2020

A Meeting of Like Minds II (#7: Published in 1/25/20 RUN REPORT)

Familiar faces at another event

Saturday, the night before the Wineglass Marathon (10/6), I met BB and Christine to pick up the bib I couldn’t otherwise arrive early enough to get myself. I used the wineglass we got as a tchotchke in a toast of the race.

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t finish at the same time, but the race is small enough that special announcer Bart Yasso was effectively able to announce every runner as they finished. That meant that while I was recovering in pain and otherwise unable to attend visually to the finish line, I could hear when they both finished along with Heather Grace and rush over to congratulate and celebrate each one.

And to add icing to the cake, I, in turn, got congratulated and celebrated by SRCs Linda and Katrina. Lisa Marie and Kristy even lent their virtual support by GPS tracking everyone’s progress they could think of.

Misery loves company and adores familiar company. I adore each of you! Congratulations all you SRC Wineglass half and full racers!

CtCloser (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

A Meeting of Like Minds (#4, 11/9/19 RUN REPORT)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

I’m Terrible at Names (#8: Published in 2/8/20 RUN REPORT)

Perhaps true, but what kind of excuse is that?

A runner passed us at the Philadelphia Canoe Club who looked familiar to a couple of the Ambler Area Running Club members who also run with SRC. But neither knew his name. With a group the size of SRC, it’s as likely to happen here as there. I don’t know everyone’s name, especially folks I don’t see regularly, but I do make an effort to learn even if it sometimes means I have to ask a person’s name more than once. It happened to me this past week.

Memory being what it is, sometimes it takes a more than one ask: “I remember hearing your name last time, but I can’t remember it now.” “I really should know your name by now. I’m Calvin.” Sometimes it takes cheating: “What’s their name over there?” Sometimes it takes experimentation and gut instincts (which are usually more right than wrong), “Is your name…?”, which, of course, sometimes means you get the answer wrong. I have given up the one statement that gives me permission to stop bothering to try: “I’m terrible at names.”

What to Do If You Forget Someone’s Name

Normally I like to think I can generate a good line, but I especially liked the one that newbie Paul had for the occasional time that you do botch it: “It’s late.” I don’t know how it’ll work during the standard Shawmont morning run, but it should still get you one opportunity closer to learning the most important word to anyone—their own name. And I guarantee you’ll get appreciation for the effort.

-CtCloser (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and without surname: 2022’06’10’F]

 

Transitory Courtesy (#9: Published in 2/8/20 RUN REPORT)

Do unto SEPTA…

He was running up the sidewalk facing traffic as the SEPTA bus approached the runner from the other direction. The sound of scraping accompanied it as the bus reached the stop. A flattened box had kicked up and wedged into the back wheel well. The bus driver probably knew when he picked it up, but who knew how long it would stay back there. He wasn’t likely to get out to dislodge it.

The bus stopped at the intersection as the runner passed. He stopped too and reached for the box which came loose with a tug. He tossed it to the side. The driver clearly saw this act of unexpected altruism because there was a gentle bip of thanks from his horn as the bus pulled away again.

The runner was already on the move as he waved his acknowledgement without bothering to turn around. And they both went on their way.

-CtCloser (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

Frostbite 5 Miler (#10: Published in 2/29/20 RUN REPORT)

Accommodating a short race during marathon training

I read somewhere (never to be refound) that one strategy for squeezing a 5K into marathon training plan is to run the racecourse first to warm up, then to run the race, and finally to run the course a 3rd time to cool down. For the 2020 Frostbite 5, I initiated a plan to execute a version of that 3x strategy. I would hitch a ride with BB and hop out 5 miles away from Wissahickon High School, run the race, and have her drop me off 5 miles from home to cool down.

Betsy was happy to comply and I hopped out in Dresher running mostly on Susquehanna Road. Unexpectedly that meant a load of competitors who know me recognized me as they passed on the way over. I ran a fantastic race which means my marathon speed training is paying off.

All you passersby who saw me warming up and that I told I was cooling down by running back? I lied. I rode back the whole way with Betsy and accepted a 10-mile medium-length run for the day. It turns out that running a fantastic race leaves you kind of drained. But you all knew that.

-CtCloser (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F. Found article: 5 Tips for Including 5Ks in Marathon Training!]

 

Accidental Paradigm Shift (#11: Published in 3/7/20 RUN REPORT)

A change of scenery from the usual Saturday effort

With the pedestrian bridge out of commission at Ten Box since the 2/29 run, we’ve had to come up with a strategy for getting to the other side to get to the canoe club. Where are Boltcutter José and Jason when you need them? Heather Grace went online to see a map of Wissahickon Park and found a trail route that added a mere few hundredths to the distance.

I expected some Facebook Luddite of an SRC member (who might simply not have seen HG’s and my discussion) to correct us both when we showed up for the weekly morning run. To my amazement, no one had any idea how to bypass it. Heather Grace took the lead.

Since then we’ve taken multiple SRC-ers up the trails before the stone bridge, past Lovers’ Leap, and back down the other side. Yeah, one of the options is pretty narrow, steep, and rugged, but the view at the top is awesome. His first time JR crowed about the view and wondered why we had never done it before. Art laughed about us becoming trail runners. Well, until the bridge gets cleared for us, we are a now a bunch of scenery-soaking, trail-treading Shawmonters.

-CtCloser (Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

Ritualistic Failure (#12: Published in 3/14/20 RUN REPORT)

Habit forming around racing

So I left out some details from my last Rumination about the Frostbite 5 Miler. While BB Betsy was driving us to my warmup drop-off point, she asked where my bib was. Of course I’d left it at the foot of the bed. A call to my beloved at home generated a change in her morning plans (which didn’t include spectating) and an assurance that she’d get it to me before the start of the race.

