Saturday, May 24, 2014

Old People Have Ruined Facebook

I decided that during my vacation I would take a minute and write a few non-running related posts that I have always wanted to take time to write about.

I missed the MySpace era.  I didn’t join Facebook until the late 2000’s, and I basically only joined it to have an efficient way to schedule and meet up with running friends.  It seems that every year more and more moms and dads and grandparents join Facebook.  In fact, kids don’t use Facebook much at all anymore.  

As a consequence, it has become one of the most stale, narcissistic, socially awkward and annoying cyber-locations ever. 

Yes, I realize at 42 I may technically be an “old person” in the eyes of many.  I also note that the fact that I even have a Blog makes me, to a degree, a narcissist.  Nonetheless, I’m going to take a minute to let you all know the dirty secret that many of your friends are irritated by your Facebook posts.  Your Fakebook posts.  You’re whining, unimaginative, lack of intellect and humor status updates that no one (and I’m actually including the people that “like” them) cares about.  Let me give you a few examples.
  1. Weather Posts.  NEWSFLASH!  If I have Facebook I have a computer or smartphone.  As such, IF I am unwilling or unable to experience the weather outside on my own, I already have a very advanced device to fill me in on it.  Every day it is below 20 it isn’t “COLD!!!!” and every day it is over 80 it isn’t “HOT!!!!!”  I know this snow or rain might have seemed substantial to you, but trust me, no matter what your alarmist mom or grandpa has said it isn’t.  Please don’t post about the weather. 
  2. Kids and Pets.  I love my dog.  I love my dog as much as anyone has ever loved anything, ever.  Nonetheless, I am mindful that everything he does isn’t cute.  You don’t care about most of the things he does.  I may post a good pic or a funny story now and then, but I am mindful that everyone doesn’t think everything my dog does is cute, funny or interesting.  I think the same applies to your children, dog, cat, ferret or the like.  I bet I would love them.  But I don’t need to be updated about everything they do on Facebook.  Every picture of them isn’t cute.  Everything they do isn’t FB worthy.  (But there will be an alternative described to you below).
  3. Throw Back Thursday.  Can we just end this?  Please?
  4. Talking to people that can’t hear you.  As a rule of thumb you should not post messages communicating with people that have no chance of reading your post.  This includes: sports teams, deceased family members, famous people that don’t follow you on Facebook, your infant or your pet.  I realize that some people feel better paying tribute to loved ones that are gone publicly, but it really creeps many of us out.  Think about it this way….if we were all at brunch together would you say it?  If not, consider deleting that post before you make it.
  5. Expressions to the person on the couch next to you.  Imagine you came to my house for dinner and in the middle of it I went on a long very personal rant about how much I love my wife.  Would you feel a little creeped out?  I would.  How about if I we had an argument and said mean things to each other in front of you?  Everyone loves that!  Instead of telling them how much you love them/hate them on the internet do something productive for your relationship and communicate with (only) them.  Another phenomenon I don’t get is the ‘routine daily life spouse post.’  “Looks like we’re watching survivor tonight…I’ll pick up a pizza.”  Really?  You should find a more private way to make your evening plans than on Facebook.
  6. Share if you Care.  Changing your FB picture or posting a picture of something related to a holiday doesn’t show you care about something.  In fact, very often when I see these posts I imagine that the person’s only contribution to the cause in question IS the FB post.  Instead of posting a picture of your mom and telling us how much you love her (even though she’s not on FB to appreciate it) how about going to her house and doing something for her?  Just because you posted a picture of a tragedy you have not become part of the solution.  And the fact that I don’t share it doesn’t mean I care any more or less than you do.  Save your abused animal shots, your inspirational memes.  Go out in the world and do something. 
  7. Politics.  I love news and politics.  Not on FB.  There’s no discourse.  There’s no fact checking, there’s no listening…only talking.  It’s not the time or place.  If you think your pro-life, pro-choice, anti-X and/or political rants have changed anyone’s minds you are delusional.
  8. Selfies.  By selfies I’m talking about both you and your food.  I’ve posted about ten food pictures in my life.  I’ve been interested in 0.  Let’s just agree not to do it anymore.  If you must take a selfie: 1) don’t hold up your phone in front of a mirror; 2) I don’t want to see the toilet behind you; and 3) PLEASE try to make it fun.
  9. Boring Posts.  Before you hit send ask yourself, would I be interested in this if someone else posted it?  Only a few of the details of your life are interesting to most of us, and only in a general way.  If you are exploring the great wall of China I might be attracted to your every move.  If it is laundry day I might not need status updates.  If you’re feeling sad I may care if you post about it once.  By the third time you lost me.  This category can save the others.  If I see a food, dog, weather, political, etc. post that is funny, interesting, thought provoking, etc. I actually appreciate it.  But for god’s sake if you’re going to be boring be boring at home, not on FB.
  10. There is hope for you.  Many people are unaware of the fact that FB allows you to make friends lists and post to those groups.  For instance, I have a group called “running” and a group called “non-running.”  I try to keep my running posts to my running friends.  I have seen people do this with Yoga, Children, Politics, Family, etc.  Here’s how it works:  1. Make a list of all of your friends that you already know LOVE [X] stamp collecting like you do.  Put those friends on a FB Friend List Called “Stamp Collecting.”  Then make two posts:
A.    “If you are seeing this post I have added you to a friends list called Stamp Collecting where I will make most of my stamp collecting posts.  If you do NOT want to see my posts about Stamp Collecting that’s OK, just “like” this post and I will remove you from the list and you will not see those posts.”
B.    “If you are seeing this post I have not added you to a friends list I have made for all my stamp collecting posts.  If you DO want to see my posts about Stamp Collecting that’s OK, just “like” this post and I will add you to the list and you will see those posts.”

