Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Painter

I'm not quite sure what this picture has to do with the topic I'm about to cover but it is a beautiful picture of the Czarina with Natasha taken a few years ago.  It came to my attention this weekend that the Czarina had never painted before.  By painting I mean grabbing a brush and a bucket of paint and covering a wall in a bathroom or living room or where ever.  I was a little surprised by this admission.

She wanted to paint to of our closets before we have them customized.  We had these cheap wire racks that kept pulling out of the walls.  A neighbor had this company do their closets so we thought, why not?  But first she wanted to paint.

The previous owner of our home kept records on everything including the exact colors of what everything is painted.  So on Sunday we made the pilgrimage to Home Depot with the color in hand to get the necessary things to make the Czarina's painting dream come true. 

Much to my surprise the consultant directed us to some brushes and advised us not to use rollers to paint the closets.  I wasn't doing the painting so I didn't care.  The Czarina plunged into the project with mixed results.  She queried me as to my painting experience and I shared that I had done some painting for pay back in the day and did some projects for my mom.  The conversation ended there.

By Monday she was frustrated by the outcome.  She hadn't mastered the technique of using a brush so the two coats looked pretty uneven.  The Czarina asked me about using a roller and I said go for it.

Tonight I got boiled like a scalded dog.  Why hadn't I recommended a roller before?  Aren't you the painting expert?  I explained that if I had suggested a roller after the advice from the Home Depot guy it would have led to an argument which I sought to avoid.  That only made her madder.  She accomplished in about a third of the time what had taken her about six hours.  She wasn't happy me.  But the closets look great!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Time to return to the chronicle of my career in broadcast journalism.  I started 1999 as the Senior Executive Producer in FOX 4 in Kansas City.  It was the beginning of my 12th year at a station I had worked at on three separate occasions.  My mother had just passed away and her sister a few weeks after that.  Life was unsettled.

To start the year my Uncle Bob who had undergone surgery for lung cancer the previous June would learn in January that he had a brain tumor.  The surgery changed his life and that of his family in ways that I can't even describe.  I have written about my uncle before and he was an important figure in my life.  The crush of bad family news left me with many a sleepless night.

I had been dating here and there for the last couple of years and on Valentine Days I had arraigned an on-line meeting with a woman from Russia.  We met at a Barnes and Nobles north of the river.  I remember the bright yellow blouse she wore, the freckles and big smile.  I offered to buy her coffee.  Little did I know that we would be married four months later. 

To quote Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." My personal life was a train wreck until I met the Czarina.  I don't know why but I knew I needed her in my life.  I saw an inner strength that I lacked.  I gained a whole new family that I love dearly.

Getting married made me reassess my entire life.  Work was a mess.  I was up for a promotion that I didn't get.  The whole deal was a cluster fuck and while I'm not saying I got screwed but if I didn't then Sindy Gaona did.  I ran a tight crew at night.  We were really good at seeing the tree in the forest and turning great stories.  Our new assistant news director didn't hesitate to exploit our abilities to his own benefit and that pissed me off in no uncertain terms.

I had a choice to make.  I could go running to my news director and whine like a little bitch or try one final time to travel the news director path.  I chose the later.  Looking back I wish I had stuck it out.  I was being self-centered.  I overlooked the needs of my new family and in particular the needs of my new 16-year-old stepson.  Andrei had been whipsawed from Latvia to a new high school in Kansas City.  Then he was uprooted to a second high school for his sophomore year.  Another move would mean three high schools in three years. 

Work wise I was at the top of my game.  The right opportunity came along.  Our new GM had forced me to quit working on my graduate degree so I felt backed into a corner.  I could either quit and finish my masters or take a news directors position in Fargo, North Dakota. 