The admission of my prerace gaffe with some SRC-ers after the race elicited from one: “Come on, you’ve run how many races that you forgot your bib?” And from another: “Why didn’t you pin it to your running shirt?” Which then elicited from me in return a sheepish: “I hadn’t decided what I was going to wear.” Well that then made me the target for being a race fashionista.

It was a silly mistake. It won’t happen again (fingers crossed) if for no other reason than so that no one will have an excuse to rib me. Either that or I’m just going to have to do a better job of not blabbing on myself.

-CtCloser (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

Hold on Loosely (#13: Published in 3/21/20 RUN REPORT)

Not so easy come, not so easy go

Last week I saw a colleague and runner friend at work. She works in a different building so we don’t see each other more than a few times a year. She looked the usual picture of both fitness and professionalism as we exchanged hellos. “Have you run lately?” I asked. She paused: “I haven’t run at all since I broke my back.”

She was on the road a few months ago when an abrupt pain in her back stopped her short. She didn’t know that an early diagnosis of osteopenia had become osteoporosis so advanced that a vertebra had collapsed. She experienced no paralysis or other long-term nerve damage, but she said she was told she could never run again. A rupture of normalcy that might as well be a death.

I’m thankful for the 8 years I’ve had running. And fortunately I’ve never had an injury that’s sidelined me for more than a couple of weeks. Others in the club have had to take longer hiatuses. My friend’s experience delivered a bitter dose of perspective.

There Will Come A Day When I Cannot Do This. Today Is Not That Day. –onemoremile.net car magnet

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and image: 2022’06’10’F]

 

2-second Rule in Translation (#14: Published in 3/28/20 RUN REPORT)

Sharing the road during pandemic times

The effort to provide appropriate social distance while running made me think of the 2-second rule for highway driving. During one earlier week on Forbidden Drive, I approached a few other runners from behind. Oncoming traffic didn’t permit me to pass them with the requisite 6′ clearance for everyone. I “turned off my running cruise control” and started walking until those oncoming passed. When they did, I “pulled into the left lane” and gave those now to my right plenty of space.

Though this didn’t seemed particularly difficult, I couldn’t help thinking of speeding drivers on the expressway. Running these days isn’t like rush hour, but I thought about what the path would be like if there were users on it who were in just too much of a rush to consider everyone else. A friend told me about being in the grocery store attempting to be socially distant there. They were amazed at the others who couldn’t extend the same courtesy as they brushed by.

It seems to me that both on highway and on running way it’s those who are looking out solely for their own selfish interests who imperil the rest of us. We can embody the greater part of humanity in both places.

-CtCloser (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

FBF: Official Favorite Race (#15: Published in 4/4/20 RUN REPORT)

More loving on familiar faces during races

I love races like Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon and Half (“A Meeting of Like Minds“) and other area events. Being a pretty social runner, it’s a joy to be with folks I know who will travel down to run. The 2019 Wineglass Marathon and Half (“A Meeting of Like Minds II“) were special for the number of folks from Shawmont and overlapping clubs that I know who ran both.

But those don’t hold a candle to the Frostbite 5 Miler, I’ve decided. I ran it for the 2nd time this February 2020 (1st time in 2016) and had a blast. It helps that I ran well, that it was a challenging but still sensible distance, and that it isn’t a huge race (the mild weather did swell the ranks this year a little, though).

From the moment I registered the night before, I saw people I know and love: There was Kristy organizing volunteers. Tom Mc was giving out shirts. Kelee was giving out bibs. I met Ira behind the registration table. Howard was hanging out. I even met a former Arcadia University student who remembered me.

And so many familiar people were on the course as marshalls: Dr. Ned, Alan B, Joanna, Mother Mary. Those are just the ones I noticed and remember. I didn’t see her, but Katrina saw me and took a pic that she texted me by the end of race day.

Not least were all the racers from our very own Shawmont Running Club as well as Elkins Park Beer Runners and Ambler Area Running Club (“CONGRATS-A-MUNDO TO ALL!”, 2/22/20 RUN REPORT). It couldn’t have been more fun if it was family. Wait, it WAS family!

-CtCloser (Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

Dressing for the Weather (#16: Published in 4/18/20 RUN REPORT)

Running has been bad for my personal insulation. I’m constantly cold, even in my own house. Just raising the thermostat isn’t the solution because I’m primarily sitting in one chair of one room during coronavirus-sheltering era. Besides that, I represent only 33% of the local population with the other 67% feeling a lot more comfortable as is.

With the mildness of spring extending my discomfort, I’ve just been experimenting with layering. But nothing had been enough to offset the clammy discomfort manifested in my fingertips, even up to 2 layers on the bottom (athletic pants and jeans) and 3 layers on top (t-shirt, long sleeves, running jacket).

The magic number, which finally turned out to be 2 more layers on top (another quilted top and a vest for 5, total) made me think of Quietman Tom who’s often observed that as long as his torso is well-layered, his legs can be pretty unprotected.* Well, warmer weather is nigh but it will be a while before I start complaining about the other extreme.

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
* Likeness of Quietman Tom used with permission of Quietman Tom who observes that he layers at home, too.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

High Hopes: Been There! Done That! (#17: Published in 4/25/20 RUN REPORT)

Report of a pandemic virtual marathon effort

This past Saturday, 4/25, I ran my alternate DE Marathon* and I DID AWESOME! If I do say so myself. Thanks to all of you who helped listen to my planning during SRC runs, who helped pace me variously, and who gave advice (Including for the altered course. Thanks, Katrina!). There were so many positives and no negatives.

