Category Archives: Digressions

Worst. Parade. Ever.

I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach this weekend. I have run this race before, but it has been 9 years since the last time I ran down the boardwalk to that finish line.

Now I remember why.

To say that this weekend’s race did not go as planned is an understatement. It was not a complete disaster – I finished, which makes it a success, at least at the lowest level. And my family and I got to spend a fun weekend with an old friend who came into town from the Left Coast to run this race with us. That made it worth it, no matter how the actual event unfolded.

The run itself was fraught with unexpected events that reduced me to a runner/runner-walker/very-slow-walker quite quickly. Let’s just say that things happened that have never happened to me whilst running and leave it at that. The advice I’ve read in running magazines is to recognize what went wrong, learn from it, and move on to the next race. That is what I will do.

I did, however, have some insights while running/walking/almost crawling my way along the 13.1 (do not forget that .1, it is the most painful part!) mile course and I thought I’d share them here:

  • Humidity is evil. It really, REALLY, messes with you and if you don’t believe me, read this article from Runner’s WorldThe humidity was above 70% so even when the temperature was in the 70s -80s, it easily felt like nearly 100 degrees. Oh yeah, and this was at 7 a.m.!
  • PowerBar makes a tasty cola-flavored energy chew. Tasted kinda like one of my favorite candy treats – Gummy Cola Bottles.
  • “Play that Funky Music” is a great song to run to and get a crowd going. The race had a bunch of bands playing songs as we ran by and only this song inspired a sing-along amongst runners around me. We did hear it relatively early on, so that may have been a factor, but hearing a group of people running down the street belting out “lay down the boogie and play that funky music ’til you die” all together was funny.
  • By the end of the race, nobody is singing anything.
  • Elite runners are really fast. And really skinny. Did I mention fast?
  • There are a lot of funny t-shirts about running that you can find at the race expo. Some of my favorites – “Please let there be someone behind me to read this.”; “Will run for wine.”; “Training for the Zombie Apocalypse.”; “I love running. Just not when I’m doing it.”
  • Pride will get you quite far. No matter how badly I felt, I had one final goal – to run across that finish line. And I did.
  • I need flashier running gear. There are a lot of colorful, crazy clothes and shoes out there and I am quite boring by comparison.
  • What I do not need is a skirt, tutu, tiara, or cape. Running with those things on would drive me insane.
  • There are some people with sick senses of humor cheering at races. They yell funny/stupid things and hold up clever signs. One inspired the title of this post. Another read “Where’s everyone going?” Ha ha ha.
  • No matter how bad things may have gone, I know that I will race again. I run. I’ve run for most of my life. Running is my quiet time, my sanity-saver, my health-preserver. And racing gives me a goal. I can’t give it up anymore than I can give up eating. And just like how I go back to eating after a bout of food poisoning, I will go back to running after a bout of crappy-run. Because that is what I do.

As I tell myself while slogging out those miles, “Just keep swimming.”

Blue Tang

Heat, Humidity… Bring on the Ice!

Devil

The only guy pleased to be outside around here.

It’s hot outside. Not hot, like warm mid-summer day, but hot like, well, like blazing, stifling, draining, soul-sucking hot. Temps are in the mid- to upper-90s with excessive humidity and resulting heat indices of 105-110. These days are best spent inside a nice cool place with icy drinks and as little movement as possible.

Or, you can go out for a run.

I’m training for a half marathon later this summer so I have to get my miles in. And since it will likely be hot and humid at the race (east coast southern beach location – enough said), I need to get “acclimated.”

If that is possible.

So far, it has proven to be much harder than usual to get used to running out there. My legs are like lead, my miles are slow, and my clothing is constantly soaked through. I’ve been trying to be creative – running on the treadmill for way longer than I ever want to again, combining outside runs with treadmill runs to reach mileage or time targets, getting up early to run before the real heat of the day, drinking water, gatorade, and water-gatorade mixes along the way. It’s helping but I still can’t say that I’ve had a decent run.

