Thursday, May 31, 2012

Here IT is!

kids racing, a good or bad idea? 

Finally, the one I've been threatening to put up here for the last five posts or so is below. I am working on an article with many of the same concepts, so I'm sort of killing two birds (maybe even three, but that's a secret for now) with one keyboard.

Not long ago, I read a post by another blogger about kids and running. Since then, I have read a few opinions and have also interviewed several people, focusing mostly on how much is too much when it comes to running and children. Most will agree that a marathon at age 10 isn't wise, not just because of what's going on physiologically in a growing body. A blog post that really got me thinking about all of this was one in which a lady wrote to a fellow blogger, asking whether or not the author of this blog felt anyone should put a child on medication in order to keep her running and competing in a sport she hates. As the blogger pointed out, it was never clear how, exactly, the kid disliked running, but, in addition to the great response of the one writing the blog post, there were plenty of other people who had an opinion. I don't think anyone agreed with the idea of giving the kid medication to lessen anxiety in order for her to compete. The best suggestion was for the parent to ask what the child hated about the sport. I will add that by defining and vocalizing fears and worries, they often dissipate. This is important for children, and it's essential to help them find words to describe what they are feeling. It also helps with finding the appropriate solutions.

I don't think it's a good idea to push anyone into something they outright hate. Sometimes quitting is a good thing if it means better overall health. Better still would be to help the child find a sport or activity she enjoys at least somewhat. Of course, Andre Agassi often mentioned how much he hates tennis in his autobiography, but his success was accompanied by quite a lot of negativity in his life. Reading parts of the book was a struggle, because the dread, burn-out and hatred he experienced were tangible. I've been there. Was it worth it? Only he can answer that, but one needs to realize that things didn't have to be that way. It's quite possible that if his father had been less of a tyrant, he still would have been the stand-out tennis player that he was. Again, there are times when it is OK to quit or move on, especially if it means a happier person in the end.

Before I get into my thoughts about kids and running, I have to throw it out there (and I'm sure some have already figured this out); I'm jaded when it comes to this topic. Of course my response is going to be biased based on my own experiences and what I saw. However, I interviewed Bobby McGee and had periods of sensible coaching throughout my career. Therefore, what follows will hopefully be at least somewhat balanced. Obviously, I have much insight on how not to do things, but I believe that there is a way for young athletes to compete at a high level and survive to have healthy careers into adulthood. Plus, in my case, I can't deny my own internal pressure. That's separate from any external pressure I was feeing.

Me in tears shortly before my first state cross-country race. My mom was trying to console  me. After a big sigh, I made my way to the start line.

Perhaps the biggest point I can make in discussing children and training is the idea that it takes a well-rounded and balanced person to make a great athlete. That and it can't hurt for the kid to have a team of people, not just a coach, supporting him or her in all ways. It takes addressing and understanding all aspects of the athlete- his emotional, mental and physical states- to help improve his efforts in athletics. Every single elite athlete, coach or parent who has chimed in on the matter agrees that putting all your eggs in one basket is not a good idea, though I'm sure there are still hard-nosed individuals out there who think it's essential. They probably also adhere to the old and not so helpful "No pain, no gain" adage. It's easy for a coach or parent to want to take advantage of early talent, pushing the athlete to achieve great success before puberty or other changes occur. Though it comes in the guise of being for the child's sake, it's often more for the coach's program, the school, a club, and/or the team. I was fortunate that my parents were trying to help me put the brakes on a little bit in my training. They didn't care if I ran, but I did and my high school coach did too. It was at times too much pressure. Had my coach taken my mental and emotional state into consideration, perhaps he would have chosen to coach me slightly differently, though it's possible his own attachments would have gotten in the way anyway.

Speaking of attachments, this is the next big issue I want to tackle. Anyone who tries to coach with a focus on outcome risks making bad decisions. Again, the athlete has to be in good working order on all levels first in order to be put in the best possible position to work on fitness. The idea of a person first, athlete second is good to keep in mind. This is an area in which I feel most of my coaches failed. As long as I was running well, I got the attention and support I needed, but wow did I feel abandoned when I was injured, struggling with racing or emotionally down. Oddly, as one of my better coaches once told me, it's likely that I would have run well under pretty much any coach when I was young, because I had the talent and determination. What I needed was someone to hold my hand through the though times when I couldn't run, wasn't running well or was facing hard transitions. The "come back and see me when you're running well" approach usually won't make a great athlete, but, unfortunately, that's how many coaches operate.