1) A double-out-and-back course on the Schuylkill River Trail between Miquon Station and Norristown Transpo. AWESOME! 2) 3 enthusiastic support teams positioned at every tenth with water and carbs. AWESOME! 3) 55o and partly sunny conditions. AWESOME! 4) Race strategy with steadily increasing effort and a negative-split goal. AWESOME! 5) Final mile pace of 7:39. AWESOME! 6) Personal record by 4 minutes: 3:43:33! You get the idea.

I don’t know if I can hope to match that on the actual postponement date of 8/2, Sunday, but even if I don’t, we’ll always have SRT. And MapMyRun. The evidence is right there.

-CtCloser

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
* Here’s the set up: “High Hopes: Alternate Delaware Marathon

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

Sly Dog (#18: Published in 5/16/20 RUN REPORT)

A non-competitive ascent of Shawmont Avenue during COVID-19

CtC and Vel reached the bottom of Shawmont Avenue and launched themselves up.*† Thought CtC: Vel’s been running great. He PR-ed at Erie Marathon in fall. I’ve got to slow him down going up. Sly dog, I’ll get him monologuing.

“So Vel, are you getting more quality time with your wife these days?” Vel: “Oh yeah, we’re both working at home. Sometimes we have lunch together… (yadda-yadda… You know Vel;).”

“What kind of work does she do?” Vel: “Well, we’re in the same line of work… (blah-blah…).”

“How about your daughter? She’s pretty social in college. Being home must be killing her.” Vel: “It hasn’t been easy but she’s managing… (ad infinitum…).”

[Crest the top.] “Wow, Vel, I’ve never run an entire Shawmont Avenue side by side with anyone before. My devious strategy worked to slow you down by keeping you talking.” Vel: “Oh. That’s why I was keeping you talking.”

Sly dog.

-CtCloser

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
* Based on true events. Likenesses used with permission.
† See 5/2/2020 Run Report which says I did an on the trail 10. The personal notes say I did Shawmont Ave (after changing my mind)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

That’s Just Perfect (#19: Published in 5/23/20 RUN REPORT)

Learning to embrace imperfection

Perfection is a burden that I’ve slowly been offloading throughout my life. So the rainy conditions on Saturday for SRC made for a small victory when I didn’t show up. Fourteen miles is not a small amount to lose from a week’s worth of mileage. Fortunately, I knew nothing of Teddio’s sizable guilt trip because no one else chose to go to Forbidden Dr at 7:30 a.m. either. Yes, thunder, lightning, and C19 were contributing factors.

My 21-year-old baby girl and others of her generation have turned imperfection into a fashion statement. I was completely baffled the first time I discovered that her mismatched socks were not a function of practicality (The dryer ate the other one.) but were, instead, a deliberate act. Me: “You mean you have 2 identical fraternal pairs?”

When I got ready for bed that night, my wife looked at my feet and said admiringly, Nice pair of mismatched socks. As I closed out the day the way I started, with another bold statement of imperfection, I thought, ‘I, even I, can learn to do this.’

-CtCloser

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

Meanderings and Micro-morts (#20: Published in 5/30/20 RUN REPORT)

An atypical and stressful run (for one, in particular)

It was a decidedly adventurous run for the 6 stalwarts who did Shawmont Ave last Saturday, 5/30: CtCloser, BB Betsy, JimmyDee, Steve, Teddio, and Ying. They arrived at Main Street Manayunk to the sight of a fire truck blocking passage as a pedestrian came back towards them with the word that nobody was getting past. [Draft: BB Betsy confirmed.]

The 6 decided to take Pencoyd Bridge to the other side of the river upon the advice of 2 other runners who also said they could take the train bridge back again. Well, none had ever done that before, but it seemed easy enough.

Seemed. After searching for the way to get up to the train bridge and consulting with 2 more pedestrians, they finally figured it out. Then they had to traverse it. Sure it was set up with grating to accommodate pedestrians, but squeezing past the No Trespassing sign seemed a bad omen.

Earlier in the run, the coronavirus-tinged conversation had prompted Teddio to share a new word he had learned: a micro-mort; the chance out of a million that anyone will die at a given moment. Well, if perception is reality then Teddio was a goner. The grates were completely ineffective at blocking the view to the Schuylkill River a couple mega-feet down. He had to make Ying violate social distancing to help him across. [Original draft: It might have been an excuse to hold Ying’s hand, but it was pretty clear he was nearly paralyzed making his way across.] Given that it was Ying who had also twisted his arm in the first place to run Shawmont Ave instead of return back for an on-the-trail 13, that might have been justice of a sort.

Anyhoo (to channel Zen Yanni), with the inclusion of Shawmont Avenue, it’s always been more than just a run club. It’s always been an adventure.

-CtCloser “Negative split or positive splat”

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Based on true events. Likenesses used with permission.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’10’F]

 

Moving at the Speed of Traffic (#21: Published in 6/6/20 RUN REPORT)

Do you have any idea how fast you were going?

Every time I see the 7 MPH speed limit sign on the towpath in Manayunk, I feel compelled to figure out who are the offenders. During an actual Shawmont Running Club run, my mental faculties aren’t up to the task of translating that speed to a pace, after all, we’re usually in a group talking as we pass by it and I can only do about 2 things at the same time. [20200611R, previous version: My mental faculties aren’t up to the task of translating to pace since we’re usually in a group talking as we pass by it and I can only do about 2 things at the same time.] If one is running and the other is talking, then thinking is the exclusion.