So in the space of 12 months I met a girl, married her dragged her to North Dakota.  It kind of makes me go what the fuck?  I miss WDAF everyday.  I miss Mike Lewis, Fritz Kramer, Scott DeJong, Sindy Gaona, J.W. Edwards, Randy Davis, John Holt, Phil Witt, Al Wallace, Jana Calkins, Tom SiFuentes and so many engineers and talented people that there is not enough space to tell them what they mean to me to this very day.  But in the end I needed to experience Fargo.  And those three years in the great white north mean more to me than any that I've worked in this god forsaken business.  But that's a whole nother blog.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Made to be Broken

It's what they say about records.  Sooner or later a record will fall.  This morning one that lasted 33 years fell to the feet of a senior from Shawnee Mission West.  Jonah Heng took down the 3200 record held by one of the greatest distance runners Kansas ever produced, Brent Steiner.  Heng ran 9:06.64 to win his first state championship this morning saving more than a second from Steiner's 9:08.18 set in 1979.
Steiner ran the greatest 2 mile in Kansas high school history in the summer of 1978 losing an epic battle with Louisiana's Bobby Beck at the Junior Olympics.  Steiner ran 8:46.99 to take down the state record set by Wichita East's Randy Smith at the Kansas Relays in 1971. 

Steiner seen here on the right in front of the late, great Verlyn Schmidt went on to become an All American in cross country at Kansas.  But it wasn't until he became a duathlete in the late 1980's did he make his mark.  He became the best in the U.S.A. at running and biking.

It's difficult to call him the greatest 2 miler in Kansas history because a case could be still made for Smith.  His 8:54.4 at the Relays came on a Saturday following a 4:07.8 mile the day before.  He went on to become an All American at Wichita State in the steeplechase.  Smith captured the AAU National Championship in the steeple in 1975 and was a favorite to make the Olympic team the following year.  As you can see in the picture to the right it wasn't to be.  I captured this image just moments after Smith had bombed out in the preliminaries of the steeple at the 1976 Olympic Trials in Eugene.

If you factor in the difference in distance between 3200 and 2 miles Smith's 9:08.0 to win the state championship in 1971 still stands as a superior mark to Heng's effort.  But think of the potential.  Heng could become the greatest distance runner at a school that has produced some talented runners.

Tim Davis, a mile/800 specialist, ran 4:09.9 in 1975.  Nine years later Alex Hallock ran 9:08.6 for 3200 to put his name up alongside Davis as one of the best runners to ever come out of Shawnee Mission West.  Heng has two more years to erase those marks.  Tomorrow he runs the 1600 and who knows what he could run.  But he has a teammate who bears watching.  Junior Alli Cash has already run 4:45.63 for 1600 just off the all time state best and 10:32.01 for 3200.  Heng and Cash make quite a dynamic duo for the Vikings.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


What happened to this runner?  This 15 year old sprinting to the finish of a cross country meet in the fall of 1971 enjoyed fresh legs and a competitive spirit.  The spirit remains but the legs are shot.  Yet again my hamstrings have failed me, a problem I have lived with for the last 17 years.

My left hamstring started bothering me two weeks ago.  I nursed it along for a week or so then took time off.  Then I tried jogging over the weekend.  Sunday's 5 mile run was okay but I could tell trouble was brewing.  Monday I tried the eliptical trainer and last night the pain radiating down my left hip and leg was awful

I plan to rest for another week.  I know that it is the only way to get healthy.  Then when I start running again next Monday it will be short 2 or 3 mile jaunts for a week. 

I have to get healthy.  I have 2 months to get ready for the Lake Atwood 10 mile.  I shouldn't lose too much fitness by having 3 weeks of almost no activity which is what this will amount to.  What I have to do is get back to jogging so I can get some decent long runs in through the month of June to prepare for the race. 

It's all really annoying because there was nothing in my training that showed an injury was lurking.  It popped up out of nowhere like the last hamstring tweak in late December.  That one cost me most of the month of January.  It tells me one thing.  I just have to stick to pounding out the miles and avoid the temptation of speed work. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Television news is one fucked up business.  The consultants have ruined it.  The bean counters have gutted anything that contributes to quality storytelling that contributes to making the communities we live in better places.  I say this knowing that television has gone through many Golden Ages.  The newness and the live nature of 50's television.  The rise of Cronkite and the anchor as God in the 60's.  Great investigative journalism came to the fore in the 70's and by the 80's the technology caught up and we could be live just about anywhere our heart pleases. The bean counters took over in the 90's and with the growing influence of the Internet the journalism took a major back seat to the business of news.

