Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mi amigo, Derrida

"… when I am awake, conscious, working, in a certain way I am more unconscious than in my half sleep. When I'm in that half sleep there's a kind of vigilance that tells me the truth."


Yellow, orange, lots of green, a little red.

Almost all the trees are changing color nowadays. I will try to get a photo of some of the dogwood trees – they are SO red right now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

5k photos

Here are the pictures from Friday's 5k. I am number 624 - to the left in the crowd.

I will put the 10-mile race photos up when they become available.

Monday, October 26, 2009


This past weekend, I ran in two different races – a 5k and a 10-mile race.

Here are the results (the photos will come later):

Friday night I ran the True Blue 5k. I finished 18th overall, 5th in my age group; there were more than 130 timed runners. Total, there were more than 240 runners. While I paid the extra money for a timed race, I was not given a 'chip' so my time was not recorded. Luckily, I stuck around afterward to see the preliminary results and noticed that my time was not included. I was in the top 5 runners during the entire first half of the race and I knew that I finished in the top 20 or so, so I was a little disappointed when my time wasn't included in the results that were posted. I found the race director and told him my time – I remember it being under 21:20 – but it got recorded as 21:27 (a difference of about 10 sec but not a difference in the overall standings, so no big deal). My mile split was about 6:56. I went out way too fast and had a first mile time around 6:00. I died off a whole lot in the second mile. I felt pretty tight and it wasn't until nearly the end that I started to feel like I could speed up again. I felt good afterwards – it felt nice to run faster. It makes me miss the shorter races of ½ mile to 1 mile that I used to run back in high school (like in a fairy tale – 'long, long ago in a land far, far away…'). My only real goal going into the race was to run a sub-7:00 pace, which I did.

Sunday morning, less than 36 hours after finishing the 5k, I was running in the second 10-miler of the Road Race Series. I made up my mind before the race that I was not going to go out too fast. And I felt like I was just crawling along. I was really surprised when I was at the 3 mile mark that my time was just less than 25 min; I was expecting 30 min or more from the feel of things. Overall, I maintained about the same pace the whole distance of the race. I was at about 51 min at mile 6 and I finished in just less than 85 min. I finished 112th overall, 19th in my age group, out of 517 runners. It took me four minutes more to finish this last race than it took me to finish the first 10-miler two weeks ago, but this race felt SO MUCH more difficult than the first race did. I was used up afterward. It was definitely the most difficult race I have run in a long, long time. But I didn't quit. My legs probably felt the best at about mile 7.5 to 8.5 but I felt totally used up for the entire last mile or so. I am pleased with my end time. I felt like I was running a lot slower than that. It was a very challenging race for me both mentally and physically. I think that my exhaustion had a lot to do with the race that I ran on Friday.

I came home before class tonight. I am in bed already even as I write this. I feel like I am suffering from exhaustion or fatigue (are those the same thing?). I didn't go to the gym this morning. I don't feel like I am being that productive in much of anything lately. I just feel like I am too tired and all day today I felt tense and nervous – really anxious and stressed out by every little thing.

Good night.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Cat Piano

I think that this is excellently creative. Will this be the stuff of university poetry courses some day?

The Cat Piano from PRA on Vimeo.

More information about the project here:

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I would like to run off to the land of Oz today. I feel extinguished - used up. I haven't accomplished very much today. I slept poorly last night. Gabe was in the bed with me and was touching my face most of the night causing me to wake up several times. He had me pushed up against the edge of the bed so that I felt like I was in danger of falling out all night. I know that i could have moved him, but in the middle of the night it is hard to think of many things and easier to simply try to make the best of things. When I actually got up, I was not rested. I need to get a lot done. I have a lot to do - first, finish grading students' papers; then, read , read more, read even more, write two or three papers. I need to sleep soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


That is what I heard –or something like that– last night on my way home from the University. It could have been a rip sound but whatever it was it was very quick and it brought with it very immediate consequences. The first thing that I noticed, as soon as I heard the noise, was that my battery light came on. Suddenly, my alternator was not working. I didn't know what had happened but my engine sounded good and I didn't want to stop on the freeway so I kept on driving. I noticed very quickly that my power steering was also gone and I was beginning to worry that there was something seriously wrong. I got off the freeway as soon as I could and I called Becky in case I would need to leave the vehicle and get a ride home. Just as I was telling her that the alternator had stopped working I noticed that the car was over heating as well. I was really not happy about this new development but as soon as it overheated it cooled off.