At the moment of this writing, I’m doing neither. And I have a calculator which says that 7 MPH is 8.47 min/mile. The pace distribution across SRC runners definitely places some over that speed and some under. [20200611R, previous version: The pace distribution across the typical SRC runner certainly places some over that speed and some under.]

Of course it’s not us runners who are the main target for that sign. It’s the bicyclists. And given that we never actually pass them, even the children, I can say unequivocally: They’re speeding.

It’s time for some enforcin’, here.

-CtCloser “Negative split or positive splat”

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’11’S]

 

This Feels Different (#22: Self-published outside of 6/13/20 RUN REPORT)

Running While Black: George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery

A feeling of optimism that I’ve been taking from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations since George Floyd’s death comes from the sentiment I’ve heard more than once that these feel different. It helps that more non-blacks now recognize the systemic nature of racism and have felt compelled to participate.

Of course, “systemic” means “complex.” Systems are interwoven conditions, factors, relationships, processes, and more. As runners we are part of the complexity. So I appreciate Runners World for bringing attention to issues of runners and race. Check out “Local and National Running Groups Come Together to Run for Justice”* and this one from my friend Amon Gibson of RUNegades* whom I met at Elkins Park Beer Runners last year: “This Is Every Calculated Risk I Take When I Run”* which will make you think about looking both ways very differently.

I’m glad for the littlest things we do as runners, like say hi to every face on the trail–white, black, and in between (that might be someone more like me). The next step might be participating in a solidarity run (Thanks Greg Landry for the heads up* about #IRunWithMaud*. Runs are taking place monthly.) and directing some $ to an organization like the Color of Change* (endorsed by RUNegades).

* Links
#IRunWithMaud
Color of Change
Heads Up
Local and National Running Groups Come Together to Run for Justice
This is Every Calculated Risk I Take When I Run
RUNegades

-CtCloser “Negative split or positive splat”

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’11’S]

 

Conflict of Interest (#23: Published in 6/20/20 RUN REPORT)

Mixed signals during COVID-19 masking season

We encounter mixed signals all the time. For those of us who run SRC regularly, being mixed up is just par for the course. Case in point: Our favorite 10.5-mile way station.

Because business owners want to discourage possible malcontents from entering their establishments, we’ll give thumbs up for a “Do Not Enter with Mask or Hoodie” sign like the one that’s been on this door for ages.

Pick a door, any door

See pic in corresponding photo album: 5/30/2020, Saturday.

But what happens when COVID-19 threatens and businesses come out of red phase? Well of course you need people coming in to be wearing you-know-what’s over their noses and mouths.

The conundrum is when signs discouraging and encouraging masks are both on display simultaneously. The solution is very simple: Enter through the correct door!

-CtCloser “Negative split or positive splat”

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and picture embedded from link to Facebook album: 2022’06’12’U.]

 

For Better or for Worse (#24: Published in 6/27/20 RUN REPORT)

Accepting the good and bad in any one person

Everyone brings a little of themselves to Shawmont Running Club when they come. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Take note of Steve, the financial guy. Numbers and units mean something. So after my car key fell out of my pocket (zipper came unzipped!) and he volunteered everyone who finished on Andorra Rd to help look for a mile, he corrected me pointedly when I asked them to deliver: “A hundred yards! Yards!” Details, details.

On the other hand, 2 weeks later when I had to do a little more on the trail to round out my mileage and I thought I had a full 4 more, he also had me covered: “Just 3.6.”

Fortunately the key was a fobless one for the 2001 Echo I bought from BB Betsy, ‘cuz I never did find it. She did look for it during the intervening week when I couldn’t make it. And Steve helped her. Like so many SRCers, really; he’s okay.

-CtCloser “Negative split or positive splat”

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Based on true events. Likenesses used with permission.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’12’U]

 

Do the Due (#25: Published in 07/4/20 RUN REPORT)

Take pride in every running effort

When it comes to running I can be a bit of a metrist. That is, I’m all about the metrics of a run, particularly (like so many runners) the distance. And being an “ist” is just being someone who devotes attention, whether due or undue, to whatever the prefix is–think economist or elitist.

One particular SRC run, I was with my partner of the nonce engaging in the obligatory exchange of distances for the morning. I was doing my usual Shawmont, 14 miles. When I asked my partner their plan, they replied sheepishly, “I’m just doing 8.”

Well, I let ’em have it: “Don’t you ever apologize for the distance you run! Most Americans don’t even exercise regularly, much less run. And I know for a fact you’re an awesome [insert race distance of choice less than a Shawmont]-er.

This time my partner was sheepish for a different reason. The point is that anyone who exercises is awesome; runners even more so, no matter the distance. But that’s my prejudice. My contribution to running, aside from advocating for negative splitting every effort will hopefully be this: Do the due.

-CtCloser “Negative split or positive splat”

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Any similarity to real people might be purely coincidental.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’12’U]

 

Becoming a Duer (#26: Published in 7/11/20 RUN REPORT)

Take pride in every running effort II

When it comes to being a metrist (someone who pays attention to measurements), Lauren Fleshman’s RW article from 2014 “10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome” is seminal for me. Fleshman talks about having a conversation with an amateur marathoner on a plane trip (safely pre-COVID-19) after a competition she attended in Sydney. He says, “You know a lot about this stuff! You run marathons, too?” She replies, “Well, not really. Once. I race 5Ks mostly.” To which he replies, “Keep at it, you’ll get there.”

Lauren Fleshman is a columnist with Runner’s World (The Fast Life). If you don’t already know her name and creds, check out her RW profile to see that, as a competitive runner, she won the 5000m at the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2006 and 2010. That’s world class.