A new idea came to me today while lying in bed recovering from my long run (another side effect – I am wiped out the rest of the day; damn you heat!). My son has some on-ice training sessions coming up – perhaps some laps around the rink while he is practicing? I wonder how many laps around the rink make up a mile?

I might even have to break out the winter running gear. The thought makes me giddy. Bring on the ice!!

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A Culture Thing?

A friend posted an article on Facebook today that has me shaking my head. The article, from Deadspin, is about a DC-area lacrosse coach who, if the emails included in the article are true, is frightening, if not worse. In a nutshell, an 8th grade player decided to leave this coach’s program for another league. Upon hearing of this decision, the coach lost his mind and expended all of his rage at this child and the child’s parents. Let’s just say it was ugly.

And completely inappropriate, no matter what the “real” backstory might be.

What really freaked me out about this, besides how absolutely scary this guy seems from his emails, is that my son has friends who play for that organization. Boys that my son played with this spring also play for this other team.

I have posted previously about some of the experiences my son had while playing lacrosse. He has since sworn off the game and I can’t say I’m at all torn up about that. Particularly after I read more about the coach in question in the article. To be honest, I was not thrilled with what I considered the culture of the lacrosse team from pretty much the first practice. Something just bugged me and I couldn’t shake it. There was too much yelling from the coaches, for one. And what I mean by that is useless screaming without giving actual direction that might help the player make better decisions. There was also a lot of criticism being exchanged between players during practices and games. Again, not helpful stuff and not coming from players who were stars or got it right a lot. Kids who made a lot of mistakes had this idea that they were coaches and basically bossed teammates around. Overall, I just did not get a good vibe from the sidelines.

Maybe my son has just been lucky, or maybe there really is a difference between sports, but he has not experienced this kind of behavior playing hockey. He said himself that hockey is more a team and that teammates support each other and help each other out. That has certainly been true on his teams thus far. There is more community out there on the ice than I ever detected on the lacrosse field. And while I am sure that there are hockey coaches out there like this lacrosse guy, we have been fortunate not to have come across them yet. It just seems telling to me that my son has played hockey for over 3 years and has been on multiple teams at multiple rinks with multiple coaches and we’ve not encountered anyone too nutty yet he played lacrosse once on one team with one set of coaches and things went downhill quickly. I just have to wonder how systemic the problem is with lacrosse for it to appear right away like that.

Thankfully, my son has no interest in playing lacrosse again so we won’t have to deal with it from there. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we continue to have good luck on the ice with supportive teammates and constructive coaching.

To me, that’s worth stocking up on wool socks and warm gloves year-round.

mittens

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An Academy Award Performance

I had a soccer game last night and it has gotten me thinking not about goals or passes or saves or even throw-ins. It got me thinking about dives.

I found this definition on Wikipedia (a source I will not allow my students to use as a resource but I feel in no way hypocritical for using it here) – In football (soccer)diving (simulation is the term used by FIFASchwalbe (German) is a popular term) is an attempt by a player to gain an unfair advantage by diving to the ground and possibly feigning an injury, to appear as if a foul has been committed.

Now I have heard many people complain about all the diving and theatrics in professional soccer and some won’t watch it because it is so bad. I agree – it is way too prevalent and I do think it diminishes the game a lot. But even at the coed recreational old people league, there are those who use the dive and use it all the time.

Midair dive

Look! He hit me from behind and then ran in front and pushed me and I fell down.

I hate these people.

Last night a guy on the other team completely faked a takedown in the box and ended up earning a penalty kick. For those of you who don’t know, penalty kicks, or PKs, are very hard to stop and often result in a goal. So we were down 1-0 and this guy got positive reinforcement for cheating. He had, just prior to this acting gig, tried to accuse me of tripping him. We both went for the ball and we both got there at the same time. Somehow, he fell and kicked me in the knees on his way down. The ref did not call anything but this guy was on the ground a few yards from me like I had laid the best NFL tackle on him and then stomped on his chest, just for good measure. Now, I can be aggressive and I do admit to knocking down that chick later in the game (she was in my way, in my defense), but I did not touch that guy. I shoulda known that he’d pull it again (and again and again).

