Aren’t you sick of all this garbage?

The dumping site where people unloaded their crap at the end of an underused industrial drive.

I went for an odd run yesterday. It was windy as heck, for one thing. So my early pace of 10:00 per mile did not increase much over the first two miles. Then I turned into a neighborhood where a path through the woods leads to a forest preserve.

From there, I turned south onto the loose crushed limestone paths and kept following them into the fields beyond the preserve proper. The land is still owned by the county, but it’s nothing more than mowed scrub at this point.

I could have turned around and run back the route I normally take that loops toward home. Instead the path I followed met a dead-end and I hopped some tall grass and kept running toward the Interstate in the distance. When that field ran out I turned east and crept through even more tall grass toward the array of giant satellite disks next to the TBN production studios.

The Bullshit Network

Those satellite dishes drive at least part of the TBN network, whose network boasts,

” TBN is also a leader in using cutting-edge technology to reach more viewers around the world with programming that entertains, inspires, and changes lives through God’s message of hope and grace. From its online archive giving viewers access to tens of thousands of life-impacting programs, to its mobile app that brings more than a dozen global TBN networks to smart phones, iPads, and tablets anywhere in the world — TBN continues to be the standard bearer for faith-and-family broadcasting across the earth.”

You may not know my perspectives on most of what TBN pumps out. They’re the type of network whose supposedly grace-filled programming fuels much of what evangelical Christianity embraces as wholesome and religiously biblical content. But as we’re witnessing in real time these days, evangelical support for the prince of all garbage hawkers, Donald Trump, is fueling an authoritarian takeover of constitutional rights for millions of Americans. TBN, like so many other so-called Christian outlets are nothing more than bullshit networks designed to reap profits and control people politically and religiously. While they claim to be on God’s side, they are more like the religious authorities whom Jesus challenged for clinging so feverishly to tradition that they legalistically destroyed the lives of people rather than lifting them up.

Unholy

I’m reading a book titled Unholy (Rachel Posner) that traces the direct link between racism, segregation, and the tax status of Christian schools with the launching of the Moral Majority in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The typical narrative says that Jerry Falwell jump-started evangelical political activity around the abortion issue. But that came much later. At the beginning, it was so-called Christian objections to governmental guidelines for integration that set off waves of angry protest among the prejudiced purveyors of garbage religion at the time. It was all cloaked behind claims that their “religious freedoms” were being breached. But that’s garbage too.

Pretty much, it was Christian schools trying to block black kids from attending private institutions that started the so-called Moral Majority.

That racist core of true believers never left the movement. In fact, they’ve only increased their grip on evangelicalism, all while mastering the sophistication of technology and media promotion to propagate the poison worldview of fear and hatred for minorities and anyone else judged to be “biblically unworthy” of normal societal function.

These people excel at claiming to preach God’s love while sending religious programming around the world that baldly preach intolerance (and even death) to gay people, resistance to immigration around fears of losing a “Christian majority” (to Muslims, it is said) and of course, the fatuous obsession with banning abortion because “it kills babies.” Never mind that an organization such as Planned Parenthood tries to help women prevent unplanned pregnancies. That’s far too practical for religious zealots that hate the idea of anyone having sex other than by their approved method or at their approved time.

Garbage ideology

These three topics along with resistance to science and denial of climate change are essentially the entire platform of the Trump regime. It’s a load of politically bigoted garbage filled with hate for secular knowledge and frankly, common sense. That is Trumpism in a nutshell.

That is why I found it symbolic that not long after passing the TBN studios I turned to see the scene depicted at the top of this blog, and captured again here in closeup. Because there, at the end of an underutilized industrial drive, was a pile of garbage tossed there by irresponsible citizens refusing to pay for the right to properly dispose of their refuse. That’s a capsulized image of American wastefulness and selfishness.

What is garbage?

What is garbage anyway? It’s the outcome of anything that human beings judge to be useless to them in any way. That’s exactly how Trump and his evangelical supporters view anything that disagrees with their purported values. These of course differ from actual values of conscience and consideration, because the Trump version is ultimately subject to some aspect of prejudice on the part of those claiming insight. While hiding behind the veils of tradition and heritage, true conscience and consideration are qualities that too many evangelicals and conservatives decidedly lack.

Because here’s how it works. Trump brands immigrants garbage, and his supporters go along because it feeds their fearful narrative that a Christian white majority is at risk of being upended. He’s called entire country “shitholes,” and his supporters go along because he equates human worth and value by skin color and transactional value to his personal prejudices. And his supporters go along because “the economy is good” and therefore “shithole people” should not be allowed to affect it.

It keeps going. His administration, the Republican Party and the evangelicals who drive it clearly view gay and transgender people as garbage unworthy of basic civil rights, much less the right to marry. And his supporters love to claim that their right to discriminate against LBQBT should be protected by their religious beliefs. What a load of garbage that is. Certainly Jesus Christ never spoke against people of any sexual orientation, at least according to the Bible.

But it was stated by Paul, the former persecutors of Jews who experienced a dramatic conversation to a worshipper of Jesus who held to the legalism of his prior tradition and branded relations between two men an abomination. All that proves is that Paul never relinquished himself completely to Jesus. He remained a bigot just as Martin Luther remained an Anti-Semitic while he launched the Reformation. None of these people is perfect. Some of their views should be dumped into the garbage pit of religious ideology.