Rather than get into a big debate of whether or not kids should compete, or how much mileage kids should run, I will give my thoughts on what I feel is the best approach. Most of these ideas are based on how Bobby McGee trains his athletes. Many people agree that competing in running races at a high or elite level before the age of twelve is not a great idea. Seeing kids as young as seven running longer road races always makes me cringe. I do believe competition has its place for kids, but the focus should be away from any highly structured program. Instead, the focus should be on fun. This doesn't mean that that the basics of the sport can't be taught. On the contrary, as long as the pressure is kept to a minimum, kids can be taught to become great athletes. They should engage in drills, learn how to start and finish a race and discover different training methods in a healthy way. This is done by keeping the attention away from quantifying their experiences. In other words, don't put a time in their heads, just let them run and compete for the sake of the experience. A kid doesn't need to know that his time in the 400 is slow or fast, he just needs to learn HOW to run an 400. All children are naturally competitive, but despite there being a winner and a loser, at a young age at least, we can celebrate participation in the sport. Teach a kid to be a well-rounded individual, and that is the true basis of a good athlete.

I realize that I'm cutting this off before coming to a real conclusion. There is so much to be said about kids and running that it's impossible to get it all out in a brief blog post. As soon as I put the other thoughts I have on this topic into an article, I will put up another post. I also don't want this to be a part of the June blogger challenge that I am doing, so I'm posting two posts in one day. Holy crap!


Holy crap this is WEIRD! Today I start the new blogging challenge (a change from posting weekly to daily for the month of June), and last night I was all caught up in how HARD change is for me. Then I find out that the word for today's challenge is CHANGE. What an odd coincidence! Seriously though, I will hang on to the same, stick to a routine and avoid changing even when not changing might not be the best option. I mean even when I know NOT changing might be hurting me. I have gotten better, but wow, I look back and see how many times I have struggled, fought and avoided change.

Those of us who have had eating disorders know how difficult change can be. I sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy when I see one of those free-spirited hippie chicks, flowing through life so easily while being the perfect opportunivore. Part of some eating disorders is an intense desire to keep things in control and the same. We opt for the same foods and the same exercise routine, getting stuck in a rut that's often uncomfortable but at least familiar. Some even suggest that those with anorexia want to avoid growing up or avoid that transition into adulthood, which can be a scary change.

In the end, change just happens. We can't control it, and no matter how much we resist it, it will still occur. For a long time when I was sick, my life felt stagnant, but change is inevitable. It was happening all around me, despite how hard I tried to keep alterations from creeping into my myopic little world of addiction and weirdness. I will always resist it on some level, but the more I can ease into a new situation, the better. Actually, there are some times when I embrace change, and I often wonder why I don't jump into the unknown more often, especially when the change was less traumatic than anticipated or even fun.

Right now I'm dealing with perhaps too much change. I feel a great sense of loss, simply because people are moving on, I'm facing health and body changes in myself and those around me, and situations I was hoping would provide some stability are in a state of upheaval. My friends seem to be in similar boats, all facing deaths in the family and other big challenges. Whatever cosmic or astrological shift might be happening, I get the sense that it's a good time to hang on for a bumpy ride. I now get my period every two weeks. That's a big change and probably not a good one, though it's the least of my worries at this time.

Because I am in my first day of this blogging challenge and I'm still working on the other post I keep mentioning, I'm cutting this a bit short. For now, these are my thoughts on change.

And I have to admit that all I can think about when I toss the word change around in my brain case is the South Park episode about the homeless.  :p

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Arctic Zero

1 month ago...