This doesn’t just happen in soccer, but also in hockey and probably in most other contact sports. Maybe it even happens in baseball, although I’m not sure what advantage it might give you there. And while I get that a good dive can result in a penalty that will give your team an advantage, I just don’t know how these divers can feel at all good about themselves or think they earned any goals or points they may get as a result. Because really, it is cheating.

Of course, maybe I am just jealous since I can’t dive if my life depended on it. First, I really don’t want to fall on the turf – have you ever had turf burn? Hurts like hell. Second, I freakin’ want the ball so if you do run into me or try to knock me down, I do everything I can to stay on my feet and get that ball (and if you had tried to hit me, I may also offer a little payback as I get near you, but you did it first!). And lastly, I don’t have much on the pitch, but I do have my pride. And diving/cheating would take that away, too.

Or maybe it’s that I don’t have any acting skills and any attempt to get away with anything like that would likely result in me looking really foolish. Acting lessons might help. I’ll have to give that some consideration. And then prepare my acceptance speech.

“I’d like to thank the Academy…”

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Oh no he didn’t

Today I am biting my lip and restraining my email fingers (but thank goodness I have this blog on which to vent). My son is learning to play lacrosse goalie and he’s doing okay. Of course, I really can’t say I see the point of having a goalie in that game sometimes, the way players just sprint up to two feet in front of the goal and whip it in the net. But I’ll save that for another post.

What is burning me up right now is what my son told me his teammate (and good friend, I might add) said to him during the game today. I saw this teammate talking with my son a couple of times after he was scored upon. So I asked him what this friend was saying, figuring maybe they were talking defense or discussing how to stop those guys from shooting. No, it turns out this teammate was being oh-so-helpful by saying things like, “That was an easy shot, you should have stopped it.”

Small scream

Seriously, there is little in this world that irks me more than this kind of crap. I can’t stand it when I mess up a pass in my soccer game and a teammate yells at me for it – thanks, but I am well aware that I screwed up and I don’t need you to point it out. And while we’re at it, when you play a perfect game without any flubs or missteps, we can discuss whether or not you have the right to call me or any of the rest of us out.

Ok, so maybe that has happened to me once or twice in my life. Deep breath…

Back to my son’s game – am I wrong or is it totally inappropriate for this 10-year old to say things like that to a teammate? I don’t know or care if my son did make a bad save attempt or not. In my mind, the proper response is one of the following:

A. Unlucky
B. Sorry, that was my man
C. Next time
D. say nothing at all

I am now trying very hard not to step in and say something to the coach and this kid’s parents, whom I happen to know pretty well. I have talked to my son about how this is not acceptable and am coaching him on how to respond the next time (because I am sure there will be a next time). I have given him permission to look this kid straight in the eye and say “Shut up!” If he were older, I’d encourage him to add a choice word or two in between the “shut” and the “up” but, for now, I am keeping it clean. And if his buddy persists, I told him he should hand his goalie stick over him and say “go ahead and show me how it’s done.”

I have always believed that participating in sports is a great way to learn life lessons. The lesson here, I suppose, is that we really should all be trying to support each other, not criticize and bring each other down. No one is perfect, no one does everything right every time, no one makes all the saves. And there are coaches and teachers and bosses and parents to let us know when we do make a mistake and how we can fix it. Colleagues, classmates, and teammates, who are all in this together, should work to build each other up and be a stronger unit. Not drag each other down.

Another deep breath. I will let my son fight this battle. And his dad and I will be sure he knows we always have his back.

But man, just let me hear something like that…. all bets are off then.

 

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