Paying attention to my –isms in a way that’s due, rather than undue, means getting to know other people and their stories not from the position of my experiences and convictions (which are, the more I learn, still incredibly limited and narrow) but theirs. So, when distance is the metric, or speed or # of years running, I’m learning to listen and celebrate rather than brag and judge.

How about experimenting with this statement: Oh, tell me about that.

Btw, that marathon Lauren ran? That was in 2011 at New York when she finished 12th. Yeah, take that Person-on-plane, times 2.

-CtCloser “Do the Due” “Negative split or positive splat”

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’12’U]

 

Running and Social Experimentation (#27: Published in 7/18/20 RUN REPORT)

How “hello” could be the start to so much more

If you run with me at SRC, expect me to interrupt our conversation with greetings to as many people as I can get in. You can often tell that people don’t expect it because of a subtle tone of surprise when they return my “Good morning.” Usually that tone also has a hint of pleasure, rather than irritation. I suppose I could be misinterpreting what I think I hear, but at least one other Shawmonter has confirmed for themself what I’ve observed.

It turns out that Vel says hi to as many people as I do. We compared notes during the 7/18, S run together. Most people simply won’t say anything on the trail, even if they see you regularly. Vel and I have both noticed that offering a greeting removes barriers. People to whom you regularly say hi will be more inclined to notice you the next times and initiate their own hellos. Vel’s met 2 Olympic marathon hopefuls who run the drive regularly. One missed the cut off this year by 19 seconds.

I especially love Vel’s account of seeing a few regulars for the first time off the trail when they gave him water at a station during the Philly Marathon. “Hey, Forbidden Drive!” one said, recognizing him immediately. The next time he saw them on the Drive, they exchanged names. Go, Vel! Humanizing relationships one greeting at a time.

-CtCloser “Negative split or positive splat”

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Based on true events. Likeness of Vel used with permission.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’12’U]

 

When in… Do As… (#28: Published in 7/25/20 RUN REPORT)

Treating other perspectives respectfully

The poor walker hugged the air on the side of the trail with a look of terror on their face as I approached while running on the other side. They waved me off desperately as I realized that they were reacting to the fact that I wasn’t wearing a mask. I was 10’ away in the great outdoors. There was no point questioning why they were even walking on the trail. I suppose they were asking themself why irresponsible people like me were threatening folks like them.

This isn’t about whether one must or need not, although I’ll go there if you want. It’s about living in community. As long as people aren’t deliberately coughing with intent to infect, I’ll let them be them. But to me, part of living in community means that I somehow appreciate people who think differently. So I’m cultivating the language of appreciation when people wear a mask and pass close to me, “Thanks for mask wearing!” and regret when I’ve forgotten mine, even when I’m more than socially distant, “Sorry. I’ll do better with my own mask.”

I see it as an extension of appreciation of behavior that is considerate, “Thanks for the heads up,” to bicyclists who announce their approach from behind. It works better, anyway, than calling people out. I don’t have to be Roman to do as the Romans do, whether I agree or not.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’12’U]

 

The Babe-ification of Language (#29: Published in 8/1/20 RUN REPORT)

Diminutives and affection

Why do people add a “y” sound to the end of a name (think Tommy or Katie)? The diminutive already makes the name informal (Tom from Thomas and Kate from Katherine). Adding the “y” sound makes the name childlike, doesn’t it? So why do we do it, especially with adults?

Other folks who have wondered the same thing seem equally uncertain. There’s not much etymological evidence. An internet search on “y at the end of a word diminutive” (no quotation marks) returns a top result from Stack Exchange (‘Origin of the “-y” or “-ie” diminutive suffix to denote intimacy/tenderness?’ by RegDwight on 16 Sept. 2010.). I particularly like one of the top discussion items in which the author presumes a connection to the Hebrew “i” suffix which denotes possession (by VWPoint on 24 June 2014). So “mommy” is “my mom” and “daddy” “my dad.”

What people do seem to agree is that adding the “y” denotes affection and familiarity. That’s on the delivery end, the end of the person using the moniker. On the receiving end, I would like to suggest that the acceptance means appreciation and trust. The recipient of the moniker trusts the speaker to use the nickname respectfully. Otherwise the name becomes one of condescension because the speaker is deliberately infantilizing the subject to assert power. Well, among us SRCers, I only hear familiarity and affection. So JimmyDee, Kenny Baby, Professor Sandy, and Teddio they are. On my end (say it respectfully) I am…

CalvyTheCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Btw, what did you think I meant by babe-ification?

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and text hyperlinks: 2022’06’12’U]

 

Logophilia (#30: Published in 8/8/20 RUN REPORT)

The use of language in the Ruminations of CtCloser

I love words. Maybe you’ve noticed.

From just my Rumination titles, you might have noticed that I like homophones: Becoming a Duer, Do the Due. I’m also a fan of alliteration: Meanderings and Micro-morts, A Meeting of Like Minds. I love reappropriation and double entendres: Conflict of Interest, Moving at the Speed of Traffic, That’s Just Perfect. And etymologies (oh yeah): Definition of Rumination, Transitory Courtesy. Then there are the 25c words: logophilia, condescension, infantilizing (last 2 from Babe-ification of Language).

If you want to revisit any of those, see the links in Fine Print after my signature.

There’s another subset of language that ranks right up there: malapropisms. These are words that are either near hits or misses (depending on your point of view) that get substituted for the intended choice, often to humorous effect. “Summertime is the season of love and marriage. Yep, it’s weeding season.” “Medication is so expensive these days. That’s why I always ask for the pharmacist for the genetic version.” My boss is a fount of them: “That’s when good things happen, when we’re all jiving.” “They’re not going to glob onto an idea like that.” (Hopefully you figured out that the intended words in those 4 sentences are wedding, generic, gibing, and glom.)