Many people are unaware of this feature, which is a shame.  The other benefit to managing your friends lists is that you can just watch a particular group in your feed depending on what you are interested in.  For more help just search on FB re: Managing Friend’s Lists. 
I know this post might seem harsh and offensive to you.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t guilty of several of the above.  Hopefully it at least gave someone something to think about.

Friday, May 16, 2014


My next adventure is to travel to South Africa to run the Comrades Ultramarathon.  The Comrades is an approximately 56 mile road race run in Africa between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. the direction is changed every year from "Up" to "Down," and vice versa.  this year is a "Down" year so I will be starting in Pietermaritzburg and running to Durban.

It is the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon.  Approximately 18,000 people will be participating.  There is a strict twelve (12) hour cutoff to make it the distance.  I will be dealing with some different kinds of food and nutrition.  I will be treated to many locals and attractions along the way.

Although I do not believe I will struggle with the cutoff, I do not intend to run the race as quickly as I can.  I do not know if I will ever be in Africa again, so I do not want to spend the race looking at my watch or doing math in my head.  I am going to run at a comfortable pace, listen to some traditional South African music and enjoy the entire experience.  I may need to stop and take a picture or two.

Prior to the race I am spending a week relaxing and resting in Cape Town, which looks like one of the prettier cities I have ever seen.  My wife and I will be shopping (for fabric) exploring and just plain relaxing. (As if the 30 hour flight each way isn't going to give me enough time to relax).

 While I am gone I hope many of you (Melissa Pizarro) will be training your asses of for the Kettle Moraine 100.  I'll be there pacing and crewing.  Have a great Memorial Day holiday!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Marathon Training is a Big Fat Lie

One of the nine people that actually read this blog asked me what I've been up to.  So I thought it was time for a short post about what is new and noteworthy.

April was about training  After healing from Potawatomi I tried to ramp mileage back to around 80-90 miles per week.  The overall goal in April and May is weight loss to try to make climbing the mountains of the San Juans and the San Gabriels a little bit easier.  I've been running well and really enjoying the training.  The Flatlander Ultrarunners have been interested in a lot of group runs in interesting places.  That really helps.

I also had an opportunity to pace two good friends - Tony Cesario and Alfredo Pedro Perro at the Indiana Trail 100.  Both finished.  It was a great time and a great race.  I am definitely putting it on my to do list. I really enjoy pacing.  I think it is an important part of giving back to the sport.  If you haven't done it you should.  

The sub 24 Hour crew!

Todd and Siamak

Alfredo Pedro Perro

In late May I am scheduled to run the 56 mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa.  One needs to "qualify" for the race by running a sub 5 hour marathon or a longer distance within certain time restraints.  Those restraints are not conducive to people like me that run at the back of the pack in tougher type trail races.

I thought I had my qualifier.  Three days before the deadline I determined that I was wrong and that I needed to go run a marathon within three days.  All I needed to do was break 5 hours.  BUT I needed to get to Kenosha Wisconsin in rush hour traffic, sign up, go home, get a few hours of sleep, pack, and drive back at 4 a.m.  And nothing could go wrong in the interim.  

I ran (plodded) road marathons for many years before I became an ultra runner.  In those years I was taught many keys to marathon running: the virtue of the taper, training programs, speed work, proper planning and race execution, etc. etc.  I'm sure someone will argue with this point, but some marathoners tend to be over planners, somewhat superstitious and ritualistic (okay, douchey).  What I was about to do ran counter to everything I was taught about marathoning.  No specific training.  No planning.  I had run 90ish miles the week before and I already had 40 miles of training that week.  I did no speedwork.  I barely slept the night before.  I threw my gear together last minute (including some 'seasoned' Hokas) and the entire thing was executed by the seat of my pants.

Now, of course, four other members of the Flatlander Ultrarunners hopped on board.  If you want people to make bad decisions at the last minute which are running related, join an ultrarunning group.( #crazypeople #bandwagoners)

I set the "virtual partner" on my watch to five hour pace, stuffed a bunch of salted caramel gels in my waist pack, and ran by feel staying ahead of that qualifying time -- with no race plan whatsoever.

My prior PR was 3:50.  To attain that time (my first sub 4:00 marathon) I lost weight, did speedwork and tapered.  I was also about 20 pounds lighter than I am now.  Although I had a secret goal of beating that time I was realistic about the fact that it was unlikely.  

At the halfway point I was shocked to see a clock that read 1:47.  I knew that was too fast, but I started to negotiate with myself that if I could hang on a bit longer I would break 4 hours.  I stopped at every other water station, stood still and drank.  I made two bathroom stops.  I petted one dog.

I resisted the urge to look at my watch the entire second half.  (Not a peek).  The negotiations continued mile by mile.  I think the fact that I started passing many people in the last 6 miles really inspired me.  In the last two miles I probably passed 50 people.  When I turned the corner to the finish line I had NO idea what the clock might say.


I was shocked.  Every mile I ran in the race was faster than my average training pace.  I have absolutely no idea how that happened.  Could it be the extra weight? The lack of speedwork?  The failure to taper? part of me thinks it was not looking at my watch.  I guess I'll never know.  But the experience led me to the (tongue in cheek) conclusion that marathon training is a big fat lie.  My best guess is that taking all of those "truths" out of the equation and remembering that its just running makes all the difference.

*I realize that half (meaning 4 or so of you) of the readers will say "Just imagine if you trained right..."  We will probably never know.  

Next up....Comrades!!!!