Saturday, June 24, 2017

Martian Spice

I wrote this far-out comment on Reddit on a whim and was pleased with the result. Pretty cool premise for a sci-fi book or film, I think:

I've lived abroad for most of my adult life and this is something that I often think about. Sometimes it feels like the majority of my childhood memories are riding in cars listening to classic rock. In the '90s that meant Skynyrd, Allmans, Floyd, Stones, Queen, etc... So what do you call that kind of music now? And where are the Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry oldies? Are they still played or are they slowly being forgotten? It makes me think how interesting living in the distant future will be from a digital archive perspective. So much to discover. I guess that's what people were thinking when books first came out, but dialects and languages are huge barriers of entry compared to rhythm and melody. I can imagine some future dude finding dope rhymes in the dead language called English and sharing them with his friends. Then there's this small clique of friends on Mars (so they're Martians, I guess) and they're jamming out to Run DMC and rebirthing the English language. They use late 80s urban slang as code so they can talk about Martian Spice, the rad new psychedelic drug that's flooding the Martian streets. Then they discover this song and it really blows their minds. And all the while they're about thirty years into the biggest breakthrough of the history of the solar system's civilization: the same Martian Spice that the kids dig takes people to a place that proves the existence of an afterlife, immersing them in a world full of their ancestors, although they don't know the people are their ancestors while they're there, they only realize it once they've returned from their trip. The trip itself lasts a millisecond in Martian time, but feels like anywhere from a day to 125 years of Earth time. And their parents don't want them to take it, not due to the religious implications, and definitely not because they think drugs are bad, mmkay, but rather because it hurts them tremendously to see their precious Martian children return from these trips full of guilt and shame for how they've treated their ancestors and the beautiful planet that they destroyed once upon a time. Therefore, the Martian Spice becomes addictive, not physically, but mentally, for the takers of the Spice are compelled to return to the place of their ancestors to try to live a life of compassion and generosity, but they fail nearly every time, compounding their depression and malaise.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

I thought that I would have left Japan by now, but I am still here. And the longer I stay here, the deeper I am entranced by its pristine landscape. The rolling low mountains of Western Japan, emerald in June, entice and call me to visit them, to traipse eagerly and thankfully along their paths.

I am also now fascinated by gardening. This once-upon-a-time jock is now entranced by hoes of a different sort, by permaculture, and by sustenance. The connection to the earth is real. Try it if you haven't already. I'm going to leave this video here in hopes of inspiring others.

One reason that I think I've allowed myself to go down this green path is because of the news fast that I have been on for the past three months. Not being connected to politics has allowed me to gravitate to other things, and without the political bias attached. Not that I am even friends with many republicans, but the stigma of being politically connected irked me when I was news addicted. Now, it doesn't. Connect by disconnecting.

Basho said it best in his famous work The Narrow Road to the Deep North. These last lines of the book will forever sit with me:

As cemented clam shells fall apart in autumn
So too must I take to the road again.
Farewell my friends.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Two Weeks of Convalescence

With the marathon two weeks gone, my body is still reeling from the effects. Some of those effects are because of the grueling nature of the race itself, but I sense that the majority of them are due to the months of training that preceded.

The sharp pain in the nerve that sits under my third toe has yet to cease. The meat that splays across the outside of the same foot's sole has become sore in just the past few days, as if it has come out of hiding.

I have gained a bit of weight, but that has been my own doing. Beer and snacks after work have been the ultimate guilty pleasures, ballasts counteracting the effects of the training, medicine to get me beyond the pain of defeat.

My defeat is more than not achieving my goal time. My defeat is ongoing. It's coming to terms with my age, my ability, my mortality. Once I can get my head around these ephemeral concepts, I will be able to turn defeat upon its head, to claim victory.

If it takes until my hair is white and legs have lost all their spring, I am determined to claim this victory.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reflection on My First Marathon

This past Sunday was the big day. To set the stage, the numbing rain was relentless. My hands were numb so that I couldn't feel my GPS watch vibrate each kilometer. Feet soaked even before the gun was fired, the conditions weren't enough to stop me from being consumed by happy thoughts that the day had finally come.


A) 3:20 (no)
B) 3:39 (no)
C) finish without walking (yes)


I mainly used Matt Fitzgerald's Level 2 plan from 80/20 Running. I modified it here and there to allow for me to hit certain weekly mileage markers that corresponded to the Pfitz 18/55 plan. I tried to get in a tempo run each Tuesday, an interval workout on Thursday, and a long run on Sunday. No marathon pace work was put in on Sundays, this being my first rodeo and all.

I ran into some pretty annoying foot injuries and didn't have an ideal 18 weeks of training. Things to consider next time around:

1) Bring volume way down on recovery weeks (30 or 40km max those weeks with only 4 or 5 days of running as opposed to 6.

2) Try training closer to the Pfitz plan, the differences being: a) a mid-week medium-long run b) most weeks only doing one weekday workout (either tempo or interval, not both) c) incorporating speed into my long runs (except for the week that jumps up in mileage) d) make Saturday half the distance of the long run the following day

3) Staying healthy enough to get strides and plyometric work in more frequently (2-3 times a week for each).

The Race

Out with a bang, I quickly found myself dashing along at around 4:40/km pace. Finding myself with a group and not feeling out of breath, I decided to maintain this pace till the halfway point. My novice mind convinced me that I could then slow down to 4:50 or 4:55 and not ruin my goal time. Boy was I wrong. I was trained for 4:45 or 4:50 and should have stuck to it.

The first half consisted of running through ankle-high puddles (or around them through mud). This had to slow me down and wind me up emotionally. It was easy to stay cold, but hard to stay cool in the metaphorical sense.

At about the 25k mark I felt tightness in my hip flexors. Not an injury, just the early onset of fatigue. The hip flexors were my weakest link. So, I slowed down to 4:50, which quickly turned into 5:00 or 5:10. I maintained that speed until about 34km, at which point I was down around 5:30. The wall finally came at 38km and I was bringing it home at a miserable 6:30 pace. I cried inside when the 3:30 pacer passed me as if I was standing still. My finishing time was 3:38.

After the Race

I was disappointed at first, but thrilled to see my wife and kids waiting for me at the finish line. After sleeping on it, I feel proud of what I did. Changed, in fact.

My new goals are:

1) Improve raw speed this spring. Tuesdays I will do short intervals with full recovery. Thursdays or Fridays I will then do a more traditional short interval set. A new plyometric routine will be done on the workout days, and strides will follow each easy run. I hope to run a mile for time in late May and break 6:00. My weekly mileage won't exceed 70km during this phase.

2) After that, I will work to build my mileage up above 90km over the summer. I will do workouts but stick to Farklek style speed play as much as possible. In the fall, I will begin a Pfitz-style plan (as mentioned above) for a half marathon I plan on entering in early December with a goal of breaking 1:30.

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