Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Supremacy on the Curve

Random thought of the day:  Is there any greater oxymoron than "White Supremacist"? 

As a decidedly mediocre Caucasian I must admit that every time I see something in the news pertaining to one of these asshats I come away thinking "Really?".  If there is some sort of Supreme Being and he was holding up one white person as an example of the superiority of those of us of a white-skinned persuasion (actually we are closer to peach-colored than white but that is a story for another day and I do not have M.T. here to explain it to you) to the rest of the planet's inhabitants, then are we expected to reasonably that the example he would use is Franklin Glenn Cross?   http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/official-ids-supremacist-as-kansas-attacks-suspect

Sorry, no sale.

Mr. Cross is the pillar of the community who decided to spend his Palm Sunday hunting other human beings - and chose as the grounds in which to conduct his hunt a Jewish Community Center and a Jewish retirement home in Overland Park, Kansas.  Mr. Cross killed three innocents in cold blood before he was apprehended.  At least two of the three he killed, a physician and the physician's fourteen-year-old grandson, were Christians.  It is little solace to their families and to the families of this jagoff's other victims that Cross is apparently no expert in recognizing another's religious affiliation simply by staring at him or her down the barrel of his weapon. 

Hopefully they will derive some solace from the fact that Cross, 73, now faces the likelihood of spending the rest of his life - if convicted for his alleged crimes - in a Kansas state penitentiary.  I must admit that I would be in favor of permitting him to spread the word of his "Whiteys Are #1" philosophy in an area where he and his followers have likely never spent much time.  East St. Louis Illinois jumps immediately to the forefront of my mind.   The sad truth is that nothing done to this piece of human deritus shall ever bring back their loved ones.  

His hate has already taken them away...

  Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today...
- Marvin Gaye

-AK


 



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Certainty

In this world nothing can be said to be certain,
except Death and Taxes...
- Benjamin Franklin

My old bones woke up yesterday morning a bit sorer than usual.  Par for the course I suppose.  Any time I run in a race longer than five miles I really feel it in my bones the following day.  Fortunately what I felt yesterday morning was not pain.  It was simply soreness.  It was as if my legs were reminding the rest of me just how much effort they had exerted on Sunday morning and that no matter how much my brain may try to persuade them to the contrary, they are not as young as they once were. 

Today is the first full day of Passover.  I hope that one and all of Jewish faith enjoy a happy holiday.  I am not a spiritual man and while "faith in a higher power" is not something that I espouse (unless Guinness might be considered a higher power) I respect that there are countless people who do.  For Jews and Catholics alike, this week is a big one on the calendar.  While I shall - as I do annually - be sitting this one out, may it bring to those of you who observe it the peace that you seek from it. 

Today is also Income Tax Day here in these United States.  I hope against hope, year after year that this year shall be the one on which the tax man passes me over.  Alas, it never is.  I used to root for him to give me something back but several years ago I decided that it would be enough for me if he just allowed me to break even.  Just once.  While that day may in fact come at some point in time, it has not yet arrived. 

Hmmm... I wonder if I can take a deduction for money spent on Advil, ice packs and Ben-Gay?  Note to self:  Check with accountant for next year's taxes.  Depending upon how much pain I am willing to subject myself to, that day may be closer than I think.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Running the Thinnest of Lines


Success is a lousy teacher.
It seduces smart people into thinking
that they cannot lose.
- Bill Gates

My favorite thing about running in races is that it is humbling.  You are whatever your finishing time says you are.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.


Yesterday's Unite Half-Marathon at Rutgers University was - as it has been for all five years of its existence - a terrific event.  It is well-organized and well-attended.  This year, even more so than the first four years, there appeared to be a concerted effort among those of us gathered in the starting area to use this event to rid ourselves of the miserable winter we had all endured. 

And we did.  It was a beautiful day to run here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  I am disappointed in my own performance in that my finishing time of 2:05.16 was about fifteen minutes north of where I had hoped to finish and approximately twelve minutes slower than I ran this same race last year.  My mistake was in going out too fast.  As someone who has run in too many races to count, I know better.  Yesterday however there was a significant disconnect between what I know to do and what I did.  I powered through the first three miles as if I was running a 5K - hanging splits of 7:57, 8:11 and 8:02.  Too damn fast.  I knew it.  My legs knew it.  My lungs knew it.

