So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Introspection Blues - or - Oops I Did It Again

“This is for me the essence of true romance. Sharing the things we know & love with those of my kind. Libations, sensations that stagger the mind.” – ‘Deacon Blues’, Steely Dan (1977)
Well, I talked about the fact in past years I’ve become introspective (some say moody) during the month of September, taking stock of accomplishments. Part of it could be because of some latent religious belief, some of it is the end of the federal government’s fiscal year. It may also have to do with several birthdays that occur within that time frame. I didn’t spend that much emotional coin on introspection (as I was saying) until after a swim in the sound & a quick bike ride the other weekend ago. All I could think of was old Steely Dan songs & the perfect environment for listening to them, which seemed to be that particular morning. Oops, I did it again.
I ran in fewer local road races this past year, which made many locals ask whether I was injured. This was so during the first three or four months because of the achilles’ tendon injury from almost a year ago, but I am almost out of the woods; well, except for the run/bike/run workout the other weekend which quickly turned into a run/bike. I would have hammered through in the past to prove how much of an animal I am, but now I’d like to say I don’t care what everyone’s opinion is of me. It’s not completely true, but it’s getting there.
It’s a different perspective being on the sideline, standing on a street corner, writing workout routines, working a finish chute, handing out cups of water or sports drink, or helping to produce an event from the ground-up. When you're injured it's a complete & utter b!tch, but when you're healthy & you can make the decision to not race it's sometimes enlightening.
While it’s important as a racer to get your face (or singlet, if you represent a team or sponsor) noticed in the crowd; to earn that hardware at a local (regional, national) race, the time a runner has as a racer is fleetingly brief. If they’re wise they realize this truth before the first major injury comes & learn to adjust their perspective on “this running thing.” That truth: Participation is key. The goal is to not become, in the words of John Parker, Jr., Once A Runner. It’s more important to be able to get up early on a weekend morning, when sunlight is golden & air is comfortable, & spend some time engaging in bipedal locomotion with a handful of friends. (My friends Betsy & Aaron & the 5:20 Club reminded me of that truth.) I’m not certain whether it’s the run or the post-run activity that makes it special; something as planned as coffee & breakfast at a restaurant or as simple as standing around dripping puddles of well-earned sweat on a parking lot while drinking sports drink & shooting the breeze. Ask me in a year & I might be able to tell you more.
Now, a question from one of my athletes...
I’ve been toting my plastic bottle with my energy drink to the track all summer. Now I read that some of the ingredients in plastic bottles may cause health problems. Any recommendations?
Stop reading; you have nothing to fear but fear itself. Well, not quite. It’s not what your bottle is made of, but what can grow out of the warm, damp sugary stuff left inside that is more likely to cause health problems. To minimize the risk:
1. Keep your bottle clean. Rinse the bottle out with water after you are done with your workout & before you toss it into your warm automobile. You’ll forget to bring the bottle from the car; I do it all of the time. This way, all you’ll have in the bottle when you remember it the next morning is a bit of warm water, not a high-school science project gone wrong. And when you clean the bottle, use a bottle brush & warm, soapy water.
2. Purchase a Nalgene (or aluminum) bottle. Nalgene is break-resistant, easy to clean and doesn’t have any chemicals that will leach into your drink. The aluminum bottles are also lined so your fluid tastes like fluid. Both types of bottles are a little pricey but last a long time, so you won’t feel guilty about filling the landfill with plastic.
3. Replace your bottles regularly. Don’t get sentimentally attached to that bottle you got at an event two years ago. If you’re using your bottles strictly at the track or to stash on the course for Sunday long runs, buy inexpensive ones. Good bike bottles are a little more expensive because they’re built to withstand the rigors of riding & the potential for drops. Those of you who do long distance triathlons can get rid of the oldest bottles out on the bike course, at an aid station; anywhere else will get you penalized for abandoning equipment. You’ll find (reputable) sellers on eBay (if you need to find one, ask me) who sell bottles in cases of 12 or 24. A case for 20 bucks, including shipping, is a sure cure to keeping a bottle beyond its useful life.
So now I’ve done you a favor & provided an item you can put on every runner’s birthday or holiday gift list, except for me. I already have a case of bottles, thanks.

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