Earth as a garbage pit

It doesn’t stop with ideology. Trump and his administration view the natural resources of this country as their personal property from which they can extract whatever they like and trash the rest without penalty. Meanwhile Trump distracts the citizens of this nation by pitting them against each other over trivial issues like wearing masks to combat the Covid19 pandemic. I get so angry at times I wish there were a hell for Trump to face when he’s done with this world. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Staring at that garbage pile I was angry at our nation for allowing this trashy jerk of a con man to do this to our country. I despise what his supporters have done to enable him, because they are contributors to the trash heap of history to which I pray that Trump is soon consigned. They care not whether people’s lives are destroyed by Trump’s feckless denial of the Coronavirus threat. They don’t give a shit if Trump’s fascist support of white supremacists and dog-whistle encouragement of police brutality winds up killing people right and left.

To Trump supporters all those lives are disposable. They are collateral damage to the supposed higher purpose of Making America Great Again.

MAGA is a pile of garbage

So let’s be blunt. MAGA is the biggest pile of garbage that America has ever been fed. And I do blame religious hucksters like the soft-spoken zealots at TBN and the Moody Bible Institute and the entire spectrum of garbage theologians preaching biblical literalism and creationism. All this is designed to gain and maintain political control while real problems like climate change threaten the entire human civilization, and we’re not doing a damned thing about it. Because Jesus is coming back to fix it all. What a garbage claim for anyone to make.

Jesus himself would tell these jerks they’re the purveyors of garbage and creating a hell on earth. The original definition of “hell” was the town garbage pit where everything from human waste to dead bodies was tossed into a pit and left to rot in the sun. I quote from a Medium.com blog by Ali Kellogg explaining what the notion of hell was all about:

Gehenna was a real garbage pit. Hell on earth.

(Gehenna) was originally used by the ancient Israelites who sacrificed children and burnt their bodies to appease the pagan Canaanite god Molech. In Leviticus 18:20, God expressed his hatred of the false god Molech, and deemed the place unclean. Gehenna was eventually used as a landfill by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, where people took their trash to be burned. The place began to wreak havoc on daily life in Jerusalem. The smell of burning sewage, flesh, maggots and garbage wreaked absolute havoc on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, causing documented medical problems like nausea and breathing difficulty. Clearly, the place was unpleasant — frightening even — and thus it’s no surprise that Gehenna was used, and still is today, as a metaphor for the final place of punishment for the wicked. It was first used as a symbolic depiction of Hell in Mark 9:47. Gehenna was translated to Hell later, around 1200AD.

Yes, I’m angry as hell at Trump’s supporters. They voted in a garbage president and are trying to tell us that he’s a messenger of God. But their version of Make America Great Again is actually a reincarnation of Gehenna. A garbage pit for the terminally selfish hoping only to discard whatever they find unworthy of their own heinous worldview.

Finally I turned away from the ad hoc garbage pit at the end of the abandoned industrial drive and started my run toward home. Along the way there were other piles of junk tossed from the trunk of cars. One almost has to be on foot to notice it all. Driving past in a vehicle, it all mixes in with the landscape.

But I noticed it. I’ve been watching stuff like this accrue in the landscape for years. And it’s not the way to Make America Great Again. Far from it.

Aren’t you sick of all this garbage? I bet you are. So it’s incumbent on those of us that vote for conscience and consideration to show up at the polls in November and vote this garbage purveyor out of office. And if he won’t leave, we’ll have to send in an armored backhoe, scoop up his orange highness and dump him in whatever Gehenna we can find.

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The wounds we carry with us and leave behind

People like us run and ride for a ton of reasons. Along the way, we experience pain, even invite it into our lives.

At other times, we avoid it. Try to block it out. Leave it behind.

It’s a strange set of sports that helps us do both. Embrace the pain for progress. Dispense with pain for recovery. It’s both an active and passive dance, and we haven’t even mentioned swimming.

The road itself does not heal us. But the idea of rolling down the road can. It loosens the spirit.

We mark some points on this journey with permanent memories.

“This is where I got hit by a car.”

“This is where I broke down crying after the death of my mother.”

“This is where I picked up a $20 bill.”

“This is where I heard John Lennon died.”

“This is where I saw that girl on a horse in her bikini.”

“This is where I quit that race and was so glad to be done I did not care.”

All these moments of dark and light and points in between.

Some are stains on our life. Others are the stains we release.

All I can say is that you have to keep running over the tarsnakes.

That’s how we all get over things. Past it. Beyond the pale. Call ourselves to account.

We run.

We ride.

We swim.

The wounds we carry with us and leave behind.

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A true-to-life tale about legs and other parts

I’ve always tried to be honest about everything written on this blog. Admittedly, a fair share of it is legitimately a form of therapy. My way of processing reality and dealing with challenges. And of course, pondering the aging process. I simply hope people can relate.

The photo above was taken probably ten years ago. I was in the midst of a solid year of cycling, which for me entailed riding between 2500 and 3000 miles. At the end of a long summer day, I sat down to relax on the living room sofa and noticed the July sun striking my body as it streamed through the large bay window on the west side of the house.