I'm a dinosaur who believes in what I used to see at KARE in Minneapolis, 60 Minutes and yes even the well crafted feature by reporters like Wayne Freedman, Barry Bernson, John Pertzborn and Boyd Huppert.  They have the gift of telling a great story in an entertaining manner.  It's a rarity anymore as even some of the most prestigious TV news shops teeter closer to become journalistic sausage makers.

I write all this as I adjust to my new surroundings at WFTX in Fort Myers.  The station has the best focus of any news operation I've ever worked at and I've worked in some pretty top notch newsrooms.  Our resources are limited, both technologically and in the sheer numbers of bodies we have.  But our news director has such a razor sharp vision of what our role in our community is and in a lot of ways made this one of  the easiest newsroom environments I've ever experienced.

We try to stand up and be a voice for our viewers.  We work exceedingly hard at holding our government and business community accountable to the people they serve.  The tough part is that through our aggressiveness we've stepped on a few toes along the way.  Politicians don't like being persistently questioned about controversial topics that they don't want to discuss.  The same hold trues for PIO's for government agencies and area businesses that land in our cross-hairs.

The sad fact is that I took a great class about 15 years ago at K.U. that dealt with that yen and yang relationship between journalists, government and the business community.  The takeaway that I had is that the businesses, government and politicians that avoid negative press take a pro-active approach.  They don't dodge, delay or deflect when tough issues get laid at their doorstep.  They approach it head on and even in the light of negative press enjoy a positive community perception in the end. 

I was skeptical at first regarding our approach to our persistent approach for accountability.  In the past the station could be entirely too overzealous in that quest for truth.  But at least this newsroom has a consistent approach that positions us in a different light from that of our competitors who practice the it bleeds it leads style of journalism.  That's not to say WINK and WBBH don't do some outstanding in-depth reporting, but they are mirror images of themselves.  WFTX is attempting to succeed by taking the road less traveled and there's a sense of satisfaction from serving those who truly are the voiceless in a time where we all know, the media is the message.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Break Up the Banks

Too big to fail is going to kill the American economy.  This week's fiasco involving J.P. Morgan shows that nothing has changed since 2008.  It tells me the Justice Department needs to do what it accomplished 30 years ago when it broke up AT&T. 

Imagine a world without smart phones and instant communications.  Yes, maybe it would be a better world but if AT&T had been allowed to stay a telecommunications monopoly the information revolution we are currently enjoying would have taken decades longer to come to fruition.  AT&T had no competition to spur change and creativity. 

Right now America is dominated by a handful of banks.  The list isn't very long.  Chase (J.P. Morgan), Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and U.S. Bank.  Sure there are plenty of strong regional banks and local banks to choose from but one of the big boys catch a cold the smaller banks suffer as well. 

I don't have a clue as to how government can unwind this mess.  In my books commercial banks should stick to a few basic things. Commercial banks should provide business loans, personal loans, home loans, car loans and that's about it.  Complex derivative trading should not be included in what commercial banks engage in.  Leave that garbage to investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.  If J.P. Morgan wants to play that game it needs to shed itself of Chase.  

Commercial banks should engage in activities that don't require a PhD in mathematics.  Investment banks should be free to put profits over people but that formula doesn't work in commercial banking and the problem is too many Americans don't know or understand the difference.  If the Justice Department can't do it then Congress needs to get to work and force commercial banks to divest themselves of these trading entities.  The risk should fall on the backs of the Wall Street investors, not on the backs of hard working Americans who foolishly believe their savings institutions are a safe bet.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Juggling Dynamite

I did a speed workout last night, my first in 6 years.  The last time I ran quarters or anything "fast" outside of a race was in 2006 with the Sunflower Striders while I was working in Topeka.  I survived those sessions fairly well until my right Achilles gave out during a fast tempo run that I was doing on my own.  Three months later I had that Achilles surgically repaired and I haven't done any interval training since.