I had no idea what was going on – I was still in the period of data collection and I had not really thought about all of it. I got off the phone with Becky and called my friend Jason, who I woke up at almost mid-night, and started to tell him everything that was going wrong and just by telling him about it all I realized that my drive belt had failed. The splashing/ripping noise that I heard was the belt breaking, simultaneously getting wound up in several pulleys, and the various belt driven parts coming to a very sudden stop. I lost my alternator, A/C compressor, power steering, and cooling fan. But I was able to make it home, although it took me a bit longer than normal. I opened the hood and, sure enough, there was the shredded belt. I pulled it out of the pulleys it was wrapped around and then looked up information about replacing the belt; I decided that it was something that I could do (Jason assured me of this earlier) and I went to bed. This morning I drove Becky to work and took her vehicle to the local Auto Zone and I bought a new belt. About 90 minutes later I had it on and a little while after that I was on my way to work. Now, I really need to get to work on some last minute cramming for an exam that I have in one of my literature classes. The only comments that I want to make about the repair that I did are these – I do not own the right type of wrench to loosen the tensioner pulley and that made the job much more difficult than it might have otherwise been. Additionally, my hands are just about too big to do that sort of a job. There is very little clearance in front of the engine to do that sort of work and it wasn't easy to get my arms and hands in where they needed to be – but, once again, having the right type of wrench (with a longer handle than my little wrench has) would have made that problem less of an issue. While I had the hood up I noticed that something else has been under my hood doing work lately – some of my spark plug wires are seriously chewed up by a mouse. I guess that I will have to fix that next.

Anyway… I need to study.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I went to run on the treadmill this morning and I was in pain. I think that there are probably two things that I could change to make things feel better, or maybe three things. First, and most importantly, I think that my shoes are about used up. Things I have read in the past suggest that running shoes have a lifetime of only about 350 to 550 miles of reliable support and cushioning. I honestly have no idea how many miles my shoes have right now but I have had them for nearly a year and I have run somewhat consistently during that whole time period. More to the point, I can tell that they are not providing the sort of cushioning now that they used to provide. The next thing that I think might help is more track running as opposed to treadmill running. In some ways the track is much easier to run on than the treadmill. For one, it is easier for me to adjust my pace as necessary (both to speed up and to slow down) when I am not running on a treadmill. The treadmill is pretty unrelenting – you set a speed and it goes that speed. I know that I can adjust the speed but I still don't feel like it is as comfortable as running on the ground. That, and it seems to me like it would be annoying to adjust the speed every few hundred yards when using a treadmill but that sort of second to second adjustment happens all the time while running outside. The other complaint that I have with the treadmill this morning is that on the treadmill the running motion (and the actual muscles involved in the running) is unbalanced. It is a workout because there is some work being done – period. But the legs don't do the same work on the treadmill that they do on the ground. On the ground, I have to push off to move forward. I use my calves. On the treadmill, the 'ground' is already moving so most of the work done involves picking the foot up with the shin muscles and bringing it forward. I feel the difference when I run miles on the treadmill as opposed to running on the track – I feel more tightness and pain in my shins on the treadmill.

Right now, I don't remember what the third thing was that I was getting at earlier. I have gained some weight. I am a fit 185 to 190 lbs right now. That is at least 15 lbs more than I weighed this summer when I was running under 7 minutes per mile in a 5k. I am sure that the added weight brings with it more strain on my skinny little chicken legs.

