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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.

facebook_movieJohns Hopkins’ Homewood campus is doubling for Harvard today. A movie about Facebook called “Social Network” is using its paths of erudition — for a day or two, anyway. No complaints here — well one maybe. I’m sure the story of Mark Zuckerberg — the guy behind Facebook, is an interesting one. But it feels weird, like the movie’s actually about Facebook.

It’s kind of like making a movie about Mountain Dew or Trident. I understand the ins and outs of multi-tiered advertising campaigns and media saturation. I also understand this is a biopic. But it feels like the lead in this film should be a character named, Facebook.

He’d go around making friend suggestions, weighing in on status updates, and tricking you into looking at him when you’re supposed to be working.

Then, out of nowhere, things go wonky. A crime is committed. And you know who we’re supposed to think is behind it: that shifty Twitter fellow. But the offender turns out to be… dunh, dunh, dunh… Youtube.

Thank you for indulging me.

Jesse Eisenberg, the star of “Zombieland,” helms what I’m betting will be a serious snooze fest. I have it on good authority that Mark Zuckerberg is nothing if not completely bland. Meaning, my friend’s friends said they met him at a party in LA and he is not sexy. I have a feeling the film’s writers and director would have you believe otherwise.

Kenyan flag

Kenyan flag

My wife recently completed the Baltimore half-marathon. I didn’t; I wanted to, but I’m a slacker. I did however get a chance to do a little spectating. As the runners began trickling in, I noticed a certain nationalistic theme: Russians and Kenyans. All of the top finishers hailed from these locales.

Here’s a headline from a Chicago news source:
“Kenyan man, Russian woman win Chicago Marathon titles”
Here’s another from a Boston paper:
“Kenyan, Russian Post Fastest Times at Boston Marathon”
And another:
“Kenyan wins White Rock Marathon; Russian runner wins women’s race”

Kyrgyzstani flag

Kyrgyzstani flag

The top male finisher in the Baltimore Marathon was a Kenyan; and yes the top finisher in the women’s race was from — you guessed it — Kyrgyzstan. OK, Kyrgyzstan is not technically Russia; but it was once a part of the mighty Soviet Union, and the official language is Russian… so I’m calling her Russian.

Soooo… Nature or nurture?

Here’s one blogger’s take:

Many believe this is because of the high altitude at which Kenyans and Ethiopians train, although these countries also have a robust running culture as well as highly trained regimes … Additionally, the fact that so many Kenyans and Ethiopians have witnessed their fellow citizens travel overseas and win thousands of dollars in marathon money has been a further encouragement to rigorously train in order to become the best at marathon running. This has led domestic competition to drastic levels in order to determine who is the best to compete internationally.

As for the Russian women. Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the Soviet legacy of athleticism is alive and well, and distance running has replaced hockey and Greco-Roman wrestling. I’ll think on it and let you know.

I don’t drink anymore — haven’t had an adult beverage in almost five years. Never mind me, though. Many runners find the ritual of race day incomplete without a little firewater. I guess I see where they’re coming from… or do I?

Have you ever heard of the Hash House Harriers? Don’t bother Googling them. You’ll just run into silly unsafe-site shenanigans. I once again defer to Senor Wiki:

Hash House Harriers is an international group of non-competitive running and drinking clubs. “Hashers” or “Hares” call one of their events a “hash.”

Early Harriers

Early Harriers

At a Hash, someone lays a trail, which is then followed by the rest of the group. The trail is full of cooky dead ends, false trails, and splits. The front-runners slow down to find the “true” trail, so the stragglers can catch up. Essentially, a Hash is designed to keep the pack together — novice and seasoned runners alike. When the Hash is over, members keep the party going at a nearby house, pub, or restaurant.

Members often describe their group as “a drinking club with a running problem.” HA, HA, Ha…ha…ha…(blogger clears his throat)…ha.

A runner can justify his/her penchant for the hard stuff in a myriad of ways. You’ve undoubtedly heard a runner order a beer, then crack one about carb-loading. As I discovered in an old Runner’s World article, this is hogwash — malarkey even. Here’s what Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D. had to say about it:

“The idea that beer provides a significant amount of carbs is a misconception,” Clark told Runner’s World. “A 12-ounce bottle contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, which is equivalent to about half a slice of bread.

