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Archive for November, 2009

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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What happens to those brilliant ideas I come up with during long runs? Just where do they go? Somewhere between the shower and the ride to work, they float away–like that feather in Forrest Gump. feather on pond

I know I’m not alone on this one. I think we’re all capable of complex problem solving and creative epiphany. I just need to know how Jonas Salk, Issac Newton, Christopher Guest, and Umberto Eco managed to get pen to paper before those ideas of theirs snuck off — to the soft, fuzzy, inaccessible parts of their brains.

I’m convinced there’s another me –a brilliant, creative auteur, who only makes his presence known during that cardio induced zone of clarity I fall in somewhere between the fourth and fifth mile. I’m pretty sure he perfected the lithium-ion car battery a couple of weeks ago, then I took over in the shower, and well… The amazing idea was gone. Is he cooler than me? I’m sure he’s smarter. There’s a lot to be jealous of. But I envy him most for his uncanny ability to access that elusive, ever-expanding grocery list and things-to-do compendium that consistently escapes me.

Obviously the problem lies in our paychecks. No one pays us to design the perfect remote control or the next big T-shirt. We can’t all be the Fido Dido guy. Sorry — obscure Dennis Milleresque reference. I guess what I’m saying is: Where’s the motivation to remember these ideas (if they are in fact brilliant)?

They could be just as mundane as the rest of my thoughts, and I’m too hopped up on endorphins when I’m running to see the similarities. Nahhhh, they’re earth shakingly good: I’m certain of it. Back to my theory.

There are too many things going on in any given 24-hour period to focus on innovative thought. Any of the following can stop an epiphany like the iPhone or spray tanning dead in its tracks: work, daycare, dishes, personal hygiene, car repair… Did I mention dishes? Unless you’re getting paid to think creatively, you’re not going to act on your ideas.

My Dad carries around a pen and series of running lists — little index cards and old receipts spilling out of his shirt pocket. I’ve never thought to ask him if he has the same problem I do with ephemeral conceptions. Hopefully, he’ll read this and give me an answer, because the thought of asking him is already sashaying off to that soft, fuzzy, inaccessible part of my brain.

Maybe I’ll start running with a Dictaphone.

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