How about this one? “Running is for decompression. There’s so much time for ruination.” $teve the finance guy added this augmentative, because sometimes ruminations become flights of fancy: runimagination. It’s not a real word, but maybe it should be.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Likeness of $teve used with permission.

Becoming a Duer (homophones)
Do the Due (homophones)
Meanderings and Micro-morts (alliteration)
A Meeting of Like Minds (alliteration)
Conflict of Interest (reappropriation)
Moving at the Speed of Traffic (reappropriation)
That’s Just Perfect (double entendre)
Definition of Rumination (etymology)
Transitory Courtesy (etymology)
Babe-ification of Language (25c words)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and text hyperlinks: 2022’06’12’U]

 

Forbidden Drive as Technical Run (#31: Published in 8/15/20 RUN REPORT)

What Isaias hath wrought

When Storm Isaias arrived in Philly on August 4, runoff from the hills did some serious land transformation. Forbidden Drive down to and past Kitchens Bridge had its soft underbelly of river stone exposed from beneath the familiar gravel. At least one trail runner who has shown up to SRC since then has said, Yep, the Drive has gone technical. In my 8 years with the club, I myself have only ever run the trails twice. Well, since drive runners like me won’t go to the trails, it looks like the trails have decided to come down to the Drive.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and minor edit: 2022’06’13’M]

 

Xeno- Means Foreign (#32: Published in 8/22/20 RUN REPORT)

Where “foreign” is still an acceptable term

Spotted lantern flies have been a distraction for at least a month, now. Early on it was running past trees and trying to figure out what the adhesive strips on them were. Then it was watching the numbers of captive nymphs escalate. The next stage was seeing the older nymphs on the fence in the Abington Township park where BB Betsy and I run in summertime. Spotted-lantern-fly xenocide is addictive. Now that the sizable adults are actively flying around, the observant runner can hardly resist latent violent tendencies. The word from the run last Saturday is that one Shawmonter strained a body part lunging for victims.

Spotted lantern flies are a Chinese invasive species. They favor Trees of Heaven for their development: Another Chinese transplant. The pest-control strategy is to cut down the trees and aggressively kill the buggers. Socially acceptable xenophobia.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and minor edit: 2022’06’13’M]

 

Double Entendre (#33: Published in 8/29/20 RUN REPORT)

Watch your language when running with SRC

A double entendre is a word, phrase, or sentence that requires the listener to understand it in more than one way. Hailing from French, entendre means “to hear” and one of the meanings often seems to be sexually risqué (Those French!). There’s no reason it has to be so. Here are a few:

Green zone: A welcome but unimaginable COVID-19 stage. On the other hand: “Humid runs on Forbidden Drive are worst under the dense tree canopy; when you’re in the green zone.”*

Trailing: “Art’s trailing today.” “Uh, he’s been with us the whole time.” “Actually, he’s training for a virtual trail race with his son, he’s taking the Orange back.”

Passing: “Heads up. I’m passing.” “Thanks for that, but could you run over there? This is a no-methane zone.”

And a pun to close out: “We’re taking Eva back to Andorra.” “I’ll skip. I’m going back on Ridge.” “Well, it’s clearly time for you to give up your Eva ways.”*

Buh-bye

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
*Thanks to $teve. Likenesses of Art and $teve used with permission.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and minor edit: 2022’06’13’M]

 

Cultural Context: Abby Normal (#34: Published in 9/5/20 RUN REPORT)

Cultural references depend on the culture

Do you know that reference to Young Frankenstein? I didn’t, although clearly I would have if I’d actually seen the entire movie. According to Heather Grace, I really need to. (She called herself Abby Normal on one of our runs.) According to Dr. Ned, I do too. Yeah, Mel Brooks has that kind of cultural stature. But you’d only know that if you had some context.

If you landed in another culture how would you know that a movie or other cultural work is seminal (“a cult classic”) and why? Hopefully someone would be around to tell you. Sure you could google “Abby Normal,” but it’s not the same as understanding because you’ve seen his movies and heard people repeatedly reference them. (And how would you search that during a run?)

As someone who interacts with a lot of people who are not necessarily culturally-raised Americans, I pay attention to how they react when movie and other cultural references pop up. If I don’t see any indication of recognition, I’ll ask if they’re familiar and offer an explanation. Try it. “Do you know Mel Brooks, the comic movie producer?”

In my case, I said to Heather Grace, “Okay, I don’t know Abby Normal,” and got the explanation I needed, but otherwise you might be able to help someone who could really benefit from the cultural contextualizing you can offer.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and minor editing: 2022’06’13’M]

 

The Fineness of Fitness (#35: Published in 9/26/20 RUN REPORT)

Boo! Hooray!

Getting fit has done funny things for my body. Some less great, but others, more.

Since I started running in 2011, my thermoregulatory system has become exquisitely efficient. I used to break into a sweat like never, but now it’s not a stretch to say that the slightest exertion sets me up to shed heat through profuse perspiration. I am not kidding. I can soak my running wear with sweat like the best SRCers. Not so great while casually exerting myself wearing a suit at work (pre-C19).

On the other hand, recently I started doing weight training. Since I’ve known for years that my muscle mass has steadily been decreasing, it seemed worthwhile to try to reverse this normal physiological aging process. (Besides, who will argue that strengthening arms and shoulder doesn’t help running, too?) Wha’d’ya know, I recently discovered that my armpits have been getting deeper. Think about it. The pects in front are increasing in size. And the lats in back are doing the same. Voilà, deeper pits! Seriously, how great is that?