“What’s more, because of the way alcohol is metabolized, most of these excess carbs are stored as fat. So you’re actually fat-loading,” said another doctor. “And if you’re drinking a lot, you may be running to burn off beer calories rather than combusting body fat.”

And we mustn’t overlook the more embarassing consequences of over-imbibing: lapses of judgment, dehydration, slowed recovery time, and that whole — waking up with one shoe on and the menu music from a questionable DVD playing ad infinitum on the TV.

We’re back to you-know-what, friends — moderation. That seems to be the consensus on any indulgence. There’s no reason for runners to abstain from booze if it’s consumption is kept under control. You just have to know when to put the plug in the jug.

But what about those folks near the end of a race handing out beers, you ask?

If you’re doing a 3K, it’s no big deal, but I don’t think guzzling a diuretic at the end of a dehydrating event is too wise. But people have been doing this since the inception of distance running, and they sing its praises. So maybe I’m off base here. I mean, Gatorade can do a number on your stomach after a run, too.

Well, I guess I’ve once again come to a nebulous conclusion. Drink ’em if you got ’em… or don’t.

Superfeet insoles supersuck

I’m a griper it seems – a snarky, sarcastic complainer. I’ve jettisoned some pretty whiny stuff out into the ether over the past month or so. My Facebook friends can attest to this. I’d like to tell you I’m going to maintain higher journalistic standards from now on… but I can’t. I’m partial, and I dislike a thing or too.

insolesI’m really starting to buy into this whole conspiracy theory about running shoes. You know; the one about how running shoe companies are helmed by charlatans. And how you’re precious Mizunos are snake oil’s modern equivalent. Even worse, your Mizunos may be exacerbating your running injuries.

I’m starting to think insole companies are onboard, as well.

Don’t get me wrong; I love new shoes: running, casual, dress, even dress-casual. Whada ya got? I like ’em all. But I’m plowing through SpEVA like there’s no tomorrow. I’m talking a new pair of running shoes every three months. My feet start to hurt, so I cut my mileage and order a new pair. I’m over it, though.

I need another pair of shoes… again. I have heel pain… again. I don’t think it’s plantar fasciitis, but who knows? Anyway, for the first time in my life I was dreading finding a new pair. I decided to put my foot down — sorry. I wasn’t going to drop another Benjamin — sorry again — for these things.

So, I took the advice of various running enthusiasts and spent some money on insoles — a lot of money — $43 to be exact. They’re supposed to prolong the life of your shoes. I assumed I was paying for quality.

Man do I feel like a sucker. Now, not only do my heels hurt, but my hips and my knees hurt, too. And yes, Superfeet customer service person, I read the extensive user-guide and followed the instructions. I’m still unsatisfied with your overpriced product.

Just Google “insoles,” not Superfeet, and see what you get at the top of the list. It’s not Dr. Scholls. Something’s up with this company, I tell you.

Funky Running Gear

You’re familiar with it. You probably have a shirt made of it. Maybe a light-weight jacket. Adidas calls itClimaCool®. Nike calls it DriFit®. Here’s how one company described it in a press release: “a conductive fiber consisting of silver-coated yarns and three-dimensionally structured fabrics … which transport sweat away from the skin.”

We’ll call it a poly-blend for brevity’s sake. It’s good stuff, no? I haven’t had to suffer through the travesty that is the cotton T-shirt in quite some time. I can safely say I will never finish a run with a see-through, ten-pound, wet toga hanging from my torso again. I’ve converted. The new stuff is great. There’s always a BUT, though, isn’t there?

It has a tendency to get loud, doesn’t it? Smelly I mean. After a month of regular use, every article of moisture-wicking clothing I’ve ever owned, has gotten funky… real funky. It doesn’t wash out either. My sweat gets immortalized in those silver-coated yarns. Perspiration gets locked into the space-aged polymers, and it there it stays…forever.

Or so I thought.

winIt wasn’t like I was going to the office in the stuff; and people were giving me funny looks. There’s just something disconcerting about pulling a warm garment from the dryer, putting it to your face to inhale the lavender goodness, and getting nothing but a compendium of body odor.