I have nothing real to write and I perfer to keep things on the level of the superficial anyway.

Monday, October 12, 2009

10 miler

Here is a photo of me at about the 7.5 mile mark smiling for the camera. That, by the way, is my favorite workout shirt. I felt good. The day was perfect for a run. The weather was cool but not cold and the sky was overcast. It was very nice and it cleared up completely later in the day. The whole race was in the woods and that was very peaceful. I think that I have a lot of room to improve, but I was smiling for the camera. I was in the gym today doing a chest workout and I was feeling really weak on the weights after yesterday's run. My left shoulder felt sore more than anything else - 10 miles of swinging the arms can do that I suppose. It will take me a few days to fully recover. Still, I feel good - tired, but good. I am glad that I made this my New Year's Resolution.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

8:13 X 10 =

I ran my first ever 10 mile race this morning. I finished in 81:35. I will post pictures later. I slept terribly in anticipation of the race but overall I felt decent during the run. There were some moments of real, true discomfort and I did have to just walk on some of the steep up-hills but other than that I ran the whole way.
I don't have much to write right now, and I still have to work on some things for school tomorrow so this is all I am going to write now.
I might add more details when I can get the pictures up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dear Maunderer,

Well, people, I get accused of pomposity and arrogance from time to time, but the truth is that I just like hearing my own opinions and almost as much as that I like sharing them. Finally, somebody has figured that out. That is why this guy is a friend of mine.

My friend, and a blog reader, sent me an email asking me for ADVICE. Wow. I am really good at adding and I have a lot of vices but the advice thing is something I don't have any particular expertise in – with the exception of, as I said before, being a little too self-assured and liking to talk a little too much.

So, here is the letter (I summarize the problems further down) – with some minor edits to protect the guilty. Any other readers out there – feel free to comment. Or even better, feel obligated to comment – you might save this friend of mine some pain and maybe even some money.


When I run, within the first half mile to 3/4 mile my calves and shins (the muscle or tendon hat is used to lift the foot up) fatigue. I think fatigue would be the word. Maybe it's more like a tightening up, then it feels like I pull the muscle or tendon in my shin and I can't lift my foot up normally or completely. I remember this happening a lot when I played soccer if I didn't prepare my foot before a kick, but it's started recently while running, and it really hinders my runs because I can't run normally. Sometimes, I can run through it but most time I have to stop earlier than I want. Could this just be my muscles not used to the running (because before this year I hadn't run in 3-4 years, and I didn't run for a week and half to two weeks before starting again a week and half ago) and it'll get better once they get back in the grove? Or could it be with my shoes (I have a pair of running shoes, not my pretty white ones haha) not being fit properly for my run style? Or lastly could it be the way I run?

Just wanted to ask, in case you knew anything about the problem before I go to like a trainer, or my mom said there's a place in town that will have me run on a treadmill and they'll fit me for a the proper shoe and point out any errors in the way I run.

Well, about to go run and do my workout, talk to you later.

In summary:

  • I recently started running again.
  • I feel something is going on below the knees that is affecting my running.
    • Could be tightening or fatigue or a combination.
  • This, or something similar, has happened in past.
  • I have not run regularly in several years.
  • Is the problem
    • (1) muscular, and I need to build up to my muscles by running more to make it go away
    • (2) technological, and I need to go to the shop and get balanced, aligned, and/rotated – or invest in better shoes – so that I can solve this problem
    • (3) mechanical, or related to the way that I run and, therefore, I need to pay a trainer to help me figure out what to do differently
    • or (4) some combination of these three.