It sounded too good to be true, but I bought a pint of Arctic Zero anyway. I keep wanting to call it Aztec Zero for some reason. While strolling down the aisle at Whole Foods, the "150 calories per pint!" advertisement grabbed me by the eyeballs and lured me to the freezer case. How can anything go wrong with 150 calories for a whole pint? (Foreshadowing) I haven't eaten a pint of ice cream since I was in my 20s. I'm not sure why I got excited at the thought, but maybe there's a part of me that recognizes I still tend to be a little bit controlling when it comes to portion size. So I bought a pint: Chocolate Peanut butter. This was going to be good. I even tossed a second pint into my cart, the cookies and cream flavor, convinced even before tasting it that it was bound to be at least palatable.

Of course when I imagined it, I figured it would be exactly like ice cream. Oh who am I kidding? I figured it probably wouldn't be quite that good. Still I had high hopes. Maybe it would be sort of like frozen yogurt or one of those non-dairy ice cream creations. I actually didn't know what to expect, but I assumed it would be at least a little bit like ice cream. I mean, it suggests ice cream on the container, but the ingredients aren't what one would find in typical ice cream. It's made with protein powder and natural sweeteners like stevia, plus loads of gums and flavorings...and water. Water? Hum..but something on the label implies that it's like ice cream (or maybe that was wishful thinking), so I walked out of the store with visions of creamy indulgence in my head.

When I opened the first carton after it had been sitting my home freezer for a few hours, I found it difficult to stick a spoon into the cold concoction. I figured it needed to thaw a little bit before the perfect creamy texture would be reached. I set the little pint on the counter and distracted myself for about 8 minutes. I'm not actually sure how long I waited, and I'm not a good judge of time anyway. I figure it was at least 5 minutes. Still intrigued with the idea of downing a pint in a single sitting, something I did somewhat regularly when I was training hard in college, I tried again to dig into the chilled dessert. I had a bit more luck, but I can't say it was an easy task. I found it more effective to sort of repeatedly scrape off layers of the ice cream into a bowl. The biggest problem was as it melted, instead of getting soft and creamy it got kind of gooey. When I say gooey, it's not the good, fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookie kind of gooey either. This was more like gummy and stringy, as if some kid got into the pantry and randomly mixed a few wrong ingredients in an attempt to make play-dough. Obviously as far as texture goes, this was no ordinary frozen treat. It was more like a protein smoothie frozen solid. It could definitely use a texture upgrade.

Now about the flavor. Um, well, let's just say it was the first time that I wasn't all that into chocolate and peanut butter. Was it really chocolate or "chocolate flavored", and was that peanut butter or the essence of a single peanut that I was detecting? It tasted about as good as 150 calories frozen into a pint-sized container can be expected to taste, maybe even a little worse. I actually think some plain frozen cherries stuffed into a bowl would be a better choice for about the same calorie content. It's not that it was bad, it was more that it didn't have a very strong flavor and the after taste of this bland dessert was oddly strong and not very good. Overall, it tasted sort of like one of those protein drinks that promises all kinds of health benefits and has pictures of guys with big muscles on the label. After slowly scraping and swallowing my way through a large amount of the container, I realized that I didn't really want to eat a whole pint of this stuff in one sitting, so I put it back in the freezer. I was disappointed, not so much that I didn't finish it, but because it wasn't as fun or flavorful an experience as I had imagined. Eating the half pint of frozen yogurt the other day? OK, that was fun. Hee.

Wow! They make it look so good. That's not exactly how creamy it is though, no way. Plus, the color here looks normal, but in real life, the stuff in the cookies and cream flavor looked grey and whatever is in the chocolate peanut butter flavor looked a bit anemic.

I'll stick to the Stonyfield Farms frozen yogurt I mentioned earlier, but when I'm rich one day, I'm buying myself one of those fancy ice cream makers that plugs into the wall and spits out frozen treats in a matter of minutes.

Monday, May 28, 2012


In June, I will unofficially be taking part in this blogging challenge. This will be difficult, because as many of you already know, I have a hard time spitting out a blog post a week. This means that for a month, I will join those brave writers who post daily. Yikes. Thank Zeus it's only for one month. God I have become lazy.