So the Czarina and I headed down to a local park for a 6:30 p.m. gathering with a local running club called The Speedsters.  Perry Small is the erstwhile coach.  He's the top masters runner in Southwest Florida.  Perry is a likeable fellow and understands the principals to running fast but I'm not sure his charges understand the point of his workouts.

It was plenty warm, about 88 degrees after our 1 mile warmup.  Perry told a large group of 25 or so runners to run 8 x 200 easy/hard, then 4 x 400 with a 1 minute rest interval followed by another set of the 8 x 200 easy/hard.  He wanted each fast repeat done at our 5K pace.  For me that meant running the 200's in 52 seconds or so and the 400's in 1:45.

On the first interval everyone dutifully jogged the first 200 and then all hell broke lose.  I know what 7 minute pace feels like and while everyone and their mother was flying by me I hit a 54 and proceeded to jog.  A group of guys my age that I'm competitive with were way off in the distance by the time we started the 400's.  I was running very close to the prescribed pace, or just a tad faster, between 7 minute and 6:45 per mile pace. 

As we hit the last set of 200's I noticed I was catching my age group rivals.  They were walking the jog intervals, having worn themselves out racing the intervals.  By the next to last 200 I had caught or passed all of them.  I made it through the last 200 with my left hamstring barking at me but feeling that I hadn't overexerted myself.

The Czarina made it through the entire workout but had to stop and walk a few of the last breaks.  She ended up finishing about 5 minutes behind me.  I was really proud of her effort because she's not used to interval training.  I think in our 13 years of running together we've done just 3 or 4 track workouts.

I'm paying the price today.  My left hamstring hurt all day long.  I had a trip to the chiropractor planned, my second this week.  Dr. Ziggy, as he's called, is using a laser on my arthritic right hip.  Much to my surprise the treatments have done an amazing job of masking the pain.  Instead of the hip hurting it just feels like something's there.  He treated the hamstring and gave me some sage advice, don't over do it.

I jogged 3 miles tonight at 9:50 and chuckled about my outing with The Speedsters.  My new boss is moving me to nights starting tomorrow so I don't know when or if I'll have another chance to do any speed work.  I'm a little disappointed because if I can stay healthy, a little interval training would really help.  Besides, it felt good busting up 20, 30, and 40 something's who don't understand that intervals aren't racing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lake Atwood Goes Dry, But Not Us

The little town of Atwood, Kansas can lay claim to putting on one of the top competitive road races in the Midwest through the late 1970's and early 1980's.  Only Kansas City's Hospital Hill Half Marathon offered better fields than the Lake Atwood 10 Mile.  A list of Lake Atwood competitors reads like a who's who of the top runners from Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska from that time period.

I returned to Atwood in 1974, 75, 77 and 78.  I skipped 76 because I had traveled to Eugene, Oregon for the Olympic Trials and another long road trip just wasn't in the cards that year.  My journeys to Atwood were usually pretty tame.  Bob Silipigini and I went together again in 74.  I thought I was in decent shape but I think the heat got to me because I ran 8 minutes slower than I had the year before and Bob nearly beat me.

1975 wasn't much better as I dropped out of the race.  I remember getting a terrible side-stitch after 7 miles and with the heat being in full effect I decided to call it a day.  It was the last race I ever dropped out from in which I didn't suffer a serious muscle pull.  But that was just the beginning of a giant misadventure.

First we headed to a post race pool party at the Atwood municipal pool.  Somewhere in the madness I managed to lock the keys to my mom's Ford Galaxie inside it.  Kent McDonald came to the rescue with a coat hanger and we picked up a 6 pack of beer for our trip to Hays where we planned to spend the night.