My questions – interspersed with TOTALLY UNPROFFESIONAL, untrained advice (aka, read it at your own risk):

  1. "… within the first ½ to ¾ of a mile…."
  • How far are you actually running?
  • Related to this question, I would ask, how fast are you actually running? I know that this is harder to answer, especially if you have not been running much in the last few years, but think about this – are you running at 100%, I have to do this to save myself from some immanent physical threat; or are you going somewhat slower? If slower, how much? Are you jogging at an 'I could probably walk faster, but this is my way of running' pace? Try to think about this.
    • In my experience, I notice some pain in my shins when I run at close to my 'really-good-mile' pace. Everybody will be different where that is concerned and you probably know what that is for you. If you don't, maybe you could time yourself out on a track running some good, fast single laps. After you know more or less what your limit is, you might need to slow things down if you are planning on running any sort of distance. For example, for a 6-minute-mile runner, an 8 to 8 and a half minute mile pace is probably comfortable and sustainable for several miles even if that 6-minute pace is not. My recommendation is to find that comfortable pace and then speed up in intervals. Interval training can be a very good for building both speed and distance. Don't be shy about running faster just because you can't go the whole distance faster.
  1. You mention tightness and fatigue
  • Are you feeling any actual pain? Neither tightness nor fatigue is necessarily pain. Also, I think that it makes a difference whether you are talking about your calves (back side of your leg) or your shins (front side of your leg). Proper warming up is important. Sometimes that can mean running slower to start out. Stretching is allegedly helpful as well. Different people have different theories about stretching and, as for me, I warm up by running. I usually feel some tightness and little associated pains for about the first two miles. After six and a half miles of yesterday's run, I started to feel other pains that I would describe as fatigue. These are different feelings and the ways they affect me are different. Between tightness and fatigue, I feel my best while running.
  1. "Sometimes, I can run through it…."
  • What do you mean, "run through it"? Do you mean you can run with it, or in spite of it? Or is it something that goes away eventually at which point it becomes easier to run again? In my mind, this is the most important additional piece of information that I could know. If it is something that eventually goes away it is not fatigue but tightness. If it goes away, the tight area is eventually loosening up again allowing you to run more comfortably. If that is the case, then, my friend, running through it is what you need to do.

  1. Finally, shoes
  • Good shoes are important. And for running shoes, a good shoe store is also important. Fleet Feet, on Mendenhall and Poplar is the store your mom was probably talking about (and if it wasn't, it is the one I am talking about).

Hope this helps.

in which I whine

It is the morning after a 10-mile run. I just want to say that my legs hurt. It is not my quads or hamstrings, just my knees and calves. Now, please, go ahead and cry for me. Somehow, I think that it will make me feel better if you do.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Running Journal

I don't really want to write much about this. I ran 10 miles this morning on the treadmill at the gym. I was there for about 85 min and that time includes a couple of breaks to get water. I felt good. There was the usual tightness early on. The first mile and a half was painful. My lower back took a while to loosen up. I felt the best from mile 3 to about mile 6.5. The last 3.5 miles were difficult. Later in the day, I felt totally worn out from it. I have a 10-mile race this Sunday and I wanted to at least understand the sort of pain that is involved in a run of that distance. I think that this weekend's race will be easier as a result of the run this morning – mostly because I know better what the last 3.5 miles will feel like now. On Thursday, I will run again, but only about 3 to 4 miles – so it will be an easy workout. J

In other workout news – I benched 255 lbs on the flat bench yesterday. I felt really good and I think that next week I will probably be able to lift 275 lbs. I will try. It is not a personal best for me, but I feel good about it. It feels good. Also, I bought an ab-wheel to start working out the abs again. Already, it is kicking my butt (or maybe it is kicking my belly).


