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The park was nearly empty, a scenario I entertained regularly before puberty shifted my priorities. I didn’t have to wait in a single line, so I rode every coaster there…by myself. Seriously. Let’s deduct a few cool points and move along, shall we? Those things beat the cuss out of me–nothing new there. It just seemed to hurt more than it used to. They also scared me. That was the troubling part.

I guess I’m saying that running and the ability to run effectively can make you think time is of no great importance. That age and its effects have no power here.

But these roller coasters, these glorious wooden and steel beasts I once rode multiple times in a row without any hesitation had at some point become too much for me. Those kids and their rock and roll music, etc., etc.

Anyway, I don’t see this experince as a negative–more as reverence observed. Time is so ephemeral, yet so inescapable. Then again, maybe they’re just making those things bigger and meaner these days. And that’s why I closed my eyes soup-to-nuts for five of the six coasters I rode.

Age is good, according to a recent New York Times article, stress reaches its lowest point at age 85. That’s when happiness peaks, too. Maybe that’s why the chocolate tastes better than it did 25 years ago. Thank you for the life lesson, Hershey. That funnel cake wasn’t bad either.

A few months back I turned 35. That’s right, I’m no longer a viable consumer. Goodbye, 18-34 target-audience bracket. No longer will movies be made with my demographic in mind, nor will books be written that cater to my post-modern sensibilities.

Actually, turning 35 wasn’t a big deal–just like 30 wasn’t a big deal. But I have started to notice a thing or eight that didn’t seem to be “issues” before.

Case in point: my last family vacation. We took a trip to Hershey. And we did it like the high rollers we aren’t. We stayed in the famed Hershey Hotel–it took me a week or so to stop giggling when I read those words, too. Sneaking a poop joke past me is a tall order. But I had no option but to put aside my puerile observational humor as soon as we hit the lobby–just, wow. Simple, elegant, and chocolaty.

I hit the awesome gym, with its monogrammed towels and premium cable at every tredmill and elliptical machine. And my pace was pretty kick ass–rarefied air and all that I guess. So my 35 years weren’t a bother as far as my speed was concerned.

I was rather pleased with myself. I even thought I’d give the roller coasters at Hershey Park a go after my son conked out. Well, I was about 12 seconds into my first ride when Father Time sucker punched me.

To be continued…

OK, let’s pretend I wasn’t on the bench for four months and unable to write because I was feeling sorry for myself. We’ll start slow: Have you heard the latest scuttlebutt about cherries? Word on the street is…

The medicinal quality of the fruit comes from powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins that have anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect muscles and joints even before an athlete hits the pavement, thereby reducing post-exercise pain.

A study done at Oregon Health and Science University revealed runners who drank cherry juice twice a day for seven days prior to and on the day of a long-distance relay had significantly less muscle pain following the race than those who drank another fruit juice beverage.

So, this is all well and good, but something about cherries feels too feminine; you know? I understand not every cherry is a Maraschino, but still, why couldn’t baked potatoes be the next big thing in runner’s health? Studies show buttery spuds increase kidney function and promote weight loss resulting in a faster recovery rate. That’s what I want to read.

But berries seem to be where it’s at these days. I personally eat three tons of blueberries a week, and I may look like Veruca Salt, but I’ve never felt better. Here’s a few more berry benefits from Runner’s World:

Pain management and the ability to maximize muscle recovery starts before you even put on your shoes. I recommend tart cherry juice to my athletes because it is a natural, anti-inflammatory option that provides additional nutrition value such as antioxidants and carbohydrates.

Coping

You know he’s going to say it. You’re sitting there, under the florescent lights, in your underwear, your feet dangling over the edge of the examination table, clenching your teeth–waiting for the inevitable.

You’re going to need to take it easy for four to six weeks.

“So no running at all?” you ask, as man tears well up in your eyes. Those are vaporous droplets of moisture consisting of raw hide and Old Spice, in case you were wondering.

Then he adds: “No strenuous physical activity involving leg work at all.”

“Daaaaaaammmmmmmmnnnnnn!” you scream internally (I hope I screamed that internally, anyway).

So now the withdrawals begin. The first day’s a real doozy. You’re depressed, short-tempered, and despondent. You don’t see this as a much-needed break from the rigors of daily extended cardio. You see it as rehab a la Dr. Drew Pinsky’s hour-long MTV depravity sketches.

Those not in-the-know, typically aren’t aware running does more than make you svelte: It gets you high. A good long run can keep you fuzzy (in a good way) for hours… It’s addictive.

And hearing a doctor tell you you can’t get your fix, is like… well I already provided that analogy.

However, after the first few days of moping around in the ugly world of calorie restriction (another reason runners run), you realize it’s doable.