I had 14-year-old Jon Blubaugh and 17-year-old Steve Wright in tow.  We stopped in Colby hoping to steal some ice from the Best Western before heading out onto I-70.  The ice box was locked and when we got back to the car, it wouldn't start.  At 10 p.m. at night and nary a mechanic in sight and the Best Western full our sleeping options were limited.  So we walked the mile or so back into downtown Colby drinking our beer on the way and found some derelict depression era hotel.  No they wouldn't take a credit card.  We were very, very tired and screwed.

We went next door to the police station to plead our case.  We wanted the cops to front our hotel bill.  They offered us a night in jail and the look of terror in Steve's eyes told me he had enjoyed a previous experience behind bars and I talked them into calling my mom.  She vouched for us and I left my K.U. ID as insurance.  So the three of us crashed for the night in a dusty old fleabag for a horrible night of sleep.

Back at the car at 9 a.m. the mechanic left us with a little advice.  Don't turn off the car.  Of course the first thing I did when we hit a fast food joint in Hays was turn off the car.  Thank God the only auto shop open on a Sunday in Hays was one block away and we pushed the big Ford to the garage.  They had a used starter and went to work.  The mechanic in Hays revealed that it was a good thing we had stopped.  A piece of metal rattling around in the engine could have flown up into the drive shaft and destroyed the motor. Two and a half hours later we were back on the road with a heck of a story to tell when we returned to Lawrence.

Blubaugh and I went to the 76 Olympic Trials together and that's a blog worthy of itself.  But in 77 we returned to Atwood where Jon would run at super fast 56:33 for a then race age group record for a 16-year-old.  I ran half decent race myself in 61:44 while K.U. great George Mason just missed out on the win losing to Colorado Buffalo Jon Hunsaker by 3 seconds.

The 78 race I took another group of high school runners with me.  The group was of mixed gender.  Robert Wiseman and Brian Copeland came along with Joy Meyen.  Joy was one of the best young women distance runners in Kansas becoming a top flight marathoner making our USA national tea at that distance in the late 80's.  We spent the night before the race in Hays and only two beds poor Joy, who was quite the innocent, opted to sleep on the floor.  It was a little rambunctious at lights out and hopefully she wasn't too traumatized.

Everybody but me ran pretty well.  I ran 67:55.  It was my senior year in college and I hadn't run much given my work load in school, my radio job and my television internship.  It was the only time we drove all night back to Lawrence after the race.  George Mason celebrated the return home by jumping in the pool at the Jayhawk Towers.

Sometime in this period the lake at Lake Atwood had dried up.  It had become this giant, awful looking mud pit.  It also produced a pretty bad odor on a hot summer night.  And it was bone dry when I made my next trip and one of the best in 1982.  I didn't run a great race, 64:12, but K.U.'s Tim Tays finally became the first Jayhawk to win the race.  Tim and I had traveled to the race together.  His victory made the drive home a complete joy.

The best part of the 82 trip is that a family had agreed to play host for that night to a group of four runners saving us the cost of a hotel.  They also opened up a refrigerator full of beer to us.  Tim, Bob Luder, Ted Crank, Rex Lane and myself pounded beers and swapped stories until 2 in the morning.  Our host was great, the beer was fabulous and the conversation was memorable.

It was the end of an era in a way for Lake Atwood.  The race had reached its peak in popularity and road racing in other parts of the state had taken hold.  Finding summer races to run were no longer a problem.  It would be 9 years before I would head back to Lake Atwood for a morning start and a big surprise from mother nature.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

So I'm Off by a Year

A few weeks ago I started waxing nostalgic for a trip home to run the oldest road race in Kansas.  This will mark the 41st year of the Lake Atwood 10 mile.  I thought I first ran the race in 1972 but I was off by a year.  I ran another 10 mile road race, my first in fact.