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. ¶See also Monsoon Metamorphosis (#56)

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and reference link to supplemental Rumination: 2022’06’13’M]

 

I’ll Drink to That (#36: Published in 10/3/20 RUN REPORT)

No enhancement required for CtCloser to generate a Rumination

The editor of Run Report has wondered on occasion if the writer of this segment has spiked his recovery drink. It seems that more than one Rumination has come across as if it were the product of an, uh, enhanced imagination. The answer is “no”; no enhancement has been necessary. But the question has led this professional informationist (read academic librarian) to do some research. While it is possible to ferment Gatorade, the product is, ostensibly, not very tasty. But using it as an ingredient in mixed drinks does seem to be compelling. Try doing a search in your fave search engine on “Gatorade cocktails” (no quotes). There’s no shortage of recipes based on the variety of available flavors. Maybe with one of these drinks as a catalyst, we would see where these Ruminations really could go.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wäng, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]

 

Let’s Agree to Disagree (#37: Published in 10/10/20 RUN REPORT)

Who’s talking about politics?

I don’t use a smartwatch to track my running. (I’m a little weird that way.) Instead, I use my smartphone with MapMyRun and Strava apps. Before I started using those, I used MapMyRun to map my run routes and my dumbwatch to time quarters (or close approximations). (I’m also weird about my affinity for measuring quarters.)

What’s crazy is the deviation in distances that each option delivers. The MapMyRun app consistently measures distances shorter than the Strava app over the exact same course and time period; using the same smartphone! MapMyRun’s running app even deviates from its own website route-mapped distance: also consistently shorter.

I have enough trouble trying to make sense of the difference between MapMyRun’s and Strava’s apps, but the same platform, MapMyRun? Please. Is that like members of the same political party having different opinions about the same issues? (Oops. Prerequisite for writing a Rumination: No politics. I say it’s debatable. ‘K, gotta fly.)

-CtCloser with $teve #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wäng, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]

 

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (#38: Published in 10/17/20 RUN REPORT)

People and Places

After 7 month of coronavirus sheltering and with no end in sight, SRC is a more, um, compact group. Members are still running; they’re just doing it in permutations of the former whole. If you can find them to join, doing so can add variety to a Saturday morning.

For the 10/17 group run, I joined the North Wales cohort with Tina, Kelee, and Rakhi (and Kaycee when she’s not in Boston) and which is anchored by Christine. That provided opportunities to get to know folks that I’ve said hi to but otherwise never really gotten to know. (You’d probably never guess that I’m a social runner: It’s all about the community! Well, and a little bit of competition:D) The experience speaks to the adage that “variety is the spice of life.” But changing things up also makes you appreciate the familiar. Sure North Wales terrain has its variety, but there’s nothing quite like Shawmont Avenue.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]

 

Of Reptiles and Runners (#39: Published in 10/31/20 RUN REPORT)

We’re really not so different from each other

Fall-like weather fell upon Shawmont Running Club in the middle of September. On one particular run, we stopped more briefly at each of our usual way stations. And after finishing our ascent of Shawmont Ave when we convened at Roxy gas minimart, we warmed ourselves in the sun. Jimmy Dee observed that 3 weeks before we had been at the same location cooling ourselves in the shade. The difference in temperature was 30°—from 80° to 50°.

Reptiles also regulate their temperature by resting in the shade when it’s hot out and sunning themselves when it’s cool. And it’s not a stretch to say that some runners are cold-blooded when it comes to competition. Come to think of it, given how difficult it is to catch a creature like a lizard, the comparison is a compliment. On the other hand, turtles are also reptiles.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]

 

The End of the Season (#40: Published in 11/7/20 RUN REPORT)

Politics again?!

Running down Forbidden Drive, I was chatting up the SRC North Wales contingent who were making their regular showing at the Wissahickon. I was just ahead of them with Ying on my left. Having finished, I switched gears to chat w her. But it now felt like I was crowding the runners behind us, so I squoze in between them all and her and popped up on her other side where no one was following. As I started talking, she looked at me, startled, and said, “What are you doing? You were just on my other side.” I answered her the only sensible way: “Well, you were just too far to the left. I went to the extreme left so that I could push you more to the right. You needed to take a more centrist position.” She laughed. Then we dove into a conversation about Chinese cinema, because what else is there to talk about now that the election is over?

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Based on true events.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]

 

Easy to Entice (#41: Published in 11/14/20 RUN REPORT)

Some adults are such suckers

I must be a sucker because I’ve been enticed a couple of times recently to provide race support, gratis. When KayCee did her virtual Boston back in September, I asked if she wanted help running. “Well, sure!” came the reply. Many, many thanks later, I felt duly appreciated and more than happy to contribute. And then I also got oatmeal scotchies! I LUV oatmeal cookies and hers made with butterscotch pieces and an extra helping of gratitude were icing on the cake. So to speak.

Then a new running bud from Jenkintown Running Company’s Growlers Group Run mentioned the October Valley Forge half marathon, LIVE. And they, too, accepted the offer for race support. Along with equal appreciation, the pleasure of being among runners competing was satisfaction enough. Since I was technically banditing (open course!), I refused to take any of the race support accoutrements. When bud offered their beer, I balked. But they insisted by saying that they paid for it and weren’t going to drink it otherwise.

Some simple thanks, cookies, and beer? I am easy to entice. And no, I was never kidnapped as a child.

Fine Print
Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]

 

Variety is the Seasonal Pumpkin Spice of Life (#42: Published in 11/21/20 RUN REPORT)

On absence and fondness

Maybe it’s COVID fatigue or just the nice weather in the latter half of November, but the Also Seens at the 11/21 run!