My legs looked strong and fit. Muscled even. They were shaved and tan, even shiny with a fitness glow. I took a photo to record that moment because I knew that youthfulness would not last forever. The purity of the moment.

I took the photo below this morning. It’s a bit more somber image. The skin of my legs has aged with time. I still shave my legs for cycling because it still feels right to do so. But it isn’t as smooth as it once was. There’s still a bit of self-adulation in the process. I’ll admit that. Vanity. Clinging to a self-image built over the years.

But things are clearly changing. The skin of my legs is getting that crepey look. They’ve absorbed a ton of sun over the years. That’s understandable given the 50,000 miles of running I’ve done in a forty year career. Add in tens of thousands of miles of cycling, and I can’t blame my legs for looking a bit older than they did at 52 years old versus now, within a month of my sixty-third birthday.

The funny thing about those legs is that they haven’t necessarily slowed down or weakened all that much from ten years ago. This past weekend I rode 63 miles with my wife Suzanne. We averaged 19.5 mph for the distance. Some of it was in strong crosswinds and headwinds, and that long bit at the end was flying along with a tailwind. It still takes pedal power to make your bike go 30 mph even with the wind behind you. Just lake week I also dropped my run pace to 7:00 per mile to close out a four-miler.

And my brain actually works better than eve. I can promise you that. Some aspects of aging actually clear the senses.

Granted, there are some things you can’t change about aging. The years catch with your body eventually. I see it most in my face on a daily basis. The hollows and wattles and wrinkles and crow’s feet surprise (even depress) me sometimes. So I try to smile a ton in public and social situations. A smile at least makes you feel younger. And no one likes a dour old man.

It is a battle for everyone against time when it comes to body image. For me, the rim of pudge on my belly bothers me deeply. Yet I still like my body now as much as any point in my life. That’s a healthy thing in general, an idea celebrated in Walt Whitman’s epic poem Song of Myself:

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.

Why should we not continue this sensuous journey through all of life? Why should we deny ourselves the thrill of going fast, or other things, if we feel it good to do so? Or to go slow, limbs wrapped around limbs, and loving so?

I’ve always been known for quoting my favorite line from the book Ambiguous Adventure by Cheik Hamidou Kane.

The purity of the moment is made from the absence of time.

And so it ever shall be, hopefully.

Posted in aging, aging is not for the weak of heart, Christopher Cudworth, Depression, healthy aging, healthy senior, mental health, triathlete, triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blasts from the past

Perhaps you’ve experienced a few encounters online the past year or so in which people openly defy practical truth in favor of their closely embraced ideology. Much of the world, it seems, is quite busy manufacturing their own version of reality, clinging to it with all their might, or trying to force it on others to affirm their own sense of worth.

The pandemic and political climate in America (and probably the whole world) is making people more determined than ever to make the latter come true. Just this morning I was forced to block a guy on Linkedin whose frequent posts are full of delusional political and religious ravings. Then he went on the attack through Messages.

I first met him back in the late 1980s while working at a newspaper. We were both a little disturbed by the policies and behavior of management at the time, so we commiserated and sought ways to bring about positive change. Apparently he went down a tough road after that.

Prison chaplain

As he described it, he’s been through financial and work issues, plus the loss of his father to problems caused by service in the Vietnam War. He also made it a point to tell me that his family tree has served in the military for three hundred years…and what had I done to serve my country? He also demanded to know what sacrifices had I experienced and what hardships in life have I ever had to suffer?

It’s hard to put all that anger into perspective without actually talking to him. These days he’s a prison chaplain who worships a sect based on an ancient priest and martyr that he explains as something “Christians like you have long forgotten about.” I explained that I’ve read quite a bit about Christian history. But that didn’t satisfy him.

Blasts from the past

Lacking progress in his attacks, he tried to close his point by stating that he thought I’ve always had too high of an opinion of myself, and that the “secretaries” at the newspaper secretly complained that I showed up in the office in the afternoon with sleep lines on my face from taking naps away from the office during the afternoon.

That I found both revealing and funny. There were indeed salespeople who took breaks during the day to take naps, but it wasn’t me. I knew this for a fact because I was invited to one of their homes on a workday, only to find three of them lying around with their ties and shoes off, watching Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke and I Dream of Jeannie to pass the morning away. I was aghast, but they were friends, so I let it pass and went on my way. To each their own. I had a job to do in providing for my family.

Working it out

Far from taking naps during the day, my preference was to grab a workout if time permitted. That worked off stress and kept me focused on the day. If I went home during lunch it was typically to go for a four-mile run, grab a shower and get back out there selling or promoting the paper once I moved up to that position.

So his recollections might be accurate about people showing up with nap lines on their face, but it generally wasn’t me. That might have happened one time.

Yet he is projecting that memory on me for his own angry benefit. Granted, his view that I had a high opinion of myself was probably accurate in some sense. It takes every bit of confidence one can muster to go out there and sell ads or sponsorships in a competitive market. Once I had moved over to marketing, it took guts and creativity to conceive and execute programs to increase circulation, drive value-added sales and create collaborative programs with community partners, NGOs and municipal partners.