I crossed the 7-mile mark at a tick under 62 minutes.  While my split times still seemed solid, I knew I was struggling.  The final five miles or so devolved into a knife fight.  My finishing time confirmed it.  After running the first seven miles in slightly less than one hour and two minutes, I needed more than one hour and three minutes to complete the final 6.1 miles.  I escaped math by seeking refuge in law school.  However even I know enough arithmetic to know just how much worse I finished than I had started. 

Such is life in the big city I reckon.  On the one hand, I clearly did not run my best race yesterday.  On the other hand, I ran 13.1 miles at a 9:33 per mile pace, for which I shall not apologize to anyone - most of all myself.  I am looking forward to next year's edition already.  It is an event I enjoy even on a Sunday in which the end result is a far cry from my pre-race expectations.

Success is not final,
Failure is not fatal:  it is the courage
to continue that counts. 
- Winston Churchill





Sunday, April 13, 2014

This Day

Always bear in mind that your resolution to succeed
is more important than any one thing.
- Abraham Lincoln

From Honest Abe's lips to my legs - or something to that effect.  It is "Half-Marathon Sunday" for me and for the couple or three thousand other runners who shall line up outside of RU's football stadium this morning at 8:00 o'clock and compete in the 5th Annual Unite Half-Marathon.


I have been a participant in this event for each of its first five years - although flooding in 2011 necessitated the course being shortened from 13.1 miles to slightly less than 10.  In 2010, I hobbled home in a hairball less than two and one half hours.  In 2012, I crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 56 minutes and change.  Last year I shaved another minute or so off of my time and completed the race in slightly less than 1 hour and 54 minutes. 

My goal this year is to continue that downward trend and perhaps get closer to the 1 hour and 50 minute mark, which would average out to a pace of approximately eight and one half minutes per mile.  As an old man with creaky knees I would sign for that finishing time right now - especially if I all I had to do to earn it was sign my name to something.  That would also free up my Sunday morning entirely and enable me to do something else altogether today.

The forecast today appears to be very nice, which is always a plus.  It is also a plus for me in that the race's distance is approximately three times the distance this event is from my home.  Happiness is a long-distance running event from which you can be home within twenty minutes of crossing the finish line. 

If you are on or near the RU campus this morning and/or in the neighborhood around College Avenue in New Brunswick, and you want to take a moment to shout out a cheer for your favorite runner as he or she runs past you then feel free to do so.  My favorite part of this event is the manner in which fans line College Avenue in the half-mile leading to the finish line.  At the end of a long, hard run it is nice to hear people clapping and cheering for you - even though you do not know them and they have no idea who the hell you are.  You derive energy from their energy.  You appreciate the effort they have put into showing up and applauding you as much as they appreciate yours.

And that is most assuredly a good thing.  




-AK

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Quest Renewed

Perhaps the weather gods have finally started to smile upon us - the people of the State of Concrete Gardens.  Just this week we have had several consecutive days in which the weather has coincided with the season and Spring has in fact felt like Spring.  Today and tomorrow are supposed to be fairly mild too.  As someone who is spending a couple of hours tomorrow morning be-bopping all over the campus at Rutgers University in the Unite Half Marathon, I find myself pleased by the fact that the race starts at 8:00 AM.  Tomorrow's day-time high temperature is supposed to be in the mid-70's.  There are any number of things I like to do on sun-drenched, seventy-five degree days.  Run 13.1 miles as fast as my little legs can carry me is not necessarily among them.

Spring's bloom coincides - pretty closely anyway - with the conclusion of the regular season in the NHL.  If you root as I do for the New York Rangers, this is the season in which hope blooms like the first flowers of the Spring.  The Rangers qualified for the playoffs again this year and shall commence post-season hostilities on Wednesday night.  I believe they are on track to play the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round - although admittedly the NHL's newly revitalized playoff format is a bit beyond my ability to comprehend. 