Good Goddess this stuff rocks
  • I haven't completed the blog post about kids and running that I keep saying I will.
  • Last night I ate half a pint of Stonyfield Farms frozen yogurt with some peanut butter and cereal. 
  • I don't feel bad about eating like that now and then, and I'm sure I will do it again. I mean, it's non-fat ice cream and tastes fucking amazing. So what?
  • I hate Memorial day in Boulder. I don't just dislike it, I absolutely HATE it. It reminds me of how shit like this (image below) is supposed to represent the holidays. There's the Creek Fest, crazy crowds and, of course, the Bolder Boulder. It is too fucking much: 


  • I HATE (so full of hate today!) the Bolder Boulder. Actually, I don't dislike the actual race, I am disappointed in what it has become: An ocean of people flooding the streets of Boulder. My emotions get all fucked up, because while it's cool that people run, there are so many, tooooooo many. Plus, it stopped being fun for me when I could no longer really race. Now it's just another outrageously big reminder of how I'm not a runner...and everyone else on the planet is... and is in Boulder today, running.  
  • While millions of people got up early to run a race, I slept in late. I'll probably go limp around on the trails later. I almost don't care that it will be hot and I'm no longer a runner, only I obviously do or I wouldn't be feeling slightly jealous of those who can run, despite the relief of knowing I no longer have to face all that internal pressure when racing.
  • I'm in a bad mood, and I sometimes want to cut my foot off, as if that would help things. I go through life trying to deal instead of making things happen, but I'm frustrated and angry. 
  • I have a bad case of the grumpies.   >:/  Everything is annoying me today. Maybe it's partly because I had to sit and listen to a "street performer" scream her "songs" at people walking by yesterday while I was at work. Someone needs to tell this lady that she can't sing. I wonder about people like that. Can they not hear how bad they are? When pretty much every customer complains about how awful it is, I know it's not just my overly sensitive ears. 
OK, enough with the bullet/bullshit list. My cat is sleeping pressed up against my leg as I'm typing, and it makes me realize that there can be some really nice moments in life, even when things get hard. I actually hope that those of you who raced today had a good time, raced well and felt good. I guess deep down, I sort of wish I could be a part of it all, even though I prefer the chance to get some extra sleep at this point.

Rather than continue complaining, I'm going to post something my sister posted on her facebook wall and I later shared. My uncle was a soldier in the army during the Korean war. This little blurb gives you an idea of what a courageous man he was. As much as I hate this day for the mess of a holiday it has become around here, I, and many others, do remember what it's supposed to be all about. Like my father, I may not agree with the idea of war, but I respect those who have given their lives, literally and figuratively, for our country. Today I remember my uncle, Nelson. 

                                                  Nelson V brittin

Friday, May 25, 2012


Oh, never mind. I had a little post that got deleted, but I got it back.

I've been sick all week. Wow. I have had a fever and felt really crummy the first part of the week. I took three days completely off and haven't really been able to get back into things fully yet. Man, I was dragging. What's weird is that I felt like I was eating more while sick than when healthy and active. I guess the fever and stress require extra calories or something. Who knew sleeping in bed could count as a workout? It's fine, because I can't worry about what I'm eating when I'm sick. I crave sweets and comfort food and generally don't have the energy to fight it when my body is working on getting well.

The good news is that I am slowly starting to feel better, though things are a bit of a mess in my head. I seem to get emotionally and mentally down when physically down. Plus, my first outing yesterday (I'm not actually going to call it a run) didn't go that well. My foot is still very sore. I'm still struggling with things not going as planned down there.

So, another video for you all, but I promise that a real blog post is in the works. I'm tossing together some ideas about kids and running.

In the meantime, here's a reminder that when you least expect it, expect it:

And a random one just for the hell of it:

Monday, May 21, 2012

A little bit lost

I finally finished rewriting my manuscript. After a few days of feeling good about it, now I'm all insecure and worried. It doesn't help that there are other things going on in life that are cause for concern. Mostly I'm irritated and want to close off the world for a day...or three.

After reading a blog post about pushing kids in running, I wanted to get into a post about kids, parents, coaches and sports, but my brain is too tired. It will have to wait. Yes, it's one of those days.