By example, I developed a program with ten local banks to use subscriptions as an incentive for opening new accounts. It happened that the $10 base value required as a bank incentive matched well with what the circulation manager needed to gain in compensation to qualify as paid circulation for a set period of weeks. We launched the program and it drove more than 100 new paid subscriptions in a week. The promotion was so successful it drove the circulation manager into closing it down because it scared him. He didn’t like things that weren’t under his direct control, you see.

Conflicted natures

Behind all the bravado and drive it took to implement programs such as those, I was an admittedly insecure guy simply trying to make a living for his family. I had anxiety, for one thing, that sometimes bordered on depression. Over the years, I learned healthy strategies to address both of those. But during that period, my self-opinion was typically more critical than “having a high opinion of myself.”

But my sense of social justice was a far more powerful instinct. So was my notion that a fair workplace was important. About that I was always deliberately an advocate. I may have been confused at times by office politics, but my native sense of right and wrong was unwavering. Over the years I helped co-workers find legal representation when they experienced sexual harassment, and stuck up for direct reports assigned insane extra work for which they were not being compensated. The latter cost me considerable personal political capital, and I wound up leaving the company. But I have no regrets about that. Doing the right thing often requires sacrifice.

Some of those ardently “socialistic” tendencies came from aspects of my upbringing related to the exasperations of a demanding father. But it also had to do with personal values instilled in me by a lifelong involvement in Christianity.

Yet rather than inquire about anything along those lines, this “friend” on Linkedin instead accused me of being a hopeless liberal and Leftist whose “commie” ideals were ignorant and impractical in this world. In this era of political and cultural conflict, he is not the only “friend” that has gone wholeheartedly ballistic about such issues or told me I was fucked in the head.

I find it ironic that some call me arrogant for thinking I’m so smart while others brand me stupid for failing to recognize the genius of their typically shallow mirth at “winning” in some aspect of the culture wars.

Performance matters

To me it is performance that matters. When that Linkedin accuser questioned whether I’d ever had to suffer or persevere in life, he presumed or imagined that I was a namby-pamby commentator whose life was easy and/or consumed with complicity with liberal ideals, and nothing else. He doesn’t know about the prolonged period of simultaneous caregiving I sustained for a mother who died from cancer, a father who was a stroke victim and a wife who died from cancer after eight years of treatment. All while ushering kids through high school and college, and trying to remain gainfully employed even after companies fired me the day after they learned my wife was sick.

Rather than respond, I probably should have just unfollowed and blocked the Linkedin tormentor who turned into a Blast from the Past. Chalk that one up to Lessons Learned Again. But if we all give in to this insane brand of fascist aggression consuming our culture today, it is clear that repression and oppression will win the day. That’s where things are headed.

If I’ve learned anything from forty years as a competitive athlete, it’s that the most aggressive among us are often the most fearful and insecure. I’ve seen it happen time and again in the competitive arena. It takes place everywhere from pickup basketball games to the highest level of competitive sports. People often try to cajole and bluster their way to victory.

Rage vs fear

I think of the musclebound softball team that had long intimidated the Sunday league until our hit and run crew came along with the fundamental game of good defense to finally beat them. You could hear their voices go from bluster to rage to fear in the course of a couple innings as our runs piled up and their control of the game slipped away. Their voices passed from triumphal taunts to near pitiful complaint. But they never dominated us again. We owned them for eight straight years in both league and championship play. They won a game or two, but never a series, and certainly not the overall title. Their days of triumphal reign were over.

I recognize the same angry triumphalism in the tactics of the Linkedin despot and the cult-like worship of religio-fascist dominating America today. The false compliments hiding personal taunts, followed by insults. The desperate ploys to undercut and undermine other––especially with personal insults and inaccurate information ––while claiming victimhood for themselves. It seems so many lives are now spent obsessing about the persecution the world imposes on their carefully concocted worldview. “Life’s not fair for people like me!” goes the rave. “And it’s people like you that make it unfair.”

Willful misinformation

But in reality, it is people who willfully get their information wrong and choose for heroes the forceful icons of religious anachronism and political brutality that for millennia have turned this world into a hell on earth. That is the blast from the past that has emerged to impact the present. It is the classic tactic of advancing self-profiting lies in order to dominate the dialogue and try to make others give up. Much of it is disguised as “tradition,” just as the religious authorities who conspired against Jesus chose to do. Their self-righteousness is wrapped either in robes or flags, but it’s the same shitty fabric either way.

Covering yourself in a garment of patriotism or religious fervor (or both) is a shallow trick, but it often works. Until it doesn’t.

Race day clarity

I recall the day that I started a five-mile race and was half a mile into the course when a guy next to me turned and said, “How fast are you running today?” He was trying to broker a victory for himself.

Without looking over at him, I stated, “Faster than you.” Then I took off with determination, gapped him by an immediate 150 yards and went on to win the race in 24:49. I never saw him again.

Accurate truths

Now I ask you: Was that because, as my Linkedin tormenter suggested, that I had a “high opinion of myself?” Or was it simply because I was prepared to do the right thing and carried it out? If we’re going to talk about liberalism, or being a “liberal,” then let’s define it accurately:

Liberal: favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.

Not a word in there about oppressing the rights of others, or for that matter, as a construct of the culture wars today, not taking away religious freedoms. A liberal believes that its equally fair to provide freedom from religion, just like it was fair of me to exercise freedom from the constraints of that runner trying to manipulate me to run his brand of race.

