Alamedan Blogs

I don't often write about the top levels of competitive running, since most of us are so far removed from it. It seems like something from another planet. But this past week in Beijing, the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships have been going on.

Many top track & field athletes think of this meet as even more prestigious than the Olympics (perhaps because it is only track & field, not all those other sports). Monday and Tuesday each included unusual occurrences, both involving American women.

My days all include a little time for checking Facebook, right after I go through my e-mails. Facebook is the primary way I can watch the development of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren so it's of enormous value to me - so much so that I forgive it the crude attempts to sell me things or snag my attention with scantily clad young women and the occasional lurid headlines. It is also a very effective method of building communities.

I heard someone this past week refer to the old saying (a prayer, originally, now often used by organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous) about accepting what you can't control and having courage to take action to control what you can. This is an important concept in physical fitness and comes up in many contexts.

Our lives are complex arrangements that usually take all our time to maintain. Work, school, home care, shopping, maintenance - just getting everything done is a challenge and usually consumes our attention. Until Mother Nature stirs, and then our attention is quickly concentrated, usually on the weather. So here comes another heat wave, another lesson on how Big Mama can command our focus by just pushing the temperature up a few degrees. Whew.

There's an interesting conflict going on right now in the professional running world, one that none of us "regular people" will likely ever be involved in. Nick Symmonds, arguably the best 800-meter runner in the United States (and a Beer Mile enthusiast), has been left off of the U.S. team heading to Beijing for the upcoming World Track & Field Championships.

One of our two cats - Bessie - has diabetes. We're currently settled into a routine: fill her bowl first thing in the morning and then inject one unit of insulin around the nape of her neck. This does seem to be controlling the symptoms - excessive urination being the most obvious - and since she shows no signs of minding the needle, we both go about our business of dealing with the disease methodically.

Everywhere you look these days, you see the phrase "couch to 5k." For the uninitiated, it's a way to describe a training program for people who currently don't or barely exercise, especially in terms of running.

A 5k, which is a little confusing to anyone who regularly uses the metric system because of the missing "m" (i.e., 5km), is 3.1 miles long in 'Murican distance. The attraction of it is that most people can walk a 5k in an hour or so, and can run one in less than 40 minutes, even if they're running at about the slowest possible running pace. Therefore, it's a great introduction to running events.

Physical events become more meaningful as we age. What may have seemed minor when we were younger takes on an added perspective because the consequences are usually more significant.

It was Saturday, January 19 - National Service Day, a holiday encouraging people to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., whose official day of recognition was the following Monday. Ari and Isaac were coming over to spend the night and they were being dropped off after lunch.

When they arrived, we headed to Martin Luther King, Jr. Shoreline Park in Oakland. On the way we discussed the meaning of a service day.

Every city, Alameda very much included, can be mapped in many ways: geographical, population distribution, fauna and flora, wealth, politics and religion. Its most important map for those of us who live here, however, is its commercial one. Food is the basic imperative of life where we go to not just hunt for food but where we go to gather it.

Photo by Marty Beene.

It was kind of hot here in The 'Meda earlier this week.

As those of you who actually live in Alameda already know, we don't get too many days when the temperature rises up over, say, 85 degrees. And most of those occur in the fall when our natural air conditioning (the fog) is on its annual autumn break.

For runners, heat can make training difficult. Even if it's only five degrees warmer than what we're used to, a training run can feel much harder.

So what can we do about it?