Monday, October 5, 2009

Rayuela de Cortazar.
Cap. 28 - Uno de los mejores capitulos jamas escritos.
(disculpen la falta de ortografia - estoy escribiendo en el telefono celular)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Last night I dreamed that I was dreaming of you


And you dance into the shadow of a black poplar street
And I watched you as you disappeared
I watched you as you disappeared
I watched you as you disappeared
I watched you as you disappeared

-Tom Waits

Friday, October 2, 2009

Race journal

My first 10k ever. The day was BEAUTIFUL! The area was covered in fog when we arrived and there were several ducks and geese in the small lake at Shelby Farms. During the race, I watched several other geese fly over and I saw fish jumping in the water as they hunted the early morning bugs. I ran a really slow first half. I was unsure if I would be able to run the whole thing or not; since school started again I have not been training as well as I was earlier in the year. This was at about the three mile mark. I had been running about 30 min and I felt really good so I sped up a lot at this point. I finished 162 overall - 31 in my age group. My total time was 51:47. It is nothing to brag about, but I felt good doing it. My average mile time was 8:20 - about a minute slower than my mile time in the 5 mile race a month and a half ago. The increase in time is a result of the reduction in my training in the last two months. Still, I felt great afterwards and I was happy for about two days from the run. Click here for another picture of me from earlier in the same race.

Thanks for reading. And, don't forget to exercise.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A la deriva

Horacio Quiroga

El hombre pisó algo blancuzco, y en seguida sintió la mordedura en el pie. Saltó adelante, y al volverse con un juramento vio una yaracacusú que, arrollada sobre sí misma, esperaba otro ataque.

El hombre echó una veloz ojeada a su pie, donde dos gotitas de sangre engrosaban dificultosamente, y sacó el machete de la cintura. La víbora vio la amenaza, y hundió más la cabeza en el centro mismo de su espiral; pero el machete cayó de lomo, dislocándole las vértebras.

El hombre se bajó hasta la mordedura, quitó las gotitas de sangre, y durante un instante contempló. Un dolor agudo nacía de los dos puntitos violetas, y comenzaba a invadir todo el pie. Apresuradamente se ligó el tobillo con su pañuelo y siguió por la picada hacia su rancho.

El dolor en el pie aumentaba, con sensación de tirante abultamiento, y de pronto el hombre sintió dos o tres fulgurantes puntadas que, como relámpagos, habían irradiado desde la herida hasta la mitad de la pantorrilla. Movía la pierna con dificultad; una metálica sequedad de garganta, seguida de sed quemante, le arrancó un nuevo juramento.

Llegó por fin al rancho y se echó de brazos sobre la rueda de un trapiche. Los dos puntitos violeta desaparecían ahora en la monstruosa hinchazón del pie entero. La piel parecía adelgazada y a punto de ceder, de tensa. Quiso llamar a su mujer, y la voz se quebró en un ronco arrastre de garganta reseca. La sed lo devoraba.

-¡Dorotea! -alcanzó a lanzar en un estertor-. ¡Dame caña1!

Su mujer corrió con un vaso lleno, que el hombre sorbió en tres tragos. Pero no había sentido gusto alguno.

-¡Te pedí caña, no agua! -rugió de nuevo-. ¡Dame caña!

-¡Pero es caña, Paulino! -protestó la mujer, espantada.

-¡No, me diste agua! ¡Quiero caña, te digo!

La mujer corrió otra vez, volviendo con la damajuana. El hombre tragó uno tras otro dos vasos, pero no sintió nada en la garganta.

-Bueno; esto se pone feo -murmuró entonces, mirando su pie lívido y ya con lustre gangrenoso. Sobre la honda ligadura del pañuelo, la carne desbordaba como una monstruosa morcilla.

Los dolores fulgurantes se sucedían en continuos relampagueos y llegaban ahora a la ingle. La atroz sequedad de garganta que el aliento parecía caldear más, aumentaba a la par. Cuando pretendió incorporarse, un fulminante vómito lo mantuvo medio minuto con la frente apoyada en la rueda de palo.

Pero el hombre no quería morir, y descendiendo hasta la costa subió a su canoa. Sentose en la popa y comenzó a palear hasta el centro del Paraná. Allí la corriente del río, que en las inmediaciones del Iguazú corre seis millas, lo llevaría antes de cinco horas a Tacurú-Pucú.