As a Rangers fan, there is no other NHL team for whom I have as much historical loathing as the Flyers.  I hope that if they are the Blueshirts' opponent in the First Round the Rangers crush them.  Being a Rangers fan though means that you know before the puck is dropped for Game 1 of Round One of the playoffs, the odds are stacked against the Rangers being the team that wins the Cup.  As my Great, Great Grandpa Phineas used to say, "Don't be an idiot.  Pay attention to history."  If you are a Rangers fan and you are younger than seventy-five, then you have seen only one Stanley Cup in your lifetime. 

And still we hope.  And still we cheer.  Tonight the regular season ends in Montreal.  Then the real season starts.  Four rounds of Best-of-7 series one right after the other.  And irrespective of what history, Grandpa Phineas and my head tell me, my heart tells me that this could be the year in which the Rangers wake up the echoes of past playoff triumphs of Messier, Richter, Leetch and my guy Adam Graves and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Cup by winning the 2014 model.

  

Maybe.  Just maybe.  Every year has to belong to somebody.  May this year belong to the Blueshirts.


-AK  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stories Don't End

If our lives were a movie, if our lives were a book
It'd be longer than I'd recommend
'Cause if you're telling a story, at some point you stop
But stories don't end...
- Dawes

Lacey Holsworth died on Tuesday.  She was eight years young.  She died at home surrounded by the family that loves her.  She is survived by the parents and three brothers who shall mourn her and who shall never forget her.   

If you paid even a modicum of attention to the recently-concluded March Madness then it is more likely than not that you came across the story of Lacey Holsworth.  Perhaps you recognize her by her sobriquet - "Princess Lacey".  She was the #1 fan of and a central figure in the life of Michigan State's star senior forward Adriean Payne.  To him, she was "Princess Lacey".  To her, he was "Superman".  When the Spartans came east to Madison Square Garden two weekends ago to compete in the East Regional, where they would advance to the Final before losing to Kevin Ollie's Connecticut Huskies, Lacey and her parents made the trip.  

A parent's greatest fear is to outlive a child.  It defies the natural order of Life.  Perhaps it lessens the blow for a parent, such as Lacey's mom and dad, to know just how many lives - including those of strangers such as me - their little girl touched with her humanity, her courage and her ear-to-ear smile.  I certainly hope it does.   It is a break to which the Holsworths are certainly entitled.   

Her life has ended.  Her story has not... 

...May it never do so.

If our lives were a movie, if our lives were a book
It'd be longer than I could defend
'Cause if you're telling a story, at some point you stop
But stories don't end
Stories don't end...


-AK






Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nobody Worry About Me

Cinderella story. Outta nowhere.
A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion.
It looks like a mirac...
It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!
- Carl Spackler

This morning - at some time reasonably confused with "half past the ass crack of dawn" play shall begin in this year's edition of The Masters Golf Championship, which is contested annually at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.  I know less about golf than practically any person alive but even I know that this year you should not bet on Tiger Woods to win.  He is not playing.  You are welcome for that super-handy golf handicapping advice.  

If you have a minute or two to kill, then check out this quiz on-line, which poses a question that likely has been answered rhetorically by significantly fewer people than "How Does the Man Inside My Refrigerator Know When to Turn the Light Off?" (you are left to your own design regarding whether that is a good thing, a bad thing or an abjectly terrifying thing).  Here is the question:  Are You Augusta National Membership Material?  Here is the link to the quiz:  http://scorecard.golf.com/2014/04/07/are-you-augusta-national-membership-material/?eref=sihp.

Great thing about this quiz for me is that I knew how it was going to turn out for me even before I started it.  In that regard, it was very much akin to Calculus in high school.  The biggest difference being that I was excited to see the results of this quiz.  OK, the biggest difference actually was seeing the results of the quiz I did not want to hang myself as I did each time I received a Calc test back 

But I digress...

The results are in and to the surprise of no one - especially me - it turns out that I am not Augusta National Golf Club material.  Who knew?  Hell, who did not know.  No skin off of my 9-iron.  I would rather hang around with this crowd anyway


As the song says, "I'm Alright..."  

...Nobody worry about me.



-AK