Thursday, July 26, 2012

11 guys, 5 Rings, and 1 Minute

I love sports.  I have my teams and my preferred events, but more or less, I am a sucker for a televised or live competition. I will take tickets to anything off your hands and the game could be on ESPN the Ocho and I will watch it, choose a side, and yell at the refs (because they always deserve to be yelled at by the guy in his living room).  Just ask my lovely wife. She might say I would put the game on the TV and promptly fall asleep on the couch but that is a salacious lie.

I also love my country.  For all its bull, the United States is the best country in the world and I am proud to call myself an American.

So when these two things come together, I get crazy excited.  I love me some Olympics.  NBC has this thing down to a science.  Meaningful music, a story of some kid from [city/town/farm] had it tough.  Kid lost [mother/father/training facility/ability to walk] but made it to the Olympic team to win and wave the Stars and Stripes (insert crescendo here). USA USA USA USA!!!!! We all cry, we all cheer.

To be honest, nothing really gets me down about the Olympics.

"But why then," you ask, "are you blogging about it?  You never have something only good to say about something when you blog, so something about the Games must be getting you down."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is refusing to take a minute out of the open ceremonies to remember 11 athletes who were murdered in a terrorist attach 40 years ago in Munich.  Everyone from President Obama to Governor Romney, from Aish HaTorah to the Reform Jewish Movement has pushed for this minute.  The IOC refuses to take some time to remember 11 athletes who were murdered at the Olympic Games 40 years ago.

That has me down.

The IOC is a semi-governmental organization and should be accountable to someone. But they are not.  You can sign petitions and such but it won't make much of a difference; more than 100,000 signatures haven't made an impact yet.  The group of widows  have been brushed off (again) and will have a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies regardless of its official recognition, and while that is nice, it doesn't fix or really honor the memory of these guys in the right way.

The Palestinian Olympic Committee (POC) called this moment of silence "racist" today and that makes my head hurt.  The POC's own statement leads a logical person to believe that they would be supportive of this remembrance. "Sports are a bridge for love, communication and the spreading of peace between nations," the POC said in its statement, before it went on to say this remembrance was racist. The entire movement here is to remember people killed, not as a condemnation of terrorists, Palestinian or otherwise.

The politics of this situation are nasty but the reality is that 11 guys, kids mostly, were gunned down by bad dudes during the Olympics.  A minute to remember them during the ceremony would not only be right but should be support the sprit of the Olympics.  We all cheer and hope our country will win the gold but we all hope that one, lone athlete can make the splash, stick the landing, break the tape and make his or her home country proud.  The Olympics at least should be about the purity of sport and competition.  Not about politics. 

So as I watch the Olympics and in a mob-like manner, wave my flag, I will try to remember these guys.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Report: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I think I have found the reason why I have been a little off as of late.  My running schedule just picked up quite a bit.  This week will be a recovery week of 29 total miles and next week I hit 39 and then on to 40ish mile weeks until late October.  Over the past month of so, after fighting against my back and pissy hamstring, I had yet to have a good run.  I had been dreading the training and was extremely worried about my goal time for the New York City Marathon in November.

The reality was that I was injured and was just working through it.  Lo and behold, I did my prescribed exercises and daily foam rolling and my injury healed and my running improved.  I began to feel so much better and finally, this weekend, on my longest training run to-date, I had a great run. Fourteen miles with no pain and a ton of energy to spare.

While not a traditional book report blog post, I felt it was appropriate considering what I just finished reading. Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a strange book.  It chronicles his life as a runner, novelist, and a few other things.  It is widely considered a must read by runners, or at least by every runner I talked to about this book.

I finished the book feeling somewhat confused about the point of this collection of loosely incorporated essays. But as I broke out of my running funk, this very well-written some-what of a downer of a book, put me into another funk.  The story lines seem to say that amateur endurance athletes take on these crazy goals for no good reason or simply to prove it to ourselves that this Sisyphean feat is possible.  While I tend to believe this is the case, I want to change my point of view on the subject, as well as some others.

I had a long Gchat conversation with my mom about "the point" of doing things recently.  I went on about effecting change and the ability to do so being governed solely by access to money.  If you are a long-term reader of my blog, you will know that I used to be an impassioned advocate for a number of progressive causes.  If you are just joining me, you know I am sick to death of politics.  And this feeling started to creep into my other societal experiences.  This is the other subject I believe needs a perspective change.

My running has helped me become more focused and see things more objectively.  When you are out running for hours on end, you are forced to think a certain way.  Food is fuel.  Water cannot be wasted on washing your face.  The way your foot hits the ground changes the way your entire body works.  Sadly it is near impossible to apply the lessons  learned on the run in the real world.  The last few years have thought me a lot, but only about myself.

Running, for all its greatness, really is about self.  I used to very much care about others and how my contributions would help the whole.  But that has changed.  I don't blame running at all.  I blame political experts and fraudulent business practitioners.  The running helped me see this more clearly, but it has yet to help me get to a place where I wanted to care again.

It would be easy just to say I don't care and move on with my life.  But I don't want to do that.  So if nothing else, this book forced me to think about much more than what I think about when I think about running.  Which was good.

4 out of 5.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

History is Written By the Victors

This is a political post so, here is the requisite puppy link.

While the title quote cannot be attributed to one source, we can attribute the degradation of our educational system to the Tea  Party.  In a story you can file under "You have got to be kidding me" we learn that Tea Party activists in Tennessee are actively lobbying to include the rosier aspects of the Antebellum South in the state educational curriculum.

This group of activists wants to include the following in the standards for selecting text books, according to the HuffPost's report:
"No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership."
In order to celebrate the Founding Fathers, says the Tea Party, we must ignore aspects of history.  Look at the bright side, at least they aren't out-right denying the rape, pillage, and murder.