You see a physical therapist, he gives you some possible explanations for your injuries (IT band, runner’s knee, blah, blah, blah) one of which is the expensive insoles you bought at REI. We’ll talk about those torture devices at a later date. And you start a regimented, hourly, stretching routine

I’ll keep you posted.

MRIs are B-A-D

You know how bloggers apologize for taking a break? Stuff like: “One month without a post” or “I bet you were wondering what happened to me.” The reader’s response: ‘I had no idea you were gone.’ Which is probably the same sentiment anyone who reads this is going to have. And maybe my own forthcoming explanation is an attempt to sublimate some writer’s guilt, but I thought you deserved an excuse for my absence:

I’ve been out of commission for the past month or so. Here’s how the proverbial shiz went down. I was in a hurry one morning, and I tried to squeeze in a quick run before going to work. I must have taken those first couple of miles too fast, because by mile five I was breaking down. A new kind of pain dug its teeth into my knee and wouldn’t let go. I had to do that weird looking one-stiff-leg-run walk thing. Not very cool looking.

I didn’t let it bother me at first. I just stretched a bit when I got home — probably not a good idea — and went about my day… The pain got worse at work. It radiated outward from an area just south of the back of knee like a reactor meltdown. Chernobyl was happening in my leg. Stairs were the worst.

Fast forward three days. I’d made a few more ill-fated running attempts, each one more excruciating than the previous. I decided to do the unthinkable: rest for a few days.

That didn’t work either.

After whining to my wife about it for a week or so, medical advice seemed the obvious next step. I saw a nurse practitioner. She recommended an MRI.

If you’ve never had one, let me break it down for you: big cold sterile room, intimidating beige barrel with a digital display on the front, earplugs, and positively no reading material.

It’s like lying under a train for 60 minutes. Loud arrhythmic noises for an extended period of time. And the guy operating the thing is in a different room talking to you from behind a glass partition through a Hardee’s Intercom — which makes you feel real safe.

Anyway, an hour or so after crawling into that infernal contraption, I left the hospital with a CD-ROM and no instructions from anyone on what to do next.

I took it back to the nurse practitioner’s office. She wasn’t there of course.

Long story short, the torn ligament in my leg healed after an extended period of rest, and I was able to start running again.

I’d like to think I’ve learned something from this experience, but I can’t say I have. Other than I’m not fond of MRIs. Once again, I ignored the virtues that get most people through this kind of predicament (patience being one) and wound up grumpy. Wait a minute; is that learning?

But alas, I’m happy again. Don’t let my complaining fool you. I’m thrilled to be back out there.

Running Holidays

I’ve been sidelined for a few days: knee touble. My running fantasies grow more and more grandiose by the day. I came across this site; I kind of wish I hadn’t, because… wow.
Here’s how Run in the Sun describes its vacations for destination runners:

Our Running Breaks, cater for all levels of runner, although the majority of guests are Marathon Runners training for London, Paris or Berlin. Set on the warm Costa Blanca in Spain, one of the most beautiful coast lines of Europe, on the Mediterranean.

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

By Sunday, moon running’s going to be occupying my imagination.

Headphone hoopla

I was wrapping up a run the other day and my wife and two-year-old came strolling up the street. I didn’t see them, and because I wear Etymotic insulator earphones, I couldn’t hear them calling my name.

My son so enjoyed saying, “Ty, wait!” that he’s continued the practice–often at inopportune times, like when I answer the phone. I say hello and he says “Ty, wait!” in the background. Weird.

What I’m getting to, I guess, is the earphone thing. I know they’re dangerous. They obviously impair you, but man… they sure can smooth the edges out of long run. Let’s face it, after you’ve been running for a few years, the daunting part isn’t necessarily the mileage or the fatigue. It’s the boredom.

My hat’s off to those runners who can just get into it without their iPods– and just listen to the birds chirping. But it’s not just the birds chirping, is it? It’s the sirens, the jack hammers, the barking dogs, and the leaf blowers, too.

Banning headphones from organized races is a fairly pervasive practice, and lots of folks abide by these new rules. But no one’s going to arrest you if you don’t — or even disqualify you for that matter. And more and more runners are wising up.

It’s idiocy of course to defend sensory deprivation in a practice that so depends on having your wits about you, but somebody needs to stand up for the audiophiles (blogger knocks on wood).

Here’s a few races that’ll do more than look the other way; they actually pride themselves in their no “no headphone” policy.

* Austin Marathon
* Big-D Texas Marathon
* Dallas White Rock Marathon
* Des Moines Marathon
* Green Bay Marathon
* Lake Tahoe Marathon
* Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon (Anchorage)
* Melbourne and Beaches Marathon (Florida)
* Miami Marathon
* OC Marathon (California)
* Portland, Marathon (Oregon)
* Richmond Marathon
* San Francisco Marathon
* Surf City Marathon (Huntington Beach, California)
* Tucson Marathon

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