In the meantime, here's a video a facebook friend posted that I think people might like:

                                                               You vs You're

Check back in a few days for some more substantial musings.

I'll add that this (see image below) is the one and only time that chocolate hasn't appealed to me. It's interesting, but more than a little bit creepy:

Chocolate skulls

By the way, I just spent $25.00 on chocolate. It included two truffles, a chocolate bar and "The Cluster", which is one of the most intriguing chocolate creations around. Yum!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I can't seem to snap out of this fatigue. It leads to SO much procrastination. Wow.

Perhaps staying up into the wee hours writing and reading isn't helping. Now that my foot is phucked, I guess I'm lacking motivation to put a ton of effort into training. On some level, I'm glad I can joggle- I think that's the term for jogging with a little wobble from the limp. I noticed that I've still got a bit of atrophy going on in my left ankle. That probably doesn't help matters. In short, I'm feeling a tad defeated.

Recently, I picked up Andre Agassi's book called "Open." My brother suggested it some time ago. So far, I am really liking it. It is *well written, which adds to why I like it. Lately, because I'm rewriting my manuscript (yes, again!) I've been paying attention to writing styles more. Not to put anyone down, but with all the self publishing and blogging going on, anyone can become an author or writer. What I've noticed is that readers are generally quite forgiving as long as the content is good. Sometimes I'm fascinated by what does and doesn't generate a following in terms of blogs. It's not necessarily outstanding writing that causes a stir. However, when great writing meets intriguing content, that's when things become interesting. Really good bloggers don't need a ton of photos, and they can often create fantastic imagery simply by combining the right words. I love anyone who can naturally toss together words in ways most people would never think of doing. I'm desperately drawn to those who can throw out a great simile or metaphor without hesitation. I usually have to think about those kinds of things. I also rely heavily on a thesaurus but really wish I were the type who could think of seven different words to use in a situation BOOM like that. Of course, I would then love to select the absolute perfect one. Every now and then, I get on a roll, and I have a moment of writer's genius. However, sometimes a few days later I realize that what I wrote no longer seems so brilliant.  

I'm generally one who doesn't use quotes, except to set the tone of each of the chapters in my book. It's rare that I post any on facebook, even though I have a long list of them in the quote section of my "about me" page. Here's one I love, exactly for the reasons I mentioned above. It's not often that anyone would throw fabulous and disaster together, but in this case it works so fucking well.

"But Sidney's more than a mere bass player. He's a fabulous disaster. He's a
symbol, a metaphor, he embodies the dementia of a nihilistic generation.
He's a fuckin' star." - Sid and Nancy (Malcolm)

I often get caught up in listening to lyrics. It can be the same phenomenon as with writing. Sometimes great lyrics can make a good tune even better, and sometimes (sorry 3OH3 "do the Hellen Keller and talk with your hips" kills the song for me) what is being said can ruin the song. Other times, who knows what is being said or what the song is about, it just sounds good. I believe in the case of Radiohead, Thom could be singing about taking a dump, and it would sound amazing.

According to Thom Yorke, this song was originally three songs but contains four distinct parts. Though people speculate about the meaning and reference "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", Thom explains that the lyrics came to him at 5AM one morning after what was supposed to be a fun night that turned into the lead singer being surrounded by what has been referred to as "parasitic scene stalkers, intent on extracting every pound of Yorke-flesh." The words came to him, unrelenting, almost as if God had spoken them. Ultimately, the song is about chaos. I admit that I love that when radio stations asked the band for a shorter version, Radiohead refused to edit the song down. Remember when 6-minute songs didn't seem so long? While there's obviously deeper thought that went into the song, Thom insists that, " Basically it's just about chaos, chaos, utter fucking chaos."

Well, I better get back to the rewriting. Apparently I got a little off track on this post, but updates about the book, my foot and life in general to come. Sometimes it's good to get a little distracted with other things, and wow can I get lost in off topic affairs!

*Just a note that Agassi had some help with the writing. J.R. Moehringer was the one who helped put the book together. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Short stories

From short films to short stories, here are three stories that I would suggest:

Swing Time by Kevin Beck:
"Two young, cheerful layabouts transform lazy dreams of making a big splash -- literally -- into an all-consuming endeavor: to secretly build the world's largest operational rope swing. In the process, they are themselves transformed from self-defeating ne'er-do-wells into something else entirely."