I had told my friend Chris Ronan 2012 would mark the 40th anniversary of my first run at Atwood.  I was off by a year.  In 1972 when I was 16 I traveled to to La Crosse, Kansas to run my first 10 mile race.  My friend, Greg Morgenson, had invited me to join him for the first year for this race in a tiny town in West Central Kansas.  La Crosse was to be the first jewel of a 10 mile triple crown.  Races in Atwood and Phillipsburg were to follow later in the summer.

I don't remember much about the race.  It was a simple out and back course, much of it on gravel roads.  It was damned hot too.  It was the first time I ever saw Jim Hershberger, a multi-million who was a great masters runner who was pretty flamboyant.  I remember at the start of the race some joker was running in spikes.  Given that the first half mile or so was on asphalt I can only imagine how much that must have hurt.

Greg ran really well and won an award.  I ran somewhere in the 65 minute range and finished just outside the top 10.  Hershberger came up to me after the race with some advice.  He told me to stop running up on my toes.  My junior high coach had forced me to become a toe runner earlier in the year.  It would take me another six months or so to take Hershberger's advice.

Anyway I didn't get to go to the other races in the 10 mile triple crown that year.  My mother wasn't too keen on spending the money for anymore three hour plus road trips to Western Kansas.   The races in La Crosse and Phillipsburg quickly faded away, but Atwood would endure.  It survived mainly because it was kept alive by a former Jayhawk distance runner, Bob Creighton.  It survives to this day even though Creighton passed away 9 years ago.

My first trip to Atwood would take place the following year.  The first of many adventures to this historic race.
I made that journey in 1973, the summer before my senior year in high school.  I was in really good shape.  I made the drive with Bob Silipigni, an old high school teammate.

It was late July and hotter than the dickens.  The race was 8 laps around the lake.  Later when Creighton had the pancake flat course certified it turned out his course was about 600 yards short.

I remember going out way too hard in that race.  I was up in the top 10 for the first 5 miles before I started a slow fade.  I'm pretty sure I went through the first 5 in about 28:30.  I ended up running 60:10 finishing back in 15th place.  I was 3rd in my age group good enough for a nice plaque.  The only age group award I ever won there. Creighton always had different prices finisher awards aside from the ordinary t-shirt.  That year it was a coffee mug.  I remember another year it was a stocking cap. 

If you look at the finisher results from the first 15 years or so of this year you could see it was a who's who of top distance runners from Kansas and Colorado.  Some great K.U. runners made the trip to Atwood.  Kent McDonald, George Mason, Jon Callen, Bob Luder and Ted Crank all ran Atwood, but only 2, Tim Tays and Tim Gundy ever won it.  The Colorado guys, usually Jon Hunsaker or Jon Sinclair pretty much dominated it. 

I have too many Lake Atwood memories for just one blog.  I've run it 8 times, more than any other road race in my life. One of those trips nearly included a night in jail.  But that story will have to wait.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spring Track and Field Fever

I stumbled on over to the old Dyestat website which ESPN destroyed re-branding it RISE.  It's a ghost town.  Three years ago Dyestat was the place to go and stay on top of high school track and field.  ESPN bought it and decided it needed a makeover and made it unreadable while making the amazing message boards unpalatable.  It's sad because I used to be able to tell you just about anything about the current state of high school track.  But right now except for Edward Cheserek, an outstanding Kenyan import running in New Jersey, I don't know much.

But I am staying on top of the college and pro scene and with the Olympics looming large in August it is shaping up to be an incredible year.  Over the weekend I watched the webcast of the great Payton Jordan meet at Stanford.  It's an event I had the chance to watch in person last year.  This year's showing was just as amazing and it produced one major surprise at 5000 meters.

The U.S. men's Olympic Trial races at 5000 and 1500 meters are going to be breathtaking.  First let's look at the 1500.  There are a half dozen men who could make the squad.  Leo Manzano showed great form at the Penn Relays running down the aging Bernard Lagat during the Distance Medley Relay.  Andrew Wheating is coming off an injury plagued 2011 but in my mind has the most pure talent in the event and should be a factor.