The world is a confusing place when so many people are trying to manipulate the outcome by turning races of every kind into a brokered venture of purpose and values in order to come out looking like a (the) winner. That vicarious collapse of values opens a void into which the false heroics of fraud and deception so easily come marching in.

And I think you know who I’m talking about.

Posted in 10K, Christopher Cudworth, competition, death, Depression, evangelical Christianity, running | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s always someone faster than you, and often it’s a woman

Yesterday afternoon was hot. Ninety-plus degrees hot.

But my planned run on the Great Western Trail promised shade for much of the way. So I parked the car and wandered over to the trailhead and stretched a bit. A mother and daughter walked past and started their run ahead of me.

I figured that I might catch them at some point. For one that was true. For the other, not so much. The mom was rolling along at 9:00 pace, which is faster than I typically warm up the first mile. The daughter, she was flying. Like, almost out of sight flying.

As the mile marker passed I did catch up with the mom. “That first mile is awful,” I offered. She smiled and laughed. Then I picked up the pace a little.

She’s rolling

Looking up the trail a bit, I could see the daughter several hundred yards ahead. Her long ponytail was flying back and forth, catching sunlight as she passed through the tunnel formed by the trees. The old railroad bed has been a trail now for thirty-plus years. But I still recall the engines and long trains running down the line.

During the second mile, with my body warmed up a bit, I dropped the pace from 8:55 to 8:10. The trail crosses a street and passes through more trees to the two mile mark.

Return trip

The daughter came whipping back in the other direction. She was cruising. While I was moving along pretty well, catching her was clearly out of the question.

As I started back from the two-mile mark, a pair of scratchy footsteps showed up behind me. Taking a quick glimpse back, something in me decided not to let the guy pass me. The third mile dropped to 7:47. I wasn’t straining. But the guy was still running ten yards behind.

That annoyed me a bit. Whatever his motivation, kind or cruel, I rather wished he would make up his mind to either pass and leave me in the dust or come run along beside me. As it was, his scritchy feet kept their pace, so I dialed it up another notch.

Dialing it up

Now I was running 7:00 mile pace. It was actually in my mind to do a short, uptempo run with negative splits. So I wasn’t necessarily running faster just to beat the bastard behind me. But it worked as a motivation. So I kept on running.

The trail goes up and over a bridge above Peck Road. I was running so smoothly by then, my feet hardly made a sound on the wooden slats. And when I came down the other side to return to the gravel trail, the sound of my semi-invisible foe was gone.

Perhaps he just turned around and went back to where his run began. I didn’t study him long enough to know whether he was a young guy just toying with me or what. At any rate, I kept the pace going up the incline and back to trailhead and clicked my watch at exactly four miles and exactly 32:00. That meant eight-minute pace, flat.

“Not a bad run,” I thought to myself.

Introductions

Emily Martin of New Mexico Lobos

Walking around the parking lot to cool down, I noticed the mom and her daughter doing the same. I complimented them both on their running and learned that the young lady just graduated from the University of New Mexico, where she’d just earned All-America status in track and field with a time of 15:52 for the 5K. That’s a fast time for any runner.

Her name is Emily Martin and her mother Diane raised a family of athletes, all high achievers. She ran for Rosary in high school and was All-State. We chatted about how strange it was to lose her senior year track season to the pandemic, and what comes next, since the NCAA appears willing to grant her one more competitive year or season. But where should she go?

As a nursing student, there is a definite career track to follow, and plenty still to learn. But first she might consider nursing her running career a bit further. Clearly she’s got tons of talent. Yesterday on her training run she averaged 7:20 per mile. I might have been able to keep up if I was racing at that pace these days, but it would have hurt eventually. For Emily, it was just another brisk run for fitness. I miss those days. LOL.

I love meeting people who love to run. And clearly, some of my competitive urges remain in this body and brain of mine. It took a while to stop sweating on such a hot day, and the memories of flying along at my own best pace stick with me too.

There’s always someone faster than you, I reminded myself. And often it’s a woman.

Posted in 5K, aging, Christopher Cudworth, college, competition, cross country, healthy aging, running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

All-in on the orange today

Some days you wake up, get dressed and get on your way without much thinking about what to wear.

But for reasons deep within my peachy skull, today I wanted to wear orange.

I like orange. It makes me happy. Orange is a color with tons of meanings. Here’s what the Internet says:

Orange…combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation. … In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.

What’s not to like about the color orange? Those are all qualities I love to exhibit in my own personality. So I tossed together an outfit that pulled out every bit of orange I owned, except the shorts. I had to maintain my full Dad status somehow.

That orange Nike cap is one that I’ve owned for 15 years at least. It is a stretchy fabric hat that has shrunk slightly over the years. It’s a little tight now, but it is such a happy tinge of orange I refuse to throw it away.

The orange shirt is also a Nike product. I bought it back when I owned a pair of orange and gray running shoes, the only pair of that color combination I’ve ever owned. And sure enough, I also owned a pair of matching orange running shorts. Those I lost over the years. What a shame. LOL.

The socks were given to me last Christmas. They say RUN FOR BEER on the back. The shoes are a gift from my friend Monte who was convinced to buy a pair of Newton running treads by a kid at a local running store. They never fit him and those raised ridges on the forefoot just game him sore arches.