The Constant Observer by Beth White:

"Written from the perspective of a cat, this story addresses alcoholism in relationships. When a kitten is adopted by a somewhat functional alcoholic, the young feline is able to watch the self destruction of a troubled man." 

She Was Once A Runner by Anonymous:

“She Was Once a Runner” gives an honest account of a female long distance runner on a Division I college scholarship and the resultant pressure cooker in which she lives. The memoir explores the physical and psychological effects of the Female Athlete Triad on a nineteen year old girl struggling to find her identity amidst a toxic team environment and discouraging parents. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

No go

I'm on day three of not working out, and since I got home at about 1AM this morning, I think my day is going to consist of another nap and....that's about it. My head is in too much of a fog to write anything, really. I do have some wonderful notes that I will sort through later for a blog post. You all will have to wait for it though.

In the meantime, enjoy another video.

A few months ago, my friend, Adam, posted this on his facebook wall. It's one of those short films that is so shocking with twists and turns that it's hard to get out of your head.

I forgot to add that I might have to retract or at least modify my comment about sex not selling. When looking at my blog posts, it turns out that there are certain topics that are definitely more appealing than others as measured by views. While my talks about chocolates and cookies generally generate up to 600 views, the post about the objectification of women happens to have over 2,000 views. As much as I would love to believe that it was my carefully crafted post and wonderful writing skillz in that one that caused such a stir, I can pretty much guarantee it was the risqué photos that did it. I guess that doesn't translate to actually selling anything, but I have to admit that sex does cause people to look. I suppose I addressed this in the actual post, but it has become more evident when looking at actual numbers. Wow.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Getting Out

A little while ago, I mentioned that I accidentally got out of my own way. That doesn't happen often. Letting go of attachments can be a liberating experience, but it's not always easy. After making some progress, there seems to be a large pile of bricks sitting on my creativity again. Boom! Just like that.

Sometimes in watching others, you can learn a lot about yourself, but past experiences can get in the way of true change and progress, unless you are willing to put in work and effort to move forward. Apparently I'm rooting around in the cliche bin today.

I don't trust people, which is odd, because people say I'm too trusting. Maybe I'm too trusting with the wrong people. Actually, I trust one person, maybe a few, but in general I'm not a trusting person.Then again, many of my experiences have reinforced the idea that people can't be trusted. Why trust when you have been let down, disappointed and hurt, so fucking, fucking hurt by others?

I can trust my intuition. It never seems to let me down, even though I ignore it, talk myself out of listening to it and question it. When I have had a deep feeling about something, though, I can't think of a time it was ever off base. Most of the time I will sense shadiness going on before I find any evidence of it, and I haven't been wrong yet. When I can't read a situation, it usually means that something is amiss, too. My first impressions are always dead accurate. My problem is that I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, even when I get flashes of insight that they are full of shit.

It's always interesting to watch someone lie when you know they are spewing bullshit. I'm a horrible liar, mostly because I hate lying and make every effort not to. Some people thrive on it. Honesty was a big part of my recovery, so I try to stick with that.

How does one let go? Letting go is one of those phrases that people toss around, a simple concept that's difficult in practice. If you are able to do it, you know the freedom that emerges when you do, but we are all so good at hanging on.

Have you ever slipped into a situation and then slowly crawled out of it, wondering how the fuck you ever allowed yourself to get into that kind of predicament in the first place? You wonder how you betrayed yourself so badly and ended up so desperately hurt. Then you look at the world through shit-colored glasses, expecting crap everywhere you turn.

And sometimes out of the blue, someone reaches a hand out and pulls you to the other side, allowing you to remember that the world isn't always painful, dark and sad. The strength you thought was gone for good starts to resurface, and you wonder how it ever got so suppressed.

Yeah, the world is a strange place.

This doesn't really relate to anything, but I've been in a TV on the Radio kind of mood lately, and this little song has been floating around in my brain quite a bit: