. I don't do long streaks of running very often as I am a big advocate of rest, but I also don't take extended breaks either. Until a little over a week ago.

Sunday, close to midnight, I was heading home from my best friend's. Without going into too much detail (you can read more here on my Facebook page), I was accosted by two men.  The end product had me fighting for what could have been my life (I don't know what weapons they had, whether they wanted to steal my car, what drugs they may have been on, etc.,) and heading to the hospital with a broken hand, various cuts, and three fracture to my face around my eye.  As I (inexplicably) deal with the question of whether the police are going to charge these men with a crime, I sit here with three pins in my thumb, warnings about not even bending over lest I risk permanent vision impairment, and an overwhelming desire to escape it all for a bit by going for a run.

Which, obviously, I can't do. For the 9th day in a row, in what may be as many as a month or more, the way I handle stress, the way I deal with people not returning calls so I can go about my business, the way I try to figure out how to reschedule the race series I was directing over Labor Day which now has to be postponed, and the way I control everything around me, if even only for an hour, is not available to me.



My perspective however is not with blinders, however. I know that I should be able to return to running someday soon. (Although, that is not guaranteed. My checkup on Monday will tell me more about the fractures in my face, why my teeth and jaw are numb, etc.) My friend, Dave Mackey, he who of great trail running chops who lost a leg after an accident while running, reached out to offer condolences. This gave me a touch of perspective even if I didn't really need it.  That said, when every fiber in you wants to run and you know the consequences if you do, it is a bit maddening.

I keep trying to think of other ways to keep my mind off of not running or my situation but am headed off at the pass each time. Every form of exercise which pops into my mind as an alternative is quickly brushed away for the same reasons I can't run.  I want to work on my next book but typing sucks. I have been asked to submit some new paintings for a gallery here in Austin but, well, that whole hand not working thing gets in the way. I dare not turn on the television because something Orange Delirious lets slip from that prolapsed anus he calls a mouth is bound to make me want to punch something, which, all together now: "You can't do because of your hand!"

There is no pithy way I can think of to end this post. I simply know that any of the 30 million or more people who call themselves runners in the U.S. alone can absolutely understand my frustration right now. I find it quite coincidental that as of right now the last run I did was one where, simply because I needed to blow off a little stress, I went for a quick three miler.  The words I attached to that run?

"It is so nice that I am fortunate enough to be able to change a bad mood around completely in just 24 minutes."

So true.

ADDENDUM: Two weeks after being attacked, and dealing with a detective who did more than just ask questions to move forward (at one point, yelling, and yes I mean yelling "Because your story is BULLSHIT!) it appears that by being calm, rational and not hurling falsehoods at the two delinquents who said "We are from the East Coast and not one of you Texas faggots. We will knock the white of of you" I am not being taken serious. Copious records have been taken and, as a former law school professor suggested I will "gather your medical bills, diary your aches, pains, sleepless nights, and you find the P. I. lawyer with the biggest ad on the back of a bus in Austin and call him or her!"

I've lost tens of thousands of dollars from spineless companies and partners for standing up to Trump.  You think I am going to not pursue being assaulted by two men in the middle of the night?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Will the NFL Finally Be The Answer to Climate Change Action?

I started out thinking about writing this as a Facebook post. Then a long thread of tweets.  Then I decided it was going to be long enough to post here.

So, I finally realized what it is going to take to get Congress behind Climate Change and it hit me after I came back from a run in 102°  Texas heat. (Aside: This was written Sunday evening, just a few hours before I got attacked and shows you never know when your last run will be for a while!)

Remember when Congress had hearings on steroids in baseball LONG after it was obvious that there was rampant use of steroids in baseball? N.B. I'm not saying they didn't have a right to do so (sports fall under "interstate commerce" according to Art I, Sec 8 of the Constitution.) Nor am I saying there isn't a legitimate interest (many felt Congress had "better things to do" and they probably did) as Congress is supposed to hold hearings about issues which worry the public. And nothing worries the public more than sports and money. We can argue whether that is good or not but we can't argue whether it is true. Well, I was thinking about those hearings as I tried to not die in the heat. File that under "Things I think About While Running."

Post-run, I plopped down in front of a box fan and poured cold water over me. I didn't have the energy to shower and just needed to cool my core. For whatever reason, it hit me that there are only 39 days until the NFL season starts. On my run I saw some little leaguers playing ball in this heat and thought what little badasses they must be. I was wearing the shortest of shorts, no shirt, and carrying a handheld water bottle and it took everything in me to finish my 6.3 miler at 7:30 pace. Here these kids were just playing away. But they did get to have breaks and maybe seek shade. It is baseball, after all and no one really exerts themselves for more than a few seconds at a time. (Go with me on this as I was feeling a little like a wuss.)

In front of the fan, I thought of those giant fans they use for the first full month of football which shoot out cooling water onto the players on the bench. Then I thought of how when it really starts to snow, football fans say :"This is football weather!" Why do they say that?

Because October, November, and December used to actually be freaking cold! The bulk of the season used to be played in crisp, cool weather, often punctuated by snowfall and ice and wind and brrr.  No longer. The days are warmer, the nights are warmer, and the games are being played by faster, stronger men, pushing themselves more to to the limit than ever before. Even though we live in the era of specialization and it is rare for any one player to play all four downs of the drive (especially on defense) and nutrition and hydration are no longer seen as things only the weak imbibe, it is only a matter of time before some player, in the heat of a September game, succumbs to heat stroke in a potentially fatal way. Then, finally, Congress may act.

Baseball might be the "national past time" but right now football moves the needle. The NFL will bring in $14 billion in revenue this year. That is more than 36% of the countries on this planet have in GDP for this year. (Oh yeah, I really did my research on this one, folks!) When something begins to effect the bottom line of billionaires, it finally will matter. Note, they won't really care about the health and well-being of players (we already know that is not the case *cough* concussions *cough.)  But they will care about making money.  And people dying on national television during a game because it is eleventy billion degrees in November will finally make somebody notice.  And by somebody I mean billionaires. And by billionaires, I mean the people who control the elections and coffers of like 90% of our politicians.

If for no reason other than their profit-margins will slip because the planet is warming and is making their team less valuable, we may finally have the answer to get frigging morons (like Jim "Here's a Snowball in February so Climate Change isn't Real" Inhofe) to act to make sure the rest of the world doesn't burst into flames. Again, not because they care about humans but rather about getting donors and staying elected.

And yes, I know it is supposed to be hot in Texas in July. But since every single day in July was hotter than the average here in Austin, I am fairly certain it wasn't just my tender snowflakeness which was causing me to melt. And maybe, just maybe, I predicted what will keep us all from dying.

Now which NFL player is going to give 110% for Team Humans?