At the start, MattManDu and Bumpy—already halfway through a 10-miler—were hanging out with Kenny Baby before they took off again. The latter ran with us to the 5-mile mark before returning with Teddio. Prof Sandy “parachuted” into the run on the Drive. Then we saw Tall Dave (whom I’ve seen only 1 other time since sheltering began 8 months ago). Seito was doing something like a Tony Manor when we crossed paths. Vel passed on Main St in Manayunk doing 20. Then, Quietman Tom arrived on Shawmont Ave as we left Roxy gas mini-mart and joined us running Eva Rd. When we finished on Northwestern, Ariel flew by and Lady Jennifer, JR, Lakshmi, Louise, and Sheila materialized after doing something together somewhere. Finally, I found one of the subjects of my 11/14 Rumination (Valley Forge Half Marathon—still a stranger to SRC, but someday…!) at The Cedars House.

I missed the 11/7 run, but the report also lists Boltcutter (unseen to me since before sheltering started), Dr. Ned, and veterans I haven’t even met yet. Sigh. If you closed your eyes, you could almost pretend everything’s normal. Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]

 

One for the Books (#43: Published in 12/5/20 RUN REPORT)

Is this that Saturday group run?

Last Saturday at Shawmont Running Club was special for so many reasons. I got some quality time to socialize with faithful (yay!) attendance-taker Teddio. That also included a chance to socialize with neighborhood-mayor Faith at length. Then there was a leisurely start in violation of the group rule (“We wait 5 minutes (not 6) for late-arrivals before taking off.): How about 6 minutes plus 10?! Then there was the run time with fave Professor Sandy who dropped onto the drive from below and doubled back to the 3.5-mi mark. We 2 stopped and chatted with Also-seens Gerard, Lakshmi, Louise, and Sheila. Sadly Louise had just turned her ankle and the rest were walking her back from just shy of Bell’s Mill. From the 3.5 mark was the minimal zero-velocity time for the rest of the traditional, 14-mile run up Shawmont Ave and back on Andorra Rd. What made this all uniquely(?) possible was the distinction of being the Sole runner. That ONE is in the Run Report.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]

 

I Run for Health Reasons, -Ish (#44: Published in “12/12/20 RUN REPORT)

For all the exercising I do, why, exactly, isn’t my health perfect?

Do other runners have health problems? I’m not talking about injuries. We expect those. I’m talking about things like high cholesterol and diabetes. If exercise is an important part of healthfulness, then what’s with health issues like these? The sample population is small, but Ying1(^1) and I were comparing notes. We both have higher total cholesterol levels. Come on, we move more than effectively every other American and we have healthy diets. (Fine, you can throw in genetics and heritability, but remember, this is a rumination, not a debate.)

¶And diabetes. My A1C is now in the prediabetes range. My doctor said she won’t ask me to exercise more but told me to watch my diet. Ying1’s recommendation is bitter-melon tea (There’s evidence!^2). Well with pre-diabetes, it turns out, Asians are prone to higher numbers than whites after factoring out all the things that commonly affect A1C levels^3. So I really might not be prediabetic. Which is great because you have to know bitter melon to understand the Chinese parental sentiment to stop complaining and eat it because it’s good for you.

¶I think for all the work runners do our health should be perfect^4. Please complete the attached HIPAA form requiring Ying1’s and my permission to disclose this private health information to anyone else.

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. ¶Based on true events. Details used with permission.
^1 New nickname! After Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. No, there’s no other Ying, but we’ll be ready if there ever is!
^2 Bitter melon and diabetes. Diabetes.co.uk. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/natural-therapies/bitter-melon.html. Published January 15, 2019. Accessed December 12, 2020.
^3 Herman WH, Yong M, Haffner S, et al. Differences in A1C by race and ethnicity among patients with impaired glucose tolerance in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Diabetes Care. 2007 Oct;30(10),2453-7. doi: 10.2337/dc06-2003. Epub 2007 May 29. PMID: 17536077; PMCID: PMC2373980.
^4 Reynolds G. 11 minutes of exercise a day may help counter the effects of sitting. The New York Times. 11 Minutes of Exercise a Day May Help Counter the Effects of Sitting. Published December 2, 2020. Accessed December 12, 2020.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption and hyperlinks: 2022’06’13’M]

 

The Longest Year in History (#45: Published in 12/26/20 RUN REPORT)

It sure felt like it

The title of this Rumination might not be an astronomical fact, but it might absolutely be an emotional one. Factor in a difficult transition to lockdown status and conversion to virtual work (when even possible), coupled with economic and financial uncertainly, social strife, climate calamity (etc., ad nauseum) or even the possibility of C19 medical adversity and one must conclude that the only direction to go in 2021 is up. Considering all that, the impact of C19 on your running plans might well be the least of anyone’s concerns. Happily, there’s plenty of evidence that club members adapted to the necessary changes, myself included. Happily, also, the outlook is starting to brighten with the development, approval, distribution, and administration of vaccinations. Well, looking at the calendar may not reveal the scheduled conclusion of this pandemic, but it will reveal the events that can be scheduled. I now have the 4/25 Delaware Marathon on mine. (ONE event. JustGene, I’m not.) Time will tell if it will be live or virtual, but its very appearance is evidence that we all do the best we can all the time by just moving forward. Isn’t that the definition of running?

-CtCloser #negativesplitorpositivesplat #dothedue

Fine Print
Calvin Wang (Wäng), CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

[Original version in Facebook. Republished with caption: 2022’06’13’M]