Throwing these relatively new articles of expensive clothing away was out of the question. I’d like to say I labored over the problem, and then follow that up with a list of folk-remedies I tried, but… Actually, that sounds like a good idea. I’m going Pinocchio. Ready thyself for some fabrication:

  • I tried Soy Sauce and liquid fire. Still smelled.
    I tried VapoRub and holy water. No dice.
    I tried vinegar and a used toner cartridge. Not a dent
    I even drank a cup of fabric softener before each run. Nothing.
  • OK, that was stupid. Thanks for indulging me, though.

    Here’s the reveal, folks. Get out your pencils. Some clever entrepreneur actually designed a product for the unyielding odor that consumes my DriFit. It’s called Win. And it works. Here’s how:

    Using a unique technology, Win Detergent’s scientifically designed super oxygenated system directly targets offensive odors and stains. This powerful oxy cleaning technology eliminates the embedded sweat molecules and odors that overwhelm the fabric.

    Simultaneously, these same ingredients also react with soil and organic materials causing them to either decolorize or disintegrate. Once in a soluble form after oxidization, dirt and odors easily wash away.

    I don’t know anything about super-oxygenated systems, but my shirts don’t offend me anymore. Here’s my beef, though: You have to keep using this stuff. It’s like heroin. You can’t just stop; Less you miss smelling like Mexican food.

    This stuff isn’t like habenero peppers either; a little doesn’t go a long way.

    Like all new inventions, it will cost you… seven bucks for a small bottle to be precise. And don’t expect to find it on a grocery store shelf either. Try a sporting goods store. And do try it. It works.

    Tuesdays with Bobcat

    bobcat-goldthwaitI recently had the pleasure, nay the honor, of producing a live hour of radio with Bobcat Goldthwait. When I brag about this little daytime-talk coup de grace (much like now), I’m typically met with, “You mean the guy with the funny voice?” I give a nod and follow it up with a “but.” And boy is it a big but. (Side note) It wasn’t really a coup de grace; I just like the expression.

    Here’s my intro to the hour (excuse the radio-ese):

    Bobcat Goldthwait was doing stand-up by the time he was 15. He made his first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman before he turned 21. Hollywood was quick to cash in on his talent. Roles in the Police Academy series and Scrooged with Bill Murray propelled him to stardom.

    But the character he made famous became a mixed blessing of sorts. It brought Goldthwait fame and acclaim but typecast him in a role too manic and one-dimensional to maintain. In 1992, he tried his hand at writing and directing with Shakes the Clown, a movie the Boston Globe called the Citizen Cane of alcoholic clown movies. The film would eventually reach cult classic status, cementing Goldthwait’s standing as an independent filmmaker and a certifiable talent behind the camera.

    He went on to direct episodes of the Chappelle Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, all the while writing scripts for the big screen. World’s Greatest Dad – his latest movie – is a black comedy with a truly unconventional plot.

    Here’s the trailer, be forewarned, it’s not for the squeamish:

    Goldthwait cast Robin Williams in the lead role. Williams plays Lance Clayton –a single parent and struggling writer – who also happens to be a teacher at his 17-year-old son’s school. After an unspeakable tragedy, Lance does what he thinks is right despite this darkest of conundrums. World’s Greatest Dad was accepted at 2009’s Sundance Film Festival.

    A screening of the film here at The Maryland Film Festival sold out the largest of the Charles’ five theaters. It received a standing ovation and a spontaneous tribute from Baltimore’s own John Waters – who was in the audience.

    Jed [DEETS] the festival’s director describes Goldthwait’s screen writing as acerbic, touching, and hilarious. Rotten tomatoes – a popular movie review Website – calls World’s Greatest Dad“a risky, deadpan, dark comedy that effectively explores the nature of posthumous cults of celebrity.”

    Bob Goldthwait joins us this hour to talk about his movie and his transformation from stand-up comic to bona fide auteur.

    Nice to have you on the show, Bobcat ( or Bob).

    I wish everything I booked could be this fun.

    Take a listen!.