El hombre, con sombría energía, pudo efectivamente llegar hasta el medio del río; pero allí sus manos dormidas dejaron caer la pala en la canoa, y tras un nuevo vómito -de sangre esta vez- dirigió una mirada al sol que ya trasponía el monte.

La pierna entera, hasta medio muslo, era ya un bloque deforme y durísimo que reventaba la ropa. El hombre cortó la ligadura y abrió el pantalón con su cuchillo: el bajo vientre desbordó hinchado, con grandes manchas lívidas y terriblemente doloroso. El hombre pensó que no podría jamás llegar él solo a Tacurú-Pucú, y se decidió a pedir ayuda a su compadre Alves, aunque hacía mucho tiempo que estaban disgustados.

La corriente del río se precipitaba ahora hacia la costa brasileña, y el hombre pudo fácilmente atracar. Se arrastró por la picada en cuesta arriba, pero a los veinte metros, exhausto, quedó tendido de pecho.

-¡Alves! -gritó con cuanta fuerza pudo; y prestó oído en vano.

-¡Compadre Alves! ¡No me niegue este favor! -clamó de nuevo, alzando la cabeza del suelo. En el silencio de la selva no se oyó un solo rumor. El hombre tuvo aún valor para llegar hasta su canoa, y la corriente, cogiéndola de nuevo, la llevó velozmente a la deriva.

El Paraná corre allí en el fondo de una inmensa hoya, cuyas paredes, altas de cien metros, encajonan fúnebremente el río. Desde las orillas bordeadas de negros bloques de basalto, asciende el bosque, negro también. Adelante, a los costados, detrás, la eterna muralla lúgubre, en cuyo fondo el río arremolinado se precipita en incesantes borbollones de agua fangosa. El paisaje es agresivo, y reina en él un silencio de muerte. Al atardecer, sin embargo, su belleza sombría y calma cobra una majestad única.

El sol había caído ya cuando el hombre, semitendido en el fondo de la canoa, tuvo un violento escalofrío. Y de pronto, con asombro, enderezó pesadamente la cabeza: se sentía mejor. La pierna le dolía apenas, la sed disminuía, y su pecho, libre ya, se abría en lenta inspiración.

El veneno comenzaba a irse, no había duda. Se hallaba casi bien, y aunque no tenía fuerzas para mover la mano, contaba con la caída del rocío para reponerse del todo. Calculó que antes de tres horas estaría en Tacurú-Pucú.

El bienestar avanzaba, y con él una somnolencia llena de recuerdos. No sentía ya nada ni en la pierna ni en el vientre. ¿Viviría aún su compadre Gaona en Tacurú-Pucú? Acaso viera también a su ex patrón mister Dougald, y al recibidor del obraje.

¿Llegaría pronto? El cielo, al poniente, se abría ahora en pantalla de oro, y el río se había coloreado también. Desde la costa paraguaya, ya entenebrecida, el monte dejaba caer sobre el río su frescura crepuscular, en penetrantes efluvios de azahar y miel silvestre. Una pareja de guacamayos cruzó muy alto y en silencio hacia el Paraguay.

Allá abajo, sobre el río de oro, la canoa derivaba velozmente, girando a ratos sobre sí misma ante el borbollón de un remolino. El hombre que iba en ella se sentía cada vez mejor, y pensaba entretanto en el tiempo justo que había pasado sin ver a su ex patrón Dougald. ¿Tres años? Tal vez no, no tanto. ¿Dos años y nueve meses? Acaso. ¿Ocho meses y medio? Eso sí, seguramente.

De pronto sintió que estaba helado hasta el pecho.

¿Qué sería? Y la respiración...

Al recibidor de maderas de mister Dougald, Lorenzo Cubilla, lo había conocido en Puerto Esperanza un viernes santo... ¿Viernes? Sí, o jueves...

El hombre estiró lentamente los dedos de la mano.

-Un jueves...

Y cesó de respirar.



1. Caña: Aguardiente destilado de la caña de azúcar.