But the odds on favorite is World Championship bronze medalist Matthew Centrowitz.  He has the kind of closing speed that's needed to be a factor at the Olympics.  Centrowitz skipped his senior year at Oregon just to prepare for this moment.

On the outside looking in could be 2008 Olympian Lopez Lomong.  But at the Jordan meet Lomong showed he could be a real threat at 5000.  And then there's Alan Webb.  He was the most promising American miler since Jim Ryun who fell off the face of the earth after setting the American record in the mile in 2007.  Perennial 1500 threat Bernard Lagat says he's sticking with the 5000 leaving David Torrence and collegian Miles Batty as two more darkhorses.

The 5000 lost a great one this week when Chris Solinsky said injuries would end his year before it even started.  But with the great Lagat a virtual lock that really leaves only 2 spots up for grabs.  I'd say three men will be battling for those slots.

I've already mention Lopez Lomong and despite a completely boneheaded move at Payton Jordan won a stunning 5000 at Stanford.  Clicking on the video is well worth the watch.  Then there's American 10000 record holder Galen Rupp who plans to try the Olympic double.  There aren't many who can match him in the U.S.A. in the closing stages of any race.

That means the odd man out is sub 13 performer Matt Tegenkamp.  He's an Olympic veteran who very nearly grabbed a medal at the 2007 World Championships.  Matt's 30 years of age and on the downside of a distinguished career.

Of course the odds are someone I haven't mentioned will sneak in and grab a spot at either 1500 or 5000.  We've got a couple of great U.S. meets in Eugene and New York City before the Trials get underway in late June.  What I wouldn't give to have 10 days to blow at Hayward Stadium watching the best track meet in the world, likely better than what the fans will see in August at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bathroom Emergency

This post is not for the weak of heart or stomach for that matter.  Runners will know well of what I write about here.  Few things are worse than being out on a run when nature calls.  It's the worst, especially if you're out in the middle of the country. 

This last week I've had a couple of "issues" while out on runs.  It had been a long, long time, at least three or four years since this problem had presented itself to me.  Last week I was 3 miles into a 6 mile run when I knew I needed a bathroom.  No problem, I had a Hess station just a quarter mile away.  I get to the door at 6 p.m. and the door is locked.  The attendant is mopping the floor and no intention of letting this poor soul in to use the facilities.  I ducked around back and found a tree and let loose.  It wasn't fun running the last 3 miles home.

Tonight I was about 1.5 miles into a 6 mile run when I felt the urge again, but this time I was just a half mile from the house.  I made it home with nary a problem.  But it got me to thinking about my history with bathroom incidents.

I think the first time "it" happened was out on a 13 mile run back in the early 80's.  I was about 1.5 miles west of Wells Overlook south of Lawrence when I realized I had to go and go right now.  I was out on a lonely gravel road so privacy wasn't a problem.  I desperately ran along looking for some paper.  I think I found a scrap before I had to stop.

There was another late night run in Roeland Park also in the early 80's where I ended up in some hedges.  But "it" really didn't become a problem until I was well into my 40's.  I've jumped behind a dirt pile or behind some bushes on 3 or 4 occasions. 

But the worst are the too late bathroom pit stops.  On at least 3 I didn't make it to the toilet.  Thank God the bathroom floor is tile!

 "It" has only twice once during a race.  The first time was my junior year in high school where I could swear I was going to crap my shorts during the 2 mile at Regional.  I was squeezing my butt checks the last 5 laps and finished 4th missing State by one place.  It was a heartbreaking disappointment, although I had qualified earlier in the mile.

The other time "it" happened was just before mile 10 at the 1989 St. George Marathon I could feel a problem coming on.  I spotted a lone porta-potty right at 10 and thank goodness it was empty.  I spent a full minute in there taking care of my problem and much to my surprise I flew out the door and right back into a good pace.  In fact I felt rather refreshed after the short break and went on to run an unexpected PR.  The experience was enough t encourage me to train harder and come back the next year to break my PR by another 8 minutes.