And let’s not forget the deep orange underwear that I am wearing under my Dad Shorts! Those were a Banana Republic gift from my wife. Orange you glad that I shared this picture with you?

So there you have it, Orange from Head to Toe, and why I’m wearing it. Enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation. … In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.

I’ll keep the orange shirt and socks on during my run tonight, and probably the hat too. The shorts I’ll substitute with something suiting more for running. And then I’ll go out and show some strength and endurance. But not my underwear.

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Have you ever had food poisoning from a restaurant?

Reports on the website IWasPoisoned.com provide real-time reports of food poisoning across the country.

While we’re all eager to get back to dining out, and restaurants welcome us back in the wake of this pandemic, it is a good time to appreciate the laws governing healthy food handling practices.

In case you don’t realize the importance of governmental organizations such as your county health department, all it takes to appreciate such laws is a tour through a website such as IWasPoisoned.com. The site gathers information about food poisoning events from real people like you and I.

At the risk of making you never want to dine out at a fast food restaurant ever again, we’ll share an example of a testimonial (if you want to call it that) about a food poisoning experience as reported on Iwaspoisoned.com. This one is from a Burger King near my home that captures just one of thousands of such reports:

“I got an Impossible Whopper combo meal yesterday for lunch. Within an hour I began feeling as if something was wrong. I soon began to experience vomiting and diarrhea. I took an anti-nausea medication, which stopped the vomiting, but the bloating of my abdomen and the diarrhea continued for several hours after. I realized that, the last time I got an Impossible Whopper from a different location, I also got sick in the exact same way. Prior to this I had eaten the Impossible Whopper several times without incident that I can remember. After an online search I found several reports that other people have experienced food poisoning-like symptoms after eating this product. Clearly there is a dangerous problem here that needs attention. ”

Have a pizza that, willya?

My own experience with food poisoning is fortunately limited. But I nearly died from the worst incident of all. I visited a pizza franchise restaurant while in Michigan for a national track competition. That night is one I’ll never forget. After racing in the steeplechase on Saturday afternoon, I ate almost an entire medium pizza, then went back to the hotel with teammates to sleep it off.

An hour or so later I started feeling queasy. For the rest of the night I was violently sick and threw up everything I’d eaten and more. At an already lean 139 lbs at 6’1.5″, I was skinny, plus a bit dehydrated from racing in the heat that day. Overnight I lost nearly six pounds in water weight and wound up with aching ribs and tingling fingers from dehydration. The convulsions associated with devastating food poisoning continued well into the morning.

As was the practice in the days of close college expenses, our track teammates shared beds in the hotel room. My college roommate and I shared a bed, and he was forced to deal with the dire situation. In the morning, our coach came in to check on me and told me everything would be okay. I replied, “If you don’t take me to the hospital right now, I’ll die.”

So we drove to the hospital and they plopped my skinny body into a wheelchair. In the emergency room I was pumped full of IV fluids and essentially force-fed some thick nutrient drink and bananas. Thus somewhat recovered (more like saved) I was discharged and we drove to Illinois where coach dropped me off at home.

Heat vs. Poison

For years I thought it was heat prostration that had caused that illness. It made sense that racing in conditions when the temps were in the high 80s and equally thick humidity could make you sick. Then one day while running on a hot day, I was thinking back on the circumstances of that race and suddenly recalled eating that pizza. A light finally went on: “That wasn’t the heat,” I said out loud during a run. “It was the goddamned pizza.”

Food service nightmares

I’ve worked in food service on several occasions during my life, specifically in the college union where the job included cooking scrambled eggs and flipping pancakes, to name a few. The pressures of keeping up the pace while taking precautions to make sure food is properly prepared is the responsibility of everyone that works with food. And that’s where the laws of local health authorities have the most impact. Or not.

Right now the website for the Kane County Health Department that oversees laws governing food and other safety issues is dominated by information about the Covid-19 pandemic. The reports it shares are both helpful and daunting. It sure makes you appreciate the food precautions being taken at everything from restaurants to local grocery stores. Those gloves and masks worn by food service employees are critical to protection of public health.

Because food poisoning really can get bad enough to kill you. But it’s also not the only thing we’re concerned about right now. Preventing the spread of Coronavirus infection is vital to public health and safety. Despite that reality, there are selfish dweebs on Twitter right now boasting that they’re never going to wear a mask because it infringes upon their personal freedom. That is ignorant, naive and irresponsible. But that’s the mentality of people accustomed to selfish denial of reality.

The poison menu of denial

Illustration of Donald Trump by Christopher Cudworth

This pandemic is far worse than it should be, you see. From the outset, the United States was served up a menu of denial and indifference from the President. That led to two months of delay in our country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet Trump’s supporters love to claim that he did all he could to respond to this public health crisis. But that’s a poison lie. In fact the real pandemic in this country is the dialogue being served up in support of a man who doesn’t give a damn who gets sick and dies as long as he’s allowed to claim victory and get re-elected for his own sake. Clear evidence of that indifference is the waiver Trump requires attendees at his own rallies to sign so that he can’t be held responsible if they take ill and die.

This is the actual language posted on the registration site for Trump rallies:

By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.

That’s a big Fuck You and Tought Luck If You Die to his own supporters. So you can imagine how Trump regards the rest of us, the majority in this country placed at risk by his own Fuck You attitudes.

Green hamburgers

This image was admittedly stolen from somewhere on the Internet. Take credit if it’s yours or I can take it down. But it sure fits this screed.

It’s like Trump is serving everyone hamburgers green with decay and his supporters are gobbling them up as if they were food from the gods. Meanwhile nearly 120,000 Americans have died since Trump declared the whole thing a “hoax” that would “disappear” like a “miracle” because he waved his tiny hands and declared it so.

If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you’ll know that it’s not a hoax. If you’ve been sick with worry during this pandemic, or had this illness or even lost someone you know to Covid-19, you know that it isn’t Fake News.

But this pandemic is also far from over, health experts predict. The worst part of that reality is the Poison President still has control of this country and is encouraging people to flaunt the laws prescribed to protect us all. As a result, even more people will get sick. More people will die. The really sick part is that the President of the United States does not give a damn who lives and dies as long as his deluded base of supporters somehow vote him back into power. His religious backers claim that God is on his side. That makes God a vicious, mendacious brute who loves some people more than others because they simply want their way.

Report Trump at IWasPoisoned.com

Every single person infected (or affected) by Covid-19 should report Donald Trump on Iwaspoisoned.com. In fact the whole country should call in sick and report the President for not wearing a mask in public. For not trusting the warnings of his own health inspectors and pandemic experts. For refusing to act when he could, then blaming everyone from China to the Democrats for his own failure in responsibilities. The poison Whopper that Trump served the United States was that Covid-19 was all a lie. It’s enough to make you puke.

This is what I wrote on IWasPoisoned.com. You can do it too.

“Every time I sit down to eat in America right now, I feel sick at the thought that our nation was poisoned with Coronavirus and Covid-19 due to the delay of action by the President of the United States of America in taking proper precautions to prevent the spread of this disease. He refuses to wear a mask in public. He is holding rallies while requiring his attendees to sign a waiver excusing him from responsibility if they get sick. This is poisoning to our nation.”

I Was Poisoned should hear from all of us.

Note: This is the public information posted on IWasPoisoned.com to educate people on the dangers of food poisoning:

What is food poisoning and how you can get it

Food poisoning is common, costly and preventable. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food every year.

It can happen after food has been adulterated with physical, chemical and biological contaminants — or any combination of those. Physical can include such products as rubber or glass; chemical can include such toxins as bleach and mercury; and biological can include many types of bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Food can be contaminated before it reaches a grocery store or home kitchen, and sometimes those who prepare food at a restaurant can pass along norovirus – the germ that is the leading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks worldwide.  

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Back in the swim

Things are a bit different at the pool now that we’re Back in the Swim.

This morning marked the first day back at the pool. Our fitness center has all the precautions in place, including hourly deck-cleaning sessions to chemically treat the surfaces outside the pool water.

It seems strange and extreme to watch people going through these motions on our behalf. Part of me feels guilty for even taking advantage of such efforts. But the gal at the desk admitted she’s glad to be back at work, “I need the money!” she chuckled, faux-clapping her hands together.

And that’s how it goes. Our needs and wants are what will drag our economy and the country back toward some sort of normalcy. It stuns me that 70% of the American economy is based on consumer purchasing. That doesn’t seem healthy in many respects.

As for the water in the pool, it was clean and clear and cool. I swam a mile at just under 2:00 per hundred yards. Not fast, but not terrible either. It felt good to put the pectoral muscles and lats back into use. My fitness is good from running and cycling. I guess I’m grateful all around to be active, engaged and trying to stay healthy.

Hope you enjoy the video I made about Back In the Swim. There will be more video features on this blog in the future.

Take care from We Run and Ride. (And swim).

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We’re all on a lifelong mission of self-recovery

In this photo I’m in 31:00 10k shape (right) with my former college teammates during a 1984 training run.

At one point during my early 20s, I worked part-time jobs while training nearly full-time as a distance runner. Though I knew I wasn’t world class by any means, the mood among serious runners in the early 80s was one of commitment. It felt like mission to find out how good you could be.

In the years 1983 and 84, and bleeding somewhat into the year 1985, we all raced frequently and as fast as we could go. This wasn’t the “I did a 26.2 or 13.1 set.” This was hard, fast 5Ks, five-milers and 10Ks. It was the occasional ten-mile road race in the heat of summer, or the cold half marathons of mid-spring and fall, when the temps shivering your skinny ass at the start and winds often buffeted those willing to stay out that long.

Quite a bit of self-knowledge and discovery comes from a few years of that kind of effort. I learned so much that there came a time, not long after I got married in 1985, that I realized the journey of hard competition should come to an end.

Over the years, I kept running because it saves my brain from the native anxiety and brain chemistry that is part of my genetic makeup. Plus I like staying fit. Finally I added cycling as a complement to running in the early 2000s, and in 2014 even swimming entered the picture.

Perhaps you have a journey that is much different than mine. It might have started in high school or much later in life. I’ve profiled a number of people in this blog during the last eight years. Their stories fascinate me. Their missions too. From young athletes to aging warriors like myself, their stories are all important.

I often compare my own continuing journey to the people met along the way. But sometimes I even compare the journey of today with my own history all those years ago.

That happened while I was engaged in a twelve-mile run with my wife Sue along the Fox River from North Aurora up to Geneva and back. My length of runs has been steadily increasing throughout this winter and spring. After a sucky, painful, disturbing year last year, 2020 has seen a bit of recovery.

In 1985 with my brother-in-law Paul Mues in which we teamed up for a duathlon.

If that seems strange to say in the face of a pandemic and a wobbling economy, so be it. We can only tend our own garden, to quote the book Candide.

Week-by-week, as my wife can testify, I’ve added a mile to the weekly longer runs. It started with 6-7 miles. Then came a few runs of eight. A nine-miler was encouraging in that my hips did not tighten up as they done the last few years during long days. Finally I topped ten miles and the Garmin said, “Congratulations! Your longest run!”

The goal is the run 13.1 in a healthy fashion so that I can do a Half-Ironman someday. Ironically, I haven’t even done and Olympic. That’s only because I was alternately injured and sick most of last year. But my swimming progressed throughout and swimming a mile is now possible for me. In fact, I enjoy it.

The mission to recovery of fitness includes mental health as well as physical training.

That and the hip tightness was holding me back from tackling a Half-Ironman. But yesterday I ran twelve miles with negative splits the last four miles as I dropped rom 9:00 to 8:40, then 8:20 and actually ran the last mile in mostly sub-8:00 pace.

At the nine mile mark it was clear in my head that the run would end well. It was still possible that I’d tighten up, but every time that thought entered my head I relaxed and shortened the stride slight and kept running easily and faster.

I’ve been on a mission of self-recovery. Perhaps you have been down this path as well. I’d love to hear your story if you’re willing to share. It’s a fun thing to engage in the profile process as my recent subjects can testify. Where have you been? Where are you going? What motivates you? Let’s talk.

cudworthfix@gmail.com

Posted in 10K, 13.1, 5K, aging, aging is not for the weak of heart, anxiety, cycling, healthy aging, IRONMAN, marathon, racing peak, swimming | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The problem with Covid-19 and all that crap

Public Restrooms are closed in most parks and forest preserves. That puts athletes in a crappy bind.

While most of the world is sick of Shelter At Home orders and stores and businesses being closed due to Coronavirus, those of us that run and ride and swim face a genuinely vexing problem while we try to stay healthy, get fresh air and get outside to keep from going crazy inside.

All the public toilets are closed.

At least, that’s been the case here in Illinois for months now. That means when nature calls, especially on the run, one has to improvise. Which means crapping in the woods.

I’m used to that after fifty years of being an outdoors type. And by necessity and years of earnest triathlon training, my wife’s gotten pretty damned practical about these issues too. And they are issues. To be dealt with. Sometimes urgently.

First resorts

During our ten mile running route on trails from North Aurora up to Batavia or Geneva and back, there is just one bathroom that’s been available for the last three months. That’s the McDonald’s in Batavia. So that’s our first resort. But sometimes the urge to crap hits sooner than that, or later. That means hitting the woods is our last resort.

My instincts and nature knowledge point me to wide, broad leafs such as maple or oak. These work well as toilet paper even during the winter months. They may be a little chilly then, but they do the trick. During the summer months, those are good options as well. Grapes leaves are probably the best of all, since they are quickly recognizable, tear off the vine easily and typically offer a plethora of options once you’re near the plant.

Poison ivy plants have three leaves in a pattern like this.

Leaves of ass

In spring and summer, the danger of going to the bathroom in the woods is coming into contact with poison ivy and poison oak leaves. Both typically grow close to the ground. The classic poison ivy leaf arrangement is three leaves as pictured at right. But sometimes it grows as a vine, and can climb up trees. So does poison oak.

Both are plants that most of us want to avoid touching at all costs. Years ago I contracted a case of poison ivy that would not go away because little to my knowledge, the oils that cause the itching coated my boot laces. Every time I touched those boots I was picking up more poison ivy.

Treatments

I treated it with a product that dried out the oils over a period of a couple days. The stuff is called Tecnu and I will testify that it works. It’s best to use it in the shower as I recall. You scrub it on and leave it on. It’s gritty in texture and actually feels good as you rub it on the red spots. It’s like you get to kill the rash. I like that. After a few minutes you wash it off, being careful to wash your hands with it as well. But follow the instructions on the label. Don’t trust my version of it.

Worst case scenarios

If you contract poison ivy badly from squatting down in the weeds to poop, it can spread quickly and badly. One of our female athletes at Luther College stopped to “go” during a 20-mile run and did not recognize poison ivy when she chose a plant with which to wipe herself. It spread throughout her system and she had to wear bandages all over her body.

So while you might find yourself having to take a crap in the woods while the pandemic restrictions on public bathrooms remain, I’m telling you that you don’t want to mess around with poison ivy. Learn what it looks like, and how to avoid it. The American Academy of Dermatology has information about what to do if you get a serious case of the itches. It is recommended reading if you living wherever poison ivy and poison oak exist.

It’s bad enough having to crap in the woods. You don’t want to take crap like a poison ivy skin infection home with you. It’s one of the tarsnakes of being outdoorsy that you run risks like this. A little knowledge goes a long way.

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